13854 Highway 2, Colborne

(c.1850)
Roll No. 1411-011-020-16900 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Gothic Revival Cottage (Ontario Cottage)

No. 13854 Highway 2 (the York/ Kingston Highway) is a residential and commercial property between Colborne and Brighton Ontario in Cramahe Township.

This house is a fine and somewhat larger version of the Gothic revival cottage found throughout the township. Most are three bay, but this is a six bay.

It has the classic gable roof, a chimney at one end, where once there may have been a large central chimney serving multiple fireplaces.

This property has five square windows symmetrically placed on the front facade with multi panes and a substantial door with sidelights and a fan shaped transom (reminiscent of the Georgian style). There is a half moon roofed porch with pillars shielding the door from the elements. There is no gingerbread but there is a large finial in the gable. The black roof and shutters and bright white of the narrow clapboard give the property a striking appearance. The property has a large “tail” which expands the square footage considerably.

It also has a large rural property that currently houses an alpaca farm.

History or Associative Value

Locations with a mill pond and creek were highly desirable, and that is reflected in this property’s many ownership changes and tangled legal issues through the years. There was a mill here by 1812 and the current dwelling by 1850, the land having been granted to the Frint family in 1809. Thomas Howard, miller, John Grover and Margaret Blacklock, reputed to employ 40 to 60 people when the mill spun and wove cloth after 1878, owned and operated the mill but we don’t know who lived in the house, when.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

13854 Highway 2 – Alpaca Farm

This is the alpaca farm on the northeast corner of Hwy. 2 and Little Lake Road in Salem, in the southwestern corner of Lot 22, Concession 2. A prominent historical feature at this location was a millpond on Salem Creek, the remains of which are still visible on aerial photographs.

The earliest record of possible occupation of this site was an account by a great-great granddaughter of Charlotte Gray (1787-1829), a girl who was raised by Matthew Goslee (1757-1830) and his wife Ann Schuyler (1762-1850), which states that when the Goslees arrived in Cramahe in about 1807 they took up residence at the crossing of Salem Creek and the York-Kingston Road. According to the same account, Matthew’s son James D. Goslee (1794-1865) moved to a new home across the stream from his father when he, James, married in 1816. Matthew lived there until his death in 1830. James moved to Colborne sometime before 1850 (see discussion under 91 King Street East, above).

This may all be true, but there are two possible reasons that the Goslee homestead actually may not have been on the property we are discussing here. First, the reference is simply to the crossing of the creek and the road. It doesn’t say whether the Goslees lived north or south of the road. Second, there is no official record of the Goslees every owning property in this area. Of course, not owning the land doesn’t mean they didn’t live on it. It is troublesome, however, that Matthew Goslee did own Lot 17 in Concession 1, just a mile up the road, from 1818 to 1830 and his son owned the adjacent Lot 18 (where Lenna and I both live) from 1823 to 1842. Could they actually have been neighbours in this area rather than on Lot 22? It seems a bit suspicious, although admittedly there is no creek between Lots 17 and 18 to match the memory of one by Matthew Goslee’s granddaughter Elizabeth (1817-1903), who was 13 years old when Matthew died.

Official ownership of Lot 22, Concession 2 began when it was granted by the Crown to John Frint on 3 March 1809. “Frint” is often spelled “Frent”, “Frient” or “Freint” in records. I don’t know how the Frint-Frent-Frient-Freints spelled their name at the time.

John Frint transferred ownership of Lot 22 to Henry Frint (1770-1850) on 30 April 1811. I don’t know for sure who John Frint was. Henry’s father was John Frint (ca. 1845-?) and he may have been the first owner of Lot 22. However, father John was 64 years old in 1809 and it is possible that the John Frint who first owned this property was another man (possibly Henry Frint’s brother?). Unfortunately, I can’t find any genealogies listing family members.

Henry Frint married Ellen Gould (1801-1876) in 1822. I haven’t seen any reference to children. The 1842 census listed him as a farmer.

On 29 September 1846 Henry Frint sold the southeastern part of Lot 22 as well as adjoining areas in other Lots, to Zadock J. Harnden (1808-1882). This was the first sale of property directly associated with the mill, although a grist mill and sawmill were present by 1812. Harnden appeared in Cramahe censuses only in 1842, before he purchased the mill property. He sold the property in 1849 and from the 1851 census onward he was a resident of Brighton Twp. Since he was a Cramahe resident before purchasing the mill property, I wonder if maybe he didn’t run the mill for the Frints before buying it (although in subsequent censuses he was listed as a farmer). We can pin down his presence in Cramahe a bit more precisely because two of his children were born there in 1836 and 1839, while a child born in 1832 was born in Brighton Twp. Zadock Harnden married Sarah Glover (1818-1874) and had seven children: John A. (1834-1884), Melissa (1836-1921), Charles W. (1839-?), Hester (1840-?), Alice Sophronia (1850-1934), Stanton (1855-?), and Zachariah (1856-?).

Next there comes a string of owners, none of whom, I am pretty sure, were resident on the property:

Zadock Harnden sold the mill property to John Merriam Grover (1815-1888) and George Alexander Grover (1849-1897) of Colborne on 16 October 1849. John M. Grover was the husband of Elizabeth Goslee (1817-1903), daughter of James D. Goslee and sister of George Goslee, all of whom appear elsewhere in this write-up. Oddly, the only George Alexander Grover I can find was the son of John Grover’s brother Peregrine Maitland Grover (1817-1885) and actually born in about 1849. Unless there was another George Alexander Grover, one of the new owners of the mill property in 1849 was a baby.

The mill was up for sale in 1853 because the following advertisement appeared that year in the Brighton Sentinel (cited by McBurley and Myers, 1979):

For Sale: That splendid WATER POWER on the main road, two miles east of the village of Colborne, so well known as the Freint’s Mills, Property the best privilege for Flouring Mills or a Factory in the County having 23 feet head and fall – with a never failing stream of water. There is … an excellent Sawmill in active production, with Flume nearly new and sufficiently large to admit water for extensive machinery. There are 31 acres of land with good Blacksmith Shop, two Dwelling Houses and several out Houses, etc. connected with the premises. … The house was built in 1850. Its size and design suggest the prosperity that could attend settlement on a prime site with a good stream.”

Again in 1856, the Colborne Transcript had the following add (cited by Argyris):

For Sale: The whole of lot 31 in the 3rd Concession, Township of Cramahe, containing 200 acres—over 100 acres cleared and fenced, and under cultivation, on mile from the village of Colborne, the premises known as the Frient Mills Property.

Since Lot 31, Concession 3 is north rather than east of Colborne, since the Frints never owned any property in that Lot and there are no streams on which a mill might have been placed, and since the “Frient Mills Property” we are discussing here was in Lot 22, Concession 2, I think it’s safe to assume that “lot 31 in the 3rd Concession” in this excerpt is in error.

Apparently the property didn’t sell because it was still associated with John Grover in land records from 1860. It looks like there were some legal issues that year because on 14 January 1860 William Simpson (1842-1921) of Colborne and Milton K. Lockwood (1825-1914) of Brighton, as “assignees” transferred the property back to Zadock Harnden, and on 21/1/1962 Lewis Rousseau (1804-1884) and Charles Easton (1792-1868) of Troy, New York filed a quit- claim grant relinquishing any rights to the property to Harnden. I don’t know why there was any question of their having potential rights in the first place.

Then more legal difficulties: on 2 March 1867 the executors of Henry Frint’s will mortgaged the property with Oliver Gaffield (1799-1873), who then proceeded to win a lawsuit against Zadock Harnden on 3 December 1867. After Gaffield’s death in 1873, the executors of his will transferred the property to James Monroe Merriman who later the same day (3 July 1873) transferred it to Nathaniel Gaffield (1823-1900) and Cornelius Cole (1833-?) as trustees for the estate of Oliver Gaffield. Whew.

On 11 November 1873 Gaffield and Cole sold the mill property to Thomas R. Howard (ca. 1808-ca. 1876) of Colborne, a miller by trade.

On 23 May 1876 Thomas Howard’s widow Calista E. Howard (ca. 1815-?) sold the mill property to Joseph E. Howard (?-?), borrowing the money from Calista. I can’t find any information about these people other than that they were residents of Colborne. I think it is likely that Joseph was the son of Thomas and Calista, but I may be wrong.

On 23 May 1878 Joseph Howard sold the property to Margaret Ann Blacklock (née Stovin, ca. 1826-?) of Hastings. Margaret was the second wife of John Corner Blacklock (1832-1895, m. 1874). They had no children, although John had had some by his previous marriage. Argyris notes that the Blacklocks reportedly employed 40 to 60 people in a factory spinning and weaving cloth.

Legal issues again: The Blacklocks owned the property in 1880 and 1882 because there are records of them acquiring mortgages in those years. The 1880 mortgagor was Joseph Simpson (?) who won a case against Margaret Blacklock in the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice on 9 June 1884. The next record is the sale of the mill property on 12 December 1885 by the executors of the estate of Ephraim Doolittle (ca. 1833-1926) to Patrick George Close (1837-1900), a Toronto real estate broker. Calista Howard had transferred Joseph Howard’s mortgage to Ephraim Doolittle of Haldimand Twp. in 1877. I don’t know what happened to Joseph Simpson’s claim to the property. Whew again.

On 14 January 1885 Patrick Close sold the Mill property to Silence Sophronia Terry (née Sherman, 1839-1899) of Brighton, whose husband Lewis William Riley Terry (1847-1919) was another miller. Argyris says that Riley Terry converted the mill to a grist mill. The Terrys had three sons: William Stanley (1875-?), Francis (1878-?), and Harry (1880-?).

When Silence Terry died in 1899, the property was inherited by her sons William and Harry (5 January 1899). Their father Riley Terry leased it to Geoffrey Teignmouth Clarkson (1878-1949), a Toronto accountant, on 13 June 1900. Riley left Cramahe somewhere around this time, likely when he leased the mill, because he was a resident of Brighton Twp. in 1901.

On 4 March 1903 William and Harry Terry, by now living in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, sold the property to Frank Ventress (1882-1953), a Cramahe farmer. Argyris says that the Terry grist mill was destroyed by fire and replaced by a much smaller mill operated by Frank Ventress. Unfortunately she doesn’t say when it was destroyed so I don’t know whether it was during the tenure of Terry, Clarkson, or Ventress.

Do you remember my showing you the graffiti on the door inside our shed that says “Maud married December 15, 1901”? Well, Frank Ventress was the man she married. Maud was Maud A. Fraser (1881-1942), stepdaughter of Albert Arthur (1840-1916), the man who built our house in about 1900. I have seen references to three children: James Frederick (1905-1905), Doris Maude (1907-?), and Florence Gertrude (1910-?).

Frank Ventress retained ownership of the mill property through our 1921 cut-off date. The only other transaction to mention was his sale of a strip of property between Little Lake Road and the creek (where the pale blue building on the east side of the road now stands) to the Salem Cheese Company on 6 November 1916.

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