1804 Percy Street, Castleton

(c.1870s)
Roll No. 1411-011-050-03900 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Gothic Revival Cottage

Just north of the Town Hall on Percy Street in the hamlet of Castleton, stands a charming red brick home in the familiar Gothic Revival style. Of particular interest is the unusually paned Gothic-arched window in the central gable. The decorative bracketing and delicate gingerbread trim accenting the full width verandah, and the evenly balanced columns that support it, together reflect an age of formality and conservative values. In the 1880s, it was home to Michael John Doyle who is listed, in the 1878 Atlas of Northumberland and Durham, as an agent and assessor. He also held the positions of Reeve of Cramahe Township and later, of Country Warden.

The house looks today much as it did in Michael Doyle’s day.

Of particular note is the custom “X” running trim on the porch which can also be seen in the drawing done for the 1878 Atlas.

The windows are four over four double hung and the Gothic arched window in the gable is still there, though it may be a replacement.

There is a large “tail” on the rear of the building – which is one and a half story with narrow gauge horizontal cladding and mullioned windows.

History or Associative Value

Michael John Doyle is listed in the 1878 Atlas of Northumberland and Durham, as an agent and assessor. Conservative Party members often gathered here, and their vigorous political discussions influenced the Doyle’s daughter, Iva. She came to believe strongly in the idea that every Canadian citizen should endeavour to render some form of public service. Her work led to her appointment to the Senate in 1935, under Prime Minister R.B. Bennett, as Canada’s first female Senator.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

When Cramahe Township was first surveyed in the 1790’s a seventh of its land was set aside for crown reserves and another seventh was set aside for clergy reserves. These reserves were rented to tenant farmers. The revenues from the crown reserves went to the government. The revenues from the clergy reserves originally went only to the Church of England (Anglican), but after 1824 the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) was granted a share, and by the 1840s all of the major protestant denominations were included (except the Baptists, who refused to participate). The clergy reserve system came to an end in 1854, when all revenues reverted to the government.

The first official owner of the land on which 1804 Percy Street now stands was the Canada Company. The Canada Company was a private British corporation incorporated in 1826 to aid in the development and colonization of Upper Canada with an emphasis on the Crown and Clergy Reserves. Among the lands acquired by the Canada Company were the southern 100 acres of Concession 7, Lot 34, Cramahe Township, where the western part of Castleton now sits. The Company was granted this land by the Crown on 28 May 1830.

By 1834 the 100 acres were in the hands of Joseph Abbott Keeler (1788-1855) (LINK). No record has been seen of his acquiring them from the Canada Company, although there is an 1881 document certifying that the transfer had indeed been made. The Keelers were involved in the history of the area long before they were official owners of this property, having built a mill in Castleton as early as 1806.

Joseph A. Keeler transferred most of his land holdings in Cramahe Township to his son Joseph (1824-1881) on 23 September 1854, including the southern half of Lot 34. Joseph Keeler and his wife Octavia (née Phillips, 1827-1899) mortgaged the property with the Commercial Bank of Canada on 29 March 1855. The Keeler family apparently didn’t repay the loan because on 27 October 1858 the Commercial Bank sold the Keeler properties to Robert Fisher, who turned around and deeded them back to the Bank on 23 May 1859. Robert Fisher was a merchant living in London, England. In fact, his address was Threadneedle Street, London, which sounds like something out of a Dickens novel. (Actually, the return of the 100 acres to the Bank happened the same year Dickens published A Tale of Two Cities….).

Much of this property, including Castleton Lot 20 where 1804 King Street now stands, was officially returned by the Bank to Joseph Keeler on 14 April 1863. By that time, however, Keeler had already (19 April 1862) sold Lots 19, 20 and 24 to Elisha Alger (1818-1889), a minister in the Christian Church (=Disciples of Christ). Alger was married (1842) to Sarah Ann Gaffield (1822-1906), a granddaughter of early Cramahe settler Nathaniel Gaffield (ca. 1755-ca. 1838). They had two children: Peter (1844-?) and a daughter whose name is unknown (1846-1850). Elisha Alger appears in the 1851 and 1861 Cramahe censuses, but by 1866 he was in Haldimand Township and in 1870 in Warren County, Pennsylvania. He eventually moved to Kansas.

It may be the Alger moved to Haldimand Township in 1864, because on 27 February of that year he sold Lots 19, 20, and 24 to James Hales Reid (1822-1899) of Colborne. Interestingly, Reid had been born in Calcutta, India, as had his father Henry Solomon Reid (1792-1852) before him. This was probably the James H. Reid responsible for the 1862 Reid Plan of Colborne. Although he appears in no Cramahe census, James Hales Reid is listed in later censuses elsewhere as a surveyor. Unfortunately, in the Land Office records he is listed only as “gentleman” or “esquire”. Reid married Eliza Ann Roles (1841-?) in Cramahe Township in 1863 and had at least two children: Jane Caroline (1864-1924) and Harriet Alice (1867-?). He must have arrived in Cramahe after 1861 and left before 1871 because he is absent from Cramahe censuses for both years. His daughter Jane was born in Colborne and his daughter Harriet was born in Madoc, Hastings Co. He probably left in 1866, because that is when he sold Castleton lots 19 and 20 to Charlotte Emily Lapp (1821-1877).

Charlotte Lapp (née Kelley) was the wife of Chester P. Lapp (1819-1890, married 1839), a farmer and gristmill/sawmill operator. The Lapps had 13 children: Charles P. (1840-1909), Robert Jason (1842-1905), Bethany (1843-1895), George Albert (1846-1908), Chester J. (1847-1920), Stephen Hamilton (1849-?), Susan Sarah (1851-1924), Norman (1853-?), Monica (1855-1856), Louisa Matilda (1858-1903), Alberta Alice (1861-1934), Canniff L. (1863-1865), and Levi Willington (1866-1936). The Lapps arrived in Cramahe from Hamilton Township sometime between 1861 and 1871, possibly in 1866 when they bought the property under discussion. As of the 1871 census only Stephen (called Hamilton), Susan, Norman, Louisa, Alberta, and Levi were living with their parents. Charlotte Lapp died in 1877 and her husband died in 1890, both in Castleton.

Charlotte’s daughter Susan, now married to Jason Andrew Jerome (1840-1914), was executrix of her mother’s will. On 14 November 1881, four years after Charlotte died, Susan transferred ownership of the property to her older brother Robert, like his father a farmer and mill operator. Robert Lapp was married in 1865 to Elyda Marilla Griffis (1844-1932) and had four children: Candace Marcella (1867-1913), Ada Florence (1868-1930), Arthur Franklin (1872-1876), and a child who died in infancy (1876-1876).

Robert Lapp retained lots 19 and 20 for only 12 months before selling them on 29 December 1882 to Henry Davey (1853-1888), a Cramahe Township blacksmith and wagon maker. Davey had moved to Cramahe from Haldimand Township sometime between 1879 and 1881. By the time he died of “spinal disease” in 1886 he was living in Percy Township. Possibly he left Cramahe about the time he sold his property in Castleton in 1886. Davey’s wife was Esther Ann Chatterson (1860-?, married 1879) and his children were John Wesley (1880-?), Rosella (1882-?), Ada Evelina (1883-?), and Mary Esther (1885-?). Henry Davey’s wife was a granddaughter of early Cramahe resident Jacob A. Chatterson (1797-1867).

Henry Davey sold Lots 19 and 20 to Castleton physician William J. Douglass (1856-1906) on 2 November 1886. There are Cramahe birth and death records with Douglass’s name on them dated from 1877 through 1894, and this likely is a pretty accurate estimate of his dates of residence in the township. When he sold Lots 19 and 20 in 1894 he was a resident of Cobourg. He died there suddenly of heart failure in 1906. 1894 was also the year Douglass married Emma L. Metcalfe (1872-?), and their only child was never a resident of Cramahe. All of the genealogies found for William Douglass spell his name “Douglas”, but it’s spelled “Douglass” on the Land Office records and on most birth and death records.

William J. Douglass sold Lots 19 and 20 to Michael John Doyle (1838-1911) on 22 September 1894. Doyle was the father of Senator Iva Fallis (1883-1956). He was a native of Colborne who married Jessie Stewart (1848-1921) in 1873. They had two children: William Stewart (1880-1953) and Iva Campbell (1883-1956). Doyle was listed in various sources as a trader, a dealer in fruit trees, a dealer in farm implements, and an “agent”. His daughter would marry Howard Taylor Fallis (1879-?) in 1909 and eventually be named to the Senate in 1935. She was the second female Senator, and the first Conservative female Senator, in Canadian history.

Michael Doyle sold the property to retired farmer John Lawson Gerow (1822-1906) on 26 December 1896, and Gerow sold it back (with the addition of Castleton Lot 18) to Doyle on 4 February 1899. Gerow paid Doyle $1200 for the property but Doyle only paid Gerow $1 to get it back.

Doyle sold the property again on 27 May 1901 to butcher and retired farmer Thomas Titus (1831-1910). Titus was married to Sarah Noxon (1831-?).

On 23 April 1903 Titus sold the property to another Castleton physician, Ethelbert Elijah Latta (1877-1945). His wife was Carrie Muirhead (1879-1949, married 1904). They had no children that I can find. Latta served in both the Boer War and the First World War.

Ethelbert Latta sold Lots 18-20 to merchant Richard Sidney Newman (1869-1952) on 24 April 1903. Newman married Nettie Blanche Pettibone (1874-1939) in 1898 and had three daughters: Jennie Muriel (1898-1987), Helen Blanche (1900-1986), and Gertrude Sophia (1902-2006). On 23 January 1911 Richard Newman transferred ownership to his wife who transferred it to Sophia Newman (1851-1934) on 8 February 1918. Sophia Newman (née Medd) was married in 1883 to Richard Sidney Newman’s uncle Richard Newman (1849-1931).
Who built the house? It has been suggested that it dates to the 1870’s but it also says that Michael Doyle was resident there from about that time. It seems unlikely that he lived there that early. If he had, he would have had to have rented it from Charlotte Lapp, Robert Lapp, Henry Davey, and William Douglass in sequence before he finally purchased it in 1894. This seems improbable. If it really does date from the 1870’s it would seem most likely that the Lapp family built it, since they owned the property from 1866 to 1886. This is made more likely by the fact that Charlotte Lapp bought Lots 19 and 20 for $125 in 1866 and her brother sold them 20 years later for $950. A likely cause for this increase in price was the construction of a house on the property.

Who lived in the house? As just outlined, it seems unlikely that Michael Doyle lived there before 1894. Before that probably some or all of the landowners lived there, although there is no direct evidence for any of them.

This house is most famous as the childhood residence of Iva Fallis. “How Firm a Foundation” (Argyris 2000) indicates that Iva Doyle was born on a farm outside Castleton and that she lived in town at two locations. One was at the address of interest here. The farm on which she was born in 1883 must have been owned by someone else at the time because her father didn’t own any farm properties in Cramahe until 1894 when he bought 100 acres north of Castleton in the southern quarters of Lots 33 and 34, Concession 8 from James Morginson (1863-1916). The notes for the 2015 walking tour of Castleton suggest that Michael Doyle’s father William Doyle (1811-?) was living in Concession 9, Lot 35 in 1865 and suggest that his farm there may have been the one on which Iva was born. However, in 1883 Concession 9, Lot 35 was owned in part by Townsend Weekes (1817-1897) and in part by John L. Gerow (1822-1906), not by any member of the Doyle family. It is interesting to note, however, that John L. Gerow is the same man who briefly purchased 1804 Percy Street from Michael Doyle in 1896-1899 (see above). There is no Land Office record of Michael Doyle owning any property in Cramahe at the time of Iva’s birth, although he had owned Lots 112 and 115 along Spring Street (not adjacent to each other) from 1869 to 1879.

By 1886 the Doyles were living in the house at what is now 172 Gould Street in Castleton. Michael Doyle didn’t own this property. They undoubtedly moved to 1804 Percy Street when he bought the property in 1894.

Argyris also says that the Doyles moved to Colborne when Iva was a teenager. There are no records of Michael Doyle buying property in Colborne, so he must have lived there in a house owned by someone else. The most likely time for this move would have been either when Iva’s father sold the house in Castleton to John Gerow in 1896 or when he sold it in 1901 to Thomas Titus. If the former is true, Iva Doyle would have lived in the house at 1804 King Street between the ages of 11 and 13. If the latter, she would have lived there between 11 and 18. The latter might be a bit more likely: Gerow owned 1804 Percy Street for only about 14 months and since he owned numerous other properties in Castleton there is no particular reason to think he lived there.

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