307 Old Percy Road, Castleton

(c. late 1800s)
Roll No. 1411-011-050-06900 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Ontario Farmhouse (vernacular)

No. 307 Old Percy Road in Castleton is another of the Ontario Farmhouses found throughout Northumberland County.
Like many houses of this era and architectural style, No. 307 Old Percy Road, has the narrow gauge wooden siding common to the 19th century. It has a broad gable end with a three panel square bay window with a small projected roof and tudor style drip mold on all three facades. Unusually, there is a single door in the gable with the same drip molding. The main entrance is more commonly in the wing (and one assumes into the kitchen).

The roof is a classic cross gable and the double wide “L” shaped wing has a sun room filling in most of the space on the front facade.

However, this house has undergone significant changes over time. There is a standard cross gable
(ie: one facing front and one facing to the right of the front gable). To this footprint has been added an extended shed style roof blending into the gable, and another ground level shed roofed addition on the rear of the building, and finally a small gable roofed addition extending from the extended shed addition.

It is impossible to know when these extensions were added but further research is required to determine if what appears to be an extension was indeed part of the original building or a very early renovation (pre 1900) .

History or Associative Value

Reference to Castleton founder, J.A.Keeler is found in the records in the very early part of the 19th century. By 1834 he owned the 100 acres encompassing this property. In 1885 Wilmot Allan Gerow acquired the subject lots. Census records show a “Jack of all Trades”, to wit, a carriage maker, farmer, carpenter and “agent”. And briefly in the 1890s, he was the proprietor of the Temperance Hotel (later the Oriental Hotel at 1777 Percy Street).

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

307 Old Percy Road, Castleton, Ontario Cramahe Township, Concession 7, Lot 34, Castleton Lot 28

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 the 307 Old Percy Road 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). 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 sold of parcels of this property over the years, and what was left went to his son Joseph Keeler (1824-1881) on 23 September 1854. The younger Keeler sold several Castleton lots, including Lot 28, to Henry Blakley (ca. 1817-?, alternatively spelled in records Blakely and Blakeley) on 13 January 1857. Blakley was listed as a lumber manufacturer in the 1851 census. It is clear that he never occupied Lot 28, because he sold it along with adjacent lots 27 and 29 the next day (14 January 1857) to Cramahe farmer Elnathan Alger (1814-1868). Alger was married to Margaret Jennet Gaffield (1825-1912). Margaret was the daughter of Oliver Gaffield (1799-1873) and the sister of Irena Welton (1836-1908), both of whom were owners of the Farmers Hotel/Welton Hotel on the property immediately to the east. Elnathan and Margaret had five children: Jane (1843-1843), William A. (1847-1917), Mary Ann (1847-1915), Rhoda (1848-1915), and John (1853-1853).

On 5 July 1867, Alger sold Lots 27-29 to his daughter Mary Ann, who had married farmer and cattle dealer Joseph Vassaw (1844-?) in 1862. The Vassaws had four children: Charles (1863-1864), Charlotte (1867-?), Amy Irena (1868-?), and Joseph (1872-1913).

On 15 April 1876 the Vassaws sold Lots 27-29 to Mary Philp (1849-1919, née Bedal), wife of John Wesley Philp (1842-1920), a farmer and tinsmith. The Philps had two children: James Melville (1877-1877) and Myrtle Estella (1879-1921).

The Philps sold the three lots to Wilmot Allan Gerow (1855-1919) on 17 March 1885, and they stayed in the Gerow family from then on, at least through the 1921 cut-off date. Wilmot Gerow was listed variously as waggon and carriage maker, farmer, carpenter, and “agent”. Briefly in the 1890’s he was the proprietor of the Temperance Hotel, just a block to the east on the other side of Percy Street. He was married to Elizabeth Emily Armstrong (1857-1949) and had seven children: Myrtle A. (1880-1928), Dorcas Lillian (1884-1972), Iva May (1886-1973), John Lawson (1887-1911), Wilmot Allan (1889-1908), Emily Georgina (1893-1923), and Margaret Geraldine (1895-1907).

Wilmot and Elizabeth Gerow sold Lots 27-29 to farmer Adolphus Aldridge Murphy (1852-1935) on 28 December 1890. Murphy was the husband of Wilmot Gerow’s sister Agnes Amanda (1861-1949). Adolphus and Agnes had five children: Martha Helen (1880-1887), Sarah Lulu (1881-?), Gertrude S. (1882-?), Thomas Gerow (1883-?), and Henry Aldridge (1888-?).

On 1 August 1892 the property went to another of Wilmot Gerow’s sisters Frances Alma (“Frankie”, 1867-1938), a teacher at the time. Frankie married farmer James E. Arkles (1870-1942) in January 1898. The Arkles sold the property back to Wilmot’s wife Elizabeth on 2 May 1898.

On 7 May 1900 Wilmot and Elizabeth sold Lots 27-29 to Wilmot’s father John Lawson Gerow (1821-1906). John Gerow spent most of his life as a farmer, but bought and sold numerous properties following his retirement, including the Temperance Hotel. Almost immediately on receiving the property from his son, it was provided as a life lease to his second wife, Eunice Jane Bowen (1841-1922). Eunice inherited the property outright when John Gerow died in 1906. Eunice then owned it for the rest of her life.

Property prices need to be taken with a grain of salt because so many of the transactions were between close relatives. Such sales are often below market value. Under other circumstances they can be well above market value, if the sale is intended as a way to shift funds from one family member to another. Bearing that in mind, there were two instances of significant jumps in price. Joseph and Mary Ann Vassaw purchased the property from Mary Ann’s father for $100 in 1867 and sold it nine years later for $400. The purchase prices from then until 1900 were all either $400 or $650 until Wilmot Gerow sold the land to his father for $1500. If the former jump indicates the construction of a dwelling, it occurred between 1867 and 1876. If the latter, it occurred between 1898 and 1900.

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