6 Norton Lane, Colborne

(c.1890s)
Roll No. 1411-012-010-13100 – Cramahe Township Ontario

American Four Square Vernacular

The American Four Square is a house style popular from the mid-1890s to the late 1930s. It was designed as a reaction to the ornate mass produced elements of the Victorian and other Revival styles popular throughout the last half of the 19th century. The American Four Square was plain, often incorporating handcrafted “honest” woodwork (many Four Square plans were ordered from a mail-order catalog).

This style incorporates elements of the Prairie School and the Craftsman styles. It is also sometimes called the Transitional Period as it bridged the gap between the fanciful Victorians and the next generation.

The American Four Square has a lot in common with Georgian architecture in its square centre hall plan and evenly spaced fenestration, but this house has features of its own.

The hallmarks of the style include a basically square design, two-and- one-half stories high, usually with four large, square rooms to a floor, a center dormer in the half story, and a large front porch with wide
stairs.

Although 6 Norton Lane has many of these features, it does not have the centre dormer nor, one assumes is the half story in use. But it does have a wing that projects out the rear of the building. As is the case of many if not most of the houses of Cramahe township, this property could be described as “vernacular”, as it incorporates features of several styles to produce a functional, aesthetically pleasing style.

No. 6 Norton Lane is one of the very few houses that comprise a tiny lane in the West of the village and it
has great presence and all the features of a fine family home.

History or Associative Value

Joe Keeler sold this lot to a milliner, Jane Wood, in 1859. In 1866 she took out a mortgage with Stephen Thorne, but she obviously defaulted because his estate sold to Etta Frances Shannon in 1900 for $1.00. 1901 Etta sold to Jemima Tuck and when Jemima died in 1906 her son Charles inherited. Two years later, he sold it to Stephen Scripture. In 1914 it was passed on to his wife, Isabella Scripture. In 1919 it was acquired by Nancy Eleanor Simmons. The census shows Simmons living “on Norton Street” in 1921.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

6 Norton Lane Reid Lot 52

Nathaniel Gaffield (ca. 1755-ca. 1838) was the first owner of Concession 2, Lot 32, a 200 acre parcel part of which would later become Reid Lot 52. To read more about Nathaniel Gaffield, … (LINK TO EARLY LANDOWNERS HERE?). Lot 32 is bounded on the south by King Street West, and on the north by Orchard and Purdy Roads. On the east it is bounded by the undeveloped road allowance running north from Ontario Street. On the west the southern half of the Lot is bounded by Percy Street. Percy Street angles northwestward in the northern half of Lot 32, and the western edge of the lot is along the line Percy would have taken if it had headed straight north.

Although he had probably lived there since at least 1797, Gaffield wasn’t officially granted Lot 32 until 13 May 1804. He sold it to Joseph Keeler (1763-1839) on 23 January 1806. For more on the Keeler family… (LINK TO EARLY LANDOWNERS HERE?).

Keeler transferred the southern third of Concession 2, Lot 32 to his son Joseph Abbott Keeler (1788-1855) on 1 January 1824. This was the area now bounded by Ontario Street on the west, Percy Street on the east, and King Street on the south. The northern limit was along the backs of the modern properties along the north side of Park Street.

Over the next 30 years Joseph Abbott Keeler sold off bits and pieces of this land to a variety of people. On 28 September 1854 he transferred what was left of his property in this area to two of his children. Most of it went to his son Joseph Keeler (1824-1881). What would become Reid Lot 52 was included in this transfer.

Joseph Keeler sold Reid Lot 52 to Jane Wood (1829-1898) on 22 December 1859. Jane (née Walker) was the widow of George Wood (1819-?) and I can find reference to a single child: Mary Frances (1852-?). Both George and Jane Wood were immigrants from Britain, although they didn’t arrive together. Jane arrived as a child with her parents Thomas Walker (1797-1854) and Mary Carr (1797-1842). She married George in Cramahe in 1851. Jane Wood was, at least in 1871, a milliner.

On 30 October 1866 Jane Wood mortgaged Lot 52 with Stephen Thorne (1801-?). The next record involving the property showed the executors of Thorne’s estate selling the property in 1901. Sometime between these dates Wood appears to have defaulted on her loan, probably sometime between 1871 and 1881 because she disappeared from Cramahe censuses between those years. She may have gone to Cobourg, suggested by her daughter’s marriage there in 1885. Jane Wood died in Toronto in 1898.

Stephen Thorne was a farmer. His wife was Johanna Jude (1805-?) and they had seven children: George Charles (1825-?), John Thomas (1831-1910), Harriet (1832-?), Elizabeth (1834-?), Jenet (1835-?), Ellen Louisa (1840-?), and Albina (1844-?).

The executors of Stephen Thorne’s estate sold Reid Lot 53 to Etta Frances Shannon (1866-1906) on 31 March 1900. I can’t find much about her except that she was a married woman in 1895, 1900, and 1901 (hence Shannon was not her maiden name) and she was married to George Elisha Alger (1853-1931) by 1906 (so her previous husband, Mr. Shannon, whoever he was, probably died between 1901 and 1906). I also know she was the niece of Stephen Alanson Boyce (1820-1894). She died of tuberculosis of the larynx in 1906. I can’t find any connection between Etta and the Shannons who had owned the adjacent Reid Lot 52 from 1876 and 1893, though it would be quite a coincidence if they weren’t associated somehow. There were four male members of the Shannon family who died in the first decade of the 20th Century, but all of them were married to other women in the period 1895-1901. A final tantalizing bit of evidence is that Etta received Lot 52 from Stephen Thorne’s estate for only $1, suggesting that there might have been a close (family?) relationship between them.

On 11 June 1901 Etta Shannon sold Lot 52 to Martha Jemima Tuck (1860-1906). Many records refer to her simply as “Jemima”, and that is probably the name she went by. She was the wife of Cramahe farmer James H. Tuck (1856-1933). They had three children: Charles Roy (1887-?), Maud Beatrice (1889-1906), and James Frederick (1892-1893).

Jemima died of tuberculosis and the property passed to her son Charles Roy Tuck on 8 December 1906. His Officers’ Declaration Paper for the Canadian Expeditionary Force states that he was a lieutenant in the CASC in 1916, at which time he was a resident of Ottawa and his occupation was “agent”. CASC is the abbreviation for Canadian Army Service Corps, a branch of the Canadian militia which was involved primarily in transportation and supplies. Tuck was married to Cora Read Thompson (1887-?) in 1919 in Toronto, at which time Tuck’s profession was listed as “traveler”. I haven’t found any reference to children.

On 24 August 1908, long before his involvement in the First World War, Charles Tuck passed the property on to Stephen H. Scripture (1853-1915), the husband of Isabella Scripture (née Pirie, 1854-1944), owner of the adjacent property on Reid Lot 53 since 1902 (see discussion under 4 Norton Lane (LINK?)). Stephen Scripture was a machinist and sawmill operator. Stephen and Isabella had a single child who reached adulthood, Eva A. (1891-1981), as well as a son who died in infancy. On 5 January 1914 Stephen passed ownership of Reid Lot 52 to Isabella.

The Scriptures owned both Lots 52 and 53 until they sold Lot 52 to Nancy Eleanor Simmons (née Greenway, 1846-1933) on 25 October 1919. Nancy Simmons would retain the property until her death. Nancy was married to Cramahe farmer George Sanderson (1834-1914) from 1870 until his death, and then at 69 she married prominent Colborne businessman Daniel Lewis Simmons (1830-1915), age 85. Both of her husbands were dead by the time she acquired Reid Lot 52.

Jane Wood paid $60 for Lot 52 in 1859. Stephen Thorne apparently received it because Jane Wood failed to repay her loan from him. As already noted, Etta Shannon got it from Stephen Thorne’s estate for $1. She sold it 15 months later for $650 to Jemima Tuck. Charles Tuck inherited the property in 1906 and he sold it in 1908 to Stephen Scripture for $685. Nancy Simmons bought it in 1919 for $1800. So there was a jump in price from $100 to $650 during the time Jane Wood or Stephen Thorne or Etta Shannon owned the property, and another between 1908 and 1919 when it was owned by the Scriptures. Either of these could represent the construction of a house on the site. Perhaps both of them do. If true, would mean that the current house was built by the Scriptures in the early 20th Century. There could easily have been another one there dating from the 1850’s or 1860’s, built by Jane Wood or Stephen Thorne. I doubt Etta Shannon built anything because she owned the lot only briefly and she owned other properties in town.

Who lived there? Joseph Keeler certainly did not. We have a record of Jane Wood working as a milliner on “Norton Street” in 1871, and although she may have worked at some other address on the street, it seems reasonable to think she probably lived and worked on Reid Lot 52. Stephen Thorne may or may not have lived there, but I am inclined to think not. He owned various other properties in Cramahe and he received Reid Lot as collateral for a defaulted loan to Jane Wood. Similarly, I don’t think Etta Shannon lived there. She owned properties on Church Street East and she only owned Reid Lot 52 for a few months. There is a pretty good chance that the Tuck family lived on the property. They owned it from 1901 to 1908 and owned no other properties in the area. I don’t think the Scriptures lived there: they lived in the house next door on Reid Lot 53. Of course all of this is just speculation; any of it could be wrong. On the other hand, we know that Nancy Simmons did live there, though why she didn’t stay in his house on King Street (now 115 King Street East), I don’t know. That house was sold by the executors of her husband’s estate in 1920 (LINK), and Nancy’s residence in the 1921 census was listed as “Norton Street”. We also know for certain is that the resident of 53 Norton Lane in 1911 was Henry Josiah Morden (1869-1936), who must have rented the house from the Scriptures. Henry Morden was from Brighton, where he was listed as a tinsmith in the 1891 census. He married Elizabeth Jane (“Jennie”) McCracken (1869-1917) in Colborne in 1892. In 1901 he was working as a “foreman” in Haldimand Township. In 1911 he was a tinsmith in Colborne. By 1917 he was living in Toronto, where his wife Jennie died that year. He was employed as a machinist when he married Beatrice Caroline Wright (1874-1925) in Toronto in 1918 and a “manager” when he married Amelia (“Frannie”) Embury (nee Watson, 1879-?) in 1926. He died of a ruptured appendix in Toronto in 1936, by which time he had retired from an auto paint company.

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