Reminiscences of Cromar and Canada
Chapter XXIV -
Stewarts, Farquharsons and Fletchers
BEFORE closing this
narrative, centering round the Stewart, Farquharson and Fletcher
families, it is desirable to give a brief account of the branches to
which they have spread.
Beginning with the
Stewarts of Newkirk, the sole descendants of "Auld Widow 'Maitland,"
whose story has already been told, it is to be noted that of their
family of three sons and four daughters, three remained in the old
country and four came to Canada.
Of the former group,
Isabella Maitland, the eldest daughter married Alexander Adam who was
manager of the fisheries on the rivers Dee and Don, with residence in
Aberdeen. Their children were Margaret, Nellie, Georgie and David. Their
lives were saddened by the death of their only son David in early
childhood through the accidental discharge of a gun in the hands of an
Mrs. Adam closed her
beautiful and self-sacrificing life in 1908, her husband having
pre-deceased her several years.
Their eldest daughter
'Margaret married Andrew Walker. He died early, leaving four young
children, Amy, Norman, Alexander, and George, with their capable mother,
who had thus to fight life's battle thenceforth alone. Norman and
Alexander served in the great war and came through its many dangers and
Jane Le Grand, the
youngest of the Newkirk daughters, married the Rev. Robert Herries,
minister of the Baptist Church. Their work, both in Belfast and in
England was greatly blessed, but both were cut off while yet
comparatively young, leaving four children, Maitland, Jean, John and
David, the youngest of
the Newkirk family was an advocate in the City of Aberdeen, and died
early and unmarried.
Of those who came to
Canada, John Grassick, the eldest of the said family, as already noted,
took up his residence at Fletcher, Ontario. After a time, he became
Clerk of the Township of Raleigh which office he retained till his death
in 1898. Possessed, as he was, of a keen analytical mind, he sometimes
found himself in opposition to current opinion, but his strict honesty
and kindness of heart won him many friends. His family consisted of
Margaret Ann, David, Frank, Elizabeth, Alexander, James and Donald.
After their father's death, along with their mother they moved to
Detroit where David and Frank had previously settled. There, after
several years of peaceful life, their mother died, and a few years
after, she was followed by both her daughters Elizabeth and Margaret.
David and Alexander are
engaged in the hardware business in the city of Detroit, in which city
Frank also has found congenial occupation.
James is engaged as a
printer in California and Donald lives in New York where he is employed
in literary work.
As already stated,
Francis Beattie, the second son in the Newkirk family, settled on a farm
at Fletcher in the township of Raleigh. There, beside the newly
constructed Canada Southern Railway, he erected a sawmill. This was a
valuable asset to the community creating a demand for various kinds of
timber otherwise locally unsaleable. Handicapped by lack of experience
in the work and also by a too great faith in human nature he did not
find the venture so remunerative as might have been expected.
The outstanding trait of
his character was the unbounded enthusiasm he brought to many causes.
The church, the Sunday School, the choir, the teaching of singing by the
sol-fa method, the work of Presbytery and attendance at the General
Assembly to which he was often a Commissioner, the keeping up of
services in South Buxton, all had undisputed claims on his time and
energy. It was natural, then, that on leaving the old home in 1891 he
should be drawn into the mission work of the church in Manitoba. and
throw into it all his wonted enthusiasm. After serving in the districts
of Belmont, Carman, Hathwell and Morden where in his later days he
lived, he entered into his rest in June 1914, just as the nations were
whetting their swords for the great war.
His wife, my sister
Betty, the eldest, and, in early years the leader in our family, has
been often mentioned in this Record. In the home and Community at
Fletcher, and afterward, in Manitoba, her life, of service and devotion,
and her clear-thinking force of character and unquestioning fidelity to
the highest ideals make her memory a rich heritage not only to her own
large family, but also to all who knew her. Five years after her
husband's death she passed away at the home of her daughter in New York
and was buried beside her husband on the hillside overlooking Morden and
the surrounding prairies where her home for years had been. Here lie
with them their son Charles Farquharson whose promising career closed in
1905, and Francis John, manager of an Alberta bank and father of a
family, who died in 1929.
In many ways their family
stands out as distinguished. The three of their daughters who are
married, were all linked with professional men. Margaret Maria, the
eldest married Alex. Manson, a Presbyterian minister, and has four
daughters - Christena (Mrs. Read), Catherine (Mrs. Ker), Isabella and
Helen (Mrs. Newman), and two sons, Charles and George.
Elizabeth Jane, the
second daughter married Charles T. Sharpe, a physician now in New York,
and has two sons Harry Edward, and Charles Stewart.
Annie Mary, the fifth
daughter, married William McKillican, the dean of the Agricultural
College in Winnipeg, and has a daughter Mary Elizabeth.
The daughters who are
unmarried have, each, a distinguished record, all being graduates of
Columbia University in New York. Isabella Maitland has the degree of
M.A. and is professor of Nursing Education at Teacher's College, and
head of that department in Columbia University. Helen Gordon also holds
the M.A. degree and is now the Director of the Public Library Commission
in British Columbia, and Jessie, the youngest of the family holds the
degree of B.S. conferred on her by the same University.
David Alexander, the
eldest, and now the only surviving son is Medical Superintendent of the
Tubercular Sanatorium of Manitoba at Ninette, and has recently had
conferred upon him by his Alma Mater, the University of Manitoba, the
degree of L.L.D.
He married Ida Bradshaw
and has a son David Bradshaw.
It is pleasing to know
that the same spirit of courage and devotion to duty seems to have
descended to the third generation. Catherine, a member of the
Manson-Stewart family heard the call of, and fitted herself for service
in, the Foreign Missionary field. Soon came an invitation to such
service in distant China. Promptly she bade farewell to parents and
friends, and was soon at work amongst the Chinese. There she met with
and eventually married Rev. Lawrence Ker, a native of New Zealand
together with whom, she has been recently visiting friends in Western
Isabel, her sister is a
graduate of Columbia University, and is now in charge of the nursing
department in McGill University. All the young folks in all these
families arc, in like manner, pressing forward in courses that are
honourable and distinctive. Maria Louisa (Mrs. Harry Forbes) the third
daughter of the Newkirk family, after her husband's death in 1903, took
up residence in Toronto with her son Harry Stewart, where they remained
till the latter had completed his course preparatory to service in the
Presbyterian ministry. She accompanied hint when he went as a missionary
to China, and there stayed for several years, doing what she could in
behalf of the Chinese People whose highest interests she had very much
at heart. In 1914, her son having been made Chaplain of a Chinese
company of volunteers for service as non-combatant workmen in aid of the
British and allied forces at the Western front, she returned to Canada
and thenceforth made her home with her sister in the city of Chatham
where she died in 1921. Her family consisted of Harry Stewart, already
named, and her daughter Lizzie, a bright and winsome girl who died, to
the grief of her parents and all her friends, in 1907, after a few days
illness while on a visit to the home of friends some miles distant from
her own home.
The first family of the
late Harry Forbes are as follows :-Isabella, who married Alexander, son
of the late John G. Stewart, Jean who is a teacher in a school in the
United States and Charles who also has gone to live in the United
States, and Frances who married Wellington Shaw of Tilbury East.
A brief notice of the
different members of our family up to the present time would now seem to
be in order.
Of myself, as the eldest
bearing the family name, I may say that in 1901, I moved to the City of
Chatham as collector of customs which office I held for twenty years,
retiring therefrom in 1921 in accordance with the statutory or
Departmental regulations in that behalf.
In 1923, we celebrated
the fiftieth anniversary of our wedding. None of those who witnessed the
first celebration was present, but the love and esteem expressed by our
children, grand-children, brothers and sisters, nephews, nieces and
cousins, and the kindly greetings from friends near and far, greatly
cheered our hearts and strengthened hope and courage for the days to
Pleasing as such
occasions are, there comes anon the reminder that life is short and that
we all do fade as a leaf. While the earlier part -)f these reminiscences
was passing through the press, my wife died, the end coming on the 17th
of January 1930, after an illness of little more than a week. Her
remains were laid in the Stewart cemetery beside those of our son James
Francis who died twenty-three years earlier. She was the last survivor
of the Stewarts of Newkirk and leaves the memory of a life whose
fragrance of love and faithfulness will abide as a rich heritage to her
children and children's children.
Those of our family who
survived infancy, consisted of three daughters and two sons.
Margaret Isabella, our
eldest daughter, is the wife of Walter W. Yale of Lakefield, Ontario.
Into their home have come two children, Donald Charles and Lois Isabel.
Maria Louisa married
Donald Douglas of Chatham, Ontario, a widower with two daughters,
Margaret Rebecca and Mary Elizabeth whose welcome to her, has added much
to the happiness of her married life.
Vida Stewart, our third
daughter, is a teacher in the kindergarten department of the public
school in Chatham.
Charles David, our only
surviving son, graduated from the University of Toronto with honours in
classics in 1906, and three years later finished his theological course
at Knox College. His first charge was at St. George, from which he later
went to Newbury, and is now the minister of Westminster Church. in
Shortly after his
ordination at St. George, he married Flora Steele who is also a graduate
of Toronto University with honours in Modern Languages. They have three
children, Helen Elizabeth, Donald Steele and Richard Alexander.
James Francis, the
youngest of our family was strong and hearty till his third year when an
attack of measles left in its train pneumonia, empyema and the resultant
spinal curvature which sadly limited his powers. Though thus
handicapped, he Heroically struggled to fit himself for a life of
usefulness and, by his cheerful spirit, not only brightened our home,
but had an inspiring influence on a wider circle of friends. He died in
1907 in the 23rd year of his age.
In 1878 my brother James
graduated from Toronto University with the degree of Bachelor of Arts
winning the silver medal in Philosophy. In 1881 he finished his
theological course at Knox College and during the summer of that year
received a call to the settlement near Rock Lake in 'Manitoba where he
had laboured as a student during the summer of 1880. He accepted the
call, married Miss Janet R. Coutts, eldest daughter of John Coutts of
Tilbury Fast, and, with his bride, set out in December for that western
field. On the fourth of January 1882 he was ordained and inducted into
the pastoral charge of a wide field with its centre at Pilot Mound,
where he laboured for upwards of twenty-four years.
During his ministry he
took an active part in the Home Mission work of the Church. As convener
of that committee in lock Lake Presbytery, he was tireless in his
the wide field tinder his
charge, and became personally known all through :southern Manitoba.
Along with his work in
his Presbytery he was secretary of the Home Mission Committee of the
Synod of Manitoba and the North-west Territories and thus had specials
means of being acquainted with the missionaries and their labours in all
the western provinces. In recognition of his scholarship and tireless
and efficient service, Manitoba College, in which he had been a lecturer
in one of its early sessions, honoured him with the degree of Doctor of
Divinity. The Synod of Manitoba and the North-west Territories
afterwards appointed him their agent with an office in Winnipeg. This
position he held till 1913, when through a general re-arrangement of the
church offices, he was transferred to Toronto. There he remained till
1917, when he retired from the service. For a little over a year he took
charge of a mission in New Glasgow in the Presbytery of Montreal, and
finally accepted an invitation from the Pilot Mound congregation to
spend the evening of his day's with them in a home which they presented
to him and his wife in token of their love and esteem. There he lived in
fellowship with those whom he loved until his death on April 15th 1925.
In the cemetery of Pilot Mound, - within the field where his ministery
began, and among those who loved him to the end his ashes rest.
Since his death, his
widow has resided in Calgary where her sisters live.
My brother Charles very
early manifested an aptitude for work with tools, and in order to fit
himself for carpenter work went to Guelph to be under the guidance of
Charles Thain, an old friend of my father.
Meantime, through the
general break-up of the family, it, seemed as if my poor father were to
be left alone. Charles could not leave his father thus to struggle on
unaided and therefore relinquished his clearly cherished plans, came
home, and with resolute heart, nobly did his part to the very end.
In 1880, he married Mary,
the second daughter of Alexander Ellis, then residing at Amherstburg
whom he had first met while working in Guelph. They lived together in my
father' house, its separate appartments, till his death on the 24th of
.August 1883. His illness was brief and the end came suddenly and
Except for that of
brother Johnny who died in infancy, it was the first breach in our
circle of which any of us had in our recollection, and the stroke was
most keenly felt. He had toiled unselfishly for the others, and to the
reality and strenuousness of that toil, his horny, death-enfolded hands
gave their mute testimony. To me, the vision was most touching and still
My brother William
graduated from Toronto University in 1883 with honours in Philosophy,
and three years later finished his Theological course at Knox College.
He was ordained at Dover in the Chatham Presbytery from which he was
translated to Claude and Mayfield and later moved to Durham, Ontario.
After a rest of two years owing to ill health, he was in 1916 appointed
immigration chaplain representing the Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist
and Congregational Churches at the ports of Quebec, and St. John, New
Brunswick, which office he retained till his retiring from active
service in 1929.
In 1898, he received from
Knox College, on examination, the degree of B.D. and ten years later,
was honoured by receiving from his Alma Mater the honourary degree of
Shortly after his
ordination, he married Annie McDonald the second daughter of the late
John Coutts of Tilbury East. They had one daughter and six sons.
Edgar, their third son, a
merry, laughing child, died after a short illness in 1895, in the second
year of his age.
James McDonald, their
fourth son, in 1914, responded to his country's call and joined the
Thirteeenth, a Highland battalion, as signaller. He event overseas with
the first contingent, and with them crossed to Flanders in February
1915. He was wounded in 1916, and, later, invalided home with a disease
from which he died in November 4th, 1919.
William Stewart, their
second son, after a long illness, died fifteen days later in the 28th
year of his age.
Their mother, at the time, was suffering from a relentless and painful
disease, but she continued the struggle with dauntless spirit for ten
years longer, and died on May 7th, 1929. She was buried beside the
remains of her sons in the Agincourt cemetery. To the last, she retained
her interest, not only in her own family, but in all that pertained to
the welfare of her many friends and acquaintances. There are many who
rise up and call her blessed.
The remaining members of
their family are as follows:-
Jessie Young who is
engaged as public health school nurse in East York, a suburb of Toronto.
Charles Donald, who is
practising medicine at Agincourt, Ontario. In 1918 he married Marion
King. They have been blessed with a daughter Marion Joan.
Ray Fletcher who
graduated in Medicine in 1922 and is now connected with the staff of
Robert Allan Coutts who
is on the staff of The Mail and Empire in Toronto. In 1927 he married
Fredrica, daughter of Frederick William Maclean of Toronto.
My youngest brother
Alexander, after finding the way to a professional career barred owing
to health conditions, settled on a farm which was part of the paternal
estate. In 1891, he married Jane, the eldest daughter of Alfred Williams
of the Township of Dover.
In 1901 he succeeded me
as clerk of Tilbury East Township, an office which he retained till 1917
when he was succeeded by his daughter Ada who, by her previous training,
as her father's assistant and also by her education, not only as a
school teacher, but also as accountant and stenographer, was peculiarly
fitted for that office. This position she held till 1922, when she
resigned therefrom, thus completing the 49th year during which that
office had been held by a member of our family.
In 1928 Ada became the
wife of John Carman Toll and settled on the Toll homestead near
Her three brothers,
Donald Robert, Alfred Alexander and William James, are all working on
the family estate, now enlarged to three farms of 100 acres each. Donald
married Lina Toll and is living on one of the new farms. William James
married Minnie Gardiner and lives on another of the arms, while Alfred
lives with his parents.
My sister Maggie who was
the faithful companion of my father during his declining years, and who
is unmarried, makes her home with my daughter Vida and me and devotes
all her strength and energy towards the comfort and happiness of our
As already stated, all
the members of grand-father Farquharson's family, except my father and
aunts Jane and Margaret, died early. Aunt Jane, the wife of Alexander
Dingwall, had no children. Aunt Margaret, the wife of Donald Farquharson,
the post-master at Ballater, had two sons and two daughters. Annie the
younger daughter, died unmarried. Jane married William Duguid and had a
large family with many branches. While her children and grand-children
tak:! an active part in world affairs in many lands, she, herself, at
the age of ninety, not only maintains a kindly interest in them and her
wider circle of friends, but also continues to cultivate her artistic
tastes and hopes to have a painting ready to be hung in the Aberdeen
exhibition this year. Her brother Robert who was a medical doctor died
in the United States about 1874. Her younger brother Charles Donald, has
three sons and one daughter. He too, keeps up his interest in political
science, and, notwithstanding many disappointments, is still
enthusiastic over his scheme of world-federation which he hopes, would
end wars and bring peace with righteousness.
When I turned to the
section dealing with the Fletchers I hoped to be able to continue the
narration so as to give at least the names of those of the third
generation of my grand-father's descendants. Cousin John's children and
ours were youthful companions, and that, backed, as the latter reminds
me, by a hundred years of happy intimacy between the families gives me a
special interest in their welfare. Also the children of my cousin W. C.
Fletcher, early bereft of their mother and, all too soon, of their
father also, are specially dear to me. Very willingly would I give a
more extended narration of their progress and development as well as
that of the other branches of the family that are similarly related but
space limitations compel me to confine myself to giving a list of my
grand-father's family and their children.
It will he of interest
however, to all, that I give here a paragraph that appeared in The New
York Times of recent date regarding one of the sons of the late Wm. C.
Fletcher, which reads as follows:"The Blue Ribbon Decoration of the
Emperor of Japan, an order of the Crown equal to the sixth order of
Knighthood, has been bestowed upon Dr. A. G. Fletcher of Princeton who,
for twenty years, has worked among lepers. Dr. Fletcher is
superintendent of the leper hospital of the American mission to lepers
at Taiku, Korea."
The children of my
grand-father James FIetcher were as follows: Helen, born in 1.806,
married William Gordon of Aucholzie. Their children were Annie, William
and John. Annie married John Watson, and Maggie married James Gordon.
John died in infancy and William did not marry. We spent many happy days
with them in our childhood and youth and it is a matter of regret that
we have almost lost acquaintance with their children.
Annie, born in 1808,
married Alexander McLeod. Their children were John and Mary. John died
unmarried, and Mary married Peter Jubinville.
John, born in 1809,
married Margaret Smith. Their children were Charlotte, James, John,
William Charles, Helen and David. Charlotte married David Fraser. James,
as a young man went to the gold diggings in British Columbia, moving
thence to Oregon where he married, leaving one daughter. John married
Hannah Forbes. William C. married Elizabeth Fletcher. Helen married
George Adams. David married Catherine Logie, and, after her decease, he
married Janet Holmes. Helen and David are the only survivors of the
David, horn in 1811,
married Rebecca McCombie. Their children were Elizabeth, Tames, Annie,
George, Rebecca and Isabella. Elizabeth, as already noted, married her
cousin Wm. C. Fletcher. Rebecca married George Holmes. The two boys
married and went to the State of Nebraska. Bella died unmarried and
Annie is unmarried.
James, born in 1813,
married Mary Jessamine. Their children were John, William, Jane, Mary
Ann, Margaret Helen and James. Mary Ann and Margaret Helen died within a
few days of each other in early girlhood to the sorrow of all who knew
them. Jane died unmarried, and James has no children.
Margaret, my mother was
bona in 1815. Charles was born in 1817, and Jane in 1819. Both died
William, born in 1821,
married in Manitoba and died in the State of Nebraska. His children are
William, Helen, Jeannette, Charles, Harriet and Myrtle. Helen married
the Rev. Emery Zimmerman.
In closing this record I
am impressed by the reflection that in it there is little of the
spectacular, and perhaps nothing to bring any of the lives therein
reviewed within the charmed circle reserved exclusively for those on
whom Fame has impressed her stamp. It is a record nevertheless, for the
most part, of strenuous lives devoted unselfishly to the well-being and
well-doing of their respective households and for the good of the
communities in the different localities in which, from time to time,
they have lived their lives and on which they had impressed their
influence. Earth's gaudy, fleeting honours are deceptive as well as
transient, but the soul that has been, in God's earthly garden, a sower
of the seeds of Truth and Love, will have a place among the honoured
ones who receive the crown of righteousness that fadeth not away.
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