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Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
Peter Haggart


PETER HAGGART, ex-mayor of Blenheim, and a leading business man of that town, is descended from Scottish ancestry, his great-grandfather, Alexander Haggart, having been a native of Argyllshire, Scotland.  Alexander Haggart married Sarah McPhail, of Argyllshire, who was born In 1752, and they had four sons, Angus, Neil, Colen and John.  The two elder sons, Colen and John, remained in the old country, but in the year 1803 Angus and Neil came with their parents to America, the family settling in Caledonia, New York, a place generally known as Teasel Hollow.  Angus remained in New York State, but the parents, and Neil and his wife, moved to Canada, making a new home in the township of Aldborough, County of Elgin.  There Alexander and his wife passed the remainder of their lives, Mrs. Haggart dying in September, 1820, at the age of 68 years.  They were buried in the cemetery now known as the New Glasgow burying-ground.

Neil Haggart, grandfather of Peter, was born in Scotland in 1779, came to America with his parents, and for some years lived in Caledonia, New York, where he was engaged in carpentering and farming.  In 1815 he and his family moved to Canada, making the journey by boat, and landing at Port Stanley.  They located on a farm in the township of Aldborough, County of Elgin, on the Old Talbot street, and there passed the remainder of their lives.  In 1818 Mr. Haggart walked from Aldborough to Caledonia, New York, and drove back several sheep over to Canada.  He married Isabel McDougall who was born in Athol, Scotland, and came to America with her parents, who settled in Caledonia, New York.  Mr. And Mrs. Haggart had a family of nine children:  Alexander, John, Angus, Neil, Sarah, Duncan, Elizabeth, Mary and James.  The only survivor, Duncan, lives in Livingston county, New York.  The father died in 1851, and the mother in April, 1871, aged 84 years and they are buried in the cemetery near New Glasgow, County of Elgin.

Alexander Haggart, father of Peter, was born February 15th, 1813, in Livingston county, New York, and passed his early life at the home in Aldborough.  Going to New York State he there learned the carpenter’s trade and followed same for several years.  In 1841 he married Elizabeth McDougall, a descendant of the royal family of Stuart, who was born November 14, 1820, daughter of Neil McDougall, who lived on a farm in Livingston county, New York, now occupied by his sons James and peter.  About the time of his marriage Alexander Haggart and his brothers John, Neil and James settled in the locality known for some time as the Haggart settlement (now the Guilds settlement), in the township of Harwich, County of Kent, and they were among the first settlers in that section.  Alexander’s farm, on the Talbot road, is known as Lot 21, Concession 3, Lake Erie Survey.  Mr. Haggart’s life was devoted to farming, and he and his wife died on the farm he had cleared, Mr. Haggart on September 27, 1881, and Mrs. Haggart on January 25, 1888.  They are buried in Evergreen cemetery, at Blenheim.  In politics he was a Reformer, and religiously he was a member of the Presbyterian Church.  Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Haggart had six children born to them:  (1)  Isabella, born December 7, 1844, is residing with her brother Peter, in Blenheim.  (2)  Neil, born July 30, 1846, is now in the mercantile business in Topeka, Kansas.  He married Nancy Dodge, of Ridgetown, Howard township, and they had three children – Alexander, M.D., of Ottawa, Kansas, who married Jennie Oechsle; Theresa, who died in November 1881, and was buried in Evergreen cemetery, Blenheim; and Bertha, living in Topeka.  (3)  John, born December 1, 1850, married Della Thumb, of an old family of the township of Harwich, and is a merchant of Pan Handle, Texas.  (4)  Peter is mentioned below.  (5)  Elizabeth, born July 24, 1858, married Peter Caughell, who was born and reared on a farm on Talbot street, and now resides on the old Haggart homestead; and they have two children, David Alexander and Mary Elizabeth.  (6)  Margaret, born February 13, 1861, died in January, 1863.

Peter Haggart was born May 1, 1853, on the old homestead in Harwich township, where he grew to manhood, and where in the common schools he obtained his education.  He was engaged in farming continuously until 1889, when he came to Blenheim and began to handle beans, seeds and grain.  Starting in a small way, through good management and enterprise he has increased his operations until he now owns two large elevators on the Lake Erie & Detroit railroad, equipped with all modern appliances for handling beans and grain, and gives employment to 50 people, his annual shipments aggregating 200 carloads, at a conservative estimate.  In 1899 Mr. Haggart erected a fine business block on Talbot street, in which his commodious office was located, and the second story of which is occupied by the Blenheim Tribune office.  After being very successfully engaged in the mercantile business for 17 years he decided to retire, and in January, 1904, he sold his bean elevators and business to the Kent Farmers’ Produce Co., Limited, and in April of the same year he sold his brick block and office on Main street to the same company, who are carrying on the business on similar lines, under a board of directors, with Mr. Robert Cummings as manager.

Mr. Haggart takes an active interest in municipal government.  For six years he served as councilman at Blenheim, and for two years from 1899 to 1901, he filled the office of mayor, giving the people of Blenheim a clean, straight, business administration, and upholding the principles of the Reform party.  In December, 1902, he was elected a county commissioner for two years, representing Division No. 6, made up of the municipalities of Harwich and Blenheim.  In religious matters he is a Presbyterian and a member of the Session.  Fraternally his affiliations are with the A.F. & A.M., and the Royal Arch Masons, Lodge of Perfection, Chapter Rose Croix of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of London, with the I.O.O.F., the A.O.U.W. and the Good Templars, and he has always taken an active interest in fraternal organizations.

In 1894 Mr. Haggart married Miss Victoria Shaver, a native of the County of Brant, and a sister of the late Dr. Shaver, for some time a prominent medical man of Blenheim, who died in 1893.  Her father, Hamilton Shaver, was a pioneer of the County of Brant, and was of German descent.  He married Euphonia Burns, who was born in Sligo, Ireland, and whose father was a native of Scotland, and of the same family of Burnses as that to which the poet, Robert Burns, belonged.

Mr. Haggart is one of the substantial and representative men of Blenheim and enjoys in the highest degree the respect and confidence of all who know him.


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