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Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
Daniel Leitch


DANIEL LEITCH, one of the remaining pioneers of Harwich township, who can still recall the hardships of early Canadian days, was born in April, 1833, in Argyllshire, Scotland.

James and Christina (McFarlane) Leitch, his parents, were born in the same locality in 1798 and 1800 respectively.  In 1848 James Leitch started for Canada by way of New York, taking passage on a sailing-vessel which consumed five weeks on the voyage.  From New York by way of the Erie Canal to Buffalo, and thence by steamboat they reached Port Stanley.  The family remained with Mr. Leitch’s brother-in-law, John McFarlane, near St Thomas, while he traveled on into Howard township, County of Kent, for the purpose of looking up a suitable location for a home.  This he found in the neighbourhood of Botany, where he purchased 100 acres of land, erected a round log cabin, settled his family and cleared up a fine farm.  Here he and his wife died, the latter in August, 1872, and Mr. Leitch in 1880.  They both belonged to the little band of Presbyterians who established the church in that section.  In politics he was a strong Reformer.  Of the children born to them two, Mary and John, died in Scotland, the others being as follows:  Daniel, the eldest of the family, is mentioned below; James, born in 1839, resides on a part of the old homestead, and has a fine farm adjoining (he has never married); Malcolm, born in 1840, died in boyhood at the old homestead; Duncan, born in 1842, who resides on his home farm in Howard, married Kate Anderson, of Howard, and has one daughter, Christina; Alexander, born in 1846, married M. Anderson, and has two children, William and Katy (he lived on the old homestead some years, but is now retired in Chatham); Christina, born in Howard, married Michael Cosgrove, of Ridgetown, and they have three children – James (a teacher in the high schools of Chatham), Beatrice, and Arthur (who is a student of the Chatham College).

Daniel Leitch attended school for a few months before coming to Canada, but never had any educational advantages after settling in this country.  In his locality at that time there were neither schools or students, but while he worked on his father’s farm, and followed agricultural pursuits, he improved his mind in every possible way and is now a well-read, intelligent, self-educated man.  In 1869 he started out in life for himself, marrying Miss Elizabeth Robertson, daughter of the late John and Mary Robertson, old Scotch settlers who came to Canada at a very early date.  When Mr. Leitch and his wife began domestic life the present home farm of 100 acres was merely a great tract of bush land, with a little log cabin located in the clearing.  Mr. Leitch still retains this first home.  His energy and industry have done wonders for his property and he now owns a farm which under his excellent management produces every grain and fruit of this climate.  Mrs. Leitch died in February 1881.  She was one of the faithful members of the Presbyterian Church and a woman of exemplary Christian character.  She was the mother of six children, as follows:  Miss Mary J., born in December, 1869, resides in Chatham; Christina, born in March, 1871, married Edward Cosier, an expert machinist of Chatham, and they have one son, James Morley; James, born August 24th, 1872, was well educated, and is now manager of the home farm; Walter, born in May 1874, died in November, 1899; Duncan, born August 23rd, 1877, works at the carpenter trade; and Isabella, born in March, 1879, resides in Chatham. 

In August, 1882, Mr. Leitch was married (second) to Mrs. Margaret (Bobier) Johnston, widow of Robert Johnston, and the estimable daughter of John and Matilda (Scarlett) Bobier, prominent people of the County of Kent.  His wife was born in 1814 in England, and died in eastern Kansas, where they lived for some years.  In 1857 they settled in Euphemia.  Mrs. Leitch was born in September, 1853, and in 1869 married Robert Johnston.  They settled in Dawn, where he died, leaving her with six surviving children, as follows:  Lunday M., who married Albert Stephenson, of Harwich; James, who was drowned when a young man in the river Thames; John, residing in the County of Kent, who married Lilly Ramsdall, and has had four children – Orla (deceased), Myrell, Lunday and Loran; Rosie, who married Joseph McQuaid, a farmer of Dawn; Thomas W., who lives in Manitoba; Isaac, who resides in Dawn; and Charles E., who resides in the County of Kent.  Mr. and Mrs. Leitch have four surviving children.  The eldest daughter, Anna, born in December, 1883, was given a collegiate education and is at present a student in pharmacy at Bothwell; Maggie M., born in August, 1885, and Pearl, born in January, 1888, reside at home; John died in childhood; and Albert, born in November, 1890, attends the local schools.

Politically Mr. Leitch has always been identified with the Reform party, and for the past ten years he has been the efficient and popular roadmaster.  Religiously he has always worshipped at the Presbyterian Church, which his father and mother attended for so many years.  Mrs. Leitch is a member of the Methodist Church. 

Mr. Leitch can recall many interesting events of his early life in Canada.  In looking over his well-cultivated farm and noting its modern improvements it seems almost impossible that comparatively so few years have gone by since here were heard the howls of the wolf and other wild forest animals, while visits from the equally wild savages were a daily occurrence.  Some of these thrilling stories equal any tale of fiction that has ever been written, and it is interesting to meet those who have participated in such exciting times.  Daniel Leitch needs little personal mention in a work of this kind, for in his locality he is well and widely known.  Being the eldest of the family, many burdens were placed on his young shoulders.  He assisted his parents to the limit of his ability, and has reared a family creditable to himself and his locality.  His neighbours speak of him in terms of the highest praise.

Pages 161-162


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