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Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
William D. Samson


WILLIAM D. SAMSON, a leading business man of Blenheim, County of Kent, is a member of one of the early pioneer families of that county, being descended from James Samson.  The latter was born in Scotland, where he lived and died, and for many years was the manager of a large estate.  He was twice married, and from James, a child of the second marriage, descends the branch of the family treated of in this article, he being the grandfather of William D.

James Samson (2), the grandfather, was  also born in Scotland, and died in 1818.  He, too, was twice married, and by his second wife had a son, Mungo Fairly Samson, the father of William D., who was born in the Parish of Galston, Ayrshire, Scotland, near the birthplace of the poet, Robert Burns, in 1808.  In 1830 he and his brother William came to St. Catharineís, Ontario, and there remained until 1837. when they removed to Chatham, County of Kent, locating on the Thames river.  Soon after his arrival Mungo F. Samson joined the volunteers in support of the government, in the Rebellion of 1837, but he discovered certain existing conditions which made him during the remainder of his life an uncompromising Liberal.  In 1841 he purchased eighty acres of timber land in Harwich township, one and one-half miles from Blenheim, now known as the Samson homestead, and arranged with a man to erect for him a log cabin to which he could bring his bride, for in 1842 he married Miss Nancy McBrayne.  Upon reaching their property Mr. and Mrs. Samson found no home awaiting them, so until he could build one they lived with R. DeClute.  Later he replaced this primitive cabin with a better house, and on the spot where she began life as the wife of a pioneer resides the bride of sixty-two years ago, aged eighty-five years, her birth having occurred December 24th, 1818.  Sixty years have wrought many changes.  The timber has given way to fields of grain, and in place of the old hamlet of Blenheim, of the days of 1842, stands the present town of fine residences, substantial business blocks and public buildings.  Mrs. Samson is residing with a son and a daughter, and is very active for her age.  Mr. Samson remained upon this property in Harwich township until his death, which occurred February 9th, 1899, and his loss was deeply felt by many outside his home circle.  He led an industrious, useful life, and was always highly respected wherever he was known, for his many sterling qualities of character.  As one of the pioneers of the county, and a public-spirited and active citizen, he occupied a position of influence and high standing.  To himself and wife were born the following children:  Dr. James, for many years one of the most prominent physicians and politicians of Blenheim, in 1898 removed to Windsor, where he is equally prominent; John (deceased) married Mary Nichol, and had two children, Minnie and Maud; Isabella is deceased; William D. is mentioned below; Mary is deceased; David is a resident of Harwich; Effie is deceased; Archie, clerk of the court at Blenheim, married Margaret Goulett, and has four children, James, Duncan, Norma and Wilfred; Malcolm is a resident of Blenheim; Marion married Captain Asa Ribble, mayor of Dresden, and has one daughter, Annie; Annie resides on the home farm.

Mrs. Samsonís family is of Highland Scottish extraction, and her parents John and Mary (Campbell) McBrayne, came to the County of Kent in 1828, locating on the town line between Howard and Harwich townships, where both died, he in 1869, aged eighty-four years, and she in 1870, aged seventy-seven years.  John McBrayne and his brother Archie were both men of considerable educational attainments and both were strong types of that army of Scottish emigrants who came to America in the early half of the past century.  It was Archie McBrayne who, when he found himself settled in the then almost untouched forests of the now wealthy township of Howard, named the district Botany because of its lonely suggestion of Botany Bay, where Englandís convicts were transported to in those days.  The neighbourhood still retains the name of Botany and will for a long time to come.  The paternal grandfather of Mrs. Samson was Malcolm McBrayne, and her maternal grandparents were Archie and Nancy (Fisher) Campbell.

William D. Samson was born on the old homestead in Harwich township June 26th,1851, and there grew to manhood.  At the age of twenty years he began teaching, which he continued for five years, and in 1877 he embarked in a mercantile venture in company with Mr. W. Swanson, under the firm name of Samson & Swanson, the partnership continuing until 1882.  Mr. Samson has now conducted the enterprise alone, and he is now a leading hardware merchant not only of Blenheim, but of Western Ontario.  In addition to carrying on his hardware establishment Mr. Samson runs one of the most up-to-date plumbing and tin-smithing establishments, and he is president of the Western Peat Field Co., organized in 1899, with a capital stock of $100,000.  The plant is located at Rondeau, on the Erie & Huron railroad.

Like his father Mr. Samson is a Liberal, and socially he is a member of the I.O.O.F.  In 1879 he married Miss Maria Hall, a daughter of Joseph Hall, and they have one daughter, Edna. 

Pages 168-170


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