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Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
James Gardiner

JAMES GARDINER.   Among the most highly esteemed residents of the County of Kent is the venerable James Gardiner, who, at the 89th milestone in life’s journey, is still in good health, in possession of all of his faculties, and one of the most genial gentlemen of the city of Chatham.

Mr. Gardiner comes of North of Ireland stock on his mother’s side, and of Scotch blood on the father’s side of the family.  Singleton Gardiner, his grandfather, was born in Ireland about the middle of the 18th century, and there passed his whole life.  His immediate descendants were two sons and one daughter, viz.:  Tomas, Singleton, and Ann, deceased, who became Mrs. Henry Coyne.

Singleton Gardiner (2), son of Singleton, and father of James, in 1805 settled on the line between Putnam and Westchester counties, New York, where he purchased 30 acres of land, a part of which was situated in each county.  His brother and sister also came to the States and settled in the same locality.  Singleton Gardiner lived in the State of New York until 1816, when he removed with his family to Port Talbot, County of Middlesex, Ontario, on the Talbot Road, three miles from the residence of Colonel Talbot, and there purchased 50 acres of land.  In 1825 he sold this property and settled on the Thames river, in the County of Middlesex, having purchased 240 acres of land at Andover, in Little York (Toronto), for $425.  Mr. Gardiner also bought 200 acres on the opposite side of the river from his other property, and on this 200 acres he settled in 1825.  There he died in 1834, at the age of 60 years.  In 1803 he married Ruth Hamilton, who was born in Ireland in 1773, and died in Canada, March 19th, 1858.  To this worthy couple were born two sons and two daughters, available records giving these facts concerning them:  (1)  Mary, who was born in 1804, married John Gibb, and settled on the 240 acre tract purchased at Andover.  She died in 1865 and was the mother of four sons and four daughters, three of her children still surviving – Mrs. Thomas Farwell, of Wallaceburg; Mrs. John Hyslop, of Grand Forks, North Dakota, and John Nelson Gibb, of Wallaceburg, Ontario.  (2)  Deborah, born in 1806, married Geroge Gibb and became the mother of tive children, three of whom survive – Dr. George Gibb, of Blenheim, Mrs. Thomas Neil and Helen.      (3)  William Gardiner, died in 1860.  He was the father of these children:  Adelia, Marcus, of the County of Middlesex; Cecilia, Mrs. Irwin, of St Thomas; Mattie, Mrs. John Porter, of Thamesville; Winifred, Mrs. Petch, a telegraph operator at Tillsonburg; Singleton and William, who were drowned while bathing in the Thames; Isabella, a telegraph operator at Wardsville; and Howard, a farmer in the same locality.

James Gardiner, the youngest member of his parents’ family, was born August 31st, 1814 in Putnam county, New York, and with his father’s family lived in the different places above mentioned.  At the age of twenty years, in 1834, he began his individual career, operating a sawmill, a gristmill and also a farm in the County of Middlesex, the latter being located in Lot 28, first range north of the river.  This property all finally came into his possession, and to its management and cultivation Mr. Gardiner gave his energies until 1870, when, in December of that year, he removed to Chatham, later disposing of the property.  Mr. Gardiner is a man of some means and permits his capital to work for him.  He is a stockholder in the Chatham Loan & Savings Company, of which his son Samuel is manager, and is the oldest member of the board.  Mr. Gardiner has always taken a deep and intelligent interest in general affairs and in the political outlook, voting consistently with the Reform party.  For many years he has been a member of the Methodist Church.  Mr. Gardiner in his interesting reminiscences of the life of his youth takes his hearer back to a very primitive style of living, and to him and others the present generation is indebted for the ease and comfort of to-day.  The pioneers blazed the way.  Mr. Gardiner has in every way been a useful citizen, filling various local positions, and since 1847 has been a justice of the peace.  He has been blessed with good health and bears his weight of years like a much younger man, his genial manner smoothing away many rough places in his long path, both for himself and others.

On February 20th, 1836, Mr. Gardiner was married to Rebecca Fleming, of Alderborough Township, County of Elgin, a daughter of James Fleming and an aunt of Dr. Fleming of Chatham.  A family of five children was born to this union, namely:  (1)  William E., born September 30th, 1837, married Agnes Barr, daughter of the late Dr. Barr, of Chatham.  One son of this marriage, McGregor, married Georgiana Moore by whom he had one daughter Gladys, born in 1898.      (2)  Samuel Flemming, born December 25th, 1839, married Jennie Holmes and they have one son, Samuel Noble.  Samuel F. Gardiner is the capable manager of the Chatham Loan & Savings Company.  (3)  Miss Barbara Ann resides in Chatham and cares for her father, a dutiful daughter and a most estimable lady.   (4)  Jane, married W.G. McGeorge, and died in 1901, leaving children – Ethel, Sybil, Flora and William.  (5)  Matilda married Isaac Coyne, a merchant in Toronto, and they have three sons, DeWitt, Percy and Stanley.  The mother of this family passed out of life in 1891, leaving many who sincerely mourned the loss of so kind and loving a wife, mother and neighbour.

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