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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 older comrade.

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 horrors unwounded.

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.

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 Canada.

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 come.

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 Windsor, Ontario.

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 journeyings over

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 unexpectedly.

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 abides.

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 D.D.

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 Toronto University.

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 Blenheim.

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 household.


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 family.

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 unmarried.

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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