no image

Early Reminiscences of David Graham

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: [unknown]
Surname/tag: Graham
This page has been accessed 127 times.

Believed to have been first transcribed by Nan Graham in 1926, then converted to digital text by Thomas David Graham in March 1997. Turned into a WikiTree thing by Stuart McCormick on 21 Sep 2020, along with all WikiTree links.

Early Reminiscences of David Graham [1838 - 1928]

I was born in Drumquin Ireland in the year 1838. My father [Robert], mother [Isabella Wilson] and family moved to Pollockshaws, near Glasgow, in the year 1841 where they lived for six years before they sailed for Canada in a sailing boat called the Anchor. It took us six weeks to arrive at Quebec. One peculiarity was that the Captain would not take any passengers except Scots so we had to pass as Scots. We all had the Scottish twang; there were only three or four families that were not Highland Scotch. We numbered over three hundred so you may know we had am amusing time when we all had our cooking done on two fires. It took us a week to come from Quebec to Toronto on a steamer. When we got on this boat the crew rebelled when they saw the passengers and the Captain had to get a barge to put them in but allowed two families, the lowland Scotch, to stay on the steamer; so we had a very pleasant trip up the river and lake to Toronto.

We landed in Toronto in September 1847 and went to Berwick, now Woodbridge, where we had an uncle living. That year the ship fever was very prevalent and after a few weeks the writer took the fever and was a very sick boy. Then my father took it and died leaving my mother with five boys and four girls to take care of in a strange land. The writer and a brother and sister went to live with an uncle near Guelph where we stayed nearly two years. The one thing I regret was that we lived on a farm and there was no school that I could go to, so I lost two years schooling when I was between nine and eleven years of age.

I then started out for myself and my first wages were two dollars per month and board working in a woollen mill at Berwick. Next year I received three dollars per month. When the mill at Berwick closed I went to Streetsville to work in Barber Brothers woollen mill and received four dollars a month and five dollars a month the second year. At the end of that time I had saved fifty dollars.

As my health was not very good from confinement in the factory I undertook to try the bush for a change and along with a chum by the name of William Bradford started out on foot to take a bush farm. We landed near Paisley where some friends lived. I got 100 acres in the Township of Bruce for which I was to pay $200, twenty dollars down and the balance in instalments. I might say we walked from Streetsville to Southampton where the land agency was; then on to the farm. We put up a shanty and covered it with split logs. I made the door from a pine log split and split down to one inch boards as the nearest sawmill was ten miles away with no roads. I remember well how the mosquitoes and the black flies used to take their satisfaction out of us. We did this in May and June and then started for the East where I worked with a farmer named Longhouse for two months, and then started back for the farm in Bruce. My friend Bradford did not go with me. I travelled this road five or six times in all on foot and on one trip drove a cow all the way.

I remember well my first experience alone in the bush. I cut a few small trees but could not get them down, so I went to a neighbor and got a little instruction and after that I was able to manage better. Between September and February I chopped four acres for myself and slashed five acres for another man. I got so that I could knock down five or six trees at once by felling one tree so that it would bring down the others. I kept batch and had to carry my flour ten miles from Paisley on my back through the bush part of the way. I well remember one incident. A bachelor about forty-five or fifty took a notion to take to himself a wife, and chose a young girl 18 years old. He and his intended and her sister and myself started for Kincardine which was twenty miles away, the nearest place he could get the job done. He had a good yoke of oxen so he took a grist of wheat with him to get ground. By the first night we had only made ten miles as the snow was deep. Next day we got to Kincardine where we got the license and a preacher and got the job done all right. We started for home the next morning and got within three miles of home and had to put up for the night in a shanty. We would not accept any of their beds as they had none to spare, so we got down before the fire and lay there till morning. We reached home the fourth day about noon with a good grist of flour.

Just after the Russian war work was scarce and I worked at farming. The highest wages I got was $.50 per day or $13.00 per month. In one year and four months I saved $120, and paid it on the farm in Bruce where I chopped in the winter.

On April 1, 1860 I rented the factory where I now live. [Built by Thomas Corbett of wood in 1841.] The first year I made $300, and paid $200 rent. That was my first experience in business here. In 1871 the factory was burned down and I arranged with my father-in-law to rebuild a stone factory for which the neighbors very kindly helped to draw the stone.

A step of great importance in my life was in the year 1856 in September when I gave myself to the Lord to serve him. It helped me in many ways, more particularly in choosing a partner in life. Had I not been a Christian I would not have been able to gain her confidence. We were married on May 2, 1869. Margaret Corbett and I lived together for fifty-five years a happy and contented life. Many times her advise to me was very helpful. We had born to us four children; two of them died in infancy, and Margaret and Thomas who had families of their own. Respected by everyone my wife passed away on February 1st, 1916 full of years and may good works.

The Methodist Church bestowed on me many tokens of good will, making me class leader and Sunday School teacher. For fifty-five years I served as steward, and for forty years as recording steward. I was sent to Annual Conference many times and to General Conference six or seven times. But old age has crept on so I am unable to attend those meetings, but attend Sunday School and worship every Sunday.

My business relations since 1860: When I started in the factory I had just one roll carding machine and fulling mill but the increase of business was so great that I put in two roll carders and had to run them night and day for some years. Then I started manufacturing cloth. I got a second hand condenser and jack from Barber Brothers at Georgetown and made cloth and blankets for the farmers, taking in their wool and giving them what they required. So great was the demand that we had to take the cloth out of the loom and give it to them before it was scoured. The mill was burned down in 1871 and I had very little insurance. I made arrangements with my father-in-law to rebuild; he put a price on the property and I was to build the mill and pay him rent as before. So I put up a stone building and went to the United States and bought a set of carding machines and jack and started to manufacture yarn and cloth for the wholesale trade. After a few years I rented the mill to Ward and Algie who put in knitting machines. After two years Ward left and Algie ran it five years longer, and when he left I started the knitting business myself. This has been continued down to the present day and I have had associated with me in the business my son Thomas, my son-in law Joseph M. Scott, and in later years my grandsons.

I also carried on a store business in Inglewood which my son-in -law managed for years. My business in Clinton started by my endorsing a note for my brother-in-law. When he broke down he persuaded me to take over his woollen mill there and I started with him as manager. After three or four years I found out it was not going to be successful so he sold out the woolen machinery and that left me with power on hand. Electricity was coming into popularity so I started to light the town and rented the building to a party to build organs. They were short of money and got me to endorse for them, so I got mixed up with them and had to go into partnership. Before we got fully started the whole business went up in smoke with very little insurance; my loss was quite heavy. The electric plant grew very fast so I took into partnership Wm. Shannon who ran it for some years but he took sick and passed away. So I took his share and ran it for some years and then sold it to my manager James Stevens for eighteen thousand dollars, being about what it cost me. He paid a thousand dollars down and one hundred dollars per month with interest and made payments promptly out of the plant for several years.

My experience in Owen Sound arose through my arranging to supply wool to Mr Benner and he was to make blankets. After paying expense for making them he was to give me the balance for the wool but I found that it took all the blankets would bring to pay his expenses for making them, so I had to take over the mill and run it. Before six months it went up in smoke, catching fire from the picker; and there was very little insurance to cover the loss.

My experience in farming - I bought a farm of 200 acres for $6,000 paying $1,000 down and $500 per year and interest of $1,100 at the end of ten years. I let the out on shares to my brother James and it more than paid for itself in the ten years. Then I bought 200 acres more in order to secure the water privileges along the Credit. So at one time I was the owner of 500 acres of land but found it was too much to look after so I sold all out but the old homestead.

When the railroads came through [ca. 1883] I thought it well to start a village, and as I owned the three corners I got C.J. Whellock, surveyor, to lay out the village which is now Inglewood, and before very long I had to increase its size. At the start I built a blacksmith's shop and a wagonmaker's shop and gave the men who bought them a long time to pay for them. They only paid eight dollars a month. I also build several houses for workmen who bought them paying five and six dollars a month, and I can say they all made good.

My interest in church work - we joined the M.E. Church on the first line and for many years went to worship there. It was in the country and as the population of the surrounding district was getting smaller and the village of Inglewood was growing we decided to move the church to Inglewood. I agreed with the trustees that if they would give me the old church I would move it over and build it in Inglewood, so with the help of Mr. Thompson who was the carpenter we built it without asking help from anyone till it was finished. It cost us something over $2,000. And when we opened it at the end of the year the members raised a little over $1,000 so we have a comfortable church with a good basement for Sunday School purposes. This was in the year 1889. Our parsonage was at Campbell's Cross. It was a poor building and away from the railway station. We had difficulty in getting a minister, so I made a proposition to the Trustees of the circuit that if they would give me the old parsonage I would build them an up-to-date one in Inglewood. After some difficulty I got them to agree. The new parsonage cost about $2,500 and I got two or three hundred dollars out of the old building and very little help from the circuit at the opening. Some years later I built an addition of three rooms to the Sunday School and put in a room for the public library as they had no place for their books at that time.

In my business I have had many ups and downs but commenced with nothing and by the blessing of God I have a comfortable home and many kind friends and neighbors who respect me and wish me well, and no enemies that I know of.


Original type-written pages believed to have been typed by David's grand-daughter, Nan Graham, in 1926.

This copy has been entered into a word processor by David's great great grandson, Thomas David Graham, March 1997.

For more information contact:

T.D. Graham

351 County Road 18

Bishop's Mills

RR 2 Oxford Station

ON K0G 1T0. Ph.

(613) 258-3978

Fax (613) 258-4989


Comments: 1

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.
Email correction:

Tom Graham [email address removed] (no fax)

posted by Thomas Graham