Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Two Hundred Years Ago

Well now this is a challenge. One hundred years ago my ancestors were well established in Ontario. Where were they two hundred years ago. It is hard sometimes to describe Upper Canada as it was two hundred years ago. It was a British colony and utterly dependant on Britain. The majority of the people in Upper Canada were what we call United Empire Loyalists. Population was centered around the Niagara and Kingston. London did not exist. The Talbot Settlement along Lake Erie was just getting going. The process of settling the province was getting underway. The War of 1812 was yet to come.

One branch the Shoemaker’s(from my paternal great grandmother) were already in Pennsylvania. What would be my great great great great great great grandfather Jacob Shoemaker was born sometime around 1676(thank you for the Latter Day Saints research) in Switzerland, and died sometime around 1751 in Pennsylvania. From there it runs Jacob Shoemaker(b.1708 in Germany-d.?), Jacob Shoemaker(b.1754 in Pennsylvania-d.1847 in Waterloo County, Ontario), George Tyson Shoemaker(b.1778 in Pennsylvania-d. 1884 in Waterloo County, Ontario), Jacob D. Shoemaker(b.1799 in Pennsylvania-d. 1902 in Waterloo County, Ontario). Martha Shoemaker(b.1831 in Waterloo County, Ontario-d.1914 in Kent County, Ontario), and my great grandmother Hannah McKay(b.1860-d.1947). The Shoemaker’s were part of a migration of Mennonites to Waterloo County in the 1820’s and 1830’s. One thing that the Hillmans and the Shoemakers had in common was that when they found a Christian name that they liked they ran with it through the generations!

The Hillman’s were still somewhere around the village of Westbury, Wiltshire. George Hillman and Susanna Brown were married in Wiltshire(England and Wales Marriages, 1536-1940. Why did they immigrate? They were farmers, and after the Napoleonic Wars things got tough. The tough times resulted in the Swing Riots of 1830. Perhaps they could see what was happening. The Hillmans immigrated to Canada sometime before 1830, probably around 1828-1829. A connection? Maybe so.

The Turners were from the Highlands. Enough said. I often remark that for the highlanders it could often be a choice between starvation, the British Army, the hangman’s noose, or immigration.

The exception seems to be the Thomas’s who were Cornish. From what I can find out they seem to be villagers not farmers. But then again they did not arrive until the 1890’s.

Two hundred years ago the common thread between all of the families seems to be farming. They were pioneers.

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