June 1, 2022
While jumping from one website to the next recently I came across a list of prominent citizens of Port Maitland. At the top of the list alphabetically was William Benson. He was the Postmaster and the collector of tolls on the Grand River. Then there was James Darrugh Innkeeper, Imlach & Hicks grist mill mustard factory and general store, Mrs. Maria Logan Innkeeper, James Moss, wharfinger and storekeeper, Charles D Parnell cabinetmaker, John Thompson carpenter, Abraham Thulis carpenter, Allan Thulis carpenter, Rev. Adam Townley Church of England, Rev. Francis Weaver Wesleyan and finally Daniel Weir carpenter.
My article is going to be mostly about Postmasters but I printed these names as a research tool. You see I am hoping someone will tell me more about these people and maybe you will get another article to read.
Yours truly was a Postmaster in four different offices; Campbellville, Stevensville, Binbrook and lastly Caledonia. My wanting to know more about local Postmasters sent me looking at the Library and Archives Canada website for lists of Postmasters which I knew was available as I had looked myself up in the past. By the way a woman Postmaster is not a Postmistress! A Postmistress is the woman the Postmaster has on the side!
My research told me that our William Benson was the first Postmaster at Port Maitland serving from 1853 to 1856. [Thirteen years later I find an Albert Benson as the Postmaster in Stromness across the river in Sherbrooke Twp. I have not been able to determine any relationship to William.] His term as Postmaster ended when the Post Office burnt on July 12, 1893. He was followed by William Imlach November 11, 1865 to December 22 of the same year. He served the post for forty-one days before resigning. William Imlach was the grandson of a very early settler at Port Maitland and person of privilege, John Johnson Lieutenant Colonel of the Bombay engineers and a Companion of Bath. What makes this so interesting is that the same William Imlach who lasted forty-one days as Postmaster is the same William Imlach who wrote numerous articles which became a book “Old Man’s Memories” about Port Maitland but he failed to mention his brief moment as Postmaster. I give you a paragraph from his book in reference to the Dunnville Post Office.
About this time the first postmaster came. His name was A. S. St. John. He was succeeded by John Armour, uncle of Thos. Armour. The last named succeeded his uncle in 1864, and resigned in 1916. He still lives here. The post office was first situated where the Pump House is now. The present site was purchased by Thos. Armour. John Armour was made clerk of the Division Court in 1838.”
Following Mr. Imlach was William Newton 1857-1858. He also resigned his short post as the thriving village’s head honcho. In those days; as the Postmaster represented the Government of the day he was often erroneously thought of as having some authority.
Thus far Port Maitland has had three William’s as their Postmaster. Their next one would be James Moss. James’s first names were William James making four Williams in a row as Postmasters. William James Moss’s term ran from 1858 to 1880 when he passed away. He was now followed by his son James Jr. whose full name was Angus James. His term went from1880 to 1883 when he resigned leaving the Post Office closed for a couple years when his mother the former Rose Anne Walker reopened it on July 1, 1885. The record showed me that Rose continued as Postmaster until September 11, 1935. Actually, she died on September 10th the day before. Her son Roy Walker Moss took it over in an acting position until December 31, 1935 when Thomas Ferris McKee became a Postmaster; a person whom I can remember. Tom as I knew him remained Postmaster until January 1, 1960 when his daughter Jean Weiderick became the second woman Postmaster at Port Maitland. For some reason for a short time it was closed in May and June of 1964. I suspect since it was for only about six weeks Jean may have been sick. [Only speculating] Finally, in Canada Post’s wisdom the Post Office at Port Maitland closed permanently on Sept 15, 1966 and mail was served out of Dunnville.
Now I am going to go over what very little I know about the other people listed as prominent citizens of Port Maitland. The second name was James Darrugh as an Innkeeper. I don’t have any information on him at all and am going to feel very foolish if he was the owner of the Maitland Arms.
Then came the names Imlach and Hicks who were listed as grist mill mustard factory and general store. I am aware that there had been a number of grist mills and possibly a mustard factory at West Port Maitland but I don’t know where or that Imlach and Hicks owned them. Imlach I have already mentioned and I hope one of the Hicks descendents will read this and tell me more about who this man was and where they had their businesses.
Next is Mrs. Maria Logan who was an Innkeeper. I don’t know for sure but I suspect the hotel she kept was the Victoria. Here is why! A Moss married a Susannah Logan. (The A means I don’t know which Moss married Logan!) I do not know the connection to Mrs. Maria Logan but later in 1888 I find the obituary for James Moss of the Victoria Hotel. Coincidence maybe!
James Moss has a name I know. As a child, fishermen flocked to two places at Port Maitland to buy bait and rent boats. One place was at Fred Clay’s and the other which I patronized was Roy Maxwell Moss usually addressed as Max. Our James the wharfinger (somebody who owns or supervises the running of a wharf or group of wharves) and storekeeper was Max’s grandfather.
Thomas Ferris McKee – Postmaster 1935-1960
As for Charles D. Parnell the cabinetmaker; well nothing here either! The same goes for John Thompson the carpenter. This lack of knowing who is who continues for me, however I believe that the last name Thulis for Abraham and Allan both carpenters is incorrectly spelled. I suspect the correct spelling was “Thewlis.”
Rev. Adam Townley Church of England was the Anglican Minister at Christ Church Port Maitland. From the book “History of Christ Church” by Hill King I find the following note.
“Rev. John Townley, 1843-1855, was in charge at the time of consecration, and it is to him, in all probability, must be given the credit of the erection of the first church. He had the care of South Cayuga, Port Maitland and Dunnville, and he lived on the Glebe lands, where NO 6 Service Flying Training School was build during World War II.”
And then a note found on the University of Alberta’s Libraries which you can visit at; https://discoverarchives.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/townley-adam “Rev. Townley originally prepared for the Wesleyan Methodist Church but left to join the Church of England. He was ordained priest in April 1841, serving as curate at Trinity Church in Thornhill [Ontario] for two years. He then served as the first Rector of St. Paul’s church in Dunnville [Ontario]. He was eventually named Canon of Huron Cathedral. Throughout his career, Rev. Townley wrote many articles and pamphlets on church matters. With Rev. Edward H. Dewar, he edited the “Churchman’s Friend,” a monthly publication that ran from 1855-1857.”
If you want to learn more about Rev. Townley you can take a look at this site. https://wcma.pastperfectonline.com/archive/B84AFC8F-3E08-4F9D-B152-426833755590
Rev. Francis Weaver is another mystery as he is listed as Wesleyan. I am not church historian but I don’t recall any denomination of that elk in Port Maitland. He may have been involved with the Underground Railway as the Wesleyan’s were heavily involved in this and Canfield was one of their stations.
This is from the following Methodist Church site. https://wesleyan.ca/about/our-history/#:~:text=The%20formal%20beginnings%20of%20the,Sheridan%2C%20Indiana%5Bx%5D .
The Northern churches gave considerable money and assistance to the “Underground Railroad” from Illinois into Canada, aiding the estimated 20,000 “Freedmen” who had escaped slavery. On May 31, 1843 at Utica New York, the northern church became known as the “Wesleyan Methodist Connection of America.”
Sorry this article finished off with more questions than answers but as mentioned above, maybe someone or someone(s) will send me some information about these lost souls.