Monthly Archives: March 2015

Conrad Stroh – one of the first settlers of Woolwich

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Conrad Stroh standing in front of Captain Thomas Smith's Log House.

Conrad Stroh standing in front of Captain Thomas Smith’s Log House. Image from Region of Waterloo Archives

November 10, 1899 Death of One of the First Settlers of Woolwich On Friday the 13th ult., there died at the home of his son George east of the village of Conestogo, Mr. Conrad Stroh, one of the old pioneers of Woolwich. Deceased was born in Lehrbach Hesse Darmstadt, Germany, Oct 3rd, 1811 and was consequently a little over 88 years old when he died. With his three brothers he left the Vaterland and after a voyage of 47 days reached America and came on to Berlin, where he made his home for a short time. Here he was married by Rev. Bindemann, in 1839 to Miss Annie Marie Oswald who shared his joys and sorrows for some 55 years and predeceased him about 5 years. Afterwards he took up land near West Montrose and a little later a couple of miles east of Elmira and finally he got possession of the homestead opposite the junction of the Conestogo and Grand rivers, where by preserving energy and thrift he and his partner in life succeeded in carving out of the rich virgin forest a comfortable home. Here he spent the remainder of his life with the exception of a few years prior to the death of his wife when they lived in Conestogo. Deceased enjoyed robust health until about a year and a half ago when he had a severe attack of the grippe from which he recovered but which left him in much feebler condition. A few weeks ago he was taken sick and gradually sank until released by death. During this time he had the best attention and care from his son and daughter-in-law for which he expressed his gratitude during his last days. Deceased possessed many good qualities and as a mark of esteem his remains were followed to their last resting place in the Lutheran cemetery at Conestogo by a large concourse of relatives, neighbours and friends. He was one of the founders and a life long member of the Lutheran congregation at Conestogo [St. Matthews] and a staunch Liberal in politics. He leaves behind him four sons and two daughters, all married, 28 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren also three brothers, Yost of Woolwich aged about 77 years, Henry of Waterloo aged 81 years and John of Berlin aged nearly 91 years. Woolwich at the Turn of the Century:1900, (Woolwich Historical Foundation, Woolwich Township, Ontario, Canada, October 2001), p. 42 _____________________________________ CONRAD STROH was one of the mighty hunters of by-gone days. He lived on the banks of the Grand River, about one mile east of Conestogo, and died at the good old age of 87 some eight years ago. Conrad was an unerring marksman, and when he pulled the trigger of the old flint lock the bullet sped with undeviating accuracy to the objective point. A friend and companion of Conrad’s was Jacob Benner, of West Montrose, who was also a Nimrod who had won his reputation by practical and visible results. He, too, was a keen-sighted marksman and prided himself on never missing his aim. Although the two were fast friends there existed a little good-natured rivalry between them regarding the supremacy of marksmanship. One day a test of skill was determined on. Each was to fire at a spot on a certain. tree. Both fired, but on examination only one bullet hole was found. Both claimed it, and a dispute arose which cooled their friendship and threatened an open rupture. In those days the settlers made their own bullets and lead was scarce. Some days afterwards Benner, passing the spot where the trial had taken place, thought to save the lead by cutting out the ball embedded in the tree. Imagine his surprise when he found both bullets in the one hole. Benner communicated the discovery to his friend and the warm comradeship was resumed that was never afterwards broken. Chronicle-Telegraph Newspaper, 100 Years of Progress in Waterloo County Canada Semi-Centennial Souvenir 1856-1906 (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Chronicle-Telegraph Newspaper, 1906) pg 26

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Goldie, an important early family of Waterloo Region

Goldie Family Long Prominent In West Ontario

John Goldie, Founder of the Family In this Province, Located At Ayr in 1844

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By Dr. A.E. Byerly

The recent election in South Wellington, to which the Hon. Lincoln Goldie was returned to office in the Ontario Legislature by a very substantial majority, will recall to many throughout Western Ontario the pioneer history of the Goldie family.

There is likely no name better known in the history of Waterloo and Wellington counties than that of Goldie.  It is unfortunate, however, that only a few of the grandchildren of the original settler, John Goldie, are living in this part of Ontario.  In Guelph there remain but two grandchildren, both distinguished citizens for many years, namely, the Hon. Lincoln Goldie, provincial secretary, and his brother, Roswell Goldie, the well-known historian.

Goldie,John1793-WaterlooRegionHallofFameJohn Goldie, who was the founder of the family in Ontario, was born Marcy 31, 1793, in the parish of Kirkswald, Ayrshire, Scotland, and came to Ayr, Ontario, in the year 1844.  Mr. Goldie was a great lover of plants and flowers and received a thorough training in botany.  He entered university, where he turned his attention to language.  He was married on Waterloo Day, June 15, 1815, to Margaret Ballantyne Smith, daughter of James Smith, a well-known florist and botanist of that day, residing at Monkwood Grove, near Minishant, Ayrshire.

Explores In Canada

Mr. Goldie came to America in 1817 and landed at Halifax, where he did some exploring and also on the north shore of New Brunswick and collected specimens of many plants and flowers, several of them new to science.  Thence he traveled to Quebec and Montreal, meeting at the later place Frederick Pursh, the celebrated botanist, who presented him with a copy of his book The American Plants.  Mr. Goldie was the discoverer of a beautiful fern near Montreal, which was named by Dr. Hookuc after him, the Aspidium Goldianum. Goldie,John-AspidiumGoldianum  Three shipments of his collections to the old land were lost.  He had been for two years collecting in Canada, New York and New Jersey, and the fruits of those two years research were gone.

However, he was able to get together a goodly collection of plants after his first failures to get them across, and those he took with him on his return to Scotland in the fall of 1819.  He later made trips to Russia and was able to introduce into England a number of plants heretofore unknown in the country.

Mr. Goldie had been so well impressed with the land across the seas that his two sons William and James preceded him to the United States.  Mr. Goldie and the remaining children emigrated from Scotland in 1844 to an area near  Ayr, which they named Greenfield after a place near their home in Scotland.  With Mr. and Mrs. Goldie were their children, John, David, Elizabeth, Jane, Margaret and Mary.  William, who had been in New York, now joined the family in Ayr, but James remained in New York until 1860, when he came to Canada and settled in Guelph.

The Ayr Farm

At the farm near Ayr, Mr. Goldie imported fruit trees, shrubs and plants from England, and in a letter to his son in New York we obtain a picture of the varied activities of the Ontario pioneer.  Quoting from that letter, “We sowed our wheat on the 9th of April.  It looks very well except a bit that has been much hurt by the wine-worm.  David is plowing the high field for our grass crop.  William and I have been very busy rooting out the pine stumps and have made a considerable clearance.  I would strongly advise against buying a wagon, as John can make what we want in that way and money is wanted to pay for our land.  We have wood seasoning for a common wagon.  John has his machinery in operation and it answers well.  He has made several beds and other things and is likely to get plenty of work, but the evil is that the cash is not easily gotten,”

Ayr-GoldieMillingCo-Envelope1904-ebayThe first industry established by the Goldie family along with their farm work was a sawmill, but this was given up in 1849 and the sons, William, John and David worked hard in 1850 to finish building their flour mill, which had been planned along with an oatmeal mill.  In November it was complete, but for several years it was a struggle to keep going.  From 1854 the business began to be a paying one, and at last success came to the young men who had planned, built and struggled along against severe odds and hardships.

Galt-Goldie&McCulluochFoundry-0001-drawingfrom1897The mill at Ayr continued to be run for many years by John Goldie and his son David.  John, Jr., along with his brother-in-law, started a sawmill in the Township of Esquesing, near Acton, which they operated for several years.  However, in 1859, John, Jr., returned to Galt and with Hugh McCulloch bought the Dumfries Foundry.  This establishment is now the largest in Galt and is owned by the sons of John Goldie, Jr., and Hugh McCulloch.

William Goldie, the eldest son, was never married and died in the United States in the early sixties.  John, Jr., died in 1896, David died in 1894, and James in November, 1912.

Elizabeth, the oldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Goldie, Sr., was married to Sydney Smith, of Galt, later of Acton, and she died in 1854, having been born November 9, 1820.  Jane, the second daughter, was married to Andrew McEwan in 1847.  She died in 1862 and left seven children.  Margaret was married to the Rev. Dr. Caven, of Knox College, Toronto, and died May 22, 1913.  Mary married Andrew McIlwraith, of Galt, in 1862 and died in Galt in April, 1911, a family of five surviving her.

John Goldie, Sr., gave up active business in his later life and devoted his time to his beloved flowers and plants.  He died in July 1886, in his 94th year.  His wife died February 21, 1878, in her 87th year.  They were indeed honored pioneers of western Ontario.  The milling business so successfully started by John Goldie and his sons continued to be run by David Goldie, and as it was one of the first mills in Ontario to adopt the roller process of making flour, enjoyed a large measure of success in consequence.  The mill was sold some years ago and passed entirely out of the hands of the Goldie family.  The old homestead at Ayr is still in the possession of the family.

Free Press London Ontario – November 23, 1929 – retyped by Jane Gillard