Debra Honor

To Be or Not to Be, a Sheriff in 1835

 

 

Editor’s Note: This is the seventeenth in a series of articles about the Belle Vue property, most of which have been written by Debra Honor. Honor is a local historian/genealogist and a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy.)

 

 

By Debra Honor UE, PLCGS

 

Holding the Office of Sheriff in the Western District was considered a profitable position in the 1830’s. The lieutenant governors of Upper Canada had the right to appoint their own sheriffs and they picked men who were loyal to the government. Ebenezer Reynolds, the brother of Robert Reynolds of Belle Vue, was appointed as Sheriff of the Western District in 1835.

The Office required that the applicant be a Gentleman of education, character, and property. Ebenezer had been a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Essex Militia and he was much admired.

He must possess an unencumbered real estate to the value of £750 and live near Sandwich, close to the court and jail to be able to perform his duties. In 1833, Ebenezer traded his property in Colchester for a property in Sandwich each valued at £750.

He was prohibited from participating in any Mercantile Business or Speculation.

He must pay bond of £4,000 securities to the government.

Traditionally the sheriff received a salary of £50 per annum. However, a new Act regulating the Office of Sheriff removed this salary and Ebenezer did not receive one. A sheriff’s income came from the fees he charged for his duties which were: selling land for non-payment of taxes, making arrests, summoning jurors, administering writs of the court, keeping the jails and executing sentences passed, including hangings.

Ebenezer told the new sheriff, Robert Lachlan, that the fees on average were no more than £100 per annum and from those fees, he was to deduct the travelling expenses to perform his arduous duties, frequently amounting to more than the mileage allowed. The Western District included Essex, Kent and Lambton counties.

Ebenezer explained to the government that he did not hold any other government office that received fees, except the office of the Sheriff, and that being prohibited from participating in any Mercantile Business or Speculation that might enable him to keep up a “Decency of appearance becoming the respectability of said Office,” he requested a salary. The government refused his request and Ebenezer felt obliged to resign in 1837.

In 1838, Robert Lachlan, Sheriff of the Western District, wrote in the Western Herald his own plea to the government stating, “that no Public Office can be expected to be well filled, unless its holder be suitably remunerated.”

Please support our fundraising campaign. One hundred per cent of your contribution will be used for restoration of the Belle Vue House. You will receive a full tax receipt and a Belle Vue gift. Visit amherstburg.ca/donate to help us open up Belle Vue once again or visit www.bellevueconservancy.com for more information!

Ebenezer Reynolds, of Stowe, Colchester

 

 

(Editor’s Note: This is the sixteenth in a series of articles about the Belle Vue property, most of which have been written by Debra Honor. Honor is a local historian/genealogist and a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy.)

 

By Debra Honor UE, PLCGS

 

Thomas Reynolds family had three sons and two daughters. We read a lot about Robert, Catherine and Margaret, but not much is said of brothers Thomas Augustus and Ebenezer. Thomas Augustus joined the Royal Navy and moved away to England. Ebenezer has a story of his own in Essex County.

Born in 1778 at Detroit, Ebenezer grew up throughout the American Revolution. When Detroit was handed over to the Americans in 1796, he moved with his family to the new fort at Amherstburg. By 1803, at the age of 25, he was in partnership with his younger brother Robert, age 21, as merchants on First Street (now Dalhousie St.). That same year, Ebenezer married Rose Bouchette, daughter of Commander Jean Baptiste Bouchette of the Provincial Marines on 17 October 1803 at St. John’s Church in Sandwich.

By 1811, Ebenezer was farming on Lot 88 Concession 1 Colchester; the farm his father, Thomas, received as a Loyalist in the New Settlement. The farm was still owned by his father.

(Special to the RTT)

When war broke out in 1812, Ebenezer was a Major in the First Essex Militia under the command of Colonel Matthew Elliott. Ebenezer was present at the capture of Detroit with General Brock and Tecumseh. He fought at the Battle of Frenchtown (River Raisin), Fort Meigs and Fort Miami in 1813. On the 21 September 1813, Ebenezer achieved the rank of Lt.-Colonel of the 1st and 2nd Essex Militia.

After the war, in 1815, he purchased Lot 87, the farm beside his farm and the next year he purchased Lot 88 from his mother, Jean Reynolds. Ebenezer built himself a beautiful home that he named, Stowe, of which his sister, Catherine drew a picture and sent to their brother, Thomas in England.

In 1833, Ebenezer moved to Sandwich to become the Sheriff of the Western District. He remained the Sheriff for 3 years, finally resigning over the poor payment of the position. In 1851, Rose Reynolds his wife, died in Sandwich and was buried at Assumption Church since she was Catholic. Ebenezer moved to Amherstburg to live with his brother, Robert at Belle Vue, where he passed away on 11 December 1854 and was buried at Christ Church Anglican.

Please support our fundraising campaign. One hundred per cent of your contribution will be used for restoration of the Belle Vue House. You will receive a full tax receipt and a Belle Vue gift. Visit amherstburg.ca/donate to help us open up Belle Vue once again or visit www.bellevueconservancy.com for more information!

 

Painters in the Reynolds Family

 

By Debra Honor UE, PLCGS

 

(Editor’s Note: This is the fifteenth in a series of articles regarding the Belle Vue house and its history. Historian/genealogist Debra Honor is a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy.)

Among the children of Thomas and Jean Reynolds, were two daughters, Margaret and Catherine Reynolds. They never married, but they have become famous as painters.

Margaret Reynolds was born in Scotland in 1765. She was the oldest child of this family. Catherine Reynolds was born in Detroit, Quebec in 1784 as the youngest child. (Detroit was part of the Province of Quebec after 1760 when the British took over New France, until 1796, when it was handed over to the United States of America.) Therefore, Catherine has been named Canada’s earliest Canadian born female artist. Both women are recognized now for their artistic talent. Until recently, Catherine was considered the sole artist.

(Special to the RTT)

The discovery to the contrary was made in the 1980’s when the painting “View of Amherstburg 1812”, which had been attributed to Catherine, was restored and cleaned revealing the signature “Margaret Reynolds.” Art historians have since revisited the paintings and are attributing some to Margaret and some to Catherine.

The Royal Ontario Museum has a painting by Catherine Reynolds of the Amherstburg waterfront about 1850 from the same vantage point as the 1812 painting. Fort Malden N. H. S. had an artist paint a copy of this painting for use as a backdrop in an exhibit, which has now been installed on the back wall of the Amherstburg Town Council Chamber for everyone to admire.

We know Catherine did the paintings of Belle Vue from the back and the painting of the house called Stowe which belonged to her brother, Ebenezer. She sent these to her brother, Thomas Augustus in England to show their prosperity in Canada.

Margaret and Catherine may not have been formally taught in school to draw but with their father’s position, they would have had contact with military officers who were trained in art. Margaret’s paintings are more apt to be true life scenes. Catherine as well did true life scenes but also paintings in which she copied prints her father was able to provide.

(Special to the RTT)

Their skill truly shows in all the paintings that have been discovered.

Please support our fundraising campaign. One hundred per cent of your contribution will be used for restoration of the Belle Vue House. You will receive a full tax receipt and a Belle Vue gift. Visit amherstburg.ca/donate to help us open up Belle Vue once again!

For more information on the Belle Vue Conservancy and its upcoming events, please visit www.bellevueconservancy.com.

Building the Canadian Identity in Amherstburg

 

 

(Editor’s Note: This is the fourteenth in a series of articles regarding the Belle Vue house and its history. Historian/genealogist Debra Honor is a member of the Belle Vue Conservancy.)

 

By Debra Honor UE, PLCGS

 

There was a corps of influential people, who strove to create a Canadian identity in Upper Canada vs. the strong American identity across the river. An example was the American political elections of the 1830’s.

Some of those who were running for office in 1836 and 1840 had fought in the War of 1812.

Richard M. Johnson, in 1836 ran for Vice President with President Martin Van Buren. Johnson was at the Battle of the Thames in which Johnson was given credit for killing Tecumseh. His campaign slogan was “Rumseh, dumseh, Johnson killed Tecumseh.” Van Buren and Johnson won the election for the Democratic party.

In 1840, William Henry Harrison and John Tyler ran for the Republican party using the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too.” In 1811, six months before the War of 1812, William Harrison had gone to Tippecanoe to confront Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet. Tecumseh was not present, but Harrison’s troops destroyed Prophetstown. It was considered a great American victory. In 1813, Harrison also commanded the American troops at the Battle of the Thames where Tecumseh was killed.

Robert Reynolds

How did this American hatred of Tecumseh compare with the Canadians in Upper Canada? Many of the men in the area had known and fought beside Tecumseh. They knew his great bravery and thought he should be honoured and commemorated.

In the Western Herald newspaper of June 17, 1841, many prominent men proposed to erect a monument to show their respect for Tecumseh. A monument had been erected to commemorate Isaac Brock. So, a memorial should also be made to the great warrior, Tecumseh.

Rev. Cheyne and George Bullock resolved: “That although this may be the first instance of a civilized people erecting a monument to an untutored Indian, yet the sterling worth and noble conduct of that brave warrior, who sacrificed his life in defence of our country, entitles his memory to our lasting gratitude.”

A committee was formed to collect subscriptions to pay for the monument which included: Hon. James Gordon, Francis Caldwell, Robert Reynolds, J.P., William Duff, J.P., Col. Matthew Elliott, J.P., Col. Wm. Ambridge, J.P., Charles Fortier, J.P., James Dougall, J.P., William Anderton, J.P., Lewis J. Gordon, J.P., George Ironside, Major Rudyard, Andrew Kemp, George Bullock and others.

So, while the Americans demonized Tecumseh, the Canadians of Amherstburg celebrated his greatness by planning the first monument to a First Nations leader, Tecumseh.

Please support our fundraising campaign. One hundred per cent of your contribution will be used for restoration of the Belle Vue House. You will receive a full tax receipt and a Belle Vue gift. Visit amherstburg.ca/donate to help us open up Belle Vue once again!

For more information on the Belle Vue Conservancy and its upcoming events, please visit www.bellevueconservancy.com.

Tragedy experienced at Belle Vue over the years

 

 

(Editor’s Note: This is the twelfth in a series of articles about the Belle Vue property, the eleventh by Debra Honor. Honor is a local historian/genealogist and a member of the the Belle Vue Conservancy.)

 

By Debra Honor UE, PLCGS

 

William Johnston, a local druggist, bought Belle Vue on 1 August 1871. He had married Mary Venn of Detroit in 1859 and to this marriage were born ten children. Only five of those children lived past the death of their parents. There was William, Bella (who died at age 2), Nellie, Stanley George (who died at age 9), Margaret, Charles Henry (who died at age 2), Amy, William (who died at birth), Stella M. and Walter (who died at birth). By the children’s years of birth, it seems that the five oldest were born in Detroit and the five youngest were born at Belle Vue.

The saddest death was that of Stanley George Johnston as described in the Amherstburg Echo, December 25, 1874:

“On Wednesday of this week the residents of Amherstburg and vicinity were startled by the announcement of a sudden death, resulting from the careless handling of firearms. About 11 o’clock in the forenoon of that day, two sons of Mr. Wm. Johnston, of Bellevue, the elder named William about 16 years of age, and the younger named Stanley, about 8 years of age, started to leave their home to go out shooting birds, with a pistol which was in possession of the elder. They went out by the back way, and had just got outside the door, on the verandah, when the elder started to load the pistol, which was at full cock. He appeared to have got it loaded with a ball when it suddenly went off and the ball struck the younger brother in the face. The servant hearing the report opened the door, when the young lad fell into the house fatally wounded, as he only gave two or three grasps, and then expired. His brother ran for Dr. Lambert, but of course he could do nothing. Mrs. Johnston was at home, but the father of the lads was absent at his place of business in Detroit, and he was immediately sent for. The grief -stricken parents have the warmest sympathy of their many friends in this neighbourhood, in their sad affliction. The event has cast a gloom upon the preparations for the celebration of Christmas, which will be a sorrowful season for the bereaved family.”

Belle Vue has seen its share of sorrow and woe as well as joy through the many years.

Please support our fundraising campaign. One hundred per cent of your contribution will be used for restoration of the Belle Vue House. You will receive a full tax receipt and a Belle Vue gift. Visit amherstburg.ca/donate to help us open up Belle Vue once again or visit www.bellevueconservancy.com for more information!