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John Smith

John Smith, the son of John Smith and Sarah Freeman was was born on November 13, 1747 at Ludgate Hill in New Jersey. On March 10, 1772 he married Anna Roy, daughter of Stephen and Annie Roy and they resided in Sussex Country, New Jersey where he became a magistrate and his first six children were born. They remained loyal to the British Crown and following the Revolutionary War made the long hard journey to Canada, crossing at the Niagara River in 1788.

On this trek, the two youngest children, Abraham and William, were carried in baskets balanced on a horse’s back. At the time they emigrated there were only four or five huts along the Indian Trail from Niagara to Ancaster. Along with other Loyalists, John and his family first settled at the “Forty” and were granted Lot 16, Concessions 1 and 2 in Grimsby Township. In order to distinguish him from a neighbouring John Smith on Lot 17, he was referred to as “Little John”. In 1789 he sold his farm on the escarpment for 40 pounds, five young apple trees, and a spotted cow to Jonathan Woolverton. He then moved to Ancaster where the family took up 1,200 acres of land at what is now Garner’s Corners and up to Fiddlers’ Green Road.

John got the Crown Patent for Lots 46 and 47, Concession 4 where he lived until his death at the age of 99. John’s eldest son Benjamin got the Crown Patent of Lot 48, Concession 4, but he lived with his parents until 1794 when he married Nancy Gordon and moved into a new log cabin he had built on his own lot which became home for their thirteen children. Benjamin kept a diary for over 50 years, which is a wonderful account of pioneer life and is now in the care of the Ontario Archives.

In spite of an arduous life, the Smiths made time for their faith, and were influential in the formation of Bowman Church. In 1800 when settlers were planning a chapel for a place of worship Benjamin started scraping the bark off logs for the meeting house which would not be built until 1808. In 1845 when the log chapel was replaced by one made of bricks, a son of Benjamin was driving a wagonload of bricks to the building site and was killed when the horses bolted free from the wagon, upsetting it.

John’s wife Anna was one of the founding members of the first Methodist class in Ancaster which developed into Bowman Church. A plaque is displayed in the church showing her name.

submitted by Michele Lewis UE

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