with James Cutting
Former Mayor Michael Wladyka, town historian and archivist, in an address to the September meeting of the East Durham Historical Society, outlined the fascinating role that the pioneer smith family had in shaping the early years of Port Hope.
”Canada is still a very young country and Canadians occupy a place on the threshold of a great future where they may still physically come in contact with the artifacts of our founding families and live in the homes built by them,” he said.
FORTUNATE IN THE PRESERVATION OF OUR EARLY HOMES
”Here in Port Hope we have been most fortunate in the preservation of our early homes and a streetscape that remains one of the most unique in North America.
”It is hoped that through the combined efforts of our citizens who love Port Hope for what it is, our town will be spared the demolition tactics which have wiped out most of the architecture of the last century in other towns across Canada.
”If our heritage foundations, our historical societies and the architectural conservancy organizations are to be successful in their work, they must inspire pride in the community. To accomplish this we must know something of our past and have a sense of direction for our future.
THE FOUNDING FAMILIES OF PORT HOPE
"The story of Port Hope is closely tied in with the story of the early pioneer founding families," he said. "These include: the Elias Smith family, the Myndert Harris family, the Ashfords, the Sculthorpes, the Johnsons, the Stevens, the Waltons, the Wards, the Smarts, the Hattons, the Whiteheads, the Burnhams, the Hawkins the Williams, the Haywards, the Browns, the Brittons, the Caldwells, the Hendersons, the Fowkes, the Scotts, the Kirchoffers and others through the decade
SMITH DESCENDENT CORRECTS A LONGSTANDING HISTORICAL BOOK ERROR AND SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT
"Tonight I would like to touch briefly upon the often-discussed Smith Connection- -Elias Smith.
"Concerning the founding families of Port Hope, Miss Phyllis Smith, a great-great-granddaughter of Elias Smith, wrote me a letter when I was mayor. In it she stated: 'As the last Smith descendant in Port Hope of Elias Smith, my great•grandfather, I feel that credit should be given to him rather than Myndert Harris as stated in Mr. Arnot Craik's book.'
"Certainly the organization of the company of settlers and their transportation was the work of Elias Smith and Jonathan Walton and the authorities at Newark, Upper Canada.
ELIAS SMITH, THE LOYALIST LOST A MILLION DOLLARS IN PROPERTY WHEN HE STAYED LOYAL TO KING GEORGE III
"Her letter described how Elias Smith of Goshen, Orange County, New York, had owned large property holdings in Harland and in New York at the time of the American Revolution. Because of his allegiance to King George III he lost his entire New York property which was later valued at a million dollars in 1830. The Harland property, he sold at the time for 7,000 English pounds.
"With his wife, the former Catherine Miller (Millaar) and some of his 11 children he became a part of the United Empire Loyalist movement into Upper Canada."
CLAIMS ELIAS SMITH FIRST
Mike stated that Phyllis Smith dates Elias Smith's coming to Smith's Creek in 1792. This is one year before the formal arrival of the settlers named in Arnot Craik's historical sketches of Port Hope written in 1901.
Mike noted that there had been other references that Captain Jonathan Walton and Elias Smith had visited Port Hope (Smith's Creek) in 1792 previous to the actual move by gun boat of the settlers from Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake) on June 8,1793. "This seems to be a logical assumption,” he said
The former mayor noted that Elias and Catherine Smith’s children who accompanied them to Smith’s Creek when they arrived here are not listed by name.
”We know that their oldest daughter, the widow of James Sculthorpe of Wales, joined her parents upon her husband’s death and remarried Cornelius Lowe of Hope Township,” commented Mike.
ELIAS SMITH HAD A FAMILY OF 10 CHILDREN
”Elias Smith’s eldest daughter, Catherine, of a family of 10 children was widowed by the death of her first husband, James Sculthorpe of Wales and she later came across the Atlantic and joined her parents in the new settlement upon her husband’s death and soon after was remarried to Cornelius Lowe of Hope Township, who became her second husband.”
THE ORIGINAL SMITH DYNASTY
The names of the original ten Smith children, including Catherine were: Sarah, who later married John Shuter of Hope Township; Mary, who eventually married Robert C. Wilkins of Ameliasburgh; John David Smith; Eliza who married Joseph B. Walton of Sophiasburgh; Elias of Hope Township who married Elizabeth Harris, and later died at Port Hope on May 8, 1835 at the young age of 50; Susannah who married a chap named Potter; Peter, who was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Sept. 25, 1773, later died on the island of Jamaica in the West Indies in 1798; David of New York City and Hetty, who married David Bedford.
WIDOWED DAUGHTER LOST A CHILD AT SMITH’S CREEK
Catherine Sculthorpe had arrived here from Wales with her two children from her first marriage, one of whom drowned at Smith’s Creek and the other became the ancestral root of the Sculthorpe line which continues in Port Hope to this day for the eighth generation.
SMITHS CONTROLLED MORE THAN HALF THE SETTLEMENT LAND
Mike noted that on 17 August, 1796, Elias Smith filed his petition for a land grant at York at it was read on the 6th of October, 1796, resulting in a grant of 3,000 acres in addition to the 1200 acres already granted to each of his two sons, as sons of an English sea captain, and 600 acres to each of his two daughters.
”The total grant of land to the Elias Smith family was 4800 acres,” he said. “This bit of information would indicated that at least two other sons and two other daughters were with their parents at Smith’s Creek in 1796, or upon application for grant.
JOHN DAVID SMITH, THE 10th CHILD MADE GREATEST IMPACT ON THE PIONEER HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF PORT HOPE
”Of all the children of Elias and Catherine Smith, their tenth child, born in New York on Oct. 20, 1786, as John David Smith, was to make the greatest impact upon Port Hope as its leading citizen, industrialist, land owner, builder, member of parliament in 1829 and chief magistrate in 1843. He was also a father of a most illustrious family of Smith children in the pioneer settlement.
”Had John David Smith’s brother, Peter, also come to Port Hope he might have likewise made a lasting imprint upon this community,” said Mike.
He noted that Peter, who was born in New York in 1773 had become a partner with his father Elias Smith who owned sailing vessels and operated from their Montreal office.
”They traded with the West Indies and most likely the products of Port Hope’s distillery operations owned by the Smith family found their way to the Indies via this route. Peter died in Jamaica in 1799 and it is not known how often he visited his parents in Port Hope or of any investments which he might have held here.”
JOHN DAVID SMITH MARRIED TWICE DURING HIS LIFETIME AND BUILT THE BLUESTONE AS A WEDDING PRESENT TO HIS SECOND WIFE
John David Smith was born October 20, 1786 and died in Port Hope March 30, 1849. He married a Port Hope girl by the name of Susan Hawkins with whom he raised 10 children until Susan’s death in 1834. John David Smith was remarried again in 1834 to Louisa Woodward of New York State and for her he built the beautiful Bluestone House in 1834 as a wedding present.
”It is one of Port Hope’s finest homes and still stands on its site on Dorset Street east.”
”In the same year (1834) John David Smith’s oldest son, Elias Peter, who had been born in Port Hope on Sept. 2, 1807 first was married to Sophia Soper. For him as a wedding present, John David Smith built a cottage on King Street south which we have come to know as the Little or Mini-Bluestone. Although it is now in a bad state of repair, it is hoped that under new ownership it may still be restored.”
Elias Peter Smith, became manager of the Bank of Upper Canada in the old Guide office building on Walton Street, which was built in 1841. “It would be interesting to learn if he played any part in the planning and building of the new Bank of Upper Canada building on John Street in 1857, now the city dairy.” He later died in Port Hope on Dec. 26, 1860.
John David Smith fathered an additional four children as a result of his marriage to his second wife, Louisa. The first of these children, Joseph Shuter Smith, who was born in 1835, later married Elizabeth Hall Ward, a sister of Judge Henry Ward. Louisa Smith lived to a ripe old age of 94 and died in her wedding-present home, the Bluestone, in 1907. Her daughter Mrs. T. P. Clark used the Bluestone as a summer home and her granddaughter, Mrs. Crieghton Withers, lived there until her death.
John David Smith Jr., the second son after Elias Peter, later built Fairmont, the Ketchum House on Dorset Street, currently occupied by family of Tom and Patric Lawson and her mother Mrs. Philip Ketchum.
DR. SMITH FOUGHT THE CHOLERA INFECTION IN 1830s
Dr. William M. Smith, who was born the third son of John David Smith on July 30, 1815, and later died on July 3, 1854, had lived in the house at the corner of King and William Street, which formerly had been the home of Col. Henry Ward and today is the residence of Dr. Percy Vivian.
Dr. Smith was one of the original leading medical doctors in Port Hope during the period of the cholera infection among the immigrants, which is noted in the town records and minute books for the 1834 to 1840 period.
A fourt son was Seth. S. Smith.
A fifth son, John Shuter Smith, served as Port Hope’s second mayor for three consecutive terms in 1852, 1854 and 1855. He was also the builder of the stately home Wildwood around 1850 just west of the Port Hope boundary along the north side of the Lakeshore Road in Hope Township.
ONE SMITH BECAME COURT JUDGGE
A seventh son became Judge James Smith. He was born on October 16, 1811, and died on August 15, in 1874. He was married to Mary Ann Smith who was born on April 10, 1819 and died on November 5, 1906.
Judge James Smith built The Grange on Brown Street across from the Port Hope United Church, where Bruce Robertson currently plans to build an apartment building.
Judge Smith was elected a member of Parliament for two sessions in 1848 and 1854.
He was president of the Board of Police for a number of years after Port Hope was incorporated as a village in 1834. He was president of the police board in 1839; 1845; 1846 and 1847.
JUDGE SMITH BECAME THE SECOND MAYOR OF THE TOWN AND OFFICIATED AT THE LAYING OF TOWN HALL CORNERSTONE
Mike noted that after the passing of the Baldwin Act in 1849, Judge Smith became the second mayor of Port Hope in 1851 following the term of the town’s first mayor, John Tucker Williams.
On September 9, 1851, mayor Smith officiated at the cornerstone laying of the Port Hope town hall along with deputy grand master Thomas Ridout Gibbs and Asa Burnham, who was warden of the United Counties of Northumberland and Durham at the time.
Mrs. Joseph B. Hall, a daughter of John David Smith, was married to an accountant living on Pine Street according to the 1858 directory.
Robert Charles Smith, the eighth son, was a lumberman and father of R. C. Smith who build the Bonneville house on Augusta Street.
The ninth son, the Hon. Sidney Smith, a lawyer and MP, was born in Port Hope on Oct. 16, 1823 and died on Sept. 27, 1889. He became postmaster-general of Canada.
The charter for the Port Hope and Peterborough Railway Company was passed in 1846 session of the provincial legislature and David Smart of Port Hope became the first president. Difficulties arose with the railway during its initial years and the project came to a standstill. In 1852 Port Hope citizens voted $50,000 to the railway project and the company was reorganized at a meeting on Jan.l0,1853 at Graham's Inn. Cavan and James Smith of Port Hope succeeded David Smart as the second president of the railway company.
On Sept.4,1856 Port Hope had contributed a total of $684,000 to the railway project. On Nov. 5, 1856, James Smith and company officials made the first railway trip to Millbrook. The chief contractor for the railway line was S. Zimmerman. R. G. Benedict was the chief engineer on the inaugural trip.