Interview conducted with Mrs. J. D. Patterson on 2 June 1978.
Mrs. Patterson has lived in the village of St. George for most of her life. Her father, Daniel Jackson was the owner and operator of Jackson Wagon Works, at one time a major industry in the village. She is also a very active member in the Bautist church, and has taught piano lessons to most of the children in the village.
Interviewer: When did your family come to St. George?
Mrs. Patterson: My father was born in Rockton, June 8, 1854. His parents were from Ireland. William Jackson and his wife, Bridgette Monohan had three children, John, who was born in Ireland and five years after, when he was five, the mother came over. The father came first and built a log cabin. Daniel was born five years after and there was also a sister, Miriah, of whom I know nothing about. Now Dad began his apprenticeship in 1870 in wagon making, first learning the wood to use etc. They went out in those days, he'd be about fifteen and they lived at this place and they learned what wood to use. They had to help around the house and go through the woods and learn the lumber. My father could tap a log with a rod and tell whether that log was sound. I went with him one time when I was a little girl and he went out and bought lumber. But this was previous to when he had his own business. This would take them three or four years.
Everything had to be solid. White oak was used, there was no sparing If there was any rot on it or it wasn't good, it was just oast aside. He then had a carriage works in Rockton. Then in St. George, the Jackson Wagon factory was established first by Mr. .Robert Snowball, in 1834 and run by William Snowball until 1900. Then it was taken over by the J.W. Company, the Jackson Wagon Works of St. George. 3iow the president was S. G. Kitchen. Previous to this Daniel worked in the Rockton area making buggies. He moved to St. George in 1892 when their first son was five months old. They lived on Queen Street where Bea Papple Robb lives now.
The factory was a busy place employing about twenty men. The office was next to the nursing home, and Harry Freeman was the first bookkeeper and Dad’s office was sort of at the back and then the secretaries office was there too. We daren’t go into Harry Freeman’s office because he would say "you kids had better run on home."
Interviewer: This was before your father had taken over?
Mrs. Patterson: He was right into it already. He started right in. The front of the factory was the wood shop. It was right where the road (highway 5) is now. To the right was a roadway which brought you to the blacksmith's shop, where the tires were assembled. Everything was made, the whole wagon was completed there. The Shell garage in St. George is the paint shop. The part that used to be the office area was later used as a restaurant.
Interviewer: So what happened when the road went through?
Mrs. Patterson: When the road went through in 1931, the buildings were divided and separated. Just to make people understand, they owned the land up around there (the land around the Shell station) and there were stacks of lumber out drying and there was a wood shed. By the office there was a lane there that ran into the engine room and from that there was a track out right onto that road that goes down by Hinan’s (High Street) where they would load all the wagons and take them down. There were no trucks then, they had horses. They used rails on a trolley to pack the wagons.
Interviewer: Was the Papple house the only house you lived in when you were younger?
Mrs. Patterson: No, my father started building a new home across the street. Mr. Shepherdson owned the land there and he bought a piece of property between Milliard's house and the old gentleman and he had a flowing well. He built a home there and we moved into it in 1915. He did a lot of the woodwork all himself. The living room was almost all cherry beams and the floors were all different because he had a love for wood. I have a grandson who is the same way.
Interviewer: Is that Johnson's house now?
Mrs. Patterson: Yes, and we lived there until 1949, my mother lived there after I was married and then it was sold after she died and then it was sold to the Johnson's because we all had homes. It was very lovely inside. I can remember mother moving and crying at leaving the house. My brother want to war in 1916 and the whole family was busy with war work. I was studying music and going over to Brantford and helping with the War. I carried my knitting in my music case. I took my ATOM at the Brantford Academy in 1918. I took my piano exam the same day. I remember it was an awfully hot day and Dr. Boke came up to hear the exams. I was more nervous of the piano exam than i was of the violin. Dr. Boke asked me hadn't I tried another exam today and I timidly answered “yes”. But anyway we made it on that hot day. We wore serge skirts and a blouse.
Interviewer: Can you tell us more about the wagon works?
Mrs. Patterson: Well, we always displayed wagons down at the Toronto exhibition. We have photographs of us standing behind the wagons. (Discussion of booklets of which the library has copies on file). I have a list of employees which might be of some interest to someone. They gave my father a golden headed cane in 191S, I just remember it, and the names of the people that presented it. Now Lula Peters was the stenographer of the Wagon Works. Wilburt Jackson worked in the Wood Shop. That was dad's first son from his first marriage. Wilburt had just got married and he was on the planer and that was a very dangerous thing to be on. You had to watch yourself and he got his fingers caught and lie lost three fingers off his hand. I can remember him walking the floor. They were married and lived across the road in an old house in an apartment at Prine’s and he often walked the floor with the pain of his hand. It made my father almost sick. William Cook was in the wood shop, Sam Heal (Mrs. Dawson's grandfather) and Charlie Milliard, he was working in the woodshop, Ira Burley Marshal Mallat, R. Lucas (Charlie Sass uncle), Freeman Tolhurst was the painter and he was killed in the first world war, but his father was in the engine room. There was a Robert Pace who was a painter and Mell Sass (Gwen Sass’ father). William Tucker, Henry Berry, Wallace Winters and Freddy Millen used to be watchmen for B. B. Bellnand Son Foundry and he played a concertina and he'd play there at night. That was one of my first remembrances of music.
He was partially blind. After the Bell Foundry was done he came and worked for my father, who was always sympathetic to anybody that had any handicap. An Irish Heart. This man could sand certain parts of the wagon, he could do it by feel. He worked for years and he used to come down to our place and chord on the piano and play the little concertina. It was a kind of a gathering place. Harry Freeman was in the office. Prank Goltous, he was in the wood shop. My daughter’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Ellis, worked in the office, too, when she was 16 years old she worked as a bookeeper. One thing makes an-Other.
Interviewer: How do you remember Main Street when you were younger?
Mrs. Patterson: Patersons has a drug store, Joyce Wehrstein would be able to tell you about that. He used to cone and visit us in our house, and I remember one time my sister put a hunk of ice down his back. There, those are the kind of things I remember. That was the first store I remember. Mr. Maitland, he was with the Methodist church, and he had a store there on Main Street. I think there was a tailor shop or something where Wilbert had his store. The Little Shop used to be a Jewellery Store Harry Hamilton ran it. My father never wore jewellery but he would buy us the odd gold locket. I have given them to my grandchildren. There wan the post office and there was a little store. McEwans had a grocery store there. Mr. Benson had quite a new store. Eleanor Benson and I were chums in High School. I can’t remember when they built the bank but it must have been around the time that they built Bensoh’s store because when I was a little girl on that corner and the opposite corner there was just a broken stone wall; the remains of a fire. Where the cenotaph is there was a bandstand where the band used to play. The band used to take excursions to Niagara Falls. It was cheaper to go when we were children because people didn't have a lot of money. We didn't get a piano at our house until I was six years old. We were comfortable but more so than a lot of others, but people were not lavish spenders in those days.
Interviewer: Did you do a lot of things at the church?
Mrs. Patterson: I always went to church. Mother sent us around the corner, because af all the horses and buggies. That's why I'm a Baptist because we didn't have to cross the street to get to the church. We just had to go up to the church around the corner.
Interviewer: Was this the old church?
Mrs. Patterson: That’s the old church and it burned. And I’ll give you an experience, girls, where I learned about God. It proved my faith. I’ve had faith ever since, and you keep your faith, girls, I don't care what religion you are, if you lose it you’re in trouble. I stayed for the church service. We had out at the back there was a Sundfiff School and Mr. Sivyer was the teacher and I was about knee high to a grasshopper I guess, and it was in the wintertime and there was ice all over the streets and the kids all had skates. Why didn’t I have skates, I don’t know, but my mother would never let us have roller skates, in case we'd fall and hurt ourself, but I guess she thought I wasn’t old enough for ice skates. I was at church this day and was listening, attentive and I see to have known about God all my life, you know what I mean? I was brought up with it. The minister said if you wanted anything, just ask God for it. And if he is willing he will give it to you. I thought, now there is a chance, and I prayed for a pair of skates, oh I wanted a pair of skates, so bad. All the kids were skating and I didn’t have any. I didn’t say anything to my people or anything you know, and the next Monday I was coming home from school and I came down and Mrs. Sivyer lived across that street and she rapped on the window and she said “Say, Rose, I don’t see you skating. Now there's a pair of skates here, if you want to have them you can”. I almost fell over. In later years I knew how Paul felt what he heard the voice. There was an answer right to my prayer. It was. And it stuck with me. I wrote that in my book. (Mrs. Patterson has written a history for her family). That was the first real actual experience with God. And I said to the children. I’ve told them the story; I thought if God can hear a dirty-nosed kid like me, in a prayer in a church, and answer that prayer, what will he not do? It gave me a faith all through my life, it really did. And there’s been times when I needed it, you know. Wasn’t that strange? Did I skate? Boy did I skate! I loved skating, you know. I just wanted you to remember.
Interviewer: What other organizations were there at the church?
Mrs. Patterson: I went to Sunday School. Mr. Sivyer had our class and we had Bible Study. I wasn’t Baptised until 1918, because that is a step that you've got think about. And then a bunch of us got Baptised. And that is why I’m a Baptists.
Interviewer: What was the site of the first Baptist Church? Was it on , the same lot of the present one?
Mrs. Patterson: Yes, it has always been on that lot. I remember when the new church was opened. It was lovely, you know, and the organ was beautiful. It cost $ 10000. The Pattons donated that. I remember going to the first service, and we had an organist came from Niagara Falls, and they hadn’t got a curtain on it and I could see her feet going on the pedals. Then I had the choir and I played the organ. I never took organ lessons, but it was needed and I played.
Interviewer: What about the school? What school did you go to?
Mrs. Patterson: I went to the big public school up here. The fourth room we called it, that was where Mr. Green taught, then we had a Mr. Gordon come and we had that fourth room as the high school. Then when my children went to school they built that Continuation School. It’s too bad they tore that one down. I have a picture of my daughter sitting in front of it. Bob, your dad and my son went to school together.
Interviewer: What was transportaion like in your-early St. George days?
Mrs. Patterson: Well, down on the corner there was a big green house, Reg Howell father owned it and lived there. They had a livery stable, they rented horses. When my father had to go out in the country, he would have old Bob, the horse, and the buggy brought around to go and we kids would go w with him. We would sit in the little seat. We had to visit farmers on account of the wagons. Then they had the bus that went down to meet the train, at the big bridge. We were always afraid it would tip over. The seats ran long and up at the front there was a little cubicle that held the lantern. This was lit at night, smoky you know, would take your breath. You'd sit opposite each other and you had a big deal because there was a ravine down to the pond, where water gathered. I would walk on Fridays to catch the train, because the walk, I thought, did me good, you know, saved far, too, I suppose. I would take the train and change at Harrisburg, and you'd reach the Brantford station, and then you would walk to where the Academy was, down one street, and you'd walk there carrying your fiddle under your arm, then you go back up to the station to catch the train home. You’d come back up on the bus to your house and that's how you got to Brantford.
Interviewer: How frequent were the trains?
Mrs. Patterson: Oh, every day. There would be certain hours. I’d leave about noon to walk down and the train would leave about one, or half past one, and then we'd catch the train back. I never heard of the horses running away, they just walked sedately, you know.