History of Thomas Poole and the Poole Family
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- This account was submitted to the Norwich Gazette by Jessie Poole, b. 27 Aug. 1897, grandaughter of Thomas and Mary. It has been revised for clarity with some recent research facts added. It was probably written in the late 1940s due to the reference to the telephone exchange being in the Brady House in Norwich. Many of the notes the report was based on were written by one of the Poole sisters and are in the Norwich and District Archives collection. It can be found on the web credited to another source but the transcriptions are almost identical.
Thomas Poole was the first of this Poole family to come to Canada from Malinburg, Gloucestershire, England. He left behind 2 sisters. (Thomas is possibly the Thomas baptized 12 April 1805 at Maisemore. His father is probably Edward of the Tetbury area, with 3 wives, first unknown, second Eliza Thornhill and third Maria Thornhill. Several of the sons in the family were masons). Sailing from Liverpool in April, after a long rough voyage in the sailing boat, the ship came within sight of land. There came a west wind taking them back a week's journey. Also during the journey the boat sprang a leak and the pumps quit working. Thomas wanted them to put oil in. After much persuasion they poured in oil and the pumps started working.
Thomas arrived in New York about the middle of June just after the city had been destroyed by fire. (Thomas Poole, age 28, arrived in New York on the Barque Union on the 7th of June 1836. Thomas travelled with an Elizabeth Poole. If his wife, she must have shortly died as he later married in 1838, or, she may have been a relative but not his sister as sister Elizabeth continued to live in England). He did not meet with much success in New York and he was strongly advised to return home by the next boat. Instead, he moved to Canada to Little York or what is known as Toronto. On arriving here, he found a good job as a master mason. When the foreman saw Thomas' work, he was transferred to head mason of the bridge gang. From then on the superiority of his work was readily acknowledged.
Having decided now to remain in Canada, Thomas banked his money only to lose it during the rebellion of 1837, when the bank was robbed. He continued at his work around Toronto, building a good many stone houses and quite a number of brick houses some of which are standing today. In 1837 he built the stone house on the Copeland homestead at Burnhamthorpe for Robert Copeland on his 400 acres that the government had given him for guarding the lines in the War of 1812. (The Copeland house today has been granted Heritage status and photos of it are online). Here is where Thomas met Mary Copeland, Robert's daughter and was married in 1838. (Mary b. 30 Mar 1824 d. 06 Dec 1886) (The first draft says he had two children here who died of fever)
After living at Goleases's Corners (?) near Burnhamthorpe, Thomas and Mary Poole were persuaded to come further west by Charles Gray, a cousin of Mrs. Poole, (Mary’s mother was Elizabeth Gray Copeland. Some sources site Charles as Mary's uncle, although family research does show a son, Charles, from Mary's brother, Thomas Gray) who owned the farm now owned by Mr. William McConachie. So they bought the 200 acres (Concession 14 Lot 21 Burford Twp.) on the west side at Merrill's Mills on west side Branch Creek. (Heleniak owned it the time the account was written. William Merrill lived to the east of Thomas Poole. Merrill built several churches including the one at Norwich Gore, for which he supplied the lumber from his mills). This land at that time was an unbroken forest with only paths leading through the woods. He came there first with a dog and axe and a gun. He cut pine boughs and made a place for sleeping until he could get a place cleared and built a log shack. Then his wife and 2 children came in 1843. A fire was kept burning in front of the door to keep the wolves away for there were many wolves in those days.
After more land was cleared a log house and barn were built and one of the first homes in these parts was started. He cleared the land in winter and worked at his trade in summer. Today the standing memorials of his work are the Brady House Norwich where the telephone office now stands (This is the former Brady House Hotel on the south west corner of Main and Stover Streets in Norwich. It was also known as the New Williams Hotel and the Royal Hotel. The telephone exchange was located in the hotel in the late 1940s), the foundation of the Gore Church (This is the Norwich Gore Methodist/United Church. During renovations in 1954 a cement basement was installed and the church raised), the brick house he built for Joe Hoggard father of James Hoggard two miles north of Little Lake Store where John Frew lives (West Quarter Line Road less than half a mile south of Norwich Road. Concession 1 Lot 19 Windham Township, Jack Frew, Cliff Mitchell on notepad. First draft says one mile south of Little Lake. The house was built in 1868 as Joe's wife was Jane Copleand, sister of Mary Copeland Poole, wife of Thomas). Afterwards he built the brick house by the same pattern on his own farm east of the Gore which was destroyed by fire on January 1st 1937. The lime stone for this house was taken from the front field west of the lane and was burned in a kiln east of where the house stood and the bricks were burned at the old brick yard on the Carroll place owned by Jim Irwin one mile east of Norwich, where Thomas Jr. moved in 1910. The apple trees on this farm were from the Mt. Pleasant nursery. Mr. Poole also built the house east of Norwich on east side of railway track on north side of road (325899 Norwich Road, a brick cottage), the house two miles west of Norwich turning south, on west side of road for Hulets (on Middletown Line, Oxford County), and the Kingsford house at Hatchley (possibly 135 Hatchley Road).
In early life they had a yoke of oxen named Rebel and Tory. Later they had a yoke of white oxen they called Lion and Lamb. Lion was a big boned, shaggy fellow while Lamb was smaller and smooth. While taking the white oxen with the sleigh and a horse to be shod, they spent some time visting with Mr. Lake. The oxen took off with the sleigh and young Thomas stopped them at Merrill's Lane and waited for his fathter, Thomas, to arrive with the horse. They often took long drives with ox team to Paris, Brantford, and Delhi and would be gone a day and a night. Before the road east of Norwich was built, they had to go south to Ranelagh road and then come back on the Norwich road a mile east of the village with oxen, as horses were not used much in those days. This made for a long trip to town. Mr. Poole sometimes walked to town as there was a foot path leading through the woods and the trees were blazed with an axe to keep from losing the way. Once in taking this journey for flour he was late, a thunderstorm came up and he could not see only when the lightning flashed when he would go a short distance and would have to wait until it flashed again. Mrs. Poole also took a long trip to Toronto with her brother Robert, who came up from Toronto on horse back, but in taking the baby it would not ride on the horse so they took turns in riding while the one that walked carried the baby. Then she returned alone. Robert bringing her a few miles on the way and she got a ride ten miles then walked the rest of the distance.
Mrs. Poole cooked over a fireplace and baked with a brick oven outside, taking four hours to bake bread. If the fire went out she had to go to the neighbours' to get fire sometimes before breakfast. They used maple sugar for cooking and their clothing was spun and woven by the work of their own hands.
Mr. and Mrs. Poole raised a family of nine children, five sons and four daughters. While Thomas did his mason work, his sons looked after the home farm. Thomas died 29 Nov. 1882.
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