Submitted by Harold and Janet Hubka - email@example.com
The Thomas "Pappy" Myers story attached has been passed down to Harold's wife Janet who is descended from Pappy's grand-daughter Areta. This story is written by Raymond Myers in about 1972. Harold transcribed the stories from 11 mimeographed sheets that have been passed down through the family.
HISTORY OF THE MYERS FAMILY IN HAMPTON, P.E.I.
BY RAYMOND MYERS
I will try and write about the Myers in Hampton as I have heard it in stories told to me by older members of the family. I do not know if all of them are facts as stories sometimes are distorted in retelling.
Raymond Lowther Myers
I am the great-grandson of original Myers, Thomas (Pappy) Myers and his wife Mary Anne Hutcheson. The Myers originated in the lowlands of Germany. Those Myers spell their name Meyers. There are 18 ways of spelling that I know of. Some of them moved to Normandy, then to England as Flemish weavers. Our branch settled in Yorkshire. The name originated from doctor or head man servant. (In a book I read it said the name originated from ‘doctor’). There is a Coat of Arms. I believe, Keith Myers has one. I was in Yorkshire but had no information on family other than that they sailed from Hull, England. I saw the name on business and headstones.
The first Myers in Hampton was Thomas (Pappy). He came from a family who were still in weaving. His father owned a Mill connected with wool and weaving. His father married a second time and four boys decided to immigrate to North America as there was friction between them and the stepmother. Her maiden name was Carr. As (Pappy) the name I always heard him called by had a good education for those times, Mr. Carr, a brother of his stepmother, sent word for him to come to P.E.I. to tutor his family. The other three boys continued on to Ontario, made a lot of money and all moved to California. I do not know of them now. He was a young man about 17 or 18. Sailed on the Valiant from Hull about 1817. I remember talking to Richard Nelson. He told me that the Nelsons and Wilsons came over on the same ship. They helped him on the voyage, I suppose with the cooking, etc. I saw a mockup of an immigrant ship of those times in Greenwich, England showing the hold divided into stalls on each side of the passageway and cooking facilities at each end with an open fireplace. They had to supply their own food, passage fare (about 3 pounds), and the voyage took about 73 days.
A nephew of the Carr’s had arrived at the same time so Mr. Carr divided the farm. Pappy built a log school and taught. He was paid in produce by the settlers. The Carrs moved to the North Side and Pappy acquired the land Everett Rogerson now has – the original homestead. J. O’Connor has the other half of the farm west of E. Rogerson. The Carr buildings were between these two farms. I remember an open well on the line, also an old cellar and apple trees.
Pappy had a log house on E. Rogerson farm on the site of the present house. He was married now and raising a family so built a new frame house and moved the log house to one side. Ashes and other material were stored in the log house. Ashes were saved to make lye for soap and other uses. Some live coals must have been in the ashes as the log house took fire and both houses were destroyed and the contents lost. I have heard some noted strong men of the community took poles upstairs and tried to move the log house away but all was lost. Wesley was a baby at the time and someone bundled him in woolen blankets and set him out in a snow bank as it was storming at the time. I think it was in January. After the excitement died down someone thought of Wesley and started looking for him. They had trouble finding him as the snow had drifted over him but they found him asleep and none the worse for his experience. Wesley grew into a powerful man and a very able swimmer. He used to swim to Farewell Buoy and return.
Mrs. John Walker (Nevey) is a daughter and granddaughter of Pappy’s. The age of the present E. Rogerson’s house dates from a few months after Wesley’s birth. There is a charred beam in the cellar, all that is left of the original house.
Pappy was a good teacher and taught the family on the barn floor as they flailed the grain. He used a blackboard on the wall to explain his teachings. Robert was the youngest boy passed into Normal School in Charlottetown and as a wit might say "from the barn floor". The family consisted of three girls and five boys, that I am sure of but I have heard my father (George) son of Isaac speak of a George who left home when young. I have heard he carried a partner out of Mirimichi woods as they were lost for days. The only food was a partridge but the partner could not eat raw meat or drink blood. George was able to and found enough strength to carry on. He was also supposed to have been in the Civil War in the U.S.A. This is as I heard it over 60 years ago and may not be true as I may be mistaken. [handwritten: another son Jacob moved west]
The family that stayed on the Island were Mrs. Geo. Howatt (Frances), Mrs. Oliver Wadman (Selina), Mrs. Canfield, Wesley, Isaac, Abram, Thomas and Robert. Pappy was a small man and not much for hard work but saw to it that the work was well done. All the boys were strong men and able workers. Pappy acquired a lot of property—land, lime kilns, wharf. The land was not owned but leased from Lady Fane and the rent paid to an agent Mr. Palmer. The land was not owned until after Confederation. He had farms in different parts of the Island—Seven Mile Bay, Sandy Point (now a Park across the river) and Canoe Cove, besides farms on Hampton road. The Sandy Point farm was covered with black birch. Pappy had it cut and hewed into square deal (timber) and shipped to England. At that time there was a good market in England for timber. There was a Wharf on the end of the farm, also lime kilns. The road followed the shore then. All are washed away now. Charlie Miller who had a lobster factory there, set it on the old foundations of the wharf. Wesley settled on this farm and built a large house and barns. He ran lime kilns and imported coal and limestone from Nova Scotia. Mrs. John Walker (Nevey) is a daughter. Wesley had a large family as I believe he was married twice. One son Morley was the youngest Captain to sail out of Victoria. He was killed as a young man in St. Peter’s Lock, Nova Scotia. Before settling on farm, Wesley and Abram used to walk or swim across the river to work on farm. They set a record for mowing with a scythe—12 scres of oats in a day. Thomas settled on the Seven Mile Bay farm where a number of his descendents still live. Mrs. Victor Howatt can tell more about this branch as she is a great granddaughter of Pappy’s. Abram settled on half of the Carr farm owned by Pappy. I believe he built buildings as the old Carr buildings were between the present buildings and E. Rogerson’s; I remember an open well on the line, also an old cellar and apple trees. He married a McNeil from the North side. Lucy Maude Montgomery was connected with this family. In one of her books she tells of a girl dying of consumption or T.B. This was based on one of Abram’s daughter’s who taught school in Victoria. Sometimes walking across the river she got wet feet and this was supposed to have been the cause of her illness. Her fiancée, name of MacPhail, came to see her when he heard she was very sick. She was in a room off the kitchen and when she heard his voice, got out of bed, dressed in her best and acted as if nothing was wrong. He was surprised but she had a sad ending and she died soon after. Another sister contacted the illness and also died. Abram retired to Hampton and John H. the youngest son took over the farm. He later sold it to a Mr. Wright and bought the French farm now lived on by Mrs. Billy Myers. John H. was a noted politician and speaker. He was Minister of Agriculture and was instrumental in establishing P.E.I. as a disease free area for cattle which in years past was an asset in selling butter and breeding stock. One son Frank followed in politics and was a member for 19 years. John H. was also a Federal member in the R.B. Bennett Government and was responsible for a lot of improvements on the Island. There are a large number of Abram’s descendents on the Island and in the U.S.A.
Pappy acquired the McAllum farm next to the Billy Myer’s farm. Isaac settled here (the writer’s grandfather). He married a Nelder. He built a house and outbuildings as the McAllum buildings were in the front field half ways to the road East of the present house. I remember talking to Alfred Canfield (his mother was a daughter of Pappy’s). He said they lived in the McAllum house for a while. I remember the white birch trees and the old cellar. The present house may have been built in the late 1850’s or early 1860’s as my father, George, was born 1869 or around that time. He was the youngest of four. The others were Della, Etta and Will. Isaac was a noted timber man but did not have Pappy’s business ability. He was a very easy-going man and signed notes for his brother-in-law Mr. Geo. Howatt to the extent of $2000.00—a lot of money in those times. Howatt went broke and the Sheriff came to the farm to see about payment and if no money to arrest Isaac as you were jailed for debt in those days. Howatt spent some time in jail, then got out and the family moved to Florida and some of the descendents are still there.
Isaac’s wife, Anne sent him to the woods to hide. I remember my father George telling me of taking food to him in the woods and by and by the Sheriff left after taking a sale notice on the barn. His wife went to Charlottetown and borrowed money from Mr. Heart, a private Banker at 22% interest. She sent Isaac out to work on bridges and wharfs as he was one of the best at this kind of work. Will left home at this time and George wanted to go also but his mother (who he adored) asked him to stay home and run the farm and help pay off the debt, which he did and became a very successful farmer and noted horseman and stockman. He could tell what the poorest animal would look like when he had them fitted and in good shape. He sold a lot of these horses to longshoremen, express delivery, undertakers, coal mines, etc. in N.S. He also supplied cattle to butchers. He always had a flock of sheep. I remember this meant a lot of pole fences as this seemed, at the time, the only fence to hold sheep. I remember one time when I was young we had 6 horses—2 three horse teams. Buyers came along and bought three and there were only three left to finish the crop, but lucky the crop was nearly finished. George was married to Grace Lowther. My older brother Will and myself were the only family. Geo died a young man at 54 on March 15th, 1923. My mother lived to 1957. Will was married in 1922 to Hope Howatt. George bought the original Myers homestead (E. Rogerson farm) from Oscar, Robert’s son in 1918. Will stayed on home farm and my mother and father and myself moved to this farm the fall of 1922. My father died that winter. I was only 14 at the time. Will and I farmed both farms together with my mother’s help as she was wise in the way of farming on those days. Later Will and Hope moved to Winsloe and eventually to Stanley Bridge where they were very successful merchants. Will died there in 1955. I took over his farm and farmed for a number of years. I had a very serious tractor accident, sold the farms and went into factory work but still think of the farm. But as the saying is ‘you can take the boy from the frm but you can’t take the farm from the boy’. Will, Sr. went out West following his father’s trade as timberman on railways and went to South Africa to supervise timbering diamond mines. The miners had dug a vast hole at Kimberley (I have seen it) and needed advice on how to timber it. The hot weather did not suit him and he saw the Boer War coming so he came to Seattle and joined the gold rush. He walked overland 500 miles to Nome, Alaska, staked claims on Candle Creek and was very successful. He revisited his parents at Hampton. They now lived in the house occupied by Jim Campbell. I do not remember him but have heard it was the best winter ever in Hampton—cheers arrived by the case—he had a $100 watch and a $1000 fur coat. He told his mother when he washed his diggings he would have all the money he wanted. I still have some nuggets and gold dust he sent home in an axe handle.
Before he left Nome the people signed a petition for him to take to Washington to try and have some form of government established there. He had lunch with the President, I think it was Teddy Roosevelt and took authority to establish a government back in Nome. I believe one of the Ince’s was quite prominent in this office. He also took in machinery to wash gold. Some time later he set out for Nome with a dog team to marry a preacher but was lost on the trail. As he was in partnership with other people none of the money ever reached P.E.I. I believe the year was 1914.
Della married a Haslam and moved to the U.S. and had no family; Etta married Ewen MacKinnon. They had a store in Hampton. Mrs. Win Bell is a daughter.
Isaac continued building bridges and wharfs. He built the first bridge from Sandy Point to Victoria. George was the first person to cross with a team and wagon. I remember by father telling me that on top of the hill on the farm next to E. Rogerson, the stone came to the top of the ground. He split off the top and hauled 400 yards across the ice to be used for bridge. He received $100 and thought it great at the time. He hauled in clay and was able to work land on top of stone. I have run into it with the plow and would scrape bottom for a piece. Isaac also built a wharf at Cape Traverse. He had to extend it near every year as it would fill up with sand. I believe it was over a mile long at one time.
Anne, Isaac’s wife, was a good business woman and also a very large woman. They had a special wagon with extra springs so it would not tip when she stepped in. She took up all of the back seat and Isaac sat in front. I have heard she was quite a help in having the church built in Appin Road and understand she donated the first organ. The writer’s mother had her account book and it was passed on to me but unfortunately it has been lost. All the farm business and work done by Isaac was recorded. At the start it was Pounds, Shillings, Pence and Mexican dollars. The Pounds changed to Dollars in 1872. It was a great insight in business of those days—produce taken in trade for work, entries of shipments in different vessels to different markets, Black oats shipped to Bermuda as the Army Officers liked them for their horses, geese and produce to Boston, eels for the New Year’s market, lumber to England and salt fish and potatoes to the West Indies. There was also a lot of trade to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. A lot of this trade was on consignment by a different number of people, sold on arrival and the proceeds divided according to the amount each person shipped.
Grandmother Anne was a great planner and very proud. She was a very heavy woman and weighed over 400 lbs. As she was dying upstairs, she worried about her body having to be taken out the window as was common in those days of narrow stairways. She called in the girl waiting on her and devised a plan to lower her down the stairs. She had woolen blankets cut and sewn in strips and named the men to use them. When the undertaker came and said they would have to use the window, the girl said, no Granny has a plan and passed over a paper. They say it was quite a feat of engineering.
Robert settled on the homestead, the E. Rogerson farm. Robert had an interesting young life. As the youngest of the family, he attended Normal school. He was also traveling companion to oldest sister, Mrs. Geo. Howatt. He was supposed to be rich at that time and they traveled to the World’s Fair, Florida and other places. He married a McCallum from New Haven. They had three of a family. Cora went to Calgary and married there. Areta married C.D. Wright and Chester who was lame. Their mother was sick for some time and Chester, when young, used to play in the stream in the yard. This was blamed for his lameness. He drowned in the river when he was about 13 years old. His mother had died and Robert married Lilla Lowther. They had two more of a family, Oscar and Alma. Alma is still living in the West. Robert had a hard time when he started farming as he had signed a note for Howatt also and had to buy land from the government at the same time. He was a hard worker but like a lot of Myers had bronchial trouble. He always carried a flask of whiskey and would work until he would nearly drop from exhaustion, take a sip, then would be able to carry on. Like all the family he was a good carpenter, stone mason and timberman. Some of his work is in evidence in E. Rogerson’s cellar. He cut all the stone in the cellar using stone from the quarrie in the second back field, split them out with wedges, hauled them down to the creek and dressed them there, accumulating enough waste to build bridge. It is still in use. As the house was only one storey, he raised the roof straight up to make full size rooms upstairs. If anyone went up in the attic, they could see it was quite a feat for those days. He also raised the barn roof and extended the rafters to 28 feet which at the time was the longest rafter in the community and still holding strong. Also at tht time the brook ran through the yard at the top of the field. Another spring ran the other way and kept the field wet. He built a stone drain and carried the water to the other brook, drained the field and was able to work over the top of the drain. He retired to Victoria and was a handy man for years. A lot of what I have written here was told to me by him. Oscar took over the farm but sold it to my father (George) about 1918. My father and mother and myself moved there in 1922. My father died in March. I remember it as it was the most snow ever on the Island. When the neighbours came to dig the grave there were only a few headstones visible and they had to measure from them to find the family plot. The snow was so deep in the woods the stumps left were high enough that the next year they were able to get an eight foot log. So that is an idea how deep the snow was. Drifts covered them over with boards as if left would fill in after every storm. It was the 3rd of June before we sowed the first seed and there was still snow at the edge of the woods. But we had a very fast growing season and good crops and no flooding as the snow soaked into the ground as there was no frost in the ground.
APPENDIX TO MYERS HISTORY AND STORIES
Since writing history and stories of the Myers family, or as much as I knew about it, I hope other people will write of stories they have heard of their own immediate families, as there must be a lot of historical stories that would be of interest today.
On a recent visit to the West I heard two stories that I was interested in and am passing them on. Some people may not believe them. But I am setting them down as I heard them. These were told me by an oldtimer who lived in Hampton at one time. The first is of the Phontom Ship which I have mentioned before. At one sighting four stout able men set out to see if they could find out the cause of this eerie sight. They had a good boat, equipped with an engine and oars. As they drew near the sea became very turbulent and fearing for their safety, they turned around and headed back. There was a very strong undertow and they had to use the combined efforts of engine and oars to save their lives. When they reached their homes they were shaken men and would not speak of what they had seen, as they said it was too horrible to speak of. I believe a Myers was on the boat.
This may have been a warning of the evils of man, such as the horrible gas chambers that the Germans used on the Jews and other atrocities committed by Man’s inhumanity to man.
Another story was connected with the drowning of Chester Myers. Mentioned in history, four men walking along Sandy Point road. They saw a red light originating in the channel of the river and coming to the shore on the other side of the river, zigzagging through different gates going up to his home. In front of the light there seemed to be something like hands pawing like a person trying to swim dog paddle. Next day when word was out Chester was missing those men joined the search and the body was found on the edge of the channel. Those same men helped to carry the body to the house, taking the same route through the gates where they had seen the light and it dawned on them then that it was a true forerunner.
Perhaps some Higher Power took his life, as in those times the life of a handicapped person would be a hard life. Even in present times of Social Plans it still is hard as I am handicapped myself and I well know all about it.
I have set out the History as I have heard it. If anyone has more facts or can correct any mistakes I have made, I would be very pleased to hear from them. Perhaps someone can dig out more and rewrite it. I want to thank Mrs. John Walker, Mrs. Victor Howatt and Mrs. Alma MacMicken for their information.
If anyone can find out the birthplace of Pappy in Yorkshire, England it would be a good start and also if it is correct. He came over in 1817. Anyone going to England might be able to find out the family record of births and also more about the family.
It might be interesting if the descendents of Grandsons and Grandaughters would continue the Family Tree of their own Branch.
566 Bolivar St.,
STORIES OF THE MYERS FAMILY IN HAMPTON P.E.I.
I will now return to Pappy and try to set down some of the stories I have heard about him. I do not know when or what year they happened.
One thing he used to do was to go on ships leaving for markets in England, New England States, West Indies as well as neighbouring provinces in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland as a lot of those places were not suited for raising farm products. This was a good market for products and livestock from the Island farms. A lot of those placed manufactured and mined goods needed on the Island farms. A lot of those places manufactured and mined goods needed on the Island. Trade by sea was the only way in those times as there were no other facilities at that time. I can even remember when very young 12 vessels loading at Victoria three wharfs. Then Pappy was called a supercargo or as it is called now, ship agent. He would sell cargo and sometimes the ship and if not, find cargo for the return trip. I remember finding a heavy canvas bag in the attic in E. Rogerson house. I asked Uncle Robert what it was used for. He told me it was to bring Mexican silver dollars received from the sale of cargo. Robert used to meet the ship Pappy was returning on with a wheelbarrow and take the bags to a meeting place for Pappy to divide among the suppliers of cargo. This is the same dollar that the Governor at P.E.I. had a hole punched out and used the center piece for 25 cents and this is how quarters came into use. Those holey dollars as they are now called are very valuable now.
On another trip he came home with the idea of canning as he had seen it done in some place. He started a lobster factory near Canoe Cove as he had land there. He also wanted his sons to grow vegetables and can them on Sandy Point farm but they thought that was impossible. History might have been made here as the Island vegetables are well known now.
When he was young all the work was done by oxen. I have heard they would live out most of the winter in the woods and bush. On one of his trips he brought home a horse, the first one in the community, a white one. He hitched the horse to a cart, a two wheeled vehicle, tied a string to one spoke, measured the circumference of the wheel and started for Charlottetown,, counting the turns of the wheel and calculated it at 21 miles to the market square. I believe the road at that time ran from Dixon’s Mills to Stordy’s Mills. It used to cross Isaac’s farm about half way between the old lime kiln and the woods. There was a pump that watered four fields and the road passed by the well. By and by it was opened from Hampton to Crapaud and the reason why it jogs by Lety Ferguson’s house was MacNeil, who owned the farm, had put up a new fence and would not allow the road anywhere else except to follow the fence. This was called a given road as people donated land.
On another trip to England with Captain Lord in command and Bristol the port, the ship was not sold and Pappy was looking for return cargo. A Mr. Stanfield was on the wharf or quay as called there, with woolen machinery waiting on a ship from Australia as he planned on moving. Their ship was lost and Pappy persuaded him to come to P.E.I. as there were lots of sheep there at the time. He came and a company was formed and Tryon Woolen Mills was started. Stanfield married a lady from Tryon. I do not know her name, but some people in Tryon might know. The Mill ran for quite some time giving employment to a number of people. It was destroyed by fire. I can just remember it but the dam was there for a long time as I remember skating on the rink there. So in a way Pappy supplied the link between this famous family and P.E.I.
Pappy was in partnership with the French’s in building two ships on the shore of Isaac farm. They built next to E. Rogerson line as there was a sand beach there. The first one launched fine but the second one was larger and there was not enough wter to launch her and float. Pappy thought of the idea to chain puncheons to the ship passing chains under the keel and on the next tide the ship floated free. The bridge across Sandy Point was built soon after that and there were no more ships built on the Westmorland River. The ships were called "Ida M." and the "May" with an initial either end of the name. The "May" was lost after a few years bu the "Ida M." sailed till she was an old ship. I remember my father saying after he heard Captain MacLean paid $700 for a foresail that the "Ida M." was fitted with sails and rigging for $700. What would it cost today? I paid much more than that for sails for a boat I built in my back yard. A small building on the Billy Myers farm was used as a workshop and storehouse. French’s moved it to the farm. It was always called ‘buggy house’. It was still there the last time I visited the farm.
Pappy was a small man but quite fiery and very exact with money. One of the highlights of the times was when a small schooner arrived from Madeline Island with a French Captain with a load of fish to trade for potatoes. They always came to Pappy’s wharf and when the trading was finished Pappy would be looking for his wharfage money for the use of the wharf. By this time quite a few bystanders were waiting for an argument to start. They argued down to a farthing in the Captain’s favor. The Captain said ‘pretty near, near but honest’, rejoined Pappy ‘by damn not so sure about that’. Pappy jumped around and the fat was in the fire for the rest of the afternoon to the delight of the bystanders and no doubt in retelling was some amusement in an otherwise hard life of the community and so was the way of our ancestors.
Many of the things we take for granted were not known in those days. I remember Uncle Robert telling me he would have to bank the fire in the fireplace for morning as there were no matches. He said quite often he had to run to the neighbours to get a bucket of coals to start the fire. Water and wood in those days meant a lot of work. Wood was cut by hand and water was often brought from springs. There was a spring on the Billy Myer’s farm at the bottom of the hill; there used to be a cheese factory there and the building is still there. A lot of people hauled their water from there and before a well was dug on Isaac farm water was hauled from there.
I can tell of a strange happening about the Cheese Factory. Isaac was shingling the roof of a shed on the end of the Factory and came up to the farm for dinner as the midday meal was called. He started back and my mother was washing dishes. She had a feeling to go out and watch Isaac walking down the road. She watched him and called my father to look. She mentioned how straight he walked. They both went back to work but my mother could not do anything. An unseen force seemed to be drawing her out to look again. She went out and could not keep her eyes off him. She watched him climb on the roof. It had rained a shower and Isaac slipped on the roof and fell and was killed. Until she died my mother believed that was a forerunner of death which in those days was supposed to happen quite often. My father has told me the story about visiting a friend of his who broke his ankle breaking in a yound horse to harness and was quite sick at the time. In those days some of the best boards were kept in the granary to keep them dry. They only used these boards for special jobs such as making caskets or other uses. Through the evening, as my father was visiting, those boards started to rattle which was considered a forerunner. My father’s friend’s father started to cry as this was his favorite son. However, another son contacted pneumonia and died very suddenly and those boards were used for his casket.
Another strange happening is the Phantom Ship which has been seen quite often sailing down the Straits on fire. I saw it once and it is an awesome sight. I think it was in November 1938 and a lot of people saw it at that time. I watched it for some time and several other people were with me. It was seen by hundreds of people all the way down the shore as far as St. Peter’s Island. I have talked to people from Nova Scotia and they have seen it also. The origin of the story is that it was an immigrant ship that was seized by pirates and robbed, stone-in the life boats and set afire and it drifted down the Straits. It is rumored to have happened in the Bay of Verte, although I have heard of sightings quite a way west of there.
They were hardy people, these ancestors of ours. I have heard a story of Pappy’s wife killing a bear. A brook ran through the yard. The pig house was along side of the brook with small pens at one end. This bear came down the field following brook, no doubt attracted by the idea of a meal of pork. Pappy’s wife saw the bear coming, ran out and locked the pigs in the building and returned to the kitchen in which a window faced the pig house. She loaded the muzzle-loading gun, raised the window and waited for a favorable shot at the bear. At last the bear came within close range and she shot him and probably made good use of some of the Bear’s hide for a rug and the fat for soap and oil.