Letter, 1924 OCT 29

Letter, Maria A. Grant McQuaig (1848 – 1931) to Harry & Gertrude Grant
Transcribed by Barbara M. Grant

        Winchester, October 29, 1924

My Dear Harry & Gertrude –

I am a long time in answering your very welcome letter, but I was so busy
going to temperance meetings and talking temperance, that it seemed I could
not get my mind down to write a letter. You see our great “Fight” for the
“O.T.A.” was on and I can tell you it was a “Fight” too, but thanks to our
heavenly Father He gained the victory for us, surely we have great reason to
thank and praise Him. He has given us over 40,000 of a majority and still
some places to be heard from. It certainly would have been an awful thing if
we had lost it and how the liquor men would have rejoiced, for they were not

Well the friends here all about as usual. Wesley and I were to your Aunt
Mary’s a few days ago. Well Wesley was to draw voters the 23rd and he had
to take Mrs. Harrison Adams up to Ventnor to vote as she is staying with her
daughter here, who is very ill. We came back same day and brought Mrs.

I am pleased to know you are doing so well. Yes Harry it would be nice if
you were near your people.I hope you may be in the near future.

No Harry I did not get my book printed as I have never finished it, have not
written much since your Grandfather’s death, but must try and get at it again.
I first began to write, because I thought if I was taken away suddenly there
would be so many things that Wesley would not know that I would want
him to know and I have quite a few pieces of poetry of my own composition
which I wished him to have and I also wanted him to know how the Lord
had lead me to himself and how He had lead me afterwards too, and I wished
him to know something of my Godly ancestry of which I do thank God for,
and am proud of, and of whom I shall try and give you a little sketch of and
should there be something else which you would like to know ask me and if
I can tell you I will only be too pleased to do so. Your loving aunt,

                M.A. McQuaig

Wesley & Ethel send love and best wishes.

I could tell you lots more if I were near you, things I cannot write.

William Grant, half pay Lieutenant, 1st royals, Farmer of Carron, parish of
Aberlour Scotland.

You see he was an officer in the Highlanders and one of the Highlanders
under General Wolf, who scaled the Hights at the plains of Abraham,
Quebec, the time of the French-Canadian rebellion in September 1759. He
then returned to Scotland and for his services during this rebellion his son
Lewis Grant Esq. my grandfather drew a large tract of land.

William Grant’s wife was Catherine Grant, daughter of Lewis Grant, Esq.,
Wester Elchies Scotland, but no relation before their marriage.

My grandfather Lewis Grant Esq. was educated in Scotland for a Doctor, but
when he came to the dissecting room he was too tender-hearted and did not
continue the practice, but acted as Government Surveyor and at the age of
18 years was sent out to Canada by Governor Simcoe to survey land. He
came by the way of New York as there was no landing at Montreal at that
early date. He arrived in Canada in the winter of 1791 and 1792 coming to
York, now Toronto and he laid out some of the streets there, one of which
was called Grant, after him. He served government as deputy surveyor till
June 1800. Then he came down to the Nation River, cleared some land as it
was all woods then, where he began building a grist mill, known as Grant’s
Mills, on lot No. 7 in the 9 concession of Edwardsburgh on the Nation River
in the spring of 1801. This was the first mill and first mill dam built on the
Nation River and the only mill between Kingston and Montreal, and he drew
the machinery with ox teams from Montreal for his mill. He also had an oat
kiln where he dried the oats, as he made oatmeal as well as flour and did
other grinding for feeding stock. And the people came from Byetown, now
Ottawa, Waddington U.S.A., and all the surrounding country to Grant’s
Mills for years to get grinding done as Grant’s was the only mill on the
River. In politics he was a reformer, in religion a presbyterian. In disposition
kind, lively, cheerful and always ready with a joke and a liberal giver. At the
age of 30 years he married Miss Annie Gurnsey daughter of Daniel and
Rachel Gurnsey, who were U.E. Loyalists and came from Balston Springs
Massachusetts U.S. and were among the first Methodists in Canada in
Barbra Heck’s time, bringing Methodism to South Mountain, Ont., as that is
where they settled and built a large frame house just above South Mountain
and left up stairs all in one room where they had church services conducted
as there were no churches for miles and miles. Rev. Anson Green speaks in his book
which he wrote of having stopped with our uncle John Gurnsey
while traveling his circuit. Uncle’s home, like his father’s was always open
to God’s ministering servents.

My Grandmother (Miss Annie Gurnsey) was a good christian lady, a
methodist, a tender affectionate mother and a good housekeeper too. She
always bore testimony to the power of God to save and to keep.To them
were born four sons Lewis, Daniel who was my father, Alexander & Allen,
and three daughters Nancy, Mary & Rachel.

Grandfather gave each of his sons and daughters a farm, he built a large
frame house at the mills where he spent the remainder of his days. He lived
to be 84 years and was buried in South Gower Cemetery. My father then
always looked after and cared for Grandmother who lived to be 82 years.
The mills then fell to my father.

Grandmother was buried by grandfather. She died as she had lived trusting
in Christ. Funeral text was II Timothy, 4th chapter and 7th & 8th verses.

I should have told you that when Daniel and Rachel Gurnsey were coming
over to Canada from the U.S. the only way of crossing the Lake Champlain
was with horses and sleigh and the ice was not so good as they thought and
the horses broke through in one place and the sleigh broke through too, they
thought they would all be drowned, but they all escaped but one dear little
girl whose name was Fannie a sister of my grandmother Grant’s. It was very
sad for the parents and all of them for the precious body was never found.
But they had a refuge to flee to in the hour of trial, one who has promised
never to leave those who trust in Him. One who says cast thy burden upon
the Lord and he shall sustain thee. He shall never suffer the righteous to be

My father Daniel Grant born at Grant’s Mills on May 17th 1817, died Oct.
14, 1877.

My mother Eliza Sarah Montgomery born at Johnstown by the St. Lawrence
River, Grenville Co. Ont. in 1823 Nov. 23rd, died Jan. 22nd 1854 at Grant’s
Mills. Father & Mother were married on April 21st 1840 by Rev. Joseph
Anderson and lived all their married life at Grant’s Mills. My father had a
saw mill too, which he built.. Then he rented a large building in which was a
shingle mill, a carding mill to Mr. Wilson where wool was carded for
spinning, also a cabinet shop was rented to Uncle Philemon Beach; a good
business was carried on for some years at Grant’s Mills. Father did not work
much on the farm but he was a miller and a good one too.

To them were born four children
Erastus Grant your grandfather
Mary Jane Grant
Maria Amelia Grant [ed.: writer of this letter]
Wesley Healy Montgomery Grant

After some years father married again, a Miss Matilda Kyle, her people
came from Ireland and died of emigrant fever. I did not know them, but she
was a Methodist too and William Daniel Grant of Regina and
Margaret Gertrude Grant of Vancouver are children of that marriage, also Cora Ethel
and Bertha who died some years ago.

My father Daniel Grant was the most Godly man I ever knew, through his
teaching and daily life we children were all converted in our childhood.
There were no churches near by, so father had class meeting every Sunday
morning in our own house, the stone house which he built and which is still
standing at Grant’s Mills. He was class leader from the time he was
converted up to his death. Then he had a Sunday School too, before we had
the Sunday School helps that we have now, he was the superintendent and
teacher too, and he would tell us what portion of scripture we would have for
a lesson for each Sunday and we children would learn to recite as much of
the chapter as we could. And he had prayer meeting every Wednesday night
in the School house, which was near our home and where we children went
to school.

Father always had family worship morning and night and he had daily secret
prayer. He was a great reader of all good books and papers, had a good
library too, he never read novels and taught us the evil of it, for which I am
thankful. His home was the home of the ministers, they would come and stay
for weeks when they were holding revival Services in the School House and
every two weeks there would be service on Sunday in School House and the
minister would stay at father’s till Monday, too far to go to the parsonage at
Kemptville which was eleven miles and there were not so good roads then as
now, nor so speedy a conveyance either and that is where father went to
Quarterly Meeting (Sacrament) and took us children always, 11 miles, had to
go the day before to the business meeting as he was the Classleader, we’d go
on Saturday and stay over. Father would always have a tent at the Camp
meetings and our Grandmother Montgomery would go and be our mother
and a good one she was too. I remember a minister who use to come to
preach, he used to come on horse back all the way from Oxford Mills, Rev.
Keegin; we called him Father Keegin, he was a good man too, he and father
would have great visits, Father Keegin wore white leggins buttoned up the
outside of the legs to keep his pants clean and he carried his saddle bag on
the horse which contained his books and whatever he needed. We used to
have mighty outpourings of the Holy Ghost power in those early days in
those meetings.

Our mother was a good Methodist too. Father would tell us how that she was
such a good woman. I was so young when she died I just remember of
standing by the bedside when she passed away and then of father taking me
in his arms to take the last look at her dear sweet face, lifeless face the day of
the funeral. Father was broken hearted without her; but it only drove him
nearer to God. He felt he had a double responsibility being left with care of
four little children one only seven months old. Your grandfather was the
oldest, and he was a good boy too, dearly loved by his father. My father was
always a great temperance man, did not know the taste of liquor. Neither did
your grandfather, your father, you boys or my other brothers, or my son,
surely we have great reason to thank our Heavenly Father.

My mother’s father’s name was Aaron Coben Montgomery, son of Hugh
Montgomery and Mary Gilbert and Hugh was son of Alexander
Montgomery and Sarah Lockwood. The Montgomery’s were from Scotland.
They lived in Montreal Quebec where Aaron Coben Montgomery was
educated, he was highly educated and very aristocratic, in religion Church of
England, Master of the Orange Lodge, which met in his own house. Lived in
Johnstown, below Prescott, Ont. after he married. He was a beautiful
pensman, wrote with a quill pen which he made. Composer of poetry and
wrote the music to the poetry. I have a book of his music. He also engraved,
and the people would come from miles and miles around to have him
engrave the wooden “slabs” as they were called then to place at the grave of
their departed dead. No monuments then. He also was a great artist. He died
and left my dear grandmother a widow with one little girl who was my
mother (Eliza Sarah Montgomery). My mother’s mother was Sarah Pratt
wife of Aaron Coben Montgomery and daughter of Zadok Pratt and Sally
Persons. They were U.E. Loyalists.

To Zadok Pratt and Sally Persons were born one son Elias who in the early
days started to California the overland route, they heard from him from a
point where scores were dying of yellow fever and that was the last they
heard; they supposed that he too, died of the fever. I often heard
grandmother wish she knew of her dear brother. One daughter Mary Ann
Pratt who married Daily Sellick Esq. of Prescott.

The early settlers had many hard things to endure. In those early days the
Indians were numerous and some were savage too. There was one Jack who
my grandmother’s uncle and family had been very kind to and had given
him a good many things for his comfort and one day he came in and the
father and mother were out from home and the daughter was all alone and
she was ironing and this Jack came and found her alone and he said I’m
going to kill you. She said Oh! No Jack, you’ll not kill me. Yes I will. Oh!
No Jack, you have always been good, and you know we have been kind and
good to you and given things to you. But I do not care for that now I’m
going to kill you and started to towards her to, to kill her and she then raised
the hot iron which she still had in her hand and told him if he came any
nearer she would throw it in his face, and she started to do so, then he turned
and ran. Surely she must have had great presence of mind and surely the
hand of God was with her and gave her courage in that hour of need.

There was another cousin of Grandmother’s a beautiful young lady, tall, fair
complexion, and light long hair whose mother prepared a dinner for her to
take to her father and his men, who were working some little distance from
the house. She did not return at the usual time and her mother thought she
was just waiting for her father and when her father returned unaccompanied
by his daughter her mother asked where she was and to her great
astonishment the father said he had not seen her since he left in the morning;
so immediate search was made not only by the father and his men but by all
the neighbours and friends who came to seek and the search was kept up for
days and nights by both women and men and the precious daughter was
never found, or heard tell of again. In going to her father she would need to
pass through a short piece of woods, which had always been thought
perfectly safe and many a time she had passed through safely but they
thought that this time there must have been some dreaded deamon Indians
lurking in this bit of woods and had captured her. Our heavenly father alone
knows the sorrow of the heart of that father and mother when search had to
be given up and the dear precious daughter not found. Could they only have
known that she was dead it would have been a comfort, but they might have
kept her pining away for years lonely and alone as far as earthly friends were
concerned, yearning for the loved ones at home. God alone could comfort
that father, mother and daughter. A great trial surely.

Well I must go back to my grandmother again. When she was a little girl
during the war of 1812, 1813 and 1814 women and children had to flee to
the woods for safety and each had to carry a bundle according to their size,
age and strength and remain there until the men brought word that it was
safe to return to their homes again. They needed to be in readiness with food
and cloths for their bundles, for they did not know how long they would
have to stay and they had a long distance to go to worship on Sunday so
they dressed all but their feet and they carried their shoes and stockings till
they got nearly there and there was a little river where they would always
stop wash their feet and dress them and go on to the place of worship. This
was your great-great-grandmother Montgomery’s days. Not much like your
and my days is it? We now enjoy the fruit of the labor of our forefathers.

Now I’ll tell you something about our grandmother and when I am through I
may say the half has not been told., for you had to know her to know her
goodness. She was tall, straight, fair complexion, blue eyes and wavy hair,
very refined and lady like. Rev.Teason said she had a brain and intellect
above the mediocrity. She was a first class housekeeper and cook, a
wonderful woman in sickness and trouble. Neighbours and friends would
come for her in times of sickness; was better many times than a Doctor.
Elijah Pelton had a very sick child who was given up by the Doctors, they
said she could not live. So he came for Grandma. She went early in the
morning, worked with that child till late at night, came home and told me the
child was quite a lot better and the child continued to gain, and today is
married to your Uncle James Hyndman at Grant’s Mills. She feared
nothing. In those early days when there were people emigrating there was a
woman who had cholera and everybody was afraid to go near her and she
had no one to care for her so Grandma would go and take nourishment and
drinks to her and just before she passed away she asked for the woman who
had given her the drinks, she wanted to see her. In trouble she was
sympathetic and could always give good advice. She had a wonderful store
of knowledge and she was of a very kind disposition and very patient. I
never heard her speak an unkind word to anyone, She too was a Methodist
so you see we have had Methodism handed down to us ever since there were
Methodists, and her home was always open to the servents of God.
After grandfather was dead a good many years grandma married Mr. Benjamin Beach;
to them was born a daughter Caroline and a son Albert
who was father of Assa, Richard and Elias who are now in the west; you
know them. Grandma was a beautiful sewer, could do all kinds of sewing
and fancy work also knitting. I took all the care of her in ther last illness;
she was over a year confined to her bed and before she passed away she
heard them singing in heaven and saw the Pearley Gates wide open and
wondered that I could not hear them too. She went home triumphantly and I
missed her O so much, for she was like a mother to us children.I pray that
God will help me to so live that I’ll meet with those dear ones who have
passed on before, where there is no more parting and good bye is never said.

Written by Maria A.Grant McQuaig.


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