John Innis History
See Margaret Roach History
John Innis was the first child of James and Elizabeth Innis and was born February 12, 1767 in New Foundland. He married Margaret Roach. All of his children were born in New Brunswick where he lived in Sussex Vale on a farm.
Some of their adult children were already married when in the early 1820's word started filtering back to New Brunswick of the fertile land and the more desirable climate to be found in what was then known as Canada West (Ontario today). By 1822 many Loyalists families had joined the few Pre-Loyalists settlers in the Sussex area. The New Brunswick government encouraged immigration from the British Isles and tradesmen from the industrial center of England along with the peasants came in vast numbers. Land was now almost entirely settled. James and his neighbors wanted to move to the vast unsettled land of Canada West.
Canada West was still all forests and was very sparsely populated. The incentive of a better life for himself and his family make Johnís second eldest son, James, decide to join a caravan of several New Brunswick families that were leaving for Canada West in the spring of 1822.
By the following August, James had purchased 100 acres of land on Concession 5 Lot 10 in Blenheim Township of Oxford County. He began clearing his land and with the timber built a shelter for his wife and children before the coming of the winter months. In the spring James planted the fields he had cleared and sent word back to his parents and his adult siblings encouraging them to join him.
In 1825 John Innis and his family migrated to Ontario. Family tradition records that he joined a migrating caravan lead by Reavely. Members of the group were Mudge, Sepprells, Stocktons, Nevers - about fifty families.
After selling any farms the families owned they began the long journey in the early part of 1825. They traveled by boat from St. John via the Bay of Fundy into the Atlantic Ocean and staying close to the shorelines traveled the coast all the way to New York, then into the Hudson River, through the Erie Cana and into Lake Ontario. From there, we must assume they followed along the shores of New York to the narrowest crossing, perhaps above Niagara, and landed somewhere close to Hamilton. From there they would have traveled by ox carts loaded with their possession while the men walked the last fifty plus miles to Blenheim.
When one considers that John and Margaret were already in their late fifties, this journey must have been extremely difficult for them.
After reaching Blenheim Township, which is near Drumbo in the Woodstock area, John did not buy land immediately but took about two months to search the area for just the right property. He eventually bought from Judge Powell 600 acres of land near the Nith River for the price of $1,000. It was situated on what was called the town line between Brant and Oxford County. He built a good log house, 20x18 and cleared 20 acres. He had a good yoke of oxen, 2 cows and "jest was going to buy more" as he wrote to his brother Moses in New Brunswick.
As one could imagine most of the Innis family knew, visited and attended church with old neighbors from New Brunswick. (Little New Brunswick in Blenheim)
A book about the 1837 rebellion showed that William Lyon Mackenzie listed the "Family Compact" which divided up the government positions and large tract of land among just a few people. Dummer Powell, Legislative Councilor for life, Justice of Peace, Pensioner of 1,000 lbs. was granted 10,903 acres.
John sold 100 acres to his son Isaac for 100 lbs. Since Isaac, our ancestor, married in June of 1827 it was a start for his home. John later sold to his son Moses 100 acres for the same amount of money two years before Mosesí marriage to Rachael Dawson.
In a letter to his brother Moses in New Brunswick he mentions that his son Moses had an attack of ague (malaria) which lasted two months. He was sorry that he left friends in New Brunswick but he had to come. He raised all kinds of grain and timber, like butternut 5 foot through, tall black cherry, oak and hickory for sawing logs. He tells of buying his land and how he felt good about it. There were wolves, bear, and tens of thousand of deer and raccoons that steal the Indian corn. It is a "howling wildernessí. He had cleared 20 acres and had built his log house. He was making potash to sell and had bought large kettles for that purpose.
He describes in the same letter a dismal night in Boston Bay. Apparently a boat hit an American Schooner while they were on a caravan that came from St. John to attend a religious meeting on Long Island. They had gone up the Hudson to the Erie Canal 333 miles.
John writes that he lives one mile from his daughter Jane and Thomas Roach, one half mile from his daughter, Margaret and her husband
McLeod Gilchrist, four miles from his daughter Letticia McLeod. He sends greetings to his mother if alive. (She died two years later while living with Jessie Sherwood in 1851.)
He says that St. John is good country, but he came to Ontario for his childrenís sake and to keep them from the Cumberland Road. As he hoes corn, he thinks of them all. He states that his brother Isaac is a grief to him, but God brings good luck. (His brother Isaac was living with the William Rupert family and was described as insane but harmless in the 1851 census for Norton, New Brunswick.)
John writes that Jane Innis sends her love. (She was Isaacís daughter who accompanied her uncle John west and later married Sam Nevers in Ontario.)
Among other things John mentions a Camp Meeting just 13 miles away where 5,000 wicked people came from New York.
John wrote a letter dated June 28, 1828 which was delivered to his brother Moses in New Brunswick by Mr. Rupert. He says he has been very sick with fever and ague for six weeks. He feels that brother Moses was wise to stay in New Brunswick, but would like him to come for a visit. (Moses did indeed visit Ontario by boat. His ticket for the trip is the Kingís County Museum in Hampton, New Brunswick.)
In letters John speaks of the many people migrating to the area, both rich and poor alike. He tells of the rich farmers from Philadelphia settling in Waterloo Township and also of the poor farmer and that "no man need to want for bread in this country, yet there is plenty of poor people here and drinking, lazy men who will not try to live." He tells Moses that "this is a very healthy country that one need not depend on any others for bread or meat or whiskey or sugar and many more things so that a man can live on his own farm." He speaks of money itself being very scarce, yet the merchant would sometimes pay cash for wheat. Potash is 100 to 180 a ton and wheat 50 cents a bushel. A cow costs $15.00. Wheat and corn sell for fifty cents a bushel, pork for $3.00 a barrel.
He describes briefly the journey west as a passage through the Garden of God, mentions that New York is a big town. There was something new everyday on the journey west. He traveled 333 miles. He saw 50 acres covered with salt flats (the Onondaga Salt Flats of New York). Brantford Village is 112 miles away from his farm and is building up fast. A village called Nithville is 31/2 miles away. (The place was later called Canning.)
He concludes the letter by saying that the robins are singing in Canada.
In one letter John mentions that his wife Margaret has "ill turns". Margaret and John passed away within eleven months of each other. Margaret in January and John in December or 1834. They are buried in Riverside Cemetery near Drumbo, Ontario. Their grave markers have long since toppled over and are now among a pile of broken markers in the corner of the cemetery. Two of their children are buried in this cemetery a well as a granddaughter, Naomi, the daughter of great great grandfather Moses. How many others of these early Inises are buried here is something no one will ever know.
Throughout Johnís letters you can hear the thought of a very religious man who did not put a great deal of emphasis on material things. except to provide and easier life for his children. His thoughts were often on the hereafter - "my greatest joy is that ere long, I shall meet with you in the eternal world of light never to part, but we shall range the blessed fields on the banks of the river."
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