Historical Plaque Properties

 

Edward Gill - Stone Cutter
6137 Perth Line 20
1862

In 1834 Edward Gill, a stone cutter, left his home in Devonport, a seaside town in Devonshire, England to come to Canada.  He returned two years later to marry Maria Bickell, also from Devonshire, England. Together they sailed from the port of Plymouth, landing in New York City several weeks later.  Their first child, a daughter Eliza, and William, the eldest of their seven sons were born in the United States before they made their way to Canada.  

 

In Canada, Edward found work as a stone cutter in the construction of the second Welland Canal. 

In the early 1840’s Edward and four of his fellow stone cutters travelled to southwestern Ontario looking for land.  At the same time, the Canada Company was selling in the St Marys area for $2 per acre. Their search led them to Fullarton Township (now part of West Perth) where they found properties in what is now known as the South Thames Road area.

 

In 1844, Edward acquired the title to Lot 32, and returned to eventually bring Maria and their young family which now included sons Edward, born in Thorold in 1843, and Charles, born in Welland in 1845, to what would become the Gill family farm.  Edward built a log house and a barn much closer to the road than the current house.  The family grew to include sons, Richard, George, Frederick and Robert along with a second daughter, Jane. Two other daughters died in infancy.

 

In 1862 the log house was replaced with the existing 2 storey stone house located, at the urging of Maria Gill, further back on the property and away from a blacksmith shop adjacent to their first dwelling. Most of the field stones used in its construction were found on the property.

 

The 1871 Canadian census indicates that Edward and Maria were living there with five of their sons and daughter Jane. Her older sister Eliza, with her husband Lawrence William Short, and their four children were on a farm in Logan Township. Charles, the third son was married to Jane Slater of Nissouri Township in adjoining Oxford County and, in the coming years, sons Richard and George would marry sisters Ellen and Emily Yeo, residents of Hibbert Township (also now part of West Perth).  William, the eldest son, married Laura Gleason, also from Nissouri Township and the young couple travelled to Cargill, Missouri where their first two children, sons John and Gleason (named after the maiden name of his mother), were born. After a few years they returned to the family homestead. According to a local newspaper report, Mrs. Gill and the children made the journey by train while William travelled in a wagon drawn by a team of mules who remained to live and work on the Gill farm. Two daughters, Mary and Maria completed the family who, in 1893, left Fullarton Township to settle in Oak River, Manitoba where William and Laura remained for the remainder of their lives. His brother Frederick and his wife Mary Ann also moved west to Manitoba.

 

In 1899 William and Laura’s son Gleason with his bride, Manetta Roy, whose grandfather, William Roy had worked on the Welland Canal with Edward Gill, took over the family farm. As the years went by they made many upgrades including installing a bathroom in 1918 and electricity in 1938. In 1900 the first barn was moved closer to the stone house but unfortunately, in 1930, it was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. It was replaced with a steel structure.


Edward and Maria, with their daughter Jane, moved into St Marys where they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1887 with all members of the family and their descendants present. Edward died in 1899 and Maria in 1907 and they are buried in the St Marys cemetery with their daughter Jane and son Edward who died in California in 1888. Edward’s obituary in the St Marys Journal refers to him as “a highly esteemed citizen having lived here many years.”