The Marsh Farm

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The land now owned by Mrs. J. Milton Thompson was granted by the Governor General of Canada, Sir Guy Carleton to the Honorable Isaac Buckanan, a wholesale merchant of Hamiton, consisting of 200 acres, signed by Governor Monk at Quebec on October 23, 1862. It extended from the 10th concession being Lot 9 of Howard Township, Kent County, north to Main Street in Ridgetown.

William Marsh came from England around 1760 and bought this piece of land for 50 cents an acre.

Travel was mostly on foot in those days through the wilderness; with an occasional ride on horse-back. As late as 1842 there were only 25 wagons in the whole of the counties of Kent and Lambton. In the primeval forest, for years every settler within 5 miles was a neighbor in reality. They enjoyed true contentment, and this is a blessing which the notary of wealth often seeks for in vain.

The feminine sex showed themselves just as active as their men-folk. There was for instance, Sarah Marsh, wife of that sturdy Englishman, Wm. Marsh, one of the pioneers of Ridgetown. Born in Scotland in 1779, she was 45 years old when she first came to her husband's humble cabin in the wilderness. She often did her shopping at the only sizeable town which was then called York. A single distance was about 185 miles. She apparently would make the entire journey on foot carrying a load of heavy farm produce on the outward trip and bringing back with her the groceries she had managed to purchase.

Mr. Marsh was notorious for his tall stories, some of which would rank well with Major Hoople's alleged exploits. When Daddy Marsh got his imagination in good working order, his wife, to save the family's reputation would burst the bubble with, "Daddy, yourn the worst liar the Lord ever let live. They raised 2 sons, of which some of Ridgetown's streets got their names.

In 1879, Ridgetown held a public reception and presentation of a medal to Mrs. Marsh as she had attained the remarkable age of 101 years. It was held in John Mitton's field, now Victoria Park. Ridgetown then boasted a population of around 2000 people. What a wonderful experience for the first settlers to live and see this development.

She died on her birthday, June 3rd in 1883, being 104 years old, surely one of Canada's oldest women and a testimony to the benefits of much walking. She lies buried in the most beautiful churchyard of Canada. It is on an elevated site, the graves dot the slopes. In the background filling the horizon are the blue waters of Lake Erie. Near the churchyard gate is a monument erected by the Author's Society of South Western Ontario to Archibald Lampman, the poet born in 1861 who was a son of the Rector at Trinity Church.

In the Wheeler's Lumber yard, in the south corner is the burial place of Mr. Marsh as his wish was to be laid to rest on his own farm.

In 1868, Honorable Buchanan sold 123-1/2 acres of this farm to David Watterworth, and the remainder to Rev. Sinclair who was a Church of Christ (Disciple). Minister Rev. Sinclair sold his part of the farm to Donald J. McLean. Mr. Charles Whitman bought 5-1/2 acres from Mr. McLean and erected a cement block (lined with brick) house and barn on the land. He died, leaving a widow who sold the place to Mr. J. Wesley Beattie, who in 1943 sold to Mrs. Milton Thompson who died in 1954. He sold 2 acres to James Leatherdale; but the remaining 3-1/2 acres is owned by his widow Ida Jane Thompson.

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Transcribed from the records of Mrs. Geo. S. Brien, Rural Ridgetown Women's Institute.