Fred Brien's Property

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This property was first taken up by Ebenezer Colby about the year 1824. He was one of the first settlers at Ridgetown and part of this farm became Ward 3 of the town of Ridgetown. At this time, all was solid forest, part of this farm was very low land and was considered unlikely to ever become valuable farm land. It was known as the long swamp and was a paradise for wild pigeon and wild turkey. The patent to the property was obtained from Col. Talbot who was the land agent. A settler could obtain the patent to 100 acres on the payment of $20. Often it was 25 years before the settler was able to obtain this sum.

Ebenezer Colby was an American from New York and never made known his reason for leaving the United States. He told of being pursued by thugs when returning from New York one time, and on arriving home he nailed the floorboards of his cabin and barred the windows against attackers. His cabin was situated behind the residence of the late Peter Bawden and the brick dwelling there at the present time was built by his brother Philander Colby. Ebenezer Colby married Jane Scane and when the town of Ridgetown was laid out Ebenezer and Jane Streets were named after them. They had no family.

John P. McKinlay, whose wife was Mary Ritter from Ohio, was the next owner of this farm about 1854. The farm was still a forest and much of it was cleared in his time. Mr. McKinlay was a carpenter by trade and built the large frame house which is still the farm home. Mr. McKinlay had a family of three sons and one daughter - Arthur McKinlay, John who became Judge McKinlay of Detroit, Peter who died in youth, and Jennie who married W.G. Malcomson.

The next owner of this farm was Edward Brien who never lived on it but traded farms with William Brien in the year 1900; his wife was Allie Scane who died young leaving a family of six sons and one daughter - James P, Joseph, Charlie, Harry, Fred, George, and Lillian. Mr. Brien cleared the farm of ail remaining timber, drained the and put it all under cultivation. He died in 1920 leaving his son Fred in possession of the farm; his wife was Verna Spencer and they have two sons and one daughter, Ralph, Harry and Ruth, who is now Mrs. Glenn Stephens. Fred and his son Ralph, whose wife was Frances 0'Neiil, and who have one son, Leslie, are still in the year l947 living on the farm.

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