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From Pennsylvania to Waterloo - A Biographical History of Waterloo Township

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Ezra Eby's Introduction

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In bringing before the public a History of the early settlers of the township of Waterloo and adjoining townships, it becomes necessary to give a brief sketch of the antecedents of the people who bear the most conspicuous part.

These early pioneers belonged to a Sect too well known to have a detailed narration of their founder, faith, method of living, etc. given here.

The main point of distinction from other Protestant bodies was the objection to military service and abhorrence of warfare and military life, the taking of Judicial Oaths, and Baptism of Infants.

This Sect (Mennonites) being persecuted by the different state parties of Europe, found a refuge in America. The first of their doctrine, after being requested by the ever-to-be renowned William Penn to settle within his colony, came in 1683 and settled in Germantown. where they proved to be a religious, law-abiding and prosperous people.

Here the name "Pennsylvania Dutch" was first given them, a term applied as a distinction rather than one of disrespect.

These people branched out over various counties of Pennsylvania, and other colonies but they retained their peculiar theories as stated above and their exclusiveness from all worldly society.

The outbreak of the American revolution caused a somewhat lack of harmony among these people. Some sympathized with the British and for conscience's sake could not justify the doings of the colonial party, while others (American born) were strongly advocating in favor of the independence of the thirteen colonies.

This struggle was probably the cause of the migration to Canada of the first representatives of this class (Pennsylvania Dutch), especially so if we take in consideration the side of politics to which the early settlers leaned. They were all strong United Empire Loyalists and consequently Tories.

We find that in 1798 the pioneers crossed the border and formed settlements near the Niagara while others passed on to York County, along Yonge Street, north of Toronto. But the first to come to Waterloo township were Joseph Sherk and Samuel Betzner, who came here in 1800 from Franklin County, Penna. In the following year came the Bechtels, Beans, Kinseys, Clemens, Shupes, Livergoods, and Sararas. In 1807 came the Baumanns, Ebys, Erbs, Snyders, Webers, and later the Martins, Hallmans, Groffs, Detweilers, Shoemakers, Kolb, Clemens, etc.

The names of the families coming to this county will be given in an alphabetical order together with the dates, places of settlement, occupation, names of children, etc.

As regards the History of the early settlers their descendants must truly take an interest in reading the biographies of those renowned and ever-to-be-remembered pioneers of this township and county.

The undersigned now takes occasion to sincerely thank all parties who have so ably assisted him in getting out the work. Special thanks P. E. W. Moyer, Editor Daily News, Berlin; Rev, J. N. Brubacher, Salunga, Pennsylvania; Simon P. Bowman, California; Samuel S. Moyer, Berlin; and others.

In conclusion the undersigned commits his work to the judgment of the readers of our County, simply as a contribution to the local history, claiming nothing but a mere collection of Manuscripts and sketches that may prove from the facts recorded, interesting to the reader.

With these remarks the work is now submitted to the public.

Berlin, Ont., August 9th 1895.


THIS work, issued in two volumes, gives a brief sketch of the many families who came from Pennsylvania to this county nearly a hundred years ago. To it is added a short history of the forefathers those early settlers, giving their Nationality, Religion, cause of coming to America, time of their arrival, in which county they settled in Pennsylvania, etc.

These pioneers were all of one faith and. spoke the same dialect, known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.

The information and facts given in this work have been diligently sought after by the undersigned for years and much time and labor has been bestowed upon the work. Events and facts have been obtained from the descendants of the early settlers and from parties in Pennsylvania, from the manuscripts of the late Rev. Benjamin Eby, Bishop of the Mennonites, as also from P. E. W. Moyer, editor Daily News, Berlin; Samuel S. Moyer, Berlin; Simon P. Bowman, and others, in order to make this an interesting work for the present and future generations.

It is now submitted to the public in the belief it will prove to their interest and approval.

Wo sin jetzt die Alte Doddy's
  Von der gute Alte Zeit?
Wo sin die gute Alte Mommy's
  Die Schoene gute Alte Leit?

Ma sebut sie nimme bei uns do,
  Die Schoene gute Alte Leit;
Im Himmel sin sie jetzt so fro,
  Un frehen sich in Ewigkeit.



In bringing before the public a History of Waterloo, no attempt is made to give a detailed History of all the early settlers, but only of such who formed the most conspicuous part in the assistance of forming the early settlements. A brief sketch of the antecedents of those hearty pioneers would not be out of place. During the beginning of the sixteenth century while state persecutions were carried on in almost every country in Europe, the so-called "Non-Conformists," in all countries, northern Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Poland, Denmark, and even Russia, Were cruelly persecuted and subjected to all manner of sufferings. Such treatment from the hands of the leaders of governments and states caused these "Non-Conformists" to cast their eyes westward for a new home where they might serve God according to their spiritual views, and to the teaching of the Bible. These "Non-Conformists," called Taufgesinnten in Germany, Waldenser in Switzerland and France, and Vaudois in Italy, advocated strongly against all manner of warfare, and would therefore under no circumstances whatever bear weapons of war or take part in military operations. Nor could they be prevailed upon to the taking of oaths in court. They also advocated strongly against infant baptism. In 1536 Simon Menno renounced his connection with the Roman Catholic Church, of which body he was a priest Soon after His separation from that body he was met by a number of persons whom he describes as being of one heart and soul with himself, and these (Non-Conformists) earnestly besought Menno to take upon himself the ministry of the Gospel. He became a powerful instrument in the hands of God to spread the true teachings of the Bible. Later on all Non-Conformists of Holland, Germany and Denmark were called Mennonites. These people were continually persecuted and harassed by the various governments, but in the midst of all their trials and sufferings they prospered. Before the end of the century these Mennonites numbered their adherents by thousands, in various Countries on the Continent of Europe. But the persecutions became so great that these unoffending people were forced to emigrate to places where religious toleration prevailed. Thus we find that in 1700 the first of the Mennonites came from Holland and settled in Germantown, near Philadelphia, and were soon followed by others of their faith, from Germany, Switzerland, etc. (From the valuable notes of P. E. W. Moyer, Editor Daily News, Berlin.) These settled in Lancaster, Berks, Franklin, Bucks, and Montgomery Counties, where at present great numbers of their descendants are still living. In the year 1709 several families came from "Pfaltz," originally from Switzerland, and settled in Lancaster County, and were followed by many others in eight or ten years afterwards. Most of these people were poor and had to endure many hardships in their new homes. In the midst of all this they had firm reliance upon their Heavenly Father who comforted and sustained them in all their trials. Here they enjoyed all the religious liberty and privileges for which they had longed so many years, and soon by their great perseverance and industry, they made for themselves the most excellent homes. No place on this side of the Atlantic can be found to equal, much less surpass, some of those counties which were first settled by these people. In the course of time when the population of Pennsylvania became rather too dense for an agricultural community, it was found necessary to seek homes in newer and more thinly populated places, settlements were made by these people in Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, and other places, all these emigrants still, however, retaining their identity and comparative exclusiveness from all other classes of the community. In all those new places the most marked success as usual attended them. No other class of settlers have ever been known to be so universally successful. They have always had the extraordinary fortune to select the very best part of the country in which they settled and with those natural advantages they combined their great industry which has ever resulted in making the locality of the State or Province in which they settled, the best to be found. In the year 1798, when those parts of Pennsylvania which were settled by continental Europeans had become so populous that it was impossible for all to obtain land at home, some families from Bucks and other counties, decided to emigrate to the wilds of Canada, where it was reported there were excellent tracts of land for farming purposes. Although these people did not take any part in either side of politics, yet their sympathies leaned toward the Crown during the Revolutionary war, and immediately after peace was restored and the Independence of the thirteen colonies declared, hundreds of these people and others called U. E. Loyalists, left their homes and property in the new Republic and travelled to British territory, to the north of the Lakes and River St. Lawrence. The cause of this may have been the great faith they had in the British Government in fulfilling their promise, made to them over one hundred years previously, in granting them exemption from military services and from taking the oaths. All these things had a tendency to give them attachments to the countries ruled by Britain, and finally may have been the principal cause of their settling in Canada. The first settlements which these people made in this province were in the Niagara District at what is commonly called "The Twenty." Afterwards some settled in the County of York, while others passed to Norfolk and Essex Counties. At all these places we still find large settlements of the descendants of these early pioneers. In the fall of 1799, Joseph Schorg (now spelled Shirk and Sherk,) and Samuel Betzner came from Franklin County, Pennsylvania, to Canada. Their loyalty to the British Crown is regarded by their descendants as the cause of their coming to Canada. They arrived safely on the Canadian side of the Niagara River. Schorg spent the winter at or near the Falls, while Betzner came to the neighborhood known as Ancaster, and remained there till spring. Being dissatisfied with these sections as permanent places of location, they pressed onward about thirty miles beyond the then limit of civilization, the particular cause being a desire to discover and locate upon the bank of a fine river of which they had heard as traversing this region. No white settlers had as yet penetrated the depths of these forests, but a few Traders in furs had established themselves in temporary quarters at intervals throughout that part of the wilderness bordering on civilization; and of these, three located temporally on the banks of the Grand River, within the County of Waterloo. Their names were Dodge, Preston, and Woodward. The two last named left this locality upon the approach of the pioneers, but Dodge remained and became a permanent and prominent landmark of the community. In the year 1799 and 1800 two Englishmen named Ward and Smith were engaged in slashing the way for a road which the Government contemplated building from Dundas towards this County.

Having satisfied themselves from a thorough examination of soil, surface of land, timber, etc., and the excellent water of the River and the many smaller streams, a11 of which abounded in a great supply of fish, they found everything beyond their expectations and decided to settle on the banks of the Grand River. They returned to the Niagara Frontier and in spring of 1800 moved here with their families. They had to pass through a wilderness of thirty miles from Dundas to their location. Sherk and Betzner purchased their land directly from Richard Beasley and paid for it. Sherk exchanged his horse for the land so purchased, but still had sufficient means left to purchase a yoke of oxen and a sled, by which means he transported his family to Waterloo in the early spring of 1800, and located on a tract of land on the east banks of the Grand River, directly opposite the village of Doon of the present; while Betzner took up what has since been known as the B. B. Bowman farm, on the west side of the river, and adjoining the village of Blair of the present. Later in the spring of the same year the second party of settlers from Pennsylvania arrived in Waterloo, consisting of Samuel Betzner, Sr., John Reichert and Christian Reichert. These parties brought their teams and wagons, together with their household effects. They came from Lancaster County. At this time there was no white settlement where Buffalo is now situated. The site of Hamilton was an impassable swamp; and the only "symptom" of a village where is now Dundas, consisted of a small mill and a smaller store owned by a Mr. Hatt. Ancaster had a few small houses and a little mill. Some settlements on the mountain had been made. The Hornings, Hesses, Beasleys Springers, and others settled there a few years previously. Samuel Betzner, Sr., settled on the Grand River opposite Doon, his property adjoining that of Joseph Sherk, while the Reicherts settled near Freeport.

In 1800, David Gingerich travelled from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to Canada to see the country and selected a lot west of Doon upon which he intended to settle. In fall of the same year he returned to his home in Pennsylvania. He, in company with his wife, his father Abraham Gingerich and wife, and eight children, left early in spring of 1801 for Canada. They brought one wagon with five horses attached to it, two horses to ride, twelve head of cattle and as many sheep. It took them five weeks to come as far as Binkley's, below Dundas, and one week from there through the Beverly Swamp, to Waterloo. When they arrived at their location made at Doon the year previously, they found that another person had located thereon a few weeks earlier. This consequently caused Gingerich to make another selection of a lot upon which to settle. His choice of location was east of Preston, on the farm afterwards occupied by his son, David Gingerich. Abraham Gingerich, his father, purchased the place afterwards occupied by Isaac Bergey. The hardships of those early pioneers were very great. It is stated that even the peelings of potatoes had to be saved to plant in the spring of 1802.

In the same year seven families more, together with some single persons, came to Waterloo from Montgomery County in one company. These families were George Bechtel with wife and seven children, Abraham Bechtel and wife, Jacob Bechtel with wife and four children, Dilman Kinsey with wife and one child, Benjamin Rosenberger with wife and four children, old John Biehn, Sr, with wife and four (grown up) children, and John Biehn (Biehn now spelled Bean) and wife. Amongst the unmarried men who belonged to this company, was George Clemens, who has always borne a leading part in the development of this county. There were nine teams in this train, two of them having four horses. All the wagons were covered. They were often obliged to stay in the woods over night while on their journey, but they were prepared to protect themselves against all kinds of weather as they had in addition to their covered wagons, movable tents which rendered the most useful and valuable service. They also brought a number of cows with them which supplied the company with milk while on their way. The most extraordinary difficulties, however, beset them while crossing the Alleghany Mountains with their heavily laden teams. They found it necessary to unload a considerable portion of their baggage and goods, and pay for their conveyance, their own teams being utterly unable to bring all across. They crossed the Niagara River on what was then called “Flats.” There was no accident nor sickness on this trip. The time required in coming from Montgomery County to Waterloo County was ten weeks, including the two weeks which they laid over at “Horning’s” “on the mountain” while the men in the company worked on the road through the Beverly Swamp, making it so that horse-teams in some way could be taken over it. There was no settlement between Horning’s and Waterloo. After this road was improved, the company left Horning’s for Waterloo with their teams. George Clemens drove the first horse-team that ever came through the Beverly Swamp. When they arrived at the end of their long journey they found the country as they had expected, all woods except a few clearings made by those who had come here a short time previously. They soon selected places where they commenced to make themselves homes. George Bechtel settled a little west of Blair, the place now known as the Eshelman farm. Jacob Bechtel where his son, the late Henry Bechtel lived. Benjamin Rosenberger a little above where Preston now stands, on the farm where the late Henry Hagey resided. Dilman Kinsey a little west of Doon where his son, Jacob Kinsey, still resides. John Biehn on the place where the village of Doon now stands. Old John Biehn a mile west of Doon on the farm where now his grandson, Aaron Biehn, resides. George Clemens settled on a farm about one mile east of Preston. The place is still known by the name of "Old Clemens farm" or the "Stauffer Clemens" place. In 1800 Michael Bear came from York County, Pennsylvania, to see the country. In 1801 he moved here with his family and settled near Preston. Rev. John Bear is a son of old Michael. In fall of 1801 we find that this beautiful county had a population of 12 families, all from Pennsylvania. This county was separated from the settlements on the mountain and Dundas by the almost impassable "Beverly Swamp." This fearful swamp had to be passed through in order to get to the nearest mill and store, situated where Dundas now is, some twenty-five miles distant. The settlers had to construct their own roads. The Government in those days granted no assistance whatever in the constructing and opening of public roads. All public business had to be done in "Little York" (Toronto) to which this county belonged. Schools were not yet established. In the year 1802 quite a number came from Montgomery, Cumberland and other Counties of Pennsylvania. Andrew Sararas, John Shupe, George Shupe, John Livergood, Joseph Wismer with wife and two sons, John and Henry, David Wismer, the Ringlers, Cornells, Saltzbergers and others came this year. A few weeks later than the above families came, Joseph Bechtel (who became the first Mennonite minister in Waterloo County) with his family, John Bricker and family, and Samuel Bricker, who afterward became the leading man in the formation of the German Company, came from Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, to this County. They had two four-horse teams and were four weeks in making the trip. The Beverly Swamp was in a most fearful state when they came through it. The road was almost impassable and caused them the greatest trouble in getting to Waterloo. This year a little school was started near where the village of Blair is now situated, a person by the name of Rittenhouse being the first teacher in the County of Waterloo. Roads were now made. Considerable land was cleared by the settlers. Great trouble was experienced in getting to the mill, the nearest one being at Dundas. This great want soon led to the erection of a little grist mill where Gald is now situated, by on John Miller, who owned a thousand acres of land in that locality. This John Miller resided at Niagara, but gave the contract of building it to “Old Dodge,” who was a mill-wright by trade. After the mill was erected and the necessary machinery placed in it, one by the name of Maas became the miller. The building was a small one, not exceeding 24x28 feet in dimensions and 1½ storey high, yet it was highly appreciated by the early pioneers of this County. Mr. Miller who had this mill erected, took an active part with the Americans in 1813, and consequently forfeited all his property on the Grand River. It will thus be seen that at the close of the year 1802 quite a number of families had made settlements in Waterloo. Most of them, if not all, had purchased their land from Richard Beasley, who was supposed to be the owner of the Township of Waterloo, and paid him for it, receiving deeds which they supposed to be good. In January, 1803, Samuel Bricker, then being quite a young man, had some business in “little York” (Toronto), to which place he traveled on foot. While passing the evening at an inn, he picked up a conversation with a gentleman whose name he did not remember. This stranger made inquiry about the Waterloo tract and the many settlements that were now made thereon. After Mr. Bricker giving him the desired information, the stranger informed him that Richard Beasley was not the sole owner of the large tract of land of which he was selling lots to the settlers. In order to inform himself of the facts, Samuel Bricker obtained a copy of the original deed issued by Indian Chief Joseph Brant unto Richard Beasley, James Wilson, and John B. Rosseau for a tract of land containing 94012 acres. This deed included the lands of all the Waterloo settlers, and had it not been for a joint mortgage, recorded at Niagara, against the tract all would have been well, but owing to the mortgage many of the settlers became discouraged and were afraid of losing their newly formed home. Samuel Bricker went to Beasley and informed him of what information he gained pertaining to the mortgage on the Township of Waterloo. Beasley informed him that all was true and that the settlers should not become alarmed, he would see to it that the mortgage was paid. The settlers not being altogether satisfied, and somewhat suspicious of a possibility of their being deprived of their possessions, engaged Jacob Bechtel and Samuel Betzner, at a dollar a day to go to the government headquarters at Niagara and obtain the true facts of this matter. Their investigation proved that there was a joint mortgage of $20,000.00 recorded against the large tract of land, known then as the “Beasley Tract.” This sad intelligence put a stop, for a short time, on the influx of emigrants from Pennsylvania and consequently Richard Beasley could no sell any more land. This caused him to make a proposal to the settlers. The proposal was that they should form a company and purchase the entire tract, offering as an inducement 500 acres of land to the man getting up such a company. The settlers met in January 1804 and decided to send Samuel Bricker and Joseph Sherk and requested them to go to Franklin County, Pennsylvania to their friends and relatives and make an effort to raise the required amount to lift the mortgage. They failed in their undertaking both in Cumberland and Franklin counties. This so discouraged Joseph Sherk that he would not go farther but immediately returned to Canada in despair, leaving Samuel Bricker who proceeded to Lancaster county. Here he made known his errand upon which a meeting of their friends and co-religionists (Mennonites) was called to give Samuel Bricker a hearing. It is a great pity that no copy of the speech made to the audience by Samuel Bricker has been kept. This ever-to-be-remembered meeting was held at the residence of John Eby (Old Hannes Eby), brother to Benjamin Eby who came here a few years later. Samuel Bricker’s speech must have made a marked and instant effect on the minds of the audience, for we know at this time there were strong companies formed by the Mennonites to purchase land in Maryland and Virginia for their poorer co-religionists. Canada, “the-way-out-of-the-world country,” as some called it, besides the idea to be ruled by the “Crown” did not prove favorable to those who leaned in favor of the newly formed Republic. So Canada and her representative were considered as nothing by the majority in Cumberland and Franklin Counties, and even in Lancaster County the majority o the meeting before Samuel Bricker delivered his remarkable speech, were opposed to the idea of helping their Canadian brethren in distress. The meeting was just about to decide against the granting of assistance when old “Hannes” Eby arose and advanced a new idea, namely, that they ought not to look upon the matter as a mere speculation to enrich themselves, which in all likelihood it would not do, but rather as their Christian duty to assist, if possible, their brethren in distress; that if it yielded them no profit in money, it would be doing their duty, an act that the Lord might in His own good time perhaps bless in a way neither of them thought of. If the eyes of the members and others who had assembled at that conference could now behold the many happy homes in the Township of Waterloo; could they see the many stately farm buildings and the numerous villages and towns that have sprung up since then, they would think that the works of old “Hannes” Eby have indeed become true, and that the kind and good Lord has blessed their act done on that ever-to-be-remembered day and even better and more abundantly than they could foresee or had reason to expect. No sooner was “Hannes” Eby through with his plain speech when all present rose to their feet and said, “Truly we are in duty bound to assist those Canadian brethren in distress.” Arrangements to organize a joint stock company were made at a special meeting held at the same place, namely at old “Hannes” Eby’s residence. At this meeting, held in April, 1804, the joint-stock company was fully organized. The stock should consist of eight shares, one of which should be the maximum and one-eighth of a share the minimum which any member could possess. All the stock was at once subscribed, and Samuel Bricker, taking one-half share, was appointed agent of the new organization. Daniel Erb was appointed Bricker's assistant. The company offered to pay their expenses and give them a fair salary, but they preferred to give their services free. The company entrusted them with $20,000.00, all in silver dollars. This money was put in a strong box and conveyed on what was then called a buggy (a leicht plasier weggli) over 500 miles through forests and swamp to Canada where it was paid to the proper parties. The buggy (Many years afterwards it used to stand in the driving shed on old Bricker’s farm rear Chicopee. A great pity it was not purchased by some antiquarian and placed in some museum to show the people on what conveyance the money to pay the Township, was brought here from Lancaster Pennsylvania) was presented to Samuel Bricker by the shareholders of the new company. In May of the same year Bricker with his assistant, Daniel Erb, left for their new home in Canada, carrying with them the large sum of money. There was some delay in the lifting of the mortgage, however after all the legal documents were examined and the state of affairs thoroughly investigated by the Hon. William Dickson of Niagara, who received twenty guineas for his services and legal advice. Finally all things were amicably arranged and the deed between Richard Beasley and his wife Henrietta, conveying 60,000 acres of land for £10,000 Canadian currency to Daniel Erb and Jacob Erb, who at the request of Samuel Bricker were appointed as agents for the company, was satisfactorily executed. The money was paid to Richard Beasley Now it was found necessary to have a regular survey of the tract and have it laid out in lots of 448 acres each. A draft of the Township of Waterloo was made by one named Jones, a surveyor, and a copy of it was sent to the stockholders in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The lots were all numbered and each share claimed a number of these lots. These were delivered among the stockholders by casting lots, and in so doing no dissatisfaction could take place, but each family on arriving here had the lot previously selected on which they intended to make their home. It would not be out of place to give a few extracts of the old deed now safely preserved in the Registry Office, Berlin, where it was placed, by Sheriff Springer. The original copy of the Deed reads as follows:

“This Indenture made at Barton in the County of Lincoln and District of Niagara, of the Province of Upper Canada, June 29th, l805, between Richard Beasley, of Barton, aforesaid, Esquire, and Henrietta his wife, of one part, and Daniel Erb, of Block Number two, on the Grand River in the County of York and Home District of the Province aforesaid, and Jacob Erb, of the same place, Yeomen, of the other part, Witnesseth that the said Beasley, for and in consideration of the sum of Ten thousand pounds of lawful money of Canada, etc., etc., hath granted etc., unto them, the said Daniel Erb and Jacob Erb and their heirs and assigns forever, All that certain parcel or tract of land situated in the County of York and Home District aforesaid, containing by admeasurement sixty thousand acres, more or less."

Then follows a long description of the whole tract of land together with many other conditions, obligations, etc. The Instrument is signed by the parties mentioned above and witnessed by. A. Cameron and Samuel Ryckman. A memorial of this deed was registered in the Registry Office of the County of York and Province of Upper Canada, the twenty-fourth day of July, 1805, at 9 o'clock in the forenoon, signed by Thomas Ridout, Registrar. A certificate, signed by William Dummer Powell, one of the Justices of the Courts of the King's Bench, is also on this document, which certificate states that Henrietta Beasley voluntarily debarred her dower on the said lands without coercion or the fear of coercion on the part of her husband or any other person. When now the land was properly secured, emmigration to this new settlement was renewed and many in the County of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, at once made preparations and soon after moved to Waterloo, Canada. In the year 1804, Michael Groh came from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and selected a place near Preston on which he had erected a small log house. In August of the same year he returned to Pennsylvania for his family. He left Montgomery in September (1804) but on his return he took sick and died. His family including his son John continued their journey through the forests and swamps and sometime in October safely arrived in Waterloo and settled on the place which their father had selected. In spring of 1805 came a party of settlers from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The families were John Erb and family who settled on the river Speed about two hundred rods from where now Erb's Mills, Preston, stands. Abraham Stauffer and family settled near where the Blair Bridge now is. William Correll settled south of Berlin, on the farm now owned by Rev. Samuel S. Baumann. Henry Kraft and family settled on next farm to William Correll's. Peter Hammacher and family settled a little above Doon. Matthias Scheirich and family settled near Berlin, on the farm now occupied by Daniel M. Weber. It took this company about five weeks to get to Waterloo. The Niagara River was crossed by a "Scow" from 12 to 14 feet in width and about 30 feet long. This scow was propelled by means of oars. It took them two days to come from Dundas to Preston. In the same year but a few months later came another company from Lancaster and settled a little further north. In this company were Christian Baumann and family, Samuel Eby (Indian Sam), George Eby and family and Joseph Eby and family. George Eby settled on the farm known as Jacob Y. Shantz's place one mile south-east of Berlin. Samuel Eby settled on the farm adjoining his brother, George Eby's. Samuel Eby's place is known as Jacob Frey's place near the Two Railroad Bridges. Joseph Eby not being favorably impressed with the appearance of the country, left Canada and first settled in York State, later in Ohio. In fall of 1805 quite a number of parties from Franklin County became anxious to settle in Canada. In order to have a better knowledge of this new country, Jacob Schneider and two other parties came on horse-back to see the country. They found some good company land not taken up yet, besides other parties who owned tracts of land not included in the Company’s Deed, anxious to sell their claims. The short sojourn here by these three was well spent in the gaining of information pertaining to the quality of soil, timber, etc., and the advisableness of urging others to settle here. So well was Jacob Schneider pleased with the country that he purchased 424 acres from Smith, who had assisted in opening the road from Dundas to the settlement in Waterloo. The land thus purchased by Jacob Schneider (commonly known as Old Yoch Schneider) was situated on the east side of the Grand River, known as the Oxbow, near the village of Bloomingdale. The party returned to Franklin County, Pennsylvania, after a few weeks had been passed with settlers who had come here a year or so previously, and all of whom gave glowing accounts of the future expectations in their new homes. In spring, 1806, quite a large company came from Franklin County, Pennsylvania, namely Jacob Schneider and family of nine children, Christian Schneider and family of eight children, Abraham Erb and wife, Jacob Erb and family, Simon Cress and family, Widow Brech and family, and the teamsters, making in all a company of 48 persons. This company started from Path Valley, about 12 miles from Chambersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania and were 32 days on their journey. Jacob Schneider brought 9 horses (2 four-horse teams and one saddle horse), Schristian Schneider had 1 four-horse team, Simon Cress had 1 yoke of oxen with 1 horse in front drawing his wagon, Widow Brech had 1 four-horse team. This lady met the Schneiders after having crossed the Alleghany Mountains. She came from Montgomery County. As this company brought a number of cattle with them, they had an abundant supply of milk and butter on the way. The bread and other eatables were prepared as required. It took this company over nine hours to get up the Alleghany Mountains, a distance of three miles. Six horses were required to draw a single wagon, and with such a force could only proceed from 10 to 12 rods before allowing their horses to rest again and gain strength for another “hitch.” Having reached the top of the Mountain, they camped for the night, both the man and beast feeling the want of a good rest. In crossing the Susquehanna River the water reached their wagon boxes, wetting some of their luggage. The next difficulty was to cross the Tonawonda River whose banks were not high but too steep and very muddy, and to effect a crossing the teamsters were obliged to cut trees into the stream from both sides and thereon construct some kind of passway for their heavy teams and wagons. This quickly constructed bridge resembled our later corduroy roads passing through swamps. Then the Niagara River was crossed. After 28 days’ journey this company arrived at the Twenty. Hamilton had at this time a small hotel and a few log houses. Dundas had a mill and store, besides a hotel and a few other log residences. The second night after leaving the Twenty this company arrived at Mr. Binkley’s between Hamilton and Dundas. Leaving Binkley’s early next morning they came all the way through the Beverly Swamp to a place now known as Sheffield, a little below Galt. Here they lodged for another night. The next day they came to Preston to John Erb’s where they had dinner. On this very day Mr. Erb raised his little saw mill. (This mill was finished in a month or so thereafter. Before this no sawed lumber could be obtained nearer than “Little York” or Niagara. Mr. Erb’s grist mill was erected in 1807.) Separating at John Erb’s each party now moved on their lot previously purchased.

Christian Schneider Log Home
Joseph Schneider Haus, 1980.011.001

Christian Schneider (his log dwelling is still standing and in good state or repair; is still used as dwelling; at present it is occupied by Rm. William Abra) settled a little west of Doon, Jacob Schneider passed on that very afternoon as far as Samuel Bricker’s near Chicopee, where he remained for the night. The next day he proceeded through the woods along the east side of the Grand River to his land which he purchased the year before. In order to get to his possessions, old Jacob Schneider had to cut down many trees and construct a road to get through with his wagons. No wagon had ever come this far north on the east side of the Grand River. On this place were two small clearings with a log shanty erected on each, one of which was near where at present are situated the farm buildings of Benjamin S. Snyder, and occupied by one named Smith, the other was on Josiah Snyder’s farm and occupied by George Reid. Old “Yoch,” as Jacob was called, moved into one of the log dwellings on Smith’s clearing. The cleared land had been sowed with wheat and rye the previous fall, the harvest of which proved to be more than “Yoch” Schneider and his family required for their own use. They could now get their wheat ground at Galt, but whatever the early settlers had to spare they had to team to Dundas, the nearest grain market. At first prices for wheat ranged from 90 cents to $1.05 per bushel but later on after more was raised, the price came down to 50 and 60 cents per bushel. At this time land commenced to become more valuable, prices varying from $2.50 to $4.50 per acre. Old Jacob Schneider soon acquired the whole neighborhood amounting to nearly 3000 acres, and bearing the name yet as Snyder’s Corner. (“S’ Schneider Eck”) Abraham Erb pushed his way through to where now the town of Waterloo is situated. His brother John, who had arrived the year previously, considered Abraham very foolish for settling in that big cedar swamp which would never amount to anything. Abraham Erb was the first one who made his way so far north on the west side of the Grand River. He made his first clearing a little south-ease of the Waterloo Union Mills, nearly opposite the large furniture factory of Wegenast & Co. In a very short time he was the possessor of 900 acres of land, all of which is now within the Corporation of the Town of Waterloo. Jacob Erb settled a little to the west of Berlin, on the place now occupied by Mr. Gibson. Widow Brech settled on a place north of Preston, not far from Cressmans Meeting House. The homestead is still in possession of her descendants. Simon Cress located temporally near Preston, later on his descendants settled in Woolwich Township.

In 1806, a few weeks after the Schneiders and Erbs arrived, another company from Montgomery and Chester Counties, Pennsylvania, consisting of Philip Bliehm and family, Christian Shantz and family, Abraham and Isaac Shantz, William Rotharmel, David and Jacob Strohm, their mother and one sister, and Abraham Cressman, arrived at the little mills at Galt on the 26th of May. Philip Bliehm had two teams, one of which had five horses. Christian Shantz and Jacob Strohm had each a four horse-team laden with all kinds of necessary supplies. Jacob Bechtel and wife who after they had lived here five years, paid a visit to their old home in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, came back in this company with a four-horse team heavily laden with goods and necessaries for a new country. This company was about three days in coming from the neighborhood of Dundas to Waterloo, owing to the dreadful condition of the road through the great swamp. There were no bridges across the numerous small streams which these parties had to cross in order to arrive at their place of settlement. Quite frequently one of those large four-horse, covered wagons would be upset and a very great amount of damage done to the contents. In the spring of the same year many reached the climax of their sufferings and trials. Added to other misfortunes and hardships, two dreadful fires swept over these new settlements. On the 6th of May (1806) fire was set to a "Job" (by “Job” is meant a tract of land with timber slashed down ready to be burned in order to prepare it for agricultural purposes) of 12 or 15 acres on Samuel Betzner's place near Blair. After the fire was started a strong wind arose, sweeping the fire through the new clearings and destroying fences, houses and barns. Abraham Stauffer who lived near the present Blair Bridge, had his barn burnt. Abraham Bechtel who lived farther east had house and barn burnt. The fire came so suddenly upon them that even the dinner on the table was consumed by the flames. Everything they had was destroyed, Jacob Bechtel's house was saved but the barn and everything else were consumed. A little farther down Nathaniel Dodge had two barns which were both destroyed with all their contents, this being the last settler in this direction. The fire continued its course, making the most fearful destruction of the valuable timbers in this locality. After this fire the settlers were obliged to go down below Dundas for provisions. Thus the “first settlers,” who were doubtless at this time the most comfortable of those who lived here, were suddenly left without house, clothing or food, and obliged to go about 50 miles through mud, water, swamp and forest for provisions and other necessaries. The second of these fires, though not quite so destructive as the first, started at Jacob Erb’s, the place now occupied by Mr. Gibson west of Berlin, and swept through the forest eastward. Fortunately there were no clearings or buildings in its track and no damage was sustained except a most fearful destruction of valuable timber.

In the fall of this year, Isaac Jones, a colored boy brought to Canada by Abraham Erb who had located at Waterloo, was lost in the woods. It appears that young Jones was hunting some cattle and had two dogs with hum, but missed his way and lost himself. A great many went out to search for him but without any success. Diligent search for more than a week was made for him but no trace of him was found. Most of those in pursuit gave up in despair and returned home. Two continued their search and at length heard the barking of the dogs which never left the poor colored boy. Going towards the dogs they found the lost boy who was now almost dead from starvation and unable to walk. They too were now lost and did not know where they were; they made a cut in a straight direction expecting to arrive at some place from which they could again find their way back. They came to the Grand River two miles below the little mill at Galt, and finally to the joy of all arrived home again, bringing with them the object of their diligent search. During this year Jacob Bretz and family arrived here from Pennsylvania and settled near John Erb’s, a little below Preston.

Benjamin Eby and Henry Brubacher, two young men from Lancaster County, arrived at George Eby’s, who had settled on the old J. Y. Shantz farm a little to the south-east of Berlin on the 24th day of May, 1806. They came on horseback. The object of their coming was to make a thorough inspection of the nature of the country in which their relatives had so largely invested. During the first week in June these two parties in company with George Eby made a trip through the northern part of this Township and Woolwich. They left old Abraham Erb’s place early in the morning and made a trip through the dense forest northward, crossing what are now the farms of Joseph M. Weber, Menno S. Weber and Moses Shantz. They crossed into Woolwich a little west of Martins Meeting House and made their way straight across the farms of Aaron S. Shantz, Paul Martin and Levi Cress, arriving on the south side of the Conestogo River about fifteen rods below where now is the St. Jacobs Bridge and E. W. B. Snider’s Roller mills. Here Benjamin Eby made the remark that this stream with its beautiful rising on the north side, bears a strong resemblance to their Conestogo in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to which George Eby replied, “Then this stream shall be called ‘The Conestogo,’” which name it has borne ever since. Crossing this stream they continued their trip northward, coming to a small stream a little to the west of Daniel S. Snyder’s farm. This stream they named “Kinacachich,” after a stream four miles north of the Conestogo in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Thence wending their journey eastward and south they again struck a large stream. Not knowing whether it was the Grand River or the stream they had named Conestogo, they followed its course southward and soon came to the confluence of the two streams a little below our present village of Consestogo. From here they continued their course southward, being still on the west side of the Grand River until they came to the farm now occupied by the descendants of the late Samuel Weber, minister. Here they heard someone yelling at his oxen and in going to the river’s brink, they, to their great joy, found themselves to be right opposite to the settlement of old Yoch (Jacob) Schneider, now the beautiful home of Benjamin S. Snyder, to whose home they went. After seeing that their horses were well cared for, they went to the house where “Mary” (Mrs. Schneider) had prepared a supper for her welcome guests and family. Here was spent a very pleasant evening. Benjamin Eby giving all the news of the far off home, while old Yoch and Mary were relating their adventures of life in this new country. So well were these three pleased with the country they had seen in making this trip that they sent glowing reports to their many inquiring friends in Lancaster and other Counties of Pennsylvania. After leaving this place they proceeded to Preston, keeping to the east side of the Grand River. They remained a few days with John Erb. Before returning to George Eby’s they paid a two-days’ visit to old Christian Schneider who had his farm near Doon. While at George Eby’s, Benjamin Eby purchased his land, lot No. 2 of the German Company’s Tract. This tract was to the north of George Eby’s and is now possessed by Moses Betzner. A part of the town of Berlin is situated on this lot. In fall a small clearing of a few acres was made and a log dwelling erected thereon. This clearing was made where the farm buildings of Moses Betzner are situated. On the 4th day of November, 1806, Eby in company with Brubacher returned home. In May, 1807, a large company left Lancaster County for Canada and arrived at George Eby’s, Berlin, on the 21st day of June. The parties composing this company were Joseph Schneider, wife and four children, Benjamin Eby and Wife, Peter Erb and wife, Daniel Erb, Joseph Rissor, Samuel Eby, David Eby, Daniel Eby, Abraham Weber, John Eckert and Frederick Eckert.

Schneider Homestead, Joseph Schneider Haus

David and Samuel Schneider
Joseph Schneider Haus, 1980.005.001

Immediately after their arrival Joseph Schneider settled where Berlin is now situated. The old homestead is still occupied by his grandson, Samuel B. Schneider. Benjamin Eby settled on the place purchased the year before near George Eby’s. Peter Erb settled on the west side of the Grand River, right across the river from old Yoch Schneider’s, two miles north of Bridgeport. Joseph Rissor, who had purchased land in Markham, north of Toronto, soon left for his home. Henry Brubacher returned home to Lancaster.

Weber Conestoga Wagon, Doon Heritage Crossroads

Abraham Weber located on lot No. 16 German Company’s Tract on the exact spot now owned and occupied by W.H. Bowlby, West Main Street, Berlin, south of the Grand Trunk Railway.

This company had 3 four-horse teams and 1 two-horse team. These were so heavily loaded that even the women had to walk the greater part of the way, Owing to the bad condition of the roads and the heavy loads, the company could some days not proceed more than six or eight miles. After they had crossed the Alleghany Mountains, one of Benjamin Eby's horses took sick. This caused a delay of a few days. The men and boys of the company, to pass the time, commenced pitching horse shoes. A stray shoe accidentally struck Peter Erb on the head almost killing him. The newly sharpened shoe made a fearful gash from which there was so great a loss of blood that his life was despaired of by the whole company. They all cried and experienced the greatest sorrow at the thought of losing one of their number so unexpectedly. His brother Daniel, who had pitched the shoe, felt so bad that he left the company and went to the adjoining woods for a whole day. Upon the arrival of a doctor the wound was properly dressed and in a day or two he was able to continue his journey. At this time Buffalo could boast of eight small wooden buildings. The company brought half of a barrel of gold and silver money from Lancaster County to pay for the Township of Woolwich which was also purchased by a company. This money gave them considerable trouble on the way as by some means or other it became known that they had considerable money with them and many times they were in danger of being robbed. They managed, however, to bring it here safely and hand it over to the proper parties.

In 1808 came from Pottstown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, old Barbara Shantz, widow of Isaac Shantz, with her sons David and Joseph and her youngest daughter Veronica, afterwards the wife of Abraham Biehn. She settled with her family on the place now owned by her great-grandson, Enos C. Shantz, one and one-half miles south-east of Berlin. With the same company cam John Cressman and family from Chester County and settled a little below the Toll Bridge (Freeport), also one Fillman and family. Fillman settled near Hamilton where his descendants are still residing. In the same year, 1808, came Christian Eby and one John Beatty. The former returned after a short sojourn here, the latter remained and became the first school master for Ebytown.

Abraham Clemens Arrival Certificate
Joseph Schneider Haus, 1995.032.003.1

In 1809 came Abraham Clemens, grandfather to the late Aaron Clemens near Hespeler. He brought his family with him. In 1810 came Christian Shantz (this Christian Shantz, known as River Shantz, was half brother to old Isaac Shantz and Uncle to Jacob Shantz) with wife and eight children, Jacob Shantz with wife and one child, Cornelius Pannebecker and family.

Christian Shantz settled on the west side of the Grand River opposite Freeport; Jacob Shantz bought the farm from George Eby near Berlin, and settled there; Pannebecker settled no far from Hespeler. The same year came Henry Wanner with wife, three sons and six daughters from Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He had 2 hour-horse teams and brought six cows along. Arnold Stricker came with Henry Wanner. They arrived at Preston in June and settled near Wanners Meeting House, one and one-half miles north-west of Hespeler. In the same year, William Ellis, originally from Ireland, came from Pennsylvania and settled near Hespeler on the farm now occupied by Wm. E. Ellis. William Ellis and John Erb were the first magistrates in this new settlement, though the new settlers were so peaceably inclined that it scarcely ever happened that magisterial services were required. At this time Dundas was the nearest Post Office, and all legal business such as the Recording of Deeds and Mortgages, reports and returns of tax collectors had to be made at Little York (Toronto).

In consequence of dissatisfaction between the United States and England which arose out of the persistent claims of the British Government to the “Right of Search” for British naval deserters on American vessels, and other naval hostilities coming up between the two countries, war was now inevitable, and on the 18th day of June, 1812, President Madison declared war against England. This placed the Pennsylvania people in a very trying position and as they could not be induced to take up arms, they were pressed into service as teamsters and were obliged to furnish their own horses. Ox-teams were employed when no horses were to be had. Those who were required to serve in this capacity were Christian Schneider, Jr., Peter Erb, Joseph Eby, Samuel Eschelman, Benjamin Springer, Frederick Herner, Jacob Bock, Henry Pannebecker, John Scheirich, Henry Wismer, John Biehn, Adam Shupe and Wildfong.

In January, 1813, General Proctor defeated the Americans near Detroit, capturing General Wilkinson with 500 men. In September General Harrison having been joined by a fierce body of riflemen from Kentucky, advanced towards Detroit in such force that General Proctor crossed the Detroit River and retreated up the Thames. On being followed by the American Army of 3500 men, he made a stand at Moraviantown with 800 British and 500 Indians under Tecumseh. This warrior was killed, and Proctor retreated in great confusion to Burlington Heights in order to join the Niagara Army. A number of the Waterloo people were up at the battle on the Thames. These Waterloo boys acting as teamsters, had taken shelter in a swamp near by while the battle was being fought. An officer of the British army, seeing that all was lost, gave them warning, said, "Boys, all is lost, clear out and make the best you can," upon which some ran, while others unhitched their horses and rode off for their lives. Christian Schneider, Jr., who carried the money-safe on his wagon, cleared out on his horses, leaving the wagon with all its contents behind. In this defeat old Adam Shupe was taken prisoner by the Americans. He was taken before General Harrison who, perceiving his innocent and harmless appearance dismissed him and granted him permission to return to his Canadian home. He lost both his horses and wagon. Christian Schneider was away the greater part of the summer. On his first trip he had a two-horse team. After being home a few weeks he had to go again, this time with a four-horse team. During this war which lasted a little more than two years, quite a number of small battles were fought in the Niagara Peninsula and in the vicinity of Detroit. Quite a few of these Pennsylvania Dutch boys were pressed to serve as teamsters and exposed to all manner of danger, but strange to say, not one lost his life through the war.

On the 24th of December, 1814, peace was made between England and the United States, leaving each in exactly the same position as they had been before the war. After peace was restored the government of Canada fully compensated those teamsters for their losses during the war and for their valuable services. Christian Schneider, Jr., was paid $5.00 a day for the time he served with a two-horse team, and $8.00 per day for a four-horse team, besides they were paid for horses and wagons that were lost during the time they served the government. After the war cloud had passed away brighter prospects again dawned upon Canada. Communication was again opened between the settlers of Waterloo and their friends and relatives in Pennsylvania. The first company who came in after the war was Jonathan B. Bowman. Benjamin Bowman, Henry Martin, Gabriel Baer, and Frantz Eschelman. They came from Berks County, Pennsylvania, in 1815, arriving at Abraham Erb's, Waterloo, on June 15th. The two last named parties did not settle here. At this time everything in the shape of grain, flour and feed was very dear. Oats was selling at $2.00 a bushel. These parties crossed the Niagara at Black Rock on a flat. They came down on the Canadian side of the river to Chippewa for the night. Here they could see the evil effects of war, one of which was heaps of human bones of the poor soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the selfish gratification of one whose object was to gain territory but failed. On their war up to Dundas they were informed that there was an encampment of Indians near Hamilton who were particularly savage against all coming from across the boundary. Fortunately, however, these savages had left the day previous to their coming. Hamilton was just beginning to come into existence. Dundas could now boast of 20 houses. The Beverly Swamp was still very bad. Galt had gone to nothing. The little grist and saw mills were standing and greatly out of repair. Preston had a good grist and sawmill belonging to John Erb, a little store (with a few dollars worth of goods) on top of the hill, besides a few log houses. In fall of 1815, John Brubacher, Martin Huber, Jonas Boyer, John Doner, Sr., John Doner, Jr., came from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to Canada on horseback. All these except John Brubacher, went to Markham, York County. From some place below Dundas, Brubacher travelled the weary road to Berlin alone. Here he did considerable visiting among his friends and relatives, the Schneiders and Ebys. Of the many beautiful lots still for sale, Brubacher selected lot No. 57, German Company's Tract, a little east of Berlin, now possessed by his grandson, Henry M. Brubacher, as his future home and gave out a "Job" that fall to be cleared the following winter and spring. Any person seeing the farm of his choice must come to the conclusion that, though young, he was then already possessed of that excellent judgment and acuteness for which he was so long distinguished. Several others came from Lancaster and Berks Counties during this summer, amongst whom were Samuel Weber, Abram Eschelman and John Bowman to see Waterloo. None of these settled here. Late in fall Jonathan B. Bowman, Benjamin Bowman and John Brubacher returned to Pennsylvania to make arrangements for moving to Canada the following spring. The summer of 1816 was what is called the "Cold Summer." There was frost every month and in June and July there were seven heavy frosts. On the morning of the 1st of June it was frozen so hard that men and wagons could cross the mud-puddles on the newly formed ice without breaking through. On the 21st of June quite a lot of snow fell. All kinds of provisions were exceedingly scarce. Wheat was from two to three dollars per bushel. The only hay that the farmers could secure was made from the wild coarse grass which they cut on the banks of the river, in marshes or beaver meadows. Food for both man and beast was at starvation prices. The hardships these early settlers had to endure during this cold and inclement year, are almost indescribable. In this year Joseph Bowman with family of twelve children, Dilman Ziegler and family, Samuel Eby and family, Joseph Clemmer and wife, who settled to the west of J. Y. Shantz's sawmill dam, John Brubacher and his mother, and Henry Weber came from Pennsylvania to Canada. The Bowmans had 2 four-horse teams and 1 two-horse team. The Zieglers had 1 four-horse team and 1 two-horse team. Brubacher had 1 four-horse team. Joseph Shantz and his mother, old Barbara Shantz, returned to Canada with this company. They were to Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, on a visit. In all there were thirty-three individuals in the company, and the number of horses brought with them was twenty-eight. Although the roads were not as bad as in former years, yet great trouble was experienced in crossing the many small streams and rivers. At the Genesee River there was a bridge of round logs tied together which would carry at the most only two horses and a wagon. They, however, arrived in Waterloo safely, and settled on the lands each family had taken up. The taxes were quite low. Mr. Brubacher had 2000 acres of land and paid only $14.00 taxes thereon. Land too was cheap. Although in some older settlements of the Township it was selling at from $4.00 to $5.00 per acre, yet in such out-of-the-way places as the Martin Corner, three miles north of Waterloo, it could have been had for a dollar an acre. The taxes had all to be sent to Little York (Toronto), which was then the County Town, and the people in these back settlements were never acquainted with what was done with the money. The nearest grain market was Dundas, to which place the settlers conveyed their grain during the winter months so as to have good roads. Sleighing lasted in those days from the last week in November until the first week in April. Instead of receiving cash for their grain, they received a due bill for the amount, payable a certain number of days after navigation opened. So it will be seen that the advantages of the farmer were not quite so great as in our days of railroads and all other modern improvements. At this time Berlin was a dense and impassable swamp, inhabited by wolves, bears, foxes and other wild animals. Sheep in considerable numbers proved a prey to the howling wolves. Waterloo had a sawmill erected by Abraham Erb and during this year (1816) he erected a new grist mill, the same mill is still standing though it has undergone many changes and improvements besides a large addition built to it. This and the mill in Preston, owned by his brother John Erb, were the only two grist mills in the Township. The settlers had no want of venison or fish. For a small loaf of bread and a six-penny crock of thick milk the Indians would bring them the nicest quarter of venison or a large basket well filled with the finest of speckled trout. In those early times the Indians were very numerous and if kindly treated would never injure any one. Parents often left their children alone and the Indian children would play with them and the squaws would take care of the white children. As a rule the young people were always rejoiced to see the Indians come. Often during cold nights when the inmates of the house had retired to their respective places of rest, their kitchen would be taken possession of by the Indians who would spend the night sleeping warm and comfortable around the large fire place. During this year one Absalom Shade, a young, shrewd, energetic and pushing Pennsylvanian, was appointed by the Hon. William Dixon, of Niagara, who was the owner of the Township of North Dumfries, to act as his agent in this new settlement. On his arrival, and being a carpenter by trade, he put up a rough two-storey log house where Galt is now situated, which served him as a dwelling in which he also soon started a store. He also repaired the little grist mill built by John Miller in 1802, and put it into operation again. When it became fully known that Absalom Shade was acting as agent for the Hon. William Dixon in selling lots of the Township of Dumfries, and that he could issue good and legal titles or deeds for the same, settlements commenced pretty rapidly. The first settlers of Dumfries were of Scotch origin who came here from New York state and settled along the Beverly line. Some years later the Scotch came here direct from Scotland. Thus in a few years most of the Township of Dumfries was settled. During this summer (1816) Henry Wismer, who had come to Canada the previous year, walked out to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on a visit to his friends. The summer, 1817, was nearly as cold and unfruitful as that of the previous year. Harvest did not take place until after seeding time. It was so chilly in harvest time that the men wore their coats while reaping the grain.

Early Map of Waterloo Township
Joseph Schneider Haus

In the year 1818 Christian Burkholder with wife and five children, John Good with wife and six children, Widow Elizabeth Bowman, Esther Wismer, (afterwards married to John Cressman), Samuel Bechtel and Benjamin Bowman came to Waterloo from Lancaster and Montgomery Counties, making the journey in twenty-eight days. Benjamin Bowman came to Waterloo in the spring of 1815, but had returned home remaining there until this time. Now he came to become a permanent settler. Bowman and Bechtel were unmarried and drove the teams for John Good and Widow Elizabeth Bowman. Christian Burkholder had a very heavy load drawn by five horses. He settled a little north of Waterloo. The farm is now owned by C. Huether. John Good settled on the adjoining farm, now possessed by his son Joel Good. Benjamin Bowman settled two miles below Berlin. The farm is now the property of his son the Rev. Samuel Bowman. Samuel Bechtel settled near Hespeler. This same year a widow, Mrs. Moxley from western Pennsylvania, settled on what was long known as the Moxley farm in the Corporation of Berlin. She had a numerous family. Some time during the summer of this year (1818) John Erb and David Schneider, his son-in-law, started a store close to the mill. Then Preston could boast of having two stores, the one on top of the hill kept by a Mr. Lesser, having been started six years previously. These were the only stores north of Galt.

In 1819 Peter Martin and family, which numbered only nine sons and eight daughters, came to Waterloo and settled three miles north-west of the town of Waterloo, on the farm now occupied by Menno Gingerich. Daniel Weber came to this country with Peter Martin and settled on lots No. 1 and 2.

In 1829 David Martin and family of twelve children, Peter Burkhard and family, and David Musselman came from Lancaster County. David Martin settled on the Grand River on lot No. 65, German Company’s Tract, now possessed by his grandson, Joseph Martin. Peter Burkhard settled on the farm now owned by John Lichty near Waterloo. This company brought five teams with them and made the trip in three weeks. A few weeks after the arrival of David Martin, together with family and others, came John Huber who settled on mile north of Waterloo (the farm is now occupied by Mrs. Jonathan Sittler and family), Abraham Martin, brother to Peter Martin who came the year previously (Abraham was only in his sixteenth year when he came), Samuel Bechtel, Joseph Bowman, David Musselman, Frederick Musselman (no relation to David Musselman), and Isaac Masters and family. Masters settled a little below Preston, where Mr. Isaac Bergey now resides.

Phineas Varnumb's Blacksmith Shop
Joseph Schneider Haus

At this time Berlin had a blacksmith shop where now is the corner of King and Queen Streets. A bridge was built across the Grand River at Freeport, now known as the “Toll Bridge,” during this year (1820). The previous year there was one built across the Grand River at Galt. During this year Daniel Lutz, Daniel Weber and William Hunsberger came here to see the country. They came on horseback. As far as we know there were only four schools in the Township, at Blair, at John Erb’s, Preston, at Abraham Erb’s, Waterloo, and at Benjamin Eby’s, Berlin. It is a pity that the old “Red School House,” situated at the corner of the graveyard known as “Benjamin Eby’s,” a little south-east of Berlin, was removed. In this old building many of our old and middle-aged residents were taught how to read, write and “cipher” during their short attendance at that place. Had the wish of the first-born citizen, of Berlin been carried out, the old “Red School House would still be there and used as a residence for one acting as caretaker of the church and burial ground.

Early Bridgeport, Joseph Schneider Haus

During the year 1820 Jacob S. Shoemaker made his first visit to Canada. He was the founder and almost the entire builder of Bridgeport on the west side of the Grand River. In 1829 he was followed by his mother and family, and his grandfather, old Jacob Shoemaker. This year he erected the sawmill and constructed the dam. The grist mill was erected the year following.

In 1822 a number of families came to Waterloo, namely the Detweilers and Hallmans who settled near Roseville, Dumfries Township, Peter Huber and family, who settled near Preston, Ontario, and John Lichty and family. John Lichty made his home with Abraham Erb, Waterloo, whose farm he worked for some years. A few weeks later arrived another small company from Montgomery County, namely, Daniel Hagey with wife and four children, Henry M. Clemmer and family, Joseph Bergey, and Abraham Becker. All these settled in the vicinity of Preston, except Henry M. Clemmer who settled two miles north of Waterloo, the farm adjoining that of John Huber's. Clemmer's farm is now possessed by his grandchildren. This company made the journey in three weeks. Mrs. Hagey and Mrs. Clemmer were sisters to Joseph Bergey. Another company (in 1822) from Lancaster County started off to come and see Canada. After travelling eight or ten days they met with a few days of terrible storms accompanied by heavy rains. This put the roads in such a fearful condition that the onward journey was almost out of the question. This had such a discouraging effect on the company that all returned home save one, Andrew Groff, who pushed his way onward and in due time safely arrived here in this Township. After remaining a short time and making arrangements to move here, Groff started again for his home in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. On his way towards Niagara he met Jacob Nachtsinger who may be regarded as the pioneer of Wilmot Township. This Nachtsinger was on his way to the governor of Canada to make arrangements for his friends and co-religionists to settle in this new Township. He afterwards went to England and had an interview with the King. These two travelled on horseback together to the Twenty where they separated, each continuing his journey to their respective destinations. Andrew Groff returned with his family the same fall, moved to Preston; and being a miller by trade he was engaged by John Erb to work in his sawmill. After being with John Erb for three weeks, he entered the employ of Absalom Shade of Galt, where he remained fifteen months, being paid high wages for running the grist-mill. Soon after his arrival here he purchased 200 acres of land between Preston and Galt. Through his great energy, perseverance, and business principles, he in a few years was the owner of a store, tavern. grist-mill, saw-mill, and distillery, besides the 200 acres of land. Distilleries were in those days considered as necessary as grist-mills. This was a remarkably prosperous year. The soil returned a bountiful yield to the hand of its tiller.

In 1823 Marcus Groff with wife and family came and settled in Paisley Block.

In 1824 Henry Shuh and Abraham Miller with families came from York County, Pennsylvania, and settled in this Township. Henry Shuh moved into the house (previously occupied by Andrew Schorg (Andrew Schoerg was the first settler in Wilmot Township; during the winter of 1823-24 it was surveyed) who had moved to Wilmot Township) situated a little below Berlin on the Boehmer farm.

In the year l825 there were a great many arrivals, including several large companies. One of their companies consisted of Peter Weber and family, Widow Wenger, mother of the late Isaac Wenger of Ayton, Grey County, Ontario, Daniel Levan, Samuel Hurst, Michael Eby, John Hoffman, and others who settled in the neighborhood of Dundas. This company left on the 3rd day of May and arrived at Waterloo on the 24th of the same month. John Hoffman was then a boy not quite 17 years of age and all the wealth he then had consisted, besides his clothing, of "twenty-five cents." He learned the carpenter trade with Samuel Bowers who came here the same year as Hoffman. After serving his apprenticeship he went in company with Samuel Bowman and intended starting a village in one of the Waterloo settlements. First they went to Abraham Erb and informed him of their intention, but did not succeed in procuring a part of his extensive farm; then to Bridgeport to Jacob S. Shoemaker, but met with the same result, then they proceeded on their way to Freeport to David Schneider. He, after being informed of their intentions, refused to sell even the smallest part of his land. Finally they wended their course to Berlin to Benjamin Eby, to whom they were going for consolation after meeting with so many disappointments and refusals from the hands of their co-religionists.

J. Hoffman & Co. Advertisement
Joseph Schneider Haus

Benjamin Eby, after becoming acquainted with the cause of their downcast spirit, said, "Boys, if that is all, go up street and build a factory, I shall give you all the land required." Here they then erected the first cabinet factory in the County. At the same time David Miller started a small store near where the Post Office now is. This can be considered as the beginning of Berlin.

It may prove interesting to the many readers to know how this new place received the name of Berlin. It was on this wise: on a rainy day some time during the month of May, quite a few of the laboring class, the majority of whom were natives of Germany, had come together in some carpenter shop. While engaged in conversation about their various labors and engagements, who should walk in to augment their number but old Joe Schneider and Benjamin Eby. Noticing by their smiling faces that they must have been engaged in some pleasing conversation, Benjamin Eby made the inquiry about what their conversation was, when one Conrad Becker replied, "Wie soll unser neu Schteddel heese?" (What is to be the name of our new hamlet), to which, knowing that the majority of the number present were either from Berlin, Germany, or from places not far from it, Eby replied, "Heisen es Berlin" (call it Berlin). Upon hearing the name "Berlin" all rose to their feet and said, "Von nun an soll dieses Dorf Berlin heissen" (henceforth this place shall be called Berlin). Consequently Berlin received its name in May, 1826. Before this it was called, by some "Ben Eby," others named it "Ebytown" because five of the first six families that settled here were Ebys.

On March 7th, 1825, Abraham Moyer and Samuel Fried started from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on foot, for Canada. They, after a 13 days' walk, arrived in Waterloo. They were not much wearied in carrying their money as they had but twenty-five cents left, which they shared equally between themselves upon their arrival here. Moyer settled near Berlin, his farm adjoining Jacob Y. Shantz's, and Fried settled in Blenheim Township, near Roseville. In April, 1825, came John Bingeman with wife and family from Montgomery County and settled in Bridgeport. In 1827, Bingeman purchased his land, now possessed by his grandson Moses Kraft, from "Hannes Eby" at 11 s. 6 d. per acre, Canadian currency, but did not move on it till 1828 or 1829. John S. Shoemaker drove one of Bingeman’s teams. Jacob Benner, a well known party of Berlin and West Montrose, also came this year.

In 1826 came Henry Moyer (Abraham Moyer’s father) and family, Jacob Clemens and family, Abraham Clemens and family, John and George Shoemaker, Jacob Kolb and family, Solomon Gehman and family, Henry Clemmer and family, Charles Mohr and family, Martin Schiedel and family, Jacob and Henry Oberholtzer, and Abraham Thoman and family.

Henry Moyer and family settled north of Preston. Jacob Clemens and family settled on the west side of the Grand River opposite Breslau. The farm is now occupied by Joseph Cressman. Abraham Clemens settled on the next farm west, adjoining his brother Jacob's. This farm is now occupied by Rev. Elias Weber. John Shoemaker settled a mile north of Breslau where he still resides with his son, George F. Shoemaker. George D. Shoemaker settled two mile's east of Berlin where he and his wife still reside with their son, Benjamin Shoemaker. Martin Schiedel settled a mile north-east of Breslau. Their farm is now occupied by Wm. B. Hewitt. Charles Mohr settled on a farm opposite Schiedel's, now occupied by Abraham B. Clemmer.

Lidia Kolb Paper Cut, Joseph Schneider Haus

Jacob Kolb had moved to Canada the year before, but he returned, after having selected his lot on which he had decided to settle, to Montgomery to purchase the implements required in the new Canadian home. The next spring he returned from Montgomery with the above company and moved on the farm which he had selected the year before. This farm is on the west side of the Grand River, opposite Breslau, now possessed by Joseph Kolb, a grandchild of the old pioneer.

In l820 Jacob S. Shoemaker came here from Montgomery County. He engaged himself to Abraham Erb, of Waterloo, as miller. After being here two years, he, in company with William Hunsberger, returned to pay a visit to his parents. After spending a month with his many friends and relatives, he came back to Waterloo to Mr. Abraham Erb's. In 1826 his parents came to Canada on a visit.

Lancaster Roller Mills, Joseph Schneider Haus

In 1828 Jacob S. Shoemaker went home to Pennsylvania the second time. In August, 1828, he, in company with his sister Maria, Levi Bechtel, Veronica Shoemaker (his brother John's widow), old Levan and a few others, returned to Waterloo. In 1829 he constructed the Bridgeport dam and erected the saw mills now owned by Peter Shirk. In 1830 he erected the large grist mills, and in fall of the same year he moved from Waterloo to Bridgeport.

In May, 1829, another company arrived from Montgomery. In this company we find Widow John Shoemaker and her three children, Magdalena, Fanny, and David, old George Shoemaker and wife, Jacob D. Shoemaker and family, and George Bechtel and family. Widow Shoemaker settled in Waterloo. George Bechtel north of Waterloo on the farm now possessed by Joseph Brubacher. Jacob D. Shoemaker moved to Bridgeport, and a few years afterwards he moved on the farm where he still resides, namely three miles west of Berlin. The farm is now possessed by his son, Alexander Shoemaker.

In the year 1827 Benjamin Hallman and family emigrated to Canada. They left Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, on the 6th day of May with two double horse teams and one single horse team. They crossed the Niagara River from Lewiston to Queenston on a large "Flat Boat." Then they wended their way up to Dundas and through the Beverly Swamp to Waterloo County, arriving at Jacob Rosengerger’s near Preston, where they made a stay of three days. Thence they moved on a farm two miles west of Waterloo, opposite the old David Eby farm where they resided for one year, after which they moved to North Dumfries, where they located on a large farm near Roseville. This farm is now in possession of Menno S. Hallman, grandson of old Benjamin Hallman.

It might be stated here that the cause of so many arrivals here during 1826-27-28-29 was owing to the very hard times in old Pennsylvania in 1825. Many failed financially and in order to procure homes for themselves and children, they came to Canada where land could be had very cheap. During haying and harvesting in 1825, people worked from sunrise until sunset for 37 ½ cents per day. For threshing grain during winter months, days then being only 12 hours long, wages were 12 ½ cents per day, and many worked receiving only their board as wages.

Early Wilmot Township Map, Joseph Schneider Haus

The Township of Wilmot was principally settled by a society of Germans belonging to the Non-Conformists, whose leader was one by the name of Christian Naffziger. The religious belief and doctrine of these people (“the Aumish”) is similar to that of their Mennonite Brethren, only differing in their outward appearance, such as dress, cutting of hair and beard. The said Naffziger came originally from Amsterdam to New Orleans, and traveled through the Southern States northward till he came to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where he met with some friends who urged him to continue his journey to Canada and there take up a tract of land for his co-religionists. In August, 1822, he arrived in Waterloo Township, where he made himself acquainted with some of the settlers who advised him to secure the Township west of Waterloo, now known as Wilmot Township. After examining the Township, he soon decided that it was just the place he and his countrymen and co-religionists wanted. The land was well timbered, and the soil fertile and rolling, just such a place as would in future become an excellent and valuable country. He then went to Toronto to see the governor of Upper Canada, with a view of securing, if possible, this tract of land for his countrymen in the fatherland, who proposed emigrating to some foreign part of the world. The governor very liberally offered to give to each family fifty acres free and allow them to purchase, at very low rates, any additional land they might wish to have. Rejoicing over the great success he had met with, and the bright prospects before him, he soon returned to his native land for the purpose of bringing to Canada his family and friends. In order, however, to be perfectly certain in the matter pertaining to his land, on his journey home he waited upon George IV, king of England, presenting his case before him. His visit to His Majesty was also very successful as the King also agreed that the land in question should be given in the same way as the Governor had promised. Some of these people arrived here in the year 1824, though Naffziger was hindered, for certain reasons, from coming till the summer of 1826. He arrived in October of this year, having with him all the members of his family together with a number of other families among whom were two preachers whose names were Peter Litwiller and Christian Miller.

These looked after the spiritual welfare of these new settlers in the wilds of Canada and also gave them their spiritual instructions. They were soon followed by others from Bavaria, Alsace, and other places of Europe and this new township soon became well settled and made very rapid progress towards its present wealthy and prosperous condition. These same people in the course of time extended their settlements to neighboring townships and are now very numerous throughout the County of Perth, and as a general thing are in very good circumstances, possessors of fine, valuable farms with stately buildings erected thereon.

John and Isabella Tyson Washstand
Joseph Schneider Haus, 1984.028.265.1-2

John U. Tyson came from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, to Canada in 1832, but returned the same year. Came back to Canada again in 1833. He resided in the County of Waterloo until his death. In 1835 William Tyson and wife together with their son, Isaac U. Tyson, and Hannah Hyser (afterwards Mrs. John Wissler) came to Canada. They first settled two miles north of Waterloo, on the Eschelman farm one mile north of Bridgeport, where they resided until 1838. Thence they moved to the place known as George Hollinger’s, Bridgeport. Here they resided until their death.

After the year 1835 emigration to this County from Pennsylvania had almost ceased. Only individual parties came afterwards. David Stauffer with wife and family of four children came from Butler County, Pennsylvania, in May, 1848, and settled on the late William Moyer’s farm near Berlin. Some families came during the fifties while others came during the civil war of the United States which broke out in 1860 and lasted until 1865. The most prominent who thus came and made this County their home are Peter Shirk of Bridgeport, miller, and his sister Barbara, now Mrs. Jacob Clemmer. They came from Lancaster County on May 1st, 1861, and made their home for a short time with their uncle, the late Jacob Hoffman of Berlin. John S. Brubacher came from Junietta County in 1864. He had his home for some time with his uncle, John S. Brubacher of St. Jacobs. He now resides on the farm possessed by the late Joseph L. Weber, about two miles south-east of Conestogo. Abraham H. Moyer, miller, now residing in Breslau, also came at this time (1861). He came from Montgomery County. John Kunkel, a native of the same state, came a few months earlier than the above parties. He now resides on a farm a few miles west of Waterloo. Jacob G. Good came here from Ohio in 1861. He resides in Berlin where he is engaged in horseshoeing and general blacksmithing.

Other parties might be mentioned, but we shall pass on to the second part of our work which includes a Biographical History of our Ancestors and early founders of the Mennonite Colony in Canada, now Waterloo County, as also sketches of the leading citizens of Pennsylvanian origin, and descendants of the early founders, all alphabetically arranged.

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©Region of Waterloo LogoRegion of Waterloo Fraktur design based on Family Register by Jacob Shoemacher in Joseph Schneider Bible, 1821.