In the Culver family, of Norfolk, were four brothers who married four Culver sisters. The brothers were sons of that father of pioneers, Rev. Jabez Culver; and the sisters were daughters of Timothy Culver, who came to the settlement in 1796. It is the only case on record in the history of our old families, where four brothers married four sisters, all of the same name, and all the grandchildren of one common marriage union. Three of these marriages were solemnized in New Jersey, and the fourth, here; but all settled here more than a hundred years ago, their posterity having become "as sands on the sea-shore," forming no inconsiderable portion of Norfolk's present population. The names of the brothers were Jabez, Aaron, John and Gabriel; and the sisters names were Anna, Elizabeth, Miriam and Martha. They married in the order in which their names are written.

Jabez Culver, jun., eldest brother in the quartette, was born in New Jersey in 1760 and was thirty-four years old when he settled in Norfolk. His name frequently appears in the old court journal as a grand juror during the time the courts were held at Turkey Point. Jabez Culver was the only one of the quartette who moved out of the county. When the fertile hard-wood lands at Yarmouth began to attract settlers, he moved up to Elgin County and settled on the Catfish Creek, north of Talbot Street. He had two sons— Timothy and Isaac; and four daughters—Hannah, Catherine, Esther and Eunice.[1]

Timothy Culver, elder son of Jabez, jun., was born in New Jersey. During the war of 1812 he returned to New Jersey, where he married and died, leaving one son Philip. When a young lad, this son came to Canada, to look after a land interest which his father had forfeited by leaving the country at a time when his services were needed in its defence, and after a hasty visit went south, where he met with some startling experiences. Where or when he died, or whether he died childless or not, are matters of family history unknown to his relatives in Canada.

Isaac Culver, younger son of Jabez, jun., married Jane Tuttle and succeeded to the Yarmouth homestead. He had one son, Edwin, and three daughters—Esther, Emily and Calista—all of whom died young and without issue.[2]

Edwin married Ann Burns and succeeded to the homestead. He had one son, John Mark, who died single; and four daughters—Eliza Jane, Catherine, Emeline and Melissa, who married, respectively, E. A. Owen, D. A. Luton, W. S. Rogers and E. E. Sheppard.[3]

Hannah Culver, eldest daughter of Jabez, jun. was carried from New Jersey in the arms of her Aunt Martha, wife of Gabriel Culver, on the back of a horse.[4] She married Thomas Finch, of Vittoria, and settled, finally, in Oxford County. Her children are enumerated in the Finch genealogy.

Catherine Culver, second daughter of Jabez, jun., married John Learn, and settled near the old homestead in Elgin. She had seven sons—Andrew, George, Lyman, Edwin, John, Philip and Charles; and one daughter, Catherine. The mother lived to be very old.

Eunice Culver, third daughter of Jabez, jun., married Neil Close, and settled at New Sarum. She had six sons—Andrus, Charles, John, Oliver, George and Louis; and three daughters—Caroline, Eliza Ann and Catherine. Both parents attained a good old age.[5]

Esther Culver, fourth daughter of Jabez, jun., married Wheeler Kitchen, and settled in Townsend. She had three sons—Richard, Isaac and Jabez; and two daughters—Esther Ann and Mary Eunice. Of this family, Richard settled in Monro County, Missouri, Isaac settled in Woodhouse, Jabez settled in Michigan; and the daughters married, respectively, Samuel Culver and Timothy Culver, both of Townsend.[6]

Aaron Culver, second brother in the quartette, was born in New Jersey, in 1766, and was thirty years old when he came to Norfolk.[7] His pioneer log-cabin was erected on a knoll now included in one of the broad fields of the Loder-Culver farm. He brought a set of mill-irons from New Jersey, and when he had effected a settlement he set about looking up a mill-site. There was a good one on Patterson's Creek, where the town of Simcoe now stands;[8] and when Governor Simcoe pitched his tent in the valley in 1795, on a spot now included in the Campbell Grove, Mr. Culver waited upon him and obtained a grant of the mill priviledge. He built a mill on the site occupied in more modern times by N. C. Ford & Co. mills. The little Culver mill was the pioneer mill of Simcoe, and was named "The Union Mill," for the reason, probably, that it was brought into existence by the united effort of all the settlers. The first land deed registered in the county from Townsend was in 1797, being a deed from Gideon Cooley to Aaron Culver.[9]

A reference to sketch, "Juries and Court Officials Made at Turkey Point," will show that Aaron Culver was, also a frequent grand juror, and that he was one of the treasurers of the London District. He was twice married. By the Culver union he had three sons— David, Moses and Timothy; and by his second wife, Jane Fray, he had two sons—Aaron and George; and two daughters—Sarah and Jane. He died in 1849, in his 86th year.[10]

David Culver, eldest son of Aaron, married Sarah White, and settled in Townsend. He had four sons—James, Nathaniel, Aaron and Joseph; and three daughters—Martha Jane, Mercia and Sarah.

Moses Culver, second son of Aaron, married Sarah Merritt, and settled in Townsend. He had four sons—Levi, Loder, William and Moses; and three daughters—Jane, Mary and Nancy. He died in 1835, in his 33rd year.

Timothy Culver, third son of Aaron, married Rebecca Pursley, and settled in Townsend. He had five sons—Philip, Mahlon, Oliver, Aaron and Thomas; and two daughters—Jane and Amy.

Aaron Culver, eldest son of Aaron by his second wife, married _____ Stearns, and settled near Simcoe. He had three sons—Alvin, Ebenezer and Leamon.

George Culver, second son of Aaron by his second wife, married Emily Musselman, and settled on the homestead. He had four sons—Sylvanus, Herbert, Mark and Ernest; and two daughters, one of whom married John Bouprey, of Simcoe.

Sarah and Jane, daughters of the original Aaron, married, respectively, Joseph Woolley and Leamon Sovereign.

John Culver, third brother in the quartette, was born in New Jersey, in 1768, and was twenty-six years old when he built his log-cabin in the Townsend wilderness. He came a little in advance of his father and brothers, and was the first Culver to effect a settlement in Norfolk. They left New Jersey in early 1793,[11] but the season was spent somewhere about the Grand River, and they did not reach Norfolk before February or March, 1794. The ground was covered with snow, and after crossing the Grand River they had to chop their way through the brush entangled forest. When they reached a certain spot on which is now Lot 1, 11th concession, Townsend, they pitched their tent. The snow was cleared away from the prostate trunk of a huge tree, and a temporary shelter constructed with pine boughs and cow-hides. What a mighty transformation has been effected in Norfolk since Miriam Culver and her three babies cuddled together on a bed of pine boughs by the side of that log a hundred and three years ago! And what were the thoughts of the brave young pioneer as he guarded that rudely constructed couch all through the "silly watches" of that first night? In our imagination we can see the leaping flames and the radiating shadows. It is midnight, and stretching away in every direction is a vast, unbroken and densely wooded forest. Old Townsend's first permanent settler stands with his back to the crackling flames, and, with folded arms, peers into the outlying darkness.[12] Hark! What demonical, blood-curdling sound was that? He listens. It grows louder. On a bed of pine-boughs, by the side of a fallen tree, lies old Townsend's first pioneer mother. She has had a hard day's tramp through the forest, and has fallen into a deep sleep with her babies nestled snuggly in her arms. She is oblivious to her surroundings, and hears not the discordant howls of the blood-thirsty wolves. She is dreaming of her happy, far-away New Jersey home and the dear friends left behind. But the vigilant sentry disturbs not her slumbers. He heaps on more wood and sends the sparkling flames still higher, for well he knows that this is a certain means of warding off attacks of wild beasts.

John Culver was truely a pioneer of pioneers. He was a preacher, but never assumed the duties of the regular pastor. He was a poet, and in 1828 he wrote a volume of hymns which was published as the “Upper Canada Hymn Book.” He was somewhat eccentric in character, and towards the close of his life he became enamored with the doctrines of Universalism. He had five sons—Michael, Gabriel, Darius, John Mark and Hiram; and seven daughters—Rhoda, Sarah, Mary, Elizabeth, Miriam, Dorcas and Susanna. He died in 1834 in his 67th year, and his wife died in 1852, in her 80th year.

Michael Culver, eldest son of John, was married three times. He had seven sons— Gabriel, Lewis, Dr. John, Mark, Darius, Hugh and Carlton; and four daughters—Mary Jane, Sarah Ann, Harriet and Miriam. He died in 1869, in his 79th year.[13]

Gabriel Culver, second son of John, and his sister Elizabeth, settled in the States.[14]

Darius Culver, third son of John, married Mary Heath, and settled on the homestead. He had two sons—Horace and Leamon; and four daughters—Evangeline, Amanda, Harriet and Mary D. He died in 1835 in his 37th year.[15]

John Mark Culver, fourth son of John, married Sarah Kern, and settled on the homestead. He had two sons—Ransom and Albert; and four daughters—Emily, Roxey, Ruth and Miriam.

Hiram Culver, youngest son of John, married Sarah Ann Stokes, and settled in Townsend. He died this present year in his 83rd year, and was the last survivor of his generation.[16] Hiram inherited some of his father's mental peculiarities. As a mental arithmetician he had few equals. It is said he once computed the number of thirty-seconds of an inch around a two-hundred-acre lot, mentally, without making a mark of any kind. The grand total runs up into hundreds of millions, and the feat is one that few men, indeed, are able to perform. Hiram Culver had one son, James S., who died single. His four daughters—Miriam C., Amoret A., Louisa Jane and Amanda M., married respectively, Edgar Bryning, Willard Walker, Thomas Giles and Albert Deming. Mrs. Bryning has in her possession one of the most valuable old books in the county. It is a concordance of the Bible, published in 1643, and brought from New Jersey to Norfolk more than a century ago, by Rev. Jabez Culver, father of the quartette in question.

Rhoda Culver was the first born child in the Townsend cabin. She married James Lewis, and settled in Townsend. Of the other daughters of John, Elizabeth married Alexander McIntosh, of Townsend; Miriam married William Wood, of Windham; Dorcas married Dr. Bostwick, and Susanna married Mark Hopkins.

Gabriel Culver, youngest brother in the quartette, was born in New Jersey in 1774, and was twenty years old when his father settled in Norfolk. He married after he came to the settlement, and it is quite probable that his marriage was the first one solemnized in the township of Windham.[17] During Governor Simcoe's visit in 1795, he called at Gabriel's little clearing and advised him to leave a clump of trees that stood in front of his cabin for a grove. The advice was acted upon and the trees were spared. He had six sons—Asa, Jabez L., John, Ira, Orrin G. and Nelson C.; and three daughters—Elizabeth, Nancy and Calista. He died in 1841 in his 68th year, and his wife died in 1866 in her 90th year.

Asa Culver, eldest son of Gabriel, married Sarah Widner, and settled in Windham. He had four sons—Lewis, Descom, John Asa and Alvin; and three daughters—Helen, Caroline and Sarah Jane. Asa, the father died in 1879 in his 82nd year.

Jabez L. Culver, second son of Gabriel, married Mary Chamberlain, and settled in Windham. He had four sons—Dr. John G., Edwin, Louis and Dr. Addison; and two daughters—Martha and Almira. He died in 1841 in his 42nd year.

John Culver, third son of Gabriel, married Mary Boss. He had no children.

Ira Culver, fourth son of Gabriel, married Desire Brown, and settled finally, in Iowa. Benjamin Culver, of Norwich, is a son of Ira.

Orrin G. Culver, fifth son of Gabriel, married Harriet Walker and, and settled in Windham. He had two sons—Lyman and Leander; and one daughter, Serena.

Nelson C. Culver, youngest son of Gabriel, married Sarah, daughter of Abraham Young, the old Windham pioneer who lived to be nearly a hundred years old.[18] He settled on the old homestead, but at present lives in a pleasant home on the lake shore near Normandale. He is the sole survivor of his generation. He has six sons—Omar, Asa, Ogden, Frank, Tom and Lemuel; and five daughters—Calista, Mary, Susanna, Eva and Jennie.

Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Gabriel, married John McIntosh, and settled in Townsend.

Nancy, the second daughter, married Col. Thomas Clark, of Waterford.

Calista, youngest daughter of Gabriel, married Nelson Vasbinder.

If all the people in Norfolk who are related to the Culver family were removed from the county, those remaining would feel lonely. They have become very numerous and influential, and it is no doubt a fact that a careful computation would show that the Culver connections would outnumber those of any other of our pioneer families, and that they own more cultivated fields and comfortable Norfolk rural homes than any other family. The Culvers are pre-eminently tillers of the soil.

[1] In the first half of his life Jabez Jr., son of Reverend Jabez Collver signed his name “Collver“ then changed it to “Culver“. He was born in 1757 according to his gravestone in New Sarum Cemetery, Yarmouth Township, Elgin County which states that he died on August 9, 1829 aged 71 years 10 months and 18 days. Before coming to Norfolk, Jabez Jr. lived at Chemung, New York. A letter written by his father dated at Chemung on June 2, 1789 noted, “Jabez is a Coming hear to liv.” At the time of his 1794 move to Norfolk, Jabez Jr. was about thirty-seven years old not thirty-four.

[2] According to their gravestones in Mapleton Cemetery, Yarmouth Township, Elgin County, Esther died on January 19, 1849 aged 21 years, 3 months, and 20 days; Edwin died on November 26 1906 in his 77th year; Emily died on March 26, 1851 aged 19 years, 2 months and 1 day. Calista died in March 1853 aged 18 years. Esther married Alford Jay on May 2, 1847. Edwin married Ann Burns on August 19, 1848. Emily married George F. Summers on October 14, 1849. Calista did not marry. All of the marriages were recorded in the London District Marriage Register.

[3] Eliza Jane (Jennie) Culver married on December 12, 1866, Egbert Americus Owen, the author of Pioneer Sketches of Long Point Settlement. Their marriage was recorded in the Elgin County Marriage Register. Catherine Culver married Daniel A. Luton and Emeline married William S. Rogers. Both couples were recorded in the 1881 Census of Yarmouth Township. John Mark Culver died on March 9, 1875 aged 22 years and 8 months and was buried in Mapleton Cemetery.

[4] Hannah (Collver) Finch’s gravestone in Lobo Baptist Church Cemetery, Lobo Township, Middlesex County states that she died on September 18, 1876 aged 89 years, making a birth year of about 1787. She may have been carried in the arms of her Aunt Martha during the family’s earlier 1789 move to Chemung, New York, but was about nine years old when her father Jabez Collver, Jr. brought his family to Upper Canada in 1796.

[5] Eunice (Culver) Close had an additional daughter Ellen born c. 1848 living with her in the 1861 Census of Yarmouth Twp.

[6] Esther (Culver) Kitchen had an additional daughter Patty Matilda, born c. 1827, died on 1 Mar 1857 according to her gravestone in Bloomsburg Baptist Church Cemetery, Townsend Twp. Esther’s son Richard Kitchen settled at South Dumfries Twp., Brant Co. by 1840 then in 1843 moved to Missouri. He then returned to the home farm in Townsend Twp. where he was recorded in the 1850 Assessment. In the 1852 Census, he was a farmer on Lot 1, Concession 7, Charlotteville Twp.

[7] Aaron Culver’s gravestone in Old Windham United Church Cemetery, Windham Township, Norfolk County states that he died on September 26, 1849 aged 85 years, and Owen stated that Aaron died in 1849 in his 86th year, both of which sources calculate to a birth year of 1764. Aaron spelled his surname “Collver” in his early years then changed it to “Culver”. He went with his parents to Chemung County, New York in 1789 and was listed there in the 1790 Census. He then came to Norfolk County, Upper Canada with his parents in 1794, at which time he would have been about thirty years old. His first Land Petition was read by the Executive Council of Upper Canada on June 10, 1794 (Upper Canada Land Petition “C” Bundle 1, Doc. No. 9).

[8] Patterson Creek was renamed the River Lynn and is known by that today. Aaron Culver’s second land petition dated at Patterson’s Creek on August 23, 1795, requested land in Exeter (renamed Townsend) Township and a mill seat on Patterson’s Creek (Upper Canada Land Petition “C” Bundle 1, Doc. No. 33). He was given a grant of Lot 2, Concession 12, Townsend Township northeast of Simcoe where he made his homestead. Culver had a further grant dated July 17, 1801 for Lot 1, Concession 6, Woodhouse Township in the present town of Simcoe and built his mill there (Abstracts of Deeds Register of Woodhouse Township). Later, by 1824, Culver moved to Simcoe. A document signed by some of the area’s leading citizens noted that Aaron Culver, formerly of Townsend, now of Woodhouse “has founded a respectable Village where he now lives.” (Norfolk Historical Society Collections, Doc. No. 2862)

[9] This deed was dated on April 9, 1798. Gideon Cooley Sr. sold the north half of Lot 1, Concession 12, Townsend Township to Aaron Collver. There were earlier Crown Deeds registered in the Abstracts of Deeds Registers of Norfolk County.

[10] By his first wife, Aaron Culver also had a daughter Martha, who, according to her gravestone in Old Windham United Church Cemetery, was born on April 23, 1791. She married first to Levi Beemer and second to Joseph Woolley. The birth dates of Aaron’s sons David and Timothy are not known, but Moses was apparently the youngest born to Aaron’s first wife. He was born on January 25, 1803 according to his gravestone in the same cemetery as his sister. The order of the daughters of the second marriage should be reversed. Jane and Sarah were the youngest in the second family, born on January 2, 1825 and in 1828 respectively according to their gravestones in Old Windham and Delmer Cemeteries.

[11] John Collver, who signed his surname with that spelling, had a grant of 300 acres of land at Chemung County, New York in 1789 and was recorded there in the 1790 Census. He likely came to Upper Canada from that locale rather than directly from New Jersey. The first record of John Collver in Norfolk was his petition of June 10, 1794 announcing his arrival. “He is come into the province with a wife and two Sons… requested 400 acres located as contiguous to his Father and Brothers Land…” This suggests that John followed his parents rather than preceding them. (Upper Canada Land Petition “C” Bundle 1, Doc. No. 52.

[12] John Collver’s 1794 arrival in Townsend Township postdates several others. The Peter Fairchild family traditionally claims the honour of first permanent settlement in Townsend Township. The 1797 Averill Report lists the pioneers Peter, Isaac and Benjamin Fairchild, Benjamin Green, Selah Styles and Isaac Whiting with the notation “Soon after the township was surveyed the following persons called at the office and said Mr. Pierce had no objection to their settling in Townsend.” The survey of Townsend Township was completed in early September 1793 making all of them early arrivals. In the category of non-permanent settlers was Gideon Cooley who had a location ticket dated September 5, 1793 for Lots 1 and 2, Concession 14, Townsend Twp. Gideon Cooley’s daughter Elizabeth married in Vermont to Gideon Omstead and that couple became permanent settlers in Townsend Twp. in 1793. Source: “The Townsend Settlement Story” by R. Robert Mutrie in The Long Point Settlers Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1

[13] Additional children listed in a copy of the Michael Collver Family Bible Register at the Norfolk Historical Society: Rachel Miriam Collver, born on June 17, 1817, died on March 31, 1818; Warren S. Collver, born on February 7, 1843

[14]John Collver’s son Gabriel Collver moved early on to Cuyahoga County, Ohio where he married Philura Brown on March 9, 1819. He later settled in Cedar County, Iowa and was buried in Virginia Grove Cemetery near Tipton.

[15] Darius Collver died on November 30, 1835 in his 34th year according to his gravestone in Old Windham United Church Cemetery

[16] Hiram who signed his surname “Culver” died on April 2, 1897 in his 84th year according to his gravestone in Collver Cemetery, Townsend Township and his obituary in the British Canadian newspaper issue of April 14, 1897.

[17] Gabriel Collver married Martha Collver on May 23, 1797, recorded in the London District Marriage Register

[18] Abraham Youngs was born in New Jersey c. 1789 and married Susanna Horton. They settled on Lot 5, Concession 13, Windham Twp. by 1810 and continued there, recorded in the 1852 Census.