SKETCH LXXXI

 

THE OLD PULPIT VETERAN OF WATERFORD

 

Rev. A. Slaght, of Waterford, is the grandson of Job Slaght, who, with his two brothers, Richard and John[1], came to Upper Canada from New Jersey in the early days of Long Point settlement. It has been said that the original Slaght brothers were U.E. Loyalists, but this is a mistake so far at least as Job is concerned, as shown by a copy of the Magisterial Certificate”

 

  “STATE OF NEW JERSEY, SUSSEX COUNTY.

 

“This may certify that on the 6th day of August 1777, before me, I the undersigned, one of the justices in and for Sussex county, voluntarily appeared Job Slaght, and took and subscribed the oath of abjuration and allegiance, as by law directed.

                        (Signed)                                                                                  “Thomas Anderson.”

 

It will thus be seen that Job Slaght was a citizen of the new Republic the year following the Declaration of Independence, whatever he may have been previously. In the Waterford home of the subject of this sketch may be seen the old family Bible of Job Slaght, which bears the following bold inscription on the fly-leaf:

      “Job Slaght, his book, bought of Holmes & Pemberton, 3rd December, 1793.”

And just here it will not be out of place to state that in the studio of Rev. A. Slaght are many choice old heirlooms which were brought from New Jersey by his grandfather more than a hundred years ago. In this collection are some twenty-five specimens of old colonial paper currency of New Jersey, of various designs and denominational values. They are rare old specimens of great value. Mr. Israel Slaght, of Waterford, also has a number of similar specimens, one of which he mailed to the Queen; and her Majesty was so well pleased with it that she acknowledged the favour by letter and presented Mr. Slaght with a beautiful portrait of herself. In a little wooden box, with a hinged lid fastened with a wire hook, may be seen a pair of nose-glasses which, no doubt, came from “Faterland” among the personal effects of old Hendrick Slacht.[2] In the old trunk are mechanical tools, bullet moulds, spoon moulds, the old outfit for obtaining fire, and various other relics of a by-gone age, sad reminders of the crude lives that befell to the lot of our brave old foundation-builders. One of the most highly valued souvenirs in Elder Slaght’s collection is the silver medal won by his father, Aaron Slaght, in the war of 1812.

 

Job Slaght had a New Jersey neighbor who was the owner of an incorrigible hog, as evidenced by the following old relic:

                                                                                                                  “December 15th, 1785.

      “One hog trespassing on Job Slaght, damage price by us, the under subscribers, at twelve shillings and sixpence.

                                                                                                                              “Azariah Smalley.

                                                                                                                              “Ichabod Bidell.”

In 1796, Job Slaght came to Upper Canada with his family. After remaining about a year at Niagara, the family came up to Long Point settlement, and settled on Lots 8 and 9, in the 8th concession of Townsend. While at Niagara, Mr. Slaght purchased 1,400 acres of land from James Secord, taking his bond for a deed. He was a blacksmith by trade, and came to Canada with considerable means for those times. The family came up along the lake shore in company with others, and brought horses, cows and other stock with them. Aaron, the youngest son in the family, was three years old, and rode on the back of a horse with his mother when they came up from Niagara in 1797, just one hundred years ago.[3] The maiden name of the old pioneer mother was Elizabeth Johnson, who possessed all the sterling qualities of character that so signally distinguished her family. The original Avery Mill at Waterford was built with money furnished by Job Slaght. In 1805, he was appointed Constable for Townsend.[4]

In Job Slaght’s family were fourteen children, eight of whom were living in 1807, when he made his will. The names of his five sons were—Henry, Job, Cornelius, John and Aaron. The three daughters mentioned in the will are—Elizabeth, Mary and Sarah.

Henry Slaght, eldest son of Job, married Abigail Heminover, and settled north of Waterford. He had two sons—Job and Parney; and two daughters—Elizabeth and Mary.

Job Slaght, second son of Job, married Patience Robinson, and settled near the “Five Bridges,” Townsend. By this marriage he had three sons-Philip, Matthias and Darius; and three daughters-Lavinia, Hannah and Lydia. Subsequently he married Elizabeth Mills, by whom he had seven sons—Silas, Hiram, James, Israel, Job, John and Levi; and three daughters—Louisa, Melinda and Ellen. The Israel Slaght referred to as having presented Her Majesty with a specimen of old continental money, is of this family. He has in his possession an antiquated tin trunk, in which the old New Jersey title deeds are being carefully preserved.

Cornelius Slaght, third son of Job, married Anna Dudbridge, and settled at Nanticoke Falls, Townsend. When his eldest son, Nathaniel, was eighteen years old, the family moved to Michigan in two covered wagons drawn by oxen. They settled in Ionia County, and subsequently, Nathaniel became interested in the lumbering business.

John Slaght, fourth son of Job, married into the Malcolm family, and settled near Scotland, where he raised a family.[5]

Aaron Slaght, fifth and youngest son of Job, married Mrs. William Clark, nee Catherine Whitehead. By her first marriage she had one son, who was no less a personage than the late Colonel Thomas W. Clark, of Waterford. Mrs. Clark was left a widow and a mother at the age of eighteen. By this marriage Mr. Slaght had three sons—Lewis, Hugh and Aaron. Lewis died at the age of twenty-four; Hugh married Eunice Kellum; and Aaron, the youngest son of Aaron, is the subject of this sketch.

Rev. Aaron Slaght, who died in his 76th year, since this sketch was first written, was not only a pulpit veteran, but was one of the best known business men in Norfolk. He led a busy life, and was a busy man right up to his last illness. He was born in 1822, and the first twenty years of his life were spent on the farm. In 1842 he entered the Baptist College at Montreal, from which he graduated in due time. While pursuing his studies he also attended lectures at McGill College. Shortly after completing his theological course, he married Lucy A. Whitney, of Stanbridge, Eastern Townships, and settled in Waterford, where he immediately began his ministerial work. This was in 1845, there being no church organization in Waterford at that time. Some time previously Job Loder had erected a little chapel, and the religious meetings held therein had been of a non-denominational order. At the close of the young Baptist preacher’s third year he had succeeded in organizing a Baptist church, consisting of eight members. This was in 1846, and Elder Slaght was the last survivor of this little pioneer church as at first constituted. Mr. Loder generously donated the chapel to the new church by deed of conveyance. It had been used for general purposes and was quite out of repair, but it was put in good shape, and the membership increased rapidly. One of the first resolutions put on record, after the chapel became the sole property of the Baptists and was put in proper repair, was to the effect of granting the privilege of its use, alternately, to the Methodists and other denominations. Surely, the general community at this time had no reason to complain of uncharitableness on the part of the pioneer Baptist church of Waterford.

Elder Slaght had charge of the Waterford Baptist Church for thirty-six years, and when he resigned his pastorate, in 1882, he had built a magnificent church edifice, costing $15,000, and had increased the membership to 360 communicants. But this is not all. During these thirty-six years seven churches had been founded in outlying sections, and no man was more instrumental in accomplishing this work than Elder Slaght. During this time he built up a church at Round Plains of sixty members, added a score or more to Simcoe church, and baptized as many as twenty-five in a day for Bloomsburg, while pastor of that church. At the time of his resignation the population of Waterford and Townsend was about 8,000, one-eighth of which were Baptist communicants. When he returned from the silver mines of Colorado in 1886, he took up the work at Lynnville, with only eleven members, and at the end of a five-years’ pastorate he had built up a church of sixty members. He had no statistics showing the number of persons baptized, or the number of conjugal knots tied by him, but the number of burial services conducted by this old veteran foots up to about 1,300, including many of the old pioneer preachers. He buried a large number of the old pioneers, including the first white female settler in the township of Townsend.

Notwithstanding the many pastoral duties which have always crowded thick and fast upon the life of Elder Slaght, he was never without secular employment connected with important interests, demanding much thought and a large amount of executive force and business ability. He was always an agriculturalist. He operated a nursery for about fifteen years, and was engaged in the milling and shipping business for about the same number of years in connection with his father. While engaged in the latter business the firm suffered fire losses amounting to $20,000. the annual volume of business conducted by them was very large-having reached, in some years, the respectable sum of $200,000. Last fall he and his partner consumed 22,000 bushels of apples in their evaporating works, and two years ago they furnished a market for 25,000 bushels.

In 1890 Elder Slaght was appointed Inspector of Mines for the Province of Ontario, and the duties of this office alone would have worried many a younger man. By virtue of his official position he was a Justice of the Peace, a fact not generally known. He was always interested in the cause of education, having served in “ye olden time” as a local superintendent of schools in his native township for a period of ten years.

Elder Slaght was twice married. By his first wife he had two daughters—Lucy Ann and Mary Helen. They became the first and second wives of Dr. Backhouse. In 1849, Mrs. Slaght died, and subsequently Mr. Slaght married Sylvia A., daughter of Philip Beemer, by whom he had one son, T. R. Slaght, the Simcoe lawyer; and three daughters—Theresa, who died young; R. Minnie, who died single at the age of twenty-four, and Katie B., who occupies the old home with her mother.

Sarah, the eldest daughter of the original Job married Abraham Messacar, and settled on the round plains. Her children are enumerated in the Messacar genealogy.

Elizabeth, second daughter of the original Job, married Ezra Parney. Her children are enumerated in the Parney genealogy.

Mary, youngest daughter of the original Job, married John Barber. Her children are enumerated in the Barber genealogy.

Job Slaght, the old pioneer, made his will August 18th, 1807, which was witnessed by Benjamin Caryl and John Muckle. In this will he devised two hundred acres of land to each of his five sons, and one hundred acres to each of his three daughters, and bequeathed his personal property equally among them. For a general sketch of the Slaght family, see “The Sons of Old Hendrick Slacht.”

 



[1] This was not Job’s brother John born in 1741, but a probable nephew of John born in 1763. See Footnote 2 in Sketch XXVIII.

[2] The Slaght ancestors came to America in 1654 and Hendrick Slaght was born here, a descendant of Cornelis Barentse Slaght who came from Woerden, Holland about 1654 and settled at Kingston, Ulster County, New York. See Footnote 1 in Sketch XXVIII.

[3] In May 1797, Job Slaght purchased from Paul Averill 200 acres of land in Lot 9, Concession 8, Townsend Twp. for £81.5.10. By August 12, 1800, the date of a joint Averill-Slaght petition, Job had thirty-five acres cleared and erected buildings where he resided with his family. Source: Upper Canada Land Petition “A” Bundle 5, Doc. No. 7. According to the Job Slaght family bible, youngest son Aaron was born on 15 Aug 1792, which would make him four years old in May 1797. A copy of the family register page is in the Norfolk Historical Society Archives.

[4] The Minutes of the London District Court specifically state that this appointment went to Job Slaght Junior. Fraser: Minutes of The Court of the Quarter Sessions of the London District, p. 74

[5] Again Owen has confused the several John Slaght’s who lived in the same area. John Slaght, son of Job, born on January 15, 1783 married Elizabeth Clouse. John purchased Lot 10, Concession 5, Townsend Township from his father Job on February 3, 1807, recorded in the Abstracts of Deeds Register. John Slaght lived out his life there and his will dated at Townsend Township. on 16 February 16, 1843 named his children Abraham, Orsan and Jane Slaght. (Norfolk County Surrogate Registry)

The John Slaght who married into the Malcolm family might have been another relation. Henry Slaght, brother of Job Slaght and son of Hendrick Slaght of New Jersey, went in the Exodus of New York to New Brunswick. The Malcolm family also lived in New Brunswick and Mary Malcolm married to John Slaght, born in 1789, died in 1851. The Malcolms and John Slaght settled at Oakland Township, Brant County.