From The Oak Plain to the Lakefront,

A Brief History of Clarke Township 

Clarke Township has a very  interesting past.  Every other decade or so during the 19th century, the seat of power in the township seemed to rotate to another community, as each put on a growth spurt, and, for a time, outpaced the other villages in the township with its industry and or population.  Although the communities of Clarke Township were never very large, they certainly added to the history of the former Durham County, with both the creativity of the people and their struggles to be in the forefront of Ontario society AND leave their mark in it!

Early History of Clarke Township

    Clarke Township was surveyed in 1797, and by 1880 was described as one of the best settled in the district. First grantees of lots on the Broken Front (B.F.) were John SOPER, Roger BATES, Capt. COZENS, Lieut. COWELL, W.D. POWELL, Alex SHAW, Hon. John MCGILL, Robert BALDWIN, and William LOVEKIN
The 2nd and 3rd concessions had the MCDONNELLS, PRICES, ODELS, JARVIS, CRUIKSHANKS, Richard LOVEKIN, Levi BARNADY, Lachlin MCINTOSH, William RICKARD,  Richard LAKE, Augusts HATT, Robert WILKINS, Elisha BEAMAN, John Beverley ROBINSON, Jesse PRICE, and others who obtained grants.
On the 4th Concession - Henry RIDNER, John BYRNES, Richard SMITH, Henry MILLER, Cornelius VAN WATERS, Samuel and Agustus HATT, Robert NICHOLSON, J.G. SCHULTZ, Alex MCKAY, William BAKER, Andrew BRANT, Cornelius WORDELL, HICKSON and JOHNSON obtained grants. And further north - M. KNIGHT, Peter QUACKENBUSH, Harmonius VAN ALSTINE, the SLINGERLANDS, Samuel MUNGER, Christian ABRAHAMS, Henry HICKSON, John SILVERTHORNE, Josiah HARRIS, Joshua FORSYTH, Ernest CLAPBOARD, William CARSON, Jeremiah LAPP, Hazelton SPENCER, Daniel Allen ADKINS, Henry ELLIECE, William LEE, Henry BINNEKAR, Eleazer YOUMANS, George WOOD, Lewis GERMAN, John HUFF, Hugh CAMPBELL, Richard HENSHAW, Anthony DEMILL, John STUART, Samuel SMITH, Isaac ORSER, George LUCAS, Philip PEMBER, Peter RUTTAN, the VANORDERS, Joseph FORSYTH, Asahel BRADSHAW, the PURDYS, DAVYS, Andrew RUSK, A. MYERS, John EDGAR, B. WARTMAN, the HERCHIMERS, HAWLEYS, Edward WALKER, the MCKAYS, DAYS, LONGWELLS, John SHIBLEY, and Jeremiah YOUREX. Most of these grants were to retired army officers, or 'servants' of the Crown, few of which actually ever settled on their land grants.
    The McGuires, Knowlsons, Grahams, McAnus, the families of Adams, Allan, Anderson, Andrew, Argall, Armstrong, Arnott, Atkinson, Baker, Ball, Ballah, Baner, Barrett, Barrie, Boskwell, Bates, Beaford, Boyd, Box, Bradley, Bellamy, Best, Bean, Beeman, Burr, Bellwood, Bigelow, Billings, Bowen, Bowar, Berch, Brand, Brook, Brown, Brightwell, Budd, Burgess, Burnham, Byess, Cain, Campbell, Cangamore, Carson, Cartsmill, Casey, Caswell, Chapman, Chestnutt, Case, Carney, Christie, Clark, Clay, Clifford, Cobbledick, Cotton, Colville, Convey, Cooper, Cooney, Coppin, Carscadden, Corem, Costly, Carruthers, Couch, Coulter, Cowan, Crawford, Crozier, Davy, David, Davidson, Daniels, Davison, Dicker, Dickey, Dickson, Early, Eddy, Eilbeck, Elliot, Ellis, Fairbairn, Farncomb, Farrow, Ferguson, Fielding, Finley, Fligg, Fluke, Foster, Fountain, Fox, Frasier, Francis, Freckburn, Galbraith, Gamsley, Gifford, Gibson, Gilbanks, Gilfillan, Gilroy, Gordon, Gray, Graham, Griffin, Halliday, Hall, Hallowell, Harris, Henderson, Hillin, Hurlburt, Hunter, Hewson, Hutchinson, Jacobs, Jackson, Jennings, Johnson, Jones, Kelly, Kennedy, Kerr, Kimball, Lancaster, Layton, Leith, Lent, Little, Lockhart, Marshall, Miller, Milligan, Mitchell, Moffatt, Munroe, McAllister, McChesney, McConachie, McCullough, McKay, Mullen, McMurtry, MacNachton, Neal, Nesbitt, Northcott, Ogden, Ovens, Payne, Potts, Powers, Purdy, Raddick, Rae, Rainey, Rowland, Reed, Renwick, Robins, Rich, Rutherford, Sanders, Salbury, Sanisbury, Scott, Sharp, Smart, Smith, Soper, Somerville, Thompson, Thornton, Staples, Stewart, Squires, Tamblyn, Taylor, Tibble, Torrins, Toures, True, Trull, Tyreman, Underwood, Valier, Vint, Waddle, Wade, Wallbridge, Walker, Walton, Watson, Walsh, White, Wilcox, Williams, Wilmot, Wood, Wright, were amongst the earliest settlers, many of whose descendants still survive.
    The Wallbridges are of English descent. The head of the family in Clarke, Asa Wallbridge, came from Duchess County, State of New York. Previous to the breaking out of the American War of Independence, in 1775, the Wallbridges sold the land held by them in Duchess, for gold. At the close of the war they bought land again in the same county. When Asa moved with his family to Canada, he remained at first in Prince Edward County, for a short time. He finally settled down in Clarke in 1816. He had what was then considered a nice little capital to begin with - $1900 in gold. He bought 600 acres of land, at $2 per acre, (worth up to $100 an acre in 1880), and lived on the old place at Newcastle up to his death in 1860, at an age of 78 years. He had many anecdotes of encounters with the Indians, and of adventures by flood and field on his first settlement. Asa Wallbridge had three sons and one daughter. Of the sons, two survived in 1880, Asa Forbes and John, both residing in Newcastle. The third son, Elijah died, but was survived by his son, Asa H. Wallbridge, the postmaster at Newcastle in 1880, and a daughter, Mrs. J.K. Allan, of the Standard Bank. A daughter of Asa Wallbridge married Leonard Thompson, another very old settler. Quite a large portion of the town of Newcastle was built on land owned by the Wallbridges.
    The Bellwoods settled on Lot 30, in the 1st Concession, around 1840. They came from England, and were the first to introduce the improved breed of short-horn cattle.   
    The Renwicks were a numerous and wealthy family, of Scotch descent, and very well-known old settlers in Clarke.
    George Jacobs, another of the old stock, took an active part in promoting the growth and prosperity of the township. He put up the first brick block in Newcastle, (burned in the late 1870's), and has been actively engaged in farming and the mercantile business. Fosters, descendants of Mr. Horace Foster, a well-known old resident of Clarke, who settled in the township in the late 1830's.
    Hiram Hodges, of Lot 17, 2nd Concession, has been settled in his farmstead for a great many years, and ranks with the oldest settlers of Clarke.
    Rowland Norton, who came from the Eastern States, settled in the 1830's in Clarke township.   Francis Coulter, an Irishman, settled on Lot 5, 2nd Concession, around the same time.
     Henry Middleton, of Lot 27, in the 3rd Concession, an English yeoman, is another of the prosperous old farmers of Clarke, who has been settled since the 1830's on his homestead. In 1880, he was President of the county Agricultural Society of West Durham.
    Bradford Bowen, is another early settler of Clarke, who came from the States. In his prime, he was considered the strongest man in the township, and was still hale and hearty in 1878. He had a numerous family of children and grandchildren.
    The Rolands, of Lot 23, on the Lakeshore, were a respectable Irish family, long settled in Clarke.
Ezra Gifford and Gaspard Scott, relatives by marriage, are amongst the old standard families of the place.
The Reddicks settled on the 6th Concession, back of Orono, in the late 1820's. John L. Tucker, postmaster of Orono, settled on the 5th Concession about the same time. Eldad Johns, a wealthy citizen of Orono, born ~ 1800, built the first saw mill at that place, around 1830.

The first school-house was built by subscription in 1825, at Newcastle; it was long used also as a church by the different congregations of that day. It was pulled down in the late 1870's and a lock-up built upon the old site.
The Averys [Every]at one time owned all Bond Head, where Col. Cozens is said to have cleared the first two acres of land in Clarke township. The father, John, was of an old English family. Richard, the son, sold 480 acres to Charles Clarke, in 1838. Mr. Clarke expended £25000 in building a wharf and constructing a harbour. He also erected grist and saw mills, and put up some dwellings - the place being named by him Bond Head, in honour of the well-known Canadian Governor of that time. Mr. Clarke had as partners Mr. G.S. Boulton and Mr. Manners in the speculation. He subsequently sold out to W.B. Robinson and John B. Robinson, of Toronto, who after carrying on the milling business for a short time, transferred their interests to William McIntosh, the owner of the mill in 1878. In 1857 a new charter was obtained, and the name changed from Bond Head to Port Newcastle. Mr. John J. Robson succeeded Mr. Boulton, as president of the harbour and company, and was still president in 1878. The directors are : Messrs. McIntosh, Lovekin, Wellington Foster, and Thomas Tamblyn, with Mr. Francis Nicholson, who has been harbour master for many years, as secretary. The capital in 1878 was $22000. Mr. Francombe is collector of Customs. Both Mr. Robson and Mr. Francombe are North of England gentleman, and relatives, who settled in Clarke in 1848. The port has lost much of its former trade since the extension of railways, east and west.
The McChesneys, an Irish family, from the County Down, are old settlers. William keeps the Albion Hotel in the village, and has also the farm cleared in the late 1820's by his father. George Cowan is another old North of Ireland settler, on the 4th Concession, who came to Clarke about the same time as the McChesneys. Mr. J.E. MacNachtan (brother of the County Treasurer), has been Reeve of the township for many years, and also Warden of the United Counties. He settled in Clarke in 1842.
The first church built in the township was the old Church of England building, erected in 1840. It was never used, on account of some dissensions between members of the congregation on account of the location [highway #2, west of the village, beside what is now Browview Farm and the Newcastle Trinity Cemetery]. A Congregational church building followed shortly afterwards, and was the first religious edifice regularly occupied. The present Presbyterian church (1878) was completed in 1846, and the Methodist church the year following. The Masseys, who commenced the foundry business at Newcastle about that time, found the congregation poor and neglected, and to their liberality the Methodists are indebted for the early completion of their church. In 1857 the Church of England people put up another building - Rev. Mr. Fiddler being the first pastor. The next incumbent was Rev. Mr. Kennedy, who died of the small-pox in Toronto. After him came the Rev. Canon Brent M.A., who has now been in the mission for nearly a quarter of a century.
The first Presbyterian minister was Rev. Mr. Lawrence; after him came the celebrated Dr. Ormiston, now of New York, who remained two years; and then successively, Rev. Mr. Young, Rev. Mr. Riddle, Rev. Mr. Cross, and the minister in 1878, Rev. Mr. Drummond.
Rev. Mr. English was the first Methodist minister in the township - sent on circuit in 1853.
There was an early Indian settlement along the lake-shore in Clarke - most of whom, according to report, died victims of small-pox. At Bond Head numbers of Indian graves have been found, and many relics picked up from time to time.
The principal villages in Clarke are : Newtonville, Newcastle, Orono, Kirby, Leskard, and Kendal.

The preceding information comes from the history section of Henry Belden’s Atlas of Northumberland and Durham, 1878.

Much of it is included in the various chapters of From The Oak Plain To The Lakefront, as well as census information, early settlers in the various sections and villages, trades and professions found across the township and over 65 maps, photos, drawings and other visual materials.

The book, From The Oak Plain To The Lakefront, contains these chapters.....

In The Beginning                       
Growing Pains                       
Military Matters                       
The Fair                           
Hotels, Inns and Taverns                   
Roads and Travel                       
Villages of Newcastle and Bond Head           
Village of Orono                       
Villages of Port Granby and Newton P.O.          
            (including Newtonville Station)
Kirby, Kendal and Leskard                   
Shaw’s, Trickey’s Corners and Renwick’s Corners       
Cowanville, Starkville, and Crooked Creek          

Other Work by this Author     


The Bibliographic references  for this book include:

Townships of Darlington and Clarke - John Squair, 1927
Out of the Mists  Helen Schmid and Sid Rutherford, 1975 [Republished by Helen Schmid, 2005]
Kendal Hills - Catherine Stewart, 1970
Clarke Township, Eastern Section -Its Places, People and Events -  Agnes Burley, 1967
Newcastle Centennial - 1856-1956 - Newcastle Centennial Comm’te
History of Leskard - C.R. Carveth, 1959
History of Bowmanville and Vicinity - J.T. Coleman, 1875
Two Centuries of Change, The United Counties of Northumberland and Durham, 1767-1967
Ontario Register, Clarke and Darlington, Durham County, 1811-12
The Bowmanville Museum Belvedere, Issue #1, 1994,Railways of Clarington - Clayton Morgan
Belden’s Atlas of Northumberland and Durham Counties - 1878
Northumberland and Durham Directory - E.E. Dodd and Son, 1879
Report of the Bureau of Archives for Ontario - Alexander Fraser, 1903
Place Names in Ontario - Floreen Ellen Carter, 1984
Places in Ontario - Nick and Helma Mika
Canadian Gazetteer - W.H. Smith, 1846
Canada Past, Present and Future - W.H. Smith 1852
The Ontario Directory, 1851, Lovell
Dominion Directory - Lovell, 1871
Tavern in the Town - Mary Byers and Margaret McBurney
Loyal She Remains - The United Empire Loyalist Association
Canadian Gunsmiths, 1608-1900 - S. James Gooding, 1962
The County - Richard Lunn
Clarington Museums and Archives, Sarah Jane Williams Heritage Centre, Bowmanville.