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The First Blacks Arrive

Written By Dr. J.C. Black

In 1842 Henry Black, his wife Nancy (Nancy Palmer), their two sons William John and Thomas and their daughter Nancy and also a cousin Potter Palmer left County Antrim near Belfast Ireland for Canada. They embarked on a sailing ship and after three weeks arrived in Montreal.

William John Black was 13 years old when he arrived in Canada.

The new settlers again embarked in boats and traveled up the St. Lawrence River until they arrived at a place about where Prescott now stands. Henry Black with his wife, two sons and a daughter immediately set about to establish a homestead. They journied north on foot about twenty miles and located on a farm in the township of Oxford in the County of Grenville at the present site of Oxford Station. Here they found already established Irish settlers, chiefly from the North of Ireland, and soon established friendly relations with one family by the name of Johnston. Potter Palmer, the cousin of Mrs. Henry Black did not stop with his relatives but proceeded up the river to the Great Lakes and settled in the little town of Chicago and later on established himself in the hotel business. Henry Black immediately set out to establish a home. As the country was heavily wooded the trees were first chopped down so that they fell in rows - one on the other. They were then burned: the stumps dug or dragged out, the stones picked and piled up to form fences and then the land was ploughed and ready for seed. Wheat was the chief crop as it was needed for flour. To get it ground they journied to Prescott - a distance of 20 miles on foot and carried back the precious flour on their backs.

Thomas Black married Kate Ballard but had no family. It was rumored that the reason he married her was because she made him believe that she was pregnant. At the time it was believed that he had already fathered one illegitimate son called Mills. The sister (Nancy) married John Lammorack, moved to the states and was never heard from again.

One of the closest neighbors at Oxford Station was Simon Johnston. He had come out from Ireland some years previously with his father and mother and his brothers. Simon married another Irish girl by the name of Norton and had a large family of four girls (Elizabeth, Mary Jane, Margaret and Martha) and five boys (Simon, Wm. John, Samuel, Moses and Thomas). The boys all died in early manhood of tuberculosis. The other two daughters also died of tuberculosis. Of the girls, only two lived to see old age. Elizabeth, who was born in 1844 married Wm. J. Black in 1867 and lived till she was 84. Martha was born in 1854 and was still alive when JCB wrote this (1935).

Wm. John Black, my father, married Elizabeth Johnston. They had a large family of 10 children, all of whom grew up with the exception of one who died in infancy. Their names in order of birth were:

Ann Jane 1866 Ann Jane Black married Jason Sanderson and became the mother of six children: Florence Jane, Stanley John, Edna, Jessie, George and Howard. She passed away in 1953 at the age of 88. Stanley had a cheese business at Oxford Station.

William 1868 William married twice. His first wife was Ethel Taylor, the local school teacher, who died shortly after giving birth to a daughter, Ethel. Williamís second wife also met a similar fate.

Martha Susana 1870 Martha married David Curry and became the mother of five boys and two girls: Luella, Irene, Arthur, Harry, Ralph, Eric and Byron. J.C. Black described Dave Curry as a neurotic of the first water. Many of their children stayed around Kemtpville and Oxford Station.

Margaret Amelia 1872 Amelia married Arthur H.S. Walsh and moved to Vancouver. Margaret passed away in 1955 at the age of 82.

Simon 1874 (died)

Henry 1875 Henry married J. Lenore Barker and became the father of Henry Kenneth, Charles, Franklin, Elizabeth and Thomas.

Simon Thomas 1877 Simon married Luella Gardner and fathered three sons and a daughter: Whitney, Minnie, Robert, Claire and Melvin.

Elizabeth Maria 1879 She married Hartley Bellway and became the mother of three boys: Henry, Donald and Grant. Her husband died in his thirties from rheumatic fever and she died at age 36 from spinal meningitis.

John Calvin 1881 JC Black married Joanna McGregor and had three children: John Robert, Dorothy Louvain and James Calvin.

Mary Agnes 1883 Mary Agnes married William Smith but no living children came from this marriage. Mary passed away in 1952.

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