Township of Elizabethtown-Kitley

Email: mail@elizabethtown-kitley.on.ca

 6544 New Dublin Rd RR 2 Addison ON K0E 1A0

Tel. 613-345-7480 or 1-800-492-3175 (within 613 area code) Fax. 613-345-7235


 
 

 

A History of Greenbush

The site where the village of Greenbush stands incorporates four different lots of Elizabethtown Township, granted by the crown in 1802-1803. Concession 8 lot 24 was given to John Haggerman, lot 25 to David Peel. Concession 9 lot 24 went to Samuel Hoag, and lot 25 to Samuel Lee. These men, however, were not the first settlers of the area. They sold their land to families such as the Blanchards, Olds, Keelers, Manhards, and many more later settlers who cleared the land and established themselves in this area. The first settlers in the area were John Saigon and Abigail Waite Blanchard in 1799. They were granted concession 9 lot 28, west of the village.

The village was originally called Olds' Corners after Moses Olds, who settled in the area in 1815. It was later named Greenbush by John Saigon Blanchard after his family plantation in Massachusetts.

The original log cabins in which these settlers lived have long since disappeared. So have the mills and factories. What does remain, however, are many of the frame and stone houses that the settlers built. One of the oldest in the area is the stone house that Sylvanus Keeler built in 1826. It is situated in concession 9 lot 23, northeast of the village. Another stone house north of Greenbush was built by James Haskin in the 1830s. His son, John Haskin, built Millhouse, further south in 1842. The majority of the old houses in the village were constructed in the 1840s and early 1850s. The increase in building at this time suggests that the village was flourishing.

Greenbush Businesses

This prosperity can also be seen in the number of business that were established at this time. In 1834 James Olds established the first saw mill south east of the village and along the creek. Of the logs which were brought to him, he and his customers received equal shares of lumber. In August 1862 he sold the business to Daniel Blanchard, who later sold it to Thomas W. Smith.

In 1852 a steam flour mill was built by Hiram W. Blanchard and William Olds on the north side of Mud Creek, on the east side of Rock Spring Road. They went out of business because the machinery was costly and continually breaking down.

In the 1840s Trulove Manhard established Greenbush's first and only tannery on the north side of Mud Creek, on the west side of Rock Spring Road. He did the tanning outside before he built a stone tannery south of his house. Business was done by shares. Manhard would keep 50% of the tanned leather and the other half would be given back to the customer. Manhard made his share of the leather into boots and shoes in his house, then sold them. The tannery was sold to James White in 1850, and then George Taylor in the 1860s. It was later sold to George Davis, the last Greenbush tanner. Under Davis's ownership the tannery employed three men. After the tannery closed, shoemakers purchased the leather already tanned.

In the 1840s and 50s there were many other businesses. Hiram W. Blanchard's store opened in 1836, which was run more on a trading system than the exchange of goods for money. John Haskin was a carriage maker, and with his brother Ezra, a blacksmith; they ran a blacksmith and carriage shop beside John Haskin's house. At this time David Blanchard also had a carriage and blacksmith shop beside his house. Daniel Lee and Daniel Manhard were also blacksmiths, and Alpheus Hamlin was a carriage maker. In the 1840s Michael Flanigan started his cooper shop on the south east side of the village. Richard Ennis and Mr. Giffin were the stonemasons at this time, while Alpheus Hamlin and the Row brothers were the carpenters.

The prosperity of Greenbush continued through the following few decades. Although fewer houses were built, Greenbush was still thriving. Much of the land near the village had been cleared and was being farmed. The creek provided a suitable water power and dumping ground for the mills and tannery. Thus the means to enable the survival of the community had been met. The school, church, and temperance lodge had all been established by this time so the religious, educational, and social aspects of the community grew with the prosperity of the businesses.

Still more businesses began in the decades following the initial growth period. In 1863 Daniel Blanchard built a cheese factory beside his house. The factory and house were bought by Thomas Smith in 1883 and later run by his sons, Thomas Jr. and Edward. They later sold the factory to Henry Davis, who moved the building to his own land. The factory closed when the condensary in Brockville started buying whole milk (1909-1913?).

In 1872 Amos W. Blanchard and Andrew Cook bought the Old's-Blanchard steam powered mill. The next year Samuel N. Olds became a partner, later running the business with his brother William. This mill was destroyed by fire. Alba Root's saw mill, built in 1904 on the same site, burned in April 1906. He rebuilt the mill, but it was again destroyed by tire.

Another saw mill was established by John Edgley in 1903, which also produced shingles and boxes. This mill was near or on the site of James Olds's mill. It was bought by John W. Hanna and Pearson White, but destroyed by fire in March 1906. Hanna had the mill completely rebuilt by June of the same year. L. B. Kerr did the carpentry work on both Edgley's and Hanna's mills. He later bought White's share and became John Hanna's business partner and eventually took over the business. When Hanna owned the mill, a building was moved to this site from David Blanchard's to store boxes while curing. There had been an ashery on this site many years before, which was also destroyed by fire.

Other trades were carried on in the village as well. John Flanigan inherited his father's cooper business. Richard Code also had a cooper shop on the north corner of the school yard. John McBratney, David Olds, and James Blanchard carried on the trade of carriage making while Gersham Old began making sleighs. Later Blacksmiths were Thomas Webster, George Young, and James Hewitt, who also made runners for sleighs. Shoemakers were Richard Code, Arthur Chandler, Henry Thedford, and Robert and Thomas N. Connor. Edward Barry, Thomas Foxton, and Thomas Johnston took over stonemasonry from Ennis and Giffin. Later carpenters were Andrew Cook, Edward Kehoe, L.B. Kerr, Samuel Moore, and S. G. Smith.

New businesses to the area were started between the 1860s and 90s. In 1877 and the years following, Melville Smith had a harness shop in the Healy house. John Forsythe was also a harness maker and saddler. Michael Besee was the village tailor sometime before 1908. His customers would bring enough homespun fabric for two suits, half of which he would keep for himself, or make a suit to sell. In 1902 Mr. John opened a basket factory. Mr. Gifford ran a tin shop between 1911 and 1915 behind the Gifford house. Albert Forsythe opened a barber shop in 1902 on the north west side of the village.

The Greenbush Store

The store was first established by John Saigon Blanchard's son, Hiram Waite Blanchard, in 1836. He bought most of his goods from the community, taking wheat for 50 cents per bushel, oats for 20 cents per bushel, butter for 10 cents per pound, and 6 cents for a dozen eggs. He also bought hemlock bark, which he took to Lyn, receiving $2 per cord. Blanchard was also Justice of the Peace and the Greenbush lawyer. He sold the store to William Foster in the 1850s, and later William's son Robert ran the business. Later store keepers were William Gifford, Ephraim Jackson, William Wright, German Tinkiss, Byron Haskin and Charles Faulkner, Pearson White, Arthur Read, and Allan Salmon.
The store was destroyed by fire around 1905, but it was rebuilt on the old foundation by William Gifford. It burned a second time in January 1925 and was again rebuilt on the same site.

In the 184's Hiram Blanchard founded the Independent Order of Good Templars, a temperance organization. Meetings were held in the rooms above the store. The store housed the post office until the 1930s when a rural mail delivery system was established.

 The following is a list of Greenbush postmasters.

H. W. Blanchard

1852

1857

David Blanchard

1857

1857

William Foster

1857

1867

Eli L. White

1868

1869

Humphrey Young

1869

1871

Thomas N. Connor

1871

1872

Daniel Blanchard

1872

1876

William Foster

1876

1876

Robert E. Foster

1877

1897

Mrs. Adelaide Loverin

1897

1902

Simeon Loverin

1903

1905

Pearson White

1905

1905

Ephraim Jackson

1905

 

At various times the store was located in different buildings around the town. It was in the tannery building, the hotel, the Bates house, and Colonel McBratney's.

Greenbush School

The first school in Greenbush was built of logs in 1835 on land donated by James Haskin. It burned in 1845 after only ten years of use. The second school, made of stone, was constructed on the same site in 1848. It was twice as large as the first. However it was torn down in 1918 in order to build a larger school. Construction of the brick building was completed within six months. In 1905 the school grounds were enlarged, trees were planted and a fence erected. The land for the extension was purchased from Thomas Webster.

While construction was underway in 1918 classes were held in the United Church hall. Between 1845 and 1848 classes were held above the store, at Millhouse, and in one of William Olds's houses.

The first teacher on record is Miss Sarah Taggart in 1840. She was followed by Miss Lucinda Keeler, who received $5 per month.

The school was phased out of the school system in 1961. In 1968 it became the residence of Victor and Annie Riddell.

Greenbush United Church

Construction of the church began in 1828, but it was not completed until 1833. However services were held as early as 1831, before the floor was put in. The land was not sold to the church trustees until February 1842. They purchased it from James Olds for 10 pounds. The stone with which the church was constructed was quarried and donated by Sylvanus Keeler. The first preacher wan Rev. Ezra Healy.

In 1886 the church was extensively renovated. The gallery was removed, windows were lowered, an organ and choir loft were installed, and a shed with a dining hall above it was built. Also, Sam Smith made a new pulpit. The cost of these renovations was about $1,000.

The church has been privately owned since 1976.

The land for the cemetery on the south side of Jellyby Road was donated by Daniel Blanchard in 1866. John Blanchard donated land for the Blanchard family cemetery on Rock Spring Road.

Today the store is the only business that remains in Greenbush. The mills, shops, and hotel have all closed. There is no more need for blacksmiths, carriage makers, the tannery, or local carpenters and stonemasons. Mud Creek is no longer large enough to provide for the needs of technologically advancing industries. Following a period of extensive fires after the turn of the century, many of the businessmen moved on. John McBratney went to the north west in 1902. Alba Root left for Smiths Falls in the 1920s to start a mill. By this time many of the older craftsmen had passed away and few were willing to take their places. The depression and the advent of World War I did not help matters. Many of the younger people had to move away to find jobs, and many young men joined the army.

Other factors which contributed to the decline of Greenbush were the lack of a railway, and the centralization of industry. Brockville, the closest city, had a certain pull on those who wished to start businesses. Also transportation was becoming easier and Brockville provided a wider variety of goods than Greenbush could. The prosperity of Greenbush in the nineteenth century developed because of demand for products such as lumber, horseshoes, and shoes. In the twentieth century some of these products became obsolete while others were found elsewhere at less cost and in wider varieties.


 
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