Thomas Henshaw

                                                            ┌── Samuel Henshaw
                                                            │              
                                     ┌── Samuel Henshaw ────┤
                                     │    1797-1883         │
                                     │                      └── Sarah Palmer
                                     │                                     
Thomas Henshaw ──────────────────────┤
B: 1840                              │                      ┌── Thomas Coppin
D: 1934                              │                      │
                                     └── Elizabeth Coppin ──┤
                                          1801-1890         │
                                                            └── Elizabeth Greetham
M: Ann Elizabeth "Annie" Vanderburgh
   ├── Charles William Henshaw (1871-1934) 1,2,3
   ├── Mary Elizabeth Henshaw (1874-1949) 1,2
   ├── John Wesley Henshaw (1876-1944) 1,2
   ├── George Edmund Henshaw (1879-1962) 1,2
   ├── Ida Jane Henshaw (1879-1969) 1,2
   ├── Walter Henshaw (1881-1971) 1,2
   ├── Daniel Thomas Henshaw (1883-1967) 1
   ├── Lambert James Henshaw (1885-1963) 1
   ├── Alice Henshaw (1887-1972) 1
   ├── Emma Maud Henshaw (1887-1974) 1
   ├── Frederick G. Henshaw (1889-1993) 1
   └── Ernest Gordon Henshaw (1892-1966) 1

Thomas Henshaw     [ID 07041] Click here to switch to Ahnentafel view: Ahnentafel View

Born Mar 13 1840, West Nissouri Township, Middlesex County, Ontario.1,2  (c1839, Upper Canada).4  (c1843, Ontario, Canada).5  

Thomas Henshaw served nearly ten years as a volunteer infantryman from Middlesex County.  In 1866, he was part of the Thamesford Infantry Company fighting the most serious of the Fenian invasions across the Niagara River.  For his bravery, he was decorated by Queen Victoria, receiving a gold medal on a royal blue sash and 160 acres of farm land at Earlton Junction, not far from New Liskeard, Ontario.  Thomas was not yet married and perhaps preferring to live farther south, he sold this land.1  

In 1869, when he was 27 years of age, Thomas settled in Medora Township, Muskoka, Ontario.  Once the Muskoka settlement road opened in 1870, a number of early Medora township settlers also came from Middlesex County to Medora and Wood.  The first activity that drew men to the area was lumbering and road building and some like Thomas Henshaw came back to settle once contracts were completed.1  

By May 11, 1870, Thomas Henshaw was located on the 100 acres of Lot 25, Concession 2, and at the same time he purchased Lot 26, Concession 2, which consisted of 82 acres, for which he paid 50 cents an acre, the going rate to settlers at the time.  This property of 182 acres is in the proximity of what we call today, Henshaw Lake.1  

Apart from providing the basic necessities of life for his family, free grant settlers such as Thomas Henshaw had first to meet the requirements of the Free Grants and Homesteads Act in order to acquire title to the land.  It set out fairly stringent conditions for those trying to carve a farm out of rock, pine forests and swamp lands.  Within five years of locating on 200 acres a settler had to build a home of at least 16x20 feet and have 15 acres cleared and continuously under cultivation, at least two acres a year for five years.  Additional parcels of land could be obtained for 50 cents an acre under much the same conditons.  Anyone who has ever driven along Highway 118 today and observed the terrain surrounding Henshaw Lake might well marvel how Thomas Henshaw could ever have found 15 acres that he could cultivate!  The Crown Land Papers held by the Ontario Archives reveal that it was only with difficulty and persistence.  Even though Thomas Henshaw had by October 1875 cleared 13 acres and had chopped another seven of his 182 acre holding, and had built a good-sized house and barn, the Crown lands supervisor in Bracebridge, W. Lount, would not grant him his patent.  (A similar problem occurred with other settlers in the area).  It was not until February 1877 that Thomas earned his patent by which time 15 acres had been cleared and the barn and house enlarged.6  

He married Ann Elizabeth "Annie" Vanderburgh1 [Annie Elizabeth Vandesburg3, Hannah Vanderbugh7], Nov 3 18701, London, Ontario1.  (Recorded 1870, London City, Ontario).7  Ann was born Sep 26 1850, Canada West.1  (c1853).2  

Note that Thomas' brother John married a Jane Vanderburg,1 and his sister Mary Jane married a Charles W. Vanderburgh1 (relationships unknown),

Thomas Henshaw was shown in the 1871 census, Ontario, Canada, as follows:5

Age 28, born in Ontario.
Religion: New Connexion Methodist.
Ethnic origin: English.
Occupation: Farmer.
District 85, Subdistrict E, Page 21; Humphrey Twp., Parry Sound District.

Thomas and family were shown in the 1881 census, Wood & Medora, Muskoka, Ontario:2

Thomas Hanshaw, age 41, born in Ontario; English; Methodist; farmer.
Elizabeth Ann Hanshaw, age 29, born in Ontario; Dutch; Methodist.
Charles W. Hanshaw, age 9, born in Ontario; English; Methodist.
Mary E. Hanshaw, age 7, born in Ontario; English; Methodist.
John W. Hanshaw, age 4, born in Ontario; English; Methodist.
George E. Hanshaw, age 2, born in Ontario; English; Methodist.
Ida Jane Hanshaw, age 2, born in Ontario; English; Methodist.
Walter Hanshaw, born Mar [1881] in Ontario; English; Methodist.
James Legg, age 15, born in Ontario; Irish; Methodist; labourer.

Thomas Henshaw was described as a man of conviction and determination.  He was big and physically powerful, standing six feet two inches and weighed 235 pounds.  He had little education, but possessed great energy and practical experience and was very well regarded by the community.1  

Apart from providing the basic necessities of life for his family, freegrant settlers such as Thomas had first to meet the requirements of the Free Grants and Homesteads Act in order to acquire title to the land.  It set out fairly stringent and stiff conditions for those trying to carve a farm out of rock, pine forests and swamp lands.  Within five years of locating on 200 acres, a settler had to build a home of at least 16x20 feet and to have 15 acres cleared and continuously under cultivation, at least two acres a year for five years.  Additional parcels of land could be obtained for 50 cents an acre under much the same conditons.  Anyone who has ever driven along Highway 118 today and observed the terrain surrounding Henshaw Lake might well marvel how Thomas Henshaw could ever have found 15 acres that he could cultivate!  The Crown Land Papers held by the Ontario Archives reveal that it was only with difficulty and persistence.  Even though Thomas Henshaw had by October 1875 cleared 13 acres and had chopped another seven of his 182 acre holding and had built a good-sized house and barn, W. Lount, the Crown lands supervisor in Bracebridge, would not grant him his patent.  (The similar situation occurred to other settlers in the area).  It was not until February 1877 that Thomas earned his patent by which time 15 acres had been cleared and the barn and house enlarged.1  

Annie was of Pennsylvania-Dutch ancestry.  She was as tiny as her husband was large, and when she married she weighed a mere 100 pounds.  Her granddaughter, Edna Farrow, reminisced that in later years, Annie looked like Queen Victoria, "short, round and dressed in black with a little white collar and jabot".1  

Annie was blessed with good health through her 40 years in Muskoka and was never known to have the need to see a doctor, which was just as well since she wasn't altogether sure that she trusted them.  The births of all of her 12 children, including two sets of twins, were attended by her sister-in-law, Susan Nixon, or another local midwife, Mrs. Ferguson.1  

By all accounts, Annie was a wonderful neighbour and a fine cook.  To feed her large family, she salted down eggs in barrels and stored them in a stonehouse over the little brook that ran by the house, both of which are still there today.  She put down tomatoes in jars as well as raspberries, huckleberries, and whatever else she could grow.  Her youngest son Fred remembers her staying up until two in the morning at times, baking bread for her family.1  

Thomas Henshaw died 1934, Nelson (Burlington), Ontario; buried Nelson United Church, Greenwood Cemetery, Burlington, Ontario.1  

Ann died 1936, Nelson (Burlington), Ontario; buried Nelson United Church, Greenwood Cemetery, Burlington, Ontario.1  

For years after the Henshaw homestead had been sold in 1911 to an Edwin Hill, a Port Credit plate glass manufacturer, it had the reputation of being haunted.  It stood unoccupied and desolate for ten years during which time Muskoka visitors out on the lake at night observed an eerie glow from the second floor.  What they saw in reality were the lights of Elgin House reflected in the upstairs bedroom windows.  The illusion came to an end in 1921 when Frank and Maude Stanley of Toronto became the new owners and their continuous summer residence began the following year.6  


Sources

  1. Contribution from Shelley (Bowes) Hilton ().
  2. 1881 LDS census index, Wood & Medora, Muskoka, Ontario; NA Film C-13243, District 131, Sub-district D, page 6, household #29.
  3. Posting Jun 23 2003 by Heather Bertram () to ONTARIO-L citing Ontario marriage records.
  4. Contribution from Shelley (Bowes) Hilton () citing:
    1851 census, West Nissouri Township, Ontario.
  5. 1871 census, Ontario, Canada; Ontario GenWeb: http://www.rootsweb.com/~canon.
  6. Posting Aug 1 2005 by Shelley (Bowes) Hilton () to CAN-ONT-MUSKOKA-L.
  7. Ontario, Canada: Civil Marriage Registrations, 1869-73; http://www.ancestry.com.


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