Thomas Sadler (ca1790-1857)

of Castletenison, county Rosscommon & Ormstown, Canada East

Warren Sadler, Canada


Thomas Sadler

Thomas Sadler was born at Castletenison, October 1790, son of Edward Sadler, who was born at the same place in 1754. We suspect Thomas’ grandfather was one Robert Sadler. Both are understood to have been blacksmith and farrier on Colonel Tenison’s estate. According to Thomas’ brother James, their father belonged to a family whose early ancestors were Swedes. James also reported that by 1789 their father had a place rented in Leitrim, and that this farm was close enough for a day visit to the site of Cornwallis’ slaughter of the United Irish at Shanmullah Hill—the grisly ending of the rising of ’89.

On the third day of November 1815, Thomas married Jane Waugh of Carrick-on-Shannon, county Leitrim. She was Gian Vaugh as Thomas inscribed her name much later upon the church record of the baptism of their youngest daughter. Jane gave birth to their firstborn, Elizabeth on 22 December 1816. Thomas and Jane, with their infant daughter in arms, embarked for Canada on the 12 of May 1818. Their second daughter. Margaret, was born at La Prairie, across the river from their later residence in Lachine, Lower Canada, where Thomas set up his forge and was deeply involved in hammering out iron-work for the building of the Lachine Canal. While in Lachine daughter Jane, and sons Edward and Thomas were born.

As work on the canal tapered towards completion, Thomas spent more and more time searching for suitable land, and took up lot 21, at the Eastern edge of Durham village on the lower concession of Ormstown, October 11th 1822. By the spring of 1825 he had erected suitable buildings and moved his family to the ultimate family home on that land. The family was completed with the births of Anne 16 March 1827, and Alexander 4 June 1829 in Durham village and finally John 2 June 1831, Susan 18 January 1833, Maria 18 September 1835, and William 27 July 1839 in the same place, now named Ormstown.

Thomas’ work in Lachine put him in business contact with the Tates of Tate Brothers Shipyard. He had also been a neighbour of Robert Whiteford during his year at La Prairie. These connections led to three of the Tates taking up land on the second concession of Ormstown, and the widow Margaret (Lennox) Whiteford acquiring a farm there as well, after the death of her husband in an 1834 barn fire. Both of these families contributed brides to my paternal line.

It was in 1825 that Thomas arranged for his brothers and his father to join him in becoming landed folk here in the new world. His whole family, that is, except for one brother whose name has been lost to us. What little we know of him comes from his brother James’ interview with newspaperman and historian Robert Sellar 23 November 1882, in which Sellar recorded James to say, “…There were six brothers of us. One brother went to Van Dieman’s Land. He was a moulder as well as a blacksmith…” By the gap in the known birth order and this family’s adherence to the Scottish Naming Convention, we strongly suspect the missing brother to have been named Edward. We believe that he and Thomas were despatched to opposite ends of the earth in search of the most likely place for the family to escape the restrictive land practices at home, Thomas’ experience prevailing.

The new Canadian Sadler family eventually consisted of Thomas, his four brothers Robert (Anne Thornton), James (Eleanor Latimer), John (Jane Ridley) who set up his forge at Mount Pleasant, Canada West, Alexander (Mary Kennedy), and their father Edward, who resided with Thomas on the family farm until his death on the 3rd of April 1842. The family patriarch was laid to rest in St. James Anglican churchyard in Ormstown. John alone among the Canadian brothers continued to follow the blacksmithing trade, the others each tearing a farm out of the primitive bush and eventually prospering in the area around Ormstown. Eldest brother Robert had established his family in county Cavan and it unclear exactly when he (or they) came over. The first ten of his children were born in county Cavan between 1808 and 1830, the final two along the Chateauguay, John in 1833 and Catherine 18 November 1835. Father Edward and the remaining brothers travelled together, in 1825.

James described those early years: “In 1825 I sailed with my father and rest of the family to join Thomas. I walked up with Robert Wetherstone at the time of the Miramichi fire. The country was all in a fog of smoke and the river was full of cattle and other animals standing or swimming in it for relief, with their tongues hanging out. I worked out for five years by days work, chiefly to the Brysons and Dr. Harkness they being the only people about Durham who had anything themselves.

“Old Jones’s was the only house in Durham. All the wages I got was 15 pence a day. The great trouble was provisions. They were not to be had, for hardly any of the settlers were able to raise more than they needed and many not that much. I have walked down with a bag to Reeves’ and all I could get was a loaf. The Brysons, Grant and Morrisons were about the only ones who had anything to sell. Old Rutherford had a little store, kept a few groceries and provisions when he could get them. When he got a quintal of meal, he would deal it out fairly so that all would have some, getting me one or two quarts, and another perhaps three if he had a large family. Oatmeal was dear then, $6 to $7 a quintal. Rutherford was a very decent, honest man. No he did not sell whiskey. His house was rough and black everywhere when I first saw it, but it came afterwards to be the yellow house. When he died, his nephew, who had married a daughter of Marratt’s, succeeded, and he sold whiskey, and they went to the bad.

“Having got something together, I got from Rutherford lot 17, which a man Carruthers had, and attempted to clear but gave up, after spending his all. I paid $9 for it. I found I could do nothing either. The water flowed in on it from the 3rd range, and we had no way to ditch. I was up to the ankles in water, and the only way we could keep our feet dry out of doors was to walk on logs. My feet swelled and went awry with the wet. The lot was covered with the finest bush possible—elm, ash and oak—enough of oak to be a small fortune, but it was all valueless on account of my not being able to haul it out of the wet. And I could not make ashes either, for there was not a dry knoll to burn the logs. After fighting away for five years, I saw I had to leave and I sold it to my brother in exchange for the 50 acres he had got from Nolan, and on which I am now, for I got afterwards 100 from McCaffery behind. The lot was all bush when I got it. I came on in the spring & put up a log shanty with a sheet for a door, and managed to chop enough to put in a lock of wheat, and oats, corn and potatoes. After that year we never wanted for enough to eat. The stony ridges were the best then.

“I know there was quite a clearing at Furlong’s point, and there was a small clearing in front of my neighbour, Davidson’s lot. The only spring on my lot was in the creek, where the deer had made a lick in coming to drink. The country around here was full of deer and wolves when I settled on it. A year or two after, I got a neighbour on Ross’s farm, Jamie—I can’t mind his name. My brother Alexander settled in New Ireland and Robert in the Outarde. Another brother went to Upper Canada, and is still living. Lachlan Cameron and Menzies were the only settlers I knew of in the Outarde.

“I and a man called Wilson, a north countryman who had been in Upper Canada, and who lived on the south side of the river, built the first English Church at Durham. It was of round logs, but did well enough. Before it was up Bethune used to come & preach occasionally in the yellow house. I was sexton, and remember Bishop Monutand well. He was the tallest man I ever saw and he was good too. He came up once in a complaint being sent against Brethour. When he was ready to proceed with the enquiry, he told me to go out and call in the members. When I went out I found every one gone. I returned and told his lordship who ordered the hostler (he was at McEachern’s hotel) to get out his horse and left. Cannot say that it was Brethour who got the witnesses to leave. Wilson’s wife died of the cholera & is buried on his farm.”

Thomas Sadler went to his reward 06 May 1857, having provided a farm for each of his sons and leaving the home farm to his youngest son William, with Jane, his wife to retain lifetime privileges therein.

The Gleaner, Mar 9, 1882: “The Sadler farm adjoining this village has been sold for $6,500 – Dr McLaren being the purchaser.”

The Gleaner, May 18, 1882: Died-At Jamestown, on Friday the 12th inst, Jane Waugh, relict of the late Thomas Sadler, in the 90th year of her age, a native of County of Roscommon (sic), Ireland. (Jane was a Leitrim girl—wms)

The Gleaner, May 20, 1886 “There died at Dewittville, on the 12th May, James Sadler, aged 96 years, 7 months and 15 days, and in him another pioneer has gone. He, with other members of his family, emigrated from Roscommon, Ireland, 60 years ago, and took up land in Ormstown concession, now the property of Edward Sadler. He cut down the bush and strove to crop a little, but found it impossible to exist, the land being so wet and low. It is said he made mounds of clay in patches on his clearance to plant potatoes, in order to keep them dry, but finding that industry would be useless on such a location, his brother Thomas Sadler, sold him a farm of 50 acres at Dewittville where he passed the remainder of his long life. He toiled honestly and frugally through long years, making a comfortable home for his family. As time wore on, age caused him to relinquish his labours when his son, Thomas, supplanted him. He was a devoted member of the English church but a short time ago he had to yield to infirmities and deny himself his five mile walk to church, which had been his custom every Sunday. Being light of foot and cheerful of heart, his passing by gave pleasure to those he met. He was full of that courage and hardihood so manifest in many of the first settlers. The great age which he attained was doubtless assisted by strict adherence to the natural laws so necessary to health and longevity. He belonged to a family whose early ancestors were Swedes and who came to county Roscommon in the mining interests. During the rebellion of ‘37 and ‘38 he served Canada faithfully in the militia, and has left after him few to recall incidents of those earlier times.

The Gleaner, May 27, 1886: Died – On the 22nd May at Mount Pleasant, Ontario, John Sadler, aged 88 years, brother of the late James Sadler of Dewittville. He was the last of seven (sic) sons of the late Edward Sadler of Castle Tennyson, Roscommon, Ireland.

James’ interview with Sellar also provided us with the information that he and his brothers were trained as blacksmiths, establishing that this was a family trade, leading back to their Swedish roots and their connection to the early coal and iron industry around Arigna, at the northern tip of county Roscommon. This further reveals one of those delightful coincidences so commonly encountered by genealogists. Your writer, a second-great grandson of our subject Thomas, was a son and grandson of farmers who had taken up homesteads in Saskatchewan in 1910, and knew of no other background. Upon completing high-school I left the farm for the industrial east, whereupon I took up employment in an old blacksmith shop recently converted to a steel fabrication shop, with forge and an octogenarian blacksmith at one hand on a modern iron-worker at the other. I spent the next seven years becoming a master of the iron-working trade. Blood tells.

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