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- Life in Canada Fifty Years Ago - 31/31 -


the Indians telling her if she stirred he would break her head with the paddle. The threat may not have been unwise. Their safety depended on perfect control of the boat, and in their light shell a very slight movement might prove disastrous. Her situation was rendered more unpleasant by the splashing of the water, which wet her to the skin. This she had to put up with for hours, while the Indians bravely and skilfully breasted the sea, and at last set her safely on the beach in front of her father's house. When they came to the shore one of the Indians sprang lightly into the water, caught her in his arms and placed her on dry land. This trip was literally burned in her memory, and though she frequently mentioned it, she did so with a shudder, and an expression of thankfulness for her preservation.

Of the old people who were living in my boyhood there are few more thoroughly fixed in my memory, with the exception, perhaps, of my grandfathers Canniff and Haight, than Willet and Jane Casey. There were few women better known, or more universally respected, than Aunt Jane. This was the title accorded to her by common consent, and though at that time she had passed the allotted term of three-score years and ten, she was an active woman--a matron among a thousand, a friend of everybody, and everybody's friend. Her house was noted far and wide for its hospitality, and none dispensed it more cordially than Aunt Jane. In those days the people passing to and fro did not hesitate to avail themselves of the comforts this old home afforded. In fact, it was a general stopping place, where both man and beast were refreshed with most cheerful liberality.

[Illustration: AUNT JANE, AGE 92]

Jane Niles, her maiden name, was born at Butternuts, Otsego County, in the central part of New York State, 1763; so that at the commencement of the American Revolution she was about eleven years old. She was married in 1782. The following year, 1783, the year in which peace was proclaimed, her husband, Willet Casey, left for Upper Canada, and located in the fourth town on the shore of the Bay of Quinte. After erecting a log house and a blacksmith shop, he returned for his wife. He was taken seriously ill, and nearly a year passed before he was able to set out again for the new home in the wilds of Upper Canada (which was reached early in the year 1785), where, after a long and prosperous life, he ended his days.

Aunt Jane was a tall and well proportioned woman, of commanding presence and cheerful disposition; a woman of more than ordinary intelligence, and a good conversationalist. She had been a close observer of passing events, and possessed a wonderfully retentive memory. It was an epoch in one's life to hear her recount the recollections of her early days. These ran through the whole period of the American War, and many scenes which are now historical, that she had witnessed, or was cognizant of, were given with a vividness that not only delighted the listener but fixed them in his memory. Then, the story of the coming to Canada, with her first babe six months old, and the struggles and hardships in the bush, which in the days of which I speak she delighted to linger over, was a great treat to listen to. There were few of the first families she did not know, and whose history was not familiar to her, and in most cases she could give the names and ages of the children. The picture given of her in this volume is a copy from a daguerrotype taken when she was ninety-two years old. For several years before her demise she did not use spectacles, and could read ordinary print with ease, or do fine needlework. She retained her faculties to the last, and died at the age of ninety-six.

She had eleven children, five of whom died young. Her eldest daughter, Martha, known as Patty Dorland, attained the age of ninety-two. Then followed Samuel, Elizabeth, Thomas, Mary and Jane. These, with the exception of Thomas and Mary Ingersoll, my wife's mother, died many years ago. Thomas Casey died at Brighton, in January of this year, aged eighty-seven, and Mary Ingersoll on the first of June, aged eighty-five, the last of the family.

Willet Casey was an energetic man. He accumulated a large property, and in my boyhood there were not many days in the week that the old man could not be seen driving along the road in his one-horse waggon in some direction. He was one of the first representatives for the Midland District, when Newark was the capital of the Province. His son Samuel, a number of years subsequently, represented the district, and later, his grandson, Dr. Willet Dorland, represented the County of Prince Edward.

NOTE: At the time my book was going through the press, I was under the impression that the fish known in this country as a Sucker was the same as the Mullet, but had no intention that the latter name should find its way into the text in place of Sucker. See page 41. According to Richardson, one of the best authorities we have, the Sucker is of the Carp family, the scientific name of which is _Cyprinus Hudsonius_, or Sucking Carp.

On page 127, "and, as their lives had theretofore," read heretofore.


Life in Canada Fifty Years Ago - 31/31

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