1. John HOLME was born on 9 Jul 1801 in Tatham, Lancashire, England. He died on 8 Apr 1887 in Dresden, Ontario. He was baptized in Tatham Fells, Lancashire, England. John Holme was born in England, as noted above, and came to Canada with his family probably in the 1820s. Although his last name was originally spelt "Holme", he later changed it to "Holmes".

John married Eliza Crafts, daughter of Joseph and Mary-Ann Crafts (nee Butler) around 1833. They had ten children: Bryan (1834), Joseph (approx. 1836), James (1838), John (1842), Mary Ann (1845), Sarah (1848), Daniel (1850), Robert (1852), Emily (1855) and Jane (1856/7).

The earliest record of our pioneer ancestor that has been found in Canada is dated January 5, 1832. On this date John, who was a farmer in the Township of Southwold in Elgin County, the London District, bought all 200 acres of Lot 4 Concession * in the Township of Dawn, Kent County, Western District from Jonas Crafts, who was a shoemaker from the Town of York in the Home District. Jonas was a relative of Eliza Crafts, probably her cousin. The transaction was made at Port Talbot, and the price of the land was 100 pounds. In those days, land was measured not in yards and feet but in chains and links, and the piece of property was 30 chains running north to south and 66 chains, 77 links from east to west.

It was on this farm that John and Eliza raised their family. Now appropriately called "The Homestead", it is located on the River Road. The original framehouse, now remodelled and moved from its original location near the Sydenham to a site nearer the River Road, is still "home" to some of their descendants.

Around this farm, a tiny place called Dawn Mills sprung up. Smith's Canadian Gazetteer (1846) describes it as follows:

DAWN MILLS: A settlement in the Township of Dawn situation on the east branch of Bear Creek, 15 miles from the forks, and 5 miles from the Western Road. It is a pleasant, healthy situation, and a good road has been made to the river Thames. At present the settlement only contains a grist and saw-mill, store and post office (post twice a week) and about 10 houses.

On the 1860 census, John gives his family's religion as Church of England. However, the 1871 census tells us that they became Wesleyan Methodist. The change was probably made because the small village of Dawn Mills had grown and been established, and two churches had been built there.

This is how Dawn Mills is described in the 1866-7 Kent County Directory (notice the name of the township has been changed to Camden Gore):

"A post village on the Sydenham River, on Lot 3, 7th and 8th concessions, of the Gore of Camden, distance from Chatham 16 miles. The village was laid out in 1863 by the late William Taylor, Esq. The third Division Court is held here. It contains two churches, Episcopal and Wesleyan Methodist, one flouring mill, one carding and fulling mill, one saw mill, 2 Hotels, a carriage and waggon maker, blacksmith, etc. Daily Mails. Population about 200."

John Holme farmed his land, Lot 4 Con 8, for most of his life, although he sold off bits and pieces of it as the years went by. The West 100 acres were sold to his son John in Dec. 1882, and the last part of the lot was bought by James Blackburn for $22 at the end of Dec 1884. Earlier, in 1856, John had bought 85 acres of the W 1/2 of the south part of Lot 27 Con 2 and 50 acres of the W 1/2 of the north part of Lot 27 Con 1, both in the Township of Chatham Gore. He sold all but 35 acres of the former, which was under an oil lease, to his eldest son Bryan in 1871. He had also bought the West 100 acres of Lot 3 Con 10 in Camden Gore in 1865, selling the south 50 acres to his son Robert in 1877 and the north 50 acres to him in 1883.

Now, having sold all of his land, John moved to Dresden for the remaining months of his life. He died there on April 8, 1887 at the age of 85 years and 10 months. He was buried in the Blackburn Cemetery at the north end of that town, joining his wife Eliza who had died almost exactly 14 years before him, on April 5, 1873.

A copy of his will, as well as transcripts from the gravestones in the Blackburn Cemetery, are elsewhere on this web site.

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