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Puslinch Historical Society Spirit Walk
June 26, 2016
This corner was first named Fraserville, in the 1850's, when there was actually a little village here. But pretty well this whole corner and down to the Gore was at one time owned by a McPherson or a relative of a McPherson. The McPherson name was associated with Crieff church for over a hundred years until 1968, and there are still descendants in this area.
There were so many McPhersons and with the same names that people gave them nicknames in order to tell them apart. There was Donald Dhu, Donald Bann, Angus the Elder, Hugh, known as "Cluny," Duncan" Corneil" and James, "the cobbler" for example. In 1857, Rev. McLean counted 7 McPherson heads of families in his congregation. The McPherson families were also related to the McLeans, McDonalds, Martins and Camerons, so many of the people of this part of Puslinch and Beverly were all related.
By the 1860's, all the land in Puslinch had been taken up, and the second generations were leaving for Huron, Grey and Bruce counties which were opening up for pioneering. As the west opened up in both Canada and USA in later years, many entire families left for Dakota, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In the last 25 years of the 19th century, the population of Puslinch declined by 5,000. (Today, the population of Puslinch is just over 5,000) The McPherson family became dispersed away from Puslinch during this migration.
But there are still many McPhersons buried here. It appears that they are mainly of the second generation, as Crown cemetery was established before Crieff, and the first settlers would have had to be buried there. There are also a few who had moved away, but were returned to this cemetery for burial – such is the attachment of the homeland.
Actually, three different McPherson families settled in this vicinity, I will start with Donald Dhu. Donald" Dhu" (or "dark" in Gaelic, as he was dark haired) arrived here in 1838. He is not buried here, but some of his descendants are.
Donald "Dhu" McPherson was born in 1784 near Badenoch, Scotland. His ancestors had served Robert the Bruce and been rewarded with a grant of land at Badenoch. Donald was the estate foreman at Inverton Farm near Badenoch in Scotland. He married Catherine,( Ann according to some sources, ) also a McPherson, in 1802 when he was 18 and she was 17. They had a big family –12 children all born in Scotland , of whom 11 survived. Sometime between 1830 and 1838 his wife died, and in 1838, at close to 60 years of age, Donald emigrated to Canada with the rest of his family, travelling on the ship "St Lawrence".When they came, the country was all forested, not a tree had been cut on the land they settled on.
Donald's oldest son Hugh (nicknamed Cluny) was already here. He had come in 1835. He lived in the Badenoch settlement for a time, and was one of the early school teachers there. Hugh married Flora Fraser, and pioneered on Lot 22, Rear of the Gore. He used to sell the best pine trees for $1 each as he cleared the land. In about 1868, they moved away to Bruce County.
Three of Donald Dhu's sons married three daughters of the other Donald McPherson (Donald Ban, for his fair hair) who lived across the road at Lot 27, Front of Concession 1.
"Black" John was Donald Dhu's second son. In Scotland, he had been a drover, buying and selling cattle and sheep. He had one of the first horses in the neighborhood. He married Sarah, daughter of the Donald "Ban" McPherson who lived across the road, and they farmed Lot27, Rear of the Gore for a number of years. John then bought 33 acres of Lot 27, Front Conc. 1.and lived there. He and Sarah had 8 children, some of whom stayed here, some of whom scattered as far afield as California. Donald "Dhu", his father, lived out his life here.
Alexander bought the lot beside John, Lot 28, Rear of the Gore. Alexander married Jane, daughter of Donald "Ban" McPherson. Passmores saw mill was on this site, and paid $1/tree, thus was the land cleared of the forest. This farm is now owned by Doug and Gladys MacDonald.
Duncan "Corniel" McPherson married Ann, also the daughter of Donald "Ban" McPherson. Ann died at 24. One of their sons, also Duncan, was killed by a falling tree at the age of 20. His second wife was Isabella Henderson. Duncan was the contractor for building the present church which was completed in 1882. At the time of his death, Duncan owned part of Lot 27, Rear of the Gore.
James "the cobbler" worked in Hamilton for three years before coming to Puslinch in 1841 and buying Lot 23 of the Gore. Ninety years later, in 1950, this land was still owned by one of his sons and today it is owned by Dr. Rich.
James "the cobbler" married Ann McDonald. He lived until 1915. Their son Donald was killed in a logging accident. Another son William went to the Yukon gold fields. His son Angus married Flora Clark, and this is their headstone.
Angus who was the youngest of Donald Dhu's children, while still a child, was killed by a load of logs falling on him shortly after they arrived here from Scotland, but he was not forgotten.. Most of his brothers and sisters named one of their babies after him in the coming years, as did James "the cobbler" when he named this son buried here.
Of Donald Dhu's daughters, the oldest, Catherine did not marry until she was 37. Her husband, William Stewart, who was born at the foot of Mount Nevis in Scotland, had bought Rear half of Lot23, Concession 1 from the Crown in 1835. She had 5 children in as many years and was known as a hard worker,( which she would have had to be!). Catherine lived to the age of 92 and died of smoke inhalation when she dropped a lamp which started a fire. She and her husband are buried in Crown cemetery. Her husband William was one of those chosen to walk to Toronto to petition for land for Crown cemetery in the early days of Puslinch..
The patriarch Donald Dhu lived out the rest of his life on Lot 27, Rear of the Gore,, til he died in 1868 at the age of 85, and was buried in Crown cemetery.
Donald "Ban" McPherson
We don't have as much information about these McPhersons. Donald was nicknamed "Ban" in Gaelic, or "the fair". Donald had been a drover in the old country. He lived at Lot 27, Front of the 1st. He had one son, "Big Jim" (another nickname) and 3 daughters, Jean, Sarah and Ann, all of whom married sons of Donald "Dhu" McPherson across the road, which we have previously discussed. Two of the sisters, Jean and Sarah, lived on at Crieff in their old age .
The other McPhersons we will discuss are the Angus "The Elder" McPherson family. Many emigrant families of the times travelled together in a group for support when they came to Canada, and were most likely to all come from the same village or parish in the old country. Such was the case here. Angus came to Canada in 1844, in a party consisting of the Martins, McDonalds, Camerons and , McLeans. The McDonalds and McLeans were Angus's relatives by marriage.
Angus, ("The Elder") McPherson was born in Badenoch, Scotland in 1788, and married Catharine McRae before they came to Canada. He and Catherine had nine children, of whom 4 remained in Puslinch and the rest moved away. Angus bought 90 acres at Lot 24, Front of the Gore of Puslinch when he came to Puslinch and lived there the rest of his life. He had been an Elder in the church in Scotland, and when the previous West Puslinch church was built in 1840 at Lot 15, he became an Elder. He died in 1878. His wife died 4 years later in 1882. They are in Plot 20.
His first son, Donald (1824-92) stayed with his parents til 1850, helped clear the land, then began selling the first cooking stoves that were used in Puslinch. (Before that, people cooked on open fireplaces). Then he built the stone hotel that stood in Morriston until at least 1906. He kept the hotel for 8 years, then bought a farm of 122 acres in the Gore, (Lot 38, Front of the Gore) He married Jessie McEdwards. His son George farmed L. 36 Conc. 8.
James E. (1825 (1830?) -1913 (known as Black Jim), married his cousin Ann McDonald, and farmed L22, F. First Con. . He is buried in plot 63
John E. the youngest son, (1844-1893) inherited the farm when Angus the Elder died.
The McPherson genealogy is vast, and these are just a few snippets from the various families histories. In more modern times, Peter and Robert J. McPherson from Crieff served in WW.1,and are memoralized on the cenotaph in Aberfoyle.
Information from Puslinch Historical Society archives. Puslinchhistorical.ca
Read by Mrs. Margaret Young, Fergus, a McPherson descendant.
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Puslinch Historical Society
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29 Brock Road South
Puslinch, ON N0B 2J0