About 1821 several related McCutcheon families set sail from County Down in Ireland to find new homes in Canada. The voyage across the Atlantic Ocean took at least seven weeks by sail. When they arrived at Quebec they proceeded up the St. Lawrence River on boats known as Durham boats. These boats had to be towed past the rapids by teams of horses on the shore. While travelling up the St. Lawrence disaster struck this group and their boat was shipwrecked, causing them to lose all their possessions. This disaster reportedly took place in the vicinity of what is now Upper Canada Village. Some lives were lost also, but we do not know if any of the McCutcheon relatives were lost by drowning. They were left destitute in a new land. After landing they went to the Welland Canal area to procure work and to try to save a little money to establish themselves on the land. Work was hard and dangerous at the canal and the workers were very poorly paid. A newspaper advertisement in 1821 lists the wages at $12.00 per month. There was a steady influx of Irish settlers who came to work on the canal before settling elsewhere. The workers lived in shanties made of slabs which gave the settlement the name of “slabtown”. They may have worked to pay for their passage but it’s not known why the McCutcheons emigrated.
Old sketch of a Durham boat going up-river, accompanied by a bateax.
On the ship there were at least three related families and likely several others as well, since it was customary to travel in groups of eight to ten related families. Our ancestors were Samuel McCutcheon, his wife Charlotte Letitia (Morrison) and their family, also Charlotte’s mother, Isabella Morrison, widow of Henry Morrison. Samuel and Charlotte had a young family: Charles, David, William and Samuel Henry all born in Ireland. There was also a daughter Charlotte Letitia who was likely born shortly after their arrival in Canada and a son John was born in 1828.
The other two related families were Hugh McCutcheon and his wife with no family. He received a Location Ticket for Lot 4, Concession IV in Cavan Township (Millbrook area) on February 8, 1824. He cleared a few acres on this lot but then he went to work on the Ohio Canal for a time and he died near Cleveland, Ohio in October, 1832. This meant that his land had not been patented. His nephew, Charles McCutcheon Sr., as the oldest son of his oldest brother managed to claim the estate in New York and then sold it a short time later for seventy-five dollars.
The third family consisted of a sister, Eliza McCutcheon who was married to William Glover. The Glovers had lived in Mono for a time but had moved to Darlington Township before 1840. There were Glovers living in Mono and Mulmur Townships and some had moved to Darlington and Brock Townships. Eliza McCutcheon Glover also tried to claim her brother Hugh’s land but was unsuccessful.
Our ancestor, Samuel McCutcheon, applied for land on February 8, 1824 and he obtained a Location Ticket for 200 acres Lot 26, Con. I WHST in Mono Township on November 2, 1824. The McCutcheons were among the first ten or twelve settlers in the Township. They cleared 3 acres and built a small dwelling. At that time there was a road running diagonally across the Township from Mono Mills to Hall’s Corners. The McCutcheons had a nearby hotel or “hospitality house” to accommodate the needs of the early travellers along the route. Charlotte Letitia was born during this time.
Money was very scarce and Samuel and some neighbours, including Ed Smith, returned to the Welland Canal to obtain work in May 1828. They were there only a short time before Samuel died very suddenly. It has been reported that he choked to death while eating dinner. This left Charlotte Letitia in great need to provide for her family. Another son, John McCutcheon was born a short time after her husband’s death, but he did not live to grow up. The widow worked very hard to maintain her land and support her family along with the help of her mother Isabella who had immigrated with the family and her neighbours.
This farm had not been patented either and would have returned to the Crown. In 1844, Charles, the oldest son, claimed the land for his own. He quarrelled with his brothers and drove them from home and tried to oust his mother from the home she had made for herself. Petitions were circulated by the neighbours and Charles was denied any of the sixty cleared acres. (See Petitions under Charles’s information) He obtained the land and received a patent for it. In later years he also obtained other land in Mulmur Township. He became the postmaster of Primrose and Camilla. It appears from old records that Charles was married twice and that his first wife was Eliza Davidson. They married in Waterloo County and had one daughter, Amelia who married William Parks and later moved to North Bay. Charles’ second wife was Eliza Amelia Tanner, daughter of Esther Romnes and soldier of fortune, William Tanner who had met at Gibraltar and in defiance of her parents had eloped and lived on Jersey Isle where Eliza was born in 1815. There were eight sons and daughters in the family of Charles and Eliza: Mary who married Edward Sloan; Samuel who married his cousin Emily McCutcheon; Joseph who married Abigail Harvey; Agnes who married Benjamin Freeman; Ellen who married Arthur Ogilvie Jr.; Charles Jr. who married Ellen McCutcheon; William Tanner who married Mary E. Dorsey and Theresa Jane who married George Laking.
David Sr. the second son, obtained Crown Land in Mulmur Township along the Centre Road – W-1/2, Lot 13, Concession I EHST. He married Mary Ellen Hicks, who had been born in North Maryborough, Prince Edward County, granddaughter of Edward Hicks, United Empire Loyalist. They had a family of at least ten but three died young. Charlotte married Thomas McKee and lived in Mulmur. She died as a young woman. Emily married her cousin, Samuel McCutcheon; Samuel D. married Annie Robb and lived in Mulmur; Sarah married John McKee and went to live in Dakota and later to Washington; Hannah married Peter Laidlaw and went to Dakota in 1878. She died in 1894. David Jr. married Charlotte Aberdeen. They lived in Mulmur but spent five years in Gainsborough, Sask.; Mary Jane married James Noble and went to Gainsborough, Saskatchewan in 1892.
William, the third son, was a veteran of the McKenzie Rebellion and the Fenian Raids. He obtained Crown Land in Nottawasaga Township and the family lived at lot 12, Con. VI. He married Ann Smith and they had four sons and four daughters, also a child who died in infancy: Mary Elizabeth married Solomon Free and secondly George Davidson; Samuel married Isabella McQueen and secondly Mary Ann McArthur and thirdly Mary Currie; David married Flora Armstrong and lived on the home farm; Margaret married John McLean; Charlotte married John Carlton; Sarah Jane was unmarried; William married Harriett Chisholm and Thomas married Susan Holt.
The fourth son, Samuel Henry, worked at the Welland Canal for a time but did not return to Mulmur Township. There are few records of him. In the early years there was a Samuel and Mary McCutcheon in Mono Twp. but they moved away. A Samuel McCutcheon appears in Brock Township in old records. However Samuel was a common name and there is no proof of identity as yet.
The only daughter, Charlotte Letitia married John Robinson of Mono Township on April 4, 1848. John was an itinerant Methodist preacher and they went to live at Flint, Michigan. Old Methodist records show that Charlotte and John had a family of three sons and one daughter: Francis; Samuel John; Mary Jane and William. A recording of Mulmur pioneer cemetery shows that Charlotte died in 1860; John in 1858; son Francis in1888; son Samuel John in 1874. Mary Jane was raised by her aunt and uncle William and Ann McCutcheon in Nottawasaga Township.
John, the fifth son, was born in 1828 and died before becoming an adult.
The 1861 census for Mulmur Twp. lists a Sarah McCutcheon age 85 living with David and Mary Ellen McCutcheon. She was likely David’s aunt and an unmarried sister of Samuel, the pioneer.
On February 8, 1824, on the same date when Samuel and Hugh applied for their land, a William and a John McCutcheon also applied for land and received their land in Erin Twp. They were from Greyabbey, County Down, Ireland.