By 1823 John and Frances had secured land of their own in the swampy, mosquito infested "backwoods" of March Township where many of the workers of the large river front estates eventually settled. The 1823 Census listed Jno Hedley as "head of household", living on concession 4 of March Township, one of only 49 families living in the township at that time. Belden Illustrated Historical Atlas of Carleton County
John and Frances had six surviving
children and eventually
over 50 grandchildren. This website attempts to trace the lives of
these six children, the over 50 grandchildren plus numerous great
grandchildren, gg grandchildren, ggg grandchildren and even some gggg
grandchildren, scattered throughout Canada, the United States,
Australia, New Zealand and other countries.
The Township of March Registry, May 26, 1828, shows that the south half of lot 18, concession 4, consisting of 100 acres, was ceded by the Crown to John Hedley. Although free land grants had been abolished in 1824, it appears that John Hedley had applied for and settled prior to that date. John quickly became active in the development of his community. The first minutes of "The Inhabitant Householders," held August 20, 1822 at the "Erskine Arms" (probably the home of Captain Weatherley) recorded the forming of the "Courts of Request" at which John Hedley was one of those contributing to the cost of this first judicial office in March Twp. He made a donation of one pound--one of the larger donations.
John Hedley also became a "part officer" in the initial March Township Council and operated March Township’s only inland grist and sawmill, which was powered by the waters of Constance Creek, flowing through the Hedley property. It was probably through their work as millers that the Hedleys managed to advance from indentured servants to owners of one of the finest stone houses in the township. Mills were in high demand, and the only other grist mill in the township was Pinhey’s, which would have been quite inconvenient for farmers in the South March area, requiring a trip across the swampland separating the settlers on the Ottawa River from the settlers in the interior.
John Hedley was appointed by "The Inhabitant Householders " to the office of "Pathmaster," responsible for planning the work of building and maintaining the wilderness roads and ensuring that the work was performed by the inhabitants, who were expected to donate a specified number of days of free labour as a form of taxation. As Pathmaster (Overseer of Highways), John Hedley was assigned, on May 1, 1837, the task of clearing the "River Road" (Kerwin Road) from his own lot 18, proceeding along the Diagonal Road to the River. Later that year he reported that the labour in his division had been completed. On Oct. 13, 1838 John Hedley reported, as "prosecuter," that "several persons were defaulters in not performing their statute labour." They were fined five shillings to one pound, depending on the number of days of statute obligation. Since several other Pathmasters reported defaulters, the political turmoil of the time may have been a contributing factor.
John Hedley also held the office of "Fence Viewer." This was an important position in the early days and required diplomacy and firmness. One of the responsibilities of the Fence Viewer was to ensure that fences were five feet high and the rails or logs on the bottom two-and-a-half feet were no more than six inches apart. "Breachy cattle" (those breaking through a "lawful" fence more than once) were not allowed to run at large, and owners faced fines and impoundment. The holders of the municipal offices of Pathmaster and Fence Viewer, as well as those of Clerk, Treasurer, Pound Keeper and Warden, were each appointed for one year and were responsible to the appointed Justices of the Peace (one of whom was Capt. James Weatherley). On Jan. 1, 1832 the Council for the Township of March held their meeting at the house of John Hedley to nominate and appoint "officers" for the coming year.
The Hedleys built at least two log houses on lot 18, concession 4. One of these log houses is still in use, presently as a stable. It consists of a squared log, two-storey structure 21 feet by 25 feet, with indications that a stone fireplace had existed in the middle of the back wall. Windows were small and scarce as glass was expensive. Built around 1825, it was probably the original home of the Hedleys on lot 18. Typically houses were built of squared logs, and barns were built of round logs. It was strategically located near Constance Creek, which would have provided a ready supply of water and also water power for the grist mill and later for the saw mill. Photo: Rear of original log house. A barn was also built on the property. The older part, still in excellent shape according to its present owner, was built by the Hedleys. The beams, rafters and barn boards were clearly sawn from timber by their on-site sawmill with a reciprocating saw, an early type of saw, rather than a circular saw. Square nails were used throughout. The newer addition to the barn has hand-hewn beams cut with a broadaxe and adz, suggesting that by the time of the construction of the addition, the Hedley sawmill had fallen into disuse.
An exhibition at Pinhey’s Point in the summer of 2003 entitled A
Firm Foundation: The Stone Houses of Old March, organized by
Margot Reid, includes a photograph accompanied by the following
description of the old Hedley stone house in March Township:
The Hedley House
The erection of this stone home in 1839 must have been a pinacle of acheivement for the Hedley family who had come from England twenty years earlier as indentured servants to Captain Weatherley. The land was granted to John Hedley (1773-1855) in 1828, but he transferred it to his son Nicholas (1814-1894) in 1842. Nicholas is said to have built this house to replace an earlier log one that burned. His money came from harnessing Constance Creek to operate a sawmill, the second such venture in March after Pinhey's. Debts mounted as the water table dropped. After serving as a township councillor in 1852-53, Hedley sold the property in 1855 and moved west to Huron County, where he found employment as a miller.
By the end of the 19th century the house had begun to deteriorate, becoming a derelict by the 1950's. It was restored in the 1960s but has lost its interior trim.
The above description courtesy of Bob Gregory, present owner of the Old Stone House
The March Township Registry of May 9, 1842 lists Nicholas
Hedley, son of John and Frances, as the owner of
the south half of Lot 18, although John and Frances continued to live
there for some time. The 1851 Censuses for the two Hedley families show that John and Frances were no longer residents
at lot 18, Con. 4, but were
living with their youngest son William and his family:
||b. June 16, 1799 Ovingham Parish, Northumberland, England,
was drowned abt 1821 in March Township (burial place unknown)
|| b. Sept.16, 1801 in Ovingham;
m. in Ottawa abt. 1829 to Walker Dawson, b. abt 1791; seven children (Chap. 3)
|John Hedley II
||b. Aug. 29,1804 in Ovingham; d.1866 in March Twp; m.1825 to
b. about 1887 in Scotland, d. Aug. 2,1886 in Black Jack, Kansas; fourteen children (Chap. 4)
||b. Jan.19, 1808 in Ovingham, d. 1887 in March Twp; m. abt
1824 to Thomas Morgan,
b. abt 1793 in Ireland; d. July 13, 1858 in March Twp; nine children (Chap. 5)
|Hannah Hedley||b. Aug. 6, 1810, Ovingham; d. Sept.21, 1812 in Ovingham|
||b. Feb. 27, 1814 in Ovingham, d. Jan. 24, 1894 in Lucknow; m.
Oct.12, 1835 in
Wesleyan Methodist Church, Bathurst Dist., Carleton Co. to Jane McBride, b. abt.
1818 in Tyrone Co., Ireland, d. July 3, 1903 in Kincardine Twp.; fifteen children (Chap. 8)
||b. June 17,1815 in Ovingham, d. Nov.10,1899 in March Twp; m.
April 15, 1840 in
St. John’s Anglican Church, March Corners to Bridget Younghusband b. 1823 in
Cumberland Co., England, d. Aug. 30, 1857 in March Twp; seven children (Chap. 6)
|Mary Ann Hedley
|| b.1821 in Harwood Plains, March Twp., d. July 22, 1905 in
m1 on May 18, 1839 in March Twp. to Thomas Naughty b. abt 1809 in Templeton,
Lower Canada; d. Dec. 23, 1840 in March Twp. One child
m2 in March 1848, March Twp. to Andrew Hopewell, b. abt 1826 in Ireland,
d. Sept. 7, 1872 in March Twp. Eight children (Chap. 7)
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