Stories reprinted with permission of Author Janet Kellough from her book “The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County”.
Lost in the Woods
When the first settlers arrived in the County, it was heavily forested with white pine and oak. Big Island, in particular, was said to be heavily wooded with beautiful timber. Trees, however, were an enemy to the early settlers. They had to be cut and the stumps removed before fields could be made suitable for crops, and densely wooded areas posed a hazard for the traveler, as the paths to neighbours’ farms were poorly marked and the way indicated only by blazes.
Many stories are told of children lost in these woods, never to be seen again. Children were often sent on errands through the woods, or to take food to the men working in the forest. They were always admonished to stay on the path; the trees were so thick that any sense of direction was soon lost and children could wander in circles for days without finding the path again. Many stories are told of wild animals curling up with children, saving them from freezing at night and some children managed to survive on wild berries and roots until they were found or stumbled into a settled clearing, but many of the children were never found and their bodies never recovered.
Childhood was precarious enough without this added hazard; accidents and disease carried many away, and children were so prized that orphans were automatically taken into neighbouring families, where they were brought up with the same care and attention given to natural children. Childless couples would often “borrow” children to live with them for months at a time. In some cases, great persuasion had to be used to get the children back!
Treasure at Glenora
At Glenora there is a cave some 50 feet from the top, which can only be reached by a narrow path along the face of the cliff.
During the Seven Years War, a French admiral watched from the cave while the British and French fleets fought one of the last marine battles of the war. Fearing defeat, the admiral hid all his treasure in an adjoining room-sized cave and sealed the small entrance to it.
No record can be found of the admiral ever returning to claim it and his treasure still waits somewhere high up on the cliff.
Struck by Lightning!
The Rednersville Local 899 Orange Lodge used to meet on the second floor of what is now the Rednersville Country Store.
On July 9, 1926 initiation ceremonies for entrance into the Lodge were being held in the hall when lightning struck the building and followed along the pipes which fed the gas lights. John Wellington Bowers and his son William were sitting on opposite sides of the hall, but both were struck and killed.
All but two of the other members were knocked unconscious. These two rushed down the stairs and out of the parking lot where they attempted to start their cars to go and get help. The lightning had apparently played havoc with the vehicles — none of them would start with the exception of the Bowers car, which was the only one left unaffected!
How Christian Street got its name
Barn-raising bees were riotous affairs in the early days of Prince Edward. Each settler was licensed to have two bees a year provided he furnished a good pot pie and plenty to drink. Wrestling matches, gymnastics and feats of strength were featured entertainments, and the day always ended with a dance. If a fiddler or bag-piper was not available, the young people would sing or provided music on combs. Usually a kissing bee was held at some point during the evening. Great quantities of liquor and food were consumed. Almost invariably, fights would erupt, either after meals or during the evening’s entertainment.
One farm wife who was preparing for a barn-raising ordered her 12 year old daughter to assist her in setting up a trestle table in front of the house. The daughter demurred. “But mother,” she said,” if you put the table in the dooryard, where will the men fight?”
One barn-raising in Hillier didn’t go quite as expected. The farmer, a newcomer to the area, provided the usual quantities of rum for the workers, but was surprised when not a drop was touched. When he asked about it he was told by his Quaker workforce that no rum would be consumed that day “as this is a Christian street”. To hammer the point home, they fastened a carved wooden sign to the side of the farmer’s new barn that said “Christian St.” and the road has been known by this name ever since.
Hero of 1812
During the War of 1812, American soldiers often made forays into British territory to capture enemy officers, who could then be exchanged for American prisoners of war. With that end in mind, thirteen Americans landed at Conner’s point, about two miles from Prinyer’s Cove. Outposts carried the news of their presence to Captain John Prinyer who set off with a small squad to capture them. Taking with him only four men and an orderly, he posted his forces in the woods with orders to give an Indian war cry at the appointed time.
Prinyer walked into the American camp alone and demanded surrender. The Americans were astounded at his audacity and, not surprisingly, refused. Prinyer then calmly informed them that he had come only to save them from a scalping, and that if they did not lay down their arms, the Indians would do their worst! As the words left his mouth, the woods echoed with war whoops. The Americans hastily surrendered to Prinyer and were marched to Kingston, where they spent the rest of the war as prisoners.
This is not a “history” of Prince Edward County in the usual sense. Although many of the stories in this book are true, many others have obviously been embellished in the re-telling. They are, however, “real” stories – they have all been told, at one time or another, by people in the County. Stories have survived here where they have disappeared in other localities. Because of the County’s geographic isolation and because so many of the “old families” still live here, tales have often been passed from generation to generation.
Although I have not fabricated any details, I often found different versions of the same events. Every attempt was made to verify historical detail, but in cases where I found varying accounts, I simply chose to use the interpretation I liked best.
Thank you to all the people who told me stories …
Copyright ©1994 Janet Kellough, All rights reserved
Published by Kellough Productions, Picton, Ontario 1994