Family history

This is a transcription of an article that appeared in the Strathroy Age Dispatch on June 20, 1940. I am printing it for my family, especially Crystal and Linda who have shown interest in our ancestors. I am scanning for more info (Denise had collected a lot of this, including pictures, which I am also trying to sort through.) My middle name is Elizabeth, by the way. There are terms used in this article such as “Indian”, “Squaw” and “papoose”, but I left the language as is, since the article is 70 years old and it was a different time…

Early Toil Rewarded By a Long Life, Metcalfe Pioneer Believes in Her 91st Year: Miss Elizabeth Goldrick Had Plenty of Hard Work in Her Youth When Her Irish Father Broke New Land

By Myrtle E Home

Miss Elizabeth Goldrick, who will celebrate her 91st birthday if she lives until August 24, declares that hard work never kills: in fact, she can account in no other way for her advanced age than by attributing it to the continuous struggle which pioneer days demanded of every woman as well as man.

Only two years of age when her mother died, she and her sisters Maria, Nancy and Margaret were early initiated into all kinds of household tasks. There were meals to be cooked every day for three brothers, Edgar, Edward and Gilman, and their father and the equipment for such cooking was of the most primitive kind. Miss Goldrick recalls that at one time there was a period of six weeks in which they had no bread whatever, the mill at Alvinston, where their flour was usually ground, having broken down. She does not remember what they ate in place of bread, but they managed to exist. She also recalls a family living five miles distant who had absolutely nothing to eat for the same period of time excepting what the cows ate. To avoid using poisonous herbs, they followed the cows to the woods, and what they ate the family gathered too and cooked it, and on it subsisted until their crops were harvested.

In her early days the Indians wandered through the forests surrounding her home, and it was no unusual sight to see 25 ponies with squaws mounted on them go by, the Indian braves on foot. Always the mother carried the papoose strapped on to a board, the board strapped to her back. One time when the family was alone in the house three Indians came in drunk, and one was so “beastly” the children were terrified. These Indians wanted to stay all night, and they were told they might do so if they would sleep in the barn. In the morning, when the boys went out to do the chores, they found the cattle and stock all fed and the Indians gone. On another occasion, they had a piece of meat in the kettle cooking over the fireplace, when an Indian named Black Hawk came in, took a fork and removed the meat from the kettle, and walked off with it without so much as “by your leave.”

Miss Goldrick, who now lives with her nephew, James Goldrick, and his family on the old homestead, is the last surviving member of the family of Edward Goldrick, who as a young man of 19 came to this country from the neighborhood of Dublin, Ireland. For a time he taught school. The, with the money he had saved, he bought a block of 85 acres in the heart of the forest, about a mile and a half from the present village of Napier. Presently came a chance to sell it for the sum of $20, after which he took up a farm adjoining it, (the Goldricks still own this land, but it is separated from the homestead by a road).  The purchaser of Mr. Goldrick’s farm cut down trees and put up the framework of a log house. The next year, meeting Mr. Goldrick one day, he said, “If I had my $20 back again I’d make better use of it.” “Well, here it is,” said Mr. Goldrick, handing him the money. And so the property became once more Mr. Goldrick’s, and has ever since remained in the family. Miss Elizabeth’s father then completed the log house, which, measuring 18 feet by 24 feet, boasted three rooms downstairs and two upstairs. The big logs (with much of the bark on) forming the outer walls of this pioneer home are still standing as a memorial to the energy and good craftsmanship of these early builders. As a matter of fact, this first house was lived in by the Goldrick family – one brother and two sisters always remaining here – until the present home was built by the nephew, James, who has worked the farm since his uncle’s death.

After the death of his first wife, the pioneer Mr. Goldrick bought the store and hotel in Napier from Mr. Winter, and here the family lived for some years, going to the Napier school, where, Miss Elizabeth recalls, her first teacher was Miss Toar, and another was Alex Leitch. In that early school there was a long desk down the middle of the room with benches on either side for the pupils, the boys occupying one side and the girls the other. There were large families in those days and Miss Goldrick remembers when Miss Campbell had 120 on the roll at one time. This teacher later married Mr. Dunlop, who owned and operated a sawmill in the village and made cheeseboxes.

When Mr. Goldrick remarried they moved back to the farms again, and the children then attended the Yager’s school (SS No. 5). For several years after her father settled here there was no church and services were held once a month in the different homes by a visiting minister. Then for a time the Rev. Hutton preached in Yager’s school. When the Presbyterian church was built in Napier the family attended there.

Miss Goldrick remembers well when the Napier road was chopped out. The first man to undertake this job gave up in despair, and the work was completed by Jimmie Denshaw and his mother. The first man to drive over it was Thomas Winter, grandfather of George and Lee Winter, who owns the farms neighboring the Goldrick farm.

There were many hardships in those early days according to Miss Goldrick. She recalls that her father took a bag of maple sugar on his back and walked through the woods to Kilworth, a distance of 20 miles. There he sold it and with the proceeds bought his first logging chain. Settlers walked this distance too carrying a bag of wheat to be ground at Woodhull’s mill at Kilworth. Their grain was taken by team and wagon to market at St. Thomas. Before the Goldricks had horses and implements, however, haying and harvesting were laborious tasks. The hay was cut with a scythe and raked up by hand. Then Mr. Goldrick went into the woods and got four poles, two long ones and two short ones. He fastened the short ones across the long ones placed parallel; then he and his wife, each taking an end of this improvised rack, brought the wheat into the barn. The grain was cut with a sickle and threshed with a flail. Then, Miss Goldrick further recalls, there came a time when her father and four other men went to London and bought the first threshing outfit in that section. It was the old “spike” type and was replaced in a few years by a more modern outfit. With the early wood-burning engine that succeeded these, sparks often caused fires. As an emergency measure the engineer always kept a tub of water handy. On one occasion, when but a little girl watching the machine, Miss Goldrick was held up by the engineer and told to pull the string, which she could just grasp. She did so, and was so astonished and frightened by the raucous whistle that she fell backwards and landed in the tub of water.

One other day the roof of their barn caught fire in some manner and, the men being away, her mother undertook to save it. She climbed on to the roof and pulled off three blazing boards but in doing so fell back into the barn. She was not seriously hurt, however, but the barn was destroyed.

In this neighborhood in the early days dancing provided the merriest times, “Old Dan Tucker” proving the most popular dance, although the settlers varied it with “Two Sisters”, Scotch Reels and “French Four.” Before fiddles came to the district Miss Goldrick’s brothers and another man would take turns in singing for the dancers. One can imagine that for these two at any rate a dance was not altogether a time of pleasurable relaxation.

Although almost 91 years old, Miss Goldrick has retained her faculties to a remarkable degree, her eyesight alone being impaired so that she can no longer enjoy reading and knitting, lifelong hobbies of hers.

Elizabeth Goldrick 1850 – 1949 – died of skin cancer

Inscription I took from the Goldrick family gravestone (we did rubbings in 1975 before it was taken down and the graves moved from the small plot in the middle of a field)

North side – In memory of Edward Goldrick, died Sept. 7, 1882 aged 67 years, 5 months and 7 days.

Why do we mourne departing life,
Or shake at death’s alarm.
Tis but the same that Jesus said,
To call them to his arms.

East side – In memory of Elizabeth, wife of Edwd. Goldrick, aged 40 yrs., 1 month and 16 days.

South side – In memory of Albert Goldrick. Died March 13, 1864, aged 4 yrs. Annie aged 10 days.

West side – In memory of Caroline, wife of Edwd. Goldrick. Died April 2, 1864, aged 29 years. (She obviously died shortly after Albert and Annie. I had read somewhere that Caroline died of consumption.)

Archie, Ray, James, Harold, Bruce and Doug Goldrick

Napier School

James and Edward Goldrick

The Goldrick farmstead

The Goldrick farmstead

Children of James and Ida Goldrick


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Mary Ann Kightley
    Feb 08, 2011 @ 18:28:12

    Good afternoon. I was very excited to read your blog on “Family History”, as this is part of my family history also. Our father’s mother’s name was “Leta Goldrick”, daughter of James & Ida Goldrick. I have compiled a brief “Goldrick” genealogy from info on the web – matched with a few photos that our father had. This is very exciting for us. Thank you for this additional info.
    Mary Ann Kightley


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