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Le Courant

Automne 2018 | 20

Compton Township


Déjeuner-Causerie November 8th, 2017

Compton Township

The territory of Buckinghamshire, this area between the seigneuries along the Richelieu River, the south shore of the St. Lawrence River and that of the Chaudiere River to the east, is bounded on the south by the border of the United States. This territory, unorganized until 1792, became known as the Eastern Townships and later as les Cantons de l'Est.
It was towards the end of the 18th century that many Americans would show interest in becoming a settler in the territory north of the forty-fifth parallel. Having wavered on this issue for a long time, the British authorities finally decided to organize this teritory, especialy since squatters had already been established on Crown Lands. According to the Proclamation of Lieutenant-Governor Alured Clarke of Lower Canada, the decision to organize the territory was made on February 7, 1792; the drawing up of the outline of the 95 townships in Buckinghamshire to begin. The organization of the Eastern Townships territory will prove effective as it now allowed for the influx of waiting New England settlers. This territory was open to those who, following the Declaration of Independance of the United States, wished to remain loyal to the British Empire.
A Township ''the Classic Definition''

                                      Carte Compton 1867

The Township of Compton conforms to the classic definition of the English township, a square of 10 miles (16 kilometers X 16 kilometers). It is bordered on the west by Hatley Township, on the north by Ascot and Eaton, on the east by Clifton Township and on the south by Barnston and Barford. Compton Township is divided from west to east into 10 ranges, each range being subdivided from south to north into 28 lots. Each lot measures approximately one mile by a little more than a third of a mile, an area of about 200 acres.
Compton Township was quickly seen as a new place for settlement but it was the association formed by Jesse Pennoyer, Nathaniel Coffin and Joseph Kilborne who would make the decisions, and Jesse Pennoyer was generally recognized as the leader of the group. By requistioning a township, the group leader, or in this case, the Associates, were responsible for the cost of surveying the boundaries of the township and the lots, the cost of the procedures and the costs of issuing letters patent. In addition to the three promotors, Leonard S. Channell, in ''The History of Compton County'' (1896)1 , identifies 18 associates interested in settling in Compton Township. Among these, Tyler Spafford and Isaac Farwell are names that still resonate in the Compton area, their descendants having lived there until the beginning of the twentieth century.
The Survey of the Township and Lot Concessions2
In July 1797, Joseph Kilbourne and Jesse Pennoyer left Missisquoi Bay in order to plan the survey, see to the provisions and the equipment necessary for drawing up of the lots in Compton Township.
In the following year, 1798, the surveyor Joseph Kilbourne arrived at Mr. Hyatt's place in Ascot on the eighth of October. The work begins on Tuesday, 9 October at the northwestern corner of Compton Township at limits (Postmark) of ''Compton, Hatley, Ascot - 1792''. Starting from the Massawippi River, the the east/west line between the townships of Ascot and Compton, the first mile marker is inserted into the ground a mile further inscribed ''Con, 2 Con 28'' 3; then one mile further on the same east/west line, a second marker is inscribed ''2 Con, 3 Con, 28''. On Wednesday 10 October, starting at marker 1.2.28, they move in the southwesterly direction, determining between the first and the second range, the limits of the various lots. They will reach Barnston Township, the southern boundary of Compton Township on 12 October. Going in an easterly directlon, they go back a mile further in a northerly direction marking the lots between the second and third ranges, etc. The work is completed with 10 further ranges by the 7th of November, following the marker marked ''Compton, Clifton, Eaton - 1792''. This expedition will take 30 days, taking 3 days to travel the township between the township of Ascot or Eaton in the north and those of Barnston or of Barford to the south.

                                carnet d'apprentissage

                                                                    Note book
Joseph Kilbourne's note book in particular showed important natural features that he came upon during his surveying work (streams, rivers, various species of trees, land quality, etc.). Therefore, the letters patent for the 280 lots will be agreed to by the government. The Township of Compton is officially proclaimed on August 31, 1802. Jesse Pennoyer, Nathaniel Coffin, Joseph Kilbourne and their associates took six lots each for themselves or 1200 acres of land. Curiously, two associates are an exception, land they received only amounted to about 1000 acres. Of all these lots, 120 are located in the first six ranges in the western part of Compton Township, with only six others located on the 7th range.
The allocation system for lots was not perfect, according to what the deputy registrar Jean-Chrysostome Langelier, wrote in ''Lists of Lands Allocated by the Crown in the Province of Quebec, from 1763 to December 31, 1890''. Several figures in public administration and speculators close to the center of power would get their hands on large sections of land. Compton Township was not spared since the former Lieutenant-Govenor, Sir Robert S. Milnes, was granted on March 12, 1810 more than 48,000 acres in Stanstead and Barnston counties, including 13, 110 acres in Compton Township. He practically becomes the sole owner of all of the eastern part of the township: the non-concessioned lots of the 7th ranges, except for those lots reserved for the Church of England and British Crown Lands.

The settlement of Compton
The settlement of Compton was not much different in make up from that of the southern part of the Eastern Townships. Three succcessive waves of immigration are well documented; the pioneer families from the New England states, Englsh immigrants, the Scottish and Irish immigrants and gradually the French Canadians who would more and more replace the first settlers.

The first wave: The pioneers from the New England States.

The settlement of the Eastern Townships began at the end of the seventeenth century. The people were essentially families from New England who came to settle in Compton. Free land was granted to settlers vowing an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. But the attractiveness of this free ticket went to many Americans of varying political affiliations, who did not hesitate to join the lists of requests for concessions'' 5
It is found from the beginning of the settlement of the lots, that several names are linked with the Associates of Pennoyer, Coffin and Kilborne: Stephen Vincent held a part of Lot 10, 7th Range where today one of the oldest cemeteries in Compton, the Cochrane Sleeper Cemetery is found; Tyler Spafford, whose descendants would go on to occupy the land for more than a century, where the Drouin Road (formerly the Spafford Flat Road) is found and where the covered bridge Spafford-Drouin would be built.
Among other families coming from the New England states were the Bowens who settled around 1805 in the area of Chemin Pouliot and Chemin Vaillancourt, the Doak family near the head of Dion Road close to Chemin Vaillancourt around 1810 and the Leavitts, on the road to Hatley around 1800, who had come from New Hampshire. The Farwells, arrived around 1800 and the Ives established themselves in the area of Ives Hill Road - came from Connecticut. The Ayers family arrived between 1830-1840, the Huntington family, before 1811, the Libbey family after 1816 and the Nichols family arrived between 1805-1807 and all came here from Vermont.
The majority of the immigration would continue until the mid-nineteenth century, some families from the Indian Stream Republic also found refuge in Compton.
The occupation of the Eastern Townships territory first settled by the American Pioneers would then be favorable to further settlement of British citizens, mainly from England, Scotland or Ireland.

The Second Wave: The British

The authors locate the beginning of British immigration in Canada to around 1815 when soldiers arrived in Quebec , retired or veterans, peasants from Ireland or the Highlands of Scotland who were fleeing difficult living conditions. The Townships in the southern part of the Eastern Townships were, at that time, not easily accessible so these immigrants tended to settle in the northern part of the Eastern Townships: Inverness, Leeds, Broughton, etc. It was only with the coming of the British American Land Company6 that the British immigration would have relative impact on the settlement of this region. The civil administration, a department of justice and the establishment of the Anglican Church would guarantee the arrival of the middle class. The period 1830-1850 saw mainly the British (English, Irish and, to a lesser extent in this region, the Scots who came to settle in Compton.
The Batchelder family arrived from England around 1831, the Browns in 1842 and the Naylor family near the end of the 1800's (1883). The Cochrane family, of Irish origin, were alread well established in Compton in 1823, also the Cairns family around 1840.
Compton also welcomed a share of ''Home Children''; poor children, orphans or others were sent, between 1869 and 1949, to different British countries. Thanks to charitable organizations, nearly 100,000 children were to have arrived in Canada. A dozen children, all boys, aged between 7 and 17 years, were welcomed in Compton. A certain John Garrisson, landed in Quebec in 1891, was found to be under the protection of Rev. George H. Parker who was the minister of St. James the Less Church in Compton. In ''Souvenirs of Compton'', the write up about Charlie Moss7 notes that he had arrived in Canada around 1898 at 13 years of age. He was considered as a member of the Luce family upon his arrival, and he was also close to the Nichols family. Charlie Moss passed away in 1957 and was buried in the Milby Cemetery.

The Third Wave: The French Canadian Invasion.

It was around the middle of the 1800's that the immigration of French Canadians to Compton took place. In the area of seignorial establishment, the properties which had been subdivided for more than two and a half centuries of occupation, were no longer able to make a decent living for a family. Several families headed in the direction of the Eastern Townships, others headed to the New England states. The labor demand for agricultural workers to work on large farming concerns, day workers were needed for the construction of the railroad and demand for factory workers were also in great demand. The access to the Eastern Townships by the railroad from the 1850's (Sherbrooke in 1852, and Coaticook in 1853) facilitated the population movement.
Historians indicate that around 1850, the beginning of migratory movement began with the French Canadians into the Eastern Townships while ''the exodus of English Canadians into the larger cities, the Canadian West or to the United States began'' 8 . Almost absent before 1850, by 1871, the population of French Canadians became 60% in 1871; in 1901, they accounted for 75% of the population and in 1931, 84%. Around 1885, two Anglican pastors, Parker and Brewer deplore the decline in the members of their community and their replacement by people of another nationalty. In 1903, ''mortality in the parish and the loss of our best farms into the hands of people of another nationaliy goes to show the evidence of rapid decline in our congregation; which, we feel, seriously compromises our future.'' 9
Joseph Bouchette estimated the population in Compton in 1815 to be 700 persons and 1202 in 1830. During the British immigration period (1830-1850), the population of Compton Township doubled in size and counted (in 1861) 3013 persons: a high point for the mid 1800's. For the next 40 years the township demographic growth was almost insignificant, 3016 in 1901. For more that 150 years the population of Compton has leveled off and remains around 3000 persons, particularly in 2016 with 3131 persons.
The majority of French Canadian families who came to Compton, came from the Beauce or neighboring parishes namely the counties of Bellechasse or Dorchester. Word of mouth and correspondence between families and friends from back home led to the promotion of the good lands in Compton and the promise of a better future. ''Until the coming of the twentieth century, French Canadian families arrived at the rate of one or two per year. In 1900 and 1902, 28 and 29 families settled in the Compton parish which brought their number to 162 persons, while the Anglican families went from 35 to 29.'' 11 During his parish visit in the autumn 1916, the Rev. Eugene Saint-Jean listed the families and their origins; of the more than 80 families visited, 50% had moved from the Beauce.
We are no longer in the settlement era; the French Canadians are able to buy land. '' A good property sold on the average for about $5,000 ? Some buyers purchased property between $8,000 and $12,000 for a well equipped farm; among them, people like Dominique Bolduc, Joseph Bureau, Joseph-Philibert Poulin, Jean Rodrigue and Leger Loubier.
Who is not aware of the legend about Leger Loubier carefully counting out $100 dollar bills from a pig's bladder, the $17,000 necessary for the purchase of part of the Cochrane farm in 1908.'' 13
There are still several other aspects of Compton history waiting to be discovered. Continuing on the work of Russell Nicols and the Compton Historical Society, la Societe d'histoire de Compton, intend to pursue and promote the history and heritage of Compton, in the same vein as those who have made Compton what it is today.

Jeammarc Lachance, President

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