John and Mary Cleaver emigrated 350 miles by wagon from Catawissa, Pennsylvania in 1805 with four daughters and 5 year old James. They settled first in Aurora, north of York, before drawing a lot on the north-east corner of Dundas Highway and Walker’s Line in 1806. John and son James farmed the 200 acre lot and manufactured oak staves and potash barrels which were rafted down to Montreal. John and Mary Cleaver died in 1838 and were buried in the Presbyterian cemetery in Hannahsville (Nelson Village).
James became a Provincial Land Surveyor in 1834 and purchased 150 acres along 12 Mile Creek from William Chisolm, in what is now Lowville. By 1837, James had constructed a gristmill. He also built a fieldstone house on high ground in the forest west of Guelph Line.
The ruins of the Cleaver house are adjacent to the “River and Ruin” loop off the Bruce Trail, west of the millpond in Lowville.
Squire Cleaver fathered a total of 18 children by two wives: Angelina De Mond, seven children and Jane Watson, eleven children; all born in the Cleaver house. One of his sons became the famous preacher and writer Reverend Solomon Cleaver who wrote Jean Valjean. Another was Ellis Cleaver, prominent Burlington lawyer and businessman who served as Mayor and Federal MP under two Prime Ministers. James Cleaver died March 30, 1890 and was buried in Lowville’s Wesleyan Church Cemetery.
Squire Cleaver’s Will left extensive properties (5,720 acres) in Tuscola County, Michigan, to his eight remaining sons. Proceeds from the sale of his Canadian property were left to his daughters. The house was purchased in 1895 by Richard Armstrong and owned by a succession of families over the ensuing years.
Definition of Stave. One of a number of narrow strips of wood, or narrow iron plates, placed edge to edge to form the sides, covering, or lining of a vessel or structure; especially, one of the strips which form the sides of a cask, a pail, etc.
From Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia:
Solomon Cleaver (1855–1939) was a Winnipeg minister and storyteller best known for his adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, published in 1935 as Jean Val Jean. Cleaver was a well-known orator; and actor Raymond Massey is said to have practiced Cleaver’s sermons as a child.
A full family history will follow in the near future.
Contributing Author: Lowville Community Calendar Committee