Niagara Pioneer Families

In August of 1780, James Secord, Sampson Lutes, Michael Showers and Isaac Dolson moved to the west bank of the Niagara River and settled on lands the British had acquired from the Mississauga Native Americans.

Other families who soon followed were the Fields, Depues and the Phelps.
In 1782, the initial settlers to Niagara Falls were Phillip Bender along with his wife and three children, as well as Thomas McMicken along with his mother, sister and two children.

In 1783, eight more families settled along the west bank. They included John Reilly, John Coon, Peter Thompson, John Burtch, James Forsyth, John Chisholm, Francis Ellesworth and Thomas Millard.

In 1785, other early settlers included James Park, John McGill, Archibald Thompson, James Thompson, John Thompson, Benjamin Canby, Thomas Cummings, Adam Kreisler, John McEwan, David Secord, Robert Hamilton, Timothy Skinner, Adam Vrooman, Charles and John Wilson. They were followed by the Lundy, Cook, Durham, Biggar, Ramsay, Pugh, Rowe, Tice, Rose and Corwin families.

The first official census was conducted in August of 1782 by Colonel John Butler. There were sixteen farmers/settlers and their families. The Bender’s and the MicMicken’s had settled in Township #2, later called Mount Dorchester and then Stamford.

In 1779, Michael Gonder and his son are believed to be the first settlers in Willoughby Township.

In 1778, Peter and Henry Buchner were the first to settle in Crowland Township. The first settler in Chippawa was Thomas Cummings.

One of the first settlers to locate on land upstream of the Falls was John Burtch. Burtch had served the British as the keeper of the stores at Fort Niagara from 1779 to 1783. He was rewarded for his loyal service with a tract of land along the shore of the Niagara River from Chippawa Creek to the Upper Rapids. When Fort Chippawa was built, the military took over Burtch’s plantation. Burtch was given more land but it was not in Niagara. Burtch died in 1797 and became the first person buried in Drummond Hill Cemetery.

Francis Ellesworth had built the closest house to the Falls. It was located just above the Table Rock on the top of the moraine. Ellesworth later sold his house to Charles Wilson who would establish Wilson’s Tavern.

In 1800, Queenston, then known as Queens Town, had a development of 20 or 30 houses and by 1807, the settlement grew to 100 houses.

In 1807, the new settlement of Lewiston, then known as Lewis Town, had grown to include approximately 12 houses.

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