Waterloo Region Generations
A record of the people of Waterloo Region, Ontario.

John Bristow[1]
Male 1801 - Yes, date unknown

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  • Birth  1801  Shipley, Sussex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 3, 4
    Gender  Male 
    Occupation  1851  Woolwich Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Religion  1851  Woolwich Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Church of England 
    Occupation  1861  Woolwich Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    Religion  1861  Woolwich Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    Eby ID Number  Waterloo-114786 
    Died  Yes, date unknown 
    Person ID  I114786  Generations
    Last Modified  13 Apr 2017 

    Father  Thomas Bristow,   b. CA 1780, of, Horsham, , Sussex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Family ID  F41229  Group Sheet

  • Notes 
    • A question about Edward Bristow of Elmira, Waterloo County, Ontario Elmira, May 11, 2005

      Dear Roger Miller,
      My name is Tim Weber and I have a question concerning Elmira's history. I have been doing research at the Elmira Library for a school project. The project is concerning the founding of Elmira so I naturally started researching Edward Bristow. It seems a common belief that he came from Britain and bought the land of Elmira from William Wallace for one dollar an acre in 1834. He then opened many businesses and later became the first postmaster. My problem is that when I looked in the cemetery records for the area to see where he was buried, I could only find one Edward Bristow, but he was born in 1834. I then looked at the census for Elmira in 1881 and the only Edward Bristow was 47, which would mean he was born in 1834. This Edward had also come from Britain. The Librarian suggested that I contact you. I would really appreciate it if you could clear this up for me. Thank you very much.

      Conestogo, May 13, 2005

      Dear Tim:
      I will share with you what I know about Edward Bristow. Most of what I know comes from the many "histories" of Elmira written by such people as George Klinck, Frank D. Bristow and William V. Uttley and from the many "histories" written for the Old Boys & Girls Reunion books and centennial celebrations. I have also tracked down some of his descendants and talked with them. I have also researched local and foreign records for information. I believe there is a good kernel of truth in each of the "histories" but many of the facts have become confused over time. Here is how I have unraveled them.

      Edward Bristow was born in Shipley, Sussex, England to Thomas and Mary Rapley Bristow on March 2, 1807. On July 31, 1827, at Shipley, he married Hannah Streeter who was born on June 13, 1808 in Shipley, and who was the daughter of William and Elizabeth Laker Streeter. He had attended school and could read and write and worked mostly as a laborer. He rented his house from the Earl of Egremont, whose mansion was known as Petworth House in Sussex, England. In the 1830s life became very difficult for many families in England as the Industrial Revolution was changing the way people worked and many were unemployed as machines took over their jobs. As many of the parishes had numerous unemployed people living on what we would call "charity", there was some pressure on the landowners to either create jobs for the unemployed or get them off their land. In 1830, the Earl of Egremont, who was a half decent landlord, had a project proposed to him by the minister of his parish church. This project was to assist the families to immigrate to another country where land and work were more readily available. This idea became what is now known as the Petworth Immigration Project.

      Edward and Hannah applied for assisted travel to Canada, and in the early summer of 1832 they set sail for Canada with their destination being Toronto, Ontario. With Edward and Hannah were their children Fanny b. 1827 and Edward Jr. b. 1830. A third child, Hannah b. 1832, may have come over with them but does not show in any records here in Canada. After arriving in Toronto in the late summer of 1832, Edward found out about a man named David Musselman, of Musselman's Mills [now known as Conestogo] who was looking for laborers for his mills. They moved on from Toronto to Musselman's Mills and rented a house from David Musselman while Edward worked in one of the mills.

      David Musselman owned a lot of property, which he had bought, from William Wallace and the German Company Tract in the early 1800s. One of those properties was Lot 88 of the German Company Tract. By 1832 there was no one living on it but there were some earlier immigrant Irish, English and Scottish families living nearby. Edward Bristow arranged to buy about 53 acres of Lot 88 from Mr. Musselman. He built a log house on his property in 1833 and moved there while still working for Mr. Musselman to help pay for the property. He walked or rode a horse to Musselman's Mills every working day till he had enough land cleared to make a go of it on his farm. Edward's farm boundaries [using today's roads] were, starting at the corner of Arthur Street and South Street, south to First Street, west on First Street to about Bluebird, north on Bluebird to where South Street would be extended on the old Fair Grounds, and East along South Street to the corner of Arthur and South. His first log home was on the south side of South Street about halfway along the block from Arthur Street. There used to be a free flowing spring about that location and I believe he chose that site because he could easily get water.

      Edward was not a true farmer; he was more of a businessman. He cleared enough land to keep some animals and feed his family but he started many businesses to help the local farmers and laborers. One of his first businesses was a potashery. He would collect the ash from the burned forests as farmers and others cleared their lands and would sell it back to them and others as fertilizer. He built a small frame store on the south side of Church Street West near the corner of Arthur. There his wife, Hannah, ran a store, selling goods to the local settlers. He ran a stage line, using a large wagon capable of carrying people and freight, from Conestogo/St Jacobs to Glen Allan, north and west of Elmira, in Peel Township. He also carried mail to and from these communities on his stage line. For a time in the early 1850s he hired a blacksmith, Henry Christman, to work for him. Because of his store near the crossroads at Arthur and Church, the hamlet became known as Bristow's Corners. In the later 1840s Edward built a new dwelling nearer Arthur Street [the location of today's Bristow's Inn]. Part of his dwelling was used as a Tavern [The Troy Tavern] where many locals met and discussed local issues. The Woolwich Township Council would sometimes meet there and the local magistrates would hold court there. The original Troy Tavern is part of the Bristow's Inn. In 1849 an official post office was established in Bristow's Corners. It seems the Post Office people did not like to use the local name for their post offices unless it was a chartered community. They named the post office West Woolwich [Woolwich was the name of the first official post office in Woolwich Township. It was located in the hamlet of Winterbourne]. In 1853 Elmira was the name given to the then village of Bristow's Corners/West Woolwich. It seems that the local people wanted an official, locally chosen name for their village now that they had enough population to be called a village. Samuel Weaver, a village businessman and Township councilor, suggested the name Elmira, after he had visited Elmira, New York on business.

      In 1854 Wallace Township in Perth County was opened up for serious settlement. To encourage settlement the County offered land there for $1 per acre [I believe this is where the land for $1 an acre comes from in the early histories of Elmira]. Edward and Hannah Bristow now had a large family. Those born in Canada were: John b. 1833, Sarah b. 1834, Ann b. 1836, Walter b. 1839, Mary Jane b. 1840, Allan b. 1843, William b. 1846, and Elizabeth b. 1849. Sarah married James Eisenhouer in 1852 at Berlin. By 1854 Fanny was married to Henry William Peterson, and the rest of the children were still at home. Land was expensive around Elmira and there was more competition for jobs as new immigrants were arriving in the area everyday. The land deal in Wallace Township was a good one and Edward bought several hundred acres there. He built a house, dammed a creek and built a sawmill, and opened a small general store. He named this new community Shipley, after his birthplace. He helped found the local school. In 1857 he resigned his office as postmaster in Elmira and opened the first official post office in Shipley in 1858. This post office was known as Shipley.

      Edward Jr. married Nancy Eliza Allison in 1858 at Wallace. John Henry married Eliza Brackett in 1866 at La Crosse, Wisconsin. Ann married Joseph Rogers in 1856 at Wallace. Walter married Margaret Harris in 1864 at Wallace. Mary Jane married Abel M. Allison in 1860 at Wallace. Allan married Hannah C. Andrew in 1868 at Wallace. William married Amanda Harris in 1867 at Wallace. Elizabeth was unmarried at the time when she disappears from local records.

      Hannah Streeter Bristow died in 1873 in Wallace and is buried in the old Baptist Cemetery in Howick Township, Huron County, near Shipley. Many of the children were married from that old church which is now long gone. Edward Bristow died in 1884 in Elmira while on a visit to his relations who still lived in the area. [Edward's brother John had married Hannah Streeter's sister, Sarah. John and Sarah came over with their family on the Petworth Project in 1835.] The Edward Bristow that you found in the 1881 census and who was buried in the Elmira Union Cemetery was the son of Edward's brother John Bristow and his wife Sarah Streeter. The Streeter sister's brother, George Streeter, came over in 1832 with Edward and Hannah Bristow. He apprenticed to Michael Eisenhouer, a blacksmith/bellsmith from St. Jacobs and later Elmira. George married Michael and Marilla Knickerbocker Eisenhouer's daughter, Susan Eisenhouer, in 1838 and bought the 50 acre farm just north of Edward's farm.] Edward was buried with his wife in the Baptist Cemetery in Howick Township.

      Today the Bristow descendants are spread all across North America. Most of the children and their families went west in Canada in the early 1900s and settled in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The ones who went to the United States in the late mid 1880s settled in Michigan, the mid-western states and on to California and Texas. Many of the Streeter descendants went mostly to the mid-western United States in the mid 1800s.

      I hope this helps you in your project and gives you an understanding of some of Elmira's early history.

      Roger Miller
      Archivist/Historian, Woolwich Historical Foundation

  • Sources 
    1. [S6] John B. Schlichter aged 28 of Waterloo Twp. born Waterloo Twp son of John Schlichter and Elizabeth Bechtel married 12 Sep 1860 to Hannah Bristow aged 22 res Woolwich Twp. born Woolwich Twp daughter of John Bristow and Sarah Striter.

    2. [S130] Div. 2 Page 40.

    3. [S141] Div. 4, Pg. 97.

    4. [S915] Township of Woolwich 1861 Div. 4 Page 43.

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBirth - 1801 - Shipley, Sussex, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsOccupation - Farmer - 1851 - Woolwich Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsReligion - Church of England - 1851 - Woolwich Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsOccupation - Farmer - 1861 - Woolwich Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsReligion - Evangelical - 1861 - Woolwich Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Link to Google Earth
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