Alexander Duncan Taylor and Carrie Dewhirst Taylor
Alexander Duncan son of Alexander married Carrie Dewhirst on June 13, 1898 and they took over the farm, remaining there until 1910 when it was sold to the Mousseau family. Grace Christie Joyce was raised by her grandparents because her mother had died shortly after her birth. She often heard stories of farm llfe in the 1890's from her grandparents and was given a scraptbook that her grandmother kept over her married life.
Alexander Duncan increased the farm acreage by buying 50 acres adjoining the home farm on the south side. He immediately bought extra clover seed to seed it down. This was probably red clover as sweet clover was regarded as a weed at the time. Farming then was different from now. The main crops were hay, wheat, oats, corn and some mangolds, for the cows. There was not nearly as much corn grown then as it required too much hand labour. Corn was cut with a sickle. Two stalks or hills were left standing and their tops twisted together. Then armfuls of corn were cut and stood against this framework. When the shock was large enough, corn stalks were used to tie it around the middle. After the corn had dried, it was husked by hand and put into a wagon to be taken to the corn crib. The stalks were re-shocked into large shocks and later taken to the barn for cattle feed. Very little of the grain grown on the farm was sold as a cash crop. It was fed to the live stock. Grandpa kept horses, six or eight cows and some pigs and Grandma had chickens and geese. There was always a garden to supply vegetables and fruit was home grown too. There were several varieties of apple trees, pears, plums, grapes, red currants, black currants and gooseberries. There was also one peach tree. Wild thimbleberries grew along the east line fence. For winter use, apples potatoes and mangolds for the cows were stored in a room in the barn, under the hay mow and next to the cow stable. There seemed to have been several small buildings in the door yard. As well as the old kitchen, there was a milk house, an ice house, a smoke house, and even the potash kettle wa partly covered. It had a roof over it and three sides. In the winter farmers took their teams and sleighs to Belle River and cut blocks of ice. These were brought home and packed in sawdust in the ice house. When a pig was butchered, it was scalded in the potash kettle. Some meat was put in brine in barrels. Some was hung in the smoke house. This was a hollow tree trunk with a lid on top and the smoke was produced by burning hickory wood and corn cobs. The potash kettle was also used in making soft soap. The ashes from the living room stove were carefully saved in another hollow tree trunk which had a solid bottom. In the spring, water was poured over the ashes and the lye leached out at the bottom into a kettle. This lye along with the fats that had been saved were used to make soap. This soap was stored in a barrel in the old kitchen, and, on washday, a long handled dipper was used to scoop up the required amount.
Carrie Dewhirst Taylor often said that they had a good living on the farm. There was plenty of food but cash was scarce. At one time they sold a good four year old horse for $50.00. A big fat hen would bring 25 cents. Every three weeks Alexander Duncan went to market in Windsor with butter and eggs. Some of the butter was put up in pound prints, using a wooden mold but most of it was packed in crocks. One customer regularly took ten pounds in a crock. One spring a customer asked if he would come oftener in the warmer weather. The answer was no. He assured her that any butter that did not keep properly would be replaced.
It was a long trip to Windsor when driving a team of horses and a democrat. The democrat was a sort of forerunner to the modern van. It was a light wagon with seats on it and room for cargo behind. For most families a buggy did not hold enough people, so the democrat was used for taking the family to church. When more cargo room was needed, the second seat could be removed. Alexander Duncan also had some sort of cover to put over his load when he was going to market.
In the spring of 1925 when my Alexander Duncan and Carrie Taylor were returning home from visiting a son and other relatives in California, they were travelling by train through Oregon. A couple of Americans were asking them questions about Canada. One of them asked, "Do you have any Democrats and Republicans in Canada?" Grandfather's reply was, "We don't have any Republicans but I wore out three democrats going to the market."
One cold frosty morning, Alexander Duncan arrived at market and joined the men who were warming themselves around the stove. One of the men asked him if he had seen a flock of sheep on the way in. He had seen them; so the man asked where they were. When Grandfather told him, he said he must go out to meet them, as the dogs did not know which way to go when they reached the horseshoe, which was where Howard Avenue divides into Aylmer and Glengary Streets.
Inside the house things were different too. Most of the floors were bare wood or painted. Homemade mats were used. Some were braided; others were woven. The housewife never wasted wornout clothing. Heavier cloth, such as used in men's pants, was cut into strips and braided for mats. Cotton cloth was also cut into strips, but narrower, and the ends were sewn together and wound into balls. When enough balls of carpet rags were accumulated, they were taken to the weaver. There was wall to wall carpet in the living room. This was made by sewing lengths of rag carpet together. The underpadding was newpapers and the carpet was held down with carpet tacks.
Heating equipment usually consisted of two wood stoves, a cook stove in the kitchen and a heating stove in the sitting room or parlour. Because of the dust from the ashes, there was also sweeping and dusting to be done. The usual cleaning equipment was broom and dustpan and sometimes a carpet cleaner. A goose wing was handy for dusting the stairs. The tip could get into the corners. None of these were as efficient as a vacuum cleaner. Whlle heavier particles of dust were picked up, the finer particles were merely re-arranged. Spring cleaning was a necessity. The carpet would be taken up, draped over a clothesline and beaten with a carpet beater. The old newspapers would be burned. The floor would be scrubbed and fresh newspapers put down and then the carpet would be relaid.
Another spring cleaning job was taking down the stove pipes. They were taken out into the yard and the soot tapped out. Some houses had a cistern and cistern pump in the kitchen to provide water for washing. Drinking water was usually carried in in pails. The kitchen stove had a reservoir on one side, and this, along with the tea kettle, provided hot water. Quilts were made from pieces of cloth left over from other sewing. Perhaps they were not as beautiful as some that are made now, but they were very practical. My grandmother spun enough yarn to make a pair of blankets. When the blankets wore thin in the middle, she dyed one red and the other blue. From the best parts she cut quilt blocks, about six inches square. The quilt was lined with a dark striped flannelette. Mattreses on the beds were not spring filled. Perhaps the most comfortable was a goose feather and down filled tick. Children often slept on ticks filled with straw or corn husks. After threshing time, the straw tick would be taken outdoors and emptied. Then it would be washed and filled with clean straw.
The children attended S.S. #4, Maidstone on the Malden Road. Grandfather was a member of the School Board for many years. At one time there were 85 pupils registered, but the average attendance was much less, as children were frequently kept out of school to do farm work. Very few went to High School at that time. It was too far to walk to Essex. It was possible to ride a bicycle in suitable weather or use a horse and buggy. About the only alternative was to board in Essex. The children used slates and slate pencils. Each one had his own bottle of water and rag for cleaning the slate. In the winter the water would freeze, then the bottle would be put on the stove to thaw the water. If left long enough, the steam would pop the cork and it would hit the ceiling. On one occasion, some boys caught some of Ezra London's sheep and put them in the schoolhouse. One day Charlie Woltz was going past the schoolhouse with his team and sleigh. The boys and girls decided to hitch a ride. A little farther down the road the king bolt came out and the load of children was dumped into the ditch. A neighbour saw this happen. Never again were they allowed to hitch rides on sleighs.
Story taken from presentation given by Grace Christie Joyce for Heritage Week in 1988.
British Home Children - Herbert and Noah Wheatley
In the 1890's Alexander Duncan and Carrie Taylor too in two boys, Herbert and Noah Wheatley, from the Dr. Barnardo Home in England. These British Home Children were sent out to farms to help with the chores and other work until they turned 18 . Herbert Wheatley came to Canada when he was 13 years old arriving in 1890 on the S.S. Circassian from Liverpool 19 June 1890 arriving in Quebec 30 June 1890. Grace Joyce had the small wooden box given to the Barnardo children for their possessions which had belonged to Herbert. After many years of searching she was finally able to return it to his family who were living in British Columbia. Noah Wheatley went to Oakland, California and when Alexander Duncan Taylor and Carrie Dewhirst Taylor visited him in 1925 he owned a cookie bakery. He told them that if he had two or three more good years, he would have more money than he knew what to do wit
In 1925 Alexander and Grace took a trip to California and v isited Noah in Oakland where he owned a cookie factory. He told them "that if he had two or three more good years, h e would have more money than he knew what to do with."
In 2002 an article was written by the present owners of th e very large corporation who now owns "Mother's Cookies "--
"For nearly two decades N.M. Wheatley (who didn't care for his name of Noah and pronounced his middle name "Mike " although his French mother spelled it Mique, worked hard as a hometown and foreign newspaper vendor at the corner or San Francisco's Market and Kearny streets.
In 1914, he became curious about an elderly couple who passed by his newstand every day carrying a covered basket filled with delicious home-baked vanilla cookies they sold door-to-door . After trying one, Mique decided on the spot to purchase the rights to the recipe.
The taste of that vanilla cookie changed his life! Mique decided to invest in something mor e permanent than a corner cart. San Francisco's 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires influenced Mique to locate his business across the Bay at a small, one man plant on 12th Avenue in Oakland he toiled all night baking cookies in a three square foot oven with a nightly capacity of about 2000 cookies or 150 boxes. These sold for $1.00 a box and his vanilla cookie s were an overnight success.
Needing help, Mique hired a young woman to help him, and romance flourished in the small bakery. Mique married his new assistant, Leopoldine, and together they ran the company until their son, Floyd, was old enough to take over . In the early days, cookies were delivered in a wagon pulled by Mique's rented horse, Vanilla. Later, Model T Ford's outdistanced Vanilla. b 1922 the bakery needed more space, and the company moved to East 18th Street - a gambl e so large that Mique was forced to sell his house and even the piano to pay for it!
In 1949 the company experienced more growing pains, and the bakers moved one final time to 81081st Avenue in Oakland, where the headquarters and bakery remains to this day . Thanks to Mique and Floyd, Mother's is a fixture in Oakland and in many other towns, employing over 750 people across 14 western states. Alaska, and Hawaii and importing and distributing biscuits from Europe. We salute Mique Wheatley, who went from selling news to making news.
And the rest, as they say, is history!"