Thursday, June 12, 1930


It's a long way back to 1848, when Tavistock was first founded, but we will have to go back a few years more, to 1829, over one hundred years, to when the first survey of the district was made.

In 1832 another survey was made but it was not until the year 1835 that a final survey of what is known as the Huron Tract was made by Mr. C. Carrol.

The first settler in the township of South Easthope, which was named after Lord Easthope, one of the principal directors of the Canada Company, was Sebastian Fryfogle, who located at Lot 14, Concession 1, in 1829. He was induced to move into the Huron Tract by Col. Van Egmond, one of the chief agents of the Canada Company, who wanted to establish three taverns in the newly sruveyed tract of land. The company offered a bonus of $40, $50 and $60 to the three who would start and keep a tavern for six months from the beginning of the year 1830, at certain places designated by the Company. The surveyors of the Canada Company had already erected log cabins for the purpose and Mr. Fryfogle accepted the $200 or $40 and moved into the South Easthope shack, the nearest one to civilization, on Christmas Day 1829. There he stayed until death called him in the year 1873. Fryfogle came from Switzerland.

We find the next settler was a Scotchman, Andrew Riddell, who settled in South Easthope in 1832, on Lot 17. After him came Andrew Helmer, John A. McCarthy and others from the old land.

We find the first school section was formed in 1842 and the first teacher was James Izzard. The section extended from the Wilmot line to Lot 15, the line of division between the Huron Road and Zorra on the south. The first birth in South Easthope was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fryfogle, who later became Mrs. Dietrich.

In 1842 Douglas McTavish located on Lot 32, Concession 8, adjoining the Zorra Townsline. Mr. L. A. McTavish, former manager of the Standard bank, is a great grandson of this pioneer.

The members of the first council of South Easthope were: Andrew Helmer, reeve; councillors, P. A. Sebring, Wm. Cassey, Peter Woods; Alex. Mitchell, clerk; A. Riddell, treasurer; R. Johnston, Jno. Stinson, Wm. McLagan, assessors; Geo. Kalbfleisch, collector; J. H. Reufer and Jas. Woods, auditors. These officials were appointed and took the oath of office at Bell's Corners, now called Shakespeare.

Coming nearer home we find that Sebastopol preceded Tavistock by a few years, the first settler being Mr. Henry Heyrock, who erected the first home in 1845. He was followed by Henry Eckstein who remained in Sebastopol for three years. The place was named Sebastopol in 1852-5 during the Russian war, after the town of that name in the Crimea. Henry Eckstein having heard of the probability of a railway going through about a mile south of Sebastopol decide to locate as near the proposed line as possible and built himself a log building on the corner of what is now known as Woodstock Street and Hope Street intersection, in the year 1848, which he used as a store and a dwelling. He named the place Freiburg, after his home town in Germany. Later, during the Crimean war, the hamlet was re-named Inkerman.

There were only five families in the place previous to the completion of the railway. These were: Chas. Wood, storekeeper; D. H. Carss, hotelkeeper; Robert Reid, general utility man; W. H. Munro, tinsmith, and Henry Eckstein, who kept a tavern in a log building. Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Eckstein, a son Fred and a daughter, who is now Mrs. P. Doer. Fred passed away some time ago but his widow and son are still living in the village.

With the completion of the railway in 1857 Inkerman took deep root and started to grow and many of the inhabitants of Sebastopol moved to the fast growing village. A post office was opened up in the same year and was given the name Tavistock. From that time on more substantial and modern homes and business places were erected. Even before this Eckstein took the lead by starting the erection of a hotel in 1850, which is now known as The Commercial. In later years it was re-built. Its several owners since 1850 have been Henry Eckstein, John Loth, Otto Jung, John Landreth and the present owner, Jacob Meisner.

The next names to come to our notice are those of Henry Schaefer, Antoni Gluecklick, John H. Holmer, Mr. Bellinger, August Bechberger and Duncan Stewart, as some of the first settlers following Eckstein.

In 1868 Mr. John Zimmerman, father of the present Zimmerman Brothers, opened a barrel and stave factory. In 1869 a planing mill and furniture factory was established by Messrs. Kalbfleisch, Schaefer and others. There followed such industries as a broom factory, carriage factory, saw mill, flax mill, also stores, blacksmith, harness shop, tinsmith, and a flour mill established by Geo. Malcolm in 1866. In 1880 a aflour mill on the site now occupied by the present Tavistock Milling Company was established by Messrs. Klein, Kalbfleisch and Paehlman. It was re-organized in 1886 as the Tavistock Milling Company and enlarged to a 125-barrel capacity. This mill was destroyed by fire seven years later, rebuilt and again destroyed by fire. The present finely equipped plant was erected in 1924.

The woollen mill was first established by Mr. preston in 1868, who sold out in 1869 to John Steinman and John Gerhardt. Steinman bought out Gerhardt and then in 1877 sold the business to Field and Hetherington and Field later bought out Hetherington.

Among the established industries of Oxford County, in the village of Tavistock, is that of Zimmerman Bros. limited, one of the largest concerns in this particular line in Western Ontario.

This industry was established in 1868 by the late John Zimmerman, as a stave and heading plant. It was carried on by him until his retirement in 1900 when he transferred the business to his three sons, John, Harry and George. The name was then changed to Zimmerman Bros., and in 1919 it was incorporated as Zimmerman Bros. Limited. In 1906 they purchased the planing mill and box factory of J. Kalbfleisch and entered the box and shook field. This busines has shown a steady growth and at the present time boxes and shooks comprise from eighty-five to ninety per cent of their total output. There are ninety hands employed in theplant today. Butter boxes and other kinds of containers are manufactured and in addition a large quantity of shooks are shipped ready for assembling. The material going into these products is chiefly spruce and pine. The pmat has a daily capacity of some 10,000 boxes requiring in the neighbourhood of 40,000 feet of lumber.

With the fast growth of the village, with its various industries, the chartered financial institutions of the Dominion took cognizance of the fact and in the year 1899 The Standard Bank opened up a branch and seven years later the Traders bank opened up a branch also.

The first medical man was Dr. Preiss, of Hamburg, Germany. He was followed by Dr. Jas. Skirving, Dr. Rankin, Dr. O. G. Neimeier, Dr. Steele, Dr. Campbell, Dr. F. J. Cawthorpe and Dr. McTavish, the latter passing away this spring and is succeeded by Dr. H. M. Taylor. The village has two veterinary surgeons, Dr. P. Herold and Dr. D. Croft.

The hotels flourished in the olden days of the licensed bar and we find the names of "The Commercial," "Union Hotel" and "Royal Hotel" among the earliest. Today we have "The Arlington," "The New Oxford," "The Commercial" and "Bauer's Hotel," the first two being operated as standard hotels, the third as an apartment and the fourth as a residence.


It has been said that where you find civilization you will find a church and from early records it is discovered that as early as 1832 services were conducted among the Germans who followed Fryfogle into the new section.

Trinity Lutheran Church
It is nearly one hundred years ago that worship was first conducted in the district near Sebastopol, but the first authentic statement we may make at this time is that Rev. W. Horn conducted the first service among the Germans in the settlement sometime in the early thirties. In 1856 a church was erected, during the pastorate of Rev. C. Kaessman, at Sebastopol, but we haven't any records at hand to say how long this pastor remained. It was during the pastorate of their beloved pastor, Rev. F. Veit, that the present brick edifice was erected at a cost of some sixteen thousand dollars. This was in 1884, and Mr. Veit remained in charge until the end of 1916, spending nearly half a century in the ministry at this one point. Rev. O. T. Stockman, who had been in North Easthope, took charge in April 1917 and is now the resident pastor. The brick parsonage was erected in 1897.

Presbyterian Church
The advent of the Presbyterian Church dates back to 1878, when Rev. Mr. Fleming, a missionary, was sent to the village to preach and to organize a congregation. At that time there were not more than twelve members and adherents. The following year Rev. Mr. Stewart, of North Easthope, became a stationed minister and the congregation, which had hitherto held services in a hall over a hotel shed, rented the Baptist Church. Later they built a brick church and the congregation this year are celebrating their jubilee. Those who did much towards the success of the early Presbyterian Church are J. G. Field, Dr. Michael Steele and the late A. T. Bell. When the vote on church union was taken in 1925 the majority voted to go into union. The United congregation now have as their pastor Rev. E. W. Edwards, a former Captain in the Canadian forces in the World War.

Baptist Church
Still older than the Presbyterian Church is the Baptist Church, which was organized in 1851 by Rev. Mr. Snider, and services were held in a log building. It is credited with having fifteen members and a few adherents, but with the opening up of the country the congregation increased until in 1868 they erected a brick church and the membership increased to sixty-three. It was rebuilt in 1904 and in 1926 was taken over by the continuing Presbyterians and renamed St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church.

Zion Evangelical Church
Sixty years ago an Evangelical congregation was organized with Rev. C. A. Spies as pastor and a frame church was erected on the site where the present building now stands. They continued to worship in the old church for thirty-four years. In 1904, during the pastorate of Rev. D. Kreh, the present fine brick edifice was erected and dedicated. During the coming re-union the congregation will celebrate its diamond jubilee, when former ministers will assist in the services. The present minister is Rev. W. E. Beese, who succeeded Rev. H. A. Kellerman, who was in pastoral chrage from May, 1925. The present fine parsonage was erected in 1916.

Tavistock Lutheran Church
The Tavistock Lutheran Church was organized on July 31, 1881, with Rev. L. Becker as pastor. On May 21st, 1882, the corner stone was laid and dedication took place on December 10th that year. The name of the church at that time was the United Evangelical Church and the congregation was under the Reformed-Lutheran body. On November 6th, 1882, connections were severed and pastor Kaiser of Wartburg, under the Missouri Synod, came to serve the congregation. In 1886 Christoph Merkel came as the first resident minister. He was followed by Pastor Doehler, November 1st, 1889; Pastor Schulte, December 22, 1895; Pastor Leopold Wahl, 1897; Pastor Rudolph Eifert, 1907; Pastor A. Puscheck, 1925, and the present pastor, H. Erdman, who was installed on November 10, 1929. The parsonage was built in 1888, and in 1903 a balcony was put in the church to accommodate the increasing congregation.

Tavistock School
It is learned from one source and another that in the days prior to 1880 the scholars from this section went to school at Sebastopol. Along the early part of the eighties a public school was erected in the village with Val. Stock as one of the first teachers. In 1916 a two-room addition was added to the north side. Previous to this a room in the basement had been fitted up for a classroom. The teachers in 1916 were Misses J. F. Lawrence, principal; Jessie Bell, assistant; Mary McDonald, Helen Ward, Constance Hutchison and Winnie McTavish.

The Gazette
The Gazette was established in 1895 by J. W. Green, and since then its several owners have been F. H. Leslie, N. E. Dopp, W. Appel, L. W. Appel and G. K. Brown. Independent in politics, it has sought to keep abreast of the times by installing modern equipment and endeavouring to be of service to its community.

Tavistock Incorporated 1909
In the year 1909 Tavistock was incorporated as a separate municipality. The vote was taken in January and the first meeting of the town council was on Monday, February 15th, with the following in office: Reeve, Henry Vogt; Councillors, John Zimmerman, Henry Schlemmer, John Roth, David Rudy, Clerk J. G. Field. Mr. Field continued as clerk until 1915.

The waterworks by-law carried in 1911 and the first test of the mains was made in November that year. Tavistock has one of the best domestic water supplies in Ontario, pure spring water being piped from a natural spring a raised to a steel tank by electric operated pumps. Hydrants are placed at convenient spot and the village has a fire brigade and auto fire truck which provides ample fire protection.

The hydro enabling by-law was carried with a big majority and in 1916 the Ontario Hydro Commission came in with their lines and poles to meet the demand for power. Previous to this the village had been supplied with electricity for lighting purposes from Field's woollen mill. Tavistock is so favourably situated that the municipality enjoys the same low rates as larger places for their power. The power from Niagara was first turned on here on Thursday evening, October 26th, 1916, at 6:15 o'clock exactly. Reeve W. Appel pulled the switch that connected up the seventy-five street lights to the cheering of citizens and a tin pan band made up by the youths of the village, who afterward paraded the newly lighted streets.

The corner stone of the Carnegie Public Library was laid in 1916 and is one of the most modern of its kind to be found in many places much larger than Tavistock. It has 6000 volumes. On the ground floor is an assembly hall, board room, vault and lavatories. The various boards of the Municipality hold their meetings there and entertainments, special gatherings, etc., are held in the assembly hall.

The Arena
Tavistock Arena was erected in 1923 and officially opened on January 18th, 1924. The contractors were Messrs. Zimmerman Brothers, Tavistock, and the construction work was sublet to Conrad Forler, of Phillipsburg. The building is 200 x 85 with an ice surface of 175 x 75. Stock in the building was purchased by public spirited citizens and also by the Agricultural Society. Much of the labor was gratis work. The village may justly feel proud of possessing such a fine building for the use of its citizens for amusement, entertainment, pleasure and education.

Another resident thaht connects up with the early days of Tavistock is W. S. Russell, who came to the 11th Line of East Zorra in 1849, when but six years of age. He was born in Quebec, at the historic spot of Jasques Cartier. At the age of sixteen he learned the shoemaking in the stand where A. Miller is now located, on Woodstock Street, his boss being Anthony Gluecklick. of a roving disposition in those days, Mr. Russell worked in Stratford, Conroy's Corners, Brantford, St. Catharines, Medina, Detroit, and as far west as Chicago. Six or seven dollars a week was good pay then. Coming back to Tavistock in 1874 he started a shoe store on the west side of Mogk street and later moved to the corner property at Woodstock Street. In August 1889 he was appointed secretary-treasurer of the South Easthope Farmers' Mutual Fire Insurance Co., and as his duties increased with the growth of this Company he sold out the shoe business to Mr. Quehl, and he in turn disposed of the business to Hugh Hotson. Of a family of thirteen children, seven of whom are stil living, Mr. Russell celebrated his 86th birthday last December. He has three sons, Fred, a newspaper man, in Davenport, Iowa; Robert, an engineer, in Winnipeg, and Charles, a despatcher for the C.P.R. at Brandon, Man.

Going back to the early days of the opening up of this section some mention should be made of Mr. Henry Rausch, who came here at the age of seven years and on July 2nd will celebrate his 93rd birthday. Coming with his parents from Germany, they left home on the 15th of March, 1844, landing at New York on arrival to America. They travelled by steamboat from New York to Albany, by canal boat from Albany to Rochester, and by steamboat from there to Hamilton, where they were met by Conrad Schaefer who drove them to Petersburg by team. They remained in Petersburg three weeks and then came on to Henry Wettlaufer's, south of Shakespeare, before finally locating on the west side of the 14th Line, East Zorra, at the boundary. Mr. Rausch tells us that there were no inhabitants in what is now known as Tavistock. There was nothing but bush and swampy lands here with a corduroy road running through from the north. Hy. Hansuld was their nearest neighbor (they had located some time before this) and Hy. Schaefer was the next nearest neighbor, who lived on the property now occupied by Gordon Ratz, formerly owned by Adam Mohr.

Mr. Rausch remembers the coming of Henry Eckstein in the following year, when he erected a log building on the corner now occupied by the jeweller. Mr. Eckstein was a captain in the Prussian army, and it is a matter of record that it was his custom on the 24th of May to get out his regalia, dress up, and parade the streets, much to the delight of the youngsters and the pride of his friends. Many of the old boys and girls in Eckstein's time, now men and women, remember and often speak of this event.

Henry Rausch went to school in Sebastopol and was taught by Mr. Greenawaldt in a log building. He also attended the Lutheran Mission in Sebastopol and was confirmed at the age of fourteen years, in 1851, the minister at that time being the Rev. Karl Aldenkirch. He remained at home for the next three years, helping on the farm. Being handy with the carpenter tools he went to New Dundee, St. Jacobs, Berlin and other places, working as a carpenter, but returned to Tavistock in 1864 and has lived here ever since, plying his trade as a painter and carpenter.
There were no railroads in the early days and groceries had to be brought in from New Hamburg and flour had to be procured from Galt, teams being mostly used for the purpose. Bears, wolves and deer roamed the forests in the immediate vicinity and one never felt safe alone on a trip, or out at night.

Many buildings in the village have been erected by Mr. Rausch and he lent assistance in the development of Tavistock, socially and commercially, contributing liberally to all worthy enterprises.

Tavistock has a wide-awake and progressive Horticultural Society which has done much to beautify the village and is still doing it. Its members take a pride in beautifying their own places as well as assisting in putting out public flower beds.

The Women's Institute is another live organization in the municipality, who have the welfare of the community at heart. Last year they erected the beautiful gates at the entrance to Queen's Park.

The Agricultural Society is another old institution in the village and was started back in the 70's. The men who kept it alive were the Late Fred Krug, Conrad Wilker and J. G. Field. These three men gave their personal notes when the present grounds were purchased and stayed with the organization until the debt was cleared off. W. S. Russell was the secretary and J. G. Field the president. Before the park grounds were purchased the annual fair was held wherever available farm grounds could be had. The Society has a membership of two hundred now and has an excellent prize list and an exhibition that would do credit to places of much larger size.

The South Easthope Mutual Fire Insurance Company was organized in 1871 and has made rapid strides and today is one of the largest of its kind in the province. The head office is in Tavistock.