from 1825 to 1902 by William Johnston, St. Marys
Stratford: Printed by W. M. O'Beirne, at the Beacon office. 1903


While this township has excellent trading faciltities, there are no places of importance within its limits. On the boundary lines are several points where large populations are centred. On its north-west corner is a portion of Stratford. Seven miles south-east is Tavistock. Three miles north of the latter point is Shakespeare. Sebastopol lies wholly in South Easthope, about one-half mile north of Tavistock. The village was founded at an early day by Mr. Henry Heyrock, who was its first settler, and built its first house. In 1845 Mr. Henry Eckstein came to Sebastopol, also remaining in the village. The hamlet was named by its citizens during the Russian War of 1852-5, to commemorate that long and never-to-be-forgotten siege by the allied armies of a town of that name in the Crimea. It is now a pleasant country village, though its greatness has been to some extent overshadowed by Tavistock, to which it now forms a suburb. There is a very fine church and parsonage here, with several business places, supplying goods to a fine agricultural country surrounding it.

Tavistock is an important village containing a population of about 1,000, and has a number of fine stores and large manufacturing establishments. This place was founded by Mr. Henry Eckstein in 1848. Having removed from Sebastopol, where he had settled in 1845, he erected a house on what is now the triangle formed by Hope and Woodstock streets and the G. T. Railroad, using it for a store. Mr. Eckstein named his new village Frieburg, in honour of his birthplace in Germany. During the Crimean War the citizens of Freiburg were so interested in that struggle on the terrible field of Inkerman, that it was renamed in honour of that place. Under this historical appellation, it continued to flourish until the B. & L. H. R. was built and a post office opened in 1857. At this period its name was again changed, to Tavistock, in honor of a town of that name in England.

In 1850, Mr. Eckstein erected a brick hotel on a site opposite his former building, which has since been rebuilt, and is one of several excellent hotels in this village. Where this building now stands was a great bog, and it was not till large quantities of solid material was swallowed up in quick sand that a foundation of timbers could be laid in order to support the present fine structure. Henry Schaefer, in 1848, built another dwelling on Hope street. A third settler was Antoni Gluecklick. Other small tradesmen, who seem to have belonged as much to an agricultural community as either the plough or harrow, became settlers. John M. Holmer opened a blacksmith's shop. Mr. August Bechberger and Duncan Stewart were also early settlers. Mr. Bellinger was first harnessmaker.

Progress was slow until railway construction was completed and a station erected in Tavistock. This at once crippled Sebastopol by centralizing trade at the point of shipment. It was only a few years, therefore, subsequent to these events when a number of large brick blocks were erected. Good streets and sidewalks now extend in all directions, radiating to its residential parts. There are three general stores here, some of which would do credit to larger places, one hardware store, two tin shops, three confectioners, two jeweleries, a drug store, bakeries, groceries, boot and shoe store, three hotels.

Two medical doctors are located here, Dr. Michael Steele and Dr. O. G. Niemeier. Dr. Preiss, of Hamburg, Germany, was first physician, deceased many years ago. On September 26th, 1895, was issued the Gazette, printed by Mr. J. W. Green, editor and proprietor. In May, 1900, this sheet became the property of Mr. F. H. Leslie, who conducts it as an independent paper. Its present editor endeavours to maintain its character as a good local organ rather than making it a conduit of party politics. This ambitious village has a good electric light system, well supported by its citizens. In a place such as Tavistock this certainly indicates a progressive spirit animating all classes. There is also a telegraph and express office, an excellent public hall, where meetings are held. To accommodate the business men a branch of the Western Bank has been opened, and doing a large business. As in all Canadian towns, benevolent societies are well represented, and are no doubt doing a good work to those who patronize them.

If progress in commerce has been marked, in manufacturing departments it is equally apparent. In 1869, a planing mill and furniture factory was established, employing three hands, of which the proprietors, Messrs. Kalbfleisch and Schaefer, were two. This branch of industry, under careful management, has been quite successful, employing about thirty hands, and occupying a large three-story brick and ironclad building. A saleroom is opened from which goods are sent to every part of Canada. A saw mill is run in connection with this establishment, and great quantities of butter and cheese boxes are supplied to creameries and cheese factories in the surrounding country. In connection with the furniture department, undertaking is also carried on. To meet the demands of an increasing trade, extensions are being made, which will enable the firm to employ a still larger number of hands. In 1885, the original partnership was dissolved, and operations are now carried on by Mr. John Kalbfleisch, as sole proprietor. Mr. Schaefer subsequently opened another planing mill, which he operated for many years. This mill is still running, although it has passed into other hands.

In 1877, a woollen mill was established by Mr. J. G. Field, employing four hands. Mr. Field has succeeded in building up a large trade in manufacturing woollen goods of all kinds which are shipped to every corner of our country. In this factory a number of people are now employed, a substantial brick, and other buildings have been erected to accommodate the trade. The machinery here is oeprated by a 115-horse power engine, which is also used as motive power on the dynamos supplying electric light to the village.

In 1868, a barrel and stave factory was established by Mr. John Zimmerman, employing seven hands. This business was successful for many years, and is still carried on. Timber has now become so scarce in the surrounding country as to cripple industries of this description. It can be only a few years when a removal will have to take place, not from a want of business, but from exhaustion of the raw material which can no longer be obtained in the vicinity.

Its other manufacturing industries are a broom factory, a cider mill, two carriage factories, and a flax mill.

In 1886 was organized the Tavistock Milling Company, when a mill was erected with a capacity of 125 barrels. During 1893 the property was destroyed by fire. The company at once set to work to rebuild, and constructed, perhaps, the largest building for milling purposes in this county, being five stories in height, with a capacity of 200 barrels. This is a fine structure of brick and iron, and receives a large patronage. The business is conducted by Mr. A. E. Ratz, and the machinery contained in this great building is a sight for visitors to Tavistock.

While these evidences of material development in agriculture and manufacture are apparent, education and religion has by no means been neglected in South Easthope. As will be noticed elsewhere, this municipality has had its difficulties in defining and arranging local legislation to suit its educational requirements. At present there are ten sections, five of which are unions. In support of these schools, in 1901, a rate of $2,296 was levied and collected. Excellent buildings have been provided for comfort and convenience to those in attendance. In Tavistock is a school building costing $5,000. In this seminary are four departments, under Principal Charles Cameron and three female assistants, with an attendance of 200 pupils. Continuation classes are kept up, and it is a central point for junior and senior leaving examinations.

South Easthope has several churches. In priority of organization for establishing religious services she has precedence over all other municipalities in Perth County. Three years previous to the organization of old St. Andrew's, in Stratford, a place of worship was opened and a congregation organized by the Evangelical Lutheran body in what is now Sepastopol. In 1832, or seventy years ago, Rev. Mr. Horn conducted services amongst the Germans who followed Mr. Fryfogle into this new section. What its membership may have been the church records do not say. A church was erected in 1856, under Rev. Mr. Kaessmann. This was a frame building, in which service was held till 1884. During this year the present fine brick edifice was constructed at a cost of $16,000. This is a beautiful church, whose tall, tapering spire can be seen a long distance. In the great tower are three bells, approaching chime, whose mellow tones are heard far away in the adjoining country. This tower also contains a clock, the only one in Perth County on a sacred edifice. While this congregation has priority in point of antiquity, it has not that distinction of membership, which must be given to Knox Presbyterian Church, Stratford. Rev. Fredeirck Veit, as pastor, has been successful during a long period of thirty years in his ministrations, the present membership being about 800 souls. A Sabbath school is conducted by the minister, with an attendance of 230 pupils. In 1897 this congregation constructed a parsonage at a cost of $2,400. This is a spacious building of brick, and finished in a style of neatness which characterizes much of the work of this thrifty people.

The Presbyterian Church in Tavistock, compared with the Evangelical Lutheran, is a modern organization, and did not exist prior to 1878. The prosperity attained subsequent to building the railway had attracted others as well as Germans, and several Presbyterians became residents. In 1878, therefore, Rev. Mr. Fleming, a missionary, was sent to preach in Tavistock, and, if possible, to organize a congregation. The number of adherents at this period did not exceed twelve. In 1879 Rev. Mr. Stewart, of North Easthope, became a stationed minister, and proper organization took place. The congregation, who had hitherto held their services in a hall over a hotel shed, rented the Baptist Church, which they occupied for several years. Meantime a large increase in members and adherents took place, and a new brick building was constructed at a cost of $3,500. This little body has been quite successful, its communion roll numbering at present 112, and are still progressing under the ministrations of Rev. Mr. McCullough. A Sabbath School is conducted in connection with this congregation, Mr. Field being superintendent, having an attendance of 75 pupils. The present elders who have done much towards its success are Michael Steele, M.D., A. T. Bell, and J. G. Field.

An old congregation in South Easthope is the Baptist in Tavistock. This church was organized in 1851 by Rev. Mr. Snider. Like all other church organizations in the olden time, services were held in a log building, where its fifteen members and those associating themselves with them, worshipped for a number of years. In 1867, the growing demands of this body rendered a new church necessary, when their present building was constructed. Subsequent to this period a steady progress has been made, if not a rapid one; its present members being 63, under Rev. Mr. Roadhouse. Provision has also been made for religious training of their children, and a Sabbath school is conducted by Mr. J. D. Adam as superintendent, at which on Sabbath days there is an attendance of about 65 pupils.

Fifty years ago a Presbyterian church was organized in Shakespeare, its principal promoters being Messers Alexander Mitchell, ...