What once was: photographs from Elzevir’s German Settlement

Historic photo from Elzevir Township, of unknown members of the Kleinsteuber family, probably in the Skootamatta River.

Is this not a marvellous photo, people? It comes to us courtesy of Keith Millard, a descendant of the Kleinsteubers who created the (now long-gone) German Settlement in Elzevir Township [also home to Queensborough, and the Manse] back in the middle of the 19th century. Of this photo, Keith says: “This wonderful photo was in one of the many old groups of photos we have digitized. We don’t know who the buggy occupants were or exactly where, but likely along the Skootamatta [River] not far from home.” (Photo courtesy of Keith Millard)

I have something a little different for you this evening, dear readers. This extremely funky (surely you agree!) old photograph came to me from Keith Millard, who lives all the way out in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. Keith is a descendant of the Kleinsteuber family that came to Elzevir Township from their native Germany in the early 1850s and pretty much single-handedly created what was known as the German Settlement on the banks of the Skootamatta River, just north of Highway 7 not far from the present-day Log Cabin Restaurant (where the buses stop – read all about it here) and off the road to Flinton. Keith stumbled onto Meanwhile, at the Manse because of my frequent references to Elzevir’s history, and wondered if I might know anything about the German Settlement that he doesn’t. Since it turns out that he is a veritable mine of information about his ancestors, and all I have is the (excellent) history book Times to Remember in Elzevir Township to refer to (which Keith also has) – well, let’s just say that I couldn’t help him out much.

But: perhaps some readers can! Does anyone reading this know anything about Elzevir’s German Settlement? Any memories of Kleinsteuber descendants? Keith has a Facebook page called “My Last Name is Kleinsteuber” here that you might find interesting (and be able to contribute to), and I can provide his email address if you’d like to contact him directly.

He has one question that someone might be able to answer right away (and I can probably answer myself the next time I have time to go poking around where the German Settlement used to be, but that could be awhile): Is anything still there? Are there any remains of the old barns or houses?

And speaking of those barns and houses, here are a couple more great historic photos that Keith sent. What an amazing peek into Elzevir’s past!

The Kleinsteuber family homestead and farm at the German Settlement in about 1910. The question descendant Keith Millard (who lives way out in Vancouver Island) has is: does any of it still stand? If not, how amazing to think a good stury farm like this could just disappear within a century. (Photo courtesy of Keith Millard)

The Kleinsteuber family homestead and farm at the German Settlement in about 1910. The question descendant Keith Millard (who lives way out in Vancouver Island) has is: Does any of it still stand? If not, how amazing to think a good sturdy farm like this could just disappear within a century. (Photo courtesy of Keith Millard)

Of this amazing (and quite delightful) very old Kleinsteuber family photo at the German Settlement, Keith Millard tells me it shows: "John Henry Lorenz Kleinsteuber's [one of the original German Settlement settlers] daughter Amanda, his daughter-in-law Lela (she and John David [Kleinsteuber] lived for many years in Tweed), and Lela's and John David's daughter Lucy Anna Mildred Kleinsteuber, who married Arthur Robinson. (I believe [nearby] Robinson Road was named after his father or grandfather.)  Amanda was married to Oran Greatrix, who owned the General Store in Actinolite …" – and a bit of a long-ago family scandal follows, quite entertaining, but I don't think I should be spilling another family's secrets! (Photo courtesy of Keith Millard)

Of this amazing (and quite delightful) very old Kleinsteuber family photo at the German Settlement, Keith Millard tells me it shows: “John Henry Lorenz Kleinsteuber’s [one of the original German Settlement settlers] daughter Amanda, his daughter-in-law Lela (she and John David [Kleinsteuber] lived for many years in Tweed), and Lela’s and John David’s daughter Lucy Anna Mildred Kleinsteuber, who married Arthur Robinson. (I believe [nearby] Robinson Road was named after his father or grandfather.) Amanda was married to Oran Greatrix, who owned the General Store in Actinolite …” – and a bit of a long-ago family scandal follows, quite entertaining, but I don’t think I should be spilling another family’s secrets! (Photo courtesy of Keith Millard)

23 thoughts on “What once was: photographs from Elzevir’s German Settlement

  1. Neat. Katherine we should a look back book on eastern On Research and re-shoot all these and sim forgotten views.

  2. What wonderful photos. The women at the bottom, what stories they could tell. You know, there were Kleinsteubers in Prince Edward County, a dear friend married one, right out of high school. There is a Kleinsteuber Road near West Lake. Makes one wonder. Don’t you wish we could time travel, to ask all our questions of those gone before?

    • I had very much the same reaction to that photo of the women (and girl) at the outdoor stove, Lindi. Indeed, their lives must have been very much different from ours, and it would be fascinating to talk to them. (And they would probably find our lives equally fascinating, and exotic!) Re the Prince Edward County connection, Keith had said that one branch of the family gravitated to The County: “moved out to West Lake in Prince Edward County around the end of World War I, but had summered out there from about 1909 on, working in the canning factories and picking tomatoes, etc. as farming was a poor business in the Actinolite/Kaladar area … My grandfather started the Maple Rest tourist resort at the corner of the Sandbanks and West Lake in the early 1930s, and that is where I grew up … By 1925 more than 50% of the West Lake School were Kleinsteubers or relatives of, as they all tried to find better farmland.” Moving to find better farmland, like so many North of 7 folks before them!

      • Perfect. Thanks for completing part of the PEC family puzzle for me! I will share this story with my dear friend in Vancouver. How heartbreaking to get one’s land grant in the Actinolite/Kaladar area, then to visit PEC and find out what riches the soil could provide. Short straw.

    • The picture you are referring to is my great aunt.Amanda , my grandmother Lela Kleinsteuber and my aunt Lucy

  3. When I opened this I thought perhaps you were posting a photo of some alternative travel options in Toronto last night! I suppose our gentle rain yesterday was not such a burden. So good to see you out to Ormsby and to finally meet you. Hopefully we can meet again soon and compare heritage notes. Till then we’ll enjoy the gems you uncover.

  4. I’m a descendant of the Kleinsteuber-Greatrix family, born in Picton, PEC, like my Dad and all my family from 100 years ago now. There seems to have been a major change for both families at that time to move to PEC. I really did not know much about the Hastings history until I started to research it in the 90’s. What I found was how important it must have been to live communally, the true sense of community which has been much forgotten. Family is important in the formula. So much wisdom can be passed down through the stories.

    • That is so true, Shana. I hope and trust you have had a wonderful time researching the Kleinsteuber-Greatrix family history. And yes, my reading of Hastings County history absolutely has found the same thing about the importance, the necessity, of community to those early settlers.

  5. The Actinolite Cemetery (Hwy 7 & Hwy 37) has a lot of tombstones with the Kleinsteuber name on them. I’ve been told that at one time, the cemetery was known, informally, as the Kleinsteuber Cemetery. Your page and photos on your blog are quite interesting — particularly so since that is my surname. I’m afraid I can’t offer much in the way of the history of those who settled in the area, though. Our family lived near Tweed, but there are many who lived in Prince Edward County.

    • Thanks for this Actinolite/Elzevir/Kleinsteuber information, Sash! I’ve driven by that cemetery many times but haven’t stopped in to have a look, and your comment reminds me that I should. I also would like to try to find the locale of the old German Settlement and see what is left of it, if anything. Very cool that you are one of the descendants of those early Elzevir Township settlers!

      • You’re welcome. The road to the cemetery is just off Hwy 7. You have to make a hair-pin turn from 7 to the little road (dead-end), and then the cemetery is right ahead. BTW, that road used to be the connection from Hwy 7 to 37 before they built the intersection that stands today. My grandmother had a friend in Hazzard’s Corners — darned if I know her name. But I’m from the area (lived in Madoc for many years), so finding your blog is wonderful. I’m catching up on all sort of things! Thanks for that. Another BTW … your house is lovely, and so sorry to read about the similar one that burned. I was in Madoc this past summer (doing a drive-through of the area), first time there in many years. Things look very much as they did so many years ago. Take care, and enjoy your country tranquility.

      • Sash, after all this interest you’ve shown in my blog, and given how closely your memories are to my own (you must be of about my vintage, and in fact I’d wager we know each other), you MUST come and visit us at the Manse! We can swap Girl From U.N.C.L.E. stories!

      • Thanks! Well, I lived “in town” for 13 years. I even remember the old Madoc Public School — it was demolished when I was four. So, the current school was brand new and I started when it was in its second year. No, I don’t think we know each other, as I’m a few years older than you. Funny that Queensborough should come up, though, as I had read in the Belleville paper about a young boy in your area who is fighting cancer. Such a sad situation, and I sent a letter to the family. Anyway, Queensborough (and Hazzard’s Corners, and Cooper) are all places that I remember fondly. Who couldn’t help but love a leisurely drive through the country roads and seeing peaceful places? Your manse is lovely, and it reminds me of a house I lived in, in Madoc. You know what other type of flower would be lovely (in addition to the phlox, lilacs, sunflowers, etc.) … hollyhocks. Yep, your house would love those!

      • Hollyhocks, yes! I love those! Was introduced to them by a very tall (like the hollyhocks themselves) gardener friend some years ago, and in fact have had it in the back of mind for a while to find a place for them at the Manse.

      • And yes, the boy you mentioned who is battling cancer is Joel Lockwood. The Queensborough community had a fundraising event for him and his family recently, and raised well over $2,000. This is a community where people care about each other.

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