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On January 1st 1970, Beamsville, Clinton Township and parts of Louth Township were brought together under the municipal corporation now known as the “Town of Lincoln”. The town required one governing body, not three different ones, with the first Mayor, Delby Bucknall coming from Clinton Township, the first municipal representative, Fred McKenzie coming from Louth Township and aldermen from Beamsville, Clinton and Louth. The name “Lincoln” was chosen by a vote of the citizens.
The Town of Lincoln includes the villages and hamlets of Beamsville, Campden, Jordan, Jordan Station, Rockway, Tintern, Vineland, and Vineland Station.
Our History includes the development of the region from early inhabitants of Indigenous Peoples through to pioneer settlements and the established communities of the Town of Lincoln.
Town of Lincon – First Town Hall
Niagara Region has been inhabited by many First Nations for thousands of years, and is steeped in the rich history of the First Nations such as the Hatiwendaronk, the Haudenosaunee and the Anishinaabe, including the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. The Attawandaran (Neutral) peoples once settled this region alongside the Algonquin and Haudenosaunee peoples and used this land as their traditional hunting grounds. In the mid-1600’s, through European diseases, war, and famine, the Neutral population was decimated with remaining peoples joining other Nations.
Beginning in 1701, Britain entered into treaties with Indigenous peoples in the British colonies of North America, to support peaceful economic and military relations. Over the next 200 years, the Crown signed treaties that defined the respective rights of Indigenous peoples and European newcomers to use the North American lands that Indigenous peoples traditionally occupied. These treaties signed after 1763 provided large area of land occupied by First Nations to the Crown, in exchange for reserve lands and other benefits.
In 1784 (and later boundaries corrected in 1792), the Between the Lakes Treaty No. 3 between the Crown and Mississaugas of the Credit was signed, which gave the Mississaugas 1180 pounds of trade goods for approx. 3,000,000 acres of land between Lakes Huron, Ontario, and Erie, of which 550,000 acres were granted in the Haldimand Proclamation months later to the Six Nations for their loyalty to the Crown. The remaining lands were to be used for settlement of other Loyalists. This Treaty covers the lands of Clinton and Louth Townships.
See Between the Lakes Treaty, No. 3 (1792) from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation for further details on this treaty, and Treaties and agreements from the Government of Canada for details and complexity of treaty rights and the treaty relationship.
During the American Revolution (1775-1783), refugees began fleeing to what is now known as Ontario as early as 1778. These people, who remained loyal to the British, were known as United Empire Loyalists [“UEL”]. They fled north into British controlled land, including Nova Scotia and Quebec (later divided in 1791 into Upper Canada in the west and Lower Canada in the east, and eventually becoming the provinces of Ontario and Quebec we know today).
The remaining Treaty Lands received by Britain from Between the Lakes Treaty, No. 3 (1792) (after the distribution to the Six Nations) was to be distributed to the UEL for land to settle: soldiers, farmers, merchants, etc. who fled their homes in the former colonies, now known as the United States. When the land was surveyed it was divided into counties and then townships. Clinton Township and Louth Township were two of the townships in Lincoln County. At this time the land was covered in forests. There were no villages, dwellings or cleared fields to grow crops. People who had left established comfortable homes in the United States now had to again begin clearing the land for farms, because their families needed to be fed. Britain had been shipping food and other necessities to Canada to care for these immigrants.
In 1789 a Land Board, consisting of gentlemen of the district, was appointed by the Crown. They secured a surveyor, Augustus Jones, to draw a map of the various townships. The Land Board then proceeded to examine the loyalty and character of people claiming a settlement. After taking an oath of allegiance, the applicants received a “Location Ticket” specifying the quantity of land they and their families were entitled to receive. Under the direction of Gov. John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, the counties and townships were named after some English or Scottish county, thus the names Lincoln County and Clinton and Louth Townships.
A Provincial Act of 1798 enacted that the townships of Clinton, Grimsby, Saltfleet, Barton, Ancaster, Glanford, Binbrook, Gainsborough and Caistor form and constitute the first riding of the County of Lincoln, and the townships of Newark, Grantham and Louth constitute the second riding of the County of Lincoln. These townships were rearranged in 1856, and now Lincoln County included Niagara, Grantham, Louth, Clinton, Gainsborough, Caistor and Grimsby townships. Each township had to pay taxes to the county for paying county services which included road building, administration of justice, charity and welfare, aid to agriculture and public health, supporting grammar (high) and common (elementary) schools. Therefore, each township had to have its own government consisting of a Reeve and Councillors. Clinton Township and Louth Township had a governing board, although in 1879 the village of Beamsville became an incorporated village with its own government.
In the late 1790s, a message was sent to the British representative in Pennsylvania inviting “Quakers and like societies to come to Upper Canada where land could be purchased for farming.” These societies including Quakers, Lutherans, Mennonites and other Pennsylvanian German people who were seeking land where they could live in peace, did not have to bear arms, could practice their own religion and customs, and provide more land to their offspring. They arrived with money to purchase land and their Conestoga wagons were filled with furniture and other essentials to begin life in this new land. Life was easier for these immigrants than for the first refugees but it was still a hard life for everyone.
Canada was invaded twice by the Americans who wanted to make Canada one of the American states. First the War of 1812 when the British and settlers drove the Americans back, and again in 1866 when the Fenians, Irish descendants who wanted to see the British defeated, were repelled. A year later, in 1867, confederation united the four provinces and Canada was formed. Ontario was the most western province.
Clinton Township is along Lake Ontario on the west side of Louth Township. The divide between Louth and Clinton Townships is the “Townline” now named Victoria Avenue, which divides the village of Vineland, half in Louth Township and half in Clinton Township. Clinton is mainly a rural farming area with small, closely-knit communities centred around farming, power sources and needed services. The escarpment, known as “the Bench” in Clinton where grapes grow abundantly is known for its numerous wineries. Beamsville is the largest community in Clinton.
The land between the escarpment and Lake Ontario was purchased for farming which eventually became fruit farms; the land on the escarpment was preferred for growing grapes. Governing bodies were established in 1793 as in Louth with elected officers. Organization with elections of a Reeve and Councillors didn’t take place until 1850.
Jacob Beam, a Loyalist from New Jersey, was granted 200 acres on Lots 15 in the 3rd and 4th Concessions, as was his son Jacob Jr. on adjoining Lots 16 in the same concessions. Jacob Sr. was also granted 350 acres in North Grimsby on Lots L, M, and N. After building grist and saw mills by partnering with William Kitchen and prospering in the Upper Thirty, Jacob Beam moved to Beamsville.
Beamsville prospered, with Jacob Beam contributing with land for the Baptist Church and the building of a first school. The beginning of a village began along King or Main Street in Beamsville. The first streets were Main or King, Academy, Hixon, Mountain, North, and Ontario Streets. Beamsville began as a small market centre with a mill, tannery, pottery, carriage maker, agricultural machinery shop, blacksmiths, hotels, butcher shops, grocery stores, dry goods, etc. Rock for building bridges, tunnels, buildings and crushed for roads was discovered south of Beamsville on the Escarpment. Beamsville became the largest village in Clinton Township, and the quarry became an important employer of men in this area. When the train tracks were laid north of Beamsville, the village flourished; at one time having industries, hotels, and stores to fill every need. All around the village were fruit farms, and the number of people coming to the area increased. In the early 1840s, students came from neighbouring areas to receive an education at the Beamsville Grammar School. These students boarded at Beamsville homes. In 1879 Beamsville became an Incorporated Village with its own Reeve and Councillors.
Campden, originally called Moyers’ Corners, was a small village which catered to the farmers above the escarpment. Many Mennonite families, including many named Moyer settled after 1800. It was a bustling village in 1812 beginning with a tailor shop, until the railway passed through Clinton Township below the Escarpment. In 1862 it became known as Campden with its own Post Office.
Tintern village was created in 1857 to support Dean’s Mill and farmers who lived in the most southerly area of Clinton Township. The village received its own Post office in 1872. There is still a garage that repairs vehicles, and a large church has been built in the vicinity. There had been a school, a church and stores.
Vineland, a crossroad community at Highway #8 and Victoria Ave. has grown rather than disappearing, with a large grocery store, hardware, pharmacy, restaurant, bank, garage, and other amenities. In 1894 the area received a Post Office and its official name, Vineland.
Vineland Station came into being when the Experimental Farm was established in 1907 on land that was purchased in 1906 by Moses F. Rittenhouse and given to the Ontario government. Then a Post Office was needed, and a grocery store and church were added for the area. Now only the Experimental Farm (Vineland Research and Innovation Centre) and a church remain.
Louth Township on Lake Ontario is one of the earliest townships to be settled. It contains some of the most varied landscapes in Ontario – spectacular waterfalls, the rocky and beautiful Niagara Escarpment (also extends into Clinton Township), tiny, tucked-away beaches on Lake Ontario and acres of orchards and vineyards on some of Ontario’s richest farmland. People travelled by water ways, trails, roads and eventually the railroad. Roads and early settlements were named after the measured distance from the Niagara River, thus the Twenty Mile Creek. Present day Charles Daley Park is between the 15-mile and 16-mile creeks with beautiful beaches.
One of the earliest Indigenous trails, the “Iroquois Trail” became the Queenston-Grimsby Stone Road, then Highway #8 and now Regional Road 81, making it one of the oldest provincial roads, and a scenic beauty even today.
Louth Township was first settled in 1783 when land was worth only one shilling and three pence per acre. Government was established in Louth Township c1793 with elected officers, a Town Clerk, two Collectors, one Pound Keeper, overseers of roads, two assessors and two Town Wardens.
This township, settled by many Pennsylvania Mennonite farmers, is mainly an agriculture settlement now with profitable fruit farms and some villages: Bridgeport (Jordan Station), Jordan and Rockway. The Twenty Mile Creek harbour, frequently called ‘Jordan Harbour’, was used to ship flour from Ball’s Mills (Glen Elgin) along with apples, dried apples, etc., to as far away as Great Britain. Sailing vessels travelled as far as the village of Jordan to take on these supplies.
Bridgeport (Jordan Station) became an important station when the railway went through Louth in 1853. When the railway bridge was built across the Twenty Mile Creek at Jordan Station, the ships with high masts could not sail under the train bridge. It then became the major fruit shipping centre, replacing the Harbour with the Railway, shipping fruit and other supplies to the rest of Ontario and elsewhere. There are still prosperous fruit farms in Louth Township, some owned by descendants of the immigrants who arrived in 1800 and later.
Jordan is the home of the Lincoln Museum and Cultural Centre: Home of the Jordan Historical Museum, formerly the Jordan Museum of the Twenty. The site includes the stone Schoolhouse (c1858), the Fry house (c1815), and the Haines/Jordan Mennonite Cemetery, where Harvest Pioneer Day is celebrated in the fall.
Vineland Station which straddles the Town Line between Louth and Clinton Townships and is now named Victoria Ave., was created mainly for the Horticultural Research Institute and shipping fruit. It was established to aid fruit farmers. Moses F. Rittenhouse, a local boy who became wealthy in the lumber industry in the United States was an important civic benefactor to the area.
Rockway was noted for its salt springs in 1803 and the falls is still a tourist attraction. There is only a Presbyterian church and cemetery left.
The village of Glen Elgin, though planned never came into being. The railway ran below the escarpment, not above it and eventually the Glen Elgin / Ball’s Falls area declined.
The timelines below provide a snapshot of key events, people, and the overall history of each of the villages and hamlets that make up the Town of Lincoln today.
|Jacob Beam, a Loyalist from New Jersey, came to Clinton Twp. and settled at the Upper Thirty and applied for land grants; Helped establish the Upper Thirty, owning a grist mill, saw mill, and tavern where he sold his own whisky.
|First meetings of Township Council for Clinton Twp., consisted of elected Town Clerk; two Collectors; Overseers of roads; one Pound Keeper; two Town Wardens; two Assessors.
|Crown Land Grant to Jacob Beam, a Loyalist, Lots 15, Concession 3 and 4 in Clinton Twp., 200 acres. Property was between present Bartlett Road and Ontario St. in Beamsville, from John St. to south of King St.
|Jacob Beam Jr. was also granted land in Lots 16, Concession 3 and 4, 200 acres.
|While Jacob Beam settled at the Upper Thirty c1790, in May 1802 he was eventually granted 350 acres of crown land in North Grimsby on Lots L, M, and N. When the creek diminished and eventually almost dried up, Beam moved to Beamsville. Jacob Beam’s account book, which began in the States, continued with businesses at the Upper Thirty). The original Jacob Beam home is still standing on King Street East, south of King St. in Beamsville.
|Jacob Beam donated land for the First Baptist Church and cemetery on Church St. between Mountain and Queen Streets in Beamsville. Church building was used as a Common School as well.
|Jacob Beam died, son Jacob Beam Jr. continued selling land in Beamsville. The village grew.
|A Log Grammar school was built on Jacob Beam property on Academy St.
|Stagecoaches ran along the Queenston / Grimsby Stone Road though Beamsville.
|Beamsville received a Post Office.
|Presbyterian Church established on North St., facing south, near present BDSS property.
|Brick Common School built on northeast corner of Queen and Church Streets.
|Clinton Township Town Hall built on Mountain St., Beamsville.
|Grand Trunk Railway run between Beamsville and Lake Ontario, below the escarpment. Villages along the railway prospered.
|First Clinton Township Fall Fair held in Beamsville. Continued at the Beamsville Fairgrounds, the last one being held in 2012 for the 155th edition.
|Alanson Harris opened Agricultural Machinery shop on Ontario St. (Royal Bank property), moved to Brantford to form partnership with Massey.
|Beamsville became a Police Village.
|Present Baptist church built.
|School board purchased ‘Henry’s Folly’ on William St. – Grammar school on upper floor; Common (Elementary) school on first floor.
|Methodist Church built on west side of Queen St. Senior apartments now on this site.
|Beamsville became an Incorporated Village with a reeve and councillors. Land transfers are now separate from Clinton Twp. (Beamsville deeds from 1879-1955 available for research.)
|Bell Telephone arrived.
|Church of Christ church built on Queen St. across from the Methodist Church.
|St. Alban’s Anglican church built on Ontario St.
|Beamsville waterworks built from the quarry to village by gravity (reservoir still there).
|Bank of Hamilton opened on southwest corner of King & Mountain St. (now a shoe store).
|Basket Factory built on Hixon St. by Reid & Piott.
|Church of Christ split – S.M. Jones’ Bible School moved out – George Tinlin and Rosetta Prudhomme Smith built a new cement block church further south on Queen Street.
|Beamsville District High School opened on North St. (Central Ave.). Only high school in Louth and Clinton townships.
|Churches of Christ were reconciled back to the red brick building on Queen St.
|Royal Bank opened on King St. North.
|United Churches formed by union of Congregationalists, Methodists and Presbyterians. In Beamsville this did not happen until 1938.
|St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church – Presbyterians who did not want to join the United Church of Canada purchased the I.O.O.F. temple on Queen St. which was built in 1910 by Church of Christ dissidents.
|Methodists and some Presbyterians joined the Untied Church. Knox Presbyterian church became Trinity United Church in Beamsville.
|St. Helen’s Catholic Church was built on Maple Grove Road.
|Sewers were built in Beamsville.
|Jewish Synagogue called Baron Hirsch Congregation opened in the former Grobb School on the southwest corner of Mountain St. and Fly Road.
|Lutheran Church was moved to George St. from the Jordan area.
|St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church opened on Ontario St.
|Beamsville became part of the Town of Lincoln.
|Providence Church, Beamsville, King St. East on the property of the E.D. Smith Canning Factory.
|New St. Helen’s Catholic Church opened on Mountain St.
|Three Public Elementary Schools in Town of Lincoln – Jacob Beam & Senator Gibson in Beamsville, Twenty Valley in Vineland. One High School – West Niagara High School which encompasses students from Beamsville, Grimsby and Smithville, located on Highway 81 between Beamsville and Grimsby.
The Friends of Lincoln’s History undertook the plaque project in 2019 to recognize historic agricultural businesses that laid the foundation for the Town of Lincoln to become today a Centre of Excellence for Agriculture.
From canning factories to basket factories to blacksmiths, the farming community became successful because of businesses servicing the agriculture economy. The 17 plaques were researched and designed in cooperation with current property owners and descendants of the original business owners. Funding was provided by Niagara North Federation of Agriculture which has represented producers in the area for 75 years.
We hope Lincoln residents will pick up a driving tour brochure and explore the sites of each business to learn about a unique part of the Town of Lincoln’s history!
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