from Wilstead: A Rural Community and Its Abandoned Cemetery by Jack Brown
The rural community of Wilstead is situated about five miles east of Gananoque and straddles Highway #2.
During its years of growth the passing of the time saw the establishment of a church, a school, a store, two blacksmith shops, a post office, a cheese factory and a cemetery.
One of the first settlers in the area was Oliver Landon, a U.E. Loyalist from Litchfield, Connecticut, who settled in the township as early as 1787,
Another early settler was Asahel Kyes, Mrs. Alexander McNeil, whose maiden name was Abigail Kyes, was born in 1802. When she was in her 97th year she recalled her experiences in the early days:
I remember that we lived in the woods. We worked hard to extend our clearing. Wolves and other animals were very troublesome, the wolves particularly, as they killed sheep and calves. They even killed a cow which my husband brought from Lower Canada. When the grain was ripening in the summer, my brothers and I spent the day from early morning till dark driving off the blackbirds and pegeons to save the crop.
We didn’t have many household articles, mostly just what we could make ourselves. We didn’t have carpets, curtains, stoves, or crockery. Dishes were scarce in those days, and there weren’t many knives or forks.
“We had to raise what food we had, but we would have wild animals and birds of course, Maple sugar was all we had for sweetening.”
We made our clothing from our own flax and wool which we carded, spun and wove ourselves. We made candles and soap. When the fire went out, we had to start a new one with a flint and steel.
My father had one horse, Not everybody had a horse. When we needed flour or meal, I was put on the horse with a bag of wheat or corn or rye across the neck in front of me, and I road along eight miles to the nearest mill at Escott. There were six miles of woods to go through, without a living soul.
During the War of 1812 soldiers and others passed along the road, billeting themselves wherever it suited their convenience, frequently taking all the provisions on the premises...
During the war, prices became very high; flour was $20 per barrel. At one time Mr. Purvis worked six days for six yards of cotton, and considered himself well paid. During the Mormon excitement Elder Page and a negro came to Mallorytown, and held meetings, creating great excitement, but did not secure any converts. Before the war, the mail was carried regularly from Montreal to Toronto fain times, a year. In 1816-7, Mr Purvis carried the mail between Kingston and Prescott.