An American Family History

The Lee Family of Leeds County, Ontario


Brockville, Ontario was called Elizabethtown. The area was first settled by English speakers in 1785, when Americans who had remained loyal to the crown fled to Canada after the American Revolution.


Leeds County, Ontario, Canada was first surveyed in 1792 in preparation for the United Empire Loyalists settlers. In 1850, Leeds County merged with Grenville to create the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville.

Ephraim Lee was born about 1755 in Catskill, Columbia County, New York.

He married Jerusha Palmer.

Ephraim and Jerusha's children probably included:

Samuel Lee (1778, married Anna Booth),
Gardiner Lee (1779, married Mary Bigelow),
Ephraim Lee (1780, married Sarah Hinshaw),
Palmer Lee (1782),
Phebe Lee (1785, married Simon Mott),
Hannah Lee (1789),
Amy Lee (1794),
Lydia Lee (1796),
James Lee (1798, married Elizabeth McVeigh),
Rosannah Lee (1800), and
Lorra Lee (1803).

In 1810, Gardiner sold land to Alanson Botsford. The indenture was dated June 10, 1810. The land was in the front half of lot # 33 in the fifth concession of Elizabethtown Township, Leeds County, Ontario. The sale was witnessed by Samuel Lee of Yonge Township and Asahel Frye, Jr.

Palmer and Thomas Lee appeared on the census lists of Yonge Township, Leeds County Ontario in the 1840s.

The Battle of the Windmill was in November, 1838. Loyalists defeated an invasion attempt by Hunter Patriots, led by  Nils von Schoultz, who were attempting to overthrow British rule. The battle was at a windmill two miles east of Prescott.


The first European settlements in Ontario were after the American Revolution when 5,000 loyalists left the new United States.


Palmer Lee was born about 1782 in Columbia County, New York. He was the son of Ephraim Lee and Sarah Hinshaw.

He married Clarinda Nelson.

Milo Lee (1805),
Nelson Lee (1807),
Philander Lee (1816), and
Phileamon Lee (1820).

During the War of 1812, Palmer Lee served in the Second Leeds Militia.

Palmer died in 1863 in Elizabethtown, Leeds County, Ontario.





from History of Wabasha County

Van Ransler Lee, veterinary surgeon, Lake City, is a grandson of Ephraim Lee, who entered the colonial army at seventeen and served through the revolutionary war. Ephraim Lee was born in New York, of Virginian parents, and moved to Canada when James—his son, the father of this subject—was three years old.

James Lee grew up in Canada, married Elizabeth McVeigh, and settled on a farm in her native town, Elizabeth, Leeds county, Ontario, where V. R. Lee was born in March, 1817. Schools were few and primitive in that region and period, and our subject reached the age of seventeen with very little book culture. . .


The Daily Times, Watertown, New York , December 21,1870

Death of a Noted Character
Nelson Lee died at North Hammond on the morning of the 30th of November last. He was found very sick near Hammond Corners, where he alighted from the stage, by some good samaritan, who, passing that way, took him to the inn of M. G. Taylor. He having no money, the case was presented to Mr. Wm. Cuthbert, Overseer of the Poor, who did everything in his power to render the unfortunate as comfortable as possible during his illness, and until death summoned his spirit away. He was buried on Friday, December 2nd.


Nelson Lee was the son of Palmer Lee and Clarinda Nelson of Elizabethtown (now Brockville).

from Three Years Among the Comanches: The Narrative of Nelson Lee by Nelson Lee

I was born at Brownsville, near Watertown, Jefferson County, N. Y., in 1807. Parmer Lee, my father, was a farmer at that place, having always been engaged in agricultural pursuits, except a short period during the last war, when he joined the forces under Brown raised for the defence of the Frontier.

Our family was originally from Catskill on the Hudson, the native town of my grandfather [Ephraim Lee], one of the soldiers of the Revolution, who participated in the battles of Saratoga and was present at the surrender of Burgoyne.

During my minority I was remarkable for nothing I can now recall, save a most hardy constitution and athletic frame, and an intense longing to rove out into the world. In early youth I had resolved, as soon as released from paternal restraint, to pass the horizon that bounded my quiet home, and learn, as far as in my power, of all the lands that lay beyond.

Indulging this propensity, my first adventure from home, on coming to man's estate, was a trip upon a raft from Sacket's Harbor on Lake Ontario, through the St. Lawrence to Quebec In the character of boatman and raftsman I remained on this River, more or less for several years, sometimes sailing among the Thousand Islands, at others descending the swift rapids, but nothing occurring in the meantime of sufficient interest to relate.

Nelson Lee

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©Roberta Tuller 2023
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