Lennox and Addington Historical Society

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Copying is permitted. Please credit the Lennox and Addington County Museum, Napanee, Address: Postal Bag 1000, 97 Thomas Street East, Napanee K7R 3S9

Thompson Kirkpatrick, Irishman

Thompson Kirkpatrick emigrated from Ireland in the 1830's with his wife "Marthy" and three sons. Probably, they first touched Canadian soil at Quebec. They then used a river vessel to travel on to what was then the town of Kingston, where Lake Ontario drains into the St. Lawrence, the point of arrival for many in the 19th century. From there, they made their way up to what was then the frontier, the lands of Sheffield Township, Lennox and Addington county. Because this land was uncleared it was cheaper, and many Irish went there to make a start, forming a band of Irish across the north of Camden township and the south part of Sheffield. The Kirkpatricks must have come with some cash. They purchased land just north of what is now the village of Tamworth. At the time that Thompson Kirkpatrick and his family arrived, it was as far as the cleared road went. North was the forest and the Canadian shield, with only trails reaching into the highlands of Kaladar and Denbigh.

Before 1840, most of these settlers were Protestant, and the Kirkpatricks were no exception, attending the Church of England (Anglican). Two more sons were born in 1838 and circa 1842. By 1851, Thompson Kirkpatrick was an established member of the Tamworth community.

What became of the Kirkpatrick sons?

1. Peter Kirkpatrick, who was probably the oldest son, is known to have moved to Collingwood, and then later on to Michigan in the U.S. The family he left behind eventually lost track of him.

2. Robert Kirkpatrick stayed on the family homestead and had issue, five sons and four daughters. Son Tom Kirkpatrick inherited the family farm. Alex Kirkpatrick moved to Syracuse, N.Y. Jim and Herbert Kirkpatrick moved to Port Colborne, Ontario. The daughters all married and left Sheffield Township. They were: Mrs. H. Cowdy, Toronto; Mrs. R. Young, Port Colborne; Mrs. C. Cowdy, Port Colborne and Mrs. Fred. York, Napanee.

3. James ("Jimmie") Kirkpatrick married and moved further north in Lennox and Addington, up the Addington Road, seeking his own farm.

4. Thomas Kirkpatrick married Martha Jane Lott and they had three sons: Fred Kirkpatrick (born 1861) married but left no children; John Kirkpatrick (born 1863) went to Watertown, N.Y.; and Robert Kirkpatrick (born 1865). A daughter, Eva Kirkpatrick, was born in 1870. The young folk had a rough start, as their father, Thomas died in 1883 at the age of 45, leaving his widow and children with only the farm on the Old Arden Road, six miles north of Tamworth.

5. The fate of John Kirkpatrick, youngest son of Thompson, is unknown.

The quick dispersal of this family is typical of movement for economic advantage in the 19th century. By the 1950's, only 100 years after Thompson Kirkpatrick seemed such an established part of his community, the remnants of the family already had lost touch with many of its members. Once uprooted from Ireland, such families took on a restlessness perhaps unknown to the forefathers. Like thousands of others, the Kirkpatricks moved out across Canada and the United States seeking employment, rather than farmland.

November, 1998

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