Samuel Birdsall was born in 1785 and came with his parents to Canada in 1788. After the death of his father, a friend David Watson from Bucks County in Pennsylvania visited the family. When David returned he took Samuel with him to stay with his grandfather Benjamin Canby. He went to school there until he was eight years old. Samuel then went to live with his mother's sister Hannah and her husband Jesse Buckman where he continued school.
Samuel's mother (Elizabeth Canby) made the trip from Canada with some friends, all on horseback, with the idea of taking Samuel back with her. However, Samuel decided to stay to attend school to learn the business of a clerk. At one time he worked for an uncle in a store in Philadelphia, second door above 7th Street in High Street. In 1801 he came back to some relatives, his father's sister Sarah and husband William Pettit, and grandparents Jacob and Elizabeth Birdsall.
His older brother Jacob came from Canada, sent by his mother, to persuade him to come home with him. The two boys traveled by horseback, by foot, took ferries accross rivers, though Allegheny Mountains, to Genessee River, to Batavia, to the ferry at Queenston to cross the Niagara river. They returned to the Short Hills, the area around the village of St. Johns, and to the home of his mother and step-father Darling. These events were recorded in the account that Samuel prepared in 1862 to give an account of his life.
Samuel wrote that in 1804 he spent the summer with his parents, kept school during the winter and part of the summer. This one-roomed school has been restored and used by the St. Johns Outdoor Studies program of the Niagara South Board of Education. It is one of the oldest schoolhouses in Ontario still on its original site.
Samuel worked as a clerk, at the mill, and in the potash business and at times taught school. In 1810 he married Elizabeth Melick, daughter of Peter and Elizabeth Melick, operated the Canboro Mill until the spring of 1812 when Uncle Benjamin Canby gave him 130 acres on Lot 13, Conc. 2. He was in the War of 1812-1814, fought in the battle at Chippewa in 1813, and in the battle of Lundy's Lane. After the war he went home to operate his farm and raise a family.
His wife, Elizabeth (Melick) Birdsall died in 1833 and three years later Samuel married a widow, Elizabeth Parks who had a family of 8. Samuel and Elizabeth had two children.
A story often told about this large family - Samuel with most of his ten children at home, and his second wife with her children plus two of their own - one day at dinner the kitchen floor broke through and they all landed in the basement.
When Benjamin Canby died (Samuel's maternal grandfather), Samuel received many acres of land in the Township of Canboro. He gave each of his own children 300 acres, each of his step-children 200 acres. In the case of the two who married stepsisters, they received 500 acres.
Samuel kept very accurate accounts of all births, deaths, and marriages of relatives in his Family Bible. In many cases, the year, day, hour and minute were all recorded.
Children of Samuel Birdsall and Elizabeth (Melick) Birdsall:
Joseph Ross 1814 m. Mary Winings
John 1816 m. Catherine Sarah Parks, a step sister
Elizabeth 1818 m. Daniel Wilson
Martha 1819 died 1830
Benjamin Canby 1821 m. Ann Winings
Andrew Melick 1823 m. Elizabeth Scott
Whitson Canby 1825 m. Catherine Becker
Samuel Darling 1827 m. Jane Walker
Peter Melick 1829 m. Catharine Melick
Henry Canby 1831 m. Harriet Parks, a step sister
Eli Winchester 1833 m. Cecilia Parker
Children of Samuel Birdsall and Elizabeth Parks:
William Hamilton 1838 m. Alice Mabee
Agustus 1843 never married
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