Luke Gibbons, father of Patrick, was born about 1780 in Ireland, possibly in Crossmolina, County Mayo, Ireland. He married Ann McDonnell, a local girl, about 1804. Luke and Ann never migrated to Canada. However, three of their sons did. They were Michael, born 1805, Patrick, born 1806, and Anthony, born 1816. Luke and Ann probably had other children but these are the only ones we have discovered. Although his parents remained in Ireland, Patrick’s brothers Michael and Anthony also settled in Ontario, eventually in Wellesley township in Waterloo County. It is not known if they came at the same time as Patrick, but it appears they might have come later, as the earliest land records we have found for Michael are in the early 1840’s. There were many other Irish Gibbons listed in the 1851 Census of York County, almost all of them in King, East and North Gwillimbury Townships, and the Township of Adjala in the adjoining county now known as Simcoe. Any or all of these latter groups of Gibbons could have been relatives of the three brothers.
Patrick Gibbons left his home in County Mayo, Ireland around 1830 with his wife Bridget Burke and at least one child. After 8 weeks on the seas, they arrived in Canada, landing in Quebec. This was a decade before the great famine, but the Irish countryside was overpopulated as a result of the Napoleonic Wars and poverty was setting in. There was also religious and ethnic hostility between the English who had taken control of Ireland, and the Irish, especially the Roman Catholic Irish. The English and their Protestant Irish and Scottish allies in Ireland had the upper hand, and this created poor prospects for young Irish Catholics who wished to get ahead. As a result young men were lured by advertisements of farmland for as little as four shillings an acre in British North America.
Born on the 16th of March in 1806, Patrick would have been 24 when he migrated to York County, Canada West. From a newspaper article written in 1938, we have learned the following of Patrick’s early days in Ontario. “Patrick Gibbons landed in Canada, a typical young Irish immigrant, with no capital but his health and strength. He found work first in the saw mill of William Lloyd, at Glenville. This saw mill had owners who were well known in their day; Mark Hughes, Ellis Hughes, Van Allan, father of James Van Allan and lastly Richard Kirton, a man who by hard work and thrift accumulated a fortune that enabled him to leave a legacy to the Baptist Denomination for building of Kirton Memorial Hall, a part of the McMaster University buildings in Toronto. Patrick first settled on Lot 33, Concession 3, King Township (200 acres) of Clergy Reserve Land. (This is located in the area of current day Newmarket, Ontario). Then he heard of a fine Irish community in Adagala Township, in the County of Simcoe. Patrick reportedly bought 50 acres from the Canada Company on the east half of Lot 30, Concession 2 on the 22nd of January, 1836. (There is possibly some discrepancy here as we are not sure if it was “our” Patrick who went to Adjala or if it could have been a cousin with the same name) The story states though that it was our Patrick and that the land in Adjala did not have the appeal of his first choice however, and after a few years spent there he came back to King Township, and bought in 1844 from the Canada Company, the East ½ of Lot 31, Concession 3. It was hilly, but here he built himself a comfortable house and outbuildings, in the shelter of a big sugar loaf hill, locally taking the name of "Gibbons' Peak" (or Paddy’s Peak) for it was a prominent land mark for miles around. The land remained in the family for 102 years. Patrick stayed the rest of his blessed days, contented and happy with his growing family around him. In the first years, sale of timber cordwood, the burning of lime and charcoal added to the family funds. In 1846 this industrious settler made and sold fifty-five thousand hand made shingles to George Shanks for his new farm buildings at $2.50 a thousand, and in the same year he sold to Hewitt and Strachan, contractors all the stones they could find on his farm for $40. These went into the macadamizing of Yonge Street when that improvement to this highway was done. For two winters he made shingles selling his total output to neighbours. This added well to his income in those days, and gave him a good start on his land payments. Lime from the Gibbons kilns was used in the building of the King Christian Church and also the Kettleby Temperance Hall. On the "millstone creek" on his farm, the mill stones for the Glenville flour mill built by the Cawthras were fabricated. These stones are now preserved at the Glennville Public School grounds as relics. With all this activity and with his growing children around him the Gibbons farm was a happy home.”
Discrepancies as to Patrick’s marriages and number of children appear in the local newspaper articles and books. However, our research leads us to believe that Patrick and Bridget having married in Ireland had four children. At least one of the children, Mary, was born in Ireland before they emigrated. We are not sure about the birthplace of son, Michael. This is what we have discovered about Patrick and Bridget’s children.
Mary – born in Ireland between 1829 and 1830. She married Andrew O’Brien in Newmarket in 1851. Mary was about 21 and Andrew 30. Andrew died early at the age of 58, leaving Mary a widow, aged 48 with 11 children between the ages of 5 and 26. Mary lived until the age of 86. She died in Toronto on Aug. 4, 1915 and is buried in St. John Chrysotom Cemetery in Newmarket with her husband and five of their children.
Michael – we don’t know when Michael was born and whether it was in Ireland or Canada. At the age of 16, he fell off a horse and broke his arm. The arm became gangrenous and caused his death. He is buried in an unmarked grave in the Anglican Cemetery on the hill top as you approach Newmarket from the west, on Eagle Street, also known as the Pioneer Burying Grounds. Unfortunately, most of the records were destroyed by fire years ago. This cemetery was used as there were only six Catholic families in the area and no Catholic cemetery yet.
Honora – born in Canada and baptized July 13, 1834 at St. Paul’s Mission Church in Toronto. The godparents were Martin Hinby and Ellen Gibbons. We are not sure how Ellen is related to the family.
John – born about 1836. This is my great-great grandfather. John moved to Wellington County when he was in his early twenties to work with his Uncle Michael Gibbons. He later moved to Norwich in Oxford County and in 1867 married at the age of 30 married 24 year old Elizabeth O’Callaghan in Ingersoll. They became innkeepers in Goldstone and had three children. John met an untimely death at the age of 46 having contracted tuberculosis. (More will be written of John and Elizabeth in a separate writing.)
Sadly, Bridget, Patrick’s wife died about 1838 probably while she was just in her late twenties. The cause of death is not known but in a newspaper article written in 1938 about the family the death of an older daughter of Patrick's is discussed. There is the possiblity that this is a mistake and the information about the daughter's death is actually the story of Bridget's death. It could have been daughter, Honora, however, she would have only been three at the time. Anyway, the story is that this person was poisoned by eating blood root in mistake for pepper of krinkle root, a spicy edible root dug up under wet leaves in the forest. This person is also said to be buried in an unmarked grave in the Anglican Cemetery where son Michael was also buried.
About six years later, in 1844, Patrick remarried. Catherine Banks from County Sligo in Ireland was the only daughter of Catherine and James Banks. She left Ireland by herself and her parents lived to the ripe old age of 99 in Ireland. Both Patrick and Catherine would have been 38 at the time of the marriage. They also had four children:
James - Born within a year of the marriage. As a young man, he moved to Ingersoll, probably to work with his older half-brother, John in the inn keeping business. However, he eventually became a cattle drover and sold his stock in Toronto. James married Mary Cannon in 1877 at the age of 34. She was 32 and was From Aurora. James’s younger sister, Ann, had married Mary’s brother the previous year – so two siblings married two siblings. James and Mary had two children that we are aware of. Unfortunately, James also died an early death at the age of 47 in 1891. He, like his older half-brother died from tuberculosis.
Luke – born April 23, 1846. Again from a local newspaper article written in 1838, we have learned the following: Luke, the next son was a mainstay. He taught school awhile in Ohio and Michigan, but came back to the farm, as the aging parents desired. He soon got into local temperance societies, literary and other social circles. The Farmers' Institute work found him an active and useful helper. He was of a sociable disposition, and from his uniform good nature made his company agreeable to young and old. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace and Commissioner in the High Court of Justice and held this for many years. In politics he has always been a liberal. His life long friend, Sir William Mulock, whose farm almost adjoined the Gibbons home, often exchanged friendly visits with his friend "Luke". Sir William years ago encouraged orchard planting in North York and yearly gave generous prizes to his constituents for the best plantings. Luke was a prize winner for his orchard, and was well rewarded in after years by the fine product of his trees which gave him both pleasure and profit. A lot of Indian relics were found on this farm, and Luke had a fine collection. A black stone book is among the rare pieces he has. This object must have been lost by white missionaries or explorers. Archeologists are at a loss to explain it. He collected a fine library, and was a great reader, and one of the best posted men in the community. Then Luke took as his bride, Annie Menton of Toronto, in June, 1885. They were married in St. Patrick's Church, Toronto and toured to Niagara Falls, the scene of so many happy honeymoons. Their children are Frank, John, and Mrs. George Paxton, with whom he is now living. He is perhaps one of the oldest residents of King Township, being 93 on 23rd of April 1938, retaining fair health, and his memory unimpaired. His whole life has been spent within sight of his birthplace, and he is rooted in the soil of his nativity as firmly as a sturdy oak tree and loyal to the end to what he had identified himself in his young manhood. Luke died on the 11th of December in 1941 at the age of 95. He is buried with his family in St. John’s Cemetery in Newmarket.
Catherine – born about 1849, stayed in the Newmarket area until the late 1890’s when she went as a teacher to the East Indies. Nothing further is known of her.
Ann – born July 6th, 1851. Ann also started out as a teacher, like her older siblings, Luke and Catherine. However, her husband, William Cannon was a dentist and she learned the profession from him and after his death continued the practice in Toronto – this was at the turn of the century. Quite a feat for a woman in 1900. Ann and William had four children.
This is the text of Patrick’s will which he prepared when he was 68, two years before his death on December 26, 1876. His wife, Catherine, lived six years longer and remained on the family homestead until her death:
I, Patrick Gibbons, of the Township of King in the County of York and the Province of Ontario - Yeoman of the age of sixty eight years, and being of sound mind and memory do make (...?) and declare this my last will and Testament in manner following, to (...?)
My Will is, First. That my funeral charges and just debts shall be paid by executor and executrix hereinafter named. The residue of my estate and property which shall not be required for this payment of my just debts, funeral charges and expenses attending the execution of this my will and the administration of my estate, I Give, devise and dispose thereof as follows:
Second: I Give and Bequeath to my Wife Catherine Gibbons the sole use and control of the west half of my dwelling house on the first floor and also a comfortable maintenance, fire wood, and the keep of one cow during the term of her natural life or so long as she shall remain unmarried and also my household goods. Which said maintenance, firewood, and keep of cow shall be furnished her by my son Luke hereinafter named, so long as it may be agreeable to her to stay in my house. But should she at any time choose to take up her permanent residence at some other place, she shall receive in lieu of said maintenance one hundred fifty dollars per year in cash.
Third: I Give and Bequest to my Son John Gibbons, Two hundred dollars to be paid by my executor within one year after the decease or remarriage of my said wife.
Fourth: I Give and Bequest to my Son James Gibbons, Two hundred dollars to be paid by my executor within one year after the decease or remarriage of my said wife.
Fifth: I Give, desire and Bequest to my son Luke, my homestead where I now reside being the east half of Lot number thirty one in the third concession of King aforesaid to him and his heirs and (...?) for ever. Subject to the support as hereinbefore mentioned of my wife Catherine Gibbons, and also the payment of certain legacies herein mentioned to be paid by him. I also give to my son Luke all my horses and horned cows, sheep and all my farming implements and stock and in the maintenance to be provided for my said wife he shall allow her a fair proportion of the fresh produce each year.
Sixth: I Give and devise to my daughter Mary O'Brien, wife of Andrew O'Brien, Two hundred dollars to be paid her by my executor within one year after the decease of my said wife.
Seventh: I Give and bequeath to my daughter, Catherine Gibbons, Four Hundred dollars to be paid to her by my executor as follows. Two hundred dollars within one year after my decease and two hundred dollars within one year after the decease of my said wife.
Eighth: I Give and bequest to my daughter Ann Gibbons Four hundred dollars to be paid to her as follows. Two hundred dollars to be paid to her within one year after my decease and two hundred dollars within one year after the decease of my said wife.
My real estate is and shall be subject to the foregoing legacies.
Lastly, I wish it to be understood by all parties interested that the sums mentioned to be paid to my sons John and James and to my daughter Mary are additional to what I have heretofore given them. And I hereby nominate and appoint my sons John and Luke Gibbons to my executors and my Wife Catharine executrix of this my last will and testament.
In witness whereof I have herewith set my hand and affixed my seal this twenty ninth day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and Seventy five.
The foregoing instrument consisting of one sheet was at the date there of signed, sealed, published, and declared by the said Patrick Gibbons as one for his last will and Testament in presence of us who at his request and in the presence of each other have subscribed our names as witnesses attesting thereto.
B. Pearson, (...?) of the village of Aurora
J. M. Wells Surgeon Dentist
Following his death, his son, John Gibbons, came home to settle his estate. This is the probate record:
Affidavit of Value of Property
In the Surrogate Court of the County of York
In the Goods of Patrick deceased.
John Gibbons of the Township of Peel, Postmaster, in the County of Wellington, make oath and say that I am the eldest son, and one of the executors named in the will of the said Patrick Gibbons deceased.
That the personal Estate and Effects of the said deceased which he in any way died possessed of, or entitled to, and for and in respect to which letters of Probate ...? to be granted are of or about the value of Fourteen Hundred and Seventeen dollars.
Household furniture 99
Farming Implements 230
Horned Cattle 189
Sheep and swine 119
Cash in hand 400
Sworn at the village of Aurora, in the County of York, the tenth day of February, 1877 before me B. Pearson.
Signed John Gibbons.
Patrick died the day after Christmas in 1876 in King's Township (now Newmarket, Ontario), at the age of 70. He and his wife, Catherine Banks, are buried together in St. John Chrysotom Catholic Cemetery in Newmarket.
Written and researched by Patricia Monogue Balkcom, g-g-g-grandaughter of Patrick Gibbons, with research help from Al Pryor. Updated April, 2008