Brian Kingman - Mount Lehman, BC
Misinformation; a sign that perhaps should be corrected. Not Est. 1864! The informative sign post as you enter the settlement community of Mount Lehman is a very thoughtful introduction sign. However, I for one, believe the date is ten years out as in my opinion, the discussion and decision to call the community Mount Lehman occurred well after 1874.
Now having said that, the Patterson and Graff family lived in the eastern Glen Valley region on the banks of the Fraser River in the late 1860’s, but no established settlers prior to 1873 lived in the region of Bradner, Mount Lehman or Jubilee until April 14, 1873 when Albin Hawkins, retired Royal Engineer took land on the east escarpment of Matsqui Prairie.
When I was convolesing from a health issue in 2004, and recently retired from my 30 year career with the federal government, I began to research in depth, my families history in Mount Lehman. It is very clear that my wife, her sister and cousins that live here, the Taylor family, did arrive in September 1887 when G G grandmother Anna Taylor inherited 160 acres of Mount Lehman lands and acquired another 80 acres at the turn of the twentieth century. The 1904 purchase of our 80 acres was bought off a person by the name Rogers, that person must have acquired the land from Tom Lehman, the eldest son of Samuel Lehman. Samuel acquired this land via a Crown Grant in 1881. The original lands Anna Taylor inherited in September 1887, was first granted in the mid 1870's to Isaac Lehman, Samuel Lehman's first cousin.
Even before Albin Hawkins homestead in 1873, near by his property, a large family of eleven, being Father, Mother and nine children according to the 1881 Canada census, was already settled in before Albin Hawkins took up residence in 1873. Charles and Priscilla Nicholson and their nine children pioneered land close to Hawkins and did so prior to April 14th, 1873, the date of Hawkins first diary entry.
I do not know for sure where Charles Malcom Nicholson lived, but have a pretty good idea. Albin Hawkins could see the smoke from the Nicholson chimney from his property. My best guess would be the south slope of the Matsqui Prairie escarpment, perhaps the present day Townline Hill region where the Gordon Smith family farmed for many years. A scottish family, with the name “White” also settled near there in the early 1880’s.
My research preferred written evidence. An excerpt from the historical accounts contained within the published book “The Place Between 1869 – 1939” was very helpful as it was direct family relations that gave their family history to the interviewers.
The two best pieces of evidence I was able to acquire came from the Royal British Columbia Museum (Victoria) and the actual archived records of the 1881 Canada census. Hawkins personal account of day to day pioneer life, his interactions with the Matsqui first nations, the numerous names he mentions, all very traceable and significant British Columbia pioneers in their own rights.
“From Wikipedia- arriving in 1858, Royal Engineers, Columbia Detachment was disbanded in July, 1863. The Moody family, only 22 men and 8 wives returned to England, while the rest, 130 sappers, elected to remain in BC. .."
What I deduced from Hawkins dairy were many things. He was a hard working and well liked man. Yes, an original Royal Engineer that came to BC via the voyage around Cape Horn on the British war ship HMS Columbia that brought a contingent of solid, expereinced soldiers, all skilled Royal Engineers.
These talented men, led by Colonel Moody, established and organized British Columbia through survey and construction. Of further interest, many of the Royal Engineers did not return to England. Even of more interest to the Abbotsford region, a great many settled in the central Fraser Valley. Maclure, Musselwhite, Turner - to name a few.
Charles Malcolm and his wife Pricilla Nicholson appear to the very first (European) settlers on the highlands of present day Abbotsford. They probably lived at the south eastern edge of the Matsqui escarpment. Possibly on the Townline road hillside.
In 1874, Christopher Musselman, Isaac Lehman and a year later, Samuel and Katherine Lehman. In 1875, Musselman died of either Cholera or Typhoid in Victoria in 1874 and obviously did not return to Mount Lehman. Samuel Lehman took over the Mussleman land grant of 160 acres which was located on the present day Hawkins road, between Mount Lehman Road and Harris Road (note that Harris Road did not exist at that time). Many of the Samuel Lehman children lived on various parts of that land and I believe up until the 1940’s. I have been told it was Carson Lehman who lived in the house that Mary Harvey bought in the 1950’s and is now the property of Marvin and Trich Loewen.
Samuel and Katherine obtained a second land grant on April 4, 1882, that eventually became our land on Taylor road adjacent and west of the original Anna Taylor 1887 property. Eventually another Mount Lehman pioneer, James Lee acquired, perhaps purchased the western 80 acres from Tom Lehman, Samuels eldest son. James Homan Lee, the father of James Lee had acquired a 160 acre land grant earlier, that property bordered the present day cemetery and north to the Arthur Boyle property.
Katherine Lehman died in 1884 and is the first person buried at what was to become the Mount Lehman Cemetery, but at the time, was the Samuel Lehman property prior to his son Thomas acquiring it.
Thomas moved south on the Dennison Road (Ross) to the north west corner of the road now known as the Haverman Road.
Excerpt from the book “The Place Between 1860 – 1939”. This entry that Albin Hawkins noted and transcribed in Victoria by museum archivists, clearly indicates that Hawkins was helping build Christopher Musselmans house. Diary entry dated February 22, 1875. This brings one to wonder, is there still remnants of this old home somewhere on the 160 acre piece located between Olund and Mount Lehman roads? Isaac Lehman and his brother-in-law Christopher Musselman appear in Hawkins diary on December 23, 1874, the first entry.
Albin notes that Samuel Lehman and family arrive April 14, 1875. There was not quite 100 eligible Mount Lehman voters listed on the 1898 provincial voters list. In fact 98 men over 21 eligible to vote (British Subjects) and listed as either farmers or loggers. We can reasonably surmise that the loggers for the most part were single.
Besides adult woman married to the many farmers listed, their children, there would also be Asian, Indo Asian and other in eligible non-British residents of Mount Lehman that could not vote. As there were schools, several saw mills, and at least four churches and one Japanese school, I could easily venture a guess that putting 500 to 1,000 people living in the Mount Lehman voting area in 1898.
There is always some misplaced residents that make comments towards history of a region without really knowing the facts. Here are two relatively recent issues that could have caused some grief, one to the land owners seeking to make changes to their property and another to the actual history of a congregation.
1) The owners of the Singletree Winery upon purchasing the lands that once belong to the pioneering Merryfield family also inherited a very run down old house on the property. A gathering was held at the community hall to discuss the believed to be historic home of the Merryfield family that came to Mount Lehman in the mid 1880’s and settled at the north east corner of Harris and Mount Lehman roads. However, the individual that wanted the old house preserved learned that the house was an Eaton's build-by-numbers house that arrived by river boat, brought up the landing road by horse and wagon in pieces and assembled about 1915, about the time of World War 1. Bill’s wife Sarah Merryfield who died in 1912, never got to step foot in her new home. There was very little historical value in preservation of the very run down home that had not been occupied since the 1960’s.
2) Another most recent faux pas was when the University of the Fraser Valley completed a historical look at the Mount Lehman United Church and declared that the Mennonites founded the church in the 1890’s. Of course, there were no Mennonites involved in the church then, the students misread, Methodists.
Written by Brian Kingman, April 10, 2022
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