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Edward Switzer

Edward Switzer

Male 1806 - 1907


Edward Switzer Biography


The subject of this sketch, Edward Switzer, Esq, was born on the 18th of October, 1806, in Ireland, at Court Matrix on Lord Southwell`s estate, County Limerick, near the village of Rathkeale. Though born in the evergreen isle, his ancestors were German. He being the heir (though of the fourth generation) of Michael Schweitzer and Dorothea, his wife who came to Ireland with two sons from Germany, having been born in the village of Assenheim, near Hochdorf, belonging to the Barony of Leiningen, County of Modderheim, and part of the Most Reverend Capital See of Speyer, Germany. Leaving their native land on the fourth day of May, 1709, they landed in Ireland, settling in the county of Limerick. His father, Adam Switzer and his wife enjoyed the house and land occupied by his progenitor, Michael Schweitzer, above mentioned, being heir thereto. Mr. Switzer`s education advantages in those primitive days were not as elaborate as those who have the good fortune to live in this present generation, and he was consequently brought up a farmer, as understood at that time. As he advanced in years he became anxious to see more of the world. Having the ambitious spirit which has largely been uppermost in his character through life, at twenty-four years of age, he decided to emigrate to America, but as a wise man, before leaving the land of his birth, he placed his affections on one whom he made his wife, (a Miss Sarah Shier), and on the 14th day of February, 1831, they were married at the Townland of Garvanroe, near the city of Limerick, and in the same year sailed for America in the ship "Thetis", having on board 315 passengers. They had a good voyage and on the 1st of May sighted the banks of Newfoundland, and on the 10th arrived at the historic harbor of Quebec, in front of Cape Diamond. Next day they took ship for Montreal, thence by land to Lachine, thence by steamer to the Cascades, thence by Bateaux to Prescott, thence by boat to muddy Little York, (now Toronto). Their troubles were now commencing, as the means of travel in a new country were of the most ancient description. But Mr. Switzer being a man of intrepid character, they immediately undertook the journey to Brock, in the then Home District, and arrived at the house of Mr. Richard Shier, (father of ex-reeve Shier) and a brother of Mrs. Switzer`s, on the 28th day of May, 1831, and a few days later located on his land, lot 4, con. IX, Brock, returned to Little York and purchased the farm he now lives on, having been its occupant nearly sixty three years. At that time the hardships of country life were great. Settlers few and far between, the whole township only containing 450 souls, as the Census of 1830 shows. But Mr. Switzer and his amiable wife were not discouraged,and began the battle of life in ernest, taking their motto: "The diligent hand maketh rich and bringeth no sorrow with it", and now, at the age of eighty-seven, is able to say: "Though I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread".

On the 10th of Nov. 1837, a day memorable in the history of Canada,Mr.Switzer and a number of his neighbours were ordered out as militia to assist in suppressing the rebellion, their destination being Montgomery`s hotel, Yonge street, under the command of Captain Barker of Markham, but before reaching their destination the rebellion collapsed and the party returned to their homes. His martial bearing and aptitude to command was marked by the authorities, and he was offered a captaincy,which he modestly declined. Two others, with himself, are the only ones living of the company who underwent the hardships of that time, he having his feet badly frozen. But the authorities were determined that he would serve his country in some capacity, and he was appointed constable of the district, which position he filled for fourteen years, having performed his duties in such a firm and gentlemanly way, that he was respected and obeyed by those he was called upon to enforce the law against. He now resigned, but as usual, the Crown were loath to lose the services of a man who had served so efficiently, and on the 6th May, 1863, was appointed to the Commission of the Peace, which position he has filled with grace and dignity seldom seen in rural districts. He was largely associated in his administration of justice with the late Squires Reekie, Gillespie, Jos. Gould, Cowan and others, all of whom have joined the great majority.

Mr. Switzer`s family consisted of six sons and five daughters, eight of whom still survive, and are comfortably settled in life. The partner in his life died at the age of seventy-eight years, leaving him to pursue the remainder of the journey alone.

The Blight of Hope and happiness,
Is felt when fond ones part;
And the bitter tear that follows,
Is the life blood of the heart.

Mr. Switzer was a man of rare mechanical genius, building and completing the house on the homestead in all departments, and a most comfortable and convient house it is. He also manufactured his own machinery for use on the farm, was his own blacksmith and farrier, in fact seemed expert in all kinds of handicraft. He is also an excellent taxidermist, as shown by the beautiful display of birds and rare animals in his large collection, which he shows with great pride and pleasure to those who visit him. A most genial host, full of wit, pleasantry, and that graceful demeanour that stamps him as one of nature`s nobleman. Had he the opportunities of education of this century, he would have done honour to any position in which his inclination led him. The writer has had the pleasure of his intimate acquaintance for nearly forty years, and, with the exception of the effects of age, he is to-day as clear in intellect, as entertaining to his friends, and solicitous of the welfare of those in whom he is interested as ever. A Liberal in Politics, keen to observe, he is not slavish in allegiance to party, always free to express approval of acts or not, as they meet his ideas of right. Gentlemanly in intercourse with all, in short he is a man of which any community may feel proud.

Though gay as mirth, as curious though sedate,
As elegance polite, as elate,
Profound as reason, and in justice clear,
Soft as compassion, yet as truth severe.

The above was from a regular column "Brock`s Old Settlers" in the Ontario Gleaner, Volume XXIII, No. 22, Cannington, Ontario, Thursday, Sept. 22, 1893.

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