In the early 1800s, The Queen's Bush was a wild tract of unsurveyed land. John Little, a black Queen's Bush settler, was interviewed in the early 1850s by Benjamin Drew for his book, A North-Side View of Slavery. Mr. Little said, "We heard of the Queen's Bush, where any people might go and settle, colored or poor, and might have a reasonable chance to pay for the land. We set out to find the Queen's Bush ...Then we marched right into the wilderness, where there were thousands of acres of woods which the chain had never run round since Adam."
Before 1837, Livas "Joseph" Anderson, Hester Freeman's maternal grandfather, took his family from Baltimore to Ontario's Queen's Bush. The family included Mary, his wife, daughters Catherine, Mary, Bathemia, and son Livas. By the mid-1840s, Livas "cleared and cultivated six acres of land."
Hester's father, Canadian-born Robert Freeman, also settled in the Queen's Bush. It was there that he met Catherine Anderson. Robert and Catherine were married in Peel Township in 1850. The marriage register read, "Robert FREEMAN, to Catherine ANDERSON, both of Peel. ? Dec. 1850, by banns. Rev. SIM. Wit. Lyvis ANDERSON and Geo. Selby." The marriages of Rev. Sims are recorded in The Marriage Registers of Upper Canada/Canada West.
When the Queen's Bush was surveyed, settlers (squatters) feared losing the land they poured their sweat into. In 1847, Black settlers sent a petition to the Governor-General of Canada. Livas "Joseph" Anderson and Robert Freeman both signed the petition. The petition read in part:
"...we earnestly entreat your Excellency favour to grant your pettrs this their Humble request for if your pettrs is driven from our little Homes our distress will be great ... we are loyal subjects to our sovering Queen Victoria every man and when the outbreak of '37 took place we turned out to a man in defense of the Country and done our duty as soldiers and is ready and willing at any time to the same."
The petitioners never received a response.
[NOTE: The "outbreak of '37" was The Patriot's War or the Rebellion in Lower Canada.]
* The Queen's Bush Settlement, Black Pioneers 1839-1865, Linda Brown-Kubisch
* Drew, Benjamin. 1856. A north-side view of slavery: The refugee, or, The narratives of fugitive slaves in Canada: related by themselves, with an account of the history and condition of the colored population of Upper Canada. Boston: Published by John P. Jewett and Company.
* The Marriage Registers of Upper Canada/Canada West, Volume 9: Part 1, Wellington District 1840-1852, Compiled by Dan Walker & Fawne Stratford-Devai, Global Heritage Press/Genealogy.com. Inc. 2013.
* The Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum, 10 Huron Road, Kitchener, Ontario
Joseph A. Anderson
Left: Joseph Livas Anderson, Catherine Anderson Freeman's father and Hester Freeman Meehan's grandfather from the collection of Hester Meehan.
Livas moved his family from Baltimore, Maryland, to Wellington County, Ontario, by 1843. The household included Mary, his wife, daughters Catherine, Mary and Bathemia, and son, Livas.
Inset from The Queen's Bush Settlement, Black Pioneers 1839-1865, Linda Brown-Kubisch
There are similarities between community building in the Queen's Bush, the Elgin Settlement, and the Nebraska Sandhills.
The purposeful quest for a secure and flourishing community built with families in mind stands out.
What stands out most is the quest for a place to call home.
Robert and Catherine are the parents of
Mary Ann Freeman Thomas
Rachel Freeman Harvey-Johns-Singleton
Hester Freeman Meehan
Josephine Freeman Hinton
Sara Freeman, perhaps changed to Custard
Transcribed marriage register of Rev. Sim, reflecting the marriage of Robert Freeman and Catherine Anderson in 1850.
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