John Eaton of Carlisle

Originally Published in Heritage Happenings, April 1985
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Last Heritage Paper looked at the early history of Carlisle and its founding by the Eaton family. This paper will cover the genealogy and history of this well-known Flamborough pioneer.

Among the passengers listed on the famous ship “Mayflower”, which sailed from Plymouth, England in 1620 with the first settlers for the American colonies, was Francis Eaton and his wife, Sarah. According to family history, Sarah died of sickness on the voyage to the New World, and Francis Eaton married a second and third time and had three children.

John Eaton, one of Francis’ sons, with his wife and six children settled in Haverhill, Connecticut, and a descendant of this son, called David Eaton, left the area in 1761 and settled in Cornwall, Nova Scotia, following the expulsion of the French from Acadia. Another descendent of John Eaton, also called John, fought with the British during the American Revolutionary War, and afterwards with his wife Martha and family, emigrated to Canada and settled in Nova Scotia. Following John’s death, his wife and their sons, John, Daniel and Elam, moved to the Niagara area. Of these three children, only a detailed genealogy and history of this eldest son John is known.

John Eaton was born 16 March 1773, and on coming to Upper Canada with his first wife in 1796, he settled on his Crown Grant in Burford Township near Brantford. He moved to Saltfleet Township where his wife became ill and died. On 7 March 1803, he married Catherine, daughter of Lavinus Van Duzen, and in 1809, they settled on Lot 32, Concession 1 in Saltfleet Township and lived there until several years after the War of 1812. Catherine’s family were U.E.L.s. and her first cousin was Laura Secord, heroine of the War of 1812. During the 1812 War, John enlisted, probably with the 5th Lincoln Regiment. He worked as a guide for a contingent from Toronto and took part in the Battle of Stoney Creek and other local skirmishes. His home, near the intersection of Burlington Beach and the head of Lake Ontario, was converted into headquarters for the British troops, his oxen and horses were used for transporting supplies, and like many others along the lakeshore, he suffered losses to property and land for which he submitted a claim of £17.5s 0d.

Within a decade of the 1812 War ending, John Eaton and his family had moved from Saltfleet. They may have lived in Hamilton for a few years before moving to East Flamborough, as they participated in building the First Methodist Church in Hamilton (1823) and are listed among the first members there. The family arrived in East Flamborough, probably in 1826, and settled on 400 acres on the eighth concession around which the small settlement of Carlisle was to develop. John and Catherine had a large family of eleven children, and their original frame home, which is no longer standing, had thirteen rooms to accommodate all the members.

The Eatons were strict Methodists, and as other settlers moved into the area, they opened their home for Sunday worship. They were instrumental in establishing the first church, and took an active part in all church activities. Camp meeting used to be held on the homestead. Mrs. Tudor Eaton, in 1926, on the occasion of the family picnic to celebrate the Centennial of the Eatons in Carlisle, fondly reminisced on the meetings.

“One cannot estimate the good that was done, or the religious influence that radiated from these wonderful meetings. The camp consisted of a large tent which would hold about one hundred people. Straw was put all over the floor and boards laid on blocks for seats. There the services would be held if the weather was not fit to have them out in the open. A covered platform was built for the preacher … and the congregation sat upon board seats … Families would come, bringing food, stoves and bedding, and stay for a week or ten days in the board tents … The closing of the meeting was often quite effective. While walking around and singing, a circle would be formed and each would shake hands with the other.”

John Eaton died 18 June 1837 aged 64 years and 3 months, but Mrs. Eaton lived until 1874 and to the grand old age of eighty-nine years. Her name is on the roll of the first worshippers in the “Chapel at the Twelve” and again when the first church was built. Both John and Catherine Eaton are buried in the Carlisle United Church Cemetery.

The children of John Eaton and Catherine Van Duzen:

AnsonBorn 14 December 1803, died 26 August 1888
Married Lornhama Sutton on 21 Sept. 1828
DanielBorn 22 April 1806, died 17 March 1874
Married Lucinda Sutton on 22 March 1829
Levinus H.Born 29 May 1808, died February 1890
Married Catherine Bournes of Nelson on 10 March 1836
John Jr.Born 5 February 1811, died 13 July 1887
Married Anna Hall August 1851
HarmonBorn 28 February 1814, died 31 March 1814
EnochBorn 26 February 1815, died 26 Feb. 1899
Married Eliza Catharine Crooker on 29 January 1852
Wesley F.Born 6 November 1817, died 14 May 1904
Married Margaret Markk on 9 May 1840
Sarah HumphreyBorn 17 November 1820, died 12 Dec. 1900
Married Edward Tansley on 24 December 1851
SeymourBorn 14 April 1823, died 24 January 1894
HoraceBorn 8 June 1826, died 11 November 1875
Eliza JaneBorn 22 December 1830, died 25 May 1923
Married Smith Culp Griffin


  • “Annals of the Forty” No. 4 (Loyalist and Pioneer Families of West Lincoln 1783-1833). Grimsby Historical Society 1965.
  • Christian Guardian Newspapers: (30 March 1836, 16 August 1837, 13 May 1840, 31 December 1851, 4 February 1852).
  • “Over the Years – Our Centennial Booklet 1852-1952”. Carlisle United Church.
  • “United Church Cemetery, Carlisle, Ontario” – Hamilton Branch of O.G.S. 1981.
  • “Papers and Records of the Wentworth Historical Society”, Volume 9. The Griffin and Richmond Co. Ltd. Printers. Hamilton 1920.

© The Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society 1985, 2020


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