Col. Thomas Hornor

Accomplishments and events in the life of
the first white settler of
Blenheim Twp., Oxford Co., Ontario Canada

slvrball April 17, 1678 - His grandfather Isaac Hornor Sr. was born in Tadcaster, England.

slvrball February 6, 1732 - His father Isaac Hornor Jr. was born near Princeton, New Jersey.

slvrball March 17, 1767 - Col. Thomas Hornor was born at Mansfield, near Bordentown, south of Princeton, New Jersey U.S.A.

slvrball 1773 - The Hornor’s were a Quaker family and Thomas attended with his parents the new Quaker Meeting House near Bordentown.

slvrball 1783 - His father Isaac decided to give up his job working for a local newspaper, moved to New York City, and with his partner commenced publishing his own paper “The New York Morning Post.”

slvrball 1785 - Thomas Hornor now 18 years of age, was allowed by his reluctant Quaker parents to attend a military college to further his education.

slvrball 1793 - At the invitation of John Graves Simcoe, the Governor of Upper Canada, Thomas Watson Jr. of the State of New Jersey, arrives in Blenheim Twp., accompanied by his first cousin Thomas Hornor. (Watson’s mother was Elizabeth Hornor, a sister of Isaac Hornor the father of Thomas Hornor.)

slvrball May 22, 1794 - The two cousins return to New Jersey where Watson plans to remain. Thomas Hornor encouraged at the prospect of soon owning Blenheim Twp., as promised by John Simcoe if a saw and griss mill were built, purchased equipment at Albany, N.Y., hired millwrights and mostly by water traveled back to what is now Princeton, Ontario. Here they built their first saw mill on the main stream of the creek which now bears his name.

slvrball 1795 - Hornor’s mill and equipment were swept away in the spring flood.

slvrball 1796 - Hornor and his millwrights return to Blenheim Twp. and this time they construct a mill pond and a mill race located about midway between the Governors Road (Highway No. 2) and the 2nd Concession After completing the mill the group endure their first Canadian winter. (The site of the mill was located in 1973. The beams of the old saw mill, though now 177 years old, were still in reasonably good shape buried in the mill pond bank at the edge of the mill race, but the ends of each timber were charred indicating the mill had met it’s fate by fire.)

slvrball 1797 - Thomas Hornor always enjoyed a friendly relationship with the several Bands of Indian people living at Mohawk Village on the Grand River and now the location of the City of Brantford. He first acquired this friendship when it is believed in the spring of 1793 he and Watson accompanied Gov. John Simcoe, his militia and surveyors from Newark (then the capital of Upper Canada) as far as Blenheim Twp. On the way they spent a few days at Mohawk Village with the Indians. Later Simcoe his militia and surveyors continued on their treck to Fort Detroit, leaving one surveyor and Indian helpers with Watson and Hornor at the creek west of what is now the village of Princeton. Now four years later in 1797 we find this friendship between Hornor and the Indians continuing as it did for the remainder of his life. Thomas Hornor served in the Grand River Masonic Lodge # II as Senior Warden when Joseph Brant was Worshipful Master.

slvrball May 1797 - Hornor and his men in their newly completed saw mill, sawed the first boards from the virgin timber of Blenheim Twp. That Christmas of 1797 Hornor spent with his friend Robert Beasly MP at Burlington Bay. While there the two men sent a letter to the Newark Government to ask if they would sell Hornor the reserved land lot 16, concession 1 as his mill pond is beginning to cover some of the lot.

slvrball March 22, 1798 - Thomas Hornor was appointed Captain of the Norfolk Militia. (Oxford and Norfolk at that time were joined.) The first two recorded settlers arrived in Blenheim Twp.; John Galbraith on lot 2 and Samuel Martin on lot 8 on Governors Road.

slvrball July 16, 1800 - Thomas Hornor was appointed Registrar of Deeds for Oxford and Middlesex Counties. That summer he built his own house from boards sawed in his own mill. He was made a Justice of the Peace with authority to conduct marriages. Also that year he received word that he would never become owner of Blenheim Twp., even though he had built his saw mill and planned in the near future to build a griss mill and establish a settlement as agreed upon with Gov. John G. Simcoe. Meanwhile, the opposition government was elected and Hornor finally received a copy of the minutes of the Executive Council of Upper Canada dated Aug. 14, 1795. It indicated quite clearly the Hon. Peter Russell was not interested in any agreement made between Thomas Hornor and Gov. Simcoe. Thomas Hornor kept his commitment, the Government of the day did not.

slvrball March 22, 1801 - Hornor now aged 34, married 17 year old Olive Baker, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Baker, a Baptist family living on lot 9 Blenheim Twp. Their wedding ceremony was performed by Thomas Ingersoll J.P.

slvrball August 16, 1802 - Thomas Hornor became a father to his first son Thomas Joseph Hornor. With boards sawed in his own mill, Hornor and his men now began to build what is believed to be the first Griss Mill in Oxford County.

slvrball August 3, 1803 - Hornor received a warning letter from the Quakers threatening to expel him if he continued his military ideas and views.

slvrball June 16, 1806 - Hornor was appointed Deputy Lieut. of Oxford County. That same summer he commenced building a Griss Mill at Centreville, west of Woodstock. The area is now a Conservation area.

slvrball 1809 - Hornor’s Griss Mill west of Princeton burned. This mill was located west of the barn best known as the “Frank Jennie” farm.

slvrball August 28, 1810 - Hornor entered into an agreement with John Tenbrook of Princeton, N.J. to purchase for $97,498.00 in U.S.A. currence 104 Tracts of Land in Warren County, P.A.

slvrball 1811 - He built a new cottage on the N.W. corner of lot 9, south side of the Governors Road ( Burford Twp.), on property that belonged to his wife’s father Sam Baker.

slvrball 1812 - Thomas Hornor always remained deeply loyal to the British, yet at the commencement of the War of 1812, he was represented to Sir Isaac Brock as a person not to be trusted and not very loyal. Ensign H. Bostwick of Norfolk Co., was appointed Lieut-Col. over the Oxford Militia and Hornor was left unemployed. Despite this indignity he was determined to render his country whatever help he could arrange. He proceeded to Mohawk Village (now Brantford), mustered 75 Indian warriors and marched to near the scene of the American hostilities at Detroit. Here he remained with his Indian friends for several weeks, ready to be called into battle if required. Later when they were discharged, Hornor paid the whole expense of this expedition out of his own pocket and to date no record has been found showing the government of that era compensated him for his outlay.

slvrball About 1814 - Hornor is believed to have donated an acre of his land for a burial ground. This site for the White mans burial is about 40 yds east of the Indian burial ground on the west side of Hornor’s Creek which was disturbed when the Governors Road was constructed.

slvrball 1818 - Middlesex County opened their own Registry Office but Hornor continued to be the Registrar for Oxford.

slvrball 1820 - Thomas Hornor was the first to be elected to Parliament in this area. By that year there were 311 persons in Blenheim Twp. In 1850 there were 2,000.

slvrball January 4, 1822 - Hornor attended the first Blenheim Twp. meeting held at the log school house which was located in the area of the present mausoleum near the east side of the enlarged Princeton Cemetery. It was at this meeting that the first election of Blenheim Twp. officers took place.

slvrball June 18, 1822 - Hornor received the commission of Colonel on this date.

slvrball March 6, 1820 - A patent was granted to Thomas Hornor on his invention of the horse power machine, which he shared with a man named Keys.

slvrball May 1, 1831 - Col. Thomas Hornor J.P. attended and signed as a guest at the wedding of Jacob Hess Sr. and Roda Rouse Pelton. the minister in charge of the ceremony was Jacob Goble. The wedding took place in the little old log building known as the Free Communion Baptist Church of Blenheim. It was located we are told on the north side of the Governor’s Road in the front field of the Baptist parents of Mrs. Thomas Hornor (Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Baker). In 1831 when this marriage took place it was the property of Thomas J. Hornor and later it became the property of Mr. & Mrs. Henry Hornor, another grandson of the Bakers. This church was close to the road and almost opposite the residence of Mr. & Mrs. E. Barker.

slvrball August 4, 1834 - Col. Thomas Hornor died of cholera, and his resting place is the Princeton Cemetery in a section of land that he had donated. His grave stone and several of his family are located on the west side of the west driveway about half way north to the rear of the cemetery. Following the death of her husband, Olive Baker Hornor lived for 19 years in the cottage with her son Stacy. After the death of her son Henry in 1854, she moved into the large stone house across the Governors Road to the north and there she remained with her daughter-in-law Elizabeth Charlton (Henry’s widow). Olive Hornor died in her 83rd year on February 8, 1866.

slvrball September 24, 1961 - On this date a plaque was unveiled on No. 2 Highway in front of the Princeton Cemetery by the Ontario Archaeological and Historical Sites Board. The Princeton and Woodbury Women’s Institute and the Princeton Board of Trade co-operated in sponsoring the erection of this plaque in memory of this man who had contributed so much to this district, Col. Thomas Hornor. The unveiling was performed by his great great grandaughter Mrs. Gordon Greig of Brantford, Ontario.

Willard Tottle of Brantford, Ontario compiled this information and it is used with his permission.

Updated May 29, 2009