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The farms on McClung are steeped in history

December 16, 2016

Barbara A. Martindale- For What It's Worth

Another McClung Road farm dates back to the 1840s


An auction sale at 69 McClung Road brought to the fore historic beginnings. Until recently, the farm belonged to Bob, the late Leone Slack, and family.


This farm on the west side of McClung Road will be part of the new development. At one time, it was pioneered by James Patterson, the son of Robert and Margaret Cummings. James purchased the land from his father in 1892.


The 1879 Atlas shows this land belonging to Dr. Wm. McCargo. Robert purchased it from Dr. McCargo in 1882. In fact, the deed lists Dr. McCargo's wife as the owner.


To begin the Patterson lineage, Robert and his brother, David, of Scotland settled in Seneca about 1841. They bought the first farm east of Caledonia, which would have been on the east side of McClung Road. Robert's farm was directly behind David's farm that was said to be on the river.


Seneca Village was still very much in business in 1841 and the only bridge crossing the river was at this spot until it was carried away by flood waters. A few years later, in 1844, the bridge crossing in Caledonia would be the main reason for Seneca Village's decline.


In 1843, a school was built at the northwest corner of Seneca and King William Street.


Catherine McKinnon in 1859 was still teaching this No. 2 Seneca School and according to a Sachem report, it was a very comfortable school and the teacher was very good.


David and his wife, Janet Smith (of Oneida), had two boys and two girls. They built the brick house on the hill overlooking Highway 54 that still exists today.


Robert's family was made up of nine sons and two daughters, the oldest son being James.


James built up the farm where the auction sale was held last Saturday. James married Isobella Robertson of Caledonia and they had two sons, Andrew and Norman. In 1919, Norman married Myrtle Parker of Clifford, Ontario.


Norman built the brick house, with all kinds of character, in 1920. Clarence Hewitt was general contractor. Three children: Jean, Hugh and Murray, were raised on this farm.


Hugh Patterson, a retired electrician, has lived across McClung Road on his great-grandfather's farm, the original Robert Patterson farm, for more than 60 years. He served in WWII, returning home to marry Barbara Robinson (deceased) in 1948. His nine children are the fifth generation of Pattersons to have lived in the same house.


Hugh walked over to the auction sale, interested in what was going on and chatting about the farm's early start. The house and the outbuildings will be part of the demolition process to make room for new development. Hugh said he has fond memories of the farm. His parents had moved from this farm in 1967 to the Sutherland Street east home, which was destroyed by fire just this year. His sister, Jean, and brother, Murray, also lived in this Sutherland Street home. Tony and Dale Szalay owned the farm for a few years before selling to Bob Slack in about 1970.


Bob has moved into Caledonia to a small home on Sutherland Street west. The auction sale, he said, was a must at his age.

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