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Borders & Frontiers (1800-1820)

William Grange's Portrait

William Grange Portrait

A mid-19th Century portrait of Napanee's William Grange

Before the United Empire Loyalists settled the Bay of Quinte townships, the First Nations People named the falls "Appanea". With the arrival of Loyalist refugees in the wake of the American Revolution, the falls were a natural location for a mill. Millwright Robert Clark, U.E., was commissioned to build a saw and grist mill below the falls. In 1785, after clearing two acres of treed growth below the escarpment, Robert Clark and his workmen began erecting a log saw mill. The following year, the grist mill was built using plank sawn at the log mill. 1787 was a year of poor crops, yielding little grain to grind at the new mill. Combined with withdrawal of government rations, settlers faced the spectre of famine. DISCOVER MOREReadmore Arrow

In 1792, Richard Cartwright, U.E., a prosperous Kingston merchant, purchased the mills. Cartwright's search for a capable millwright to make some needed improvements to the mills, lead him to Syracuse, New York, where four young men of the Grange family settled.

John Grange and his brother Robert, along with their cousins, Robert and Reuben, left Scotland in 1794 for New York State by way of Montreal. John brought with him a letter of recommendation from the Minister in the Parish of Colmonell, Ayshire, Scotland. He also brought family mementos, including a Love Spoon from his father who remained in Scotland. Note the punch mark on the stem, and the initials engraved on the spoon's handle.

John made an agreement with Cartwright to come to Napanee in 1795. In 1799, John Grange married Nancy McKim, the youngest daughter of Sergeant James McKim, U.E., who settled near Bath when Jessups Rangers were demobilized. Nancy may have accompanied her father on his trips to the mill at Napanee where John Grange was millwright. John and Nancy's second child, William, born December 20th, 1802, is reputed to be the first white child born at the falls in Napanee.

After concluding his engagement with Mr. Cartwright, John purchased 200 acres of land just north of Napanee. To his disappointment, Cartwright had reserved the water power along the Napanee River and Grange had to build a saw mill on a stream crossing his farm. The stream had enough flow to turn the water wheel but, as the land was cleared, water flow was reduced producing insufficient power except in the spring freshet.

William married Ann Wilkinson in 1827. He gave Ann an emerald engagement ring. Family tradition relates that William rode to his own wedding on horseback. In 1841, William and Ann built a stone house on the lot adjacent to his father's house where William's brother, Thomas, lived.

William and his brothers, James and Thomas, established a drug store on the southwest corner of Dundas and John Streets in Napanee. William and Ann's sons, John T. and Alexander W., joined their father as druggists. When the drugstore burned in 1857, William and Thomas purchased the property across the street and by 1860, had built a large brick building. A crock from the store depicts a hand painted floral decoration with the store's name and location impressed below the lid. The Grange drugstore continued in this location until the beginning of the 20th century.

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