Talk of annexation of part of Puslinch Township began in Guelph in 1964. On January 1,
1966, Guelph gobbled up the Brock Road Section of Puslinch almost entirely, coming south
as far as Clair Road. On January 1, 1993, the city took another enormous bite, claiming
land south to Maltby Road. The most recent annexation contained the land settled by
the first settler in Puslinch. Heritage Guelph has been documenting the property before
it is turned into subdivision. The following article was written for our newsletter by P.
Brian Skerrett, Chair of Heritage Guelph, who has researched the family extensively.
What happened to the first family of Puslinch Township?
Humphrey Lowarch is well documented as the first settler in Puslinch Township although
we should recognize the Lowarch family as the first settlers. Humphrey’s wife Sinah and
children Maria and David were partners in the history of Lots 13, Concession 7 and 13,
Concession 8 and not enough can be said in this short piece to recognize the brief decade
of their lives in Puslinch. Marjorie Clark has written excellent pieces on their settlement
but one question remains; how did a family, who simply by being first settlers should be
household names in the township, disappear from place and memory after 1837? Even
settlers later quoted in oral histories refer vaguely to “the Welshman” and Lowarch himself
appears to be more legend than historical figure.
The collective evidence that Humphrey Lowarch was the first settler here in 1828 is well
established. And that his death, a few years later, was the first death in the township is
also well documented. While some oral accounts place his death as three years after his
arrival, his name still appears in the 1833 census so that appears too early. After his
daughter Maria married James Warren circa 1832 I note that Warren is listed in the same
census data as living on Lowarch’s Concession 8 lot. It seems reasonable to conclude
Lowarch was alive in 1833. The likely answer to his date of death comes from an April
1836 petition from Sinah Lowarch to the government to sever her property. It states that
“the petitioner’s husband, is dead now better than a year” which would suggest Lowarch
probably died in the early months of 1835.
The purpose of that petition was to address a bureaucratic blunder. When Humphrey
originally registered the lots, he wasn’t issued two deeds and instead the lots were merged
into one property. And as the family was still paying off the land, neither lot was owned
outright. Sinah petitioned the government to allow her to sever the single property into
two so that she might sell her rights to one lot in order to retain the other. This permission
was granted by an Order in Council on May 11, 1837.
Puslinch Township records nothing more of the family after 1837. But other records show
they did persevere. Sinah, with her son David, daughter Maria (now Maria Warren), son-in
law David Warren, and their daughters Sarah and Asenath (also called Sina, after her
grandmother) left for the United States in about 1837 or 1838. Maria and David’s son,
David Warren, was born in 1841, likely in the U.S.
Humphrey Lowarch’s wife Sinah and son David both died in 1849, and were likely interred
in Gulfport, Illinois. Sara and Sina married into the Donahoo and Crook families.
And whither Humphrey Lowarch?
His death in 1835 occurred before the establishment of any local cemetery so he was
buried on his own property, likely Con. 7. We know he was buried in a spot where a
subsequent owner, Adam Weir, established an orchard. That orchard, at least in part, was
where Heritage House sits today.
Humphrey Lowarch’s remains have never been found or exhumed. Long after his death the
legend that his ghost would appear caused settlers to gallop their horses along this part
the Brock Road when passing along at night.
In recognition of the family’s role as the first settlers of Puslinch Township, it is hoped
that Humphrey Lowarch, his wife Sina and their children, along with other settlers, will
be memorialized by the City of Guelph as it pursues development of these lands formerly
in Puslinch township.
With gratitude to, and files from, Marjorie Clark, Mary Tivy, Puslinch Historical Society,
Wellington County Museum and Archives.
Another family, which arrived in Puslinch early in our history is that of Johannes Weiss
(b.1785) and his wife, Catherina Salome Baumgartner (b. July 4, 1789 in Altenheim, Baden,
Photo courtesy of Patrick Wyse
They were married in Altenheim on Oct. 21, 1810 and emigrated in the autumn of 1816,
following the death of their baby daughter, Catherina, on September 2, 1816. A son,
Andrew, was born in London, England on January 1, 1817. By 1820, the family was living
in New York State, as another son, Benjamin, was born there on Feb. 7, 1820. A daughter,
Mary was born in 1834. The family came to Puslinch in 1827. Their name has been
variously written as Weiss, Wyse and Wise.
THIS SPRING 2020:
All meetings and events cancelled due to Covid19.
The Archives is closed until further notice.