This handsome home dates from Carnegie's heyday.©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko
Before the days of rural mail delivery, the countryside was dotted with small postal hamlets. They were badly needed. In the days of horse and buggy travel, these tiny settlements provided a vital link between the farming community and the outside world.
Over time, many of these communities grew to become small service and supply centres that included the usual general store and blacksmith. Those that were fortunate enough to be located close to a good source of water power and had a nearby railway station, were generally able to attract a number of mills and other small industries, and eventually become prosperous. However, the majority were not so fortunate. Carnegie PO, located on Lot 24, Concession 7 in Elderslie Township, probably never had aspirations of greatness. It started out as a small post office and never grew beyond that.
Samuel Ewart, his wife Jannet, and their family of six hailed from Moffat, Dumfrieshire, Scotland. After arriving in Canada in 1856, they purchased Lots 24 and 25 on the sixth concession from the Gillies family and began to clear the land and build a log home. As more settlers arrived in the area, a small log school, U.S.S. No. 6, Elderslie and Sullivan, was opened in 1857. The Ewart's son, Archibald, was one of the first teachers, before settling down to a life of farming.
Other early settlers who left their mark on the area were the Clements family. Thomas Clements was already in his late sixties when he, his wife and their five children left Ireland to start a new life in Canada. Tragically Mrs. Clements died during the voyage. More heartache followed when one of their daughters died upon their arrival in Toronto. Thomas and his four children carried on, eventually arriving at Concession 10, Elderslie, to clear their land and establish their new home. Once they were settled, they built a small log schoolhouse, where Thomas, quite remarkably, served as the teacher until the age of 91. In 1862 they helped to establish a small church that became known as the Clements Methodist Church.
In the early days of settlement, the Clements church was about the only church in the immediate vicinity of Carnegie. Known officially as the Clements Methodist Episcopal Church, it was located on the 10th line, Lot 25 in Elderslie. The church was initially organized by Reverend Francis Finn in 1862. They worshipped in various homes until a small frame church was officially opened on February 8th, 1863. The church, which also included a drive shed, was built on William Clements' farm. Early preachers included a lay minister and schoolteacher, John Calhoun, and Reverend Joseph Henry Hilts, who wrote in detail about the travails of a backwoods preacher.
In 1882 the different branches of the Methodist Church merged to form the Methodist Church of Canada (later United Church). A new circuit was arranged which eventually led to the construction of a new church at Dobbinton. The Clements Church was officially closed on January 29, 1893, the same day the new Dobbinton church was opened. One piece of the Clements Church to survive was the drive shed that was moved alongside the new church.
By the early 1860s, the area was well-settled and Samuel Ewart sensed the need for a nearby post office. Samuel, along with many of the other farmers, must have been growing tired of making semi-regular trips over to Paisley to pick up their mail. Carnegie gained official status when the post office opened in Samuel Ewart's log home on August 1, 1863. Now the tables were turned and the mail was brought in by courier from Paisley. Sam still had to set aside his farm work, and run over to the house to meet the courier, collect the mail and sign off on the paperwork.
There were few other services in the Carnegie area. The closest store could be found in the nearby hamlet of Dobbington. Thomas Bearman Jr., whose father Thomas Bearman owned the mills in Scone, set up a sawmill on his farm, located on Lot 25, Concession 7. Bearman did custom sawing as well as general farming.
Samuel Ewart passed away in 1870. For the next few years, the post office was operated by his son Thomas. By this time the farm had expanded and in addition to running the busy farm, Thomas also became involved in logging interests. Income from running the post office, at $10 per year, was not significant, and with less and less time on his hands, Thomas decided to close the post office. Various dates have been given as to its closure however the official record shows as June 17, 1879. With the closing of the post office Carnegie's brief moment in history came to an end. Postal services were transferred over to the post office in Gillies Hill.
Descendants of the Ewart family continued to play a large role in Elderslie Township affairs for many years. Archibald Ewart served as reeve from 1874 - 76. His son, Samuel Kerr (S.K.), also served as reeve from 1910-13 and as secretary for "The Red School" from 1907 - 1938. In addition to his community work, S.K. Ewart was also president of the Gillies Hill Telephone Company from 1908 to 1943. Thomas' son, Samuel Malcolm, (S.M.) enjoyed a similarly long run as township treasurer from 1902-41.
U.S.S. No. 6, known as "The Red School" continued to thrive as an integral part of the community for many years. The original log school was replaced in 1875 with a new frame building. That lasted until 1904, when a large, two-storey brick schoolhouse was built at a cost of $1,695. The building was also used for Community Sunday School classes, taught by W.D. Bell and later James Cass, from 1910 - 18.
A number of improvements were made to the schoolhouse over the years. The well was replaced in 1935 and in 1947 a furnace was added and the grounds were enlarged. Additional landscaping, including a number of attractive trees were also added. The school was closed in the mid 1960s and purchased by a couple with a young family who had recently lost their home in a fire. The building, which still retains the original floor plan, has been lovingly preserved both inside and out. Besides the school, little else remains of Carnegie, other than a number of attractive farm houses.