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Mount Horeb

History

Town site photo

The Mount Horeb Cemetery

©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko

Mount Horeb, located in Ops Township, got its beginnings as a small farming settlement in the 1820s and 30s. The original settlers included William and Robert Reynolds from Tipperary Ireland, Duncan Fisher and the Skuce Brothers. By 1840 a small community had been established and by the 1860s, it had grown into a sizeable hamlet with a population of about 50. The first school was built around 1850.

A Methodist church and cemetery were built in 1861 on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. James Southam. The cemetery and likely the church were shared by both the Wesleyan and New Connexion Methodists, both of whom were active in the area before the Methodist Church merger in 1884. Reverend N. Burns was the Wesleyan minister and Reverend S. Gundy, the New Connexion minister.

By 1863, William Smith had opened the first post office. A new school, to replace the original structure, was built in 1864. In 1863, William Smith opened the first post office. By 1865 there was a blacksmith, Adam Kennedy and a hotel, operated by William Ray. William Reynolds took over the post office in 1867. Although records show he was postmaster until 1914, this is simply not possible, considering he was born in 1811. Either the records are incorrect, or possibly the post office was taken over at some point by his son William Reynolds Jr. In 1869, James Lindsay, who also a mason and plasterer, had taken over the hotel and Thomas Lees, a long-time mainstay of the village, took over the blacksmith shop.

Alexander Feir was an experienced millwright who had immigrated to Canada from Ireland in the mid 1830s, while still in his teens. Feir lived just east of the village where he had a farm on Lot 2, Concession 10. In the early 1870s, he constructed a large grist mill in what later became the small mill site of Feir Mills. Once the mill became established, the Feirs worked continuously at expanding the operation. What started out as a small flour mill grew to include a saw and shingle mill, operated by Alexander and his son Isaiah. During the 1880s, Alexander and his wife Jane moved from their nearby farm to Mount Horeb, from where he continued his milling operations.

By the mid 1880s, Mount Horeb had grown to about 100 people. By 1875, the village had already outgrown the second school and it was replaced with a much larger brick structure, U.S.S. No. 12. Other residents included a George Caldwell, a blacksmith, Richard Lees, who operated a tannery and Ham Magahey, who sold insurance. Long-time resident, James Skuce worked as a fur dealer. According to several sources, William Elliott took over the post office around 1884, operating it from his general store. A second church, the Hebron Church, was built in the area in 1884. That church lasted until 1902, when it joined with the Mount Horeb Church, which had been completely renovated in 1895.

As with most small farming hamlets, Mount Horeb slipped back during the 20th century. Feir's Mills continued to operate for a lengthy period until 1965, when the area was sold to a Bible Camp. The old brick school was destroyed by fire in 1921. The following year it was replaced with a new school that was used until 1966. The school still stands and is now a private residence. Mount Horeb still stands as a proud, tiny hamlet and continues to support a small farm-based population. The United Church remains active and still holds regular services.