Abraham E. Reesor

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Abraham E. Reesor

Birthplace: Markham Township, York, Ontario, Canada
Death: January 05, 1855 (39)
Markham Township, York, Ontario, Canada
Place of Burial: Markham, York Regional Municipality, Ontario, Canada
Immediate Family:

Son of Peter Reesor and Esther Reesor (Eby)
Husband of Christena K. Monkhouse
Father of Isaac Reesor; Elizabeth Reesor; Flavius Joseph Reesor; Mary Reesor; Abraham Reesor and 1 other
Brother of Veronica (Fanny) Raymer; Elizabeth White; Christian Reesor; John Eby Reesor; Esther Armstrong and 5 others
Half brother of Veronica Reesor

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About Abraham E. Reesor

History of Cherrywood

Abraham Reesor was born in 1815 and died in 1855. He married Miss Shunk from Vaughan. He had two hundred acres of land on Lot 34, concession 3 and also one hundred acres across the third concession which was later worked by Edgar Pilkey. When he divided his land Flavius got the north part and Isaac the south half. His children were Annie, Elizabeth, Flavius, Mary, Abraham, Isaac.

Wilbur S. Reesor, President, Reesor Family Reunion 24 June 1950, "THE REESOR FAMILY IN CANADA: Genealogical & Historical Records 1804-1950," p. 76:

"ABRAHAM REESOR built and operated a mill at Altona, and was also a successful farmer, owning at least 400 acres of land in Pickering Twp. Many of his descendants are school teachers and nurses, and one was a minister


The little hamlet of Altona, named for a city in Germany, lies in the far northwest corner of the City of Pickering. The area was first settled by Mennonites from Pennsylvania. Many of the area's current residents are descendants of those original Mennonite pioneers.

The hamlet itself got its start in the year 1850 with the erection of three public buildings and the planing of another. Entrepreneurs Abraham Reesor, Joseph Monkhouse, and William Cooper built a mill, a store, and an inn, while the Mennonites set in motion plans for the building of a new meetinghouse.

Few hamlets or villages can date then beginnings as precisely as can Altona. Until 1850 the only public or industrial building that existed at the juncture of Pickering Township's Sideline 30 and Uxbridge Township's Second Concession Road was a log schoolhouse.

In the year 1850 three entrepreneurs—Abraham Reesor. Joseph Monkhouse and William Cooper—created the nucleus of the hamlet of Altona with the building of a mill, a store, and a hotel.

Illustration: The Altona Inn as it would have looked in 1850.

Reesor's Mill

Abraham Reesor (1815-1855) was the son of immigrants Peter Reesor (1775-1854) and Esther Eby. In 1804 the Reesor family, headed by Christian Reesor, Peter's father, made the trek in a Conestoga wagon from Pennsylvania to Markham.1 They were among the early settlers of Markham Township. The Reesors were part of an extensive Mennonite migration to Markham, part of which spilled over into western Pickering Township.

In 1850 Abraham Reesor, who farmed Lot 34, Concession 3 in Pickering Township (down by Cherrywood), built two mills, a flour mill and a saw mill, at the north end of Lot 30, Concession 9 in Pickering township.2 However, just five years after he started the mills he died of typhoid fever. Joseph Monkhouse married his widow and ran the mills for awhile until Christina died, then Abraham's and Christina's son, Abraham, Jr., took over the operations. After the Reesors the mill went through a series of hands until it burned to the ground in 1944.

Monkhouse's Store

Joseph Monkhouse (c1826-1903) originally came to Canada West in 1849 to operate a store in Stouffville, but he soon came to the north end of Pickering Township to join his brother Thomas. Here he established a business which was to be widely hailed during his lifetime, and which would last for almost a century. The business was a store, which Joseph created in 1850. It was here in 1853 that the Post Office was opened with Joseph as the first Postmaster.3 It would have been at that time that a name was chosen for the post office, and therefore of the little hamlet that was taking shape around it.

When Joseph Monkhouse left to run the Reesor Flour Mill, sometime after 1857, his brother Thomas stepped in to take over the daily operation of the store. He was the chief clerk and also the Postmaster until he died in 1886. After a few yens the business was so successful that the old two-storey building was torn down and a new three-storey building was erected in its place in 1865.

Once Joseph Monkhouse's duties as miller ceased he turned to farming. He purchased Lot 32, Concession 9, and there carried on a successful farming operation. He also took up politics and served on the township council for 10 years. A measure of his stature may be taken from his election to several terms as Reeve of the township (1884-1887) as well as a stint as county Warden (1887). 4 When Thomas died in 1886. Joseph left off farming and returned to the store. Monkhouse died in 1903 and the business was taken over by his son Willis who continued the business until 1937. This building, too, eventually succumbed to the flames.

Cooper's Inn

In the same year that Abraham Reesor was building the mills and Joseph Monkhouse was creating his store, both near the southeast corner of Altona, William Cooper was erecting the Altona Inn on the northeast comer of the intersection. The hotel was a mainstay in Altona for 60 years before it fell victim to the Temperance Movement.

In Pickering the concessions were laid out from Lake Ontario, so concession roads run east-west, the north-south roads being referred to as sidelines. Uxbridge, on the other hand, was laid out from Yonge Street and so its concession roads run north and south. Where Sideline 30 in Pickering meets the Second Concession Road in Uxbridge at the Uxbridge-Pickering Townline lies the hamlet of Altona, equally divided between Pickering and Uxbridge. The former Altona Inn is situated on the northeast corner of this intersection, on the Uxbridge side of the road.

The village of Claremont in Pickering lies to the east and a little south—about seven kilometres, while Stouffville is about the same distance to the west and a little north. One 19th century writer referred to Altona as "the eastern suburb of Stouffville."5 Indeed, the citizens of Altona have always related more to Stouffville than to either Uxbridge or Pickering.

There is no evidence that any structure had been built on the northeast corner of what became the hamlet of Altona before 1850. When William Cooper purchased the property in 1850 it was with a view to constructing an inn. This was to be one of eight that existed in Uxbridge at mid-century. As McBurney and Byers stated in Tavern in the Town:

Uxbridge was founded by Pennsylvania Germans and Quakers, and from earliest times, when John Plank built the first tavern there, business and drinking flourished. By mid-century there were eight taverns in Uxbridge Township and, in the free-and-easy spirit of the times, people as young as fifteen years were allowed to drink in them.6

Cooper's inn was in a strategic location — about mid-way along the east-west route between Claremont and Stouffville. It would serve as a stopping place for weary travellers and as a meeting place for local residents.

Inns were an important institution in pioneer society and were often among the first structures to be erected. For travellers on their way to their new homesteads, or on their way to market, or, of course, on many another journey, inns were places for lodging, dining, and drinking, and for the refreshing and/or stabling of horses. And because travel was slow and tedious inns were frequent along the roads and spaced at convenient intervals. For community purposes inns were often the only public buildings available for meetings or social gatherings. It was here that dances were held, politics was discussed, and all the local and distant news was exchanged.7

William Cooper was 60 years old when he established the Altona Inn. He maintained it, possibly with the help of his son James, for five years before retir-

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Abraham E. Reesor's Timeline

February 5, 1815
Markham Township, York, Ontario, Canada
August 6, 1840
January 16, 1843
Pickering Township, Ontario, Canada
July 4, 1845
January 5, 1855
Age 39
Markham Township, York, Ontario, Canada
Cedar Grove Mennonite Cemetery, Markham, York Regional Municipality, Ontario, Canada