Friday, July 12, 2024

Remembering our forgotten places

Gloria Tubman presents the history of local geography at the Pontiac Archives

On Wednesday morning, Bristol native and genealogist, Gloria Tubman, gave a presentation at the Pontiac Archives in Shawville on the history of geographical name changes in the Pontiac. The powerpoint presentation was titled “Pontiacs Forgotten Places” and consisted of a collection of maps and community names that used to make up the Pontiac we live in and know today.
Opening her presentation, Tubman said “have you ever heard of the places: Annesley, Billerica, Inkerman or Havelock?” and then went into detail on all of the smaller communities that used to make up the municipalities now known as Onslow, Bristol, Clarendon and Thorne, with some mention of old communities in other parts of the Pontiac.
Tubman listed the communities that made up Onslow as Beechgrove, Mohr, Muldoon, Steele and Onslow Corners.
Bristol township used to be made up of the communities of Inkerman, Maryland, Billerica, McKee, Maple Ridge, Caldwell, Weirstead, Bristol Ridge, Doherty, Annesley, Rutledge and Church Lake.
Clarendon township used to be known as the communities of Clarendon Front, Center and North, as well as McCagg, Parkman, Morehead, Lawn, Murrells, Iron Gate, Tippins and Adam Elliots Lake.
Thorne was also a number of small communities that Tubman listed as Upper and Center Thorne, Greermount, Creemore, Rooney, Hodgins, Thornby, Sparling’s Lake and Gray’s Lake.
As well as other mentions of communities throughout the Pontiac such as O’Connell, Cawood, West Aylwin, Glenframe, Tancredia, Barry River, St. Basil and more, Tubmans’ compilation of geographical history in the Pontiac was very insightful.
Back in the beginning of community developments in the Pontiac, many of the names of towns and communities were often taken from families that had settled on the land, or the post master appointed in the area at the time, Tubman explained.
Each of these small communities was often accompanied by a communal meeting point of some sort. Whether that be a train stop, church, market or school.
There was a large turnout for the presentation, held in the basement of the Pontiac Archives office, with not a single seat left vacant. Many local history buffs turned up to share their stories and memories of the “forgotten/ghost towns” as Tubman referred to them, as well as people who were just curious to learn some Pontiac history.
Tubman told THE EQUITY that she has always had a passion for researching and piecing together all the links between families, heritage sites and local history. Tubman spent many years specifically looking into the genealogy of Pontiac families. Through her research, Tubman wrote close to 150 articles for the Equity newspaper on the topic, and has done a number of presentations at the archives office over the years to share her findings.
During the presentation, Tubman explained that growing up in the Pontiac, she was raised knowing each of these places by their old names. The name changes that have occurred in the Pontiac happened because of the union of communities, and residents relocating.
Tubman also closed out her presentation saying that she understood that in certain places it made sense to change the names of roads and places in the Pontiac. She continued on to say that for volunteer firefighters and newcomers to the area, it would be hard to remember all the old nicknames the roads were known as. So renaming the areas ‘makes it a little easier for them.’ However, for “ The rest of us. We lost a part of our history,” Tubman said in reference to those who were raised knowing the road names as they were.
If you would like to learn more, all of the information presented by Tubman is available in a binder for public viewing at the archives.

Madelaine Methot
Shawvillle August 2, 2023

Gloria Tubman reminiscing with local history buffs Peter and Barb Haughton and Brian Tubman who came after her presentation at the Pontiac Archives on Wednesday.