Shirley McClure (editor) wrote this interesting story based on notes from Mrs. Vic Dudgeon, a family descendent, for the Bruce County Historical Society’s 1994 Yearbook.
James and Hannah Bearman emigrated to Canada from England in 1818. His grandson, Robert came to the Scone area in 1869. He had the first electric light plant in Scone, generating enough electricity to supply the nearby village of Chesley. The power was turned on only from 6 am to daylight and from dusk to midnight.
In 1877, he married Clara McGaw and lived in Chesley across from the Krug factory. Two of their sons fought in the Boer War and on their safe return, school children were given a half holiday.
Thomas, the second son of James and Hannah, had purchased 1700 acres of Crown Land in the adjoining townships of Sullivan and Elderslie. In 1854, he and his wife, Eliza, left friends and comforts of the Ottawa valley to venture forth to the unknown of the Queen’s Bush. From Owen Sound they followed a blazed trail through the bush to the Saugeen River at Scone. His first concern was to build a shelter for his family and get his crops planted. Next, he created a log dam across the River and erected a saw mill to prepare lumber for the building boom which was taking place in the area.
He soon added a grist mill to grind settlers’ grain, a carding mill to process wool from their flocks, a tannery to cure hides and a factory to make potash from the ashes of trees from clearings. Men with their families soon flocked to the area to work in the bustling industries or to start businesses of their own. Scone became a thriving village. Thomas and Eliza had seven children.
Thomas built a big white brick house out of the finest materials available on their land. They raised turkeys that were fattened on beech nuts. In early winter, they were killed and dressed, but then buried in snowbanks to provide a variety of meals for the working men throughout the long winter months. Thomas set up a local school and agitated for a regional railway.
He died in 1899 and is buried in Chesley Cemetery with wife and family.
The original article was abridged by Bob Johnston