A Collection of Foggy Day Rambles
If you take a walk down to the Four Mile Creek behind Applewood Hollow you will notice a wooded rise on the opposite bank. On the top of the ridge, nestled in the forest is the homestead site of Daniel Servos. In 1778 brothers Jacob and Daniel Servos fled their homes along the Charolotte River near Schoharie, New York following the murder of their father Thomas during the upheaval of the American Revolution.
Barely escaping with their lives, many loyalist families made an eight month journey to Fort Niagara arriving on a bitter cold day in March 1779. Within a year there were close to 6,000 refugees seeking shelter at the fort which was still in British hands. In 1781 the deed was signed between first nations chiefs and the British crown for a four-mile wide strip of land running from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. The four First Nations chiefs who signed the land deed chose the white oak, on the side of the trail that is now Lakeshore Rd, to mark one of the boundaries in the deed. On Lakeshore Rd. at Fireman 2 you can still see the giant oak tree under which the treaty was signed in 1781. In return, the natives received 300 suits of clothing from the British.
Political confusion and tensions grew as high ranking military and British officials were given priority when deciding the land grants. Lt. David Brass built the original Kings Mills in 1783. The saw mill was located close to the mouth of the Four Mile Creek and the grist mill on top of the ridge close to the house, imperial government store and barns. Daniel Servos was granted 400 acres along the Four Mile Creek and began operating the mill shortly after. The land along the former lake bed was primarily old growth forest, a massive undertaking to clear. On average it would take a full year to clear and prepare three acres for planting. Most of the hard work of clearing fell to those who were enslaved or settlers willing to barter their services in exchange for milling lumber and providing essentials such as flour, oil and dry goods. The mill quickly became a strategic centre for commerce in Upper Canada. Bateaux from Montreal and York ( Toronto ) landed at the wharf at the mouth of the Four Mile Creek and traded dry goods for lumber and luxurious furs that were in high demand in Europe. The footings of the Imperial Government store can still be found hidden under a dense thicket of wild berries and brambles.
Palatine Hill was also the social hub as the Servos family was highly respected in all levels of society. In the 1800’s it was a strategic destination for enslaved freedom seekers who found safety and employment at the mill. The threshold stone of their front door was often crossed by men of great distinction and still marks the spot almost 230 years.