Tuesday, 1 November 2016

John Cassel's Homesteading Adventure

 John and Margaret Cassel farmed and had family in the Sharbot Lake area of Ontario as detailed in this blog post.  

Their daughter Mary Elizabeth (Lizzie) was married to Sydney "Warner" Asselstine in Ontario in 1888 and they with a young daughter had moved west to homestead on 12-13-29 W1 in 1900. Leaving home must have been difficult but it held the promise of free land to those who broke the prairie soil and lived on it for three years.   Perhaps it is father or brother of Warner's, Peter Asselstine, who is mentioned on several of the homestead documents that I found in the Manitoba Archives in Winnipeg, so they were with family at least.  

Reports back home must have been positive since John, his son William, daughter-in-law Agnes and their children Gertie and Ernie made their way to Fleming, Saskatchewan (then Northwest Territory) and attempted to make entry on NE 24-13-29 W1, just east of Manson.  Records on microfilm show that men by the name of Switzer and Benson were ahead of John in line for this land so they continued to search for their own piece.  Not every quarter was available for the homestead grant, many would have had to be purchased for cash from the railway or Hudson's Bay or even the University of Manitoba.  
  John's letter above from May 21, 1902 says: 
Dear sir I learn that section 14 township 13 range 28 is to be homested I aply for the SW1/4
John Cassel
Fleming N W T

William, Agnes and John actually settled on the SE of 14-13-28 in 1903 and broke 8 acres that year.  In 1905, they applied for adjoining land in John's name, the NW quarter of the same section. Starting in May 1905, John states that he had a small frame house worth $120 to live in for 7 or 8 months of the year as the Memo below shows that was submitted with his request for the title in 1907. Presumably, he lived with William and Agnes in a more substantial home for the winter months. After three years of working this land, a total of 30 acres was broken and 20 was cropped.  Homestead patent was granted to John on March 2, 1908.

If this seems like a huge risk and undertaking for anyone, remember that we believe John was born in 1832 making him 75 years old in 1907. It seems safe to say that he was certainly not a man afraid of hard work. He died on March 16, 1909 and is buried in Elkhorn Cemetery.    

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