204 THE PIONEERS OF OLD ONTARIO
first burial in Chesterfield cemetery was that of a little child of Robert Brown, who afterwards moved to Kincardine. No minister was avail-able, but the neighbours gathered by the grave-side and stood with bared heads beneath the overhanging trees, while Father Baird read a chapter and Father Scott led in prayer and then all joined in singing a Psalm.
"This was not the only case in which the pioneers provided their own religious services. Every Sabbath day a community prayer meeting was held in Chesterfield schoolhouse and a Sunday school was conducted for parents and children alike. Half-yearly visits were paid by the Rev. Mr. Ritchie, and during these visits marriages were solemnized and the rite of baptism administered to children. I have seen as many as thirty children baptized in one day "
And the Elliotts and Shearers who saw all this—who moved into unbroken forests where there were no schools, no churches, and but few neighbours—lived to see the day when from the Elliott farm alone the cash sales ran up to three thousand dollars a year, and the value of all farm property in Oxford was placed at thirty-two millions. With this increase in wealth came the blessings of a community life enriched by churches, schools, and all the other adjuncts of the advanced civilization rural Ontario enjoys to-day.
CONTENDING WITH MUD
Each district in Ontario had its own peculiar form of hardships in the early days. On the