Peter Hamilton Reesor
By Myra Chepack
The Reesor name is connected to the very roots of the Markham/Whitchurch-Stouffville/Scarborough area. Peter Hamilton Reesor (1867-1952) was the Markham Fair President in 1919 and was distinguishable from his predecessors by possessing a middle name.
Great-grandfather Peter (1775-1854), encouraged by his father Christian (1747-1806), initiated the migration of the Reesor clan from Pennsylvania to Canada, about 1801. In search of fertile land and a welcoming environment for the family’s Mennonite beliefs, he was sent to investigate the possibilities in Canada. While on this expedition he determined that land in what is now Cedar Grove was very suitable for their purposes. On this same trip he also secured 400 hundred acres in the Woodbine/Bloomington Rd. area by trading his horse and saddle to Frederick Baron-de Hoen, a Hesian soldier. This necessitated Peter undertaking a 500 mile walk home to Pennsylvania! In 1804 the Reesor families moved to Cedar Grove on the 10th Line of Markham. This is now Reesor Road where a stone cairn has been erected on the north side of Hwy. #7. A bronze plaque honouring the family is mounted on a mill stone from one of the mills the family owned and operated in the area. The barn Peter built on lot 3, conc. 9 in 1831 would stand as a Markham landmark until it was destroyed by fire in 1960. Peter and wife Esther Eby produced ten children, further expanding the Reesor family in Markham.
Grandfather Peter (1810-1887), was the sixth child and married Anna Hamilton in 1833. She was the daughter of John Hamilton, an Irish immigrant, who was granted land on Lot 30, Conc. 9 in Markham. The beautiful two story, brick house from that property was relocated to the Markham Heritage Estates, in 2015. Anna and Peter had nine children, the fourth being Jacob, who would become the father of our Fair president. The family name Peter was bestowed on the fifth child, thus making this trail a little easier to follow. Peter and Anna continued farming in Cedar Grove and are buried at the Locust Hill Cemetery.
Father Jacob (1839-1924) married Ann Steeper (1847-1919 ) and had four children. They farmed the north half of Lot 13, Conc. 7, which runs west from Markham Rd. behind the train station to McCowan. The municipal adress was 28 Station Street and the house was likely built in 1865, coinciding with his marriage of that same year. This section of land was purchased in 1837 from Wm. Johnson for 200 pounds. Jacob’s older brother Josepheus, farmed the south half of that property which was bought in 1805, also from Wm. Johnson for 330 pounds. The properties were purchased by Great Grandfather Peter and the original Crown Deed, printed on sheepskin parchment and bearing the seal of King George 111, resides in the Markham Museum.
Their eldest and only son was Peter Hamilton, born at the farm in July of 1867. Peter had two adopted sisters and a third who was scalded accidentally at an early age and presumably succumbed to her injuries. Peter married Lily Maude Ramsay (1870-1952) in 1890, whose father ran a hardware business in Unionville. They carried on farming the home farm on the north half of the above noted property but ultimately moved to municipal address 26 Station Street, around 1890. and had four children. Jacob Percy, the eldest, served in WW1 in artillery and returned wounded. Second son, Otto, died in infancy and the fourth child was Lloyd Vrooman Reesor , who married Betty Hodgens. The third child was Peter Max (1897 – 1971), who became something of a local celebrity. He was considered one of Markham’s best amateur athletes, excelling in hardball and hockey. He was invited to try out with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1931 and although he qualified, his age (34) prevented him from acquiring a position. In 1947, Peter Max was acknowledged by the OHA with the Golden Stick Award. He played in the OHA for 18 years and refereed for 20 years. He also served in WW1 for 4 years and was honoured by having his Military Medal pinned by Edward, Prince of Wales. Peter Max continued farming Lot 13, Conc. 7 after his father and grandfather before him. He was the last Reesor to work and live on this property at 28 Station Street until it was sold in 1950, over 100 years after it was purchased by the first Peter Reesor in Markham.
Peter Hamilton’s mother Ann Streeper died on September 29th, 1919, just a few days before the Fair over which her son would preside as President. He was a member of Markham Fair for fifty years and a member of the Ontario championship amateur baseball team of 1888. In his younger years, he was also a lacrosse and football player. The East York Conservative organization, in 1877, sponsored a huge Federal rally in Markham, attended by 5000 to 6000 people. A formal dinner was served at the Fairgrounds and upon completion of speeches, Sir John A. McDonald was escorted to the train station on Markham Main Street, only to find the local, young Liberals had derailed his private rail car! Peter Hamilton Reesor, as a boy of ten was witness to this prank. Peter and Ann were married a few days short of 62 years, with Anne passing two months prior to Peter Hamilton in March of 1952. It is believed he was a member of the Richardson Masonic Lodge and of the Scottish Rite.
His obituary refers to him being “the best known and most highly respected” of residents in the Village of Markham. He and his wife rest at Elmwood Cemetery in Markham.
The relationships used to clarify this article refer to those of Peter Hamilton Reesor
Once again, the Archives Committee sincerely thank the Curator and staff of Markham Museum for their invaluable assistance in researching this article and for providing the photos herein.