411 - Memorial Stone - Old Hay Bay Church - The Other Side TV

Extra Research for Season 4 – Episode 11 – Dark Water

29 August 1819
The Dead

Peter Lent Bogart (age 17) Elizabeth (Betsy) Clark
Mary Cole Mary Jerusha (age 20)
Jane Sophia Detlor (age 12) John (age 20) and Jane German (age 18)
Elizabeth (Betsy) McCay (Macoy) Huldah Madden
Matilda Roblin (age 18)


The Old Hay Bay Church is the oldest surviving Methodist building in Canada. It was erected in 1792 by settlers and United Empire Loyalists. When it no longer held services it was turned into a granary and operated that way for 50 years. It was re-opened as an historic site in 1912.


Way back on a Sunday morning in August of 1819 a special meeting of the Adolphustown church was called. People living north of the church had to cross the mile and a half wide Hay Bay in small boats. It was a beautiful day and the water was calm. With the exceptional amount of people wanting to attend the meeting there were more people than the skiff could hold. Some people felt it was unsafe to cross and refused to get on and others, feeling the same, got off. In the end, sixteen young people and two adults boarded. Ten would not survive the crossing.


Halfway cross the bay, with the young people singing hymns, it was noticed that the boat was leaking and was riding low in the water. Not able to find the bailing dish the men at the oars started to pull with all their strength.


Forty rods or 0.2 kilometers from the shore, Peter German (1795-1868 [older brother of John and Jane]) jumped out of the boat and inadvertently stepped on the edge of the boat tipping it allowing more water to pour in. The frightened ladies leaned to the other side causing even more water to flood in and flip the boat. Not being able to swim these young ladies clung to each other in the water causing them all to drown. John German (1798-1819), already swimming to shore, heard the cries of his younger sister Jane (1800-1819) and turned back to help but she had sank before he got there. In shock, he did not even try to swim to shore again, but swam randomly around the bay until he sank exhausted. His body was located some distance away the next day.


In their agony, family members watching the disaster on the shore are said to have torn their hair or clothing, rolled on the ground, while others seemed paralyzed at the sight. Nearby boats were asked to help in the rescue. Seven of the people clinging to the overturned boat were picked up.


John and Jane German were the children of Christopher “Stophel” German (1767-1840) and Catherine Van Orden (1770-1849) who watched everything from the shore. Catherine, a beautiful singer, was so distraught she was never heard to sing again. It is said that Peter Bogart, another victim, and Jane German were to have been married but, in struggling to save her, he lost his own.


— Joanne Schiavoni


Photo credit: Memorial Stone for those that died on that fateful day in August 1819

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