While growing up in California, I occasionally found myself at a large family gathering of the Travers clan. There could be six or seven individual family units in attendance and always a few kids my own age. I never really thought about how, or if, we were related.
Much later, when I started researching family history, I learned that my Grandma Harding’s mother was Ellen Agnes “Travers” and her grandfather was John “Travers”. I also discovered that Ellen and most of her 11 siblings were born in Traverston, Ontario, Canada.
What a coincidence! That there would be so many people named Travers in Traverston! There had to be a story there and this is what I found:
John Travers and Margaret Marie Cronan (my 2Gr-Grandparents) were married in 1856. They settled and began their family in Glenelg Township, Ontario, Canada (100 miles northeast of Toronto) where he built and operated a sawmill on the banks of the Rocky Saugeen River.
Around that same time, a couple of land speculators were attempting to create a new town in the area. The proposed community was to be called Waverley and according to an 1856 plot map of the town it included many small industries including a tannery, a machine shop, a sawmill, a cabinet and chair factory, and a flour mill.
In truth, however, the only enterprise that likely actually existed was Travers’ sawmill. As for the fate of all the other prospective residents and landholders of Waverley, that remains a bit of a mystery. No land was registered to anyone other than the would-be developers. Whether any money traded hands is unknown. Rumor suggests that there may have been some kind of swindle but nothing more is known for sure .
At some point, John Travers bought the entire one hundred acre Lot including the site of Waverley. In about 1862 he built a store and added it to his enterprises.
In 1870 a rural post office was established in Waverley . From 1872 – 1882 Travers served as Postmaster and operated the office from his store. As part of his official duties as Postmaster, he elected to renamed the town after himself. Hence, Waverley has ever since been known Traverston.
By 1871, Travers had added a large grist mill to augment his sawmill. Although Traverston never grew as large as hoped, it did become a thriving hamlet. And, as we have seen, the birthplace of a lot of Travers children. Unfortunately after the railroad came through, and passed it by, Traverston dwindled.
Traverston can still be found on Google Maps along with a photo of a mill built in 1870 that has since been converted into a residence.
Looks like a lovely place to visit someday.