In 1734, Joseph Wardell was born in Carnarvon, Wales. In 1755, being of age, he journeyed to London and joined the British Navy in which he served for seven years, after which he came to New York. Shortly after his arrival in America he settled on a farm in east Jersey, where he married Elizabeth Parker, a native of that place. For twenty years he and his good wife labored in Jersey, during which time the Revolutionary War had been fought, he and his two sons having fought with the Loyalists, one son, Goliah, being killed during the struggle. In 1785 not wishing to endure longer the persecution of the Americans, he and his family migrated to Canada. They came in a large covered wagon drawn by six horses and drove their cattle before them. Crossing the Niagara River at Niagara Village, as did the Griffins two years later, they followed the lake shore, crossed the Jordan and located a four hundred acre homestead two miles west of the river, having spent six months in making the journey. Joseph lived and labored on this homestead for ten years and died in 1794 at the age of sixty-one years. At his death his son Isaac received two hundred acres of the original homestead. Having a farm in his own name, Isaac now was in need of a wife, and he obtained one under rather romantic circumstances. Isaac was an enthusiastic hunter and trapper. One day, with a pack of traps on his back, he was out on one of his hunting expeditions, and following the river to Smithville, he came unexpectedly upon a bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked lass on a fishing expedition of her own. She was fishing for fish, and Isaac was hunting for game; they both made a catch. This chance acquaintance ripened into friendship and later into love, and thus a day came in 1796 when a wedding was held at the home of Richard Griffin in Smithville, when Mary (Polly) Griffin, his daughter, became the bride of Isaac Wardell. At that wedding there would be Isaiah Griffin, Smith Griffin, and his wife (Solomon Hill’s sister), Edward Griffin, Solomon Hill and his wife Bethiar Hill (Richard Griffin’s daughter), Solomon Hill’s sons, Willian and Abraham, the brothers and sisters of Isaac Wardell and also younger members of both families. Their wedding trip consisted of a walk from Smithville, along the Twenty Creek to the lake, and up the shore to their new home. They were blessed with ten children. These were the days of large families. Richard Griffin had eleven children, Solomon Hill had twelve, Isaac Wardell ten, and Nathaniel Hill nine children. Aunt Polly Wardell, as she was known by her relatives, carried her first baby Solomon in her arms from her home on the lake shore to her parents’ home in Smithville on a visit. For many years Uncle Isaac and Aunt Polly lived on the old homestead and finally moved near Smithville, where they lived for fifteen years, after which they moved to Smoky Hollow, near St. Catharines. As they grew old, they gave up their Smoky Hollow home and went to live with their son Isaiah at Merritt Settlement. Aunt Polly, like many dear old women of her time, enjoyed smoking her pipe. Some of the younger women of those early days learned to smoke from lighting the pipe for mother or grandmother. On one of her visits to the home of her nephew, Nathaniel Hill, she laid her pipe on the window sill and a live coal fell upon the sill and burned a hole into it. This may still be seen in the old cottage home now occupied by Nathaniel Hill’s son, John W. Hill, at Smithville. Aunt Polly was born in Tarrytown, New York State, in 1778. She died in 1873 at the age of ninety-five. She was a kind-hearted, Christian woman, who lived to a ripe old age, and saw many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, grow up, upon whom she bestowed her love and care. Isaiah, the third son of Isaac, and Aunt Polly married Elizabeth Tinline Culp. They had three children, Cyrus, Jim and Isaac. The latter is still living in Smithville, at the age of ninety-one years, Smithville’s second oldest citizen, and the oldest living descendant of the Griffin family. He has been a life-long member of the Disciple Church, able and active in its councils. At the Wardell reunion from a well-stored memory, he gave the descendants of Isaac Wardell, stirring accounts of the life and work of their forefathers. He was for many years a successful drover and farmer. In 1855 he married Isabell Meridith and they lived together for sixty-five years. Reminiscing, Mr. Wardell says “The year following the Crimean War, wheat dropped from two dollars to seventy-five cents per bushel.” Thus we see that the conditions following the World War are but a repetition of those following the great struggle in the Crimean. He said further: “I can remember when fifty acres of land changed hands for a pound of tobacco.” In those days he said coffins were made by cabinet makers for four dollars. A neighbor’s wagon supplied the hearse and neighbors’ spades dug the grave. Mr. Wardell is hale and hearty at the age of ninety-one, has a splendid memory, and his intellect is as clear as that of most men half his age. It is a real pleasure to spend a few hours with him in conversation, for he loves to talk of the old days. He is without doubt, the best-posted man, living, on the history of Smithville, and her pioneer settlers.
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