The Sideboard Cupboard That Was Shot, and Survived
You have probably have heard about “distressed” furniture, but how about a piece of furniture that was accidentally shot? At Grey Roots we have a 19th-century butternut wood sideboard-style kitchen cupboard from the former St. Vincent Township. It is the only piece of family furniture that came along with the “Log House” building that we interpret at Grey Roots. The cupboard had formerly belonged to Benjamin and Annie Doran, and it was something that they had inherited. Ben’s family history in St. Vincent dated back to the early frontier days of the township, when his grandfather, David Doran, a former militia veteran of the War of 1812, ventured up to the Cape Rich area and settled in 1837. David Doran (b. 1764-d. 1861) was a man of fortitude, I believe, as when his military land claim was having some trouble, he snowshoed all the way to Montreal and back in 1841 to get some documents to protect his family’s interest in Lot 38, Concession 7. The Dorans also established an orchard, as the Cape Rich area was discovered to be excellent for fruit growing. David Doran’s sister, Mrs. Hannah McIntosh of Dundas County, was related to the McIntosh apple family, so the Dorans had brought in some of the first of the McIntosh Red seedlings to St. Vincent.
Benjamin Doran (a grandson of David and Mary Doran), was born on Oct. 17, 1877 in St. Vincent Twp. He was a son of Archelaus Doran and Ann Doran (nee Seaman). Ben married Eliza Ann Patterson (also seen as Elisabeth Ann Patterson) on June 20, 1900. She was usually known as Annie, and she was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James and Alice Patterson of Patterson’s Mountain in the Mountain Lake area of St. Vincent. It is not known now whether the sideboard cupboard was made by a member of the Doran family, or the Patterson family. In 1902, the Ben and Annie moved into the former Raven residence, a log house at Lot 25, Concession 7, that was constructed in the early 1840s. They called their property “Buena Vista”, and in the 1930s they conducted a tourist home there (from about 1928-1938). Their two daughters, Mabel and Rose, were born and married in the log house. Ben Doran was known for his musicality, and he played the violin. Annie was known to step dance to the music.
The younger daughter, Rose Amelia Doran, was born May 5, 1913. She later married Walter Perks, and they purchased the log house from Ben and Annie in 1940.
During the Second World War, Ben Doran was very concerned about the loss of valuable orchard land in 1942 when the Dominion Government expropriated land for an Armoured Fighting Vehicles Range (later known as the Meaford Tank Range, and now known as the Fourth Division Canadian Training Centre). Ben was considered an “agitator” at the time because he opposed the expropriation, and was trying to get others to protest or at least try to get more remuneration for their properties. Fortunately, his former residence was not expropriated, but it could have so easily been (the farmhouses that were expropriated were used for military purposes or destroyed, and now none are left). The log house was eventually was added to the County of Grey-Owen Sound Museum, where it opened to the public in 1968, and it is now at the Grey Roots Museum & Archives. However, other Doran family Cape Rich properties were expropriated, and David Doran’s burial site was enclosed on the “Meaford Tank Range”. Not too many 19th-century artifacts from northern St. Vincent are still known to exist, as the families affected by the expropriation had to remove their chattels in a hurry in the summer of 1942, and leave their farms behind before October, 1942.
Now back to the old butternut cupboard at Grey Roots which was formerly in the Doran’s log cabin long ago, and which also joined the museum collection in 1967-1968. It is usually displayed in the kitchen of the Log House. Reportedly, when it came to the museum, staffers were told that long-ago, a nephew of the Doran’s, Fred Cooper, was out hunting one day and he came to the cabin and set his shotgun on the table. It mis-fired and the shot went through the cupboard, hitting a Jell-O tin. The blast narrowly missed Mrs. Doran, who was standing at the stove at the time. Unfortunately the date of the incident was not reported, nor what Mrs. Doran said (or yelled) to Fred, but incident likely happened in the 1910s or 1920s. The gunshot hole in the cupboard’s right door has been plugged for many years since with a cork. The next time you visit Moreston at Grey Roots, check it out.
I wondered what had happened to Fred Duxbury Cooper, so I did some research. He was born in St. Vincent, on March 12, 1892, and lived in Meaford with his parents, Joseph and Sarah Cooper, circa 1911. As a young man, he went to Idaho to work in a grain company. In 1917-1918, he was still there, at Nez Perce, and was registered there for the U.S. Civilian Draft. In 1936, he was residing in Oregon. In 1943, he was in British Columbia. He also lived for 20 years at Fort William, where he worked for the Hydro company there. He passed away at Fort William in July of 1966, and is buried at Lakeview Cemetery (Meaford). Ben and Annie Doran are also buried there. Annie passed away in 1956. The cupboard she used so often is still appreciated at Grey Roots.
Image of Annie Doran (early 20th-century)
Image of Ben Doran
Image of Cupboard 1968.071.001