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Long, Fred: The Story of the Hardworking Peasant

The Story of the Hardworking Peasant

by Fred Long

Being a peasant in rural Germany in the 1850’s was not an easy life. The aristocracy treated the poor terribly where these serfs were little more than slaves. For the next 30 years many thousands of people left Germany to start up a new life in the eastern United States and Canada. The promise of land grants was very attractive to these people.

John Henry LongJohn Henry LongThe Lange family (soon to be called Long) left Germany in 1852 and settled in a town called Defiance, Ohio. Their oldest son was Johann Heinrich (John Henry). The family was to have enlarged by three more children during their time in Defiance. By 1858, the Underground Railway had started helping slaves to reach Canada.

The Long family didn’t like the situation in Ohio and were able to obtain a land grant in the Kinmount area, north of Peterborough. It was a rough area in which to eke out a living and within twenty years John Henry had moved to the edge of Peterborough. Here he met and married a German girl. John Henry and Mary had a family of six children. They had just a few acres of property and a small barn where they raised a few pigs, a cow or two for milking or meat and some hens. Most of the members of the family including John Henry worked at the large Auburn knitting mill, but in later times John Henry and Mary made their living selling eggs, a variety of vegetables and flowers. Snapdragons were a specialty.

After Mary’s death in 1923, John Henry continued to grow his modest crops until one day in May in 1928, he came into the house to have a break from seeding new plants. He passed away in his favourite chair.

It was not an easy life from beginning to end for John Henry Long but he managed to have a happy, and fulfilled life. He was very popular in the community, known as Ashburnham, and was an avid soccer player.