Sinclair Family

Here are a group of pics that reflect the family of Nellie Sinclair. She lived  at 431 Greenfield street. I have a few of the names but I am sorry I lost the note that came with them that I got a few years ago. She was a good friend of my Great Grand Mother and I have fond memories of visits to her home and her oatmeal cookies.A story that my Great Grand mother told was that "Nellie was engaged to marry a Foreign Driller and a week before the wedding he cut his leg on a fence and died of blood poisoning. She never dated or looked at another man".

It is with only a trace of presumption on our part, since we once owned the home, that we consider 431 Greenfield Street to be one of the Petrolia houses that truly reflect our Victorian heritage. The home owes its existence to one of our town's well-known citizens of the 1800s - John Sinclair.
Sinclair was born in Peel County in 1833, the son of John and Jane (Currie) Sinclair, natives of Scotland that immigrated to Ontario in 1832. John (Jr.) began his business career in Peel County as a contractor who built both houses and bridges. Upon his arrival in Petrolia in 1866, he continued in the contracting trade until 1879, the same year in which he married and built his home on Greenfield Street.
According to the publication County of Lambton - Commemorative Biographical Record (1906), "Few men in this section have been more prominently identified with fraternal life." Sinclair was a high-ranking Mason, an executive in the Odd Fellows, and a grand patriarch of the I.O.O.F. of Ontario. As well, he belonged to the Royal Arcanum, the W.O.W. and St. Andrew's Society. Never can it be said that John Sinclair was an idle man.
In addition to his fraternal work, Sinclair was, to all intents and purposes, one of Petrolia's earliest "jack-of- all-trades". While still in the contracting business, John was appointed bailiff of the 8th Division Court of Lambton County (1876). He served as an agent for several steamship companies and in 1880 embarked on a career as an agent in the petroleum industry. His first venture saw ten Petrolia drillers sent to Italy to forage for oil there. Sinclair negotiated many other assignments that involved sending skilled oil men to all corners of the globe - not an insignificant feat in the days when communication methods were rudimentary compared to those of today.
Sinclair also busied himself in the field of auctioneering - a business that sustained his interest until well into this century. At some juncture, he also dabbled in the sale of marble for tombstones.
John married Lizzie O'Neil of London, Ontario in 1879. Their only off-spring, Nellie Jane resided in the family home until she died in 1969. (John, Lizzie and Nellie are all buried in the family plot in Hillsdale Cemetery.) With Nellie's passing, the Sinclair family ceased to exist locally but reminders of their life here live on. The family Bible and Lizzie's funeral notice remain a part of the home on Greenfield (now owned by Mr. and Mrs. D. Cornwall). Pieces of needlework done by Nellie are in the possession of Petrolia residents and samples of marble with Sinclair's initials on them are strewn throughout the gardens of the house.
One of those pieces of marble recently gave a proprietor of the house a moment of queasiness. The Reid family (owners in the 1980s) were relaxing over breakfast the morning after having moved into the home. While surveying the newly-acquired gardens, Dell Reid spotted a larger piece of engraved marble and, for a brief instant, feared someone was buried on their property. That was, of course, not the case but the home, itself, with its Victorian Gothic architecture and the Sinclair artifacts scattered throughout the town.
from the Dennis files

Nellie's home on 431 Greenfield  street ca.2000


Nellie Sinclair ca.1880s

John Sinclair and Nellie right                                    


Nellie ca1890ss on the left and ca.1960s on the right. 

John Sinclair and Nellie

An interesting group of cards that were with the Sinclair pics

Nellie's Father John Sinclair with one of the family oil wells?

Sinclair oil well?

John Sinclair

Mrs McKellar, Bert Rogers and Catherine McKellar Rogers Nellie's cousin                             

The caption on the back of the pic says 'an Aunt ,Mrs Pollard' who visited in this car ca.1910s'