The coronation of King Charles III is just a few days away, but one Niagara-on-the-Lake family has a historical connection to another coronation – more than 100 years ago.
Melburn and Catherine Slingerland of NOTL were visiting England when King George V was crowned on June 22, 1911.
And today their descendants still have some prized Royal Doulton commemorative plates from that coronation.
“During that period in time 102 years ago my great-grandparents, fifth-generation NOTL residents Melburn and Catherine Slingerland, were in London,” says Jamie Slingerland.
He and other family members have researched the family’s history and hope to formally document it.
Melburn was the farm manager for Larkin Farms, a large American-owned operation on the Niagara River Parkway. It had more than 1,000 acres in NOTL and an even larger farm across the river in Lewiston, N.Y.
Melburn travelled the world to purchase livestock for Larkin Farms at world fairs and other gatherings. He also bought some animals from the royal family.
“Due to Melburn’s renowned knowledge of livestock, he would travel to purchase breeding stock across the world and according to my father he was a very stern man that few would bid against at auction,” Slingerland recalled.
“His travels were mostly to state fairs in Buffalo, Syracuse and Chicago/St.Louis. More locally would be Toronto, Montreal then to western Canada in 1912 to Portage La Prairie, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Medicine Hat, Regina and Calgary.”
According to his great niece, Madeline Muir (Slingerland), Melburn purchased livestock in Britain for Larkin Farms and was there during the coronation in 1911 with Catherine.
That is where they acquired the Royal Doulton dinner plates celebrating King George V’s ascension to the throne, Jamie noted.
As well, the family has traced its history to 1650 in the Netherlands, from an area called Slingeland, about a 45-minute drive south of Amsterdam. Jamie and his wife Connie visited the area in November 2018.
As world navy super powers, Britain and the Netherlands fought over the area on and off for many years.
“My ancestor, Teunis Cornelise Slingerland and his wife Engeltie Bradt, left the Netherlands during a brief period of peace in 1654 and settled in the Dutch settlements of upper New York,” Jamie said.
“Shortly afterward, they purchased, twice from the Bear clan, then the Turtle clan of the Mohawk nation, 10,000 acres of land in what today is part of Albany, N.Y.”
Today a few original homes still exist in Slingerlands, N.Y., from prior to the American Revolution.
During the revolution, the family was split over which side to support. Most Slingerlands were land owners and they chose the losing side (the British).
In the years afterward, some family members fled to what is now Niagara-on-the-Lake. One of them, Teunis Anthony Slingerland, is buried at St. Mark’s Anglican Church cemetery, according to his will on file at NOTL Museum.
Over the subsequent decades, descendants, including Teunis’s son Richard, received land grants in the area. Some were soldiers who fought in the War of 1812, and Richard served with Butler’s Rangers and the Niagara Militia.
During the War of 1812, the Americans looted and burned most of the homes in the area, including those owned by the Slingerland families, forcing everyone to start fresh again.
Richard’s son John farmed lot 13 on the north end of Concession 6 and was buried at Homer cemetery.
Today, Jamie’s brother Ken Slingerland still farms lot 81, which has been part of the family’s holdings for well over a century.
Jamie’s great-grandfather Melburn Hyram Slingerland (Richard’s son, born in 1860) married Catherine Ann Russell and farmed lot 80, which is where Between the Lines Winery is now located.
Melburn died early, at age 60, due to complications of diabetes.