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Histoire illustrée du canton de Potton

The Empire Loyalists, Early Settlers of Potton Township

Site of residence Hendrick Ruiter

Except for the presence of a few Abenakis and the occasional explorer or hunter, the area today known as the Eastern Townships remained uninhabited until about 1790. With the end of the American Revolution the 13 former British colonies became independent. Many of their citizens, however, remained loyal to Britain, were pursued, persecuted and fled north to Canada.

Capt. Hendrick Ruiter, of Dutch origin, was one of those Loyalists. In 1796, in recognition of his loyal services to the British Crown, Capt. Ruiter was granted 2400 acres of land in the Township of Potton, which was to be officially created in 1797, along with the other townships in the area, by the proclamation of governor Clarke. He settled in West Potton, which later became Dunkin; there, a marker on the south side of highway 105A indicates the spot where, at the age of 50, he built his first cabin near the brook that bears his name.

H. Ruiter's tombstone

Ruiter built the first mills in Potton and also established the Ruiter Settlement Cemetery where he was buried in 1819 at age 80.

Other well-known early settlers from across the border were Samuel Perkins, Moses Elkins, and Abel Skinner.

Joe Ruiter, H. Ruiter's great grandson
circa 1906

Identification of H. Ruiter's unmarked grave

Place Manson, circa 1910

In 1803, Joseph Chandler and John Lewis bought a parcel of land from Abraham Ruiter, Hendrick's son and built a sawmill powered by the Missisquoi River and this was the beginning of the village of Mansonville.

Robert Manson acquired this mill in 1811. Together with his sons, he would develop other businesses and give his name Place Manson, circa 1910 to the village.

Around 1850, William Manson donated a piece of land in the village for use as a common, which is today Place Manson in the heart of Mansonville.

David Manson

David Manson, a prominent public figure, was mayor of Mansonville in 1875, a conservative MP, and a founding member of the Mansonville Masonic Lodge. He built the Manson House in 1875.

The Borights, Nelson and Sheldon were another early prominent family.

Sheldon was mayor from 1896 to 1900 and is said to have built the Fullerton Pond dam in 1911.

Manson House, circa 2007
Heritage Residence, 283 Main Street

Manson House, circa 1950