The Grandest House in the Village

Personal history 117Technically, the grandest house in Ruscomb wasn’t actually IN Ruscomb. It was about a mile outside the village, on the way to Comber.

There were two houses, each built by a Knister brother. One of the houses was on the Middle Road (now County Road 46). The other was on Middle Road North, which was one road back. Both houses looked very similar, except that the big house on Middle Road North had a TOWER.

When I was a child in the 60s, this house was very spooky. It was abandoned. The owner, Ethel Knister Pembleton was in “a home”, we were told. In the late 1960s, the house was bought by John and Barb Ayerst.

Barb no longer lives there but is still a friend of my aunt. When she heard I was collecting the history of Ruscomb, she sent me a letter that Adele Knister wrote to her about the magnificent house that her father, John Knister, had built in 1901.

John Knister was born in 1857. His wife, Mary Thompson Knister was also born around that time. They had three children, Ethelda (Ethel) born abt. 1884. When I was a child, she was still living. Her name was Pembleton. I found a marriage certificate for an Ethelda Knister to Karl Kendrick in 1914. So it appears that Mr. Pembleton was a second marriage. Adele, born Nov 16, 1885 in Ruscom, married Walter George Taylor on June 5, 1912. Cecil, the youngest child, was born on June 19, 1892. He died on May 23, 1917.

The house was built in 1901 after all three children were born. The letter tells us about the house. It also tells a lot about the life that went on in that house. What is interesting to me is that it provides a glimpse into the lives of Ruscomb’s wealthiest family. All of the old families of Ruscomb did well for themselves and their descendants but the Knisters did much better than most. I don’t know anything about the line of business they were in, other than farming. Maybe they were wealthy immigrants and brought money with them from Germany when they arrived in the earlier part of the 19th century. One way or another, they built a couple of very grand houses.

In the next few posts, I will share that letter that Adella wrote about her memories of the house with the tower.


Posted on February 6, 2013, in Essex County Families and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I fell in love with this house as a young girl. I saw it for the first time in 1969-70. I was going to the Skidmore farm on 6a to visite their daughter. I would drive by every now and then to see it. Even to this day

    • We must have been neighbours! I used to ride by bike to the Skidmores because their daughter Nancy was a friend of mine. Our farm was on the northwest corner of Hwy 98 and 6a (that was the number of the sideroad Skidmores lived on, right? Right beside the Ruscomb River. I never knew what the number was … just that it used to be beside the river and there was a brick yard on it when I was a little kid). We bought another farm out near Harrow in 1967 but we went back to Ruscomb every week to see my grandparents and our Ruscomb friends.

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