Births: Stevenson - In the township of Saltfleet, on Jan. 18, 1829, to Wm. and Mrs. Stevenson, a daughter.
Had people in those days been inclined to publish their marriage and birth notices the above would have fitted the circumstances and had it been in this modern day they would have added the baby's name (Sophia Ann). And some years later, had the people been addicted to these trivialities, one would have read: Marriages: Book - Stevenson - At S. Andrew's Church of England, on Wednesday, May 10, 1848, by the Rev. George Grout, William Book, son of Mr. and Mrs. Mathias Book, to Sophia Ann, eldest daughter of William and Mrs. Stevenson, of the Township of Grimsby.
And on this date, Jan. 17, 1922 [sic], it could be printed as a news item: "Mrs. Sophia Ann Stevenson-Book has been visiting her daughter, Mrs. E.M. Smith, of Winona. She will be 94 years of age tomorrow." And Mrs. Book is still hale and hearty enough to have walked the seven miles had such been necessary. She learned early to take a philosophical view of life. She has often said that hard work did not hurt her - and her philosophy has proven good. Three-quarters of a century ago life in this neighbourhood was no sinecure. Queen Victoria reigned for nearly 64 years; King George the Third for 60 years; Mrs. Book has reigned for 94 years. When George IV died in June 1830, there was little doubt that Sophia Ann was queen in her household (she would be then 18 months old); and she has lived under the reign of 5 British sovereigns and is still competent to be queen in her own household.
United States yellow journals, especially the Hearst publications, have a well paid staff to write exaggerated stories of the biggest things, the greatest enterprises, the most recent discoveries, and the oldest person in the world. Whenever a story of this sort is investigated it is found to lack proof. This extract from the records of S. Andrew's Church is irrefutable:
"William Book of the Township of Grimsby, and Sophia Stevenson of the same, spinster, were married by license in S. Andrew's Church, Grimsby, on Wednesday, the tenth day of May, 1848, by me, George R.F. Grout." Signed, William Book, Sophia Stevenson, N.F. Drake, John Book, Jacob Book.
But a plain statement of fact is: On Jan. 18, 1829, William Stevenson, who came originally from Pennsylvania, and his wife (nee Jane Anderson) lived in the stone house about a mile and a half west of Winona now owned and occupied by Alexander Glover, and to them was born on the date mentioned the subject of this sketch. Some ten years later, in January 1839, after the death of Mr. Stevenson, the family removed to Grimsby township. During the strenuous times of 1837, when, as history tells us, "a great many in England were suffering from want", and the McKenzie rebellion was being promulgated in Upper Canada, the little Stevenson girl would be about 9 years old - an age to know and remember the necessity of work and denial. For many, many years Mrs. Book has not known the necessity of denial - but she has not quit working, spending many hours daily knitting, whiling away an occasional few minutes watching the passing parade of autos on the highway.
In 1848 when Miss Stevenson was a comely maid of 19 years and half a winter (May 10), William Book, a bewhiskered (they all wore whiskers those days) young man of 27, but a man built to cope with those same days - brainy, broad of shoulder, deep chested, a pleasant face (from personal recollection) - led her to the altar of historic old S. Andrew's where in the presence of a few relatives the Rev. George Grout made them one. With a team and buggy Mr. and Mrs. Book journeyed to Buffalo on a honeymoon trip, and there made their first visit to a theatre. For nearly 52 years they lived on the old homestead shown in the engraving, celebrating in 1898 their golden wedding. Two years later, William Book died - Jan. 9, 1900.
To Mr. and Mrs. Book were born three sons and three daughters, four of whom are still living: Jonathan A. Book, George Lorne Book, North Grimsby; Mrs. Egbert M. Smith of Winona (with whom Mrs. Book now resides) and Mrs. C.A.P. Smith of North Grimsby. A son Charles was killed when 12 years old by a kick from a horse on the farm of his uncle, Jacob Book; and Mrs. James Tufford died in 1894. There are also 7 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren, while of nieces and nephews there are many.
Mrs. Book's hearing is somewhat impaired but her eyes are keen, her general health splendid, and she goes up and down stairs unassisted. A smile and chuckle are her reply to a query as to what she thought she would attribute her long career, though she naively adds "hard work never hurt me". She tells many interesting stories of early life in Grimsby township and of hewing a farm out of the bush, and her memory is keen enough to note some of the many changes that have taken place in the district in the past four score of years.