Berczy Settlers

The sixty four settler families from Germany, by way of New York State, arrived in York (Toronto) in August of 1794 and camped on the Don Flats. Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe promised these settlers free land in a new Township to be called Markham after William Markham, Archbishop of York, England. Unfortunately the Township had not been surveyed so they had to wait until almost Christmas before they got their land. While they waited some of the men helped the Queen’s York Rangers open Yonge Street northward to Bond Lake.

The settlers took up land east of the newly opened Yonge Street on concessions 2 to 6 in the centre of the township. They were the first settlers.

Life was very difficult in the wilderness north of York. They arrived in the winter. They had difficulty getting their land cleared and crops planted during the first several years. The summers were bad and the crops did not grow. Some went to the Niagara Peninsula for one or two winters.

They cleared their land, built mills, established communities and created the foundations for what is now the prosperous City of Markham. Many became very successful farmers and their families live on today. Names like Eckardt, Elson, Summerfeldt, Schmidt, Stiver, Hagerman, Lunau, Quantz, remained prominent well into the last century. German Mills on the Don River became the first industrial centre of Markham with mills, a foundry and possibly a brewery. Communities like Dollar, Headford, Buttonville, Hagerman, Quantztown and Unionville had their roots in this German settlement. The settlers started two Lutheran congregations: St Philips, north of Unionville and St. John’s at Buttonville.

Some families left the community within the first ten years to ply their skills elsewhere. Some families died out without descendants. In 1994, descendants of 22 families came together in a celebration of 200 years in Markham. This celebration was part of the Bicentennial Celebration of the Town of Markham. Another celebration was held in 2004 when members of  the Markham Berczy Settlers Association gathered for a research week.

Family Names

Namen der Berczy Auswanderer¬†includes German spelling of names and the wife’s first name if known.