Peter John Stokes Historical Note
The original owner of the property was James Clarke, prominent in the early years of Niagara, whose son lived in the earlier house until its destruction during the War of 1812.
The Honourable William Claus acquired the 1 acre lot, next to his “Wilderness” home, a few years before his death, in 1825.
In 1833 his daughter Catherine is listed as owner. By that time she had remarried and two years later, evidently at the time of building the present house, the property was registered in the name of her husband, John Lyons. A notice in The Cleaner for February, 1832, had proclaimed that “John Lyons, Esq., Registrar of the Counties of Lincoln and Haldimand, has opened a Land Agency Office in the Town of Niagara, and he appears to have lost little time before marrying the widow of Benjamin Geale, a Dublin-born lieutenant of the 41st Regiment, (who died in consequence of the War of 1812, experiences (prisoner 1813, and wounds) in 1821, aged just 30, leaving a young wife and children.
The Geale name is the one usually associated with the house because Catharine’s son, John Bernard Geale, and grandsons and great-grandsons are remembered as living there until the turn of the century, and being very much a part of the social life of the town in its heyday. J.B. Geale was noted for his dashing charms and fine singing voice which contributed much to the choir of St. Marks as well as soirees. [It was he who] recalled the visits of Indians who encamped under willows along the creek running through the Wilderness.
Historical Note by Mrs. Francis McKay
Niagara Historical Society
The images included in this page are courtesy of the Niagara
Historical Society & Museum.