A record of the earliest beginnings of Compton are yet to be found. It is a small community that is just across the Vermont border about 25 miles north of Newport, Vt. where Interstate 91 enters Canada. It undoubtedly was founded because of the needs of farmers in the area to have a central place to buy and exchange the goods that they were producing. In the early days, there were no good roads, railroads or vehicles capable of transferring goods quickly from one place to another. So the farmers of the area founded a place that was easy to get to and where one could find general stores, mills and trade shops. Other towns were established, but did not develop and now no longer exist. One such place was Hillhurst, Que. the mailing address for one Doak family.
The village of Compton was never very large. It generally had less than 500 residents. The entire Township of Compton reached a peak population of 3,013 souls in 1861.
It is felt that the Doak farms were all within Horse or Oxen team distance from Compton. We have fairly well defined where these farms were and have included their location on several maps of the area on the MAPS page. Robert Doak (b. 1780 at New Boston, N.H.) had 150 acres there. This was left to his son James when Robert died in 1859. James eventually increased HIS holdings to 250 acres and the family built a large farm house there which eventually came to be known as the "Hermitage" by the local residents. Oliver Doak, James' brother, owned a farm just south of James Doak's farm. The Hermitage was a warm and inviting place. It had many rooms and was always open to visitors and many of the Doak family would gather there on holiday occasions for eating and singing and conversation. It was often brimming with visitors, but always managed to find room for "one more".
William R. Doak owned a General Store in Compton in 1863 and also had property in Hillhurst. Hillhurst was a few miles due south of Compton. At the time, the town of Compton boasted a blacksmith, a butcher shop, a school, several hotels, shoemaker, Tanner and a doctor.
Your Web Master had occasion to visit Compton in July of 2001. Today, it is little more than a few houses and stores on both sides of Highway 147 between Sherbrooke and Coaticooke. It is hardly recognizable as a town and one could easily pass through it without even knowing that a town is there. The Parcs Canada publication "Compton in Retrospect - 1880 to 1950" on page 25 has a map of Compton dated 1863. The widest road shown running from top to bottom (center) is the present Rt 147. The Road running to the left, where all the buildings are shown, is now Rt 208. The Cemetery shown is still there and in use. It is now called the Compton Cemetery instead of the St. James Cemetery as it once was. Where the W.R. Doak store is shown, is now part of a large grassy green lawn area populated with private homes. It is very hard to visualize what it must have been like 140 years ago. Where Rt 147 and Rt 208 join, is where you will find the town offices. The J.B.M. St. Laurent store is now a museum and is very interesting to tour. The building still looks pretty much as it did in the late 1800's.
The St. James Anglican Church is still standing and still in use. It was originally built in 1827 and then rebuilt in 1886. It has a congregation of about 40, and holds services on Sunday every other week. Usual attendance is about 13 worshipers. This is the church attended by the Doak families. All the Doak children of James were baptized there. Walter Doak, son of James, was on the church committee and served through 1895, when he left Compton for good, to join his brother Arthur in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). Today, the little church is in sad repair. It is such a shame, but with such a small congregation, it is impossible for them to keep up with the expense. The Church Warden is Russell Nichols, a local retired farmer. He was wonderful about giving up two days of his time to show us around the area and do some translation of French for us with the local French Canadian farmers. I have posted below several pictures of the Church showing where repair is needed. If you feel, as we do, that this church should be preserved for future generations, you can send contributions to:
St. James Anglican Church, C/O Russell Nichols, Louis St. Laurent, Rt 147, Compton, Quebec, Canada, J0B 1L0
No one in the Church has made any request of us for contributions or for space on this Web Site. We are doing this out of respect for a place that brought much comfort and enjoyment to our Doak ancestors. THEY are gone, but the old church should remain as a memorial to their having been there. We know the church can use and would appreciate any financial help you can give toward the maintenance of this beautiful old building.
We also located one of the Doak Farms, almost certainly the farm of Robert Doak and later that of his son, James. In 1908, eighty five acres of the original Doak farm was purchased by the Valliancourt family. The 4th generation of that family still farms there. The farm is a Dairy farm of 1100 acres and is very prosperous. Roger Vailliancourt and his two sons Sabastien and Roger were very friendly and interested in what we had to tell them about the origins of the farm. Some pictures are shown below for your pleasure so you can see what the farm looks like today.
There is much more to be added to this story of Compton and this information will be incorporated as it becomes known.