Zone Township, then part of Lambton County, was surveyed in 1822 by Samuel Smith. At the time of the survey the first fourteen lot ranges north of the Thames River were reserved by the government as the ‘Indian Zone’ for the Moraviantown Delaware Nation who had, along with Moravian missionaries, originally settled Fairfield in 1792 (Lauriston, 1949). In 1848, the Townships of Euphemia and Zone were separated. Euphemia Township remained part of Lambton County and Zone Township became part of Kent County.
1880 Historical Atlas Map of Zone Township
Although 15,474 acres of land had been taken up by the time of the 1861 Census only 3,219 acres of that land had been cultivated. The population of Zone Township is listed as 1,159 in 1861. Wooded or wild land still dominated the township, as much of the land was considered unsuitable for agriculture due to poor drainage. Dominant species of trees included maple, oak, elm, beech and black walnut.
The site of Bothwell was originally owned by the Honourable George Brown. Brown had the town lots laid out in 1855 and sold the entire 5,250 acres to The Bothwell Land Company and Petroleum Company (or Scotch Company) in 1856. Settlement began in earnest in 1858, at which time it included one store and two saw mills. The population of Bothwell grew to 3,700 by 1865 at which time Bothwell was incorporated as a town.
The early prosperity of Bothwell and the surrounding area is a result of the burgeoning oil industry. Petroleum discovered in the vicinity had been tested in 1858 as a burning oil and spectators immediately began purchasing land along the banks of the Thames River in order to capitalize on the petroleum rich area.
A map of oil regions in the vicinity of Bothwell dated to May, 1866 shows some detail around the north part of Zone Township and the south part of Euphemia Township. Landowners and structures are indicated along the Thames River and the Great Western Railway line is shown.
Four structures are shown on the 1880 Atlas of Zone Township. The Dante Post Office is located in Lot 15, Concession 5, although its exact location is not indicated. Three residential buildings are shown in Lots 14 and 15, Concession 4.
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