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EASTMAN, DANIEL WARD, Presbyterian minister; b. 2 Sept. 1778 in Goshen Township (N.Y.), third child of Tilton Eastman and Polly Owen; m. first, on 21 Nov. 1800, Elizabeth Hopkins (d. 1844), by whom he had nine or ten children, secondly, Mrs Bridget Lowe (d. 1853), and thirdly, Margaret Hinton, née Merritt; d. 4 Aug. 1865 in Grimsby Township (West Lincoln Township), Canada West.

Daniel Ward Eastman had a profound religious experience at age 14 and became a communicant, presumably of the Presbyterian Church; he believed himself called by God to the ministry. He was educated at Goshen Grammar School and North Salem Seminary (Academy), and pursued further theological studies, probably in private. The Morris County Associated Presbytery, in New Jersey, which leaned to Congregationalism, licensed Eastman to preach, probably in March 1800. He came to Canada with a caravan of immigrants headed by his father-in-law, arriving at Beaver Dams near St Catharines in June 1801. There, in July, he first preached in Canada. Soon after he moved to Stamford (now in Niagara Falls) where he found a Scottish community with a “small but creditable” church building. Eastman resided in Stamford for a year and during that time purchased 50 acres of “wild land” near Beaver Dams on which he built a log house.

Thus began a long, rigorous, dedicated ministry which earned him the unofficial title of “Father of the Presbyterian Churches in the Niagara and Gore districts.” There were in 1800 but four other Presbyterian ministers in Upper Canada: John Bethune*, Jabez Collver*, John Ludwig Broeffle, and Robert McDowall*. As there was no presbytery in Upper Canada, Eastman was ordained at Palmyra (East Palmyra), N.Y., on 9 June 1802 by the Ontario Association (which later merged with the Presbytery of Geneva). Ordination was required for a full ministry, including a licence to marry.

In his early years in Upper Canada Eastman preached regularly at Drummondville (Niagara Falls), Stamford, and Beaver Dams. He also visited other centres from Fort Erie to Ancaster, “carrying the Good News of salvation to solitary settlers, and preaching the Word to willing listeners, by the wayside and in the settlements.” Later, between 1815 and 1819, he went as far west as Long Point and London. In 1804 Eastman was reinforced in the Niagara peninsula by John Burns, and in 1808 by Lewis Williams; a son who became a lay preacher later assisted him. He was always concerned with establishing permanent congregations; a group for which he was responsible in the Niagara peninsula became known as “Mr. Eastman’s seven churches.” During the War of 1812, when church buildings and schools were occupied as barracks and hospitals, Eastman spent much time ministering to the sick and wounded. From 1815 to 1819 he lived in Barton (Hamilton); he then moved to a farm he owned in Grimsby Township, where one of his seven churches was established. During his career Eastman performed some 3,000 marriages, thus greatly augmenting his annual stipend which for a long time seldom exceeded $50 plus some payment “in kind.”

The first presbytery in Upper Canada was the Presbytery of the Canadas, organized in 1818 by men rejecting the strict voluntaryism which called for the complete separation of church and state. Eastman joined in 1820, the year it became the Synod of the Canadas. The synod dissolved in 1825 and in 1830 Eastman joined its successor, the United Presbytery of Upper Canada (the United Synod of Upper Canada after 1831). He withdrew in 1833 to found with A. K. Buell of St Catharines and Edward Marsh of Hamilton the Niagara Presbytery. It never affiliated with a higher court.

The rebellion of 1837 had a disastrous effect on the Niagara Presbytery, which by then had seven or eight ministers, mostly recent American immigrants, and 25 churches. Some ministers left Canada, having sympathized with the rebels; others were suspect. There was no stigma attached to Eastman, and he rejoined the United Synod in time to participate in its merger in 1840 with the Presbyterian Church of Canada in Connection with the Church of Scotland. In the disruption of 1844 he cast his lot with the Free Church group.

Failing eyesight forced Eastman to retire about 1851 but he continued to preach occasionally. He became totally blind about 1856 and died in 1865. In his physical and spiritual stamina, Eastman was a true pioneer. Gifted with a powerful voice, he was also an appealing singer who used hymns effectively in his services. Only one of his sermons, dated 1800, is extant; although lacking in maturity it is thoughtfully constructed and shows the influence of the modified Calvinism of the disciples of Jonathan Edwards who stressed “disinterested benevolence.” It contains the promise of the forcible, yet warm, evangelical preaching for which Eastman became noted.

George L. Douglas

Presbyterian Church in Can. Archives (Toronto), D. W. Eastman, “God is love” (sermon, 1800); Harriet Hagar collection of Eastman papers. UCA, H. S. McCollum, Presbyterian scrap book, pp.140–42, 145–46, 170–73, 175–80, 185–88; included are articles written by McCollum for the Canada Presbyterian (Toronto), the most important of which are “Canadian Presbyterian history,” no.v, 19–20 and no.vii, 322–24, in new ser., II (1878–79). UCA, Presbyterian Church of Can., Presbytery of Hamilton, Minutes, 1844–57. Can. Presbyterian Church, Home and Foreign Record (Toronto), V (1865–66), 26–27. Narrative of the origin of the churches and of the state of religion within the bounds of theNiagara Presbyteryof Upper Canada (St Catharines, [Ont.], 1834). Presbyterian Church of Can., Minutes of the Synod (Toronto), 1844–61. Presbyterian Church of Can. in Connection with the Church of Scot., Minutes of the Synod, 1831–45; Acts and proc. of the Synod, 1846–75. United Presbytery of Upper Canada, Minutes, 1830–31. United Synod of Upper Canada, Extracts from the minutes, 1832–33. History and genealogy of the Eastman family of America . . . , comp. G. S. Rix (2v., Concord, N.H., 1901), I, 192, 405–8. F. H. Foster, A genetic history of the New England theology (Chicago, 1907), 52–61, 94–103, 107–86, 369–400. E. H. Gillett, History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (rev. ed., 2v., Philadelphia, Pa., [1873?]), I, 156, 207–15, 380, 389–90, 401, 437–40; II, 114. J. H. Hotchkin, A history of the purchase and settlement of western New York, and of the rise, progress, and present state of the Presbyterian Church in that section (New York, 1848), 31–35, 40–41, 98–103, 376–77. “Loyalist and pioneer families of West Lincoln, 1783–1833,” comp. R. J. Powell, Annals of The Forty (Grimsby Hist. Soc. pub., Grimsby, Ont.), 4 (1953), 54–56.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

George L. Douglas, “EASTMAN, DANIEL WARD,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed October 22, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/eastman_daniel_ward_9E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/eastman_daniel_ward_9E.html
Author of Article: George L. Douglas
Title of Article: EASTMAN, DANIEL WARD
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1976
Year of revision: 1976
Access Date: October 22, 2014