St. John's, St. John's Valley and The Shorthills were already settled by the time the War of 1812 was fought. The settlers, mostly Methodists, as well as Quakers and Mennonites found the area extremely favourable as it was within close proximity to markets at Niagara.
As well the area proved to be excellent for farming and surveyed lots were quickly snapped up by these early arrivals. Some of the earliest settlers to be granted land in Thorold Twp. were; Abram Overholt, 400 acres in 1796. Jacob Upper, 250 acres in 1798, George Bowman, 400 acres in 1799, George Upper, 400 acres in 1801, Benjamin Canby, 200 acres in 1801 and 200 more in 1803 and Andrew Hansler 200 acres in 1804.
A plaque has been erected alongside the cemetery in St. John's that reads as follows:
The Battle of the Short Hills The Rebellion in Upper Canada, 1838 Failing to seize power by force in Toronto on December 5, 1837, William Lyon Mackenzie was led to the United States by Samuel Chandler, a wagon maker from St. John's. On June 12, 1838 a "Patriot Army" of some 29 armed Americans and Upper Canadians including Samuel Chandler left Grand Island in the United States to invade Canada early on June 21, 1838. The "Patriot Army" now abaout 50 men rushed Ostehout's Inn on this site where ten Queen's Lancers were posted to keep the peace in St. John's and The Short Hills. The Lancers were captured but later released unharmed. Chandler and other ring leaders were hunted down and tried for treason in Niagara (Niagara-on-the-Lake). James Moreau was hanged, the others were sentenced to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania), the British Empire's penal colony then. This incident was one amongst many that would ultimately lead towards the peaceful establishment of responsible government in the late 1840's.
THIS PLAQUE ERECTED BY THE ST. JOHN'S CENTRE INC., 1988