New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Table of Contents, Rev. November 26, 2014

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This blog will continue to grow, but following is a table of contents so far – from the top:

  1. A Night in the Deep – Nov. 26, 2014
  2. Robert Foulis (A Misplaced Genius) – Nov. 19, 2014
  3. The City Mills – Nov. 15, 2014
  4. The Brothers d’Amours – Nov. 5, 2014
  5. John Allan’s Revolutionary Mission to the Saint John River – Oct. 29, 2014
  6. Relics of the Acadian Period – Oct. 22, 2014
  7. Some Odd Old Advertisements – Oct. 15, 2014
  8. The Miramichi Fire – Relief of the Sufferers – Oct. 8, 2014
  9. Jonathan Eddy’s Account of the Attack on Fort Cumberland, November, 1776 – Oct. 1, 2014
  10. Which of These Two is the Wisest and Happiest? – Sept. 24, 2014
  11. Fredericton Bridge, a Prophetic Writing – Sept. 17, 2014
  12. A Speech to Distinguished Persons of Stake and Consideration – Sept. 10, 2014
  13. Building an Education System From Almost Nothing – Sept. 3, 2014
  14. Cape Tormentine to the Baye des Chaleurs in the 1600’s – Aug. 27, 2014
  15. The Customs of the Mi’kmaq in the 1600’s and Before – Aug. 20, 2014
  16. Two Documents Relating to the Fenians in New Brunswick – Aug. 13, 2014
  17. The Lazaretto for Lepers in Tracadie, 1862 – Aug. 6, 2014
  18. Thoughts About the Augustine Mound at Metepenegiag Mi’kmaq Nation – July 30, 2014
  19. What am I Bid for This Pauper? – July 23, 2014
  20. Trouble at Madawaska, 1831 – July 16, 2014
  21. The Great Fire at Saint John, June 20, 1877 – July 9, 2014
  22. The Poor Fellows Shook as if They Would Fall to Pieces! – July 2, 2014
  23. How to Build a Logging Camp in Around 1850 – June 25, 2014
  24. Risen from the Ashes, Phoenix Square in Fredericton – June 18, 2014
  25. Rocks and Water, Magnificence and Squalor; St. John in 1876 – June 11, 2014
  26. Moncton as Seen by a Journalist in 1876 – June 4, 2014
  27. Events Leading to the Caraquet Riots of 1875 – May 28, 2014
  28. A Dramatic Account of the Miramichi Fire – May 21, 2014
  29. Saint John in the Early 1840’s – May 18, 2014
  30. A Note to Subscribers, and a Memorandum for me – May 14, 2014
  31. The Myth that Kerosene was Invented in New Brunswick – May 7, 2014
  32. A Church with Military Boots and Fixed Bayonets – Apr. 30, 2014
  33. An Opening Salvo in an Ongoing Argument – Apr. 23, 2014
  34. May living worms his corpse devour – Apr. 16, 2014
  35. He don’t look any better than some of our own boys – Apr. 9, 2014
  36. The Disputed Territory Between New Brunswick and Maine – Apr. 2, 2014
  37. Navigation on the Saint John River – Mar. 26, 2014
  38. Shepody as a Hot Investment Opportunity, 1868 – Mar. 19, 2014
  39. To Her Majesty, RE: Reciprocity, 1853 – Mar. 12, 2014
  40. Diary on the Tobique, 1851 – Mar. 5, 2014
  41. Growing up in Fredericton in the 1820s and 1830s – Feb. 26, 2014
  42. Travels From Eastport, Maine, to Fredericton, 1851 – Feb. 19, 2014
  43. The Saint John General Public Hospital, 19th Century, Part 2 of 2 – Feb. 12, 2014
  44. The Saint John General Public Hospital, 19th Century, Part 1 of 2 – Feb. 5, 2014
  45. The Story of the Great Brothers – Jan. 29, 2014
  46. A Trek up the Tobique, and Onward to Bathurst – Jan. 22, 2014
  47. Summer Tourists. A Manual for New Brunswick Farmers – Jan. 19, 2014
  48. A Trek from Grand Falls to Campbellton, 1862 – Jan. 15, 2014
  49. A Trek From Taymouth to Boisetown, 1862 – Jan. 12, 2014
  50. Capt. William Owen’s Journal, Campobello, 1770-71 – Jan. 8, 2014
  51. The Founding of Campobello Island – Jan. 5, 2014
  52. New Brunswick Roads and Railways, 1855 – Jan. 1, 2014
  53. Grand Manan – Dec. 29, 2013
  54. The Shipyard Fire in Saint John, in 1841 – Dec. 26, 2013
  55. Christmas as it Was in Saint John, in 1808 – Dec. 22, 2013
  56. The Saint John Grammar School – Dec. 18, 2013
  57. William Wishart Blasts the New Brunswick Education System, 1845 – Dec. 15, 2013
  58. The Diary of Sarah Frost – Dec. 11, 2013
  59. Pŭlěs, Pŭlowěch′, and Beechkwěch (Pigeon, Partridge, and Nighthawk) – Dec. 10, 2014
  60. The Government of New Brunswick, 1837 – Dec. 4, 2013
  61. The Whales and the Robbers – Dec. 1, 2013
  62. The Ashburton Treaty – Nov. 27, 2013
  63. Glooscap and His Four Visitors – Nov. 24, 2013
  64. The Pioneers of Saint Stephen – Nov. 20, 2013
  65. The Adventures of Kâktoogwâsees; a Tale of Ancient Times – Nov. 17, 2013
  66. The Asylum at Saint John – Nov. 13, 2013
  67. The Liver-Colored Giants and Magicians – Nov. 10, 2013
  68. Smuggling Between Calais and St. Stephen – Nov. 6, 2013
  69. The Two Weasels – Nov. 3, 2013
  70. A note to subscribers – Oct. 30, 2013
  71. The European and North American Railway, 1862 – Oct. 30, 2013
  72. The Origin of the War Between the Mi’kmaq and the Kwěděches – Oct. 23, 2013
  73. Trouble on the Line: The Early Telegraph in New Brunswick – Oct. 16, 2013
  74. The Invisible Boy; Team′ and Oochigeaskw – Oct. 9, 2013
  75. Transportation to and from Fredericton, 1841 – Oct. 2, 2013
  76. The Boy That Was Transformed Into a Horse – Sept. 25, 2013
  77. McAdam: Notes From the Early Days – Sept. 18, 2013
  78. The Magical Food, Belt and Flute – Sept. 11, 2013
  79. European & North American Rly. Staff, 1861 – Sept. 4, 2013
  80. Glooscap and the Megumoowesoo: A Marriage Adventure – Aug. 28, 2013
  81. The Loss of the Royal Tar – Aug. 21, 2013
  82. Robbery and Murder Revenged, Plus a Grand Falls Story – Aug. 14, 2013
  83. The St. John River From Below Fredericton to the Reversing Falls – Aug. 7, 2013
  84. A Proposal for a Wooden Railway – July 31, 2013
  85. ‘On the Early History of New Brunswick’ – July 24, 2013
  86. The Maugerville Settlement, 1763-1824 – July 17, 2013
  87. 1930 Circus Train Wreck Near Moncton, N.B. – July 10, 2013
  88. Horses or Oxen? Pick one – July 3, 2013
  89. The St. John River; Andover to Fredericton – June 26, 2013
  90. Origins of Some Place Names on N.B.’s Eastern Shore – June 19, 2013
  91. The St. John River; Grand Falls to the Tobique – June 12, 2013
  92. Gabriel Acquin – June 5, 2013
  93. The Seigniories of New Brunsiwck – May 29, 2013
  94. An 1841 Trek up the Oromocto River – May 22, 2013
  95. Fredericton’s Exhibition Palace, and Bears in N.B. – May 15, 2013
  96. Murder on Diamond Square Road – May 8, 2013
  97. Acadian Historic Sites in New Brunswick – May 1, 2013
  98. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 5 of 5 – Apr. 24, 2013
  99. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 4 of 5 – Apr. 17, 2013
  100. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 3 of 5 – Apr. 10, 2013
  101. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 2 of 5 – Apr. 3, 2013
  102. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 1 of 5 – Mar. 27, 2013
  103. A Retrospective Look at Saint John – Mar. 20, 2013
  104. The Wreck of the England – Mar. 13, 2013
  105. The First Decade of the 1800’s in St. John, N.B. – Mar. 6, 2013
  106. St. John’s Poorhouse and Workhouse – Feb. 27, 2013
  107. New Brunswick Scenes From an Old Book – Feb. 20, 2013
  108. Nice Pictures From Another Old Book – Feb. 13, 2013
  109. Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick, Part 2/2 – Feb. 6, 2013
  110. Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick, 1845 – Jan. 30, 2013
  111. The Works of W.O. Raymond – Jan. 23, 2013
  112. The Year of the Fever – Jan. 16, 2013
  113. Hanged for the Theft of 25 Cents – Jan. 9, 2013
  114. Reversing Falls – Pictures – Jan. 2, 2013
  115. Christmas as it was in 1808 – Dec. 25, 2012
  116. Nice Pictures From an Old Book – Dec. 19, 2012
  117. The Saint John Bridge Collapse of 1837 – Dec. 12, 2012
  118. The First Road Bridge Across the Reversing Falls – Dec. 5, 2012
  119. The Mystery of the First Lizzie Morrow – Nov. 28, 2012
  120. The First Murder Trial on the River St. John – Nov. 21, 2012
  121. The March of the 104th Regiment in 1812 – Nov. 14, 2012
  122. Partridge Island – Nov. 7, 2012
  123. Fredericton’s First Bridge Across the Saint John River – Oct. 31, 2012
  124. 1816, The Year Without a Summer – Oct. 31, 2012
  125. Winslow to Wentworth, 1781 – Oct. 31, 2012
  126. Oops! An explanation – Oct. 31, 2012
  127. The Saxby Gale of 1869 – Oct. 31, 2012
  128. New Brunswick’s Third Town in 1838: Saint Andrews – Oct. 31, 2012
  129. Fredericton and York County in 1838 – Oct. 31, 2012
  130. The City and County of Saint John in 1838 – Sept. 26, 2012
  131. The St. Andrews and Quebec Railroad – Sept. 19, 2012
  132. The Studholm Report of Saint John River Pre-Loyalists in 1783 – Sept. 12, 2012
  133. Caleb Jones. Further RE: Ann, otherwise known as Nancy – Sept. 5, 2012
  134. The Wreck of the Martha – Aug. 29, 2012
  135. The Early Settlement of Maugerville and the Sheffield Parsonage Dispute – Aug. 22, 2012
  136. Lieutenant Governors of New Brunswick to Confederation, Part 2 of 2 – Aug. 15, 2012
  137. Lieutenant Governors of New Brunswick to Confederation, Part 1 of 2 – Aug. 8, 2012
  138. The Morrow House at French Lake, N.B. – New Information – Aug. 1, 2012
  139. Sound by Glen Glenn, Revision 1 – July 25, 2012
  140. Ann, otherwise known as Nancy – July 18, 2012
  141. The Fire of October 7, 1825 – Beyond the Miramichi – July 11, 2012
  142. Lemuel Allan Wilmot – July 4, 2012
  143. The Great Fire at Miramichi, October 7, 1825 – June 27, 2012
  144. Robert Rankin in New Brunswick – June 20, 2012
  145. Who Owned the Mill at Tracy, New Brunswick? – June 13, 2012
  146. Signatures of Sunbury County Ancestors – June 6, 2012
  147. Daniel Wood’s Log Cabin, and Little Field Barn at French Lake, New Brunswick – May 30, 2012
  148. Rusagonis and George Garraty – May 23, 2012
  149. Epitaph Transcriptions from a Collection – May 16, 2012
  150. Central New Brunswick Gravestones from a Genealogy – May 9, 2012
  151. Nashwaak River Pictures with Stewart Family Connections – May 2, 2012
  152. More Sunbury County Photographs from a Collection – Apr. 25, 2012
  153. An Indian Burial Ground at Oromocto; and Coal Mining on the Oromocto River – Apr. 22, 2012
  154. “Days of Old” by Katherine DeWitt and Norma Alexander – Apr. 18, 2012
  155. The Wood Cemetery at French Lake, New Brunswick – Apr. 11, 2012
  156. James Glenie in New Brunswick – Apr. 4, 2012
  157. Four Generations of the Stewart Family on the Nashwaak River – Mar. 28, 2012
  158. Three Generations of the Mersereau Family in New Brunswick – Mar. 21, 2012
  159. Three Generations of the Smith Family of Sunbury County, New Brunswick – Mar. 14, 2012
  160. Three Generations of the Wood Family of French Lake, New Brunswick – Mar. 7, 2012
  161. New Brunswick Education in 1883 – Feb. 29, 2012
  162. Riots and Demonstrations in Saint John – Feb. 20, 2012
  163. Making Better Butter – Feb. 18, 2012
  164. York County Place Names, 1896/1905 – Feb. 8, 2012
  165. Sunbury County Place Names, 1896/1905 – Feb. 1, 2012
  166. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 3 of 3 – Jan. 25, 2012
  167. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 2 of 3 – Jan. 18, 2012
  168. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 1 of 3 – Jan. 11, 2012
  169. The Hon. Thomas Baillie: Gone, but not soon forgotten! – Jan. 5, 2012
  170. The Fort at Oromocto, 1780 – 1783 – Dec. 29, 2011
  171. The Great Fire in Fredericton, 1850 – Early Accounts – Dec. 15, 2011
  172. The Morrow House at French Lake, and More – Dec. 8, 2011
  173. The Old Woman House at French Lake, New Brunswick – Dec. 1, 2011
  174. Smith Family Photographs from a Collection, Sunbury County, N.B. – Nov. 25, 2011
  175. French Lake from Before we Remember – Nov. 20, 2011
  176. How Geary became known as Geary – Nov. 9, 2011
  177. Elizabeth (Smith) Secord; N.B.’s First Woman Registered Doctor – Nov. 4, 2011
  178. Phillips Family Photographs from a Collection, Rusagonis, N.B. – Nov. 2, 2011
  179. Mersereau Family Photographs from a Collection, Sunbury County, N.B. – Oct. 30, 2011
  180. Wood Family Photographs from a Collection, French Lake, N.B. – Oct. 25, 2011
  181. Jeremiah Tracy: Pioneer of the Village of Tracy, New Brunswick – Oct. 20, 2011
  182. Two Old Railroad-Inspired Songs – Oct. 16, 2011
  183. Ode to the Oromocto River – Oct. 10, 2011
  184. John Mersereau, Loyalist 2 – Oct. 4, 2011
  185. The Earliest American Railroads and Locomotives – Sept. 14, 2011
  186. The Mersereau Manufacturing Company of Brooklyn, New York, Notes – Sept. 3, 2011
  187. George Morrow of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1801-1868 – Aug. 26, 2011
  188. The Wood Family of French Lake, New Brunswick – Legends – Aug. 9, 2011
  189. The Baptist Church on the Oromocto River in New Brunswick – Aug. 7, 2011
  190. John Wood of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1788-1868 – Aug. 2, 2011
  191. Daniel Wood of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1764-1847 – Aug. 1, 2011
  192. Three Stewarts on the Nashwaak – July 24, 2011
  193. Bunker Genealogy – Five Bunkers – July 20, 2011
  194. Statistics From the 1851 and 1871 Sunbury County New Brunswick Census Reports – July 19, 2011
  195. Historical Development of the Beam Bending Equation M=fS – July 18, 2011
  196. Seth Noble, Maugerville and the American Revolution – July 16, 2011
  197. Columns, the Long and the Short of it – 1729-1900 – July 15, 2011
  198. The Great Saint John Steel Cantilever Bridge – July 13, 2011
  199. The Upper Oromocto River in 1847 – July 11, 2011
  200. Early Glimpses of the Rusagonis Baptist Church in New Brunswick – July 11, 2011
  201. Abraham Gesner’s 1847 Observations of Sport Hunting in New Brunswick – July 11, 2011
  202. It Sounds a bit Too Easy – July 10, 2011
  203. James Buncker – July 10, 2011
  204. Inconsistent Petitions; Changed Self-Interests – July 10, 2011
  205. Abner Mersereau and a Letter – July 9, 2011
  206. Early Glimpses of the Patterson Settlement Baptist Church in New Brunswick – July 9, 2011
  207. The Textile Mill at Geary, New Brunswick – July 8, 2011
  208. Letter of Mi’kmaq’ Chief Pemmeenauweet to Queen Victoria – 1841 – July 7, 2011
  209. New Brunswick in the 1840s – July 7, 2011


John Wood

Written by johnwood1946

November 26, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

A Night in the Deep

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From the blog at

The following story of a nearly fatal adventure was written by Henry Town, and appeared in The New Brunswick Magazine, Volume 2, Number 6, Saint John, N.B., 1899. It is a story of deception and of being lost on the sea, while rafting deals on the Northumberland Strait. It was likely enhanced by the person who first told the story, but, as with all such tales, will contain elements of truth.

Ice Boat Service

Ice Boat Service, Northumberland Strait, about 1885

The New Brunswick Museum via the McCord Museum


A Night in the Deep

“Oh yes, the water looks well enough to you, I dare say; but for my part, I can’t bear the look of it!”

I had been driving along the New Brunswick shore of Northumberland Strait one glorious summer morning; and the noon tide hour having arrived, was now in quest of a place of refreshment for man and beast. I had not seen the usual sign denoting such an establishment, since early morning; and being a total stranger in the province, had not yet learned that my friendless position gave me a claim upon the hospitality of the people, gladly and bountifully recognized by all who had anything in the way of hospitality to offer.

Neither did I notice that I had nearly run over an elderly gentleman in a straw hat with a very wide brim and a very high pointed crown, till his exclamation of alarm drew my attention to him. I had reached a sharp turn just as the elderly gentleman was about to cross, carrying a pail of water from a roadside spring.

One glance, however, a moment after, must have assured the old man of his personal safety, and have shown him that, in my anxiety to clear him, I had reined the horse in and was now backing across the road towards the ditch, which I should soon have reached had he not seized the horse’s bridle in time to save us from toppling over.

“Ah! man, who has been the fool to trust you with a horse?” was the somewhat contemptuous though justifiable query when we were all safe again in the middle of the road.

When the excitement consequent upon this little incident had subsided, I began to enquire the where abouts of the nearest public house, with a view to dinner.

He informed me that the nearest house of the kind was still three miles ahead, but that I might have dined at any farm house along the road. Now, however, the noon hour being nearly spent, he supposed I would have to be satisfied with the meal his poor place could supply, unless I cared to run the risk of faring worse by going farther.

I gladly accepted his hospitality, and after dinner we sat upon a pile of logs beside the house, the old man smoking his pipe and I to windward of him, inhaling the sweet scent of fir balsam from the wood, and gazing at the fair prospect of grain fields and meadow land extending right down to the sea, which here lay before us, as still and blue as the tideless Mediterranean.

It was then, in answer to my expression of admiration of the beauty of the scene, that the old man used the words with which this story opens.

Observing the expectant look with which I greeted this peculiar announcement he proceeded to recount the following adventure:

I had been in this province less than a year, working in the lumber woods most of the time, when, the following summer I obtained employment rafting deals for shipment in the vessels which always take in their cargoes outside the bar; the water within being too shallow to admit of anything larger than a fishing schooner riding at anchor in low water.

We built our rafts then as they do now, at the mills at the mouth of the river, by placing the deals in rows, one on top of the other, close together, each row being laid at right angles to that below it, the whole being securely bound by ropes or by stakes running through auger-holes in extra planks, extending across the ends of the raft, above and below. In calm weather two men can easily float one of these rafts out to the vessel that is to receive it, and this work usually fell to me and a man named Foster. But Foster and I were not on good terms. I had, unfortunately, upon one occasion, knocked him off the edge of a raft into the water with one of the planks with which we were making the raft, and although the accident was due as much to his clumsiness as to any fault of mine, he laid the blame upon me, and vowed to “take it out” of me some day. I did not regard this altogether as an idle threat, for the man was known to be of a vindictive temperament, and I supposed he would choose some unguarded moment to give me a ducking in return for the one he had received. And the sequel proved the correctness of my surmise. But I fell short in my estimation of the malignaity with which he intended to carry out his revenge.

It was towards the close of the summer when, with a gang of men, we were loading a bark at the mouth of the Chimogoui River, from a place about five miles up the Shore, that Foster and I were to be ready one night to take a raft that had been completed during the day, to a point of land about half a mile from the vessel, so that no time might be lost in loading next day. The raft was not ready until late that evening, and then we had to wait for the tide to float us off.

At ten o’clock that night, when I returned to the raft, I found Foster already there and grumbling about our being late in getting off. He said he was afraid we should hardly get over the bar now, as the tide was already running out, and the raft was an unusually heavy one. But there was a good breeze blowing off the shore, and I knew there would be plenty of water. We hurried up, removed the poles which were driven into the mud outside the raft to hold it in its place, tied our boat to the raft and pushed off.

We got over the bar safely, and were fairly on our way down shore, when Foster said he was going to the tavern at the Point, for a bottle of rum he had promised old Comeau he would take to one of the crew of the bark. I objected a little to his leaving the raft at all, but he said he could row back in fifteen minutes, which was true enough, and that the raft would go straight along now, for an hour or more, without any trouble. So he took the boat, and in about five minutes he had landed at the Point. But at the expiration of the quarter of an hour, he had not returned; and the raft, favoured by wind and tide, had got well into deep water. Still, I was not particularly anxious about it. When, however, at the end of nearly an hour, he had not come back, and the wind, beginning to stiffen, was driving the raft out to sea, I began to fear that old Comeau’s bottle of rum had been too strong a temptation for Foster’s power of resistance. The evening had been moonlight, but towards ten o’clock, the sky became cloudy, and it was now so dark that I could not see the shore.

By this time I was going down the strait at a pretty swift rate towards Cape Traverse, for the wind and tide were in that direction. But the nearest point of Prince Edward Island, just there, was twenty-five miles away, and the raft was now too far out for me to hope that it might touch one of the points on the New Brunswick side. I tried hard to keep towards the western shore, hoping to pass near the bark and attract the attention of the people on board by the light of the lantern which was attached to a piece of upright deal. I soon discovered, however, to my great annoyance, that the light was going out. I could not leave my steering gear for the purpose of attending to the lantern, as the wind was freshening every instant, and blowing the raft out to sea in spite of my efforts to keep it inshore; and the waves were dashing against the sides and over the surface of the raft, making it heave and tremble and rock so that at times I could hardly keep my feet.

Presently the light went out altogether, and now, as in total darkness and despair of being able to reach the shore, I drifted helplessly down the channel, the thought flashed upon me that all this was a trick of Foster’s. I had, myself, filled the lantern and trimmed it in the afternoon. It was alight and fixed upon the piece of upright deal when I returned to take out the raft at ten o’clock. He must have emptied out the greater part of the oil before lighting the lantern.

Evidently he had not forgotten his threat to get even with me, nor neglected his opportunity.

Up to this time, however, I had no fear for my personal safety. The raft had been swept on down the straits past the place where it was to have been anchored for the night and past the bark for which it was intended, but at too great a distance to be seen, or my shouting to be heard; and on it would go, of course, till the morning when it would be sure to be seen by one of the vessels constantly passing through the channel, or by people on shore. There would be a heavy bill for towage.—But what was that? A cracking, bumping sound at the tail of the raft. I stooped down and discovered that the stakes which fastened the binding planks had been sawn nearly through, and that, unable to bear the strain, they had at length given way, allowing the lower tiers of deals to escape.

The awful certainty that I was lost now burst upon me. I could do nothing to save the raft, but I quickly got four deals from the upper layer, intending to lash them together to form a sort of float—but only to find that my treacherous mate must have taken the rope away with him in the boat. Quickly, and with a grating, gurgling sound, the deals, one by one, kept floating away, till there was but a small portion of the raft left. This, at length, gave way, and I fell into the black and chilly water. I managed, however, to grasp a plank, and, after a while, to get astride of it. At first, I experienced great difficulty in sustaining myself at all, for whenever I grasped the plank at a point away from its centre, it sank so deep that I had to let go of it. After a while, however, I found the middle of the plank, and drifted along miserably upon it till morning. I have heard that those who are in danger of death by drowning surfer untold mental anguish; that the recollection of their misdeeds crowds upon their memory, and seems to add to the force that is dragging them down. But no thought of home, no regrets for the past, no fears for the future oppressed me while 1 was struggling to maintain my seat on that plank. Only a fierce determination to defeat the purpose of the villain who had planned so miserable a fate for me. But when, towards dawn, the wind had gone down, and I had been drifted into smoother water, and could hold on to the plank with less effort, and my limbs and more than half submerged body were benumbed and weary, in spite of my perilous position I felt an inclination to sleep. Then at intervals, came brief remembrances of home, and of events which happened in my boyhood, hardly yet passed away. And by and bye I found myself repeating a verse of a hymn “for those at sea.” And yet it seemed to be not I, but the choir of a church in Glasgow, singing it as they did one Sunday evening just before I had left home, and over and over again came the words:

“O hear us, when we cry to Thee, For those in peril on the sea.”

But at sunrise I managed to throw off the lethargy that seemed to be overpowering me, and to look about me in the hope of being seen by one of the fishing boats that usually come out at dawn during the mackerel season; and there, to my unutterable joy, was one approaching. I was saved, and strange to say, in a couple of days was none the worse for the perilous voyage I had made across Northumberland Strait, unless it be this rheumatism. Oh, but that was a long while ago. And the old man got up slowly from his seat on the log, as though the very remembrance of that awful night in the deep had chilled every muscle and joint in his body.

Written by johnwood1946

November 26, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Robert Foulis (A Misplaced Genius)

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From the blog at

This is the story of Robert Foulis, who invented the first steam-powered fog horn, and is by Percy G. Hall. Hall read a similar paper before the Natural History Society, at St. John, in April, 1898, and this version was published in The New Brunswick Magazine, Volume 1, Number 1, also in 1898.

Quoting from the paper, “Let us, then, remember Robert Foulis as a man of remarkable gifts, as one of our pioneer scientists, and as one who was deeply interested in the welfare, educational and otherwise, of his adopted city. He did much for others with little profit to himself. In another sphere and under other conditions he might have had both wealth and power. As it was, he seems to have been a misplaced genius.”

Original Steam Horn

Original Steam Fog Horn at Partridge Island, ca. 1880 New Brunswick Museum via the McCord Museum


Robert Foulis (A Misplaced Genius)

This first steam fog alarm in America and in the world was that invented by Robert Foulis and built at Partridge Island, at the entrance of St. John harbor. To him also is due the credit of the invention of the system of signalling by steam at sea in foggy weather. The fog alarm which is at the Island today is essentially that which was placed there by Foulis. There have been some modifications and adaptations since his time, the clockwork attachment is no longer used, but the great principle of the invention remains as it was. More than this, the Foulis’ whistle is heard along the coast of America and beyond the ocean, but the credit and the emoluments have alike gone to others who have profited by what was one of the great inventions of the time, which the inventor had not the commercial instinct to protect by patents which might have made him, or those who followed him, wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice.

Here and there throughout the world the visitor to fog signal stations may read the name of this or that man as the patentee of the alarm itself or of some petty improvement. The name of Robert Foulis is not even recorded above his grave in the Rural Cemetery of the city of his adoption, and of the thousands who pass the spot scarcely any know that there rests beneath the earth the earthly frame of one who should have been a great man, and would have been one had he possessed the business instinct in even a small ratio to his ability and the extent of his scientific attainments. Had Foulis had a different environment, had he been under the guidance of a clear sighted patron, he would have been a famous man. As it was, he lived and died a misplaced genius.

Robert Foulis was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on The 5th of May, 1796. His father, Andrew Foulis, was the successor to that celebrated firm of Glasgow publishers, Andrew and Robert Foulis, which produced so many beautiful and accurate editions of the classic authors. His mother was a Miss Dewar. After passing through the usual school career he was sent to the university of his native town, where for some time he bent his energies to the study of surgery. Unfortunately his strength was overtaxed, and he was forced to abandon further study until his health should have improved. In the meantime he received and accepted an offer from a friend of his father to join a whaling expedition in the capacity of surgeon. Returning home after an extended voyage, he decided to abandon the study of surgery, and apprenticed himself to a relative named Thompson, who was engaged in the engineering business. On becoming a journeyman he removed to Belfast, where he followed the profession of a painter under the patronage of a nobleman whose name is now forgotten. Here he met his first wife, a Miss Elizabeth Leatham, by whom he had a daughter. The death of his wife occurred not long after this, however, and he determined to try his fortune in the new world, choosing Ohio as his destination. With this intention he took passage in a vessel bound for a port in the United States, but it was fated that he should never reach the point for which he had started. Very rough weather was encountered on the voyage, and the vessel was finally cast away on the coast of Nova Scotia. Making his way to Halifax, he was induced by some of his countrymen to remain. Instead of proceeding to his destination. Here he lived by his brush, where some of his portraits, it is said, may now be seen. Although he succeeded beyond his expectations, his roving disposition asserted itself, and he removed to St. John about the year 1822, where his card appears in the papers of the day as a miniature painter. In this, judged by the portraits which still exist and which show excellent work, he was well qualified to succeed, but the field for portrait painting was limited. Abandoning this vocation a little later, he devoted himself to civil engineering, making research meanwhile into the various fields of the science of chemistry. His residence was at the corner of Sydney and St. Andrews Streets.

In the year 1825, Mr. Foulis started the first iron Foundry in New Brunswick, on the premises near the corner of Prince William and Duke Streets, north of the present Custom house. His operations were on a small scale, it is true, but he was the first melter of iron in the city and province, and the premises were subsequently enlarged to accommodate an extensive foundry business by Thomas C. Everitt and others.

In 1826 the Provincial Government, having in view the application of steam-navigation to the trade connected with the upper portion of the St. John River, determined to institute a survey from Fredericton to Grand Falls. Foulis was appointed to carry on the work, received his instructions 21st June, 1826, and on the 21st August, precisely two months after, he submitted his map and report. “It is a grand map,” writes Prof. Ganong, “very detailed—gives by levels the drop in the river for the entire distance covered by the survey.” Another authority who possesses a copy declares that the map is well executed and shows that the surveyor was a capable man. Apparently it has not outlived its usefulness, for the General Report of the Minister of Public Works from 30th June, 1867, to 1st July, 1882, contains a “Tabular View of the River St. John from Fredericton to the Great Falls” which is based upon this very survey. The report is lengthy, about equal to fourteen type-written pages, and is to be found in the Journals of the House of Assembly for 1826.

Foulis was personally interested in the development of steam navigation, and was employed by the Messrs. Ward to fit up the steamer John Ward, the second boat placed on the St. John River. This wonderful steamer for those times was most expensively and thoroughly constructed, having a costly copper boiler and other parts of the machinery on a like liberal scale. It was put on the route to Fredericton in the year 1831.

Mr. Foulis was both a worker and a talker. At various periods of his career he lectured on scientific subjects, keeping in view the practical application of them to the useful arts and manufactures. One of his aims was to instruct apprentices and artisans in the higher knowledge of their vocations. After leaving the foundry, he secured premises in the Hay building, in Prince William Street, later the site of Smith’s building, on the lot south of the present Globe office. An eye witness thus speaks of the place and the lectures:—

“My earliest reminiscence of Mr. Foulis must be somewhere between 1837-1840. I recall a curious shaped building, the upper stories used as a paint shop and the roof of the lower story on sunny days displaying a variety of chairs ‘fresh from the brush.’ Opening on Prince William Street were two or three small shops in which Mr. Foulis delivered a course of lectures on chemistry. On one side of the shop, behind the counter, were shelves, upon which a pile of instruments, retorts, etc., were arranged; on the counter stood an electric machine, Leyden jars and other apparatus, all of deep interest to the lads who composed the audience principally. The other side was filled with seats rising upward on an inclined plane; a flag stretched across the front hid the operation from outside gazers and excluded draughts from the doors. As I have no recollection of door-keeper or display of admission tickets, I judge that the lecture was to a great extent free, the object being to awaken an interest in his auditors,—most of the older lads being apprentices to whom a knowledge of chemistry might prove very useful. The stiffness of a lecture was lacking, and at its close considerable discussion ensued at the counter. The audience behaved well, and if the experiments did not always meet the promise, they cheerfully accepted the apologies and hoped for better luck next time.”

This was in 1838. Though the lectures were, in some cases, free to casual visitors, as suggested above, yet Mr. Foulis evidently hoped to add to his small resources by subscriptions from those who wished to take regular courses, for his advertisement reads as follows:—


R. FOULIS intimates to his friends that he is now fitting up a commodious Room in Mr. T. Hay’s buildings, Prince William Street, where he will commence in a few days his proposed course of Lectures on Practical Chemistry. He will also open Classes for teaching Figures, Architectural and Mechanical Drawing, the principals of perspective, and the Elements of Mechanics.

Those persons who wish to attend either of the above Classes, will please make early application.

August 4th, 1838.

A week or two later, the idea of the lectures became developed into that of a School of Arts, or “a Seminary for the instruction of Youth in the rudiments of Mechanical and Experimental Philosophy and the Fine Arts; also for instructing by popular Lectures and Experimental Illustration, an Evening Class for Artisans, where the practical application of the Sciences to the useful Arts will be demonstrated.” Mr. Foulis further gives reasons why the patronage of the public should be expected, and announces that the lectures will be continued weekly for three months. The charges for admission tickets are regulated as follows:—

“Transferable Tickets for the Course, 20s; Artisan’s Tickets, (not transferable,) 5s.—Free Tickets will be given to a limited number of young men, on their producing a recommendation from a subscriber.—Ladies who accompany their friends admitted without tickets.”

Mr. Foulis offered himself for the office of assistant alderman for King’s ward at the civic elections of 1839, giving as his reason the belief that his Knowledge as an engineer would be of service to the city. It is probable that he withdrew before polling day, however, for the fight seems to have been between Messrs. John Knollin and Joseph Fairweather, the latter of whom was elected.

From letters patent, dated August 17, 1852, it is learned that Foulis “had firstly invented a new and useful apparatus for decomposing coal and other hydrocarbons for the purpose of manufacturing therefrom a superior gas for illumination, and also a new and economical mode of purifying the same, which apparatus the petitioner styled his Hydro-Olifiant Gas Generator, and secondly the petitioner had invented an apparatus for the purpose of decomposing empyreurmatic and essential oils and other liquid Hydro-carbons and for converting the same into illuminating gas. The second apparatus the petitioner styled the Unique Gas Maker, as it contained the means of decomposing the material so to be used.” This document proceeds to explain at length the workings of the apparatus, with frequent reference to diagrams without which no clear description can be given, and is signed by Colonel Freeman Murray, of the 72nd, Acting Governor, J. R. Partelow, Registrar, and John Ambrose Street, Attorney General.

Another work of Mr. Foulis was to draw attention to the mineral wealth of Albert County. He spent both time and money in sinking a shaft in that region, only to find that he could not operate it because it was on another man’s property.

Prior to the year 1854 there was no fog horn on Partridge Island, and warning was given to mariners by means of a bell, which operated by clockwork, rang out at intervals. The need of some more effective means was greatly felt. Foulis was the first to solve the problem, and between the years 1854-59 he agitated the adoption of a steam horn or whistle. It seems, however, that a gentleman named T.T. Vernon Smith became possessor of Foulis’s plans, and made application to the Commissioner of Lights in the Bay of Fundy to erect such a whistle on Partridge Island. The Commissioner finally accepted Mr. Smith’s offer, and in 1859 the erection was begun by Fleming & Humbert, engineers, under his superintendence. Mr. Foulis then petitioned the House of Assembly to inquire into his claim to the invention. The petition was presented by Hon, John H. Gray on April 2, 1864, and on the 11th a list of documents connected with the matter was laid upon the table. Later the select committee appointed to consider the claim, submitted its report. After stating the facts as outlined above, it declared that the whistle was made on the plan originally suggested by Foulis, and that Mr. Smith did not pretend to be the inventor. The committee also endorsed the scheme for “Telegraphing by means of the steam horn from vessel to vessel by a pre-concerted plan of sounds and intervals forming words.” The report was received by the House and on April 12th it adopted the following resolutions:—

“Whereas it appears in the official correspondence from His Grace the Colonial Secretary, laid before the House by His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor on 8th day of April instant, that the invention of the fog whistle or horn which has been of great practical utility in the Bay of Fundy, is claimed by other parties than the true inventors thereof: and Whereas among the papers and documents so sent down to the House, and also by the examination R. Foulis of the City of St. John, Civil Engineer, before the Select Committee of this House, that he is the inventor thereof, and it is but right that this fact should be made known to Her Majesty’s Government, in order that the credit and reward may be given to the proper party; therefore, Resolved, That an humble address be presented to His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, praying he will be pleased to bring the claims of Mr. R. Foulis under the favorable consideration of the British Government in this behalf, as well as in regard to his invention of Telegraphing by means of steam horns or whistles while at sea, or from Light Houses on land.”

With this recognition of his claim Mr. Foulis had to be content, for he received no pecuniary reward whatever for his inventions. At a later period an enterprising American examined the invention of the fog alarm, and, recognizing it as a good thing, he had it patented in his own name and for his own advantage.

Mr. Foulis was one of the promoters of the St. John Mechanics’ Institute, in 1838, and so zealous was he for its early welfare that he devoted for its benefit a considerable sum of money which the government granted to him as a teacher of sciences. From the Institute platform he delivered many lectures on chemistry and kindred subjects. His demonstrations and experiments did not always have the expected results, but this may be accounted for by the fact that he had to work under many disadvantages, often with apparatus made by himself and which was of necessity crude and imperfect. Yet it is affirmed that his lectures were abreast of those on the same subjects in any part of the world, and indeed the complaint was sometimes made that his discourses were too technical to be enjoyed by the casual listener.

Mention has been made of the daughter who was born at Belfast, in 1817. She was sent to her grandfather’s sister in Edinburgh, with whom she lived until the death of that relation, and there she received her early education. Her father went to Scotland and brought her to St. John when she was about twelve years old, and in course of time she founded an academy for young ladies, which enjoyed considerable popularity. Her father assisted, delivering lectures on chemistry once a week, and some of the ladies of today will vividly recall his impatience at stupidity or want of attention on the part of the pupils. Miss Foulis died in Kentville on the 22nd of October 1896, and is well remembered as a gentlewoman of wide culture. Her father married a second time, and two of the five children of that union survive him.

Like his grandfather and father, Robert Foulis died in poverty; not, indeed, in such destitution as the newspaper accounts of that time (Jan. 26, 1866) would lead us to belief, but still in very poor circumstances. He lies buried in lot No. 1061 Juniper Path, Rural Cemetery, but no stone marks his resting place.

Mr. Foulis is described as a man of middle height, spare, and of rather a florid complexion. His eyes were blue, eyebrows long and well marked, hair brown and somewhat wavy. A miniature of his father is said to resemble him, particularly as regards the upper part of the face, from which I gather that he possessed a very remarkable forehead.

Surgeon, mechanical and civil engineer, artist, engraver, inventor, foundryman, lecturer, scientist,—in all more or less successful,—as a business man he was a failure. Of a trustful disposition, he sometimes placed confidence in those who took advantage of his simplicity, and to this weakness is to be attributed much of his want of business success. Let us, then, remember Robert Foulis as a man of remarkable gifts, as one of our pioneer scientists, and as one who was deeply interested in the welfare, educational and otherwise, of his adopted city. He did much for others with little profit to himself. In another sphere and under other conditions he might have had both wealth and power. As it was, he seems to have been a misplaced genius.

Written by johnwood1946

November 19, 2014 at 9:22 AM

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The City Mills

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From the blog at

The following description of mills in the early days at Saint John was written by W.O. Raymond, and appeared in The New Brunswick Magazine, Volume 2, Number 5, Saint John, N.B., 1899.

Jewett Bros Mill

Jewett Bros. West Head Saw Mill, Saint John

ca. 1865, New Brunswick Museum


The “City Mills”

The first aboideau and dyke at the Marsh Bridge were constructed in 1788, by James Simonds, who soon afterwards built two tide saw mills there, with perhaps a grist mill in connection. The first grist mill in the vicinity, however, was situated at the outlet of Lily Lake, and was built about 1770. [Aboideau: A tidal gate to protect marshland, allowing water out at low tide but preventing its return. J.W.]

There was a saw mill at the outlet of the old mill pond, near the St. John Railway depot, as early as the year 1767. It was, of course, a tide mill and was built by Simonds and White. Later on, and prior to the arrival of the Loyalists, there was also a primitive grist mill here. “The Hazen grist mill” was, however, of later date. The story of its erection in the year 1787 is contained in the letter book of the elder Ward Chipman, found by the writer in an old dust pile not long ago. Writing to Messrs. Ludlow and Goold of New York under date, June 4, 1787, Chipman says:—

“I have a share in a set of mills erecting here, for the completion of which several materials will be wanted, which I believe can be procured much cheaper and better with you than elsewhere, a list of them is enclosed together with a letter from Mr. [Stephen] Bedell our mill-wright to his father who lives upon Staten Island, who is a good judge of the quality of the articles we want, and will attend at any time convenient to make choice of them under your direction. He is an old mill-wright, and all his life time used to the business, and his son assures us he will very readily undertake the selection. We wish the things to be shipped on board the schooner St. John, Benjamin Andrews, master. A Mr. Crookshank on board will lake charge of them. It will be best to have the mill stones and iron work put on board as ballast for fear of any difficulty in landing them here, which I imagine may in that case be avoided. The bolting cloths Mr. Crookshank can put in his chest. The amount of these articles will, I suppose, be between £20 and £30.”

The next reference to the mills in Ward Chipman’s letter book is found in a letter to his brother-in-law, Wm. Gray, dated Dec. 12, 1787, in which the following passage occurs:—

“I am concerned pretty largely in a set of Tide mills erected in the City during the last summer, which are so far completed that we have one pair of stones grinding very handsomely; and if Indian Corn is at a low price with you it will answer very well to import a quantity here. I have therefore desired Lovitt not to engage any freight after his arrival at Boston till he hears from you. Part of his freight is already engaged, but he says he shall have room for 300 or 400 bushels of Corn. If then good Indian Corn is as low with you as ½ a dollar a bushel and can be conveniently procured shall be obliged if you will ship to me by him 400 bushels. Perhaps by taking so large a quantity it may be had cheaper. Some time ago, Lovitt tells me your market was glutted with that article. It will be necessary to see that the quality is good as it will be ground intirely for family use, Indian meal being much used here by the poor.”

A more detailed account of the mills is to be found in the letter written by Ward Chipman June 8, 1788, to his old friend of Revolutionary times, Thomas Aston Coffin, then holding a prominent official position at Quebec:

“Respecting the mills which are building here in which I have an interest, the whole expense of them when completed will be about, and not more than, £2,000. At present I hold 8 sixteenths, Bliss (our Attorney General) 2 sixteenths, Mr. Hazen (my father-in-law) and a Mr. White 6 sixteenths. Of this last share 2 sixteenths, Mr. White’s proportion, will be to be disposed of and George Leonard, who is expected out from England every day, has the promise of it if he inclines to take it, but I doubt much if he will have the money to spare. If it is too small I would get you 4 sixteenths if you wish by transferring to you 2 sixteenths of my own. I can only say on the subject, that if I had it in my power I should be glad to take it myself as I think there cannot be a doubt that in the worst of times the mills will yield at least 20 per cent, and if the Province grows, as I think must be the case, a much larger profit will be realized. Mr. Hazen has the principal management of the business so that you will be sure of punctual remittal of your share of the profits. I need not add how much my own inclination and wishes are interested to have you a Partner in the concern if compatible with your other views. If this proposal meets with your approbation let me know in your next in what manner your proportion of the purchase will be advanced; let me know also what is the present price of wheat in your market. I should not have written you anything on this subject, intending to propose it upon your coming this way this summer, which from your last letter I now despair of. You would then have seen the mills and their situation, which is the only one for mills below the Falls, and being Tide mills and in an harbor which never freezes, can never have an impediment to their going. There is also a saw mill upon the same dam.”

“When I speak of the above profits, I mean only what will in all human probability arise from the Toll—but the moment we can employ any capital in the purchase of Grain for manufacturing, the profits will be more than double.”

“We hold the grounds, mill privileges, etc., for twenty-one years commencing last January at the rent of £25 currency annually. At the end of the term the Lessors are to pay us the full value of all our improvements or to extend the lease a further term at the same rent, and so “toties quoties.” * * Our contracts are made for completing the whole this summer; let me know by the first opportunity your determination.”

The “City Mills,” as they were called, were successfully operated by William Hazen for many years. Farmers on the St. John river sent their grain by water and sometimes from considerable distances as will be seen by the letter that follows:—

“Bellmonte, 8th Sept., 1791”

“Dear Sir:—By White I send two bags of wheat, not in good order, to be ground and boiled at your mill. I send likewise four empty bags to be filled with Indian meal, all of which you will please to order put on board White’s vessel on his return and send the price of the meal. You will perhaps think it extraordinary proceedings to send grist from this to your mill, but I really think it the cheapest method I can take to get grinding at this time. I am Dear Sir”

“Your most obed’t Serv’t, Dan’l Bliss”


“Bellmont,” it may be observed, is the property about eight miles below Fredericton formerly the residence of the late Lieut. Governor Hon. R.D. Wilmot and now in possession of his sons.

Written by johnwood1946

November 15, 2014 at 9:43 AM

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The Brothers d’Amours

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From the blog at

This is the story of four brothers, Louis, René, Mathieu and Bernard d’Amours, who were the non-governmental Acadian settlers on the Saint John River. It is from The New Brunswick Magazine, Volume 1, Number 1, 1898, and was written by James Hannay.

Hannay was a prolific writer about New Brunswick history. He is sometimes called a “popular historian” to distinguish him from professional historians and, unfortunately, he is also distinguished from other popular historians like W.O. Raymond and William F. Ganong. Raymond was well known for uncovering heritage documents in barns and attics; and Ganong was a more rigorous and dispassionate writer than Hannay. On the other hand, to call Hannay a “popular historian” minimizes his contributions which I do not think is fair. His writings remain a valuable source of information and are entertaining to read.

Fort Nashwaak

Fort Saint Joseph, Fort Nashwaak. Built by Villebon in 1691-92.

From Wikipedia, after Clarence Webster, “Acadia at the End of the 17th Century”


The Brothers d’Amours

The First French Settlers on the Saint John River

Most people in New Brunswick, when they speak of the first settlers on the River St. John refer to the Loyalists who came here in 1783, or to the New England men who settled at Maugerville and Sheffield twenty years earlier. Little is ever said, because but little is known, of those French inhabitants of the St. John River, who were living on its banks a full century before the era of the Loyalists, and of whom we obtain very fleeting and uncertain glimpses in the official despatches sent by the commandants of Acadia to the French government. Yet these people cannot but be interesting to us who now inhabit the land which they made their home, and if the whole story of their trials and toils could be told we would no doubt find it as full of romance as the world has found the story of Evangeline, as related by America’s greatest poet. Unfortunately, there is no possibility of going into such details with regard to the early French settlers of the St. John as the poet was able to evolve from his imagination with reference to the fictitious heroine of the Acadian exile. Yet, enough can be gathered from the records of that time to give us a fairly accurate idea of the manner of men who were living on this great river, amidst the vast Acadian wilderness, two hundred years ago.

In 1670 Acadia, which had been seized by the English in 1654, was restored to the French under the terms of the treaty of Breda, and the Chevalier de Grand-fontaine became governor of the colony. The English had held Acadia for sixteen years, yet they had done nothing to increase the number of its inhabitants, and when their fishing establishments were broken up and their forts surrendered to the French, no traces of their occupation remained, with the exception of the fort at Jemseg which they had built, and which was nothing more than a post for trading with the Indians. Fort Jemseg stood on the east side of the St. John River, and just south of the entrance to Grand Lake. It was a 120 feet long by 90 wide, enclosed by pickets 18 feet in height. On it were mounted four small guns, and within it was the house for the garrison 60 ft. by 30. Old Fort LaTour, at the mouth of the river, was then in ruins, and in 1670 there does not seem to have been a single settler, French or English, on the banks of the St. John from the Bay of Fundy to the river’s source. Rich as the territory was in every natural resource, its very vastness and the gloom of the impenetrable forest which shaded the waters of the great river seem to have deterred the humble tiller of the soil from seeking a home there. The great solitude was only broken by the passing of the canoe of the [Indian] or the movement of the wild animals of the wooded wilderness.

The commandant on the St. John River in 1670 was Pierre de Joibert, seigneur de Soulanges and Marson, an officer in the French army who had married a daughter of Chartier de Lotbiniere, who had been attorney general of New France. Joibert, although he lived but eight years in Acadia, for he died in 1678, has substantial claims to recognition as an historical figure for he was the father of Elizabeth Joibert, who was born in old Fort LaTour in 1673, and who became the wife of the Marquis de Vaudreuil, governor general of Canada, and the mother of the second Marquis de Vaudreuil who was the last French governor of Canada. Joibert seems to have wished to become an Acadian Seigneur, and he was the first grantee of territory in that part of Acadia now known as New Brunswick, under the terms of the edict made by Louis XIV on the 20th of May, 1676. This document authorized Count Frontenac, the governor general, to grant lands in New France, on condition that they should be cleared within six years. Such a condition was impossible of fulfilment, for the grants were too large to be cleared within the time specified unless the grantees had been able to place a host of tenants upon them. On the 12th Oct., 1676, Joibert, who is described in the document as major of Pentogoet (Penobscot) and commandant of the forts of Gemisick (Jemseg) and the River St. John, received a grant of a seignory called Nachouac, to be hereafter called Soulanges, fifteen leagues from Gemisick, two leagues front on each side of the St. John River, and two leagues deep inland. This grant, which contained upwards of 46,000 acres of land, embraced not only the territory occupied by Mr. Gibson’s town of Marysville, but also the site of Fredericton, St. Mary’s and Gibson, so that if Joibert’s heirs could lay claim to it now they would he multi-millionaires. Four days after the issue of this grant, Joibert obtained a second concession granting him the house or fort of Gemisick, with a league on each side of the fort, making two leagues front on the river and two leagues in depth inland. This second grant was just one half the size of the first, yet it formed a noble domain and included a fort which might easily have been made a formidable place of strength.

When Joibert died in 1678 it does not appear that he had done anything to improve or settle the valuable territory which had been granted to him by the French king. His widow and her children returned to Canada, and we hear nothing more of her in connection with the affairs of Acadia until 1691, when she received a grant of land on the River St. John of four leagues in front on the river and two leagues in depth, and opposite the grant of M. de Chauffours (called Jemseck), the centre of the grant being opposite the house at Jemseck. This document shows that the grants to Joibert had been escheated or lapsed, and that the territory they embraced had been regranted to other persons. The new grant to the widow was probably intended to compensate her in some measure for the loss of the land granted to her husband, but it does not appear that she ever occupied it or that she was able to sell it to a good purchaser. Land was then too easily obtained from the government to be of much value as a saleable commodity when in private hands.

The Sieur de Chauffours, who was in the occupation of the Jemseg territory in 1691, was one of four brothers who had come to Acadia from Quebec in 1684, or perhaps a year or two earlier. They were sons of Mathieu d’Amours, a native of Brittany who emigrated to Quebec and became a member of the Governor’s Council in 1663. He was created a member of the Canadian Noblesse. From his position in the Council d’Amours was naturally an influential personage, and, like many a modern public man, he used his power to promote the fortunes of his sons. They all received large grants of land in Acadia, and they all resided on the St. John River where they had very extensive possessions. Louis d’Amours, who assumed the territorial name of Sieur des Chauffours, had a grant of the Richibucto and Buctouche Rivers, but he afterwards became possessed of the Jemseg seigniory which had been granted to Joibert. René d’Amours, Sieur de Clignacourt, in 1684, obtained a grant of land on the River St. John from Medoctec to the Longue Sault, two leagues in depth on each side. In the same year Mathieu d’Amours, Sieur de Freneuse, was granted the land along the River St. John between Gemisick and Nachouc, two leagues deep on each side of the river. In 1695 Bernard d’Amours, Sieur de Plenne received a grant of the Kennebecasis River with a league and a half on each side of the said river, by two leagues in depth, and the islands and islets adjacent. Six years earlier the same territory had been granted to Pierre Chesnet, Sieur du Breuil, a resident of Port Royal, but this grant seems to have lapsed because the conditions as to settlement had not been complied with. At all events Bernard d’Amours got the territory to which du Breuil had possessed and the latter did not come to this side of the Bay of Fundy.

The four brothers d’Amours may be properly regarded as the first settlers on the River St. John who were not officers of the government. Governor Villebon found them here when he came to Acadia in 1690, and he appears to have conceived a strong prejudice against them. Writing to the minister in Paris 1695 he complains of the brothers d’Amours, whom he calls soi disants genteil hommes. He says,—“They are four in number living on the St. John River. They are given up to licentiousness and independence for ten or twelve years they have been here. They are disobedient and seditious and require to be watched.” In another paper it is stated of the d’Amours that “although they have vast grants in the finest parts of the country, they have hardly a place to lodge in. They carry on no tillage, keep no cattle, but live with trading with the Indians and debauch among them, making large profits thereby, but injuring the public good.” A year later we find Villebon again writing to the minister in the same strain. “’I have,”.says he, “no more reason to be satisfied with the Sieurs d’Amours than I previously had. The one that has come from France has not pleased me more than the other two. Their minds are wholly spoiled by long licentiousness, and the manners they have acquired among the Indians; and they must be watched closely, as I had the honor to state to you last year.”

It would not be quite fair to judge of the character of the d’Amours brothers by these statements, although Governor Villebon doubtless made them in good faith. Acadia, at that time, was so full of jealousies and cabals that no man escaped censure, not even Villebon himself. The French government encouraged the forwarding of complaints to France, not only against private parties but against their own officials; and the French archives are full of letters written by all sorts and conditions of men against the governors, the judges, the priests and against each other. The d’Amours were engaged in trading with the Indians and this was enough to raise the ire of the governor, who deemed such conduct an infringement of the monopoly of the company which was supposed to control the trade of Acadia. But as this company did not provide a sufficient amount of goods and sold them at exorbitant prices, nearly every person in Acadia was engaged in trading, or at all events, every person was accused of it, even Villebon himself being charged with having secret transactions with the English in the sale of furs. Even the captains of the men-of-war which arrived from France every year with supplies for the fort were engaged in trade, for they brought out goods for the traders in Acadia who were ruining the company’s business.

Fortunately we are not without the means of correcting Villebon’s statement that the d’Amours brothers had hardly a place to lodge in, kept no cattle and carried on no tillage. In August, 1689, a little English boy named John Gyles, then nine years old, was taken prisoner in an Indian raid against Pemaquid, in Maine, and carried to Acadia. He remained six years a captive among the Indians of the Upper St. John, but in 1695 was sold as a slave to Louis d’Amours de Chauffours, the oldest of the d’Amours brothers. Gyles lived with this man for more than three years, and served him so faithfully that, at the end of that time, he gave him his freedom and sent him back to his people in New England. So far from having hardly a place to lodge in, Louis d’Amours at that time had quite an extensive establishment. His residence was at Jemseg on the east side of the St. John River, and he seems to have lived in much comfort. Gyles, who published a narrative of his captivity many years afterwards, says that he did a great trade with the Indians and kept a store of which the English captive had charge while he lived there. He also possessed cattle and raised crops, and Gyles mentioned particularly one very fine field of wheat of which the birds had made great havoc. Louis d’Amours was married to Margaret Guion, a native of Quebec, and they had two children when Gyles lived with them. This lady treated the poor English captive with great kindness, and the narrative of Gyles, which has been widely circulated, has handed her name down to the present day as that of a good and true woman.

Mathieu d’Amours, Sieur de Freneuse, lived on the east side of the St. John River opposite the mouth of the Oromocto. Gyles stopped a night at his house in 1695, but he gives us no details as to how he lived. The fact that he had his residence in this fine farming country, rather than in a place more convenient for trading, would lead us to infer that he engaged largely in agriculture. His wife was Louise Guion, a sister of the wife of Louis d’Amours, and they had several children. Louise Guion, under the name of Madame Freneuse, occupies a large space in Acadian history, and for nearly ten years there was hardly a despatch or letter sent from Acadia to France which did not contain some reference to her. Unfortunately these references were not always complimentary, tor Madame Freneuse was a sort of Acadian Cleopatra who came near undermining the foundations of the little colony. One commandant she ruined and the Port Royal colony was kept in a continual state of ferment over her, for she had partisans and defenders as well as unrelenting enemies.

René d’Amours, Sieur de Clignacourt, who had a large grant of territory on the Upper St. John, does not appear to have lived upon it, but probably resided with his brother Mathieu. Bernard, about the year 1701, married Jeanne le Borgne, a granddaughter of Charles de la Tour, the most striking figure in Acadian history. René appears to have been in France in 1696 or earlier; he was probably the youngest of the four brothers. Like his brother Louis he was engaged in trading with the Indians. John Gyles, in his narrative, informs us that when he was residing with the Indians at Medoctec—“when they would come in from hunting they would be drunk and fight for several days and nights together, until they had spent most of their skins in wine and brandy, which was brought to the village by a Frenchman called Monsieur Sigenioncour.” The reader will readily recognize in this name that of René d’Amours, Sieur de Clignacourt. Perhaps we may discern in this statement, also, the principal reason for Villebon’s dissatisfaction with the d’Amours brothers. A man who was engaged in selling the Indians wine and brandy, and keeping them drunk for days until he had obtained from them all the furs they had gathered in the winter’s hunt, was not likely to be a favorite with the Acadian governor. Yet the time soon came when Villebon had good reason for looking on the d’Amours with some degree of favor for at a very critical period they rendered essential service to him and to the state.

In 1696 Villebon was established with a garrison of one hundred men at Fort Nashwaak, which was then the headquarters of Acadia. It had been chosen because it was near the principal Indian villages, and so far from the mouth of the St. John River that it could not be easily attacked by the English of Boston, with whom a constant state of war existed. The story of the combats which were carried on between 1690 and 1700 between Villebon and the English would make a paper of itself, and therefore I shall not touch upon it further than it relates to the fortunes of our first settlers, the d’Amours brothers. If settlement was tardy on the St. John River it was not without good cause, for the tiller of the soil above all things needs peace to enable him to prosper, and he is not likely to be content to live in a land where his fields are being constantly ravaged by an enemy, his buildings burnt and his cattle killed or driven away. Yet that was what he might expect if he lived on the banks of the St. John two hundred years ago.

The English made several attacks on Acadia during the last decade of the seventeenth century, but the principal one was in 1696. An expedition was fitted out at Boston in the autumn of that year and placed under the command of Col. Benjamin Church who had been a commander in the Indian war of 1675, generally known as King Phillip’s war. Church had about five hundred men with him and they were embarked in open sloops and boats. They ravaged the coast of Acadia from Passamaquoddy to the head of the Bay of Fundy, and were on their way back to Boston when they were met by a reinforcement of two hundred men in three vessels under Col. Hathorne, one of the Massachusetts Council. Hathorne, who now took the chief command, and had orders to besiege and capture Fort Nashwaak, and the expedition returned to the St. John for that purpose, and ascended the river. Villebon was attacked in his fort on the 18th of October, but after cannonading it for two days the English retired. Villebon was ably assisted in the defence of his fort by two of the d’Amours brothers, Matthieu and René, who arrived on the evening before the English appeared, with ten Frenchmen, their servants and retainers. Louis d’Amours was in France at this time and he had left his affairs in the care of his faithful English slave, John Gyles, then a lad of sixteen. I doubt whether I can tell the story of what occurred to the family of Louis d’Amours during the English invasion better than in the words of Gyles himself, who in the narrative of his captivity describes the affair thus:—

Some time after, Col. Hathorne attempted the taking of the French fort up this river. We heard of him some time before he came up, by the guard which Governor Villebon had stationed at the river’s mouth. Monsieur, my master, had gone to France, and madam, his wife, advised with me. She desired me to nail a paper on the door of her house, which paper read as follows:—

“I entreat the general of the English not to burn my house or barn, nor destroy my cattle. I don’t suppose that such an army comes here to destroy a few inhabitants, but to take the fort above us, I have shown kindness to the English captives, as we were capacitated, and have bought two, of the Indians, and sent them to Boston. We have one now with us, and he shall go also when a convenient opportunity presents, and he desires it.”

When I had done this, madam said to me, “Little English,” (which was the familiar name she used to call me by,) “we have shown you kindness, and now it lies in your power to serve or disserve us, as you know where our goods are hid in the woods, and that monsieur is not home. I could have sent you to the fort and put you under confinement, but my respect to you and your assurance of love to us has disposed me to confide in you, persuaded you will not hurt us or our affairs. And, now, if you will not run away to the English, who are coming up the river, but serve our interest, I will acquaint monsieur of it on his return from France, which will be very pleasing to him; and I now give my word, you shall have liberty to go to Boston on the first opportunity, it you desire it, or any other favor in my power shall not be denied you.” I replied:

“Madame, it is contrary to the nature of the English to requite evil for good. I shall endeavor to serve you and your interest. I shall not run to the English, but if I am taken by them I shall willingly go with them, and yet endeavor not to disserve you either in your person or goods.”

The place where we lived was called Hagimack, twenty-five leagues from the river’s mouth, as I have before stated.

We now embarked and went in a large boat and canoe two or three miles up an eastern branch of the river that comes from a large pond, and on the following evening sent down four hands to make discovery. And while they were sitting in the house the English surrounded it and took one of the four. The other three made their escape in the dark and through the English soldiers, and coming to us, gave a surprising account of affairs. Upon this news, madam said to me, “Little English, now you can go from us, but I hope you will remember your word.” I said, “Madam, be not concerned. I will not leave you in this strait.” She said, “I know not what to do with my two poor little babies.” I said, “Madam, the sooner we embark and go over the great pond the better.” Accordingly we embarked and went over the pond. The next day we spoke with Indians, who were in a canoe, and they gave us an account that Signecto town was taken and burnt. Soon after we heard the great guns at Gov. Villebon’s fort, which the English engaged several days. They killed one man, then, drew off down the river, fearing to continue longer, for fear of being frozen in for the winter, which in truth they would have been.

Hearing no report of cannon for several days, I, with two others, went down to our house to make discovery. We found our young lad who was taken by the English when they went up the river. The general had shown himself so honorable, that on reading the note on our door, he ordered it not to be burnt, nor the barn. Our cattle and other things he preserved, except one or two and the poultry for their use. At their return they ordered the young lad to be put on shore. Finding things in this posture, we returned and gave madam an account of it.

Here we are brought face to face with the realities of war and the fears and miseries it brought to those who were its victims in ancient Acadia. It is pleasing to know that the fidelity of John Gyles to his mistress did not go unrewarded. When his master returned from France in the spring of 1697, he thanked Gyles for the care he had taken of his affairs, and said he would endeavor to fulfil the promise which his wife had made. Accordingly in the following year, after peace had been proclaimed, an English sloop from Boston came to the mouth of the St. John River and Louis d’Amours sent Gyles back in her to his people from whom he had been parted about nine years.

Mathieu d’Amours did not fare so well as his brother. As he had taken part in the defence at Fort Nashwaak, the English, in coming down the river, burnt his residence and barns at Freneuse and killed his cattle. The Sieur de Freneuse was left without a house and was wholly ruined, but this was not all the price he had to pay for his loyalty to his country and his king. The exposure to which he was subjected during the siege brought on an illness from which he died, leaving a widow and a large family of young children to struggle as best they might against the world’s troubles and cares. René d’Amours, the other brother who had taken part in the defence at Fort Nashwaak, had also been ruined by the English invasion, for his goods, which were stored at Freneuse, were seized or destroyed. He afterwards joined the Indian war parties that were making raids on the English settlements of Maine. Thus the ruin wrought by war brings about reprisals and breeds more ruin and destruction of life and property.

In 1698, Governor Villebon removed his garrison from Fort Nashwaak to the old fort at the mouth of the river, on the Carleton side of the harbor, which had been originally built by Latour. Villebon died there in the summer of 1700 and his successor Brouillan, who arrived at St. John in the summer of the following year, resolved to abandon the fort there and remove the military establishment to Port Royal. This was immediately done, and as a consequence the settlers on the St. John were left without protection. As the war between France and England was renewed in the spring of 1702, these unfortunate people had no resource but to abandon their properties on the St. John and remove to Port Royal. By this time it appears that Margaret Guion, the wife of Louis d’Amours, was dead, for her sister, Madame Freneuse, had taken charge of her children and was providing for them. These children were indeed in a bad plight and were destined soon to be doubly orphaned. Their father was made prisoner by the English in 1703 and taken to Boston where he was confined in prison for more than two years. When he was liberated, under the terms of an exchange, and returned to Port Royal he was broken in health as in fortune and soon afterwards died. We learn this fact from an entry in the register of the parish of Port Royal recording the marriage of “Pierre de Morpain, commander of the Marquis de Beaupré, on the 13th August, 1709, to Mdlle. Marie d’Amour de Chauffour, daughter of the late Louis d’Amour, ecuyer, and Sieur de Chauffour, and of the late dame Marguerite Guyon,”

Madame Freneuse, who had not only her own large family to look after but also the children of her sister, appears to have removed to Port Royal about the time of the transfer of the garrison to that place. In 1701 she was a petitioner to the French government for a pension on the ground of the death of her husband and the losses he had suffered by the English invasion. Two of her sons were at that time cadet-soldiers of the companies in the Port Royal garrison, so Madame Freneuse must then have been nearly forty. Yet she had captivated the too susceptible heart of M. de Bonaventure, a brave naval officer, who was in command of the King’s ships on the coast of Acadia. Nor does it appear that Governor Brouillan was insensible to her blandishments, for he shielded her in every possible way and defended her from her enemies. The French government encouraged what may be properly described as the “pimp” system, so that every person in Acadia was a spy on someone else. In November 1702 we find de Goutins, the commissary of Port Royal, in a letter to the French government, complaining of a scandal caused by Madame Freneuse and Bonaventure. This story was repeated by others and the priests of Port Royal brought the matter to the notice of the Bishop of Quebec, who wrote to the French minister suggesting that Madame Freneuse be sent to Canada. In the autumn of 1703 Madame Freneuse had a child, but the infant was spirited away and kept at the residence of an inhabitant who lived up the river of Port Royal. Brouillan, the governor, was, however, aware of the affair, and so was one of the priests, for the child was baptized by the name of Antoine, on the 7th Sept. 1703. Yet all through these proceedings Madame Freneuse, instead of manifesting an humble and contrite spirit, held her head high, and her partisans, who included the two most influential men in the colony, the Governor and Bonaventure, made it uncomfortable for anyone who dared to look unkindly upon her. Among the letters in our archives is one from Pontif, Surgeon Major of Port Royal, to the Minister, complaining of the ill treatment which he had received from Bonaventure on account of Madame Freneuse. Even M. de LaTour, the seigneur of Port Royal, and the principal man in the colony, was made to realize the danger of offending a friend of Bonaventure, for in a letter to the Minister he protests against his interdiction and attributes it to the fact that neither he nor his wife had visited Madame Freneuse. In the autumn of 1704, Madame Freneuse was sent by Governor Brouillan to the River St. John, but she soon returned, alleging that she could not live there because the place was deserted. Brouillan had been ordered to send her to Quebec, but he excused himself on the ground that he had no opportunity of doing so. A journey from Port Royal to Quebec was a serious matter in those days. For nearly a year the cause of all this trouble lived up the river, at a distance from Port Royal, at the house of an inhabitant, but in the autumn of 1705 she went to France. She did not remain there very long, for she was again at Port Royal in the summer of 1706, and was the subject of much correspondence. Subercase, who had succeeded Brouillan as Governor, required her to live at a distance from Port Royal, but she seems to have returned to it occasionally. It was not until the summer of 1708 that the instructions of the French government with regard to this remarkable woman were carried out and she was sent to Quebec.

It might be supposed that this would be the last heard of Madame Freneuse in Acadia, for Quebec was a place which no person could leave without the consent of the Governor General. But this Acadian widow was quite irrepressible, and it would almost seem as if she had become as influential with the Quebec authorities as she was with the leading personages in Acadia. After the capture of Port Royal by the English in 1710 she turned up as emissary of the French government, and the attempt which was made in the summer of 1711 by the French inhabitants and Indians to recapture that place was thought to be due to instructions she had brought from Canada. Major Paul Mascerene, an officer of the Annapolis garrison who afterwards became Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. In his narrative of the events of 1710 and 1711 at Annapolis, has the following reference to Madame Freneuse:

About this time they dispatched almost unknown to us—the “priest” from Manis to Canada with an Acco’t as may be supposed, of all this—and at the same time a certain woman by name “Madam Freneuse,”—came from the other side of the Bay of Fundy in a Birch Canoe, with only an Indian and a young lad, her son—in the Coldest part of Winter. This woman as there is a great deal of Reason to believe was Sent by Orders from Canada, brought by Mr. St. Castine—to keep the French in a Ferment and make them backward in supplying the Garrison with any necessary’s and pry into and give an Account of our Secrets, till occasion should offer of endeavouring to drive us out of the Country. In all this Indeed She was but too lucky, tho she came with quite another story at first, she said that want of all manner of necessary’s had put her to the Extremity of venturing all—for all to cross the Bay—at that unseasonable time of the year—that the Indians of Penobscot—were entirely Starving, and that she was forc’d to come to try whether she could be admitted to live under the new Government she was upon this received Very Kindly by Sr. Chas. Hobby—and had the Liberty she desired granted to her.

Here we obtain our last glimpse of the first French settlers of the St. John River, for the documents in the archives of Acadia make no further mention of Madame Freneuse. The river had ceased to be a French possession and more than half a century was destined to pass away before the first English settler made his appearance on its banks. All the surviving members of the d’Amours family doubtless returned to Quebec, their original home; their graves are there; the fields they cleared were soon reclaimed by the wilderness. Yet, if in telling what is known of their story, I have awakened an interest in the mind of the reader in the men and manners of that bygone time, this paper will not have been written in vain.

Written by johnwood1946

November 5, 2014 at 9:34 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

John Allan’s Revolutionary Mission to the Saint John River

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From the blog at

John Allan’s Revolutionary Mission to the Saint John River


Aukpaque: Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) Summer Village Above Fredericton

Image from W.O. Raymond’s History of the River St. John

John Allan was born in Scotland, but his family moved to Halifax in 1749 when he was about four years of age. He was quite successful in Halifax, where he became a Justice of the Peace, a clerk of the Supreme Court and an Assemblyman. He was a staunch supporter of the American Revolution, however, and was named by George Washington a Colonel in the Continental Army and Superintendent for Indians, stationed at Machias, Maine.

Jonathan Eddy had raised a party and attacked Fort Cumberland in the fall of 1776, and this had prompted the British to station the ship Vulture at Saint John. This gave them control of the river and of its only significant English population, at Maugerville. Maugerville people had participated in the attack on Cumberland, and, in response, the British had extracted loyalty-oaths from the whole community.

All the while, the Americans had been trying to secure alliances with the Passamaquoddy, Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) people, and it was in Allan’s role as Superintendent for Indians that made him significant in the history of the western part of Nova Scotia, now New Brunswick. The 1776 attack on Cumberland was a significant event, but, in the end, it was a failure. Allan’s job was therefore to ‘pick up the pieces’ and to secure the loyalty of the Indians by setting up a trading establishment at Aukpaque in the Saint John River just above Fredericton. He also coordinated activities with like-minded New Englanders and Acadians on the river and along the eastern shore.

Washington had written to each of these Indian peoples, but the response was mixed. The Mi’kmaq on the eastern shore replied that “some of our Young men had [acted in] the Character of Chiefs and made a Treaty to go to war… Our natural inclination being Peace, only accustomed to hunt for the subsistence of our family, We could not Comply with the Terms—Our numbers being not sufficient, among other objections….” The Wolastoqiyik were more agreeable to an alliance, as reported by the people at Maugerville who said “Gen’l Washington’s Letter set them on fire and they are Plundering all People they think are torys.” In the end, all of the Indians decided in favour of the Americans in the matter of the Revolution.

In general, then, control of the Saint John River had become strategic to both sides in defining the geographic limits of the American Revolution. American tactics had been fairly restrained so far, since the Continental Army needed to be strategic with their resources and the Saint John River was sparsely populated. If a large force of New Brunswickers, including whites and Indians, could be assembled, together with volunteers from New England, then it might have been worthwhile to reinforce them with units of the Continental Army. Otherwise, this could not be done and, in fact, it never happened.

Most of the following is from Eastern Maine and Nova Scotia During the Revolution, … from the Journals and Letters of Colonel John Allan, …, compiled and edited by Frederick Kidder, Albany, N.Y., 1867. The journal mentions Allan in the third person, and it was therefore written by an aide. However, it was compiled day by day and on the spot.

John Allan had been waiting at Machias, Maine, for an opportunity to go to the Saint John River and to work with the Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq. On May 29, 1777 he received word that the Vulture, which had been sent in response to the Cumberland raid, had left the River. The next day he sent off seven boats and canoes full of men for Saint John. They camped the first night and arrived at Campobello on May 30th. They gathered support around the islands and on the mainland including a ‘Lovett’, who was possibly Daniel Lovett of the St. John River who had taken part in the Fort Cumberland raid. They were also joined by Seth Noble who had escaped from Maugerville in advance of the British soldiers on the Vulture.

They were a sizable party of whites and Indians when they arrived at Musquash Cove and travelled overland to Saint John. There were arguments with William Hazen and James White who were taken prisoner. James Simonds was apparently not taken prisoner, but was no more cooperative than the others and exchanged insults with the invaders.

They began their way up the River on June 3rd, leaving a party of fifteen men at the mouth of the River as guards, and proceeded to Lewis Mitchell’s house at Gagetown, taking him prisoner also. Weaponry was unloaded at several points and gifts were exchanged with the Indians, but their main destination was the Wolastoqiyik summer village of Aukpaque, located on islands above present-day Fredericton. They arrived there on the 5th of June, Seth Noble having proceeded in advance as a scout.

Feasts and celebrations between the Wolastoqiyik and their guests were necessary, particularly because Allan was seen as representing George Washington whom he, in fact, knew. The celebrations were about treating each other with honour and social bonding. The principal ingredients were speech making, exchanging gifts, feasting, and making promises of friendship. These ceremonies were formal, and important and, so, Allan was invited to the wigwam of Pierre Toma, where he found Chief Ambrose St. Aubien and other principal men gathered. St. Aubien set the tone of the meeting with a speech about his visit to Boston and how well he had been received. Strings of wampum were exchanged and there were promises of continued friendship.

Allan was invited to the wigwam of Pierre Toma again later on the same day, where he was given a seat between two principal men. He was then initiated into the Wolastoqiyik tribe and more speeches were made. Additional strings of wampum were exchanged. Allan then rose to speak, but this was not the expected protocol. He was told that the meeting had been for them to express their friendship to him, and that if he wanted to speak in return, then he should invite them to his house, which was the priest’s house which had been loaned for his use. That meeting took place two days later, on Monday, June 9, 1777.

The meeting began simply, with Allan presenting St. Aubien with a string of wampum. This was an important meeting, for St. Aubien “was dressed in a blue Persian silk coat, embroidered crimson, silk waistcoat four inches deep and scarlet knit breeches, also gold laced Hat with white cockade. N. Goudain, Blue silk trimmed with Vellum, and crimson breeches, Hat Gold laced—The other chiefs were richly dressed in their manner; their blankets were curiously laced with these ribbons—All these dined in the inner room all the young men and other Indians dined in the outer room with me and I. Marsh, and so the day concluded with diversion and jolity.”


The women’s celebration was separate from the main, men’s, celebration, and took place the next day as was the usual custom. There was dancing, fancy dress, and the firing of guns and cannon.

There were other festivities, two weeks after the main celebrations, occasioned by the arrival of several Indians from away. There was speech making, storytelling and feasting with much formal protocol. Clear social rules were observed, and several of the participants greeted one another in sequence, according to their status. Price lists were also formalized for trading, and the resulting agreement was circulated to the Mi’kmaq and Passamaquoddy Indians.

There were many people coming and going at Aukpaque. There were the Wolastoqiyik, of course, but there were also French visitors from further up the River and from as far away as Quebec. There were Mi’kmaq and white visitors from the Cumberland area and the Miramichi, and Passamaquoddy Indians, cousins of the Wolastoqiyik from the Machias and area. Allan’s time on the Saint John River only lasted for about a month and a half, but this period was filled with these visits, by which messages were received and dispatched. News of privateer activities on the Bay of Fundy came from Saint John; news of military confrontations came from the Canadas; and there was a constant flow of information from Cumberland. At one point, there was concern that the British might act against Allan, and an attempt was made to limit the outflow of Cumberlanders returning home, but some reinforcement were received from New England which reduced the manpower concerns.

They were becoming very security conscious and, on June 13, “Mr. Bromfield was walking on the back of the house he observed two people listening as he supposed, and on observing him, they walked directly away towards the bushes.” Scouts were sent down river, sentries were doubled, and instructions were issued that no one was to eat or socialize with the prisoners, Hazen, White and Mitchell. Imminent danger was anticipated, but, so far, nothing of consequence had happened.

Unease continued and a week later, on June 20th, there were rumours of two British ships in the Bay of Fundy with two or three hundred men in arms. In fact, there were three ships, the Mermaid, the Vulture and the Hope. There were some desertions at Saint John as supplies dwindled, and one prisoner escaped. A message was also received from Halifax “full of insipid nonsense,” which I wish we could read today. Hugh Quinton of Conway was a veteran of the attack on Fort Cumberland, and he spoke out against Allan’s activities. He was silenced with a reprimand.

The British had sent reinforcements to both Cumberland and to the mouth of the Saint John River. On June 30th, a party landed at Manawagonish and Allan’s men set up an ambush along the road from there to the harbour at Saint John. The British anticipated this, however, and surrounded Allan’s men, some of whom tried to hide by climbing trees. Eight of them were shot down “like little pigeons.” Some of Allan’s people at Saint John were scalped by the British and others were threatened with the same fate if they didn’t provide intelligence. The situation was critical, and those who could retreat went up river toward Maugerville and Aukpaque. Some of these threatened to desert unless they were allowed to retreat further, to Passamaquoddy.

News of the British attack caused great alarm at Aukpaque. Some of the Indians wavered. Pierre Toma proposed that he and others go on board a British ship, for example, but most of the Indians remained loyal and Toma was shunned.

The next ten days were spent in disarray and retreat. Some of the Indians, including Pierre Toma, again resolved to meet with the British and, in preparation for abandoning the place took down the bell from the chapel at Aukpaque. The Cumberlanders would have been left alone and so they also began to hide valuables and to prepare for departure also. A party was sent up the Oromocto River to remove families from there, but those families could not be found.

News was received that 100 soldiers had been dispatched to take Allan. This party turned out to be probably about fifty soldiers, but Allan had moved up the river to a French house.

Toma then argued with the other Indians who wanted to fight, first by proceeding up the Oromocto River to attack a British force from behind. They agreed that the attack should proceed, but without Toma or other men from his family. Pierre Toma and some of his family members then went on board one of the British ships, without any of the others.

On the fourth day of the rout, a party was sent down to reconnoitre at Aukpaque, but that was under occupation by the British. The party then withdrew to a French house and were nearly captured there as well. Later that night they heard cries of much distress, as one of their number had been confronted and bayonetted.

The French families did what they could to supply Allan and the Indians who were on the run, but the British commander forbade this on penalty of destroying them. Later, some of their homes were burnt and plundered, and some of them were made prisoners. The British were “determined to follow Mr. Allan to the gates of hell.”

On Sunday, July 13, 1777, they all left the Saint John River at Meductic and headed toward the Passamaquoddy River. It was “incredible what difficulties the Indians undergo in this troublesome time, where so many families are obliged to fly with precipitation rather than become friends to the Tyrant of Britain, some backing their aged parents, others their maimed and decrepid brethren, the old women leading the young children, mothers carrying their infants, together with great loads of baggage” Allan and his party were new gone, and headed for safety at Machias.

Some Thoughts About These Events:

I am left wondering what this campaign was all about. They knew that overwhelming force was the standard British response to mischief on the Saint John River and, in fact, it took only 45 days after leaving Machias before they ran for their lives. There were not enough people in New Brunswick to resist the British and it was never very likely that they would be substantially reinforced from New England. On the face of it, the mission was to monopolize trade with the Indians, but this was in aid of spreading the Revolution northward, and this was unlikely to succeed. It therefore seems that this was a minor event, doomed to failure from the start.

Allan’s accounts of the Indians were respectful. From another source, however, we find him saying that “The Indians are generally actuated according to the importance or influence anyone has who lives among them. They … will listen to every report, and generally believe it and think everything true that is told them.” (G.O. Bent, Parson Noble, Acadiensis, 1907)

Consider it from the Native perspective, however. The Revolution was a white man’s war, but the Indians had to make decisions or face the prospect of having no allies at all. They must have known that the Americans and the British both wanted their loyalty only to further their own objectives and that friendship would last only so long as it was to their advantage. Looking around, then, there were the settlers from New England, especially at Maugerville, who were mostly republican. There were also the Acadians who had no reason to support the British. The Americans had raised military forces in the area before, and had solicited the help of the Indians, while British entreaties had been less convincing. The British were away in Halifax and paid little attention to western Nova Scotia except to put down occasional rebellions. The decision to support the American side in the revolution was therefore logical only for so long as it served their own interests in the conflict.

Written by johnwood1946

October 29, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Relics of the Acadian Period

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From the blog at

Relics of the Acadian Period, by W.F. Ganong

Following is a description of several ancient artifacts from New Brunswick, from an article of the same title published in The New Brunswick Magazine, Volume 1, Number 1, Saint John, N.B., 1899. “Ancient” is to say that the artifacts are from the early days of European habitation; from the Acadian period.


Relics of the Acadian Period

In the Educational Review for March, 1897, I pointed out the interest that attaches to relics of the French or Acadian Period in New Brunswick, and described several of the more important of those known to me. These included:—the Dedication stone of the Indian Church of Saint Jean Baptiste, built in 1717 at Meductic, the Chapel Bell of the Indian Church at Kingsclear, the Athol cannon (since mounted in front of the new school building at Campbellton) and some minor objects. In the present paper are contained some additional facts upon this very attractive subject.

The Chapel Bell of the Indian Church at Kingsclear

There can be no doubt that this bell, which still calls the Maliseets of the Indian Village at Kingsclear to worship, is the same that their forefathers heard sounding from the church of Saint Jean Baptiste at Meductic in the last century. Its history has been traced in Mr. Raymond’s monographic account of the “Old Meductic Fort” (in Volume I of the Collections of the New Brunswick Historical Society), and in the article in the Educational Review above referred to. No description of the bell itself, however, has yet been published. In the summer of 1897, I was able, through the kindness of Father O’Leary, who is in charge of this mission, to examine the bell and to make wax impressions of its inscription. It hangs in the belfry of the Indian church, is of the usual bell shape, 11½ inches high, 8 in its smaller and 14 inches in its extreme diameter, and is perfectly plain except for some ridges running around it and the design shown in the accompanying cut, drawn from the wax impressions, and here reproduced three fourths the actual size [obviously to a different scale in this blog posting]. Four raised fleur de lis radiate from a circle, within which is a wreath surrounding a crown below which are two words, the first IACQVES, perfectly distinct, and the second, very indistinct, HURES or possibly HURET. The indistinctness is due to the corrosion of the letters through weathering. This name Jacques Huret is no doubt the name of the maker, and it is disappointing that no other inscription occurs upon the bell.


In the old church register preserved by Father O’Leary occur some very interesting entries of which one refers to the bell. The register is entitled,—“Registre de la Mission d’Ekouipahag en La Riviére St. jean dans la province de La nouvelle ecosse commencé au mois d’aout mil sept cent soixante sept par nous pretre sousigné, successeur du pere germain jésuite. les actes des baptemes, mariages et sepultures faits par le missionaire ont eté perdus ou pendant la guerre, ou pendant lespace de trois ans que cette mission n’a point eté deservie. charles francois Bailly ptre.”

The following refers to the bell:—

“Nayant plus de sauges malecites en le premier village depuis le R p Sauvergeat jésuite je fis enlever un tabernacle autrefois doré, uns statue de la ste vierge deux chandeliers de cuivre un encensoir et navette aussi de cuivre, je fit aussi detruire la chapelle qui ne servoit plus que de refuge aux voyageurs pour les plus profanes usages, il y avoit aussi une moyenne cloche qui je fis aussi enlever avec le reste pour etre transporter a ekouipahag. et le tout doit etre restitute [illegible word] mission est retablie. Charles francois Bailly.”

Thus we see that the bell was brought from Meductic, which had been abandoned by the Indians, to Aucpac [Springhill] by direction of Rev. Charles Bailly himself, and that the chapel at Meductic was destroyed by his orders to prevent its profanation by voyageurs. There are also in the Kingsclear church a brass censer, supposed to be that mentioned in the register, and a processional cross, with fleur de lis, said by tradition to have been brought from Meductic. These articles were of course taken to Kingsclear when the Indians removed there from Springhill in 1794.

The Rochefort Bell of St. Mark’s Church Westmorland

Curiously enough, another New Brunswick church has in constant use a bell associated with the Acadian period of our History. It hangs in the belfry of St. Marks Church at Mount Whatley, Westmorland. My attention was first called to it by Mr. W.C. Milner, Who so thoroughly knows Westmorland history and antiquities; and the rector, Rev. Donald Bliss, allowed me to examine it. It is considerably larger than the Kingsclear bell and in perfect preservation. It is 17 inches high, 22 in extreme and 7½ inches in least diameter. It is rather elaborately ornamented, many lines and ridges encircle it, and on one side are three raised fleur de lis arranged in a triangle. Near the top, there runs around it a line of raised scroll work of much beauty. Beneath this line is the most important feature of the bell, a perfectly preserved raised inscription, which, as traced directly from the letters, is given below, reduced to about two-thirds the actual size [obviously to a different scale in this blog posting]. Though for convenience in engraving and printing the words are here arranged in four lines, on the original they run in a single line around the bell.


Little more is actually known of the history of this bell than is contained in this inscription, which shows that it was cast “To the glory of God” by F.M. Gros in Rochefort in 1734. The local tradition is that it hung over one of the Acadian churches in this region prior to the Expulsion, and in all probability this is correct. There were, however, at least three important churches in this vicinity just prior to the Expulsion, one at Tintamarre, (Upper Sackville) one near Fort Beausejour, and one at Beaubassin, near Fort Lawrence. But there is nothing to show to which of the three the bell belongs.

The corner stone of the Beaubassin church was found many years ago, and happily, it is now preserved in the Museum of St. Joseph’s College at Memramcook. The inscription is given in full by Rameau de Saint Pere in his “Colonie féodale”, (second ed. Montreal, vol. II, page 64,) showing that the church was built in 1723. Possibly it was on this church that the St. Mark’s, bell hung. It is of interest to note that it was made in Rochefort, in the very part of France whence most of the Acadians came to Acadia. Some facts of interest relating to old bells in Cape Breton, are given by Sir John Bourinot, in his “’Cape Breton”, 268.

The Bronze Flagon from the Old Fort on Miscou Harbor

There is in possession of Mrs. Alexander McDougall, of Oak Point, Miramichi, a bronze flagon of considerable interest. It was found some ten or twelve years ago on the site of the so-called, “old Fort” supposed to be that built by Nicolas Denys, about 1750, at the point called on the maps, Pecten Point, on Miscou Harbor. The finding of the flagon at this point and its sale to the late Mr. McDougall, is well known locally, as I am informed by Rev. J.R. Doucet, of L’Amec. Dr. Philip Cox has been kind enough to send me a description of it with two very good photographs. Dr. Cox describes it as follows:—“The circumference of the base is about fourteen inches, of the lip it was probably twenty-five. Depth about five and a quarter inches; thickness of bronze about one quarter inch. One trunnion can be seen in position, and with its mate probably supported it in a framework in which it hung of its own weight, as they are above the centre of gravity. There is an attempt at ornamentation on five oblong octagonal-shaped plates, about two and a half inches long by one and a half inches wide, which from their irregular outline and want of symmetry on the sides would seem to have been merely thin strips cut out and brazed on, but operatives in foundries say they would all have melted off by the heat which disfigured it, had they not been cast on. A horizontal rectangular one contained the date in relief. A series of small diamond shaped ones alternated with the five larger. There seems to be no particular design on these, though the surface presents a resemblance to confused leaves and vines and grooves.” The date, showing distinctly on the photographs, is 1601.

The interest of this flagon lies not only in its authenticity as a relic of the old settlement at Pecten Point, but also in the possibility it affords of determining what kind of an establishment stood there. We know that Denys had a settlement in this vicinity but do not know its exact site, and in all probability the old Jesuit Mission of St. Charles stood somewhere on Miscou Harbor. Since the flagon is so badly injured by fire, it is fair to infer that the building with which it was burnt stood where it was found. If now some expert in ancient vessels of this kind could tell to what use it was put, whether in some particular service of the church, or simply in the wassails of grand seigniors, thus pointing to the probable use of the building in which it was burnt, it would go far towards determining whether it was Denys’ settlement that stood here, or the Mission of St. Charles.

Other Objects

Of course the few objects mentioned in this and the preceding paper by no means exhaust the list of extant relics of the Acadian Period, but they include all I know that combine unquestionable authenticity with general historic interest. There are in the Museum of St. Joseph’s College, Memramcook, many minor objects undoubtedly belonging to this period. Among them is a key supposed to be that of the church of Grand Pre, though its history, as M. Placide Gaudet writes me, is altogether traditional and not documentary. Dr. Cox tells me that two old pictures believed to have been saved from the burning church at “Burnt Church”’ in 1759 are still in possession of that parish. The recently issued Proceedings of the Natural History Association of Miramichi mentions “a number of interesting relics of early French occupation” in their museum, and various medals, crosses, rings, etc. of this period are known in various parts of the province. M. Gaudet tells me the chalice used in the chapel of “Les Dames de Ste. Anne” in the church of St. Thomas at Memramcook is the one formerly used in the church at Tintamarre. This, with other objects belonging to that church, were hidden in the woods at the time of the Expulsion and were recovered in 1768 by some of the first colonists of Memramcook, who knew of their hiding place. M. Gaudet has also told me of other minor relics, without doubt of this period, and of course there must be among the Acadian families of Memramcook and elsewhere numerous objects descended to them from pre-Expulsion days. As to the authenticity of most such objects, however, the evidence is purely traditional, and while they have great personal interest for their possessors, they are of little general historic importance.

It is most unfortunate that New Brunswick has no provincial historical museum into which such objects can gradually be gathered, properly exhibited, and preserved for future generations to whom they will be of far greater interest than they are to us.

W. F. Ganong

Written by johnwood1946

October 22, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Posted in Uncategorized


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