New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Table of Contents, Rev. March 25, 2015

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

  1. Things This Morning Really Wear the Aspect of War – Mar. 25, 2015
  2. At Portland Point – Mar. 18, 2015
  3. Electrical Power From the Reversing Falls – Mar. 10, 2015
  4. Father Rale’s War – 1722-25; How it Ended – Mar. 4, 2015
  5. What Was the Big Deal About the Marco Polo? – Feb. 25, 2015
  6. Grand Manan to Petitcodiac, in 1786 – Feb. 18, 2015
  7. A Trip From St. John to Fredericton in 1870 – Feb. 11, 2015
  8. A Tour of St. John, N.B., in 1870 – Feb. 4, 2015
  9. Destruction by Fire of the First Cathedral in Chatham – Jan. 28, 2015
  10. Burgan the Burglar – Jan. 21, 2015
  11. Facts and Reasons Against Confederating With Canada – Jan. 14, 2015
  12. Discontent in Early Halifax in 1756 – Jan. 7, 2015
  13. A Trip on the ICR From Bathurst to Miramichi – Dec. 31, 2014
  14. Early Attempts to Introduce the Cultivation of Hemp in Eastern British America – Dec. 24, 2014
  15. Touring Campbellton and Dalhousie, Despite the Mosquitoes, 1876 – Dec. 19, 2014
  16. The Fire of 1837 in Saint John – Dec. 10, 2014
  17. The Cruise of the Rechab – Dec. 3, 2014
  18. A Night in the Deep – Nov. 26, 2014
  19. Robert Foulis (A Misplaced Genius) – Nov. 19, 2014
  20. The City Mills – Nov. 15, 2014
  21. The Brothers d’Amours – Nov. 5, 2014
  22. John Allan’s Revolutionary Mission to the Saint John River – Oct. 29, 2014
  23. Relics of the Acadian Period – Oct. 22, 2014
  24. Some Odd Old Advertisements – Oct. 15, 2014
  25. The Miramichi Fire – Relief of the Sufferers – Oct. 8, 2014
  26. Jonathan Eddy’s Account of the Attack on Fort Cumberland, November, 1776 – Oct. 1, 2014
  27. Which of These Two is the Wisest and Happiest? – Sept. 24, 2014
  28. Fredericton Bridge, a Prophetic Writing – Sept. 17, 2014
  29. A Speech to Distinguished Persons of Stake and Consideration – Sept. 10, 2014
  30. Building an Education System From Almost Nothing – Sept. 3, 2014
  31. Cape Tormentine to the Baye des Chaleurs in the 1600’s – Aug. 27, 2014
  32. The Customs of the Mi’kmaq in the 1600’s and Before – Aug. 20, 2014
  33. Two Documents Relating to the Fenians in New Brunswick – Aug. 13, 2014
  34. The Lazaretto for Lepers in Tracadie, 1862 – Aug. 6, 2014
  35. Thoughts About the Augustine Mound at Metepenegiag Mi’kmaq Nation – July 30, 2014
  36. What am I Bid for This Pauper? – July 23, 2014
  37. Trouble at Madawaska, 1831 – July 16, 2014
  38. The Great Fire at Saint John, June 20, 1877 – July 9, 2014
  39. The Poor Fellows Shook as if They Would Fall to Pieces! – July 2, 2014
  40. How to Build a Logging Camp in Around 1850 – June 25, 2014
  41. Risen from the Ashes, Phoenix Square in Fredericton – June 18, 2014
  42. Rocks and Water, Magnificence and Squalor; St. John in 1876 – June 11, 2014
  43. Moncton as Seen by a Journalist in 1876 – June 4, 2014
  44. Events Leading to the Caraquet Riots of 1875 – May 28, 2014
  45. A Dramatic Account of the Miramichi Fire – May 21, 2014
  46. Saint John in the Early 1840’s – May 18, 2014
  47. A Note to Subscribers, and a Memorandum for me – May 14, 2014
  48. The Myth that Kerosene was Invented in New Brunswick – May 7, 2014
  49. A Church with Military Boots and Fixed Bayonets – Apr. 30, 2014
  50. An Opening Salvo in an Ongoing Argument – Apr. 23, 2014
  51. May living worms his corpse devour – Apr. 16, 2014
  52. He don’t look any better than some of our own boys – Apr. 9, 2014
  53. The Disputed Territory Between New Brunswick and Maine – Apr. 2, 2014
  54. Navigation on the Saint John River – Mar. 26, 2014
  55. Shepody as a Hot Investment Opportunity, 1868 – Mar. 19, 2014
  56. To Her Majesty, RE: Reciprocity, 1853 – Mar. 12, 2014
  57. Diary on the Tobique, 1851 – Mar. 5, 2014
  58. Growing up in Fredericton in the 1820s and 1830s – Feb. 26, 2014
  59. Travels From Eastport, Maine, to Fredericton, 1851 – Feb. 19, 2014
  60. The Saint John General Public Hospital, 19th Century, Part 2 of 2 – Feb. 12, 2014
  61. The Saint John General Public Hospital, 19th Century, Part 1 of 2 – Feb. 5, 2014
  62. The Story of the Great Brothers – Jan. 29, 2014
  63. A Trek up the Tobique, and Onward to Bathurst – Jan. 22, 2014
  64. Summer Tourists. A Manual for New Brunswick Farmers – Jan. 19, 2014
  65. A Trek from Grand Falls to Campbellton, 1862 – Jan. 15, 2014
  66. A Trek From Taymouth to Boisetown, 1862 – Jan. 12, 2014
  67. Capt. William Owen’s Journal, Campobello, 1770-71 – Jan. 8, 2014
  68. The Founding of Campobello Island – Jan. 5, 2014
  69. New Brunswick Roads and Railways, 1855 – Jan. 1, 2014
  70. Grand Manan – Dec. 29, 2013
  71. The Shipyard Fire in Saint John, in 1841 – Dec. 26, 2013
  72. Christmas as it Was in Saint John, in 1808 – Dec. 22, 2013
  73. The Saint John Grammar School – Dec. 18, 2013
  74. William Wishart Blasts the New Brunswick Education System, 1845 – Dec. 15, 2013
  75. The Diary of Sarah Frost – Dec. 11, 2013
  76. Pŭlěs, Pŭlowěch′, and Beechkwěch (Pigeon, Partridge, and Nighthawk) – Dec. 10, 2014
  77. The Government of New Brunswick, 1837 – Dec. 4, 2013
  78. The Whales and the Robbers – Dec. 1, 2013
  79. The Ashburton Treaty – Nov. 27, 2013
  80. Glooscap and His Four Visitors – Nov. 24, 2013
  81. The Pioneers of Saint Stephen – Nov. 20, 2013
  82. The Adventures of Kâktoogwâsees; a Tale of Ancient Times – Nov. 17, 2013
  83. The Asylum at Saint John – Nov. 13, 2013
  84. The Liver-Colored Giants and Magicians – Nov. 10, 2013
  85. Smuggling Between Calais and St. Stephen – Nov. 6, 2013
  86. The Two Weasels – Nov. 3, 2013
  87. A note to subscribers – Oct. 30, 2013
  88. The European and North American Railway, 1862 – Oct. 30, 2013
  89. The Origin of the War Between the Mi’kmaq and the Kwěděches – Oct. 23, 2013
  90. Trouble on the Line: The Early Telegraph in New Brunswick – Oct. 16, 2013
  91. The Invisible Boy; Team′ and Oochigeaskw – Oct. 9, 2013
  92. Transportation to and from Fredericton, 1841 – Oct. 2, 2013
  93. The Boy That Was Transformed Into a Horse – Sept. 25, 2013
  94. McAdam: Notes From the Early Days – Sept. 18, 2013
  95. The Magical Food, Belt and Flute – Sept. 11, 2013
  96. European & North American Rly. Staff, 1861 – Sept. 4, 2013
  97. Glooscap and the Megumoowesoo: A Marriage Adventure – Aug. 28, 2013
  98. The Loss of the Royal Tar – Aug. 21, 2013
  99. Robbery and Murder Revenged, Plus a Grand Falls Story – Aug. 14, 2013
  100. The St. John River From Below Fredericton to the Reversing Falls – Aug. 7, 2013
  101. A Proposal for a Wooden Railway – July 31, 2013
  102. ‘On the Early History of New Brunswick’ – July 24, 2013
  103. The Maugerville Settlement, 1763-1824 – July 17, 2013
  104. 1930 Circus Train Wreck Near Moncton, N.B. – July 10, 2013
  105. Horses or Oxen? Pick one – July 3, 2013
  106. The St. John River; Andover to Fredericton – June 26, 2013
  107. Origins of Some Place Names on N.B.’s Eastern Shore – June 19, 2013
  108. The St. John River; Grand Falls to the Tobique – June 12, 2013
  109. Gabriel Acquin – June 5, 2013
  110. The Seigniories of New Brunsiwck – May 29, 2013
  111. An 1841 Trek up the Oromocto River – May 22, 2013
  112. Fredericton’s Exhibition Palace, and Bears in N.B. – May 15, 2013
  113. Murder on Diamond Square Road – May 8, 2013
  114. Acadian Historic Sites in New Brunswick – May 1, 2013
  115. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 5 of 5 – Apr. 24, 2013
  116. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 4 of 5 – Apr. 17, 2013
  117. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 3 of 5 – Apr. 10, 2013
  118. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 2 of 5 – Apr. 3, 2013
  119. John C. Tracy’s Book, Part 1 of 5 – Mar. 27, 2013
  120. A Retrospective Look at Saint John – Mar. 20, 2013
  121. The Wreck of the England – Mar. 13, 2013
  122. The First Decade of the 1800’s in St. John, N.B. – Mar. 6, 2013
  123. St. John’s Poorhouse and Workhouse – Feb. 27, 2013
  124. New Brunswick Scenes From an Old Book – Feb. 20, 2013
  125. Nice Pictures From Another Old Book – Feb. 13, 2013
  126. Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick, Part 2/2 – Feb. 6, 2013
  127. Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick, 1845 – Jan. 30, 2013
  128. The Works of W.O. Raymond – Jan. 23, 2013
  129. The Year of the Fever – Jan. 16, 2013
  130. Hanged for the Theft of 25 Cents – Jan. 9, 2013
  131. Reversing Falls – Pictures – Jan. 2, 2013
  132. Christmas as it was in 1808 – Dec. 25, 2012
  133. Nice Pictures From an Old Book – Dec. 19, 2012
  134. The Saint John Bridge Collapse of 1837 – Dec. 12, 2012
  135. The First Road Bridge Across the Reversing Falls – Dec. 5, 2012
  136. The Mystery of the First Lizzie Morrow – Nov. 28, 2012
  137. The First Murder Trial on the River St. John – Nov. 21, 2012
  138. The March of the 104th Regiment in 1812 – Nov. 14, 2012
  139. Partridge Island – Nov. 7, 2012
  140. Fredericton’s First Bridge Across the Saint John River – Oct. 31, 2012
  141. 1816, The Year Without a Summer – Oct. 31, 2012
  142. Winslow to Wentworth, 1781 – Oct. 31, 2012
  143. Oops! An explanation – Oct. 31, 2012
  144. The Saxby Gale of 1869 – Oct. 31, 2012
  145. New Brunswick’s Third Town in 1838: Saint Andrews – Oct. 31, 2012
  146. Fredericton and York County in 1838 – Oct. 31, 2012
  147. The City and County of Saint John in 1838 – Sept. 26, 2012
  148. The St. Andrews and Quebec Railroad – Sept. 19, 2012
  149. The Studholm Report of Saint John River Pre-Loyalists in 1783 – Sept. 12, 2012
  150. Caleb Jones. Further RE: Ann, otherwise known as Nancy – Sept. 5, 2012
  151. The Wreck of the Martha – Aug. 29, 2012
  152. The Early Settlement of Maugerville and the Sheffield Parsonage Dispute – Aug. 22, 2012
  153. Lieutenant Governors of New Brunswick to Confederation, Part 2 of 2 – Aug. 15, 2012
  154. Lieutenant Governors of New Brunswick to Confederation, Part 1 of 2 – Aug. 8, 2012
  155. The Morrow House at French Lake, N.B. – New Information – Aug. 1, 2012
  156. Sound by Glen Glenn, Revision 1 – July 25, 2012
  157. Ann, otherwise known as Nancy – July 18, 2012
  158. The Fire of October 7, 1825 – Beyond the Miramichi – July 11, 2012
  159. Lemuel Allan Wilmot – July 4, 2012
  160. The Great Fire at Miramichi, October 7, 1825 – June 27, 2012
  161. Robert Rankin in New Brunswick – June 20, 2012
  162. Who Owned the Mill at Tracy, New Brunswick? – June 13, 2012
  163. Signatures of Sunbury County Ancestors – June 6, 2012
  164. Daniel Wood’s Log Cabin, and Little Field Barn at French Lake, New Brunswick – May 30, 2012
  165. Rusagonis and George Garraty – May 23, 2012
  166. Epitaph Transcriptions from a Collection – May 16, 2012
  167. Central New Brunswick Gravestones from a Genealogy – May 9, 2012
  168. Nashwaak River Pictures with Stewart Family Connections – May 2, 2012
  169. More Sunbury County Photographs from a Collection – Apr. 25, 2012
  170. An Indian Burial Ground at Oromocto; and Coal Mining on the Oromocto River – Apr. 22, 2012
  171. “Days of Old” by Katherine DeWitt and Norma Alexander – Apr. 18, 2012
  172. The Wood Cemetery at French Lake, New Brunswick – Apr. 11, 2012
  173. James Glenie in New Brunswick – Apr. 4, 2012
  174. Four Generations of the Stewart Family on the Nashwaak River – Mar. 28, 2012
  175. Three Generations of the Mersereau Family in New Brunswick – Mar. 21, 2012
  176. Three Generations of the Smith Family of Sunbury County, New Brunswick – Mar. 14, 2012
  177. Three Generations of the Wood Family of French Lake, New Brunswick – Mar. 7, 2012
  178. New Brunswick Education in 1883 – Feb. 29, 2012
  179. Riots and Demonstrations in Saint John – Feb. 20, 2012
  180. Making Better Butter – Feb. 18, 2012
  181. York County Place Names, 1896/1905 – Feb. 8, 2012
  182. Sunbury County Place Names, 1896/1905 – Feb. 1, 2012
  183. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 3 of 3 – Jan. 25, 2012
  184. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 2 of 3 – Jan. 18, 2012
  185. Stereoscopic slides from Fred Stewart, Part 1 of 3 – Jan. 11, 2012
  186. The Hon. Thomas Baillie: Gone, but not soon forgotten! – Jan. 5, 2012
  187. The Fort at Oromocto, 1780 – 1783 – Dec. 29, 2011
  188. The Great Fire in Fredericton, 1850 – Early Accounts – Dec. 15, 2011
  189. The Morrow House at French Lake, and More – Dec. 8, 2011
  190. The Old Woman House at French Lake, New Brunswick – Dec. 1, 2011
  191. Smith Family Photographs from a Collection, Sunbury County, N.B. – Nov. 25, 2011
  192. French Lake from Before we Remember – Nov. 20, 2011
  193. How Geary became known as Geary – Nov. 9, 2011
  194. Elizabeth (Smith) Secord; N.B.’s First Woman Registered Doctor – Nov. 4, 2011
  195. Phillips Family Photographs from a Collection, Rusagonis, N.B. – Nov. 2, 2011
  196. Mersereau Family Photographs from a Collection, Sunbury County, N.B. – Oct. 30, 2011
  197. Wood Family Photographs from a Collection, French Lake, N.B. – Oct. 25, 2011
  198. Jeremiah Tracy: Pioneer of the Village of Tracy, New Brunswick – Oct. 20, 2011
  199. Two Old Railroad-Inspired Songs – Oct. 16, 2011
  200. Ode to the Oromocto River – Oct. 10, 2011
  201. John Mersereau, Loyalist 2 – Oct. 4, 2011
  202. The Earliest American Railroads and Locomotives – Sept. 14, 2011
  203. The Mersereau Manufacturing Company of Brooklyn, New York, Notes – Sept. 3, 2011
  204. George Morrow of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1801-1868 – Aug. 26, 2011
  205. The Wood Family of French Lake, New Brunswick – Legends – Aug. 9, 2011
  206. The Baptist Church on the Oromocto River in New Brunswick – Aug. 7, 2011
  207. John Wood of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1788-1868 – Aug. 2, 2011
  208. Daniel Wood of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1764-1847 – Aug. 1, 2011
  209. Three Stewarts on the Nashwaak – July 24, 2011
  210. Bunker Genealogy – Five Bunkers – July 20, 2011
  211. Statistics From the 1851 and 1871 Sunbury County New Brunswick Census Reports – July 19, 2011
  212. Historical Development of the Beam Bending Equation M=fS – July 18, 2011
  213. Seth Noble, Maugerville and the American Revolution – July 16, 2011
  214. Columns, the Long and the Short of it – 1729-1900 – July 15, 2011
  215. The Great Saint John Steel Cantilever Bridge – July 13, 2011
  216. The Upper Oromocto River in 1847 – July 11, 2011
  217. Early Glimpses of the Rusagonis Baptist Church in New Brunswick – July 11, 2011
  218. Abraham Gesner’s 1847 Observations of Sport Hunting in New Brunswick – July 11, 2011
  219. It Sounds a bit Too Easy – July 10, 2011
  220. James Buncker – July 10, 2011
  221. Inconsistent Petitions; Changed Self-Interests – July 10, 2011
  222. Abner Mersereau and a Letter – July 9, 2011
  223. Early Glimpses of the Patterson Settlement Baptist Church in New Brunswick – July 9, 2011
  224. The Textile Mill at Geary, New Brunswick – July 8, 2011
  225. Letter of Mi’kmaq’ Chief Pemmeenauweet to Queen Victoria – 1841 – July 7, 2011
  226. New Brunswick in the 1840s – July 7, 2011


John Wood

Written by johnwood1946

March 25, 2015 at 8:56 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Things This Morning Really Wear the Aspect of War

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From the blog at

The border between New Brunswick and Maine was finally established by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 and, before that, much of northern New Brunswick was in dispute. Negotiations leading to the treaty were carried on between the U.S. Secretary of State and the British Ambassador, but this left the people and politicians of Maine dissatisfied. They did not like the prospect that they could lose some of the disputed land through negotiations to which they were not a party, and, by the way, they were in no mood to negotiate either.

The diplomats agreed at an early stage that neither side would interfere with the status quo while negotiations were in progress. Interference by both sides was common, however. The Governor and Legislature of Maine were especially truculent and they sent a party of lawmen to evict New Brunswick loggers on the occasion chronicled in this blog posting. The loggers should not have been there according to the non-interference agreement, and neither should Maine have responded with lawmen. In any case, New Brunswick arrested several of the intruders and sent them off to jail in Fredericton.

Further background on these times can be found in three other postings in this blog. These are entitled The Ashburton Treaty, and Trouble at Madawaska, and The Disputed Territory Between New Brunswick and Maine. The links are:

Today’s blog is from an 1839 special edition of the Albany, New York Evening Journal, and outlines the American perspective on the events. It shows how close the dispute came to armed conflict. In the end, the diplomats restrained the politicians on both sides of the border and conflict was avoided.

John Harvey

Sir John Harvey

From Collections Canada, via Dictionary of Canadian Biography. N.B. Lieut. Governor, and a principal in this story

The following is all taken from the newspaper, from which I have selected one quote as a title:

“Things This Morning Really Wear the Aspect of War”


[From the Bangor Democrat, Extra.]

Saturday evening, Feb. 16, 7 o’clock

The mail from Houlton this evening brought the Fredericton Gazette, Extra of the 13th, containing the subjoined Proclamation issued by Sir John Harvey. It will be seen that the Lieutenant Governor has ordered out a militia force for the purpose of repelling an invasion from a neighboring state and other purposes. The reader will make his own comment.

By his Excellency Major General Sir John Harvey, K.C.B. and K.C.H. Lieut. Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Province of New Brunswick, &c , &c. JOHN HARVEY.


WHEREAS, I have received information that a party of armed persons to the number of two hundred, or more, have invaded a portion of this Province, under the jurisdiction of His Majesty’s Government, from the neighboring State of Maine for the professed object of exercising authority, and driving off persona stated to be cutting timber therein; and that divers other persons have without any legal authority, taken up an arms with the intention of resisting such invasion and outrage and have broken open certain stores it Woodstock, in which arms and ammunition belonging to Her Majesty were deposited, and have taken the same away for that purpose,— I do hereby charge and command all persons concerned in such illegal acts forthwith to return the Arms and Ammunition, so illegally taken, to their places of deposits, as the Government of the Province will take care to adopt all necessary measures for resisting any hostile invasion or outrage that may be attempted upon any part of Her Majesty’s Territories, or subjects.

And I do hereby charge and command all Magistrates, Sheriffs, and other officers to be vigilant; aiding and assisting in the apprehension of all persons so offending, and to bring them to justice. And in order to aid and assist the civil power in that respect if necessary, I have ordered a sufficient military force to proceed forthwith to the place where these outrages are represented to have been committed, as well to repel foreign invasion, as to prevent the illegal assumption of arms by her Majesty’s subjects in this province.

And further, in order to be prepared, if necessary, to call in the aid of the Constitutional Militia Force of the country, 1 do hereby charge and command the officers commanding the first and second battalions of the Militia of the county of Carleton, forthwith to proceed as the law directs to the drafting of a body of men, to consist of one fourth of the strength of each of those battalions, to be in readiness for actual service, should occasion require.

Given under my hand and seal at Frederickton, the thirteenth day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty nine, und in the second year of her Majesty’s Reign.

By His Excellency’s Command, God save the Queen. WM. F. ODELL.

A slip from the Augusta Age, dated Feb. 17th, at noon, states that the above proclamation was received by express from Houlton, (where a small U.S. force is posted) on Saturday evening. The messenger also brought information, on the authority of the Woodstock Times, that at a portion of the N. Brunswick militia, had on the 14th taken up their line of march for the Aroostook.

Immediately upon the receipt of this intelligence, (says the Age), it is understood that Gov. Fairfield issued a proclamation calling out 1,000 rank and file of the militia, to be detached from the Third (Penobscot) Division, under command of Maj. General Hodsdon; to rendezvous forthwith at Bangor und proceed thence o the Aroostook.

The additional volunteer force raised under the Resolve of January 21th is on its way to the Aroostook. Charles Jarvis, Esq. the provisional Laud Agent, has arrived before this, at the scene of operations.

It would seem that the crisis has arrived which Maine has long been anxiously awaiting. She will not falter until her rights are established, and her jurisdiction extended to the utmost limits of her territory. And may God protect the right!

On Saturday the 15th, [before the arrival of the above mentioned express, Governor Fairfield transmitted to the Legislature of Maine the following


To the House of Representatives:

In compliance with the request of the House of Representatives, I herewith communicate such information as I have in relation “to the reported abduction of the Lund Agent.”

Under the Resolve of the 24th of January last, entitled “Resolve relating to trespassers upon the public lands,” the Land Agent repaired with about two hundred chosen men to the scene of operation on the Aroostook River. Prior to his reaching there, it is understood that the trespassers, amounting to about three hundred in number, had combined and were determined to resist every effort to break them up. Finding, however, that the Land Agent had prepared himself with a six pounder, they chose to retire from the ground, passing down the river.

The Land Agent with his company also passed down the Aroostook to near its mouth, finding the several places of operation abandoned by the trespassers. On Monday last, they captured a gang of about twenty who had been operating further up the river, and sent several who were considered the ringleaders to Bangor, where it is supposed they are now in jail. On Monday the Land Agent sent a letter to Mr. McLaughlin, the Land Agent of the Province of New Brunswick, inviting a meeting with him at the house of a Mr. Fitzherbert, about four miles from where the company were then stationed, and on the same evening, with four others, Mr. McIntire repaired to the house of Mr. Fitzherbert, intending to pass the night there. The trespassers, however, in some way became possessed of the acts, and detached a company of about fifty, who seized the Agent and those accompanying him, and transmitted them, it is believed, beyond The bounds of the state.

Our company is now at No. 10, on the Aroostook, fortified, und anticipating an attack, in case any attempt should be made on our part to execute the Resolve of the 24th of January by destroying the timber which has already been cut.

I have advised the sending of an enforcement of three hundred men, as it is probable the number of the trespassers will be constantly augmenting— and if a Resolve to that effect be passed, shall appoint an agent to supply temporarily the place at Mr. Mclntyre, and lead an the expedition, I have also despatched a special messenger to Sir John Harvey, Lt. Governor of New Brunswick, for the purpose among other things, of ascertaining whether these highhanded proceedings of the trespassers are authorized or in any way countenanced by the Provincial Government; and to procure the release of the Agent and those taken with him. The Agent was also, charged with other matters pertaining to this most extraordinary and outrageous proceeding.

The facts above related, except in the matter of my own doings, have been communicated out verbally by the Sheriff of Penobscot, who formed one of the company of the Land Agents.

This is the only communication from the Land Agent or his company, which I have had verbally or otherwise, that could be relied upon.


Council Chamber, Feb. 15, 1829 [sic.]

Annexed is the resolution under which Mr. M’Intire (the Land Agent) and his party were sent to the Aroostook. It was occasioned by a confidential message to the Legislature, on the 23rd of January by Governor Fairfield, communicating information that trespassers from New Brunswick were extensively engaged in the work of devastation and plunder upon the lands belonging to Maine.

Resolved, That the Land Agent be and is hereby authorized and required to employ forthwith sufficient force to arrest, detain ant imprison all persons found trespassing on the territory of this State, as bounded and established by the treaty of 17??, and that the Land Agent be and is hereby empowered to dispose of all the timber, lumber and other materials in the hands and possession of said trespassers in such way and manner as he may deem necessary and expedient at the tune, by destroying the same or otherwise. And that the sum of ten thousand dollars be and hereby is appropriated for the purpose of carrying this Resolve into effect, and that the Governor with the advice of the Council be and is hereby authorized to draw his warrant from time to time for such sums as may be required for the purpose aforesaid.

January 24, 1839—Approved:




The Augusta Journal of Tuesday, after copying the Proclamation of Gov. Harvey, holds this language:—

One thing seems clear, that he claims to exercise exclusive jurisdiction over the territory where these trespasses were committed. Now as this territory is m the Counties of Penobscot and Washington on townships located fourteen years ago in the vicinity of the Aroostook River, where Maine and Massachusetts have exercised jurisdiction for half a century, we think this question of jurisdiction should be met at once; and if after Mr. Rogers has an interview with Governor Harvey, he shall not immediately release the Land Agent, or if he shall attempt to repell the American force by British troops, let us have the issue at once.— let the sword be drawn and the scabbard be thrown away; and if the General Government at Washington will not sustain us, let us call Massachusetts to our aid, and beat up for volunteers in all the other States. We have suffered indignities and insults enough. If our Land Agent cannot be sent to protect the property of the State … without being seized aa a culprit and put into Fredericton jail, it is time that we showed a little of the spirit of ’76 and not only rallied to defend our territory, but peradventure demolish the prison at Fredericton which has for years been a standing monument of our disgrace.

Governor Fairfield on Sunday sent a special message to Washington, am issued orders calling out one thousand men from the Eastern Division of the militia of this State.

A volunteer corps of 50 men left this town on Sunday forenoon, under the command of Capt. John Ford, an energetic ant efficient man.

If we must come to blows, let there be no Child’s play about it—no backing out. Let officers have the command who are brave and discreet; who will no waste human blood needlessly, but above all, who will not bring dishonor on the State.

The first news we had of the capture of the Land Agent by the trespassers, and their offer to exchange prisoners by swapping hire, or his Aid, Cushman, for a yoke of steers, was well calculated to throw an air of ridicule over the expedition; but subsequent intelligence makes the matter too serious for levity; and we hope our State authorities will take care to make serious business of it at all events, and not permit it to be settled in a manner derogatory to our interest and honor.


Since the above was written, a messenger arrived on Sunday night from Sir John Harvey, demanding, of the Governor the recall of the forces sent by our Governor to the Aroostook, asserting that he (Sir John Harvey) was instructed to maintain ELCLUSIVE JURISDICTION over the territory in dispute and that he should do so with the military force under his command. This message was laid before the Legislature yesterday by the Governor, and in the meantime, on Sunday evening, orders were issued to the Major Generals of the several Divisions of the State to hold their commands in readiness to detail each one thousand men.

We understand that Mr. M’Laughlan, the British Warden of the Territory, (or British Land Agent) had gone to the camp of Capt. Rines, and warned him of his trespassing on Her Majesty’s territory, and ordered him off. Rines detained M’Laughlan and one or two men who accompanied them and sent them to Bangor, where they now are in custody.


[Correspondence of the Portland Advertiser.]


SUNDAY, Augusta, Feb. 17, 1839.

Mr. Stanley has parade his company this morning in and about the Kennebec Hotel. It looks here like any thing but Sunday. As 1 am writing, I can hear the word of command from without— front fact, right about, &c. There were no Sundays in the revolution, and there is none here this morning. All is bustle and confusion— horses, carriages, men and munitions of war, preparing for the Aroostook country, which is soon to become the seat of war. An express arrived last night about 12 o’clock, bearing a Proclamation of Sir John Harvey, which breathes a little of war. He says the timber and territory shall he protected, and calls upon all his loyal subjects to be in readiness for the battle. This is surely talking pretty large. Our Governor was culled from his peaceful slumbers at dead if night to hear this … of war sounded. I understand he immediately issued orders to cull out the third division of the militia, and they will probably repair to the borders to protect our citizens and territory. Things this morning really wear the aspect of war. If the Provincial authorities intend to take the disputed territory into their keeping, there will be but one opinion in Maine, and I hope but one in the whole Union; and that is, to battle for our rights.

We will not be trifled with any longer. There is a spirit in the American people which will not brook insult from Sir John Harvey or the British Queen, and this fact they will soon learn if they persist in their unrighteous claims. If England is determined to hold on to this territory, then let us have War, if we must. We cannot—we shall not yield our rights to any foreign power. Our Governor ought to … forthwith to Washington, and call upon the General Government to come to the rescue. We ought not to be compelled to fight alone—the Government ought to protect us. The plea of “embarrassing the General Government has now, I hope, lost its power. But if our Government will not come to our aid, then the people of Maine must and will defend their territory. We can take Canada und the Provinces single-handed, especially in the present state of public feeling there. “Thrice is he armed who hath his quarrel just.” Our cause is a righteous one, and we will defend it with our best blood. The drums begins to beat, and the “spirit stirring fife” sends out its shrill tones through the valley of the Kennebec. The company collected here have just commenced their march to the sound of martial music. They will march across the bridge, and then be conveyed in wagons to the scene of action. This company is commanded by Captain Ford, of …. What the result of all this will he, I cannot tell. I cannot yet believe England will ever be willing to have a War. And the affair may yet be settled amicably. We cannot and we will not bark out, come what may. There is but one party, one. cause, and that is our country’s. The cry is raised— We are American citizens, and by this name we will be called, and by no other.

Your,                                                   O

[From our Correspondent]


Sunday, 12 o’clock, M

Major General HODSON of the 3d Division of the Militia of Maine, has been ordered by the Commander in Chief, to detach one thousand men from the Division under his command, and proceed at the earliest possible moment to the place occupied by the force under command of the Land Agent, to aid him in carrying into effect the resolve of the 24th of January, in relation to the trespassers on the public lands.

General Hodson, with a promptness that deserves all praise, has issued his orders for the troops to be at Bangor, the place of rendezvous, in readiness to march on Wednesday morning at 8 o’clock.

Each man detached has, by law, 24 hours in which to obey the summons or supply his place with a substitute. The Independent Companies of this city are ordered out entire.

General Hodson has already given notice to the Selectmen of the several towns in this county, that the Officers, non-Commissioned officers and privates having been ordered into service by the Commander in Chief, they will cause such detachments to be attended on their march with suitable rations, camp utensils, and equipage for their use, until they shall be ordered by the Commanding Officer of the detachment to desist.

Sunday Evening, 6 o’clock.


Mr. McLaughlin, the Warden of the Public Lands in New Brunswick and Capt. Tibberis of the Tobique Settlement, have been brought into the city prisoners.

Written by johnwood1946

March 25, 2015 at 8:54 AM

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At Portland Point

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From the blog at

This article was written by W.O. Raymond, to whom we owe a great debt for preserving New Brunswick history. It is about the first English settlement at Portland Point (Saint John) and the trading company that was established there. The principal partner of the company was James Simonds.

James Simonds

James Simonds, from the N.B. Museum

Pre-Loyalist pioneer at St. John. Copied by Florence L. Gilbert from a pre-1831 portrait


At Portland Point

The First English Settlement at St. John

All that has hitherto been published with regard to the founding of the first permanent English Settlement at the mouth of the river St. John is of a fragmentary character. The story really remains to be written, and in view of the abundant materials available it is a matter of surprise that some competent hand has not long since been found to undertake the task.

As early as the year 1755, Governor Charles Lawrence of Nova Scotia suggested to Sir Wm. Shirley, Governor of Massachusetts, the desirability of establishing a fortified post on the St. John river; he also recommended that steps should be taken to induce the people of New England to occupy the lands left vacant by the removal of the Acadians as well as other eligible situations in Nova Scotia—which colony at that time included the present province of New Brunswick. In reply, Sir Wm. Shirley expressed the opinion that all that could then be attempted was to make known as widely as possible the terms on which the lands would be granted, coupled with an assurance of protection for the settlers from the French and Indians, whom they had come to regard as their hereditary enemies. Unfortunately for the designs of the two royal governors, the exigencies of the war then being waged with France required the withdrawal of most of the forces stationed in Nova Scotia, and Governor Lawrence was unable either to secure possession of the St. John river, where Boisherbert, the French commander, had established himself, or to garrison the fort at St. John harbor captured by Captain Rous the previous summer.

Meanwhile the Lords of Trade and Plantations, who largely controlled the British colonial policy, advised Lawrence to promote the development of his province in every practicable way, expressing their opinion that there should be no difficulty in obtaining settlers from the other colonies. Although this idea was quite in accord with the governor’s own mind, he was obliged to plead his inability to induce the New England people to settle on frontier lands as long as they “ran the risk of having their throats cut by inveterate enemies who effected their escape by their knowledge of every creek and corner.” He added that as he could not spare the troops necessary to defend new settlements nothing could be done “till the country was possessed in peace.”

The threatening attitude of Boisherbert, however, determined the British to establish a fortified post at the mouth of the St. John, where the French had again taken possession of their old fort on the point of land opposite Navy Island. Accordingly in the summer of 1758, an expedition, consisting of three ships of war and two transports, having on board a regiment of Highlanders and one of New England troops, left Boston for the St. John river. A landing was effected near Negro Point, and after making their way with some difficulty through the woods, the attacking party advanced against the fort from the land side. They were repulsed in their first attack, but in a second attempt were more successful and the fort was carried by storm. The defences were found to be very weak, there being but two small cannon in position. The French lost about forty killed and a number of prisoners, the remainder escaping in boats and canoes up the river. The sloop Ulysses which attempted to follow them was wrecked in the falls. The fort was now occupied by a British garrison of some 200 men, its defences were improved and barracks built for the accommodation of the troops.

On the 12th of October, 1758, the first of the now celebrated proclamations of Governor Lawrence was issued, offering favorable terms to such industrious settlers as might be disposed to remove to Nova Scotia and cultivate the lands vacated by the French or any unsettled parts of the province. This had the effect of directing attention to the St. John river, as well as to other localities. Young and adventurous spirits came to the fore as pioneers of civilization, among them James Simonds of Haverhill, Massachusetts, to whom undoubtedly belongs the honor of being the founder of the first permanent settlement at the mouth of the St. John. The circumstances that induced Mr. Simonds to come to St. John are thus detailed in one of his letters now in possession of the writer of this article:—

In the years 1759 and 1760 proclamations were published by his Majesty’s order through the colonies (some of which I can now produce) which promised all the lands and possessions of the Acadians who had been removed or any other lands lying within the Province of Nova Scotia to such as would become settlers there. In consequence of these proclamations I went through the greatest part of Nova Scotia, in time of war at very great expense and at the risk of my life in search of the best lands and situations, and having at length determined to settle at the River St. John, obtained a promise from Government of large tracts of lands for myself and Brother Richard who was with me in several of my tours.

Mr. Simonds states in another document, a copy of which is also in the writer’s possession, that he obtained from the government of Nova Scotia the promise of a grant of 5000 acres of land in such part of the province as he should choose, and that in the year 1762, in company with his brother, he by virtue of this arrangement took possession of the great marsh to the east of St. John, called by the Indians Seebaskastagan, where they cut a quantity of salt hay and began to make improvements. The letter from which we have just quoted continues:—

The accounts which I gave my friends in New England of the abundance of Fish in the River and the convenience of taking them, of the extensive Fur trade of the country and the natural convenience of burning Lime, caused numbers of them to make proposals to be concerned with me in those branches of business, among whom Mr. Hazen was the first that joined me in a trial. Afterwards in the year 1764, although I was unwilling that any should be shares with me in the certain benefits of the Fur trade, which I had acquired some knowledge of, yet by representations that superior advantage could be derived from a Cod fishery on the Banks and other branches of commerce which I was altogether unacquainted with I joined in a contract for carrying it on for that year upon an extensive plan with Messrs. Blodget, Hazen, White, Peaslie and R. Simonds.

When Mr. Simonds first visited the St. John river the Indians were hostile to the English, but the capture of Quebec and the subsequent discomfiture of their French allies inclined them to sue for peace, and a treaty was made at Halifax by the Chiefs of St. John and Passamaquoddy early in the year 1760. In accordance with this treaty an Indian trading post was to be established near Fort Frederick, at the mouth of the river, and a tariff of prices was arranged which the savages were to receive for furs and peltries and to pay for such supplies, etc., as they needed.

The complete ascendancy of the English over the Acadians on the river St. John was secured by one of the most cruel and unjustifiable forays that ever sullied the annals of civilized warfare. The story in brief is as follows:—

In the month of March, 1759, a company of rangers under Captain McCurdy started up the St. John river, on snowshoes, to strike a blow at the French settlements. The first night they encamped on a hillside near the mouth of the Belleisle river. Here the party had the misfortune to lose their commander, Capt. McCurdy, who was killed by the falling of a birch tree cut by one of his own men. Lieut. Moses Hazen succeeded to the command and under him the party proceeded to Ste. Anne’s Point, where they set fire to the chapel and other buildings and ruthlessly killed the inhabitants with little regard to age or sex. On their return they treated the settlements at Oromocto, Grimross and Nerepis in much the same fashion. Sir Jeffrey Amherst, Commander in Chief of the forces in America, refers to this transaction in two of his letters to Governor Lawrence. He says in the first: “You will have heard of the accident poor Capt. McCurdy met with as likewise of the success of his Lieut. in demolishing the settlements at St. Anne’s. On the recommendation of Major Scott I have preferred Lt. Hazen to Capt. McCurdy’s Company.” In the second letter he writes: “Major Morris sent me the particulars of the scouting party and I gave a commission of Captain to Lieut. Hazen as I thought he deserved it. I am sorry to say what I have since heard of that affair has sullied his merit with me as I shall always disapprove of killing women and helpless children: poor McCurdy is a loss he was a good man in his post.”

Confirmation of the barbarity practised on the occasion is found in the journal of Rev. Jacob Bailey of Pownalboro, Maine, a prominent Loyalist and afterwards Rector of Annapolis, N.S. Mr. Bailey on the night of Dec. 13, 1759, chanced to lodge at Norwood’s inn in Lynn, and speaking of the company he found there he says: “We had among us a soldier belonging to Capt. Hazen’s company of Rangers, who declared that several Frenchmen were barbarously murdered by them after quarters were given, and the villain added, I suppose to show his importance, that he split the head of one asunder after he fell on his knees to implore mercy. A specimen of New England clemency.”

When James Simonds first visited St. John he was a young man of about twenty-five years of age. He was descended from Samuel Simonds of Essex, England, who came to America in 1630 with Governor Winthrop. His father, Nathaniel Simonds, of Haverhill, Mass., married Sarah Hazen, whose brother Moses was father of Capt. Moses Hazen just referred to as leader of the party of Rangers that destroyed the French settlements on the River St. John, and also father of William Hazen of Newburyport, who came to St. John in 1775. It is possible that the presence of Capt. Moses Hazen with the garrison at Fort Frederick may have led James Simonds to visit the place in the first instance. Mr. Simonds was a man of good education, resolute character, shrewd and enterprising. He was, moreover, possessed of a robust constitution, as is seen in the fact that in spite of the hardships and privations of his early life in St. John he survived all his contemporaries, as well as every official and appointee of the crown at the time of the organization of the province, and every member of the first provincial legislature, and quietly departed this life at his old residence at Portland Point Feb. 20, 1831, at the patriarchal age of 96 years.

About the same time that Mr. Simonds was laying his plans for establishing a fishing and trading post at the mouth of the St. John, Captain Francis Peabody, Israel Perley and others, were making arrangements for the settlement of the Township of Maugerville, and it appears that in the year 1762, James Simonds came with Capt. Peabody and his son Samuel Peabody, Hugh Quinton and some others to St. John in a small vessel from Newburyport. There were about twenty in the party besides the families of Captain Peabody and Hugh Quinton.

A frame for a large dwelling house with boards, to cover it, was brought by Capt. Peabody in the vessel, also a small stock of cattle. The spot selected for the erection of the house was near the site of an old French fort at Portland Point, and by the united efforts of the party it was erected, enclosed, and on the third day after their arrival, inhabited. The women and children had meanwhile found shelter at the barracks on the other side of the harbor, and there on the same night of their arrival, August 28, 1762, was born James Quinton, the first child of English speaking parents whose birth is recorded at St. John. Capt. Peabody’s daughter Hannah, then a girl of fourteen, was among those who found shelter at the Barracks until the house at Portland Point was fit for their reception. She afterwards became the wife of James Simonds, and her sisters Elizabeth and Hephzibah married respectively James White and Jonathan Leavitt. Captain Francis Peabody had served with distinction in the “Seven Years War,” and from the active part he took in effecting the settlement of the Township of Maugerville, as well as from his age and character, he must be justly regarded as the most prominent and influential person on the St. John river while he lived. He died in the year 1773.

The unstable condition of affairs during the war with France had for some time precluded any serious attempt at settlement along the northern shore of the Bay of Fundy, and the New England traders and fishermen who resorted thither were for the most part adventurers. With the return of peace the more enterprising spirits began to make arrangements for securing a foothold against rival traders.

James Simonds and his brother, in the first instance, established themselves at St. John merely with the tacit approval of the Nova Scotia authorities and of the commander of the garrison at Fort Frederick. It was not until three years later that they obtained their first grant of land.

In the grants issued by the government at this period a provision was inserted requiring the payment to the crown of “a free yearly quit rent of one shilling sterling for every 50 acres, the first payment to be made on Michaelmas day next after the expiration of ten years from the date of the grant.” In order to prolong the period when the payment of quit rents would be necessary, many of the early settlers delayed taking out their grants. James Simonds tells us that he deferred taking out his grant for this reason, thinking that, with the exception of a fishing station, the lime quarries and the marsh, the lands in the vicinity of St. John were not even worth the quit rents. However, before long rival traders appeared upon the scene and the securing of his situation became an object of importance. An entry in the minutes of the Council of Nova Scotia records that on Aug. 9, 1763, license was given to John Anderson to occupy 50 acres of any lands unappropriated on the St. John river until further orders from government, and under date June 7, 1765, we have the following:—

Licence is hereby granted to John Anderson to Traffick with the Tribes of Indians on St. John’s River and in the Bay of Fundy, he conducting himself without Fraud or Violence and submitting himself to the observance of such regulations as may at any time hereafter be established for the better ordering of such commerce. This licence to continue during pleasure.

A similar license was granted the same year to Capt. Isaac Caton “to traffick with the Indians on Saint John’s River and the Bay of Fundy.” These licenses for trade with the Indians were issued in accordance with the proclamation of George III, given at the Court of St. James, October 7, 1763, as is shown by the following extract:—

And we do by the advice of our privy council declare and enjoin that the trade with the said Indians shall be free and open to all our subjects whatever, provided that every person who may incline to trade with the said Indians do take out a licence for carrying on such trade from the governor or commander in chief of any of our colonies where such person shall reside, and also give security to observe such regulations as we shall at anytime think fit by ourselves, or commissioners to be appointed for this purpose, to direct or appoint for the benefit of the said trade.

The growing importance of St. John as a trading centre is indicated by other references to the locality scattered through the minutes of the proceedings of the Governor in Council; among them the following shows that the excellence of the lime stone had attracted the attention of the imperial authorities at an early date:

Licence is hereby granted Jonathan Hoar, Esq., to carry Lime Stone from Musquash Cove at St. John’s River to Annapolis Royal for the repairing of the Fortifications there. Given under my hand and seal at Halifax, October 1, 1763.

(Signed) Montagu Wilmot.

Of those who came to St. John with Capt. Francis Peabody in 1762, only Samuel Peabody and one or two others appear to have settled at the mouth of the river, the remainder removed shortly afterwards to Maugerville, where a township had been assigned to them. The small dwelling erected at Portland Point by Capt. Peabody became the property of his son-in-law, James Simonds, but was for some years the residence of James White.

In the year 1763 James and Richard Simonds were actively engaged in the fishery and trading business at St. John and Passamaquoddy in conjunction with their relative, William Hazen, a young and enterprising merchant of Newburyport who provided the necessary supplies. They had several men in their employ, among them Samuel Middleton, a cooper, and Anthony Dyer; these remained at St. John the first winter. Others of those engaged in the employ of Simonds and his partners seem to have had a previous acquaintance with St. John harbor; Moses Genough for example was there in 1758, and Lemuel Cleveland in 1757 when he says “the French had a fort at Portland Point where Mr. Simonds house was afterwards built.”

In order to carry on the business at St. John on an extensive scale, James Simonds decided to form a company for the purpose, but first he made sure of his situation by procuring the following license from the governor of Nova Scotia:—

Licence is hereby granted to James Simonds to occupy a tract or point of land on the north side of the St. John River, opposite Fort Frederick, for carrying on a fishery and for burning lime stone, the said tract or point of land containing by estimation ten acres.

(Signed) Montagu Wilmot.

Halifax, Feb. 8, 1764.

The accounts that James Simonds gave his friends in New England of the admirable situation he had secured for himself caused numbers of them to make proposals to be concerned with him in the business about to be undertaken, of whom Wm. Hazen was the first that joined him in a trial. Mr. Hazen had intimate business connections with Samuel Blodget, a merchant of Boston, and the latter became a partner in the enterprise. It was agreed that Messrs. Blodget, Hazen arid Simonds should each have one fourth part in the company about to be organized, and that the remainder should be taken by Richard Simonds, James White and Robert Peaslie as junior partners. The partnership was in its way “a family compact,” Richard Simonds being a younger brother of James Simonds, while Robert Peaslie had married Mr. Hazen’s sister Anna, and James White had been for some years a clerk in Mr. Blodget’s employ, and was moreover a cousin of Mr. Hazen.

Articles of partnership were carefully drawn up and signed on March 1st, 1764, under which it was arranged that Messrs. Blodget and Hazen should remain at Boston and Newburyport to forward supplies and receive whatever was sent them in return, and James Simonds, with Messrs. White, Peaslie, and R. Simonds as his aides, should proceed immediately to St. John and there “enter upon and pursue with all speed and faithfulness the business of the cod fishery, seine fishery, fur trade, burning of lime and every other trading business that shall be thought advantageous to the company.”

Accordingly, Messrs. Simonds and White, with a party of about thirty hands, embarked on board the schooner Wilmot, Wm. Story, master, for the scene of operations. They left Newburyport about the 10th of April, arriving at Passamaquoddy on the 14th and at St. John on the 18th. The names of these pioneers of commerce at St. John were Jonathan Leavitt, Jonathan Simonds, Samuel Middleton, Peter Middleton, Edmund Black, Moses True, Reuben Stevens, John Stevens, John Boyd, Moses Kimball, Benjamin, Dow, Simon Ayers, Thomas Jenkins, Batrheldor Ring, Rowley Andros, Edmund Butler, John Nason, Reuben Mace, Benjamin Wiggins, John Lovering, John Hookey, Reuben Sergeant, Benjamin Stanwood, Benjamin Winter, Anthony Dyer, Webster Emerson, George Gary, John Hunt, George Berry, Simeon Hillyard, Ebenezer Fowler, William Picket, and Ezekiel Carr.

Quite a number of these men became permanent settlers in the country and their descendants today are numerous and respectable.

Some months ago the writer of this article found in a pile of rubbish that had been thrown out of the old Ward Chipman house some old account books in a fair state of preservation, containing in part the transactions of Messrs. Simonds and White while in business in St. John. One of these, a book of nearly 100 pages, ordinary foolscap size, with stout paper cover, is of especial interest. At the top of the first page are the words

1764, St. John River, Day Book No. 1

This book is intact and very creditably kept. The entries are in the hand writing of James White. It contains the record of the initial transactions of the first business firm established at St. John one hundred and thirty-four years ago. The accounts during the continuance of the partnership were kept in New England currency or “Lawful money of Massachusetts.” The letters L.M. were frequently affixed in order to distinguish this currency from sterling money or Nova Scotia currency. In early times the value of the Massachusetts or New England currency was in the proportion £1 sterling = £1. 6. 8., L.M. The New Brunswick dollar or five shillings was equivalent to six shillings L.M. It is a fact worth recording that the Massachusetts currency continued to be used in all ordinary business transactions on the St. John river up to the time of the arrival of the Loyalists in 1783. This is only one instance showing how close were the ties that bound the preloyalist settlers of this province to New England, and it is scarcely a matter of surprise that during the Revolutionary war the Massachusetts Congress found many sympathizers on the River St. John.

While accounts were kept according to the currency of New England, very little money was in circulation and the amount of cash handled by Simonds and White was small enough. For years they supplied the settlers at Maugerville with such things as they needed, very often receiving payment in furs and skins, in the securing of which the white inhabitants became such expert hunters and trappers as to arouse the jealousy of the Indians. They also furnished barrel and hogshead staves of white and red oak, boards, shingles, oar rafters, spars, cedar posts and cord wood. Later, they were able to furnish farm produce, sheep and cattle; they also were frequently employed in the service of the Company in various ways by Simonds and White. With the Indians the trade was almost entirely one of barter, the staple article being the fur of the Spring beaver. The account books that have been preserved probably do not contain a complete record of all the shipments made from St. John by Simonds and White, but they suffice to show that during the period of ten years that elapsed from their settlement in 1764 to the outbreak of the American Revolution (when the ports of Massachusetts were closed against them) they exported 18,250 lbs. of spring beaver skins, and 8,390 lbs. of fall and winter beaver skins, a total of 26,640 lbs. besides 2,265 lbs. of castor, the whole amounting in value to £8,500, according to the invoice prices. As the average weight of a beaver skin was a pound and a half, the number of skins exported must have been at least 40,000. There were other traders engaged in the same business, as appears from Mr. Simonds’ correspondence. If then this firm alone sent to New England an average of 4,000 beaver skins annually, it is manifest that the fur trade of the St. John river at this period had assumed large proportions.

During the ten years of uninterrupted trade, Simonds and White shipped to New England, in addition to the beaver which was their staple article, skins of all the animals common to the country, including the following:—11,022 Musquash, 6,050 Marten, 870 Otter, 258 Fisher, 522 Mink, 120 Fox, 140 Sable, 74 Racoon, 67 Loupcervier, 8 Woolverene, 5 Bear, 2 Nova Scotia Wolf, 50 Cariboo, 85 Deer, and 1,113 Moose, besides some 3,000 lbs. of feathers, of which articles the value according to invoice prices was £2,795.

The prices at which these furs were quoted one hundred and thirty years ago seem, when compared with those of modern times, to be ridiculously low; their total value, however, amounted to the respectable sum of $40,000.

In their business transactions Messrs. Simonds and White kept four sets of accounts: one for the Indian trade, a second for their business with the white inhabitants of the country, a third for that with their own employees, and a fourth for that with the garrison at Fort Frederick. These old account books contain some curious items. The consumption of rum by the employees, and indeed by all the inhabitants of the country, was something astonishing. The use of rum as a beverage seems to have been quite the universal custom of the day, while on the other hand many apparently did not use tobacco, although the use of snuff boxes shows that the use of snuff was not uncommon. Rum was sold at 1 shilling per quart, tobacco at 8 pence per pound, tea (which was little used) sold at 8s. per lb., coffee at 1s. 6d. per lb., molasses at 3s. per gallon, sugar at 7d. per lb., gingerbread cakes 2d. each, lemons 3d. each, cheese 9d. per lb., soap 1s. per lb. Among other articles in demand were powder and shot, fishing tackle, flints, cuttoe knives, milled caps, blankets, blue rattan and fear-nothing jackets, woollen and check shirts, horn and ivory combs, silk handkerchiefs, turkey garters, pins and needles, etc. In the course of a few years the variety of articles kept in stock at the store at Portland Point increased surprisingly till it might be said that the company sold everything “from a needle to an anchor,” including such things as a variety of crockery and dry goods besides such articles as knee buckles, looking glasses, men’s and women’s pumps (or best shoes), tin candlesticks, brass door knobs, wool cards, mouse traps, whip saws, mill saws, skates and razors. Writing paper was sold at a penny a sheet or 9d. per half quire. The only books kept in stock were almanacs, psalters, spelling books and primers.

The old account books bear evidence of being well thumbed, for Indian debts were often hard to collect and white men’s debts were at least as hard to collect in ancient as in modern days. Old and thumb worn as the books are, and written with ink that often had been frozen and with quill pens that often needed mending, they are extremely interesting as relics of the past, and well deserving of a better fate than that which manifestly awaited them when by the merest accident they were rescued from a dismal heap of rubbish.

W.O. Raymond

Written by johnwood1946

March 18, 2015 at 9:08 AM

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Electrical Power From the Reversing Falls

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From the blog at

Electrical Power From the Reversing Falls

Reversing Falls 2

The Reversing Falls

From between 1915 and 1921.

The lower reaches of the Saint John River have flood plains, levees, bayous and everything that it takes to demonstrate that the river is ‘old’, having been there, eroding a lazy course, for a very long time. Glaciers dammed off the mouth of the river at Musquash, however, and forced the water to find a new course through a narrow gorge where it now rushes to the sea in a violent torrent. At high tide, the water in the harbour rises above the level of the water in the river and the flow through the gorge is equally violent, but in the opposite direction. The gorge is therefore called the Reversing Falls. There are a couple of hours between the tides when the water is as calm as a lake, and ships can pass. This is called ‘slack tide.’

In the early part of the 20th century there was a rush to develop the new source of energy that would eventually replace steam. Dams were being built to harness the hydraulic power of streams and to convert the energy into electricity. It was obvious to everyone that there was a lot of energy in the Reversing Falls and that it could cheaply power Saint John homes and businesses – if only it could be harnessed. This prospect was especially attractive, since the days of sail were gone, and very many jobs with them. Saint John needed new industries.

The prospect of developing the Falls as a power source posed some significant difficulties. It was not a conventional stream in that it flowed in opposite directions at different times of the day. There was also a period between the tides when no power could be generated. Finally, the Falls could not be dammed in a conventional way since ships needed to pass. And so, a project to generate electricity from the Falls remained a matter of speculation. It was just a dream.

The possibility of such a project again entered the public debate in around 1905, and many people had opinions about it. The Saint John Daily Sun therefore commissioned a report by an Ontario engineer who, they said, was an expert on the subject. His opinion was published in their newspaper on January 4, 1906, wherein he said that the project was possible, but only by the utmost stretch of technology, and that it would be enormously expensive. The site was unlike any other that had been tackled previously. The only practical method would be a modest installation of undershot wheels1, but such things were inefficient and would generate so little power as not to be worth the trouble.

The undershot wheels idea was a reference to Elijah Ross, who proposed to use such a device to pump water into a storage tank at a higher elevation, for release during slack tide when the Falls were not producing power. There was a campaign to build a railroad car building plant at Saint John, and Ross’s contribution to that idea was that power for the plant could come from the Falls.

The Daily Sun had presented an opinion, but they were not advocating for or against the idea. People with innovative ideas are also not often swayed by others’ opinions, and the Daily Sun published a letter to the editor from J.E. Fraser only six days later. Mr. Fraser insisted that it could be done.

Fraser did not like Ross’s idea to pump water into a reservoir because, he said, it would be too expensive and would only provide a pressure of about 70 psi upon release. Fraser proposed instead to build an underground bunker strong enough to contain compressed air at a pressure of up to 230 psi, and to use this during slack tide. Fraser’s invention would be fairly modest and inexpensive, or so he said, and would not require the shipway to be obstructed.

The Daily Sun article with the opinion of an Ontario engineer had been published only a week earlier, and Fraser was moved to “warn the city council not to expect too much from an engineer even when brought from a distance, for frequently engineers are engineers only through education, lacking entirely the quality which education cannot give – the faculty of inventiveness on the power to adapt true mechanical principles to new conditions.”

Dreams of developing electrical power from the Reversing Falls were not   quite dead when, on March 8 of 1911 the Dawson Daily News reported that some Ontario businessmen thought that they had a means of storing the energy generated by the Falls to overcome the problem of the slack tide. This does not seem to have been a serious proposal, since they were not even prepared to send an engineer to examine the site until the city provided photographs and flow data.

That was the debate from the first decade of the 20th century, over the possibility of getting electrical power from the Reversing Falls. There is no doubt that there is a lot of energy in the Falls, but it seems that the Ontario engineer was probably right in one respect at least: developing the Falls potential would have been enormously expensive.

  1. An undershot wheel is a paddlewheel of the type seen on a water powered saw mill or a river steam boat, for example.

Written by johnwood1946

March 10, 2015 at 3:11 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Father Rale’s War – 1722-25; How it Ended

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From the blog at

Father Rale’s War – 1722-25; How it Ended

The War of Spanish Succession was a wide-ranging European conflict and was brought to an end by the Peace of Utrecht in 1713. By that Peace, France ceded Newfoundland and Acadia to Great Britain, but retained Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton. Most of the other provisions of the Peace do not concern this story, including the fate of other North American territories and such far-flung European regions as Gibraltar.

“Acadia” was not well defined. There was no question that Great Britain controlled present-day Nova Scotia, but New Brunswick and a large part of Maine remained in dispute. To protect their claims, France built forts, and established missions at native villages including on the Saint John River at Meductic. None of these claims were recognized by Britain. Significantly, the natives had not been consulted in the transfer of Nova Scotia and the disputed territories to Britain, which they opposed; nor had they been consulted in any of the preceding European treaties.

The Peace was therefore challenged by the Wabanaki Confederacy which included the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet), Abenaki and Penobscot Indians. Battles were fought in peninsular Nova Scotia and along the borders of the disputed territories, and these conflicts became known as Father Rale’s War (1722–1725), after Sabastian Rale who encouraged the natives in their dispute. The war has several names, but “Father Rale’s War” is one of the common ones.

A large number of natives and Father Rale were killed in 1724, at the Battle of Norridgewock in Maine. This was followed by other raids against the Indians in 1724 and 1725. At this point, the Wabanaki Confederacy was losing to the New Englanders, and a peace treaty soon followed.

Battle of Norridgewock

A Depiction of the Death of Father Rale at the Battle of Norridgewock


The purpose of this blog posting is to present the peace treaties which ended Father Rale’s war.

The first document is the treaty of December 15, 1725, signed at Boston by three native chiefs. It was essentially a surrender. The three chiefs accepted responsibility for the war; promised to keep the peace with all whites; agreed that New Englanders could settle wherever they pleased; and undertook to submit any disputes to the authorities for settlement according to the law. They also promised to put down any dissident tribes. The only concession to them was that they could continue to hunt and fish on property not owned by an English white person. By tradition, the first document was not so much a surrender, but, given the content of the second document, was an expression of a genuine desire to live in peace and friendship.

It took about six months to gather the required signatures of a large number of native chiefs and elders, but this was done and the treaty was ratified in June 4, 1726. The ratification is not reproduced here.

The second document is usually termed the Reciprocal Promises, and was signed by John Doucett at Annapolis Royal on the same date as the ratification treaty. It promised that the Indian bands would not be molested in their persons, and that they would have access to the law and reparations in the event of any outrage being committed against them. They were also assured freedom of religion, and their traditional rights to hunting, fishing and planting. All commerce was reserved to the Crown which implies that they could not, for example, sell fish for profit.

Much has changed since 1725-26, and this two-document treaty, and others up to the 1760s were not recognized as valid until the adoption of the Canadian Constitution in 1982, and tension between present-day hunting and fishing regulations and treaty obligations continued even after that. The whole matter was examined by the Supreme Court in 1999, when it was noted that the treaties from the 1760s permitted the selling of fish without reference to a fishing season, so long as the sales were to government truckhouses. The disappearance of truckhouses, the Supreme Court ruled, did not abrogate the right to fish, nor the right to sell fish. The 1725-26 treaty and others with similar provisions therefore continue to have effect today. It took the Supreme Court to determine what, in retrospect, seems clear enough: a promise made is a debt unpaid.

All spelling is as found.

First Document: The Treaty of December 15. 1725

Whereas the several Tribes of the Eastern Indians viz the Penobscot, Narridgwolk, St. Johns Cape Sables & other Tribes Inhabiting within His Majesties Territorys of New England and Nova Scotia, who have been Engaged in the present War, from whom we Sauguaaram alias Loron Arexus Francois Xavier & Meganumbe are Delegated & fully Impowered to Enter into Articles of Pacification with His Majties Governments of the Massachusetts Bay New Hampshire & Nova Scotia Have contrary to the several Treatys they have Solemnly Entered into with the said Governments made an open Rupture & have continued some years in Acts of Hostility Against the subjects of His Majesty King George within the said Governments, They being now sensible of the Miseries and Troubles they have involved themselves in, and being Desirous to be restored to His Majesty’s Grace & Favour & to live in Peace with all His Majesties Subjects of the said three Governmts & the Province of New York and Colonys of Connecticut & Rhode Island, and that all former Acts of Injury be forgotten Have Concluded to make and we Do by these presents In the Name and behalf of the said Tribes make our Submission unto Hist Most Excellent Majesty George by the Grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith &. in as full and ample manner as any of our Predecessors have heretofore done.

And we do hereby Promise and Engage with the Honorable William Dummer Esqr as he is Lieutenant Governor & Comander in Chief of the said Province for the time being That is to say.

We the said Delegates for and in behalf of the several Tribes aforesaid Do Promise and Engage that at all times forever from and after the date of these presents We and they will lease and forbear all Acts of Hostility Injuries and Discords towards all the Subjects of the Crown of Great Britain, & not offer the lease hurt Violence or Molestation to them or any of them in their Persons or Estates, But will hence forward hold & maintain a firm and Constant Amity and Friendship with all the English and will never Confederate or Combine with any other Nation to their prejudice.

That all the Captives taken in this present War shall at or before the time of the further Ratification of this Treaty be Restored without any Ransom or payment to be made for them or any of them.

That His Majesties Subjects the English shall and may peaceable and Quietly Enter upon Improve & forever Enjoy all & Singular their rights of Land and former Settlements Properties & possessions within the Eastern parts of the said Province of the Massachusetts Bay Together with all Islands Islets, Shoars Beaches and Fishery within the same, without any Molestation or Claims by us, or any other Indians, and in no ways Molested Interupted, or disturbed therein.

Saving unto the Penoscot, Narridgewalk And other Tribes within His Majesties Province aforesaid and their Natural descendants respectively All their Lands liberties & properties not by them Conveyed or sold to, or possess’d by any of the English Subjects or aforesaid As alsot the Privlege of Fishing, Hunting & Fowling as formerly.

That all Trade and Commerce which hereafter may be allowed betwixt the English & Indians shall be under such Management & Regulation, as the Government of the Massachusetts Province shall direct.

If any Controversy of difference at any time hereafter happen to arise between any of the English & Indians for any real or supposed wrong or injury done on either side, no private Revenge shall be taken for the same, but proper Application shall be made to His Majesty’s Government upon the place for remedy or Redress there in a due Course of Justice we submit Our selves to be Ruled and Governed by His Majesties Laws and desiring to have the Benefit of the same.

We also the said Delegates in behalf of the Tribes of Indians Inhabiting within the French Territorys who have assisted us in this War, for whom we are fully Impowered to Act in this present Treaty. Do hereby Promise and Engage that they and every of them shall henceforth lease and forbear all Acts of Hostility Force & Violence towards all and every the Subjects of His Majesty the King of Great Britain.

We do further in behalf of the Tribe of the Penobscot Indians Promise & Engage That if any of the other Tribes Intended to be included in this Treaty, shall notwith standing refuse to Confirm & Ratify this present Treaty Entered into on their behalf & Continue or renew Acts of Hostility against the English in such case the said Penobscot Tribe shall Joyn their Young Men with the English in reducing them to reason.

In the next place we the aforenamed Delegated Do Promise and Engage with the Honorable John Wentworth Esqr as he is Lieutt Governor & Comander in Chief of His Majesties Province of New Hampshire & with the Governors & Comanders in Chief of the said Province for the time being, That we & the Tribes we are Deputed from, will henceforth lease & Forbear all Acts of Hostility Injuries and Discords towards all the subjects of His Majesty King George within the said Province. And we do understand and take it that the said Government of New Hampshire is also Included and Comprehend in all and every the Articles aforegoing, Excepting that respect the Regulating the Trade with us.

And further we the aforenamed Delegates Doe Promise & Engage with the Honoble Lawrence Armstrong Esqr Lt Governor & Comander in Chief of His Majesties Province of Nova Scotia or Accadie to live in peace with his Majesty’s Good Subjects & their Dependants in that Government according to the Articles agreed upon with Majr Paul Mascarene Commissioner for that purpose & further to be Ratified as mentioned in the said Articles.

That this present Treaty shall be Accepted Ratified & Confirmed in a Public and Solemn Manner by the Chiefs of the several Eastern Tribes of Indians Including therein at Falmouth in Casco Bay so time in the Month of May next In whereof we have signed these present Affixed our Seals.

Dated in the Council Chamber in Boston in New England the fifteenth day of December Anno Domini One thousand seven hundred and Twenty five Annoq. RRS Georgii Magna Britanix &c Duodecimo.

Done in the presence of the Great & General Court or Assemble of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay Aforesaid

Being first read distinctly & Interpreted by Capt. John Giles Capt. Saml Jordan & Capt. Joseph Bane sworn Interpreters.

[Signed] Att J Willard Secry; Sauguaaram Alt Loron; Arexies; Francois Xavier; Lignum; Meganumbe.

Second Document: The ‘Reciprocal Promises’ of June 4, 1726

Whereas Maj. Paul Macerene one of the Council of his Majesty’s Province of Nova Scotia Commissioned and Appointed By the Hon.ble Lieutenant-Coll. Lawrence Armstrong. Lt. Govr and Commander in Chief of this his Majesty’s said province to Negotiate and treat about the Indians Engaged in the Late Warr hath by and with the Desire of His Majesty’s said Council in Connection with his Majesty’s province of New England, Concluded and Effected the Same for his Majesty’s said province as well as that for New England with Sangaurium (alias) Laurent, Alexis, Francois Xavier and Maganumbe, Delegates of the Penobscot, Norrigwock, St. John’s & of the Cape Sable Indians & of the other Indian Tribes Belonging to and Inhabiting within this his said Majesty’s said province of Nova Scotia & that of New England as appears by the Instruments Sign’d Seal’d and Exchang’d by the Said Maj. Paul Mascerene Commissioner for His Majesty’s said province and the Said Indian Delegates in presence of the great and general Court or Assembly of the Province of Massachusetts Bay Bearing date at the Council Chambers in Boston New England the Fifteenth day of December one thousand Seven hundred and twenty Five, Whereof the Following Articles being Exactly the Same as required by the said Delegates to be performed on his Majesty’s Part by this his said Government

I do therefore in the Name of the Honble Lawrence Armstrong Esq the Lt. Gov & Commander in Chief as aforesaid By with the Advicxe of the Council of this his Majesty’s said province for and in the name of my master his most Sacred Majesty George of great Brittain, France & Ireland King Defender of the Faith &c the Chiefs of the Said Indian Tribes having Conforme to the said Articles Stipulated by their said Delegates come here and first performed their parts Ratify & Confirme the same and in Testimony thereof I Have to the Following Articles Sett my hand & Seal:

Whereas the Chiefs of the Penobscot, Norrigwock, St. Johns Cape Sable Indians and of the other Indian Tribes & their Representatives Belonging to and Inhabiting within this his Majesty’s Province of Nova Scotia Conforme to the Articles Stipulated by their Delegates, Sangarumn (alias) Laurens, Alexis, Francois Xavier, & Meganumbe, at Boston in New England the Fifteenth day of December one thousand seven hundred & twenty five have come to this His Majesty’s Fort at Annapolis Royal and Ratifyed said Articles and made their submission to his Majesty George By the grace of god of great Brittain France & Ireland King Defender of the Faith &c and Acknowledged his said Majesty’s Just Title to this his said province of Nova Scotia or Acadia & promised to Live peaceably with all his Majesty’s Subjects & their Dependents & to perform what Further is Contained in the Severall articles of their Instruments. I do therefore in His Majesty’s name for and in Behalf of this his said Government of Nova Scotia or Acadia Promise the Said Chiefs & their Respective Tribes all marks of Favour, Protection & Friendship

And I do Further promise & in the absence of the honble the Lt. Govr of the Province in behalf of this his said Government, That the Said Indians shall not be Molested in Their Persons, Hunting Fishing and Shooting & planting on their planting Ground nor in any other their Lawfull occasions, by his Majesty’s Subjects or Their Dependants in the Exercise of their Religion Provided the Missionarys Residing amongst them have Leave from the Government for So Doing

That if any Indians are Injured By any of his Majesty’s Subjects or their Dependants They shall have Satisfaction and Reparation made to them According to his Majesty’s Laws whereof the Indians shall have the Benefit Equall with his Majesty’s other Subjects

That upon the Indians Bringing back any Soldier Endeavouring to run away from any of his Majesty’s Forts or Garrisons, the Said Indians for their good Office Shall be handsomely rewarded.

That as a Mark and token of a true Observation & Faithfull Performance of all and Every Article promised on his Majesty’s part by the Government I have by and with the Advice and Council for said Government Releas’d and Sett att Liberty the Indian Prisoners

Given under my hand and seal at his Majesty’s Fort of Annapolis Royall this 4th day of June in the Twelvth year of his Majesty’s Reign

Given under my hand and seal at his Majesty’s Fort of Annapolis Royall this 4th day of June in the Twelvth year of his Majesty’s Reign

John Doucett Lieu Govt of Annapolis Royal

By Order of his hon the Lt Gov by and with the Advice of the Council, W. Sheriff Secy

Written by johnwood1946

March 4, 2015 at 9:13 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

What Was the Big Deal About the Marco Polo?

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From the blog at

One cannot live in Saint John, and go to school there, without hearing of the ship the Marco Polo. However, to praise the Marco Polo is more a matter of local patriotism than it is a reflection of actually knowing anything about it. And so, I was wondering,

What Was the Big Deal About the Marco Polo?

James Smith began his career working in the shipyards at Saint John, but went on to become a shipbuilder on his own. He was the first to build at Courtenay Bay, and his first production was the ship Courtenay, launched there in about 1835. He is believed to have built about sixty ships over the years, including the Marco Polo in 1851.

Marco Polo

The Marco Polo

From a painting by Thomas Robertson, 1859, State Library of Victoria, Australia, and the web site

The Marco Polo was a three-masted clipper ship, 184 feet long, 36 feet wide, and with a 29 feet draught. She displaced 1,625 tons. The ship was launched on April 16, 1851, but Courtenay Bay was shallow except at high tide and was not deep enough for the operation. The Marco Polo fell on her side and became stuck in the mud. She was re-floated after about five days, but was soon grounded again. She made it clear of Courtenay Bay only after another two weeks of effort. One of James Smith’s relatives denied these details, saying that James would never have allowed it to happen; but it appears to be true nonetheless.

“A large and elegant vessel called the MARCO POLO was launched on Thursday morning last from the building yard of Mr. James Smith at Courtenay Bay. He is also the owner. She has three complete decks, measures 1,625 tons, and her length aloft is upwards of 184 feet. We presume that although not quite the largest that has been built in the Province this splendid ship is probably the longest that has been built in the Province. She is named after the celebrated Venetian traveller who discovered the coast of Malabar.”

“We regret to learn that after this fine vessel had got clear of her ways in launching, she touched the bank of the creek and the wind blowing fresh at the time, went over on her beam ends, in consequence of which, some of the persons on board were hurt. One boy saved himself by jumping overboard and swimming ashore. The vessel, we understand, was not injured.”

(The New Brunswick Courier, Saint John, April 19, 1851)

There is some difference of opinion about how elegant the ship was, or wasn’t:

“She was a bluff, ugly vessel, just like hundreds of her sisters before and after. She had no pretensions to beauty….”

(The Age, Melbourne Australia, May 19, 1934)

The first sailing was from Saint John to Liverpool in 1852, carrying a load of timber. That crossing was made in fifteen days. Some other crossings followed, before she was sold in that same year to James Baines of Liverpool, representing the Black Ball Line. The ship was then converted to passenger service for the immigrant traffic to Australia. The decorating of the ship was ‘over the top’:

“One morning eighty-three years ago the Marco Polo lay in Liverpool with a broom at her mast head, signifying she was for sale. James Baines, the founder of the Liverpool Black Ball line of clipper packets had an eye for a ship. He bought her cheaply, refitted her, and made many alterations and improvements, and loaded her for Melbourne. The contemporary descriptions of her saloon decorations and her cabins wonderful in her day are amusing to us. There was a wealth of embossed red velvet and rare woods; there was plate glass and stained glass wherever it could be fitted; a plate glass table top in the saloon served to illuminate the cabins below; panels with coins of all nations in high relief served to decorate the dining saloon, and so on.”

“On her first passage to Melbourne from Liverpool this little ship not only broke all records for speed, but brought 930 ‘Government immigrants.’ These, together with a crew of sixty and her officers, would total close to 1,000 persons. The excellence of her accommodation is revealed by the fact that there were only two deaths. In those days a few score dead would arouse little or no comment.”

(The Age, Melbourne Australia, May 19, 1934)

That first sailing took 76 days in each direction and, with time spent in port, the total time away from Liverpool was 5 months and twenty one days. That was the first time that a ship had made a round trip to Australia in less than six months. Some people have given slightly different details:

“Under the command of Captain James Nicol Forbes she made the voyage from Liverpool to Port Phillips Head in 76 days on the18th of September. An epidemic of measles among the children aboard caused 52 deaths during the voyage. After three weeks she returned to London in another 76 days, arriving on Boxing Day. This was the first recorded round trip in less than six months, or to be exact 5 months 21 days.”


“On her first voyage, under the command of Captain James ‘Bully’ Forbes, she left Liverpool, England for Melbourne, Australia with one [thousand] passengers on board, and made the passage in an unheard of 68 days, and returned to Liverpool again with a record passage of 74 days. The whole shipping world was astounded.”


Bully Forbes is quoted in one document, in order to demonstrate his character:

“His slogan was ‘Hell or Melbourne’, and he habitually gave his passengers a generous preview of the former through his hunger for speed. An apocryphal story has him padlocking the sails during a gale to prevent any of the more timid in his crew hauling in the dangerously strained canvas.”


In the days of the Australian gold rush, rickety ships would arrive full of immigrants having spent months at sea. The situation is reminiscent of the history of Partridge Island in Saint John, where inspectors examined passengers for communicable diseases and for evidence of mistreatment at the hands of ships’ captains. The Marco Polo was not a rickety old ship, but accommodations were not the best either. Regulations required that sleeping mats be a minimum of six feet long and 18 inches wide, for example, and at least one of those on the Marco Polo barely met the standard, being 20 inches wide.

Darren Watson told a story about a day in late 1854, when four ships, including the Marco Polo, arrived from London and Liverpool, with merchandise and a total of 1,078 passengers, plus crews. Four ships arriving at once pointed toward a delay in processing, and the Marco Polo had already taken too long at sea. Captain William Wild was in no mood for a further delay which was inevitable when it was discovered that several deaths had not been properly logged in the immigration papers.

William Ward had served under Bully Forbes and was of a similar temperament. The inspectors were harassed and prevented from performing their duties. The Marco Polo then ran the blockade and, it was thought, would become the subject of an enquiry. There was no enquiry, however, and they seem to have got away with it.}

There were other incidents of note in the history of the Marco Polo, such as when she was used to save people from the burnt ship, the Eastern City in 1858; and a month later carried nearly 47,000 ounces of gold out of Australia. She struck an iceberg off Cape Horn in 1861 and required heavy repairs. (All from

The Marco Polo’s glorious career was coming to an end and, in 1867, she no longer met the requirements for passenger service and was again consigned to carrying cargo. Following that, she was modified for the cargo business and sold several times. She was carrying lumber from Quebec when she sprung a leak in July of 1883, off the coast of Prince Edward Island. The pumps could not handle the flow and the captain grounded her near Cavendish, PEI. The masts were cut down to reduce her profile in the wind; attempting to avoid further damage.

The community rushed to the beach to witness what was going on, including a small girl, Lucy Maud Montgomery, with her grandfather. She wrote:

“That day we had a terrible windstorm in Cavendish. Suddenly the news was spread that a vessel was coming ashore. Everyone who could, rushed to the sandshore and saw a magnificent sight! A large vessel coming straight on before the northern gale with every stitch of canvas set. She grounded about 300 yards from the shore (on a sandbar) and as she struck the crew cut the rigging and the huge masts went over with a crash that was heard for a mile, above the roaring storm. The next day the crew of twenty men got ashore and found boarding placed about Cavendish. Being typical tars they painted our quiet settlement a glowing scarlet for the remainder of the summer.

Quoted in from Alpine Path.

The next month she was sold for salvage and the work of taking off the lumber began. A gale arose one night, when the salvage crew were staying onboard. The gale continued all the following day, and the community gathered again. A heroic effort was put forth to save the salvage crew, and this was successful. That was the end of the salvage operation, all was lost. Souvenirs washed ashore and were widely dispersed among the local residents.

These are the things that I have learned about the Marco Polo, and why she was such a ‘big deal.’ She was likely the longest sailing ship ever built in Saint John, and was renowned for her speed. She was called the fastest ship in the world. She had a long career carrying immigrants to Australia, and they say that one in twenty Australians can trace their ancestry to those passengers (Wikipedia). Upon her return from the record breaking round trip to Australia,

“A waterman meeting Mr. James Baines in the street said ‘Sir, the Marco Polo is coming up the river.’ ‘Nonsense man’ returned Mr. Baines. Marco Polo is not arrived yet.’ In less than an hour Mr. Baines was face to face with the commander.”

(The Daily Telegraph, Australia, November 17, 1883, at

She was also famous in Liverpool:

“There are probably none who lived in Liverpool some 30 years ago but will have a lively recollection of the Marco Polo. Her name in Liverpool was a household word, and her praise was on the lips of all who knew her.”

(The Daily Telegraph, ibid.)

Written by johnwood1946

February 25, 2015 at 9:18 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Grand Manan to the Petitcodiac, in 1786

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From the blog at

The following is from an anonymous book entitled The Present State of Nova Scotia with a Brief Account of Canada, first published in Edinburgh in 1786. It describes the part of New Brunswick from Grand Manan to Beaver Harbour, and on to Saint John, Quaco and the Petitcodiac River, with mention also of the Minas Basin.

I liked this account because it is from very early in the Loyalist period. It is general in its observations, however, and I regret that it is not more detailed.

Beaver Harbour 1920

Beaver Harbour in 1920, from

“The southerly winds that sometimes prevail … blow very hard upon the coast”

Grand Manan to the Petitcodiac, in 1786

The line is supposed to commence upon the sea coast, in latitude 45°’ 10′ N longitude 66° 50′ weft of London, at the island of Grand Manan, which lies two leagues from the main land, on the north side, at the entrance into the Bay of Fundy, and has several small rocks or islands near it, on the south side, which form a harbour, where, at certain seasons of the year, the cod and seal fisheries may be prosecuted to advantage. The island is everywhere covered with good timber, but is entirely destitute of inhabitants, except some Indians who land upon it occasionally. It is about fourteen miles in length, and nine in breadth, very steep and craggy on all sides, but covered with an excellent soil, capable of amply rewarding the labours that are necessary for its cultivation; however, it is not yet known whether it is to belong to Great Britain or to America.

In sight of the above island, and ten miles distant from it, is a large and deep bay, which still retains its Indian name of Passamaquoddy, having a great number of islands at its entrance, of various dimensions, the principal of which, called Campo Bello, has several loyalists settled upon it, and some tilled land.

The harbours that lie within the Bay are equal in goodness to any in the world, and alike fitted for carrying on the lumber trade to the West Indies, the fisheries, and ship building. The facility of constructing docks and ships, for the latter purpose, is perfectly obvious, having great stores of good timber everywhere in the neighbourhood of the bay, as well as a very considerable rise and fall of the tide, which, though not so great as at St John’s River, and other places farther up the Bay of Fundy, contributes to render the situation superior to them in a comparative view, when ship building is considered as the principal thing to which the attention of the loyalists in this quarter ought to be directed.

The upper end of Passamaquoddy Bay terminates in a river called St. Croix, which branches out into three distinct channels; and these, making considerable angles with each other, have caused a misunderstanding between the persons appointed to settle the limits of both countries, as the line between them was to be drawn from the head of this river, and it remains undecided which of the three branches is to be called the head. The lands in general that lie round about them are not only very good, but the superior excellence of the timber makes it an object to this country to contend seriously for every foot of territory to which she is entitled.

St Andrews is a handsome town, built by the loyalists, upon the river above mentioned, consisting of 600 houses, the situation of which, though in some respects well chosen, is certainly at too great a distance from the sea, and, besides this disadvantage, has only six feet water in its harbour upon the ebb tide. No place, as has been observed before, in the whole province, is better situated for ship building. They have the cod fishery even at their doors, and possess the singular advantage of being scarcely ever incommoded with the fogs which prevail on many other parts of the coast several months in the year. The inhabitants at St. Andrews, and in its vicinity, amount to upwards of three thousand of all sorts; and no people on the continent are capable of being more usefully industrious in proportion to their numbers.

Beaver harbour is a small port, 3 leagues east of Passamaquoddy, settled by the refugees, about 800 in number, who have built a town upon it, the situation of which seems to be well chosen for carrying on the fishery, if their harbour was not exposed to the southerly winds that sometimes prevail and blow very hard upon the coast.

From this place to St. John’s River, E., N.E. distant 12 leagues, the land appears moderately high and rocky, with a bold shore, entirely free from danger, but destitute of any other than one small harbour, only capable of sheltering fishing vessels against all winds. Off the mouth of St. John’s River, lies a small island, high, rocky, and covered with wood, near to which ships must pass, in going in or out of the river; and, as it lies at a small distance from the main land, is equally fitted to afford protection to the river against an enemy, and for the erection of a light-house, to guide ships in passing up and down the bay, being very conspicuous for several leagues.

The town is built upon the east side of the harbour, within two miles of Partridge Island, which, lying directly opposite to the entrance of the river, breaks off the sea, and perfectly shelters it from all winds.

The river, a mile above the town, by being confined between some rocks that encroach upon it considerably, though of a great depth, has a large fall or rapid, particularly upon the ebb tide. When the flood has risen 12 feet in the harbour below, the falls are smooth, and continue to be passable for about twenty minutes; and the river is navigable from hence upwards of 70 miles for vessels of 80 to 100 tons burthen. In times of great freshets, when the rains fall, and the snows melt in the country, which is commonly from the middle of April to the beginning of June, the falls are absolutely impassable to vessels bound up the river, as the tide does not rise to their level, and the strong current, which runs continually down through the harbour at that season, frequently prevents vessels that are bound in from entering, unless assisted by a fair wind.

The town consists of upwards of two thousand houses, many of which are large and spacious, and being built upon a neck of land, almost entirely surrounded by the sea, is thereby rendered exceeding pleasant. The streets have been regularly laid out, are from 50 to 60 feet in breadth, and cross each other at right angles, corresponding with the four cardinal points, every house possessing 60 feet in front by 120 in depth, makes it capable of becoming one of the best cities in the New World, as the ground whereon it is built is of a moderate height, and rises gradually from the water.

No place on the north side of the Bay of Fundy possesses equal advantages with this for becoming a place of general trade; the river extending not only much further into the country, than any other in the province, but likewise has upon its banks large tracts of land, equal in goodness to any in America, for raising both corn and livestock; while its woods, abounding with the best of timber, will enable it to carry on a trade for lumber with the West Indies, and to vie with New England in the ship building business, which was one of its principal branches of commerce before the rebellion. When the woods on the lands near the river are cut down, and a sufficient quantity cleared, a business which, in the hands of the loyalists, is making rapid advances, the quantity of cattle raised in this part of Nova Scotia will certainly be very great, both for home consumption and exportation.

Amongst other advantages possessed by this settlement, it ought not to be considered as the least, that a very considerable property was imported, together with a number of respectable merchants, from New York, at the evacuation of that city, whose unremitting industry and perseverance has embellished the town with a great many fine houses, the harbour with several fine quays and wharfs, and they already possess 60 sail of vessels, some of which are employed in carrying on trade with the West Indies, and the rest in the whale and cod fisheries. Most of the fur trade that can ever take place on this side of the province, must naturally center here, as no other navigable water extends far inland, besides St John’s River. Very good masts for the royal navy are cut at the distance of 50, 60, and 70 miles from the sea, as large as to 32 inches diameter, which are collected by persons appointed by government, below the falls, from whence they are shipped off for the King’s dock yards in England.

The harbour has from seven to ten fathoms water, with good holding ground, and an excellent beach for landing goods, and graving or repairing vessels of the largest size. Opposite to the town, on the other side of the harbour, is a small settlement, called Carleton, built and inhabited by the loyalists, amongst whom are a considerable number of ship carpenters, whose talents have already exerted themselves in building many vessels; whilst the large quantity of fine timber, on every part of the river, equal in goodness to that of New England, and almost any other province in America, is not only a proof of their situation being very properly chosen, but a sure prognostic of the advantages which this place derives from ship building.

To all the above recited advantages may be added the extent of population, which exceeds ten thousand persons of all denominations, among whom are several regiments disbanded at the late peace, that are not only highly respectable for their numbers and their industry, but still more so, if possible, from their forming a very strong barrier to the colony against the subjects of the United States. A small fortification, called Fort Howe, defends the town, but is too inconsiderable to withstand a regular attack; being very small, and entirely destitute of out-works. The river has in it a number of islands, which, even at this time, afford pasture for a great number of cattle; so that, when more land is cleared, a far greater portion of livestock will be raised than the inhabitants can consume, the soil being generally very good and capable of great improvement.

Twelve leagues further up the Bay of Fundy, E.N.E. from St John’s River, is a small settlement belonging to the loyalists, called Quaco. About six hundred persons are here, who have very wisely directed their attention to agriculture, their lands being generally accounted good, whilst, on the contrary, they have no place fit to shelter vessels in, especially when southerly winds prevail. The timber of all kinds is very good, and the country abounds with game.

Eleven leagues east from the last mentioned place, the Bay of Fundy, after carrying everywhere in its course a great depth of water, and continuing from fifteen to six leagues wide, is suddenly divided by the land into two distinct arms, the largest of which, called the Basin of Minas, takes its course nearly due east for almost eighty miles, but having the rise and fall of the tide continually increasing as it advances, so as to be equal to 70 feet perpendicular at its head, and receiving the waters of several rivers, which from thence penetrate considerably into the country. All these rivers have settlements upon them, the inhabitants of which amount to upwards of 4,000. The lands in the environs of Minas Basin are very good, and have store of timber, particularly on the south side, and continue so almost all the way to Halifax, from which it is distant upwards of 40 miles. The other head is called Chignecto Bay, taking its course N.E. from where the separation commences, for about 50 miles, receiving the waters of several rivers which discharge themselves into it, one of them being pretty considerable, called Petitcodiac, where about 2,000 loyalists are settled, and have the appearance of being a thriving colony. Many advantages are held out to persons that are obliged to settle in this province, whose views are not solely confined to trade, but who wish to attend to agriculture, and the raising cattle, as most of the lands round the head of the Bay are very good, having been formerly possessed and cultivated by the ancient French colonists, distinguished by the name of Neutrals, whole industry had been crowned with a degree of success not always equalled, and but seldom exceeded, by the inhabitants of the southern colonies; nor can it be doubted, but that the persons in whose hands they now are, will very speedily render them an object of jealousy to their New England neighbours. There is a small fort, formerly called St Laurence, and now Fort Cumberland, built upon the isthmus which joins the peninsula to the main land, and, though of no great account at present, may, in a more improved state, be looked upon as the key of Nova Scotia, against the invasion of a land army.

Written by johnwood1946

February 18, 2015 at 9:38 AM

Posted in Uncategorized


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