Daniel Wood of French Lake, New Brunswick – 1764-1847
Daniel Wood was born on June 30, 1764, and moved to New Brunswick in about 1785 when he was 21 years of age. He called himself a ‘Loyalist’ on one occasion, and I suppose that meant he was from the United States. I have never been able to locate his origins, however.
Daniel arrived with at least one other family member, a brother Thomas, and it took less than a year for Thomas to get into trouble. George Andrew had accused Nathan Smith of having Thomas lie on Smith’s behalf, and at the expense of Andrew. Thomas was forced to print a statement in the Gazette that Smith had not put him up to this slander.
In the early years, Daniel is always associated with the Rusagonis Stream, where he worked in William Hazen’s logging operations. It is my belief that, while working for Hazen, he also worked for John Morgan, a pre-Loyalist who had moved to the Rusagonis Stream from Nova Scotia and who would have needed labor to establish himself. Daniel probably even lived in the Morgan household for a while until he built his own log house on an unoccupied piece of nearby land.
Daniel made a petition with two other men for lots on the North Branch Rusagonis Stream in mid-1787, and a year later he petitioned with his brother Thomas for land on the main Oromocto River. Daniel and Thomas were still living on the Rusagonis Stream at this time, although Thomas left the area shortly thereafter. Both of these petitions were unsuccessful.
Daniel married John Morgan’s daughter Ann in about 1788, and they had a family of two boys and eight girls. One of the girls, Mary, died and Daniel and Ann had a second daughter Mary. Son Nehemiah also died, leaving only one surviving son, named John.
By 1794, Daniel still had no land of his own and so, late that year, he bought Lot 21 and half of Lot 19 in French Lake on the main Oromocto River. He added to this holding in the spring of 1795 with the purchase ofLot20. He and Ann and their four small children moved into a log house onLot20 during that summer.
Daniel added to his homestead site between 1800 and 1807, until he owned all of Lots 18 through 23, plus another property in the area of FrenchLake/MorrowCemetery. His initial 1794/95 purchases included 525 acres, which he obtained for just 26 pounds. The total property in 1807 amounted to 1,252 acres and included everything from the present Wood Cemetery on the hill at French Lake up to and including Morrow Pond; plus the French Lake Cemetery property. It stretched between these limits from the river, back to aboutNew Road. In mid-1799, he petitioned for 500 acres nearby in Lot D just above French Lake, but with no success.
By 1816, he sold the 200 acre lot near the French Lake Cemetery to John Foss and in 1828 he sold several other lots to his son John and to his son-in-law Orlo Hoyt, who had married his daughter Phoebe. That left him with the original lots that he bought in 1794 and 1795, which were the heart of his homestead property. He sold these remaining lots to Orlo Hoyt and to another son-in-law George Morrow (who married Elizabeth Wood) in 1836, when he was 72 years of age.
Daniel had only about four acres of cleared plow and pasture land twenty years after he first arrived in French Lake. He kept 2 oxen, 1 horse, 5 cows and 15 sheep; seemingly modest possessions that nonetheless put him in the top five percent of tax payers in the District.
The French Lake homestead property would also have been used for logging. However, there were two other timber holdings, one on the Rusagonis Stream and the other in the Blissville / Hoyt area.
The Rusagonis Stream property consisted of 400 acres, some of which he bought in 1807 but most of which was obtained by his only successful land petition in 1809. This was an investment property and he sold it five or ten years later after removing the marketable timber.
The Blissville / Hoyt properties included 1,018 acres bought in 1827 and 1830. This was Daniel’s largest investment in land, and cost 800 pounds. He held these properties, with one interruption, until the late 1830s and the mid-1840s as a source of income. This was well after he had sold the last of his homestead property to his son and sons-in-law.
In 1833 and 1834, Daniel’s son John was sued six times for debts totaling more than 1,000 pounds. Settlement of these suits lingered on for years and, in 1838, Daniel had to sell land to generate cash to cover his son’s legal problems. He sold an approximate half-interest in the Blissville / Hoyt properties in 1838 but was able to buy most of it back in 1841.
Land was not valuable as a speculative investment, but only for what it could produce. Daniel’s total holdings of 2,670 acres, or about 4.2 square miles, was used mostly for logging. As far as the land was concerned, the total purchase price of over 1,014 pounds exceeded the sale price.
Daniel was also involved several times with making loans and buying and selling mortgages.
I do not get the impression that Daniel was especially litigious, at least not when compared with many other people. However, there was no escaping law suits when involved in the logging business. In 1825, Jeremiah Tracy built a saw mill at what is now the village of Tracy. This effort required investors, and some of these were George P. Nevers, Daniel Wood, Daniel’s son John and Daniel’s son-in-law George Morrow. Tracy’s mill burned in the fall of that same year and Jeremiah was in financial trouble. George P. Nevers sued Tracy for 2,000 pounds in 1827 and won, for example. Daniel Wood had made payments to feed and equip Tracy’s woods crews and, in 1828, he also sued Tracy. His suit was for 800 pounds. The March 11, 1828 Supreme Court judgment was in favor of Daniel.
Part of this same cast of characters made a reappearance in 1834 when George Morrow sued George P. Nevers and George’s brother-in-law John Wood for around 300 pounds. Part of this suit was for 43 pounds that John owed to George. This suit was a connivance between Morrow and the Wood family, and had two objectives. The first objective was to get Nevers, and the second objective was to raid John Wood’s cash funds and to make him appear poor-on-paper as he faced numerous other less friendly creditors.
Perhaps it was around this time that Daniel’s wife Ann demonstrated her disdain for the logging industry. The story is told that Daniel had a team of horses like they used to have in those days that did nothing but haul logs and were very used to that type of work. ‘Driving teams’ used ‘driving harnesses’ which were quite simple, as harnesses go, and did not consist of much. An unsympathetic tradition of what followed says that Wood’s wife was a ‘little strange’ and that she took Daniel’s driving harness – cut it up into pieces – and threw it down the well. Very many years later, Malcolm Smith went down that well to clean it out. The well was sixteen feet deep and he used a ladder. He found the harness and brought it back up himself. Malcolm got the story of how the harness got there from his mother. Malcolm also discovered that the water level in the well was affected by the tide in the river.
In religion, Daniel was always a member of the Church of England, as was his son John. He and John and another son, Nehemiah, were baptized in Maugerville in 1792. Nehemiah dropped from the record and must have died young. It was the third generation before this family joined the Christian and then the Free Christian Baptist Church.
Daniel drew up his will on February 25, 1847, at eight o’clock in the morning. Witnesses were Solomon Smith and Joseph Mersereau. Executors were to be George Morrow and Thomas Mersereau. He divided his estate among his wife and children. His wife Ann was to get a pension allowance of 30 pounds per year, and more if required for her comfort. Daughter Margaret was to get 50 pounds less than the other children from his “notes on hand and money” since he had already given her half of a house and barnyard. Other household furniture was to be divided among his daughters upon the death of his wife Ann. There was another sheet attached to the will, but not filed with it at the Archives. This sheet named other beneficiaries as follows: Anthony Breen, John DeWitt (mentioned three times), Luke DeWitt, E. Eastbrooks (sic), Benjamin Gray, John Hazen, Thomas Hazen (twice), John Hoyt, Orlo Hoyt, Alexander Lean, Henry McLaughlin, John McLaughlin, Hugh McQuestion, John Mersereau, George Morrow, Samuel Nason, George Mott, Edward Perley, Ezekiel Sely (sic), Benjamin Smith, Daniel Smith, E. Smith, Joseph Smith, Samuel Smith, Stephen Smith, William Smith, and George Tracy.
Daniel died on August 21, 1847 at the age of 83, and Ann died exactly two weeks later on September 4th at the age of 78. I propose that their homestead house was built on the site of the later ‘Morrow house’ on Lot 20 in French Lake; that it burned in 1847; and that that was the immediate cause of death of both. George Morrow rebuilt the house in 1847/48 and reused some charred timbers from the earlier house.
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The attached pdf file is a chronological arrangement of the events of Daniel’s life, with references: