New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

The Old Woman House in French Lake, New Brunswick

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John Wood died in 1868, but his house on the hill at French Lake was still occupied up until at least the mid-1880s. This house may have survived into the 1900s but I am not aware of any photographs. The only legends are as follows.

Ghosts are like old soldiers, they just fade away; and they fade more rapidly when the physical reminders of their presence disappear. The ghosts of French Lake are benevolent, and it would be safe to preserve photographs and stories about this old house – while we can. If you have any information then please let me know. The more people share such information, the better the chance that it will survive for others to see in the future.

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The house was on the rocky hill at French Lake, New Brunswick near the intersection of Merritt Smith Road and Morrow Road. This was at the north west corner of Lot18. It is truly a mystery, since it has been gone for a very long time. 

Site of the Old Woman House

John Wood was born in 1788 and lived most of his life at French Lake. He was predeceased by his first two wives and, in 1855 at the age of 67 years, he married for a third time to Hannah Branscomb the widow of Thomas Drillon. John died in 1868 and an unseemly fight broke out between Hannah and John’s other heirs over the administration of the estate. The Woods wanted to keep the homestead property whole in the family but, in the end, it had to be sold to pay old John’s bad debts. It was not until 1886 that Hannah and several other heirs obtained mortgages and bought back parts of the old property. Curiously, while it is true that Hannah participated in reclaiming part of the original homestead, the house where she lived was on another part belonging to George Wood. Hannah probably lived in the old house during this whole period, including when neither she not George was the owner.

I am not sure when Hannah died, but it was after 1887. By this time she was in her 80s and she was referred to as the old woman. Likewise, the house was called The Old Woman House.

A new house now sits on this site, but the lot was vacant when I visited it in 1993. The old house sat directly on the rock and had no permanent foundation.  Most evidence of it was entirely missing and its size could only be discerned from the pattern of brush growing in the area.  It was either a very large house, or was a house and barn. I was able to find remnants of apple trees, cherries, lilacs, tiger lilies, rhubarb and raspberries; demonstrating its status as an old dwelling site.


Written by johnwood1946

December 1, 2011 at 3:55 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

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