johnwood1946

New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Daniel Wood’s Log Cabin and ‘Little Field Barn’ at French Lake, New Brunswick

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By JohnWood1946@hotmail.com

Daniel Wood’s Log Cabin and ‘Little Field Barn’ at French Lake, New Brunswick

There was once a house 400 to 500 feet due west of the George Morrow house at French Lake. In other words, it was behind and slightly to the right of the Morrow house when viewed from Morrow Road. This house pre-dates the Morrow house, and the stone foundation is all that was left of it when I was there in the late 1980s. It was overgrown with apple and cherry bushes at the back of an open field. This house could only have belonged to Daniel Wood or to George Morrow. The well is also still there, to the right between some softwood trees.

The foundation was of dry wall construction without mortar, and used native field stone and boulders. It was hard to tell in the 1980s, but some such foundations have sloping faces for stability. The foundation may not have extended far above ground level for the same reason.

There was no basement and, of course, root cellars were common in those days.

The foundation was very small, no more than about 20 feet square. The house itself may have been larger, extending beyond the stonework on sills or posts.

There was a stone doorstep on the left side of the foundation (viewed from the road) near the riverside corner.

The house and well were at the start of the decline toward the river, and the riverbank is covered by large trees. This house may easily have been there before Morrow Road was built. The front of the house would have faced the river and the embankment would have been clear then.

Morrow Pond is slightly to the left of the house site, further down alongside the river. That whole pond and riverside area was flooded out each Spring, and would have served as meadow only. Today, there is no pond. The area is permanently flooded by “Ducks Unlimited”, more to the benefit of the mosquitoes than the ducks said Gene Hanson.

Behind the house, about half way between the house and the road was an area of very tall, dark green hay/grass. This may have been an old barn site. Not even the oldest of the local people can remember there ever being a barn there.

Eugene Campbell (p 66) said that foundation and well belonged to George Morrow, and that he and his wife Elizabeth lived there in a log cabin prior to 1847 when they built their permanent home – the “Morrow house”. On the other hand, Malcolm Smith was very definite that this is where the “first Wood” lived. The following story that Malcolm told about the well was definitely related to Daniel and Ann.

(Paraphrased) “The first Wood did a lot of logging and used to be involved in the log drives down the river. He 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.”

“Anyway, Wood’s wife was a ‘little strange’ and took Daniel’s driving harness – cut it up into pieces – and threw it down the well. I went down that well to clean it out. The well was sixteen feet deep and I used a ladder. I found that harness and brought it back up myself. I asked my mother about it, and she told me this story.”

“The water level in the well was affected by the tide in the river.”

It is possible that both Eugene Campbell and Malcolm Smith are correct. If so, then Daniel and Ann lived in the log cabin here and, later, so did George and Elizabeth. 

The log cabin is on lot 20, which Daniel bought in 1795.

It seems likely that Daniel Wood lived on the George Morrow site before 1847. The log cabin was too small to raise a family the size of Daniel’s, and there are no other abandoned foundations as far as I know.

I do not know why the water level in the well fluctuated, but doubt if it was due to the tide. The tide is not much here, only sometimes causing the eel grass to point upstream, and a direct flow would be required from the river to the well. The well head is also about 20 feet above the river, while Malcolm said that the well was only 16 feet deep.

There is another place on lot 20 that likely figured in Daniel’s farming operation. It is also on the riverside of Morrow Road, about half way between the log cabin site and the Wood cemetery. It is called Little Field Barn. No one can remember there ever being a barn or a field, but there must have been at one time. When dad was a boy in the early 1900s it was only a clearing where he used to play baseball. He remembered nothing of any structure there.

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Written by johnwood1946

May 30, 2012 at 10:24 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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