johnwood1946

New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

The Morrow House at French Lake – New Information

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By JohnWood1946@hotmail.com

The Morrow House at French Lake. A Mystery Resolved?

An earlier blog told the story of the Morrow house at French Lake, New Brunswick, and raised questions as to when it was built. The traditional story did not seem right. A reader has added his observations to the previous blog, and these are included here. If you have more information then please let me know. The more people share what they know, the better the chance that it will survive for others to see in the future.

New Information Here!

It is said that George Morrow lived first in a log house. The log house burned and, in 1847, he built what we know as the Morrow House. This is not the whole story, since Daniel Wood and his family also lived on Lot 20, and are said to have lived in the same log cabin or house. So, if there was only the log house before the Woods died in 1847, then we must imagine that between seven and thirteen people (two prosperous families) were living in around twenty feet square. Furthermore, the General Assembly passed an appropriation bill in 1840 to build a road from George Morrow’s house in French Lake to the South Branch Road. There was no mention of Daniel’s family also living in that house.

I also doubt the legend that the house was built in 1847 because Daniel Wood died on August 21st of that year and his wife Ann died exactly two weeks later on September 4th. If building the house was occasioned by their deaths, then it was too late in the year to build the house from scratch.

Therefore there must have been at least one other house on the property which predated the Morrow house and which has passed out of memory.

I visited the Morrow house in the 1980s, but it was mostly demolished and there is not much to report from the visit. The building had been of timber frame construction, stud construction being a relatively recent development. I also noted that the front part of the house was underlain by a concrete slab on grade, while the back part of the house was not. The whole building was cladded using ‘slabs’, those first cuts off of the log that are mostly bark.

A reader visited the house before it was demolished and made further observations. He found that the back part of the house and the front part of the house were of different architectural styles and building technologies. The back part was older than the front part. The back part was built using forged nails while the front part was built with square cut nails. Some of the hardware used in the back section was made by a blacksmith, such as the butterfly hinges on the kitchen cupboard, again suggesting an early date. The fireplace mantles were also of 18th century design, although they might have been constructed later.

The conclusion was that the back part of the house was of eighteenth century design and was in the style of the 1760 to 1800 period. I interpret this time span to refer to the architectural style and building practices. The house must have been built post-1783 judging from what we know of the history of the area. The front part of the house was built at a later date, and some new trims and improvements were added throughout as part of the nineteenth century upgrade.

The house had fifteen rooms during the height of activity in the 1800s. There was a creamery across the road; a three-story hennery; and a cotton weaving operation. The creamery included cheese making. There was a wooden aqueduct to bring water down from a spring to the north. The aqueduct was made of wooden pipe fashioned from tamarack logs bored out in sections and joined together. Water from the aqueduct was used to cool the milk room and to keep a granite tub full. There were also two large barrels that were kept full of water for domestic use and a sign warned against watering horses from them.

A New Story of When the Morrow House was Built

This seems to fit what we know about the building of the house:

Daniel Wood, his wife Ann Morgan, and their first five young children moved from Rusagonis to Lot 20 in French Lake in about 1795. Rusagonis was not far away, so Daniel would have prepared for his move by building a house in advance. It is now known whether he built the log house or whether George Morrow built it later but, log house or not, Daniel built a framed house on the site of the eventual Morrow house at an early date. This is why the back of the Morrow house had eighteenth century details.

George Morrow was Daniel Wood’s son-in-law, and might as well have been a son as far as their closeness was concerned. George married Daniel’s daughter Elizabeth in 1828 and moved into the log house, while Daniel and Ann were living in the big house. Daniel and Ann’s children were mostly out on their own by that time, while George and Elizabeth’s family was growing. So, at some point, George and Elizabeth moved into the big house and Daniel and Ann transferred to the log house.

Daniel and Ann died in 1847. The old log house burned and George added onto the main house with an addition on the front to create what was eventually called the Morrow house.

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Written by johnwood1946

August 1, 2012 at 9:39 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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