johnwood1946

New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Murder on Diamond Square Road

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By JohnWood1946@hotmail.com

Murder on Diamond Square Road

I have found only two sources for this story and this rendition relies entirely upon them. However, old stories fade with time and retelling it here may delay that process.

In the 1860s, there was an old peddler who, on one occasion, herded cattle from the Saint Andrews area all of the way to Newcastle for sale. Later on in the story he is said to have been very rugged, so that we do not know why he was described as “old”. He was also herding cattle which is not a usual occupation for a “peddler”. Altogether, the story appears to have been embellished over the years.

The old peddler made it to Newcastle and commenced his return toward Saint Andrews with the proceeds of the cattle sale. The Diamond Square Road out of Fredericton Junction is part of the old Great Road from Fredericton to Saint Andrews, so that the old peddler’s route passed through Hartt’s Mills, as it was known. There, he stopped off at Thomas Hartt’s stage coach inn and may have spent the night drinking and gambling with two Irishmen and a Scot who became aware that he was carrying a large amount of money. These three men had been working at a nearby farm owned by a Miller.

 Diamond Square Road

 From Days of Old, page 37

The next day the old peddler left the inn, later known as the Bee Hive, and went on his way down the Diamond Square Road. The story is that he was accosted by the two Irishmen and the Scot and that a fight broke out over his money. No one witnessed what actually happened, but oral histories include details of the fight and that the old peddler resisted the attack over the course of a mile. He was eventually stabbed in the back and pulled off into the bush.

Some people say that, some time later, Thomas Nason and William McCarrick were looking for lost oxen along the road at a place known as mile hill. Others say that it was just one man, a Nason from Upper Farm, looking for lost cattle. In any case, the smell of the dead man drew attention and the old peddler was discovered without his money or other possessions. He was buried on the spot. The grave was unmarked until a railway engineer named Robert Donaldson placed a foot stone. Later, an iron cross was erected but that is probably now gone also. Thirty years ago there were people who knew where the grave was, but now we cannot be sure.

No one knew the old peddler. There was no identification on the body and no missing persons report was ever linked to him. Capt. Jeremiah Tracy was named a coroner, and the inquest determined only that he had been murdered for his money. No arrests were ever made.

Years later, one of the attackers was tried for murder in Montreal and was condemned to be hanged. He then confessed to the murder on the Diamond Square Road and provided some of the details which would otherwise not be known. Another telling of the story is that this man was named Smith and that the confession was in New York, not in Montreal.

John C. Tracy told a story about a man who stole two horses and who kept them tied up in the woods without care or feed. At least one of the horses starved to death and John C. Tracy concluded that a man of such cruelty must have been involved in the murder also. Nobody knows if this is true or not.

Sources:

  1. Nason, Lottie an account in The Rural Edition, June, 1980. Reprinted in, Days of Old, a History of Fredericton Junction, by Katherine DeWitt and Norma Alexander, Sunbury West Historical Society, 1987, p 43, 44.
  2. John C. Tracy’s Book, an unpublished manuscript at the New Brunswick Provincial Archives, Fredericton, N.B., ca. 1930, p 103-106.
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Written by johnwood1946

May 8, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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