New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

The Razing of Chignecto, and the Attack on Fort Nashwaak

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The Razing of Chignecto, and the Attack on Fort Nashwaak

Fort Nashwaak, built by Villebon in 1691-92

From Clarence Webster, Acadia at the End of the 17th Century

There was probably not a single English speaking person living between the Penobscot River and the Saint Croix River up until 1759. In fact, that part of Maine as well as Vermont and New Hampshire were either disputed or unclaimed. France had ceded Acadia to Britain in 1713, with some exceptions such as Cape Breton, but the limits of exactly what had been handed over were in dispute.

There were also very few French settlers between the Penobscot and the Saint Croix. The whole territory belonged to the Wabanaki people, and to them alone. There were more substantial Acadian settlements further to the north, in Nova Scotia.

Maine was not a separate colony, and Massachusetts was anxious to expand northward. The small French population could not possibly resist this expansion, but they and the French government in Quebec City were able to use Native allies to terrorize any would-be colonists. The politics were complicated, and many of the most horrible stories of Indian raids mention parenthetically that some French people also participated.

The fall of Quebec in 1759 changed everything, and colonization became inevitable. Conflict with the French and the Native people was also inevitable and this protracted conflict is known as the French and Indian Wars. This blog posting is about one of the campaigns of those wars.

Colonel Benjamin Church was in Boston in 1696, when the Massachusetts General Court determined that military actions were to be taken against the French and the Natives at the Penobscot River and to the north of there due to “late shocking outrages.” Church was 57 years old, a member of the House of Representatives, and an experienced Indian fighter, so it is not surprising that some members of the House asked him to lead the actions.

Church proceeded to travel about Massachusetts and Connecticut gathering English and Indian volunteers for the campaign. Returning to Boston in August, he received his orders from Lieut. Gov. William Stoughton to go to Piscataqua (Portsmouth) with his volunteers and to meet Capt. John Gorham who would be his second in command. He would also be met by additional forces including Indians recently released from prison for this service. He was then to “pursue, take, kill or destroy the enemy by sea or land,” wherever they might be found. He was authorized to accept volunteers from among the enemy, if any would submit, but “only at discretion.” Other orders were of a routine nature, such as to maintain order among his troops, etc.

While these preparations were underway, Fort William Henry at Pemaquid (Bristol, Maine) was captured by the French and Indians. There was also news that a French ship had captured an English vessel at Mount Desert and that a man-of-war was being dispatched to take on the French ship and release the English one. Church and company proceeded to Piscataqua as ordered, intending to meet up with the man-of-war and to proceed to Mount Desert to take on the French while the man-of-war dealt with the French ship. After a week, there was still no sign of the man-of-war or of the additional volunteers that were supposed to be assembled there.

Church then left Piscataqua for York to search for French and Indians, sending his second in command to Winter Harbor on a similar mission. Neither Church nor Gorham found any enemy at these places and it was assumed that they had withdrawn to Penobscot.

The company therefore proceeded to Penobscot Bay, searching there and amongst the islands, but no one was found. The village of Penobscot was abandoned and old fire pits and other evidence of habitation appeared to be about a week old.

The men rowed their whale boats 50 or 60 miles up the Penobscot River, probably above Bangor, in search of a known village, but found it deserted. Two miles further on, two Indians came down the river in a canoe and the soldiers shot at them. One of them escaped while the other crawled off into the woods, wounded. They tracked his blood but lost the trail. In his account, Church said that the soldiers fired without his authorization, but this kind of history-management appears in many such diaries and need not be taken seriously.

Two more men came down the river and they were also shot at, but escaped. A letter was found in their canoe from a Priest to a French commander explaining that the French and Indians had all gone. Some other Indians were discovered. They were attacked, their village was burned, and their corn was cut down.

Church and company returned to Penobscot. The men were very tired, having rowed so far up the river and back down again, both with and against the tide. They had shot a few Indians, but there were no spoils worth having and they were disheartened. Their best guide had also run off and was replaced by another man who was supposed to be knowledgeable about places to the east, but he was untried. They then searched around Penobscot Bay again, and also at Mount Desert with some but little discovery.

Aboard ship, they debated what to do. Church had heard that men were coming down the Saint John River from Quebec to help build a fort at Saint John. They also knew that there was a fort upstream at the Nashwaak River. Fort Nashwaak was Villebon’s headquarters but, by this time, he was planning to move his base to Saint John and that is why he was rebuilding the old fortress there. They then decided to head for Senactaca (Chignecto) to be closer to what appeared to be the center of French activity.

Many of the people at Chignecto had fled, but enough remained to put up a resistance. Several of Church’s men, including a Lieutenant, had been killed when Jarman Bridgway came running towards Church calling for him to stop, but Church’s forces would not stop and Bridgway began to run away. Church warned him to halt or he would be shot and he then came to a halt. It turned out that Bridgway was concerned for his ancient parents who had not been able to run away and wanted Church to protect them against the Indians that Church had brought along. Bridgway would not give intelligence about the Indians from the Chignecto area lest they take vengeance on him. That was Church’s account, but others add that Bridgway presented papers to show that he had signed an oath of allegiance to the English King which Church did not accept. Church’s Indians were possibly Iroquoian, while the local Indians were Mi’kmaq.

Orders were given to pursue the enemy, to kill the Indians and to take the French prisoner if they asked for mercy. Fighting continued, prisoners were taken and examined, goods were plundered, buildings were burned, and livestock was killed. Any survivors were left with nothing. Church denied these atrocities, the usual diarist’s management of history, but added that “It is nothing to what our poor English, in our frontier towns are forced to look upon.” Couriers were carrying news to Villebon of the English plundering, which continued for nine straight days.

Prisoners were threatened with being turned over to Church’s Indians, who would scalp and cannibalize them. They were terrified and “The French, being sensible of the Major’s kindness…” in not having killed them outright, kissed his hand and begged for mercy. They said that their priests had gone to meet some French ships, but refused to give details.

On September 20, Church sailed for Monogenest  [Manawagonish Cove] at Saint John. They travelled overland to the harbour and found several men at work. He then sailed into the harbour and landed, drawing fire from the French, some of whom were killed or wounded while the others were chased off. One prisoner revealed the location of twelve buried cannons and of other hidden supplies, in return for medical help.

The next morning they discussed whether to ascend the river to confront Villebon, but the river was unusually low and they could not sail their ships that distance. So, they ranged around the woods looking for more French, finding and killing some of them. The Indians were all gone, to help Villebon, or had fled further north for protection against the coming conflict. There was then some discussion of going to Passamaquoddy and Machias and Church encouraged his troops that good bounty might be found there.

They sailed to Musquash, but the wind was not favourable to proceed, so they stayed there for a while when other English ships arrived and Colonel Hathorne boarded Church’s ship to confer. Hathorne’s orders from William Stoughton were to proceed with his men against Villebon at Fort Nashwaak. Church bragged to Hathorne of everything that he had accomplished, and of the impossibility of proceeding up river with such low water. He also argued that Villebon was too well prepared for an attack, but all to no effect. Hathorne’s orders would be carried out. Church was out-ranked and his forces were now under Hathorne’s command.

Villebon had lookouts at the river’s mouth and knew what was coming. He had only about 100 soldiers, against Hathorne’s 500, so defenses at the fort were hastily improved and every available Acadian was called into service. A message was also sent to Father Simon at Meductic, who had the Maliseet go to the fort to fight the English.

It was mid-October when word arrived that Hathorne was only a couple of miles below Jemseg. Villebon addressed his men and cries of ”Vive le Roi” echoed through the fort. The first attack occurred the next morning, and Villebon kept his men within the fort rather than to cross the Nashwaak River under fire from the English. This attack was repulsed by cannon fire.

Cannon and musket fire then came from both sides, but Villebon’s guns were better mounted and more effective. The English made no progress that day and, almost freezing to death, they lit fires at night to keep warm. The fires attracted a further barrage from the fort and the English had to extinguish their fires.

The English were in an extremely bad way. They took cannon fire from the fort again in the morning and, by afternoon, they quit the fight, returned to their ships, and sailed down river. Thus ended the battle of the Nashwaak.


Church, Thomas, The History of King Philip’s War [and of] expeditions against the French and Indians … in 1689, 1690, 1692, 1696 and 1704…, Boston, 1825

Kidder, Frederic, Military Operations in Eastern Maine and Nova Scotia During the Revolution, Albany, N.Y., 1867

Raymond, W.O., History of the River Saint John, 1604-1784, Saint John, N.B. 1905

Written by johnwood1946

July 5, 2017 at 8:04 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

Captain Henry Mowat’s Account of the Battle on the Penobscot

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From the blog at

Five hundred men were dead, 43 ships were destroyed and, in August of 1779, Jeremiah Tracy and other survivors of the attack on the British at Penobscot Bay scrambled through the woods to escape capture — or worse. Jeremiah’s involvement was revealed in this blog in 2011 with Jeremiah Tracy: Pioneer of the Village of Tracy, New Brunswick, at In 2016, A War Journal from Majabidwaduce on the Penobscot gave details of the battle at

A Depiction of the Battle at Majabidwaduce

From Wikipedia

Presented today is another account of the battle by Captain Henry Mowat, the British commanding officer.

It was a remarkable battle. Captain Mowat and company arrived in mid-June to set up a fortress in the wilderness. The Americans attacked three weeks later when preparations were still in their infancy. The British would surely be defeated, and it was only by luck that Mowat had sufficient naval forces to prolong the fight. In the end, it was a rout. The American force was utterly destroyed.

The following is from The Siege of Penobscot by the Rebels, London, 1881, reprinted in the Magazine of History, New York, 1910. Both of these edition were extracted from Mowat’s A relation of the services in which Captain Henry Mowat was engaged in America, …, in the Collections of the Maine Historical Society.

‘Majabidwaduce’ has various spellings and, today, its river is simply called the Bagaduce River.

Captain Henry Mowat’s Account of the Battle on the Penobscot

The Albany at last was called to New York in the beginning of 1779. Orders had not long before arrived from Britain for taking post in Penobscot Bay, and Capt. Mowat’s experience of the New England Coast being well known to Sir Henry Clinton on former occasions, he was proposed by his Excellency approved by Admiral Gambier as the fittest to command the naval part of the Force. The Admiral desiring to know the force necessary for the Service, was answered it should be Superior to any the Enemy at Boston could readily collect on such Emergency. It was accordingly settled it should be so, and that Captain Mowat should have a ship equal to the Importance of the object.

In the meantime, the Store of Powder in the Garrison at Halifax being totally exhausted, Captain Mowat received on board the Albany and proceeded with an ample Supply, the orders and Every equipment for the Expedition, being intended to follow: but he had no sooner landed the Powder, than he was ordered by Sir George Collier to the Bay of Fundy, and Sir George repaired soon after to New York where he was left the Senior Officer on the American Station.

On this change taking place, Captain Mowat, from reasons otherwise foreign to this Narrative, Considered it Necessary to urge what he had formerly represented to Admiral Gambier, and he wrote to New York from the Bay of Fundy, that if the Albany were to be the leading Ship, it would by no means be safe to trust the Expedition with one of her class, unless a Sufficient force should cruise between it & the enemy, until the post should be established.

This representation appears to have had no effect, for the orders for the Albany alone soon after arrived at Halifax, and were delivered by Capt. Gaylor of the Romulus to General McLean until the Albany should arrive.

Thus, if the Albany had happened to lead the Expedition according to the order, the whole must have been intercepted as we shall shortly see, & carried to Boston for a mere Novice might have conceived at once She was not fit to conduct it safely. The Consequences, which must be estimated according to the view & State of affairs at that time in America, Would have been tremendous. It would have been equivalent to a Second Burgoynade before there were time for repairing, or forgetting, the first: an immense Encouragement for the Americans, who were tiring of the length of the war, to exert their remaining resources, for the Opposition to exercise their clamor, and a proportional depression of the Spirits of the Loyalists. To the Southward we had but a slender footing in Georgia against such a disaster, the reinforcements not arrived as yet And the Army there inactive for Security. To the Northward Canada was not so strong as it had been rendered in the Succeeding Year, And Nova Scotia at least, lying contiguous to the territory of Penobscot, would have been overwhelmed, for by this detachment the Garrison of Halifax had been by the one-half reduced. This disposition of the Service must appear the more strange as we know Sir George Collier was by no means ignorant of the rebel force in the New England Ports.

But the dire Event was prevented by a mere accident & that the most fortunate in the World; for the Dispatch, forwarded by General McLean, did not reach the Bay of Fundy where Capt. Mowat was stationed, nor did he in Consequence get round to Halifax, until the latest moment having elapsed the General put the order into the hands of Captain Barclay of the Blonde Frigate, then Senior officer of the Navy there, who immediately put the North & Nautilus sloops of war under orders to proceed with himself And they were on the point of sailing when the Albany arrived. However this did not alter Captain Barclay’s judicious determination. They proceeded, had a long passage As might be expected at the Season, and at last arrived at Penobscot: The Rebel frigates Boston & Providence, who were cruising on the Coast of Nova Scotia westward of Halifax, finding the Convoy Superior to what they expected, did not think proper to attack it.

In a few days after the troops were landed, the Blonde departed, leaving Captain Mowat under a copy of Sir George Collier’s original orders, with directions for the North and Nautilus & all the transports to return to Halifax. Now soon the stores were landed for Captain Barclay had brought the Sloops of War there without Sir George Collier’s orders, Captain Mowat finding the wretched Albany was to be left thus alone, to lie in an open harbour distant from every Aid, and in the Jaws of the most powerful of the rebellious Colonies, to cooperate with about 700 troops in a fort not yet begun to be erected, was convinced it would be for the good of His Majesty’s Service to use the utmost Latitude, the order would admit of, to postpone the departure of the Ships, from the following view of the Situation of the Armament.

The Bay of the Penobscot is spacious and capable of containing all the Navy in the World. In a corner of it about fourteen leagues distant from the open Sea, near the Embrochure (sic) of Penobscot River is the Harbour of Magebigwaduce. This Harbour is formed on the one Side by the Mainland, and along the entire other side of it Stretches the Peninsula of Magebigwaduce. Cross — now Nautilus Island — is at the entrance of the Harbor. The Peninsula of Magebigwaduce is a high Ridge of land at that time much encumbered with wood. To its summit, where the fort was ordered to be erected there is an ascent of more than a quarter of a mile from the nearest shore of the harbour.

The Provisions, Artillery and Engineer Stores and the equipage of the troops, being landed on the Beach, must be carried to the Ground of the fort chiefly by the labor of the men against the ascent, there being only a Couple of small teams to Assist in it. The ground & all the Avenues to it, was to be examined, cleared from wood, and at the same time guarded. Materials were to be collected & prepared, And the defenses, as well as every convenience of the fort, were to be reared. Let anyone conversant in Matters of this Nature, reflect what a work it was for 700 men, And he will also readily allow, that in the Course of it they could not possibly, whether from fatigue, or in point of Necessary Preparation be in Condition of repelling any powerful attack. That, as appears also from the rebel General Level’s letter, everything depended on our Men of War being able to prevent the Enemy from entering the Harbour, which was not liable to be commanded or protected by the Guns of the Fort. That the Harbour once forced, a Superior Number of the Enemy might land on the most convenient parts of the Peninsula, cut off the communication of our Troops with that considerable part of the Necessary Stores, which to the last while the fort was erecting, must unavoidably be left on the Beach, force them to retire within the unfinished Breastwork, where Surrounded without cover, Comfort or defence, they could have no alternative but to yield Prisoners of War in a few days, or to risk an action against thrice their number on ground from its Nature more favorable to the Enemy’s mode of fighting than for theirs. It is altogether Superfluous to comment any farther on the orders by which a harbour, of this Importance must be left to the sole protection of the Albany Sloop, carrying ten Six and Six four pounders.

The Blonde Frigate had not been many days departed, when Captain Mowat having taken Measures for procuring the best information from Boston, concluded that the Post would soon be attacked, and he proposed to General McLean to give his concurrence for detaining the North & Nautilus, as well as the Transports, judging the General’s Consent to be eligible, because otherwise he would be liable to Account for acting contrary to the orders left with him.

The General equally confident in the Intelligence, gave his Concurrence, and accordingly in the fifth week from the Arrival of the Royal Armament at Penobscot, the Rebel fleet appeared in the Bay, consisting of eighteen vessels of war as per the margin, besides Transports having on board all necessary Stores and between two and three thousand Land forces.

At that time a great portion of the stores had not as yet been carried up to the fort. Its Scite [height?] was lower by several feet, than a piece of ground at the distance of six hundred yards. The Parapet, fronting this higher ground was scarcely four feet high. All the other parts of the Parapet, parallel to the Harbour of Magebagwaduce and in the rear, were not three feet high. The two Bastions to the harbour were quite open. The troops were encamped on the area, which might be about the Space of an Acre, there had been a Shade erected for the Provisions. The Powder was lodged in covered holes dug in the proposed Glacis: There was but a Single Gun Mounted, & that a Six Pounder.

The Naval force in Magebagwaduce Harbour were the Albany, North & Nautilus, Sloops of War, Commanded by Captains Mowat, Selby and Farnham, and four Transports.

In this force and State of Preparation, one may easier conceive than describe the anxiety & hopes of all concerned on the appearance of so formidable an Armament.

The enemy came up, and paraded before the entrance of the harbour, in perfect confidence of entering it without difficulty, which would have been the case had the Albany been alone, and then everything would have been over at once; but there was such an excellent Disposition made of the Sloops of War & Transports in the entrance of the Harbour, as baffled every attempt of the Enemy to force it for three days then they prepared to land their troops on a Bluff of the Peninsula without the harbour, where the General could place pickets communicating with the Main body in the fort, to watch & to oppose, the debarkation.

These three or four days of Embarrassment on the part of the rebels gave our troops time to do something more to the Fort, to carry up the most necessary Stores, to mount several guns, and in short to devote every Endeavor to the present Exigency. The Enemy, having failed in their attempts on the harbour, effected at last a landing on the bluff, and by superior numbers forced the Pickets into the Fort, took possession of the high ground, above mentioned, within six hundred yards thereof & immediately erected their Batteries and Lines.

In this Position both Parties continued firing at one another during the whole Siege. Our Troops, though extremely harassed, were daily getting into a better Situation, with the Assistance of the Seamen, and the Requisites which the Men of War furnished, as well as their own Stores. Secure on the Flanks & in the rear while our Ships maintained the Harbour, they had only to exert their chief attention & Efforts on the side fronting the Enemies Lines, which effectually deterred the latter from advancing in that direction.

They had erected Batteries on Nautilus Island, & in the rear of the harbour, all within point blanc shot shot of any position, in which the ships could be placed, but the proper choice of different stations on every emergency eluded their utmost efforts to enter it.

Thus both sides were employed, ashore & afloat, for 21 Days, in a variety of Manouveres, which are in part described in a Journal kept by an officer on shore & published by J.C. Esq. [John Calef ]

In the Meantime Intelligence having reached New York, that Penobscot was attacked, Sir George Collier Sailed to its relief, with the Raisonable Ship of the Line, Blonde, Virginia, Carmilla, Galatea, &c. They were perceived off Penobscot Bay by the rebel look-out vessel in the Evening. In the course of the night they embarked their Troops, &c., and in the Morning early their fleet was seen under Sail; but the wind failing them to get round the upper end of Long Island, they had no alternative but to run up Penobscot River. These Manouvres were a proof that the Strange Ships sailing up the Bay were a relief and the three Sloops of War being employed from daylight in embarking the part of their Guns that were ashore on the Batteries, &c., &c., were able to join in the center of the King’s Ships: during the pursuit one of the rebel vessels struck, after a few shots, to the Blonde & Virginia: Another ran ashore at the same time some distance below the mouth of the River, and was some time after taken possession of by the Raisonable, which brought up the rear: All the rest, with the advantage of good pilots & of a whole flood tide which happened in the night, got such a distance up the River, as afforded time for destroying them, And the crews made the best of their way to New England, thro the woods, in the utmost distress.

Thus ended the attack on Penobscot. It was positively the severest blow received by the American Naval force during the War. The trade to Canada, which was intended, after the expected reduction of the Post of Penobscot, to be intercepted by this very armament, went safe that Season: The New England Provinces did not for the remaining period of the contest recover the loss of Ships, and the Expense of fitting out the Expedition: Every thought of attempting Canada, & Nova Scotia, was thenceforth laid aside, and the trade & Transports from the Banks of Newfoundland along the Coast of Nova Scotia, &c: enjoyed unusual Security.

After all was over, it was natural to be expected, that Sir George Collier would have been Supremely happy to have represented this important Service in its proper colors, and that Capt. Mowat would, according to the Custom of the Service, have been sent home with the Account: But in answer to the Claim, Sir George expressed the utmost regret, that he could not spare a Ship from the Station: assured that if he intended to send an officer to England Capt. Mowat would certainly be the person; that he only meant to transmit the Dispatches by New York, in which he pledged his word, as he held it to be no more than his duty, that the Services of the Sloops of War would be represented in the most honorable Manner to the Admiralty.

On the next day & before there was time to attend to writing the Official Account of the Siege, he put the Albany under orders to proceed up Penobscot River to the Rebel Wrecks, observing it would be some time before he would leave the Bay. This done he departed abruptly for New York, and had no sooner gone out to Sea, than the Greyhound’s Signal was made to part Company, And she proceeded directly to England with his Account.

Her destination had been Kept a Secret from everyone, General McLean excepted, who in his publick Letter Acknowledges having been privately informed. This is the Manner, in which Captain Mowat was prevented Sending an Official Account of the Siege, And, Notwithstanding Sir George Collier having solemnly pledged himself as above, we See his account to the Admiralty confined to the Merit which we will readily allow him of sailing from New York to the relief with a Squadron Which the United Naval force of All America was incompetent to resist even in a Crescent & to a description of the Disposition & destruction of the Rebel Ships, which however could not be discerned by anyone from on board the Raisonable: The Service of the three Sloops of War during the Siege were totally omitted & their Captains not even named.

When Admiral Arbuthnot’s arrival had put an end to Sir George Collier’s Command, Captain Mowat hoped some Justice would have been done him for the Service performed at Penobscot, at least so far as the laying a fair representation of it before the Admiralty, but there was not the least notice taken of him, and he was left at Magebigwaduce under a continuation of the distress of seeing also, that every Promotion, made by this Admiral, was without a single exception, of officers Junior to him: Among these an Officer, who had received his first Commission into the Albany when Captain Mowat was appointed to her, was made Post Captain: It is not from any individious (sic) Motive this Instance is given on Captain s Mowat’s part: None can be more happy in the good fortune of an Officer, with whose great Merit he has had opportunities of being well Acquainted: but it is a Contrast to the glaring Injustice himself has Met with.

Written by johnwood1946

June 28, 2017 at 8:43 AM

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Voyage of the First Fleet of 1783, and the Settlement of Kingston by a Band of Loyalists

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From the blog at

Walter Bates was a farmer from Stamford, Connecticut who arrived in Saint John in May of 1783 aboard the Loyalist evacuation ship Union. He settled in Kingston, becoming Sherriff of Kings County, and died there in 1842.

We have heard from Walter Bates before. My blog posting from November, 2016 entitled An Unparalleled and Abominable Deception! was based on his work, and can be found at

Bates also wrote a memoir which included a description of the arrival of the Union and of the settlement of Kingston. This work was edited by W.O. Raymond and republished in Saint John in 1889, and part of this is presented below.

The appended passenger list indicates 65 heads of household arriving on the Union. However, the early Kingston settlers surveyed only 44 lots, so that not all of the Union passengers went to Kingston. Furthermore, some of the Kingston settlers likely arrived on other ships.

Bates probably wrote his memoir well after the fact. He describes the Kingston settlers as a band of happy workers, firm in their loyalty to Britain and sustained by faith, striving to provide for the women and children. Time had taken the rough edges off of what must have been years of unrelenting hard work.

Trinity Church, Kingston


Voyage of the First Fleet of 1783, and the Settlement of Kingston by a Band of Loyalists

It seemed as if Heaven smiled upon our undertaking, selecting the best ship in the fleet for our comfort, and by far the best captain. And so, with warm, loyal hearts, we all embarked with one mind on board the good ship Union, Captain Wilson, who received us all on board as father of a family.

Nothing was wanting to make us comfortable on board ship, which blessing seemed providentially to attend us throughout.

From Eaton’s Neck the ship sailed through East River to New York.

Having a couple on board wishing to he married we called upon Reverend Mr. Learning who received us with much kindness and affection, most of us having been formerly of his congregation; who after the marriage reverently admonished us with his blessing that in our new home we pay due regard to church and school as means to obtain the blessing of God upon our families and our industry. We re-embarked the next day, the ship joined the fleet, and on the 26th day of April, 1783, upwards of twenty sail of ships under convoy left Sandy Hook for Nova Scotia — from whence our good ship Union had the honor of leading the whole fleet fourteen days and arrived at Partridge Island before the fleet was come within sight.

Next day, our ship was safely moored by Capt. Daniel Leavett, the pilot, in the most convenient situation for landing in the harbor of St. John all in good health.

We remained comfortably on board ship till we could explore for a place in the wilderness suitable for our purpose of settlement. Those who came in other ships were in some cases sickly, or precipitated on shore. Here again we were favored.

A boat was procured for the purpose of exploration, and David Pickett, Israel Hait, Silas Raymond and others proceeded sixty miles up the River Saint John. On their return they reported that the inhabitants were settled on intervale land by the river — that the high lands had generally been burned by the Indians, and there was no church or church minister in the country.

They were informed of the existence of a tract of timber land that had not been burned on Belleisle Bay, about thirty miles from the harbor of Saint John, which they had visited. They viewed the situation favorable for our purpose of settlement. Whereupon we all agreed to disembark from on board the good ship Union and proceed thither. We departed with Captain Wilson’s blessing, and embarked onboard a small sloop all our baggage.

The next morning with all our effects, women and children, we set sail above the Falls, and arrived at Belleisle Bay before sunset.

Nothing but wilderness before our eyes; the women and children did not refrain from tears!

John Marvin, John Lyon and myself went on shore and pitched a tent in the bushes and slept in it all night. Next morning every man came on shore and cleared away and landed all our baggage, women and the children, and the sloop left us alone in the wilderness.

We had been informed the Indians were uneasy at our coming, and that a considerable body had collected at the head of Belleisle. Yet our hope and trust remained firm that God would not forsake us. We set to work with such resolution that before night we had as many tents set as made the women and children comfortable.

Next morning we discovered a fleet of ten Indian canoes slowly moving towards us, which caused considerable alarm with the women. Before they came within gunshot one who could speak English came to let us know, “We all one brother!” They were of the Micmac tribe and became quite friendly, and furnished us plentifully with moose meat.

We soon discovered a situation at the head of Belleisle Creek suitable for our purpose of settlement with Church and school.

No surveyor was appointed until July, when Frederick Hauser was commissioned with directions to survey and allot our land according to our wishes.

He commenced where we had designed for our Church and school house in Kingston with a road six rods [99 feet] wide and surveyed twenty-two lots numbering on each side. Before the lots were exposed for draft it was agreed that one acre off each adjoining corner of the four first numbers should be allotted the place for the Church and school house and that lot number one on the west side should be reserved for the parsonage. The water privilege to be reserved for those who would engage to build a grist mill and saw boards enough for our Church and school house.

Accordingly the lots were drawn and the numbers fell to the persons named in the grant.

Whereupon every man was jointly employed clearing places for building, cutting logs, carrying them together by strength of hands and laying up log houses, by which means seventeen log houses were laid up and covered with bark, so that by the month of November every man in the district found himself and family covered under his own roof and a happier people never lived upon this globe enjoying in unity the blessings which God had provided for us in the country into whose coves and wild woods we were driven through persecution. Here with the protection of a kind providence we were perfectly happy, contented and comfortable in our dwellings through the winter, and on Easter Monday met together, and as secondary means to promote religion, elected the following persons preparatory for the church, namely:

WARDENS: David Pickett and Joseph Lyon; and VESTRYMEN: John Lyon, Israel Hoit, Jonathan Ketchum, Andrew Patching, Elias Scribner, John Fowler, James  Ketchum, Silas Raymond, Ephraim Lane, James Moore, Seth Seeley, and Thomas Sumner.

The Rev. John Sayre who ministered to us at Eaton’s Neck soon after his arrival in the fall fleet removed to Maugerville.

The Rev. John Beardsley officiated for us occasionally, and made some preparation for building in Kingston.

On Thursday, the 7th day of October, 1784, I had the honor of the first marriage by the first minister. On the death of the Rev. John Sayre, in 1786, the Rev. John Beardsley was removed to Maugerville.

The vestry appointed to hold church at the house of Elias Scribner, and Mr. Frederick Dibblee to read the prayers. Public worship was thus attended regularly on Sundays till July, 1787 when Rev. James Scovil came from Connecticut, with the view of removing to this province as a missionary. As an encouragement we voted him the lot reserved for the parsonage, and on the following summer he removed with his family into Kingston, and attended public worship on Sunday in the house of Elias Scribner, where he found, and much to his comfort, a full congregation of church people in the wilderness ready to do everything in God’s name the exigencies of the church required.

With the coming of the Rev. James Scovil and the establishment of all the ordinances of religion, our little community was well content.

“Yea, the sparrow hath found her an house and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young, even Thy altar, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God.”


Written by johnwood1946

June 21, 2017 at 8:48 AM

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1,500 Dead in Saint John. The Cholera Epidemic of 1854

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From the blog at

1,500 Dead in Saint John. The Cholera Epidemic of 1854

Death Takes its Toll

From the McCord Museum

George Fenety was born in Halifax in 1812, and died in Fredericton on 1899. He was a well-known publisher and was Mayor of Fredericton at the time that Phoenix Square was being developed to its present configuration.

Today’s blog post is an excerpt from Fenety’s lecture entitled Longevity, which was published in Fredericton in 1887.


Filth and bad drainage were pregnant causes of disease in 1854, when the cholera broke out in Saint John. This City was in a most foul state, and had no proper water supply. No wonder the disease found congenial food here for the destruction of life. What I am about to relate may not be without interest to the younger members of the audience, and serve as a caution to the citizens in case of another cholera visitation, which God forbid. It is now thirty three years since that terrible scourge, when 1,500 of the people of this City and Portland were carried off in about eight weeks. As an epidemic, the disease first exhibited itself at the beginning of July in the neighborhood of the “Bethel Meeting House,” foot of Morris Street, where a woman and three of her children died within the space of forty eight hours; and after carrying off many others, it established itself in St. Patrick’s Street, taking a bound, as it were, over half a mile of ground. In this locality of slaughter houses and other abominations, the scourge was terrible; and it held on while there was a victim left, it would seem, to satiate its appetite. Those who died not die fled, so that the entire street was all but deserted. It next took possession of York Point, and the neighbourhood of the Mill Pond—likewise filthy disgusting places—where hundreds fell beneath the fetid breath of the destroyer. Portland was visited next, and in the main and bye-streets of this Parish, there were not a dozen houses out of four hundred that were not attacked. It then reached Indian Town, where the havoc was more manifest than perhaps in any other part, from the fact of the place being more compactly built. At one time, it was said, there were not a dozen persons, out of a population of 300, remaining, owing to the deaths and desertions. After destroying and dispersing all before it in Indian Town, the epidemic made its way into Lower Cove, and extended its arms right and left, in nearly every street.

Although these localities were the strong battle grounds of the disease, it manifested itself in a sporadic form in all parts of the City and suburbs—the air seemed impregnated, it had an unusual, sulphurous smell—nor was the fog any panacea; on the contrary, when the fog was the heaviest the disease seemed to increase. Upwards of 43 bodies were conveyed over the Abideau Bridge one day, when the fog was so dense that an object fifty yards ahead could not be discerned. The disease performed a circuit, confining itself chiefly to the lowlands, while the higher ground—or centre of the City—being better situated for natural drainage, was lightly passed over. More than one half the deaths were put down to predisposing causes—such as physical debility, inattention to regimen, poverty, ignorance, fright, and so forth. But every one healthy and vigorous felt that the last day was at hand for him, except perhaps the hard drinker; during that year no licenses for selling liquor were granted by the Mayor, and there never was so much drunkenness shown in the streets, in the midst of this harvest of death. The roughs and drunkards lost their heads and fell easy victims to the cholera. No class of men were more zealous or worked harder to mitigate suffering and minister to the wants of their fellow beings than the Doctors and the Ministers They were in the midst of the disease day and night; and although some of them were debilitated and worn out from exposure, it was set down as a most remarkable thing, that not one suffered or died from the disease. Heroic instances might be cited of deeds performed. One case might be mentioned of a reverend gentleman, who spent his days in the Protestant graveyards performing the burial service over the dead, as bodies would arrive one after another, rather than see them buried without such ministrations. On riding one morning to the church yard, head of the Bay, he saw a number of persons crowding together over some object. On coming up he found a boy writhing in agony, a victim of the cholera. He lifted him into his carriage, conveyed him to the Almshouse, and that boy grew up into manhood to relate the circumstance. That Clergyman’s name was Rev Wm. Scovill, who died in England a couple of years since. The orphans were so numerous that it was almost impossible to find them shelter. The Roman Catholic Bishop (Connolly), likewise dead, improvised buildings which afforded temporary quarters for a large number. Heads of families were cut down, leaving in some cases eight and ten helpless children, and starvation for want of care, was in some instances the result. The Almshouse was filled with children, the offspring of well to do and poor alike. In twelve days there were 48 cases of cholera in this Institution alone, and 26 deaths. The shipyards at Courtenay Bay and the Straight Shore were deserted. There were upwards of twenty large ships on the stocks at the time, and almost 2,000 men employed. But now every yard was as silent as a graveyard.

The progress of the disease from day to day will be better understood by the subjoined figures: The object was to keep the existence of the cholera as secret as possible—and no bulletins were issued for some days, until the necessity for doing so was forced upon the Board of Health, at that time not a very vigilant body. July 26th there were 10 deaths. For the 24 hours ending July 29th 33, including St. John and Portland. Next 24 hours 30. Next 31. Next 27. Next 24. Ending August 1 with 27. Next, August 4 41, and for the week ending the latter date 221. Next 24 hours August 11 40. Next 42. Next 37, and for each day afterwards 31, 33, 21, 18, 20, 20, 14, 18, 17, 15 and 13. And August 21 the decline is very marked, viz. 7 then 10—and last bulletin 3 at the end of September. I have omitted some days in the statement, but that is not material. There were probably 5,000 cholera cases and 1,500 deaths during the terrible two month visitation.

A person named Munford, who was sexton in the Germain Street Methodist Church, was engaged by the Board of Health to attend to the sick and dead. If there was a hero, that person was one in the true acceptation of the word. He was at work everywhere, day and night. Death had no terrors for him. Rough wooden coffins were going about the streets by cart loads; and Munford often unassisted would place the dead in coffins and have them carried away for burial. Persons in a dying state deserted by friends in sheer terror, had in Munford a ministering angel, doing what he could to afford relief. The Victoria Cross, then not instituted, has never been bestowed upon a more worthy hero. He worked and lived through the whole plague, and came out more than conqueror. Every house was provided with cholera medicine, and disinfectants were used in almost every room. The vapours from chloride of lime went up like incense pouring out of the windows like smoke, and scenting the air in all the neighborhood. House to house visitation by physicians, was a means used to find out the sick when in the incipient stages of the disease and provide remedies. The plan was considered most valuable, and was no doubt the means of saving many lives, especially among the poor and destitute. Finally, tar barrels and various combustible compounds were set on fire in the streets, so that the whole town was a glare of light at night. This proceeding was considered to be highly efficacious. The air was full of smoke and tar fumes, which perhaps destroyed the miasmatic germs and went towards bringing the plague to a close.

I thus described on the 21st August, 1854, the desolation of the scene that everywhere presented itself, and it may not be out of place if I here read it:

“We passed through Portland on Friday afternoon. Oh what a change was there presented since our previous visit! It was a scene of desolation and church-yard stillness, the houses with their closed shutters and white blinded windows, serving as monuments to remind us that the angel of death had passed with destructive rapidity through the tenements of this broad avenue. Scarcely a human soul was to be seen in the street. A field-piece might have been placed in any situation and discharged, and the chance of hitting any person would have been very remote. It was Portland at 12 o’clock at night, and yet the sun was in his meridian. The gutters were strewed with lime, in a yellowish state, showing the preparations that had been made for the terrible scourge. In these houses death had been busy for the past six weeks,—hundreds of human beings who inhabited there, in whose veins just now beat the pulsations of life and happiness, are now in eternity. From the Portland (Rev. Mr. Harrison’s) Church out to the Valley Church, through Paradise Row—a distance of about a mile and a half—where thousands of people and vehicles of all kinds are usually to be seen, it being one of the greatest business thoroughfares in the whole Province—we counted (at 4 o’clock in the afternoon) six human beings, and not a single vehicle. Out of about two hundred shops, there were not more than ten that were not closed. As a universal thing we may add, the white blinds were drawn at all the upper windows. It appeared to us as if those who had survived had deserted their houses and gone into the country— anywhere to get clear of the fatal destroyer. But a person must go through Portland to judge for himself it was a most painful and soul-stirring visit, that of ours on Friday afternoon.”

Public meetings were called, and steps taken to guard against future visitations. A Committee was appointed for the relief of the destitute, composed of the following citizens: James A. Harding, Chairman; Rev. William Scovil, Rev. William Donald, Rev. George Armstrong, Rev. Wm. Ferrie, James Macfarlane, John Boyd, W.D.W. Hubbard, Chas. P. Belts, James M’Millan, to whom contributions were to be sent. The destitution was terrible, especially among the poor; for during the eight weeks of the plague there was no business done, no employment, and consequently no money and but little food.

Although the cholera is again on the advance (it has found a lodgment in New York), and as in 1854 may diffuse itself far and wide, I do not think it possible, even if it gets to St. John, that it can work such destruction as on the former occasion. Our City in a sanitary point of view was then greatly neglected. We counted too much upon the fog as an epidemic preventive, and therefore took no precaution against an attack. The Mill Pond was a receptacle for the dumpage of all sorts of abominations. Erin Street was a large dish which received the flowage of all the high lands round about, and an unsavoury odor pervaded the atmosphere all the year round. All the Back Bay was occupied by slaughter houses in a reeking state of decay and putrefaction. We had no sewers worthy of the name. Stagnation in these respects was the rule. We had no regular water supply. The works were in the hands of a Company, and the pipes run only through certain streets, while the supply even from these was intermittent and uncertain. The Board of Health was not a live body as it is today. The necessity for undue exertion in 1854 may not have been considered essential.

Now all this is changed. The Mill Pond has been filled up, and fine railway structures occupy the site. Erin Street, York Point, and all adjacent streets have undergone a transformation which represents altogether a totally opposite condition of things. Instead of stagnant sewers, the whole city is well drained. The slaughter houses, once so noxious in the back part of the city, have been banished into the suburbs, and are now conducted under proper rules and regulations. The city owns the water works which are well managed, and the supply is generally satisfactory. The Board of Health is alive and active. In short, the sanitary condition of St. John and Portland today is pure and healthful; and the great fire of 1877, by which a large amount of animal and vegetable life was destroyed, may have contributed somewhat to this better condition of things. I do not mean to say that everything is in perfect order, and there is no room for improvement still. No precautionary measures to ward off the cholera should be neglected, whether by Boards of Health or people.

Written by johnwood1946

June 14, 2017 at 8:38 AM

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Fishing on the Nepisiguit River in the 1870’s

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From the blog at

This account is by Richard Lewes Dashwood, from his Chiploquorgan; or, Life by the Camp Fire in the Dominion of Canada and Newfoundland, Dublin, 1871. It is the story of a fishing trip with Indian guides. After a short stay on the Cascapediac River on the north side of the Bay of Chaleur, they explore the Nepisiguit River above Bathurst and as far as Pabineau Falls, Middle Landing, and beyond.

Grand Falls on the Nepisiguit River, New Brunswick, 1875

From the National Gallery of Canada


Fishing on the Nepisiguit River in the 1870’s

On the 1st July I left St. John on a salmon fishing expedition to the Bay of Chaleurs accompanied by two brother officers, Captains Butter and Coventry. We reached Dalhousie by steamer from Shediac. Having here hired three Micmac canoes and six Indians, we chartered a schooner to drop us at the mouth of the Cascapediac, a river some distance down the Bay. We commenced the ascent of the stream, each one in a canoe with two Indians to pole, one at the stern, the other at the bow. The stream was so rapid that although our men were first-rate polers, we did not make more than ten miles a day, and that without much delay except for dinner at mid-day. The way our canoes were forced up the strongest rapids appeared to us wonderful. Of what use would a Rob Roy be in such waters? A Rob Roy canoe is a cockney craft, fit only for the Thames or other such sluggish waters, and easily to be paddled by any muff. In a country where the rivers are the only roads, as in parts of America, it is of no use whatever.

After a week’s hard work we arrived at the Forks, about sixty miles from the sea. The river for most of the way ran through a deep gorge, with high and very steep mountains on each side, wooded to the water’s edge. We caught plenty of sea trout on our way up, some as heavy as five pounds. I met a settler coming down the river with his canoe half full of them. His fishing gear was the most primitive I ever saw. A stiff spruce pole served him for a rod, string for a line, and his fly was a bunch of feathers and red worsted fastened anyhow to a large hook. He had no reel, and on hooking a fish hauled him at once by main force into his canoe.

We were much surprised and disappointed at the paucity of salmon on our way up, and when we reached the Forks only succeeded in killing two, after several days fishing. We therefore came to the conclusion that the river as regards salmon was a myth, and decided to return to the sea. It only took us one day to run down to the salt water, so rapid was the stream, especially at one place called Indian Falls, which we ran in our canoes, and very ticklish work it was.

There are no settlers on the Cascapediac beyond a distance of ten miles from New Richmond, the village at the river’s mouth; here we hired a schooner, and having embarked with our canoes and Indians, set sail for Bathurst, a small village situated at the mouth of the Nepisiguit River, where we determined to try our luck; getting becalmed about twenty miles from Bathurst harbour we left the schooner, and prepared to paddle along the coast, the rest of the distance. Going ashore to have breakfast, we found swarms of lobsters in the shallow water among the rocks. We succeeded in gaffing about thirty of them, these made a welcome addition to our breakfast.

The number of lobsters all along the coasts of North America is astonishing; there are many companies who make a lucrative business by potting them.

After a long paddle we reached the head of the tide way of the Nepisiguit, late in the evening, where we made a fire and camped behind an old canoe lying on the shore; a canoe turned bottom up, makes a very good impromptu camp on a wet night.

The settlers here were for the most part French, some of them capital hands in canoes, and first rate fishermen; although their tackle is bad, and their flies very indifferent, they kill many fish, as they know where the salmon lie to an inch, this in any stream is half the battle, as a rising fish will often take a seemingly worthless fly, especially if the man at the end of the rod knows how to place it over him.

The Nepisiguit is one of the most celebrated rivers in New Brunswick. The Indian name is Winpigikewick, meaning troubled waters. The first three miles above the tide way is called “the rough waters;” this part of the stream is wide, and intersected by large rocks in all directions, forming most beautiful pools and heights. The salmon here stand almost always on the ledges of rock at the top of the rapids and pitches, as a small fall is called. Some of these pitches are too steep to pole up, but most of them can be run; to do this requires nerve, and a steady hand, but is not so difficult as it appears at first sight. On a subsequent visit to this river I was able to do bow-man in a canoe, and poled up, and ran places that appeared on my first visit extremely perilous and difficult. The canoes on this river are of Micmac pattern, requiring two men, and are quite steady enough to stand up in, and fish out of. Two miles above the rough waters are the Round Rocks, which is a very fair fishing station when the river is high and the fish are running. Four miles above, at the bottom of the Pabneau Falls, is a most excellent pool; the stream at this spot is not more than twenty yards across, and can be fished with a trout rod. Here is that famous cast from the flat rock, so well-known to all sportsmen who have visited the river. We camped within a few yards of this place, and built a smoke house of spruce bark, as we decided to make this our headquarters, one of us always remaining here during our stay on the river. Some Yankees were camped not far off, so we sent to make arrangements to fish the flat-rock pool day about, as it was the best in the neighbourhood, these gentlemen refusing to come to any terms at all, we sent an ultimatum to the effect, that under these circumstances, one of us would sleep nightly on the flat rock to be ready for the morning cast. This threat was afterwards carried out, and was soon the means of bringing the Yankees to their bearings. We then made an amicable arrangement, and were good friends ever afterwards.

From the Pabineau to the Grand Falls is eleven miles. In this distance there are two good fishing stations viz., Middle Landing and Chain of Rocks; the former is an excellent pool in any water, and easily to be fished; the latter is good only in high water. Grand Falls is the best station on the river, containing four good pools; it was, on our arrival, occupied by a party, so we were unable to fish there until a short time before our departure from the river. The salmon cannot get above the Grand Falls, though steps might be made, and there is sixty miles length of river above, and excellent spawning grounds. There are, however, great quantities of brown trout above, especially at a place called the Devil’s Elbow, where they are large, some weighing three and four pounds. During our stay on the river, which lasted a month, we smoked over a hundred and twenty salmon, which we packed in boxes and sent off to our friends at St. John. The following is the receipt for that process: Split the fish down the back and clean them, cutting out the gills at the same time; this should be done as soon as possible after they are caught, or the fish will become soft; immerse for two days in a strong pickle of salt and water, a trough for this purpose is easily hewn out of a fallen spruce or pine, or, in lieu, use a dish of birch or spruce bark. After taking the fish out of the pickle, wash them in running water, then hang them up in a smoke house for six days. A smoke house is built in the shape of a wigwam, and covered with birch or spruce bark; great care must be taken to keep the fire, which is placed in the smoke house, always burning very slowly, if it gets too hot the fish become cooked and therefore spoilt; it is a good plan to place the entrails of fish on the fire to keep it cool.

The scenery on the Nepisiguit, though pretty, has very little grandeur about it, the land being comparatively flat on both sides of the river, which with the breadth and shallowness of the stream in many parts, soon causes the water to become hot after a drought, when the fish naturally become sulky, and will not rise. I remember once, under these circumstances, whipping the stream for four days without a rise, although there were many salmon up at the time. I consider this river therefore most uncertain, though if one is lucky enough to hit off the right height of water, excellent sport is to be had.

The flies for the Nepisiguit are of a plain description, especially as regards the wings, which should be brown mallard, with a few sprigs of golden pheasant neck feather underneath; body fiery brown with blue and claret hackle, wound on together, is a standard fly, and is known by the name of the “Nicholson,” so called after the inventor, a well-known sportsman of St. John, New Brunswick. Black body, black hackle and yellow tip is a killer, and the same fly with a crimson tip fishes well at Middle Landing. Grey monkey body and Irish grey hackle is very good in clear water. Body half grey, half claret fur, with grey and claret hackles placed on together, is an admirable fly for the Pabineau. This fly was invented by my friend Captain Coventry, who stuck many a fish with it off the Flat Rock.

The climate is charming in the summer, hot days succeeded by most lovely still evenings, which you can never so thoroughly enjoy as when camped alongside a noble river, smoking your after supper pipe; you listen to the shrill cry of the mosquito hawks (a species of night jar); and the notes of the frogs, which vary from a shrill whistle to the hoarse croak of the bull frog, intermingled with the pleasant sound of running water. Your rod, ready for the morning cast, is leaning against a bush; at length you lie down to rest, speculating where you will rise him in the morning, and determined not to miss that fish which comes up by the white stone, as you did yesterday.

Written by johnwood1946

June 7, 2017 at 8:29 AM

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The Clock at Fredericton City Hall

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From the blog at

The Clock at Fredericton City Hall

The history of Phoenix Square goes back to at least 1822, when a building was proposed for the fire department and a temperance hall, where City Council also met. There were several fires over the years and facilities were rebuilt each time. This history was reviewed in an earlier blog posting entitled Risen From the Ashes, Phoenix Square in Fredericton, at

The present City Hall was completed in 1876, but the property around it was undeveloped — and a bit of a mess of hay and cordwood markets. There was no fountain out front, and the clock tower was empty. Mayor George Fenety wanted to develop the area, and his first step was to install a clock in the tower. Later on, he also championed the building of the fountain and the relocation of the public markets.

Fredericton City Hall Today, Complete With the Clock

From Wikimedia

Following is a summary of events leading to the installation of the clock.

April 3, 1877: Mayor George Fenety made a ‘Proposition to City Council for obtaining a Clock.’ The previous Council had included a clock-tower in the design of the new City Hall, and it was now time for the new Council to provide the clock.

Fenety had determined that a 1,500 lb. bell from the United States would cost about $560, and that a suitable clock from London would cost $1,312. A clock could be bought from the United States at a lower cost, but Fenety favoured the superior British model. Altogether, he thought that a clock and bell could be purchased and installed for about $2,000. Some money was on hand from a recent concert, but a loan would be required for the balance.

Fenety did not want raise taxes, or to pay for the project by subscription. Instead, he proposed that the proceeds from concerts be used to pay off the loan within three or four years. In addition, he offered that his $200 salary be abolished and credited toward the clock. The annual $200 salary saving could then be used for cleaning up Phoenix Square which was a jumble of hay and cordwood markets. Fenety also offered to guarantee the City’s loan.

April 3, 1877: The proposal was accepted, and Aldermen Beek, Richey, Simmons, Dykeman, and Moore were appointed a Committee to progress the matter.

April 19, 1877: The Committee presented their report, having consulted with Messrs. Shute, Babbit and James White, who were knowledgeable about clocks. The report was adopted and James White was appointed to go to Boston to inspect several clock manufacturers and to compile a specification for the work.

April 26, 1877: White arrived in Boston and inspected several manufacturers and several actual installations and found them all acceptable.

May 15, 1877: White presented his findings to the Mayor, but also reported upon correspondence of April 27, 1877 from Gillett & Bland of London. A London clock would be superior to the American clock in several respects and its manufacture would be superintended by Sir William Beckett, “a man of the highest scientific attainments in such matters.” In addition, the London clock would be slightly cheaper, even FOB Fredericton. He therefore recommended that the Gillett & Bland proposal be accepted, but that the bell be ordered separately, from William Blake & Co. in Boston.

May 15, 1877: James White’s report was accepted and the Mayor was authorized to borrow $2,000 on behalf of the City and to arrange for the supply of a clock and bell, with at least three dials, and perhaps four. It was further agreed to credit the Mayor’s $200 salary toward the project.

May 15, 1877: The Revisors, Aldermen Dykeman, Beek, Neville, Estey, and Moore each surrendered their salaries toward paying off the loan, $10 each and $50 in total. [Revisor: A person responsible for editing legislation in order to make it consistent with other provisions of the law.]

June, 1877: The bell had been obtained from Boston, and was installed.

June 6, 1877: Gillett and Bland of London acknowledged The Mayor’s order of the clock.

March 20, 1878: The clock was completed and shipped on this date.

January 21, 1878: Fenety had lost reelection and, on this date, asked Council if he should complete the project, or hand over the file to a successor.

January 24, 1878: Council agreed that George Fenety should carry on and finish his work with the clock and bell.

April 7, 1878: The clock arrived in Halifax aboard the steamer Peruvian.

April 9, 1878: The clock arrived in Fredericton by rail.

May 1, 1878 at 12 o’clock noon: The clock, having been installed in the City Hall tower, was struck for the first time.

May 7, 1878: Fenety submitted a closing statement of accounts to Council. The final cost had been $2,012.69, compared with an initial estimate of $2,000 and a later more detailed calculation of $1,893.44 (plus installation).

June, 1878: George Fenety was no longer Mayor, but he was knowledgeable about the project. He therefore gathered a chronology of events leading to the installation and of the current plans for paying off the debt. This blog posting is based upon his chronology.

Fenety’s closing thoughts:

  • Some people had proposed an illuminated dial fronting on York Street. Fenety estimated the first-cost of this to be $250, with an annual operating cost of $120. His recommendation was to leave this for future consideration.
  • There was a wooden grill underneath the clock on each face of the tower, and Fenety found these unpleasing and “barn-like”. He recommended that they be replaced with something better. [There are metal louvres there today.]

Written by johnwood1946

May 31, 2017 at 8:00 AM

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Prohibition in Saint John in the 1920’s, an Exposé

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From the Blog at

Following is a description of criminal behaviour and corruption, mostly in Saint John, N.B., during Prohibition. I have condensed and edited it from an original work, and given it a new title.

The problem with this work is that it exposes the people involved in these shenanigans based largely on hearsay evidence. It is therefore not surprising that it is anonymous and does not even indicate the name or location of the publisher/printer. It also does not indicate a year of publication, though it speaks of Prohibition in the present tense. It also mentions Premier Walter E. Foster, though that is not much help since Foster’s premiership (1917 to 1923) was entirely within the prohibition era in New Brunswick (1917 to 1927). The best we can say is that it was written sometime between 1917 and 1927.

Several reputable organizations were involved in making the original work publicly available, but I remain uneasy and have therefore changed the names of all of the principal characters, except for some who were not implicated in any wrongdoing.

Cars Like This, Running Booze in the 1920’s

North Vancouver Museum & Archives, via the McCord Museum


Prohibition in Saint John in the 1920’s, an Exposé

There is no locality in which the prohibitory law is administered as crookedly as in New Brunswick. It is thoroughly rotten!

Cameron was the Chief Inspector under the prohibitory law and is said to have been worth about $50,000 following his term. He is also said to have had an interest in a drug company, which was presided over by Martin Alexander, but Alexander and Cameron quarreled and warfare resulted. It was then that Alexander displayed his Douglas Avenue hand and Cameron resigned at the invitation of the premier, Hon. W.E. Foster.

Michael McQuestion came out from Scotland, settled in St. John, and became a cook with the 115th Regiment. McQuestion went into a delirium tremens from the prohibition booze, and ran amok with a bread knife at the barracks. He was disarmed and placed in solitary confinement and when the d.t.’s had worn off, was liberated.

McQuestion was then discharged from the military and joined the St. John police force. He was relieved of duty there for similar reasons, and went to a shipyard in St. John where he was a watchman for a few weeks. Following this he became a dominion policeman, and after a few months of this he became a booze hound. For three years he was a booze hound, and, although he was open in his seeking of graft and in bootlegging himself, he was retained in the service by Cameron for the very simple reason that he knew too much.

McQuestion would be staggering on the street under the influence of liquor and met with many mishaps when drunk. On one occasion he was confined to his home by illness. He was ill, but it was due to drinking. On another occasion he fell while drunk and sprained an ankle. Another time he was driving in a carriage at Moosepath Park and fell out of the carriage and damaged his collarbone.

McQuestion was driving during his three years as inspector at the unfortunate men who carried bottles of poisonous mixtures labeled as gin and whiskey. There were instances in which he was accused of placing in the clothing of helpless drunks, bottles containing liquor and the men would be fined $200. The inspector would bring the drunk to the police station and then pretending it was his first search, would frisk the drunk and find the bottle, while the fact was that McQuestion had been drinking from it himself and had placed it on the drunk.

Many men were fined $200 who should have been fined only $8. Their wives would be compelled to beg, borrow or steal the amount of the fine. Other families would mortgage their lives for a year before the debt was paid. McQuestion drove for three years at the men who drink the stuff the poison peddlers sell for five and six dollars. In the last year of his service as a booze hound, he did not arrest more than three actual leggers.

McQuestion would prey on the railroad station and when he saw men get off the trains under the influence he would arrest them and conduct a search. At the outset of prohibition there were many men traveling from New England who did not know of the prohibitory law being in force in New Brunswick. These men would fall easy victims to the inspector. Men going home to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia for vacations in the summer and at Christmas period, would fall into the clutches of McQuestion when they changed trains at St. John. There were cases of men en route to their families with several hundred dollars in savings from Upper Canada and the United States who would be jugged by McQuestion and fined $200. In many instances they would have only a few dollars left, and in other cases the men would not have $200 and they would remain in jail for months before they were liberated.

There was one man from Boston who was en route to Moncton to spend Christmas with his parents. He brought a bottle with him and had a few drinks. When he landed in St. John and changed trains the ever present McQuestion was in the offing and arrested him. A bottle of whiskey was found and he was fined $200. Instead of being with his family he was forced to spend the Yuletide in jail. He had $100, but was not willing to pay this out and be stranded.

McQuestion was in the Hotel Edward, King Square, St. John, one night, which was his usual hangout. A friend entered and after a whispered consultation McQuestion disappeared and returned with a bottle of the so-called whiskey, which he passed over for five dollars. On another occasion he bought a bottle for a woman at the same hotel.

McQuestion was the guest of bootleggers on many the wild ride to Fredericton for horse races. One time, they were in a car owned by Mack Smith and they all got drunk. The other members of the party were forced to tote McQuestion into a hotel and drop him on his bed.

McQuestion was as raw as beef on the hoof in his actions, but he held his position until Cameron was removed as Chief Inspector. Six months previous, Cameron announced McQuestion had resigned. But McQuestion was angry over this announcement and there was the fear he would open up and tell all he knew. So McQuestion was retained and among other places visited Woodstock where he arrested Councilor Nathan Andrews for carrying a bundle of newspapers and an alarm clock. There was an altercation and McQuestion landed a punch and blackened Andrews’ eye.

Andrews was placed in the Woodstock police station when a hostile crowd gathered outside of the Carlisle Hotel at which McQuestion was receiving his three meals and room at the expense of the province. The crowd included the mayor and chief of police as well as the town manager, who invited McQuestion to appear in front of the hotel and explain himself. McQuestion remained inside and was likely under his bed shaking like a jelly dancer.

After inviting McQuestion to appear and receiving no response, the crowd started to hurl ground fruit and County Cavan Confetti [stones]. Some of the missiles went through the windows of the hotel, and the manager objected. After some argument the crowd dispersed, and McQuestion accuses the mayor and town manager and chief of police of shouting “Bring him out till we lynch him” and “Murder him, boys.” The morning tram carried McQuestion out of Woodstock just as a citizen heaved a street peach. The thing about street peaches is they are all stone.

When Cameron resigned he announced McQuestion was no longer an inspector, and McQuestion is reported to have sent to Scotland his wife and children in preparation for the return of himself. He made it known his wife had inherited a legacy. But it was he who had the legacy, and the legacy was from leggers. It is reported McQuestion sent to his wife $5,000 in one year which is quite fair for a man receiving $1,500 salary It is also stated he has had about $5,000 in banks in St. John, the money deposited since he became a booze hound.

Bootleggers openly state that they bribed McQuestion, or rather that he held them up for bribes which the bootlegger could not avoid lest they be arrested. Consequently few of them failed to come forth with the amounts asked.

Jacobs came from England a few years ago and settled in Moncton, where he was a booze hound. He was transferred to St. John for about a year and was then transferred to St. Stephen in the waning days of the Cameron administration. It is said that Jacobs frustrated an attempt by Inspectors McQuestion and David Adams to double cross him in the collection of graft from bootleggers.

One day Jacobs discovered a dive on Long Wharf directed by two Bulgarians, on which he had not been collecting. He seized a bottle of the so-called whiskey that stood on the shelf of the soft beer store and told the Bulgarian partner to appear in the police court in the morning. After the raid the partner went out and informed his associates of the unexpected episode. Steve Patterson, who is now serving three years in the penitentiary for theft, then tried to rustle up McQuestion and Adams but found they were both in McAdam and were expected back soon after noon. He waited for them at the station and on their arrival explained the situation as related to him by his partner. According to Patterson, McQuestion told him “That’s all right. I’ll fix that all right.” That afternoon, evidently, McQuestion and Adams slipped Jacobs the graft and in turn Jacobs substituted a harmless liquid in the bottle for the prohibition whiskey. The result was there was no evidence against the accused and the case was dropped.

At the beer shop on Main Street opposite Long Wharf, a man is said to have asked one of the owners: “How do you get away with it,” and the reply was “We don’t pay Jacobs $300 a month for nothing.”

Jacobs, like McQuestion, was especially efficacious in hoisting drunks who had bottles on their persons. Like McQuestion, he sought the unfortunates who drank the stuff the bootleggers made and sold. Meanwhile the leggers escaped except for the odd case when one of them was in arrears in slipping graft, or when one had fallen out of favor with the more senior leggers.

After Jacobs went to St. Stephen, there were dozens of cars crossed daily from St. Stephen and Milltown to Calais and Milltown in Maine. Bootleggers went from St. John to St. Stephen in cars and via the railroad openly carrying booze. It was not long after Jacobs was removed that the first seizure was made at St. Stephen of booze from St. John, and bootleggers James Michaelson and Thomas Roberts were arrested. The fines were easily paid and the business resumed.

After being removed, Jacobs started talking of what would happen if he were not looked after, and he was consequently appointed to the customs service. This was at the instance of ex-Inspector Cameron and with the intervention of Francis White, after White had promised the job to James Porter. Porter was a veteran with a shattered spine and a wife to support, and received the munificent sum of $15. monthly veterans’ pension.

At all events, Jacobs with the pull of Cameron landed the job the Canadian should have had. Porter was incapacitated, a St. John man and honest, and yet he was double crossed in favor of a booze hound who was fired from the staff of inspectors. This is fine treatment to mete out to a man who had his spine almost torn asunder in the service of his country. This was a rank injustice to all of the veterans in St. John and staggered most of the residents of the city.

Tom Malcolm had a feud with Francis Grant, because Grant had been buying what booze he did not produce himself from an unapproved source. Malcolm then bought off former Inspector Cecil Curtis who, in turn, asked his employee Jack Burtt to get three convictions against Grant in order to get him a two year jail sentence. Burtt failed in this task.

Now, Burtt had been sleuthing about for evidence about bootleggers and had produced a number of reports, amounting to about fifty handwritten sheets, for Curtis. The proof that Curtis had been bought off by Malcolm is shown by the disappearance of these reports from Curtis and their reappearance in the possession of Malcolm. The reports dealt primarily with the Malcolm’s activities including his manufacture of poisonous stuff on the Golden Grove Road. They also described his activities on Ashburn Lake Road, where a still named the little red house was also the shipping place for much of what was produced at a cost of about fifteen cents a bottle and sold at five or six dollars a bottle.

Suddenly, the reports were in the possession of Malcolm, a fact of which only a few of the leading bootleggers were aware. The story was soon published in the St. John Globe, causing an uproar in the prohibition office and a sensation among Globe readers. No sooner was there a call for an investigation when the reports mysteriously returned to Curtis, except for a select few.

When asked for an explanation as to how the reports came into the possession of Malcolm, one bootlegger winked and said, “Them reports was found on the street. They dropped outa Curtis’ pocket as he was gettin’ on a street car.” Another bootlegger said “The reports were found in Mary O’Reilly’s.” Another bootlegger said that the reports were found in John Glynn’s stable on Dorchester Street. Mary O’Reilly’s dive is a house of prostitution on Golden Grove Road.

Robert Walker of St. John was visited by Chief Inspector Curtis and was asked if he was the man who had advertised to sell or trade a farm. Walker replied in the affirmative and Curtis stated that he wanted to dispose of a house and lot in East St. John and would consider trading them for the farm owned by Walker. Walker says that Curtis wanted to close the deal at once but Walker demurred and asked time to think it over. Walker says he investigated and found the house and lot Curtis claimed to own mortgaged to within a few hundred dollars of its value.

Since he came to St. John from England about ten years ago Curtis has been a city policeman, a C.P.R. policeman in St. John, Montreal and McAdam and then an Inspector. Why did he quit the C.P.R. to take a temporary job as an Inspector at a salary of not much more than what he was getting?

On the Manawagonish road one night in a decrepit Chevrolet that was as battered as an octogenarian after a brawl, Curtis was told to block the road as a big car resembling Tom Malcolm’s came speeding from the city. Curtis ignored this and the car sped by loaded with booze en route to a storage place on Manawagonish Road. Another car was spotted and Curtis, who persisted in handling the wheel, refused again to block the road. Consequently, the second car, which was also one of Malcolm’s sped by unmolested. The Chevrolet could not make more than fifteen miles per hour comparted to forty for the other two cars, and there was no way of overtaking them. Curtis remained at the wheel and stopped near Five Fathom Hole, where a barn was searched and of course nothing found.

David Adams, Michael McQuestion and John Murray were in a house in St. John one night. All were been drunk, when Murray became peeved with Adams over the affection of a woman and resolved to get Adams. Murray then asked Adams to get him a bottle of whiskey. This Adams did and after partaking of the contents with Adams and McQuestion, Murray secreted the bottle on his person and the following day preferred a charge against Adams.

The result was the Adams’ dismissal, whereupon he campaigned for six months to have an investigation into what had actually happened. There was no investigation, however, because Cameron protected Murray. There is no doubt that Adams and McQuestion and Jacobs were hand in glove, but Adams was not as much in the good graces of Cameron as the other two worthies and consequently was out of luck.

For Murray and Jacobs the objective was always to arrest the drinkers and leave the sellers alone.

Oh, prohibition, what sins are committed in thy name. Men of the type of McQuestion. Adams, Jacobs and Murray as prohibition Inspectors! McQuestion and Jacobs were not the only inspectors seeking the money. But I will state right here McQuestion was the big scream in the money making business. He has enough now to rest on for the balance of his life.

Written by johnwood1946

May 24, 2017 at 7:54 AM

Posted in Uncategorized