Dr. Azor and Gloriana Purdy Betts
by Mary Jane Galer
Mum usually wore gingham house dresses with sleeves that came to the elbow but during the hot days of summer she would wear her sleeveless dresses.
On her right arm almost to the shoulder was a big scar. I asked Cliff's opinion as to how she could have burnt herself there. He thought maybe she had bumped into something sharp.
Every time I thought Mum wasn't looking I studied that funny looking mark.
Finally I asked her how she hurt her arm. She smiled and said, "I was vaccinated before I went to school and you will need to be also, before you start to school."
I didn't have a clue as to what she was talking about, but if I had been one of the children of Dr. Azor Betts way back around 1800, I would have understood.
Dr. Azor Betts was thirty five years old when the Revolutionary War began in 1775 and was an established Doctor in New York. He had married Gloriana Purdy, daughter of a wealthy farmer, in 1764 and by the time the fighting began they had four children - Elizabeth, Sarah, Charlotte and Hiram, to protect and care for.
He was a pioneer in trying to control smallpox through inoculation and was arrested and jailed twice in 1776 for inoculating Continental Officers for smallpox. The disease was known to kill more of the troops than bullets.
Although the Betts suffered many hardships during the eight years of war, the hardest fight for survival was still ahead of them. On May 18, 1783, they were in the Spring Fleet that sailed into the Harbour at Saint John. Their six children ranged in age from sixteen to two years old.
By 1796 the family had moved to Kingston, Kings County and Dr. Azor Betts practiced medicine there. He opened the first type of isolation hospital, when he isolated smallpox victims in outbuildings. In 1802, five years after Edward Jenner developed a vaccine for smallpox, Dr. Azor offered his services free to vaccinate all citizens in Kings County.
Life in this wilderness was difficult. Gloriana had been taken from comfortable surroundings and servants and had to cook with heavy iron utensils, using a fireplace as well as make candles, soap and the clothes for her family. Raising a family under these conditions was not easy for her.
On September 14, 1809, just one day after his sixty ninth birthday, Azor died of consumption in Digby, Nova Scotia and is buried there beside his daughter Elizabeth Wright, in the churchyard of Trinity Anglican Church.
Gloriana came to Saint John and lived with her son James until her death at the age of 69 on March 16, 1815 and is buried in the Loyalist Burial Ground.
The 116 page well documented book ‘Dr. Azor and Gloriana Purdy Betts' - Loyalists and Hearty Pioneers, written by their great-great-great grand daughter Mary Jane Galer, gives us an intimate look into their lives as Loyalists during the Revolutionary War and the hardships they endured physically and financially after their arrival to the Saint John area as well as the story of the lives of their descendants.
Mary Jane Galer became an orphan at the age of six and went to live with her mother's relatives. As the years passed, she felt a need to find information on her heritage to leave as a legacy to her descendants, thus evolved the book
The author placed herself in the shoes of Azor Betts and his family and has portrayed the conditions under which they lived before, during and after the Revolutionary War.
To order this book contact Mary Jane Galer at 7236 Lullwater Rd., Columbus, GA., USA, 31904. USA. The price is $18.00 US. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lister - Groves - Speare: I'm looking for descendants of William Edward Lister, who married Elizabeth Groves in Saint John on Oct. 21, 1817. He may have been an officer in the Royal British Navy or the Merchant Marines. We are descended from William through his son, Captain Samuel Benjamin Lister, who married Catherine Speare of Red Bank, Northumberland County. This family lived on Grand Lake in Queens County then moved in the 1880s to Caribou, Maine. Looking forward to any and all replies.
-Jeanine Grant Lister, 582 Sheridan Drive, Lexington, KY, 40503-1724. E-mail to email@example.com.
Embrose - Hamilton - Cromwell: My grandfather, George J.Embrose was born in Saint John. He migrated to Cambridge, Mass. After becoming an Episcopalian priest, he possibly returned to New Brunswick where we think he died. His children included my mother, Marion Louise Embrose Henderson (1899); Gladys Embrose; George Jr.; Edith Embrose; Esther Embrose and Hamilton Embrose. His wife was Ada Hamilton Embrose who re-married Thomas Cromwell. Her birthplace was Mount Uniache, Nova Scotia.
-Joan Henderson Beaubian, 404 Middle Street, New Bedford, MA.02740. E-mail to JBeau@worldnet.att.net.
Reynolds - Dundas: I am researching the nationality of John Reynolds who married Barbara Dundas in Saint John on Oct. 04,1850. She was an Irish immigrant landing in Saint John in1848 and he was reported to be a French Mariner from Prussia. I would be greatly interested in any information that may lead me to find his place of birth and date of arrival in Canada.
-Keith Reynolds, 5013 45 St., Cold Lake, AB, T9M 1Z2. Telephone (780) 594-4462. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bunnell: Luther Bunnell is believed to have been born in New Brunswick in the 1770s with roots in Scotland. His wife Ann was descended from Sir John Franklin and P. Spotswood. Luther was in Spotsylvania Co., Va. by the 1810 census. Two of his sons names were Benjamine W. and Andrew Jackson Bunnell. His daughters were Anne F.; Hardenia O. and Alzeria A Bunnell, all born in Virginia. I have found the Bunnell name in different areas of New Brunswick. Can anyone provide information to connect Luther with a Bunnell family in New Brunswick?
-Louise B.Nemecek. E-mail to email@example.com.
McLauchlan - Coburn: I am seeking the parents and siblings of Ann McLauchlan. On her marriage to Michael Coburn of Windsor, Nova Scotia on Jun. 15,1823, her residence was given as Portland Parish. The officiating person was Rector Robert Willis and the witness was Dougald McLauchlan. Any and all leads, no matter how small, will be appreciated.
-Liz (Coburn)Schmidt, 913 E. Almond Ave., Lompoc, CA, 93436. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allen - Thomas: My grandmother, Florence Elizabeth Allen was 12 years old when she and her brother William Edward Allen aged 10 years, came to Halifax aboard the SS Siberian in June of 1902 from the Middlemore Home in Birmingham, England. She may have lived in Moncton with a family named Thomas. The two children were separated. By the time of her marriage in1911, she was living in Elk City, Idaho. William served in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces as a part of the 236 Battalion of the Maclean Kilties. I am interested in finding out about her years spent in New Brunswick as well as contacting other descendants of Middlemore Children to assist and advise me in my struggle to gain access to the records of her life after arriving in Halifax.
-M. Papineau, 16445 106 Ave., Edmonton, Alberta, T5P OX1. E-mail to email@example.com.
Hull: I am seeking information on Samuel Hull. Did he and his family leave New Jersey, for Nova Scotia as Loyalists? Are there Hulls in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia who might be connected to him? Any help appreciated.
-Patricia (Hull) Fulton, 1307 Kinney Ave., #150, Austin, TX., 78704. E-mail to PattFulton@aol.com.
Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John. Send your queries to herat firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please put Yesteryear Families in the subject line.) Include your name and mailing address for the benefit of those who do not have access to E-mail.