Paul D. Fennell spent 15 years exploring
the travels and careers
of the descendants of John Fennell to compile his book
As Cliff and I trudged home from school on this cool December afternoon we wondered what Mum would be having for supper. Cliff was hoping for a roast beef dinner with lots of mashed potatoes and gravy. I preferred baked potatoes with crisp skins and lots of spare ribs.
When we walked through the back door, the aroma of stew met us. Now that I think about it, we ate potatoes from the big bin in the cellar for at least two meals a day. Mum had many ways of preparing them - boiled, mashed, baked, warmed up, in stews and soups, as potato scallop or mixed with left over roast as hash. Potatoes certainly played a major role in our daily diet.
Over in Ireland, a potato famine
in 1822 caused Big John Fennell to give some thought to leaving his thatched
roof cottage. As a tenant dairy farmer in the village of Manister, in the
Rathmore Townlands, near the Fedamore-Bruff borders, he and his wife, Honora
longed for their own land and promised themselves one day they would take
the family to the "New World".
He got along well with the Maunsells who owned the land and they allowed him to use the leased land for tillage, as well as, the pasturage for 20 odd milk cows and a few garrons (old horses). John anticipated another tailspin in the economy along with the additional heavy taxes they had to pay, as well as the forecast of more "mini-famines", as they had in the past.
The years slipped by, as Big John approached the age of sixty, he realized that he could not afford to wait any longer. He must make the transition while he and Nora were still healthy. Repeatedly, he thought about leaving their four room thatched cottage overlooking the bright green blanket of a fertile, yet sometimes soggy meadow; land that he and his family had worked and nurtured for so many years. "How could he bring himself to leave it and his brothers and sisters?" he thought to himself. The potato harvest, a main source of food, would be not as abundant as expected in the past. "Was that an indication of the future?" he reflected.
Plans were made to take the ship,
the Cordelia out of Limerick Harbour onto the Shannon
River and sail to the Maritimes of British North America (Canada) along with another 100 plus passengers. After a 36-day journey, they arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick, on Monday, May 25, 1840. The children who accompanied him were Tom, Darby (Jeremiah), Dan, Patrick, Bridget, Catherine, Maryann and Ellen, ranging in age from 9 to 35 years. His son John was 32 and chose to stay in Ireland.
They would ultimately travel up country, some fifty miles from the port of Saint John, to settle into their new surroundings at White's Mountain just beyond the Sussex Parish settlement, in the Kennebecasis River Valley. Their friends and neighbors who had traveled with them - the Ryans, Shanessys, Gallaghers, Elders, Hanleys and Boyds - would join them in that same area. The McCrossons were already there, having arrived in 1837 from County Tyrone and would guide them by familiarizing them with the "New Land".
Those initial years were very difficult and challenging to the spirit, especially during the heavy snows of winter.
They would see, Father O'Donnell, the mission priest, on a monthly basis when he would stay over at John and Nora's house. Many of the newborn and some adults in the community would come to their home to be baptized.
The Fennells, as tenant farmers, knew that their labor would be rewarded with productive land and healthy cattle over the long run. This was a much more promising future and much more attractive than remaining in County Limerick. John knew he had made a sound and prudent decision for Nora and the children. He only wished brothers, Tom and Dermot, had the same foresight he had as the great famine would soon take the lives of his loved ones.
It was not until the 1850s that Big John's sons, Thomas, Jeremiah, Daniel, and Patrick acquired acreage at White's Mountain. Collectively, they owned close to a 1000 acres during the 1850s and early 1860s. This was only after each took advantage of opportunities, by working as laborers on building Canadian roads and with the railroad - trolley system in the United States. They went as far south to Portland and Boston, where the harder they worked the more money they could earn and save to acquire pasture land on White's Mountain.
As the years rolled on, there were good times, as well as bad times. More marriages, more offspring, where some remained in the area and others moved on to the United States or to other parts of Canada. By 1890, the original Fennell family that had crossed over on the Cordelia, had passed on.
P. D. Fennell has spent 15 years
exploring the travels and careers of the descendants of John Fennell to
compile the book, "The Fennells of Manister, Co. Limerick, Eire". In his
300 page publication, he has chronicled a description and history of the
village of Manister; the family's herculean task of converting a rocky, pine
laden mountain in New Brunswick into a smooth running farm; many individual
stories of Fennells and their spouses and has included over 200 photos.
Big John Fennell had the fortitude and vision, at almost 60 years of age, to make the decision to leave Ireland with his wife and eight children, well before the Great Famine.
* * * * * *
Query 98 -776
Pangburn -Everett - Rand:
I have been trying to locate some information regarding the following
story ( abridged by me) that appeared in the Carleton (New Brunswick) Sentinel
Newspaper of July 24,1875. I just stumbled across it in the search for my
great-great-grand parents: Matilda Pangburn and Joel Everett who were both
I believe from Kings County, but later lived in Bloomfield and then in Maine.
Although I am more interested in learning about my ancestors, this
story has now captured my imagination. "A man named William Pangburn
- aged 62, killed his wife, aged 61 years, at Medway Maine on Sunday last.
The instrument used was an axe. The wife was living with her sister Mrs.
Mary Jane Jones and he had only returned from the Provinces on Friday, where
he had been since last March. Pangburn states he was born in Saint.
John and was a ' Blue Nose". For many years he lived in Monquart, Kent Parish,
Carleton County, where he had 2 farms." This was his second wife. (The
story info I have is a little unclear but I think her name was Eliza or Ann
Rand) In the1871 census his wife's name is given as Ann born 1817. Names
of some of the children from the marriage to his second wife are: Mrs. Joel
Everett lives at Bloomfield, Mrs. Carr lives at Eel River, Mrs. Charles Rounds
lives in Lincoln, Edward Pangburn in the Province, while George and Andrew,
the two youngest sons, live at Medway. "William Pangburn came from New Brunswick
about 2 years ago and made his home in Medway. Last summer he lived in the
house of a Mr. Coombs and in the fall he moved to Winn." My interest lies
in the possibility that the man in question my have been my great-great-grandfather.
Which would have made the victim my great-great-grandmother. Does anyone
have any old information from town records, news articles that relates to
what happened there or anything related to it that may help me determine
what if any relationship my family may have regarding this tragedy.
- John DeCoste, 5 Clara Vista Drive, Hollidaysburg, PA., 16648, USA. E-mail to Jtdeco@aol.com.
Ruby is a genealogy buff, living in New Brunswick. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at email@example.com. When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your E-mail address. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.