The death roll of the Saint John Globe
Death is eternal...but the search for death dates is everlasting

by Ruby M. Cusack

My Grandmother's house had large double parlours, but they were seldom used. They were saved for entertaining special guests, such as the preacher. The kitchen was the room the family really lived in.

Two frequent visitors to Gram's kitchen were her sister and cousin Irene. Hands were meant to be busy, so they would knit as they talked. They failed at trying to teach me to knit. I preferred a hammer and nails but they were successful in developing within me a passion that has never died. While the needles clicked and the wood crackled in the old Fawcett kitchen stove, they relived the days of their youth. They remembered the happy times as well as the sadness that had touched their lives.

The conversation always seemed to get around to the age or the date of death of a family member. "How old were Barbey Jane and Esther Ann when they died of diptheria in August of 1877?" "When did James Amos Reid die?"

We might say they spent hours climbing the family tree, but never left the comfort of the kitchen.

These three ladies were born genealogists, although they had never heard the title genealogist.

The fact that we were not born at the time of an ancestor's death does not deter us from seeking information on this event. Hours are spent at the microfilm reader looking at newspapers or church records trying to find this date. Death is eternal but the search for death dates is everlasting.

The Saint John Globe published a death roll in the January issue from 1898 until 1927. Now, 70 to a 100 years later, it is viewed by hundreds of people hoping the name of their ancestor was included.

The death roll was a chronological list of names of some residents and former residents that had died during the previous year. The years of 1897 to 1914 often contained a short comment about the deceased.

The first entry is dated Jan. 2, 1897: "James Saunders died Chicago, carried on a shoe business here before the 1877 fire." Some other entries: "Feb. 23, 1907 - Dr. Robert Provan died Brookline, Mass.; Jan. 24, 1906 Robert Pepper, a native of Peterborough, England; March 17, 1906 Dinah Jerritt was one of the refugees who were brought here by British men of war from Chesapeake Bay, during war of 1812. Aged 102 years; May 12, 1911 Eliza J. Quinlan wife of George Quinlan and daughter of late Bernard McCormick. Died West side; June 8, 1911 Deborah R. Beatty, daughter of T. Jasper Beatty, died Smithtown. Aged 20 years; Aug. 27, 1912 Helen L. Hanson, widow of Oscar Hanson died Lepreau."

A death roll for 1915 could not be located. The years 1916 to 1926 gave only the name and sometimes the age of the deceased.

The method for choosing the names for this list or how they were submitted is unknown to me. Many local deaths are not listed. The names of some residents from the surrounding area of Saint John are included. Many of the names are former residents. Names that appear on the list did not necessarily have a death notice or an obituary published in our local papers.  I compiled in 1987, an index to the death roll of the Saint John Globe. It lists over 15,000 names. The comments from the years 1897 to 1914 concerning the deceased, were not included in this publication.

The book Index to the Death Roll of the Saint John Globe is in the reference department of the Saint John Free Public Library in Market Square and at other research institutions. Take a look at my website to view the Index for the years 1897, 1898 and 1899 -

Queries have been grouped together to cover the year 1998 and can be viewed at Queries-1998

Ruby Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to Ruby at When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.

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