St. Luke's Church at Gondola Point
The same thing happened every Sunday. Once the church service was finished at Salina Kirk, the congregation gathered outside to catch up on the weekly happenings and gossip. Since we were not allowed to play any games on the Sabbath, we had to stand and wait quietly. My stomach was growling from hunger pains. It seemed to me that the socializing had gone on much too long.
I whispered to Cliff, "Last one to the car is a rotten egg, "and off I took running down the hill. Suddenly I was lying on the graveled path with my good dress torn and covered with sand. The blood was oozing from the scraps on my knees and tiny pebbles were embedded in the palms of my hands.
Mum came hurrying to me to see if I was hurt. As she helped me to my feet and put her arm around me, I blurted through my sobs, "Why did they build the church on top of such a steep hill?"
I wonder how many kids skinned their knees while running down the path from St. Luke's Church at Gondola Point.
The property for the church was deeded on July 6, 1831 by Charles and Mary Saunders. The land was part of the Saunders farm and the fact that the incline was so steep meant that it was not good for much more than pasture land. However, it was an ideal piece of land for a church. Located on a prominent rise of ground, it could easily be seen from the river which was still the main mode of transportation.
The architect selected for the project was Edwin Fairweather who chose the traditional Georgian style of his New England predecessors so prevalent in the American colonies. The architectural style of St. Luke's sets it apart from other Anglican churches in the Diocese in that most older churches are of the Queen Anne and Gothic revival styles. The latter was much favoured by the first Bishop of Fredericton, the Right Rev. John Medley, who went so far as to convince congregations to convert their beautiful Georgian churches into wooden Neo-Gothic miniatures of ancient English cathedrals.
The thought of finally having a church of their own no doubt caused a stir in the community and caused the congregation to pull together and work as a team during its construction. The man chosen to head up the building of the church was Justus Wetmore, or Boss Wetmore as he was known locally. Wetmore was an entrepreneur of sorts in the area and was responsible for a great deal of employment in the region, hence the nick name Boss. One enterprise that he was most famous for was ship building. He designed and built a slipway that could launch ships sideways, in order to keep them from striking their keels when launching stern first in shallow water. The influence of the shipwright's building style on St. Luke's church is readily apparent when one gazes in the attic space between the roof and the arched ceiling. The roof and truss layout is strikingly similar to an inverted ship's hull, complete with wooden pegs, complex joinery and nailing dogs, huge iron bars sharpened on both ends and bent in different directions to hold the massive hand hewn beams in place and to strengthen joints. One cannot help but think that if St. Luke's was ever to slide down the hill and tumble into the river it would stay afloat just as readily as any ship Boss Wetmore turned out.
Construction began in 1831 with a ground leveling and the building of the rubble stone foundation but not before the congregation had raised more than one hundred and sixty pounds by subscription. In the days before the free will offering the church was solely dependent on pew rentals to cover the annual operating expenses.
The Bishop Rt. Rev. John Inglis wrote in his journal, "Tuesday, August 4,1835; a cold day. We proceeded to Gondola Point, four miles from Kingston, and after crossing the Kennebecasis river by ferry, which is sometimes inconvenient, we came to a new chapel built in excellent taste and beautifully finished, to the great credit and joy of the parishioners, some of whom dedicated themselves in the most zealous manner to the accomplishment of this good work. It now ranks among the most perfect and beautiful buildings in the Diocese. . . A very respectable congregation was assembled. The chapel (St. Luke's) and the Burial Ground around it were consecrated. I preached on the consecration of both and confirmed twenty five persons."
Peter Little has transcribed the names that appear on tombstones in St. Luke's cemetery that has seen continued use by parishioners since before the actual founding of the church proper, as well as some names from the cemetery plan that are not associated with a marked grave. Peter states, "This list is by no means a complete one, as undoubtedly some of the earliest markers were probably made of wood, while other graves remain unmarked and do not even appear on the cemetery plan. This cemetery list, although included as an aid for the genealogist, and for the interest of the casual reader also sheds a little light on the social history of the community. It is difficult to read the inscriptions on the stones and not feel for people like John Dobbin whose two children, Samual and Sarah Jane died within two weeks of one another in 1860; and likewise for George and Jane Saunders whose two infant daughters died in 1857. In more modern times we feel a sense of loss for Harmon and Mabel Saunders who lost a son, Edward, and a daughter, Ruth, in the second World War. The markers also tell us that these were simple folk not given to lavish epitaphs and inscribed eulogies. It is easy to see when looking at the list that the Saunders, Smiths and Dobbins were among the areas earliest settlers, followed closely by the Henderson, Harrison and Marr families."
The history of St. Luke's Church at Gondola Pont and the cemetery inscriptions can be found on the internet at http://user.fundy.net/msgr/WEBHistoryofStLuke'schurch.html.
Mushkat - Warshavsky - Warson: I am interested in any information on my grandmother, Theresa Warson (nee Mushkat) who was born in Warsaw, Poland in about 1874. She married Jacob Warson (aka Wasson / Warshavsky) in the late 1890s and emigrated in around 1900, to Glace Bay, Nova Scotia (possibly through Halifax), moved to New York City and then to Saint John, New Brunswick. She died there on November 11, 1913 and was interred in the Fernhill Cemetery. She was a member of the Saint John Jewish community. Her brother, Willie Mushkat settled in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
-Manuel D. Warson M.D., 11428 Dona Pegita Dr., Studio City, California, 91604, USA.
Ruby is a genealogy buff. 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 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.