Graeme Somerville has uncovered details formerly unknown
in the Methodist Burial Ground on Thorne Avenue, in Saint John
|Graeme Somerville has spent 28 years gathering information on the Methodist Burial Ground for his book A Library of Stone Pages|
During the summer, Cliff and I enjoyed driving the cattle up the lane to the pasture after the morning milking time. When the last cow went through the gate, we put up the pole bars and headed back home through the cemetery.
One grave marker there was a mystery to us. It was made of cast iron and was very ornate with a small rectangular plate of glass. Over the years the condition of the paper behind the glass had deteriorated so that the writing could no longer be read.
The old Methodist Burial Ground on Thorne Avenue in Saint John, has a mystery, too in a small tombstone with the wording, "Robbie Aged 1 year".
Who this Robbie was had puzzled Graeme Somerville ever since he started compiling information on the cemetery in 1973. The mystery of ‘Robbie' has recently been solved. He was Robert McGregor, born in Boston, son of John A. McGregor who was born in Montreal. Robbie died in 1902 of meningitis.
About five years ago Graeme decided to write a book on the Methodist graveyard. He culled his information from 24 city churches, 3 funeral parlours, dozens of books and manuscripts as well as the records of the Burial Ground. The result is a 350 page publication, A Library of Stone Pages, that contains details on over 3,300 burials. Sometimes there is just one line on a person, but most entries run to four lines and more. Usually other family names are mentioned, and in the case of children it often includes the names of parents. Adults frequently have the names of their spouses included as well as place of birth and residence, occupation and often the cause of death is given.
There are over 1,000 different surnames of deceased persons plus another 600 surnames of persons related to, or connected with, persons who are interred in the Burial Ground. Each entry includes references, and the book is well indexed. An extra treat is the sketches that Catherine Somerville has drawn of about thirty monuments.
Thanks to Graeme's research, folk with Methodist and other Saint John ancestors will now have access to information that has been hidden for many years in obscure records.
The book is almost a social history of Saint John and the surrounding areas of Kings and Queens Counties. It is fascinating reading as the following stories from the book will illustrate.
Mary Craig (nee Harding) married William Craig in Saint John in 1839. William and Mary lost six children between 1845 and 1855 none of them even three years of age. One can't help but wonder whether any of them would have died with the medical care which is so readily available today. William Craig was described as the keeper of the Alms House when his first three children died in 1845,1846 and 1849 but when his fourth and subsequent children died 1850 to 1855 he was described in the newspapers as Dr. Craig. William Craig deserted his family in 1852 moving to Australia where he died, as Dr. Craig.
Left on her own to raise three other children Mary Craig was appointed the Matron of Saint John General Public Hospital in May of 1865 at a salary of $120 per year but, alas, she died on the job the following December.
Infant mortality of a hundred years ago, of which we hear so much, is illustrated with the terribly sad story of Wesley Almon, of Sussex and Saint John, and his wife Bessie Leggett who, in a span of 19 years lost eleven children, only one of which reached the age of two years.
James Portmore who not only is well known as the contractor for erection of a 'pest house' (isolation house) on Partridge Island, but he died as the victim of the nefarious Dr. Tumbletee who was treating James with poison.
William R. Marter drowned in Courtenay Bay on April 26, 1844. He was the youngest son of Thomas P. Marter and Elizabeth Ann Trafton. William was a student of medicine under the instruction of Doctors R. and W. Bayard.
Mary Provan died August 27, 1847 at age 58. She was the widow of Walter Provan and was survived by a large family which included Capt. James, Thomas and John. The funeral was from the residence of James Provan, Peters St.
The book A Library of Stone Pages certainly has added a new interest to that fine old cemetery on the north side of Thorne Avenue in Saint John
This publication is available from Graeme F. Somerville, 84
Beach Crescent, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, E2K 2E4.
|A Library of Stone Pages has a full colour soft cover. Perfect
bound. 6" x 9". Price per copy is $40.00 plus postage and packaging
Atlantic Canada $5.75 per copy
Cheques or money orders, in Canadian funds must accompany each order and sent to:
Graeme F. Somerville
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Peters - Benner: I would like to find some information about the family of Thomas William Peters who was born in Saint John in 1830. He may have had a brother Mark born in 1835. According to the 1860 Washington Coounty, Maine, United States Census, his parents were also born in New Brunswick, although it does not state where. He married Sarah Ann Benner of Dennysville, Washington Co., Maine. Any help would be appreciated.
-Dee Lutz, PO Box 3865, Show Low, Arizona 85902, USA. E-mail to email@example.com.
McNamee - McManus - McGuire - Maguire: I am looking for information on the parents of Owen McGuire who was born in New Brunswick on February 22, 1833 the son of Owen McGuire and Honora (Hannah) McManus who were reportly born in Ireland. He married
Catherine Ann McNamee in Saint John in 1859. His siblings were, Hugh and Francis.
-Debra Maguire, 44219 11th St. East, Lancaster, CA, 93535 USA. E-mail to Dmag385269@aol.com.
Malone - McCann - McCarthy - Flanagan - Hassen: I am searching for information on the following surnames, Malone, McCann, McCarthy, Flanagan and Hassen who lived in the Petersville area of Queens County in 1830 to 1905.
-Pat Hutcherson, 11804 Humboldt Dr., Northglenn, CO, 80233, USA. E-mail Hutch4re@aol.com.
Ruby is a genealogy buff. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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