Coal Company Town
Of Mines and Mens by Marjories Taylor Morell
in Minto and also gives information about town life as well
|Eric Armstrong, a mining engineer, came from Wales to
Minto, New Brunswick in 1911.
Photo courtesy of Jill Wiseman
"Rain, rain, go away and come again another day", seemed to be the song we had been singing for several days. Gram must have realized that having kids penned in the house on a Saturday was no picnic for Mum, therefore she sent Gramp down to bring us to their house for the afternoon on the pretense she needed us to do a job for her.
The make-work project entailed ranking the fallen tier of softwood, piling the cedar kindling and straightening up the woodshed. I thought I would really impress Gramp by gathering the wood chips and sweeping the mud floor.
When Aunt Sadie stuck her head in the doorway to check on our progress, I asked , " Where should I dump this pail of chips?"
She replied, "That is not a pail it is a coal scuttle!"
I looked over in the corner at the bin of coal and a puzzling thought ran through my head. I knew firewood was cut-up trees but what was coal. The lumps felt like rocks but rocks wouldn't burn.
Well, if I had lived in Minto I would have known the answer.
Coal mining has played an important role in the Grand Lake area for many years. From 1805, records of coal and land development are fairly complete. From these records, a picture emerges of embattled farmers, political chicanery opportunism and general discontent among the people.
In 1823 one of the Acts of the session of the Legislature was the incorporation of the New Brunswick Mining Company with many leading citizen involved. The objective was to work the coal mines of Queens County. The residents petitioned against the act on the grounds that it would interfere with their private rights.
In 1834, the first of the Mining Leases were granted to Sypher, Robinson, Yeomans, Mrs. Beauchant, Fleming, McHugh, Dillon and the N. B. Coal Company. For the next number of years, licenses were granted, in many cases with no regard to the fact that farmers had been living on the land for a great many years.
The problem of moving coal to market was a serious one as roads were in very poor condition or nonexistent, thus woodboats were used to get the coal to Saint John. Some coal was hauled by horse and wagon through the Richibucto Road to Fredericton. It is said it was a common sight to see twenty or thirty teams hauling in a caravan along the road
The coming of the railroad in 1904 sparked the influx of new people to the young community of Minto. The opportunity for jobs brought workers from not only New Brunswick and the other provinces of Canada but from across the Atlantic Ocean. Eight Harben brothers and their father came from Wales. Alan Dick King was born in Scotland in 1889, and married Elizabeth Davie of Alloa, Scotland in Montreal in 1912. Dominic DeCarlo came from Italy. Joseph Paul Elias was born in Lebanon in 1884 and after coming to New Brunswick changed his surname to Paul. By 1916, the Minto Coal Company in its annual report listed among its employees 60 Italians, 43 Belgians, 25 French-speaking Canadians, 26 Germans and Austrians, 6 Russians and 40 English-speaking Canadians. Other mines employed men of these and various other ethnic groups, including Swiss, Spanish, Polish, Finns, Welsh, Scotch, Irish, English, Hungarian, Romanian, Czecho-Slovakian, French and one immigrant from Afghanistan.
1932 saw tragedy strike with the death of five members of the community in an old mine shaft and two fatalities in a mining accident.
"Of Mines and Men" by Marjorie Taylor Morell depicts not only the world of coal mining in Minto but gives information on churches, schools, doctors, businesses and families up to the 1960s along with many pictures.
copy of "Of Mines and Men" by Marjorie Taylor Morel can be
McCann - Burridge - Byers - Ellis: Leo Thomas McCann was born in Saint John in 1921 and was married to Edna Grace Burridge from Plaster Rock, New Brunswick. His parents were John Joseph McCann, born in 1875, either in Saint John or Johnville and Margaret Byers, born in Scotland. John Joseph McCann’s parents were John McCann and Martha Ellis. Any information would be appreciated.
-John A. McCann, 16 Cedar Street, St. Stephen, NB, Canada, E3L 2V9. E-mail to email@example.com.
Northrup - Keeler: I am looking for all the descendants of Benajah and Sarah (Keeler) Northrup. He was the first Northrup to migrate to New Brunswick. I am willing to share files and hopefully receive files in return.
-Richard E. Northorp, 118 Waterloo Street, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, E2L 3R1. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Riley - Richmond - Crowley - Moore: I am the direct descendant of Michael Riley and Mary Richmond who were married in the Roman Catholic Church in Saint John on November 14, 1853. They had four children all baptized in the same faith. Their third son James who was baptized on March 25, 1860, 3 days old was my Great-Grandfather. He married Ellen Crowley in Saint John on May 17, 1881. Their third son of six children, William John(Buff) Riley who eventually married Margaret Moore is my Grandfather. I am seeking information on the children and descendants of Michael Riley and Mary Richmond.
-E. Philip Riley, 988 Evergreen Ave., Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada, V9N 7H4. E-mail to email@example.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.