All but forgotten
Marion Gilchrist Reicker researched and wrote about abandoned
and settlements in her book A Time There Was
By Ruby M. Cusack
|James Alexander McKinney was born in 1799 in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland and died in1874 at Headline, Queens County, New Brunswick.|
Aunt Sadie phoned on Saturday morning and asked if Cliff and I would like to go to Sussex with them to pick up new parts for the Cream Separator.
Mum insisted we put on clean clothes, although I saw nothing wrong with the ones that we were wearing. She even made us wash our faces for the second time that morning.
We were waiting as Gramp pulled into the yard with Gram in the front seat and Aunt Sadie in the back. We hopped into the car and off we went. As usual the preferred route was up through Salt Springs and Clover Hill as this was home turf to them.
The conversation seemed to revolve around buildings that were long gone and fields that once had been meadows and were now grown up with bushes and trees. I really thought the truth was being stretched when Gram pointed to one wooded hillside and said, “Dave, Do you remember when my father cut hay there?”
Next Gramp pointed to a bunch of apple trees and remarked, “All that is left of the house that stood there is the rock cellar.”
Aunt Sadie joined in with, “I remember when Art and I walked along here on our way to Gramma’s house and there were fields of oats bordered with a snake cedar fence and now it is a wooded area.”
Marion Gilchrist Reicker didn’t just talk about abandoned farms and settlements, she researched and wrote about the area of Petersville and other abandoned settlements in Queens County from 1815 to 1953 in her book, ‘A Time There Was’.
She states, “There are many old roads in Queens County, and the curious wayfarer who decides to explore one of them or even venture into the woodland, may be rewarded by many memorabilia of a bygone era - perhaps an apple tree or lilac bush laden with blooms, in an otherwise forested area. Or, if he goes further from the old road, he may stumble on a pile of stones, what is left of an old fence, or a building foundation, or even an old well.”
Over the years changes were made as to how lands were granted and paid for by the hopeful owners to be. In 1849, legislation was passed enabling settlers to pay for their lands by labour on the public roads in lieu of cash.
Many immigrants went immediately to blocks of land which had been laid out for them in the wilderness area of Queens County. They formed communities of marked nationality, many of the residents having come from the same community back home or even from the same clan or family.
One of the first areas to be settled in what is now CFB Gagetown, was New Jerusalem in the western section of the Parish of Hampstead. It included Inchby, New Jerusalem and Polleyhurst. The Elisha Crabbe, Timothy Morrell and Henry Sharp families were already living there when the first immigrants arrived and it is assumed they were of Loyalist descent. Around 1818 - 1820, Alexander Machum with his wife Martha Carson of Ireland, the Shorts from England and John Inch of County Fermanagh took up land in the area.
It is interesting to note that some of the settlers came from Saint John by rowboat up the St. John River and travelled to their grants by a crooked trail from Hampstead. Other routes were also taken and many came on foot carrying their belongings.
The first school was opened in New Jerusalem in 1826 with the teacher being Thomas Holahan. The next year a school was opened in the Coot Hill Settlement and the students were taught by John Inch.
Interviews with residents with knowledge of Jerusalem, Ennniskillen, Summer Hill, Clones, Hamilton Mountain and Hibernia have been included by the author.
When the government surveyors from Ottawa surveyed their region in the summer of 1951, the residents of Jerusalem, Petersville and surrounding areas suspected that something was in the wind that they wouldn’t like. The first blow fell on July 15, 1952, with the federal government announcement that a huge army base, capable of handling the manoeuvres of a full army division, was to be built in New Brunswick and on August 15, 1952, the residents knew it would be their land that would be used. Not only did these people have to leave their homes, but also they had to leave their farms, their communities, their churches, schools, friends, societies and the cemeteries.
An Appendix of ninety pages lists the Camp Gagetown properties expropriated by the Defence Department in 1954-55. In 1998 the Base Gagetown Community History Association was formally organized to plan for the 50th anniversary of the expropriation of the Base area in 2003 and collect the history of the communities and the genealogy of the families that resided there prior to 1953. A 2003 reunion on the August 04 weekend will be held. For information write to BGCHA, PO Box 3351, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada E3A 5H1 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interesting information has been provided on Bald Hill, Jones Settlement, Shannon, Lewis or Big Cove, California, Millbrook, Waterloo, Gofftown, Annidale, Chipman Parish, Canaan and their residents.
Ghost stories are an integral part of the folklore of early Queens County and several have been included.
“A Time There Was - Petersville and Other Abandoned Settlements in Queens County, New Brunswick, 1815-1953" by Marion Gilchrist Reicker was published in 1984 by the Queens County Historical Society. It outlines the history and folklore of a number of Queens County communities that were once viable but for one reason or another no longer exist. It was a time when each man worked his own piece of land but was dependent on the goodwill and co-operation of his neighbours for survival”.
For the family researcher who dreams of the time of finding a book filled with names, this publication is a dream come true.
‘A Time There Was’ can be viewed in several research institutions in New Brunswick.
At David McKinney’s site http://personal.nbnet.nb.ca/davmc/welcome.htm, you’ll meet James Alexander McKinney who was the Commissioner of Highways in1850 and the Overseers of Poor 1855. He was born in 1799 in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland and died 1874 at Headline. Family history stated he landed in Saint John in 1825 with a pound note in pocket. He got a job as dray driver and hauled the first shipment of gold for the bank in Saint John. They had 4 daughters and 5 sons who all lived to adults and married resulting in 60 descendants in the second generation.
Joseph Medill was born at Dunns Corner, Queens County NB in 1823. He moved to Ohio with his parents when he was 9 years old. He is the ancestor of one of the most famous and wealthiest families in the USA. He became Mayor of Chicago in 1871 and owner of the Chicago Tribune. The Medill School of Journalism at North Western University in Chicago is named after him. His father William Medill had an original land grant at (Headline) Dunns Corner. His mother was the sister of Sam Corbett who also had an original land grant when the area was first settled and is the ancestor of many of the Corbetts in Southern New Brunswick.
William James Wilson was born on May 9, 1851, the son of William and Cynthia (Smith) Wilson. Early in life, he showed a distinct liking for botanical research and in 1891 moved to Ottawa and commenced as a geologist in the Geological Survey Branch. Later he devoted himself exclusively to work in paleo botany. William was reputed to be the leading paleo botanist in the country and his findings gave him a niche in the Canadian History of Botany.
David McKinney has included Summer Hill Families contributed by Audrey Armstrong, the Dale Family History by Muriel Dale, Kerr Family History by Milton and Sarah Kerr and the Sutton Family History by Bruce Sutton. There is a map of Summer Hill and Dunns Corner as of 1953. Dunns Corner School Records for the years 1880,1888, 1904, and 1942 were obtained from the Provincial Archives at Fredericton.
Austin Graham was a prominent Saint John businessman who owned the Barrel House Grill on Haymarket Square and later Graham's Restaurant on Main Street. His “Memories Of Coote Hill” is an excellent commentary of community life and history during the first half of this century.
There are also on this site records for Anglican, United and Sutton Cemeteries, Kerr Family Cemetery, Headline Anglican, Kirk Presbyterian taken from the Queens County Cemetery Records at the Provincial Archives. Since many of the families were inter-related, cemetery records for the neighboring communities of Hibernia, Clones, Coote Hill United and the Woods Family Cemetery have been included.
David McKinney’s site at http://personal.nbnet.nb.ca/davmc/welcome.htm is a journey up the river and through the woods for a visit to the folk and their descendants who once lived in the CFB Camp Gagetown area.
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.