The shipbuilders of St. Martins
Fownes, Vails, Browns, Melvins, DeLongs, Carsons and
many other families built vessels from 1800-1899

Ruby M. Cusack

Warren W. Vaughan, descendant of the Vaughan shipbuilders, sits in a gas hand car he built in 1911 and used until 1915 to bring mail to the village. For more than 50 years, the St. Martins train played a vital role in the life of the folks of St. Martins. Many family members worked on building this railway and maintaining it. 
 "Grampa, Let's go for a drive." "When does the tide go out?" "Can we explore the Caves?" "Will you help us look for sea shells?" "I want Bubble Gum ice cream too." When I hear these phrases being blurted out, I know they are asking to go to St. Martins.

It seems only a few short days ago that we were hearing this request from our children and now it is being repeated by grandchildren.

Old sneakers and jackets are thrown into the trunk. Excitement peaks when we reach the top of Burchill's Mountain. Next, the replica of the figurehead of a sailing vessel welcomes us to St. Martins.

There is to be no stopping at the two covered bridges, we must hurry on to the caves and the beach.

After the caves are explored, the children search for sea shells or race across the beach. I sit on an old piece of driftwood watching them, but my thoughts drift back to the days of yore.

If I listen, maybe I will hear the sound of the St. Martins train pulling into Beach Station.

If I look closely, I may see an anxious mother or wife looking out to sea for the return of a loved one. But most of all, in these days of yesteryear, I will see and hear men at work, building ships.

In "The Ships of St. Martins," Esther Clark Wright gives details and names of the 517 vessels that were built in the village from 1800-1899. The name of the builder can often tie a family to this area.

She states, "In addition to the family groups, the Fownes, Vails, Browns, Melvins, DeLongs, Carsons, there were many individuals who built a vessel or two at St. Martins."

She introduces the book with a brief history of the early settlers of St. Martins and their connection to shipbuilding.

For additional information on family links to St. Martins, a trip to the Quaco Museum might be in order. The  Museum is open during the summer months.

Also, David M. Howard has compiled several binders of copies of newspaper clippings on the families of St. Martins. View these at the Family History Centre, 177 Manchester Ave., Saint John West. Call 672-0864 for more information.

One of my favourite stories from the St. Martins area‚ really Tynemouth Creek‚ is that of the dentist known as Painless Parker. He was the son of George S. Parker and Lydia Jane Moran and was born in 1872. A glimpse of family life in the late 1870s can be found in the book, "The Early Adventures of Painless Parker" by Peter M. Pronych and Arden G. Christen.

The above mentioned publications can be found in many research institutions in New Brunswick.

  Contact Ruby for more details on ordering The St. Martins Train by Ruby M. Cusack, the Ships of St. Martins by Esther Clark Wright and "The Early Adventures of Painless Parker" by Peter M. Pronych and Arden G. Christen..

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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