Mum had finally finished all the Christmas Day preparation and was sitting
down for change. Although I knew most of the words, I snuggled close to
her and begged she read "Twas the Night Before Christmas".
Before she even got started reading, Gram and Gramp arrived with presents.
Gram picked up my book and remarked, "I memorized this poem in 1890 when
I was ten years old and I can still recite it".
I was quite surprised at this poem being memorized by children way back
in the 1890s but I was even more surprised when I found in the Odell
papers at the Archives and Research Library of the New Brunswick Museum a
slip of paper of the era of 1825 in the handwriting of Mary Odell titled "A
Visit from St. Nicholas" with the first line being, "Twas the night before
Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even
a mouse". Although Mary makes no mention, the poem is attributed to Clement
Clarke Moore, her father's godson.
Mary's parents were the Reverend Jonathan Odell and Anne DeCou who were
married on May 17, 1772 in Burlington, New Jersey. Mary along with her brother
William and sisters Lucy Anne and Sarah Anne came with their parents with
the Loyalists in 1783.
The Reverend Jonathan Odell was the first Provincial Secretary of New Brunswick
and was succeeded by his son William, who had married Elizabeth Newell.
William died in Fredericton on Christmas Day of 1844. Lucy Anne Odell married
Charles Rudyard and Sarah Anne Odell married Charles Lee.
It appears that Mary did not marry and would probably have been in her
fifties in the late 1820s when she copied the "Night Before Christmas" poem
- maybe she read it on Christmas Eve to a niece or nephew.
Also in the Odell files at the Archives and Research Library of the New
Brunswick Museum are two letters, written in 1808 and 1810 to Mary's father,
the Reverend Jonathan Odell from his godson, Clement Clarke Moore. The Legislative
Library, Fredericton has a file on the Odell family.
At the Saint John Free Public Library, you will find the book, "Odell Genealogy,
United States and Canada (1635-1935)".
Four hundred acres from Rookwood, the estate of the Reverend Jonathan Odell,
provide the people of Fredericton with space to play, thus providing an
everlasting memorial to the Odell family.
By the way, opening the files in a research institution is much like reaching
into a sock on Christmas morning, you never can be certain as to the goodies
that could be found.
Hunt: I am seeking information on the father of Hibbard(t)
Hunt, early settler of Campobello Island (preceded Owen). Relocated
to Lubec. Father may have been John Hunt, who may have been associated with
Simonds, Hazen and White.
-Steve Gabany, 585 Woodbine, Terre Haute, IN, 47803, U.S.
E-mail to email@example.com.
White - Wilson: I am searching for the family of a John
White who died in Kennebecais on March 14, 1862. I believe he died in a shipyard
accident. He had possibly three children, maybe one named John. Also looking
for any information on a John Wilson from Saint John who had a daughter Caroline
born there in 1845 and she married a John White of Prince Edward Island.
-Sandra Hume, PO Box 1109, Montague, Prince Edward
Island, Canada, C0A 1R0. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To Find Some New Year Bargains
GREAT DEALS when ordering five or
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Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John. Send your queries
to her at email@example.com.
Include your name and mailing address for the benefit of the readers of
the newspaper who do not have access to E-mail. Please put Family Surname
followed by the word 'Query' in the subject line. That is "Smith
& Jones" - Query.