Of James Smith
- Marco Polo Connections
Before Christmas Mum had spent many evenings with her fountain pen
in hand, writing notes to place inside the Christmas cards. Now that January
was here, she was spending a lot of time answering the notes she received
and giving details of the doings of family members.
If it had not been for my friend, the late Vivian Wright I would not
have known about a letter that is in the Archives and Research Library
of the New Brunswick Museum that was written in January of 1908 by James
T. Smith from Tracey Mills, Carleton County, New Brunswick to his son, James
Mitchell Smith, giving family information on his father James Smith, who
built the famous Marco Polo ship at Marsh Creek, Saint John and his ancestors’
involvement with the Napoleonic wars and where the family had its beginnings.
Later it goes into the trials and tribulations of the shipbuilding business
in Saint John.
He commenced the letter with the following words,
|“To my dear son, James M.
Almost every boy or man, at some period of his life, desires to know
something about who or what his ancestors were. And as I do not know of
any one living who can give you any more information about my ancestors
than I can, limited as it may be. I am now nearing the fourscore years
of my pilgrimage and as my time cannot be certain very much longer, felt
impressed that I should leave some record behind me that you may read when
you become old enough to feel interested, should God spare you, as you are
too young at present to understand what I might tell you.”
James Smith became a good axe man, working in the woods, felling white
pine in the woods above Grand Falls. Later he came to Saint John to work
in the shipyards. " By industry, sobriety and close attention soon
acquired the art of master ship builder.” He later had his own shipyard,
which was destroyed by fire and from which the business never recovered.
In the 1980s, the Late Vivian Wright and Joan Pearce were co-chairs
of a historical research sub-committee of the Marco Polo project with twenty-seven
volunteers under their wings. Vivian became very involved in researching
the life of James and Margaret (McMorran) Smith and identified their children
as Margaret, James Thomas, Charlotte, Matilda Jane, Elizabeth, Robert
*Margaret married Samuel Parks in 1849 and died
1857 and is buried in Fernhill Cemetery, Saint John.
*James Thomas - the fellow who wrote the letter - married
Jane Eaton in 1853. His death was reported in the 9 August 1911 issue
of the Woodstock Dispatch. The 1871 Census showed two sons, Sydney Smith
age 16 and A.A. E. Smith age 14 (Probably named for his maternal grandfather,
Aaron A. Eaton). No other information could be found on them or any surviving
siblings. James T. Smith’s second wife was Isabella Mitchell, and they
had a son, James Mitchell Smith, who was born 25 August 1906.
*Charlotte married John Albert Venning, a merchant
in 1851. They lived at 45 Orange Street, Saint John in 1871, at Queen Square
North in the 1894-95 City Directory, and they later moved to Sheffield,
Sunbury County. In 1945 a portrait of James Smith, builder of the Marco
Polo, was given to the New Brunswick Museum from the estate of his grandson,
Harry LeB. Venning through Mr. Venning’s sister, Mrs. R. W. Gilbert, RR #1,
*Matilda Jane in 1854 married James L. Dunn of the
firm McMorran & Dunn.
*Elizabeth died at age 20 in 1861. The funeral was
held from her parents’ country residence at Bay Shore.
*Robert and Samuel are listed in the 1871 Census
of Woodstock Parish, Carleton County.
The information that was found by Vivian Wright on the family
of James Smith has been placed on the website of the Saint John Branch
of the New Brunswick Genealogical Society at www.nbgssj.ca.
Esther Clark Wright’s book ‘Saint John Ships and Their Builders’
gives information on the Smith Shipyard.
Some very interesting information on the Marco Polo can be found on
the internet at:
Joan Pearce would like to document any connections to the
Marco Polo, whether it be through relationship to the Smith Family or through
the people who were involved in building and sailing the ship or the descendants
of the folk who sailed as passengers to the Gold Fields of Australia and
other places. Any and all information would be appreciated. You can contact
her at email@example.com.
By the way, I hope many of our readers will put pen to paper
and record some family history for those who come after. It actually might
be a good task for the first month of the new year.
If you should be interested in learning more
about the Marco Polo, you might like to visit the following sites:
McLaughlin: George and Mary Alice McLaughlin were married
in 1884 and lived in St. David and Honeydale. They had seven children;
Joseph, Eva, Hardy, Inez (my grandmother), Allie and Myrtle. I am
searching for information on this family. E-mail to
White - MacQueen: I am looking for any information on the ancestry
of Raymond Murray White, who was born in1866 at Kingston (Rexton)
and died at. Livermore Falls, Maine in 1914. His father, Capt. John White,
died at sea. His mother was Jane M. MacQueen from the Moncton area.
-John White, 5 Fairfield Drive, Kennebunk, ME, 04043,
USA. E-mail to
Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff
living in Saint John. Send your queries to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Include your name and mailing address for the benefit of the readers of
the newspaper who do not have access to E-mail but could have information
to share with you. Please put "Yesteryear" followed by the surnames
in your query. For more information on submitting queries, visit http://www.rubycusack.com/Query-Instructions.html
a "Family History" column to the Telegraph-Journal on Tuesdays