Jeanie Johnston

When Dad opened the back door, a gust of wind nearly took it off the hinges and he struggled to get it closed tightly. This was his third trip to check on possible damage to the roofs of the barns and outbuildings.

The wind had been blowing all afternoon and evening with its force growing stronger. I hated the sound as it howled down the stove pipe so I snuggled close to Mum.

I wonder if young Stephen and Lawrence Gaynor sat close to their father, John in 1853, when the Jeanie Johnston, which was carrying 194 passengers, ran into bad weather and strong winds as she neared the Gulf of St. Lawrence on her voyage from Tralee, Ireland to Quebec?

Due to the weather, lateness of the season, and with consent in writing from the majority of the passengers, James Attridge, the master of the barque made the decision to pay an unannounced visit to the port of St. Andrews arriving Nov. 3, 1853 and from there 137 passengers were forwarded by steam on Nov. 8 to Portland, Me., on their way to Montreal and Quebec.

The remaining 57 obtained situations or went as labourers on the railroad but found they had been deceived by the representations of those who induced them to stay.

On the afternoon of Nov. 24, in the midst of a heavy rain and snowstorm, 30 of them arrived back in St. Andrews, having trekked 30 kilometres or more, wet, hungry, tired and poorly clad. After an eight-day stay, they were advised they had waived their claims on the master of the vessel. The Province of New Brunswick had nothing to do with forwarding emigrants to their place of destination, thus they set out on foot in the cold of winter for Portland.

On Dec. 30, 1853, John Gaynor made his way back to St. Andrews as he had been "turned off" by the railroad. He was accompanied by his two motherless children, Stephen and Lawrence, aged eight and 14, with few clothes on their back and almost barefoot.

John Gaynor died at the age of 84 in 1890 and is buried in the Church of St. Andrew's cemetery, St. Andrews. His son Laurence married Margaret Watterson in 1883 and lived to be 76. He too, is buried in the St. Andrew's Church cemetery. Son Stephen married Susan Hennegan in 1880 and died at Milltown at the age of 56 in 1903.

By the way, when the detailed replica of the Jeanie Johnston visits St. Andrews, on Aug. 15-19, 150 years minus about 10 weeks after her original visit, one of John Gaynor's great granddaughters who lives there will have the opportunity to step back in time and walk the decks of the ship that her ancestor probably spent more than 40 days on during the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.

When you visit the ship's museum, you will meet the figures of several emigrants such as Margaret Ryal and her baby Nicholas.

Ellen Mahony and children, from County Kerry are on the way to meet her husband, Denis who had emigrated three years years earlier and had sent passage money. Young Margaret Conway was only 15 when she sailed with her brother John in 1851 and Dr. Richard Blennerhassett was one of the ship's doctors.

The Jeanie Johnston will be berthed at the Market Wharf in St. Andrews from her arrival at 1:30 p.m. Friday until her departure on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2003. She will be open to the general public from Saturday to Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Other activities are planned, including a display from the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick.

The ship will be docked at Pugsley Terminal, Saint John from Aug. 20 to 24, 2003 and will be open daily for visits. Her next stop in New Brunswick will be the Miramichi from Sept. 6 to 9, 2003.

The original Jeanie Johnston was built in Quebec City in 1847 by the Canadian shipbuilder John Munn for the Donovan family of Tralee, Ireland. She made at least 16 voyages carrying timber and general cargo to Ireland and brought more than 2,500 passengers to America on the return trips without the loss of any lives.

The museum of the Jeanie Johnston depicts the Great Famine of Ireland and the conditions that were endured by passengers of this ship, who fled Ireland during the famine years in their hope to find a better way of life.

Visit the Jeanie Johnston website at

In the private records section of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick Web site at the Irish Famine Migration to New Brunswick database has 23,318 individual records of emigrants.


Query 1097
: I would like to make contact with descendants of Charles and Myrtle Fitzsimmons who lived on or near Campobello Island. I am related through Caroline Fitzsimmons.

, P. O. Box 173, Washington, ME, 04574, USA.

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