Monument for Keith Girls
Dad set out after supper to mow the interval field, but soon returned as the drive rod on the mowing machine had broken. He searched the board-pile for a suitable piece of hardwood and tomorrow he would take the parts to Sussex to have the yoke welded.
Since our help wouldn’t be needed in the hayfield, Cliff and I decided it would be the perfect day to pack a lunch and go on a hike. We planned to follow the brook to the place it emptied into the river and then down the river shore until we found the trail that led up to the Bull Run.
Mum was about ready to give her consent when Gramp came into the kitchen.
He shook his head and told Mum, “Don’t let them go walking in those deep woods as you know what happened to the Keith girls up in Butternut Ridge!”
That was the end of our planned adventure!
“The Descendants of Daniel and Elizabeth (Disbrow) Keith” by M. Frederick Amos, Gerald Keith and Myrtle Perry, includes the following information taken from the written account of Margaret Keith, the widow of Ezra. “On the morning of May 10, 1816, at Butternut Ridge, seven-year-old Eliza and her younger sister Mary Ann, the daughters of George Keith and Abigail Clark were playing down by the spring about a hundred yards from the house when their little cousin, Mary Price dropped in for a visit. Their mother, Abigail called for Eliza and Mary Ann to come up to the house and they replied they would.
She became busy in preparing dinner and thought no more of the matter for a while, but after a time realized the girls had not come to the house and went outside and called again. But no reply was heard. She raced to the well and called repeatedly in a loud voice, but still there was no answer. The news spread rapidly, neighbours, friends and relatives joined in the ever widening circle of search, which continued for days or possibly weeks. But the only trace found was a number of little hand prints in the sand beside a creek about six or seven miles from their home. It was presumed the children had wandered in the woods and became hopelessly lost. There was some speculation that they might have been killed by wild animals, or perhaps had been abducted by Indians, as there were known to be wandering Indians in the area.”
“As the years passed, occasionally there was a report of a white woman living among a band of Indians. George Keith made a number of trips to investigate, but always returned dejected and without having found his daughters. George died in 1832, but his widow Abigail lived on, declining in health due to her grief.”
Several years later there was another report of a white woman living among a band of Indians near Petitcodiac. Abigail went to visit the camp under pretense of wanting to buy baskets. She invited the woman to come home with her but she would not admit she was the long lost daughter, Eliza.
Several days later a group of old ladies came to visit the Keith home. Eliza, took one look and ran to one of them and put her arms around her neck and cried, “Dat my old grandmother.”
Eliza described how she and Mary Ann had become lost and after quite some time met a group of Indians who offered them food. She stressed that at all times she had been treated kindly. She had married and had several children. Her sister Mary Ann had never stopped grieving and would take no part in the affairs of the camp and often ran away.
Eliza’s visit extended for several months but she became anxious to return to her family of children and never again visited Butternut Ridge.
It was thought that a demented woman who came to the village some years later was Mary Ann but due to her mental condition this could not be established.
The story of the little lost Keith girls has been retold from generation to generation.
On August 7, 2004, the Keith Family will be unveiling a memorial stone and plaque recognizing the loss of Eliza and Mary Ann Keith on 10 May 1816. The event will take place at 11:00 a.m. at the site on the original George Keith Grant, about one mile east of Havelock on Route 880 - at the Westmorland County line. James and Daniel Keith, great-grandsons of a brother of the two little girls will do the unveiling. The actual spring where the girls had been playing is known and a path marked to it so that those who so desire may also walk down to that site.
The public is invited to attend the ceremony.
The Annual Keith Family Reunion will follow at the Havelock Memorial Hall with registration at 1:00 p.m.
The story of these two little girls was also included in "Butternut Ridge-Havelock: Our Proud Heritage - 1809-1989".
Milroy - Reece: William Milroy, school teacher, born circa 1798 in Scotland, married Hannah Reece on 30 March 1824 at Waterborough, Queens County, New Brunswick. William died between 1871-1881 and Hannah 1881-1891. I am looking for descendants and parental information for William Milroy. I believe some of the children may have gone to Maine.
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Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical 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