The History of Marysville

by Douglas Daaman Pond

We were all set for the first day of school. Mum had made a trip to Saint John on Saturday and bought scribblers at Duval’s Hardware. She had chosen for Cliff, ones with dog pictures on the covers and mine were scenes of playful kittens with balls of yarn. The campfire notebooks were to be used for spelling tests. The big box of wax crayons even had a sharpener.

Since Gramp was one of the trustees, I asked him, “Did you do any fixing up of the school house or buy any books?”

His reply of, “There is no one named Boss Gibson in District 3” left me very confused as I didn’t understand what he was talking about.

If I had been attending the Marysville School in the 1860’s, I would have seen first hand what Boss Gibson could do. When he took over the mills in 1862, he began the construction of a new school that was ready by 1864 at a cost of $2000 paid from his own private funds. The furniture was imported from the States. The bottom of the walls were painted an oak colour with the top being papered with expensive material, in panel work. The library contained 300 books.

The following year, the Minister’s report on Public Schools stated it was one of the most handsomely finished schoolrooms in the district or even the province.

Alexander Gibson, better known as Boss Gibson gave not only a school, church, covered rink, jail and hall to the town but also land and materials to other religious denominations. He also gave the citizens a clean break from time to time when he burned the books at his store. When he heard of the fire in Saint John in 1877, he sent a carload of flour.

He was born on August 1, 1819 in St. Stephen, the son of John and Mary (Johnston) Gibson and married Mary Ann Robinson. They had 10 children. A unique feature of his mansion that was completed in 1866, was a glass floor, which permitted light from a third floor dormer to illuminate the stairway. Over the years this gentleman was involved in many business ventures.

In 1983, Douglas Daaman Pond wrote a 163 page “History of Marysville” in which he traces the development of the town through the lumbering and cotton mill days.

Many interesting and informative details on lumbering, lumber mills, cotton mill, stores, blacksmiths, postal service, doctors, barbers, ladies’ hair stylists, milliners, dressmakers, restaurants, garages, credit union, bakeries, drug stores, ice business, farming, communications, civic government, churches, education, fraternal organizations, clubs and sports were included. Reminiscences of Boss Gibson, interviews, lists of names, as well as the many photos will keep Marysville - its history and its people - on the map long after the amalgamation with Fredericton took place.

By the way, the Inspector’s report of 1844 stated that the school at Nashwaak Mills was 25 x 20 x 10 feet, built by subscription on private property, the title of which was still in dispute. The teacher, John Torrens, had been granted a license in July of 1830, just 3 weeks after coming out from Ireland. His school return for 1844 stated that he had been teaching at Nashwaak Mills for 2 ½ years and he would appreciate desks and seats with backs on them. The enrollment of 31 pupils ranged in age from 4 to 12 years from the families of Carvell, Clark, Cox, Earle, Hooper, Hovey, Pond, Robinson, Shea, Torrens and Wilber.

A long serving teacher was Zula V. Hallett, who obtained a B. A. from the University of New Brunswick in 1914 and at Christmas time of that year was made principal, an unheard of assignment for a woman. She continued in this position until 1944.

The  ‘History of Marysville” by Douglas Daaman Pond is available for viewing at several research institutions.

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