The Tabor Papers

Edited by Graeme F. Somerville

For just one Saturday, I really wanted to do nothing but enjoy myself. But that certainly wasn’t going to happen this particular day as Dad was dead set on getting in all the vegetables from the garden and putting them away for winter.

Cliff and I pulled and topped the carrots, beats and turnips and lugged the baskets to the wagon. Once the team arrived at the house, we then had to carry the baskets down the stone steps to the bins in the cellar. The pumpkins and squash were next on the list. They had to be taken to the empty upstair bedroom as they kept best in a dry environment. The onions which we had brought in the previous week had been drying and they, too, needed to be taken upstairs. After all this was completed, Mum wanted the beans gathered and flailed. It was not the carefree day that I had wanted for myself.

My complaints at needing to gather all these vegetables fell on deaf ears until Gramp arrived and then the lecture started. He informed us that the only way that many early settlers were able to survive the winter was due to their garden and the putting of vegetables in the root cellar. He rambled on about a farm being able to provide the necessities of life and how fortunate we were to have lots of fertile land for gardens.

In the 1840s, after spending the earlier part of his life on a farm James Vaughan Tabor was living in Portland, St. John County (better known today as the North End) and paying $12.00 a year for a room and bedroom for himself, his wife and their two children. He was working in the office of a shipbuilder. The next year he rented another house for $16.00 yearly rent on the Straight Shore, now known as Chesley Drive. That house had one good large room and a large bedroom that would accommodate two beds but most importantly it had a small piece of ground attached that he found quite a benefit to the family. I wonder what vegetables he harvested to help feed his family?

James Vaughan Tabor’s father, Jesse, was the first English child born on the Hammond River in the Parish of Hampton and his mother was Mary Vaughan of Quaco. James was their eldest son and was born in 1807 in St. Martins Parish. He was brought up on a farm that was 30 miles from Saint John and 17 miles up river from the first grant that his grandfather Jesse Tabor had received. The country was so little opened that a wagon could not approach within 10 miles of the residence.

His one desire was to attend school, but it was not until he reached the age of twenty-one that this became possible. He had not attended school for long when a neighbour, John F. Sherwood, remarked that James must be lazy or he would not be spending fine weather in a schoolhouse. This so upset him that he quit school. For quite some time despondency plagued him.

 By1833 he was attending school in St. Martins. He soon formed the desire to teach school and in 1835 he commenced teaching in a school near Deacon Ammon Fowler’s. His subsequent teaching career extended over thirty years and several districts, most notably Upham and Wickham.

On November 30, 1837 he married sixteen year old Leah Seely Wilson, daughter of James and Mary Wilson, who were natives of County Cork and had been married in the City of Bandon in 1818. James and Leah became parents to nine children and in the later years of their life moved to Woodstock to be near some of their adult children. His death occurred there in 1869.

Most of the above information has been taken from the writings of John Vaughan Tabor, which Graeme Somerville, of Saint John, located in Victoria, British Columbia, 3,500 miles from their place of origin.

The Tabor Papers” edited by Graeme Somerville give a clear insight into the life and times of the first half of the nineteenth century in southern New Brunswick as well as the life of a man whose interests were centered around his family, farming, teaching and the Baptist Church. It is truly interesting reading. In spite of limited formal education he mastered the skill of putting his thoughts clearly on paper, both in the form of verse and prose, as is well chronicled in The Tabour Papers.

The original manuscripts of Mr. Tabor were subsequently sent from Victoria, British Columbia to the Archives & Research Library of the New Brunswick Museum on Douglas Avenue in Saint John. Be sure to take a magnifying glass if you wish to read them. However, the 57 page publication is much easier to read and the footnotes and full index are a great addition.

The Tabor Papers” is available from Graeme F. Somerville, 84 Beach Crescent, Saint John, NB, Canada, E2K 2E4 at $16.00 plus postage and packaging.

By the way, a meeting of the Saint John Branch of the New Brunswick Genealogical Society will be held on Wednesday, September 29, 2004, at 7:30 in the Lion’s Den, Loch Lomond Villa. Bruce Campbell will be speaking about the Genealogical Resources available at the Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in West Saint John.

No Queries were published this week.
Visit Ruby's Bookshelf
New and Used Genealogical and Historical books of New Brunswick for sale.

Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at:  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
Back to Home of  rubycusack dot com