Steamboat Days On The St. John 1816 - 1946

Grampy enjoyed telling a supposedly true story. But tonight, I thought he was really stretching the truth with the one about building river boats by the bridge in Hampton. Then he rambled off vessel names such as the Hampton, Hampstead and the Clifton.

According to the book “Steamboat Days On The St. John 1816 - 1946" by Dr. George MacBeath and Capt. Donald F. Taylor, Grampy was really telling us the truth about shipbuilding on the Kennebecasis. I was even more surprised to find, the Water Witch, an 87-ton vessel with a length of 120 feet was built in Kingston in 1836.

Furthermore, as early as 1765, sloops owned by Simonds, Hazen and White were using the St. John River to take supplies inland.

The Loyalists, who flocked to our province in 1783, found a country without roads and bridges. Due to necessity, they chose to settle on the banks of rivers and streams that could be navigated by boats. Hence the waterways became their highways.

The first venture into a commercial transportation business between St. Ann’s, now Fredericton and Maugerville was made in 1783 by Nehemiah Beckwith of Maugerville, who built a scow boat fitted with a mast and sail.

In the spring of 1784, Asher Vail of Gagetown built a 18-foot row boat that would carry a dozen passengers the 50 miles to and from Saint John.

In July of 1786, the schooner ‘Four Sisters’ announced the sailing from the Indian House at Saint John to Fredericton every Tuesday, when the wind and weather permitted. Four years later Alphoneus Pine and James Segee set up a business to carry freight and passengers between the two settlements on the St. John River.

When the Duke of Kent visited Fredericton in 1794, he travelled the river in Governor Carleton’s sloop.

Among the  first inns on the river were, the Blizzard House on Long Island, Kings Head Tavern at Grimross Neck, Vanhorn’s Tavern at Fredericton and Queens Head Tavern at Evandale.

The General Smyth, the first steamboat of the river, took sixty-two passengers to Fredericton on its voyage in 1816 under Captain Segee, a Loyalist. Peter Stewart, the engineer, had come from Scotland to install the machinery. One of the competing boats for the river business was a 100-foot side-wheeler ‘horse boat’ built by William Peters at Hampstead. Its twelve horsepower engine was powered by twelve horses moving in a circle around the capstan which rotated the paddle wheels.

Steamboat Days On The St. John 1816 - 1946" by Dr. George MacBeath and Capt. Donald F. Taylor, provides us with not only information on the river boats, their owners, promoters, captains, pursers, cooks, stewards and stewardesses but lets us paddle back in time to the days when the river was the highway of travel thus providing information on many folk connected in one way or another to the river.

You will find this book in most research institutions in New Brunswick. A recent reprint has been done of this 1983 publication and is available at several book stores.

By the way, the Saint John Branch of the New Brunswick Genealogical Society will be meeting at 7:30 p.m. on November 24, 2004 at the Lion’s Den of the Loch Lomond Villa for their Christmas Party. Everyone is encouraged to bring a treasured Christmas card and to share its story. There will also be a book sale of genealogical related material.

Query 1231
Brown - Fraser: Samuel Fawls Brown was born in1801 in Fermanagh County, Northern Ireland and married in 1830 in Cavan, Ireland to Catherine Fraser, who was born 1801 in Cavan, and died in 1886 in Pine Ridge, New Brunswick, where Samuel also died in 1889. I am seeking information to enable me to trace the family back to their connections in Ireland.
57 Bellevista Drive
Dartmouth, NS
Canada, B2W 2X4

Query 1232
Terris - Gorman: I am looking for information on the following two Terris families who were in Saint John prior to 1900 - Joseph John Terris, born July 12, 1873 who went on to found Terriss Beverages on City Road, and William John Terris, born May 9, 1870 who married Margaret Gorman in Saint John. Were they brothers and if so what was their heritage?
25 Nicol St
Miramichi, N.B.
E1N 3N5

Query 1234
Jonah - Briggs: Arther Briggs was born in 1828. His parents were probably John Briggs born 1800 and Rosannah Jonah born 1804 in Coverdale, New Brunswick. In the 1880 US Census, he is living in Minnesota, with wife Mary, born in Nova Scotia and children, Phebe and Lilly. Need proof of the parents of Arther Briggs.
Joan Bowen
204 Virginia Avenue
Warner Robins
GA, 31088, USA
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
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