Backward in the Saddle

From a chance encounter between James Beyea and Giles Smith
came the Smithtown Baptist Church and 200 years of history

Ruby M. Cusack

My childhood experiences created many of my fondest recollections. The cool evenings and the full moon of September bring thoughts of friends gathering for a corn boil. Later in the year, when the snow came, we would go up Ernie's mountain for sleigh rides and coasting parties under that same moon.

Last Saturday, I attended an auction at Ernie Smith's house and it brought back a rush of memories of days gone by. I thought of the Sunday school and vacation Bible school picnics that were held there.

It seems to me that Kool Aid had just come on the market and we were choosing it over homemade root beer.

Back in my youthful days, I was more enthusiastic about eating sandwiches and playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey, than admiring antique furniture. I paid little attention to the 1830 writing desk in this house that once belonged to the Beyea family.

Now that I think of it, a descendant of James Beyea may have sat at that very desk.

Who is James Beyea, you ask? Why, he's the Loyalist who helped Giles Smith.

And who is Giles Smith?

A New Light preacher, of course. But you won't get to hear any of his sermons these days. Like James Beyea, he's long gone. In his day (back in the late 1700s) Giles Smith was ­ an unpopular preacher with the settlers of Sussex. They disliked him so, they tied him backwards on his horse and chased him from their midst. Fortunately, on his travels, he was befriended by said James Beyea of French Village Road. And from this beginning 200 years ago, arose the Smithtown Baptist Church.

On Sunday, the Smithtown Baptist Church celebrated its 200th birthday. There was a church service that would have made James and Giles proud. It was a step back in time complete with pump organ, oil lamps and an old-fashioned hymn sing.

James Beyea isn't the only one of his family to make local history. In 1913, his great-grandson, Andrew Beyea, wrote a "Historical Sketch of French Village" for the rector of St. Paul's Church, Lakeside. This was later read at a meeting of the Loyalist Society in Saint John and was published in the Saint John Globe, Oct. 10, 1913.

In 1923, Andrew Beyea compiled a detailed "History of French Village." It is a treasure chest of genealogical and historical information. In addition to the history, it gives detailed information concerning each family who received a grant of land in the area. The story of the Acadian - Loyalist Burial Ground is especially interesting. Enjoy the autumn colours and take a drive to visit this beautiful burial hill site in French Village.  

The archives of the New Brunswick Museum, Douglas Avenue, has a copy of Andrew Beyea's "History of French Village." The Kings County Record published this history in serial form in late 1960 and early 1961.

Contact David Horgan for information on ordering the History of French Village at

<>"Courage Through Adversity," compiled by John Beyea, also has extensive genealogical information on the Beyea family.

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Queries have been grouped together to cover the year 1998 and can be viewed at Queries-1998

Ruby Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to Ruby at When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.

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