The Reverend's Journal By keeping a day-to-day diary, Reverend James Gray left a genealogical legacy
by Ruby M. Cusack
There was no sleeping in at our home on Sunday morning. Mum would get up early to make a potato scallop in preparation for our noontime meal. In those days, we put on our best Sunday go-to-meeting clothes to go to church. My brothers donned white shirts and ties. I wore my good dress, patent leather shoes and a bow in my hair.
I spent many minutes of the long hour of the church service, gazing at the oil lamps that hung from the ceiling.
In the springtime, I looked out the window and watched the Campbell's lambs frolicking in the pasture.
The church our family attended was called the Kirk. It opened its doors for the first service 130 years ago on March 9, 1868. Many changes have taken place, but some things have stayed the same. The farmers still bring their vegetables to decorate the church for Thanksgiving. Members of the congregation still stand outside exchanging the weekly news when the service is over. I suspect the children still gaze, as I did, at the lamps hanging from the ceiling.
Until I began to walk down the road of genealogy, I gave very little thought as to what records were kept by churches or who had ministered to the faithful groups of people.
I have spent hours sitting in the library scanning the microfilms of church records searching for baptisms, marriages and deaths. After the second hour, my neck gets stiff, by the third hour, my back hurts and then, finally, the pages become blurred.
Thanks to Peggy Fairweather of Hammond River, N. B., and the Saint John Branch of the New Brunswick Genealogical Society, one group of church records has been published and indexed.
Peggy Fairweather's great-grandfather, the Reverend James Gray, a Presbyterian minister, was born in Peterhead, Scotland. He was ordained at Hammond River, N.B., on March 6, 1857. He served this very scattered field until it was divided in 1868.
At this time he took the Sussex part until 1887. After retirement he continued to perform his clergy duties when the need arose. He died May 4, 1898, and is buried in Kirk Hill Cemetery, Sussex. Little did Rev. Gray realize the wealth of information he was leaving to future generations by keeping a journal of his day-to-day clergyman activities from 1857 to 1898.
Only a fellow genealogist would understand my excitement at finding in the Rev. Gray's journal, the baptism in 1857 of Andrew McVey Floyd, son of Andrew McVey Floyd and Jane McComb of Norton Parish. Even more interesting was finding that Jane McComb had been baptized the same day. Even the names of her parents, John McComb and Ann Black, were given.
Marriages, baptisms and deaths of folks who lived from Anagance to Gardners Creek fill the pages of this publication. The book is a photocopy of the original journal. All entries have been included in the index.
"The Records of the Reverend James Gray, Kings County, New Brunswick 1857-1898" is available to researchers at the Saint John Regional Library and the Kings County Museum and other research institutions.
Copies may be purchased from the Saint John Branch of the New Brunswick Genealogical Society, P. O. Box 2423, Saint John, N.B., E2L 3V9. Visit their website at http://www.nbgssj.ca for more details.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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