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Now and Then

A History of the Southampton Area

I knew I wasn’t supposed to but I just couldn’t resist dunking the freshly made molasses cookie into my glass of milk.

I didn’t intend to let the milk drip down my chin and drop onto the tablecloth but it did.

I was expecting a lecture from Mum but instead she dunked a cookie into her cup of tea and remarked, “I haven’t done this for years. It certainly tastes good.”

As she wiped the milk from her chin, she continued to speak, “My mother made a terrible fuss when we girls did this. But we did it when she wasn’t looking.”

I wonder if the children in Southampton on the Saint John River enjoyed milk and cookies?

According to Ruth Winona Grant’s writings in “Now and Then”, it seemed their parents had many of the same ideas as mine. For example, they too thought the number of stars within a moon’s halo determined the number of days until a storm arrived, plant anything that blooms three days before the full moon, when one’s right ear tingles, someone has spoken good of the person, to get out of bed on the left foot is bad luck and throwing away a piece of bread also brings bad luck.

Among the early grant holders  in Southampton area was Tristram Hillman who had married Ann Lindopp in London, England on 19 Nov. 1777. On 17 Nov.1784, he landed at St. Andrews accompanied by his wife, three children, servants and household goods. By 9 Oct. 1785, he was in Woodstock Parish where he built a large house which was furnished with the fine furniture brought from England. He drowned in 1788 in the St. John River. His widow married Anthony Woodland two years later but things didn’t work out for the couple. In 1806 she was a school mistress in Northampton - probably the first woman teacher in the upper St. John valley. Tragedy struck the family again when in 1824 her daughter-in-law was struck and killed in her home by a bolt of lightning.

While reading this book, one gets the feeling the good old days were not so “good”. One man describes the coldness of the early homes - “The ink freezes on my pen, and the lather on my shaving brush. The latch of the door sticks to my hand, and the water has occasionally frozen in my glass at dinner.” Another expresses in rhyme, the dislike for dried apple pie.

The river was not only a major means of travel but provided work in one way or another. Some men worked at ferrying passengers across the river, others used horse or oxen to tow boats while others worked at the lumbering business by either cutting, rafting logs or in the preparation of making trees into lumber. The sawmill workers usually took their pay in trade from the store that was under the sawmill owner’s charge. 

The cook books of years ago were named cookery books and held many necessary recettes (as they were called) for survival, from Poor Man’s Pudding to Lotion for Chapped Hands.

“The most remarkable building ever built in Southampton was the Grist Mill in the ravine at the mouth of Farnham Brook, at the Corner.” It was built by William Brown and was a masterpiece of the Frame-workers art. It had double braces between the posts in both storeys.

In 1789, the Rev. John Beardsley came up the river from Maugerville and baptized more than forty persons from the families of Dr. John Larlee, James Craig, William Guerrier, Peter Newton, Alexander Bate, William McLaughlan, Anthony Manuel, Christopher Ferro, John Tompkins, William Hudgins, Jacob Tompkins, Joseph Cunlife and Richard Stears.

An interesting chapter from An Account From Sir George Head’s - 1815 winter journey from Fredericton to Presqueisle, to the Canada Lakes, written by Raymond provides information on the everyday living and travelling conditions along the river as well as accommodations or the lack of them for the weary travellers.

Some of the topics discussed in the book are: The Indian Period, America Discovered, Colonization, How Southampton was formed, Early Settlers, Fall Island, Railroads, Communications, Roads,  Inns, How the People Lived, Christmas with the Loyalists, Tow-Boats, Steamboating, Raftin’ and Runninn’, Ferries, Industries Around Southampton, Churches, Schools, Organizations, Local Cemeteries, Cookery Methods, The Pirate Charlie, Weatherwise and Otherwise and Good-Bye to an Era - all of which help to give the reader a better understanding of life in the Southampton area, now and then.

The 1967 publication,” Now and Then - A History of the Southampton Area Along the Saint John River” by Ruth Winona Grant is available for viewing at the libraries in Florenceville, Fredericton, Hartland, Moncton, Newcastle, Perth-Andover, Woodstock and at the Legislative Library in Fredericton.    

** Feb 18, 2012  Reprints of Ruth Winona Grant’s books  - Now and Then - Bel Viso, The Historic Present -The Grant Connexion and  The Grant Connexion Addendum see

Query 1341
Upham - Cutler - Titus: Mary Chandler Upham, the daughter of Jabez Upham and Bethia Cutler, was born in 1797 in Woodstock, Carleton County, New Brunswick and moved to Upham, Kings County with her parents, where she married James Titus in 1824. I am interested in locating photos of Mary Chandler Upham Titus and her siblings.
J. W. TITUS. E-mail

Query 1342
Bliss - Almon: Who were the parents of John Murray Upham Bliss - Registrar of Deeds, cousin of Charles G.D. Roberts and Bliss Carmen - who married Julia Harriet Almon, daughter of the Rev. Canon F. H. Almon?  Baptismal records of daughter, Laleah dated 1888. Listed abode Richibucto, New Brunswick.
# 414, 9650 First Street
Sidney, BC
Canada, V8L 3C9
A copy of "Now and Then - A history of the Southampton area along the Saint John River” by Ruth Winona Grant is available for purchasing  at
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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 "Query" followed by the surnames in your query. For more information on submitting queries, visit
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