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The Upper St. John River Valley

Aunt Ethel spent part of Sunday afternoon, drilling me on the rivers of New Brunswick. She promised a fifty-cent piece if I got all the questions correct on the true or false test.

On Monday morning, I was whizzing right through the questions without any hesitating in making a “T” or an “F”. Then I read the question, - The St. John River was referred to by the Maliseet as Wolastoq, which means 'the good river’.  I did so much changing of my mind as to the right answer, I erased a hole right through the page.

If Chip Gagnon had been asked that question on a test, he would have known the answer plus lots more about the St. John River. In fact, his interest in the history of the upper St.John River valley and the families who lived there led him to expand what was at first just his family genealogy website into one dedicated to the entire valley.

Today the Upper St. John River Valley website at is filled with history, transcribed documents and genealogy links for the communities and the people on both the Maine and New Brunswick sides of the river. In the early days the valley was known as Wulustuk.

Census records that are transcribed on the site include:
    -1820 US Census of Matawascah (Madawaska), Maine
    -1830 US Census of Madawaska Settlement, Penobscot County, Maine
    -1831 Lower Canada Provincial Census of Kamouraska County (Québec)
    -1833 New Brunswick Census of Madawaska
    -1840 US Census of Aroostook County, Maine
    -1850 US Census of Aroostook County, Maine
    -1851 New Brunswick Census of Victoria County, New Brunswick
    -1860 US Census of northern Aroostook County, Maine

Also included are transcriptions of other documents including The Deane and Kavanagh Report, July-August 1831 with the Survey of the Madawaska Settlement.

The site provides brief histories of the Region's Towns and early settlers in Madawaska County: (Baker Brook, Clair, Connors, Edmundston, Rivière-Verte, Saint-André, Sainte-Anne, Saint-Basile, Saint-François, Saint-Hilaire, Saint-Jacques and Saint-Léonard), and in Aroostook County, (Allagash, Castonia Settlement, Cyr Plantation, Daigle, EagleLake, Fort Kent, Frenchville,Grand Isle, Hamlin, Madawaska, New Canada Plantation, Portage Lake, St. Agatha, and VanBuren)

An interesting example of the kind of documents included on the site is a list of American citizens in possession of lands in Madawaska in August of 1827. This list comes from a letter dated August 11, 1827, sent by George Morehouse, Justice of the Peace for the County of York, Province of New Brunswick, to Thomas Wetmore, Esq., Clerk to the Attorney General, on the case of John Baker, who attempted to recruit French Acadians to support his claim that Madawaska was US territory. For example, James Bacon is on the lower or southeast side of the Mereumpticook Creek, fronting the river St. John, on 100 acres, deeded to him by James Irish and George W. Coffin and settled nine years. John Baker, on the upper or southwest side of the creek with 100 acres, settled nine years. Charles Studson, joining Bacon, on the lower side has 100 acres, settled three years. Isaac Jones is in possession of an island about eight miles above Fish River. Nathaniel Bartlette and David Savage, are jointly, in possession of 500 acres at Fish River.

Chip Gagnon lives in New York state with his wife Lisa and children Nelly and Lucas. His Upper St. John River Valley website is a labor of love not only for his children, so they know where their family came from, but to keep alive memories of the old days for the whole community, to preserve the history of a region that was special in so many ways.

His commitment is to provide genealogical and historical information free of charge for people researching their family histories in the valley of the Upper St. John River in northern Aroostook County and Madawaska County, or for people who are just interested in the history of this region.

Chip would like to encourage people to register and post on the online forum/discussion board at It is a great spot for visitors to leave their queries as well as the information they would like to share with others. An added bonus is reading the facts Chip digs up to answer those queries.

To learn more about the Upper St. John River Valley, pay a visit to

The Telegraph Journal did not publish any queries this week.

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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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