at Our Door
Winnifred Conrad Thomson
September, Aunt Sadie started the preparation for Christmas Dinner,
with the making of cranberry sauce. Next on her list was the mincemeat
that was bottled and placed in the cellar. Making the fruitcake came in
November with several members of the family helping with the cutting of
the dried fruit. The cooking and steaming took up an entire day.
Since Christmas was fast approaching, Gord went to the upper pasture
and found the perfect tree. Before bringing it into the double parlour,
he nailed on a board for the base. After much twirling round and round
to find the best side, he anchored it with string to the wall.
It seemed there was no end to the coloured popcorn that needed to be
threaded to be used as garland for the tree. Cliff became bored with
this task. He went over to the settee where Gram was sitting with a box
on her knee. Very carefully, she was removing the fragile ornaments
that were wrapped in tissue paper.
He picked up the bird shaped one with the silk tail and asked, “Did Dad
fasten this ornament to the tree when he was a kid?”
“Please tell me what my father did
when he was a boy?” asked by a grandchild of Winnifred Conrad Thomson, led to her
writing in 1984 the book, titled “Knocks
at Our Door” - Visitors at
Salt Springs Farm, Penobsquis, New Brunswick, describing life in the countryside to the
east of Sussex.
The first Christmas Jim and Winnifred Thomson spent in their newly
acquired farm house in Penobsquis after World War II was in 1945. For
many people throughout Canada this was the first peaceful Christmas in
several years. The singing of Peace on Earth probably took on a new
meaning to the many servicemen who had returned home.
Winnifred tells us of the first owner of the land, Major Richard W.
Stockton, who separated himself from his family in the American
colonies when he joined the side of the Loyalists. He brought with him
his wife, formerly Mary Hatfield of New Jersey, four sons and three
daughters to Sussex Parish. One of his activities was the beginning of
the distillation of salt, often selling it at the first trading post at
Sussex Vale. He died in 1801 and the tombstone to his memory is the
oldest stone standing in the Sussex Corner cemetery.
The next name to appear on the deed of the Salt Spring Farm was that of
Elkanah Morton, who taught at the Indian School.
John Hendricks purchased land across the road. About 1868, his brother
Conrad Hendricks used eighteen yoke of oxen to move a house from his
brother’s land. Here he set up a distillery to extract the salt. In
1886 a larger house was built and attached to the original one.
In telling the story of who knocked on the door of their home, the
author relates incidents and handed down stories of the residents and
former residents of the community.
One of their first visitors was Uncle Vernor who although blind, came
to tune the piano.
Another fellow was Mr. Weldon, who was considered to be the historian
of Penobsquis. He made them aware of the Rev. Ezekiel McLeod, who
received his early education in the local school and went on to start
and edit the Free Baptist’s paper, the Religious Intelligencer. He also
told them of Alfred McIntyre, who had a plant that produced wood
alcohol and acetate of lime that was shipped to the British Isles.
Visitor Jim Crowe told them of Jim Nash, a Maliseet Indian who advised
him to use the plant tansy to help his medical condition. Jim also
passed along a home remedy to relieve a sinus headache.
“Knocks at Our Door” takes one
to the time when veterans returned home to pick up the pieces of their
As you read the book, you will experience the day to day life of living
on a farm in a small community and have the opportunity to meet the
folk who entered the life of Jim and Winnifred Thomson by knocking on
The publication is available at several libraries and museums in New
- Paschal: I am researching the family of Bertha Paschal
and Thomas Lee Cullion of Chipman, New Brunswick. Does anyone have
pictures of the family?
RR# 5 Tibbles Site, Box 49
- Neville: Moses Roach, born 1802 in Ireland, married 1842
in Saint John to Hanorah Neville who was born 1825 in Ireland. I am
trying to connect him to William Roach born 1796 and granted land in
96 Fairmount Drive
Sault Ste Marie, ON
Canada, P6B 5X7
- Woodburn: James McIsaac married Elizabeth (Betty)
Woodburn in Fredericton on 17 Jan 1840. I am interested in
finding Betty's parents and siblings. Soon after their marriage they
moved upriver to East Florenceville where they raised their
511 Sewell Street