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Knocks at Our Door
Winnifred Conrad Thomson

In 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 lives.

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 their door.

The publication is available at several libraries and museums in New Brunswick.

A Copy of Knocks at Our Door for sale at


Query 1400
Cullion - 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
Quesnel, BC
Canada, V2J3H9.

Query 1401
Roach - 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 Kent County.
96 Fairmount Drive
Sault Ste Marie, ON
Canada, P6B 5X7

Query 1402
McIsaac - 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 family. 
511 Sewell Street
Fredericton, NB
Canada, E3A5E3

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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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