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Grace Helen Mowat's

The Diverting History of a Loyalist Town

A Portrait of St. Andrews, New Brunswick
St. Andrews traces roots to a border squabble

Cliff and I couldn’t quite understand the conversation. It seemed that Gramp felt a logging crew was cutting on his property. He thought it would be necessary to hire a surveyor to blaze the lines. But on a search through the back woods, he found the remains of an old cedar pole snake fence which convinced the boss of the crew to back off and respect this as the boundary line. A happy ending was provided to what could have been a quarrelsome event.

Things did not go so well for a  small group of  Loyalists who were living at Fort George at the mouth of the Penobscot River, who thought they were within the province of Nova Scotia. 

Although Dr. John Calef left his wife and family who lived in Ipswich, Massachusetts and went off across the Atlantic Ocean to talk to Lord North and other important people in London to try to get the boundary question settled in favour of the inhabitants of Penobscot who had formed the Penobscot Loyalist Association, word came from London that the St. Croix was to be the boundary and not the Penobscot River. 

The settlement at Penobscot had been hastily constructed of frame houses and was taken apart piece by piece, including all the lumber and materials, everything they had needed at Fort George, they would now find useful for the new settlement on the banks of the St. Croix.

The Diverting History of a Loyalist Town - A Portrait of St. Andrews” by Grace Helen Mowat takes one to the time the Indians called this place, Qua-nos-cumcook, where they had their camp headquarters at Joe’s Point. Long before any Loyalists arrived in the area and because a Frenchman had placed a St. Andrews cross at St. Andrews Point, the area became known as "St. Andrews".

In early October of 1783, the fleet from Penobscot reached the site of the present day St. Andrews.  The ships were carrying their household goods, mahogany furniture, family portraits, trunks covered with calf skins, their servants and coloured slaves.

A letter written in May of 1784 by William Pagan tells of ninety houses up with preparations being made for more.

Robert Pagan owned the Brig Miriam which carried on a trading business with the East Indies. He had no children but brought up the two daughters of Thomas Pagan and a daughter of Colonel Wyer. Living near to them in one of the little cottages brought from Penobscot were Mrs. Pagan’s parents, Mr.and Mrs. Pote who owned a piece of ground on the upper part of King Street which Mr. Pote gave to the town for a burying ground. In November of 1794, one of the first persons to be buried there was his youngest son Robert, aged 25 years who died of the fever while on the return trip home from Jamaica.

John Dunn came with the New York Loyalists, bringing the material for a two-storey house, the first to be erected. He was the first Comptroller of the customs and held the office of High Sheriff of Charlotte County. His will left a fund to be distributed to the poor of the town at Christmas time.

By the way while Dr. John Calef was in London,  Mrs. Calef hired a vessel to take her, the six children, the family Bible that had belonged to her father, Jediah Jewett, an armchair that was a gift from her Grandmother Dummer, some furniture and other household goods to the Bay of Fundy region. A snow storm caused the vessel to run aground some miles from the mouth of the St. John River. She and the children walked through the storm to seek shelter in what is now Saint John. Four years later her husband joined her in St. Andrews.

Squire John Wilson started many thriving mills in Chamcook which he wanted to resemble an English village. He lived in a large stone house and at one point stocked the beech woods with deer. His daughter married Dr. William Bayard of Saint John.  In the Squire’s household lived a little orphan girl, Lucy Sprague who in later life kept boarders.

A report in 1831 by the Collector of St. Andrews gives an interesting list of men who were engaged in business. Some of the comments were not very flattering.

In the last chapter, the author presents a most interesting account of the disposition of the houses of early St. Andrews as well as an account of the families in 1953.

In “The Diverting History of a Loyalist Town - A Portrait of St. Andrews”,  Grace Helen Mowat, who had been a life long resident of the town, opens the curtains of the window of the past to let us glimpse, through many intriguing stories, the lives of those who settled this town and the others who followed.  The book is available for viewing at several research institutions.
By the way, the Saint John Branch of the New Brunswick Genealogical Society, will meet Wednesday, January 25th, at 7:30 PM at the Lion's Den, Loch Lomond Villa. This month’s program will feature Marion Dunphy, showcasing the Saint John branch archival material as well as members sharing their best “genealogical helpful hint” when tracing your roots.  Meeting is open to anyone who is interested in genealogy.

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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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