The Irish Catholic Settlers of Johnville,
Carleton County, N.B
As a girl growing up in the country, Mounties in red coats, wide-brimmed hats and tall boots were only pictures in books. It wasn't until the early 1950s, when Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip paid a visit to Saint John, that I saw a real Mountie. As the Royals made their way into the Admiral Beatty Hotel, they were flanked by red-coated horsemen.

In August, we took our grandchildren to attend the official opening of the Fundy Trail. I watched as many children flocked around a RCMP officer on her horse. The teacher in me wanted to sit those children down and tell them the story of the first female constable of the North West Mounted Police in the Canadian North.

You are probably asking why I would want to teach this lesson? Sit quietly and I will tell you the story.

Patrick Ryan came from Ireland in 1835 and married Ann Holden, the daughter of James Holden and Margaret Kehoe of the St. Andrews area, on July 3, 1850, in St. Andrew's Church. By the spring of 1867, when their daughter Mary Eleanor was born, this couple was living in Johnville with five children: James E., Andrew, Margaret Ann, Honora and John.

On Aug. 20, 1869, their youngest child, Catherine Ryan, made her entry into the family. She grew up to be a tall, broad-shouldered, regal, determined lady with an appearance that commanded attention and respect. She had inherited enough of the Ryan wanderlust to know that Johnville was too small a world for her.

What started out as a simple train trip to visit relatives in the western United States took her to the world of the Yukon. She became the first female constable of the North West Mounted Police in the Canadian North.

This is just one of many family genealogies in "An Honourable Independence The Irish Catholic Settlers of Johnville, Carleton County, N.B." written by William Patrick Kilfoil and his daughter Mary Kilfoil McDevitt.

This 400-page publication is a genealogical history of the founding families of Johnville, based primarily on the church records of St. John the Evangelist.

John Sweeney, Bishop of Saint John, obtained a tract of land in northern Carleton County in the spring of 1860. Almost exclusively, the men and women who responded to Sweeny's call for settlers were Irish immigrants, or their children. Many were from Saint John, but others came from Maine, Massachusetts, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Ontario.

The land was free to any man over 18 who didn't already own a plot. Certain conditions prevailed: The petitioner had to live on the land for a year, clear at least five acres in that time, plant at least three acres and erect a log or frame dwelling no smaller than 16 by 20 feet. He was also required to do road work to the value of $60, at his convenience, within four years. Those terms having been met, the land was his, free and clear.

The settlement was named Johnville, in honour of the bishop who dreamed of it, long before it became a reality.

Years of research have gone into the families of Allison, Barry, Bohan, Bowen, Boyd, Brennan, Bryson, Burke, Burns, Callaghan, Cammack, Campbell, Canavan, Carroll, Carter, Casey, Clancy, Collins, Colton, Commins, Connors, Conroy, Corbett, Corcoran, Corrigan, Coyle, Crain, Cronin, Crossin, Cullen, Cummings, Daley, Dawson, Deignan, Denny, Dineen, Doherty, Donahoe, Donnelly, Donovan, Dooley, Doolin, Doucette, Doyle, Dugan, Eagan, Faraher, Foley, Freeman, Furlong, Gallagher, Gillespie, Gorey, Gormley, Goulden, Guest, Haley, Hall, Hannigan, Hennessey, Higgins, Holleran, Howell, Hurley, Irvin, Kane, Kearney, Keenan, Kelly, Kilfoil, Lapointe, Leonard, Maddox, Mahon, Mahoney, Malloy, McAdam, Mcallister, McAuliffe, McCann, McCartney, McCormack, McCready, McCullough, McDermott, McDonald, McElroy, McCaffigan, McGinley, McGowan, McGrath, McGroty, McGuire, McIsaac, McKim, McLaughlin, McNeill, McSheffrey, McVane, Meade, Mitchell, Murphy, Naughton, O'Brien, O'Connor, O'Donnell, O'Keefe, O'Neil, Owens, Pickard, Pierce, Quinn, Quirk, Ready, Riley, Ryan, Shea, Shepard, Shugrue, Sloan, Staten, Stitham, Sullivan, Sutton, Sweeney, Tucker, Vautour and Vicars.

Mary McDevitt closes her editorial note with these words: "Genealogical research is never done. It is cumulative and ongoing, like an endless quilt, each generation charged not only with adding pieces, but with maintaining those that were already there, and searching for those that have been lost."

"An Honourable Independence" can be purchased from Mary McDevitt, Diocese of Saint John Archives, 1 Bayard Dr., Saint John, N.B., Canada, E2L 3L5. E-mail to for more information (Out of print but revised edition available in mid August of 2012)

Johnville: The Centennial Story of an Irish Settlement

       In 1962, William Kilfoil, wrote "Johnville: The Centennial Story of an Irish Settlement", documenting the history of his ancestral home.  This year, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the ecclesiastical parish of Johnville,  William Killfoil’s daughter, Mary McDevitt, has had this original book re-printed, along with a series of  reminiscences he titled "Remembering Johnville", about his experiences growing up there - which he wrote in 1993 for his children and grandchildren.

     For William Kilfoil and his wife, "Johnville" was always more than a place on a map; it was a place in the heart.  It was home, in a very visceral way, its history, an integral part of the culture and traditions of the place.

     Mr. Kilfoil’s work chronicles the heroic efforts of the men and women who shaped the community of Johnville, and whose lives in turn, were shaped by it.  It is a story of sacrifice and back-breaking toil, but moments of grace as well - of joy and laughter, and the redeeming power of faith, family and friends, and of the land itself.  It is a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit."
    For copies of the book "Johnville: The Centennial Story of an Irish Settlement" - originally published in 1962 - and recently re-printed -with extras, so to speak - available for immediate mailing from Mary McDevitt, Diocese of Saint John Archives, 1 Bayard Dr., Saint John, N.B., Canada, E2L 3L5 or E-mail to for more information.
By the way the revised edition of "An Honourable Independence", the 1996 publication by William Kilfoil and his daughter Mary McDevitt will be available by mid August from Mary McDevitt, Diocese of Saint John Archives, 1 Bayard Dr., Saint John, N.B., Canada, E2L 3L5. E-mail to
for more information.

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Queries have been grouped together to cover the year 1998 and can be viewed at Queries-1998

Ruby Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to Ruby at When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.

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