Return to Ruby Cusack dot com Home Page
Stephen Humbert

Playing the organ and singing was Mum's way of relaxing after a busy day of doing household chores. I couldn't carry a tune in a basket but I certainly loved to listen to her voice floating through the house as she played the organ and sang hymns. But tonight there was no music as one of the pedal straps on the organ had broken.

After the barn chores were completed, Dad cut a strip of carpet, threaded a darning needle with heavy twine and attempted to make a new pedal strap. He was sewing it in place while lying on the floor with his head almost inside the organ when Gramp walked into the living room and watched him but gave no advice or help.

He seemed to be thinking before he spoke to Dad. "When I first saw you this morning, you were turning the handle on the separator, next you hooked up the team and mowed oats, then you drove the car up on some blocks and changed the oil and, just before dark, you were mending the fence in the night pasture. Now you are an organ fixer. It seems to me you could be classified as a jack-of-all-trades."

Saint John's Loyalist born, Stephen Humbert was certainly a jack of all trades and really a master of many.

From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada, I learned . He continued working in his father's trade, but soon developed interests in shipping and general merchandising.

As a Methodist, Stephen Humbert took an active part in the organization of the first Methodist society in Saint John, founded in 1791 and preached many a sermon when an ordained minister was absent.

He was appointed a captain in the Saint John County regiment in 1805 and served throughout the War of 1812, he sat as alderman on the Saint John Common Council, served as a member of the New Brunswick House of Assembly for the city of Saint John, and was in a very dangerous position as a preventive officer, being the head of a commission to seize by force U.S. vessels engaged in offshore smuggling of plaster of Paris between New Brunswick and the United States.

He also built a book and music shop on the lower floor of his home, located on the South Market Wharf in Saint John.

In October 1796 he advertised the opening of a singing school in a large upper room on King Street. There he taught singing techniques and the rudiments of music theory.

Although his endeavours were many, he is perhaps best known as a singing-school leader, a composer, and the compiler of the The Union Harmony which he had printed in 1801, the first English tunebook to be published in Canada. Some of his works bore distinctive titles, such as St. John, Gagetown, Sussex Vale, Halifax, Carleton Side, and Frederickton.

A copy of Humbert's second edition (1816) of Union Harmony: or, British America's Sacred Vocal Musick of 316 pages is in the Special Collections of the Saint John Free Public Library and at the New Brunswick Legislative Library in Fredericton.

Humbert appears to have continued conducting periodic singing schools in Saint John until at least 1840 when he founded a sacred music society.

By his first wife Martha, he had at least two sons and three daughters. His second marriage was Oct. 25, 1818, in Boston to Mary Adams, nee Wyer, and they had at least three daughters. He died in Saint John in 1849 at age 82.

Richard Hornsby is interested in hearing from you, if you have any information on Loyalist, Stephen Humbert of Saint John, especially on his musical life and activities. He can be reached at
Centre for Musical Arts, 9 Bailey Drive, UNB, Fredericton, NB, Canada, E3A 5A3.

Query 1560
Campbell - Beckett:  I am looking for the grave of Ephraim Campbell Jr., son of Ephraim Campbell, Sr. born in 1857 in Saint John and who died in Somerville, Massachusets in December 1917 and his wife Louisa Mae Beckett Campbell. The Campbells were blacksmiths and lived on Carmarthen Street in the 1870s. According to a relative, they may be buried in a cemetery near the St. John River. Can you help me find my great grandfather?
357 Delaware Avenue   
Albany, New York,  USA, 12209

Query 1561
Brown: Charles Brown, who was born in 1835 in Saint John, New Brunswick, son of  Thomas Pearson  Brown and Hannah Disbrow came to Australia. Can anyone provide information on his siblings and parents?

Query 1562
Letters: I am working on a project which celebrates some of the affectionate bonds that shape our life stories and journeys. I am interested in handwritten letters between grandparents and grandchildren, and also best friends, particularly older letters. 
E-mail or telephone (506) 763-3226.

Query 1563
Biggar - Hayter: Searching for parents and date of birth of  Walter Biggar, born in New Brunswick circa 1784 and resided in Studholm Parish of Kings County.  His wife was Hannah Hayter.

Query 1564
Hanley - Carter - McGlone - Ryan - Regan - McGowan - Flynn - Quirk: Patrick and Bridget Hanley raised their seven children in White's Mountain, Havelock Parish, Kings County, New Brunswick during the mid 1800s. Their eldest child, John, born circa1842, married Margaret Carter, Jane Hanley married Patrick McGlone, a widower from White's Mountain, James my great grandfather was their third child, Michael Hanley married Catherine Ryan and after her death, married Mary Regan (O'Regan), Mary Hanley married William McGowan, Margaret Hanley married Owen Flynn and Murtagh (Mert or Murtha) married Annie Therese Quirk. I wish to correspond with any of their descendants, or anyone researching this Hanley family, in order to learn more of our family history.
16 Heritage Court,
Fall River, NS
Canada, B2T 1E7

New and Used Genealogical and Historical books of
New Brunswick for sale.

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
Back to Home of  rubycusack dot com