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Book offers glimpse into Saint John businesses

The hurricane season with its rainstorms was certainly playing havoc with harvesting the crops, keeping many a farmer worrying that the vegetables would rot in the ground.

On Friday, the sun came out and a south wind dried the ground so Dad made plans for all hands to be available early Saturday morning

Once breakfast was finished, we headed out to jump on the sloven that was filled with baskets, pails, boxes, digging and topping tools plus a pile of jute bags.

Dad was a believer in crop rotation. This year, the garden was on the lower interval. The team slowly made their way with the steady rhythm of clip clop. As usual, we were warned to hang on and to keep our hands away from the wheels.

Once at the field, I was given the task of picking the cucumbers and tomatoes. Then I lugged the pumpkins and squash to form a huge pile.

Cliff pulled the brown potato tops and shook off as much mud as possible while Ken used a fork to place them in a pile for removal later. Digging potatoes meant no hacking, which was quite a knack.

The blue sky had started to turn dark so pressure was on to get the job completed. At noon, we grabbed a bite to eat during one of the trips to the barn to unload.

The rain held off and it was nearly dark by the time the last bag of "little" potatoes had been picked up. These would be cooked in the big outdoor iron pot and fed to the pigs.

Just as the last of the spuds rolled down the chute to the bin in the cellar, the heavens opened and the rain came pouring down.

The horses were hurriedly unhitched and put in the barn. They were given some extra oats along with hay.

Mum had been busy getting a lumberjack meal ready for us as we were all starving. Gramp helped himself to a second plate of baked beans and another piece of warm brown bread.

Giving compliments was not one of his habits but tonight he looked at Mum and said, "This is the best brown bread I have eaten in many a year. If you had been living in Golden Grove in 1868, you could have gone into competition with the Shaws selling their bread to the city people."

He went on to say, "The Shaws hauled the flour from Saint John to Golden Grove, baked the bread in one oven, then hauled the bread back to Saint John."

I wonder if Gramp knew, that by 1875, the Shaws had built a building in Saint John with five ovens capable of baking 9,000 loaves of bread a day, employed about 16 people, had two teams doing deliveries to not only the local area but to the river boats and trains for villages far and near in New Brunswick and even to Nova Scotia. In 1874, they purchased 14,000 barrels of flour chiefly of Virginia and Minnesota wheat.

I found out about Shaws Bakery and other Saint John businesses from St. John and its Business published in 1875, which can be viewed at the Saint John Public Library or read online at

Another baker was Thomas Rankine, born in Kincardine, Scotland in 1803. His bakery made more than 100 kinds of biscuits. Many a ship sailed out of Saint John with some of these biscuits.

Samuel Spiller, a native of Meredith, New Hampshire, came to Saint John by way of Palermo, Me. After finishing his apprenticeship in 1817, he took up employment with James Wood, the first manufacturer of edge tools in the Saint John area. In 1820, he set up shop on his own and soon married and had seven sons and three daughters. The Spiller name was recognized at expositions in London and Paris.

John Masson, a native of Morayshire, Scotland was a harness maker, coming to Saint John to start a business in 1868.

S. P. Osgood worked for several years in Bangor before coming to Saint John in 1848 to commence a marble business. He soon kept a large stock on hand of marble monuments and tablets. His Italian marble was in great demand.

Arthur Everitt was born in the County of Suffolk, England and arrived in Saint John in 1852 and a few years later went into a partnership in the Dry Goods business with Richard P. Butler of Dublin, Ireland. The two were experienced buyers of goods from the British Isles and the Continent. It is said that between them, they made 100 trips across the Atlantic in an 18-year period.

James McNichol was born in Tyrone County in 1807 and arrived here in 1831 as a cutter. After several working experiences, he and his son established the first Ready-Made Gents Clothing Store where by 1875, thirty-five hands were employed including several women.

Jeremiah and W. F. Harrison were born in Queens County and spent their early years on the farm. Jeremiah went to Newark, New Jersey to learn the carriage trade and opened a factory in Portland with his brother.

After a fire in 1857, they changed to doing a wholesale business in grain, tea and tobacco. They were involved in several investment ventures such as the River de Loup Railway and the Spring Hill Coal Mine.

Robert E. Puddington of Clifton brought his brother James into his retail Grocery business.

The history of newspapers is most interesting with details such as the St. John Daily News, which was started in 1838 by George Fenety being the first penny newspaper in the British Empire.

James Dunn's parents were from Londonderry, Ireland, while he was born in Hampton. He was involved in different ventures with several people but was probably best known with his shop of "Importers of Iron and Ships' Outfits"

William Hutchinson's shop of chronometers, watches, jewelry, mathematical, optical and nautical instruments was well frequented by many for several generations. Interestingly, he was the regulator of the City clocks and responsible for the dropping of the Time Ball at the Custom House at exactly one o'clock every week day.

St. John and its Business published in 1875, presents a glimpse into the windows of businesses in Saint John and the background of the hardworking men who established them, thus creating a treasure trove of information for the family researcher.

Read online at


Query 1620: Turner-Wade: Who were the parents and siblings of Sarah Jane Turner who was born Sept. 11, 1794, in Sussexvale, Kings County, New Brunswick, died April 26, 1878, in Nova Scotia, married Dr. Benjamin Wade who was born in 1773 in England and died in 1833 in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. By 1818, they were settled in Newport, N.S. Also seeking information on the date of Dr. Wade's arrival from England and the date of his marriage.

<>Sarah Wade

Query 1621: Knox - Forbes - Webb: Shaloie Knox was married in 1896. She was the daughter of Andrew Forbes and Mary E. Webb who were married circa 1862.

I seek the name of Mary E. Webb's father which possibly may have been either Noah or Benjamin Webb.

<>Joan Fairservice

Query 1622: McGowan - McDonald: Searching for info on Mary Agnes McGowan born August 1898, placed with St. Vincent's Orphanage in St. John in 1901, then raised as foster child by Mary Hanley McGowan in Havelock, widow of William McGowan. Mary Agnes was once told that her mother was Maud McDonald, but neither orphanage or provincial records have yielded any information.


Query 1623: Leblanc: I am trying to find information on the family of Placide Leblanc born 1845 who I found in the 1901 and 1911 census records for Wellington, Kent Co., New Brunswick. His wife was Celina born 30 Jan 1862, with children Ameda, Marie, Emma, Jude, Exzelda, Arthur, Albert and Arcade.


Query 1624: Walker - Fairweather: John Walker, the son of Thomas and Mary Walker, was born 1788 on Dickie Mountain, Norton Parish, Kings County, N.B., and was married to Mary Fairweather. They had a large family, one being a son Charles Augusts Walker. Can anyone provide information on the Walker family?

<>Darlyne C. McCullen

Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at:  Please put "Query" followed by the surnames in your query as the subject. For more information on submitting queries, visit

Ruby contributes a "Family History" column to the Telegraph-Journal on the third Saturday of the month.

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