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Single Maritime women sought jobs in Boston

Christmas was certainly shaping up. Mum had finished making the fruit cakes, cookies, date squares, honey bars and mince pies.

Gord had found the perfect tree in the upper pasture. Once he had it home, he nailed a board on the bottom for a stand. The tree was now securely tied in a corner with a piece of binder twine, ready to be made the center of attention.

Cliff and I were getting more excited by the minute and hoped Mum would let us trim the tree tonight but instead the adults sat and talked of Christmases long gone.

Gramp told of how his mother waited for Aunt Nell to come home from Montreal where she was a nurse.

Gram remembered the Christmas, her only brother was absent for the goose dinner as he had gone to seek his fortune in the Yukon Gold Rush.

Dad made quite a story out of a trip to get Aunt Ethel who was teaching in Cumberland Bay. The Model A had no heater so she sat in the back seat wrapped up in a buffalo robe.

Mum was very serious as she told of the disappointment of her grandmother when her daughter could not get time off as a domestic, working in Boston, to come home for Christmas. It seemed the “lady of the house” needed her during the festive season.

In the publication “Obligation and Opportunity”- Single Maritime Women in Boston, 1870-1930  the author Betsy Beattie examines the lives of single Maritime women who left to work in Boston between 1870 and 1930, using oral interviews, diaries, letters, written recollections, census data, and other historical sources.

In the 1880 census more than four thousand single women from the Maritime Provinces were living in Boston and in the 1910 census there were more than seven thousand single English-Canadian women living there.

Phebe Ann Sinclair of Flume Ridge, NB sought out the YWCA for lodging and guidance in finding a place where a job might be available in Boston.

Lulu Pearl Dempsey, from Stonehaven, New Brunswick found employment in a chocolate factory and took courses in the evening.

Many of the girls chose to be domestics in the homes of the upper class or in institutions, hotels and boarding houses. Keeping house, cooking and sewing were skills the girls had learned at home. Those who chose the domestic way were probably better off financially as they did not need to pay board and rent plus the homes they lived in were far superior to what they could afford. Actually having indoor plumbing, running water, gas lights and a beautiful home appealed to many a farm girl. But some felt a stigma attached to wearing “an apron” and time off was a rarity.

Others worked long twelve hour days in textile factories or as seamstresses for six days a week, but were not able to build up much of a nest egg after paying their living expenses.

Attending church provided an opportunity for social life. Alice Peck of Nova Scotia met John Edgar McKay at the Adventist Church in Roxbury. But the 1901 marriage was short lived as John died four years later, leaving a young son.

Maritime girls often went to the Boston area to take their training to be nurses.

As the Christmas season approached and the carols rang through the frosty winter air in Boston, many a tear was shed by a lonely girl thinking of loved ones and home. While in the Maritimes, tears could be seen in the eyes of those who were saddened by the thought of the vacant chair of the daughter or sister who was living in Boston and who would not be sitting at the family Christmas dinner table.

Query 1639
Robinson - Graves - MacKenzie - Price - Cripps: I am in search of photographs for the following two New Brunswick couples - George Hiram and Mary Ann Robinson Graves Westmorland County and Isaac Prall and Mary Ann MacKenzie Price of Havelock, Kings County. I am also looking for anyone who is working on the Cripps family of New Brunswick.

Query 1640
Huse: Does anyone know of a person by the name of E. L. Huse who may have been in the Maple Ridge, York County area of New Brunswick, or who lived anywhere in the Maritimes.  Time frame unknown.
Sharon Connor
4200 Route 104
Hawkins Corner, NB, E6E 1T4
Telephone (506) 463-2409

Query 1641
Strang - Seeking information on Cecelia Strang who married  Gabriel Strang -Loyal American Regiment circa 1794. She died in Saint John in1831
Richard Strang

Query 1642
Griffiths - Scribner: William John Griffiths was born about 12 Apr1834 and assumed to be in Saint John, New Brunswick where he died 06 Feb 1908. He married Sarah Jane Scribner on 24 Nov 1855 by Rev. G. Hennigar, Wesleyan missionary of Saint John where they raised a family of nine with only the twins of 1858 passing on at the age of 3 weeks.  Would like to hear from any descendants.
G J Provost, Attleboro MA, USA

Query 1643
Gregg - Frodsham - Murray - Fanjoy - Finley - Spicer: I am looking for information on Horatio Nelson Gregg 1848 - 1924 who married Emma Amelia Spicer and they had 12 children. John Frodsham from Carlisle, England, died 1933 was married to Charlotte Henderson, who died in 1924. Thomas Robinson Murray, born in 1878, married Maude Emma Finley, who was born in 1883.
Jessica Murray-Ruef

Query 1644
Grames - Grimes - Whitney - Donahee: Looking for any information on Grames - Grimes family who lived in Kent County, New Brunswick circa 1875. James Grames married Janet Whitney and they had a daughter Margaret who married Wm.Donahee of Bathurst

Query 1645
Lewis - Warnock: Capt. Edmund Lewis and Annabelle Warnock married in Saint John, New Brunswick in1860, Capt. Lewis was lost at sea. His widow Annabelle moved to Massachusetts  area in later years.
Erika Bennett

Query 1647
Coleman - Stewart - Vincent: I am researching the Coleman family who lived in Portland Parish,  Saint John. Warren Coleman born circa 1830 married Sabri Stewart.  Their daughter Myrtle married William Aaron Vincent from Queens County and they moved to Saint John. Any information on the Coleman and Vincent family would be appreciated.
Query 1648
Williams - McDonald - Bartlett: Joseph H. Williams son of George Williams and Pamela McDonald, born in Kings County 19 Apr 1850 married Jane Bartlett of Kings County. At least one child Talbert Medley born 04 Oct.1878 in Saint John. Seeking all information on family, wife, children.
Steven Williams

Query 1649
Ward - Webber - Kimball - Kenny: Seek information on William Ward, native of Ireland, married in 1836 to Elizabeth Webber 1810 - 1868, native of New Brunswick, daughter of James Webber and Sarah Kimball and granddaughter of Richard Kimball and Sarah Kenny
Earl Ward

Query 1650
Donovan - Wiseman: I am looking for information about Daniel Donovan and Mary Wiseman who had a daughter, Anne.

Query 1651
Ryan: Seek information on William Ryan born in 1816 in Ireland came to New Brunswick in 1834 and settled in Moncton Parish, Westmorland County. He married Bridget - born 1818 in New Brunswick and they had children 1) James Ryan 1843, 2) Patrick Ryan 1845, 3) Michael Ryan 1848  4) John Ryan born 1850 and possibly others.

Query 1652
Bishop - Murray: I am looking for information about the Bishop and Murray families who both settled in Chipman. 

Query 1653
Douglas - McCutcheon: Seeking parents of Charles Douglas, born 8 Aug 1851 in St. John County, New Brunswick. Father is listed as Archibald. No mother named. He married Ann McCutcheon on 15 Dec 1880 in Queens County. Removed to Maine and died 12 Jan 1928 in Calais, Maine.
Devon Williams
27630 Gaylord Rd.
Walker, LA 70785, USA

Query 1654
James - Wheaton - Whitney - Callahan: Robert Willett James, born 17 Jan 1862 in Portland, New Brunswick was married to Effie Wheaton from Wheaton Settlement near Moncton on 17 Nov 1887 and he died 13 Jan 1932 in Westmorland County, New Brunswick. I need documentation as to his relationship to Benjamin James (1738-1800), Sarah Whitney (1752-?), Robert James(1769-1842) and Isabella Callahan(1777-1822).
Ian Steeves

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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