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Coal mining a prosperous industry in Chipman and Minto

Gram was down with the grippe. While taking to her bed suffering from chills for about two weeks, Gramp seemed to be continuously carrying in scuttles of coal for the feeder stove in the front hall, to heat the upstairs bedroom.

On Saturday morning, Cliff and I went to visit Gram, as Aunt Ethel was staying with her while Gramp and Aunt Sadie went to town.

To be helpful, we carried in the heavy scuttle filled with lumps of coal.

This got me thinking as to why certain kinds of rocks would burn. I wondered where they came from so I asked Aunt Ethel. The school marm in her surfaced quickly as she explained about fossil fuels. She went on to tell us the coal they were using probably came from either Chipman or Minto.

If only Douglas H. Higgins had been at Gram's, I would have heard not only about the coal mining, the leases, the first coal mines, the companies who set up the businesses of coal mining and other industries in the Minto and Chipman area but lots of details on the families who were responsible for running and working the mines.

If he had walked us along the many roads, giving a brief biography of the residents, he probably would have told us:

* John Yeamans served as a member of the Legislative Assembly for 31 years, starting in 1785. Eight children accompanied him to New Brunswick in 1783 after the Revolutionary War.

* Charles Miller Sr. was born in Ireland in 1807 and married Eliza McClure.

* The O'Learys and the Coakleys mined coal along a small stream which ran through their properties as early as 1870.

* Eric Welton was bitten by a mad dog and died of hydrophobia. His wife, the former Elizabeth Tapley, then married Louis Sleep.

* Alexander McMichael Thurrott was born in Kent County and taught school at Salmon Creek, where he met his future wife Mary Jane Porter. He later opened a store. About 1900, he acquired a wood boat that he used to transport coal and lumber to Saint John. On the return trip, he brought back groceries to stock the shelves in the store.

* Harvey Whelton was one of the first full-time mine operators in the Minto District.

* In 1825, 66 chaldrons of coal were raised at Grand Lake. This increased to 3,537 in 1835.

* In 1834 and 1835, licences to raise coal were issued to Andrew Fleming, David Sypher, Patrick McHugh, Michael Dilton, T. Samuel Beauchant and William Robinson with Moses Perley and Peter Yeomans each receiving 50-year leases to raise coal.

* Thomas Cox, W. Robertson, John McAllister and 326 other freeholders and inhabitants of Grand Lake in Queens County as well as other parts of the county petitioned the government in 1853. They had opened about 100 mines or pits near the surface of the soil and worked them as their own for about 65 years without any disturbance from the Crown until the fall of 1848 when claims were set up and attempted to be enforced by certain supposed Licenses of the Crown. The petition goes on to explain the petitioners had been deprived of taking coal from the surface of their own soil to answer their needy wants and the licencees harass and restrain the petitioners, regulate the price and have sole monopoly in their own hands.

Some might refer to Douglas H. Higgins as a scuttlebutt, since he gained much of his information by listening to the older people of the community and his fellow workmen. Fortunately for the genealogical researcher, he penned their knowledge, his own memories as well as his years of research, into his book, "History of Coal Mining and Other Industries in the Minto & Chipman Areas 1783-1978", which was published in 1979.


History of the Parish of Chipman by Rev. Frank Baird

By the way, Today, Feb 20, 2010, I have reached a milestone - as this is Column Number 500.  My first column was published on January 02, 1998. 

I wish to thank all those who have contributed queries, answered queries, willingly shared their information and help in so many ways, and for the messages encouraging me to continue telling the stories of growing up on a farm, sharing the adventures Cliff and I experienced, as well as giving readers a glimpse into an extended rural family. 

Hopefully the genealogical sources, I have given, have been helpful in your research. 

Ruby M. Cusack

Query 1708
Stage Coach Inns: I am seeking pictures of Ketchum's Inn at Hammond River Bridge (Nauwigewauk), Haye's Inn and Baxter's Inn at Norton. Also interested in hearing from anyone who has any accounts of stagecoach travel in New Brunswick.

Query 1709
McKenzie: William McKenzie, son of Kenneth and Catherine McKenzie, who were possibly married in 1829 in Kirkcudbright, Scotland, was baptised in Sydney, Australia, in 1842 at age three years. The Baptism certificate states he was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, on Dec. 31, 1839. William also had several siblings - Agnes b. 1831, Hugh b. 1833, Edward b. 1835 and Kenneth b. 1837 and all may have been born in Saint John. I think their religion was Presbyterian. Kenneth McKenzie Sr. may have been a mariner, and has been described elsewhere as a merchant and ship's captain. Also, an old family story goes that he was lost at sea on a ship called the Selina. In 1853 Catherine McKenzie remarried in Sydney, Australia. Can anyone provide a record of the baptisms of the children or information as to why the family was in New Brunswick or what happened to Kenneth McKenzie Sr.?
Email Roger:

Query 1710
Miller - Regan - McCormick - McGinley: James Henry (Spud) Miller married Mary Regan in Saint John in 1865. He died in 1918 and is buried in Fernhill Cemetery. I am interested in finding the names of their parents and when they emigrated from England. Also if anyone provide the names of the parents of Ralph McCormick and Bridget McGinley who married circa 1825 and immigrated from Ireland in 1831 and settled on Kennebecasis Island and died there.

Query 1711
Warren - Hudson: James Warren born circa 1847 in New Brunswick and died 03 Jul 1913 St. Nicholas River, Kent County, NB at age 68. He married Jessy Hudson prior to 1872 who was born about 1848 in New Brunswick and died 10 Aug 1921 in Kent County, NB. The 1881 Census lists James Warren 34, Jessy 33, widow Mary Hudson 77, Mary 5, Agnes 3, David 1. They later had William Hudson, Ernest, and Minnie Belle. Who were the parents of James Warren?
Email Carol:

Query 1712
Brown - Vail: George Edmund McLeod Brown was born circa 1849 on Pince Edward Island to Isaac Brown and Fanny Vail, although I have not been able to document this event. In a newspaper, here in Australia, I have tracked information of a brother, Palmerston Brown, to Quaco in1875. In another paper from1879 it states that George Edmund Brown was a native of St Johns N.B. Did Isaac and Fanny have more children? Did they all emigrate to Australia?
Spiro Zantiotis, Australia

Query 1713
Ives: John Ives, a Loyalist, came to New Brunswick in 1783. According to his death announcement in the New Brunswick Chronicle, he died April 6, 1804 at age 56 and was a Master Carpenter Ordnance in St. John. I am interested in the names of his family and any information about their lives.
Frank Reha

Query 1714
McAfee - Hanlin: Seeking information on John McAfee who married Margaret Hanlin and lived in Salt Springs, New Brunswick. Two sons were William T. and Robert Milton, who was born there in 1865. Was John McAfee from Colonsay Isle or Invarraray, Scotland or was he born in Canada?
Sandra Hamilton

Query 1715
Hamilton - Fraser - McFadden: Who were the parents of John Hamilton born June 13, 1820 in Ireland, married circa 1845 in Saint John, New Brunswick to Jane Frazer/Fraser, born in Ireland, Aug. 12, 1825 and died Saint John Nov 30, 1895. John died in Saint John July 17, 1899. Parents may have been Oliver Hamilton and Jane McFadden.
Maud Hamilton
Culpeper, VA, USA

Query 1716
Burns - Campbell - Cahill: Margaret Burns Campbell married John Cahill Dec. 31, 1834 in Andover, Carleton Co., New Brunswick. The witnesses were Adaer Baird and Aurie Jean Baird. Margaret's son Patrick Campbell was born Dec. 1833 in Bairdsville, New Brunswick. Is Adaer Baird connected to Bairdsville, N.B. and is he related to Margaret?
Patricia Campbell Cutting
Manchester, NH, USA

Query 1717
Jordan - Fowler - Melick: Is Margaret Melick, born 1798, who married John Jordan, a sister to Rachel Melick, born, 1804, who married James Rulof Fowler?

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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