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Ruby M. Cusack
New Brunswick Genealogy Books in my Christmas Stocking

Mum was stressed right out. Only five days until Christmas and she had so much to get accomplished. Jobs were being assigned to us all and since it was Saturday, we knew it would be a busy day and a late bedtime.

I was at the table with a box filled with wrapping paper that had been carefully removed from last yearís gifts and then folded. Since wrinkled wrapping paper would give away the secret of recycling, I was trying to smooth out all the wrinkles before I did Mumís wrapping.

Cliffís first task was to wash all the good china - and polish the silverware.

I donít know who was going to be looking at the curtains on this festive season but that didnít stop Mum from washing them by hand, rolling them in a towel to get out the moisture. Next came using the sad irons to press them.

I knew the look in Dadís eyes that meant he saw chipped paint on the living room door casing and was going to touch it up.

We did have time out to eat but it was a very skimpy meal of homemade bread smothered in molasses with gingerbread for desert. This was nothing like the meals we usually had.

The Christmas tree with the board for a base was brought in from the back porch and stood in the corner but things didnít look right as it was leaning. Mum was trying to choose the best side to put on view and kept turning it round and round.

Finally everything suited her and we started trimming it with a set of lights, and lots of red and green garland. The best part was taking out the ornaments wrapped in tissue paper. I especially liked the clip on birds with the silky tails.

The tinsel had to be put on one strand at a time.

The tree certainly looked beautiful when we stood back and looked at it. But I noticed the star had slipped and was crooked. Quick as a wink, I pushed the step ladder over as close as possible to the tree and climbed up and really stretched to reach the top and bend it over so I could straighten the star. Everything happened so fast, I did not know what happened but the crash frightened me along with the sound of breaking ornaments. I didnít remember falling off the ladder just that my arm was hurting.

Cliff grabbed the broom and dustpan and started sweeping up the broken ornaments.

As usual Mum stuck up for me when Dad stood up the tree and started to grumble about my clumsiness. She retorted that it was partly his fault as he had forgotten to tie the tree to the wall.

Mum put her arm around my shoulders and wiped the tears away with her apron and suggested I go to the rocking chair by the kitchen stove and escape all the trauma by reading from one of my favourite books for awhile.

Guess what? Much water has run under the bridge since that Christmas preparation time in the days of my childhood but reading a book is still my way of dealing with stress and difficult situations.

This week, my escape from reality was to a pile of books that I had been meaning to read.

One of them was ĎSome Loyalists and Othersí compiled by Isabel Louise Hill in 1976

Dust, clutter, an unswept floor and the need to wrap presents were forgotten as I read details on the lives filled with happiness as well as the trials and tribulations of so many different families.

It reminded me of opening Christmas presents - no way of knowing what information I was going to find on the next page.

As a child, we lived on the Colonel Joshua (Judge) Upham land and possibly in the second house he built there to share with his second wife, Mary Chandler. The following information interested me:  Isabella, the eldest daughter of Colonel John Murray, married Daniel Bliss ... Their home was "Belmont" a large grant eight miles down river from Fredericton. Mrs. Bliss brought up two young daughters of her deceased sister Elizabeth, the first wife of Colonel Joshua Upham, Justice of the Supreme Court of New Brunswick. Probably one of the nieces was Elizabeth Upham who died in Fredericton, in her 74th year. "A most distinguished woman, and one who had great influence in the government."

Major Coffin bought the rights to 5,000 acres at the mouth of the Nerepis River that had been granted in 1765 to Beamsley Perkins Glasier. He changed the name of the Manor to Alwington Manor. On his frequent trips to England he brought back agricultural implements and stock not only for his own farm but for his tenants and neighbours. He was a hands on farmer and took his produce to Market Slip by sloop. One might say he was not afraid of getting calluses on his hands nor afraid to fight a duel. He died on his estate in 1838 at age eighty-two.

A little bit of history that often confuses the novice researcher concerns Sunbury County, Nova Scotia which became the Province of New Brunswick.

As I glanced up to rest my eyes from reading, the cover of ďImages of  our PastĒ Historic Sussex by Elaine Ingalls Hogg with a team of white horses and a surrey caught my eye.

I picked up the book and learned that some English pioneers homesteaded in the Sussex area about ten years before the Loyalists arrived. William McLeod, formerly from the Isle of Skye, is believed to be the first white man to settle in Sussex Vale but possibly the Spaniards developed trade with the Native population as early as 1611.

Problems to the settlers came in many ways, such as the Hessian fly of 1798 which destroyed fields of grain. The heavy rain in 1854 caused havoc with damage to buildings, farm animals and flooding.

The Rev. Andrew Donald (1806-1890), known as the walking parson, was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland and came to New Brunswick in 1843. By the way he preached in the Salina Kirk.

By 1904, Sussex had a mineral water factory, an iron foundry, a furniture factory, three carriage shops, fifteen stores, six churches, and hotels.

I enjoy looking at the pictures of yesteryear so spent lots of time gazing at the 150 Sussex images.

Although many of the young men of New Brunswick became involved with farming, others went looking for work in the shipbuilding yards or joined a crew to sail around the world.

ďMasters of SailĒ by Stanley T. Spicer is filled with information on the wooden square-rigged vessels and the men who built and sailed them.

Between 1820 and 1880, nearly 6,000 vessels were built in New Brunswick.

Simonds, White and Hazen formed a trading business at the mouth of the Saint John River and brought carpenters, coopers and tanners.

Being a farmerís daughter, I knew nothing about building a wooden vessel so this chapter proved very interesting to me and I learned a lot about a shipbuilding yard.

Time certainly slips by when enjoying a good book. Before I knew it, supper time was close at hand and I had not prepared anything.

As Christmas Eve approaches, children will be dreaming of a sock filled with electronic games but my wish is for a New Brunswick book in my stocking.

Merry Christmas!

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