Ruby M. Cusack
Ladies Reveal Their Marks On New Brunswick History
Caroline Rainsford Winslow taken circa 1865
New Brunswick Museum – Musée du Nouveau-Brunswick, www.nbm-mnb.ca
Jane Winslow; Bradshaw Winslow; Norman Winslow; Edith
John Coffin Winslow; Francis Winslow; Byron Winslow; Pauline
Constance Winslow; Wentworth Winslow taken circa 1888.
Brunswick Museum – Musée du Nouveau-Brunswick, www.nbm-mnb.ca -
When Cliff and I were leaving for school, Mum was busy kneading the dough for the daily batch of bread.
She said her “I love you” and added, “Wear your rubbers as it is going
to warm up and rain will probably be falling when it is time to come
I had other ideas for my footwear. I quietly slipped into the closet and
removed the new shoes that were for Easter, along with the new sailor
collared blue coat with matching hat. Then I beat it out the door.
It really made me feel good when a couple of the girls complimented me on my attire.
The sun shone brightly through the windows of our one room school until
about two o’clock when the sky darkened and the rain came pouring down.
When school was dismissed, I took off running. I held my hat under my
coat and tried to jump over the puddles.
By the time, I reached our driveway, the rain was coming down in buckets and the road was a running brook.
I really didn’t know what happened but suddenly I was lying flat on my
face with my coat covered in mud and my hat was blowing across the
field. Then I realized my nose was bleeding and I had a big cut on the
palm of my hand.
The tears were flowing as I rushed into the house in search of Mum but
she wasn’t in the kitchen. I remembered she had said she was going to
house clean the bedroom. In my rush to seek comfort, I forgot about
removing my footwear and rushed to the bedroom and pushed open the door
to hear the falling of a can of paint from the step ladder, which
splashed everywhere, even into her box of clippings, letters and
her diary that she had been saving for years.
Mum’s first priority was to care for my bleeding and to get me some dry
clothes. Then she took cloths to wipe up the paint. Next she checked the
papers in the box.
One group of papers was held together by a straight pin and seemed
yellowed with age. I tried to read the document but there were too many
big words. Mum told me it was a “Will” in which the person had decided
who was to get their property and household items.
I got to thinking and wondered if women could have wills or was it something that could be done by only men.
If computers had been around, I would have been able to access Wallace Hale's Early New Brunswick Probate, 1785-1835 on the website of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick where 140 Wills written by women can be found.
The Will of Margaret Phair
of the Parish of Fredericton, York County, Widow of Andrew Phair was
dated 5 March 1820, proved 26 October 1833. Her only son William Barry
Phair to receive £518 17s. 4d. Her two daughters, Mary Barry and Harriot
Margaret Phair to receive the residue of her estate. Orphan
grandchildren, Frances Sophia Margaret Station, Isabella Stratton, and
Francis Andrew Henry Stratton to reside with and be supported by her
formerly of Newport in the State of Rhode Island but now a widow of
Saint Andrews, wrote her Will on September 07, 1808. Her daughter Amy
Campbell, a widow of St. Andrews, to receive all real and personal
estate. If her son John Gardner, her brother, should call upon her, she
was to pay him 50 dollars.
of the Parish of Fredericton, York County, Spinster whose Will was
dated 31 October 1832 left her Niece, Sarah Jane Kenah "(who is now
labouring under a painful disease but who may still be restored by our
Almighty Father)" her entire estate. Her Aunt Allen and sister Elizabeth
each to receive an annuity of £5. Mentions sisters Charlotte, Margaret,
Sarah, Fanny and an unnamed brother, nephews Henry and William Kenah
each £5. Brother's son John and his daughter Ann £5. Nieces Emmer
Carleton Kenah and Charlotte Allen Kenah each £100. Sabina Grant, an old
servant, annuity of £2 for comfortable clothing. Several others are
mentioned as well as directions if Niece Sarah Jane Kenah dies.
The Will dated 18 March 1808, proved 13 August 1808 of Sarah Allison
of the Parish of Maugerville, Sunbury County, widow left her Nephew
Theodorus Clows her dwelling and lot purchased from Stephen Pine in
Maugerville, and £300 at age 21, her furniture, cattle, utensils and
implements. The sum of £40 to be put out at interest and the interest
paid annually to her servant woman Peg. Several others are named.
The Will of Sylvia Johnson
of the City of Saint John, widow of Gabriel Johnson is the only
one of a black woman to appear in the early probate records of New
Brunswick. It was dated 14 January 1801, proved 19 August 1801. She
willed a lot of ground with the house thereon on James Street in the
City, purchased of John Chubb to her Godchild Sylvia Bryant, a black
woman, the daughter of Thomas Bryant, of City of Saint John. Residue of
estate to Robert Jenkins, black man, Saint John, carpenter. The Codicil
dated 5 May 1801 bequeathed household furniture and wearing apparel to
Hannah Jenkins, the wife of Robert Jenkins.
The Atlantic Canada Virtual Archives-Showcasing Atlantic Canada's rich archival sources - features collections of digitized documents and images.
Loyalist Women in New Brunswick, 1783-1827
features diaries, letters, poems, reminiscences, and legal records
relating to Loyalist women in colonial New Brunswick, including women in
three generations of the Winslow family. Their stories and letters
reveal the challenges that faced Loyalist refugees as they struggled to
reestablish life as they had known it in their former homeland.
Also, information on the life of Deborah Cottnam, Polly Dibblee, Sarah Frost, Hannah Ingraham, and Sylvia Johnson.
I was interested in Deborah Cottnam and a bit surprised to find she
taught reading, writing, arithmetic, and French, as well as dancing and
sewing in Halifax. In 1786 the Cottnams moved their “Female Academy” to
Saint John. During the 1786-87 academic year, the Cottnams had among
their charges, seven-year-old Mary Winslow, the daughter of Edward
Winslow, Jr., a prominent Loyalist who had settled in Fredericton.
Thanks to Stephen Davidson, I learned much about the life of Polly Jarvis Dibblee
who came to Saint John in May of 1783. Four years after making her home
here, she wrote a letter filled with her frustrations and despair to
her brother William Jarvis who had chosen to go to Pimlico, England. She
wrote, “May you never experience such heart piercing troubles as I have
and still labor under -- you may depend on it that the sufferings of
the poor Loyalists are beyond all possible description.” The black cloud
of sorrow continued to follow the family and struck a mighty blow with
her husband ending his life with a razor.
Diary of Sarah Frost,
is one of several versions of the diary, this one being from Kingston
and the Loyalists of 1783 by Walter Bates, Saint John, 1889. Sarah
commenced writing on May 25, 1783 —“ I left Lloyd’s Neck with my family
and went on board the Two Sisters, commanded by Capt. Brown, for a
voyage to Nova Scotia with the rest of the Loyalist sufferers. This
evening the captain drank tea with us. He appears to be a very clever
gentleman We expect to sail as soon as the wind shall favor. We have
very fair accommodation in the cabin, although it contains six families,
besides our own. There are two hundred and fifty passengers on board.”
Her final entry was written on Sunday, June 29, 1783 “This morning it
looks very pleasant on the shore. I am just going ashore with my
children to see how I like it. Later — It is now afternoon and I have
been ashore. It is, I think, the roughest land I ever saw. It beats
Short Rocks, indeed, I think, that is nothing in comparison; but this is
to be the city, they say! We are to settle here, but are to have our
land sixty miles farther up the river. We are all ordered to land
to-morrow, and not a shelter to go under.”
Over the years, the ladies have used the pen to document many
events. Their hoarding tactics have played a major role in preserving
the history of New Brunswick and in so doing a legacy has been left to
our generation and generations to follow.