A rough road The Journals of James Manning and James Innis shed light on the struggle to build the Baptist faith in New Brunswick Mention Easter to children and their first thought is of the Easter Bunny. It seems I am older than this popular rabbit as he wasn't around delivering goodies when I was a kid.
My dresses were made by Gram and her sister Tillie, usually from the discarded outfits of Auntiel. But for Easter, one was purchased from the Eaton's catalogue. I wore out the catalogue pages, looking at those beautiful clothes, trying to decide on the one I wanted.
To us, Easter was eating as many boiled eggs at breakfast time as our stomach could handle and going to the Kirk. This was not just an ordinary church service, this was a special one! We went dressed for spring even if the snow was still on the ground.
The boys wore starched white shirts and ties, while I was decked out in my new Eaton's dress, white ankle socks, patent leather shoes and, of course, a big bow in my hair.
This was one Sunday you could count on all the congregation being in attendance. Clarence pumped the organ, while the congregation sang "The Old Rugged Cross."
In years gone by, folks attending the Easter church service had to dress a little warmer since they came by horse and buggy. As the preaching, praying and singing were taking place inside the church, the horses standing outside needed protection from the elements. Therefore, every church had horse sheds nearby.
Oh! By the way, did you know the Baptist tradition began in 1799 with the gathering of the Sackville Church. By 1810 there were nearly 20 Baptist Churches in New Brunswick. The road these Baptist preachers trod was not a bed of roses.
On July 13, 1801, the Honourable Judge Joshua Upham wrote a letter to James Innis asking him to explain by what authority he had assumed the character of a dissenting teacher, preaching sermons and officiating in the celebration of divine service and administering the sacraments, and to let him know whether he had been approved and licenced to do so by His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor . . . . .
The Marriage Act had not given the Baptist preachers the authority to perform marriages. It seems James Innis was very strong in his convictions and on Sept. 17, 1809, he married Ebenezer Vaughan and Hannah Brown, both of St. Martins. Due to this, he was later placed in jail in Kingston for the night, more or less to intimidate him. This did not work and in October of 1810 the Kings County grand jury indicted Mr. Innis for "solemnizing marriage between Farquhar McKenzie and Margaret Pack without legal authority." James Innis served time in jail and while there, continued his preaching through the cell window.
For those wishing to find out more about their Baptist heritage in Atlantic Canada, I suggest reading the very informative "Newlight Baptist Journals of James Manning and James Innis" edited by D. G. Bell.
This book is at the Saint John Free Public Library, Market Square.
Ruby Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to Ruby at firstname.lastname@example.org. When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.
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