Visiting the Merritts A walk through Loyalist House
is a trip back in time
Mum's relaxation was to slip off into the living room and sing hymns while playing the organ. I loved to listen to her and particularly enjoyed "In the Garden" and "Shall We Gather at the River." Her hands hardly touched the keys, but pumping the bellows was a labour of love.
On a visit to Loyalist House on Union Street, curator Steve McNeil was giving me a guided tour when he stopped at the piano and played a few notes. He pushed a lever and pumped the bellows and, suddenly, I was home again listening to Mum's organ music. This piano-organ was made in Boston. It seems there is only one other like it in the world in working condition.
Continuing the tour, Mr. McNeil stopped at the fireplaces to show me beautiful fire screens inlaid with embroidery. They were used to keep the heat of the fire from the faces of the ladies. Having pale skin was the style in that era.
In the front hall, under the winding staircase, are curved doors, which appear to be part of the paneling. Actually they opened for the servants to use to get from the back hall to the front hall.
I saw a tea caddy that had been kept locked to prevent the misuse of the very expensive tea leaves.
Next, Mr. McNeil pointed out a very interesting trunk. The outside was covered with deer hide and the inside was lined with 1830 newspapers from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
The four poster mahogany bed was not a Merritt House original. It was made for the visit of the Prince of Wales to Saint John in the 1860s. Carved feather plumes decorate the posters.
My favourite spot was the children's room. I was admiring the chest of drawers when Mr. McNeil stepped over the protective rope and tipped the top up to reveal a commode chair. You might say it was a camouflaged potty chair.
The wooden blocks were something any child would dream of owning. You could make castles or forts. The Merritt children were playing with Lego before it was invented.
The handles had been sawn off a stretcher that was used in the War of 1812 and this served as a bed for the nanny. The other servants slept in the rooms in the attic.
I was most interested in visiting the library. On the shelves, were many personal prayer books with endearing messages written on the fly leaf. "Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution" by Lorenzo Sabine, published in 1864, really looked interesting. I would have liked to have had the time to browse this book as well as "Millidge Ancestors." There were other books on philosophy, religion and literature.
I walked into the kitchen and my gaze fell upon one particular artifact. Gee! I had never seen anything that looked like this! What could it be? It was a wooden sole set on an iron pedestal. Imagine my surprise to find it was a patten. The ladies strapped them on their boots when they were out for a stroll. The pattens kept those polished high-tops from sinking into the mud.
On the back door is a detailed Merritt family tree compiled by Doreen Hamilton.
Thomas and Amy Merritt emigrated to Saint John with their family from Rye, New York. Thomas was a United Empire Loyalist, forced to leave his home because he had signed the protest against the Rebellion in 1775. He left behind one son killed while serving in the Loyalist army. Another son, Thomas, went to Ontario. It was the third son, David, who built Loyalist House.
According to family tradition, David Merritt took seven years to build the house for himself and his family of seven. It was completed in 1817.
In number 18 of the New Brunswick Historical Society collections, Edith Magee gives a detailed account of the Merritt family in an article titled "The People who Lived in the House on the Hill."
As I walked through Loyalist House, I felt as though I had taken a step back in time and was a guest visiting this family.
- Query 98-454
Freeman - Meehan: I am trying to trace the family of Richard Patrick Freeman, who was born (according to his death notice filed in New London, Ct., on Oct. 12, 1908) in Saint John, N.B., on March 17, 1830, the son of Richard Freeman and Mary Meehan. Except for the notation that his parents were born in England and Ireland respectively, I have been unable to determine any facts about them. I am seeking answers to many questions, in particuluar, were there other members of this family?
Warren Carlson, 433 Stone Mill Dr., Myrtle Beach, SC, 29575. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Query 98-455
Clark - Flemming: I am trying to find information on Charles Clark who was born in New Brunswick about 1796 (according to the 1861 census of the parish of Chipman). The Ward book states that he was married in Saint John (Trinity Church) in August of 1821 to Barbery Flemming.
Dana Corson. E-mail email@example.com.
- Query 98-456
Harmon - Rideout - McAllister - Butterfield: I would like to contact others who are researching these names. William Harmon was born on Sept. 11, 1779, in Machias, Lincoln, Me. He married Mary McAllister, who was born about 1773 at St. Stephen, N.B. They had the following children: Sarah, Turner, Daniel, Almira, Mary and Stephen (married Mary Butterfield of St. Stephen). Nathaniel Harmon was born on Aug. 12, 1784, at Machias and he married Lydia McAllister of St. David, N.B. They had the following children: Hannah G., Elizabeth M., Henry, Sarah Ann and William P. Stephen Harmon was born on Feb. 7, 1793, in Machias, Washington, Me., and he married Susannah Rideout at Fredericton. They had the following children: Avard, William, Abraham, Samuel H., Druscilla, Naomi and Dingee.
Fred Harmon Sr., 9040 SW Wanamaker Rd., Wakarusa, KS, 66546-9694. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or FRED-SR@worldnet.att.net.
- Query 98-457
Barnes - Smith - Lockhart - Dillihunt: I am searching for information on the family of Hon. James Barnes (1842-1925). He was the son of William Barnes and Margaret Dillihunt and his wife, Julia Eliza Smith (1846-1929), was the daughter of Peter and Pamelia Smith. I am also seeking information on Charles Lockhart who was born in 1797 and died in 1863 in New Brunswick. He was the son of Silas Crane Lockhart.
Donna Barnes, 917 Richmond Place, Port Coquitlam, B.C., V3B 2M8. E-mail to email@example.com.
- Query 98-458
Dunham - Cathline: I am searching for any information regarding the descendants of David Alston Dunham, (1762-1845) and his wife Mary Ann Cathline (1775-1851). I would like information on their place of residence and burial location.
Ralph B. Cathline, 108 Collier St., Apt. 308, Barrie, Ont., L4M 5R5. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com. 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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