Homeward bound
After nearly 80 years, Mary McCulley Fairlie-Clarke
returns to New Brunswick in search of relatives

Charles P. McCulley of Chatham, N.B., right, met his wife Alice (left, holding baby Mary) while serving in England. 
Cliff and I rushed through the kitchen door and tossed our book bags on the couch. Mum had cookies and glasses of milk waiting for us on the kitchen table. We gulped down the milk and clutched the cookies in our hands as we tore out the back door. We were in a hurry to go looking for cattails along the Salt Springs Brook.

It was a beautiful autumn afternoon and we basked in the sun and admired all the beautiful colours as we tramped the grass along the brook. We were disappointed to find that someone else had picked the cattails at the fallen-tree turn, but onward we trudged without a care. Time and distance meant nothing to us this afternoon.

Cliff looked around and said with concern in his voice, "We are a long way down the brook. We are farther from home than Mum likes us to go."

I assured him that I knew where we were and there was nothing to worry about. I could see a great bunch of cattails growing in a swampy area just ahead of us.

Since I was a girl, I did not carry a jackknife but Cliff pulled a pearl-handled one from his pocket and started cutting the long stems. The cattails were gorgeous and would make a great bouquet for Aunt Ethel to take to her classroom in the city.

As we turned to head home we decided to walk through the meadow. This route meant we would be going by the vacant home of the Titus family.

I was puzzled about this house and why no one lived there. When I had asked Mum, she said that Mr. Titus owned the farm. In the late 1920s he had taken his wife and little two-year-old son,  to a homestead in Alberta. She also told us the family had never been back for a visit.

As we peeked in the windows I thought about the family and wondered what life was like for them in the West. It certainly would be much different from the rolling hills of this valley.

On a wet, dark night in May of 1946, shortly after my ninth birthday, our household was awakened by the dog barking. I jumped from my bed and looked out the window to see a small cavalcade going through our yard. There were two gear pole wagons with teams and drivers, and another team being led, behind a medium-sized dog and a car following with its lights on.

The Titus Family had come home! The vacant homestead down the meadow would once more be occupied. The little boy had grown to manhood while living in Alberta. He had heard numerous stories of New Brunswick from his parents but the mental images bore little resemblance to the reality he faced.

The years have passed and many changes have taken place since that rainy May night when Bill came home and became my friend. He has taken deep root in this land of his Loyalist forebearers.

On Sept. 16, 1999, Mary McCulley Fairlie-Clarke of the UK is coming home to New Brunswick after an absence of nearly 80 years.

In 1914, Charles Porter McCulley, youngest son of Samuel and Mary McCulley of Chatham, N.B., sailed for Europe to fight with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France. In 1915 he was wounded in the arm and was treated in hospital in Cambridge, England. Perhaps there, or perhaps on a later leave, he met Alice, whom he married in London in 1917. The next year, their daughter was born and named Mary, after Charles' mother.

Late in 1918 the family returned to Chatham and Charles was demobilized.

They lived in Chatham for two or three years before Alice returned to the UK with her daughter Mary. It is not known what became of Charles P. McCulley.

In 1941 Mary married George Fairlie-Clarke, a surgeon, and the two generations of offspring and in-laws from that union now number 18. About a year ago, Mary's son Anthony started to explore his McCulley heritage, and with some good contacts made through the genealogical Web pages, the line of descendants was traced back to 1762, when Samuel McCully arrived in Nova Scotia from Ireland with his wife Elizabeth.

This was an exciting exploration and Mary was delighted to learn that she was named after her grandmother ­ but it has been disappointing that so far no living McCulley relatives have been found.

Mary is finally coming back to visit New Brunswick with her son Anthony and his wife, and would be delighted to hear from anyone who has any knowledge of the McCulley family from Chatham.

If you have information contact  tony@f-c.u-net.com

Mary is looking forward with great anticipation to this trip home to New Brunswick. I hope our readers will provide her with family information and in so doing help to build this branch of her ancestral family tree.

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 rmcusack@nbnet.nb.ca. 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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