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Title: Glimpses of the Past
       History of the River St. John, A.D. 1604-1784

Author: W. O. Raymond

Release Date: February 23, 2010 [EBook #31368]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Robin Monks, Dan Horwood and the Online
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A. D. 1604–1784.




Discoverer of the River St. John. The Father of New France. Born at Brouage in 1567. Died at Quebec, Dec. 25, 1635.


Preface 3
Errata 4
I The Maliseets 5
II The Coming of the White Man 16
III The Rival Feudal Chiefs 24
IV French Commanders of Acadia 30
V King William’s War 38
VI Nachouac and Menagoueche 47
VII The Brothers D’Amours 55
VIII The Old Medoctec Fort 66
IX Incidents in King Georges War 79
X Rival Claims to the St. John River 93
XI The French anxious to hold possession of the River St. John 106
XII The Acadians become the Football of Fortune 115
XIII The English take possession of the River St. John 125
XIV Aukpaque, the Village at the Head of the Tide 140
XV The First English Settlers 148
XVI Progress of the Maugerville Settlement 158
XVII At Portland Point 176
XVIII St. John and its Business One Hundred and Forty Years Ago 188
XIX The Old County of Sunbury and its Townships 206
XX The St. John’s River Society 214
XXI The Firm of Hazen, Jarvis, Simonds & White 229
XXII Some Early Religious Teachers on the River St. John 247
XXIII On the Eve of the American Revolution 258
XXIV Affairs on the St. John During the Revolution 265
XXV The Great Indian Pow-wow at Fort Howe, and its Consequences 284
XXVI White Chiefs and Indian Chiefs 293
XXVII Masts for the Royal Navy 301
XXVIII Pioneers on the St. John River in Pre-loyalist Days 314
XXIX At the Close of the Revolution—Affairs Civil and Religious 335
XXX The Coming of the Loyalists 345
Index 371


Samuel de Champlain Frontispiece
Indian Encampment and Chief 15
Champlain’s Plan of St. John Harbor 18
Title Page Bp. St. Vallier’s Book 35
Fort Nachouac 50
Signature of Sieur de Freneuse 58
Signature of John Gyles 63
Plan of Old Medoctec Village 66
Medoctec Tablet 74
Bell of Old Medoctec Chapel 76
Signature of Jean Loyard 78
Paul Mascarene 88
Old Fort at Worden’s 91
Woodman’s Point—site of Fort Boishebert 104
Colonel Robert Monckton 125
Sketch Map of River St. John in 1758 129
Isle au Garce, or Emenenic 130
Inscription on Medoctec Stone 141
Plan—Aukpaque and Surroundings 146
Bruce’s Plan of St. John Harbor 151
Signature of Peter Fisher 155
Plan of Maugerville 163
The Congregational Church at Maugerville 172
A Cottage of Today 185
Signatures 188
Ice-jam, 1902 197
Plan of Townships 212
Plan of Grants to Simonds & White 231
Old Hazen House and Grounds 242
Signature Joseph Mathurin Bourg 253
Fort Howe in 1781 278
Signature of Major G. Studholme 281
Fort Howe in 1818 282
St. John Harbor, showing Mast Dock 304



Born and reared upon the banks of the River Saint John, I have always loved it, and have found a charm in the study of everything that pertains to the history of those who have dwelt beside its waters.

In connection with the ter-centenary of the discovery of the river by de Monts and Champlain, on the memorable 24th of June, 1604, the chapters which follow were contributed, from time to time, to the Saturday edition of the Saint John Daily Telegraph. With the exception of a few minor corrections and additions, these chapters are reprinted as they originally appeared. Some that were hurriedly written, under pressure of other and more important work, might be revised with advantage. Little attempt at literary excellence has been practicable. I have been guided by an honest desire to get at the facts of history, and in so doing have often quoted the exact language of the writers by whom the facts were first recorded. The result of patient investigation, extending over several years, in the course of which a multitude of documents had to be consulted, is a more elaborate and reliable history of the Saint John River region than has yet appeared in print. The period covered extends from the discovery of the river in 1604 to the coming of the Loyalists in 1784. It is possible that the story may one day be continued in a second volume.

At the conclusion of this self-appointed task, let me say to the reader, in the words of Montaigne, “I bring you a nosegay of culled flowers, and I have brought little of my own but the string that ties them.”

W. O. Raymond.

St John, N. B., December, 1905.



Page 36, line 8. After word “and,” the rest of the line should read—“beautiful islands below the mouth of.”

Page 97, line 31. The last half of this line is inverted.





The Maliseets.

The Indian period of our history possesses a charm peculiarly its own. When European explorers first visited our shores the Indian roamed at pleasure through his broad forest domain. Its wealth of attractions were as yet unknown to the hunter, the fisherman and the fur-trader. Rude as he was the red man could feel the charms of the wilderness in which he dwelt. The voice of nature was not meaningless to one who knew her haunts so well. The dark recesses of the forest, the sunny glades of the open woodland, the mossy dells, the sparkling streams and roaring mountain torrents, the quiet lakes, the noble river flowing onward to the sea with islands here and there embosomed by its tide—all were his. The smoke of his wigwam fire curled peacefully from Indian village and temporary encampment. He might wander where he pleased with none to say him nay.

But before the inflowing tide of the white-man’s civilization the Indian’s supremacy vanished as the morning mist before the rising sun. The old hunting grounds are his no longer. His descendants have long ago been forced to look for situations more remote. The sites of the ancient villages on interval and island have long since been tilled by the thrifty farmer’s hands.

But on the sites of the old camping grounds the plough share still turns up relics that carry us back to the “stone age.” A careful study of these relics will tell us something about the habits and customs of the aborigines before the coming of the whites. And we have another source of information in the quaint tales and legends that drift to us out of the dim shadows of the past, which will always have peculiar fascination for the student of Indian folk-lore.

With the coming of the whites the scene changes and the simplicity of savage life grows more complicated. The change is not entirely for the better; the hardships of savage life are ameliorated, it is true, but the Indian learns the vices of civilization.

The native races naturally play a leading part in early Acadian history, nor do they always appear in a very amiable light. The element of fierceness and barbarity, which seems inherent in all savage races, was not wanting in the Indians of the River St. John. They united with their neighbours in most of the wars waged with the whites and took their full share in those bloody forays which 6 nearly annihilated many of the infant settlements of Maine and New Hampshire. The early annals of Eastern New England tell many a sad story of the sacrifice of innocent lives, of women and children carried into captivity and homes made desolate by savage hands.

And yet, it may be that with all his faults the red man has been more sinned against than sinning.

Many years ago the provincial government sent commissioners to the Indian village of Medoctec on the St. John river, where the Indians from time immemorial had built their wigwams and tilled their cornfields and where their dead for many generations had been laid to rest in the little graveyard by the river side. The object of the commissioners was to arrange for the location of white settlers at Medoctec. The government claimed the right to dispossess the Indians on the ground that the lands surrounding their village were in the gift of the crown. The Indians, not unnaturally, were disinclined to part with the heritage of their forefathers.

On their arrival at the historic camping ground the commissioners made known the object of their visit. Presently several stalwart captains, attired in their war paint and feathers and headed by their chief, appeared on the scene. After mutual salutations the commissioners asked: “By what right or title do you hold these lands?”

The tall, powerful chief stood erect, and with the air of a plumed knight, pointing within the walk of the little enclosure beside the river, replied: “There are the graves of our grandfathers! There are graves of our fathers! There are the graves of our children!”

To this simple native eloquence the commissioners felt they had no fitting reply, and for the time being the Maliseets remained undisturbed.

It in not necessary to discuss at length the origin of the Indians who lived on the banks of the St. John at the time the country became known to Europeans. Whether or not the ancestors of our Indians were the first inhabitants of that region it is difficult to determine. The Indians now living on the St. John are Maliseets, but it is thought by many that the Micmacs at one time, possessed the valley of the river and gradually gave place to the Maliseets, as the latter advanced from the westward. There is a tradition among the St. John river Indians that the Micmacs and Maliseets were originally one people and that the Maliseets after a while “went off by themselves and picked up their own language.” This the Micmacs regarded as a mongrel dialect and gave to the new tribe the name Maliseet (or Milicete), a word derived from Mal-i-see-jik—“he speaks badly.” However, in such matters, tradition is not always a safe guide. It is more probable the two tribes had an independent origin, the Micmacs being the earlier inhabitants of Acadia, while the Maliseets, who are an offshoot of the Abenaki (or Wabenaki) nation, spread eastward from the Kennebec to the Penobscot and thence to the St. John. The Indians who are now scattered over this area very readily understand one another’s speech, but the language of the Micmacs is unintelligible to them.


The Micmacs seem to have permitted their neighbors to occupy the St. John river without opposition, their own preference inclining them to live near the coast. The opinion long prevailed in Acadia that the Maliseets, were a more powerful and ferocious tribe than the Micmacs; nevertheless there is no record or tradition of any conflict between them.

That the Maliseets have for centuries inhabited the valley of the River St. John is indicated by the fact that the Indian names of rivers, lakes, islands and mountains, which have been retained by the whites, are nearly all of Maliseet origin. Nevertheless the Micmacs frequented the mouth of the St. John river after the arrival of Europeans, for we learn that the Jesuit missionary, Enemond Masse, passed the winter of 1611–2 at St. John in the family of Louis Membertou, a Micmac, in order to perfect himself in the Micmac language, which he had already studied to some extent at Port Royal. The elder Membertou, father of the Indian here named, was, perhaps, the most remarkable chieftain Acadia ever produced. His sway as grand sagamore of the Micmac nation extended from Gaspe to Cape Sable. In the year 1534 he had welcomed the great explorer Jacques Cartier to the shores of Eastern New Brunswick, as seventy years later he welcomed de Monts and Poutrincourt to Port Royal. The Jesuit missionary, Pierre Biard, describes Membertou as “the greatest, most renowned and most formidable savage within the memory of man; of splendid physique, taller and larger limbed than is usual among them; bearded like a Frenchmen, although scarcely any of the others have hair upon the chin; grave and reserved with a proper sense of the dignity of his position as commander.” “In strength of mind, in knowledge of war, in the number of his followers, in power and in the renown of a glorious name among his countrymen, and even his enemies, he easily surpassed the sagamores who had flourished during many preceding ages.”

In the year 1605 Pennoniac, one of the chiefs of Acadia, went with de Monts and Champlain as guide on the occasion of their voyage along the shores of New England and was killed by some of the savages near Saco. Bessabez, the sagamore of the Penobscot Indians, allowed the body of the dead chief to be taken home by his friends to Port Royal and its arrival was the signal of great lamentation. Membertou was at this time an old man, but although his hair was white with the frosts of a hundred winters, like Moses of old, his eye was not dim nor his natural force abated. He decided that the death of Pennoniac must be avenged. Messengers were sent to call the tribes of Acadia and in response to the summons 400 warriors assembled at Port Royal. The Maliseets joined in the expedition. The great flotilla of war canoes was arranged in divisions, each under its leader, the whole commanded by Membertou in person. As the morning sun reflected in the still waters of Port Royal the noiseless procession of canoes, crowned by the tawny faces and bodies of the savage warriors, smeared with pigments of various colors, the sight struck the French spectators with wonder and astonishment.

Uniting with their allies of the River St. John, the great war party sped 8 westward over the waters of the Bay of Fundy and along the coast till they reached the land of the Armouchiquois. Here they met and defeated their enemies after a hard-fought battle in which Bessabez and many of his captains were slain, and the allies returned in triumph to Acadia singing their songs of victory.

The situation of the Maliseets on the River St. John was not without its advantages, and they probably obtained as good a living as any tribe of savages in Canada. Remote from the war paths of the fiercer tribes they hunted in safety. Their forests were filled with game, the rivers teemed with fish and the lakes with water fowl; the sea shore was easy of access, the intervals and islands were naturally adapted to the cultivation of Indian corn, wild grapes grew luxuriantly along the river banks, there were berries in the woods and the sagaabum (or Indian potato) was abundant. Communication with all arts of the surrounding country was easily had by means of the short portages that separated the sources of interlacing rivers and with his light bark canoe the Indian could travel in any direction his necessity or his caprice might dictate.

The characteristics of the Indians of Acadia, whether Micmacs or Maliseets, were in the main identical; usually they were closely allied and not infrequently intermarried Their manners and habits have been described with much fidelity by Champlain, Lescarbot, Denys and other early explorers. Equally accurate and interesting is the graphic description of the savages contained in the narrative of the Jesuit missionary Pierre Biard, who came to America in 1611 and during his sojourn visited the St. John River and places adjacent making Port Royal his headquarters. His narrative, “A Relation of New France, of its Lands, Nature of the Country and of its Inhabitants,” was printed at Lyons in 1616. A few extracts, taken from the splendid edition of the Jesuit Relations recently published at Cleveland, will suffice to show that Pierre Biard was not only an intelligent observer but that he handled the pen of a ready writer. “I have said before,” he observes, “that the whole country is simply an interminable forest; for there are no open spaces except upon the margins of the sea, lakes and rivers. In several places we found the grapes and wild vines which ripened in their season. It was not always the best ground where found them, being full of sand and gravel like that of Bourdeaux. There are a great many of these grapes at St. John River in 46 degrees of latitude, where also are to be seen many walnut (or butternut), and hazel trees.”

This quotation will show how exact and conscientious the old French missionary was in his narration. Beamish Murdoch in Ibis History of Nova Scotia (Vol. 1, p. 21) ventures the observation, “It may perhaps be doubted if the French account about grapes is accurate, as they mention them to have been growing on the banks of the Saint John where, if wild grapes exist, they must be rare.” But Biard is right and Murdoch is wrong. Wild grapes naturally grow in great abundance on the islands and intervals of the River St. John and, in spite of the interference of the farmers, are still to be found as far north at least in Woodstock. Biard visited the St. John River in October, 1611, and stayed a day or two at a small trading post on an island near Oak Point. One of the islands in that vicinity the early English settlers afterwards called “Isle of Vines,” from the circumstance that wild grapes grew there in great profusion.


We quote next Father Biard’s description of the Indian method of encampment: “Arrived at a certain place, the first thing they do is to build a fire and arrange their camp, which they will have finished in an hour or two; often in half an hour. The women go into the woods and bring back some poles which are stuck into the ground in a circle around the fire and at the top are interlaced in the form of a pyramid, so that they come together directly over the fire, for there is the chimney. Upon the poles they throw some skins, matting or bark. At the foot of the poles under the skins they put their baggage. All the space around the fire is strewn with soft boughs of the fire tree, so they will not feel the dampness of the ground; over these boughs are thrown some mats or seal skins as soft as velvet; upon these they stretch themselves around the fire with their heads resting upon their baggage; and, what no one would believe, they are very warm in there around that little fire, even in the greatest rigors of the winter. They do not camp except near some good water, and in an attractive location.”

The aboriginies of Acadia when the country became known to Europeans, no doubt lived as their ancestors had lived from time immemorial. A glimpse of the life of the Indian in prehistoric times is afforded us in the archæological remains of the period. These are to be found at such places as Bocabec, in Charlotte county, at Grand Lake in Queens county, and at various points along the St. John river. Dr. L. W. Bailey, Dr. Geo. F. Matthew, Dr. W. F. Ganong, James Vroom, and others have given considerable attention to these relics and they were studied also to some extent by their predecessors in the field of science, Dr. Robb, Dr. Gesner and Moses H. Perley. The relics most commonly brought to light include stone implements, such as axes, hammers, arrow heads, lance and spear heads, gouges and chisels, celts or wedges, corn crushers, and pipes; also bone implements such as needles, fish hooks and harpoons, with specimens of rude pottery.

When Champlain first visited our shores the savages had nothing better than stone axes to use in clearing their lands. It is to their credit that with such rude implements they contrived to hack down the trees and, after burning the branches and trunk, planted their corn among the stumps and in the course of time took out the roots. In cultivating the soil they used an implement of very hard wood, shaped like a spade, and their method of raising corn, as described by Champlain, was exactly the same as that of our farmers today. The corn fields at the old Medoctic Fort were cultivated by the Indians many years before the coming of the whites. Cadillac, writing in 1693, says: “The Maliseets are well shaped and tolerably warlike; they attend to the cultivation of the soil and grow the most beautiful Indian corn; their fort is at Medocktek.” Many other choice spots along the St. John river were tilled in very early times, including, probably, the site of the old Government House at Fredericton, where there was an Indian encampment long before the place was dreamed of as the site of the seat of government of the province.

Lescarbot, the historian, who wrote In 1610, tells us that the Indians were accustomed to pound their corn in a mortar (probably of wood) in order to reduce it to meal. Of this they afterwards made a paste, which was baked between two stones heated at the fire. Frequently the corn was roasted on the 10 ear. Yet another method is thus described by the English captive, John Gyles, who lived as a captive with the St. John river Indians in 1689: “To dry the corn when in the milk, they gather it in large kettles and boil it on the ears till it is pretty hard, then shell it from the cob with clam shells and dry it on bark in the sun. When it is thoroughly dry a kernel is no bigger than a pea, and will keep years; and when it is boiled again it swells as large as when on the ear and tastes incomparably sweeter than other corn. When we had gathered our corn and dried it in the way described, we put some of it into Indian barns, that is into hole in the ground lined and covered with bark and then with earth. The rest we carried up the river upon our next winter’s hunting.”

The Indians were a very improvident race, and in this respect the Maliseets were little better than the Micmacs, of whom Pierre Biard writes: “They care little about the future and are not urged on to work except by present necessity. As long as they have anything they are always celebrating feasts and having songs dances and speeches. If there is a crowd of them you certainly need not expect anything else. Nevertheless if they are by themselves and where they may safely listen to their wives, for women are everywhere the best managers, they will sometimes make storehouses for the winter where they will keep smoked meat, roots, shelled acorns, peas, beans, etc.”

Although the Indians living on the St. John paid some attention to the cultivation of the soil there can be no doubt that hunting and fishing were always their chief means of support. In Champlain’s day the implements of the chase were very primitive. Yet they were able to hunt the largest game by taking advantage of the deep snow and making use of their snow-shoes. Champlain says. “They search for the track of animals, which, having found, they follow until they get sight of the creature, when they shoot at it with their bows or kill it by means of daggers attached to the end of a short pike. Then the women and children come up, erect a hut and they give themselves to feasting. Afterwards they proceed in search of other animals and thus they pass the winter. This is the mode of life of these people, which seems to me a very miserable one.”

There can be little doubt that wild game was vastly more abundant in this country, when it was discovered by Europeans, than it is today. In the days of La Tour and Charnisay as many as three thousand moose skins were collected on the St. John in a single year, and smaller game was even more abundant. Wild fowl ranged the coasts and marshes and frequented the rivers in incredible numbers. Biard says that at certain seasons they were so abundant on the islands that by the skilful use of a club right and left they could bring down birds as big as a duck with every blow. Denys speaks of immense flocks of wild pidgeons. But the Indian’s food supply was not limited to these; the rivers abounded with salmon and other fish, turtles were common along the banks of the river, and their eggs, which they lay in the sand, were esteemed a great delicacy, as for the musquash it is regarded as the “Indian’s turkey.”

A careful examination of the relics discovered at the sites of the old camping 11 grounds suffices to confirm the universal testimony of early writers regarding the nomadic habits of the Indians. They were a restless race of people, for ever wandering from place to place as necessity or caprice impelled them. At one time they were attracted to the sea side where clams, fish and sea fowl abounded; at another they preferred the charms of the inland waters. Sometimes the mere love of change led them to forsake one camping place and remove to some other favorite spot. When game was scarce they were compelled by sheer necessity to seek new hunting grounds. At the proper season they made temporary encampments for salmon fishing with torch and spear. Anon they tilled their cornfields on the intervals and islands. They had a saying: “When the maple leaf is as big as a squirrel’s foot it is time to plant corn.” Occasionally the outbreak of some pestilence broke up their encampments and scattered them in all directions. In time of peace they moved leisurely, but in time of war their action was much more vigorous and flotillas of their bark canoes skimmed swiftly over the lakes and rivers bearing the dusky warriors against the enemies of their race. Many a peaceful New England hamlet was startled by their midnight war-whoop when danger was little looked for.

It is a common belief in our day that the Indians were formerly more numerous than they now are. Exactly the same opinion seems to have prevailed when the country was first discovered, but it is really very doubtful whether there were ever many more Indians in the country than there are today. In the year 1611 Biard described them as so few in number that they might be said to roam over rather than to possess the country. He estimated the Maliseets, or Etchemins, as less than a thousand in number “scattered over wide spaces, as is natural for those who live by hunting and fishing.” Today the Indians of Maine and New Brunswick living within the same area as the Etchemins of 1611, number considerably more than a thousand souls. There are, perhaps, as many Indians in the maritime provinces now as in the days of Champlain. As Hannay observes, in his History of Acadia, excellent reasons existed to prevent the Indians from ever becoming very numerous. A wilderness country can only support a limited population. The hunter must draw his sustenance from a very wide range of territory, and the life of toil and privation to which the Indian was exposed was fatal to all but the strongest and most hardy.

One of the most striking Indian characteristics is the keenness of perception by which they are enabled to track their game or find their way through pathless forests without the aid of chart or compass. The Indian captive, Gyles, relates the following incident which may be mentioned in this connection:

“I was once travelling a little way behind several Indians and, hearing them laugh merrily, when I came up I asked them the cause of their laughter. They showed me the track of a moose, and how a wolverene had climbed a tree, and where he had jumped off upon the moose. It so happened that after the moose had taken several large leaps it came under the branch of a tree, which, striking the wolverene, broke his hold and tore him off; and by his tracks in the snow it appeared he went off another way with short steps, as if he had been stunned 12 by the blow that had broken his hold. The Indians were wonderfully pleased that the moose had thus outwitted the mischievous wolverene.”

The early French writers all notice the skill and ingenuity of the savages, in adapting their mode of life to their environment. Nicholas Denys, who came to Acadia in 1632, gives a very entertaining and detailed account of their ways of life and of their skillful handicraft. The snowshoe and the Indian bark canoe aroused his special admiration. He says they also made dishes of bark, both large and small, sewing them so nicely with slender rootlets of fir that they retained water. They used in their sewing a pointed bodkin of bone, and they sometimes adorned their handiwork with porcupine quills and pigments. Their kettles used to be of wood before the French supplied them with those of metal. In cooking, the water was readily heated to the boiling point by the use of red-hot stones which they put in and took out of their wooden kettle.

Until the arrival of Europeans the natives were obliged to clothe themselves with skins of the beaver and other animals. The women made all the garments, but Champlain did not consider them very good tailoresses.

Like most savage races the Indians were vain and consequential. Biard relates that a certain sagamore on hearing that the young King of France was unmarried, observed: “Perhaps I may let him marry my daughter, but the king must make me some handsome presents, namely, four or five barrels of bread, three of peas and beans, one of tobacco, four or five cloaks worth one hundred sous apiece, bows, arrows, harpoons, and such like articles.”

Courtship and marriage among the Maliseets is thus described by John Gyles: “If a young fellow determines to marry, his relations and the Jesuit advise him to a girl, he goes into the wigwam where she is and looks on her. If he likes her appearance, he tosses a stick or chip into her lap which she takes, and with a shy side-look views the person who sent it; yet handles the chip with admiration as though she wondered from whence it came. If she likes him she throws the chip to him with a smile, and then nothing is wanting but a ceremony with the Jesuit to consummate the marriage. But if she dislikes her suitor she with a surly countenance throws the chip aside and he comes no more there.”

An Indian maiden educated to make “monoodah,” or Indian bags, birch dishes and moccasins, to lace snowshoes, string wampum belts, sew birch canoes and boil the kettle, was esteemed a lady of fine accomplishments. The women, however, endured many hardships. They were called upon to prepare and erect the cabins, supply them with fire, wood and water, prepare the food, go to bring the game from the place where it had been killed, sew and repair the canoes, mend and stretch the skins, curry them and make clothes and moccasins for the whole family. Biard says: “They go fishing and do the paddling, in short they undertake all the work except that alone of the grand chase. Their husbands sometimes beat them unmercifully and often for a very slight cause.”

Since the coming of the whites the Maliseets have had few quarrels with the neighboring tribes of Indians. They entertained, however, a dread of the Mohawks, and there are many legends that have been handed down to us which tell of their 13 fights with these implacable foes. One of the most familiar—that of the destruction of the Mohawk war party at the Grand Falls—told by the Indians to the early settlers on the river soon after their arrival in the country and has since been rehearsed in verse by Roberts and Hannay and in prose by Lieut.-Governor Gordon in his “Wilderness Journeys,” by Dr. Rand in his Indian legends and by other writers.

John Gyles, the English captive at Medoctec village in 1689, relates the following ridiculous incident, which sufficiently shows the unreasonable terror inspired in the mind of the natives of the river in his day by the very name of Mohawk:

“One very hot season a great number of Indians gathered at the village, and being a very droughty people they kept James Alexander and myself night and day fetching water from a cold spring that ran out of a rocky hill about three-quarters of a mile from the fort.[1] In going thither we crossed a large interval corn field and then a descent to a lower interval before we ascended the hill to the spring. James being almost dead as well as I with this continual fatigue contrived (a plan) to fright the Indians. He told me of it, but conjured me to secrecy. The next dark night James going for water set his kettle on the descent to the lowest interval, and ran back to the fort puffing and blowing as in the utmost surprise, and told his master that he saw something near the spring which looked like Mohawks (which he said were only stumps—aside): his master being a most courageous warrior went with James to make discovery, and when they came to the brow of the hill, James pointed to the stumps, and withal touched his kettle with his toe, which gave it motion down hill, and at every turn of the kettle the bail clattered, upon which James and his master could see a Mohawk in every stump in motion, and turned tail to and he was the best man who could run the fastest. This alarmed all the Indians in the village; they, though about thirty or forty in number, packed off bag and baggage, some up the river and others down, and did not return under fifteen days, and the heat of the weather being finally over our hard service abated for this season. I never heard that the Indians understood the occasion of the fright, but James and I had many a private laugh about it.”

Until quite recently the word “Mohawk,” suddenly uttered, was sufficient to startle a New Brunswick Indian. The late Edward Jack upon asking an Indian child, “What is a Mohawk?” received this reply, “A Mohawk is a bad Indian who kills people and eats them.” Parkman describes the Mohawks as the fiercest, the boldest, yet most politic savages to whom the American forests ever gave birth and nurture. As soon as a canoe could float they were on the war path, and with the cry of the returning wild fowl mingled the yell of these human tigers. They burned, hacked and devoured, exterminating whole villages at once.

A Mohawk war party once captured an Algonquin hunting party in which were three squaws who had each a child of a few weeks or months old. At the first halt the captors took the infants, tied them to wooden spits, roasted them alive before 14 a fire and feasted on them before the eyes of the agonized mothers, whose shrieks, supplications and frantic efforts to break the cords that bound them, were met with mockery and laughter. “They are not men, they are wolves!” sobbed one of the wretched women, as she told what had befallen her to the Jesuit missionary.

Fearful as the Maliseets were of the Mohawks they were in turn exceedingly cruel to their own captives and, strange as it may appear, the women were even more cruel than the men. In the course of the border wars English captives were exposed to the most revolting and barbarous outrages, some were even burned alive by our St. John river Indians.

But while cruel to their enemies, and even at times cruel to their wives, the Indians were by no means without their redeeming features. They were a modest and virtuous race, and it is quite remarkable that with all their bloodthirstiness in the New England wars there is no instance on record of the slightest rudeness to the person of any female captive. This fact should be remembered to their credit by those who most abhor their bloodthirstiness and cruelty. Nor were the savages without a certain sense of justice. This we learn from the following incident in the experience of the English captive John Gyles.

“While at the Indian village (Medoctec) I had been cutting wood and was binding it up with an Indian rope in order to carry it to the wigwam when a stout ill-natured young fellow about 20 years of age threw me backward, sat on my breast and pulling out his knife said that he would kill me, for he had never yet killed an English person. I told him that he might go to war and that would be more manly than to kill a poor captive who was doing their drudgery for them. Notwithstanding all I could say he began to cut and stab me on my breast. I seized him by the hair and tumbled him from off me on his back and followed him with my fist and knee so that he presently said he had enough; but when I saw the blood run and felt the smart I at him again and bid him get up and not lie there like a dog—told him of his former abuses offered to me and other poor captives, and that if ever he offered the like to me again I would pay him double. I sent him before me, took up my burden of wood and came to the Indians and told them the whole truth and they commended me, and I don’t remember that ever he offered me the least abuse afterward, though he was big enough to have dispatched two of me.”

The unfortunate conduct of some of the New England governors together with other circumstances that need not here be mentioned, led the Maliseets to be hostile to the English. Toward the French, however, they were from the very first disposed to be friendly, and when de Monts, Champlain and Poutrincourt arrived at the mouth of our noble river on the memorable 24th day of June, 1604, they found awaiting them the representatives of an aboriginal race of unknown antiquity, and of interesting language, traditions and customs, who welcomed them with outward manifestations of delight, and formed with them an alliance that remained unbroken throughout the prolonged struggle between the rival powers for supremacy in Acadia.


Indian Encampment and Chief



The Coming of the White Man.

There are yet to be found in New Brunswick forest clad regions, remote from the haunts of men, that serve to illustrate the general features of the country when it was discovered by European adventurers 300 years ago. Who these first adventurers were we cannot with certainty tell. They were not ambitious of distinction, they were not even animated by religious zeal, for in Acadia, as elsewhere, the trader was the forerunner of the priest.

The Basque, Breton, and Norman, fishermen are believed to have made their voyages as early as the year 1504, just 100 years before Champlain entered the mouth of the St. John river. But these early navigators were too intent upon their own immediate gain to think of much beside; they gave to the world no intelligent account of the coasts they visited, they wave not accurate observers, and in their tales of adventure fact and fiction were blended in equal proportion. Nevertheless, by the enterprise and resolution of these hardy mariners the shores of north-eastern America were fairly well known long before Acadia contained a single white inhabitant.

Adventurers of Portugal, Spain and Italy vied with those of France and Britain in the quest of treasure beyond the sea. They scanned our shores with curious eyes and pushed their way into every bay and harbor. And thus, slowly but surely, the land that had lain hidden in the mists of antiquity began to disclose its outlines as the keen searchlight of discovery was turned upon it from a dozen different sources.

While the first recorded exploration of the southern shores of New Brunswick is that of de Monts and Champlain in 1604, there can be little doubt that European fishers and traders had entered the Bay of Fundy before the close of the 16th century and had made the acquaintance of the savages, possibly they had ventured up the St. John river. The Indians seem to have greeted the new-comers in a very friendly fashion and were eager to barter their furs for knives and trinkets. The “pale-faces” and their white winged barks were viewed at first with wonder not unmixed with awe, but the keen-eyed savages quickly learned the value of the white man’s wares; and readily exchanged the products of their own forests and streams for such articles as they needed. Trade with the savages had assumed considerable proportions even before the days of Champlain.

But while it is probable that the coasts of Acadia were visited by Europeans some years before Champlain entered the Bay of Fundy, it is certain that the history of events previous to the coming of that intrepid navigator is a blank. The Indians gradually become familiar with the vanguard of civilization as represented by the rude fishermen and traders, that is all we know.

The honor of the first attempt at colonization in Acadia belongs to the Sieur de Monts, a Huguenot noblemen who had rendered essential service to the French king. This nobleman, with the assistance of a company of merchants of Rouen and Rochelle, collected a band of 120 emigrants, including artisans of all trades, laborers and soldiers, and in the month of April, 1604, set sail for the new 17 world. Henry IV of France gave to the Sieur de Monts jurisdiction over Acadia, or New France, a region so vast that the sites of the modern cities of Montreal and Philadelphia lay within its borders. The Acadia of de Monts would today include the maritime provinces, the greater part of Quebec and half of New England.

The colonists embarked in two small vessels, the one of 120, the other of 150 tons burden; a month later they reached the southern coast of Nova Scotia. They proceeded to explore the coast and entered the Bay of Fundy, to which the Sieur de Monts gave the name of La Baye Francaise. Champlain has left us a graphic account of the voyage of exploration around the shores of the bay. In this, however, we need not follow him. Suffice it to say that on the 24th day of June there crept cautiously into the harbor of St. John a little French ship; she was a paltry craft, smaller than many of our coasting schooners, but she carried the germ of an empire for de Monts, Champlain and Poutrincourt, the founders of New France, were on her deck.

There is in Champlain’s published “voyages” an excellent plan of St. John harbor which, he says, lay “at the mouth of the largest and deepest river we had yet seen which we named the River Saint John, because it was on this saint’s day that we arrived there.”

Champlain did not ascend the river far but Ralleau, the secretary of the Sieur de Monts, went there sometime afterwards to see Secoudon (or Chkoudun), the chief of the river, who reported that it was beautiful, large and extensive with many meadows and fine trees such as oaks, beeches, walnut trees and also wild grape vines. In Champlain’s plan of St. John harbor a cabin is placed on Navy Island, which he describes as a “cabin where the savages fortify themselves.” This was no doubt the site of a very ancient encampment.

Lescarbot, the historian, who accompanied de Monts, says they visited the cabin of Chkoudun, with whom they bartered for furs. According to his description: “The town of Ouigoudy, the residence of the said Chkoudun, was a great enclosure upon a rising ground, enclosed with high and small tress, tied one against another; and within the enclosure were several cabins great and small, one of which was as large as a market hall, wherein many households resided.” In the large cabin which served as a council chamber, they saw some 80 or 100 savages all nearly naked. They were having a feast, which they called “Tabagie.” The chief Chkoudun made his warriors pass in review before his guests.

Lescarbot describes the Indian sagamore as a man of great influence who loved the French and admired their civilization. He even attended their religious services on Sundays and listened attentively to the admonitions of their spiritual guides, although he did not understand a word. “Moreover,” adds Lescarbot, “he wore the sign of the cross upon his bosom, which he also had his servants wear; and he had in imitation of us a great cross erected in the public place called Oigoudi at the port of the River Saint John.” This sagamore accompanied Poutrincourt on his tour of exploration to the westward and offered single handed to oppose a hostile band who attacked the French.

According to Champlain’s plan of St. John harbor, the channel on the west, or Carleton, side of Navy Island was much narrower in his day than it is now. 18 The name Ouygoudy (or Wigoudi), applied by the Indians to Chkoudun’s village on Navy Island, is nearly identical with the modern word “We-go-dic,” used by the Maliseets to designate any Indian village or encampment. They have always called the St. John river “Woolastook,” but their name for the place on which the city of St. John is built is “Men-ah-quesk,” which is readily identified with “Menagoueche,” the name generally applied to St. John harbor by Villebon and other French commanders in Acadia.


The figures indicate fathoms of water. A. Islands above the falls. B. Mountains two leagues from the river. D. Shoals or flats. E. Cabin where the savages fortify themselves. F. A pebbly point where there is a cross (Sand Point). G. Partridge Island. H. A., small river coming from a little pond (mill pond and its outlet). I. Arm of the sea, dry at low tide (Courtenay Bay and the Marsh Creek). P. Way by which the savages carry their canoes in passing the falls.

Navy Island assumes a historic interest in our eyes as the first inhabited spot, so far as we know, within the confines of the city of St. John. In Champlain’s plans the principal channel is correctly given as on the east side of Partridge Island. Sand Point is shown, and the cross at its extremity was probably erected by the explorers in honor of their discovery. Groups of savages are seen on either side of the harbor, and a moose is feeding near the present Haymarket Square. A little ship rests on the flats, the site of the new dry dock.


De Monts and Champlain passed their first winter in America on an island in the St. Croix river. Their experience was disastrous in the extreme. Nearly half of their party died of “mal de la terre,” or scurvy, and others were at the point of death. Pierre Biard, the Jesuit missionary, attributed the fatality of the disease to the mode of life of the people, of whom only eleven remained well. “These were a jolly company of hunters who preferred rabbit hunting to the air of the fireside, skating on the ponds to turning over lazily in bed, making snowballs to bring down the game to sitting around the fire talking about Paris and its good cooks.” In consequence of their unfortunate experience during the first winter the little colony removed to Port Royal.

The advent of European explorers and traders materially affected the manner of life of the Indians. Hitherto they had hunted the wild animals merely for subsistence, but now the demand of the traders for furs and peltry stimulated enormously the pursuit of game. The keen-eyed savages saw the advantages of the white man’s implements and utensils. Steel knives, axes, vessels of metal, guns, powder and shot, blankets, ornaments and trinkets excited his cupidity. Alas, too, love of the white man’s “fire water” soon became a ruling passion and the poor Indian too often received a very indifferent compensation for his toil and exposure.

In the summer time, when the annual ships arrived from France, the Indians gathered in large numbers at the various trading posts. They came from far and near, and for several weeks indulged in feasting and revelry. Pierre Biard comments severely on their folly. He says: “They never stop gorging themselves excessively during several weeks. They get drunk not only on wine, but on brandy, so that it is no wonder they are obliged to endure some gripes of the stomach during the following autumn.”

The Maliseets frequently came to the mouth of the St. John to trade with the French; sometimes they even resorted to Port Royal, for these daring savages did not fear to cross the Bay of Fundy in their frail barks.

The chief of the savages of the River St. John, Chkoudun, proved a valuable ally of the French owing to his extensive knowledge of the country and of the tribes that inhabited it. Champlain crossed over to St. John from Port Royal in the autumn of 1605 to get him to point out the location of a certain copper mine on the shores of the Bay of Fundy, supposed to be of fabulous richness. Chkoudun readily agreed to accompany his visitor and they proceeded to the mine, which was on the shores of the Basin of Minas. The master miner, a native of Sclavonia, whom de Monts had brought to Acadia to search for precious metals, deemed the outlook not unpromising, but Champlain was disappointed, and says: “The truth is that if the water did not cover the mines twice a day, and if they did not lie in such hard rocks, something might be expected from them.”

The commercial spirit that has ever predominated in our good city of St. John evidently goes back to the days of its discovery. Chkoudun lived at “Menagoueche” in his fortified village on Navy Island when Champlain invited him to go with the Sieur de Poutrincourt and himself as guide on a tour of exploration along the coast of New England. They set out in the month of September, 20 1606, and the chief took with him in a shallop certain goods he had obtained from the fur traders to sell to his neighbors the Armouchiquois, with whom he proposed to make an alliance. The savages of New England were beginning to covet the axes and other implements of civilization that their neighbors to the eastward had obtained from the fishermen and traders who visited their shores.

The Indians were now for a season to part with their friends and allies. In 1607 de Monts decided to abandon his attempt to establish a colony and Champlain and his associates were recalled to France. Acadia was once more without a single European inhabitant. Three years later Poutrincourt, to the great joy of the savages, returned to Port Royal, and most of the rights and privileges formerly held by de Monts were transferred to him.

The summer of 1611 was notable for the arrival of the Jesuit missionaries, Pierre Biard and Enemond Masse.

It seems that the French traders did not quietly acquiesce in Poutrincourt’s monopoly of trade, and the masters of certain ships of St. Malo and Rochelle boasted to the Indians that they would devour Poutrincourt as the fabled Gougou would a poor savage. This was an insult our nobleman was not disposed to endure, so accompanied by the missionary Biard he crossed over to St. John and proceeded along the coast as far as Passamaquoddy. The offenders were sternly admonished and compelled to acknowledge his authority. Later it was discovered that they had carried away nearly all that was valuable of the fur trade for that season.

Biard at this time succeeded in reconciling Poutrincourt and the younger Pontgrave who for some misdemeanor had been banished from Port Royal and had spent the previous winter among the Indians of the St. John river, living just as they did. Biard speaks of him as “a young man of great physical and mental strength, excelled by none of the savages in the chase, in alertness and endurance and in his ability to speak their language.”

Early in the month of October a little island in Long Reach called Emenenic—now known as Caton’s Island—was the scene of an exciting incident of which Biard has left us a picturesque description. It seems that Poutrincourt’s son, Biencourt, wished to exact submission on the part of a number of traders of St. Malo, who had established a trading post on the island. Accordingly accompanied by a party of soldiers and the Jesuit missionary he proceeded to the scene of operations. Father Biard did not admire, as do our modern travellers, the “reversing falls” at the mouth of our noble river. “The entrance to this river,” he says, “is very narrow and very dangerous * * and if you do not pass over it at the proper moment and when the water is smoothly heaped up, of a hundred thousand barques not an atom would escape, but men and goods would all perish.”

The party settled on the island of Emenenic included their captain, Merveille, and young Pontgrave. Biard in his narrative terms them “the Malouins”—or people of St. Malo. “We were still,” he says, “one league and a half from the island when the twilight ended and night came on. The stars had already begun to appear when suddenly towards the northward a part of the heavens became blood red; and this light spreading little by little in vivid streaks and flashes, moved directly 21 over the settlement of the Malouins and there stopped. The red glow was so brilliant that the whole river was tinged and made luminous by it. This apparition lasted about five minutes and as soon as it disappeared another came of the same form, direction and appearance.

“Our savages, when they saw this wonder, cried out in their language, ‘Gara, gara, maredo’—we shall have war, there will be blood.

“We arrived opposite the settlement when the night had already closed in, and there was nothing we could do except to fire a salute from the falconet, which they answered with one from the swivel gun.

“When morning came and the usual prayers ware said, two Malouins presented themselves upon the bank and signified to us that we could disembark without being molested, which we did. It was learned that their captains were not there but had gone away up the river three days before, and no one knew when they would return. Meanwhile Father Biard went away to prepare his altar and celebrate holy mass. After mass Sieur de Biencourt placed a guard at the door of the habitation and sentinels all around it. The Malouins were very much astonished at this way of doing things. The more timid considered themselves as lost; the more courageous stormed and fumed and defied them.

“When night came on Captain Merveille returned to his lodgings, knowing nothing of his guests. The sentinel hearing him approach uttered his “qui voila”—who goes there? The Malouin, thinking it was one of his own people, answered mockingly, ‘who goes there thyself?’ and continued upon his way. The sentinel fired his musket at him in earnest and it was a great wonder (merveille) that Merveille was not killed. But he was very much astonished and still more so when he saw some soldiers upon him with naked swords who seized him and took him into the house; you may imagine how soldiers and sailors act at such times, with their cries, their theats and their gesticulations.

“Merveille had his hands bound behind his back so tightly that he could not rest and he began to complain very pitifully. Father Biard begged Sieur de Biencourt to have the sufferer untied, alleging that if they had any fears about the said Merveille they might enclose him in one of the Carthusian beds, and that he would himself stay at the door to prevent his going out. Sieur de Biencourt granted this request.”

“Now I could not describe to you,” Biard goes on to say, “what a night this was; for it passed in continual alarms, gun shots and rash acts on the part of some of the men; so that it was feared with good reason that the prognostications seen in the heavens the night before would have their bloody fulfilment upon earth. I do not know that there was one who closed his eyes during the night. For me, I made many fine promises to our Lord never to forget His goodness if He were pleased to avert bloodshed. This He granted in His infinite mercy. * * Certainly Captain Merveille and his people showed unusual piety for notwithstanding this so annoying encounter, two days afterwards they confessed and took communion in a very exemplary manner, and at our departure they all begged me very earnestly, and particularly young du Pont, to come and stay with them as long as I liked. I promised to do so and am only waiting the opportunity, for in truth I love these honest people with all my heart.”


The missionaries, Biard and Masse, were anxious to cultivate the friendship of young du Pont, knowing that he could greatly assist them in learning the Indian language, a knowledge of which was essential to the work they hoped to accomplish amidst the forests of Acadia. Inspired by their motto “ad majoram Dei gloriam,” they shrank from no toil or privation. Father Masse passed the winter of 1611–12 with Louis Membertou and his family at the River St. John with only a French boy as his companion, his object being to increase his knowledge of the Indian language. He suffered many hardships, was at one time seriously ill, but eventually returned in safety to Port Royal. He describes the winter’s experience with the savages as “a life without order and without daily fare, without bread, without salt, often without anything; always moving on and changing, * * for roof a wretched cabin, for couch the earth, for rest and quiet odious cries and songs, for medicine hunger and hard work.”

The missionaries found immense difficulty in acquiring the language of the natives. The task was not so difficult so long as they sought to learn the names of objects that might be touched or seen, but when it came to such abstract words as virtue, vice, reason, justice, or to such terms as to believe, to doubt or to hope, “for these,” said Biard, “we had to labor and sweat; in these were the pains of travail.” They were compelled to make a thousand gesticulations and signs that greatly amused their savage instructors who sometimes palmed off on them words that were ridiculous and even obscene, so that the Jesuits labored with indifferent success in the preparation of their catechism. Their work was still in the experimental stage when the destruction of Port Royal by Argal in 1613, and the capture and removal of the missionaries brought everything to a stand and put an end to all attempts at colonization in Acadia for some years.

The Indians, however, were not forgotten; the Jesuits had failed, but in 1619 a party of Recollet missionaries from Aquitaine began a mission on the St. John. These humble missionary laborers had no historian to record their toils and privations, and unlike the Jesuits they did not become their own annalists. We know, however, that one of their number, Father Barnardin, while returning from Miscou to the River St. John, in the year 1623, died of hunger and fatigue in the midst of the woods, a martyr to his charity and zeal. Five years afterwards, the Recollets were compelled to abandon their mission which, however, was reoccupied by them before many years had passed. Meanwhile the fur traders established a post on the River St. John as a convenient centre for trade with the Indians.

The French, with young Biencourt at their head, still kept a feeble hold on Acadia. Biencourt had as his lieutenant, Charles de la Tour, who had come to the country many years before when a mere boy of 14 years of age. Biencourt and la Tour—such was their poverty—were compelled to live after the Indian fashion, roaming through the woods from place to place. In this rude life la Tour acquired an extensive knowledge of the country and its resources, and in all probability became familiar with the St. John river region. Biencourt at his death left him all his property in Acadia.

The destruction of Port Royal by Argal was the first incident in the struggle between England and France for sovereignty in Acadia, a struggle that for a century and a half was to remain undecided.


The next attempt at colonization was made on the part of the British, but it proved as futile as that of de Monts. James I. of England, in the year 1621, gave to Sir William Alexander, under the name of Nova Scotia, the peninsula which is now so called, together with a vast adjacent wilderness as a fief of the Scottish crown. For several years this favored nobleman seems to have contented himself with sending annually a ship to explore the shores of his domain and to trade with the Indians. Later he devised a scheme to facilitate the settlement of a colony by the creation of an order of baronets of Nova Scotia, each of whom was to receive an estate six miles in length and three in breadth in consideration of his assistance in the colonization of the country. In the course of 10 years more than 100 baronets were created, of whom 34 had estates within the limits of our own province. To that part of Nova Scotia north of the Bay of Fundy, now called New Brunswick, Sir William gave the name of the Province of Alexandria. The St. John river he called the Clyde and the St. Croix, which divided New England and New Scotland, he not inaptly called the Tweed.

When war broke out between England and France in 1627, young Charles la Tour found his position in Acadia very insecure. However, he was naturally resourceful and by his diplomacy and courage continued for many years to play a prominent part in the history of affairs. He sought and obtained from Louis XIII. of France a commission as the King’s lieutenant-general and at the same time obtained from Sir William Alexander the title of a Baronet of Nova Scotia. He procured from his royal master a grant of land on the River St. John and obtained leave from Sir William Alexander to occupy it.

By the treaty of St. Germain, in 1632, Acadia was ceded to France. Immediately after the peace de Razilly came to the country at the head of a little colony of settlers, many of them farmers, whose descendants are to be found among the Acadians of today. With de Razilly came d’Aulnay Charnisay, who was destined to become la Tour’s worst enemy. De Razilly died in 1635, leaving his authority to Charnisay, his relative and second in command. Charnisay made his headquarters at Port Royal and nobody disputed his authority except la Tour, who claimed to be independent of him by virtue of his commission from the crown and his grant from the Company of New France. The dissensions between la Tour and Charnisay at length culminated in war and the strife was long and bitter.



The Rival Feudal Chiefs.

Charles de Menou, Seigneur d’Aulnay Charnisay, came of a distinguished family of Touraine. He married Jeanne Motin, a daughter of the Seigneur de Courcelles. She came to Acadia with him in 1638. They resided at Port Royal where Charnisay in his log mansion reigned like a feudal lord.

Charles St. Etienne de la Tour was probably of less conspicuous lineage than his rival, although in legal documents he is called “a gentleman of distinguished birth.” He married Frances Marie Jacquelins who, according to the questionable testimony of his enemies, was the daughter of a barber of Mans. She was a Huguenot and whatever may have been her origin her qualities of mind and heart have deservedly won for her the title of “the heroine of Acadia.” Never had man more faithful ally than Marie Jacquelins proved to Charles la Tour.

As early as the year 1630 la Tour had be concerned in a project to erect a strong fort at the mouth of the St. John river in order to ward off the incursions of hostile adventurers and secure control of the far trade of the vast wilderness region extending from the mouth of the river nearly to the St. Lawrence. It was not, however, until the 15th of January, 1635, that the Company of New France granted him his tract of land at St. John, extending five leagues up the river and including within its bounds “the fort and habitation of la Tour.”

The French government endeavored to establish a good understanding between la Tour and Charnisay. A royal letter was addressed to the latter in which he was cautioned against interference with la Tour’s settlement at the River St. John. La Tour received a like caution as regards Charnisay’s settlement at Port Royal. Charnisay was commissioned the king’s lieutenant-general from Chignecto to Penobscot and la Tour was given like jurisdiction over the Nova Scotian peninsula. Thus la Tour’s settlement and fort at St. John lay within the limits of Charnisay’s government and Charnisay’s settlements at La Have and Port Royal lay within the government of la Tour, an arrangement not calculated to promote harmony on the part of the rivals.

It is rather difficult to get at all the facts of the quarrel that now rapidly developed between la Tour and Charnisay. The statements of their respective friends are very diverse, sometimes contradictory, and even the official records of the court of France are conflicting. Nicolas Denys, the historian, had reason to dislike Charnisay, and perhaps some of his statements concerning Charnisay’s barbarity should be received with caution. On the other hand the friends of Charnisay have cast aspersions an the character of Lady la Tour that seem entirely unwarranted.[2] The fact remains that Acadia, large as it was, not large enough for two such ambitious men as Charles la Tour and d’Aulnay Charnisay.

The exact site of la Tour’s fort at the mouth of the River St. John has been the subject of controversy, Dr. W. F. Ganong, a most conscientious and painstaking 25 student of our early history, has argued strongly in favor of its location at Portland Point (the green mound near Rankine’s wharf at the foot of Portland street); the late Joseph W. Lawrence and Dr. W. P. Dole have advocated the claims of Fort Dufferin, but the site usually accepted is that known as “Old Fort,” on the west side of the harbor opposite Navy Island. It seems probable that la Tour resided at one time at “Old Fort,” in Carleton, and his son-in-law the Sieur de Martignon lived there afterwards, but whether this was the site of the first fort built by la Tour and so bravely defended by his wife is at least a debatable question.

In the absence of positive information as to the exact location of la Tour’s first fort, it is perhaps unadvisable to disturb popular opinion until a thorough search of the records in France shall have been made in order if possible to settle the question.

Upon his arrival at St. John, la Tour speedily surrounded himself with soldiers and retainers and established an extensive traffic with the Indians, who came from their hunting grounds when the ships arrived laden with goods for the Indian trade. Doctor Hannay gives a graphic picture of la Tour’s situation:—

“A rude abundance reigned at the board where gathered the defenders of Fort la Tour. The wilderness was then a rich preserve of game, where the moose, caribou and red deer roamed in savage freedom. Wild fowl of all kinds abounded along the marsh, and interval lands of the St. John, and the river itself—undisturbed by steamboats and unpolluted by saw mills—swarmed with fish. And so those soldier-traders lived on the spoils of forest, ocean and river, a life of careless freedom, undisturbed by the politics of the world and little crossed by its cares. Within the fort, Lady la Tour led a lonely life, with no companions but her domestics and her children, for her lord was often away ranging the woods, cruising on the coast, or perhaps on a voyage to France. She was a devout Huguenot, but the difference of religion between husband and wife seems never to have marred the harmony of their relations.”

In the struggle between the rival feudal chiefs, Charnisay had the advantage of having more powerful friends at court, chief among them the famous Cardinal Richelieu.

Representations made concerning the conduct of la Tour led the French monarch in 1641 to order him to return to France to answer the charges against him. In the event of his refusal, Charnisay was directed to seize his person and property. The commission of la Tour was also revoked.

The contest now entered upon an acute stage. La Tour claimed that the royal order had been obtained through misrepresentation, and absolutely refused to submit to Charnisay. The latter, not daring to attack la Tour in his stronghold, repaired to France where he succeeded in fitting out five vessels and in obtaining the services of 500 soldiers to compel his rival to submission. He also procured another and more definite order from the king, directing him to seize la Tour’s fort and person and to send him to France as a rebel and a traitor.

Meanwhile la Tour was not idle. His friends at Rochelle sent out to him a large armed vessel, the Clement, loaded with ammunition and supplies and having on board 26 150 armed men. When the vessel neared St. John, it was discovered that Charnisay had established a blockade at the mouth of the harbor and that entrance was impracticable. In this emergency la Tour resolved to seek aid from the people of New England, whose trade and friendship he had begun to cultivate. Boston was then but a straggling village, in its 13th year, with houses principally of boards or logs gathered around its plain little meeting house. Eluding the vigilance of the blockading squadron, la Tour and his wife succeeded in getting safely on board the Clement, and at once repaired to Boston, where their arrival created some consternation, for Boston happened to be at that time in a particularly defenceless position. Governor Winthrop remarked: “If la Tour had been ill-minded towards us, he had such an opportunity as we hope neither he nor any other shall ever have the like again.” However, la Tour had come with no ill intent, and after some negotiations, which he conducted with much skill and discretion, he was allowed to hire from Edward Gibbons and Thomas Hawkins, four vessels with 50 men and 38 guns. He also obtained the assistance of 92 soldiers. With these he hurried back to the relief of his fort. Charnisay was compelled to raise the blockade and retire to his defences at Port Royal, where he was defeated with loss by the united forces of la Tour and his allies.

While at St. John, the Bostonians captured a pinnace belonging to Charnisay, laden with 400 moose and 400 beaver skins; their own pinnace went up the river to Grand Lake and loaded with coal. This little incident shows that the coal mines of Queens county were known and worked more than 250 years ago.

As the struggle with la Tour proceeded Charnisay became more and more determined to effect the destruction of his rival. La Tour’s resources were nearly exhausted and his situation had became exceedingly critical. He dared not leave his fort and yet he could not hold out much longer unaided. His brave wife was equal to the emergency; she determined herself to go to France for assistance. This was indeed an arduous undertaking for a woman, but her spirit rose to the occasion, and neither the perils of the deep nor the difficulties that were to confront her at the court of France served to daunt her resolute soul. Fearlessly she set out upon the long and dangerous voyage and in the course of more than a year’s absence endured disappointments and trials that would have crushed one less resolute and stout hearted. Her efforts in her native country were foiled by her adversaries, she was even threatened with death if she should venture to leave France, but setting the royal command at defiance she went to England and there chartered a ship to carry stores and munitions of war to St. John. The master of the ship, instead of proceeding directly to his destination, went up the River St. Lawrence to trade with the Indians. When, after a six months’ voyage, they at length entered the Bay of Fundy some of Charnisay’s vessels were encountered, and the English captain to avoid the seizure and confiscation of his ship was obliged to conceal Madame la Tour and her people and proceed to Boston. Here his own tribulations began for Madame la Tour brought an action against him for violation of his contract and after a four days’ trial the jury awarded her two thousand pounds damages. With the proceeds of this suit she 27 chartered three English ships in Boston and proceeded to St. John with all the stores and munitions of war that she had collected. The garrison at Fort la Tour hailed her arrival with acclamations of delight for they had begun to despair of her return.

Charnisay’s attempt to reduce la Tour to subjection was foiled for the time being, but his opportunity came a little later. In February, 1645, he learned of la Tour’s absence and that his garrison numbered only fifty men. He determined at once to attack the fort. His first attempt was an abject failure. The Lady la Tour inspired her little garrison with her own dauntless spirit, and so resolute was the defence and so fierce the cannon fire from the bastions that Charnisay’s ship was shattered and disabled and he was obliged to warp her off under the shelter of a bluff to save her from sinking. In this attack twenty of his men were killed and thirteen wounded. Two months later he made another attempt with a stronger force and landed two cannon to batter the fort on the land side. On the 17th of April, having brought his largest ship to within pistol shot of the water rampart, he summoned the garrison to surrender. He was answered by a volley of cannon shot and shouts of defiance.

The story of the taking of Fort la Tour, as told by Nicholas Denys, is well known. For three days Madame la Tour bravely repelled the besiegers and obliged them to retire beyond the reach of her guns. On the fourth day whilst she, hoping for some respite, was making her soldiers rest a miserable Swiss sentinel betrayed the garrison, and when the alarm was given the enemy were already scaling the walls. Lady la Tour even in so desperate an emergency as this succeeded in rallying the defenders, who bravely resisted the attack, though greatly outnumbered by their assailants. She only surrendered at the last extremity and under condition that the lives of all should be spared. This condition Charnisay is said to have shamefully violated; all the garrison were hanged, with the exception of one who was spared on condition of acting the part of executioner, and the lady commander was compelled to stand at the scaffold with a rope around her neck as though she were the vilest criminal.

It is but fair to state that our knowledge of the gross indignity to which Lady la Tour was subjected is derived from Denys’ narrative, and its authenticity has been questioned by Parkman. Nevertheless accounts of the transaction that have come to us from sources friendly to Charnisay admit that he hanged the greater number of his prisoners, “to serve as an example to posterity,” and that Madame la Tour was put into confinement where, as Charnisay’s reporter somewhat brutally observes, “she fell ill with spite and rage.” The Lady la Tour did not long survive her misfortunes. Scarcely three weeks had elapsed after the capture of the fort she had so gallantly defended when she died and was laid to rest near the spot consecrated by her devotion, the scene of so many hopes and fears.

There will always be a peculiar charm for us in the story of our Acadian heroine. Fearless, energetic, resolute undoubtedly she was, yet who shall say that the motives that actuated her were other than pure and womanly? A heart more loyal and true never beat in a human breast. She gave her life to protect her husband, 28 her children and the humbler dependents that followed their fortunes from the hands of a bitter and unscrupulous enemy.

The capture of his stronghold and the death of his faithful wife involved la Tour in what appeared to be at the time irreparable ruin. He found himself once more, as in his younger days, an exile and a wanderer.

The booty taken by Charnisay was valued at £10,000 sterling and as it had been accumulated in traffic with the Indians we may form some idea of the value of the trade of the St. John river at this time.

When the capture of la Tour’s fort was known at the court of Versailles the young king was well pleased. He confirmed Charnisay’s authority in Acadia and even extended it—on paper—from the St. Lawrence to Virginia. He could build forts, command by land and sea, appoint officers of government and justice, keep such lands as he fancied and grant the remainder to his vassals. He had also a monopoly of the fur trade and with Fort la Tour, the best trading post in Acadia, in his possession, the prospect for the future was very bright. Charnisay possessed the instincts of a colonizer and had already brought a number of settlers to Acadia. Everything at this juncture seemed to point to a growing trade and a thriving colony; but once again the hand of destiny appears. In the very zenith of his fortune and in the prime of manhood Charnisay was drowned on the 24th day of May, 1650, in the Annapolis river near Port Royal.

With Charnisay’s disappearance la Tour reappears upon the scene. His former defiant attitude is forgotten, he is recognized as the most capable man of affairs in Acadia and in September, 1651, we find him again in possession of his old stronghold at St. John. The king now gave him a fresh commission as lieutenant-general in Acadia with ample territorial rights. Disputes soon afterwards arose concerning the claims of the widow of d’Aulnay Charnisay; these disputes were set at rest by the marriage of the parties interested. The marriage contract, a lengthy document, was signed at Port Royal the 24th day of February, 1653, and its closing paragraph shows that there was little sentiment involved: “The said seigneur de la Tour and the said dame d’Aulnay his future spouse, to attain the ends and principal design of their intended marriage, which is the peace and tranquillity of the country and concord and union between the two families, wish and desire as much as lies with them that in the future their children should contract a new alliance of marriage together.”

There is no evidence to show that la Tour’s second marriage proved unhappy, though it is a very unromantic ending to an otherwise very romantic story. His second wife had also been the second wife of Charnisay who was a widower when he married her; her maiden name was Jeanne Motin. Descendants of la Tour by his second marriage are to be found in the families of the d’Entremonts, Girouards, Porliers and Landrys of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

La Tour and his new wife were quietly living at St. John the year after their marriage when four English ships of war suddenly appeared before the fort and demanded its surrender. These ships had in the first instance been placed at the disposal of the people of Massachusetts by Oliver Cromwell for the purpose of an expedition against the Dutch colony of Manhattan (now New York); but on the eve 29 of their departure news arrived that peace had been made with Holland. It was then decided that the expedition should proceed under Major Robert Sedgewick’s command to capture the French strongholds in Acadia. This was a bold measure for England and France were then ostensibly at peace. La Tour at once saw that resistance was useless and surrendered his fort and the flag of Britain was hoisted over the ramparts. However, la Tour’s address did not desert him; he went to England and laid before Cromwell his claim as a grantee under the charter of Sir William Alexander. He proved as skilful a diplomatist as ever and obtained, cojointly with Thomas Temple and William Crowne, a grant which practically included the whole of Acadia.

La Tour, now more than 60 years of age, was sagacious enough to see that disputes were sure again to arise between England and France with regard to Acadia, and not wishing to be the football of fortune, sold his rights to Sir Thomas Temple his co-partner, and retired to private life. He died in 1666 at the age of 72 years and his ashes rest within the confines of his beloved Acadia.



French Commanders of Acadia.

After the capture of Fort la Tour by Sedgewick’s Massachusetts invaders in 1654, Acadia remained nominally in possession of the English for twelve years. Half a century had elapsed since the attempt of de Monts to establish his colony, yet little progress had been made in the settlement of the country and the valley of the St. John remained an almost unbroken wilderness. The first English trading post on the river, of which we have any knowledge was that established in 1659 by Sir Thomas Temple at the mouth of the Jemseg.

As related in the last chapter, la Tour, Temple and Crowne received from Oliver Cromwell a grant that included nearly the whole of Acadia, and la Tour soon after sold his right to Temple, his co-partner. The latter decided to establish a fortified post at the Jemseg as more convenient for the Indian trade and less exposed to marauders than the fort at the mouth of the river. There can be little doubt that Temple would soon have enjoyed a flourishing trade, but unfortunately for his prospects, Acadia was restored to France by the treaty of Breda, in 1667. He attempted to hold possession of his lands, claiming that they did not fall within the boundaries of Acadia, but at the expiration of three years, during which there was considerable correspondence with the home authorities, he received the peremptory orders of Charles II. to surrender the fort to the Sieur de Soulanges. In the formal deed of surrender the fort is termed “Fort Gemisick, 25 leagues up the River St. John.” It was a palisaded enclosure, with stakes 18 feet high connected by cross pieces fastened with nails to the stakes and firmly braced on the inside with pickets nine feet high leaned against the stakes. The gate of the fort was of three thicknesses of new plank. It was evidently a frail defence, but sufficient for the Indian trade. The armament consisted of five iron guns, varying in weight from 300 pounds to 625 pounds, mounted on wooden platforms. Within the palisade was a house 20 paces by 10, two chimneys, a forge, two sheds and a store house. The fort stood on a small mound near the top of a hill, less than 100 yards from the bank of the Jemseg river. It commanded an extensive view both up and down the River St. John. A fragment of the rampart is still visible, and numerous relics have from time to time been dug up at the site or in the vicinity. The fort site is now owned by Mr. Geo. F. Nevars.

After the treaty of Breda the Chevalier Grand-fontaine was appointed to command in Acadia, with Pierre de Joibert, Seigneur de Soulanges et Marson, as his lieutenant. One of the first acts of Grand-fontaine was to have a census taken, from which we learn that there were then only a little more than 400 people in Acadia, very few of whom were to be found north of the Bay of Fundy. Grand-fontaine was recalled to France in 1673, and Chambly, who had been an officer in the famous Carignan Salieres regiment, succeeded him as commandant. The control of affairs in New France was now transferred to Quebec, where a governor-general and intendant, or lieutenant-governor, resided.

About this time large tracts of land were granted as “seigniories” by Count Frontenac and his successors. The seignior was usually a person of some consideration 31 by birth and education. He received a free grant of lands from the crown on certain conditions; one of these was that whenever the seigniory changed hands the act of “faith and homage” was to be tendered at the Castle of St. Louis in Quebec. The tendering of faith and homage was quite an elaborate ceremony, in which the owner of the land, divesting himself of arms and spurs, with bared head, on bended knee, repeated before the governor, as representative of the sovereign, his acknowledgement of faith and homage to the crown. Provision was made in all seignioral grants for the reservation of oaks for the royal navy, of lands required for fortifications or highways, and of all mines and minerals; the seignior was also required to reside on his land or to place a certain number of tenants thereon and to clear and improve a certain portion within a stated time. From the year 1672 to the close of the century as many as 16 seigniories were granted on the St. John river, besides others in various parts of New Brunswick. The first in order of time was that to Martin d’Arpentigny Sieur de Martignon. It included a large tract at the mouth of the River St. John, on the west side of the harbor, extending six leagues up the river from Partridge Island (Isle de la Perdrix) and six leagues in depth inland. This seigniory would now include Carleton and the parishes of Lancaster, Musquash and Westfield. The owner of this valuable property is described as “an old inhabitant of Acadia.” He married Jeanne de la Tour, only daughter of Charles la Tour by his first wife: she was born in Acadia in 1626. It is stated in his grant that he intended to bring over people from France to settle his seigniory, also that he was a proprietor of lands on the River St. John “from the River de Maquo to the mines of the said country of Acadia.”[3]

After la Tour’s death his son-in-law, the Sieur de Mantignon, seems to have taken up his abode at the old fort on the west side of the harbor, which in Franquet’s map of 1707 is called “Fort de Martinnon.”

In the little world of Acadia, Pierre de Joibert, sieur de Soulanges, played a leading part during his eight years residence. He was a native of the little town of Soulanges in the old French province of Champagne. He had served as lieutenant in Grand-fontaine’s company of infantry and came with that officer to Acadia. It is said that “he rendered good and praiseworthy service to the king both in Old and New France.” As a recognition of those services he was granted, October 20, 1672, a seigniory at the mouth of the St. John on the east side of the river a league in depth and extending four leagues up the river; this seigniory seems to have included the present city of St. John—Carleton excepted. The Sieur de Soulanges, however, did not reside there but at the Jemseg. This is evident from the fact that the document that conveyed to him his St. John seigniory gave him in addition “the house of fort Gemesik,” which the great states “he shall enjoy for such time only as he shall hold his commission of commander on the said river in order 32 to give him a place of residence that he may act with more liberty and convenience in everything relating to the king’s service.” The wife of Soulanges was Marie Francoise, daughter of Chartier de Lotbeniere, attorney-general of Quebec. Their daughter Louise Elizabeth was born at “Fort Gemesik” in 1673.

The sieur de Soulanges did not long enjoy peaceable possession of his place of residence; disturbance came from an entirely unexpected quarter. A band of Dutch marauders under their leader Arenson in the summer of 1674 pillaged and greatly damaged the fort and seized and carried off its commander, but soon after set him at liberty. As a recompense for this misfortune Soulanges received the grant of a large tract of land at the Jemseg, two leagues in depth and extending a league on each side of the fort. It is stated in the grant that “he had made various repairs and additions to the fort in order to make it habitable and capable of defence, there having been previously only a small wooden house in ruins surrounded by palisades half fallen to the ground, in fact it would have been better to have rebuilt the whole, for he would yet have to make a large outlay to put it in proper condition on account of the total ruin wrought by the Dutch (les Hollandois) when they made him their prisoner in the said fort two years ago.”

The little daughter of Soulanges, whose infant slumbers were disturbed by these rude Dutch boors, was afterwards the marchioness de Vaudreuil, the wife of one governor general of Canada and the mother of another.

It is evident the authorities at Quebec knew little of the value of the lands on the St. John river or they would hardly have granted them with such prodigality. The Sieur de Soulanges seems to have been highly favored by Frontenac for the three seigniories granted to him included an area of more than a hundred square miles. The one at the mouth of the river possessed all those natural advantages that have made St. John the leading commercial city of the maritime provinces. That at the Jemseg was for a short time the head quarters of French power in Acadia and in its modest way the political capital of the country. The third seigniory—at the very heart of which lay the site of Fredericton—remains to be described. In the grant to Soulanges it is termed, “the place called Nachouac (Nashwaak), to be called hereafter Soulanges, upon the River St. John 15 leagues from Gemesk, two leagues on each side of said river and two leagues deep inland.” The grant was made in consideration of the services rendered by Soulanges and to encourage him to continue those services; it was made so large because little of it was thought to be capable of cultivation. This seigniory would include at the present day the city of Fredericton and its suburbs, the town of Marysville, villages of Gibson and St. Mary’s and a large tract of the surrounding country; the owner of such a property today would be indeed a multi-millionaire.

Upon Chambly’s appointment as governor of Granada he was succeeded as governor of Acadia by the Sieur de Soulanges who did not, however, long enjoy the honors of his new position, for he died about the year 1678 and his widow and children soon afterwards removed to Quebec. Count Frontenac’s interest in the family continued, and on March 23, 1691, a grant of a large tract of land on the River St. John was made to Marie Francoise Chartier, widow of the Sieur de Soulanges. Her seigniory included the larger portion of 33 Gagetown parish in Queens county, the central point being opposite her old residence or, as the grant expresses it, “vis-a-vis la maison de Jemsec.”

The seigniories granted to Soulanges and his widow proved of no value to their descendants; either the titles lapsed on account of non-fulfilment of the required conditions, or the lands were forfeited when the country passed into the hands of the English.

Louise Elizabeth Joibert, the daughter of Soulanges, who was born on the River St. John, was educated at the convent of the Ursulines in Quebec. At the age of seventeen she married the Marquis Vaudreuil, a gentleman thirty years her senior. She is described as a very beautiful and clever woman possessed of all the graces which would charm the highest circles; of rare sagacity and exquisite modesty. She was the mother of twelve children. Her husband, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, was for twenty-two years governor general of Canada, and her son held the same position when the French possessions passed into the hands of the English; he was consequently the last governor general of New France.

La Valliere succeeded the Sieur de Soulanges and was for six years commander of Acadia. He cared little for the dignity or honor of his position provided he could use it for his own benefit. He established a small settlement at the River St. John and engaged in fishing and trading. Many complaints were preferred against him by rival traders. They alleged that he encouraged the English to fish on the coasts, granting them licenses for the purpose, that he traded with them in spite of the king’s prohibition; also that he robbed and defrauded the savages.

These charges seem to have been well founded. An Indian captain named Negascouet says that as he was coming from Neguedchecouniedoche, his usual residence, he was met by the Sieur de la Valliere, who took from him by violence seventy moose skins, sixty martins, four beaver and two otter, without giving him any payment, and this was not the first time la Valliere had so acted.

In 1685 la Valliere was replaced by Perrot whose conduct was, if possible, even more reprehensible than that of his predecessor. He was such a money making genius that he thought nothing of selling brandy to the Indians by the pint and half-pint before strangers and in his own house, a rather undignified occupation certainly for a royal governor of Acadia.

Examples such as these on the part of those in authority naturally found many imitators, indeed there was at this time a general disposition on the part of young men of the better families in New France to become “coureurs de bois,” or rangers of the woods, rather than cultivators of the soil. The life of a coureur de bois was wild and full of adventure, involving toil and exposure, but the possible profits were great and the element of danger appeared in the eyes of many an additional fascination. The rulers of New France from time to time enacted stringent laws against these “outlaws of the bush” but they were of little avail. The governor of Quebec felt compelled to represent the conduct of the Canadian noblesse in unfavorable terms to his royal master. “They do not,” he writes, “devote themselves to improving their land, they mix up in trade and send their children to trade for furs in the Indian villages and in the depths of the forest in spite of the prohibition of his majesty.”


The rapid progress of New England caused Louis XIV to express dissatisfaction at the slow development of Acadia, and he desired a report of the condition of the colony to be transmitted to Versailles. Monsieur de Meulles, the intendant, accordingly visited Acadia in 1686 where he found the French settlements “in a neglected and desolate state.” He caused a census to be taken which showed the total population to be 915 souls, including the garrison at Port Royal. There were at that time only five or six families on the St. John river. Bishop St. Vallier made a tour of Acadia the same year, visiting all the Indians and French inhabitants he could find. The Marquis de Denonville in a letter to the French minister of November 10, 1686, announced the safe return of the bishop to Quebec after a most fatiguing journey and adds: “He will give you an account of the numerous disorders committed in the woods by the miserable outlaws who for a long while have lived like the savages without doing anything at all towards the tilling of the soil.”


Par M. L’Evèque de Quebec

Chez Robert Pepie, ruë S. Jacques,
à l’image S. Basile, au dessus de la
Fontaine S. Severin.


Many interesting incidents of the tour of Mgr. St. Vallier are related in a work entitled “The Present State of the Church and of the French Colony in New France,” printed in Paris in 1688. A fac-simile of the title page of the original edition appears opposite. As this rare little volume contains the first published references to the upper St. John region some extracts from its pages will be of interest. The bishop was accompanied by two priests and five canoe men. They left the St. Lawrence on the 7th of May and proceeded by way of the Rivers du Loup and St. Francis to the St. John.

“Our guides,” the bishop says, “in order to take the shortest road, conducted us by a route not usually traveled, in which it was necessary sometimes to proceed by canoe and sometimes on foot and this in a region where winter still reigned; we had sometimes to break the ice in the rivers to make a passage for the canoes and sometimes to leave the canoes and tramp amid snow and water over those places that are called portages (or carrying places) because it is necessary for the men to carry the canoes upon their shoulders. In order the better to mark our route we gave names to all these portages as well as to the lakes and rivers we had to traverse.

“The St. Francis is rather a torrent than a river; it is formed by several streams which descend from two ranges of mountains by which the river is bordered on the right and left; it is only navigable from the tenth or twelfth of May until about the end of June; it is then so rapid that one could make without difficulty twenty to twenty-five leagues in a day if it were not crossed in three or four places by fallen trees, which in each instance occupy about fifteen feet of space, and if they were cut out, as could be done with very little expense, the passage would be free; one would not suppose that it would cost 200 pistoles to clear the channel of these obstacles which much delay the traveler.

“The River St. John is of much greater extent and beauty than that just named, its course is everywhere smooth and the lands along its banks appear good; there are several very fine islands, and numerous tributary rivers abounding in fish enter its channel on both sides. It seemed to us that some fine settlements might be made between Medogtok and Gemesech, especially at a certain place 36 which we have named Sainte Marie, where the river enlarges and the waters are divided by a large number of islands that apparently would be very fertile if cultivated. A mission for the savages would be well placed there: the land has not as yet any owner in particular, neither the king nor the governor having made a grant to any person.”

The place here referred to by St. Vallier afterwards became the mission of Ekouipahag or Aukpaque. A mission for the Indians has been maintained in that vicinity, with some interruptions, to the present day. The islands which the bishop mentions are the well known and beautiful islands below the mouth of the Keswick stream. There is no mention by St. Vallier of the Indian village at Aukpaque, which was probably of rather later origin: there may have been a camping ground in that locality, however, for the Indians had many camping places on the islands and intervals, particularly at the mouths of rivers, to which they resorted at certain seasons. The name Ekouipahag or, as our modern Indians call it, Ek-pa-hawk, signifies “the head of the tide,” or beginning of the swift water. The charms of the place have excited the admiration of many a tourist since St. Vallier’s day. At the time of the Acadian expulsion a number of fugitives, who escaped their pursuers, fled for refuge to the St. John river, and took up their abode at this spot where they cultivated the intervals and islands until the arrival of the Loyalists in 1783, when they were again obliged to look for situations more remote.

The progress of Bishop St. Vallier coming down the St. John river was expeditious, the water being then at freshet height. At the mouth of the Madawaska, which he named St. Francois de Sales, he met a small band of savages, who pleaded for a missionary. The day following, May 17th, he came to the Grand Falls, or as he calls it “le grand Sault Saint Jean-Baptiste.” His book contains the first published description of this magnificent cataract[4]. The rapidity of the journey is seen in the fact that the bishop and his party slept the next night at the Indian village of Medoctec, “the first fort of Acadia,” eighty miles below the Grand Falls. Here they found a hundred savages, who were greatly pleased when informed that the bishop had come for the purpose of establishing a mission for their benefit. This promise was fulfilled soon after by the sending to them the Recollet missionary Simon, of whom we shall hear more ere long. It is evident that the French adventurers the bishop encountered in the course of this wilderness journey led a pretty lawless life, for he observed in his narrative: “It is to be wished that the French who have their habitations along this route, were so correct in their habits as to lead the poor savages by their example to embrace Christianity, but we must hope that in the course of time the reformation of the one may bring about the conversion of the other.”

Medoctec was undoubtedly the principal Indian village on the St. John at this time; it was situated on the right bank of the river, eight miles below the 37 Town of Woodstock. Here the Maliseets had a palisaded fort and large cabin, similar to that described by Lescarbot at the village Ouigoudy on Navy Island, where de Monts was welcomed by Chkoudun in 1604. The only other fortification constructed by the Indians on the St. John river, so far as known, was that at the mouth of the Nerepis, at Woodman’s Point, called by Villebon, in 1697, “Fort des Sauvages de Nerepisse.” It was evidently merely a palisaded enclosure, and on Southack’s map of that period is marked “Wooden Fort.”

Hitherto the Indians of Acadia had lived peaceably with the whites, but the closing years of the seventeenth century were destined to witness a sad transformation.



King William’s War.

There lived at Quebec in the latter part of the seventeenth century one Charles le Moyne, seigneur de Longueil, who is called by Charlevoix the Baron de Becancourt; he was of Norman extraction, but his sons were natives of New France. As was the custom with the French noblesse each son adopted a surname derived from some portion of the ancient family estate. At least five of Becancourt’s sons were prominent in the affairs of Acadia; they are known in history as Menneval, Portneuf, Villebon, d’Iberville and des Isles.

In 1687 Menneval replaced Perrot as governor of Acadia, and as the conduct of Perrot had given rise to grave dissatisfaction his successor received elaborate instructions concerning his duties. He was to rebuild the defences of Acadia, to resist the encroachments of the English, to suppress the lawless trade of the Coureurs de bois, to deal kindly and honestly with the savages, taking care to promote their conversion to the Christian faith, and to restore to the crown all seigniories and granted lands that had not been occupied or improved.

The year that followed Menneval’s appointment was notable for the outbreak of the most dreadful Indian war in the annals of Acadia. All the tribes east of the Merrimac took part in it, including the Maliseets and Micmacs. This war is known in history as King William’s war, from the name of the English monarch in whose reign it occurred. It lasted with little intermission for ten years, and during its progress the settlers of eastern New England suffered the most fearful outrages at the hands of the infuriated savages. Every settlement in Maine save Wells, York, Kittery and the Isle of Shoals was over run, and a thousand white people killed or taken prisoners.

As in the case of other wars which the Indians have waged with the whites, the latter were responsible for its origin. About twelve years before it broke out, Major Waldron treacherously seized a band of Indians at Dover in New Hampshire and sent them to Boston, where several of them were hanged for alleged complicity in Philip’s war[5] and others sold into slavery. This despicable act the Indians never forgot nor forgave.

The immediate cause of King William’s war, however, was the ill considered act of Governor Andros of pillaging the trading post of Baron de St. Castin, at Penobscot. St. Castin had formerly served in the Carignan Salieres regiment under Frontenac, but for twenty years had lived in this region, where he had married a daughter of the Maliseet chieftain Madockawando and was highly esteemed by the savages.

It was at the instigation of St. Castin and Madockawando that the Indians determined to take the war path. The first notable incident of the war was the destruction of Dover, where Major Waldron and twenty-two others were killed and twenty-nine taken prisoners. This occurred in June, 1689, and the story of the affair, as told by the St. John river Indians to their English captive, John Gyles, is in substance as follows:—


There was a truce with the Indians for some days, during which time two squaws came into the garrison. They told Major Waldron that a number of Indians were not far away with a considerable quantity of beaver and would be there to trade with him the next day. The weather was inclement and the women begged leave to lodge in the garrison. Some of the people were much opposed to this, but the major said: “Let the poor creatures lodge by the fire.” The defences of the place were of the weakest kind, the gates had no locks but were fastened with pins and the garrison kept no watch. The squaws had a favorable opportunity to prosecute their design. They went into every apartment observing the number in each, and when all the people were asleep arose and opened the gates, gave the signal agreed upon and the other Indians came to them and, having received an account of the state of the garrison, they divided their forces according to the number of the people in each apartment and soon took or killed them all. Major Waldron lodged within an inner room and when the Indians broke in upon him he cried out: “What now! What now!” and jumping out of his bed seized his sword and drove them before him through two or three doors, but upon his turning about towards the apartment he had just left, an Indian came up behind him and knocked him on the head with his hatchet, which stunned him and he fell. They then seized him, dragged him out, and setting him up on a long table in his hall, bade him “judge Indians again.” Then they cut and stabbed him and he cried out “O Lord! O Lord!” They called for his book of accounts and ordered him to cross out all the Indian debts, he having traded much with them. Then one and another gashed his naked breast, saying in derision: “I cross out my account.” Then cutting a joint from a finger, one would say: “Will your fist weigh a pound now?” This in allusion to his having sometimes used his fist as a pound weight in buying and selling. And so they proceeded to torture him to death with every refinement of savage cruelty, after which they burned the garrison post and drew off.

A few days after this tragic event a number of people were killed by the Indians at Saco, and in the month of August the important post at Pemaquid, midway between the Kennebec and Penobscot rivers, was taken and the adjoining settlement destroyed. According to Charlevoix a large number of St. John river Indians participated in this exploit. Among their prisoners was a lad named Gyles whose experience during the nine years he lived in captivity on the St. John river is told in his very interesting narrative published in Boston in 1736. We shall have more to say about Gyles and his narrative further on, but it may be observed in passing that we are greatly indebted to him for the knowledge we possess of the life of the Indians of the River St. John two centuries ago. As Doctor Hannay well observes: “By the light of such a narrative we are able to perceive how wretched was the lot of an Acadian Indian, even during the period when his very name carried terror to the hearts of the settlers of Maine and New Hampshire. Modern civilization may have degraded him in some respects but it has at least rescued him from the danger of starvation and also from the cruel necessity of abandoning his kindred to perish when unable longer to supply their own wants or endure the constant journeys necessitated by the nature of their nomad life.”


Early in 1690 Count Frontenac dispatched an expedition from Quebec to ravage the New England settlements; their leader was Portneuf, brother of Menneval and Villebon. There were fifty French and seventy Indians in the original party, which was afterwards joined by thirty-six French and a large band of Maliseets from the St. John, also by the Indians of Passamaquoddy and Penobscot, making a war party of five hundred men. On the 26th of May they attacked the town of Falmouth—now Portland. The inhabitants fled for protection within the ramparts of Fort Loyal. At the expiration of four or five days the garrison was obliged to surrender and Portneuf promised the vanquished quarter and a guard to the nearest English town. The terms of surrender were shamefully violated, Fort Loyal and Falmouth were reduced to ashes and over one hundred men, women and children murdered by the savages. From May to October their bodes lay exposed to the elements and wild beasts but were finally buried by Major Benjamin Church as he passed on an expedition to the eastward.

To revenge themselves on the French, whom they regarded as the instigators of this savage warfare, the New Englanders fitted out an expedition under Sir William Phips which captured Port Royal and carried Menneval, the governor, away a prisoner. His brother Villebon, who suceeded to the command, concluded to abandon Port Royal and to re-establish the post at the mouth of the Jemseg on the River St. John.

Villebon, with all his faults, is one of the most picturesque characters in the history of Acadia. He was greatly admired by the savages who deemed him to be every inch a chief. Diereville, the poet historian, saw him at St. John in 1700 and describes him as “a great man of fine appearance and full of energy.” Having served for several years in a subordinate capacity at Port Royal he was now called upon to fill a difficult position and it must be confessed he acted with zeal and ability. Adverse fortune embittered him at the outset. Two pirate vessels came to Port Royal while he was absent preparing for his removal to the St. John river. These marauders burned the houses and killed the cattle; they even hanged two of the inhabitants and burned a woman and her children in her own dwelling. What was still worse for Villebon they captured the ship Union, just arrived from France with merchandize, provisions, ammunition and presents for the savages.

Villebon was well fitted for such an emergency as this; he assembled his dusky allies, explained the loss of their presents and offered himself to go to their great father, the King of France, for more. The Indians pledged their fidelity and promised him one hundred and fifty warriors the next spring to aid him in his designs against the English.

At the court of France Villebon was favorably received and returned with a commission from the king to command in Acadia. Soon after he abandoned the Jemseg Fort and moved up the river to the mouth of the Nashwaak where in the upper angle formed by the junction of that river with the St. John he built in 1692 a new fort which he called Fort St. Joseph. It was an ordinary palisaded fort about 120 feet square, with four bastions, and had eight cannon mounted. In the old French documents of the period it is usually called Fort Nachouac, with many varieties of spelling, such as Naxoat, Naxouac, Natchouak, etc. The older French 41 maps place the fort on the south, or Fredericton side of the river, but there can be no doubt as to its proper location in the upper angle formed by the junction of the River Nashwaak with the St. John. The greater portion of the site has been washed away, but traces of the ramparts were visible within the memory of those yet living and many cannon balls and other relics have been found in the vicinity.

Villebon had now been some years in Acadia, for Bishop St. Vallier says that he was in command of the garrison at Port Royal at the time of his visit there in 1686. He had ample opportunity of becoming familiar with the country and its native inhabitants, and was in this way fitted to second the ambitious designs of the French, which embraced the destruction of New York and the conquest of New England.

When Count Frontenac came out to Quebec in 1689, to fill for the second time the position of Governor and Commander-in-Chief of New France, he was in his seventieth year, yet his old time vigor and determination were unabated. It was part of his plan to avail himself of the hostility of the savages to wear down and discourage the English settlers and so to pave the way for French supremacy. He had no abler lieutenants in the work he had undertaken than the sons of Charles le Moyne, of whom Villebon, Portneuf and d’Iberville were particularly conspicuous in the Indian wars. Immediately after his arrival, Frontenac encouraged the savages to begin those operations against the English settlements known in the history of New England as the “winter raids.” Montague Chamberlain tersely describes the situation thus: “Frontenac decided that he could only succeed in holding Canada for the French crown by enlisting the aid of the savages, and to secure that aid he must permit them to make war in their own savage way, and so from all the doomed hamlets came the same horrifying tale—houses burned, men, women and children slaughtered or carried into captivity.”

It is difficult at this distant day to conceive the horrors of the savage warfare that prevailed at this time on the New England frontiers. The Indians roamed over the country like wolves, and the white settlers never knew when their appalling war whoop would ring in their startled ears. It was an age of cruelty and the outrages perpetrated provoked reprisals on the part of the New Englanders. The close alliance between the Indians and the French, and the fact that in several of the raids the savages were led by French officers, led to a bitter race hatred and mutual distrust between the descendants of the Saxon and the Gaul, which lasted for generations.

In the course of the desultory warfare that followed the destruction of Falmouth, more than 200 houses were burned in various parts of the country, and Frontenac himself speaks of the ravages of the savages as “impossible to describe.” On the 5th February, 1692, they raided the frontier settlement of York, which they left in ashes after killing about seventy-five persons and taking 100 prisoners—among those killed was the venerable Mr. Dummer, the minister of the place.

With the opening of the spring time Villebon received a delegation of 100 warriors of the Kennebec and Penobscot tribes at his fort. The visitors were welcomed with imposing ceremonies; there was the usual interchange of compliments and 42 speeches by the chiefs and captains, presents from the king were distributed and the inevitable banquet followed with its mirth and revelry. It was agreed at this conference to organize a great war party. Couriers were dispatched to summon all the tribes of Acadia and the response was general. The site of what is now the village of Gibson, opposite Fredericton, was dotted with the encampments of the Indians, and as the warriors arrived and departed, arrayed in their war paint and feathers, the scene was animated and picturesque. The Maliseets of the St. John sent their delegation from Medoctec, the Micmacs of the Miramichi arrived a few days later, and then came another band of Micmacs from Beaubassin (or Chignecto), accompanied by Father Baudoin, their priest. Speeches of welcome, presents and feasts were made in turn to all, and each band proceeded by the old and well known route[6] to the rendezvous on the Penobscot, near Oldtown (Maine.) Here there gathered a war party of at least 400 men, including a score of Frenchmen. Their first attack was made on the little village of Wells, where there were only some thirty men to resist the attack, but they were led by Captain Converse, a very courageous and determined officer, who had already tried the mettle of the savages and who was not to be overawed even by overwhelming numbers. The attacking party advanced with hideous yells, firing and calling on the English to surrender, but the bullets of the defenders was the only answer they received. Even the women of the settlement took part in the fight, passing ammunition to the men, loading their guns, and sometimes themselves firing on the enemy.

The savages became discouraged and offered favorable terms to the garrison, Converse replied: “We want nothing but men to fight with.” An Indian, who could speak English, shouted, “Don’t stay in the house like a squaw, come out and fight like a man!” Converse replied: “Do you think I am fool enough to come out with thirty men to fight five hundred?” The Indians at length abandoned the attack and retired greatly crest fallen. Thus a few determined men foiled one of the most formidable bands that ever took the war path in Acadia.

Same of the horrors of Indian warfare almost pass description and if Villebon did not sanction he at least did little to hinder the atrocities of his savage allies. He writes in his journal, “An English savage was taken on the lower part of the St. John river; I gave him to our savages to be burned, which they did the next day; one could add nothing to the torments that they made him suffer.”

From time to time the Indians appear to have grown weary of fighting. Their failure at Wells, the rebuilding of Fort Pemaquid and the erection of other fortifications by the now thoroughly aroused New Englanders, the desire for the ransom of relatives held by the enemy as hostages, and a suspicion that the French were making use of them in their own interest inclined them to make peace with the English. Villebon was obliged to exert all his influence to keep them on the war path. He flattered and feasted the chiefs, made presents to the warriors, provided powder and shot for their hunting and finally adopted Taxous, one of their most famous chiefs, as his brother and to honor the occasion gave him his own best coat.


The journals and correspondence of Villebon are full of interest to the student of affairs on the St. John. At this time there came annually to St. John harbor—then known by its Indian name, Menagoesche—a French man of war with supplies for Fort Nachouac and a variety of articles for the Indians. An inventory now in the Boston Public Library, dated 1693, shows that in that year the frigate “Suzanne” brought out for the “Malecites” a supply of powder, lead, guns, bayonets; also shirts, blankets, laced hats, etc. The arrival of the annual warships was eagerly looked for by the Indians and Villebon was able to make good use of the articles he received. The reference made by John Gyles in his narrative to the arrival of the ships from France is of interest. “There came annually,” he says, “one or two men of war to supply the fort which was on the river about 34 leagues from the sea. The Indians (of Medoctec) having advice of the arrival of a man of war at the mouth of the river, they about forty in number went on board, for the gentlemen from France made a present to them every year, and set forth the riches and victories of their monarch, etc. At this time they presented the Indians with a bag or two of flour with some prunes as ingredients for a feast.

“I, who was dressed up in an old greasy blanket without cap, hat or shirt, (for I had no shirt for six years, except the one I had on at the time I was made prisoner) was invited into the great cabin, where many well-rigged gentlemen were sitting, who would fain have had a full view of me. I endeavored to hide myself behind the hangings, for I was much ashamed, thinking how I had once worn clothes and of my living with people who could rig as well as the best of them.... This was the first time I had seen the sea during my captivity, and the first time I had tasted salt or bread. My master presently went on shore and a few days later all the Indians went up the river.”

In connection with Villebon’s endeavors to keep the savages loyal to the king of France there are items in the accounts transmitted by him to the French minister that are quite interesting and suggestive, as for example the following:

“To the wife of Nadanouil, a savage, for making two pairs of snowshoes for the King, tobacco 2 lbs.”

“Jan., 1696. To 2 savages come from the river of Medoctic to bring some letters of Father Simon to Mon. de Villebon, flour, 12 lbs.; tobacco, 8 oz.

“July 10, 1696. M. Thury, missionary, having arrived with Taxous, chief of the Canibas and other savages from Pentagouet; brandy, 1 gallon; tobacco, 2 lbs.”

The garrison at Fort Nashwaak was always small, comprising only about forty soldiers besides an armorer, gunner and surgeon. There was also a chaplain of the Recollet order, Father Elizee, who is described as a man so retiring by nature as to meddle with nothing outside his ministerial duty. This was not the case with the other missionary priests, however, who influenced by patriotic motives and encouraged by the French authorities took quite an energetic part in helping on the warfare against New England. The French owed much of the aid afforded their cause, including the co-operation of their Indian allies, to the zeal of the missionaries settled on the different rivers, Ralle on the Kennebec, Thury on the Penobscot and Simon on the St. John. The only woman who lived within the ramparts of Fort Nashwaak seems to have been the wife of the armorer. She was deemed one of the garrison and received her daily allowance with the rest.


In spite of Villebon’s energy and ability and of his zeal in the service of his country very serious complaints were made against him by some of the French people living on the St. John river. They asserted that his threats and ill usage had caused several of the settlers to abandon their habitations and remove to Quebec with their families; that he tried to monopolize the fur trade, sending his brothers Portneuf and des Isles into the woods to engage in unlawful traffic with the Indians; that the former was guilty of gross immorality and the latter traded the peltry obtained from the savages with one John Alden, an Englishman, by whom it was carried to Boston. This John Alden was, by the way, the eldest son of the famous John Alden of the “Mayflower,” the Plymouth magistrate, by his wife Priscilla, the Puritan maiden immortalized by Longfellow. He made many trading voyages to the Bay of Fundy and on several occasions narrowly escaped capture by the French.

That there was some ground for the charges preferred against Villebon seems likely from the fact that most of the missionaries censured him and confirmed the reports of the inhabitants concerning the misconduct of his brothers. The chaplain at Fort Nachouac, however, spoke favorably of Villebon, although he was silent with regard to Portneuf. In his letters to the authorities in France, Villebon vigorously replies to his accusers and brings counter charges; he is seemingly very indignant with the d’Amour brothers of whom we shall hear more in another chapter.

In consequence of the charges preferred against him Portneuf was superseded by Villieu, an officer of reputation whom Count Frontenac sent to Acadia in October, 1693, to lead the savages against the English. This new lieutenant spent the winter at the Nashwaak fort and as soon as the ice was out of the river went in a canoe to Medoctec, where he assembled the chiefs who promised to assist him. He then proceeded to Penobscot resolved to put an end, if possible, to the parleys that the savages had been holding with the English and to incite them to renew the war. After a week’s negotiation, in which he was aided by the powerful influence of the missionaries Bigot and Thury, he returned to Fort Nachouac with a delegation of the Indians to receive the presents which the King of France had sent to them, and at the same time to secure the assistance of some of Governor Villebon’s soldiers. The governor, however, piqued by the dismissal of Portneuf, contented himself with entertaining the delegates. He declined to furnish provisions or supplies, and kept his soldiers from joining the expedition. Father Simon, the Recollet missionary on the St. John, also displayed little sympathy with Villieu and kept many of the Indians from joining him. However, with the help of the Penobscot and Kennebec tribes a band of 250 warriors was at last collected and Villieu placed himself at their head arrayed in the war paint and feathers of an Indian chief. It was decided to strike a blow at the settlement of Oyster River, twelve miles from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The English settlers, having been informed that peace had been made with the Indians and that they could now work with safety on their farms, were totally unprepared for an attack. Among their unprotected houses the carnage was horrible. One hundred persons, chiefly women and children, half naked from their beds, were tomahawked, shot, or killed by slower and more cruel methods, twenty seven were kept as prisoners.


After engaging in some minor depredations Villieu proceeded to Montreal accompanied by several of the chiefs where they presented a string of English scalps to Count Frontenac as a token of their success and received his hearty congratulations. Villieu thus summed up the results of the campaign: “Two small forts and fifty or sixty houses captured and burnt, and one hundred and thirty English killed or made prisoners.” He had done his work all too well and had sown such seeds of distrust between the English and the Indians as to render it almost impossible to re-establish peace between them. The enmity lasted for generations and almost every year witnessed some act of hostility even though the crowns of France and England were themselves at peace.

In the midst of their triumphs an appalling pestilence swept away great numbers of the Indians. On the River St. John more than one hundred and twenty persons died, including some of the most noted warriors and their chief. The pestilence scattered the savages in all directions and for a time their town of Medoctec was abandoned. A party of warriors who went with Montigny, an officer of Villebon’s garrison, to assist their brethren to the westward was sent back to Medoctec on account of the contagion that had broken out among them. The nature of the disease it is impossible at this distance of time to determine. It could scarcely have been smallpox, according to the description of John Gyles, who says: “A person seeming in perfect health would bleed at the mouth and nose, turn blue in spots and die in two or three hours.” The first outbreak of the pestilence was in the autumn of 1694. A year later Mon. Tibierge, agent of the company of Acadia, writes that “the plague (la maladie) had broken out afresh: there had died on the river more than 120 persons of every age and sex.”

The pestilence, however, did not put a stop to the Indian warfare. In June, 1695, Villebon assembled at his fort a general representation of the tribes of Acadia, including fourteen chiefs and their attendants; the conference lasted three days and the proceedings are reported at length in his journal. After the customary feasting and distribution of presents a standard of prices for the purchase and sale of goods was agreed upon more favorable to the natives than heretofore. The chiefs departed firmly resolved to continue the war against the English. Their opportunity did not come until the following summer when a combined effort on the part of the French and Indians resulted in the destruction of Fort William Henry at Pemaquid. This fortification had just been rebuilt by the colony of Massachusetts at a cost of £20,000 and was the strongest work the English colonists had up to that time erected in America. The walls had a compass in all of 747 feet and were of solid masonry, varying from 10 to 22 feet in height. Eight feet from the ground, where the walls had a thickness of six feet, there was a tier of 28 port holes. At one corner was a round tower 29 feet high. The fort was well manned and provisioned and was thought to be impregnable.

The leader of the enterprise, which resulted in the destruction of Fort William Henry, was Villebon’s brother d’Iberville, whose romantic career has earned for him the description of “the Cid of New France.” D’Iberville’s Indian auxiliaries included Micmacs from Cape Breton, a large band of Maliseets and many of their 46 kindred of Passamaquoddy, Penobscot and Kennebec. Two warships lately arrived from Quebec, accompanied the expedition.

Villebon left his fort on the 18th June to go to “Menagoesche” to await the coming of the French ships. On his arrival there he discovered the British ships Sorlings of 34 guns and Newport of 24 guns cruising near the harbor and sent information to d’Iberville in order that he might guard against surprise. Soon after entering the Bay of Fundy the French vessels sighted their antagonists and an engagement ensued in the course of which d’Iberville in the Envieux dismasted the smaller English vessel, the Newport, and obliged her to surrender. Favored by night and fog the Sorlings managed to escape after a combat with the Profond lasting three hours. The next day, July 15, 1696, the vessels put into St. John harbor, where they were welcomed by Villebon and Father Simon and a band of Indians. Before proceeding to the attack of Pemaquid an attempt was made to capture John Alden at Port Royal but with his usual good luck he sailed thence just before the arrival of the French. Villebon with Father Simon’s assistance contrived to collect 150 Indians—Maliseets and Micmacs—to join the expedition under his brother, which was further reinforced by a small vessel owned and commanded by the Sieur de Chauffours, an inhabitant of the St. John river.

The start of the expedition was not a very auspicious one, for on leaving the harbor of St. John (or “havre de Menuagoesche,” as Villebon calls it) at 2 o’clock on the afternoon of the 2nd of August, d’Iberville ran the Envieux upon a reef; however, the damage was not serious as the ship floated when the tide rose. At Penobscot Baron St. Castin joined the expedition with 130 Indians. The French priests Simon and Thury, as the event proved, were no mere figure heads; they actively assisted in the operations of the siege and at the same time restrained the passions of the savages. Batteries were erected within half cannon shot of the fort and it was summoned to surrender. Captain Chubb, the commander, proved to be a weak man for so responsible a position. He at first replied that though the sea were covered with French ships and the land with Indians he would not surrender unless compelled to do so, but the very next day ignominiously pulled down his flag. D’Iberville sent the garrison to Boston in the vessel belonging to the Sieur de Chauffours which he had brought from the St. John river. The people of New England were greatly vexed at the destruction of Pemaquid and enraged at the cowardly conduct of its commander. Father Simon got back to Fort Nachouac on the 29th August bringing the news of d’Iberville’s success.



Nachouac and Menagoueche.

It was now proposed by the French authorities to re-establish the stronghold at the mouth of the St. John. The old fort of four bastions so far remained that it could readily be restored; the ditches needed to be deepened, the parapets to be raised and new palisades constructed. It was thought that 150 men would suffice to garrison the post as well as that at the Nashwaak. The fort was needed to protect French privateers and French commerce. Many English vessels were brought to Menagoueche at this time by the privateersmen Baptiste and Guyon. The company of Acadia, with Tibierge as their agent, continued to develop a thriving trade, and it seems, too, that the forest wealth of the country was beginning to attract attention for Villebon, a year or two later, sent home to France a mast, as a specimen, 82 feet long, 31 inches in diameter at one end and 21 at the other.

The French privateers were not allowed to ply their vocation with impunity, they often had spirited encounters with the British ships in which there were losses on both sides.

In 1694 one Robineau of Nantes, who had taken several English vessels, was forced to burn his ship in St. John harbor, in order to escape capture by an English ship, and to defend himself on shore. The vessels employed as privateers evidently were small, for they sometimes went up the river to Villebon’s fort. The prisoners taken were kept at the fort or put in charge of the French inhabitants living on the river, and from time to time ransomed by their friends or exchanged for French prisoners taken by the English. Villebon informs us that in June, 1695, an English frigate and a sloop arrived at Menagoueche (St. John) on business connected with the ransom of eight captives who were then in the hands of the French. Messages were exchanged with Nachouac and the captain of the English ship, a jovial old tar, expressed a wish to meet Governor Villebon and “drink with him” and to see Captain Baptiste, whom he called a brave man, but his overtures were declined.

The ships Envieux and Profond, before proceeding to the attack of Fort Pemaquid, had landed at St. John a number of cannon and materials of all sorts to be used in the construction of the new fort. This project was not viewed with complacency by the people of New England, and Lieut.-Governor William Stoughton, of Massachusetts, thus explains the line of action proposed against the French in a communication addressed to Major Benjamin Church, the old Indian fighter, who had been sent from Boston in August, 1696, on an expedition against the settlements of Acadia: “Sir, His Majesty’s ship Orford having lately surprised a French shallop with 23 of the soldiers belonging to the fort (at Nashwaak) upon St. John’s river in Nova Scotia, together with Villieu, their captain, providence seems to encourage the forming of an expedition to attack that fort, and to disrest and remove the enemy from that post, which is the chief source from whence the most of our disasters do issue, and also to favor with an opportunity for gaining 48 out of their hands the ordnance, artillery, and other warlike stores and provisions lately supplied to them from France for erecting a new fort near the river’s mouth, whereby they will be greatly strengthened and the reducing of them rendered more difficult.”

Before the order from which the above extract is quoted was placed in Major Church’s hands he had arrived at St. John, having previously devastated the French settlements at Chignecto. Being desirous, if possible, to surprise the men engaged upon the new fort Church landed at Manawagonish Cove, a little to the west of the harbor; what followed we shall let him tell in his own quaint fashion. “Next morning early the Major, with his forces, landed to see what discovery they could make, travelled across the woods to the old fort or falls at the mouth of St. John’s river, keeping themselves undiscovered from the enemy. Finding that there were several men at work, and having informed themselves as much as they could, returned back (the enemy being on the other side of the river could not come at them). But night coming on and dark wet weather with bad travelling, were obliged to stop in the woods till towards next day morning and then went on board. Soon after the Major ordered all the vessels to come to sail and go into the mouth of the river, the French firing briskly at them, but did them no harm, and running fiercely upon the enemy they soon fled to the woods. The Major ordered a brisk party to run across a neck to cut them off from their canoes[7] which the day before they had made a discovery of. So the commander, with the rest, ran directly towards the new fort they were building, not knowing but they had some ordnance mounted. The enemy running directly to their canoes were met by our forces who fired at them, and killed one and wounded Corporal Canton, who was taken. The rest threw down what they had and ran into the woods. The prisoner Canton being brought to the Major told him if he would let his surgeon dress his wound and cure him he would be serviceable to him as long as he lived. So being dressed he was examined and gave the Major an account of the twelve great guns which were hid in the beach, below high water mark—the carriages, shot, and wheelbarrows, some flour and pork all hid in the woods.

“The next morning the officers being all ordered to meet together to consult about going to Vilboon’s fort, and none amongst them being acquainted but the Aldens, who said the water in the river was very low so that they could not get up to the fort; and the prisoner Canton told the commander that what the Aldens said was true * * so concluded it was not practicable to proceed. Then ordered some of the forces to get the great guns on board the open sloops and the rest to range the woods for the enemy, who took one prisoner and brought him in. * * Now having with a great deal of pains and trouble got all the guns, shot, and other stores aboard intended on our design which we came out first for. But the wind not serving, the commander sent out his scouts into the woods to seek for the enemy. And four of our Indians coming upon three Frenchmen undiscovered concluded that if the French should discover them they would fire at them and might kill one or more of them, which to prevent fired at the French, killed one and 49 took the other two prisoners. And it happened that he who was killed was Shavelere (Chevalier), the chief man there.”

Major Church’s design was to make a raid on the settlement of Baron St. Castin and his Indians at Penobscot by way of retaliation for the destruction of Fort William Henry at Pemaquid, but as he was sailing down the bay he met a small squadron having on board a reinforcement of 100 men under Colonel Hawthorne. The command now passed to Hawthorne as the senior officer, and it was decided to attempt the capture of Fort Nachouac. This was against the advice of Major Church, but as the expedition now numbered about 500 men, Hawthorne was unwilling to return to Boston without striking a blow at the chief stronghold of the French in Acadia.

Villebon was on the alert: he had stationed his ensign, Chevalier, with five scouts at the mouth of the river and on the 4th of October he learned of the presence of the English at Menagoueche. Chevalier was at first alarmed by the appearance of Church’s ships off Partridge Island, and sent word directly to Fort Nachouac; a day or two later he was killed by some of Church’s Indians as already related. Villebon sent his brother Neuvillette down the river to continue the look out and in the meantime made every possible preparation for a siege. His garrison, numbering about 100 soldiers, was busily employed in throwing up new intrenchments and mounting additional guns, word was sent to the French inhabitants of the vicinity to repair to the fort and assist in its defence, and Villebon, on the 11th October, sent an urgent message to Father Simon, the missionary at Medoctec, to get the Indians to come down as soon as possible if they wished to fight the English. He lost not a moment and having sent out word on all sides (the Indians being then dispersed upon the river) he arrived the afternoon of the 14th, with thirty-six warriors and expressed his desire to remain at the fort as the chaplain was absent. Two days later Neuvillette returned to the fort and reported that he had seen the enemy in great force about a league and a half below the Jemseg. The last preparations were now hurriedly made and on the evening of the 17th, Villebon caused the “generale” (or assembly) to be beat and all the garrison being drawn up under arms he addressed them in stirring words, bidding them to maintain the honor of their country and the reputation of French soldiers, adding that if any should be maimed in the approaching combat the king would provide for him during the rest of his life. This speech created the greatest enthusiasm and the cry of “Vive le roy” awoke the forest echoes and was borne over the waters. The same evening a dozen Frenchmen who lived in the vicinity arrived at the fort. Among them were the brothers Mathieu and Rene d’Amours and the privateersman Baptiste. Villebon assigned to Baptiste and Rene d’Amours the duty of heading the Indians and opposing the landing of the English.

The sketch on the next page, based upon a plan in the archives de la Marine, Paris[8] will serve to give an idea of the general character of Fort Nachouac. The 50 51 space of ground enclosed by the palisade was about 125 feet square; the site, as already stated, lay in the upper angle formed by the junction of the Nashwaak with the river St. John, nearly opposite the Cathedral in Fredericton. The general arrangement of the buildings is shown in the plan. At the rear of the enclosure is the commandant’s lodging, on the right hand side the guard house and on the left the soldiers’ barracks; at the front is the gate and in the lower left hand corner the bake oven; cannons were placed at each corner. A small room in the left end of the commandant’s lodging was fitted up as a chapel. The ditches and ramparts that surrounded the enclosure added considerably to the strength of the position. The bastions were so arranged that the space outside the walls was entirely commanded by the musketry fire of the defenders. The loopholes at the corners from which the fire was delivered are shown in the sketch.


Everything being now in order for the defence of his fort Villebon ordered the garrison to pass the night under arms, as from the barking of the dogs it was believed the enemy was drawing near. The next morning between eight and nine o’clock, whilst Father Simon was celebrating mass in the chapel, a shallop filled with armed men rounded the point below, followed by two others. The alarm was at once given and every man repaired to his post. The sloops approached within the distance of half a cannon shot when the guns of the fort opened on them and they were forced to retire below the point where they effected a landing. Villebon did not deem it prudent to oppose the landing as his men would have had to cross the Nashwaak river to do so and this would have been very imprudent. The English took up a position on the south side of the Nashwaak stream and threw up an earthwork upon which they placed two field guns from which they opened fire on the fort; a third gun of larger size was mounted soon afterwards nearer the fort, but not being sheltered it was not much used. The beseigers hoisted the royal standard of England and there were cheers and counter-cheers on the part of the combatants. The cannon fire was heavy on both sides but the guns of the fort being better mounted and well served had rather the advantage. There was also a sharp exchange of musketry fire, the St. John river Indians, from the bushes along the shore, engaging in a vicious fight with Church’s Indians on the opposite side of the stream. When darkness ended the day’s struggle the English had made little or no progress. The following night being very cold they made fires to keep themselves from freezing, but this afforded a sure mark for the French cannon, which opened on them with grape shot, and they were obliged to put them out and suffer the inclemency of the weather. Major Church’s men being almost bare of clothing from their long service, suffered extremely and were ill disposed to continue the siege. At daybreak the musketry fire from the fort recommenced and about 8 o’clock the English again got their guns into operation, but la Cote, who had distinguished himself the evening before by firing rapidly and accurately, dismounted one of their field guns and silenced the other.

It was now apparent that the fort could not be taken without a regular investment and in view of the lateness of the season this was not deemed advisable. The Massachusetts historian Mather quaintly observes, “The difficulty of the cold season so discouraged our men that after some few shot the enterprize found itself under too much congelation to proceed any further.” And so the following night the 52 New England troops re-embarked after lighting fires over a considerable extent of ground in order to deceive the French. When the morning dawned their camp was deserted and soon after Neuvillette, who had been sent down the river to reconnoitre, reported that after he had gone three leagues he found them embarked in four vessels of about 60 tons and going down the river with a fair wind. On their return towards the mouth of the river the invaders burned the house and barns of Mathieu d’Amours at Freneuse, opposite the Oromocto, and laid waste his fields. The sieur de Freneuse was himself so much injured by exposure during the siege that he died shortly afterwards. Major Church took back with him to Boston a Negro man of Marblehead, who had been taken prisoner by the French and kept amongst them for some time. He was probably the first of his race to set foot within the borders of New Brunswick.

In the siege of his fort Villebon lost only one man killed and two wounded while the English loss is said to have been eight soldiers killed and five officers and twelve soldiers wounded.

The effect of the capture of Pemaquid by d’Iberville and the repulse of the English by Villebon greatly encouraged the savages of Acadia in their hostility and the following summer another raid on the English settlements was planned. A large number of Micmacs came from the eastward, some of them from the Basin of Minas, with St. Cosme, their priest, at their head. They were entertained by Villebon, furnished with ammunition and supplies and sent on to the rendezvous at Penobscot. Father Simon and 72 Maliseets were sent in the same direction soon afterwards with instructions to pick up the Passamaquoddies on their way; they departed in high spirits with the intention of giving no quarter to the enemy and Villebon encouraged their animosity, exhorting them “to burn and to destroy.” This advice they followed to the letter for the Governor wrote in his journal shortly afterwards, “the missionary, M. de Thury, confirms the report I already had received of four small parties of our Indians having killed fifteen or sixteen English and burnt one of them alive on account of one of their chiefs being slain.” The vindictiveness of the Indians is further illustrated by an incident that happened at the Medoctic village in the time of King William’s war, in which John Gyles and James Alexander, two English captives, were cruelly abused. A party of Indians from Cape Sable, having had some of their relatives killed by English fishermen, travelled all the way to Medoctec in order to wreak their vengeance upon any English captives they might find. They rushed upon their unfortunate victims like bears bereaved of their whelps, saying, “Shall we, who have lost our relations by the English, suffer an English voice to be heard among us?” The two captives were brutally beaten and ill used and made to go through a variety of performances for the amusement of their tormenters. Gyles says: “They put a tomahawk into my hands and ordered me to get up, sing and dance Indian, which I performed with the greatest reluctance and while in the act seemed determined to purchase my death by killing two or three of these monsters of cruelty, thinking it impossible to survive the bloody treatment.... Not one of them showed the least compassion, but I saw the tears run down plentifully on the cheeks of a Frenchman who sat behind.” The tortures were continued until the evening of what Gyles might well call “a very tedious day.” Finally a couple of Indians threw 53 the two wretched men out of the big wigwam, where they had been tormented; they crawled away on their hands and knees and were scarcely able to walk for several days.

The experience of Gyles was, however, nothing in comparison with that of his brother and another captive taken by the Indians at the same time as himself. This unfortunate pair attempted to desert, but failed and were subjected to the most horrible tortures and finally burned alive by the savages.

The people of the frontier settlements were now so on the alert that, although the Indians roamed over the country like wolves, they were usually prepared to meet them. Every little village had its block house and sentinels, and every farmer worked in his fields with his musket at his side. Nevertheless tragic events occasionally happened. In February, 1698, Captain Chubb, of Pemaquid notoriety, and six others were killed by the Indians at Andover, several of the inhabitants were captured and many houses burned; Major Frost was slain at Kittery and a number of people at Wells; Major Marsh had a sharp fight near Pemaquid, in which he lost twenty-five of his men, but succeeded in putting the savages to rout. This was the last blood shed during King William’s war. The Indians were becoming weary of fighting and the peace of Ryswick deprived them of the open assistance of their French allies. For a brief season peace reigned in Acadia.

The expedition under Church had interrupted the rebuilding of the fort at St. John and shown the correctness of Villebon’s prediction in a letter written to the French minister in 1696 that it was impossible with the few men at his disposal to attempt a work which, though easy to repair could not be completed as quickly as the enemy could get ready to destroy it. In the same letter he speaks of making plank near Fort Nachouac for the madriens, or gun platforms, of the fort at Menagoueche. As there were mills at this time at Port Royal, it would be possible from this incident to frame a theory that Villebon had a saw mill a short distance up the Nashwaak, say at Marysville, but it is more probable the planks were cut in saw pits by the soldiers of the garrison. The plan of the fort at St. John was agreed on in 1698, and 3,000 livres granted for its construction. Villebon paid his workmen 30 sous (about 30 cts.) a day, his laborers 20 sous, and the soldiers 4 sous a day over their pay and a weekly allowance of 1 qr. lb. tobacco. The walls of the fort were laid in clay and mortar, 24 pounders were placed on the bastions and 36-pounders could be placed there three on each bastion. By the end of the year Villebon was able to report the fort in a condition to do honor to whoever should defend it. He had left Nachouac just as it was, leaving only two men to see that nothing was spoiled by the savages.

A plan in the Marine Archives at Paris, made by Villieu in 1700, shows that “Fort de la Riviere de St. Jean,” or Fort Menagoueche, was built at “Old Fort Site,” behind Navy Island in Carleton. The general plan was the same as that of Fort Nachouac, but it was considerably larger, nearly 200 feet square. Within the enclosure were barracks for the soldiers, a residence for the governor with small chapel adjoining it, a house for the officers of the garrison, lodgings for the surgeon, gunner and armorer, a small prison and a well, and just outside the gate were two bake-houses. The water supply of the fort seems always to have 54 been inadequate. The sieur des Goutins, who disliked Villebon, complains in a letter of 23rd June, 1699, “the Governor keeps the water within the fort for the exclusive use of his kitchen and his mare, others being obliged to use snow-water, often very dirty.” Diereville, who visited St. John during his short stay in Acadia describes the fort as “built of earth, with four bastions fraised (or picketed) each having six large guns.” A new industry was now coming into existence, namely the shipping of masts to France for the King’s navy; Diereville sailed to France in the Avenant “a good King’s ship,” mounting 44 guns which had brought out the ammunition and provisions that Placentia and the Fort on the River St. John received annually. This ship took on board a number of fine masts that 14 carpenters and mast makers in his majesty’s service had manufactured at the River St. John. The vessel left Acadia on the 6th of October and reached France in 33 days.

The period of Governor Villebon’s residence at St. John was of about two years’ duration. He died on the 5th July, 1700, and was buried near the fort. The life of this devoted son of New France went out with the century and with his death the seat of government of Acadia was again transferred to Port Royal.

Brouillan now succeeded to the command. He found the fort at St. John in good order, as was to be expected, it having been just rebuilt, but in the opinion of the new governor it was of little use for the glory of the King or for the preservation of the country. He condemned the situation as being commanded on one side by an island at the distance of a pistol shot, and on the other by a height at the distance only of a hundred and odd fathoms (toises), and with a very insufficient water supply. He therefore caused the fortifications to be razed, demolished the houses, and carried away the guns and everything else of a portable character to Port Royal. The inhabitants living on the River St. John were left without protection and they seem almost without exception to have removed, some to Quebec and others to Port Royal. The valley of the St. John was thus left as deserted and desolate as it had been previous to the arrival of Champlain. The Indian might wander at will among the ruins of forts and dwellings abandoned to his care, or left to be converted into hiding places for the wild beasts and wonder at the folly of the white man who had forsaken the finest river in all Acadia with its wealth of forest and stream and its fertile lands awaiting the hands of industry and thrift.



The Brothers D’Amours.

Among the young adventurers who came to Acadia towards the close of the seventeenth century were four brothers, sons of Mathieu d’Amours[9] of Quebec. The father’s political influence as a member of the Supreme Council enabled him to obtain for each of his sons an extensive seigniory. That of Louis d’Amours, the eldest, included a tract of land of generous proportions at the Richibucto river; the grant was issued September 20, 1684, but the seignior had already built there a fort and two small houses, and for two years had been cultivating a piece of land. His sojourn was brief, for in a year or two we find him living on the River St. John, where his brothers Mathieu and Rene were settled and where they were not long after joined by their brother Bernard.

As mentioned in a previous chapter, it was customary among the French noblesse for each son to take a surname derived from some portion of the family estate; accordingly the sons of Councillor d’Amours figure in history as Louis d’Amours, sieur de Chauffours; Mathieu d’Amours, sieur de Freneuse; Rene d’Amours, sieur de Clignancourt and Bernard d’Amours, sieur de Plenne.

After his arrival at the River St. John, Louis d’Amours fixed his abode on the banks of the Jemseg and became the proprietor of the seigniory formerly owned by the sieur de Soulanges. His brother, and nearest neighbor, Mathieu’s seigniory included all the land “between Gemisik and Nachouac,” two leagues in depth on each side of the river. The wives of Louis and Mathieu d’Amours were sisters, Marguerite and Louise Guyon of Quebec.

To Rene d’Amours, sieur de Clignancourt, was granted a seigniory extending from the Indian village of Medoctec to the “longue sault.” The longue sault was probably the Meductic rapids twelve miles below the village of Medoctec, although it may have been the Grand Falls eighty miles above. The sieur de Clignancourt fixed his headquarters a few miles above Fredericton at or near Eccles Island, which was formerly called “Cleoncore”—a corruption of Clignancourt. An old census shows he lived in that vicinity in 1696, and this is confirmed by a statement in an official report of the same year that he lived a league from Fort Nachouac. Rene d’Amours had an extensive trade with the Indians, he was unmarried and lived the life of a typical “coureur de bois.”

Bernard d’Amours, the youngest of the quartette, came to Acadia rather later than his brothers and was granted a seigniory at Canibecachice (Kennebecasis), a league and a half along each side of the river and two leagues in depth.[10] He married Jeanne le Borgne, and their son Alexander was baptized at Port Royal in 1702 by a Recollet missionary.

The brothers d’Amours were in the prime of life when they came to Acadia; the census of de Meulles taken in 1686 gives the age of Louis as 32 years and that of 56 Mathieu as 28. All the brothers engaged in hunting and trading with the Indians and were in consequence disliked by Governor Villebon, who viewed them with a jealous eye and mentions them in unfavorable terms in his official dispatches. Villebon’s hostility was no doubt intensified by a representation made to the French ministry in 1692 by Louis d’Amours that the Governor of Acadia, to advance his own private fortune, engaged in trade, absolutely prohibited by his majesty, both with the natives of the country and with the people of New England.

Frontenac and Champigny at this time filled the offices respectively of governor and intendant (or lieutenant governor) of New France, and the king in his message to them, dated at Versailles June 14, 1695, refers to matters on the River St. John in the following terms:

“His Majesty finds it necessary to speak on the subject of the grants obtained by the Sieurs d’Amours, which comprehend an immense tract of land along the River St. John. It is commonly reported that since they have lived there they have not engaged in clearing and cultivating their lands, that they have no cattle nor any other employment than that of a miserable traffic exclusively with the savages; and as his Majesty has been informed that the lands in those parts are the best in the world, watered by large rivers and in a situation more temperate and pleasant than other parts of Canada, the sieurs d’Amours must be compelled to establish themselves upon a better footing; and those people who are to have new grants of land are directed to this part of Acadia where, as his Majesty is informed, the sieurs d’Amours pretend to have exclusive possession of about thirty leagues of country.”

That the sentiments of this royal message were inspired by Villebon is evident from the tenor of the letters he addresses to the French ministry at this time. In one of these he says of the brothers d’Amours: “They are four in number living on the St. John river. They are given up to licentiousness and independence for the ten or twelve years they have been here. They are disobedient and seditious and require to be watched.” In another communication he scornfully terms them “the pretended gentry” (soi disant gentilhommes). Writing to the French minister the next year he observes: “I have no more reason, my lord, to be satisfied with the sieurs d’Amours than I previously had. The one who has come from France has not pleased me more than the other two. Their minds are wholly spoiled by long licentiousness and the manners they have acquired among the Indians, and they must be watched closely as I had the honor to state to you last year.”

Fortunately for the reputation of the brothers d’Amours we have evidence that places them in a more favorable light than does the testimony of Governor Villebon. M. de Champigny, the intendant at Quebec, wrote to the French minister. “The sons of the sieur d’Amours, member of the supreme council at Quebec, who are settled on the River St. John, apply themselves chiefly to cultivating their lands and raising cattle.

“I sent you, my Lord, the census of their domain, which has been made by Father Simon, the Recollet, who is missionary on the same river, in which you may have every confidence, he being a very honest man. It is very unfortunate, my lord, that any one should have informed you that they lead a licentious life with the savages for I have reliable testimony that their conduct is very good. It 57 seems as if all who live in that locality are in a state of discord; the inhabitants make great complaints against the Sieurs de Villebon and des Goutins. Some who have come to Quebec say they are constantly so harrassed and oppressed that if things are not put upon a better footing they will be compelled to abandon the country.”

That the inhabitants living on the river were turning their attention to agriculture is shown by a communication to Frontenac or Champigny in 1696, in which the writer, probably Villieu, says: “I informed you last year, Monsieur, by the memo that I did myself the honor to send you, that the inhabitants of this river begin to cultivate their lands. I have since learned that they have raised some grain. M. de Chouffours, who had sown so considerably last year, has not received anything in return, the worms having eaten the seed in the ground; M. de Freneuse, his brother, has harvested about 15 hogsheads of wheat and M. de Clignancourt very little; M. Bellefontaine, about 5 hogsheads; the Sieur Martel very little, as he has only begun to cultivate his land during the last two years; the other inhabitants nothing at all, unless it is a little Indian corn. The Sieurs d’Amours, except the Sieur Clignancourt, have sown this year pretty considerably of wheat and the Sieur Bellefontaine also, the Sieur Martel some rye and wheat and much peas. The other inhabitants have sown some Indian corn, which would have turned out well only they have sown too late on account of their land being inundated.”

Baron la Hontan visited Fort Nashouac about 1694. He describes the St. John as “a very pleasant river, adorned with fields that are very fertile in grain.” He says that two gentlemen of the name of d’Amours have a settlement there for beaver hunting.

The census made in 1695 by Simon, the French missionary, shows that there were then ten families, numbering forty-nine persons, on the St. John river, besides the garrison at Fort Nachouac. Their live stock included 38 cattle and 116 swine; there were 166 acres of land under cultivation and 73 in pasture; the crop of that year included 130 bushels of wheat, 370 of corn, 30 of oats, 170 of peas.

The testimony of John Gyles, who spent three years in the family of Louis d’Amours at the Jemseg, conclusively disproves Villebon’s assertion that the d’Amours tilled no land and kept no cattle. He speaks of a fine wheat field owned by his master, in which the blackbirds created great havoc and describes a curious attempt made by a friar to exorcise the birds. A procession was formed, headed by the friar, in his white robe with a young lad as his attendant and some thirty people following. Gyles asked some of the prisoners, who had lately been taken by privateers and brought to the Jemseg, whether they would go back with him to witness the ceremony, but they emphatically refused to witness it and when Gyles expressed his determination to go, one of them, named Woodbury, said he was “as bad as a papist and a d—d fool.” The procession passed and re-passed from end to end of the field with solemn words of exorcism accompanied by the tinkling of a little bell, the blackbirds constantly rising before them only to light behind them. “At their return,” says Gyles, “I told a French lad that the friar had done no service and recommended them to shoot the birds. 58 The lad left me, as I thought, to see what the friar would say to my observation, which turned out to be the case, for he told the lad that the sins of the people were so great that he could not prevail against those birds.”

A story analogous to this is related in Dr. Samuel Peters’ history of Connecticut, of the celebrated George Whitefield, the New England Independent minister and revivalist: “Time not having destroyed the wall of the fort at Saybrooke, Whitefield, in 1740, attempted to bring down the wall as Joshua did those of Jericho, hoping thereby to convince the multitude of his divine mission. He walked seven times around the fort with prayer and ram’s horn blowing, he called on the angel of Joshua to do as he had done at the walls of Jericho; but the angel was deaf to his call and the wall remained. Thereupon George cried aloud: ‘This town is accursed and the wall shall stand as a monument of a sinful people!’”

Mathieu d’Amours, Sieur de Freneuse, seems to have thought seriously of leaving the St. John river on account of the difficulties and discouragements of his situation, for on the 6th August, 1696, he made out to one Michel Chartier, of Schoodic, in Acadia, a lease of his seignioral manor of Freneuse, consisting of 30 arpents (acres) of arable land under the plough, meadow, forest and undergrowth, with houses, barns and stables thereon, a cart and plough rigged ready for work; also all the oxen, cows, bullocks, goats, pigs, poultry, furniture and household utensils that might remain from the sale which he proposed to make. Chartier was to enjoy the right of trade with the Indians through the whole extent of the manor except where lands had been granted by the Sieur de Freneuse to private individuals. The lease was to be for a term of five years beginning with the first day of May following, and the lessee was to pay the Sieur de Freneuse 600 livres annually, half in money and half in small furs, such as beaver, otter and martins.

It is not likely that this transaction was ever consummated, for less than three months after the lease was arranged and six months before Chartier was to take possession, all the buildings of the Sieur de Freneuse were burned, his cattle destroyed and his fields laid waste by Hawthorne’s expedition returning from their unsuccessful seige of Fort Nachouac. The original lease, a very interesting document, is now in possession of Dr. W. F. Ganong and a fac-simile of the signature of the Sieur de Freneuse is here given.[11]

Signature of Sieur de Freneuse


The seigniory included both sides of the St. John river in Sunbury county, and the most fertile portions of the parishes of Maugerville, Sheffield, Burton and Lincoln. The name Freneuse is found in most of the maps of that region down to the time of the American Revolution. The residence of the Sieur de Freneuse stood on the east bank of the St. John opposite the mouth of the Oromocto river.

Mathieu d’Amours, as already stated, died in consequence of exposure at the siege of Fort Nachouac. Sixty years later the lands he had cleared and tilled and the site of his residence were transferred to the hands of the first English settlers on the river, the Maugerville colony of 1763. His widow, Madame Louise Guyon, went to Port Royal, where her indiscretion created a sensation that resulted in voluminous correspondence on the part of the authorities and finally led to her removal to Quebec.

Rene d’Amours, during his sojourn on the River St. John, was much engrossed in trade with the natives. He made periodical visits to their villages and was well known at Medoctec, where Gyles lived as a captive, and it is not unlikely the Frenchmen living at that village were his retainers. He seems to have made little or no attempt to fulfil the conditions necessary to retain possession of his seignioral manor, for to his mind the charms of hunting and trading surpassed those of farming. His visits to Medoctec to purchase furs and skins when the Indians had returned from their winter hunts were of doubtful advantage to the poor savages, for Gyles tells us that “when they came in from hunting they would be drunk and fight for several days and nights together, till they had spent most of their skins in wine and brandy, which was brought to the village by a Frenchman called Monsieur Sigenioncor” (Clignancourt).

The latter portion of the narrative of John Gyles throws light on the course of events on the St. John during Villebon’s regime, and supplies us with a particularly interesting glimpse of domestic life in the home of Louis d’Amours on the banks of the Jemseg, where Gyles spent the happiest years of his captivity. The wife of the Sieur de Chauffours, Marguerite Guyon[12], appears in an especially amiable light. Her lonely situation and rude surroundings, the perils of the wilderness and of savage war, amidst which her little children were born, evoke our sympathy. Her goodness of heart is seen in her motherly kindness to Gyles, the young stranger of an alien race—the “little English,” as she calls him. But with all her amiability and gentleness she possessed other and stronger qualities, and it was her woman’s wit and readiness of resource that saved her husband’s fortunes in a grave emergency. The story shall be told in Gyles’ own words.

“When about six years of my doleful captivity had passed, my second Indian master died, whose squaw and my first Indian disputed whose slave I should be. Some malicious persons advised them to end the quarrel by putting a period to my life; but honest father Simon, the priest of the river, told them that it would be a heinous crime and advised them to sell me to the French.”

The suggestion of father Simon was adopted and Gyles, now in his sixteenth year, went with the missionary and the Indians to the mouth of the river, the occasion 60 of their journey being the arrival of a French man-of-war at Menagoueche with supplies for the garrison and presents for the Indians.

“My master asked me,” continues Gyles, “whether I chose to be sold aboard the man-of-war or to the inhabitants? I replied with tears, I should be glad if you would sell me to the English from whom you took me, but if I must be sold to the French, I chose to be sold to the lowest on the river, or nearest inhabitant to the sea, about 25 leagues from the mouth of the river; for I thought that if I were sold to the gentlemen aboard the man-of-war I should never return to the English. * * My master presently went on shore and a few days after all the Indians went up the river. When we came to a house which I had spoken to my master about, he went on shore with me and tarried all night. The master of the house (Louis d’Amours) spoke kindly to me in Indian, for I could not then speak one word of French. Madam also looked pleasant on me and gave me some bread. The next day I was sent six leagues further up the river to another French house. My master and the friar tarried with Monsieur De Chauffours, the gentleman who had entertained us the night before. Not long after father Simon came and said, ‘Now you are one of us, for you are sold to that gentleman by whom you were entertained the other night.’

“I replied, ‘Sold!—to a Frenchman!’ I could say no more, but went into the woods alone and wept till I could scarce see or stand. The word ‘sold,’ and that to a people of that persuasion which my dear mother so much detested and in her last words manifested so great fears of my falling into; the thought almost broke my heart.

“When I had thus given vent to my grief I wiped my eyes, endeavoring to conceal its effects, but father Simon perceiving my eyes swollen, rolled me aside bidding me not to grieve, for the gentleman he said to whom I was sold was of a good humor; that he had formerly bought two captives of the Indians who both went home to Boston. This in some measure revived me; but he added he did not suppose that I would ever incline to go to the English for the French way of worship was much to be preferred. He said also he would pass that way in about ten days, and if I did not like to live with the French better than the Indians he would buy me again.

“On the day following, father Simon and my Indian master went up the river six and thirty leagues to their chief village and I went down the river six leagues with two Frenchmen to my new master. He kindly received me, and in a few days Madam made me an osnaburg shirt and French cap and a coat out of one of my master’s old coats. Then I threw away my greasy blanket and Indian flap; and I never more saw the old friar, the Indian village or my Indian master till about fourteen years after when I saw my old Indian master at Port Royal, and again about twenty-four years since he came from St. John to Fort George to see me where I made him very welcome.

“My French master had a great trade with the Indians, which suited me very well, I being thorough in the language of the tribes at Cape Sable[13] and St. John. I had not lived long with this gentleman before he committed to me the keys of his store, etc., and my whole employment was trading and hunting, in which I acted 61 faithfully for my master and never knowingly wronged him to the value of one farthing. They spoke to me so much in Indian that it was some time before I was perfect in the French tongue.”

It was in the summer of the year 1695 that John Gyles was purchased of the Indians by Louis d’Amours, having been nearly six years in captivity at the Medoctec village. The strong prejudice against the French instilled into his mind by his mother, who was a devout puritan, was soon overcome by the kindness of Marguerite d’Amours.

The goods needed by the Sieur de Chauffours for his trade with the Indians were obtained from the man-of-war which came out annually from France, and Gyles was sometimes sent with the Frenchmen in his master’s employ to the mouth of the river for supplies. On one of these trips, in the early spring time, the party in their frail canoes were caught in a violent storm as they were coming down the Kennebeccasis—having crossed over thither from Long Reach by way of Kingston Creek, the usual route of travel. They were driven on Long Island opposite Rothesay and remained there seven days without food, unable to return by reason of the northeast gale and unable to advance on account of the ice. At the expiration of that time the ice broke up and they were able to proceed, but in so exhausted a state that they could “scarce hear each other speak.” After their arrival at St. John, two of the party very nearly died in consequence of eating too heartily, but Gyles had had such ample experience of fasting in his Indian life that he had learned wisdom, and by careful dieting suffered no evil consequences.

In the month of October, 1696, the quietude of the household at the Jemseg was disturbed by the appearance of the Massachusetts military expedition under Hawthorne and Church.

“We heard of them,” says Gyles, “some time before they came up the river by the guard that Governor Villebon had ordered at the river’s mouth. Monsieur the gentleman whom I lived with was gone to France, and Madam advised with me; she then desired me to nail a paper on the door of our house containing as follows:—

‘I intreat the General of the English not to burn my House or Barn, nor destroy my Cattle. I don’t suppose that such an army comes up this River to destroy a few Inhabitants but for the Fort above us. I have shewn kindness to the English captives as we were capacitated and have bought two Captives of the Indians and sent them to Boston, and have one now with us and he shall go also when a convenient opportunity presents and he desires it.’

“This done, Madam said to me, ‘Little English; we have shewn you kindness and now it lies in your power to serve or disserve us, as you know where our goods are hid in the woods and that Monsieur is not at home. I could have sent you to the Fort and put you under confinement, but my respect for you and assurance of your love to us have disposed me to confide in you, persuaded that you will not hurt us nor our affairs. And now if you will not run away to the English, 62 who are coming up the river, but serve our interest I will acquaint Monsieur of it at his return from France which will be very pleasing to him; and I now give my word that you shall have liberty to go to Boston on the first opportunity, if you desire it, or that any other favor in my power shall not be deny’d you.’

“I replied:—‘Madam, it is contrary to the nature of the English to requite evil for good. I shall endeavor to serve you and your interest. I shall not run to the English; but if I am taken by them shall willingly go with them and yet endeavor not to disserve you either in your persons or goods.’

“This said we embarked and went in a large boat and canoe two or three miles up an eastern branch of the river that comes from a large pond [Grand Lake] and in the evening sent down four hands to make discovery; and while they were sitting in the house the English surrounded it and took one of the four; the other three made their escape in the dark through the English soldiers and came to us and gave a surprising account of affairs.

“Again Madam said to me, ‘Little English, now you can go from us, but I hope you will remember your word!’ I said, ‘Madam, be not concerned, for I will not leave you in this strait.’ She said ‘I know not what to do with my two poor little Babes.’ I said ‘Madam, the sooner we embark and go over the great Pond the better.’ Accordingly we embarked and went over the Pond.

“The next day we spake with Indians, who were in a canoe and gave us an account that Chignecto-town was taken and burnt. Soon after we heard the great guns at Governor Villebon’s fort, which the English engaged several days, killed one man, and drew off and went down the river; for it was so late in the fall that had they tarried a few days longer in the river, they would have been frozen in for the winter.

“Hearing no report of the great guns for several days, I, with two others, went down to our house to make discovery, where we found our young lad who was taken by the English when they went up the river; for the general was so honorable that, on reading the note on our door, he ordered that the house and barn should not be burnt nor their cattle or other creatures killed, except one or two, and the poultry for their use, and at their return ordered the young lad to be put ashore.

“Finding things in this posture, we returned and gave Madam an account. She acknowledged the many favors which the English had shown, with gratitude, and treated me with great civility. The next spring Monsieur arrived from France in the man-of-war, who thanked me for my care of his affairs, and said that he would endeavor to fulfil what Madam had promised me.”

At the expiration of another year, peace having been proclaimed, a sloop came to Menagoueche with ransom for one Michael Coombs, and Gyles at once reminded the Sieur de Chauffours of his promise. That gentleman advised him to remain, offering to do for him as if he were his own child, but Gyles’ heart was set 63 upon going to Boston, hoping to find some of his relations yet alive. His master then advised him to go up to the fort and take leave of the Governor, which he did, and says the Sieur de Villebon spoke very kindly to him. Some days after he took an affecting leave of Madame d’Amours and his master went down to the mouth of the river with him to see him on board. A few days afterwards he arrived safely in Boston and was welcomed by his relatives as one risen from the dead.

Signature of John Gyles

After Villebon’s death his successor, de Brouillan, dismantled Fort Nachouac and the fort at the mouth of the St. John river and transferred the garrisons to Port Royal. The French families living on the river soon followed, as they found themselves without protection and did not care to remain in a situation so exposed. The houses abandoned by these settlers had been built upon the interval lands on the east side of the river between the Nashwaak and the Jemseg. The soil was very fertile, entirely free from rock or stone and little incumbered by forest. But the situation had its disadvantages—as it has still. In the spring of the year 1701 the settlers had a most unhappy experience in consequence of an extraordinarily high freshet. This event increased Brouillan’s aversion to the St. John, and he writes:

“The river is altogether impracticable for habitations, the little the people had there being destroyed this year by the freshets (inondations) which have carried off houses, cattle and grain. There is no probability that any families will desire to expose themselves hereafter to a thing so vexatious and so common on that river. Monsieur De Chauffours, who used to be the mainstay of the inhabitants and the savages, has been forced to abandon it and to withdraw to Port Royal, but he has no way to make a living there for his family, and he will unhappily be forced to seek some other retreat if the Court pays no consideration to the services which he represents in his petition, and does not grant him some position in order to retain him in this colony.”

The next year France and England were again at war and in the course of the conflict the fortunes of the d’Amours in Acadia were involved in utter ruin. The gentle spirit of Marguerite Guyon d’Amours did not survive the struggle, and with the close of the century she passed from the scene of her trials. Louis d’Amours, while serving his country in arms, was taken by the English, and for more than two years remained a prisoner in Boston. His brother, the Sieur de Clignancourt, served in various expeditions against the New Englanders and for several years is heard of in connection with military affairs. Eventually most of the surviving members of the d’Amours family removed from Acadia leaving behind them no abiding record of their sojourn on the St. John river.

Two of the daughters of Louis d’Amours were married at Port Royal while very young. Perhaps they possessed their mother’s winsome manners, perhaps, also the scarcity of marriageable girls in Acadia may have had something to do with 64 the matter; at any rate Charlotte d’Amours was but seventeen years of age when she married the young baron, Anselm de St. Castin. Their wedding took place at Port Royal in October, 1707, just two months after young St. Castin had greatly distinguished himself in the heroic and successful defense of Port Royal against an expedition from New England.[14] The event no doubt caused a flutter of excitement in the then limited society of Port Royal. The officiating priest was Father Antoine Gaulin, of the Seminary of Quebec, at which institution the young baron had finished his studies only three years before. Among the witnesses of the marriage were the Chevalier de Subercase, governor of Acadia; Bonaventure, who had for some years rendered signal service as commander of the “Envieux” and other warships; Mon. de la Boularderie, a French officer who had been wounded in the recent siege, and the bride’s farther, Louis d’Amours—who, signs his name D’Amour D’Echofour.

A few years later the Marquis de Vaudreuil entrusted to St. Castin the command of Acadia. After the treaty of Utrecht he retired to his ancestral residence on the banks of the Penobscot, where he lived on amicable terms with the English and kept the Penobscot Indians from making encroachments on their neighbors. His sister, Ursule de St. Castin, married his wife’s brother, a son of Louis d’Amours, a circumstance of interest not only as being a double marriage between the families of St. Castin and d’Amours, but also from the fact that the familiar titles of the d’Amours family seem to have been retained in this, the oldest branch of their family. In proof of this fact, the distinguished Acadian genealogist, Placid P. Gaudet, has shown that among the Acadians residing at the Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon in 1767 (according to the census of that year), were Ursule de St. Castin, widow of the only son of Louis d’Amours, then 71 year of age, who resided with her son Joseph d’Amours, deChauffour, and his family. Joseph d’Amours was at that time 49 years of age, and his wife, Genevieve Roy, 44 years of age. They had seven children and the oldest sons were Joseph d’Amours, aged 19 years; Paul d’Amours de Freneuse, aged 16 years, and Louis d’Amours de Clignancourt, aged 13 years. As the father himself retained the title of de Chauffours it is evident that on his decease it would fall to his oldest son, Joseph.

Marie d’Amours, sister of the young Baroness de St. Castin, married Pierre de Morpain, the commander of a privateer of St. Domingo. It chanced that he had just brought a ship load of provisions to Port Royal when it was attacked in 1707, and he was able to render good service in its defence. Two years afterwards he was again at Port Royal and in the course of a ten days’ cruise took nine prizes and destroyed four more vessels. Being attacked by a coast-guard ship 65 of Boston a furious engagement ensued in which the English captain was killed with one hundred of his men and his vessel made a prize and taken to Port Royal. The commander, Subercase, highly commended Morpain’s bravery and persuaded him to remain at Port Royal where, on August 13, 1709, he married Marie d’Amours de Chauffours.

Louis d’Amours, Sieur de Chauffours, returned to Port Royal in 1706 after a two years captivity at Boston. On the 17th January, 1708, only a few weeks after the marriage of his daughter to St. Castin, he took to himself a wife in the person of Anne Comeau. The marriage was witnessed by Governor Subercase and other officials at Port Royal, also by his daughter Charlotte and her husband, the Baron de St. Castin, and by the widow of his brother the Sieur de Freneuse. It seems probable that his health had suffered through his long imprisonment, for very shortly after his second marriage he was stricken with an illness which proved fatal. The Recollet missionary, Justinien Durad, records in his parish register the burial in the cemetery of St. Jean Baptiste at Port Royal on May 19, 1708, of “Louis d’Amour d’Echauffour, aged not far from sixty years [should be 54 years], after an illness of three months, during which he received the sacraments with great edification.” And this brings us to the last incident in the romantic story of the brothers d’Amours.



The Old Medoctec Fort.

Twelve miles below the town of Woodstock there enters the River St. John, from the westward, a good sized tributary known as Eel River. It is a variable stream, flowing in the upper reaches with feeble current, over sandy shallows, with here and there deep pools, and at certain seasons almost lake-like expansions over adjoining swamps, but in the last twelve miles of its course it is transformed into a turbulent stream, broken by rapids and falls to such an extent that only at the freshet season is it possible to descend in canoes. The Indian name of Eel River is “Madawamkeetook,” signifying “rocky at its mouth.”

Plan of Old Medoctec Village

The Medoctec Fort stood on the west bank of the St. John four miles above the mouth of Eel River. It guarded the eastern extremity of the famous portage, five miles in length, by which canoes were carried in order to avoid the rapids that obstruct the lower part of Eel River. The rivers were nature’s highway for the aboriginal inhabitants and a glance at the map will show that Madawamkeetook, or Eel River, formed a very important link in the chain of communication with the western portion of ancient Acadie by means of the inland waters.


In early days the three principal villages of the Maliseets were Medoctec on the St. John, Panagamsde on the Penobscot and Narantsouak on the Kennebec. In travelling from Medoctec to the westward the Indians passed from the lakes at the head of Eel River, by a short portage, to the chain of lakes at the head of the St. Croix from which there was communication by another short portage with the Mattawamkeag, an eastern branch of the Penobscot. In the course of the stirring events of the war-period in Acadia the Indian braves and their French allies made constant use of this route, and the Medoctec village became a natural rendezvous whenever anything of a warlike nature was afoot on the St. John. But Medoctec possessed many local advantages; the hunting in the vicinity was excellent, the rivers abounded in salmon, sturgeon, bass, trout and other fish, and the intervals were admirably adapted to the growth of Indian corn—which seems to have been raised there from time immemorial.

The reader by examining the accompanying plan will have a better idea of the situation of the old fort.

The site of this ancient Maliseet town is a fine plateau extending back from the river about fifty rods, then descending to a lower interval, twenty rods wide, and again rising quite abruptly sixty or seventy feet to the upland. The spring freshet usually covers the lower interval and the elevated plateau then becomes an island. The spot is an exceedingly interesting one, but, unfortunately for the investigator, the soil has been so well cultivated by the hands of thrifty farmers that little remains to indicate the outlines of the old fortifications. It is impossible to determine with absolute certainty the position of the stockade, or of the large wigwam, or council chamber, and other features commonly found in Indian towns of that period. The only place where the old breast-work is visible is along the south and east sides of the burial ground, where it is about two feet high. The burial ground has never been disturbed with the plough, the owners of the property having shown a proper regard for the spot as the resting place of the dead. It is, however, so thickly overgrown with hawthorn as to be a perfect jungle difficult to penetrate. Many holes have been dug there by relic hunters and seekers of buried treasure.

At the spot marked A* on the plan, between the grave-yard and the river, there is a mass of ashes and cinders with numberless bones scattered about. This is believed to be the site of the old council fire. Here the visitor will find himself in touch with the events of savage life of centuries ago. Here it was Governor Villebon harangued his dusky allies; here the horrible dog feast was held and the hatchet brandished by the warriors on the eve of their departure to deluge with blood the homes of New England; here at the stake the luckless captive yielded up his life and chanted his death-song; here the Sieur de Clignancourt bargained with the Indians, receiving their furs and peltry and giving in exchange French goods and trinkets, rum and brandy; here good Father Simon taught the savages the elements of the Christian faith and tamed as best he could the fierceness of their manners; here too when weary of fighting the hatchet was buried and the council fire glowed its brightest as the chiefs smoked their calumet of peace.


Some have supposed the old Medoctec fort to have been quite an elaborate structure, with bastions, etc., but it was more probably only a rude Indian fortification with ditch and parapet surmounted by a stockade, within which was a strongly built cabin, in size about thirty by forty feet. Parkman in his “Jesuits in North America,” gives a good description of similar forts built by the Hurons and other tribes of Canada. The labor originally involved in the erection of the palisade must have been very great, and nothing but stern necessity is likely to have driven so naturally improvident a people to undertake it. The stout stakes were cut, pointed and firmly planted with no better implement than the stone axe of prehistoric times.

In the lower right hand corner of the plan will be found the spring referred to in the opening chapter[15] as the scene of the ludicrous Mohawk scare. Its distance from the old fort is about half a mile, and the situation and surroundings correspond so exactly with Gyles’ description that there is not the slightest doubt as to its identity. The water that flows from it never fails and is very clear and cool.

At the back of the lower interval is a curious gully, something like a broad natural roadway, which affords an easy ascent to the upland. This no doubt was the commencement of the famous portage by which bands of savages in ancient days took their way westward to devastate the settlements of eastern New England.

The small stream which enters the St. John a little above the old village site is known as Hay’s Creek, but in some of the early maps and land grants is called “Meductic river.” About a mile from its mouth there is a very beautiful cascade; the volume of water is not large but the height of the fall, 95 feet perpendicular, is remarkable, surpassing by at least ten feet the Grand Falls of the River St. John.

Our knowledge of the village Medoctec, and the ways of its people two centuries ago, is derived mainly from the narrative of John Gyles, the English lad who was captured at Pemaquid in 1689 and brought by his Indian master to the River St. John. At the time of his capture Gyles was a boy of about twelve years of age. He seems to have met with kindly treatment from his master though not from all the Indians. His first rude experience was at Penobscot fort where upon the arrival of the captives, some fifty in number, the squaws got together in a circle dancing and yelling, as was their custom on such occasions. Gyles says, “An old grimace squaw took me by the hand and leading me into the ring, some seized me by my hair and others by my feet, like so many furies; but, my master laying down a pledge, they released me. A captive among the Indians is exposed to all manner of abuses and to the extremest tortures, unless their master, or some of their master’s relatives lay down a ransom, such as a bag of corn, a blanket, or the like, which redeems them from their cruelty for that dance.”

After a long and wearisome journey the little captive at length neared his destination, the canoes were paddling down the Madawamkeetook (or Eel) river. When they reached the rapids they landed, and we shall let Gyles tell in his own words the story of the last stage of his journey and of his reception at Medoctec. He says: “We carried over a long carrying place to Medoctock Fort, which stands on a bank of St. John’s river. My Indian master went before and left me with an old Indian 69 and three squaws. The old man often said (which was all the English he could speak), ‘By and by come to a great Town and Fort.’ So I comforted myself in thinking how finely I should be refreshed when I came to this great town.

“After some miles travel we came in sight of a large Corn-field and soon after of the Fort, to my great surprise; for two or three squaws met us, took off my pack, and led me to a large hut or wigwam, where thirty or forty Indians were dancing and yelling round five or six poor captives. * * I was whirled in among them and we looked at each other with a sorrowful countenance; and presently one of them was seized by each hand and foot by four Indians, who swung him up and let his back with force fall on the hard ground, till they had danced (as they call it) round the whole wigwam, which was thirty or forty feet in length. * *

“The Indians looked on me with a fierce countenance, as much as to say it will be your turn next. They champed cornstalks, which they threw into my hat as I held it in my hand. I smiled on them though my heart ached. I looked on one and another, but could not perceive that any eye pitied me. Presently came a squaw and a little girl and laid down a bag of corn in the ring. The little girl took me by the hand, making signs for me to come out of the circle with them. Not knowing their custom, I supposed they designed to kill me and refused to go. Then a grave Indian came and gave me a pipe and said in English, ‘Smoke it,’ then he took me by the hand and led me out. My heart ached, thinking myself near my end. But he carried me to a French hut about a mile from the Indian Fort. The Frenchman was not at home, but his wife, who was a squaw, had some discourse with my Indian friend, which I did not understand. We tarried there about two hours, then returned to the Indian village, where they gave me some victuals. Not long after I saw one of my fellow-captives who gave me a melancholy account of their sufferings after I left them.

“After some weeks had passed,” Gyles continues, “we left this village and went up St. John’s river about ten miles to a branch called Medockscenecasis, where there was one wigwam. At our arrival an old squaw saluted me with a yell, taking me by the hair and one hand, but I was so rude as to break her hold and free myself. She gave me a filthy grin, and the Indians set up a laugh and so it passed over. Here we lived on fish, wild grapes, roots, etc., which was hard living for me.”

Where the one wigwam stood in 1689, there stands today a town of 4,000 people. The stream which Gyles calls Medockscenecasis is the Meduxnakik and the town is Woodstock. On the islands and intervals there, wild grapes and lily roots, butter-nuts and cherries are still to be found, and many generations of boys have wandered with light hearts in quest of them without a thought of the first of white boys, who in loneliness and friendlessness trod those intervals more than two hundred years ago.

It seems to have been the custom of the Indians at the beginning of the winter to break up into small parties for the purpose of hunting, and Gyles’ description of his first winter’s experience will serve to illustrate the hardships commonly endured by the savages.


“When the winter came on,” he says, “we went up the river, till the ice came down running thick in the river, when, according to the Indian custom, we laid up our canoes till spring. Then we traveled, sometimes on the ice and sometimes on land, till we came to a river that was open but not fordable, where we made a raft and passed over, bag and baggage. I met with no abuse from them in this winter’s hunting, though I was put to great hardships in carrying burdens and for want of food. But they underwent the same difficulty, and would often encourage me by saying in broken English, ‘By and by great deal moose!’ Yet they could not answer any question I asked them; and knowing very little of their customs and ways of life, I thought it tedious to be constantly moving from place to place, yet it might be in some respects an advantage, for it ran still in my mind that we were traveling to some settlement; and when my burden was over heavy, and the Indians left me behind, and the still evening came on, I fancied I could see thro’ the bushes and hear the people of some great town; which hope might be some support to me in the day, though I found not the town at night.

“Thus we were hunting three hundred miles from the sea and knew no man within fifty or sixty miles of us. We were eight or ten in number, and had but two guns on which we wholly depended for food. If any disaster had happened we must all have perished. Sometimes we had no manner of sustenance for three or four days; but God wonderfully provides for all creatures. * * *

“We moved still farther up the country after the moose when our store gave out; so that by the spring we had got to the northward of the Lady Mountains [near the St. Lawrence]. When the spring came and the rivers broke up we moved back to the head of St. John’s river and there made canoes of moose hides, sewing three or four together and pitching the seams with balsam mixed with charcoal. Then we went down the river to a place called Madawescok. There an old man lived and kept a sort of a trading house, where we tarried several days; then we went further down the river till we came to the greatest falls in these parts, called Checanekepeag[16], where we carried a little way over land, and putting off our canoes we went down stream still, and as we passed the mouths of any large branches we saw Indians, but when any dance was proposed I was bought off.

“At length we arrived at the place where we left our canoes in the fall and, putting our baggage into them, went down to the fort. There we planted corn, and after planting went a fishing and to look for and dig roots till the corn was fit to weed. After weeding we took a second tour on foot on the same errand, then returned to hill up our corn. After hilling we went some distance from the fort and field up the river to take salmon and other fish, which we dried for food, where we continued till the corn was filled with milk; some of it we dried then, the other as it ripened.”

The statement has been made by the author in the opening chapter that exaggerated ideas have prevailed concerning the number of Indians who formerly inhabited this country. The natives of Acadia were not a prolific race and the life they led was so full of danger and exposure, particularly in the winter season, as 71 not to be conducive to longevity. An instance of the dangers to which the Indians were exposed in their winter hunting is related by Gyles which very nearly proved fatal to him.

“One winter,” he says, “as we were moving from place to place our hunters killed some moose. One lying some miles from our wigwams, a young Indian and myself were ordered to fetch part of it. We set out in the morning when the weather was promising, but it proved a very cold cloudy day.

“It was late in the evening before we arrived at the place where the moose lay, so that we had no time to provide materials for a fire or shelter. At the same time came on a storm of snow very thick which continued until the next morning. We made a small fire with what little rubbish we could find around us. The fire with the warmth of our bodies melted the snow upon us as fast as it fell and so our clothes were filled with water. However, early in the morning we took our loads of moose flesh, and set out to return to our wigwams. We had not travelled far before my moose-skin coat (which was the only garment I had on my back, and the hair chiefly worn off) was frozen stiff round my knees, like a hoop, as were my snow-shoes and shoe clouts to my feet. Thus I marched the whole day without fire or food. At first I was in great pain, then my flesh became numb, and at times I felt extremely sick and thought I could not travel one foot farther; but I wonderfully revived again. After long travelling I felt very drowsy, and had thoughts of sitting down, which had I done, without doubt I had fallen on my final sleep. My Indian companion, being better clothed, had left me long before. Again my spirits revived as much as if I had received the richest cordial.

“Some hours after sunset I reached the wigwam, and crawling in with my snow-shoes on, the Indians cried out, ‘The captive is frozen to death!’ They took off my pack and the place where that lay against my back was the only one that was not frozen. They cut off my snow-shoes and stripped off the clouts from my feet, which were as void of feeling as any frozen flesh could be.

“I had not sat long by the fire before the blood began to circulate and my feet to my ankles turned black and swelled with bloody blisters and were inexpressibly painful. The Indians said one to another: ‘His feet will rot, and he will die;’ yet I slept well at night. Soon after the skin came off my feet from my ankles whole, like a shoe, leaving my toes without a nail and the ends of my great toe bones bare.... The Indians gave me rags to bind up my feet and advised me to apply fir balsam, but withal added that they believed it was not worth while to use means for I should certainly die. But by the use of my elbows and a stick in each hand I shoved myself along as I sat upon the ground over the snow from one tree to another till I got some balsam. This I burned in a clam shell till it was of a consistence like salve, which I applied to my feet and ankles and, by the divine blessing, within a week I could go about upon my heels with my staff; and through God’s goodness we had provisions enough, so that we did not remove under ten or fifteen days. Then the Indians made two little hoops, something in the form of a snow-shoe, and sewing them to my feet I was able to follow them in their tracks on my heels from place to place, though sometimes half leg deep in snow and water, which gave me the most acute pain imaginable; but I must walk or die. 72 Yet within a year my feet were entirely well, and the nails came on my great toes so that a very critical eye could scarcely perceive any part missing, or that they had been frozen at all.”

We turn now to the consideration of the state of affairs on the St. John after the removal of the seat of government from Fort Nachouac to Menagoueche and subsequently to Port Royal.

After the retirement of the French from the river, at the close of the seventeenth century, our knowledge of that region for the next thirty years is small. We know, however, that the Maliseets continued hostile to the English. War parties from the St. John united with the neighboring tribes, roaming over the country like hungry wolves, prowling around the towns and settlements of New England, carrying terror and destruction wherever they went. The resentment inspired by their deeds was such that the legislatures of Massachusetts and New Hampshire offered a bounty of £40 for the scalp of every adult male Indian.

For sixty years Indian wars followed in rapid succession. They are known in history as King William’s war, Queen Anne’s war, Lovewell’s or Dummer’s war and King George’s war. In nearly every instance the Indian raids were instigated or encouraged by their French allies, who feared that otherwise the English would win them and thereby gain the country.

Civil and ecclesiastical authority in France were at this time very closely united. The missionaries of New France were appointed and removed by the authorities at Quebec and received an annual stipend from the crown, and however diligent the missionary might be in his calling, or however pure his life, he was liable to be removed unless he used his influence to keep the savages in a state of hostility to the English. The Maliseet villages on the St. John, the Penobscot and the Kennebec rivers were regarded as buttresses against English encroachments in the direction of Canada, and the authorities at Quebec relied much upon the influence of the missionaries to keep the savages loyal to France.

The first missionary at the Medoctec village, of whom we have any accurate information, was Father Simon, who has already been frequently mentioned in the extracts from John Gyles’ narrative. He belonged to the order of the Recollets, founded early in the 13th century by St. Francis of Assissi. The missionaries of that order began their labors on the St. John as early as 1620; they came to Acadia from Aquitane. Father Simon was a man of activity and enterprise as well as of religious zeal. He did all that lay in his power to promote the ascendency of his country-men in the land they loved to call “New France,” but his influence with the Indians was always exercised on the side of humanity. On this point Gyles’ testimony is conclusive. He says: “The priest of this river was of the order of St. Francis, a gentleman of a humane generous disposition. In his sermons he most severely reprehended the Indians for their barbarities to captives. He would often tell them that excepting their errors in religion the English were a better people than themselves.”

We have no exact information as to the number of years Father Simon labored at Medoctec, but he died near the close of the century. Governor Villebon in December, 1698, wrote, “Father Simon is sick at Jemseg,” and as his name does not 73 again appear in the annals of that time it is probable that his sickness proved mortal. He was succeeded in his mission by one of the Jesuit fathers, Joseph Aubery, who came to Medoctec about 1701, remaining there seven years. He then took charge of the Abenaki mission of St. Francis, where he continued for 46 years and died at the age of 82. Chateaubriand drew from his character and career materials for one of the characters in his well known romance “Atala.”

The next missionary on the River St. John was Jean Baptiste Loyard, who was born at Pau in France in 1678, and came out to Canada in 1706. He remained almost constantly at his post, except that in the year 1722 he went to France to obtain aid for his mission. His position was a difficult one, for the letters of the Marquis de Vaudreuil show that in addition to his spiritual functions he was regarded as the political agent of the French on the St. John.

By the treaty of Utrecht, in the days of Queen Anne (A. D. 1713), “all Nova Scotia, or Acadia, comprehended within its ancient boundaries,” was ceded to the Queen of Great Britain. But the question immediately arose, what were the ancient boundaries? The British were disposed to claim, as indeed the French had formerly done, that Acadia included the territory north of the Bay of Fundy as far west as the Kennebec river; but the French would not now admit that it included anything more than the peninsula of Nova Scotia.

In 1715, Governor Caulfield endeavored to have a good understanding with Loyard, assuring him that he would not be molested, and begging him to say to the Indians of his mission that they would receive good treatment at the hands of the English and that a vessel full of everything they needed would be sent up the river to them.

But other and more potent influences were at work. On June 15, 1716, the French minister wrote the Marquis de Vaudreuil that the King, in order to cement more firmly the alliance with the savages of Acadia, had granted the sum of 1,200 livres, agreeably to the proposal of the intendant Begon, to be expended in building a church for the Indians on the River St. John, and another for those on the Kennebec. The Indians were wonderfully pleased and offered to furnish a quantity of beaver as their contribution towards the erection of the churches. In the years that followed the king made two additional grants of 1,200 livres each, and in 1720 the Marquis de Vaudreuil had the satisfaction of reporting that the churches were finished; that they were well built and would prove a great inducement to the savages to be loyal to France.

The probable site of the Indian chapel on the banks of the St. John is shown in the plan of the Medoctec Fort and village near the north west corner of the burial ground. A small stone tablet was discovered here by Mr. A. R. Hay, of Lower Woodstock, in June, 1890. The tablet is of black slate, similar to that found in the vicinity, and is in length fourteen inches by seven in width and about an inch in thickness.

It was found quite near the surface, just as it might naturally have fallen amid the ruins of an old building, covered merely by the fallen leaves; the inscription is in an excellent state of preservation and, without abbreviation, reads as follows:



A relic of the Indian Chapel of Saint Jean Baptiste. Found at Medoctec, June, 1890.


Optimo Maximo
In honorem Divi Ioannis Baptistae
Hoc Templum posuerunt Anno Domin

Missionis Procurator Ioanne Loyard Societatis Iesu

The translation reads:—“To God, most excellent, most high, in honor of Saint John Baptist, the Maliseets erected this church A. D. 1717, while Jean Loyard, a priest of the Society of Jesus, was superintendent of the mission.”

The inscription is clearly cut, but not with sufficient skill to suggest the hand of a practised stone engraver. It was in all probability the hand of Loyard himself that executed it. The name of Danielou, his successor, faintly scratched in the lower left-hand corner, is evidently of later date; but its presence there is of historic interest.

The Indian church of St. John Baptist at Medoctec, erected in 1717, was the first on the River St. John—probably the first in New Brunswick. It received among other royal gifts a small bell which now hangs in the belfry of the Indian chapel at Central Kingsclear, a few miles above Fredericton. The church seems to have been such as would impress by its beauty and adornments the little flock over which Loyard exercised his kindly ministry. It is mentioned by one of the Jesuit fathers as a beautiful church (belle eglise), suitably adorned and furnished abundantly with holy vessels and ornaments of sufficient richness.

The chapel stood for fifty years and its clear toned bell rang out the call to prayer in the depths of the forest; but by and by priest and people passed away till, in 1767, the missionary Bailly records in his register that the Indians having abandoned the Medoctec village he had caused the ornaments and furnishings of the chapel, together with the bell, to be transported to Aukpaque, and had caused the chapel itself to be demolished since it served merely as a refuge for travellers and was put to the most profane uses.

The Marquis de Vaudreuil in 1718 wrote to the English authorities at Port Royal protesting against English vessels entering the River St. John, which he claimed to be entirely within the French dominion. He encouraged the French to withdraw from the peninsula of Nova Scotia, promising them lands on the St. John river on application to the missionary Loyard, who was empowered to grant them and in the course of time a number of families resorted thither.

When Loyard went to France in 1722 he represented to the home government that the English were making encroachments on the “rivers of the savages”—meaning the St. John, Penobscot and Kennebec. “Why is this?” he asks, “if not for the purpose of continually advancing on Canada?” He points out that France has not cared for the savages except when she has had need of them. The English will not fail to remind them of this fact, and will perhaps by presents more valuable than the missionaries can offer soon succeed in winning them. Loyard recommends the court 76 to increase the annual gratuity and to provide for each village a royal medal to serve as a reminder of the king’s favor and protection. His advice seems to have been followed, and for some years an annual appropriation of 4,000 livres was made to provide presents for the savages, the distribution being left to the missionaries.


Port Royal, under its new name of Annapolis, was now become the headquarters of British authority and efforts were made to establish friendly relations with the Indians of the St. John river. In July, 1720, nine chiefs were brought over to Annapolis in a vessel sent by Governor Philipps for the purpose; they were entertained and addressed and presents were made to them and they went home apparently well pleased. However the English governor did not count much upon their fidelity. He states that he was beset with Indian delegations from various quarters; that he received them all and never dismissed them without presents, which they always looked for and for which he was out of pocket about a hundred and fifty 77 pounds; he adds, “but I am convinced that a hundred thousand will not buy them from the French interest while the priests are among them.”

Governor Philipps’ lack of confidence in Indian promises of friendship and alliance was soon justified, for in Lovewell’s war, which broke out in 1722 and lasted three years, the Indians surprized and captured a large number of trading vessels in the Bay of Fundy and along the coast, and a party of 30 Maliseets and 26 Micmacs attacked the Fort at Annapolis, killing two of the garrison and dangerously wounding an officer and three men. In retaliation for the loss of Sergt McNeal, who was shot and scalped, the English shot and scalped an Indian prisoner on the spot where McNeal had fallen, an action which, however great the provocation, is to be lamented as unworthy of a Christian people.

Lovewell’s war was terminated by a notable treaty made at Boston in 1725 with four eminent sagamores representing the tribes of Kennebec, Penobscot, St. John and Cape Sable; Francois Xavier appearing on behalf of the Maliseets of the St. John. The conference lasted over a month, for the Indians were very deliberate in their negotiations and too well satisfied with their entertainment to be in a hurry. The treaty was solemnly ratified at Falmouth in the presence of the Lieutenant-Governors of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Nova Scotia, and about forty chiefs. The formal assent of the St. John Indians does not appear to have been given until May, 1728, when three or four sachems, accompanied by twenty-six warriors, came from Medoctec to Annapolis Royal to ratify the peace and make submission to the British government. Governor Armstrong with the advice of his officers made them presents, entertained them several days and sent them away well satisfied.

The ministry of Loyard was now drawing to a close. He seems to have been a man of talents and rare virtues, esteemed and beloved by both French and Indians, and in his death universally lamented. He devoted nearly twenty-four of the best years of his life to the conversion of the Indians, and when summoned to Quebec for the benefit of his health, which had become impared by toil and exposure, he had hardly recovered from the fatigue of the journey when he requested to be allowed to return to his mission, where his presence was needed. It was while in the active discharge of his duty among the sick that he contracted the disease of which he died in the midst of his people, who were well nigh inconsolable for their loss. The obituary letter announcing his death to the other Jesuit missionaries contains a glowing eulogy of the man and his work. His disposition had nothing of sternness, yet he was equally beloved and revered by his flock; to untiring zeal he joined exemplary modesty, sweetness of disposition, never failing charity and an evenness of temper which made him superior to all annoyances; busy as he was he had the art of economising the moments, and he gave all the prescribed time to his own spiritual exercises; over his flock he watched incessantly as a good shepherd with the happy consolation of gathering abundant fruit of his care and toil; he was fitted for everything and ready for everything, and his superiors could dispose of him as they would. The date of his death, June 24, 1731, suggests some remarkable coincidences. The 24th of June is St. John Baptist’s day; Loyard’s name was Jean Baptiste; the church he built was 78 called St. Jean Baptiste; it was the first church on the banks of a river named in honor of St. Jean Baptiste (because discovered on 24th June, 1604, by Champlain); and it was fitting that the missionary who designed it, who watched over its construction and who probably was laid to rest beneath its shade, should pass from the scene of his labors on the day that honors the memory of St. Jean Baptiste. By a pure coincidence the author finds himself penning these words on St. John Baptist’s day, 1903.

Jean Loyard Fac-simile, A. D. 1708.

Loyard’s successor was Jean Pierre Danielou, whose presence at Medoctec is indicated by the occurrence of his name on the memorial tablet. After his arrival at Quebec in 1715 he was employed for some years as a teacher, but took holy orders about 1725. Danielou had been but a short time in charge of his mission when he received a sharply worded letter from the governor of Nova Scotia, ordering the Acadians settled on the River St. John to repair to the port of Annapolis Royal and take the oath of allegiance. The governor says that their settling on the river without leave was an act of great presumption. A number of the settlers accordingly presented themselves at Annapolis, where they took the required oaths and agreed to take out grants.

The little French colony were settled at or near St. Anns (now Fredericton) for a census made in 1733, for the government of France, gives the number of Acadians on the river as 111, divided into twenty families, and fifteen of these families, numbering eighty-two persons, were living below the village of Ecoupay (or Aukpaque). Two families lived at Freneuse and three at the mouth of the river.

The story of the old Medoctec village in later times will be told incidentally in the chapters that are to follow.



Incidents in King Georges War.

After a long interval of peace from the time of the treaty of Utrecht in 1713, war was declared between France and England in 1744. The Indians of the St. John river, who had been fairly quiet for some years, took the warpath with great alacrity. The war that ensued is known as “King George’s,” or the “Five Years” war. At its commencement the Maliseets played rather a sharp trick upon the English which Paul Mascarene and Shirley, the governor of Massachusetts, remembered against them when peace was proclaimed five years later. On that occasion Count de la Galissonniere wrote to Mascarene to inquire if the Maliseets were included in the peace, “in which case,” he says, “I entreat you to have the goodness to induce Mr. Shirley to allow them to settle again in their villages, and to leave their missionaries undisturbed as they were before the war.” The French governor suggested that a reply might be sent through the missionary by whom he had sent his own letter. Both Mascarene and Shirley replied at some length to the letter of de la Galissonniere. They stated that when a renewal of the war with France was daily expected, a deputation of the St. John river Indians came to Annapolis professedly to make an agreement to remain on friendly terms with the English in the event of war with France. They were well received in consequence. But they had come in reality as spies, and three weeks afterwards returned with others of their tribe, the missionary le Loutre at their head, surprised and killed as many of the English as they caught outside the fort, destroyed their cattle, burnt their houses and continued their acts of hostility against the garrison till the arrival of troops from New England to check them. “For this perfidious behaviour,” Shirley says, “I caused war to be declared in his majesty’s name against these Indians in November, 1744, and so far as it depends upon me, they shall not be admitted to terms of peace till they have made a proper submission for their treachery.”

During King George’s war the Maliseet warriors did not, as in former Indian wars, assemble at Medoctec and turn their faces westward to devastate the settlements of New England, the scene of hostilities was now transferred to the eastward, Annapolis Royal, Beausejour and Louisbourg became the scene of hostilities and Aukpaque, not Medoctec, the place of rendezvous.

Immediately after the declaration of war Paul Mascarene set to work to repair the defences of Annapolis Royal. The French inhabitants at first showed every readiness to assist him, but they retired to their habitations when the Indians, to the number of about three hundred fighting men, appeared before the fort. Among the leaders of the savages was young Alexander le Borgne de Bellisle, who himself had Indian blood in his veins, being the son of Anastasie de St. Castin. The Indians failed in their attack and retired to await the arrival of troops from Louisbourg under Du Vivier.

Some weeks later the united forces again advanced on Annapolis but, after a siege lasting from the end of August to about the 25th of September, they were 80 obliged to retire without accomplishing anything. Mascarene conducted the defence with prudence and energy but honestly admits, in his letter to Governor Shirley, that it was largely “to the timely succours sent from the Governor of Massachusetts and to our French inhabitants refusing to take up arms against us, we owe our preservation.”

The people of New England cherished no good will toward the savages of Acadia. The horrors of Indian warfare in the past were yet fresh in their memories, and stern measures were resolved upon. Governor Shirley, with the advice of his council, offered premiums for their scalps, £100 currency for that of an adult male Indian, £50 for that of a woman or child, and for a captive £5 higher than for a scalp.

After the failure of the French attack on Annapolis Royal, Shirley planned an expedition against Louisbourg, “the Dunkirk of America.” This was indeed a formidable undertaking, for the French had spent twenty-five years of time and about six millions and a half of dollars in building, arming and adorning that city. The walls of its defences were formed of bricks brought from France and they mounted two hundred and six pieces of cannon. The leader of the expedition was William Pepperell, a native of Kittery, Maine, a colonel of militia and a merchant who employed hundreds of men in lumbering and fishing. His troops comprised a motley collection of New Englanders—fishermen and farmers, sawyers and loggers, many of them taken from his own vessels, mills and forests. Before such men, aided by the English navy under Commodore Warren, to the world’s amazement, Louisbourg fell. The achievement is, perhaps, the most memorable in our colonial annals, but a description of the siege cannot be here attempted. After the surrender of Louisbourg a banquet was prepared by Pepperell for his officers, and Mr. Moody of New York, Mrs. Pepperell’s uncle, was called upon to ask a blessing at the feast. The old parson was apt to be prolix on public occasions, and his temper being rather irritable, none dared to suggest that brevity would be acceptable. The company were therefore highly gratified by his saying grace as follows: “Good Lord, we have so many things to thank Thee for that time will be infinitely too short to do it. We must therefore leave it for the work of eternity. Bless our food and fellowship upon this joyful occasion, for the sake of Christ our Lord. Amen.”

The capture of Louisbourg greatly relieved the situation at Annapolis, and probably saved Acadia to the English. It acted as a damper on the ardor of the Indians of the St. John river, who, under Marin, a French officer from Quebec, had taken the warpath. They were encouraged in their hostile attitude by their missionary Germain, lately come to Aukpaque as Danielou’s[17] successor.

While the stirring events just mentioned were transpiring at Louisbourg, Governor Mascarene was doing his best to place Annapolis Royal in a proper state of defence and the chief engineer, John Henry Bastide, was busily engaged in strengthening the fort. Early in the summer of 1745 the Sieur Marin appeared before the town with a party of six hundred French and Indians—the latter including 81 many from the River St. John and some of the Hurons from Canada. They captured two Boston schooners, one of which was named the “Montague.” Her captain, William Pote, of Falmouth (now Portland) Maine, was taken to Quebec by the Huron Indians, via the St. John river. He remained in captivity three years. He contrived to keep a journal describing his capture and subsequent adventures; this was concealed by one of the female prisoners who restored it to Captain Pote after he was released. The journal had a remarkable experience; it passed through many hands, was discovered at Geneva in Switzerland about a dozen years ago by Bishop John F. Hurst, and has since been printed in a sumptuous volume by Dodd, Mead & Co., of New York. Thus after a century and a half of obscurity this remarkable old document has at length seen the light.

We learn from its pages that Captain Pote was taken by land to Chignecto at the head of the Bay of Fundy, where he found the captured schooner “Montague” already arrived. The Indians called a council to decide whether it was better to go to the River St. John in the schooner or by land, but finally thought it better to go by land. Accordingly on the 26th June, the “Montague” sailed with several prisoners, including two of Pote’s men and the master of the other schooner taken at Annapolis and one of his men. Pote entreated the Indians to be allowed to go in the schooner, but could not prevail. He was taken by way of Shepody Bay up the River Petitcodiac in a small schooner belonging to one of the “neutral French.” The next day’s journey brought them to the carrying place between the Petitcodiac and the Canaan river, which they crossed and encamped.

The events of the day following—Sunday, June 30—are thus recorded in Pote’s journal:

“This day in ye morning we had Intelligence that there was a priest from ye River of Saint Johns expected to arrive at this place in a few minutes, ye Indians made Great preparation for his Reception and at his arrival shewed many symptoms of their Great Respect. Ye Priest was conducted to ye Captain’s camp, where after having passed many compliments, the Priest asked ye Capt. of ye Indians who I was, and when he Understood I was a prisoner, he asked me if I could speak French. I told him a Little, and asked him concerning one Jonathan a soldier that was a passenger on board of our Schooner when we was taken, and was then at ye River of Saint Johns. Ye Priest gave me an account of him, and told me to content myself in ye Condition that I was then in, for I was in ye hands of a Christian nation and it might prove very Beneficial both to my Body and Soul. I was obliged to concur with his sentiments for fear of displeasing my masters. Ye Indians built him a Table against a Large Tree, where he said mass, and sung (louange au bon Dieu pour leur conservation jusqu’au present) after they had concluded their mass, &c., the priest gave them Permission to commence their making Connews and Took his leave of us. This Day we was Imployed in making Connews of Elm and ash Bark.”

The priest here mentioned was no doubt the Jesuit missionary, Charles Germain, for the Governor General of Canada, the Marquis Beauharnois, in his letter to the French minister, dated at Quebec 27 September of this year, writes: “M. Germain, missionary on the lower part of the River St. John, arrived here 82 yesterday with the chief and 24 Indians of his mission, the most of whom served in Mr. Marin’s party.”

The Indians with Capt. Pote made seven canoes, and in these they proceeded down the Canaan river to Washademoak lake, thence up the St. John river to Aukpaque. On the way several rather curious incidents occurred. For example, on one occasion they caught some small fish, which Pote attempted to clean, but the Indians snatched them from him and boiled them “slime and blood and all together.” “This,” said Pote, “put me in mind of ye old Proverb, God sent meat and ye D——l cooks.” On another occasion, he says, “we Incamped by ye side of ye River and we had much difficulty to kindle a fire by Reason it Rained exceeding fast, and wet our fire works; we was obliged to turn our connews bottom up and Lay under them; at this time it thundered exceedingly, and ye Indians asked me if there was not people in my Country sometimes distroyed by ye Thunder and Lightning, yet I told them I had known several Instances of that nature, they told me yt never any thing hapned to ye Indians of harm neither by thunder nor Lightning, and they said it was a Judgment on ye English and French, for Incroaching on their Libertys in America.”

On their way up the River St. John Mr. Pote and his companions passed several French houses, and at some of these they stopped for provisions, but found the people so “exceeding poor” they could not supply any. When they arrived at Aukpaque, on the evening of the 6th July, they found the schooner Montague had arrived some days before with the other prisoners.

Pote and his friends met with an unexpectedly warm reception at the Indian village, which we shall allow him to relate in his own quaint fashion:

“At this place ye Squaws came down to ye Edge of ye River, Dancing and Behaving themselves, in ye most Brutish and Indecent manner and taking us prisoners by ye arms, one Squaw on each Side of a prisoner, they led us up to their Village and placed themselves In a Large Circle Round us, after they had Gat all prepared for their Dance, they made us sit down In a Small Circle, about 18 Inches assunder and began their frolick, Dancing Round us and Striking of us in ye face with English Scalps, yt caused ye Blood to Issue from our mouths and Noses, In a Very Great and plentiful manner, and Tangled their hands in our hair, and knocked our heads Togather with all their Strength and Vehemence, and when they was tired of this Exercise, they would take us by the hair and some by ye Ears, and standing behind us, oblige us to keep our Necks Strong so as to bear their weight hanging by our hair and Ears.

“In this manner, they thumped us In ye Back and Sides, with their knees and feet, and Twitched our hair and Ears to such a Degree, that I am Incapable to express it, and ye others that was Dancing Round if they saw any man falter, and did not hold up his Neck, they Dached ye Scalps In our faces with such Violence, yt every man endeavored to bear them hanging by their hair in this manner, Rather then to have a Double Punishment; after they had finished their frolick, that lasted about two hours and a half, we was carried to one of their Camps, where we Saw Some of ye Prisoners that Came in ye montague; at this place we Incamped yt Night with hungrey Belleys.”


Unpleasant as was the reception of Pote and his fellow prisoners at Aukpaque they were fortunate in being allowed to escape with their lives. It chanced that the previous year Capt. John Gorham had brought to Annapolis a company of Indian rangers—probably Mohawks—as allies of the English. Paul Mascarene justified this proceeding on the ground that it was necessary to set Indians against Indians, “for tho’ our men outdo them in bravery,” he says, “yet, being unacquainted with their sculking way of fighting and scorning to fight under cover they expose themselves too much to the enemy’s shot.” Gorham’s Indian rangers, it appears, had killed several of the Maliseets, and Pote learned the day after his arrival at Aukpaque “That the Indians held a counsell amongst ym weather they should put us to Death, and ye Saint Johns Indians almost Gained ye point for they Insisted it was but Justice, as they Sd there had been Several of their Tribe, murdered by Capt. John Gorham at anapolis. Our masters being Verey Desirous to Save us alive, Used all ye arguments In their power for that purpose but could not prevail, for they Insisted on Satisfaction; howsoever our masters prevailed so far with ym, as to take Some Considerable quantity of their most Valuable Goods, and Spare our Lives; this Day they Gave us Some Boill’d Salmon which we Eat with a Verey Good Appetite, without Either Salt or Bread, we Incamped this Night at this afforsaid Indian Village Apog. (Aukpaque.)”

Evidently the Indians had retained the practices of their forefathers as regards their treatment of captives, for Pote’s experience at Aukpaque was just about on a par with that of Gyles at Medoctec rather more than half a century before. But it is only just to remember that this was a time of war and (as Murdoch well points out) Indian laws of war permitted not only surprises, stratagems and duplicity, but the destruction and torture of their captives. These practices being in harmony with the ideas and customs inherited from their ancestors did not readily disappear even under the influence of Christianity. And yet it is well to remember that the Indians often spared the lives of their captives and even used them kindly and however much we may condemn them for their cruelty on many occasions we must not forget that there were other occasions where men of our own race forget for a season the rules of their religion and the laws of humanity.

Captain Pote’s unhappy experience at Aukpaque caused him to feel no regret when the Huron Indians took their departure with their captives the next day. They had now come to the “beginning of the swift water” and their progress became more laborious. The party included twenty-three persons. One of the prisoners, an Indian of Gorham’s Rangers, taken on Goat Island at Annapolis, Pote says

“Was exceedingly out of order and could not assist ye Indians to paddle against ye Strong Current that Ran against us ye Greater part of ye Day, his head was So Exceedingly Swelled, with ye Squaws beating of him, yt he Could Scearsley See out of his Eyes. I had ye Good fortune to be almost well in Comparison to what he was, although it was he and I was Companions, and Sat Next to Each other, In ye Time of their Dance, and him they alwas took for my partner to knock our heads Together. Ye Indians asked me In what Manner ye Squaws treated us, that his head was So Exceedingly Swelld, I Gave them an account, at which they feigned 84 themselves much Disgusted, and protested they was Intierly Ignorant of ye affair, and Said they thought ye Squaws Designed Nothing Else, but only to Dance round us for a Little Diversion, without mollisting or hurting of us In any manner.”

As they ascended the river the party encountered occasional rapids which caused some delay, particularly the Meductic rapids below the mouth of the Pokiok, where they were obliged to land and carry their baggage over clefts of rocks, fallen trees and other obstacles. The Indians told Pote they would shortly arrive at another Indian village and he asked, with some anxiety, if the Indians there would use them in the same manner as those at Aukpaque. This question led to an immediate consultation among the Hurons, and, Pote says,

“I observed they Looked with a Verey Serious Countenance on me; when I Saw a Convenient oppertunity I spoke to this affect, Gentlemen You are all Verey Sensible, of ye Ill Usage we met with at ye other Village, which I have Reason to believe, was Intierly Contrary to any of Your Inclinations or permission, and as you Call your Selves Christians, and men of honor, I hope you’l Use your prisoners accordingly, But I think it is Verey Contrary to ye Nature of a Christian, to abuse men In ye manner we was at ye other Village, and I am Verey Sensible there is no Christian Nation yt Suffers their prisoners to be abused after they have Given them quarters, In ye manner we have been; the Indians Looked verey Serious, and approved of what I said, and Talked amongst themselves in Indian, and my master told me when we arrived to ye Indian Village I must mind to keep Clost by him.”

On the second morning after they left Aukpaque, the party drew nigh Medoctec, passing as they proceeded, several small spots where the Indians had made improvements and planted corn, beans, etc. Pote says:—

“We arrived to ye Indian village about Noon, as soon as Squaws, saw us coming In Sight of their Village, and heard ye Cohoops, which Signified ye Number of Prisoners, all ye Squaws In their Village, prepared themselves with Large Rods of Briars, and Nettles &c., and met us at their Landing, Singing and Dancing and Yelling, and making such a hellish Noise, yt I Expected we Should meet with a worse Reception at this place that we had at ye other. I was Verey Carefull to observe my masters Instructions, yt he had Given me ye Day before, and warned ye Rest to do Likewise.”

The first canoe that landed was that of the captain of the Hurons who had in his canoe but one prisoner, an Indian of Capt. Gorham’s Company. This unfortunate fellow was not careful to keep by his master, and in consequence

“Ye Squaws Gathered themselves Round him, and Caught him by ye hair, as many as could get hold of him, and halled him down to ye Ground, and pound his head against ye Ground, ye Rest with Rods dancing Round him, and wipted him over ye head and Legs, to Such a degree, that I thought they would have killed him In ye Spot, or halled him in ye watter and Drounded him, they was So Eager to have a Stroak at him Each of them, that they halled him Some one way and Some another, Some times Down towards ye water by ye hair of ye head, as fast as they could Run, then ye other party would have ye Better and Run with him another way, my master spoke to ye other Indians, and told ym to take ye fellow out of their hands, for he believed they would Certainly murther him, In a Verey Short time.”


The squaws advanced towards Pote, but his master spoke something in Indian in a very harsh manner that caused them to relinquish their purpose. The prisoners and their Indian masters were conducted to the camp of the captain of the village who, at their request, sent to relieve the poor Mohawk from the abuse of the squaws, and he was brought to them more dead than alive. At this place Pote met a soldier that had been with him on the schooner “Montague” when she was captured who told him how the Indians had abused him at his arrival. Captain Pote did not entirely escape the attentions of the “sauvagesses,” witness the following entry in his journal:—

“Thursday ye 11th. This Day we Remained In ye Indian Village called Medocatike, I observed ye Squaws could not by any means Content themselves without having their Dance. they Continued Teasing my master to Such a Degree, to have ye Liberty to Dance Round me, that he Consented they might if they would Promis to not abuse me, they Desired none of ye Rest, but me was all they aimed at for what Reason I cannot Tell. When my masters had Given ym Liberty, which was Done in my absence, there Came Into ye Camp, two Large Strong Squaws, and as I was Setting by one of my masters, they Caught hold of my armes with all their Strength, and Said Something in Indian, yt I Supposed was to tell me to Come out of ye Camp, and halld me of my Seat. I Strugled with ym and cleard my Self of their hold, and Set down by my master; they Came upon me again Verey Vigorously, and as I was Striving with them, my master ordered me to Go, and told me they would not hurt me. At this I was obliged to Surrender and whent with ym, they Led me out of ye Camp, Dancing and Singing after their manner, and Carried me to one of their Camps where there was a Company of them Gathered for their frolick, they made me Set down on a Bears Skin in ye Middle of one of their Camps, and Gave me a pipe and Tobacoe, and Danced Round me till the Sweat Trickled Down their faces, Verey plentyfully, I Seeing one Squaw that was Verey Big with Child, Dancing and foaming at ye mouth and Sweating, to Such a degree yt I Could not forbear Smilling, which one of ye old Squaws Saw, and Gave me two or three twitches by ye hair, otherwise I Escaped without any Punishment from them at the time.”

While he was at Medoctec one of the chiefs desired Pote to read a contract or treaty made about fourteen years before by his tribe with the Governor of Nova Scotia. He also had an interview with one Bonus Castine,[18] who had just arrived at Medoctec, and who examined him very strictly as to the cargo of the Montague and took down in writing what he said. Castine told Pote that the Penobscot Indians were still at peace with the English and he believed would so continue for come time. Pote thought it not prudent to contradict him, though he was confident there were several Penobscot Indians in the party that had captured the Boston schooners. At his master’s suggestion he remained close in camp, as the Indians were dancing and singing the greater part of the night, and Castine had made use of expressions that showed his life was in great danger.


The following day the Hurons resumed their journey and in due time arrived at Quebec. At times the party suffered from lack of food, though fish were usually abundant, and on one occasion they caught in a small cove, a few miles below the mouth of the Tobique, as many as fifty-four salmon in the course of a few hours.

Having considered, at greater length than was originally intended, the adventures of Captain Pote, we may speak of other individuals and incidents which figure in King George’s War.

Paul Mascarene, who so gallantly and successfully defended Annapolis Royal against the French and Indians, was born in the south of France in 1684. His father was a Huguenot, and at the revocation of the edict of Nantes was obliged to abandon his native country. Young Mascarene was early thrown upon his own resources. At the age of 12 he made his way to Geneva, where he was educated. Afterwards he went to England, became a British subject and entered the army. He was present at the taking of Port Royal by General Nicholson and, after serving with credit in various capacities, was appointed Lieut.-Governor of Nova Scotia in 1740. He eventually rose to the rank of a major general in the English army.

Mascarene preserved his love for his native tongue and was always disposed to deal kindly with the Acadians. Two very interesting letters written by him in French to Madame Francoise Bellisle Robichaux have been preserved. This lady came of rather remarkable ancestry. She was the granddaughter of the Baron de St. Cactin, and had as her great-grandsires on the one hand the celebrated Charles la Tour, and on the other the famous Penobscot chieftain Madockawando.

In view of the fact that the Belleisle family lived for a considerable time on the St. John river, where their name is preserved in that of Belleisle Bay, it may be well to trace the lineage in fuller detail.

The eldest daughter of Charles la Tour by his second wife, the widow of d’Aulnay Charnisay, was Marie la Tour, who was born in St. John in 1654.[19] She married when about twenty years of age Alexander le Borgne de Belleisle, who was eleven years her senior. Their son Alexander, born in 1679, married December 4, 1707, Anastasia St. Castin, a daughter of the Baron, de St. Castin by his Indian wife Melctilde, daughter of Madockawando, and as a consequence of this alliance the younger le Borgne obtained great influence over the Maliseets. Lieut.-Gov. Armstrong alludes to this circumstance in a letter to the Lords of Trade, written in 1732, in which he observes, “Madame Bellisle’s son Alexander married an Indian and lived among the tribe, being hostile to the British government.” This statement is hardly fair to Anastasie St. Castin, for, while her mother certainly was the daughter of an Indian chief, her father was the Baron de St. Castin and she herself a well educated woman. The genealogist of the d’Abbadie St. Castin family, however, uses rather grandiloquent language when he styles the 87 mother of Anastasie St. Castin, “Mathilde Matacawando, princess indienne, fille de Matacawando, general-en-chef des indiens Abenakis.”[20]

In spite of the supposed hostility of Alexander le Borgne de Belleisle to British rule in Acadia, he came before the governor and council at Annapolis and took the oath of allegiance. He also presented a petition requesting the restoration of the seignioral rights of his father as one of the la Tour heirs; this was ordered to be transmitted to the home authorities. For several years the sieur de Belleisle lived with his family at Annapolis and the governor and council regarded him with favor, but failed to obtain the recognition of his seignioral rights. After a time the la Tour heirs got into litigation among themselves, and one of their number, Agatha la Tour, who had married an officer of the garrison, Ensign Campbell, seems to have outwitted the other heirs and to have succeeded in selling the rights of the la Tour family to the English crown for three thousand guineas. This naturally was displeasing to Alexander le Borgne de Belleisle. He retired to the St. John river about the year 1736 and settled near the mouth of Belleisle Bay. He had a son Alexander (the third of the name[21]), who married Marie Le Blanc and settled at Grand Pre, where he died in 1744. Francoise Belleisle, who had the honor of being a correspondent of Lieut.-Governor Mascarene, married Pierre Robichaux. The wedding took place at Annapolis Royal, January 16, 1737, the officiating priest being St. Poncy de Lavennede. The contracting parties are described in the old church register as “Pierre Robichaux, aged about 24 years, son of Francois Robichaux and Madeleine Terriot, and Mademoiselle Francoise de Belle Isle, aged about 22 years, daughter of Sieur Alexandre Le Borgne de Belle Isle and Anastasie de St Castin of the Parish of Ste Anne.” The bride signs her name Francoise le Borgnes. It is evident that the “Parish of Ste. Anne” was the parish or mission of that name on the St. John river from the fact that two years later a second daughter of the Sieur de Bellisle married a Robichaux and in her marriage certificate she figures as “Marie Le Borgne de Belle Isle, daughter of Alexandre Le Borgne de Belle Isle and of Anastasie St. Castin of the River St. John.”

The brothers Robichaux settled after their marriage near their father-in-law on the St. John river and it was from them that the little settlement of Robicheau, above the mouth of Belleisle Bay, derived its name.[22]

(From the Calnek-Savary History of Annapolis, by permission of the Hon. Judge Savary.)

Francoise Belleisle Robichaux wrote to Paul Mascarene early in 1741 respecting her claim to some property in dispute with her relatives at Annapolis. The governor in his reply gives her some information and advice, adding, “I think you too reasonable to expect any favor of me in what concerns my conduct as a 88 89 judge; but in every other thing that is not contrary to my duty I shall have real pleasure in testifying to you the esteem I have for you. Let me have your news when there is an opportunity, freely and without fear.”

When the war with France began, three years later, the sieur de Belleisle and his son Alexander took sides with their countrymen. The father evidently cherished a hope that in the course of events Acadia might revert to France, in which case he expected to obtain the recognition of his seignioral rights. Young Alexander le Borgne was, as already stated, a leader of the Indians in the attack on Annapolis early in 1744, which attack failed on account of the energy and bravery of Mascarene. The following letter of the Lieut.-Governor to Frances Belleisle Robichaux is of interest in thin connection.

Annapolis Royal, Oct. 13, 1744.

Madame,—When I learned that your father, in the hope of recovering his seigneurial rights, had sided with those who came to attack this fort, I confess I was of opinion that the whole family participated in his feelings; and the more so, as your brother was with the first party of savages who came here last summer. I am agreeably surprised, however, and very glad to see by your letter that you did not share in those sentiments, and that you have remained true to the obligations which bind you to the government of the King of Great Britain, I am unwilling that the esteem which I have entertained for you should be in any manner lessened.

With respect to the protection which you ask for your establishment on the river St. John, it is out of my power to grant it. We cannot protect those who trade with our declared enemies. Therefore you must resolve to remain on this [the English] side during the continuance of the present troubles, and to have no intercourse with the other. Should you come and see us here, you will find me disposed to give you all the assistance that you can reasonably expect.

Be assured that I am, Madam,

Your friend and servant,


The next glimpse we get of the name of Belleisle on the River St. John is in connection with a notable treaty made with the Indians in 1749. In the summer of that year, peace having been proclaimed with France, Capt. Edward How went to the St. John river in the warship “Albany,” and had several interviews with the Indian chiefs, who agreed to send deputies to Halifax to wait upon Governor Cornwallis and renew their submission to the King of England. Accordingly on the 12th of August, Francois Arodowish, Simon Sactawino, and Jean Baptiste Madounhook, deputies from the chiefs of the St. John river, and Joannes Pedousaghtigh, chief of Chignecto, with their attendants, arrived at Halifax to pay their respects to the new governor, and to agree upon “articles of a lasting peace.”

Great must have been the wonder of these children of the forest at the busy scene that met their eyes on landing at old Chebucto. A colony of two thousand five hundred persons had settled on a spot hitherto almost without inhabitant, and the Town of Halifax was rising, as if by magic, from the soil which less than eight 90 weeks before had been covered by a dense forest. The sound of axes, hammers and saws was heard on every hand.

Two days after their arrival the Indians were received on board the man-of-war “Beaufort” by Cornwallis and his entire council. The delegates announced that they were from Aukpaque, Medoctec, Passamaquoddy and Chignecto, and that their respective chiefs were Francois de Salle of Octpagh, Noellobig of Medoctec, Neptune Abbadouallete of Passamaquoddy and Joannes Pedousaghtigh of Chignecto. They brought with them a copy of the treaty made with their tribes in 1728 and expressed a desire to renew it. After the usual negotiations the treaty was engrossed on parchment and signed by the Indians, each man appending to his signature his private mark or “totem.” Eleven members of the council also signed the treaty as witnesses.

A few days later the Indians returned with Capt. How to the St. John river, where the treaty was duly ratified, and thirteen chiefs signed the following declaration:—

“The Articles of Peace concluded at Chebuckto the Fifteenth of August, 1749, with His Excellency Edward Cornwallis Esq’r, Capt. General Governor and Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty’s Province of Nova Scotia or Acadie, and signed by our Deputies, having been communicated to us by Edward How Esq’r, one of His Majesty’s Council for said Province, and faithfully interpreted to us by Madame De Bellisle Inhabitant of this River nominated by us for that purpose. We the Chiefs and Captains of the River St. Johns and places adjacent do for ourselves and our different Tribes confirm and ratify the same to all intents and purposes.

“Given under our hands at the River St. Johns this fourth day of September, 1749.”

At first glance it would seem that the interpreter, Madame Belleisle, must have been Anastasie St. Castin, wife of Alexander le Borgne de Belleisle, but as she was then more than sixty years of age it is possible the interpreter may have been her daughter, Francoise Belleisle Robichaux. That the latter had a position of some influence with the Indians is shown by the fact that when the chiefs of the River St. John went to Halifax in 1768 (nearly twenty years later) they complained that the ornaments of their church “were taken by Francoise Belleisle Robicheau and carried to Canada by her, and that she refused to give them up.” The natural presumption is that the ornaments were intrusted to her care by the missionary, Germain, when he left the mission of Ste. Anne, and that she took them with her for safe keeping.

The English colonial authorities congratulated Cornwallis on the treaty made with the Indians. “We are glad to find,” say they, “that the Indians of the St. John river have so willingly submitted to His Majesty’s government and renewed their treaty, and as they are the most powerful tribe in those parts, we hope their example may either awe or influence other inferior tribes to the like compliance.”

Cornwallis in reply said, “I intend if possible to keep up a good understanding with the St. John Indians, a warlike people, tho’ treaties with Indians are nothing, nothing but force will prevail.”


Alexandre le Borgne de Belleisle was living on the River St. John as late at least as 1754 and was regarded by the Nova Scotia authorities as “a very good man.” The site of his residence is indicated on Charles Morris’ map of 1765 and there can be little doubt that a settlement of four houses in the same vicinity, marked “Robicheau” in the Morris map of 1758, was the place of residence of Frances Belleisle Robichaux.

The name Nid d’Aigle, or “The Eagle’s Nest,” is applied to this locality in Bellin’s map of 1744, D’Anville’s map of 1755 marks at the same place “Etabliss’t Francois,” or French Settlement. The place is nearly opposite Evandale, the site of the well known summer hotel of John O. Vanwart. Here the St. John river is quite narrow, only about a five minutes paddle across. The British government during the war of 1812 built at Nid d’Aigle, or “Worden’s,” a fortification consisting of an earthwork, or “half-moon battery,” with magazine in rear and a block-house at the crest of the hill still farther to the rear, the ruins of which are frequently visited by tourists. The situation commands an extensive and beautiful view of the river, both up and down, and no better post of defence could be chosen, since the narrowness of the channel would render it well nigh impossible for an enemy to creep past either by day or night without detection. There is some reason to believe that the French commander, Boishebert, established a fortified post of observation here in 1756.

Old Fort at Worden’s

It is altogether probable that the name “Nid d’Aigle” was given to the place by the sieur de Belleisle or some member of his family, and one could wish that it might be restored either in its original form, or in its Saxon equivalent, “The Eagle’s Nest.”

Colonel Monckton, by direction of Governor Lawrence, ravaged the French Settlements on the lower St. John in 1758, and in the report of his operations mentions “a few Houses that were some time past inhabited by the Robicheaus,” which he burnt. It is possible that Francoise Belleisle Robichaux went with her family to l’Islet in Quebec to escape the threatened invasion of which they may have had timely notice, but it is more probable the removal occurred a little earlier. The situation of the Acadians on the River St. John in 1757 was pitiable in the extreme. 92 They were cut off from every source of supply and lived in fear of their lives. The Marquis de Vaudreuil says that in consequence of the famine prevailing on the river, many Acadian families were forced to fly to Quebec and so destitute were the wretched ones in some instances that children died at their mother’s breast. The parish records of l’Islet[23] show that Pierre Robichaux and his wife lived there in 1759.

Francoise Belleisle Robichaux died at l’Islet January 28, 1791, at the age of 79 years, having outlived her husband six years. They had a number of children, one of whom, Marie Angelique, married Jean Baptiste d’Amour, de Chaufour, and had a daughter, Marguerite d’Amour, whose name seems very familiar to us.

The parish records at l’Islet give considerable information concerning the descendants of the families d’Amours, Robichaux and Belleisle, but the space at our disposal will allow us to follow them no further.



Rival Claims to the St. John River.

The St. John river region may be said to have been in dispute from the moment the treaty of Utrecht was signed in 1713 until the taking of Quebec in 1759. By the treaty of Utrecht all Nova Scotia, or Acadia, comprehended within its ancient boundaries, was ceded to Great Britain, and the English at once claimed possession of the territory bordering on the St. John. To this the French offered strong objection, claiming that Nova Scotia, or Acadia, comprised merely the peninsula south of the Bay of Fundy—a claim which, as already stated in these pages, was strangely at variance with their former contention that the western boundary of Acadia was the River Kennebec.[24] For many years the dispute was confined to remonstrances on the side of either party, the French meanwhile using their savage allies to repel the advance of any English adventurers who might feel disposed to make settlements on the St. John, and encouraging the Acadians to settle there, while the English authorities endeavored, with but indifferent success, to gain the friendship of the Indians and compel the Acadians to take the oath of allegiance to the British crown. The dispute over the limits of Acadia at times waxed warm. There were protests and counter-protests. Letters frequently passed between the English government at Annapolis and the missionaries on the St. John—Loyard, Danielou, and Germain, who were in close touch with the civil authorities of their nation, and were in some measure the political agents of the Marquise de Vaudreuil and other French governors of Canada.

It is possible that the Marquis de Vaudreuil felt special interest in the St. John river country, owing to the fact that his wife Louise Elizabeth Joibert, was born at Fort Jemseg while her father, the Sieur de Soulanges, was governor of Acadia. At any rate the marquis stoutly asserted the right of the French to the sovereignty of that region and he wrote to the Lieut. Governor of Nova Scotia in 1718, “I pray you not to permit your English vessels to go into the river St. John, which is always of the French dominion.” He also encouraged the Acadians of the peninsula to withdraw to the river St. John so as not to be under British domination, pledging them his support and stating that Father Loyard, the Jesuit missionary, should have authority to grant them lands agreeably to their wishes.

Lieut. Governor Doucett, of Nova Scotia, complained of the aggressive policy of the Marquis de Vaudreuil, asserting that he was entirely mistaken as to the ownership of the St. John river, for it was “about the centre of Nova Scotia;” he was satisfied, nevertheless, that the Acadians believed it would never be taken possession of by the British, and if the proceedings of the French were not stopped they would presently claim everything within cannon short of his fort at Annapolis.


The policy of the French in employing their Indian allies to deter the English from any advance towards the St. John region was attended with such success that the infant colony of Nova Scotia was kept in a constant state of alarm by the threats and unfriendly attitude of the Micmacs and Maliseets. There were, however, occasional periods in which there were no actual hostilities, and it may be said that the peace made at Boston in 1725, and ratified by the St. John river tribe in May, 1728, was fairly observed by the Indians until war was declared between England and France in 1744.

During this war the St. John river was much used as a means of communication between Quebec and the French settlements of Acadia, smart young Indians with light birch canoes being employed to carry express messages, and on various occasions large parties of French and Indians travelled by this route from the St. Lawrence to the Bay of Fundy. The Indian villages of Medoctec and Aukpaque afforded convenient stopping places.

In the year 1746 a great war party, including the Abenakis of Quebec as well as their kinsmen of the upper St. John, arrived at Aukpaque. Thence they took their way in company with the missionary Germain to Chignecto. They had choice of two routes of travel, one by way of the Kennebecasis and Anagance to the Petitcodiac, the other by way of the Washademoak lake and the Canaan to the same river. As the war proceeded the Maliseets actively supported their old allies the French. Some of them took part in the midwinter night attack, under Coulon de Villiers, on Colonel Noble’s post at Grand Pre. The English on this occasion were taken utterly by surprise; Noble himself fell fighting in his shirt, and his entire party were killed, wounded or made prisoners. From the military point of view this was one of the most brilliant exploits in the annals of Acadia, and, what is better, the victors behaved with great humanity to the vanquished.

The missionaries le Loutre and Germain were naturally very desirous of seeing French supremacy restored in Acadia and the latter proposed an expedition against Annapolis. With that end in view he proceeded to Quebec and returned with a supply of powder, lead and ball for his Maliseet warriors. However, in October, 1748, the peace of Aix la Chapelle put a stop to open hostilities.

Immediately after the declaration of peace, Captain Gorham, with his rangers and a detachment of auxiliaries, proceeded in two ships to the River St. John and ordered the French inhabitants to send deputies to Annapolis to give an account of their conduct during the war.

Count de la Galissonniere strongly protested against Gorham’s interference with the Acadians on the St. John, which he described as “a river situated on the Continent of Canada, and much on this side of the Kennebec, where by common consent the bounds of New England have been placed.” This utterance of the French governor marks another stage in the controversy concerning the limits of Acadia. He stoutly contended that Gorham and all other British officers must be forbidden to interfere with the French on the St. John river, or to engage them to make submissions contrary to the allegiance due to the King of France “who,” he says, “is their master as well as mine, and has not ceded this territory by any treaty.”


The governors of Massachusetts and of Nova Scotia replied at some length to the communication of Count de la Galissonniere, claiming the territory in dispute for the king of Great Britain, and showing that the French living on the St. John had some years before taken the oath of allegiance to the English monarch.

The Acadians on the St. John, whose allegiance was in dispute, were a mere handful of settlers. The Abbe le Loutre wrote in 1748: “There are fifteen or twenty French families on this river, the rest of the inhabitants are savages called Marichites (Maliseets) who have for their missionary the Jesuit father Germain.” His statement as to the number of Acadian settlers is corroborated by Mascarene, who notified the British authorities that thirty leagues up the river were seated twenty families of French inhabitants, sprung originally from the Nova Scotia side of the bay, most of them since his memory, who, many years ago, came to Annapolis and took the oath of fidelity. He adds, “the whole river up to its head, with all the northern coast of the Bay of Fundy, was always reckoned dependent on this government.”

Both Mascarene and Shirley strongly urged upon the British ministry the necessity of settling the limits of Acadia, and a little later commissioners were appointed, two on each side, to determine the matter. They spent four fruitless years over the question, and it remained undecided until settled by the arbitrament of the sword. Shirley was one of the commissioners, as was also the Marquis de la Galissonniere, and it is not to be wondered at that with two such determined men on opposite sides and differing so widely in their views, there should have been no solution of the difficulty.

The period now under consideration is really a very extraordinary one. Ostensibly it was a time of peace. By the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 England gave back Cape Breton (or Isle Royale) to France and France restored Madras to England, but there remained no clear understanding as to the boundaries between the possessions of the rival powers in America.

So far as the French and English colonies were concerned the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle scarcely deserved the name of a truce. It was merely a breathing time in which preparations were being made for the final struggle. The treaty was so indefinite that a vast amount of territory was claimed by both parties. The English were naturally the most aggressive for the population of the English colonies was 1,200,000 while Canada had but 60,000 people.

Count de la Galissonniere, the governor-general of Canada, though diminutive in stature and slightly deformed, was resolute and energetic; moreover he was a statesman, and had his policy been followed it might have been better for France. He advised the government to send out ten thousand peasants from the rural districts and settle them along the frontiers of the disputed territory, but the French court thought it unadvisable to depopulate France in order to people the wilds of Canada. Failing in this design, the Count determined vigorously to assert the sovereignty of France over the immense territory in dispute. Accordingly he claimed for his royal master the country north of the Bay of Fundy and west to the Kennebec, and his officers established fortified posts on the River St. John and at the Isthmus of Chignecto. He at the same time stirred up the Indians to 96 hostilities in order to render the position of the English in Nova Scotia and New England as uncomfortable as possible, and further to strengthen his hands he endeavored to get the Acadians in the peninsula of Nova Scotia to remove to the St. John river and other parts of “the debatable territory.” His policy led to a counter policy on the part of Shirley and Lawrence (governors respectively of Massachusetts and Nova Scotia) namely, that the Acadians should not be allowed to go where they liked and to do as they pleased but must remain on their lands and take the oath of allegiance to the English sovereign or be removed to situations where they could do no harm to the interests of the British colonies in the then critical condition of affairs.

Ostensibly there was peace from the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle until war was declared between the rival powers in 1756. But in the meantime there was a collision between them on the Ohio river, where the French built Fort Duquesne on the site now occupied by Pittsburg. The governors of the English colonies held a conference and decided on rather a startling programme for a time of peace. Gen. Braddock was to march on Fort Duquesne and drive the French from the Ohio valley; Shirley, of Massachusetts, was to lead an expedition against Niagara; William Johnson, was to take Crown Point and secure control of Lake Champlain; while, in Acadia, Colonel Monckton was to attack the French position at Fort Beausejour. In every instance the English were the aggressors but they justified their action on the ground that the places to be attacked were on British territory. This the French as emphatically denied. Braddock’s attempt resulted in a most disastrous failure, Shirley’s expedition was abandoned, William Johnson won a brilliant victory at Lake George and Colonel Monckton captured Beausejour.

The course of events on the River St. John and in other parts of Acadia harmonizes with the general situation of affairs in America at this time.

As the period under consideration is one of which comparatively little has been written, it may be well to make use of the information contained in the voluminous correspondence of the French ministers and their subordinates in America.

Early in the summer of 1749 the Count de la Galissonniere sent the Sieur de Boishebert to the lower part of the River St. John with a small detachment to secure the French inhabitants against the threats of Capt. Gorham, who had been sent by the Governor of Nova Scotia to make the inhabitants renew the oath of allegiance to the English sovereign, which de la Galissonniere says “they ought never to have taken.” The Count expresses his views on the situation with terseness and vigor: “The River St. John is not the only place the English wish to invade. They claim the entire coast, from that river to Beaubassin, and from Canso to Gaspe, in order to render themselves sovereigns of all the territory of the Abenakis, Catholics and subjects of the king, a nation that has never acknowledged nor wishes to acknowledge their domination and which is the most faithful to us in Canada. If we abandon to England this land, which comprises more than 180 leagues of seacoast, that is to say almost as much as from Bayonne to Dunkirk, we must renounce all communication by land from Canada with Acadia and Isle Royal, together with the means of succoring the one and retaking the other.” 97 The Count further argues that to renounce the territory in dispute will deprive the Acadians of all hope of a place of refuge on French soil and reduce them to despair, and he apprehends that the English, having no reason to care for them, will suffer them to have no missionaries and will destroy at their leisure their religion. “It is very easy,” he adds, “to hinder the English establishing themselves on these lands. They will have to proceed through the woods and along narrow rivers, and as long as the French are masters of the Abenakis and the Acadians are provided with arms and supplies from France the English will not expose themselves to their attacks.”

Both sides began to consider the advisability of taking forcible possession of the disputed territory, but the French were the first to take action. In June, 1749, Mascarene reported two French officers with twenty or thirty men from Canada and a number of Indians had come to erect a fort and make a settlement at the mouth of the river, and that two vessels with stores and materials were coming to them from Quebec. On receipt of this information, Cornwallis, who had just arrived at Halifax, sent Captain Rous in the sloop “Albany” to St. John to ascertain what works were in course of erection by the French, and to demand the authority for their action. He also issued a proclamation in French prohibiting the Acadians from making a settlement on the St. John.

When the “Albany” arrived no one was found at the old fort and for some time no inhabitants, either French or Indian, were seen. At last a French schooner entered the harbor, laden with provisions. Captain Rous took her, but offered to release her provided the master would go up the river and bring down the French officers. The master accordingly went up the river in a canoe, and the next day a French officer with thirty men and 150 Indians came down and took position, with their colors flying, at a point on the shore within musket shot of the “Albany.” The commander of the French was Pierre Boishebert. He had fixed his headquarters ten miles up the river at the place now known as Woodman’s Point, just above the mouth of the Nerepis, where in Governor Villebon’s time there had been an Indian fortress.

Captain Rous ordered the French to strike their colors; their commander demurred, and asked to be allowed to march back with his colors flying, promising to return the next day without them. Rous ordered the colors to be struck immediately, which being done, the officers were invited on board the “Albany.” They showed their instructions from the governor of Canada, Count de la Galissonniere, by which it appeared they had at first been ordered to establish a fortified post, but afterwards the order had been countermanded and they were required merely to prevent the English from establishing themselves till the right of possession should be settled between the two crowns.

The letter of Captain Rous to Boishebert, upon the arrival of the former at St. John harbor, is rather quaint reading. The original is in French.

From the River St. John, 3 July, 1749.

Sir,—I am directed by the King, my master, to look into and examine the various ports, harbors and rivers of His Majesty’s province of Nova Scotia, and am now here for that intent. Being informed that you are upon this river with a 98 detachment of soldiers of the King of France. I should be pleased to know by what authority and with what intention your are engaged in a similar procedure. It would afford me much pleasure if I could have the honor of a personal interview in order to convince you of the rights of the King, my master.

I shall be delighted to see some of the Indian chiefs in order to inform them of the peace and of the harmony that prevails between the two crowns, also to confer with them.

Until I shall have the honor, as I hope, of seeing you,

I am very truly, etc.

In the subsequent interview with the savages, Father Germain and Captain Edward How acted as interpreters, and the missionary wrote an account of the interview to the governor of Quebec, in which he mentions the fact that Cornwallis, the governor of Nova Scotia, claimed jurisdiction over the St. John river region and beyond it to Passamaquoddy, deeming it a part of Acadia according to its ancient limits. Boishebert, in his letter to the Count de la Galissonniere, says that one of the best reasons the English had for laying claim to the territory north of the Bay of Fundy was that the commission of Subercase, the last French governor who resided at Annapolis Royal, fixed his jurisdiction as far west as the River Kennebec. In the spirit of a true soldier, Boishebert wishes that war might speedily recommence, and that France might be more fortunate as to the conquest of Acadia than in the last war. Meanwhile he had arranged with Capt. Rous to remain undisturbed on the River St. John until the next spring, on the understanding that he was to erect no fortification.

The St. John Indians having made peace with the governor of Nova Scotia at Halifax, it was decided that a present of 1,000 bushels of corn should be sent “to confirm their allegiance”; and it seems their allegiance needed confirmation, for a little later Father Germain warned Captain How that an Indian attack was impending. Nor was it by any means a false alarm, for on the 8th of December about 300 Micmacs and Maliseets surprised and captured an English officer and eighteen men and attacked the fort at Minas.

Father Germain evidently was a warrior priest and had used his powers of observation to some purpose; he strongly recommended the erection of a fort for the defence of the river at the narrows (“detroit”) about a league and a half above where the river enters the sea. The English, he says, could not pass it with 600 men if there were but 60 or 80 men to oppose them.

The Marquis de la Jonquiere, who succeeded as governor general this year, at once displayed anxiety in regard to the St. John river region—“Being the key of this country,” he says, “it is essential to retain it.” He confides his policy to the minister at Versailles, in his letter of October 9, 1749. “It is desirable,” he writes, “that the savages should unite in opposing the English even at Chibuctou (Halifax).... The savages must act alone without co-operation of soldier or inhabitant and without it appearing that I have knowledge of it. It is very necessary also, as I wrote the Sieur de Boishebert, to observe much caution in his proceedings and to act very secretly in order that the English may not be able to perceive we are supplying the needs of the said savages. It will be the missionaries who will attend to all the negotiations and who will direct the proceedings of the said savages. They 99 are in very good hands, the Rev. Father Germain and the Abbe Le Loutre being well aware how to act to the best advantage and to draw out all the assistance they can give on our side. They will manage the intrigue in such a way that it will not be known. They will concert in every instance with the Sieurs de la Corne and de Boishebert. If all turns out as I hope it will follow,—first that we will hold our lands and the English will not be able to establish any settlements before the boundaries have been determined by the two crowns, and second that we shall be able to assist and gradually to withdraw from the hands of the English the French of Acadia.”

It is not necessary for us to criticize too harshly the policy of the French governor and his subordinates, but we need not be surprised that in the end it provoked resentment on the part of the governors of Nova Scotia and Massachusetts and was one of the causes of the Acadian expulsion. That it was in a measure successful is proved by the reply of Lawrence a few years later to the suggestion of the Lords of Trade, who had been urging upon him the importance of making settlements: “What can I do to encourage people to settle on frontier lands, where they run the risk of having their throats cut by inveterate enemies, who easily effect their escape from their knowledge of every creek and corner?”

Boishebert, prevented from immediately establishing a fortified post, seems to have moved freely up and down the river. At one time he writes from “Menacouche” at the mouth of the river, at another from “Ecoubac”—the Indian village of Aukpaque—at another he is at “Medoctec,” the upper Indian village. He organized the few Acadians on the river into a militia corps, the officers of which were commissioned by Count de la Galissonniere.

Meanwhile the Abbe Le Loutre was employing his energies to get the Acadians to leave their lands in the Nova Scotian peninsula and repair to the St. John river and other places north of the isthmus. To such a proceeding Cornwallis objected and Le Loutre then wrote to the French authorities an earnest letter in behalf of the Acadians, in which he says, “Justice pleads for them and as France is the resource of the unfortunate, I hope, Monseigneur, that you will try to take under your protection this forsaken people and obtain for them through his majesty liberty to depart from Acadia and the means to settle upon French soil and to transport their effects to the River St. John or some other territory that the authorities of Canada may take possession of.”

The French still cherished the project of establishing a fortified post at the mouth of the St. John and, as they had opportunity, sent thither munitions of war and garrison supplies. In the summer of the year 1750, the British warship “Hound,” Capt. Dove, was ordered to proceed to St. John in quest of a brigantine laden with provisions and stores from Quebec, and said to have on board 100 French soldiers. Before the arrival of the “Hound,” however, Capt. Cobb in the provincial sloop “York” got to St. John, where he found the brigantine anchored near the shore at the head of the harbor. She fired an alarm gun on sight of the “York.” The English captain brought his vessel to anchor under the lee of Partridge Island and sent a detachment of men in a whale boat to reconnoitre. They were fired upon by the French and Indians, and the French commander, Boishebert, insisted that Cobb should quit the harbor, as it belonged to the French king, and threatened to send his 100 Indians to destroy him and his crew. Nothing daunted, Cobb proceeded up the harbor in his sloop until he discovered “a small fortification by a little hill,” where the French were assembled and had their colors hoisted. Boishebert’s forces included fifty-six soldiers and 200 Indians. He summoned to his aid the inhabitants living on the river and they responded to the number of fifty or sixty. The governor of Canada had lately commissioned Joseph Bellefontaine, an old resident, to be “major of all the militia of the River St. John,”[25] and it is to the presumed he was active on this occasion. Cobb allowed himself to be enticed on shore under a flag of truce, and was made a prisoner and compelled to send an order to his vessel not to molest the French brigantine. His mate, however, pluckily declined to receive the order, and announced his determination to hold the French officers who had come with the message until Cobb should be released. This Boishebert was obliged to do and the commander of the “York,” by way of retaliation, took six prisoners from the French brigantine and brought them to Halifax.

Capt. Dove did not reach St. John with the “Hound” until after the “York” had left. He did not enter the harbor but sent his lieutenant in a whale boat to investigate the state of affairs. The lieutenant’s experience was similar to that of Cobb. He was induced by Boishebert to come on shore, was made a prisoner and only released on promising that the six prisoners carried off by Cobb should be set at liberty.

In the autumn of the year 1750 Captain Rous, while cruising in the “Albany,” fell in with a French man-of-war and a schooner off Cape Sable. The schooner had been sent from Quebec with provisions and warlike stores for the Indians on the River St. John. Rous fired several guns to bring the enemy to, but in response the ship cleared for action and when the “Albany” ran up alongside of her, poured in a broadside. A spirited engagement ensued, which resulted in the capture of the French ship, but the schooner got safely into St. John. One midshipman and two sailors were killed on board the “Albany,” and five men on board the Frenchman.

Governor Cornwallis reported this as the second instance in which the governor of Canada had sent a vessel into a British port with arms, etc., for the Indian enemy. The governor of Canada, the Marquis de la Jonquiere, however, viewed the matter from a different standpoint and demanded of Cornwallis an explanation in regard to the vessel captured. He again asserted the right of the French king to the lands occupied by his troops, and by his orders four Boston schooners were seized at Louisbourg as a reprisal for the brigantine taken by the “Albany.”

The correspondence between the Governor of Quebec and the French colonial minister supplies some interesting details of the sea-fight in the Bay of Fundy in the autumn of 1750. It seems that Boishebert and the missionary Germain had sent an urgent request to the Quebec authorities for provisions for the women and children of the Indian families, during the absence of the men in their winter hunting, and for supplies needed by the French garrison on the St. John. Accordingly Bigot, the intendant, fitted out the St. Francis, a brigantine of 130 to 140 tons, to escort a schooner laden with the required articles to the mouth of the 101 St. John river. The St. Francis carried 10 guns and had a crew or 70 men, including 32 soldiers, under command of the sieur de Vergor.

On the 16th of October, as the brigantine and schooner were entering the Bay of Fundy, Captain Vergor noticed, at 11 in the morning, an English frigate, which put on all sail and came after him. A quarter of an hour afterwards the frigate fired a cannon shot and displayed her flag. Vergor immediately hoisted his own flag and responded with a cannon shot, continuing on his way. The English frigate continued the chase and a half hour later fired a second shot followed by a third, which went through the little top-mast of the St. Francis. Vergor then made preparations for the combat, the frigate continuing to approach and firing four cannon shots at his sails. When within speaking distance Vergor called through his trumpet that he was in command of a ship of the King of France carrying provisions and munitions to the troops of his majesty. The English captain in reply ordered him to lay to or he would sink him. Vergor repeated his announcement in English, but, for answer the frigate discharged a volley of all her guns damaging the ship and killing two of his men. He in turn now fell upon the frigate, discharging all his guns and musketry. The fight lasted nearly five hours, at the expiration of which the St. Francis was so crippled by the loss of her mainmast and injuries to her sails and rigging that Vergor was obliged to surrender. His long boat having been rendered unserviceable, the English captain sent his own to convey him on board. Vergor found the frigate to be the Albany, of 14 guns and 28 swivel guns and a crew of 120 men, commanded by Captain Rous. The Albany did not pursue the schooner, which proceeded to St. John, but sailed for Halifax with her prize, where she arrived three days later.

Vergor was sent on shore and confined to a room in the house of Governor Cornwallis. The governor treated him courteously, heard his version of the affair and called a council meeting the next day to inquire into the circumstances of the case.

Vergor’s official report conveys the idea that Cornwallis was rather doubtful as to whether Rous had acted in a legitimate manner. The council held five or six meetings without coming to any decision. Meanwhile, with the governor’s approval, Vergor had a new main-mast cut and drawn from the woods by the crew of the St. Francis and arrangements were made to repair the damaged sails and shrouds. However the matter was soon afterwards taken out of Cornwallis’ hands by Captain Rous, who brought the case before the Admiralty Court, where the St. Francis was confiscated for engaging in illicit commerce in the province of his Britannic Majesty.

The French authorities took up the matter and sent a spirited remonstrance to the British ambassador, claiming that the transaction was opposed to every kind of law and demanding the restoration of the captured vessel with exemplary punishment of Captain Rous and the admiralty officers at Halifax, as well as orders on the part of his Britannic Majesty to all officers in his ships and colonies to observe the peace and to undertake nothing contrary thereto. A demand was also made that the English should in no way hinder the migration of the Acadians from the peninsula of Nova Scotia to the mainland or elsewhere. 102 It is needless to say that the British government did not comply with these demands and here was one of the many grievances that led to a renewal of the war a little later.

The Sieur de Vergor and the crew of the St. Francis were sent to Louisbourg, and the brigantine retained at Halifax as a prize on the ground that she was engaged in furnishing warlike munitions to the Indian enemy and interfering with British rights on the River St. John.

Cornwallis evidently felt the difficulties of his position very keenly. Halifax was yet in its infancy and in a comparatively defenceless state; Louisbourg and Quebec were supporting the French on the St. John and he had neither the men nor the money to oppose their proceedings. It seems, too, that he had been called to account for the large expenditure he had made in Nova Scotia. In his letters to the Lords of Trade he expresses himself as distracted between his desire to lessen expenses and his fears of losing the province. He was doubtful if, with the forces at his disposal, he could prevent the French from fortifying St. John and Beausejour, and he observes, with some irritation, that it has been said, “What has he to contend with? Three or four hundred Indians: it is a time of peace and no other enemy to fear.” So far from this being an adequate representation of the situation, he claimed the facts were that the French had taken possession of all Nova Scotia north of the Bay of Fundy, and had obliged many of the Acadians of the peninsula to remove thither and swear allegiance to the king of France; that the governor of Canada, through his emissary le Loutre, had offered a premium for every prisoner, head, or scalp of an Englishman; that the French had sent a ship of thirty-six guns and 300 men to the Bay of Fundy and had not only incited the Indians to hostilities but had behaved as if there were open war.

The French at Quebec, in view of the difficulty of keeping in touch with their posts on the north side of the Bay of Fundy, endeavored to improve the route of communication via the River St. John. During the previous war they had made a road from Riviere du Loup to Lake Temisquata, but the woods were growing up again and deep holes began to render it impracticable. Bigot, the intendant, therefore spent 600 or 700 livres in improving it, and in consequence couriers were able to come to Quebec in ten or twelve days from Shediac, and in eight from the River St. John. For the convenience of travelers three magazines of supplies were established, one at Riviere du Loup, one at Temisquata and one at the head of Madawaska river. The Marquis de la Jonquiere anticipated great advantages from the overland route of communication. He says in a letter to France, dated May 1, 1751: “We have made a road and are going to make some flat-bottomed conveyances so that in winter we will be able to transport by hauling over the snow the things most needed for the River St. John, and in summer we shall be able to make the transport by means of carts and flat-bottomed batteaux. These arrangements will be very useful supposing that the English continue to stop the vessels we send there.”

“As the English have boasted that they are going to establish themselves at the River St. John,” continues the Marquis, “I have given orders to the Sieur de Boishebert, who commands there, to repair the old fort named Menacoche 103 (Menagoueche) at the mouth of the river and to make there a barrack for the officers and 100 men in garrison with necessary magazines. The whole will be built of logs and I have very expressly recommended Boishebert, to have it done without expense to the King, or at least very little, and to that end he is to employ the soldiers and militia.”

This fort stood in Carleton opposite Navy Island on the point at the foot of King street, still called “Old Fort.” The Marquis la Jonquiere says the terraces of the fort were about twenty-five feet high outside and twelve inside and the defences were such as would enable the garrison to withstand a lively attack.

It was intended to place four cannons of 8 L. to cannonade any ships that might attack it. The chief difficulty of the situation was the scarcity of water. The fort was quite indispensable for if the French were to abandon the lower part of the St. John river the English would immediately take possession. The savages were instructed to annoy the English on all occasions and to plunder any of their ships that landed on their shores. The Marquis even went so far as to suggest that some of the Acadians, dressed and painted like the savages, should join in the attacks upon the English in order that the savages might act with greater courage. He says he cannot avoid consenting to what the savages do in keeping the English busy and frustrating their advance since the French were restrained from open hostilities by the peace. “I beg you to be assured, Monseigneur,” the Marquis continues, “that I will manage everything so as not to compromise myself and that I will not give up an inch of land that belongs to the king. It is time the limits should be settled and that we should know positively what we are to hold, so as to put an end to all hostilities and to avoid the immense expense that is occasioned.”

La Jonquiere, in the month of February, sent on the ice a detachment of fifty Canadians to strengthen the garrison at the mouth of the River St. John, and as the services of Boishebert were required elsewhere, the Sieur de Gaspe,[26] lieutenant of infantry, was sent to replace him and remained two years and a half in command.

The situation of the Acadians on the St. John at this time was a very unenviable one. Fort Boishebert, at the Nerepis, was a frail defence, and they were beginning to be straitened for supplies on account of the vigilance of the English cruisers. Father Germain wrote to the commandant at Annapolis Royal for leave to buy provisions there for the French living on the river, but the governor and council objected on the ground that French troops occupied the place and the Indians there were hostile. We gather some interesting information from a letter written at this time to the French minister by the Sieur de Gaspe, who was in command of the fort at the mouth of the Nerepis.[27]


Fort de Nerepice, 16th June, 1751.

Monseigneur: On my arrival at this post on the River St. John, to which I am sent by my general, the Marquis de la Jonquiere, to relieve M. de Boishebert, the commandant of the place, I found at anchor the frigate “Fidele,” commanded by M. Maccarti, who was landing the provisions and other supplies sent for this post. The coming of this ship, Monseigneur, convinces me that you wish to hold possession of this post.

I have only just arrived here. I learn that the English threaten to come and build a fort at the mouth of the river near that which the Marquis de la Jonquiere has caused to be begun and has ordered me to continue. I will do my best to carry out his orders so far as circumstances permit, and the governor will furnish you with an account of his intentions.

In order to fix ourselves here we must keep up communication by way of La Baie Francaise [the Bay of Fundy] so as to furnish provisions; for the place cannot be supplied by land, especially if we must afford subsistence to those families of Acadians who are obliged to seek refuge on the river, as has been stated to me. I will receive them, Monseigneur, in order to settle the country, which at present has only twenty-eight French inhabitants,[28] who can give no assistance in 105 providing for the support of others, not having as yet enough cultivated land for themselves.

M. Maccarti, commander of the frigate, has taken note of the harbor [at St. John] on the other side of the fort, and of the other advantages, or disadvantages, we must encounter in this place, where I will endeavor to maintain the rights that we have and to oppose the Englishman if he attempts to build here.

I am with very profound respect, Monseigneur,

    Your humble and very obedient servant,


WOODMAN’S POINT. (The Star shows the site of Fort Boishebert.)

Resolute attempts continued to be made to withdraw the Acadians from the peninsula of Nova Scotia, both by threats and persuasions, and the Marquis de la Jonquiere issued a proclamation to those living within the bounds of what is now New Brunswick, declaring that all who did not within eight days take the oath of allegiance in the militia companies would be considered as rebels and driven from their lands. The companies of militia were ordered to drill on Sundays and Feast days and to hold themselves in readiness to defend themselves at any moment. A few months later the governor of Canada was able to report that all the Acadian inhabitants who were upon the lands of the king had taken the oath of fidelity. Twelve blank commissions were sent from Quebec to be issued to those most capable of fulfilling the duties of officers in the militia.

At Fort Menagoueche the work did not progress as fast as anticipated. The workmen had no tools except axes, and the Sieur de Gaspe complained that he had not been able to make the soldiers of the garrison work. He says “they are very bad subjects” and he dared not compel them to work apprehending their desertion. The fort was surrounded by four bastions and, in addition to the barracks and magazines, it was proposed to construct a building of logs, squared with the axe, to accommodate the chaplain and surgeon and to serve as a guard house.

Fort Boishebert, at Woodman’s Point on the Nerepis, was a difficult post to maintain owing to the insufficiency of the troops at de Gaspe’s disposal. He complains that the savages had broken in the door of the cellar and he thought it advisable to abandon it altogether. The Marquis de la Jonquiere ordered him to consult with Father Germain on the subject and meanwhile to double the guard. The missionary wrote he was of the same opinion as the Sieur de Gaspe, and permission was accordingly given to abandon the fort and to transport the supplies wherever they might be needed.

The Jesuit missionary at Penobscot, Father Gounon, proposed to spend the winter at “Nerepisse” with his Indians, but the governor of Canada did not at all approve of it, fearing that if the savages were to abandon their village the English would advance from the westward towards the River St. John. He apprehended that if only a small number of Indians remained at Penobscot, and these without a missionary, the enemy would win them to their side and, as a direful result, the English would presently establish themselves at Matsipigouattons, advancing to Peskadamokkanti (or Passamaquoddy) and so by degrees to the River St. John.



The French anxious to hold possession of the River St. John.

The situation on the St. John had now become a matter of international interest in view of the boundary dispute. The deliberations of the French and English commissioners began in 1750 and lasted four years. In preparing the French case the Marquis de la Galissonniere summoned to his aid the Abbes de L’Isle-Dieu and Le Loutre, who were both well informed as to the situation of Acadia and also filled with intense zeal for the national cause. We learn from letters of the Abbe de L’Isle-Dieu, written at Paris to the French minister early in the year 1753, that the two missionaries, in consultation with the Count de la Galissonniere, prepared several documents to elucidate the French case. Copies of these very interesting papers are now in the Canadian Archives at Ottawa, and have been published at Quebec in 1890 by the Abbe Casgrain in “Le Canada Francais.” The three most important of these documents are entitled:

1. Memorandum on the necessity of determining the limits of Acadia.

2. Plan for the settlement of the country in order to hasten the determining of the aforesaid limits.

3. Representation of the present state of the missions, French as well as Indians, in the southern part of New France in Canada.

In the first of these documents the following references are made to the River St. John:

“This post, so important to retain for France, has as commandant M. De Gaspe at Fort Menagoeck, built at the mouth of the river. The missionary on the river is Father Germain, Jesuit, who makes his residence at Ekauba (Aukpaque), distant about forty leagues from Fort Menagoeck.

“The savages of Father Germain’s mission are Marechites, and he has in addition the care of some French families settled on the river.

“Since the month of August last, Father Audren has been sent as assistant to Father Germain, but his assistance will be much more hurtful than beneficial to the mission if, in accordance with the plan of the Jesuit provincial, it is decided to recall Father Germain to Quebec to fill the office of superior general of the house of the Jesuits in Canada. This is not merely a groundless surmise, for the destination and nomination to office of Father Germain are already determined, at least Father Germain himself so states in his last letter to the Abbe l’Isle-Dieu, and he adds that he has made every possible representation to at least delay his recall. The Abbe l’Isle-Dieu, who perceives all the consequences of his removal, has already endeavored to prevent its being effected by the Provincial, and it is thought that, under the present circumstances, the court should as far as possible employ its authority to hinder the retirement of Father Germain from his mission, where the esteem and confidence, the respect and authority, that he has acquired over the savages and the few French who are found in his mission, give him a power that a young missionary could not have. Besides Father Germain joins to a disinterestedness without example, to piety the most sincere, and to a zeal indefatigable, consummate 107 experience. All this is necessary in connection with various operations that are now to be undertaken, in which a man of such qualifications can be of great assistance.

“At a distance of eighteen leagues from Father Germain’s post of duty is another called Medoctek, which is dependent on the same mission and served by the Jesuit father Loverga, who has been there nine months, and who has the care of a band of Marechites; but, in addition to the fact that Father Loverga is on the point of leaving, he would be useless there on account of his great age and it would be better to send there next spring Father Audren, since this mission is daily becoming more important, especially to the savages whose chief occupation is beaver hunting.

“The French inhabitants of the River St. John have suffered much by different detachments of Canadians and Indians, to the number of 250 or 300 men, commanded by M. de Montesson, a Canadian officer, whom they have been obliged to subsist, and for that purpose to sacrifice the grain and cattle needed for the seeding and tillage of their own fields. In the helpless position in which these inhabitants find themselves, it is thought that in order to afford them sufficient relief it would be advisable that the Court should send them immediately at least 1,000 barrels of flour, and the same quantity annually for some time, both for their own subsistence and for that of the garrison and the Indians. It would be well also to send them each year about 250 barrels of bacon; this last sort of provision being limited to this quantity because it is supposed, or at least hoped, there will be sent from Quebec some Indian corn and peas as well as oil and fat for the savages.”

The reference to the St. John river region in the document from which this extract is taken, concludes by strongly recommending that the supply of flour and bacon should be sent, not to the store houses at Quebec and Louisbourg, but directly to St. John, where it would arrive as safely as at any other port and with less expense to the king and much more expedition to the inhabitants.

It may be well now to pause in the narration of events to look a little more closely into the situation on the River St. John at the time of the negotiations between the rival powers with regard to the limits of Acadia.

The statement has been made in some of our school histories, “Acadia was ceded to the English by the treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, and has remained a British possession ever since.” The statement is, to say the least, very misleading, so far as the St. John river country is concerned, for the French clung tenaciously to this territory as a part of the dominions of their monarch until New France passed finally into the hands of their rivals by the treaty of Paris in 1763.

There was no part of Acadia that was more familiar to the French than the valley of the River St. John, and the importance attached to the retention of it by France is seen very clearly in a memorandum, prepared about this time for the use of the French commissioners on the limits of Acadia. There can be no doubt that the Abbes de L’Isle-Dieu and Le Loutre had a hand in the preparation of this document, which is an able statement of the case from the French point of view. They assert “that the British pretensions to ownership of the territory north of the Bay of Fundy have no foundation. That the French have made settlements at various places along the shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where they have always lived peaceably and quietly under the rule of the French king. This is also 108 the state there at present, and the English desire to change it, without having acquired any new right of possession since the treaty of Utrecht, and after forty years of quiet and peaceable possession on the part of the French. It is the same with regard to the River St. John and that part of Canada which adjoins the Bay of Fundy. The French, who were settled there before the treaty of Utrecht, have continued to this day to hold possession under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the King of France, enjoying meanwhile the fruit of their labors. It is not until more than forty years after the treaty of Utrecht that the English commissioners have attempted, by virtue of a new and arbitrary interpretation of the treaty, to change and overturn all the European possessions of America; to expel the French, to deprive them of their property and their homes, to sell the lands they have cultivated and made valuable and to expose Europe by such transactions to the danger of seeing the fires of war rekindled. Whatever sacrifices France might be disposed to make, in order to maintain public tranquility, it would be difficult indeed for her to allow herself to be deprived of the navigation of the River St. John by ceding to England the coast of the continent along the Bay of Fundy.”

Continuing their argument, the writers of the document state: “That it is by the River St. John that Quebec maintains her communication with Isle Royal and Isle St. Jean, [Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island], and also with Old France, during the season that the navigation of the River St. Lawrence is impracticable; and as this is the only way of communication for a considerable part of the year, possession of the route is indispensably necessary to France. All who have any special knowledge of Canada agree on this head, and their testimony finds confirmation in an English publication that lately appeared in London, entitled ‘The Present State of North America,’ in which the writer sounds the tocsin of war against France and, although partiality, inspired by love of country, has led him into many errors, he does not seek to disguise how important it is to deprive France of the right of navigation of the River St. John, which affords the only means of communication with Quebec during the winter. ‘The French,’ says the English author, ‘have often sent supplies and merchandise from Old France to Quebec, both in time of peace and of war, by the River St. John, so as to avoid the difficulties and risks of navigation by the River St. Lawrence. * * If we suffer them to remain in possession of that river they will always have an open communication between France and Canada during the winter, which they could have only from May to October by the River St. Lawrence.’

“This testimony makes us feel more and more how essential it is for France to keep possession of the River St. John so as to have communication with Quebec and the rest of Canada during the seven months of the year that the St. Lawrence is not navigable. The communication which the English pretend they require by land between New England and Nova Scotia, along the coast of the Etchemins[29] and the Bay of Fundy, is only a vain pretext to mask their real motive, which is to deprive France of a necessary route of communication.

“Considering the length of the road by land from New England to Port Royal and Acadia, the obstacles to be encountered in the rivers that fall into the sea along 109 the coast, which will be more difficult to cross near the mouth; all these circumstances render the communication by land a veritable chimera; the more so that the way by sea from the remotest part of New England to Port Royal is so short and so easy, while that by land would be long, painful and difficult. We may be perfectly sure that if the English were masters of all the territory they claim they would never journey over it, and the only advantage they would find would be to deprive the French of a necessary route of communication. We do not fear to say that the object of the English is not confined to the country they claim under the name of Acadia. Their object is to make a general invasion of Canada and thus to pave the way to universal empire in America.”

It is little to be wondered at that the French nation should have been very reluctant to part with their control of the St. John river. From the days of its discovery by Champlain it had become of increasing importance to them as a means of communication between the widely separated portions of New France. But more than this the river was in many of its features unrivelled in their estimation. Its remarkable falls near the sea, its massive walls of limestone at “the narrows” just above—which the French called “cliffs of marble”—its broad lake-like expansions, its fertile intervals and islands, the fish that swarmed in its waters and the game that abounded in its forests, its towering pines and noble elms were all known to them and had been noted by their early explorers. Champlain, L’Escarbot, Denys, Biard, La Hontan, Cadillac and Charlevoix had described in glowing words the wealth of its attractions. It is worth while in this connection to quote the description which Lamothe Cadillac penned in 1693—just two hundred and ten years ago:

River St. John.—“The entrance of this river is very large. Two little islands are seen to the left hand, one called l’Ile Menagoniz (Mahogany Island) and the other l’Ile aux Perdrix (Partridge Island), and on the right hand there is a cape of which the earth is as red as a red Poppy. The harbor is good; there is no rock and it has five or six fathoms of water.

Fort.—There is a fort of four bastions here, which needs to be repaired. It is very well situated and could not be attacked by land for it is surrounded by water at half tide. Less than an eighth of a league above there are two large rocks, perpendicular, and so near that they leave only space sufficient for a ship cleverly to pass.

Gouffre. Just here there is a fall, or abyss (gouffre), which extends seven or eight hundred paces to the foot of two rocks. There is a depth of eighteen fathoms of water here. I think that I am the only one who has ever sounded at this place. The falls are no sooner passed than the river suddenly expands to nearly half a league. It is still very deep and a vessel of fifty or sixty tons could ascend thirty leagues, but it would be necessary to take care to pass the falls when the sea is level, or one would certainly be lost there. It must be conceded that this is the most beautiful, the most navigable and the most highly favored river of Acadia. The most beautiful, on account of the variety of trees to be found, such as butternut, cherry, hazel, elms, oaks, maples and vines.

Masts.—There is a grove of pine on the boarders of a lake near Gemseq (Jemseg), fifteen leagues from the sea, where there might be made the finest masts, and they could be conducted into the St. John by a little river which falls in there.

Pewter mine.—Near the same lake there in a mine of pewter. I have seen the Indians melt and manufacture from it balls for their hunting.


It is most navigable, by reason of its size and depth and the number of lakes and rivers that empty themselves into it. The most highly favored, by reason of its greater depth of fertile soil, of its unrivalled salmon fishing, and of its reaching into the country to a depth of eighty leagues. The bass, the trout, the gaspereau, the eel, the sturgeon and a hundred other kinds of fishes are found in abundance. The most highly favored, also, because it furnishes in abundance beavers and other fur-bearing animals. I have ascended this river nearly one hundred and fifty leagues in a bark canoe. I pass in silence other attractions that it possesses for I must not be too long.

One single thing is to be regretted, which is that in the most beautiful places, where the land and meadows are low, they are inundated every spring time after the snow melts. The continuance of this inundation (or freshet) is because the waters cannot flow out sufficiently fast on account of those two rocks, of which I have spoken, which contract the outlet of the river. It would not be very difficult to facilitate the flow of the waters. It would only be necessary to mine the rock that is to the right hand on entering, and which seems to want to tumble of itself. It is undeniable that the waters would flow forth more freely, and the falls would be levelled, or at least diminished, and all this flat country protected from inundation.

Forts of the Micmacs and Maliseets.—Thirty leagues up the river there is a fort of the Micmacs,[30] at a place called Naxouak, and at thirty leagues further up there is one of the Maliseets. This latter nation is fairly warlike. They are well made and good hunters. They attend to the cultivation of the soil and have some fine fields of Indian corn and pumpkins. Their fort is at Medoctek.

At forty leagues still farther up there is another fort which is the common retreat of the Kanibas, or Abenakis, when they are afraid of something in their country. It is on the bank of a little river which flows into the St. John, and which comes from a lake called Madagouasca, twelve leagues long and one wide. It is a good country for moose hunting.”

In another edition of his narrative Cadillac says that Madawaska lake and river turn northward so those who journey from Acadia to Quebec go across the portage from the lake to the River St. Lawrence, opposite Tadoussac. This route was from very early times considered by the French as the easiest and best and was greatly valued by them as a means of communication both in time of war and in time of peace.

Cadillac’s idea of protecting the low lying lands of the St. John river from inundation during the spring freshet, by enlarging the outlet at the falls, has been revived on more than one occasion. For example, sixty years later we find the following note in the statement prepared by the missionaries Le Loutre and de L’Isle-Dieu for the use of the commissioners engaged in the attempt to settle the boundaries of Acadia—:

“The River St. John is very extensive and the soil is excellent, easily cultivated, capable of supporting at least 1,000 families, but there exists an inconvenience which up to the present prevents the place from being inhabited as it should be. This inconvenience is due to the frequency of the floods occasioned by a fall where the waters do not discharge themselves fast enough and in consequence flow back upon the lands above, which they inundate. But if the proposed colony be established 111 at this place it would be possible to give vent to the flood by removing a small obstruction [portage][31] less than an eighth of a league wide; this would certainly prevent the inundations, dry up the lands and render cultivation practicable.”

A bill was once introduced into the House of Assembly for the purpose of enabling the promoters to remove, by blasting, the rocks that obstruct the mouth of the river and thus allow the waters to flow more freely. It was claimed that many benefits would follow, chiefly that the lumbermen would be able to get their logs and deals to market more expeditiously and at less cost, and that the farmers, of Maugerville, Grand Falls and Sheffield would be saved the serious inconveniences occasioned by the annual freshet. However, popular sentiment was strongly opposed to the project. People speedily realized that not only would the beauty of the river be destroyed but that navigation would be rendered precarious and uncertain. The project, in fact, would have changed our noble St. John into a tidal river, unsightly mud flats alternating with rushing currents of turbid waters, while so far as protection of the low-lying lands goes the remedy would in all probability have proved worse than the disease, for instead of an annual inundation there would have been an inundation at every high tide. Moreover the harbor at St. John would have been ruined. There can be no secure harbor at the mouth of a great tidal river where swirling tides pour in and out twice in the course of every twenty-four hours.

Cadillac mentions the convenient route to Quebec via the River St. John. The Indians had used it from time immemorial and the French followed their example, as at a later period did the English. The missionaries Le Loutre and de L’Isle-Dieu in the statement prepared by them in 1753, already mentioned, say:—

“It is very easy to maintain communication with Quebec, winter and summer alike, by the River St. John, and the route is especially convenient for detachments of troops needed either for attack or defence. This is the route to be taken and followed:—

“From Quebec to the River du Loup.

From the River du Loup by a portage of 18 leagues to Lake Temiscouata.

From Lake Temiscouata to Madaoechka [Madawaska.]

From Madaoechka to Grand Falls.

From Grand Falls to Medoctek.

From Medoctek to Ecouba [Aukpaque], post of the Indians of the Jesuit missionary, Father Germain.

From Ecouba to Jemsec.

From Jemsec, leaving the River St. John and traversing Dagidemoech [Washa demoak] lake ascending by the river of the same name, thence by a portage of 6 leagues to the River Petkoudiak.


From Petkoudiak to Memeramcouk descending the river which bears that name.

From Memeramcouk by a portage of three leagues to Nechkak [Westcock].

From Nechkak to Beausejour.”

By this route the troops commanded by the French officers Marin and Montesson arrived at Beausejour in less than a month from the time of their departure from Quebec, the distance being about 500 miles.

In the war of 1812 the 104th regiment, raised in this province, left St. John on the 11th day of February and on the 27th of the same month crossed the St. Lawrence on the ice and entered Quebec 1,000 strong, having accomplished a march of 435 miles in midwinter in sixteen days and, says Col. Playfair, without the loss of a man.

In the year 1837 the 43d Light Infantry marched from this province to Quebec in the month of December in almost precisely the same time, but the conditions were distinctly more favorable; the season was not nearly so rigorous, roads and bridges had been constructed over the greater portion of the route and supplies could be obtained to better advantage. Yet it is said the great Duke of Wellington observed of this march of the 43d Light Infantry, “It is the only achievement performed by a British officer that I really envy.” How much greater a feat was the march of the gallant hundred-and-fourth whose men, poorly fed and insufficiently clad, passed over the same route on snowshoes in the middle of a most inclement winter, a quarter of a century before, to defend Canadian homes from a foreign invader?

During the negotiations between the French and English commissioners on the boundaries of Acadia, the suggestion was made by the Abbes de L’Isle-Dieu and Le Loutre, that if it should be found impossible to hold all the lands north of the Bay of Fundy for France the St. John river region should be left undivided and in possession of its native inhabitants. As early as the year 1716 the Marquis de Vaudreuil had stated to the French government: “The English wish to seize upon the lands that the Abenakis and Indians of the River St. John occupy, under the pretext that this land forms part of Acadia ceded to them by the king. The Indians so far from withdrawing on this account have answered that this land has always belonged to them, and that they do not consider themselves subjects of the French, but only their allies.”

Vaudreuil admits that he encouraged this idea, and that his proposal to build a church for the Maliseets at Medoctec had as one of its principal objects the cementing of their alliance with the French and providing them with another inducement to cling to the locality where their church stood, and not by any means to abandon their old fort and village.

In 1749 Charlevoix, the well known Jesuit historian, writes the French minister at Versailles not to delay the settlement of the boundaries, for the English, who are colonizing and fortifying Acadia, will soon be in a position to oppress their Indian allies, the Abenakis (Maliseets), if steps are not taken in season to prevent them and to guarantee to the Indians peaceable possession of their country, where it is necessary they should remain in order to defend it against the English, otherwise there would be nothing to hinder the English from penetrating as far as the French settlements nearest Quebec; besides 113 where would the Abenakis go if they were obliged to abandon their country? “In short,” Charlevoix adds, “it seems to me certain that if time is given the English to people Acadia before the limits are agreed on, they will not fail to appropriate all the territory they wish, and to secure possession by strong forts which will render them masters of all that part of New France south of Quebec; and if this should be done it will certainly follow that the Abenakis will join them, will abandon their religion, and our most faithful allies will become our most dangerous enemies.”

Of all the leaders of the French in Acadia, none was more active and influential than the Abbe Le Loutre. But while his energy, ability and patriotism are undoubted, his conduct has been the subject of severe criticism not only on the part of his adversaries but of the French themselves. He did not escape the censure of the Bishop of Quebec for meddling to so great an extent in temporal affairs, but the Bishop’s censure is mild compared to that of an anonymous historian, who writes: “Abbe Loutre, missionary of the Indians in Acadia, soon put all in fire and flame, and may be justly deemed the scourge and curse of this country. This wicked monster, this cruel and blood thirsty Priest, more inhumane and savage than the natural savages, with a murdering and slaughtering mind, instead of an Evangelick spirit, excited continually his Indians against the English. * * * All the French had the greatest horror and indignation at Le Loutre’s barbarous actions; and I dare say if the Court of France had known them they would have been far from approving of them.”

It is only fair to the Abbe Le Loutre to mention that the officer who criticizes him in this rude fashion was the Chevalier Johnston, an Englishman by birth and a puritan by religion and as such prejudiced against the French missionary. Johnston, however, served at Louisbourg on the side of France with great fidelity in the capacity of lieutenant, interpreter and engineer.

Father Germain, the missionary to the Indians and French on the St. John, was a man of courage and of patriotic impulses. He deemed himself justified in making every possible effort to keep the English from gaining a foothold north of the Bay of Fundy, but it does not appear that he ever incited the Indians to indulge their savage instincts, or that he was guilty of the duplicity and barbarity that have been so freely laid to the charge of the Abbe Le Loutre. It is evident, moreover, that the Marquis de la Galissonniere and his aides were particularly anxious to retain the services of Germain. He had been twelve or fourteen years in charge of his mission on the St. John, and during most of that time had labored single handed. Recently Father Loverja had come to stay with the Maliseets of Medoctec in consequence of their urgent request for a missionary, their village being eighteen leagues from Aukpaque, where Father Germain was stationed. Another missionary named Audren (or Andrein) had just arrived to replace Germain, who had been nominated superior of the house of Jesuits at Quebec. The Abbes de L’Isle-Dieu and Le Loutre endeavored to convince the French minister that it was very undesirable, under existing circumstances, that Germain should be removed, as he was valued and beloved by his people—French and Indians alike—and his services 114 could not well be spared. There was no chaplain at the fort, lately re-established at the mouth of the river, and Loverja’s age and infirmities would oblige him shortly to remove to Quebec. The two missionaries would then have sufficient occupation, especially as they would have frequently to repair on the one hand to Medoctec, and on the other to the garrison of Fort Menagoueche. In consequence of these strong objections to his retirement it was decided by Father Germain’s superiors to allow him to remain at his mission.

The Abbe de L’Isle-Dieu wrote the French minister, early the next year, that there was neither priest nor chapel at Fort Menagoueche, and that a missionary was needed on the lower part of the river. Father Germain had now for a long time been missionary to the Maliseets at Aukpaque (l’isle d’Ecouba) and having more than eighty families under his care found the fort too far removed to give due attention to the wants of the garrison.

The situation on the St. John at this time was not viewed with complacency by the authorities of Nova Scotia and New England. On the 18th October, 1753, Governor Hopson, of Nova Scotia, wrote the Lords of Trade and Plantations that he had been informed by Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts, that since the arrival of a French missionary at the River St. John the conduct of the inhabitants had altered for the worse; the French had now 100 families settled on the river, had greatly strengthened the old fort at its mouth with guns and men, and had built a new one. Fort Boishebert, some miles up the river armed with twenty-four guns and garrisoned by 200 regulars. He also says a French frigate of thirty guns lay behind Partridge Island waiting for a cargo of furs, and that the French seemed to be entirely masters of the river.

It is not unlikely this statement is exaggerated, for the following summer Lieut.-Governor Lawrence says the French had at St. John only a small fort with three bad old guns, one officer and sixteen men; while of Indians there were 160 fighting men.



The Acadians become the Football of Fortune.

As time went on the Acadians became impatient at the delay in settling the limits of Acadia. In vain they were annually told the boundaries would soon be determined, all negotiation proved fruitless. Those who had crossed the isthmus into what is now the County of Westmorland found themselves undecided as to their future course. Their inclination—a very natural one—seems to have been to return to the fields they had abandoned, but the Abbe Le Loutre urged them to remain under French rule as the only way of enjoying unmolested the privileges of their religion. For their encouragement and protection Fort Beausejour was erected.

In the month of January, 1754, Lieut.-Governor Lawrence informed the Lords of Trade that the French were hard at work making settlements on the St. John and were offering great inducements to the Acadians of the peninsula to join them. He could not prevent some families from going, but the greater part were too much attached to their lands to leave them. In the opinion of Lawrence it was absolutely necessary, for the development and control of Acadia as an English colony, that the forts of Beausejour and the mouth of the River St. John should be destroyed, and the French driven from the settlements they were establishing north of the Bay of Fundy. Although the Indians had committed no hostilities for two years, he believed no dependence could be placed on their quietude so long as the French were allowed to exercise their disturbing influence among them.

Lawrence now began to consult with the Governor of Massachusetts, Sir William Shirley, about the removal of the Acadians from Chignecto and the River St. John. He proposed that two thousand troops should be raised in New England, which with the regular troops already in Nova Scotia would be sufficient for the business, the command of the expedition to be given to Colonel Robert Monckton. It was intended the expedition should sail from Boston about the 20th of April, but it was delayed more than a month awaiting the arrival of arms from England, and it was not until early in June that it arrived at Chignecto. To aid the expedition Captain Rous[32] was sent with a small squadron to the Bay of Fundy. The details of the seige of Fort Beausejour need not here be given, suffice it to say that after four days’ bombardment the Sieur de Vergor was obliged, on the 16th June, to surrender to Colonel Monckton.

Captain Rous, with three twenty-gun ships and a sloop, immediately sailed for St. John, where it was reported the French had two ships of thirty-six guns each. He anchored outside the harbor and sent his boats to reconnoitre. They found no 116 French ships and on their appearance Boishebert, the officer in command of the fort, burst his cannon, blew up his magazine, burned everything he could and marched off. The next morning the Indians invited Captain Rous ashore and gave him the strongest assurances of their desire to make peace with the English, saying that they had refused to assist the French.

A few weeks after Boishebert had been thus obliged to abandon Fort Menagouche there occurred the tragic event known as the “Acadian Expulsion.” The active agents employed by Lawrence and Shirley in this transaction were Colonel Monckton and his subordinates, of whom Lieut.-Colonel John Winslow and Capt. Murray were the most actively engaged. These officers evidently had little relish for the task imposed on them. Winslow in his proclamation to the inhabitants of Grand Pre, Minas, etc., says: “The duty I am now upon, though necessary, is very disagreeable to my natural make and temper.” The hostility of the New England troops to the Acadians added to the difficulties of their officers. Murray wrote to Winslow: “You know our soldiers hate them, and if they can find a pretence to kill them they will.”

Of recent years there has been much controversy concerning the expulsion of the Acadians and widely differing opinions have been expressed on the one hand by Parkman, Murdoch, Hannay, Hind and Aikins and on the other by Casgrain, Richard, Porier, Gaudet and Savary. Upon the merits of this controversy it is not necessary to enter, and it will be more in keeping with our present subject to refer to the Acadian Expulsion only as it concerns the history of events on the River St. John.

The position of the Sieur de Boishebert after the capture of Beausejour and the fort at St. John was a very embarassing one. His letter to the Chevalier de Drucour, who commanded at Louisbourg, is of interest in this connection.

“At the River St. John, 10 October, 1755.

“Monsieur,—As the enemy has constantly occupied the route of communication since the fall of Beausejour, I have not had the honor of informing you of the state of affairs at this place.

“I was compelled to abandon the fort—or rather the buildings—that I occupied on the lower part of the river in accordance with orders that I had received in case of being attacked. I have beaten a retreat as far as the narrows (detroits) of the river, from which the enemy has retired, not seeing any advantage sufficient to warrant an attempt to drive me from thence.

“I have succeeded, sir, in preventing the inhabitants of this place from falling under the domination of the English.

“Monsieur de Vaudreuil, approving this manoeuvre, has directed me to establish a temporary camp (camp volant) sit such place as I may deem most suitable. Even were I now to go to Quebec he could not give me any assistance, all the troops and militia being in the field.

“I received on the 16th of August a letter from the principal inhabitants living in the vicinity of Beausejour beseeching me to come to their assistance. I set out the 20th with a detachment of 125 men, French and Indians.”

Shortly after his arrival at the French settlements on the Petitcodiac, Boishebert had a sharp engagement with a party of New England troops who had been sent there to burn the houses of the Acadians and who were about to set fire to their chapel. The conflict occurred near Hillsboro, the shiretown of Albert county, 117 and resulted in a loss to the English of one officer and five or six soldiers killed, and a lieutenant and ten soldiers wounded, while Boishebert’s loss was one Indian killed and three wounded. He returned shortly afterwards to the River St. John accompanied by thirty destitute families with whom he was obliged to share the provisions sent him from Quebec.

Evidently the Marquis de Vaudreuil relied much upon the sagacity and courage of his lieutenant on the St. John river in the crisis that had arisen in Acadia. In his letter to the French colonial minister, dated the 18th October, 1755, he writes that the English were now masters of Fort Beausejour and that Boishebert, the commander of the River St. John, had burnt his fort, not being able to oppose the descent of the enemy. He had given him orders to hold his position on the river and supplies had been sent him for the winter. He hoped that Father Germain, then at Quebec, would return without delay to his Indian mission and act in concert with Boishebert. The marquis summarises his reasons for wishing to maintain the post on the River St. John as follows:—

“1. As long as I hold this river and have a detachment of troops there I retain some hold upon Acadia for the King, and the English cannot say that they have forced the French to abandon it.

2. I am assured of the fidelity of the Acadians and the Indians, who otherwise might think themselves abandoned and might yield to the English.

3. Mon. de Boishebert will rally the Acadians from far and near and will try to unite them and their families in one body. These Acadians, so reunited, will be compelled for their own security actively to resist the enemy if he presents himself.

4. Mon. de Boishebert will in like manner be engaged rallying the savages and forming of them a body equally important, and by corresponding with M. Manach, the missionary at Miramichi, will be able, in case of necessity, to unite the savages of that mission to his own in opposing the advance of the enemy.

5. He will be able constantly to have spies at Beausejour and Halifax, and to take some prisoners who will inform him of the situation and strength of the English.

6. He will be able to organize parties of Acadians and savages to harras the enemy continually and hinder his obtaining firewood for the garrison at Beausejour (Fort Cumberland).

7. By holding the River St. John I can at all times have news from Louisbourg.”

The Marquis adds that even if France failed to establish her claim to the territory north of the Bay of Fundy and should be forced to abandon it he hoped, by the aid of Boishebert and the missionaries, to withdraw the Acadians and their Indian allies to Canada. The Acadians north of the isthmus he estimated were about two thousand (perhaps 3,000 would have been nearer the truth) of whom seven hundred were capable of bearing arms. “It would be vexatious,” adds the Marquis, “if they should pass to the English.”

After Boishebert was forced to retire from the mouth of the River St. John he established himself at a “detroit,” or “narrows,” up the river, where he constructed 118 a small battery, two guns of a calibre of 2L., and twelve swivel guns. The following summer he entertained no fears as to his security. He had made an intrenchment in a favorable situation and hoped if the English should venture an attack to have the best of it. “I have particularly recommended him,” writes the governor, “not to erect any fortifications which might in case of some unfortunate event be hurtful to us, to retain always a way of retreat and to use every effort to harass the enemy ceaselessly, day and night, until he shall have reduced him to the stern necessity of re-embarking.”

There are but two places on the lower St. John to which the word “detroit” could apply, namely the “Narrows” just above Indiantown, near the mouth of the river, and the narrows at “Evandale,” a little above the mouth of the Bellisle[33]; the latter is the more probable location. The situation as a point of observation and for defence of the settlements above could not be excelled, while at the same time it was not sufficiently near the sea to attract attention on the part of an English cruiser. It is therefore quite probable that the old fort at Worden’s, erected during the war of 1812, the remains of which are in a fair state of preservation and are often visited by tourists, was built on the site occupied by Boishebert’s “Camp Volant” of 1755, afterwards fortified by him and for some little time his headquarters.

From the month of October to the end of December, 1755, nearly seven thousand of the unfortunate Acadians were removed from their homes and dispersed amongst the American colonies along the Atlantic seaboard as far south as Georgia and the Carolinas. A fleet of two ships, three snows, and a brigantine, under convoy of the “Baltimore” sloop of war, sailed from Annapolis Royal on the morning of the 8th December. On board the fleet were 1,664 exiles of all ages whose destinations were Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and South Carolina. One of the snows[34] had her mainmast broken in a heavy gale just before her arrival at Annapolis and Charles Belliveau, a ship-builder and navigator of experience, was employed to replace the broken mast, which he did in a workmanlike manner; but upon his claiming payment for the job the captain laughed in his face. Belliveau, indignant at such treatment, seized his axe to cut down the mast and this brought the captain to terms.

It chanced that shortly afterwards Belliveau and a number of his unfortunate compatriots (32 families, 225 persons in all) were placed on board this vessel to be transported to South Carolina. The “Baltimore” only went as far as New York and the snow, with Belliveau and his friends on board, was left to pursue the rest of her voyage unattended; not, however, without a parting caution on the part of the commander of the “Baltimore” to her captain to be careful, for amongst his 119 captives were same good seamen. This advice was not heeded as the sequel will show.

The voyage proved a tedious one and from time to time small parties of the Acadians were allowed on deck for air and exercise. A plot was laid to seize the ship. Accordingly six of the stoutest and boldest lay in readiness, and when those on deck were ordered below and the hatchway opened to allow them to descend, Belliveau and his friends sprang from the hold and in the twinkling of an eye were engaged in a desperate struggle with the crew. Reinforced by those who followed, the master of the vessel and his crew of eight men were soon overpowered and tied fast.

Belliveau, the leader of the spirited encounter, now took the helm and the course of the ship was reversed. Under full sail she careened to the wind until her former master cried to Belliveau that he would certainly break the main mast. He replied: “No fear of that; I made it and it is a good one.”

In due time the vessel reached the Bay of Fundy without other adventure than a trifling conflict with an English privateer, which was beaten off without loss. The French soon after released and put on shore the English captain and his crew, and on the 8th day of January anchored safely in the harbor of St John.[35]

The names of most of the families who arrived at St. John in this ship have been preserved, including those of Charles Belliveau, Charles Dugas, Denis St. Sceine, Joseph Guilbault, Pierre Gaudreau, Denis St. Sceine, jr., M. Boudrault and two families of Grangers.

Charles Belliveau, the hero of the adventure just related, was born at the Cape at Port Royal about 1696; he married in 1717 Marie Madeleine Granger and had eight children whose descendants today are numerous.

On the 8th of February, 1756, an English schooner entered the harbor of St. John, under French colors, having on board a party of Rangers disguised as French soldiers. Governor Lawrence writes to Shirley: “I had hopes by such a deceit, not only to discover what was doing there but to bring off some of the St. John’s Indians. The officer found there an English ship, one of our transports that sailed from Annapolis Royal with French Inhabitants aboard bound for the continent (America), but the inhabitants had risen upon the master and crew and carried the ship into that harbor; our people would have brought her off, but by an accident they discovered themselves too soon, upon which the French set fire to the ship.”

We learn from French sources that on this occasion the captain of the English vessel made some French signals and sent his shallop on shore with four French deserters, who announced that they had come from Louisbourg with supplies and that other ships were on their way with the design of re-establishing the fort at the mouth of the river and so frustrating a similar design on the part of the English. The story seemed so plausible that an unlucky Acadian went on board 120 the ship to pilot her to her anchorage, but no sooner was he on board than the captain hoisted his own proper flag and discharged his artillery upon the people collected on shore. Belliveau and the people who had lately escaped transportation to South Carolina were living in huts on shore and perceiving that the English were approaching with the design of carrying off the vessel in which they had escaped, they succeeded in landing some swivel guns and having placed them in a good position made so lively a fire upon the enemy that they soon abandoned the idea of a descent and returned to Annapolis Royal.

The sole result, of this bit of strategy seems to have been the capture of one poor Frenchman from whom the English learned that the Indians had gone, some to Passamaquoddy and others with Boishebert to Cocagne, also that there was “a French officer and about 20 men twenty-three miles up the River at a place called St. Anns.”

The Indians who had gone to Passamaquoddy managed to surprise at night a large schooner lying at anchor in Harbor L’Elang, bound from Boston to Annapolis Royal with provisions for the garrison. The schooner carried six guns and had on board a crew of ten men besides her captain and an artillery officer of the Annapolis garrison. The vessel was carried to St. John and hidden on the lower part of the river. The savages pillaged her so completely that on her arrival there remained only a small quantity of bacon and a little rum. The prisoners were sent by Boishebert to Canada along with others captured on various occasions.

The Acadian refugees continued to come to the River St. John in increasing numbers, and Boishebert and the missionaries soon found themselves reduced to sore straits in their endeavors to supply them with the necessaries of life. The Marquis de Vaudreuil was determined to hold the St. John river country as long as possible. He wrote the French minister, June 1, 1756: “I shall not recall M. de Boishebert nor the missionaries, nor withdraw the Acadians into the heart of the colony until the last extremity, and when it shall be morally impossible to do better.” It was his intention to send provisions and munitions of war to the Acadians and Indians.

Boishebert was endeavoring at this time, with the approval of the Marquis de Vaudreuil, to draw as many of the Acadians as possible to the River St. John and to induce them to oppose any advance on the part of the English. The French commander, however, soon found his position an exceedingly difficult one. After sending many families to Quebec and to the Island of St. John he had still six hundred people, besides the Indians, to provide for during the winter, and many refugees from Port Royal and elsewhere desired to come to the River St. John. The number of Acadians dependent on him received additions from time to time by the arrival of exiles returning from the south. In the month of June five families numbering fifty persons, arrived from Carolina and told Boishebert that eighty others were yet to arrive.

The difficulties surmounted by these poor people in the pathetic endeavor to return to their old firesides seem almost incredible. A small party of Acadians of the district of Beaubassin, at the head of the Bay of Fundy, were transported 121 to South Carolina. They traveled thence on foot to Fort Du Quesne (now Pittsburg) from which place they were transported to Quebec. One might have thought they would have been well satisfied to have remained there, but no, so great was their attachment to their beloved Acadia that they would not rest content until they had arrived at the River St. John.

The idea that dominated the Marquis de Vaudreuil in providing these unfortunates with the necessaries of life seems to have been to utilize their services for the defence of Canada. “It would not be proper,” he says, “that they should be at the charges of the King without giving tangible proof of their zeal for the service of his majesty.” The governor not being able to provide for all the refugees at the River St. John, on account of the difficulty of transporting supplies by way of Temiscouata, gave directions to the Sieur de Boishebert to send to Miramichi the families he could not subsist on the St. John. The number of Acadians at Miramichi soon amounted to 3,500 persons.

The ensuing winter proved most trying to the destitute Acadians. The harvest had been extremely poor. In some cases the old inhabitants had nothing to live upon but the grain needed for seeding in the spring time. The conditions at Miramichi were probably not more wretched than on the River St. John. Of the former the Marquis de Vaudreuil writes in the following plaintive terms:——

“This part of Acadia holds out for the King although reduced to the most wretched state. Although ourselves in want, M. Bigot has sent a vessel with provisions to Miramichi, but she has unfortunately been delayed on the way by head winds. The misery of the Acadians there is so great that Boishebert has been compelled to reduce their allowance to ten pounds of peas and twelve pounds of meat per month, and it would have been further reduced had not forty bullocks been brought from Petitcodiac. This was the allowance for the month of January and, the fishery being exhausted, he could not hope to have the same resource the months following. In a word the Acadian mothers see their babes die at the breast not having wherewith to nourish them. The majority of the people cannot appear abroad for want of clothes to cover their nakedness. Many have died. The number of the sick is considerable, and those convalescent cannot regain their strength on account of the wretched quality of their food, being often under the necessity of eating horse meat extremely lean, sea-cow, and skins of oxen. Such is the state of the Acadians.

“The intendant, M. Bigot, is going to send a ship, as soon as the ice breaks, to carry such supplies as we can furnish them. Unless some assistance is sent by sea, the lands, cattle, and effects hidden in the woods must all be sacrificed, and the Acadians obliged to go elsewhere.”

At the beginning of the year 1756, the governors of Massachusetts and Nova Scotia discussed the situation of affairs on the St. John river, and agreed that steps must be taken as soon as possible to dislodge the French.

In one of his letters to Governor Lawrence, Shirley observes, “I look upon dispossessing the French of the St. John River, and fortifying it, to be necessary for securing the Bay of Fundy and the Peninsula against attempts from Canada. * * * If I am rightly informed, nothing hath yet been done towards it, 122 except making a visit up the River as far as the lower Fort, near the mouth of it, upon which the French abandoned it, having first destroyed the stores and burst the cannon, and there still remain the settlements they have above that Fort, by means of which they keep the Indians inhabiting it in a dependence upon them, and have a passage across a carrying place into the River Patcotyeak (Petitcodiac) whereby a communication may be maintained between St. John’s River and Cape Breton across the Gulf of St. Lawrence.” In another letter Shirley wrote that it was essential the French should be dislodged from the St. John and their settlements broken up, since, if suffered to remain, they would soon be very strong and able to maintain communication by the river with Canada, depriving the English of the fur trade upon it and maintaining absolute control of the Indians.

The Indians were at this time decidedly hostile to the English and Lawrence determined to wage against them a merciless warfare. Accordingly, with the advice and approval of his council, he issued a proclamation offering a reward of £30 for every Indian warrior brought in alive, a reward of £25 for the scalp of every male Indian above the age of sixteen years, and for every woman or child brought in alive the sum of £25; these rewards to be paid by the commanding officer at any of His Majesty’s Forts in the Province on receiving the prisoners or scalps.

This cold-blooded and deliberately issued proclamation of the chief magistrate of Nova Scotia and his council can scarcely be excused on the plea that the Abbe Le Loutre and other French leaders had at various times rewarded their savage allies for bringing in the scalps of Englishmen. As for the savages, they had, at least, the apology that they made war in accordance with the manner of their race, whereas the proclamation of the Governor of Nova Scotia was unworthy of an enlightened people. Nothing could be better calculated to lower and brutalize the character of a soldier than the offer of £25 for a human scalp.

About this time, two of the New England regiments were disbanded and returned to their homes, their period of enlistment having expired, and the difficulty of obtaining other troops prevented anything being attempted on the St. John for a year or two. Lawrence and Shirley, however, continued to discuss the details of the proposed expedition. Both governors seem to have had rather vague ideas of the number of the Acadians on the river and the situation of their settlements. Shirley says he learned from the eastern Indians and New England traders that their principal settlement was about ninety miles up the river at a place called St. Annes, six miles below the old Indian town of Aukpaque. He thought that 800 or 1,000 men would be a force sufficient to clear the river of the enemy and that after they were driven from their haunts the English would do well to establish a garrison of 150 men at St. Annes, in order to prevent the return of the French and to overawe the Indians. He also recommended that the fort at the mouth of the river, lately abandoned by Boishebert, should be rebuilt and a garrison of 50 men placed there.

During the years that followed the expulsion of the Acadians occasional parties of the exiles, returning from the south, arrived at the River St. John, where they 123 waited to see what the course of events might be. Their condition was truly pitiable. Some had journeyed on foot or by canoe through an unexplored wilderness; others, from the far away Carolinas, having procured small vessels, succeeded in creeping furtively along the Atlantic coast from one colony to another until they reached the Bay of Fundy; and thus the number of the Acadians continued to increase until Boishebert had more than a thousand people under his care. Some of them he sent to Canada, for his forces were insufficient for their protection, and his supplies were scanty.

The locations of the French settlements on the river at this period are described in detail in Dr. Ganong’s “Historic Sites in New Brunswick.” The largest settlement, and that farthest up the St. John, was at St. Annes Point, where the City of Fredericton stands today. Here the Acadians had cleared 600 or 700 acres of land and built a thriving village with a little chapel (near the site of Government House) and probably there was a sprinkling of houses along the river as far up as the Indian village of Aukpaque, six miles above. Their next settlement was at the mouth of the Oromocto, where 300 acres of land had been cleared. A very old settlement existed near the abandoned fort at the mouth of the Jemseg, but its growth had been retarded by the annoyances of the spring freshets and many of the inhabitants had been obliged to remove. There was an important settlement on the site now occupied by the village of Gagetown and houses were scattered along the river for several miles below. Another small settlement existed above the mouth of the Bellisle, and there may have been a few inhabitants at the mouth of the Nerepis where stood Fort Boishebert. At St. John the French had cleared some land on the west side of the harbor, and in Bruce’s map of 1761 the places cleared are marked as “gardens,” but it is probable that the inhabitants abandoned them and fled up the river in 1755 when their fort, “Menagoueche,” was destroyed by Captain Rous.

In the year 1756 England declared war against France and the capture of Louisbourg was proposed. The governor of Canada ordered Boishebert to hold himself in readiness to aid in its defence, and he accordingly proceeded to Cape Breton with a force of 100 Acadians and Canadians and about 250 Indians, many of them Maliseets of the River St. John. The latter did not go very willingly, for they had been reduced to so great a state of misery in consequence of not receiving the supplies they had expected from the French that they had entered into peace negotiations with the English. However by means of harangues and promises Boishebert contrived to bring them with him.

The Chevalier de Drucour, the commander at Louisbourg, urged the French minister to send at once presents and supplies for the savages. “These people,” he observes, “are very useful in the kind of warfare we are making, but unless we act towards them as they have been led to expect I will not answer that we shall have them with us next year.” He urges the French minister to send him some medals for distribution. The distinction of possessing one was very highly prized and often retained the fidelity of a whole village of the savages.

The expected assault of Louisbourg did not take place until 1758 and Boishebert, 124 who had retired to Canada, was ordered to repair thither. The Marquis de Montcalm wrote from Montreal to the French minister, April 10th, “Monsieur Boishebert, captain of troops of the colony, leaves in the course of a few days, if the navigation of the St. Lawrence is open, to proceed to the River St. John and thence to Louisbourg with a party of 600 men, including Canadians, Acadians and savages of Acadia.”

The governor and other officials at Quebec seem to have placed every confidence in the courage and capacity of Boishebert, who, it may be here mentioned received this year the Cross of St. Louis in recognition of his services in Acadia. “It is certain,” writes the Marquis de Vaudreuil, “that if, when the former siege of Louisbourg took place, the governor there had agreed to the proposal to send Marin thither with a force of Canadians and Indians the place would not have fallen, and if Boishebert were now to collect 200 Acadians and 200 St. John river Indians and the Micmacs he would be able to form a camp of 600 or 700 men, and Drucour could frequently place the besiegers between two fires.”

The expectations of Montcalm and de Vaudreuil as to the usefulness of Boishebert’s detachment in the defence of Louisbourg were doomed to disappointment, for Boishebert did not arrive at Louisbourg until near the end of the siege and with forces not one-third of the number that Drucour had been led to expect. Two depots of provisions had been placed in the woods for the use of the detachment, but the fact that Boishebert had only about 120 Acadians and a few Indians in addition to a handful of regulars, entirely frustrated Drucour’s design of harrassing the attacking English by a strong demonstration in their rear. About twenty of Boishebert’s Indians were engaged in a skirmish with the English and two of their chiefs having fallen the rest were so discouraged that they returned to their villages. Boishebert himself had a few unimportant skirmishes with outlying parties of the English, and then came the news of the surrender of Louisbourg. He immediately sent away the sick of his detachment, set fire to a thousand cords of wood and a quantity of coal to prevent its falling into the hands of the enemy, and on the 29th July set out on his return to the St. John river. The English made a lively but fruitless pursuit.

Boishebert left his sick at Miramichi, and having sent sixty prisoners, whom he had taken on various occasions, to Quebec, he then took part in an expedition against Fort George, on the coast of Maine, where he gained more honor than at the seige of Louisbourg.[36] He returned to Quebec in November, and about the same time there was an exodus from the River St. John, both of Acadians and Indians, the reason for which the next chapter will explain. From this time the Sieur de Boishebert ceases to be an actor in the events on the St. John, and becomes merely an on-looker.




The English take possession of the River St. John.

The territory north of the Bay of Fundy, which now forms the Province of New Brunswick, was for nearly half a century a bone of contention between the French and their English rivals. It might indeed be said that from the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 to the Treaty of Paris in 1763 the controversy continued to disturb the peace of Europe. Sometimes the points at issue were warmly debated at the council board, where the representatives of either nation vainly tried to settle the limits of Acadia, and sometimes they were yet more fiercely disputed amidst the clash of arms and bloody scenes of the battle field.

But as years passed on, and the growing power of the English colonies began to overshadow that of “La Nouvelle France,” it seemed that the Anglo-Saxon race must in the end prevail. The policy of the governors of Nova Scotia and New England became more and more aggressive. In vain did the valiant Montcalm, as late as the year 1758, represent to his country that in fixing the limits of New France it was essential to retain possession of what the English claimed as Acadia as far as the Isthmus of Chignecto, and to retake Beausejour; also that France should keep possession of the River St. John or, at least, leave the territory there undivided and in the possession of its native inhabitants: no such compromise as this would now satisfy the English.

Louisbourg surrendered to General Amherst on the 26th July, 1758, and a few weeks later Colonel Monckton was sent with a body of troops, flushed with their success, to drive the hapless Acadians from their settlements on the River St. John. The particulars connected with this expedition are found in an unpublished document, of which the original is in the Public Record Office in London, entitled “Report of the Proceedings of the Troops on the Expedition up St. John’s River in the Bay of Fundy under the command of Colonel Monckton.”[37]

As Monckton was the principal agent in an event of such historic importance to us as the permanent occupation of the St. John river, a few words may very properly be devoted to him.

Robert Monckton was the second son of John, first Viscount Galway, by his wife Lady Elizabeth Manners, youngest daughter of the Duke of Rutland. He began his military career in Flanders in 1742, where he fought in several battles. Later he came out to America, and in 1752 we find him in charge of the garrison of Fort Lawrence, keeping watch over the French stronghold of Beausejour, across the Misseguash. A little later he was commandant of the garrison of Annapolis Royal. He commanded the English forces at the reduction of Beausejour, in June, 1755. The year following he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. He commanded the 4th battalion of the 60th regiment, or “Royal Americans,” at the siege of Louisbourg, and in 1759 served as second in command to Wolfe at the taking of Quebec, on which occasion he was conspicuous for his bravery and was 126 severely wounded. A year or two later he was Governor of New York. In the course of time he attained the rank of lieutenant-general in the army, and at his death, in 1782, was a member for Portsmouth in the British Parliament.

Among those who, in a subordinate capacity, rendered essential service in the expedition to the River St. John none was more conspicuous than our old friend, Captain Cobb, of the Province sloop “York;” a few words may fittingly be devoted to him.

Sylvanus Cobb was born in Plymouth, New England, in 1709. Shortly before the capture of Louisbourg by Sir Wm. Pepperrell, in 1745, he raised a company in his native town for Colonel Gorham’s regiment and served with credit during the operations of the seige. He was subsequently in command of a small armed vessel employed by Government to cruise in the Bay of Fundy. After Halifax was founded, in 1749, he was employed by Governor Cornwallis and his successors for nearly ten years as master of the Provincial armed sloop “York.” When at Louisbourg in 1758 he was selected by Monckton to conduct Wolfe to reconnoitre the fortress previous to an assault. As they sailed up the harbor no one was allowed to stand on deck but Wolfe at the fore-sheet and Cobb at the helm. The shot flew thickly around them, and Wolfe at length signified that they had approached as near to the fortifications as was necessary, but Cobb made yet another tack, eliciting Wolfe’s admiration and the remark, “Well, Cobb! I shall never again doubt but you will carry me near enough.” Capt. Cobb lived for some years at Liverpool, N. S. He died of fever in 1762 while serving in an expedition against Havana, and is said to have expressed his regret that he had not met a soldier’s death at the cannon’s mouth. His descendants in Queens county, N. S., are numerous.

The troops that accompanied Colonel Monckton to the River St. John included several New England companies of Rangers under captains McCurdy, Brewer, Goreham and Stark, a detachment of artillery, the 2nd battalion of the Royal American Regiment[38] and the 35th regiment of light infantry. The troops embarked on board the transport ships “Isabella,” “Wade,” “Alexander the Second,” “Viscount Falmouth,” “Lord Bleakeney,” the sloops “York” and “Ulysses” and other vessels, under convoy of the “Squirrel” man-of-war. Vessels and troops had lately returned from the siege of Louisbourg.

The fleet sailed from Halifax on Monday the 11th September and on the 18th anchored off Partridge Island sending in Cobb and Rogers[39] with their sloops to reconnoitre. They proceeded up the harbor and on their return reported that they had seen only two or three people. However, Monckton learned later that there were more than two hundred Indians in ambush at the mouth of the river 127 when the English landed, but their chief, overawed by the strength of the invaders, would not suffer them to fire and retired with them up the river, and “upon their return to Oauckpack (their settlement about two leagues above St. Anns) Pere Germain, their priest, expecting, as he termed it, ‘Quelque coup de Trahison’ from them, marched them off for Canada.”

The next day the fleet anchored in the harbor and Monckton sent Cobb with his sloop to Chignecto for some Acadian prisoners to serve as pilots up the river, also for some whale boats and Captain Benoni Danks company of Rangers.

We come now to a day worthy to be held in remembrance—the memorable 20th of September, 1759—when the control of the River St. John passed finally into the hands of Great Britain and a permanent English settlement was made upon the shores of our harbor, Monckton’s journal contains a brief record of the event:

“Sep’br. ye 20th.—Made the Signal for Landing about nine and soon after landed near the Old Fort, with as many Men as the Boats could take, being about 400. Met with no opposition. The 2d. Division being landed I sent off Maj’r Scott with about 300 Light Infantry and Rangers to make discovery and advanced the two companys of Grenadiers to support him in case of necessity. The Maj’r returned, having been above the Falls; he found some few Tracks but not the least signs of any Road or Path—the woods very thick and bad marching. The troops being all landed I ordered the Tents to be got on shore and encamped the two regiments just at the back of the Fort. The Light Infantry and Rangers under Maj’r Scott encamped on the Hill above.”

The next few days were spent in getting provisions and supplies on shore. The detachment of artillery and three field pieces were also landed. A number of exploring parties were sent out and all agreed that it was impracticable to proceed with the expedition by land. Monckton had already sent word by Capt. Rogers to Annapolis and by Capt. Cobb to Fort Cumberland to press into the King’s service any sloops or schooners available to transport provisions and stores up the river, as the majority of his vessels were too large to attempt the passage of the falls. Meanwhile he determined to repair the old fort and work was begun upon it on the 24th September. “My reasons,” writes Monckton, “for fixing on this spot, though somewhat commanded by the Hill on the back were, that it was so much work ready done to our hands, the command it would have of the Harbor, the conveniency of landing our stores, and the great difficultys that would have attended its being erected further from the shore having no conveniency of moving our stores but by men. Besides, as the season was so far advanced and we had still to go up the River, I thought it best to fix on what would be soonest done. And in regard to the Hill that has some command of it, it is only with cannon, which the enemy would find great difficulty in bringing, and this may hereafter be remedy’d by erecting some small Work on it.”

In the construction of the works at the fort 600 men were employed daily until the 24th October, when the number was reduced to 300 in consequence of the departure of the expedition up the river to destroy the Acadian settlements. Capt. Cobb returned from Fort Cumberland the last day of September with Danks’ company of Rangers, five whale boats and nine French prisoners. From the latter 128 Monckton learned that it would have been almost impossible to have gone up the river by land, and that it would have been dangerous to attempt to pass the falls with such vessels as they had with them. Their opinion, as to the difficulty of passing the falls, was confirmed by observations and soundings made by Capt. Willock and the masters of the transports.

While the fort was building, Monckton was engaged in collecting military stores, provisions and supplies of various kinds for which he sent vessels to Fort Cumberland, Annapolis, Halifax and Boston. The officers’ barracks at Fort Frederick were erected on the 2nd of October and the work of building the fort made rapid progress, but it was not until the 21st of October that the expedition was in a position to proceed up the river. Even then the start was not a very auspicious one as we learn from Monckton’s journal, in which he writes:—

“Having got together several sloops and schooners and victual’d them, I order Cobb & Rogers to pass the Falls to cover the other vessels as they might be able to get through. They accordingly get under way. Cobb being the headmost passes the Narrows, but is too late to get over the Falls and obliged to come too in a little cove below. The Ulysses, Capt. Rogers, in passing the Narrows strikes on a Rock, and is drove by the Tide into a creek above Cobb where the vessell sunk in a short time, and it was with great difficulty the Light Infantry who were in her and crew were saved. Upon hearing this and that Cobb did not lay very safe I ordered him down again and very luckily for at Low Water he would have struck on the Rocks.”

The captain of the man of war “Squirrel” endeavored to raise the “Ulysses” but was forced to abandon the attempt and she proved a total wreck.

Having at length got all the smaller vessels safely above the falls and the troops on board, with provisions for a fortnight, Monckton himself embarked in Capt. Cobb’s sloop “York,” leaving Captain Bellen of the 35th regiment in command of the troops left behind. The force that proceeded up the river numbered about 1,200 men.

To understand the subsequent proceedings of the expedition the reader will do well to refer occasionally to the accompanying plan[40] based on that transmitted by Monckton, along with his report, to Major General Amherst.

On the morning of the 30th October the little fleet got under sail but the wind being contrary little progress was made; indeed the ordnance sloop was very nearly sharing the fate of the “Ulysses,” and only escaped by casting anchor in a rather perilous position just above the falls. Next day the vessels succeeded in crossing Grand Bay and anchored off “Pointe aux Tourtres,”[41] about two leagues above the mouth of the Nerepis. On their way they observed the remains of the fort built by Boishebert at Woodman’s Point.

Sketch of St. John’s Harbour, and a Part of the River.

“ISLE AU GARCE,” OR “EMENENIC.” (Now Called Caton’s Island, in Long Reach.)

On November 1, the wind being contrary, little progress was made, and in the evening the “York” anchored off an island called “Isle aux Garces.” Monckton landed on the island, which he describes as “a verry fine one—the 129 130 wood Oak, Beech, Birch, and Walnut, and no underwood.” This island was none other than the famous Emenenic, where some traders and fishermen of St. Malo had a small settlement in the year 1611—probably the first European settlement within the confines of the province. It was here the Jesuit missionary, Father Biard, held the first religious service on the St. John river of which we have any record. As mentioned in a previous chapter, the Indians still call the island “Ah-men-hen-ik,” which is almost identical in sound with Biard’s “Emenenic,” thus proving that the old Indian name has persisted for well-nigh three hundred years. The name “Isle au garce,” found in the plan of the river, is not easy of explanation. “Garce” may possibly be a misprint for “grace,” and the name “Isle of grace” would harmonize very well with the French missionary’s visit and religious services in October, 1611, but Placide P. Gaudet—who, by the way, is no mean authority as regards the French regime on the River St. 131 John—is disposed to consider the word “garce” as signifying a “merry maiden.” If so, the name is suggestive of an untold story and there is material for a romance in connection with our historic “Isle au garce.” The island is now owned by County Secretary George R. Vincent. The soil is fertile, well wooded and excellent spring water is abundant; fine oaks grow there as in Monckton’s day. A little cove, which may be seen in the view of the island a little to the right of the wood-boat, affords an excellent landing place.

The plan of the river accompanying Colonel Monckton’s report is of special interest on account of the curious admixture of French and English names. This feature is quite in harmony with the epoch which was one of transition. Instances today are not infrequent where the existing name has been translated from the French, a familiar example being that of the island at the mouth of St. John harbor, called by the French “Isle au Perdrix” and translated into the English “Partridge Island.” Another familiar instance occurs in connection with Oak Point in Long Reach. Describing their progress up the river Monckton says, “We came too off Point aux Chaines to sound.” Point aux Chaines in English means Oak Point, and the identity of the situation of Oak Point and of Monckton’s Point aux Chaines is clearly shown in the plan of the river.

Monckton describes the country along the lower part of the River St. John as “verry Mountainous and Rocky,” but above the Bellisle comparatively flat and well timbered.

On the evening of the 2nd November the sloop “York” came to anchor “under an island called the Great Island,” or Long Island. Some of the party landed on the island where, Monckton tells us, they found walnuts (or butternuts) much like English walnuts.

The expedition was now approaching one of the principal Acadian settlements and Captain Benoni Danks was sent with a party and a guide to try to take a prisoner in order, if possible, to obtain further information, but the Acadians evidently received timely warning of their danger and had abandoned their village.

It may be mentioned, in passing, that there are some very uncomplimentary references to Captain Danks and his Rangers in Rev. Hugh Graham’s letter to Rev. Dr. Brown, written at Cornwallis, N. S., in 1791.[42] See for example the following: “A considerable large body of the French were at one time surprised by a party of the Rangers on Petitcodiac River; upon the first alarm most of them threw themselves into the river and swam across, and by this ways the greatest part of them made out to elude the clutches of these bloody hounds, tho’ some of them were shot by the merciless soldiery in the river. It was observed that these Rangers, almost without exception, closed their days in wretchedness, and particularly a Capt. Danks, who rode to the extreme of his commission in every barbarous proceeding. In the Cumberland insurrection (1776) he was suspected of being 132 ‘Jack on both sides of the bush,’ left that place in a small jigger bound for Windsor, was taken ill on the passage, thrown down into the hold among the ballast, was taken out at Windsor half dead, and had little better than the burial of a dog. He lived under a general dislike and died without any to regret his death.”

Saturday, the 4th of November, was an unhappy day for the poor Acadians living at the little village of Grimrose—the site of the modern village of Gagetown. The story shall be told in Monckton’s own words:—

“Nov’br ye 4th,—The party returns without any Prisoner, having been at the Village of Grimrose which they found had been but lately deserted by the inhabitants.

“Give orders for landing. Having got a body of about 700 Men on Shore, we march to the further end of the Village, being about a league. From whence, by the tracks we found, we judged that the Inhabitants had but lately retired and drove off their cattle. Here we found the Lime that had been taken in a schooner in the spring, which they had landed as our Pilots supposed to lighten the schooner, to get her higher up or to hide her in some Creeke—as they supposed that they would certainly have carry’d the Lime up to St. Anns would the depth of the River have admitted of it.

“It being late in the day I gave orders for Burning the Houses & Barns, being in all about 50, and for destroying all the Grain, of which there was a good deal, and everything else that could be of the least service to the Inhabitants hereafter. Having Burnt and destroyed everything we marched backe and reimbarked.

“As we were disembarking in the morning some canoes were seen crossing the head of Grimerose River [Gagetown Creek], and near where we landed there had lately been some Birch canoes made. Much cleared Land here—Fine Country. This Village was settled by the Inhabitants of Beausejour, when drove off from thence in 1755.”

The day following the expedition continued up the river to Isle Mettis, or Grimross Island. The pilots now refused to take charge of the vessels any higher, as they did not think there was sufficient water to pass. The accuracy of their judgment was soon evident. In attempting to proceed Capt. Cobb ran his sloop aground, and several of the transports had a like experience, but the bottom being sandy all soon got off again without damage. Monckton sent Capt. Rogers, late of the sloop “Ulysses,” and a mate of the man-of-war “Squirrel,” who had accompanied the expedition, to take soundings but they could find no practicable channel.

The commanding officer now reluctantly abandoned the idea of proceeding on to St. Annes. He might perhaps have attempted it by means of whale boats if the season had not been so far advanced and his provisions so nearly expended. After enumerating in his journal the difficulties that confronted him in the event of proceeding further he writes, “I therefore determined to return and destroy everything we could on our way down.” Meanwhile, by Monckton’s orders, Captain McCurdy had been scouring the country with his rangers and had succeeded in killing some cattle which were divided among the transports.

Captains Danks and Brewer were sent with their companies to burn some houses near what is now Upper Gagetown. After burning the houses they marched their troops down the “Neck” towards the village of Grimrose and on their way came across three or four Frenchmen who were driving off about forty head of 133 cattle. The New Englanders made a dash for this prize, the Acadians escaped, but most of the cattle were destroyed.

Captain McCurdy was sent by Monckton across the river to Jemseg to destroy all the houses and grain that he might find in that quarter and to kill the cattle, and these orders were duly obeyed. Monckton burnt the little settlement called Villeray’s (about three miles below Gagetown), and as he came down the river sent a small party on shore to burn the historic settlement of the Sieur de Belleisle and his sons-in-law, the brothers Robichaux, just above the mouth of Belleisle Bay. On the 8th day of November, after an absence of ten days, he arrived at the place above the falls where the troops had embarked.

Colonel Monckton evidently was not very much elated at the success of his expedition, for a few days after his return he wrote to Lieut. Governor De Lancey of New York: “I am sorry I can’t give you a better acct. of our Proceedings up this River. But it was attended with so many unavoidable delays and impediments that we were only able to go up about 23 Leagues, which is above 10 Leagues short of St. Annes—where, if we had been able to have reached, it is by very certain accounts of no consequence, being only a Village and not the least signs of a fort.

“We burnt one village and some straggling Houses and destroyed everything that could be the least serviceable to them, so that I should think that they will in the spring be obliged to retire to Canada. The River, after passing the Falls, is as fine a River as ever I saw, and when you get up about 10 Leagues the country is level, with fine woods of Oak, Beech, Birch and Walnut, and no underwood and the land able to produce anything. We have just finished a pretty good fort here, where the old French Fort stood, which will be a footing for anything that may be thought proper to be undertaken hereafter.”

The Marquis de Vaudreuil, governor general of Canada, was not ignorant of Monckton’s operations on the River St. John, but he was in no position to make any effectual resistance. In his letter to the French minister of November 5, 1758, he states that the English were engaged in rebuilding the old Fort at Menagoueche; the Indians of the River St. John had retired with the Rev. Father Germain, their missionary to Canada, where Bigot, the intendant, had provided for their wintering, and the greater part of the Acadians had also retired to Canada.

During Colonel Monckton’s absence up the river work was continued at the fort, so that it must have been nearly finished at the time of his return. It received the name of Fort Frederick, and the remains of its ramparts may still be seen at “Old Fort” in Carleton.

In the plan of St. John harbor made by Colonel Robert Morse of the Royal Engineers in 1784, there is an outline of Fort Frederick very nearly identical as regards situation and general form with the sketch of Fort Menagoueche (or “Fort de la Riviere de St. Jean”) made in October, 1700, by the Sieur de Villieu.[43] We have further proof of an interesting nature that the situation and general plan of the new fort was identical with the old French fort in one of the letters of the Marquis de Vaudreuil, in which he tells us that about the time Fort Frederick 134 was nearing completion a French Canadian, kept there as a prisoner, made his escape, and on his return to Canada described the new fort as exactly the same size as the old but much stronger, the terraces being at least ten feet in thickness, and upon the terraces were palisades ten feet high in the form of “chevaux de frise.” The Frenchman had counted 18 cannons mounted of a calibre of 18L., and the English had told him they expected to mount in all 30 cannons of 20L. and of 18L.

On the 11th November Colonel Monckton sent Major Scott to Petitcodiac with the Light Infantry and Rangers in quest of a French privateer that had been at the St. John river and which, with one of her prizes, was said to have taken shelter there. He was directed to seize the vessels and bring them off, together with any of the Acadian inhabitants he could find, and to burn and destroy all the houses, barns, cattle, grain, etc. On his return he was to send Captain Dank’s company to Fort Cumberland.

Major Scott certainly acted with promptitude, for barely a week had expired when he returned to St. John with the privateer schooner and prize sloop, which he had found in two different creeks up the Petitcodiac river. The parties sent out by the Major destroyed upwards of 150 houses and barns, much grain and a good many cattle. They captured 30 prisoners, including women and children. The Acadian seem to have made some resistance, however, and a Lieutenant McCormack and three men of Captain McCurdy’s Company and two men of the Light Infantry were captured by them.

The troops that had served in the St. John river expedition were now distributed among the garrisons at Fort Cumberland, Windsor, Annapolis and Halifax, with the exception of McCurdy’s, Stark’s and Brewer’s companies of Rangers and a small detachment of artillery, ordered to remain at Fort Frederick under command of Major Morris. This was a more considerable garrison than could well find accommodation there during the winter, but such was not Monckton’s intention, for he writes in his journal: “The Fuel of the Garrison not being as yet lay’d in, I leave the three companies of Rangers, viz., McCurdy’s, Stark’s, and Brewer’s, and have ordered that Captain McCurdy’s company should Hutt and remain the Winter, the other two after compleating the wood to come to Halifax in the vessels I had left them.”

Monckton sailed for Halifax in the man-of-war “Squirrel” on the 21st of November, and with him went the 2nd Battalion of the Royal American Regiment of which he was the commander.

In the month of January following, a tragic event took place at or near St. Anne’s, an account of which has been left us by our early historians, Peter Fisher and Moses H. Perley, in substance as follows:

After the winter season had fairly set in, a party of the rangers at Fort Frederick, under Captain McCurdy, set out on snow-shoes to reconnoitre the country and to ascertain the state of the French settlements up the river. The first night after their departure they encamped at Kingston Creek, not far from the Belleisle, on a very steep hillside. That night Captain McCurdy lost his life by the falling of a large birch tree, which one of the rangers cut down on the hillside—the tree came thundering down the mountain and killed the Captain 135 instantly, Lieutenant Moses Hazen[44] succeeded to the command, and the party continued up the river to St. Ann’s Point (now Fredericton), where they found quite a town. They set fire to the chapel and other buildings, but a number of the French settlers gathered together, whereupon the Rangers retreated, and, being hotly pursued committed several atrocious acts upon the people who fell in their way, to prevent their giving information. By reversing their snow-shoes and making forced marches they got back safely to St. John.

This story, considerably modified in some of its details, finds confirmation from a variety of sources. (1) Sir Jeffery Amherst, commander of the forces serving in America, writes in a letter to Governor Lawrence, “You will have heard of the accident poor Capt. McCurdy met with as likewise of the success of his Lieutenant in demolishing the settlements at St. Anne’s: on the recommendation of Major Scott I have preferred Lieut. Hazen to Capt. McCurdy’s Company.” In a subsequent letter Amherst says: “Major Morris sent me the particulars of the scouting party and I gave a commission to Lieut Hazen, as I thought he deserved it. I am sorry to say what I have since heard of that affair has sullied his merit with me as I shall always disapprove of killing women and helpless children. Poor McCurdy is a loss, he was a good man in his post.” In another letter Amherst describes this sad affair more fully. See Appendix.

(2) Further confirmation of the charge of barbarity is found in the journal of Rev. Jacob Bailey[45] of Pownalboro, Maine. This gentleman had occasion to lodge at Norwood’s Inn, in the town of Lynn, Massachusetts, on the night of Dec’r 13, 1759, and speaking of the company he found there says: “We had among us a soldier belonging to Capt. Hazen’s company of rangers, who declared that several Frenchmen were barbarously murdered by them, after quarters were given, and the villain added, I suppose to show his importance, that he ‘split the head of one asunder, after he fell on his knees to implore mercy.’ A specimen of New England clemency!”

(3). A statement is to be found in a dispatch of the Marquis de Vaudreuil, dated May 8, 1759, that a number of Acadians living at the River St. John were surprised on the night of the 27–28 January, 1759, by a detachment of New England troops who burned their houses, carried off twenty-three prisoners and killed two women and four children, whose scalps they bore away.

(4). Still further light is thrown upon this transaction by some notes appended to the names of certain Acadians, who had served as officers of militia in Acadia, and who were living in 1767 at Cherbourg. We learn that the Sieur Joseph Bellefontaine had once owned a large tract of land on the River St. John, near St. Anne’s, and that he was appointed Major of the militia on the river by order of the Marquis de la Galissonniere, April 10, 1749, and always performed his duties with fidelity until made a prisoner by the enemy. At the time of the mid-winter raid 136 on St. Anne’s he had the misery of seeing one of his daughters with three of her children massacred before his eyes by the English, who desired by this act of cruelty and the fear of similar treatment to compel him to take their side. On his refusal he barely escaped a like fate by his flight into the woods, carrying with him two other children of the same daughter. The young mother so ruthlessly slain was Nastasie Bellefontaine, wife of Eustache Pare. The other victims of this tragedy of the wilderness were the wife and child of Michel Bellefontaine—a son of Joseph Bellefontaine. This poor fellow had the anguish of beholding his wife and boy murdered before his eyes on his refusal to side with the English.

The village of St. Anne’s was left in a state of desolation. Moses Perley says that when the advance party of the Maugerville colony arrived at St. Anne’s Point in 1762, they found the whole of what is now the Town plat of Fredericton cleared for about ten rods back from the bank and they saw the ruins of a very considerable settlement. The houses had been burned and the cultivated land was fast relapsing into a wilderness state. Nevertheless the early English settlers reaped some advantage from the improvements made by the Acadians, for we learn from Charles Morris’ description of the river in 1768, that at the site of the old French settlement at St. Anne’s Point there was about five hundred acres of cleared upland in English grass from whence the inhabitants of Maugerville got the chief part of their Hay for their Stock. “They inform me,” says Mr. Morris, “that it produces about a load and a half to an acre.” He adds, “The French Houses are all burnt and destroyed.”

An interesting incident connected with the French occupation was related many years ago by the grandmother of the late Judge Fisher to one of her descendants. This good old lady came to St. Anne’s in the fall of 1783 with the Loyalists. Not very many months after their arrival, there was so great a scarcity of provisions that the unfortunate people in some cases were obliged to dig up the potatoes they had planted and eat them. As the season advanced their hearts were cheered by the discovery of some large patches of pure white beans, marked with a black cross. They had been planted by the French, but were now growing wild. In their joy at this fortunate discovery the settlers called them “the staff of life and hope of the starving.” Mrs. Fisher says she planted some of these beans with her own hands and that the seed was preserved in her family for many years.

The close of the year 1759 brought its anxieties to Colonel Mariot Arbuthnot, who had succeeded Major Morris as commandant at Fort Frederick. Quebec had fallen and the long and costly struggle between England and France for the possession of Canada and Acadia had terminated in favor of England.

The Massachusetts troops in garrison at Fort Frederick expected to be now relieved, as their period of enlistment had expired and the crisis of the war was over. But unfortunately for them, General Amherst at Crown Point found the force at his disposal insufficient, he could not spare a man, and Monckton, who commanded at Quebec, was in precisely the same predicament. Lawrence at Halifax had no troops at his disposal. Unless, therefore, the Massachusetts men remained Fort Frederick would be left without a garrison. In this emergency the Massachusetts legislature took the responsibility of extending the period of enlistment 137 of the troops of their colony, at the same time voting money necessary to provide them with beds and other comforts for the approaching winter. General Amherst strongly commended the patriotic action of the legislature, and wrote to Governor Lawrence, “They have judged very rightly that the abandoning any of the Garrisons may be attended with most fatal consequences to this country; and as they have made a necessary provision for the men to continue during the winter, if the men do not stay and serve voluntarily, they must be compelled to it by force.”

Evidently the men remained with great reluctance, for the following spring we find the Governor of Massachusetts writing to Governor Lawrence, “I find our people who are doing duty in your garrison—notwithstanding the favor and attention this Province has shown them for continuing their services through the winter, and notwithstanding the great encouragement given to those who would continue—have worked themselves up to such a temper of dissatisfaction that they have long ago threatened to come off, if not relieved.”

This threat was not meaningless for the governor goes on to say “already seventy men in one schooner and about eighty in another have openly come off from Fort Frederick at St. John’s.”

The conduct of these Massachusetts rangers was a source of mortification to Lieut. Governor Hutchinson, who speaks of “the unwarrantable behaviour of the garrison at St. John’s River, all of whom have deserted their post except 40 men and the continuation of those forty seems to be precarious.” Steps were at once taken to enlist a fresh detachment for service at Fort Frederick.

The conduct of the garrison was not unnatural, although from a military point of view it was inexcusable. The men had enlisted for a great and, as the event proved, a final struggle with France for supremacy in North America. With the downfall of Louisbourg and Quebec the crisis had passed. The period of their enlistment had expired, what right had the Assembly of Massachusetts to prolong it? Why should they remain? So they reasoned. Meanwhile garrison duty at Fort Frederick was found to be extremely monotonous. The country was deserted, for the few habitations that once existed in the vicinity of the fort had been abandoned and destroyed when the French fled up the river, and no English settlers had as yet appeared. Amidst their privations and the loneliness of their situation the charms of their own firesides seemed peculiarly inviting. Most probably, too, the fort and barracks were little more than habitable in consequence of the havoc wrought by a terrible storm on the night of the 3–4 November, 1759. This storm was the most violent that had till then been known, and from all accounts must at least have rivalled the famous “Saxby” gale of 1869. The tide attained a height of six feet above the ordinary, and huge waves, driven by the storm, broke through the dykes at the head of the Bay of Fundy, flooding the marsh lands reclaimed by the Acadians. Much damage was done along the coast, thousands of trees were blown down all over the country, while near the coastline the forest was levelled as with a scythe. A considerable part of Fort Frederick was washed away by the storm and Lieutenant Winckworth Tonge, of the Engineers, was sent with a party of men to repair it and put it in the most defensible 138 state the situation would allow, taking such tools and materials from Fort Cumberland as were needed. He found the condition of the fort even worse than he had anticipated. Governor Lawrence consulted General Amherst as to what should be done, and in answer the general wrote: “By Lt. Tonge’s report to you of the state of the works at Fort Frederick, it must doubtless undergo great alterations to put it in a proper state of defence, but as this will require many more hands than you can provide at present, we must for the time being rest satisfied with the work you have ordered, especially as the line of strong Pallisadoes you mention will secure it against any insult for the present.”

Colonel Arbuthnot’s anxieties were not confined to tidal waves and the discontents of his garrison. About the end of October a party of some two hundred Acadians came down the river to Fort Frederick and presented to him a certificate of their having taken the oath of allegiance to the English sovereign before Judge Cramahe, at Quebec; also an order signed by General Monckton giving them permission to return to their former habitations. Whether these Acadians were old inhabitants of the river, or fugitives who had taken refuge there at the time of the Expulsion is not very clear. Lawrence surmised that the certificates had been obtained from Judge Cramahe on the supposition that the people belonged to some river or place in Canada known as St. Johns, and not to the River St. John in Nova Scotia, and that they never could have had any sort of permission from Monckton to settle in Acadia.

The Abbe Casgrain comments severely on the course pursued by Governor Lawrence on this occasion: “Not being able,” he says, “to dispute the genuineness of the letters of Monckton and Cramahe, Lawrence claimed that the Acadians could only have obtained them by fraud, and he decided with his council, always ready to do his bidding, that they should be regarded as prisoners of war and transported as soon as possible to England. He took care not to disclose this resolution in order to keep them securely at the fort, and to have them ready to his hand when ships should arrive to transport them. This precaution was almost superfluous for the Acadians, having exhausted their last resources, were no longer in a state to return to the woods where they would have died of hunger.”

Evidently it was part of the settled policy of Lawrence and his advisers to keep the Acadians out of the province and to people it with English speaking inhabitants, and with this policy General Amherst seems to have been in accord, for he wrote the Governor of Nova Scotia, “The pass you mention the two hundred Inhabitants of St. John’s River to have from Mr. Monckton, was by no means meant or understood to give the French any right to those lands; and you have done perfectly right not to suffer them to continue there, and you will be equally right in sending them, when an opportunity offers, to Europe as Prisoners of War.”

And yet it was very natural that, after the surrender of Quebec, the Acadians should believe that upon accepting the new regime and taking the oath of allegiance to the king of Great Britain they would be treated in the same way as the French Canadians. The Abbe Casgrain says, not without reason, that the Acadians had an even greater right than the Canadians to clemency at the hands of their conquerors as their sufferings were greater: [“Ils y avaient d’autant plus de droit qu’ils avaient plus souffert.”]


The expulsion at so late a period as this of two hundred Acadians from the Valley of the River St. John, where they had vainly hoped to remain in peace, is an incident of some importance. There is an unpublished letter of the Jesuit missionary Germain to the Marquis de Vaudreuil, written at Aukpaque on the River St. John, under date February 26, 1760, which is of some interest in this connection. “I arrived at the River St. John,” writes Father Germain, “on All Saints Day (Nov. 1, 1759), where I unfortunately found all the inhabitants had gone down to the English fort with their families, which made me resolve to go and join them, as I did eight days afterwards, with the intention of accompanying them wherever they might be sent in order to help them—some to die as Christians in the transport ships and others to be of good cheer in the calamity that has befallen them as it did their brethren who are exiles in New England. But by a stroke of Providence, Monsieur Coquart, missionary to the French, arrived, and I desired the commandant to give me leave to retire which he granted together with a passport permitting me to remain at the priests’ house in my mission where I am now.”[46]

Colonel Arbuthnot had reported to Governor Lawrence that the Acadians begged leave to remain upon their lands on their promise to be faithful and true to His Majesty’s Government. To this he made answer that they must come down to the Fort and remain there till he could apply to the Governor to know what should be done; they came down accordingly, and were to remain at the Fort until his excellency’s pleasure should be known. The poor Acadians were represented to be in a starving condition. Their case came before the Governor and Council for consideration on the 30th November, at a meeting held at the Governor’s house in Halifax, and the decision arrived at was this: “The Council are of opinion, and do advise that His Excellency do take the earliest opportunity of hiring vessels for having them immediately transported to Halifax, as Prisoners of War, until they can be sent to England; and that the two Priests be likewise removed out of the Province.” The resolve of the council seems to have been carried into effect. In the month of January, Lawrence sent to the River St. John for the French inhabitants who, to the number of 300, were brought to Halifax until he could send them to England. Colonel Arbuthnot was the agent employed in collecting these unfortunate people and sending them to Halifax, and being a gentleman of a humane disposition he doubtless found his task a most uncongenial one. Among his assistants was Joseph Winniett,[47] a member for Annapolis Royal in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.



Aukpaque, the Village at the Head of the Tide.

On the west bank of the St. John, about six miles above the City of Fredericton, is the site of the old Indian village of Aukpaque. It looks out upon a charming panorama of interval and islands, amidst which the river creeps lazily with many windings. In the background across the river there rises the steep slope of Currie’s Mountain, volcanic in its origin. Weird legends connected with this mountain have been handed down from ancient days, which the Indian guides will sometimes rehearse when they find appreciative listeners.

The surroundings of Aukpaque are indeed very beautiful, and as long ago as 1686 they won the admiration of Monseigneur St. Vallier, who, after describing the extent and varied scenery of the river, its smoothly flowing waters and fertile islands embosomed by the tide, says: “Some fine settlements might be made between Medoctec and Jemseg, especially at a certain place which we have named Sainte Marie, where the river enlarges and the waters are divided by a large number of islands that apparently would be very fertile if cultivated. A mission for the savages would be well placed there; the land has not as yet any owner in particular, neither the King nor the governor having made a grant to any one.”

Evidently there was not at this time any Indian village at Aukpaque, but it is probable the place was occasionally used as a camping ground. In the course of the next half century, however, there grew into existence a village that rivalled and in time eclipsed the more ancient village of Medoctec. Doubtless the presence of the French on the lower St. John, and the establishment of Villebon’s fort, at the mouth of the Nashwaak, served to draw the savages in that direction.

At the time of Monseigneur St. Vallier’s visit they were beginning very generally to embrace Christianity. The Indians and the Acadians were visited occasionally by Claude Moireau, a Recollet missionary, who went up the river as far at least as Fort Jemseg where, in July, 1680, he baptized nine Indian children of ages varying from five months to nineteen years. Their names, with those of their parents and sponsors, are duly recorded in his register. One or two of the entries are here inserted as of historic interest:—

“The year of grace 1680, the 7 July: I have baptized at Jemseg, according to the forms of our Holy Church, Claude, son of Soksim, savage, and of Apolline Kedekouit, Christian, aged 18 years, and named at the font Claude by Claude Petipas, notary royal, and Isabella Petipas, his sponsors.

[Signed] Claude Moireau, Recol.

“The same day baptized Marie, sauvagesse, aged one year, daughter of Tobuk and of Marie Noktomkiache, Christian, and named at the font Marie by Rene Lambert and Catherine Bugaret, her sponsors.

[Signed] Cl. Moireau, Recol.”

Two baptisms in the following year, one at Jemseg and the other at St. John, are of equal interest:—


“At Jemsek, the year of grace 1681, the 25 May, have baptized according to the forms of our Holy Church, Marie Anne Denis, aged 4 months, daughter of Sieur Richard Denis, Esquire, and of Anne Partarabego, sauvagesse, and has been held at the font by damoiselle Marie Chartier, dame de Marson, her godmother, who has named her Marie Anne.

[Signed] Claude Moireau, Recol.

“At Menagoueck, the year of grace 1681, the 2 June, have baptized according to the forms of the Church, Jeanne Guidry, child of Claude Guirdy dit la Verdure and of Keskoua, sauvagesse, who has been held at the font by Claude Petipas and Jeanne de la Tour, wife of Martignon, her sponsors, who have named her Jeanne.

[Signed] Claude Moireau, Recol.

A little later Father Simon of the Recollet order became the missionary of the Indians on the river with headquarters at Medoctec. Some account of his interesting personality and of his zealous labors will be found in a previous chapter. After his death the work among the Indians passed into the hands of the Jesuit missionary, Joseph Aubery, and his successors Jean Baptiste Loyard, Jean P. Danielou and Charles Germain. The whole river was included in the mission and the priest had many journeys to make, but Medoctec, as the principal village, was for years the headquarters of the mission. This was so down to the time of Loyard’s death. His successor, Danielou, ministered to the Indians of Medoctec, also, as is shown by the presence of his name on the slate-stone tablet of the Medoctec chapel. But it is probable that Danielou was frequently at Aukpaque, and he certainly had the spiritual oversight of the Acadians at St. Anne’s Point.

Inscription on Medoctec Stone

The Indians of the River St. John were regarded by the English as the most powerful and warlike tribe of Acadia and the Governor of Nova Scotia endeavored to gain their good-will, and to induce them to adhere to the treaty made with the eastern tribes by the authorities of New England and Nova Scotia in 1725. In the year 1732 Lieut. Governor Armstrong of Nova Scotia sent Paul Mascarene to Boston to treat with Governor Belcher about the erection of a “truck-house” for the Indian trade on the St. John river, and Mascarene was instructed to recommend the lands on the St. John to the people of Massachusetts as a very desirable place of settlement. Belcher expressed the opinion that unless the crown would build a fort at the mouth of the river, the “truck-house” project would fail, but in case of its erection Massachusetts would probably send a sloop with goods to the Indians Spring and Fall. However the idea of an English post at the mouth of the St. John remained in abeyance until the surrender of Beausejour.


So far as known to the author, the first mention of the Indian village of Aukpaque occurs in connection with the census of 1733 which states that fifteen French families reside below the “Village d’Ecoupay.” From this time onward there are frequent references to Aukpaque, some of which are indicated in the foot-note below.[48]

The little colony of fifteen families mentioned in the census of 1733 seems to have settled in the vicinity of St. Anne’s Point a few years previously. It was a typical Acadian hamlet. Its people were of simple habits and wished to live in peace. Naturally they were loyal to their mother country and devout members of their mother church. But France—sunny France—with all her marvellous resources and splendid opportunities, proved an unworthy mother. And what has been the result? A colonial empire shrunken almost to insignificance. And even if her colonial empire were today what it was in the days of Louis XIV, the colonies would be as empty cradles for which there are no children. The progress and development of the Acadians of the maritime provinces and of the French Canadians of the Dominion tell what France might have been if her people had been true to high ideals.

The colony of New France was never supported as it should have been. While New England was making rapid progress and the tide of immigration set strongly in that direction, Canada was left to take care of itself. After the days of Frontenac the governors of Quebec were haunted by the fear of encroachments on their territory on the part of the people to the south. It became their policy to employ the Indians and Acadians as buttresses against the inflowing tide of the Anglo-Saxons. The Acadians would fain have lived in peace but, alas the trend of events left little room for neutrality.

The Maliseets of the St. John were naturally disposed to resent the intrusion of the whites on their hunting grounds, and the French encouraged this sentiment as regards any advance made by the English. In the year 1735, Francis Germaine, “chief of Ockpaque,” with one of his captains came to Annapolis Royal to complain of the conduct of some English surveyors, whom they seem to have regarded as trespassers on their lands. For some reason they missed seeing the governor, but he wrote them a very friendly letter, assuring them of his favor and protection. This, however, did not satisfy the Indians, for a few months afterwards they interfered with the loading of a vessel that had been sent to St. John for limestone by the ordnance 143 storekeeper at Annapolis and robbed the sailors of their clothes and provisions, claiming that the lands and quarries belonged to them. Not long afterwards the Governor of Nova Scotia addressed a letter to “The Reverend Father Danilou, priest of St. John’s River,” complaining that a party of Maliseets under Thoma, their chief, had surprised, Stephen Jones, an English trader, as he lay sleeping aboard his vessel at Piziquid [Windsor, N. S.] and robbed him of goods to the value of £900 and of his book of accounts valued at £700 more, and he hoped the missionary would use his influence to induce the Indians to keep the peace and, if possible, obtain redress for the unfortunate man they had robbed.

Two of the principal Acadians, living at or near St. Ann’s, Mich’l Bergeron and Joseph Bellefontaine, had an interview with Governor Armstrong in 1736, and by request gave him a list of the Acadians then living on the river, numbering in all 77 souls, besides the missionary Jean Pierre Danielou. The governor ordered the Acadians to make their submission to the British government and not to receive any missionary without his approbation. It does not appear, however, that he was on unfriendly terms with Danielou, who came to Annapolis the next year and exercised the functions of his ministry.

Under the care of Danielou’s successor Germain, the Acadians and their savage allies had a chequered experience indeed, but this has been already related in the previous chapters.

At the time of Monckton’s invasion of the river in 1758 most of the Indians abandoned the village of Aukpaque and retired with their missionary, Germain, to Canada, but they returned after the capture of Quebec and some of their chiefs went to Fort Frederick and took the oath of allegiance to the English monarch. Colonel Arbuthnot was directed to encourage them to come to Halifax and make a treaty of peace and such arrangements as were necessary for trade with the English.

During the session of the House of Assembly held at Halifax in the winter of 1759–60, Governor Lawrence urged the House to make provision for the establishment of “truck-houses” for the Indians; he also recommended legislation for the purpose of preventing private trade with them, and the Assembly soon afterwards passed an act for that purpose.

On the 11th of February, Colonel Arbuthnot came to Halifax from Fort Frederick, with two Indian chiefs of the Passamaquoddy tribe, to make peace on the basis of the old Indian Treaty of 1725. Representatives of the St. John river tribe arrived a few days later. The Indians appeared before the Governor and Council with an interpreter. They were received with every courtesy and presented with gold lace blankets, laced hats, etc. It was agreed that the treaty should be prepared in English and French, that the chiefs should be sent back in a vessel to St. John, and that Col. Arbuthnot should accompany them, taking the treaty with him to be ratified. After a fortnight’s deliberation the treaty was signed, on the 23rd February, by Ballomy Glode, chief of the St. John Indians, and Michel Neptune, chief of the Passamaquoddies. The treaty was based on those of 1725 and 1749, with an additional engagement on the part of the Indians not to aid the enemies of the English, to confine their traffic to the truck-house at Fort Frederick 144 and to leave three of each tribe there as hostages to ensure performance of the articles of the treaty.

In order the better to carry out the provisions of this treaty, and of similar treaties made at this time with the different tribes of Acadia, Benjamin Gerrish was appointed Indian commissary. Gerrish agreed to buy goods and sell them to the Indians for furs, he to receive 5 per cent on goods purchased and 2½ per cent on furs sold, and the prices to be so arranged that the Indians could obtain their goods at least 50 per cent cheaper than hitherto.

At their conference with the Governor and his council the Indians agreed upon a tariff of prices[49] for the Indian trade, the unit of value to be one pound of the fur of the spring beaver, commonly known as “one beaver,” equivalent in value to a dollar, or five shillings. Under the tariff the following articles were to be sold to the Indians at the following prices: Large blanket, 2 “beavers”; 2 yards stroud, 3 “beavers”; 14 pounds pork, 1 “beaver”; 30 pounds flour, 1 “beaver”; 2½ gallons molasses, 1 “beaver”; 2 gallons rum, 1 “beaver”; and other articles in proportion.

Furs and skins sold by the Indians at the “truck-house” were to be valued by the same standard: Moose skin, 1½ “beavers”; bear skin, 1⅓ “beavers”; 3 sable skins, 1 “beaver”; 6 mink skins, 1 “beaver”; 10 ermine skins, 1 “beaver”; silver fox skin, 2½ “beavers,” and so on for furs and skins of all descriptions. By substituting the cash value for the value in “beavers,” we shall obtain figures that would amaze the furrier of modern days and prove eminently satisfactory to the purchaser, for example: Bear skin (large and good), $1.35; moose skin (large), $1.50; luciffee (large), $2.00; silver fox, $2.50; black fox, $2.00; red fox, 50cts.; otter, $1.00; mink, 15 cts.; musquash, 10 cts. And yet these prices, ridiculously low as they appear, were considerably better than the Indians Had received from the French traders. It was no doubt on such terms as these that Messrs. Simonds, White and Hazen traded with the Indians after they came to St. John.

Benjamin Gerrish soon afterwards took steps to establish the “truck-house” promised the Indians, and by order in council of July 19, 1760, Captain Doggett was instructed to proceed directly to the River St. John and deliver the stores that Mr. Gerrish had shipped on board his vessel for the truck-master at Fort Frederick.

Colonel Arbuthnot reported that the Indians behaved well and came to the fort to trade. The delegates from the River St. John, who went to Halifax, seem to have acted in accordance with the advice of their missionary Germain, who accepted the logic of events after the fall of Quebec and advised the Indians to submit to their conquerors. The establishment of a “truck-house” at St. John was of advantage to them and the missionary determined to cultivate friendly relations with the English.

Governor Lawrence reported that he had induced the Assembly of Nova Scotia to pass a law, with severe penalties, against private trading with the Indians. The provisions of this act, however, found little favor with the Lords of Trade, by 145 whom it was considered “an improper and unreasonable restraint upon trade.” Their objection found expression in the proclamation of George III., at the Court of St. James, Oct. 7, 1763:—

“We do by the advice of our privy council declare and enjoin that the trade with the said Indians shall be free and open to all our subjects whatever, provided that every person who may incline to trade with the said Indians do take out a license for carrying on such trade from the governor or commander-in-chief of any of our colonies where such person shall reside, and also give security to observe such regulations as we shall at any time think fit to direct or appoint.”

The proclamation required the governor to issue such licenses without fee or reward, the license to be void and the security forfeited if the person to whom it was granted failed to observe the regulations prescribed.

We have now arrived at the period when the first permanent English settlement was to be made on the St. John river, but before proceeding to the consideration of that event a glance at the general situation on the river is necessary. The only foot-hold the English had as yet obtained was at Fort Frederick on the west side of St. John harbor. A considerable number of Acadians still lingered furtively in their hiding places up the river, the majority of them near the Indian village of Aukpaque. For their benefit, as well as that of the savages, the missionary Germain desired to remain at his post. He accordingly made overtures to the Nova Scotia authorities to be allowed to continue his ministrations, promising to use his influence in the interests of peace. To this proposition the Governor and Council cheerfully assented, promising the missionary a stipend of £50. A year or two afterwards he wrote acknowledging the receipt of his salary and stating it was his desire to inspire the Indians with the respect due to the government. He complained of their irregularities and says that in spite of his efforts to promote harmony he feared “they will shortly pay no regard to what he says.”

In Kidder’s “Military operations in Eastern Maine and Nova Scotia during the Revolution,” the statement is made that Aukpaque signifies a beautiful expanding of the river occasioned by numerous islands, but, while this is perfectly correct as descriptive of the locality, it is more probable that Aukpaque—or its Indian equivalent Ek-pa-hawk—means “the head of the tide,” or beginning of swift water. Kidder speaks of the site of Aukpaque as “almost unknown and difficult to locate.” Commenting on this statement, the late Sir John C. Allen (whose grandfather, Colonel Isaac Allen, purchased of the Indians the site of the village of Aukpaque), makes the following remark:—

“It is an error to suppose that there is any difficulty in locating Aukpaque. It is laid down, under the name Opack, on a plan in the Crown Lands office in Fredericton of a survey of land in the old Township of Sunbury while this province formed a part of Nova Scotia. In addition to this there are several persons living who can point out the place that was used as the Indian burial ground and who remember that a large piece of cleared land adjacent to it and separated from it by a deep ravine, being a part of the tract of land reserved for the Indians, was formerly known as the ‘Chapel Field’—no doubt from the fact that the chapel of the Indian settlement had stood upon it. There is also further evidence in the plan of the survey of the lands in the Parish of Kingsclear, the grant of which issued in 1799, upon which a cross is marked on this lot of land, which is 146 well known to indicate the site of a church or chapel. There is very little doubt that at the time of the survey the chapel, or the remains of it, were standing, as the Indians had been in occupation of the land till within a few years of that time.”

We may add that the claim of the Indians to the lands in the vicinity of their village was early recognized by the Government of Nova Scotia, and when the first grant of a large tract of the surrounding country was made in 1765 to Thomas Falconer and sixty-six other land speculators, there was expressly reserved for the Indians “500 acres, including a church and burying ground at Aughpack, and four acres for a burying ground at St. Ann’s point, and the island called Indian (or Savage) Island.” This island is probably that mentioned in 1753 by the Abbe de L’Isle Dieu as “l’isle d’Ecouba,” the residence of the missionary Charles Germain.

The situation of Aukpaque is shown in the accompanying sketch:—


Although the Indians were ostensibly at peace with the English they viewed them with suspicion, and were jealous of any infringement of their aboriginal rights. After the erection of Fort Frederick they seem, for the most part, to have abandoned the lower part of the river, and Charles Morris tells us that about the year 1760 they burned much of the timber along the Long Reach and on both sides of the Washademoak and probably at other places.

When the exploring party of the Maugerville colony arrived at St. Anne’s point in 1762 and were about to begin their survey, a large party of Indians came down from their priest’s residence, with his interpreter, their faces painted in divers colors and figures, and dressed in their war habits. The chiefs informed the adventurers that they were trespassers on their rights, that the country belonged to them, and unless they retired immediately they would compel them.

The chiefs claimed that they had some time before had a conference with Governor Lawrence and had consented that the English should settle the country up as far as Grimross. The surveyors promised to remove their camp towards Grimross. This answer did not appear to fully satisfy the Indians, but they made no reply. The settlement of the New England people, in consequence of the attitude of the Indians, did not embrace St. Anne’s Point as originally intended.


Plans of the River St. John were made by the Hon. Charles Morris, surveyor general of Nova Scotia, as early as the year 1761. A little later he wrote an interesting description of the river. He describes “Aughpack” as about seven miles from St. Anne’s, and says the Acadians had settlements upon the uplands between the two places but drew their subsistence from the cultivation of the intervals and islands. At Aukpaque was the Indian church and the residence of the French missionary. Their church and buildings adjoining had been demolished by the Indians themselves. The island opposite Aukpaque, called Indian Island, was the place where the Indians of the river made their annual rendezvous.

“On this island,” adds Mr. Morris, “is their town, consisting of forty mean houses, or wigwams, built with slender poles and covered with bark. In the centre of the town is the grand council chamber constructed after the same manner as the other houses.”

The reason for the destruction by the Indians of their church we need not go far to seek. In the summer of the year 1763 three chiefs came to Halifax to inquire why Father Germain had been removed from his post. They were told that he had gone of his own accord to Quebec and had been detained there by General Murray, and that the government of Nova Scotia were not responsible for it. They then desired Lieutenant Governor Belcher to provide them with another priest, which he promised to do. The Indians were satisfied and departed with their usual presents. The intention of the lieutenant governor was frustrated by an order from the Lords of Trade forbidding the employment of a French missionary. Governor Wilmot regretted this action as likely to confirm the Indians in their notion of the English as “a people of dissimulation and artifice who will deceive and deprive them of their salvation.” He thought it better to use the Indians generously and mentions the fact of their having lately burned their church, by direction of the priest detained at Quebec, as a proof of their devotion to their religious guides.

The site of the old church at Aukpaque was in all probability the old “chapel field” mentioned by Sir John C. Allen. Hard by, on the other side of a little ravine, is the old burial ground of the Acadians and Indians. One of the descendants of the Acadians, who visited the spot a few years ago, writes mournfully of this little cemetery:

“Not a stone, not a cross, not even an enclosure to divide it from other fields; here in this corner of the world, remote and almost unknown, repose the ashes of some of our ancestors, the first cultivators of the soil of Madawaska. Freed from all the troubles and vicissitudes of the past they hear only the gentle, harmonious murmur of the waters of La Riviere St. Jean, the river they loved so well even in the days of their misfortune.”



The First English Settlers.

The erection of Fort Frederick, in the autumn of 1758, gave the English a permanent foothold on the River St. John, which possibly was rendered a little more secure by the destruction of the Acadian settlements at Grimross and St. Annes, and the subsequent removal by Colonel Arbuthnot of a large number of the French inhabitants.

Shortly after the Acadian expulsion, the Lords of Trade and Plantations urged Governor Lawrence to re-people the lands vacated by the French with settlers from New England. The idea was quite in accord with the governor’s own mind, but he was obliged to defer it for a season. In the existing state of affairs he could not spare the troops necessary to defend new settlements, and nothing was practicable until the country should be possessed in peace. However, very shortly after Monckton’s occupation of the St. John River Lawrence issued the first of his celebrated proclamations, offering favorable terms to any industrious settlers from New England, who would remove to Nova Scotia and cultivate the lands vacated by the French, or other ungranted lands. The proclamation stated that proposals on behalf of intending settlers would be received by Thomas Hancock at Boston, and by Mesrs. De Lancey and Watts at New York, and by them transmitted to the Governor of Nova Scotia.

This proclamation had the effect of directing attention to the River St. John. Young and adventurous spirits soon came to the fore anxious to be the pioneers of civilization in the wilds of Nova Scotia. But first they wished to know: What terms of encouragement would be offered? How much land each person would get? What quit-rents and taxes would be required? What constitution of government prevailed, and what freedom in religion?

In answer to their inquiries a second proclamation was issued, in which it was declared that townships were to consist of 100,000 acres (about 12 miles square) and were to include the best lands, and rivers in their vicinity. The government was described as similar to that of the neighboring colonies, the legislature consisting of a governor, council and assembly and every township, so soon as it should consist of fifty families, would be entitled to send two representatives to the assembly. The courts of justice were similar to those of Massachusetts, Connecticut and the other northern colonies, and full liberty of conscience was secured to persons of all persuasions, “papists” excepted, by the royal instructions and a late act of the Assembly. As yet no taxes had been imposed or fees exacted on grants. Forts garrisoned with troops were established in the neighborhood of the lands it was proposed to settle.

The Lords of Trade approved of Governor Lawrence’s proceedings in settling the province, and at the same time desired that land should be reserved “as a reward and provision for such officers and soldiers as might be disbanded in America upon a peace.” This led the governor to desist from making further grants of the cleared lands to ordinary settlers. He did not, however, anticipate much benefit 149 to the province in consequence of the attempt to people it with disbanded British soldiers, and he wrote to the Lords of Trade:

“According to my ideas of the military, which I offer with all possible deference and submission, they are the least qualified, from their occupation as soldiers, of any men living to establish new countries, where they must encounter difficulties with which they are altogether unacquainted; and I am the rather convinced of it, as every soldier that has come into this province since the establishment of Halifax, has either quitted it or become a dramseller.”

Soon after the treaty of Paris, a proclamation of George III. (dated at the Court of St. James, Oct. 7, 1763) signified the royal sense and approbation of the conduct of the officers and soldiers of the army, and directed the governors of the several provinces to grant, without fee or reward, to disbanded officers and soldiers who had served in North America during the late war and were actually residing there, lands in the following proportions:—

To every field officer, 5,000 acres.

To every captain, 3,000 acres.

To every subaltern or staff officer, 2,000 acres.

To every non-commissioned officer, 200 acres.

To every private man, 50 acres.

Like grants of land were to be made to retired officers of the navy who had served on board a ship of war at the reduction of Louisbourg and Quebec.

Petitions and memorials of retired officers of the army and navy who were desirous of obtaining lands in Nova Scotia as a reward for their services, now flowed in upon the provincial and imperial authorities. The desire to obtain land on the River St. John became so general that government officials, merchants and professional men joined in the general scramble. The result was not only detrimental to the best interests of the country, but in many cases disastrous to the speculators themselves.

The ideas of some of the memorialists were by no means small. For example, in 1762, Sir Allan McLean applied for 200,000 acres on the River St. John to enable him to plant a colony; and in the same year Captains Alexander Hay,[50] John Sinclair, Hugh Debbeig,[51] Alex. Baillie, Robert G. Bruce and J. F. W. DesBarres applied for another immense tract on behalf of themselves and 54 other officers.

War with the French and Indians had been so constant previous to the peace of 1763, that a large proportion of the young men of New England had seen service in the “provincial regiments.” To those who had held commissions the inducements contained in Lawrence’s proclamations were especially attractive.

Among the retired officers of the Massachusetts regiments, who became interested in the River St. John at this time were Francis Peabody, William Hazen, James White, James Simonds, Nicholas West and Israel Perley. Captain Francis 150 Peabody was somewhat older than the others; he had served with distinction in the late war, and is mentioned in Parkman’s “Wolfe and Montcalm” [p. 428]. From the active part he took in settling the township of Maugerville, as well as from his age and character, he must be regarded as the most prominent and influential person on the St. John river while he lived. He died in the year 1773. Three of his daughters married respectively James Simonds, James White and Jonathan Leavitt.

A few years ago the writer of this history had the good fortune to find, in an old rubbish heap, a letter of James Simonds detailing the circumstances under which he came to take up his residence at St. John.

“In the years 1759 and 1760,” he says, “proclamations were published through the colonies which promised all the lands and possessions of the Acadians, who had been removed, or any other lands lying within the Province of Nova Scotia, to such as would become settlers there. In consequence of these proclamations I went through the greater part of Nova Scotia, in time of war, at great expense and at the risk of my life, in search of the best lands and situations, and having at length determined to settle at the River St. John, obtained a promise from Government of a large tract of land for myself and brother Richard, who was with me in several of my tours.”

The attention of Mr. Simonds may have been particularly called to St. John by the fact that his cousin, Captain Moses Hazen, commanded the garrison at Fort Frederick in 1759. It may be noted, in passing, that this post was occupied for the first two years after it was rebuilt by Monckton, by the Massachusetts troops. They were relieved by a company from one of the Highland regiments. In 1762 the post was garrisoned by a detachment of the 40th regiment of foot under Lieutenant Gilfred Studholme. The fort afterwards continued to be garrisoned by a company of British regulars under different commanders until 1768, when the troops were withdrawn and the fort remained for several years under the nominal care of Messrs. Simonds and White.

About the time James Simonds decided to settle at St. John, the harbor was carefully surveyed by Lieut. R. G. Bruce of the engineers, whose plan is reproduced in the accompanying illustration. A glance will suffice to show that the rocky peninsular on the eastern side of the harbor, where the business part of the city stands today, was at that time uninhabited. The military post at Fort Frederick imparted a little life to the immediate surroundings but on the other side of the harbor everything remained in its virgin state, except at Portland Point, where there was a small clearing and the ruins of a feeble old French Fort. The few Acadians who once lingered there had fled before the English invaders, and only when some wandering savage pitched his wigwam on the shores of “Men-ah-quesk,” as he called it, was there any tenant save the fox, the bear or other wild forest creature. The rocky peninsular of east St. John with its crags and swamps was considered of so little value that it remained ungranted up to the time of the landing of the Loyalists. In the words of James Simonds it was “the worst of lands, if bogs, morasses and rocks may be called lands.”


PLAN OF THE HARBOUR OF ST. JOHN IN NOVA SCOTIA, Surveyed & Sounded in September 1761 BY R.G. BRUCE ENGR. Scale 300 yds to an inch


The circumstances under which James Simonds made choice of the Harbor of St. John, as the most promising place for an extensive trade, are detailed at some length in his evidence in the famous chancery suit which arose about the year 1791 in connection with the division of the lands of Hazen, Simonds and White, and occupied the attention of the courts for more than twenty years. It is chiefly from this source we learn the particulars that follow.

James Simonds was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in the year 1735. After the death of his father, Nathan Simonds, and the settlement of his estate, finding the property falling to him to be inconsiderable, he set out in company with his younger brother Richard to seek his fortune. In the course of the years 1759 to 1762, different parts of the old province of Nova Scotia were visited, including the River St. John, with a view of ascertaining the most advantageous situation for the fur trade, fishery and other business. Finding that the mouth of the St. John river was an admirable situation for trade with the Indians, that the fishery in the vicinity was excellent, and that there was a large tract of marsh land, and lands that afforded great quantities of lime-stone adjacent to the Harbor of St. John, Mr. Simonds eventually gave the preference to those lands on account of their situation and the privileges attached to them, and having previously obtained a promise from Government of a grant of 5,000 acres in such part of the province as he might choose he with his brother Richard took possession. In the month of May, 1762, they burnt over the large marsh (east of the present city) and in the ensuing summer cut there a quantity of wild hay. It was their intention immediately to begin stock raising, but they were disappointed in obtaining a vessel to bring from Massachusetts the cattle they expected. They accordingly sold or made a present of the hay to Captain Francis Peabody, who had recently come to St. John and built himself a house at Portland Point. This house is said to have had an oak frame, which was brought from Newburyport. In 1765 it became the property of James Simonds (Captain Peabody having moved up the river to Maugerville) and later it was owned by James White. It was not an elaborate or expensive building[52] but it had the honor of being the first home of an English speaking family on the St. John river.

The situation of the new-comers at Portland Point would have been very insecure had it not been for the protection afforded by Fort Frederick across the harbor. The Indians had not yet become accustomed to the idea of British supremacy. Their natural allegiance—even after the downfall of Quebec—was to “their old father the King of France.” Their prejudice against the English had been nurtured for generations and embittered by ruthless warfare, and we need not wonder that the coming of the first English settlers was viewed with a jealous eye. Even the proximity of the garrison at Fort Frederick did not prevent the situation of James Simonds and his associates from being very precarious, when the attitude of the Indians was unfriendly. Richard Simonds, who died January 20, 1765, lost his life in the defence of the property of the trading company when the savages were about to carry it off.


While the brothers Simonds were endeavoring to establish themselves at St. John, a settlement upon a more extensive scale was being projected by a number of people in the County of Essex in Massachusetts. An advertisement appeared in the “Boston Gazette and News-Letter” of September 20, 1762, notifying all of the signers under Captain Francis Peabody for a township at St. John’s River in Nova Scotia, to meet at the house of Daniel Ingalls, inn-holder in Andover, on Wednesday, the 6th day of October at 10 o’clock a. m., in order to draw their lots, which were already laid out, and to choose an agent to go to Halifax on their behalf and to attend to any matters that should be thought proper. The advertisement continues: “And whereas it was voted at the meeting on April 6th, 1762, that each signer should pay by April 20th, twelve shillings for laying out their land and six shillings for building a mill thereon, and some signers have neglected payment, they must pay the amount at the next meeting or be excluded and others admitted in their place.”

The agent chosen at this meeting was Captain Francis Peabody.[53]

According to the late Moses H. Perley, whose well known and popular lectures on New Brunswick history were delivered at the Mechanics Institute in 1841, the government of Massachusetts sent a small party to explore the country east of Machias in 1761. “The leader of that party,” says Mr. Perley, “was Israel Perley, my grandfather, who was accompanied by 12 men in the pay of Massachusetts. They proceeded to Machias by water, and there shouldering their knapsacks, they took a course through the woods, and succeeded in reaching the head waters of the River Oromocto, which they descended to the St. John. They found the country a wide waste, and no obstacles, save what might be afforded by the Indians, to its being at once occupied and settled, and with this report they returned to Boston.”

The result of this report is seen in the organization of a company of would be settlers shortly afterwards.

There is in the possession of the Perley family at Fredericton an old document that contains a brief account of the subsequent proceedings:—

“In the year 1761 a number of Provincial officers and soldiers in New England who had served in several campaigns during the then French war agreed to form a settlement on St. John’s River in Nova Scotia, for which purpose they sent one of their number to Halifax, who obtained an order of survey for laying out a Township in mile squares on any part of St. John’s River (the whole being then a desolate wilderness). This Township called Maugerville was laid out in the year 1762, and a number of settlers entered into it, encouraged by the King’s proclamation for settling the lands in Nova Scotia, in which, among other things, was this clause, that people emigrating from the New England Provinces to Nova Scotia should enjoy the same religious privileges as in New England. And in the above-mentioned order of survey was the following words—viz., ‘You shall reserve four Lots in the Township for Publick use, one as a Glebe for the Church of England, 154 one for the Dissenting Protestants, one for the maintenance of a School, and one for the first settled minister in the place.’

“These orders were strictly comply’d with, but finding difficulty in obtaining a Grant of this Township from the government of Nova Scotia on account of an order from England that those lands should be reserved for disbanded forces, the settlers did in the year 1763 draw up and forward a Petition or memorial to the Lords of Trade and Plantations.”...

In this memorial were set forth the services that Captain Peabody and his associates had rendered to their country in the late war, the expenses they had incurred and the inducements offered by the government of Nova Scotia to them to settle on the lands they had surveyed. The memorial was signed by Francis Peabody, John Carleton, Jacob Barker, Nicholas West and Israel Perley on behalf of themselves and other disbanded officers. This memorial was submitted by Mr. Peabody to the Governor and Council at Halifax, who cordially approved of the contents and forwarded it to Joshua Mauger,[54] the agent for the Province in London, expressing their opinion that the officers and disbanded soldiers from New England, settled on the reserved lands on the St. John River, ought not to be removed. They would be of great use and their removal would cause their total ruin. The settlers earnestly solicited the influence of the agent in England to obtain a speedy answer to their memorial. He took the liveliest interest in their cause and largely through his efforts the Lords of Trade on the 20th December, 1763, recommended that the memorial of the disbanded officers of the Provincial forces be granted, and that they be confirmed in possession of the lands on which they have settled on the St. John River. The matter was finally settled in the Court of St. James, the 10th day of February, 1764, by the adoption of the following resolve on the part of King George the III. and his Council:

“Whereas the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations have represented to His Majesty that a memorial has been presented to him on behalf of several disbanded officers of His Majesty’s provincial forces in North America, setting forth that induced by several encouragements they have sold their lands in New England and settled themselves and families upon the St. John River in His Majesty’s province of Nova Scotia at the distance of 200 miles from any other settlement and praying that the possession of the lands upon which they have settled themselves at a very great expense may be confirmed to them by His Majesty: The Governor of Nova Scotia is ordered to cause the land upon which they are settled to be laid out in a Township consisting of 100,000 acres, 12 miles square, one side to front on the river. Also to reserve a site for a town with a sufficient number of lots, with reservations for a church, town-house, public quays and wharves and other public uses; the grants to be made in proportion to their ability and the number of persons in their families, but not to exceed 1,000 acres to one person. That a competent quantity of land be allotted for the 155 maintenance of a minister and school-master and also one town lot to each of them in perpetuity.”

For months the settlers of Maugerville remained in a state of suspense and in much anxiety as to the fate of their memorial. They were naturally greatly relieved when the order of the King in Council arrived confirming them in possession of the lands they had settled. The kindness and generosity of Joshua Mauger, who bore the expense of their appeal and exerted himself in their behalf, were fully appreciated, and as a tribute of respect and gratitude to their patron the settlers gave to their township the name of “Maugerville.”

The Township of Maugerville was laid out early in the year 1762 by a party under Israel Perley their land surveyor. In the survey Richard Simonds acted as chain bearer and James Simonds, who was one of the patentees of the township, also assisted, receiving the sum of £40 for his services.

The first published account of the founding of the Maugerville settlement is that of Peter Fisher,[55] printed by Chubb & Sears at St. John in 1825, and a very readable account it is as the extracts that follow will show.

Signature Peter Fisher

Under the title “A narrative of the proceedings of the first settlers at the River St. John, under the authority of the Government of Nova Scotia,” Mr. Fisher tells us that “In the year 1761, a number of persons from the County of Essex, province of Massachusetts, presented a petition through their agent (Francis Peabody), to the Government of Nova Scotia, for the grant of a township twelve miles square at the River Saint John; they received a favorable answer and obtained full authority to survey a tract of that dimension, wherever it might be found fit for improvement. In consequence many of the applicants proceeded in the course of the winter and spring following to prepare for exploring the country and to survey their township; they provided a vessel for that purpose and on the 16th May, 1762, embarked at Newburyport and arrived in three days at the harbor of Saint John. * * * *

“The exploring and surveying party proceeded to view the lands, round the harbor and bay of Saint John in a whale boat they brought with them, for they could not travel on the land on account of the multitude of fallen trees that had been torn up by the roots in a violent gale of wind nearly four years previous.[56] The same gale extended as far up the river as the Oromocto, and most of the country below that place was equally incumbered with the fallen trees.

“After making all the discoveries that could be made near the harbor, it was the unanimous opinion that all the lands near that part of the country were unfit 156 for their purpose and in about ten days from their first arrival they set out to view the country as far as Saint Anne, ninety miles up the river, where they expected to find an extensive body of cleared land that had been formerly improved by the French inhabitants. On their way they landed wherever they saw any appearance of improvement. All such spots as far up as Mill Creek[57] were supposed not to exceed one hundred acres, most of which had been very roughly cleared.

“On the arrival of the exploring party at St. Anns, they lost no time in making a shelter for themselves nearly opposite the river Nashwaak ... and they commenced their survey at the small gravelly point near Government House, with the intention of surveying a township to terminate twelve miles below that place, but after surveying the courses of the river about four miles downward, a large company of Indians, came down about nine miles, from their Priest’s residence with his Interpreter, all having painted faces of divers colours and figures and dressed in their war habits. The chiefs, with grave countenances, informed the adventurers that they were trespassers on their rights; that the country belonged to them and unless they retired immediately they would compel them.”

“The reply made to the chiefs was to this effect: that the adventurers had received authority from the Governor of Halifax to survey and settle any land they should choose at the River Saint John; that they had never been informed of the Indians claiming the village of Saint Anne, but as they declared the land there to be their property (though it had been inhabited by the French, who were considered entitled to it, till its capture by the English) they would retire further down the river.

* * * The surveying party removed their camp, according to their promise, almost as far down as the lower end of Oromocto Island on the east side of the river, whence they finished their survey twelve miles below the first mentioned bounds and returned to Fort Frederick.”

The circumstances that led to delay in procuring the grant from government have already been mentioned in this chapter.

There can be no doubt that Mr. Fisher’s statement—corroborated by Moses H. Perley—that the township was laid out in lots in the earlier part of 1762 is correct, for on Sept. 2nd a meeting of the intending settlers was advertised to be held for the purpose of drawing the lots which were described as “already laid out.” But the statement of Mr. Fisher (in which he is again followed by Moses H. Perley) that one or two families from Newburyport accompanied the surveying party in the month of May, and brought with them the frame of a small dwelling house and boards to cover it, together with a small stock of cattle, and that on the third day after their arrival the house was finished and inhabited—is probably a misapprehension resulting from the confounding of incidents, which occurred in the course of the same year but were separated by an interval of several months. At any rate the late John Quinton, who was born in 1807, states most emphatically in a letter to Joseph W. Lawrence that it was not until the 28th day of August that his grand-parents, Hugh and Elizabeth Quinton, Capt. Francis Peabody and family, James Simonds and others came to reside at the River St. John. He says that accomodation 157 was provided for Quinton and his wife, Miss Hannah Peabody and others in the barracks at Fort Frederick, where on the very night of their arrival was born James Quinton, the first child of English speaking parents, whose birth is recorded at St. John.[58] The remainder of the party encamped on the east side of the harbor at the site of an old French Fort, the place since known as Portland Point, or Simonds’ Point, where they erected a dwelling into which the Quintons and others in Carleton soon afterwards removed. Hannah Peabody was at this time about twelve years old: she afterwards became the wife of James Simonds.



Progress of the Maugerville Settlement.

The township of Maugerville, as described in the grant of October 31, 1765, began “at a Pine Tree on a point of land a little below the Island called Mauger’s Island,” extending 12½ miles up the river with a depth of nearly 11 miles. It embraced the principal part of the parishes of Maugerville and Sheffield, including Oromocto Island and “the Island lying off Wind-mill Point called Middle Island.” In the grant the “Rights” or “Shares” were fixed at 500 acres but the surveyor-general of Nova Scotia, Charles Morris, had intended that the grantees should have 1,000 acres each on account of their being the first adventurers and also on account of the large proportion of sunken lands and lakes within the limits of the township.

At the time the Maugerville grant was made out the obnoxious Stamp Act was about coming into force in America and the Crown Land Office at Halifax was besieged with people pressing for their grants in order to save the stamp duties. In the hurry and confusion existing Mr. Morris says that the shares of the township were inadvertently fixed at 500 acres each, whereas it had been his intention to lay out one hundred farm lots, each forty rods wide and extending one mile deep into the country, and to give each grantee the balance of his 1,000 acres in the subsequent division of the rest of the township. It is quite likely the Maugerville settlers were glad to accept the smaller shares allotted them in view of the fact that they had been so near losing the whole by the decision of the British government to reserve the lands for the disbanded regulars of the army.

By the terms of the grant it was provided that all persons who failed to settle on their lots, with proper stock and materials for the improvement of their lands, before the last day of November, 1767, should forfeit all claim to the lands allotted them. The township was supposed to consist of 200 shares but only 61 shares were included in the grant of 1765. At least two other grants were passed prior to the coming of the Loyalists—one in 1770, the other early in 1783; but there were still some vacant lots which were gladly taken up by these unfortunate exiles. For their accomodation also a grant was made Dec. 22, 1786, of the rear of the township and such men as Samuel Ryerson, Justus Earle, Joseph Ryerson, Wm. Van Allen, Abraham Van Buskirk, Samuel Tilley and Lodewick Fisher[59] were among the grantees.


Nearly all the original settlers in the township of Maugerville were from Massachusetts, the majority from the single county of Essex. Thus the Burpees were from Rowley, the Perleys from Boxford, the Esteys from Newburyport, while other families were from Haverhill, Ipswich, Gloucester, Salem and other towns of this ancient county which antedates all others in Massachusetts but Plymouth. These settlers were almost exclusively of Puritan stock and members of the Congregationalist churches of New England.

The list of the grantees of the Township of Maugerville, alphabetically arranged, includes the following names:—

The majority of the surnames in the above list will seem wonderfully familiar to the residents of the St. John river counties where their descendants today form a large and influential element in the community.

In his lecture on New Brunswick history delivered in 1840, Moses H. Perley says that in the year 1763 the Maugerville township was settled by 200 families, comprising about 800 persons, who came from Massachusetts in four vessels. There cannot be the slightest doubt that Mr. Perley has greatly over-estimated the number of the original settlers. We have every reason to believe that the population of the township continued steadily to increase and about two years later (Dec. 16, 1766), a census was submitted to the government of Nova Scotia by Lieut. Governor Francklin showing that there were then living at Maugerville 77 men, 46 women, 72 boys and 66 girls, a total of 261 souls; and it may be added that during the year 17 new settlers had arrived and 14 children were born, while the number of deaths was but 3. That the new settlers were anxious to fulfil the conditions of their grants is shown by the fact that they already possessed 10 horses, 78 oxen and bulls, 145 sows, 156 young cattle, 376 sheep and 181 swine. Their crop for the year included: Wheat 599 bushels, Rye 1,866 do., Beans 145 do., Oats 57 do., Pease 91 do., Flaxseed 7 do. A grist and saw-mill had been built and two sloops were 160 owned by the settlers. Some attempt had also been made at raising flax and hemp.

The settlement at Maugerville was visited by Hon. Charles Morris, the surveyor general of Nova Scotia, in 1767, and it is not improbable the census taken by order of Lieut. Governor Franklin was made under his supervision. Mr. Morris was evidently much surprised at the progress the settlers had made, for in a letter of the 25th January, 1768, he says:—

“Opposite to Oromocto River, upon the northerly side of the River St. John’s, is the English settlement of disbanded soldiers from New England, consisting of about eighty families, who have made great Improvements, and are like to make an established Settlement there. And by some tryals they have made of hemp upon the intervale it succeeded beyond their expectation. I measured myself Hemp that was nine feet high, that had not come to its full growth in the latter end of July. They generally have about twenty bushels of Maze and about twenty bushels of Wheat from an acre of land, that was only cleared of its woods and harrowed without ever having a Plow in it. When I was on the River last year, I saw myself eighty bushes of Indian Corn raised from one acre of land that had been ploughed and properly managed. I would observe that the Corn raised on this River is not the same kind as the Corn in New England; neither the climate or soil would be suitable to it; they get their seed from Canada and they sow it in rows about three feet distant as we do Pease in our gardens; it takes about a bushel to sow an acre; the ears grow close to the ground as thick as they can stick one by another, pointing outwards like a Cheveaux de Frise upon each side of the rows; the richness of the soil, the manner of sowing it and of its growing, may account very easily for its producing so much to the acre. Some of the old French Inhabitants of the River have informed me that they have raised, in a seasonable year, near one hundred bushels of Indian Corn per acre.”

The alluvial character of the soil of Maugerville, its freedom from stone and from dense forest growth, no doubt attracted the first English settlers and decided the choice of their location, just as the same features attracted the brothers d’Amours and others of the French nearly a century before. The French, too, recorded as the principal drawback of the location, the losses and annoyances consequent upon the inundation of their fields and premises by the spring freshets.[60] A short experience convinced the English settlers that the complaints of their predecessors were well founded.

As Maugerville divides with Portland Point the honor of being the first permanent English settlement at the River St. John, it is proper to describe in some fulness of detail the movements of its founders. They were a sturdy and adventurous race. The great majority had seen active service in the “old French war”—some of them had fought under Wolfe at the taking of Quebec. The Indian war-cry was a sound not unfamiliar to their ears, and so their interview with the savages of Aukpaque, upon their arrival, taught them the dangers of their situation. 161 It really required more hardihood to plunge into the wilderness than to settle under the protection of Fort Frederick at the river’s mouth.

The proximity of the Indian town of Aukpaque; a few miles above, probably induced the majority of the Maugerville people to settle in the lower part of the township. At any rate for some years no one resided farther up the river than lot No. 57, about five miles below the Nashwaak, where lived the Widow Clark, a resolute old dame whom nothing could dismay.

It is interesting to note that Simonds and White contemplated at one time the erection of a Truck-house at Maugerville for their Indian trade, and a frame was prepared for the building, but before it was raised some difficulties arose between the Indians and the Whites and the matter was deferred for a year or two. The frame was then sent up the river in the sloop “Bachelor” and landed on lot No. 66, belonging to Mr. Simonds, “near the then upper settlement of Maugerville.” This was the only place available as none of the settlers desired to have the Truck-house near them. However the carpenters found the frame so warped as not to be worth setting up and the project was abandoned.

The first band of settlers came to Maugerville in 1763, probably in small vessels hired for the occasion. From time to time the colony received additions from New England. The later comers usually took their passage in some of the vessels owned by Messrs. Hazen, Simonds and White, which furnished the readiest means of communication. There are many interesting items in the account books[61] kept by Simonds and White at their store at Portland Point in connection with the Maugerville settlers. For example Captain Francis Peabody is charged with the following items, under date January 15, 1765:—

“To passage in schooner of 4 Passengers from New England at 12s. 2 8 0
Freight of 9 Heiffers at 12s. 5 8 0
Club of Cyder for 5 men at 13s. 6d. each 3 7 6
5 Tons of Hay for cattle on passage 10 0 0
Freight of sheep 3 6 0

In the same schooner there came Jacob Barker, jun., Oliver Perley, Zebulon Estey, Humphrey Pickard and David Burbank, each of whom paid twelve shillings passage money from Newburyport to St. John and 13s. 6d. for “his club of Cyder” on the voyage. David Burbank brought with him a set of Mill irons, which is suggestive of enterprise, but his stay appears to have been but brief, for on the 20th April, 1767, he sold his land (about five miles below the Nashwaak) to William Brawn, the son of an original grantee of the township, and the deed was acknowledged before John Anderson, Justice of the Peace at Moncton[62] the 29th of April.


The upper boundary of the Township of Maugerville now forms a part of the dividing line between the Counties of York and Sunbury. The lower boundary of the township began near the foot of Maugers’ Island, about two miles above the Queens-Sunbury county line. Middle Island, which occupies a middle position between Oromocto Island above and Mauger’s (or Gilbert’s) Island below, was in a sense the centre of the township, and it must not be forgotten by the reader that what was in early days the principal section of the Township of Maugerville is now the Parish of Sheffield. The lots are numbered beginning at Middle Island and running down the river to No. 39, then starting again at the upper end of the grant, at the York county line, and running down the river to Middle Island, so that the last lot, No. 100, adjoins the first lot. The oldest plan of the township in the Crown Land office shows the state of settlement at a date subsequent to that of the original grant, and during the interval a good many changes had occurred. The early grantees were about eighty in number.

Reference to the accompanying plan of the river will show the locations of the early settlers of Maugerville; they will be mentioned in order ascending the river.

The lower ten lots of the township and Mauger’s Island were granted to Joshua Mauger. Just above were the lots of Gervas Say, Nehemiah Hayward, John Russell, Samuel Upton, Zebulon Estey, John Estey, Richard Estey and Edward Coy.

At the head of Mauger’s Island were the lots of Matthew Wason, Samuel Whitney and Samuel Tapley.

Between Mauger’s Island and Middle Island the lots were those of Jeremiah Burpee, Jonathan Burpee, Jacob Barker, Daniel Jewett, Ezekiel Saunders, Humphrey Pickard, Moses Pickard, Jacob Barker, jr., Isaac Stickney and Jonathan Smith.

Opposite Middle Island, in order ascending, were Thomas Barker, John Wason, Daniel Palmer, Richard Kimball, Joseph Garrison, Samuel Nevers, Peter Mooers, Richard Estey, jr., Jabez Nevers, Enoch Dow and Hugh Quinton.

Between Middle and Oromocto islands were Thomas Christie, Elisha Nevers, Jedediah Stickney, Stephen Peabody, Capt. Francis Peabody and William McKeen.

Opposite Oromocto Island were Israel Perley (at the foot of the island), Lt.-Col. Beamsley P. Glasier, John Whipple, Nathaniel Rideout, Capt. Francis Peabody, Alexander Tapley, Phineas Nevers, Joseph Dunphy, William Harris, Ammi Howlet, Samuel Peabody and Oliver Peabody.

Above Oromocto Island we find the lots of Asa Perley, Oliver Perley, George Munro, James Simonds, Joseph Buber, Joseph Shaw, Benjamin Brawn, Daniel Burbank, Thomas Hartt and the Widow Clark. Thence to the upper boundary of the township, a distance of two miles, there were at first no settlers, but in the course of time Richard Barlow, Nehemiah Beckwith, Benjamin Atherton, Jeremiah Howland and others took up lots.


The names of the majority of the Maugerville grantees appear in the account books kept by Simonds and White at their store at Portland Point and a lot 163 164 of interesting family history might be gleaned from the old faded pages. There are other items of interest in the records of the old County of Sunbury.

In nearly all the early settlements made on the River St. John some encouragement was offered for the erection of a mill, and when the signers under Captain Francis Peabody met at Andover in April, 1762, previous to their leaving Massachusetts, it was agreed that each signer should pay six shillings towards erecting a mill in their township. The streams in Maugerville are so inconsiderable that it may be presumed some difficulty would arise on this head. This is confirmed by the fact that in the grant of 1763 the point of land opposite Middle Island is called “Wind-mill Point.” However an old deed shows that Richard Estey, jr., had on his lot No. 100 (opposite Middle Island) a mill built on what is called Numeheal creek, of which the first owners were Mr. Estey and his neighbor, Thomas Barker. This mill was sold in 1779 to James Woodman and was employed in sawing boards and other lumber for the Loyalists at St. John during the summer of 1783.

Not all of the grantees of the Township of Maugerville were actual settlers. Of several we know little more than the names. This is the case with James Chadwell, whose name appears first in the grant, and with Moses Davis, Thomas Rous, Jonathan Parker, Hugh Shirley, Nathaniel Newman and James Vibart.

Two other non-resident grantees were men of influence and in their day made sufficient stir in the world to claim further notice. The first bore the imposing name of Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres. This gentleman is believed to have been a native of Switzerland. He obtained a commission in the English army and served with distinction under Wolfe at the siege of Quebec. At the time the Maugerville settlement was founded he was a lieutenant in the 60th Regiment, but being an excellent engineer, had lately been engaged by the Board of Admiralty to make exact surveys and charts of the coasts and harbors of Nova Scotia. In this work DesBarres was employed a good many years. Nearly two seasons were spent in making a careful survey of Sable Island—the grave-yard of the Atlantic—where DesBarres tells us the sands were strewn with wreckage and thousands had already perished for want of known soundings. Some of the results of his prolonged labors may be seen in the three huge volumes of the Atlantic Neptune (each as large as a fair sized table) in the Crown Land office at Fredericton. Commenting on the length of time spent in his surveys DesBarres remarks:

“Interruptions from fogs and precarious weather, unavoidably made tedious a performance in which accuracy is the chief thing desired, and rendered many years necessary to complete it for publication; but when the author reflects that the accuracy and truth of his work will stand the test of ages, and preserve future navigators from the horrors of shipwreck and destruction, he does not repine at its having employed so large a portion of his life.”

The engrossing nature of his occupation as engineer did not hinder DesBarres from being an ambitious land speculator. In 1765 he obtained, in conjunction with General Haldimand and one or two others, a grant of the Township of Hopewell, comprising 100,000 acres on the Petitcodiac river. But he derived little benefit 165 from his lands, as he was unable to fulfill the conditions of settlement, and eventually they reverted to the crown.

In 1784, Des Barres was appointed Lieut. Governor of Cape Breton, and afterwards Lieut. Governor of Prince Edward Island. He died at Halifax on the 27th October, 1824, and was honored with a state funeral at which the attendance was great and the interest felt very remarkable. This was due, in some measure, to the fact that had he lived another month he would have attained the extraordinary age of 103 years. Beamish Murdoch observes:

“Colonel DesBarres’ scientific labors on our coasts, and his repute as one of the heroes of 1759 under Wolfe at Quebec, gave him a claim on the gratitude and reverence of all Nova Scotians.”

This sentiment was not shared by the Acadians of Memramcook, who found difficulty in resisting the claims of the heirs of DesBarres to the lands they had settled. Two Lots in the upper part of the Township of Maugerville were granted to Governor DesBarres and had he settled there he would have been the next-door neighbor of the Widow Clark, but there is nothing to show that he made any attempt to improve his lands in that quarter and so his connection with the settlement is nothing but a name.

Joshua Mauger, the other non-resident grantee to whom reference has been made, was an English merchant who came to America as a contractor under government for furnishing supplies to the army at Louisbourg. When Cape Breton was restored to France, in 1749, Louisbourg was evacuated and Mauger came with the troops to Halifax. Shortly after his arrival he and other merchants asked permission to build wharves on the beach for the accommodation of their business. In 1751 he was appointed agent for victualling the Navy. Grog was at that time freely dispensed in the army and navy, and Mauger erected a distillery where he manufactured the rum required for the troops and seamen. As the business was lucrative he soon accumulated much property in and around Halifax, including the well known Mauger’s Beach at the entrance of Halifax harbor. He had also shops at Pisiquid and Minas—or, as they are now called, Windsor and Horton—where he sold goods and spirits to the French and Indians. He returned to England in 1761 and was appointed agent for the Province of Nova Scotia in London. The year following he was elected a member of Parliament.

Joshua Mauger in his position as Agent for the province was able to render it essential service, and in the year 1766 the legislature of Nova Scotia voted the sum of £50 for a piece of plate as a testimonial of their appreciation of his “zeal and unwearied application” in their behalf. As already mentioned, it was chiefly due to his energy that the Massachusetts settlers on the River St. John were confirmed in possession of their township. For his services in this connection, however, he was not unrewarded; not only was the township named in his honor, but the large island, since known as Mauger’s or Gilbert’s Island, was granted to him, together with ten lots, at the lower end of the township. When the Loyalists arrived they looked with somewhat covetous eyes on these interval lands which were settled by tenants at a yearly rental of £3 for each lot. Mauger’s Island was purchased by 166 Colonel Thomas Gilbert, the well known Loyalist of Taunton, Massachusetts, and by him bequeathed to his eldest son, Thomas Gilbert, jr. The latter writes so entertainingly and so enthusiastically of his situation, in a letter to his sister and her husband, that we venture to depart, for a moment, from the chronological order of events in order to give some extracts.

“On Board Major’s Island, Sept. 30, 1799.

Dear Brother and Sister,— * * * I have made great improvements on board this island. Three summers ago I built a large house, the Carpenter just as he had finished the work took a brand of fire by accident and burnt it all to ashes with three hundred pounds of property in it. It happened the 15th of November, winter set in next day. I fled to a small house I had on the island. Ice making in the River there was no passing, but my Neighbors knew my situation and assembled of their own good will[63]—in four weeks put me into a good framed house forty feet long twenty wide with a good chimney, where I lived the winter very comfortably. In the spring I went to work and built a House 38 by 36 and set it on to the other, which occupies the same ground that the other did, and I finished it to a latch from top to bottom. * * * * The summer past I have built me a barn 80 feet by 34 completely finished and said to be the best in the Province.

‘I wonder you don’t come yourself or send some of your family to help us enjoy this fine country. We feel no war nor pay any tax. Our land brings forth abundantly; it is almost incredible to see the Produce; it makes but little odds when you plant or sow, at harvest time you will have plenty. This last spring was late, the water was not off so that I could plant till the 21st of June, and so till the 26th we planted, and you never saw so much corn in any part of the States to the acre as I have got, and wheat and everything to the greatest perfection. I wonder how you and my Friends can prefer digging among the Stones and paying Rates to an easy life in this country. Last year I sold beef, pork and mutton more than I wanted for my family for three hundred Pounds, besides two colts for forty pounds apiece. A few days ago I sold four colts before they were broke for one hundred and ten pounds and I have sixteen left. I have a fine stock of cattle and sheep—butter and cheese is as plenty here as herrings are at Taunton—a tenant lives better here than a Landlord at Berkley. I am blesst with the best Neighbors that ever drew breath—they are made of the same stuff that our forefathers were that first settled New England. * * * * I live under the protection of the King, and I am stationed by his Laws on this Island, the finest farm in the Province. I don’t intend to weigh my anchor nor start from this till I have orders from the Governor of all things—then I hope to obey the summons with joy and gladness—with Great Expectation, to meet you in Heaven where I hope to rest.”

Benjamin Atherton removed to St. Anns about 1769 where at the time the Loyalists arrived he is reported to have had a good framed house and log barn and about 30 acres of land, cleared in part by the French. This land was near the Government House, and here in early days, Messrs. Simonds & White established a trading post to which the Indians and Acadians and some of the English settlers resorted. The store was managed by Benjamin Atherton who had an interest in the business. Mr. Atherton was a man of ability and good education and filled the office of clerk of the peace of the county of Sunbury—at that time including nearly all New Brunswick.


Hugh Quinton, Samuel Peabody, Gerves Say and William McKeen removed at an early date to the mouth of the river and we shall hear more of them in connection with that locality.

Edward Coy, Thomas Hart and Zebulun Estey removed to Gagetown. Some facts concerning Edward Coy are related in a curious old book published at Boston in 1849 entitled “A Narrative of the Life and Christian Experience of Mrs. Mary Bradley of Saint John, New Brunswick, written by Herself.” From this source we learn that the Coys were originally McCoys but that the “Mac” was dropped by Edward Coy’s grandfather and never resumed by the family. The Coys came from Pomfret in Connecticut to the River St. John in 1763 and the family removed from Gagetown to Sheffield in 1776. One of Edward Coy’s daughters is said to have been the first female child of English speaking parents born on the St. John river. The curious “cul de sac” in the river opposite the mouth of the Belleisle known as “The Mistake” was formerly called “Coy’s Mistake”—the name doubtless suggests the incident in which it had its origin. Many a traveller since the time of Edward Coy has incautiously entered the same cul-de-sac, thinking it the channel of the river, and, after proceeding two or three miles, found he too had made a “mistake” and retraced his way a sadder and a wiser man.

Zebulun Estey and Thomas Hart went to Gagetown while the war of the Revolution was in progress. The sentiments of the two were diverse during the war. Mr. Hart was one of the committee who helped to organize the party that went with the Americans, under Colonel Jonathan Eddy, against Fort Cumberland, in 1775. He is described in Major Studholme’s report as “a rebel.” Zebulun Estey on the other hand is described as “a good man and his character very loyal.”

Naturally the large number of those who removed from Maugerville on account of the inconveniences of the spring freshets went across the river to the Township of Burton, in some cases still retaining their property in Maugerville. Among those who so removed were Isaac Stickney, Israel Estey, Moses Estey, John Larlee, Amos Estey, John Pickard, Benjamin Brawn, Edward Barker, Israel Kinney, John Shaw and Thomas Barker. These were chiefly original grantees or their sons, who all removed to Burton during the progress of the Revolution, excepting John Larlee and Israel Kinney who went there in 1767. John Larlee was one of the old time doctors, a man highly respected whose descendants now are chiefly residents of Carleton county. Israel Kinney was probably the first blacksmith in the community.

Among those not included in the original band of settlers at Maugerville, but who arrived there shortly afterwards, was Moses Coburn, who came from Newburyport to St. John in the schooner Eunice early in 1767. This little vessel had quite a number of passengers for the River St. John, including James Simonds, Oliver Perley, Alexander Tapley and Stephen Hovey, but the voyage is of special interest from the fact that there was a bride on board, the young wife of James Simonds, formerly Hannah Peabody—a bride of sixteen. The Eunice had a fine passage and arrived at St. John on the 26th April, 1767.

Moses Coburn settled on lot No. 23, not far below the present Sheffield Academy. 168 The lot had been drawn by Edward Coy, one of the original grantees of the township, who took up his residence in Gagetown, but afterwards removed to Maugerville.

Alexander Tapley was one of the passengers in the Eunice. He lived at Maugerville prior to April 22, 1765, for on that date he sold 8½ lbs. of Beaver to Simonds & White for the sum of £2 2s. 6d., and purchased in return a number of articles including a pair of women’s shoes at 5 shillings, and a pair of “men’s pomps” at 7 shillings. A curious incident in connection with Alexander Tapley is to be found in the old court records of the County of Sunbury. It seems that having been appointed constable he declined to qualify and take the oath of office. In consequence he was summoned on the 20th May, 1774, to appear before Israel Perley and Jacob Baker, two of the magistrates, “to give a reason (if any he hath) for the refusing to serve as a constable for said town of Maugerville.” To this citation Tapley paid no regard, whereupon the magistrates, in high dudgeon, fined him forty shillings and issued a warrant to Samuel Upton, constable, who “took a cow of the said Tapley to satisfy the fine and costs, which sum was ordered to remain in the said constable’s hand till called for.”

Giles Tidmarsh was one of the transient settlers of Maugerville. The account books of Simonds and White show that he lived on the river at least as early as October, 1765—the first item charged in his acount is: “Oct. 23d, To 1 Fusee, £2.” On July 23, 1767, Tidmarsh was granted 1,000 acres in the township of Maugerville. Some years later his name appears as a Halifax magistrate, and in the year 1775 he was a Planter in the Island of Grenada. On Nov. 30th of that year he sold to Jacob Barker, jr., the half of lot No. 11, in Upper Sheffield, about 250 acres, for £32.

The descendants of the early settlers on the River St. John will find some very interesting information in the old accounts of Simonds & White as to the date and manner of the arrival of their forefathers in this country, and something too as regards their way of living.

In the early days of Maugerville it was quite a common occurrence for an intending settler to leave his family in New England till he had succeeded in making a small clearing and had built a log house for their accommodation, and a hovel for such domestic animals as he chose to bring with him. This in some measure explains the fact that while according to the census of Michael Francklin there were 77 men in Maugerville at the close of the year 1766 there were only 46 women. Here is an example from the account books of Simonds & White which will serve for illustration in this connection; it appears under date August 18, 1769:—

Nehemiah Hayward to Simonds & White, Dr.

To his passage to Newbury in the Polly last March. 20s.
His and wife’s passage to this place 20s.
1 Cow, 10s.; 1 Child, 5s. 15s.

Evidently Mr. Hayward had made a home for his wife and child on the banks of the St. John and had now gone to bring them on from Newburyport. His farm was in the lower part of Sheffield.

Most of the live stock for the Maugerville people was shipped from Newburyport 169 to St. John in the vessels of Hazen, Simonds and White. One of the first horses in the settlement was owned by Ammi Howlet, who paid £2 as freight for the animal in a sloop that arrived in May, 1765.

It is manifestly impossible to follow the history of every family represented in the grantees of Maugerville. Of the 261 souls that comprised the population of the township in 1767, all were natives of America with the exception of six English, ten Irish, four Scotch and six Germans. The majority were of Puritan stock and members of the congregationalist churches of Massachusetts. Scarcely had they settled themselves in their new possessions when they began the organization of a church. Dr. James Hannay in his very interesting paper on the Maugerville Settlement, published in the collections of the New Brunswick Historical Society, gives a copy of the original church covenant certified as correct by Humphrey Pickard, the church clerk. The covenant is signed by Jonathan Burpee, Elisha Nevers, Richard Estey, Daniel Palmer, Gervas Say, Edward Coy and Jonathan Smith. The opening paragraph reads:

“We whose names are hereto subscribed, apprehending ourselves called of God (for advancing of His Kingdom and edifying ourselves and posterity) to combine and embody ourselves into a distinct Church Society, and being for that end orderly dismissed from the Churches to which we heretofore belonged; do (as we hope) with some measure of seriousness and sincerity, take upon us the following covenant, viz.:—

“As to matters of faith we cordially adhere to the principles of religion (at least the substance of them) contained in the Shorter Catechism of the Westminister Assembly of Divines wherewith also the New England Confession of Faith harmonizeth, not as supposing that there is any authority, much less infalibility, in these human creeds or forms; but verily believing that these principles are drawn from and agreeable to the Holy Scripture, which is the foundation and standard of truth; hereby declaring our utter dislike of the Pelagian Arminian principles, vulgarly so called.

“In a firm belief of the aforesaid doctrines from an earnest desire that we and ours may receive the love of them and be saved with hopes that what we are now doing may be a means of so great an happiness; we do now (under a sense of our utter unworthiness of the honour and privileges of God’s Covenant people) in solemn and yet free and cheerful manner give up ourselves and offspring to God the Father, to the Son the Mediator, and the Holy Ghost the instructor, sanctifier and comforter, to be henceforth the people and servants of this God, to believe in all His revalations, to accept of His method of reconciliation, to obey His commands, and to keep all His ordinances, to look to and depend upon Him to do all for us, and work all in us, especially relating to our eternal salvation, being sensible that of ourselves we can do nothing.

“And it is also our purpose and resolution (by Divine assistance) to discharge the duties of Christian love and Brotherly watchfulness towards each other, to train up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord: to join together in setting up and maintaining the Publick worship of God among us, carefully and joyfully to attend upon Christ’s Sacrament and institutions; to yield all obedience and submission to Him or them that shall from time to time in an orderly manner be made overseers of the flock, to submit to all the regular administrations and censures of the Church and to contribute all in our power unto the regularity and peaceableness of those administrations.

“And respecting Church discipline it is our purpose to adhere to the method contained in the platform or the substance of it agreed upon by the synod at Cambridge 170 in New England Ano. Dom. 1648 as thinking these methods of Church Discipline the nearest the Scripture and most likely to maintain and promote Purity, order and peace of any.

“And we earnestly pray that God would be pleased to smile upon this our undertaking for His Glory, that whilst we thus subscribe with our hands, to the Lord and sirname ourselves by the Name of Israel; we may through grace given us become Israelites indeed in whom there is no Guile, that our hearts may be right with God and we be steadfast in His Covenant, that we who are now combining together in a new church of Jesus Christ, may by the purity of our faith and morals become one of those Golden Candlesticks among which the Son of God in way of favor and protection will condescend to walk. And that every member of it thro’ imputed righteousness and inherent grace may hereafter be found among that happy Multitude whom the glorious head of the Church, the Heavenly Bridegroome shall present to Himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”

No date is attached to this church covenant, but it was in all probability drawn up within a year or two of the date of arrival of the first settlers. Jonathan Burpee, whose name comes first in the order of signers, was a deacon in the church, and for some years the leader in all church movements. He lived in that part of Sheffield just above the Academy and was the ancestor of the Hon. Isaac Burpee, who was minister of customs in the Mackenzie government, and of many others of the name. His son, Jeremiah Burpee, lived beside him and a grandson, David Burpee, was another neighbor.

It was not until some years after the organization of the church that there was any settled minister on the St. John river and those desirous of entering the holy estate of matrimony were obliged like James Simonds to proceed to Massachusetts or to follow the example off Gervas Say and Anna Russell, whose marriage is described in the following unique document:—

“Maugerville, February 23, 1766.

“In the presence of Almighty God and this Congregation, Gervas Bay and Anna Russell, inhabitants of the above said township enter into marriage Covenant lawfully to dwell together in the fear of God the remaining part of our lives, in order to perform all ye duties necessary betwixt husband and wife as witness our hands.

  • Daniel Palmer,
  • Fras. Peabody,
  • Saml. Whitney,
  • Richard Estey,
  • George Hayward,
  • David Palmer,
  • Edwd. Coye.
  • Gervas Say,
  • Anna Say.

Gervas Say was one of the signers of the church covenant as also were three of the witnesses, Richard Estey, Daniel Palmer, and Edward Coye, and it may be assumed that the marriage was regarded as perfectly proper under the circumstances and it is not improbable that, in the absence of a minister, this was the ordinary mode of marriage. Gervas Say was afterwards a magistrate of the county and a man of integrity, ability and influence.

During the earlier years of the settlement at Maugerville there was no resident minister, but the place was occasionally visited by a clergyman. It is said that the first religious teacher there was a Mr. Wellman who came to Maugerville with 171 some of the first settlers but did not remain. There is nothing to show that when the church covenant was signed, in the year 1765, there was any resident minister. The Reverend Thomas Wood of Annapolis, a Church of England clergyman, visited the River St. John in the Summer of 1769, and on Sunday, July 9th, landed at Maugerville, where he held service and had a congregation of more than two hundred persons. He stated in his report to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, that owing to the fact that the congregation was composed chiefly of Dissenters from New England, and that they had a Dissenting minister among them, only two persons were baptised by him, but, he added, “if a prudent missionary could be settled among them I believe all their prejudices would vanish.”

The next year the little settlement had a minister, Zephaniah Briggs, who remained from May to August, preaching on Sundays at the houses of Daniel Palmer, Jacob Barker, Hugh Quinton, Jonathan Smith and Elisha Nevers. After a while came a Mr. Webster who, like his predecessor, seems to have been an itinerant preacher and did not tarry long.

It was not until the arrival of the Rev. Seth Noble[64], in 1774, that the church had a resident pastor, but in the intervals religious services were held on the Lord’s Day at private houses, conducted by the deacons and elders of the church, consisting of prayer and exhortation, reading of a sermon and singing. Among the early deacons were Jonathan Burpee, Samuel Whitney, John Shaw, and Humphrey Pickard. The elders were chosen annually.

The records of the church, which are yet in existence, show that the promise, made by the signers of the original covenant, to maintain “Brotherly watchfulness toward each other,” was by no means lost sight of for many of the entries in the church records are devoted to matters of discipline. In September, 1773, for example, two rather prominent members of the church, Israel Kenny and Benjamin Brawn, were called to account, and after due acknowledgment of their faults before the congregation were “restored to their charity again.” One of the two offending brethren, who had been charged with “scandalous sins,” was elected a ruling elder of the church less than two years afterwards.

The year 1774, gave to Maugerville its first settled minister, the Rev. Seth Noble, and the circumstances connected with his appointment are thus stated in the minutes of the clerk of the church, Daniel Palmer:

“At a meeting held by the subscribers to a bond for the support of the Preached gospel among us at the House of Mr. Hugh Quinton inholder on Wednesday ye 15 of June 1774.

1ly Chose Jacob Barker Esqr. Moderator in Sd. meeting.

2ly Gave Mr. Seth Noble a call to settle in the work of the ministry among us.

3ly to give Mr. Seth Noble as a settlement providing he accept of the call, one hundred and twenty Pounds currency.

4ly Voted to give Mr. Seth Noble yearly salary of sixty five pounds currency so long as he shall continue our Minister to be in Cash or furs or grain at cash price.

5ly. Chose Esqrs., Jacob Barker, Phinehas Nevers, Israel Pearly, Deacon 172 Jonathan Burpee and Messrs. Hugh Quinton, Daniel Palmer, Moses Coburn, Moses Pickard a Committee to treat with Seth Noble.

6ly Adjourned the meeting to be held at the House of Mr. Hugh Quinton on Wednesday ye 29 Instat, at four of the clock in the afternoon to hear the report of the committee.

Met on the adjournment on Wednesday ye 29 of June 1774 and voted as an addition to the salary of Mr. Seth Noble if he should except of our Call, to cut and haul twenty five cords of wood to his house yearly so long as he shall continue to be our Minister. The meeting dissolved.”


The call having been accepted by Mr. Noble, the people the following year set about the erection of a meeting house, which was to serve also as a residence for their pastor. In January, 1776, it was so far advanced that the exterior was nearly completed, for in David Burpee’s book of accounts, under that date, there is a charge for work done by Messrs. Plummer and Bridges in “clapboarding one third of the east end of the meeting house.” When finished the building was doubtless a very unpretentious little structure not at all like a modern church edifice and very unlike its successor, the Congregational church in Sheffield, but it was the first Protestant place of worship erected on the River St. John.

In the order of survey of the Township of Maugerville, made by the Government of Nova Scotia in 1761, were the words “You shall Reserve four Lots in the Township, 173 for Publick use, one as a Glebe for the Church of England, one of the Dissenting Protestants, one for the maintenance of a School, and one for the first settled minister in the Place.”

In accordance with this arrangement Lot No. 15, where the Sheffield Congregational church now stands, was fixed on in the year 1764 as a glebe for the “Dissenting Protestants.” Improvements were made upon the lot and a part of it used as a burial ground. The first meeting house, however, was not built there. It probably stood on lot 13, the property of Jeremiah Burpee and later of his son, David Burpee. In the church records we have the following minute bearing upon the subject, the meaning of which, however, does not seem perfectly clear:—

“At a meeting of the Subscribers for the support of the Preached Gospel held at the meeting house in Sheffield on the 15th day of December, 1788—

Chose Mr. Daniel Jewett Chairman.

“2ndly. Voted that the meeting house be set on the public lot in Sheffield.

“3rdly. Voted to remove the meeting house in Maugerville to the public lot in Sheffield if the proprietor thereof consents thereto.

“4thly. Chose Messers. Nathan Smith, Silvanus Plumer, Eben Briggs, Elijah Dingee and Jacob Barker, Esq., managers to remove the same.”

The meeting house was removed early in the spring, placed upon a stone foundation, a steeple erected, and many improvements made.

If the Rev. Seth Noble had remained he would doubtless have had a grant of the lot reserved for the first settled minister in the township, but his removal in the year 1777 not only lost him the lot but caused it to pass eventually to the Rev. John Beardsley, rector of the church of England congregation.

Some years after he left Maugerville Mr. Noble wrote to his former congregation respecting this lot but they gave him rather a tart reply: “You was indeed told,” said they, “that there was a lot of land in Maugerville reserved by Government to be given to the first settled minister in fee simple, and had you continued as such undoubtedly you would have obtained a grant of it. But when you left this country you then (in the eyes of the government) forfeited all pretentions to that privilege and the man that would ask for it in your behalf would only get abuse. By your leaving us the dissenters have lost that privilege and the Church of England minister gets the lot. Though we must observe that during Mrs. Noble’s residence here she had the improvement of it which was worth about five pounds per annum.”[65]

Lot No. 90, reserved as a glebe for the Church of England, is that on which Christ Church in the Parish of Maugerville stands today. The Congregational and Episcopal churches, at the time New Brunswick was separated from Nova Scotia, represented respectively the Puritan and Loyalist elements of the community, and their relations were by no means cordial. Mutual antipathy existed for at least a couple of generations, but the old wounds are now fairly well healed and the causes of discord well nigh forgotten.


The intercourse between the Maugerville people and the smaller colony at the mouth of river was so constant that it is difficult to speak of the one without the other. For a few years the people living on the river were in a large measure dependent for supplies upon the store kept by Simonds and White at Portland Point, and the names of the following Maugerville settlers are found in the ledger of Simonds and White in the year 1765 and shortly after, viz.: Jacob Barker, Jacob Barker jr., Thomas Barker, Jeremiah Burpee, David Burbank, Moses Coburn, Thomas Christie, Zebulun Estey, Richard Estey, jr., John Estey, Col. Beamsley Glacier, Joseph Garrison, Jonathan Hart, William Harris, Nehemiah Hayward, Samuel Hoyt, Ammi Howlet, Daniel Jewett, Richard Kimball, John Larlee, Peter Moores, Phinehas Nevers, Elisha Nevers, Samuel Nevers, Capt. Francis Peabody, Samuel Peabody, Israel Perley, Oliver Perley, Daniel Palmer, Humphrey Pickard, Hugh Quinton, Nicholas Rideout, Jonathan Smith, John Shaw, Gervis Say, Isaac Stickney, Samuel Tapley, Alexander Tapley, Giles Tidmarsh, John Wasson, Jonathan Whipple and Samuel Whitney.

In return for goods purchased the settlers tendered furs, lumber, occasionally an old piece of silver, sometimes their own labor and later they were able to supply produce from their farms. Money they scarcely ever saw. Very often they gave notes of hand which they found it hard to pay. The furs they supplied were principally beaver skins at five shillings (or one dollar) per pound. They also supplied martin, otter and musquash skin, the latter at 4½ pence each. The lumber supplied included white oak barrel staves at 20 shillings per thousand, red oak hogshead starves at 20 shillings per thousand, “Oyl nut” (Butternut) staves at 16 shillings per thousand, clapboards at 25 shillings and oar rafters at £2 per thousand feet. Considering the labor involved—for the manufacture was entirely by hand—prices seem small; but it must be borne in mind that 2s. 6d. was a day’s pay for a man’s labor at this time.

The Indians had for so long a time enjoyed a monopoly of the fur trade that they regarded the white hunter with a jealous eye. Indeed in the year 1765 they assembled their warriors and threatened to begin a new war with the English. The settlers an the river were much alarmed and the commandant of Fort Frederick, Capt. Pierce Butler, of the 29th Regiment, doubled his sentries. Through the persuasion of the commandant, assisted by Messrs. Simonds and White and other leading inhabitants, the chiefs were induced to go to Halifax and lay their complaints before the Governor. One of the most influential inhabitants on the river accompanied them, whose name is not stated but it was very probably James Simonds, at least he writes to his partners at Newburyport in November of this year, “The dispute with the Indians is all settled to the satisfaction of the government as well as the Indians.”

At their first interview the chiefs insisted that the white settlers interfered with the rights of the Indians by encroaching on their hunting grounds, clamming that it was one of the conditions of a former treaty that the English settlers should not be allowed to kill any wild game beyond the limits of their farms and improvements. They demanded payment for the beavers, moose and other animals killed in the forest by the settlers. The inhabitants of Maugerville were able to prove that the charges brought against them were greatly exaggerated, most of the wild animals having 175 been killed not far from their doors, while the aggregate of all animals slain by them was much less than stated by the Indians. In the end the chiefs seemed to be satisfied that they were mistaken and appeared ashamed of their conduct in alarming the country without reason, but they still insisted that the young warriors of their tribe would not be satisfied without some compensation for the loss of their wild animals. The Governor gave his decision as follows: “That although the grievances the Indians had started were by no means sufficient to justify their hostile proceedings, yet to do them ample justice, he would order to be sent them a certain amount in clothing and provisions, provided they would consider it full satisfaction for any injuries done by the settlers; and that he would also send orders to restrain the settlers from hunting wild animals in the woods.” The chiefs accepted this offer and the Indians remained tranquil until the American Revolution some twelve years later.

One of the results of the conference seems to have been the reservation to the Indians in the grant of the Township of Sunbury of “500 acres, including a church and burying ground at Aughpack, and four acres for a burying ground at St. Ann’s Point, and the island called Indian Island.” The well known Maliseet chief, Ambroise St. Aubin, was one of the leading negotiators at Halifax as appears by the following pass furnished to him by Governor Wilmot:

“Permit the bearer, Ambroise St. Aubin, chief of the Indians of St. John’s river, to return there without any hindrance or molestation; and all persons are required to give him all necessary and proper aid and assistance on his journey.

Given under my hand and seal at Halifax this 7th day of September, 1765.

RICH’D BULKELEY, Secretary.”



At Portland Point.

When the attention of James Simonds, was directed to the River St. John, by the proclamation oaf Governor Lawrence inviting the inhabitants of New England to settle on the vacant lands in Nova Scotia, he was a young man of twenty-four years of age. His father had died at Haverhill; August 15th, 1757. The next year he went with his uncle, Capt. Hazen, to the assault of Ticonderoga, in the capacity of a subaltern officer in the Provincial troops, and shortly after the close of the campaign proceeded to Nova Scotia in order to find a promising situation for engaging in trade. The fur trade was what he had chiefly in mind at this time, but the Indians were rather unfriendly, and he became interested along with Captain Peabody, Israel Perley and other officers of the disbanded Massachusetts troops in their proposed settlement on the River St John. His future partners of the trading company formed in 1764 were, with the exception of Mr. Blodget, even younger men than himself. William Hazen, of Newburyport, had just attained to manhood and belonged to a corps of Massachusetts Rangers, which served in Canada at the taking of Quebec. Samuel Blodget was a follower of the army on Lake Champlain as a sutler. James White was a young man of two-and-twenty years and had been for some time Mr. Blodget’s clerk or assistant. Leonard Jarvis—afterwards Wm. Hazen’s, business partner and so incidentally a member of the trading company at St. John—was not then eighteen years of age.

While engaged in his explorations, James Simonds obtained from the government of Nova Scotia the promise of a grant of 5,000 acres of unappropriated lands, in such part of the province as he should choose, and it was under this arrangement he entered upon the marsh east of the city of St. John (called by the Indians “Seebaskastagan”) in the year 1762 and cut there a quantity of salt marsh hay and began to made improvements.

Mr. Simonds says in one of his letters: “The accounts which I gave my friends in New England of the abundance of Fish in the River and the convenience of taking them, of the extensive Fur trade of the country, and the natural convenience of burning Lime, caused numbers of them to make proposals to be concerned with me in these branches of business, among whom Mr. Hazen was the first that joined me in a trial. Afterwards, in the year 1764, although I was unwilling that any should be sharers with me in the Fur trade, which I had acquired some knowledge of, yet by representations that superior advantage could be derived from a Cod-fishery on the Banks and other branches of commerce, which I was altogether unacquainted with, I joined in a contract for carrying it on for that year upon an extensive plan with Messrs. Blodget, Hazen, White, Peaslie and R. Simonds.”

Early in 1763, James Simonds and William Hazen engaged in a small venture in the way of trade and fishing at St. John and Passamaquoddy. They had several men in their employ, including Ebenezer Eaton, master of the sloop Bachelor, and Samuel Middleton, a cooper, who was employed in making barrels for shipping the fish. Among others in the employ of Simonds and his partners, several seem to have had a previous acquaintance with St. John harbor; Moses Greenough, for 177 example, was there in 1758, and Lemuel Cleveland in 1757, when he says “the French had a fort at Portland Point where Mr. Simonds’ house was afterwards built.”

The following is a copy of what is probably the first document extant in connection with the business of Hazen and Simonds:—

Passamaquada, 26th July, 1763.

Sir,—Please pay unto Mr. Ebenezer Eaton the sum of Five pounds one shilling & four pence Lawfull money, half cash & half Goods, and place the same to the acct. of,

Yr. Humble Servant,
 Jas. Simonds.

To Mr. William Hazen,
 Merchant in Newbury.

The success of their first modest little venture encouraged Hazen and Simonds to undertake a more ambitious project, namely the formation of a trading company to “enter upon and pursue with all speed and faithfulness the business of the cod fishery, seine fishery, fur trade, burning of lime and every other trading business that shall be thought advantageous to the company at Passamaquoddy, St. Johns, Canso and elsewhere in or near the province of Nova Scotia and parts adjacent.”

Evidently the project was regarded as in some measure an experiment, for the contract provided, “the partnership shall continue certain for the space of one year and for such longer time as all the partys shall hereafter agree.” Examination of the document shows that when first written the period the contract was to continue was left blank and the word “one” inserted before “year,” evidently after consultation on the part of those concerned.

Shortly before the formation of the trading company, James Simonds went to Halifax to procure a grant of land at St. John and a license to trade with the Indians, but did not at this time succeed in obtaining the grant. However the governor gave him the following license to occupy Portland Point:

“License is hereby granted to James Simonds to occupy a tract or point of land on the north side of St. John’s River, opposite Fort Frederick, for carrying on a fishery and for burning lime-stone, the said tract or point of land containing by estimation ten acres.


“Halifax, February 8, 1764.

Upon this land at Portland Point the buildings required for the business of the company were built. The partnership was in its way a “family compact.” Samuel Blodget, was distantly related to Wm. Hazen and the latter was a cousin of James and Richard Simonds; Robert Peaslie’s wife was Anna Hazen, sister of Wm. Hazen, and James White was a cousin of Wm. Hazen. It was agreed that Blodget, Hazen and James Simonds should each have one-fourth part in the business and profits, the remaining fourth part to be divided amongst the juniors, Messrs. White, Peaslie and Richard Simonds.

Blodget and Hazen were the principal financial backers of the undertaking and agreed to provide, “at the expense of the company,” the vessels, boats, tackling, and also all sorts of goods and stock needed to carry on the trade, also to receive and dispose of the fish, furs and other produce of trade sent to them from Nova Scotia. The fishery and all other business at St. John and elsewhere in Nova 178 Scotia was to be looked after by the others of the company, and the junior partners were to proceed with James Simonds to St. John and work under his direction, so far as to be ruled by him “at all times and in all things which shall relate to the good of the concerned wherein the said White, Peaslie and R. Simonds shall differ in judgment from the said James Simonds, tho’ all parties do hereby covenant in all things to consult and advise and act to the utmost of their power for the best good and advantage of the Company.”

It is evident that the plans of our first business concern at St. John were not drawn up without due consideration.

There is no evidence to show that any of the partners except the brothers Simonds had been at St. John previous to the year 1764. The statement has been frequently made that James White visited the harbor in 1762 in company with James Simonds and Capt. Francis Peabody, but his own papers which are still in existence clearly prove that he was almost constantly engaged in the employ of Samuel Blodget at Crown Point during that year.

William Hazen and James Simonds were undoubtedly the prime movers in the formation of the trading company that began its operations at St. John in 1764. By their joint efforts they were able to organize a firm seemingly happily constituted and likely to work together harmoniously and successfully. As a matter of fact, however, the company had a very chequered career and at length the war of the Revolution seemed likely to involve them in financial ruin. This seeming calamity in the end proved to be the making of their fortunes by sending the Loyalists in thousands to our shores. But of all this more anon.

The financial backers of the company at the first were Hazen and Blodget, who carried on business at Newburyport and Boston respectively. These towns were then rising into importance and were rivals in trade although it was not long until Boston forged ahead. The goods required for trade with the Indians and white inhabitants of the River St. John and the military garrison at Fort Frederick were conveniently supplied from Newburyport and Boston, and these places were good distributing centres for the fish, furs, lumber, lime and other products obtained at St. John. The furs were usually sold in London; the other articles were either sold in the local market or sent to the West Indies.

The Company having been formed and the contract signed on the 1st day of March, 1764, the Messrs. Simonds, James White, Jonathan Leavitt and a party of about thirty hands embarked on board a schooner belonging to the Company for the scene of operations. The men were fishermen, laborers, lime burners, with one or two coopers—a rough and ready lot, but with one or two of superior intelligence to act as foremen. Comparatively few of the men seem to have become permanent settlers, yet as members of the little colony at Portland Point and almost the first English-speaking residents of St. John, outside of the Fort Frederick garrison, their names are worthy to be recorded. The following may be regarded as a complete list: James Simonds, James White, Jonathan Leavitt, Jonathan Simonds, Samuel Middleton, Peter Middleton, Edmund Black, Moses True, Reuben Stevens, John Stevens, John Boyd, Moses Kimball, Benjamin Dow, Thomas Jenkins, Batcheldor Ring, Rowley Andros, Edmund Butler, John Nason, 179 Reuben Mace, Benjamin Wiggins, John Lovering, John Hookey, Rueben Sergeant, Benjamin Stanwood, Benjamin Winter, Anthony Dyer, Webster Emerson, George Carey, John Hunt, George Berry, Simeon Hillyard, Ebenezer Fowler, William Picket and Ezekiel Carr.

The Company’s schooner, with William Story as master, sailed from Newburyport about the 10th of April, arriving at Passamaquody on the 14th, and at St. John on the 18th. The men set to work immediately on their arrival, and the quietude that had reigned beneath the shadow of Fort Howe hill was broken by the sound of the woodsman’s axe and the carpenter’s saw and hammer. Among the first buildings erected were a log store 20 feet by 30 feet, a dwelling house 19 feet by 35 feet, and a building adjoining it 16 by 40, rough boarded and used as a cooper’s shop, kitchen and shelter for the workmen.

Portland Point lies at the foot of Portland street at the head of St. John harbor—the locality is better known today as “Rankin’s Wharf.” Before the wharves in the vicinity were built the Point was quite a conspicuous feature in the contour of the harbor. The site of the old French fort on which James Simonds’ house was built, with the company’s store hard by, is now a green mound unoccupied by any building. The place was at first commonly called “Simonds’ Point” but about the year 1776 the name of “Portland Point” seems to have come into use. Nevertheless, down to the time of the arrival of the Loyalists in 1783, the members of the company always applied the names of “St. Johns” or “St. John’s River” to the scene of their operations, and it may be said that in spite of the attempt of the French governor Villebon and his contemporaries to perpetuate the old Indian name of Menaquesk, or Menagoeche, and of Governor Parr in later years to affix the name of “Parr-town” to that part of our city to the east of the harbor, the name given by de Monts and Champlain on the memorable 24 June, 1604, has persisted to the present day. The city of ST. JOHN, therefore, has not only the honor of being the oldest incorporated city in the British colonies, but traces the origin of its name to a known and fixed date three hundred years ago. Indeed as regards its name St. John is older than Boston, New York, Philadelphia or any city of importance on the Atlantic coast as far south as Florida.

However the first English colonists who established themselves on a permanent footing at “St. John’s” thought little of this historic fact. It was not sentiment but commercial enterprise than guided them.

Among those who came to St. John with Simonds and White in April, 1764, none was destined to play a more active and useful part than young Jonathan Leavitt. He was a native of New Hampshire and at the time of his arrival was in his eighteenth year. Young as he was he had some experience as a mariner, and from 1764 to 1774 was employed as master of one or other of the Company’s vessels. He sailed chiefly between St. John and Newburyport, but occasionally made a voyage to the West Indies. He received the modest compensation of £4 per month for his services. In the course of time Mr. Leavitt came to be one of the most trusted navigators of the Bay of Fundy and probably none knew the harbor of St. John so well as he. In his testimony in a law suit, about the year 1792, he states that in early times the places of anchorage in the harbor were the 180 flats on the west side between Fort Frederick and Sand Point, which were generally used by strangers, and Portland Point where the vessels of the Company lay. It was not until, 1783 that vessels began to anchor at the Upper Cove (now the Market Slip), that place being until then deemed rather unsafe. Jonathan Leavitt and has brother Daniel piloted to their landing places the transport ships that carried some thousands of Loyalists to our shores during the year 1783.

Jonathan Leavitt gives an interesting synopsis of the business carried on at St. John under the direction of Simonds and White: “The Company’s business included Fishery, Fur trade, making Lime, building Vessels and sawing Lumber, and they employed a great number of laborers and workmen in cutting wood, burning lime, digging stone, cutting hoop-poles, clearing roads, clearing land, curing fish, cutting hay and attending stock. The workmen and laborers were supported and paid by the partnership and lived in the outhouse and kitchen of the house occupied by Simonds and White. There was a store of dry goods and provisions and articles for the Indian trade.”

When he was at St. John, Leavitt lived in the family of Simonds and White who lived together during the greater part of the ten years he was in the Company’s employ, and when they separated their families he staid sometimes with one and sometimes with the other. Simonds and White were supplied with bread, meat and liquors for themselves and families from the store, and no account was kept whilst they lived together, but after they separated they were charged against each family; the (workmen also were maintained, supported and fed from the joint stock of the store, as it was considered they were employed for the joint benefit of the company, but liquors and articles supplied on account of their wages were charged against the individual accounts of the men. Part of the workmen and laborers were hired by William Hazen and sent from Newburyport, others were engaged by Simonds and White at the River St. John.

About the year 1772 Jonathan Leavitt married Capt. Francis Peabody’s youngest daughter, Hephzibeth, then about sixteen years of age, and thus became more closely identified with James Simonds and James White, whose wives were also daughters of Capt. Peabody.[66]


When Jonathan and Daniel Leavitt had for several years been engaged in sailing the company’s vessels, it is said that they became discouraged at the outlook and talked of settling themselves at some place where there was a larger population and more business. James White did his best to persuade them to remain, closing his argument with the exhortation, “Don’t be discouraged, boys! Keep up a good heart! Why ships will come here from England yet!” And they have come.

In addition to the Leavitts and the masters of some of the other vessels, who were intelligent men, nearly all at St. John were ordinary laborers: however, the company from time to time employed some capable young fellows to assist in the Store at the Point. One of these was Samuel Webster, whose mother was a half-sister of James Simonds. He remained nearly four years at St. John, during which time he lived in the family of Simonds and White. While he was at St. John goods were shipped to Newburyport and the West Indies by the Company in considerable quantities. There were he says at times a very considerable number of workmen and laborers employed, and at other times a smaller number, according to the time of year, and as the nature of the employment required. The laborers were fed, supported and paid out of the store, and lived in a house only a few rods from Mr. Simonds’ house. Emerson spent most of his time in the store, buying and selling and delivering small articles. He generally made the entries in the Day Book.

Another lad, Samuel Emerson, of Bakerstown, Massachusetts, came to St. John with James Simonds in April, 1767, as a clerk or assistant in the store, and remained nearly four years in the Company’s service.

At the expiration of the first year several changes occurred in the Company. Richard Simonds had died on the 20th January, 1765. Robert Peaslie seems not to have come to St. John, although it was stipulated in the contract that he should do so, and early in 1765 he withdrew from the Company. In the autumn of 1764, Leonard Jarvis, a young man of twenty-two years of age, became associated with William Hazen as co-partner in his business in Newburyport and became by common consent a sharer in the business at St. John. So far as we can judge from his letters, Mr. Jarvis was a man of excellent business ability. The accounts kept at Newburyport in connection with the Company’s business are in his handwriting and he attended to most of the correspondence with the St. John partners.

The writer of this history has among his historic documents and papers a number of account books in a very fair state of preservation, containing in part the transactions of the company during the years they were in business at St. John. One of these, a book of nearly 100 pages, ordinary foolscap size with stout paper cover, is of special interest for it contains the record of the initial transactions of the first business firm established at St. John a hundred and forty years ago. At the top of the first page are the words

Day Book No. 1.
1764. St. Johns River.


The book is intact and very creditably kept. The entries are in the hand writing of James White. The accounts during the continuance of the partnership were kept in New England currency or “Lawful money of Massachusetts.” The letters L. M. were frequently employed to distinguish this currency from sterling money and Nova Scotia currency. The value of the Massachusetts currency was in the proportion of £1 sterling to £1. 6s. 8d. L. M.; the Nova Scotia dollar, or five shillings, was equivalent to six shillings L. M. It is a fact worth recording, that the Massachusetts currency was used in all ordinary business transactions on the River St. John down to the time of the arrival of the Loyalists in 1783. This fact suffices to show how close were the ties that bound the pre-loyalist settlers of the province to New England, and it is scarcely a matter of surprise that during the Revolution the Massachusetts congress found many sympathizers on the River St. John.

While accounts were kept according to the currency of New England, the amount of cash handled by Simonds and White was insignificant. For years they supplied the settlers on the river with such things as they required often receiving their payment in furs and skins. In securing these the white inhabitants became such expert hunters and trappers as to arouse the jealousy of the Indians and to give rise to the pseudo-nym “the bow and arrow breed,” applied to them by some of the half-pay officers who settled among them at the close of the American Revolution. With the Indians the trade was almost entirely one of barter, the staple article being the fur of the spring beaver.

The fur trade assumed large proportions at this period. The account books of Simonds and White that are now in existence do not contain a complete record of all the shipments made from St. John, but they show that during ten years of uninterrupted trade from the time of their settlement at Portland Point to the outbreak of the Revolution, they exported at least 40,000 beaver skins, 11,022 musquash, 6,050 Marten, 870 otter, 258 fisher, 522 Mink, 120 fox, 140 sable, 74 racoon, 67 loup-cervier, 8 wolverene, 5 bear, 2 Nova Scotia wolf, 50 carriboo, 85 deer, and 1,113 moose, besides 2,265 lbs. of castor and 3,000 lbs of feathers, the value of which according to invoice was £11,295 or about $40,000. The prices quoted are but a fraction of those of modern days and by comparison appear ridiculously small. Other traders were engaged in traffic with the Indians also, and if Messrs. Simonds and White sent on an average 4,000 beaver skins to New England every year, it is manifest that the fur trade of the river was a matter of some consequence.

James White was the principal agent in bartering with the Indians who had every confidence in his integrity. Three-fourths of their trade was in beaver skins and “a pound of spring beaver” (equivalent to 5 shillings in value) was the unit employed in trade. Mr. White was usually called by the Indians “K’wabeet” or “Beaver.” It is said that in business with the Indians the fist of Mr. White was considered to weigh a pound and his foot two pounds both in buying and selling. But the same story is told of other Indian traders. The Indians were fond of finery and ornaments. Among the articles sent by Samuel Blodget in 1764 were nine pairs of green, scarlet and blue plush breeches at a guinea each; one blue gold laced jacket and two scarlet gold laced jackets valued at £3 each; also spotted 183 ermine jackets, ruffled shirts and three gold laced beaver hats (value of the latter £8 6s. 4d.) These may seem extravagant articles for the Indians yet their chiefs and captains bought them and delighted to wear them on special occasions.[67] It was customary in trading with the savages to take pledges from them, for the payment of their debts, silver trinkets, armclasps, medals, fuzees, etc. In the autumn of 1777 a Yankee privateer from Machias, whose captain bore the singular name A. Greene Crabtree, plundered Simonds & White’s store at Portland Point and carried off a trunk full of Indian pledges. This excited the indignation of the Chiefs Pierre Thoma and Francis Xavier who sent the following communication to Machias: “We desire you will return into the hands of Mr. White at Menaguashe the pledges belonging to us which were plundered last fall out of Mr. Hazen’s store by A. Greene Crabtree, captain of one of your privateers; for if you don’t send them we will come for them in a manner you won’t like.”

The goods kept in the store at Portland Point for the Indian trade included powder and shot for hunting, provisions, blankets and other “necessaries” and such articles as Indian needles, colored thread, beads of various colors, a variety of buttons—brass buttons, silver plated buttons, double-gilt buttons, scarlet buttons and blue mohair buttons—scarlet blue and red cloth, crimson broadcloth, red and blue stroud, silver and gold laced hats, gilt trunks, Highland garters, silver crosses, round silver broaches, etc., etc.

The old account books bear evidence of being well thumbed, for Indian debts were not easy to collect, and white men’s debts were harder to collect in ancient than in modern days. In point of fact the red man and the white man of the River St. John ran a close race in their respective ledgers. For in a statement of accounts rendered after the operations of the company had lasted rather more than two years, the debts due were as follows: From the English £607 11s. 9d. and from the Indians £615 7s. 9d. Old and thumb-worn as the account books are, written with ink that had often been frozen and with quill pens that often needed mending, they are extremely interesting as relics of the past, and are deserving of a better fate than that which awaited them when by the merest accident they were rescued from a dismal heap of rubbish.

In their business at Portland Point, Simonds and White kept four sets of accounts: one for their Indian trade, a second for their business with the white inhabitants, a third for that with their own employees, and a fourth for that with the garrison at Fort Frederick.

In glancing over the leaves of the old account books the first thing likely to attract attention is the extraordinary consumption of West India spirits and New England rum. This was by no means confined to the Company’s laborers, for at that time the use of rum as a beverage was almost universal. It was dispensed as an ordinary act of hospitality and even the preacher cheerfully accepted the proffered cup. It was used in winter to keep out the cold and in summer 184 to keep out the heat. It was in evidence alike at a wedding or a funeral. No barn-raising or militia general muster was deemed to be complete without the jug, and in process of time the use of spirits was so habitual that Peter Fisher was able to quote statistics in 1824 to prove that the consumption of ardent liquors was nearly twenty gallons per annum for every male person above sixteen years of age. While the use of rum may be regarded as the universal custom of the day, at the same time tobacco was not in very general use. The use of snuff, however, was quite common.

In the course of a few years the variety of articles kept in stock at the company’s store increased surprisingly until it might be said they sold everything “from a needle to an anchor.” The paces at which some of the staple articles were quoted appear in the foot note.[68] Among other articles in demand were fishing tackle, blue rattan and fear-nothing jackets, milled caps, woollen and check shirts, horn and ivory combs, turkey garters, knee buckles, etc. Among articles that strike us as novel are to be found tin candlesticks, brass door knobs, wool cards, whip-saws, skates, razors and even mouse traps. Writing paper was sold at 1s. 3d. per quire. The only books kept in stock were almanacks, psalters, spelling books and primers.

Still though the variety at first glance seems greater than might have been expected, a little further inspection will satisfy us that the life of that day was one of extreme simplicity, of luxuries there were few, and even the necessaries of life were sometimes scanty enough.

One hundred and forty years have passed since James Simonds and James White set themselves down at the head of Saint John harbor as pioneers in trade to face with indomitable energy and perseverance the difficulties of their situation. These were neither few nor small, but they were Massachusetts men and in their veins there flowed the blood of the Puritans. The determination that enabled their progenitors to establish themselves around the shores of the old Bay States upheld them in the scarcely less difficult task of creating for themselves a home amidst the rocky hillsides that encircled the Harbor of St. John.


Today the old pioneers of 1764 would hardly recognize their ancient landmarks. The ruggedness of old Men-ah-quesk has in a great measure disappeared; valleys have been filled and hills cut down. The mill-pond where stood the old tide mill is gone and the Union depot with its long freight sheds and maze of railway tracks occupies its place. “Mill” street and “Pond” street alone remain to tell of what has been. The old grist mill near Lily Lake and its successors have long since passed away. It certainly was with an eye to business and not to pleasure, that Hazen, Simonds and White built the first roadway to Rockwood Park. Could our pioneers in trade revisit the scene of their labors and note the changes time has wrought what would be their amazement? They would hardly recognize their surroundings. Instead of rocks and crags covered with spruce and cedar, with here and there an open glade, and the wide spreading mud flats at low tide they would behold the wharves that line our shores, the ocean steamships lying in the channel, grain elevators that receive the harvests of Canadian wheat-fields two thousand miles away, streets traversed by electric cars and pavements traversed by thousands of hurrying feet, bicyclists darting hither and thither, squares tastefully laid out and adorned with flowers, public buildings and residences of goodly proportions and by no means devoid of beauty, palatial hotels opening their doors to guests from every clime, institutions for the fatherless and the widow, the aged, the poor, the unfortunate, the sick the insane, churches with heaven directing spires, schools whose teachers are numbered by the hundred and pupils by the thousand, public libraries, courts of justice and public offices of nearly every description, business establishments whose agents find their way into every nook and corner of old-time Acadie, railways and steamboats that connect the city with all parts of the globe, splendid bridges that span the rocky gorge at the mouth of the St. John where twice in the course of every twenty-four hours the battle, old as the centuries, rages between the outpouring torrent of the mighty river and the inflowing tide of the bay.

A few years since the writer of this history in an article in the New Brunswick Magazine endeavored to contrast a Saturday night of the olden time with one of modern days.[69]


“Saturday night in the year 1764—The summer sun sinks behind the hills and the glow of evening lights the harbor. At the landing place at Portland Point, one or two fishing boats are lying on the beach, and out a little from the shore a small square sterned schooner lies at her anchor. The natural lines of the harbor are clearly seen. In many places the forest has crept down nearly to the water’s edge. Wharves and shipping there are none. Ledges of rock, long since removed, crop up here and there along the harbor front. The silence falls as the day’s work is ended at the little settlement, and the sound of the waters rushing through the falls seems, in the absence of other sounds, unnaturally predominant. Eastward of Portland Pond we see the crags and rocks of the future city of the Loyalists, the natural ruggedness in some measure hidden by the growth of dark spruce and 186 graceful cedar, while in the foreground lies the graceful curve of the “Upper Cove” where the forest fringes the waters edge. We may easily cross in the canoe of some friendly Indian and land where, ten years later, the Loyalists landed, but we shall find none to welcome us. The spot is desolate, and the stillness only broken by the occasional cry of some wild animal, the song of the bird in the forest and the ripple of waves on the shore.

The shadows deepen as we return to the Point, and soon the little windows of the settlers’ houses begin to glow. There are no curtains to draw or blinds to pull down or shutters to close in these humble dwellings, but the light, though unobstructed shines but feebly, for ’tis only the glimmer of a tallow candle that we see or perhaps the flickering of the firelight from the open chimney that dances on the pane.

In the homes of the dwellers at St. John Saturday night differs little from any other night. The head of the house is not concerned about the marketing or telephoning to the grocer; the maid is not particularly anxious to go “down town;” the family bath tub may be produced (and on Monday morning it will be used for the family washing), but the hot water will not be drawn from the tap. The family retire at an early hour, nor are their slumbers likely to be disturbed by either fire alarm or midnight train. And yet in the olden times the men, we doubt not, were wont to meet on Saturday nights at the little store at the Point to compare notes 187 and to talk over the few topics of interest in their monotonous lives. We seem to see them even now—a little coterie—nearly all engaged in the company’s employ, mill hands, fishermen, lime-burners, laborers, while in a corner James White pores over his ledger posting his accounts by the light of his candle and now and again mending his goose-quill pen. But even at the store the cheerful company soon disperses; the early-closing system evidently prevails, the men seek their several abodes and one by one the lights in the little windows vanish. There is only one thing to prevent the entire population from being in good time for church on Sunday morning, and that is there is not any church for them to attend.

Then and now! We turn from our contemplation of Saturday night as we have imagined it in 1764 to look at a modern Saturday night in St. John. No greater contrast can well be imagined. Where once were dismal shades of woods and swamps, there is a moving gaily-chattering crowd that throngs the walks of Union, King and Charlotte streets. The feeble glimmer of the tallow candle in the windows of the few houses at Portland Point has given place to the blaze of hundreds of electric lights that shine far out to sea, twinkling like bright stars in the distance, and reflected from the heavens, serving to illuminate the country for miles around. Our little knot of villagers in the olden days used to gather in their one little store to discuss the day’s doing; small was the company, and narrow their field of observation; and their feeble gossip is today replaced by the rapid click of the telegraph instruments, the rolling of the steam-driven printing press and the cry of the newsboy at every corner; the events of all the continents are proclaimed in our streets almost as soon as they occur.

And yet from all the luxury and ease, as well as from the anxiety and cares of busy modern days, we like sometimes to escape and get a little nearer to the heart of nature and to adopt a life of rural simplicity not far removed from that which once prevailed at Portland Point, content with some little cottage, remote from the hurry and din of city life in which to spend the good old summer time.”



St. John and its Business One Hundred and Forty Years Ago.

The circumstances under which the trading company of Blodget, Simonds, Hazen, Peaslie, White and Richard Simonds was organized in 1764 have been already described. The original contract is yet in existence and in a very excellent state of preservation. It is endorsed “Contract for St. Johns & Passamaquodi.”[70] A fac-simile of the signatures appended to it is here given.


A short account may be given of each member of the partnership.

Samuel Blodget was a Boston man, somewhat older than the other members of the company, careful and shrewd, possessed of some money and little learning. He had been associated with William Hazen in contracts for supplying the troops on Lake Champlain in the recent French war; there seems to have been also a remote family connection between Samuel Blodget and James Simonds. Mr. Blodget’s connection with the company lasted a little more than two years. During this time a considerable part of the furs, fish, lime and lumber obtained by Simonds and 189 White at the River St. John were consigned to him at Boston. In return Blodget supplied goods for the Indian trade and other articles needed, but his caution proved a source of dissatisfaction to the other partners and Hazen & Jarvis at the end of the first year’s business wrote to Simonds & White, “Mr. Blodget tells us that he never expected to advance more than a quarter of the outsets. We think in this he does not serve us very well, as we can’t see into the reason of our advancing near three-quarters and doing more than ten times the business and his having an equal share of the profits. Pray give us your opinion on that head. You may rest assured that we will not leave one stone unturned to keep you constantly supply’d and believe, even if we should not have the requisite assistance from Mr. Blodget, we shall be able to effect it.” To this James Simonds replies, “With respect to Mr. Blodget’s not advancing more than precisely ¼ part of the outsets is what I never before understood; I am sure by his situation that he can do but a little part of the Business and therefore think he ought to excell in his proportion of Supplys rather than to fall short.”

A second year of the partnership passed and Samuel Blodget became exceedingly serious about the ultimate outcome of the venture. He wrote a letter on the 18th March, 1766, to Simonds & White of which the extract that follows is a part:

“I have been Largely concerned in partnerships before Now but Never so Ignorant of any as of the present, which I am willing to Impute it to your hurry of Business, But Let me Tell you that partners are in a high degree guilty of Imprudence to Continue a Large Trade for Two years without Settling or knowing whether they have Lost a hundred pounds or not—although they may be ever so Imersed in Business, for the Sooner they Stop the better, provided they are Losing money—as it seames in Mr. Hazen’s oppinion we have Lost money—perhaps you may Know to the Contrary. But then how agreable would it be to me (who have a Large Sum in your hands) to know as much as you do. Pray Suffer me to ask you, can you wonder to find me anxious about my Interest when I am so Ignorant what it is in? I am sure you don’t Gent’n. I am not in doubt of your Integrity. I think I know you Both Two well. But common prudence calls Loudly upon us all to adjust our accounts as soon as may be. I have not the Least Line under yours and Mr. White’s hands that the Articles which we signed the first years, which was dated the First of March, 1764,—which was but for one yeare—should Continue to the present Time, nor do I doubt your onour, but Still mortallety Requiyers it to be done and I should take it Coind to Receive Such a Righting sent by both of you.”

Mr. Blodget’s uneasiness as to the outcome of the business was set at rest very shortly after he wrote the above, for on April 5th Hazen and Jarvis tell their partners at St. John:—

“We have purchased Mr. Blodget’s Interest, for which we are to pay him his outsetts. We are in hopes that we shall be able to carry on the Business better without than with him. * * We must beg you would be as frugal as possible in the laying out of any money that benefits will not be immediately reaped from, and that you will make as large remittances as you possibly can to enable us to discharge the Company’s debt to Blodget, for we shall endeavor all in our power to discharge our obligations to him as we do not chuse to lay at his Mercy.”

Thus it appears that if Samuel Blodget’s two years connection with the company was not greatly to his advantage, it did him no material injury. From this time he ceases to have any interest for us in the affairs at Portland Point.


James Simonds, whose name is second among the signers of the business contract of 1764, may be regarded as the founder of the first permanent settlement at the mouth of the River St. John. His most remote ancestor in America was William Simonds of Woburn, Massachusetts. This William Simonds married Judith Phippen, who came to America in the ship “Planter” in 1635. Tradition says that as the vessel drew near her destination land was first described by Judith Phippen, which proved to be the headland now called “Point Judith.” Among the passengers of the “Planter” were the ancestors of many well known families in America, bearing the familiar names of Peabody, Perley, Beardsley, Carter, Hayward, Reed, Lawrence, Cleveland, Davis and Peters. In 1643 Judith Phippen became the wife of William Simonds. The house in which they lived at Woburn, Mass., and where their twelve children were born, is probably yet standing—at least it was when visited a few years since by one of their descendants living in this province. William Simonds’ tenth child, James, was the grandfather of our old Portland Point pioneer. He married Susanna Blodget and their sixth child, Nathan, was the father of James Simonds, who came to St. John. Nathan Simonds married Sarah Hazen of Haverhill, an aunt of William Hazen, and their oldest child James (the subject of this sketch) was born at Haverhill, December 10, 1735.

James Simonds, as mentioned in a former chapter, served in “the old French war” and was with his cousin Captain John Hazen in the campaign against Fort Ticonderoga. His subsequent career we have already touched upon and he will naturally continue to be a leading character in the story of the early history of St. John. He was evidently a man of stout constitution and vigor of body, for he not only survived all his contemporaries who came to St. John, but he outlived every member of the first New Brunswick legislature and every official appointed by the crown at the organization of the province. He passed to his rest in the house he had built at Portland Point at the patriarchal age of 95 years. His widow Hannah (Peabody) Simonds died in 1840 at the age of 90 years.

Of James Simonds’ large family of fourteen children several were prominent in the community. Hon. Charles Simonds was for years the leading citizen of Portland. He was born the same year the Loyalists landed in St. John, and was a member for St. John county in the House of Assembly from 1821 until his death in 1859, filling during that time the positions of speaker and leader of the government. Hon. Richard Simonds, born in 1789, represented the county of Northumberland in the House of Assembly when but twenty-one years of age and sat from 1810 to 1828, when he was appointed treasurer of the province. He filled for a short time the position of speaker of the assembly, and from 1829 until his death in 1836 was a member of the Legislative Council. Sarah, one of the daughters of James Simonds, married (Sept. 10, 1801) Thomas Millidge, the ancestor of the Millidges of St. John; her youngest sister Eliza married (Aug. 9, 1801) Henry Gilbert, merchant of St. John, from whom the members of this well known family are descended.

William Hazen, the third of the signers of the partnership contract, was born in Haverhill July 17, 1738. His great-grandfather, Edward Hazen, the first of the name in America, was a resident of Rowley, Massachusetts, as early as the year 191 1649. By his wife Hannah Grant he had four sons and seven daughters. The youngest son Richard, born August 6, 1669, inherited the large estate of his stepfather, George Browne, of Haverhill. This Richard Hazen was grandfather of James Simonds as well as of William Hazen; he married Mary Peabody and had a family of five sons and six daughters (one of the latter was the mother of James Simonds.) The third son, Moses Hazen was the ancestor of the Hazens of New Brunswick.

The wife of Moses Hazen was Abigail White, aunt of James White who came to St. John. Their sons John, Moses and William have a special interest for us. John, the oldest distinguished himself as a captain of the Massachusetts troops in the French war. He married Anne Swett of Haverhill, and had a son John, who came with his uncle William to St. John in 1775 and settled at Burton on the River St. John, where he married Dr. William McKinstry’s daughter, Priscilla, and had a family of twelve children. J. Douglas Hazen, of St. John, M. P. P., for Sunbury County, is one of his descendants.

Moses Hazen, the second son has been mentioned as commander of one of the companies of the Fort Frederick garrison in 1759; he became a Brigadier General in the American army in the Revolutionary war.

William Hazen, the third son and co-partner of Simonds and White, was born in Haverhill, July 17, 1738. He married, July 14, 1764, Sarah Le Baron of Plymouth.

Their family was even larger than that of James Simonds and included sixteen children. Of these Elizabeth married the elder Ward Chipman, Judge of the Supreme Court, and at the time of his death in 1824 administrator of government; Sarah Lowell married Thomas Murray (grandfather of the late Miss Frances Murray of St. John, one of the cleverest women the province has ever produced) and after his early decease became the wife of Judge William Botsford—their children were Senator Botsford, George Botsford and Dr. Le Baron Botsford; Charlotte married General Sir John Fitzgerald; Frances Amelia married Col. Charles Drury of the imperial army, father of the late Ward Chipman Drury.

Among the more distinguished descendants of William Hazen by the male line were Hon. Robert L. Hazen—popularly known as “Curly Bob”—recorder of the city of St. John, a very eminent leader in our provincial politics and at the time of his death a Canadian senator; also Robert F. Hazen who was mayor of St. John and one of its most influential citizens.

The elder William Hazen died in 1814 at the age of 75 years. His eldest daughter, Mrs. Chipman, died at the Chipman House May 18, 1852, the sixty-ninth anniversary of the landing of the Loyalists and her son, Chief Justice Chipman, died November 26, 1851, the sixty seventh anniversary of the organisation of the first supreme court of the province. The widow of Chief Justice Chipman died the 4th of July, 1876, the centennial of the Declaration of Independence. And finally a William Hazen, of the fourth generation, died June 17, 1885, the same day on which his ancestor left Newburyport for St. John one hundred and ten years before.

The first three signers of the articles of partnership under which business was undertaken at St. John in 1764, viz. Samuel Blodget, James Simonds and William Hazen, had each one-quarter interest in the business, the junior partners, Robert 192 Peaslie, James White and Richard Simonds had only one-twelfth part each. The articles of partnership provided that James Simonds and the three junior partners should proceed to St. John as soon as possible, and there do what business was necessary to be done during the co-partnership, and that Samuel Blodget and William Hazen should remain at Boston an Newburyport to forward supplies and receive what might be sent from St. John or elsewhere by the company. For some reason Robert Peaslie did not go to St. John. He married Anna Hazen, a sister of William Hazen, and settled in Haverhill, retiring not long afterwards from the company. Another of the junior partners, Richard Simonds, lost his life, as already stated, on the 20th January, 1765, in the defence of the property of the company when the Indians were about to carry it off.

In the autumn of the year 1764, Leonard Jarvis, then a young man of twenty-two years of age, entered into partnership with William Hazen at Newburyport and became, by common consent, a sharer in the business at St. John. He was a man of ability and education. The accounts kept at Newburyport in connection with the business are in his handwriting, and he conducted the correspondence of Hazen & Jarvis with Simonds & White in a manner that would do no discredit to a modern business house. In a letter of the 3rd April, 1765, Mr. Jarvis informs James Simonds that “Mr. Peaslie has determined to settle down in Haverhill and to leave this concern, and as by this means and the death of your Brother, in which we sincerely condole with you, one-eighth part of the concern becomes vacant, we propose to let Mr. White have one-eighth and to take three-eighths ourselves—this you will please consult Mr. White upon and advice us. * * * We must beg you will send all the accts. both you and Mr. White have against the Company, and put us in a way to settle with Mr. Peaslie.”

James White, the fifth signer of the articles of partnership, was born in Haverhill in 1738, and was a lineal descendant of the Worshipful William White, one of the well-known founders of the place. He served as Ensign or Lieutenant in a Massachusetts regiment, but after the fall of Quebec retired from active service and entered the employ of William Tailer and Samuel Blodget, merchants of Boston, at a very modest salary, as appears from the following:—

“Memorandum of an agreement made this day between William Tailer & Co., with James White, that we, the said Tailer & Co., do allow him the said James White twenty dollars pr. month as long as the said White is in their service at Crown Point as Clark.

“William Tailer & Co.

“Test: Geo. Willmot.
 “Crown Point, July 1st, 1762.”

James White’s papers, now in possession of a gentleman in St. John, show that he was engaged in the business of Tailer and Blodget at Crown Point continuously from September, 1761, to July, 1763; consequently the statement, commonly made, that he came to St. John with Francis Peabody, James Simonds, Hugh Quinton and their party in 1762 is a mistake.

In the early part of 1764 James White was employed by Samuel Blodget in business transactions in Haverhill, New Salem and Bradford. The first occasion on 193 which he set foot on the shores of St. John was when he landed there with James Simonds and the party that established themselves at Portland Point in the month of April, 1764. The important part he played in the early affairs of St. John will abundantly appear in these pages. He was one of the most active and energetic men of his generation and filled several offices in the old county of Sunbury, of which county he was sheriff. This office seems to have had special attractions for the White family, for his son James was sheriff of the city and county of St. John for more than thirty years, and one of his daughters married Sheriff DeVeber of Queens county. Mr. White was collector of customs at St. John when the Loyalists landed. The emoluments of this office were small, for in the year 1782 only a dozen vessels entered and cleared at St. John, the largest of but 30 tons burden. James White spent the closing years of his life on his farm at the head of the marsh about three miles from the City of St. John. His residence was known as Gretna Green, from the fact that a good many quiet weddings were celebrated by the old squire, who was one of the magistrates specially commissioned to solemnize marriages. He died in 1815 at the age of 77 years.

Having now spoken of the individuals composing St. John’s first trading company, the nature of the business pursued claims a little attention. The task that lay before James Simonds and James White was no easy one. Difficulties, many of them entirely unforseen, had to be faced and the great diversity of their business rendered their situation arduous and sometimes discouraging. At one time the fishery claimed their attention, at another bartering with the Indians, at another the erection of houses for themselves and their tenants, at another the dyking of the marsh, at another the erection of a mill, at another the building of a schooner, at another laying out roads and clearing lands, at another the burning of a lime-kiln, at another furnishing supplies for the garrison at the fort, at another the building of a wharf or the erection of a store-house.

Communication with New England in these days was slow and uncertain and often the non-arrival of a vessel, when the stock of provisions had run low, caused a good deal of grumbling on the part of the hands employed. This was particularly the case if the supply of rum chanced to run out. The wages of the laborers employed by the company were generally 2s. 6d., or half a dollar, a day and they boarded themselves. As a rule the men took up their wages at the store and the item most frequently entered against their names was New England rum. The writer had the curiosity to examine the charges for rum in one of the old day books for a period of a month—the month selected at random—when it appeared that, of a dozen laborers, four men averaged half a pint each per day, while with the other eight men the same allowance lasted three days. Tea, the great modern beverage, was rather a luxury and appears to have been used sparingly and rum, which retailed at 8 pence a pint, was used almost universally. Human nature was much the same in the eighteenth as in the twentieth century. The men often drank to excess, and some of them would have been utterly unreliable but for the fact that Simonds and White were masters of the situation and could cut off the supply. They generally doled out the liquor 194 by half pints and gills to their laborers. On one occasion we find Mr. Simonds writing, “The men are in low spirts, have nothing to eat but pork and bread, and nothing but water to drink. Knowing this much I trust you will lose no time in sending to our relief.”

At various times the privations were exceedingly great and even after the little colony had been for some years established at Portland Point they suffered for lack of the necessaries of life. Mr. Simonds thus describes their experience in the early part of 1770:

“Most difficult to remedy and most distressing was the want of provisions and hay. Such a scene of misery of man and beast we never saw before. There was not anything of bread kind equal to a bushel of meal for every person when the schooner sailed for Newbury the 6th of February (three months ago) and less of meat and vegetables in proportion—the Indians and hogs had part of that little.”

He goes on to say that the flour that had just arrived in the schooner was wet and much damaged; no Indian corn was to be had; for three months they had been without molasses or coffee, nor had they any tea except of the spruce variety.

In one of his letters, written a few months after the commencement of operations at St. John, Simonds urges the careful attention of Blodget and Hazen to their part of the business, observing: “I hope if I sacrifice my interest, ease, pleasure of Good Company, and run the risque even of life itself for the benefit of the Company, those who live where the circumstances are every way the reverse will in return be so good as to take every pains to dispose of all effects remitted to them to the best advantage.”

The first year of the Company’s operations was in some respects phenomenal. On the 30th September, 1764, a very severe shock of an earthquake occurred at St. John about 12 o’clock, noon. The winter that followed was one of unusual severity with storms that wrought much damage to shipping. Leonard Jarvis wrote to James Simonds on April 3, 1765, “There has not been in the memory of man such a winter as the last and we hope there never will be again.” Mr. Simonds in his reply says “The winter has been much here as in New England.”

In the same letter just referred to Mr. Jarvis says: “We hope in future, by keeping the schooner constantly running between this place and yours, that we shall be able to surmount our greatest difficulties. At present we can only say that nothing shall be wanting on our parts (and we are well assured that you will continue to endeavour) to make this concern turn out in the end an advantageous one. It would give us great pleasure could we ease you of part of your burden and know what difficulties you have to go through * * We have sent you by this schooner some table linen and what other table furniture we thought you might have occasion for. If there is anything more wanting to make you not only comfortable but Genteel, beg you would advise us and we will furnish you with it by the return of the schooner Wilmot.”

In reply to this Mr. Simonds writes, “I am obliged to you for sending some furniture, for truly none was ever more barely furnished than we were before. Gentility is out of the question.”

The business of Simonds and White was not confined to St. John, they had quite an important post for the Indian trade and the fishery on an island adjacent 195 to Campobello, now known as Indian Island. And it may be observed in passing that this was an island of many names. James Boyd, a Scotchman who lived there in 1763, called it Jeganagoose—evidently a form of Misignegoos, the name by which it is known to the Indians of Passamaquoddy. A French settler named La Treille lived there in 1688, and this explains the origin of the name Latterell Island, applied to it in early times. In the grant of 1765 it is called Perkins Island. This place owing to its proximity to New England had been the first to attract Mr. Simonds’ notice. The smaller vessels of the Company, such as the sloops “Bachelor” and “Peggy & Molly” and the schooners “Eunice” and “Polly,” were for several years employed in fishing at Passamaquoddy from April to October. The masters of the vessels received £4 per month for their services. The crews employed were for the most part engaged by Hazen and Jarvis and at the close of the season returned to their homes in New England. It was the custom for a year or two for one of the partners, Simonds or White, to attend at Passamaquoddy during the fishing season. From 1765 to 1770 Isaac Marble of Newburyport was their principal “shoresman.” The partners had a keen eye to business; on one occasion they purchased a whale from the Indians and tried out the oil, but this seems to have been merely a stray monster of the deep for, in answer to the query of Hazen & Jarvis, James Simonds writes, “With respect to whaling, don’t think the sort of whales that are in Passamaquada bay can be caught.”

It was from Passamaquoddy that the first business letter extant of the company’s correspondence was written by James Simonds to William Hazen on the 18th August, 1764. The business was then in an experimental stage, and Mr. Simonds in this letter writes, “If you & Mr. Blodget think it will be best to carry on business largely at St. John’s we must have another house with a cellar; the latter is now dug and stoned & will keep apples, potatoes & other things that will not bear the frost, for a large trade; this building will serve as a house and store, the old store for a Cooper’s shop. If the lime answers well we shall want 150 hogsheads with hoops and boards for heads; also boards for a house, some glass, etc., bricks for chimney and hinges for two doors. I think the business at St. John’s may be advantageous, if not too much entangled with the other. We can work at burning Lime, catching fish in a large weir we have built for bass up the river at the place where we trade with the Indians, trade with the Soldiers and Inhabitants, etc. Next winter we can employ the oxen at sleding wood and lime stone, Mr. Middleton at making casks; don’t think it best to keep any men at Passamaquada [for the winter].”

It was the intention of Simonds & White to bring the hands employed at Passamaquoddy to St. John in a sloop expected in the fall with goods and stores, but on the 16th December we find Mr. Simonds writing to Blodget & Hazen, “Have long waited with impatience for the arrival of the sloop; have now given her over for lost. All the hopes I have is that the winds were contrary in New England as they were here all the fall; that detained her until too late and you concluded not to send her. We had a fine prospect of a good trade last fall, and had the goods come in season should by this time have disposed of them to great advantage; but instead of that we have missed collecting the greater part of our Indian 196 debts, as they expected us up the river and have not been here on that account.... I have not heard from Passamaquada for six weeks, but fear they have little or no provisions, and am sure they have no hay for a cow that is there. She being exceeding good, shall endeavor to save her life till you can send hay for her. I shall go there as soon as the weather moderates (it has been intensely cold lately) and employ the men there as well as I can, as they are confined there contrary to intention for the winter, and return here as soon as possible.”

The non-arrival of provisions for the men and of hay for the oxen Mr. Simonds deplores as likely to overthrow all pans for the winter. They had intended to use the oxen to sled wood and lime-stone—a much easier way than carting in the summer. He says, “We have stone dug for 500 hogsheads of lime and near wood enough cut to burn it; that must now lay till carting, and we shift as well as we can to employ our men so as not to have them run us in debt. * * can think of nothing better than to make a resolute push up the river with our men, employ some of them at making lumber, others at clearing land and fitting it for grain in the spring.”

The Company had some formidable rivals at Passamaquoddy for the next spring we find James Simonds telling Hazen & Jarvis, “There is such a number of traders at Passamaquoddy that I don’t expect much trade there this spring: have prevailed with the Commandant at Fort Frederick to stop them going up this river: there has been no passing the falls till now (May 27th) by reason of the freshet. Shall go over this afternoon and proceed directly to Ocpaque, an Indian village eighty miles up the river.”

Notwithstanding the favor shown them by the commandant of the garrison, Simonds & White found rivals in the Indian trade even an the River St. John. Among the earliest were John Anderson and Captain Isaac Caton. The minutes of the council of Nova Scotia show that on August 9, 1763, license was granted Mr. Anderson to occupy 50 acres of any lands unappropriated on the St. John river, and under date June 7, 1765, we have the following:—

“License is hereby granted to John Anderson to traffick with the Tribes of Indians on St. John’s River and in the Bay of Fundy, he conducting himself without Fraud or Violence and submitting himself to the observance of such regulations as may at any time hereafter be established for the better ordering of such commerce. This license to continue during pleasure.”

Anderson selected as his location the site of Villebon’s old Fort at the mouth of the Nashwaak, where he obtained in 1765, a grant of 1,000 acres of land, built himself a dwelling house and established a trading post convenient to the Indian village of Aukpaque, a few miles above. He had the honor to be the first magistrate on the River St. John, his commission dating August 17, 1765; the next appointed was colonel Beamsley P. Glacier, on 15th October, same year. John Anderson obtained his goods and supplies of Martin Gay, merchant of Boston, and one Charles Martin was his bookkeeper and assistant. He called his place “Monkton,” a name it retained for many years.[71] Early in 1768 Anderson had the misfortune 197 198 to lose a vessel laden with goods for the India trade. James Simonds mentions this incident in a letter to Hazen & Jarvis and remarks: “We imagine the loss of Mr. Anderson’s vessel will cause more trade to come to us than we should have had if she had gone safe.”

Captain Isaac Caton was granted a licence “to traffick with the Indians on Saint John’s river and the Bay of Fundy,” on Nov’r. 9, 1765. He probably made his headquarters at the old French trading post on the historic Island of Emenemic, in Long Reach, of which he was a grantee about thus time, and which has since been called Caton’s Island.

Simonds and White did not find the Indian trade entirely to their liking and after a few years experience wrote (under date June 20, 1767), “The Indian debts we cannot lessen being obliged to give them new credit as a condition of their paying their old debts. They are very numerous at this time but have made bad hunts; we have got a share of their peltry, as much as all the others put together, and hope soon to collect some more. There is scarcely a shilling of money in the country. Respecting goods we think it will be for our advantage not to bring any Toys and Trinkets (unnecessary articles) in sight of the Indians, and by that means recover them from their bankruptcy. They must have provisions and coarse goods for the winter, and if we have a supply of those articles, by keeping a store here and up the River make no doubt of having most of the Trade. Shall have a store ready by September next, and hope to have it finished by the last of that month.”


The store was built near the site of Government House and according to Moses H. Perley it was carried away by one of those periodical ice-jams for which the vicinity of St. Ann’s Point has been noted from time immemorial. See illustration on preceding page of a recent ice-jam at this place.

Another store was built and Benjamin Atherton took charge of it. In addition to trade with the Indians he did business with the white settlers under the name and title of Atherton & Co. Furs and produce were frequently transported to St. John from the post at St. Anns in summer in gondolas and in the winter on ice by means of horses and sleds.

The volume of business in the aggregate was quite large for those days. In addition to the exportation of furs and peltry to the value of $40,000, the company sent to New England and the West Indies large quantities of pollock, mackerel and codfish taken in the Bay. The gasperaux fishery at St. John was also an important factor in their trade; in the seven years previous to the Revolutionary war Simonds & White shipped to Boston 4,000 barrels of gasperaux valued at about $12,000. They also shipped quantities of bass, shad, salmon and sturgeon. Perhaps their profits would have been even greater had not many of the men who were at other times in their employ engaged in fishing on their own account. The community was not an ideal one for Mr. Simonds writes: “In the spring we must go into the Weirs every tide to keep our men from selling bait to the fishermen for rum, which is not only attended with the loss of the fish so sold, but of the men’s time who would drink so to excess as not to be able to do anything.”


In the Champlain’s map of St. John harbor and its surroundings a lake or pond is shown at the spot where the Union depot and freight sheds stand today. At the outlet of this pond a dam and tide mill were built by Simonds and White in the year 1766. The mill was put in operation the next season and from that day to this lumber has been one of St. John’s staple articles of export. Primitive as was this saw-mill some difficulty was experienced in procuring proper hands to run it. James Simonds in his letter of June 20, 1767, to Hazen & Jarvis writes:

“The sloop Bachelor did not return from up the River before this morning. We have but few fish; the men that undertook the weirs were very slow and unfaithful, and not only neglected the fisheries but the Mill also, for which reason we have not a full load for the Sloop. The Mill we have not nor shall be able to keep at work without more and better hands; have four less than we ought to have for different branches of work, if all of them was good boys, and with those that are bad must make a bad figure. We have promised 30 to 40 hogsheads Lime to Mr. Best of Halifax and hourly expect a vessel for it, and have encouragement of a contract for the King’s works there; expect nothing but to disappoint him as that rascal negro West cannot be flattered or drove to do one fourth of a man’s work; shall give him a strong dose on Monday morning which will make him better or worse, no dependence can be put on him. * * We want three men, one that understands tending a mill and two teamsters, which we beg you will send in next vessel.”

The correspondence of the partners shows that the manufacture of lime continued to engage their attention. The first kiln was built in rear of the store and dwellings at Portland Point near the base of Fort Howe hill. When James Simonds visited Halifax in September, 1764, he wrote a very interesting letter to Samuel Blodget in which he says: “I have been with the King’s chief Mason; have shewn him a sample of our lime; he likes it well and gives me encouragement that he will take all of me that he wants either for public or private use (he is the only dealer in town) at a rate that will net at St. John’s three dollars or more pr. hogshead.”

Several coopers were sent from Newburyport by Hazen & Jarvis to manufacture hogsheads for the lime business, one hogshead being considered about as much as a man could make in a day. With the view of securing a more desirable class of employees the company began at this time to take into their service married men with families for whose accommodation they built comfortable log houses. Yet even here there were disappointments, as we learn from another of Mr. Simonds’ letters in which he says: “Our help mostly failed us last fall, and the hay season was the wettest that was ever known, which prevented our having a sufficient quantity of lime-stone dug and wood cut to employ the teams to good advantage. * * Old Abbot (the cooper) did not do one day’s work for sixty days after his wife arrived; no dependence can be placed on him, and as Stevens goes a fishing in the Spring on his own account we shall want another cooper and three labourers. It will make a material difference if these men are of a tractable disposition.”

The lime manufactured was shipped to Halifax, Boston and the West Indies, and on one occasion a cargo was sent to Newfoundland.

There is in possession of the Hazen family an inventory of the property 200 of the company at St. John, dated the 12th of February, 1767, which will give the reader some little idea of the nature of the Company’s business and the condition of their trading post at Portland Point at this time. The inventory is as follows:


 Dwelling House 19 by 35, part finished 90. 0.0
1Building 16 by 40, Rough boarded, improved for Cooper’s Shop & Kitchen15. 0.0
1Log Store 20 by 30, without floor20. 0.0
1Barn 24 by 3516. 6.0
1Log house 14 by 18, occupied by Black6.12.0
1House 16 by 20, occupied by Bradley7.10.0
1Well 15 feet deep1.10.0
1Necessary House1.10.0
1Lime Kiln14. 0.0
1Gondalo10. 0.0
1Wherry1. 0.0
2Large Seines14. 0.0
1Cart 100s., 2 Sleds, 18s.5.18.0
1Drag 9s., 1 Harrow 15s.1. 4.0
2Iron bars 20s., 1 Crow-bar 10s1.10.0
3Stone Hammers @ 7s.1. 1.0
4Spades @ 6s. 8d., 3 Shovels @ 3s.1.15.8
1Broad Axe 12s., 6 Narrow Axes @ 6s.2. 8.0
15Old Axes @ 3s.2. 5.0
 Whipsaw 40s., 1 Cross cut do. 30s.3.10.0
4Augers 12s., 3 chisels 6s.18.0
2Iron Squares, 8s., 3 pitch forks 12s.1. 0.0
7Hoes @ 2s. 8d.18.8
1Set Cooper’s Tools2. 5.0
2Nail hammers 3s., 1 plough 18s.1. 1.0
2Scythes @ 6s., 2 pick axes @ 5s.1. 4.0
1Beetle 1s. 6d., 2 Wedges 3s.4.6
160Hogsheads Lime stone at ye Kiln @ 5s. 4d.42.13.4
50Hogsheads at the Quarry dug @ 1s.2.10.0
50Cords wood at Kiln @ 3s. 6d.8.15.0
80Cords wood in ye Woods & 1s. 6d.7. 6.8
 Wire 60s., Spruce Logs at the Water 80s.7. 0.0
84Pine logs at the falls worth22. 8.0
119Pine logs scattered in ye River @ 3s.17. 7.0
8Oxen worth at St. John60. 0.0
3Cows14. 8.0
1Pair 3 year old steers9. 0.0
1Bull 54s., 1 do. 30s.4. 4.0
6Sheep @ 18s., 7 Hogs @ 16s.11. 0.0
1Burch Canoe1. 0.0
2Carpenter’s adzes @ 7s., 2 drills @ 6s.1. 0.0
4Pairs Snow Shoes @ 7s. 6d.1.10.0
2Steel plated handsaws @ 8s.16.0
1Set mill irons7. 0.0
2M Staves shaved and joined4.16.0

There is also an inventory of the goods in the company’s store at this time, which were valued at £613. The goods were such as were needed by the white settlers up the river as well as for the Indian trade. There was quite a varied assortment, yet the many deficiencies indicate the simplicity of living then in vogue.

The list of household goods and chattels, the property of Simonds and White, was a very meagre one indeed. The more common and necessary articles of furniture such as bedsteads, tables, benches, etc., were probably manufactured on the premises by means of the carpenter’s axe, adze, hammer and saw. In addition they had a small supply of bedding, 6 camp chairs, 1 desk, 1 writing desk, 1 lamp, 4 iron candlesticks, 1 ink stand.

Dishes—4 pewter plates, 2 pewter platters, 2 pewter porringers, 2 metal teapots, 8 stone plates, 1 stone platter, 1 stone jug, 1 earthen teapot, 3 china cups and saucers, 2 quart basons, 2 punch bowls.

Cutlery, etc.—1¼ doz. case knives and forks, 1½ doz. spoons, 1 large spoon, 6 silver tea spoons. Kitchen utensils—2 frying pans, 2 tea kettles, 1 chafing dish, 1 cullender, 4 iron pots, 1 brass kettle, 2 quart pots, 2 two-quart pots, 3 pints, 2 tin kettles, 1 pail, 1 pair dogs, 1 shovel and tongs, 1 tea-chest, 1 coffee mill, 2 pairs steel yards, 1 beam scale, 2 sets weights.

The total value of household articles was but £33, 17, 5, and it is doubtful whether the personal belongings of Simonds and White would have added much to the common stock. No wonder James Simonds observed with grim humor, as he described life at St. John in those days, “gentility is out of the question.”

William Hazen was afraid the business during the first year had been unprofitable, and at the end of the year called for a settlement of accounts in order to find out the exact state of affairs. James Simonds wrote: “We are sensible of the necessity of settling our accts. soon, but have always been obliged to work so much abroad as not to be able to have our books posted up, besides the necessity of taking an exact acct. of all goods on hand and making an exact computation of the cost of all buildings and works cannot be hurried over and would require time. We could have had all those things ready, but must have neglected completing preparations for the winter’s work, which we think would be far greater damage to us than the accts. remaining unfinished for a few months and for us to finish them in the winter evenings.”

Doubtless the winter evenings were entirely at their disposal. There were no social engagements to fill, no societies to attend, no places of amusement to while away the hours. The church, the lodge room, the club were reserved for coming generations. Even the satisfaction to be derived from good, general reading was wanting for an inventory of household effects made in 1775 shows that Mr. Simonds owned a Bible and Prayer Book and Mr. White a Bible and a copy of Watt’s psalms and hymns, and the only other book of which mention can be found is an almanac. It would seem that one at least of the partners was fond of fiction, for Samuel Blodget writes in a letter to James White—the latter then at Crown Point—Dec. 8, 1762: “I confess I was a little surprised att your opinion of Roderick Random, for it is allowed by all that I ever heard judg of it, that it is a well wrote Novell.”


No account of the business of St. John during the period of the operations of its finest trading company, would be complete without some mention of its shipping. Naturally it was the day of small things with the future “winter port” of Canada. The ship that bore de Monts and Champlain to the Bay of Fundy in the month of June, 1604, was a little vessel of 150 tons, smaller than some of our coasting schooners of today; but the vessels employed in the business of Hazen, Simonds and White and their associates, were smaller still, ranging from ten to eighty tons burden.

The qualities essential to successful navigation—pluck, enterprise and skill—were admirably displayed by the hardy mariners of New England, the pioneers of commerce in the Bay of Fundy. In their day there were no light houses, or beacons, or fog-horns and even charts were imperfect, yet there were few disasters. The names of Jonathan Leavitt and his contemporaries are worthy of a foremost place in our commercial annals.

The following list of the vessels owned or chartered by Hazen, Simonds and White in their business at St. John, A. D. 1764–1774, is probably as complete as at this distance of time it can be made:

Names of Vessels and Masters.

Schooner Wilmot,William Story.
Polly, Jon. Leavitt, Jas. Stickney, Henry Brookings.
Eunice, James Stickney.
Betsy, Jonathan Leavitt.
Seaflower, Benjamin Batchelder, Jonathan Leavitt.
Sunbury, Jonathan Leavitt, Daniel Leavitt.
Essex; Isaac Marble.
Sloop Bachelor,William Story.
Peggy & Molly, Henry Brookings
Merrimack, Jon. Leavitt, Samuel Perkins, Daniel Leavitt.
St. John’s Paquet, Richard Bartelott, Hen. Brookings, Joseph Jellings.
Speedwell, Nathaniel Newman
Dolphin, Daniel Dow.
Woodbridge, David Stickney.
Sally, Nathaniel Newman.
Deborah, Edward Atwood.
Kingfisher, Jonathan Eaton.

Of the vessels enumerated the schooners Wilmot, Polly, Eunice and Betsy and the sloops Bachelor, Peggy & Molly, Merimack and St. John’s Paquet were owned by the company.

For some years the company paid insurance at the rate of 3 per cent. on the vessels and their cargoes, but the insurance was obtained with difficulty and after a time was discontinued on the ground that the business would not bear the expense.

When the partnership was formed in 1764, the company owned the schooner 203 Polly of 20 tons, the sloop Bachelor of 33 tons, and the sloop Peggy & Molly of 66 tons. The same year Isaac Johnson of Newburyport built for them the schooner Wilmot of 64 tons and James Simonds paid £180 as his share of her hull. Samuel Blodget purchased in Boston a quantity of yarns, strands and cordage, which were delivered by Wm. Hazen to Crocker, a ropemaker of Newburyport, to be worked up for the schooners Polly and Wilmot, the sloop Bachelor and the sloop Peggy & Molly. The company afterwards bought or built the schooners Eunice and Betsy and the sloops Merrimack and St. John’s Paquet. The sloop Merrimack was a square sterned vessel of 80 tons, built at Newburyport in 1762. She was hired for the company’s service in 1767 and purchased for them in 1771 by Hazen & Jarvis for £150. James Simonds says she was then a mere hulk entirely unfit for sea, but after being repaired was employed in coasting to St. John and in carrying lumber to the West Indies. William Hazen and his family had good reason to remember the Merrimack, for it was in this vessel they embarked for their new home in St. John in the month of May, 1775. They were cast away on Fox Island and in addition to the discomfort experienced, many of theirs personal belongings and some valuable papers connected with the company’s business were lost. The crew and passengers were rescued and brought to St. John in a sloop of Captain Drinkwater’s, the captain consenting to throw overboard his load of cordwood to make room for the rescued party and their possessions. Most of Mr. Hazen’s valuables and the rigging and stores of the Merrimack were saved.

The sloop St. John’s Paquet was another vessel that had an unfortunate experience. She made occasional voyages from St. John to St. Croix in the West Indies. In the year 1770 she sailed from St. John with a cargo of lime for Newburyport, having on board William Hazen, who had been on one of his periodical business trips to St. John. Simonds and White asked to have the sloop and cargo insured, but Hazen says the reason they gave, namely, that the paquet was “an unlucky vessel,” did not make any impression on the minds of himself or Mr. Jarvis, and, as it was a good season of the year, they did not effect it. The vessel unfortunately proved true to her reputation. She got on the shoals at Newburyport and taking “a rank heel” got water amongst her lime, which set her on fire. The sloop and her cargo were sold in consequence for £300 where she lay. The vessel was afterwards hired by Hazen & Jarvis and again sent to St. John to load for the West Indies.

The Wilmot proved unfit for the company’s business and on May 23, 1766. Hazen & Jarvis wrote their partners: “We have purchased a very good and valuable cargo for the schooner Wilmot. It consists of oxen, cows, calves, flour, cyder, boards and bricks, and we have sent her under care of Captain Beck to Newfoundland for sale. We hope we will get a good price for her.” This hope was not realized, for the schooner lost her deckload of cattle in a storm and the voyage was unprofitable.

During the earlier years of the partnership the schooners Eunice and Polly, sloop Peggy & Molly and other small vessels were employed from April to October in fishing in the Bay of Fundy and at Passamaquoddy. The correspondence 204 of the company contains many references to this important branch of business, a few of which are to be found in the footnotes below.[72]

The company, finding the fishing at Passamaquoddy declining on account of the multitude of their rivals in that locality, determined to dispose of some of their smaller vessels, and Mr. Jarvis writes to Simonds & White, under date May 23, 1766: “If you think we would be likely to sell the “Peggy & Molly” at Halifax, please to advise us * * * We look upon it in general to be the better way to, sell all vessels when they come to be old and crazy, as we find by experience that old vessels are great moths. Therefore if you can dispose of the sloop Bachelor and schooner Polly, we think you had better do it, provided you can obtain their worth, and we could build such vessels as you shall think will be most advantageous.”

Hazen and Jarvis sold one half of the Eunice for £133 to a Frenchman named Barrere, who sailed with her to the West Indies, where he was detained until the outbreak of the Revolution in America, and this was the last of her so far as the Company was concerned.

Of all the company’s vessels none seems to have done more excellent service than the little schooner Polly. For twelve years she bore an almost charmed life, and in that time was employed in a great variety of ways. At one time a fishing at Annapolis or Passamaquoddy, at another trading with the Indians up the River St. John, at another transporting settlers and their effects from Massachusetts to Maugerville, at another on a voyage to the West Indies.

Hazen & Jarvis for the accommodation of their trade had hired the Long Wharf at Newburyport and the stores on it at an annual rental of £70. In the month of March, 1765, Leonard Jarvis writes of the occurrence of a tremendous gale which was as severe as was ever known and which did great damage to the wharves and shipping. He adds: “We had the schooner Polly drove on one of the wharfs from whence we had to launch her.”

While returning from the West Indies in July, 1776, the Polly was taken by an American privateer sailed by one O’Brien and sent to Newburyport. She was claimed by William Hazen and after some little delay restored to her owners and 205 brought to St. John where she discharged her cargo. Not long after she was again captured and carried to Falmouth, where her super-cargo Peter Smith again succeeded in obtaining her release.

The first vessel built and launched at St. John was the little schooner “Betsy,” the construction of which was undertaken by Simonds & White at Portland Point in 1769. Little did her designers and builders imagine that they were the pioneers of an industry that would one day place St. John in the fourth place among the cities of the British empire as a shipowning port and lead her to claim the proud title of “the Liverpool of America.” And we may note in passing, that at the time of the turning of the first sod of the Intercolonial railway in 1853, employes from seventeen shipyards—1,090 men in all—marched in the procession and shipbuilding had not then attained its greatest development. It was an important industry indeed in its day.

The materials used in building, the Betsy were cut almost upon the spot, and the rigging was sent from Newburyport by William Hazen, while about half the iron was taken from one of the company’s old vessels. One Michael Hodge agreed to build the schooner for 23 1–3 shillings per ton. Adonijah Colby was his assistant. The schooner was launched in the autumn of the year 1769 and named the Betsy in honor of Miss Elizabeth Peabody, who about this time was married to James White. The little vessel sailed for Newburyport with her first cargo on the 3d of February following, Jonathan Leavitt going in her as master. She was sold the next year for £200, and Mr. Simonds expressed his satisfaction at the price as better than he had expected.

This first venture in the line of shipbuilding was followed in due course by others. Jonathan Leavitt and Samuel Peabody in 1773 built a schooner which they called the “Menaguash,” in honor of the old Indian name of St. John, and the following year William Hazen made an agreement with James Woodman and Zebedee Ring to build a vessel at St. John, Woodman’s wages to be art the rate of 4 shillings a day, and the payment in part to be one hundred acres of land at two shillings an acre. The land referred to was situated in the old township of Conway opposite the Indian House—probably at Pleasant Point.

With a view to pursuing the business of shipbuilding William Hazen at the time he settled at Portland Point brought with him one John Jones, a master ship-builder. The outbreak of the Revolutionary war put a stop to every kind of business, but it is said that Mr. Jones’ employers paid his wages for some time in order to retain his services under the expectation that the war would soon be over and they would be able again to build ships. Mr. Jones improved the waiting time by taking to himself a wife, Mercy Hilderick, who had come to St. John on a visit to her sister, the wife of Samuel Peabody. There being no clergyman at hand the ceremony was performed by Gervas Say, a Justice of the Peace for the county of Sunbury, who then lived on the west side of the Harbor in the Township of Conway.



The Old County of Sunbury and its Townships.

A great impetus was given to the settlement of the wilderness parts of Nova Scotia by the proclamations issued by Governor Lawrence in 1758 and 1759 offering free grants of lands to those who would become settlers. In consequence of these proclamations attention was directed to the St. John river. The fertile lands along its borders greatly pleased the men of Massachusetts who explored it, and led to their founding the Township of Maugerville, while, almost simultaneously, Messrs. Simonds and White established their little colony at Portland Point.

The Royal proclamation, issued at the Court of St. James in October, 1763, offering grants of lands to officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers that had served in the late French war, in token of his majesty’s appreciation of their conduct and bravery, had the effect of creating a species of land-hunger which ere long led to a general scramble for the possession of all lands that were of value and were not already appropriated. However, up to the year 1765, only three land grants on the St. John river were recorded at Halifax. Then came the deluge! In the course of the month of October some twenty grants were issued, comprising nearly 750,000 acres of the best land on the River St. John, and immense tracts were granted in other parts of Nova Scotia. Charles Morris, the surveyor general at this time, explains that the vast number of applicants for land and their importunity were due to the fact that the obnoxious “stamp act” was about coming into operation and those desirous of securing lands were pressing hard for their grants in order to avoid the stamp duties.

This land boom, if we may so term it, had the effect at first of stimulating the settlement of the country, but it is, to say the least, very doubtful whether subsequent growth and development were not retarded by the rashness of Governor Wilmot and his council in giving away the unsettled lands from the power of the crown and the people in so prodigal a fashion.

The land grants of this period were usually made under the following conditions:

First—The payment of a yearly quit rent of one shilling sterling to be made on Michaelmas day for every fifty acres, the quit rent, to commence at the expiration of ten years from the date of the grant.

Second.—The grantee to plant, cultivate and improve, or inclose, one-third part within ten years, one-third part within twenty years and the remaining third part within thirty years from the date of the grant, or otherwise to forfeit such lands as shall not be actually under improvement and cultivation.

Third.—To plant within ten years one rood of every thousand acres with hemp, and to keep up the same or a like quantity during the successive years.

Fourth.—For the more effectual settling of the lands within the province the grantees shall settle on every five hundred acres one family at least with proper 207 stock and materials for improvement of the said lands within two years of date of grant.[73]

The arrival of so considerable a number of English speaking inhabitants as came to the River St. John in the course of a few years after Lawrence had published his proclamations, rendered it necessary that measures should be adopted for their government. When Nova Scotia was divided into counties, in 1759, what is now New Brunswick seems to have been an unorganized part of the County of Cumberland. For a year or two the settlers on the River St. John were obliged to look to Halifax for the regulation of their civil affairs, but this proved so inconvenient that the Governor and Council agreed to the establishment of a new county. The county was called Sunbury in honor of the English secretary of state, the third Earl of Halifax[74] who was also Viscount Sunbury.

The first intimation we have of the formation of the new county is contained in a letter of James Simonds to William, Hazen, dated at Halifax, March 18, 1765, in which the former writes: “I am just arrived here on the business of the inhabitants of St. Johns. * * I have seen Captain Glasier, who informs me that he is getting a grant of a large tract of land at St. Johns for a number of officers and that your brother is one of them. St. Johns is made a county [Sunbury] and I hope will soon make a formidable appearance.” The decision of the government in this instance seems to have been consequent upon the visit of Mr. Simonds, who doubtless was supported in his advocacy of the new measure by Capt. Beamsley Glasier. The latter was elected one of the first two representatives of the county in the Nova Scotia legislature, with Capt. Thos. Falconer as his colleague. The announcement contained in Mr. Simonds letter anticipated the action of the governor and council, for it was not until the 30th April, six weeks later, that the matter was carried into effect by the adoption of the following resolution, viz: “That St. John’s River should be erected into a county by the name of Sunbury, and likewise that Capt. Richard Smith should be appointed a justice of the peace for the County of Halifax.” The terms of this grotesque resolution are suggestive of the idea that in the estimation of his excellency and the council of Nova Scotia the appointment of a Halifax J. P. was about as important a matter as the organization of the County of Sunbury, although the latter was as large as the entire peninsula of Nova Scotia.

The County of Sunbury did not, as has been commonly supposed, include the whole of the present province of New Brunswick. Its eastern boundary was a line starting from a point “twenty miles above Point Mispeck, up the Bay of Fundy, 208 being the eastern point of Head Land of the Harbor at the mouth of the River Saint John, thence to run north by the needle till it meets the Canada Southern boundary.”

Captain Beamsley Perkins Glasier was a very important and influential person at this time in the affairs of the new county. He was an officer in the 60th or Royal American Regiment, and subsequently rose to the rank of Lieut.-Colonel. On the 14th December, 1764, Capt. Glasier on behalf of himself, Capt. Thomas Falconer and others, presented a memorial to the governor and council at Halifax for a tract of land to include both sides of the River St. John and all the islands from the lower end of Musquash Island to the Township of Maugerville, and if there was not in the tract any river proper for erecting mills then “as settlements can’t be carried on without, the memorialists pray for any river that may be found fit for the purpose by their committee, with a tract of 20,000 acres of timber land as near the mills to be erected as possible.” Application was made at the same time for a Point or Neck of land three-quarters of a mile from Fort Frederick with 60 acres adjoining to it “for the making and curing fish.” It was ordered by the governor and council that the lands on the river should be reserved for the applicants, but that the point and sixty acres adjoining, situate near Fort Frederick, should be a matter for further consideration. It is not improbable the point referred to was the peninsula on the east side of St. John harbor, on which the principal part of the city stands today. Had it been granted to the applicants at this time it is hard to say what might have been the effect on the future, but very likely St. John, as the “City of the Loyalists,” would have had no existence.

Capt. Beamsley Glasier and Capt. Thomas Falconer were the active agents of an association or society, composed of more than sixty individuals, who designed to secure and settle half a million acres of land on the River St. John. The association included Governor Thomas Hutchinson of Massachusetts, General Frederick Haldimand (afterwards governor of Quebec), Sir William Johnson of New York, Capt. Isaac Caton, Capt. William Spry, Capt. Moses Hazen, William Hazen, James Simonds, Rev. John Ogilvie, Rev. Philip Hughes, Rev. Curryl Smith, Richard Shorne, Daniel Claus, Philip John Livingston, Samuel Holland and Charles Morris. The membership of the association represented a very wide area for among its members were residents of Quebec, Halifax, Boston, New York and the Kingdom of Ireland. A little later the association was termed the Canada Company probably because General Haldimand and some of its most influential members lived in Quebec.

The company obtained in October, 1765, a grant of five townships on the River St. John known as the townships of Conway, Gage, Burton, Sunbury and New-Town, of which all but the last were on the west side of the river. The first three were named in honor of Gen. Henry S. Conway, Secretary of State; Gen. Thomas Gage, who was one of the grantees; and Brig. Gen. Ralph Burton, who was stationed in Canada at the time. The location and extent of the townships may be generally stated as follows:

1. Conway, 50,000 acres, included in its bounds the parish of Lancaster and a part of Westfield extending from the mouth of the river up as far as Brandy Point.


2. Gage or Gage-town, 100,000 acres, extended from Otnabog to Swan Creek and included the present parish of Gagetown.

3. Burton, 100,000 acres, extended from Swan Creek to the River Oromocto, including the present parish of Burton and part of the adjoining parish of Blissville.

4. Sunbury, 125,000 acres, began at Old Mill Creek, a little below Fredericton, and extended up the river as far as Long’s Creek, including the City of Fredericton, the parish of New Maryland and the parish of Kingsclear. A part of this grant (20,000 acres) was added a little later to the Township of New Town on the opposite side of the river.

5. New Town extended about eight miles up the river from the Township of Maugerville on the east side opposite Fredericton and at first contained 20,000 acres, afterwards increased to 40,000.

It is an interesting circumstance that the site upon which Alexander Gibson’s mills at Marysville stand today, was selected by Beamsley Glasier and his associates in 1765 as the most desirable mill site along the St. John river. We even know the names of the pioneers of milling in that locality.

In the month of July, 1766, the sloop, “Peggy and Molly” sailed from Newburyport for St. John and on the way she called at Portsmouth and took on board Capt. Beamsley Glasier and five mill-wrights, Jonathan Young, Hezekiah Young, Joseph Pike, Tristram Quimby and John Sanborn each of whom paid Simonds & White 20 shillings passage money. Soon after their arrival they framed and erected the first saw mill on the Nashwaak, probably the first built by English hands in the province. In September, same year, the “Peggy and Molly” brought a large consignment from New England for Capt. Glasier, including all the mill gear, a quantity of seed corn, barley and garden seeds, some live stock and fowls, household utensils and provisions. Capt. Glasier says in a letter to Wm. Hazen written in August, 1766, “Young and all the Carpenters intend to stay and settle here and he begs you’ll be so good as to acquaint his wife and family of it.” No permanent settlement, however, seems to have been made at the Nashwaak at this time other than Anderson’s trading post at the mouth of that stream.

Shortly after obtaining the grants of their townships the Canada Company appointed Nathaniel Rogers of Boston their treasurer, and Colonel Beamsley Glasier their agent, and levied a tax of one hundred dollars on each member of the company to defray the expenses of management. The conditions of the grants required the grantees to settle one-fourth part of their lands in one year in the proportion of four Protestant[75] persons for every 1,000 acres, one-fourth part in the same proportion in two years, one-fourth in three years and the remainder in four years, all lands remaining unsettled to revert to the Crown.

An immediate attempt was made by Col. Glasier, Capt. Falconer and the more energetic of their associates to procure settlers and improve the lands, but the task was a gigantic one and settlers of a desirable class by no means easy to obtain. The difficulties the Company had to encounter will appear in the references that will presently be made to some very interesting letters and documents that have been preserved respecting the settlement of the townships.


As early as the 27th of January, 1765, the plans of the Canada Company had so far developed that Captain Falconer sent one Richard Barlow as storekeeper to the River St. John, where the company’s headquarters was about to be established under the supervision of Colonel Glasier. Barlow was promised a lease of 200 acres at a nominal rent, and at once removed with his family to the scene of operations. There were frequent business transactions in the course of the next six years between Simonds & White and the agents of the Canada Company, who figure in their accounts as “Beamsley Glasier & Co.”. In the years 1765 and 1766, for example, Mr. Rogers, the treasurer of the Canada Company, paid Hazen & Jarvis £146 for certain goods supplied by Simonds & White at the River St. John.

The value of the lands on the River St. John had not escaped the notice of the keen-eyed pioneers at Portland Point, and in the first business letter extant James Simonds writes to Wm. Hazen, “the lands are very valuable if they may be had.” Again on the 16th December, 1764, he writes, “I have been trying and have a great prospect of getting one or two Rights [or shares] for each of us concerned in our company, and to have my choice in the townships of this River, the land and title as good as any in America.” Hazen & Jarvis manifested much interest in the matter and soon afterwards obtained a footing among the proprietors and promoters of the scheme.

The arrival of Colonel Glasier with his millwrights and carpenters in the fall of 1766 has been already mentioned. The progress made in settling the townships during the first two years was, however, slow and the mills on the Nashwaak were some time in being completed. Simonds & White on the 20th June, 1767, wrote to their partners in Newburyport, “When Col. Glasier left this place he was in such a hurry, the vessel being bound directly to sea, that we could not make a complete settlement, not having the people’s accounts up the River that had worked on the mills, logging, etc. We have inclosed his order for what could be settled. The lots in Gage Town are drawn, Moses and William Hazen Nos. 53, 54, Mr. Simonds No. 12, none of them either the best or the worst in the Township. * * If young cattle are cheap at your place we recommend sending some every opportunity; the growth of them is profitable, and the King’s Instructions to the Government are that three cattle be kept on every fifty acres of land granted.”

The manner of laying out and drawing lots in the townships, as first agreed on, did not work very well and led to a vigorous remonstrance on the part of Capt. William Spry, which is dated at New York, April 11th, 1768. The “remonstrance” appears to have been framed after consultation with others of the committee appointed by the Proprietors to carry on the settlement of the Townships, and its contents were approved at a meeting held the next day. The “remonstrance” was addressed to Rev.’d Dr. Oglevie and William Johnstone, Esq., and to such other Proprietors, or their attornies, as were then in New York. The document is of sufficient historic value to be quoted in full:—


Of Capt. William Spry, one of the said Proprietors, sets forth,—

“That the manner in which the Townships of Gage and Sunbury have been divided among the Proprietors, puts it out of their power to settle their respective 211 shares, the Lots being only sixty-five rods in breadth, and from four to six miles in depth; that therefore no family at the first settling of those lands will go so far back into the Woods as to be deprived of the advantages of the River, and that there is not breadth enough in the lots but for very few families to be accommodated even supposing the Proprietors under the necessity of granting away the most valuable part of their lands, which would probably be the case, as the time allowed to complete the settlement is nearly expired.

“That even granting those long narrow slips of land could be settled, their being situated in so many places (in the several townships) and so different from each other, makes it absolutely impossible for a Proprietor to look after them with that care and attention which the establishing of new settlements must require.

“That the inclosing those several lots must of course be attended with great expense and the fixing their boundaries be very liable to create disputes.

“Capt. Spry therefore proposes the following Plan to the Society, viz.:—

“1st. That every Proprietor shall have his proportion of all the lands in the several Townships (except Conway, as will be hereafter explained) in one Township only, that Townships to be fixed by Ballot.

“2nd. That when the Proprietors have drawn the Township their lot is to be in, they draw again for their particular lot in that Township.

“3rd. That the lots in each Township be divided so as to be as nearly of equal value with one another as possible, the expense of which to be defrayed by the Society in general, in case the division cannot be settled by the survey already taken.

“4th. That all the Islands be divided into sixty-eight lots and drawn for, except Perkin’s Island which is to remain in common among all the Proprietors.[76]

“5th. That the Saw Mill also remain in common among all the Proprietors for Twenty years from the date of the Grant, and then to devolve to the Proprietors of the Township it is in.

“6th. That as the Townships of Gage and Sunbury have been surveyed and the places for the Town Plots fixed by Charles Morris, Esq., surveyor of Nova Scotia, that as ten families were sent to the River last Fall and could get no farther than Fort Frederick, by reason of contrary winds, and therefore are not as yet fixed to any particular Township, and as several other families have been procured to be sent this Spring by different Proprietors, who without an immediate drawing for the respective Townships cannot know to what Township to send their settlers, it is proposed that there should be a drawing for these Townships without loss of time, and also for the lots in the Townships of Gage and Sunbury, in the presence of two Magistrates of this City, which said lots Capt. Spry will undertake to make as equal a division of as the nature of the thing will allow.

“The Division of the Townships among the Proprietors is proposed to be as follows, viz:—


“The Townships of Gage, Burton and Sunbury, containing 100,000 Acres each, to be divided among twenty Proprietors to each Township, which will be 5,000 acres to each Proprietor.

“The Township of Conway, containing 50,000 acres, being conveniently situated for the Fishery, to be divided among all the Proprietors in equal lots and drawn for, which will be about 735 acres to each.

“The tract northwest of Maugerville of 20,000 acres (granted separately) and that of 20,000 acres adjoining, granted with the Township of Sunbury, to be made one Township of 40,000 acres and to be called New-Town, and divided among eight Proprietors, which will be 5,000 acres to each Proprietor, the same as in the other Townships.

“By this method of dividing the townships all the lots will have a sufficient breadth upon the River, and the worst lot there can possibly be among them, will be of more value to any one Proprietor than the five best lots of the several Townships laid out as they are at present.”

Signed W. SPRY.

A meeting was immediately held at the house of George Burns, innholder, in New York, and it was unanimously decided by the proprietors of the townships and their agents, to annul the former division of lands and adopt the proposals of Capt. Spry. In accordance with this decision the proprietors or their representatives, held a meeting on Wednesday the 20th of April, 1768, and in the presence of Dirck Brinckerhoff and Elias Desbrosses, justices of the peace and aldermen of the City and County of New York, made a drawing of the townships in the manner proposed, the result of which appears below.

Map of the River St John in the province of Nova Scotia.
Exhibiting The Grants to Officers &c. in 1765 with other patents.
From the Survey of Mr Chas Morris and other surveyors.


Lot. No.
  1. John Lewis Gage.
  2. Daniel Disney.
  3. John Fenton, Esq.
  4. Beamsley Glasier, Esq.
  5. Dr. Thomas Blair.
  6. James Finlay.
  7. Jacob Jordan.
  8. George Johnstone.
  9. Thomas Clapp.
  10. Oliver Delancey, jr., Esq
  11. Col. Frederick Haldimand.
  12. William Keough.
  13. Rev. Phillip Hughes.
  14. Charles Morris, jr., Esq.
  15. William Johnstone, Esq.
  16. Synge Tottenham.
  17. William Spry, Esq.
  18. George Gillman.
  19. Frederick Haldimand, jr.
  20. Guy Johnstone.


Lot. No.
  1. Alexander John Scott.
  2. Dr. Robert Bell.
  3. Thomas Hutchinson, Esq.
  4. John Collins, Esq.
  5. John Irving, jr., Esq.
  6. John Desbruyeres. Esq.
  7. Francis Greenfield.
  8. Daniel Carleton.
  9. Thomas Smelt, Esq.
  10. Richard Shorne.
  11. George Fead.
  12. Edward Bulkely, Esq.
  13. John Leake Burrage.
  14. Oliver Shorne.
  15. Isaac Caton.
  16. John Norberg.
  17. Hugh Parker.
  18. James Allen.
  19. James Simonds.
  20. Nathaniel Rogers, Esq.


“The Town Plot not being fixed this Township could not as yet be divided into lots, but is to be as soon as possible: the Proprietors who drew the Township were: John Porteus, Thomas Falconer, sen’r, Esq., John York, Esq., Daniel Robertson, Joseph Peach, Esq., William Parker, Charles Pettit, Ralph Christie, Esq., Daniel Claus, Esq., William Evins, Esq., John Campbell, Esq., Joseph Howard, John Cox, Thomas Falconer, jun’r, John Treby, Esq., James Porteus, Richard Burton, John Livingston, Esq., Samuel Hollandt, Esq., Benjamin Price, Esq.


“This Township is under the same circumstances with that of Burton; the Proprietors who drew the Township were: Thomas Moncrief, Esq., Rev. John Ogelvie, D. D., Moses Hazen, James Jameson, William Hazen, Richard Williams, Charles Tassel, Esq., and James Hughes.”

It was agreed that the various islands in the River St. John belonging to the townships should be surveyed as soon as possible and divided into 68 lots. It was also agreed that the Saw Mill, erected or in course of erection in the Township of New Town should remain the common property of all the members of the society for the space of twenty years from the date of the grant, expenses attending the building or repairing of the mill to be borne by all the proprietors of the several townships, and after the expiration of twenty years to become the property of the grantees of New Town.

It will be noticed that in the division of the townships the Rights, or shares, of Moses and William Hazen were drawn in New Town and that of James Simonds in Sunbury. Mr. Simonds evidently was quite satisfied for he wrote to Hazen & Jarvis, June 22, 1768.

“The Township of Sunbury is the best in the Patent and New Town is the next to it according to the quantity of land, it will have a good Salmon-Fishery in the river which the mills are to be built on, which runs through the centre of the tract. The mills are to be the property of the eight proprietors of the Township after seventeen years from this time, and all the Timber also the moment the partition deed is passed.”



The St. John’s River Society.

Since the preceding chapters were printed the author chanced to discover some interesting manuscripts in the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society which throw a good deal of light upon the history of the old townships on the River St. John. It is to be regretted that this discovery was not made a little sooner, but it is not too late to give the reader the benefit of it in a supplementary way.

The association that undertook the settlement of the townships of Conway, Gage, Burton, Sunbury and New-town has been referred to in these pages as “The Canada Company,” but its proper name was “The St. John’s River Society.” The original promoters of the gigantic land speculation—for such we must call it—set on foot at Montreal in 1764, were chiefly army officers serving in Canada, hence the name, “The Canada Company.” When, however, it was determined to enlarge the association by the addition of the names of gentlemen in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Halifax, and when the valley of the River St. John was selected as the place where the most desirable lands were to be had the Canada Company took a new name and was known as “The St. John’s River Society.”

The president of the society was Captain Thomas Falconer, who was at this time at Montreal with his regiment. The most active promoter of the society’s plans for several years, however, was Beamsley P. Glasier. This gentleman has already been frequently spoken of in connection with events on the St. John. He was a captain in the Royal American Regiment and afterwards attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He had previously served in the Fifth Massachusetts Regiment, in which he was commissioned ensign early in February, 1745. The regiment rendered gallant service under Sir William Pepperrell at the taking of Louisburg, and we have abundant evidence of Glasier’s reputation as a brave determined leader in the following document, the original of which is to be found in the archives of the Massachusetts Historical Society:

“AGREEMENT. We whose names are underwritten have enlisted ourselves voluntarily to go on ye attack of the Island Battery at the mouth of the Harbor of Louisburgh provided Beamsley Glaizer is our Capt. on said attack and then wee shall be ready att Half am Hours warning[77]” [Signed by forty individuals.]

Captain Glasier served subsequently under Sir Wm. Johnson and Gen’l John Winslow.

The idea of securing large grants of land in Nova Scotia was taken up by officers of the Royal Americans, the 44th foot and other regiments at Montreal early in the year 1764. Among the promoters were Capt. Thos. Falconer, Capt. Beamsley Glasier, Capt. John Fenton, Rev. John Ogilvie, D. D., (chaplain of the Royal American 215 regt.), Major Thos. Moncrief, Capt. Daniel Claus, Capt. Samuel Holland, Brig. Gen’l. Ralph Burton, Lieut. Wm. Keough, Lieut. Richard Shorne and others.

Captain Glasier seems to have obtained am extended leave of absence from his military duties and for three years most of his time was spent in trying to settle the society’s townships. He sailed from Quebec on the 28th of August, 1764, and after exploring the southern coast of Nova Scotia and entering many of the harbors in order to get “the best information of the Goodness of Land, and Conveniency for carrying on the Fishery,” he at length reached Halifax on the 26th of October. The events subsequent to his arrival we shall let him describe in his own words.

“Upon my arrival I waited on the governor, and gave him my letters; he rec’d me with great politeness and ordered a meeting of Council the next day in order to consult where I should pitch upon a tract of land suitable for such a Grand Settlement, for it is looked upon as the most Respectable of any in the province, and I must say that everybody in authority seem’d to interest themselves in the thing and give me all the advice and assistance in their power. Many Places was talked of, but none was so universally approved as the River St. Johns. It was therefore the opinion of the Council, and all that wished well to the establishment, that I should go across the country to Pisiquid (Windsor), and take passage on board a Vessell that was going from thence with Provisions for the Garrison of Fort Frederick, which I accordingly did, and arrived the 18th of November. * *

“As soon as I arrived I procured a Boat and went up the River above the falls as far as where the good land begins to make its appearance; but an uncommon spell of cold weather had set in and frozen over the small rivers leading into the Main River. * *

“Besides what I saw, which answered exactly with the account I had of it before, I had the best information from the Indians and Inhabitants settled 40 miles up the River and the Engineer of the Fort, who had Just been up to take a plan of the River, so that I was not at a loss one moment to fix on that spot for the settlement.”

Capt. Glasier spent about four days in examining the river. It will be noticed he speaks of “an uncommon spell of cold weather;” nevertheless the river was open for a good distance. This goes to show that the winter season did not begin any earlier 140 years ago than it does today.

Judging by the account of his journey from Fort Frederick to Halifax Capt. Glasier was a good traveller. He says, “We breakfasted at the Fort, dined at Annapolis and walked from thence to Halifax 5 days 145 miles in company with a brother of Lord Byron, who made the tour with me to see the country.”

Beamsley Glasier would have made a good immigration agent, for he certainly describes the country in glowing colors, yet his description of the valley of the St. John is in the main quite accurate and it is exceedingly interesting to have a glimpse of that region in its pristine state.

“The entrance of St. John’s River,” he writes, “forms like a Bay between two points[78] about 3 leagues apart from thence it grows narrower gradually up to the Falls, which is 200 yards broad. The Falls, which has been such a Bugbare, is rather a narrow place in the River than Falls, for at half tide it is as smooth as 216 any other place in the River, the tide then just beginning to make and grows gradually stronger until high water, from that till two hours ebb a Vessell of 500 tons may go up or down. I know of very few Harbours in America that has not a barr or some other impediment at the entrance so as to wait for the tide longer than at St. Johns; here if you are obliged to wait you are in a good harbour out of all danger of bad weather.

“On each side the falls the rocks are high and so continue about four leagues, all Lime stone; then begins the finest Prospect in the world, the Land becomes flat, not a stone or pebble for 60 miles * * the banks something higher than it is a little way in; it runs level from six to twelve miles back and some places farther, such land as I cannot describe. The New England People [in Maugerville] have never plowed but harrowed in their grain, such Grain of all kinds, such Hemp, Flax, &c, as was never seen.”

Capt. Glasier’s description of the interval lands in their virgin state, untouched by the white man’s axe, is particularly interesting. It serves to explain why these lands were not over-run by forest fires and were considered so desirable by the early settlers.

“The trees,” he says, “are all extremely large and in general very tall and chiefly hard wood;[79] no Spruce, Pine, Firr, &c. Neither is there underwood of brush, you may drive a Cart and Oxen thro’ the trees. In short it looks like a Park as far as ever your eye can carry you. The pine trees fit for large masts are farther back and bordering on the small Rivers as I am told by the Indians. These fellows are the most intelligent people I ever saw; near 400 live about 60 miles up the River, and seem to be well pleased at our coming here, I saw all their Chiefs at the Fort. The land on the N. E. side the River has been overflowed sometimes, but it goes off immediately and leaves such a manure as you may imagine—tho’ it has not for several years past; the other side is higher, the lands not so good in general. When I said not so Good I would not be understood to mean that they are not good, for even those are as good as any I ever saw in America, with the same kind and quality of wood, but does not run back so far.

“I suppose we shall have the Proprietor’s Town on the west side, tho’ the New England People are all settled on the other side. The whole Country abounds with Game; there is likewise plenty of Moose weighing from 1000 to 1500 lbs. each, fatt and finer than beef, which you may kill every day. Wild fowl of all kinds, cocks, snipes, and partridges are so plenty that the Gentlemen who was with me swore that it was no sport, as we could shoot 3 or 4 at a shot. An Indian made me a present of a pair of horns of a small Moose as he called them, for he assured me that some was twice as heavey. These measured 5 feet and 2 inches and weighed 33½ lb., judge you the biggness of the owner.

“Upon the Interval land you have a long kind of Grass[80] which the Cattle in that country fatten themselves upon. I never in my life saw fatter beef than one I saw killed there, & the New England People vowed that the heiffers of the same breed that had a calf in Boston at 3 years old came in at 2 years at St. Johns, so much they improved in growth and Wantonness as they called it.

“Their Hoggs and Sheep they keep on the Islands, which are overflowed generally when the River brakes up which is commonly about the middle of April. This overflowing leaves these Islands so rich that the Hoggs grow fatt by eating 217 Ground nuts without any other food in summer (in our Grant we have some of these Islands) nor do they put up their Horses in the Winter, except those that work, tho’ you may cut any quantity of Grass. Can I say more of the Soil, Trees, situation, &c.? Be assured it is all True.”

“The fish is the next thing. This River abounds with all sorts of small fry, Trout, Salmon, Bass, Whitefish & Sturgeon. The Bass is ketcht in Wiers just under the Point below the Fort, so that good voyages may be made in that branch; all the expence is in making the Wiers, and as to Sturgeon they are more remarkably plenty than any place upon the Continent, and if there was persons that understood pickling them it would be a very profitable undertaking and fetches ready money in London.”

The Glasier letters (which have just been printed in the Collections of the N. B. Hist. Society) show that before Beamsley Glasier left Montreal, as the accredited agent of the St. John’s River Society, there had been a good deal of discussion about the location of the townships it was desired to procure and settle. It was ultimately decided that this matter should be left to the discretion of Captain Glasier after he had made a personal examination of certain localities and obtained reliable information respecting the ungranted lands in Nova Scotia. Glasier wrote from Halifax on the 15th December, 1764, to Captain Thos. Falconer and the Society’s committee at Montreal, informing them of his selection of the valley of the River St. John as by all odds the most desirable situation. He says:

“When I compare this place to any other we ever thought of I am surprised it had not been fixed on before I came away. The island of St. Johns (or Prince Edward Island) is not good land, besides being so far to the northward it is too exposed if a war should happen, as is all up the Gut of Canso, Bay Challeurs, etc. Besides the whole of that part of the country, as well as all the coast to the head Cape Sable and up the Bay of Fundy, is bound with fog almost three months in the year. In this River you have none above the falls, nor have you Musquitos here in any sort of comparison to any other part of this country. Besides you are so near the settled parts of New England that you may sail with a good wind to Boston in 30 hours, or if you have a mind to coast along shore you may harbour every 4 or 5 Leagues all the way to Boston and that all winter. I think we are very happy not to settle on the Lake where we proposed, for if we had anything to send to market it would take more time and be a greater risk to get it out of the River St. Lawrence than to go from here to Europe.”

On the 1st March following Capt. Glasier addressed a letter to John Fenton of Boston informing the members of the Society in that quarter of the success of his subsequent proceedings. He apologizes for the tardiness of his communication by saying, “I have put off writing, as the world puts off Repentence till the last moment.” Glasier is very enthusiastic as to the outlook.

“The interval lands on the St. John,” he says, “are wonderful, not a stone and black mold 6 feet deep, no underwood, large tall Trees all hardwood; you may drive a Coach through the Trees, we can cut what Grass we please and we may improve the land immediately; in short I can’t describe it to you. * * * * I hope we shall be able to begin something this summer, there is the D—l and all of people applying for lands in this province. There is now settled 50 families just above us, all Yankys[81]; they are not very good Farmers you know but they raised fine grain last year.”


In the choice of the St. John river valley as the best situation for the townships that were to be laid out and settled, Beamsley Glasier seems to have been guided very largely by the advice of Charles Morris, the surveyor general of Nova Scotia, and his son Charles Morris, junior. The younger Morris had a personal interest in the Society and Capt. Glasier writes of him:

“Mr. Morris’s son is one of our Proprietors and is to go with me in April to survey the whole tract I have asked for. He is Deputy to his Father and very clever, as you’ll have occasion to know hereafter. We propose setting out from Halifax about the beginning of April and take a survey of Port O’Bear[82] on our way to St. Johns. I imagine the whole will take us a great deal of time as we shall go up all the small rivers. I have engaged a little schooner for the purpose. As places for our Mills and good Timber, oak as well as pine, is a great object, and as Mr. Morris is a Conesieur in the Goodness of Lands, if we don’t fix upon convenient spots to answer all our purposes it will be our faults.”

The task of surveying and exploring proved of greater magnitude than Glasier had anticipated, and at the end of the summer the Surveyor General of Nova Scotia and his son had only been able to make a general sketch of the river and townships, not an accurate survey, and Glasier expressed the opinion that it would be a work of two years at least before the River would be thoroughly known. Just how much time was spent in the work of exploration and survey we do not know, but the younger Morris spent three months in the summer of 1766 surveying the townships of Gage and Sunbury, and in addition to this he says: “The Surveyor General and myself expended more than a Hundred Pounds Sterling of our own Money in surveying the River last year.”

Captain Glasier was very desirous of obtaining the best lands on the river and he states frankly, in one of his letters, “what we want is the good lands only, or as small a quantity of the bad as is possible.” He was not ready to make definite application for lands, therefore, until he had ascertained the whereabouts of all lakes, ponds, sunken and bad lands, etc., in order to avoid paying quit rents to the crown for that which was not improvable.

Meanwhile trouble was brewing at Halifax, and it was only by the good offices of Governor Wilmot, Charles Morris, sr., and other members of the Council that the St. John River Society was saved from disaster. We get an idea of the threatened danger in a letter of Hon. Michael Francklin to Captain Glasier of July 22, 1765, in which great concern is expressed that Glasier had not yet made his choice of the lands he desired. “You cannot conceive how the Government is embarrassed,” writes Francklin, “by the daily applications that are made. We have no less than three agents from Pennsylvania who are put off on your account. * * * My dear Sir be thoroughly persuaded that no set of people will have the preference to your Gentlemen in anything that can be done for them, but pray do reflect and consider the Government here and our situation, how disagreeable it is to lock up a whole River, sufficient for fifty Townships, and people applying every day that we are obliged to put off until you are served. Consider what a risque 219 the Government runs of losing a number of valuable settlers. I beg of you, on my own account and as one who has the welfare and prosperity of the Province at heart, that you will by some means or other make your choice as soon as possible and transmit it to the Governor.”

Captain Glasier comments on this in a letter to Nathaniel Rogers of Boston. “Some of the Council are wanting to establish those companies belonging to Philadelphia who are waiting at Halifax, as you’ll see by the inclosed letter from one of them to me. I see through the whole, the Governor[83] keeps them off till I return.”

By the advice of Governor Wilmot the society filled up the number of their Proprietors to sixty and at once began to make preparations for the settlement of the lands promised, and which were granted in the month of October, 1765. Glasier advised the establishment of a magazine of stores at Fort Frederick, also the sending of horses, cattle, sheep, and swine, with any settlers they could procure, as soon as possible. He adds, “As young strong Fellows might be hired in Canada for 120 livres a year, 20 of them might be hired and sent here next spring; the Canada horses are much the best for this country * * * The men you hire will be able to hew or cut timber for your houses, clear the land where you have the Town, provide a covering for the cattle, and cut hay, raise potatoes for your hogs—there is a Spanish potatoe in this country that yields so much that a boy of 12 years old will raise as many as will keep 20 hogs, they are made use of for that purpose throughout all New England. * * The Iron for Saw Mills I think should be bought in Canada as that Iron is so good. Any French that have taken the oath of allegiance may become your settlers.”

An assessment of £30 was now ordered to be made on each member of the Society to meet necessary expenses. The Rev. Dr. Ogilvie of New York was chosen as Treasurer. Richard Barlow, late a sergeant in the 44th regiment, was appointed store keeper at St. John. Capt. Falconer, who sent him from Montreal, described him as “a steady man used to business of that nature, who proposes to be a settler, has a family and some money to enable him to begin tolerably well.” Barlow was to receive 12 shillings N. Y. currency pr. week and “oneration of provisions,” also 200 acres of land and a town lot. He was directed to proceed from Montreal to Boston and there take upon him the care of the tools, utensils, materials and stores of all kinds and embark with them for the River St. Johns in Nova Scotia.

A large assortment of materials, stores, tools and other articles were purchased by Nathaniel Rogers in Boston, including mill geer, carpenter’s tools, farming implements, also three yoke of oxen and tackling necessary for drawing logs, etc. These were shipped to St. John in the schooner “Lucy,” James Dickey, master, “consigned to Richard Barlow storekeeper at St. John’s and passenger on board for the use of the St. John’s society.”


Capt. Glasier’s expectation was that a majority of the settlers of the township might be expected from New England. He says, “There is a number of Families from N. England come this summer (1765) on a presumption that there was sufficient land to be had, as one Peabody and his associates had settled themselves the same way about four years ago and had a great struggle to get their Grant this year after all their improvements. These people want to become our settlers, but it is not possible for me to settle them for I can’t tell them, ‘fix your selves on such a spott and it shall be yours;’ no, the lands must be lay’d out in proper form, lots No. 1, 2, 3, &c., and drawn for. The people are waiting for my answer, as I have told them there will be lands for them when we can come into a proper method. They have all got stock and all materials to carry on farming and will want no help from us.”

The difficulties experienced by Capt. Francis Peabody and his associates in securing their lands at Maugerville have been referred to already—see page 154—but further light is thrown upon the matter in the appendix to this Chapter, in which will be found the memorial of the Maugerville people to the Lords of Trade and Plantations, together with a letter addressed to Joshua Mauger by Charles Morris and Henry Newton, who had been sent to the River St. John by the Governor of Nova Scotia to investigate the situation.

An important meeting of the members of the St. John’s River Society and their representatives was held at New York on the 3d of June, 1766, when it was decided that steps should be taken as soon as possible for dividing the lands belonging to the society; that a surveyor should be employed to lay out the town either at Grimross or some other place more convenient or proper for the purpose; that a grist and saw mill should be immediately built on “Nishwack creek”; that Captain Glasier should agree with proper persons to build the mills, lay out the town, survey the lots for division and take possession in due form of all grants (including the island called Perkins Island, in the Bay of Passamaquoddy) in,the name of the Society. It was further decided that as a sum of money was required for the expenses of surveying and dividing the lands into lots, building the mills, etc., that the second year’s subscription money should be paid on or before the 24th of August.

Two sites were regarded with favor for the town, Grimross and St. Ann’s Point. Both places had been originally cleared and settled by the French. Glasier states in one of his letters: “At Grimross there is timber and lime, which the French had prepared to build a church; there is cleared land three miles in length, an old settlement where our Principal Town must be built, if we can’t have St. Anns Point, which is the finest spot on the River for our purpose. There are many difficulties to surmount, which you will know hereafter; there is but one good stream on all the River fit to erect Mills upon, which I have got for us, and, between ourselves, have been obliged to pop them between two other grants (by the assistance of Mr. Morris). There is about 100 Families in the Township of Peabody, they have not one mill of any kind, nor can there be; they have been obliged to bring all from New England. These mills must be our first object; we shall be able to furnish our neighbors with Lumber as well as ourselves. I have 221 arranged for the Timber and all other materials to be prepared and inclose you Mr. Simonds estimate of the cost. * * * Mr. Simonds is perfectly acquainted with the business of Saw-mills and knows every minivar [manoeuvre] belonging to them. I think we are lucky in having him on the spot to manage so material a part of our establishment. These Mills properly managed will pay for themselves at least four times a year, besides we can’t carry on our Settlement without them.”

James Simonds’ estimate of the cost of the mills will be found in the letter which follows. It was probably considerably under the mark for people are usually optimistic in such things:—

“Passamaquoddy, August 20th, 1765.

“Sir,—Agreeable to your desire I have made the nearest calculation I could of the cost of two mills and dam on Nashwog River, and am of opinion that two hundred pounds currency will complete them. The first cost is very great, which will be mostly for the dam, yet as the stream is sufficient for an addition of three or four mills on the same dam, it will be cheaper in the end than to build the same number of mills and a dam to each on small brooks that will be almost dry near half the year.

“I must advise you Sir to have your Iron work made of the best Iron, as breaches in any part of mills is of fatal consequence to the profit of them. I have sent the dimensions of the cranks, knowing it to be the practice in New England to make them so small as to retard the business of sawing, besides frequently breaking—the breaking of one may be a greater damage than the cost of two. I have described them something large, but think you had better exceed the size than fall short of it.

“The best workmen will be the cheapest as the whole depends on the effectual laying the foundation of the dam, etc. I make no doubt but when the mills are completed they will saw at least 5 M boards pr. day.

“I am Sir, your most obedient servant,


It may be noticed, in passing, that Mr. Simonds writes from Passamaquoddy. The headquarters of the trade and fishery there was at Indian Island, or as it was sometimes called, Perkins Island. Mr. Simonds and Wm. Hazen were members of the St. John’s River Society and it would appear from Capt. Glasier’s letter to Nathaniel Rogers of 10th Nov’r., 1765, that the Society had ambitious designs with regard to this locality. “Our Fishery at Passamaquoddy,” writes Glasier, “is an object worth our attention; it is the best in the province. A Block-house will be built there next spring and I can get a party from the Fort sand some small cannon which will secure the Fishermen against any insult from the Indians. This spot is more valuable than you can imagine. I was promised by some of the principal Fishermen belonging to New Hampshire if I got a grant of this Island they would came to the number of 100 families with all their crafts, etc., and become our settlers at Saint Johns, and if we get Grand Manan[84] it will give us a chain of Harbours all the way to Mount Desert, which will be all we want.”


The avidity manifested by the agent of the St. John’s River Society in seeking favors at the hands of government would seems to countenance the idea, suggested in the preceding chapter of this history,[85] that when he memoralized the government of Nova Scotia for a grant of “the Point or Neck of land bearing three quarters of a mile from Fort Frederick, with 60 acres of land adjoining to it, for the making and curing Fish,” he had in view the valuable peninsula on the east side of the harbor of St. John, on which the principal part of the city now stands; but further investigation shows that this is not the case and that the point of land meant was the neck adjoining the fort, on the Carleton side of the harbor.[86]

We have ample testimony as to Beamsley Glasier’s zeal and energy as director of the affairs of the St. John’s River Society. Charles Morris, junior, says of him, “Capt. Glasier has done everything that was possible for any man to do, and more than any one else in his situation would have done to serve the Society,” adding that he had not been properly supported, and if he had retired “there would have ended the Grand Settlement of St. John’s River, for as soon as he had left it, in all probability the Indians (who have been made to believe our Dam will destroy their Fishery) would have burnt and destroyed all that has been done this summer at the Mills, and before we could build other mills and get things in so good a way again the lands would be forfeited, for there will be a court of Escheats held and all the lands that have been granted in this province that are not settled and improved agreeable to the express condition of the Grant will absolutely be declared forfeited.” “But,” he continues, “I can’t imagine the Society will suffer theirs to be forfeited, for I am well convinced that less than £30 sterling from each proprietor will build all the mills, divide all the lands and pay every expense that has attended the settlement from first to last; and each proprietor will then have 7,000 acres of good land laid out into lots, mills built and everything ready and convenient to carry on and make a fine settlement of it.”

Glasier rarely complained of the difficulties with which he was confronted, but on one occasion be admits “I am in a very disagreeable situation and am heartily tired of it, and was it not for ingaging in the Mills, would curse and quit the whole business. I have not been well treated; to agents for all the Philadelphia and other Companys have been genteely appointed and every expence paid with honor. What I have done by myself has been ten times more than they all together and the expence not the fifth part in proportion.”

Whilst engaged in his work on the River St. John, Glasier was obliged to make occasional trips to Boston, taking passage usually in the vessels of Hazen, Simonds and White. The excitement produced in New England by the operation of the obnoxious Stamp Act gave him some concern. He writes in November, 1765, “I have some things to settle with the Governor & Council next time they 223 sit, that prevents my going to Boston by this vessel, but I shall go the next time she sails, if you Boston people don’t burn her, which I should be very sorry should happen as she carrys no stamps. My heart bleeds for my Country, what will be the end of all this?”

Two projects especially claimed Glasier’s attention in the summer of 1766: The first the founding of a town, the second the building of his saw-mill. “I propose,” he says, “to lay out the Town at Grimross in 80 squares, in addition to public squares; then they are to be numbered and drawn for by some person on the spot in the form of lottery tickets, which I shall have sent to the proprietors so that we may fix as many families as can be had this Summer on the Town lots. * * I must have young Mr. Morris from Halifax to survey and lay out the Town, as nothing can be done at Grimross before he arrives.”

In connection with the erection of the Nashwaak mills Capt. Glasier acknowledges his obligation to Hazen & Jarvis of Newburyport. He says: “They have procured me men to build the mills and stores of all kinds for the workmen.” The mill geer came this season, but on the 25th October Glasier writes, “The mills won’t be finished this fall, it is such a work it was not possible to get through with it. * * * * My time has been divided between the Mills and the Surveying. I am condemned to tarry here this winter and can know nothing of what is doing in the world.”

On the 2nd February following, he writes Mr. Nath’l Rogers of Boston, “We are now employed in getting logs to the mills. I hope we shall get them going early in the summer. They will begin to pay something of the expense before the fall. It’s impossible for me to tell you in a letter the expenses of the different branches of business which I am obliged to carry on to complete the whole. It is not only building mills, surveying, etc., but clearing up the land, building houses, making roads, hiring oxen (for we have not half enough of them) and in fine so much I shall never pretend to write it. James Simonds, Esq., who is the Bearer of this, will be able to inform you much better than I can. * * * I am determined to finish what I have undertaken and then quit it. I am not in the best situation in the world, as I believe you’ll think when I tell you I am not only shut out from all society and know nothing of what is carrying on in the world, but my stores are all expended, nor is there one thing to be bought here, pray send me last year’s magazines and some English newspapers as well as the Boston ones. * * * I should be glad if you’d send the oxen, they may be not old nor of the largest kind but good to draw. I pay half a dollar a day for each yoak I hire so that they’ll almost pay for themselves in one year in work. Those that we have here have worked more than one hundred days since I came, so that if we had been obliged to have hired them at the rate I pay others it would amount to a large sum. Twelve is the least that can be employed always at the mills hauling logs, as they will cut 8,000 feet a day, I am told, when they are finished. * * * * I told you I would not write you a long letter, as there is nothing I hate so much; it’s the D——l to have ten thousand things to say.”

Beamsley Glasier’s connection with the St. John river was now drawing to a 224 close. In the summer of 1767 he went to New York where we find him engaged, in company with the Rev. Dr. Ogilvie, in collecting the second annual subscription from the members of the society. The military gentlemen proved very dilatory in paying their subscriptions. Whether Capt. Glazier became disheartened at the outlook, or whether he received peremptory orders to rejoin the Royal American Regiment is uncertain. But about the end of August, 1767, James Porteous, representing the Montreal committee, wrote to Nathaniel Rogers: “We are now informed Capt. Glazier is at New York on his way to join his Regiment, it therefore becomes necessary to appoint another person to transact the Society’s business, for which purpose we have appointed Mr. James Simonds, one of the Proprietors, agent with whom you will please correspond on any occurrence regarding the settlement.”

Messrs. Hazen & Jarvis, as well as their partners at St. John, manifested great interest in the attempts of the Society to settle their townships. Many details are mentioned in their letters, such as those contained in the following to James Simonds. These details may appear of little importance, yet everything that throws light upon the methods employed in peopling a new country ought to have an interest for after generations. In explanation of the subject matter of the letter below it should be mentioned that Philip John Livingston and others of the more energetic proprietors of the townships were sending settlers, from New York, and other places to the River St. John.

Newburyport, Octo. 8th, 1767.

“We wrote you last Sunday by a sloop that came in here from New York for some cattle, sheep and hogs. She took on board the cows; the hogs and sheep go by this vessel. There is ten families [of settlers], each of which was to have 1 cow, 1 sow, and 6 sheep, but as they thought it necessary to have one of the hogs a boar, and it was impossible to procure all the creatures of an equal goodness, we must beg you will assist them (if they need it) in the division of them. There was put on board this sloop 90 bushels of ears of corn, 60 of which is on the Company’s account and 30 for these families’ hogs, so that what may be more than 60 bushels upon their arrival with you, please to deliver with the hogs. The freight of these hogs and sheep we shall charge here.

Mr. White is arrived with our Wm. Hazen and writes you by this vessel. We suppose he will tell you that we think it will not be best to build a vessel with you this winter.

We have sent all we could procure of your memo. by this, vessel—the remainder will come by Mr. White who will sail the last of next week. You will observe there are seven hogsheads of rye and Indian corn wanting of the number in the invoices. These we took out to get ground and you shall have them when Mr. White goes.

Please to get as much lime as possible on board Capt. Newman, as we have agreed with him to land it in Portsmouth, you will therefore please to consign him to Mess. John & Temple Knight in that place.

There are 100 sheep on board the sloop which cost upon an average about 6s. 10d. a head. Now as the ten families who came from Now York were to have 60 ewe sheep (and as they chose a ram or two in the number) you will please to deliver them their number out of the old sheep which we shall charge at seven shillings per head. There is a very likely ram on board (without horns) which we bought of Capt. White for the Company. This you will take care of.


Since writing the above we have been getting the sheep on board and find several very old, which please to take for the Company’s use, and we will get an abatement made by the person whom we bought them of and who has deceived us in them.

Please to dispatch Newman as soon as possible as he has been detained here longer than he ought to have been. What will be wanting to fill up Newman besides the lime please to make up in lumber.

We would recommend it to you not to tarry till Mr. White’s arrival with you before you go up the River.

Mr. Pickard and Mr. Hartt will give you an account of what freight they have on board which you will receive of them at the customary rate.

 We are Sir,
 Your sincere Friends and devoted hum, Serv’s.


To Jas. Simonds, Esq’r.

Philip John Livingston, who has been mentioned as a promoter of the settlement of the townships, was a member of a distinguished and wealthy New York family. His mother was Catherine de Peyster and his wife a daughter of Samuel Bayard. His brother, John W. Livingston, and his wife’s brother, Abraham de Peyster, were both captains in Col. Edmund Fanning’s King’s American Regiment during the Revolutionary war. Philip John Livingston was himself high sheriff of Dutchess County, Now York, and during the Revolution held several important positions under British authority in the City of New York. His father, brothers and sons were all Loyalists.

About the close of the year 1767 Col. Glasier wrote from New York, seemingly in excellent spirits at the prospect of speedy settlement of the lands. “He informs us,” writes Leonard Jarvis, “that one hundred families will go down next year to settle on the St. John river—that a vessel from Ireland will arrive there this fall—that Mr. Livingston, a gentleman of fortune, has purchased three shares, and that the Patent is daily getting into fewer hands. This gives us encouragement to think that some time hence our interest in your River will be valuable.”

Among the proprietors of the townships who labored to effect their settlement and improvement was Richard Shorne, a native of Ireland, with whom were associated the Rev. Curryl Smith of Alminsta, West Meath, Ireland, and his sons John and Robert Smith of the city of Dublin. Mr. Shorne took up his residence at the River St. John in 1767 and lived there for several years. He was on July 8, 1768, returned a member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly for Sunbury county, his colleague being Phinehas Nevers of Maugerville. He seems to have made his headquarters at or near St. Anne’s Point, where supplies were sent to him from Newburyport by Hazen & Jarvis.

Simonds & White informed their partners at Newburyport in a letter dated June 22, 1768, that they had been obliged to make considerable advances out of their stores to some settlers that Mr. Livingston had sent to the St. John river. Livingston it seems found fault with certain items charged to him in the accounts and this led to a rather indignant remonstrance on the part of Simonds & White. They wrote, “We are surprised that he should mention anything as to the sums not being due, when not only that but near as much more has been advanced to 226 save the lives of the wretched crew he sent. We have ever found that the doing business for others is an office the most unthankful, and equally unprofitable.” In the same letter mention is made of the arrival of Richard Shorne at St. John, with some families from New York, to settle his own and other lands for which he was agent. It appears that James Simonds introduced Richard Shorne to his friends at Newburyport for in one of his letters he writes: “Mr. Shorne, the bearer of this, is a Proprietor in our Lands and has left Ireland with an intention of settling a number of Rights on this river and for that purpose is invested with power from his friends to draw on them for any sum that may be necessary. I must beg your kind assistance and advice on his behalf as he does not appear to be much acquainted with the settlement of Lands.”

Still another extract—this time from a letter of Philip J. Livingston to James Simonds, will throw additional light upon the story of the townships.

“New York, September 12, 1769.

Sir, * * *

I intreated the favour of you last year to procure two families for Sir Charles Dabers, who purchased the Right of James Allen, No. 18, in Sunbury Township, and desired Peter Carr might be fixed in that Township. If Sir Charles’s families will accept of the same quantity of land as Captain Spry’s and Mr. Morris’s have done, I should be glad the lots were laid out in the same manner for them. I have only to add with respect to Sir Charles’s two families that you will be pleased to furnish them with such provisions as may be necessary for their subsistence and draw for the amount. As to my families Hendrick and Baker, and West—who I am desired to attend to and who I am informed talk of prosecuting me—be pleased to furnish the ungrateful fellows, if they mend their manners, in such manner as best consists with strict frugality—for the large sums I have expended in the purchase of my several Rights and in prosecuting schemes of settlement (together with the sums I have been under the necessity of advancing to the Society, and still must advance to discharge a protested will of Glaziers, in this extreme scarcity of current specie) makes such an order prudential.

I hope you have taken the cattle from Brooks, or received the worth of them for me and be pleased to inform me particularly of the state of the families. You no doubt will hear from Halifax of our petitioning the Government to confirm our division of lands and therefore shall say nothing about it but refer you to Capt. Spry and Mr. Morris.

As soon as the committee of Montreal will be pleased to furnish us with cash we shall write to you about finishing the Mills: till then nothing need be said about it. I should however be glad to know what sum you think would put the Mills in working order. I intend, and it is my fixed resolve to be on St. John’s River as soon as the weather will permit in the Spring, which will be about the 1st of May. If Mr. Ogilvie should not send you an order to furnish James Marrington with provisions—who was to settle General Burton’s Right—I think it advisable to take that family for Sir Charles Dabers, as General Burton is dead, and the family without credit can’t subsist.

 I am, Sir,
 Your Much Obliged
 And Very Humble Servant,


We may be pretty certain,that the complaints of the settlers mentioned by Livingston were not entirely unreasonable. They had not anticipated the hardships 227 before them and were ill prepared to grapple with them. Probably the attractions of the River St. John had been represented in an exaggerated form, a circumstance not unknown in the case of promoters of colonization of a more recent date than that we are at present considering.

Peter Carr and Thomas Masterson, two of Livingston’s tenants, settled on the west side of the river opposite Musquash Island; both seem to have proved good settlers. John Hendrick, one of Livingston’s “ungrateful fellows,” was also a valuable settler; he was the father of five sons and Major Studholme commended him in 1783 as “a good subject, an old soldier and a very deserving man.” Henry West, another of Livingston’s settlers, is also commended by Major Studholme as an exceedingly good subject.

Notwithstanding the efforts of individuals, the progress made by the Saint John’s River Society in the settling of their townships was unsatisfactory, and about this time Hazen & Jarvis expressed their conviction that half of the proprietors would not settle their lands at all; they therefore desired Simonds & White to take such measures as would secure their own Rights in Sunbury and New-Town as well as those of Moses Hazen and Governor Thomas Hutchinson—that of the latter having been lately purchased for Mr. Jarvis. Simonds & White seem to have agreed with their partners as to the improbability of settling the townships, for in July, 1770, they write: “The Society’s Lands will be forfeited if not settled this year. We think it best to engage as many families, and fix them in Conway, as will secure our whole interest on the River, if they can be had.” This advice was based on the opinion of the authorities at Halifax that settling the required number of families in one township would quite as effectively protect the interests of the grantees as if they were dispersed over the several tracts.


Halifax, 5th August, 1763.

Sir,—We beg leave to trouble you with a memorial of a number of officers and disbanded soldiers, who came from New England, and are settled on St. John’s River. We were sent to them lately as a Committee of Council, by order of the Lieut.-Governor, to inform them that they could have no Grant of the Lands they were upon, and that they must remove therefrom, as these Lands were reserved by His Majesty for disbanded Troops. However, we are very apprehensive that their case must by some means or other have been misrepresented to the Lords of Trade, or not clearly understood.

They are chiefly American soldiers, officers or privates; they have sold their Farms in New England, and have transported themselves at their own expense; they have brought considerable stock with them, and their Families, and if it is the intention of the Ministry to settle disbanded Troops on that River, we are of Opinion these people will be of use and service, as it cannot be expected that English Soldiers can bring any great stock with them. The removing these people now they are settled, will be their utter ruin, the particular circumstances of which they have set forth in their Memorial to the Lords of Trade, which we beg the favor of you to present to them, and are with great Respect,

Sir, your most obedient and very Humble Servts.,

Chas. Morris,
Henry Newton.

Joshua Mauger, Esqr.



To the Right Honourable and Honourable the Lords of Commissioners of Trade and Plantations:

The Memorial of Francis Peabody, John Carlton, Jacob Barker, Nicholas West and Israel Perley, late officers in the American service and now Disbanded, In behalf of themselves and others disbanded from the said service and now settled at St. John’s River in Nova Scotia, Humbly Sheweth:—

That your Memorialists, previous to their entering into his Majesty’s Service, among other Encouragements were induced thereto by a Proclamation of his late Majesty promising that at the Expiration of the service they should be entitled to a Grant of Lands in any of his Majesty’s colonies for them to Settle upon. That they have many of them been in Service during this Present war, and as Americans are not intitled to half pay, as his Majesty’s British Troops are, and therefore expected no other Recompense than a Donation of Land agreeable to his late Majesty’s Promise to them.

That having been sollicited to settle in Nova Scotia, by Colonel McNutt, who appeared to us to be authorized by your Lordships, having produced to us an Instrument Signed by your Lordships and under seal promising a Right of Land to each Settler equal to those already Granted to Horton, Cornwallis and Falmouth, we were induced to come into the colony of Nova Scotia, and accordingly sent a Committee of us to view Lands proper for a Settlement. That our Committee accordingly viewed several Tracts of Lands in Nova Scotia at our Expense and advised us to settle upon St. John’s River about seventy miles from the Mouth in one of the Extreme parts and Frontiers of Nova Scotia, that we therefore applyed to the Governor and Council of Nova Scotia for a Grant of the Lands, not doubting of having the same confirmed to us, as they had Granted several Townships in this Province of Nova Scotia to other New England Proprietors who had not been in the Service. That the Governour and Councill of Nova Scotia gave your Memorialists encouragement, by telling your Memorialists that the Lands about St. John’s River were reserved by your Lordships for disbanded Troops and that they would refer your Memorialists’ Petition to your Lordships.

In confidence of this, and being ourselves Soldiers, we apprehended we might with great safety prepare ourselves for settling the Lands we Petitioned for, and accordingly sold our Estates in New England, and have at near a Thousand Pounds Sterling expence Transported ourselves, Families and Stock, and are now Settled to the number of one Hundred persons, on St. John’s River seventy miles from the Mouth; and a large number of disbanded officers and soldiers in confidence of the same Encouragement have now sold all their Possessions in New England and are hiring Vessels to Transport themselves and Settle among us.

We were not a little astonished when we were informed by his Majesty’s Governor and Council here that we could not have a Grant of the Lands we have settled ourselves upon.

We therefore humbly apply to your Lordships to Lay our Cause before his most Gracious Majesty for whose service we have often exposed our lives in America, that he would be pleased to direct the Governor and Council here to Grant us these Lands, we are now settled upon, as the Removal therefrom would prove our utter Ruin and Destruction. We have been at no expence to the crown and intend to be at none, and are settled two hundred miles from any other English Settlement.

And your Memorialists as in duty bound shall ever pray.

Recd. & Read Decr. 16, 1763.



The Firm of Hazen, Jarvis, Simonds & White.

The circumstances under which James Simonds, William Hazen and their associates organized the first trading company at St. John have been already related. Their business contract was signed on the 1st of March, 1764. In the course of a year or two the character of the original company was essentially altered by the death of Richard Simonds, the retirement of Samuel Blodget and Richard Peaslie and the admission of Leonard Jarvis as a new partner. Questions had also arisen as to the rights of the several partners in the lands granted in 1765 to James Simonds, James White and Richard Simonds. In order to settle these questions a new business contract was signed at Newburyport, on the 16th April, 1767, by James Simonds, Leonard Jarvis and William Hazen. The original contract is yet in existence amongst the papers of the Hazen family. It is in the handwriting of Leonard Jarvis and is a well worn document which bears marks of having been repeatedly handled. This is not to be wondered at for this contract proved a veritable storm-centre in the litigation that ensued relative to the division of the lands between the partners. The legal proceedings assumed various phases and occupied the attention of the courts for a period of twenty years.[87]

Under the new contract Hazen and Jarvis were to have a half interest in the business, James Simonds one-third and James White one-sixth, and all the lands on the River St. John that had been granted to any or either of the partners (Mr. Simonds’ lot in Maugerville excepted) were to be put into the common stock and divided in the following proportions, namely, one-half to Hazen and Jarvis, one-third to Simonds and one-sixth to White. The same division was to be made of any lands that should thereafter be obtained by the members of the company, either individually or collectively, during the continuance of the partnership.

Mr. Simonds sailed from St. John for Newburyport in the schooner Eunice on the 4th March, 1767, but owing to head winds he was twenty days in arriving at his destination. He submitted to Hazen and Jarvis the accounts of the business at St. John for the three years of the company’s operations and then repaired to Haverhill, about fourteen miles distant, to visit his relations. On his return he was accompanied by his sister Sarah and by his young bride, Hannah Peabody, who were about to settle with him at St. John. On his arrival at the store of Hazen and Jarvis, the new contract was presented to him for his signature. The proposition relative to the division of lands led to “a warm altercation and dispute.” Hazen and Jarvis positively declined to continue in the business or to furnish supplies unless they were allowed an interest in the lands. They stated 230 further that the goods on board the schooner Eunice should not leave Newburyport, nor would they furnish anything for the spring trade but insist upon immediate payment of the balance due them unless Mr. Simonds should execute the contract. Much as he disliked the proposal the situation of Mr. Simonds did not admit of delay. He was anxious to settle his family at St. John, his workmen and tenants needed his supervision and the Indian trade for the season would be lost unless the goods on board the Eunice were delivered as speedily as possible. Under these circumstances he deemed it best to sign the contract. Hazen & Jarvis claimed the company were at this time indebted to them in the sum of £3,135, but in the subsequent proceedings in the court of chancery this was disputed by Mr. Simonds and the statements of the parties interested are so much at variance that it is difficult to determine the exact truth in the matter.

James White declined to sign the new contract stating:

“That having one-fourth part of the duties, trouble and services to undergo and perform in transacting the business of the Copartnership, yet he was by the said Contract entitled to one-sixth part only of the lands to be divided under the contract. But that, although he disliked as aforesaid his having no greater share than one-sixth part in the Concern, he nevertheless joined with James Simonds in carrying on the business in full confidence that some equitable allowance would be made him for his services over and above his proportion of the said profits and lands.”

On the occasion of James Simonds’ visit to Halifax early in 1764 he obtained a license to occupy ten acres of land at Portland Point for carrying on the fishery and burning limestone, but it was not until the 2nd October, 1765, that a grant was made to him, in conjunction with his brother Richard, and James White, described as follows:

“Beginning at a point of upland opposite to his (Simonds’) House and running East till it meets with a little Cove or River; thence bounded by said Cove till it comes to a Red Head on the east side of the Cove—thence running North eleven degrees fifteen minutes west till it meets Canebekssis river, thence bounded by said river, the river St. John and harbour till it comes to the first mentioned boundary.”

The bounds of this tract are shown in the accompanying plan. It was supposed to contain 2,000 acres “more or less,” but in reality it contained upwards of 5,000 acres. Elias Hardy in 1785 claimed that the grant must have originated in misrepresentation, either in the application or survey, otherwise the quantity could not have been so much mistaken. To this Ward Chipman replied that the land had never been actually surveyed, but making allowance for lakes, sunken and broken ground, etc., it was supposed not to contain much if any more than the number of acres mentioned in the grant. The grant was made in accordance with the return of the surveyor describing its boundaries and expressing them to be “with allowance for bad lands, containing in the whole by estimation 2,000 acres more or less.” Chipman adds, “no misrepresentation can well be supposed to have taken place at the time of passing this Grant when the lands upon the river St. Johns were considered as of very little value and there could be no inducement to such a step.”


However, in view of the fact that when surveyed the grant was found to contain 5,496 acres, it must be admitted that the allowance for “bad lands” was tolerably liberal, and the grantees were fortunate to escape without the loss of at least half of their property. The line running from Mr. Simonds’ house eastward to Courtenay Bay is that now followed by Union street. It will be observed that the peninsula south of this street which now contains the business part of the city of St. John, and which was laid out for the Loyalists in 1783 as Parr-town, was not included in the grant. The primary object of the grantees was evidently to obtain possession of the limestone quarries and the big marsh, and they probably deemed the land south of Union street to be hardly worth the quit rents.

Plan of Grants to Simonds & White

The first grant at the mouth of the River St. John included only a small part of the great marsh—then called by the Indians, Sebaskastaggan—and a further tract in that locality was applied for by James Simonds in a memorial to the government of Nova Scotia. The memorial stated that James and Richard Simonds and James White had obtained a grant of 2,000 acres of mountainous and broken land at the mouth of the River Saint John in the year 1765, which had been improved by building houses, a saw mill and lime kiln, and the company had settled upwards of thirty people on it who were engaged in carrying on those two branches of business, but that the wood and timber so necessary for 232 them was all consumed, therefore praying that 2,000 acres additional to the eastward of the said tract might be granted to the said James Simonds.

It can scarcely be believed that all the wood from the harbor of St. John to the Kennebeccasis had been consumed in the five years of the company’s operations at Portland Point. But probably the lumber in the vicinity of the saw-mill and the wood most convenient to the lime kilns had been cut and this was sufficient to afford a pretext for another grant. Mr. Simonds’ memorial was considered by the Governor in Council December 18, 1769, and approved. The grant did not issue till May 1, 1770. The bounds are thus described:

“Beginning at a Red Head in a little Bay or cove to the eastward of the Harbor at the mouth of Saint John’s River described in a former grant to James Simonds in the year 1765, being the south eastern bound of the said grant, thence to run north 75 degrees east 170 chains, thence north 15 degrees west 160 chains or until it meets the river Kennebeccasis, and from thence to run westerly until it meets the north eastern bound of the former grant.”

The boundaries of the second grant may be readily traced on the plan. Like the former grant it included a good deal more than the 2,000 acres it was supposed to contain, and in this case, too, the grant escaped curtailment. The grant was in the name of James Simonds, but the other partners relied upon the clause in their business contract as a sufficient guarantee of their interests.

It must be admitted that as the first adventurers to settle in an exposed and at times perilous situation the first grantees of the lands at the mouth of the River St. John were entitled to special consideration. James Simonds had to make repeated visits to Halifax in connection with the business at St. John and these visits were sometimes attended with risk as will be seen from the following extract of one of his earliest letters.

Halifax, Oct’r 1st, 1764.

“Last night arrived here after four days passage from St. John’s—the first 24 hours were at sea in a severe storm, the second passed a place called the Masquerades where there was seas and whirlpools enough to have foundered the largest ships—we were providentially saved with the loss of all our cable and anchor endeavoring to ride at anchor till the tide slacked, but in vain. It was unlucky for us that we happened to fall in with that tremendous place in the strength of flood tide in the highest spring tide that has been this year. Gentlemen here say it is presumptuous to attempt to return the same way at this season in an open boat; but as the boat and men are at Pisiquit (Windsor), and I have no other way to get to St. John in season for my business this fall, shall get our business done here as soon as may be and return the same way I came. The plea of the above difficulty will have a greater weight than any other to have business finished here immediately. This morning I waited on the Governor, Secretary and all officers concerned in granting license, etc., who assure me that my request shall be granted directly so that I hope to be on my way to St. John’s tomorrow.”

We cannot but admire the courage and enterprise of a man who after so fatiguing and perilous a journey, was ready, on the second day after his arrival in Halifax, to remount his horse and travel forty-odd miles over a very rough road to Windsor to face again the perils of the Bay of Fundy in an open boat at a stormy season.


The establishment of Fort Frederick on the west side of the Harbor of St. John, by Brig. General Monckton, in the fall of the year 1759, contributed not a little to the advantage of the first settlers. The Indians were disposed to be troublesome to the English, and the presence of the garrison rendered their situation less lonely and added very greatly to their sense of security. Not only so, but the garrison brought quite an amount of business to the store of Simonds & White. In the old accounts of the year 1764 are to be found the names of Lieut. Gilfred Studholme of the 40th Regt., Lieut. John Marr and Commissary Henry Green. Captain Pierce Butler, of the 29th Regt., was in command at Fort Frederick the following year and his name also appears in the accounts. For a year or two after the fort was established the garrison was furnished by the provincial troops of Massachusetts, afterwards by detachments of British regiments under various commanders. In addition to the trade with the officers and soldiers, Simonds & White furnished wood and other supplies to the garrison, and doubtless it was not the least satisfactory incident in this connection that the pay-master was “John Bull.” The Indians were unreliable customers and bad debts were not infrequent, the white settlers on the river had but little money and their pay was chiefly in shingles, staves, spars, clapboards, musquash and beaver skins; John Bull paid cash.

About three years after the arrival of Simonds and White at St. John their trade with the garrison was interrupted by the removal of the troops to Boston in consequence of some riots in connection with the enforcement of the Stamp Act. Mr. Simonds speaks of this circumstance in a letter dated July 25, 1768, in which he writes: “The troops are withdrawn from all the outposts in the Province and sent to Boston to quell the mob. The charge of Fort Frederick is committed to me, which I accepted to prevent another person being appointed who would be a trader. I don’t know but I must reside in the Garrison, but the privilege of the fisheries on that side of the River and the use of the King’s boats will be more than an equivalent for the inconvenience.” The defenceless condition of the port of St. John brought disaster to the settlers there some years later, but of this we shall hear more by and by.

The names of most of the heads of families settled at Maugerville appear in the earlier account books of Simonds & White, and later we have those of the settlers at Gagetown, Burton and St. Anns. In the course of time branches of the company’s business seem to have been established at convenient centres up the river, and their account books contain the invoices of goods shipped to Peter Carr, who lived just below Gagetown, to Jabez Nevers of Maugerville, and to Benjamin Atherton at St. Ann’s Point. The goods appear to have been sold on commission and returns were made chiefly in lumber, furs and produce. The invoices of goods shipped to Hazen & Jarvis at Newburyport by Simonds & White included pine boards, shingles, clapboards, cedar posts, spars and cordwood, besides some 50,000 white and red oak staves, most of these articles having been taken in trade with the settlers on the river. Messrs. Hazen & Jarvis carried on quite an extensive trade with the West Indies where, in consequence of the manufacture 234 of rum and molasses, there was a large demand for hogshead and barrel staves, these were obtainable in considerable quantities on the River St. John, and the terms at which they were purchased may be seen in the following agreement:—

“St. Johns River, Nov’r. 10th, 1772.

“It is agreed between Simonds & White on the one part and Joseph Garrison & William Saunders on the other, that the said Garrison & Saunders make and lay at the bank of the said River, at convenient place to load on board a vessel, five thousand of White Oak barrel staves and the same number of White Oak hogshead staves, the hogshead staves to be well shaved and both to be merchantable according to the laws of Massachusetts Bay, for which the said Simonds & White are to pay, for Barrel Staves twenty-five shillings for each thousand and for the Hogshead forty shillings; the said staves to be ready by the 20th day of April next and at farthest to be received by the 20th day of June.

“To the performance of the above agreement each of the parties hereby bind themselves to each other in the sum of Twenty pounds currency, to be paid in default of fulfilment of either party.      “Witness our hands,


Joseph Garrison it may be observed was the grandfather of William Lloyd Garrison, the celebrated advocate of the abolition of slavery. He was one of the original grantees of Maugerville, and drew lot No. 4, opposite Middle Island in Upper Sheffield. He was on the River St. John as early at least as July, 1764, and is said to have been the first of the English speaking race to work the coal mines at Grand Lake. Another early miner was Edmund Price of Gagetown, who in the year 1775 delivered nine chaldrons of coal, to Simonds & White for which they allowed him 20 shillings per chaldron.

Nearly all the settlers on the river obtained their goods from the old trading company at Portland Point, and for their accommodation the little schooner “Polly” made frequent trips to Maugerville and St. Anns. Inspection of the old accounts shows that on the occasion of a trip up the river in May, 1773, goods were sold to thirty families at various points along the way. In November, 1775, goods were sold in like manner to more than forty families. At that time there were to be found in the company’s day book the names of 120 customers, nearly all of them heads of families. Of these, 25 were residents at Portland Point, 20 lived across the harbor in Conway, 45 belonged to Maugerville, 20 to other townships up the river and ten were casual visitors, fishermen and traders.

The partners amidst all their variety of business continued to make improvements upon their lands at St. John. They cleared up the Great Marsh and cut hay there, for in June, 1768, Mr. Simonds writes to Newburyport, “Please send half a dozen Salem scythes; Haskel’s tools are entirely out of credit here; it would be a sufficient excuse for a hired man to do but half a day’s work in a day if he was furnished with an axe or scythe of that stamp.” The next year plans were discussed for the general improvement of the marsh, and a number of indigent Acadians were employed to assist in the construction of a “Running Dike” and aboideau. These Acadians probably lived at French Village, near the Kennebecasis, and the fact that 235 they had some experience in dykeing marsh lands shows that they were refugees from the Expulsion of 1755. The situation of the first dyke was not, as now, at the mouth of the Marsh Creek but at a place nearly opposite the gate of the cemetery, where the lake-like expansion of the Marsh begins. The work was completed in August, 1774, by the construction of an aboideau. Those employed in the work were the company’s laborers, six or eight Acadians and a number of the Maugerville people—about twenty-five hands in all. William Hazen was at St. John that summer and he and James White gave their personal attendance, “not in overseeing the work only but in the active and laborious parts thereof,” the company providing the implements, tools, carts, several teams of oxen, gundolas and other boats, materials and supplies of every kind including rum for the workmen. This dyke and aboideau served the purpose of shutting out the tide from about 600 acres of marsh land. Ten years later Hazen & White built a new aboideau a little above the first one which had fallen into disrepair. A much better one than either was built at the mouth of the creek in 1788 by James Simonds at a cost of £1,300. The House of Assembly voted £100 towards building a bridge at the place and Mr. Simonds agreed to erect a structure to serve the double purpose of a public bridge and aboideau. The width of the structure was 75 feet at the bottom and 25 feet at the top. Not long afterwards Mr. Simonds built here two tide saw-mills. These were not a profitable investment, and in 1812 one had fallen into total decay while the other was so much out of repair as to be of little benefit to its owner.

After the first Marsh Bridge had been in existence about twenty-five years there arose a controversy as to what proportion of the cost of repairs should be borne respectively by the province, the City of St. John and the proprietors of the marsh. This controversy has continued to crop up at regular intervals during the last century and the end is not yet.

When the Loyalists arrived in 1783 the dyked marsh lands produced about 400 tons of hay, but it was said that “if tilled and ditched they would produce much more.” Today the marsh raises at least four times the quantity of hay named above.

After building the first running dyke in 1769, Hazen, Simonds and White continued to devote considerable attention to the task of reclaiming and improving the marsh. In order to have ready access a road was laid out running back of Fort Howe hill and along Mount Pleasant to the marsh. Not far from the present station at Coldbrook they built a house with hovels for cattle and put up fences and settled a family there. A few years later they built two more houses and settled two more families there, each with a stock of cattle. The first tenants on the marsh were Stephen Dow, Silas Parker and Jabez Salisbury. The houses built for their accommodation cost from £15 to £20 apiece. About this time or a little later a small grist mill was built at the outlet of Lily Lake.

One of the inducements that led James Simonds to fix upon the harbor of St. John as a place of settlement was the abundance and excellent quality of the limestone there and its convenience for shipment. The license of occupation given under 236 the hand of Governor Montagu Wilmot on the 8th of February, 1764, was in the terms following:

“License is hereby granted to James Simonds to occupy a tract or point on the north side of St. John’s River, opposite Fort Frederick, for carrying on a fishery and for burning limestone, the said tract or point containing by estimation ten acres.” Soon after the formation of the trading company in the course of the same year, the manufacture of lime became an object of consideration. Some reference has been made already in these chapters to the progress of the industry.

The company had four lime kilns, the situation of which will be best understood by reference to modern land marks. One was at the base of Fort Howe hill at the head of Portland street, a second near the site of St. Luke’s church, a third near the present suspension bridge, and a fourth on the road leading to the old “Indian House.” The work of quarrying and burning limestone was carried on in a very primitive fashion by the laborers of the company. In the winter a number of them were employed in quarrying the stone and hauling it with oxen to the kilns. The wood needed for burning grew almost at the spot where it was wanted, and its cutting served to clear the land as well as to provide the fuel necessary. In the course of ten years Simonds & White shipped to Newburyport and Boston more than 3,500 hogsheads of lime for which they received four dollars per cask; they also sent lime to Halifax, Cornwallis and other places in Nova Scotia. The facilities for manufacturing in those days were very inadequate, the men lacked experience, casks were hard to get, and for a time the lack of a wharf and warehouse caused much delay in the shipment.

And now a word as to the present condition of the lime industry at St. John. It cannot be questioned that the splendid quality of the limestone, its vast abundance, its convenient situation for shipment and the abundance and cheapness of the fuel needed, clearly prove that the manufacture of lime is destined yet to become an important industry in this community. Fifteen years ago the industry was rapidly developing, when the McKinley tariff and the Dingley bill completely excluded the St. John manufacturers from the United States market which passed into the hands of their rivals of Rockland, Maine. It is, however, only a question of time when there will be a removal of the prohibitive tariff in the interests of United States consumers, and this will be hastened as the deposits of limestone at Rockland are exhausted. This circumstance, together with the increasing demands of the Canadian market, will cause the manufacture of lime at St. John to become eventually an industry as great as that of shipbuilding in its palmiest days.

About the year 1888 the prospects of the St. John lime burners seemed particularly bright. Extensive operations were being carried on at Randolph, Robertson’s Point, South Bay, Glencoe, Adelaide Road, Brookville and Drury’s Cove. Probably at least 400 men were employed and a dozen draw kilns and twenty square kilns were in operation. In order to show the prospective development of that which in the time of Simonds & White was an infantile industry, it may be stated that the capacity of the draw kiln is from 70 to 100 barrels of lime every twenty-four hours, while that of the square kiln is about 400 barrels per week. The draw kiln is more 237 expensive in construction than the other, but its capacity is greater, and it is not necessary to extinguish the fire, the lime being drawn out as it is burned and fresh stone put in. At several of the lime kilns at the Narrows, above Indiantown, the facilities are unrivalled. The stone is quarried from the cliff a few rods from the kiln, dumped in at the top by cart or wheelbarrow, drawn out at the bottom at the water’s level and loaded on scows. The wood for the kiln grows on the surrounding hillsides or may be obtained from the saw-mills in the vicinity at nominal cost. At the time the manufacture of lime was interfered with by the McKinley bill, the following persons were actively concerned in the development of the industry: Hornbrook and Wm. Lawlor & Son at Brookville, Jewett & Co. at Drury’s Cove, Isaac Stevens and A. L. Bonnell at South Bay, Frank Armstrong and J. & F. Armstrong at the Narrows, Hayford & Stetson at Glencoe above Indiantown, Charles Miller at Robertson’s Point, Randolph & Baker at Randolph, W. D. Morrow and Purdy & Green on the Adelaide Road.

It is impossible with the data on hand to form any proper estimate of the quantity of lime manufactured by these firms, but it may be stated that in the year 1887, Hayford & Stetson alone expected to burn 50,000 barrels in their draw kilns at Indiantown and 30,000 barrels in their square kilns. In the work of quarrying the use of the steam drill was then being introduced. Perhaps there is no better way of contrasting modern methods with the methods of those who first embarked in the industry one hundred and forty years ago, and at the same time showing the difficulties with which the pioneers had to contend, than by giving extracts from James Simonds letters to Hazen & Jarvis.

St. John’s River, 27th May, 1765.

Gentlemen:—I Rec’d yours of 3d. of April the 1st inst., and of the 18th on the 9th inst. [The letters came by the schooner “Polly” and the schooner “Wilmot.”] The schr. Polly was dispatched immediately fishing: she is now near loaded. I am sorry the same dispatch could not be made with the schr. Wilmot. A cargo of Lime could not be prepared before hand for want of Oxen to draw wood. Have had bad luck in burning the Lime, the wood being wet, as the snow was but just off the ground. One-third of the kiln is not burnt. * * * If you can get freight to this place, we believe it will be best to keep the schooner [Wilmot] constantly running between here and Newburyport. If the Lime answers well can burn any quantity whatever. The want of Hhds. is the greatest difficulty, the want of a house to cover it the next.

“I doubt not of your making the greatest dispatch in all business relating to this concern, and wish I could make you sensible of the disadvantages we are under to do the same. I thank you for the willingness you express to relieve me and that you think there is any difficulty to go through in these parts. You may depend upon it that no pains will be spared in this quarter to make the Concern advantageous. * * * I shall be extremely glad to wait upon Mr. Hazen when the schooner returns.

“Have been obliged to credit the inhabitants up the River to the amount of a considerable sum, which is to be paid part in furs and part in lumber (the lumber is not brought down). The Officers and Soldiers supplies and wooding the garrison is to be paid by a draft on the pay-master at Halifax. * * * Since the lime is all put in hogsheads I find there is near seventy (empty) hogsheads remains. They chiefly want one head each—twenty or thirty more will be sufficient for another 238 kiln. If you send the Schr. directly back, boards must be sent for heads, and should think it would be best to send 100 refuse shook hogsheads for a third kiln with boards for heads and hoops, as they cannot be had here, also 5 M. boards to cover a frame that is now decaying and will serve for a Lime House and Barn. Have borrowed 12 C. boards of Mr. Green (of the garrison). Shall have a kiln ready to set fire to in three weeks after the Schr. sails. Dispatch in shipping lime can never be made without a Lime house to have it ready when any vessel arrives. * * *

In Great haste, I am, Gentlemen,
 Yr. Most Obedient & Humble Servt,

To Messrs. Hazen & Jarvis.

In the year 1769 the company built a wharf and warehouse at Portland Point. Their work was often interfered with by the nature of the season, the winters then, as now, being exceedingly variable. Mr. Simonds writes, under date March 6, 1769:—

“Have had but little snow this winter, but few days that the ground has been covered. Have got to the water side a large quantity of wood and wharf logs; about 300 Hogshead Lime Stone to the Kiln, and should have had much more if there had been snow. Our men have been so froze and wounded that we have not had more than three men’s constant labour to do this and sled sixty loads of hay from the marsh, saw boards for casks, look after cattle and draw firewood. Shall continue drawing or draging wood and stone as long as the ground is frozen, and then cut the timber for a schooner and boat stone for a Lime Kiln, which with the wharf will take 400 tons.”

The next winter was of a different sort, for Mr. Simonds writes on May 10, 1770, “This spring has been so backward that there has been no possibility of burning any lime. The piles of wood and stone are now frozen together.” The next winter was extremely mild, and Mr. Simonds writes on February 18, 1771, “There has not been one day’s sledding this winter, and the season is so far advanced there cannot be much more than enough to get the hay from the marsh; but shall haul logs to finish the wharf and for plank for Fish Cisterns if it can by any means be done.”

The popular idea that the climate of this Province was much more severe in ancient than in modern days is not borne out by the correspondence of Simonds & White with Hazen & Jarvis. From it we learn that 140 years ago the navigation of the River St. John, as now, opened early in April, and that the river could be relied on as a winter route of communication to St. Anns “only between the first of January and the last of February and then many times difficult.” In the extracts just quoted Mr. Simonds states that during the winter of 1769 there had been but few days that the ground was covered with snow, and two years later he says that up to the 18th of February there had not been a single day’s sledding. This testimony does not at all accord with the popular idea of an old-fashioned winter. It is not likely that there have been any material changes in the climate of this region since the days of Champlain, and this conclusion is strengthened by the fact that the weather reports made to the Dominion government since the time of Confederation do not indicate any alteration in our climatic conditions during the last 35 years.


The first Business Contract under which William Hazen, James Simonds, James White and their associates engaged in business at the River St. John was signed on March 1st, 1764. The members of the company immediately proceeded to engage their workmen and a very interesting illustration of the way they set about it has been preserved in an old indenture dated 13th March, 1764, in which James Simonds, “trader,” made agreement with one Edmund Black of Haverhill, “bricklayer,” to pay the said Black £16. 16s. for eight months labor at brickmaking, fishing, burning lime, or any other common or ordinary work at Passamaquoddy, St. John, Annapolis Royal or any other part of Nova Scotia, in the Bay of Fundy. In addition to his pay, at the rate £2. 2s. per month, Mr. Simonds agreed to furnish Black with “suitable victuals and drink and lodging.”

The exact date of the arrival of Simonds and White, and their party at St. John is put beyond doubt by the following memorandum in Mr. White’s handwriting, found by the author among a collection of old papers: “Haverhill, New England, 1764. Set off for River St. John, Nova Scotia, 1st day of April—Arrived 16th April.”

By the second business contract, entered into by William Hazen, Leonard Jarvis and James Simonds on the 16th April, 1767, it was provided that “all trade and business in Nova Scotia shall be done and transacted by James Simonds and James White and whatever business is to be transacted at Newbury-Port shall be transacted by William Hazen and Leonard Jarvis.” The remittances of Simonds & White consisted for the most part of fish, furs, lime and lumber and were at first sent to Newburyport, but it was soon found to the advantage of the company that remittances should be made to Boston where Leonard Jarvis went to dispose of them and to forward supplies needed at St. John. This was the commencement of St. John’s trade with Boston. There was no market for the Spring catch of Alewives (or Gasperaux) at Newburyport, so they were usually sent to Boston. Seven eighths of the furs and a large proportion of the lime and lumber were also sold in Boston.

As might reasonably be expected the first outlay of the company was comparatively large while the returns were small, but as time went on the remittances from St. John gradually increased and the outlay for supplies slightly diminished. During the earlier years of the partnership attention was given to deep water fishing, and large quantities of cod and pollock were taken in the Bay of Fundy and at Passamaquoddy, but this branch of business was eventually discontinued and greater attention paid to the shore fisheries in which weirs were used to good advantage. In the first seven years of their operations the Company sent 745 barrels of Gaspereaux to Boston, but in the next four years more than 3,000 barrels were shipped.

About the close of the year 1775 the Revolutionary war put an end to all trade with New England and the business of Hazen, Jarvis, Simonds & White as a company practically ceased. In the course of the dozen years of their operations, the goods and supplies received at St. John from Boston and Newburyport amounted in value to at least $100,000. The partners were not agreed as to the 240 general results of the business; Mr. Simonds claimed that the receipts had more than repaid the outlay, while Hazen & Jarvis contended that no money had been made but that there had probably been a loss.

During the continuance of the business, 72 cargoes of goods and supplies were sent to St. John, an average of six cargoes per annum. The value of goods and outfit sent the first season amounted to £3,891. 16s. 0½d. The value of goods and supplies furnished under the first business contract, which lasted only three years, was £6,850. 9s. 10d. Messrs. Blodget, Peaslie and Simonds, jr., then cease to be concerned in the business and the partners under the second contract were Hazen, Jarvis, Simonds and White.

As early as the second year of their operations at St. John, Hazen & Jarvis began to feel the large outlay they had made and wrote, under date May 23, 1766, to Simonds & White, “We must beg you will do all in your power to remit us largely this summer. By having such a stock with you we are much straitened for cash, and we are sometimes obliged to do our business to a disadvantage.”

Not long afterwards Hazen & Jarvis were unfortunate in their mercantile transactions at Newburyport and this, together with the loss of some of their vessels, made it necessary for them to take special care of their interests at St. John, consequently after the signing of the second business contract William Hazen came frequently to St. John. Early in 1771 he determined to discontinue business altogether at Newburyport and remove to St. John with his family. James White says that it was the wish of both Mr. Simonds and himself that Mr. Hazen should settle near them, making choice of such situation as he might deem agreeable to his taste, but that as the partnership business was drawing to a close the house to be erected should be built with his own money. Mr. Hazen made his choice of situation and built his house accordingly.

In the evidence given in the law suit concerning the division of the lands obtained from time to time by the company, James Simonds states that so far as the business at St. John was concerned Mr. Hazen’s presence was not needed since the business was conducted there by himself and James White when there was five times as much to be done. To this Mr. Hazen replies that Mr. Simonds’ letter of July, 1770, speaks a different language,[88] and he quotes figures to show that while for the first four years after the signing of the second contract the value of the supplies sent to St. John was £8,053 and the remittances from St. John £7,650; leaving a deficit in the business of £403; during the next four years, when he (Hazen) spent a large part of his time at St. John, the cost of supplies was £6,803 and the remittances £8,245, showing a surplus of £1,442; a difference of £1,845 in favor of his being at St. John.

When William Hazen decided to take up his residence at St. John in order more effectually to promote the interests of the company by superintending, in conjunction with Simonds and White the various operations that were being carried on there, his partner Leonard Jarvis removed to a place called Dartmouth, one 241 hundred miles from Newburyport, leaving his investment in the business untouched so as not to embarrass the company at a critical time. The supplies required at St. John were now furnished by his brother, Samuel Gardiner Jarvis, of Boston.

As will presently appear, fortune did not smile upon the removal of William Hazen and his family from their comfortable home in Newburyport to the rugged hillsides of St. John. However, Mr. Hazen was a man of resolution and enterprise, and having once made up his mind in regard to a step of so much importance was not likely to be easily discouraged. He at once began to make preparations for the accommodation of his family by building a house of greater pretensions than any that had yet been erected at Portland Point.

The first known reference to the Hazen house is found in a letter dated Feb.’y 18th, 1771, in which James Simonds writes, “We shall cut Mr. Hazen’s frame in some place near the water where it may be rafted at any time.” The house was erected in July following by the company’s carpenters and laborers. When nearly finished it was unfortunately destroyed by fire. A new house was begun the next year, which like the other was built at Mr. Hazen’s expense by the company’s carpenters and laborers.

As soon as the house was ready for occupation Mr. Hazen repaired to Newburyport to bring on his family, and in the month of May, 1775, they embarked in the Company’s sloop Merrimack of 80 tons. Mr. Hazen’s tribulations were by no means ended, for on the voyage the Merrimack was unluckily cast away on Fox Island and a good deal of her cargo, together with papers containing accounts of the Company’s business, was lost. However, all the passengers were saved, as well as most of their valuables, and were brought to St. John in Captain Drinkwater’s sloop. Drinkwater was obliged to throw overboard a load of cordwood to make room for the rescued passengers and crew and their possessions. For this he was of course remunerated by the Company. The Hazen family proved a great addition to the limited society of Portland Point. We learn from an enumeration of the inhabitants made this year that the Hazen household included 4 men, 3 women, 3 boys and 2 girls, 12 in all. Mr. Hazen’s nephew, John, who subsequently removed to Oromocto, was one of the family at that time. With such a family to provide for the grocery bill at the Company’s store grew rapidly. The first item charged to the account of the household after their arrival was 67 lbs. of moose meat at 1d. per lb.; and it is of interest to notice that beef was then quoted at 2d. per lb., or double the price of moose meat. It is altogether likely that with the Hazens moose steak was a much greater rarity on their arrival than it subsequently became, for at the time it was one of the staple articles of food and almost any settler who wanted fresh meat could obtain it by loading his musket and going to the woods.


This illustration is taken from a water color sketch of St. John now in possession of Mrs. William Hazen. The original sketch was made by a member of the Hazen family more than eighty years ago. In the foreground appears the Hazen house, square and substantial, and nearly in line with and beyond it is the Chipman house, overlooking the valley; these two houses are the oldest now standing in the city. To the right of the Chipman house may be seen the Block-house, which formerly stood at the corner of King and Wentworth streets. Still further to the right is the old wind-mill tower, where the Dufferin Hotel now stands, and to the right of this is old Trinity Church before its first spire was destroyed by fire.

The Hazen house still stands, considerably modernized it is true, at the corner of Simonds and Brook streets, having withstood the ravages of time and escaped the numerous conflagrations that have occurred in the vicinity for more than 130 years. The present foundation is new with the exception of the stone wall on Brook street 242 243 which formed part of the original foundation. The roof formerly pitched four ways, running up to a peak in the centre. Some of the old studs, lately cut out to admit of the placing of new windows, were found to be merely spruce poles flattened on two sides with an axe; the boards too are roughly sawn. The sheathing of the house has all been renewed and an ell, which used to extend up Simonds street, has been taken down. The lower flat is at present used as a grocery, the upper flat as a hall. In olden times, and for many years, Mr. Hazen’s garden and grounds extended to the water. His residence was by far the best and most substantial yet erected at Portland—indeed in early days it was considered quite a mansion. The exact date of its erection, curiously enough, has been preserved. An entry in the old day book in James White’s handwriting reads thus:—

“Nov’r 17, 1773—Wm. Hazen Dr. To 4 Gall. W. I. Rum, 3 lb. Sugar, 3 Qts. N. E. Rum, Dinner, &c., &c., 25 shillings—for Raising his House!”

The entry shows that old time customs prevailed on the day of the “raising.” It doubtless was quite a gala day in the settlement with everybody there to help and share in the refreshments provided.

The removal of William Hazen and his family from Newburyport to Saint John had been planned, as already stated, several years before it was carried into effect. It was not in any way influenced by the threatening war clouds which at that time hung low in the sky. Mr. Hazen’s departure from Newburyport, however, was nearly coincident with the clash of arms at Lexington, and it was not long ere the events of the war between the old colonies and the mother country closed the ports of Massachusetts. This unfortunate circumstance interfered greatly with the business of Hazen, Simonds and White at St. John.

The retirement of Leonard Jarvis from the company necessitated a new business arrangement on the part of the remaining partners, and in May, 1773, a verbal agreement was made between Hazen, Simonds and White to carry on the fishery and trading in the proportions of a half interest to William Hazen a third to James Simonds, and a sixth to James White.

There is in one of the old account books an interesting memorandum in the handwriting of James Simonds, covering several pages, which shows that the company had then a large and varied assortment of goods on hand. The list bears the following heading: “Invoice of Goods removed from the Old to the New Store, July 21st, 1775.” The “new store” was finished about the time of Mr. Hazen’s arrival; it stood a little to the west of the first store built at the Point.

Among the buildings at Portland Point when the Hazen family arrived were the residences of the three partners, the Lime Store, the Salt Store—or Cooper’s Shop, the Log Store, the New Store, a blacksmith shop, two or three small dwelling houses and one or two barns, besides a saw mill at the outlet of the mill pond, a grist mill at Lily Lake, and one or two hovels on the marsh. The English-speaking population settled around the shores of the harbor did not exceed one hundred and fifty souls. Our authority on this point is indisputable. Two documents are preserved amongst the archives at Halifax, one entitled “A Return of the State of the Settlement at the mouth of the Harbour of the River 244 St. John the First day August, A. D. 1775”; the other, “A Return of the state of the Township of Conway on the western side of the Harbour and River St. John on First of August, 1775.” The list of inhabitants given below is compiled from these returns and shows that the number of persons living on the opposite sides of the harbor was nearly equal, namely, on the east side seventy and on the west side seventy-two. The enumeration seems to have been made by James Simonds.


Name of Master or Mistress of the Family.Men.Women.Boys.Girls.Total.
James Simonds 4 1 4 3 12
James White 4 1 1 4 10
William Hazen 4 3 3 2 12
George DeBlois 1 1 1 .. 3
Robert Cram 1 1 1 7 10
Zebulon Rowe 1 1 .. 2 4
John Nason 1 1 2 3 7
John Mack 1 .. .. .. 1
Lemuel Cleveland 1 1 1 1 4
Christopher Blake 1 1 .. 2 4
Moses Greenough 1 1 1 .. 3
  20 12 14 24 70


Name of Master or Mistress of the Family.Men.Women.Boys.Girls.Total.
Hugh Quinton 2 2 2 4 10
Jonathan Leavitt 1 1 1 .. 3
Daniel Leavitt 1 .. .. .. 1
Samuel Peabody 1 1 1 2 5
William McKeen 2 1 5 1 9
Thomas Jenkins 1 1 3 .. 5
Moses Kimball 1 1 .. .. 2
Elijah Estabrooks 1 1 3 3 8
John Bradley 1 1 2 4 8
James Woodman 2 .. .. .. 2
Zebedee Ring 2 1 2 1 6
Gervas Say 1 1 .. .. 2
Samuel Abbott 1 .. .. .. 1
Christopher Cross 1 1 .. .. 2
John Knap 1 .. .. .. 1
Eliakim Ayer 1 .. .. 1 2
Joseph Rowe 1 1 1 2 5
  21 13 20 18 72

Both of these little communities were of purely New England origin for it appears from Mr. Simonds’ return that every individual at Portland Point, with the solitary exception of an Irishman, was a native of America, and at Conway all the inhabitants, save two of English nationality, were born in America. The Conway people, it will hardly be necessary to remind the reader, lived in the district now occupied by Carleton, Fairville and adjacent parts of the parish of Lancaster. 245 At the time of the census they had 2 horses—both owned by Hugh Quinton, 13 oxen and bulls, 32 cows, 44 young cattle, 40 sheep and 17 swine; total number of domestic animals, 148. On the other side of the harbor Hazen, Simonds and White were the owners of 57 horses and mules, 18 oxen and bulls, 30 cows, 35 young cattle, 40 sheep and 6 swine; the other settlers owned 8 cows, 4 young cattle, 4 sheep and 6 swine; total number of domestic animals on the east side, 208.

It will be noticed that the names of all the adult male inhabitants do not appear in the census lists of 1775; in the case of the households of Messrs. Simonds, White and Hazen, for example, twelve males are returned. These included either relatives such as John Hazen and Stephen Peabody, who are known to have been then living at St. John, or employes and servants who lived with their masters—among the latter were probably Samuel Beverley, Levi Ring, Jonathan Clough, Jacob Johnson, Edmund Black, Reuben Harbut and Michael Kelly.

Quite a number of the settlers in Conway were employed by the company in various capacities, and as they were nearly all tenants of Hazen, Simonds and White they generally traded at the Portland Point store. These people suffered severely at the hands of American privateersmen as the war progressed, and most of them were forced to abandon their homes and move up the river for greater security.

In the years 1776 and 1777, business being nearly at a stand in consequence of the war and the stock of goods at Portland Point much diminished, it was agreed that James White should take charge of the store and keep the books at a commission of five per cent. His sales during the two years amounted to £3,150.

The war of the American Revolution was at the outset a source of intense disappointment to Hazen, Simonds and White, although in the end it was destined to prove the making of their fortunes by sending the exiled Loyalists in thousands to the River St. John and thereby rendering the lands they owned much more valuable. The war, however, completely overturned the plans the company had in view. Our old pioneers had learned by their experience of a dozen years to conduct their business to the best advantage, and they now had everything in train for a promising trade with St. Croix in the West Indies. The hardships incident to the establishment of new settlements were over, and the partners were now settled in comfortable homes with their wives and children.

It may be noted in passing that early marriages were much in vogue in those days, particularly with the ladies. Sarah Le Baron was not sixteen years of age when she married William Hazen. Hannah Peabody had not passed her seventeenth birthday when she married James Simonds. Elizabeth Peabody was about seventeen when she married James White and her sister Hephzibeth somewhat younger when she married Jonathan Leavitt. In most cases the families were large and the “olive branches” doubtless furnished sufficient occupation for the mothers to keep them from feeling the loneliness of their situation. James Simonds had fourteen children. James White and Jonathan Leavitt had good sized families, but the Hazens undeniably carried off the palm. Dr. Slafter in his genealogy of the Hazen family says that William Hazen had sixteen children; possibly he may 246 have omitted some who died in infancy for Judge Edward Winslow writes on Jan’y 17th, 1793, to a friend at Halifax, “My two annual comforts, a child and a fit of the gout, return invariably. They came together this heat and, as Forrest used to say, made me as happy as if the Devil had me. The boy is a fine fellow—of course—and makes up the number nine now living. My old friend Mrs. Hazen about the same time produced her nineteenth!”[89]

While the presence of young children in their homes may have served to enliven the situation of Saint John’s pioneer settlers it added greatly to their anxiety and distress in the ensuing war period. More than this the absence of church and school privileges was becoming a matter of serious consequence to the little community at Portland Point and their friends across the harbor. We shall in the next chapter say something of the religious teachers who endeavored to promote the spiritual welfare of the inhabitants upon the St. John river at this period.



Some Early Religious Teachers on the River St. John.

Our knowledge of affairs on the River Saint John down to the period of English occupation is largely derived from the correspondence of the Jesuit missionaries, the last of whom was Charles Germain. After his retirement the Acadians and Indians remained for several years without any spiritual guide, a circumstance that did not please them and was also a matter of concern to the Governor of Nova Scotia, who in December, 1764, informed the Secretary of State that a promise had been made the Indians of the River St. John to send them a priest, which the Lords of Trade had now forbidden. The governor regrets this as likely to confirm the Indians in their notion that the English “are a people of dissimulation and artifice, who will deceive them and deprive them of their salvation.” He thinks it best to use gentle treatment in dealing with the Indians, and mentions the fact of their having lately burned their church[90] by command of their priest detained at Quebec, as a proof of their zealous devotion to their missionaries.

In the summer of 1767, Father Charles Francois Bailly came to the River St. John and established himself at Aukpaque, or, as he calls it, “la mission d’Ekouipahag en la Riviere St. Jean.” The register of baptisms, marriages and burials at which he officiated during his year’s residence at Aukpaque is still to be seen at French Village in the Parish of Kingsclear, York county. The records of his predecessor, Germain, however, were lost during the war period or while the mission was vacant. That there was a field for the missionary’s labor is shewn by the fact that in the course of his year’s residence on the River St. John he officiated at 29 marriages, 79 baptisms and 14 burials. His presence served to draw the Indians to Aukpaque, where there were also some Acadian families who seem to have been refugees of the expulsion of 1755. The older Indian village of Medoctec was now deserted and the missionary ordered the chapel there to be destroyed, seeing that it served merely as a shelter for travellers and “was put to the most profane uses.” The building had been standing for fifty years and was much out of repair. The ornaments and furnishings, together with the chapel bell,[91] were brought to Aukpaque.

For some reason the presence of the Acadians at Aukpaque and its vicinity was not acceptable to the authorities of Nova Scotia, and Richard Bulkeley the provincial secretary, wrote to John Anderson and Francis Peabody, Esqrs., justices of the peace for the county of Sunbury, under date 20th August, 1768: “The Lieut. 248 Governor desires that you will give notice to all the Accadians, except about six Families whom Mr. Bailly shall name, to remove themselves from Saint John’s River, it not being the intention of the Govern-ment that they should settle there, but to acquaint them that on their application they shall have lands in other parts of the Province.”

It is remarkable with what persistence the French clung to the locality of Aukpaque in spite of repeated attempts to dispossess them. The New Englanders under Hawthorn and Church tried to expel them as long ago as 1696, but Villebon repulsed the attack on Fort Nachouac and compelled them to retire. Monckton in 1759 drove the Acadians from the lower St. John and destroyed their settlements, but the lowness of the water prevented his ascending the river farther than Grimross Island, a little above Gagetown. A little later Moses Hazen and his rangers destroyed the village at St. Ann’s and scattered the Acadians, but some of them returned and re-established themselves near the Indian village at Aukpaque. The governor of Nova Scotia apparently was not willing they should remain, hence his orders to Anderson and Peabody in 1768.

What these magistrates did, or attempted to do is not recorded, at any rate they did not succeed in effecting the removal of the Acadians for we find that the little colony continued to increase. The missionary Bailly wrote from Aukpaque, June 20, 1768, to Bishop Briand, “There are eleven Acadian families living in the vicinity of the village, the same ones whom your Lordship had the goodness to confirm at St. Anne. * * It is a difficult matter to attend to them for they live apart from one another during the summer on the sea shore fishing and in the winter in the woods hunting.” It appears that these poor people were reduced to the necessity of leading almost an aboriginal life to save themselves from starvation, yet they clung to the locality.

Major Studholme sent a committee of four persons to explore the River St. John in July, 1783.[92] The committee reported sixty-one families of Acadians settled in the vicinity of Aukpaque. There were in these families 61 men, 57 women and 236 children. About twenty-five families lived on the east side of the river, most of them near the mouth of the Keswick; the others lived not far from the Indian village on the west side of the river, and there were in addition two or three families at St. Anne’s Point. In their report to Major Studholme the committee describe the Acadians as “an inoffensive people.” They had a considerable quantity of land under cultivation, but few, if any, of them had any title to their lands save that of simple possession. Those who claimed longest residence were Joseph Martin who came in 1758 and Joseph Doucet who came in 1763. The settlement began to grow more rapidly after the arrival of the missionary Bailly, for out of 249 the sixty-one heads of families included in the Committees report to Studholme nine came in 1767, thirteen in 1768, ten in 1769 and four in 1770. All of these enjoyed the ministrations of l’Abbe Bailly. The missionary seems to have remained a year in residence and then at the instance of the Governor of Nova Scotia was sent to the Indians and Acadians of the peninsula to the eastward of Halifax. He, however, paid occasional visits to the River St. John as is shown by the records of the baptisms, marriages and burials at which he officiated when there.[93] He is heartily commended by Lord William Campbell, the governor of Nova Scotia, for his tact in dealing with the Indians and his loyalty to the constituted authorities of the province. It is not probable that there was very much ground for the complaint of Simonds & White in their letter of June 22, 1768, in which they say, “We have made a smaller collection of Furrs this year than last, occasioned by the large demands of the Priest for his services, and his ordering the Indians to leave their hunting a month sooner than usual to keep certain festivals, and by our being late in getting to their village, the reason of which we informed you in our last. * * It’s expected that there will be a greater number of Indians assembled at Aughpaugh next fall than for several years past.” The extract quoted serves to show that the Abbe Bailly’s influence was felt while he lived on the St. John river. He returned to Canada in May, 1772, and was afterwards consecrated Bishop Co-adjutor of Quebec.

During the year of his sojourn on the River St. John and in his subsequent visits the Abbe Bailly baptized, married and buried many of the Acadians as well as Indians. The names of a good many individuals occur in his register whose descendants are numerous in Madawaska, Bathurst, Caraquet, Memramcook and other places in the province. Among them may be mentioned Joseph Martin, Jean Baptiste Martin, Louis Mercure, Michel Mercure, Jean Baptiste Daigle, Olivier Thibodeau, Jean Thibodeau, Joseph Terriot, Ignace Caron, Joseph Cyr, Pierre Cyr, Jean Baptiste Cyr, Paul Cyr, Francois Cyr, Pierre Pinette, Francois Violette, Joseph Roy, Daniel Godin, Paul Potier, Francois Cormier, Jacques Cormier, Jean Baptiste Cormier, Pierre Hebert, Joseph Hebert, Francois Hebert, Louis Le Jeune, Joseph Mazerolle, and Jean Baptiste Vienneau.

Of these families the Cormiers, Cyrs, Daigles and Heberts came from Beaubassin at the head of the Bay of Fundy; the Martins from Port Royal (or Annapolis), the Mercures and Terriots from l’Isle St. Jean (or Prince Edward Island); the Violettes from Louisbourg, and the Mazerolles from Riviere Charlesbourg.

It is worthy of note that despite the hardships and misfortunes endured there are instances of marvellous longevity among the old French settlers. Placide P. Gaudet, who is by all odds the best authority on this head and whose wonderful knowledge of Acadian genealogy has been attained by years of hard study and patient research, gives a striking instance of this fact amongst his relatives of the 250 Vienneau family. The ancestor of this family was one Michael Vienneau, who with his wife Therese Baude were living at Maugerville in 1770: both were natives of France. The husband died at Memramcook in September, 1802, at the age of 100 years and 3 months; his widow in March, 1804, at the age of 96 years. Their son Jean died at Pokemouche in August, 1852, at the extraordinary age of 112 years, leaving a son Moise who died at Rogersville in March, 1893, aged over 96 yeas. The united age of these four individuals—father, mother, son and grandson—are equivalent to the extraordinary sum total of 404 years.

In the course of a year or two after the arrival of the Loyalists the greater portion of the Acadians living on the St. John river above Fredericton removed—either from choice or at the instigation of government—to Madawaska, Caraquet and Memramcook. A few, however, remained, and there are today at French Village, in York county, about 31 families of Acadian origin numbering 149 souls, and 17 families in addition reside at the Mazerolle settlement not far away. The most common family name amongst these people is Godin; the rest of the names are Mazerolle, Roy, Bourgoin, Martin and Cyr. The influences of their environment can hardly be said to have had a beneficial effect upon these people, few of whom now use the French language. And yet the fact remains that from the time the valley of the River St. John was first parcelled out into seigniories, in the year 1684, down to the present day—a period of 220 years—the continuity of occupation of some portion of the soil in the vicinity of St. Ann’s has scarcely been interrupted, and the records of the mission on the River St. John may be said to have been continuous for about the same time. The missionaries as a rule spoke well of the people of their charge. Danielou said that there were 116 Acadian inhabitants in 1739 and that Monsieur Cavagnal de Vaudreuil, governor of Trois Rivieres, was “Seigneur de la paroisse d’Ekoupag.” He claims as a special mark of divine favor that in the little colony there was “neither barren woman nor child deformed in body or weak in intellect; neither swearer nor drunkard; neither debauchee nor libertine, neither blind, nor lazy, nor beggar, nor sickly, nor robber of his neighbor’s goods.” One would almost imagine that Acadia was Arcadia in the days of Danielou.

It may be well, whilst speaking of the remarkable continuity of the French occupation of the country in the vicinity of St. Anns, to state that after Chapter VII. of this history had been printed the author chanced to obtain, through the kindness of Placide P. Gaudet, some further information relating to the brothers d’Amours, the pioneer settlers of this region.

The brothers d’Amours, Louis, Mathieu and Rene, were residents on the St. John as early at least as the year 1686, when we find their names in the census of M. de Meulles. A document of the year 1695[94] shows that their claims to land on the St. John river were rather extravagant and hardly in accord with the terms 251 of their concessions. Louis d’Amours, sieur de Chauffours, claimed as his seigniory at Jemseg a tract of land extending two leagues along the St. John, including both sides of the river two leagues in depth. He also claimed another and larger seigniory, extending from a point one league below Villebon’s fort at the Nashwaak four leagues up the river with a depth of three leagues on each side. His brother Rene d’Amours, sieur de Chignancourt, lived on this seigniory a league or so above the fort.

The statement made in a previous chapter that Rene d’Amours was unmarried and lived the life of a typical “coureur de bois” is incorrect. The census of 1698 shows that he had a wife and four children. His wife was Charlotte Le Gardeur of Quebec. The names of the children, as they appear in the census, are Rene aged 7, Joseph 5, Marie Judith 2, and Marie Angelique 1. While fixing his residence in the vicinity of Fort Nashwaak, Rene d’Amours was the seignior of a large tract of land on the upper St. John extending “from the Falls of Medoctek to the Grand Falls,” a distance of more than ninety miles. After the expiration of eleven years from the date of his grant, Rene d’Amours seems to have done nothing more towards its improvement than building a house upon it and clearing 15 acres of land. Even in the indulgent eyes of the Council at Quebec, of which his father was a member, this must have appeared insufficient to warrant possession by one man of a million acres of the choicest lands on the St. John river. He made rather a better attempt at cultivating the land near his residence upon his brother’s seigniory, for the census of 1695 shows that he had raised there 80 minots [bushels] of corn, 16 minots of peas, 3 minots of beans. He had 3 horned cattle, 12 hogs and 60 fowls; two men servants and one female servant; three guns and a sword.

The seigniory of Mathieu d’Amours, sieur de Freneuse, lay between the two seigniories of his brother Louis at Jemseg and Nashwaak, extending a distance of seven leagues and including both sides of the river. Both Louis and Mathieu made far greater improvements than Rene, having a large number of acres cleared and under cultivation, together with cattle and other domestic animals. They had a number of tenants and eight or ten servants.

The census of 1695 contains the following interesting bit of information: “Naxouat, of which the Sr. Dechofour is seignior, is where the fort commanded by M. de Villebon is established. The Sr. Dechofour has there a house, 30 arpents [acres] of land under cultivation and a Mill, begun by the Sr. Dechofour and the Sr. de Freneuse.”

The reference to a mill, built by the brothers Louis and Mathieu d’Amours in the neighborhood of Fort Nashwaak, may serve to explain the statement of Villebon in 1696, that he had caused planks for madriers, or gun platforms, to be made near the fort.[95] This mill at any rate ante-dates by the best part of a century the mill built by Simonds & White at St. John in 1767 and that built by Colonel Beamsley Glacier’s mill wrights at the Nashwaak in 1768. Doubtless it was a very primitive affair, but it sawed lumber, and was in its modest way the pioneer of the greatest manufacturing industry of New Brunswick at the present day.


Among the contemporaries of the brothers d’Amours on the River St. John were Gabriel Bellefontaine, Jean Martel,[96] Pierre Godin, Charles Charet, Antoine Du Vigneaux, and Francois Moyse. The author is indebted to Placide P. Gaudet for some interesting notes regarding the family of Gabriel Bellefontaine. Mr. Gaudet has satisfied himself in the course of years of genealogical research, that the Godins now living on the River St. John and in the county of Gloucester, the Bellefontaines of the county of Kent, and the Bellefontaines and Beausejours of Anichat and other parts of Nova Scotia all have a common origin, and that in each case the real family name is Gaudin, or Godin. To any one conversant with the practice of the old French families of making frequent changes in their patryonymics this will not appear surprising. The common ancestor of the Gaudin, Bellefontaine, Beausejour and Bois-Joly families in the maritime provinces was one Pierre Gaudin, who married Jeanne Roussiliere of Montreal, Oct. 13, 1654, and subsequently came to Port Royal with his wife and children. Their fourth child, Gabriel Gaudin (or Bellefontaine) born in 1661, settled on the St. John river in the vicinity of Fort Nashwaak. He married at Quebec in 1690, Angelique Robert Jeanne, a girl of sixteen, and in the census of 1698 the names of four children appear, viz., Louise aged 7, Louis 5, Joseph 3, Jacques Phillipe 7 months. Of these children the third, Joseph Bellefontaine, spent the best years of his life upon the St. John river and his tribulations there have been already noticed[97] in these pages. He was living at Cherbourg in 1767 at the age of 71 years, and was granted a pension of 300 livres (equivalent to rather more than $60.00 per annum) in recognition of his losses and services which are thus summarised:

“The Sieur Joseph Bellefontaine or Beausejour of the River St. John, son of Gabriel (an officer of one of the King’s ships in Acadia) and of Angelique Roberte Jeanne, was commissioned Major of the militia of the St. John river by order of M. de la Galissonniere of 10th April, 1749, and has always done his duty during the war until he was made prisoner by the enemy. He owned several leagues of land there and had the sad misfortune of seeing one of his daughters and three of her children massacred before his eyes by the English, who wished by such cruelty and fear of similar treatment to induce him to take their part, a fate that he only escaped by fleeing to the woods, bearing with him two other children of the same daughter.”

Notwithstanding all their misfortunes and persecutions the Acadians living on the St. John continued gradually to increase. After the return of the missionary Bailly to Canada they were without a priest until the arrival of Joseph Mathurin Bourg in September, 1774. This intrepid missionary was the first native of Acadia to take holy orders and as such is a subject of especial interest. He saw the light of day at River Canard in the district of Mines on the 9th of June, 1744. His father, Michel Bourg, and his mother, Anne Hebert, with most of their children, escaped deportation at the time of the Acadian expulsion in 1755 and sought refuge at the Island of St. John [Prince Edward Island], from which place they 253 were transported by the English to the northern part of France. Young Joseph Mathurin became the protege of the Abbe de l’Isle-Dieu, then at Paris. He pursued his studies at a little seminary in the Diocese of St. Malo and on the 13th of September, 1772, was ordained priest at Montreal by Monseigneur Briand. After a year he was sent to Acadia as missionary to his compatriots of that region. He took charge of his mission in September, 1773. It at first extended from Gaspe to Cocagne, but in August, 1774, the Bishop of Quebec added the River St. John (including “Quanabequachies,” or Kennebeccasis) and all the rest of Nova Scotia and the Island of Cape Breton. The bishop also appointed the Abbe Bourg his grand vicar in Acadia. Almost immediately afterwards he visited the River St. John and the little settlement at French Village near the Kennebeccasis where, early in September, he baptized a considerable number of children, whose names and those of their parents are to be found in the register which is still preserved at Carleton, Bonaventure Co., in the province of Quebec.

(Signature) Joseph Mth. Bourg prétre Grand. V.

The missionary made his headquarters at Carleton (on the north side of the Bay of Chaleur) but from time to time visited different parts of his immense mission. During the Revolutionary war he paid special attention to the Indians on the River St. John, who largely through his efforts were kept from taking the warpath and going over to the Americans. The raids made by the Machias rebels under Jonathan Eddy and John Allan, in 1776 and 1777, interfered in some measure with the visits of the missionary, for Col. Michael Francklin in his interview with the Maliseets at Fort Howe in September, 1778, assured them that Mons’r. Bourg would have visited them sooner but for the apprehension entertained of his being carried off by the rebels.

The chapel at Aukpaque was not entirely disused during the absence of the missionary. We learn from John Allan’s narrative that while he was at Aukpaque in June, 1777, a number of Acadians came on Sundays to worship at the Indian chapel and that he and his prisoners, William Hazen and James White, also attended. While there they witnessed the funeral of an Indian girl. The ceremony was a solemn yet simple one. The body was borne into the chapel, the bell tolling the while; after a short prayer they sang funeral hymns, that done some of the chiefs bore the coffin to the grave where there was another prayer followed by a funeral hymn. The coffin was then deposited in the grave and a handful of earth cast upon it by the relatives and friends of her sex. Immediately afterwards the family wigwam was struck and removed into the thickest part of the village that the parents might be the better consoled for the loss of their child.

The important services rendered by Father Bourg to government during the American Revolution will be told in another chapter.


The first clergyman of the Church of England to visit the River St. John was the Rev’d. Thomas Wood, a native of the town of New Brunswick in the then British province of New Jersey. Mr. Wood went to England in 1749—the year of the founding of Halifax—to be ordained by the Bishop of London. He bore with him testimonials declaring him to be “a gentleman of a very good life and conversation, bred to Physick and Surgery.” He became one of the missionaries of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and was transferred from New Jersey to Nova Scotia in 1753. Halifax and Annapolis were destined to be the chief scenes of his labors, but he made frequent tours amongst the new settlements.

Mr. Wood was an excellent French scholar and his gifts as a linguist were of no mean order. While at Halifax he lived on terms of friendship and intimacy with Antoine Simon Maillard, the missionary of the Indians and Acadians. In the year 1762 Mr. Wood attended the Abbe Maillard for several weeks during his last illness, and the day before his death, at his request, read the Office for the Visitation of the Sick in the French language in the presence of a number of Acadians, who were summoned for the occasion by the venerable missionary. Mr. Wood also officiated at the burial of M. Maillard, reading over his remains in French the burial service of the Church of England in the presence of “almost all the gentlemen of Halifax and a very numerous assembly of French and Indians.”

As the Indians were for the time being without any religious teacher Mr. Wood resolved to devote much attention to them. He applied himself diligently to the study of their language, in which he had the assistance of the papers left him by the Abbe Maillard and by devoting three or four hours daily to the task he made such progress that upon reading some of M. Maillard’s morning prayers the Indians understood him perfectly and seemed themselves to pray very devoutly. He resolved to persevere until he should be able to publish a grammar, dictionary and translation of the Bible. He writes in 1764, “I am fully determined that nothing but sickness or the Bastille shall impede me in this useful service.” Two years later he sent to England the first volume of his native grammar, with a Micmac translation of the Creed, Lord’s Prayer, etc. He was now able to minister to the Indians in their own language.

In July, 1767, the Indians attended a special service held in St. Paul’s church, Halifax, at which there were present, the Governor of Nova Scotia, Lord William Campbell, the officers of the army and navy and the principal inhabitants. The service was in the Micmac tongue. An anthem was sung by the Indians at the beginning and again at the close. On the 12th of August in the same year Mr. Wood married Pierre Jacques, an Indian, to Marie Joseph, eldest daughter of old Thoma, who deemed himself “hereditary king of the Mickmacks.” There were present at the wedding, besides the Indians, Sir Thomas Rich—an English baronet, and other gentlemen. After the ceremony Mr. Wood entertained the company at his own house.

It was in the summer of the year 1769 that Mr. Wood made his first tour up the River St. John. Lord William Campbell provided him with a boat and 255 party of men, under the direction of Capt. William Spry of the Engineers. Capt. Spry will be remembered as one of the active promoters of the settlement of the townships on the St. John river, where he had large land interests. His knowledge of the river made him an excellent guide.

The English missionary arrived at St. John harbor on the 1st day of July, and the day following, which was Sunday, held the first religious service conducted by an English speaking minister at Portland Point.

The account books of Simonds & White suffice to show that no business was transacted at their establishment on Sunday, and doubtless the day was honored as a day of rest, but up to this time there had been no opportunity for church-going. Among those who heard the first sermon preached at St. John in English were in all probability, the Messrs. Simonds & White and their employes, Edmund Black, Samuel Abbott, Samuel Middleton, Michael Hodge, Adonijah Colby, Stephen Dow, Elijah Estabrooks, John Bradley, William Godsoe, John Mack, Asa Stephens, and Thomas Blasdel. To these may be added the wives of James Simonds, of Black, Abbott and one or two other workmen; also a few settlers living in the vicinity. It may be observed in passing that Edmund Black was foreman in the lime burning; Abbott, Middleton and Godsoe were employed in making hogsheads and barrels for lime and fish; Hodge and Colby were shipwrights engaged in building a schooner for the company; the others were fishermen and laborers. Doubtless the service held by Mr. Wood was a very simple one, and if there were any hymns they were sung from memory, for there is reason to believe that there was not a single hymn book in the community, with the exception of a copy of Watt’s psalms and hymns owned by James White.

Notwithstanding the difficulties of the situation, the Rev’d. Thomas Wood on the occasion of his first Sunday at St. John established a record which, after the lapse of nearly a century and a half, remains unequalled for interest and variety. In the morning he held divine service and preached to the English settlers and baptized four of their children. In the afternoon he conducted a service for the benefit of a number of Indians, who chanced to be encamped there, baptized an Indian girl and addressed them in their own language. In the evening, many of the French inhabitants being present, he held a third service and preached in French, the Indians again attending as many of them understood that language. These French people were chiefly Acadians living at what is now called French Village, in Kings county. They were at that time employed by Simonds & White in building an aboideau and dykeing the marsh. In one respect the Indians perhaps did better than the English or the Acadians, for at the close of their service Mr. Wood desired them to sing an anthem which, he says, “they performed very harmoniously.”

The next day the missionary sailed up the river, visiting the settlers in their homes as he proceeded. At Gagetown he baptized Joseph and Mary Kendrick, twin children of John and Dorothy Kendrick. Mr. Wood says the children were born in an open canoe on the river, two leagues from any house, a circumstance 256 that illustrates the exigencies liable to arise in a region so sparsely inhabited as the valley of the River St. John then was.[98]

On Sunday the 9th of July Mr. Wood held service at Maugerville, where he had a congregation of more than two hundred persons but, owing to the fact that the people were chiefly “Dissenters from New England,” he baptized only two infants. He thought, however, if a prudent missionary were settled among them their prejudices against the Church of England would speedily vanish. He speaks in his letter to the S. P. G. of the rising townships of Gagetown, Burton and Maugerville as a most desirable field for a missionary and commends the Indians to the special consideration of the society. After making a call at Morrisania, a little below Fredericton, where two children were baptized, Mr. Wood and his companions proceeded to “Okpaak” which he terms “the farthest settlement upon the River.” He thus describes the reception they met with on their arrival:

“The Chief of the Indians came down to the Landing place and handed us out of our boat, and immediately several of the Indians, who were drawn out on the occasion, discharged a volley of Musketry turned from us, as a signal of receiving their friends. The Chief then welcomed us and introduced us to the other Chiefs, and after inviting us to their Council Chamber, viz. their largest wigwam, conducted us thither, the rest of the Indians following. Just before we arrived we were again saluted with their musketry drawn up as before. After some discourse relative to Monsieur Bailly, the French Priest that Government have thought proper to allow them, finding them uneasy that they had no priest among them for some time past, I told them that the Governor had employed him to go to the Indians to the eastward of Halifax and had sent me to officiate with them in his absence. They then seemed well enough satisfied, and at their desire I began prayers with them in Mickmack, they all kneeling down and behaving very devoutly. The vice concluded with an anthem and the blessing.”

Mr. Wood says that although there were then at Aukpaque Indians of three different tribes, Micmacs, Maliseets and Caribous,[99] they all understood the Micmac language, and he expresses regret that he had not been sent among them two years before, being satisfied that he could have gained their confidence and good will.

The Reverend Thomas Wood closed a laborious and successful ministry of thirty years at Annapolis, where he died December 14, 1778.

Some account has already been given, in the chapter descriptive of the progress of the settlement at Maugerville, of the first religious teachers in that locality, Messrs. Wellman, Webster and Zephaniah Briggs. We shall have something more to say of their first resident minister, the Rev’d. Seth Noble, when we come to deal with events on the river at the time of the American Revolution. As already stated the first Protestant church on the river was erected at Maugerville in the year 1775. This building was at first placed on a lot the title of which was afterwards in dispute, and regarding the possession of which there was rather a bitter quarrel between the old inhabitants and the Loyalists. In consequence the 257 building was removed to the lot in Sheffield where the Congregational Church now stands. An interesting account of this incident is given in the narrative of the Rev. Joshua Marsden, a Methodist pioneer missionary on the St. John river, who says:—

“The Presbyterian [i. e. Congregational] chapel at Sheffield, was a church-like building of frame-work, with a spire steeple and a spacious gallery. This chapel had been drawn down upon the ice of the river more than five miles: it had first been erected at Maugerville, upon a litigated lot of land, which the society, not choosing to bring to the issue of a law-suit, they determined to remove the chapel bodily to their own glebe, five miles lower down the river. The whole settlement, men, horses and more than one hundred yoke of oxen, were present to assist in this more than herculean enterprise. The chapel was raised from its stone foundation by immense lever screws. Prodigious beams of timber were then introduced under the whole length of the building; into these were driven large staples, to which the oxen were yoked with strong chains of iron. When all things were ready for a movement, at a given signal, each man standing by his horse or oxen, this great building, capable of holding eight hundred persons, was drawn along and down the bank of the river to its appointed place, where another foundation having been prepared, it was again raised by levers upon it with very little damage. Not a single pew in the gallery or bottom having been removed in the process. In this emigrated chapel, I had the satisfaction of preaching the gospel of the kingdom to a large congregation. Perhaps you will wonder how the ice of this mighty river bore upon its bosom so ponderous a body; but your surprise will cease when I inform you that in the depth of winter, it is from two to three feet in thickness, making a bridge of aqueous crystal capable almost of bearing up a whole town.”



On the Eve of the American Revolution.

When the county of Sunbury was established in 1765, there was no English settlement north of St. Ann’s and the river was but sparsely settled from that place to the sea. Nevertheless the immense forest wealth of the St. John was gradually becoming known and appreciated.

The French ship of war “Avenant,” as long ago as the year 1700, after discharging her cargo of supplies for Villebon’s garrison and goods for the French traders, took on board some very fine masts for the French navy that had been cut upon the River St. John. Afterwards, when the control of Acadia passed into the hands of the British, they in turn began to procure masts for the navy on the St. John. England’s place among the nations then, as now, depended very largely on the efficiency of her navy, and the reservation of trees suitable for masts for the largest ships of war became a matter of national concern. In consequence Governor Legge, at the request of the home government, desired Charles Morris, the Surveyor general of Nova Scotia, to report as to ungranted lands in the province that might be reserved for the purpose of supplying masts for the navy. On the 21st May, 1774, Mr. Morris submitted his report. He states that his knowledge of the country was based upon personal observations during a residence of nearly twenty-eight years, in the course of which he had visited nearly all parts of the province. In the Nova Scotian peninsula there were very few pines fit for masts, but on the River St. John, above the settlements, and on the other rivers flowing into it were great quantities of pine trees fit for masts and great quantities of others growing into that state, which being so far inland, protected by growth of other timber and by hills, and remote from those violent gales which infest the coast would prove the most desirable reserve for the purpose intended. Mr. Morris adds: “I am of opinion that a reserve of all the lands on the River St. John above the settlements for the whole course of the river, at least twenty-five miles on each side, will be the most advantageous reserve to the Crown of lands within this province, especially as the river is navigable for boats and rafting of masts the whole course of it, as also for rafting of masts in the several branches of it; and in this tract is contained a black spruce, fit for yards and topmasts, and other timber fit for ship-building.”

The importance to coming generations of the “black spruce, fit for yards and top-masts,” was little dreamed of by Charles Morris. However, it seems that in accordance with his recommendation the region of the upper St. John was at this time reserved to the crown because its towering pines supplied the best masts in the world for the British navy, and at the close of the American Revolution it was still unbroken forest.

After the formation of the County of Sunbury, April 30, 1765, magistrates and other officers were appointed and representatives chosen to sit in the House of 259 Assembly. Some of our local historians, including the late Moses H. Perley, have stated that the first representative of Sunbury County was Charles Morris jr., but although Mr. Morris may have been the first to take his seat he was not the first elected representative. The late Thos. B. Akins, of Halifax, a recognized authority on all points of local history, in a communication to the late J. W. Lawrence states that the election writs on file at Halifax give the names of Capt. Beamsley Glasier and Capt. Thomas Falconer as the first representatives of the County of Sunbury. It does not appear that either of these gentlemen attended the sessions of the House of Assembly, and as it was the rule for members who were absent two years to forfeit their seats for non-attendance, a new election was held in 1768, when Richard Shorne and Phinehas Nevers were returned. The House of Assembly was dissolved two years later, and at the ensuing general election Charles Morris, jr., and Israel Perley were returned; the former took his seat but Mr. Perley appears never to have done so and in 1773 James Simonds was elected in his stead. Mr. Simonds was in attendance in October, 1774, and took the customary oath, being the first inhabitant of the county to take his seat in the legislative halls of Nova Scotia. A little later William Davidson was elected a member and he and James Simonds were the sitting members when the old Province of Nova Scotia was divided at the isthmus and the Province of New Brunswick constituted in 1784.

Among the earliest magistrates of the County of Sunbury were John Anderson, Beamsley Glasier, Francis Peabody, James Simonds, James White, Israel Perley, Jacob Barker, Phinehas Nevers and Gervas Say. The Courts of General Sessions of the Peace meet regularly at Maugerville and transacted such business as was necessary, appointed constables and other parish officers, administered justice and so forth. Benjamin Atherton was clerk of the peace for the county, James Simonds registrar of deeds and judge of probate, and James White deputy sheriff. The first collector of customs was Capt. Francis Peabody, who died in 1773. The attention given to the collection of duties was but nominal and Charles Newland Godfrey Jadis, a retired army officer who had settled at Grimross on the St. John river, wrote to the secretary of state in 1773 calling his attention to the prevalence of smuggling of which “Major-Ville” was the centre, connived at, as he alleges, by the magistrate and collector. This little incident is an indication that the sentiment of the Massachusetts settlers of Maugerville was identical with that of their kinsmen in New England in regard to the enactment of the stamp act and the duties imposed by the British government.

A few particulars of interest regarding the settlers on the River St. John are to be gleaned from the papers of David Burpee,[100] at one time deputy sheriff of the county. There were very few framed dwellings, nearly all the settlers living in log houses. As late as 1783 there were in Gagetown, Burton, and at St. Anns and vicinity about 76 houses occupied by English inhabitants, of which only 9 were framed buildings. The proportion of framed dwellings in Maugerville was little better, the vast majority being log houses.


Horses were few and nearly all the ordinary farm work was done by oxen. It is doubtful if any of the settlers owned a carriage, wagon or sleigh at this time. Carts were generally used in summer and sleds in winter. Some of the men owned saddles, of which there was much borrowing, and there were a few pillions for the ladies. Traveling in the summer time on land was either on horseback or afoot for the roads were too bad to admit of the use of wheeled vehicles.

All the cooking in those days was done at old-fashioned fireplaces and the utensils included a gridiron, toasting iron, frying pan, iron kettle and a number of pots and pans. The dishes used in the farm houses were mostly of pewter and their number limited.

A broadcloth coat or a beaver hat was a valuable asset which might be handed down to the second or even the third generation. A decent broadcloth suit would cost a man as much as he could earn in three months at the current rate of wages, after paying his board; consequently the early settler did not often indulge in the luxury of a new suit. Leather breeches were commonly worn, and from their lasting qualities were an economical garment.

The money handled by the early settlers was quite insignificant; nearly all transactions were of the nature of barter. Corn and furs were the staple articles of trade. The value of corn varied considerably, according to the season, from 4 shillings to 8 shillings a bushel, the average rate 5 to 6 shillings. Half a bushel of corn was the equivalent of a week’s board. The ordinary rate of farm wages was 2s. a day except for such work as mowing, framing, hoeing corn, and raking hay, for which the rate was 2s. 6d. a day. The wages of a woman servant were 10s. a month and as all articles of clothing were very dear compared with modern prices, they became excessively so when the rate of wages was taken into account. It took a whole month’s wages to purchase a pair of stays and two months wages to buy a gown. A pair of silk mits cost 5s. 6d. and a lawn handkerchief 6s. 6d. Calico was charged as high as 6s. a yard and cotton wool at 6s. 6d per lb. As a rule everything that had to be purchased out of a store was dear, while the prices of country produce were exactly the reverse. Butter sold as low as 6d. per lb.; lamb at 2½d. per lb.; beef, 1½ to 3d. per lb.; geese at 3s. each; fowls 1s.; potatoes 1s. 3d. a bushel.

Dr. Hannay quotes the following as a transaction on the part of Mr. Burpee, which would be regarded as unusual at the present day:

“September 30, 1778.

“Took a hog of Mr. Joseph Howlin of Burton to fat, the hog weighs now 113 lbs. and I am to have as many pounds of pork as he weighs more when I kill him.

“Dec. 1st, 1778, killed Mr. Howlin’s hog. Weighed before he was killed 181 lbs.”

Showing that Mr. Burpee obtained 68 lbs. of pork as the result of his bargain.

David Burpee taught school one winter, receiving 4s. per month for each pupil. The tuition fees were paid in a great variety of ways; in work, in grain, leather, musquash skins, rum, hauling hay and making shoes; he only handled 10s. in cash for his entire winter’s work.

In the year 1770 Mr. Burpee kept a diary which, while it contains some facts of interest, serves on the whole to show how narrow and monotonous was the life of the early settlers on the St. John. On Sundays they attended religious services 261 held at the houses most convenient for the purpose and in the winter there was some social visiting. However, we are now to speak of more stirring events.

Many were the trials and tribulations of the dwellers on the St. John—particularly of those living at the mouth of the river—during the American Revolution. Most of their calamities might have been avoided had an efficient garrison been maintained at Fort Frederick, but the troops were withdrawn from that post in 1768 and sent to Boston in consequence of disturbances there, and for five or six years the care of the fort and barracks was entrusted to James Simonds.

Lord William Campbell reported, about the close of 1771: “Since Fort Frederick at the entrance of St. John’s river has been dismantled and the garrison, which formerly consisted of an officers’ command, reduced to a corporal and four privates, he had had frequent complaints of the Indians on the river.” The presence of a half dozen soldiers was of little utility at any time and of no utility whatever after the Revolution began. It was not until the erection of Fort Howe that adequate steps were taken for the protection of the inhabitants.

The year 1774 was an extremely busy one at St. John. Our old pioneers James Simonds, James White and William Hazen were making strenuous efforts to place settlers upon their lands in the township of Conway, while at the same time Mr. Hazen’s house was being finished at Portland Point, an aboideau was being built to reclaim the “great marsh,” and the business of the fishery, lime-burning and general trade was being vigorously prosecuted. Troublous times were now at hand.

The situation of Hazen, Simonds and White when hostilities arose between the old colonies and the mother country was very embarrassing. By birth and early association they were New Englanders and most of their old time friends and neighbors were hostile to the crown. Massachusetts was practically the cradle of the Revolution, and the vast majority of its inhabitants were bitterly opposed to the King and his government. But while Simonds, White and Hazen were Massachusetts men they now held various official positions under the government of Nova Scotia and had sworn true allegiance to the King. Very likely they would have gladly assumed a neutral attitude in the approaching contest, but alas for them the force of events left no room for neutrality.

It is clear that at the beginning of the war the people of Massachusetts hoped for the cordial support of the settlers on the River St. John. This is probably the reason why the small colony at Portland Point was not molested during the early stages of the war and that William Hazen was able on two occasions to obtain the release of the company’s schooner “Polly” after she had been taken by American privateers. But as the war progressed considerate treatment gave place to acts of vandalism, and the sentiments of the settlers at St. John towards their old compatriots of Massachusetts became intensely bitter. Their tenants in the township of Conway were driven from their homes and obliged to seek refuge up the river, and those living at Portland Point suffered equal hardships.

When the Loyalists arrived in 1783, it was proposed that the township of Conway 262 should be escheated for their benefit. James Simonds protested stoutly against this, representing the expense that had been incurred in the endeavor to settle the township and the losses and sufferings of the tenants who were for a long time unprotected against the depredations of the enemy. He adds, “Instead of our being stripped of our rights to make amends for the losses of the Loyalists, who were plundered in New York or elsewhere, we have at least as weighty reasons as they can possibly offer to claim restitution from Government for the value of all the property taken from us, our distress by imprisonment, etc. They had a numerous British army to protect them, we had to combat the sons of darkness alone. In a word we had much less than they to hope for by unshaken loyalty and incomparably more to fear.”

The statement of Mr. Simonds is confirmed by Major Studholme who wrote to Gov’r. Parr, “Messrs. Hazen and Simonds, two of the original proprietors of Conway, have at different times placed a number of settlers on the lands of that Township and have used every effort on their parts to comply with the terms of their Grant, but the continual robberies committed by the Rebel boats during the war, to which these settlements have been exposed, obliged a number of their tenants to remove. However, as every exertion was used by them I take the liberty to recommend their claims on that Township to your consideration.”

During the earlier stages of the Revolution the attitude of the people of Machias on the one hand, and of the inhabitants of the township of Cumberland on the other, proved a matter of concern to the dwellers on the River St. John. Machias was settled in 1763 by a colony from Scarborough, one of the oldest towns in Massachusetts. During the war it was the asylum of disloyal spirits who fled thither from various parts of Nova Scotia. The township of Cumberland included a considerable portion of what is now the county of Westmorland. The inhabitants were mostly natives of New England, and many of them warm sympathizers with the revolutionary pasty. Jonathan Eddy was their representative in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly in 1774, and John Allan in 1776. Eddy and Allan, aided by William Howe and Samuel Rogers, succeeded in stirring up an active rebellion in Cumberland, which called for prompt action on the part of the Government of Nova Scotia. The leaders fled to Machias and a reward of £200 was offered for the apprehension of Eddy and £100 for each of the others.

The attitude of the Indians was another matter of serious concern to the settlers on the River St. John. Immediately after the Declaration of Independence the American congress authorized Washington to call forth and engage the Indians of Nova Scotia, St. John and Penobscot to take up the hatchet and fight against the English. With strange inconsistency Congress a few days later, in an address to the people of Ireland, denounced the King of England on the ground that “the wild and barbarous savages of the wilderness have been solicited by gifts to take up the hatchet against us, and instigated to deluge our settlements with the blood of defenceless women and children.”

The Micmacs seem to have been reluctant to take sides in the contest and in answer to John Allan’s solicitations they said, with quiet dignity, “We do not 263 comprehend what all this quarreling is about. How comes it that Old England and New England should quarrel and come to blows? The father and the son to fight is terrible! Old France and Canada did not do so; we cannot think of fighting ourselves till we know who is right and who is wrong.”

The style of argument employed to induce the simple minded natives to side with the Americans is seen in the letter addressed to them by the agent of the Congress of Massachusetts (May 15, 1775), in which the following statements occur: “The ministry of Great Britain have laid deep plots to take away our liberty and your liberty; they want to get all our money and make us pay it to them when they never earned it; to make you and us their servants and let us have nothing to eat, drink or wear but what they say we shall; and prevent us from having guns and powder to kill our deer and wolves and other game or to send to you to kill your game with so as to get skins and fur to trade with us for what you want. * * * We want to know what you our good brothers want from us of clothing or warlike stores, and we will supply you as fast as we can. We will do all for you we can and fight to save you at any time. * * * The Indians at Stockbridge all join with us and some of their men have enlisted as soldiers and we have given each of them a blanket and a ribbon, and they will be paid when they are from home in the service, and if any of you are willing to enlist we shall do the same for you. * * * Brothers, if you will let Mr. John Preble know what things you want he will take care to inform us and we will do the best for you we can.”

In consequence of the inducements of Allan and the other agents, Pierre Tomah and Ambroise St. Aubin, leading chiefs of the Maliseets of the River St. John, went to the trading post the Americans had established at Penobscot, and signed an agreement to the following effect: “We heartily join with our brethren the Penobscot Indians in everything that they have or shall agree with our brethren of the colony of Massachusetts, and are resolved to stand together and oppose the people of Old England that are endeavoring to take your and our lands and liberties from us. * * * We desire that you will help us to a priest that he may pray with us to God Almighty, etc., etc.” The Indians agreed to bring their furs and skins to Penobscot and to procure their provisions, goods and ammunition there. Many of them were heavily in debt to Simonds & White, so that the prospect of a new trading post with no old scores to settle appeared to them particularly inviting.

Washington honored the Indians with letters accompanied by belts of wampum, after the approved Indian fashion. A delegation from the St. John river, Pierre Tomah at its head, went soon afterwards to Washington’s headquarters on the Delaware, where they received a flattering welcome and were sumptuously entertained. On the 24th December, 1776, Washington thus addressed them:

“Brothers of the St. John’s tribe: It gave me great pleasure to hear by Major Shaw that you keep the chain of Friendship, which I sent you in February last from Cambridge, bright and unbroken. I am glad to hear that you have made a treaty of peace with your brothers and neighbors of Massachusetts Bay. My good friend and brother, Gov’r Pierre Tommah, and the warriors that came with him shall be taken good care of, and when they want to return home they 264 and our brothers of Penobscot shall be furnished with everything necessary for their journey. * * * Never let the King’s wicked counsellors turn your hearts against me and your brethren of this country, but bear in mind what I told you last February and what I tell you now.”

Washington’s overtures were not without effect. This is evident from the fact that the Maugerville people in May, 1776, reported that Gen. Washington’s letter had set the Indians on fire, and they were plundering all people they thought to be Tories, and that perhaps when the supply of Tories was exhausted others might share the name fate. “We think it necessary,” they added, “that some person of consequence be sent among them.” The Indians had always been allies of the French and had never fully accepted the change of ownership on the River St. John. They were disposed to view the cause of the Americans with favor, more particularly when the French became their allies.

John Allan was by far the most active and energetic agent of Congress in dealing with the Indians. He was born in Edinburgh and when four years of age accompanied his parents to Halifax when that city was founded by Cornwallis. At the commencement of the Revolution he lived near Fort Cumberland, on the New Brunswick side of the isthmus of Chignecto and carried on an extensive Indian trade visiting all the villages as far west as the Penobscot river. His estimate of the Indians is not particularly flattering. He says: “The Indians are generally actuated according to the importance or influence any one has who lives among them. They are credulous to a degree, will listen to every report, and generally believe it and think everything true that is told them.”

We shall presently see that Allan was able to make good use of his knowledge of the weaknesses of Indian nature. He was appointed superintendent of the Eastern Indians in 1777 by the Massachusetts Congress, with the military rank of Colonel. He was the most persevering and troublesome antagonist the British had in Eastern New England. Had it not been for his exertions it is probable the Americans would have lost their outpost at Machias, and it is possible that the English would then have held the country as far west as the River Kennebeck.



Affairs on the St. John During the Revolution.

In the year 1775 armed vessels were fitted out in several of the ports of New England to prey on the commerce of Nova Scotia. Many of these carried no proper commissions and were manned by hands of brutal marauders whose conduct was so outrageous that even so warm a partizan as Col. John Allan sent a remonstrance to congress regarding their behaviour: “Their horrid crimes,” he says, “are too notorious to pass unnoticed,” and after particularizing some of their enormities he declares “such proceedings will occasion more Torys than a hundred such expeditions will make good.”

The people of Machias were particularly fond of plundering their neighbors, and that place was termed a “nest of pirates and rebels” by General Eyre Massey, the commandant at Halifax.

Early in the summer of 1775 it was rumored that Stephen Smith of Machias, one of the delegates to the Massachusetts congress, had orders to seize Fort Frederick, and the Governor of Nova Scotia recommended the establishment of a garrison there to prevent such an attempt. But the military authorities were too dilatory and in the month of August a party from Machias, led by Smith, entered St. John harbor in a sloop, burned Fort Frederick and the barracks and took four men who were in the fort prisoners. The party also captured a brig of 120 tons laden with oxen, sheep and swine, intended for the British troops at Boston. This was the first hostile act committed in Nova Scotia and it produced almost as great a sensation at Halifax as at St. John. The event is thus described by our first local historian, Peter Fisher, in his Sketches of New Brunswick:—

“A brig was sent from Boston to procure fresh provisions for the British army, then in that town, from the settlements of the river Saint John. The same vessel was laden with stock, poultry, and sundry other articles mostly brought from Maugerville in small vessels and gondolas, all of which had been put on board within about fifteen days after the brig had arrived. While she was waiting for a fair wind and clear weather an armed sloop of four guns and full of men from Machias came into the harbor, took possession of the brig, and two days after carried her off to Machias; the first night after their arrival the enemy made the small party in the Fort prisoners, plundered them of everything in it, and set fire to all the Barracks, but at that time they did not molest any of the inhabitants on the opposite side of the river.”

The burning of Fort Frederick seems to have been made known at Halifax by James Simonds and Daniel Leavitt, who went to Windsor in a whale boat to solicit to protection of government. Their report caused a mild sensation on the part of the military authorities, and they began to take measures for the defence of the province, although it was more than two years before any adequate protection was afforded the settlers at St. John. Being apprehensive that the company’s effects 266 in the store at Portland Point might be carried off by marauders, Mr. Simonds a few weeks afterwards carried a portion of the goods to Windsor in the schooner “Polly” and disposed of them as well as he could.

The next year was a decidedly uncomfortable one for the people living at Portland Point. In the month of May two privateers entered the harbor, remaining more than a week. Their boats proceeded up the river as far as Maugerville and informed the people that the province would soon be invaded from the westward, that privateers were thick on the coasts and would stop all manner of commerce unless the settlers joined them. They threatened, moreover, that should the Americans be put to the trouble and expense of conquering the country all who sided with the mother country must expect to lose their property and lands. About this time some Indians arrived with letters from General Washington, and it was believed that the whole tribe was about entering into an alliance with the Americans, as they showed a decided predilection in their favor and even threatened to kill the white inhabitants unless they would join the “Boston men.” There can be little doubt that the majority of the people on the River St. John were at this time not indisposed to side with the Revolutionary party. A public meeting was held on the 14th of May, 1776, at the meeting house in Maugerville, at which a number of highly disloyal resolutions were unanimously adopted. One of the leading spirits at this meeting was the Rev. Seth Noble, who had already written to Gen’l. Washington to represent the importance of obtaining control of western Nova Scotia, including the River St. John. Jacob Barker, Esq’r., was chosen chairman and a committee, consisting of Jacob Barker, Israel Perley, Phineas Nevers, Daniel Palmer, Moses Pickard, Edward Coy, Thomas Hartt, Israel Kinny, Asa Kimble, Asa Perley, Oliver Perley and Hugh Quinton, was appointed to prepare the resolutions which were subsequently adopted by the meeting. One of the resolutions reads:—

“Resolved, That it is our minds and desire to submit ourselves to the government of Massachusetts Bay and that we are ready with our lives and fortunes to share with them the event of the present struggle for liberty, however God in his providence may order it.”

The resolutions adopted were circulated among all the settlers on the river and signed by 125 persons, most of them heads of families. The committee claimed that only twelve or thirteen persons refused to sign, of whom the majority lived at the river’s mouth. If this statement be correct, the resolutions certainly could not have been submitted to all the inhabitants, for there is evidence to show that at least thirty families outside of the township of Maugerville were steadfastly and consistently loyal to the government under which they lived. The names of these people are as deserving of honor as the names of the Loyalists, who came to the province from the old colonies in 1783. In the township of Maugerville the sentiment of the people was almost unanimous in favor of the Revolution and we have no data to determine who were loyalists—if any. But at St. Anns we have Benjamin Atherton and Philip Weade; in the township of Burton, John Larley, Joseph Howland, and Thomas Jones; in Gagetown Zebulon Estey, Henry West, John Crabtree, John Hendrick, Peter Carr and Lewis Mitchell; on the Kennebecasis Benjamin Darling; 267 in the township of Conway, Samuel Peabody, Jonathan Leavitt, Thomas Jenkins, John Bradley, Gervas Say, James Woodman, Peter Smith, and Christopher Cross; at Portland Point, James Simonds, James White, William Hazen, John Hazen, William Godsoe, Lemuel Cleveland, Robert Cram, John Nason, Moses Greenough, Christopher Blake and most of the men in the employ of Hazen, Simonds & White.

A number of Acadians too were loyal to the government of Nova Scotia and should be mentioned in this connection. Louis Mercure and his brother Michel Mercure rendered good service to the Governor of Nova Scotia in carrying dispatches to and from Quebec during the war period. Of the Martin family, Jean, Simon, Joseph, Francois and Amant were warmly commended by Major Studholme for their fidelity and active exertions on various occasions. Members of the Cyr family also rendered important services as guides or pilots, Oliver, Jean Baptiste and Pierre Cyr being employed in that capacity by Major Studholme and Lieut. Governor Michael Francklin.

At this distance of time it is difficult to determine the number of people on the river who were disposed to be actively disloyal. That they had many inducements to cast their fortunes with their friends in Massachusetts is undeniable. At Maugerville the powerful influence of the pastor of the church, Rev. Seth Noble, and of the leading elders and church members was exerted in behalf of the American congress. Jacob Barker, who presided at the meeting held on the 14th May, was a justice of the peace and ruling elder of the church. Israel Perley and Phineas Nevers were justices of the peace and had represented the county of Sunbury in the Nova Scotia legislature. Daniel Palmer, Edward Coy, Israel Kinney and Asa Perley were ruling elders of the church. Moses Pickard, Thomas Hartt and Hugh Quinton were leading church members. The gentlemen named, with Asa Kimball and Oliver Perley, were appointed a committee “to make immediate application to the Congress or General Assembly of Massachusetts Bay for relief under the present distressed circumstances.”

At the Maugerville meeting it was unanimously agreed that the committee, whose names have just been mentioned, should have charge of all matters civil and military until further regulations should be made, and that all who signed the resolutions should have no dealings with any person for the future who should refuse to sign them. The tone of several of the resolutions was that of open defiance to the constituted authority of Nova Scotia, the signers pledging themselves to support and defend the actions of their committee at the expense, if necessary, of their lives and fortunes. One of the resolutions reads:

“Resolved that we will immediately put ourselves in the best posture of defence in our power; that to this end we will prevent all unnecessary use of gunpowder or other ammunition in our custody.”

Asa Perley and Asa Kimball, two of the committee, were sent to Boston to interview the Massachusetts congress on behalf of the people living on the river. The commissary general there was directed to deliver them one barrel of gunpowder, 350 flints and 250 weight of lead from the colony’s stores; they were also allowed to purchase 40 stand of small arms.


So far all seemed favorable to the promoters of rebellion, but bitter humiliation was in store, and within a year the vast majority of those who had pledged themselves to the people of Massachusetts as “ready with their lives and fortunes to share with them the event of the present struggle for liberty, however God in His providence may order it,” were compelled to take the oath of allegiance to His Majesty King George the Third for the defence of the province of Nova Scotia against all his enemies.

An impartial review of the situation on the St. John at this stage of the American Revolution would seem to show that the sympathies of a large majority of the settlers were with the revolutionary party, at the same time many of the people were much less enthusiastic than their leaders and if left to themselves would probably have hesitated to sign the resolutions framed by their committee. The presence of the privateersmen, who came up the river at the time the meeting at Maugerville was held, was an incentive to many to sign the resolutions and the attitude of the Indians was a further inducement to stand in with the people of Massachusetts, who had lately entered into an alliance with the savages.

During the autumn of this year (1776) the Bay of Fundy was so infested with pirates and picaroons that the war vessels Vulture, Hope and Albany were ordered around from Halifax. They were not entirely successful in their endeavor to furnish protection, for the privateers frequently managed to steal past the large ships in the night and in fogs and continued to pillage the defenceless inhabitants.

Another hostile act was now undertaken by the people of Machias of a more ambitious kind than the destruction of Fort Frederick. This was nothing less than an attempt to capture Fort Cumberland, where Lieut. Col. Joseph Goreham was in command with a detachment of the Royal Fencible Americans. This attempt was in the end a miserable fiasco, but it occasioned much alarm at the time and was the cause of some distress to the loyal inhabitants of that region.

The leader of the expedition against Fort Cumberland was Jonathan Eddy, who had lately been commissioned a lieutenant colonel by the Massachusetts congress. He was a native of Norton (Mass.), and had settled in Cumberland about 1763, but early in the Revolution returned to Massachusetts. About the time of the Declaration of Independence, in July, 1776, Eddy set out from Boston in company with Jonathan Rowe (lately a resident at St. John) and proceeded to Machias. He left that place about the middle of August in a schooner with only 28 men as a nucleus of his proposed army. At Passamaquoddy a few people joined him. The party did not meet with much encouragement on their arrival at St. John, although Hazen, Simonds and White from motives of prudence refrained from any hostile demonstration. Proceeding up the river to Maugerville Eddy met with greater encouragement. “I found the people,” he writes, “to be almost universally hearty in our cause; they joined us with one captain, one lieutenant and twenty-five men, as also sixteen Indians.” The captain of the St. John river contingent was 269 probably Hugh Quinton[101] who has as his lieutenant one Jewett of Maugerville. Others of the party were Daniel Leavitt, William McKeen, Elijah Estabrooks, Edward Burpee, Nathan Smith, John Pickard, Edmund Price, Amasa Coy, John Mitchell, Richard Parsons, Benjamin Booby and John Whitney. The rest of the party lived in Maugerville but their names are not known.

On his arrival at Cumberland Jonathan Eddy was joined by many of the settlers there who, like himself, were originally from New England. His whole force probably did not exceed 200 men, badly equipped and without artillery. The Indians of the St. John were under the leadership of Ambroise St. Aubin, one of their chiefs, and Eddy says they “beheaved most gallantly.”[102] However, the expedition failed to achieve anything of importance. The rebels plundered some of the loyal inhabitants, seized one or two small provision sloops and captured several prisoners, including the Rev. John Eagleson, acting chaplain of the garrison. All attempts to take the fort were futile, and the arrival of Major Batt and Captain Studholme with reinforcement from Windsor rendered Eddy’s situation exceedingly precarious. On the 28th November his forces were utterly routed by Major Batt and hastily retired to the River St. John. They suffered great hardships on the way and arrived at that place in a very miserable condition. Unwelcome as they had proved to the people of Portland Point on the occasion of their advance they were still more unwelcome visitors on their return. In their forlorn condition Hazen, Simonds and White were obliged to furnish them with provisions and supplies in order to keep them from plundering their houses and stores. All that the trading company obtained in return was a bill of exchange on the Massachusetts congress, which probably was never paid:

“Gentlemen,—At sight of this our second Bill (first of same tenor and date not paid) please to pay to Messrs. William Hazen, James Simonds and James White, or order, forty-one Spanish milled Dollars for value received of them.


Portland, Nova Scotia, December 14th, 1776.

To the Honorable Council of Massachusetts State.

James White says the supplies furnished to Prescott & Co., were regarded as for the common cause and benefit to get rid of a needy lawless banditti.

On the 10th February ensuing General Massey wrote to the secretary of State that Eddy, Rogers, Allen and Howe were at the River St. John preparing with the Indians for attacks on various points in the Spring. To counteract the designs of Eddy and his associates Colonel Michael Francklin was appointed Superintendent of Indian affairs about this time.


Early in May, 1777, a serious attempt was made by John Allan to establish a trading post for the Indians on the River St. John. James Simonds proceeded via Windsor to Halifax, and reported the matter to the civil and military authorities. Lieut.-Governor Arbuthnot at once sent Colonel Arthur Goold and an armed party, commanded by Major Studholme, to investigate, and on their arrival at St. John the Machias rebels promptly decamped. On the 9th May Goold wrote a letter to the inhabitants of the townships up the river stating that the government of Nova Scotia was well informed of their treasonable doings, and that the tenure of their present possessions was due to the clemency of “the most just, generous and best of Princes.” He informed them that his object was to effect a reconciliation for them with Government, and added that while he came to them with the olive branch of peace, in the event of a refusal of his overtures an armed force would follow and employ a very different argument.

A meeting was immediately held at Maugerville, and in reply to Goold a letter was sent “by order of the body of the inhabitants assembled,” written and signed in their behalf by Israel Perley. In this letter the inhabitants aver “that their greatest desire hath ever been to live in peace under good and wholesome laws,” and they declare themselves “ready to attend to any conditions of lenity and oblivion that may be held out to them.”

Colonel Goold in his reply expresses his pleasure at the unanimity of their resolution to observe loyalty and obedience to the government under which they lived and his surprise that they should suffer a few incendiaries to disturb the public tranquillity. He hoped the word “Committee” had nothing so terrible in its sound as to frighten a majority of the loyal people. “Why not,” he says, “form a Committee in favor of Government and see which is strongest? I will throw myself into your scale and make no doubt but we shall soon over balance these mighty Law-givers.”

On the afternoon of May 13, two of John Allan’s lieutenants, William Howe and John Preble, arrived at Manawagonish Cove[103] in a whale boat, not knowing of the presence of a British sloop of war at St. John. Captain Featus, the commander of the “Vulture,” promptly dispatched a boat to the place and took their whale boat, but Howe and Preble and their party fled to the woods and eventually got back to Machias. The captain of the “Vulture” also intercepted two schooners laden with supplies for the proposed Indian “Truck House.”

Evidently there was a lack of harmony and mutual confidence among the inhabitants of Maugerville at this time, for on the 16th May they wrote to Colonel Goold a letter in which, after representing their recent conduct in the best light they could and admitting that they had acted in opposition to this Majesty’s Government, they say: “As your honor is pleased to tell us that you bring the Olive Branch of Peace we humbly crave the benefit, and as we were jointly concerned in the first transgressions we now humbly request that no distinction may 271 be made as to a pardon, there being in this place as in all others private prejudices and contentions, and perhaps some persons may avail themselves of this opportunity to got revenge by representing their private enemies as the greatest enemies of Government. We earnestly request no such complaint may prevail upon your Honor to make any distinction with regard to any person, on the River, and we beg your Honor’s answer to this petition from your Honor’s most humble servants.

    [Signed]. Israel Perley, Seth Noble, Jonathan Burpee, Elisha Nevers, junr.”

In reply to the letter, from which the foregoing is taken, Colonel Goold said that his ears would be shut to all insinuations as to the honesty of their submission, that their letter “seems to breathe the sentiments of a sincere repentance for inconsiderate follies past” and that he had not the least doubt it would meet with as favorable a reception as they could desire.

In spite of Goold’s tact and diplomacy there were a few irreconcilables, and on the 19th of May he wrote from Maugerville to Major Studholme, who had remained with the troops at the mouth of the river:

“As notwithstanding every measure which I have taken to reclaim some of the principal people concerned in the late defection, amounting to rebellion, on this river has proved fruitless, and they still continue obstinately bent on quitting their houses and families rather than submit to his Majesty’s gracious offers of clemency, I think it my duty to give you their names—Seth Noble, Elisha Nevers, Jacob Barker—that you may act upon the occasion agreeable to the orders you may have received from Major General Massey.”

Colonel Goold administered the oath of allegiance to all but a few of the people and, as his last word, charged them on no account to suffer those who inconveniently absented themselves from accepting the proposals of the Lieutenant Governor to return to their habitations without first proceeding to Halifax to beg pardon for their past behaviour. “I have nothing more to observe to you,” he adds, “but that you are not to pay any more respect to those Gentlemen, who lately styled themselves your rulers, than to every other common member of the community.”

On his return to Halifax, Col. Goold reported to Lt.-Gov’r Arbuthnot that the inhabitants at the River St. John had cheerfully taken the oath of allegiance, after delivering up two pieces of ordnance, formerly concealed by the French inhabitants.

While he was at the River St. John Goold had an interview with the Indians and made a speech to them in French, which seems to have produced a strong impression. Eight of the chiefs and captains swore allegiance to King George the Third in the name of their tribe, and had they been let alone by Allan it is probable the Indians would have given no further trouble to the Government or Nova Scotia. Colonel Goold regarded his arrival as opportune as Allan, Howe and others from Machias were assembled “to play the same game as last year.” Before he left the river he addressed a letter to the Indians in French, promising that he would represent to Lieut. Governor Arbuthnot their great desire to have a priest, and expressing his confidence that they might have Mons’r. Bourg, then stationed at 272 the Bay of Chaleur, who would be put on the same footing as their late missionary Bailly.

John Allan was altogether too determined a man to abandon the struggle for supremacy on the St. John without another attempt. He learned on the 29th of May that the “Vulture” had returned to Annapolis and he set out the very next day from Machias with a party of 43 men in four whale boats and four birch canoes. At Passamaquoddy he met with some encouragement and thirteen canoes joined the flotilla, which proceeded on to Musquash Cove, where they arrived on the evening of the 1st of June. Having ascertained that there were no hostile vessels at St. John harbor, Allan sent one of his captains named West with a party to seize Messrs. Hazen, Simonds and White. The party landed at Manawagonish Cove and marched through the woods to the St. John river above the falls, crossing in canoes to the east side of the river and landing at what is now Indiantown. Proceeding on through scrubby woods and over rough limestone they reached Portland Point undiscovered and took William Hazen and James White prisoners. James Simonds and Israel Perley had accompanied Col. Goold to Halifax, and in this way Mr. Simonds escaped capture, but it seems that a little later he was not so fortunate. There was now no good will between the people of Portland Point and their neighbors to the west. Allan states in his journal “Hazen and Simonds jeered our officers, saying that they made breastworks of women and children.” Tradition has it that on one occasion James Simonds told a party of marauders who had come to pillage that they would never dare to face the King’s soldiers for their blood was nothing but molasses and water.

Leaving a guard of sixty men at the mouth of the river under Capt. West, the rest of the invaders proceeded up the river taking their prisoners with them. West and his party took possession of Woodman’s store and buildings opposite Indiantown and occupied them for barracks. Allan directed them “To range the woods from Hazen’s across the river above the falls round to the Old Fort,” and in accordance with his instructions, the party came over every day to the Portland shore in order to capture any vessel that might enter the harbor and to prevent the landing of marines or seamen from any British man of war.

Allan in his diary gives an account of his trip up the St. John, which is of much local interest. He claims that the majority of the settlers, despite their late submission to Colonel Goold, were friendly to the American cause, although some were “great Zealots for Britain.” Gervas Say and Lewis Mitchell are said to have been instrumental in bringing Col. Goold to the river, and Allan endeavored to seize them. Mitchell’s influence was feared on account of his being of “an insinuating turn, particularly among the French and Indians.” Mitchell was captured by strategy at his house above Grimross, but a few days later he “made his elopement” and with the assistance of other loyalists was not long in bringing a hornet’s nest about the ears of his captors.


On the 5th of June, 1777, John Allan and his party arrived at the Indian village of Aukpaque where forty or fifty Indians arrayed in war costume of paint and feathers fired a salute of welcome. The visitors responded and in order still further to impress the Indians landed their two cannon and discharged them. Allan says that he found several of the Indian captains were vastly fond of Colonel Goold and seemed undetermined what to do. The inclinations of the head chiefs were diverse. Ambroise St. Aubin favored the Americans but Pierre Tomah, the head chief, inclined the other way. Allan, knowing full well by experience as an Indian trader the weak points of Indian character, flattered them, appealed to their cupidity, promised them presents and supplies at the trading posts he was about to establish, recalled the days when they regarded the French as their brothers affirming he had come to do them justice with the same authority Monsieur Boishebert had exercised in the French time. He was formally admitted into their tribe and as they had then no missionary the priest’s house, adjoining the chapel, was placed at his disposal. During the next four weeks there were formal conferences with the Indians with the usual harangues, exchange of wampum belts and other ceremonies, in all of which the American agent appeared to advantage. The chiefs made quite a grand appearance on these occasions, particularly Ambroise St. Aubin, who was attired in blue Persian silk coat, embroidered crimson silk waistcoat, scarlet knee breeches and gold lace hat with white cockade. In the intervals between the formal conferences Allan visited the various wig-wams exercising his powers of persuasion. Messengers were sent up the river to invite delegates from Medoctec and Madawaska and they were not long in coming when they learned that Allan had a quantity of supplies and presents at his disposal. The Madawaska delegates arrived on the 20th of June in three birch canoes; in their party were seven chiefs and captains, one of whom had lately assumed the name of Washington. Allan wrote to Boston that he needed an abundance of things sent him as he had been forced to be very lavish in his dealings with the Indians. In the same letter he says of the white inhabitants on the river: “I am sorry to say that the people have not acted with that spirit that becomes the subjects of Liberty. Much division has been among them * * and having no encouragement of success from the Westward and being surprised so suddenly by Col. Goold the whole gave up and are now become the subjects of Britain. The greatest part, I believe, is as zealous as ever and it is their earnest desire that a sufficient force be sent from the continent.”

William Hazen and James White had been left by Col. Allan prisoners on parole at the mouth of the river but a little later they were brought up the river to Aukpaque by Capt. Preble. James White’s long acquaintance with the Indians gave him an influence which Allan seems to have feared, for after they had been with him a week he issued the following order:—

“Wednesday, June 18, 1777, Prisoners Hazen and White are to mess by themselves for the future, not any of our people to join them.”

The very next day they were sent to the mouth of the river again and placed in charge of Capt. West and his party.


After the arrival of the Indian delegates from Medoctec and Madawaska a general conference was held at Aukpaque, and it was agreed “that peace and friendship be now established permanent and lasting between the United States and the several tribes”; also that a truck house be established by John Preble where the Indians should obtain good prices for their furs.

The account of John Allan’s doings at Aukpaque, as found in the diary kept by his lieutenant, Frederick Delesderniers, is very interesting reading. It is apparent to one who reads between the lines that Allan felt he was engaged in a game at which two could play, and he feared the outcome. In spite of his zealous efforts and apparent success he was suspicious of his native allies. He complains that the impression Colonel Goold had made seemed to occasion in them an unsteady conduct, so much so that notwithstanding their fair speeches, he at times thought that they would desert him after all. He was the more uneasy when informed by Israel Perley, on his return from Halifax, that the government of Nova Scotia had appointed so competent a man as Col. Michael Francklin agent of Indian affairs.

As soon as the authorities at Halifax were informed of Allan’s expedition and of what was going on at the River St. John they sent the warship “Mermaid” and the sloops “Vulture” and “Hope” with a detachment of troops under Major Studholme to put a stop to the proceedings. Allan’s force at the mouth of the river consisted of about sixty men under command of Captains West and Dyer. The “Vulture” arrived on June 23rd and an attempt was made to land a party of troops at Portland Point, but being fired upon by the enemy and having no exact information as to their strength, nothing further was attempted until the arrival of the other ships. Allan says “The ‘Vulture’ anchored within cannon shot of Simonds[104] where our party lay.”

On the morning, of the 30th of June about 120 men under command of Major Studholme left the ships in eight barges and landed at “Mahogany bay,” opposite the house of Samuel Peabody. They marched thence through the woods two and a half miles in the direction of the falls. Near what is now called Fairville, Studholme encountered about 40 men under Captain West and a sharp conflict ensued in which several were killed on both sides. The American invaders were soon put to flight and retired with great precipitation. It is said that one poor fellow climbed into a tree and might have escaped, but the cracking of a branch betrayed his hiding place, and a soldier “dropped him like a little carrier pigeon.” The next day Colonel Francklin arrived from Windsor with about 150 troops and militia.

Finding Studholme in hot pursuit West and his men ascended the Oromocto and crossing to the head waters of the Maguadavic managed to reach Machias. They had little or no provisions and endured almost intolerable hardships. When tidings of the disaster were brought to Aukpaque all was consternation. Pierre Tomah and some of the Indians were disposed to listen to the overtures of Michael Francklin, but Ambroise St. Aubin and the others were of a contrary mind.


The approach of the British filled the Indians with serious alarm, and this Allan did not try to allay, his greatest fear being that Pierre Tomah, “always considered a Tory,” might induce the majority to make terms with the English. He succeeded in persuading the Indians that their safest course was to retire with him, assuring them that the Americans would shortly regain possession of the river, and that the Massachusetts government would provide for them and in the end reward them for their fidelity. The Indians resolved to accompany Allan to Machias. They abandoned their cornfields, took down their chapel bell and moved across the river to the mouth of the Keswick. A conference was held with the Indians in Mazroles’s barn on Sunday, July 6th, at which Delesderniere says Colonel Allan made a very moving speech. The same night Allan’s men were surprised at Aukpaque by a British detachment who secured the baggage, provisions, cannon and arms they had in charge. The party had separated and gone to various French houses in the vicinity that they might not crowd one another, otherwise they must inevitably have all been taken. According to Delesderniers’ story the French did all they could to save Allan’s men and for recompense had their houses pillaged and burned and some of themselves made prisoners by the English. It was reported that the English soldiers had expressed their determination to follow Allan to the gates of hell to take him—they would at least follow to Medoctec. All this time Pierre Tomah was trying to make terms with the British and was much dejected that he could not carry his tribe with him.

Allan now donned the garb of an Indian chief, resolved to wear it to Machias. On his arrival at Medoctec he was in such a sorry plight that he wrote to his friends “I am at present destitute of everything, I am forced to put up with the fare the Indians can provide. I must again implore some help for the Indians; I am still suspicious if I leave them they will turn.”

Arrived at the old historic village of Medoctec (eight miles below the modern town of Woodstock) John Allan and his dusky companions did not long hesitate what course to pursue. Two Indian scouts sent down the river quickly returned with information that the English had given up the chase of West and his party, who fled by way of the Oromocto river, and were on their way to Medoctec in pursuit of Allan. This decided the Indians to proceed at once to Machias. The exodus was a remarkable one even for so migratory a people as the Maliseets. On Sunday, July 13th, a party of about 480 Indians—men, women and children—embarked in 128 canoes. The journey to Machias occupied three weeks and the party had a sorry time of it. The midsummer heat was excessive, the mosquitoes abundant, provisions scanty and the lowness of the streams greatly retarded the progress of the canoes. At each of the carrying places along the route a lively scene presented itself. “It is incredible,” says Delesderniers in his diary, “what difficulties the Indians undergo in this troublesome time when so many families are obliged to fly with precipitation rather than become friends to the tyrant of Britain. Some backing their aged parents, others their maimed and decrepid brethern, the old women leading the young children, mothers carrying their infants, together with great loads of baggage. As to the canoes the men make it a play to carry them across.” 276 The Indians after a time became impatient and desirous to return. They represented to Allan that they had abandoned the fertile banks of the St. John, their cornfields and hunting grounds for his sake, and requested that the Americans would vigorously exert themselves to take possession of and fortify that river, promising that they would assist in an expedition to gain and hold it or lose their lives in the attempt.

Allan’s enthusiasm over the spirit displayed by the Indians and their loyalty to him as their leader was somewhat dampened by their alarming consumption of his provisions and supplies, which he was obliged to dispense with a free hand or run the chance of their leaving him.

The account of Colonel John Allan’s operations on the River St. John given in the former part of this chapter may be supplemented by Colonel Michael Francklin’s official report to the Governor of Canada, Sir Guy Carleton, which follows:

Nova Scotia, River St. John,
 Maugerville, 23d July, 1777.

Sir,—The Continental Congress having by their Emissarys taken every method to alienate the affection of the savages of this Province from His Majesty so far prevailed as to induce part of the Tribes of this River, Passamaquoddie and Penobscott to associate last Fall with a few banditti from the eastern parts of New England, who together with some of our Provincial Rebels plundered the peaceable inhabitants of the County of Cumberland, seized upon the King’s provision vessels, and presumed to invest Fort Cumberland, but were finally defeated by His Majesty’s Troops under the command of Major Batt of the Royal Fencible American Regt.

Since last Fall a John Allan, late an Inhabitant of this Province, has been appointed by the General Congress agent to the Indians, and the beginning of June entered the River with Two pieces of cannon and about 120 Rebels, who were to be followed by a more considerable body. These Rebels were defeated the 30th of June at the mouth of the River by the King’s Troops under the command of Brigade Major Studholme, sent by Major General Massey. The day following I arrived in a civil capacity with about 150 Troops and militia from Windsor. These Rebels in their flight have been obliged to divide, one part passing over our western Boundary at about twenty miles from the sea, but Allan with the other part have been pursued up this river more than 120 miles and have retired from Medoctic by way of Penobscott. This last party were joined by Ambrose St. Auban, an Indian Chief, and some others whom I could not possibly draw off frown assisting the enemy, without whose aid they must have perished, having lost their little baggage, provisions, cannon and arms by one of our detachments falling on them on the 6th instant at Augpeake, ninety miles up this river. We are friendly with Pierre Toma, the other Indian chief, and part of the savages, and hostilities have not even been committed by us against the others.

“I have been particular that you Excellency may know our situation. An Indian war is of all others the most to be dreaded by this Government from the scattered situation of our settlements, and a word from your Excellency to the savages of this River, Passamaquoddie and Penobscott, sent by some of your well affected Indian Chiefs of the neighborhood of Quebec may have a very great weight with them and prevent much ruin and expense.

 “I have the honor to be, with respect,
 Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble servant,



The hint contained in the last paragraph of Francklin’s letter evidently was not lost upon Sir Guy Carleton, for later on, deputies from the Ottawas, Hurons, Algonquins, and other nations of Canada arrived at the River St. John and ordered the Micmacs and Maliseets to withdraw from the Americans and to remain quiet otherwise they would declare war against them. Upon receipt of this message, Francklin says, the Indians almost universally withdrew from Machias and remained tranquil to the close of the war. But this is anticipating the course of events.

Michael Francklin, though a native of the South of England, was admirably fitted for the position of superintendent of Indian affairs in Nova Scotia. He was at one time a captive with the Indians and had learned their language and customs. He was also conversant with the French tongue and this gave him still greater influence.

Unfortunately for the settlers at the mouth of the river a garrison was not left there for their protection by Francklin and Studholme, and as soon as the English ships departed Portland and Conway were as defenceless as ever. Privateers again appeared. The people were robbed and maltreated so that many were compelled to abandon their homes and seek refuge up the river.

Late in the autumn of this year an American sloop carrying eight guns entered St. John Harbor. Her captain, who bore the singular name A. Greene Crabtree, proved the most unwelcome and rapacious visitor that had yet appeared. Many of the settlers fled to the woods to escape the vandalism of his crew. From the store at Portland Point 21 boat loads of goods were taken. The plunder included a lot of silver ornaments, fuzees and other articles left by the Indians as pledges for their debts.[105]

John Allan seems to have had doubts as to whether this kind of thing came within the pale of civilized warfare, for in a letter written at Machias, November 18, 1777, he says:

“Capt. A. Greene Crabtree arrived here yesterday. He has been to the mouth of the St. John’s where he found a Truck House erected by the Britons under the care of Messrs. Hazen, White and Simonds. He took everything of their property only. Also all the Indian Pledges he has bro’t and delivered me, expecting some payment. I cannot say how far this was legal for a Privateer, but I am extremely glad it is done.”

The situation at the mouth of the St. John had now become intolerable; the inhabitants were well nigh beggared and the end of their trials apparently had not yet been reached. William Hazen therefore proceeded to Windsor and urgently demanded protection. Col. Small, of the Royal Highland Emigrants, went with him to Halifax and by their united efforts the authorities were convinced of the necessity for immediate action. A considerable body of troops was ordered to St. 278 John with directions to either repair Fort Frederick or to build a new fort as might seem most desirable. General Massey’s choice of Gilfred Studholme as commander of the expedition was a wise one. He was not only a brave and capable officer but his former experience as commander of the Fort Frederick garrison, and his intimate knowledge of the River St. John and its inhabitants—Whites and Indians—rendered him peculiarly fitted for the task to which he was appointed.

We come now to consider the circumstances under which Fort Howe was built.


Lieut.-Governor Arbuthnot wrote to the Secretary of State, Lord George Germaine, on the 11th October, 1777, that in consequence of frequent attacks on the settlements on the St. John river by the Machias rebels he had requested Brig.-Gen. Massey to establish a fortified post at the mouth of that river with a garrison of fifty men; this with the aid of a British frigate he thought would secure the inhabitants from further molestation, and prevent the Americans from occupying the post, an object they had long coveted. In the latter part of November, Brigade Major Studholme was sent to St. John with fifty picked men, a framed block-house and four six-pounders. The small force was brought in a sloop of war, which remained in the harbor for their protection till the next spring.

Studholme at first thought of restoring Fort Frederick, which the rebels had burned the year before, but in the end it was decided to erect a new fortification on the commanding site since known as Fort Howe. The lateness of the season rendered it necessary for the garrison to lose no time. They set to work vigorously 279 and with the assistance of the inhabitants erected the blockhouses, threw up the necessary defences, and were in snug winter quarters ere the cold weather set in.

The accompanying illustration is taken from a sketch of Fort Howe in 1781 by Capt. Benjamin Marston on board his vessel the “Brittania”, which was then lying at anchor in the harbor; the original is believed to be the only representation of Fort Howe before the arrival of the Loyalists that is in existence.

Colonel Robert Morse of the Royal Engineers thus describes the fort as he saw it in 1783:—

“This little work was erected in the course of the late war in preference to repairing a small square fort thrown up during the former war [Fort Frederick] the position of the latter being low and commanded, and not so well situated for the protection of the houses built in the cod of the bay, where two or three persons lived of a company to whom a large tract of land had been granted and who carried on a considerable trade with the Indians and persons settled up the river. The ridge upon which the new fort stands was offered by them and a work in which there are eight pieces of cannon, barracks for 100 men, and a small block-house was accordingly erected, together with a larger block-house at the other end of the ridge. The block-houses remain, but the work, which was composed of fascines and sods, is falling down, and the ridge on which it stands is too narrow to admit of any useful works being constructed upon it.”

The armament of Fort Howe, according to Col. Morse, consisted of 2 five and a half inch brass mortars, and 8 iron guns; the latter comprising 2 eighteen-pounders, 4 six-pounders, and 2 four-pounders. In the barracks were twelve rooms for the officers and accommodation for 100 men.

The guns of Fort Howe would be no better than pop-guns in modern warfare. Indeed they appear never to have been fired upon an invader. On Royal anniversaries and in honor of national victories they thundered forth a salute from their iron throats, and we may believe that on the ever memorable 18th of May, 1783, they gave a right royal welcome to the Loyalist founders of the City of St. John.

Scarcely had Major Studholme got his defences in order at Fort Howe, when the old Machias pirate, A. Greene Crabtree, reappeared upon the scene. He had disposed of his former booty and returned to complete the work of destruction. In order to accomplish his design he landed a party from his eight-gun vessel at Manawagonish, and proceeded through the woods intending to surprise the settlement at Portland Point; but in this case the surprise was his own. The sight of the British flag waving from the ramparts of Fort Howe was quite sufficient; he showed no inclination to try the mettle of Studholme’s garrison, and beat a hasty retreat.

General Massey, who had sent Studholme’s party to St. John, was of the opinion that a rigorous policy should be set on foot against the privateers, and in a letter to Lord Germaine laments that Arbuthnot did not command the naval squadron. “If he did,” he says, “these trifling pirates could not appear on the coast without meeting their deserved fate.” In the course of the next summer Captain Fielding succeeded in destroying six privateers in the space of three weeks time, and this served to render the Bay of Fundy coast a little more secure. But 280 already much damage had been inflicted. In the township of Conway, on the west side of St. John harbor, the settlers had been obliged to abandon their homes. Daniel and Jonathan Leavitt built small houses in Carleton near old Fort Frederick, where they were under the protection of Fort Howe. Messrs. Samuel Peabody, Gervas Say, Elijah Estabrooks, James Woodman, Thomas Jenkins, Zebedee Ring, John Bradley, John Jones and Peter Smith were so harrassed “by the continual robberies of the Rebel boats” that they were compelled to move up the river to escape the dangers of their exposed situation.

James Simonds also decided to change his residence at this time, and in the month of May (1778) he removed his effects and placed them on board a small vessel, lying above the falls, and with his family proceeded sixty miles up the river to a tract of land in the parish of Sheffield, which he had purchased of Charles Morris. The property comprised about 2,000 acres, but at the time of Mr. Simonds’ arrival not a single tree had been cut upon it. He built a small log house on the bank of the river just above Loder’s Creek as a shelter for his young and helpless family, and here they were destined to spend the next nine years of their lives. He left to Lemuel Cleveland the care of his house at Portland Point, and leased all his lands and buildings at the mouth of the river to Major Studholme for £60 per annum.

The presence of the garrison at Fort Howe did not entirely prevent the Machias marauders from interfering with the loyal inhabitants of St. John, and Messrs. Hazen and White arranged with John Curry of Campobello to give them warning whenever possible of any danger that might threaten from the direction of Machias.

John Curry was a native of Ireland. He came to Passamaquoddy about 1770, settled there and was appointed a justice of the peace in 1774. He was a man of intelligence and ability, but apparently had not enjoyed the advantages of a liberal education. He had himself several encounters with the privateers. In 1778 his house was plundered while he was absent, and many of his possessions carried off, including the records of the Court of General Sessions of the Peace of Passamaquoddy district, which met on the island of Campobello. Curry was an Indian trader and during the Revolution received supplies from Hazen and White. The following letter is of interest in this connection:—

“Campobello, July, 1781.

“Gentlemen,—Things here is much more peasable than I expected: the Indians appear very friendly which I think deters others from committing aney depredations in the neighbourhood. Have disposed of all the Goods I brought home and want the remainder of my Goods much, therefore if Hutchins and Archibald’s sloops is got to St. Johns beg you would desire them to proceed hear immediately, as I want to dispose of the Goods while the Weather is calme. * * Please send me a cask of flower as Bread begins to grow scarce: pray Hurrey Archibald along and tell him to come in the Night least sum Thiefe Should Bee lurking about the harbor.”

A few months later Mr. Curry again wrote to his friends to warn them of impending danger:

Campobello, March 22, 1782.

“Gentlemen,—In my last I Refur’d you to Major Studholme for sum inteligeance which was this: there is a small privateer at Machias that I expect will sale 281 every day. She is own’d and man’d by a parcle of Cumberland Refugees who is determined to suply themselves with Beef for use of the Crue at your expence by privately going to the Marsh (at St. John) and killing your Cattle. You may look for them every day after you receive this: they are bound up ye Bay a plundering. Take care of yourselves and pray keep this a profound secret.”

Signature of Major G. Studholme

The comparative security enjoyed by the people living on the River St. John after the erection of Fort Howe was largely due to the ability and zeal displayed by Major Gilfred Studholme. It is to be regretted that no portrait of this really eminent man is in existence, a fac-simile of his signature is given.[106] He was a native of Ireland where has family owned a considerable estate. On the 22nd November, 1756, he was commissioned an ensign in the 27th Foot, and embarked at Cork for Halifax in May following. He was commissioned Lieutenant in the 40th Foot November 10, 1761, and it was as an officer of this regiment he commanded the garrison at Fort Frederick. He was transferred to the 24th Foot, September 1, 1771, and temporarily retired from active service July 16, 1774. When the American Revolution broke out he offered his services and was appointed captain in Governor Legge’s “Loyal Nova Scotia Volunteers,” but was afterwards transferred to the command of a company in the Royal Fencible American regiment under Lieut. Col. Joseph Goreham. He served with credit at Fort Cumberland, sharing in the spirited attack of Major Batt, in which the beseigers under Eddy were driven off in great disorder and compelled to retire to the River St. John. The next summer Studholme drove John Allan from the St. John.

Lieut.-Governor Arbuthnot wrote Lord Germaine that the establishment of a fortified post at St. John was a necessity since it was a place coveted by the rebels, who wished to settle the river with people of rebellious principles after removing the inhabitants who were loyal subjects. It was at his request and that of the inhabitants at St. John that General Massey sent Major Studholme with fifty picked men to take post there, and although it was reported that John Allan had five hundred men at Machias, the general had no apprehension as to Studholme’s ability to maintain his post. General Massey wrote Lord Germaine on the 13th of March, 1778, that he continued to hear from Major Studholme every fortnight—that Fort Howe was perfectly secure. Some weeks later, however, on learning that a large force was assembling at Machias, he sent a reinforcement which arrived safely.


By the joint efforts of the garrison and of the inhabitants it was not long before Fort Howe was in a fairly good state of defence, barracks were built, with signal station adjoining, also a blockhouse at the east end of the ridge. These are shown in the illustration below.[107]

Small as were the numbers of the Indians—perhaps not more than 500 warriors in all Acadia—they were capable of devastating remote settlements and of creating general uneasiness and alarm.

Fort Howe in 1818

Rumors now began to prevail of an Indian uprising. John Allan contrived after his flight to Machias to keep in touch with the Indians of the River St. John and sent emissaries among them, who were very liberal in their promises of rewards, and who assured the savages that their old father the King of France had now joined hands with the Americans against the English.

Michael Francklin now began to act with vigor in the capacity of Superintendent of Indian affairs, and in consequence of his representations Lieut. Gov’r. Hughes sent to the Bay of Chaleur for the missionary Bourg to come and use his 283 influence with the savages. He also wrote a letter to James White, appointing him his deputy on the River St. John:—

“Windsor, 23d July, 1778.

“Sir,—Upon the Recommendation of Major Studholme & from what I know of your zeal to serve Government and from your knowledge & acquaintance with the Indians of the River St. John and its environs, I do hereby authorize and appoint you to act as my Deputy at and in the neighborhood of the said River St. John. You will therefore take under your care the said Indians and inform me from time to time of their wants and wishes, and what measures you conceive may at any time be adopted to promote his Majesty’s interest to the end they may not be led astray by the machinations and devices of his Majesty’s rebellious subjects or other of the King’s enemies. But in all your proceedings you are to consult with and follow the advice of Major Studholme who will be so obliging as to supply them, at your request, now and then with some provisions, but sparingly & when they shall be in absolute want of them.

“I have no salary to give or promise you, but as I have made a strong representation to the King’s minister of the necessity of a fund to defray the necessary expenses, if my representation shall be approved you may depend that I shall not fail of providing you with an annual allowance. You will not fail writing me by all opportunities. I am sir,

“Your most humble servant,
 “Mich. Francklin.

“James White, Esq.

A crisis now rapidly developed. John Allan prevailed on the Indians to return the British flag to Fort Howe and to send in a declaration of war. The Indians even went so far as to take several English vessels and to commit other acts of hostility.



The Great Indian Pow-wow at Fort Howe, and its Consequences.

The establishment of Fort Howe rendered the situation of the people at the mouth of the St. John comparatively secure, but the following summer was a very anxious and trying time to those who lived in the townships up the river. The Indians were restless and dissatisfied. They complained bitterly of being left without a missionary, and it was in vain that Lieut. Gov. Arbuthnot and Colonel Franklin endeavored to keep them in good temper by promising that a missionary would be sent them immediately.

Most of the settlers in the townships were natives of New England, and the threatened Indian uprising was particularly terrifying to them on account of their forefathers’ familiarity with the horrors of savage warfare. The Indians were supposed to be hostile only to those who were in opposition to American Independence, but it was felt that they would not be very nice in their distinctions if they once took the war path, and that the Whig might fare little better than the Tory.

The Indians had probably some grievances, but it is evident that the real disturbing influence emanated, as usual, from Machias. John Allan in his zeal for the conquest of Nova Scotia was determined to make every use of his Indian allies in order, if possible, to drive all English sympathizers from the St. John river. The formal declaration of war sent to Major Studholme was his composition. It was approved by the Maliseets at Machias and then forwarded to Aukpaque and after approval by the Indians there sent to Studholme at Fort Howe. The document read as follows:

“To the British Commanding Officer at the mouth of the River St. John’s:

“The Chiefs, Sachems and young men belonging to the River St. John’s have duly considered the nature of this Great War between America and Old England. They are unanimous that America is right and Old England is wrong. The River on which you are with your soldiers belongs from the most ancient times to our Ancestors, consequently is ours now, and which we are bound to keep for our posterity. You know we are Americans and that this is our Native Country: you know the King of England with his evil councillors has been trying to take away the Lands and Libertys of our Country, but God the King of Heaven, our King, fights for us and says America shall be free. It is so now in spite of all Old England and his Comrades can do.

“The great men of Old England in this country told us that the Americans would not let us enjoy our religion; this is false, not true, for America allows everybody to pray to God as they please; you know Old England never would allow that, but says you must all pray like the king and the great men of his court. We believe America now is right, we find all true they told us for our Old Father the King of France takes their part, he is their friend, he has taken the sword and will defend them. Americans is our Friends, our Brothers and Countrymen; what they do we do, what they say we say, for we are all one and the same family.

“Now as the King of England has no business, nor never had any on this 285 River, we desire you to go away with your men in peace and to take with you all those men who has been fighting and talking against America. If you don’t go directly you must take care of yourself your men and all your English subjects on this River, for if any or all of you are killed it is not our faults, for we give you warning time enough to escape. Adieu for ever.

“Machias, August 11, 1778.

“Auque Pawhaque, August 18th, 1778.

Michael Francklin was able at this critical moment effectually to check-mate the designs of John Allan. During the previous winter an express messenger had been sent to Sir Guy Carleton at Quebec to get permission for Father Bourg, the French missionary, to reside among the Indians of the River St. John. In his reply, dated February 23rd, 1778, Governor Carleton wrote that the missionary had orders to repair to Halifax in order to receive instructions for the establishment of his mission.

Just as Francklin and the missionary were about to leave Halifax they received information “that the Malecetes had plundered an English vessel, taken and ransomed another, robbed and disarmed many of the inhabitants and killed several cattle belonging to the King’s Loyal subjects on the River St. John, whom they had stiled Torys, and that they had even proceeded the length to return to Fort Howe the King’s Flag, accompanied with a formal declaration of war in writing.”

The services of James White at this time were invaluable. As early as the 2nd of April and at various times during the summer he went among the Indians to pacify them at great personal risk, always returning unharmed. This was due to the confidence placed in him by the majority of the savages, who had long known him in the capacity of an Indian trader. Mr. White went up the river to meet the Indian war party. He found among them many of the Penobscots and Passamaquoddies under Nicholas Hawawes, a noted chief. They had been instructed by Allan to return the colors sent the previous year by Major Studholme, to ravage the country in the vicinity of Fort Howe, to take prisoners and encourage the soldiers of the garrison to desert. Allan wrote the Massachusetts congress, “I earnestly and sincerely wish I had a hundred or two good troops at this juncture to go in boats along the shore to act in concert with the Indians.”

Our early historian, Moses H. Perley, says that James White, unarmed and without any escort, met the war party at the head of “Long Reach” as they were coming down the river in ninety canoes. He had a long conference with the chiefs, of whom the majority were disposed to be hostile; but Pierre Tomah, the head chief, said that before giving a final answer he must consult the Divine Being and throwing himself upon his face in the sand lay motionless for the space of nearly an hour. Then rising he informed the other chiefs that he had been counselled by the Great Spirit to keep peace with King George’s men. This decision was not acceptable to several of the chiefs, and Mr. White was still engaged in his negotiations when Colonel Francklin and Father Bourg arrived at St. John, having crossed from Annapolis in the war ship “Scarborough.” Messengers were immediately sent up the river to Mr. White desiring him to come down at once with Pierre 286 Tomah and the other chiefs and captains to meet Col. Francklin and the missionary Bourg, assuring them of a friendly reception. Francklin also wrote a letter to the Indians, which is here given.

“Fort Howe, 14 Sep. 1778.

“To Pierre Thomas and others
 the Indians of the River St. John.

“BRETHREN:—According to my promise last fall I have brought with me Mr. Bourg, your Priest, to instruct you and to take care of your eternal welfare.

“BRETHREN:—I am come to heal and adjust every difference that may exist between you and your Brethren the faithful subjects of King George your father, my master.

“BRETHREN:—As my heart is good, my hands clean and my intentions as white as snow; I desire Pierre Thomas and two or three other principal Indians do immediately come down to Fort Howe with Mr. White my Deputy to speak to me and to Mr. Bourg that we may settle in what manner to proceed to accomplish my good intentions towards you, and that your minds may be made easy I do hereby pledge myself that no harm shall happen to you from any of the King’s Troops or others His Majesty’s subjects.

“I am your affectionate Brother,

 “Superintendent of Indian Affairs.”

The Indians promptly accepted the invitation and a conference was held which Francklin terms “A grand meeting of the Indians at Menaguashe in the Harbour of the River St. John near Fort Howe on Thursday, the 24th September, 1778.” There were present on the part of King George the Third:—

Michael Francklin, Superintendent of Indian affairs; Major Studholme, commanding the garrison at Fort Howe; Capt. Mowatt, commanding his Majesty’s ship Albany; Rev. Mr. Bourg, missionary to the Indians; James White, agent for Indian affairs at St. John, and several other officers and gentlemen. The Indian delegates included Pierre Tomah, supreme sachem or chief of St. John River; Francis Xavier, 2nd chief; and four captains and eight principal Indians, representing the Maliseets of the St. John. There were also present delegates of the Micmacs of Richibucto, Miramichi, Chignecto and Minas.

Col. Francklin informed the Indians that according to his promise he had brought them a priest and it was his desire to settle and adjust amicably all differences between the Indians and his Majesty’s subjects. The proceedings of the conference are detailed at length in Francklin’s report to the Governor of Nova Scotia. The Indians after listening to the addresses of Francklin and Monsieur Bourg declared that they had been deceived by John Allan of Machias who had not spoken their sentiments but his own; they acknowledged their offences and offered to restore to the white inhabitants the arms and other articles in their possession (not consumed or destroyed) which they had taken, and promised that they would deliver to James White in the course of the winter, two hundred pounds of Beaver, or as many moose skins, in lieu thereof, towards making good the damage sustained by individuals. They added that they were poor and had been kept from hunting by the idle stories of John Allan and his friends.


Michael Francklin did not lose the opportunity to give Allan “a Rowland for his Oliver.” As Allan had been the author of the Indian declaration of war so would Francklin now dictate the message of reply. This message was couched in the following terms:—

“To John Allan and his Associates at Machias:

“The Chiefs and Great men of the Malecete and Mickmack Indians hereby give thee notice:—

“That their eyes are now open and they see clearly that thou hast endeavored to blind them to serve thy wicked purposes against thy lawful sovereign King George, our forgiving and affectionate Father.

“We have this day settled all misunderstanding that thou didst occasion between us and King George’s men.

“We now desire that thee and Preble, and thy Comrades will remain in your wigwams at Machias and not come to Passamaquadie to beguile and disturb our weak and young Brethren. We will have nothing to do with thee or them or with your storys, for we have found you out; and if you persist in tempting us we warn you to take care of yourselves. We shall not come to Machias to do you harm, but beware of Passamaquodie for we forbid you to come there.

“At Menaguashe, the 24th September, 1778.


Pierre Thomas x, Francis Xavier x, Chiefs of the Malecetes and in their behalf. Jean Baptiste Arimph x, Chief of Richibouctou and in behalf of the Mickmacks.

During the conference Father Bourg produced a letter he had lately received from the Bishop of Quebec instructing him not to suffer any Indian to enter his Church who should molest the white settlers or take part in the rebellion against the constituted authorities of Nova Scotia, and directing him to forward a list of the names of any Indians who should disobey his orders to Quebec that he might “cast them out of the Church as disobedient and undutifull children.”

The Indians were not long in deciding to make terms with the British and in signifying their willingness to take the oath of allegiance to the King. Accordingly the chiefs and captains and other delegates on their knees took a solemn oath in which they pledged themselves to bear faithful and true allegiance to his Majesty King George the Third. They also promised to give information to the King’s officers and magistrates of any hostile designs of the enemy that should come to their knowledge; to protect the persons of Michael Francklin and Joseph Mathurin Bourg, their missionary, from insult, outrage or captivity; not to take any part directly or indirectly against the King in the troubles then existing, but to follow their hunting and fishing in a peaceable and quiet manner; not to go to Machias or hold any communication with the people of that neighborhood or other rebellious subjects of his Majesty.

Having taken the oath in behalf of themselves and their several tribes the Indians delivered to Col. Francklin a string of Wampum as a solemn confirmation of their act and deed. They also delivered the presents sent them by Washington together with the treaty they had made with the Massachusetts government on July 19, 1776, in which they had promised to furnish 600 warriors for the service of the United States Congress.


Although the Indians, by the treaty they had just signed, ostensibly settled all the differences between themselves and “King George’s men,” there were still certain functions dear to the savage heart to be performed before the grand pow-wow was ended.

The oath of allegiance having been taken and the treaty duly signed, all the chiefs and captains united with the English delegates in drinking the King’s health, and Colonel Francklin decorated the chiefs and captains with his own hands and distributed to the other Indians a variety of clothing and presents. After this, we are informed, “the night, altho’ rainy, was spent in the open air with great mirth under the British Flag.” The next day the Indians went on board the Albany man-of-war, where they again very cheerfully drank the King’s good health, and were presented with a pound of gunpowder each. They concluded the afternoon and evening on shore “with great satisfaction and good humor.” Colonel Francklin concludes his official report of the proceedings as follows:—

“The 26th September the Indians, being on their departure, were saluted at 12 o’clock by the cannon of Fort Howe and his Majesty’s ship Albany, and it was returned by three Huzzas and an Indian Whoop. Then the Micmac Chief made a handsome speech and delivered to the Superintendent [Francklin] a string of Wampum on behalf of the whole Micmac nation, as their seal of approbation and agreement to everything that had been transacted. This being finished, the Superintendent, Major Studholme and Rev. Mr. Bourg, were desired to seat themselves, when a Malecete captain began a song and dance in honor and praise of the Conference and those concerned therein. On his finishing, a Micmac captain began another song and dance to the same purpose. The Superintendent then, with Major Studholme and the Rev. Mr. Bourg and the other Gentlemen, marched off with the Indians to the portage above the falls of the River St. John and stayed there until Mr. Bourg and the Indians embarked, when the Gentlemen on the landing were saluted by the musquetry from the Indian canoes.”

During the continuance of the conference the Indians received every attention on the part of Francklin, Studholme and the white inhabitants. Francklin kept a table for their entertainment which cost him £40, and the value of the presents and supplies furnished on the occasion amounted to £537 more. The goods required were mostly obtained from the store at Portland Point and the account rendered to Francklin by William Hazen is yet in existence. It contains some curious and interesting items. The presents for the Indians included blankets, hats, ribbons, gold and silver lace, intermixed with axes, pots, kettles, knives and tobacco. Among the more expensive presents were “1 large Silver plated Cross with the figure of our Saviour on it, £3 10 0,” and “1 small Gold plated Cross with the figure of our Saviour on it. £2 6 8.” The heading of the account reads: “The Hon’ble Michael Francklin Esq’r., Superintendent of Indians, to Wm. Hazen Dr. for sundrys paid and supplies furnished by his order for the use of the Indians assembled at Menaguashe, near Fort Howe, from the 13th September to 19th October, 1778.” Some of the expenditures were evidently dictated by motives of policy; see for example the following:—

“Paid Dr. Sharman, surgeon at Fort Howe, for attendance and medicines to Pierre Thoma and four other sick Indians, £5 16 8.


“Pd. Acmobish for 3 Beaver Traps stolen last year by the soldiers, £1 10 0.

“Pd. Charles Nocout ten dollars to make up for an Englishman’s beating of him.

“To sundrys delivered to aged and infirm people, viz. Magdalen Katpat, Magdalen La Porte, Marie Barishe & others, £13 10 0.”

Quite a number of the white settlers and several Acadians were engaged by Francklin in various capacities while the negotiations with the Indians were in progress. Gervas Say and Capt. Quinton received £7 for going to Aukpaque and attending the Indians coming down to Fort Howe. Daniel Leavitt, Lewis Mitchel, John Hartt, Louis Goodine, Augustin LeBlanc and Messrs. Peabody and Brawn acted as couriers, express messengers and negotiators under direction of Francklin, Studholme and James White.

The general result of the grand pow-wow was considered exceedingly fortunate for the Province of Nova Scotia under the circumstances then existing. Sir Richard Hughes, the lieutenant-governor, writing to Lord Germaine, expresses his great satisfaction at the result of the conference and praises the talents, zeal and diligence of Francklin “to whose discreet conduct and steady perseverance,” he says, “assisted by Major Studholme and M. Bourg, the priest, we owe the success of this treaty.” Francklin, on his part, seems disposed to award the meed of praise to Studholme and writes Sir Henry Clinton: “In justice to Major Studholme, commanding at Fort Howe, I am obliged to say that his constant zeal and singular address and prudence has been a great means of keeping the Indians near his post quiet.” But while both Francklin and Studholme are deservedly entitled to credit for the success of their negotiations, there is not the least doubt that the man to whom even greater credit is due is James White, the deputy agent of Indian affairs at the River St. John. Mr. White, although acting in a subordinate capacity, was in direct contact with the savages at the time they were most unfriendly, and it was his tact and fearlessness that paved the way for the subsequent negotiations. For six months he devoted his time and energies to the task of conciliating the Indians, receiving from government the modern sum of one dollar for each day he was so employed.[108] Most potent of all perhaps in the ultimate result of the conference, was the presence of the French missionary Bourg. It was this that inspired the Indians with confidence in the good intentions of the government of Nova Scotia, and when the missionary accompanied them on their return to Aukpaque their satisfaction was unbounded.

The Indians of the River St. John still possess a traditionary knowledge of the treaty made at Fort Howe in September, 1778, and refer to it as the time when the Indian and the Englishman became “all one brother.” Some of the Indians claim that when the treaty was made it was understood that an Indian should always have the right to wander unmolested through the forest and to take the bark of the birch tree for his canoe or the splints of the ash tree for his basket-making 290 regardless of the rights of the white owner of the soil. In many parts of the province there is an unwritten law to this effect, and the Indian roams at pleasure through the woods in quest of the materials for his simple avocations and pitches his tent without let or hindrance.

In order to cultivate friendly relations with the Indians and to guard against the insidious attempts of the people of Machias to wean them from their allegiance it was decided to establish a trading house for their accommodation at the landing place above the falls at the mouth of the St. John. This locality still bears the name of Indiantown, a name derived from the Indian trading post established there in 1779. In old plans Main street, Portland, is called “Road to ye Indian House.”

On the 8th of December, 1778, Colonel Francklin sent instructions to James White to proceed with the building of the Indian House which was to cost only £30. He says in his letter, “The ground should be very well cleared all about or the Brush will sooner or later most assuredly burn it. The boards required may be sawed from the Spruces on the spot if you have a whip-saw. The Shingles can be made by any New England man in the neighborhood.” The house was built in the course of the next few months by James Woodman, who was by trade a shipwright. For some reason the sum of £30 voted by the Council of Nova Scotia for the erection of the building was never paid, and it remained the property of Hazen, Simonds and White. The three partners not long afterwards cleared a road to the Indian House, the course of which was nearly identical with that of the present “Main street.” They also built a wharf at the landing and a small dwelling house which was occupied by one Andrew Lloyd, who has the distinction of being the first settler at Indiantown.

Not many weeks after the signing of the treaty at Fort Howe, Col. John Allan of Machias sent Lieut. Gilman and a band of Penobscot Indians to make a demonstration at the River St. John. They captured a small vessel about sixty miles up the river and plundered one or two of the inhabitants but the only result was to create an alarm amongst the settlers without producing any effect upon the Indians. Pierre Tomah and most of his tribe were at this time encamped at Indian Point on the north side of Grand Lake.

To offset the influence of Father Bourg, Col. John Allan induced the American Congress to obtain a missionary for the Indians at Machias and Passamaquoddy and he hoped by this means to seduce the Indians remaining on the St. John from their allegiance and draw them to Machias. Never in their history did the Maliseets receive such attention as in the Revolutionary war, when they may be said to have lived at the joint expense of the contending parties. The peace of 1783 proved a dismal thing indeed to them. Their friendship became a matter of comparative indifference and the supplies from either party ceased while the immense influx of new settlers drove them from their old hunting grounds and obliged them to look for situations more remote.

After the alliance formed between France and the old English colonies in America was known to the Indians of Acadia, Francklin’s task of keeping them in hand became more difficult and as regards those on the River St. John he might have failed but for the powerful influence of the Abbe Joseph Mathurin Bourg.


The Indians resisted every temptation held out to them by the Americans during the year 1779, and welcomed Colonel Francklin and the Missionary Bourg in their principal villages with great rejoicing.

Major Studholme’s post at Fort Howe was rendered more secure at this time by the capture of Castine, at the mouth of the Penobscot River. The place was then known by its Indian name of Megabagaduce. Had there been a little more energy and foresight on the part of Admiral Collier, Machias would have shared the same fate, and the result might have been greatly to the advantage of the maritime provinces today. The importance of such a move was self-evident. It was seriously discussed both in England and America, and a plan was very nearly adopted that might have altered the map of America to the advantage of the Canadian dominion. This plan was nothing less than to divide the colony of Maine, giving to that part extending from Saco to the River St. Croix the name of New Ireland and settling it with Loyalists who had been driven from the other colonies in rebellion. The project is believed to have been countenanced by the King and the ministry, but eventually it was abandoned in consequence of the opinion of Wedderburne, the English attorney-general, that the whole of Maine was included in the colony of Massachusetts and that the charter of that colony should be respected.

There is extant a very interesting letter, written at New York in 1780 by the Rev. Wm. Walter to his friend, the Rev. Jacob Bailey, then in Nova Scotia, which shows that the project was seriously discussed in America as well as in England. Mr. Walter writes:

“If you have not already heard it permit me to acquaint you that there is a plan in considerable forwardness to erect the Province of Maine into a Province by itself, to extend from Saco to St. Johns river, making Falmouth [now Portland] the capital;[109] to secure this new Province by strong Forts and Garrisons; to invite the Refugees from the other Provinces in rebellion to settle in this, and by liberality of its constitution to show to the other Provinces the great advantages of being a portion of the Empire and living under the protection of British Government. Sir William Pepperrell is talked of as Governor. The large tracts of land belonging to companies and individuals, which are not forfeited, will be purchased and the whole distributed in farms of 200 acres to every settler. These distributions and appointments are to be in the management and recommendaton of a respectable Board of Refugees [Loyalists] which is now forming under the auspices of Government in this city [New York].”

It is a curious fact that a little after the close of the Revolutionary war an attempt was made of a very different character to erect this territory into the “Free and Independent State of New Ireland.” A constitution and frame of government were prepared by a committee for the consideration of a convention of delegates. In the preamble of their report the Loyalists are termed “the Sons of Slavery and Dregs of the human species in America.” The committee evidently entered upon 292 their work of constitution making with great gusto as will appear from the following:

“Agreeable to the trust reposed in us by the good People of New Ireland, We, anticipating the glorious morning of American Freedom, which will shortly shine upon them with a lustre superior to any other spot on the terraqueous Globe, after consluting with the sagest Politicians of the Age, and carefully examining the several frames of Government already erected in this new Empire, and particularly all the advantages which Divine Revelation affords; have drawn up the following Frame of Government for New Ireland, which, from the knowledge we have of the dispositions of our Constituents we have ground to believe will be very acceptable to them, and calculated to render them and their posterity the happiest People on the earth.”

Among the provisions of the Constitution were several that may be mentioned for their oddity. Not only were all tavern keepers debarred from holding office “lest spirituous liquors should influence the choice,” but the legal fraternity were viewed with suspicion and it was ordained that “Practising Lawyers or Attornies shall not be eligible for any office of profit or trust in the State whilst they continue such.”

In order still further to keep the morals of the people pure and uncorrupted, and for the encouragement of piety and virtue and the suppression of vice and immorality, it was provided that “no Stage Plays, Horse-racing, Cock-fighting, Balls and Assemblies, Profane swearing and cursing, Sabbath-breaking, Drunkenness, nocturnal revelling, whoredom, Cards, Dice, and all other games whatsoever, commonly called Games of Chance (Lotteries ordered by the Legislature to raise money for public uses excepted) shall be permitted.”

The would-be founders of New Ireland close their report by expressing their hope that Europeans, panting after the sweets of Liberty and Independence will flock thither. “Here,” say they, “are no griping and racking Landlords to oppress you; no avaricious Priests to extort from you the Tenth of all your increase and labors and whom you must pay for the liberty to come into the world, of being married, of having children and likewise of leaving the world. * * * Send here the frugal and industrious; no half Gentlemen with long pedigrees from Nimrod and Cain, nor any who expect to make their fortunes by any other methods than the plain beaten paths of honest industry, for idle indolent people, unwilling to work, ought not to eat but to live in all places miserable.”

But to return from this digression; it is clear that if the British forces had routed John Allan and his Indians out of Machias in 1779, as they might easily have done if a serious effort had been made, the American congress would then have had no foothold east of Saco, so that Portland and all the coast to the St. Croix would have been, at the close of the war, as firmly in the possession of the English as any part of Nova Scotia. The American writer Kidder, in his interesting account of the military operations in eastern Maine and Nova Scotia during the Revolution, says: “It is now generally conceded that our present boundary was fixed mainly on the ground of occupation, and had we not been able to hold our eastern outpost at Machias, we cannot say what river in Maine would now divide us from a British province.”



White Chiefs and Indian Chiefs.

In the year 1779 many of the Indians at Machias and Passamaquoddy began to waver in their adherence to the Americans and to imagine they would fare better by withdrawing from John Allan and returning to their old haunts on the River St. John. Allan wrote in the autumn of this year, “The unsteady conduct of the Indians has obliged me to use every means to prevent their going to St. Johns. I have not met with such difficulty previous to this summer.” He managed to keep them a little longer, but in July of the next year came the great defection which had been so long impending. The immediate cause of this defection it will be of interest now to consider.

Sir Guy Carleton, not long after his appointment to the command at Quebec, secured the allegiance of the principal Indian tribes of Canada, and at his instigation messages were sent to Machias early in April 1779, desiring the Indians there to have no further connection with the Americans, adding that the Indians of Canada were coming across the woods, as soon as the leaves were as big as their nails, to destroy the settlements on the Penobscot and the Kennebec. In order to impress the Indians with the importance of the message the delegates who bore it were furnished with an immense belt of wampum of 1500 pieces. “We send you this Great Belt,” say the Canadian Indians, “for every one of you to see and think of, and to show it to the St. Johns and Micmac Indians, and then to return the belt to us immediately.” The message contained a further assurance that nine thousand Indians were ready to execute any orders they might receive from the British general in Canada. The arrival of this message made a great impression on the Indians, and occasioned in them “a fluctuating and unsteady conduct,” but John Allan was able, with the help of Mon. de la Motte, a French priest, to keep them in control.

Curiously enough at this crisis the old St. John river chieftain, Pierre Thoma, arrived at Machias in quite an indignant frame of mind. His annoyance was caused by General McLean’s ordering Major Studholme not to furnish any more provisions to the Indians. Francklin considered this order a mistake, and at once represented to the secretary of state the necessity of keeping the Indians in good humor as the cutting of masts and timber for the Royal Navy, the safety of the English settlers on the River St. John and communication with Canada might all be endangered by losing their good will. His statements were strongly supported by Sir Richard Hughes, the lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia. The next spring Col. Francklin invited the Indians at Passamaquody and Machias to a conference at Fort Howe.

Two English schooners arrived at Passamaquody on the 1st of June. John Allen at once issued an order to the Indians not to hold any intercourse with unwelcome visitors, but, he adds, “Pierre Tomma the chief of St. John, always considered a Tory, and Lewis Neptune of Penobscot went on board and received presents.” 294 They were told that Col. Franklin and Father Bourg were at Fort Howe with presents and supplies and desired a conference with them. Soon after three special messengers arrived from Father Bourg desiring the Indians to attend him immediately on business of the church. The result of these invitations we shall presently see, but in the meantime an important conference was being held at the River St. John.

There are many references to this conference but we shall first consider a letter which Col. Franklin wrote from Windsor to Sir Henry Clinton, 21st August, 1780. In this letter Franklin states, “A meeting was held the 24th June about ninety miles above Fort Howe attended by upwards of 900 Indians. Deputies from the Ottawas, Hurons, Algonkins, Montanagais, Abenakies and Canabas attended and made the speech inclosed.”

This speech was addressed to the Malecete, Passamaquoddie and Mickmack Indians and was in substance as follows:

“Our dear Brothers, We come to warn you that the Boston people, having destroyed several of our villages, killed our wives and children and carried off our young women by force, we to revenge ourselves for these outrages have declared war against them. If there are yet remaining among them [i. e. the Americans] any of your people, let them withdraw immediately, for they will be treated like the enemy if they remain with them. Therefore our dear Brothers we tell you to remain quiet and in peace. We have 13,000 men assembled, who are allied against the Boston people and they have already taken twenty-seven villages larger than Three Rivers in Canada, and to burn their villages they sent more than 300 lighted arrows which instantly destroyed their houses, great part of the Inhabitants were burnt and those who attempted to escape were put to death. Now we demand your answer.”

The Micmacs and Maliseets presented belts of wampum and replied that so long as the King of England should continue to leave them free liberty of hunting and fishing and to allow them priests sufficient for the exercise of their religion they promised to keep quiet and peaceable.

This grand Indian pow-wow seems to have been brought about largely by Franklin’s diplomacy. He was not himself present at the meeting but the interests of the English were well looked after by Major Studholme, James White and the Missionary Bourg. The conference with the visiting delegates was held at Aukpaque and 300 warriors were present besides 600 women and children. A considerable quantity of presents and supplies had been sent from Windsor to Fort Howe by the schooner Menaguash, Peter Doucet, master, to be given to the Indians—blankets, shirts, blue and scarlet cloth, beaver bats, ribbons, powder and shot, and lastly, “one cask of wine sent by Mr. Francklin for the squaws and such men as do not drink rum.”[110]

The arrival of the messengers sent by Studholme to the Indians of Machias and Passamaquody, assuring them that if they would give their attendance at Fort Howe they would be well treated and receive handsome presents, made them extremely 295 anxious to at least have a look at the presents; at the same time urgent invitations from Father Bourg gave them a good excuse for going. For two days John Allan exercised all his powers of persuasion to keep them, but in vain; go they would. They assured him “that they only meant to see the priest, their souls being heavy and loaded with burthens of sins, and that they acted upon a duty commanded in their church which they could not neglect.”

On the 3rd July nearly all the Indians, some women and children excepted, set out for Fort Howe. In a letter to the Massachusetts Congress Allan mournfully observes: “I am very unhappy in being obliged to acquaint you of this, after the success I have experienced in disappointing the Priest and Mr. Francklin these three years.”

The substantial results of Francklin’s policy of conciliation were the inducing of the Indians who had acted with enemy to return to their former villages and live peaceably there, second the opening of a safe route of communication via the St. John river with Quebec and thirdly protection of the King’s mast cutters.

Colonel Francklin wrote to Lord Germaine on the 21st November, 1780, that the disposition of the Indians during the summer and autumn had been very tranquil and he attributed the fact largely to the conference held on the River St. John on the 24th of June, when the deputies of the Ottawas, Hurons and other nations of Canada required the Micmacs and Malissets to withdraw from the Americans and to remain quiet.

The situation of Gilfred Studholme, as commandant at Fort Howe, was at times a difficult and uncomfortable one. His garrison was none too large at the best, and, although the majority of his soldiers displayed remarkable fidelity, there were occasional desertions. John Allan naturally used every means in his power to render the post untenable. In August, 1778, he sent Nicholas Hawawes, an Indian chief, with a small party to the mouth of the St. John with orders to destroy the cattle around the Fort, that were intended for the use of the troops[111], to take prisoners and encourage desertion. The Indians were provided with letters, written by deserters who had already come to Machias, which they were instructed to convey secretly to the soldiers of the garrison.

Studholme was compelled to take stern and it may even seem terrible measures to repress desertion, as will be seen in the following note which he addressed to James White:

“Sir,—I shall esteem it as a favor if you will endeavour to get some Indians to bring in the three deserters, for each of which I will give Ten Guineas. Should the 296 soldiers make any opposition the Indians are to make use of force, and if compelled to kill them, they are to bring in their Heads, for each of which they will receive Ten Guineas.

 “I am, Sir,
“Your most obedient servant,

Among the important services which Major Studholme was able to accomplish while at Fort Howe should be mentioned the establishment of excellent communication between Halifax and Quebec by way of the St. John river. This had been the customary route of travel between Acadia and Canada during the final conflict between England and France for supremacy in North America (A. D. 1744–1759) and was well known to the French and their Indian allies; it now proved of equal service to the English.

In order to facilitate communication with Quebec, and at the same time to afford protection to the settlements on the St. John, a block house was built at the mouth of the Oromocto river and a few soldiers stationed there under command of Lieut. Constant Connor. The post was named Fort Hughes in honor of Sir Richard Hughes, the lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia. A number of log huts, or post-houses were built, at intervals of about a day’s journey, from the block house at Oromocto to the St. Lawrence. Over this route important messages were carried between the civil and military authorities of Halifax and Quebec, and sometimes dispatches were sent from the Commander-in-chief of the forces at New York to Sir Guy Carleton and Sir Frederick Haldimand at Quebec. Indians were occasionally employed to carry the messages, but greater confidence was placed in the Acadians. The most famous couriers probably were Louis Mitchel and the brothers Louis and Michel Mercure. The couriers were aware of the value of their services, and they demanded, and generally received, one hundred dollars for each trip from Fort Howe to Quebec. This was regarded as extravagant by Major Studholme and General Haldimand, but they could do no better. They dared not trust the Indians with important dispatches, and when the Acadian couriers were not available messages were usually carried by officers accompanied by Indians as guides.

The route via the River St. John was used both in summer and winter. It is said that when the water was high the Indians were able to deliver letters from Quebec to the French commander at the mouth of the St. John in four or five days, a distance of 430 miles. This statement is made by John Allan and there is nothing impossible about it. The Messrs. Straton of Fredericton, some years since, paddled in a bark canoe from the Grand Falls to Fredericton, 133 miles, in 14 hours 46 minutes, making a short stop at Woodstock on the way. Short distances have been covered at much greater rates of speed. The Acadian couriers were usually a fortnight going from Oromocto to Quebec in the summer and about double that time in the winter.

Like others of their race the Indians of the St. John were fleet of foot and possessed of great endurance, qualities that are by no means wanting in their descendants. Some forty years ago a Maliseet Indian, named Peter Loler, gave a remarkable exhibition of speed and endurance, which is still talked of by the older residents of Woodstock. The circumstances, briefly stated, were these. One pleasant 297 summer morning Loler presented himself to the driver of the old four-in-hand stage coach which was just about leaving the hotel at Fredericton for Woodstock, the distance being rather more than sixty miles. The Indian desired a passage and offered the customary fare. The driver on the occasion was John Turner, one of the most accomplished whips of the old stage coaching days, and popular with all travellers. As the stage coach was pretty full and the day promised to be very warm Turner, after a brief consultation with the passengers, declined the Indian’s money and upon Loler’s remonstrating, told him in plain Saxon that the other passengers didn’t like the smell of him, that his room was better than his company. This angered Peter and he said, “All right, John! Me be in Woodstock first!”

At 8 o’clock, a. m., Indian and stage coach left Fredericton together, and together they proceeded and in spite of Turner’s endeavor to throw dust in the Indian’s face the latter was always a little in advance. He stopped at every place the stage stopped to change horses (this occurred four or five times on the route) and took his dinner with all the solemnity of his race in the kitchen of the “Half-way House” where the passengers dined.

As they drew near their destination the Indian’s savage nature seemed to assert itself; he ran like a deer, waving his cap at intervals as he passed the farm houses, and shouting defiantly. Turner now began to ply the whip, for he had no intention of allowing the red-skin to beat him out. The passengers began to wager their money on the result of the race and grew wild with excitement. The Indian village, three miles below Woodstock, was passed with Loler fifty yards in advance, but the village was not Peter’s destination that day. He saluted it with a war-whoop and hurried on. It was still early in the afternoon when the quiet citizens of Woodstock were aroused in a manner entirely unexpected. The stage coach came tearing into town at the heels of an Indian who was yelling like a demon and running as for his life, John Turner plying the whip in lively fashion, and four very hot and tired horses galloping at their utmost speed. The finish was a close one, but the Indian was ahead. As soon as he had regained his breath sufficiently to speak, Loler walked over to where Turner was standing and philosophically remarked, “John! me here first!” Turner’s answer is not recorded.

Our story should end here, but alas for poor human nature, it remains to be told that the Indian was soon surrounded by a crowd of friendly admirers, and before the close of the day was gloriously—or shall we say ingloriously—drunk.

From the year 1779 onward the cutting of masts for the navy became an industry of growing importance on the River St. John and Col. Francklin’s efforts were largely directed to the protection of the workmen so employed from being molested by the Indians. The consideration of the “masting” industry will be taken up in the next chapter.

Michael Francklin died Nov. 8, 1782, deeply lamented by all classes of society. His last general conference with the Maliseets was at Oromocto in the month of November, 1781, when he distributed presents to nearly four hundred Indians who had assembled there. On this occasion he settled amicably some jealousies that had 298 arisen about the election of chiefs. He tells us that the Indians were eager to go to the defence of the block house on the occasion of a recent alarm, that they were grateful for the continuance of their missionary Bourg and were resolved to again plant corn on the river. At the close of the conference they quietly dispersed to their hunting.

In spite of the interference of war the traffic in furs with the Indians was still very considerable, and about this time Hazen and White sent a consignment to Halifax in the ship Recovery, to be shipped to England for sale, which included 571 Moose skins, 11 Caribou, 11 Deer, 3621 Musquash, 61 Otter, 77 Mink, 152 Sable, 40 Fishers, 6 Wolverene, 11 “Lucervers,” 17 Red Fox, 6 Cross Fox, 9 Bear.

Michael Francklin continued to the last to cultivate the friendship of Pierre Thoma the old Maliseet chieftain whose descendants, it may be observed, are numerous at the present day. The name of this well known Indian family (variously spelled Thoma, Toma, Tomah, Tomer) is clearly of French origin, and was originally Thomas, which pronounced in French fashion sounds like Tomah. The name Pierre Thoma was very common among both the Micmacs and the Maliseets, so common indeed as to make it difficult to distinguish between individuals. A few observations will enable the reader to see what splendid opportunities there are for confusion with regard to those Indians who bore the name of Pierre Thoma.

In the month of August, 1827, the Lieut.-Governor of New Brunswick, Sir Howard Douglas, visited the historic Indian village of Medoctec, where he was introduced to an Indian name Pierre Thoma (or Toma Pierre) aged 93 years. The old warrior, who had lost an eye and an arm in the battle of the Heights of Abraham in 1759, was carefully provided for by the kindly hearted governor. Our first conclusion naturally would be—this is the old chieftain of Revolutionary days. But further investigation shows such a conclusion to be very improbable. If old Tomah, who greeted Sir Howard Douglas, were 93 years old in 1827, he must have been born in 1734, and in that case (supposing him to have been Francklin’s old ally) he would have filled the office of supreme sachem or head chief of the St. John river when about thirty years of age, which is very unlikely. But this is not all. In the sworn testimony submitted to the commissioners on the international boundary in 1797, John Curry, Esq., of Charlotte County says that when he came to the country in 1770 there was an Indian place of worship and a burial ground on St. Andrew’s Point at the mouth of the River St. Croix, and that among those whom he recollected to have been buried there were John Neptune (alias Bungawarrawit), governor of the Passamaquoddy tribe, and a “chief of the Saint John’s Tribe known by the name of Pierre Toma.” There can be little doubt that the latter was our old chief Thoma. His wife was one of the Neptune family whose home was at Passamaquoddy. The burial ground at St. Andrew’s Point was abandoned by the Indians when the Loyalists settled at St. Andrews in 1783. We may therefore conclude that Pierre Thoma did not long survive his old friend and Patron Michael Francklin. Their acquaintance began as early at least as the summer of 1768, when Governor Thoma and Ambroise St. Aubin had an interview with Lieut.-Governor Francklin and his council at Halifax. At that time the chiefs made a favorable 299 impression. They requested that their missionary Bailly, lately arrived might remain with them, complained that rum was much too common for the good of their people, desired lands for cultivation and that their hunting grounds should be reserved to them. Having completed their business they stated “We have nothing further to ask or represent, and we desire to return soon, that our people may not be debauched with liquor in this town.”

The previous summer (12th August, 1767) Rev. Thomas Wood officiated at a notable wedding at Halifax the contracting parties being a young Indian captain named Pierre Jacques and Marie Joseph, the oldest daughter of “old King Thoma.” An English baronet, Sir Thos. Rich, and other distinguished guests were present on the occasion. However this Thoma was not our old Maliseet chief, for Mr. Wood observes of him, “Old King Thoma looks upon himself as hereditary king of the Mickmacks.” Moreover the date is too nearly coincident with an interesting event at Aukpaque in which Pierre Thoma was concerned. The event was a christening at the Indian chapel the particulars concerning which we find in the old church register. The Abbe Bailly on two consecutive days baptized thirty-one Indian children, viz., sixteen boys on August 29th and fifteen girls on August 30th. Among the boys we find a son of Ambroise St. Aubin and Anne, his wife, who received the name of Thomas and had as sponsors Pierre Thoma, chief, and his wife Marie Mectilde. The following day the compliment was returned and Ambroise and his wife stood as sponsors at the christening of Marie, the daughter of Pierre Thoma.

The next year (June 5, 1768) there was a double wedding in the family of Governor Thoma at which the Abbe Bailly officiated and which no doubt was the occasion of great festivity at the Indian village. The old chief’s son Pierre Thoma, jr, wedded an Indian maiden named Marie Joseph, and his daughter Marie Belanger married Pierre Kesit. The younger Pierre Thoma was most probably his father’s successor as chief of the Maliseets. At any rate when Frederick Dibblee[112] made a return of the native Indians settled at Meductic in 1788 he includes in his list Governor Thoma, his wife and four children. The Indians were always migratory and two years later we find Governor Thoma living at the mouth of the Becaguimec and tilling his cornfield since become the site of the town of Hartland. This Governor Thoma, may be the same referred to in the following paragraph in the Courier of January 6, 1841:[113]

“Friday last, being New Years day, a large body of the Milicete tribe of Indians including a considerable number of well dressed squaws, headed by their old-old-chief Thoma, appeared at Government House to pay their annual compliments to the representative of their Sovereign, and were received by His Excellency with great kindness. His Excellency availed himself of the occasion publicly to decorate the worthy old chief with a splendid silver medallion suspended by a blue ribbon, exhibiting a beautiful effigy of our gracious sovereign on one side, with the Royal Arms on the reverse.”


Many of the Thoma family were remarkable for their longevity. When the writer of this history was a boy there lived at the Indian village, three miles below the Town of Woodstock, a very intelligent and industrious Indian, whose bent, spare figure was a familiar object to travellers along the country roads. It would be hard to count the number of baskets and moccasins the old man carried on his back to town for sale. He was born at Medoctec in 1789 and died at Woodstock not long ago at the age of nearly one hundred years. The old fellow was famous for his knowledge of herbs, which he was wont to administer to the Indians in case of sickness; indeed it was not an uncommon thing for the white people to consult “Doctor Tomer” as to their ailments. In the year 1877 “Tomer” came to pay a friendly visit to Charles Raymond, the author’s grandfather, who was then in his 90th year and confined to his room with what proved to be his first and last illness. The pleasure of meeting seemed to be mutual. The two had known one another for many years and were accustomed from time to time to compare ages. “Tomer” was always one year younger, showing that the old Indian kept his notch-stick well. He is believed to have been the last surviving grandson of the old chieftain, Pierre Thoma.

While speaking of the Maliseets and their chiefs, mention may be made of the fact that the Indians, as a mark of especial confidence and favor, occasionally admitted one of the whites to the order of chieftainship. This compliment the Maliseets paid to the French Governor Villebon, when he commanded at Fort Nachouac, and a like compliment was paid some sixty-five years ago to the late Moses H. Perley. In early life Mr. Perley was very fond of the woods and frequently visited the Indian villages on the upper St. John to buy furs, which he paid for in silver dollars. So great was the confidence reposed in him by the Indians that he became their agent with the provincial government, and was in the end adopted as their chief. In 1840 he visited England and was presented to Queen Victoria in the character of an Indian chief, wearing on the occasion a very magnificent costume of ornamental bead-work, plumes, and so forth. He received at the Queen’s hands a silver medal three inches in diameter, on the edge of which was engraved, “From Her Most Gracious Majesty to M. H. Perley, Chief Sachem of the Milicetes and Wungeet Sagamore of the Micmac nation. A. D., 1840.” This medal is still in the possession of Mr. Perley’s descendants.

It will be noticed that the St. John river Indians are termed “Milicetes” in the above description. The form Milicete, or Melicete, used by Dr. Gesner and Moses H. Perley, has been followed by the majority of our provincial writers. Dr. Hannay, however, in his history of Acadia, retains the spelling of Villebon and the early French writers, Malicite, which is almost identical with the Latin form, Malecitae, on the stone tablet of the chapel built by the missionary Jean Loyard at Medoctec in 1717. Either of these pronounced in French fashion is practically identical with Maliseet, the form adopted by modern students of Indian lore, and which the writer has followed in this history.



Masts for the Royal Navy.

The enormous lumbering operations carried on upon the St. John river and its tributaries in modern times had their small beginning, two centuries ago, when masts for the French navy were cut by order of the King of France.[114] The war of the Revolution obliged the English government to look for a reserve of trees suitable for masts in the remaining British colonies. In the year 1779, arrangements were made with William Davidson to provide a number of masts at the River St. John.

Colonel Francklin was quite aware of the necessity of giving careful attention to the Indians at this juncture, for the Machias rebels threatened to destroy the “King’s masts” and endeavored to get the Indians to harass the mast cutters and obstruct, them in every possible way. In consequence Francklin sent the following letter to Pierre Thoma by James White, his deputy:—

“Windsor, 29th November, 1779.

“My Brother.—Mr. Davidson is now employed on the River St. John for the King my Royal master. I therefore request you will afford him and all his people every assistance and protection in your power.

“My Brother,—I request and flatter myself if any party of Rebels or Indians should attempt to disturb Mr. Davidson that you and your people will prevent it, and if necessary take up arms for that purpose.

“My Brothers,—The Governor of Nova Scotia sends to Major Studholme some presents for you; they are intended to encourage you to protect Mr. Davidson; receive them and be true to the trust that his Excellency reposes in you.

“My Brother,—Major Studholme is your friend and your advocate and desires that all your faults may be overlooked and buried, therefore they are all forgot and will be thought of no more.

“My Brother,—Present my best compliments to all the Captains, Councillors, and other Indians of the River St. John, and I do not forget their wives and children.


The Indians promised to protect the workmen who were employed in cutting masts. Francklin soon afterwards sent a consignment of goods from Windsor to Fort Howe in the schooner Menaguashe, as a further inducement to them to protect Mr. Davidson’s men in their work. In the letter accompanying the presents he says:—


“Brethern,—King George wants masts for his ships and has employed people to provide them on your river, depending on you to protect them in cutting them and conveying them to Fort Howe. The Governor sends you some presents, which Major Studholme will deliver you. They are intended to bind fast your promise that you will protect the Mast Cutters.”

The presents were delivered at Aukpaque by James White[115] and the masts were brought safely to Fort Howe. The first cargo of masts arrived at Halifax on 22nd November, 1780, in one of the navy transports.

The River St. John now assumed an importance in the eyes of English statesmen it had not before possessed. England’s power, then as now, centred in her navy, and the larger warships required masts of such magnificent proportions that pine trees suitable for the purpose were rare. The rebellion of the old colonies having cut off the supply in that quarter the reservation of suitable trees in the remaining colonies became a matter of national concern.

As long ago as in the time of George I. the British parliament passed an act (A. D. 1722) prohibiting the cutting or destroying of White Pine trees 12 inches in diameter and upwards in the King’s Woods in North America. In 1729 it was further enacted that the same penalties should be extended to trees growing on granted lands. So great was the anxiety manifested by the British government for the preservation of trees suitable for masts, that in the grants made in New Brunswick at the close of the American war the words were inserted, “Saving and reserving nevertheless to us, our heirs and successors (i. e. to the Crown) all White Pine Trees.” Under the regulations of parliament the Surveyor General of the Woods and his deputies had a legal right to seize all White Pine timber found in the possession of any one, although it might have been cut on his own land. It was the custom of the Surveyor of the Woods to grant licenses to the proprietors of lands to cut and take away such pine timber as was “unfit for His Majesty’s service and the standing of which was detrimental to cultivation;” but this was only done after a previous inspection, and marking with the “broad-arrow” such trees as were fit for the navy.

The enforcement of the regulations for the protection and preservation of White Pine trees was entrusted to Sir John Wentworth,[116] Surveyor of the King’s Woods in North America. He was a discreet and able man, of polished manners and amiable disposition, but the office he filled was by no means a popular one, and brought him into conflict not only with individual owners of the soil, but on one occasion, at least, with the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick.


It was not many years after the establishment of the province that Lt. Gov’r Carleton wrote the English Secretary of State:—

“Under the regulations for preserving masting timber the deputies appointed by the surveyor of the woods have, or assume to have, authority to seize all the pine timber which they find in the possession of any one, though it may have been cut on his own ground. * * * I feel it my duty to submit it to the consideration of his Majesty’s ministers whether it may not be expedient to relinquish these restrictions on private property, which have an evident tendency to discourage the advancement of cultivation and settlement in the province.”

Sir John Wentworth justified the enforcement of the regulations as a matter of national importance. He quoted the experience of New England where, after the restrictions of the surveyor general’s office were removed, the mast timber had been so largely destroyed that it was scarcely possible to procure a cargo of large masts, and those that were to be had were held at enormous prices. Even if the government should grant all the land available for settlement, it did not follow, he argued, that the efficiency of the navy should be imperilled or the mast timber pass into the hands of speculators; nor did he think that its preservation should be left entirely to the discretion of the owners of the soil.

Wentworth’s representation to the Home Government proved effectual at the time; his deputies continued to range the woods, and many a tall, stately pine bore the mark of the “broad-arrow” in token that it was reserved for the royal navy. It was not until about the year 1811 that the reservation of White Pine trees was no longer insisted upon by the crown.

The masting business was a very important one in the early days of New Brunswick. Vessels were built expressly for the trade, and, being of large size, and usually sailing under protection of a man-of-war, soon became the favorite passenger ships.

The development of the masting industry proceeded very rapidly after the arrival of the Loyalists, but even before that date it had attained considerable proportions. Sir Richard Hughes wrote to Lord Germaine on the 30th April, 1781, that upwards of 200 sticks for masts, yards and bowsprits had been cut, squared and approved by the King’s purveyor at the River St. John in the course of the last fall and winter, and that one of the navy transports was then at Fort Howe loading a cargo of masts.

The year the Loyalists arrived, Captain John Munro, in reporting to General Haldimand the state of settlement of the country, said:—

“On the River St. John are the finest masts and spars that I have ever seen. I saw at Fort Howe about six thousand pounds worth. Two ships were loading when I left that place. I suppose there were masts sufficient there to load ten ships.”

The masts, spars, bowsprits and other timber, having been prepared in the woods by the workmen, were hauled to the water by oxen. Trees growing near the stream were “bowsed out”—that is, hauled with block and tackle to the river’s bank. In the month of March it was customary for the King’s purveyor to 304 certify the number and sizes of the sticks that had been brought to the stream, “trimmed four-square and fit for rafting,” and on receipt of the purveyor’s certificate the contractor was at liberty to draw one-half of the money due on the fulfilment of his contract, from the naval storekeeper at Halifax. The masts were rafted and floated—or towed by sloops—to Fort Howe, where they were stored for shipment in the mast pond.

The mast pond was a little cove to the west of Portland Point, just east of the site of the present Portland Rolling Mills. The situation will be seen in the accompanying plan. It was closed and fenced in by the British government for the purpose of receiving the masts.

St. John Harbor

A few words now concerning William Davidson, who may be said to have been the first man to engage in lumbering on the River St. John. Mr. Davidson came from the north of Scotland to Miramichi in 1764, the same year that James Simonds and James White established themselves at the mouth of the River St. John. Cooney, the historian of the North Shore, tells us that at the time of Davidson’s arrival the abandoned houses of the French had been destroyed by the Indians, and our Scotch immigrant found himself the only white man in a vast and desolate region. If this be so he did not long remain solitary, for the next year a grant of 100,000 acres on the south side of the Miramichi was made to him and John Cort. Mr. Davidson was a resolute and energetic man. He prosecuted the fishery, and about the year 1773 built the first schooner launched upon the Miramichi. At the time of the Revolutionary war the Micmacs were so hostile and troublesome that he removed with his family to Maugerville, where he became the purchaser of two lots of land near the head of Oromocto Island. His associations with James 305 Simonds, Wm. Hazen and James White were not of the pleasantest kind. In consequence of purchasing some land at Morrisania (below the present city of Fredericton) the title to which was in dispute, he became involved in litigation with James Simonds, and the result was a suit in the court of chancery,[117] which proved rather costly to both parties. As regards Messrs. Hazen and White there was, as we shall presently see, a lot of trouble arising out of the masting business in which both parties were actively engaged.

Mr. Davidson’s influence on the St. John river is shown by the fact that he was elected a member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly for the County of Sunbury. He returned to Miramichi about the time the Loyalists came to the province, and died there in 1790. His tomb-stone in the old cemetery on Beaubair’s Island bears the following inscription:—

Representative of the County of Northumberland, Province of New
Brunswick, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, Contractor
for Masts for His Majesty’s Navy.
He died on the 17th of June, 1790, aged 50. He was one of the
first settlers of the river, and greatly instrumental in promoting
the settlement. He left a widow and five children to
deplore his loss.

The success that attended William Davidson’s masting operations led Messrs. Hazen and White to engage in the same business. They were fortunate enough to secure the co-operation of Colonel Francklin, with whom they entered into partnership in the summer of 1781 for general trade and “masting.” Francklin’s political influence at Halifax and the personal friendship of Sir Andrew Snape Hamond, the lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia and Commissioner of the navy yard, proved of very great advantage to the partners in their business. A few quotations from the original papers of the firm, which are now in the possession of the author, will throw light upon the nature of their subsequent operations.

“CONTRACTED and agreed on the 9th day of August, 1781, with Sir Andrew Snape Hamond, Commissioner of his Majesty’s Navy, resident at Halifax, by us Michael Francklin, Esqr., of Windsor, and Wm. Hazen and James White, Esqrs., of the River St. John in the Province of Nova Scotia, And we do hereby covenant and agree to deliver, free of all charges to his Majesty, at the mouth of the River St. John, the undermentioned North American White Pine Masts, Yards, and Bowsprits, Ash Rafters, Elm Timber, Oak Timber, Anchor Stocks of White Oak, and Crooked or Compass Timber, in the quantities, of the dimensions and at the prices expressed against each size * * to be brought to the mouth of the River Saint John by or before the 1st day of July, 1782, and there to remain at 306 our risque until they shall be embarked on board such ships or vessels as shall be sent to transport them to England, Halifax or elsewhere. * * *

“It is further agreed by Sir Andrew Snape Hamond for the encouragement of the said Contractors, that in case the enemy should make a descent on the Port of Saint John in order to destroy the masts lying there, that the damages sustained thereby should fall on Government and not upon the Contractors, provided it shall appear that all proper endeavors on the part of the Contractors were used to save the masts.”

Great Britain was at this time engaged in a struggle for national existence. She was at war, not only with the colonies in rebellion, but with France, Holland and Spain, and that without a single ally. Under such circumstances it was absolutely necessary that the navy should be kept as efficient as possible. The dockyards were busy places and we need not be surprised that good prices were paid for masts, yards, bowsprits and ship timber in general. In the contract signed by Francklin, Hazen and White the prices offered by government are stated in detail, but the table of prices is too long to quote in full. The sums paid varied with the size of the tree as will be seen from the following examples selected from the table in the contract:

Masts of 36 inches diameter, 36 yards long, £136.
Masts of 35 inches diameter, 35 yards long, £110.
Masts of 34 inches diameter, 34 yards long, £95.
Masts of 32 inches diameter, 32 yards long, £68.
Masts of 31 inches diameter, 31 yards long, £61.
Masts of 26 inches diameter, 28 yards long, £25.
Masts of 18 inches diameter, 23 yards long, £10.
Yards of 25 inches diameter, 35 yards long, £52.
Yards of 23 inches diameter, 32 yards long, £40.
Yards of 21 inches diameter, 29½ yards long, £20.
Yards of 14 inches diameter, 22 yards long, £4.16.
Bowsprits 38 inches diameter, 25 yards long, £42.10.
Bowsprits 34 inches diameter, 23 yards long, £32.10.
Bowsprits 30 inches diameter, 20½ yards long, £30.
Bowsprits 25 inches diameter, 17 yards long, £10.2.

The rapid increase in price as the maximum dimensions were neared was due to the fact that timber of such size was exceedingly rare.

The certificate of the naval storekeeper, George Thomas, shows that on the 6th July, 1782, Francklin, Hazen & White had delivered under the protection of his Majesty’s Post at Fort Howe, in pursuance of their contract of the 9th of August, 1781, 37 masts valued at £1098.16.3; 65 yards valued at £1502.13.4; 8 bowsprits valued at £181.1.11½ and 20 M. feet white ash oar rafters valued at £156.5.0; so that the firm received upwards of $14,000 from government on their first year’s masting operations. Some of the sticks obtained were of very large size, including one mast, 35 inches in diameter and 91½ feet long, and a yard 26 inches in diameter and 108 feet long; for these two sticks they received respectively $450 and $350.

It was essential to the success of the masting business that a good practical man should be at the head of it, and Mr. White’s brother-in-law, Samuel Peabody, 307 was selected for the position. He was given an interest in the contract and was also allowed “seven shillings and six pence per diem in consideration of his care and trouble in taking upon him the management of the business.”

At the time the agreement was made with Mr. Peabody, Michael Francklin was at the River St. John.[118] The agreement specified that the masts, yards and bowsprits were to be converted into eight squares carrying their dimensions in their several parts conformable to the rules of the navy.

While the profits derived from the mast business may have been considerable, the expenses also were heavy. There were many unforseen contingencies. The demand for workmen and laborers in a short time nearly doubled the rate of wages, and the cost of provisions and supplies increased. In the course of a few months Col. Francklin sent three consignments of goods to St. John, amounting in value to about $3,000. A bill of lading in those days was a quaint document, witness the following:

“SHIPPED by the Grace of God, by John Butler Dight in and upon the good Ship called the Young William Naval Store Ship, whereof is master, under God, for this present Voyage, George Hastings, and now riding at anchor in the Harbour of Halifax, and by God’s Grace bound for Fort Howe, River St. John in the Bay of Fundy.

To say, one Hogshead, three Casks, one Case, three Bales, one Large Trunk, one Bag Coffee, six Boxes, twenty Barrels Pork, and twenty firkins Butter—by order of Mich’l Francklin, Esq., for account and risque of himself, Wm. Hazen & James White, consigned to Messrs. Hazen & White at Fort Howe as aforesaid, being marked and numbered as in the margin, and are to be delivered in good order and well conditioned at the Port of Fort Howe (the danger of the seas only excepted.)

In Witness whereof the master of the said Ship hath affirmed to three Bills of Lading, all of this tenor and date; the one of which three Bills being accomplished, the other two to stand void.

And so GOD send the Good Ship to her desired Port in safety. Amen.

“Dated in Halifax 23rd April, 1782.


Col. Francklin procured at Halifax many articles needed for the mast cutters, such as chains, blocks and tackle, camp supplies, etc. Flour retailed in Halifax at this time at $11.00 per bbl., and the freight to Fort Howe was $1.50 per bbl. Pork cost at Halifax $25.00 per bbl. and upwards. The population on the St. John river was small, and men and oxen were in demand both in winter and summer. The cultivation and improvement of farms was retarded and a spirit of speculation introduced into the country, destined ere long to bear pernicious fruit. Francklin sent from Windsor some skilled hewers of timber. Nevertheless the masting operations were carried on after a primitive fashion, and Mr. Peabody 308 was constantly obliged to write for articles needed by his workmen. A few sentences culled from his correspondence with Hazen & White will shed a little light on the difficulties that attended the masting business:

“There is no prospect of the business being in one place as we expected when Mr. Francklin was here; at present have given up trying at St. Anns, for the Pine proves so rotten that it would never pay the expense of cutting a road to where it grows.” [Nov. 2d, 1781.]

“The men are very bad off for Bread, and people cannot work without good food, besides it takes much time in baking Indian cakes for them in the woods, one hand continually imploy’d. * * We are very badly off indeed for Chalk lines, having nothing of that kind to make use of but twine.” [Jan. 21, 1782.]

“Davidson is almost done—his situation is this: no workmen, no rum, no provision, he’s nearly possesst of Pandora’s Box.” [Feb. 5, 1782.]

“Men’s wear is much wanted, such as thick clothes, a few blankets if you can procure them, as some men are obliged to sleep without blankets in the camp.” [Feb. 9, 1782.]

“Pork, beef and corn is very scarce and dear, the two former not to be bought. Have engaged what wheat and Indian corn we could on the river.” [March 23d, 1782.]

“Our common laborers value their hire very high, as there is so many mast cutting, running from place to place to get sticks for the highest bidder.” [Dec. 25, 1782.]

“Some chocolate is wanted for our Masting Camp for at present we use Spruce Tea, which causes some murmuring.” [Feb. 2, 1783.]

In order to fill the contract at the time fixed, Samuel Peabody found it necessary to cruise the woods over a wide area selecting trees that grew not far from the banks of the streams which might be “bowsed in” by oxen with block and tackle. In consequence of the competition with Mr. Davidson the hire of a yoke of oxen became as high as seven shillings and six pence a day and difficult to obtain at that. The exigencies of the situation were such that Hayes and Peabody ventured to press into their service a pair of fat oxen that had been sent down the river from St. Anns by Philip Weade for an entirely different purpose. This was displeasing to Hazen & White who wrote: “We are much surprised that you stopped the particular pair of oxen which we desired last Fall to be stall fed for the use of the officers of the garrison here and ourselves, which hath left them and us without a good slice of beef.”

It is rather a curious circumstance that very soon after Francklin, Hazen and White embarked in the masting business they found themselves at logger heads with William Davidson, whose workmen they had for two years been endeavoring to protect from interference on the part of the “rebels” and Indians. In point of fact Mr. Davidson suffered greater annoyance at the hands of Samuel Peabody and his mast cutters than he ever experienced from the rebels or the Indians. Under the arrangements at first made with the government of Nova Scotia, a good deal of latitude was allowed the mast cutters. Mr. Davidson had a special order to cut masts, yards, etc., for his Majesty’s service, wherever he could find them. Under this roving commission his workmen came into contact 309 on several occasions with those of the other contractors and in a very short time there was bad blood between them.

Samuel Peabody, who had charge of the operations of Francklin, Hazen and White, was a man of resolute and somewhat aggressive spirit. William Davidson on the other hand, possessed all the energy and determination for which the Scotch race is noted. The state of affairs on the River St. John in consequence of the rivalry created by the masting business was not at all harmonious. The sentiments of the people were divided. There were some who sided with Hazen, White and Peabody while others took the part of Wm. Davidson and Israel Perley—the latter being in Mr. Davidson’s employ. A couple of letters of the period will serve to show how the rivals regarded one another.

Samuel Peabody writes as follows:

Maugerville, 2nd Nov’r, 1781.

“Messrs. Hazen & White, Merchants at Fort Howe,

“Gentlemen,—Since I wrote to you by John Hart, giving you account of the badness of the Pine Lumber back of St. Anns, I sent 3 hands up Nashwalk to try the timber in that place, and find the timber to be small near the waterside. Upon Davidson’s understanding I was determined to try that place, he immediately sent a party of French up that River, commanded by Israel Perley, to cut all the Timber that fell in his way, among which was a large Tree that I suppose was marked by Mr. Hayes, as he tells people that it had several Broad Arrows on it. At the same time that Davidson dispatched this party he sent another party back of Thomas Langin’s[119] upon the growth of Pine Mr. Hayes had pitched upon for us, and has his small party sallying out upon all quarters, and bids defiance to any Proprietors stopping him from such proceedings. Now if he is allowed to cut Timber upon the Society’s Land[120] it will be impossible for me to furnish half the quantity of sticks I could if I had the privilege of all the above mentioned lands.

“Tomorrow morning I am a going with 8 or 10 hands to cut sum fine Trees up Oromocto, near whear Davidson is stearing his course, as he should be paid in his own coin. I have imployed sum men to cut Trees by the jobb up Oromocto, and by searching, they say, that there may be had some fine lengthy Trees, but not the greatest diameter.

“I hope one of you will come up soon and reside a few days, for, as I mentioned to you in my last letter it is very difficult for me to procure hands at suitable times, as I am in the woods the cheaf of the time, and at present there is no prospect of the business being in one place, as we expected when Col. Francklin left this place. At present I have given up trying at Saint Anns, for the Pine proves so rotten that it never will pay the expense of cutting a road in to where it groes

“There is sum that pertended to undertake to ingage to get us sum sticks, by what I can learn has ingaged them to Davidson, especially that scoudril John Tibbits, although he gave Mr. Francklin good incurragement, as I thought, that we should have all the sticks that he could procure.

 I am, with respect,
 Your Humble Serv’t,



A year later William Davidson writes in quite as emphatic terms to Samuel Peabody:

Maugerville, 9th December, 1782.

“Sir—I’m not a little surprised at a piece of your conduct that has lately come to my knowledge; which is your triming my masts, etc., on the streame of Rushaganes and its vicinaty. I cannot conjecture upon what principle you pretend to have acted. I had (& have) a speciall order from Government to cutt masts, yards, etc., for His Majesty’s use wherever I could find them, when I cutt those sticks, which constitute as good a right in them to me as any that could be given. If (by some kind of means) the people you’re concerned with afterwards got a grant of the lands on which they were, it could not be supposed to extend to a prior right any other person had derived from as good authority. But in the mean time I shall not take the trouble to say any more on the subject than to desire you will from this time desist from meddling with any sticks that have been cut for me, and also relinquish what you have already medled with.

“I wish to live peaceably, but I have lately experienced so many instances of your most bare-faced and wanton oppression, to my prejudice, that there’s no longer a doubt with me what course I must be under the disagreeable necessity to take, that I may obtain redress and do justice to myself and family. I shall expect your immediate answer for my future government, and am, sir,

“Your Humble Serv’t


The fact that William Davidson was the first in the field gave him some local advantages that were increased considerably by the predilection in his favor displayed by Constant Connor, the commander of the small garrison posted at the Oromocto blockhouse. This we know from one of the letters of the government purveyor, John Hayes, who was exceedingly friendly to Hazen & White. He wrote “I am sorry to say that Lieut. Connor is much atached to Davidson and Andrews,[121] his orders from Sir Richard Hughes specifying to give Davidson all the assistance in his power, and on that account Davidson carries much more sway than he otherwise would.”

Sir Richard Hughes, it may be observed, was succeeded as Lieut. Governor of Nova Scotia by Sir Andrew Snape Hamond in 1781. Both Hughes and Hamond held in turn the office of commissioner of the naval yard at Halifax. Colonel Francklin had himself been lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia from 1766 to 1776, and seems to have kept on excellent terms with his successors. Through his influence at headquarters the government patronage passed largely to the firm of which he was the senior partner. Francklin was an adept in the art of diplomacy. During the Revolutionary war, as we have already seen, his tact and judgment prevented the Indians from becoming actively hostile to the English and restrained the New Englanders, settled in Cumberland and other parts of Nova Scotia, from taking up arms on the side of the rebellion. A specimen of his diplomacy in small matters is found in one of his letters to Hazen & White in which he writes: “However high Indian corn may be, I wish you would send twenty bushels to Sir Andrew for his poultry, in which Lady Hamond takes great delight, and pray don’t omit getting her some wood ducks in the approaching season.”


Some further light is thrown upon the state of affairs on the River St. John at this period, and the “modus operandi” of the mast cutters by the following letter, written by Hazen & White, to Colonel Francklin:—

“Fort Howe, 23rd March, 1782.

“Dear Sir,—Since our last we have been at Maugerville viewing the masts, etc, etc. Mr. Peabody has cut down and procured as many sticks as could be expected under the disadvantage of having the other contractor at his elbow. You will find enclosed Mr. Hayes account and certificates of the number and sizes of sticks on the banks, trimmed four square and fit for rafting. They have about 120 more cut, many of which cannot be got out this season. Mr. Peabody set off on the 14th inst. to view a glade of Pines on the Grand Lake, about 40 miles from Mr. Simonds’ house, where he has a number of men to work. * * The French people at Kanibikashes have about 100 sticks cut. They say they will be able to get out and bring here this Spring about 40 sticks, the others they can get out in Summer. Pork, beef and corn is very scarce and dear; the two former not to be bought. Have engaged what wheat and Indian corn we could on the River. * * Davidson expects to have 200 sticks out this season and near as many more cut in the woods; he gives the people larger prices for sticks (and takes them at Maugerville or elsewhere afloat) than we give Mr. Peabody delivered here. * * We must have two or three hundred pounds in cash here by the first conveyance.

“Yours etc.,
 “Hazen & White.”

The pines of our primeval forests wer