Meadow Bank History: Pioneers – The Crosbys

This is our sixth excerpt of the Meadow Bank W.I. Tweedsmuir History published in 1951.

Of the early history of what is now Meadow Bank before the British took possession of the Island then known as St. John, nothing seems to have been recorded and little seems to be known. There are evidences, however, of certain parts of it having been occupied by the French and Natives, some crude cooking utensils and tools later being discovered nearby some of the old cellars or where a large quantity of ashes in the soil told of someone having lived there before. On the farm now occupied by Robert Jewell (part of the old Hyde farm) there is the remains of an old French fortress. Two round iron cannon balls have also been found on this farm. Whether fired from a cannon or carried there is a matter of conjecture. Now in possession of Ray Crosby is an ox shoe found on his farm and a sword and bayonet supposed to have been brought here by his ancestors, also a flint and iron for kindling in those early days long before Lucifer matches were ever heard of. In 1926, the school boys of Meadow Bank found the remains of eight or ten flint-lock muskets beside a spring on the back of Ivan Clow’s farm (the old Samuel Hyde farm). It is supposed that the muskets were hidden there by the French about the time the British took possession of the Island in 1758.

The Crosbys

John Crosby, grandson of immigrant

In searching early records for authentic data, I have found it difficult to secure the exact date when the first British subject settled in Meadow Bank. The earliest we can find is of William Crosby who came from the Town of Newry, County Down, Ireland, about 1770 and three years later married Margaret Orr who died in 1824. To these were born six daughters and two sons. The sons were John, in 1775, who was the first child born of British parents in what was then known as Elliot or West River settlement and William, the younger son born in 1784. It was not till the year 1786 that Mr. Crosby, the immigrant, purchased his farm of 203 acres outright from Gov. William Patterson for the sum of £113, 12s. 3d. stirling.

Click on map to enlarge

This land, after William Crosby’s death in 1815, was divided between his two sons. John took the western half and paid William £10 for certain advantages that went with the farm. Both these men married Miss Clarks (sisters). John’s family consisted of seven sons, four remained in this vicinity purchasing more land adjoining the original farm. One of these Theophilus D. (the writer’s grandfather) lived on the farm now owned by Ray Crosby. James, Mrs. Henry Drake’s father, owned the farm now occupied by Wilbert Drake. John was unmarried. He owned the property now in possession of Fred MacGregor, the other settled in Freetown.

North River Bridge, 1894 - Public Archives photo

North River Bridge


William who got the eastern 150 acres of the original Crosby farm had the contract of building the first North River Bridge for the sum of £900 or, it is said, £1 per foot. He had a family of three sons and three daughters. One son, John, later became owner of the home farm while Ewen and Andre moved to Bonshaw where they bought considerable land and also founded Bonshaw Mills, later owned by Hon. Cyrus Crosby and Heath Crosby, sons of Andrew.

John married a Miss MacEwen and to this union were born two sons, James, who died while a young man studying medicine, Isaac, father of W.W. Crosby, and one daughter Elizabeth who continued to live with W.W. Crosby on the old farm which is now owned by his son, John W. As may be seen there have been six

Marie & Jack, great grandchildren of John

Marie & Jack, great-grandchildren of John

generations of Crosbys who have occupied the same land. The daughters all married farmers, Margaret, George Clark of Clark’s Mills, Wilmot; Hannah, John MacEwen of Long Creek; and Mary Elinor, T.D. Crosby, father of Pope Crosby who in turn passed his farm on to his son W. Ray.

Editor’s Notes:

  • More details on history of North River Bridge here.
  • Hyde & Crosby Pioneer Cemetery, click here.

“The Pioneers” will continue in the next excerpt – Hydes

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