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Archive for the ‘Genealogy’ Category

Clyde River History Committee member Joanne Turner has found another gem about the early history of the James McCabe family that settled in what would become Pictou County, Nova Scotia in 1767, 251 years ago. The writer of this family history, Layton McCabe (1854-1944), married Annie Tyler Fraser (1871-1953) of Clyde River and his brother Spurgeon McCabe married her sister Harriett Crawford Fraser. Annie and Harriet were sisters of Edith Rebecca Fraser who married Charles D. MacLean. An earlier story on the MacLeans of Meadowbank is featured here. The history of the Fraser family on the Linwood Road was featured in, “The Old Homestead on the Linwood Road”.

Although the following writing is about the Fraser in-laws’ heritage, we do share ancestral connections to Pictou County, and the early stories of settlement would present similar challenges no matter which side of the strait one landed. So let’s take a little visit over to Pictou and back two centuries.

Hardships of Pioneering in 1767 – written by Layton McCabe

From different sources, but chiefly from Reverend George Patterson’s history of the settlement by pioneers of Pictou County, N.S., I have gathered the following facts in regard to the coming of our great, great-grandfather, James McCabe, a man who had been educated in Ireland for a Roman Catholic priest, but instead, had become acquainted with and married a Protestant girl of a good family of some means, and had emigrated from Ireland to a British colony in Pennsylvania, North America, some time previous to 1767. (He notes that it may have been only a short time previous, or it may have been fifteen or twenty years.)

At this time there was a small town at Halifax, a village at Truro, and settlers had taken up land on the St. John River, and had occupied the borders rich in marshlands of the Bay of Fundy. But, as yet, there were no European settlers on the north shore of Nova Scotia from the Strait of Canso to Bay Verte, and possibly as far as the Miramichi River.

Large grants of land were held by companies farther south in which is now the United States of America, who were continually sending out families to occupy their lands in Nova Scotia. Such a land company in Philadelphia, who owned a large tract of land in Pictou County gave a power of attorney to John Wykoff of Philadelphia (merchant), and Dr. John Harris of Baltimore empowering them to sell, in the name of the company, their lands on such terms as they should see fit. They also dispatched a small brig called “The Hope”, Capt. Hull of Rhode Island, with six families of settlers, with supplies of provisions for their use. One of these families was that of James McCabe, his wife and six children, one servant and two slaves.

The Hope sailed from Philadelphia toward the end of May, 1767, called at Halifax to get information regarding the coast round to Pictou. They reached Pictou on June 10th.

The people of Truro had heard of their coming, and five or six young men set out through the woods to meet them to aid in building camps and commencing operations. Two of these young men were Thomas Troop and Ephriam Howard. These young men in passing two of the mountains on the western border of the country named one Mt. Thom and the other Mt. Ephraim (names by which they are still known).

Reaching the harbour on the same afternoon in which the vessel arrived, they made large fires on the shore to attract attention of those onboard, who seeing them, supposed them to be made by natives of whom they stood in terror. The vessel accordingly stood off, and on, until next morning, when they saw by the aid of spy glasses that they were men who cheerfully hailed them. During the night, a baby boy was born, who lived to grow up, and who died in 1809, and was buried in Pictou graveyard, where his monument may still be seen, describing him as “the first settler English-born in Pictou County”.

At the time of the arrival of these first settlers of Pictou, a great unbroken forest-covered the whole surface of the country down to the water’s edge, pine and hemlock and spruce on all the lower levels, and hardwood, birch, maple and beech farther up on the highlands.

The natives had been hostile to the new settlers up to this time claiming the land and constantly tried to prevent their settlement on the north shore of Nova Scotia. The small group of settlers spent the first night on shore under the trees, without even a camp, feeling lonely and discouraged at the prospect of toils and danger before them, and made up their minds when daylight arrived to go on board the little vessel and return to Philadelphia, but when morning came, there was no vessel to be seen. The captain and the land agent had slipped out of the harbour in the night and left them to their fate.

So with mattocks (an axe on one side and a hoe on the other) they commenced the erection of rude huts in which to live. A half-acre was assigned to each family, and they thus proceeded to lay out a town and Lot no. 1 being James McCabe’s, he immediately set to work to clear his half-acre, which he accomplished, his descendants boasting that he cut down the first tree felled by a new settler in Pictou County. He cleared his land by digging away the earth from the small trees and cutting the roots, hauling them out into the tide water to be carried away by the current.

He planted his lot of potatoes, using a mattock, placing the seed under the moss, which served as manure. The land seemed poor, and the tubers did not grow larger than potato balls. The settlers later got farm lots, McCabe having been shown better land up the West River about five miles, a place now called Loch Broom.

Owing to having been educated as a priest, McCabe gained an influence over the natives, who led him to take up land where they claimed was more fertile, which proved to be true. But he, being Roman Catholic, could not hold a title to any land, as the company’s grant bound them to settle their lands with Protestants, and for this reason the deed of his land was made in his wife’s name; her maiden name had been Anne Petigrew. The six families with their six lots was the beginning of the town of Pictou.

In the following Spring, 1768, the settlers having no seed potatoes had to go to Truro, on foot, by a blazed trail, a distance of fifty miles or more, requiring three days to go, and three to return, each man bearing a bag of seed potatoes on his back. This seed produced a quantity of good potatoes, but these were consumed almost before the winter set in, leaving the families only way of procuring food by hunting and fishing. Moose and bear and rabbits were plentiful, the meat of which was used for food, while the skins were used for clothing and footwear.

They also added to their larder by fishing in the streams and lakes for salmon and trout, which were plentiful, but were often taken from them by the natives who claimed all the land and all the game. The natives would shoot to kill on the least provocation, but the native women would often go out of their way to warn the settlers not to come near their camps when there was danger.

In the Spring of 1769, the settlers had to once more make the long wearisome trip to Truro for seed potatoes, but this time they cut the eyes out, and thus succeeded in carrying back a larger supply which produced enough food during the following winter, with seed enough left for another year’s crop.

I visited the old homestead where James McCabe settled at Loch Broom; on my last visit to Nova Scotia, I found the sixth generation of the name now occupying the farm. It was very interesting to me to be shown over the place, to see the old relics, some of which had been brought from Ireland so long ago, and also to be shown the spot where the first Presbyterian Church was built in Pictou County, the land donated by an old pioneer, and where the people are now about to erect a monument.

The present dwelling house is a three-story French-roofed building, and the land produces good crops, especially hay.

These lines give us an idea of the hardships and dangers endured by our forefathers in carving out homes for future generations.

Layton McCabe, Alexandra, PEI

More resources:

  • The Hope People
  • History of Pictou
  • The Log Church at Loch Broom – The current Log Church at Loch Broom is a replica of the original built in 1787. Under the direction and initiative of Rev. Frederick Pauley a stone cairn was erected and unveiled on August 15, 1965 to mark the site of the church. The land for the cairn and the church was donated by Alvin McCabe – a direct descendant of James McCabe – the pioneer who donated the property for the original log church. July 29, 1973, as a result of the dedication and untiring efforts of numerous volunteers and Rev. Pauley, construction of the replica log church was completed. (sourcePhotos of the Loch Broom log church
  • Genealogy: James McCable married Ann Pettigrew, 2nd generation – John McCabe married Eleanor Moore; 3rd generation – James McCabe married Nancy Whidden; 4th generation – Edward McCabe married Sarah Higgins, 5th generation – Jacob Layton McCabe married Annie Tyler Fraser of Clyde River.
  • The writer of this article, Layton McCable, was born in Higginsville, NS, where his mother Sarah Higgins was born. He later lived in Alexandra, PEI.

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Pioneer Cemetery

All residents interested in the future of our local Pioneer Cemetery are invited to a meeting at the Riverview Community Centre on Thursday, September 28th at 7:00 pm.  The cemetery is in need of some care and maintenance. This meeting will be an opportunity to review that work as well as discuss interest in a plan on how to support the cemetery going forward.

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Montrose Farm – original Ward Farm (Google street view photo)

I was out touring around the original Ward family property on the “upper” Bannockburn Road in Hampshire this weekend with James and Carol Ward from Arizona who were on PEI for the first time on a genealogical quest.

There are two Ward houses still there at the jog in the road, one was the home of Benjamin and Hattie (Beer) Ward and across the road, the farm owned up until 13 years ago by Milton Ward. After friendly visits with the new owners, they suggested we should make sure to visit with Milton who now lives in North River.

James and Milton are 4th cousins and their first meeting was a great homecoming. James is a descendant of Alex Spurgeon Ward, one of the boys who moved to Boston around 1900. He asked Milton if he had any good stories to tell about the farm, and Milton pulled out a newspaper clipping for him to read. Always on the trail for a good story myself, I asked Milton if I could share it on the Clyde River website. Apparently, the story made The Guardian and CBC-TV news back in March, 1987.

Steer escapes from tight spot, only pride hurt

Hampshire – One of Milton Ward’s steers might think twice before he tries to escape again.

The 1000-pound steer pulled a chain over its head in the barn stall sometime Monday night and while wandering around the barn fell into Mr. Ward’s well, where it was trapped until discovered early Tuesday morning.

When Elizabeth [Lizzie] Ward got up Tuesday, she couldn’t get any water out of the kitchen tap. She couldn’t figure out what was wrong until Mr. Ward checked the barn.

“I figured it was a fuse,” he said. But when he discovered the steer stuck in the well it wasn’t hard to figure out the problem. While the animal was attempting to get out of the well, it broke a pipe connecting the tank to the pump, so no water could be pumped out.

After recovered from his surprise, Mr. Ward phoned a neighbour who had a hydraulic hoist.

Getting ropes around the steer was no easy task since the opening only measured six feet by four feet. It was accomplished by putting a rope around the steers head and pulling it to one side so the rope could be pushed down the side. Then the steer could be pulled to the other side so the rope could be brought up again.

Although the whole operation took about three hours from the time the steer was discovered, the actual lift only took about half an hour, Mr. Ward said.

“It wasn’t easy, but we managed.”

Although the steer has a few bruises it probably sustained in attempts to get out of the well, it appears none the worse for wear.

The well had been covered with two-by-five boards and a half-inch sheet of plywood “but it was made for man, not beast,” Mr. Ward said. He thought there was no need to put a heavier cover on it since it wasn’t near where the steers were kept. But now he admits he’ll have to put a heavier cover on it.

I asked Milton what the price of beef was back then and he said around 70 cents a pound, so on top of it being a prized Holstein, it was $700 they pulled out of the well that day.

Editor’s note:

  • The farm is now owned by Peter Cairns.
  • The Wards named the farm “Montrose” after the beautiful varieties of rose bushes at the front of the house.
  • Hattie (Beer) and Benjamin Ward were Davis Ward’s parents. Davis sang in the Clyde River Presbyterian Church Choir for many years. Their house is across the road from the farm.

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The Friends of Clyde River Historical Education Committee has expanded to welcome three new members. Since our committee was established, we have initiated and managed a number of key projects that built upon earlier community-led projects.

Friends of Clyde River – Historical Committee Projects:

  • Establishment of the Clyde River lectures series that has completed its 5th year, where guest speakers present historical topics attracting record audiences of up to 100 people.
  • Completion of a year-long project entitled “Capturing Collective Memories” where we digitized over 1500 photos collected from family albums, invited artifact donations and hosted special events. The result was the curation of a museum in the Riverview Committee Centre which features over 200 artifacts and a photo gallery of early life in Clyde River from 1890s to 1940s.
  • A community website approaching 500 stories which has attracted visitors from across Canada, US, UK, Brazil, Australia and many other countries representing 216,000 page views.

With the large number of artifacts and materials we have accumulated, we brought in some extra talent with strong historical research and organization skills. In March, we began cataloguing artifacts and photos. Two of the new members are librarians with cataloguing experience. All three of the new members are avid genealogists, so they will be a tremendous resource that our local and online community can tap into. Together, the six members offer a complementary depth of experience in carrying out history projects. We thought we would offer a little bio on each of the committee members below:

We welcome our new members:

Jane Dyment

Jane Dyment has strong ties to the Island. She is the daughter of Earle Dyment from Northam and Margate, and Wanda Mann from Kensington. Growing up, she visited close and distant relatives on both side of the family, but didn’t pay nearly enough attention to their stories.

Jane graduated from Dalhousie with a Masters in Library Services and worked in Ottawa in the National Research Council’s library, later moving to corporate services. Upon retirement, she needed a project and decided to further research the Dyment family tree, later expanding to the Manns, Johnstones, Humphreys, Beers and McFadyens on her mother’s side. Living in Ottawa, Jane has unearthed, she believes, every possible Island source of genealogical information that can be found online. A couple of years ago, her cousin Nancy mentioned that her friend Katherine Dewar, an author and nurse, was finding it difficult to travel to Ottawa to consult Library and Archives Canada’s collection. Jane volunteered to help, and made, she hopes, a valuable contribution to the story of the nurses from PEI who served in World War 1, Those Splendid Girls. She also checked a few references for Earle Lockerby’s recent publication on Samuel Holland, and is now a volunteer on the Summerside Archives project on Prince County soldiers in C Company, 105th Battalion. Jane is married, with two adult children and a dog. She is looking forward to working with the Clyde River Historical Committee, and welcomes questions from Islanders starting a family tree, or getting over a brick wall.

Chair’s note: Jane is a descendant of Thomas and Jane Beer who settled on the Bannockburn Road in Clyde River in the 1830s. She is an exceptional genealogical researcher with intelligence, skill and speed, much better than Google! Check out her genealogical website at www.janedyment.ca and read the stories she wrote for our website, Cousins Lost and Found, part 1 and part 2.

Rowena Stinson

Rowena is proud to be a Parkdale girl, who was raised and still lives there. Her roots are in Clyde River though – her Dad, Lester, was born here in 1909. There was a Hickox presence in Clyde River until the early 1940’s when Lester’s grandmother, Mary Jane Hickox Arthur, left to live with her daughter in Charlottetown.

Rowena was a teacher by profession and Teacher Librarian at Westwood Primary School from the school’s opening until 2011. She is an active member of Park Royal United Church where she and her husband, Hank sing in the choir.  She has just become Treasurer of the UCW and Secretary for the Board of Stewards. She is also a member of Teachers in Harmony and Friends Choir, the Parkdale Homecoming Committee, and takes classes at Seniors College. She is seldom at home.

Rowena has been working on her family genealogy for many years, having picked up the desire to follow the trail left by her dad, who knew all the relatives and their stories. She enjoys research and the excitement of discovery, and has been rewarded by connecting with relatives from far and near who are also involved in genealogy. The Island’s history is rich, and Rowena is delighted to be asked to join the Clyde River Historical Committee. She looks forward to working with the committee and helping to discover and preserve more of this rich history.

Chair’s note: Rowena is our team leader in cataloguing the artifacts and photos in our collection, and we, her happy worker bees. We will be using the same cataloguing system as the provincial archives, so nothing but the best for Clyde River. She wrote the story The Hickox Family of Clyde River.

Joanne Turner

Joanne’s father Dingwall MacFadyen was born on the Bannockburn Road. Dingwall’s father was Norman, known as N.C. and Millar MacFadyen’s brother, see story here. As a returned war veteran, Norman was able to purchase a farm in Meadow Bank through the Veteran’s Land Act from Neil Ferguson who then bought a store in Bonshaw. Norman Campbell MacFadyen met his wife Lola Dingwell from Marie at a Presbyterian function in Morell. They moved to Meadowbank and farmed there. Their son Dingwell married Dophie MacLean and they also lived at the homeplace. Both families moved to Charlottetown for a while but they summered along with their children at the Meadowbank property even though there was no electricity or indoor plumbing. When electricity was installed, Dingwall bought the farm from his parents. Joanne attended Meadowbank School and later worked with the PEI Tourism Office and then at the Confederation Centre. She worked with the PEI Collection which was kept under lock and key, and that opportunity sparked her interest in history. She moved to Winsloe when she married. Joanne organized the 225 Dingwell reunion in 2000 in Pinette and her interest in genealogy and history continues to grow. She helped to catalogue the Winsloe United Church Cemetery. She tells us the decommissioned church was built with bricks made in Rocky Point and taken over on the ice in 1882.

Chair’s note: Joanne is also a descendent of Thomas and Jane Beer. She and Jane Dyment are descendants of their oldest daughter Mary Ann (Beer) MacFadyen. She is also the great great grand-daughter of Eliza Brown who was a descendant of those who settled on the Bannockburn Road. Each time we see Joanne at a meeting or event, she has a file folder with yet more historical papers. She has an enviable knack at sleuthing for key pieces of history which we continue to be very grateful for. We can attribute the Millar MacFadyenThe Old Homestead on the Linwood Road and The Howard Christian Cemetery in Kingston stories and the History of Meadow Bank series to her efforts.

Founding Members:

Hilda Colodey

Hilda’s Clyde River roots are deep – she grew up on land which has been farmed by the Dixon family since the 1830’s. After completing Grade 10 at Clyde River school she attended Prince of Wales College and graduated from Dalhousie University and began teaching at Charlottetown Rural High School. Along with several other “Rural” teachers she was part of the inaugural staff at Bluefield High School when it was opened. After short stays in Kingston and New Dominion, Hilda and her husband Jim moved to the Bannockburn Road in 1978.

Although she has lived her life steeped in the stories of Clyde River, Hilda’s interest in the history of the community was formalized when she was asked to join the committee that created the book The History and Stories of Clyde River, Prince Edward Island in 2009. Assisting with the production of the 2011 calendar of Clyde River Historical Homes, helping with establishing the Emily Bryant Room at the Community Centre and being involved with planning the historical lecture series have followed from this first adventure into recall, research and documentation. Exploring Clyde River’s history has assisted her in being a member of  committees that have published books about the history of the P.E.I. Association of Exhibitions and the history of Old Home Week.

Hilda is an adherent of Burnside Presbyterian Church, member and chair of the Clyde River Community Council and community representative on the Atlantic Vet College Animal Care Committee. She looks forward to continuing her participation in the activities of the Historical Committee.

Chair’s note: Hilda has played key roles in Clyde River as councillor and now Chair of the Clyde River Community Council and as a member of our history committee since we were established. Hilda has the deepest knowledge of Clyde River’s history within our group, so we will continue to call on her to check facts and offer advice. And what she doesn’t know, she said her brother Alex does know. Her husband Jim is also a great helper at events.

Sandra Cameron

Sandra grew up in Nine Mile Creek. She graduated from UPEI as a teacher, taught intermediate level at Englewood School in Crapaud and retired in 2007. She moved to Clyde River after marrying in 1973. She has three children. She worked on the writing of The History and Stories of Clyde River, Prince Edward Island in 2009 and also on the Clyde River Historical Homes calendar in 2011.  She is a member of the Clyde River Presbyterian Church, having served for a term as an Elder. She participates in Church and Community Choirs. Sandra is a member of the Friends of Clyde River, loves history and visiting historical places, especially when it involves travel. She has been involved in multiple projects initiated by the Historical Committee including the annual lectures series.

Chair’s note: Sandra has also been on our committee since the beginning. She has a passion for Island and world history, having studied it at university, so she offers us a broader view of approaching our local history. Her strong and decisive mind and her ability to take charge of hospitality at events makes her a valuable member. Her daughter Sarah adeptly manages the front desk at our events and enjoys helping us out on projects.

Vivian Beer, Chair

Vivian grew up in Clyde River, spent 17 years in Toronto and now lives in Charlottetown, although she loves to visit the family farm in Clyde River on weekends during the summer. She is also a descendant of Thomas and Jane Beer, but, in her case, the lineage of their son James and his wife Mary Ann (Livingstone) Beer. She established the Clyde River website in 2009 at the time the History and Stories of Clyde River was launched and almost 500 stories later, she continues as writer/editor. The site has a large, loyal audience mostly from Canada and the US but also many other countries. She established the Historical Education Committee to promote the history of Clyde River and area and continues as Chair. This year was the 5th year to host the Clyde River Lecture Series which attracts large audiences. She digitized heritage photos from community family albums ranging from 1890s to 1940s. A dedicated museum room was created featuring over 200 artifacts and heritage photo gallery. Vivian has transcribed private diaries covering the years 1910 to 1926. In 2012, she photographed and wrote a book, Landscape of Memories, which features landscape and architectural photos of Clyde River along with notes on their historical significance. She takes her inspiration from her mother Hazel Beer who kept excellent scrapbooks featuring clippings of community news which was a great resource for those researching and writing the History and Stories of Clyde River.

Vivian has her own company, Merdock, where she provides marketing services. She is also Manager, HR Strategy, for the PEI BioAlliance, a bioscience cluster which employs over 1500 people.

Additional recognition:

We would like to recognize the valuable contribution that Bruce Brine has made on the committee since it was established. He is a busy administrator for the Community of Clyde River and has been an excellent resource in our initial years and, as a former Cape Bretoner, has been a great sport at diving into our local history. He will be taking a break from our committee work, but we know he will be close by if we need his superior administration and financial skills.

We have other exceptional people whose knowledge we tap into from time to time from near and far, thanks to the internet, so we have a strong team working to capture and preserve the history of Clyde River and surrounding communities. If there are others in our website audience who have an unquenchable desire for genealogy and Island history, please connect with us.

If you have any questions about the Committee’s historical work or have photo or artifact donations that you would like to offer, please contact Vivian at vivian@eastlink.ca. On behalf of our committee, thank you for being such an enthusiastic audience. Knowing how much you enjoy history keeps us motivated.

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This is the seventh excerpt form Meadow Bank W.I. Tweedsmuir History published in 1951.

Meadow Bank Map

Click on map to enlarge

Thomas Hyde, head of the Hyde Family, came from County Clare, Ireland in 1770 where he followed the trade of spinning and weaving, having emigrated with his parents from England some years previous. He purchased his land for the sum of £109 11s 9d. The first deed from Gov. Patterson is dated April 4th, 1786. Until this time, quit-rents were supposed to have been paid. Thomas Hyde brought with him a family of two sons and five daughters and left one daughter married in Ireland. The sons’ names were William and Thomas.

William was a captain in the militia and on two occasions served as an M.P.P. He was married to a Miss Simpson of Cavendish. To there were born a family of four sons and six daughters. The sons were William, James, Thomas and John. The daughters were Mrs. Cameron of Covehead; Mrs. Stewart of DeSable; Mrs. Todd of Arcola, Illinois; and Elinar, Jannet and Sara who were unmarried. We know that William Junior first lived on the farm now owned by Russell Hyde Senior and that during the time of his father William Hyde Senior a two-storied eight-sided house was built which contained a ballroom on the second floor. This house was the social centre at which members of parliament were often entertained. When still young, William Junior moved to the eastern half of the Hyde property later know as the “Point Farm” owned by his son Henry and grandson Harry M. until the last mentioned sold to the Alex H. MacKinnons in 1945.

Henry Hyde & his wife Isabel Adams

William Junior married Mary Braddock and to this union were born six sons: Samuel, Lemuel, William, Henry, Charles and Albert and two daughters who afterwards became Mrs. James Farquharson and Mrs. David MacEwen. Thomas Hyde moved to US, James married Bell Nelson and moved to Pictou County, N.S., John owned the mill where Harry Crosby now lives. He married a Miss MacEwen and their family consisted of seven daughters and four sons. The sons were Artemus Hyde of Clyde River, William of Halifax, Duncan who lived on the home place and John killed by accident.

Mrs. Duncan Patterson of Charlottetown and her son Wallace, the jeweller, are direct descendants of Thomas Hyde, son of the immigrant.

Here I wish again to refer to the eight-sided house which was burned, supposedly about the year 1857 at a time when two Hyde women, spinsters, were the only persons living in it. Two valuable articles of furniture saved from the flames were a sixteen-legged table made of black birch and a grandfather clock both considerable over one hundred years old. Included in the loss were several valuable papers the destruction of which severed a connecting link with relatives in the Old Land.

Sometime before 1786, one John Wilson lived on the land west of the Crosbys for we find that he bought out his land from Gov. Patterson in that year. He later sold to Williams and Webster who in the year 1852 sold to John Drake who came here from Pownal with his wife Susan Burhow of that place. They had a family of eight sons and one daughter most of whom settled here, Samuel and James H. occupying the home place which had undergone border changes, 50 acres having been sold to the Crosbys on the East and an additional 50 acres having been obtained to the West. Both brothers now owned 100 acres. These farms are now owned by Richard, son of Samuel and Lemuel H., son of James.

James Yeo lives on the farm formerly owned by Thomas Hyde (son of immigrant) and his descendants William and Joseph who in turn occupied it until 1901 when it was bought by Herbert Howard. The present owner is a veteran of World War II whose wife Dorothy Agnew came from County Monaghan, Ireland.

The next farm, as far as we know was first owned by John Small MacDonald, brother of the late Governor A.A. MacDonald. John MacDonald sold to a Mr. Cooper who later sold to the Hydes (Samuel Hyde). It was in turn sold to John Scott of Scott’s Mills for his two sons, Seymour and Peter each getting 100 acres. The former sold to Ivan Clow while the family of the latter still lives on the western half.

Editor’s Note:

Hyde & Crosby Pioneer Cemetery, click here.

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The following is a narrative written by Joanne (MacFadyen) Turner’s great great Uncle Malcolm F. MacKinnon of Churchill which gives us a detailed account of the hope and trepidation of a group of Scottish Emigrants sailing to Cape Breton and PEI in 1833. We estimate this piece was written in 1894. It would have been his father’s (Archibald’s) and grandfather’s (Neil’s) account of the journey. For those living in the Churchill, Riverdale, Bonshaw and Argyle Shore area with ancestry connected to MacDonalds or MacKinnons, you may find some clues or questions in this lengthy but historically rich piece. We would love to hear from you in the comments’ section, or you can email vivian@eastlink.ca. This is a transcription of an earlier transcription of a story originally written 123 years ago, so we have made our best attempt at accuracy. 

A number of gentlemen in the old country, having lands in Canada had agents to see after their claims. The business of these agents was to populate these lands. Having sent a glowing report home, the people of the Isle of Mull and surrounding districts being those influenced, hastily disposed of their goods and chattels, except such that they could conveniently take as luggage to the Great Land of America.

So the poor people bid adieu for aye to the dear land of their birth, the land so dear to each one of them. Just think of the many tears shed when they arose and left the old homestead, never never to see it again. How dear the land of green heath and shaggy wood, the land of mountain and the floor, has been to these humble peasants, yet as humble as was their lot, they felt a pang of sorrow when they cast the last look on the old place.

They then went to Tobermory, from whence they were to sail. Tobermory is a place of some importance in Mull, on account I am told, being the third best harbor in Scotland. It is not much of a place to look at. Indeed there is no footing for anything like a building at the shore, by reason of a very scraggy and rocky hill rising immediately from the waters edge. But solid breastworks being built, there was a row of fine houses at the base of the hill at that time.

Those solitary emigrants after getting their little odds and ends packed in trunks, some of them huge ones, they then prepared to embark on an Emigrant ship or tub called the Amity from Glasgow. The ship I understand was built at Quebec.

Captain Samuel Andrews being in command, having engaged the required number of officers and seamen, they left Tobermory about the first of July, 1833, in excellent spirits no doubt, meditating on the future good fortune in America.

They sang the Emigrant song in the Big Hotel before, mixed no doubt with the good old uisge-beatha (whiskey). The following is the song in Scottish Gaelic. (The original writing included the chorus only. We have included the full lyrics here and English translation – video link to a vocal performance of this song at end of article.)

‘Illean bithibh sunndach – Boys be Happy

Chorus
‘Illean bithibh sunndach – Boys be happy
A-null air a’ bhoidse – Going on a voyage
Fàgail ar dùthcha – Leaving our country
Gun dùil ri thigh’inn beò ann – Without hope of doing well there
‘Illean bithibh sunndach – Boys be happy
A-null air a’ bhoidse – Going over the ocean

Verse 1: 
‘Illean cridheil gaolach – Hearty, loving boys
Togaibh rite h-aodach – Hoist the sails
Tha buidheann mo ghaoil-sa – A group of dear folk
Di Ardoain ‘dol a sheòladh – Are setting sail on Friday

Verse 2:

Gur mise tha gu cianail – I am homesick
A’ fàgail a’ Chrianain – Leaving the Crinan
A’ dol do’n dùthaich fhiadhaich – Going to the wild country
A dh’iarraidh ar lòin as – To make a living

Verse 3: 

Gur mise tha fo ghruaimean – I am in despair
A’ dol a shiubhal chuantan – Travelling over the oceans
Tha ‘n t-soitheach dubh a’ gluasad – A black ship is moving
Gu muladach a sheòladh – Sailing in sadness

After the unusual embracing and such, fond and precious remarks, the shrill note of the Captain’s ship ahoy, they went on board, being a fine day and the future after plotting the course, then she moved away, having all the appearance of fine weather. They felt comfortable as could be expected under the circumstances, making new acquaintances to fill the gap made by the old ones left behind. They progressed.

The old tub, as they called her, moved majestically along. Till they encountered a storm along the Irish Coast. The storm was severe. Indeed, some of the poor passengers begged the Captain to return back again, but he being an able seaman proceeded on the voyage. After three days, the storm abated and they forgot their terror, being too busy putting things to rights, attending the sick etc.

One curiosity among the men who used the cuddy weed, was that their lips were burned with the poker iron they lit their cuddies with. Having no flintstone, they were obliged to used the iron. I think if it was now, many a fine pair of mustaches would be disfigured, for a time at least.

After the storm calmed down, the weather was fine until they came to the banks of Newfoundland, where a hurricane struck them, and the ship being tossed on her beam ends. For three hours they were in a perilous position, I am told, until she righted again, and you may wager that they were a pious lot. But people soon forgot those things and became themselves again.

I am told this was the severest storm there ever was on the Island, that to the knowledge of the oldest inhabitants. One old man being hurt at the time of the storm, died soon thereafter and was buried at sea. Also, one child. Those two were all the deaths. There was also one birth.

After seven weeks of tossing on the Great Atlantic, they landed at Port Hawkesbury, Cape Breton, about 250 souls, and the great number remaining there, having friends to greet them. (Editor’s note: exact date was August 21st, 1833, reference here.)

The Amity of Glasgow proceeded to her destination, Quebec, to load with lumber, being build for that trade, made her a very poor sailor and a sorrowful time for passengers (seventy).

The number who came to the Island was sixty-eight souls, many married couples and families, made up fifty-eight. Unmarried men were seven. There was also one woman and two children.

They took passage in two small French schooners bound for Charlottetown and landed there in due time. After resting their bones, they went to the country to look out for a home for the future, settling here and there all over Queen’s County.

Not having space will not permit me to give a detailed account of them individually, but a remark or two will not be out of place, I hope.

Mr. John MacFarlane, who afterwards settled on Melville Road, brought an iron plow, and I am told it is in good working order yet. They all lived to a ripe old age and honorably passed on.

Mr. MacDonald after moving about a little, settled on Strathgartney Heights, where he ran a smithy. Mack was always welcome at neighbours’ fireside or at home on winter nights, being always attentively listened to, being a grand hand at Legends and Traditions. He died at the age of 82 years on Strathgartney Heights.

The three oldest of the family were girls, who got married and moved to different parts of the Island.

Neil, the eldest son, being a seafaring man, went to sea and got married to a lady in Glasgow. He died at the early age of 41, leaving two sons.

The next, Flora, is deserving of special mention. She was about 19 years when she came to the Island. Fourteen years after, she married Edward Whitehead, a private in the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusilieres. He was stationed in Charlottetown then. They were soon called away and, after remaining in Halifax for six months, went to Winchester, England, remaining there two years. This town is noted as the place Cromwell made a decree that all travelers passing should get one pint of beer and a slice of bread. This was after he burned the town.

He was a commander on the fourth day of April 1854, but sad to relate he was killed at the first engagement at the Battle of Alma on the 20th September. Samuel Morell was Whitehead’s chum for eighteen years, went through the war and came back without a scratch, which was a lucky thing for the widow. Friendship ripened to affection and he married her after she came back to England. Those gentlemen have great respect for the Scotch women.

Mr. Morell was keeper of Regent’s Park for 28 years and six months until he took ill and died April 6th, 1888. After her husband’s death, Mrs. Morell felt lonesome and came back to Prince Edward Island to live with her brother Donald on Tryon Road.

Mrs. Morell saw some wonderful sights in her time. She saw the Great Eastern launched. The SS Great Eastern was a mammoth ship. She was 680 ft. long. They launched her at a cost of 60,000 pounds. Her trial was disastrous, several being killed by an explosion. Mrs. Morell saw Queen Victoria several times, likewise all the Royal Family. I think that would be a treat to see the Royal Family of Great Britain.

She receives a pension as a soldier’s widow of two shillings and sixpence a month, is now about 80 years old and retains her faculties.

This is an account of John, and Christy got married to a Mr. Miller and moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where she now lives, prosperous and happy.

The next on our list is Mr. William MacDonald, having a family when he landed of six boys and one girl. He settled in Argyle Rear, where he died leaving two sons there. They in turn left their farms to their sons, now the third generation who is still living there in good circumstances.

Next comes Neil MacKinnon who died at the age of 82 years, leaving a wife, five girls and three boys. His wife was one of the Lochbuie MacLeans, a clan noted for longevity and a strange Legend of Ewan of the Little head or The Headless Horseman. The old lady died at the venerable age of 91 years, retaining her faculties till the very last.

The eldest of the family, Allen settled on a farm in River Dale, Lot 30, and died about eleven years ago, leaving a widow who still survives him, but no family.

Next to Allen is Archibald, who was my father, was a tailor and farmer, settled in Strathgartney Corner, where he died on the 20th May 1891, aged 77 years.

Catherine married Malcolm MacKinnon and the mother of ten sons and two daughters. She has now two sons on the Island and one daughter. Five sons in the Western States. Two died in the Eastern States and one is on the Island. The other daughter made a home in New Hampshire.

Margaret married Mr. Donald MacLeod of Harlington. She had three daughters, two married and one single. Mrs. MacLeod died 1893 aged 74 years.

Flora married James Murray and they settled on a farm in River Dale. She died May 1893 aged 71. She has two sons in the States and one on the Island on the homestead. Three daughters are on the Island, two married and one single. She was one of a pair of twins. Her other sister Mary, is living in Ontario.

The youngest son John was a child of three years when he came to the Island, leaving him now 64 years next birthday. John like everybody had some peculiarities, one being content to remain a bachelor, but it seems to agree with him. However, he is a hale and hearty man today. He has filled different positions in his time. Learning the tailoring trade first, but thinking he missed his calling, he went to school and after getting a license to teach Grammar School, he filled that position for a number of years.

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The tailor shop was on the second floor of the barn at the right. They had a round stove with a “ring or rim” to set the irons upon. Located at corner of highway and Riverdale Road. Buildings no longer there since highway upgrade.

Malcolm F. MacKinnon included his bio with the story:

Malcolm, tailor, of Churchill, was born April 20th 1867 at Churchill, son of Archibald and Isabella (Ferguson) MacKinnon. The parental grandfather Neil MacKinnon was born on the Isle of Mull, Argyleshire, Scotland, and came to Prince Edward Island August 11, 1833 on the ship Amity of Glasgow, and located on Strath Alban. He was married in his native country and became the father of eight children: Archibald, Allen, John, Catherine, Mary, Flora, Margaret and Sarah.

Archibald MacKinnon, father of Malcolm who wrote this, was also born on the Isle of Mull and accompanied his parents on their immigration to PEI. He followed his trade as a tailor but the last twenty years of his life was engaged in farming. He married Isabella Ferguson, a daughter of Peter Ferguson of Hampton, PEI, and had a family, namely, Peter who died in infancy, Neil, Charles, Peter the second, John Archibald, Malcolm F., Sarah wife of Charles MacFadyen, Catherine deceased, Christie, and Isabel the wife of Duncan MacGillivary. He was a member of the Church of Scotland and always supported the Liberal Party. His death occurred on May 26, 1891. Malcolm F. who wrote this sketch was a tailor also, and was a member of the L.O.A.B.A. and the Sons of Temperance, also a Member of the Scotch Kirk.

I hope this will give you an idea of your ancestors, that’s if they are or not. There is a sketch written by Ewen MacKinnon of DeSable born 1837 and Margaret MacKinnon, his Grandfather being John MacKinnon, a native of Isle of Mull, Argyleshire, born in 1787.

Photos of MacKinnon Family’s record book:

Editor’s Notes:

  • Archibald and Isabella (Ferguson) MacKinnon Family tree, click here.
  • Notation on site – The Ships List: PANS, Financial Mss., Passenger Money, op. cit., John Jean (Collector of Customs) to Charles Wallace, Arichat, August 23, 1833. Brig Amity, from Creek Tobermory, Port of Greenock, landed 258 “passengers” at Ship Harbour on August 21. Jean collected the passenger money—£64/10/0
  • Video of group performing the song Illean Bithibh Sunndach (Boys be Happy):

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Many families in Clyde River have an ancestral connection to Colonsay, Scotland. Immigrants to Prince Edward Island in the early 1800s sailed on the Polly 1803, Dykes 1803, Oughton 1803, Spencer 1806 and settled in Belfast, Clyde River and surrounding areas, becoming part of the Selkirk Settlers. Common family names are Darrach, MacLean, MacNeil, Bell, Currie, MacPhee, MacEachern, to name a few. Here is drone footage of Colonsay. Enjoy. If you have visited here, share your experience in the comments.

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