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Archives provinciales du Nouveau-Brunswick

Fort Havoc (Wallace Hale)

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Progress of the Woodstock Settlement

 

Something About Judge Saunders, Samuel McKean, Edward Collard, James Fraser, and Capt. Geo. Bull.

 

The first survey of the grant to the men of DeLancey's brigade was not made until late in the autumn of 1783; probably not till the next summer.

In a communication to Lord North written under date Oct. 21, 1783, Governor Parr stated that he had sent seven surveyors to the river St. John to lay out lands for the refugees and disbanded American troops; each surveyor to receive ten shillings a day and to have two chainmen and an axeman as assistants.

The work entrusted to so limited a staff was very great and it is to be presumed that the first surveys were not of a very elaborate kind. From this first hasty survey however, Surveyor General Morris no doubt draughted the plan which he attached to the original Woodstock grant, to which reference has been made in a former article. The oldest plan in the Crown Land office is that made by Isaac Hedden Esq. from his survey of the year 1790 — probably the first elaborate survey undertaken. In this plan the side lines of the lots are indicated by marked trees at the margin of the St. John river. A copy of this old plan is in the possession of the Editor of The Dispatch; it shows the state of the Woodstock settlement in 1804 as given by John Bedell, deputy surveyor general. The names of upwards of twenty persons who came to Woodstock a few years after the original settlers are found on this map and a few words will now be in order respecting them.

Taking them in order from the lower end of the grant the first name that claims our attention is that of Judge Saunders the owner of lots 3, 6 and 7 — now owned respectively by Benjamin Stickney, Wilmot Hay, Peter Johnson and B. Bull. Judge Saunders was born in Virginia June 1st 1754. On the outbreak of the revolutionary war he raised a troop of dragoons at his own expense for the king's service. Being subsequently transferred to the Queens Rangers he was engaged during the war in the most arduous and dangerous service in which he was twice severely wounded. He was present at most of the general battles in which the cavalry and flank companies of detachments under his command were distinguished for bravery and good conduct. After the peace Capt. Saunders came to New Brunswick and was in 1790 made Judge of the Supreme Court. The position at that time did not render him ineligible for a seat in the House of Assembly and he was elected in 1792 a member for York. In 1822 he was elected to the dignity of chief justice of the province.

Judge Saunders secured a large tract of land below the mouth of the Pokiok where he resided for some years and which he named "the Barony." Rev. F. Dibblee records under date August 20, 1795, "Baptised at the Barony, Prince William parish, John Simcoe born July 13, 1792, and Elizabeth born May 25, 1794, children of Judge and Margaret Saunders." John Simcoe Saunders was named after Col. John Simcoe the distinguished commander of the Queens Rangers. In after years he attained distinction in the history of the province of which he was at one time provincial secretary. The Judge's daughtr Elizabeth married Lieut. and Adjutant Flood of the 74th regiment of British Infantry, and died at Fredericton Jan. 8, 1821.

Judge Saunders did not do very much towards the improvement of his estate. Peter Fisher in 1825 wrote in his history of the province, "the upper part of Prince William parish is but little improved, a large district belonging to the Chief Justice being mostly a wilderness."

Chief Justice Saunders died at Fredericton May 24th, 1834, aged 80 years. The epitaph on the tall shaft erected to his memory in the old burying ground amongst other things, refers to him as, "Distinguished for his patronage of agriculture and liberal education his unaffected hospitality and his uniform attention the the charities of domestic life; he left to his descendants a good and worthy name, and to his fellow colonists the example of nearly sixty years devoted with unspotted faith to the honor and interests of his king and country."

 

Samuel McKean appears to have come to Woodstock about the year 1786 and to have purchased from Ensign Henry Ferguson lot No. 8 — now owned by Levi Yerxa and Alexander Johnston. Mr. McKean was not a loyalist but belonged to the Maugerville settlers of 1763. He was probably the first of the so called "old inhabitants" to move up the St. John river. His descendants in Carleton County today are numerous and respected.

 

Edward Collard served through the revolutionary war in one of the loyalist regiments. He moved to Woodstock with his wife (Polly) and family about 1790 and settled on lot No. 14 — now owned by John Day. He filled the position of constable and serveral minor parish offices.

 

James Fraser became the owner of lot No. 18, probably by purchase from Lieut. Benjamin Lester. He is thought to have been a near relative of Peter Fraser Esq., merchant of Fredericton. The latter became possessed of considerable property at Woodstock, including what is now the Indian lot adjoining the parish church and the large island just opposite. This island formerly belonged to Col. Griffith but he and many of the old settlers went into lumbering too extensively for their own good and the Fredericton merchants who furnished the supplies reaped the benefit. Property was heavily mortgaged and in the end had to be sold. Lot No. 18, now owned by John Riordan was known as late as the year 1816 as "Mr. Fraser's lower farm." It probably passed into his hands through some lumbering transaction. As long as Peter Fraser owned the island opposite the Indian lot, he preserved with much care a grove of trees at the upper end; after it passed into the possession of Messrs. Bull and Clowes the trees were cut down and this was followed by the rapid washing away of the island; today an immense gravel bar is seen where once there were acres of valuable land.

 

Captain George Bull came to Woodstock about the year 1790 and settled on the property at Bull's Creek which has ever since remained in possession of his descendants. Capt. Bull was born in Ulster County, New York in 1752. About the close of the year 1780 he was commissioned Lieutenant in Captain Nathan Frink's troop of cavalry in Gen. Benedict Arnold's American Legion. The other officers of the troop were P. C. Waterbury, Cornet, and Gershom Lockwood, Quarter master. In the course of a few months Capt. Frink's troop numbered upwards of sixty officers and men many of the recruits whose names appear in the muster roll of Feb. 1781, were enlisted by Lieut. Bull. The troop accompanied General Arnold in his celebrated New England raid, and Capt. Frink was his aide-de-camp at the burning of New London. Lieut. Bull was sometimes detailed as escort to Madam Arnold who was a lady famed for her beauty and refinement. The General, according to Lieut. Bull's observation, was never very cordially regarded by the British officers. Though outwardly civil they regarded him as a renegade.

At the peace Lieut. Bull came to New Brunswick and on the disbanding of his corps was placed on the half-pay list for the rest of his days. The rates of half-pay allowed the officers of the disbanded provincial regiments were as follows:

 

Rank Cavalry Infantry
     
Colonel $2.40 $2.28
Lieut.-Col. $2.22 2.04
Major 1.92 1.80
Captain 1.32 1.20
Lieutenant .72 .56
Cornet or Ensg. .60 .44
Chaplain .80 .80
Surgeon .48 .48

At the doorway of the house built by the late Mr. Abner Bull at the old homestead may be seen a small brass plate that was formerly on Capt. Bull's army chest which accompanied its owner through all his campaigns. It is inscribed, "Lieut. Bull, American Legion, Cavalry." Mr. Bull proved a useful and influential man in the Woodstock settlement. He accumulated considerable property and filled various parish offices; his name first appeared in the list of the year 1792 as one of the overseers of the poor. He married in November 1784 Nancy McKeen of Maugerville who came to the province with her parents from Litchfield Mass.

Their children were:

William Richard Howe, born July 2, 1785.
George Horation Nelson, born Dec. 19, 1788.
Peter Duncan, born Oct. 3, 1791.
Cadwallader Jervis, born Feb. 10, 1795
Mary Ann, born Feb. 8, 1804

and three sons, Warren Collingwood, Charles Cochran, and Abner, the dates of whose births are not at present known to the writer.

It is related of Captain Bull that being fond of a joke he used to rouse the ire of some of his neighbours who were strong tories, by occasionally expressing republican notions. It would appear however from the names selected for his sons that Captain Bull was a pretty staunch Britisher; but the wonder is that he was not himself a sailor. The names of no less than six famous admirals are perpetuated in his sons showing that the triumphs of the British fleet under Lord Richard Howe, Horatio Nelson, Sir Peter Duncan, Sir John Jervis, Admiral Collingwood and Sir Charles Cochran were greatly appreciated by our old veteran of the revolutionary war. A word now about Captain Bull's children.

Wm. Richard Howe married Sally Ketchum and settled at Richmond. He at one time with his brothers Charles and Warren owned land above the Nackawick but it is not certain that they ever lived there.

George H. N. Bull married Maria, daughter of Captain Jacob Smith, and settled on the lower part of the property originally granted his father-in-law now included within the bounds of the lower part of the town of Woodstock and on a part of which Mr. Richard Bull and others of the family still reside. The first house built by George H. N. Bull just in rear of the present homestead was the third house in the town. Near it was to be seen for many years the old stone chimney of the log house first built by Capt. Jacob Smith.

Peter Duncan Bull married Eunice Beckwith and lived at Presque Isle.

Warren C. Bull married Caroline Perley and lived at Northampton.

Charles C. Bull married Mary Wolverton and lived at Northampton.

Abner Bull the youngest of the family and its last survivor married Frances Elizabeth Perley and lived and died on the old homestead at Bull's Creek. Capt. Bull's only daughter Mary Ann married Paul Micheau Bedell who lived on the lower part of the farm formerly owned by his father-in-law.

The marriage of two of Captain Bull's sons into the Perley family recalls the fact that at one time there prevailed anything but an amiable feeling between the old Maugerville families and the Loyalists; the causes of which we have no difficulty in understanding. Some of the Maugerville people — probably the majority, sided with the "rebels" during the war, and the loyalists upon their arrival treated them rather superciliously and in some cases attempted to appropriate their land to which in many instances the original settlers had no good and sufficient title. The older inhabitants in their turn regarded the loyalists as interlopers and resented their claim to the special favor of government.

The intensity of the feeling that prevailed is evident from the fact that it has not entirely died out yet. Many of the older people of Sheffield today express themselves in terms that show little veneration for the virtues commonly attributed to the loyalists and on the other hand the loyalist historian, Mr. Hannay (editor of the St. John Telegraph) expresses an equally pronounced opinion as regards the merits of the "Maugerville rebels." Despite the old prejudices there are numberless cases however like that before us, in which we find two sons of Capt. Bull the loyalist wedded two ladies descended from Israel Perley the founder of the Maugerville colony. Capt. Bull and his wife like many others of Woodstock's founders seemed to thrive upon the difficulties and privations they were compelled to undergo and lived to a ripe old age; the former died Oct. 18, 1838 aged 86 years and the latter Aug. 14, 1855 aged 87 years.

 

W. O. Raymond

 

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[Published 28 Aug. 1895]


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