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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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CROCKER, ROWLAND (1797-1881)

CROCKER, ROWLAND, lumber operator, grist mill owner, supervisor of roads, and militia officer; b. St Stephen, N.B., 4 May 1797, s/o Robinson Crocker and Jane Marple; brother of David R. Crocker; m. 1st, 1825, Jane Bartley, of Chatham, and 2nd, 1840, Margaret Parker, sister of William Parker; d. Derby, 14 Aug 1881.

Newspaper narratives published in 1877 and after Rowland Crocker's death in 1881 state that he arrived on the Miramichi from St Stephen sometime between 1815 and 1818 with a drove of oxen. He travelled by road to Fredericton and up the Nashwaak River. To cross the Nashwaak-Miramichi portage he followed a blazed line which led through the woods to Boiestown. For part of his journey down the Southwest Miramichi from Boiestown to his place of settlement, in what was later Derby parish, he was able to make use of lumber roads along the river bank.

Crocker was a lumberman, with a 15,000-acre sawmill reserve on the Renous River. He also owned a grist mill and was an important employer in the part of the county in which he lived. He claimed in 1877 that he had made and lost £20,000 in business. He was one of the founders of the South West Boom Co. in 1854 and served for many years as its president. Through his lumbering and milling activity he gave his name to Crocker Lake, which straddles the boundary between the parishes of Derby and North Esk. In the late 1850s and the 1860s he received a number of annual appointments as supervisor of the 'great road' between Newcastle and Boiestown.

Crocker played a leadership role in the Methodist church in Derby parish from an early date and shared credit with his brother David R. Crocker for having the first chapel erected in 1844-45. He was also a prominent figure in the militia, being commissioned as a lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion in 1836 and promoted to captain in 1848. During the rejuvenation of the militia in the 1860s, following a period of dormancy, he was promoted to major and designated second in command of the 2nd Battalion. In retirement he was an honorary lieutenant colonel.

There was at least one daughter born of Crocker's marriage to Jane Bartley, and at least two sons, both of whom became schoolteachers. The younger of them, Rowland Crocker Jr, raised a family in Blissfield parish, where he farmed and taught on a 3rd class license for twenty-five years or more, before moving to Massachusetts.

Crocker's second wife, Margaret Parker, was eighteen years his junior. There were at least nine children in the second family, including Christopher P. Crocker and Timothy W. Crocker.

Sources

[b] tombstone [m] official records; Gleaner 28 Jan 1840 [d] Advocate 17 Aug 1881 / Bird; Ganong Collection (scrapbook # 4); Gleaner 28 Jan 1840 [d] Advocate 17 Aug 1881 / Advocate 18 Oct 1921; Courier 23 Aug 1877; Facey-Crowther; Gleaner 19 Apr 1836, 8 Apr 1845, 1 Apr 1854, 8 Aug 1857; JHA 1846 (appendix re. crown lands) and 1866 (re. militia); Percival Genealogy; PANB (probate files re. Christopher Parker); Rayburn


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