Archives provinciales du Nouveau-Brunswick

Fort Havoc (Wallace Hale)

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Progress of the Woodstock Settlement


Something About John D. Beardsley, Michael Smith, and Lieutenant Adam Allan.


John D. Beardsley

Was the eldest son of Rev. John Beardsley by his first wife Sylvia daughter of Rev. Dr. Punderson of Connecticut. He was born at Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1769. At the close of the revolution he accompanied his father to New Brunswick. He attended Kings College, Windsor (before that institution received its charter in 1792) with the intention of entering the ministry, but his means not sufficing to complete his education there, he in 1791 began teaching school at Maugerville for which the S.P.G. allowed him 10 pounds per annum. After teaching two years he went to Woodstock where he married June 20, 1793, Sarah Munday Dibblee and settled on the farm adjoining that of his brother-in-law William Dibblee — now owned by his grandson Charles A. Beardsley. The journals of the York county sessions show that Mr. Beardsley was commissioner of roads and overseer of the poor for Northampton in the years 1794-5, but his descendants say that he always lived [in] Woodstock.

About the year 1806 he began teaching school at Woodstock at which time the trustees, or "visiting committee," were John Bedell, George Bull and Joseph Cunliffe. Mr. Beardsley recieved 5 pounds per annum from government and in 1810 the S. P. G. took him on their list of school masters and added the sum of 15 pounds per annum to his income. In 1816 he retired from school teaching and was succeeded by Samuel Kendall of Houlton but continued thenceforth for many years one of the school trustees for the parish. In older days schools were not always controlled by "moral suasion" the master wielded the birch and believed in the old adage "spare the rod and spoil the child." On one ocasion this old time discipline did not meet the approval of a member of the visiting committtee and at his instance Mr. Beardsley was indicted before the court of general sessions at Fredericton, January 1807, charged with assault and battery of Thomas G. and Nicholas Cunliffe. This trial must have created quite a sensation and have proved the cause of some hard feelings in the settlement besides being expensive for the parties concerned. A number of the scholars appear to have had a free trip to Fredericon on the strength of it including Thos. G. Cunliffe, William Jackson, John Jackson, Elizabeth Dixon, Alexander Kearney, Jacob Smith, James Burt and William Bedelll. The trial resulted in Mr. Beardsley's being fined the sum of one penny.

After retiring from school teaching he engaged in business and it is said that he was the first to construct a boat of the style of the modern tow boat. The boats at first employed were clumsy affairs, in shape like a large ship's boat with a broad gunwale on which the men walked when pushing with their poles, others at the same time towing with a rope on shore. The cabin built by Mr. Beardsley for the accomodation of the men was justly regarded as a great improvement. It was not until some years later that Aaron Putnam first had these boats towed by a horse.

John D. Beardsley had a family of six sons and four daughters and had at the time of this death about sixty grand children. Four of his family married into the Currie family.

1. Polly Sylvia born March 17, 1794 married Charles Raymond and lived beside her parents; she had one son and three daughters of whom two died in infancy.

2. Peggy Clarissa born in 1796 married Edwin Dibblee of Northampton, they had 4 sons and 5 daughters.

3. John D., born Dec. 1798 married Jane Currie and had 3 sons and 7 daughters.

4. Charles John Alfred born in 1800 married Agnes Currie and had 2 sons and 4 daughters.

5. Ralph D., born April 8, 1802 married Ellen Currie and had 4 sons and 7 daughters.

6. William Henry born April 3rd, 1804, disappeared mysteriously in early manhood and was never again heard of.

7. Hannah Jarvis born April 24th, 1808, married Andrew Currie the first settler in North Richmond, and had 7 sons and six daughters.

8. Lavinia Matilda born June 4, 1810, married Andrew McRae of Grand Falls, and had 2 sons and 1 daughter.

9. Paul Fyler born June 28, 1812, married Elizabeth McRae and lived for some years at Grand Falls, they had no children.

10. Punderson Herbert born Dec. 24, 1814, married Florinda Hamilton and lived at Grand Falls, had 6 sons and 1 daughter.

John D. Beardsley father of the above married as his second wife Mary Ann Gill of St. Marys, June 21, 1828; she survived him for more than twenty years and died in 1873 at the age of 89.

Of Mr. Beardsley's numerous descendants it may be said in general that they have been active and enterprising and have always born an honorable name. Many are now living in the United States. John D. Beardsley jr., purchased the property on which his daughters now live known as "the grove." He was in his younger days an active and enterprising business man, kept a store and owned mills which he built at the mouth of the Meduxnakik and but for frequent attacks of illness as he grew older, would doubtless have accumulatd a very considerable amount of property.

Ralph D. Beardsley lived on the Houlton road where his neat and well kept buildings were always regarded as a model worthy of general imitation, and where his hospitality was freely dispensed to his numerous friends and relatives. His wife is still living and the occasion of the 90th anniversary of her birth was commemorated by quite a notable family gathering of which an account has lately appeared in The Dispatch.

Punderson Beardsley lived at Grand Falls where his business ability soon made him a leading man. One of his sons Herbert Beardsley studied law with L. P. Fisher Esq., of Woodstock and afterward moved to St. John where he became a prominent barrister and made his mark as a political writer.

Another son Major John D. Beardsley served in the northern army in the civil war and was with Grant at the taking of Richmond. Being himself afterwards captured by a clever southern lady he remained in the south and has since been largely engaged in "railroading." The Major and his family make frequent visits to Woodstock where they are heartily welcomed.

Charles John Alfred Beardsley lived just above his father and was quite a young man when he died. His wife survived him some forty-nine years and was always known for miles around as "the widow."

Hannah Beardsley who married Andrew Currie reared a very large family of sons and daughters some of whom are living in the Western States and others at Richmond. The Currie's have always been a worthy and estimable family.

The common ancestor of these numerous descendants John D. Beardsley sr., was a gentleman of the olden time, possessed of charming manners and a model of politeness particularly to the ladies. Under his hospitable roof the weary traveller, the old friend and the friend of yesterday found the best table, the best bed and the heartiest welcome. He died January 25, 1852, aged 82 years.


Michael Smith

Was born at Long Island in the year 1756. He was a younger brother of Captain Jacob Smith and a sturdy old loyalist, though not enrolled in any of the provincial regiments. [Michael Smith was commissioned Lieutenant 1 January 1777 in the 4th Battalion of the New Jersey Volunteers, commanded by Lieut. Col. Abraham Van Buskirk, also of Bergen County, N.J. Michael Smith was the ninth officer commissioned and the third to be commissioned as Lieutenant. RWH] He came to Woodstock about the year 1788 and secured possession of lot No. 23 originally granted to Capt. Thomas French of De Lancey's brigade. His name appears among the parish officers for 1790 as surveyor of roads and in subsequent years he filled a variety of positions showing him to have been an active and useful man.

He married, Nov. 30, 1791, Phebe Ketchum, daughter of John Ketchum. The wedding took place at the house of the Rev. Frederick Dibblee and it appears from the parish register to have been the first official act performed by him after his ordination at Halifax a very short time before. It would appear that the young people were anxiously awaiting his return. Michael Smith is said to have built the first framed house at Woodstock but unfortunately it was soon after destroyed by fire and he and his wife had to begin life anew in a log house. The children of Michael Smith were:

John Ketchum, born Dec. 26, 1792.

Polly Gaston, born April 23, 1794.

Eliza, born May 13, 1796.

Emily Caroline, born Dec. 25, 1799.

Nancy Beach, born Oct. 6, 1802.

Chrissey Ann Griffith, born Feb. 15, 1804.

Charles Lewis, born Aug. 26, 1809.

William Dibblee, born 1812.

The two younger sons, Charles Lewis and Wm. D., were leading men in their day. The former was one of the pioneers of steamboat navigation on the upper St. John. Beginning with running tow boats he afterwards built a steamboat called the "Bonnie Doon." She was a stern wheeler and a staunch and reliable boat and Captain Lewis Smith was always a careful and reliable master. Directly the ice had gone the well known shrill whistle of the Bonnie Doon was heard and her arrival was a great attraction to the boys.

William D. Smith, the youngest child of Michael, inherited his father's property and was a hard working and successful farmer. He was always to the fore at the agricultural fairs where he carried off probably more prizes than any other farmer in the parish. He was ready to adopt the latest farm implements and he brought to Woodstock about the first mowing machine which wa a great curiosity in its time, but would be a still greater curiosity if seen in the hay field today. Mr. Smith married a daughter of Mr. Adam Sharp of Northampton who still lives with her son Charles L. Smith on the old place. Their family consisted of two sons and six daughters, all of whom married. The sons Henry B. and Charles L. Smith are too well known to require special reference in this article.

Of the daughters of Michael Smith, the three oldest died unmarried. The fourth, Nancy Beach, married Charles Peabody and after his death lived with her son, Stephen. Before she married she taught a school at the Lower Corner (some seventy years ago) and among her scholars at that time was Mr. Edward Smith to whom the writer is indebted for information furnished. Mrs. Charles Peabody was one of the most amiable and lovable old ladies imaginable. Wherever there was sickness or trouble there she was sure to be found. The writer well remembers the quiet humor with which in answer to the remark, "Well, Mrs. Peabody, you have known me a long while," she said, "Child, I was the first that ever set eyes on you."

Michael Smith's youngest daughter, Mrs. Stokoe, lived many years as a widow and was known as "Aunt Chrissey" to all the neighbourhood.


Lieutenant Adam Allan

In the year 1803 lot No. 37 of the De Lancey grant, originally granted to Ensign Nicholas Emmanuel Old, passed into the hands of Lieut. Adam Allan. That part of the town of Woodstock extending from the post office a quarter of a mile up the river has since been built on this lot. Lieut. Allan's sojourn at Woodstock was bery brief. He was born at Dumfries in Scotland and it is probably from this circumstance that the parish of Dumfries, York County — where he ultimately settled received its name. Lieut. Allan came out to America while young and served with credit in the Queens Rangers during the American revolution. Later on he served in the Kings New Brunswick regiment, enrolled for the defence of the province in the war with France, 1793 to 1802, and commanded the garrisons stationed at Grand Falls and Presque Isle. Like many others in his day Lieut. Allan developed a propensity for rhyming, and when at the Grand Falls in 1798 wrote what was doubtless the first attempt at a poetic description of that magnificent work of nature. The opening lines are as follows:—

"A placid river, gliding easy on
To its dire fall o'er a huge bed of stone,
Into an abyss — dreadful, even to thought,
Where caves immense by whirlpools are wrought,
And where huge trees by annual freshets brought,
Are by incessant motion ground to nought.
See where obstruction checks the torrent's way,
The parts announced by a vast mount of spray;
Where, as the Sun its daily course pursues,
Reflects an arch of the most beauteous hues;
Combining elegance with scenes of horror,
Delight and wonder with most awful terror."

A more ambitious venture on the part of Lieut. Allan was published about the same time. The title page bore these words: "The New Gentle Shepherd, a pastoral comedy, originally written in the Scotch dialect by Allan Ramsay, reduced to English, by Lieutenant Adam Allan."

The admirers of Allan Ramsay appear never to have appreciated the genius of Adam Allan and his attempt "to divest the poem of its shackles" and render it acceptable to English readers was a failure. He attained greater celebrity as a land surveyor than as a poet. We learn from Rev. Frederick Dibblee's register that two of Lt. Allan's children were born while he was in charge of the garrison at Presque Isle, viz; Margaret, born June 25, 1798, and Mehetabel born June 3, 1800. From the same source we learn that he lived at Pokiok in 1807 where some of his descendants are yet to be found and where he died in the year 1823 aged 66 years, If he lived on his property at Woodstock his sojourn was brief.


W. O. Raymond


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[Published 18 Sept. 1895]