An account written between 1868-1875 written by John Thomson
An account written between 1868-1875 of the original settlement of Harvey transcribed from a manuscript written by John Thompson, a schoolteacher and one of the original 1837 Cornelius party emigrants.
In 1837 advertisements were circulated by the agents of the Stanley Land Company, holding out favourable advantages to emigrants, and private letters from friends stating the encouragement offered both as to settlement and wages induced a number of families in Wooler and neighbourhood to emigrate with a view to go to Stanley, and in May 1837 twenty eight families besides several young men amounting to about 160 souls sailed from Berwick in the new ship Cornelius of Sunderland. Nothing worthy of notice occurred during the passage except one morning it was whispered round that a young stranger had appeared among them during the night. A second event of the same nature occurred before landing.
They arrived at St. John about the first of July and 26 families proceeded to Fredericton in a steamer called the Waterwitch, where they received the unfavourable news that a stop had been put to the Company’s works, which caused much disappointment. But they had not long to wait in suspense for our present public spirited Governor Wilmot, then a young man hearing of their situation had them all sheltered in the new Hospital before nightfall where most of them remained during the winter.
The day following His Excellency Sir John Harvey, Mr. Wilmot and other men of influence called to see them. The stranger said to these gentlemen that they had not left their native country to which the were much attached through any disaffection but to improve if possible their condition in life, and expressed a will to settle together on a tract of land which had been recommended to them, lying on the new road leading to St. Andrews 25 miles from Fredericton. Fortunately the House of Assembly was sitting at the time and 200 pounds were granted to pay for 50 acres of land for each settler with 50 acres in reserve.
A surveyor was engaged to lay off the block in 100 acre lots. The number of each lot being written on a ticket and put into a hat. 24 persons drew numbers and thus received their land by lot.
Captains Cheyne and Priestly taking advantage of the situation obtained a grant of one mile on each side of the road, of the best land at the beginning of the Settlement. This caused some of them to settle on very inferior land elsewhere.
The Government engaged a man to go out with them to give them some instruction in the art of falling trees, who continued with them until one acre was cut down on each lot and a log house built. In the beginning of April 1838 sixteen families located, the others followed in two or three years. But before they could prepare much land for crop the season past away so that very little was raised the first year. The provisions taken out with them being consumed, they were obliged to carry out fresh shipments on their backs. This was a distance of about 30 miles for those in the more remote parts of the Settlement. It would be tedious and uninteresting to relate all the hardships and privations which some of them endured for the first two years. This mode of backing provision was both expensive and exhausting. But in this difficulty they were not long in finding sympathy. The late James Taylor Esq. was appointed to send them out supplies as soon as practicable to be paid on money earned, in making the road. The first summer was chiefly spent upon this road. The families being left to secure what little crop they had. The bread stuff sent out for the families was divided among them according to the number in each family. This caused a little demur among those who had only a wife to maintain as they were assisting to support the larger families. However, they continued to labour and lived in this way with much cordiality for two summers. A Scottish Bard who afterward joined their number said:
” From Fredericton to Harvey soon a turnpike road was made
At which they all employment got, and wages good were paid
In common they all worked at this, in common shared their gain.
And as they went ahead they got, two pounds for every chain.
This paid their land and brought them stores. Their families to supply.
Till on the produce of the ground, they mostly could rely.”
On the third year an account was kept of each man’s time and provisions, so that in the fall every one was able with a few exceptions to discharge his own bill and receive the balance due.
It is asserted in the Agricultural Report for 1868 that one native young man is worth seven foreigners, but the young men of that Settlement soon became expert axemen, and what the older men lacked in skill was compensated by persevering industry, toiling on early and late hoping for better times coming. In the course of three years some of their friends began to arrive and settle around them in the rear. Among the early accessions may be noticed a family of five enterprising brothers with their parents who immigrated to America about six years earlier than the passengers of the ship Cornelius, and spent a few years in another locality. This family finding a block of land of superior quality in the vicinity of Harvey three or four years after its settlement applied at the Crown Land Office for a lot for each. But here they were met with the discouraging fact* that it was locked up in the hands of private speculators. These proprietors however were finally induced to exchange it with the government for another block better adapted to lumbering purposes. This opened up two thousand acres of land which was speedily settled, and forms that wing of Harvey known as the Little Settlement taking its name from the family who just opened it up.
In 1850 a number of families arrived at the time the Campbell block was offered for sale at one dollar per acre. This block being near the Oromocto Lake containing one thousand acres was all bought and settled forming that part called Tweed Side.
* The exchange here referred to was effected before Messrs Littles applied for it. So they found no obstructions in their way to Settlement.