Chapter 5

Tabusintac Beach
Tabusintac Beach. Image attributed to Dorothy Mildred Russell Beattie, Teacher and Photographer (Died 3 December 1989. Buried Riverside Cemetery, Tabusintac). From the Mary Lynn Smith collection.

The Tabusintac area, and what eventually became known as Wishart Point (N.E. New Brunswick) are where the final chapter of The Story of Charlotte Taylor unfolds.  The Widow Hierlihy resided on Lot 52 of the 1804 Dugald Campbell Plan (see Imagery/Maps/Map 7.) of the Lagoon and River of Tabusintac.  Her husband Philip Hierlihy is believed to have drowned a few years after their settlement in the Tabusintac area.  They had relocated there around 1798 from Black Brook on the Miramichi River.  Charlotte would not remarry and for the rest of her life would be referred to as Mrs. Hierlihy or simply Mrs. H.  The Plan had unnumbered Lots marked for many members of her extended family, and other settlers, but they were ungranted lands at that time.  The Lots would be officially granted under the 1810 Great Tabusintac Land Grant. 

Widow Hierlihy, on Lot 52, was located on a point of land later called Wishart’s or Wishart Point.  A small section of the lower left corner of the Lot was marked for ‘Indians’.  Below her, Lot 53 was marked for Duncan McRaw, and it also had a section on the point set aside for the ‘Indians’.  The name of Duncan McRaw/McRae/McGraw has been spelled in every conceivable way.  He was at one time with the 42nd Regiment (Black Watch) and married Jane (perhaps Mary Jane) Blake, daughter or adopted daughter of Captain John and Charlotte Blake.  A distance up the Tabusintac River, Lot 48, including an island, was marked for Duncan Robertson.  He was also said to have been a soldier with the 42nd Regiment.  In 1791 he married Elizabeth Williams (Williamson), Charlotte’s presumed eldest child.  These two men had lived close to Charlotte Hierlihy and her brood for many years, in the Black Brook area.  It seems almost a certainty that they became ‘family’.  Robert Blake, the younger of Charlotte’s two sons by Captain John Blake was living right beside her on Lot 51.  Across the River Lot 18 was marked for William Turner but would eventually be granted to Charlotte’s son Robert Blake.  Lot 16 was assigned to Philip Hierlihy and Lot 15 to James William Hierlihy, both sons of Philip and Charlotte Hierlihy.  Beside them Lot 14 was marked for William Wishart, only child of Charlotte and William Wishart.  Lot 9 and part of Lot 5 on French Cove were assigned to David Savoy.  He would be granted both under the Great Tabusintac Land Grant.  On November 11, 1810 he would marry Eleanor (Helen) Hierlihy, a daughter of Philip and Charlotte Hierlihy.  The eldest son of Captain John and Charlotte Blake, John Blake Junior, was assigned Lot 2 in the Black Lands.  Beside him on Lot 1 was the Glebe.

Charlotte was certainly situated to be surrounded by family for years to come.  In 1804, at the time of the Plan of the Tabusintac settlement, many of her children were too young to be on their own and their lands were simply set aside for them by the surveyor Dugald Campbell.  He had been a Lieutenant with the 42nd Regiment and had planned and surveyed their original settlement on the Nashwaak River after the American Revolution.  Dissatisfied with that area, several men relocated to the Miramichi River and from there to Tabusintac.  Dugald Campbell planned their new settlement as well.  In 1804 Charlotte’s four oldest children were in their twenties and presumably on their own.  William Wishart was 18 and may have been independent.  But the five Hierlihy children were all under 15, the youngest 6 years old, and for certain they were still living with their mother.  Without Philip the demands on her must have been great, although she probably received assistance and support from her grown children.  This was her fourth ‘widowhood’ and it would be permanent.

During that same year of 1804, Reverend Urquhart, the first Presbyterian Minister on the Miramichi River, was preaching in his new church at Moorfield’s (Millbank, New Brunswick).  His wife Margaret Milligan is believed to have been a relative of John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States.  Their granddaughter Louiza Urquhart was destined to marry James William Hierlihy, a son of Philip and Charlotte Hierlihy.  Reverend Urquhart held services alternately at Moorfield’s and Wilson’s Point. Families attended from up and down the Miramichi River.  They brought picnic baskets, containers of cheese and jugs of West India rum with them.  Hauling canoes up on shore, they filed in to hear sermons of several hours duration.  During intermissions they fortified their spirits with food and rum.  This prepared them for several more hours of preaching in the afternoon.  Louiza and her parents would eventually all settle in the community of Tabusintac.

It is time to digress a little and describe the Tabusintac area, a shallow coastal estuary of salt marsh, sand dunes and beaches.  Tabusintac Bay is protected from the gulf of St. Lawrence by a barrier beach and dune system 15 kilometers long.  Eel grass flats cover 80 percent of the area.  The adjoining Tabusintac Black lands contain organic soils and the area is a migration habitat for waterfowl.  The Tabusintac River teemed with fish in Charlotte’s time.  Then, as now, salmon and lobsters were caught outside the Bay.  The first people of the area were the Micmac Indians.  They had seasonal villages at Cain’s (Etienne’s) Point, Wishart Point and Indian Point.  Taboosimkik is the Micmac name for Tabusintac; Taboo (two) and Kik (place).  An old lumberman told W.F. Ganong that the name is descriptive of the appearance of the River from the water at Wishart Point.  At that vantage point the Tabusintac River (see Imagery/Maps/Map 5.) and French Cove appear as two equal rivers.  The first settlers in the Tabusintac area after the Micmac were Victor and Anselme Breaux.  Those two Acadians wintered for several years at French Cove before settling at Neguac and becoming its founders.  Jacques Breaux, a son of one of them, became the first settler at French Cove.  Around the same time, in 1790, David Savoy arrived.  The excellent lands, fine fishing and good pine forests of the Tabusintac area were what attracted the early settlers to the region.  We will continue with the Story of Charlotte Taylor.  Four years have elapsed since Dugald Campbell drew up his 1804 Plan of settlement for Tabusintac.

On July 20, 1808 John Blake Junior sold Lot 8 at Black Brook (Loggieville, New Brunswick) to his brother Robert.  Robert and his wife Catherine Blake both signed the Deed.  This land had been granted John Blake Junior on March 4, 1798.  It had been part of the original 1777 Nova Scotia Land License granted to his father, Captain John Blake.  On August 4, 1809 the Presbyterian Congregation of the Miramichi River petitioned for a “burying ground”.  They advised that they had cleared and fenced in land at the confluence of the south west and north west branches of the Miramichi River and had “at their own sole expense erected a decent and commodious house for Publick Worship.  It not being the intention of your Memorialists of hindering or obstructing any other denomination of Christians from interring their dead in the said burying ground”.  It was signed by John Urquhart, Minister of the Presbyterian Congregation and William Davidson, Chairman of the Committee … of the Presbyterian Congregation of Miramichi. Alex. Allan certified that “the Presbyterian Congregation have made improvements on the burying ground on the Point of Miramichi to a large extent, for the decent accommodation of the worship of God and to keep the general plan of Interment from being exposed to Hogs, etc”.  George Sproule noted that a small lot used as a burial ground had been reserved for that use “at the extremity of Beobear’s Pt., Miramichi”.

On October 26, 1809 two Memorials were written to the Hon. Martin Hunter Esq., President of His Majesty’s Council and Commander in Chief of the Province of New Brunswick.  The first was by David Savoy requesting Lot 5 on French Cove.  He stated that he had been settled on the River “upwards of four years’ and that his lands were not sufficient for the support of his family.  He added that Lot 5 had been surveyed in 1804 for Charles Breaux but that he had departed for Neguac without making any improvements on it.  A “cetificat” was included with the Memorial, only parts of which are legible today.   Charlotte’s son William Wishart signed and stated on October 16, 1809, that “to all whome it may concarne … that the Lot … in Tabishintack has never had eany think done upone it and the mash is a Commons …”.  This “cetificat” is the voice of William Wishart, at the age of 23.  We have heard him speak and it is a important moment.  There was another testimonial, also mostly illegible, attached to the Memorial of David Savoy.  It was written and signed in October of 1809 by another of Charlotte’s sons, John Blake who stated that “never hath been the least improvement made on the Said Lot and the Marsh there to belonging … in Common …”.  We have heard another voice from the past, more formal and very different from his half-brother’s.

The second Petition on that same date was the Memorial of Charlotte Hierlihy.  It is unsigned and written by someone other than herself.  It states that she was “one of the first Settlers on the Miramichie River and after many trying Difficultys brought up a numerous Family was obliged to remove from thence for want of Hay lands, at the time of her removal, the River Tabisisintack being entirely uninhabited by any English Settler, your memorialists late Husband Phillip Hierlihy, thought proper to make a settlement on that river”.  The Memorial relates that there was no marsh on her land surveyed by Dugald Campbell Esq. in 1803 and that she was “wholely Destitute of the means of Keeping any Stock, except your Excellency will be pleased to Grant her the privilege of the Hay, Grass on the Glebe Lot, untill such time as an Established Clergyman is settled at Tabusintack the same having been promised your Memorialist by D. Campbell Esqr. at the time of Survey …”.  George Sproule penned a note of clarification on the bottom of the Memorial.  He stated that “The Lot Surveyed for Charlotte Hierlihi contains a large tract of Marsh and is reckoned one of the best Lots – There is a Marsh Lot annexed to the upland Lot reserved for a Glebe on which about 12 Tons of hay may be annually cut as reported to me”.  This request by Charlotte Hierlihy to cut Grass on the Glebe reserve was denied.  Why she made such a request or who made the request for her is a mystery.

John Campbell had come with his stepfather John McLeod to the Province in 1803.  He had resided since his arrival on the Tabusintac River but was unsatisfied with the 200 acres marked for him.  On February 1, 1810 he petitioned for a Lot and marsh surveyed for Robert Blake, who had moved to Richibucto.  He wanted to retain his former allotment as well.  George Sproule noted that the allottment had been made to Robert Blake and that the onus was on John Campbell to prove that he had abandoned it.  Sproule suspected that this was not the case, “he having applied to be in General Grant”.  A week later Alex. Taylor attached a letter for surveyor George Sproule to his Petition.  He informed him that in 10 to 12 years he would not have any firewood left on his lot on the Miramichi River and had nowhere else to cut any.  He contended that his marsh grass lot at Point Cheval was unimprovable, “not one single stick of firewood is there only Hecmiteck Swamp”.  He added that Dugald Campbell had surveyed a piece of vacant land at Bay du Vin “betwixt Stymest’s Lot and Thom Iann’s Lot that I purchased from Duncan McCraw but it is worth nothing now … its altogether Swamp and Barron”.  On February the 12th Peter Taylor Jr. petitioned for 500 acres on the Tabusintac River above Jonathan Lufbury’s tract.  He planned to build a sawmill there within three years and was granted less than his request, 300 acres.  Late in February Donald McLeod Jr. and Alex McLeod, the teenaged sons of Donald Mcleod, asked for Lots 31 and 32 on the north side of the Tabusintac River.  In their Petition they related that their father had been one of the first settlers on the Nashwaak with the disbanded 42nd Regiment (Black Watch).  They had both grown up in that area.

On March 1, 1810 Benjamin Stymiest and James William Hierlihy petitioned for a Lot on the north side of the Tabusintac River between the “Indian location and the land laid out for Jonathan Luffbury”.  They also requested sections of vacant marsh on Tabusintac Bay outside of the French Grant.  The married Stymiest, age 24, and the single Hierlihy, age “upwards of 20”, stated that they had received no previous Grants, “though they understand some land was minuted to them”. The petition offered valuable biographical information.  They had both resided in Northumberland County for twenty years.  Stymiest had the “ability to cultivate” and had six head of cattle and other property.  Hierlihy had been brought up to a life of farming and fishing and he was still residing on his mother’s farm. P. Campbell certified that Benjamin Stymest Jr. was the son of an old Loyalist and was an industrious, sober and honest man, “a good settler”.  He said that he was not acquainted with Hierlihy but he had “always understood that the family are respectable people”.  Benjamin Stymiest Jr. was married to a very young Charlotte Mary Hierlihy, daughter of Charlotte and Philip, when he signed his Petition.

John Henderson wrote to the Hon. Edward Winslow on May 8, 1810 advising him of tree-cutting on native lands by “white settlers”.  In the text of the somewhat long and wandering letter he related that “Mrs. Hierlihoy declares to me that she never cut any timber on the glebe lot … some time ago two Indians cut a few pine trees by the river side and they lay there yet and (she) maintains they envy her for the hay she cuts on the lot. I make no doubt it is so.”  It appears that Charlotte may have been cutting hay on the Glebe Lot in the appropriate season before May of 1810.  Her Memorial of October 26, 1809 to cut “Grass on the Glebe” had been denied her at that time. 

The Great Tabusintac Land Grant took place in the 1810-1811 period.  The Tabusintac River Lots surveyed by Dugald Campbell (see Imagery/Maps/Map 7.) in his 1804 Plan were officially granted under the Seal of New Brunswick with very few changes.  After six years the early settlers had finally gained formal title to their lands.  On September 18, 1811 Miramichi River Lot 9 at Black Brook, “with all the buildings and improvements thereon” was sold for £350 to Hugh MacDonald of Newcastle.  It had been the original 1798 New Brunswick Land Grant of the late Philip Hierlihy.  It was sold by his five heirs (children); Philip Hierlihy Jr., James William Hierlihy, Honnor Hierlihy, Charlotte Mary Stymist and Elenor(Elenaar) Savoy.  The Deed was “signed, sealed and delivered in presence of Alexr McDonald, James Davidson”, and by Charlotte Hierlihy, Elenor Savoy, Charlotte Stymist, Honnor Hierlihy, James Wm. Hierlihy and Benjamin Stymist.  On October 4, 1811 “before me Joseph Horne, Esquire personally appeared Philip Hierlihy, James W. Hierlehy, Elenor Savoy, Charlotte M. Stymist and Honour Hierlehy and acknowledged the within Instrument to be their voluntary act and deed …”.  The spellings of most names recorded in this deed changed almost every time they were written.  However, Lot 9, once part of John Blake Senior’s 1777 Nova Scotia Land License; later granted in 1798 to Philip Hierlihy under the Seal of New Brunswick, was officially sold.

On April 6, 1812 Lot 10 at Black Brook changed hands.  “Charlotte Hierlehy, widow of Tabusintack … for and in consideration of the love and good will and affection and also five shillings …” deeded it in Fee Simple to her son, “William Wishet” (Wishart).  Lot 10 was considered by John Blake Junior to have been part of the 1777 Nova Scotia Land Grant of his late father John Blake Senior.  Even today it is not clear that it was, the original size of that Land Grant being in question.  Two months before it was deeded to his half-brother William Wishart, John Bake Junior sent a Petition to the Hon. Martin Hunter.  He why he and his siblings, the heirs of John Blake Senior, felt they had been “deprived of their right”.  He stated that his mother had remarried after the death of his father and had applied for a Grant of his father’s land to “assign the right therein to her said second husband”.  It was refused to her for years on the “ground that the mother of your said Memorialist wished to defraud the legal heir of her former husband of the possession”.  In 1798 his mother finally gained title to Lot 10 in her own name, Charlotte Hierlihy.  At that time she was married to Philip Hierlihy.  But she may have married the father of William Wishart earlier, just after the death of John Blake Senior.  He was presumably the husband that she had first attempted to assign the land to.  Charlotte may have felt that Lot 10 was the right of her son William Wishart.  Her Deed of it to him on April 6, 1812 completed a process she had begun years before, when she believed it legally belonged to his father.

In July of 1812 the Micmac Indians of Miramichi, Richibucto and Tabusintac pledged neutrality during the War of 1812-1814.  The promised that they would not “injure or molest His Majesty’s subjects”.  In return they were not required to take up arms against the Americans.  In August of 1813 Moses Austin petitioned for 200 acres of “upland joining to a tract of land memorialized for (a mill tract) by Benjamin Stymeist at Tabusintac”.  Austin was a single man, age 33, who had resided in New Brunswick 13 years.  He had served “in Quebec 3 yrs. in Capt. Muir’s uniform company, City Militia, and last winter 3 months at Fredericton in Capt. Macdonald’s Company, Northumberland Militia.  William Furguson, Deputy Surveyor, noted that his application was “really for the purpose of aiding Mr. Stymeist to put up a mill”.  He certified that Moses Austin was an active and honest member of society.

March 18, 1814 over a dozen “Inhabitants of Nick a whack and Tabinshatack” sent a Memorial to Sir Thomas Saumarez, President of His Majesty’s Council and Commander in Chief of … New Brunswick.   They requested ownership of a “small Island of about Two Acres … in the mouth of Nick a whack Bay and that it is a great Convenience for those who Fish for Herrings”.  They advised that the fishery was failing “owing to People coming from a distance to that Island and Taking great quantities, Even more than they can cure, which are left to rot”.  They prayed for a Grant of the Island “for the good of the Present and futur Inhabitants of Nick a whack and Tabinshatack Including Thy Indians of the Same Places”.  The men who signed the Petition were: Otho Robichaux, Benjm. Stymeist Jnr., Duncan Robertson, William Wishart, Philip Hierlihy, Robert Blake and others.  George Sproule noted that Herring Island was vacant.

Two months later, on May 28, 1814, Catherine Murdoch, Alex. Rankin and Hugh McDonald, all of Miramichi, were appointed to administer the estate of John Murdoch.  He had died intestate and it appeared that his estate was insolvent.  His personal property had been appraised after his death on August 11, 1813, and readied for sale to discharge any debts.  The appraisers were John English, Andrew Hay and Duncan McGra.  In their opinion the goods were worth about £350.  Among the lengthy list of items were: handsaws, a garden spade, compasses, crockeryware, a writing desk, a parcel of tobacco pipes, a horse, a yolk of oxen, a canoe, nets, and an “old broken fiddle”.  The total amount claimed against the estate was over £523.  The list of claimants was also very long, among them: B. Stymiest owed £50 and Gilmour and Rankin owed £61.  The goods were sold at auction for more than £170 after duty was paid.

In 1815 Thomas D. Stock of South Shields, England came to preach in Tabusintac, Burnt Church and at Bay du Vin.  That same year on January 28, 1815 Commissioners were appointed to inspect the affairs of the deceased Jonathan Lufbury Esq.  They discovered that his personal assets were insufficient to satisfy all demands against his estate.  It was deemed necessary to sell some of his real property.  A very long list detailed sums of money owed by various individuals to the Lufbury estate, among them: John and Robert Blake £8 19s, John Blake £4 2s 6d, and Dugald Campbell £2 3s.  The Commissioners noted that many of the debts were not recoverable “some … utterly denied and others disputed in part by persons against whom they stand charged”.  An equally lengthy list detailed balances owed by the estate to individuals, among them: John Blake £2 14s, Mrs. Hierlihy £2, Benj. Stymiest Jr. £15 13s and Benj. Stymiest Sr.£1 4s.

A year later, in 1816, Dr. Key arrived in the Miramichi River area.  He replaced Dr. Bell who had been, until then, the only doctor on the River.  Since 1804 Dr. Bell had traveled from Fredericton to Miscou by horse or canoe.  In 1817 James Johnston arrived on the Tabusintac River from Dumfries, Scotland.  He built a farm and developed an extensive lumber business in the area.

James William Hierlihy, the second-born son of Charlotte and Philip, married Louiza Urquhart on January 2, 1818.  Her grandfather had been the first Presbyterian Minister on the Miramichi River.  Later that winter another woman named Charlotte made an historic journey on snowshoes to Fredericton at the age of twenty.  Her name was Charlotte Sutherland and she began her journey in Bathurst, New Brunswick, not far, as the crow flies, from the Charlotte Hierlihy of Tabusintac.  She was accompanied by her younger brother Frederick.  Hugh Munroe, a prominent Bathurst resident and Justice of the Peace, was in Fredericton preparing a case against her father.  Munroe knew that the Sutherland lands had not been sufficiently ‘improved’ under the terms of their Land Grant.  He was attempting to have them escheated (revoked).  Charlotte Sutherland and her younger brother followed an old Indian trail from their home to Newcastle on the Miramichi River.  It was unsettled wilderness and they were completely on their own. From Newcastle to Fredericton they found shelter in houses and taverns.  They were forced to sleep under an overturned canoe and beneath the boughs of trees on separate occasions.  In Fredericton Charlotte Sutherland argued her case as brilliantly as a lawyer before Governor Smythe and he decided in her favour.

Generations have repeated that Charlotte (Taylor) snowshoed to Fredericton from Black Brook.  It took years and repeated attempts for the estate of her husband John Blake Senior to be resolved.  This was confirmed by her son John Blake Junior in his 1812 Memorial to Martin Hunter.  The importance of getting title to Captain Blake’s lands on the Miramichi River was certainly an impetus for winter treks.  The Widow Blake would have made her initial journey to Fredericton around 1785 when Captain Blake died.  There may have been subsequent journeys as Mrs. Charlotte Hierlihy until the matter was resolved in 1798.  Snowshoeing was a common mode of transportation in those years and it is likely that many settlers had to endure long, cold treks to retain their precious Land Grants.  Through the recorded story of the journey of Charlotte Sutherland we are able to understand what this entailed.  Sarah Davidson, widow of William Davidson, is said to have made a similar journey to Fredericton the winter after her husband’s death.  With an Indian guide she travelled from her home at the Elm Tree in an attempt to settle his estate.

On 18 October 1820 the Last Will and Testament of Duncan McGraw [McRae] was proved at Newcastle, Northumberland County.  The retired soldier (42nd Regiment Black Watch – American Revolutionary War) made bequests to seven children and his ‘beloved wife’ Jane [Blake?], who was likely the daughter/adopted daughter of Charlotte Taylor and her husband John Blake.

During the 1820s the Cunards founded a branch of their famous shipbuilding firm in the Miramichi River area.  In those days Chatham and Newcastle were like western frontier towns.  Weapons were carried by many individuals in the somewhat lawless atmosphere; brawls and duels were commonplace.  In the midst of this the first Post Office opened in Chatham and on October 7,1825, James Caie became the first postmaster.  In that year Charlotte Hierlihy was in her early seventies.  Most of her children had married and lots of grandchildren had been born since her arrival on the Tabusintac River at the turn of the century.  It appears that she stayed active during those twenty-five years ensuring that her large family would prosper.  She was still living on Lot 52 in an area known today as Wishart Point.  Although her 10 children were grown up she was seldom alone.  The summer of 1825 had been a very dry and hot one. From July to October virtually no rain fell on New Brunswick.  The forests were tinder dry and throughout the north shore crops died and wells went dry.  Even the Miramichi River receded.  It must have been an exceedingly uncomfortable few months for Charlotte and her family.

On October 7th 1825, as the new Post Office was opening for business across the River in Chatham, James Wright was beating his drum through the streets of Newcastle.  An erect and friendly man of seventy years, he had drummed for the Volunteers years before.  Clerks wandered outside the doorways of their shipping offices to see what all the fuss was about.  They laughed when he warned that a fire was approaching, and that the Indians had fled the forests for the river banks.  The temperature had hovered around 86 degrees fahrenheit for days and numerous small fires blazed along the Saint John River and to the north west of the Miramichi.  Earlier that day fire had destroyed a third of the dwellings in Fredericton before the wind shifted away from there.  The forests around Fredericton emitted a continuous roar like thunder.  Hurricane winds wrenched up burning trees and hurled them through the air.  Horses and livestock, maddened with fear, galloped through the streets and along the banks of the River.  People threw themselves on their knees believing the Day of Judgment was at hand.

Later that day the air became so thick and oppressive in the Newcastle area that it became difficult to breath.  The sky darkened as clouds of smoke engulfed the area.  A hurricane wind came up and terrifying roars bellowed from the forests.  Flames burst from the darkness and a sheet of fire illuminated the sky.  Everyone ran in panic towards the river.  Some launched boats; the rest huddled in water for a day and a half while the fire raged.  Hundreds took refuge on the marshlands half a mile from Newcastle and were saved.  The hurricane threw burning trees into the water and lashed the waves.  Two large vessels burned to the water lines in the Chatham estuary.  Cattle stood in the river in herds, only their heads and horns visible.  A bear stood among them and quietly left when the fire finally burned itself out.   Newcastle bore the main brunt of the Great Miramichi Fire of 1825.  It became a heap of smoldering ashes and chimneys.  Only 12 of 200 houses remained.  Ten people drowned, 130 people burned to death and 20 more later succumbed to injuries they had received that fateful day.  There had been an epidemic of typhoid fever in the area before the fire and many were burned in their houses as they lay sick in bed.  The court house, jail, church and the establishment of Gilmour and Rankin were reduced to ashes.  Moorfields burned and only six dwellings in Douglastown remained.  Across the River the town of Chatham was spared and people there were able to take in some of the homeless.  The fire burned down the Miramichi River to Bartibog.  It crossed the River and burned small areas at Napan near Black Brook, where Charlotte had lived many years before.  Warm cinders fell on the streets of Halifax.  After the fire it turned cold and some people found shelter in the boarded up cellars of their burned homes. They found potatoes, cooked in the earth, for sustenance.  A few went to Beaubear’s Island to deserted cabins there but the ‘weird tales’ of the place kept most away.

A week later Sir Howard Douglas, Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, left Fredericton in a country wagon.  He followed the Miramichi River from its upper waters for a distance of 150 mile to where it opened to the sea at Chatham and Newcastle.  The devastation he encountered en route exceeded his worst fears.  Outside Newcastle the roadside was strewn with black heaps, the ashes of men, women and children.  Douglas stayed in the Chatham area until the worst of the disaster was over, where he helped distribute contributions of food and clothing.  There were severe losses that would be felt for years to come.  The majestic pine forests that had been responsible for one half of New Brunswick’s exports were destroyed.  The Great Fire of 1825 (see Imagery/Maps/Map 4.) was really a collection of separate fires in the province of New Brunswick that burned one fifth of its area.

Charlotte Hierlihy must have been very grateful that the fire did not reach her little settlement in Tabusintac.  The residents there were probably breathing air thick with smoke and hearing thunderous roars in the distance on that day.  Until that time it seemed that the white settlers did not understand the magnitude of widespread forest conflagrations.  The Indians who had been in that area there for centuries had a keen awareness and understanding.  They knew when to leave the forests for the safety of the river banks.  A year after the Great Fire the first newspaper on the north shore of New Brunswick, The Mercury, was published in Chatham.

In the year 1826 two deaths occurred elsewhere in New Brunswick that were probably talked about in Tabusintac.  On February 25th at the age of 35, Benjamin M. Stymiest died at St. Andrews.  Less than a week later, on March 2nd , his grandfather, Jasper Stymiest died in the city of Saint John at the age of 73.  His funeral was held at his residence on upper Duke Street and he was buried in the old Loyalist Burial Ground in the city.  Jasper Stymiest was a Loyalist and a native of Long Island, New York where he had been born September 10, 1751.  His wife was named Milcah, and she was also a New York native.  She died in Saint John on January 17, 1838 and was buried beside him.  One of their sons, Jesse Stymiest drowned during a passage to England on December 12, 1828.  These people were probably closely related to the Stymiests of Tabusintac.  Benjamin Stymiest Senior had also resided in New York before his arrival on the Miramichi River after the American Revolution.  His son Benjamin Stymiest Junior married Charlotte Mary Hierlihy, daughter of Charlotte and Philip.

During the first half of the 19th century there was continued lawlessness on the Miramichi River.  Drunken brawls were frequent between residents of the area and sailors newly arrived in port after long weeks at sea.  In the summer of 1827 there were seven persons in the Northumberland County jail awaiting trial for murder.  Among them were a man and a woman charged with killing a peddler at Point Escuminac.  They were both acquitted.  The Grand Jury convened to enact a law preventing bathing in the river at Newcastle and Chatham.  The bathers were becoming a public nuisance “in full view of the populace around ships and public wharves”.  On September 28, 1828, Philip Hierlihy, eldest son of Philip and Charlotte, married Jane Lewis of the Parish of Glenelg.  Philip signed the marriage certificate and Jane left an X as her mark.  James William Hierlihy, Philip’s younger brother, and a gentleman name Joseph Spratt were the witnesses.

In the 1830s the principal store in Chatham was located west of Tweedie’s Foundry.  It was owned by Richard Blackstock.  The people of Tabusintac probably journeyed there to shop now and then, especially when they had other business to attend to in the area.  September 3, 1830 was the registration date of Charlotte Hierlihy’s Deed of her Tabusintac lands to her son William Wishart.  The document had been signed by her years earlier, in January 1814.  Another of her sons, James William Hierlihy, appeared before John Ambrose Street Esquire as one of the witnesses to the Deed.  He swore “on the Holy evangelist almighty God” that he had “been personally present and did see Charlotte Hierlihy the grantor … sign seal and Deliver the same …” Charlotte Hierlihy, “inconsideration of being maintained duently the remainder” of her natural life, “as well as for the natural affection and esteem” that she had for her son William, “no grant bargain”, deeded to him her “all and singulair lands as well as assigns” granted to her in her name on the “grant of certain lands to John Blake and others at Tabusintack”.  On that September 1830 day she relinquished all title to her Tabusintac lands including assigns granted to her on the lands of her son John Blake Junior.  It appeared from her Deed that she was residing with her son William Wishart, who had was now the owner of her home and property on Lot 52.  Naturally it came to be known as Wishart Point after that time.  Almost three months later, on November 22, 1830, Charlotte’s son William Wishart and Elizabeth Johnston, both of Alnwick, were married by John Campbell, Justice of the Peace.  Both signed their names and the witnesses were Lewis Urquhart and Samuel Gorst.

John Blake Junior, Charlotte Hierlihy’s eldest son by Captain John Blake, died sometime before October 16, 1832.  On that day his widow and his brother Robert Blake, another of Charlotte’s sons, sold a part of Lot 8 in Black Brook to the County.  It was part of their father’s original 1777 Nova Scotia Land License and had been subsequently granted to John Blake Junior in 1798 under the Seal of New Brunswick.  A school was eventually built there.

On January 29, 1833, The Gleaner recorded that a “young man named Robinson” (Robertson) had perished on the Tabusintac River during a squall.  His body was recovered a few days later.  Perhaps he was a son or grandson of Duncan and Elizabeth Robertson.  Elizabeth was Charlotte’s eldest child, born in 1775.  That summer on July 9, 1833, The Gleaner published a very interesting obituary for John Bailey Williston, Loyalist, who had died the previous Saturday.  It stated that he had succumbed to a very painful illness in his 76th year at Bay du Vin where he had resided for half a century.  Early in his life ‘he was united to her, the future partner of his existance … who now for consolation looks fondly up to religion’s sweet solace”.  The couple had 10 sons and 2 daughters, “10 of whom … survived their father”.  John Williston, aware that he was dying, “summoned to his bedside his weeping progeny – surrounded by whom he calmly breathed his farewell benediction, and bade adieu to the affairs of time; his fluttering pulse then stood still, and the spirit of the old man bust forth from its clayey casement, and winged its way to the realms beyond the grave”.

An interesting story was related to Dr. W.F. Ganong by Horatio Lee, onetime postmaster of Tabusintac, in his letter of April 13, 1908.  A group of neighbours was meeting at the home of James William Hierlihy.  Someone passing by noticed a man standing up against a tree, blood running from his throat.   The “person ran on to Hierlihy’s and reported what he saw and among the others that ran back was the old grandmother Hierlihy who had her fit out of needles and she sewed up the wound in his throat”.  He was then carried to Robertson’s where Mrs. Robertson “attended him and cured him”.  This is supposedly the reason that a small stream in the area became known as Cut Throat Brook.  Mrs. Robertson was probably Charlotte’s oldest child Elizabeth.

The Gleaner published the obituary of James Robertson on November 18, 1834.  He died at the age of 98 on the 29th of October in Bathurst.  Mr. Robertson, born in Banffshire, Scotland, had arrived in the Bathurst area around 1764.  He came to work for the “celebrated Commodore Walker” as a master cooper.  He last visited Scotland in 1775, when he married there.  He returned with his wife and lived the rest of his life on his Bathurst area farm.  At the time of his death Mr. Robertson was “not only the oldest but the longest resident, native of Britain in this country, and perhaps in this Province.  His memory till within a few days of his death remained unimpaired and he was a faithful and very interesting chronicler of events occurring at a period, since which the face of the country, as well as that of society, has undergone an almost total change”.  He left “upwards of 90 descendants now living”.  Mr. Robertson may well have known or met Captain John Blake and Charlotte Taylor, for it is thought that they arrived in the area around 1775.  At that time however, for an indeterminate period, John Robertson was at his ancestral home in Scotland being married.

In 1835 the first Presbyterian Church was built at Long or Church Point in Tabusintac.  Only the four posts of the church remain today within the Riverside Cemetery where Charlotte is memorialized.  Before this church was built people gathered for services and prayers in various area homes.  On July 5, 1836 The Gleaner published some details of an July 3rd inquest that had taken place at the home of Mrs. Blake of Black Brook.  The body of a man had been found on the beach at Schooner’s Point.  This location was about half a mile below the home of Charlotte’s former neighbour Mrs. George Murdoch.  This inquest must have taken place on the piece of Lot 8 that the Blake children still owned there.  It was where Captain John and Charlotte Blake resided when they first came to the Miramichi River around 1777.  In October of 1836 the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Session met for the first time.  They set aside a day for public prayer.  On October 30th the “Call” was sent to Reverend Simon Fraser to minister to the Presbyterians of the Tabusintac area.  None of Charlotte’s large family signed their names to the document.  When The Reverend arrived, the Scottish parishoners were happy to speak to him in their native Gaelic.  An inquest was held the Sunday previous to September 24, 1839 before the Coroner, M. Cranney Esq., in Chatham.  It was pronounced that Patrick Carrigan, pauper, had fallen dead on the street near his residence “by visitation of God – another victim of intemperance”.  In 1840 the Reverend William McLean replaced Reverend Simon Fraser in Tabusintac.

On April 25, 1841 Charlotte Hierlihy’s life came to an end.  The Saint John Royal Gazette printed her short obituary on May 5, 1841.  The Royal Gazette stated that “Mrs. Hierlihey” had died in her 89th year after a lingering illness, “an old and much respected inhabitant … the third British settler on the banks of the Miramichi”.  This implied that she was 88 years of age.  Previously, on 27 April 1841, the St. Andrews Standard’s obituary gave her age as 89.  Perhaps this newspaper printed an incorrect age, which was amended by the Royal Gazette nine days later.  Both of the aforementioned accounts contradict the inscription on the modern Memorial placed by descendants at Tabusintac’s Riverside Cemetery in 1980.  It is believed that she died at the home of her daughter, Charlotte Mary Stymiest, one of five children born to Charlotte and Philip Hierlihy.  She and her husband Benjamin Stymiest Junior, son of a New York Loyalist of Dutch or German descent, resided up-river at Stymiest’s Millstream.

Charlotte Hierlihy is said to have been buried at Long or Church Point, site of to-day’s Tabusintac Riverside Cemetery.  Micmac Indians may have brought her body down from Cain’s Point by canoe.  Notably, the Micmac traditionally carried their dead, sometimes over long distances, for burial in sacred grounds close to their families. Cain’s Point, an important Indian camp or village, was situated below Stymiest’s Millstream on the north side just above Big Marsh Brook.  There is a possibility that Charlotte was actually buried at Stymiest’s Millstream.  In the year 1841 a small Presbyterian Church was located at Long Point, but only the posts remain today.  It is a quiet, peaceful place, by the Tabusintac River, where many of Charlotte’s descendants are buried.  The 1980 memorial marker, honouring the “Mother of Tabusintac,” was unveiled there, 139 years after her death.

On June 29, 1841 John Saunders released his Report of the Surveyor General on Indian Reserves.  In it he stated that title to Indian lands at that time still remained with the Crown, “leave only to occupy and possess during pleasure having been given the Indians”.  As surveys were uncompleted and areas consequently not defined, The Indians were unable at that time to prevent encroachments.  On December 11, 1841 Perley’s Report on Micmacs listed Indian Reserves in the Province of New Brunswick, among them: two at Burnt Church, one at Tabusintac, and another of 10 acres at Wishart’s, formerly McGray’s Point, near the mouth of the Tabusintac River.  It was stated that William Wishart had it cultivated and fenced.  On November 30, 1842 the Indians complained that Wishart’s house was on their land.  This was denied, however William Wishart had previously expressed a willingness to give up the tract in question “after he got off his crop”.  It was noted that he had not paid rent but that his proper ownership could be easily determined by survey.  Another Indian Reserve was an area of 25 acres below Wishart’s at Ferry Point, nearer to the sea.

Just before Christmas on December 20, 1842, The Gleaner published the obituary of James Hierlihy.  He had died a month before, on November 30th at the age of 13 years and three months.  He was a son of James William and Louiza Hierlihy, and a grandson of the deceased Charlotte Hierlihy.  During that same winter, the degree of lawlessness with resultant bodily harm and property damage increased dramatically.  The Northumberland County magistrates asked the Lieutenant Governor to dispatch troops to the Miramichi.  Their request was denied.  The trouble had stemmed from political supporters of Alexander Rankin and John Ambrose Street, on the one hand, and supporters of John T. Williston, on the other.  The three were candidates for 2 seats in the House of Assembly.  The election, where mobs fought and dozens were hurt with clubs and stones, became known as the “Fighting Election“.  In the end Williston was defeated.

On April 26, 1851 Charlotte’s son William Wishart died.  The Gleaner published his obituary two days later, and in it stated that he had died at the age of 65 “after a long and severe illness, which he bore with great patience”.  His tombstone at Tabusintac Riverside Cemetery gives his date of death as April 28, 1851, age 64 years.  His wife Elizabeth, born 1804 – died 1884, is buried beside him.  Little more than a year later, on May 27, 1852, Charlotte’s son Philip Hierlihy died.  The June 7, 1852 edition of The Gleaner announced that he had died in his 63rd year, “leaving wife and a large circle of relatives to lament their loss”.  The Enumerator of the 1851 Census for Alnwick Parish had noted that he was “sick” at that time.  A year later, on September 7, 1853, The Gleaner printed an obituary for another of Charlotte’s sons, Robert Blake.  He had died on August 24th at the age of 71, at his Tabusintac residence.

And so my Story comes to its inevitable conclusion.  It is with great difficulty that I accept the year 1853 as the end of my journey with her and her family.  I hope that others will add their own branches and additions to this foundation.  I will be content to tend to what is here.

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