Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pokiok and Indiantown ..... Like Two Peas in a Pod !!


















The early histories of Pokiok and nearby Indiantown are closely entwined ..... probably due to their close geographical proximity along the Saint John River for starters ...... Indiantown being the hustle-bustle , commercial hub of  river activities while Pokiok harboured two major sawmills ,three lime kilns and a substantial part of the labour force needed to run these enterprises.......... so in the interest of being true to historical fact while , at the same time , maintaining close ties with my readers with the informal , folksy approach to our past that I have proned since the outset ..... I have decided to call upon a witness to help me out ! Now the old hackneyed adage " a picture is worth 1000 words " may be true ... or partly true .... but the roughly 2000 words in the testimony that follows amply make up for the lack of visual backup .... giving us a clear image of what life was like in Indiantown and Pokiok during the early years of the 19th century.

My witness was a longtime resident of Indiantown ... Thomas Cunard ... and his testimony was published by an unknown journalist in the July 11  , 1895 edition of  THE DAILY TELEGRAPH.

     Thomas CUNARD who died at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. DAVIS at Hoyt Station (Sunbury Co.) last Monday was a man of many years. Though he spent nearly all his life in this city there are few, if any, among us who remember him in his youth. His parents came to this country with the Loyalists in 1783 and settled at Jones Crekk where Mr. Cunard was born Sept. 12th, 1800, so at the time of his death he was nearly 95 years of age. We believe he was the eldest of the children born to his parents. Two or three months after Mr. Cunard made his appearance in the world the family removed to Indiantown. He had purchased a house on land now occupied by Court's building and it was there that Mr. Cunard spent his early days. The reach of his memory was to 1812-1814. 'Then', he used to say, 'Indiantown consisted of half a dozen or a dozen houses and shops and these were approachable only by foot paths twisting among the rocks and thickets that abounded everywhere. Caleb MERRITT kept a liquor store on the site of the house on Bridge Street, formerly occupied by the late Robert CUNARD. Robert COMBLY lived near by and burned lime at a place called the Devil's Hole on the Strait Shore. John WIGGINS kept a general store on the ground now occupied by Horncastle & Co.'s hardware store; John LEE run a cooper shop on the corner of Main and Bridge streets now occupied by C.B. PIDGEON. A man named GLASIER had a house on the site of D.D. Glasier & Sons office. William EAGLES tennanted a cooper shop at the corner of Bridge and Hammond streets, now owned by Robert WATSON. James REYNOLDS kept a tavern on the ground recenty occupied by Warings foundry. James EAGLES lived near by and Shubal STEVENS not far away, was engaged in coopering and fishing.' The only other residents of Indiantown at this time that Mr. Cunard remembered was Israel MERRITT and a Mr. HOYT. There was only one house at Lovitt's Point, now known as Pleasant Point and only one at Robertson's Point, now known as pokiok and that was owned by Robert ROBERTSON who was engaged in burning lime. The only house between Indiantown and the corner of Main and Mill streets stood at Orange corner. There was no road between St. John and Indiantown. Communication was kept up by a foot path around Fort Howe. When Mr. Cunard was a boy a man by the name of HARRIS committed suicide in the house that stood on Orange Corner. He was buried as a suicide in the marsh back of the site of St. Luke's Church. Merchandise from St. John was brought through the falls in those days in sloops, but they had oppositionm in one Mr. BLAKSLEE of St. John who manufactured tallow tips (moulds had not been invented). He carried his wares on his back through the woods to Indiantown and so supplied the whole community. This adventurous journey was made by Mr. Blakslee regularly once a week. They brought their firewood from pokiok on Indian toboggans. The mails to and from Fredericton were carried in whale boats, the round trip frequently occupying two weeks. Pidgeons were frequently shot on the hill back of Tapley Bros. The boys and girls went raspberrying and blueberrying at Scott's Corner and the corner of Main Street and Douglas Ave and great flocks of wild geese frequented the river all the way from the falls to Mosquito Cove. When the writer last conversed with Mr. Cunard, he had a good deal to tell of the 104th Regt and its officers, as he remembered them, of a man who was given a cask of gin, provided he would carry it home and who, as he was performing the task, was arrested for theft and afterwards hung; of men pilloried for various offences and pelted for hours with rotten eggs and garbage and of women being flogged by the high constable. When the writer last talked with Mr. Cunard, one visit to Fredericton and one to St. Andrews made up the sum of his journies. Once he was persuaded to drink a glass of 'hot Jamaica' which was the first and last, of the effects of tobacco in any form he knew nothing whatever.

Note: For those of us who grew up in the area Pleasant Point  is synonomous with Milford while Orange Corner coincides with today's corner of Main Street and Douglas Avenue. The name Tapley rings a bell with my friend , Art McGuire , and myself since we often talk about Tapley's Tank  , a site upriver a ways into the Narrows where ..... according to popular belief ......the coldest and purest water in the whole region trickles out between two huge rocks .... known only to folks of our generation nowadays probably .... our aim being to visit it in the near future.

The top picture is an etching by famous English artist W.H. Bartlett of the old Otty and Cruickshank sawmill in Pokiok... 1841... I grew up atop the hump along the high cliffs behind the mill. The 2nd photo shows Main Street in Indiantown during latter quarter of 19th century. The famous Hollywood actor , Walter Pidgeon , was born and grew up right here ! His father had a clothing store on the righthand side. The map shows the street plan for 1872 ...... a far cry from Mr Cunard's description of the situation during the 1st half of the century !!

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