Friday, November 25, 2011

Pokiokers Eke Out a Living in 1891

                                           Woodman and Miller Lumber Mill and Pokiok Quarry  

       Cutler and Stetson Lumber Mill

With a big sawmill at either extremity of their territory plus numerous limekilns strewn out strategically along the rugged shorelines on both sides of he Saint John River between Indiantown and Cedar Point , there were surely ample sources for gainful employ to satisfy the needs of Pokiok's sparse work force back in the 1890s. To boot  ... there were three more sawmills within easy rowing distance across the river in Milford , Kingsville and Randolph.

With these facts in mind I decided to take a close look at th 1891 federal census to see what Pokiokers had listed as their occupations , trades , professions , etc. back then  ...... very revealing results ......... however , not too many surprises .... given the possibilities. As expected sawmill labourers and limekiln burners dominate ... whether lumberman , millman , shingle buncher , shingle sawyer , cooper , deal piler, lathe sawyer , lathe carrier , raftsman -------- limestone quarryman or lime burner .... However , many other "gainful pursuits" were given by those questioned , such as ....... vestmaker , pants maker , dressmaker , coatmaker , tailoress , tailor's clerk ( all women ) ...... caretaker , hotel porter ( there were two hotels in nearby Indiantown ) , barber , ship's carpenter , music teacher , nightwatchman ( My friend Billy McGouey's grandfather ) , ferryman ( Louis and Dick Leonard's grandfather who owned and captained the ferryboat between Indiantown and Milford ) , theology student ( the future Father Charles McCormick , C.Ss.R. ) , wharfman , boat builder , grocer's clerk , teamster or horse driver , ropemaker and two "general servants" ..... and to round out the pcture ... one farmhand ( maybe working on a small farm in Millidgeville ??? ) and one fisherman. Reading through all the old material and listening to local lore I get the impression that many Pokiokers fished  to satisfy personal family needs ... not commercially ... and , therefore , never mentioned it at census time as a means of earning a living. In fact , I still have faint memories of deer strung up in our henhouse during the war .... yet my Dad always declared himself as being a longshoreman , never a hunter !

Many of the family names that appeared in the 1881 and 1891 censuses were still alive and well some 50 or 60 years later in the Pokiok of my youth .... Gibbons , Armstrong , Hurder , Earle , Lindsey , Coleman , McGuire , McGouey , McCormick , O\Dell , Stewart , Hector , etc I still remember Charlie Gibbons with wife , Minnie  beside him driving his big car by our house on Sundays on his way to church. Charlie owned one of the very rare cars in our neighbourhood at that time. His sister , Kate , lived just across the road from him. And next to her lived Harry Leslie Armstrong whose grandfather owned and exploited the limekilns on Greenhead ..... having bought them from Robert Robertson who was the first "full time" resident of Pokiok back in the early 1800s ..... hence Robertson's Point and Robertson's Lake of local fame. Leslie would die in 1947 and Howard Bishop would buy the Armstrong home ...... and at Christmas of the year 1948 would give the paperboy  his first hunting rifle .... a rare one-shot , lever action Enfield 22 ....and  I still have it today ! Enough for the folks OUT the road .... now for the folks DOWN the road as we always said !

At the head of Big Hill there were three Earle houses in a row .... the middle house lodged Gladys Earle and her mother , Jennie , widow of Charles Earle .... both of whom figure in the 1891 census .... on one side Jennie was flanked by son Raymond and his family and on the other side by son Ernest and his wife , Margarite. Back in the late 1800s both Charles and his brother , Thomas, resided in Pokiok and worked as quarrymen at the Pokiok Quarry ..... Thomas even made the front page of the local newspaper in 1889.

Date February 19, 1889
Newspaper The Daily Telegraph
Thomas Earle, a laborer, employed in the quarry at Miller's lime kiln, Pokiok (St. John) sustained a serious accident about 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon. He was working at the top of the quarry when his foot suddenly slipped and he fell to the bottom of the precipice, a distance of about 25 feet. In his descent earle struck a projecting ledge about half way from the top and from this he rolled over to the ground below. Dr. Christie was summoned and found the man's right leg severely injured and one side of his face horribly swollen. The escape is certainly a wonderful one for a fall of 25 feet on jagged rocks is something few men could do and live.

 There is so much more to write about the wonderful , homespun dwellers of my favourite hunk of limetone real estate .... but I must draw the line somewhere and keep some memories and reminiscences for future posts. However , below I am adding five links to the 1891 federal census so that my readers might examine firsthand and more fully enjoy the raw data as much as I did.   



  1. Where was the Woodman and Miller Lumber Mill located? I can't figure out what buildings are up on the hill above the mill.

  2. Hi Kathy ... the mill was built along the shoreline where the old quarry behind the Cross house meets the river ...right smack on the lip of the quarry ..... it stretched out atop the rocks and wharf towards Robertson's Point where the river takes a sharp bend into the Narrows ... just across from Mosquito Cove on the opposite shore between Randolph and Greenhead ..... your Dad and I often played in that old quarry

  3. Hi again , Kathy...... I forgot to mention that those buildings you mention are long gone ... but were situated way up on the cliff behind McCoy's house back then .....

  4. Gerry:

    Stumbled on your blog while researching my grandfather. I was born and raised on the west side of Saint John and moved to the U. S. in 1964. Am now retired and reside in Florida; although we have been in an out of Saint John frequently. My interest stems from the fact that my grandfather worked at the Stetson-Cutler Mill and lived in a company house as he was the Teamster and took care of the horses. He was there from about 1902 until the Stetson-Cutler closed. His name was Robert Melbourne Earle. He married twice (first wife died with TB) and had 11 children of whom my mother was one. He is the son of Thomas W. Earle of Carlton. Do you know when the Stetson-Cutler Mill closed? Where exactly was the Randolph-Cutler Mill located?
    Lorne Lister
    Ocklawaha, FL 32179

    P. S. Great colorful and eye-catching blog. Pokiok could easily be forgotten if it were not for people like you. Thanks.

  5. Hi Lorne ,
    Thank you so much for the positive and encouraging words. It's great to see that people are actually reading my reminiscences and enjoying them .... especially when my readers have some particular interest in or historical ties to dear old Pokiok. In passing I have noticed that the older I get , the more friends I have now calling Florida "home" .... or at least during the winter months.
    The Stetson-Cutler Mill closed a bit before 1923 and the site was taken over by the Snowflake Lime Ltd shortly afterwards. I checked the census for 1911 and found a Robert Earle , his wife , Frances and three sons ( Clarence , Frank and Willard ) living on Millidge Ave... ?????? so he probably lived there but worked in Pokiok ???
    In the Pokiok of my youth there was a nest of Earles living almost nextdoor to us ... and were of old Pokiok stock ... dating well back into the 1880-1890s with Thomas and Charles as patriarchs. I grew up with their grandchildren as playmates. Charles' wife Jennie was still alive in the 1940s as well as his two sons (Raymond and Ernest) and daughter (Gladys).... Ray and Ernie lived well on into the 1980s I believe. Probably no relation to your grandfather though !
    You speak of the "Randolph-Cutler Mill" ? Maybe you mean the Randolph-Baker Mill about which I wrote another post a while back ... it was on Greenhead almost on the edge of Mosquito Cove ... just across from Robertson's Point in Pokiok.I have never heard of a "Cutler-Randolph MIll".
    Hope this has answered a few questions , Lorne .... and please come back often.... and once again , many thanks for the encouragement.

  6. Gerry:

    My grandfather never worked in Pokiok and we don't believe we are related in any way to the Earles of the North End/Pokiok or the Earles whose patriarch was the City of Saint John Coroner for many years. Do have a correction; my grandfather was at Stetson-Cutler Mill as early as 1891 and with closure date 1923 he would have been 59 at that time. You are right about the Randolph-Baker Mill but I cannot elaborate any further. Thanks for the comments and information about the Mills.

    Lorne Lister

    P. S. My Great-Grandfather was the Night Watchman for the old Harbor Ferry and as the matter of fact was on duty during the Great Fire of Saint Joh in 1877. Trust me when I tell you I am a Westsider from way back. Again keep writing and you will get more interest I am sure.

  7. Gerry, I’ve loved reading your blog posts about the Pokiokers and the mills along the St John River. I am particularly interested since my Jarvis family came from the Indiantown area of Saint John. My Great Great Grandfather, Robert Sutton Jarvis (1816 – 1899) lived on Adelaide Street in Indiantown, and was listed in the McAlpine’s St John City Directory in 1878 as a Lime Burner or Dealer. How could I find out what Lime Kilns or quarries were operating in 1878 near Indiantown?
    Norm Jarvis, Colorado, US