March 11, 2007
How did my ancestors come to Grand Manan? Of course, my roots are many
and varied. Coming from a small island, as I did, means my stories are intertwined with others who may remember the stories
differently but lest we lose them altogether, I started a collection which I hope will illustrate the courage, faith
and humour which enabled my ancestors to face the daily challenges in their lives.
In 1784 Sadie Asquith and the well off ship building magnate, Hughitson Shepherd, was expecting a child. Most islanders with Shepherd connections trace their ancestry to a man named William but according to Lila
Shepherd (who had a clear mind until her death in her 103rd year) the couple named their baby son Joseph.
For some unknown reason, the son didn't follow in his father's shipbuilding business.
Instead the family purchased him a commission on a British Man-of-War ship and he became a sailor. On a trip across the Atlantic the officers began drinking
and a fight broke out. Joseph broke the laws of the sea by either striking or talking back to an officer and the mariner's
code of ethics stated he should be punished. (Usual punishment was a whipping administered with
a cat-of-nine tails, and in some cases the culprit was hanged.) When the ship
neared the port of Halifax, Joseph thought it best not to stay around to see what his punishment would be. So before the
officers sobered up he jumped ship and hid until the ship sailed again. It became imperative
for him to find a safe place to hide for most likely there would be a reward posted for his capture.
It's not clear how he came to the island, but someone set him ashore on Grand
Manan, one of the remote islands in the Bay of Fundy. Here, there was little likelihood of being discovered and returned
to England for punishment.
March 12, 2007
Sometime between his escape from his ship in Halifax and his arrival on Grand Manan
Joseph changed his name to William Joseph after his mother’s brother, William Joseph Asquith. It’s not clear which
route William sailed in order to avoid his would-be captors but he eventually made his way to the shores of Grand Manan.
At the time of his appearance a young woman by the name of Sarah Littlejohn was out in the field hoeing potatoes. Family
history says that when she looked up and saw this scruffy piece of humanity stumbling towards her, she didn't wait to see
if he was drunk or just weak. Apparently his foreign accent and different way of expressing himself did little to alleviate
her fear. So she picked up her hoe and attacked the intruder. Even in his weakened
condition, William managed to grasp the hoe and calm the hysterical Sarah by assuring her that he meant no harm. Shortly after
this William and Sarah were married and made their home amongst the other early settlers of Grand Manan.
March 13, 2007
Oral history speaks of William’s connection to a well off family in Britain. Upon learning their son was alive and the circumstances of his jumping ship, the Shepherd family petitioned the court
and won a pardon for William. This pardon made it possible for him to return
to England safely for a visit. During is visit the family bestowed on William many beautiful
wedding presents to take to his new land. A few years ago I visited Mrs. Bagley
in the Nursing Home and she remembered that part of one of the gifts, pieces from a dinner set for one hundred people, sat
on her family's shelves for a number of years.
Entry for March 19
What did things cost one hundred years ago? I'll quote in part a list of items purchased from PETER RUSSELL’S GENERAL STORE; Fish, Groceries,
Boots and Shoes.
1 gallon molasses...45 cents
1 pair shoes...$2.15
1 tea...30 cents
1 rake...22 cents
1 dip net...$3.78
1 top shirt...$1.10
20 lb sugar...$1.00
(these were purchased on December 19th..a little girl's Christmas?)
wash board...25 cents
1 grammar...35 cent
1 history...40 cents
Entry for March 22, 2007
News Item from
The Mananooc News, September, 1931
A. Judson Sanders reported a number of one sentence
items in his column “Isn’t it Nice That—”
Miss Gallager is our teacher this term.
Wave Kent is giving a pencil free with each scribbler he sells.
The hedge we set out last Arbor Day
is looking so well.
When lightning struck the Grand Manan
II, it did nothing worse than knock over the stovepipe and make the cook deaf for half an hour.
The Honduras hurricane did not sweep Grand Manan,
wreck the weirs, flatten out the fish houses, erase the cucumbers, scare the cats, blow away the chickens and unroof the jail.
Inoculation is over with.
We do not have to attend school on Saturday.
We have nine clever new pupils in Grade
seven and isn’t it queer that they beat us all in mental arithmetic?
The North Head girls are too sensible
to wear street pyjamas