FRED8 COBURN (
FRED8 COBURN (Tyler7, David6, David5, Moses4, Moses3, Joseph2, Edward1) b. Keswick Ridge, N.B. 22 Oct. 1874 d. 16 Mar. 1962 son of Abraham Tyler Coburn and Elizabeth Ann (Smith) Coburn m. 18 Aug. 1909 Julia Collingwood Buchanan b. Apohaqui, N.B. 16 Nov. 1881 d. 21 Aug. 1973 daughter of Duncan and Dinah (Thompson) Buchanan.
Fred Coburn was the youngest of three sons. He went to school across the road. He used to say, jokingly, that he went to school for the recesses. He said his mother used to give him his pie before the others so he could rush back to school to play. Perhaps that explains why he was such a rapid eater.
Fred had a good sense of humor and was generous and public spirited. One example: For many years he hand mowed with a scythe the graveyard at All Saints Church where his parents and sister were buried. The only other mowing done there was a narrow path to a fenced burial plot.
Because Fred was the youngest son, he was chosen to stay home and care for his aging parents. He got possession of the family farm by deed with the proviso that it be home to his sister Effie who was still single. (His younger sister Bina had died at age 25 and his brothers, Wilfred and Tyler, had already left home.)
Fred had a mixed farm: cows for butter, beef and veal; sheep for wool and mutton;horses for farm work and transportation; pigs for pork. He also grew some apples. He loved to hunt and fish. Also in the evening he would walk the half mile to the McKeen’s Corner store to chat with others. Early in his farming career one elderly citizen of McKeen’s Corner was sure Fred was neglecting his farm so did a tour of inspection. He, reluctantly, had to report that the farm was in good shape.
Fred was quite athletic, excelling in boxing and running. But farm work was not,then,
considered drudgery as many people of the present generation view it. Nor were the results
of much of that labour any less than artistic. There was friendly rivalry in the
accomplishment of many farm tasks. Hoeing, mowing and harvesting activities were athletic
challenges to be met and overcome. In the fall a field of topped turnips was quite beautiful
with strips of bluish green bordered by purple on a brown background. I am reminded of two
lines from Grays Elegy:
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow’d the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Fred’s father died in 1903. His mother died in 1908, and his sister Effie soon married and he was all alone. However, there was a young lady boarding next door at the William Coburn house. Her name was Julia Buchanan and she was principal of the two-room Keswick Ridge Superior School, just across the road. Julia was born in Apohaqui, Kings County and went to school there, and later in Florenceville and Sussex. She attended Mount Allison for a time but graduated with a BA from U.N.B. in 1904, one of 27 graduating that year. She taught in New Brunswick schools in Burton and KeswickRidge.
Fred and Julia were married in 1909 in Fredericton. The Macnaquac Baptist minister, Rev. Calder, performed the ceremony at the home of Egerton and Augusta(Paterson) Everett. The Everett daughter, Lillie, who married Burton Carlisle, was Julia’s life-long friend. After she married, Julia taught for a few years across the road from her home in Keswick Ridge.
In 1912 the Sargent boys, Johnson and Percy, came to live with Fred and Julia.They were Julia’s nephews, sons of her widowed sister (Kay) Jessica. The Coburn place was their home until they grew up. They were like older brothers to Fred and Julia’s family. Many other people were at home with the Coburns. In fact quite a number lived and died there. My sister Jessica commented that never were we six, in our family, alone. Bessie Langille, daughter of George and Helen (Buchanan) Langille died there after many years of usefulness. She had a cleft palate. She was Julia’s niece and had been adopted by her grandparents, Duncan and Dinah (Thompson) Buchanan. Bessie’s mother, Helen (Buchanan)(Langille) Sargent also lived there most of the time from 1922 until her death in 1945. Fred’s sister Effie spent her last years in the old home where she had lived the first thirty-eight years of her life. Fred’s eldest brother, Wilfred also died there after a few years’ residence following his becoming a widower. The Coburn home was indeed home on a temporary basis to still many more people including some who were employees of the farm. And also to students and teachers because of its nearnesss to the Superior School and Julia’s enthusiasm for education.
Daughter Elizabeth lived in the same house with her two children Carol Ann Rodriquez (Carol Coburn) and Elizabeth Catherine (Betty) Rodriguez. The children grew up and went away, Carol to be a flight attendant on commercial airlines in New York and Betty to become a teacher and marry John Norman Grant (now a professor at the Nova Scotia Teachers College at Truro, N.S.). The Grants have two daughters and a son. The Coburn place was still Elizabeth’s home until her death in 1985.
Under the old municipal government system, Fred was a long time collector of taxes in the southern end of the York County parish of Bright. His district included the Keswick Ridge road from Crock’s Point to Russell Brook, the Kee Road, the Cross Roadto the Keswick Flats and the rest of Bright south of the Keswick Ridge road including Macnaquac and Scotch Settlement. He was also overseer of the Poor for all of Bright.
In 1923 Fred and Dr. Beverly W. Robertson started a fox ranch on the Coburn farm. The doctor was the capitalist; Fred was the operating partner. Julia shared in thework,baking bread for the foxes before the days of factory-prepared fox food. A lot of work was included. The enterprise paid off. Their first car, bought in 1924, was a 1923 seven-passenger Nash. Along with her other labours, for some of these years, Julia nursed her invalid son Donald.
Julia used to attend the annual school meetings even before women could vote. School meetings were, by law, held in the school house of each district on the second Monday in July. Julia, later, was the first woman trustee to the local school Bright School District #1 and the first and only woman trustee on the York County Regional School Board while that system was in effect.
On Saturdays until the mid-forties, Fred always attended the Fredericton Farmer’s Market. The market was held on the kerb around City Hall. Here Fred sold some of his produce. He sold butter the year round, eggs most of the time, apples in season, dressed chicken, veal and sometimes pork when available. Before 1924, transport was entirely by horses with either wagon or sled. After ‘24 the car replaced the wagon. It was a two-hour drive by horse to Fredericton where the vehicle was parked at the curb and the horses were driven to the York Hotel livery stable. The trip to town and return with groceries, etc. and candy for the kids was the highlight of the week. At least the children thought it was,especially in winter, when they would listen for the distinctive sound of their father’s horse bells.
Fred continued to farm. Apples became more important on that farm. In 1948 he bought for his son Donald the farm across the road so that operations could be expanded both in apples and dairying. He always supported community and co-operating farmers' efforts. He never drove children from his orchard. His love of hunting and fishing stayed with him. He died 16 March 1962 survived by his wife Julia, his four children and all eight grandchildren.
Julia's neighbours honoured her on her ninetieth birthday. They presented her with a cheque to start a U.N.B. scholarship fund in her name. The Julia Buchanan Coburn Scholarship is for beginners at U.N.B. from the area covered by the former Keswick Ridge High School. The fund has done very well over the years. John I. Roberston was a large contributor. Julia survived Fred by eleven years, dying the 26 August 1973.