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NOTE: This page has been adapted for the Website from Donald Coburn’s My Line. Use of the first person is in relation to Donald and not the webmaster/author of the site. Subscript index numbers (ex. Moses4) refer to generations after the family’s arrival in North America. Edward Colborne being generation 1.

FAMILY HISTORY OF MARGARET BARBARA ARMSTRONG AND JOHN THOMPSON

Grandfather, John Thompson, Born 1811.
Grandmother, Margaret Barbara Armstrong, Born 1817.

She was the youngest of a family of four. Their mother, Barbara Young died of hasty consumption brought on by exposure when Barbara was two months old. Barbara was adopted by her uncle, James Armstrong, who was a partner in her fatherís business - Rope manufacturing in Woller on the River Tweed, about opposite Dumfries, Scotland. Her brothers, James and William (Uncle Willie Armstrong, who lived at Codyís, Washademoak Lake, New Brunswick), and sister Jane were adopted by her motherís brother, James Young who was a baker and owner of a bakery. Her brother James inherited his uncleís property and business as the uncle was childless.

William came to Canada. He owned the farm at Armstrong Point, where the Central Railroad crosses the Washademoak Lake.

Jane married Alex Porter, a soldier, who was at one time stationed in Fredericton, N.B. with his regiment. He was supposed to have been killed in India. Aunt Jane was twice in New Brunswick. After her death her son Sandy was sent to Grandmother and Uncle William. He went West at the time of the fi rst Red River Rebellion and was heard from only twice after that. The Aunt, who adopted Grandmother has fourteen children and a niece and two of her own nieces and nephews. Grandmother always maintained that the Aunt was a great woman and she really thought that the Aunt used her perhaps a little better than she did her own children. This aunt kept all of Grandmotherís motherís belongings for her but they were burned when Grandmotherís house was burned.

Grandmother was a companion of Lady St. Paul at Ewart Park and was there seven years. While there she met John Thompson, who was ploughmanís stewart and he had charge of ten span of horses and placed and marked out the plowing that was to be done. At that time a worker on a farm had to supply a woman to work in the fi elds and if he had no wife or daughter had to hire some woman. When a bill to stop this requirement failed to pass in Parliament he and his two brothers came to Canada - to New Brunswick.

They came in the year 1838 and landed in St. John New Brunswick and walked from there up the Kennebecasis River to the old stone house (the old Pearson home) just below Apohaqui, from there up the Millstream and along to the Washademoak Lake. Here they bought a place with a log house on it from the father of Hon. Thomas Hetherington (father of Hon. J.E. Hetherington, Speaker of the New Brunswick Legislature).

Two years later their father, Thomas Thompson, came over bringing with him a housekeeper and after about six weeks she informed him that if he did not marry her she would not stay and upon consulting his sons, they decided they would get along without her. (She was the grandmother of Mary Curran and Dr. Levi Curran of St. John). The third year Grandfather Thompson sent for Grandmother. She came over on a merchant ship accompanied by her sister Jane. They were three months on the ocean and six weeks in St. John. When the ship went the Captain offered Grandmother a free passage back but she declined, but she cut the wedding cake that Lady St. Paul had given her and treated the sailors.

She wrote to Grandfather but in those days there were no mails and letters were passed along from one person to another until their destination was reached. Finally Grandfather received it -at church (in English Settlement) and on Monday morning he started and walked to St. John. Grandmother did not recognize him when she saw him. He was thin, stooped and also had lost a front tooth. There being no Presbyterian Minister available they were married by Rev. Mr. Allen, who was an Episcopalian. He later baptised our mother, who was the eldest in our family.

They started on their honeymoon by a wood boat up the Washademoak and stopped at the Narrows, where they spent two days with a friend of Grandfatherís by the name of Murray. They then took the boat again and landed opposite Harrison Doneyís (Thornetown) and this was very near home. It was August and the smooth buckwheat was in bloom and Grandmother was so delighted with the sight of a whole fi eld of the beautiful bloom that Grandfather stopped the oxen and picked a bunch of the blossoms.

On New Yearís Day, three and one-half years after Grandmother came, their first home, a log house, was burned. Grandfather was at the barn and saw the smoke but they saved only a few things. The loft was full of all sorts of things as they were preparing to build a new house. They lost $160.00 in cash (a small fortune then) also they lost all Grandmotherís treasures that belonged to her mother. However, they saved two beds, the eight day clock (a Grandfatherís clock) Grandmotherís china, Great Grandfatherís dresser with his bit platters and blue dishes (Kay and Barbara each have a piece of this china). They had a large washing on the bushes and the very next day a colt tore that all up.

With the help of the neighbors they built a log house in which they lived until two months before Grandfather died, at which time they moved into a good frame house with four bedrooms, pantry, living room and large kitchen, also wood house. They also built a large barn from lumber from their own farm - some of them pine board two and one-half feet wide, sawed by hand with a ship saw.

Lady St. Paul wrote to Grandmother as long as she lived. She sent Grandmother a trunk and chest full of clothing made and unmade, bedding, etc. The chest lay in the Customs House at St. John for fi ve years. In the meantime Lady St. Paul died and it was by the merest chance that it was discovered. There was an auction sale of unclaimed goods and a Mr. Stewart, a clerk in the old London House Dry Goods Store saw the chest with Grandmotherís name on it and knowing her, persuaded those in authority to keep it until she should be notifi ed and fi nally she got it. That was after Grandfather had died.

Our sister Helen says - ďI can distinctly remember Grandmother getting letters and photos from Scotland while the cousins lived. She had a photo of two young men cousins, Young and Hope, and also one of Uncle James Armstrong (Grandmotherís brother) and his wife. I have a large platter, which is one of the ones out of Great Grandfatherís dresser of dishes. I know it is the last one in existence now. Grandmother had a beautiful set of China.Ē

Great Grandfather Thompson brought red and black currant bushes and gooseberry bushes also a hawthorn and lilac bush and some old fashioned flowers and roots from England. Probably some of them are still growing on the old place.

Grandmother was a pretty, slight, prim lady with light brown hair and always looked very neat. Among some of the treasures of her own that she lost in the fire was her motherís wedding dress and veil. The dress was hand needlework to the knees with a very wide skirt. She also lost her own wedding dress which was plain blue delaine yoke, short waist of cream colored delaine. She also lost all her good dresses, of which she often spoke. Our mother was playing taking off and putting on her shoes and our Aunt Annie was asleep on the bed at the time of the fi re and there was no one around but Grandmother and Great-grandfather.

Grandmother met an old lady, Miss Heslip, a sister of the Grandmother of John and Charlie Strong. Sister Helen says she remembers seeing this Miss Heslip when she (Helen) was a very small girl. Miss Heslip told Grandmother things she had not known before about her parents. Her father was married when she (Grandmother) was two years old, to a woman with whom he had been in love with for years but they had a disagreement and he had married Grandmotherís mother. Still interested in each other he married his first love after his wifeís death, but two days after, while returning home in the dark he missed his footing on a plank across a stone dyke he was crossing, and fell and broke his neck. This second wife came from the same town as Miss Heslip. Miss Heslip died quite suddenly and Grandmother did not get as much information as she wished. Her stepmother wanted to take Grandmother but her Aunt would not give her up.

Grandmother was but four weeks old when her Mother started to carry her to the Ropery but she could not reach there without sitting down beside the road to rest and she only lived about fi ve weeks after that and they called it hasty consumption. Grandmother never seemed to mention her Motherís brothers or sisters except James Young, the one who adopted her brother James Armstrong, who after he was educated was apprenticed as a baker. It was said he had sometimes fourteen boys apprenticed at once.

Grandmother used to walk about thirty miles over the hills to visit them. Grandmother was baptised Margaret but at her motherís death the name of Barbara was added and so registered.

Helen says - ďI met Mrs. Cummings in Alberta, who came from the city where the Youngs lived and she said they were wealthy trades people and even now, at least one hundred years later, there is still a bakery belonging to the Youngs.Ē Grandmother had five children, as follows: Dinah, who married Duncan Buchanan, and had nine children; Annie, who married Donald McPhee and had twelve children; James, who married Elizabeth Patton and had nine children; Jane, who married Hugh McAfee and had four children. Also another son Thomas.

Great-grandfather Thompson married Ann Straker. She was from the Highlands of Scotland. The Thompsons took their height from her as she stood six feet in her stocking feet. She seems to have been a woman of very superior qualities and education, very stern. Uncle Matthew, one of her sons, said she never issued a command but once. Before her death she told them where to find the money she had saved from what had been given her by her son and her husband.

Dinah Thompson was married to Duncan Buchanan on December 12th, 1859 by Rev. Andrew Donald. Her family were as follows: Helen, Donald, Barbara, William, Duncan, Hector, Duncan Johnson, Jessica, Julia and Roy. They lived between Apohaqui and Norton but at times spent some of the time in Nova Scotia in Cumberland County and Lunenburg County, also spent about a year in Newfoundland. After the children were all married they were in West Virginia, U.S.A. about six months, after which they lived at Bridgewater for some years with Barbara and her husband, Edwin Bliss Morton.