1919 Wedding of Florence Crouse and Kenneth Duncan

Star Herald, Oct. 16, 1919, Washburn, Maine

The marriage of Miss Florence Crouse, youngest daughter of Mrs. Adeline Crouse to Mr. Kenneth Duncan, youngest son of W. L. Duncan, took place at the Advent church, Crouseville, on Wednesday evening, October 8th, the ceremony being performed by the pastor, Rev. J. A. Woodworth, in the presence of a large number of guests. The bride, who entered the church on the arm of her brother, H. B. Crouse, was prettily gowned in white satin and georgette crepe, with veil and carried a beautiful bouquet of roses and carnations. Miss Verna Jardine gowned in pale yellow silk, did the honors as bridesmaid, while Francis Prescott of Everett, Mass., acted as groomsman. Loretta Brown and little Lois Crouse were flower bearers. Miss Verna Estey played the wedding march, in her usual pleasing manner. After the ceremony a reception was held at the bride’s mother’s and dainty refreshments were served. Mr. and Mrs. Duncan, who are very popular will be at home to their friends at their very cosy bungalow on Main street after November 1st, 1919.



Published in: on April 17, 2014 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

1931 Death of George Duncan

Star Herald, Aug. 13, 1931, Washburn:

Mr. and Mrs. Henry Russell and Mrs. Hannah Ridout were called to Waterbury, Conn., last week because of the death of George Duncan, son of Mrs. Rideout, who was shot by Joseph W. Wright. The body was brought to Washburn Friday and funeral services were held at the Baptist church Saturday afternoon at 3 o’clock, Rev., E. R. Farrar officiating. The choir sang two selections, Sometime We’ll Understand and Nearer My God to Thee. There was a large profusion of flowers from relatives and friends. The bearers were cousins of the deceased, Alex Duncan, Harry Duncan, W. L. Duncan, Jr., and Kenneth Duncan. Mr. and Mrs. G. J. Durepo had charge of funeral arrangements. Burial was at Riverside cemetery. The deceased was born in this town, the son of Mrs. Hannah Rideout and the late Alexander Duncan. He married Beulah Shaw also of this village. Besides his wife he leaves eight children, a mother, Mrs. Hannah Rideout, two brothers, Ernest Duncan of Washington, Stuart Duncan of Washburn, two sisters, Mrs. Henry Russell and Mrs. Erban Haines, a half brother, Donald Rideout, besides several aunts, uncles and cousins. Sympathy is extended the bereaved family in their great sorrow.



Published in: on April 16, 2014 at 5:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

1922 W. L. Duncan Letter to Local Newspaper

W. L Duncan penned this letter to the Presque Isle based newspaper in the spring of 1922 when he was 66 years old. William Linton Duncan (1856 Banchory, Scotland-1941 Washburn, ME) immigrated with his parents and siblings in May 1873 to the Scotch Colony of New Brunswick. In 1885 he married Catherine Cocker (1864 Banchory, Scotland-1939 Washburn, ME) who had immigrated with her family at the same time aboard the same ship Castalia. About 1891 William and Catherine and four children (Alex, Agnes, William, and Florence) moved to Washburn where four more children were born (Jennie, Kenneth, Isabelle, and Stuart.)

Star Herald, May 11, 1922



Washburn, ME., May 1922

Editor Star Herald,

Dear Sir:

I was somewhat surprised and also pleased on opening my Star Herald last week to see the insert at the top of the front page entitled “Clean-up Week,” by the Mayor of Somerville, Mass.

Now I make a yearly pilgrimage to “Burns Night” over to the old home at Kincardine, New Brunswick. As usual I found myself in the ranks of the pilgrims Jan. 25th last. When I got there the first news that greeted me was: “Another one heard from.” (a common expression there when a good word comes.) Jack Webster is Mayor of Somerville.” Of course I rejoiced with the few that are left there at Jack’s good fortune, and we innocently thought no one else was interested. And now comes the Star Herald, along with its other marked improvements, and scoops the doings and sayings of a humble Scot, who is only doing his duty in his adopted country.

Some twenty-eight years ago Jack Webster, then a boy of seventeen, footed it from Kincardine through Presque Isle on his way to the woods up-river. On his return from the woods he made a sojourn of a few weeks with us in Washburn. He did not like woods work. The next I heard of him he was fireman in the meat packing plant, where today he is chief manager. He had been a city alderman for a number of years before his election as mayor. He is an elder in the Presbyterian Church, so he is strictly in line with Chief Justice Cornish, as to what kind of man makes a true American citizen—not necessarily, of course, because he is a Presbyterian—but because of his many other civic virtues.

I take notice the canny Scot shines through when he says, “untidy yards depreciate property.” He also goes more than skin deep. He is thorough in his cleaning when he advises looking after the cellars. No half way work will do. He is surely looking after his pre-election promises, and working for a safe, healthy and beautiful city.

Although the Scotch Colony is fast going back to forest, and its once cultivated fields are now gradually becoming covered with a thrifty growth of birch and maple, and the people have dwindled to a mere handful, still I take great pride in the old place. The Scot is a wanderer, and during the last fifty years they have trekked over Canada and the United States from there, but I have yet to hear of one who is not paying his way. In fact, a good many of them, like Webster, are prominent citizens in the communities of their adoption.

It makes me sick when I go there now, their numbers are so few. The Germans got the most of the last bunch of young fellows, and now they “lie in Flanders Fields.” They did their duty, and have also been heard from.

Next year will be the fiftieth anniversary of our landing on this side the water, and we are already making plans for a “gathering of the clans.”

W. L. Duncan

 Note: “Jack Webster, ” the mayor, was born John M. Webster about 1878, son of John and Jessie (Milne) Webster who were also among the first group of Scotch Colonists aboard the Castalia in 1873.



Published in: on April 16, 2014 at 3:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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1912 Wedding of Herman Clark and Florence Duncan

Star Herald, September 5, 1912, Washburn, ME

Last Wednesday evening, August 28th, occurred the marriage of Mr. Herman A. Clark of Westfield and Miss Florence E. Duncan, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Duncan at the pleasant home of the bride’s parents in the presence of a large number of relatives and friends. At 7 o’clock during the evening was a Scotch song entitled “Lassie Wi’ the Yellow Coatie,” the bride’s grandfather, an old Scott over 82 years of age. He still showed a little of the vim of his younger days in singing the old song. Refreshments of ice cream, assorted cakes, fruit punch and nabiscos were served during the evening. The bride is a very popular young lady, being a devoted member of the Baptist Church and one of the leading members of the choir and has been very active in social circles. She is also a successful public school teacher. The groom is highly respected young clergyman with a great future before him and is now pastor of the Free Baptist Church at Westfield. They were the recipients of many gifts, conspicuous among which was an elegant piano, the gift of the bride’s parents. Mr. and Mrs. Clark left for their home in Westfield Friday, followed by the good wishes of their many friends. We extend our hearty congratulations for a long and happy married life.

Among the out of town people in attendance at the Clark-Duncan wedding were Mr. James Coker of Fairfield, Miss Effie Coker of Waterville, Mrs. Brown of Frankfort, Mrs. William Cumming and family of Easton, Mr. McBride of Houlton, Mrs. Anson Prescott, of Everett, Mass., Miss Evelyn Whidden of Presque Isle.

To the strains of a wedding march played by Miss Bessie Duncan, a cousin of the bride, the bridal party marched to the veranda, the groom followed by the best man. Mr. James Cumming preceded and the bride, supported by her father and her sister, Miss Agnes Duncan as bridesmaid following. The ceremony was performed by Rev. C. C. Koch of the Baptist church, the single ring service being used. The veranda was decorated for the occasion with a background of green dotted with golden glow and profusely lighted with Japanese lanterns. The bride was handsomely attired in a gown of white satin with bead trimmings and the groom wore the conventional black. After congratulations the guests entered the house, when a most social evening was indulged in. The first part of the evening chorus singing was the order, followed by piano solos and readings. One of the pleasant features of entertainment


? article ends

Here are the lyrics to the song “Lassie Wi’ the Yellow Coatie”:

Lassie wi the yellow coatie
Will ye wed a moorland jockie
Lassie wi the yellow coatie
Will ye busk and gang wi me

I ha meal and milk in plenty
I ha kale and cakes fee dainty
I’ve a but an ben fee gentry
But I want a wife like thee

Tho my mallen be but small
Little gold I hae to show
I’ve a heart without a flaw
And I’d gie it all tae thee

Haste ye lassie tae my bossom
While the roses are in blossem
Time is precious, dinna lose them
Flo’ers will fade and so will ye

Here is a link to a folk group singing the song:




Published in: on April 13, 2014 at 3:26 pm  Comments (1)  

1914 Funeral of William Duncan

imageStar Herald, April 30, 1914, Washburn, ME

Mr. William Duncan died April 27, at the home of his son, James, at the ripe old age of 85 years, 2 months and 24 days. He was born in Scotland and came to New Brunswick with a party of immigrants some 35 years ago, but moved to this town some 20 years ago where he has since resided. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Duncan. There are left to mourn their loss, four sons, David, William and James of this town and Stewart of Everett, Mass; and five daughters Mrs. Lizzie Prescott of Everett, Mass, Mrs. Barbara Cummings of Salem, N. H., Mrs. Annie Cumming of Easton and Mrs. Mary Chapman and Mrs. Nellie Wilson of this town. The funeral will be held tomorrow, Wednesday at the house, after which the remains will be interred in Riverside cemetery. We extend our sympathy to the bereaved.



Published in: on April 13, 2014 at 9:46 am  Leave a Comment  

1934 Duncan-Cumming Clan Picnic Reported in Star Herald

Star Herald, August 2, 1934

The annual picnic of the Duncan-Cumming clan was held at Aroostook Valley Park Friday, July 27th. The day was ideal and a large gathering of over one hundred and fifty members of the two families were in attendance. After a bountiful dinner the clan was called together in the large dining hall where a fine program was rendered. The President, Alex Duncan gave opening remarks. Music was furnished by the George Cumming orchestra of Everett, Mass., also by the Herman Clark family orchestra of Gardiner. Addresses were given by Rev. W. B. Chase of Houlton, Alex Cumming of Houlton, D. L. Duncan, postmaster at Washburn, Scottish songs by William Duncan, Sr., also by Tom Cumming of Plaster Rock, N.B. The Highland Fling was danced by Wm. Cumming of Easton and Jas. M. Cumming of Nashua, N.H. Reading by Mrs. Jas. Cumming of Nashua, also reading by Mrs. Hannah Rideout of Washburn, Song and hop dance by Emily Cumming of Houlton, piano solo, Maurice Russell, Singing of Scotch songs by the clan. The officers elected for ensuing year were President, Anson Cumming, Easton; Vice President, Harry E. Duncan, Washburn; Secretary, Barbara Lyon of Presque Isle. Out of town members were Jas. M. Cumming and family, Nashua, N.H.; George Cumming and family, Everett, Mass.; Mrs. Herman Clark and family, Gardiner, Maine; Alex Cumming and family, Houlton; George Cumming and family, Houlton; Rev. W. B. Chase, Houlton; Mr. and Mrs. Thos. Cumming, Plaster Rock, N.B.; Cumming families from Easton; Byron H. Smith and family of Bangor. Beanhole beans and Scottish Haggis were a part of the splendid dinner. During the day all kinds of Scottish games were played by the young people. All spent a very enjoyable day. The secretary reported one death in the clan during the year. Seven births were reported. The secretary read a report from the clan Cumming-Duncan reunion at Kittery Point. The picnic will be held at Aroostook Valley Park next year on July 26th.







Published in: on April 12, 2014 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fifty Years of Wedded Life: A Family Reunion Without a Vacant Chair

Star Herald, Oct. 5, 1905, Washburn, Maine

On Thursday evening Aug. 24th, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Duncan celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their wedding at their home, surrounded by an unbroken family of ten children, five boys and five girls, seven sons and daughters-in-law, and thirty grandchildren, making a total family gathering of forty-nine. This happy event was unique and with very few precedents on record; a family of ten children into which death has not entered for fifty years, and all present at their parents’ golden wedding, is very seldom heard of, with a happy crowd of thirty grandchildren of ages ranging from one to twenty-two years of age. Mr. Smart, photographer, of Presque Isle, was in attendance during the afternoon and took several pictures of the large gathering.

Among the invited guests were Rev. Mr. Pringle and James Hutcheon, New Kincardine, N. B., Benj. Kilburn, Kilburn Station, N. B., Mr. and Mrs. James McPhail, Perth, N.B., and Mr. and Mrs. I. Kearney, Limestone. After the invited guests had all arrived, the large company of nearly one hundred people sat down to a bountiful supper which was done full justice to. After the supper tables were cleared away, the assembled company gathered around Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Duncan. D. L. Duncan then, with a few well chosen remarks, introduced Rev. Mr. Pringle, who with remarks well chosen and suitable for the occasion, in behalf of the ten children, presented the aged couple with a purse of gold containing ten five dollar gold pieces beautifully representing the number of the unbroken family, also their fifty years of married like.

Ben Kilburn was then called upon and he in a fine address, presented, in behalf of the friends of the family, a purse of gold and other presents. Mr. Kilburn in his remarks touched feelingly on his long acquaintance with the family.

Short speeches were made by Jas. Hutcheon and Jas. McPhail. D. L. Duncan, in behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Duncan and the family, responded to the presentations.

Congratulations by the company were then in order for a short time. A program of music and singing was then rendered in a fine manner.

The young folks also engaged in a few good old dances. In the “wee sma hours” of the morning the large company dispersed to their homes after having enjoyed one of the best times of the season.

Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Duncan emigrated to New Brunswick from Stonehaven, Scotland, some thirty years ago, with a family of nine children. Nellie the youngest of the family was born some time after they came to New Brunswick, making a family of ten children. They lived some eighteen years in New Kincardine, N.B. when they sold their property there and moved to Washburn, Maine, and bought the A. W. Stratton farm, on which they have lived for over fourteen years. The farm has been divided and is occupied by William, the oldest son, and family, and James, who is unmarried and with whom the old folks reside.

Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Duncan are nearing the fourscore mark but are still hale and smart. Mr. Duncan looks after his cattle and garden and the old lady is busy with her household cares as she was in the “auld house on’ Carron Terrace, Stonehane.” Nellie, the youngest of the family, is unmarried and stays most of the time with the old folks.

David with his family resides in Washburn village, has been in the employment of T.H. Phair of Presque Isle, for twenty-two years and has charge of his starch and saw mill business in Washburn.

Alex is a busy and prosperous farmer in Washburn.

Annie is married to Wm. Cumming, a prosperous farmer of Easton.

Mary is married to Robt. Chapman, who is in the employment of T. H. Phair and resides in Washburn.

Lizzie is married to Anson Prescott, plumber, of Everett, Mass.

Stuart, who is unmarried, is in the plumbing business in the same city.

Barbara is married to Jas. Cumming, who has charge of a large mill business, in Nashua, N. H., they reside in Salem, N. H.

Mr. Duncan is by trade a wool spinner, having been in the employment of Thomson, Stonehaven, Scotland, some twenty-six years continuously, before emigrating to America.



Published in: on September 12, 2013 at 10:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Brae Brathens


Cover of Brae Brathens document, photocopy

Written in honor of the family of Catherine (Cocker) and William Linton Duncan by their son-in-law; Catherine Cocker Duncan (b.15 Feb 1864, Banchory, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, d. 10 June 1939, Washburn, ME, age 75), William Linton Duncan (b. 25 Nov 1856, Inchmarlo Farm, Banchory, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, d. 18 Jun 1941, Washburn, Maine, age: 84); Children: Alexander Noel (1885-1942), Agnes H. (1887-1945), William Linton (1889-~1958), Florence Euphemia (1890-1959), Jennie May (1892->1939), Kenneth James (1895-1968), Isabelle (1899-1904), Stuart;

Brae brathens

By Rev. H. A. Clark

This Memorial Edition issued at Gardiner, Maine August 28, 1939

[Missing photo with caption: Snuggled away behind cedar hedge, At the foot of sloping braes]


The following lines of Brae Brathens are respectfully dedicated to the memory of the Lady Catherine of its story

Rev. H. A. Clark, Author


Rev. Herman A. Clark, author


More and more at time goes on do I realize what Brae Brathens and the influence of its home circle has meant to my life and that of my home as well. In the following bit of verse I have tried sincerely in a small way to express something of the heartfelt appreciation I have for this home which gave me a loyal, devoted wife – the loving mother of our children. Furthermore on this occasion of our twenty-seventh wedding anniversary these verses go forth with an earnest prayer, and the hope of the writer is that they may also express something of the inspiration and joy, to say nothing of the family pride and feeling with which he has studied the arms and heraldry of this typical Scottish American home.

Gardiner, Maine
August 28, 1939


Facing the Aroostook, whose silent waters
Saw thee hewn out of the wild;
[Photo of the flat next to the Aroostook River on the Gardiner Creek Road in front of the Duncan homestead with the train bridge in the background]


By Rev. H. A. Clark

Snuggled away behind cedar hedge
At the foot of sloping braes,
Brae Brathens, a blessed fertile spot,
Yea, blest in so many ways.
Thy gable ends, like beckoning hands,
Seem to say to the stranger, “turn in’.
A welcome awaits you; this greeting you’ll hear
“Traveler, come awa ben”.
Lovers of God be the Laird and the Lady,
Owners of this Scottish estate;
Surrounded by tokens of God’s handiwork,
To know them makes one truly great.
The Creator helped plan this Eden;
Everywhere His flowers we greet.
The lawn trees contentedly clap their hands
And everything is tidy and neat.
A well-kept garden greets the stranger’s eye,
Akin to Adam’s Paradise plot;
A garden walk, leading on to a gate,
Green vines arching o’er the top.
Facing the Aroostook, whose silent waters
Saw thee hewn out of the wild;
Flanked from behind by the braes of Washburn,
Enfolding thee as would a mother her child.


An evening at home around the family hearth
When the winter nights are cold.
[Photo of William (reading newspaper) and Catherine (knitting) Duncan and grandchild]

The smoke, curling up from the chimney,
Like a bishop in benediction form
Reaches up to heaven, brings a blessing down
To the children playing on the lawn
Brae Brathens, thou art a beautiful spot,
To this, even strangers agree.
But to thee, who has known they clannish traits,
Descriptions rise to superlative degree.
Homey and inviting any midsummer day,
Just as cosy at the harvest times.
Ot to be outdone by the balmy springtime,
Winter’s snow makes the picture sublime.
One could tell of Brae Brathen’s exterior charm,
And truly describe its beauty and grace,
But ‘tis only when you’ve entered inside
That you come to know the place.
Though its furnishings be humble, yet attractive,
Much like the average modern home,
You’ll find an atmosphere many homes lack
As from kitchen to parlor you roam.
Family life here reigns undiminished
By the ruthless march of our time.
Its mills have not lessened respect for parents
As its grist it daily does grind.
An evening at home around the family hearth,
When the winter nights are cold,
Each member of the family enjoys himself,
None too young or too old.


The youngest son of the Laird of Braethens
Kenneth and Lady Florence his wife
[Photo of Florence and Kenneth Duncan standing in front yard of their home in winter]

The Laird of Brathens with paper or book,
Head pillowed in easy chair,
Leans forward and reads some stirring tale, -
Reads of Bonnie Scotland, far off and fair.
Lady Catherine of Brathens, knit needles clicking,
Fashioning some sock or a mit,
Watches the Bairns at their play
Quite unmindful of what she has knit.
The youngest son of the Laird of Brathens,
Kenneth and Lady Florence, his wife;
Winter or summer, to kinsmen or stranger,
Continue the manor’s hospitable life.
Perchance it be in the summer time,
When the potatoes are in the bloom
You are asked to join their holiday fun –
For there is always plenty of room.
Whether in the shade of towering ‘Hay Stack’,
Or the ‘Fishery’, oft times on the list,
Everyone makes the visitor feel ‘right at home’;
The Duncan’s picnics always do this.
It’s not all play and picnics at Brathens-
Much work there is to be done.
Each member of the family labors long and hard,
The better to enjoy their fun.
Sunday is observed with the deepest respect, -
Man and beast rest from toil.
God has His claim; they acknowledge His hand, -
These hardy tillers of the soil.


It’s not all play and picnics at Brathens
Much work there is to be done
[Photo of man and horse pulling hay rake]

Perhaps the arms of Brae Brathens best tell
By heraldry, some of its claims.
The traditions and ideals of its Laird and clan,
And those who would boast their names.
Heraldic language, the veiled to many,
Brings the past close up to the near.
Its shields and charges tell many secrets
To those who will stop to hear.
Brae Brathens’ shield, –let the reader note,
Has a background of pure white.
A clean past, pure motives, unstained by fraud;
For these, this home will fight.
A crown you will see and a septer.
Hero, royalty’s hand we can see.
The first Laird was born ‘neath the Union Jack,
E’re he came to the land of the free.
A pine tree standing clear and bold,
Next, its story would tell.
The first owners of Brathens as pioneers,
Many of these great trees did fell.
First in New Brunswick’s virgin forest,
Where trees grow tall and great;
Then around Brae Brathens, in the U.S.A. –
In Maine, the ‘Pine Tree State’.
Three hounds you’ll see, one to each point,
Watching, alert to all harm.
Three sons, three farms, these represent,
Guarding well each home and farm.

[Missing photo with captions: Everyone makes the visitor feel right at home, The Duncans’ picnics always do this.]

Three estates, on of them Brae Brathens,
Her arms, descriptive of all.
Each one sharing the protection of the other,
For together they stand or fall.
Brathens’ arms tell of service, -
This by the crosselett is shown.
Among the Lairds forbears were peers of the realm
Knightly honors they have known.
A champion of the weak and helpless,
Like knighthood taking its stand;
His reward, — only faithful to duty;
Brathens asks no other of man.
The crest, notice well the American eagle,
Old Abe is both loved and feared.
Holding up with his talons, covering all with wing
Brae Brathens to him is endeared.
Its first Laird, though born on the King’s land,
Was a thrifty and loyal Scot.
Coming to America, change his allegiance,
To Brae Brathens his new love brought.
Some of his children, American born’
All others adopted by her.
In the cause of peace and if must be, war,
Did willingly their allegiance transfer.
Ready to fight for the right, as he saw it,
Never fearing the size of the foe.
For, the first Laird of Brathens, a Highland Scot,
In whose veins Pictish blood did flow.


The Laird of Brathens with paper or book,
Head pillowed in easy chair,
Lady Catherine of Brathens, knit needles clicking,
Fashioning some sock or a mit,
[Photo of William (back to camera with newspaper), granddaughter laughing, Catherine knitting sock]

Now, just a last word about Brathens’ arms –
A strange inscription you read.
CHLANN DONNACHADAIH of ‘The Clan of Duncan’, –
The Gaelic for this Scottish breed.
Donnachadh Rehamr of Atholia’s Royalty,
A district in Scotland, well known.
First chief of the Duncan’s, even Macbeth’s,
Out of which Brathen Duncans have grown.
May the mantle of Brathens continue to fall
On an owner square and just.
May Donnachadiah blood ever guard her braes,
Ever honoring her arms –HE MUST.
‘Virtutes, Gloria, Merces’, is the motto
Of Duncan blood through the earth.
‘Virtue’s reward is glory’ it tells.
Brae Brathens accepts its true worth.
Not virtue alone, that people might see it,
Never more honesty for the sake of praise.
‘Duty done with, self-respect’ reward enough;
Thus be true Duncans to THE END OF DAYS.

Published in: on June 5, 2013 at 12:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Reminiscences of William Spence Cumming

Annie Rae (Duncan) and William Spence Cumming

Annie Rae (Duncan) and William Spence Cumming

William Spence Cumming (1857 Old Machar, Aberdeen, Scotland-1940 Easton, Maine) immigrated to the Scotch Colony via the Sidonian on May 14, 1874. At age sixteen, he was the oldest of the surviving nine children of Mary (Jack) and Thomas Cumming. Thomas’ first wife, Maria (Jack) died in 1855 in Scotland, soon after her the birth of the third of her children (Jean, John, Maggie).

Well, Lizzie, you asked me if I could write a few lines and tell you how and when we came out from Scotland to Canada so I have plenty of time and remembrances so I’ll try to give you a sketch and some incidents that happened as we passed along.

I suppose I might start from the time we left Buckie (a dairy farm near Aberdeen.) I left school on my 13th birthday, 19th May 1870 and we went to a farm about 15 miles from Aberdeen, Upper Mains of Echt. The farms were all named there and commonly the farmer was named after them such as my father was called Mains in an offhand friendly way. Father spent a lot of money on that farm, improving it in one way or another. He put a new thrashing mill in the barn and built a new dam and fixed over the cattle barn so that it held a lot more cattle. He wintered forty or over and lots went to the London market and he built a new turnip shed, he piped water from a spring in the dooryard and built a new porch to the front of the house.

When I think of it now the farm had been rundown quite a lot.

The man that had it before father drank too much and lost it but the biggest job, as far as it concerned me, was the digging and blasting of a thirty acre field of sunken rocks, no dynamite those days, we had to dig the earth from around them and bore holes in them, put powder and a fuse and primed it with brick then fired it off but my big job was to turn the drill to bore the holes. I used to get so tired. I did that job all my six weeks vacation from school and all so fruitless in the end. The only thing that comforted me was I liked the man that I worked with. A married man, James Burr was his name. The family came out to Ohio some years after we came.

Well, I might run along to the night father came home and says “well, who’s all coming to America with me?” I remember their silence and astonishment for a minute then he told us of the Scotch Colony that Captain Brown was getting up to take to New Brunswick. Mother didn’t want to go, at least at first, and I doubt afterward but what could we do, his word was law so preparations went on afterwards and our sale took place a few days before leaving. I got about $10.00 for my rabbits and took a pair with me. The lady rabbit had young ones on the sea but they all died.

There wasn’t much happened on the way over to Halifax, N.S. only some of us were awful sick. I was awful sick for about five days then I got so hungry I thought I could eat a donkey.

One morning I couldn’t wait for breakfast and got some ship bisquits and plastered some butter on them and sat on deck by the funnel where it was warm and ate them. I happened to see a white speck away off just as the sun was coming up. I asked the captain, who was walking the bridge above me, what it was. He answered me by bawling to the lookout on the forecastle why didn’t he report that ice. It was awful pretty as the sun came up a little higher. It took thirteen days to paddle along to Halifax. I felt glad when we got there. I didn’t like the old tub. Everytime she rode over a wave she would buckle. It was in my mind that she might break in two. She only went two trips after that and went to the bottom. Sadonian was her name.

We docked sometime the night of May 13. In the morning of the 14th after breakfast I went on deck and was astonished to see what looked like a snowball battle among the boys. What happened was the cook had taken too much toddy or something stronger (celebrating I guess) and didn’t fire the bread good. The result was his buns were raw in the middle. They made good balls so I went and got some of our own and joined in. After a while some of us didn’t look quite respectable so we cleaned off some and went ashore to see the sights. After a while one of the boys says “When does the ship leave?” Nobody knew so there was a scramble back. She didn’t go till after dinner but then there was a man missing. The ships whistle had blown quite a while and his wife crying and youngsters with her on the deck before Jimmie Patterson came running down the street (to the amusement of us boys who had the bun battle in the morning) with a loaf under his arm. We had a good laugh over it when we got acquainted in the Colony as he was one of our neighbors.

We left Halifax about two o’clock P.M. on the 14th for St. John. A nice day and the sea was calm. About sundown a little group of men were on deck, Willie Christie and John Connon and an oldish Captain, and I was among them. The old Captain was leaning over the rail and looking ahead. Suddenly he turned round and said “boys if we go much farther in this direction we will probably strike the rock”. The Great Eastern struck and went down with three or four hundred souls. Before anybody had time to speak a loud boom of a shot was fired from the shore to warn us and then there was something doing. The Captain had left the ship in charge of an officer and went to his cabin and the officer had went down below to spark his girl. It wasn’t long before the deck was crowded. Many asking what had happened. The air was thick with oaths from the Captain. I never heard the like of it. When we woke up next morning (the 15th) we were docked at St. John and boarded the train for Woodstock but before I go farther I would like to mention that Captain Brown held meetings all over Scotland before we left. John, My brother, and I drove 7 miles from Echt to Kintore to attend one of them. After Brown had done talking he invited any of us to ask questions. One man, a mason, Morrison, asked if it would pay him to take his tools with him or sell them and buy again when he got here. The answer was “why man, there are no rocks in America”. Why someone didn’t tell him he was a liar I don’t know. As we sped along in the train I noticed a dark shadow and looked out of the window and “there” was a great wall of rocks. Its funny it never struck me what Brown said until that minute. I jumped up and bawled out “there is no rocks in America”. I suppose some of the folks thought I was crazy.

We boarded the boat at Woodstock, N.B. and sailed next morning (the 16th) to Andover, N.B. or rather Perth, N.B. It was that side we landed sometime in the afternoon. There was quite a little crowd there to see us land. Among them was an old lady named Topman who came and sat beside me and fancied my rabbits until we left.

Three years later Charlie Bull and I were trashing at her place. In the evening the talk came round about the Colonists landing there. She says “I was there and saw them land and I sat beside a nice boy who had a pair of rabbits he brought from Scotland with him”. I say “thank you” I am that boy” “Mercy” she says and looked her astonishment.

A four horse team took us to what was to be our home for awhile. We landed quite awhile before dark. John, a neighbor, Willie Marr met us on the way in. I was very sorry for my mother. Five miles over rocks, roots and holes and the teamster bawling “hang on”. The road wasn’t made only brushed out. I walked. I noticed my father didn’t say much. That was the first glimpse of the woods and hard telling what he thought of it then.

If a shark had got me it would have had a valuable bite for the upper half of my undershirt was covered with sovereigns (a sovereign is a little over $5.00) sewed with a cloth over them solid to my undershirt and I think the only time I felt relieved to get rid of money was when we landed in the Colony and got off my shirt for it was heavy. Goodness knows how father brought the rest of the money for he told me he had between 25 and 30 thousand dollars. Maybe it was sent the way they send money today but why load me up. The ship (the Sadonian) only.

Well, Lizzie, I don’t know as I ought to write any more. I don’t like to write anything that’s not pleasant but it might interest you to write a few more of my remembrances even if some of us felt like being in pen . . . or worse. That was the way I felt for sometime. We worked at John’s chopping first. He had it from the Government instead of the contractors doing it. It was done better and easier to clear. It came a wet spell and we had to leave a lot of piles not burned and sow the grass around them. Sometime after that came a dry hot and at that time came our first hard blow. They thought it would be a good time to burn fathers chopping on the other side of the road. It was a most stupid thing to do. John and I set fire to it on the further side from the road. We found the wind (though light) was blowing right across the road and onto John’s house and clearing where we all lived. My fathers house was near the road and a few yards from the corner of his chopping so that brought it at the edge and at one corner of the line of fire. So quick did the fire spread that by the time John and I got to the opposite corner from fathers house the whole place was ablaze. We could hear them screaming at the house so John and I ran but I was sick that day and couldn’t get along very fast. It turned out to be a blessing for by the time I got up to fathers house everybody had fled to the woods (I found out later that Mother and George and Robert and Ellen and Lizzie were at the house and the other boys were at Mr. Farquars and safe).

Taking in the situation at a glance I tried to stop the fire, which was creeping in under the house, with fresh cow dung. I was working at this when to my astonishment I heard (as it turned out to be Ellen and Lizzie) screaming over at the house. How it happened was when John left me and ran up to the house he found it already on fire. He ran in and grabbed his father’s purse and gold watch and one of the boys and my mother took the other and ran to the woods and Ellen and Lizzie was expected to follow. They did follow until they came to the piles that couldn’t be burned before and which was all ablaze now. They got scared and ran back to the house and there I found them half choked and dancing up and down with the surface fire flying up their legs. I took a hand of each and ran down the path to the spring. We got our water by the side of the road. I told them to get into the mud and take a drink of water at the spring. I got down too for I was nearly choked then we made for dear life out of it. I intended to take them down to Marrs but we met a hot fire coming up both sides of the road and the flames meeting in the middle so we came back to the end of the Trout Brook road and told them to stay there and I would go and see if I could save the house yet. As soon as I got here I saw I couldn’t save it so I thought I might save something and lug it to the woods but I had another surprise. When I opened the door and jumped in there were two big old fashioned tubs full of blankets, etc. steeping in water. Stuff that we had been using on the ship. I grabbed some of the blankets and went splashing around the house. About three trips and I had it under control. By good luck it hadn’t reached the shingles. About that time John came running up and asked if I had seen the girls. When I told him they were at the end of the Trout Brook road he turned and ran and never said a word. He told me afterward he left Mother and Bob and George on top of a big flat rock and a spring of water at the foot of it. When he told her Ellen and Lizzie was safe she got up on the rock and danced and sang. You see she had thought they had been overcome and had been burned up among the burning piles. John tried to get back after they had reached the woods and found the girls had not got through. Father must have run to the woods a different way. Even the hens took to the woods but they all came back at night after the fire had dulled down. Near night some of us went to see the damage. The pig was lying roasted. John’s pig and a good one. My rabbits (that I took such good card of) sitting as natural as could be when I touched them crumbled like burned paper. John had nothing left but what was on his back and that wasn’t much. Everything gone that we had been using since we came. What we didn’t need in the meantime was in the other house and we were lucky to have what was left.

The piano was there too, thanks to Bill, but I got no thanks only from Mother and the two girls. That evening Ellen took hold of me and says “Oh, Bill, you save our lives. We would have been burned to death sure”, and sure they would. They could not have stood it much longer when I got them. Poor John, besides all his good clothes, etc. he didn’t take time to save his own watch and purse. My watch was there too and something over the $10.00 which I got from my rabbits in my purse. I forget how we put in that night, probably on the floor too tired to care.

Father sent Maggie to St. John for a whole year of provisions. It was in John’s cellar and went with everything else. Barrels of sugar and molasses, flour and cornstarch, etc. The sugar run into a solid lump and I remember Jim and Tom used to go down with an axe and chip off some to eat, maybe myself too. I don’t know where Maggie had been at the time of the fire. Probably away getting ready to be married. She was married a little after that to Captain Miller at Woodstock. Father, mother and I was at her wedding. We stayed over one day. I remember how ashamed I was of my clothes, just a pickup. On the way home on the boat we had another little adventure. There was an awful thick mist on the river in the morning an of course they had to run the boats nose square into the bank 5 or 6 feet. I ran to see what was up and came back to tell my mother. I can hear her yet say “Oh, Billie, what a country.” I guess she would have like to been back at Upper Mains just then. Poor mother.

Well, we didn’t have any more adventures for a while further than running from under a tree when we knocked it down. It’s a wonder there were no accidents among us while chopping further than cutting a foot. We never had seen a tree chopped down until we came here. Awful greenies we were. We had lots of company too. Both day and night mosquitos, black flied and sand flies were awful. Brother Alex was almost blind for a few days and I’ll carry the marks they left on my to my resting place. We seldom could have smoke to help keep them away for the danger of having another fire around our ears and then in the evening when we had a smudge the cure was often worse than the disease and they took a good fresh bite.

Talking about the flies minds me of something John told me about Troup and Captain Brown’s father (Troup was an agent along with Brown when they took out the Colony) (did the writing I suppose) Brown’s father had been making a visit to the Colony in the summer to look things over. The flies had been awful hard on him and he kept swearing at them until the air turned blue. Troup (a good man) says “why do you swear so Mr. Brown?” “Have the patience of Job, Mr. Brown”. Brown says “to hell with Job if Job was here he wouldn’t stay two minutes”.

Well, winter came on to give us our first taste of 40 below zero. Grandmother died, mother’s mother.

We kept chopping and chopping. No rain all winter then put in a new crop to be burned up. Our crops were burned up the first three years but we had a good time in the evenings. Quite a few of us got together in one house as they often had with dancing and singing. Some played checkers. There was music of some kind in every house. I wondered why our piano didn’t sound so good as it used to but thought it might be the small room and the low ceiling but one day I looked in and it was full of stockings. They had been packed in there before leaving but it was a godsend to us that winter and a pair of moccasins. It took quite a few to go over us.

It was the Spring of 1875 that mother took sick. The doctor was there with her for quite a few days. Stayed with her in the house and would take a walk up and down the road now and then but it was no use. She died July 111th. I see on the gravestone she died the 15th but what makes me think it was the 11th is that John was to take his girl (Lettie Annon) and some of us on a visit to Glassville on Monday the day after mother died and that was Orangeman Day the 12th. The day mother died was the most unhappy day I ever had. It came so sudden. You see it was childbirth and when the doctor tried to reliever her she shook hands with father and died.

It was either that year or the next 1876 that the saw mill was built. It got burned a few years after and built again. No wonder fathers money went like smoke. He had about 25 acres cleared by folks from Canaan and Johnsville and two barn frames hewed and put up that fall and John’s house frame hewed and put up that fall and he was married on Hogmanay night. New Years Eve 1875.

We kept chopping and junking and limbing all for nothing. John left after ten years of it and went to West Sullivan, Maine. He died there August 24, 1891. He asked me to buy him out for $200.00. When I told him I had nothing that everything I made went for the good of the house he said “I’ll give it to you for a good horse”. Just imagine, a good new house and barn and 40 acres or more land cleared for just a fraction of what it cost.

I hired $200.00 from Ben Kilburn and put in a crop in the Spring. I got the boys to take off the crop on halves and left with a shirt and a pair of socks under my arm and 8 cents. I didn’t have the slightest idea where I was going. I met a fellow that I knew slightly and told him I was looking for work and asked what he was doing. “Peeling bark” he said and it’s a hell of a job and nearly eaten up with flies”. Well, I thought I wouldn’t like that and kept on. I got my fig of tobacco and was walking down the river road and I saw a Catsmaran out on the river abandoned by somebody. An idea struck me. If I could get out to that thing I could sail down to Woodstock. I was acquainted along there and got a boy to take me out to it in a canoe than I was “Lord Gaul” but I was to be lucky that afternoon. I didn’t have any dinner but that didn’t matter. I was paddling away trying to get into the swiftest water when I looked up the river and saw what turned out to be a heavy birch raft and two men on it. I steered in front of them and asked if they would take me on. “Yes they said “if I would sing a song” so I sang Water Cresses. They clapped their hands and says “good”. “Now have you had any dinner?” they asked. I said “no”. They told me to “fall in” and I had a good dinner.

We had a swift sail to winin 3 or 4 miles of Woodstock where they snubbed for the night. I thanked them and made for the road. Just as I got to the road a fellow came along in a light wagon. I jumped in and as we talked I found he was one of the family that lived beside my sister Maggie in Grafton where I thought of going when I left the raft. I knew the young fellow’s father, McDonald of Scotch descent. Wasn’t I lucky that day? Then Maggie wanted me to stay and hoe her potatoes. I was two days at that then I met a brother of Will Millers, Maggie’s husband. I told him I was looking for work. He asked me if I could mix mortar. “Yes” I said. “Well they want a mortar man bad at the building of the new Post Office”. He said he was hauling rocks for the foundation and the boss asked if he knew of a man that could mix mortar so he drove me over and I hired. It happened that he, Miller, had a nephew in Woodstock that kept boarders and we went there and got board there. I thanked Miller and went to bed. I worked there till August.

It came a lot of broken weather then the masons couldn’t work when it was wet and I had a lot of broken time. That did not suit me so I went through to Hallowell, Maine and got work at Milliken sawmill and worked into November when the mill shut down for the winter then worked for him in the woods beyond Moosehead Lake for the winter.

It was in the winter that I had a letter from Brother Jim offering to go in company with me and pay the $150.00 to finish paying the $200.00 on the farm (I had paid $50.00 in the fall before going to the woods) and then I could go home in the Spring and put in a crop and get married in the fall so I came down out of the woods in April, helped a few days at mason work before the mill started and went through to Boston, Mass. To see my girl (Annie Rae Duncan) then struck home to put in the crop.

It was about this time that Jim and Barbara came to stay. They stayed nearly a year and then went to Washburn, Maine where Jim worked in the mill. We stayed and worked hard for ten years then came over to Pine Tree, Maine in 1894. I am thankful we did. We would have had a hard time in the Colony.

By William Spence Cumming

Easton, Maine

Published in: on May 15, 2013 at 10:15 am  Comments (1)  

Brothers and In-laws

Left to right: David Duncan, William Duncan, William Cumming, Thomas Cumming, Alec Cumming; Duncan-Cumming Clan Reunion at Aroostook Valley Park;

This has to be a classic! David and William Duncan, two of the Duncan “boys,” and three of the Cumming brothers are caught resting at the reunion of extended family. All five men immigrated from Scotland in 1873-74 with their parents and grew up in Stonehaven and Upper Kintore in the Scotch Colony in Victoria County in New Brunswick, Canada. In the Duncan family, David married Catherine Chapman in 1886 in Kincardine, NB, William married Catherine Coker in 1885 in Kincardine, and Annie Rae married William Cumming in 1884 in Stonehaven, all girls from the Colony. Alec Cumming found his wife Mary Maud Jordan in 1891 Quebec. Thomas was married to Nettie Sisson, Jennie Lloyd, and lastly Jane Elizabeth Hollis in 1924.

The picture was taken prior to 1938. The reunion, or the “picnic” as it is called (perhaps as a reference to the annual summer Sunday School picnic gatherings in the old days that were favorite memories that the Colonists held dear?) is still on-going. Years later, it is often a question as to why “Duncan” and “Cumming” names are used for the reunion. Perhaps this photograph can help explain.

Published in: on August 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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