Deep in the heart of New Brunswick sits a pretty little Queen’s County location know as Jemseg. It has a rich history thanks to it’s location on a prosperous trading river system.
In 1659 the first trading post was built in Jemseg by Col. Thomas Temple, Governor of Acadia and Nova Scotia. This was a fortified post that allowed trade with the local Maliseet Indians and easy access to the thriving town that is today’s Saint John (by way of an efficient river system). In 1667 Acadia was returned to France and Temple left to settle in Boston. By this point the post was used for both trading and military control. In 1674 the post was attacked and taken over by the Dutch, but their occupation only lasted several months before the Acadians reclaimed it.
In 1713 Acadia was turned over to the English for the last time and the British controlled the area once again. Many local Acadians stayed on their land until 1758 when General Moncton burned the remaining Acadian farms of the Jemseg area and ensured that they left.
After 1758 and before 1783 a small handful of English families populated the Jemseg area. A few took over “abandoned” farms and shelters left by banished Acadians. The area was a rich agricultural source with an excellent river system to support the transport of their goods to neighbouring villages. It was an area just waiting for a population surge and the American Revolution provided that. In 1783 the Loyalists were expelled from America.
When those Loyalist came looking for a new home, the Jemseg area was an obvious choice. The Dykeman’s knew good farming land and understood the importance of a deep and complex river system.
When Loyalist Gilbert Hatfield Dykeman came to the Maritimes with his parents he was 14 years old. Together they settled in Gagetown. Eleven years later, on July 10th, 1794, Gilbert married Dorcas Manzer who also came to Queen’s County as a Loyalist with her parents at the tender age of 6.
Together they choose to begin their married life in the rich agricultural land that Lower Jemseg had to offer. Extensive flat farming land backed onto the fertile riverbed and allowed for successful crops with accessible irrigation. There was a local school, started in early 1800′s for the 6 future children they would have and the Anglican Church stood proudly at Gagetown just across the river (although the distance was significant, the river system allowed sufficient access).
By the 1820′s the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel sent Rev. Abraham Wood to the Jemseg area as a travelling pastor to the local pockets of population. Where the St.James Anglican Church stands now an earlier Church was likely built around 1850 (the cemetery there has stones as early as 1850).
In fact one of the oldest burials at the site is that of Gilbert Hatfield Dykeman who died on October 1st, 1851. He is my great5 grandfather, a descendant of Dutch immigrants to New Amsterdam (in what is now Harlem NY). Gilbert shares his gravestone with his wife Dorcas who died almost 11 years later on August 1st, 1862.
The pretty stone Church that stands in Lower Jemseg today was built in 1887. Many Dykemans would have been involved with the building of the new Church. Today the Dykeman name is still predominant in Lower Jemseg. Two hundred and twenty-six years after they arrived as Loyalists they still live there, farm there, and worship there too. They came Loyal to the Crown and now they’re Loyal to their Home.
For pictures of St.James Church and individual stone shots check out the following rootsweb page: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~damery/QU/Camb-08/Camb-08.htm