40 Years Ago…

… my Mom & Dad were married in the Central Avenue United Church in Fort Erie ON. It was a Church nestled at the end of Dufferin St. where my Mom grew up:

134 years ago today my great Grandparents, James Henry Beyea & Phoebe Sophia Smith were married (see Nov.’08). Phoebe’s father was the deacon of the Smithtown Baptist Church in New Brunswick (which is the Church we will discuss in December). Phoebe’s grandfather, Barnet Manzer Dykeman, was baptised in the St.John Anglican Church, Gagetown NB, by Reverend Richard Clarke.

Thanks to Roger G. Melin’s online addition of the transcribed archives of the Gagetown Anglican Church there is a lot of information available to us!

For our family, I know that Barnet Manzer Dykeman was baptised as an infant on June 14, 1807. Barnet’s maternal grandmother, Mary Manzer, was baptised, as an adult, by Rev. Richard Clarke on 7 August 1787.  Barnet’s father, uncle, and grandmother Dykeman were also all baptised as adults on the same day: 26 August 1792, again by the Reverend Richard Clarke.

Barnet’s parents, Gilbert & Dorcas, were married by the Rev. Richard Clark on 10 July 1794. And this same Pastor also buried Barnet’s grandmother Eunice on 17th of November 1808 in the Gagetown NB, St. John Anglican Cemetery.

So who is this Rev. Richard Clarke? He was the first Rector  of the St.John Anglican Church in Gagetown. In 1787 Richard came to see his new post. He returned to the States to gather his family (wife Rebecca and 11 children) and came back to Gagetown to settle in for a 25 year service to the community. It seems that Richard was a prolific baptiser! He had a strong black population in his Church and was very inclusive in baptising them as well. In his first year he noted that the people were, “much scattered about and the Lord’s Day greatly neglected”. He indicated that parents seemed to be hesitant in letting him baptise their children. However, during his first year in 1788 he baptised 68 white infants, 2 black infants and 2 adults. He buried 5 people and married 3 couples.  He was busy tending all of his flock and that flock began to thrive! In 1790 an official Church and school was built. Here is what the Church looks like today:

St. John Anglican Church, Gagetown NB

Rev. Richard remained actively involved in his Church for the next 25 years until tragedy struck in the early morning of March 13th, 1811. A fire blazed the home of Richards daughter. Nine family members escaped the flames by jumping out their windows, but the fire took the lives of Richard’s daughter,(Sarah Coldwell Clarke), his grandson, (Marshall Clarke Andrews), and his neice, (Mary Hubbard).

The loss was so overwhelming for Rev. Richard and his wife Rebecca that they ended their ministry in Gagetown and moved to St.Stephen NB, some distance away. Their son Samuel Clarke continued in Gagetown as the new Pastor of the Church.  Richard & Rebecca’s cemetery inscription, in the Old Burial Ground, St. Stephen, reads:

Sacred to the memory of the Rev’d Richard Clarke, the first rector of this parish & the oldest Missionary in the Colonies having accomplished in the 58th year of his ministry being much respected & living in the utmost harmony with the people of the several parishes to which he was appointed. Departed this life 6th October 1824, aged 87 years. Also Rebecca his wife who died 7th May 1816 aged 60 years. Those worthy examples of piety, extensive charity and Christian fortitude after long and afflicting sickness resigned their spirits unto the hands who gave it looking forward to their crown of immortality which the Lord the righteous judge shall at the last day bestow on all his faithful servants. New Milford, Connecticut, 19 years. Gagetown, N.B. 25 years. St. Stephens, 13 years.

Funny how I know all this but I do not know the name of the officiant who married my parents. Mom & Dad, Happy Anniversary, I have a question for you….

Published in: on 29 November 2009 at 11:58 am  Leave a Comment