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Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
December 14, 1893

GLIMPSES OF THE PAST

Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.

XCV – DIGDEGUASH.

[Peter H. McCallum]

The grant to ‘Archibald Williamson and others,’ lying on both sides of the Digdeguash, commences near the Stillwater bridge, and extends five miles up the river, to what is known as the Glenelg bridge, above Dyer’s station; and was settled mostly by disbanded soldiers of the 74th Highland regiment.  Each soldier was given one hundred acres of land, one year’s provision, a musket, and a certain amount of ammunition, as a reward for his services.  Most of them had been stationed at Castine during the war.

Among them, as far as my memory serves me, were John Cockburn, grandfather of Judge Cockburn, of St. Andrews; Walter McFarlane; Duncan McFarlane; Alexander Underwood; Robert Lindsay; Hugh McLean; Duncan and Dugald Carmichael; Hugh Cameron, father of the late John Cameron, of St. Andrews; Alexander Cameron, father of the late Thomas Cameron, of St. Stephen; William and James Stewart; John Johnston, and John McIlroy.  A number of the same regiment obtained grants, but did not settle on the land, and some part of the land was settled by Loyalists.

Captain Angus McDonald built the first frame-house that was built on the grant, ploughed the first ground, and settled on the farm now owned by the writer.

Captain McDonald owned a plantation in North Carolina.  I have understood that he received his commission on account of raising a company in North Carolina in defence of the crown.  He was a cousin of Flora McDonald, so dear to Scottish hearts, who also, with her husband, had emigrated to North Carolina, but who returned to Scotland at the close of the war.1

Capt. McDonald afterwards moved to St. Andrews, living on what is now known as the Tupper farm, owned by Mr. Thom. Blakney.  He had two sons-Archibald, who went to the East Indies and was never afterwards heard from; and Donald, known as Major McDonald; and three daughters-Mary, wife of Peter McCallum; Margaret, wife of John Campbell, of St. Andrews; and Ann, wife of James McMaster.  Major Donald McDonald was a land surveyor.  He owned the Tupper farm after his father’s death, and died there.  His grave is marked by a headstone in the old burial ground in St. Andrews.

My grandfather, Peter McCallum, settled on the tract at Schoodic Falls, 2 (now Milltown); but when war broke out, in 1812, was persuaded by his brother-in-law, Major McDonald, to move to the old place in Digdeguash.

My father (Archibald McCallum) has often told me of the trip,-how they came in a boat to St. Andrews, rested a few days at his uncle’s, then shipped again for Digdeguash, were moved on an ox-sled across the portage to the Stillwater, hauling their boat, then rowed for two miles farther.  For the first two barrels of flour, they paid twenty dollars per barrel.  They had to take their grain to the mouth of the river, and thence by boat to a grist mill built at that time near where the E. Broad & Sons axe factory now stands in St. Stephen.

The men would get the ground ready for crop in the spring, and leave the women and children to plant the potatoes; while they went round to St. Andrews by boat and up the St. Croix, to dip gaspereaux and salmon at the Salmon Falls.

My father has also shown me the graves of two negroes who came with Captain McDonald from Carolina, where they had been slaves on his plantation.  He has also often told me that when his father was at Castine he was sent with other soldiers to seize some cattle, and described how they slaughtered and quartered them with their hides on and carried them back to camp.

Some think it hard to live in this country now; but who would exchange the present for the past?  Instead of the weary row from Digdeguash to St. Stephen, we may take our horse and carriage and drive over a fairly good road; or, if we prefer, take the Shore Line railway train.

On October 24th, of last year, Catherine A. McCallum died, the last one of the children of the heroes of Castine, who boldly stood out for British rule, and afterwards more boldly faced the dark forests of New Brunswick to settle and build up a country for the same Britannia.


1She died in 1790, and was actually buried in a shroud made from the sheet in which Prince Charles had slept, and which she had preserved for this very purpose forty-five years, through her many adventures and migrations.  Her husband survived her a few years, and died on the half-pay list as a British officer.-Sabine.

2This tract, known as the Indian lands, was also laid out in farm lots for the soldiers of the 74th.