I had called Dennis about a project that that he may have an interest in. He came by to talk about it and saw the article I had posted on my wall. A Family Reunion story.
He knew that I did genealogical research so he asked if I knew how to get either a copy of a birth
Certificate or baptismal from NewFoundland. I told him I didn’t but would look into it. Then he made a comment that he had a more interesting issue that he had not been able to figure out.
He had a relative ( Abigail Squires – a Great-Great-Great Grandmother) that had been born in Connecticut and ended up in some place called Mabou and there was a story about a missing headstone. I did not tell him that I knew where it was. The strange part was that I would be near there the following weekend. After Dennis left I made a call to a friend, Jane right here in Marshfield. Jane has cousins in Mabou and I used to stop and see Mary her aunt whenever I was traveling to Cape Breton. We played telephone tag for a day, then we connected. I told Jane what I was looking into and mentioned St Mary’s cemetery. She told me to call her cousin Jane in Mabou as her husband Dan Archie was the care taker of that cemetery.
I called and spoke with Dan Archie about my arriving on Cape Breton that Sunday night and asked if we could meet Monday morning. We arranged to meet at the new St. Mary’s cemetery at 11:00 AM. I told him what little I knew of the story of Abigail and he told me he would tell me more about her when we met. After work I decided to call my cousin ( the reason I was going to Cape Breton ) to see how she was doing as she had lost her husband after I left there last August. I was concerned about her at her age. Normally I would surprise her But I wanted to give her a little heads up that I had planned on coming to Margaree..
She answered the phone and recognized my voice and said Al you remembered my birthday, thank you I forgot it was her birthday ( age 89 ). I said well, I was calling about taking you out to dinner Monday night, she laughed and asked where I was. I told her home but would be there Monday to take her out to dinner. Being as there are not many places in Margaree to go out to, I asked where she would like to go. She suggested the Salmon Lodge up the Big Intervale. I arrived late Sunday night in Margaree and that is one dark road from Sydney to Margaree. I had reservations at the lodge which is 9 miles up the dirt road and left at the iron bridge at the old school house.
At 9:15 AM Monday morning I drove to Mabou, about an hour away from the cabin. I arrived at St Mary’s cemetery at 10:45 AM and shortly after that Dan Archie arrived. Being as he knew of my interest about the missing headstone he had a copy of it for me. The local historical society had a copy and he had arranged to get me a copy. He then told me the story of the missing stone. He had heard the story from his father who had heard the story from his father. Back in about 1839/40 Abigail Squires Whitehead had passed away. Somewhere in the 1920’s the headstone had disappeared. Apparently a few of the local boy’s had removed the stone from the old St Mary’s cemetery and one story is that it was dropped in the river, another was it was buried. Most believe it was buried.
And just down the road from the new St,. Marys was the new St. Mary’s cemetery. A few months ago Dan had repaired an old stone of George Whitehead at the new cemetery and there were no other Whitehead stones there. A few day’s later while working at the cemetery he met a woman that was visiting another stone there and in talking to her, he found that she was also related to the Whitehead family. Then along comes my call about Abigail, the Whitehead, Hawley, O’Brien families. Dan gave me a walking tour of the new cemetery then we went to the old cemetery across the river.
We had to walk a good quarter mile in on an old road to an open area facing the river. This cemetery was called the pioneers cemetery and was used up until about 1840. The original St Mary’s church had been on this site back then and had burned. Years ago Dan Archie had decided that the old cemetery needed looking after as well as the new cemetery so he takes care of both.
While walking around the old cemetery I saw many headstone’s that were still standing and a lot of the people had come from Connecticut around the same time as Abigail.
Dan told me his wife ( Jane ) had asked that he bring me back to their home for lunch after we finish our walk. Dan had a book called Pioneers of Mabou and he had marked a few pages that relate to Abigail which I used my iphone to copy. He said the book was long out of print. Before I left Cape Breton I found a reprint of that original Pioneers of Mabou book.
He also recommended that I track down James St Clair a local historian that knows of all the stories of the area. He could tell me more of the story of Abigail. I have since spoken to Mr. St Clair and he has sent me his history of Abigail. I have given what I have to Dennis but there are still more questions than answers and I have now joined Mr. St Claire and Dennis in his on going research of Abigail’s story.