Friday, September 2, 2011

New Carlisle's Presbyterian Burial Ground

Sarah CALDWELL nee BEEBE (1775-1823)

Family historians travelling to New Carlisle, Quebec on the Baie des Chaleur will most likely visit the historical St Andrew's Anglican Cemetery. Surrounding the wooden church are approximately 300 gravestones. The oldest stone is that of Issac MANN who died in 1803 at the age of 73.

New Carlisle was settled in 1784 by discharged soldiers and United Empire Loyalists. Many of the gravestones commemorate names of descendants of these original settlers: ASTLES, BEEBE, BILLINGSLEY, CALDWELL, CHATTERTON, FLOWERS, MANN and THOMPSON.

Another historical New Carlisle cemetery is the much smaller Old Presbyterian Burial Ground located behind Zion United Church. Zion United Church is a relatively modern congregation, formed in 1925 when the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational Churches merged to become the United Church of Canada. The building itself, however, dates from about 1820. Apparently, a significant number of Presbyterian families in New Carlisle were not pleased with the merger and decided to continue a Presbyterian congregation, building Knox Presbyterian Church next door to the old church. A cemetery is located behind the new building, however, the stones all date from the 20th century.

In the summer of 2010, I photographed all 40 gravestones in the Old Presbyterian Burial Ground. This past week I finally began to transcribe the inscriptions for the CanadaGenWeb Cemetery Project. Unfortunately, the inscriptions in some of the photos are quite difficult to read, and as New Carlisle is 1500 kilometres away, a quick trip for retakes is out of the question. Fortunately, the baptism, marriage and burial records of the Presbyterian church in New Carlisle are part of the Drouin Collection which is available online through A transcription can also be found on the Loyalists of the Gaspe website.

As I cross-checked my transcripton against the burial records I realized that the information on the gravestone does not necessarily match what is in the burial record. I also discovered that while there are large gaps in the Presbyterian records, burials at the Presbyterian burial ground during the time of these gaps were frequently recorded in the St Andrew's register.

The oldest gravestone in the Presbyterian burial ground is that of Sarah CALDWELL who died in 1823 at the age of 47. Sarah was the daughter of Joshua BEEBE (1738-1788) and Mary SECORD (1734- ?), and was born in the vicinity of Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania in 1775.

Joshua BEEBE was a Loyalist and in 1777 he and his oldest son, Adin BEEBE (1761-1843), enlisted in Butler's Rangers. In the summer of 1778, just prior to the Battle of Wyoming, Mary SECORD and her children were evacuated first to Tioga Point near Athens, Pennsylvania, where Sarah's brother Joshua BEEBE (1778-1844) was born in August, and then to Fort Niagara. Sarah's father died of smallpox in October 1778, after being captured by the Americans. Mary Secord and her children were eventually sent to the refugee camp at Machiche near Trois-Rivières, Quebec, where Sarah was baptised on 15 Aug 1781. Mary Secord married Christopher PEARSON (1737-1832) later that year at Machiche and they were among the first settlers at New Carlisle in 1784.

Sarah married Andrew Todd CALDWELL, son of Robert CALDWELL (1735-1825) and Sarah TODD. Like Sarah, Andrew had been born in Pennsylvania, and had spent time at the Machiche refugee camp before coming to New Carlisle. Sarah and Andrew married about 1798. In a 1809 letter to Sarah's brother, Adin, who had been granted land in Louth Township on the Niagara Peninsula. Andrew stated his time was "Spent at Saling and fishing" but that he was interested in taking up farming at Niagara. It would appear that nothing became of this as Sarah died at New Carlisle in 1823.