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Sara Mosher

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Sara V. Mosher
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Biography

Burton Dyas Mosher and Luella Lovitt McQuaid — I loved them. I never met, nor knew anything about my paternal grandparents, but I loved their names. As a child, I repeated their names over and over. The names were strong. I felt the weight of history behind them.

Long after my father passed away, I embarked on a genealogical dig. Over a period of 20 years, I found proof of my ancestors, the all-important sources — vital statistics, census records, cemeteries, books, family histories, and DNA. To my surprise, I learned that my grandparents are descendants of Magna Carta Surety Barons; Scottish Royalty; 13 passengers on the Mayflower; numerous emigrants to the New World who left England during the Puritan Great Migration of 1621-1640, and beyond; and ten Loyalists. I learned that my grandparents are cousins of prime ministers of Canada and 33 presidents of the United States. The idea that we are all related, part of one family tree, becomes clearer with each discovery.

Best of all on this genealogical journey, I find stories, exciting historical notations, of what my ancestors were really like.

In the 1760s, Phineas Lovett, in whose honour my grandmother is named, moves from the Massachusetts Bay Colony to Nova Scotia. Lovett, ambitious and energetic, represents Annapolis County and later, Annapolis Royal in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. He is a farmer who builds a gristmill and sawmill, and owns a large estate called “Round Hill”, overlooking the Annapolis River. Sally Deveau, who leads the “Round Hill Graveyard Walk,” offers, “It is documented that Edward, the Duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria, and his wife [sic] Julie often visited the Lovett estate and enjoyed ballroom dancing there.”[1]

Peter Pineo leaves Connecticut for Cornwallis, Nova Scotia in 1760. The Rev. Jacob Bailey, missionary at Cornwallis and Annapolis, gives his forthright observation of Pineo as “very friendly and obliging, and however he may be esteemed vain, conceited and self-important, yet these shades in his character are without any mixtures of ill nature, insolence, or severity, but rather tinctured with benevolence; and his disposition to exalt himself is distinguished by acts of generosity and the most hospitable exertions.”[2]

In 1690, Judge John Walley of Bristol County, Massachusetts writes a letter to Thomas Hinckley, governor of Plymouth Colony about a man and his son, he calls “trespassers,” having built “a little hovel in the middle of his [Hugh Mosier’s] lot,” while Mosier was absent. Of Hugh Mosier, Judge Walley writes, “He is a substantial man...whatsoever Mosier doth, he doth publicly, and makes account he can in law answer anything he hath said or done.”[3]

It is Hugh’s great grandson, Philip Mosher, who leaves Newport, Rhode Island for Newport, Nova Scotia in the summer of 1760 during the “Rhode Island Immigration”. It is Philip’s son, Philip, who arrives at Quaco (St. Martins), New Brunswick in 1796. And it is in an issue of “Generations” that I come across an article titled “Aunt Becky Macumber’s Saint Martins 1896”. In the pages of “Generations”, I am thrilled to meet my third great grandfather, Philip Mosher, the first Justice of the Peace in the village of Quaco, surveyor, minister and doctor. In 1817 Mosher surveyed the first road from St. Martins to St. John called the Upper Loch Lomond Road. He also surveyed many of the St. Martin land grants. Daniel Vaughan and Philip Mosher owned and operated the first sawmill and the gristmill at St. Martins.[4]

Philip Mosher of St. Martins had a great grandson, Burton Dyas Mosher, a lawbreaking independent, a man who made sure the hungry didn't go thirsty. Burt was a rum runner, smuggling alcohol during the days of Prohibition. An American named Bill McCoy, reputedly a non-drinker, was a boat builder in Florida. A boat was exactly what he needed to get into the lucrative rum-running business. Bill always provided his customers with the very best liquor available, hence the expression "the real McCoy". Burt once asked Luella, a religious woman who’d never had a drink, to drive a sack of potatoes to Halifax. When she made the delivery, Luella was furious to learn it wasn't potatoes at all, but the real McCoy.

One of Burt’s sons is my father, Kenneth Berton Mosher B.Sc. CD, the catalyst for my research into our family history. For most of my life, I hardly knew my quiet, reserved father, and I didn’t know any of his large, boisterous family, but now I see where the sense of humour comes from. Today I have aunts, uncles, and plenty of cousins, and I’ve learned more about them than the pages of history can tell. One cousin’s court appearance comes to mind. Couldn’t have been the whiskey. “Must have been the full moon, your Honour.” Another cousin quips, “I know where we can have a family reunion…Dorchester Penitentiary. There’ll be a good turnout.”

Luella Lovitt (McQuaid) Mosher raised my father and three younger children in her home town, the little fishing and lumbering village of Alma, New Brunswick, nestled along the rocky coast of the Bay of Fundy. My father lit the fires in church, played in the sand until the tide came in, poled on rafts in the creek until the tide went out again, and skated on McLaren pond. He left New Brunswick Normal School with a teacher’s certificate, taught briefly at Hillsborough, and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force within months, as soon as the Second World War broke out. He served as a Wireless operator/Air Gunner in dive-bombers on the Burma Front, and spent four months in Afghanistan as a prisoner of war. He graduated in 1950 from the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton with a Bachelor of Science (Forestry) degree; rejoined the Air Force at the outbreak of the Korean War; met and married my Welsh mother in England; and spent the rest of his life as an Air Force officer and teacher.

My father would have been so surprised to see how much I’ve learned about him, and his generations.

Sources

  1. Lawrence Powell, “Round Hill Graveyard Walk tells the tales of earliest English settlement,” Saltwire, 9 October 2019, https://www.saltwire.com/nova-scotia/lifestyles/regional-lifestyles/round-hill-graveyard-walk-tells-the-tales-of-earliest-english-settlement-361950/
  2. Bartlett, William S. Bartlett, A.M., Rector of St. Luke's Church, Celsea, Mass., and a Corresponding Member of the Maine Historical Society., “The Frontier Missionary: A memoir of the Life of the Rev. Jacob Bailey, A.M., Missionary at Pownalborough, Maine; Cornwallis and Annapolis, N.S.,” (Boston: Ide and Dutton, 1853), 188. https://books.google.ca/books/about/The_Frontier_Missionary.html?id=f1PBLnVm3nsC&redir_esc=y
  3. “The Hinckley Papers” in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, series 4, vol. 5 (1861), 242; transcript of letter, John Walley, Judge, to Thomas Hinckley, Governor of Plymouth Colony, 1690-04-16; digital images, Google Books. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Collections_of_the_Massachusetts_Histori/LWcLAQAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PA242&printsec=frontcover
  4. Written by “Aunt Becky” (Macumber) contributed by: Donna Doiron, “Aunt Becky Macumber’s Saint Martins 1896” Generations 25 (Spring 2003): 44 – 46.

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