The White Fence, issue #89

february 2020


Dear Friends,

I take great pleasure in introducing you to very special people of our community – then and now!

First of all, I invite you to meet Marilyn (Wheaton) Keller, a very proud United Empire Loyalist descendant. Marilyn details the life of her Loyalist ancestor Thomas Wheaton who arrived at 25 years of age in Fort Cumberland by ship and settled in Sackville in 1786, where he lived for 44 years (1786-1830). It is a fascinating story and, as editor, I am pleased to say that the story arrived in very complete form and required by little editing! It was a pleasure for me to prepare Marilyn’s story for this newsletter and, furthermore, to introduce you to her ancestor, and especially interesting historical figure of the Tantramar region.

We follow this story with a photo from Colin MacKinnon showing the 1917-1918 graduating class of the Sackville High School, a photo which had hung on his late grandmother’s bedroom wall for many years. Thankfully, Colin’s grandmother transcribed the names of all her classmates and these are listed below the photo. I have little doubt that many of our Sackville readers will recognize family members in this photo and we would love to hear from you of any information you may have about any of the graduates. I was especially fascinated by Colin’s and Al Smith’s photos of i) an old circa 1910 steam locomotive behind which is pictured the high school attended by those 1918 graduates and ii) Al’s postcard of a close-up photo of the same high school, along with some of its history.

Both of these articles represent the “then” portion of this newsletter. Lastly, we present you with the “now” and introduce you to the first recipient of our Distinguished Service Award. I am quite certain that you will all agree with the choice we have made.

Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to discuss the contents of this newsletter with you if, or when, we meet on Heritage Day as advertised under the Announcements at the end of this newsletter. As usual, I can only hope that you will fully enjoy the contents of this newsletter as much as I did preparing it. I look forward to writing to you again when The White Fence number 90 rolls around! Until then, keep learning and enjoy!

Peter Hicklin

Thomas Wheaton – United Empire Loyalist

By Marilyn (Wheaton) Keller, UE

According to the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada, “the United Empire Loyalists were generally those who had been settled in the thirteen colonies at the outbreak of the American Revolution, who remained loyal to and took up the Royal Standard, and who settled in what is now Canada at the end of the war” (Coldham, 1980). A lot of people may not be aware that they have United Empire Loyalist ancestors and for those in Westmorland County, many can claim Loyalist descent through Thomas Whaton (Wheaton).

In 1789, His Excellency the Right Honorable Lord Dochester proclaimed: “Those Loyalists who have adhered to the Unity of the Empire, and joined the Royal Standard before the treaty of separation in the year 1783, and all their children and their descendants by either sex, are to be distinguished by the following capitals affixed to their names, “UE”, alluding to their great principle, the Unity of the Empire.” The UE designation is Canada’s only hereditary honour.

In 2014, I submitted an application to the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada (UELAC) through their branch in Saint John, New Brunswick. The application required that I provide acceptable documentation of my Loyalist Ancestor, Thomas Wheaton. (It should be noted that, in the past, his surname has sometimes been written as Whaton, including on his headstone. To be consistent, I have used the name “Wheaton” throughout)

The required information for my application necessitated three particular qualifications about Thomas Wheaton: i) his military service, ii) where he settled, and iii) proof that I am his direct descendant. My application was submitted and subsequently approved by the Dominion Genealogist and I, in turn, proudly received my UELAC certificate.

In 2015, I again submitted an application to the UELAC, Saint John branch, this time under their Loyalist Burial Site Project. I again had to provide proof of my Loyalist Ancestor Thomas Wheaton, his occupation, regiment, settlement history, and his burial site. Thomas Wheaton is buried in the Four Corners Cemetery in Upper Sackville, New Brunswick. After my application was approved, a plaque designating the cemetery as a United Empire Loyalist Burial Site was installed at that cemetery.

The Wheaton surname is still very prevalent in Westmorland Country, New Brunswick. Thomas Wheaton’s two eldest sons, Daniel and Benjamin Wheaton, founded Wheaton Settlement in Salisbury Parish in 1802-1803. The covered bridge crossing the Tantramar River on the High Marsh Road near Sackville, known as the Wheaton Bridge, is named after his great grandson, Thomas Sanborn Wheaton who lived in the last house on the left approaching the bridge from Church Street.

Furthermore, he probably owned the land where the bridge was built. So, who was Thomas Wheaton, United Empire Loyalist?

Memorial for Thomas Whaton

Figure 1. Memorial for Thomas Whaton (Wheaton), 1758-1830, Four Corners Cemetery, Upper Sackville, NB. (Colin MacKinnon photo)

Sign for United Empire Loyalist Burial Site in Four Corners Cemetery

Figure 2. Identification signage “United Empire Loyalist Burial Site” affixed to the fence of the Four Corners Cemetery, Upper Sackville, New Brunswick.

Thomas Wheaton was born about 1758 in Westchester County, New York, and he died at age 72 on 26 August, 1830. There are suggestions that his exact place of birth was Morrisania, a neighbourhood in the southwestern Bronx, New York City, New York. I have yet to find any proof to either confirm or refute this birthplace.

According to Gilroy’s “Loyalists and Land Settlement in Nova Scotia” (1937), he was a cordwainer by trade. A cordwainer is a shoemaker who makes new shoes from new leather. The cordwainer’s trade can be contrasted to the cobbler’s trade in accordance with a tradition in Britain that restricted cobblers to only repairing shoes.

He enlisted as a Private in the corps of Guides & Pioneers in May, 1777. In the muster roll of 20 October 1778, he appears to have served in that corps in Kingsbridge, New York. He did not serve long in the Guides & Pioneers; he was discharged, probably at his own request, a couple of months later on 24 December.

Soon after, he joined the Westchester County New York Militia then commanded by Major Mansfield Baremore, followed by Lt. Col. Isaac Hatfield and, by 1780, the famous Colonel James DeLancey. He continued his military duty in the Westchester County Militia until the evacuation of New York City on 5 June, 1783.

On 20 August, 1778, Thomas married Abigail Fillmore in Westchester County, New York. Their first son, Daniel, was born in 1783. In the 1861 census for Salisbury, Daniel’s citizenship is shown to be of the United States (American), so he would have been born in New York before the family evacuated.

Thomas Wheaton landed at Fort Cumberland on the New Brunswick/Nova Scotia border in June of 1783, as a passenger on a Loyalist ship. The ship was probably the Thetis under the command of Captain Robert Gordon; the passengers consisted mainly of Westchester Refugees. Unfortunately, there is no passenger list for the Thetis to confirm this. Previous Loyalist ships had landed in Port Roseway, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, on 4 May 1783, and Saint John, New Brunswick, on 18 May 1783. It is not known why the Thetis sailed on to Fort Cumberland.

Westchester Loyalist Returns of 15 October 1784, from Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, indicated that Thomas Wheaton had a wife and one child.

In 1785, the Loyalists received large grants in Cumberland County at Cobequid (Westchester) and Ramshag (Wallace). At Cobequid, 31,750 acres were distributed on the 2nd of June among 85 Loyalists, along with their families, for a total of 246 men, women, and children. As a Westchester Loyalist, Thomas Wheaton was granted 500 acres of land on the Cobequid Road. However, in 1786, he purchased land in Sackville, New Brunswick, and moved his family there. He bought the land (Lot 56, Letter C Division) for one hundred pounds from Jonathan Eddy. He purchased nearly all of the 500-acre grant as a few marsh parcels had previously been sold. Interestingly, he paid for part of his mortgage with “Merchantable grindstones.” This does not necessarily mean he was a grindstone cutter but possibly he worked as some type of broker.

Walling map showing Thomas Wheaton Jr homestead

Figure 3. The Walling map of 1862 showing the homestead of Thomas Wheaton Jr. (1795-1877) on the edge of the Tantramar Marsh on the High Marsh Road (see arrow).

In 1786, like many Loyalists, he also filed a claim for compensation for the loss of a house, horse, etc. He states he was a resident of New York and that, after the war, he settled with the rest of his corps in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. Like many other Loyalist claims, his was rejected.

In 1788, he sold his original Westchester Loyalist land grant to Joshua Brundage. The Deed of Sale reads: “From Thomas Wheaton of Sackville Township, yeoman to Joshua Brundage of Amherst, yeoman, for the sum of ten pounds currently for 500 acres of land in the township of Westchester north side of main road from Amherst to Cobequid, number 5 granted by the plan of township.” It was signed on 8 December 1787, and also co-signed by Abigail Wheaton, wife of Thomas Wheaton.

On a list of the inhabitants in the Sackville Town Book dated January 1803, the Thomas Wheaton household consisted of 1 Man, 1 Woman, 5 Children above 10 years of age, and 3 Children under 10. Thomas and his wife Abigail remained in Sackville for the remainder of their lives where they raised nine children.

Thomas Wheaton died on 26 August, 1830. Fortunately, he left a very detailed Last Will and Testament dated 18 January 1825, proved 1 September 1830 in Sackville. It lists his wife Abigail and sons Daniel, Benjamin, Thomas, and David Wheaton and his daughters Mary Finny (Finney/Phinney), Charity Kay, Milleson Eals (Millicent Ayles), Jemmina (Jemima) Maxwell, and Martha Cornwell (Cornwall).

Furthermore, it appoints his friends William Fawcett, William Fawcett Jr., and his son David Wheaton as executors.

By the time of Thomas Wheaton’s death, his two eldest sons, Daniel and Benjamin, had already left the Sackville area to found Wheaton Settlement in the Parish of Salisbury. Consequently, he left the house and land to his two youngest sons, Thomas and David, and appointed son David as one of the executors of his will. On 1 September 1830, David Wheaton appeared before Judge Chandler as executor of his father’s will. But unfortunately, David, Thomas Wheaton’s youngest son and executor of his will, died sometime between 1 September 1830 and 15 January 1831, and his widow Martha Wheaton was acting as administratrix of her husband David’s will, as he had died intestate.

David and Martha (Wry) Wheaton were married in 1822 by Reverend Chris Milner. They had 3 sons: William (b. 1823), Isaac (b. 1828), and David (b. 1830). In the 1851 census for Sackville, Martha is shown as a widow. At the time of that census, her youngest son David was still living with her and she also had two daughters, Rebecca (b. 1835) and Mary Jane (b. 1837). As shown above, her husband David was dead by 1831. I have found no evidence as to the paternity of the two daughters.

In both the 1861 and 1871 census for Sackville, Martha was living with her eldest son William and listed as his mother. This proof of relationship was what I needed to continue my proof of descent from Thomas Wheaton, UEL. From then on, I could use birth, marriage, and death certificates, as well as obituaries, to prove my direct descent and hence obtain my UELAC certificate. If you have U.E.L. ancestor and can submit the requisite proof, as I have demonstrated above for Thomas Wheaton, you too can have the privilege and honour of adding U.E. to your name. For further information, you can visit their website at

Wheaton covered bridge

Figure 4. The Wheaton covered bridge over the Tantramar River (Colin MacKinnon photo).


I would like to acknowledge the invaluable assistance provided by Douglas P. Ayer and Llewellyn Goodfield Jr. in the completion of my UELAC application and by my cousin, Colin MacKinnon, for his feedback on this article and providing the photographs.


Coldham, P.W. 1980. American Loyalist Claims Volume I. Abstracted from the Public Record Office, Audit Office Series 13, Bundles 1-35 & 37, National Geographical Society, Washington, DC, page 520.

Early New Brunswick Probate Records, 1785-1835, Hale, R. Wallace (Bowie, MD: Heritage Book Inc., 1989, Page 481ff).

Loyalist Ships – United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada: Taken from The Book of Negroes

Loyalists and Land Settlement in Nova Scotia (Halifax, 1937) – Compiled by Marion Gilroy under the direction of D.C. Harvey, Archivist.

Milner, W.C. 1911. Records of Chignecto. Nova Scotia Historical Society Collections, Halifax.

Milner, W.C. 1934. History of Sackville, New Brunswick, Sackville Tribune Press.

Sullivan, Donna, 2017. Tantramar’s Covered Bridges. The White Fence, Newsletter of the Tantramar Heritage Trust, No. 75, Boultenhouse Heritage Centre, Sackville, NB.

Wood-Holt, Bertha, 1990. The King’s Loyal Americans: The Canadian Factor – Marriage Licenses for Sudbury County 1788-1829. Passenger Lists and Other Lists. Saint John, New Brunswick.

United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada website:

Westmorland County Land Records, New Brunswick, Book A, Pages 64-66, signed 13 March 1786.

Wheaton Settlement: Some accounts of pioneer settlements in Salisbury Parish, Westmorland County, New Brunswick – Collected by J.E. Humphries.


Heritage Day 2020

DATE: February 15, 2020

TIME: 2 p.m.

PLACE: Town Hall Council Chambers, 31 Main St., Sackville, NB

Join us to celebrate Heritage Day with a talk by former CN employee Bruce Wood. Titled “All the Live Long Day,” Bruce will describe old and new methods of working on the rails and give demonstrations of some of the tools he used in his career. Light refreshments will be served. Free admission. All are welcome!

Following the presentation, everyone is invited to the Boultenhouse Museum for an open house and to see the new additions to the Railway Exhibit.

Presented in partnership with the Town of Sackville.

Foundry Workers Project

The Trust is starting an Oral History Project involving workers at the Enterprise and the Fawcett Foundries. If you or someone you know worked at a Sackville foundry, we would love to talk to you. We are also seeking artifacts, photographs, and archival records involving the foundries.

If you can help, please contact us at or call (506) 536-2541.

A Rare Photograph of the Grade 8 Class of the Sackville High School 1917-1918

By Colin MacKinnon

The school photograph shown below, a cherished possession, was displayed in a simple white frame and resided for many years on the bedroom wall of my grandmother Norma (Crossman) Campbell (1904-1978). On the passing of my aunt Gwen (Sears) Crossman, this little photo was given to me by the family. I recognized it immediately, as well as the handwriting of my grandmother who meticulously transcribed the names of nearly all of her classmates in 1917-1918. Sadly, so many photographs like this example, now over one hundred years old, have no names attached to the faces, as no one took the time to record the details. Such is not the case here, and thanks to grandmother Norma, many of our readers may recognize past ancestors or relatives. For those who would like a closer look, a higher resolution copy of this image has been deposited at the Boultenhouse Museum.

Sackville High School Grade 8 Class 1917-1918

Front Row L-R: Ronald MacNaughton, Nita Wells, Violet Tingley, Dorothy Best, Minnie Randall, Carman Read. Second Row L-R: Irene Secord, Florence Edgett, Dora Johnson, Norma (Campbell) Crossman, Eleanor Copp, Gertrude Thomas, Hilda Tingley, ?, Ellen Seaman, Francis Siddall. Third Row L-R: Grey Steadman, Lila Carter, Helen Avard, Marion Fowler, Miss Miller (Teacher), Winnifred Goodwin, Frances Johnson, Lena Carter, Reynolds Blakney. Back Row L-R: Harold Jonah, Cecil Hart, Robert Ford, Thaxter Dixon, Jack Stultz, James Wry, Olaf Hanson, Crandall Steadman,. Note: Colin McLeod not in the picture.

Locomotive with old Sackville High School in background circa 1910

Photograph (circa 1910) of the old Sackville High School that once sat on the hilltop of Allison Avenue, Sackville, New Brunswick. The locomotive is No. 3 of the New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island Railway. (Tantramar Heritage Trust, Alec R. Purdy Research Centre, Mary Day Collection, RC2013.5.)

Sackville High School circa 1907

Sackville High School c1907 taken from Allison Avenue. The school opened in 1899 and was destroyed by fire o February 2, 1957. (Al Smith postcard collection.)

The Tantramar Heritage Trust’s Inaugural Distinguished Service Award

Charlie Scobie receiving Distinguished Service Award

Al Smith (r) presenting the Award to Charlie Scobie (l). W.M. Black photo.

At the Trust’s Annual General Meeting on June 2, 2019, Charlie Scobie was presented with its newest volunteer appreciation award. Below is the award citation prepared and read by THT board member Al Smith.

The many successes that the Tantramar Heritage Trust has had over the past 23 years are largely attributed to our many volunteers who have contributed many thousands of hours in support of our mission. In 2011, the Trust’s Board established a Volunteer of the Year award and to date 14 people have been recipients. However, this spring the Trust’s Publications Committee discussed the need to establish a new award, not to be awarded annually but only periodically, to recognize members who have made highly significant contributions over many, many years.

The new award is called a Distinguished Service Award and I am very happy to announce that Charlie Scobie is the first recipient. Indeed it was Charlie’s amazing service in preserving Tantramar’s heritage that prompted the inauguration of this new award.

  • Charlie chaired the Tantramar Historic Sites Committee;
  • He was chairman of the Town’s Heritage Review Board from 2005-2012;
  • He has served as the Trust’s webmaster for 21 years retiring this past winter. Taking over from the original tapnet site Charlie completely revamped the website and added much new material and annual undertook major updates;
  • He has authored five books on local history, three of which the Trust has had the privilege to publish – those being Roberts Country, Sackville Then and Now (co-authored with Kip Jackson) and his latest People of the Tantramar. Sackville Then and Now is the Trust’s all time best seller with 1797 copies sold to April 1, 2019 and People of the Tantramar has sold 408 copies in the first 6 months since the book launch. It is also destined to become a best seller.

It was Charlie’s gargantuan efforts to bring People of the Tantramar to print that prompted the Publications Committee to think that some special recognition was in order.

  • Charlie conceived of the idea for the book, brought the idea with sample biographical sketches to the Committee;
  • Researched and wrote all 47 entries;
  • Sourced all the images and secured permission to use them;
  • Liaised with his daughter Mary on the graphic design;
  • Organized the pre-sales campaign and secured private donations to help offset publication costs;
  • Along with the Treasurer and the Trust office, he liaised with the printer Friesen’s in Winnipeg;
  • Did the lion’s share of publicity for the book, including being the guest speaker at last year’s AGM.

The Trust did not have an Oscar or Juno-type award but now we have our very own, which we are affectionately calling a “Charlie.” The exceptional contributions that Charlie Scobie has made to the Trust make him an obvious choice to be the first ever recipient of our Distinguished Service Award.

I am extremely pleased to present our very first “Charlie” to Charlie Scobie.