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Second in a series of Eight
Cecil J. Reynolds Letters

 

 

The following family names appear in this letter:
BAGGS, COLBOURNE, CRAMM, GUY, KING, MOORES, PEACH, PIKE, REYNOLDS, THISTLE, VATCHER

Friday, September 8, 1989

Dear Bruce:

I’ve run out of regular tablet paper and forgot to get more on campus yesterday.  At 86, one begins to forget.  Yesterday, before I left for campus my daughter-in-law reminded me that I had not combed and parted my hair, of which fortunately I still have a good supply.  So I will have to use this paper.  I write constantly, so my son gave me a whole packet of this stuff on Father’s Day, without of course consulting me as to what I really wanted.

I have been down in tropical Ct. at Noank on the Sound visiting my kid (75) brother Ralph, a retired Aetna executive.  My son Alan & his Theresa were bound for a convention in Charlotte, N.C., dropped me off and picked me up five days later on Saturday.  We got home just before midnight.  On the way, off to our left, we could see an unbroken ribbon of headlights bound south at “summer’s end” all the way from the Mass. Border to well beyond Portland, Me.  A stranger might think the Quebecois were invading and the Mainiacs evacuating.

Your letter with enclosures was one of five I found on my bed.  I have correspondents galore from far and near, not only numerous cousins hither and yon, from California to Broad Cove, but others from Canada and England.  I had a card from a first cousin in HongKong!  I have one letter besides yours left to answer.

Much thanks for the enclosures and the facsimile of the “rear” of the Salem School picture.  [Ed.: On the reverse side, “Mame” (KING) COLBOURNE had written the names of most of the students shown in the photo.]   “Dolph” KING [Ed.: Adolphus KING was my father.]  may have been absent that day.  I know of at least four others who were.  I think I told you why I think the picture was taken in 1908.  Hazel BAGGS, the Primary teacher, married 40-yr old Jim KING in June 1909, and she is still Hazel BAGGS in the picture.  Her assistant, Miriam KING, beside her, married my uncle, Jesse Lacey REYNOLDS, who had already graduated and gone teaching in some obscure outport, possibly at Burgeo, an island on the south shore.  The number of teachers (some later preachers) who came out of Salem School is amazing.  It was famed for the many bright (or “smart”) boys and girls it could boast.  Of course some found teaching unsuitable and turned to other types of work.  For instance, curly-headed Billy BAGGS, in the second row, taught (?) me at Salem in 1916-17.  As far as learning was concerned, also discipline, Billy was almost a total loss.  Actually, he was an emergency fill-in when the previous teacher suddenly resigned in late summer to go to college and become a preacher.  I think John CRAMM, standing at the end of Row 2, got to the picture taking late, as he lived farthest away, about a quarter mile beyond me.  I came to Salem in Sept. 1911 and a few years later sat between John CRAMM and Charlie Rowland BAGGS (who may be one of the unidentified ones) in the other room, the Superior Room in 1912-1914.  Ernie CRAMM was there too, also perhaps unidentified.  And Alfie PEACH and Ron VATCHER were there then too.  Stan REYNOLDS had just “graduated”.  I sometimes got a snack at his father’s in Mulley’s Cove.  “Uncle” Giles was Grandfather’s first cousin.  As I may have told you, I am struggling with my autobiography, a task set me by my late wife Alice.  In it there is a chapter titled “Old Salem Days”.  If I can find an extra copy I’ll send it along so you can “see” what it was like in “Dolph’s” day.    Last summer, cousin George, cousin Walter and I climbed Mudcat Hill about where the school had stood and took snapshots looking north across Broad Cove to Broad Cove North, Blackhead, Adam’s Cove and Western Bay (where the new district school is located.  The kids commute from north and south to this school, which happens to be headed by a REYNOLDS, a distant relative, and another (female) relative teaches there.  A young boy, John REYNOLDS of Northern Bay, who helped me a great deal with the family history four years ago, graduated this year and is off to Memorial U. in St. John’s about now.  His brother Don is, I think, a senior there.  Now I’ll take time out and re-read your letter to refresh my memory.

The possible solution to your father’s absence is that he was playing “hookey” or maybe had tonsillitis.  He is certainly not the only one missing.  I think at least 8 or 10 are.  Sam THISTLE, Duncan MOORES, Ida MOORES are not there.  Katie KING’s sister was in my class.  Also George Gilbert KING, a very frail little fellow who looked as if a gust of wind would blow him into the cove, but last year I was assured he was still alive and living in Calilfornia (of course) but I haven’t got his address yet.  (GGK & I were the voracious readers there.)  As I think I told you, the “Johnny P” in the first row was John Piercey THISTLE.  I know this because he was the second husband of my first girl (Sophie PIKE of Freshwater).  He died in 1986, just short of 96 years old.  Sophie is now 87 and we write each other regularly.  One of the letters on the bed was from her up in Deux Montagnes, Quebec.

You know, Mame never did mention her daughters.  You are right in that she thought the picture would be more valuable to me than to them (who were 100% Canadian not Newfie).  I guess I wrote so nostalgically about old time down home that Mame felt I should have the picture.  I believe I told you that the picture was published in the Evening Telegram in St. John’s and caused quite a stir.  Several clipped it & sent it up to Newfies in Mass.  It was through it that Charles DAVIS of Concord, Mass. found me here and got me “entangled” in correspondence with my mother’s people, the DAVISes of Freshwater.  And the DAVISes were even more fertile than the REYNOLDSes.  My grandfather DAVIS had six brothers and five sisters and all had progeny.  Of course that was in the days when there was no radio, no television, no newspapers & few books apart from the Bible & hymnal, and of course no [Ed.: indecipherable].  The rest, as we say, is history or more precisely overpopulation when the inshore fishing began to fail in the 1870’s.  That’s what drove young Newfies to the “Boston States”, where many met & married other Newfies, as did my parents.  They met on a streetcar coming in from Revere Beach on my father’s 20th birthday, Aug 5, 1900.

About the Le Messurier article [Ed.: “The Early Relations Between Newfoundland and the Channel Islands” by H.W. Le Messurier; I don’t have its date, but it was published about 1915 in The Geographical Review.], for which I heartily thank you, I have always been interested in family origins, but few down there ever gave it a thought.  As I went over the names in church records I could see “origins”.  Conception Bay was originally settled by fishermen from the West Country (Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall), from the southern coast of Ireland & from the Channel Islands (a British possession off the coast of Normandy).  Did you know that Nfld. was not settled until 1610 for this simple reason:  The Bristol fish merchants who sent out fishing vessels each summer got the Privy Council to ban settlement.  Why?  Because they were afraid the settlers would nab all the good fishing sites before their ships arrived in the spring!  But a few of those who visited Nfld kept telling folks back home what a wonderful place it was (in summer of course) until John GUY of Bristol got permission to start a colony (39 men) at Cuper’s Cove on condition that they did not compete in the fish trade.  By an odd coincidence GUY came over in the early summer of 1610, the very time the first stones were laid for the building of Wadham, my old college at Oxford (in 1927-30), according to the will of a man from Somerset.  But that’s another story.  Back in 1986 my little book, The Willoughby Story, was published down home telling about how the “North Shore” of our ancestors got settled.  This is now a collector’s item & I have only one copy of the 260 printed.

But back to family names.  Of people down home, the VATCHERs, LEGROWs, MULLEYs, MILLEYs and probably the THISTLEs have their origins in the French-speaking Channel Islands.  I have a long list of family names from Devon, Dorset & Cornwall, and there are many Irish names in the Methodist records, because the first missionary was influenced by John Wesley and Irish people came to church, no doubt because it was the only “entertainment” in town!  Incidentally, KING is very wide-spread in the West Country & in Southern Ireland (by which the ships from Bristol sailed).  There are Catholic KINGs & REYNOLDSes as well as Protestant ones, but usually not related.

But I’d better stop.  Ralph & June had two couples in for dinner last Thursday (both very rich).  Next day at the bridge club one wife told June that her husband George (84) had finally met his match in me for telling stories from the past!  But then the Newfies were known as the Gabby Islanders at college to distinguish them from the Spud Islanders from P.E.I.  Anyway, I hope we can meet sometime and gab.  Ralph says you must teach in New Haven.  I almost majored in Math. and in fact taught Trig & Desc. Geom to conscripts in the last big war. 

All the very best,

Cecil John REYNOLDS

P.S.  Mulleys Cove is to the left of Mudcat Hill & usually not shown on maps.

 

 

Back to: Cecil J Reynolds Table of Contents

This page transcribed by Bruce King (January, 2001)

Page Last Updated March 06, 2013(Craig Peterman)

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