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Third in a series of Eight
Cecil J. Reynolds Letters

 

 

The following family names appear in this letter:
BUTT(S), CRAMM, DAVIS, DAWE, KING, LACEY, MOORE, NOFTALL, PARSONS, PEACH, PIKE, REYNOLDS, SNOW, THISTLE, WHALEN. In a few instances, the reader will find the symbol "[?]" immediately following the last letter of a word whose interpretation is, to us, uncertain. The same symbol with a space on both sides of it indicates that an illegible word has been omitted.

Monday, August 13, 1990

Dear Bruce:

I got back yesterday from two weeks in Newfieland and am still dog tired. Also my eyes have begun to fail me; at least it seems so this morning. I had a huge pile of mail awaiting me, but opened the personal letters first and noted the dates when sent. These proved that you deserved the first reply, because your letter and those marvelous snapshots must have reached here on or about the 25th, because Alan drove me down to Boston on the 25th to catch the plane to Halifax and Saint John's the next morning early. As in 1988 my guardian, nursemaid, and general factotum on the trip was the incomparable "character" George MOORE, a maternal first cousin, born, like me, in the "Boston States" but, unlike me, not taken home for the experience of growing up on the North Shore. So, sixteen years ago he decided to see where his parents grew up in Freshwater, just north of Carbonear but off the road down to Blackhead, etc. He fell madly in love with the land and its people and especially the sea. So, except for last summer, he had been down there for at least two weeks every year, making his "headquarters" at Nell BUTTS' in Freshwater and exploring the Avalon peninsula, making friends everywhere and talking, talking, talking. He even had a half-share in a fishing boat until his partner, a younger brother of an old school chum of mine, died. Now, instead of Fred SNOW, his fishing companion is Fred BUTT, another "character".

We landed at the Torbay airport late in the afternoon of the 26th (delayed in Halifax) and were welcomed by Walter and Olga DAVIS. Walter is a second cousin to both of us on my mother's side, and is a widely known and honored humanitarian and peace activist, recently honored as Man of the Year in Nfld. Olga, born in Nfld., is an outstanding artist. They are both marvelously kind and humorous people. We stayed with them until Saturday, then took off around the Bay in a rented car. We took the Coast Road into every outport rather than the new highway inland. I had made a very brief visit in 1974 to sell some land in Fortune inherited by my wife (a descendant of the Carbonear PIKEs). The changes since then down there have been nothing short of amazing ever since "Joey" Smallwood won the fight to join Canada (and get Federal help) in 1949. When I was at the Methodist College in St. John's in 1919-22, its population (the city) was about 31,000; today it is well over 150,000 & still growing on that steep slope to the harbor.

We visited people I had known by correspondence in my research of early Nfld. History: Ross DAWE in Cupids (1st settlement 1610, before the Pilgrims!), Bert PARSONS in Carbonear, a history "buff", and Milton PEACH, a cousin who lost his MHA cabinet post in the last election, and others, before settling down in Freshwater. Later we drove down to Bay de Verde and back, visiting relatives all the way. The REYNOLDSes of Caplin Cove, Northern Bay, Small Point, Perry's Cove and Salmon Cove are all descended from James REYNOLDS, second son of the churchwarden at Rockbeare in Devon. Second is important because by English law & [?] custom his older brother Nicholas inherited the "estate" of Marsh Green on the edge of the village. So James had to make his own way & came to Nfld. as an apprentice to a bootmaker, John LACEY of Mulley's Cove. That was in the spring of 1769, the year the first Wesleyan church in North America was built at Blackhead. The one in the photo is the fourth or fifth on the site. [Ed.: This refers to a photograph that accompanied the letter. CJR wrote some comments on the back of this photo, and a transcription of them appears at the end of this transcription.] Naturally, I had a grand time, handing out copies of the Reynolds genealogy, showing how "we" were related to about every other family there, including the KINGs. My great grandmother was Maria KING of Broad Cove. They (Giles and Maria) were married on Dec 26, 1837, I believe. And some REYNOLDS girls married KINGs along the way. The KINGs also produced some fine teachers, including the ever-memorable Matt Gilbert KING and others, such as Bruce KING. I have a theory that it's the fish diet that makes the kids so "smart". Also on the DAVIS side, there were many fine teachers. Fish beats hamburg and pizza all hollow as "brain" food. The state of education in the US may be due to too much of the latter two.

I remember George Gilbert KING as a very frail-looking little fellow who looked as if he would be dead in his teens. I sure am glad he survives and will, I hope, enjoy "Old Salem Days". [Ed.: This is chapter 5 in CJR's autobiography, and refers to the Salem School in Broad Cove that served several generations of students.] I made at least one mistake there, confusing the two brothers Charles and John CRAMM. Charles, not John, was my seatmate with Charlie Rowland BAGGS.

I don't happen to recall Mary KING. [Ed.: I probably asked CJR if he remembered my father's sister, Mary Ann KING, who was only three months older than George Gilbert KING, who CJR did remember; see the previous paragraph.] I had eyes for only one girl then, Rowena NOFTALL of Mulley's Cove, successor to my first "love", Sophie PIKE in 2nd and 3rd grade at Freshwater (where we lived 1904-11). Along with your letter came my regular one from Sophie up in Deux Montagnes, Quebec. We correspond regularly. While in St. John's [?] I contacted Julia WHALEN who was my "sweetie" at the Methodist College in 1921-22. She had such beautiful curls that she now tells me she has never needed a permanent in her life. By an odd coincidence, both Sophie and Julia married men named John THISTLE.

We spent the last 3 days of our visit back at Walter DAVIS' in St. John's (so I had more money to spend on books and on presents for members of the family, including Kate Elizabeth, my third great-grandchild, born as we were in flight to Halifax.

Now, Bruce, I have to get to work on the bills and the letters and "appeals" that have piled up in my absence. Many, many thanks for those grand photos. I'm glad you enjoyed "Old Salem Days". Someone else had asked for it but I could not find a copy, though I thought I had an extra one. I must have sent it to you & forgot. If by any chance you can make another copy, send it along. I shall be very grateful. Do drop a line sometime. I'd love to keep in touch. I may even send you a copy of "A Home Away from Home" in St. John's, which is hilarious at times[?].

With best wishes to you & Mary, Cecil REYNOLDS

[Ed.: Here are the notes on the back of the photo that CJR enclosed with his letter.]

July 1988 Taken from Mudcat Hill looking north across Broad Cove to Blackhead. The old church is barely visible. The Broad Cove church is left of us on Mudcat Hill, Mulley's Cove down to our right. The white summer[?] house below stands where Salem School stood until dismantled about 30 years ago. The first school stood there in about 1823. A list of contributors may be available. They gave in pounds, shillings and pence. My ancestor James (from Devon) and his son [?] are on the list also no doubt several KINGs. CJR

 

 

Back to: Cecil J Reynolds Table of Contents

This page transcribed by Bruce King (March, 2001)

Page Last Updated March 06, 2013(Craig Peterman)

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