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By Samuel G Barter, Avondale, New Brunswick

[Privately published in 1951; this version updated with the corrections noted in hand by SGB on what seems to have been his own review copy. For this online transcription, readers may note some further editing for clarity -- Sam wouldn’t mind! CR]

While in this book, the author does not attempt to give a complete history of the Orser family, he has assembled much material which will be of interest to all the descendents of Hartland’s first family. Much of the material in this book has not heretofore appeared in print.

To all those who assisted me in gathering the historical material I express my sincere thanks.

S. G. Barter


Ancestors of the Orser family, the first settlers in what is now Hartland, lived in Holland. The Dutch name was Van Auslin. When Holland owned New York State they called it New Holland and New York City was called New Amsterdam. Albany, New York was called Orange. The Dutch government gave the Van Auslin family a plantation at what is now Ossining. When the British took the place from Holland they confirmed the Dutch grants to the settlers. They became British subjects, and the name became anglicized as Orser. The Van was discontinued in the surname.


[Barbara E Morgan, in her family tree on geneology.com, traces the Barter connection to the Orsers back as far as 1580: Trecia Orser (born 1850 and married to James A Barter); Samuel Bishop Orser (1815-1892); William Aarse Orser (1763-1844); Jan [Jonas] Orser (1723-1782); Evert Aertse Orser (1650-1716); Willem Aertzen Orser (1650-1716); Aert Williemszen Orser (1605-1659); William ? (born 1580). CR]


When the Americans rebelled against British rule, the Orser family remained loyal, and Captain Jonas Orser was a lieutenant in a company commanded by Captain Abraham Ladieu in the month of July, 1776, at Tarrytown, and was called out at various times during 1776-77 and 78 as commissioner by Governor George Clinton. He was elected Overseer of the Poor in April 1779, became a captain in 1778, and died on July 7, 1782. His wife Elizabeth died in 1826, and was buried in the Old Dutch Churchyard at Sleepy Hollow, where her memorial stone still stands. Mrs Orser before her marriage was Miss Elizabeth Pugsley. They had 13 children: Talman, Deborah, William, Edward, Houneville, Jonas, Elizabeth, Abraham, Mary, Joshua, Phoebe, Leah and Rachel. There were several families of Orser besides Captain Jonas Orser and his family.


Jonas Orser’s six sons served in the British troops and I add a letter written by (and saved as a souvenir of the Revolutionary soldiers at Tarrytown) M D Raymond at Tarrytown, entitled The Surprise at Orser’s: “Some of our men from Salem and Stephentown, who had been on a raid collecting plunder from loyal families, wished to take the nearest road back home and were anxious to leave. So, as we approached the crossing, we agreed to all go to the Orser farmhouse, on the bank of the North of Hudson River, and divide our plunder, refresh ourselves and our horses. It was now 9 a.m.


“Our horses were put in the barn and barnyard and fed, and we proceeded to sell our spoil at auction. While these events were going on, the enemy -- probably reinforced at both ferries -- renewed pursuit but pulled up between Tarrytown and Sing Sing where they were informed by a man named Curry (a cousin of the Orser boys) who had seen us as we halted at Orser’s. He told the British where we were. They now pushed on and when they approached Orser’s they sent a party of about fifty men around a lane so as to get in our rear and lay in ambush to cut us off so we could not retreat. This party by a circuitous march occupied the ground north of Orser’s while the other party of about 20 advanced on us from cover of the orchard. We lost the rest of our loot and most of our horses.”


This letter was written by one of the rebels and the British took them all prisoners and away to New York city. After this capture in 1782, in the month of May, Mr Orser’s buildings were burned because their sons were in the British army and the parents took refuge in the British lines. All the Orser families lived at, or near, Sing Sing and Tarrytown. Sing Sing is now called Ossinging and the Orsers scattered from Nova Scotia to Ontario, and many of their descendents in different parts of the United States.


But when they burned the Orser home, near where the capture of the Raiding Rebels took place (described in the letter copied above), the Rebels took 3 men as captives as they wished to punish them for informing on them and causing their capture. It is supposed -- but not sure -- that one was a Mr Curry. One son, William Orser, was arrested by the Rebels and was confined with other Loyalists charged with giving information to the British. Mr Orser and two others, names now unknown, escaped and fled to the woods. The Rebels pursued then but did not retake them. They kept in the woods as much as possible and traveled by night when in the open. After a few days, they were going through the woods and came to a small field, crossed it to the edge and lie down to rest -- but fell asleep.


Mr Orser awoke just as the sun was coming up; his two companions were asleep and sitting on one of them was a little red bird (on his breast) looking in his comrade’s face. Mr Orser wakened his two comrades and told then of the little bird and at once his comrade said: “That means I will be killed.”


They were lying in a few bushes by a roadside and some Rebel horsemen were fast approaching. They all sprang up and ran across the field to escape. The horsemen opened fire on them and one man fell in the field. It was the one the red bird had alighted on. Mr Orser and the other comrade got to the wood, but as the Rebels dismounted and followed them, they parted. Mr Orser never heard of his comrade after.


He continued all day and the next, keeping to the woods, without food, but on the morning of the third day he came to a small clearing with a small house and barn, a road running through the clearing. He heard someone threshing with a flail in the barn. He cautiously came to the barn keeping a watch for anyone on the road… also keeping the barn between himself and the house. There was a little door in the big barn and he stepped in quickly and shut the door. With his back to the door, and as the man threshing looked at him, Mr Orser said: “I am cold and hungry but if you are a king’s man I am safe. If not, God help me for I am all in.” The man came toward him and asked: “Did anyone see you come?” Mr Orser answered: “No, I’ve been in the woods two days and two nights. I’m a king’s man trying to get away to safety.” The man said: “You are lucky for I am a king’s man too. Come I’ll give you a place to rest and, if you trust me and do as I say, I will get you food and help you escape.”


He had a hole cut in the hay mow big enough for a man to lay down in and also get up on his knees. Mr Orser crawled in and the man brought him food and drink and Mr Orser was there two days and two nights. The man kept him and told Mr Orser he had helped several Loyalists escape that way.


On the third day he supplied Mr Orser with food and told him the way to go and bade him Godspeed, as he had found that no Rebels were near. Mr Orser made good his escape and joined the British.


After the war, he came to New Brunswick and was given a government grant of land in Carleton County where the Town of Hartland is now situated. The grant was officially given and is recorded as at the mouth of the Becaguimic River.





As near as can be found, it seems William Orser’s father was imprisoned and his property destroyed on the expulsion of the Loyalists who had favoured the British. (I must say my daughter, Mrs Jane Barter Allen who represents the Lepage Company of Gloucester, Massachusetts and who travels in the New England States and New York State, has searched the records of the early days of the United States and has found a lot of information for me.) Mr Orser died in 1782 on board the ship on which he was sailing to Canada. Mrs Orser, William’s mother, died and was buried in New York State, in the Dutch Cemetery. Two daughters, Phoebe and Lydia (both girls were nurses in the British cause) were killed in service; nothing was known of John [Jonas?] after the war, but William went to Saint John.


The Americans, who by the aid of France, Holland and Spain, continued the war until a treaty was made with the British government. Granting the independence of the American States, there were certain conditions. One was that the States were to reimburse the Loyalists for the property the Rebels destroyed and livestock taken. In the book “American Loyalists”, volume 22, page 213 (and which can be found in the Library in New York), the account of losses sustained by Mr Orser’s heirs shows the family in good standing and how they suffered. These losses were never paid as the Americans never fulfilled their part of the treaty which gave them their independence.

Mrs Orser placed the following claim:

100 acres of improved land at 5 an acre: 500

95 acres of timber land: $427

An outhouse not finished: 100

1 yoke of steers: 12

8 cows at 6 each: 48

2 fine horses: 40

8 cattle: 88

20 hogs: 15

33 sheep: 26

Household furniture (New York pounds): 60

Damage to stone dwelling house: 30

TOTAL: 1346

In 1951 dollars, this would have been worth about $6,100.


By this we can see what they lost and all they received was from the British -- the Americans kept all! And what the Loyalists went through was far from what one could expect for they were driven away from their homes. One young man who had served with the Loyalists on leaving New York City (just before the Loyalists took passage to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia) went to see some of his people before he took ship. He was beaten, daubed with tar, his eyebrows cut off, and used worse than a negro slave.


William Orser was born in 1762 and the next part of this story will give the family history in New Brunswick.


William Orser had married a Miss Craig and on coming to Saint John had applied for land. A brother of Mrs Orser, a Mr James Craig, had married a Miss Mary Blake [perhaps Black; 1772-1856. CR] who was said to be the first English girl baby born on the Saint John River. Both families came up by boat. Mr Orser was given a farm [settled 1797, granted 1809] which took in the land at the mouth of the Becaguimic River and a little above its mouth, and down near the centre of the now Town of Hartland. Mr Craig was given land a mile or more north of Mr Orser’s land.


[According to Carle A Rigby in his 1980 book, “A History of Hartland,” “Jacob (John) Craig of Wakefield (across the river and south of Hartland) petitioned for land at Upper Brighton in August 1789; in a petition of September 1799 he says he has a house and twelve acres cleared and had been living there for four years… (The) Craigs were already settled about a mile and a half upriver when the Orsers first set foot (in Hartland).”]


The Maliceet Indians had a summer village or camp on the intervale and would come up in the early Spring after the ice had run out, and plant corn and pumpkins. In the Fall, they would gather the corn and pumpkins, peel and slice the pumpkins, spread them out on sheets of bark and dry them. Then they would pack the dried pumpkins and corn in baskets and move back into the woods where the cold wind could not reach their camps and they would hunt and trap until Spring opened again, then move back for the Spring and Summer.


The Indians objected to Mr Orser’s coming and called a pow-wow , or council, when they came back in the Spring and found him in possession. They built a big fire by the river and gathered around to discuss the matter. Mr Orser went right down and talked to them, explaining how the Great White Father had given him the land marked off and he must, and would, stay. The Indians threatened and scowled but Mr Orser was firm and said: “On my side of the line I stay, on your side of the line you grow corn and pumpkins.” It was looking like trouble but Mrs Orser was familiar with doctoring the sick children and many Indian children were ill with some disease (measles, I think) and Mrs Orser went right down and helped with the sick children. All because the children got well, all were friends. Mr Orser and the Indians had no trouble -- they were good neighbours.


Mr Craig sickened and died and Mrs Orser also died. Both families had six children. In 1802, Mr Orser married the widow Craig. With Mrs Craig’s six children and Mrs Orser’s six and then their six children, it made all together 18 children. A good family in those days where now one or two is the average, and should there be more it’s called quite a family.


The Mohawk Indians used to come down the Saint John River on Summer raids and the Maliceets kept a guard on the hill where the Burtt house now stands (and where the B.E.S. Legion are now establishing their hall) and they called it petagomik -- meaning in the Indian tongue, “the place where you look” or, in our language, “lookout.” Now it is spelled “Becaguimec.” Always the Indians kept a guard there to warn the village if a number of canoes were seen approaching from upriver, on the Saint John.


Mary Blake’s father was killed by the Indians when she was a little girl, down just above Saint John. The Indians were on a raid down the river and the people on the east side of the river were on flat land, but the west side was a steep bank and the people there all crossed the river where they had a fortified place. But, as they did not see any Indians the day after, Mr Blake said he was going over home to look after his cattle. He went across by canoe and did not come back. Early the next morning, the people who went over to see what kept him found blood and bits of red hair on the stairs of his house (or cabin) but he was never seen or heard of again. He was a redheaded man and it looked as if he had been surprised by the Indians while in his house and had taken his stand on the stairs.


Mr Orser’s children by his first wife were, by name: William, Lydia, Marie, Phoebe, and two died as babies. Children of the second marriage: Blake, Evard, Stephen, John, George B (who died young), George W and Samuel Bishop Orser to whom he left his home in Hartland.


William Orser lived on his farm in Hartland until he was an old man, over 70 years old; and his children settled around mostly along the river. William, the oldest son by his first wife, had the farm next above his youngest brother, Samuel, but went to Ontario. He first settled on the farm shown on a land grant map on file at the Crown Land Office in Fredericton labeled as “William Orser, Jr.” and I have the original grant in my possession now. Nothing was heard of this William Orser after he went to Ontario. William was the only son who lived to marry, of his father (William Orser) and his first wife, Mary Shaw. Of his second family by his second wife (Mary Blake Craig) he had six sons who all lived to marry; Evard married Abigail Shaw, Stephen married Jane McIsaac (second marriage Sarah Foster), John Moses married Martha Hamilton, George E. died young, George W. married Harriet Shaw, and Samuel D. married Irene Shaw.


Mr William Orser, the father, who came with his family to settle, built his first house about where the present barber shop, or dwelling, where Roy Stevens barbers now (1950), so as to be near the big spring (now having a brick shelter over it for town purposes). Later a large house, or addition, was built, before the railway was built into Hartland. The first engines on the railway burned wood instead of coal, and as the railway was built very near the back of Mr Orser’s house, sparks set fire and burned the first old Orser home. Then Mr Orser built a home up on the hill, back from the family cemetery on the up-ground back of the village now, and still used for a cemetery and where a monument has been placed for great grandfather and great grandmother and grandchildren of the first William Orser and his son Samuel and many more of the family are buried there. The cemetery is now owned by Neil and Allan McLean, sons of Samuel D. Orser’s daughter, Frances, who married Allan McLean, a native of Whycocomagh, Inverness County, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

While Samuel Orser lived he was anxious to see Hartland grow to be a real village or town. He would give a lot of land to a blacksmith or person who would start a business. There he and the boys farmed, cleared land and lumbered; so did his brothers, and Samuel Orser had a permit from the New Brunswick government to cut timber on the Aroostook River, and was busy getting lumber there when the historic Aroostook War broke out. When the Americans claimed the Aroostook was their land, after Mr Orser had his lumber hauled to the banks of the Aroostook River to drive it down to the St. John, the Americans seized his lumber and used it to build the old fort which gave the town of Fort Fairfield its name -- it was named Fairfield after the Governor of Maine at that time, General Fairfield. The subsequent treaty by the British and Americans gave the ground where Mr Orser’s logs had been cut from, and were piled, to the Americans, so he lost his lumber. Mr Orser lived to be 77 and then passed to his reward. Mrs Orser lived to be well up in her eighties; she spent her last days at the home of her daughter Frances at Bristol.


Frances Orser, daughter of Mr and Mrs Samuel B Orser, married Allan J McLean who was a blacksmith from Cape Breton, NS. He was a member of a Scottish Highland family. They had four children: Neil McLean who is a Senator in our Canadian House of Senate in Ottawa (he resides in Saint John NB) and Allen, his brother, who lives at Black’s Harbour (they manage the fish packing factory, the largest in Canada) and two daughters, Annie who married George Caldwell and lives near Black’s Harbour and her sister Hattie who married Garfield Larlee and resides in Fredericton, NB where her husband is Assistant Treasurer of the NB Electrical Power Commission.


Of the boys of Samuel B Orser, Thomas Rainsford married Harriet A Britton, John married Augusta Campbell (second wife Melissa Shaw), Samuel married Attie Mooers, Charles married down in the state of Georgia, USA, and two other sons, Ludlow and Ward, died in childhood.


George W Orser, son of William Orser, and a brother of Samuel B Orser, began to preach at the age of 15 years, was married to Miss Abigal [sic] Shaw at the age of 20 and was ordained as a minister that same year. He was one of the greatest ministers ever born, or ordained, in this province. He had a son, Elijah, who was also a gifted minister of the Gospel. Rev Charles H Orser, a son of Edward Orser, was also a minister of the Primitive Church and wrote a good account of the life of George W Orser; it is a book much loved by all members of the Primitive Baptist Church.


George W Orser was the father of twin boys, Enoch and Elijah; Enoch died young but Elijah married Miss Margaret Mallory and they had five children: Mary married William Cogswell, Annie Jane married Arthur Hooper (who died and left her a widow, now living at Fort Fairfield, age over 90 years), Lois married Fred Clark. Two sons, Whitfield and David lived in Florida.


Rainsford Orser and his wife had a large family; they first lived at what is now Carlisle, afterwards in Colorado. Their family was: Weston who married Minnie Patterson, Adelia who married John Weed of Vermont, George R who married Sarah Steel of Vermont, Hannah who married Moses Turner, May, twin of Hannah, married Charles Laskey of Lowell Mass, Samuel who married H M Good still lives in the State of Washington, USA, Eva Alberta who married Frank Thomas, Trecia who married Joseph Babcock, Henry Ward who married Wilhemina Evans, Jessie Louise who married Ralph Burrough, Arthur who married Mary Wallman, Guy P who lives in the New England States.


John Orser, son of Samuel B Orser, and his first wife had three children: Oakley who married Sophia Hanson, Georgia who married Murray Hill and Nettie who married Manzer Day.


The children of the second marriage were: Maude, married first to Eugene Day, second to George Wallace and third to Rainsford Libby; Clara, married to Herbert H Hanson; Allan J, married to Sadie Coffey; Lottie, married to Harvey Jones first, second to Coley Craig.


Samuel Orser, son of Samuel B Orser, married Attie Moores [Mooers ?] and they had one daughter, Frances (Frankie) Orser who married Walter Whitney. They live in Lowell, Mass USA, and have two daughters: Bertha who married Al Frost (who was born in Knowlesville, NB), now they live in Roslindale, Mass, and the other daughter, Barbara, is not married yet but lives with her parents. Mr Samuel Orser died after Frankie was born and his wife then married Edward Thomas of Lowell.


Samuel B Orser’s first son, Fred, married Phoebe Bishop and their daughter, Annie, married John Grant. She is now a widow but lives on their old farm at Kilburn, NB.





Samuel B Orser’s daughter, Trecia H M Orser, married James A Barter of Avondale. They first began married life on the North Branch of the Becaguimac River, the settlement now known as Carlisle, but soon returned to Avondale, his boyhood home. (Mr Barter was a farmer and carpenter, the son of James M Barter from West Saint John who helped found the village of Avondale. They were the first settlers there in 1855.) James A and Trecia Barter had 11 children; 3 died while young but 7 sons and one daughter lived to marry (Charlotte L, James, Samuel, William, John, Allan, Percy and Harry). James Barter passed away at 87 years and Mrs Barter at 67.


The youngest son of Samuel B Orser, Charles, went south to Georgia and married Miss Maggie Driggers. They had 5 children: Irene George Orser who married James A Jones and lives in Fitzgerald, GA, Maggie Mary who married Mr Reiner Heinen of New Orleans, LA, Maude Orser Youngblood living in New Orleans, LA, Charles Ludlow who has a family of 4 sons and 2 daughters, Ransford, living in Georgia, Henry, living in Alabama, Charles (who lives in the ship-shaped house at St Simonds, GA) and J D Orser, the fourth son, is unmarried (he served 4 years during World War II in the US Navy).


His eldest daughter died young. Inez married J A Henningsgard of Inglewood, CA. Irene married James A Jones 49 years ago next October 20th and they have three children: James Derrick Jones, living at Colorado Springs, CO, who is married and has threes children (Nancy Margaret, age 20, Patricia Louise, 16, and James, age 9 years). Joseph A Jones, a captain in the US Army 97th Bomb Wing, Hq Texas, not married, 35 years of age. Daughter Irene Louise Jones married Lee Whitmire of Hendersonville, NC, and died April 6, 1932, leaving one son Robert Lee who is learning to be a lawyer in college now.





We are all interested in houses these days. A house that is different is owned by Charles Orser of Georgia. Mr Orser is a great-great-grandson of William Orser… [The account of this house in the shape of a ship, mentioned in the previous chapter, goes on for another three pages and is not really relevant to the rest of this story, so I will move on. CR]





I have given in former parts of this history the early settlement of this family and I was anxious to have it printed so the young of the family, and the ones not yet born, might look back on their fore-parents. I have carefully searched out the past history and I do not know any families more closely connected by inter-marriage than the Orsers, Shaws and Craigs, as this historical account shows.


The Orser family is widely scattered as I find Samuel D Orser, son of the late William Orser who first settled Hartland (yes, first white settler there) on a visit to New York state about 1881; found Stephen Orser, the warden of Sing Sing Prison. And to show that Orsers still live in New York, I will add two items from New York papers:


“Funeral of Capt Orser. Henry Orser’s funeral service in St Paul’s Church, with Rev Lynwood Smith officiating, pallbearers: Major John J Burns, George Ellis, Richard Nicolas, W D West. A large delegation of Masons attended. The service at the grave was performed by Charles L Hutchins, Worshipful Master. Capt Henry Orser died May 13, 1945.”


“William E Orser of Millwood, NY, recently died in the hospital at Ossining, NY, at the age of 60. Mr Orser was formerly president of Millwood Fire Department. He leaves a widow, Mrs Edith Young Orser, 3 sons: Herbert, William and Kenneth, and a daughter, Mrs Arthur Tompkins, of Ossining, NY.” (Taken from the New York Times)


Ossining, NY is the name of the town in which Sing Sing Prison is situated. The above two death items bring to mind that the Orser Family is represented largely in New York yet. The statement of Mr William E Orser’s death ended by saying, “This will be of interest to many in New Brunswick who are descendents of William Orser, a Loyalist who went to New Brunswick in 1783 from Ossining, NY.”


I have written this history realizing I am “up in years” and I am a great grandson of William Orser, the first white settler at Hartland, and I felt the younger generation of this sturdy old gentleman would appreciate an account of their family -- also the Shaws, Craigs and others who have inter-married and are descendents of this Orser family. I have given a true account of the older ones of the family and each branch can carry on their attachment of the family.





After carefully studying the Orser family and feeling that, as the Craig and Shaw families were so inter-mixed by marriage and birth, I should go back and state some more particulars of the early history, mentioning shared events.


To begin, when our Orser forefather came as a Loyalist from New York to what was Parrtown (later named Saint John as it was at the mouth of the noble Saint John River), he found some settlers already there and met a Miss Craig whom he married. Now this Craig family had come to this place and by the records we find James Craig. His forefathers were of Scots descent but came from the North of Ireland to Massachusetts then, as Loyalists, came to New Brunswick. Mr Craig received a grant of land (as No. 983) on August 14, 1784.


A Christopher Blake had settled at Reed’s Point on the Saint John River and James Craig married his daughter, Mary Blake. (She was born at Reed’s Point in 1772.) They had six children. After Mr Craig died, she married Mr William Orser whose first wife, Miss Craig (sister of Mrs Blake’s first husband) had also died.


Now I will add a fact of an historical event. Some 50 years ago, my brother James and his wife (formerly Ida Dyer), as well as Edith, the sister of my wife (formerly Lottie Wallace) and I had a hunting trip up the Tobique River and on up to the Wapske River. Ten miles up the latter river is a plain, about 20 acres of flat plain known as the Stewart Plain, with here and there a large tree on the south side of the Wapske.


Old settlers told us how it received its name. In the year 1780, the Indians raided the settlers along the Saint John River down near Saint John and a little girl (as near as I can find out she was the Mary Blake who first married to Mr James Craig then to Mr William Orser) was lost: no one knew where the child was or whether she was dead or alive. A few years after she was lost, peace was made between the British and the Americans (who had been granted their independence). The Indians had a village just below the ferry between St Ann’s (now Fredericton) and St Mary’s Ferry, so called, on the east side of the river.


Each spring the up-river Indians would come down after the ice ran out and bring down their furs to trade them out with the traders for things that they needed. This particular year, a trader had opened a store on the east side of the ferry. (To this day, the long made-road of stone that led out for a long way from the east end of the ferry can be seen plainly -- just above the bridge. There is a store there yet; I do not know the name of the first trader but the Bowlin Bros now do business there.)


When the Indians had done most of their trading there and were about to go back up-river, one of the chiefs came back to the store and wanted more liquor. But he had only a Church of England prayer book (with silver caps on the corners) and he held out the book saying “How much?” The trader took the book and inside the cover saw the name written there -- the family of the lost girl -- so he gave the Indian what he wanted for the book and went over at once to St Ann’s and showed it to the officers there.


Nova Scotia had once covered all that is New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. New Brunswick had been formed into a province and the Government had been established at what had been called St Ann but was now re-named Fredericton. A Captain of the Rangers who had been granted land up there near the new place of government at once advised the trader to return across the river and to try and keep the Indians there for a few days more. He would take a party of Rangers up the river and find the girl, if possible, as it was quietly rumoured by friendly Indians that a young white girl was up there. The Captain told the trader to tell the Indians that his birthday was coming and he would like of them to stay and help celebrate; he would pass out drinks. The Indians stayed and Capt Stewart and his party departed up-river in a longboat.


They reached the Indian village at the mouth of the Tobique River about night-time. All the able-bodied Indians were still away. Capt Stewart made a good look and enquiry for the missing girl but did not find her. There was another village up the Tobique at the mouth of the Wapske, so up went the captain but a young Indian runner had gone post-haste overland and gave the alarm as that was where the girl was. So before the Rangers reached the village, the girl was taken 10 miles up the Wapske River to another village where the plain is.


Capt Stewart left the big boat at Wapske mouth as that river was too shallow and rapid a stream for it. Leaving a guard with the boat, he and a party followed the Wapske up to the big plain crossing two brooks (the first, Beaver Brook, and a mile or more over a raise of ground, Over Rock Brook). There the Indians tried to stop the Rangers but as all the older able-bodied men were away -- leaving only the old people, too aged to go down-river, and children and women -- they soon brushed the Indians away and there found the girl.


Down the Tobique, they ran the Red Rapids but, as they approached the Narrows, they had to prepare for trouble. The rock cliffs rise so high on both banks of the Narrows that, if the Indians knew they had the girl, they could stop them or hurl arrows, rocks or gunfire. So the Rangers had her lay flat in the bottom of the boat and threw blankets, and what light stuff they had, over her. When the Indians saw them approach, Capt Stewart called to them, still asking about the girl. The Indians thought he had not yet found her so they let the boat pass through the Narrows ans they brought her down with them.


As near as I can find out, she was Mary Blake and this is one reason that Mr and Mrs Orser (who first came and settled at the mouth of the Becaguimac) got along so well with the Indians. She knew their ways, could speak to them and aid them. In the case of sickness with their children and women, she helped and they looked up to her as one who was wise while Mr Orser was stern and honourable with them.


There is a store now at the same place in St Mary’s Ferry opposite Fredericton, and some 50-odd years ago, I was acquainted with the gentleman who was keeping store. I asked him if he ever heard the story about Capt Stewart and he told me the same story as the old people at the mouth of the Wapske. Mr Bowlin was about 70 years of age when he told me the story and his sons still have the store.





William Orser had one son, George, a Minister of the Gospel who was an able, eloquent server of God and the founder of the Primitive Baptist Church. Rev Moses P Orser (a son of J Moses Orser), Rev Charles Orser (son of Edward Orser) and Rev George Elijah Orser (son of the Rev George W Orser) make three ministers of the grandsons of the said William Orser.


To end this short history of our Orser family, I will add a few items showing the family is still taking part in our country’s affairs. A Neil McLean is a Senator; Lorne and Ercel Orser (sons of Nevers Orser) run a garage and farm implement branch at Hartland and Ercel Orser has been on the Town Council, an alderman for many years. Percy C Barter (grandson of Samuel B Orser) was taker of the Census for 1951 for the Town of Hartland.


I have tried to gather the history of the family so the young members of the Orser family, and relatives, can look back on the history of their grandparents -- to know who they were, and that they were Loyalists -- and can tell their children of whom they have descended.


I thank my daughter Jane B Allen, my cousin Annie McLean Caldwell and my cousin Irene Jones for helping me get the facts for this family history. Mrs Annie Southam, Hartland, daughter of Mrs Minnie Orser White and grand-daughter of the Rev Moses P Orser, for the loan of the original grant from the Crown to William Orser. My daughter, Florence Barter Lees, for typing for me.


I ask pardon of any I may have neglected to mention and would add that the cemetery used by our first Orsers is still owned by the sons of Frances Orser McLean (A Neil and Allan McLean). They have erected a memorial stone in the cemetery and on it is engraved “In memory of William Orser, born in 1762, died 1854; Mary Blake Orser, born 1772, died 1856”. Also at Black’s Harbour, the Baptist Church was built and dedicated as a memorial to Frances Orser McLean by her sons.


May this Short History of the Orser Family be a memory of the writer, Samuel G Barter, son of James A and Trecia Orser Barter. I am now over 80 years of age and would like the younger descendents of this branch of the old Orser family to have a history of our ancestors.


Samuel G Barter

Corrections to this story? Please email me.

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 Posted January 2005