The Diary of Abraham Gill


Provided by: Dave Campbell - tinadave@isnwireless.ca

Dave is also researching the Jury and Court families. He has provided this document, a copy of a letter passed down through his family. It is a bit amusing to modern eyes, and some of the sentence structure is a bit unusual, but it gives a picture of what it would have been like for single men emigrating to Little York, and indeed, to all of Prince Edward Island in the early 1800's.


Abraham Gill - Born December 18th, 1790.

Extracts from Diary written Dec. 16, 1870. By A. Gill, Sr.

Dear Children:

Having of late an impression on my mind that I shall not be much longer in this world, I thought I would write a few lines of my experience coming through this sinful world. The first, that my father and mother sent me to school to read the Bible, some of which I have in memory still, thank God for it. Since leaving school I have been tempest lost both in body and mind, but out of all the Lord hath brought me to the present time. The first heavy trial, the death of my sister. Next came the death of my mother - these were dear earthly friends. About this time I expected my father would do something for me that I might have a home of my own. I was then 25 years old but when I applied for some help from him, which he had plenty both money and cattle, he got into an enrage and declared that I was at first to get nothing and that got up a row, and then I said if you would give me £60 I would try to get my living in some other part of the world, and would not trouble him any more, so with much angry words and bad feelings, with the advice of my brother-in-law, he was persuaded to give me £35 and then to seek a home in some foreign land, so good Providence directed me to Prince Edward Island where the Lord has blessed me body and soul.

I did not at that time understand the Almighty power God has over us. At the time of leaving my native home, little thought I was bidding my kindred and acquaintance all this time, but God’s ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts as our thoughts, so bidding them farewell, so I went off at once to Devon Port to get a passage, there was a large bark there belonging to Mr. Pope about to start in a few days. I had to go home for a few things to take with me. I asked the captain what he would charge for board and passage, he said he would if I mess with the men, for £6 as I had to go home first. He expected to get half then but I did not know whether I could. When I arrived at Devon Port the vessel was just on her way out of sight, and I hired a man and his boat to put after them and the captain seeing we were making after them, hove too the vessel till I was safe on board, but the tossing of the boat made me very sick for three days I thought I should of died in an unprepared state. We left England April 15th 1819, and arrived Prince Edward Island 15th of June among strangers except Mr. Harvies family. I then began to enquire if there was a piece of land that I could get in the neighborhood: he said go to the agent, and he will let you know, and he said there was a piece of land, which I now occupy. Having obtained a piece of land, I began by the help of the Lord, to earn a living by the sweat of my brow, although late in the season I planted some potatoes among the windfalls and stumps, not many cattle that time so I made a rough fence and they grew well. I put them in a pit for the winter.

I hired for a month for the harvest. Donald McDonald, Tracadie, for £3 a month. The board and lodging was very different to what I had been accustomed to. I labored for many there who paid me in horse labor. I was now lodging at Mr. Harvies, the first winter, in their loft and after a snow storm I had to shake off the snow before I put could put my clothes on. The Lord was very merciful toward me for I was not prepared at that time to leave this world for I did not understand the plan of salvation in Christ my Saviour. Soon as the winter began to set in to get timber to build a house the coming summer, so I worked away at it through the winter, quite a new thing that I was not accustomed to. I dressed the largest of trees in the wood and some of my neighbours hauled them out, and in the month of April 1820 we began to build on the land I had cleared, about 2 acres. Malcolm Forbes plowed it for me and it produced a very good crop for once plowing. The house we built was 30 feet by 18 - this is something of the past. Log house built and covered in, two windows, 12 door, 10 paneled, and then I went into the swamp for moss to put between the logs to keep out the cold, and now I began to think I had a home so I left Mr. Harvies to live in my own house to labor for myself and others all that summer, and to get along in the best manner I could, but good Providence was over me which I did not understand at that time, to take care of me or otherwise I should be lost forever.

It was good Providence which sent out a young women, that I had never seen or heard of in England, was going to see her Uncle at Antigonish, who coming with a family intending to winter on the Island and go over in the spring, so God sees different to what we see. So it came to pass in the fall of the year this family came to Charlottetown and from that to Georgetown. There was one of the passengers brought out a letter for Mr. Harvie, and he came to see me, so we talked till almost dark, he said he would lodge with me for the night - I said, “Very plain accommodations for a stranger, you should have brought a young person to help me”, and I believe there is. “What is her name?” He gave me her name. “Where is she from?” Exeter. I thought a young lady from such a gay city would not be happy to make a home in the wilderness. I asked the man how long she would be in Charlottetown; he said two or three days. “Do you think I could see her before she goes to Georgetown or Antigonish?” He said if I would go with him tomorrow he would take me to her lodgings, so next morning off we goes to town and went to where a family she came out with so we knocked at the door and asked to see Elizabeth, and the old man after the old Devonshire way of talking, said, “I have brought you together make what you can of it.” We were taken by surprise on the start by this audience as she was so lately come and her mistress looking after her had no time to spare for talk then, so I said, “If you come to Charlottetown before you go to your Uncle’s at Antigonish will you come and see the locality?” - so we parted without any further conversation for the present. There were some emigrants came in the same vessel who were living in town about Christmas. I was in town and enquired if the young lady had gone over. They had just received a letter that she was coming to town for the remainder of the winter - it was then the latter end of January, and before she hired in town, came to see Little York in the year 1821, so we made up our minds to be joined in Holy Matrimony on the 7th of February - for better, for worse, for richer, or poorer, in sickness or health until Death doth us part, which was by God’s goodness 42 years and about 2 months and God knows that lifted neither hand nor foot to do her any harm.

So I believe it was in the order of God’s goodness for us both for body and soul - we did not understand the plan of salvation by our Saviour Jesus Christ and His Resurrection from the dead, and his coming into this world to save us poor sinners.

About this time we had some neighbours that came from Yorkshire, England, that were Methodists and they commenced prayer meetings in their house, and then ministers of the Gospel came to preach to us, and we thought it was strange at first to see ministers preach in houses after we found there was something required of us we did not understand.

At that time from 1821 to 1825 we were without a well of water, so I consulted with my wife what to do to get water, so we agreed to try what could be done, so I commenced to dig so far as I could throw out, so now we must have a windlass and a box. I said to my wife, “If you would help me to wind up the clay and stones which I think we can with a double rope on the windlass” - so in 21 days we got the water. What a great blessing and from that time, this was always a good supply. So from 1821 to 1851, we were living like many others without God and without hope in this world. In the year 1830, God did infinite Mercy visit Little York with outpourings of His holy spirit in answer to prayer and a blessed time we had, never to be forgotten - many that did believe in Christ, are now with Him in Heaven where I long to be with them. I am waiting the Lord’s will be done. My dear wife was taken from me in March 1864, after a long and painful sickness, which she bore with great patience to her dear Saviour. Well, my bereavement is everlasting gain. I hope soon also to be relieved from the burden of flesh, and be forever more with the Lord, free from this world of grief and sin. Hallelujah - no more sickness nor pain - come Children and neighbors to Christ, and we shall find rest to our Souls. You must be converted - that is an internal change wrought by the power of God in the inner man. Whoever comes to Christ must believe he is a rewarder of all that seek him, we must know Satan is a hard master to serve so it is a matter of choice which we serve.

Abraham Gill, born December 18th , 1790

Elizabeth Tanner Gill, born July 11th, 1791, Tostie near Barnstable, Devonshire, England.


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