Submitted by Pamela Miller -
Letter written to W. A. Miller from Cairns MacCallum, 10 Aug 1965
This letter was written Cairns MacCallum to Pamela Miller's mother, Winifred Blatchley Miller dated 10 Aug 1965.
Cairnes’ lineage is as follows:
1. Neil and Catherine (MacKay) McCallum to PEI in 1771
2. Duncan and Jannet (Gregor) McCallum
3. Neil and Rebecca (Bovyer) McCallum
4. John B. and Mary (McCallum) McCallum (daughter of Peter McCallum,
St. Peters Bay)
5. Edward and [Mary Cairns?]McCallum
6. Cairns McCallum
Pamela’s great-great grandfather, Stephen McCallum was a brother to 4. John McCallum. Stephen’s wife was Miriam Louisa McCallum, sister to 4. Mary McCallum, daughters of Peter McCallum, St. Peters Bay)
The Old Fourty Niners:
Aug. 10, 1865
Never was the human family more stirred than by the discovery of gold in California in the year of 1848 from all parts people swarmed to the Western Shore of America with one objective in view — gold. Those first on the ground had great success and the news of the big find and large nuggets set the world almost crazy. Some time in the summer of 1849 a letter came to Charlottetown from California giving tales of success --- the writer himself in eight days cleared 800.00 dollars.
A meeting was called --- speeches delivered and plans made at length. James Peaks, who operated a ship at Charlottetown offered to sell his brig, Fanny of two hundred tons for $4,000.00.
After much consultation a company of forty six persons was formed and the Brig Fanny was purchased, the Captain was Alexander Irving (Master), W. M. Smith 1st Mate, Fred Compton 2nd Mate, six sailors and a dog supplies were put on board to last three years. I am not clear as to the exact number of P. E. Islanders who went from Charlottetown to Calif. on the Brig Fanny however on Nov. 12 th 1849 was appointed for the expectation to sail.
The day was calm almost like June. On Sunday the subject was referred to in all city churches, where prayers were offered in behalf of the Argonauts and for the success of their mission. According to what I have learned the Fanny was sort of a Bethel at Sea. The Company held divine service twice each Sunday. The sermons read from a book: directional singing and prayers by those willing to take part in the worship. The cargo consisted of frames for three large houses, ready to set up and materials to finish them. Five hundred feet of pine boards were laid on the quarter deck and a five ton cedar boat was placed on blocks amid-ship fastened so securely that it never budged during the voyage.
It took nearly eight months to make the voyage. As the vessel neared San Francisco harbor there was dense fog and when it lifted the harbor seemed a forest of masts. The number estimated at five hundred. On going ashore the Company was bewildered at the sight meeting them. Gambling houses the length of whole blocks with tables from end to end, covered with treasure. Some tables their outer circle lined by silver dollars.
The Company now broke in Parties some going to the mines— others taking up other employment. They were not long in the country when news reached them of the gold fields of Australia. Giving glowing accounts of there riches, and not satisfied with the California outlook a number went away— some of whom were never afterwards heard tell of the Fanny was late in arriving, ( then?) wages was falling as supply approached the demand.
Some three years from the start those of the Company who had not died or gone to Australia returned home.
( Then) those considered successful brought home no more than moderate wages, owing to the want of sanitary conditions people were dying at San Francisco with small pox and the cholera. The bodies of the victims being dumped into holes where convenient.
Captain Irving was among those who died. He was at the mine for one month. Came back to San Francisco where he was seized with cholera and died shortly after. I may add I had a grand uncle Stephen McCallum by names who was a member of the Company who went from Charlottetown to California on the Brig Fanny. He Stephen was one very interested in trees he would cut from different origins a chip drying it and placing the name there for.
Stephen had a son who in 1898 went to the Klondike. My great great great grand parents in the person of Neil Mc Callum and spouse Catherine MacKay came to P. E. I. in the year of 1771. He, Neil and Catherine came from Argyleshire, Scotland. Neil having a grant of land from King James III. At that period of time there were but six smokes a term used for house where now the little City of Charlottetown is situated. One thing that impressed those early settlers were the fine marsh lands that bordered along the north shore and where they in that era used to cut marsh hay. This generation fish mackerel as long since the mighty works have washed away DELETE said marsh lands.
Neil and his spouse Catherine MacKay rest in the old cemetery at Stanhope, now part of the National Park. There are a number of old ornamental trees indicating old settlers had lived nearly.
Duncan, son of Neil and Catherine married Janett Gregor. Two of their family being James and Nell MacCallum. The later married Rebecca Bovyer. James, his spouse was Matilda Gregor. Nell, son of Duncan was the first son of British blood born in Lot 33. The time of the passing of Neil and Catherine McKay I771. NOTE We do not have a record of the death of Neil McCallum. We do find the death of Catherine MacKay McCallum in "An Early History of Brackley Point" by the late Hubert McCallum, with notes by Blythe Hurst, Brackley Beach, 1950 "……in 1790, when Catherine McKay, mother of Duncan McCallum died at Oyster Bed Bridge....her body had to be conveyed by means of canoe across Rustico Bay through the Narrows, in the Brackley Point harbor out of which the canoe then passed into the Gulf and from the Gulf into Long Pond, which was near Stanhope Cemetery, where the body was interred...".
Brackley Point Cemetery was not in existence. In this old Cemetery at Stanhope there are a number of early French settlers underneath its sod. There bodies being brought from as far east as St. Peters bay. Also six victims of what was called the "Yankee Gale of 1851.
No event in the history of P E.I. approaches the Yankee Gale in destructive effect. The catastrophe being so named owing to the property and lives destroyed having mostly belonged to the States of New England. Some two generations have passed since the storm and only a few of those now in life's whirl have a correct idea of the destruction. The men of New England early discovered the valuable fisheries of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the industry was at its greatest expansion at time of the storm. The vessels employed were from sixty to one hundred tons. When the gale had abated the sight along shore was appalling, a windrow of wreckage piled up along the shore. All except sixty vessels were broken so completely as to be indistinguishable, the number destroyed being estimated by the piles of material.
There were great numbers of fish loose and in barrels, sails partly covered in the sand. Bodies that came ashore were in the nude, there garments being washed off in the terrible conflict. When the dead were gathered up they were placed into barns in preparation for burial. The population of some church yards having been increased by one dozen. It was estimated that the gale in question made eighty widows and left fatherless three hundred children. There were bodies that came ashore weeks after the storm. The whole number of vessels stranded along the shore they considered at around seventy-four and the number of lives lost at one hundred and sixty. Some vessels had gone down with all they contained, in conclusion let moderation curb your greed ambition drives to senseless wrong rebellion bottoms our need the world is your but not for long.
Respectfully Cairns MacCallum