Thursday, April 17, 2014

St Patrick's Cemetery - Ship Cove

Just down the road from Ship Cove, is St Patrick's Cemetery.  I had never been to this cemetery before, but I had done some research through the Newfoundland Grand Banks Genealogy Site. So I knew,  I would find my grandmother's family,  Tobin, Follett and Coffey relatives buried here.  Also, I had this photo of Great Grand Dad Tobin standing by his wife's headstone, Mary Bridget Follett.

My time on "The Cape Shore" was limited, needing to get back to St John's by early afternoon and the weather was not very cooperative this day. ( I will tell you about Newfoundland weather a little later!) Today, it was raining and the wind was fiercely blowing, I thought having had lived in Chicago which is considered to be "The Windy City" would of helped prepare me for the wind in Newfoundland. But the wind in Newfoundland is much more intense than in Chicago! Being so close to the shore and being on an island in the Atlantic Ocean makes the wind much more prominent, I guess.

Aunt Doris found it hard to believe that I was stopping and actually getting out to take a look around the cemetery, she decided to stay in the truck and make a list of things she needed to do instead. I quickly made a plan, starting in the front on one side, heading toward the back and then coming back up the other side. I found a few familiar headstones, but not nearly the all the ones I wanted to. Dripping wet from head to toe, I headed back to the truck, disappointed I had not found my Great Grandparents, The Tobins, The image of Great Grand Dad standing by his wife's headstone flashed in my head. Remembering the shape of her headstone,  I turned and took one more look back at the cemetery, and there it was, over to the left of center!  I went back and I was right, Mary Bridget Follett and next to her, was her husband John W. Tobin, my Great Grandparents!

St Patrick's Cemetery, Ship Cove, Newfoundland - May 2013
Looking over the photos I took at the cemetery, I realized there were not any of older generations, John William Tobin was the third generation of the Tobins to live in Ship Cove.  John and Alice Skerry (the first settlers), Patrick Tobin and Alice Skerry Tobin, and Patrick Tobin and Alice O'Rielly.  I realize they may of had wooden cross marking their graves that at deteriorated over the years.  But I wonder, if possibly there is an older cemetery I may of over looked.

John W. Tobin
Mary Bridget Follett Tobin

A Headstone of a "Patrick Tobin" that had sunk into the ground
making it difficult to read.

As I was walking back to the truck, I thought, I am probably related to most of the people buried in St Patrick's Cemetery in one way or another, but that will need to be figured out the next time I return to "The Cape Shore"!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Great Grand Dad Tobin

John William Tobin 1874 - 1960 was my Great Grand Dad on my mother's maternal side.  He was born December 1st, 1874 in Ship Cove, Placentia Bay Newfoundland.  He was the youngest of ten children to Patrick Tobin and Agnes O'Rielly (from Dunville, NFLD)

"John Willie" married Mary Bridget Follett "Minnie" from Angel's Cove (the next town south of Ship Cove) around the year 1900. They raised seven children, Patrick Joseph, George (who died at age 7), Ellen Mary (my grandmother), James Joseph, Mary Christine, Agnes and Margaret Lucy.

Not many people get to meet their Great Grandparents in their lifetime or if they do they are so young they hardly remember very much about them. My Great Grand Dad died March 11th, 1960, the year before I was born. He was 86 years old and had       lived his entire life in Ship Cove.

I learned a few things about my Great Grand Dad from my cousin Edna during my recent visit to Newfoundland. "John Willie" was actually her Grand Dad, Edna's mother Margaret was his youngest child.

Edna shared with me that after Grandmother Tobin passed away in 1948, Grand Dad came to stay with them in Point Verde during the winter months.  She was just a young girl but remembers he always had a mustache.  As children, they were fascinated by his mustache and wanted to touch it. As they would slowly reach up to his face, Grand Dad would snap his hand at them trying to catch their hand. And so, the game became his game!

Edna told me, fishing was his livelihood, he learned to fish from his father, who learned from his father as well.

Edna described Grand Dad as a quiet man, she remembers he would always play the Tin Whistle and was really pretty good at it.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Ship Cove, NFLD

Ship Cove, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland - May 2013

In 1794 the first settler of Ship Cove, Placentia Bay Newfoundland was a man named John Skerry.  He came to Ship Cove with his wife Alice, and two young daughters, Catherine age 8 and Alice age 6, from Blackwater, County Waterford, Ireland.  Within a few years Patrick Tobin from Wexford, Ireland and James Brennan from Fadown, Ireland, landed at Placentia and made their way to Ship Cove.

The Skerry dwelling house was built on a level of land that had a current of fresh water running through.  The house was studded and had three small windows, a porch, two bedrooms upstairs, two bedrooms downstairs, and a rock chimney. [1]

My connection to Ship Cove is from Patrick Tobin who married John Skerry's youngest daughter Alice, they had five daughters and three sons, Patrick built his house in the southeast corner of Ship Cove.

The Southeast Corner in Ship Cove -  May 2013
My Tobin Family History is as follows:
                                     Patrick Tobin - Alice Skerry (one of the first settlers)
                                       (unknown)        1788-1838
                                                Patrick Tobin - Agnes O'Rielly
                                                   1826-1914        1828-1887
                                                           John William Tobin - Mary Bridget Follett
                                                                 1874-1960                1874-1948
                                                                        Ellen Mary Tobin - Stephen Flynn Jr. (My Grandparents)
                                                                              1904-1987           1895-1981

By the early 1900's, the population of Ship Cove was 52 residents, the first school was built in 1909. My grandmother Ellen, was born in 1904 and was probably one of the first students to attend the school. she continued her education and became a teacher herself. (I am not sure where she taught school)  In 1914, Ship Cove had a thriving fishing Industry.  The first motor boats were being used and there were ten boats and approximately twenty fisherman.  Although Cod was the main species, some tired their luck at Lobster and for several years two men from Nova Scotia, Johnny Snares and Jesse Masters, operated a Lobster canning factory in Ship Cove.

By 1935, the population had increased slightly to 66 in 12 families with 11 dories and four motorboats. The 49 acres supported 10 horses and 30 cattle.  There were also two factories, and blueberries, partridge berries and cranberries were collected on the barrens.  The first bridge was built in 1937. [2]

Gradually, the fishery came to an end, and Ship Cove was mostly abandoned in the 1960's and 70's   Many young men left Ship Cove to seek work in the lumber woods or at the US Naval Base in Argentia.  [3] 

Today, there are two remaining families in Ship Cove, descendants of first Patrick Tobin. Stan Tobin and one of his sons, they operate a Slater house that produces organic beef.  Mr. Tobin's wife, Delores operated a Creamery for many years, which was recently sold. [4]  

On the west side of the road there was one older home still standing, my guess is it was probably built around the early 1900's, around the time fishing was thriving in this community.  Across the road, was the newer home and business of my distant Tobin cousin, he was not home at the time I was in Ship Cove, so I just took a look around and admired the beautiful picturesque view.  I walked up the road a bit from his house and found this wood studded foundation. I remember my cousin Edna telling me that my great grandparents house ( John Willie Tobin and Mary Follett) had been moved and then burn down, but that was many years ago.

After my blog entry "The Tobins", I received a message from a second cousin Monica, she states her mother was Mary Tobin daughter of Patrick Tobin 1901 - 1982 (My Great Uncle) and Hilda McGrath.  She recognized her Great Grandparent's photo of John and Mary Tobin, I had posted and she shared, "I fished in the lagoon, caught eels and trout there.  My grandfather Patrick, ran the store and the post office in Ship Cove." Uncle Ray had shared a story of how my grandmother  (Ellen Tobin Flynn) talked about how as children they always played in the river by their house. It was their job to pick the berries.

As a young girl, I remember driving from Argentia to Ship Cove, I was sitting in the back of the car on the right side, as we came in I remember seeing the flakes and stages set up in the cove, I asked," What was that, what are they doing?" I was told "that is how they dry the fish".

Fishing and farming established by my ancestors is still carried out on this land today.


[1]  Cape Shore Cultural History      pages 12 & 13

[2]  History of Ship Cove

[3] Ibid [1]

[4] The Compass - Ship Cove Resident talks life, work, philosophy

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Visit to Point Verde, NFLD

After visiting Argentia, on the Western Shore of the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland, we continued down Hwy 100, just a little south of Placentia to the town of Point Verde.  My mother's cousin Edna lived in Point Verde, as did her mother Margaret and father William Greene.  Great Aunt Margaret Tobin Greene was my grandmother Ellen Tobin Flynn's younger sister.

My grandmother, Aunt Margaret and their family grew up just south of Point Verde in Ship Cove, Newfoundland.

It was a beautiful, cool crisp spring day in Newfoundland when I caught up with my cousin at her home in Point Verde.  Edna and her husband Eugene were just coming back from a sailing/fishing trip to Merasheen Island.  They invited us in for some hot tea and fruitcake. (Traditional Newfoundland Hospitality)

Edna and I
Point Verde Newfoundland - May 2013
View from Edna's House in Point Verde
looking out toward Placentia Bay

Patrick Tobin's House
Ship Cove, NFLD

Lt to Rt My grandmother Ellen, her brother Patrick Tobin,
his second wife Fanny and Great Aunt Margaret
Ship Cove - 1966's?

I found the above photos in my mother's collection. I remember the photo on the left specifically, I remember going to visit Uncle Patrick and his wife Fanny in Ship Cove that day, I was just a young girl about 5 or 6 years old. It is nice to have a photo of my grandmother's family. I showed Edna the photo of the house (on the right) that I believed to be my Great Grandparent's House,  John and Mary Follett Tobin, Edna informed me that that was not their house, but their son Patrick's. She goes on to say, that my Great Grandparents house had been moved and then burned down, they then lived in Patrick's House. 

I asked Edna if her mother ever talked about what it was like growing up in Ship Cove, she replied, "My mother never talked much about the old days, except for how hard they always had to work for everything.  She did not talk about the past nor about bad things that had happened in her life. It was just how she was, it was how most of the older folks were!" Edna also told me,  Aunt Margaret did not like when anyone would come around asking questions about genealogy, she would often ask, "What do you need to know that for?"

Wedding Day - abt 1945
William Greene and Margaret Tobin
Painting of Aunt Margaret and Uncle Willy's House
 hanging in Edna's House
Point Verde, Newfoundland

Site of Aunt Margaret and Uncle Willie's House
Point Verde, Newfoundland 2013
Margaret Lucy Tobin Greene was born March 15th, 1915 in Ship Cove, NFLD, she was the youngest of eight children to John William Tobin and Mary Bridget Follett, she married William Greene in 1945, they raised 4 children in Point Verde, NFLD,  William died in 1978, he developed Leukemia and died of a Heart Attack. After William's death, she lived with her daughter Edna and her family for 22 years,  helping to care for her grandchildren. Edna states her mother was a bit of a "Homebody" she took one big trip in her life to visit her sisters in New York, when she returned she said "I had a great time, but will never do that again." Aunt Margaret died December 24th, 2000 of Bladder Cancer at the age of 85 years.

My mother often spoke lovingly of Aunt Margaret and was very fond of her. I remember visiting her as a young girl and playing out in her garden.  After my conversation with Edna, I wonder what Aunt Margaret would think of me, asking so many questions about the past? I guess the response I would give her, is that, family history matters, our ancestor's lives and the work they did was important. It  paved the way for our future. And, I would really like to know about them!

Next stop, Ship Cove, Newfoundland.