Letter by Rev. Peter Melville, New Kincardine Colony, New Brunswick, Sept. 11, 1877 Published in the Rothesay Chronicle and Buteshire and West Coast Advertiser, Oct. 13, 1877

The following letter written by our former townsman and Parish Church missionary, the Rev. Peter Melville, M. A., B. D., to The New Brunswick Reporter, will be read with interest by his many friends in Rothesay:—

Mr. Editor:—You and your readers will be pleased to hear that this Scottish Colony is making good progress. The crops are very good, (excepting hay,) and are likely to be gathered in safety, without frost or snow. This gives new courage to the Colonists, as this is the first year that they had a really good harvest since their arrival. They have had good crops indeed, year after year; but the frosts of August and September blighted them, and the rains and snow of October did not improve them. You will understand, therefore, the joy we feel in finding our crops ripening well on every side for the first time, and already half the harvest secured. This is partly owing to the early spring; but partly a’an to the enlarged clearings made by the Colonists. Now that the forests are opened up far and wide, so as to expose large fields and slopes to the fresh winds and genial sun, we hope to be henceforward less and less liable to suffer from untimely frost and snow.
The Colony is also prospering in social and religious matters. It has built four comely and commodious school houses, all of which are now opened, and supplied with Scottish teachers. If we are not rich enough to make pensioners of the children, we can do what is better: we can make scholars of them. Already four young teachers from the Colony have gained good situations in other parts of the Province; besides others employed in various useful and honorable vocations.

We are building a goodly church, 50×30 feet in foundation, with spire, belfry, and the other requisites of a well appointed church. It is already clapboarded and lathed, and the workmen are preparing to paint and plaster it. They have just erected the lofty pinnacle of the spire with its beautiful bell, and arrow and cardinal points of the compass. This pinnacle is a present from our excellent friends, the owners of the New Brunswick Foundry, in your city. And here I am happy to say, that the Colonists have many more friends in Fredericton than they were aware of; even from our excellent Governor unto the private citizens and laborers. Long will we remember their great kindness shown in many ways, but chiefly through the agency of the Rev. Dr. Brooke and his lady. We hope the time is coming when we can show our gratitude in a way worthy of such friends, one and all. In the meantime we believe the greater reward we can give them is to let them see us doing well and prospering constantly, both temporally and spiritually. May this be their portion here and hereafter!
Our regular meetings for public worship are now held in our new school house, and are large, cordial and much more comfortable than when they were held in private houses. The fervour of the singing is remarkable; and it is manifest that many have fellowship in heart and spirit with the Father of spirits, our Lord and Savior. Since my arrival here, seventy-five have been received into communion at the Lord’s Table. The baptisms have been forty-seven in number; the deaths eleven; and the marriages six. This includes the last twenty months. During this period the congregation has been well organised with regular meetings, office-bearers and records. We have now seven Sabbath schools, with a library for each of them. The people adhere loyally to the Presbyterian Church. Not a single family in New Kincardine has apostatized. They have begun also to contribute their mite to the schemes of the Church in the home and foreign field.
Besides our schools and our church, four or five frame houses have been built by the Colonists, and about a dozen of frame barns. We have two post offices, one for Kintore and one for Stonehaven. Each of them receives and delivers three mails weekly. They are well conducted by our local magistrates, T. Watt, Esq., and D. Burns, Esq. We have also several stores; one being set up a few days ago by the agency of your worthy townsman, Samuel Owen, Esq., a good friend to the Colony.
We have much reason to be thankful for the remarkable progress of the Colony. If the three or four families that left for Kansas had only waited till now, we believe they would not think of leaving us. And you will be glad to hear that we hope, with the Divine blessing, to make this Colony one of the best and brightest spots in New Brunswick yet.
I am, yours, &c.
New Kincardine Colony, Sept. 11, 1877


Notes about the letter:

Rev. Peter Melville (c. 1840 Cape John, NS-1912 Edinburgh, Scotland) was educated at the University of Glasgow. In 1878 he married Melvina Jessie Hartt in Fredericton, NB. He served as: missionary, Rothesay, NB 1869; parish assistant, Fredericton, NB (1870-71); minister, Grangetown, PEI (1872-75); minister, New Kincardine, NB (1876-79); minister, Stanley and Maskwaak, NB (1879-81); minister at St Columba, Hopewell, NS (1881-91); and minister Rendall, Orkney from 1892. While at New Kincardineshire, he led the people of the Colony in building the community schools and church.

Thomas Watt (1816-1897) age 51 and his wife Jane Nevin (1831-1901) age 42 brought their family to lot 2 in Kintore, NB via the Castalia in 1873. Their children were: David 21, John 19, Jeanie 17, Isabella 16, Thomas Jr. 12, Agnes 11, Charles 9, Mary Helen 6, and William 3. The Watts named their home in the Colony “Lily Glen.” Thomas Watt Sr. was elected as one of the first church elders and was present at the dedication of the Upper Kintore Church in 1893. In addition to carrying the mail, he was active in community affairs, serving as “colonization inspector” from 1873-78 and road construction foreman in 1873. He was a druggist in Scotland and in the Colony.

Records indicate that the following Colony families relocated to Kansas, probably in the spring season of 1877: John Brough and his wife Elizabeth Bisset; Alex Lawson and his wife Barbara Bisset (sister to Elizabeth); David Hamilton and his wife Susan Girdwood; David Logan and his wife Agnes Matheson; Robert McNeal family. Apparently David Edwards may have had intentions to reside in KS, but he, his wife Mary Caird and their children are listed in the Aroostook County, ME 1880 and 1900 censuses. The Broughs were 1874 Sidonian passengers and lived in Kintore, NB. The other families were on the Castalia in 1873 and had lots in Kincardine, NB.

Source of the letter: “New Kincardine Colony” written by Rev. Peter Melville, New Kincardine Colony, New Brunswick on Sept. 11, 1877. Published in the Rothesay Chronicle and Buteshire and West Coast Advertiser, Oct. 13, 1877.

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