“A Visit from St. Nicholas”: The New Brunswick Odells and the Authorship Controversy

The poem now commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas” was originally published anonymously in 1823 by the Troy Sentinel (New York). It has been integral in the formation of the modern North American vision of Christmas; in particular, the appearance and role of St. Nick or Santa Claus. A unique hand-written copy of this poem is included in the Odell Family Papers which are part of The Loyalist Collection.

Who is That?!: Help with Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Given Names

Dorcas, Nehemiah, Mehetabel, Eliphalet . . . If you have done any research with early North American documents, you have probably noticed that some names were fairly common in the past that are certainly not common today.  This change over time in naming traditions may leave the modern reader puzzled.  There are, however, some background knowledge and tricks that will help in the interpretation of early Canadian and American given names. 

Loyalist Lowdown: The John Saunders Edition

John Saunders was born and raised in Virginia from a well-established and wealthy family. Saunders’s staunch loyalism had a two-fold motivation: firstly, because of the economic considerations, and secondly, and even more importantly, because he strongly believed that being a loyalist would help determine the importance and influence of his family. Later in his life, he stated that he had been taught since infancy “to fear God and honor the King.”

Parish Officers of New Brunswick: Timber to Turkey

Hopefully the summons did not come when he was snug in bed on a crisp fall evening, but if there were marauding pigs on the loose, it was the sworn duty of the hog reeve to find, capture, and wrangle the wayward swine to a secure location before it did any damage to valuable crops.  “Hog reeve” was just one of many parish officers who held an important position in colonial New Brunswick society.

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