Even though the weather still feels like late summer, the spirits of Queens County are still lurking around. With the addition of the Loomcrofters Studio to the grounds of the Tilley House and the developing heritage hub at that end of Front Street, some ghosts connected to the buildings between the Tilley House and Court House are some of the most interesting characters.
While the birthplace of Father of Confederation Samuel Leonard Tilley carries his family name to this day, did you know that after the Tilleys sold the house, it was used as a hotel? About 1884 the Simpson family converted the Tilley House into a hotel and then ten years later, sold the property to farmer William Black Dingee, who operated the “Hotel Dingee” or “Dingee Hotel”. It was during the hotel period that the rather plain looking Tilley House was gussied up with the addition of the long front veranda, the front dormer windows and also the addition of a long wing at the back (now replaced with a modern ell) that held several hotel rooms. We wonder if hotelier William Dingee made an appearance, which name would he prefer. One can guess.
A glimpse has also been seen of Annie Blanche Babbit, a visitor from the West and the daughter of Robert Thorne Babbit, the long-time registrar of wills and deeds for Queens County in the late 19th century. Mr. RT Babbit worked out of the one storey brick building on Front Street which was built in 1847. Did you know that Sir Leonard Tilley isn’t the only Lieutenant Governor to come from Queens County? In 1885 Annie Blanche married George Hedley Vicars Bulyea, also from Gagetown, and the couple headed westward to what is now Saskatchewan. A teacher by profession, GHV Bulyea entered politics in the 1890s and as a reward for his work in creating the province of Alberta, he was appointed its first Lieutenant Governor in 1905. The Honourable Mrs. Bulyea has been seen out on a walk in search of her father, to whom she wishes to extend an invitation to her husband’s investiture. Look for the big hat… and big personality!
Have you ever gotten up from a nap and then gotten lost? This happens to Loyalist Daniel Babbit all of the time. In the 1790s Babbit was a leading member in the Anglican Church and the wider community, working as a blacksmith and farmer and had a family of at least 22 children with two wives. Despite his standing as a fine Anglican convert, there is an interesting part to Daniel Babbit’s story. His grave and those of his wives are missing! While the church records are clear about his burial in 1830, no stone remains and no oral history of location. The story is told that when the original church was torn down in 1880 to make way for the present, larger structure, the builders weren’t that concerned about some of the older graves close to the walls of the old building. With the enlargement, it is supposed that the graves of Daniel Babbit and his wives were built upon! Mr. Babbit regularly appears along Front Street looking for his final resting place. He’s been known to visit the Tilley House between 2 and 3 am!
Wouldn’t it be nice if your reputation was so impressive that your friends would get together to purchase a colossal tombstone in your honour? That’s what happened to Samuel Hewlett Gilbert. Gilbert was a prominent MLA and is responsible for the construction of the canal at the head of Gagetown Creek. He was also the Grand Master of the New Brunswick Orange Lodge and when he died in 1864, his loyal NB Orange companions erected a beautiful white tombstone in his honour. When the Gagetown Grammar School moved into a new building in 1870 (the present day Legion), the little one roomed schoolhouse became the local Orange Lodge Hall.
Last but not least, did you know that the first school in New Brunswick to have a woman as principal was in Gagetown? Mary Kingsley Tibbets, born in Nova Scotia and the first woman graduate of the University of New Brunswick, was the first female principal of the Gagetown Grammar School (present day Legion) from 1890 until 1894. Miss Tibbets moved on to Boston and became head of the English Department of the Hyde Park High School. In 1939 she received an honourary doctorate on the 50th anniversary of her UNB graduation. Despite a very busy schedule as the school year gets underway, Miss Tibbets often visits the site of her first classroom experiences, the old Gagetown Grammar School.
For more information about the above ghosts and the building with which they are associated, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.