Since the beginning, Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq have lived along the river and lakes of present-day Queens County. The vast natural resources, abundant food and ease of water transport and portage have made the area desirable for all cultures at all times. Evidence of early cultures can be seen in the pottery sherds and stone tools found along the shores of the rivers and lakes.
In the 17th century, French and Dutch explorers travelled the river and by the 18th century, French settlements appeared at Grimross, Jemseg and Villeray, and included the fort near Jemseg. During the Seven Years War, British Colonel Robert Monckton sailed up the river destroying the Acadian settlements, among them Grimross, whose destruction on 4 November 1758 was captured by an artist with Monckton’s troops. The end of the war in 1763 made way for the first permanent English settlers of the area, the pre-Loyalists.
The fertile soils of the river valley and lakes made for attractive settlement by the first groups of English migrants. As part of Nova Scotia, land grants at Maugerville and Gagetown were offered, however establishing communities so far from the base of political and military power at Halifax remained daunting. Areas closest to Halifax benefited the most from the pre-Loyalist influx with families like that of Jacob Lynds of Massachusetts, who established himself in Colchester County. Hardy souls such as the Coys, Estabrooks, Garrisons and Palmers firmly planted themselves further afield in the St. John River valley.
Jacob Lynds (18 May 1716 – 22 November 1768) was born in Ireland. One source notes that he was the son of Thomas Lynds (born 24 October 1685) and Lydia Greene (born 11 August 1685) of Malden, Massachusetts. Jacob married Mary Gould (born 6 April 1724) of Stoneham, Massachusetts, on 28 March 1746 at Malden. Mary was known as the widow McNutt when she married. Jacob and Mary had several children in Massachusetts: Thomas, born 23 December 1748; Jacob, born 27 July 1751; Mary, born 27 July 1751 (twins?); Barnard, born 26 October 1752; Lydia, born 25 March 1755; John, born 20 March 1757; and Ruth, born 6 November 1759. Some time prior to 1768 (one source suggests 1761) Jacob, Mary and the family migrated to Colchester County, Nova Scotia. On 18 April 1768 another daughter Sarah was born at Onslow (Truro area). Within months, Jacob was dead. Mary Gould later married James Whidden, another Nova Scotia pre-Loyalist.
Sarah Lynds married John Wright (born 7 November 1766 – 1820) of Onslow, Nova Scotia, on 25 November 1788 and had several children: Deborah, born 9 October 1789; Ruth, born 24 December 1790; James, born 17 July 1792; Sarah, born 25 October 1793; David, born 7 August 1796; William, born 1 March 1798; Rebecca, born 22 August 1799; Jacob Lynds, born 14 January 1801; Lucy, born 17 July 1802; Esther, born September 1803; Miriam, birth date not known; and Elizabeth, born 1806. John and Sarah Wright’s death place is noted as being New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, indicating the family’s relocation from Onslow at some point. Even though Sarah and John’s children did have families of their own, when Sarah died 8 September 1846, the sampler passed to her sister Ruth’s family and descended through the female family line to the donor.
Ruth Lynds, as noted above, was born in Massachusetts, 6 November 1759. She married David Hoar, Jr. (born 1753) on 30 January 1779 at Onslow, Nova Scotia, and had a large family of eleven children. Ruth Lynds Hoar died 22 January 1813 at Hopewell Hill, Albert County, New Brunswick, where her eldest daughter, Sarah B. Hoar had married and lived. Sarah Hoar (11 November 1779 – 1 August 1871) married Ezra Stiles (born 24 November 1779) by 1803 when their first child, Miriam, was born 8 August 1803.
On 20 December 1822, Miriam Stiles married Daniel Oliver Woodworth (born 1794) in Westmorland County, New Brunswick, and had ten children: David Oliver, born 1824; Solomon Woodworth, born 20 April 1826; Levi, born 1 October 1828; Ezra Stiles, born 1 July 1832; Daniel Huntley, born July 1834; Reuben S., born 8 August 1838; Sarah Jane, born 24 April 1840; Abigail Annie, born 13 May 1846; and Mary R, born 1 May 1849. Miriam Stiles Woodworth died 25 January 1875 at Hopewell, Albert County, and the sampler passed to her daughter, Abigail Annie Woodworth, who was born in 1846, the year Sarah Lynds Wright died.
Abigail Annie Woodworth made her own sampler in the 1850s which is also part of the QCH collection. Abigail Annie married John Law Cambridge (2 July 1845 – 1931) of Maugerville on 8 January 1875 at Hillsborough, Albert County. Abigail and John returned to Sunbury and York Counties and had five children: George, died 25 July 1876 at age 6 months; Marianne S. (Annie), born 9 July 1877; Martie Muriel, born 29 October 1879; Ada J., born 21 February 1882; and Ella Sarah, born 7 December 1883 at Gibson, York County.
Abigail Annie Woodworth Cambridge died 2 May 1901 at the age of 55 and is buried at Burton, Sunbury County. The sampler was then given to her daughter, Ella Sarah Cambridge, the donor. Ella Sarah served as a nurse during World War I; QCH has in the collection Ella’s Nursing Sister diploma. Following the war, Ella married Allen Bliss Dingee (17 May 1879 – 23 October 1963) of Gagetown, 10 August 1932, a bachelor farmer and the son of Frederick Inkerman Dingee and Albina Seeley. In 1967, Ella Cambridge Dingee donated the 1780 Sarah Lynds sampler and the 1850s sampler done by her mother, Abigail Annie Woodworth. The next year, Ella Dingee died, 18 September 1968, a little over 200 years after Sarah Lynds’ birth in the spring of 1768. Ella and Allen Dingee are buried at the Grace United Church Cemetery, Gagetown.
The Sarah Lynds sampler is a treasure, linking us to a time and place for which we have few records and objects. Indeed, objects from the days before the creation of New Brunswick are exceedingly rare. It is a thrilling day when, as museum staff, volunteers and visitors, we get to see an object that is connected to five generations of women over 200 years. As part of this exhibition project, a reproduction of the fragile sampler has been made which will serve interpretive purposes in the future. We wonder if that little girl in 1780 could imagine that her piece of needlework would be seen and talked about over 230 years later?
For more information or to see the sampler in person, visit the Loyalist Legacy exhibition at the Tilley House, Gagetown.
Note: line of descent – Sarah Lynds Wright; to her sister Ruth Lynds Hoar; to her daughter Sarah Hoar Stiles; to her daughter Miriam Stiles Woodworth; to her daughter Abigail Annie Woodworth Cambridge; to her daughter Ella Sarah Cambridge Dingee, the donor.