Notes Of A Bygone Era

Freshwater Heroes

Courtesy Of Graham Butt 

 During the first week of December 1840, a storm of wind prevailed at Carbonear and vicinity. It was not known to the oldest inhabitant to remember such a gale. The sea raged mountains high, schooners were adrift in every direction. In the morning the schooner Sophia belonging to Mr. Henry Parsons, went ashore at Crockers Cove. The schooner Shannon, belonging to Mr. Edward Pike; the Trial belonging to Messrs. George and Nataniel Pike, and the Active, belonging to Hr. John Lynch, went ashore at Carbonear beach.

 The morning of Thursday was mild and calm and it was thought that the packets boats would have a fine time from Portugal Cove. They left at four  o 'clock in the evening, and had scarcely reached outside the western end of Bell Isle when another snow storm, still more severe than what has already been described, came on, the wind likewise increasing, and it may be truly said "scattering desolation," The packet boat "St. Patrick", having seven passengers on board beside her usual crew, struck the rocks off Clown's Cove, about six o'clock on Thursday evening. She became a total wreck and five of the persons on board of her never lived to tread the shore again.The shrieks of the poor unhappy suffers were heard at Clown's Cove, and as soon as the source was known the inhabitants were all alive to render succour and assistance. Boats were manned by hardy and adventurous men consisting of the following named persons, Richard Parsons, Richard Davis, William Pottle, John Moores, Samuel Jeffers, John Butt, Noel Moores and Charles Moores. These men, natives of Freshwater, saved those who were left to tell the tale. They clung to Clown's Rock to which a line was thrown, and fastened about the bodies of those saved, and all were pulled for one hundred yards through the seething surf. Those who were saved consisted of William Jewer, Master; Michael Brien, Gregory Forrestal, Michael Kelly, and his wife, who were married about two days before. Those who were drowned were, Thomas Lanignn, George Benson, and Mrs. Rorke.The latter left a large family. Two of the unfortunate people died on the rocks, a young man named Mulrooney, and another named, Winsor, who left a young widow and three small children.

 Edmund Phelan owned the "St. Patrick", which had two cabins and a part of the after cabin was set aside for the ladies.

 Note: Roland Noel

Since the wreck of the St. Patrick some people in recent memory say they have heard the baffling of the ships sales and the peoples frantic cries for help – One such person I know was my Grandmother Laura (Burke) Butt and the other was Frederick Davis.


The History of the Rise and Progress Of Methodism

Complied and read by Rev Chase Lench

 December 10, 1911 

Freshwater for more than 100 years was an appointment of the Carbonear Circuit.  The Rev. Lawrence Coughlan used to pay regular visits to the settlement and obtained converts there.  Mr. Clement Noel and Mrs. Parsons corresponded with him after his return to London, England, and incorporated the correspondence in his little volume, entitled: “Seven years missionary work in Newfoundland".  Twenty-nine years ago Freshwater became a separate Circuit.  The first superintendent was the energetic Rev B Heal.  He built the parsonage and got things a little into shape.  He was followed by the hard-working Rev. G. P. Story.  His sun went down early in life.  Rev. Jabez Hill followed and did good and faithful work.  He was succeeded by the Rev. Anthony Hill, an earnest gospel preacher.  A revival followed his clear presentation of the truth.  Then followed the Rev. Jesse Hayfield, a quiet faithful plodder.  He discharged his duties but made little show in the flesh.

 The Rev. R. W. Freeman came at the right time.  He was a perfect financier and soon made the Circuit independent.  The Rev. T. H. James was a plain, earnest and scriptural gospel preacher and advocate of holiness.  He kept his appointments in all weathers.  The writer followed for a term of four happy years, and was succeeded by the Rev. A. A. Holmes, now President of the Conference.

 Freshwater has had a splendid band of lay-helpers.  For many years Mr. John Noel, a descendent of Clement Noel, was general factotum.  His son, Mr. Augustus Noel, was for many years Sunday School Superintendent and exhorter.  Good John Eveley has borne the burden and heat of the day.  The farthest from church and the most regular attendant.  His son, John Charles, has now put on the harness, so it goes from father to son.  Mr. John Clarke has been a long tried servant, exhorter, class leader and lay delegate to District Conference.  Mr. William T. Vatcher is called a solid man.  Mr. Pleman Soper is also a man of talent and usefulness, and Mr. William T Homer is never behind.  Younger men are putting on the harness.  It is a Circuit with abundance of opportunities for willing workers.  Mr. Arthur Pottle, descendent of Thomas Pottle, who threw away his crutches to preach extempore in 1774.  Mr. James Case did good work until God called him home.  His son Samuel is a good worker.  Messrs. Richard Penney and Terence Butt, with Edgar Kelloway and William Parsons, are holding the fort.  Thus every appointment is cared for in the minister’s absence.  The Noels, Homers, Parsons, Moores and Butts have their successors to-day.  St Paul if amongst us would say, “Greet those women who labored with me in the gospel.”

 Sister Louisa Joyce, assistant to minister’s class.  Sister Emma Butt, always at her post.  Mrs. Hunt, successor to Mrs. Homer, grown old and deaf and sorely bereaved.  Mrs. Hannah Moore, who always closes her shop on Wednesday afternoon, at the class hour.  Grandma Kirby’s soul at 90 years has returned to God who gave it, and her daughter, Mrs. William Penney, had been installed in her mother’s place.  “Instead of the parents shall rise up the children.”  Mrs. James Case has finished her work.  Mrs. Terence Butt with Mrs. Catherine Rose as assistant, keeps the big Salmon Cove class together.  At Perry’s Cove Aunt Rachel, full of years has claimed the crown to victor’s due.  Mrs. Kelloway and Mrs. Parsons are doing their best for the encouragement of the flock.  Henry King for many years did good and faithful service.  He exerted an influence for good.

 Freshwater is able to tax all the energies of its Superintendent.  It requires a man of strong moral, mental and physical caliber.  But the flock is not responsible for geographical conditions.  They are a noble people.  Last year the Circuit raised $2,767.00 for all purposes, and the Circuit has 329 members.

This article is a excerpt taken from a speech compiled and read by  Rev. Lench at the afternoon and evening service December 10, 1911 on the occasion of the Centenary Celebration


     From the Daily News

Newfoundland Quarterly - March 1959

 Sir:-  The people of  Freshwater were rather pleased to hear Premier Smallwood proclaim here recently that Freshwater was one of ten or twelve oldest settlements in Canada.  He said further that it was at Freshwater that he gave one of his first political speeches in support of Confederation. (Later Freshwater supported Confederation by a 98 percent majority vote).  The Premier also said that Freshwater was reeking in history.

 Some of the oldest residents of Freshwater recall that the story has been passed down through generations that Freshwater Hill was a strategic defence post when the French were making their raids on St. John’s and around Conception Bay.  Freshwater Hill occupies a site overlooking Carbonear Island and the entrance to Carbonear Harbor.  It was from this hill that the English played havoc on the French.

 When in 1696 d’Iberville and his recruited Indians from the mainland burnt St. John’s, they continued their raids on all the communities in Conception Bay as far as Freshwater – destroying Harbour Grace and Carbonear in turn.  It is claimed that they continued on as far as Freshwater, but were halted at Freshwater Hill.  At that time, all the residents of Harbour Grace and Carbonear fled to Carbonear Island.  The only resistance the French and Indians encountered worthwhile was at Freshwater Hill.  Some of the guns used in defence of the hill are just slightly above ground and it is hoped that some day they will be brought to the surface for display.

 Again in 1705, the French attached St. John’s.  This time, the Micmac Indians from Nova Scotia, assisted the French.  They continued their raid around Conception Bay and captured Harbour Grace and Carbonear, but they were unable to take Carbonear Island.

 For nearly fifty years that followed, Newfoundland was free from enemy attack.  However, in 1762, the French captured St. John’s and again, for the third time, Harbour Grace and Carbonear were captured.  The guns on Freshwater Hill were used to defend the approach to Carbonear Island and Carbonear Harbour.

 At this raid in 1762, the French almost succeeded in taking Carbonear Island.  One ship managed to get some of her men ashore, but they were all killed and later brought to Freshwater for burial.

 Carbonear Island was never captured by the French.  The trenches where the residents of Harbour Grace,  Freshwater, and Carbonear defended the island, are the same today as the day they were built and are worth a visit by travelers any time during July or August.  Old shell casings can easily be dug up by an ordinary pick-axe.  The larger cannons have since been pushed over the cliffs into the sea.

 It is hoped that some day, both Freshwater Hill and Carbonear Island will become an attractive tourist center.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea if the people got together and showed an interest in this historic spot, before this bit of history is forgotten.

 Yours truly,






Copyright © 1999 by Roland Noel. All rights reserved. Revised: 17 Jul 2000 19:08:30 -0400