Fonds MC243 - Arthur Hill Gillmor family

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Arthur Hill Gillmor family

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  • Textual record

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  • 1790-1899, predominate 1846-1885 (Creation)
    Gillmor family (Charlotte County)

Physical description

1.8 m of textual records and 1 reel of microfilm

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(Branch begins in 1824)

Biographical history

Politician, senator, and businessman, Arthur Hill Gillmor, the son of Pamelia or Purmelia Dowell (ca. 1800-1880) and Daniel Gillmor (ca. 1799-1866), was born 12 March 1824, probably at Upper Mills, St. George Parish, Charlotte County, New Brunswick. He had at least 8 siblings, including Mandana (Edwin Russell), Tobias S. (1827-1897), Urania (Francis Hibbard), Philander (d. 1838), Kinsman (b. ca. 1841, Abbie Gillmor), Eldorado (b. ca. 1842, Rosie Gillmor), Rebecca (George Hill), and Eliza G. (1834-1885). A. H. Gillmor received his early education at the St. Andrews Grammar School. In January 1846, he married Hannah Dawes Howe (1825-1908), the daughter of Hannah Dawes (1797-1883) and Simeon Howe (1798-1857), and they had 4 children, namely, Adelia / Adela / Delia Augusta (Dick), Daniel, Henry Edward, and Percy Howe. Following Simeon Howe's death, in 1857, Hannah Dawes Howe lived, at various times, with several of her daughters, including Hannah Gillmor. In the early 1860s, and again, in the late 1870s, Hannah Dawes Howe travelled to the American West (Wisconsin, Oregon, California) to visit her children and their families. She died at St. George on 14 June 1883.

A. H. Gillmor's father, Daniel Gillmor, Sr., established the family's lumbering, sawmilling, trading, and mercantile businesses in the early 19th century, shortly after arriving in the St. George area from Machias, Maine. He built a watermill at Second Falls and registered at least two ships, the "Ben Bolt" and "Eldorado", that carried lumber and deals to Boston, New York, Liverpool, and elsewhere. As the family business grew, the Gillmors operated several sawmills as well as general stores. In the 1840s, A. H. Gillmor became more involved in this father's enterprises. Following Daniel Gillmor, Sr.'s death, in June 1866, the four Gillmor sons, Arthur Hill, Tobias, Kinsman, and Eldorado, ran the family business under the title, A. H. Gillmor, Jr. and Brothers. Later A. H. Gillmor's sons, Daniel and Percy, became involved in the business which suffered financial setbacks in the mid-1860s and the 1880s.

In addition to his business interests, A. H. Gillmor was active in provincial and federal politics. He served the parish of Grand Manan as a member of the Charlotte County Council. He was first elected to the House of Assembly in 1854, sitting as a member for Charlotte County. He was re-elected three times, in 1856, 1857, 1861, and 1865. In 1865 he held the post of provincial secretary in Albert J. Smith's short-lived, anti-Confederate government. He was defeated at the polls, in 1866, on the question of Confederation and returned to St. George where he continued his business activities.

In 1872 A. H. Gillmor, once again, turned his attention to politics, running unsuccessfully for a seat in the Dominion Parliament. Two years later his bid for a federal seat was successful. He was re-elected on the Liberal ticket in 1878, 1882, 1887, and 1891, but suffered defeat at the polls in 1896. Throughout his political career, he was particularly interested in the issues of education, prohibition, manhood suffrage, protection (tariffs), reciprocity, and railway construction. During the Dominion government debate over Louis Riel, he argued for clemency. In 1900, A. H. Gillmor was appointed to the Senate of Canada. The same year he was named Canada's representative at the Paris Exposition. In his religious life, he was a devout Baptist and attended church regularly. Arthur Hill Gillmor died on 13 April 1903, while on a train en route to Ottawa; he was buried in St. George Rural Cemetery.

Hannah Howe Gillmor, A. H. Gillmor's wife, was born at Whiting, Washington County, Maine, on 16 July 1825. She received her formal education at the Washington Academy, in Maine. Her family moved from the Machias area to St. George, N. B., in the 1830s, where her father, a temperance supporter and Universalist, engaged in lumbering, milling, and shipbuilding. She had 8 siblings, namely, Henry Newcombe (b. 1820, Rebecca Hall), James Simeon (b. 1822, Clementine Seelye), Warren (1823-1849), Levi Fulsom (1829-1847), Albion Pratt (1833-ca. 1864), Sarah Maria (1839-1874, Henry Beckwith), Harriet (b. 1830, J. A. Davison), and Lucretia Dawes (b. 1827, H. E. Seelye). Henry and James Howe migrated to California, in the 1840s, during the gold rush, remaining in the West for the rest of their lives. A. Pratt Howe moved from New Brunswick to Wisconsin about 1856. He enlisted in the Union Army, during the American Civil War, and, in May 1864, he either suffered fatal wounds during the Battle of Wilderness or was taken prisoner.

Hannah Howe Gillmor had a close relationship with her sisters Sarah Maria, Harriet, and Lucretia. Sarah Maria Howe married Henry A. Beckwith on 10 November 1858, and they lived for a number of years in Berlin, Wisconsin. She died in Vallejo, California, on 24 September 1874. Harriet Howe married James Alexander Davidson / Davison, of Charlotte County, on 11 October 1857; Lucretia Howe married Henry E. Seelye, the son of Col. Henry Seelye, of St. George, on 31 August 1843. A Liberal in politics and confidante of A. H. Gillmor, H. E. Seelye supported the Tilley-Mitchell administration and held an appointment with the European and North American Railway. He was also a justice of the peace and a captain of the Rifle Volunteers. In 1862, he, Lucretia, and their children moved west, first to California and, about a year later, to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where he worked, for a time, in mines at or near Lightning Creek, Caribou. In the 1870s, he was appointed a Dominion customs agent. H. E. Seelye was an advocate of Confederation and responsible government. In 1870, he accompanied the British Columbia delegates to Ottawa as the representative of the journal, "British Colonist". Henry E. Seelye died prematurely, at Joseph's Prairie, Kootney Bay, B.C., on 27 March 1876.

A. H. and Hannah Gillmor's children remained emotionally close to their siblings and parents and lived busy and interesting lives. Adelia / Adela Gillmor was born on 13 September 1848 at St. George. In the mid-1860s she attended Mrs. Hunt's Young Ladies' Seminary at Saint John where she took lessons in drawing, painting, piano, composition, grammar, astronomy, philosophy, arithmetic, and botany. She also received instruction in music from Henry S. Coleman, who directed the cathedral choir. On 30 January 1875, she married Dr. Thomas Dick ([1845?]-1919), of St. George, and they had a daughter, Winnifred May (b. ca. 1895, Simmons). In 1901 Adelia Dick was living with her parents and daughter in St. George. By 1911 she had moved to Ottawa where she resided with her daughter and son-in-law, Thomas Simmons, and their son, Alan. Adelia Gillmor Dick died on 21 June 1928 and was buried in St. George Rural Cemetery.

Daniel Gillmor was born on 1 July 1849 at St. George. Beginning about the early 1860s, he was employed in the family business. He married Catherine (Kate) Sophia Duffy (1850-1927), a Roman Catholic, of Lowell, Massachusetts, on 28 November 1877. About January 1878, he began working as a salesman for the Boston coffee firm of Chase & Sanborn, selling tea and coffee to customers in the Maritimes and New England, but by 1881 had returned to St. George and was employed as a storekeeper. In 1889, he became a partner in the Canadian operation of Chase & Sanborn, making his home in Montreal. He was living in Westmount, in 1901, with his wife and their 4 children, William Dawes (1881-1957), Blanche (b. 1883), Daniel P. (1889-1964), and Horace M. (1892-1929). A daughter, Alice H. (b. ca. 1879), had died in 1890. By 1911 he, Kate, and sons Daniel and Horace had returned to St. George. Between 1907 and 1918, Daniel Gillmor served in the Senate of Canada representing Charlotte County. He died in 1918 and was buried in St. George Rural Cemetery.

Henry Edward Gillmor was born on 16 September 1851 at St. George. He earned his M.D. from Bellevue Hospital Medical College in 1877. Initially, he established a medical practice in or near St. George, but, after a short time, he moved to St. Martins, St. John County, where he practised medicine for many years. He married Ella Blanche Moran (Nellie), the daughter of James H. Moran, of St. Martins, on 2 September 1885. They had at least 6 children, namely, Robert Linden Hill (b.1886), Kathleen Augusta (b.1888), Walter S. (1889-1890), Clive Moran (b. 1890), Henry Edward (b. 1892), and Horace Hutchins (b. 1895). Dr. Henry E. Gillmor died on 2 May 1926 in Saint John County.

Percy Howe Gillmor was born on 7 September 1862 at St. George. He attended the Collegiate School in Fredericton in the late 1870s and graduated from the University of New Brunswick in 1883. In November 1894, he married Julia Copeland Kelley (b. ca. 1869), of Calais, Maine, in Boston. At some point, they moved to Montreal, where he found employment. In 1901, Percy and Julia Gillmor were boarding with Amelia Sternberg in Saint-Antoine Ward, Montreal. By 1911, Percy Gillmor had returned to St. George and was boarding with G[artley] and Dorcas McGee. For many years, he travelled for commercial houses. Percy Howe Gillmor died at St. George on 17 May 1915, aged 52, and was buried in St. George Rural Cemetery.

Sources: Daniel F. Johnson's Vital Statistics from New Brunswick Newspapers on-line;; RS141 Vital Statistics from Government Records; Census of Canada, 1881, 1901, and 1911; Dictionary of Canadian Biography (Arthur Hill Gillmor);; The Beacon (St. Andrews), 20 and 27 May 1915; and MC243.

Custodial history

At some point, Philip Christie of Moore's Mills, N.B. borrowed the Gillmor ledgers and tally book for private study.

Scope and content

This fonds documents the business, political, and personal activities of Arthur Hill Gillmor; the business activities of his father and brothers, the personal activities of his wife, Hannah; and the business, professional, and personal activities of their children and grandchildren. It sheds light on the A. H. Gillmor family's personal relationships and their relationships with kin, notably, Hannah Gillmor's mother, her sisters, Lucretia, Maria, and Harriet, and their husbands, H. E. Seelye, Henry Beckwith, and J. A. Davidson / Davison respectively.

The fonds also documents, to a more limited extent, the personal activities of Hannah Dawes Howe and her son, Albion Pratt Howe, as a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War. It sheds light on the challenges her sons, daughters, and sons- and daughters-in-laws faced as they rebuilt their lives in the American and Canadian West. Taken collectively, these records explore a variety of themes, including New Brunswick politics, the role of a politician's wife, children and childhood in the colonial era, lumbering in Charlotte County, outmigration, Confederation, tariffs (National Policy), free trade, prohibition, temperance, railway building, and the role of religion in 19th century New Brunswick.

Business records (1846-1894) document the ebb and flow of both the Gillmor enterprises and the economy of Charlotte County and point to periods of financial difficulty for the Gillmor family. Included are administrative, financial, and legal records for the Gillmor family's extensive lumbering, sawmilling, mercantile and trading businesses, such as correspondence, invoices, accounts, bills payable and receivable, cashbooks, daybooks, account ledgers, receipts, bills of lading, survey bills, orders, time books (wages), bank books, tally book, timber licenses, deeds, agreements, and promissory notes, along with insurance papers pertaining to the schooner "Ben Bolt". A very few documents pertaining to the Bonny River Lumber Company are available.

Political records (1857-1897) reflect A. H. Gillmor's activities as a member of the House of Assembly, as provincial secretary in A. J. Smith's short-lived administration, and as a member of the Dominion Parliament. The bulk of these records is comprised of incoming correspondence which, along with discussions on political subjects and issues, contains comments of a personal nature. A very few draft outgoing letters are included. During his political career, Gillmor corresponded with many political leaders and public figures including, Samuel Leonard Tilley, Albert J. Smith, George F. Hill, J. E. Knight, George D. Street, W. H. Chaffey, B. R. Stevenson, James Brown, John McAdam, Edward Jack, Charles Fisher, William Wedderburn, W. B. Kinnear, and T. W. Anglin.

Political records also include notices addressed to the electors of Charlotte County; listings of voters; draft and printed speeches prepared for election campaigns and on political issues (i.e., Confederation, tarrifs, prohibition); draft and printed bills (House of Assembly and House of Commons); petitions addressed to lieutenant governors (J. H. T. Manners Sutton and A. H. Gordon), the Executive Council, the House of Assembly, the House of Commons, A. H. Gillmor, and others (including 5 from widows and family of Revolutionary War veterans); and printed speeches, pamphlets and other material on such subjects as capital punishment (Louis Riel), railways, boundaries, treaties, free trade, protectionism, the Irish question, and the Paris exhibition.

Personal and family records (1859-1899) consist primarily of correspondence. Of particular interest are letters between A. H. Gillmor and his wife, Hannah, and to A. H. Gillmor from his children. Letters from A. H. Gillmor to his wife discuss both personal and political matters. The Gillmor children's letters offer insights into 19th century childhood, their relationship with their father and mother, the education of girls and boys, student life at the Collegiate School in Fredericton (1870s), and social, business, and political activities in Charlotte County. As well, there are a number of letters to A. H. Gillmor from his brother-in-law, Henry E. Seelye which provide details of business, political, and personal matters. Seelye's letters dated after 1861 describe his business and political activities in the American and Canadian West, as well as family matters.

There are also letters between Hannah Gillmor and her children, mother and siblings. Letters from her brother, A. Pratt Howe, provide information about his activities in the Union Army. Letters to Hannah Gillmor from her mother and sisters, Maria Beckwith, Lucretia Seelye, and Harriet Davidson, provide information about family matters and the challenges the Beckwiths, Seelyes, and Davidsons faced constructing new lives in the West.

The fonds includes letters to the Gillmor children -- Adela, Daniel, Henry E., and Percy -- from their father. Several letters between family members, dating to 1878, detail Percy H. Gillmor's experiences and behaviour while attending the Collegiate School. Accounts concerning the cost of Adela, Henry, and Percy's education and training are included. There are also a few letters addressed to A. H. Gillmor's father, Daniel Gillmor; Hannah Howe; Lucretia and Henry E. Seelye; Harriet Davidson; and Aunt Sarah.

Lastly, there is a diary of a voyage by an unnamed traveller from Saint John, N.B. to Liverpool, England, and return (1886); along with a genealogical chart of the Gillmor family; a few newspaper clippings; and manuscript and printed copies of poetry.

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Daniel Gillmor, of St. George, N.B., a descendant of Arthur Hill Gillmor, donated the bulk of these records in December 1993. Philip Christie, of Moore's Mills, N.B., lent the account books and tally book to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick for microfilmng in January 1990.


The collection is divided into three series Gilmor Family Buisness Records, A.H. Gilmor Political Records, and Gilmor Famiy Personal Records.

Language of material

  • English

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Location of originals

The original microfilmed records are believed to be in the hands of Philip Christie.

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

No restrictions. Former restrictions on personal correspondence were lifted in 1994.

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Finding aids

A 47-page inventory is available.

Associated materials

Information on elections in and the voters of Charlotte County, N.B. (1865-1891) is located in MC1255 MS13 and MS13A on microfilm reel no. F13720.

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General note

A day book (1874-1891); 2 petty ledgers (1856-1873) and (1871-1923); a tally book for types of trees, specifications of sizes, and quantities of lumber cut (1900-1903); and illustrations of marks of lumber are located on microfilm reel no. F13724.

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