Biography of Rev. F. Dibblee, Rector of Woodstock, Carleton County, New Brunswick

A reprint from We Lived (A GENEALOGICAL NEWSLETTER OF NEW BRUNSWICK SOURCES published by Cleadie B. Barnett)

Biography of Rev. F. Dibblee, Rector of Woodstock
 by Alice I. Conlon

        Frederick Dibblee, youngest son of Rev. Ebenezer Dibblee, Rector for fifty-one years of the Anglican Church at Stamford, CT, was but twenty-two years old when the War for Independence put an end to his studies at King's College in New York.  He would have graduated in 1776, with the intentions of taking Holy Orders.  In Nov of 1776 Frederick, with other Stamford Loyalist, was transported to eastern CT, but was allowed to return home in the spring of 1777.  His stay was short, for in April, when the King's troops attacked and burned Danbury, his life was threatened when he refused to take an active part with the rebels.  He fled to Long Island to join his brother Flyer.  Here he acquired some property, and engaged in trade with Mr. Jackson at Oyster Bay.  It was during this time, 1781/2, that he married Nancy Anna Beach, daughter of Abel and Mary (Lewis) Beach, of Stratford, CT.

        Life was hazardous on Long Island.  Frederick and his partner suffered grievously when they were plundered five times by rebels who came from New Jersey in whale boats.  In Nov 1782 these vandals stripped him and his wife of their household goods and best wearing apparel.  The aggregate loss was £1200.  Little wonder that they were willing to join the Loyalist in 1783.  They left in the June fleet on the "Bridgewater", arriving in NB in late summer.  Here Frederick drew Parrtown lot # 117, but he went to Kingston, where the family resided four years.  During that time Frederick was often "chosen to read prayers."

        Hearing favourable reports about the Loyalist settlements on the upper Saint John, Frederick obtained a grant on the Meductic.  When exploring his property, he fell asleep in the canoe and the Indian who was poling the craft went far beyond the intended destination.  But Frederick was much impressed with the area t Woodstock, and not long after he exchanged his Meductic grant for one at Woodstock.  These grants were the most awkward shapes.  His 500 acres measured approximately 3/4 mile river frontage and extended westward almost eight miles.  This is equivalent to a town lot 1 foot wide by 120 feet deep.  Near the river he built a log house for his young and expanding family.  This rude structure served for about twenty-four years until he built a frame house in 1811.

        At the urging of his neighbours Frederick travelled to Halifax where he was ordained on 23 Oct 1791, by Rev. Charles Inglis, first Bishop of Nova Scotia, as Rector of the Woodstock Parish and Missionary to the Indians.  It took three months to make this arduous journey by canoe, schooner, skating and on foot.  Upon his return his first official act was to preform the marriage on 30 Oct 1791, of Michael Smith and Phebe Ketchum.  Eleven days later he baptized John Bedell.

        Pioneer life was difficult.  Each November the log house had to be "plaistered" to keep out the drafts.  Lumbering went on all the time.  The sudden uprising of the river often washed away their store of firewood, or demolished their supply of fence rails.  He had little help until his sons grew old enough to help plant and harvest the grain and get it to the grist mill.  There was hay to exchange for potatoes; maple trees to be tapped and the sap boiled down for the annual supply of sugar, "honey" (syrup), and vinegar; cows, hogs and sheep to be cared for.  They hunted ducks and geese, and the pigeons which made the daytime dark as night, but nowhere is there mention of hunting bear, deer, elk or moose.

        There was constant visiting among the pioneers.  One is amazed at the formality of address among old friend --- Parson Dibblee and Lady --- Captain Ketchum and Lady.  Christmas was strictly a religious observance but New Year's celebrations brought together most of the villagers.  They were very lenient in arranging recreation for the young people --- "balls", sleighing parties, harvest festivals and "frolicks."  The children attended school in Kingston or Fredericton, which afforded frequent visiting.

        Rev. Frederick kept a diary which has been invaluable in learning of the daily life during this time.  He seldom mentioned his clerical duties of burying, marrying and baptising the people, but church records show him to have been meticulous in recording these vital records.  His death occurred 17 May 1826 age 73, completing thirty-five years of service as the Rector of Woodstock.

SOURCES: "Centenary of the Ordination of Rev. Frederick Dibblee: 1791-1891"; Esther Clark Wright's "Loyalist of New Brunswick"; mss -- Genealogy of the Dibblee Family, by Arthur Mejia, prepared in 1960 for Mr. Harrison Dibblee, of Ross, CA; Vol 2, "Diary of Rev. Frederick Dibblee 1803-1825" (LDS micro-film)

Mounted:  13 May 1998