John Wetmore

Free Will Baptist Cemetery, Marker #24

(1755 – 1848)

Hand carved grave marker of unknown person, making John a  Possible Resident.

More information about John and his family may be found in the Old Stones Family Group Sheet Index.
Note: on 18 June 2010 Karen Russell, of Halifax sent an email to Ann Sorensen of Springdale, from which the following is taken.

“Amy Young, a John Wetmore descendant in the US whom I have corresponded with in the past, posted this yesterday on the Rootsweb Wetmore board:”

Hi John Wetmore Cousins
Greetings from the vicinity of Beaver River, NS where John Wetmore (Sr) taught school! I’m at the end of a week-long genealogical trip to Saint John, NB and Yarmouth, NS. We’ve searched lots of cemeteries in the last 4 days! No definitive John Wetmore gravesite. However, the most promising is a stone (more like a rock) carved with “JW” in the Founders Cemetery in Beaver River. It’s on Route 1 in Beaver River. The majority of names in the cemetery Corning, Crosby, Perry, Raymond. The JW marker is very low to the ground and, if there wasn’t a map at the cemetery, we would have missed it. I’m not sure how to go about confirming if this is John Wetmore’s gravesite. <>

“According to the burial records in the registers of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Yarmouth, John Wetmore (d. May, 1848) was buried in Beaver River. … My question now is whether this ‘JW’ stone is associated with any of the other families buried there, or if the identity of ‘JW’ is unknown and thus might be our John Wetmore.”

John, was born in Rye, July 7, 1755.

He removed to New Brunswick in 1783, where he was a government land surveyor till an advanced age prevented his attending to the duties pertaining to the office. He was a magistrate of Kings county, N.B. for some years, received during the Revolution a lieutenant’s commission in the British army; was at the battle of White Plains, but was not engaged in the combat. On the King’s troops removing to New Brunswick he was made a commandant of a company. Capt. Wetmore was a strong Royalist, as well as an ardent Churchman, as will be seen by the following entry and declaration, made by himself on the fly leaf of his family Bible:

John Wetmore, born at Rye, state of New York, July 7, 1755. Baptized by the Rev James Wetmore, Rector of Rye church. Landed at St. Johns commanding a company of loyalists, with the rank of captain. Confirmed in Kingston church by the Right Rev. Charles Inglish, D.D., Lord Bishop of Nova Scotia.


I, the above named John Wetmore, do hereby declare that I believe the United Church of England and Ireland, as by law established, to be a pure branch of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church; that for nearly seventy years I have lived in her communion, that in it I hope to die.

In the 89th year of age, in the year of our Lord, 1844.

He died at Yarmouth, N.S., May 4, 1848, aged 92 years and 10 month.
Burial: Beaver River Burial Ground, Beaver River, Nova Scotia

John Wetmore also wrote a report of the Great Fire of 1820 that destroyed much of Beaver River:

Source of the report: “The New Annual Register or General Repository of History, Politics, Arts, Sciences and Literature For the Year 1820.” London. 1821.

From the Section Entitled “Principal Occurrences” for November 1820, under the subsection titled “America” comes the following:

“An extensive and calamitous fire has spread its ravages for nearly one hundred miles in extent over the most fertile proportion of the north and western parts of Nova Scotia, from the neighbourhood of Yarmouth to the county of Annapolis. The fire continued burning for the space of three days, and such was its intensity that the very potatoes were burnt in the earth; houses, barns, fences, fields of grain, stock of all kinds, whole villages and settlements fell a prey to the devouring element, and not a vestige of vegetation or herbage remains. Several lives also are lost. From among several statements, we select the following, as containing a simple but affecting representation of the awful scene; and if what this writer relates of the distress which happened to his family and his immediate neighbours within his observation be true, what must have been the general calamity! The greatest space between the extremes without a house is between Yarmouth and Salmon River, seventeen miles. The settlement at Montagan alone contains several thousand souls.

The following is an extract of a letter from Mr. John Wetmore to his son at St. John’s. “On returning from Yarmouth, we ran under our bare poles for Bartlet’s River, hoping the tide was up; we in a few minutes were in the breakers, but without striking, and anchored safe; found the whole shore in flames eastward, landed near Porter’s, and followed the shore all round Black Point, the wind blowing a hurricane: the flames outran us, an immense fire behind Frank Davoo’s, which threatened destruction to every thing—-we reached the road behind this fire—-got home safe, took tea, thinking ourselves safe—-went to assist the French, who were moving; young Frank’s house in flames, and others not to be seen for the smoke—-we stayed perhaps twenty minutes–returned, met one of the children crying ‘Clarke’s house is on fire;’ we ran our best, met women and children flying before the tempest—-the mill, barn, and house, with twenty acres of land in a blaze—-trees falling in all directions—-we got to the house through forty rods of almost solid fire—-threw trunks, &c. into the well. I took a bed, tied a woollen blanket round it, and escaped for my life, the fire flying on me like a heavy shower of hail—-I fell under the bed, got breath, and ran—-fell again, nearly melted with heat and suffocated with smoke—-I rose once more, and fell again—-quit my load—-saw my boys a-head barefoot—-could not enter the fire—-they met me, and we got the bed safe through; Mr. Clarke came up with a book in his hand, nothing more saved, all burned in the well, fences and fields of potatoes swept clean. My fields, though not much burned, are all laid open to cattle and hogs; at sun-set found my house and uncle Nathaniel’s crowded with women and children, who left their all, and fled before the fiery tempest, from the neighbourhood of Beaver River. Wednesday morning, seven o’clock, a fine rain that deadened the fire; heard the settlement at Beaver River was all in ashes. Mr. Saunders, Clarke, and myself, went to their assistance, found but three houses standing for six miles in length. Thomas Trask has lost his house, new grist and saw mill, two barns full of grain, hay, &c. a yoke of oxen, one horse, two or three cows, several hogs, all their furniture, and a little boy four years old burnt in the house, having crept into a cradle and was left unpreceived, together with a trusty dog, which lay by its side.

Daniel has lost all—-a cow, two hogs, furniture, clothing, &c.; the word at sunset was to escape for their lives. Daniel took up his child, and bid his wife follow him and my brother Ronna—-others cried, Which way shall we fly? answer, To the lake—-Some reached it, others were cut off, and drove up the road for a mile or more, before an opening was found to the sea shore. Husbands and wives were parted by the fire and smoke, and did not meet again until the next day. Daniel took his wife (very sick) on his back to the edge of the lake, waded over some rods to a bog, which sunk with them ; but he found old stuff, and raised it so that his wife sat in the water until morning. Ronna lost them: he waded up to his neck, and there stood twelve hours, the fire often streaming in his face, when he was obliged to sink under, then rise and take breath. I found him on Wednesday, and took him home with me; he had eaten nothing for 26 hours. It was a melancholy scene to see fences swept away, fields of grain, potatoes, and turnips, all burnt up—-great numbers of cattle, sheep, and hogs, lying dead by or near the road side. Some persons were skinning cattle which were not so much burnt, others locking up their stock ; I saw two large hogs lying together alive, burnt so as not to walk, and we are not alone. I have just heard from Yarmouth, Chebouge, that much damage is done, many houses, barns, mills, &c. burnt; also through the French settlement above Montagu, a great many houses, barns, mill, &c. are destroyed; the French chapel, with the priest’s house, are consumed, one negro burnt; so much hay lost, it is supposed half the stock cannot be wintered. People from Yarmouth, on hearing of our distress, came up with ox and horse carts, chairs, and horses, to remove the sufferers, and I believe there were not two cart loads of furniture saved out of sixteen houses, from J. Clark’s to E. Coming’s, seven miles; Daniel has nothing left but a shirt and trowsers which he had on, his wife and child, nothing but what were on their backs, and set out for Yarmouth, on their stocking feet, the last I heard of her; but where they will go, or what he will do this winter, I know not; he has nothing to eat or wear.

Saturday, 16th.—-News has just arrived, that as far as Annapolis, 100 miles above this, is mostly in ashes, many lives lost, grain and hay mostly destroyed. How we are to live through the winter I know not. Daniel has not yet come here; perhaps he has followed his wife to Yarmouth, or he may be trying to save some of his potatoes, &c. I shall finish this and go in search of him. We are all employed (that is me and my two boys) in trying to save what little crop I have left. My buck wheat is nearly lost.”

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