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The history of Middle Brook, Gambo, as a permanent settlement of peoples of European and Mi'kmaq descent begins on Doloman's Point.
In late May or early June of 1834 James and Susanna (nee Honey burn) Pritchett and their four children - Mary, Elizabeth, John, and James - landed at Doloman's Point, Freshwater Bay, to set up permanent residence there. James was 33 years old and his wife was 34. Over the next seventeen years they would have another eight children - Anne Patience (1836), Job (1838), William Absolom (1839), Caroline(1841), Susanna (1845), George Barnet (1846), Abraham (1849) and Amy "Emma" (1851) - and lay down roots for a new settlement that would outgrow itself causing its residents to abandon the site to move to nearby Middle Brook.
According to local lore, James' father, Job Pritchett, had left England sometime around 1812 to escape the press gangs of that era. He moved to Goose Bay, Bonavista South (in the Bloomfield area). Sometime after that Job secured exclusive salmon fishing rights (maybe from Benjamin Lester and Company of Trinity) to Middle Brook, the Gambo River, and Taverner's (Traverse) Brook. That meant that every spring Job, with his son, James, and other workers came into Freshwater Bay to prosecute that fishery. So James was very familiar with Freshwater Bay and Doloman's Point when he moved there in 1834. James's father, Job, had passed away the previous year (1780-1833) and now James was the holder of his father's exclusive rights to fish the three rivers. More than likely James and Susanna were accompanied in their move by the Barrow, Barry, Inder, and Feltham families who worked for James. Available to these settlers was not just the lucrative salmon fishery, but a potential logging and sawmilling industry. The abundance of wildlife in the Bay and up the three rivers - beaver, martin, lynx, fox (for fur), and bear and caribou and ducks and geese and hares for food -- also added to the attractiveness of the area. James believed that with God's help (he was a very religious man) and with hard work, they could build a new and prosperous settlement.
With James and his father and their fellow workers having spent many summers (May to August) prior to 1834 in Freshwater Bay, it's likely that when they settled in 1834 they had already built their houses and the requisite wharves and slipways and storage sheds right on the nose of Doloman's Point. The land on which they built had already been cleared of trees and brush by Beothucks and Mi'kmaq who had preceded them into Freshwater Bay. The Beothuck were no more, the last of that unfortunate race, Shawnandithit, having passed away in St. John's in 1829. The Mi'kmaq, who had preceded them as permanent settlers in the Bay and had encamped on Doloman's Point, now numbered a dozen so settled unto on reserve a few miles away on the northern bank of the Middle Brook River. In 1887 there were seven houses on Doloman's Point and in Clay Cove. These houses belonged to George and Jane Barry, George and Diana Inder, Philip and Mary Feltham, John and Ruth Pritchett, Abraham and Rebecca Pritchett, and a James Feltham along with, of course, James and Susanna.
Since James was primarily a fisher of salmon he had to build a cooperage to saw the staves needed to make tierces. Tierces were large barrels that could hold 136kg (300 pounds) of pickled salmon. The packed salmon he sold to merchants in St. John's who shipped them to Europe where it was a favourite food for the merchants and aristocrats. For instance, in 1872 James' sons - John, Abraham, William A., George B., and James - reported that they had netted 21 tierces of salmon on the Gambo River that summer and had shipped them in their own schooner to P. and L. Tessier of St. John's who paid them 4 pounds, and 10 shillings (around $120 in 1970 dollars). Meanwhile around this time the Pritchetts established at the mouth of Traverse Brook a salmon cannery. The cannery did not prosper for very long because by the late 1800's the number of salmon entering the rivers in Freshwater Bay was in steep decline. The decline, in hindsight, was inevitable. The Pritchetts, like all river lords in Newfoundland having exclusive access to rivers, would tail out their nets at the mouth of a river in the spring and hold them there until the annual run of salmon up the rivers was over in July or August. They lifted these nets for one day a week, Sunday, which meant that salmon could enter the river unimpeded only one day a week. That one day proved to be insufficient to allow enough salmon to enter the river to replace themselves in their annual spawning.
The Pritchetts and other residents, as the salmon declined, turned to the forest industry to replace the salmon as a source of wealth. On the rivers in which they had set their salmon nets they now built sawmills and produced lumber for the insatiable lumber markets of St. John's and other large communities in Conception Bay.
Census reports show that by 1884 there were 41 people in Doloman's Point/Clay Cove. But, already, the Point was being overcrowded. Along with the original families, James' sons were now grown and married and had to have houses of their own. His son, John, had married Ruth Barry in 1855 and they had built a house on Doloman's Point. His son, William A., had married Susannah Bourne in 1863 and they were also living on Doloman's Point. His son, Abraham, had married Rebecca Cross in 1866 and had built a house in Clay Cove. The crowding on the point probably led James' son, George B., who married Rachel White in 1872, to build their house in Middle Brook. Their action reflected the reality of the time. Most men were now taking a good part, if not most, of their living from woods work and sawmill operations along the Middle and Traverse Brooks and in and around these rivers' watersheds. So people were no longer settling on the Point and other people already living there were starting to move away. The first to leave was James Feltham. Within a few years the Pritchetts had all moved to the south side of Middle Brook River while the Inders, Barrows, and Felthams took to the north side. By 1894 Doloman's had been totally resettled. Only the cemetery remained.
Susanna died at the age of 91 and was buried in the cemetery at Doloman's Point beside her husband, James, who had passed away in 1858. Their son, James , passed away in the same year from the flu and was buried beside his mother and father, leaving to mourn his wife, Amelia Barry, with whom he had nine children. Also buried there were Arthur Lewis Pritchett, Sarah Barry, John Madgwick, infant James Pritchett,et al.
Even before Doloman's Point had completely resettled George B. and his wife Rachel (1890) had built a water-powered sawmill at Water Point on the Middle Brook River. By 1892 George's brother, William A., with his wife, Susanna (neeBourne), had also moved to Middle Brook South and were the owners/operators of a water-powered saw mill on the Middle Brook River at the Over Falls. And their brother, Abraham, and his wife, Rebecca, owned and operated a sawmill on Traverse Brook as well as a general store in Middle Brook. These three, along with their brother John, also continued to hold the salmon rights which they had inherited from their father. By 1901 these four men were part of the fifty families living in Middle Brook South who now had their own church and school (Church of England). Meanwhile, across the River the Inders moved into the sawmill business and the Barrows and Felthams worked in the woods and in the mills. They became Salvationists and built their own church and school.
In 1964 the community of Middle Brook amalgamated with Dark Cove and the combined community incorporated itself under the name of "Riverwood". However, that name never took hold because nobody used it, but when "Riverwood" amalgamated with Gambo on October 3, 1980, the amalgamated communities took the name of Gambo. It stuck. Now, there is only Gambo .
Church of England Cemetery
This cemetery was declared a historic place by the Gambo Town Council in 2011.
Although the aboriginal Beothucks and Mi'kmaq were frequent visitors who encamped on this point and may have buried here their deceased, the earliest known burial in this cemetery occurred, most likely, in April 1777. The burial plot used was marked by a headstone that identified the deceased as a nine year old boy named John Madgwick. Other than the information engraved on the headstone nothing further is known about the boy, his family, the circumstances of his death, and why he would have been buried here. What, though, is very interesting is that the headstone was still standing and decipherable in 1970(?) when a local Anglican clergyman, afraid it would collapse and be buried under moss and grass, removed it from this site. After being stored for a number of years in the Middle Brook Anglican Church it was retrieved, cleaned up, the lettering restored, and erected outside the entry to the church. It is still there today.
It is fitting to note that the founder of the Doloman's Point settlement - James Pritchett is buried here. James, who settled permanently on Doloman's Point in 1834, died here on December 19, 1858. He was 57 years old. Otto Tucker who was a Salvation Army teacher and cadet in Middle Brook in the 1950 wrote down the inscription engraved on James Pritchett's headstone which has since crumbled and has been covered with grass and brush.
Another person known to be buried in this cemetery is Sarah Barry. Sarah Barry was born in 1872 the daughter of George and Jane Barry who were at the time living in Clay Cove. Sarah probably died as an infant.
Another headstone that had already shattered when this photo was taken in 2005 was that of Arthur Lewis Pritchett. The photo illustrates that Arthur Lewis was the son of Abraham and Rebecca Pritchett of Clay Cove. Arthur Lewis was born on October 1, 1882. He died in 1884.
Although there is no headstone remaining in this cemetery to mark her spot, church burial records reveal that James's wife, Susanna Honeyburn, is also buried here. She died on May 16, 1891 at the age of 91. Nine days later her son James, age 57, died and was also buried in this cemetery.
Who else might be buried in this cemetery is purely speculative. For example, the records show that James Pritchett's father died in 1833 in Freshwater Bay but there has been nothing found to indicate where he was buried. Is it possible he's also buried on Doloman's Point, or was he buried in Goose Bay, Bonavista Bay? As well, there is no burial record for Abraham Pritchett's first wife, Rebecca (nee Cross), for the Anglican Cemetery in Middle Brook. It therefore is likely that she would have been buried here in Doloman's Point., and since infant mortality was very high at this point in history it is more than plausible that other children were buried in this cemetery.