Hambrook (Family), Mark

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                   Happy Occasion, One Regret As Hambrooks Celebrate
                                     By Doug Prince

In the midst of all the evening's activity, Don Hambrook found time to say of the Hambrook reunion, “Everything is going far beyond expectations.” He was commenting Saturday about halfway through the family reunion that saw some 200 in attendance from within the Miramichi and long distances away.

"We didn't expect quite as large an attendance. We prepared for over 200, but we didn't expect to get quite that many," he said.

Amidst the happy occasion, he had one regret - that Kenneth Aitken was not present. The B.C. family member prepares a family newsletter but could not attend because of work commitments. "I was sort of disappointed because he conceived the idea (of the reunion) in the first place," said Hambrook. Aitken sent the reunion a special issue of the .Hambrook Herald, the 12th to date. It normally runs four or five pages containing family stories and information.

                                     Popular Events

The banquet, sing-song and dance that evening had been preceded by a bus tour and social evening with a church service and family picnic the next day. The five-hour bus tour required two buses rather than a scheduled one to accommodate interested family members.

Rev. J. E. Morgan, who was instrumental in getting rectory repairs and then a new Trinity Anglican Church in Blackville, was guest speaker at the banquet. Morgan said it must have been a tremendous challenge for family pioneer Mark Hambrook to come to the little-developed Miramichi in 1831.

                                    Family Prizes

Part of the activities included the presentation of awards which included: oldest man, Waiter McConnell, 77, of Armstrong, B.C.; oldest woman at 81 and longest married at 58 years, Ethel Mountain of Blackville; and the furthest distance travelled, John and Moira Clayton of Quesnel, B.C., 4,400 miles.

Family members came from many Miramichi communities such as Renous, Newcastle, Blackville and Chatham, along with such distant, places as White Rock, B.C., Halifax, Gorham, Me., Calgary and England.

Reunion chairman Don Hambrook said the willingness of reunion committee members to work in organizing the event was beyond description. He also spoke highly of the part local newspapers had played with publicity. Besides Hambrook, other committee members included Anna Woulds, registration; Mrs. Ruth Hambrook, family tree; and Mrs. Donna Bell, catering.

                        Washington letter finds long, unknown Hambrook

Not long ago, a family descendant in the state of Washington worried about how long the Hambrook name would continue to exist. She had no idea that any Hambrooks existed anymore on the Miramichi where the first member settled 150 years ago. "My father told me when he left Canada that there were no Hambrooks left," said Mrs. Carol Ann Swanger. She's a daughter of Vernon Hambrook who with his wife and family left the Miramichi many years ago.

"I found these people by luck," she said. "An old lady who knew about genealogy was helping me and told me to simply write to 'Hambrook’, Renous." Swanger said the woman told her that with a small town a person could write a letter with just the surname and it would reach someone concerned. "I was just getting started in genealogy and she said 'start with what you know’.

Don Hambrook, in recalling the occasion, said the letter was sent by the post office to his uncle, the late David Hambrook, and he came to me very excited about the letter. As a result, Don Hambrook sent Mrs. Swanger a six-page letter in reply and surprised her.

Mrs. Swanger was able to be of considerable help to Mrs. Ruth Hambrook in adding to the family tree on display at the reunion.

                                    Native Returns

While Mrs. Swanger has never lived on the Miramichi,Mrs. Minnie (Russell) Richards of Winchenden, Mass. grew up here but left the Miramichi 55 years ago. She was born in Newcastle, the daughter of the late George Thomas Russell and Margaret (Cassidy) Russell. After marrying, she went to Massachusetts where she has remained. Mrs. Richards said she never wanted to leave the Miramichi and has returned to the Miramichi almost annually, particularly in the last few years. She is related to both the Anderson and Cassidy families of Burnt Church where she said she used to spend summers. Mrs. Richards is a cousin to both Anna AlIen and Senator Margaret Anderson.

                                    From Across Seas

Mrs. Dorothy (MacGregor) Blowers came with her husband, John, from Leeds, England - and lost the long-distance prize to a B.C. relative. She said she came to the Miramichi for a three weeks holiday with the main aim being to attend the Hambrook reunion. A brother to Hubert MacGregor of Renous, she was brought up in that community. She• met in Canada during the war and afterward married her British husband, thus becoming a war bride in a less common manner than usual. While it was over 20 years before she returned to Canada, she's paid several visits in recent times, including four occasions in the past five years.

                                       One Missing

At the reunion, there were descendants of five of pioneer Mark Hambrook's eight children -Alfred, Mary, John, James and William.

Descendants of Mark were unable to attend at the last minute, while Thomas had no children.

That leaves only relatives of Catherine unfound. Catherine married James Gilks of the Blissfield area and had three children, Nat, Mattie and Grace Gilks. Their last known home was in B.C.

All but Mary and William eventually left the Miramichi meaning that most of the Miramichi Hambrooks are direct descendants of these two.

Source: Miramichi Weekend – July 31, 1981

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