Returning Family Pocket Watches Give Timeless Insights into Local Genealogy

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This summer, the Fredericton Region Museum acquired a beautiful, yet mismatched,  pair of pocket watches from Philip Johnstone Burpee. Burpee, while living in Alberta, sent the watches back home to New Brunswick. Though the watches have different origins, they have come together through the Burpee family, tying together and continuing New Brunswick’s history.

These watches showcase a wide portion of New Brunswick’s history, reflecting the inter-family relationships and the ingrained history of the province.  The families, while they have substantially dispersed and grown, have held on to their New Brunswick roots and heritage.  The watches act as a solid reminder of our common New Brunswick ancestry – one that has continuously connected families into the present day.

The Hanington Pocket Watch acts as a reminder of the intertwining family and community relationships acting as a basis of New Brunswick’s history. This watch belonged to Reverend E.A.W. Hanington. Hanington, a prominent religious figure in the region, took over the Maugerville and Burton parishes in 1866. His daughter, Maud, later married Lawrence Johnstone Burpee.

The Eliza Bentley Pocket Watch ties to the Reverend E.A.W. Watch through the inter-family marriages in the region. While the watch has a strong connection to the DeMill family, it eventually fell into the hands of Lawrence Johnstone Burpee. Lawrence, whose Grandfather (a DeMill) allegedly owned two ships named after Bentley, later came in possession of the watch.

Between Lawrence and Maud Burpee the two watches, and several families, have been drawn together in these small memorials of local history. It is through this level of local preservation that the story of the Burpee’s and their pocket watches has survived.

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