Quebec revisited!

My July trip to Stanstead County in search of SUTTONs

by Jim Sutton, Editor

It is very difficult for me to know where to begin to describe my too short but wonderful trip through Vermont into Quebec this past July. If you were to know me you'd understand that I am easily distracted into sidebar discussions or explanations on any subject but generally manage to find my way back to closure on a given topic. So I struggle now whether to tell you first about my wonderful hosts, Ian and Shirley Smith; the beauty of an automobile drive through upstate New York, Vermont and lower Quebec counties; or the SUTTON family research breakthroughs that I had.

I will begin chronologically. [That sentence proves I'm no professional writer!] I finished a three day business seminar last July in New Jersey and left immediately for Stanstead Co., Quebec. Stanstead county and the town of the same name are immediately north of the state of Vermont. I drove through New York and Vermont the first day and got as far as Burlington, VT where I spent the night. Burlington is in Chittenden county where many early generations of Sutton families lived. It was exciting to drive through the towns with names I've come to know from hours of census study.

The next morning I left for a short remaining drive to the Canadian border, fully trusting the two hour drive time estimate provided the previous evening by the motel clerk. After all, she was a local inhabitant who would obviously be able to provide an accurate travel time estimate to the nearby border.

As I approached the two hour drive time estimate the next morning my AAA map showed me I still had a good distance to go. I'm sure glad I had my radar detector with me and that I was flying along on relatively empty county roads. This reminds me of another story that I'll try to tell later on, chronologically. When I arrived at the Stanstead County Registry Office I was only an hour past my appointed time of meeting Ian Smith. Ian, of course, had arrived early and was waiting patiently in his car for my arrival.

It may be useful to note here, for other genealogist's benefit, that the Registry Office rules in Quebec seem to be interpreted uniquely in each locality. This Stanstead County office seem more severe in that they wanted to charge both Ian and I an hourly rate to research the land records. So Ian suggested he visit the Stanstead Historical Society museum and library just down the street while I looked for SUTTONs in the land records. I found a number of entries for several SUTTONs [Philpot Sutton, John Sutton, ] who came to the Barnston and Stanstead township areas shortly after they were opened for settlement around 1800. But the names were not of my family line. I should note before leaving the subject of Registry Offices what an excellent resource these are to genealogists. These county offices contain recorded land transactions as expected but also, frequently, many other documents of interest to the researcher. Wills, guardianships, estate settlements, etc. all found their way to the county Registry Office. On my last visit Ian took me to the Drummondville, Quebec Registry Office where I found much information. He has always found them to be of immense value to his research efforts. I agree; put them on your list when you plan a research trip to Quebec.

Later that day after a wonderful lunch in a local and very French cafe, Ian and I found a Sutton genealogy in the Stanstead Historical Society library. We found there an old publication that is a compilation of local and family history articles called "Forest and Clearings" from The Stanstead Journal which date back to the early days of Stanstead County. An article focused on the Philpot Sutton family and their arrival in Barnston from England after eight years of moving around New England. This was all very exciting and also frustrating as I'm sure you'll understand. Here we'd found a wealth of information on this Sutton line but it was clear this was not my ancestors. I will include in this issue some of the extensive information collected on this English Sutton family.

Stanstead Historical Society
Colby-Curtis Museum
35 Dufferin Rd
Stanstead QC J0B3E0 CANADA
tel: (819) 876-7322 fax: (819) 876-7936

After all the Stanstead area research facilities closed, Ian Smith took me on a scenic drive north to his home in Danville, Quebec. We avoided the four lane super highway for the beautiful county roads. My visit last September was at an overwhelmingly pretty time of the year. Many of you have probably seen the Fall change of season color in the northeast. You've probably taken a weekend trip to drive up through Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine. Quebec is similarly spectacular. When we arrived at Ian's home, Shirley still had dinner warming and ready for us. I can almost not describe to you how wonderful Ian and his family have been to me. They are of a place and lifestyle that is almost forgotten to many of us who live in busy and bustling cities south of the border. Plus, they are one of the remaining few English families in their town, county and province. I know they really delight in the periodic contacts they get from American researchers who are researching their early Canadian roots. This trip I had an additional treat in meeting Ian and Shirley's youngest daughter, Jenny, who has now graduated college and works nearby for a snowmobile & jetski manufacturer. She is also quite attractive --- heavy emphasis on the quite!

Over the next four days, Ian and I went to many area historical societies, national archives, churches, cemeteries, etc., in search of my Joshua and Robert Sutton. When we "crashed" a wedding reception at the St. James Anglican Church in Hatley township, the minister, who also coincidentally has an interest in genealogy, told us of the XX cemetery only 2 miles east where most of the Philpot Sutton family can be found. He also mentioned that a female Sutton descendant married a French farmer and lives on the adjacent farm. So we had a nice visit with her after recording most of the information that could be gleaned off the headstones in the cemetery.

The St. James minister did confirm from his records that Robert Sutton married a Sarah C. Buckland in 1829 which we had learned earlier. This is my line. The Buckland's were a well established family descended from a military general; they came to Stanstead from Vermont/ New Hampshire in about 1806. An article in the Buckland Genealogy file at the Stanstead County Historical Society described a large Buckland family gathering in 1908 where a ten generation Buckland genealogy was read. We were not able to locate anyone with knowledge of this genealogy record. Because I do not speak French and Ian does fluently, he was often the lead interviewer on our visits. I would chime in on cue whenever I got Ian's nod. I learned that a few well placed French phrases worked wonderfully.

It was in the Registry Office in Coaticook that the hours of line by line reading of land registry records was rewarded. We found a pair of land sales where Robert Sutton, Jr. bought and sold five acres of farm land. In 1882 when the land is sold, Robert Sutton, Jr. is described as "of Turner, Maine." This simple reference led me to look up the census and vital records microfilms for Turner, Maine. I found Robert and Sarah Buckland Sutton and several of the children there. I believe that several of Robert's children went to Maine before Robert and Sarah followed from Quebec. The historical context of this period is that a great many of the English speaking families were leaving Quebec as the French speaking population expanded. The Turner vital records' death entries offer a few tantalizing hints on areas in other New England states to look for the Sutton children. I am now contacting genealogical groups in Maine to find anyone with Sutton surname knowledge.

I was introduced to one of my last pleasant treats of this trip as Ian and I were returning from another outing to Stanstead county. As we were getting close to the dinner hour we decided to take the superhighway home. It would be only a little more than an hour driving time to reach Danville. I was paying more attention to the other motorists flying along at 80 - 85 mph than I was to the French language highway signs. Ian settled in to story telling, confident in my ability to find our way home. So we're barreling along with the other traffic when Ian finally surfaced from our conversation to remark that we'd been driving long enough to be home or nearly so. About this same time I began to discern the skyline of a large city in the distance ahead of us. After only a brief time to get his bearings, Ian pronounced that we had obviously missed the turnoff in Sherbrooke where the highway bends west toward Montreal.

I had that sinking feeling in my stomach immediately as I understood which skyline we were approaching, rapidly. Not to worry! We took the next exit and being fully armed with road maps we quickly reconnoitered our route over to the Trans-Canadian Highway toward Quebec City which would be part of our quickest route home to Danville. Our short hour drive home turned out to be more than three hours. Yes, dinner was still warming when we arrived.

The treat came the next morning when Ian took me over to a nearby farm he had been describing on our way home the night before. The family made maple syrup and other maple products. I brought home more than a dozen pint cans of heavenly delicious pure, CANADIAN, maple syrup. Very inexpensive, too.

In case you're interested, the farmer's name, address and telephone number are:

Robert Frost tel: (819) 839-2826
340 Rte 255 North, R.R. #1
Danville, PQ J0A 1A0
CANADA

I know they can use your business. Even with shipping you'd probably get a real bargain for delicious, No.1 Extra Clear maple syrup.

A descendency chart for the Sutton families found will be printed in the next issue [#20].


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