The Parish of St. Andrews was erected under the Diocese of Quebec. The pastor first appointed to this extensive area was 27 year old Father John Commins from Carlow County, Ireland. His youthfulness must have been an asset, for the only way of reaching some parts of his parish was on horseback. This would have been his mode of travel on weekday trips to Rollingdam. It is recorded that he said Mass on November 23, 1836 in a house near McGuire's hill inhabited by a Catholic named Griffin. This was located near the C.P.R. station at the time. He celebrated mass occasionally at John Scullin's home on Greenock Road and at Paddy Scullin's above the railway.
William Scullin of Rollingdam, at whose home the priest was often entertained, recalled many years later that when he was a child, in about 1840, he had crawled through a window space of seven by nine inches and had seen for the first time a piece of white bread. (Locally the staple foods of the time were fish, corn and potatoes.)
Before the Rollingdam Road was laid out, the only means of travel was by horseback except in winter when from the mill below McCrum's (the McFarland mill) lumber was hauled across the settlement out to the Board Road.
Soon another Irishman would step his foot on Rollingdam ground for the first time.
It has been said that John McGowan(#1) first lived on the main road to St. Andrews, in the vicinity of Dochet's island where his son, John Jr. was born.
Listed as a resident of St. Andrews, on December 13, 1837, John McGowan(#1) purchased a block of land of approximately 100 acres in Rollingdam from a John Grant, also of St. Andrews, who was the original owner (by grant in the late 1700's). It is recorded that McGowan paid 80 pounds of lawful money of the Province of New Brunswick for this land.
The property is described as being bounded by the Digdeguash River on the east, by the William Scullan (note the last name is spelled incorrectly on the register) property on the north and by the McKinney property on the south (although the property owner on the west was recorded, I did not note the name). It is assumed they also purchased their land shortly before, since none were the original grantees. It can also be assumed these purchases were all made sometime after 1800.
In the year 1841, the Rollingdam Road being swamped out to allow the passage of carts, the half-dozen families above the C.P.R. railway line deserted their log cabins for framed houses down below and no longer had need to use their entry from Greenock Road.
In fact, John McGowan either moved his cabin down below, or he abandoned one
above the railway and rebuilt another where it still exists today. It was probably used for a short time until
a house could be built. The small structure has been used as a garage since I can remember and in years
gone by, my father often referred to it as "The Old House" for reasons that are now obvious.
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