McDonald, Janet

2 Jul 1890

Janet McNeil, daughter of John McNeil (Brown) and Mary Grant, and the widow of the late Angus McDonald (Malcolm), died at the rear of the Cove on the 2nd of July.  The deceased was a woman of strong and sterling character.  Although she lived over one hundred years, she was never really sick until the end came.  The only failure of her faculties was a slight deafness that crept upon her for the last years of her life, but, strange to say, she recovered her hearing during the last days of her life.  She raised a family of seven boys and seven girls, who are to-day with their descendants widely scattered over Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the United States.  On the 4th of July her remains were brought to the parish church, Arisaig (damaged paper) Mass was sung for the repatriation of her soul.  In the absence of the ordin… (damaged paper) Miss Maggie McAdam and Miss M. (damaged paper) sang the various part of the  (damaged paper) remarkable sweetness and exp… (damaged paper) …pie Jesus was  touchingly re…(damaged paper) Ergo sung to the p…(damaged paper) of summer, “…(damaged paper). Rubric or not, (damaged paper) … one to publish on…(damaged paper) …vements in Contravention of the Rubrics) under the circumstances quite appropriate. She was indeed the last in our parish of the noble race that raised the first smoke over their log huts in the primeval of forests of our country.  The deceased was born at the Cove in June 1790 and was consequently in the 101 year of her age.  It was but 14 years before then that the first white settlers settled at the “Town Point”, near the present town of Antigonish, the year 1776 as the records testify, being the date of the first settlement of Antigonish.  About the same date one or two families pitched their tents in Arisaig on what is known now as the Glebe farm.  A few years afterwards two families, John McNeil (Brown) and John McNeil (Breac) penetrated the forest and raised smoke in the fine locality now known as Malignant Cove.  The subject of our notice was the second white girl ever born in the Cove. At the time of her birth, from the Cove to Arisaig, there were none but the two families already named.  A Protestant family of the same of Cameron  preceded the McNeils in the Cove, but on the advent of the two Papist families, Cameron fearing the too close proximity of the Papists as a contagion, pulled up (damaged paper) and left the place.  I record the (damaged paper) …rative of the spirit of the times (damaged paper) …ching of Knox, of the Westminster (damaged paper) …ssion, and of Bunyan, had inoc…(damaged paper) minds of Protestants with fearful (damaged paper) about Catholics as the spiritual (damaged paper). of Antichrist.  What a wonderous change in that respect has the century brought about: The 18th century was indeed an iron age3 for the Catholics of the world.  Dark and lowering was the outlook for Catholics in the Highlands of scotland about one hundred years ago.  How different is the Scotland of to-day from the dark period when the great  Bishop Hay wandered up and down the country about his weary work, “licker a thief than a bishop” as a quaint writer of the period described him.  In false liberality about religion I have no faith;  hatred of hearsay is one of the virtues of the saints.  But I have often pondered with satisfaction how the fierce bigotry of the past has subsided within my own recollection.  Coming to this country and in many instances driven away from their own misty shores and ancestral glens, by the persecuting spirit of worthless upstarts our noble and brave fathers wisely clung together  in the land of their exile.  As a notable result of this, I may mention that there is not to-day a single Protestant family within the bounds of the parish of Arisaig – a state of things somewhat  rare at least in our country.  The original home and habitat of the McNeils of the Cove was the Isle of Barra on the west coast of Scotland.  I have always heard the Barra men spoken of as being noted for their faithful adherence to the Faith of their fathers, and my own experience tends to confirm the tradition.  The immediate occasion of their coming to this country is thus told.. When the American war of Independence was in full black, England sent her (damaged paper) sergeants to the Western Isles .  (damaged paper) … second Regiment was raised in … (damaged paper) …and was largely composed of McNeils (damaged paper) chief and commander was the Lord of Barra – Roderick McNeil.  And elder brother was drafted, but John, being then in the twenty second year  of his age, offered himself as a substitute and was accepted.  In the army he was called John McNeil (Brown), as a distinction  from John McNeil (Brene), John McNeil (Ban), John McNeil (Black), etc.  names so numerous in the Regiment.  In this Regiment John McNeil Brown came to the U. States.  At the close of the war, the Regiment came down to Halifax and was there disbanded, each soldier being presented with a document entitling him to 500 of Crown land.  Some of them went to Canada, while others moved eastward to the county of Pictou.  Our hero has sojourned for some time at the middle river where he formed the acquaintance of Mary Grant.  After he had made an opening in the forest and raised his shanty at the Cove, John brought his Mary to Arisaig where, in the presence of the late Rev. Alexander McDonald they were united in the indissoluble bonds of Matrimony.  This John McNeil Brown and Mary Grant were the parents of the Janet McNeil whose remains were committed to mother earth here on last Friday.