William Orser

Male 1763 - 1844  (~ 81 years)
Person ID: I3903   |  Last Modified: 27 Jul 2021
   Has 13 ancestors and more than 100 descendants in this family tree.

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  • Name William Orser  [1

    • Tradition says that William Orser served the cause of the British in Captain Philip's' Troop of the King's American Dragoons. As a loyalist, he left his home in Ossining, New York in 1783, and in the company of a few other youths, walked from Ossining to the Saint John River in New Brunswick. Another version says that he came to New Brunswick with English surveyors and helped to lay out the province of New Brunswick, and for his services he received a large tract of land 150 miles north of the city of Saint John, the land upon which the town of Hartland now stands. This second version is obviously inaccurate. The earliest recorded land grant made to William Orser is recorded at Fredericton, New Brunswick, in Crown Land Grants, Book B, page 1, which shows Grant No. 43, Prince William, New Brunswick "unto William Orser the lot Number 49", granted 19 May 1786,and registered 10 Oct 1786. Seven years later he received another grant of land. Grant No. 273, "Island lot being Lot. No. 76, Bear Island, York County" was granted to William Orser, 1 Feb 1793. The tract of land which he received in Carleton County was not granted until 1809. It was part of the so-called "Wakefield Grant, to William Turner and 87 others, dated 20 Jun1809." Uncle Charles Orser, in his Life and Ministry of the Reverend George W. Orser , said that William Orser came up the river to settle on the Hartland site shortly after his second marriage,about 1801.
      Certain statements by early diarists and historians would suggest that many times the early settlers came in and took possession of land before any legal grant was made. We do not know precisely when our ancestor actually came to the Hartland site, but we do know that the land there was granted to him in 1809,as shown in Grants Book D, page 366: ..."unto the said William Orser, lot number 45 and lot number 46, and the lower half of lot number 47 in the eastern division and the Island ccalled the middle Peckagomique Island containing five hundred acres." It is stated that the six islands included in this grant were (1) Indian Island, (2) Peckagomoique Island, (3)"the Island commonly called middle Peckagomique Island opposite to the mouth or discharge of said River," (4) Peckagomique Island, (5) Presque Isle Island, and (6) Shicktahawk Island.
      Besides these three parcels of land that were granted to him by the Crown, William Orser acquired at least one other piece of land by purchase. The Registry Office Records of New Brunswick, at Fredericton, show that in 1797 he bought Lot No. 47 in Block 4 in the Parish of Prince William,near the lot granted to him in 1786. And we find that he sold this property two years later for L95. Both he and his wife Mary signed the deed dated 10 Jul1799, and registered 26 Jan 1801. We find alsso that jn 1803 he sold the land on Bear Island that had been granted to him in 1793. His wife did not join in signing the deed in this transaction. By th9t time he had married his second wife, and it may be that the wife was not required to join in a transaction concerning property which her husband had owned before the marriage. Also we may surmise that this was made at the time when the family was preparing to move up the river to settle on the Hartland site, although this would not necessarily be so.
      About 1790 William Orser married Mary Craig, and about the same time Mary's brother James Craig married Mary Blake. During the next decade the two families had six children each. In 1800 James Craig mysteriously disappeared. It is said that he left the house one day and did not return; nobody ever saw or heard of him after that. At about this time William Orser's wife died, and he subsequently marred Mary (Blake) Craig, and this second marriage also produced six children. Although we have been able to name only five Orser children of the first marriage, I fee! confident that there were six, because the descendants have made a kind of riddle or conundrum of the situation: How would it be that he had 12 children; she had 12children; but all together there were only 18 children?
      In 1809 William wrote to his cousin Joseph Belyea a letter which fortunately is extant. This letter is quoted on page 403. The Orser-Be!yea Letter (Prefatory note:Following is a copy of a letter written by William Orser(W) to his cousin Joseph Belyea. Since William here addresses Joseph as his cousin, this letter helps to establish this William Orser as a son of Jan & Rachel (Belyea).The original of this letter is now in the possession of a Belyea descendant, Mr. Frederick R. Boyle, 267 Grove Street, Reading, Mass. 01867)

      To Joseph Bulyea
      Long Island, Queens County [New Brunswick] sept. 17, 1809
      From Wakefield, N.B.
      Dear Joseph
      I take this opportunity to inform you of my being in good health at present. Hoping these few lines may find you in the same and a!! your family. I will be glad to see you and Aunt Sally. I have laid out in my mind several times to cum to see you but I could not make it out convenient but I am always inquirin of your well doing.
      I am informed that your children are a!!or bigger part married and doing well. There was one Mr. Hennery was at my place who informed me that your daughter Susanna was married to a man to this name who is in a great weay of business and recommends him to the highest manner of industry and care.
      As I never expected that hapiness of seeing you or any of my kindred at my place as I am a great distance from you and I laid out in my mind as their is nothing more than this what I see at present, If God willing I shall cum down and see you this winter.
      Remember my loveto the hole of your family and to the rest of al my fiiend - so no more but remain,

      Your loveen cossin till death
      Willm Orser

      I wish if it were convenient to write to me to let me know how you all was.

      (Note: On 29 Nov 1967, Margorie (Belyea) Rennis wrote a letter to Amy (Downing) Burroughs in which she commented on the Orser-Belyea letter just quoted above, and then she went on to speak of some of the activities of those early days in New Brunswick. The following is an excerpt from that letter.)
      Please don't be critical of the way this letter may appear.Remember that this was so many years ago and opportunities for getting schooling were very limited. I think for that day and age it was a very commendable effort and expression of a warn-hearted person. I think it is very touching in that these people, having come of their necessity to hew a new life out of the wilderness were missing the contacts they had enjoyed with those they had much in common with and so often unable to get together in companionship and kinship. To get suitable land to farm, they often had to give up their grants they drew by lot, once they had seen what they had drawn, as it had no potential for farming.
      You may not realize the connection regarding William's visiting in the winter. It was not just because they would be busy clearing land and with getting in crops in summer. Most visiting was done in the winter because there were no roads built i in many areas. The river froze over, trails were blazed by putting trees in the ice to mark safe tracts(where the tide came up, there could be open spaces due to the sea water coming up the river for many miles, up from the high tides in the BaBay of Fundy and the reversing of the falls at Saint John). They would be able to go by horse and sleigh over the snow-covered frozen ground to the river the follow the safe trail blazed on the ice to see their family and friends. Where the riveer froze across, they could cross over very easily in winter. It would have been a long trip for William to visit Joseph in winter and to have wanted to undertake this meant there were warm family ties.My father used to tell me stories as a child about the happy times they had and that they visited a lot. He told me how he and his brother William had skated from Belyea's Point, their home, to Gagetown (which would be over 20 miles), stay overnight with cousins and come back next day. My father's skates were still at home when our home was burned. These skates were made by the blacksmith. A very long runner which was curled up at the front end. The back screwed into the heel of their boots and a strap of leather came through the wooden block that the runner was imbedded in, crossed over the foot and around the ankle. These were called "LongReachers" after the section of the river from Belyea's Point up, called the Long Reach. They carried snowshoes with them always in winter as this was another necessity when the snow got heavy. The Indians made the snowshoes which they traded for other things. If people traveled a long way, there were places where they could be put up overnight.
      It is said that William and his second wife, Mary (Blake),got on very well with the many Indians near whom they lived in the early years at the mouth of the Becaguimac. There has been a story told that when Mary was a young girl, she was kidnapped by Indians and that she lived with them for sometime before she was rescued.

      " Kidnapped
      (Prefatory note: The following story is taken directly from Sam Barter's booklet on the Orser family. It has no documentation and I have found no other written version of this legend. One can readily believe that this story has its origin in a true incident of the times. However, it is impossible to know how much misinformation and exaggeration has come into the story in the oral telling through many years.Even as it stands, it is a precious bit of folk-lore that may give the reader interesting insights into the life of that early period. I quote the story directly as told in the Barter booklet. (S.G. Barter, A Short History of the Orser Family ,Avondale, N.B., 1951, p. 26-29)
      Now I will add a fact of a historical event. Some 50years ago my brother James and his wife (who was formerly Lottie Wallace, and I had a hunting trip up the Tobique River, and on up the Wapske River; 10 miles up that river is a plain, about 20 acres of flat plain, with here and there a large tree, on the South side of the Wapske River, known as the Stewart plain.Old settlers told us how it received its name; in the year 1780 the Indians raided the settlers along the St. John River ddown near Saint John, and a little girl(was taken?)s(as near as I can find out she was the Mary Blake who first married to Mr.James Craig and later to Mr. William Orser, before they came up to his grant of land at the mouth of the Beqaguimac), N No one knew where the child was, dead or alive,but a few years after she was lost and peace was made between the British and Americans (who had been granted their independence) the Indians had a village just below the ferry between St.Ann's (now Fredericton) and St. Mary's Ferry, so called, on the East side of the 'River, and each spring the up-fiver Indians would come down after the ice ran out and bring down their furs and trade them out with the Traders, for things they needed. This particular year a Trader who had opened a store on the East side of the ferry (and to this day the long made-road of stone that led out for a long way from the East end of the ferry can be plainly seen - just above the bridge that people are ccrossing on) so that those wishing to cross could not come clear over. There is a store there yet. I do not know the name of the first trader, but the Bowlin Bros. Now do business there. This time the Indians were there and had done most of theiir trading and about to go back upriver. One of the Chiefs came to the store and wanted more liquor but had only a Church of England prayer book, with silver caps on the Book and inside the cover saw the name written there, the Family of the lost girl, so he gave the Indian what he wanted for the Book and went over at once to St. Ann's and showed the Officers there the Book.

      Nova Scotia once had covered all that is New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. New Brunswick had been formed into a province and the Government had been established at what had been called St. Ann, now it was renamed"Fredericton". A Captain of the Rangers who had been granted land up there near the new place of Government of N.B., at once advised the Trader to return across the River and try and keep the Indians there for a few days more and he would take a party of the Rangers up the river and find the girl, if possible, as it was quietly rumored by friendly Indians that a young white girl was up there. The Captain told the Trader to tell the Indians that his birthday was coming and he would like all the Indians to stay and help celebrate and he would pass out drinks and they all could celebrate. The Indians stayed and Capt. Stewart and his party departed up River in a longboat. They reached the Indian Village at the mouth of the Tobique River about night time. All the able bodied Indians were still away. Capt. Stewart made a good look and enquiry for the missing girl but did not find her. There was another village up the Tobique so up went the Captain, but a young Indian runner had gone post-haste overland to the village (at the mouth of the Wapske)and gave the alarm, as that was where the girl was, so before the Rangers reached the village the girl was taken 10 miles up the Wapske River to another village there, where the plain is, so Capt. Stewart l left åle big boat at Wapske mouth, as that river was too shallow and rapid a stream for the big boat,leaving a guard with the boat, he and party followed the Wapske up to the big plain, two brooks had to be crossed, first Beaver brook and a mile or more over a raise of ground, to the Over Rock brook. There the Indians tried to stop the Rangers, but as all the older able-bodied men were away and only the old people too aged to go down river to trade, and children and women who could not go.Capt. Stewart and the Rangers soon brushed the Indians away and there found the girl. They reached down the Tobique, ran the Red Rapids, but, as they approached the narrows, they had to prepare for trouble, as the rock cliffs rise so high on both banks of the Narrows they knew if the Indians knew they had the girl they could stop them, or hurl arrows, rock, or gunfire, down, so they had her lay flat in the bottom of the boat and threw blankets and a long coil of rope and what lighht stuff they had over, and when the Indians who saw them approach the Narrows, Capt. Stewart called to them, still asking about the girl and asking if they knew of any white girl being further up the St. John River and the Indians thought he had not found her, so they let the boat pass through the Narrows, and they brought her down with them. As near as I can find out, she was Mary Blake, and this is one reason that Mr. and Mrs. Orser (who first came and settled at the mouth of the Beqaguimac) got along so well with the Indians, as she knew their ways an could speak with them and could aid and help them, and in case of sickness with their children and women; be a help and they looked up to her as one who was wise and could aid,and did help them, and Mr. Orser was stern and honourable with them.
      There is a store now at the same place in St. Mary's Ferry opposite Fredericton, and some 50 odd years ago I was acquainted with the gentleman who was keeping store at the same place and I asked him if he ever heard the story about Capt. Stewart going up the Tobique and finding the girl and he told me the story, the same as the old people at the mouth of the Wapske;he was an old man then, and his sons still have the store. Mr. Bowlin was about70 years of age when he told me the story."
      This incident supposedly put her on friendly terms with the Indians. Both William and Mary lived to a good age. She was named in the Census Returns of 1851 as a widow of79, living with her youngest son, Samuel. William's will (see pages 168and 169) is on file with the Register of Probate, Carleton County, Court House,Woodstock, vol 1, page 121. The will was drawn up 29 Oct 1842 and registered 7Jan 1845. Both husband and wife are buried in Greenwood Cemetery, in Hartland, overlooking the Town Hall. Their stone is inscribed: "William Orser (1762-1844); Mary Blake, his wife (1772-1856); United Empire Loyalists,Erected to their memory by her granddaughter, Frances M. McLean and her sons." (See p. 488, Orser).

      About 1966 Senator A. Neil MacLean, a great-grandson of William and Mary furnished and decorated a room in the Hartland Town Hall as memorial to his ancestors William Orser and Mary (Blake). A memorial plaque on the wall of this room reads: "This memorial room and museum furnished by Senator A. Neil MacLean in memory of William Orser, United Empire Loyalist,First settler of Hartland, born 1762, died 1844, on whose grant of land this Town Hall stands." Around the room, high on the walls, are hung portraits made by Claude Picard in 1965 and donated by Senator MacLean. These include a portrait of Mary (Blake) Craig Orser; her son Samuel B. Orser, his daughter,Frances (Orser) MacLean; her son, Senator A. Neil MacLean; and three"pe"preacher" grandsons of William Orser and Mary (Blake) Craig Orser:Reverend Moses P. Orser, Reverend George E. "Elijah" Orser, and the Reverend Charles H. Orser. There are also portraits of other dignitaries important in the history of Hartland. A few of the items on display are:

      - The axe used by William Orser to cut down the first tree where Hartland now stands (1786), donated by Senator MacLean
      - Bible donated by the Primitive Baptist Church of Hartland, founded by the Reverend George W. Orser. Church dedicated, October,1876
      - Knives and two forks from the home Of William Orser, given by Harriet Blake Larlee, Perth, New Brunswick
      - Original of a letter written by John Orser to his father, William Orser, 22 April 1813 (see p 170)
      - Original of a letter written by the Reverend W. Orser to his son Elijah, 25 May 1875.
    Relationshipwith Dalton Paul Hallett
    Born Mar 1763  Ossining, Westchester, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Christened 11 Sep 1763  Tarrytown, Westchester, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 24 Dec 1844  Hartland, Carleton, New Brunswick, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    1. Lena Orser (ID:I3898)
              b. Bef 24 Aug 1748
    2. Wyntje Orser (ID:I3899)
              b. Bef 18 Aug 1750
    3. Marytje Orser (ID:I3900)
              b. Bef 4 Apr 1753
  • Parents

    Family ID: F1405 Group Sheet  |  Family Chart  
    Father Ancestors Jan Orser (ID:I3839)
              b. Bef 23 Apr 1723, Philipsburg, Sleepy Hollow, Westchester, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother  Rachel Bulyea (ID:I3874)
              b. Bef 13 Aug 1726 
    Married 13 Sep 1746  Philipsburg, Sleepy Hollow, Westchester, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
  • Family 1

    Family ID: F1418 Group Sheet  |  Family Chart  |  Last Modified:   
    Wife 1 Ancestors Mary Blake (ID:I3905)
              b. 6 May 1772, St John, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location
              d. 7 May 1856, Hartland, Carleton, New Brunswick, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 84 years) 
    Married Y  [1
    1. George E. Orser (ID:I3996)
    2. Stephen Orser (ID:I3949)
              b. 1802, Wakefield, Carleton, New Brunswick, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location
              d. 29 Oct 1868, Hartland, Carleton, New Brunswick, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 66 years)
    3. Evard Orser (ID:I3979)
              b. 1807
              d. 2 Nov 1890, Mars Hill, Aroostook, Maine, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 83 years)
    4. John Moses Orser (ID:I3983)
              b. 13 Sep 1810
              d. 23 Oct 1896, St Paul, Dakota, Minnesota, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 86 years)
    5. George Whitefield Orser (ID:I3997)
              b. 27 Jun 1813, Hartland, Carleton, New Brunswick, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location
              d. 20 Mar 1885  (Age 71 years)
    6. Samuel Bishop Orser (ID:I4005)
              b. 1815, Hartland, Carleton, New Brunswick, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location
              d. 1892  (Age 77 years)

    Family 2

    Family ID: F1417 Group Sheet  |  Family Chart  |  Last Modified:   
    Wife 2 Mary Craig (ID:I3904)
              d. Abt 1800 
    Married Abt 1790  [1
    1. Ann Orser (ID:I3934)
              d. Bef 1845
    2. Elizabeth Orser (ID:I3946)
    3. Orser (ID:I3948)
    4. John Orser (ID:I3909)
              b. 1791, Prince William, York, New Brunswick, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location
              d. 12 Nov 1813, Kingston, Frontenac, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 22 years)
    5. Lydia Orser (ID:I3910)
              b. Abt 1795
              d. 14 Aug 1877, Bath, Carleton, New Brunswick, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 82 years)
    6. William Orser (ID:I3930)
              b. 1796
  • Event Map

    Link to Google MapsBorn - Mar 1763 - Ossining, Westchester, New York, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsChristened - 11 Sep 1763 - Tarrytown, Westchester, New York, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 24 Dec 1844 - Hartland, Carleton, New Brunswick, Canada Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
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