The Church

Church 1985
Francis Edward Cassidy Memorial Church 1985

William Cassidy was clearly a religious man. He and Jane were Church of Ireland (Anglican) which was the predominant religion where they grew up in County Donegal. It’s worth noting that historically, the Cassidys were Catholic. This fact is well documented in County Fermanagh. Thus William Cassidy would have had a Catholic heritage. Adoption of the protestant faith may have been a desire by the family somewhere along the way to fit into the English mainstream.

Around 1830, William and Jane, wanting a good religious upbringing for their twelve children, became Methodists and opened their home to the Circuit Riders of the Sussex Circuit. Services were held in the Cassidy home and the minister always stayed overnight.

Church Pulpit 1983
Rev. Cosman at the pulpit with the old family Bible. Gwen Cassidy playing keyboard for service. 1983

In the 1800s, members of the Methodist church were formed into small companies, called classes, which met weekly for religious conferences and devotional exercises. The members of each class had their names enrolled in a class-book, and each member had a society ticket. This society ticket was renewed quarterly in December, March, June and September. These society tickets were needed to gain entrance to many Methodist services. In large circuits, the renewal of tickets added greatly to the preacher’s labor. William Cassidy received a society ticket in 1831 so there is no question that he was serious about his religion.

By the 1880s the head of the Cassidy household had passed to William’s seventh son, Francis Edward. Around 1882, Circuit Rider James Cripps, who apparently Francis Edward thought highly of, gathered people together and convinced Francis Edward to build a church.

Invitation to dedication service 1949

So, construction began. Timber was hewn for its construction from the properties of John Jamieson, Francis Edward Cassidy, and others. The lumber from this timber was sawn on a water-driven up-and-down saw mill, then hauled to Upham where it was planed. This lumber was used for flooring and ash sheeting around the walls.

Ash, cut by Francis Edward himself, formed the main part of the pulpit, while the front part was built of wood salvaged from the wreck of the H.M.S. Royal George, a man-of-war of the nineteenth century. This wood was brought from England by Joseph Robinson of Norton.

The ends of the pews were purchased from Portland Street Methodist Church in Saint John. The main pews, window sashes, pulpit, chair, etc. were all constructed by Francis Edward himself.

When first built, the interior of the church was plastered. However in 1911, the interior was redecorated in metal plating and the ceiling painted sky blue and the walls pink. These colors prevail today.

Francis Edward framed the church and his father, William, who would have been 86 years old, did the clapboarding. Francis Edward’s wife, Jennie, cooked meals for the workers.

In 1883, the church was dedicated as the Clover Hill Methodist Church. The church and cemetery were deeded to the Methodist Church June 3, 1890. It later became part of the United Church of Canada.

Inside Church 1989
Inside church 1989

Official church records are sketchy. A search of the archives of the Maritime Conference of the United Church of Canada, found only the record of minutes of the Saint John Presbytery of Oct. 5, 1948 where Stan Cassidy presented plans for repair (renovation) of the church. It is referred to as the Church at Cassidy Lake in the Apohaqui-Norton Charge under Rev. Mr. Rodger. Action from that meeting was for the Apohaqui-Norton Charge to secure the deed to the property and appoint a trustee board. The request to repair the church was granted. The requested repair (renovation) was completed in 1949.

In a meeting of the Cassidy family with the Saint John Presbytery in 2012 concerning the church and cemetery status, the action once again was to appoint a trustee board, this time to deal with a Cassidy family request to formalize the church and cemetery status within the United Church of Canada.

The first minister actually came from Upham. The first minister from the local area was Rev. John B. Goff of Sussex. Some of those that followed him included:
– Rev. Eddie Shanklin, 1903
– Rev. Soddon of Belleisle, 1918
– Rev. Shanklin again in 1921
– Rev. Fulton
– Rev. Roger Pepper
– Rev. Bill Pepper, Roger’s son
– Rev. Linton
– Rev. Dalzell
– Rev. Ben Turner
– Rev. Leonard J. Watson
– Rev. Wass
– Rev. Charles Cambdin
– Rev. Matthew Knight, who was absent minded.
– Rev. Clarke and his horse Daisy.
– Rev. Buchanan who had curly hair.
– Rev. Harry Marr from Norton.
– Rev. Thomas who liked to smoke, but was careful to do so where Francis Edward would not see him.

By 1949 the structure was showing its age and a major renovation was undertaken including a new foundation, a new roof, and a fresh coat of paint both inside and out. It’s worthy of mention that Matthew Cassidy who completed this renovation of the exterior and interior, also worked as a boy on the original construction in 1883.

The dedication was a big celebration that drew people from as far away as Boston. The service on that September day in 1949 was led by Rev. Eddie Shanklin. The same Rev. Shanklin who had first preached here 46 years earlier in 1903 and had also conducted the funeral service of Francis Edward in 1927. At the re-dedication in 1949, the church was renamed The Francis Edward Cassidy Memorial Church in memory of its founder.

The dedication of the church on September 25, 1949 was also cause for a great reunion of the Cassidy family. This reunion became an annual affair hosted by Robert Allen Cassidy and his wife Edythe until 1954. Less formal reunions and services continue to be held every year on or about the first Sunday in August until 2015. The format was simple, a church service at 2:00 pm followed by a picnic. Both family and visitors are welcome. Families bring sandwiches and refreshments sufficient for themselves plus extra to share. There is always plenty of food. Stan Cassidy made the arrangements until his death in 1993. Since then, Andy and Hazel Douthwright did the organizing. In addition to coordinating the event, the Douthwrights cleaned the church and maintained the cemetery. After 2015, gatherings were not a regularly scheduled event and the format varied.

The first few reunions were recorded on 16mm color movie film by Stan Cassidy. The film captured pictures of the homestead, church, and many family members. These film clips were combined into a single 30 minute film, converted to video tape, and annotated by Stan as a video record of that era. Brian Cassidy has the video tape master. In 2004 the film was converted to digital media, edited and is available in the Publications section.

Regular Sunday services were held here for 71 years, until 1954 when Robert Allen Cassidy retired from farming and moved to live with his oldest son, Stan in Fredericton.

The church we see in 2006 is as it was in 1949. The only things missing are the pot-belly stove that provided much needed heat in the winter, lights, and the pump organ. The organ was purchased from Sam Freeman, agent for the manufacturer and the father of Edythe Freeman Cassidy, for the sum of $85. The lights were from the church in Newtown, Kings County and were installed at the same time as the organ.

In the 1970s the stove and chimney were removed when a steel roof was installed. The pump organ had deteriorated to the point that it became unplayable and so was removed with the thought of refurbishing it. That however was found to be too costly. The church continues to be maintained by the Cassidy family with the help of friends and neighbors in the Cassidy Lake area.

We have no formal records of church activities such as baptisms, weddings and funerals. We do know of at least three weddings. Andy and Hazel Douthwright were married here in 1972, and then in 1997, Harvey and Denise McDonald, and on Sept. 25, 2005 Andy and Hazel Douthwright’s son. On August 17, 2003, Lillian Mary Para, a 7th generation descendant of William and Jane, was baptized.

On Dec. 14, 2017, Paul Cassidy, great-grandson of Matthew Cassidy who did the 1949 renovation, acquired the church and cemetery from the United Church. In 2018 he began restoration work starting with repairing and painting the exterior.


Cemetery looking south toward Cassidy Lake. Gravestone in foreground is William and Jane’s c. 1983

The cemetery is located on the farm within easy reach of the house. It sits on a grassy knoll. In earlier days there was a clear view of the lake and the house. However, the lake has not been visible since about 2000 due to extensive tree growth around the cemetery.

The cemetery was deeded to the Methodist Church together with a 10 foot right-of-way to the lake road by Francis Edward Cassidy in 1890. The plot plan available in the Resources section is an updated version of the one hanging in the church. [View plot plan]

From a plan drawn by Allen R. Cassidy on November 6, 1950 we note that the original burial ground was 80 ft x 48 ft and that it was expanded to 156 ft x 100 ft. The expanded burial ground map was approved by R. Allen Cassidy and S.B. Cassidy.

Cemetery Grave Notes

– Mrs. Lunn (plot 30) was the daughter of Isaac Mercer (plot 28). Joseph Robinson (plot 43) was Emona Mercer’s grandfather on her mother’s side. Emona’s mother was Barbara (Robinson) Mercer (plot 29), wife of Isaac Mercer. Barbara was the daughter of Joseph Robinson.

– Jamieson plots 8, 9, 10 and 11 are probably relatives of Thomas Jamieson rather than descendants.

– Blanche Jamieson (plot 18) died at age 4 or 5. The adjacent grave (plot 17) is a twin that died at birth. We do not know to which Jamieson they belong.

– Ronald Ellsworth Avines (plot 2) drowned in Cassidy Lake at age 12. According to Murray Monahan, Ronald and Roy Mclong were floating on an old barn door when the wind took them out into the lake. Ronald was afraid his parents would be upset with him. He jumped off and drowned. Roy laid flat and drifted across to the other side of the lake.