Chart Color Legend
Documented Settlement - Red | Probable Settlement - Blue | Seasonal Settlement - Green
In the early days, Stone Island was considered to be a separate settlement, apart from the rest of Caplin Bay. Community lore seems to indicate that there weren't any other settlers west of Stone Island until you reached the homesteads of the area known as the North Side. About a mile west along the shoreline from the Stone Island settlement, the high cliffs of Caplin Bay give way to terrain that slopes gradually down to the ocean's edge. This was the area referred to in the records of the early 1800s as the North Side. One noticeable feature of the homesteads in this area was that, unlike the Stone Island settlement, most had individual waterfront access. While Stone Island houses were somewhat clustered, and probably shared common fishing premises, each early homestead on the North Side was established with the waters of Caplin Bay as their southern boundary. These tracts of land then extended northward from the water's edge, up the slopes of the surrounding hills.
The most easterly end of the North Side was an area known as Athlone. The boundaries of this area are not clearly defined, but it appears to have been east of the largest river on the north side of the bay. The land at Athlone, although quite rocky, was attractive because it allowed fairly easy access to the shoreline for the erection of fishing room structures. A small cove (Morry's Cove), just east of the river, provided some shelter to waterfront fishing premises and small boats. Records indicate that in 1836, there was a school at Athlone with Jane Cashin as its teacher, while another school, listed as Caplin Bay, had Elizabeth " Caulman " as its teacher. This was the same Elizabeth Coleman who later became the second wife of Matthew Morry III whose house at Athlone was built on the cliff overlooking Morry's Cove. Records show that James Locke, of England, who is believed to have been a servant of the Morry family, lived at Caplin Bay for over forty years and was given two Crown Land grants there, one in 1851 and another in 1870. Based on the analysis of other Crown Grants, it appears his two pieces of property were close to the Morry property. One-piece was near the shoreline, just east of the Athlone Cottage and the other piece was on the north side of the road, opposite the Morry property. It appears this property came into the possession of Tom Meaney after James Locke died.
The earliest mention of family names at Athlone has John Rossiter living there in 1840. However, in November 1842, John sold " the dwelling house and gardens " to Thomas Lackey of Ferryland for £15. The property was never occupied by Lackey, but in 1844, Matthew Morry III (grandson of Matthew Morry I of Devon) is shown as having taken up residence at Athlone. It is not known if this was the same piece of property sold to Thomas Lackey. Research indicates that this was at least the second home, possibly third, occupied by a member of the Morry family at Caplin Bay. Matthew Morry's home, known as Athlone Cottage, was occupied by his descendants until 1930. Alfred Canning, from Ferryland, who had been "taken in" by these Morrys as a child, married the grand-daughter of Robert Swain of Stone Island in 1892 and continued to live in the Morry home after his marriage. After the death of Miss Elizabeth Morry, the last of the family at Calvert, the property came into the possession of Alfred's son, Leonard Canning.
In the 1870s, the area north and east of Athlone saw an influx of new families mainly from the second generation of two Stone Island families, the Sullivans and the Meaneys. Continuing the trend to move westward from Stone Island, they settled along the north side of the public road opposite the properties of Morry and Evoy. Subsequent generations of Sullivans predominated settlement in this area such that it was subsequently dubbed " Sullivan's Hill " in recognition of the largest family group on the North Side.
Patrick Evoy occupied property just west of Athlone, extending to the river that divided his property from that of his step-father, James Walsh. Patrick had been born at Ferryland, but moved to Caplin Bay, at the same time as the Walshs. His property was also quite rocky, with very little cultivatable land, but its easy access to the shoreline and abundance of fresh water from the river made it an attractive location for fishing premises. This property passed into the possession of the Swain family with the marriage of Patrick Evoy's daughter, Ellen, to Robert Swain, Jr. of Stone Island. Robert and Ellen's son, John Swain, died young so their daughters Mary (Polly Ledwell), Elizabeth (Liz Miskill) and Catherine (Kate Walsh) eventually inherited this property. Elizabeth and Catherine married and lived in St. John's and sold their share of the property to the Sullivans. The share, belonging to Mary, who married Sebastian Ledwell from Little Placentia, has remained within the Ledwell family.
Beginning on the west side of the river, known as Walsh's River, the next three pieces of land were cleared and cultivated as farms. James Walsh, Richard Reddigan and Patrick Condon, Irishmen, whose roots were probably in Co. Kilkenny seemed more inclined to be farmers that fisherman. Their properties were cleared and extended northward a substantial distance from the shoreline. James Walsh, who had married a widow, Nelly Evoy at Ferryland in 1799, moved to Caplin Bay probably about 1805/1806. After their marriage and up until at least 1805, James and Nelly ran a pub at Ferryland, a business started by Nelly and her first husband, Michael Evoy. The Walsh property at Caplin Bay may have originally been known as Audley's Plantation, a property that James started renting from David Sweetland in 1805. In 1844, James Walsh's farm was fairly large and he had nine head of horned cattle and a mare. The Walsh property stayed pretty much intact until the marriage of Mary Walsh, granddaughter of James and Nelly Walsh. She settled on the northwestern side of the original farm after she married Edward Murphy, believed to be from Ferryland. The Murphys eventually cleared and cultivated additional land north of Walsh's farm. The most extensive piece of land, cultivated and maintained by Patrick (Padd) Murphy, was about a half-mile from the shoreline, on a hillside overlooking Walsh's River valley.
Richard Reddigan, who occupied the next piece of land west of Walsh's farm married Catherine, the daughter of Michael and Nelly Evoy. Richard Reddigan was likely from Co. Kilkenny but it appears he settled at Aquaforte in the first decade of the 1800s, with the family of a relative named Martin Reddigan. Richard settled at Caplin Bay after his marriage and started a family there in the mid-1820s.
Patrick Condon and his wife Catherine were neighbours of the Reddigans, occupying the property adjoining their western boundary. According to their headstone, both Patrick and Catherine were natives of Co. Kilkenny. Patrick and his wife both died young and left three sons, Thomas, Kyran and Patrick. Kyran and Patrick eventually moved to St. John's and, according to family research, were both lost at sea. Only Thomas Condon stayed at Caplin Bay and occupied the land of the original homestead.
In the 1860s, Michael Clancy and his family settled on the North Side, on some property northwest of the Condons. Before that time, the Clancys had been associated with the South Side of Caplin Bay (Road Side). It appears that Michael had married at Fermeuse in 1842, and lived there for several years. His name disappeared from the Voters Lists, but Michael resurfaced again in the 1860s, on the North Side of Caplin Bay. In 1883, his sons bought some additional property from Ellen Condon, the widow of Kyran Condon. From the description in the deed, this land was on the south side of the public road, however, it appears that there may have been a land trade/swap since the Clancy property of later years was north of the public road.
The land immediately west of the Condon homestead appears to have been wasteland until occupied by John Swain, eldest son of Robert Swain of Stone Island. John Swain's move from Stone Island was typical of the growing trend of migrating west towards the head of Caplin Bay. The land beyond that, however, was the homestead of Matthew Ryan, one of the pre-1800 settlers. No evidence exists to indicate if this was the first settlement location of the Ryans but, by the 1840s, Matthew's son, Patrick, was noted in the Voters Lists as living on the North Side. It appears that part of the Ryan homestead was subdivided in the 1870s with the marriage of Elizabeth Ryan to John McBride, believed to be from Ireland.
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© Kevin Reddigan (2002 - 2023)
Page Last Updated: Sunday, December 20, 2020 - 04:48:16 PM - EST