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Ann Monaghan Bracken King and Family

By Maureen (King) English

Ann Monaghan (born circa 1817 – August 09,1895) and James Bracken (deceased 1847) were married in Ireland – probably in Westmeath and they later moved to Monaghan. In 1847, they, along with their two young sons, Michael and Sylvester, left Ireland aboard the 600-ton barque, the Looshtauk.

Thousands upon thousands of Irish pioneers set out to create a better life for themselves in the new world. The potato famine had hit hard in Ireland in 1845 and by 1847 was at its worse. One cannot conceive of their dangers, their deprivations, their sufferings, their hardships, and the toil that faced those pioneers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The ill-fated ship, Looshtauk, was riddled with disease on the fifth day out of port. Before the voyage was over 117 passengers and crew died, one being James Bracken, Ann’s husband. Typhoid fever and scarlet fever claimed their lives. The passengers and crew alike became ill and died. The ship had been bound for Quebec, but Captain Thane had to seek help in the Miramichi Bay on June 03,1847. Thus, after a lengthy discussion with Chatham town officials, a makeshift shelter and quarantine station was set up on Middle Island, the remaining passengers were landed on the Island. A further 94 died on the Middle Island quarantine station.   It has been recorded than many (over 100) corpses were still onboard the ship and these too were buried on Middle Island in a mass grave. It is not know whether James Bracken was buried at sea or on Middle Island. As recorded, only the first dozen or so who died on board were committed to the sea, I hold the belief that James, my great-great grandfather, was probably buried on Middle Island.

Ann Monaghan Bracken and her sons Michael and Sylvester were among the survivors.

Ann Monaghan Bracken chose to remain in Chatham with her sons instead of continuing the voyage to Quebec City. She found employment as a housekeeper with Father Michael Egan in Nelson where she remained for nearly five years until her marriage to Thomas King on 4 March 1851. They then settled in Douglasfield, NB. Ann and Thomas King had a daughter, Mary Ann, and a son, Thomas.

In the 1871 census records Ann (Bracken) King was a widow living in Chatham with her four children – Michael and Sylvester Bracken and Thomas and Mary Ann King.

Michael Bracken was born in 1835 in Ireland, remained single, and died in a railway accident en route from Chatham to Nelson on July 24/25,1882.

Sylvester Bracken was born in Ireland in1839. He married Johanna Maher in 1875. He had a farm on the south side of the Douglasfield-Brown Road corner. They had one son, William, and three daughters, Alice( Hatery), Mary Ann (King) and Annie ( Fernandez). Sylvester died in 1929, being the last survivor of the Looshtauk and is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Nelson, N.B. He was my great-grandfather.

Mary Ann King married John Moran and lived in Wellfield, N.B.

Thomas King Jr. married Ann Nobel Baldwin and lived in Douglasfield, N.B.

Ann Monaghan Bracken King died 9 August 1895 in Chatham at the age of 78 years. I hold her dear in my heart as she was a very courageous lady who left her homeland and overcame many disasters during her lifetime and through it all, she also lost two husbands and a son.

Through her marriages to James Bracken and Thomas King, their descendants number in the thousands – mostly Kings. Many still live in the beautiful Miramichi. Others are scattered across the province, Canada the United States, and in various other countries.

Today there are only two remaining with the last name Bracken – John Bracken and his son, Leigh – both of Miramichi.

Resources:

Daley, Caroline and Ann Springer, Middle Island Before and After the Tragedy, Miramichi, Middle Island Historical Park Inc., 2002.

English, Maureen (King), The King Family Genealogy, Unpublished manuscript.

______, Miramichi Gleaner, Chatham, 8 Jun 1947.