Beck­on­ing all Bemis­ter’s

May be the last re­union of this gen­er­a­tion in Car­bon­ear, says or­ga­nizer

The Compass - - OBITUARIES - BY BILL BOW­MAN bbow­man@cb­n­com­pass.ca

As far as can be learned, there are no known res­i­dent New­found­land descen­dents of John and Mary Bemis­ter who still carry the Bemis­ter sur­name.

How­ever, “a re­mark­able num­ber of New­found­lan­ders are di­rectly de­scended from the early Car­bon­ear Bemis­ters who came to the new world about 200 years ago,” said to Cameron Hopkins, na­tional co-or­di­na­tor for the 2010 Bemis­ter Fam­ily Re­union.

Large num­bers of peo­ple with names like How­ell, Ped­dle, For­ward, Pike, Cur­tis, Udell, Noel, Par­sons, Evely and Drover may not even know they de­scended from one of the more prom­i­nent Car­bon­ear fam­i­lies of the nine­teenth cen­tury.

About 100 of them from all over North Amer­ica and the United King­dom will be in Car­bon­ear Aug. 6-8 for a re­union.

They will be here to help cel­e­brate the 263rd birth­day of John Bemis­ter of Corfe Mullen, Dorset, Eng­land. Bemis­ter is the sev­eral times great grand­fa­ther of most of the peo­ple who will be at­tend­ing.

Gover­nor John Guy of the Cupids Colony will kick off the re­union Fri­day, Aug. 6 at the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion, with a procla­ma­tion to mark the of­fi­cial start of the re­union. Or­ga­niz­ers feel Guy’s ap­pear­ance will give “a proper recog­ni­tion of the con­tri­bu­tion the Bemis­ters made to the West Coun­try mi­gra­tion started by John Guy 400 years ago.”

Dr. Alan Perry of the Wes­sex-New­found­land So­ci­ety will be the guest speaker at the Satur­day night din­ner. In 2005 Dr. Perry hosted the Bemis­ter re­union in Poole and Corfe Mullen, a part of the UK well-con­nected to the East Coast of New­found­land.

Re­union pro­gram

The re­union pro­gram in­cludes walk­ing and bus tours, vis­its to tourist sites, a church ser­vice and a tour of the ceme­tery where as many as four gen­er­a­tions of Bemis­ters are buried.

Wil­liam Wil­lis Bemis­ter came to Car­bon­ear in 1803 as an ap­pren­tice to the Poole mer­chant firm of Ge­orge and James Kemp.

Be­tween them, Wil­liam and his brother Ed­ward fa­thered 18 chil­dren, and they pro­duced 82 grand­chil­dren, the first be­ing Wil­liam’s daugh­ter, Maria Ann, born 200 years ago in De­cem­ber 1810.

The old­est liv­ing Bemis­ter is a 98-year-old woman in Ohio named Ebby, who is Maria’s great grand­daugh­ter.

Many of the Fresh­wa­ter Noels are de­scended from Ed­ward’s daugh­ter, El­iz­a­beth Su­san­nah.

Joe Noel, a mem­ber of the na­tional or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, said the re­union is “a very good thing for Car­bon­ear and for the prov­ince.” Noel is nearly 88 years-of-age.

He is en­cour­ag­ing all the lo­cal Bemis­ter descen­dents to take part in the event.

Hopkins said more than 500 peo­ple have taken part in the var­i­ous re­unions held over the last 12 years.

The last Bemis­ter Re­union in Car­bon­ear took place in 1999. With the re­main­ing descen­dents not get­ting any younger, Hopkins hinted this may be the last ma­jor re­union of the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion in Car­bon­ear.

“(It could be) a last ... op­por­tu­nity to meet cousins from near and far in the town that was the birthplace of Maria Ann Bemis­ter 200 years ago,” he said.

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