Updated September 17th, 2021
Every September I get a great deal of hits on this post. Perhaps it is the new school year or part of a curriculum of one for the colleges or universities of the area. In any case, I decided to follow-up on my promise- within this post, to check the grave-yard for George Wetmore’s grave in better weather when there was no snow covering the ground. After conferring with the cemetery mapping guide. I went to section 3 on a walkabout. Most of the stones are layed over and knocked from them stands. It was sad to walk past so many plots unrecognizable-the last vestige of a persons final marker on this earth desecrated. With my finger, I traced the etchings of many names in the stones, trying to distinguish what was inscribed but I was unable to locate George Wetmore’s grave.
It is either unmarked or sunken and partially reclaimed by the ground. There was a truck parked in the area and I walked up to it, seeing two men at work: one scaping compound with a trowel, onto a plaster hawk, the other seeing me -came toward me. I spoke unannounced, ” I am looking for George Wetmore- the guide plaque, at the entrance, has him listed in section 3. This is section 3, but it is a frigging disgrace. The people of Fredericton should be ashamed at the state of their founders final resting place.” I fell silent hoping for a reply. The men in front of me looked at one another, and they shared a quick unspoken word, then their eyes slide toward me.
A submissive voice said, ” Wetmore,…. I don’t remember seeing that name.” Another pause happened and another look between coworkers. ” have you heard of the last fatal duel There is a sign in New Maryland’ I got blank stares. I tried a different angle. “Have you heard of the Wetmore street pub? That got a spark of recognition. Well they were the the two men that took part in New Brunswick’s last fatal duel and Georg Wetmore is buried here in this cemetery. Seamingly impresseed, the one man caved and said,”We just finished fixing those there…..” his chin lifted upward towards the grouping of five or six upright headstones.” I paused for a moment to look at them, then my eyes sweeped a line across the cemetery, their work a head insurmountable. ” Ok thanks for caring” I walked away. George Wetmore once again undiscovered. Here is his story and the last fatal duel of New Brunswick. Enjoy
I thought I was done digging into the past. But while On The Trail of Loyalists, . I unearthed some characters, (Pardon the Pun) that left behind a legacy beyond honour and Old Glory.
Who Done it?
George Frederick Street, born 21 July, 1787 in Burton, N.B. to a British land granted immigrant. He was a lawyer, politician a judge, an educator and a public servant. He was well-respected in the community and his father served with the British Forces in the 13 colonies, but he was never part of the inner circle of the politically connected Loyalist’s.
George Ludlow Wetmore, born 26 Dec, 1795 in Gagetown, N.B., He was a second generation Loyalist, his father was the attorney general of New Brunswick. He was well-connected with the Loyalist elite and had a promising future..
Both joined into partnership of their father’s law offices and were in competition for cases.
What Started it?
Lawyer George Street, sent the sheriff with an arrest order, for a man named Jacob Smith Sr, but it was supposed to have been issued for Jacob Smith Jr. The senior Jacob Smith, mad as a hatter, charged the sheriff with false arrest and imprisonment and hired lawyer George Ludlow Wetmore, to represent him at the York County Court house in Fredericton.
During the trial it was unquestionably a case of mistake identity and the case was not defend-able.
So what Happened Next?
George Ludlow Wetmore, who was acting for the plaintiff, verbally insulted the ethic and integrity of his peer, saying he should be charged with “unprofessional misconduct.” George Street was so offend, they nearly came to blows outside the courtroom. George Wetmore’s father, The Hon. Thomas Wetmore-the Attorney General, broke up the fight between the barristers and the matter was thought to be over.
Wetmore was still smoldering mad all evening about the public humiliation and the insult to his good name, that he came up with a solution. By 11 am the next morning, he had arranged his “Second” John Winslow, to go to Street’s home with a summons to meet for a duel. Despite it being illegal, George Street agreed; as long is it was close by and hastily completed.
Wetmore’s friend-Winslow, tried to convince George Street to apologize to Wetmore, but he refused and so the duel was set for 6 am Tuesday morning, in the apple orchard on the Segee farm, in New Maryland.
Both men brought a “second” George Street, brought Lt Richard Davis, and George Wetmore was accompanied by John Francis Wentworth Winslow. The pistols were selected and loaded, the paces counted out and rules reiterated. Both Wetmore and Street, were to keep their pistols pointing towards the ground until the signal to fire.
Davis shouted and two rounds cracked the silence. When the smoked cleared neither man had been hit. Street-had purposely shot at the ground, knowing Wetmore had three children, and his wife was pregnant with their fourth child. Wetmore’s shot had narrowly missed Street’s head. The “seconds” declared it over and asked Wetmore to abandon the duel. Wetmore was stubborn and insisted a second shot was necessary to satisfy his anger.
“Fire” was again shouted and this time, Wetmore came away with a shot to his elbow, that ricocheted up and penetrated his temple. He crumpled to the ground. Street ran to the fallen man and cradled him. Wetmore was still alive and Street sent Winslow to get help at the Segee farm-house. Mr Segee came and brought Wetmore into his house and sent his son for a doctor. Street, Davis and Winslow set out at a hard gallop for the Maine border.
George Ludlow Wetmore, succumbed to the fatal shot and was laid to rest in the Old Burial Grounds in Fredericton.
The trio returning four-month later to stand trail for murder. Judge Saunder presided over the trial.(Please read My Fredericton, New Brunswick. and On The Trail of Loyalists for more on the loyalist of Fredericton.) Farmer Segee swore he didn’t see the event or persons involved and the jury acquitted them.
In 1933 Dr. George Frederick Clark, passed away and upon sorting out his estate, there tucked away in a bureau, where two brass plated pistols. One was scratched with the name Segee. They have been linked to the duel.
The only acknowledgement of the duel is the sign on the highway. No plaque or tourist locations is land-marks. Several times I wandered around Fredericton’s old burial ground, sadly it has fallen into horrible disrepair. the old grave map at the entrance on Church Street places names him in section 3 with the dates of 1795-…. George Wetmore’s headstone. is unmarked or has fallen over and sunken into the earth, becoming indistinguishable. I did find his father’s, Hon. Thomas Wetmore. The stone taken over by licken and a century of grim. I traced the letters of his named chiseled into the headstone, they too will soon disintegrate with the elements.
research states George Wetmore’s wife lived to be ninety-four and his son Andrew Rainsford Wetmore, became premier of New Brunswick during confederation in 1867. Please see In Honour of Canada’s 150th If you like a Confederation history.
I was unable to find where George Frederick Street resided, or where he was buried. He died in London in 1855. He lived the rest of his life with moderate successes in law and politics.
The best place to get a feel for the duel is at Wetmore-Street Pub. 530 New Maryland Highway 101. Current;y Open Wednesday-Friday 11 am to 9 pm
I want to thank the staff of the pub for giving me directions and letting me take pictures in the pub of the mural and pictures on their wall.
No gifts, benefits of payment was received for this post. It is my own interest and experience
Cheer, and happy travels from Maritime Mac
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