Mary was the daughter of a Loyalist, John Cuffman (or Coffman) who lived about five miles down river. Cuffmanlater changed his name toJohn DeMerchant
(Sr.) (Kaufmann means merchant in German.) Cuffman had been aPrivate in thePrince of Wales American Regiment
,fighting for the British
from 1777 until 1783, when he sailed toNew Brunswick along with many other Loyalist soldiers. There is goodevidence
that John was of German origin.While there wereHessian
soldiers fighting for the British in the Revolution, they kept mostly to their ownregiments. In the case of John Cuffman, other German names are not evident in the rolls of his regiment. JohnCuffman was a stranger in a strange land, like Cantin Dionne.Mary Catherine Frances DeMerchant was baptised by Rev. John Beardsley May 28, 1798 at Maugerville AnglicanChurch. That record is the earliest known use of the name DeMerchant. Very little is known about Mary's motherexcept that her name was also Mary. There is indirect evidence that John was married at the time he first petitionedfor a land grant in 1784. After John's death in 1830, his wife received a Widows of Revolutionary War Soldierspension from 1840 until 1848, when she presumably died.
Failure and a Second Try
In Northeastern North America in 1816, there were freezing conditions every month of the year, probably due to theeffect of volcanic activity in the South Pacific. Widespread snow storms occurred in June. Successive years of badweather, including this "year without a summer,"
ruined many New Brunswick farmers, and the young Dionne wasapparently one of them. On Jan 16, 1818 Contin Yon's grant on the "East Side the River St. John—Wakefield"appears on a longlist of lands forfeited
for not fulfilling the official requirements, which included improving theland and paying a yearly fee.In February 1819, Cantinappliedagain for a land grant, this time for 300 acres in Richmond, on the road betweenWoodstock, New Brunswick, and Houlton, Maine, about two or three miles from the border. He tells us that he"...was born in and bred up in the Province of Lower Canada [modern Quebec] but he has resided for the last sevenyears in this Province. He is a married man and desirous with establishing himself in the Province in the farmingline." He already had "...upon the said land about four acres cleared and under cultivation..." He was granted 200acres on Jan 19, 1822, and by 1824 he had cleared another ten acres.
Baptisms in a Foreign Church
Two baptisms were recorded at the Woodstock Anglican Church on January 30, 1822: Charles Edward John, bornJuly 22, 1818 and Charlotta John born January 31, 1820. Parents were listed as Mary and Conter John, a farmer fromRichmond. On the same day, Mary's sister Francis Maria DeMerchant, also from Richmond, was baptized as an adult.Was Francis Maria helping her older sister with her children?
More Land Transactions
In August, 1823, Cantin and Mary sold half of their Richmond property to Samuel Parks, for 50 pounds. John Bedellwas a witness to the sale.In March 1824, he was again petitioning the government over land. He claimed that the previous April he purchased300 acres of land in Kent Parish, from Nathan Messer. Messer died before he had clear title to his grant, and Cantinpetitioned to clear things up. The land in question was north of lot 106, on the east side of the St. John River, at themouth of Shikatehawk Stream, about 6-7 miles north of the Military Settlement where he was married in 1815. [Thelot is probably the one marked George Dixon on the grant map.] He says, "...having moved upon the land, renderedthe old house formerly occupied by Messer habitable and put the land under fence and cultivation in doing which andmaking the first payment [30 pounds of the 75 pound total] he has completely for the present exhausted his slendermeans, his entire ruin must be the consequence of his being deprived of the land which Messer's Step Son has notonly threatened to do but also to insist upon the Balance unpaid upon the obligation whenever due."He "... throws himself upon the clemency of Your Honor...," and apparently won, for in September 1825 he turnedaround andsold
the land to Edward Kermott for 200 pounds. The previous March he had sold the second half of hisRichmond land to John and Walter Bedell for 20 pounds.