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Deep local roots

When Brenda St. John, originally of South Dakota and now living in Washington State, started to look into her ancestry in 1989, she had no idea just how deep her roots went into Newfoundland.

Josh Pennell/The Telegram
Brenda St. John and her father, James Parsons, arrived in St. John’s this weekend for their visit to the province. They have discovered that their ancestral roots reach deep into Newfoundland history.

“I wasn’t really even sure where Newfoundland was,” she said, regarding the moment when her grandmother told her that’s where her grandfather was from.

As she dug deeper, she found out that her great-grandfather, Alexander A. Parsons, was the very first editor of The Evening Telegram. His father had a fishing station on Harbour Grace Island.

“We were surprised,” she said.

St. John asked her father, James Parsons, if he knew about his father’s history in the province.

“My dad never ever told us anything about it,” he said.

From Newfoundland her past relatives moved to Boston and the family started working with the railroad. Since learning of her family’s history in this province, St. John has wanted to visit and arrived on the weekend with her father, both for the first time.

Her great-grandmother, Maria Raven Thompson whom Alexander married, also is of historical note in the province. She was the daughter of Dr. Henry Thompson, a family noted for its involvement in medicine and the pharmaceutical and telegraph businesses.

As part of their trip, St. John and Parsons will attend a talk about their family history at the Harbour Grace Museum today at 7 p.m. given by Maudie Whelan. Admission is free.

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