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James McIssac's Story Continued

Page Mounted 09 Apr 02

Previously,  I told of the Ashburton  survivor, James McIssac and how he had made his home at Grand Manan for several years prior to moving to Lubec, Maine.The story does not end there, in fact it is only the beginning of a sad tale of the children of James.

 Several years ago Joan Bryne, a granddaughter of William McIssac contacted me for information on her family. She sent a newspaper clipping detailing a reunion of her grandfather and his brothers . . .

“It was  old home week for the three brothers McIssac whose trails crossed for the first time in 45 years. Appropriately enough, they met on the swaying deck of a ship, for the McIssacs were born to the sea even though two of them strayed from it. They are John , 75 and master of a freighter, James W, 71,keeper of a boarding house in Boston, and William W, 67, of Providence, a stationary engineer.”

William went to work at the age of nine carrying sawdust from a lathe in a sawmill for a dollar and a half a week. The other brothers drifted too and although an occasional letter passed between them they had not met face to face until John went  down the coast with his freighter, met James in Boston and the two continued on to Providence to meet William.

William said it was a “strange meeting, “in fact he saw several men on the pier where his brother was docked but did not recognize anyone in particular. After yelling to”hey John” a couple of times the man who was his brother stopped work to meet him. Not many words were spoken between the men as they had nothing in common to talk about, they were actually strangers.

William saw nothing sensational in that meeting. Life had dealt him several life shattering blows which took on far more importance than this meeting. Too much time and too many miles had passed between him and his family.

His dad had died but he did not  attend the funeral. He had not seen him since he left Grand Manan and really didn’t know him.

As a boy William had been cared for by his aunt and uncle named Stanley.He tattooed on his arm the initials “W.S.”thinking he belonged to the Stanley family. As a matter of fact, William did not realize he was a McIssac until after he was married.  He had married a girl from Saint John when he was 17 and had 11 children before she died. He remarried and had 10 more children to take the McIssac name.

Somewhere along the trail William came  back to Grand Manan and took up the life of a fisherman, trawling from a dory. This was not what he wanted to do so left the island and headed for Providence where he worked for the Narragansett Power Co.

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