Gooseberry Cove

Gooseberry Cove, 1959

Gooseberry Cove, 1959


Gooseberry Cove, a community between Southport and Butter Cove, got its name from the wild gooseberry bushes which grew in abundance in the area in the early days. It was one of the earliest settlements in the area, at about the same time as Fox Harbour (Southport) was settled. According to George Langer, son of Isaac, who was very knowledgeable on the community’s history, James Baker Langher/Langer (b.1807) of Heart’s Ease Beach was the first settler at Gooseberry Cove. James and his wife Mary occupied the best of very limited good land at that time at Gooseberry Cove. Their first child, Mary, was born in 1830 and six other children followed: Ellen, James, Sarah Ann, Alfred, Edward Solomon and Jane.

Several years later, William Seward, son of Richard and Priscella of New Perlican, Trinity Bay, moved to Gooseberry Cove and he appears in the 1836 voters’ list. William married Ellen George of Heart’s Content, and their third child, Johanna, was born at Gooseberry Cove in 1837. She was baptized on August 25, 1837 at Gooseberry Cove by William Bullock, the Church of England (Anglican) missionary at Trinity. William’s and Ellen’s first two children, Michael and Solomon, had been born at New Perlican. After the birth of their daughter, Johanna, they had three more children born at Gooseberry Cove: Edward, Thomas and Ellen.

James Baker Langher/Langer is missing from the 1836 voters’ list for Gooseberry Cove because for a few years he and his family moved to the Sound Island area of Placentia Bay to fish, as did several Seward family members. In 1837, both James Baker Langher/Langer and William Seward were residing at Gooseberry Cove. By 1840, William Seward’s brothers, Robert and Mark, had moved to Gooseberry Cove. A younger brother, Richard James, shows up at Gooseberry Cove around 1850. He and his wife, Mary Ann Lambert of Grates Cove, had seven children, all born at Gooseberry Cove: Elizabeth, Enoch, Edmund James, Moses, Stephen, William Henry and Mary Ann. It seems obvious that Richard James was well respected in the community, as he was referred to as “Governor Dick” and was looked upon as the overseer. When he died at Gooseberry Cove in 1899, his place of birth was given in the vital statistics as Harbour Buffitt, Placentia Bay, which suggests that his parents, Richard and Priscella, spent some time at Placentia Bay circa 1818. Edward Seward, who was a cousin of William, Mark, Robert and Richard Seward, also moved from New Perlican to Gooseberry Cove circa 1840. He later moved to Snook’s Harbour.

Robert Seward, son of Richard and Priscella, married Mary Anne Emberley of Brule, Placentia Bay circa1830. Their son John was baptized in the R.C. Parish of Little Placentia (Argentia) on August 31, 1835. Their sons Joseph (1835) and William (1837) were likely born at New Perlican. Their other children were born at Gooseberry Cove beginning with daughter Mary Anne in 1840. The others were Richard (1841), Peter (1843), Robert (1845), Patrick (1848), Matthais (1854) and James (1859).

The first recorded marriage at Gooseberry Cove is that of Richard and Priscella Seward’s son Mark to Grace George on May22, 1840. Mark’s and Grace’s son Martin and his wife Grace appears to have had one child, Mary Jane. Another son William married Susannah Green and moved to St. Jones’ Without.

On July 15, 1837 a child Mary Ann was born to Thomas and Mary Langer at Gooseberry Cove. Thomas Langer came from Heart’s Content and his wife Mary Bugden came from Trinity. It appears that Thomas and Mary did not stay at Gooseberry Cove for long, but went to live at Rider’s Harbour and Thoroughfare on Random Island.

In the 1850s Benjamin Smith of Chance Cove and his wife Rachel Martin moved to Gooseberry Cove. Their first two children, Harriett and Helen, were born at Chance Cove, while six others, Sarah, Joseph, Theresa, Benjamin, another Theresa and George, were born at Gooseberry Cove. George, a brother of Benjamin, also moved to Gooseberry Cove but several years later it appears that he had gone ‘north’, perhaps to the Battle Harbour area of Labrador.

Robert Balsom of Winterton, Trinity Bay moved to Gooseberry Cove in 1858 when he married Mary Anne Seward, daughter of Robert and Mary Anne, of that community. Their three children, Mary Ann, Eliza Ann and Llewellyn, were born at Gooseberry Cove. Llewellyn later moved his family to Chapel Arm, Trinity Bay.

Nathan Charles Pitcher of Winterton established a Pitcher line at Gooseberry Cove in 1889 when he married Rachel Seward, daughter of Solomon and Dinah. Their seven children, William Eliakim, Dinah Ann, Solomon Malcolm, Martha, Robert Wilson, Adam George and Charles Henry, were all born at Gooseberry Cove. By the 1950s all the family had moved from the community.

William Thomas Flynn from King’s Cove, Bonavista Bay came to live at Gooseberry Cove around 1890 when he married Margaret Seward, daughter of Richard and Hannah, of that community. They had eight children, Richard, Daniel, Josephine, Sarah Catherine, Johanna, Ellen, William John and James Valentine. There are no Flynns living at Gooseberry Cove today.

The surname Fitzgerald came to Gooseberry Cove around 1944 when James Fitzgerald of Keels, Bonavista Bay married Mary Ann Seward, daughter of William Thomas and Elizabeth, of Gooseberry Cove. Their descendants live in the community today.

On the 1873 voters’ list for Gooseberry Cove are the following names: Robert Balsom, James Langer, Peter Seward, Robert Seward, Richard Seward (Sr.), Richard Seward (Jr.), Joseph Seward, William Seward, Solomon Seward, Patrick Seward and Benjamin Smith. By that year there were 11 families in the community. In 1921 there are 28 families at Gooseberry Cove with a population of 145. The population peaked in 1935 with 189 people in 33 families. In 1945 the population had dropped to 157 in 29 families.

The first schoolhouse to serve Gooseberry Cove was built at Heart’s Ease Beach in 1859 with George Vardy, of Grates Cove who had moved to Clay Pits, as the first teacher. This school also served as a Church of England (Anglican) church with George Vardy as the layreader. Around 1880, St. Alban’s Church of England church, school and rectory were built at the ‘crossroads’ at Gooseberry Cove. This church also served the residents of the neighbouring communities of Southport, Butter Cove, George’s Cove, Heart’s Ease Beach, Clay Pits, Little Harbour and St. Jones’ Without. The parish was called the Parish of Random and included a large number of settlements, including those on Random Island. Prior to the 1880s, clergymen visited from Trinity, Heart’s Content and New Harbour. The children of Butter Cove, Southport, Heart’s Ease Beach and George’s Cove also attended the new school at Gooseberry Cove. Around 1913 the rectory was replaced by one at Hodge’s Cove, a community which was considered to be a more central location, since the parish serviced a large area from Come-by-Chance to Southport.

On May 23, 1928 the last service was conducted in the old St. Alban’s Church by Rev. S. R. Shepherd. The next day, a Mr. Bryant began taking down the church. The cornerstone for the new church was laid on September 5, 1928. The old school near the church was used for services during the building of the new church, which was not officially opened until May 15, 1932. From 1928-1932 many couples, wishing to be married, often travelled to Hodge’s Cove, where the ceremony was conducted in St. Mary’s Church.

By 1850 the R. C. Church had an established following at Gooseberry Cove with the family of Robert and Mary Anne Seward. It appears that several of their older children had been baptized in the Church of England faith, but on November 1, 1850 they converted from Church of England (Anglican) to Catholicism, along with their father, Robert, who was 65 years old at the time.  R. C. church records state that Robert’s and Mary Anne’s son Joseph married Mary Cassandra Follett in the R. C. faith in 1855. The family was served by the R. C. parish of King’s Cove, Bonavista Bay.  When Robert (b. 1807) died in July 1860 and his son William died in October of the same year, they were taken across the bay to be buried at Turk’s Cove, a predominately R. C. community. What is strange is that their graves are not in a cemetery today but in the yard of a resident of Turk’s Cove. The lone tombstone for both father and son is now lying on the ground but the wording is easily readable. It appears that an R. C. church was not built at Gooseberry Cove until the 1880s.

Gooseberry Cove residents of the Methodist faith attended the Methodist (United) Church at Southport as they do today. The first Methodist Church at Southport was built in the late 1850s and in 1875 a Methodist school was also constructed there. The Methodist line likely began at Gooseberry Cove when Moses Seward (b. 1859) married Jessie Ann Stringer, likely a Methodist, from Grates Cove.


Note: This article is subject to further correction and revision.


NOTE: See also information from Decks Awash, Volume 15, Number 6, November-December 1986