Son of Benjamin Atkins and Rachel Fowler
This is a little bit of history about North River. I was born in North River in the year of 1897 August 22. Now I know a lot of old people that lived there for a long time. Some of the men worked on Bell Island and some more went fishing and some stayed home, and worked on their farms. The Snows were the best farmers. There was a lot of Snows in North River in the old days. That is what they called a pond they have got up there Snow's Pond. It is a big pond. It is seven miles long. There is also a place called Hallstown. There were also people lived up there called Halls. There is a place called Morrissey Hill - where families of Morrisseys used to live. Also families of Hanlons and a place called Hanlons Point. Now there is North River and South River but I do not where they got their names from. I suppose the old people just called them that name so that they would know one from the other. My grandfather and his brother came out from the old country that is England in 1860 and settled in North River but he was not the first settler. He told me there was quite a number of people came out from England before he did. The two of them ran away from the British Army and settled in North River and when the railway was being built across the country in 1881, my grandfather was working on it in Whitbourne. He was on a bridge one day and he though the train could pass by but when the train came up close to where he was standing, he knew that he could not make it. The train was going across a bridge so he got down between the rails and he caught hold of the rail and the train cut his hand right off. He could tell me all about it when he and I went out together and when the train went across his hand and cut it off he fell 35 feet but he could work with his hand cut off but he stayed home and went farming. He had sheep and goats and a very nice farm in the old days. The old people would walk to St. John's in two days and then they would walk back in two more. My grandfather was six feet two inches tall and his brother was just as tall. The old people worked hard in the old days. Some of the old fellows would have a horse and they would have a plough out of wood. They would go to a blacksmith and they would make a shoe and they would fasten it on to the wooden plough. They would plough the land and plant their seeds and they would have some of the best little farms in the country. The old fishermen would come home and everybody would get in their winter stock. Some of the old men would build a boat and some would build a sled. The Bell Island Mines started in 1895 and my father went to work at that time. Many other people from North River also worked in the mines. I joined the army in 1914 and went overseas.
He served 448 days including sick days
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