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  John Chafe
Edward Chafe's Correspondence's - 2005


Feb 19, 2005.  It seems to me that I should start any dialogue on our ancestry with a discussion of the sources I have been using. It could save you time and you could verify my research if you wished. I shall start with John Chafe, our first Newfoundland ancestor. Due to the shortage of records for the early 1700s, I have had to use a wide variety of sources, which are as follows:

(1) Efford-Chafe Family Bible
(2) Headstones in the old Church of England cemetery, PH 
(3) Thomas Ruck Mercantile Ledgers, Boston, 1713-1719
(4) Newman Mercantile Ledgers, Devon
(5) Census returns for PH
(6) Government records (CO 194 and GN series)
(7) Church of England missionary letters

No single source identifies John Chafe as being the father of Edward, Henry, William, Samuel, and John Chafe. However, taken together the sources strongly suggest that this is so. John Chafe is not listed as a planter in the 1703 census of Petty Hr. There are 19 planters, 6 wives, 4 children, and 35 servants. John could have been there as a servant. In 1708, John Chafe is listed as a single man with 5 servants, 400 quintals of fish, plus cod oil. The Ruck Ledgers seem to indicate that he was still single from 1713 to 1719 as he is not purchasing items which one would need for a family.

In 1720 John Chafe signed to a petition regarding the murder of Thomas Ford by a servant. His signature is written, not printed, revealing that he had received more than a basic education. In 1729 John was appointed a constable. This is important as it suggests that he was a permanent resident and that John was of good character.

The customs records of Exeter reveal that John regularly exporting items to Devon and importing items to Nfld. for sale during the 1730s to the 1750s. The Newman Ledgers show that John and Edward Chafe were business partners, and that John was still alive in 1758. One entry in 1785 states that John Chafe Jr. was living in Berry Pomeroy, Devon. I found a record in Devon showing John Chafe Jr. hired Henry Warren of berry Pomeroy as a servant to work for him in Petty Hr. The 1794 census shows that Edward, Henry, Samuel, and William were all born in Newfoundland and that their property adjoined each other.

It took me three months in 1977 to dig up and transcribe the headstones in the old Church of England Cemetery, PH. Some of the headstones I had seen in 1975 were gone two years later. About 1978, I flew to Ottawa to examine the Efford-Chafe Family Bible. It had been rescued from the St. John's dump after the death of Aaron Chafe. This Bible makes no reference to John Chafe. It contains some information on the Efford family, Philip Bidgood, the French invasion of 1762, and the offspring of Henry Chafe and Anne Efford.

In 1979 I did research in Devon and London, trying to collect Chafe signatures to match with signatures on records here in Nfld. During the 1980s I visited numerous archives in the US looking for colonial and mercantile records prior to the American Revolution. During the 1990s I expanded my research to the present generation of Chafes, contacting many of them for oral history and inquiring for any old Bibles and documents. This has been the most difficult part of the research as there are fewer records in the public domain after 1940.

The Efford-Chafe Bible was rescued from the dump, the ancient silver monogramed tankards were used for for pellet gun practice...I will not tell what else has been lost as it would break your heart. New and modern is good...old is bad. St. John's City Hall is busy tearing down many heritage buildings as they want to be Halifax. It is so sad.

I suspect (but cannot prove) than a few fallen headstones disappeared to pave someone's front walk. Someone said they were under the church for safe-keeping so I crawled under the church...I saw only one headstone there (John Cook). Acid rain has destroyed the Wills-Merry stone which I'd pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. The old people say a few headstones were ruined by a landslide from Boon's Head. 

John Chafe Jr. is likely the son of John Chafe, the first Chafe in Petty Hr. While I was in Devon I found references to a John Chafe of Berry Pomeroy having a plantation in Petty Hr. But he was too young to be founder of our family. I had lots of information but could not piece it together. Isabel was the one who really made progress on this. It appears that the Henry Chafe who owned lots # 52 and #53 in 1794 Petty Harbour census was the son and heir of John Chafe Jr. Henry Warren had been his father's servant and Henry Daspher was a cousin-in-law. 

It has been over 25 years since I saw the family Bible. I have been told it was given to Geoffrey E.H.J. Chafe who was an RCMP officer in Manitoba. Geoff could have moved back to Ontario by now though. In 1977, Dr. Keith Matthews told me that I was 'likely' descended from John Chafe and Mary Bulley. Unfortunately, I'm never satisfied with words such as 'likely' and wasted a lot of time trying to prove this. I did discover that a Bulley family resided in Petty Hr during the early 1700s so John may have had relatives in Petty Hr before he arrived. Jenny (Way) Chafe had brothers in Petty Hr. 


Sergeant Edwin George Chafe b.1904

June 6/7, 1944

27th Armoured Regiment, The Sherbrooke Fusilier's was part of the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade, landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944.  In front of the Canadians, moving toward Carpiquet airfield on the left flank, were units of the 21st Panzer Div. who were in waiting at the village of Buron. The North Nova Scotia Highlanders and the tanks of the Sherbrooke Fusiliers found themselves in a house-to-house struggle. A mile further south at Authie, the rest of the North Novas faced the 12th SS Panzer Div., a formation made up of teenagers from the Hitler Jugend with experienced officers and non-commissioned officers. Led by Standartenführer Kurt Meyer, panzergrenadiers and tanks smashed into the Canadians in the first major counter-attack faced by the 3rd Div. In confused hand-to-hand fighting, the 12th SS forced the North Novas out of Authie and back on Buron. The Sherbrookes’ Shermans were outgunned by the enemy’s tanks. Against the huge Panthers, the Shermans, which could burst into flame if hit, had little chance unless they could get a round or two away against the lightly protected sides.  The SS make many prisoners, they are frisked, interrogated then evacuated. The vanguard of the 9th Brigade had been decimated; 110 men were killed, 192 wounded and 120 taken prisoner. Twenty-one tanks had been knocked out. Losses equalled more than 40 per cent of all Canadian casualties on D-Day.

On June 7, the Germans shot a number of their prisoners and marched the others back to Abbaye d'Ardenne for questioning. Some 200 made it to the German headquarters alive. Ten were separated out on June 7, never to be seen again. Seven more prisoners arrived. By then, Meyer was exhausted and tense over his losses. His soldiers were short of rations and he responded to the news of seven more Canadians with anger: "What should we do with these prisoners? They only eat our rations. In future, no more prisoners are to be taken."  The seven Canadian prisoners were taken one by one into a courtyard and shot in the back of the head by an SS corporal.  

James Elgin Bolt (Sherbrooke) - b. 1920?, Ont
George Vincent Gill (Sherbrooke) - b. 1922, England (raised in Kingston, Ont.) -labourer
Thomas Alfred Lee Windsor (Lieutenant, Sherbrooke) - b. 1914, Montreal - buyer 
Harold George Philp (Sherbrooke) - b. 1911?, Manilla, Ont - miner
Roger Lockhead (Sherbrooke) - b. 1919, Relais de Ste-Monique, Que - road grader, father
Thomas Haliburton Henry (Sherbrooke) - b. N.S.- chemical engineering student

lus 5 North Nova Scotia Highlanders

Many more are executed in the following days.  Caen, cornerstone of the German defence, was captured by Canadians by July 10th. On August 16 the 2nd Canadian Division (6th Canadian Infantry Brigade and the Sherbrooke Fusilier tanks enters Falaise.  Kurt Meyer is wounded. Meyer's division joined the retreat across the Seine River and into Belgium. On September 6, 1944, in the vicinity of Namur, he was captured by partisans and handed over to the Americans.  He was captured wearing a Wehrmacht uniform and hid his identity for over a month before being identified. At his trial he claimed that the murders occurred under the command of Schumann and that he had punished Schumann by sending him back to the front. Meyer was found guilty of inciting his troops to deny quarter and of responsibility in the murder of 18 men and was condemned to death.  His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, to the outrage of many Canadians. After six years in Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick, Meyer was transferred to a prison in West Germany, from which he is paroled in 1956.  In Normandy, the Germans lost 300,000 men. Kurt Meyer's 12th SS had been a division of 20,000 men with 150 tanks on D-Day. On August 25th it had less than 300 men, no tanks or artillery.

The practice of taking no prisoners was carried out by some of the Allied forces, or at least the Germans maintained that they felt this was a policy.

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April 20, 2020