Demasduit, Mary March, one of the last Beothucks, captured in 1819.
Demasduit - this native Beothuck was named Mary March by John Peyton Jr. because she was captured by him in March 1819. An expedition was authorized by Governor Sir Charles Hamilton for John Peyton Jr. and his father John the Elder to seek out the Beothuck tribe, retrieve stolen fishing gear and if possible to capture a member of the tribe to act as a liaison. They wished to establish a friendship between the tribe and the settlers. Mary March was taken to Twillingate and placed in the care of Reverend Leigh; he had hoped to learn the Beothuck language from her. When it was learned that she had left a child behind a decision was made to return her to her tribe; unfortunately she died, on January 8, 1820, before this could be accomplished.
Shanawdithit, the last of the Beothuck tribe.
Shanawdithit or Nancy April, as she was named by John and Eleanor Peyton, was the last known member of the native Beothuck tribe. Shanawdithit with her aging mother and yonger sister were found by English furriers in April 1823, in starving condition. They were brought to John and Eleanor Peyton at Exploits Burnt Island. Her sister and mother soon died of consumption. Shanawdithit spent the next five years with the Peyton family where she was well treated and helped to take care of their children.
Georgina's mother was one of these children. Shanawdithit died in 1829 at St. John's.
The grave of John Peyton Sr. and Jr.
John Peyton, Sr., Georgina's maternal great-grandfather, died in 1827, on the Exploits River at the age of eighty and was buried at Exploits, Burnt Island in Notre Dame Bay. Her grandfather John Peyton, Jr. died in 1879, at Twillingate, at the age of eighty-eight and was buried in the same grave with his father, one coffin resting upon the other, as was his wishes. One slab of granite, four inches thick, marks their resting place.
Final resting place of Georgina.
On Easter Sunday morning April 23, 1935 , with her sister Rose and a close neighbor at her bedside, Georgina Ann Stirling passed away in the house where she was born, a victim of cancer. She was placed in a simple handmade coffin covered with white velour which sat in the parlor of her home, a custom of the day. Neighbors dropped in to pay their last respects and to keep Miss Rose company.
It was not typical spring weather, snow had been falling for several days and the local men shoveled snow in preparation for the funeral, the ground was still frozen. The horse drawn hearse carried Miss Georgie to St. Peter's Church, the church where she had been baptized, had been one of the early organist and where she had sung for the first time in public. A simple burial service was conducted by the Reverend Isaac Butler and the organist of forty years was Mr. Frank Anstey. The short distance to the Snelling's Cove cemetery was so blocked with snow that the horse drawn hearse could not make the journey, the casket was placed on a simple handcart and carried over the snowdrifts by six men. The small procession of mourners followed behind and as they gathered around the graveside among the snowdrifts one friend remarked "wouldn't Georgie have loved this setting, it is like a snow palace".
For the next twenty-nine years "The Nightingale of the North" lay in an unmarked grave forgotten by many. It took a young and new clergyman to St. Peter's, the Reverend A. R. Brett, with others started a campaign to raise funds to erect a monument in her memory. A column in the Evening Telegram "The Voice of Don", Don Morris, also appealed to the Newfoundland public to give to this cause. On July 19, 1964 a monument was erected with approximately three hundred people in attendance. They came from all over Newfoundland and from Boston and New York. The Lord Bishop of Newfoundland and the R.C.M.P. were represented.
An organ was placed in the cemetery and during the singing of the Hymn, Lead Kindly Light, the monument, draped in the Union Jack, was unveiled.. At last a fond farewell befitting "our prima donna-The Songstress of Newfoundland".
Yearly thousands visit Snelling's Cove cemetery and read the inscription on the granite monument:
To the memory of Georgina Stirling
Mlle. Marie Toulinguet
Songstress of Newfoundland
The Nightingale of the North sang fairer than the lark of Italy. She entertained royalty by her voice and the poor by the kindness of her heart.
Erected by an admiring public 1964.