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Le Courant

Fall 2009 | 11


Randy Yates

The Jenks family of Coaticook, can trace their origins as far back as the middle of the sixteenth century. Joseph Jenks Sr. was born in England in 1602, and immigrated to America, as an iron worker. He founded the first American iron works at Saugus, Massachusetts which made domestic utensils such as pots, kettles and skillets, as well as tools such as axes, saw blades and scythes.
His son, Joseph Jr. continued in his father's footsteps, when in 1671 he commenced the building of a forge on the Blackstone River. Constructed near Pawtucket Falls this settlement was eventually to become the town of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, a center for the manufacturing of farm tools and house wares, which were vital to the survival of the colony. (1)

The Canadian branch of the Jenks family stemmed from Nathaniel M. Jenks who was born Octoberl4, 1818 in Burke, Vermont. He pursued his education at Lyndon Academy and continued at the Vermont Medical College of Woodstock, Vermont where he received his diploma as a medical doctor. (2)

In 1846, he moved to Barnston corner, where he established his medical practice and in 1847, he married Lucy Thornton. The Easter Townships Directory lists Nathaniel Jenks as a physician and goes on to describe Barnston as being between Coaticook and Ayers'Flat, with the nearest bank at Coaticook. Other business interests were: John Albee, shoemaker; L.L. Belknap, sawmill; A.A. Benoit general store ;W.H. Hill, undertaker; William Oulton, blacksmith; H.E. Corliss, sawmill, and George W. Allan, hotelkeeper. In total there were twenty one businesses listed with a population of one hundred and fifty individuals.

Dr. Jenks played an important role in the development of Barnston, and the surrounding community. Not only did he provide medical services to the region, but he was also a farmer, mayor, builder of the academy and church, and developer of roads. In August 1914, his two grandsons Archie and Abbot Jenks dedicated a monument to him at Barnston Corner. It inscription reads "Erected in honour of Nathaniel Jenks M.D. to whom this Valley Road owes its existence... "(3)
Doctor Jenks and Lucy Thornton had four children. In 1861,Lucy died while giving birth to Minnie. Later, Minnie married Claude Baldwin and moved to Portland Oregon, John Nathaniel, born in Barnston in 1848, married Kate Cole and lived in Barnston. Educated at Darmouth, he became the principal of Barnston Academy in 1870 and was later to become custom officer at Coaticook.(4)
Leslie Hall Jenks was born in 1849 and married Nancy Cushing of Coaticook. Educated as a dentist, he set up his practice in Coaticook with their home residence located at the corner of Pleasant and Cutting. On November 11,1873 in preparation for the opening of his practice, he purchased from Samuel White of Philadelphia, a dental chair for fifty dollars along with files, tooth powder, and various other instruments.(5)
Abbot Jenks, born in 1893, was the younger of two boys. He married Irene Buckland and worked as an investment agent and was also interested in mink farming. There were no children and Abbot died 1957.
Archie Jenks was born in 1889. He was studying dentistry at McGill University when the First World War broke out. On February 18, 1915 he enlisted in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. Private Jenks was assigned to the Third Canadian General Hospital (Mc Gill), and embarked from Montreal for England on the Metagama on May 6, 1915.
For the next three years, Archie would spend much of his time in Belgium. For a time, he worked as a medical orderly and spent some time in the trenches. By the end of 1916, he was ready for a change and joined the Royal Flying Corps where he received training as a navigator at the end of which he was promoted to Flying Officer (Observer).
Flying Officer Jenks returned to France and within seven months he had shot down seven German aircraft, earning himself the title of "ACE" . Lieutenant Jenks was officially discharged on March 17, 1917 and returned to civilian life where he became a successful dentist in Montreal. Unfortunately, after the tragic death of his only child, he became despondent and took his own life in July of 1938. He was laid to rest in the family plot at Mount Forest cemetery of Coaticook. (6)
Recherche : Randy Yates
Nov, 1873 Footnote
1- "Joseph Jenks Jr. 1628-1717" Barbarowa Genealogy, Brooklyn Village, Ohio, The Next Generation of Genealogy Site Building, 3 Feb. 2009.genweb.whipple.org
2- Morrill VE. and Erastus G.Pierce, Men of Today in The Eastern Townships, Sherbrooke Record Co.., 191 7p. 194.
3- Les Monuments Commeratifs de la Province de Québec. Vol 2, Les monuments A Nathaniel Jenks, Copyright2006 University of Calgary, Université de Laval, Image 18.
4- Dandenault, Roch. Histoire de Coaticook (1815-1976),
Éditions Sherbrooke, 19 5- Samuel S. White, Bill of Sale, Original document, Il Nov. 1873. Errol Cushing Family Papers.
6- Aces and Aircraft of WWI, The Aerodrome, copyright 1997-.2009, www.the aerodome.com, 3 Feb 2009

Le Courant

Le Courant is published by the Society every year. Society's members, professional and amateur historian shared with the readers results of their searches. Articles are available in English and French. This publication received generous support from local sponsors that the Society wishes to thank with all it's gratitude.


Coaticook Historical Society

34 Main Stree East
Coaticook, Québec
(819) 849-1023

Opening Hours
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Closed : Monday • Saturday • Sunday and public holidays
Entrance Fees : Free


Over 23,000 pictures from our weekly newspaper Le Progrès.
Copies of The Coaticook Observer 1928-1938 complete plus others of different dates.
Copies of the newspaper L'Etoile de l'Est from 1928 to 1938 (complete) and others bearing differents dates.
Copies of our weekly newspaper Le Progrès de Coaticook from 1971 to 2003.

Approximate number of objects in the collections: 23000

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We can find persons having stayed in our region or find the origin of certain houses or buildings.

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Other: Pictures researches by themes or newspaper clips related.
genealogy information

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