Jost Biographies
Third Generation: Reminiscences of Christopher Jost, 1805-1884

Submitted by Polli Turner (

Clara Jost Marr wrote:

"It is a mystery to the descendants of our grandfather what happened to this, and we don't know the year in which he wrote it. This much of it was found on 'Little Island' in Guysborough [Nova Scotia] Harbor many years after his death and that of his wife. The tattered manuscript was incomplete, found by someone strolling there and delivered to one of his descendants and I got a copy of it from Dr. Arthur Jost: This is a copy of Arthur's:" [she copied it by hand, as follows:]

My brother John and our cousin William Moir left Halifax for Guysborough by schooner in the spring of 1822 and remained there until fall and returned home. They both returned the spring of 1823 and I accompanied them.

William Moir commenced shoe-making. John and William, however, set up a shop in Guysborough. We had arrived on a Sunday morning. The name of the captain was Bell. We went on shore and went to meeting. Rev. M. McNutt preached in the county court house.

On Monday morning we rented part of a house from Joseph Cameron and landed our goods in our new home. How little we knew what was before us. Mr. Cutter's establishment was nearly closed and there were only two stores--Mr. Frank Cook's and Tyrus Hart's [Christopher's future father-in-law]--that did any business, except a few grocery shops.

Guysboro was noted for bankruptcy. Saturday afternoons were set aside for the rowdies to come to town, get drunk and quarrel and fight and return home to prepare for Sabbath morning. Nothing could be done without rum. The smith would not shoe your horse without half a pint. The town, what there was of it, looked like a dreary place. There was a church of England, a Catholic chapel and a court house.

Our parents belonged to the Methodist Church in Halifax and we were brought up to fear God. I was young and had not much knowledge of the world. I was eighteen. John was 27. We little thought of the unknown Hand that was leading us.

We spent rather a pleasant summer. I was John's and William's clerk. We sold our goods and collected all we could. At this time trade was very small. Butter was 9 pence a pound, and hard to sell at that. Best fall mackarel 12/6 per barrel. We shipped our produce in a shallop [a small boat] owned by Hartz and Hadley and arrived safe at "Home Sweet Home" for the winter. Without William but planned to go back in the spring.

But before I go any further, I must write about a serious circumstance that befell us on our passage back to Halifax. John and I, to our dismay, found something caused a great itching about the legs and arms and we came to the conclusion it was "Scotch (or Irish) Fiddle". How we came by it we could not tell. The only consolation we had was that we were on our way home where a mother's kind heart would console us and some treatment cure us and all would be well in a few days.

We arrived home safely and found all the family and friends well. After our fish and goods were sold and our accounts paid it was decided that another supply was to be purchased and that I was to go back to Guysborough for the winter and John was to remain in Halifax.

We shipped the goods on the same vessel we had come up on about Nov. 1824. And I returned with them to Guysborough.

I hired a house from John Foster, handed out the goods and commenced another company for the winter, all alone, without much experience and exposed to influences common to young men but I have no doubt the prayers of pious parents followed me. But alas, I found that horrid itching again overtake me and what to do I did not know.

However, something had to be done. I got some sulphur and lard and made a mixture of it and borrowed a large tub and went through the process in a very awkward way you may be sure until I was tired and sick. I do not know what the young ladies thought of the way I smelled. It was difficult to destroy that perfume.

However, I got rid of it at last and very willingly bid a long farewell to it.

I spent a very pleasant winter there and made acquaintances and kind friends in some good old families and also at the "Cove" and in Manchester as well as in the town. particularly Hank Cooks and the Tyrus Harts. Mr Hart [Christopher's future father-in-law--see The Hart Family] seemed to take a great liking to me and wished me to stand godfather to his son Levi. Rev. Mr. Weeks performed the ceremony.

There was no preacher in the town at that time except in the English church and I could discern a great difference between it and the preaching I had been accustomed to in the Methodist church in Halifax. But I soon got quite pleased with it. My brother and I were accounted good singers and the church people were quite proud of William and me.

Baptist missionaries came quite often. Rev. Mr. Widden, Nutter and Demmock and preached more often on the "Cove". We frequently went down there to hear them.

At last spring came and I begin to pack up again for Halifax and arrived home safely and settled up the brothers.

My brother George in Halifax had been my silent partner. He sold out his share to me for $400 and that made a change in the business. Henceforth I was to be John and Christopher Jost ["J&C Jost"]. I did not own another cent at the time.

John and I returned to Guysborough to spend the winter there. There were no temperance societies at that time but we determined to sell no liquor.

That winter we occupied the same house belonging to John Foster. In the spring we opened a store in New Harbor and I remained in Guysborough to do business there while John went to New Harbor.

That summer I got acquainted with Wentworth Taylor's family and when lonesome took a walk up and spent many a pleasant evenings there. They were very kind.

Very often after church William Moir and I went Manchester side of the harbor to visit some of the folks--Mr and Mrs. Lawson and some of the McKeough families--I think something like a load stone drew William there very often to McKough's who lived on the point. Several young ladies belonged to it.

In the fall my brother John shipped his fish from New Harbor to Halifax as I did mine. We both spent the winter in Guysborough.

There came to Guysborough about that time a number of Irish families from Newfoundland and settlers around Salmon River Lakes and Roman Valley. A number of them hired out for work on farms. Some of these farms belonged to protestant families and after a time they married some of their daughters who became Catholics. The protestants became alarmed--however God intervened. Evangelical preaching was conducted more often and Methodist and Baptist preachers came on the ground. A Methodist meeting house was erected in the town and a Mr. Webb became the preacher. The Baptist Assn. sent Mr. Widdne who used to travel time after time over almost the whole country. There appeared to be a great searching for the "Water of Life." A number of persons who had come Sunday after Sunday to the established church to hear words whereby they might be saved went away dissatisfied and when they heard the joyful sound from dissenting ministries embraced the full gospel at once. The Lord blessed the labors of His servants and a number got converted round about. After this we had regular preaching at the Interval [?] and the "Cove" and in Manchester as well as the town.

We had, however, got used to the established church and we found it difficult to leave it. But oh how thankful I ought to be that I found the strength to do so. But I had felt there was something wanting.

In the spring we left the Foster house to go where Mr. Mahoney now lives and there we commenced business and during the summer we started to build a house on the land where we now reside. We purchased the land from Christian Muller Esq. an old German.

In the spring of 1866 my brother John and I built a new store on the ground where it now stands.

Again Clara comments:

"And that is all we have of it. Not a clue as to the date it was written except that it was after 1866. Were John and William and Christopher attracted by the beautiful scenery around Guysborough that they decided to settle there, or was it the young ladies?

"We do know that John and Christopher parted in the business. John built a store about a block away. Probably it was about this time that Christopher's son Burton was taken into the business. And a little later his son George. And it probably was about this time that Christopher retired. He died in 1884.

"John also had a son, [Henry] Marshall and he may have wanted to get him established, having seen that the business was growing sufficiently to warrant the opening of another store. The original business became 'B&G Jost' [around 1880].

"I have heard it remarked by Guysborough folk that the reason they, 'B&G Jost' got so much of the business was because Uncle Burt was a liberal in politics and a Baptist and Father [George] a Tory and a Methodist. But their principles, like their father, Christopher, were the highest, and that can be said of the firm to this day under Gordon Drysdale, grandson-in-law of Burton, who married Burton's grand-daughter Dorothy Jost."

Burt and George ran the store about 20 years in all, from Christopher's death in 1884 to 1904. In 1900, Burt's son, Christopher Arnaud Jost, began working in the store. He eventually took it over, and worked it faithfully to the end. Gordon Drysdale came in about 1948. One evening in 1952 Christopher had a store meeting for the purpose of giving his son-in-law Gordon signing power. Christopher died the next day.

The original store was built in 1866. A later location was built in 1900--Jim Drysdale knows the son of the man who built it [he's 93 years old, as of 1990]--he showed Jim the bill his father made out for the job, $950! That building burned down in 1927. Until the present building could be erected, the store carried on business in a feed shed on the wharf.

The B&G Jost store closed its doors for the last time at 12 noon on Sat. June 30, 1990, after 167 years of doing business.

Dr A. C. Jost was 10 years old when Christopher died. In his later years he wrote:

"My memory of Christopher Jost, my grandfather, is quite distinct in a number of particulars. He had retired from the business but used to spend a great deal of his time in the shop, which occupied the northern half of the building. . . . The shop was small, and the office was behind the counter and showcase of the right of the door as you entered the shop. The office was connected with the portion of the house used as a dwelling, by a door.

"Grandfather, I remember most distinctly as sitting on a stool or on a nailkeg, in the rear of the shop, about where there was an opening in the counter. He was clubfooted, both feet, badly deformed, and he had, as I remember a characteristic attitude of sitting, with his head thrown upward and his chin forward. He seems to have been occupied usually in chatting with those who might come in, while he whittled a match or sliver of wood.

"Concerning Grandmother, my recollections are much more vivid, though there are few which I can remember as characteristic. I remember her kindliness, though I can not conceive of her being a bright or joyous individual. During her latter years, when an invalid she always appeared the same, kind, with little self-assertiveness, most uncomplaining, giving me the general impression of being extremely even-tempered."

Their granddaughter, Clara Jost Marr wrote:

"Our grandma, Harriet Hart Jost [Christopher's wife] was a very fine woman--a lady. In the early days of her marriage a ship came in our harbor with escaped slaves. Among them was a young girl called Sarah Reed. Grandma took her and turned her into a good maid.

"Grandfather, after he retired from the business used to often amuse himself by sewing squares of patchwork for quilts for the colored people out in the colored settlement about two miles from town. Grandma would get some ladies together and they would quilt them and he would drive old Kate in the sleigh and take them out to deliver them. He often took me with him--I was not more than six or seven, but I remember it. He would have prayers with them in their little houses and we would drive back home over the snow.

"A few years after Grandpa died Grandma gave up house-keeping and went to live with her brother Joseph and his daughter Maria. When Joseph died and Maria went to Halifax, Grandma came to live with us. Sarah had gone to live among her friends in the colored settlement but she continued to come to Aunt Sarah Jost and mother for the weekly cleaning and the spring and fall house-cleaning. But they both kept regular maids. Mother had Mary McIsaac for six years.

"Grandma stayed with us until old Mrs. Franchiville died. She was Aunt Hattie [Christopher's sister] Franchiville's mother-in-law and had lived with Aunt Hattie for years in the lovely old Franchiville home overlooking the harbor of "Long Beach". Aunt Hattie was a widow then. Grandma died there in 1896, 81 years old.

"Grandma was a beautiful needle woman. She was clever, intellectual and refined, a great reader. Also an excellent house-keeper and cook. She was kindly and pretty and very religious, Methodist to the core. When she lived with us my bedroom was opposite hers, across the hall. One Sunday morning I was dressing for church and a button came off my kid glove. So I went across to Grandma's room and asked her to sew it on. Her reply was 'I couldn't sew a button on on Sunday, dear.' I don't remember what I did about the glove, but I never forgot Grandma's reaction. Mother could no doubt have given me the same answer. Sunday in those days was just that sacred.

"I always sat next to Grandma in church. She had a very sweet voice and I loved to hear her sing. She didn't go to church in the evenings so I stayed with her and we sang hymns.

"I remember her beautiful black clothes. A long crepe veil as widows wore in those days over a bonnet. Her black silk dress had a very full skirt, and I remember her mink 'tiffet' and muff. Never a color after Grandpa died. She was very near-sighted, held her book or her work very near her eyes but seldom wore glasses.

"I remember her as being about five foot two inches in height, slight and a little (a very little) stooped. And she did a lot of knitting for all of us children--perfect work. She loved to call Mother 'Maudie Dear'. Her hair was white and very thin. She wore a dainty lace cap over it all the time--generally black, but white on special occasions--of very finely pleated organdy laid in folds, white.

"Sometimes she would ask my father to take her to Halifax to visit her other daughter, Sarah Teasdale, whose husband J.J. Teasdale was minister in Brunswick Street Church there and I would be taken along, too. I loved it."

The following is an excerpt taken from a history of Guysborough County written by Harriet Hart Jost--the book won a prize in the Akins Historical Prize Essay Competition.

"Christopher Jost's name also appears in the obituary list. The firm of J&C Jost (now B&G Jost) was a prominent part of Guysboro business life. These brothers came from Halifax, and by diligence and perseverance established themselves in a flourishing trade. The elder brother John died some years previously. He was one of the principal supporters of the Methodist church and his daughter, Kate, spent the few years of her married life in mission work in Newfoundland as the wife of Rev. Thomas Gaetz. Rev. Cranswick Jost, DD, Methodist minister, is the eldest son of Christopher. Two other sons have remained in Guysboro so the name is still perpetuated in business circles. Mr. Christopher Jost was an active member of the Baptist Church. He was the donor of the site of the present County Academy in the town of Guysboro."

Arthur Cranswick Jost, son of Burton & Sarah--

Finished high school at the age of 15. Got his B.A. at the Baptist University in Wolfville. Went to McGill and graduated M.D. Married Victoria Martin ("Tory"). Practiced in Guysboro. Enlisted in WWI. After his wife died, sister Bessie came to keep house and help raise his two boys, Burton and Victor. After his return from the war he was health officer for Nova Scotia, living in Halifax, and later took the same position in Dover, Delaware. There he met and married Dell Buckner. Burton graduated as a mining engineer, and enlisted in WWII, in the Canadian forces. Victor also enlisted, but in the American forces. Burton's plane went down over Germany, and he was reported killed. At about the same time, Arthur's beloved Dell died suddenly. He was shattered. He had retired, and he returned to Guysboro and took up residence in the hotel, a highly respected and valuable citizen. He has written many books on Nova Scotia history, many of which he passed on to the Nova Scotia archives.

The bulk of the above material was taken from work done by Clara Jost Marr, a daughter of George Edward Jost. She worked on the Jost family history for more than 20 years before her death. The material was sent to me by her son, Avard Marr, who lives in New Westminister, BC, Canada. In turn, Clara got some of her information and the manuscript by Christopher Jost, from Dr. Arthur Cranswick Jost, mentioned above.

Information about the store came from Jim Drysdale, son of Gordon and Dorothy (Jost) Drysdale.

Note on the Fourth Generation part of the memoir:

The branch of the Jost family written about in this memior leaves Nova Scotia at this point- here's a tidbit on Christopher's son:

The following section was taken (those portions in quotation marks) from the books, History of Banning and San Gorgonio Pass, written by Tom Hughes and published in 1939 by the Banning Record, and Centennial of the First Baptist Church of Banning California, written by our own Dorothy Jost.

"Christopher Francis Jost was born at Guysboro, Nova Scotia, June 12, 1846. His father was Christopher Jost, his mother's maiden name was Harriett Hart. He attended Acadia College at Wolfville two years, then went into a mercantile business with his father.

"At the age of 30 he left his native town, coming almost directly to Banning to open a store and act as paymaster for the Rev. Winfield Scott. Young Jost came over the Central Pacific to San Francisco, thence by boat to San Pedro. As he was shipping a $2600 stock of general merchandise, he rode a freight train from the port, reaching San Gorgonio on the sixth of March, 1877. There being neither station nor siding at the Banning site he hauled his merchandise by team from San Gorgonio up the Water canyon."

The rest of the memoir is out of the scope of this website (which focuses on Lunenburg county and nearby areas), but if you'd like the full version you can contact Polli Turner at for the remainder.
First Generation
Second Generation: Memoirs of John Casper Jost
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