Barkerville, Williams Creek,
Janet Morris or 'Scotch Jennie' as she was more commonly known was a very
interesting character. According to record she came to Cariboo from Fifeshire,
Scotland in 1862. Notably she was one of only ninety-seven people who wintered
in Cariboo that first year, only seven of whom were women. She "...acquired
the respect of everyone by the numerous acts of kindness she performed in
case of sickness or distress. Whenever any accident occurred or any case
of serious illness she volunteered her services to become nurse and friend
of the miner. She exhibited this humane disposition at considerable inconvenience
to herself..." Cariboo Sentinel, Sept. 1870.
In 1863 Dr. Cheadle wrote of her as a dinner companion "...also Janet
Morris, a Scotchwoman, fair, fat and forty [she was only 35] the wife of
a man who keeps a store, & who came to make the plum pudding etc. &
of course sat down and dined with us."
Several months later Janet Morris was widowed from her storekeeper husband.
As the vast majority of the population in Cariboo was male, a woman didn't
stay alone for long unless it was by choice. Janet Morris was no exception,
the Cariboo Sentinel, June 1865 records "Married at Cameronton on the
12th. instant by the Rev. D. Dun, William Allen to Janet Morris, late of
Scotland, both residents of Williams Creek."
In April of 1865 a Mrs. W. Allen opened the Pioneer Hotel in Centreville
and later that spring opened the Hotel de Fife, a boarding house on Dunbar
Flats, near Van Winkle. It was on a return trip from Dunbar Flats to Barkerville
in 1870 that Scotch Jennie met her untimely end. She was driving her carriage
through Black Jack canyon just south of Barkerville, and fearing the steep
cliff to her right she accidentally drove the carriage into the rock wall
on her left, subsequently tumbling the carriage over the cliff. She died
later of a broken neck and it was noted that "she dressed like a man,
drank like a man and died like a man". All the flags in Barkerville
hung at half mast the day she died. She was buried in the Barkerville/Cameronton
cemetery, Sept. 6, 1870.