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Halifax County, Nova Scotia
HEWITT HISTORIES, ARTICLE NO. 14[15]

Dartmouth Patriot, 10 August 1901 Edition

HISTORY OF COW BAY

How the Mosers Came into Possession of
the Beach --- Story of a Wreck.
(Series of Articles by H.W. HEWITT)


No. 14[15]
 
 

Having given in the two previous papers the history of Cow Bay, with the exception of that part granted to Cowie, I will take up in this paper the history of the property now owned by the Mosers. This will conclude the series on Cow Bay.

Cow Bay, as I explained in Article No. 13, received its name from Robert Cowie, to whom was granted, in 1773, the lake known as Cow Bay Lake, the island in it, the beach and the land owned by the Mosers, together with 250 acres of land sold by Frederick Major to Louis Himmelman. Cowie, I think, was the owner also of that island known now as Melville Island, but known about 120 years ago as Cowie's Island. In December, 1783, Cowie offered for sale that island. The land granted to Cowie at Cow Bay was escheated in 1785. This ends Cowie's connection with Cow Bay, his name only being left to show his original ownership.

On April 1st, 1785, but a short time after the land had been escheated, a grant of the land was given to Enoch Bean, who also had the grant mentioned in my previous paper. His grant, of course, included the beach, lake and island.

On February 6, 1790, Enoch Bean deeded to John Albro the property granted to him. Several changes occurred in the ownership of the land till it was deeded in March, 1793, to Frederick Major. Major, as I have said, deeded in February, 1813, a portion of the grant consisting of 250 acres, to Louis Himmelman. The property bordered on the land side of Cow Bay Lake, and was situated near the river. In 1842 the property still owned by Major passed into the hands of Peter Moser, with the exception of a portion which he kept for himself. This portion was bought a short time ago by Daniel Moser, whose children now own the property.

The first inhabitants of Cow Bay were Indians. They camped about Cow Bay River in great numbers. That place was a favorite resort of theirs up to within 15 years ago. They played havoc with the good hard wood around, and nobody was sorry when they left. While the Indians were still living at Cow Bay a man named Garrett lived on the property about half a mile from the present residence of Daniel Moser, Jr. The cultivated field farthest from the Moser house is still called Garrett's field. Another old settler was a man named Evans, who lived just below the house of Samuel Moser. The ruins of the foundation of his house are still visible.

Still another house was built below the house of Peter Moser. It was a fairly good-sized house, but, although the foundation may easily be traced even now, no one I have spoken to can tell me its owner's, or rather, occupant's, name. Still more mysterious is an old cellar, which is on the island in the lake. It is not very large, but is clearly visible. No one has been able to give me the history of the house erected on it.

But, although little is known of the first settlers, the history of the property is better known when we come to March, 1793; for, on that date, Frederic Major, received a deed of the property. He was from the Old Country. His house, which was large and well finished stood a short way from the road leading to the beach, and only a few steps from the large red gate which closes the entrance to the beach.

The first Mosers who came to Cow Bay had to remodel for their use a building which stood on the left-hand side of the road running past the present house. The foundation is still visible - almost directly across from the barns. Here they lived for over a year, when the house of Mr. Peter Moser was put up. When Daniel Moser came he repaired the Major homestead, and lived there for one and a half years, when he moved into the house occupied by his widow.

The Mosers, I might say, came from Kingsburg, Lunenburg County. They were thorough Germans and the old members of the Moser families at Cow Bay can still talk in that language.

Having now traced its descent from Cowie to its present owners, I will give some facts about the place itself, and some of the more important events which have taken place there.

Cow Bay, to the average Haligonian, means only the beach. With the part of the Moser property used most extensively by pleasure-seekers I will deal now. Cow Bay is, to my mind, much like a machine. Have all the parts of the machine put together correctly, and we can rely on the machine when needed. Have, perhaps, only a screw loose, and the machine refuses to do the work it was constructed to perform. Cow Bay is a whole made up of different parts, every one of which are necessary to make the pleasant place it is. The river forms the bound between Eastern Passage and Cow Bay. At the very entrance to Cow Bay we have this never-failing stream falling down over the rocks, and the water, not flowing sluggishly past us, but in a perpetual tumult. On the left we have the river with its dashing and sounding waters. It passes through the two arches of a graceful bridge which spans the river. On our right we have the troubled waters of the river, which extends but 100 feet or thereabout, from the bridge. There its waters mingle with the waters of the lake, which stretches away to the inside of the beach and to the other lake. We pass up the road, and when we turn into the road which leads to Cow Bay beach we have before us another beautiful scene. On the right are well cultivated fields; on the left, also, the green fields lie in their emerald beauty. Below the fields is the lake with a beautiful wooded island in its midst. The beach and the opposite mainland add to the effect. Ahead of us lies the broad bosom of the Atlantic Ocean, with vessels and steamers almost constantly sailing on its face in sight of land.

When we get to the beach itself the scenery already witnessed is eclipsed by that around us. The beach extends for a mile with scarcely a stone in the sand. A white fringe of stones borders it. Above that a dark line of trees extends back to the shore of the lake. I have spent so much time in description that I do not feel justified in giving an extended notice of the water lillies and other features of this noted resort. My purpose is to write its history; therefore, I will leave to some one more gifted than I am, the writing of a more extended description of the natural scenery, while I resume my historical narrative.

The history of Cow Bay as a summer resort began about 35 or 40 years ago. Some of the first to go to Cow Bay for pleasure were Colonel Dawson and his son-in-law, Colonel St. Clair*. They used to have rooms in the house of Daniel Moser, Sr. Colonel Barnaby also rented rooms a few years after. From that time on more and more persons began to come regularly to Cow Bay, so I will say nothing of any except the first two mentioned. Colonel Dawson was a very tall and corpulent man. He served for a short time in the Crimean war. He was very wealthy, and on his return from the Crimea he left England and cam[e] to Dartmouth. He bought a property near the rope walk, and laid out streets, etc. One of these streets, still known as Dawson street, he named after himself. His son-in-law, Colonel St. Clair, of the 42nd Regiment, known commonly as the Black Watch Regiment, did not care to leave his wife; so, when the war broke out he sold his commission and came to Dartmouth to avoid the censure which this act would entail. His father-in-law bought him the property occupied by Rev. Mr. Morris as a rectory. After St. Claire's departure, about 35 years ago, the place was made an inebriates' home. A dissipated young Englishman, known only as Lord Newton, the son of a wealthy nobleman, married a lady below himself in social standing. His father sent him to Dartmouth. One night he became intoxicated and was the cause of an accident, which resulted in his death by fire.

But to come back to Colonel Dawson and St. Clair. Colonel Dawson took a fancy to Cow Bay. He thought that the island in Cow Bay Lake, being completely surrounded by water, belonged to nobody. He camped on the island, and thought it his own. He had a folding canvas canoe and a sailboat, which he used frequently on the lake and outside the beach. He used to put an awning over the boat and sleep in her. To make a long story short both Dawson and St. Clair left Dartmouth and Cow Bay about 35 years ago, and their property passed into other hands. Jack Patterson, whom Colonel St. Clair had brought with him as servant, remained, and all have heard of Jack Patterson, the Piper, who went to the Northwest Rebellion.

The Moser property has several gold mines on it. Gold was discovered only recently, so their history is of little consequence.

One wreck only has occurred on Cow Bay beach. I cannot do better than give the following account of the wreck, given the Halifax Chronicle, by the captain. The wreck occurred February 3rd, 1891. Portions of the wreck are still on the beach.

"The Gloucester fishing schooner Senator Morgan was dashed ashore in a gale Tuesday night at Cow Bay, East Halifax, and the crew had a thrilling experience in escaping from the wrecked vessel. The Senator Morgan under command of Captain Joseph E. Graham, sailed from Fortune Bay, Nfld., last Saturday night, with a cargo of 700 barrels of frozen herring and 100 barrels salt herring, the latter on deck. She experienced bad weather all the way. On Monday evening at 8 p.m., she passed 28 miles south of Sable Island, running before a northerly gale, and shaped her course for Cape Sable, which Captain Morgan supposed to be W.N.W. The barometer kept falling and the storm increasing, but the vessel continued on that course till 8 o'clock p.m. Tuesday, when the captain swung her off to the north-west. It was then blowing a southerly gale. A very thick fog prevailed, with rain squalls, and the crew could not see any distance ahead of the schooner. About 10 o'clock the vessel struck on a rocky and sandy beach, high up in the breakers. The men could not see or hear the breakers, owing to the storm, till after the vessel struck. The sea was breaking so fiercely on the shore that it meant sure death to attempt to land in the boats, so the crew started fires on the deck, by burning their bedclothes and their own clothing saturated with oil, to attempt to attract the attention of those on shore. For an hour they kept these fires burning without apparent success, but at last their efforts were rewarded by seeing two men moving on the beach. They had been there for some time, but owing to the darkness and the raging storm the crew did not know it. Two young men, cousins, named William and Daniel Mosher, returning home shortly after ten o'clock, saw the signal fires on the Senator Morgan and hurried to the assistance of those on board. They could do nothing, however, till their presence on shore became known to the men on the vessel. When Captain Graham discovered them on the beach he threw a tub into the water containing a light line, with the hope that it would be carried shore. The breakers swept it in towards the land, and when it got near enough a dog belonging to the Moshers swam out and secured it, and brought it to William and Daniel. By the aid of the line in the tub, one end of which remained on board the schooner, the end of the hawser was hauled ashore and secured. The crew, eight in number, had to scramble ashore hand over hand, being dashed about in the heavy waves, and often finding it as much as they could do to retain their hold on the rope. When they got close enough to shore William and Daniel Mosher would wade out in the water and assist them to the dry land. One man, the cook, was so exhausted that he fainted before he got ashore, and had to be carried by the two brave rescuers. He would certainly have perished if there had been nobody to help him. It occupied two hours to rescue the men from their perilous position, and they suffered extremely from the cold and wet. All the people in the houses near the shore were in bed when the schooner went ashore and did not see the distress signals, and but for the fortunate circumstance of the two Moshers being on the road, the crew would have been compelled to remain on board their vessel till yesterday morning. The men were comfortably housed and well treated at Daniel Mosher's house and yesterday morning Captain Graham brought the news to the city. The Senator Morgan is 86 tons register[ed] and owned by Thos. Hodge and others, of Gloucester. She is insured for about $6,500, being worth $8,000. The cargo is valued at about $4,500. The vessel is full of water, has settled three or four feet in the sand and is bilged on one side. Another gale will probably finish her, but the crew expect to save some of her material."

(To be Continued.)

* St. Claire should be Sinclair.


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