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Random Gleanings from
Misc. Cumberland County Records



On 12 December, 1799, Elizabeth PORTER of Westchester entered into an aprenticeship agreement with John TOTTEN and his wife Jane, both of Amherst, to take her son Isaac, Jr. as an aprentice until he reaches the age of twenty-one. He is to be taught how to read and write, as well as the art of the husbandman [i.e. farmer]. They are also to provide him with sufficient food, clothing, etc. during the term of his aprenticeship.

Elizabeth's husband was Isaac PORTER, Sr. and he was "now a soldier in the Government Regiment" and was unable to provide for his family. Isaac, Jr. was born 6 June, 1794 at Westchester and so was only five years old when he was indentured. There is some evidence that this decision was "encouraged" by the Overseers of the Poor for the district, probably in an attempt to remove another body from the rolls.

I have no idea what the "Government Regiment" was. There are no PORTER's on the 1783 Return of the Westchester Refugees but a John TOTTEN, single man, is listed at Remsheg.

A copy of the indenture agreement can be found in the Baker collection at PANS: MG 1 v. 2764, #20. The Baker family were active in local government in Cumberland county (eg. magistrates, JP's, registrar of deeds, etc.) for two or three generations (roughly from the 1770's to the 1820's) and the family records at PANS contain many legal documents and similar records that are nowhere else available. For anyone with an interest in Cumberland county, especially the Amherst area, it is worth examining the collection in detail. There is no file list or other nominal index available.

From about the 1780's until the 1860's, the functions of municipal government in many counties of Nova Scotia was provided by the Court of Quarter Sessions. This body handled a very wide range of local government matters ranging from allocating funds for the construction of roads and bridges to trying and sentencing petty criminals.

Detailed minute books and related records are available for several counties, including Cumberland (1789 to 1859, apparently missing 1795-1807). These records are of relevance and interest to genealogists for several reasons. Most significantly, every year large numbers of ordinary citizens were appointed to one of the juries empaneled for a matter and all of the names are listed. Even in very small communities, there were numerous appointments to be made including fence viewers, hog reeves, and "surveyor of thistle".

Finally, a close reading of the records turns up some more traditional vital stats. Unfortunately, the entries are few and far between as it was not the main function of the Court to record these events.


10 August 1791: Mrs. Jean SIMPSON [a widow?] laid a complain agaiinst William BLACK, Esq. for marrying her daughter, Nancy (a minor) without her permission. Mr. Black claimed that he was told that Mrs. Simpson was of unsound mind and so could not give her consent to the marriage. The Court accepted the defense and dismissed the charge.


29 Oct. 1793: William CLARKE was called upon to put up a bond for support of his illegtitimate child with Ann BLINKHORN. He was relieved of the responsibility when Nathan HOEG (res. Maccan, a prominent member of the community) agreed to take the child.


27 June, 1814: Matthew SHARP was accused of having an illegitimate child with Elizabeth BURK. The Grand Jury reviewed the evidence and concluded he was not responsible.

PANS RG 34-309, series P, volumes 1 and 2. These are in original format at PANS; as far as I know they have not been microfilmed.

McKIM (of Westchester)

Westchester Township Book (PANS Mfm# 13497) p. 122

Andrew and Jane McKim of Slago, Ireland
1. Philip McKim b. ----
2. Amanda McKim b. 12 May 1811
3. Donald mcKim b. 18 December 1812
4. Agnes McKim b. 30 January 1816

This list is probably not complete; the WTB has proven to be reasonably accurate but it tends to provide only partial lists of children. I do not know why the discrepency exists.

I also checked out the listings for the Purdy Cemetery, Westchester PANS MG 5 v. 20, #25

p. 22 Priscilla McKim d. Nov. 6, 1883, ae. 76
p. 23 Hannah McKim, d/o Andrew McKim; w/o James D.         Purdy d. Dec. 29, 1891 in her 74th year

The Westchester cemetery listings are not especially accurate but they are all that is available at present. They were indexed and published by the North Cumberland Historical Society a few years ago in a volume separate from the Cemeteries of North Cumberland.

Oxford Funeral Home Records

PANS holds copies of the burial records for the Oxford Funeral Home, 1905-1918 and 1936-1944. These are only a very few extracts. See MG 4 v. 362, #4 for the complete list.



John Atkinson (s/o William Thomas)
m1. Susan Eliza Stewart (d/o William), (1842 - 1859)
m2. 1864 Margaret [Stewart?]

All parties lived at Westchester; the second marriage is not recorded in the civic registration for Cumberland County.

This is not an especially remarkable genealogy except for the fact that Margaret was the aunt of John's first wife and the couple was subsequently expelled from the (Acadia) Presbyterian Church. There was a lengthy debate in the religious press of the day about the morality and/or legality of such a marriage and the subsequent actions by the church.

[William Stewart] to unnamed minister, May 17 1866
Stewart Family Papers, PANS MG 1 v. 1057A, #621
Somewhat surprisingly, he supported this union.