[Notes from Editor: As page numbers in electronic editions do not correspond to those in original printed versions, they are omitted from any Tables of Contents or Illustration Lists in works that we transcribe. Spellings are left as they were in the original work. Sentence & punctuation anomalies are also (mostly) left intact. Footnotes follow the paragraph in which they are referenced, enclosed by square brackets. Richard MacNeil]
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COUNTY OF PICTOU
At The Beginning of This Century
1801 - 1805.
The first years of this century brought large accessions to this country by immigration, principally from the Highlands of Scotland. Every year at least two or three vessels arrived with passengers, who gradually filled up the interior of the county, and spread to the neighbouring districts. It was at this time that the Highland proprietors were clearing their estates of the small tenants, with the view of turning their property into large sheep farms or deer forests, a policy involving suffering and hardship to many an humble family, but which has given to these and other colonies, some of their most deserving population, and ultimately proved to the advantage of the ejected themselves. The largest accession, which Pictou received in this way, was in the years 1801 to 1805, as many as 1,300 souls landing in a single season, and at this time several new settlements were formed..
When they arrived in Pictou, they were taken into the houses of the previous settlers, who were sometimes relatives or old acquaintances; but, whether or not, the new comers found a truly Highland welcome, or what was even better, a Christian exemplification of the precept, Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, till they could select their own location. Indeed, the notice of the arrival of an emigrant vessel brought people from all quarters, to enquire for relatives on board, whom they took to their homes, or to find acquaintances or persons from their native districts, or even strangers, to whom they would freely extend the same hospitalities.
The new comers received freely, but made the best return in their power by their labour, till they could obtain a lot for themselves. Sometimes, indeed, they hired for some time, before they settled upon their own land, the young especially often remaining for years in the houses of their kind entertainers. As soon as they had obtained an allotment of a piece of Government land, the old settlers near combined, in helping them to erect an humble habitation and to make their first clearing. The house was generally built of round logs, 15 to 20 feet long, undressed, the seams between which were closed with moss or clay. When their circumstances improved, larger houses, perhaps framed, but oftener of squared logs, were constructed; but in the meantime they had a home, which the hand of power had not allowed them in their native land, and which, though poor enough, was better than was possessed by the poorer peasantry of many parts of Britain and Ireland.
The same assistance was readily given in making their first clearing. An axe and a hoe were considered the only implements, necessary to commence a farm in the woods, and even these were often supplied in charity. A path was blazed or partially cleared from the residence of the nearest settler, and the goods of the new comer transported on the backs of men or horses. Neighbours gathered to cut down a portion of the forest round their dwelling. The trees were felled, lopped and cut into lengths, then set fire to, and thus the branches and small wood was consumed. The logs were then piled in heaps, and burnt, or rolled away for fencing, while the stumps were left to decay. This was very disagreeable and fatiguing work, but it was performed in the joy of having a home for themselves and their children, which no lording could touch, and in the gladsome anticipation of future independence. Women and children aided in gathering and burning rubbish or other work suited to their strength. When the ground was sufficiently cleared, wheat was sown and covered with the hoe. Potatoes were planted in round hollows four or five inches deep, in which from three to five sets were placed. Thus the first season, which might be the year after their arrival, or perhaps the second or third, they might have from two to six acres under crop. The vegetable mould, formed by the leaves of successive years, and the ashes left from the burnt wood, rendered the soil very fruitful, and the new settler never failed to reap a bountiful return for the amount sown. Potatoes, it was supposed, would never fail. Such was the commencement made by hundreds at this time in this and other places in the Maritime Provinces. They often felt discouragement enough, particularly as in many cases they had come out under highly colored representations of the country.* But many of these, who thus commenced in the woods in destitution, afterward became independent, and left their families in comfortable circumstances, and had reason to bless the selfishness of Lairds and Dukes, who had turned them out of the little holdings, possessed by their fathers for generations, and pulled the roof tree from off their humble homes.
*[ One of the settlers on the Four Mile Brook having been engaged one day hacking at the big trees, which grew on his lot, with all the awkwardness of a Scothman, becoming tired, sat down, and losing heart altogether, began to cry. His wife coming out, asked what was the matter. He told her his feelings. She immediately returned to the house, put on an old coat of his, and coming back seized the axe and commenced an attack upon a tree. He burst out laughing, took heart again, was never so discouraged afterwards, and ultimately became independent.]
We may mention, that in the same manner, the sons and daughters of the old settlers in many instances commenced life. When the youth reached manhood, he either received a portion of his fathers land, or took up crown land for himself, and erecting his log house, readily found some rustic maid, not afraid of labor, or of spoiling her complexion by exposure to the sun, ready to share his joys and sorrows, his trials and successes. Duly yoked to bear the burdens of life together, they went to their humble log house perhaps on foot, or at best riding double. Such was the style in which sixty or seventy years ago, the majority of brides were brought home. Commencing life however with stout hearts and in the fear of God, they enjoyed their full share of domestic bliss, and reared a race, who for vigor and worth, may shame their degenerate successors
We must now, however, give some account of the commencement of the settlements formed at this time, either by young men brought up in the country, or by these immigrants.
The first clearing on Mill Brook was made by Thomas and John Fraser, sons of Kenneth Fraser, Middle River, either in the year 1800 or 1801. They went up the bed of the brook, from where Kerrs mill now stands, carrying their supplies and implements, and erected a camp on what is now Wallace Monroes farm. They chopped and cleared on that same place, and having put in some seed, they left for the summer and returned in the fall to gather the proceeds. The bears were so numerous, that they did not venture out of their camp after night, even to the brook for water. Being in the habit of returning on Saturday to their fathers homestead, on the Middle River, they used on leaving to set a bear trap, baited with the remains of their weeks provisions, and very commonly found one secured on Monday morning. Hence the place was long known as Bear Brook. Having got their land surveyed and divided, Thomas built a small house on his side of the lot, on the lower part of what is now his son Richards farm. He had been married, and while they were at work his wife used to come up to cook for them, and perhaps help otherwise, but remaining most of the time at Green Hill. But now, probably in the year 1802, he came with his family to reside here. They came up the brook on foot, carrying their eldest child, between one or two years of age, and their articles of household gear. In some parts of the brook there were small patches of intervale, over which they passed; but where the banks were steep and close together, they where obliged to walk along the rocky bed of the brook, until they came near their home. Here there is a pretty fall, perhaps forty feet in height, where the water dashes over a steep declivity into a narrow gorge. The banks just below the fall rise some fifteen or twenty feet higher than the fall, and so steep that it is impossible to ascend them. They were thus obliged to climb the face of the fall, which they were able to do, as the water inclines to one side. Up this they carried their child and all their utensils.
Soon after a path was blazed to the Middle River, at what is now William Munroes place. There was not a settler above them, nor for a considerable distance on either side. They were followed shortly after by Alexander Ross, who came to Pictou in the year 1802, and settled where his son Kenneth now resides, Alexander McDonald , who arrived in the following tear, and Robert Gordon who came about the same time.
Seven or eight years after settling there, Thomas Fraser put up a mill in the gorge below the fall. He built no dam, but introduced the water into the mill directly from the fall, by a short race. He made a sort of road along the bank on one side, to the mill, but it was still difficult getting up and down from it, and a few years after a freshet carried the whole away. After this he built a mill above the fall, where he had not only stones for grinding wheat, but had the second oatmill in the county, about the year 1817 or 1818.
In the year 1801 came out two vessels, full of passengers, brought out by Hugh Dunoon, Esq. He made representations similar to those, by which interested parties have often deluded people across the Atlantic, such as that the same tree would yield them soap, sugar and fuel, or that they might get sugar from the tree, and gather tea at its roots. One vessel, chartered by him, called the Sarah, brought out 700 souls, though two children being counted as one, and infants in arms going free, they were reckoned as 500 passengers. They were crowded together, and their rations were scanty in quantity, as well as inferior in quality. Small-pox and whooping-cough broke out among them, so that the ship might be said to have realized the horrors of the Middle Passage. They were thirteen weeks on the voyage, having sailed in June, and not having reached Pictou till September, and in that time forty-seven died. During the passage they were boarded by a man-of-war, which pressed 25 of the able bodied passengers, but on Dunoon going on board, and representing himself as a Government agent, they were released. When the vessel arrived in Pictou, sickness still prevailed, so that she was kept in quarantine at the Beaches for some time.
The other vessel, called the Pigeon, sailed later, but arrived before her. She was a small vessel, and had only a small number of passengers.
Of those on board these vessels a number were Roman Catholics, most of whom removed to Antigonish, or places further East. The others took up land in various places, forming new settlements or filling up the older ones. Some of these formed the first settlement on Mount Thom. Among these were Alexander Stewart (afterward known as Post), John McLean, Kenneth McLeod, John Urquhart, Wm. McDonald, Alex. Chisholm, John Fraser, Hugh Cameron, Alexander Cameron, and James Fraser. The land had previously been laid out in lots, and each selected his, but there was no settler further up than Dalgliesh, at what is now Robertsons place, on the Eight Mile Brook. Alexander Stewart kindled the first fire on Mount Thom, on the evening of 31st December (New Years eve) of that year. His house was on the old Halifax Road, where he afterward kept a public house, and where his son Murdoch has since resided. He had, of course, only a rude hut in the woods. His wife, as she gazed through the partially open roof at the waving tree-tops overshadowing them, and within, at her shivering little ones clinging round her, and thought of the comforts she had left behind in the old land, declared her wish to be back in Scotland, if it were even to be in a jail.
Soon after he became mail-courier to Halifax. George McConnell, at the Ten Mile House, owned a horse, and so did David Archibald, at Salmon River, but between these two places there was not another, and for years he made his trips on foot, carrying the mail on his back, or sometimes in his vest pocket, and, at the proper season, carrying a gun to shoot any partridges which might cross his path. His trips were made regularly, though not so frequently as, in these days of railroads, would be deemed satisfactory, being in fact only once a month, his remuneration being at the rate of ten shillings for each trip. Some time after he purchased a little black pony, on which he made trips fortnightly, and this continued to be the mode of conveyance for several years.
Of those brought out by Dunoon, another body occupied McLennans Mountain. This was so named from the brook, which runs by it, which received its name from the first settler at its mouth. There were upon the brook at this time the following settlers: Thomas Turnbull, John Fraser (Squire), William Fraser, Elder, son of Simon the first Elder, Alexander and Peter Fraser, sons of McAndrew, John Fraser, son of Simon (Basin), who was suffocated by the fumes of charcoal in his own cellar, and John and James Cassidy.
On the banks of this stream, the limestone is cavernous and contains numerous deep interstices. One of these on the farm owned by Peter Fraser, forms an entrance to what is know as the cave. It is at the foot of a hill, and by stooping the visitor may enter this dark retreat. There he finds himself in an apartment about one hundred feet in length, and on an average six feet wide. A small stream of pure sweet water flows along its floor, beautiful stalactites hung from the roof, which have now generally been removed by visitors, and the rude masonry of the walls is only equalled by the projecting masses, which seem ready to fall from above. From this chamber narrow passages lead to other chambers, which have never been explored. At one time the owner spent his summers here, having laid a floor at the entrance, and having fitted it up with a door and window. Here the visitor was welcome to his scanty accommodation, but he has long since been removed to a still narrower house.
Orders were now issued by Government to William Fraser to survey the land on the mountain, and to divide it into lots for the new comers. This being done, a band of twenty- three of them occupied the whole block, each selecting his lot. This would probably be the year after arrival. Most if not all of them were from Lord Lovats country, near Inverness. A list of them will be found below.* With them there settled one person brought up in the country, viz, Simon Fraser, deacon Thomas son.
* [List of first settlers on McLennans Mountain:- Don. McDonald (tailor), Donald McDonald, James Fraser, ---- Grant, William McLean, Finlay McDonald (piper), Donald Fraser, Finlay McDonald (carpenter) , James Cameron, Thomas Cameron, John Fraser (Buie), Alexander Cameron, Finlay McIntosh, Alexander Fraser (weaver) , James Fraser (Bann), Hugh Cameron, Alexander McDonald, John Fraser, Peter Stewart, James Fraser, John McRae, Donald McPherson, Angus Fraser (Deacon ).]
Although the country had improved much since the first settlers came, and trade was now brisk, yet we may well suppose that a number of persons from the old country, who had never handled an axe, settling down in the midst of an unbroken forest, without roads or other conveniences, had before them a task requiring stout hearts, and for years involving toil and sacrifice. Some of the tales of their ignorance of the country are rather amusing. The following is too good to be lost.. They were much afraid of the bear. On one occasion, one of them being in the woods saw a porcupine on a tree, and at once concluded that it was the dreaded foe. He therefore at once gave the alarm to his neighbours. All the men near and some of the women gathered without delay. One of them had a gun, which was put in requisition. Thus armed they advanced boldly, but with due caution to meet the monster. Nine shots were fired at him, by which he was at length laid low. Inspired by curiosity, and in the proud consciousness of their victory, they proceeded to examine their vanquished foe, but found matter of still greater astonishment , in the manner in which the quills stuck in their hands.
The stories they had been told about getting sugar off the trees led to some amusing mistakes, with them and others of the new comers. On one occasion, after the landing of a company of emigrants, a number of them were put to sleep in a barn near town. Early in the morning, when the children awoke, they were heard saying to each other, Come, let us go out and see if well get some sugar on the trees. One woman asked to be shown the trees from which it was obtained. When this was done, she picked off some of the bark with her fingers and commenced chewing it, expecting to enjoy the saccharine juice. After they had learned how it was made, one man, as the season for sugar making advanced, finding the supply of sap beginning to fail, fastened a strong withe round a tree, under which he drove a wedge tightly, determined to squeeze out of it the last drop of juice.
Yet these men, in this and other places, surmounted the difficulties of settlement, and became independent in their circumstances.
Others of the Dunoon passengers settled in various parts of the county. Archibald McKay and Donald Cameron, from near Inverness, settled on Frasers Mountain. Three other settlers, however, were there before them, Donald McKay (Squires son ), who was the first, William Fraser (surveyor) and Charles Brown.
A number of these who came this year, occupied the upper part of the East Branch East River. Among these were Donald Kennedy, Robert McIntosh, James Chisholm (blacksmith), John McDonald, Duncan McDonald, Archibald Campbell, John McDonald, John Thompson, Alexander Thompson, and John Grant, the most of them from Glen Urquhart, and in the years immediately following, they were joined by others. Some years after, Duncan McDonald , then an old man, was lost in the woods, with his grandson. The latter followed the county line, and, after three days traveling without food, came out upon the settlement. The old man took a different course, and after a search by the inhabitants, was found dead, after five days absence.
In the year 1802, came William Cummings, from near Inverness in the following year settled on what is called the Blanchard Road, and commenced the Blanchard settlement. This road was originally cut out by Colonel Blanchard of Truro, to reach a large grant of his at Lochaber, in the county of Antigonish.
In the year 1801, and in others about the same period, Captain Lowden also brought out a number of persons from the south of Scotland. Some of these came to work at his vessels, but others as settlers. Among these may be mentioned Robert Bone, George Reid, afterward of Green Hill, James Gordon and Samuel Wilson.
James Gordon was a cartwright, who is worthy of notice as having made the first fanners ever in use in Pictou. They were built in the year 1803 for Captain Lowden, who had brought out the irons from Scotland. As they were the only set in the place, they were carried about over a circuit of ten miles, but they have continued to do duty to the present day, and may be seen in the possession of the Captains grandsons at the Beaches. We tried them in November, 1876, and found them likely to do good work for years, if not to wear out another generation of their degenerate successors.
The year 1802 witnessed the arrival of a large number of emigrants. In the month of August, 370 landed, natives of the Island of Barra, and all Roman Catholics. As they had been accustomed to the fisheries, Governor Wentworth located them for a time on Pictou Island, and the shores adjacent, but they all moved away eastward to Antigonish or Cape Breton. A number of Protestants also arrived, who settled in various places, but we are not informed of any settlement formed by them.
One who arrived in this year thus describes the state of the town of that period. North of Front stree and east of Coleraine street, down to Alpin Grants, was covered with good hardwood, and people cut their firewood there. The farthest east house in the town was Mr. Pagans, already mentioned. There was Lowdens salt house on the east side of Coleraine street. On the latter Dunn had his tavern, back of where the Royal Oak stood. Thomas Fraser, carpenter, had a house where St. Andrews Church stands, and a ship carpenter named Young had a small log house opposite. Folllowing Water street westwardly, Joseph Begg had a log house on the site of his stone building, lately taken down. Then John Dawson had his house, store and wharf, in rear of what is now the Taylor House. On the site of Messrs. Yorstons store, Captain Lowden had his dwelling and store in one building. On George Street was McGeorges tavern. On the site of the property lately owned by John Proudfoot. On Yorstons Wharf was John Pattersons store, still standing, and John McKays blacksmith shop. On the site of the drug store of James D.B. Fraser & Son, was the jail. William Lyndsay kept a tavern on the site of what has since been Mrs. Camerons Inn. In front of this was the open shore, the tide coming up to the opposite side of the road, and sometimes over it.* To the end of this to the east , J. Connell had a small log house. Thomas Harris (sheriff) had a small house on the lane back of the establishment of the late Peter Brown. Then Helier Houkuard had a red house, near where the late H. Hatton, Esq., resided. He was a Guernsey man, who went out fishing in summer in his schooner, which was then the only vessel owned in Pictou. He had a wharf near the site of where the post office now is, with a small fish house upon it. Here sometimes small vessels were built. Westward Copeland had a barn where the market house now is, in one end of which S.L. Newcomb was teaching school. Beyond was a fine hayfield. The only building to the west was Copelands house and store on the same site, and indeed partly the same building as occupied by John Crerer, Esq. He had a wharf, where Dr. Johnstons now is, and a small one about where the property of the late James Dawson was. Farther back John Patterson had erected his house and made a small clearing on the top of his hill, near where his grandson, A.J. Patterson, resides. The hill was then so steep, that on certain parts of it, he was obliged to make steps. On the north side of Church Street, then called Queen street, at the corner of George Street, he had erected what was usually known as the Old Barracks. It consisted of a range of small dwellings united. It had three doors with a tenement on each side, making six in all.
* [As late as the year 1820, there were stones placed along Water street near Meaghers Slip, to enable passengers to pass dry shod at high water. When the tide was in, it formed a pond to the north of the street.]
In the year 1803, it was stated that there were 5000 inhabitants in Pictou, and that 1000 more were expected that season. On the 6th August , the Lieut. Governor wrote that 845 had arrived. Of the immigration of this year the voyage of one vessel was long remembered. She was called the Favourite, of Kirkcaldy, and was commanded by a Capt. Ballantyne. She sailed from Ullapoll, without a clearance, and arrived in Pictou on the 3rd August, having made the passage in five weeks and three days, being regarded then and for some time after as the quickest ever made. She had 500 passengers on board, and landed one more than she took on board, one birth and no death having taken place on the voyage. But almost immediately after the passengers goods had landed, she sank in the harbour. Such a strange occurrence might well excite enquiry as to the cause, and as we have received, from a most reliable and worthy old man, who when young was a passenger on board, a veritable account of the whole particulars, we shall give them as we have received them. It appears that shortly before the vessel left, one man who came in her was out one evening looking after his cows, when he saw a little creature like a rabbit going round to them, and sucking the milk from them. He immediately took his gun, and tried to shoot it, but found it impossible to do so. Suspecting the cause, he put a silver six pence into the gun, and again fired, when the creature limped of, leaving traces of blood in its track. The next day he made enquiries, if there were any person in the parish hurt, and sure enough found, that one old woman was confined to the house, by some injury she had received. He called at her residence, but could not see her. On his engaging his passage in the Favourite, she was heard to declare, that with him on board the vessel would never reach America. In consequence of this, the passengers applied to the authorities to have her confined, until the vessel should arrive. As we have seen, she had a remarkably quick passage, and when on the banks of Newfoundland, they spoke a vessel homeward-bound. On the arrival of the latter, the captain said that they might let her go, as the Favourite was doubtless safe in Pictou by that time. They did so, but my readers may judge, just soon enough.
But this is a sceptical age. The tendency now is to attribute all such events to natural causes. Hence on conversing with an elderly lady in my congregation, who had been a passenger on board, and asking her how the vessel happened to sink, she said, Oh, they took the ballast out of her, as if that would account for such an event. We wish that every reader who thinks it would, had seen the indignation, with which our first informant reproved the incredulity of one, who doubted the possession of such supernatural powers. What, dont you believe your Bible?*
* [He was kind enough to say for our comfort, that there were no witches in America. This however, is by no means admitted by others.]
There was not then a settler on the Four or Six mile Brook, except James Barrie, a native of Perthshire, who had settled there only the year before, where the mills are. The most of that section of the county was now occupied by these immigrants. In the following year they commenced operations. In that year Alexander McKenzie made the first clearing on the Four Mile Brook. There was then no settler above John Rogers place, now Alex. McLellans. He was joined by Donald McKenzie, Murdoch Innis and others. On the Six Mile Brook, McBeath, who afterward removed to New Brunswick, Murdoch Sutherland, William Gunn, Donald Sutherland and George Sutherland settled about the same time, and on the Eight Mile Brook, Hugh Sutherland, Murdoch Munroe and Alexander Graham, besides others whose names we have not received. About the same time arrived William Munroe and Hugh McPherson, who had served in Lord Reays Fencibles. *
* [ As this regiment yielded so many settlers to Pictou, we may mention, that it was raised in that portion of Sutherlandshire, known as Lord Reays country, and embodied in the year 1795. They were soon after sent to Ireland, where they saw some hard scenes during the rebellion. Stewart, in his History of the Highland regiments, says: Such was their good conduct, that Lord Lake had his own guard formed of them, to whom he became so much attached, that he seldom passed any guard or post, without alighting from his horse, going among them and holding conversation with them. At the defeat of Castlebar, he frequently exclaimed, If I had my brave and honest Reays here, this would not have happened. At Tara Hill on the 26th May, 1798, three companies of the Reays, under a spirited and judicious veteran, Captain Hector McLean, supported by two troops of yoemanry, drove back and scattered a body of rebels, who were in great force on this strong and elevated position. So conciliatory was their conduct, that they were quartered, the inhabitants were quiet and apparently less disaffected than elsewhere. They were disbanded in 1802.]
A number of those who arrived this year settled at Rogers Hill. There was not till that time, a settler between McCaras place and River John. But we have failed to obtain any particulars of interest.
Of those who came this year, however, a number were from the parish of Lairg in Sutherlandshire, who took up land farther up the Middle River, and formed a new settlement which they called New Laing, after the name of their native parish. Among these were Angus McLeod and John McLeod, and perhaps some others, who settled there soon after arrival. The same year, or about that time, arrived Donald Murray, Hugh Murray, John Murray, John McKay and John McKenzie, who had served in Lord Reays Fencibles in the suppression of the insurrection of Ireland, who settled around them. In subsequent years, others took up land till they got so far on the way to Stewiacke that the soil became poor, and a number of them abandoned it.
On the 4th of July the same year arrived the brig Alexander, of Stornoway, owned by a Mr. McIvor of that place, with passengers mostly from the Lewis. The captain died on the passage, and the owner, who was on board, took sick, when the vessel was taken charge of by Mr. David McGregor, father of John McGregor, afterward M. P. for Glasgow, and Secretary to the Board of Trade, but then a child. The vessel returned the following year with another cargo of passengers from the same place. They were encamped for a time in the woods to the north of Front St., but the majority of them moved to the Gulf shore of Wallace, where they commenced a settlement, but a number settled in different parts of this county.
The first settlement on the back shore was made about the year 1803, between Toney River and Cape John, by George McIvor and Allan Munroe, Highlanders from the Island of Lewis, the former of whom afterward removed to Cape Breton. About the same year, Norman McLeod settled on Toney River, where he was the first settler, who afterward moved further along the shore, and Donald McLeod, both of them from the same island. About the same time Roderick McDonald and Alexander McDonald settled on the shore, the former of whom , however, afterward removed to Wallace. In the year 1810, John Stromberg, a Swede, settled farther toward the cape, and a man named Smith, on what is now Skinners farm, about the same time.
This section of the country was distinguished by its splendid pine. One of the first settlers on Carriboo River loaded three vessels from his own land with white pine timber. About the year 1810, James Mills, a gentleman from England , erected large mills on Toney River, and vessels loaded at its entrance for Great Britain. But no part of the county exhibited such an extent of superior pitch pine. In some places, nothing could be seen but its peculiar foliage. Trees rose clear of limbs to a considerable height, and, though never equaling in size some other wood, yet were large compared with anything now to be seen. The writers father has told of getting into a grove of this kind, where every tree squared fourteen inches clear of sap, which, however, in no case exceeded an inch in thickness.
From Rogers Hill settlement was gradually creeping westward. James Fitzpatrick, a native of the North of Ireland, settled on the hill, which has since received the name Fitzpatricks Mountain, which presents one of the finest prospects in the Province, embracing the whole country between it and the shore, and the coast from Pictou to River John, with the Straits of Northumberland and Prince Edward Island . Andrew McCara, Esq., settled further out on the farm now occupied by Duncan McLeod, as early as the year 1800. He was a Lowland Scotchman, who had received a collegiate education being a fellow student of Dr. McGregor. He had emigrated to Philadelphia, whence he was driven out by one of those terrible visitations of yellow fever , which then sometimes desolated American cities as far north as New York. Many persons wondered that a man of his education, should have contented himself with his situation in the woods at Rogers Hill. On one occasion he was visited by some old friends from Philadelphia, who used all their influence to induce him to return. On their representing the advantages enjoyed there, he replied. Yes, but youve got the yellow fever there. They went on to state this and the other point of superiority of Pennsylvania, and this and the other disadvantage of Nova Scotia, but to each argument of the kind, the old man had but the one reply, Yes, but youve got the yellow fever there.
At length land was taken up on the West Branch River John, the first settler being Rod. McKenzie, who made the first smoke there in the year 1805. His son Murdoch erected the first mill there. When the Philadelphia Companys grant was escheated, Dr. Harris having died previously, Government agreed to give each of his children a certain amount of crown land wherever they might select. One daughter, married to John Moore of Truro, received her portion on the West Branch River John, and settled there in the year 1812. A year later they were joined by Thomas McKay from Rogart in Sutherlandshire, and two years later by Donald and William Murray from the same parish, and Henry Marshall, originally from Germany. Of this settlement we may say here, that the first schoolhouse was erected in the year 1825, that the first preaching was by the Rev. Hugh McLeod, of Saltsprings, but the first minister, who supplied them regularly, was the Rev. William Sutherland of Earltown. The first church was built in the year 1837, being the same occupied at present.
A number of those who immigrated at this time, settled in Carriboo, on the Cochrane grant. Previous to this, John and Thomas Harris, sons of Matthew, had erected a saw mill on Little Carriboo River, and about this time James erected another on the Big Branch, but, not having secured his title to the land, another party came in before him and obtained a grant of it, so he abandoned it, when he was about ready to commence work. A short time before, Thomas Patterson, son of the Squire, and one of the Rogers, made the first settlement on Carriboo Island, the former on the place afterward purchased by Donald McKenzie, and now occupied by his son Roderick, and the latter on the place since occupied by Hector and John McKenzie. Patterson was drowned in the year 1806, under melancholy circumstances, as thus described by his son, the Rev. R.S. Patterson.
I remember yet my fathers death. I was then between five and six years old. We had been to Pictou, and were returning home to Carriboo Island . My mother had a frightful dream the night before, and refused to go with my father in the boat. He and a sailor went in her. They had a couple of cannons for some vessels, of which there were a number in Carriboo harbour at this time. It was war time. And merchant vessels took some guns to defend themselves against privateers. My mother and I, with a servant girl, who assisted to carry my youngest brother, David, who was then an infant, walked through the woods over the peninsula, and crossed to the island in a flat. On arriving at home, we saw the boat in which my father and the sailor were, coming up the harbour. A few moments after we looked, and no boat was to be seen. Search was made, but she was not found for some time. The body of the sailor was found about nine days after, and it was ascertained, that the boat had upset and sunk. Her masts were seen at low water.
The new comers occupied the Cochrane Grant, without title, and after they had surmounted the first difficulties, Cochrane made an attempt to dispossess them. He employed several of the ablest lawyers in the Province. Finding the title defective, he, doubtless under legal advice, went round among the settlers with a lawyer, kindly offering them leases, which, through the Oily Gammon powers of persuasion of the latter, some were induced to accept. The causes came on for trial at the Supreme Court, when the late Judge Wilkins, who presided, scouted Governor Pattersons title, ridiculed the horse and saddle transfer, and denounced the lawyers conduct, in deceiving ignorant people into acknowledging Cochranes title by taking leases from him. This led to a furious altercation between the judge and the plaintiffs attorney, the late J.W. Johnston. So angry did each become, and so violent was their language, that the audience looked on in amazement, some almost in terror, and that night it was fully expected, that the affair would end in a duel between the lawyer and a friend of the judge on his behalf. The course of the judge produced somewhat of a sensation, and excited the indignation of parties in Halifax, who threatened to take measures for his dismissal, but the lawyer was obliged to apologize. The result of the case, however, was that a number of the settlers compromised by paying Cochrane a small sum, but others firmly resisted all his claims, and their heirs or assigns hold the land undisturbed to this day.
We may mention here that the usual place of burial for the people of this settlement is at a point inside the Beaches, known as Burying Ground Point. Some suppose it to have been a French cemetery, but others connect the commencement of it with a solitary man, usually known as Martin Day, who lived there. No person knew whence he came or anything about him. He had but little intercourse with any person, and few desired intercourse with him. Indeed, he was generally supposed to have been an old pirate. Finally he was found dead in his house, and his body was buried near.
In the year 1805, a vessel arrived with passengers from Gairloch in Ross-shire. Three of them, Philip McDonald, Alex. McKenzie and Donald McPherson, took up land on what they called Gairloch Brook, after their native parish, and commenced the settlement of Gairloch. About the same time David Ferguson settled there.
We may mention that among the immigrants of these years were some then young, who have since occupied a prominent place in the affairs of the county. Among these may be named, the Hon. John Holmes, who came, a lad of thirteen, in 1803, the Hon. James Fraser, who came, a child, in 1804, and John McKay, Esq., stipendiary magistrate of New Glasgow, who came, a boy of twelve, in 1805.
For some years later Pictou continued to be the Point Dappui for vessels with Scottish emigrants to the shores of the Gulf, but now the most desirable localities in the county being occupied, and the rich lands of other counties, particularly of Cape Breton, attracting attention, a large proportion of those who landed here found their way thither, or to Prince Edward Island, or even New Brunswick.
We may here observe that the business of carrying emigrants was at this time often conducted in a very reprehensible manner. McGregor thus describes it:
Men of broken fortune or unprincipled adventurers, were generally the persons who have been engaged in the traffic, long known by the emphatic cognomen of the White slave trade, of transporting emigrants to America. They traveled over the country among the labouring classes, allured them by flattering, and commonly false accounts of the New World, to decide on emigrating, and to pay half of the passage money in advance. A ship of the worst class, ill found with materials, and most uncomfortably accommodated, was chartered to proceed to a certain port, where the passengers embarked. Crowded closely in the hold, the provisions and water indifferent, and often unwholesome and scanty, inhaling the foul air generated by filth and dirt, typhus fever was almost inevitably produced, and as is too well-known many of the passengers usually became its victims. *
* [Hist. B.N. America I, 457.]
The results was that the British Parliament was obliged to interfere and passed stringent regulations on the subject. These, however, were often evaded, and some years later, one of the worst cases of the kind occurred in connection with the emigration to Pictou. An individual engaged in the business, induced a number of persons in the Highlands to sell off their cattle and other goods, and give him the money. But when they reached the port, whence they were to sail, no vessel was provided. Their condition was described as heart-rending, and the heartless deceiver was brought before the Sheriff and was sent for a time to taste the sweets of prison life. But a case perhaps even worse than this followed almost immediately after. A number of passengers were shipped in a small vessel from the North of Scotland. Soon after sailing, she met with a storm, in consequence of which she put back to Stromness. By this time they had partially examined their supply of provisions, and now a complete examination took place, with results to fill all honest minds with astonishment and indignation. Casks, labelled bread, were found to have two layers on top, while the center was filled with rotten potatoes, stones, straw and earth, and casks labeled pork had one layer on top and rotten fish below. In fact, had the vessel not put back in time, those on board must have perished. The result was that the owner of the vessel, who, however, was innocent in the matter, having only chartered her, was subjected to a penalty of £800. When the vessel arrived in Pictou, some of the passengers revealed these facts, when the man had the effrontery to prosecute them before the Supreme Court for libel. The facts were clearly proved, and the jury did not take a long time to give a verdict for the defendants. He also prosecuted Robert Patterson, Esq., for taking their deposition, but the jury without leaving the box, threw out the case.