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COUNTY OF PICTOU
In the year 1836, the Act erecting Pictou into a separate county, came into operation. By that Act, it received two representatives for the county and one for the township of Pictou. The first election under the new arrangement took place that season, when by a compromise between parties, George Smith and John Holmes, Esquires, were returned for the former, and after a contest, Henry Hatton, Esquire for the latter. On the remodelling of the Council in 1838, Mr. Smith was elevated to a seat in that body, and Thomas Dickson was elected in his place. At this first county election, Mr. Holmes, first came into public life. From that time till incapacitated by old age, a few months before his death, in 1876, he occupied a prominent place in our county and provincial politics, having been for several years member of the House of Assembly, then a member of the Legislative Council, and, at the adoption of the Confederation Act, one of the first senators from Nova Scotia. His public course was that of an honest, thorough-going true blue Tory. At a very late period of his life, and, we suppose, to the last, he declared his admiration of the Government of the old Council of XII., and his detestation of responsible government. His father having taken the lead in forming a body in connection with the Church of Scotland, he succeeded to his influence, and both in the civil and ecclesiastical movements of the members of that body, wielded the influence of a Highland Chief in the days of clanship.
We append a list of members of the different branches of our Legislature to the present time. (Appendix K.)
The present period presents few events calling for special notice. In the year 1843, the disruption of the Church of Scotland took place, and was followed the next year by a similar division in Nova Scotia. Of the Presbytery of Pictou, in connection with the Church of Scotland, only one minister, the Rev. John Stewart, then of St. Andrews Church , New Glasgow, adhered to the Free Church. Of the rest, all returned to Scotland to occupy the vacant parish churches, with the exception of the Rev. Alex. McGillivray, of McLennans Mount, who, it was said, by accident missed a presentation. Congregations were formed in various parts of the county in connection with the Free Church. That portion of St. Andrews Church, New Glasgow, which adhered to their minister, formed the congregation of the Knox Church, which has since amalgamated with the congregation of Primitive Church in that town. The people of Blue Mountain and the Garden of Eden generally, and a majority of the people of Barneys River, joined the Free Church, and obtained as their first minister the Rev. D.B. Blair, in the year 1848. Congregations were also formed at Pictou, Rogers Hill, West Branch River John, Earltown and Saltsprings. The Rev. Alex. Sutherland, who had been brought up at Rogers Hill, but had completed his studies in Edinburgh, returned from Scotland, and became minister of Earltown and West Branch River John in 1846. Shortly after, the Rev. Murdoch Sutherland became minister of Pictou and Rogers Hill. He was greatly esteemed, but his career was short.
The large majority of the adherents of the Church of Scotland remained in their old connexion, and for ten years received very little ministerial service. The folly of depending on Scotland for ministers, was now apparent, and, as the body was not in a position to educate young men in this country, they sent a number of promising natives to be educated in Scotland, and from their return, the revival of that body may be dated. The first of these were the Revds. Alex. McLean, Alex. McKay, George M. Grant, William McMillan, Simon McGregor and John Cameron, all natives of Pictou.
In the year 1867, just one hundred years after the arrival of the first settlers, the railroad from Halifax to Pictou was completed. It had been for some time open to Truro, and this had somewhat changed the trade, especially of the rural districts of the county, large quantities of agricultural produce being sent over land to Halifax, thus making improved markets for our farmers. The effect of the completion of it, by the increased facilities which it affords for communication with the rest of the continent, it is unnecessary to point out.
We shall now briefly review the various branches of business in the county during this period.
At the commencement of the period, ship building was carried on with considerable activity, and so continued for a time, so that in one year, forty vessels were registered as built in Pictou, and its outports, including Tatamagouche. But these were, with scarce an exception, built to sell, and under the ruinous system described in our last chapter. The result was that about the year 1841, the leading ship-builders, and a number who were engaged in it on a smaller scale, became bankrupt..
Since that time a new system has been pursued. Persons build vessels to own and sail them, and the business has proved highly profitable, and, until the present depression, was rapidly progressive. Nearly every trader in Pictou, new Glasgow and the outports, as well as many tradesmen, have at least shares in ships, and a large fleet of vessels of superior character, is now owned in this county and is found in the carrying trade of the world.
The following is a statement of the vessels registered at Pictou:
This however does not represent the whole tonnage of the Port, several vessels partially or entirely owned here being registered elsewhere. The County of Pictou for example, one of our largest traders and entirely owned in the county, being registered at New Glasgow.
Another change in the system of shipbuilding must be noticed. Building vessels for sale was simply building vessels of inferior quality. So much was this the case, that our colonial built vessels got a bad reputation, from which they have scarcely yet recovered, and of all colonial vessels, those of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were the lowest in the scale. There were other evils connected with the system, not the least of which was the frauds connected with insurance. To hear of one of these vessels, perhaps, on her first voyage being wrecked, often gave its owners pleasure, which he scarcely affected to conceal.
With the building of vessels for the use of the owners, commenced an era of improvement in the quality of the vessels built, so that now the character of our vessels will compare with those either of the other Provinces, or of any portion of the world.
In this good work, Captain George McKenzie, of New Glasgow, deserves special mention. If Captain Lowden was the father of the old ship building trade in Pictou, Captain McKenzie was the father of the modern system, and though we did not intend particularly to refer to the living, or to those who, though departed, belong to the present period, yet we think the position he held in reference to this important part of the business of Pictou, as well as the character of the man himself, entitles him to a full notice.
He was born in Halifax, in December, 1798. His father died in 1802, and his mother removed with her five children to Fishers Grant in the same year. When he grew up to youthful manhood, he turned his attention to shipping and ship building, for which he appeared to have a natural talent. In 1821, he and John Reid, of Little Harbor, built a schooner of 45 tons at Boat Harbor, in which he shortly afterwards took a trip to the West Indies. She was called the James William. The two men hewed the timber, took it from the woods, and did all the work of building themselves. An event happened when he was about nineteen year of age, which had the effect of bringing him into prominence among ship builders. A vessel built at some point near the Beaches was being launched, when she stuck. Those engaged about her spent a great deal of labour, used all the mechanical appliances at their command, and exhausted their ingenuity in efforts to get her off, and finally gave up the work in despair, and from her position, it was feared that she would break up before spring, when George McKenzie volunteered to get her off and succeeded in doing so at the next tide. From that time he was a marked man. In 1824 he went with Robert McKay, of Pictou, to superintend work in his yard and continued with him about three years. In superintending the launching of a vessel for Mr. McKay at River John, he had the misfortune to get one of his thighs broken. He then sailed for some time as master, both to the West Indies and to Britain. In the year 1829, we find him in command of a brig called the Two Sisters, owned by his brother-in-law, James Carmichael, Esq., and his brother John, then doing business in partnership. In her he went up to Glasgow, and she was then noticed as the largest vessel, that up to that date had gone so far up the Clyde. On her return, it was noticed in the Pictou paper, as something good, that she had made the round trip in twelve weeks. He then settled down in business in New Glasgow, where he first built a schooner of 100 tons, and then a trader for Almon, of Halifax. The Sally, a barque of 350 tons, one-half being owned by Henry Hatton, of Pictou, was his next venture. From this he advanced to building vessels of 600 tons, and then to others of 800, which were thought wonders for a time, but not content with this, he soon was building still larger. In 1850 he launched the Hamilton Campbell Kidston of 1,400 tons. In launching her, the launch ways spread, and her stern took the mud, when half way down the launchways. The spectators beheld the accident with dismay, women wept, but the captain was as calm as a summer eve. He quietly walked round her as if nothing had happened, and then told his men to go home and return at such an hour, as they could do nothing till the tide changed. At the appointed time he set them to work, and in a short time had her safely afloat . Considering the position of the vessel, the shallowness of the water, and the appliances available, this was almost as great a feat as the launching of the Great Eastern. When she arrived in Glasgow, her appearance there created quite a sensation, she being the largest vessel that up to that time had sailed up the Clyde. In 1854 he built the "Sebastopol" and the Magna Charta, the latter attracting great attention as the largest vessel built in the Province. Others of his vessels were well known, as the Sesostris, the Catherine Glen, the John McKenzie and the George. The County of Pictou, built in 1865, was the largest vessel built by him. She is still afloat, and has been remarkably successful.
So well was he known in old Glasgow, that a number of gentlemen , connected with the trade of that port, presented him with a service of plate as a token of their esteem.
Captain McKenzie was one of the first to see the evils of the old system of building vessels to sell. And, although from his character as a ship-builder, he obtained contracts for building at remunerative rates, he gave particular attention to running his vessels, some of which as the Sesostris and the John McKenzie were well known, and thus led the way in the formation of that large carrying trade, which forms such an important part of the industries of that county.
We believe too that it will be universally conceded, that Captain McKenzie took the lead in building vessels of a superior class, and that largely to him is owing the vast improvement in the character of our ships, of which now we have no reason to be ashamed, comparing them with those either of other Provinces or of any portion of the world.
During a period of forty years, Capt. McKenzie went to sea more or less, and in this he soon developed his character. As a commander, he was daring, clear headed, calm even under the most difficult circumstances, prompt in deciding upon his plans, and energetic in having them executed. When he commenced going to sea it was the ordinary practice to carry only a moderate amount of canvas and to take in sail at night, if the wind was any wise fresh, so as not to have to rouse the men during the night to lessen sail, should it blow harder, and if there was any appearance of a blow, even the upper yards were lowered. Capt. McKenzie soon pursued a different course. He availed himself of all the sail his vessel could carry, and thought not of lowering his yards or taking in sail, because night was coming on. Doubtless by this time, others were adopting the same system, but at first it appeared so strange to safe going old fogies, that some times they thought him mad. Though commanding vessels of all sizes from the coasting schooner to the 1400 ton ship, and in all latitudes, and that for the period of about forty years, he was only wrecked once, and then lost but one man. What is however perhaps more worthy of notice was, that in all that time he never lost a man overboard . Once indeed when in Harbour, (at Savannah Harbour we believe) a man fell overboard. The Captain, though he could not swim himself, jumped overboard after him, which induced others to follow his example, and they were both saved. But at sea, in taking in sail, or any of the other ways in which this accident occurs, he never lost a man, and as he heard of such cases, he could not avoid giving expressions to feeling of mingled disgust and indignation, as he could only regard them as resulting from bad management.
Much of his energy he infused into those around him. Full of patriotism, he was not only anxious to advance the welfare of the Province, but it was his delight to bring forward Nova Scotians, and particularly young Pictonions to command his ships or to fill stations of usefulness. The sons of the farmers or the widow, in his hands were soon in command of his big ships, and proved successful commanders, ever speaking of him with affection.
His manner in command was slightly brusque and imperative, but no man was ever more distinguished by the spirit of kindness and readiness to help others. In fact he was too open handed, too free in buying, too ready in distributing, to have been a thorough going money making man. In consequence of this, as well as from heavy losses experienced at different times, while always having a competence, he did better for others than for himself, and many a one has reason to remember his seasonable help. He died in the winter of 1876.
At the commencement of this period, there was still an export of deals and battens, which continued for a few years, but now not only is pine imported, but there is not enough of spruce lumber produced, for the consumption of the county, and a considerable quantity, especially in the form of flooring, is annually imported. The sawmills, of which by the census there are 78, are employed principally in sawing hemlock into boards and shingles, with a little spruce and some hardwood planks. The only article of wood now exported is squared birch timber, and as a great part of the southern portion of the county is still covered with forest, on a soil of which a large amount is unfit for cultivation, this trade may continue for some time, and at all events there is here a perennial source of supply of hardwood to meet the ordinary purposes of our own population.
The failure of the timber trade, as well as other circumstances, has led to greater attention to their farms, on the part of our rural population. The farming is not any where yet of a high order, but it is very different from what it was forty years ago. There is every where attention to improved modes of culture, and the introduction of better stock. Machinery is being generally used. There was not at the beginning of this period a threshing machine in the county. My father introduced one about the year 1840. It was literally a one horse power, on a tread-mill principle. There was not another at that time in the county.* Now these are universally in use, as well as mowing machines and other improved implements. At the same time the markets have been so favourable for farm produce that, notwithstanding the failure of the potato crop, and the very general destruction of the wheat crop for some years by the wheat midge, in nothing has the county been more distinguished during this period than by the progress, which the farming population have made in comfort and independence. At the beginning of this period, there were few farmers, who were not in the merchants books, generally for considerable amounts. The credit system was still almost universal. The farmer was thought to do well, and was reckoned a good customer, who in the fall brought a sufficient amount of pork and other produce to reduce his account to a moderate figure. But now this mode of trading has largely passed away. Farmers now generally sell their produce for cash, or exchange it for necessaries at the store, and can generally do so at prices, at which they would once have thought themselves set up altogether.
* [Mr. Donald McLeod, of West River, erected one some years before on a small stream on his farm. The power did very well, but the threshing part did not succeed.]
Their improved circumstances appear in their dress, their dwellings, and the conveniences by which they are surrounded. At the beginning of this period milled cloth was but little used, and while the better class of farmers had at least a Sunday dress of English cloth, the large majority were clad in homespun, undressed and dyed at home. We need not describe the change produced by the general use of fulled cloth. The younger generation will scarcely remember the old blue-dye coats, so characteristic of many parts of the country, and occasionally so odoriferous under a summer shower; and we can scarcely tell the time when we have seen a countryman come to town with his feet encased in raw hide moccasins.
At the beginning of this period, there were a few old-fashioned chaises, but these only among the better class of farmers in the older settlements. In the new they were almost unknown, and the roads were scarcely fit for them to traverse. Hence we might see a countryman come to town with a conveyance, which we shall not attempt to describe, his horse garnished with a straw collar, a straw saddle, all kept in place by hair ropes. Now it is a poor farmer who cannot drive his pair well harnessed at farm work, or who does not own a comfortable carriage for riding to church on Sabbath, or for travel on week days. By the census, it exceeded every other county in the Province in the number of light carriages and vehicles for transport, the number of the former being 4,596, of the latter 7,246.
This improvement has been most apparent in the newer settlements. In these the people then generally lived in log houses with few conveniences, but now, largely through their greater economy, and partly through their being on good soil, they are as independent in their circumstances as the people of any part of the country.
Farming is still the leading industry of the county, the number engaged in it according to the census of 1871, being more than equal to the number employed in all other lines of business. Thus we find that 5154 are classed as agricultural, while the rest are classed as follows:
Of these 488 were miners, 369 carpenters, 298 mariners, 257 blacksmiths,202 shipbuilders, 172 teachers, 105 tailors, 37 foundrymen, 34 clergymen, and 5 booksellers, there being 20 in Halifax, and only 11 in all the rest of the Province, eight counties having none.
We may here give a statement of its agricultural products as compared with other counties. By the census of 1871 there were produced the previous year as follows:
In wheat and oats, it largely exceeded any other county, Cumberland coming next to it in the former, with 47,395, and Inverness in the latter, with 276,330. In other grain, it was exceeded by Lunenburg, which while only raising 2, 661 bushels of wheat, and 22,447 of oats, produced 67,957 of barley and 13,109 of rye, by Cumberland, which produced 64,023 of buckwheat, and Colchester, which produced 43,995 of the same grain and 18,294 of barley. In potatoes and hay, it was exceeded by Kings, Annapolis, Cumberland and Colcheser. In the production of butter, it exceeded every other county, the amount being 804,661 llbs., Colchester next with 625,026. In cheese it was exceeded by Kings, Annapolis, Antigonish and Inverness, though it is probable that the proportions will have since been altered, as four cheese factories have been erected in the county, one at West River, one at Gairloch, one at River John and one at Barneys River. In cloth, it largely excels every other county, the amount being 183,008 yards, Inverness coming next with 138,996.
The following is a statement of farm stock owned in the county:
In horses and milch cows it ranks first, Colchester coming next in the former, and Inverness in the latter. In other horned cattle and sheep, it was slightly exceeded by Inverness, and in swine by Kings, Inverness and Antigonish.
Altogether we may set down Pictou as the first agricultural county in the Province, the only one which can compete with it being Kings. In fruit growing, however, it is seventh, being exceeded by Kings, Annapolis, Lunenburg, Digby, Hants, and Cumberland.
In manufactures, the only one in which as a county we can take credit for great progress, is tanning leather. We had tanners from an early period, but the business has been so developed during this period, that now Pictou manufactures almost as much leather, as the other seventeen counties of the Province put together. We give the figures: --
Fair progress has been made in woolen manufactures. The first application of any but hand power to this, was by the erection of a carding machine at Middle River by a Mr. Humphrey, of New Brunswick, in a mill owned by the late Isaac Archibald, about the year 1822. The year after it was erected, Mr. Archibald bought it and carried on the business himself. The first fulling mill was established three or four years after, by James Farnham, of Truro, and Edward and Stillman Lippencott, under the name of Lippencott, Farnham & Co., at what is now Roddicks Mill, below Durham, then owned by the Rev. Duncan Ross and George McDonald. They carried on dyeing in connection with it. But they had only the privilege of the waste water, and, after a time, finding that insufficient for their purposes, they, in the year 1829, removed to the Six Mile Brook, and set up a mill, where F, Miller & Co.s establishment is now, at which place the business of cloth dressing has ever since been conducted. The first spinning machine and power loom were set up by Mr. James Grant, near Springville. There are now, besides carding machines and fulling mills, four other establishments, where the whole business of manufacturing cloth from the wool is carried on, Messrs. George Kerr & Sons, Middle River; Messrs. Frasers, Rocklin, Middle River; Messrs. McDonalds, Hopewell, and Messrs. F. Miller & Co.s, Six Mile Brook. These are mainly driven by water, but some of them have steam as auxiliary.
Manufactures of wooden ware are yet in their infancy. John Fraser, of Green Hill has a rake factory, and Messrs. Nute Bros., Messrs. Cummings Bros., both of New Glasgow, have established factories, driven by steam, for the production of furniture, and Messrs. Samuel Archibald & Co. have an establishment for the manufacture of rakes and other implements, and also of furniture, at Watervale, West River. The first successful application of steam to mills in the county was at the Clarence Mills, Pictou, established by James Primrose, Esquire. It was employed in driving a grist mill, a carding machine, and in sawing, planing, and other work in wood.
In the manufacture of iron, besides the Albion Mines Foundry, previously established, three others are now in successful operation, Messrs. Davies, in Pictou, Messrs. Frasers and the Acadia Foundry, in New Glasgow; and the Nova Scotia Forge Company by the application of steam power, is doing a large business in the production of wrought iron for various purposes, and Mr. Conolly at Middle River has a small axe factory, which has produced implements of the finest quality.
Little is done in developing the beautiful free stone so abundant in the county. There was at the time of the census only one establishment for the manufacture of grindstones, Mr. Robert McNeils, at Quarry Island, Merigomish, the products of which was valued at $4,500. Some stone is quarried for buildings, and, particularly at Eight Mile Brook, some is taken out for monuments and other work requiring a fine polish.
Though we deem the manufacturing interest in Pictou small, compared with what it might be, yet it is larger than that of any county in the Province, except Halifax, which includes the city. By the census, the value of the products of all its industrial establishments was $1,273,018, while that of Hants, which came next, was only $836,503.
The period we have been considering has been marked by a large emigration from the county, the majority of the young of both sexes in the rural districts, going abroad as they reach maturity. In the year 1848 or 49, a number were attracted to Australia, who were generally unsuccessful. Since that time, California has been the great attraction for young men, and service in the New England towns for young women. But our Pictou boys are to be found in every part of the world. Some, under the law, by which not only prophets, but other good men, are not without honour save in their own country, reaching the upper rungs of the ladder, the majority by industry attaining a competence, which they might have done at home, and many, alas, making shipwreck of earthy prospects, and even of conscience and a good name.
We add a statement of the population at different periods:
Census of 1817 . 6,737
We think, however, that there was manifestly an imperfection on the first return __________, that with the immigration of previous years, the population must have been greater, and that with the state of business from 1817 to 1827, there could not have been such an increase in that period as indicated by the census. Such was the progress, that at the time of that census, it was only exceeded in population by Halifax and Annapolis, which, however, then included Digby, and ever since it has been the largest in population of the rural counties.
We have had occasion in the course of our history, to refer particularly to the Presbyterian Church and Presbyterian ministers. This has not been from any denominational prejudice, but simply because they have been so closely connected with the past progress of the county, that a history of Pictou without reference to them, would be like the play Hamlet, with the part of Hamlet omitted. It is proper, however, to give some notice of the early history of the other Churches in the county.
Among the 82nd men were several Roman Catholics, who settled in Merigomish, and, as we have seen, in the years 1791 and 1802, a large number of Scotch Catholics arrived, who settled along the Gulf shore, part of them in this county, and part of them in Antigonish. They received their first church service from the Rev. Mr. Jones, of Halifax, who performed a mission among them, but the first resident priest was the Rev. James McDonald, who lived at the Gulf, but ministered on both sides of the county line. We do not know the date of his arrival, but he was here as early as 1793. He offended his people by advising them to attend Dr. McGregors preaching, and otherwise showing disrespect for his own Church, so that he was obliged to take refuge from their wrath in Walter Murrays house. They then gave out that he was crazy, and he was sent up to Quebec to a monastery, from which he never returned.
He was succeeded by the Rev. Alexander McDonald, who settled at Arisaig about 1800, and officiated among the same people from that time till his death. Through the influence of Mortimer, he was made a magistrate. He died in Halifax on 15th April, 1816, in the 62nd year of age, and his people carried his remains through the woods all the way to Arisaig. In 1810, the first regular church was erected at Arisaig, though they had a place of meeting previously.
He was succeeded by the Rev. Colin Grant. In the year 1834, the church at Baillies Brook was erected, and in the year 1869, that settlement was formed into a separate parish, with the Rev. Simon McGregor, D.D., as their first priest.
The chapel in town was commenced in the year 1823, when the frame was erected, without, however, any rafters. It stood on the west side of Chapel Street. The next year the rafters were put on, but in a gale soon after were blown down. The most zealous Catholic in town at that time was an Irishman, named Thomas Jones, who kept a grog shop. About forty pounds were now collected, principally among Protestants, to aid them in finishing the building. But Jones having got the amount into his hands, withdrew the light of his countenance from Pictou altogether, and departed to some more congenial region. From this, together with the smallness of their numbers, and their humble circumstances, their church long remained unfinished.
The first priest stationed in Pictou was the Rev. Mr.Boland, who arrived in town in the autumn of the year 1828.
The present church at Merigomish was built in the year 1865, but they had a small one for many years previous.
The few Episcopalians among the early settlers in Pictou generally fell in with the Presbyterian ministers. Their first organization was owing principally to the late Dr. Johnston and Robert Hatton, Senr. The latter was a lawyer, a native of Dublin, who came to Pictou with his family in the year 1813. Through his influence, Col. Cochrane had presented the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, with the lot on which the church now stands, then valued at £150. He himself put up the frame in the year 1824. About three years after the church was finished, mainly through the exertions of his son, Henry, and consecrated on the 16th April, 1829, by Bishop Inglis. In the year 1847, it was lengthened by an addition of seventeen feet and a new spire was erected. A transept was added in 1866. In the year 1832, Pictou District was erected into a parish under the name of St. James by order of the Governor in Council on the petition of the clergyman, church wardens and vestry.
Among the first clergymen who visited them, was the Rev. Dr. Gray, then of Sackville, we believe. He was here in 1814, as we learn from a marriage celebrated by him in that year. Previous to 1830, they were visited by the Rev. W.B. King, then teacher in Windsor College, during vacations, and by the Rev. Mr. Burnyeat, who visited them two or three times a year, holding service in the old court house.
The Rev. Charles Elliott, who came to this Province in the year 1829, under the appointment of the Society for the propagation of the Gospel, was employed for some time as a travelling missionary, and Pictou was included in his district. In the year 1832, however, he finally settled here. He was a B.A. of St. Edmunds Hall, Oxford, was admitted a deacon, in the Chapel Royal of St. James Palace, on the 14th June, 1829, by the Bishop of London. He was ordained a priest in Nova Scotia in St. Johns Church, Cornwallis, by Bishop Inglis, on the 27th June, 1830. He was admitted Rector of St. James Church, Pictou, on the 23rd April, 1834, by the same Bishop, the first church wardens being Henry Hatton and Robert Hockin. The whole county was then his parish, and he preached regularly once a month at the Albion Mines, and also at River John, and visited Wallace, Pugwash and Tatamagouche, and occasionally even Cape Breton. He was a man of amiable disposition and gentle manner, and labouring diligently but quietly in his own calling, he gained the affection of his own church and the respect of the community.
On the 12th July, 1849, a meeting was held at the Albion Mines, at which it was decided to erect a church for public worship, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England. For this purpose, £175 were subscribed by the inhabitants, and £125 given by the General Mining Association. The building was begun soon after, and completed about July, 1851. That district was erected into a separate parish under the name of Christ Church, Albion Mines, by a decree of the Right Reverend Hibbert, Lord Bishop of Nova Scotia, bearing date 24th March, 1852, at or about which time, the Rev. Joseph Forsythe, missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, took charge, W.H. Davies and Henry Poole, Esquires, being the first churchwardens. The church and burial ground were consecrated in the latter part of September of that year.
In the year 1865, the Rev. M. Kaulback was appointed first curate of River John, and in October of that year, Mr. Elliott went to England, where he died at his residence, Falkland House, Painswick, Gloucestershire, on the 27th September, 1871.
The first Baptist Society in the county was organized on the principles of the Scotch Baptists, or Disciples, as they call themselves, who are distinguished from others of the name, by rejecting the office of the ministry, all the members using their gifts for edification, and by the observance of the ordinance of the Lords Supper every Lords day. The society was founded by James Murray, who came to Pictou in 1811, and afterward moved to River John. Here on the 18th June 1815, the day of the Battle of Waterloo, he baptized two persons, and on the same day dispensed the communion. Since that day with the exception of a few very stormy days, they have not failed to meet on the first day of the week to break bread. They now number 40 members, and are the only society of this order on the north coast of the Province.
The first society of the regular Baptists was formed in Merigomish, in the year 1838. Two years previous, the Rev. George Richardson passing through the settlement, preached at Thomas Carmichaels, Barneys River. Mrs. Alex, Meldrum was present, and attributed her conversion to the sermon. On his return, a few months later, she was baptized by him. In the following spring he again came to Barneys River, when her husband, Mr. Peter McEwan and Mrs. Fogan were also baptized. These with Mr. and Mrs. Carmichael, Mr. and Mrs. Crandall, then resident in the settlement, formed the first Baptist Church, Mr. Peter McEwan being ordained deacon. From that time to the present, about 40 have been added to the church, but from deaths and removals, the membership is now only 14. They have a meeting house at Barneys River, commenced in the summer of 1874, but they have never had a settled minister.
The first Wesleyan Methodist Society in the county originated with some dissentients in the congregation of the Rev. Mr. Mitchell, River John. They were organized into a society by the Rev. Mr. Snowball, then on the Wallace Circuit, in the year 1822. Previous to that they had been visited by local preachers, the first of whom was Mr. Andrew Hurley. They built their first church in 1824, and since that time, River John has been one of the regular Methodist circuits.
About the year 1845, a society and congregation was formed at the Albion Mines, by the Rev. Richard Weddall, consisting principally of miners, who had come from England. Wesleyan ministers had previously preached to them. A church and parsonage were subsequently built, and more recently a small church at Westville in connection with the same circuit.
A society has also been formed in Pictou, principally composed of parties who had previously been connected with the Evangelical Union, as they call themselves in Scotland, but usually known as Morrisonians. They had previously been under the pastoral care of the Rev. Alex. McArthur, who adopted the sentiments of Swedenborg. After several changes, they connected themselves with the Wesleyans.
For many years there was in town a small society of Friends, consisting, however, almost entirely of the family of Jas. Kitchin, an Englishman, who kept a watch-makers shop on Water Street. In the case of each watch which he repaired, he placed a paper with the following:Behold, oh, mortal man !
How quick the moments fly;
Our life is ever on the wing,
Prepare, prepare to die. -- James Kitchin.
With this solemn warning of this old worthy, we might appropriately close our work, but we may add a statement of the relative numbers of the different religious bodies in the county at the date of the last census :
Our work is done. It has taken time and trouble. But it has been pleasant, and we trust not unprofitable. Especially do we feel satisfaction, in being the instrument of rendering an act of justice to the sturdy pioneers, who first invaded our forests and prepared homes for us in the wilderness. The present and future generations, in this county, and beyond it, have great reason to be profoundly grateful for the sturdy energy and moral worth of the mass of those, who first peopled our county, as well as for the intelligence and public spirit of those, who were the leaders of society at its formation, and particularly for the high relents and devoted Christian zeal of James McGregor, Duncan Ross and Thomas McCulloch, who first planted the gospel among us, and who moulded the moral and religious, and we may add, largely the intellectual character of our population. It only remains that Pictonians at home and abroad, while thankful to God for what they were, and profiting even by their errors, preserve the noble heritage of steady habits, and sound religious principles, received from them, and transmit the same to the race that is to come.
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