[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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FIRST ENGLISH SETTLEMENT OF PICTOU--1765-1773.
During the war on this continent between the English and French, which resulted in the taking of Louisburg and Quebec, and was terminated by the peace of 1763, the settlement of Nova Scotia engaged considerable attention in the old colonies. About the years 1760 and 1761 a considerable number of persons removed from different parts of New England and settled several townships in the western parts of the Province. So little, however, was known of Pictou at this time, that in a description of "the several towns in the Province, with the lands comprehended in and bordering said towns," drawn up by the Surveyor General in the year 1762, by order of Lieutenant-Governor Belcher, for the information of the Home Government, it is stated that "from Tatamagouche to the Gut of Canso there is no harbour, but a good road under the Isle Poitee (Pictou Island). No inhabitant ever settled in this part of the country, and consequently no kind of improvement."
At the conclusion of the war, a large number of influential persons, not only in the New England States, but in other of the Old Colonies, took up the subject of the colonization of the Province, and it is in this way that Pictou first comes into notice in the early settlement of Nova Scotia. Their views are thus stated in a letter from the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province to the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, dated 30th April, 1765:---
"By the late arrival of several persons from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and some of the neighbouring colonies, we have the prospect of having this Province soon peopled by the accession of many settlers from these parts.
"These persons have come on behalf of several associations of commercial people and others in good circumstances, to view the country and examine what advantages the settlement and cultivation of it may produce. By their accounts the considerable numbers of Germans annually imported in the Colonies from whence they come, has so overstocked the good lands, and those situated within any convenient distance of navigation, that not only many of them have lately been obliged to move into Carolina and Virginia, but that there are also now numbers of useless persons among them. And this is not the only motive they have for making settlements in this country for the merchants in those parts are much at a loss to provide an export in return for the British commodities, and, therefore, have turned their thoughts to this Province for fish and hemp, to produce which, of the best kind and greatest abundance, nothing but a sufficiency of labouring people is wanting, and thus those people being employed, they will be sufficiently prevented from any attention to manufactures.
"And indeed, my Lords, what seems to promise the certain acquisition of these great advantages from the present applications, is that these settlements are to be undertaken by people of very sufficient and able circumstances, who propose the establishment of many German families, by which means the annual current of Germans to America will very suddenly be diverted into this Province, from whence it must receive a very considerable degree of strength, for these frugal, laborious and industrious people will not only improve and enrich their property, but pertinaciously defend it.
"Among the several persons who have arrived here with a view to these undertakings is Mr. Alexander McNutt, who has frequently attended at your Lordships' Board. His applications are of a very considerable degree and extent, and he produces many letters from the associations I have before mentioned, soliciting him, in the most pressing manner, to use his utmost endeavours to procure for them the tracts of land for which they apply, and on such conditions as he had obtained at your Lordships' Board the 27th February, 1761, for all such settlers as he would introduce into this Province."
When we remember that at this time the whole of what is now the Western States was still open for settlement, it seems curious to find parties in the Middle States a century ago representing the good soil there as already overstocked, and in consequence seeking land in Nova Scotia. Accompanying this representation was a list of firms or companies, to the number of fifteen, among whom we notice James Lyon, of Trenton, and "Dr. Franklin and Co.," who sought grants of land, some of 100,000 acres and some of 200,000, making altogether 2,000,000 acres. The Dr. Franklin mentioned here is we believe the great Benjamin, who was at that time influential in England and interested in the settlement of this Province. In a petition on their behalf, McNutt says, "that he did engage with several persons in Ireland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and other parts of His Majesty's dominions, to provide lands in this Province on the terms contained in his proposals, for the settlement of as many families as they would furnish; that the several persons so engaging with him had been at considerable expense and trouble to fulfil their engagement by procuring many families for that purpose, who are now waiting with much anxiety and impatience to transport themselves to this Province."
Among the speculators at that time engaged in taking up land and bringing settlers to the Province, none was more active than Mr. McNutt, who is styled by Halyburton "an enthusiastic adventurer from the North of Ireland," who had already been the means of settling Truro, Onslow, and Londonderry. *
[* He was also engaged afterward in settling portions of the County of Shelburne. At the close of his life he resided on an island there, still called McNutts Island, and was dorwned crossing to the shore.]
The result of these applications was, that in June of that year it was agreed in Council to reserve 200,000 acres for a company consisting of the Rev. James Lyon, McNutt, and thirteen others, principally residing in the city of Philadelphia, of land "between Onslow, Truro, and the lands granted to Colonel DesBarres at Tatamagouche." In July, on their representing that they had at considerable expense and fatigue viewed the 200,000 acres reserved for them, and found that there was not the quantity applied for there, it was resolved that they should have "liberty to choose the aforesaid quantity between Tatamagouche and Picto."
At the same time 1,600,000 was reserved for McNutt and his associates at various places, among which is a block of 100,000 acres at Pictou.
At this period land was being granted by order of the British Government to various individuals, principally officers of the army and navy, for services during the war. It was in this way that two years later the whole of Prince Edward Island was granted in one day. Accordingly, on the 15th of October, five grants passed nominally for 20,000 acres each, though in reality containing much more, embracing the whole eastern half of the county.
In accordance with the resolutions above mentioned, there was a lot of 100,000 acres granted on the same day to McNutt and some of his friends, and on the 31st another nominally for 200,000 acres to the Philadelphia Company, commonly known as the Philadelphia Grant, to which we shall have occasion more particularly to refer presently. Thus in one month, and principally in one day, a district not exactly coinciding with the county of Pictou, but embracing the larger portion of it, and also a large part of the county of Colchester, was granted to individuals, the most of it to speculators.
The names of the grantees of the first five mentioned lots are John Major, John Henerker, John Haygens (afterward corrected Godhard Huygens), John Fisher, and John Wentworth. Major's grant fronted on Merigomish Harbor, at its eastern end. To the west of this lay Henerker's lot. In the rear of these and extending still further westward, was Huygens'. Of these parties we know nothing. The only mention of their names we have seen is in a memorial from Sir John Wentworth, in which he petitions against the escheating of these grants, "on behalf of the most noble Duchess Dowager of Chandois and Sir John Henerker, Bart., and member of the British Parliament, heirs and proprietors of certain lands at Pictou and Merigomish, formerly granted to John Henerker and Godhard Huygens."
Fisher, we have heard, was a major in the army. Wentworth, in a memorial at the close of the American war, says, "That your memorialist and said John Fisher were in His Majesty's service in America, and in consequence of their fidelity, and zeal in their duty, were proscribed and exiled from the United States of America, their extensive property in New England confiscated, and their means of improving their estate at Pictou considerably diminished." By letters at that date, it appears that he was then residing in London. His grant is now only interesting as having given its name to that part of the south side of the harbor immediately fronting upon the town; but to show how lands were granted at that time, we may give the description of the grant. It is as follows:
"Beginning at the north-east corner of McNutt's land, at a cove on the east side of Pictou Harbor, and running south 47 degrees, east 456 chains on said McNutt's land, thence south 808 chains on the same, thence east 74 chains on lot No. 1 (Huygens grant), thence north 600 chains on lot No. 3 (Wentworth grant), thence east till it meets Merigomish Harbor, thence along the sea-coast and harbor of Pictou to the first mentioned boundary, including the islands in the harbor of Merigomish."
We may mention that the portions of these grants on the shore nearly coincide with what was afterward called the 82nd grant. Westward of Henerker's lot, and fronting on the western part of Merigomish harbor, was what is still known as the Wentworth grant. Of all the grants given in that October, this is the only one which was not escheated. At is is thus the oldest grant in the county, we may give its boundaries as originally described:
"Beginning at a cove in Merigomish harbor, bounded on lot No. 2 (Fisher's grant), and to run west 56 chains, thence south 600 chains (or 7 ½ miles) on said lot, thence east 352 chains on lot No. 1 (Huygens), thence north 648 chains (over 10 miles) on lot No. 4 (Henerker's lot) to Merigomish harbor, thence to be bounded by said harbor to the first mentioned boundary."
Wentworth, afterward Sir John, was a native of New Hampshire, afterward Governor of that Province, and at a later period of Nova Scotia (1792--1808). He was at that time Surveyor of His Majesty's woods in North America, an office which he continued to hold till the American Revolution, after which he held the same position in the remaining Provinces.
The conditions of these grants were the same, viz.: that the grantees should pay a quit rent of one farthing per acre for the one-half within five years, and the whole to be payable within ten years; and secondly, to settle Protestant settlers upon it in the proportion of one person to every 200 acres within ten years from the date of their grant. These conditions were never fulfilled, and, so far as we know, no effort was made for that purpose by any of the parties except Wentworth, at a period, however, after the time fixed; and, as already mentioned, all the grants except his were escheated.
We may mention here that the only mines reserved on these lands were gold, silver and coal, so that the present owners of the Wentworth grant are proprietors of all other minerals they can find on their land and already portions of it have been found to be rich in iron ore.
On the same day with the date of these grants another passed to Mr. Alexander McNutt, William Caldwell, Arthur Vance and Richard Caldwell, of a tract of land:
"Beginning at a cove on the east side of Pictou Harbor (this must have been near the mouth of the East River) and running south 47 degrees, east 550 chains, thence south 1,040 chains (13 miles), thence west 872 (nearly 11 miles), thence north till it meets the innermost river of Pictou, thence bounded by said river and harbour of Pictou to first mentioned boundary. Also one other piece beginning at a point bearing north 33 east, from the little island in the harbour of Pictou (this was at Brown's Point), and running north to the sea shore (near Roddicks, Carriboo), thence to be bounded by the seashore and harbour of Pictou to the first mentioned boundary, including Pictou Island."
This was afterward known as the Irish grant. Of the parties to it, except McNutt, all we know is that they are said to belong to Londonderry, in Ireland. It will be seen that it embraced all the southern and western shores of the harbour from Fishers Grant round to the West River, and the land into the interior to the southward to a distance of about 20 miles, embracing both banks of the East and Middle Rivers and the west side of the West, to the distance of about a mile above Durham. It also embraced the block on which the town now stands, commencing at Browns Point and extended round the coast to Carriboo.
It will also be seen that it covered nearly all the most desirable portions of the harbour, and had the first settlement been upon it, the effort might have been more successful, and much of the suffering afterward experienced might have been avoided.
But the grant, which is of special interest, as connected with the early history of Pictou, was the last one mentioned as having passed at that time, usually known as the Philadelphia grant. It is dated the 31st October, and it is to Edmund Crawley, Esq., (for 20,000 acres) the Rev. James Lyon, John Rhea, Richard Stockton, George Bryan, William Symonds, John Wykoff, Isaac Wykoff, Jonathan Smith, Andrew Hodge, John Bayard, Thomas Harris, Robert Harris, and David Rhea for 180,000 acres.
Of these grantees Lyon and the Harrises will come under our notice again. Of the others, we know nothing except that they resided in Philadelphia, from which circumstance the company and the grant derived their name. The following is the description of their land:
"Beginning at the southwest bounds of lands granted to Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres, and running thence west 550 chains on ungranted lands, thence south 580 chains on ungranted lands, and on the township of Londonderry, thence east 800 chains on the township of Onslow, thence south 900 chains on said township and on ungranted lands, thence 1,000 chains on ungranted lands, thence north 932 chains, more or less, till it meets the westernmost river of Pictou, thence the course of the said river on the north side, till it meets the westernmost boundary of lands granted to Alexander McNutt and associates, thence running north on said lands till it meets the seashore, thence the course of the seashore till it meets the northeast boundary of lands granted to J. F.W. Des Barres aforesaid, thence on his eastern boundary 480 chains, on said lands to the first aforementioned boundary; together with the islands adjacent, containing on the whole 200,000 acres, more or less.
"In manner and form following, viz.: one equal undivided tenth part to Edmund Crawley, Esq., and the remaining nine-tenths to and among the others mentioned."
The line of the Des Barres grant referred to, commenced at Point Brule, between two and three miles to the west of the present county line, so that the Philadelphia grant included not only the greater portion of the township of Pictou, but a large portion of the county of Colchester, including part of the River John road settlement to Point Brule, a large part of New Annan, the whole of Earltown and Kemptown, with a considerable portion of Stewiacke. In fact, it would have made a county of itself.
But it will also be seen that on Pictou Harbour it had a very small frontage on the water, including only that part of the shore from Browns Point to the head of the harbour. All the shore from Browns Point to eastward round to Carriboo had been obtained by McNutt. This naturally belonged to the Philadelphia Company's grant, and it plainly appears that, while acting for his friends in Philadelphia, he had also been acting for himself and some others, and had managed very unfairly to get this into his own hands. This we know was afterwards the subject of bitter complaint against him, we have no doubt, justly, and, as we shall presently see, it was a great obstacle in the way of the settlement of the place.
The conditions of these two grants are somewhat curious. They were, first, that the grantees should pay a quit rent the same as on the other grants. Secondly, that they plant, cultivate, improve or enclose one-third part within ten years; one-third part within twenty years, and the other one-third within thirty years; otherwise, such portions as are not improved to be forfeited. These terms we think simply impossible to be fulfilled. Thirdly, they were to plant, within ten years from the date of the grant, one rood of every 1,000 acres with hemp, and to keep a like quantity of land planted during the successive years. This condition is in a good many grants of the time. It probably originated in the desire of the British Government to be independent of foreign nations, in providing cordage for her marine. But though this is the condition on which so much land in the Province is held, yet, as the late L. Doyle remarked in the Legislature, there is now not sufficient raised in the Province for criminal purposes. The last condition was, that they were to settle one-fourth of the land within one year after the 31st day of November next, in the proportion of one Protestant person to every 200 acres; one other fourth within two years; one other fourth within three years, and the remaining fourth within four years, or the land so unsettled should revert to the Crown. The last condition was an excellent one, and had it been carried out to any extent, it would have tended to the rapid settlement of the country. But the time allowed was too short. Altogether, the terms were unreasonably severe. For five months the agents had remained seeking better terms, and then, as the Governor says, "it was with great difficulty they submitted to these terms, which they thought severe, and it was with reluctance they were granted, because they were not strictly conformable to the King's intentions, " and they only accepted them on condition that they should be at liberty to avail themselves of such better terms as could be obtained by representations to the Home Government.
It does not appear that McNutt made any attempt to settle his land, and the grant was consequently escheated in the year 1770, but not until the first settlement had been made by the Philadelphia Company, and till his granted had proved an obstacle to their progress. The Philadelphia Company, however, seemed determined honestly to carry out their engagement as far as practicable. In a memorial to the Governor, dated 21st August, 1766, they represent that "they have received many disappointments, in their intentions of settling the lands granted to them between Pictou and the townships of Onslow and Truro, by the misrepresentations of one Mr. Anthill, who had represented the country as rocky, barren and unfit for improvement, and likewise made very injurious representations of the Government of this Province, all which very much prejudiced the persons who had engaged to settle the lands. That they had likewise met with a very great disappointment, on finding that a considerable part of the harbour of Pictou, by some mistake in the survey, was not granted to them, as they expected, all which, with many obstructions from the scarcity of money and the stagnation of trade, occasioned by the Stamp Act taking place at that time, rendered them incapable of making any settlements this year, as intended." In consequence of this, they were allowed to the 1st of June following to settle the first portion of settlers.
On the 5th of May 1767, seven of the Company, George Bryan, William Symonds, Andrew Hodge, Robert Harris, John Bayard, and John Smith, all of Philadelphia, and Thomas Harris, of Baltimore County, in the Province of Maryland, executed a power of attorney to John Wykoff, of Philadelphia, merchant, and Dr. John Harris, of Baltimore Conty, empowering them to grant and sell, in the name of the Company, their land, on such terms as they should see fit. The Rev. James Lyon, who was already in the Province, afterward executed a similar paper to Harris.
They also despatched a small brig, called the Hope, Captain Hull, of Rhode Island, with six families of settlers and supplies of provisions for their use. These families consisted of Dr. Harris, the agent and wife, Robert Patterson, who came as a surveyor for the Company, his wife and five children, the eldest nine years old, and the youngest only three months; James McCabe, wife and six children; John Rogers, wife and four children; Henry Cumminger, wife and four or five children, and a sixth family whose name is uncertain. Besides these, Patterson had with him a convict servant. It was customary at that time in the old colonies to sell criminals sentenced to penal servitude, to serve out their sentence in a position similar to that of slaves, to any who might be willing to buy them. Patterson had bought this man for a term of seven years, which, we may here observe, he fully served. Thus the company consisted of twelve heads of families, about twenty children, and one convict servant, and possibly one or two colored slaves.
The Hope sailed from Philadelphia toward the end of May, and called at Halifax to obtain information regarding the coast round to Pictou. Harris's power of attorney is attested there on the 3rd June. Leaving Halifax after a few days' stay, they reached the harbor of Pictou on the 10th of June. The people of Truro had heard of their coming, and five or six young men set out through the woods to meet them and aid in commencing operations. Of these we have heard the names of Samuel Archibald, father of the late S.G.W. Archibald, John Otterson, Thomas Troop, and Ephraim Howard. The two latter we notice from the circumstance that, in passing the mountains on the western border of the county, they named the one Mount Thom and the other Mount Ephraim, after themselves which they have retained to this day.* They reached the harbor the same afternoon that the vessel arrived, and made large fires on the shore about Beck's place to attract her up. Those on board saw the fires and supposed that they were made by savages, of whom they naturally stood in terror. The vessel accordingly stood off and on till next morning, and the company deliberated whether to resist or submit to their mercy. Like true Englishmen, they chose the bolder alternative. ________
[*Some think that Mt. Thom derived its name from Thomas Archibald, but the tradition we have followed we think well founded.]
During the night their number was increased by Mrs. Harris giving birth to a son, afterward known as Clerk Tommy, having filled the situation of Clerk of the Peace and Prothonotary for some years. He died in 1809, and was buried in Pictou graveyard, where a monument stood till recently to his memory, on which he was described as "the first descendant of an Englishman born in Pictou."
The next morning they saw the Truro party coming along the shore, and by their spy-glasses, discovered, to their joy, that they were whites, and as the vessel stood in toward the shore, they heard the cheerful hail of friends. That day they landed at the point just above the Town Gut, which had been selected as the site of a town, as the part of the Company's grant nearest to the entrance of the harbour. The prospect was indeed dreary enough. One unbroken forest covered the whole surface of the country to the water's edge. What is now the lower part of the town was then an alder swamp. All around stood the mighty monarchs of the wood in all their primeval grandeur, the evergreens spreading a sombre covering over the plains and up the hills, relieved by the lighter shade of the deciduous trees, with here and there some tall spruce rising like a black minaret or spire above its fellows. But chiefly conspicuous to the eye of the observer were the tasselled heads of the white pines, for which Pictou was afterwards so long distinguished--their straight stems towering to the height of 150 to 200 feet, "like masts of some huge admiral."* Some of the early grants reserved all pine trees over two feet in diameter, "suitable for His Majesty's navy," but here within sight might be seen probably enough to have masted all the ships, not only of His Britannic Majesty, but of all the navies in Christendom. The scene was one of which the eye of the lover of nature might have gazed with delight, but it is needless to say that these settlers looked upon the matter with more practical eyes. The interminable forest only presented itself to them as an insuperable obstacle to their labours, and their hearts sank as they contemplated the idea of wresting a subsistence from the soil so encumbered.
[*In the days of the pine timber trade, a tree that would not square a foot to the length of sixty feet would be considered a small tree, not worth taking, while sometimes they stood so close together that the lumberers could not take them all, lest in felling them they would break by falling across one another.]
Knowing the hostility which
the Indians had maintained to the English almost up to that period, and the
cruelties which they practised upon the infant settlements; familiar, too, with
the tale of their atrocities in the colonies which they had left, their minds
were filled with fear of the savages. Nor was this without reason. The French
were not yet without hope of regaining their ancient power over this land by
the expulsion of the English, and with this view were still intriguing with
the Indians. During the two years previous the latter held meetings in a hostile
spirit, and on the last of these occasions had declared their intention not
to allow any settlement at Pictou, on the north shore of the Province.*
[*The last year they showed how capable the French are of drawing them together whenever they think proper, which they actually did by some means unknown to the Government, for the whole body of Indians were collected from every part of the Province, and assembled on an island called Madame, to the north East of Canso, and not far from the head of La Brador, and as they passed through the different townships to their rendezvous they declared they were to meet French forces and threatened to destroy the settlements when they should return. This alarmed the inhabitants to so great a degree that for several weeks together they were kept in continual apprehension, and some part of the time even in arms; and with difficulty this body of Indians were dispersed, partly by the influence of some gentlemen, and partly upon finding themselves deceived in their expected support from the French. ]
"This year they have assembled in like manner, although not in so great a body, but with the same disposition, and some of them have, in addition, declared they will not allow any settlements to be made at Pictou, and that part of the coast of this continent which lies nearest St. Peters; but they dispersed upon the Government sending for a Canadian priest who officiates in the Bay of Chaleurs."--Letter of Lieutenant-Governor, dated 3rd September 1766.*
[* When we add that there was not one English settler on the north shore of the Province, from the Strait of Canso to Bay Verte, or perhaps, even to Miramichi, we may picture the loneliness of the little band, and need not wonder that their hearts sunk within them at the prospect of the toils and dangers before them.]
What rendered this disappointment greater was, that highly coloured representations had been made to them of the country to which they were coming; such as, that they could get sugar off the trees, in fact, they had come with such ideas of the place as are now entertained by the emigrant to California. The advantages of those who, in the years immediately previous, had removed from the old colonies and taken possession of the clearances of the French, and who had exchanged the rocky and barren shores of New England for the rich marshes of the Bay of Fundy, had excited high expectations regarding Nova Scotia. The more bitter, therefore, was their disappointment at the dreary prospect before them. After they landed, Mrs. Patterson used to tell, that she leaned her head against a tree, which stood for many a year after, and thought that if there was a broken-hearted creature on the face of the earth, she was the one. As she looked upon her little ones left shelterless in the cruel wilderness, among savages deemed still more cruel, she could only cling to her husband with the cry, "Oh, Robert, take me back." So discouraged were the whole band with the state of matters, that the most of them were determined to return in the vessel which brought them; but the captain, after landing his passengers and supplies, slipped out of the harbour in the night and left them to their fate, probably with the concurrence of the agent.
We have no particular account of the subsequent proceedings, but the few facts we have gleaned we shall put together as connectedly as in our power. The first night on shore they spent under the trees, without even a camp to shelter them, but the weather was warm and they did not suffer from the exposure. Their first care, of course, was to provide some shelter, which they did by the erection of rude huts. The agents of the company proceeded to lay out a town where they had landed. A half acre was assigned to each family, No. 1 being McCabe's. At that point the trees were not large. He immediately set to work and cleared his half acre, and his descendants boast that he cut down the first tree in Pictou. He had brought with him what they called a mattock, a heavy instrument, on one side an axe and on the other a grubbing hoe. Instead of chopping down the tree, his practice was to take away the earth from the main roots and cut off all the smaller ones, and then either leave it to fall by the wind or drag it down and out of root. In this way he cleared his lot, and instead of burning the trees, he hauled them out to the tide. He was so prompt that to reward him he was assigned another half acre. He planted his lot with potatoes without ploughing, just placing the seed under the moss, which had not been burned, and which he supposed would serve for manure. The land at this point was inferior, and not having been prepared, only a few weakly sprouts appeared, and in the fall the tubers were not larger than potatoe balls. Whether the others planted more or fared better that season, we have not ascertained, but not likely they did.
Around this point a plot was reserved for a town, and hence the creek close by has ever since been known as the Town Gut. Farm lots were assigned to each settler. Patterson, afterward the Squire, had his where his eldest son, John, afterward resided, and where his great grandson, Henry, and the Fullartons now live, about two miles from town. The remains of his orchard are still standing. McCabe got his where W. Evans now lives, about five miles from town, and another where the late George Murray lived below Durham. But he was a Roman Catholic, and the company's grant bound them to settle their land with Protestants, and hence the deed of his lot is in his wife's name. He had been partly educated for a priest, and managed to gain in this way an influence over the Indians, who pointed out to him the place where he took up his land as rich, which it proved to be.
John Rogers took up his land on Rogers Hill, which derived its name from him, where his grandson recently lived. The situation is a beautiful one, being nearly at the summit of the hill. But it seems singular that, with all the shore unoccupied, he should have gone so far back; but the land there was rich, with a fine lay, and it was on the blazed path to Truro, which he supposed would be the road to Halifax. Some of the apple trees raised from seed which he brought with him from Maryland are still standing.
Among the first efforts of the settlers was the opening of a road, or rather blazing a path, to Truro. It is claimed that this was done by Thomas Archibald, John Otterson, of Truro, and John Rogers, the compass their only guide. The road left the shore at the head of Pictou harbor, above Evans, place, and went over Rogers hill, following nearly the course of the present road through Rogers settlement, beyond the Six and Eight Mile brooks. I have been informed that the first course was by the North Mountain and down the North River to Truro, which is regarded by many as the shortest line between the two places. But there were difficulties by that route, and a line was opened over Mount Thom, for which Thomas Archibald has always got the credit, which continued to be the regular line of communication between the two places till about the year 1831. After reaching the summit, it descended till it struck the Salmon River, which it crossed at Kemptown, thence proceeding along the north side of the river, along the upland, till within about four miles of Truro, and the remaining part of the distance along the intervale.
It seems even at this early period to have been regularly laid out and duly measured. We find in the deeds given shortly after such descriptions as the following:--"At the south-west corner of land laid out on the Cobyquid Road, between the three and four mile trees." "Another lying on Cobyquid Road, beginning at a stake and stones near the eight mile camp, thence westwardly on said road a mile and a quarter." At what time this road was laid out we are uncertain, but think it was the summer they arrived. It may be mentioned that the various streams on the west side of the West River derived their names from the distance on this road from the point of departure. Thus Forbes Brook was long known as the Half-mile Brook, and so we have the Four, Six and Eight-mile Brooks. It may be added that the farthest-up settler on the Truro side for a long time was Thomas Archibald, generally known as Uncle Tom, whose house was long the home of the traveller.
"In addition," says Philo Antiquarious, "to the difficulties already mentioned, they were constrained to submit to many indignities from the aborigines, who viewed their operations with no friendly eye. These considered the settlers as usurpers of their natural rights, who had encroached on their undoubted property; and it required not a moderate portion of skill on the part of the civilized to gain the good-will of the savage, nor inconsiderable prudence to establish this amicableness when formed." We have heard, for example, of a white man taking a fish from the river, and an Indian taking it from him, saying it was not his. They would enter the houses of the settlers, and help themselves to the cakes that the women might be baking on the hearth, or other provisions, with threatening gestures. The settlers cultivated their friendship by such means as playing draughts, wrestling or by what was perhaps more effective, drinking fire water with them. And though the Indians were fond of working on their fears, when they could do so, they do not seem to have intended to do them any serious injury. In fact, through kindness, they became attached to some of the settlers, and showed them great kindness. Still incidents sometimes occurred which showed that they were not to be trifled with, and that their old savage nature might be revived. A young man, wrestling with an Indian, by a dextrous movement, which his opponent thought unfair, tripped him. The Indian was very cross, and sometime after, the young man going to the Middle River, where the former had his camp, his squaw came out and earnestly warned him away, saying that her husband would kill him if he found him there.
"During the summer months the settlers experienced little inconvenience from the weather, but they found the winter much more severe and of longer continuance than in their native clime. They were consequently ill prepared to meet its blasts, and suffered intensely from its inclemency.
"As their provisions diminished, they directed their enquiries to the internal resources of the country, and this investigation was amply recompensed by discovering the forest to be plentifully inhabited by different species of wild animals. In hunting these, the settler usually had the Indian for an associate, and his faithful dog for a follower. Among the several kinds of animals, none were more valuable or abundant than the moose. The hunter, in endeavouring to procure these, was subjected to much fatigue, having frequently to pursue one of them a whole day, with the probability of not overtaking it at the end. * If, however, he were fortunate enough to catch it, the quantity of excellent venison it produced might have been deemed an equivalent for the labour of the chase, but, besides, its skin, when properly prepared, was valued at ten shillings, and was advantageously bartered for necessaries to traders, who were accustomed to run into the harbour with small crafts.
[* The late James Patterson told the writer of starting one back of the town, and killing it in descending the southern side of Green Hill.]
"Necessity is truly the mother of art. Congregated as the early inhabitants of this district were, in a place which was devoid of every conveniency, where the most common and indispensable commodities were wanting, their creative powers were laid under heavy contribution, in order to provide for the deficiency, and their inventive genius was called into ceaseless operation in constructing articles for household use, in forming implements of husbandry, and making instruments for hunting. They thus became more ingenious and more fertile in resources--what, in America, is called more 'handy'--than if living in older inhabited places."
In the following spring they found it necessary to proceed to Truro for seed; the journey required three days to go and as many to return. They returned, bearing each a bag of seed potatoes on his back. The labour of such a journey through trackless and intricate forests, carrying a burden, we can scarcely estimate. That year they planted the seed thus brought, and succeeded in raising a quantity of good potatoes, but not sufficient for their subsistence, so that winter had not much more than begun before their supply was exhausted.
The following year they again went to Truro for a supply, but this time they cut the eyes out with a penknife, by which they could carry a large supply, and that season they raised enough for the subsistence during the following winter.
We subjoin slightly abridged, a return of the population at the close of the year 1769, which is, probably, the first census taken in this place, from which it will be seen that besides the settlers we have mentioned there had arrived here, in 1767 or 1768, the families of Robert McFadden, the Rev. James Lyon, and Barnabas McGee, and that the first of these left in 1769. By this return it appears also that nine families arrived in that year, but only five remained. Some of these were from Truro and some were from Philadelphia. Of those from Truro William Kennedy deserves special notice. He was one of the grantees of Truro, but sold out there in 1768, and obtained a lot in Pictou, at the Saw Mill Brook, extending in front from the mouth of the brook up the harbour, now the McKenzies' property. Here he made a clearing long known as Kennedy's Clearing or Kennedy's Hill. On that stream he, in 1769, erected the first saw mill in the county, which was the first frame building in Pictou. On the 28th of September, 1774, he deeds "half of saw mill now built on a stream known by the name of the Mill Brook." Two years later he returned to Truro, and in 1780 settled in Stewiacke, where he was the first settler. Moses Blaisdell also came from Truro. He settled on the lot since occupied by the Becks, at the head of the harbour, but afterward removed to the eastern part of the Province.
Of those who came from Pennsylvania we are certain of the names of only two--Matthew Harris and Barnabas McGee. The former was an elder brother of the Doctor, and settled on the farm now owned by George Davidson, about five miles from town. The remains of his cellar may still be seen near the shore, and the apple trees which he planted are still growing, and, if properly cared for, might still yield good fruit. We may here mention that all the American settlers planted fruit trees, and originally of good quality, especially the apple trees. The settlers that arrived afterward, being chiefly from the Highlands of Scotland, paid no attention to the raising of fruit, and their children after them showed the same spirit, so that among them even yet but a few have orchards of any account. McGee was a native of the North of Ireland, who had emigrated to Pennsylvania or Maryland, and there married a London woman. He had his land on Rogers Hill, but being dissatisfied with the want of frontage on the shore, he gave it up and was afterward the first settler in Merigomish.
|John Harris||Total 11:
6 men, 2 boys
2 women, 1 girl
|11 Protestants||3 Irish,
|Robert Patterson||Total 10:
2 men, 5 boys
1 woman, 2 girls
|10 Protestants||1 English,
1 Irish, 6 Americans,
|Robert McFadden||Total 7:
1 man, 3 boys
1 woman, 2 girls
|7 Protestants||1 Irish, 6 Americans|
|Henry Commego||Total 8:
1 man, 3 boys
1 woman, 3 girls
|8 Protestants||8 Americans|
|James McCabe||Total 7:
1 man, 2 boys
1 woman, 3 girls
1 Roman Catholic
|Nathan Smith||Total 2:
1 man, 1 woman
|2 Protestants||2 Americans|
|Revd. James Lyon||Total 7:
3 men, 2 boys
|7 Protestants||6 Americans
|Barnabas McGee||Total 2:
1 man, 1 woman
|2 Protestants||1 English
|William Kennedy||Total 7:
1 man, 2 boys
1 woman, 3 girls
|7 Protestants||2 Irish
|Moses Blazdel||Total 10:
1 man, 4 boys
1 woman, 4 girls
|10 Protestants||9 Americans
|William Aiken||Total 6:
1 man, 3 boys
1 woman, 1 girl
|6 Protestants||6 Americans|
|George Oughterson||Total 1:
|1 Protestant||1 American|
|Thomas Sheed||Total 1:
|1 Protestant||1 Scots|
|Matthew Harris||Total 14:
4 men, 4 boys
2 women, 4 girls
|14 Protestants||2 Irish
|Barnett McNutt||Total 9:
3 men, 2 boys
2 women, 2 girls
|9 Protestants||2 Irish
|James Archibald||Total 8:
1 woman, 6 girls
|8 Protestants||2 Irish
|Charles McCoy||Total 6:
1 man, 3 boys
1 woman, 1 girl
|6 Protestants||1 Irish
|Robert Dicky||Total 4:
1 man, 1 boy
1 woman, 1 girl
|4 Protestants||1 Irish
Thus during this year 67 souls had arrived and 4 children had been born, but 36 had removed, and one had died, leaving the net population 84.
The return of produce raised in that year exhibits 64 bushels of wheat, 60 of oats, 7 of rye, 8 of barley, 6 of pease, and some flax, potatoes not given. When we consider that this was the result of the labours of six families at most, in what we may regard as the second year of their labours in the forest, the progress, made, we think, was creditable. Their show of cattle under the circumstances is very good, viz., 6 horses, 16 oxen, 16 cows, 16 young cattle, 37 sheep, and 10 swine. We also find thus early the commencement of our Marine, for Dr. Harris is credited with owning a fishing-boat and a small vessel, and Kennedy had a saw-mill.
Of those in the above list, Henry Cumminger, who had originally come in the Hope, afterward removed, and Nathan Smith, William Aiken and Thomas Skead seem scarcely to have made any settlement. Other settlers also arrived, among them, it is said, two or three from Cumberland. Of these, one was named James Fulton, and another, we believe, was named Watson. Fulton was born in Ireland in the year 1726, and with his wife and family emigrated to Halifax in 1761. He went first to Lahave and afterward to Cumberland, whence he removed to Pictou. His name appears in the list of town officers of the latter place in 1775, but he removed shortly after to the lower village of Truro. "In removing from Pictou to Truro," says Miller, "they underwent great hardships; they had then to travel through the woods without any roads, and carry their stuff and their children on their backs. This journey occupied the whole of the week, although they had the assistance of several men. While on their way there came on a snow storm which caused them much suffering, as they had to stop in the woods for five nights, and one night in particular, their fireworks being damp, they could get no fire for some time, and were in danger of perishing." Watson lived on the west side of West River, and died there, and his farm was afterward purchased by Robert Stewart. His family moved away.
Of the settlers who arrived, some took up land of the Philadelphia company, and occupied the west side of the West River, nearly up to the ten mile house; others had their lots assigned to them in the rear, but discouraged by their location in the woods, they either moved away or squatted in other places round the harbour without titles. Besides those already mentioned, we find the name of Jonas Earl, who had his farm to the west of Watson's, already mentioned; and Isaiah Horton, who lived to the east of him, besides others, some of whose names are given in the following list of town officers, which may be inserted as a curiosity:
ONSLOW SESSIONS, FEBRUARY TERM, 1775.
A list of Town Officers for the township of Pictou:
Clerk of the District
Overseers of the Poor ..Robert Mersom, John Harris, James Fulton
Overseers of the Road .Matthew Harris, William Kennedy
Surveyors of Lumber Moses Blaisdell, William Aikin
Constable . William Aikin
Clerk of the Market ..James Fulton
Culler of Fish Abraham Slater
Approved and established by the Sessions.
(signed,) NOAH MILLER,
Clerk of the Peace
One other settler is deserving of notice, viz., James Davidson. He was a native of Edinburgh, where was married and the first of his family was born. He emigrated from Scotland in the same vessel in which the Rev. Mr. Cock brought out his family. Soon after he came to Pictou. He took up a considerable quantity of land, but specially claims attention as being the first school-master in Pictou, the school-house being situated at Lyons Brook. He also deserves notice as being a pious man, who first cared for the spiritual interests of the settlers. He collected the children on the Sabbath day for religious instruction, so that Lyons Brook is known as the site of the first Sabbath school in the County, and probably in the Province, established even before Raikes began that movement, which made these institutions part of the regular machinery of the Christian Church. "Here," says the editor of the "Colonial Patriot" "this worthy man taught school seven days of the week, and, to our shame be it spoken, the Sabbath was more sanctified then, when there was no place of worship, except the school-house where James Davidson taught and prayed, than it is now, when churches are in abundance, even at our doors." Partly from want of a minister in Pictou, and partly from friendship for Mr. Cock, he removed to Truro about the year 1776, and settled at Old Barns, where he died, leaving no sons, but several daughters, whose descendants are still numerous in Colchester.
We must remark here, however, that though these first settlers had a number of hardships to endure, yet they never suffered actual want of the necessaries of life. This was owing partly to the arrangements of the Company, and partly to their own industry and skill. The Company, had sent a supply of provisions, we believe, for two years. The settlers were acquainted with American life, and soon learned to avail themselves of the resources of the forest. The coasts abounded, particularly in spring and fall, with fowl, so little disturbed by man, that they were shot or even snared with little trouble and in great numbers.* Fish were abundant, the most valuable of which was the salmon, which came into the rivers in great numbers, as one said to me, "as thick as the smelts do now." I have heard old people describe them even at a later period, coming in such numbers into the West River, that at a narrow place they would seem almost jammed together, so that one would think he could walk upon them. These they not only caught for their own use, but salted for exportation.
[* I have heard James Patterson tell of even sometime later, going to the Beaches in the month of March with his gun, and, after being away a day or two, sending home for a horse and sled, which he brought home loaded with wild geese, which they salted down for their summer provision.]
As they cleared the land, they were able to grow crops, potatoes never failing to yield a bountiful return; if only as much of the potatoe as had a sprout were planted. But perhaps their chief resource was the wood of the forest. The pine they split into four feet clapboards, and they manufactured staves from the oak and ash, both of which found a market in the old colonies.
Squire Patterson had brought a large supply of goods, with which he traded with both the Indians and the settlers. The former he supplied with guns, ammunition, clothing, & c., in exchange for furs, or sometimes for food, and the settlers he supplied with various articles, taking the produce of their labour in return. Small trading vessels from the old colonies, employed principally in fishing, brought them supplies, receiving in exchange their fish, fur, and lumber. With all the toil and hardship connected with their life, there must have been something fascinating about it. The father of the Harrises having visited his sons, endeavoured to persuade them to return to Pennsylvania, but they refused.
Of their social life at this period we have little further information. The peculiar circumstances of the first birth have preserved the remembrance of it. We may add that Dr. Harris' daughter, afterward Mrs. Robert Cock, born in 1769, was the first female child born in Pictou of English parentage. Of marriages we have no record; but we find in the foregoing return mention of one death, in the family of Oughterson, probably his wife, as he is returned as alone in his family. Probably there were more, as before the arrival of the Hector passengers, there was a burying ground. This, which was the first in the county, was on the farm owned by John Patterson, Squire's son. It was situated to the west of his house, the same in which his son Charles lived. The ground had long since been ploughed over, and the spot cannot now be distinguished. We may say here that the people were generally serious and religiously inclined, most of them being Presbyterians, and the others, with one exception, New England Puritans.
[* A woman who came to reside in that neighborhood, not knowing there had been a burying ground there, took hold of a stake and, working with it in the ground, struck something that sounded hollow. She ran home to tell that she had found what must be money. Further information, however, led to the conclusion that it must have been a coffin.]
It is said that there were sixteen families in Pictou on the arrival of the Hector in 1775, but of these only six remained, and we shall conclude this chapter with a more particular notice of these. Especially deserving of attention is Robert Patterson, made a magistrate in 1774, and hence long known as Squire Patterson. He was a native of Renfrew, in Scotland, but had for some time been in the Old Colonies, residing, at least part of the time, at a place called Cross Roads, in the State of Maryland, about 14 miles south of the Pennsylvania line, now called Churchville, a small place in the midst of a rich agricultural district. Here also the Harrises resided. He had for some time been employed as a pedlar, and also, I have been informed, as a sutler to the army, previous to the peace of 1763.
He was for many years the leading man in Pictou, laid out all the first lots, surveyed all the early grants, and was prominent in all the public affairs of the place. "On account of his steady adhesion to the soil and interest of Pictou; on account of his disposition and ability at all times to relieve the distressed, and on various other accounts, he fairly earned the title of FATHER OF PICTOU. As such he was loved and esteemed by the inhabitants during his life.
[* Editor Colonial Patriot.--An eight-day clock, brought with him in the Hope, is in the possession of a great grand daughter, Mrs. A. P. Ross, and still marks the hours.]
His first location was, as we have seen, about two miles from town; but he afterwards obtained from McNutt a claim, afterward confirmed by Governor Patterson, to a lot a little above Mortimers Point, where built the first frame house in Pictou. There he continued to live till his death, which took place on the 20th September, 1808. His remains were interred in the old burying ground at Durham. We shall have occasion to refer to him again. Mrs. Patterson died March 6th, 1812.
Of his children who were with him in the Hope, his eldest, known afterward as John Patterson, second, lived about two miles from town. He was an Elder in the Presbyterian Church, and died 8th May, 1820. He left a large family, but there are now few of his descendants living. The second James will still be remembered in Pictou. He settled to the west of the town, where the remains of his old orchard still exist. He also was for many years an Elder in the Church, and died May 14th, 1857, aged 96. The third, David, lived above Mortimers Point. He and his brother James usually worked together, and their houses were the next frame houses in Pictou after their father's. He died September 26th, 1844. The Squire had two daughters also on board the Hope, Sarah, afterward Mrs. Mortimer, and Margaret, afterward Mrs. Pagan. Of the children born after his arrival, Thomas settled on Carriboo Island, and George was one of the early settlers in Merigomish, where, and elsewhere, he has left numerous descendants.
The Harrises, Matthew and John, were of the Scotch-Irish race, their ancestors, Edward Harris and Flora Douglas, having left Ayrshire, in Scotland, in the reign of Charles II., or James II., losing a fine estate for their attachment to Presbyterian worship. They settled near Raphoe, in the County of Donegal, Ireland.
Thomas, grandson of Edward and father of Matthew and John, and an older son, Robert, were members of the Philadelphia company. He was then described as of the county of Baltimore, Maryland, and his son as Doctor of Medicine, Philadelphia. He died in Elizabethtown, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, on the 4th December, 1801, at the age of 106, having seen three centuries.
John was the youngest son, but had most to do with the settlement of Pictou. He was born July 16th, 1739. He acted as attorney of the Philadelphia company in disposing of their land, and a host of deeds are recorded from him, of lots not only along the West River and Rogers Hill, but at Carriboo, Cape John, River John, and other places. He was the first magistrate in the district, having been appointed in 1769. He was first registrar of deeds, and held other public offices. He lived near Browns Point, on a lot purchased from McNutt, and confirmed to him by Governor Patterson, the same which has since been occupied by his son Thomas and his descendants. He, however, removed to Onslow about the year 1778, where was clerk of the peace for some years, represented Truro in the House of Assembly from 1779 to 1785, celebrated marriages and was otherwise a public man. He died in Truro, April 9th, 1802, through a fall from his horse. His descendants are numerous, a considerable number being in Colchester and some in Pictou, his eldest son Thomas having settled at the Town Gut, and his youngest, John W., having been long High Sheriff of the county.
Matthew Harris was born on the 12th January, 1735, according to a statement received from the United States, though his age as published at the time of his death, would make the date of his birth four years earlier.
[* Died, at Pictou, December 9, Mr. Matthew Harris, aged 88 years, the last head of a family of the first settlers from the State (province) of Pennsylvania. In the year 1763 (should be 1769) removed to Pictou, which at that period was a rude, uncultivated wild, inhabited only by a few wandering Indians and four families who arrived there shortly before from the same place. He has left 9 children, 40 grandchildren, and 30 great-grandchildren." Newspaper, 1829.]
Of his family, the eldest, Thomas, was a surveyor, and laid out much of the land in this and the neighboring county of Colchester. He divided the back lands of the township of Truro under the writ of partition and made a plan of them, dated August 12th, 1788, which is still in use, and was for twenty years Sheriff of Pictou. Another son died unmarried; a third was lost at sea coming round from Halifax; a fourth, Robert, studied medicine and lived on his father's place, but afterward removed to Philadelphia, where he died; a fifth son, James, settled on Carriboo Island, and has left numerous descendants, and his youngest son removed to Pennsylvania. Of his daughters, one was married to John Patterson (deacon), hereafter to be noticed. The others were also married, but their descendants have nearly all removed from this county.
[* We may here remark that the Harris family to which these two brothers belonged is very widely spread through the United States. A gentleman of the connection has sent me a genealogical chart containing the names of 425 persons, and adds, "leaving hundred and even thousands of whom I know little or nothing." He further remarks, "Taken as a whole they represent a very respectable body of people, none of them very distinguished either for wealth or genius, but nearly all of good character and fair respectability. Of the 425 names given, about 40 are those of professional men, while several others have "General," "Colonel," "Judge," or other title attached, and quite a number have been liberally educated. One was a member of the Legislature of Pennsylvania at the time of the Revolution, an active participant in the affairs of church and state of the day, and one who had particularly distinguished himself by his efforts to abolish slavery in that State; and left a name behind him for patriarchal wisdom and goodness. For many generations christian faith and life have been manifested among them, several being elders and pillars in the Presbyterian Church, from attachment to which their ancestors were driven from Scotland."]
James McCabe was a native of Belfast, who emigrated to the old colonies. He there married Ann Pettrigrew, a North of Ireland Presbyterian. He was a Roman Catholic himself, but not a very strict one. He was too fond of the good things of this life to regard Lent or the other fasts of that Church, and cared little for her holydays. He attended Dr. McGregor's preaching, but never became a decided convert. He had with him in the Hope two sons, John and James, and four daughters. The sons afterward married, and had, the one thirteen and the other eleven children, or two dozen between them, who descendants were widely scattered. His four daughters were married, one to a Watson, and another to a Snow, both of whom removed to the United States; a third to Robert Gerrard, but died when only 26 years of age, and the fourth to Owen McKowen, or McEwan.
John Rogers was a native of Scotland, brought up in Glasgow, where he married, his wife's name being Ritchie. He thence removed to Maryland. He never assumed much prominence in the settlement of Pictou, but was a quiet, industrious and inoffensive, and we have reason to believe, a good man, as have been many of his descendants. He left one daughter and four sons, of whom all but the youngest son were in the Hope. His eldest son, James, lived on the farm, since owned by Alexander McKay and Rae, above the Town Gut. His second son, John, lived and died on his father's homestead. His third son, David, went to River John, where his descendants are numerous. His youngest son died comparatively early.
Barnabas McGee, we have already mentioned. He was lost, with his eldest son, going down to Newfoundland. His descendants are still in Merigomish.
The Rev. James Lyon appears as one of the Philadelphia company. In the petition from the inhabitants of Pictou, in the year 1784, they say, "The Philadelphia company made provision for, and sent, a minister, viz.: the Rev. James Lyon, at its first settlement, yet he did not continue among us, which very much discouraged the people and was exceedingly detrimental to the settling of the place." It would appear from this that the company had been mindful of the spiritual wants of the settlers. In fact we have reason to believe that the zeal manifested at that time in the old colonies in the settlement of the Province, was induced partly by motives of religion, particularly a desire that these regions where French Popery had hitherto prevailed, should now be occupied by sound Protestantism. Mr. Lyon was regularly ordained by the Presbytery of New Brunswick, in New Jersey, and came to the Province in the fall of 1764 or early in 1765, and was the first Presbyterian Minister in the Province of whom we have any account. In the latter year he was in Halifax. By the return which we have published, he appears to have been residing here with his family since 1769. He has given his name to Lyons Brook, about three miles from the town of Pictou. At different dates, from 1767 to 1772, we find his name in deeds as of Onslow, which was then the place where the public business of that district was transacted, and after that we find him described as of Machias, in the State of Maine. We have been informed that the lot of land about two miles from town, now occupied by Mr. Daniel McKenzie, had been set apart as a glebe, and that there was a burying ground upon it. After the Philadelphia company's grant was escheated, it was granted by Sir John C. Sherbrooke to Dr. McCulloch.
We have thus, with considerable labour, gathered all the facts within our reach regarding this first attempt at the settlement of Pictou. The result is by no means proportionate to the effort. We have been minute in the details, as being the first attempt of the kind, and amid difficulties which might have appalled the stoutest heart, we deemed it proper to preserve everything we can learn of the early actors in these scenes. None of the settlements in Nova Scotia had such obstacles to encounter as that of Pictou. At Halifax and Lunenburg colonization began under the superintendence of Government, which also expended large sums in providing for the wants of the settlers. Those again who came to settle the townships along the Bay of Fundy, in Annapolis, Kings, Hants, Colchester, and Cumberland counties, entered at once upon the rich marshes prepared to their hands by the French Acadians. But the first settlers of Pictou came to a country covered with heavy forest, without an acre cleared, and after a little were thrown on their own resources. We must admire the heroism with which they so bravely combated the difficulties in their path, and the perseverance by which they at length happily surmounted them.
The results for the first six years, it will be seen, were very small. The great cause of this was the unfortunate position of the Philadelphia grant, in having within its bounds no place in the harbour suitable for a town, and so little frontage on the shore. This spoiled the efforts honestly made for the settlement of the place, and frustrated, as we shall see, the next great effort made toward that end in 1773. In that year came the ship Hector with emigrants, mostly from the Highlands of Scotland. From that the effective settlement of the place may be dated. The event was important and deserves commemoration. But the first honor is due to the little company who arrived here previously, who cut down the first trees, erected the first huts, run the first lines, cleared the first land, and planted the first seed--the little band of pioneers who, in their little brig, with its well omened name, the Hope, first planted the standard of British colonization upon our northern coast; and the true natal day of Pictou is the 10th of June, when she first dropped anchor in our harbour, or the 11th, when her precious cargo first set foot on our shores.
"What noble courage
must their hearts have fired,
How great the ardour which their souls inspired,
Who leaving far beyond their native plain
Have sought a home beyond the western main;
And braved the perils of the stormy seas
In search of wealth, of freedom, and of ease.
Oh, none can tell, but they who sadly share,
The bosom's anguish, and its wild despair,
What dire distress awaits the hardy bands,
That venture first on bleak and desert lands;
How great the pain, the danger and the toil
Which mark the first rude culture of the soil.
When looking round, the lonely settler sees
His home amid a wilderness of trees;
How sinks his heart in those deep solitudes,
Where not a voice upon his ear intrudes;
Where solemn silence all the waste pervades,
Heightening the horror if its gloomy shades;
Save where the sturdy woodman's strokes resound
That strew the fallen forest on the ground."
Rising Village, by H. GOLDSMITH.