Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
September 29, 1892
GLIMPSES OF THE PAST
Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.
XXXVI THE COUNTY OF SUNBURY.
The wise policy of the government of Nova Scotia, which induced New England farmers to settle upon the lands in the peninsula from which the Acadians had been removed, was extended to others who wished to establish themselves in other sections of the province; and grants were soon made to companies and to individuals in different parts of the district which now forms the province of New Brunswick. Many also went northward and westward towards the Canadian border. A perfect fever for emigration from the older towns commenced, as Kidder says,1 and a very few years sufficed to carry civilization over the largest part of Vermont, New Hampshire and much of Maine along and west of the Penobscot. But the greater part of the emigration came toward Nova Scotia.
The rapidity and extent of this influx of population are almost incredible. Gov. Lawrences proclamations had drawn attention to the province; the fall of Quebec, and the Indian treaty of 1760, left no fear of an immediate renewal of the French and Indian wars; there were also, doubtless, greatly exaggerated reports of the fertility of the soil; yet it is impossible to fully account for the migration without supposing a sort of restlessness, such as sometimes seizes upon people en masse, and such as we have seen paralleled only in the early days of the California fever. Unlike the gold hunters, however, the New Englanders who came to Nova Scotia came as permanent settlers; and Dr. Benjamin Rand, (the writer of the two preceding articles, and the highest authority on this subject,) has shown us that the movement, though rapid, was cautious and well considered.
Only a part of the new comers took up the rich lands left by the Acadians. The value of the fisheries, which had long been recognized2 seems to have been one of the inducements which brought a small part of this immigration to the Passamaquoddy region; the wealth of the timber forests, left almost untouched by the French, was certainly another.
In 1748 the Massachusetts government employed Richard Hazen to make surveys and form a chart of the coast west of Passamaquoddy, which was understood to mark the eastern boundary of the district of Maine; and in 1753 practical measures were recommended for settling the country. The outbreak of the Seven Years war, which ended in the conquest of Canada, necessarily interfered with the plan; and not until 1763, when sixteen persons from Scarborough came to Machias to settle, do we find any considerable settlement on Massachusetts territory east of the Penobscot.
In 1758 the French fort at the mouth of the St. John was captured and garrisoned by the British.
In 1749 Fort Pownal was built at Penobscot, to secure the possession of the country and deprive the French of a natural route to the Atlantic; and in the same year Lieut. Joshua Treat arrived at the fort as the first actual settler on the Penobscot river. Three families settled near the mouth of the river in 1763.
The French held possession of the valley of the St. John until 1760, when a party of rangers under Capt. Rodgers was despatched from Quebec to drive them out. They performed the duty ferociously, says Perley,3 mentioning this event, ravaging the country and burning and destroying all before them.
The English hastened to take possession, to prevent the French from returning. In 1761 the region was explored, by order of the governor of Massachusetts, and in the following year a party of about twenty, of whom Samuel Peabody, James Simonds and James White were the leaders, came to St. John from Newburyport. Satisfied with the appearance of things at the mouth of the river, Simonds and White determined to settle there, to prosecute the fisheries, manufacture lime, and trade with the Indians; and they seem to have immediately extended their trade to Passamaquoddy or established a branch of their business there.
In 1763, a number of families, led by Israel Perley, arrived in four vessels from New England, and settled at Maugerville, on the St. John-the first permanent British settlement above the mouth of the river.
The district including St. John and Passamaquoddy appears to have been originally reserved by royal proclamation for settlement by disbanded soldiers. An old document4 shows that the Maugerville settlers, in order to obtain their grants, pleaded their services as provincial officers and soldiers in the late French war. One of the earliest settlers at Passamaquoddy, also, as will be seen later, claimed the land upon which he had settled in virtue of similar services, and had his claim allowed.
In 1765, this district was erected into a county called the county of Sunbury in the province of Nova Scotia. In the same year, the township of Burton, adjoining Maugerville, and Perkins Island, (probably Indian Island) in Passamaquoddy bay, were granted to a New England company.
Many grants of land in what is now Charlotte county were made within the next six years, among which was the grant to the Campobello company; and in 1770, William Owen, Plato Denny and William Sherwood (or Ishorwood,) probably all Englishmen lately arrived at Campobello, were made the first justices of the peace of the new county.
After the conquest of Acadia, it had remained undecided whether the territory lying between the St. John and the Penobscot should belong to Nova Scotia or to the province of Massachusetts Bay. The erection of Sunbury county, with its court of general sessions at Campobello, brought a part of the territory under the government of Nova Scotia; but the western portion was still claimed (or, perhaps, disclaimed) by both governments. The Machias settlers applied in vain, both to Halifax and to Boston, for a title to their lands, until, in 1770, the Massachusetts government assumed the jurisdiction and issued grants.
1Military Operations in Eastern Maine and Nova Scotia during the Revolution; by Frederic Kidder.
2See article xvii.
3Lecture on the Early History of New Brunswick, by the late Moses H. Perley, published in the Educational Review, Feb-June, 1891, with notes by Mr. W. F. Ganong.
4[?] by Mr. W. F. Ganong in Educational Review for March, 1891.
Dr. Rand sends us the following supplementary note:-
In the provincial building, at Halifax, historical information may be obtained from the legislative library, the Nova Scotia historical library, the record office, and the land office. The libraries of the legislature and the historical society have the same librarian. The record office, however, is at present under separate jurisdiction, and its archives contain the manuscript of 1762 and the general return of 1767 referred to in my recent article on the New England emigration. The return compiled from this General Return of the several Townships in the Province of Nova Scotia, the first day of January, 1767, is here repeated in a changed and corrected form:
Total persons in each township.
|Breton, Island of||170||707|
|Halifax and environs,||1351||3022|
|St. John's, Island of||70||519|
|St. John's River,|
|and Cape Sable,||20||172|
Correction: Additions and Corrections contains the following correction to this one, plus some extra information: "In thirteenth line of fourth paragraph, for sixteen persons from Scarborough, read fifteen persons, most of them from Scarborough.
The names of these settlers were Samuel Scott, Sylvanus Scott, Timothy Libby, George Libby, David Libby, Solomon Stone, John Stone, Daniel Hill, Japhet Hill, Isaiah Foster, Westbrook Berry, Isaac Larabee, Daniel Fogg, Thomas Buck and Jonathan Carlton.
As a note, at end of fourth paragraph, insert Four men, named Dorman, Denbow, Willey and Colson, had settled at Narraguagus in 1757. In the twelfth paragraph, erase the words the first, before justices of the peace of the new county. James Boyds commission bears an earlier date; and its wording implies that there were others, held, as we might suppose, by some of the inhabitants of the St. John river settlements, from the date of the erection of the county. We give it in full:
Lord William Campbell, Captain General and Governor in Chief in and over his Majestys Province of Nova Scotia, or Acadie, and its dependencies, Vice Admiral of the same, &c., &c., &c.
To James Boyd, Esquire, Greeting,
By virtue of the power & authority to me intrusted by his Majestys Commission & Royal Instructions, reposing special trust & confidence in your Loyalty, fidelity & good conduct, I do by these Presents appoint you the said James Boyd, one of his Majestys Justices of the Peace for a District from the river Saint Johns to the western boundary of this Province during pleasure.
And you are hereby invested with all the powers and authorities specified and contained in a Commission of the Peace for the County of Sunbury bearing date the eleventh day of August Seventeen hundred & Sixty six.
In witness whereof I have signed these Presents, & caused the Seal of the Province to be thereunto affixed at Halifax this Seventeenth day of March in the Seventh year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the third by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France & Ireland, King defender of the Faith, & so forth, & in the Year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and Sixty-seven.
By his Excellencys Command,
Correction: Article XCI contains the following correction to this one: "The date of the building of Fort Pownal, by a typographical error, is given as 1749. It should be 1759."