The Register,

Thursday, May 20, 1954

John S. Scott, Owner – Editor.

Planters and Loyalists

By Leora Cross

Many people confuse the New England Planters with the United Empire Loyalists. The latter did not come to Nova Scotia until they were driven out of New England by the American Revolution (1775-1783), about twenty years after the arrival of the Planters to occupy the lands vacated by the exiled French Acadians.

Some Americans (so-called) have wondered why these first English settlers did not join their rebellious kindred of New England in the War of Independence. The fact is they had no occasion for ill feeling toward the Mother Country, but rather real cause for gratitude for transportation, free grants of land and other assistance during their early struggle for existence in their new homeland.

Moreover, they had had enough of war in their battles with the French and Indians before leaving New England. Abraham Webster had fought in those wars, like all his forebears from the time of the arrival of his first ancestor in America, viz., John Webster, Fifth Governor of the Colony of Connecticut, who migrated from England about 1630. In their Acadian home, they were protected by the garrison at Piziquid (Windsor). When George Washington was asked why he did not invade Nova Scotia, he replied "he did not wish to go where he was not wanted". He probably also realized the strength of the fortifications at Halifax, where the seeds of self-government were being planted in a peaceful way.

Quite a number of the Loyalists settled in Aylesford, the third Township of Kings County, but very few found their way to the other Townships of Cornwallis and Horton.

Probably the most prominent of these was Col. Charles Wm. Moore, who took up residence in the west end of Kentville. His daughter, Wilhelmina, married Dr. William B. Webster, eldest son of Dr. Isaac Webster and his father’s successor in practice in Horton and Cornwallis. He lived in the house now used as a bus terminal, then fronted by a lovely grove of maples. He inherited considerable property in Kentville, and by his practice and investment acquired much more. Dr. Eaton’s History of Kings County acclaims him as "the most enterprising and far-seeing man of Kentville in its early history, and closely identified with the best interests of the shire town."

Dr. Webster was also an enthusiastic geologist and presented his large collection of specimens to the Provincial Museum at Halifax. (Mrs. Gerald Ward, mother of Mrs. Harold Chase, still living in Kentville is a granddaughter of Dr. W. B. Webster.)

Another son of Dr. Isaac Webster, was Henry B. Webster, an eminent lawyer of Kentville, who occupied "The Chestnuts", formerly the residence of his father, on the present site of The Cornwallis Inn. He was the father of dr. H. B. and Judge Barclay Webster, of Kentville.

Dr. Abraham Gesner, son of Col. Henry Gesner, Empire Loyalist, married Harriet, daughter of Dr. Isaac Webster. Dr. Gesner was a man of large scientific attainments. He published "Geology and Mineralogy of Nova Scotia", which led to his appointment as Provincial Geologist of the Province of New Brunswick. At Saint John, he established the Gesner Museum and obtained a patent for his discovery of Kerosene.

Col. Moore also had two grandchildren who married into the Webster family, Lavinia and Emeline Moore, sisters, married brothers, William and George R. Webster, descendants of Abraham Webster.

Most of the descendants of these unions have removed to the USA, but Col. Laurie Slack of New Minas (who carried on the Loyalist tradition through two World Wars) and Mrs. Harold Ward (Violet Webster), Berwick, are descendants who represent the union of the Loyalist stock with that of the N. E. Planters.


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