THE REGISTER

BERWICK, N.S.

WEDNESDAY EVENING

APRIL 13, 1927

MEN AND EVENTS OF 50 YEARS AGO.

BERWICK ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO

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Parker Homestead

When we commenced this series of sketches that is already longer drawn out than we anticipated, we placed our setting as appears in our heading – Men and Events of 50 Years Ago. Almost at once we discovered we were more ancient than we thought, and fell back to Confederation as a proper background for some good material. In a late issue we had to go back to 1852 for a good pen picture of the stage coach in the heyday of its glory. We are still looking back for a proper perspective, and now at the risk of wearying The Register we are going to make a new departure and commence at the beginning of things. However, there are compensations. We are now at a point where no one can call us to account. Our word is now s good as the other fellow’s. There are no witnesses to call, so what we say goes.

The following sketch of the life and activities of one who made perhaps a larger place in the community where he lived than any other, was published in the Halifax Herald on April 4th, as a centenary record of his coming to this place: -.

AN EMPIRE BUILDER ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO

On the fourth day of April, A. D., 1827, one Abel Parker with his wife, Susan Morse, moved from Aylesford to Currey’s Corner, in Pleasant Valley, Kings County. Currey’s Corner became the nucleus of the village and later Town of Berwick. Abel Parker was of English ancestry, his ancestors three generations back, coming from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia, settling in Nictaux, Annapolis County.

The farm to which he moved was of about three hundred acres, bought from a pioneer settler – Ebenezer Condon. A small house and log stable were the only buildings in sight. The house was unfinished, the roof shingled, the walls boarded up and down were quite open, and snow and rain beat through many cracks into the house. Some of the boards were split from logs and dressed with an axe. The spring of 1827 was a remarkable one. When the family arrived here on that April morning, all appearance of winter was gone and the roads were dry and dusty. A few days later there came a great snow storm and three weeks of real winter weather. The family had brought a flock of sheep, and the young lambs were sheltered in the kitchen of the house. Only one acre of land had been broken with the plow. The roads and fields were enclosed with log fences and the country ‘round was practically an unbroken forest.

There were three or four other houses in the neighborhood, the nearest a few hundred rods away. Here the new arrivals sent in haste for a burning brand to light their kitchen fire. Such was the settling of the family who started in to wrest a home from the wilderness. The subject of this sketch from the first exerted a powerful influence in the community that henceforth was to be his home. Feeling his own lack of education, he early determined that his children and neighbor’s children should have a better opportunity than had been his. The first schoolhouse was built on a lot given by Mr. Parker, and the present school – also on land that was a part of this old homestead. He was one of the promoters of Acadia College, subscribing liberally of his means in the building of that institution, as is shown by the Abel Parker Scholarship endowed by him and still on the records of Acadia. A staunch Baptist, Abel Parker was active in the organization of the Second Cornwallis Baptist Church in 1829, and the old Pleasant Valley Meeting House was built a few years later. He was made a Deacon of the young church and as Deacon he took a leading interest in the religious life of the community. The Church edifice in Berwick was built in 1859, and in that capacity Deacon Abel Parker served to the end of his life.

The hospitality of the home knew no limit. Before the day of railroads or stage coaches, that old homestead was widely known as a free house of entertainment for all comers. The Hardings, Mannings, Crawley and Pryor, Attorney-General Johnson and many of their contemporaries in religion and politics were entertained in this country home. Five sons and three daughters were born and grew to maturity in the old homestead, and all settled in homes in Nova Scotia and helped to build up the land of their nativity. One of the sons became a preacher of the Gospel, one a medical doctor, one a merchant and two farmers. Of the daughters, two became farmers wives and the other married a minister. Of the second generation there are twenty-seven living; of these fourteen are making their homes in Nova Scotia and thirteen in the United States. If the spirit of Abel Parker could look down on the farm of three hundred acres on which he settled one hundred years ago he might see in place of the forest primeval, a forest of orchard, garden and meadow; he would see in place of the rough shack where he commenced his work, some eighteen homes all comfortable, and some luxurious, the homes of a prosperous and contented people.

Abel Parker lived to see Canadian Confederation consummated with his children – stalwart men and women – settled in comfortable homes, ready to carry on the burden that he laid down. In 1868 he passed over to the Land where he expected to spend an Eternity in a bigger, broader and better Service. "He rests from his labours and his works do follow him."" We will leave him here. Those whom he left to follow him will demand more space than we now have available.

Now one takes some risk in butting in on a family quarrel; the erstwhile opponents are liable to jointly turn and rend one. One has been enjoying this Waterville vendetta in which Pete Lawson, Jim Sanford and others have been carrying on an internecine warfare. One has had some journalistic encounters with Pete in the past and found that when one tackles a journalist on his own ground the journalist, win or lose, will always have the last word. Now H. B. White "comes to bat" and one thoroughly enjoyed seeing him wipe up the mat with Pete and Jim, but when it comes to gloating over beating Berwick in spelling match, why that’s a different proposition. If H. B. W. had added to the Berwick breaks on "aborigines" and "icicle," the fellow who spelled "idiosyncrasy" with a "c," he would have got one dead easy. However, we always considered Waterville a suburb of Berwick, so these victories always seemed a part of the home winnings.

When H. B. White says the advent of Thomas Lawson to Waterville was an eventful happening, he speaks truly. Tom Lawson, Jr., may not have been big enough to get on the Mounted Rifles, but he is big enough to fill a large place in the Finance Department of Canada.

Wonderful how many big places in this world are filled by Nova Scotia boys. A few days ago, when Hon, W. D. Ross, the Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, was banquetted by Nova Scotians resident at Ottawa, as Chairman sat Sir Robert Borden, Statesman and once Prime Minister, born in Grand Pre. Around the table sat Thomas Lawson of the Finance Department, born at Grafton; Judge Newcomb, formerly Deputy Minister of Justice, whose mother’s home was on Main Street, Berwick; J. C. Saunders, Deputy Minister of Finance, born in the old Baptist Parsonage, Berwick, with several other Kings County men whose names one has forgotten.

S. C. PARKER.

(To be continued)


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