The Chignecto Project
Call Number cwa-etext-7
Document Title A History of Beaver Brook 1760 to 1959
Main Subject Nova Scotia--Economic conditions--19th century; Nova
Area Scotia--Settlement; Nova Scotia--Social conditions--History; Beaver Brook (Colchester County).
Document Author Women's Institutes of Nova Scotia (Beaver Brook Branch)
Added Entries Sheppard, Virginia McCuin
Document Source Edition used: A HISTORY OF BEAVER BROOK, WOMEN'S INSTITUTES OF NOVA SCOTIA, 1959.
Contributed by Viriginia McCuin Sheppard; Women's Institutes of Nova Scotia, Randal W. Oulton on
Suggested Women's Institutes of Nova Scotia (Beaver Brook Branch):
citation Sheppard, Virginia McCuin. "A History of Beaver Brook 1760 to 1959".
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A History of Beaver Brook, 1760 to 1959
Compiled by: The Beaver Brook Branch of the Women's Institutes of Nova Scotia, 1959
*Chignecto Project Electronic Edition, January 1999.*
Edition used: A HISTORY OF BEAVER BROOK, WOMEN'S INSTITUTES OF NOVA SCOTIA, 1959.
The references used in compiling the first century of this history of Beaver Brook are as follows: A copy of Miller's History loaned by George Loughead; the book published by the Colchester Historical Society; a map of Colchester County dated 1864; records and deeds, etc. which belonged to John Sanderson Snr. and to Captain John Sanderson and now in possession of Mrs. Murray MacNaughton who very kindle made them available; and The History of Clifton Congregation by Ruth McCurdy Byers.
For the more recent history, many people were interviewed and the information they imparted was of great help and very much appreciated. There were far too many to name them all but a few should be mentioned and one of these is Rufus Burgess, now of Bible Hill, who was born in Old Barns 92 years ago and lived in the vicinity of Beaver Brook for many years; and also Mrs. Carrie White, a native of Beaver Brook now living in Truro; and Miss Eda Nelson of Truro. Two others who gave a great deal of help were Frank Yuill and Bert Crowe of Beaver Brook.
It should also be mentioned that often conflicting versions of an event were given. However, it was always found that one particular version would be repeated by many people and in each case that is the one used.
A History of Beaver Brook
The homes in the present village of Beaver Brook, in Central Nova Scotia, lie scattered along both sides of the brook from which the village gets its name. This brook rises in the hills about five miles south of the Cobequid Bay and flows northward through a narrow valley until it is joined about three miles from its source by another brook which flows rapidly down from the hills back of Wyman Yuill's home. Sometimes referred to now as the Chris Brook, this was formerly known as the Marshall Brook. From this point the brook glides quietly on between narrow intervales for another two miles and then it changes its course paralleling the highway and passes back of Elmer Yuill's farm before it crosses the marsh and thence empties into the Bay near its eastern extremity.
Back of the intervales, or east and west of the brook, are ranges of low hills which are mostly wooded even to this day although many of the lower slopes are cleared and cultivated fields. Still other farms which were laboriously cleared by the pioneers are regrown now in forests and only a few old planks of foundation stones remain to mark their building sites.
Beaver Brook was so named by the first settlers because of the many beaver dams along the brook and these dams provided a much larger stream of water than is the case today. Atlantic salmon were once caught in the flume of a mill pond on the Marshall Brook and these ponds abounded with large trout.
Old Barns now forms the northern boundary of Beaver Brook with the line just north of the home of Sylvester McCallum, which is perhaps a half mile south of the Bay, but it is likely that in early times the shore line was much closer to Beaver Brook. The southern boundary lies just south of the home of Clifford Burrows and adjoins the community of Green Oak. East of Beaver Brook lies a heavily forested area extending about four miles through to Pleasant Valley and Hilden. Two Villages lie close to our western line. About one-half mile south of Old Barns, a road leads westward to Black Rock, the boundary line here being the first railway crossing. About three miles farther south another road winds westward up the hills to Princeport and here again the railway forms the western boundary.
The road from Old Barns through Beaver Brook to Green Oak runs mostly in a southerly course although for the first half mile it is a little west of south and as it nears Green Oak it swings slightly to the east. For about the first half of the way from Old Barns the road lies to the east of the brook. It crosses first Marshall Brook and then Beaver Brook a few yards east of the point where they join and soon after climbs the hills toward Green Oak, keeping parallel to the brook but nearly a quarter mile away from it.
This area just described was probably well known to the Micmac Indians who once lived and travelled along the Cobequid Bay and up the Shubenacadie and Stewiacke Rivers. The Indians were gone by the time the English settlers cam to this area, but there was an Indian burial ground at Savage Island, eastward along the Bay from the mouth of Beaver Brook and the whole area is rich in Indian legend. So doubtless many a swarthy brave paddle a canoe along the brook or, boy and arrow ready, stalked his prey across the forested hills.
The first white* settlers in the vicinity of Beaver Brook were the Acadians who came about 1688 and remained until their expulsion in 1755. One would have to consult the Archives in France to be sure of the boundaries of the grant of the Cobequid Seigneury, but as the mouth of the Shubenacadie River forms a natural boundary, it is believed that the seigneury extended that far west and therefore included what is now Beaver Brook. The actual Acadian settlement was just across the border in Old Barns which gets it name from the two or three French barns still standing when the English settlers came in 1760. It is not known now if any clearing extended into Beaver Brook, but certainly the brook, and this area generally, would be familiar to these Acadian people. *(Spelled while in original text).
The first recorded history of Beaver Brook is to be found in the Provincial Archives in Halifax and consists of surveyors' maps which mark off the grants of land in Truro Township for the English settlers who came in 1760 to occupy the farms left vacant by the French. Truro Township has as its western boundary a base line drawn from a point on the Bay shore about four miles east of the Shubenacadie River and extending southward along the Beaver Brook for four miles. Part of this baseline can be traced out today. For many years the area bounded on the west by this base line was called Truro, then Upper and Lower Villages of Truro. Finally the Lower Village of Truro was divided into the Villages of Beaver Brook, Old Barns and Lower Truro, but the first history of Truro Township includes all of these villages.
Miller tells us that in the fall of 1759 about twenty men came to Truro and Onslow from New England to prepare for settling the vacant French farms. This was encouraged by Governor Lawrence of Halifax who had planned a series of forts and military highways to protect this are. Most of these men had been in Nova Scotia before to help drive out the French. They built small houses in the area before going home and in the spring of 1760 they returned to Truro with their families. They were able to grow potatoes this first summer as there were cleared fields and also quantities of manure for fertilizer where some of the Acadian barns had been.
In the fall of 1760 all the women but one returned to New England, but they came back in the spring of 1761 and other settlers came with them. They endured much hardship for two or three years and in 1762 Governor Belcher asked the House of Assembly to give provisions and seed grain to the Truro and Onslow people as they needed help badly.
In 1763 there were sixty families in the Truro Township and in the next two years ten more families had come, attracted by the fertile marshes, intervales and upland of the area. In 1765 the Government gave a grant of the whole of the Township of Truro which contained about eighty thousand acres of land. It was divided among about seventy persons in "Rights", most men being given a whole Right of one thousand acres, some a half Right of five hundred acres and others two Rights. This grant signed by Governor Wilmot is dated October 31, 1765.
In 1761 the area was by an act included in the county of Halifax but had no representative until 1766 when David Archibald Esq. took his seat in the Assembly. Truro remained a part of the county of Halifax until about 1835 when the district of Colchester became a county.
The first name on the Truro grant was that of James Yuill, Esq. who was given a Right of one thousand acres along the western base line with a shore frontage, and his son James, then thirteen years old, was given five hundred acres next to him. These grants extended southward for four miles and included most of what is now Beaver Brook. In many deeds dated about 1800 the western base line is referred to as the "west line of Old Barns land, so called" and the line along the south side of this grant as the "end of Old Barns land".
James Yuill Esq. and his family had settled on this land in 1761 when they had come from New England. His house was near the old Acadian barns, being where Ira Crowe now lives and his son James' house was where Earl White now lives. These old barns nearby were left standing for many years as they served as a guide when crossing the ford from Fort Belcher to Old Barns at low tide.
James Yuill Esq. was born in Clydesdale, Scotland in 1717 and his wife, Jane Bailey, was born in 1721. He was a merchant and manufacturer of snuff but finding his business not too profitable he moved to Boston in 1753 continuing in the same business there as he did also when he came to Truro Township.
The only children of James Yuill Esq. and his wife, Jane, to reach adulthood was their son, James, born in Scotland in 1752, and a daughter, Jane, born in Boston in 1757. James married Eleanor Mahon of Londonderry in 1776. Jane married Thomas Gourley in 1779 and went to live on his grant in Lower Truro where they raised seven sons and six daughters.
James Yuill Esq. soon began to sell some of his land to settlers. His signature is on a deed, among the Sanderson papers, which gave to James Davidson, yeoman, in 1776, for 30 pounds a lot of four acres. This was bounded on the east and south sides by Yuill land but on the west by land belonging to John Oughterson and on the north by James Rutherford. These two lots must have been sold prior to 1776 by Yuill to Oughterson and Rutherford. All three of these lots were in what is now Beaver Brook.
Jane Bailey Yuill died in 1804 and James Yuill, Esq. in 1807 and they were buried in the Robie Street Cemetery, Truro. Miller says their property was left to John Yuill, the oldest grandson.
James and Eleanor Yuill had a family of seven sons and three daughters. The sons John, William, James, George, Andrew, Samuel and Jacob all lived to be over seventy years, all married and had children. Their three daughters, Jane, Elizabeth and Eleanor all married but Elizabeth died shortly after her marriage. Eleanor had ten children. Jane had fourteen children and will be mentioned later.
John Yuill, who inherited his grandfather's property, lived on the homestead part which is where Ira Crowe now lives. William Yuill went to live at Great Village. James Yuill inherited the homestead part of his father's property, where Earl White lives now, and later Charles, his fourth son, inherited it and lived there.
George Yuill's share of the property was the farm now owned by his great grandson, Elmer Yuill. George Yuill left it to his only son Isaac. Next is was owned by Peter Yuill, one of Isaac Yuill's three sons and now Peter's son Elmer Yuill lives there, making the fifth generation of the family to continuously own this property since it was granted in 1765.
Andrew Yuill also inherited some of his father's property, probably the farm belonging to the late Smith Yuill or near there. Jacob, the youngest son of James and Eleanor Yuill received a piece of land near the shore, probably where Allison McCurdy now lives.
Samuel Yuill's land was where Ruthven Stewart now lives and also included the lot which is now Christ Church property. His son Hezekiah remained on this property while another son Joseph, who was a blacksmith, lived across the road. The third son of Samuel, named James, married Catherine Dillman of Musquodoboit and located near the source of one branch of the Marshall Brook. They had two daughters and three sons, Angus, Christopher and Dillman.
Christopher remained on his father's farm until his youngest child, now Suella Tanner, was five years old and then moved to Old Barns. Dillman lived for a time in Green's Creek and then bought a farm from Mrs. Mattie Crowe. He bought a house, built by Joseph Crowe, tore it down and rebuilt the frame to make a house to replace the old one on the property. This was the home, until recently, of his son Frank Yuill and is now occupied by a grandson, Wyman Yuill and family, while Frank Yuill and his wife live in a new house on the property.
Besides the six of the seven Yuill boys who settled near the home of their parents James and Eleanor Yuill, there were many grandsons who settled nearby. A map of 1864 shows ten Yuill Families between what are now Elmer Yuill's and Earl White's homes. There were four other families in this area as well as a shore shop and a blacksmith shop. There are the same number of houses in this area today although few of the originals are left and only the one is occupied by a Yuill.
In all of Beaver Brook today, the only descendants of James Yuill Esq. to have the Yuill name are Elmer Yuill, Frank Yuill and Wyman Yuill and family. There are other descendants, however, for James Loughead, the progenitor of all the Lougheads in this area, came from Pictou and in 1793 married Jane, the oldest daughter of James and Eleanor Yuill. They bought a farm from Charles Nelson, Old Barns, in 1809 and there they brought up their large family of five boys and nine girls.
Their oldest boy John Loughead was born in 1794 and in 1820 married Margaret MacLellan and moved to Beaver Brook where he cleared the farm and built the large house in which his grandson, Fred Loughead, now lives. This is the second oldest house in Beaver Brook and has a huge central chimney, with a fireplace in nearly every room.
John Loughead and his first wife, Margaret, had a family of five sons and two daughters. Three of the sons remained in Beaver Brook, John Robert having the homestead, William building the house recently sold by his son, George, to William Stokdyk; and Joseph who built and lived in the house now owned by Leonard Biddle.
Fred Laughead, son of John Robert Loughead, stayed on the homestead farm and married Annie Crowe. Of their five sons and four daughters, two sons, Smith and Robert live in Beaver Brook as does a daughter, now Marion Dearmond, several grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. There are also descendants of two of John Robert Loughead's daughters, Elizabeth and Martha living here now. They are Elizabeth's daughter, Susan Cox, her son Frank and his children and two of Martha's children, Etta and Eugenie Crowe.
Even before Beaver Brook was being settled by the descendants of James and Eleanor Yuill there were areas along the brook being cleared for farms by men who had bought land from James Yuill Esq. Some time before 1776 James Rutherford had settled on the farm now owned by John Blaauwendratt, but then including other adjoining land. He sold his farm in 1786 following the death of his first wife, and moved to Middle Stewiacke. Miller tells of him that when his neighbors argued that it was the work of necessity to house grain on the Sabbath in brittle weather, he replied, "Cannot you trust him who sends wet to wet it, to send wind to dry it again?"
Some time about 1850 a descendant of his, Thomas Rutherford, came to Beaver Brook and married Margaret Parke whose father gave her a cow and a bed for a dowry. Mr. Rutherford, built a house on a foundation of a house previously owned by a Yuill and located where Seymour Creelman now lives. He was a blacksmith and his shop was near the house. About thirty years later Mr. Rutherford and his family moved away from Beaver Brook.
Another person who owned land in Beaver Brook before 1776 was John Oughterson whose northern boundary line adjoined some of the Rutherford property. Miller says that John Oughterson was among the early settlers of Truro Township, but does not say where he lived but does tell that he married Margaret Johnson of Lower Village. They had three sons and three daughters, all of whom moved away from home. Margaret Oughterson died in 1791 and John Oughterson died in 1831, aged 88 years.
Thomas Crowe Snr. came from Ireland with his father, five brothers and one sister when he was about 16 years old. He went with his family to live at Windsor but with his wife, Sarah Barnhill, came to Beaver Brook in 1786 and bought the farm of James Rutherford. Miller says that Mr. and Mrs. Crowe lived the rest of their lives in a house which stood in a field later owned by Mr. Yuill, on the south side of the road leading to the Shubenacadie River. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Crowe Snr. had three sons and six daughters, the last two being twins.
The three sons remained nearby, the oldest son, James, inheriting the homestead part of the property when his father died in 1801. He built a house near his father's and this house is the oldest in Beaver Brook, having apparently been built some time before James Crowe married Sarah Wilson in 1813. This house is now occupied by John Blaauwendratt and family and except for the installation of modern conveniences has undergone no major repairs or changes. The original shingles over birch bark are still on one wall and most of the stone foundation is still intact.
Thomas Stinson Crowe inherited this property from his father and divided it between two sons, Stuart and Ed. Ed. Crowe had the homestead where he lived with his wife Lou Forbes and raised his family. Later he sold this farm to Everard Clarke, whose son John later sold it to John Blaauwendratt. Ed E. Crowe moved to his wife's old home, also in Beaver Brook. Descendants of his in Beaver Brook are Mrs. Anne Cox and her children.
Stuart Crowe chose a building site on his property and from this spot he cleared the trees and built his house among the stumps. His wife, Martha Loughead, used to pick strawberries in season around the stumps in the yard and nearby gulch. Still living in that house are two daughters, Etta and Eugenie Crowe, and other members of this large family live in Truro and vicinity.
The third son of Thomas and Sarah Crowe Snr. named Thomas married Letetia Crowe in 1814 and moved farther up the brook where he cleared the farm and built a house in the area between the Princeport and Green Oak roads. One son, Joseph, remained on this farm but built a house nearby, which was later taken down and rebuilt by Dillman Yuill.
Joseph Crowe's two sons, Henry and Watson lived nearby. Henry married Mary Mattatall, affectionately known to the community as Aunt Mary Crowe, who maintained an active and helpful interest in all the village affairs until her death at the age of 92 years. Two of Henry and Mary Crowe's daughters married Beaver Brook men -- Annie married Fred Loughead and Lina, now Mrs. Ervin Pendleton, married Everard Parke.
Watson Crowe married Margaret Mattatall and they later bought the farm of Thom Rutherford from Davison Murray who had lived there for a time. One son Bert Crowe lives in Beaver Brook. A daughter, Mrs. Amy Creelman, recently went to live with her brother Ira Crowe in Old Barns but her son Seymour Creelman and family live on this property.
Joseph, the second son of Thomas Crowe Snr., lived down the Black Rock road a short distance. His oldest daughter Rebecca, Miller tells us, was born in 1807 and in 1825 married John Parke and they had three sons and six daughters. According to legend John A. Parke, Snr., who had come from Ireland, rode along the trail through Beaver Brook with his wife behind him on horseback. He chose a place for a home and there cleared away the forest to make the farm owned today by Wilfred McCallum. The three sons mentioned by Miller were John Alexander (Sandy), Joseph and William while the six daughters were Letty, Eunice, Sally, Barbara, Margaret and Minerva. Margaret was the one who married Thom Rutherford. Sandy remained at home as did his son Everard who married Lina Crowe. Earl, son of Everard and Lina Parke, sold the homestead in 1946 and with his wife and two children moved to a farm near Amherst.
William Parke moved up the brook and cleared a farm adjoining that of Alexander Sanderson. Here he built a sawmill, the second to be set up in Beaver Brook. This farm later was bought from his son-in-law, Frank Creelman, *by Thomas Burgess of Old Barns who married Jessie Dartt, Green Oak. They had a large family, several of whom live in Beaver Brook or nearby. * [Handwritten notation at the bottom of page 13 - 'By a lumber Co. (Mr. Lewis etc) S. H. Crowe was the next owner then Thomas B.]
Joseph Parke lived in a house made of the Orange Lodge Hall which was moved from the hollow where Billy Murray now lives to a site at the end of the Princeport road. Later he traded this property for one on Beech Hill owned by Jobb Creelman, who later sold to his brother Kenneth who married Gertrude Crowe. Their son, Eugene Creelman left this farm vacant when he and family moved to Ontario about 1950.
About 1797, John Sanderson Snr. originally from Cullen, Scotland, came from Pictou and began to buy up property in Old Barns, Beaver Brook and Green's Creek. With his wife, Nancy, he settled on the farm now owned by Andy Harpman although he owned a great deal more property in Beaver Brook. He is known to have had four sons, born from about 1797 to 1807, although there may have been other children. These boys were William, James, Alexander and John.
William settled first on the hill farm later owned by Charles Archibald then moved to the shore. Later he traded the shore farm for one in Green's Creek where he and his wife lived for the rest of their lives.
James and his wife Martha lived in a house which was recently town down and was once known as the Billy Wilson house. This was near the house where William Stokdyk lives.
Alexander Sanderson, born in 1804, married Agnes Green and cleared the farm now owned by Clifford Burrows. One son William Alexander (Billy) born 1847 remained at home and married Mary Crowe who died at the birth of a daughter Mary. Of their several children, Mary who lives in California, is the only one who survives. Billy Sanderson moved with his family to Bible Hill about 1909 and in 1927 was killed, at the age of 80, when his team of horses bolted and threw him from the wagon. Two grandsons, Clayton and William, live in Bible Hill.
Scott Fulton, who bought the farm from Billy Sanderson, sold it in 1912 to Mr. and Mrs. Fred Burris who raised their four sons and four daughters here before they moved to another home in Beaver Brook in 1945.
Captain John Sanderson, born in 1807, married Catherine Wilson and in 1834 bought the homestead part of his father's property. John Sanderson Snr. and his wife had for a short while lived in a log cabin on this property but soon built a house which burned many years later. John Sanderson Snr. died in 1845 and his wife in 1849 and they were buried in the old cemetery (as were Alexander, James and John and their wives).
Captain and Mrs. Sanderson's children were Rebecca, Olive, Jane, Margaret, Nancy and Isaac. Rebecca married a Barnhill and two of their children, William and Bertha, live in Truro. Nancy married a Dickson and lived in Truro. Olive and Margaret died when about twenty. Isaac who remained at home, married a Fulton girl from Fort Ellis. He died childless at the age of 92 in 1946 and left the farm to Mr. and Mrs. Murray MacNaughton, who sold it to Andy Harpman.
Descendants of John and Nancy Sanderson, Snr. are Frank Yuill, his son Wyman and children, for Frank Yuill's mother was a Sanderson from Green's Creek and her ancestry goes back to William Sanderson Snr., the first Sanderson to live there.
In 1835 John Sanderson Snr. bought from the heirs of James Davidson the four acres of land which Davidson had bought in 1776 from James Yuill Esq. It is not known now if Davidson had lived on this land through he probably did.
Another early settler who sold out to John Sanderson Snr. in 1835 was Captain John Davis and his wife Eleanor who had several years earlier bought land near the Marshall Brook from Jacob Yuill. There is still the old cellar to mark the site of the house which Captain Davis built and lived in on this property. A descendant of his was Dr. David G. Davis for many years Principal of the Nova Scotia Normal College.
Shortly after 1800 Anthony Marshall came to Beaver Brook and cleared a home by the brook which bears his name and here his children, John, Robert, James, Walter, George, Margaret, Susan, Ann and Jennie were born. Ann remained at home and kept house after the death of her mother. The boys settled near their father with Walter Marshall living where the Vincents now live. George moved with his wife and sons to a house, gone now, by the new cemetery and lived there for a few years before moving to a farm on the shore road. The other three lived along the Marshall Brook and raised their families there. No descendants of Anthony Marshall live in Beaver Brook today although Mrs. Carrie White of Truro and Mrs. Scott Curtis of Lower Truro are daughters of John Marshall. Robert Marshall also had a large family of eight boys and several girls, spoken of by some of the older folk here as the finest family to ever grow up in Beaver Brook. The Marshalls of Beaver Brook were large in number at one time and whenever the older folk speak of their childhood they have a story to tell of the Marshalls.
One of these concerns John Marshall who at one time operated a scow on the Bay for John Alexander. One day he left it, loaded with coal, tied up at McNutt's Creek, Lower Truro, while he went in to Truro. During his absence the tide went out and deposited the scow on the quicksand-like mud flats. When John Marshall returned it had settled nearly out of sight. All efforts to raise it failed and it was never recovered. when the two men later squared their accounts, Mr. Marshall found that Mr. Alexander had charged against him: "1 scow and load of coal that went to hell".
A few years ago, Woodbury, a son of John Marshall, came home from the west. He asked Frank Yuill if any of the timbers of Anthony Marshall's barn were still around. One spruce sill and been used as a post in one of the Yuill buildings and a piece of this was given to Mr. Marshall. Reid Yuill sawed this wood on the Yuill mill to get boards of the proper grain. With these Mr. Marshall made three violins. Those who later saw and heard these played say they have an excellent tone.
A settler who must have come about the time of Anthony Marshall was a man by the name of Naust, although all that is known of him today is that John Marshall bought and lived in a house on the Marshall Brook owned by this man.
Later comers to Beaver Brook were Mr. and Mrs. Charles Archibald who came from Salmon River about the year 1860. Charles Archibald was the grandson of Samuel, second oldest of the four Archibald brothers who were grantees of Truro Township. Mr. and Mrs. Archibald and their four sons, Asa, Samuel, Charles and David and six daughters, Eleanor, Miriam, Margaret, Mary, Nancy and Julia settled on a farm owned earlier by William Sanderson.
Miriam Archibald was a nurse who worked in the U.S.A. but spent her vacations at home and retired to live with her sister, Margaret, in a house which was situated on the farm now owned by William Stokdyk. Samuel Archibald died in the diphtheria epidemic. Eleanor married a Harris boy from the farm near the Archibalds and they went to Arizona. Little is known now of this family of early settlers but the land on which they lived is called the Harris farm yet for nobody has lived there for years.
Charles W. Archibald remained on the farm and a son of his also Charles William (Billy) remained on this farm until his death at an early age, but his widow, Liney Archibald, still lives here and his only daughter, now Harriet Faulkner, lives at Black Rock.
About forty years ago, Billy Archibald and a brother Ralph moved a house, built by a Bradley chap, from Princeport to replace the old house on their farm. They put skids under the house and with the help of several teams of horses, their teamsters and dozens of volunteers, the house was moved down the Princeport road, along the intervale, crossing the brook here and there. The last lap up the steep hill to their destination caused some anxious moments but the whole trip was made without mishap and this is the present house on the place.
Other people who lived in Beaver Brook over a hundred years ago were the Forbes families. Francis Forbes lived first in a house, long since gone, located across the Black Rock road from the old Cemetery. He later built the house where the Burgess boys now live, this house being near his shoe shop. A daughter, Susie Forbes, sold the house to Murray Burgess years later.
Theodore Forbes lived where Mr. and Mrs. Bills Lynds now do. Later his daughter Lou and her husband Ed Crowe lived here after selling their farm.
Bob Cassidy married a Hamilton girl and they lived in the house he built on the site of the old schoolhouse. Bob Cassidy was a blacksmith and also was a trustee of the school for many years. This house has had many occupants over the years and is at present owned by Donnie Loughead.
The farm now owned by Arch Cox and his son, Frank, is made up of three properties. The homestead part was originally owned by David Bradley. He gave it to his son, Allen, who built the house there before his marriage. Later he sold out to his sister and brother-in-law, Susan and Arch Cox. The fields across the road from the house once belonged to the Joe Crowe property and a back lot was the farm of a Creelman family.
Two brothers, Will and Davison Murray, came from New Annan and married two Crowe girls, an aunt and niece. Will Murray lived in part of Dillman Yuill's house. At first Davison Murray lived where Seymour Creelman now lives, but later moved to the house where Henry Pemberton lives.
David Smith, a ship's carpenter, built the house where Bob Loughead now lives and lived there for many years.
Harris Lynds, father of Perley Lynds, had a farm now nearly regrown in forests. It was quite a distance east of the main road, the lane being north of Leonard Biddle's home. Few of the younger generation are aware that there was once a home there.
Other farms now deserted are all those up the Marshall Brook which were cleared by the Marshalls and James Yuill. Some of these fields have reverted to woodlot and the others used mainly for pasture. All teachers in Beaver Brook are aware of the old orchard on the 'Chris Yuill place' although most of them have never seen it. At lease once every fall the Yuills make a noon-time pilgrimage to this orchard and return laden with the fruit these old neglected trees still produce in abundance.
The last family of children to grow up on one of the now vacant farms along the Marshall Brook was that on Mr. and Mrs. Frank McNutt who later lived for a time in the house now owned by Sylvester McCallum. Some of the members of this large family live in nearby communities.
The early settlers came to Truro Township from New England by ship. These ships were small enough to be anchored near the mouth of Salmon River, for the bridge there is named by the fact that boards for the first homes were landed there. Along with the lumber would be provisions for many months, household equipment including the indispensable loom, implements and livestock for their farms.
"In 1760 the committees of Onslow and Truro requested aid in cutting trees between the several lakes that lie between Fort Sackville and their townships and the council advised that provisions be allowed them while actually employed in the work". This, via Shubenacadie would provide a route partly by water and partly overland to Halifax, their only source of provisions in Nova Scotia. An overland horseback trail must have been marked out before many years but in 1786 a journey from Halifax to Pictou took eight days and only the first nineteen miles of the trip boasted a road. In 1828 a road on the 'level road system' was begun and completed about 1840 but earlier, in 1809, the first wheeled vehicle made the trip from Halifax to Truro bringing the Lieutenant Governor, Sir George Provost, on his was to Pictou. Soon after a few carriages were to be found in Truro but they did not become common for many years.
This early lack of roads made the people dependent on the water route which was long and impassable in winter, but this need sparked the building of schooners in the area and the first record of shipbuilding dates back to about 1797.
Because of the uncertain and difficult transportation, the people were for a great part dependent on their own resources. They grew flax for their linen cloth and kept enough sheep to provide their wool. Doubtless they depended on the forest for their sugar from maples and for much of their meat. In 1770 and for many years after, only three men in Truro Township owned a pair of boots. The other men, women and children went barefoot in summer and wore moccasins made of moosehide in winter and probably wooden sabots in muddy weather. Even in the early 19th century boots and shoes were hard to come by and once Anthony Marshall undertook to make a pair for his daughter Ann. She looked the finished article over carefully, then remarked, "Twould be no sin to worship these for they bear no likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath."
Perhaps here should be mentioned the appearance of these people dressed in clothes of their own manufacture. The men with beards and pigtails wore on week days their "checked shirts and long trousers but no shoes or stockings". On Sundays "they dress exceeding gay and they wear the finest cloth of linen. Many of them wear ruffled shirts."
The women wore "woollen petticoats, aprons and jackets on weekdays, but in summer went without stockings and many without caps. On Sunday they dressed in silks and calicoes with long ruffles; their hair dressed high and many without caps but all with fans." Probably their Sunday finery came with them from New England and was carefully kept for special occasions.
For many years then, the people were cut off from easy access to sources of provisions and even well on into the nineteenth century Anthony Marshall and others made a spring and fall trip by horseback to Halifax for supplies.
The first road through the township from Truro down the shore and up Beaver Brook followed the high land away from the swamps which meant that from about the mouth of the Black Rock road to Wilfred McCallum's farm the road was along the side of the hill east of the present road and also east of the homes now owned by Leonard Biddle and Bill Stokdyk and turned sharply westward to cross the brook* near the road leading to Princeport. [Spelled book on page 23.]
Apparently this road existed until about 1854 because that year John Sanderson gave Joseph Loughead (who lived where Leonard Biddle does now) a right of way from his house to the new main road, stipulating that it be kept fenced on the north and east sides. In early years most roads were built and kept in repair by statute labor but the government did grant some funds. In 1848 John Sanderson was appointed a commissioner by Joseph Howe to spend Four Pounds on repairing the road from his place "to Shubenacadie past John Creelman's". Later he was given $20.00 in 1860 and $15.00 in 1864 to repair the Beaver Brook road to Phillip's settlement. It must have been at this time that the present Black Rock road from the cemetery on to the shore was opened. In 1864 and again in 1865 the sum of $12.00 each year was granted "to open the road from the Old road near Hill above the Beaver Brook meeting house to Shore road."
As time went on the road was improved but it still provided a rather hazardous drive for Dr. Dave Muir, who drove the first car over it and terrified some of the inhabitants by offering them a drive. The first person in Beaver Brook to own a car was Ed Crowe whose acquisition of one about 1920 introduced this new method of transportation to the people of this community.
For many years after cars became common, it was the accepted practice to stow them away for winter and go back to jogging behind Old Dobbin. Then with the advent of snow plows the cars could travel all year with the exception of some springs when spots became boggy. In 1957 the northern part of the Beaver Brook road was paved.
The railroad between Halifax and Truro was completed by about 1858 and this meant most goods could be obtained in Truro. It was not until about 1900 that a railroad went through Beaver Brook passing along the western boundary. For many years this railway provided a passenger service, but of late years people find their cars more convenient than the train.
Very few letters were received by the early settlers in Beaver Brook although John Sanderson Snr. received one soon after he came here. It was from relatives in Scotland and has been kept by the family. Most of those early letters were in connection with their business and how these letters were delivered is not known.
About 1837 Ebenezer Archibald settled at Clifton House, Old Barns, where Arthur Creelman now lives. He carried mail and passengers from Shubenacadie to Truro and had a post office at his home. Later the mail was taken by coach from Black Rock to Truro, with a service to Beaver Brook, Green Oak and Princeport by the family of Captain Samuel Nelson. The first post office was at the home of James Smith for a time and then at Davison Murray's. The mail was brought around to the post offices every other day. In 1914 the rural route was established with the first mailman being Ed Stewart although Albert Prodger and Bert Crowe each had a turn as mailman during his term. Later Bert Archibald took over this route and he was followed by Seymour Yuill. About six years ago Walter Dearmond took over part of this route.
About 1900 the first phones in the area were installed. This first was at C. E. Crowe's store. Then James McCurdy and Ed Crowe were next to have one. Mrs. Millie Loughead, daughter of Ed Crowe, recalls that people from all around came to phone the doctor or send other urgent messages, but in time others got phones. In 1957 this area became a part of the Truro exchange with a changeover to the dial system.
The first radio in Beaver Brook was a crystal set built about 1922 by John Clarke, his brother Jim and Hedley Kent. The case for it was made by Otis Crowe. This set, requiring earphones, attracted many listeners, some of whom thought the whole thing was a hoax.
For many years candles and the fireplace provided the artificial lighting and doubtless thousands of candles were made by the women in this village whose descendants would not have the foggiest notion of how a candle is made. Here, as elsewhere, candles gave way to the coal oil lamps which in turn were ousted by electricity. The power line went from Truro through to Beech Hill in 1930. Only three families in Beaver Brook wired their buildings for electricity at first. They were Ed Crowe, Stuart Crowe and Arch Cox, but others soon followed suit. It was not until 1950 that the line was extended to include the homes on the Green Oak road.
The industry of shipbuilding started in this area near the close of the eighteenth century. Beaver Brook, not being on the shore, has no history of shipyards but some of the Beaver Brook men worked at those in Princeport and Old Barns. Also there were many seamen and captains who grew up and lived in Beaver Brook and sailed the ships built nearby. One of these was an early settler, Captain John Davis.
The earliest record of shipbuilding in connection with this community is found among the Sandeson papers in the form of an agreement. Dated April 28, 1828, it is signed by William Sandeson, who named John Sandeson, of Beaver Brook, his attorney to transact business concerning their seventy-four ton schooner, the David Higgins. These two men jointly owned this "vesal" still unlaunched in the Lower Village of Truro. It had a fifty-four foot keel, eighteen and three-quarter foot breadth of beam, fifty-three and one-half foot length of deck with and eight and three-quarter foot depth of hold. It required a crew of three. It was then in the process of being registered at Halifax. The rigging and canvas, bought from Joshua Lee, Halifax, had cost ninety pounds, fifteen shillings and two pence and the men wished to use the vessel as security for this sum. William Sandeson could not conveniently go to Halifax just then so gave John Sandeson authority to sign all the papers.
The vessel was used in carrying cargo from ports in the Cobequid Bay to St. John, Eastport, New York, etc. Records, clearance papers and consul fee receipts show the return voyage was made in about two weeks including loading time. For several years the cargo to New England ports was almost invariably plaster amounting to just over one hundred tons a trip at an average price of $1.50 a ton. The return cargo was almost anything: flour, corn, molasses, tea, pork, codfish, pilot bread, apples, beans, cinnamon, pepper, ox chains, axes, bars of iron, jack-knife, candles, twine, leather, silk scarf, silk vest pattern, monkey jacket, child's shoes, men's fine shoes, crocks, canvas, brandy, kegs of powder, dolls and many other items.
The schooner did not sail during the winter months and the records are dated from early April until late in October. Some times a passenger was taken, for among the Sandeson papers is a letter written by James Corbet Jnr. of Five Islands and dated April 12, 1833. This letter is written on a piece of paper which was folded and sealed and the address, written on one side, is simply Capt. John Sandeson , Truro. The writer asks if Captain Sandeson is going early that season to New York or Boston as he would either like to go or send fifty pounds with which to buy flour and corn to be delivered at Five Islands. He asks for a reply telling whether he can go and where they can meet and adds that he would rather go with Captain Sandeson than any other.
On May 17, 1835, Captain Sandeson signed an agreement with John Goudge and Samuel McNutt, both of them Truro merchants. The David Higgins being staunch, tight and sound in every way and then tied at Savage's Creek, Truro, was to be prepared to receive a cargo from these merchants. They would bring it alongside and the captain would stow it away. The vessel would then proceed with all convenient speed to St. John, dispose of cargo, receive any freight offered in return and bring it to Savage's Creek if the tides were right. If not, the vessel could be anchored at Yuills' Island and unloaded there and for this trip the captain would receive forty pounds.
But, if the whole cargo was not sold in St. John then the captain must continue to Eastport, U.S.A., and if the cargo was disposed of there, go back to St. John for a return cargo which would be unloaded at Savage's Creek or Yuills' Island. A trip of this type would net fifty pounds.
If the cargo was not all sold at either St. John or Eastport, then it was to be taken to Halifax for disposal. The captain was to accept any cargo offered by the merchants for Goudge and McNutt. If there was room for extra cargo the captain could have the profit on it and the trip itself would net sixty-four pounds.
The merchants were allowed six days for loading and eight for unloading and any extra days would cost them thirty shillings a day. The penalty of non-performance of this agreement would be one hundred, twenty pounds.
It is not known how long this agreement remained in force but John Sandeson, a coastal captain, continued his voyages on the David Higgins for many years. His granddaughter, Miss Bertha Barnhill, has a pair of candlesticks he brought from New York and remembers her mother telling how the first oranges seen in Beaver Brook were brought from New York to the Sandeson family by their father.
Miss Barnhill also was told by her mother of a time when her father's vessel docked at a port near Amherst. While the schooner was being unloaded Captain Sandeson made an overland trip home on foot. When he reached Fort Belcher, weary and footsore, he was relieved to find the tide out, which enabled him to cross the Ford, and saved the long walk around the Bay before reaching Beaver Brook.
Some time about 1845 or later the David Higgins was coming up the Bay one foggy night. Captain Sandeson was asleep with the vessel in command of the first mate. Somewhere opposite the mouth of Pitchbrook, Princeport, the vessel struck a rock and was lost although the crew was saved. Captain Sandeson was very down-heartened over the loss of his vessel and no longer followed his career as a captain.
Another ship built nearby was the Enterprise owned by two of John Loughead's brothers, James and William. This ship was loaded with plaster at Pitchbrook, Princeport, and leaving port the 20th of May 1844, she sailed away into oblivion for no clue of her fate was ever learned. The twenty people on board were all from this area and the communities were all saddened by this great tragedy.
John Loughead of Beaver Brook lost a brother, a sister, a sister-in-law, two nieces and a nephew when the Enterprise disappeared. Isaac Sandeson often told the story of how his father, John Sandeson, had consented to go as captain of the Enterprise on this her maiden voyage, but became violently ill on the eve of her departure and the vessel sailed without him.
The last man in the Clifton area to get a master mariner's certificate was Captain William Wallace Marshall who was born in Beaver Brook in 1883 and lived there as a boy. He was the son of George Marshall and his adventurous life story reads like something out of Treasure Island.
On a voyage between Buenos Aires and a port in northern Africa his ship, loaded with wheat, ran into a bad storm, While Marshall was a loft a rope broke and he fell to the deck below. His worst injuries were a telescoped backbone and fractures of the wrists and ankles. The crew, surprised that he had not been instantly killed, carried him to his bunk to die. As he tenaciously clung to life they gave him what rough care they could until arrival at port. Here the medical facilities were rather primitive but he was given the best care available and recovered enough to be sent first to England and then home.
Captain Marshall spent a year at the Victoria General Hospital undergoing twelve operations in that time. In later years before an operation a doctor solicitously enquired of Marshall if he minded ether and he reassuringly replied, "Why, Man, I once lived on ether for a year."
When he left the hospital both his health and his money were at a low ebb but during his recuperation he cut and sold wood and worked with a painter in Truro. It was also at this time that he did a great deal of work in the rehabilitation on the old cemetery.
Later at New Glasgow he studied steam navigation and then became first mate on a ship sailing between Sydney and England. World War I as on then and the English commandeered the ship and sent it to Archangel in northern Russia. It was intercepted by the Germans who sank it after setting the crew adrift in open boats. After rowing for two days they reached the north coast of Norway and from there returned to England. Captain Marshall was given a berth on a ship going to the Mediterranean but just before arriving there a torpedo smashed through the hull. It was kept afloat until harbour was reached and those aboard disembarked before it sank.
On a voyage from New York the captain died and first mate Marshall assumed command. On this trip a sailor committed a murder and was put in irons. When their destination, a port in the Black Sea, was reached a Russian Revolution was going on and the ship was not allowed to dock. About 800 refugees came aboard and were brought back to Constantinople.
Captain Marshall continued to sail until World War II when he held a supervisory position at the Halifax dockyards until his death. A model of the ship 'Colchester' made by Captain Marshall was presented to Dr. MacMechan for his marine museum at Dalhousie. Later it was put in the Provincial Archives. The other of the two models he made was shown one year at the Canadian National Exhibition.
These pioneer settlers all did some farming for they could not depend on the uncertain transportation of the times to bring in enough food for their large families and the marshes and the fertile uplands were the chief attraction for settlement in this area. The French settlers had left 1500 acres of marsh and 100 acres of cleared upland in the area designated to the Truro Township and it was divided so that each grantee had a shore of this land.
These settlers were not as successful at dyking as the French had been but they managed to do some and all the men worked together in this undertaking. Miller tells of an incident which took place during one of these dyking bees. The men, as was the custom then, had their dram in the mid-afternoon and while resting afterward all fell asleep except Samuel Archibald, a practical joker. With the men's spades he pressed each man's pigtail into the soft soil and so pinned him to the ground. This incident took place during the first years of the settlement and Miller also makes reference to the old custom of carting marsh mud to the upland to increase fertility.
Vegetables were grown, of course, with wheat the principal grain and for many years it produced abundantly as did the flax for their linen. After the turn of the century the wheat crops began to fail so oats were introduced and in 1820 an oats-grinding mill was set up in Truro. Oatmeal became very popular then with oats the predominant grain grown although they grew wheat for their flour and had it ground at the Old Barns grist mill.
Potatoes and turnips were the staple vegetables and even up to the end of the 19th century were the main winter vegetables although other kinds were plentiful in season. Rev. John T. Baxter, the Beaver Brook minister from 1844 to 1858 was very interested in agriculture and urged the farmers to produce more, for he said their material prosperity was assured if they planted an acre or more of turnips. There were wild fruits to be gathered and apple trees were planted by the early settlers.
Some sheep were kept to provide wool for making their woollen clothing and blankets, and of course there were cattle for meat, milk and leather as well as the horses for farm work and transportation.
The first cattle show was held in Truro in 1820 and plowing matches began about that time. For over a century the services of a blacksmith were in great demand and two or three smiths were usually kept busy in their shops in Beaver Brook, shoeing the oxen and horses and making or repairing the implements and machinery used on the farms.
During the early years there were four disastrous happenings which affected all the farmers and these events were long remembered by the pioneers. First was 'the year of the mice', so called because hordes of mice ate all the crops and overran the buildings. This was the year of 1776 and a year or so after was a summer so cold that none of the crops matured. Doubtless this was the year referred to in the history of the continent as 'seventeen hundred and froze to death'. The 1792 brought the great freshet which flooded the intervales and marshes and washed away the crops just at the beginning of the harvest. Lastly was the year of the big wind in 1813 which blew down buildings and fences and caused other damage. No particular reference is made of Beaver Brook in accounts of these catastrophes except to say that all settlers in the Truro area suffered hardships from the shortage of food and general destruction cause by them.
About 1900 the farmers in this area began to sell cream to Brookfield Company, Truro, but in 1912 they became dissatisfied with this and changed to selling whole milk to Borden Company, Truro. The milk was carted daily by Fred Burris who started from his farm at the southern end of Beaver Brook and picked up all the milk as he went through the village. He turned this load of 800 to 1000 pounds of milk in 25-pound cans over to Bob Baxter of Old Barns who continued on to Truro, gathering up the milk as he went. In 1917 George Cox replaced Fred Burris and then George and Percy Burrows hauled the milk for a time. Next Billy and Ralph Archibald took over the entire route and changed from a team and wagon to a truck. Fred Loughead had the route next and turned it over to Percy Burrows and his son Harry. By this time the milk was going to several Truro dairies.
The first tractor in Beaver Brook belonged to Murray MacNaughton who bought one about 1945 and other farmers soon made the change from horses to a tractor. Milking machines were installed in most barns about this time and all types of farm work became mechanized following World War II as materials for machinery became available.
Dairying is the principal type of farming done in Beaver Brook today although some farmers keep poultry or hogs as well. A few farmers also grow potatoes and other vegetables for market and some small fruits are grown. Mr. Stokdyk, a newcomer from Holland, runs a greenhouse business.
The plaster industry was closely correlated with shipping. It commenced, like shipping, about 1800, flourished for a time and then declined about 1870. The earliest reference made to plaster in Beaver Brook is found among the Sanderson papers and is in a letter dated 1818 although the writer, John Manning of Windsor, refers to an earlier lease of a plaster quarry located near the Marshall Brook. This particular letter states that the writer's brother in Boston expects that there will be no demand for plaster for at least two years and does not want to renew his lease unless the owner will accept a small sum of about $25.00 a year. It is not known if Mr. Sanderson accepted this offer or not, but judging by the books kept by the captain of the David Higgins, built ten years later, the plaster business was flourishing by then.
Years later there are records of other leases. In 1877 John Alexander leased the quarry for four years at 6 cents a ton for all plaster removed and he promised to sell to any plaster mill owner in this area as much gypsum rock as he could use, for which he could not charge over 40 cents a ton. Five years later it was leased to Christopher Jennison, Walton, for a twelve-year term at $40.00 a year, but if the rent went ten days overdue, the lease became null and void. Apparently this happened for only six years later it was leased again on the same terms to Henry Smith, Old Barns.
The only plaster mill in Beaver Brook was owned by John Marshall and was situated near the plaster quarry. This land is south of Marshall Brook and east of the Beaver Brook. The land is grown up in woods again but the old caves are still there. In the cold, dark recesses of one, the ice builds up to such an extent in winter that it never entirely thaws in summer. In the days before refrigeration, the Marshall children often chipped off enough ice to make ice cream during the summer months.
The gypsum rocks were blasted into pieces small enough to be moved and taken to the mill. Here a machine called a cracker broke them into small pieces which were dropped into holes of about a foot in diameter in the center of the large mill stones. These turning stones ground the rocks into dust which worked its way out through grooves chipped across the stones. The stones, five feet in diameter, weighed about sixteen hundred pounds each and had to be turned over occasionally so the grooves could be kept chipped out as they tended to wear smooth. The mill was powered by water which fell from the flume of the pond onto the blades of the water wheel. These wooden wheels were twelve fee in diameter and four feet across. They required the boring out of six hundred and thirty-six holes for pinning the parts and not too many men knew how to construct one.
As the plaster collected around the stones it was gathered up in barrels weighing four hundred pounds when full. Several barrels were filled daily. In early years these were all shipped by boat from the local ports and went to New England and the West Indies. Later, as shipping declined and as the railway had gone through, the barrels were taken daily to Truro by ox-cart and shipped by rail to the port of Halifax. Rufus Burgess, perhaps the only living man who once worked at the local plaster mills, tells that at the close of the 19th century the plaster used to 'cool' the sandy ground on which it was spread. He did not know the significance of the term but it was probably used to counteract acidity as it is today in Nova Scotia.
John Marshall shipped his plaster to a Mr. Manning in Boston, who with his wife often came to the Marshall home. He was probably a son of the Manning who years earlier had leased the quarry from John Sanderson, for during the visit Mrs. Manning always spent an afternoon at the Sanderson home. The old mill had long since gone but Mrs. White remembers that as a child about 1885 the old wheel "as high as a house" was still standing. One of the stones was moved to the site of a lathe mill run by two of Watson Crowe's boys, but the others are still at the site of the plaster mill.
Lumbering was also influenced by the shipbuilding for many years in this community. Many of the men spent their winters in chopping and hauling the huge trees from the virgin forest. Some of this lumber was used for building the houses and barns and the boards in many old houses are nearly two feet wide. Most of the lumber, however, was hauled to the shipyards and used there.
This lumber was sawed locally; Anthony Marshall being the owner of the first sawmill which was set up some time before 1835 and was located on the Marshall Brook. A water wheel provided the power and the logs were sawed by a straight saw. This was far different from the speed of our modern saws, for each up and down movement of the saw cut into the log only a fraction of an inch and the saw moved quite slowly. Mr. Marshall devised a clever plan which provided periodic care but eliminated the monotony of continuous attention. As he always wore a split-tailed coat, he would fasten one tail over the log a certain distance from the saw and then, settling himself comfortably, would fall asleep. As the log moved along, the fastened tail would begin to pull on the coat and when the tugging became strong enough, it would awaken Mr. Marshall to his duties.
The story is told of a time when George Marshall and some companions were cutting logs in the dense woods near Alton -- then called Polly Bog. Marshall discovered a bear cave one day in early spring and after ascertaining that the bear was still in residence, picked up his ever-ready gun and entered the cave. Apparently Bruin was just finishing his final nap of the season for as Marshall entered the cave, he lumbered to his feet with a wide yawn which ended in a loud roar. Marshall pointed the gun at the gaping mouth, pulled the trigger and Bruin dropped quickly off to sleep again to awaken no more. Marshall's companions, who had maintained a respectful distance, always declared that as Marshall disappeared from their sight into the cave, the bear had yelled, "Get out of here" to which remark the excited Marshall had shouted back, "I won't get out" and then fired the fatal shot.
The second mill to be set up belonged to William Park, son of John Park. It was located near the southern border end of Beaver Brook on the farm now owned by Gerald MacLeod. It too had the straight saw although in much later years this was removed and a circular saw used instead.
Near the end of the nineteenth century Henry Crowe had a saw mill just north of the one owned by William Park. On the Marshall Brook there was a shingle mill operated by Davison Murray. Mr. Murray had lost the fingers on one hand and a thumb and one finger on the other in a mill accident, but in spite of this operated the mill and provided for his family without help or compensation. Also, two sons of Watson Crowe operated a lathe mill about the same time as the Murray mill was in operation. This was located on their father's property where S. Creelman now lives.
There have been other mills of late years but at present there are none. The last mill in Beaver Brook was owned and run by Frank Yuill and sons but has not been used since 1953. There is some lumbering done every winter but the logs are hauled away to be sawed.
Miller tells us that James Yuill Esq. continued as a merchant after he came to Truro Township so his would be the first store in the area. He probably sold a great variety of articles and Mrs. Millie Loughead of Old Barns owns a platter from the first set of dishes sold here by Mr. Yuill. Miller also tells that as Mr. Yuill himself said, "he kent nothing of cents and percents but his way of doing business was to sell his goods for just double what they cost him."
The first grocery store in Beaver Brook was opened by Susan Marshall about 1870. Her little shop was situated in the intervale across the road from which the I.O.G.T. Hall now is. Mrs. White tells that as a child she and her brother would coax their mother, Mrs. John Marshall, for an egg each (pennies being scarce) and there they would barter for candy at this store. Two other children who bought candy there and found it very tasty were John and Allen Bradley who patronized the store while visiting their grandfather, John Robert Loughead. Miss Marshall gave up this store when she married and left Beaver Brook.
Recently Mrs. Bob Loughead and then Mrs. Reid Yuill have had a store here but at present the only one is that run by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Yuill.
Before 1864 and for years after that date, Francis Forbes had a shoe shop beside the house where the Burgess boys live now. Mrs. Carrie White's mother bought her a pair of shoes here when she was about eleven years old and she recalls that she wept bitter tears over them. They were sturdy, copper-toed boots and she had wanted a dressy pair of shoes.
About the same time as this Hezekiah Yuill, listed on the map of 1864 as a house joiner, had a shop by his home where he made carriages and sleds. Later again, Mr. Ed Crowe had butchering business and had a route where he sold meat. He also had a small water wheel by the pond near his house where he sawed his wood and ground his grain.
Near the old cemetery is a hill known as the Keel Bank. During the shipbuilding era in this area, the red clay from this hill was used to paint the keels and hulls of the ships. The clay was loaded on carts and hauled to the mill of George Burgess in Old Barns. Here it was baked in a kiln until as hard as bricks and then ground to dust in the plaster mill. Mixed with buttermilk, it made a durable paint but for the ship paint, the dust was mixed with oil instead of milk. Rufus Burgess, now nearly 93 years old, as a boy helped his Uncle George make the paint and he concluded a description of this with the remark, "It was awful dirty stuff to work with."
Not far from the Keel Bank hill is an old iron mine. It is located in the woods on Forbes property just beyond Elmer Yuill's intervale. It never was worked extensively but some ore was taken out and taken to the wharf for shipping by way of a road which joins the shore road near the house owned by Clarence Stevens. This is known as the Old Mine Road. A map of 1864 lists a Mr. Prendergast in connection with this mine so it must have been worked before then, and the older folk remember that the workings were fenced off when they were children.
A little gold was found about 80 years ago in the Marshall wood lot but there was not enough to justify a mine.
A brick kiln was operated by Jasper Crowe about 1844. It was located on the point of intervale on the farm of Seymour Creelman. The discarded bricks were left on this land and are very much in evidence whenever anyone tries to plow the ground there.
About the last of the nineteenth century antimony, an ore used for tempering needles and other items made of steel, was found on the Yuill land up Marshall Brook. Dillman Yuill and Davison Murray tried to get enough of this for marketing purposes and dug a large hole about forty feet deep. They used a winch and bucket, or tub, for going down into the mine and for raising the mud and ore. At one time when Dillman Yuill was being lowered, Davison Murray's fingerless hand slipped on the rope and Yuill and tub fell to the bottom with a thump but no harm was done. Later on, the equipment fell into the mine and the attempt to get ore was abandoned. Pieces of this ore are often found on the surface of the ground in this area.
The first schoolhouse in what is now Beaver Brook probably was the one which stood where Donnie Loughead's house in now. It is known that this school existed about 1840 for one pupil was Hezekiah Yuill, born in 1833. One of his masters was an old army officer who wrote "a beautiful hand". He was very strict and like all teachers had his irritable days. Then he would display a hardwood slab and threaten to hurl it at the first boy to raise his eyes from his work. Complete order reigned on such days. It is not known just what became of this schoolhouse but one woman thought she remembered hearing her parents say it was taken to Old Barns for a school there. Nobody else questioned could recall hearing what the fate of this schoolhouse was.
Another school which existed at the same time and could possibly have been built previously to the one first mentioned, was located on the Black Rock road across from the cemetery. The exact location is not known except that it was in a field owned by Francis Forbes and west of his house which was opposite the old cemetery.
It seems strange now to picture two schools, both in the northern end of Beaver Brook. However, it was not until 1866 and the beginning of public schools that the present boundaries were established and a map of 1864 shows Old Barns as being the area from the end of the Black Rock road extending northward and Beaver Brook extending southward from that point. In old deeds and papers there also is shown a diversity of opinion and changing about the villages' names. Some people spoke of being in Old Barns Beaver Brook and others of the Beaver Brook in Old Barns. so with this vague conception of boundaries it is reasonable to assume that a school would be built wherever the parents, who could afford to have one, chose to put it.
At any rate, in 1842 a group of men from the central part of present day Beaver Brook met to plan for a school. A copy of the agreement made at that meeting was among the Sanderson papers and read as follows:
'The following are the subscribers and number of shares for a School House to be erected on the north side of Mr. James Crowe's Gate on the Beaver Brook
15 Nov. 1842
Jno Sanderson 1
Frs. Forbes 1
Ant'y Marshall 1
Jno Onderkirk 1
John Parke 1
James Sanderson 1
Thos. Crowe 1/2
James Crowe 1/2
Thos. W. Crowe 1/2
Jacob Onderkirk 1
Jacob Scanks 1/2
William Nelson 1/2
Sold to Proprietors as follow:
Jacob Onderkirk Frame L 3 0 0
Francis Forbes Hemlock boards 23 6
Thos. W. Crow (Boarding in and (nails 1 0 0
Ant'y Marshall (Pine clapboards (for battening & putting on) 7 0
James Sanderson Spruce shingles 8 6
Thos. W. Crowe Shingling & nails 4 6
William Nelson (3 window frames & sashes) 1 10 0
James Crow (40 squares 8x10 glass
ditto (Double boarding frame & hinges 1 1 0
John Parks (Double boarding
(floor, spruce & hk 1 9 6
Anthony Marshall (Boarding upper
(floor 1 in. spruce 15 9
Jacob Onderdirk Laying 2 floors temporary this fall & completing same in summer of 1843-the upper floor to be grooved tongued and nailed 2 0 0
John Sanderson (Lathing nails, putting on & furring 2 14 6
James Sanderson Plastering ceiling & rendering walls the latter to be done this fall 1 16 0
Ant'y Marshall Pine clapboards sufficient for house 4 1 0
Jno Onderkirk Putting on clapboards & find nails furnishing pine lumber for saddle & finishing outside 3 17 0
Jno Sanderson Finding red & white paint & oil & painting
the house 2 coats 2 9 0
"The trustees to furnish a stove to be paid for by the proprietors in proportion to their shares when the price is ascertained.
"We bind ourselves to Mefr. John Sanderson & Anthony Marshall, trustees, to build and completed a school house on the Beaver Brook Road, the six of which is to be 18 feet by 21 feet and 8 foot posts the expense of which is to be paid in proportion to the number of shares signed for -- any subscriber expending more than the amount of his share or shares to be refunded (in produce) by those who have not expended the amount of their shares --
"To be made fit for the purpose of keeping School on or before the 1 day of January 1843 -- (signed)"
The names of the 12 men holding shares made up the signatures.
It is not known now how long this school stood but Isaac Sanderson who died in 1946 at the age of 92 attend there until it was burned which must have been about 1865. A map dated 1864 has this school marked although the building may have been burned before that. It also has a school marked at the site of the next school built in Beaver Brook which was just south of the present school at the end of Loughead's lane. It is not known if this was built just to replace the one burned or was the first public school but it is likely that the present school, built in 1883 or 84 was the first public school.
After the school in Beaver Brook burned, Elizabeth, oldest child of John Robert Loughead, attended Clifton School and lived with the teacher in the upper room of the schoolhouse there. Then when the little schoolhouse near the end of Loughead's lane was built, she went there until the completion of her Grade D.
She was then granted a teacher's license, probably being the first resident of Beaver Brook to obtain one. She did not teach school, however, as she was married shortly after obtaining her license. Her daughter, Susan Cox, still has the license which is worded as follows:
Public Schools of Nova Scotia
By the Council of Public Instruction Be it known that Elizabeth J. Loughead, being a person of good moral character, has been examined in due form and manner by us prescribed, and that according to the Examiner for the Province by us in this behalf appointed, we deem that she has satisfactorily proved her ability and fitness to be a teacher of the Third Class in the Public Schools of the Province.
Wherefore we have directed that this our Certificate and License do issue to her, hereby conferring on her all the rights and privileges belonging under law to a teacher of the Third Class accordingly.
In testimony whereof we have caused our seal to be affixed hereunto at Halifax this Fifteenth day of November in the year One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy, being the Thirty-Fourth Year of the Reign of her Majesty Queen Victoria.
A. J. Hunt
Secy. Coun. Pub. Inst.
Dept. of Language:
Rev. J. M. Hensley, D.D.
Dept. of History & Geography:
Rev. Thomas J. Daly
St. Mary's College
Dept. of Mathematics:
D. D. Higgins, A.M.
Dept. of School Management, Teaching, etc.:
Rev. James Ross, D.D.
Assessment papers dated 1879-82 show that parents from the northern end of Beaver Brook had united with the parents from the rest of the village by this time. A tax notice sent to John Sanderson by William Sanderson, secretary of trustees, reads as follows:
For schoolhouse $ 6.69 1/2
School purposes 2.21
Poll tax 1.00
$ 9.90 1/2
Half to be paid on or before the 1st of April and the other half on or before the 1st August, 1871
Mrs. White attended this school for a few months before the present school was completed. She remembers that the seats were placed facing the back which caused considerable neck craning when a visitor called and resulted in a scolding from the teacher afterward. This school was torn down upon completion of the present school.
In the early years of the present school about 50 pupils attended. For some years some children came through the woods from Ervin's Lake in good weather. Apparently some teachers of this time still depended on the hardwood slab to maintain discipline. A granddaughter of John Sanderson, Beatrice Dickson, who lived in Truro, had her hand injured by a beating with one by her teacher. Her mother sent her to finish the term at Beaver Brook. This was the term of 1886-87 and Miss Mary McLellan was the teacher and her pupils all loved her.
The children were just as mischievous then as now. Mrs. White tells of one day that Peter Yuill came to school laden with early apples. He generously shared with the others who were apparently eating them in school. Carrie Marshall told George Loughead he could not put a whole apple into his mouth and then eat it. He tried to prove that he could but succeeded only in attracting the attention of the teacher. She gathered up all the remaining apples and , standing George at the front of the room, ordered him to eat them all. Nonchalantly he did just that.
George Laughead was not always so fortunate in his escapades, however. One day he broke a pane of glass and he had to trudge the 2 1/2 miles to the home of the Secretary to Trustees, Billy Sanderson, get the glass, take it back and have the broken pane replaced before he could go home that night.
Several pupils who attended school during those early years went on to further their education. Among them were Lucy and Carie Marshall and Edna Parke who became nurses and George Loughead who went to Dalhousie University. Lucy Marshall, who went to the U.S. A., was sent overseas as a Naval Nurse in World War I. Later she became and Inspector of Training Schools for nurses for the state of Montana and was instrumental in bringing about many improvements in the nursing system there.
In 1944 the school as divided into two departments with the advanced pupils attending the I.O.G.T Hall. In 1952 the pupils of this department were sent to Brookfield Rural High School until completion of the Central Colchester High School in 1957 when the advance pupils were sent there.
The first settlers of Truro Township were all Presbyterian and no other denomination was represented until after 1782. The first congregation, formed eight days after the settlers arrived in 1760, included 53 families. At first the people worshiped in barns or houses, but in 1768 the building of a church was begun at what is now the Robie Street cemetery. The first minister called to this congregation was a Rev. Mr. Kenlock who came in 1765 from Scotland and remained for about three years. In 1769 Rev. Daniel Cock came to Truro as a missionary to the province and in 1770 accepted a call from the Truro church. This was signed by seven elders and forty two adherents, among them James Yuill Esq., James Yuill Jr. and John Oughterson.
The frame of the church has been raised in 1768 and as it was so heavy it took all the men in Truro and Onslow as well as several women to raise it. It was some years before this church was finished and until 1821 it was the only church in Truro Township; and people from all the Township as well as from outside points came to worship here, travelling either on foot or from the more distant parts on horseback.
As the areas of Princeport, Green Oak and Riverside became settled, it was found more convenient for the people in these areas and Beaver Brook to be included in the congregation of Rev. Thomas Crowe at Douglas or Maitland while most of the families in Old Barns continued to worship in Truro. Rev. Mr. Crowe crossed the river every fourth Sunday to teach the young people the Shorter Catechism and church Doctrines. Two services were held, the first beginning at 10 a.m. with a recess for lunch. Most of the people came so far they brought a lunch and this provided a social hour of conversation before the second lengthy service of the day was begun. On the other three Sundays, many of the people crossed the Shubenacadie river to attend services at Maitland and often risked their lives in these crossings.
As there were many people at the services, it was decided that a church was necessary and this was begun in 1832 in Beaver Brook where the old cemetery now is. The church was in use long before it was all finished and the first seats were rough benches. Glass for the windows in 8 x 10 panes was brought from Boston by Captain Sanderson, Beaver Brook, and landed at Yuills' Island.
Among the Sandeson papers is an agreement which reads as follows:
"Articles of an agreement made and entered into the second day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty between John Loughead Commissioner of the Old Barns Beaver Brook Meeting House County of Colchester and Province of Nova Scotia of the one part and Thomas Wilson Londonderry county and province aforesaid undertaker of the other part witnesseth that the said Thomas Wilson does agree engage and bind himself to finish said meeting house in the inside of said house in a good and workmanlike manner agreeable to the Eception of the aforesaid commissioner and find all the materials of every description for said finish and all the work to be done agreeable to the plan now made and finished by said commissioner as far as the plan may extend for said undertaker's information and the other work has to be done as follows namely a sounding board over the pulpit the pews to be painted yellow and numbered with two coats of good paint and oil the casings and front of the gallery painted white and all the beams posts and windows that is not cased to be cased and all the lumber made use of by the undertaker to be good seasoned pine lumber AND for the payment of the finishing of the inside of the said meeting house said John Loughead commissioner in behalf of the proprietors of said meeting house doth agree engage and bind himself to pay or cause to be paid to the aforesaid undertaker - Thomas Wilson undertaker of said job of finishing said house the sum of forty eight pounds and to be paid as follows by instalments pay ten pounds cash in hand and one fourth part of the remaining sum which is thirty eight pounds to be paid as soon as the work commences and the remaining three fourths to be paid as the work progresses so that the whole sum be paid by the last of November next ensuing when the finish of said meeting house is to be completed payment to be made in the following articles namely the one fourth to be paid in cash and the remaining three fourths of thirty eight pounds in beef port butter and other produce at fair trading prices.
"As witness our hands at Beaver Brook Truro the day and year just above written
Witness Signed: Thomas Wilson
Hugh Wilson John Loughead"
Those who remember the church tell about the large boxed-in pews. These had a double seat and the adults faced the minister but the children sat facing the back. The high pulpit, hung with a tapestry, was reached by a flight of stairs with the precentor's box directly below. Among the first precentors were John Bradley and John Yuill and their job was to get the pitch of the tune with the tuning fork and to give out the lines as there was neither an organ nor hymn books. Only psalms and paraphrases were sung.
The elders at the time of the church opening were Messrs. Roy and Douglas of Maitland, James Crowe, Harry Hughes and John Loughead while Thomas Yuill, John Yuill, James Crowe, John Onderkirk and William Onderkirk made up the choir.
Francis Forbes was the first treasurer. The subscriptions to the minister's salary were about four dollars a year or less. Minutes of meetings held during the ministry of Rev. John I. Baxter show that the members of the congregation had a constant struggle to make up the salary and other church expenses. Collectors were named for each of the five districts of Old Barns, Beaver Brook, River, Shore Road and Upper River who went out with what was called a Ministerial Subscription Paper. Even after the people subscribed they had difficulty in collecting the money and tried various schemes. One year it was decided to pass boxes among the congregation who were to put their names on their contributions. Another year the boxes are place at the door. The ladies assisted by holding tea meetings and one in 1850 netted ten pounds eight shillings and sixpence halfpenny.
Rev. John I. Baxter replaced Rev. Crowe as minister in 1844. He lived at Onslow and ministered to the people of an area going north to Prince Edward Island and to the New Brunswick border. He travelled over his held by foot or on horseback and camped wherever night overtook him. During his ministry, in 1852, it was voted at a congregational meeting that "Mr. Baxter shall preach in the neighborhood of Phillips Settlement in proportion to his stipend received in that quarter." It was six years later in 1858 that Phillips Settlement, or Green Oak, began to build the church that still stands today and Princeport went in with that congregation. Just before Mr. Baxter left in 1859 the Old Barns section gave up membership in the Truro church and joined the congregation at Beaver Brook. When Rev. James Byers came in 1859 the congregation of the two churches in Green Oak and Beaver Brook extended from Riverside up to but not including Lower Truro.
A few years after Old Barns untied with Beaver Brook it was decided to build a new church and the location chosen was a point of land beside the cemetery of Christ Church Materials for building were donated and left at this site but one day a group of men from Old Barns moved everything to the site of their choice near the present church. The next day Anthony Marshall and William Park arrived with a load of lumber from their mills but on discovering what had happened they wrathfully took it home again. The peremptory manner in which the change of location was made caused a rift in the congregation and some of the older folk never entered the new church which was opened in 1869. Up until 1880 services were held in both churches and then the old church as formally closed. A few funeral services were held there after 1880 until the building was sold to James McCurdy who tore it down and rebuilt it for a barn. This was considered sacrilegious by some of the congregation.
Rev. Mr. Byers was succeeded in 1881 by Rev. J. D. MacGillivary who stayed until 1895. Rev. Mr. Byers bought his own manse out of his meager salary of 100 pounds a year, half in produce. At his death, he was buried in the cemetery in Beaver Brook. One other minister of this congregation, Rev. L. H. MacLean, D.D., who came much later, was also buried in this cemetery. Rev. W. S. Irving was the minister at the time of Church Union in 1925.
A Sunday School has probably always been held in connection with this church and also a mid-week Prayer Service for many years. In early days a boy would be sent throughout the district to summon people to this service which was always well attended. Rev. J. D. MacGillivary organized a Christian Endeavor for the young people and these meetings in Beaver Brook were held in the schoolhouse. However, he frowned on a Women's Home and Foreign Missionary Society started during his ministry so it was given up but was reorganized when Rev. R. W. Parker came in 1895.
The first mention of missionary work in the church was in 1846 when a Rev. John Geddie of Pictou was sent by Onslow as a foreign missionary to the New Hebrides. He preached at the Beaver Brook church before he left and again in 1865 while on furlough. The children of the congregation went from door to door collecting pennies to help repair his missionary vessel, the 'Dayspring'.
Of late years other organizations within the congregation of this church have been Mission Band, Baby Band, Young Peoples, C.G.I.T. and Boy Scouts.
Other ministers of this congregation who are not already mentioned were Rev. W. W. Cunningham, Rev. A. M. MacLeod, Rev. W. A. Whidden, Rev. J. C. Davies and Rev. M. H. MacIntosh. These were followed by Rev. W. S. Irving and Rev. L. H. MacLean, D.D., already mentioned, and recently Rev. Fred Guy. At present a student, Gerald Wyrwas, is the minister.
The second church in Beaver Brook was Christ Church built mainly through the efforts of the Rev. T. C. Leaver, rector of St. John's Church of England, Truro, from 1844 and 1858. The work begun by him was carried on by his successor, Rev. Joseph Fiorsythe, who was the Truro rector from 1858 to 1903. The church at Beaver Brook was established as a mission of St. John's Church, Truro.
The three-quarter acre lot for the church and burial grounds was purchased from Mr. Samuel Yuill for three pounds. The church as built in 1858 and on September 18 of that year was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. Helebert Binney, then Bishop of Nova Scotia.
The timbers of the frame of the building were hand hewn with a broad axe and the studding is much larger than that used today. Even the bow of the ceiling is hand hewn from timbers large enough, according to some, to support the bow of the Titanic. The wide boards used were hand planed. The interior is lighted by seven large windows and for many years was heated by a large barrel stove near the back of the church. The building measures 36 x 24 feet and is of very attractive proportions with a square steeple.
The women of the congregation raised enough money to enable them to purchase in 1860 the communion vessels. They were selected and bought in New York by Edward M. Archibald Esq.
The membership of this church was never large and during the early part of this century it declined so much that services were held irregularly for many years. During this time the church fell into disrepair with plaster fallen from the ceiling and the exterior weather-beaten, the yard overgrown and the fence down.
This was the situation when the Rev. G. R. Thompson came as rector to St. John's Church, Truro. Under his leadership the members of the congregation gave of their time and talent to raise the necessary funds needed for repairs. Also much volunteer labor was given to restore the building. A new roof was put on, walls were repaired and the building painted inside and out and a new pulpit and other furnishings were secured. The grounds were terraced and landscaped at this time with shrubs being set out and lawn seed sown. The lawn is mown regularly and all the grounds and buildings present a very pleasing appearance to the passerby.
Recently electric lights were installed and also kneeling benches and an oil furnace. At present the services are being conducted by Rev. Mr. Clattenburg, priest assistant to the Rev. J. H. Graven of St. John's Church. This church now included in the Parish of Londonderry, this past fall celebrated its 100th anniversary. This church, also, has a Sunday School and a Women's Auxiliary.
The youngest of the three church denominations in Beaver Brook is the Baptist Church. For many years the only Baptist family in this village was that of Charles Archibald who had belonged to the First Baptist Church, Truro, when they had been living at Salmon River. Also Mrs. J. A. Parke and been a Baptist before coming to Beaver Brook.
Just prior to 1894 the Rev. L. M. Fields, pastor at Brookfield, had held evangelistic services at Beaver Brook and surrounding communities. Many of those who attended these meetings expressed a wish to start a Baptist congregation and one was organized. As Beaver Brook was the central community, it was chosen as the site for the church and Mr. Davison Murray donated the land where the church now stands.
Much of the work of building was done by volunteer workers, one of these being the Rev. Mr. Fields. On the day when the frame was raised he came from Brookfield bringing a crew of helpers with him. Peter Hamilton, the only living charter member, turned the first sod and Mr. Charlie Archibald laid the corner stone. the women did their part toward the building of a church by holding suppers to raise funds. One picnic supper was held at the plaster rock up the Marshall Brook, a spot now regrown in forest.
The church was barely finished in time for the opening day set for May 6, 1894. It was a beautiful day and a large crowd gathered, many walking or driving by wagon several miles in order to attend the first service in Bethesda church. The morning service was conducted by Rev. J. D. Spidell of Onslow Baptist Church and the afternoon service by Rev. W. Parker of Immanuel Baptist Church, Truro. The organists were Miss Carter of Brookfield and Miss Lucy Marshall of Beaver Brook. There was a large choir of singers from Brookfield and local points.
Some of the first ministers in this church besides Rev. Mr. Fields were Rev. J. Armstrong, Rev. T. E. Roope, Rev. S. G. Tingley, Rev. A. W. Brown, Rev. F. B. Suley, Rev. Horace Kinsman and Rev. Hamilton. The first deacon was Mr. J. A. Parke and he and Mr. C. W. Archibald conducted the Sunday School for many years. A Women's Missionary Society, organized early in the history of the church, flourished for many years, the meetings being held in the homes of the members.
In 1924 the Bethesda Church discontinued its alliance with the Brookfield Church which had united with the Stewiacke Baptist church. The name was changed to the Beaver Brook Baptist Church and it came under the pastorate of Immanuel Baptist Church, Truro.
By 1930 the membership had dropped until very few were left who took an interest in this church. However, the work had been carried on by a few faithful members with services and Sunday School being held regularly. Changes and repairs have been made in this church from time to time so that the building is in good condition. Set back a little from the road, this little white church with the sharp steeple has a steep hill for a background with lovely large maples in front.
The first cemetery in the Truro Township was the Robie Street Cemetery, Truro. Some of the earliest settlers from this area were buried there. However, for many years the bier had to carried from the home to the cemetery by three of four groups of four men in relays. Because of this, many people set off a plot of land on their own property and there are many private burying grounds in this area, some with the trees crowding out the headstones while others are kept fenced and cleared.
As was the custom in those days, the churchyard became a place for burial and when the beaver Brook Meeting House was built the yard became a cemetery and many of the pioneers sleep their last sleep there. Although this cemetery had an attractive setting, there were springs in the area and it was decided to find a better location so, in 1877, land was purchased from John Yuill. This is a high hill beside Christ Church, slopping upward away from the highway. It is a large cemetery, non-denominational, and incorporated in 1910.
In 1949 the entire cemetery was landscaped and terraced with the headstones set in rows. With the regular care it receives, this cemetery is one of the most beautiful in the county. In sharp and shameful contrast is the old cemetery which lies neglected and overgrown with bushes and brambles. The last care this received as about 1914 when Captain Marshall spent a great deal of time in raising the sunken headstones. These he had repaired and replaced and the whole area leveled. A trust fund was established with the interest to be used for upkeep. Since about 1930 however, the interest has not been used for this purpose and this neglect is reflected in the appearance of the cemetery.
The third cemetery in Beaver Brook surrounds Christ Church with this well-kept burial ground adjoining the large cemetery.
Some time early in the eighteenth century an Orange Lodge was formed and a hall built in the hollow where Billy Murray now lives. Not much is known today about this organization but the hall was moved about 1880 to a site opposite the end of the Princeport road and became the home of Joseph Parke.
In 1910 Mr. Ralph Archibald, Miss Winnifred Parke, Miss Nancy Cassidy and Miss Isabel Marsh, the school teacher, canvassed the district in an effort to start a temperance group. Many were interested and they organized an I.O.G.T. Lodge. For the first two years the meetings were held in the upper room of the Baptist Church. In 1912 the land for a Lodge hall was donated by Mr. Dillman Yuill who was very much interested in this organization. The hall was built by his son, Frank Yuill, a charter member with the assistance of John Notting.
This being the only hall in Beaver Brook, it has been used for a great deal more than merely Lodge purposes. It has been used for all the suppers and concerts and for a few years was used as a classroom for the advanced pupils of the school. Mr. Yuill was opposed to dancing and deeded the land for the hall on condition that if it be used for a dance or if the Lodge was discontinued, the property would revert to the previous owner or his heirs. However, no dances have ever been held there and the Lodge still holds meetings so it has retained the property.
The Beaver Brook Branch of the Women's Institute of Nova Scotia had its beginning in 1921. During World War I, the women here, as elsewhere throughout Canada, had met in the common cause -- Red Cross work. This work with the follow-up of welcoming the 'returned' men, was headed by the Friendly Aid Club. By 1921 the group was wondering -- 'what next?' The Women's Institute movement, moving into Nova Scotia in 1913, was steadily growing and on October 4, 1921, Miss Helen J. McDougall met with the club at the home of Mrs. Everard Clarke. As Superintendent of Institutes of Nova Scotia, she presented the Institute idea and ideals with such enthusiasm that a branch was organized. Mrs. Job Creelman was elected president. Mrs. George Loughead secretary. The charter members were: Mrs. George Cox, Mrs. G. S. Crowe, Mrs. E. Clarke, Mrs. Mary Crowe, Mrs. Job Creelman, Mrs. George Loughead, Miss Etta Crowe, Mrs. Gordon Geddes, Misses Miriam and Margaret Archibald, Mrs. Fred Burris. Monthly meetings have been held continuously up to the present. Interest lagged somewhat in 1928 but when put to vote, the members chose to continue. Growth has been steady, no marked in number but rather in fuller, more comprehensive programs.
In 1939 with the outbreak of World War II a Red Cross Auxiliary was set up within the Institute with membership open to all women. Again, as in 1914-18, knitting, quilt making, etc., became of major importance. Cash contributions where made to the War Service Fund for the establishment of the Mobile kitchen and to the British Emergency Relief. Many local boys and women in the three services were remembered periodically. After the close of hostilities when Britain was in straightened circumstances for food, monthly food parches were continued.
The Red Cross convenor continues to distribute sewing and knitting each winter to maintain the supplies at headquarters, always beheld in readiness for times of disaster. Emergencies such as floods in Holland, in Manitoba and the recent mine disaster at Springhill call for and receive ready response. March has become synonymous with the Red Cross campaign for funds.
More recently there have been 4-H Clubs and other farm groups with a Farm Forum group off and on since 1944. Most of the farmers belong to the Farmers' Association which takes in server communities in this area..
A Calf Club, begun in 1935, was carried on for about 15 years during which time two members, Frank Cox and Homer Loughead, won the trip to Toronto. This club is now reorganized as a 4-H Club and includes several communities.
The Garment Club which is now discontinued was kept up for many years. Two teams from this Club won the trip to the Royal Winter Fair, Toronto. First to go were Mary Clarke and Audrey MacNaughton. Later Harriet Archibald and Shirley Dearmond made the trip.
A Forrester's Lodge is active in Beaver Brook but it also includes several communities in its membership.
The pioneers did not lack for entertainment in spite of not having movies, television, etc. Visiting was always popular and nobody minded the distance to be travelled on foot or horseback. Even late in the nineteenth century the women would walk through the woods on hauling roads to Hilden, four or five miles away, visit for awhile and then walk home in time to prepare supper.
Dances, common in that time, started early in the evening and went on until nearly daylight. There was no competition for title of best dressed lady at these. Each girl had two dresses a season, one for every day and one for best, so what the others would be wearing was known beforehand.
In winter coasting or skating parties were frequent and sleigh rides were often enjoyed.
Even in pioneer days Christmas was a time of joy for the children although celebrated very differently from today. One year about 1885 the month of December as very cold and snow fell so frequently it piled up and covered the fence posts and blocked the roads to almost all travel. Mrs. John Marshall warned her young hopefuls that Santa would never make it that year, but they were convinced he would. Sure enough, Christmas morning proved them right for each stocking bulged with an apple, a doughnut man, gingerbread, taffy and for each girl a rag doll and for each boy a sled.
Early in the history of the community teas were held to raise money for church purposes. Usually a tea was held each summer in the intervale where lately Calf Club Field Days were held. Big swings were put up for the children and games and races provided entertainment. There was no ice cream but the young gallants treated the ladies of their choice to sodas. And, of course, the highlight of the day was the supper prepared and served by the ladies.
Every winter there was a pie social held in the schoolhouse and for a time these were threatened with extinction. A group of smart alecs used to attend from Truro, but before the evening was over their gaiety would become destructive. One night one of them, who later became a prominent citizen of Truro, went up to Billy Sanderson, auctioneer, and kicked the pie out of his hand. As had been planned previously, the men began to close in on him but he, realizing his danger, dashed out and ran for his life. The men, who pursued him to Old Barns, finally gave up the chase.
Another year this group amused themselves by throwing the pies on the floor. The crowd tolerated this conduct for a time but when the youths retired to the lobby for more liquid refreshments, big, bearded John Marshall followed them out and then proceeded to boost them through the outside door as well. One chap was ejected with such force that he soared out beyond the crest of the steep little hill by the door and came to earth half way to the road, breaking his arm when he landed. The men in the schoolroom heard the commotion but by the time they got out the lobby was clear and those uninjured were untying horses and loading the injured into the sleigh preparatory to a hurried departure.
At this time the schoolhouse was used for most of the social activities of the village but when the I.O.G.T. Hall was built later, it was used instead. Of late years however, the schoolhouse has been used occasionally for dances and card parties.
Many houses in Beaver Brook have been burned but, fortunately, nobody has ever been trapped in one although in most cases many possessions have been lost. There have been two houses burned on the site of Ruthven Stewart's house. This was years ago when Yuills still owned the property. Another house once owned by John Yuill burned recently and left the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Lyman Dearmond, without a home until they built a house nearer the road.
Captain John Sanderson's house burned but a large house was built near the site of the first house and is owned by Andy Harpman. John Marshall's house burned and was rebuilt on the same site. This house burned when Mr. and Mrs. Seldon Johnson were living in it a few years ago and they rebuilt on another site. Also, the Vincent's house is one built to replace Walter Marshall's house which burned.
The house where Wilfred MacCallum lives is one built by Sandy Parke to replace the one he lost by fire. Joseph Parke also lost a house in this way and he moved the Orange Lodge Hall to the site and remodeled it. The house built by T. Rutherford and owned by Mrs. Davis Creelman burned quite recently and a new house was built on this foundation by her son Seymour. The house owned by Verna Wheeler was built by her uncle, Otis Crowe, to replace the house built by her grandfather, Henry Crowe, which had been burned.
The people of this village have had their share of sorrow and tragedy. One event which brought more grief than the loss of the Enterprise, already mentioned, was the diphtheria epidemic which swept through the community in 1879 bringing death to every home. This dread disease spread so quickly that most of those who contracted it were sick at once and there were too few left to nurse them. One dedicated man, Samuel Archibald, ignored the risk to himself as he went from home to home, helping the distraught parents in every way he could. As the epidemic began to die down, he himself became ill. He returned home but only lived a day or two for, worn out from his care of the others, he succumbed to the grim specter which had already claimed so many victims.
Mrs. Theodore Forbes and two children were among those who died in the epidemic and were buried together. Others were Frank and Eddie, sons of Mr. and Mrs. John Robert Loughead. Of the six children of John Marshall who were sick at once, only four survived. There were many other victims, most of them children, who fell prey to the disease which in those times could not be controlled.
Earlier than the epidemic, about 1860, a small boy was drowned in the brook near Harpman's. There are several accounts of who this boy was and none have been verified as yet. However, he had been wearing a hard hat as small boys did then and searchers were attracted to the beaver pond where they found the small body submerged when they saw the hat floating on the surface of the water.
Many years later the wife of Harris Lynds was killed when the horse gave a quick start ahead on one of the steep hills of the lane leading to their house and she was thrown from the wagon.
Recently, in 1953, this village was saddened by a train and car accident which claimed the lives of Murray Burgess, his wife Edna and their four youngest children, Geraldine - 11, Esther - 8, Rodney - 5, and Heather - 2. Also killed in this accident was a niece of Mrs. Burgess, Margaret Taylor of Harmony.
Besides these accidental deaths there were many more which, like those of the diphtheria epidemic, could probably have been prevented today. The headstones in the cemetery record the deaths of many young people in their late teens or twenties, taken by that scourge of the pioneers, tuberculosis. One headstone in the old cemetery arouses interest for it records the death on May 7, 1864 of Robert S. Crowe aged 44 years and his wife Kate aged 37 years on May 20, 1864. Miller does little to explain this unusual incident, merely stating that Robert S. Crowe died suddenly and his wife died two weeks later and they left no children.
There are the deaths of many infants recorded, often three or four in one family. Often, too, the mother died in childbirth for even after the doctors had replaced the untrained midwives, they were sometimes unable to save the life of the mother or baby with the facilities then available.
Probably the first twins born in Beaver Brook were Letetia and Mary Crowe, born in April 1792 to Thomas and Sarah Crowe Snr. The next twins likely were Eleanor and Sarah Yuill born December 1, 1827 to George and Susannah Yuill. All of these girls lived to grow up and marry and all but Sarah Yuill had children.
There seems to have been no threat of danger from the Indians when the settlers came in 1760 and none of the people of this community recall having heard any ancestors speak of hostility from that source. So the first disruption of the peaceful existence of the pioneers came in 1777 when two Justices of the Peace from Halifax came to tender to the people the Oath of Allegiance. The thirteen states of New England, from whence these people had just recently come, had rebelled against the British and tried to persuade their relatives and friends in Nova Scotia to join with them. It is easy to picture the worry and uncertainty of these people as they discussed these matters and then almost unanimously refused to take the Oath although they remained neutral. However, they were suspected of disloyalty and at the next Assembly their representative was refused a seat in the House.
In the war between Canada and the United States of America in 1812, the people were fearful of attack. By this time their loyalty to Nova Scotia was assured in most cases and they took some thought of defense. The houses built during the war years which overlooked the Bay were built with a lining of bricks in the exterior walls. One of these which still exists was built in Old Barns on the site of the home of James Yuill Jr. Recent alterations uncovered a sliding panel which opened to reveal a view of the Bay, whence any attack would have come.
About 1866 there was the threat of attack by the Fenian Raiders. A system of military training was set up and most able-bodied men responded. No records of this now exist in our area, but Tom S. Crowe, dubbed Colonel, drilled the volunteers dress in a red-coated uniform. Two other men who are known to have been trained were Hezekial Yuill and John Marshall, who about forty years later were eligible for the hundred dollars paid by the government. The area used for drilling was the flat area near where Donnie Loughead now lives. As it turned out, their training was a wasted effort for there were no raids in this area.
One Beaver Brook boy, Graham Marshall, son of Robert Marshall, fought in the Riel Rebellion.
In World War I very few from Beaver Brook were in the services, but those who joined up were:
Miss Lucy Marshall - Naval Nurse U.S.A.
Stanley Creelman - U.S.A
In World War II many from Beaver Brook responded to the call, among them were all four sons of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Burris. All of the men who served overseas returned home except one, Willis Earl Dearmond, son of Mr. and Mrs. Lyman Dearmond who was killed in March 1944 in Ortona, Italy. He and four other soldiers were following along the course of an old river bed early one morning and stumbled on a land mine. Bill Dearmond, one of the three in the group killed by this mine, was buried in the Morro River Cemetery, Ortona, Italy.
The following are the names of those who served with the armed forces:
Keith Seldon Johnson
Ronald Dimmock Starrett
Willis Earl Dearmond
Merle Fred McNutt
Gordon Edwin McNutt
Lloyd Eugene Jobb
Laurie Bernard Burris
Walter Fred Burris
James Chester Burris
Wallace Gilbert Loughead
Herbert William Horton
James Nelson Clarke (U.S.A.)
Viva Lillian Loughead
Also, Ira Creelman, an Air Force pilot, served with the Occupation Forces in Germany recently.
This, then is the history of Beaver Brook and of the courageous folks who peopled this village; a story unfortunately rather sketchy in places but told for the purpose of leaving to posterity a record of the names of those who cleared away the virgin forests and established the homesteads. A few of these farms are abandoned now but most are still occupied and some by the descendants of the original owner.
It is difficult to untangle all the intertwined threads of ancestry, especially on the maternal side where the surname is lost at marriage. However, some of the pioneer families have been traced down through the successive generations in order to show that many in Beaver Brook today can name several of the first families of settlers here and claim them all as forebears.
Also, an attempt was made to leave a picture of the life of our forefathers at work and at play, in joy and in sorrow, at their worship and of their concern for the education of their children. Enough of the present has been mentioned to point up the changes which have taken place since that day, two centuries ago, when James Yuill Esq. signed the grant which gave him all that certain lot of land situated beside the old barns and lying along the Beaver Brook.
History of Beaver Brook 1760 - 1959 Editor & Transcriber: Virginia McCuin Sheppard (Washington State)
History of Beaver Brook 1760 - 1959 Proofreader: Randal W. Oulton
Chignecto Etext Programme Coordinator: Claire Smith
Chignecto Etext Programme Manager: Penelope Chisholm
Chignecto Project Electronic Edition, January 1999.
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