Halifax County, Nova Scotia
The Valley Views
Vol. 1, Issue 25, 30 April 1975

HISTORY OF THE McCURDY FAMILY

The following family history was submitted by Mrs. Roy McCurdy.  It was written by her daughter Margaret, now Mrs. Douglas Clarke of Calgary,
and it has been condensed for the paper.

Our family has been traced back to Petheric McKirdy, or McCurdy as he spelled it later on, who escaped from the Isle of Bute, Scotland with
his four brothers during a massacre which almost exterminated the name. These brother landed in 1666 on one of the rocky islands near the north
coast of Ireland.  Not long after they traveled to mainland near the Giants' Causeway in County Antrim where they made their home.  Petheric
married in 1667 Margaret Stewart, a relative of James 11 of Scotland. He died near the close of the 17th century leaving three sons James,
John and Daniel all of whom left numerous descendants.  We follow his eldest son James and more particularly Daniel,  the son of this James,
for the branch of the family concerning us.

This son Daniel McCurdy made his home near Bellyhelly near Londonderry. His son Alexander, known as Alexander the Pioneer, born in 1734 set out
for America in 1762 with his bride Jennet.  They landed at Boston, and sailed for Windsor.  As their shop sailed up the Avon River, they got
their first view of the new home.  Unfortunately customs officers, on examining the cargo of the ship, discovered some smuggled goods on board and floated away all the cargo and the possessions of the luckless passengers.  Alexander stayed three years in Windsor then moved to Londonderry, named by somebody, possibly Alex McCurdy, to commemorate this famous city of Ireland.  Here he met the prominent settler James Flemming and also Mr. McLellan.  Alexander soon decided to move on to Onslow, which he deemed to be a better place to settle.  He attempted to persuade Mr. McLellan to abandon his inferior far land and accompany him to Onslow.  But McLellan was adamant.  McCurdy was reported to have exclaimed "McLellan! This is folly, this is folly."  Time proved the fact; McLellan's farm was unproductive and he did not prosper.  His place was referred to as 'McLellan's Folly' from which it easily became "Folly"

Alex McCurdy and his family settled in Onslow on a farm which was once the farm of an exiled Acadian.  This farm was owned by McCurdy
descendants until a few years ago.  By virtue of his hard work, McCurdy soon owned 1500 acres of land.  Also he took up a grant of land in
Musqodoboit.  Alex McCurdy, the Pioneer died in 1808 at 74 years of age,  and his wife in 1900.  They ware buried Onslow.  Alexander's farm
was then carried on by his sons James and Daniel.  James married in 1788 and he and his wife had 7 girls and 7 boys.  Of the 7 sons, two were
Presbyterian ministers, who studied at Pictou, and five were elder in the Presbyterian Church.  These five sons never touched tobacco or
spirits.  James McCurdy, while appearing severe, was a kind and delightful companion to those who knew him.  He was strongly opposed to
the use of tobacco and spirits.   Once a friend gave a packet of snuff, as a present for his wife.  He quietly dropped it over the North River
Bridge and made no more mention of it.  It was said the McCurdy, having seven sons, was the father of 42' feet of McCurdys'  James McCurdy died
in 1854.

Alex McCurdy, fifth son of James, was born in 1797.  He married in 1821 and came to Musquodoboit in 1813 along with his brother James. They
chopped a field on the 300 acre lot in Musquodoboit.  The lot made two farms, operated by these tow brothers for many years.  Alex and his
eldest son were two of the first Charter member of the 'Rising Sun' division of the Sons of Temperance, begun in 1849.  He used to tell of
an old lady who lived between the head waters of the Musquodoboit and St. Marys's River, 15 miles from any other house.  This woman, returning
from Halifax with a 10 gallon keg of rum, stopped at McCurdy's for the night.  In the morning as she was leaving, McCurdy remonstrated her
about the liquor, "Sometime it may be the cause of great harm'.  As it turned out this same rum brought about the death of the old lady for she
was murdered during a drunken brawl.  THe only eye witness to the murder made her way over the 15 miles of desolate forest road, and told the
story.  The murderer was convicted and hanged as so two liver were lost as a result of that keg of rum.  McCurdy was an elder of the Presbyterian Church for over 50 years.

The following appeared in a Halifax newspaper 1888:' Mr. Alex McCurdy is one of the oldest men in the province, being in his 93rd year, is still
hail and hearty and can read ordinary print unaided.  During the present haying, he has been able to mow quite a bit.  His children are all
living, except on who died in infancy, and their ages, with his own, aggregate to 500 years'.

Alex and Janet McCurdy had ten children Two sons, William, and J. Watson, worked the same farm that their father had cleared.  William was
also an elder in the Presbyterian Church and a member of the division. He died in 1932, aged 92.

Roy McCurdy, twelfth child of William McCurdy was born in 1886.  He operated the farm hewed out of the woods by his grandfather.  He ahd his wife, Alice Irene (nee Holman) had 5 children: Frank, Mary, Gerald, Grant, and Margaret.  Roy McCurdy died March 6, 1975.  The farm is now owned by his son Frank.  Mrs. Ira McFetridge and Mrs Vida Lindsay are nieces of Roy McCurdy.  Harold Bentley is a nephew.

HISTORY OF MIDDLE MUSQUODOBOIT SCHOOL

Hugh Smith taught school in Middle Musquodoboit from October 1816 to October 1817.  The first school was provided by in 1817 and was built on
the site now occupied in 1975 by Mr. Greta Dickie on the old road to Glenmore.

Peter Amiraux was recommended for a provincial grant.  At that time the school district was 7 miles from school.  The only teachers available in
Musquodoboit and surrounding areas were disbanded soldiers.  These gentlemen were more proficient in the use of tobacco than in the knowledge of the 3 R's.  Severe punishment was thought to be the best correction for evil.

Rev. John Spratt succeeded in securing the services of James Watson from Scotland.  In a short time he raised the school to the status of an
Academy,  his fame bringing pupils from Truro and surrounding districts.  It was said that Joseph Howe gave roads to Musquodoboit and
Rev. Sprat schools and school masters.

Each family paid what it could and took turns boarding the teacher.  On weekends you could see the schoolmaster with his belongings make the
round of the neighborhood.  His clothes fluttered and bagged in the wind like a scarecrow.

The second school was built before 1860 on the same site as Austin Miller's house. In 1864 Sir Charles upper has a act passed providing for free schools by taxation.  As the pupils increased the community built a larger school of two rooms.  The second school house was sold to William Sedgewick who used it as a carriage shop.  At that time William Sedgewick lived whereMelvin Higgins resides today.  The third school was built about the middle of the present school property in 1894.  As the population increased due to the larger unit a third room was added at a cost of
$10,000.  When this school ceased to be used it was torn down,  The third room was sold to Raymond Ryan who converted it to a house.

The present school, a six room brick building was built in 1964.  The children come by bus from surrounding districts to this elementary
school.

Mrs. K. Reid

OLD KATE OGDEN

Old Kate was, according to her, "the last surviving purebred Micmac living off Reserve in Nova Scotia."  She was born Katherine Cope around
1875 on the small Indian Reserve on the west side of Sheet Harbour - "where old Harry Lawlor "squatted"!"- As a young girl, Kate attended
school in West River, Sheet Harbour, one of her classmates being Florence Currie, later Mrs. Angus McPhee.

Kate still paid irregular, but not infrequent visits to "Sis:, as the older folks caller Mrs. McPhee, when I was boarding at her home in the
late fifties.  I got to know Old Kate very well and too, she was a next door neighbour of Ethel and Charles Weeks, my aunt and uncle with whom I
used to spend summer holidays as a child.

From my earliest recollections, perhaps around 1938, Old kate was a frightening person to youngsters -  and to not a few oldsters, as I was
to later learn.

She lived in her "camp" on the left side of the Sheet Harbour Road about a mil and a half from Upper Musquodoboit.  The camp was mostly    one
room - with a built - on porch and a built-in bunk area.  She had a wood range and oil lamps, but eventually had electric lights in the camp.
After Kate died in the early sixties, the Department o f Highways demolished her home and straightened a turn in the road by building it
directly over her campsite.  Before this final destruction,  I went in and salvaged some pictures, her eye glasses, and oil lamp, an egg beater
and some dishes and an old chair with a moose-hide seat.  Among the pictures is one of Old Kate as well as one of her older sisters, Mary
Ann.

Kate had married Peter Ogden but, as Kate told me personally, "He was no damned good.  He went in to cook in the lumber woods and Mary Ann was
his cookie.  She stoled him from me.  Then he cut his leg with and axe and bled to death - and it served so- and so - right!"

But Kate didn't have to live alone. and, again, the details are directly from her, even though she was known to be a dedicated prevaricator!
Early this century Mary  Ann was " working the waterfront" in Halifax. She came across a young fellow who had been a recent stowaway from
Australia or New Zealand who had been put off ship in that port.  "Mary Ann gave him to me and I've kept him ever since.

My cousin, Evie Weeks, has a picture of Old Kate when she was a young girl.  She was a very beautiful girl then - but time and circumstances
changed all that.  When I first recall her, Kate had a very snub nose - bitten off by a horse many years before.  and her dress became as
eccentric as her deposition as she grew older; an old pair of men's trousers covered by the skirts of at least two or three old long dark
dresses; woolen knee socks and men's lumber man rubbers completed her costume.  The pockets of her trousers served to keep handy a great
number of things - including her jackknife, her pipe and her tobacco.

Kate also like her rum - mostly Black Diamond which she often got from Doctor MacMillan when she would come to Sheet Harbour on the Mail
Coach.   She got more than Black Diamond from the Old Doctor, too - on  one of her visits to him, complaining of a sore foot, the Doctor asked
Kate to take off her boot and sock.  SHe did and the good Doctor was then supposed to have exclaimed, "My soul Kate! I'll bet you ten dollars
that there's not another foot in Sheet Harbour as dirty as that one!" Without a moment's hesitation, Kate stripped her other foot and
collected the ten dollars.

My Dad was always good to Old Kate, driving her to the grocery store, bringing her liquor and doing other errands.  We rarely passed by when I
was small, but that we stopped in at Kate's for a short visit and to see if there was anything she needed.  I think we also stopped because Dad
knew that I was secretly afraid of Old Kate!  The best remembered visits, though , were the few when we would buy baskets from Kate - for
she was no mean craftsman.

The baskets, of every shape, size, description and intent, were entirely handmade; from the cutting and the dragging home of the ash logs to the
pounding out of the splints and the dying and weaving of the brightly-coloured finished products.

Too, Kate would skin a beaver for anyone who caught it, just to be able to keep the carcass with it delicately delicious tail.

Kate loved a good laugh at someone else's expense.  Once, when my Dad was working with the Department of Highways, driving a Caterpillar
tractor - Tom Parker (local "Road Boss") was working on the road grader that it hauled.  They were scraping the old highway that ran past Kate's
camp.  She was out in front  sunning herself or soaking up the warmth of the sun through her several old dresses. Dad, having Kate's attention,
knocked himself on the forehead with closed fist, drew an extended finger across his throat and pointed over his shoulder at Tom.  Kate got
the message, grabber her cane and sped toward the highway  By this time, the grader was along far enough that Kate arrived out abreast with the
of it.  Dad stopped the machine.  Kate put on her most ferocious scowl, rent the air with hideous screams and rushed at TOm, flailing the air
madly with her cane and wildly striking at the road grader.  The poor operator was duly terrified and with a flying leap, left the machine and
disappeared into the thick forest at the side of the highway. Meanwhile, Date Kate all but rolled on the road with laughter over the results of their silently contrived joke!

And Kate was as vulgar and uncouth as she was eccentric and ugly. Besides, she delighted in shocking the more genteel and refined souls in
her company.  A couple of examples should be related, just for the record.

When in Sheet Harbour, Kate would often visit Mr. R.B. Henley, Indian Agent at that time and storekeeper as well.  One morning, arriving at
R.B.'s house early, she asked Mrs. Henley,  "Where is that  fat lazy old xc!@#?"  On being told that R.B. was still in bed, Kate let out a few
choice statements and paraded right through the house to the bedroom and hauled the bedclothes off the startled Mr. Henley.

In 1958-59, I was boarding at the already mentioned McPhee house.  Kate was paying another of her visits to Sis, but decided she had to visit
some people she knew in Murphy Cove, but the tai driver (perhaps with keen recollections of excursions with Kate!) never came.  So I was
prevailed upon to deliver Kate to Murphys Cove, where she planned to spend the night, I had just bought my first car, a new "bug".  Jeddy
Grant, a student in high school, also came along.
 
Kate was 92 years old at that time, she told be and had difficulties right off trying to arrange her arthritis wracked frame into the
Volkswagen.  Finally, she was loaded in and we left.  Before we were out of Sheet Harbour, however, Kate was saying to Jeddy, in the back, " Pass
me that grocery basket 'till I see what I've got, young fellow."  And she dug under some groceries and came up with a pint of her favorite
tonic - Black Diamond.

She offered me a drink, which I pretended to take so as not to offend. I passed the bottle back and Kate had several.  By the time we got as
far as Spry bay, Kate was in a visiting mood, wanting to stop at several  houses to offer a drink to "old so-and-so".  Soon, she had drained her
bottle - but that slowed her down not in the least; she had another in her grocery basket!  So we continued "visiting.  When we got to the
Mooseland Road, Kate decided that wanted to visit Mary Ann's old campsite and we drove up nearly to the village before Kate shouted
"Stop".  Mary Ann's deserted lean-to was at the end of a short road leading down the hill from the main road.  The 'camp' barely existed.
WIth Kate satisfied, however, we proceeded back to #7 highway and west towards Murphy Dove.  Old Kate continued to kill her Black Diamond.

Needless, to say she wasn't overly welcome where she had planned to spend the night.  They wouldn't keep her.  On the way back, Jeddy and I
decided that we couldn't take Kate back to Sis's either, so would have to drive her home to Upper. Musquodoboit.  The 'tonic" was long since
gone so we wouldn't have to stop so often.

On the drive in to the Corner, Kate talked mostly coherently about her past.  She sang for a while then tried to sleep curled up in the
passenger's seat of the Volkswagen.

By the time we has arrived at her place, Old Kate had passed out.  I went in to her camp and got Bill out of bed to help us bring her in from
the car.  He just said, "She drunk again?"  When I told him she was, slightly, he said, " Well, leave her right out there.  This is the third
time this week that she has come home drunk."  And this was Tuesday night!

So, Jeddy and I dragged poor old Kate out of my car and into Bill's and left that 92 year old lady there for the night.  But she survived that
and lived happily on for another two or three years.

If any local "personality" deserves to be researched and written into history surely that character is Old Kate Ogden!

            Norman Deale
 



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