Brick Wall Busters (2010)

At our first meeting of the 2010–2011 season, held on 28 September 2010, we had our first ever "Brick Wall Busters" session. We asked members to submit their Brick Wall Queries. Ten of those queries, five from local members and five from members outside of the area, would be selected for our President, Dr. Allan Marble, C.G.(C) and Virginia "Ginny" Clark, C.G.(C) to make some suggestions how these members might be able to further their research and, hopefully, break down their Brick Wall. This obviously struck a very responsive chord, judging by the number of queries received and the excellent turnout at the meeting. As promised, we are posting the ten selected queries, five local and five from "away", here on our website.
Local Queries
  1. From John McGRATH re: Michael McGrath - 1839 Rocky Bay, Isle Madame, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
  2. From Marion GAETAN re John Evans (1876 – 1945) and Margaret Ella (Phelan) Feetham (1876 – 1918) Halifax, Nova Scotia
  3. From Holly GUNN re William Turner (1794–1934) Annapolis County, Nova Scotia
  4. From John D. WILSON re William Wilson, Gays River, Nova Scotia (1775–1858) and William Wilson, Windsor Road, Nova Scotia (bap. 1775)
  5. From David HORNE re: George Joseph Horne (b. abt. 1791) Nova Scotia

Away Queries

  1. From Barbara A Smith re Abraham Rhodes circa 1784, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia
  2. From Sandy Loughman re Parentage of John Benjamin b 1810 Nova Scotia
  3. From Barbara Northan re Deborah (Pierce) Wynn b 1816 Nova Scotia
  4. From David Reed re: Charles Atkins, Liverpool, Nova Scotia circa 1790
  5. From Kaethe Maguire re Ada (Spicer) Smith b 1858, Falmouth, Nova Scotia

Additional Queries (not selected in initial group)

  1. From Pat Smyth re Robert MacDonald / Leggett  (response by AEM, at the meeting of 16 Oct 2010)
  2. From Miriam (Russell) Fancey re Robert Russell  (response by AEM, at the meeting of 26 Oct 2010)
  3. From William (Bill) Farquhar re Isabelle Grant  (response by AEM, at the meeting of 23 Nov 2010)


  Virginia "Ginny" Clark, C.G.(C)
  Allan E. Marble, C.G.(C)

From John McGRATH re: Michael McGrath - 1839 Rocky Bay, Isle Madame, Cape Breton:
Michael McGRATH born 4 Sep 1839, Rocky Bay, Isle Madame, Cape Breton, last found in the 1871 census age 32 living at home. What happened to him from here?

Michael's father, James McGrath (b. abt 1808 in Ireland, d.29 Nov 1890) lived on a lot in Rocky Bay in 1824. Michael was the first of fourteen children born (1839) in their Rocky Bay home. I have researched and recorded all of the children except Michael. I have applied all the internet services available: NS Vital Stats, 1838 – 1911 census data, Antigonish church records, family search, Arichat/D'Escousse and area Church records, etc. I have also searched land grants and probate records at the Archives. Michael McGrath's born in 1839 have showed up on shipping records and Massachusetts records but I have been unable to connect them to my quest. Michael's mother was Mary ‘Kitty’ Kenny. Any help appreciated. 

Ginny's Comments: 
  • Look for marriage: Did he marry and move away: Marriage from Heather Long's index?
    • Check microfilm of local church marriages, not just index
    • Check all Michael McGraths marriages NSVS from 1871 onwards
  • Antigonish Casket index for obit or other
  • Local Cemeteries
  • Census: Read actual microfilm for Richmond County 1881–1891
    • Try other counties of CB Island
    • Check US census and other records — Maine & Massachusetts
  • Try Halifax records — cemeteries and church and directories
  • Wayne Macvicar's newspaper index for 1901–1950s
  • Land deeds for various counties
  • Probate records for his father James or Michael himself
  • Look for information about his siblings for clues:
    • Patrick McGrath md in Halifax 1881, born CB s/o James & Mary (he married a McGrath widow???)
  • Did he have a second name that he went by later?

QUERY #2: 

From Marion GAETAN re John Evans (1876 – 1945) & Margaret Ella (Phelan) Feetham (1876 – 1918) Halifax, NS

I have searched for years to find the marriage record of my paternal grandparents. John Evans "Johnny" Feetham (1876-1945) and Margaret Ella "Etzie" Phelan (1876-1918). John worked for the CNR.

The family story is that the marriage date was June 1896 at St. Joseph's RC Halifax. This is because of a date on the bottom of a wedding gift and the belief it had to be Catholic. However I know it is my aunt's writing on the statue not something original. There is a wedding photo with no date taken at the studio of W.D. O'Donnell 117 Barrington St. Halifax.

I have searched St. Joseph's, St. Pats and St. Mary's Records with no luck. There are other marriages at St. Joseph's for that time frame questioning the argument that the records were lost in the Halifax Explosion. The NSVS site shows nothing. They are both present in the 1891 census but I can't find them in 1901 but do in 1911. John is found in McAlpine's City Directories and in the 1897-98 one seems to now be in his own house.

Ginny's Comments: 
  • Marriage 1896: NOT in NSHVS on-line or in database.
  • Try microfilm VS indices looking for any misspelling under either name — very faint chance! [ Most RC marriages registered by then.]
  • Try Whalen/Whelan and Phalen/Phalen etc
  • Check city directories for location of both families. [found both in north end on :
    • Luke J and Luke W Phelan on Union St 1894-1897
    • John F. Feetham lives with Susan widow of Evans on Veith St
    • Later on Kaye St, siblings still at Veith St, mother Susan on North Starr St. So obvious parish should be St Joseph's.
  • Check all RC churches just in case and also other denominations tho the family appears to be RC on both sides — try St Mark's Anglican in the north end. St Joseph's is the obvious but there are only 2 marriages in their registers for 1896.
  • Where were the children baptised?
  • Check out siblings: [hers and his — for clues]
    • Deborah Phelan was married by Rev Walsh — St Joseph's in 1892
    • Luke W Whalen was married in St. Patrick's in 1895 [p35]
  • St Mary's check marriages for the 2-3 yrs around 1896. Was this date taken because of photograph and wedding gift and also from birth of 1st child in 1897?
  • Check City Directories for years that O'Donnell the photographer was at 117 Barrington st. Is that definitely the correct couple?
  • Search Hfx newspapers for June/July 1896 [and 1895, 1897] for marriage notice to confirm date. "Acadian Recorder" is easy as they are all on pg 2-3 in a headlined column.
  • Try Truro RC churches as his family was from Colchester and his sister Emma md there 1879.
  • As for the 1901 census — are they in Halifax directory for years 1899-1902? At same address as 1911?
    • If so check out neighbours in index then try looking for these neighbours in 1901
    • Also the mfm has a street listing at the beginning of each enumeration indicating which page has listings for a certain street.
  • maybe they were just plain away and missed that week!
  • search the microfilm, not just automated genealogy index.
  • Looks like Johanna Whalen is a servant in 1900 in south end? [single not widow?]
  • No father or brother Luke in index. Did that family go to the US?
  • What happened to the Feetham family? Try US census on Ancestry at NSARM

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QUERY #3: 

From Holly Gunn [Contact] re William TURNER (1794-1934) Annapolis County, NS

Background: I am compiling a genealogy of descendants of William Turner, born June 16, 1794 at Pells Farm House in Kingsdown in the County of Kent, twenty-one miles from London. He married Hannah Catherine Hiltz 24 November 1818 in Lunenburg, N.S. The marriage certificate states that William is a farmer from Murdoch's Point. William Turner died 24 April 1834 at the age of 40.

Brick Wall Question: Why and how did this William Turner come to Nova Scotia? Was he the same William Turner that received a military land grant in Dalhousie in 1817? Was he a disbanded soldier or Chelsea out pensioner who received a land grant in Dalhousie and left Dalhousie?. 

William Turner and Hannah Catherine Hiltz: The William Turner that married Hannah Catherine Hiltz seems to have appeared out of nowhere. (Dalhousie??) There were no Turner families in the Gold River area at that time. The William Turner that married Hannah Catherine Hiltz did not own land in Lunenburg County although and his children were born there. His children were born in either (Murdoch's Point) Martin's River or Chester Grant, and most of these children settled in the New Ross area. The William Turner from Dalhousie has no children born in that area. In fact, he seems to have disappeared. Many of the early settlers from Dalhousie left. Many of the men married women in the St. Stephen's Parish in Chester. 

William Turner in Dalhousie The William Turner from Dalhousie was described as one of the "late Soldiers of the Regiments of Infantry". "Unto William Turner the tract marked 21S." (Dalhousie Land Grant.) In May, 1821 William Turner's name was included on the petition of military settlers located at Dalhousie, who having complied with the requested Regulations are entitled to grants of land: 21S William Turner 100 acres. (RG 1. VOl. 230. Reel 15333). I have traced this land through the Annapolis Land Records, and it was mortgaged for sale in 1829. It is now Bowaters' land. 

Sources checked:
  • Lunenburg County and Chester Municipality Land Grants.
  • Annapolis County Land Grants
  • Calnek's History of Annapolis
  • Willa Kaiser's History of Gold River, Martin's River...
  • New Ross Historical Society Records
  • Military Records for William Turner — found none born in Kent at that time. Name is very common.
  • Church records for areas near Dalhousie, New Ross, Chester
  • Sources about New Ross and Dalhousie from N.S. Archives
  • I have tried to find him in list of Chelsea pensioners with no luck.
  • I have paid a genealogist in Kent to search for information about this William Turner born at Pells Farm house, but it appears his father was a tenant farmer in the area who stayed on this farm only a few years.
Allan's Comments: Turner

Why and how did William Turner come to Nova Scotia?

  • According to the Return of Military Settlers located at the Dalhousie Settlement to 16 October 1820, a settler by the name of Turner with a family of five was listed as a Pensioner. His occupation was given as mason. Lots in the Dalhousie Settlement had been drawn on 12 July 1817 by disbanded soldiers of the Fencible Corps.
  • Turner appears to be an out-pensioner of the Chelsea Hospital, but we do not know which Regiment of Fencibles he had served with.
  • Check:
    • War Office 97 for Chelsea Pensioners (117 mfm reels). The surname index for each Regiment would have to be checked for William Turner.
    • War Office 25 which includes War Office Registers
  • It appears that William Turner came to Nova Scotia from England to secure a grant of land
Was the William Turner at Dalhousie Settlement the same person as the William Turner in Lunenburg County?
  • Check Probate Records (both Wills and Estates) for Lunenburg and Annapolis Counties for individuals named William Turner. In particular look at the inventory of the estate or estates in order to ascertain land owned or occupied by each William Turner.
  • Also look for the Will and Estate papers for Hannah Catherine Turner (nee Hiltz) for the purposes of identifying land owned or occupied by her.
  • Check land transaction in Annapolis and Lunenburg Counties for William and Hannah Turner.

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QUERY #4: 

From John D. Wilson re William Wilson, Gays River (1775-1858) & William Wilson, Windsor Road (bap. 1775)

We are looking for any piece of information that will resolve the following question:

Is William Wilson of Gays River (1775-1858) one and the same as the William Wilson baptized May 1775 s/o William Wilson & Frances Clarke of Windsor Road?

The William Wilson of Gays River

  • Born 1775
  • Died 15 April 1858
  • Married Catherine Keys, — Marriage Bond 11 November 1807. Catherine was the daughter of William Keys & Isabella (Clarke) Hamilton [Widow]
  • Baptisms for two of their children recorded in church records for St Matthew's United, Halifax.
  • Baptisms for one of their children recorded in church records for St Paul's Anglican, Halifax - Reel 11553
  • Lived in Dartmouth from 18xx to 1819
  • Lived in Gays River / Truro Road from 1819-1858
  • Buried in the Gays River United Church Cemetery, Gays River, Colchester Co., NS.

The William Wilson of Windsor Road

  • Name: William Wilson Jr.
  • Born: 1775 ??
  • Baptized 14 May 1775
  • Birth Place: Windsor Road
  • Religion: Presbyterian
  • Sex: Male
  • Occupation: Unknown
  • Lived: Unknown
  • Died: Unknown
  • Buried: Unknown
  • Mother: Francis Clark
  • Father: William Wilson Sr.
  • Spouse: Unknown
  • Marriage Date: Unknown
  • Siblings:
    1. Thomas [married Mary Elizabeth Bruce]
    2. Joseph [married Elizabeth Willison]
    3. Frances [married Joseph Fielden (ing)] St. Matthews Church Records
    4. Margaret [married John Rogers] St. Matthews Church Records
    5. John

SOURCES: William Wilson Sr.

SOURCES: William Wilson Jr.

Allan's Comments: Wilson 
Was William Wilson of Gay's River the same person as William Wilson Jr. of the Windsor Road, the latter being the son of William Wilson Sr.?

William Wilson of Gay's River: We know his wife's name, his occupation (farmer and mechanic), the names of three of his eight children, and the date he died. He is listed in the 1838 and 1851 census records for Gay's River.

William Wilson Jr. of Windsor Road: He was baptized in 1795, his occupation was carpenter, and he worked in Halifax in 1807 and in 1830. He sold land on the Windsor Road in 1841. Nothing more is known about him!


  • The 1838 and 1851 census records for the Windsor Road and Halifax for William Wilson Jr.
  • Probate Records for Halifax (Wills and Estate papers)
  • Cemetery and Church Records for Windsor Road and Halifax (there are at least seven men named William Wilson married in Halifax during the period 1813 to 1840).
  • Deeds for Halifax County (It may be necessary to read every William Wilson land transaction between 1795 to 1860).
  • Attempt to locate the Probate records for Frances Wilson, the mother of William Wilson Jr.
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QUERY #5: 


From David Horne [Contact] re: George Joseph Horne (b. abt. 1791)

I (David Alexander Horne) can trace my genealogy through Reginald Frederick Horne (1910 - 2007), Hugh Edward Horne (1875 - 1932), George Horne (1829 - 1910, married to Sarah Frost), to George Horne (abt. 1791 - ?, married to Maria).

Jacob Horn arrived in Halifax aboard the ship "Gale" in 1751, one of the Foreign Protestants. He married Francoise Savary in 1756, spent some time in Quebec and eventually settled in Eastern Passage where a son George Joseph was born in 1765.

From census data and the wills of George Joseph Horne (dated May 15, 1848) and George Horne (married to Maria, dated January 23, 1884) one could infer that George Horne (married to Maria) was the son of George Joseph Horne. The problem is, the only record of marriage for George Joseph Horne is to Rachel (Rogers) Cook on May 23, 1805. George Horne (married to Maria) is reported to have been born about 1791. However George Joseph Horne is also recorded to have had two daughters, Mary Ann (b. 1802) and Elizabeth (b. 1804), both of whom would have been born before George's marriage to Rachel. Could George Joseph Horne have been previously married and from that marriage have produced George (married to Maria), Mary Ann and Elizabeth. I have not been able to find any records to confirm such a marriage and would be grateful if I could be pointed in the right direction to find such evidence.

One other fact of interest is that I had my DNA analyzed several years ago and found a good match with Robert Horne of Eastern Passage who has traced his lineage directly to Jacob Horn through George Joseph Horne.

Ginny's Comments: Horne - Eastern Passage
  • Only mentions census and wills, what other sources searched?
  • GANS publications Hfx marriage index and outside Hfx index (Heather Long's)
  • Church registers.
    • Use Dartmouth sources but also Halifax city or all denominations: for baptisms and burials
    • Christ Church Dartmouth and St Pauls for early records, & for after 1860s St Peter's Eastern Passage. St Georges is not listed for that area but lots of "Foreign Protestants" and many areas besides the city.
    • Brunswick St United and St Matthews (indexed)
    • St Andrews start 1818
    • St Johns Presbyterian start 1843
    • GANS marriage index P16 has several Horn girls marrying in RC church by 1830s
  • What about Lunenburg records?
  • Cemetery listings: 2 listed on NSARM new database — St Peters Anglican and Terry Punch did the "Horne" Cemetery which has stones from 1818
  • Land grants and Deeds: deed sale will show a wife if they are selling the land (not in buyers deed tho) She has to sign off her dower rights to the family home.
  • Wills and estate files? Search for info in the Rachel Rogers Cook clue: if she was the second wife, her family may show something — her father's will may mention that she is the wife of George Horn [Eastern Passage] etc
  • Is Maria alive in the 1871 and 1881 census as George Joseph is? [yes age 72-82] Is Rachel alive in those census? [1881 no]
  • Newspaper obituaries: for George in 1884 and look for the wives' deaths and then try newspapers once you have a date
  • School papers [RG14] for the 1820s but might be too late.
  • NSARM Card files :Biography for Horne and also Places for Eastern passage
  • Marriage of daughters Mary Ann & Elizabeth Maybe in Newspaper vital statistics index
  • Did you look for any "Joseph" Horn as sometimes the Foreign Prot use 2nd name.
  • Is your George called George Joseph as well? If not, then Rachel must be 2nd wife.
  • There is a Wm age 48y who died 1794 Hfx St Pauls burials so don't discount that another man could have been George's father

Jacob [Horn] & Francoise [Savary]
  George Joseph 1765-1848 md ? [md 1805 Rachel Rogers Cook]
  • Children:
    1. May Ann b. 1802 & Elizabeth b. 1804
    2. George 1789/91–1884 md ca. 1820 Maria b. ca 1799
    3. George b. 1829 md Sarah Frost
    4. Hugh Edward b. 1878
    5. Reginald Frederick b. 1910
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QUERY #6: 

From Barbara A Smith re Abraham Rhodes circa 1784, Annapolis County

Where did Abraham Rhodes come from and where did he go?

My ancestor was Abraham Rhodes, also written Abram Rhoades, Rhoads and Rodes. He was a discharged soldier of the 40th British Regiment and on the muster rolls of "Discharged Officers and Disbanded Soldiers and Loyalists", taken in the County of Annapolis between the 18th and 29th day of June, 1784. He is found in the Grantee Index as Rhoades, Area 7 Greywood showing he received a land grant in Clements Township, Map 21 (Annapolis and Digby Counties), Annapolis Township.

Previously, Abraham was on the list of payrolls of the 40th British Regiment, dated "Philadelphia 15th March 1778" and apparently served during the Battle of Germantown (Pennsylvania) on October 4, 1777. A previous muster roll taken on May 5, 1777 shows him at Perth Amboy (New Jersey); and, earlier still he was at Staten Island on July 14, 1776. The 40th Regiment of Foot was sent to East Florida in November 1778 while six companies were sent to Antigua in July 1779; the remainder went to Barbados. They departed in 1781 for Great Britain.

The Old Granville Township Book shows his marriage to Mary Barton on November 25, 1785. Mary was probably widowed at the time of her marriage to Abraham Rhodes, as three children were baptized at Granville in 1790: Elizabeth, the daughter of Mary Rhodes, along with John & Thomas, sons of Mary and Abraham Rhodes. According to the Old Granville Township Book, Elizabeth Rhodes was born May 6, 1784 and listed as the daughter of Mary Rhodes. Abraham was not listed as her father and most likely was Mary's daughter by a previous marriage.

The FOSTER GENEALOGY by Reginald Foster, published in 1899, gives Ezekiel Foster's wife as Elizabeth Dring; however, the New Granville Township Bookindicates Ezekiel's marriage was to Elizabeth Rhodes. In another source, Ezekiel Foster's wife is listed as Mary Elizabeth Dring, daughter of Joseph. Also noted, Calnek's HISTORY OF ANNAPOLIS gives Ezekiel's wife as Elizabeth Bacon, daughter of Joseph Dring.

On March 5, 1820 land in Annapolis Co. was transferred (sold) by Abraham Roads to his son, John, for the sum of Five Pounds. Further, son John Rhoads (1825): Petitioner is a native of Granville, Annapolis Co., is upwards of thirty years old, married, and has four children. He asks for a certain lot in River Philip, Cumberland Co. This lot was formerly laid off for John Baret who left the province two years ago.

John Rhodes & Others (1828): Included in petition is John McColla of River Philip, asking for grant of land on which he is settled. Draft grant includes 900 acres near River Philip - grantees include: John Rhodes (200 acres), John McColla (200 acres), Nathan Benett (200 acres), James Rhodes (100 acres) & John McDonald (200 acres). John's brother, James Rhodes was married to Abigail Bacon who is buried at Upper Canard, Kings County. John McColla was married to John's sister, Ruth Rhodes.

The National Archives in Ottawa was unable to provide further information such as where Abraham might have enlisted, and I have been unable to find any records showing what happened to him after he turned land over to his son in 1820.

Abraham Rhodes was the great-grandfather of Nova Scotia Premier Edgar Nelson Rhodes (1876-1942). In an address by W. H. Chase at the opening ceremonies of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia on January 14, 1931, it is written "Premier Rhodes referred to the crying need of this province for an Archives building." The author goes on to say "I would beg to state my indebtedness to my friend Premier Rhodes, for the suggestion of thought; it is he who has taken upon himself the burden of the work in getting suitable plans". In view of his desire and need for a building, it puzzles me he didn't deposit his own family history.
Allan's Comments: Rhodes 
Abraham Rhodes, discharged soldier of the 40th Regiment, land in Clements Twp, 1784

Where did he come from and where did he go?


  • War Office Records, specifically W.O.25 (Registers) and W.O.97 (Pensioners) for the 40th Regt.
  • Loyalist Claims (Audit Office 12 and 13)
  • Hessian or Waldeck Records (one origin of Rhodes is Rohre, a surname connected with the city of Lubeck in Germany). The Hessians were in New York in the summer of 1776 and Rhodes was listed on the muster Roll of a Regiment stationed in that city in 1776.
  • River Philp Township Book (Abraham's son John acquired land there)
  • Cumberland County Probate and Land Records
  • Cumberland County Cemetery Inscriptions

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QUERY #7: 

From Sandy Loughman [Contact] re Parentage of John Benjamin b 1810 NS

There are 4 Nova Scotia Benjamin males who are born in the early 1800's without parentage including my 2nd G Grandfather, John Benjamin B 1810 NS, married to Mary "Edith" Nichols, B 1812, Macaan, Southampton, NS. John and Mary married in 1832 at the Methodist Church in Parrsboro. Their marriage certifiated states John was "late of Horton, Kings County". They migrated after their marriage to Brighton Parish, New Brunswick and then on to Aroostock County, Maine, where John is listed as an early pioneer. The theory is that John, and these 3 other Benjamin males, might be brothers and the sons of Ebenezer Benjamin B 1785, son of Caleb, son of Obadiah, one of the early planters of Gaspereau Valley, Kings County, NS.

On an 1810 petition for land on College Lake in Antigonish, Ebenezer Benjamin (And others) was listed as having a "wife and 2 children". In 1811, this land was sold to Samuel Cunard (Shipping magnate) and Ebenezer's wife on the land deed was listed as Latrasia (Tracy nickname). No maiden name was indicated for her. From 1811 until 1823 Ebenezer married Elizabeth Pineo, B 1786, by a Methodist minister on Nov 1823, Wilmot, there is no information available for Ebenezer Sr during these 13 years. (Note: Many records have listed Elizbeth as dying on Nov 1823, but recent census information places her living in Springfield, NS when she was over 80 years old)

Family descendants of the 3 other Benjamin males born in Nova Scotia have been contacted via email or met together on my many trips to this beautiful province. The three other Nova Scotia males missing parentage in the early 1800's are:

George "Nelson" Benjamin B 1813 Shubenacadie, NS married Caroline Porter Lived in Scots Bay most of his life My cousin's 37 marker YDNA is a match with this family line Descendants don't know parentage or burial place. I've met them in June 2010

William Henry Benjamin B 1814 Possibly Shubenacadie or Annapolis County married Elizabeth Woods - Migrated to Gardner's Creek NB - about 1836 (Same time period as John Benjamin) Descendants have been searching for parentage about 18 yrs. Buried near Gardner's Creek in the family cemetary

Joseph Benjamin B between 1815-1820 - Migrated with William to NB and then Maine - Bachelor - Buried with William in the family cemetary near Gardner's Creek, NB No parentage listed. Joseph may be his middle name.

Census, migration, and given names point, again, to the line of Caleb Benjamin B 1759, son of Obadiah, and Ebenezer Benjamin, B 1785, Gaspereau Valley/Mountain, NS.

Allan's Comments: Benjamin
Four men named Benjamin born in Nova Scotia between 1810 and 1820
Who were their fathers? One would expect the father or fathers to have been born during the period 1760 to 1800
Five Benjamins who could be the father or the fathers are:
  • Abel Benjamin Cornwallis 1762-1838
  • Jacob Benjamin Horton 1768-1832
  • Nathan Benjamin Horton 1784-1817
  • Perez Benjamin Horton 1789-1850
  • William Benjamin Gaspereau 1789-1848
  • Probate Records for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (Wills and Estates)
  • Horton and Cornwallis Township Books
  • Brechin Collection at NEHGS
  • May have to reconstruct all Benjamin families in Nova Scotia prior to 1820
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QUERY #8: 


Barbara Northan [Contact] re Deborah (Pierce) Wynn b 1816 Nova Scotia

My brick wall is my 2g-grandmother. We believe her to be Deborah Pierce, born 28 October 1816 per the 1901 census. Earlier census records indicate birth between 1817 - 1824. She may have been born in Earltown, Colchester County.

She married Matthew Johnston Wynn of Wallace, Cumberland County (no marriage record found). Their first known child was born in 1837. She was a widow in 1871. She is not listed in the 1907-1908 directory or 1911 census, so died between 1901 and 1907.

Their children were John Pierce, Mary Ann, Bethia, Rachel A., Margaret Jane Berry, Peter, Matthew William, Robert James Harrison, Deborah Rebecca Harrison, and Joseph Pierce.

John Pierce was baptized in St. James Anglican Church, Pictou; most of the others were Methodist, baptized in Wallace.

Allan's Comments: Wynn

Deborah Pierce, wife of Matthew Johnston Wynn, born 28 October 1816

When did she die?

  • Cumberland County Cemetery Inscriptions and Wallace Church Records for
  • her death date
  • Check Amherst Daily News and Truro Daily News for her obituary
  • If not found, contact Wynns in the Truro area who may be descendants

Was her last name Pierce?

  • Death records of Deborah's children in Nova Scotia Vital Statistics
  • (Joseph Pierce Wynn's parents given as John Wynn and Deffarca Pierce. It
  • may be that Matthew Johnston Wynn went by the name John Wynn).

QUERY #9: 

From David Reed re: Charles Atkins, Liverpool, NS circa 1790

I am trying to prove a Mayflower descent. Using the Silver Books and the Liverpool Township books I can get from Stephen Hopkins to Mary Foster who married a Charles Atkins, probably in Liverpool in 1818. I can also prove that my 2g-grandparents were Charles and Eloise (Burke) Atkins. What I have not been able to demonstrate is the relationship between the two Charles Atkins.

Charles Atkins Senr (died 22 Nov 1879, aged 85 years)

Mary wife of Charles Atkins (died 10 Mar 1856, aged 58 years)

Charles Atkins Jr (died 17 May 1852, aged 28 years)

Ellowisa wife of Charles Atkins Jr (died 21 Feb 1854, aged 27 years)

All of the above are buried in the Port Medway Cemetery. Also a note that a possible daughter of Charles and Eloise (Burke) Atkins, Cecilia, is listed in the 1871 census living with Charles and Deborah Atkins. Charles is 77 in the census. The Atkins were Baptists which limits the church records available

Ginny's Comments: Atkins Liverpool, NS 
Is Charles the son of Charles?

  • Charles & Ellouise: their birth dates may be off:
  • Look for children:
    • Found in NSVS marriages:
      • Helen Augusta b. ca 1850 md 1870 d/o Ellouisa
      • Cecelia b. 1847??or 1853 md 1871 d/o Louisa
  • Try marriage for Cecelia [1871] to see her parents
  • Her age is different in 1881 census
  • Her death is Amherst 1915 but indexed as Cristia [b. 1852] [no parents...look for obit
  • Check newspaper to see if any mention of parents or grandparents both her marriage
  • Look for 2 nd marriage of Charles sr to Deborah
    • Newspapers [Christian Messenger, etc] and churches - any denomination
  • Will of Charles jr for mention of daughter or other children
  • Will of Charles sr for mention of granddaughter
  • Newspapers for obits of any of the family esp 1852
  • Newspaper for marriage of jr for clues
  • Are the Burkes from the Liverpool area? Are they RC?
  • In cemetery, are all these people buried in same area? family plot or somewhat apart?
  • Be aware that jr does not always mean son of sr.
  • Try deeds to see if any mention of wives or parents
  • TB Smith collection of Queens co. families has local knowledge, check out daughter's married name as well
  • Are there any genealogies of Atkins of Queens co?
  • Charles Atkins d1879 md ca. 1818 Mary Foster d 1856
    • md 2nd ? ca 1857 Deborah
  • Charles Atkins jr 1844-1852 md c. 1864 Elousie 1846-1854 d. 1854
  • Cecelia d/o Chas & Louisa md 1871 Peter Middlemas b. ca 1847-1853
  • Helen Augusta d/o Charles & Ellouisa md William Reed b. 1850

QUERY #10: 

From Kaethe Maguire re Ada (Spicer)Smith b 1858, Falmouth, NS

I have been unsuccessfully searching for Ada Spicer, born 8 April 1858 Falmouth, NS. Baptist. Parents: Amy Lank and Jos. Spicer. Know there are many Spicers in Nova Scotia.

Married at age 15 to Sidney Smith, age 22 on 26 Sept. 1872 Berwick, NS.

Mother of 7 living children: Albert Clifford, known as Cliff (b. 1874-d. Oct. 1956-Boston) ; Mabel Augusta (b. 30 Jul 1876); Florence (b. 1879); Fanny Lu (b. 1881); Cecil (b. 15 Aug. 1885, d. Sept. 1987-Boston); Lester (b. 1893-D. 1971 MA); and Aubrey-older than dates known.

Ada disappears after the mysterious death at sea of Sidney in 2/1895. Eldest son, Albert Clifford Smith is by now in Boston, MA and all of the siblings eventually leave NS and go to Boston. Clifford brings up the youngest child, Lester, b. 1893. after age 7. He has made annual trips to Boston with Smith relatives each year before he comes to stay. (Have copies of shipping/passenger records).

Have used every available on line source as well as the New England Genealogical and Historical Society Library in Boston and have consulted with their staff for help. Do have a photo copy of her marriage cert to Sidney. Even tho Sidney was a Presbyterian, it was a Baptist ceremony for the marriage. Family lore is that Sidney was mutinied and thrown over board and that Ada went back to the blanket..i.e back to her people.

I have hopes of eventually visiting Nova Scotia. Joined GANS in hope of finding Ada great great grandmother. I live in East Sandwich, MA on Cape Cod. My Smith line left Newport, RI for NS in May of 1760. My Smiths settled in Hants, NS and married into the Gilmore line. (Rev. Geo Gilmore-Presbyterian)

Ginny's Comments: Spicer/Smith Kings County - what happened to Ada?
  • Where are they in 1891?
    • Sidney & Ada are in Canning in 1881
    • 1871 census has Ada in Lakeville with very young parents Joseph & Annie
  • Sidney died Feb.1895—check for:
    • newspaper account - if he was master he might be named in shipping information in the newspapers, or maybe a death notice.
    • a death notice - Check any newspaper indices for death 1895—Presbyterian Witness, Christian Messenger
  • Are there any probate papers for him? Try various counties, especially Kings co
  • Ada was only 37y she probably re-married, tho she doesn't show up in NS [indices first marriage slip looks like "Ada A. Spicer" try different name
  • Check Kings county church records for remarriage or burial
  • Check Kings county cemeteries—the local historical society there has discs and a database.
  • Check any newspaper indices for death after 1893 [last child]—Presbyterian Witness, Christian Messenger or new marriage.
  • Though Sidney was Presbyterian, couples usually married in the bride's church.
  • NSARM biography cards indicates that Capt. Sidney Smith of Advocate Harbour is mentioned in Scrapbook MG9 vol. 194, p118

*Why would Aubrey bring Lester as small boy to Boston unless Ada was dead?

  Maybe she went to Boston and couldn't take care of little ones so left them with her family in NS?

  If she went back to her family, then try Falmouth and Berwick records.

Sources for Query #4

Sources for William Wilson of Gays River

  1. Marriage Bond dated November 11th, 1807. William Wilson & Catherine Keys. Joseph Hamilton also signs bond. Joseph Hamilton is Catherine keys half brother, as Isabella Keys' 1st husband was William Hamilton.
  2. See Church records for St Matthews United, Halifax. Baptisms 1769 - 1857. MG4, Vol 46. Reel 15037.
    • Baptized on December 23, 1810 - Joseph James - son of William and Catharine Wilson.
    • See the Church Records for St Pauls Anglican, Halifax - Reel 11553 Page _ .
    • Baptized Feb 7th,1813 - Thomas s/o William & Catharine Wilson.
    • Baptized in May, 1817 - Edward Hamilton - son of William and Catharine Wilson.
  3. Deeds: Release of land by Isabella Keys and others to James, John and Thomas Keys. William Wilson and Catharine Wilson, his wife, appear to be acting with Isabella Keys in this transaction. Catharine is her daughter. Dated 12 January 1818. Mentions that William & Catherine are living in Dartmouth.
  4. Reference is made to William Wilson in Rev. Robert Blackwood's diary/church book re. Money for quarrying (RG4, Vol 144, Nov. 5, 1819 & Dec. 23, 1819) Reads as follows: Nov 5, 1819 ; 2 pounds to Wm Wilson .... Dec 23, 1819, 2 pounds to Wm Wilson, masons ? for Quarrying. INTERESTING NOTE !! On the same page in Rev Blackwoods Day Book that Wm Wilson is mentioned appears the name Joseph Hamilton. Reads as follows: 15 - 6 to Joseph Hamilton. Joseph Hamilton was William Wilson's brother in law!
  5. See the Estate Papers for Isabella Keys, wife of William Keys Sr. PANS, Ref RG 48, Estate Papers Reel 410, #K36., dated August 1827. William & Catherine (Keys) Wilson inherit 72 acres.
  6. Census of 1827 , Truro Road, Hallifax County lists William Wilson's occupation as a manufacturer. Number of children = 8 ; 7 males, 1 female.
  7. See Tax Assessment Records for Gays River 1835-1845. Call # ?? – William Wilson listed her for years: 1835, 1838 – 1841. In 1842 William Wilsons name is crossed out on the list and replaced with the name Richard McHeffey, Property sold or transferred ?? Also William Wilson,s name is not listed. In addition, in 1844, George Moores name is crossed out and replaced with the name James Wilson. Assessment 100, 110, 0.1.6. The previous name to this is James Taylor
  8. Census - Truro Road - 1838 - RG1-Vol 448,#172-176 Place: Truro Road Head of Household: William Wilson Occupation: Farmer # of Males under 6: 3 # of Females under 6: # of Males under 14: 2 # of Females under 14: 1 # of M over 14 not H of House: # of Females over 14: 2 Total: 9
  9. See Road Petitions for Gays River,Halifax County,P-1829 (RG5, Vol 93, #65), P-1830A (RG5,Vol 95, #33), P-1830B (RG5,Vol 95, #169), P-1847C (RG5, Vol 109, #151). William Wilson Signed
  10. 1851 Census (Gays River) Information on William Wilson Jr Occupation states that he is a Mechanic.

Sources for William Wilson Sr.

  1. William Wilson Sr. - Marriage recorded in the Church Records for St Pauls Anglican. Reel #11553 - Marriage License - May 2, 1774 William Wilson, Bachelor & Frances Clarke, Spinster.
  2. Baptisms for three of William Wilson Sr's children are recorded in the church records for Saint Matthews Baptisms 1769 - 1857. United, Halifax. a) Baptized on May 14, 1775 - William Wilson son of William and Frances Wilson. (Page 8) b) Baptized on April 14, 1779 - Frances daughter of William and Frances Wilson. (Page 12) c) Baptized on January 4, 1783 - Margaret daughter of William and Frances Wilson. (Page )
  3. Baptism for Thomas Wilson, s/o William & Frances Wilson, recorded in the Church Records for St Paul's Anglican, Halifax - Reel 11553, Page 109 — Baptism — Thomas Wilson — 30 September 1777.
  4. See RG1 Vol 371, Reel 15434 "A List of Grantees of land in Nova Scotia 1763 - 1811." William Wilson is listed here twice. First in 1778 for lot #14 on Windsor Road. Second in 1785 for Lot #14 on Windsor Road but this time the word "Granted" appears next to his name.
  5. William Wilson Sr. is granted Lot 14 along the Windsor Road in 1785. (William Wilson Sr.'s father, (name unknown) was encouraged to settle there in 1772, by order of the government) Ref RG20A Land Petition Wm Wilson, 1785 viz — The Memorial of William Wilson Humbly Sheweth That your Memorialist's late Father deceased was first in possession of a Lot of Land on Windsor Road No. 14 North East side & encouraged to settle there by Government in the Year 1772. That since that time Your Memorialist hath made Improvements thereon by Clearing, Building & Cultivating the same, & has a family of his own & his aged Mother to maintain.
  6. Nova Scotia Poll Taxes. RG1, Vol 444, No 69, 1793. Halifax Township - William Wilson, Farmer, 1 horse, 3 cattle.
  7. 20 February 1800 — Road Petition — Settlers between Sackville Bridge and the Northeast boundry of the county of Halifax - William Wilson signs — RG5, Series A, Vol 7, #8
  8. Deed dated 12 March 1801 — William Wilson & Wife of Windsor Road sell land in Bear Cove to William Johnson — Halifax Co. Deeds 1799 — 1804, Reel 883, #29
  9. William Wilson Sr. dies sometime around 1812. The Acadian Recorder: Estate Notices for 1816 / 1817 reads: Estate: William Wilson, Mason, of Windsor Road Administrators: Francis Wilson & Joseph Wilson Original Date: March 2nd, 1816 ?? This notice appears in the following Volumes. 1817, January 4th, Vol 5, #11817, March 1st, Vol 5, #91817, May 3rd, Vol 5, #181817, June 7th, Vol 5, #23. On 28 February 1816, Frances Wilson, widow of William Wilson Sr., and her son Joseph Wilson are granted permission to be Administrators for William Wilson Sr.'s Estate. . Estate documents found and examined to date do not provide and detailed information as to the Goods and Chattels for William Wilson Sr. or reference to his children.
  10. 1 July 1815 — Joseph Wilson and Frances Wilson (Widow) of Windsor Road petition for land in St. Marys River. In the petition is states that Joseph was born and brought up on Windsor Road and that Frances has 6 children.
  11. Search for a Will for William Wilson Sr. OR William Wilson Jr. returned zero results.

Sources for William Wilson Jr.

  1. Baptized on May 14, 1775 - William Wilson son of William and Frances Wilson. (Page 8) Rev. John Sycombe, St. Matthews Church Baptism Records 1769-1857
  2. 3 June 1807 – William Wilson Junior of Halifax, NS, Carpenter & Joseph Wilson of Windsor Road, Halifax Co., NS, Mason mortgage land to Phebe Moody for 222 pounds.
  3. 10 April 1830 — Release of Mortgage — William Wilson Junior of Halifax, NS, Carpenter & Joseph Wilson of Windsor Road, Halifax Co., NS, Mason, release lands to William O. Porter (Husband of Phebe Moody) in default of payment.
  4. 11 February 1841 — Deed - William Wilson Jr. to William Dixon Hamilton, both of Halifax County, Nova Scotia. William Wilson Jr. sell his share (125 acres) of Lot 14, Windsor Road, for 20 pounds. (125 acres = 2/7ths share of 500 acres to oldest son ?)


Additional Query read at the meeting of 16 October 2010

QUERY #11: 

From Pat SMYTH—Surname: Macdonald or Leggett. He joined Montgomery's Highlanders after father killed at Culloden under Macdonald name but used Leggett in late 1700's in Ireland.

A Loyalist, Robert Macdonald/Leggett arrived in Nova Scotia after the American Revolution. He had settled in North Carolina with other Highlanders c 1762 such as flora Macdonald in area near Fayetteville.

He married a Una Stewart ( Stuart) in either Halifax North Carolina or Halifax Nova Scotia.

Some time after arriving in Nova Scotia but maybe before receiving land they boarded a ship intending to return to Scotland. They settled instead in Wicklow/Wexford area of Ireland.

Robert's grandsons John and Robert Leggett emigrated to Leeds County Ontario as Loyalists in 1817.

I have not been able to find the regiment he fought with or any conclusive Revolutionary war information yet.

  1. A marriage if it took place in Nova Scotia about 1780 between Robert Macdonald or Leggett and Una Stewart/Stuart.
  2. The location of a grant if in fact he was given one.
  3. The name of the Regiment he fought with.
  4. Births of children if they did occur in Nova Scotia. Likely names are John, Gabriel, Robert.
Thank you for considering my Brick Wall.
Note: Another member of the family has proven the Loyalist connection.
Allan's Comments: MacDonald / Leggett

The person submitting the query does not indicate the sources for any of the information given in the query.

If we assume that he/she has sources for the information, one could suggest the following:

If Robert Macdonald/Leggett did live in North Carolina prior to the Revolution, and came to Nova Scotia after the Revolution, he very likely submitted a claim for his losses. Check Loyalist Claims A.O.12 and A.O.13.

If this Macdonald/Leggett was with Montgomery's Highlanders (the 77th Regiment, disbanded in 1763) and then joined another Highland Regiment in 1775 (probably the 84th), there could be some record of him in British Army Registers (W.O.25) or in Chelsea Pensioner Records (W.O.97).

Needless to say there are numerous land grants for Macdonalds in Nova Scotia but only three for Leggetts who appear to have settled in Country Harbour, Guyborough County in 1784. Country Harbour was settled by disbanded soldiers from North Carolina in 1784. Check the records of this family to see if they have any connection to Macdonalds.

Check the marriage records for North Carolina for the marriage of Robert Macdonald to Una Stewart/Stuart. There is no such marriage recorded in Nova Scotia records.


Additional Query read at the meeting of 26 October 2010

QUERY #12: 

From Miriam (RUSSELL) FANCEY—Surname: Russell.

Our family has been searching for years to find death, marriage or birth records for Robert RUSSEL / RUSSELL to try to determine his parents and siblings. I would be really grateful if you could point me in another direction to continue my search or let me know if I have overlooked something obvious.

Robert was born in Scotland, married (may have eloped with the daughter of the farm where he worked as a laborer) and had 5 children there. He had a good job as paper maker in Ayton, Berwickshire, Scotland but emigrated in 1831 with his family to Nova Scotia. There is information that he may have come to Nova Scotia with his brothers who were stone masons, to work on the Shubenacadie Canal but it is my understanding that work on the canal had stopped by this time. Robert and his family settled in Glengarry (near Dryden Lake), Pictou County, Nova Scotia. He may have run a mill in the area for a while but was listed as a farmer according census returns.

He lived in Glengarry all his life, was presbyterian and may have been a prominent freemason. He could be buried on the family farm as we cannot find him or his first wife in the local cemeteries. Many earlier family members are buried in the Marshdale Cemetery in Hopewell area.

Over the years we feel we have searched the obvious sources and my father, Rev. Stewart Russell, and I even visited the Chirnside area in Scotland but really just enjoyed the area without finding out any more relevant information.

Thanks for considering this request,

Miriam (Russell) Fancey
Allan's Comments: Robert Russell Sr

Find records of his birth, marriage, death, and parents

The person submitting the query did not indicate what sources had been researched except that census records had indicated that Robert Russell was a farmer in Pictou County.

I found a Robert Russell in the 1838 and 1851 census records living in the Middle River district of Pictou County. He was not listed in the 1861 census for Pictou County.

There is no death notice for a Robert Russell in the Presbyterian Witness or in the Colonial Standard newspapers.

There is no cemetery inscription for a Robert Russell in Ritchie's Pictou County cemetery inscriptions.

No Robert Russell petitioned for a grant of land in Nova Scotia but a Robert Russell Sr transferred the deed of land at Middle River, Pictou County, to his sons John and William by his will dated 19 May 1865.

Robert's will on mfm reel 19,936 indicated that he made the will on 23 March 1858 and that the will was proved on 19 May 1865.

Robert's estate papers (mfm reel 19,993) proved to be the most important source because one of the witnesses to his will submitted a letter to the Probate Court in which he stated that Robert Russell Sr. died at Middle River in 1860.

Directions for determining Robert's birth and marriage information:

According to gravestone inscriptions for two of his sons, they were born in Berwickshire, Scotland. Research will have to be done on the Presbyterian church records in Chirnside, Berwickshire and environs to find Robert's birth and marriage records and the names of his parents.


Additional Query read at the meeting of 23 November 2010

QUERY #13: 

From William (Bill) Farquhar—Surname: Grant.

Death of Isabelle (Sabean) GRANT: between 1901 - 1908?
  born: 3 October 1821 in Weymouth (Digby County)
  married: 29 December 1846 to Peter Grant of Weymouth
  1901 census: living with her son in Weymouth North
  1911 census: NOT listed
  1908+ death records for Nova Scotia: no record for Isabelle Grant
  marriage records for Nova Scotia: Isabelle Grant was not re-married after 1901 census
  NO obituary in Digby Courier newspaper

Allan's Comments: Isabelle Grant

What is the date of her death?

Living in Weymouth North in 1901 but her name does not appear in the 1911 Census. No death record in Nova Scotia Vital Statistics for her between 1908 and 1911. According to Mr. Farquhar there is no obituary for Isabelle in the Digby Courier.

Some observations:

  • According to the 1901 Census, Isabelle was a Baptist as was her son Watson Grant with whom she resided. Watson died in 1944 and is buried in the Hillgrove Cemetery in Digby County. If he has a gravestone it should be viewed to see if his mother's name is also engraved on the stone. If this is not the case, the burial records for the Hillgrove cemetery should be located and checked.
  • The death notices in the Digby Courier should be checked for the period 1901 to 1908. At the same time the weekly or biweekly entries for Weymouth North and Brighton should be read. I have found that in some cases a death will be noted in a community column but not appear in a list of death notices. Watson Grant was living at Brighton in 1911.
  • I have checked probate records for Digby County (both wills and estate papers). Nothing for Isabelle but there are estate papers for her husband Peter (dated 1886).
  • If the death notice is not found in the Hillgrove cemetery records or the Digby Courier one would have to check:
    • Records of all of the Baptist churches and cemeteries between Digby and Weymouth.
    • Undertakers records for Digby and Weymouth.
    • The records of the Digby County Poor Farm and Asylum at Marshalltown. These records are at the Admiral Digby Museum. The Digby Courier published the names of all residents of the Poor House and Asylum in the January issues of the Courier each year during the early years of the 2oth century.

Always keep in mind that she may be described as Bell, Bella, Isabel, and Isabella