Margaret Mulrooney, curator at the Colchester Historeum, presents an award to Glen Matheson, in appreciation for his work in researching, preserving the history of the Earltown area. He maintains an Earltown heritage blog. – Lynn Curwin
It was an honor to have been selected for this award. When I started out on this journey in the 1970’s, G.R. Sutherland’s “Rise and Decline of the Community of Earltown” (1) had yet to be written. “The Historical and Genealogical Record of Colchester County” (2), aka The Miller Book was silent on the area. The “History of Tatamagouche” (3) provided a footnote. Isreal Longworth, in 1866, did provide a brief narrative in his “History of Colchester County” (4). I was convinced that there must have been a richer history awaiting discovery.
I had the good fortune of being raised on a multi-generational farm and met many of my grandparents’ generation who would visit our home at Balfron. The topic of conversation would often venture into family history and stories of people in the surrounding communities. Three of my grandparents were descendants of the people who settled at Earltown and the sister communities of West Branch and Scotsburn. The remaining grandparent was the descendant of the Montbeliard and Lowland settlers of Tatamagouche and New Annan.
My early research took me into the homes of the elderly of Earltown, The Falls, Balfron and Tatamagouche Mountain. These people either remembered the child settlers or the first generation to be born in those hills. Some thought genealogy was a waste of time as everyone in those parts were related. That turned out to be nearly true so the question became not to whom were we related but how were we related. A couple of trips to Sutherlandshire brought a new dimension to the story and things evolved from there.
Two mentors come to mind. Gladys Sutherland MacDonald had a treasure of information gathered over her lifetime which she shared without hesitation. Margie MacKenzie Wilson offered great encouragement and freely gave me most of her intellectual property. I also have to mention my great aunt, Reta Murray MacRae. She had scrapbooks of old newspaper obituaries which I would pour over in the dim light of her kerosene lamp.
A book has always been a goal but finding time to work on one has been a challenge. Consequently this blog was formed to share some of these stories and findings in case the book never happens. Unfortunately the frequency of posts has not been to my satisfaction. We do what we can.
In addition to connecting with some fine people of the Earltown diaspora throughout the continent, the blog has opened a few doors with historians in Scotland who are studying emigration from Sutherlandshire as well as matters of faith and gender. This led to frequent correspondence with Professor James Hunter while he was writing “Set Adrift Upon the World – The Sutherland Clearances”, during which we were able to connect the dramatic events in the clearance of Clyne with the settlement of The Falls and West Earltown. Prof. Elizabeth Ritchie of the University of the Highlands and Islands in Dornoch has been a tremendous help in understanding the lifestyle and faith of our people at the time they emigrated. I also have to mention Dr. Malcolm Bangor-Jones of Lochinver, long time correspondent, who saves me from myself when writing about things that I don’t fully understand.
It is my understanding that some regular followers of this blog submitted nominations. Thank you !
The accompanying article has a couple of facts slightly off, (my fault), but otherwise correct. Here is the link to the Truro Daily News article.
(1) Sutherland, G.R., The Rise and Decline of the Community of Earltown, Colchester Historical Society, Truro, NS 1980
(2) Miller, Thomas, The Historical and Genealogical Record of Colchester County, A.W. McKinley, Halifax, NS 1873
(3) Patterson, Frank, History of Tatamagouche, Royal Print and Litho Co., Halifax, NS 1917
(4) Longworth, I., History of Colchester County, circa 1886