About Earltown

Earltown is a district in northern Nova Scotia nestled in the Cobequid Mountains.   For hundreds, if not thousands, of years  it was a winter hunting and encampment area for the First Nation people.  In 1765 the district became part of a large 200,000 acre grant awarded to the Philadelphia Company.   The company was to settle the grant with protestant immigrants with British background.   The company had some success in bringing settlers to the Pictou area but the Cobequid uplands in Colchester remained a wilderness.  In 1809 the grant was eschewed after which the Crown took over the task of opening up new settlements.

In 1813, two settlers arrived on the eastern boundary of Earltown.  They were natives of Sutherlandshire, Scotland, who had lived for a few years at Roger’s Hill in the Pictou District.  Over the next 20 years, they were followed by several dozen families direct from the eastern parishes of Sutherlandshire.   They formed a distinct community of Gaelic speaking Presbyterians with a peak population of over 1,200 and influenced a larger trading area of approximately 2,000 people with roots in the northern highlands of Scotland.

Over the past  thirty years, a database of 40,000 plus people with connections to Earltown and neighbouring communities has been developed.  In the process many stories, most factual and some simply entertaining,  came to light.  With the aid of modern on line resources,  people from these communities have been located in many of the infant communities of Western Canada and the United States.

This blog is an attempt to share some of those stores.

Glen Matheson

15 comments on “About Earltown

  1. Quita Gray says:

    Glen – this is great. Appreciate what you are doing here!

  2. Lynn Gray says:

    Thanks for all the knowledge you share! It is good to remember our roots and appreciate all that was done to reach this place in time!

  3. Ian MacCara says:

    A lot of much appreciated work posted on your sight. I would like to attach some of your articles to my family tree, do you have any requirements around this?

  4. I have a news article that refers to an event that happened at SPION KOP in the Earltown area. Does this term mean anything to you? A man by the name of TUCKER was injured in a logging operation and was taken to hospital in Truro.

    • GMMatheson says:

      Spion Kop has a Gaelic ring to it but I’m not familiar with name. The only place that I can think of at the moment is “Spain” , the unofficial name of a community on the Clydesdale Road near West Branch. It was so named as some of the first settlers fought in Spain during the Peninsular War. They talked so much about their exploits that others started calling their community Spain. In Gaelic, the adjective often followed the noun so I suspect Kop might be descriptor. The author probably spelled it as it sounded therefore it is not appearing in Gaelic dictionaries.

      • Malcolm Bangor-Jones says:

        Spion Kop was a battle in the Boer War 1900. Crimea and Boer War derived names were not uncommon in Sutherland itself

  5. Don says:

    Hello Glen…I think i went to school with you, my Mother side are Stewarts from above Loganville on the Glen rd…they were shoemakers in behind that old house that Donald and Alan Mac Kenzie own. I’m trying to find out where in Scotland they might have come from? Thanks, Don (Geddes) Johnson 902-890-6030

    • GMMatheson says:

      I had a similar inquiry from Cliff Stewart so I will try to answer for both.
      Murdoch Sutherland Stewart and Christy MacKay were married in 1873 and lived on the farm you mention. Both appear to have been born at Six Mile Brook. Murdoch was a son of John and Christy Stewart. A John R. Stewart and Christy also lived in Loganville in the 1870’s and John was a shoemaker. A John Stewart, shoemaker, and wife Christy lived in the Alton area in the 1860’s. He died in Alton in 1901. His obituary mentions a son Murdoch and other family. The birth date agrees with the John Stewart in Loganville in 1871. Therefore it would appear that the family moved around quite a bit. John was born in 1815 at Six Mile Brook. Most of the Stewarts in the West River area came from Ross-shire.

      • Don says:

        Hello Glen, I wanted to update you a bit on my Stewart research….upon closer examination these Stewarts of mine are the Rogers hill/Hardwood hill gang and as far as I can see really only two families there. One Family is the Murdoch Stewart clan just below James Fitzpatrick on Fitzpaticks Mtn on the MacKean rd. My direct ancestor John the shoemaker who lived in Loganville in 1870’s was from the other Stewart bunch just up the Heathbell rd on the left after the tracks close to Scotsburn. I’m trying to link these two families together. John the shoemaker his Father was John and a native of Scotland. If you happen across anything to link the families would be great. Murdoch Stewart from Fitzpatricks Mtn(Rogers hill) came over from Scotland in 1803 and was listed as having three dependants…..John shoemaker named his first son Murdoch Sutherland and his father John being listed as having been born in Scotland might have been one of the dependents listed with Murdock on the crossing and the close proximity of the two families makes me curious.

      • GMMatheson says:

        Don:
        I know the family that you are referring to in Heathbell but have very little information on them. There are a number of early Stewarts buried in St. John’s Cemetery, Scotsburn, which may have some clues. Have you seen a copy of the History of the Scotsburn Congregation by Rev. J. Murray in which he mentions several of the first families of the area? I have a copy, (somewhere?), and will do a look up for you as soon as I find it.
        Thanks for the update on your research. That family moved around quite a bit compared to others of that era. It makes things more difficult. I notice that John II of Loganville and Alton was married to a Christy MacKay, daughter of David MacKay and Isabel of West Branch. I am having trouble locating them as well.

        Glen

      • Cliff Stewart says:

        I,ve cleared up most of the confusion.Murdock (1803 import ) had a son John AFTER he settled,This is the connection to Diamond/Loganville.He would be app 30 when he moved there and started his family .My Great Gramp Murdock the 3rd was born there 185? when John And Wife(Sutherland )Were already settled.

  6. George and Cassie Stewart moved with thioer family from Nuttby to Earltown in 1940. I notice it,s not in yr surname section.

  7. Don says:

    Hello Glen, Thanks for responding, actually the John II you refer to from Rogers Hill/Hardwood Hill…then Loganville, then Alton was married to Christy Sutherland from 6 mile brook….it was their son Murdoch Sutherland Stewart that was married to Christy MacKay daughter of David and Isobel MacKay. An interesting fact is that Murdoch was first married to Jessie MacKay(Christy’s sister) who died during or shortly after childbirth….Murdoch had several children with Christy in Loganville but mysteriously he ends up I believe in the 1901 and 1910 Col Co. census in the same household with yet another of the MacKay sisters her name is Bessie and 20 years younger than Murdoch. Christy is still back in Loganville with the children. Also, John Stewart(shoemaker) and Christy Sutherland are living almost next door to Murdoch and Bessie in Alton/Lower Stewiacke. Murdoch is hit by a train and killed instantly in Alton 1919. As for David and Isobel MacKay, I have seen references to do with the births of some of Murdoch and Christy’s children to having been born Fishers Grant. Thanks, Don Johnson

    • Cliff Stewart says:

      Directly to loganville ( 1817 ) census through 1809 Philadaphia Land Grant.Inherited by son John then to Murdock, [image: Murdock 1st !817 Loganville cencus.jpg]

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