Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Canadian Branches ~ Martin Beck, the King's Baker

As I proceed with my blog theme for this year, I am alternating between my Nova Scotia ancestors and my New Brunswick ancestors. Thus I move on from my Nova Scotia Archibalds to my New Brunswick Becks. Evenly distributed research time makes for a fruitful assortment of stories. Enjoy!

During one of the most fluid settlement periods in Canadian history, my Beck ancestors traveled from Germany to Pennsylvania to New Brunswick, Canada.  Encouraged by William Penn's visit during a period of religious and spiritual controversy in their homeland, many Germans had crossed the Atlantic in search of religious freedom. A great many settled in Philadelphia and environs.

Families like the Becks (and many other families my "cousins" will recognize, like Stief and Lutz) , spurred on by land speculators like Benjamin Franklin, and the ever-present Alexander McNutt, eventually embarked for an even more uninhabited land, Nova Scotia.* In fact, as early as 1763, my fifth great grandfather, Martin Beck, affixed his name on a petition to the Governor for cleared land at Cumberland.  Such petitions were invariably met with enthusiasm, as expressed in this letter to London:

    "...German immigration from the older colonies to Nova Scotia ... will be materially strengthened by the acquisition of these 'frugal, laborious and industrious people'...[and] will not only improve and enrich their property but, if need be, 'pertinaciously defend it'."

If he received this land and sailed from Philadelphia right away, he would have arrived at Fort Cumberland during a time of immense upheaval. Fort Cumberland had been secured by the British in 1755, following its occupancy by the French, under the name Fort Beausejour.

Many new settlers found themselves dependent on "the King's Stores" at the garrison, especially during those first winter months. Flour, in particular, was very scarce.

It was in his capacity as King's Baker** at Fort Cumberland that Martin Beck had his first contact with the other Pennsylvania German settlers. My sixth great grandfather, Heinrich Stief, was one of the heads of households whom he undoubtedly encountered.

According to the so-called "1775 Hillsborough Census," the Becks had by then moved to Hillsborough, and were neighbors to many other Pennsylvania German immigrant families. His two daughters married two of Heinrich Stief's sons. Mary married Henry Stief/Steeves and had five surviving children. Sophia married Matthias Stief/Steeves (my fifth great grandfather!), with whom she had 13 children.

Thus, Martin Beck, the Baker of Fort Cumberland, became the father-in-law of Heinrich Stief's two sons.

*This part of Nova Scotia eventually became New Brunswick.
** Some sources on the Beck family cite son Jacob as "The King's Baker."

Photo credits:


Part of brochure produced by the Societe du Monument Lefebvre and Parks Canada (


Hempel, Rainer L., New voices on the shores: early Pennsylvania German settlements in New Brunswick (Toronto, German-Canadian Historical Association, 2000), p. 202


Daniels, Michele LaBree, One Big Circle website,

Fort Beausejour-Fort Cumberland Une Histoire / a history : brochure produced by the Societe du Monument Lefebvre and Parks Canada (

Hempel, Rainer L., New voices on the shores: early Pennsylvania German settlements in New Brunswick (Toronto, German-Canadian Historical Association, 2000).

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Canadian Branches ~ "Long John" Archibald and the Walking Contest

"Long John" Archibald (1758-1831), my fourth great grand uncle, found himself in the middle of a road controversy centering around Brookfield, Nova Scotia, in 1792. And, due to some underhanded business, came up short.

The Truro and Brookfield citizens of the day were of various minds as to where the official road from Halifax to Pictou should be. One blazed path lead from Lower Village (present-day Lower Truro) past Brookfield. The other led from Truro, at Young's Road (present-day Young St.), and met the first at a place known as Tucker's Clearing (present-day Hilden). The government left the decision to the local folks to decide which route would form this section of the Great Pictou Road, and then it would be developed at public expense.

The Lower Village residents were in favor of the first route, while the citizens of Truro and Brookfield strongly preferred the second way. A wager of five gallons of rum accompanied a bet that a man from Truro would walk the road in less time than the Lower Villagers could find anyone to walk the one of their choosing. If the Truro crowd's hopes were dashed, they lost the rum and the road.

On the day of the walking match, my ancestor, "Long John" Archibald, was chosen for the Truro route and William Johnson was chosen for the Lower Village one.

However, unknown to but a few, the Lower Villagers had hidden a horse along their route, which Mr. Johnson came upon, and mounted for the rest of the trip. Of course, the result was that he reached the Clearing at Hilden ahead of "Long John," walking back toward Truro to meet him.  

The Lower Village road was chosen as the final route. Supposedly, the secrets surrounding this decision remained hidden, until the details were revealed about seven years later in a court of law.


Longworth, Israel, Israel Longworth's history of Colchester County, Nova Scotia (circa 1886) (Truro, Bob and Ada Mingo, 1989), pp.66-67.

Miller, Thomas. Historical and genealogical record of the first settlers of Colchester County, down to the present time, compiled from the most authentic sources. (1873).

Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Canadian Branches ~ Bounty Land for Archibald Brothers

The four sons of John Archibald (my sixth great grandfather) of Londonderry, New Hampshire, all served with His Majestry's Provincial Militia during the French & Indian War.

His two oldest sons, David and Samuel, served under Captain Alexander McNutt. David enlisted as a private, while Samuel was a corporal. Their enlistment lasted 27 weeks, from May 26th to November 30th, 1760. David's military pay totalled £12, 3s.

His third son, James, initially served with the King's New Hampshire Militia, and marched to Fort Edward and Fort William Henry, near Lake George, New York, in 1755. There he was commissioned a Sergeant and transferred to Captain Robert Rogers' Rangers, the scouts who communicated between British and American colonial forts. He was captured by the French in April of 1756, and taken to Montreal as a prisoner of war. He remained there until he escaped five months later. He rejoined Rogers' Raiders, warning General John Winslow that Montcalm was preparing to attack the British with 14, 000 men.

The Victory of Montcalm's Troops at Carillon
By Henry Alexander Ogden (1854-1936)
 (Online Transferred from en.wikipedia) [Public domain],
 via Wikimedia Commons

The fourth and youngest son, Thomas (my fifth great grandfather), served as a private in His Majesty's service on the Merrimack River, under the command of Colonel Joseph Blanchard, from September 17th to November 16th, in 1754. He was paid £5, 19 shillings, and 9 pennies.

For their service to the King, the four Archibald brothers, perhaps through the auspices of Alexander McNutt, were granted land in the British territory of Nova Scotia. They were part of a settlement effort which began in 1760, whereupon they eventually brought their wives, children, and extended families to the mouth of the Salmon River, as it flowed into Cobequid Bay.

David and his family settled in Nova Scotia by the summer of 1762. He was allotted 2 rights (or shares) amounting to 1000 acres in the newly formed Truro Township. His "House Lot" portion was situated on the north side of the Salmon River (in the area now known as Bible Hill) and this was where he built his home.

Bible Hill

Samuel and his family came to Nova Scotia in the year 1762, with the date December 13th being recorded in county histories as the date of their arrival at Fort Belcher. If this is true, then it is very likely that Samuel and his elder sons would have been here for a time before this date, preparing for their family as they could not have arrived in December without having shelter and provisions.

James was briefly in Truro Township in 1762, but returned to New Hampshire to take care of unfinished personal business. One, in particular was to sue his former commander, Robert Rogers, for pay and bounties he had not received during his military service. He eventually won his case, sold his property, settled his debts, and headed to Nova Scotia. His 500 acres of land were also on the north side of the Salmon River.

Thomas, my fifth great grandfather, along with his wife, Janet Orr, arrived in Truro Township in 1762, with two small children, and an infant who had been born aboard ship during the voyage. They also settled on Bible Hill, adjacent to the properties of David and Samuel. Along with his family came his sister Elizabeth, Elizabeth's husband Matthew Taylor, his sister Eleanor, Eleanor's husband William Fisher, and his sister-in-law Martha Orr, with her husband Samson Moore.

Photo Credit:

Bible Hill 1800s

The Victory of Montcalm's Troops at Carillon


Colchester Families Database, maintained by Jane Wile at

GeneJane's Roadmap to Colchester Families at

Miller, Thomas. Historical and genealogical record of the first settlers of Colchester County, down to the present time, compiled from the most authentic sources. (1873).

Marble, Allan Everett. The Archibald family of Nova Scotia: No reward without effort. (2008)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My Canadian Branches ~ The BIG Archibald book

It was a very Fallish day this past October when I joined my genealogy pal Barbara Poole in Boston. We had planned a trip to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and we weren't going to let a pesky Nor'easter foil us.

After a brief tour for this first-timer, I set up my laptop and pulled out my notes. I wanted to take full advantage of this visit.

I came upon my note about a book that I wanted to look at. It was about the Archibald family in Nova Scotia. According to WorldCat, it was in only six libraries, and NEHGS was one of the six. So I approached the reference librarian with my note. Yes, she indicated, it should be in the stacks.

When I emerged from the stacks and headed back to my work area. I had a huge smile on my face! As it turned out, I had managed to find one of the largest, heaviest books in the NEHGS library.

The Archibald Family of Nova Scotia: No Reward Without Effort, written by Allan E. Marble, and published in 2008, is a massive tome of over 1000 pages, and requires both hands to carry to the table.

Up to this point, I had researched my Archibald line back to Thomas Archibald (ca. 1733-1796) and Jennet Orr (ca.1733-1784), my fifth great grandparents. So I turned to the very early pages, deciding which pages to photograph with my smartphone.

What I found invaluable in this book were the extensive footnotes. Included were not only references to the "Miller book" (Thomas Miller, Historical and Genealogical Record of the First Settlers of Colchester County, 1873), and Longworth's History of Colchester County, but also notations on gravestone inscriptions, and citations from the Nova Scotia Archives in Halifax. The Archives has county marriage and death records, county deed books, township books, estate records, and proprietors' books.

I've downloaded a copy of the Miller book, and purchased Longworth's History through Abe Books. My Canadian genealogy library is growing!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 ~ The Year for My Canadian Ancestors

Because of the confluence of events occurring in 2015, I am devoting my blogposts this year to my Canadian ancestors in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. These Canadian forebears all stem from my maternal line, a line that at times immigrated to the States, and, at other times, stayed "Down East." 

I have chosen five families from each province. Some lines I can confidently trace "across the pond," although that is not my goal this year. Some lines are more challenging and will require more in-depth research. Did I mention travel? More on that in a bit.

My Nova Scotia families are:


My New Brunswick families are:


As you may recognize, many of these families are of Irish (as in present-day Northern Ireland) descent, with a Scottish contingent (MacKay pronounced mack-eye), a Yorkshire immigrant, two Pennsylvania German immigrant families, and a Loyalist line. Be prepared for a wide variety of stories.

I am fortunate to have inherited my great grandmother's scrapbook of newspaper clippings. It is slowly disintegrating, so this project will discipline me to digitize all the birth, marriage and anniversary annoucements, as well as death notices and obituaries.

At present, my Canadian genealogy library is quite sparce, consisting of these few titles:

Brides, Philip and Joan (Smith) Brides, The Descendants of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Smith (Halifax, NS, Canada, 2000).

Stories of the Stewiacke Valley  (Nova Scotia : Colchester Historical Society, 1980.

Douglas, Althea, Finding your ancestors in New Brunswick (Toronto, ON, Canada, 2002).

Nathaniel Smith: A Stranger in a Strange Land. A publication of Tantramar Heritage Trust, 2000.

Dallison, Robert L. Hope restored: The American Revolution and the founding of New Brunswick (Frederiction : New Brunswick Military Heritage Project, 2003).

Campey, Lucille H. After the Hector: The Scottish Pioneers of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, 1773-1852.  2nd ed. Toronto: Natural History Books, 2007.

Other online resources I will be utilizing are listed under the tab above entitled, Where I Dig - Research Tools, under the headings Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

And, last but certainly not least, I will be calling upon my wonderful friends who belong to the following Facebook Groups:

Albert County, New Brunswick Genealogy

Atlantic Canadian Genealogy

Genealogy of Colchester County, Nova Scotia

Kings County., New Brunswick Genealogy

NB Obits,Documents & Unknown Photo

New Brunswick Genealogy

Nova Scotia Genealogy

Nova Scotia Roots

Old Photos of New Brunswick Canada

Riverview and Albert County History in Pictures

Saint John, New Brunswick Genealogy

United Empire Loyalists Association (UELAC)

Westmorland County, New Brunswick Genealogy

I am very excited to begin this journey, all the more because it includes my third trip down east. For my 60th birthday in June 2015, I am giving myself the opportunity to visit the land of my Canadian cousins. No definite dates set yet, but I hope to take the ferry out of Portland, Maine, and drive back.

I invite anyone to make suggestions or offer advice along the way! Let's go way down east!