Are there really place names in this area called Russia, Etna and Vesuvius? Was there really a “Battle of Blomidon” in earlier times? Is it true that automobiles were actually manufactured here at one time?
Where did the famous Valley brand name “Scotian Gold” originate and who was the first to use it? And if I have you intrigued by now, here’s one more question: Was a pirate’s chest full of Spanish doubloons really found in this area?
Nearly 12 years ago a local historian, the late Elizabeth Rand, decided that answering questions such as the ones posed above would make interesting reading and would be a neat way of offering local history to the public. Ms. Rand became the driving force behind publication of a neat little paperback booklet of some 50 pages containing 21 short historical essays on Kings County. The booklet, called Kings County Vignettes, was published in June 1989 by the community history committee of the Kings County Historical Society.
Since the first issue of Vignettes was subtitled volume one, the Historical Society must have decided from the first to produce other issues. Volume one of Vignettes was followed 10 months later by volume two with 10 historical articles in more than 50 pages. Like the first Vignettes, the second issue was also compiled and edited by Elizabeth Rand. Other volumes of Kings County Vignettes followed. This past winter the Historical Society published volume 10 which like its predecessors, is a series of short historical essays on the immediate area.
As mentioned, Vignettes was the brainchild of Elizabeth Rand, who was one of the charter members of the Historical Society. Apparently Ms. Rand had collected a number of interesting stories about this area and wanted them saved. In the forward to volume 10 it was noted that it was Ms. Rand’s “desire to have these stories put together so they would not be forgotten.” That in the past decade nine more issues followed the original Vignettes is proof that Ms. Rand had hit on a unique vehicle for presenting local history in a readable, inexpensive format.
Elizabeth Rand compiled and edited five volumes of Kings County Vignettes. Early on she was assisted by Cathy Margeson who with Helen Hansford, took on the task of editing and compiling following editions of Vignettes. Various Historical Society members also volunteered their assistance in producing Vignettes; all 10 issues were typeset, printed and bound by Historical Society members at the Old Courthouse Museum in Kentville.
All the questions I asked above are answered in some detail in the Vignettes. For now, let me say that yes, there is or was a Russia, Etna and Vesuvius in this area; yes there was a Battle of Blomidon and yes, automobiles were manufactured in Kings County. The Vignettes are a fund raising project for the Courthouse Museum, so I hope I’ve intrigued you enough to shell out a few dollars for an issue.
If I haven’t, here a few topics covered in various issues of Vignettes: The story of Klondike Ward, the Kentville native who struck it rich in the goldfields; old Davidson sawmill in Black River; sketch on the Blenkhorn axe factory in Canning; the story of John Orpin, the amazing strongman dubbed the “Sampson of the Annapolis Valley.”
All the topics covered in Vignettes have a Kings County connection but the essays also deal with historical happenings in other areas of the Annapolis Valley. Vignettes are available at the Old Kings Courthouse Museum and in local bookstores.