THE SEARCH FOR DAVID COLEMAN (November 23/01)

Sometime between 1830 and 1850 my great grandfather David Coleman, along with two or three brothers, emigrated to New Brunswick from the county of Cork, Ireland. From New Brunswick David and at least one brother, James (and possibly a brother John) went to Nova Scotia, settling here in Kings County. David farmed in the Huntington Point and Centreville area all of his life and is buried somewhere in the County. He was of the Catholic faith when he arrived in Kings County, but after a family squabble over religion he left the church.

Most of the Colemans listed in the Kentville directory can trace their ancestry to David and his brother or brothers. Until recently, however, David Coleman has been a sort of mystery man. I began to look for information on him years ago but for the most part it was a fruitless search. It seemed for a long time that while David lived and prospered here, no record of his life existed other than what was passed on by word of mouth.

I’d like to tell readers about my search for David Coleman, if for no other reason than to make similar searches for others easier. When I began my search I learned that the Kings County Historical Society has recorded every gravestone existing in Kings County cemeteries. The readings, which were done in 1980 and again in 1990, may be accessed at the courthouse museum in Kentville. The cemetery records are also available on disk.

I began my search with the tombstone records but it was a dead end. Either my great grandfather had no stone or it had fallen down and deteriorated or had been destroyed. Whatever the reason, there is no record of him in the Society’s tombstone records. My next step was to read the massive collection of obituary notices that are filed at the museum. These are indexed and are an excellent resource for anyone looking for their ancestors.

Unfortunately no record of David Coleman existed in the obituary files either. However, on computer in the family history section of the museum are records from the census of 1871 and 1901. It was here that I found my first reference to David Coleman and a list of the children by his second wife, Frances Goodwin. My grandfather’s marriage record in the computer database confirmed that this David was indeed my great grandfather. The marriage records should be checked when searching for ancestors since they often list the parents of the bride and groom and have other information that may be valuable.

The Ambrose Church map of Kings County was also consulted in my search. This map shows roads and the name and occupation of the people who live along them. I found David Coleman here, living on the road to Hall’s Harbour in 1872 when the Church map of Kings County was completed. I also consulted the various old directories and almanacs that are on file at Acadia University. These books usually list residents of communities and like the Church maps, give their occupation.

Eventually I extended my search to the Internet and I recommend that you do so as well. At Ancestry.com I found a group devoted to the Coleman surname. I posted a message about my great grandfather, and asked for help. I figured this was a longshot and was dumbfounded when a message came from Florida about my great-grandfather, my great-great-grandfather and other 19th-century relatives.

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