CHURCH MAP “BOOK” BOON FOR RESEARCHERS (June 21/02)

In 1864 Ambrose F. Church embarked on a project that would earn him the undying graditude of a multitude of genealogists.

Community by community, road by road, Church mapped out the entire 18 counties of Nova Scotia. The work took Church nearly a quarter century and when it was completed, we were left with a unique series of maps; unique in that the location of residences on county roads were pinpointed, along with the names of the principal householders. Each map also contained a business directory and a list of businessmen, professional people and farmers, another feature genealogical researchers and historians would find invaluable.

About seven years ago I did some research on Ambrose F. Church and wrote two columns on my findings for this paper. Except to rehash my findings – which I’ll do farther along – I have nothing new to add to those columns. However, there’s a new publication available at the Kings County Museum that makes it simple for anyone to search for ancestors on the Church map of Kings County.

Some background first. Ambrose F. Church produced his maps for the provincial government. His contract called for supplying the government with 25 copies of each county map but in the case of Kings County, between 200 and 300 copies may have been made. Church sold subscriptions to his maps, which apparently was part of his deal with the government, and subscribers were listed in his directory. Count the merchants, tradesmen, professional people and farmers listed in the Kings County map’s directory and this should give you a clue as to the minimum number of copies that were made.

It’s likely that only a few hundred copies of the Kings County maps were produced; and it’s also likely that few of these maps exist today. Church’s Kings County map can be found at the Kings County Museum in Kentville, in the municipal office, and the Randall House Museum, Wolfville; I know of only three copies privately owned but there must be more.

This dearth of Kings County maps is what makes the new “book” I mentioned such a great tool for researchers. Recently the community history committee of the Kings Historical Society published the Church map for Kings in letterhead size by dividing it into 14 sections, reproducing it in the same scale (one inch equals one mile) as the original. The result was a bound volume of some 50 pages that is much easier to access than the original map.

The community history committee didn’t stop there, however. As well as reproducing the map in 14 sections, the committee also listed the heads of households that Church printed on his original. Thanks to this feature, one can easily find an ancestor that lived here in the 19th century. After determining that my great grandfather’s residence was in section three, for example, it only took me a minute to find him in the listings

Another feature that will make things easy for researchers is the inclusion of Church’s original business directory listings. On his original, Church also included a number of smaller maps of areas such as Wolfville, Kentville, Sheffield Mills, etc. These are also reproduced in this volume.

I’ve used the word “invaluable” a couple of times in reference to this easy-to-use reproduction of the Church map of Kings County and I’ll say it again: An invaluable addition to the historical publications on Kings County.

The publication is now on sale at the Kings County Museum in Kentville.

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