REPORTS OF HISTORICAL INTEREST (July 5/02)

When it was published in 1910, Eaton Kings County history was hailed in local newspapers as a great work of “deep interest” to those with Planter and Loyalist ancestors. Eaton’s work was praised in several local newspapers and I reproduce one announcement here for its historical interest and the light it sheds on the author. An appreciation of John Frederick Herbin in an announcement of his demise in 1924 also follows, along with an interesting tidbit from 1850 on the railway.

From the Berwick Register, November 24, 1910 – “The history of Kings County… comprising about 900 pages is just published. Dr. Eaton, the author of the work, an Episcopal clergyman and a literary man of much prominence, has given three years to the writing of it, and in its pages will be found a graphic account of the county’s varied history, from the earliest French settlement to the present time.

“Five years after the expulsion of the Acadians a large number of families of the utmost importance in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, attracted by the offer of the rich lands of the exiled French, removed to Nova Scotia, and from these planters the present population and many notable persons in the United States, and other parts of Canada, are sprung.

“To the story of this migration Dr. Eaton has devoted many pages of his book, and it is not too much to say that in his treatment of it, what to many people will be an entirely new episode of American history, will be brought to light.”

From the Toronto Globe, January 16, 1924 under the heading Apostle for Acadia – “One of Acadia’s most acceptable and persistent spokesmen has passed with the sudden death of John Frederick Herbin of Wolfville, N.S. Mr. Herbin was known as a collector of Acadian relics, and as a poet and novelist with subjects which breathed something of the sadness of the exiled race. He was said to be the only direct descendant of the French Acadians of Grand Pre remaining in the land of Evangeline.

“His history of Grand Pre is an exhaustive treatment of the small community which has been made known to millions through Longfellow’s poem. He also wrote several novels, including ‘The Marshlands’, ‘Heir to Grand Pre’ and ‘Jen of the Marshlands.’ These carried the subtle spirit of the beautiful and romantic Minas Basin region, but did not attain notable heights from a literary point of view.

“Mr. Herbin conducted a jewelry and optical business in Wolfville, of which he had been Mayor, and to visitors he extended a kindly welcome. Those in search of knowledge of local happenings would quickly unloose his enthusiasm and find in him a fount of knowledge which they would remember long years after.”

The Globe concluded the announcement of Mr. Herbin’s passing with one of his poems, Across the Dykes, calling it one of his “best contributions to Canadian verse.”

From a report delivered at a railroad convention in Portland, Maine, on July 31, 1850. – “Kings County Wants a Railway: A meeting of the inhabitants of Kings County was held in the Court House at Kentville… for the purpose of ascertaining the views of the inhabitants of said County in reference to a railroad from Halifax to Digby.

“It is the opinion of this meeting that the inhabitants of this County will cheerfully furnish the land that is necessary for a Railroad passing through it; also aid with their money, labour and materials to the utmost of their ability, in shares amount to 25,000 (Pounds).”

Kings County was represented at the Portland convention by John Hall, MPP, and Samuel Chipman.

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