MOCCASIN HOLLOW “MASSACRE” REVISITED (August 2/02)

Moccasin Hollow, Bloody Hollow, Bloody Gully, Bloody Run, Golden Hollow. These are supposed to be names for an area in Kentville’s west end where French soldiers and their Indian allies are said to have ambushed and massacred a company of British soldiers – either in 1747 or 1752, depending on which historian you believe.

But even though Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton treats it as an historical event in his Kings County history, it’s unlikely that any massacre took place. Even if the event occurred, at most it was a minor clash that story tellers have embellished and enlarged upon over the centuries.

There is a Moccasin Hollow in Kentville’s west end. The late Ernest Eaton, who did much research on Kings County history, gave its location as opposite the industrial park. Edmund J. Cogswell, a Kentville Judge of Probate who died in 1900, wrote in an 1895 issue of the Western Chronicle that Moccasin Hollow was located on the old French Road on John Harrington’s land near the railway tracks.

Besides Arthur W. H. Eaton and Edmund J. Cogswell, other writers have mentioned the massacre at Moccasin Hollow. Eaton apparently based his information on a manuscript by Dr. W. P. Brechin, who in turn may have accessed Murdock’s History of Nova Scotia. Mabel G. Nichols Kentville history, The Devil’s Half Acre, mentions the “battle of Moccasin Hollow (Bloody Hollow).” Nichols appears to have used the Cogswell manuscript as her source.

While what really occurred at Moccasin Hollow may never be known, it’s safe to say the event has been great exaggerated. As I said, it’s a massacre that most likely never really happened. There definitely was a conflict of some sort in Moccasin Hollow involving British troops versus the French and their Indian allies, which I assume were the Micmacs. However, the events at Moccasin Hollow may have been confused with a true massacre, the ambush of Colonel Noble and his troops at Grand Pre in 1747 in which many lives were lost.

I mentioned Ernest Eaton above. It was Eaton who put the Moccasin Hollow event in perspective in 1978 when he was asked to look into it. Eaton concluded that the encounter between the British and French a mile or so west of downtown Kentville has been blown out of proportion. Eaton stated that while some sort of military engagement took place in Moccasin Hollow, the death toll was light, and the persistent folk tale that hundreds of British and French troops were slain is nothing more than that, a folk tale.

Eaton said that the skirmish in Moccasin Hollow took place in 1747 and suggested that A. W. H. Eaton’s 1752 date in the Kings County history may be a printer’s error. The error may have been made of Dr. W. P. Brechin whom A. W. H. Eaton quotes. Murdock’s History of Nova Scotia gives the Moccasin Hollow clash as happening in 1747.

Anyway, if you wish to read more about Moccasin Hollow, Ernest Eaton’s paper containing his research is available at the Kings County Museum. Mabel Nichols’ book on Kentville is available at local libraries and her account can be found on page 193. Eaton’s Kings County history is also available at local libraries and the Moccasin Hollow clash is on page 47. In 1990 I wrote an article on Moccasin Hollow entitled “Not A Historical Site.” I hope to have this article posted shortly on my website in the historical columns section.

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