PIRATES, PASHAS AND PARKERS (March 5/04)

One could say that along with several other families, the Parker name is synonymous with Hall’s Harbour. One of the reasons, of course, is Parker’s popular general store by the wharf which has been catering to people since 1905.

However, the Parker association with Hall’s Harbour goes farther back than 1905. Hutchinson’s Nova Scotia Directory for 1864-65 indicates that four Parkers, of which three were sea captains, sailed out of Hall’s Harbour in the mid 19th century. Even earlier than that, Thomas Parker built one of the first homes in the harbour.

Recently Richard Parker talked about the early days of Hall’s Harbour at the February meeting of the Kings Historical Society. A native of Hall’s Harbour and a descendant of Max who opened the general store, Mr. Parker taught history for 29 years in Queens County. Since retiring, he has been busy working on the history of Hall’s Harbour. He said he hasn’t collected enough material yet to write a comprehensive history, but from what he presented at the Historical Society I’d say he’s well on his way.

During his talk Mr. Parker discussed how Hall’s Harbour got its name. It’s surprising that anyone would name a port after a scoundrel but this is the case. In 1779 Kings County native Samuel Hall led a group of New Englanders bent on terrorising and looting the countryside. After one successful foray the raiders were sent packing by the local militia – but not before they had buried treasure of some sort, which they failed to recover. Apparently, the raiders used what was to become Hall’s Harbour as their base. No one has explained why the people of Kings County perpetuated Hall’s name by naming the harbour after him.

One of Hall’s Harbour’s most famous sons was Ransford Bucknam. Ransford was the grandson of Samuel Bucknam, the first man to settle in Hall’s Harbour. The Bucknam’s were seafaring people and Richard Parker said that Ransford followed the family tradition. Through a lucky set of circumstances Ransford rose to become a pasha and admiral of a small Turkish fleet. While he apparently never saw fit to return to the place of his birth, Hall’s Harbour claims Ransford Bucknam as its own.

The most interesting aspect of Richard Parker’s talk was the revelation that there ‘s some truth to the tale of treasure being buried in Hall’s Harbour. However, if you think it’s still out there waiting to be found, Mr. Parker said that there are clues indicating it’s too late.

One Sylvanus Whitney, who is listed as a Hall’s Harbour merchant in Hutchinson’s directory, may have found the treasure trove of gold. In 1830 Whitney opened the first store in Hall’s Harbour. Whitney left the area in 1880, moving to North Dakota. When Whitney died he left $60,000 in gold coins. This was confirmed by another Kings County native, Mr. Parker said. This was Milledge Roscoe, who had moved to North Dakota with Whitney and had acted as his executor.

Could Whitney have accrued so much gold at his tiny shop in Hall’s Harbour? Probably not. Also, Whitney left Hall’s Harbour a year after the New England raiders had supposedly failed to recover valuables they had hidden. We will never know if this was the gold Whitney left in his estate.

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