“They’re a vital part of Kings County history,” Linda Hart says, “and we’re trying to acquire as many of them as possible.”

Hart is referring to Kings County school registers, and there are literally hundreds of them out there the Kings Historical Society has yet to collect. The genealogy department of the Society is attempting to create a database of all existing school registers and so far has collected and recorded some 126,000 entries.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Hart says that out of 106 school district in the county, only 67 have been collected and recorded as of June this year. Some of the registers date back to the 1880s and are obviously invaluable for genealogical study.

Unfortunately, some registers have disappeared and may never be found. While most counties in Nova Scotia sent their school registers to the Public Archives and were later returned, Hart says, this wasn’t the case with Kings County. “The Kings County school registers were never sent to the Archives. They were left in the hands of the school board. Many registers stayed with school trustees, teachers or other private individuals.”

As a result, there are a lot of school registers sitting in attics and basements, and many that were thrown out. Some have been lost forever, Hart Says, noting that there are five school districts for which no records have been found. “What a loss,” she says.

However, there are still school registers out there somewhere and the genealogy department is appealing for anyone who knows of their whereabouts to contact them. Hart says the department only wants to borrow the registers long enough to copy them. “We do not want to keep them. The originals will be returned, with a photocopy.”

If you have registers you’d like to add to the Society’s database, you can reach Linda Hart at the Kings County Museum, 902-678-6237.

More On Gallows Hill (other articles)

Some e-mail correspondence from former Kentville resident and author Don Ripley sheds further light on Gallows Hill. Ripley writes that Bell wasn’t the name of the man who was hanged on the hill for murder. “The name Bell is more likely after the blacksmith shop of Joe Bell, which was located at the corner of Cornwallis (Street) and meadow road (Brooklyn Street) for years. I don’t believe the hanged man was Bell. We called Gallows Hill the Joe Bell Hill after the blacksmith shop. It later became a commercial building of sorts.

Ripley adds that the lot across the street from the blacksmith shop – “where the ambulance stand is now” – was a provincial property and may have been the site of the old jail. “The hanging almost certainly took place there.”

Apartments and Reids Grocery were located in this building, which was later demolished and replaced by the Goodyear Tire store.

Folklore has it that at one time a communal watering trough for horses was located on this site, fed apparently by a brook that once ran out of the hollow (Mosquito Hollow) to the right of Cornwallis Street and into the Cornwallis River. A long-time Kentville resident was told about the watering trough by his grandmother, whose memory of it would place the trough as existing close to 100 years ago.

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