LITTLE KNOWN SOURCES OF COUNTY HISTORY (April 17/07)

Let’s say you’ve decided to study the history of Kings County and wanted to be thorough about it. Where would you start?

Obviously there’s no better place than the bible of local historians, Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton’s 898-page history of Kings County. Other than what is in my view a flaw, that the Acadians are allotted only two chapters and the Mi’kmaq one, this is a scholarly review of Kings County through several centuries. It literally is “the bible” when it comes to county history.

After a thorough study of Eaton, what then? Well, logically, one should then read the various histories of Kings County communities. We have a plethora (I’ve been wanting to use this word for quite a while) of community histories, all well researched and well written. Histories have been written on most of the towns, villages and smaller communities of the county, and in some cases, they carry on past the point where Eaton stopped. There are more to come, by the way; a couple of community histories currently are being written.

If you want to be thoroughly versed in Kings County history, however, you should be aware of a curious fact: There are at least three books that from their titles appear to contain nothing about Kings County history; yet surprisingly, they do, and it’s interesting history, the sort of stuff you won’t find in stuffy, pedantic works.

What would you expect to learn about Kings County in Henry Youle Hind’s An Early History of Windsor, for example? Especially when its subtitle is Sketch of the Old Parish Burying Ground of Windsor.

Surprisingly, this book, which was first published in 1889, has details you won’t find in other history books about Kings County and the Acadians during and immediately after the expulsion. Hind’s book has been reprinted and is available from the West Hants Historical Society for $10.

L. S. Loomer’s history of Windsor, published 1996, provides an excellent overview of the Acadians in Kings County around the expulsion period. If you’re a Kings County history buff, this book is a must. This is primarily a book about Windsor but there are numerous references to the Acadian situation in Kings County. Loomer’s well-researched book is also available from the West Hants Historical Society.

Finally, for a book about the apple industry in Kings County and the pioneering efforts to generate electricity from Kings County waters, I recommend Harry Bruce’s superb work, The Story of R. A. Jodrey. While this is a biography, Bruce was unable to write it without including a detailed account of apple exporting, early farming and the establishment of various longstanding Valley and Kings County business firms and industries, Minas Basin Pulp and Power among them. We get tantalizing glimpses as well of men who are legendary in Kings County, such as W.H. Chase and George Chase.

You may have to search to finds this book, which was published in 1979, but it will be worth the effort. This is a book anyone interested in Kings County history should read.

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