MARKLAND SAGAS AND OTHER HISTORY TRIVIA (March 11/08)

The little rail line that operated between Kingsport and Kentville beginning in 1890 was incorporated as the Cornwallis Valley Railway. Marguerite Woodworth, in her Dominion Atlantic Railway history, refers to the line as the Cornwallis Valley Railway. Internet historian Ivan Smith, Canning, also calls it the Cornwallis Valley Railway, as do numerous historical sources, so it appears that this is the correct name for the line.

However, the dean of Kings County historical writers, Arthur W. H. Eaton in his county history, calls the little railroad the Central Valley Railway, inferring that it was incorporated as such.

Possibly this was an error by Eaton and I mention it because it’s interesting historical trivia. I often find odd things like this in historical books and documents and I collect them. I call this stuff historical trivia, or things I found while looking up something else. Here are a few from my file.

In a journal entry dated February 28, 1871, Henry Alline rails against horse racing in Horton. “This day I went from Cornwallis to Horton, and O how I was grieved to see a vast crowd of people at horse-racing.” (From The Journal of Henry Alline, 1982 Lancelot Press edition edited by James Beverley and Barry Moody). Alline doesn’t indicate where in Horton Township the racing took place, but possibly it was in or near present day Wolfville.

The Markland Sagas, a book examining the Viking presence in Nova Scotia, and the possibility they may have landed in several parts of the province, was written by C. H. L. Jones and Thomas H. Raddall, and privately published in the early 1930s. (Mentioned in the book To Nova Scotia written in 1934 by T. Morris Longstreth.) In this connection, Longstreth mentions the so-called Runic Stone with its mysterious inscriptions that was found in Yarmouth.

Now here’s an aside our folks with Scottish ancestors will appreciate. Quoting from Norse documents, the authors of The Markland Sagas write that when Vikings explored what may have been Nova Scotia, they sent “Scottish slaves” ashore to check out the land. Does this raise the possibility that the Scots were the first people to set foot in North America?

On the early name for Kingsport, folklore has it that it was Indian Point. For anyone wondering if this is fact or fiction, here’s a quote from an unpublished paper on the Planters written in 1961 by Ernest Eaton: “Indian Point, an old name for Kingsport, is mentioned as the location of Lot 16, granted to Benjamin Newcomb.”

Many towns, villages and county communities were known by different names in earlier times. In his papers, for example, Ernest Eaton writes that the community adjacent to Kentville, South Alton, was once known as Moores Mills.

From Ernest Eaton as well, I found that Saxon Street, near Canning, was once called Washington Street. I’ve found Saxon Street designated as Washington Street on older maps. I’ve never found Bently Path on old maps, but Ernest Eaton says this was an even earlier name for Saxon Street/Washington Street.

Anyone interested in knowing where the first court house was built in Kings County? “I preached this day at the court-house in Horton,” Henry Alline wrote in his Journal on May 5, 1781. In a footnote, the editors say Alline preached at the “Meeting house in Horton, built in 1763, (which) was also the court house.” This was located at “what is now the Old Baptist Burying Ground, Wolfville.”

Later, in 1767, a meeting house or church was built at Chipman’s Corner (Arthur W. H. Eaton) and Alline would have preached there as well. Eaton says that nearby, close to where Middle Dyke road meets Church Street, an Acadian church once stood. I find it odd that the Acadians and Planters selected Chipman Corner as the site for a church.

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