WHEN KINGS AND HANTS COUNTY WERE ONE (May 13/08)

Kings County was one of the original five counties of the province and as I’ve pointed out before in this column (column 1, column 2), it included most of what is now Hants County, and part of what is now Cumberland County and Colchester County.

If you weren’t aware of this, some of the references to the Kings-Hants area in community history books and documents, covering the period from 1759 to 1781, would be puzzling. The five original counties were established in 1759, several years after the Acadian expulsion and a few years before the Planters arrived. Kings County remained king-sized until 1781 when Hants County was created.

History books and archive documents have numerous references to the confusing 22-year period when Kings and Hants County were one. Even some of the early writers who chronicled this period appeared to confuse the boundaries of Kings and Hants. For example, in 1889, when Henry Youle Hind published a book on an old burial ground in Windsor, he thought it necessary to describe fishing activities on the Canard River, which rises a few miles north of Kentville.

Reading a bibliography of Kings County documents stored in the Public Archives, I found other references to the 22-year period before Hants County was formed. In the Archives is a record of monies collected in the townships of Kings County to repair the jail at Horton, which must have been constructed sometime between 1765 and 1773. Two of the Kings County townships mentioned in this document are Falmouth and Newport which became part of Hants County.

Similar documents fail to distinguish between what is Kings County then and Kings County after 1781. One dated 1763 is a petition from residents to unite one section of Kings County with another by having a road built from Fort Edward to Cornwallis Township. Apparently there was no action on this petition. Four years later, in 1767, the good citizens of Kings County again petitioned the government, asking that Cornwallis and Horton Townships be connected by a road to Pisaquid (Windsor); the petition requested that said road should have at least three bridges.

Any documents of this nature would be mystifying if you had no knowledge of what transpired here in the early decades following arrival of the Planters. Unfortunately, some historical writers assume you know your history and they neglect to tell you Kings County once took in most of the eastern end of the Valley and butted on Halifax County. I hope that now the references to Hants County places being in Kings County will be no longer be puzzling.

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