“There must be some element, social or otherwise, that lends itself to history writing in Kings County. There’s a lot of them,” James Doyle Davison said when he spoke at the Kings County Historical Society a few years ago.
Mr. Davison was referring to the history books that have been published on Kings County families and communities. Most of the towns and villages in Kings County have published histories (Canning and New Minas are exceptions) and numerous books have been written on long established families such as Bishops and Eatons.
Many of these town and village histories are long out of print; the histories of Port Williams, Sheffield Mills and Greenwich come to mind immediately, to give a few examples. The latter two are almost impossible to find today. It was only recently, after years of Internet and yard sale searching for example, that I found the Greenwich history by Edythe Quinn.
At times difficult to find as well are three excellent little books that should be in every history buff’s library. These were written or co-authored by Dr. Watson Kirkconnell, who was president of Acadia University from 1948 to 1964. Dr. Kirkconnell published Place-Names in Kings County in 1971 and it’s an excellent supplement to Fergusson’s Place-Names and Places of Nova Scotia. In this book (or booklet, to be exact) Kirkconnell delves deeper into the origin of Kings County place names than Fergusson does in his work.
Two other little known books by Kirkconnell are Wolfville’s Historic Homes, published in 1967, co-authored with B. C. Silver and The Streets of Wolfville, published in 1970.
The latter is one of my favorite history books since it delves into the Mi’kmaq/Acadian origin of some of our roads, a topic I’ve written about in several columns. If you’ve ever wondered how towns such as Wolfville and Kentville originated and eventually became prominent, you’ll find an explanation in this book. Most interesting as well is Kirkconnell’s main theme, the origin of street names in Wolfville.
The Streets of Wolfville, and Wolfville’s Historic Homes, both in paperback, are available at Randall House Museum in Wolfville. Kirkconnell’s paperback on county place names is much more difficult to find.