SOME KINGS COUNTY MYSTERY HISTORY (December 5/11)

In 1752, was there a massacre of British soldiers, or possibly a massacre of French soldier and their Mi’kmaq allies in a major battle just inside town limits at the west end of Kentville?

Did Champlain’s discovery of what he called a “Christian cross” on the Bay of Fundy shore in 1604 indicate Europeans must have explored this area before the French arrived?

What explanation is there for the strange “fleet of ships” seen floating in the air over New Minas in the autumn of 1796, a fleet close enough for people to see the sides and ports of the ships?

In 1774, what strange “extinct order of animal” was found in the woods along the border of Kings and Hants County? Was it a fake?

Bloody massacres that made the history books, mystery ships floating in the sky, a Christian cross that shouldn’t be where it was found, bizarre wild beasts that resembled nothing known to man: These are only a few of the little mysteries I’ve come across in various historical records pertaining to this area. Of the four events mentioned, three are referred to in Arthur W. H. Eaton’s Kings County history. Here’s what Eaton reported.

In 1606 the great explorer Samuel de Champlain, following the course he had taken two years earlier with DeMonts, sailed up the Bay of Fundy and explored the area the French named Mines (Minas). In his account of this voyage, Champlain writes that in a harbor three or four leagues north of what we call Cape Split today he “found a very old cross covered with moss and almost rotten.” This, Champlain said, was a “plain indication that before this there had been Christians there.”

Amazing isn’t it. What’s even more amazing is that Champlain’s cross has never been investigated. Shades of Prince Henry Sinclair, you might say.

Much folklore exists on the 1752 massacre (a year Eaton doesn’t confirm, by the way) but most of it is speculation. Eaton writes that at a date not specified, a party of French and Indians ambushed a company of British soldiers going from Halifax to Annapolis. Eaton refers to the conclusion by one “Dr. Brechin” that the year this occurred was 1752.

The site where this took place is said to be in Moccasin Hollow (also called Bloody Run) in Kentville’s west end. The hollow lies along the old, no longer used extension of Main Street. Eaton writes that the trench where slain soldiers were buried was “visible, it is claimed, not more than 20 years ago.”

A couple of local historical writers mention the massacre and the folklore connected with it, taking it as gospel. However, it is likely no great battle, and certainly no great massacre of British troops, took place. No official records of such a clash exist and it appears to have been a minor skirmish. A local historian, the late Ernest Eaton, checked into the folklore and written records, concluded it was a minor affair, and the French and Mi’kmaq got the worst of it.

Bizarre or what? In his history Eaton writes that “we are at a loss to know” what sort of animal they found in the woods in 1774 on the kings-Hants border. “It has wool, and is of the size of a sheep, its head and nose is like a moose, its neck stands awry.”

Eaton gives us a hint as to what this strange beast might be when he refers to Halifax showmen who “had already learned the modern art of the manufacture of ‘freaks’.” Check the zoology texts if you will and you won’t find a reference to this unusual “animal.” It likely was a bit of taxidermy tomfoolery.

The published five volume diary of Simeon Perkins mentions this event, the sighting in the sky above New Minas of 15 ships, close enough that ports could be seen and a “man forwards of them with his hand stretched out.” This occurred on October 12, 1796. Perkins is skeptical – “it was only imagination” – but tells us that several people witnessed the sighting.

“A strange story,” Perkins writes, “is going that a fleet of ships have been seen in the air in some part of the Bay of Fundy …. by a girl about sunrise, and that the girl being frightened called out and that two men that were in the house went out and saw the same sight.”

This unusual sighting is mentioned in the 2009 publication, Wonders In The Sky, by Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck.

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