Drive along Brooklyn Street from Kentville and a couple of kilometres out you’ll pass through what today could be considered a forgotten community.
Known at one time as Brooklyn Corner – there are people who still call it by that name – the community exists but is difficult to find on current maps, county directories and county tax rolls. In his book on Nova Scotia place names, Charles Bruce Fergusson mentions Brooklyn Corner, but along with West Brooklyn and Brooklyn Street, he lumps it under the write-up for Brooklyn.
However, the community hasn’t been completely forgotten and a historical researcher has made sure of that. Digging into files at the Kings Courthouse Museum and conducting extensive interviews, Linda Hart compiled material enough to write a book about Brooklyn Corner. The book, A Place to Belong, was recently published and is available at the Kings County Museum.
Basically, Hart’s book is more of a genealogy than a historical treatise. Hart gives genealogical accounts of more than 50 families who once lived in or still have descendants in Brooklyn Corner. This was quite an undertaking since, based on the genealogies in the book, Brooklyn Corner appears to encompass parts of Coldbrook, Lakeville and Billtown. This must have made it difficult for Hart to determine where these communities ended and where Brooklyn Corner starts. Even Fergusson, in his account of place names, was vague about Brooklyn’s location, noting only that it was four miles west of Kentville.
Genealogy basically is the tracing of descendants from your ancestors down to you, but in another sense, it’s also a linear history of your family. Looked at it this way, Linda Hart has done some excellent work in recording family histories starting in some cases with Planter grantees in the 1760s. The oldest family line in the book is the Rands. Thomas Rand received a grant in 1764 and his descendants settled in Brooklyn Corner. Other Planter descendants, such as the Eatons, Newcombs and Bishops settled in the community as well.
In addition to the genealogies, Hart also includes some history of the houses along Brooklyn Street. Hart says she started at least 20 years ago collecting facts and the lore floating around the community about the houses and it makes interesting reading. There are other nuggets as well; the story behind the famous Antoft Gardens, for example, which at one time was the best-known nursery in the Annapolis Valley.
Shedding light on one of our lesser known communities makes Hart’s book a valuable addition to the history of Kings County. I recommend it to readers who enjoy a mixture of genealogy, family lore and local history in their books.