INTRODUCING MRS BURPEE L. BISHOP, HISTORIAN (April 9/19)

In his history of Kings County, Arthur W. H. Eaton writes that during the expulsion a few Acadians escaped by hiding in the hills above New Minas. Another historian of note writes in the same vein. In a privately published manuscript (The French Period in Nova Scotia) John Erskine writes that Acadians from Grand Pre avoided expulsion by withdrawing to the woods.

In the Greenwich history, Edythe Quinn writes that some Acadians escaped the expulsion by hiding on the ridge above the village. Like Erskine, Quinn also notes that the Acadians built log huts or a stone house. Local folklore also suggests that the Acadians built a small fort above Greenwich or New Minas while waiting for the French to return. Quinn and Erskine both mention this.

Now despite Eaton, Erskine and Quinn, unsubstantiated folklore is likely all this is. Some Acadians did escape – most gave themselves up after a short stay in the wilds – and perhaps shelters of some sort were erected; but the folktales about an Acadian fort in the hills above Greenwich or New Minas seem far-fetched.

Regarding this folklore, let me introduce you to Mrs. Burpee L. Bishop, who penned a truly interesting book on local history. This is how she’s referred to in various local archives and local history books that often quote her work. She actually signed her book, A Story of Greenwich, as Jennie Cobb Bishop; to date the book hasn’t been published and is in Bishop family archives. According to her introduction, Cobb wrote the book for her great grandchildren and dedicated it to them.

In her book, Mrs. Bishop takes her great grandchildren from the early arrival of the Planter Bishops right up to relatively recent times. There’s a smattering of geology, and chapters on the Mi’kmaq and Acadians, but the main thrust of the book is about the Planters and the trials and tribulations they went through after arriving in the Greenwich area.

In another column I’ll write about those trial and tribulations as revealed by Mrs. Cobb-Bishop, but for now I’ll dwell on the folklore on Acadians who avoided the expulsion and temporarily lived in the hills above Greenwich. Regarding the folklore, Bishop gives it credence by writing about a search for an Acadian fort on the ridge to the south of Greenwich by a gentleman she refers to as the late Vernon Schofield.

Schofield had a farm “running along the old ’back road’ to the top of the western edge of the Deep Hollow to White Rock. According to the tales this fort should be in this area, so Schofield determined to make a careful search in order to establish whether it was a myth or a reality.

“After a scrupulous examination through the bush and open spaces, he came across a low dyke-like embankment. Thinking it had probably shrunken from its original… he took a shovel, turned the turf over at its base and uncovered a nine pound cannon ball and a rusty barbed bayonet.”

From this site, Bishop writes, quoting a 1924 investigation, “one sees Minas Basin and its river mouths.” Bishop also refers to what Arthur W. H. Eaton wrote in the history of Kings County about Acadians avoiding deportation by hiding for nearly a year in the hills near Greenwich. This writes Bishop is further corroboration that folklore about an Acadian fort above Greenwich is based on fact.

(Jennie Cobb Bishop (1878-1966) a native of Newark, N.J., graduated from Acadia University in 1897 with a B.A. Bishop wrote for the Family Herald and Weekly Star).

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