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EARLY SETTLERS

Location and Origin of Village's Name Micmac Indians
Old Stage Coach Road Residents of 1850

LOCATION AND NAME

Lawrencetown is situated in the Annapolis Valley on the Annapolis River half way between Halifax and Yarmouth {105 miles on either side}. Its main distinction is its beautiful elms which, in the summer, form a natural shelter over the main road, Highway One. The oldest part of the village is the center of town. The people are mainly descendents of New England planter families {Whitman, Daniels, Bishop, Longley, and Bent} who came to Nova Scotia in 1760 from the New England States.

Among the original white settlers was Colonel Christopher Prince who was granted land along the north side of the river from the Lawrencetown Lane to Oakes Brook and extending to the Bay of Fundy, 10,000 acres in all. Colonel Prince came from New York. His family were merchants and traded with the French at Annapolis and Grand Pre before 1710. On the opposite side of the river, from the Lane to east of Whitman Brook and extending southward to within one mile of Trout Lake was Edward Whitman s grant . The Daniels grant ran from the Lane westward to the Lindsay Barteaux place extending to the BaseLine (approximately three miles from the river). These were " wood lots" granted in connection with "marsh lots" located below Granville, which were used for farming. There are three Daniels families living on their original grant today, three Whitman families are on their grant, while only one descendent of Colonel Prince (Doctor Frank Morse) resides on the Prince grant. Edward Whitman's marsh grant was adjacent to Saw Mill Creek at Moschelle. He offered to trade his woodlot at Lawrencetown for 10,000 feet of pine and a beaver hat. However, he found no takers and so settled it himself, coming up river on a raft with his family, furniture and a goat.

The village was first named Lunn's Mill after John Lunn who purchased the "mill lot" from Phillip Marchington in the 1760s. The lot was triangular in shape with the base on the bank of the Annapolis River. Beginning at the Island the base ran west along the river crossing the Lane and going as far as Eelweir Brook, later called Morse or Phinney's Brook. It then extended south as far as the old Fred Bishop house, now owned by Wendell MacGregor, then north to the Annapolis River. Many important events took place on this mill lot. John Lunn operated a mill just west of the south end of the bridge over the Annapolis River near Raeburn Leonard's house which was probably a grist as well as a lumber mill. Water for the mill was conveyed from Phinney Brook by a mill race which began at a dam just southwest of John Stultz's residence. The mill race was six feet wide and six feet deep and may still be seen along the foot of the hill just west of the Lane, between Stultz's and the house at the top of the river hill, which was owned by Clyde C. Morse and is now owned by Phillip Milo. Its course is marked by a row of bushes. The mill discharged its water into the Phinney Brook where a depression can be seen at the point where the brook bends to the northwest, downhill from the Avard Leonard place.

The village was named Lawrencetown in 1822 in honour of Lieutenant Governor Charles Lawrence who expelled the Acadians. Thomas Haliburton, in his History of Nova Scotia, printed in 1842, refers to Lawrencetown by this name. An attempt was made in 1958 to change the name to Lawrence, but the residents did not favor this so the name Lawrencetown remains.

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MICMAC INDIANS

The Mic Mac Indians called the Annapolis River "Taywopsik". In the early spring the river swarmed with salmon, which was one of the earliest runs in the Maritime Provinces. Navigation of the Annapolis River was easy except in the height of summer when the water was at its lowest point. Due to the lack of falls and rapids, canoeing was good. In the early spring the Mic Macs came to the river and lived in wigwams set up near salmon pools. They caught fish mainly by spearing and netting although they sometimes used bone hooks. They dried and smoked the salmon, which was called "nplamoo" (pronouced "blamoo") by the Indians. In the summer the Mic Macs went to the Bay of Fundy where they harpooned and later shot, porpoises. Large canoes, 42 feet long and 6 feet wide, were used. These canoes floated high over the waves instead of plunging through them and, being made out of birch bark, could withstand as rough a sea as modern rowboats. These large canoes were left on the beach all winter. In the fall the Indians went to the deep woods (the Albany area) for moose hunting and stayed there during the winter.

At the west end of Lawrencetown there was once an Indian Settlement. The white settlers and the Indians got along well together and the latter often made baskets and clay dishes for the early settlers. Today all that remains is an Indian burial ground about 2 acres in size with a fence around it. In one corner of this burial ground is a small hill with a few trees on it. This land is now owned by Mr. Longley. The occasional arrow head is dug up by the local farmers as they plough their land. A Mic Mac family by the name of Jeremy once lived on the bank of the Annapolis River behind Mrs. Velma Banks' house on the property formerly owned by Mr. Jack Whitman's father. The family consisted of Mr. Abe Jeremy, an Indian, his white wife, two daughters and a son named Charlie. They lived in a small tarpaper house with a trail leading from it to Middleton. They made a living by making and selling baskets, axe handles and birch bark canoes. Charlie Jeremy became a shoemaker working in Middleton for awhile and then he moved to Ontario.

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OLD STAGE COACH ROAD

When Doctor John Primrose, Lawrencetown's first doctor, came from his old practice at South Brookfield, Queen's County, he did so by stage coach which traveled from Liverpool to Lawrencetown following the present Liverpool-South Brookfield highway. At South Brookfield it turned east through North Brookfield and then north to the Halfway Place, then called Wildcat brook. From there the stage coach went through the woods to Big River and joined the present road from Middleton to Bridgewater, at Albany Cross. The old road followed the present road from Albany Cross to Trout Lake where it went directly through the woods to East Inglisville. Here it joined the present Trout Lake road five hundred feet east of Mrs. Celeste Rafuse's house. It followed this present road down the mountain side across the Lane and the Annapolis River to Lawrencetown.

The distance from Lawrencetown to Liverpool by this stage coach road was fifty-three miles, the same distance Lawrencetown is from Bridgewater on the present day highway. It is about twenty-five miles from Bridgewater to Liverpool. Thus, the old stage coach road cut off twenty-five miles from today's drive. This old road was very important in 1890, with a coach making the trip twice a week. There was an inn at the Halfway place which was subsidized by the government or travellers could stay over night at Durling's Hotel in Albany Cross. In the late 1880s the Nova Scotia Central Railway Company built a railway from Middleton to Bridgewater and after this time much of the traffic travelled by the railroad.

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RESIDENTS OF 1850

At the east end of the village, on the north side of Highway One and just east of the Fitch road, is the residence of Mr. Ted Emmett. This house was originally owned by James Dobson, a retired English Army tailor who practiced his trade in Lawrencetown. The property was eventually sold to Major J.A.H. Church who in turn deeded it to Mr.Emmett. On the south side of the highway just east of Oakes Brook stands the old Oakes homestead which eighty years ago, was occupied by George Bruce, father of Doctor Dorval Bruce. In 1967 Mrs.Gordon Bezanson resided here. Returning to the north side of Highway One, west of Dobson's, is the house now occupied by Mrs. Robert Doherty. This place was the home of James Hardy, whose wife was a sister of Doctor John Primrose. Here, in one room of the house, Mr Hardy taught school. Further west, but just east of Stanley Hall residence, stood the Dorsey (or DeArcey) place, today owned by Roy Rodgers. Continuing towards the center of the village on the north side of the road there were no buildings until you reached Zebulon Durling's. This place was owned by Mr. Harry Ray and is now the property of Clarke Lewis. Next was the old Methodist Church. The lot for the church was given by Mr. Durling and William C. Whitman who lived next door. The W.C. Whitman place is now owned by Mr. Ronald Shaffner.

Across the street on the south side of Highway One was the house and store of Mr. John Ross which also served as an inn and stage coach stop. Later John Hall resided here and today the Reverend and Mrs.Gideon Corey live in this house. The next property was that of Seth Bent, father of W.W. Bent who ran a small hotel and owned a boot and shoe-making shop situated close to his west line. Fred Duncan lives here today. West of the Seth Bent property was the house of the late Shaffner Armstrong, now owned by Doctor Frank Morse. Mr.Armstrong and William C. Whitman were for some time partners in business. About 1860 this property was bought by the late John Emslic who carried on a furniture and cabinet making business in a shop, now Doctor Morse's garage. The next building west of Emslic's was the Elm House, a large hotel. Then came the old "red house" which was on the site of the Legion Hall. This was Colonel Christopher Prince's original house and he died here in 1793. West of this was a store and dwelling owned by Mr. Major Whitman and since acquired by Mr. Carl Beals.

Moving back to the north side of the street, the west line of W.C. Whitman's property joined that of his cousin, John Prince, son of Christopher Kimball Prince and grandson of Colonel Christopher Prince. Mr. Prince's house stands between the Royal Bank and the Fireman's Restaurant and was owned by Doctor L. R. Morse. John Prince kept a store on the site of the bank. Next, opposite Carl Beal's store, came Christopher Kimball Prince's home, which one hundred year ago was owned by Mrs.Mary Wheelock, great grand daughter of Colonel Prince. This is the oldest standing structure in the village, and in 1971 was occupied by Mrs. Mable Durling. Then came the Morgan property which is now owned by Alan Longley. Mr. Morgan was a millwright and operated a mill on his own property, the pond being behind the shop and railway.

Moving westward the next building was that of John Smith, merchant (now owned by Leon Fiske). His store was the showroom of the N. H. Phinney Music Company. Beside Smith's was the property of Major S.R. Chipman who was chief magistrate for Annapolis County. This house is now owned by Mrs. Evelyn Beals. To the west lived John Primose. This house is currently owned by Herb Anderson and occupied by the Gesner Family. In earlier days it was owned by the father of Newton Brown who operated a furniture factory a short distance from the road near where Jefferson's store, now a fabric shop, was situated. This building is now owned by Raleigh Eisner. Later the factory removed its operations to the Leonard Brook, Paradise. The father of Doctor J.B. Hall took over the Brown property and opened a blacksmith shop on the premises.

After crossing the railway tracks the next structures which existed over a century ago were the Anglican Church and the residence of John W. James, the latter now owned by Byron Morse. Then came the Robert Warwick property, now owned by Martha Johnson. Farther west was situated the residence of W.M. Phinney which is now owned by Mr. Frank Whitman. Finally, at the west boundary of the village at the top of Phinney Hill lived William Phinney. This house is now owned by Mr.Kenneth Smy.

Across the street on the south side of Highway One lived Judson Balcom in the house now occupied by Bruce Foster. From here eastward to the railway tracks was pasture land. Moving further towards the center of the village, about opposite Dr. Primrose's was the home of one Mr. Turner set back from the road. Another old one story house on the Turner property was used as a school for some years. Nearby was the post office and Western Union Telegraph Office run by John James, who also sold candy, tobacco, stationary and small groceries. East of this was a general store once operated by Samuel B. Chipman who in addition to being a magistrate, represented the country in the Legislative Assembly from 1840 to 1843.