The Immigrants at Halifax

This is part of a write-up I did for a family history on my mom's ancestors. My mom is Carolyn Eileen (Zinck) Shaver. The surnames you see mentioned here are her direct ancestors. My major source of information was Bell's Notes, and tidbits from the research of my various distant cousins from the lunen-links discussion list. Be aware that there may be errors present.

Nancy Shaver
E-mail: nancy at flora dot org (insert @ and . in appropriate places)

Our ancestors who arrived in the 1750's spent between 1-3 years at Halifax, depending on which year they arrived in. Since the Indians were actively hostile towards the British, it was not safe to leave the town. It was not known until close to spring of 1753 where in Nova Scotia the immigrants would be settled, as areas with good farmland were scarce, and many areas were too risky in terms of the potential for Indian attack.

In the meantime, each married man was assigned a town lot in Halifax that was 40 feet wide by 60ē deep. Young single men were grouped together for allotment purposes. Many of the immigrants were lacking in the necessary skills to erect houses with the materials provided. Most of the dwellings were small cabins, although a few had the means to erect frame houses. Those who arrived in 1750 settled in the north suburbs of Halifax, from present day Gerrish St. to North St., and from Water St. to Gottengen St.

The Governor wanted to get the Halifax Peninsula cleared and under cultivation, so a patrol road with 3 blockhouses was established across the isthmus. Even with the high prices available for firewood and crops, development of the five-acre lots given to settlers willing to work them was slow. Considering that they would soon be moving to another part of the province and the fact that they were under constant threat of Indian attack when away from the town, it's not too hard to empathize with the lack of motivation. Some shipbuilding and fishing was going on at Halifax at that time, but otherwise there were no industries. When the foreign protestants arrived, they were employed by the government on public works (clearing land, building palisades and public buildings, etc.) in order to pay off their debts for their ocean passages.

An epidemic started among the people from the Ann, the "infectious distemper". Records show 50 burials of Germans (those with german-sounding names) during the fall of 1750 and the early winter of 1751.

The free food rations for each settler for the first year consisted of the following items weekly:

In 1751 a complete palisade was constructed across the isthmus. Many foreign protestants lived out there (a few from the Ann, and most of the arrivals from the Murdoch and the Gale of 1751; several of our ancestors were on these ships) in 2 villages along the palisade. Many of the arrivals from the Pearl and Speedwell in 1751 lived in Dartmouth, to work on public works there. After working off their passages, settlers earned money by clearing otherēs lots, cutting wood, and so on. Some started cultivating land. We have record of one of our ancestors from the Pearl in 1751, Ulrich Hubly, being allotted land in the Dartmouth Suburbs, and also Dartmouth G-4. Presumably other ancestors also had plots here and there, but no record remains of it.

By 1752, the settlers wrote a petition complaining about having been misled in what they were told they would receive in Nova Scotia. They complained of inadequate food for hard labour, high rents for housing, slowness in the allotment of house lots and building materials to them, waiting too long to be paid for their work, paying for a doctor who would not serve them, and also complaining about the best land being allotted to New Englanders who did not improve on it (i.e. clear or cultivate it).

Due to these conditions, some settlers deserted to the French in or by 1752. (Our Kolp (Colp) ancestors were among the deserters.) Some were returned by the French, but others, including our Kolbēs, were sent on to Louisbourg, and others to St. John's Island. (Kolb and his family were returned to Lunenburg in 1758, after the French surrender of Louisbourg).

In 1752 the Speedwell and the Betty landed their passengers on St. George's Island in Halifax harbour, where they worked on public works. It is not known where the arrivals from the Gale and Sally in that year were quartered. It was becoming a headache to the governor to have so many new settlers and still no safe, arable place in Nova Scotia to settle them. Because of this John Dick in Rotterdam was told not to send any more immigrants. Indeed, heēd been told to earlier in 1752, but because the immigrants themselves had already made arrangements to come the 1752 ships sailed, but no further immigration under this project was to happen.

There were many orphans in 1752, because of lots of illness on the ships of that year. Some lived in the orphanage, and some were apprenticed to other settlers. Those taking in orphans were required to feed and clothe them properly, teach a specified trade, and teach them also to read and write.

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