Settling of Lunenburg

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)

Finally, in 1753, the board decided on a place to settle the new immigrants. They chose an area of already-cleared land, at a place called Merlegash that was previously settled by the French. It was located on a peninsula which could be closed off by a palisade for protection, and the cleared area was big enough for the town, a common area for grazing animals and a large plot of gardens for the settlers.

The settlers went to Lunenburg in 2 groups. The first group was delayed for a week by bad weather but sailed in vessels hired from New England on the 7th of June. The second group arrived on the 17th of June, which was a Friday. The building materials went with them, mostly with the first group.

The group encamped at Lunenburg. The settlers were not always cooperative, and the Colonel in charge of them fretted about the fact that they would wander off into the woods (which was very dangerous due to the threat of Indian attack), spend ammunition aimlessly, took supplies and made their own piles of them without waiting for distribution, and so on. Some settlers were put to work on the building of a stockade as a line of defense. (Lunenburg Academy is built on the spot where one of the blockhouses was built along the palisade that closed off the peninsula.) It is noted that the settlers became "turbulent" as they wanted their own lots, so on the 18th of June the stakes were laid out, and on Tuesday the 19th of June, settlers were put in possession of the town lots they'd drawn in church in Halifax 4 weeks earlier.

They had very bad weather the first summer, very wet. There wasnēt enough food- complaints were made about the situation by the settlers. The rations were too scanty considering the hard labour everyone was doing to construct the town and palisade, and there was no way to earn more money to buy supplemental food (as well as no place to buy it if money had been available.) Clothing and shoes were also too scarce. Colonel Lawrence asked the board for more food, saying in his letter "We cannot build houses, make gardens, cut timber and take fish at the same time." Food rations were increased and later shoes were shipped to replace those that were wearing out.

The colonel found that the settlers were not as keen to work on public works and pay off their passage debts as they were to work on their own town lots. He did note that they worked admirably hard when labouring for themselves on building houses and making gardens.

The palisade was not finished until early August. There was a certain lawless spirit among the settlers, and some treated orders with contempt, especially, it is noted, the Germans! The Montbelliard settlers are said to be not as strong as the Germans but performed double the work.

The 30-acre lots were drawn for in 1754. The borders were not always obvious, and in following years some disputes had to be settled as to the borders of the lots. In the first year on these lots (1754) people grew potatoes, flax, oats, turnips, and barley on what cleared land they had. Some built boats and canoes. In 1754 some livestock was distributed, to paired men who shared what they were issued. Most of the settlers were industrious but a few were slackers, and the slackers were given the least livestock.

In this year some businesses started up and with this came some wage-earning opportunities. Timber and firewood were shipped to Halifax, as there was a good market for these there. The settlers with lots that fronted on water or were close to it benefited most from this, since the others had no way to get their wood to Lunenburg to be shipped to Halifax. Lots of wood was just burned were it fell. You'd think there would be a fishery starting up but there would not be one for many years; these immigrants were all from inland areas and fishing was not something they took to quickly. Shipbuilding was another idea for an industry but nothing really came of this either for many years.

1754 was a very dry year, so crops and gardens produced much less than had been anticipated. A large number of livestock died before the spring of 1755, and this was at least partially because there was not enough suitable food for them. Feed for the animals was supposed to have been supplied for the first year but had not been.

In 1755 many men from Lunenburg went to Grand Pre to collect cows and horses left behind by the Acadians who were expelled from Nova Scotia that year. They had a hard time collecting them, as the animals became frightened and ran off into the woods. It is said that around 1000 head of cattle were rounded up, but it is likely that far fewer than that reached Lunenburg. The cattle drive would have been very hard. It is thought most likely that the men used the rough road that ran between Halifax and Grand Pre, and then shipped the livestock to Lunenburg by water. Many of the animals may have been left in Halifax, and many cattle probably did not survive the long trip on the rough road with little fodder. As well, the animals were somewhat wild, and the settlers would have had to gather some sort of fodder for them in Grand Pre and load it onto them somehow before returning with them. Keeping these animals on the trail must have been very difficult.

It was a slow process to ready the lands for crops, especially when the risk of Indian attack was always present. (For a description of the Indian raids, see Giammo's account on this site) Food rations were extended many times, although not to settlers who were already doing well on their own. People on the inland plots did not become self- supporting as quickly as the others. They couldn't get their wood to market to earn money that way, and their lots were the ones most likely to be attacked by Indians so they could not work as much on them.

In 1757 there was another drought and crops did poorly. However, Lunenburg became the main source of firewood for Halifax, and when weather was good they soon produced so many potatoes that they exported those too to Halifax.

In 1758 some German settlers were found at Louisbourg when it was surrendered by the French, and they were sent to Lunenburg. Of these, only some were deemed likely to become good settlers, and the ones who were allowed to stay were treated liberally and given land and town lots. Our Kolb ancestors made the cut, and remained at Lunenburg.

The 300 acre lots started to be distributed in September of 1763. Not everyone wanted one though- there were fees to be paid for the surveying, restrictions on having to develop them, and most were located back in the woods which was not very accessible.

By 1767, there was still no fishery at Lunenburg, although all the other coastal townships had one. There was however some coastal shipping out of Lunenburg, at least between there and Halifax. Lunenburg was still itēs major supplier of firewood, timber and farm products. This was partly because it was much closer to import these things from Lunenburg than from the settlements on the Bay of Fundy, which was much further away by water.

In 1771 some Montbelliard people moved to Tatamagouche, and supposedly the Joudries and Lowes were among them but they went only temporarily. One correspondant has told me that a seperate family of Joudries were the ones who went to Tatamagouche.

Lunenburg prospered during the American Revolution, as prices of supplies went way up. However, a parson of that time laments that because of this the people became quite indifferent to the warēs calamities and became somewhat hard-hearted.

Some schools were started in the early years for religious training and the teaching of basic reading and writing. However, once families moved to their farm lots it was too far for most children, especially the young ones, to walk to school, especially in the winter. In summer (from early May to late October), the children were needed by their parents to work on the land, so winter was the only time schooling was possible. The children were taught in German and in French at different schools.

In 1771 it was felt by one of the ministers (DelaRoche) that an English school was necessary for political reasons, "to unite all it's inhabitants in one language in order that considering themselves no longer as foreigners and as of different nations, they may grow more attached to the British Government, and be brought to look upon each other as countrymen and fellow subjects." This school did not last long, and was gone within 10 years.

The people were probably not very literate, especially those who lived far from town, and overall literacy is thought to have decreased in the early years of the settlement. Some parents were not keen on schooling anyway, because of the time it took up (the kids needed to be working on the farms) and the cost.

DelaRoche commented at that time "It is enough to make the heart bleed, to see how ignorant, how idle and how wicked the young people are in this settlement." Since this is the same complaint made against young people since time immemorial, it is hard to tell if the Lunenburg youth were really all that bad. However, morals in general were thought to be very low by this minister at that time, and presumably he had worked in other places and had a baseline to compare the Lunenburg people to.

The German and French languages continued to be used for some time, but judging by the number of marriages between the two groups English must have been gaining a hold as well. It was said in the later 1700's that most people spoke at least some English and the youth spoke it often, but it is not known if this is accurate or not.

(For the story of the Insurrection of 1753, and description of the Indian raids, see Giammo's history of Lunenburg which is also on this site.)

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