Sept 2015 Newsletter
by John D. Wilson
Summer has all too quickly passed. Here at the Museum we mark this passing with the return of our summer guides to their studies. We were pleased again this year to provide summer employment for young people from the community. Again this year we were blessed with intelligent, enthusiastic and courteous guides. Several visitors commented favourably on their experience in working with these young ambassadors. We wish Fadila, Kelsey, Logan and Chad the best in their studies.
Many visitors from near and abroad have come to the Museum this summer, most searching for their ancestral roots in this community. We were pleased to welcome back several old friends, including, Marilyn of Connecticut who has set a record of 16 consecutive years with us, our biker friends Ed and Kathy from Massachusetts, on another tour of the Maritimes and Karen, an old friend from Alaska.
We welcome Owen, Paul, Eric and Richard to the Board, where they join Garnet, John, Isabel, David, Elliot, Dean, Bill, Carolyn and Keith. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated group to serve the needs of the Society.
Planning is underway for a General meeting together with a public meeting during Fire Prevention week (Oct 4-10). A speaker has been arranged for the annual Heritage Banquet in February. Planning is underway for our participation in a symposium to be held in the spring of 2016 on Hants County’s involvement in World War One.
Beginning in September, the Museum will be on reduced hours – Wednesdays, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Please feel free to join us and meet our volunteer staff. Also, please monitor our Facebook page (West Hants Historical Society) for regular updates of activities. Looking forward to October, there will be a general and public meeting, and also guest speaker Richard Smith, who will be talking about the history of the Windsor Fire Department.
Fun at the Museum
by Fadila Chater
This summer we had several exciting events; guest speakers, yard sales and even Ghost Hunts. There was something for everybody. One such event was our Mock Archaeological Dig that we held at Fort Edward, with a turnout of 80 participants. The kids had a great time digging through the sand for buried artifacts and cooling down with the freezies that we had available. Windsor has an interesting and diverse history, we wanted to make that history accessible and fun for the younger generations. There was no greater feeling than having a 7-year-old exclaim “I never knew the Fort was up here,” or being able to tell parents the purpose of the trade dollar and history of the Hants County Exhibition.
We also participated in the Avon River Days Street Fair, we had a number of people come to our booth to buy sweets and books, and to learn more about us. Some people had never heard of the West Hants Historical Society and what we do. It was great to see the smiles on their faces as they found their families in Loomer’s “Windsor Area Families” that we had brought from our library.
On August 22nd, we had our first Ghost Hunt. With the help of Margo Griffith and friends, attendees met at our museum location and using special ghost-tracking devices, were able to contact the spirits of the town. We had a visit from George Stanley, the famed murderer, who killed a man in Ellershouse by decapitation. We also met another ghost in the basement of our museum who had died of a heart attack. Who knew our building was so haunted!
Adopt a Soldier: Remembering Hants County’s Soldiers
By Chad Morash, Student Archivist/Curator
Summer students at the West Hants Historical Society along with the interpreter at the fort and our very own office manager Sherri Allen have been busily working on the World War I project.
Hours have been spent pouring over newspaper articles, scrapbooks, legion records and online databases searching for the names of the brave men and women who served in the First World War. The culmination of this project has been the construction of a “master list” of Hants County citizens who participated in the war. The total number of names compiled in the list reaches the 297 mark. This project is ongoing, having been started last year by Ian Bauer, a former student employed at the Society. Looking forward, the aims of the project include finding more detailed information on each of the individuals involved and to create a lasting memorial of all those who fought in the Great War.
The Connecticut Connection: The Story of Ezra Churchill Smith and his Descendants
By John D. Wilson, President
It was 16 years ago when Marilyn DeJoseph of Newton, Connecticut learned that her great-grandfather, Ezra Churchill Smith, was born in Cogmagun, Nova Scotia. Intrigued, but having no knowledge of the area or of possible family connections, Marilyn made her first tentative visit to the West Hants Historical Society. Buoyed by some research success and having made a few local family contacts, she decided to return the next year. And so it has been for the past 15 years that Marilyn has returned, to her ancestral homeland, often accompanied by her mother and recently by her granddaughter, Elyse Knapp.
Over the years, Marilyn has made contact, and friends, with many of her extended family in Nova Scotia. She has also traced her ancestry from Ezra to Benjamin to John Smith. She has found that John Smith was born in Nova Scotia of English ancestors, was a blacksmith and married Francis; otherwise he remains elusive. Marilyn and Elyse have now returned to Connecticut, but intend to return next year.
We at the West Hants Historical Society wish to acknowledge and congratulate Marilyn for her determined pursuit of her ancestral history. We look forward to her return in 2016.