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A History of Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia
Chapter V  From the Arrival of the First Scotch Settlers until the end of the Eighteenth Century

WE now come to one of the most interesting, events m the history of Tatamagouche—the arrival, in or about the year 1777, of the first Scotch settler, Wellwood Waugh.

Waugh was a native of Lockerby, Parish of Lockerton, in the County of Dumfries, which is situated in the south of Scotland, bordering on England and the Solway Firth. Lockerby was about fifteen miles inland; nearer the Firth by some ten or twelve miles was Annan. It was about this time that there commenced an emigration of many of the inhabitants of these places to the New World, some of whom, as we shall presently see, followed Waugh’s lead, and came to Tatamagouche and its vicinity.

Waugh has left several invaluable writings from which we have been able to obtain information concerning the Waugh family. This is what he says in one:

“This narrative, relative to the name of Waugh, is traditionary. They were originally from the Highlands of Scotland. When they left that place, the chieftan of their clan, enquiring for a certain person, was answered according to the native idiom of speech, ‘He’s awa,’ from which the name Waugh has been considered to have originated. James Waugh, of the Brown Rill of Dunscore, being one of the lineage of the Waughs of the Kere, and his wife, Mary McKeg, lived both to a very great old age, died at the same time, and were interred in the same grave, leaving four sons and two daughters. The youngest son, Alexander, was married to Catherine Calvin in the Parish of Lockerton in the year 1711; their eldest son, Wellwood, was born there on the 10th day of February, 1741, married Nellie Henderson in the year 1760.”

Again he writes:

“In the year 1772 he, Wellwood Waugh with his family left Lockerby the place of their nativity, and embarked on board a vessel bound for Nova Scotia, where they arrived and began to settle in Prince Edward Island, but, various emergencies arising, they were able to remove to Pictou, where they continued for a short space of time, and then proceeded to Tatamagouche.”

In the “History of Pictou County”, there is given a description of Waugh’s difficulties while at Georgetown, for it was there that he and his countrymen settled when in Prince Edward Island. In addition to suffering: all the hardships experienced by the early settlers, they were visited by a plague of field mice. What crops they expected were devoured, and they found themselves on the verge of starvation. For three years they struggled on, practically their only food being lobsters and shell fish. To add further to their already almost insurmountable difficulties, they lost what little merchandise they possessed. Waugh had handed over his goods to a man by the name of Brine, who was running a small store, trading with fishermen from the United States. These fishermen, in anticipation of the American Revolution, seized and either carried away or destroyed Brine’s property, leaving the little colony in the most wretched state imaginable. The following winter was the worst in their experience; strong men though they were, they found themselves so weak that they could scarcely carry food to their children. For three months they lived on shell fish and boiled beech leaves. Some iron pots which they had brought out from Scotland they allowed to stand full of water through a cold winter night. The next morning, owing to the heavy frost, they were all broken. In 1776, discouraged with their outlook in Georgetown, they removed to Pictou. Waugh used to relate that the only food he had for himself and family during the journey was a bucket of clams. Haliburton says of them:

“They made their escape to Pictou in the greatest poverty and must inevitably have perished had it not been for the kindness of the Highlanders who supported them until they could provide for themselves.”

This, in Waugh’s case, was not long, for on the very next day after his arrival he went to work in the woods making staves and from that time on was able to make a comfortable living for himself and family. He took up a farm almost in the centre of the present town.

Waugh’s future was bright with promise but the American Revolution was now at its height and Waugh, who was an old Scotch Covenanter, refused, for a time, to take the oath of allegiance to the British Crown. This fact seems to have caused suspicion that he was secretly in sympathy with the revolting Colonies. In 1777 a number of American sympathisers in Pictou had planned to capture a British vessel under the command of Captain Lowden. They were successful and Lowden himself was taken prisoner. whether Waugh actually took part in this seizure is extremely doubtful, but so strong was the feeling against him, that so the story goes, he was forced to leave Pictou and settle in Tatamagouche. It was further said that all his property was seized. If this be so, fortune was truly unkind to him; his property being twice confiscated, first by the Americans at Georgetown, and then, on this occasion, by the Royalists. We may add, however, that whatever mistrust he had of the British Government soon disappeared when, after residing a few years under its power in the New World, he, too, appreciated what it meant to enjoy all the rights and privileges of a British subject and hence he soon became a loyal subject of George the Third. His loyalty is shown by an interesting document bearing date November 3rd, 1795, in which one Patrick Martin deposes that though he had long been in the service of Waugh at Tatamagouche, he had never heard him “disclaim or say anything disrespectful against His Majesty King George the Third, or against his Crown or dignity—and further saith that the said Waugh always behaved as an honest and good employer and master to him and others.”

Some time after his arrival at Tatamagouche, Waugh became a servant of the Government, acting as courier between Truro and Tatamagouche. When Prince Edward visited Charlottetown, Waugh escorted him on that part of the journey. Some say that he went with him to that city. The Prince, in recognition of his services, presented him with a handsome silk scarf, which is now in the possession of Waugh’s great-great-grand-daughter, Mrs. Abram Currie.

With him in 1777 or 1778 came also his wife, Nelly or Helen Henderson; his mother, Mrs. Campbell; and his children, Thomas, Alexander, William, Catherine, Wellwood and Mary. He at once settled on the intervales of that river which ever since has borne his name. His first log house, was erected close by the present farm house of Fleming Waugh. At the time of his arrival the whole countryside was still an unbroken forest, save the few clearings made by the Acadian French and the Swiss. There was a trail to Truro, but no road of any kind to Pictou.

Waugh had a good eye for farm land and was far-sighted enough to get possession, at first by lease, of 1600 acres of land, a great portion of which was intervale. DesBarres was not long in turning over the management of his vast estate to his new tenant and, in 1785. he gave Waugh full power of attorney over his Tatamagouche lands. At this time Waugh, with his sons, was paying £15 annual rental. Difficulties soon began to arise between DesBarres and his leading tenant, and finally the landlord questioned Waugh’s title. Litigation resulted but Waugh, who had retained S. G. W. Archibald, was successful. Then the case was appealed to the higher courts but no final decision was ever given. In the mean time, Waugh held by possession. During the meanwhile, DesBarres, who had been appointed Governor of Prince Edward Island, was living beyond his means and his creditors, to protect themselves, did not hesitate to seize the goods of his defenceless tenants. We have already noticed how, by the agreement, DesBarres was to get half the increase in the cattle; thus his share would be liable to seizure by his creditors. We shall now repeat one incident which appeared in print a number of years ago.

“Once, when an attachment was issued, Waugh went among the tenants, collected all the rents in notes and money and sent it to DesBarres agent, then he drove all the cattle belonging to DesBarres’ share hack into the woods. These cattle were afterwards hurried through the forest to the DesBarres estate at Minudie. When the officers came with their writs, it was explained that the Governor had no cattle there, and that the tenants had paid their rents, and owed the estate nothing. The officers and bailiff listened with patience to them and as the story goes, drew their swords to keep off the people, while they gathered all the cattle and horses, which they drove through the woods to Truro, to be sold at ruinously low prices, while the tenants, like Lord Vilin, were ‘left lamenting'.

After this many of the tenants decided to leave and take up land which they themselves could own. This was the cause of many of the young men, as we have already noticed, taking up land at River John, since at that place the Philadelphia Company were giving free freehold grants. The old people stayed because they could not well remove. In addition to those who had already gone, we may mention James Gratto and James Bigney. However, after a while, conditions improved as DesBarres began to give some freehold deeds. This removed the greatest obstacle to settlement.

In 1795 Waugh’s wife, Nellie Henderson, died at the age of sixty-one. This is what he says of her in his diary:

“In the relation of wife, friend and parent, she was in a high degree exemplary, in her life esteemed and beloved, in her death much regretted. She left a numerous offspring, whose number at this period of time amounts to nearly sixty. He who was her partner in life is still alive and now at the advanced age of eighty.”

Her sorrowing husband erected over her grave a large horizontal table with a lengthy inscription, which he composed. It reads something like this:

“'I sixty and six years are past and gone love and unity did still abound She was the mother of my tribe The dusty parts shall near my dwelling bide.

Before my door that I may see The place she lies I’ll shortly be She was zealous for Christ’s cause, Agreeable to Scotland’s covenanted laws.

Now Nellie is dressed like a bride In garments that are white and side That was dear bought by Christ for thee While he was hanging on the tree.

Thy soul in Heaven now sings praises high Although thy body mouldering in dust does lie.

At the dreadful trumpet’s sound, Both heaven and earth will then resound.

The next Voice that thou shalt hear It shall be sweet unto thy ear The Judge says ‘Ye righteous come to me And have pleasure through eternity’.”

Perhaps it may be well at this stage to take further notice of Waugh’s family. The eldest son, Thomas, had as his share of his father’s estate what is now the Embree farm. He was born in 1763 and married Mary Brown, who was the daughter of a captain in the United States army. For a number of years he followed the sea. On one voyage he brought back with him a number of apple trees, which he planted. A few of these, now a hundred years old, can still be seen in the orchard of Fleming Waugh. Wellwood, Donald, Murray and George Waugh were his sons.

Waugh’s second son was Alexander, commonly called “Big Sandy” who lived on the Murdock farm. He was the first Justice of the Peace in North Colchester. He married Hannah Wilson and had three children: Wiiliam; Wellwood, who married a sister of John Currie’s; and Eleanor. He died in 1804 at the early age of thirty-eight. The rustic moralist wrote upon his tomb this simple couplet:

“Death is a debt to nature due
Which I have paid, and so must you.”

The third son was William who was born in 1768 and died in 1857. He married Elizabeth Hood. They had a large family of six sons: Samuel, William, Wellwood, John, Solomon and Alex., and four daughters. His farm was the one now owned by Mrs. William Waugh.

The fourth and youngest son was Wellwood, who was born in 1773, and inherited the old homestead at the Willow Church. He married Lucy Rood, and had four sons: Solomon, Wellwood, James and William, and four daughters.

Waugh’s two daughters were both married, Catherine to Alex. McNab of Wallace, and Mary to Samuel Wilson. Two other children died as infants.

Waugh's mother, Mrs. Campbell, died in 1809 at the advanced age of ninety years. As we have already noted, she had by her second husband one son, William, who settled in Pictou and married Martha Henderson. Three of their sons, Alexander, William and James, as we shall see later, settled in Tatamagouche. The two others, George and Thomas, remained in Pictou. The two daughters, Margaret and Hannah, were married to Andrew Miller and James Hepburn respectively. We can pay no more fitting tribute to this splendid old lady than to quote the following inscription from her tombstone.

“Catherine, mother of W. Waugh and William Campbell, who departed this life in the year 1809 at the advanced age of ninety years. She was a descendant of old Scottish worthies, who, in defence of the testimonies of Jesus and of civil liberties of their country, loved not their lives unto the death and who under Providence were the means of securing to their offspring those civil and religious privileges which now constitute the best ornaments of Scotland. During the whole period of her life she was a careful and successful traveller in the blessed path of her progenitors, and at last completed her protracted pilgrimage in the firm belief of the truth of the divine promises and in the animating hope of an entrance into that Rest which remains for the people of God. In memory of so much goodness and of a parent deservedly dear, this stone has been erected by her sons. ‘The Righteous shall be held in everlasting remembrance.’ ”

Some time after the death of his wife, Waugh returned to Scotland, and began to learn the watch-making trade. He was now a man of fifty years, and in a letter to a friend, dated at Lockerby in January, 1802, he says: “I am coming on very well and am to tell you further, I am the oldest tradesman and the youngest apprentice. On the outside of this letter there is written by an unknown hand that Waugh, when he went to Scotland, left his mother with John Bell at the Willow Church farm. This cannot be correct, as 1806 is the date given for the arrival of John Bell at Tatamagouche. It may have been that Waugh remained in Scotland after 1806, but not for long, as we know from documents that he was back in 1809.

In 1824 this sturdy pioneer paid the debt we all must pay and passed away at the advanced age of eighty-three. Waugh was an ideal settler, possessing the great faculty of being able, in a great measure, to adapt himself to any situation and to become master of any circumstances. The difficulties that he encountered in Georgetown and Pictou might well have discouraged many a strong man, but they seemed only to have aroused in him greater determination to carry out his purpose of having for himself and his posterity a home in which they could live and enjoy a greater degree of religious and political freedom. Yet there remained throughout his struggles a full devotion to Scotland and the old home, and we find him on the first occasion returning there. Amid the strenuous activities of a pioneer life, he found time to continue corresponding with many of his old friends. Some of their letters are extant.

An old Covenanter through and through, he was a true-blue Presbyterian, and very religious. Possibly in this age there may be a tendency to scoff at his religion which had so much of fear and reverence. All his letters show a deep gratitude to the Almighty who had safely brought him through so many perils, and a confiding trust- that he too would be led “safe home at last". With his activities in the establishment and erection of a place of worship, we shall deal later off. Suffice it to say that he was ever the ministers’ friend; his heart and purse were always open to aid these men as they strove to administer to the spiritual needs of the far distant and scattered communities.

In some respects his education was above that of an average person, even of today. With foresight he kept an accurate diary of some of the events of his life, family records, and the more important business transactions. There is really very little difficulty in reading his hand-writing, some of which is now over a century old. He was possessed of the usual amount of Scotch cunning, which he used with varying success, on one occasion outwitting DesBarres and securing for himself and his children that large and valuable tract of land which is still owned by his descendants. As soon as he arrived at Tatamagouche, he became the leading man in the community, the representative of the Government and agent of the landlord. In the struggle for “better terms” from DesBarres he was the leader.

Blazing the trail for the men of Dumfries, Inverness, Rosshire and other places of Scotland, he was the forerunner of the sturdy Scotch pioneers, men who, because of their splendid character and habits, were pre-eminently suited to endure the hardships of a pioneer life and to lay a firm foundation on which succeeding generations were to build a mighty country.

In the old churchyard, close by the scenes of his earthly labours and anxieties he sleeps today. It was in summer last we visited his grave. From the abounding intervales came the smell of fresh mown hay, while under the overshadowing willows, the lilies were growing about his grave. Our feelings were transported back a hundred years, and in imagination we could see him when, in his old homespun clothes, he trod those fields, reclaiming them from wilderness, or when, in the cold of winter, with axe in hand, he felled the trees beneath his “sturdy stroke”. As we surveyed the beautiful farms, many of which were owned by those who bore his name, and many more by those who were proud to claim him as their progenitor, we felt that he had not lived and struggled in vain.

In priority of arrival, William Hayman comes second among the early Scotch immigrants. He was a native of Inverness, but in 1779 joined an expedition which the British Government was sending to America in its endeavour to subdue the revolting colonies. He served for four years in the Royal North Carolina Regiment, and at the conclusion of the war, received his honourable discharge from John Hamilton, the Lieutenant commanding that Regiment. He then came to Nova Scotia and, in some way. was attracted to Tatamagouche and settled on what is now the McKeen farm. His house, of course a log one, would be one of the first in the village. He died in 1829 and was the first to be buried in the cemetery at the Presbyterian Church, Tatamagouche. He had twelve children: David, who first settled on the Lockerbie farm and then moved to River Philip; Mrs. Murphy; Mrs. Smith; Mrs. Simon Cameron; Mrs. Donald Cameron, Mrs. Matatall; Donald, William and John, all of who lived on Waugh’s River; Mrs. John Langille, New Annan; and Frederick, who at first lived where Abe Currie now resides. Mrs. Nelson, another daughter, was the mother of Ex-Warden David Nelson, and was born at the McKeen farm in 1799. Frederick was killed by a falling tree in 1837. He and another young man were engaged in cutting timber on the George Baillie farm near The Falls, to which place he had recently moved, and a large hemlock four feet in diameter fell on him, causing instant death. He was buried at Tatamagouche. His tombstone is the oldest one now standing in that cemetery.

Hayman was a thrifty Scot and made a good settler. At his death he owned some fine farm land which is now the property of his descendants. Though it is many years since he passed away, his spirit continues to live after him. Among the many Canadian heroes who won immortal fame at the battle of St. Julien in April, 1915, were two of his great-grandsons, Thomas Hayman, a son of Frederick Hayman, Balmoral Mills, and Herbert Camerod, of Denmark.

About the close of this century came John Richards. Of English descent, he was born in Newfoundland. As a young man he was pressed into military service and was maltreated at Halifax where, on one occasion, he received on the bare back an unusually large number of stripes the marks of which he carried to his grave. He was a man of remarkable physique and, though by no means quarrelsome he would not hesitate when challenged to defend his fame as a pugilist. He lived first on the French River but shortly after removed to the Head of the Bay, and settled on what is now the farm of his grandson, Joseph Roberts. While living there he had a quarrel with an Indian—an incident well worth relating. Some Indians, along with a number of whites, including Richards himself, had been holding a frolic on Oak or Stewart’s Island just across from his farm. Rum was freely passed around and one Indian, who was noted among his fellows for his pugilistic powers, endeavoring to provoke a quarrel between himself and Richards, challenged the former to “twist necks”. Richards refused to do so and to keep the peace, suggested that they both leave, and offered to take him across on a raft to what is now known as Clark’s Point. While crossing, the Indian still persisted in quarreling, so when they reached the shore, Richards consented to meet him in combat. The struggle was indeed short; one blow from Richards was enough, and the fight ended disastrously for the Indian. The Indians never forgot the defeat administered to their champion, and on various occasions showed their dislike to Richards, and openly boasted that they would have revenge. Richards used to relate that on only one occasion was he ever really afraid of them. One dark night, when returning to his home from the Blockhouse, he was attacked by six Indians armed with muskets. In this case discretion again proved the better part of valour and Richards fled to find refuge in his own house. He was married to Henderson and had a family of seven daughters: Mrs. William Dumphy, Mrs. Henderson, Mrs. Thomas Roberts, Mrs. Wk M. Roberts, Mrs. David Langille, Mrs. Alexander Langille, and Mrs. Brammer. His two sons died as children. Richards died in or about the year 1870, aged ninety-five years.

At the same time John Johnson came with Richards. They had originally belonged to the same regiment and were for some time employed in making “Citadel Hill”, Halifax. They, however, soon grew weary of their restrictions so taking a northerly course through the unbroken forest, they walked till they reached the Northumberland Strait at Tatamagouche. Johnson settled on a large grant of wilderness land where his grandson, the late John Johnson subsequently lived. Here he built a log house, married and settled down. He died in 1841. He had three sons, James, George and Wellwood. The first remained on the old homestead. The late Dr. D. M. Johnson of the village was his son and another son also entered the medical profession. The second son, George settled on his part of the original grant. Of his eight boys, three became ministers of the Methodist Church and the youngest, Dr. J R. Johnson, is a physician in Syracuse, N. Y. James Johnson of Bayhead is another son. The third son, Wellwood, also settled at Bayhead. He had no family.

Besides these permanent settlers already mentioned, there were several who had come out previously but for some reason did not remain for any great length of time. Most of these were merely “squatters” and rather than pay rent into the coffers of DesBarres, they moved away. We have already mentioned Geezar, who lived at the Head of the Bay. After his departure his farm was occupied by one McGrath, but he, like his predecessors obtained no title. In 1786, the whole of this property, comprising 280 acres was deeded to Robert Adam of Wallace.

Doubtless there were others who, like these, remained only for a short time, but these are the only names that are on record, excepting Patrick Martin who, for a time, was a servant to Waugh.

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