Fieldstone Fences: Part 4

In several property deeds of the 1840’s the boundary lines speak of the Hibbits Road and the road to the “Back Settlement”. Both descriptions are of the road to East Uniacke. Let’s take that road right now and travel back into East Uniacke’s interesting past.

In the year 1783 on proclamation of peace between Great Britain and the United States, His Majesty’s late 84th Regiment was discharged with the promise of certain lands free of charge as compensation for services during the contest with America. The land was to go to those who would settle and become inhabitants. The commander Cornel John Small procured a grant of one hundred and five thousand acres.

Described as “being situated within the County of Hants”, Colonel Small named his grant Douglas Township. A number of the soldiers did settle in the Nine Mile River and Kennetcook Districts. They were, in later years, in danger of Escheat, when the rest of that large grant to the regiment was not settled by those who took a look around at the Hants wilderness and then settled elsewhere.

As for the Colonel, he built himself a mansion and called the place Selma after his home in dear old England. He then went to England and took up the rest of his career in the British Isles. He left his Regiment to sort it all out with the government of the time. The men and their families were mostly from the southern States. Their Regiment was the 84th Regiment of St. Augustine. No wonder, on landing in Halifax, they didn’t make it into the wilderness. They traded and were all over the place except in the forests of Hants County.

No attempt was made to revise the list in accordance with the revision of the boundaries of the counties of Annapolis, Hants and Kings so that we find that our township boundaries of Uniacke, in 1831, took in quite a few blocks of the old St. Augustine grant. They are in as far as half way from the Rawdon Road to the middle of East Uniacke (land grant maps show the former grantees’ names). Now we know that some of our residents live today on the St. Augustine grant of 1783. Perhaps no part of Uniacke has remained so constant in the family names as East Uniacke. The land has not changed hands as often as elsewhere in the district.

A few years after the St. Augustine grant had reverted back to the crown, land petitions were given out to those wanting to settle the old grant. One of the first petitioners was John Hibbits. In 1825 he was granted quite a large Course of the left side of the road.

We already know that Darby McDonald and the Lawrence brothers had grants on the right side of the road. Then the Lynch brothers from Ireland, living in Halifax, had asked for land. James Lynch found, when he claimed his grant, that there had been a mistake. His grant had already been given to Roger Johnson, and that he in turn had sold it to Darby McDonald. James took it to court and his lawyer was James Boyle Uniacke. James Lynch was given another piece of land beside a small lake. He never did come here to live and in 1842 he sold his grant.

Timothy and Peter Savage arrived in 1842. Timothy cleared a road (Beamish Road) and built his little farmhouse on the side of a hill about a mile in the woods. Peter knew he wanted to build his farmhouse beside James Lynch’s small lake and James agreed to sell. Today (April 1984), Peter Savage’s farmhouse still stands, framed by the trees overlooking the lake that bears his name.

Now, for a minute, we meet one of James Beddoes’ land deals as he had bought up Darby’s grant from his son Jeremiah McDonald, then sold much of the land to the Etters and they had built a sawmill. That’s where the lumber had come from to build all those Etter houses.

By the 1860’s the Etters were willing to sell the mill. The new owners were again two brothers, William and David Lewis. William built his house around the side of the lake just in a piece past Tim Savage. David built his on the rise overlooking the water dam. Even today that is still a beautiful spot.

John Aker, living in Rawdon, also wanted to homestead along the East Road. John Hibbits sold him a whole hill. It was on that hill that John Aker made one of the neatest and cleared farms around. If you ever walk John Aker’s farm, you will see where his fieldstones went.

John and Margaret Aker raised three children in their home. Sarah was the one who would always remain close by. She married George Terhune and they built a house just down the hill a bit from the big house. When the Akers grew old and it came to take care of them, George and Sarah made a move. This was not the ordinary move. When they went “up the hill”, they took their house with them, placed it right over John Aker’s big well and kept on going into the big house to look after them. The house over the well was so close it became the milk house, harness room and a place for George, who was a carpenter, to build a boat. George’s boat never saw the water, but his dreams went into the building of it.

George and Sarah had one child – Hattie. When Hattie was twenty-one she married John Driscoll. John had bought the Lewis Mill and they went to live in the cozy little house above the water dam. As so often happened in those times, Hattie was to be one of those moms who died young, leaving a little family behind. Then another custom of the time came to the rescue – Grandmother Terhune took them all up to her house to comfort and keep them.

The Driscoll children grew up, like their mother and grandmother, scanning the countryside from one of the highest hills in East Uniacke. It was probably best put into words by Samuel Britton, when one day he was looking around through a pair of field glasses, “Why, I can see the green moss on my roof shingles from here!” His house was over on the Beamish Road. You can’t miss seeing that big Cement Building as you drive along. It stands so stark and alone on the hill. It is a leftover from the technology of war. But, it is also a Marker for it stands almost over the spot of the Aker home.

John Hibbits Sr had built his home on a rise around the bend from the Mill Dam. He and his sons were of the time when logging meant the value of the timber was higher than the land itself when grants of land could be had for one dollar an acre for its crop of trees. The Hibbits built mills, opened up roads, and were mostly in time to catch the contracts for the railroad that was pushing its way through Uniacke.

After the days of John Hibbits had passed, a young man bought the slope below the old home. Johnie Johnson built a sturdy country house with the help of his brother Azra and their brother-in-law Earl Joyce. They had planned to live in the house together, however, fate had planned otherwise for Johnie Johnson. The James Hobin family of Halifax had been spending the summer in the Lewis house by the Mill Dam. That’s the summer that John and Middie Hobin met and fell in love by the old Mill Stream. John’s plans changed a bit then and instead of taking his brother and sister to live in his house, he took his bride. That house is almost hidden by the trees now, but like the old home that stood above it, it has had its share of good family life.