History of Albert County
The following text was taken verbatim from the publication MARRIAGE REGISTER ALBERT CO., NB (1846-1887) 1984 by Ken Kanner and V. “Bing” Geldart ISBN 0-9691642-0-3. I would like to thank the authors for their permission to reproduce this text and for allowing its publication on the Albert County GenWeb page. It should be noted that because it is not relevant to my subject, a section of the original text entitled THE MARRIAGE REGISTER has been omitted from this transcription.
The County of Albert, named for Prince Albert, The Prince Consort and beloved husband of Queen Victoria, is located in the southeastern corner of the Province of New Brunswick.
It is bounded on the south by Chignecto Bay, on the east by Shepody Bay and by the Petitcodiac River which, as far as the Town of Salisbury, also forms its northern boundary. The northwestern corner of the County is formed by the southern extension of Salisbury Parish of Westmorland County. On the west is the Counties of Kings and Saint John. The County contains an area of some 680 sq. miles consisting of cleared farmland and rolling wooded hills.
On March 27, 1845 Albert county was set off from Westmorland County taking with it the original Parishes of Hillsborough and Hopewell, part of the Parish of Salisbury and the later Parishes of Coverdale and Harvey. By that time initial settlements along the Fundy shore and the Petitcodiac River had reached up the many small rivers and streams in search of homestead land and the abundance of virgin timber. The Westmorland county seat at Dorchester, growing increasing more distant from the epicentre of the population, added fuel to the embers of political opportunism and the ambitions of a few energetic hopefuls. The forming of a new geographic entity was an obvious solution. The Parishes of Elgin and Alma were to be formed later.
HOPEWELL, probably named for Hopewell in Pennsylvania or for the ship which brought settlers from Ireland in 1761, was established as a granted Township on 24 Sep 1765. It then formed part of the County of Cumberland, Nova Scotia. On the erection of the Loyalist Province of New Brunswick on 16 Aug 1784; the division into the original eight Counties in May of 1785; and the legislation of Jan 1786, which confirmed County boundaries, Hopewell was included as a Parish of Westmorland County. Although its position facing the Bays of Shepody and Chignecto has not changed, and, since the erection of Albert County, has formed the southeastern corner of the County, Hopewell’s western boundary has reflected several county and parish line refinements. (It should be noted that originally, Westmorland extended farther west into Kings and Queens Counties and Saint John County extended eastward along the Bay of Fundy, to join Hopewell in the vicinity of Rocher Bay). In 1837 the west boundary of Westmorland was moved eastward and extended to the Bay of Fundy. Hopewell was extended westward to include the area that had previously been a part of Saint John County.
HILLSBOROUGH, named for the Earl of Hillsborough, was, like Hopewell, a proprietary Township by grant dated 31 Oct 1765. It shared its southern boundary with Hopewell, its east and north extremities with the Petitcodiac River and extended up river to a point on the river near the present Town of Salisbury. The western boundary can be approximated by extending a line southward from this point to the present village of Albert in Hopewell Parish. On the formation of the new Province, Hillsborough became a parish in Westmorland County. It remained practically unchanged until Coverdale Parish was set off in 1828.
COVERDALE was named for the Coverdale River (called locally and of recent, Little River) which, it has been suggested, was named for Miles Coverdale (1488-1568), Bishop of Exeter and English translator of the Bible. As Coverdale was born in Yorkshire, there may exist a glimmer of truth, but, it can be speculated that both he and the river may share the same origins of name. The first English settler to establish at the mouth of the river was Joshua Geldart who, with his nephew John (the progenitor of all of that name in Albert and the surrounding Counties) came in May 1774 from the North Riding of Yorkshire. Both were born in Coverham, a small Parish in the Dale of Cover (the valley of the River Cover). The weight of coincidence allows one to speculate that Joshua or in fact John may have needed a reminder of their homeland. Joshua was to return there. John stayed.
As mentioned earlier, Coverdale Parish was erected in 1828 from the western end of Hillsborough, taking with it the northern half of the old parish and extending westward in 1845 (with the formation of Albert County) as far as the county border and the Parish of Salisbury in Westmorland.
HARVEY Parish, named for the then Lieut. Gov. of NB, Sir John Harvey, was set off from Hopewell in 1838. This division would take over the west coastal section of Hopewell from the Village of Albert to the recently defined boundary with Saint John.
Between the period of the formation of the Province with the establishment of the original county boundaries and the setting apart of Albert County, the unassigned lands to the west of Hopewell and Hillsborough Parishes and as far as the west county line was, [probably by default], included as part of the Parish of Salisbury. With the advance of the settlers into the hinterlands, this large tract of near wilderness would need further subdividing.
ELGIN Parish named for John Bruce the Earl of Elgin and the Gov. Gen. of Canada, was set off from Salisbury Parish in 1847 and became the fifth parish of Albert County. It included most of the interior of the county, was completely land-locked by the other parishes and provided the headwaters for many of the small streams and rivers of the region. These streams and the coming of a new railway spur was to do much for commercial production from the vast tracts of timber. Farming, and to a lesser degree lumbering, still provides a livelihood for those descendants of the original settlers and the busy woods gangs who have chosen to remain after the disappearance of the great timber tracts.
ALMA Parish, named in 1855, it is believed, for the Battle of Alma in the Crimea which took place the previous year. The Parish was set off from the western half of Harvey. Although a coastal region, the rugged terrain and the depletion of its forests has not been receptive to large settlements. The timber trade for some decades supported large transient populations but today the one small town of Alma gets its summer influx of transients from visiting tourists, not the hustle and bustle of a busy lumbering and shipping town.
Some Albert County History
(Excerpts from a History of Albert County, found at the New Brunswick Museum Archives in Saint John. This history was apparently prepared by W.C. Milner from the papers of “Robinson”, but never published. Submitted by Dawn Kinnie )
Domestic and Social Life
Remote communities in pioneer days were put to primitive methods of life, making neighbours dependent upon each other, and sometimes forcing a settler into all kinds of employment. Mr. Robert Dickson, of Hopewell, kept an account book from 1776 to 1828, which showed him to be a farmer, inn-keeper, trader, ferryman, vessel owner, carpenter, butcher, solicitor, and engaged in several other employment. He wrote deeds at 2/6 each, sold rum, was ferryman, ran a vessel on the Bay of Fundy, provided meals and lodging, worked on the roads and dykes, kept a register of births, marriages and deaths, and a record of earmarks of cattle. He seemed to possess a universal aptitude, making him a valuable addition to the community. Besides his other employments, Mr. Dickson, must have been somewhat of a blacksmith and possessed a forge for he makes continuously charges for sharpening the shears of ploughs. Primitive saw mills had been introduced by the Acadian French of the “jack-knife” character – the up and down saw operated by water poser: whether Mr. Dickson had one or not, he was able to sell boards at four pounds ten shillings per thousand. He mentions a Mr. Akerly, a millwright, who had build several mills in New York and who had offered to build [sic] a saw mill and grist mill for £300.