Just Bitchin’ – Deep into Family History

Before my recent Nova Scotia trip (read previous blog), I knew I had roots in Sheffield Mills, Nova Scotia – just outside Wolfville.  In fact, I had a picture of a house with some names and dates written on the back of it – and I had a copy of a book called “Sheffield Genaeology”.  This book also had a picture of “the house” – but nowhere could I find an address.  I was determined to find the place and beyond that – who knew?

My great-great-great grandfather (Stephen Sheffield) bought the house in 1779, lived in it until his death, his son and family then lived in the house, followed by his son and family – and finally by my grandfather, his wife and their son, my Dad – until my grandfather passed away when my Dad was only 4 years old.

A helpful gentleman involved with Nova Scotia “Valley Tourism” responded to one of my many emails I sent out and asked me to send him the picture.  I did – and also sent a rough hand-drawn map from the genaeology that showed housing in Sheffield Mills in 1864 – each house identified by who lived in it – not by street name and number. This kind person went out of his way (that’s what Maritime folk do) and not only found the house – he went there himself and took a current picture of it for me, sending along with that, the latitude and longitude co-ordinates so I could find it myself.

Google provided me a street name and address (which turned out to be incorrect).  After settling in to Roselawn Cottages in Wolfville, we headed to Sheffield Mills in search of the house.   My GGGG bought the house from Christopher Knight whose wife was said to have been a witch.  The front doors of the house were identified as “Dutch Christian – Satanic” with an inverted cross on them.  Apparently they are of much interest to tourists today!!

After stopping at an incorrect house – we were helped along by friendly folks and then there it was.  THE HOUSE.

Several efforts to knock on the door provided no response, and after taking a picture of the outside, we prepared to leave.  Before we could do so a car pulled into the lane.  I identified myself and my interest in the house and we were immediately invited in.  Oh my!  It was emotional and overwhelming.  The floors were original.  The ceiling beams were original.  The front door was original.  Some neighbours were called and arrived in short order . I guess a visiting Sheffield was an event.  The neighbour (Jim) had lived in the house himself for 60 years and prior to that, his family, for generations, had been next-door neighbours and friends of my family.  I had some family and house history with me.  The new owner is an archaeologist and had a keen interest in the history of the house and family and is hoping to restore much of it.  Jim was also the “about-to-retire” editor of the local bi-monthly news – and it sounded very much like my visit was going to be included in the next edition!!

We stayed several hours and were made to feel completely at home. I came away with 2 hand-made nails from the original construction, lots of stories and a keen sense of family.  There wasn’t time to do more – and there was so much more to do – historial aerial photographs, cemeteries to investigate, etc. etc.

Another visit to Sheffield Mills just might be in order!!

This was definitely a trip highlight for me!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s