Kings County

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Kings County
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KINGS COUNTY. BY A KINGS COUNTY MAN. While the people of Kings are not jealous of the warm encomiums bestowed on Westmoreland by a “recent writer,” who seems to have had his lot cast among pleasant people, nor of the able presentation of the varied interests of Albert, they feel that there are other “noble counties,” besides the two already named, and that Kings is certainly one of them. This point can easily be established. Kings County, from its central position, its nearness to the chief city of the Province, and the fact that it is traversed throughout almost its entire length by our great Canadian highway – the Intercolonial Railway – is one of the best known of the political divisions of New Brunswick. A glance at the map shows its shape to be that of a wedge, with the point taken off. It is approximately 60 miles long, 30 broad at its wider end, and 6 at its narrow extremity. ITS RIVER SYSTEM. Its Western part is detached from the main body of the County by the Saint John River, which in this respect seriously interferes with the autonomy of the county, and renders its frontier on the west anything but a scientific one. But for this it returns the valuable compensation of navigable water. Ascending the Saint John we pass, after we enter Kings, for 6 miles along a noble river till we reach the mouth of its tributary the Nerepis. Thence we turn at a square angle to the right and for twenty miles traverse the Long Reach in a north-easterly direction, and then turning abruptly to the left, we arrive in a few miles at the boundary of Queens. From the last mentioned angle, Bellisle Bay, a fine sheet of navigable water, continues for ten miles the direction of the reach, and gives to the people of Kars and Springfield what the St. John River and Kennebeccasis Bay give to Westfield, Greenwich, Kingston, Hampton and Rothesay parishes, water highways for the carriage of their products to market in the summer, and ice roads in winter. THE KENNEBECCASIS is another of the highway of Kings. The fine bay, famous for aquatic sports, by which it connects with the St. John, together with the river itself, gives navigable water to Hampton. In the earlier times, by means of the Durham boat, it afforded water carriage to the early settlers as far as Sussex, as long before the advent of the white man it had been the Indians canoe route from what is now the eastern to the western portion of the county. In those days, after ascending the Kennebeccasis to where it overlaps the Anagance, the canoes were carried across over the hills to the latter stream, by which a descent was made to the Petitcodiac, and thence downward to the head of the Bay. The upper portion of the Kennebeccasis long ago received the name of Salmon River on account of the numbers of that fine fish which then frequented its waters. The name has survived almost total destruction of the Kennebeccasis salmon, but few of which now visit its channels. Its upper waters, and those of its tributaries, are still the resort of trout in large numbers, affording excellent sport to the angler. The channel of the Kennebeccasis marks out the great central valley of Kings, as do the lesser valleys that diverge to the right and left. ITS SEVERAL TRIBUTARIES In these are its intervales, its chief settlements and its agricultural wealth. The first large branch, as we ascend, is the Hammond River, which waters the Parishes of Hammond, Upham, and Hampton. Further up the Millstream stretches away to the left and waters the Parish that derives its name from an early and prominent settler near its mouth, Col. Studholm. The Smith’s Creek is the next prominent branch to the left, while shortly above, at Sussex, are Ward’s Creek and Trout Creek, diverging to the right. At Penobsquis Stone’s Brook is a tributary to the main stream from the north-east and South branch from the opposite side. One great use of these and the smaller tributary streams has been to float to the St. John market the very large lumber product of the county. They also furnish a great number of excellent water privileges, that have been utilized to operate numerous saw mills, which provide sawn lumber for the local demand, and deals for shipment, as also to operate the many grist and flouring mills with which the county is supplied. HISTORICAL. But few settlers had established themselves within the present boundaries of Kings until the arrival of the Loyalists in 1783. A good number of families of these devoted monarchists planted themselves upon its soil within the few years succeeding their migration to this Province, where they had been told there was “nine months cold weather and three months winter” in the year. They suffered untold hardships. It is related how some of them with scant food and insufficient clothing, quartered in the rude huts, which they were not skilful in constructing, heated great blocks of hardwood, between which they placed their little ones to keep them from freezing in the long winter nights. In Sussex the first little colony were at one time so reduced that they had to take up the seed potatoes which they had planted and use them for food. Late spring and early fall, frosts destroyed their crops, while wild beasts prowled fearlessly by day and night around their dwellings. They had no churches, schools, or mills. The unground wheat was boiled and eaten in some cases, and little ones died in consequence. But the settlers of those days were not the men or women to be dismayed at trifles. They stood at their posts, toiled on with patient industry and unflinching fortitude, until the forest was rolled back and they saw the wilderness “redeemed to the sickle and the plow.” Probably no pen will ever do justice to the courage, endurance, and many admirable qualities of these early settlers of Kings. ROADS AND BRIDGES. At first the communication between St. John and the settlements along the St. John River, Kennebeccasis and Bellisle bays and rivers was almost entirely by water. The settlements gradually spread upward and eastward, tracking their fertile valleys to their source. Roads were opened up, connecting the various colonies with each other, and with St. John, but it was not until 1825 that the great road was completed through the length of Kings, via Hampton, Norton, and Sussex, and thence onward to Moncton. Since then settlements have been extended till they have reached the boundaries of the county upon every side, and roads have been built in every direction, amply sufficient in number and length for the requirements of all the people. Their completion has, owing to the number and size of the rivers to be crossed, involved the erection of many costly bridges, among which are one across the Nerepis, another at Perry’s Point, and a fine arched bridge across the Hammond River, while the Kennebeccasis has been spanned by substantial structures at Hampton, Norton, Apohaqui and Sussex, and the Trout Creek also at the latter place. RAILWAYS. Kings has had the advantage since 1859 of the Intercolonial Railway traversing the county for a distance of 50 miles, or almost from end to end. The newly constructed St. Martins and Upham Railway intersects its southern half, from Hampton towards the Bay, while the St. John and Maine Railway crosses the western part of the county parallel with the St. John River. In all, there are about 70 miles of Railway in the county, which, with its numerous great and by-roads, and its admirable water highways, before referred to, afford the best possible facilities for intercommunication between its various communities, and with the market of St. John and the outside world generally. POLITICAL. Kings had but two representatives in the House of Assembly till 1847, since which date it has been represented by three members. Down till nearly that date its complexion had been very largely Conservative. The Loyalists and their descendants, who had made such great sacrifices for the maintenance of their loyalty and patriotism, were principally connected with the Church of England, and were believers in and staunch defenders of the then prevalent system of Church and State. These old and highly respectable families constituted what there was of society in the county; they held the offices; they and they only could be magistrates. And in those days to be a magistrate in Kings was to be one of a score of dignitaries who were looked upon by the common people with awe and trembling. It is questionable whether there is much reverence felt for the two hundred justices of to-day as there was for twenty then. In no part of the Province was the political strife between the Church of England and other denominations more warmly contested than in Kings, and it was not long until the disabilities under which the clergymen of the latter were placed, in not being allowed to solemnize marriage, were removed, persons of such denominations were appointed to the magistracy and equal rights generally were recognised. Notwithstanding these changes Kings has always had strong Conservative leanings, and the masses do not readily sympathize with the advanced views of the Liberals elsewhere. Partly in consequence of the infusion of new blood into the bench of magistrates that governed Kings, and partly because of the altered condition of things arising from the construction of the railway, the removal of the seat of county government from Kingston to Hampton was agitated, and after a long and spirited contest was carried into effect. The result has been the erection at Hampton of a court house and jail, which are not only a credit to the county but are the best in the Province. The introduction of Municipal Government under the general Act, applicable to the whole Province, has tended to develop great interest among the people in County affairs. The Municipal Council of thirty members contains many intelligent and able men, and constitutes a local parliament of which any county might feel proud. The debt incurred to erect the County Building is now practically extinguished by the payment, since it was begun, of $3,000 a year. In addition to this favorable exhibit the County has a unique source of revenue in the possession of some Islands in the St. John River and some meadows on the Kennebeccasis – the grant of which was obtained for the County by General Coffin, one of the early representatives in the House of Assembly. The largest of the islands is now approximately an hundred acres in extent, having greatly increased in size since the date of the original grant. These public meadows are now placed under the management of a committee of the Council, by whom the grass is annually sold in lots, realizing to the County from $500 to $1,200 annually.