[From the Telegraph]
The geographical position of Westmorland has secured for it large railway and other expenditures, which the people have managed to turn to good account, while Albert, with far less wealth, has not yet been wanting in liberality and enterprise. Its area is greatly less than any other county, St. John expected, comprising only 429,00 acers, with a population of about 12,000 – yet proportionately has more miles of common roads – more of railway and telegraph line – more post offices - more schools and district libraries and more church edifices and public halls than any other county in New Brunswick. Every parish is fairly settled, and the bye-roads, in all directions, evince the attention and care of the local members for the want of their constituents. In Elgin, for instance, a stranger in his efforts to reach a given point is reminded of the intricacies of the 15 puzzle. Great roads reach every parish and nearly every important locality. Excepting Alma, which demands an extension, all the parishes are supplied with railway communication. The Post Offices number 60, with 259 miles of mail route, and a daily mail is within easy distance of all the important villages. As to schools there are about 70, not less than 15 of which are furnished with ample libraries in addition to the usual equipment. Church buildings of all denominations number 45, representing an aggregate value estimated at $120,000, so that in all ordinary appliances for both moral improvement and mental culture, Albert is surely not behind the age.
From the year 1784, May 18th, when New Brunswick was first divided into counties, to the year 1828, two parishes only, comprised all the territory, which after a hard struggle was erected, in the year 1845, into the present County of Albert. These were Hopewell and Hilsborough. Coverdale was then, (1828), set apart from the latter, and subsequently, in 1839, Harvey, named in honor of the Lieut. Governor of the day, was set off from Hopewell, and since sub-divided by the erection of Elgin and Alma, leaving the original Hopewell very much the smallest of the six parishes, its area being only 32,000 acres.
The early Acadians have left traces of their residence in Hopewell and Hillsboro by their burial places, marsh improvements, etc., but when the political trouble led to their removal, scarcely a family of the habitans again settled on the Albert side of the Petitcodiac, though on the eastern side a large tract of country was taken up and is still held by them.
The rivers were their principal thorough fares, and the county came to acquire their expressive names, Petitcodiac (originally Petit-con-de-pied, or little instep) was long applied to the early settlements of Hillsborough as Hopewell was known as the patronymic of Shepody, a contraction of Chapeau-de-Dieu – (God’s hat) – said to have originated from first seeing the mountain top above the thick mists which at the time encircled it.
The present populous and thriving village of Hillsborough was subsequently distinguished as the Lower Settlement in distinction from the Upper Settlement of Moncton, at the bend of the river. These old and familiar appellations have long ceased to be used. Forty years ago and one mail came fortnightly from Salisbury, to Hopewell Hill, carried by a trusted carrier on one foot, but the daily arrivals of a later period led to a multiplicity of post offices, each of which supplies a name to the locality and around which has sprung up a pleasant village.
Among the earlier pioneers were the Steeves, of German origin, from Pennsylvania, whose genealogical tree has grown to enormous proportions. Some families of them located in Harvey, for a brief period, and the names of German Town and German Lakes are still retained. They finally, however, rejoined their friends in Hillsborough, where many of their descendants still reside, and are among the more prosperous of the present population. Other families came also, direct from the old country, but the New England States and Nova Scotia furnished the major part of the early settlers of Albert. It would be tedious reading to refer minutely to the various families who first occupied the ground of this favored county, and to whom their successors owe so much for their labor and puck amidst deprivations and hardships almost beyond our appreciation.
The interests of the county comprise agricultural, lumbering, shipping, mining and fishing, about each of which something may be named in the order named. Agriculture, combined with grazing and cattle feedings is every year becoming more extensive. The county having the benefit of salt water and its rich mud deposits around the larger portion of its boundary, possesses marshes of excellent quality. Coverdale has about 1,000 acers, Hillsborough not less than 700, Hopewell is over 2,600, and Harvey about 3,300, besides 700 un-reclaimed, making an estimate aggregate of 8,300 acers. Much of this is in excellent condition, and the whole is susceptible of great productiveness. The original Acadian settlers appear to have applied themselves assiduously, and with considerably enterprise, for the period, in reclaiming these marshes. In many places the old French dykes and aboideau still exist, as mementoes of a past century, and of an industrious and harmless people. These old embankments have become useless. Since new ones have been built, to enclose a greater area.
Much of the marsh lands in all the districts is highly productive, reaching to over two tons of English hay per acer every year; but, taking the average of this property in Albert its real value might be enhanced fifty percent by judicious expenditure of capital. When the holders learn the fact that, to increase the product by one ton of hay per acre, an outlay of fifty dollars per acer would be a profitable expenditure, there may be less apathy and carelessness than are now apparent. Unlike Sackville, very little, if any marsh land is used for grazing. The different bodies are enclosed in common, and pasturage is prohibited. The yearly surplus of hay for market has averaged between 1,500 and 2,000 tons, the increased productiveness being about equal to the increasing requirements of the inhabitants.
The upland soil of Southern Harvey, Hopewell Hill, Surrey, to Rosevale in Hillsborough, the front farms of Coverdale and Midland in Elgin, besides the intervales of the Pollet and Little Rivers, are excellent. Other districts present a variety of superior tracts intermingled with those more difficult to manage.
Considered as an agricultural county only it is capable of supporting three times its present population.
The feeding of cattle for export is lately attracting greater attention. And it is no unusual thing to observe on some farms from 10 to 20 head of oxen in preparation for market. The chief hindrance to a much further extension of this business is the difficulty of obtaining animals of the proper breed and size for present requirements. The agricultural societies have accomplished something in this way, but not nearly so much as might have been expected. As to size, especially, many think there has been no improvement in the horned cattle of fifty years ago.