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Smith's Cove - Volume I - Pages 38 - 40

Early Settlers to Smith’s Cove
Page 38

The earliest settler of British parentage to Smith’s Cove was Joseph Potter, Junior, a soldier of the Continental War, who settled in 1763, near the Annapolis Basin on Lot 10 of the Hoar Grant, east of Smith’s Creek and later known as the Thomas Property. Unless removed recently, the old lilac bushes may still be seen just north of the old “Thomas Cemetery”. Wilson** tells us that Lot 10 of the Hoar Grant was later an Amos Botsford lot, that Joseph Potter drew Lot 21 on the southern side of the Sissiboo River, Adjoining eastern line of Clare Township but exchanged the Sissiboo lot with Amos Botsford for Lot 10 east of Smith’s Creek.

In the early days when land was to be had for the asking, families roamed from place to place, building a log cabin here and another there, until today it is hard to follow their history and genealogy. We do find, however, that in 1783 Joseph Potter exchanged grants with Joseph Smith who had obtained a grant in what is now Upper Clements and about opposite the Historic Baptist Church. Mr. Potter finally settled there on what became “Potter’s Point”, but was lost at sea about 1800 while sailing to New York. “All the Potter’s of Digby and Annapolis Counties are descended from Joseph Potter”, says Wilson**.

Page 39

Because of this exchange of grants we find Joseph Smith (from whom the community derived its name) and his descendants in Smith’s Cove. 

When Joseph Smith arrived, he found two Acadian families living on Lot 10 and a few rods from the site of his house, but they soon left, probably going to Clare amongst their own nationality. A limited clearing had been made by these early pioneers but their names are not available. 

Early in 1770 Major Samuel Harris, of Horton (Now Wolfville), Nova Scotia, arrived. He settled on the farm later owned and occupied by William S. (or A.) Cossett. This farm is on the north side of the present Dominion Atlantic Railway, about opposite the former John McGuire, Senior, property, now owned by James Searle, Senior. It is said that the remains of the old cellar where William Cossett lived may still be seen near the shore of the Annapolis Basin. 

Samuel Harris tried to induce others to settle near him but did not succeed in his endeavour. Since the Indians were troublesome, he decided that it was not safe for a solitary English family to live amongst them in a wilderness, consequently in 1782 he moved to Annapolis. John Lawson, of Digby, also lived on this farm for a time, as did Ambrose Cossett, son of Gilbert (Wilson). 

In 1783 the Loyalists began to settle in Digby and the surrounding country. They worked diligently to clear the land and plant the seed which they brought with them. 

On January 15th, 1784, Loyalists were promised grants of land as soon as the surveys should be received at Halifax. They were happy to take the required oaths and the declaration acknowledging the English King in Parliament as Supreme Legislature of the Country. Transports brought the Loyalists to Digby and other points in the County. Admiral Digby did much to help these brave pioneers, hence the name of the shire town and the County of Digby. 

At this time came Daniel Sulis and his son, John; Joseph Smith, his wife and family; Charles Cosset, Sr., his wife and child; Daniel O'Dell, Sr., his wife and family; and probably others of whom we have not any record. You will find details of some of these families in another section, but we will mention briefly some of the families who came a little later and passed away not leaving any known descendants in Smith’s Cove to pass on the story of their respective families. 

Between 1783 and 1790 Dr. Abraham Florintine, the first medical doctor in this territory, resided in Hillsburgh. Information is conflicting but he may have resided on the property known as the “James Pool Property”, situated on the “old” post road (south side) between the Herbert H. Woodman property and that of Thomas Francis, Senior. In the childhood of the writer there was the remains of an old cellar there around which the yellow violets grew. It was the site of the of the home of Daniel MacGregor, later a Baptist Clergyman, probably the father of Rosanna MacGregor, who married Lewis Cossett and who was a relative of Dr. Stanley B. MacGregor. 

Across the road from the Daniel MacGregor home was that of Henry Crousse on the property now owned by Bishop Waterman. Mr. Crousse arrived about 1805. 

Others arriving at this time (1805) were Lewis G. Gossett, Senior, settling between the present Lyman Pyne house and the Alexander MacLean line; Samuel Pickup, where Russell Savery lives, just west of the Big Joggin Bridge; Capt. Isaac Winchester, on the hill above the Fletcher Adams home where remains of the old cellar may still be seen; Spencer Winchester, on the Sunset Hill Road. 

These latter arrivals were preceded by other families who settled here about 1800 – John Coleman and his wife, Patience. He died February 13, 1822, age 85 years and 11 months; Edward Bryant, Sr., and his wife Rebecca (Rankine) Bryant, from Ireland; John Chute (1807) and resided on east side of Big Joggin nearly opposite the later residence of Abraham L. Gavel (now occupied by Mr. O. Pulley) which is situated east side of old cross road, between “old” post road and paved highway, route 1. 

Franklyn Potter, brother of Benjamin, of Smith’s Cove, married Cynthia Boice, December 30, 1801, and lived near the mouth of Bear River and after a few years removed to Brier Island. 

About this time, John Hunt, Senior, came and resided on the farm owned by William Hunt, Charles Yerrigal, or Yerrigle, lived near the Annapolis Basin, on the same farm about 1806. Another who settled on this apparently popular farm was Cormack MacDormand, about 1801. 

Cormack MacDormand was the son of Robert MacDormand, the pioneer who settled at Grand Joggin. Cormack later sold his property here and moved to Brier Island where his descendants lived. Thomas MacDormand who lived on the older post road from Smith’s cove to Lansdowne was a brother of Cormack. John Chute purchased the Thomas MacDormand farm in two strips. 

The old Hunt Homestead was situated on south side of “old” post road, east of the Temperance Hall. The old cellar may still be seen. Lorenzo Hunt was, I believe, the last person to live there before the house burned down some years ago. 

Aaron Hardy, 3rd, settled on the homestead now owned by Dr. Alexander Leighton, of Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. The same house still remains. Aaron Hardy, 3rd, was succeeded by his son, Benjamin, who was succeeded by his son, Aaron Charles, who died at an early age, unmarried. Charles was followed by his sister, Sarah, and her husband, Isaac B. Nelson, who were in turn succeeded by Dr. Leighton. Aaron Hardy, 3rd, purchased from Victor Como. Hardy had previously occupied Lots 62 & 63 of the township of Annapolis. 

Other early arrivals to Smith’s Cove were Thomas Ells (or Ellis) on the farm later owned by Charles T. Potter. Ells was succeeded by John Armstrong. This historic home was later owned by George Potter (son of Charles T.), by Henry Sarty, Succeeded by his father,  

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Leaman Sarty, present owner. Alexander Thompson lived on the lot later owned by Spurgeon Weir, presently owned by Mrs. Gertrude Petrie. Lawrence Van Horne lived on the eastern side of the same lot. Thomas Watt lived on the farm later owned by Jabez Snow. The old Snow Property has been divided. Part is the property of Herman Cossett (a grandson of Jabez), which is situated south of paved highway. The Jabez Snow homestead is on the north side of the paved highway and railroad track and is part of the O.E. Snow Estate. Only the eastern part of the house belonged to the old Snow home. We find that Mrs. Christiana Watt, widow of Thomas Watt, married Thomas Brothron, of Smith’s Cove.

References to “Wilson” in this text are referring to Isaiah Wilson the author of the book titled “Geography and History of the County of Digby” which he wrote in the 1890’s.