Testimonies and Secrets: The Story of a Nova Scotia Family, 1844-1977 9781442667020

A story of vivid personalities and episodes, by turns sad, conflicted, joyful, bitter, funny and reflective, Testimonies

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Table of contents :
Illustrations and Maps
Prelude: Lunenburg and “Crouse town Mills,” 1753–1844
1. Young Man on the Rise
2. John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884
3. The Family and Its World, 1880–1900
4. John Will Crouse’s Autumn-time, 1898–1914
Interlude: Crousetown in an Era of War and Depression
5. The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943
6. A Family’s End, 1943–1977
Postlude: Crousetown, 2007
1. Krauss/Crouse Family
2. Simeon Crouse Family
3. Ramey Family
4. Eikle and Kaulback Families
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This compelling history of the Crouse-Eikle family is drawn from papers discovered in their ancestral home in Crousetown on Nova Scotia’s South Shore. Millwright John Will Crouse (1844–1914) kept a meticulous diary spanning ive decades. Relective by nature, he recorded the challenges of work, pondered the intricacies of communal life, and wrote movingly of his personal and spiritual struggles. His daughter Elvira Crouse Eikle reported on village events for local newspapers, and her son, Harold Eikle (1912–1977), a gifted teacher and musician, wrote letters and family history. Harold’s correspondence celebrated the social liberations of the 1930s and beyond, and also showed their limits in the suffering he experienced as a gay man in a heterosexual world. Using the family papers, other unpublished documents, and oral history, Robert M. Mennel connects the experiences of the Crouse-Eikle family and their community to larger themes of social and cultural change in North America. A story of vivid personalities and episodes, by turns sad, conlicted, joyful, bitter, funny, and relective, Testimonies and Secrets will be read with pleasure by scholars and general readers alike. robert m. mennel is emeritus professor of History at the University of New Hampshire.







Map Area

Mahone Bay

Mahone Bay Maitland

Big Lots




Hebb Lake

La Ha ve R

Fancy Lake Conquerall Mills Hebbs Cross

e tit Pe

Minamkeak Lake

Lun enb urg Harb or


Milipsigate Lake

ive r

La Have

Greenfield Italy Cross Italy Cross Rd.

Bell Island

Crescent Beach


ed wa y


Petite Rivière

Riv er

LaHave Islands

Green Bay Broad Cove Salters Falls Charleston Mill Village Voglers Cove Port Medway




John Will Crouse’s Nova Scotia



6 mi



10 km

Testimonies and Secrets The Story of a Nova Scotia Family, 1844–1977



© University of Toronto Press 2013 Toronto Buffalo London www.utppublishing.com Printed in Canada ISBN 978-1-4426-4700-8 (cloth) ISBN 978-1-4426-1478-9 (paper)

Printed on acid-free, 100% post-consumer recycled paper with vegetable-based inks

Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data Mennel, Robert M. Testimonies and secrets: the story of a Nova Scotia family, 1844–1977 / Robert M. Mennel. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-4426-4700-8 (bound). ISBN 978-1-4426-1478-9 (pbk.) 1. Crouse, John Will, 1844–1914 – Diaries.  2. Crouse, John Will, 1844–1914 – Family.  3. Millwrights – Nova Scotia – Crousetown – Diaries.  4. Crouse family – Diaries.  5. Eikle family – Diaries.  6. Crousetown (N.S.) – History – Sources.  I. Title. FC2349.C76Z48 2013   971.6’230099   C2013-902980-X

University of Toronto Press acknowledges the financial assistance to its publishing program of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. University of Toronto Press acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund for its publishing activities.

This book has been published with the help of a grant from the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, through the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, using funds provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

To Robert Crouse (1930–2011) and Susan

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Illustrations and Maps ix Acknowledgments xi Introduction


Prelude: Lunenburg and “Crouse town Mills,” 1753–1844 14 1 Young Man on the Rise


2 John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884


3 The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


4 John Will Crouse’s Autumn-time, 1898–1914


Interlude: Crousetown in an Era of War and Depression 5 The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943 191 6 A Family’s End, 1943–1977 225 Postlude: Crousetown, 2007 Appendices: Genealogies


1 Krauss / Crouse Family 2 Simeon Crouse Family 3 Ramey Family


264 265


4 Eikle and Kaulback Families 267








Illustrations and Maps

Photos 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Mills, including “Yanky Mill,” ca. 1890s 36 Spinning wheel, Crouse / Eikle house, 1959 70 John Will Crouse house, 2012 86 Floor plan of John Will Crouse house, 1878 87 Frances Ann “Fan” (Ramey) Crouse with her half-sister, Christy Ann (Fancy) Hebb, ca. 1882 96 John Will Crouse, ca. 1900 97 Elvira “Elvie” Crouse’s map of North America, 1896 129 Elvie Crouse in pinafore, ca. 1894 130 Willett and Hattie (Harmon) Crouse, 1895 136 Elvie Crouse, 1900 139 Ben and Carrie (Crouse) Ramey, 1915 162 Interior of Crouse Brothers’ mill, 1925 174 Bill and Kathleen (O’Leary) Ramey, 1918 184 Kathleen Ramey and son Bobby, 1934 187 “Uncle Sol” Ramey, Fan Crouse, Jenny Ramey, Kathleen Ramey, Edith Ramey, and Elvie (Crouse) Eikle, 1931 187 Edwin Eikle family, 1915 193 Edwin and Harold Eikle, and Fan Crouse, 1925 194 Harold Eikle, 1920 196 Harold Eikle going to school, 1920 196 Gid Crouse family, 1920 197 Harold Eikle with his cousin Jenny Ramey, ca. 1928 197 Harold Eikle, ca. 1931 209 Fan Crouse with her brother Ben Ramey, ca. 1940 224


Illustrations and Maps

24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Elvie Eikle, social columnist, ca. 1950 228 Mrs Beech Crouse, ca. 1950 232 Eldora Kaulback, ca. 1920 239 Photograph of Crousetown mills, 1950 245 Nellie Snyder painting of mills, 1964 245 Elvie Eikle and cat, 1959 247 Harold and Gladys (Warren) Eikle, 1962 249 Harold Eikle in Veteran, Alberta, 1974 257

Maps 1 John Will Crouse’s Nova Scotia Frontispiece 2 Crouse town Mills, ca. 1825 21 3 Crousetown, 1883 61


The history of the Crouse / Eikle family could not have been written without the wisdom and generosity of friends and colleagues. Foremost among these was the Reverend Dr Robert D. Crouse (1930–2011). A sixth-generation descendant of the Crousetown settlers, Robert lived nearly all of his life in his ancestral home near the Petite. His monumental achievements as a theologian, writer, and professor of classics at the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University have been widely acclaimed. He was a world-renowned scholar, the irst nonCatholic invited by the Vatican to teach seminarians the works of St Augustine and other Patristic writers. Robert’s gift to me was his willingness to share his love and understanding of the Crousetown community by bringing to life a past drawn from what his beloved Augustine called “the hills and spacious palaces of memory.” His moving remembrances of the principal characters of this book – John Will Crouse’s wife Fan, their daughter Elvie Eikle, and John Will’s grandson, Harold Eikle – were imparted with humour and understanding. From his sitting room, graced with a carving extolling the contemplative life, we ventured into the past of this special place. As part of our quest, we connected to Robert’s kinsman, John Will Crouse, who had written in his diary on New Year’s Eve of 1889: “Thanks to Him that gives us time to use it wright.” Another friend without whom this work could not have been written is Cathy Ramey. A relative of Fan Crouse, she grew up next door to the Eikle family in a house built by her grandfather, Bill Ramey. At an early age, she began collecting stories and records of her family’s history. Throughout her career as a librarian in New Brunswick, she maintained regular contact with the community and expanded her collection with

xii Acknowledgments

stories passed down from her mother Ruth and in her correspondence with Harold Eikle after he moved to Alberta. Without Cathy’s family history and her understanding of village lore, this book would surely have gotten lost in the thickets of local history. Other people, friends and neighbours lately departed or living in Crousetown today, also remembered the mill era and John Will Crouse’s descendants. In their own recollections, which included ancestral stories, they relected with care and affection on the long-departed family. Nellie Snyder, a trained nurse who ministered to many villagers over her long and productive life, shared her substantial collection of photographs. Her family, the Voglers, owned the Oar and Handle Mill, the sole remaining artefact of an age gone by. Malcolm Parks, the dean of local history, gave me the beneit of his wide knowledge of Petite and environs, and also read early drafts of this work with great care. Paul Harmon, whose family roots rival the Crouses, provided important guidance through his online record of early photographs. In Crousetown, Dawn and Billy Teal and Scott Drummond uphold the family heritage from their homes near where the mills once stood; they kindly explained to this neophyte the ways of this world of work, and also shared their memories and pictures of the various Crouse families. Many others, both in Nova Scotia and Alberta, gave me special insights into personalities, local geography, and the intricacies of village customs and institutions. Earle Arenburg, Myrtle Bolivar, Elizabeth Conrad, Patricia Drew, Les Hainer, Eddie Herman, Leo Herman, Lester Himmelman, Grant and Patsy Johnston, Vivian Moores, Owen Ramey, Edwin Sperry, John Stahl, and Gael Watson have been especially helpful. As is often the case in historical research, this has been a longer journey than anticipated. Over the past decade, friends and acquaintances near and far have offered advice and sympathy in just the right measure. Special thanks to Nicholson Baker, Donald Bolivar, Jeff Bolster, Sue Bremner, Joan Christy, Alice Croft, Sheila Olins Gardner, Susan Grifiths, Dennis and Doris House, Grant and Patsy Johnson, Brian Oickle, Kim Oickle, Doris Parks, Phil Pochoda, Kathleen Tudor, Shirley Turner, Wendy Underwood, Mike Watson, Peter and Elaine Young, and Angela Zwicker. This work could not have been completed without the encouragement and skilled advice of many people and organizations. Foremost among these has been Len Husband of the University of Toronto Press, who has offered steady counsel and, when needed, an encouraging



word. His endorsement of the manuscript helped to secure a grant from the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Two readers for the Press also provided helpful suggestions and corrections as the manuscript was being revised. Historian Joan Dawson shared her broad knowledge of Nova Scotia past and the art and sciences of cartography. Further support has come from the staffs of the Provincial Archives of Nova Scotia (Philip L. Hartling), the Nova Scotia Museum (Scott Robeson), the South Shore Genealogical Society and Lunenburg County Museum (Ralph Getson), the DesBrisay Museum (Linda Bedford), the Family History Centre in Bridgewater (Betty Rodehizer), the Raddall Centre, Queen’s County Museum, the Lunenburg County Registry of Deeds in Bridgewater, and the Bridgewater Library. Additional assistance has been provided by Bridgewater town engineer Harland Wyand, Ted Kirkpatrick at the University of New Hampshire, cartographer Bill Nelson, and computer expert Kathi Hardy. In the course of writing about the Crouse / Eikle family, I became more grateful for my own – for the love and support of my wife, Susan Pearson Mennel, and of our four children and their families. Susan, a Minnesota farm girl who grew up in a church-centred community dominated by concerns over land, weather, and water, had an intuitive grasp of John Will Crouse’s universe. A historian herself, she walked the delicate line between praise and criticism in the editing of various drafts with patience and sensitivity. She also offered the special gift of  her own scholarship on St Augustine. In this she found a close philosophical comrade in Robert Crouse, who shared her work with colleagues. Robert’s last residence at the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum in Rome was in 2005. When we saw him the following summer, he astonished Susan by announcing, “You’re famous at the Vatican!” To both of them – my now-departed friend Robert and my wife Susan – this book is dedicated with my deepest love. R.M.M. October 2012

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On 17 April 1872, twenty-seven-year-old John Will Crouse worked all day in the Burnaby mill on the Medway River near Liverpool, Nova Scotia. “It was very cold,” he wrote in his diary, “the ground was froze hard and blowed a stiff breeze from the westerd.”1 In the evening, John Will and his friends “was all to meeting to here something good.” The sermon, from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, was encouraging: “Therefore, if a man become a new creature in Christ, old things haf past away and all things become new.” Six weeks later, John Will purchased “two lb. of tobacco” and “twelve tumblers, one bottle wisky, two bottle port wine the best kind.” Two months further on, he noted: “It was a day I did not aprecate very much for the bottle was handled too free.” And the following January he was contrite: “I did not feel very smart for I smooked too much tobacco … and I am very sorrow.” John Will Crouse here confronted an ancient emotional dilemma – in the words of Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome (C.E. 58): “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”2 John Will’s re-enactment of this drama appears in the irst volume of his diary, a remarkable work begun in 1871 and running until April 1913, the year before he died. Silent on Sundays, John Will wrote entries on all other days, 13,000 in sum over forty-two years. His work describes the cultures of family, community, work, and enjoyment, but it also charts the journey of a divided self, struggling to do good but inevitably falling short. In its comprehensive scope, force, and self-honesty, the diary encouraged his descendants to tell their own stories and left us, his readers, with much to relect upon. By that spring day in 1872, John Will Crouse had been working fulltime for fourteen years; since the early 1860s, he had laboured as a


Testimonies and Secrets

journeyman millwright at the Burnaby mill. His home was in Crousetown, Nova Scotia, a village founded by his great-grandfather, Leonard Anthony Crouse, in the late eighteenth century. By the 1820s, several Crouse families and their neighbours had constructed mills and a dam at a turn in the Petite River, and their homes and businesses formed the nucleus of the community. John Will’s father, William Leonard Crouse, had a chequered career in the family mill; he died in 1863, leaving John Will to care for his mother Elizabeth and four younger siblings, all under the age of ten. The young man took his responsibility seriously, developing skills as a surveyor, blacksmith, and, most vitally, a millwright. His sojourns to the Burnaby mill ended in the late 1870s, and he returned to Crousetown to build up his own milling interests. John Will also assumed leadership within the village as a road commissioner and overseer of the poor. In the early 1880s, he built a new house on the west bank of the Petite River overlooking the mills. That house still stands, having sheltered two subsequent generations along with the diary and other records of their lives. During John Will’s middle years, his diary shifted in appearance and tone. He added sidebars to record business transactions, and his observations became pithier, but still resonant with feeling. In a splotchy entry on 14 July 1883, John Will noted nervously, “went over to Reverent Jordan’s and maried Fanny A. Ramey.” He was then thirty-nine and Fan, his next-door neighbour, was sixteen; their only child, daughter Elvira, called Elvie, was born the following April. The marriage was tumultuous – sometimes recriminatory, other times affectionate. In late 1884, Fan, perhaps overwhelmed by the trauma of childbirth, contemplated suicide. Her note – “Farewell to all who now on me attend / The faithful servant and the weeping friend” – was discovered by John Will, much to his regret: “My Dear wife very cross so much that she would not speak at all.” A few years later, however, Fan inserted this verse in the diary’s irst entry: “When you open this book / May you open your heart / And think of me kindly / All through the New Year.” As time went on, John Will kept faith that the diary would be of lasting value even as the entries took on elegiac tones. He wrote the following testimony on New Year’s Eve 1889: And if this bee the end of my last year here I think I can say I feel I shall enjoy a better place with my Savior. And hope that these few lines will be a blessing to homever may read them to remember my counsel and prepare to meet me in heaven. May the Lord here



[hear] and bless and save whoever may see these few lines while I am here and when I am gone I hope that they may be read by many for good. To know that on the last evening of 1889 I set alone in my kitchen before I retired with desires such as these. The phrase – “I set alone” – suggests disappointments and injured feelings. Certainly, the severities of the workplace took a toll, but so too had he been frustrated in his desire to create a happy home. And indeed, by the 1890s, anxieties welled up within the family: What would happen to the farm and mills if there were to be no sons to form a workforce? What would be Elvie’s prospects as she came of age? Fan became especially worried, a concern that played a part in her decision to take the family into the Anglican Communion, where there were several families with eligible young men. In later years, St Mary’s, the local parish, became known as “Fan’s Church.” John Will’s mill businesses eventually did falter, and in 1907 he and Fan sold all of their property, except the house, to Fan’s wealthy brother Solomon Ramey. In 1909, Elvie, twenty-ive at the time, married fortytwo-year-old Edwin Eikle, a lumberman and merchant from the village of Petite Riviere. By then John Will’s health had begun to fail, and his marriage had become more acrimonious. Edwin and Elvie provided some respite by moving into the Crouse household; in 1912, their son Harold was born. On 16 April 1913 John Will made his last entry: “Wednesday was rainey day so that I was home all day, stayed in shop.” As he failed slowly over the next year, Elvie and little Harold kept him company. John Will Crouse died on 20 May 1914, ive days before his seventieth birthday. John Will’s passing brought forth new voices to tell the story of the village and its people. The First World War economy and the mechanization and electriication of the milling industry shifted wealth within the village towards the larger Crouse families living on the eastern side of the Petite River. Melody Himmelman’s 1977 oral history captured the surge of the post-war economy of the 1920s as well as the despair of  the Depression that followed. Roy Crouse remembered “a pretty big  crew” in the boom times, while in the thirties, “you couldn’t sell anything” and if you did, “you didn’t get no money, you just got … groceries.” Throughout the interwar decades, newcomers – the war bride Kathleen O’Leary Ramey and the vaudeville team of Jack and Lillian Duncan – infused humour and energy into local gatherings that now featured jazz bands, liquor, and new attitudes towards sexuality.


Testimonies and Secrets

At the same time, emigration depleted the Maritimes, scattering individuals and families throughout North America. Crousetown’s former residents valued the opportunities of their new homes, but they still visited their ancestral village – dubbed “North Sawdust” by one wag. The Eikle family endeavoured to maintain their social standing under increasingly dificult circumstances. Edwin Eikle’s business records showed the family’s construction irm prospering in the 1920s, but sliding downhill thereafter; both ofice and warehouse burned to the ground in 1936. Within the household, Fan Crouse ruled by the force of her personality and by her control of John Will’s modest legacy. Still, the family found a public voice in the numerous social activities of Elvie Eikle, who became the Crousetown columnist for newspapers in nearby Bridgewater and in Halifax. She also kept up a lively correspondence with many relatives and friends who had left the village. Retailing gossip gave Elvie and the family a distinctive voice and place in the community. Writing as “The Owl,” Elvie reported, “The Crousetown Sheik is getting to be quite a lion with the fair sex – the numerous telephone calls keep him quite busy.” The Sheik was of course Elvie’s son Harold, and through his voice the family story continued to be recorded. Harold was devoted to the preservation of the past, writing newspaper and private accounts about Eikle family history, memorials to friends and relatives of the passing generation, and letters to friends back home when he no longer lived in Crousetown. Like his grandfather, John Will Crouse, Harold believed that his relections had inherent worth and should be shared with others. For him, as for John Will, this conidence came at great cost. From childhood on, Harold did not “it in.” A small and delicate child, he was often the victim of pranks played by village boys: Coming out to play in his white sailor-suit, he would be invited to have a seat – on some tar-covered boards. Increasingly, “Nana” Fan and mother Elvie kept him at home, where he read children’s books and practised the piano under the tutelage of well-known teacher Josie (Sperry) Hubley. Harold pursued his education beyond the village school, attending Lunenburg Academy and Provincial Normal College in Truro. He went on to become a well-regarded teacher in Crousetown and neighbouring villages. Widely admired for his exceptional musical skills, Harold performed frequently at church services and social events in the local area. Following Fan’s death in 1943, Harold and Elvie often left Edwin Eikle at home, and went out socially as a couple. They were the life of



the party, but they spent beyond their means. Elvie had her hair done every week, a great indulgence by village standards, while Harold’s debts and use of alcohol increased substantially. The family became less a purveyor and more an object of gossip. Harold’s most pressing frustration, however, was the disparity between community mores and his desire for intimate relations with other men. Among his papers, a 1938 letter to a friend, either unsent or returned, hinted carefully at his interests: “There are a few things I would like to tell someone, and around this vicinity there is no one I think so much of as you … I shall be looking for you on Friday, so do come if at all it.” Letters from friends reciprocated with equal caution: “I certainly miss the good times … and we may be able to have them again … and I mean just that too.” Elvie died in 1960, and Harold’s carousing intensiied. After parties in the house, he would bang out the hymn “How Great Thou Art,” on the parlour organ – a connection to his grandfather John Will’s Methodism and to the inner torments they both experienced. In 1962 Harold was pushed into a disastrous marriage by family and friends. “Time is leeing dear boy, it’s later than you think,” wrote one wellmeaning correspondent. The marriage lasted six weeks. Soon thereafter, Harold’s drinking and despair led him to attempt suicide. He was committed to Mount Hope, the Nova Scotia Hospital in Dartmouth, and ired from his teaching post. After losing title to the house, he left Crousetown for Veteran, Alberta, to pursue a last-chance teaching opportunity. Harold would remain “from away” for the rest of his life. The alcoholic episodes did not end, but he regained enough control to teach in a Hutterite colony and give music lessons to local children. After hours, he recreated the happier parts of himself, playing piano and socializing at the Veteran hotel bar. He remembered his early life in columns for the local newspaper, and he wrote Crousetown friends that they would love to meet his “rough and ready” cowboy friends. In these venues, as in the letters that he left behind in the old house, Harold continued to bear witness to his conlicted self. Painfully aware of his laws and feeling the condemnation of others, Harold clung to the faith that his life was yet worthy of redemption. He believed that his gifts of music, writing, and bonhomie would expiate what shame he felt and make him a credit to the ancestors he idealized and acceptable to the God of “How Great Thou Art.” Harold Eikle died on 12 February 1977 at the age of sixty-four; his funeral was well attended. The John Will Crouse family line had come to an end.


Testimonies and Secrets

The Crouse / Eikle saga, however, does not end with Harold’s passing. Why this is so depends on another story. It begins with a question: How was it that I happened upon the John Will Crouse diary and other treasures that document the history of the family and community? In 1964, when Harold lost possession of the house and departed for Alberta, he left almost everything behind, including the diary and family papers. A few years earlier, the Rev. Dr Robert D. Crouse, who had grown up in Crousetown, moved back into his family’s house on the other side of the Petite River. Robert was at the beginning of his distinguished career as a theologian, writer, and professor of classics at the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University in Halifax. The Crouse / Eikle house itself remained unoccupied, but in the summer of 1967, Tamara Hareven, a colleague of Robert Crouse’s at Dalhousie, brought her PhD adviser, Robert Bremner, and his wife Kay to Crousetown. They met Robert and enjoyed one of his legendary meals. In the event, Robert suggested that the Bremner family might like to buy the old house, and they did. Robert Bremner, a distinguished scholar of American history at the Ohio State University, published widely in the ield of social welfare history. I was one of many students who beneited from his wisdom and kindness. Over the years, the Mennel family visited Crousetown, and in 1990, Bob and Kay graciously deeded half-ownership of the house to my wife Susan and me. Since then the two families have shared expenses and upkeep. During these decades, the diary and family papers lay in attic and storeroom trunks where the silverish feasted upon them. Members of the extended Crouse family knew about and occasionally quoted from the diary for the local press. But not until 1998 did I discover the entirety of the collection and begin working on what one scholar has called “truly one of those inds of which every historian dreams.” My account of the Crouse / Eikle story has been informed by many ields of contemporary scholarship – religion, politics, economic power and mobility, gender, sexuality, cultural change, and intellectual history, among others. Studies within these areas, as well as larger syntheses, are often set upon a broad canvas of historical change that began when Europe’s expansion met the cultures of the Americas. These histories are noted as they bear upon the story. Primary sources – local and family histories, wills, genealogies, land titles, institutional records – provide further contextual understanding. These works and documents connect the lives of John Will, Fan, Elvie, and Harold to larger forces. They can be identiied as economic



actors, cultural consumers, members of families and social and religious organizations – in all roles, fully enmeshed in layers of historical change. Such categories become viviied, however, because John Will and his family make themselves known as persons through their own writings. They bring their worlds to life through testimonies that are by turns humorous, angry, relective, and courageous, but always imbued with an awareness of and sense of obligation towards their friends and neighbours, who left no record of their own. In recent years, scholarly study of documents such as those left by  the Crouse / Eikle family has coalesced around the ield of “life writing.” In effect, this inquiry has sought to bridge the gap between histories of “ordinary” people who seldom left written records and traditional histories of elites whose words and deeds have been thoroughly studied. A concerted effort has been made to demarcate the relevant types of documents – diaries, journals, family histories, and autobiographies. Felicity A. Nussbaum, focusing on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British writers, deines a diary as “the daily recording of thoughts, feelings, and activities of the writer, entered frequently and regularly.” A journal is characterized by a “more discursive” narrative structure, although the two forms can be used “interchangeably” depending on the nature of the individual document. Nussbaum argues that these forms should be afirmed as “representations of reality rather than failed versions of something more coherent and uniied.” The value of these representations, she suggests, lies precisely in their incoherence and lack of unity, in self-contradictions that challenge rationalist ideologies predicated on the uniied self.3 Autobiography, by contrast, might be thought of as a genre of lifewriting “more coherent and uniied” than diaries or journals, even though autobiographies themselves do not always depict the rational self idealized by Enlightenment philosophers. James Olney’s history of the subject spans two millennia, beginning with Augustine’s Confessions (400 C.E.) – where, indeed, it must begin, since the Confessions are the irst autobiography in Western letters. His analysis follows a path from Augustine towards modernity, casting up igures self-indulgent, as with Rousseau, and then despairing, as with Samuel Beckett. Nonetheless, Olney concludes on an optimistic note that “there will be new forms, as yet unimagined and unimaginable, for the life-writing enterprise.”4 For this work, Augustine requires particular consideration, because his life and ideas found echoes in John Will Crouse’s diary and in the letters and other papers of the Crouse / Eikle family. Like them a person


Testimonies and Secrets

of faith, Augustine suffered turmoil from life’s vicissitudes and inner conlicts; he thus distrusted the suficiency of rational systems. For Augustine, “the clarity and coherence of formal logic was deceptive,” writes historian Donald J. Wilcox, “whereas the complexity of personal experience represented true reality.”5 Deeply aware of the limitations of consciousness, Augustine explored unconscious depths of the mind beyond the control of intellect or will. His own experience led him, in the Confessions, to analyse the self caught up in a confusing swirl of conlicting ideas about the meaning of time, memory, embodiment, and language. In afirming the complex reality of the self, Augustine confronted the reigning Graeco-Roman philosophies veriied by the endlessly cyclical and hierarchical cosmos. William J. Bouwsma, analysing the persistence of Stoic philosophy over 1000 years, writes, “The perfection of that order meant that whatever is, is right, however uncomfortable or tragic for mankind … that familiar cosmic optimism which signiies, for the actual experience of men, the deepest pessimism.” This premise was challenged, Bouwsma argues, by the resurgence of Augustinian texts in Renaissance humanism: “The result was to free both man and society from their old bondage to cosmic principles, and to open up a secular vision of human existence and a wide range of accommodations to the exigencies of life.”6 Augustine’s inluence endures to the present, sometimes invisible, sometimes drawing special attention. The Second World War and the Cold War challenged belief in human progress and goodness, and for some scholars led to a renewed interest in Augustine. Erich Auerbach, trapped in Turkey during the war, composed his masterpiece, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. He argued that writers through the centuries, including Proust, Joyce, and Virginia Woolf, had as their common source biblical and Augustinian texts, which “annihilated” the ancient class systems and hierarchies, making heroes out of the despised and humble, and treating ordinary everyday life as a subject for serious literature. Writing later in the twentieth century, Jacques Derrida noted that “these original, heterogeneous elements of Judaism and Christianity were never completely eradicated by Western metaphysics. They perdure through the centuries, threatening and unsettling the assured ‘identities’ of Western philosophy … The surreptitious deconstruction of the Greek Logos is at work from the very origin of our Western culture.”7 Auerbach illustrates Derrida’s observation of the



Greek / Hebrew dichotomies as they played out in literature. Unlike Homeric heroes, “who wake every day as if it was the irst day of their lives,” Hebraic igures and their modern literary descendants are represented as enmeshed in history, “fraught with background,” complex, and “multilayered.”8 Late-twentieth-century analyses of antiquity may seem a long way around to introduce this book, but they form the intellectual bedrock for what follows. The striking afinities of the scholars cited above suggest a “theme” rather than a “thesis” – namely, that the clarity and categories of ancient, medieval, and Enlightenment philosophies fall apart when confronted by the reality of the incarnate self. The Crouse / Eikle family has offered its members’ varied lives to us – ordinary people, entangled in history, sometimes triumphant, often conlicted, and, on occasion, rejected and even despised. Eventually they, like all of us,  were worn down by the challenges of everyday life, the hungers and desires of their own bodies and the limitations imposed by age. However, they pondered and wrote about the enigmas of their existence – the matters that lay at the very heart of their lives and the larger culture of which they were a part. John Will Crouse never thought of his diary as an autobiography, but it was a confession and, like Augustine’s, graphic in revealing human brokenness in a world becoming intolerable. When young John Will and his cohort caroused in the mill villages of Queens County, they became brothers with Augustine and his gang stealing pears from a garden 1500 years earlier: “Our real pleasure was simply in doing something that was not allowed.”9 And when John Will took heart in the value of his daily entries, he echoed one of Augustine’s letters: “I am the sort of man who writes because he makes progress and who makes progress – by writing.”10 Further, both drew insight and strength from scripture: John Will’s “concerns” or spiritual quests were informed by the Reformation’s return to Augustine and its democratizing demand for universal access to the Bible. But the text had borne itself well through centuries of translation and interpretation from Augustine, writing in the early ifth century, to the meeting houses and villages of 1870s Nova Scotia. Augustinian and biblical themes arced directly over the millennia, a live current that animated the lives of the Crouse / Eikle family. Harold Eikle’s letters and writings, resting midway between churchcentred community culture and twentieth-century modernity, share the


Testimonies and Secrets

courageous quality of his grandfather’s testimony – confessing fear and remorse, yet hoping to be worthy of love and understanding. His mother Elvie knew that she should not be spending money that she did not have, but she did so anyway, defying her shame by proclaiming her status even as it faded away. Fan alone, though emotional as a young woman, built stony walls around herself. Even so, the piety and anger of her later days made their own statements, displaying frustrations and emotional wounds that she took to the grave. John Will Crouse and his family lived ancient themes in a world becoming modern. Their stories exemplify Augustine’s premise that the most real thing in the universe is a single person, complex, historically based and unique. It has been a challenge, but above all an honour, to have had the opportunity to tell their story.11 In the writing, I have been fortunate to ind friends to help me. The people of Crousetown, who knew or heard stories about the family, have offered their memories with care and understanding. These are my neighbours and, I hope, my friends. So they know, of course, that I always want to hear more stories. In a village where people have known each other all of their lives, more memories are always a conversation away. Old photographs and letters emerge from other attics, and stories within stories are recalled. I hear about them on my every visit to Crousetown.12 There will always be more stories to tell, as there will always be secrets that we, like Fan Crouse, will keep to ourselves. We enter into the Crouse / Eikle story from our own worlds just as John Will Crouse came into his own time “fraught with background” from other pasts, amidst other stories. As in music and drama, voice is primary and so this book begins with a prelude, recounting John Will’s own family history. The irst movement, in four chapters, belongs to John Will, his family, and his village. After he departs, there is an interlude featuring a community chorus, often singing in different keys. In the last section, the Eikles and their friends and acquaintances take centre stage. A postlude set in Crousetown, 2007, encourages readers to consider the story whole. Throughout, voices are either integrated into the narrative or presented in small blocs as the material suggests. John Will’s diary and the letters and papers of his family constitute a story intended “to be read by many for good.” John Will Crouse was a hospitable man. In his own time, all were welcome at his door. Today, he and his friends and descendants once again await visitors.



The Family of John Will Crouse (1844–1914) His Ancestors In 1753, Johann Jacob and Maria Krauss left their village on the west side of the Rhine to join the British-sponsored migration of “Foreign Protestants” that was settled in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Forty years later their son, Leonard Anthony, left Lunenburg and took up a farm on the Petite River ten miles to the southwest. Leonard Anthony’s sons helped him to develop farms and mills, and the place became known as Crousetown. Leonard Anthony’s eldest son, Leonard Crouse Jr, married twice, and had eleven children; his eldest son, William Leonard, was the father of John Will Crouse. His Parents William Leonard Crouse (1808–63) Elizabeth (Falt) Crouse (1821–1903) His Siblings George Crouse? (1842–50) Charlotte Crouse? (1844–52) Ammiel “Am” Crouse (1853–1944) Edward Crouse (1856–1928) Elkanah “Ken” Crouse (1859–1946) Janetta (Crouse) Hall (1861–1956) His Family 1883: Married Frances Ann “Fan” Ramey (1867–1943) Daughter Elvira Regina “Elvie” Crouse (1884–1960) 1909: Elvie married Edwin Eikle (1868–1952) Elvie and Edwin’s son and John Will’s grandson was Harold Clairmont Eikle (1912–77)


Lunenburg and “Crouse town Mills,” 1753–1844

John Will Crouse was forty-ive years old in 1889 when he wrote in his diary, “May the Lord hear and bless and save whoever may see these few lines.” He had lived in Crousetown, Nova Scotia, all of his life, as had his ancestors since 1797. Their lives inluenced his, and for that reason alone form part of this story. Historians worry about the problem of “origins” – where does one start without losing readers in the long ago. In this instance, a good place to begin is with Winthrop P. Bell’s The “Foreign Protestants” and the Settlement of Nova Scotia (1961). A vital supplement is J. Christopher Young’s edition of Bell’s Register (2003), Winthrop Bell’s research on individual families. Johann Jacob and Maria Clara Krauss are of particular interest: They were the greatgreat grandparents of John Will Crouse: Krauss, Johann Jacob Pearl 1752. Farmer: Age 25, from Palatinate. Indebted for 2½ freights l.189 plus cash l. 23. Total l. 212. Wrote a rough but competent signature. (Ship’s list had “Krause”) Halifax, Victuals List, Aug.–Oct. 1752 – Johann Jacob and Maria Clara Kraus " " Feb.–April 1753 Lunenburg – Return of Arms, Dec. 1753 – Jacob Kraus – Rudolf’s Div. Return of Divisions, July 1754 – Jacob Krause – Rudolf’s Div., B-12, with a “house” & “garden” 30 Acre Farm Lots, 1753–4 Allotment List – John Jacob Krauss – First Peninsula, B-17 Live Stock Distribution, 1754 – 1 cow, 1 sheep

Lunenburg and “Crouse town Mills,” 1735–1844 15 Baptism, 25 April 1754 – Jeanne Eliz., of Jn. Jacob & Maria Clara Krauss Victuals List, June 1755 " " Feb. May 1756 Baptism, 3 April 1757 – John, of John Jacob & Maria Clara Cross Vict. List Jan.–May 1757 Cattle Expedition, 1756 – Jacob Krauss (name horizontal) Baptism, 2 July 1758 – Leonard Anthony, of John Jacob and Maria Clara Krauss1

On 22 August 1752, the Pearl, carrying Johann and Maria and other Foreign Protestants, disembarked at the raw, new British port of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The crossing from Rotterdam had been dreadful, with a mortality rate of 15.5 per cent, and it was particularly tragic for the young couple. As the register shows, the Krausses were indebted for passages – “2 and ½ freights” – and a cash advance. The ½ freight indicates that they had brought a child over the age of four. There is, however, no genealogical evidence that the couple had any children until after their arrival. The register is confusing in that their name is spelled in four ways – Krauss, Krause, Kraus, and Cross – but it is still likely that the child died and was buried at sea. The Pearl’s arrival signalled the end of the British campaign to bring “Foreign Protestants” to Nova Scotia. The policy had taken shape in the 1740s as part of the Crown’s effort to counter the preponderant inluence of France, and its Acadian and Mi’kmaw allies, in the lands north and west of the New England and middle colonies. For over a century, France, with the aid of Aboriginal allies, had held the upper hand in the fur trade in Canada generally and in the land they called Acadia. Enduring place names of Nova Scotia’s southwest coast – La Have, Petite Riviere, Port Mouton, Lake Minamkeak – testify to both French and Mi’kmaw presences, but also suggest that the two cultures found ways of getting along. These accommodations in turn help to explain the rising prosperity of a unique Acadian society in the decades before 1750.2 Most of this growth, which included some Mi’kmaw–Acadian intermarriage, took place in Port Royal (Annapolis Royal), Île Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island), and Île Royale (Cape Breton). Indeed, French entrepreneurs, who had founded a small settlement at LeHeve (La Have), moved their habitants to Port Royal in 1636 in the interest of  building up the fur trade of the interior.3 Over the course of the seventeenth century, European-borne diseases decimated Mi’kmaw


Testimonies and Secrets

settlements, although the tribal population, still numbering 2000 in 1700, remained a potent ally for both French military outposts and Acadian communities.4 The British position remained weak well into the eighteenth century, principally because the Maritimes, as the empire’s newest provinces in North America, were not attractive to prospective migrants. The colonies to the south, particularly Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey with their rich soil, bustling commerce, and moderate climate, had long been more appealing. Here, the germinating force of British imperialism, originating in southeast England and radiating “out into the distant corners of the globe,” was clearly evident.5 In this context, Nova Scotia appeared, and in fact was, bleak and dangerous. British presence, represented by the isolated military garrison at Annapolis Royal, compared poorly with the prosperous Acadian communities around the Bay of Fundy. There were other reasons for Nova Scotia’s limited appeal. Crown policy itself had discouraged migration because the Royal Navy wanted the great trees of the northern forests set aside for masts and spars. Also, Massachusetts authorities did not welcome the prospect of additional competition in the isheries. In 1750, over 140 years after the beginning of English colonization in North America, Great Britain’s Nova Scotia had but few settlers and thereby invited mockery of the homeland’s imperial pretensions. By this time, the British knew that larger geo-political considerations – principally, the prospect of a renewed war for empire with France – required a reinvigorated colonization policy. Because the province was, from the Crown’s perspective, devoid of commerce as well as dangerous, a hybrid form of governance was conceived. The responsibility for promoting immigration fell to the Board of Trade, but the Crown decided that the imminence of war required that Nova Scotia be governed initially by military authority. In July 1749, the occupying force, commanded by Colonel Edward Cornwallis and comprising 2500 English Protestant settlers, sailed into the harbour at Chebucto – soon renamed Halifax to honour the irst lord commissioner of the Board of Trade.6 To ind additional settlers, the board hired an agent – John Dick, a Scots merchant with connections on the Continent. The Crown stipulated that emigrants must be Protestants, which led Dick to recruit among German-speaking Lutherans and Calvinists in the Palatinate and Huguenots (French Protestants) from other parts of the Rhineland. The Palatinate, renowned for its hostility towards Catholicism and the

Lunenburg and “Crouse town Mills,” 1735–1844 17

French monarchy, had long been used by the British as a reservoir of immigrants who served in effect as shock troops for the expansion of imperial power. In 1709 the British had sent 7000 Palatinate Germans to Pennsylvania to dilute Quaker dominance; 4000 were also settled in Ulster to build up the Protestant interest there. For their part, the people of the Palatinate welcomed the opportunity to escape the armies of Austria, France, and Spain, which had plundered their land and conscripted their young men. Terrence Punch notes an additional factor that encouraged this particular migration: “Water transportation was cheaper and faster than walking, [and] the Palatinate’s location straddling the Rhine made transatlantic emigration less expensive and onerous than from [other] locations.”7 The irst contingent of Foreign Protestants, mostly Palatinate Germans, arrived in Halifax on 13 September 1750, with the ship Ann disembarking 322 passengers. Conditions during the passage had been terrible, and grew worse over the winter. Contrary to expectations, no housing existed, and there were few usable tools. The agent John Dick had been paid by the head and thus he was indifferent to the make-up of the migrant parties, sending many elderly settlers who died in the bitter cold of the irst winter. Most of the Germans were redemptioners, that is, indebted to the Crown for the costs of passage, and thus required to obey military authorities who put them to work building fortiications to hold off the angry Mi’kmaw, whose lands had been occupied. Oficials added to this turmoil by expelling forty of the Ann’s passengers from Halifax after they were discovered to be Roman Catholics.8 In the early 1750s, British forces had little success in securing the lands around Halifax, and therefore immigrants were unable to takeup farms or build homes. At the close of the 1752 sailing season, 2230 Foreign Protestants had disembarked, but most remained conined to garrison while the French army still occupied Île Saint-Jean and Île Royale. In this chaotic environment, the Board of Trade abandoned its initial plan to settle the Germans among the Acadians and ended or, to use Bell’s word, “arrested” Foreign Protestant recruitment in the Palatinate.9 Behind this incompetence lay British fear of its own immigrant population, “drawn from many parts of Europe.” The Palatinate settlers may have been Protestants, but they were also German, French, and Swiss. Could their disgruntlement lead them to dispute Crown authority, perhaps even inding common cause with the Acadians? Tellingly, at the same time that the British were asking German immigrants to risk their lives in Nova Scotia, a bill in the House of Parliament enabling the


Testimonies and Secrets

naturalization and settlement of Foreign Protestants in England was abandoned after a popular outcry. The British fear was overblown, but the hard winters in Halifax had deeply frustrated the immigrants. Some families redeemed their debts, and left Nova Scotia for established German settlements in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.10 Johann and Maria Krauss had joined the Foreign Protestant migration in its last phase, leaving their home in the Palatinate village of Dackenheim in the spring of 1752. They were fortunate to arrive just as Crown-sponsored colonization was ending.11 As latecomers, they were not required to build fortiications around Halifax. Their debts, however, had to be satisied if they were to receive “enough land for a viable farm, basic farm implements and materials to build a house.”12 A change in British policy gave the young couple their opportunity. The Crown’s new plan was to transport the Foreign Protestants to Merliguesche, renamed Lunenburg after the town of Leuenburg in the Electorate of Hanover. Lunenburg lay 65 miles south of Halifax near the mouth of the La Have River. In the spring of 1753, a lotilla guarded by British soldiers and American Rangers disembarked 1400 immigrants, the Krausses among them, in Lunenburg harbour.13 To get a sense of Johann Jacob and Maria’s lives during their irst years in Lunenburg, Bell’s Register is once again useful. Three baptisms – Jeanne Elizabeth in 1754, John in 1755, and Leonard Anthony in 1758 – hint at the fecundity of the population. Several entries attest to Johann’s military service, and there are three notations that the family was on the “Vict.” or victuals list. The two categories were related since Johann was required by contractual duties to serve in the militia and build fortiications – pickets, “sharpened at the points and securely fastened to the ground” – to repel attacks by the Mi’kmaw. The soldiers and their families had to be fed, but their service initially slowed the pace of home construction and farming. The Krauss’s irst grants included a 30-acre “farm lot” on nearby First Peninsula, a “live stock distribution” (1 cow, 1 sheep), and, subsequently, a “town lot.” Overall, the policy satisied both parties. The British molliied the Foreign Protestants by moving them out of Halifax, while Crown military strategy gained by settling them where they could serve as a shield against the Mi’kmaw. The immigrants also proited because, once their contract had been worked off, militia service provided income that helped them transform their grants into homes and farms.14 The brief notation, “Cattle Expedition, 1756” is haunting evidence of the shared purposes and attitudes of British authorities and the Foreign

Lunenburg and “Crouse town Mills,” 1735–1844 19

Protestant community. The entry, appearing out of sequence with “name horizontal” following Jacob’s name, suggests the hurried, even chaotic nature of the undertaking. In August 1755, the British Army and its American allies burned the Acadian settlements around the Bay of Fundy and elsewhere. Many of les habitants were forcibly transported to Louisiana, the West Indies and France among other places. Their farms were turned over to new immigrants, most from the American colonies. In the spring of 1756, a contingent of Foreign Protestants crossed the peninsula to round up Acadian livestock roaming about the decimated Fundy settlements. Few cattle had survived the winter and even fewer made the trek back to Lunenburg. This episode faded from communal memory unlike settler warfare with the Mi’kmaw which henceforth became an integral part of local lore and early historical writing about Lunenburg.15 Beginning in the 1760s, the Krauss family prospered, in good part due to its steadily increasing size. Genealogical data is extensive and varies somewhat from source to source.16 Bell’s Register, one of the more conservative, shows that between 1754 and 1770 Maria Clara bore ten  children, six girls and four boys, with Jeanne Elizabeth and the boys arriving irst. Coming of age in the 1770s, they helped their parents turn the grants into a productive farm that by 1784 totalled 360  acres. Signiicantly, as Johann’s will (1792) shows, this wealth passed down to all the children because Johann and Maria followed German legal tradition (Heiratsgutes), under which sons and daughters shared equally in the inheritance. Thus, each descendant was bequeathed a place in the local economic order.17 Further, the Krausses joined the Lutheran community; the names of Johann and son Leonard Anthony appear in the records of Zion Lutheran Church. The dominance and productivity of the settlement’s German-born settlers was unmistakeable. In 1760 Lunenburg enumerated 1464 persons – 350 men and 1114 women and children of both sexes. In 1767 the tally was 1468 persons. Among this population, there was a slight majority of men (340) over women (294), perhaps owing to childbirth mortality; the number of boys and girls was identical, 416. Also, “one Negro man” and “one Negro woman” were enumerated. All but four Lunenburg residents were Protestants and all but 41 identiied themselves as “Germans and other foreigners.” Their farms, planted in the soil of the La Have estuary, were unusually rich by Nova Scotia standards; a 1762 report noted over 6000 acres under cultivation. A report for the year 1766 noted seventy births and only ive deaths.18


Testimonies and Secrets

Lunenburg’s prosperous and stable population was unique in the atmosphere of speculation that characterized the town’s surrounding lands. Once the Mi’kmaw threat subsided, there was some outmigration towards what would become the inland communities of Maitland and New Germany. The 1762 census also showed the beginnings of settlement west of Lunenburg, where New Dublin Township on the La Have River reported a population of 250. The dominant igure here was Colonel Joseph Pernette, a Strasbourg-born British soldier, who in 1764 received a Crown land grant of 22,400 acres that he hoped would attract settlers. Pernette and his descendants committed their own resources, building homes and even a road from Lunenburg to the river. It was slow going. Poor Irish immigrants and settlers from the American colonies came and went, while Pernette himself had to leave during the Revolution when envious neighbours threatened to invite American privateers ashore.19 A similar situation obtained in Petite Riviere, the largest settlement in New Dublin Township. Located at the mouth of a small river with the same name as the port, it would become the commercial outlet for the upriver mill villages of Crousetown and Conquerall Mills.20 Settlement in Petite Riviere or “Petite,” as it was and is commonly called, was dominated by two groups – “planters” from the American colonies, a number of whom were land speculators, and Protestant Scots-Irish settlers from Ulster. In 1770, Scottish, Scots-Irish, and American families accounted for 126 of the 154 residents of the village. Ranked by size of land grants, three of the ive leading families were American. However, only the Park family from Ulster remained into the nineteenth century and, indeed, to this day. By the time of the census of 1792, several German families, notably those of Joseph Falt and Henry Vogler, had established themselves. However, many of Petite’s prime lots remained with descendants of the Park families.21 The problems of early development are relected in the modest rate of population growth and the characteristics of property ownership. In 1792, Lunenburg County’s population was 3247, with 2213 in Lunenburg itself; Dublin Township had 443, an increase of only 193 since 1762. The Crown Land Grant Map, assembled in 1942, provides some information on the lands in the area that would become Crousetown. This data is combined with the earliest-known map, George Wightman’s survey of circa 1825, and with land records to show the early stages of European settlement in what was irst called Crouse town Mills.22 An American land syndicate headed by Henry Ferguson held much Crousetown

Lunenburg and “Crouse town Mills,” 1735–1844 21

Gottlieb Crouse (1839)

Crouse town Mills (1825) David Dunlap (1783) Leonard A. Crouse (1797)





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Testimonies and Secrets

land. The core lots making it up, demarcated as nos. 10 and 11, were rectangular, with the narrow side for river frontage; they extended four miles into the rugged and heavily timbered back country. The initial buyers of the Ferguson land – Henry Vogler, William Johnston, George Manthorne, the brothers Anthony and Christian Rhuland, and Paul Bryzelius – were speculators themselves. Vogler lived in Petite, but his holdings there had been limited. In 1777 he purchased 600 acres, later demarcated Lot no. 11, which would become a key part of Crousetown. The Rhulands and Bryzelius purchased 500 acres, known as Lot no. 10, for 20 pounds. In 1783 the Rhulands made a handsome proit by selling their two-thirds share of Lot 10 (375 acres) to David Dunlap for 57 pounds. Dunlap was different from the Rhulands and others. He intended to settle.23 Over the next decade and a half, Dunlap built a farmhouse and cleared land. He also undertook an astonishing project: he dug a canal alongside the Petite River, ten feet deep and a tenth of a mile in length, that powered a saw and grist mill. The still-visible remains of the excavation testify to the prodigious scope of the labour. Why was it undertaken? A reasonable guess would be that the canal diverted, and therefore made more manageable, the waters of the Petite that, in lood times, would have swept away any rudimentary mill constructed on the river itself.24 For the same reason, other early mills along the Petite were often located on tributary brooks rather than on the main river. Dunlap’s mills served his farm and others by sawing timber or grinding meal for local construction and domestic uses. After 1800, the export timber market centred in Petite Village developed out of small ventures such as Dunlap’s. After the Revolutionary War, the quality of life in the communities within the La Have and Petite estuaries improved signiicantly. In 1795, Reverend James Munro, a Presbyterian missionary from the Church of Scotland, portrayed Petite as a prosperous yet still rough community: They of Petit la riviere, or small river … live chiely by farming, having good farms and in good cultivation. The inhabitants of this small settlement are Irish, in general … Oats grow in this town ship, and the barley still better. They have excellent potatoes and good English hay upon the cultivated ields. Cabbage grows well here, much better than to the westward … They send them to Halifax and sell them by the dozen … They also send to the same market, veal, lambs, butter, cheese, and poultry … Their ish are salmon, gaspereaus,25 eels, cod, mackerel, and dog-ish. The eels are taken in great plenty on the lats …

Lunenburg and “Crouse town Mills,” 1735–1844 23 The inhabitants, especially of Petit la riviere, have got good dwellinghouses, and those of them that are industrious and saving, live comfortably. They have got no glebe, no place of worship, no minister of any religious persuasion, unless they go to Lunenburg. Nor have they school lot or burying-ground public; some of them bury in their own land, and when any of them are interred in the neighboring burying-ground their survivors pay a small sum for it. When this is the case, they must be in pitiable condition, in different respects, as their children and themselves must be very ignorant. The number of families in this township is eightyfour – at ive in the family, will be 420 souls. They may be divided into the Lutheran and Presbyterian persuasions.26

Munro’s remarks show that Petite’s sea-borne commerce with Halifax paid off very well. Like the American Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars stimulated entrepreneurial ventures in villages and ports throughout Nova Scotia. Munro’s condescension towards the “very ignorant” and “pitiable” people of the settlement was unjustiied. Schooling did go on in the homes of the settlers, numbers of whom were literate. As early as 1801, there is mention of a school in a land deed, and by 1821 thirty-four pupils were attending, including “four Krouses.” Munro did note that settlers could sail to Lunenburg to attend church. However, their enthusiasm for such an arduous journey may have been dampened by their Scots-Irish heritage. Most were uncomfortable with the Germanlanguage services in the Lutheran or Dutch Reformed (Calvinist) churches. Nor did they feel much warmth towards the Anglicans, whose discriminations were one reason for their decision to leave the British Isles. By 1815, these barriers and other factors led Petite families, including those living in what would become Crousetown, to establish a Methodist meeting house that would become the main centre of village worship in the nineteenth century.27 The prosperous port village portrayed by Munro evidently did not encompass David Dunlap’s upriver farm. Dragged down by the high price that he had paid for the property and unable to proit suficiently from the incredible efforts he had made to improve the land, Dunlap declared bankruptcy in 1797 and left the area. He was not alone. Most American speculators, including Henry Ferguson, had escheated – failed to ind settlers as their grants required. American loyalists who had been lured by the promise of land in southwest Nova Scotia migrated again. Some returned to the United States, others moved west to


Testimonies and Secrets

New Brunswick and Upper Canada (today southern Ontario). A contingent of black loyalists migrated to Sierra Leone. The continuation of unsettled relations between England and the new American nation precluded trade treaties and thus discouraged capital investment throughout the Maritimes.28 Nonetheless, when the Dunlap land went up for sale at Sheriff’s auction, promptly as was the custom, there was a buyer. He was Leonard Anthony Crouse, second-born son of Johann Jacob and Maria Krauss.29 Leonard Anthony’s life mirrored changes in Lunenburg County that were the result of the growth of the Foreign Protestant and Scots-Irish populations. As a young man, he helped on his father’s farm and worked as a “cordwainer” or shoemaker. In 1781 he married Maria Gearhardt in Zion Lutheran Church in Lunenburg and bought land on nearby First Peninsula. The couple eventually had ten children, eight sons and two daughters. Leonard Anthony’s father, the pioneer Johann, had died in 1793, and by 1797 the son was looking for opportunities outside of the immediate Lunenburg area.30 Leonard secured the means for his move in several ways. He sold his Lunenburg holdings for 38 pounds to his older brother John and, by agreeing to raise his father Johann’s “grand Son Gotlieb, Son of my daughter Judith” he either received title or proceeds from 30 acres of the family’s land on First Peninsula. Leonard Anthony also found a partner, millwright Cyrus Martin. They jointly purchased the Dunlap property – described as 375 acres or three-quarters of Lot 10 “with a saw mill, grist mill, barn, dwelling house and other improvements thereon” – for 117 pounds and 10 shillings. Even taking into account Dunlap’s improvements, the price was a healthy one, suggesting that there were other bidders who saw that there was money to be made along the Petite.31 Leonard Anthony’s prospects were encouraged by developments unfolding well beyond Lunenburg County. The French Revolution and the ensuing Napoleonic wars stimulated economic growth within Nova Scotia and elsewhere in British North America. Imperial policy sought to isolate Catholic Quebec and, to that end, Colonel John Simcoe, irst lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, encouraged in-migration of disaffected “late loyalists” from the United States. In this environment, the “indelible dualism” between English and French Canada began to assume its modern form.32 Crown decisions laid out postal and trade routes on an east-west axis from Halifax to the St. Lawrence valley, thus dampening schemes promoting union between the Maritimes and the

Lunenburg and “Crouse town Mills,” 1735–1844


United States. The War of 1812 solidiied the determination of Canadians to chart their own path, especially in Upper Canada where US forces inlicted substantial damage and loss of life. In the Maritimes, privateers attacked American shipping, and Halifax entrepreneurs prospered by supporting British military operations in the North American interior.33 Because of Halifax’s key location, Leonard Anthony and other Crousetown settlers gained the opportunity to proit by providing the  port and its export markets with foodstuffs and lumber. In 1800, three years after Leonard Anthony and Maria had bought the farm, the core labour was provided by Leonard Jr, 18, Philip, 16, Jacob, 15, and Gottlieb, 9; Catherine, 7, and Hannah, 6, helped their mother build up the domestic economy. Leonard Anthony soon expanded his holdings along the Petite. In 1801 he bought 200 acres or ⅓ of Lot 11, which included 24 rods (132 yards) of river frontage, from Christopher Vogler, Sr. Three years later, he purchased 200 acres from Frederick Vogler, and in 1812, he and his son, Leonard Jr, acquired another 200-acre parcel, also from Frederick Vogler. These three purchases, like the Dunlap land, extended inland from the Petite River for 320 chains or four miles.34 Massive and still visible stone walls, running uphill from the river, testify to the back-breaking toil undertaken to prepare the land for the crops and orchards upon which the family’s survival depended. In this world, arduous labour was the lot of all, save infants and the elderly. Work was deined roughly by gender, with men toiling on the farms and in the mills and women creating the domestic order. Even this distinction sometimes gave way before cultural traditions and the demands of the day. A recent study observed “that German women in Lunenburg County were more likely to be seen working in the ields than were their English counterparts.” Other records show that women throughout Canada worked “hard in the ield” while also superintending the “dairy and domestic departments.” Charlotte Arenburg of La Have spoke of her work: “I helped shingle this house, and they said I did it as good as the carpenters … I carried so much hay on hay-poles that I started something but I never was much sick. I can cut and saw wood like a man.”35 The labours of the Crouse family and others began to deine Crousetown as a place. The settlement took shape upriver from the Dunlap farm on the properties that Leonard Anthony had purchased from the Voglers. The new holdings enabled the family to put more land into cultivation and to increase efforts to harness the power of the Petite for


Testimonies and Secrets

milling. At the new location, the river broke sharply to the left, then deepened and narrowed before sweeping on towards the village of Petite Riviere. At some time in the 1810s, Leonard Anthony and his sons built a dam, a saw mill, and a grist mill on the western bank. As part of this development, the Crouses and other families constructed plank houses on the hillside overlooking the mills. The Crouse town Mills map shows the dam and ive or six houses or mill buildings. Three of the houses belonged to Leonard Anthony’s sons, Leonard Jr, Gottlieb, and Philip. The Methodist meeting house near Petite is also shown; Gottlieb’s subsequent (1839) purchase of land on the eastern bank has been added.36 In 1812, at the age of ifty-four, Leonard Anthony began transferring his property to the next generation in order to ensure continuity of effort in the development of the lands and mills. In 1817 he bought out Cyrus Martin by paying him 30 pounds for “the old mill lot,” with Martin “reserving to myself, heirs and assigns a way to and along the riverside” – the original road between Crousetown and Petite village.37 In a series of transactions from 1812 to 1822, Leonard Anthony sold land and buildings at a pittance to Leonard Jr, Gottlieb, Philip, and sonin-law Matthew Morreau.38 Leonard Anthony died in 1823. By then it had become clear that the success of the family’s labours required not just further development of the farms and mills, but clearing the river itself – the settlement’s main artery to the port of Petite. The removal of obstructions would allow logs to loat down to the harbour, where ships took them on to Halifax and beyond. Barter still predominated in these transactions, although increased reference to hard currency indicates the emergence of a more advanced economy.39 An 1826 petition to the Nova Scotia Assembly from the “Freeholders of Piteet Riviere … Praying that mony may be granted them to clear a passage threw the river” provides a revealing picture of the challenges facing the Crouses and their neighbours: That your Petitioners humbly sheweth since their irst settling of this place, they labored under great disadvantages, in account of the many very steep hills, which their road leads over. Which hills make it dificult for cattle, to hall over there, any burden. That your petitioners further sheweth, that by lumbering and timber, they chiely depend, for the seport [support] of their families. That the number of families have greatly increased and must still increase.

Lunenburg and “Crouse town Mills,” 1735–1844


And unless the Honourable House of Assembly is pleased to grant them mony … they must ever labour under distressing disadvantages. That your humble Petitioners, further sheweth, that four miles of said river, will be necessary to clear, in which there is four falls, the rocks of which can be removed, that threw the rest of the river, the large stones can be removed, without blasting.

In response to this and a subsequent petition in 1828, the assembly granted partial relief. Five Crouse men, including Leonard Jr and his brothers Gottlieb and Philip, signed at least one of these documents.40 The petitioners’ predicate – “The number of families have greatly increased and must still increase” – is signiicant. German immigration to Canada remained important throughout the nineteenth century, but little of it came to Nova Scotia. Ontario and the western provinces were the preferred destinations.41 Lunenburg County’s population growth occurred primarily because of the high birth rate of families, such as the Crouses, who were descendants of the earlier Foreign Protestant or Scots-Irish migrations. The 1838 census lists 20 Crouse families, with a combined population of 142; all were descended from the pioneers, Johann and Maria Krauss. Eight of these Crouse families still lived in Lunenburg itself, while four, with a population of 32, lived in New Dublin Township, for the most part in or around Crousetown. All heads of Crouse households were listed as “Farmers” – an indication that clearing lands and raising crops for consumption and market still held the highest priority.42 Most of the Crouses’ immediate neighbours had origins similar to theirs. The Bolivar, Dagley, Huey, Joudrey, Kaulback, Nauss, Ramey, and Vogler families all traced their ancestry to the Foreign Protestants who settled Lunenburg. Some of these families had migrated to the Petite area after settling for a generation or two on the interior lands to the north and west of Lunenburg. Early settlers in Petite, and then Crousetown, also included Scots-Irish families such as the Drews, Hiltons, Johnstons, McDonalds, Parks, Porters, Stewarts, and Watsons, and even a Welsh family, the Fancys. There was substantial intermarriage, creating what Malcolm Parks has called “a bewildering tangle for anyone attempting to chronicle their families.”43 Nothing better illustrates this “tangle” in Crousetown than the relationship between the Crouse and Morreau families. Jean Baptiste Morreau (1711–70), a former Roman Catholic priest, was received into the Church of England and appointed a missionary of the Society for


Testimonies and Secrets

the Propagation of the Gospel. In 1749 he arrived in Halifax with his wife and four servants. There, Morreau ministered in three languages to the Crown forces as well as to the German and French immigrants from the Palatinate. His son, Cornwallis Morreau (1749–1841), was the irst child born in Halifax of European parents. Cornwallis settled initially in Chester, then in Lunenburg, where he became a leading igure in the militia. In the early nineteenth century he moved his large family to Petite, where he met Leonard Anthony Crouse and his equally sizable family.44 The Morreaus and the Crouses got along quite well as the Krauss / Crouse genealogy (see appendix 1) demonstrates. Four Morreau daughters and one son married into the Leonard Anthony Crouse family, with all the daughters settling locally. In 1805 Leonard Jr married Catherine Morreau; they had three children, one of whom was John Will’s father, William Leonard Crouse. Following Catherine’s death, Leonard Jr married her sister Susannah and they had eight children. Meanwhile, in 1812, Leonard’s brother Gottlieb married Nancy Morreau. Gottlieb and Nancy had six children, ive daughters and a son, John Simeon, later known as Old Sim. Leonard’s other brother, Philip, married Henrietta Morreau, and Cornwallis’s son, Matthew, married Leonard Anthony’s daughter Catherine. These marriages produced the workforce to organize and beautify the domestic order, to farm the lands, to operate the mills, and to care for the rising generations and the elderly. In later years, Cornwallis lived with his daughter and son-in-law, Nancy and Gottlieb Crouse. Dressed in his militia uniform, he would sit in front of their house overlooking the Petite and smoke a pipe while surveying the bustle of the village taking shape around the mills and dam. His grave was one of the irst in the community cemetery, and the commemoration of his life later became an annual event.45 The families of Leonard Anthony Crouse and Cornwallis Morreau shared a strong commitment to Methodism. Sometime in the 1810s, Leonard Anthony left the Lutheran faith and Cornwallis abandoned Anglicanism. Their decisions had practical aspects: it was onerous and time consuming to sail to Lunenburg for weekly services. Conversely, Methodism’s tradition of itinerant preaching enabled both families to hope that ministers would visit Petite. Also, the disposition of Lutherans to preserve the German language had come to be seen by some as a barrier to success in the world of British-dominated commerce. In Petite, Methodism also served as a convenient cultural meeting ground where German and Scots-Irish families could both worship and socialize. In

Lunenburg and “Crouse town Mills,” 1735–1844


1816–17, the board of trustees for the “Independent Congregation” of Petite Riviere, Cornwallis Morreau and four of the Crouses among them, voted to place itself under the auspices of the Methodist Conference of Nova Scotia.46 There were of course more profound reasons why the Crouses, Morreaus, and others would make such a decision. Throughout North America, Methodism, whose roots lay in Yorkshire and other rural districts in England, won converts by being better suited than the established churches to meet the spiritual and emotional needs of new communities. Preachers, often self-taught, ministered in tents and open ields to all who wanted to hear the Word. Evangelical gatherings acknowledged the suffering of those beset by the trials of life, asking only for a receptive heart. This invitation proved more compelling than either the historic Anglican ritual, which required a literate clergy and audience, or the Lutheran and Dutch Reformed services conducted in  German. The 1838 census for Petite counted 35 households and 232 people as Methodist out of a total population of 281.47 Methodism in Petite and throughout the Maritimes did not arise unopposed. As a dissenting movement within the Church of England, the new faith came into constant conlict with the Anglican establishment. Charles Inglis, irst Anglican bishop of Nova Scotia, preferred to tolerate Presbyterians and Catholics, rather than to accept Baptists and Methodists. In 1795 the Presbyterian missionary James Munro decried “runners that drive through the country, seducing the weak, credulous, and ignorant.” This seems to be a reference to itinerant preachers offering salvation to distressed believers, whose emotional responses alarmed the sedate and comfortably situated. But Munro could well have been referring to enthusiasts who ran ahead of a powerful preacher, proclaiming his approach. These sentinels then rushed into the seats of the established churches before the “regular congregation was housed and seated.”48 This conlict between Methodists and Anglicans might appear as a tempest in a teapot to the modern observer. Most historical accounts stress the far harsher sectarian battles that deined relationships between Irish Protestants and Catholics in New Brunswick and Upper Canada. And it is true that some Nova Scotia Anglicans came to share Methodist hostility towards the British-born Anglican oligarchy in Halifax. However, the disputes of the time were real and lasting. Methodists and other dissenters were contesting the Anglican monopoly of important ofices and educational funds. Further, they confronted the Anglican claim to


Testimonies and Secrets

be the established church of the province, a privilege which included the exclusive right to issue marriage licences. For its part, Anglicanism thrived from its connection with commercial elites, but also because of the beauty and majesty of its ritual, and its special place as the faith of the Crown to which many Nova Scotians felt intensely loyal. Though numbering only twenty-two in the Petite census of 1838, Anglicans dominated many of the inland communities, and by 1861 they accounted for over 35 per cent of the population of Lunenburg County.49 The Nova Scotia Assembly inally passed a disestablishment law in 1851, but by then differences between evangelical churches and Anglicans had become features of daily life, nowhere more so than in Petite and Crousetown.50 The Crouses’ faith would eventually divide between Methodism and Anglicanism, but for most of the nineteenth century the Crouses and Morreaus remained united in marriage, faith, and vocation. They also stayed connected to the larger historical developments that followed the British defeat of Napoleon. Foremost among these was the growth of free trade in England, as the Crown looked to develop its world empire. In this context, granting Canadians a measure of self-governance seemed both prudent and proitable because it shifted the burdens of defence from London to the provinces. Following the defeat in 1837 of separatist rebellions in Quebec and southern Ontario, Lord Durham, governor general of Upper and Lower Canada, issued his famous report that put Canadians on a trajectory towards self-government.51 For the Maritimes, these larger political changes were of less interest than the uncertain operations of the market. Prosperity in good times was welcomed, but there was no governmental cushion in a downturn such as the one that gripped the Atlantic world in the early 1840s. However, the mill village economies of Lunenburg County were both timber-based and agricultural, which enabled them to mitigate the effects of a bad economy. In good times, the mills could produce for export, while farming provided subsistence regardless of conditions. Thus, while there was anxiety in Crousetown, there was security and hope too.52 Leonard Anthony Crouse’s sons, Philip, Gottlieb, and Leonard Jr, and son-in-law Matthew Morreau took a particularly active role in the economic expansion of the 1820s. Philip and Matthew developed and traded land in Petite and Crousetown. Philip and Henrietta’s daughter, Mary Ann, married Christopher Vogler Jr and they built a house overlooking the mills. In 1839 Gottlieb bought from William

Lunenburg and “Crouse town Mills,” 1735–1844


Stern of Liverpool a 200-acre tract on the eastern bank of the Petite River. His new property, part of which had been a Mi’kmaw summer settlement, was made accessible by a bridge built just below the dam. This land became the centre of his family’s milling activities. Gottlieb also replaced his plank cabin on the western bank with a house known today for its subsequent owners, the Rameys. In 1856 Gottlieb, by then an old man, helped his son Sim build a home on the east bank near the family’s new mills.53 Meanwhile, Leonard Crouse Jr and his second wife Susannah (Morreau) improved their farm and mill on the west bank. Their house, perched on the ridgeline, was illed with people of all ages. In  1840 the  “eldest child” was William Leonard Crouse, Leonard’s thirty-two-year-old son from his irst marriage to Catherine (Morreau), while Leonard and Susannah’s youngest child, George, was only eight. Between William Leonard and George there were nine other children, although by this time several of the daughters had married and moved out. In 1841 William Leonard Crouse married eighteen-year-old Elizabeth Falt, who came from an established family in Petite.54 The newly-weds probably lived with Leonard and Susannah, since Leonard would have needed his son’s help around the farm and mill. William and his young wife soon began their own family. Their irst child to survive to adulthood was John William Crouse, who came to be called John Will. He was born on 30 May 1844.

Chapter One

Young Man on the Rise

John Will Crouse was born into a world reverberating with change. Great Britain pushed ahead with free trade policies and, responding to Lord Durham’s report, began the transfer of governmental responsibilities to British North America – Upper and Lower Canada and the Maritimes. The 1840s and 1850s were decades of economic growth – the golden era of wood and sail in maritime commerce, and the early decades of railroad-centred industrialism. Britain’s negotiation of the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States in 1854 stimulated trade through the Civil War years. Maritime timber exporters struggled somewhat because they no longer received Crown subsidies and thus had to compete with the Baltic trade on world markets. However, great wealth was being created even though it was not broadly shared, as evidenced by the proximity of slums and ine neighbourhoods in the port Halifax.1 Independent nationhood took shape under the rubric of “responsible government,” a phrase closely identiied with the political career of Nova Scotia premier Joseph Howe. In 1847, Nova Scotia became the irst of the Maritime Provinces to gain substantive control over its own affairs. Confederation arrived in 1867, perhaps due in part to the looming power of the post–Civil War United States. Lunenburg County was decidedly unenthusiastic, with 63 per cent of voters supporting the “Anti” annexation position. In Petite, 81 per cent voted against Confederation: local sentiment favoured either the continuance of “responsible government” or closer ties with the United States. The new government was viewed as favouring Ontario and the western territories.2 John Will Crouse learned of these events as he was growing up, but more important, he became sensitive to their results – the hope and

Young Man on the Rise


anxiety that animated daily life. Progress and betterment might at times seem near at hand, and then at other times prospects would fade. This ebb and low of fortune seemed to occur regardless of the efforts men and women put forth in the course of their labours. The larger vicissitudes were especially hard to understand when they had to be confronted amidst domestic and personal crises. Though no one could say exactly how the cosmic and the intimate or the international and the local were related, a thoughtful young man could ponder connections between the realms as he came of age in his ancestral village. The Boy and the Neighbourhood John Will Crouse’s childhood was marred by tragedy and loneliness, though there were redemptive inluences as well. For the sorrow, one need look no further than the Crousetown Community Cemetery. The gravestone of John Will’s father, William Leonard Crouse, indicates that the boy had an older brother, George, born in 1842, and also a twin sister, Charlotte. Both died prematurely, the brother from diphtheria in 1850, when John Will was six, and the sister in 1852, when he was eight. The situation may have been even more complicated. Two of the Crouse genealogies put George’s birth in 1844, which would mean either that the three children were triplets or that one or both of John Will’s siblings were the children of other parents.3 Most likely it was the latter, as some record or recollection of triplets would have probably been preserved. Under prevailing circumstances, there was nothing unusual about William Leonard and Elizabeth assuming guardianship of an orphaned or abandoned child. Families, of necessity, served as miniature welfare states. Nonetheless, the loss of any child would have been wrenching, especially for the surviving child, John Will. The boy was close to his “Unkle Jorge [George],” youngest son of his grandparents, Leonard Jr and Susannah. George was twelve when John Will was born. But by the 1850s, when John Will most needed a companion, George was grown and gone at work most of the time. John Will’s loneliness was further deepened when his own family began to grow again. Beginning in 1853 when he was nine, William and Elizabeth presented him with four siblings – Ammiel or Am, Edward, Elkanah or Ken, and baby sister Janetta, who was born in 1861. The deining conditions of John Will’s early life – the death or departure of those closest to him, and the presence of babies needing his mother’s care – etched melancholia into his character that would never go away.


Testimonies and Secrets

Amidst this change and uncertainty, John Will found comfort and  support from several sources. His grandparents, Leonard Jr and Susannah Crouse, with whom he lived, were esteemed members of the community. Leonard’s prowess in business may have helped the boy grasp the importance of providing for one’s own and, in this sense, given him concrete understanding of the term “responsible government.” Through his grandparents and others he also came to value education as a key to achieving competence and livelihood within village society. Beginning in the 1830s, years before compulsory school legislation, there was substantial enthusiasm for co-educational public schooling throughout Nova Scotia. In this environment of expanding literacy, John Will received his education at the common school in Petite. In 1854, Alexander Johnston had given land for a school in Crousetown, so John Will may have studied there for a few years. He took advantage of the opportunity. His father’s estate inventory listed “lots of books,” and he was an avid reader all of his life. His diary and records show skilled penmanship, accuracy in calculation, and acuteness in observation. His spelling was phonetic to a signiicant degree and his grammar was rough, as was common at the time.4 John Will’s diary never mentions his father – an indication perhaps that William Leonard was not someone that the boy would want to emulate. William was apparently not well regarded in the village. A bit of local doggerel went: “Singlety, singlety BOOM! / William Leonard and Tom!” Tom was a local recluse named Tom Ramey, who helped William operate the Crouses’ ramshackle single saw mill, whose distinctive sound – singlety, singlety BOOM – could be heard throughout the village. William Leonard also entered into apparently fruitless land and milling ventures, giving mortgages to Jacob Sperry and Abraham Hebb in order to secure inancing. William’s impulsiveness could have led to recklessness on the boy’s part, but it seems to have had the opposite effect, encouraging dutifulness towards those who depended upon him.5 William’s haphazard dealings may have resulted in tense exchanges with his father Leonard Crouse Jr. In 1846 Leonard gave his son a partial inheritance of land, but in 1851 the balance went to William’s much younger brother George – “Uncle Jorge” to John Will. Leonard also sold land and mill rights to Michael Fancy in 1859, something he probably would not have done if he had had conidence in William’s business abilities. Leonard Jr died in 1860, and William succumbed three years later at the age of ifty-ive. He left his wife Elizabeth, nineteen-year-old

Young Man on the Rise


John Will, and four children under the age of ten. John Will assumed the responsibility of caring for the family.6 The extent of the young man’s exertions is suggested by his signature after his diary entry for 9 July 1873. He closed that day by identifying himself as “John W Crouse Salter’s Falls Mill Village and who has run L.H. Burnaby’s mills for numbers of yers.” Of course, John Will was and always had been a resident of Crousetown, but when he began fulltime work in the late 1850s he also made annual sojourns to the Burnaby mills on the Medway River in Queens County. At the same time, he also became an active participant in Crousetown development, the focus of which was further mill construction near the dam and bridge crossing the Petite. Sometime in the 1860s, John Will built an unusual mill which came to be known as the “Yanky” – so-named, according to local lore, for its American-made machinery. Sited in the middle of the dam, it was braced by the other mills on the eastern and western shore. By its very presence, the Yanky showed the importance of squeezing every advantage from the location in order to capture whatever power the dam could provide. Partially shown on the right border of an 1890s photograph of the west bank mills, it was reached by a “rolling bridge” of logs seen in the foreground. The Yanky mill had several fractional owners during its ifty-year life, but John Will was the majority owner for much of the time.7 With income from the Burnaby and Yanky mills, John Will had begun to prosper by the time of William’s death in 1863. Fortunately so, because his father’s will put conditions upon his inheritance, further indications of stressful family relationships: [that] he my said son shall out of or with the property above bequeathed to him pay all my just debts … and if my son … shall refuse, neglect or in any wise fail to pay my debts … I hereby authorize my executors … to sell at Public Auction the whole of the property bequeathed … or as much of it as may be required to pay my debts.

The William Leonard Crouse estate included three land parcels, mill interest, and goods; it totalled 202 pounds, half of which went to his wife Elizabeth free and clear. Five days before writing his will William paid off one of his “just debts,” but the money may have come from his younger brother George or his son John Will.8 Through the 1860s, John Will laboured to provide for his mother and younger siblings and to establish himself as head of the household. In


Testimonies and Secrets

Mills, including “Yanky Mill,” ca. 1890s (Nellie Snyder)

1863, John Will’s “Unkle Jorge” Crouse married Sophia Fancy, and they had ive daughters. In 1869, John Will purchased George’s interest in the family’s mill and farm. Soon thereafter, the George Crouse family moved to Mill Village, where George found work as a carpenter. John Will frequently visited their home when he was working at the Burnaby mill, and he remained close to George and one of his daughters, Georgie, throughout their lives. During the 1860s, the village neighbourhood changed. New and longsettled families brought forth the personalities who would shape community life for the rest of the century. John Will’s uncle and neighbour, Gottlieb Crouse, had died in 1859, and his widow Nancy and her daughters sold their west-bank homestead and grist mill to Solomon Ramey of Conquerall Bank.9 Nancy spent her last years with her son Sim, whose home and thriving mill business stood on the east bank. Newcomer Solomon Ramey had married the widowed Lucy (Slauenwhite) Fancy in 1857, and to her three children from the earlier marriage were soon added ive others. Among them were: Solomon Jr., who became a legend in the British Columbia timber industry; Ben, who became a close friend of John Will; and baby sister Frances Ann, or Fan, whom John Will married in 1883. As population increased, Crousetown continued to emerge as a deinable place. By 1821 the allocation of trustees for the Petite school recognized Crousetown as a distinct place, and, as noted, “Crouse town Mills” appeared on the Crown Grant / Wightman’s map (ca. 1825).

Young Man on the Rise


Early deeds identiied Crousetown properties as located in the “Township of New Dublin,” while the census of 1838 connected it to the northern border of Petite. Hutchinson’s Nova Scotia Directory for 1864–5 listed three entries for the village, but lumped them into the Petite census. By 1866–7, however, Crousetown was enumerated separately. On 21 February 1872, John Will referred to “this so-called Crousetown,” perhaps because there still were no churches or stores. But by then there was an identiiable community and he was at the centre of it.10 The Diary Begins: Crousetown, December 1871–April 1872 You walked down the road and it took the imprint of your footsteps. The ield that bordered the road was all yours to the depths of the earth. It was friends with the road. Your family ield knew you thoroughly. They accepted you so thoroughly that when you were in them you need give no thought to how you looked or hew yourself to any dictate of another’s gaze. Your dialogues with the ield chimed below the surface of your mind like the tune of health. Ernest Buckler, Ox Bells and Firelies: A Memoir, 86

Buckler’s quietly conident farmer would have recognized this early entry of the twenty-eight-year-old diarist John Will Crouse: “I arose with good helth as usual … I got my breakfast and went out of doors. It was a very ine morning. Just as clear as a bell and as warm as milk and came [calm] as a clock” (21 / 2 / 1872). The irst pages of John Will’s journal reveal a young man well prepared to address the tasks at hand, and eager to extend his inluence in the community. To do so, he knew that he needed to earn money and learn additional skills, which he was already doing at L.H. Burnaby’s mill in Salter’s Falls, Queens County. The diary begins in Crousetown in December 1871: Crouse Town, Dec 27th 1871 Wednesday Morning I arose with good helth and when I went out of doors the weather was some what warm. I went to the barn and fed the cattle then came in the house to get my breakfast to go in the woods to start login but after I got my breakfast and went out doors it commenced to rain. I then gave up the notion of going there. I started and went over to Mr. Vogler’s and bargned for the mill then came home again and when I got in the shop Mr. Kalback and Mr. Ramey was there and Mr. Kalback wanted me to ix his peavey.


Testimonies and Secrets

I then went to work and made a screw bolt and 2 rings for his peavy which 2 rings and hook and clasp which amounted to $1.10.11 Then I seen to the cattle and got my supper. After supper Mother and I went up to Mr. Sperry’s and spent our evening and then came home. Then went to bed. This ended my day’s work. Amidst all of John Will’s activities, the phrase “bargned for the mill” catches the eye. Mill ownership, like relationships between families, and land subdivisions and sales, was a notoriously tangled proposition: one mill could be divided into, say, thirty-two units of ownership with each being marketable. John Will already owned a mill, the “Yanky,” and thus, his prospective transaction with “Mr. Vogler” and others meant that he had amassed enough capital to buy the mill built in the 1810s by his great-grandfather, Leonard Anthony Crouse. In 1859, John Will’s grandfather, Leonard Jr, had sold this mill to Michael Fancy. A decade later, Fancy sold it to the Vogler and Huey families. John Will revealed his plan in a series of entries. On 30 December 1871, “I … got ready and went up to William Vogler’s to see if he would sell his share of the mill but did not get no desided answer.” Three days later, he “bargned with John and Bill Vogler … to get a deed of her,” and on 4 January 1872, he “started and went down to the Shore and to get the deed of the Old Mill. John Vogler and William Vogler and Edward Huey … gave me a deed of the old mill together. I got it, wrote the deed, sined it all but their women to sine it.” On the following day, the transaction was completed: L W Drew wrote Lady’s deed but I did not take it then. Came home again then went up to Mr. Huey and paid him $40 dollars for his share of the old mill, then came home again got my supper. Then … went to John Vogler’s and paid him $18 dollars for his shear of the old mill. Then went to William Vogler’s and paid him $18 dollars his share of the old mill … L W Drew came up and got Sarah Vogler & Lizabeth Vogler & Ann Huey to sine the deed. These entries show John Will fully involved in the local economy. The Drews were a prominent Petite family with a successful retail and shipping business. Lemuel Walter Drew served as justice of the peace, and in that capacity performed civil duties including the drafting and authentication of land transactions.12 The “Lady’s deed,” a feature of all property sales, required that the justice of the peace examine the wife

Young Man on the Rise


“separate and apart from her husband.”13 If appropriate, the wife was then to acknowledge “that she freely, voluntarily and without compulsion from her said husband signed sealed and duly executed” the deed. These documents sometimes showed marks rather than signatures. Frequently, women made their mark while men signed, although the expansion of public education would erase this distinction by the end of the century.14 John Will completed this transaction on 24 February 1872. He then made a forty-mile round trip to the county ofices: “Jacob Kaulback and Peter Kaulback and I started and walked in Lunenburg town. I got my deeds recorded. Bought some books then started and came home … I was tired.” The mill that John Will Crouse had purchased was a water-powered “up and down” mill, like most of Nova Scotia’s 1100 mills then in use. In operation, each log entering the mill was rolled onto a carriage that  was driven by levers and a ratchet gear into a stationary frameencased saw which cut on the down stroke – singlety, singlety, BOOM!15 Production was steady, though output was modest. On 2 February 1872 John Will sawed 500 feet of spruce boards and scantling or smaller upright framing pieces. This was somewhat less than an average output of 1000 feet / day, but not bad considering other demands on his time: I went in the shoop and nailed 4 shooes on Leslie’s oxen then went in the barn and fed the cattle … then Elkanah and I went down to the mill and saw all day. During the day the saw run in the dog [a clamp holding the log as it was being sawed] and took about ¼ of inch write out of the middle. And John [Fancy] and Amm went over to Mary’s and hawled 17 logs in the Riviere then came home and that ended their days work. John made ax handle in the evening. (2 / 2 / 72)

Small mill owners faced such obstacles every day – damage to mill machinery, the necessity of leaving the mill to “hawl in,” or complete of farm chores. To “saw all day” was almost impossible and even with the modest output, John Will needed substantial assistance. He found that support within his own family and in his extended family. His younger brothers Ken, Am, and Edward helped out frequently, while John [Fancy], the brother of his Aunt Sophia and thus also John Will’s uncle, was his full-time assistant. “Mary’s” was land belonging to Mary Fancy, Sophia and John Fancy’s sister-in-law. Evidently, Mary had sold timbering rights to John Will.16


Testimonies and Secrets

John Will’s entrepreneurial energy found outlets beyond his mill and blacksmith shop. He was an accomplished clock smith and, even more important, a capable land surveyor. On 27 March, John Will “ixed Mrs. Porter’s clock” and a few days later “went up to James Hilton’s and ixed his clock.” The following entries show him conducting a survey that involved both physical challenges and neighbourhood conlict: In the evening I went up to Sperrys and got the campis [compass] to go back and run a line between Mr. Vogler and me … I started and went back to Harmon’s Clear and I took the line between Mr. Vogler and I run back the other side of Harmon’s March. Then started came down brook to Harmon’s Mill and had quite a talk with Martin Harmon and Joseph Harmon. Then we started and came home and went in to Mr. Sperry’s and gave them their campis. (28 / 1 / 72, 29 / 1 / 72)

In February he ran a line between the Vogler and Huey properties, “back to the barins [barrens] this side of Umph’s [Humph’s] Hill. Pretty tired. The walking was very bad … I charged them one dollar for my day’s work.”17 Contrary to the neat appearance of lot lines on the Crown grant maps, the actual division between holdings was extremely hard to determine. The back country was hilly and rough, while land abutting the river was hard to survey due to the twisting course of the Petite itself. So, when John Will recorded that he had “quite a talk” with the Harmon brothers, he was signalling a spirited, perhaps even angry, debate more than a quiet conversation. The Harmons were part of a new wave of settlers who had begun moving into the village in the 1830s. Often they purchased pieces of land from the original lots, but there was still only an approximate knowledge of the shape or extent of these holdings, which were often demarcated in deeds by “a pile of rocks” or “a tree with an X on it.” The repetitive use that John Will made of speciic place names – “Harmon’s Clear,” “Harmon’s March,” “Humph’s Hill” – tied topography to ownership, hence making more durable reference points for local purposes as well as for the Lunenburg County deeds registry. For each landholder, a precise understanding of access to the river, the main artery of commerce, was vital. John Will’s historical understanding encompassed his own holdings as well as those of his relatives and neighbours, thus making him an ideal arbiter of a contentious subject. His exercise of this role showed that he was becoming known as a judicious igure within the community.18

Young Man on the Rise


When work was done, John Will took pleasure in the company of his neighbours. On 28 March 1872, he wrote that after supper “mother and I went up to Mr. Huey’s and ingoyed [enjoyed] ourselves irst rate.” Conversation was no doubt leavened with droll observations such as the following on the commonplace subject of the weather. On 6 March, after several days of clearing snow on the public road, John Will commented drily, “I hope we will not haft to shovle any more this winter for we had to shovle 3 days already this winter and I think that is suicent.” On the following day, “it got so cold that I could not stand it. We came home and stayed in the house all day for it stormed and drifted so much that it was not it to be out at all.” The diary reveals a self-possessed young man who was not ashamed to express his feelings. In late December 1871, John Will “played awhile with the dog” and one evening “got supper then read some histry, eat some apples, read chapter in the Bible and then went to bed.” On 27  March 1872, he copied a poem: “A soldier of the legion lay dying in  Algiers / there was lack of woman’s nursing / there was dearth of women’s tears. But a comrade stood beside him while his life blood ebbed away …” The passage exempliies the overwrought Romantic verse of the era, but it also shows the diarist as sensitive to the male environments of war and suffering, where steadfast character gained kindness and understanding from comrades. John Will sought to realize this ideal throughout his life. In the 1870s, the challenges facing John Will Crouse were daunting. He needed to manage both of his mills and his farm, while also making a plan to grow. Through increased revenue or shrewd trading, he had to amass additional capital that he could then plough back into his businesses. At the Yanky mill, he made money sawing his own timber, but also by keeping the mill in good shape for other users and fractional owners. On 8 February he noted, “Josh Watson paid me for ixing the mill, $3.20 for himself and paid $1.60 for Jacob Crouse.” Several weeks later, John Will spotted another opportunity to save money by selling his oxen to Elias Nauss because “hay is very scarce and dear.” While squeezing proit from the Yanky and the farm, John Will decided to demolish the low-output up-and-down mill that he had just purchased from the Voglers and Hueys. His plan was to convert it to a gang mill like the one he operated at Salter’s Falls. Gang mills used multiple saws in the frame, resulting in much higher output. Gangs also drove circular saws which produced shingles, staves, and other rough-inished wood products.19 John Will had to make this change


Testimonies and Secrets

because the old mill had become not only unproductive, but dilapidated – in a “pretty bad state … The storm yesterday the snow and rain drifted in and I had quite a little job to clean her out” (5 / 2 / 72). For the time being, John Will left the old mill intact to produce what it could. Then, with the help of his brothers, his nephew Sim Crouse, and others he began to build piers for a log boom so that timber driven down the Petite could be held and sorted out before being milled. The work was brutal: Crousetown, February 14, 1872 Wednesday morning … the wind was east and before night it snow and hailed and rained. It was pretty ugly this afternoon. First in the morning Kalback and John [Fancy] and I went over on his land and cut 28 logs for peers [piers] and Amm and Herbet hawled the logs out and had them all out … in the afternoon Simeon and I went to work and opened the ish gate and the mill gates to dreen [drain] the water off to build Peers. Then we went to work and made a raft to carry balace [ballast] to build peers. Monday morning I got my breakfast and went down to the mill to build Peers but the water was frozen so we could not work. So we came home and I went in the shoop … then got our dinners and went to work at our Peers … and got along very well. There was one about half built on the shoor and we broke about two inches of ice and put it to the place we wanted it then came ashore and commenced another one and built two teers of logs on it and then came home. That inished our days work. (19 / 2 / 72) Wednesday morning … Amm and John went down to the mill building Peers. They didn’t get them quite done … Simeon Crouse and John Vogler and Watsons and William Ritcey and little Sim Crouse [there] in the afternoon. (21 / 2 / 72) John Will’s rough calculations on the cost of his new mill ill several pages of the diary. He was daunted by the challenge: “I was drawing a draft of my saw mill but it takes so much timber that it almost frightens me. It takes something like 18,370 feet of timber board measured” (8 / 3 / 72). The scope and magnitude of the investment posed a further challenge: John Will would have to confront customary lumbering practices

Young Man on the Rise


if he was going to make money. He outlined the problem in the following entry, which described the mill complex as it then existed, and also revealed the conlicting perspectives of different users, all of whom depended upon the Petite River for their livelihood: Crouse Town Feb. 21st 1872 In [Crouse Town] there is a bridge crossing the river right to the north of a grist mill owned by Simeon Crouse right above the said bridge. Within the bounds of about 300 feet stand 3 saw mills. The upper mill so called the old mill formally [formerly] owned by the said Christopher Vogler & William Sperry & Edward Huey & John Vogler & William Vogler. In frunt of the said mill she holds a lumber yard about 12 rods [66 yards] in lenght [length] and about 2 rods in weth [width]. Also the said mill holds a boom Privelage running up the river about 15 rods in lenght and 3 rods in weth. This boom privelage lays along the western side of the mill dam and on the east side of the main road leading through Crouse Town. When the said parties owned the land they had it in closed [enclosed] and after a while the said boom parted and ocasionly Mathew Watson hawled logs out of the said boom on the main road and drawed them to his mill [Watson owned a share of the Yanky]. This winter I bought the said mill from the said parties, her wrights [rights] and privelages, lumber yard and water corces [courses] and water privelages and I put a new boom around the said boom privelage. And now the said Watson wants me to let him put his logs in my boom and hawl them out on the main street and I don’t feel disposed to do it. The Watsons had helped build the boom and were part-owners of the Yanky. However, Matthew Watson did not want to pay storage at the repaired boom, and John Will here served notice that he intended to charge Watson and others for “boom privelage” and, by implication, any other services provided on site. John Will did not record how he and Matthew Watson settled this particular dispute. Clearly, however, he was going to need a combination of entrepreneurial and diplomatic skills to operate successfully at this crucial location. More conlicts were sure to come in which water courses, ish gates, slab piles, and other land and water-use issues would be contested. In the meantime, John Will Crouse needed money to build his mill. And that meant that he had to leave Crousetown for a


Testimonies and Secrets

while: “I went in the shoop and packed my tools in my chist to go to Salter’s Falls” (31 / 3 / 72). The Journeyman: Salter’s Falls, 1872–1873 Work, woven with weather, was the very grain of existence. Time was packed with it, atom against atom, with hardly a chink between … Some days it was all wealth, all anodyne. Others, it emblooded you and bled you almost equally. Buckler, Ox Bells and Firelies, 89–90

Salter’s Falls, twelve miles southwest of Crousetown, lay on the Medway River near the Queens County settlements of Charleston and Mill Village. The economy of the Medway and the nearby Mersey River owed its prosperity to the depth of the rivers’ penetration into the forests and to their termination at the deep-water harbours of Port Medway and Liverpool. In the nineteenth century, the watershed of the Medway was extensive, reaching well into Lunenburg County to encompass Lake Minamkeak.20 The richness of Queens County timber stands came at a price: forest ires were a constant threat. The lumber magnate Edward D. Davison got his start in Mill Village. After failing in efforts to promote a South Shore railroad and then getting burned out, he built a substantial mill on the La Have River in Bridgewater. Davison & Sons eventually predominated throughout the region, but in the 1870s the company conined operations to Bridgewater and the lands of the upper La Have valley, which, though open and fertile, still had substantial timber. Nonetheless, Queens County accounted for the largest number of highproducing mills in Nova Scotia. So, there was money to be made in the densely forested Medway and Mersey estuaries for those willing to accept the risks.21 John Will was employed by Lodowick Harding “Lad” Burnaby, a merchant from the Mersey River village of Milton. The Burnaby family had several businesses in the Liverpool / Port Medway area, foremost of which was their gang mill at Salter’s Falls. The Medway River above the mill widened out, thus providing an extensive boom to contain logs awaiting milling; an impressive lattice of canals surrounded the mill complex. By 1872, Lad Burnaby was planning to build another gang mill further up the Medway at Greenield Falls near the Ponhook Lake dam which controlled the water low to all of the mills along the river.

Young Man on the Rise


At about this time, gold was discovered near Ponhook Lake and the Molega mines were established. The mines required signiicant lumber for use as pit props, and hence became convenient customers for the mills. The mines also disrupted the environment, threatening the hunting and ishing economies of the Mi’kmaw. This economic and cultural clash was sharpened by the Burnaby family’s subsequent ventures into another emerging industry – tourism. Lad’s sister, Susan, married Henry Garner Freeman and the couple established the Maple Leaf Hotel and Sporting Club in Greenield, which became a well-known resort for sportsmen from England, the United States, and Halifax.22 As one of Lad Burnaby’s key employees, John Will’s assignment was to make the Salter’s operation productive. The challenge was to supply boards to build the Greenield mill, while continuing to send lumber to Port Medway for sale or export. His opportunity was twofold: to earn good money and to continue his education on mill construction in order to build his own mill in Crousetown. His most intense work periods were two eight-month stays in 1872 and 1873, the last years that he was fully employed by Burnaby, who had to reduce operations after the 1873 depression. John Will worked twomonth stints annually from 1874 to 1877, with ten-day sojourns thrown in here and there. During these years, John Will’s name as it appeared on land titles identiied him as a millwright. This vocation combined the skills of a shipwright (knowledge of the characteristics of wood and heavy timbers for nautical uses), wheelwright (construction of mill wheels), and engineer / carpenter (mechanical and mathematical ability to mesh component parts with specialized tools).23 As with his career as a clock smith and land surveyor, John Will’s education as a millwright was mostly on the job. He was aided, however, by two manuals that had been widely disseminated throughout the North American timberlands: David Craik’s Practical American Millwright (1870) and Charles Kingsley’s The Self-Instructor for Surveying (1870).24 Craik was the authoritative source on all aspects of mill construction. Kingsley, we learn from John Will’s well-worn copy, covered every aspect of surveying “except the difference in [timber] quality, and that can only be learned by practice and experience.” Kingsley also included rules for inding tonnage of vessels, and tables to calculate interest on loans and to compute wages. John Will’s diary entries during the spring and summer of 1872 focus on two sets of challenges that had to be met if the mill was to be kept running. The irst involved internal operations:


Testimonies and Secrets

Salter’s Falls April 10, 1872 Wednesday Morning … I went down to the mill and iled the Circular saw, then came in the house and got my breakfast. Then went to the mill again and iled 12 saws, then ixed the agintable [edging table] rollers. Then got my dinner and went down to Charleston and got a Sleg [sledge] made. Came home and put a handle in it. The water was pretty high and still raising. We sawed 2000 feet of Pine boards and Plank, then got my Supper and went to the mill and hung saws for the morow with one 4 inch Plank. That was all I done today. [Friday] … We sawed all day and pretty well sawed about 16½ thousands of bords. I ixed my gummer and gummed some saws and some iled ahead in the afternoon. I had a little sleep about one hour and half then went to the mill and two saws. I came to the house and got my supper then went to the mill and got my saws out of the gate and put sharp ones in ready to inish the next morning. (26 / 4 / 72) [Saturday] I got my breakfast and went to the mill and iled 15 saws till half Past nine o’clock then I hung nine sharp saws for the spruce was so hard that they would only run 4 hours. However, we inished the spruce that was in the pond. And they opened the boom to run logs and then they let pine in the pond. I hung 14 saws again and commenced at the Pine logs. Then I came to the house and had a nap. (29 / 6 / 72) “That was all I done today”! These entries give a sense of the rugged pace of production in a gang mill, and convey something of the breadth of the millwright’s responsibilities. For John Will, the central task was to maintain output which required that he ile the gang saws almost constantly. The saws in a gang mill could not be iled in place because they were set too close together. Hence, two sets of saws were needed at all times – one to work and one to be iled to replace the working saw when it dulled.25 In this era, before machines took over the job, saws were hand-iled and the iler – John Will – had to be both skilful and eficient to stay ahead of the log carriage feeding the gang. The demands of this “disassembly line” were relentless, as on 10 April, when 2000 feet, twice the daily production of an up-and-down mill, were sawed in a brief period. Further pressure to sharpen quickly came from

Young Man on the Rise


the lumber itself, because hardwoods dulled the saws much faster than pine and other softwoods. John Will’s reward for “keeping up” and for exercising his other talents as a millwright was substantial: he earned $2.50 a day, more than twice the rate for a mill worker. It might seem odd that in the midst of these workday challenges John Will found time to take a nap. However, the milling itself, once started without malfunction, went forward monotonously. Indeed, there are stories of mill workers napping on logs being drawn along the carriage towards the saw, and awakening when the breeze of the blade got close.26 Such a relaxed attitude was possible only in the slow-moving up-and-down mills. John Will took naps in the bunkhouse when he could. More often, he kept going until he dropped: “I got my supper and went right to bed with pants and shoes on just as I was to work all day” (21 / 8 / 72). As he met the demands of production, John Will simultaneously faced a second challenge – keeping the mill safe from external threats, which were manifold: Saturday morning … it commenced to rain and continued till 4 o’clock. However Robert Burnaby & Lemuel Sperry & Stephen Vogler & Lewis Sperry & John Hartle & I myself went to work and built a bridge along the road above Salter’s house in order that people could pass and repass for the water was over the road about three feet. It was so high that I was afraid to take the wheel out for the water was almost to the mill loor. After it stopped raining Lem & Steve & I went down to Charleston and a look round. The mills was all going but the big gang. Then came home and got our supper. Then I planned to put the stop waters down by the gratins [gratings] if I was spared to Monday. (13 / 4 / 72) Tuesday morning I went to the mill and hung saws and iled the circular saw. We started the gang and to our grate surprise she would hardly go through a log. The logs and bark got against the gratings and stopped the water. We shut down and went to work to stop the hole that was in the loom [lume] but it was a pretty hard job. However we got our logs acrost but did not get it done today. (14 / 5 / 72)

Wednesday … Lewis Sperry & Stephen Vogler and I went down to the mill to acamplish [accomplish] the dam that we had been to


Testimonies and Secrets

work at. We inished it about noon and got it pretty tight. Then we thought to get the logs clear the gratins but could not. Then we started the gang about two o’clock and sawed the logs as we got them clear the gratins but did not get them all. (15 / 4 / 72) [Monday] We sawed all day. The gang went very well for the water she had for it is pretty low, though we expect more soon. Thomas Burnaby is a going to start his drive to morow and Lad [Burnaby] says that the lakes is full. (8 / 7 / 72) Here John Will directed repairs and performed dangerous tasks such as plugging the dam and clearing logs from the gratings or intake where a worker could easily be crushed by the slightest shift in the pile. To keep the waterwheel functional, John Will constantly monitored the river – deciding if it was safe to keep the wheel in at high water or, calling for water from Ponhook reservoir when the river dropped, as it often did in mid-summer. Looming over everything was the danger of ire – a fearful spectre that could not be stayed whenever dry spells occurred. Stories recalling the great Miramichi ire of 1825 in New Brunswick and the 1865 Queens County ire that had burned out the Davisons were well known. The 1873 season began in an especially menacing way: Salters Falls May 6, 1873 Tuesday morning it was ine with the wind west but did not blow hard. We started and sawed till ten o’clock. Then we ixed the rod boxes and just as we got done the barn cot ire and burned down. Saved all but about ifty bushels of potatoes then started and sawed till night. Tuesday I arose with good helth and went down to the mill and got ready to start. It was a ine day wind was north and blowed the smoke and ire on the mill [so] that it caught and was so bad on the railroad that the car [probably the log carriage and its track] was very bad to trip. But we shut down and repaired the gang saw till the ire got burnt down, then we started about two o’clock to saw. (20 / 5 / 73)

Monday I was home. Got my breakfast in the old house and then started and came to Salters Falls but the ire was so much all round

Young Man on the Rise


us that we did not start the mill today, and was so dry that I was afread to make ire. It is a very dry time indeed, the ire to milltown [Milton] is pretty bad. The enjins [engines] from town had to come to … save the houses to night and Sabeth that was yesterday it was dreatful [dreadful] down home and all round the smoke was so thick that we could not see a mile. (2 / 6 / 73) Tuesday I arose and went down to the mill and got ready to start. It was dry and the wind north and blowed heavy and the ires still ragin all round. We sawed all day but the water is very low. (6 / 3 / 73)

The mill loor itself was a dangerous and contentious place. “Lewis Sperry hurt his rist yesterday and went home this afternoon,” John Will wrote on 31 May 1872. Six weeks later there was this: “A accident hapned in Milton yesterday. A yong man got his hand sawed off with a circular saw. A boy at Getson’s Cove [La Have] got an agon [auger] run through his body” (8 / 7 / 72). Injured workers had no recourse outside of local charity; there were no public welfare programs to support or compensate victims. Further, each workman made his own bargain with mill owners and served at their pleasure, which meant that employment could be terminated at any time: “Robert Burnaby and Charley Wentzel had some words and he [Burnaby] left and got Joseph Ward to take his [Wentzell’s] place hawling up” (18 / 5 / 72). John Will’s reputation, as a skilled worker with an agreeable personality, opened access to employment for those he vouched for, such as his brother Am, “who came from home yesterday and said they was all smart”27 (15 / 4 / 72). Further, the Burnabys relied upon him to tabulate workers’ hours on special projects undertaken apart from daily operations. He also represented the Burnaby family when local oficials came to inspect the mill dam on 28 August 1873: “Thursday … the river wardon [warden] was here to day and wanted us to put a ish lader in the dam but at last he consented to … lease it this year or season.” Laws regulating the rivers were not derived from ecological study, but rather arose from the demands of ishermen, who had long understood that mill dams interrupted the annual spawning migrations of salmon and other ish. The signiicance of John Will’s talents went beyond his contributions to the daily operations of the Burnabys’ business. He also offered them his skill as a woodcraftsman, which he applied to projects that they required


Testimonies and Secrets

to build or renovate their mills. For this work he received additional compensation. The following document, copied into the diary, shows him fashioning wood parts for the interior of the Burnabys’ new mill in Greenield. The precision of his eye and his ability to mesh the parts are evident even if the details might mystify contemporary readers: Dimensions for Machinery Two round turned rods for a mill saw gate to run on, 12 feet long, 2½ in. diameter with key hole in both ends, also to have a collar on each end of the rods in order to keep them suficiently to their place. One arbor for circular saw, 36 in. long, 1¾ in. diameter. Saw to be fastened on the end of the arbor. Collars for in saw, 7 in. diameter … eight in. long. With boxes complete with pulley 9 in. long, 12 in. diameter. One arbor for crosscut circular saw, 24 in. long, 1½ diameter with the saw to be fastened on the end of the arbor. Collars, 6 in. diameter, with lournds [louvres?] 6 in. long with boxes sutable [suitable] and complete. Also pulley 6 in. diameter & 6 in. long. Also, 14 feet 6 in. of turned shafting, 2 in. diameter. This shaft to have 4 pairs of collars 10 in. diameter in order to fasten drums with one bevel wheel to work at right angles. Also, one shaft 8 feet long, the same size as the other with two pairs of collars the same as the other. Also, a wheel the same as the other in order to work together. This shaften [shafting] is intended to run on boxes therefore we don’t require cast boxes. (26 / 7 / 72)

These carefully copied measurements served John Will’s purposes as a blueprint for the Burnaby mill and, subsequently, as a plan for his own mill in Crousetown. John Will worked hard, but he wasn’t all work. In fact, he was something of a sport. In his “Journal of Money Paid in 1872,” he notes “one concertina bought from William Rhino $2.50.” Elsewhere he records purchases of “two fancy shirts $4.00” (13 / 5 / 72), “two lb. of tobacco $1.20” (30 / 5 / 72), “twelve tumblers, one bottle wisky, two bottles of port wine the best kind, one box of collars $4.75” (4 / 6 / 72), and “one necktie, one pair of braces, one straw hat $1.06” (21 / 6 / 72). He must have cut something of a igure as he headed to town after work. John Will had plenty of opportunities to enjoy himself. During off hours, the nearby towns of Milton, Liverpool, and Port Medway pulsed

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with activity. There were a number of families with eligible daughters, and of course there was an abundance of strong young men, many of whom were unmarried. The following passages, again from the 1872–3 period, chronicle the myriad activities – courtship, sport, entertainment, and visiting – that made John Will’s social life interesting: Salter’s Falls Mill Village June 26, 1872 We got our suppers and went down to Charleston and spent our evening to Mrs. Johnston’s. Me tilday [Matilda] Miss Quin was there and I came home with her. I was down to Charleston and was to Mr. Johnston’s and [he] gave me a drink of bear [?] rum. (17 / 7 / 72) There is to be a grate time down to Portmidway tonight … Seeley’s vissal [vessel] is to be launched tonight. (20 / 7 / 72) I went down to Charleston. Lettie Cole … asked me if I would go down to the village with her and I did. Had a good drive but had to walk home to Salter’s again tonight. (24 / 8 / 72) I was down to Charleston to night and had a drive down the road a ways with Letty Cole. (23 / 6 / 73) Saturday morning I arose with good helth. I got my dinner and Sperry & I started and went to port to see the crget [cricket] game between the Portmidwayers and the Miltoners. The miltoners won the game and that’s all. We had a good time. I & Sperry went down with Mr. Mailman and came home with him again and I shall never forget Mr. Nares [Norris?] went to a head with little … Dick and Mr. Mailman and Mr. Mailman was determined to keep up and when we got home Mailman’s horse was most gone I never saw a horse so warm and never want to again. Nares was not much better. (5 / 7 / 73)

Wednesday we went down to the circus and we had a good time. We saw two circuses before we come home. (23 / 7 / 73) At other times, social life came to the workplace itself. The demands imposed by the mill were intense, but the proximity of local families and the opportunities for conviviality presented a welcome relief from


Testimonies and Secrets

routine for John Will and his friends: Salter’s Falls Mills Village May 31, 1872 Friday morning I arose with good helth and went down to the mill and iled the Circular saw. Then got my breakfast the wind was from the E E E E E Ellen Ellen Burke Ellen B B B East and it rained all day … E E E E Ellen Burke E E E E E E E Ellen Burke Charleston Ellen Burke E Ellen Burke. The ciaxes [kiacks] was very plenty. They caught about one hundred barrels today. (10 / 6 / 72) Journal of Time Salter’s Falls April 23rd 1873 Still sawing deals. We had … Mr. Mailman & wife and Miss Ellen Burke to see the mill. Thursday we did not saw all day I repaired the rod boxes and that took the fornoon. We sawed the afternoon and done well. We had plenty girls to see us today. (24 / 4 / 73) We sawed all day and was pretty cold & I saw Lem Sperry come out of the bed room window this day. (7 / 6 / 73) Thursday we sawed all day … had a good time catching salmon. I lost my casting line and two lies. (19 / 6 / 73) Whether set in the evening hours after work or in the mills themselves, these scenes – daydreaming about Ellen Burke, escorting female companions “down the road,” enjoying circuses, cricket games, ishing, and ship launchings – seem innocent enough. However, even these entries hint at some disquiet. John Will was certainly troubled by the condition of the horses after the race. And what did he think about his friend Lem Sperry sneaking out of that bedroom window? The following passages reveal John Will in a more subdued frame of mind, bemoaning the results of liquor-fuelled celebrations and of drinking on the job: There is grate works in Charleston at present and all the instegation of it is liquer. There is some 4 or 5 places where the curched [cursed] stuff is sold … John Wire & wife had to [go] to jale to day for

Young Man on the Rise


violation of the liquer law [?] and the Constables is on the look out for Calvin Wire [Wile?] for getting light on the Sabeth day and ighten and using Perfane language. But I expect it will go pretty hard with him. It is not settled yet. (26 / 6 / 72) We sawed all day but did not do much … It was a day that I did not aprecate very much for the bottle was handled too free. It was a big spree. (3 / 8 / 72) Excessive drinking and violations of the Sabbath had been issues since the 1830s, and an active temperance movement lourished in the decades that followed. Local chapters of the Sons of Temperance and of the women’s Band of Hope met to recite “The Drunkard’s Grave,” “Rum Did It,” and “Have Courage to Say No.” In Petite Riviere, the Crouse family is not listed among local reformers, but John Will attended temperance meetings and would later participate in efforts to restrict or abolish drinking. Still, his disapproval was tempered by his partiality towards convivial occasions and the tone of his diary tends towards forgiveness of human weakness.28 John Will tried to resist temptation in a variety of ways that he would rely upon for the rest of his life. Foremost, he appealed to his own common sense – “I stayed home to night. I thought it suit my Constitution better” (9 / 9 / 72). But he also practised “self-improvement,” in order to educate himself about the world, and to learn how to behave in public. To stay informed, he read local newspapers – haphazardly organized broadsheets that mixed news reports with debates on local issues and advertisements for dubious elixirs and cures. The Liverpool Transcript, which he would have read at Salter’s Falls, proclaimed its devotion to  “Moral, Political and General Intelligence and Progress.” “Foreign news” from India and Morocco competed with stories about “Nova Scotia Missionaries among the Savages in the Paciic.” And all were jumbled together with ads praising “Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup” and letters complaining about the absence of a passable road between Liverpool and Annapolis Royal.29 For John Will, having knowledge or even an opinion about particular issues was good preparation for civic life. However, being an informed citizen was not exactly the same thing as maintaining a demeanour that would encourage the trust and respect of others. To help himself practise etiquette, he copied this list of deinitions into his diary on 25 June 1872:


Testimonies and Secrets

Reciprocation. A giving and receiving in return. Reciprocity. Reciprocal obligation. Compliment. Act or expression of civility. Praise. To bestow praise upon. To congratulate. Prognostication. The act of foretelling. Duty. What one is bound to perform: military service, tax or customs. Duteous. Fulilling duty. Injudicious. Not wise. Injudiciously. Without judgment. Injure. To hurt or damage. Emanate. To low from your lips. Withdraw. To take back. To retreat. By memorizing this vocabulary, John Will schooled himself in the standards of polite society so that he would be perceived by others as a cut above the rowdier crowd. His primary goals were to be dutiful in meeting obligations, complimentary yet circumspect in daily interactions, and, perhaps above all, cautious when making judgments. John Will’s quest for self-mastery – really, a striving for secular perfection – did not bring him peace. The yearnings and hollow feelings that plagued his inner being remained as strong as ever: Salters Falls June 26, 1872 I feel pretty lonesome to night or home sick I don’t know which. But I should like to be home to see how the ields look for it has been a splendid June for the grass could not be any better in my istemation [estimation] if I would have had the maginan [imagining] of it myself. I feel home sick to night and very lonely. I feel that I want help above earthly help. Oh I hope that the Lord will Pardon me and bless me. (28 / 6 / 72) He needed “help beyond earthly help” partly because he feared that his carousing would lead to eternal damnation. The forest ires that raged through the lumber camps must have seemed to him portents of his own life to come as an unredeemed sinner. Queens County’s tumultuous daily life – with its boozing and transient port towns, its boom-and-bust cycles in lumber and mining – lent urgency to his quest for salvation.30

Young Man on the Rise


To assuage his torment, John Will sought the consolations of the Gospel at open-air camp meetings and churches along the Medway. A Methodist meeting house was established in Mill Village in 1818, and by the 1860s, several other churches were there as well. John Will may have even attended a meeting at the still-standing Old Meeting House in Port Medway. Begun by Free Will Baptists in 1832, it became a Methodist meeting house in 1865. Built in the Old Collegiate Style, ive tiers of seats rose up on either side of the aisle. The singing gallery over the entrance door faced the elevated pulpit at the far end of the interior. Sermons hit every person with additional force, because half of the congregation had to look directly at the other half during the service. Put another way, by looking elsewhere the congregant only invited further scrutiny.31 Here, as at the Methodist church in Petite, John Will heard trained preachers urge their audiences, heavily composed of remorseful young people, to ind new life in the teachings of Jesus and the disciples. The atmosphere differed from the revivals that James Munro described in the 1790s. This earlier era featured crowds of enthusiasts rushing into churches to hear powerful though sometimes unlettered preachers shout the Word. Exhortations rang back and forth between pulpit and pews, and the dynamic of each meeting was unique, with new attendees sometimes taking charge. By the 1870s, proclamations of faith were still part of the gathering, but the minister now controlled the order of service. Sermons were more explanatory and moderate in tone – the essence of “Method,” which sought to encourage individuals to relect upon the course of their lives. This may have been a relief to a reticent person like John Will, who would have felt uneasy confessing to his own weaknesses in public. Further, by attending with friends he could gain some assurance that salvation was possible through “personal rebirth and holy living.”32 Methodism’s emphasis on following both the promptings of one’s heart and the deliberately considered lessons of the Bible found a willing seeker in John Will Crouse: We was all to meeting to night to here [hear] something good. Mr. Baker preached from the second Corinthines [Corinthians] 5 Chapter … Therefore if a man be a new Creature in Christ, old things haf past away and all things are become new. Last night I herd Mr. Gray. Sunday night Mr. Colter. (17 / 4 / 72)


Testimonies and Secrets

In the evening Robert & Lem & I went down to Charleston and went to church. Mr. Gray preached and we injoyed ourselves irst rate. (30 / 5 / 72) We went down to Charleston to meeting this evening & a darky Preacher. I liked him very much. (8 / 7 / 72) John Will’s reference to the passage from Corinthians (5: 17–19) linked his own searching to Methodism’s faith in education. Paul’s leadership – his Apostolic commission – was under attack by rival preachers. Aware of the criticism, Paul nonetheless urged the local churches of Corinth to proclaim a ministry of reconciliation: Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

In future years, John Will would strive to cast himself as a leader in the  Pauline sense. He intended to exemplify his faith by providing guidance and succour to family and friends in times of stress and contention. John Will became determined to turn his own emotional and spiritual turmoil into a beneit for others. Methodism’s claim of an Apostolic mandate was a core feature of the faith in Canada.33 “A darky Preacher. I liked him very much.” John Will here used a condescending term for African peoples, which was standard usage in his time. Very few freed or escaped slaves ended up in Nova Scotia, but during the Revolutionary War, settlements of freed black loyalists were established near Digby and Shelburne. Many of these loyalists left for Sierra Leone and elsewhere after the war ended in 1783. In the midnineteenth century, communities of runaway slaves formed in Ontario and in Halifax, Shelburne, and Liverpool, but these too depopulated during the Civil War, as many returned to ight for the Union cause. Locally, Canada’s image as a bastion of freedom suffered when Petite Riviere and Lunenburg citizens tried to protect the Confederate raider Chesapeake. The main point of John Will’s entry, however, was that he liked the preacher “very much.” Character, in other words, meant more

Young Man on the Rise


than skin colour. Further, the preacher may have been a Methodist; the “Mr. Baker” referenced above may have been a descendant of “Rev. Mr. Baker” identiied as a prominent member of the black community in the 1820s. Also, there is record of Provincial Assembly support for black Methodists in Liverpool.34 Settling Up and Going Home John Will had done well. After four months of work at Salter’s Falls he calculated his wages thus: “I had a Settlement with R.D. Burnaby. His bill against me [room and board] was $67.42. My bill against him was $234.16 which left a balance of $166.74” (18 / 8 / 72). And four months later, on 7 December 1872, he made the following entry: “John W. Crouse to R.D. Burnaby. By 47½ [days] at mill $2.50 per day. And 49½ iling $2.50 per day. Amounting to $242.50.” In an era when the average daily wage for a common laborer was $1.00, John Will Crouse was earning around $1.75 per day after deducting for room and board – “his bill against me.”35 He had amassed a substantial stake for the work he was planning to undertake in Crousetown. John Will had been migrating to Burnaby’s mill at Salter’s Falls since the early 1860s. His experiences there had substantially improved his knowledge of mill construction and operation. Further, his daily interactions with the Burnabys and others had established contacts that he hoped might lead to investments in Crousetown mill projects. Above all, John Will had earned the money to buy back and improve the Crousetown mill that his ancestors had built in the 1810s. He had also continued to collect income from the usage fees he levied at his Crousetown mills, and this revenue enabled him to pay others to keep up his farm. “To Samuel Hilton $8.00 to doing my planting potatos & grain,” he recorded in the spring of 1873. John Will’s time in Salter’s Falls had also changed him as a person. At the end of a tumultuous year, he restated his faith in a guarded way, giving it a conditional character for both himself and others: Crouse Town December 25, 1872 Wednesday we were all smart as usual, injoying good helth. All have lived to see another Christmis and we humbly feel very thankful to Him who is the giver of every good and perfect gift and I do hope that we shall be more careful what we say and do if we


Testimonies and Secrets

are spared to live in the future. For the Lord is good to those who love him, and does his will. Be good boys and girls and mind what you are told. He had been exposed to temptations and worried about enjoying himself too much. In his remorse, he feared “that what we say and do” might compromise his faith, adding, “mind what you are told” – as a  mildly hectoring message to those who aspired to be “good boys and girls.” This passage suggests a grimmer personality than the one known by John Will’s neighbours in Crousetown. At home he continued to record the mixture of joys and regrets that deined the engaged yet selfdoubting person with whom they were familiar: Crousetown February 3, 1873 I harnessed my colt and drove down and back the new road and home and he went irst rate. It was time to retire but did not feel very smart for I smooked too much tobacco I think and I am very sorrow. (13 / 1 / 73) Referring to the breakup of the camp at Salter’s Falls, he wrote, “It is lonesome … but the best of friends must part” (26 / 6 / 73). This more affectionate tone extended beyond the work-place to encompass the network of families who came together at the Methodist meeting house in Petite: Wednesday I arose with good helth and got my breakfast. It was a pretty ine morning. I started and went down to the shore to settle for my pew and baught another one No. 6 the one that Unkle Edwin Sperry had last year. (1 / 1 / 73) There is a note of pride here. John Will often was one of the irst to pay, in this case for two pews. The rents were intended to underwrite the costs of maintaining the meeting house as a place of worship and communal gathering. On some occasion, as after the hurricane of 1873, the expense was considerable, requiring special assessments running over several years. Above all, John Will viewed his contributions as signifying that there was more to life than daily toil; pew rent gave his labour spiritual meaning.36

Young Man on the Rise


How would John Will’s commitments translate into action? The answer to this question is bound up with the history of the Crousetown community in the decade of the 1870s. Here John Will’s story joins with his grandson Harold Eikle’s later memoir of the in-migration and settlement of the Eikle and Kaulback families. The histories of these two families would intertwine with the John Will Crouse saga, and all three stories would inluence village life in the years to come.

Chapter Two

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884

Crousetown still had an uninished look, as its roads and houses showed. Rough and dangerous thoroughfares made it hard to get from here to there. Tree stumps in the roads were being gradually lifted out and sawed for ship’s futtocks [ribs], but every spring, pot holes boiled up with a vengeance. Periodically, the roads looded out, especially at the Wallace’s Bridge and Kissing Bridge crossings.1 Both were perilous, especially Wallace’s Brook, where a Vogler child drowned one day. The main road from Petite village dropped steeply as it approached the dam from the south, resulting in some spectacular accidents over the years. As for the dwellings, beginning in the 1830s, the plank cabins of the early settlers were torn down and replaced by the frame houses that still deine Crousetown’s appearance. These displayed a distinctive feature of their time, rear annexes with large open ireplaces. The houses were sometimes unpainted and their roof and siding boards remained uneven because the edging saws took off the bark, but followed the tree line from the base to the narrower treetop end. To even out the boards during construction, the slabs were “pieced” head to toe; a twentiethcentury renovation project, one villager remembered, “found quite a bit of that … when they was working on the roof.”2 Timber stood close to the Petite River and the mills, which was a convenience but also ominous because of the threat of ire. Whatever the roughness of environmental conditions or domestic arrangements, hope shone out everywhere – in the farms being carved out of the woods, in the mills being expanded, and in the houses being raised on the slopes above the Petite. Ambrose F. Church’s great Nova Scotia map project, begun in 1864, reached Lunenburg County in 1883.

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884 S. H.

Mrs. W. Silver

J. Cross J. Niforth W. Nass L. Nass


C. Oikle H. Kaulbach

J. Stewart

N B. Misener

Bro o

D. Himmelman

J. Kaulbach P. Himmelman


Saw Mill

ière R iv

Wallace’ s

A. Niforth

H. Himmelman D. Himmelman

ite Pet

L. Nass M. Watson

Wallace’s Bridge

H. Deagley

Cemetery Crouse Saw Mills J.Vogler B. Ramey J.W. Crouse B. Hilton C.Vogler W. Hilton E. Huey A. Johnson B. Kenny H. Porter B. Hilton Kissing S.H. Bridge L. Harmon J. Johnson E. Jodrie

C R O U S E T O W N W.Vogler

G. Stewart

W. Feener J. Wentzel. A. Harmon L. Nass

Saw Mill

R. McClellan

R. Harmon Saw Mill

E. Publicover J. Sperry Pound

S. Brown

U. Crouse J. Harmon

J. Harmon F. Mineok

SOMERSET J. Harmon R. McCartey

J. Asbury

R. Leslie B. Perry Saw S. Leslie Mill M. Harmon S. Bowers H. Smith E. Fault J. Harmon J. Johnson J. Fault W. Fault E. Heckman D. Sperry J. Wentzel J. Johnson J. Sperry C. Johnson Mrs.Vogler J. Laydon

Bro wn Branch

E. Nass

PETITE RIVIÈRE A. Acker J. Winter E. Winter Petite Rivière Lake

0 0

.5 mi .5

1 km Saw Mill

Crousetown, 1883


Testimonies and Secrets

The Crousetown segment shows a cluster of houses, two bridges, several new mills, a schoolhouse, and two graveyards; there were as yet no churches, so villagers continued to attend church in Petite. Church’s map, with the Kissing Bridge and Wallace’s Bridge added, provides a picture of the local geography in the 1870s and 1880s. As the changes of these decades deined the community, they also shaped the course of John Will Crouse’s life. By the early 1870s, John Will had become an accomplished young man with diverse business interests. Since 1863 he had been responsible for the care of his mother and siblings. By the mid-1880s, he had put up a new house, and married his next-door neighbour, Frances Ann Ramey, called Fan. The couple’s daughter, Elvira or Elvie, was born in 1884. Throughout these decades, John Will’s goals were to improve his family’s economic and social standing, and to maintain his position as a moral exemplar within the community. Changes within the John Will Crouse family took place in a demographic environment characterized by population growth and mobility that stemmed from a high birth rate among the resident population more than from foreign in-migration. After the 1840s, European immigration to the Maritimes, most of which had come from the British Isles, trailed off. “Thereafter,” Conrad and Hiller note, “population growth depended upon natural increase, which in the 1850s and 1860s reached impressive levels. By 1871 there were over 900,000 people living in the region up from 200,000 in 1815.” This astounding increase – families with eight or more children were commonplace – was followed by a drastic drop in the growth rate in the later nineteenth century and then an absolute decline in the early 1900s. There were two reasons for the downturn: irst, new values, common throughout much of the Western world, favoured later marriages and smaller families, and, second, the Maritimes’ low-wage economy stimulated outmigration. Over half-a-million people, including many young women, sought opportunity in the “Boston States” or in the central and western provinces of the Dominion.3 Lunenburg County traced these demographic changes in its own way. The county grew from under 7000 to nearly 24,000 in the halfcentury between 1817 and 1871 and did so with even less foreign inmigration than the province as a whole. Few Catholics, either Highland Scots or Irish, settled in the county: 479 Catholics were enumerated in  1851, and 629 in 1891. County population growth, therefore, came mainly from increases among pioneer settlers – German Lutherans and

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884


Calvinists who had migrated in the 1750s, Scots-Irish Presbyterians and Methodists who had begun arriving in the 1760s, and Anglicans of British and German ethnicity. Regarding the outmigration of the late nineteenth century, Lunenburg County lagged behind the general trend. Over the decade of the 1870s, for example, the population growth rate for the Maritimes as a whole was 13.5 per cent, but the county grew by 20 per cent. In the 1880s, when the overall Maritime growth rate dropped to 1.5 per cent, Lunenburg County still grew by 9 per cent.4 Accompanying these trends were changes in the cultural and religious preferences of the population. Lutheranism experienced a relative decline, as many German-speaking families abandoned their ancestral language and adopted English, the language of the booming British marketplace. Similarly, Lunenburg Calvinists joined the Scottish Calvinist Presbyterian Church in 1837 when they could not secure a German-speaking minister. Many other Foreign Protestant families joined Anglican or Methodist congregations.5 In the second half of the nineteenth century, the number of Anglicans in Lunenburg County doubled, from 5000 to 10,000. Methodists grew over threefold, from 1600 to 5600. Lutheran membership also increased as English-speaking services became more common, but the gain was smaller – from 4000 to 5400.6 Crousetown, in south Lunenburg County, also experienced growth in the 1870s and 1880s, much of it coming from the descendants of the pioneers who arrived nearly a century earlier. Some of the increase, however, was the result of an in-migration of families from other parts of Lunenburg County. These later arrivals were mostly descendants of the original Lunenburg population that had migrated out of the port town towards the county’s interior regions. By 1860, the back country was becoming overpopulated, and some of these families moved again – this time to less-populated coastal areas of Lunenburg County or to the eastern shore above Halifax. Crousetown, with its mixed economy of farming and milling as well as its proximity to the port of Petite Riviere, became an attractive destination.7 Newcomers: The Kaulbacks and the Eikles Among the new families arriving in Crousetown, those of Jacob Kaulback and Charles Eikle are especially relevant because of the relationships they formed with the John Will Crouse family and with each other. (See appendix 4.) As Anglicans and local representatives of a


Testimonies and Secrets

prominent Lunenburg family, Jacob Kaulback and his descendants also highlighted the issue of social class. Nova Scotia’s aristocracy was both a landed elite expecting social deference from others and – as was true throughout North America – a merchant class seeking gain in a luid commercial economy. The Jacob Kaulbacks were not as powerful as their Lunenburg relatives nor did they style themselves as members of  a squirearchy. Nonetheless, they provided Crousetown with an Anglican and Conservative presence in the midst of the Methodist and Liberal majority that included the various Crouse families.8 Charles and Lucy Eikle, also Anglican and Conservative, were important for the same reason. They became connected to the John Will Crouse family when their son Edwin married John Will’s daughter, Elvira (Elvie). Jacob Kaulback was a descendant of Lunenburg settler Johann Martin Kaulbach, who arrived in 1750 on the Ann, the irst ship bringing “Foreign Protestants” to Halifax. The family subsequently claimed aristocratic origins through descent from Wilhelm Von Kaulbach, director of the Royal Academy of the Fine Arts in Munich. Johann Martin Kaulbach, relatively well-to-do with little debt to work off, received an early Crown land grant in the “Dutch lots” of north Halifax. He was a Lunenburg pioneer and, like John Will’s ancestor Johann Jacob Krauss, participated in the 1756 expedition to gather stray cattle from the decimated Acadian settlements in the Annapolis Valley.9 In the decades that followed, the Kaulbach family became inluential throughout Lunenburg County. The 1838 census listed ten Kaulbach families with seventy-four members. Among the “head of household” occupations were miller, tanner, and merchant; only four families were headed by farmers. DesBrisay summarized the story of Johann Martin Kaulbach’s descendants: His son, Henry Kaulbach, was appointed Sheriff of Lunenburg in 1798, and was succeeded in that ofice by his son, the late John H. Kaulbach. One of Martin Kaulbach’s great-grandsons, Hon. Henry A.N. Kaulbach, Q.C., was returned in 1863 to represent the county in the Provincial Legislature, and was afterwards called to the Senate, and another grandson, Charles E. Kaulbach, was irst returned in 1878, as representative for the county in the Dominion House of Commons.10

The ofice of Lunenburg county sheriff was particularly important because it conducted land and estate sales after bankruptcy. Information on particular properties was public, but the sheriff could, and likely

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884 65

did, favour relatives and friends with his estimation of properties up for auction. Jacob Kaulback, though spelling his name differently, was a distant relative of Sheriff Henry Kaulbach. And Jacob certainly had suficient resources to buy into the Crousetown timberlands, as John Will discovered: Saturday morning I was in Crouse Town. I arose with good helth and got my breakfast then started and went to Heckmans to see how the sale of the [Miller’s] timber land would sell. It was put up and Jacob Calback and I seen it up to $1925. My last bid was $1920 dollars. Kalback put on $5.00 and made it $1925 dollars and it was nocked down to him. (21 / 9 / 72) Jacob Kaulback and his family had migrated to Crousetown in 1866 from Maitland, a farming village six miles inland from Lunenburg. The Kaulbacks did not start from scratch, but bought out an earlier settler, Michael Fancy, who had fallen on hard times.11 Newcomers such as the Kaulbacks often urged relatives to join them, and so it was that Jacob Kaulback’s praises of Crousetown reached his sister, Lucy Eikle. Lucy and Charles Eikle and their six children lived in Big Lots near Maitland. In early 1873 Jacob Kaulback sold the Eikles a parcel carved from his own land, “a certain [355 acre] lot in the settlement of Crousetown.”12 Like the Kaulbacks, the Eikles had prospered over the generations, but their path to prosperity was somewhat unique. The Eikle name, or variants such as Oickle and Eichel, does not appear in Bell’s Register, meaning that the family was not part of the Foreign Protestant migration. As we learn from Harry Bishop Oickle’s genealogy, the Nova Scotia branch descended from John Eichel, a Hessian mercenary who deserted after the American Revolutionary War, and made his way to Lunenburg. There, he won the hand of Mary Elizabeth Bouteiller from a well-to-do Montbeliardi Foreign Protestant family. By 1838, the Eikle family, then spelling its name “Oickle,” had seven branches with iftyive members. All heads of household were listed as farmers.13 Charles and Lucy (Kaulback) Eikle were married in 1857. They were an accomplished and energetic couple. When still in his twenties, Charles built Christ Church in Maitland, one of many inely crafted Anglican churches still standing in Nova Scotia. Lucy raised their seven children and was an accomplished gardener and weaver. By the 1870s, Charles had done well, but the family’s prospects in Maitland had begun to narrow. The Davison lumber company controlled much of the


Testimonies and Secrets

timber land, and the agricultural tracts were not rich or extensive enough to support the rapidly proliferating population. From the Eikle family history, written in 1953 by John Will Crouse’s grandson, Harold Eikle, we learn more about their migratory experience. The impetus for Harold’s history was the death of his father Edwin, who had been four years old at the time of the family’s move. Harold, who was forty-one in 1953, was trying to preserve family stories that he had heard as a boy – a mission that he would pursue for the rest of his life.14 Here are two of his narratives, both written in the house built by his grandfather, John Will. Harold’s irst story recounts the Eikle migration from Big Lots to Crousetown in 1873, and the second tells of their irst days in their new home: Narrative One: Migration A short record of facts concerning the coming of my father’s family to Crousetown: This is the evening of March 12, 1953 and, as I sit alone in my room before the ire, I shall endeavor to record a few items of interest concerning the family of which I am the last to bear the name living in this community. Just eighty years ago this very night a very lowly home in Big Lots [Maitland], Lunenburg County was the scene of much commotion. Farming implements and tools, household furniture, including the spinning wheel and old German Loom … special pine boards which had been lately sawed at the mill in Maitland, bedding and other household effects were being loaded on large wagons. The cattle had been fed their evening meal and the old cows, Cherry and Sheckel, were awaiting the word to be loaded upon a wagon for their long journey. The home referred to was that of my Grandfather, the late Charles Eikle who had lately purchased a section of land in the vicinity of Crousetown. Long before dawn, Grandmother [Lucy (Kaulback)] Eikle took her little boy, Edwin, by the hand and went across the familiar path to bid her sister-in-law farewell. She then proceeded to make ready to depart from what had been her home for so many years. Grandmother who was at that time the mother of six children, viz., three girls, Emma, Alice and Amelia and, three boys, Joseph, Edwin and Titus, drove her own horse over good sleigh roads to the La Have river, arriving there sometime after dawn. Accompanying her … were her three sons. Quite some hours before she set out on her long journey, other kind relatives and friends had accompanied Grandfather with all the teams which conveyed the movables to their destination. On the latter teams went the girls. At the river Grandfather met

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884 67 Grandmother and himself drove the team across the ice which was at that time very thick in the La Have river. In crossing the river one of the hens chose to lay an egg, a fact which my aunts and uncles as well as my father often related to me. After reaching the west side of the La Have River near Pleasantville corner the teams proceeded in through the country, through Lake Centre [then called Lakeield] … towards their destination. Finally turning into a narrow logging road which led through the forest they arrived, after proceeding about a mile through the woods, at a log hut before which a man, Falkenham by name, was busily engaged in shaving shingles. This very site … was destined to be the later site of the house in which the Eikle family were to reside for many happy years. Although at the time of their arrival there was not a tree cut for clearing, the busy work and hard labors willingly undertaken in the next few years made it one of the inest farms in this part of the country. After proceeding for about another half-mile down the woodland road the teams arrived late in the afternoon at the home of Grandmother Eikle’s brother Jacob [Kaulback] who had lately come to settle in this locality. Here the family spent the remainder of the winter. At the irst signs of spring, clearing on a site for the barn was undertaken and before fall the new structure was completed. In this barn a section was reserved for living quarters for the family where they happily passed their irst winter. In the course of a year a lovely house was erected and gradually the farm was cleared. Grandfather who was an expert carpenter could build the buildings while the boys ardently assisted him in the breaking up of the soil to make their home. The family who were well-known for their hospitality were ever happy to welcome visiting relatives and friends to their new home and, as my father often told me, he never spent a lonely hour on the place.

In the following passage, the family has moved to the newly built barn – their temporary home – up the road from Jacob Kaulback’s farm: Narrative Two: Settlement When they reached the new barn, the cattle were irst led to their new home on one end of the new structure, later known as the over stable. A large grain room and a very wide threshing loor with large lofts separated this part of the structure from the section which had been reserved for living quarters.


Testimonies and Secrets Grandmother … carefully examined … the building for proper places for household articles so as to set up temporary housekeeping. Dishes of tastefully decorated and prized china were carefully arranged on crude shelves, ire was made in the stove and preparations were made for the family’s midday meal. A portion was reserved for a dining room, snow white linen was spread over the new table and chairs and a few couches were set up. Meanwhile, the three girls had ascended the ladder leading to their sleeping quarters. Here space was afforded for four beds. The beds were inally set up and the old, high German bed which Grandmother declared had come from Germany in early times was adorned with hand-woven woolen quilts, comfortables and woven sheets which had been tastefully decorated with weaving patterns of which Emma was a very eficient weaver. The loom was stood up in one corner of the kitchen and Emma and Alice had soon put on a piece of linen to be woven. As time approached for the noonday meal, Grandfather came into the building, saying, “Here comes a man from the settlement. I wonder what he might want.” Slowly the visitor emerged from the forest, stepping carefully over the fallen trees. Here and there he hacked away a top that was in his way. “I see your axe is sharp,” said Grandfather. “Yes, do you mind my chopping some of these tops out of your way?” “Help yourself,” said Grandfather, “I wish I could give these trees away …” “What is your name?” said Grandfather. “My name is Fancy, John Fancy,” said the stranger. At that grandmother called, “Dinner, Charley, bring your company along.” As they entered the new building, Grandfather said, “This is our irst meal in our new home. May all of our meals be freely shared with friends and visitors …” When they were inished, the visitor announced his purpose … “I have thought it might be possible to get a job at clearing away some of these big logs for you. I would take them out to John Will Crouse’s mill and have them sawed into lumber. What do you want for them?” “Only agree to come and remove them,” said Grandfather. “You see, I want to clear this land as soon as possible so that I can plant gardens and build a house. I want to make this one of the inest farms in this part of the country.” Finally it was arranged that John Fancy should come, bring his oxen, and stay with the family for the winter. Grandmother pointed out where a

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884


bed could be set up and everything was settled. When the next spring came, Johnnie reminded Grandfather that that was the best winter he had ever spent.

Two worlds unfold in Harold Eikle’s romanticized yet sensitive retelling of family stories passed down to him. One centres on the domestic domain of Lucy Eikle and her three daughters, all of whom were of an age to be helpful.15 The other provides a glimpse of the work environment of Charles Eikle and his fellow labourers. Harold’s stories draw our attention to both sides of the family’s life. Household partnerships, such as that of Charles and Lucy Eikle, deined social and cultural life and shaped the local economy well into the twentieth century. In Harold’s account, it is Lucy who superintends the move, with a particular eye towards conserving the historic, yet still vitally useful artefacts of the household, “including the spinning wheel and the old German loom.” In the barn that was their irst home, “dishes of tastefully decorated and prized china were arranged on crude shelves … Snow white linen was spread over the new table.” Regrettably, few of these artefacts can be seen today, most having been sold or stolen during Harold’s last years in Crousetown. A photograph of the spinning wheel, taken in 1959, is a haunting reminder of this earlier time. Richard Henning Field and his colleagues have conirmed the vitality of German folk art in Canada, particularly emphasizing the “strong tradition of decorative art” in Lunenburg County. There, “the perpetuation of traditional design conventions, colours and ornamental embellishments was encouraged by the area’s relative isolation from the emerging English centre of Halifax.”16 Neither Lucy Eikle nor her daughters, nor for that matter, her husband Charles, would have considered their handiwork to be “folk art.” The carefully woven quilts, the sturdy bed frame or chest were, in Harold’s words, “tools for daily living.” The Eikles treasured the beauty and usefulness of their artefacts and felt connected by them to their own parents and grandparents. There is a hint of melancholy in Harold’s 1953 account, perhaps because by then the “tools” were becoming goods to feed a growing market for antiques. Harold’s story emphasizes Lucy’s hospitality: “Dinner, Charlie. Bring your friend.” This convivial note was especially important in its effect upon the children. For young Edwin Eikle, future son-in-law of John Will Crouse, being warmed by memories of his parents’


Testimonies and Secrets

Spinning wheel, Crouse / Eikle house, 1959 (Author)

neighbourliness and by the material objects from his family’s past, meant that he “never spent a lonely hour” on the farm. Harold Eikle’s settlement narrative testiied to the family’s faith that civilization was there in the beginning, before the land was cleared and the home constructed. Particularly notable is his sensitivity to the domestic world where feminine values predominated. Harold’s portrayal of the male work environment is also full of admiration, perhaps tending towards the hyperbolic. Charles Eikle was indeed an “expert carpenter” but in 1873, the year of settlement, there was no family workforce at his disposal. The boys were too young – Edwin was ive and his brother Titus was two – to “ardently” assist Charles “in the breaking up of the soil.” In time they would contribute but, as Harold relates, Charles needed to employ local men to get started. Crousetown and surrounding villages had dense family networks for him to draw upon. John Fancy, who stayed with the Eikles over the irst winter, and Falkenham, the shingle shaver they met as  they arrived, both came from Conquerall Mills, to the north of Crousetown on the Petite River. John Fancy, who appears often in John Will’s diary, was born in Conquerall, and Fancy Lake was named after his Grandfather, George Fancy.17 John Fancy’s sister, Sophia,

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884


married John Will’s beloved “Unkle Jorge” and his brother, Joseph Fancy, married into the Falkenham family.18 The presence of Fancy and Falkenham as well as the “narrow logging road” evokes the labours of earlier generations. Thus, Harold exaggerated when he wrote that there was “not a log cut for clearing.” Similarly, his description of the Eikles’ farm in Maitland as a “very lowly home” made the family look humbler than it was. Harold’s desire to write a heroic narrative is certainly understandable and conditions were rough enough to make it plausible. An equally valid story could centre upon the Fancys and Falkenhams hiring out to help the Kaulback, Eikles and others build their farms and homes. When Harold’s story opens, “Johnnie” Fancy had already become John Will’s employee and his appearance at the Eikles’ clearing was probably more than a coincidence. He may well have been charged by John Will with keeping the Yanky and the up-and-down mills busy while John Will inished his work down at Lad Burnaby’s gang mill in Salter’s Falls. John Fancy received room and board from the Eikles, while John Will gained a supply of timber for his mill, and the Eikles obtained crucial help in clearing land for their farm. Implicit in this account is a mode of economic development whereby large, often interrelated, families supported each other and in the process drew other less successful families into their orbit. North of Crousetown, towards Conquerall Mills and beyond, the thickly settled land was dominated by the Hebb family. Conquerall Mills and Hebb’s Cross families intermarried and were very proliic. Hazel Kaulbach Bolivar described the extent of the most prominent family: “There are Hebbs all over Lunenburg County. Benjamin Hebb, who lived in Conquerall Mills, had two wives and twenty-two children.” DesBrisay chronicled the exploits of the patriarch Adam Hebb, who supposedly carried a 300-pound crank through the woods from Bridgewater to the family mill. Adam Hebb gave each of his seven sons a German Bible and, as his descendants multiplied, the saying grew up that there were “miles of Hebbs” between Bridgewater and the family’s farms, orchards, and mills. Hebbville, as it came to be called, was well named. John Will was a frequent visitor at Abraham and Lucy (Crouse) Hebb’s farm, “Indian Gardens,” a popular produce market, established in 1861, which remains in the Hebb family to this day.19 John Will Crouse assisted Charles Eikle in getting started, and his own enterprises proited as a result. He needed the Eikles’ fallen timber to generate income that would underwrite the operation and


Testimonies and Secrets

expansion of his two mills. Also, John Will wanted to build a house of his own closer to those mills. To achieve these goals, and to continue providing for his mother and four siblings, he had to make his mills and farm productive. In pursuing these aims, John Will had one advantage over Charles Eikle. Charles’s sons were still children, while John Will’s three brothers had become strong young men, ready to bend to the tasks at hand. The Mill Business The rush of the water and the booming of the mill bring a dreamy deafness which seems to heighten the peacefulness of the scene. They are like a great curtain of sound shutting out one from the world beyond. And now there is the thunder of the great covered wagon coming home with sacks of grain. George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, 12

As a schoolboy in the 1920s, Harold Eikle copied Eliot’s passage into his exercise book. It might well have made an impression on him, for the fortunes of Crousetown had always depended upon the booming sound of the mills. John Will Crouse’s success and the viability of the Petite watershed were inextricably connected. His central challenge was to build a more eficient mill, ultimately a gang mill, on the site of the old up-and-down mill established by his great-grandfather in the 1810s. To accomplish this project, John Will had to answer several questions: How could a suficient timber supply be secured? Available water power be maximized? Appropriate machinery be installed? He needed to apply his enhanced skills as a millwright to the construction of a new mill while maintaining, perhaps even increasing, income from his existing mills. By the time he began construction in the spring of 1874, he had addressed all these questions. Competition to harvest wood lots was ongoing. As noted, John Will had lost out to Jacob Kaulback at a timberland auction in 1872. In defeat, however, there was opportunity. First, John Will had not tied up capital so he had funds available when another possibility materialized, as happened in 1876 when his next-door neighbours Christopher and Mary Ann (Crouse) Vogler sold him two parcels for $150.00.20 Second, he did not have to bear the burdens of large acreage ownership, especially the punishments meted out by adverse weather. Ralph Johnson’s history of Nova Scotia forests notes that early provincial surveys showed huge expanses of ire barrens and fallen trees.21

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884 73

Harold Eikle’s description of John Fancy’s appearance among the toppled trees by the Eikle barn has Charles Eikle saying, “I wish I could give these trees away.” Referring to the hurricane that caused the damage, he added, “Goodness, it must have roared here when the gale was raging.” John Will’s diary outlines how he proited from the misfortune of others: Crouse Town Monday it was pretty cold. We started and went over Calbacks to bargen him for some logs and I got all the ground to the lower part of the long lake [Kaulback Long Lake] and on the beech hill to [trace] line between the Miesner and Calback land along the line between Joudry & Calback for my horse wagen and $5.00, the logs that was lying and those that was lening. (22 / 12 / 73) Tuesday John & Edward & Elkanah & I started and went over to the long lake to cut logs. We cut all day and done pretty well. We cut 18 logs to saw and some mill timber. (23 / 12 / 73) Agreements such as this one between John Will and Jacob Kaulback were a vital part of commercial exchange during these years. They seldom appeared in the deeds registry, but they were important ingredients in John Will’s success and also help to explain why he occasionally logged far from his own holdings. The Petite Watershed (see frontispiece, John Will Crouse’s Nova Scotia) presented a formidable challenge. It was extensive, reaching nearly to Bridgewater and the La Have River in the north, and far inland, encompassing Fancy, Hebb, and Milipsigate lakes. In 1906–8, a canal was dug to make the much larger Lake Minamkeak part of the Petite system in order to meet the demand for electricity in Bridgewater. In the 1870s, however, John Will knew that the Petite had less to offer in geographical reach, power, and port capacity than the neighbouring river systems – the La Have, Medway, and Mersey. These limitations mandated smaller milling operations and put a premium on keeping the Petite clear of obstacles and on the development of its tributaries.22 Responding to this problem, John Will Crouse petitioned his neighbours to cooperate in an effort to clearing out Wallace’s Brook, which entered the Petite north of the village mill pond. His efforts were considerable and, as a copy of the petition and related diary entries show, the results were initially disappointing:


Testimonies and Secrets We the undersined hereby pledge ourselves to John W Crouse to give in labour towards clearing out Wallace’s Brook so called, from Dagley’s mill towards Crouse Town – the number of day’s work set opposite to our names.” [Signers were: William Nauss–1 Brinton Hartle–2 James Fitch–4 Jacob Fitch–1 Elkanah Fitch–4 Joshua Watson–4 John Fancy–3 Ammiel Crouse–3 Henry Feener–2 Enos Nauss–2 Frederick Feener–6 Robert Hilton–3 Philip Crouse–1 William A Crouse–1 Philip S Crouse–1 Joshua Brady–1 Rufus Hartle–2 Enos L Fitch–6 Edward Slauenwhite–3 William Wentzell–3 William Feener–6 Rulin Harmon–2 Abraham Frank–6 Benjamin Slauenwhite–3 Lewis Naus–1 Edward Fancy–1 Stephen Hartle–1 Alexander Hartle–1 Edward Crouse–3] (18 / 2 / 73)

Tuesday morning it was pretty cold but clear. I started and went to Camper town [Camperdown] with my pitision [petition] and through itly [Italy Cross] and bulls run [?] and got a good many to sign it. (25 / 2 / 73) Monday I started and went back to Dagley’s mill and to my grate surprise there was only two men came to work on the brook. So I came home gave it up for a good Job for I did not want the Job a tall and now I got time to see to some other work. John W Crouse, John W. Crouse, John W. Crouse, John W. Crouse, John W. Crouse, John W. Crouse, John W. Crouse (1 / 9 / 73) John Will’s anger, relected in his multiple signatures, must have paid dividends, because the work was soon completed and milling operations began at several locations along Wallace’s Brook. In 1877, a similar petition, signed by six Sperrys and four Crouses among others, urged the province to assist landowners in the clearing “of stones and fallen trees for a distance of about ive miles” on the Western or Brown’s Branch Brook which entered the Petite in south Crousetown: Whereas this work is a necessity from the fact that this Brook runs through a tract of land covered with splendid timber, much of which is blown out and will in a few years be useless, and the removal of the above mentioned obstructions would render the lumber quite accessible, and enable your petitioners to loat the same down to the river or where they would require it.23

Throughout these years, John Will expanded his knowledge of local  mill operations, while at the same time seeking an investment

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884


opportunity that would provide income over the period he would be constructing his new mill. On 13 August 1872, he and John Fancy visited several mills “on the riviere so called le have,” one of which was a “steem mill.” The following winter John Will visited “Unkle” Edwin [Sperry] “and talked about building a gang mill” (15 / 3 / 73). The next week they made a deal: Went down to Unkle Edwin’s and got a site for a gang mill. He charged me $4.00 dollars per year for a third of the privlage of a gang mill to stand at his mill. (22 / 3 / 73) Later, John Will brought Lad Burnaby, his Salter’s Falls employer, to Sperry’s mill, hoping to interest him in the venture. High-output steam mills had been present in Nova Scotia for some time. Edward Davison built one on the Medway River in 1845 and others operated on the Mersey and the La Have.24 However, because steam-mill machinery was expensive and required substantial supplies of wood fuel, water-powered mills continued to be the preferred choice on smaller rivers like the Petite. John Will’s investment in the Sperry gang mill had a further beneit: He learned to adapt the gang, whose intricacies he had learned about at Burnaby’s on the Medway, to the peculiar currents and lows of the Petite. The Crouse-Sperry agreement showed again the importance of family interconnections in commercial ventures. Amelia (Crouse), wife of “Unkle” Edwin Sperry, was the sister of John Will’s father William Leonard Crouse; among Amelia and Edwin’s children was John Will’s close friend Lem Sperry. “Unkle” Edwin and his brothers managed several mills at Sperry Dam, just above Petite Village, where the Wamback Mill Brook entered the river.25 Investing in the Sperry venture downstream from Crousetown enabled John Will to tap into another timber market in the Petite watershed. By the spring of 1874, John Will had put in piers and a boom for his new mill and was ready to begin construction of the main building.26 Initially, he laid out plans for a combination shingle and up-and-down mill, but with space to instal a gang saw when the opportunity arose. The preparation period was demanding in itself: Crouse Town March 18, 1874 Wednesday it was a ine day. I was sawing all day, done pretty well. Joseph Winter came in the mill and said he would sell his mill gear all but the frame for $160.00 and I told him I would come and have a look at it.


Testimonies and Secrets

Thursday it was pretty warm and foggy all day but did not rain any. I started and went over to Winters and saw the mill gear and it pleased me pretty well and I baught it for 160 dollars. (19 / 3 / 74) Made some pattrans [machinery patterns] for my new mill. (1 / 6 / 74)

I sawed the last of my mill sills and it took all day. (24 / 6 / 74) These entries testify to the multitude of separate projects that John Will had to complete for mill construction to even begin. In late August, John Will began construction of the main mill building. An enormous project, it took him until November to get it enclosed. Several years would pass before various building and production problems were resolved and the mill became fully operational. The following entries cover the initial period of construction: Crouse Town August 24, 1874 Saturday it was cloudy all day, sawed in the morning. We was turing [tearing] at the old mill today. Got it all down but not cleared away. Wednesday ... We inished putting down the mill sills today. We had a pretty hard job to get them down. The water was about 4 feet deap where we put some down. (28 / 8 / 74) Tuesday … we comenced putting up our mill posts and done very well. Put up the posts today and framed the most of them and now we are ready to put it on as part of the plats. (1 / 9 / 74) Wednesday … we put down the celender [cylinder] posts and hoist up the fender beams and planked part of the lume and put the braces in for the gate. (9 / 9 / 74) Wednesday … we was hawling gravel for our day [road labour] and rocks for the log slip And was putting in the stairs for the wheel and putting in the water gate. (16 / 9 / 74) Thursday … we raised the upper story of my mill this afternoon ready for the rafters and got along very well. We only had

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884


5 hands and little Simeon Crouse and William Cross helped a little. (15 / 10 / 74) Thursday … John & Elkanah went over to Eikle’s to hawl logs. They put in 32 to day. I and Edward was working at the mill all day, done pretty well. We moved the arms in the caraback [carry back?] wheel and laid down the carage [carriage] slides. (5 / 11 / 74) Saturday … I was working at the mill, got the … gear of the sawgate done and the sweep ready to hang. I will soon be ready to saw a log. John & Elkanah was over to Eikle’s hawling logs today and got in 27 logs. (14 / 11 / 74) Thursday ... I was working in the shop all day at the logwheel but did not inish it. John & Elknah was hawling logs in the river from Eikle’s. (19 / 11 / 74) Tuesday … I was working at the mill all day and done pretty well, got done with the logwheel. (24 / 11 / 74) Strikingly, John Will used almost no factory-made parts on the project. The carriage slides, log gates, lume, mill wheel, and gears were all hand-made from wood. As he had done at the Burnaby mill in 1872, John Will fashioned these pieces from his own “pattrans” or, as we might say, blueprints. Aside from the saws, there were only a few pieces of manufactured ironwork in the mill. The costliness of ironwork had induced the Provincial legislature to pay a 20-pound bounty on all new mill construction. By the mid-nineteenth century, costs had begun to moderate, but John Will had noted with satisfaction that the Burnaby mill, did not “require cast boxes” (1 / 6 / 73). In 1864, Robert Hunter had established the Bridgewater Iron Company, and John Will did make some use of his services: “Paid Mr. Robert Hunter the balence on the miter wheels which was three dollars” (24 / 9 / 75). To further control costs, John Will “baught blacksmith tools from Capt. Haywood” (4 / 3 / 80). Some years later, Ben Ramey and John Will’s brother, Ken, opened blacksmith shops to serve local mills and farms. Elaborate ironwork, such as that used in Hunter’s larger waterwheels, did not appear in Crousetown until after 1900.27 In the midst of these engineering challenges, John Will had to confront a personal dispute. His neighbour, Solomon Ramey, became upset


Testimonies and Secrets

by the proximity of the Crouse mill to his own, and complained that the  Crouse mill obstructed the water course to the Ramey grist mill. The conlict escalated from there: Thursday it was cool and blowed hard all day. I made a place to frame my mill, and then claboards some at the house. And made whitewash … Solomon Ramey was mad for piling boards before his mill … Today the irst was piled there. (25 / 6 / 74) Monday … I was working in my shop for the gates for the water wheel. Then in the evening I went and saw Ramey about his lume and we had quite a talk. He wanted me to give him agreement to keep the slab pile clear and give him new water corce [course]. And if not he would sue me to cost. (7 / 9 / 74) Monday … Simeon Crouse and I started and went to Bridgewater and from that went in to Rodenhizer’s where Ramey was working and seen him about his lume but could not do anything. (3 / 10 / 74)

Undiscouraged, John Will pursued a plan of remediation that eventually succeeded: Lunenburg Town … Tuesday … I went to the records and got a copy of Ramey’s deed, then started and come home to Bridgewater and stayed to Abraham Hebb’s all night. (6 / 10 / 74) Monday … Simeon Crouse & Son & John Fancy & Elkanah Crouse & I went to work and built Solomon Ramey’s lume about 14 feet of it which took us till about a hours time. Then we shut up the dam and the water raised [so] that the grist mill started. (19 / 10 / 74) John Will’s success in negotiating the social shoals of the mill business was as important as his demonstration of business acumen and mechanical ability. In this case, John Will placated Solomon Ramey, his next-door neighbour. The two men had “quite a talk” (7 / 9 / 74), so it is easy to imagine old Solomon shouting and threatening the younger man for clogging up his mill yard with construction materials and blocking his water course. John Will did not respond in kind, perhaps because he had compassion for Sol’s suffering – from the severe asthma

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884


that would kill him a few years later.28 Instead, John Will patiently explained to Sol the details of the deed, and then reconstructed his watercourse and lume. As a result, John Will secured his own investment while solidifying his place in the community as an honest broker, a man who could be trusted. He was especially admired by the younger generation, earning their lifelong respect and affection. In 1874, the year in which John Will built his mill, “Young Sim” Crouse, who often worked there, was seventeen and Sol Ramey’s boys were teenaged or younger. Ben Ramey, who was eight, would work many hours in John Will’s mill as, in time, would Ben’s sons, “Willie,” “Sollie,” Gordon, and Maurice. Old Sol’s daughter Fan, who later became John Will’s wife, was then seven, but likely knew of the stir and its outcome. Among the many challenges that John Will faced, none was more persistent than the necessity of attending to his farm while putting up the new mill: Saturday … started on putting in the fender posts for the saw gate but did not get done. I worked alone today & John inished digging potatos today and that is all we done. (31 / 10 / 74) Tuesday … I was working at the mill all day. Edward was helping me part of the day. I done pretty well today, put in the Jack pole and the feed pole and made places for the hands to work. It is very dry weather. Elkanah was helping Simeon Crouse to brake up [fall ploughing]. John Fancy was cleaning some grane [grain] and got a load of moss for banking for the house. (10 / 11 / 74) There is a timeless quality to these entries. Things really had not changed that much from the late 1830s, an era depicted in Barbara Robertson’s summary of the three-year mill-building effort of the Ross family of New Ross: Was that an unusually long time to accomplish this project? Maybe not when one considers that they completely inished two mill buildings, the dam, lumes, wheels and other machinery such as saw frame and carriage; harvested the logs and shaped all the wooden parts of the structures; and gathered the stone for the millstones, itting their tasks to the seasons. Although some specialized workmen were employed, the Ross men did  much of the labour, yet maintaining the other duties necessary to


Testimonies and Secrets their livelihood such as clearing land, raising crops, ishing, caring for animals, gathering fuel, trading in staves and barrels and operating the old grist mill.29

John Will had begun to reconstruct the old Crouse mill in 1872. He got it running by 1875, but even then it was operating as a shingle and up-and-down (single saw) mill. The conversion to gang saws did not occur until 1881. As with the Ross brothers forty years earlier, the other demands of farm and home life did not abate. Hay had to be put up for the livestock. Grain had to be threshed and potatoes had to be dug so that there would be sustenance over the winter months. In autumn, banks of moss had to be laid up against house foundations to break the force of icy winds. Tasks such as these required John Will’s full attention during the planting, mowing, and harvesting seasons, all told at least four months’ work outside of the mill every year. The number of water-powered mills would decline in the years ahead, but those that kept going displayed an enduring seasonal rhythm that spanned the decades of the nineteenth century. The Perils and Promises of Everyday Life The problems of mill construction, though substantial, were far from the sum of the dangers of village life. Nature was always ickle, and erratic or criminal behaviour tested the temper of irenic persons such as John Will. As had been true for him at Salter’s Falls, the spectre of immolating ire hung over his little village, surrounded as it was by huge trees and forests illed with dry, dead wood. Death and other maladies of life were ever near. Undeterred, John Will went about his work in the hope of inding a better future for himself, his family, and his community. John Will’s diplomatic approach to conlict was somewhat unique in the context of the litigious culture of the time. In his diary he took note of several such conlicts, one of which involved his own property: John Vogular and Watson had their lawsute today and Watson had to pay $200.00 or ifty pounds … so I am informed. If so it is pretty bad I think. But it will learn him to do what is right after this and I hope that it will do much good. (3 / 1 / 73) Tuesday it was a pretty ine day. We was sawing all day and done well. Also I tended the sute of John Grim Nowe for braking in our barn. (15 / 5 / 76)

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884


For the irst case, the issue is not known, and for the second there is no record of the outcome. Together, they suggest that resort to legal action was not unusual. Essayist John MacGregor bewailed the tendency of Nova Scotians towards “too frequent recurrence to law, the people ly to litigation on the most trivial occasion: they are inveigled into law suits by low attorneys.”30 Of course, lawsuits were pursued not just because of the manipulations of “low attorneys,” but because citizens demanded and enjoyed them. Matthew Watson had given John Will dificulty in the past, and so he no doubt took pleasure in that case’s outcome. Such “sutes” served as entertainments and retribution ceremonies, perhaps forestalling more confrontational ways of settling conlict. Litigation or not, brawling was fairly common. In Crousetown there were frequent scraps involving the Watsons, Matthew and his son Joshua. Legend has it that Matthew Watson and Solomon Brown once fought for an entire day at various places throughout the village.31 On another occasion, John Will wrote, “We had quite a ight, Joshuay Watson and Lemy Sperry” (19 / 1 / 75). In later years, Gideon Crouse, son of “Old Sim,” gained a reputation for his iery temper. John Will, by contrast, sought to be a calming presence. He did not mind observing conlict but, when confronted in person, he usually suppressed his anger and attempted to mediate the issue at hand. Overall, local mayhem was less dangerous than nature. During the years that John Will was constructing his mill, ires continually threatened his business. As had been the case in Salter’s Falls, the scope and intensity of the conlagrations imperilled the timber base upon which the mills depended: Crouse Town May 14, 1874 Thursday it was very warm and dry and the wind west and blowed hard. I was in the orchard working at the trees … when the ire commenced burning over to Eikle’s and I & him & Edward went over and worked all the afternoon but could not stop it. Crouse Town Sept 11, 1876 Monday it was dry and windy all day and the Watson’s ire burnt ferful … We had to prepare ladders for the mills [to put out embers on the roof]. It was all ires [where] ever you looked. Wednesday it was dry and windy all day the ire burnt ferful all day. The ire at Petite Reviere burnt all the green timber from Broadcove to Petite to the sea shore. (13 / 9 / 76)


Testimonies and Secrets

Crouse Town July 4, 1879 Friday it was a day to be rembred [remembered] long. It blew a gale of wind from the westward and very hot, 98 above zero. Also a ire back of Stephen Dagley’s driving the smoke over us. Friday it is all ires this side of Conquerall and Italy and across the river along Simeon Crouse’s march. (8 / 8 / 79) Crouse Town May 31, 1880 Monday it was raining all day. And it was a grate blessing that it did in order to put out the ires that was burning so ferful on Friday and Saturday and Sunday … Burnt all of the green timber on the Crouse Town lands with others also. Besides destroying timber and threatening the mills, ire took homes and lives. In 1874 James Fitch of Conquerall Mills burnt to death at home.32 Three years later, John Will made these entries: Crouse Town June 23, 1877 Saturday … I started and went to Bridgewater, came to Pleasantville and stayed all night. Sabth morning … got home about ten o’clock and to our grate suprise we met very sorful [sorrowful]. Friendly Mrs. William Sperry’s [John Will’s aunt, Sarah Crouse] house with nearly all of its contents cosmed [consumed] with ire. Monday … I was collecting for Mrs. Sperry. Great sympthy for the friends. (25 / 6 / 77) Wednesday it was ine all day. I was collecting of Sperry’s. (27 / 6 / 77)

And then there is Harold Eikle’s recollection of the accident that befell Joshua Ramey, infant son of old Solomon and Lucy Ramey in 1864: In the old [Gottlieb Crouse] home in Crousetown, there was an open ireplace. One day little Joshua was playing near it and his clothes caught ire. His mother in great excitement picked him up & rushed out of door. Not realizing that the wind would fan the lames, she hardly knew what to do when his clothes began to burn more freely. She then applied plenty of cold water. The contrasting effects were fatal.33

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884 83

Death and sickness were constant companions. John Will regularly noted the passing of the older generation. “Grandfather Falt died and left this world of sin” runs a typical entry (29 / 1 / 74). Sometimes death was tragic and unexpected: “Got my supper and read in the noose [News] paper that James Christopher was killed halling a load of hay in Brookield. Was found under his load of hay ded” (17 / 2 / 72). “One of Frederick Baker’s died today. About 7 years old” (22 / 6 / 72). Maritime fatalities were frequent. For 1873 Malcolm Parks lists “Philip Christopher Vogler, William Sperry Vogler, James Michael Vogler, and James Michael Falt … lost at sea … in an August hurricane” and, for 1874, “Stephen Joshua Sperry, son of Edwin and Amelia (Crouse) Sperry … a shareholder in the schooner Three Brothers (54 tons) built at Petite Riviere.” And again, Harold Eikle, with his eye for distress, recalled the death of Matthew “Peach” [Peitzch]: The Peach house stood across from the Anglican Church [St Mary’s] and the barn where Matthew Peach hanged himself stood just about where the Church now stands. This tragedy … happened very early in the morning and the older folk believed that Peach was very depressed due to inancial problems. In life he was described as a very good man and used to raise the tunes in church services.34

Illness and bodily aflictions were also widespread, especially in the winter months. Following two burial notices, John Will wrote, “There is more sick most everywhere” (17 / 3 / 73). Of his own condition, he often wrote of “grate pain” from “diareer” or “biles” (17 / 1 / 72; 1 / 8 / 72; 15 / 11 / 75). He did what he could to gain relief: “I went into the Dr. and got vacenated and got one tooth drawed and then started and came home” (6 / 2 / 73). Illness, disaster, and tragedy took many forms, but the work had to go on. The dangers were considerable, but there were chances for betterment as well. The Lunenburg County economy grew in the 1870s, with an expanding, if luctuating, market for ish and lumber leading the way.35 John Will built up his capital through lumber sales and by practising his skills as a wheelwright and surveyor. He sent much of his output (shingles, laths, and some lumber) to “Unkle” Peter Bell, a shipbuilder and merchant at Bell’s Cove in Dublin on the La Have36 (23ff. / 6 / 73; 27 / 6 / 78; 18 / 6 / 80). John Will’s skill as a millwright was well known and he plied his trade up and down the Petite. In 1879, he “commenced the wheel” at the Johnson / Sperry mill in March and then


Testimonies and Secrets

worked at the Heckman mill in December. The following year, he built water wheels at the Joudrey mill in Crousetown and the Brady mill in Camperdown. In 1881, he even found time to go down to Salter’s Falls and build a wheel for Lad Burnaby (25 / 3 / 79; 15 / 12 / 79; 22–23 / 3 / 80; 1 / 11 / 80; 17 / 10 / 81). John Will’s reputation as a surveyor continued to grow in Crousetown, where he helped ix boundaries so that timber harvesting could go forward: Crouse Town Sept 9, 1876 Saturday … Christopher Vogler, John Vogler, Elkanah Crouse and I went back to the four mile march and run the line through between Vogler land and JW Crouse land till way beyond the Humph’s Hill. In 1878, John Will cut a road through the snow to the four-mile march. In the spring, he helped drive logs down Brown Branch and also Wallace’s Brook. In 1880 he built a camp and barn at the march and, in 1881 he spent January and February timbering there, and then at thaw pushed the logs down Wallace’s Brook (see Crousetown, 1883 map). By this time, John Will knew that he needed to convert his own mill to a gang, because the Kaulbacks and others were sluicing their logs through Crousetown to the gang mills on the lower Petite. John Will captured some of this business through part ownership in the Sperry mill, but his own mill needed to increase capacity in order to keep old customers and attract new ones. In September and October 1881, he took out the up-and-down frame and put in a gang wheel. Farming duties delayed him, but in early December, he wrote, “I hung a set of saws for the irst time in Crouse Town today” and then, a few days later, “We was working at our gang mill and got her ready to put the irst log through and done it well” (3, 6 / 12 / 81). For the next quarter-century, John Will’s most frequent entry would be “I was sawing and working at the gang. Done well.” And he was doing well. He had recreated and expanded the family mill business on the same site where it had begun seventy years earlier, and he had widened his investments and contacts in order to ensure a steady stream of business in the future.37 Even more remarkably, he had accomplished all of this while he was constructing a house for himself and his family.

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884 85

Building a House The houses … were born houses, not mere happenstances of board and mortar. They neither strutted nor sat stunned, as the bloodless houses do now. They didn’t dwell on themselves, but they knew themselves inside out. They were all big-boned, with the timbers hewn from trees in the family woodlot, and all plain-faced, as the square houses children draw, but each was distinct and as full of its own distinct communication as a person. Buckler, Ox Bells and Firelies, 185

Begun in 1877 and inished in 1880, John Will Crouse’s house was indeed “full of its own distinct communication,” as it rested imposingly above the cluster of dwellings surrounding the mills and dam. John Will built into the hillside ifty feet off the Petite-Italy Cross road, today a side lane, Ramey Road. Across the river was Sim Crouse’s home, built in 1859. The Ramey family lived downhill in the house formerly belonging to Gottlieb and Nancy Crouse. John Will’s uphill neighbours were Christopher and Mary Ann (Crouse) Vogler. Together, the Crouse, Ramey, and Vogler homesteads represented Crousetown’s core values – the determination to hold fast to the rugged terrain while at the same time proclaiming a message of prosperity and gentility to passers-by. John Will’s new house expressed these ideals in several ways. First, as a new sight in the eyes of neighbours, it posed a sharp contrast to the Crouse family’s humbler ancestral homestead on the hilltop. Second, in its classical Georgian form it was designed to impress any casual observer, but perhaps especially a prospective bride. Third, its loor plan and interior arrangements displayed a commitment to Victorian domestic values. By its tangible presence today, the house – “big-boned with the timbers hewn from trees in the family woodlot” – offers insight into the character of the builder and his community. John Will sited the new house on family land, but downhill from the Leonard Anthony Crouse home, where John Will and his ancestors had lived since the 1810s. The reasons for Leonard Anthony’s decision to build on the ridgeline – proximity to the most easily cleared land for planting crops, and the convenience of being able to log down to the river – no longer obtained. Deforestation of the upper slope had left the old house open to the north winds, and the cleared land, well fertilized after two generations of occupancy, could be more productively used for crops and orchards. By building downhill, John Will gained


Testimonies and Secrets

John Will Crouse house, 2012 (Author)

better protection from winter’s blasts and easier access to the mills where he earned his living. The loor plans show that John Will aimed to provide the reinements of contemporaneous Victorian homes, while at the same time addressing the shortcomings of the original Crouse dwelling – lack of privacy and cramped work space. In the new house, the kitchen and dining room were on the ground loor, the back part of which was dug into the hillside. It included a storage area and space for the chimney foundation, the equivalent of a basement. On the main loor, there were two parlours and a large bedroom and a coat room all connected by a hallway. On the third, or top, loor were three bedrooms. There were also storage rooms on both the main and top loors. The design comported with the standards of middle-class households of the time, although it lacked the regionally distinctive ive-sided dormer or “Lunenburg bump” over the front door. Otherwise, it resembled the more sizable houses then being built in towns throughout the province. With a footprint of more than 1000 square feet and over 2500 square feet of living space, it certainly stood out among the smaller frame houses then predominating in Crousetown.38 John Will planned each loor to serve particular functions. The practical work of heating the house and preparing food took place on the ground loor, which was cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter; the kitchen featured a large ireplace and bake oven. The formally furnished main loor featured wall-papered parlours, and wall and

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884


Floor plan of John Will Crouse house, 1878

ceiling mouldings that conveyed the family’s genteel aspirations. Both the ground and main loors welcomed visitors through elaborated entrances featuring narrow side windows. The ground loor entrance faced the Petite-Italy Cross road, and led into a hallway opening on the right side to the kitchen and on the left to the dining room. An open stairway in the ground loor hall ascended to the main loor, where it met the second entrance to the house from its uphill side. The main loor hall ran the width of the house, ending at a door to the balcony porch overlooking the road. An open stairway with balustrades ran from the main loor hall to the top loor with its three bedrooms. The size and scope of the project – a ten-room house with a barn, outhouse, and an adjacent workshop – were notable, as was John Will’s planning for the grounds and interior. He placed his workshop close to the kitchen door on the north. A new barn and other outbuildings were sited to the south, with separate drainage ditches running to the road. The ground loor storage room served both kitchen and barn, running


Testimonies and Secrets

the length of the house to a south-facing cellar door. The kitchen ireplace and bake oven, and a separate stove in the dining room sent heat throughout the house. There were also stoves in main loor parlours and bedroom; registers served the top loor bedrooms. Today the house itself looks much as it did when John Will inished it. The outbuildings are all gone, including the garage across the road, built in the 1930s for Harold Eikle’s car. A profusion of berry bushes on the hillside testiies to the former location of the barn and outhouses, and the ground around the barn and workshop still yields the artefacts of earlier times – hand-made nails, ox chains, mill and saw parts. Trees by the road now obscure the views of passersby, but the land surrounding the house has remained open. Thus, it is possible to imagine the site as it appeared to John Will Crouse as he began construction in the fall of 1878. John Will’s primary and most enduring challenge was to anchor the structure to the hillside. For that task, he required skilled help, and so we read that on 3 December 1877, “James Stewart came to split rocks.” For the next month, Stewart and John Will, helped by John Fancy, carved out the foundation. Stewart’s talent for dressing rocks has been noted in Hazel Bolivar’s history of Conquerall Mills: “Mr. James Stewart has left many monuments. He was a very proicient stone mason and the long slabs of split granite under the churches and other buildings are witness to his skill and painstaking work.”39 The rocks came initially from the Crouses’ land, but on 13 December, John Will noted, “our oxen hawled rocks from [the] Nauss farm.” Dragging these 60 cubic feet slabs of granite over rough country roads tested both men and beasts. To this day the pieces remain impressive – precisely hewn and set carefully into the hillside. With the foundation stones hewn, John Will stockpiled lumber through the spring and summer of 1878 so that he could proceed with construction after haying was completed in August. The back-breaking labour needed to carve out a basement and drainage conduits came irst; framing began in October. The men’s effort, in its entirety, resembled their exertions during the mill construction in 1874, with an intense opening phase followed by a lengthy endeavour to complete the work. The very brevity of John Will’s record testiies to the painful, draining nature of their labours: Crouse Town August 15, 1878 Thursday … commenced digging my sullar [cellar].

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884


Monday … I was working at my sullar and making dreen [drain] along the road. Stewart was dressing rocks. (26 / 8) Monday … Stewart and I was dressing rocks and splitting. Also John and the two boys Edward and Elkanah was hawling rocks all day. (2 / 9) Tuesday … Stewart and I laid the irst wall stone today. The boys was working taring down the old barn. (10 / 9) Friday … Stewart and I was building wall. John and the boys was digging at sullar and hawling rocks. (19 / 9) Saturday … we put up the rafters and got already to board in the reuf [roof]. (19 / 10) Friday … we was up Wallace’s Brook giting out some stones for chimney back. (8 / 11) Thursday … we was shingling and digging a trench back of new house. (14 / 11) Monday … I went down to the shore and baught 10 gal. of ish oil, came home and put it on my house roof. (18 / 11) Friday … Stewart and I put the chimly through the ruff. (29 / 11) Thursday … I was helping [Stephen] Dagley at my house inishing up stairs. (12 / 12) In four months, the foundation had been dug, and the building had been framed, shingled, and enclosed. Quite an accomplishment for a crew usually numbering no more than four! Of course, much work remained. In 1879, John Will and carpenter Stephen Dagley clapboarded siding and laid planed and square-cut loor boards. They continued working on the house in the fall of 1880, putting up lath and plastering (21 / 10 / 80). Drainage and additional well work separated barn and outhouse runoff from the house and provided fresh water inside the home (27 / 11 / 80). As late as the fall of 1882, John Will was “working on well” and “inishing stairs” (30 / 9 and 2 / 10 / 82). The construction


Testimonies and Secrets

period was lengthy because, as was the case when he built his mill, John Will had to keep up with other tasks: “Tuesday … we inished digging potatoes and lifted out twelve stumps and that is all we done today” (29 / 10 / 78). By setting the house on a raw hillside, John Will challenged nature in several ways, and nature fought back. First, heavy rains and snows produced high levels of ground moisture that encouraged rot – more so here because water from the slope ran beneath the kitchen despite John Will’s efforts to divert the low into an uphill ditch. Before the house was ten years old, John Will was routinely painting or replacing the ground loor – a ritual that has continued to this day. Since 1967, the dug well has been replaced, but there have been three kitchen loor replacements, the last installed in 2003. There is some reason to be optimistic about the latest replacement, as John Will’s ditch has been reexcavated and deepened. A second challenge to John Will’s achievement lay in the gravitational action in the hillside that sent and sends large rocks into the carefully laid foundation stones. The huge Enos Rock, once visible on the ridgeline behind the house, warned of the dangers that lay beneath the soil.40 The threat became a reality several years after John Will completed the house: “Tuesday it was quite a snowstorm and rain storm and blew ferful. I was helping Ken to put in logs. Then came home and to my grate surprise the end wall of my house fell down” (26 / 4 / 87). John Will repaired the wall, but the danger remained. In the 1990s rocks again began to press against the back wall, lifting the house off its foundation and threatening to push it down the hill. Ed Halliday from Cherry Hill excavated the culprits and poured concrete footings under the walls. John Will was a modest man in his dealings with others, but he may have conceded something to pride not only in the site he selected for the house, but also in fashioning its external appearance. Most noticeable is the large, double-sash, four-pane windows (5 × 2½ feet), each with its own cap, which looked out on all sides. Four windows aligned top to bottom faced the roadside, three were displayed on both the south and north sides, and two looked uphill to the west. Three somewhat smaller windows gave light to the top loor bedrooms. The visual impact was magniied by its proximity to the road and its height. Standing near enough to be seen by passersby and surrounded by fruit trees, it proclaimed the family’s comfort and success. The elevated parlours on the main loor allowed the Crouses to look down on the passing scene without themselves being seen, especially so in the morning

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884


when the sun glared on the large window panes. This vantage had the added beneit of giving those inside time to prepare for visitors. By contrast, passers-by could look at the house only leetingly as they had to keep their eyes on the steeply angled road in front of them or risk a misstep. The imposing character of the exterior was dramatically reinforced within the house by the nearly ten-foot ceilings on the main loor. The parlours and the large main loor bedroom were looded with light from the windows, whose sills were only eighteen inches from the loor. The height of the rooms is not easy to explain. Wood for fuel was free, but the time to cut and split it was an expense. John Will may have been happy to bear the cost, since it made a further statement about the family’s position in the community. The spacious parlours would be quite suitable for entertaining, especially for the musical evenings that were then becoming part of village life. There is some ambiguity in the loor plan. John Will refers alternately to “my house” and “our house.” Which was it? Probably, he didn’t know. One thing was certain: the composition of his family was changing. In 1879 John Will’s brother Ammiel (Am) married Lucy Brady and moved to Italy Cross, where her family had a milling and furniture business. The following year brother Edward married Lucy’s sister Margaret and also settled in Italy Cross.41 In the context of these developments, John Will apparently gave consideration to making the house suitable for two as yet unformed families – most likely, brother Ken’s and his own. In 1879, a second chimney was raised on the south half of the house, allowing each side to have its own heating plant (20 / 10 / 79). Rooms on the irst and second loors could have been separated, although there is no evidence that any actual partition took place. In fact, Ken had also begun to prosper and was looking elsewhere. In 1882 he bought timber land from Charles Eikle. Subsequently, he purchased Philip Hilton’s farm on the Petite road south of John Will’s new house. For John Will, the question of how the house would become a home remained unanswered. John Will’s mother Elizabeth and his younger sister Janetta lived in the new house for a while, but they too had other options. Elizabeth’s former home – the Leonard Anthony Crouse homestead on the hilltop – does not show up on the 1883 Church map of Lunenburg County. However, there are subsequent references to it in John Will’s diary, often as “Mother’s house,” and the entry for 22 August 1883 notes that “Ken and Mother moved in the old house.” That same


Testimonies and Secrets

year Janetta married Bridgewater merchant Herbert S. Hall and the couple established their home in the town. Thus, John Will’s new house appears to have been conceived, at least in part, as an advertisement of his availability – an invitation for some lady to become his partner in the work and enjoyments of the household. As the movements of Ken, Mother Elizabeth, and Janetta suggest, he had in fact already met her. Why had it taken him so long? Making a Home Sundays, you braided the mare’s tail, hung scarlet tassels from her blinders, sneaked out the sewing machine throw for a lap robe, and took the girl for a drive. A good trotter gave you a slight edge on your rivals. If you happened to have a real showy pacer the battle was all but won. Sometimes you just drove. Sometimes you went to the next settlement and had supper there. In the local eye this was taken as a pledge to each other almost as binding as a present. Buckler, Ox Bells and Firelies, 175

As a young man, John Will liked to impress female companions by racing his horse and buggy, but somehow it never led to the next step. Perhaps he remained a bachelor into his thirties because he had become too busy to go courting. In the early 1880s, the diary becomes terse almost to the point of disappearing. “Hawling” or “logging” or “working around house” sum up many days, and often there are not even observations about the weather. The intensity of his labour was notable. John Will started his gang mill in December 1881, and by April 1882 it was putting out 16,000 feet per day – eight times the average production of an up-and-down mill (13 / 12 / 81, 22 / 4 / 82). The increased capacity meant that more oxen were needed to haul trees from the woods and then cart the sawn lumber to Petite or Conquerall Bank. This activity in turn required more feed to sustain the animals. Haying and threshing “meshenes” were also needed in order to harvest expeditiously (11 / 10 / 81). Cattle-trading became a year-round pastime (11 / 9 / 81). Until the end of 1882, the farm and mill work was done by John Will, Ken, and John Fancy. But on 23 December, John Will wrote of a day of “trouble” when he and John Fancy “settled and I paid him two hundred dollars and he gave me a recite [receipt] clear of all dets, dues and

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884


demands up to date in the present [presence] thereof Edward Crouse.” John Will did not specify the nature of the dispute but it hit him hard. He spent Christmas weekend “alone … Mother and Ken was off” (25 and 26 / 12 / 82). In 1887, John Fancy would return to Crousetown and to his place in John Will’s house, but for the time being he was gone. Harold Eikle’s reminiscence placed him in North Dakota amidst the swelling migration to the prairies of Canada and the United States. John Will and Ken were left to work the farm and mill by themselves. Nevertheless, John Will’s failure to marry can’t be solely explained by the excuses of “too much work” or workplace turmoil. He had never been all work. From his days as a young-man-about-town in Salter’s Falls, he always found time for relaxation and very much enjoyed the company of women. True, he still berated himself for having too good a time. And he continued to advocate for temperance, and commended himself for staying away from tobacco: “I feel much better without it and think I look better too” (17 / 3 / 74). Self-hectoring aside, John Will took pleasure in sociable evenings with neighbours and especially in singing schools. A new pastime of the 1870s, the schools served as a venue for young people to meet each other. “William Fiendel and two sisters was here … and had a meeting for a singing school,” reads one entry. Soon John Will and his friends were gathering for evenings of instrumental music and singing (11 and 13 / 3 / 74). Sometimes these were Crousetown occasions, but John Will and others were also attracted to the Abraham and Lucy (Crouse) Hebb farm at Indian Gardens, where they enjoyed evenings with the talented family described by Hazel Bolivar in her history of Conquerall Mills: There were singing schools in the old days and the distance was never too great for those who belonged. It seems that most of the singing masters were Hebbs. At irst there was Sim Hebb. The dulcimer was much used in his school but when there were concerts, many comic songs were used. James Kaulbach was well remembered for his rendering of “Michael Schneider’s Party, Jim the Carter Lad and Kitty with the Buckles on Her Shoes,” and others … William A. Hebb (Billy Abraham) of Indian Gardens, father of music in Lunenburg Co., led bands in Mahone Bay, Bridgewater, New Germany and Caledonia. He taught singing school in Conquerall Mills, Hebbville, and other places. He built a ine hall, held concerts, ran a large farm, and had an orchestra of his own family and a few neighboring


Testimonies and Secrets young people. The group played at picnics, concerts and at Exhibitions. When they were tired of playing they sang.42

For John Will and his friends there were also casual enjoyments, ranging from neighbourly visiting to “candy party at Samuel Hilton’s,” to the annual Bridgewater Exhibition, where circus entertainment mingled with ox pulls and competitions among the women for the best cakes and preserves43 (14 / 2 / 73, 21 / 10 / 81). Occasionally, he went “down to the beach to the horse race” – probably Crescent Beach near Petite, where the sand lat stretched for over a mile. In the winter, there were horse-drawn sleigh races on the lakes around Bridgewater44 (15 / 8 / 79, 18 / 8 / 80). None of these occasions enabled John Will to meet his future wife. Horseback racing on the beach, as opposed to trotting on local roads, was primarily a time for male fraternization. At Indian Gardens and other singing schools, he sometimes escorted Billy Abraham’s sister, Matilda, but after 1878 there were no further entries for “Tillie” or “Tilda,” who never married. For John Will, a visit to the Hebb farm was always a pleasure, but he may have curtailed his calling due to awkwardness arising from their relationship.45 Other evidence of John Will’s courtships is scant. There is reference to “Miss Leadbetter” at Christmas 1880 and in the spring of 1881, but then nothing after this remark: “I drove Miss Leadbetter up to Wileville where she is going to teach schow [school] this summer” (24 / 12 / 80, 4 / 5 / 81). When the moment arrived, it may have taken him by surprise. Sixteen-year-old Frances Ann “Fan” Ramey was the younger sister of John Will’s next-door neighbour, Ben Ramey. She appears for the irst time in his diary on 20 July 1882: “Thursday … I went back to [Freeman] Bolivar’s after strawberrys. Bess Hilton and Fanny Ramey went with me. Had goot time, got home dark.” Writers have always recognized the romantic possibilities of berry picking. Louis Hémon’s popular novel Maria Chapdelaine portrays such a moment: “There is a ine clump over here,” said a voice. Maria’s heart beat faster as she rose and went toward François Paradis who was kneeling behind the alders. Side by side they picked industriously for a time, then plunged farther into the woods, stepping over fallen trees, looking about them for the deep blue masses of ripe berries … They sought again and made some happy inds: broad clumps of bushes laden with huge berries which they

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884 95 heaped into their pails. In the space of an hour these were illed; they rose and went to sit on a fallen tree to rest themselves.46

Did either young Fanny or John Will’s “heart beat faster” like Maria of early-twentieth-century Quebec? None can say, although John Will’s admission that he had a “goot time” was, for him, an expression of exuberance. The next mention of Fanny came a year later on 14 July 1883, amidst several other splotchy entries – tell-tale signs that John Will was nervous: “Saturday it was ine all day. I went over to Reverent Jordan’s and maried Fannie A. Ramey.” What happened to lead to this moment? Given John Will’s silence on the events leading up to the marriage, we can only rely upon circumstantial evidence and speculation. We do have pictures – not of bride and groom, but individual portraits that, though taken at different times, show something of each personality. Fan is shown standing with her half-sister Christy Ann (Fancy) Hebb seated in a tintype taken in the early 1880s. Fan appears very intense and would be so characterized for her entire life. Christy Ann, who helped Lucy Ramey raise Fan and her brothers, had, by this time married and left home; she retained a place of great esteem in family. John Will Crouse’s studio photograph, taken ifteen years later, circa 1900, shows a digniied though melancholic face marked by the effects of work and weather. In 1883, the year of the marriage, Fan was sixteen and John Will was thirty-nine. Fan looks young in the portrait taken with Christy Ann, so they no doubt made a disparate appearance as a couple that would have been remarked upon at the time. Appearances aside, Fan and John Will were well acquainted, and may have even begun pondering a future together in the year since they picked strawberries together. It is impossible to know what sealed their union, but two divergent story lines suggest themselves: elopement or forced marriage. Fan and John Will either wanted to get married and would let nothing stand in their way, or it was necessary because a child was on the way. Since their daughter, Elvira Regina Crouse, was born on 13 April 1884, nine months after the wedding, the latter scenario needs to be considered. There are several reasons to conclude that theirs was an elopement, although of a unique kind. The signs for elopement lie in the secretive, rushed way that the marriage ceremony was performed. Save John Will’s earlier entry about berry picking, there is no indication that a


Testimonies and Secrets

Frances Ann “Fan” (Ramey) Crouse, standing, with her half-sister, Christy Ann (Fancy) Hebb, ca. 1882 (Cathy Ramey)

courtship took place. Bess Hilton, their companion on that day, was twenty-seven years old and married to John Will’s neighbour, James Hilton. Her presence might suggest the friendly chaperone, nudging along a budding romance by keeping her distance. However, John Will’s subsequent diary entries make no mention of Fan, a reaction far different from the interest he expressed for his lady friends at Salter’s Falls in the 1870s. Nor, as in Buckler’s story, was there a “horse and buggy” courting ritual that involved the entire community. John Will recorded the marriage ceremony itself in one shakily written sentence, making no reference to any other “goot times” or to attributes of the bride that may have appealed to him. Not all weddings of this era were marked by elaborate ceremonies, but the absence of any prenuptial parties is remarkable. It may well be that Fan and John Will were aware that their mismatched ages and

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884


John Will Crouse, ca. 1900 (Author)

appearances would evoke comment. Beyond that, any diary entries or letters risked discovery and embarrassment. In this light, a strategy of silence would have made sense. For the prudent John Will Crouse, this was not a dificult strategy to pursue. What else might have encouraged them to consider elopement? It might be better to ask – who were they eloping from? Would members of either family have objected? Were there forces in the community that would block or disapprove of their union? John Will enjoyed the lifelong esteem of Fan’s brothers, who surely would have been gratiied that their sister had found a good provider, whatever his age or the surrounding circumstances. John Will’s own siblings had left home, and his mother Elizabeth seemed to accommodate change as it occurred. Family objections, if there were any, may have come from Fan’s mother, Lucy Ramey. During her lifetime, Lucy had experienced great personal pain and inancial distress. Her marriage to Solomon Ramey had been scarred by the horriic death of their young son Joshua in a


Testimonies and Secrets

ireplace accident. Sol’s cantankerousness and his severe asthma further compounded the tragic atmosphere of the household and burdened Lucy with medical debts following his death in 1876. Through much of this travail she had the help of her daughter Christy Ann from her irst marriage to James Fancy. Christy Ann married when Fan was young, but lived nearby, which allowed her to help raise the little girl. As Fan grew up in the 1870s, Lucy no doubt appreciated the support of Christy Ann and Fan, and may have hoped for continued assistance from her younger daughter. To have Fan set up housekeeping next door at the age of sixteen must have been hard for Lucy to bear. On the other hand, she could take reassurance from the fact that John Will never made any claim on Fan’s inheritance. Indeed, he helped Fan’s brothers pay the family debts, including those owed to Dr Gideon Barnaby, who had treated the elder Solomon. John Will and Fan may have decided that the best way to deal with Lucy’s objections would be to go ahead with the wedding and present her with the accomplished deed which, they could reasonably argue, was in the best interests of both families. Lucy Ramey played no discernible role in the newly-weds’ lives. When Fan needed help in childbirth, she called upon John Will’s mother, Elizabeth, not her own mother. In John Will’s diary Lucy Ramey appears only three times, all in 1890: “Gramey is very sick” (26 / 4); “Gramer Ramey died” (1 / 5); “Gramey Ramey buried today” (3 / 5). A more signiicant reason for the couple to elope may have been community opposition that was rooted in denominational politics. Methodists did not encourage marriage to “un-awakened persons.”47 The Ramey family was listed as Lutheran in the 1881 census and Fan also had connections to Anglicanism through Lucy Ramey’s relatives in the Fancy family. John Will was a loyal member of the Methodist Church in Petite – every year he bought a pew, and he often gathered subscriptions for the minister’s salary. However, despite the esteem in which he was held by the congregation, he would not have wanted to subject his young bride to censorious stares. A “mixed” marriage might have also led to a confrontation with the local Methodist minister. Disapproval of interdenominational marriages remained strong in Crousetown and throughout North America well into the twentieth century.48 And so the couple undertook their matrimonial journey from Crousetown to St James Anglican Church in West Dublin. The marriage record shows only that the witnesses were the venerable cleric Abraham Jordan “By License Church of England,” his wife Elizabeth, and Willard

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Publicover. The ceremony was probably brief, but, for Fan at least, quite meaningful. Having a quasi-established church to shield her from any unpleasantness that might have attended a village wedding was something to be grateful for.49 In later years, she joined the Church of England and insisted that John Will do the same. An additional beneit of this quick and quiet ceremony was that the couple avoided the celebrations of friends and neighbours – the rough folk customs such as pot-banging, glass-breaking, carousing, and bawdy songs that often went on for days.50 Another explanation for the abruptness of the wedding might connect the marriage to the birth, nine months later, of Fan and John Will’s only child, Elvira. This raises the possibility that Fan had a premarital liaison with John Will, or with someone else. In the event, she and John Will or she alone would have feared that she was pregnant and that any delay in the ceremony would encourage gossip or even ostracism within the community on that score alone. There may have even been some lesser degree of intimacy that created feelings of guilt or obligation and made either or both of them feel compelled to marry – a common scenario in the Victorian era and beyond. This possibility does not exclude the more practical reasons for elopement. And, there is evidence casting doubt on the likelihood of a premarital liaison. In the irst days after the marriage, Fan experienced considerable trauma: the marriage bed appears to have been a shocking event in the young woman’s life. Alternatively, she may have become overwhelmed as she realized the momentousness of the decision she had made. In any case, four days after the wedding, John Will wrote, “I was mowing part of the day. All well but my wife she was somewhat miserall [miserable]” (18 / 7 / 83). Given John Will’s habit of understatement, his observation probably described a tumultuous encounter between an inexperienced young woman and an older man, perhaps not that experienced himself. There is no evidence that John Will ever treated Fan with disrespect, even in later years when her anger became the deining feature of the marriage. Nor did he ever subscribe to demeaning stereotypes of women such as a poem of the time that began, “Woman’s a book of tiny size, designed to catch the coxcomb’s eyes.”51 Thus, it is not surprising that in time the marriage bond strengthened. A few days later, he signed off, “John W. Crouse & Wife in my arms at preasant” (21 / 7 / 83). Subsequent entries – “went to bet with good helth and vigor” and “I and wife feel pretty good tonight” – speak for themselves (26 / 10 / 83, 11 / 1 / 84).


Testimonies and Secrets

The ideal marriage, in John Will’s view, was that of his next-door neighbours Christopher and Mary Ann (Crouse) Vogler. They had lived in Crousetown since the 1830s, when they built or inherited a house on the land of Mary Ann’s parents, Philip and Henrietta (Morreau) Crouse. Two weeks after John Will and Fan were married, he observed the following under the heading “Helth and Happiness”: Christopher Vogler and wife are residence of Crouse Town. Who has been maried these last sixty two years. Has had four children and all mirried [married] about thirty years and still all living in good helth. Those old people are still living in good helth and able to go in the hay ield and work all day. The old man mows and the old woman rakes the hay as good as ever. They never hat any sickness or death in their imley [family]. It is certainly remarkable. (28 / 7 / 83) On 6 August, John Will reported, “I & Ken went to the Crouse place and mowed all Mother’s & Fanny raked and we got done about ive o’clock.” Clearly, Fan was accustomed to hard work, but, by the time of this entry, she was also expecting. As the couple awaited their baby, John Will expressed rare exuberance: “I am happy to have danced” [at Janetta’s wedding], he remarked (3 / 11 / 83). In March, he bought Fan eight yards of printed cotton, some “cented” soap and a pair of slippers (25 / 3 / 84). On 8 April, the midwife Hatty Vogler arrived. The entries proceed: Crouse Town April 12, 1884 Saturday it was very ine all day. I was iling a set of saws and getting ready for Monday sawing. Also had to go for the Doctor [George E. Drew] for my wife expecting & conined. He is with us to night. Also Hatty Vogler & mother. Monday it was ine all day. It was the irst day that I became father, my wife is conined with a young daughter and [I] was iling gang saws. Ken went down to the shore and braught me a barrel of lour and 25 lb sugar, 5 lb soap, 3 gal molasses and one teapot. We had Hatty Vogler with us today. (14 / 4) Tuesday it was pretty ine all day. We was sawing all day. We had Stephen Vogler & Benjamin Ramey helping us all day. We sawed

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884


almost 5000 feet. We had Hatty Vogler with us to day. My wife & child is in bed but is pretty well. (15 / 4) Monday it was still raney … Hatty Vogler was with us today. Fanny is unwell tonight. I have a cold also. (21 / 4) Friday it was rainy all day with wind south. We was sawing all day, done pretty well. We had Stephen Vogler with us today. Hatty Vogler left us to night. I paid her $2.50 for the time she was with us, 15 days. (25 / 4) Wednesday I was hawling out more manure, planting trees and grafting trees and cutting potatoes to plant. Mrs. Cook was working in our garden. (7 / 5) Monday I was working at the gang mill in the forenoon altering the conductor [log carriage]. Afternoon I was fencing my garden. Ken drove his oxen in the burnt woods. We had Allas [Alice] Harmon with us to day. Mrs. Fanny Crouse was working in the garden awhile today also put out a big wash. (26 / 5) John Will’s record of the birth of his daughter Elvira (Elvie) Regina Crouse is marked by the same understatement as his entry on his marriage. Regarding the wedding, there may have been reasons for abbreviation, but when the same reticence appears at the birth of his only child, his terseness speaks volumes. John Will’s emotions ran so deep that life-changing events frightened him to the point that he could almost not write them down. He took refuge in the familiar – observations about the weather and the demands of the mill – but entries still indicate that he feared for his unborn child. He knew of the high rates of infant and maternal mortality, but his additional concern was Fan’s prolonged and dificult labour. The midwife, Hatty Vogler, was summoned six days before the delivery. If all had been going routinely, she might not have sent John Will to get the doctor and summon his mother Elizabeth as well. No doubt John Will heard his wife’s groans and may have felt responsible for causing such pain. After the delivery when he wrote that Fan and child “is pretty well,” what he meant was “not so well.” And when Fan was “unwell tonight” that meant she was very sick. More telling than his notations on his work is that he asked Ken to go to the store for him so that he could remain close to Fan and the baby,


Testimonies and Secrets

whose condition appeared uncertain. Six weeks after Elvie’s birth, he warmly welcomed a healthy “Mrs. Fanny Crouse” back to the world of gardening and domestic work. John Will’s distracted comments may have also come from his sense that he was helping in the only way in which he could – inancially. He did so by providing Fan with what was, for the time, considerable obstetrical assistance. The delivery was attended by Dr George E. Drew, later renowned as a pioneer of the Caesarean section operation, and two midwives – Hatty Vogler and his mother. We do not know what he paid Dr Drew, but Hatty Vogler received $2.50 for her seventeen-day stay, which extended ten days past Elvie’s arrival. And in May, Alice Harmon and Mrs [Sophia] Cook were assisting Fan in the garden and, no doubt, with infant care as well. This network of care and support exempliies what one historian has called “uniquely female rituals [that] drew women together during every stage of their lives … Women revealed their deepest feelings to one another, helped one another with the burdens of housewifery and motherhood, nursed one another’s sick, and mourned one another’s dead.”52 Such connections might be said to describe Fan’s coninement in 1884. Hattie Vogler, the Harmon sisters, and Fan may have “revealed their deepest feelings to one another.” On the other hand, after Hattie Harmon and her sister Nettie married into the Sim Crouse family as the spouses of Willett and Gideon, rivalry broke out between Hattie and Fan, and their differences tested the chords of civility within the village. Also, the absence of Lucy Ramey during her daughter’s pregnancy suggests the picture of a lonely woman left outside of any intimate circle that may have existed. In the summer of 1884, Fan needed all the help she could get. On 11 July, John Will noted, “Rev. Tyler baptized my daughter Elvira Regina Crouse today.” Shortly thereafter, the child got very sick “with direah” to the point that John Will despaired: “Our baby had quite a cring spell. I think she will die” (22, 28, 29 / 7). On 30 July, John Will “seen the doctor & got some medsein [medicine] for wife & child.” In these times, child mortality was distressingly common, as John Will knew from the loss of his own siblings in the 1850s. Earlier in 1884 he noted, “One of Joseph McGregor’s daughters is buried today” (24 / 1). Edward Crouse’s three-year-old daughter Jessie died in 1885 (12 / 11 / 85), while Ammiel and Lucy [Brady] Crouse lost three of their children, two as infants and one, W. Ammiel, at the age of ive.

John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884


As Fan and John Will struggled to protect their daughter, they had the assistance of Sophia Cook and Hattie Harmon. But the strain must have grown unbearable, and Fan suffered major depression. Sometime in late 1884, she wrote the following poem on a separate sheet of paper inserted in the diary. There is no heading although two phrases, “the Savior is here” and “Salvation is free,” were written on the margin: My hour is come and angels round me wait To take me to their glorious happy state Where free from sickness death and every pain I shall with God in endless pleasure reign. Thransporting thought Thou Dearest man adieu I feel no sorrow but in leaving you. Oh thou my comfort though and onely care In these last words my kindness I’ll declare In truth in constancy in faithful love Few could you equal none superior prove. Compelled by frequent sickness to complain You strove to lessen and assuage my pain. A tender care you never failed to show A constant sharer in my present woe. More I would say my gratitude to own but breath forsakes me and my pulse is gone. Adieu Dear man – o spare Thy lood of greif and of thy health take care My blessing to my babe: thou wilt be kind To the dear infant whome I leave behind train them to virtue piety and truth And form their manners early in their youth. Farewell to all who now on me attend The faithful servant and the weeping friend The time is short until we meet again To Christ to share the glorious of his reign. Fannie Crouse

What explains Fan’s despair? She had been ill frequently since Elvie’s birth, and the burden of carrying for the delicate child had been considerable. Then there is the line, “form their manners early in their youth,” the plural perhaps indicating that she was pregnant


Testimonies and Secrets

again and anticipated dying in childbirth. The usage might have been inadvertent, but it could be that Fan was considering suicide, because she was suffering from what we know today as postpartum depression. In any event, she must have alarmed John Will, and led him to search her belongings and discover the poem. A major confrontation ensued: Crouse Town Nov 29, 1884 Saturday … I was home all day … Seen to my night work and went after my Ken, but I did not get him. Hapned to stay pretty long and made my Dear wife very cross, so much that she would not speak at all. Only one word and that was I wish you would leave my book alone. That is all she wispred [whispered] as yet. Very plesent [pleasant] indeed. Relations evidently remained strained and illed with sadness through the holidays: Journal of Time Dec 25, 1884 Thursday Chrismess day, it was a little snow just that the ground was covered and froze a little all day with wind north. I was home all day did not do any thing but tend my cattle. Ken & Mother was up to nettes [Janetta’s], and we was all alone all day. It was a very dull chrismest. Last night elva cried most all night. Fannie & me up with her and I feel bad all day. The Lord bless and keep us through all these troubles. The year before, John Will had also remarked that Christmas was “a dull day.” Perhaps, his melancholia or his strict interpretation of the Sabbath guaranteed the fact. On the other hand, his mother, Elizabeth, and siblings Ken and Janetta were equally committed believers, and they were always glad to celebrate the holiday. In any case, depression gripped the household. John Will stayed up to help with the baby, whose distresses no doubt made him think that festivities were inappropriate. It took years for Fan and Elvie to convince him that Christmas could be a time of joy. Over time the mood began to lighten. John Will bought a parlour organ for the house, and Herbert and Janetta Hall dropped by to play it. A few months later, he wrote, “Edward Crouse was here this evening and plaid the organ for us” (20 / 12 / 84, 12 / 3 / 85). John Will’s yearend soliloquy strikes a new note of hope:

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Crouse Town Dec 31, 1884 Wednesday it was very warm all day … Came home and seen to my cattle. We are all well to night. I feel very thankful to Him that rules and gids [guides] us for the Grate Blessings. Farewell old year, it is most gone with all its joys and happiness never to be recald. I hope and trust if spaired [spared] to see a new year I & wife shall bee better. The Lord Bless us and our Dear little Daughter. “Our dear little daughter” – as long as Elvie was safe and happy there was nothing to worry about: “We are all pretty well tonight. Elvie is eating her supper” (2 / 1 / 85). Six weeks later, John Will “inished Elvie’s parlor crib” (17 / 2). Next, the doting father guided the little girl’s hand to write “elva” in the diary (14 / 3). Soon we read, “Elva is sitting on the Table” and then, John Will “seen to Elva till Fanny went down to Mrs. McGregor’s to get dress cut” (1 / 4 and 13 / 7). After Elva visited him in the mill, he wrote: “she lifts me up” (1 / 2 / 86). The little girl named herself “Lebby” and in the diary it became “Lebby and Pappa” (19 / 6 / 86). She got sick in the spring of 1887, but after a week, John Will noted, she “is better and oh how glad I feel” (5 / 4 / 87). Fan, too, felt happier and began to bestow domestic reinements on  the house. In 1885 Melissa Huey worked with Fan for a month, irst spinning sheep wool and then papering the dining room (30 / 6, 1 / 7 / 85). John Will purchased new furniture from his brother Edward’s in-laws at the Brady mill (30 / 1 / 86). Mrs Sophia Cook continued to help out in the garden and even sheared sheep in the spring of 1886 (1 / 5 / 85; 14, 22 / 4 / 86). Fan was only nineteen in 1886, but she was already giving form to the domestic order. The house that John Will had built was becoming a home. From this place the family would inluence the local community and all would become part of the larger changes reshaping the Atlantic world.

Chapter Three

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900

Yes, ax, scythe, and peavey, each asking a different rhythm of your hands, were the three main taskmasters. But they were not all. There were the hack, the grub hoe, the crowbar … And the ground hornets stung you when you mowed into their papyrus nest. And the rocks scraped you. And the bushes scratched you. And the rain turned the peak of your cap into pulp. And the snow water grayed the toes of your larrigans. And the sun and the wind scored your skin … Yet for all this, you stayed intact. You were never brought to the state when that dreadful stillness, like the stillness of the past, draws its face on the face of everything. The tide never went out to leave a rock pool of you drying up on the beach. Time was neither before you nor behind you: you were exactly opposite the present moment. It made a rushing sound that the sound of your consciousness was in total chorus with. And there were all those times when, almost as with the children, the moment would suddenly petal back in a beautiication of itself: so that being exactly as you were, at the very focus of it, would send the breath of life lashing through you like a shooting star. These moments were only sentences, and scattered ones, in the book of your life – but added up, they formed its vital core. Buckler, Ox Bells and Firelies, 102–3

Ernest Buckler’s memoir of early-twentieth-century life in the Annapolis Valley could equally well describe John Will Crouse’s village of

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


a generation earlier. Even in its more prosaic entries, John Will’s diary carries a sense of being “exactly opposite the present moment,” yet always conscious of the “rushing sound of time.” Within his world, staying “intact” was the victory, and the laurels of battle were to be found in instances of self-recognition “lashing through you like a shooting star.” Buckler acknowledges both the force of approaching time and the “dreadful stillness” of the past, but he focuses on those intermittent pauses when eternity entered the lives of those labouring through the seasons – the moments of self-awareness John Will records in his diary. Like us, John Will, Fan, and Elvie lived simultaneously in intersecting realms of experience. A single day might move between backbreaking manual labour and a community gathering, or a political meeting, civic duty, and a church service. Then there were special occasions such as a neighbour’s funeral or a moment of diversion with a newspaper or helping Elvie with her schoolwork. Also like us, the Crouses lived in an era of rapid simultaneous economic, social, and cultural change in the Western world and beyond. Unlike us, their lives were still shaped by the same seasonal forces that had governed the days of their ancestors. This chapter opens with comment on the major forces that framed the family’s existence. The remainder explores the quotidian aspects of their individual conditions – their work and play, their worship, and their politics. The John Will Crouse family inhabited both the dynamic and the more static dimensions of local and regional life. Thus, the closing section evaluates how they fared relative to their neighbours near and far. The different strands of the family’s life, while separately discussed, were not really separate at all, but woven together to constitute their lives, as different kinds of ilaments constitute ours. Parallel Times If local economies and individual lives remained rooted in the seasons, there was no shortage of voices urging each citizen to assume a more comprehensive interest in the history of the young Dominion. Following Confederation in 1867, the future remained in doubt. Canada, Peter Waite has written, was “a hard country,” a dificult place to inhabit and a challenging nation to govern: Its people have lived between a habitable, tractable south where, one might say, anything is possible, and an uninhabitable, intractable north where nothing is possible. Canadians live in the shadow of the great


Testimonies and Secrets

impossible … It was dificult enough to put Canada together … but making it work was the appalling task that faced Canada from 1874 to 1896.

The drama of saving the Dominion from becoming, in another historian’s words, “a corpse shrouded with snow” centred on the efforts of Conservative prime minister John A. Macdonald to implement his National Policy (NP). Essentially, the NP enacted into law the party’s faith that high tariffs and the development of the Canadian Paciic Railroad would foster urban and industrial development. In so doing, Conservatives hoped to confound those who advocated annexation to the more rapidly growing United States.1 The completion of the Canadian Paciic in 1885 represented an important step towards nationhood. However, Canadians like John Will Crouse who laboured in the “unprotected” industries of farming and milling disagreed with the Conservative premise that prosperity depended upon tariff protection mainly for manufactured goods. Their opposition gradually coalesced to spur the development of the Liberal Party, which was dedicated to free trade. In national politics, Liberals were largely out of power until late in the century, but they enjoyed success at the local and provincial levels, and, on occasion, found ways to limit Conservative inluence in Ottawa. The pretensions of Conservatives to be the party of national unity were also weakened by their failure to ameliorate religious and ethnic conlict. Differences between French Catholic Quebec and the mostly Protestant and English-speaking provinces remained sharp, as did those between evangelicals and Anglicans.2 Conservative political doctrine faced yet another challenge in that it depended upon an obedient working class to run the factories and mines. Management fought unionization successfully, but continued to be vexed by the vicissitudes of the labour marketplace. Canada faced increasing dificulty holding on to its workforce because of the magnetic power of American industries and cities with their higher wages and lower living costs. Goldwin Smith’s Canada and the Canadian Question (1891) argued that average Canadians suffered from an elitist governing class and would do better if Canada was reconstituted under the American lag. Recent scholarship has documented the extensiveness of late-nineteenth-century emigration to the United States, which went well beyond the movement of Maritime and Québécois peoples to the “Boston States.” Another migratory stream lowed from Ontario to the urbanizing areas of the American Midwest. In 1880, Anglo-Canadians

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


made up over 20 per cent of the foreign-born populations of Detroit and Minneapolis. Within the Dominion, apprehension grew that the lure of opportunity to the south would eventually lead to de facto annexation, an idea that has surfaced periodically over the years.3 The strength of regional loyalties further complicated the efforts of both parties to shape national programs, as Peter Waite has noted: “Size and geography and history all emphasize regional identities; to superimpose upon these a national existence is political audacity that takes persistence, energy – perhaps faith.” D.W. Meinig’s geographically centred history of North America suggests that Canadians of the late nineteenth century still identiied themselves primarily by their residency in one of four regional societies – the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, and a vaguely-deined “West.”4 Each was preoccupied with its own issues, as, for example, Quebec’s effort to build “La nation Canadienne.” Other historians have gone further to question the existence of regional identities, especially if these implied a uniied approach towards political or economic policy. J. Murray Beck has stressed the lack of cooperation among the Atlantic Provinces.5 Fierce political debates further manifested themselves within each of the provinces. In Nova Scotia, the arc of industrial development, particularly coal and steel production, reached across the top of the Province from the border at Moncton (New Brunswick) to Springhill and on to Sydney Mines.6 There, and along the trunks running west from Halifax, lay the main sources of Conservative strength. Conversely, on the South Shore and elsewhere, timber and the isheries dominated, and Liberal politics lourished. Here too was the greatest nostalgia for earlier times when trade reciprocity treaties with the United States had stimulated commerce. The timber business might beneit or languish as a result of trade negotiations, but in any event it remained tenaciously local – “family-held and community based,” in Larry McCann’s words.7 Larger forces also shaped debate on social issues in the Maritimes. As the momentum of Canadian history shifted westward, Nova Scotia’s proportion of Dominion population dropped steadily, falling below 10 per cent for the irst time in the 1880s and moving steadily lower in the decades that followed. Was this a cause for concern or an occasion to feel relief? The answer might depend upon where one lived. Those who lived in the parts of the Maritimes labelled “backward” might be glad to avoid the social conlicts that characterized American cities, as well as the rapidly growing parts of the Dominion. In Canada’s larger urban areas, immigrants from Ireland and central Europe clashed with

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each other and with descendants of earlier settlers. In Halifax, by contrast, there were only muted versions of social conlicts such as the “school wars,” pitting Protestant advocates of “non-denominational” public schools against French and Irish Catholic minorities seeking public funds for parochial schools.8 The chequered nature of these larger changes is woven into all facets of the Crouses’ story. As residents of a small South Shore village, they and their neighbours stood just to the side of the rushing forces of industrialization and urbanization that engulfed the eastern half of North America, including the northern tier of Nova Scotia. Three factors deined their experience of change. First, tradition persisted as, for example, in the ways local economies connected with each other and with the larger marketplaces. Second, an inlux of new media explained the wider world, but did not greatly change local viewpoints. Third, the outmigration of local people tended to stabilize, rather than disrupt, Crousetown’s economy and social life. Throughout the nineteenth century, John Will and his neighbours farmed and milled in an environment that lay near, but still outside, the vectors of railroad-centred development in the province. These bands of steel ran in three directions, all out of Halifax. The irst headed down the Annapolis Valley to Yarmouth; the second went north into the coal country of Pictou and Antigonish counties; and the third ran west towards New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. Joan Dawson’s Historical Atlas of the Maritime Provinces shows that the South Shore from Bridgewater to Yarmouth was outside of these corridors, and this would remain the case until the early twentieth century.9 This isolation should not be overstated. By 1878, the Nova Scotia Central Railway, a spur line connecting Lunenburg and Bridgewater to the Annapolis Valley, had been proposed, though it would not begin operation until 1889.10 Also, the existing mercantile economy of the South Shore retained its traditional lines of coastal and international maritime transportation serving both commerce and the travelling public. These sea lanes, stimulated by trans-Canada rail connections, improved steadily during the late 1800s with the addition of larger steam-powered vessels and more regular coastal service linking smaller ports to Halifax, Boston, and the Caribbean. Internal transport along the South Shore had improved somewhat from the rough roads of earlier times. By 1860, when John Will Crouse began his seasonal journeys to Salter’s Falls, the Bridgewater-Liverpool stage made a stop near the Burnaby Mill. However, because the service

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


was irregular and expensive, he often walked. It was not uncommon to see people hiking the roads barefoot, carrying their shoes to save leather and look proper once they got to town. In such a world, change came slowly. The Province built a steel bridge over the mouth of the Petite in 1891, but did not construct a durable bridge over Wallace’s Brook in Crousetown until 1904.11 In 1895 John Will and Fan were still walking the twenty-mile round-trip to Bridgewater in the muddy season and, as  late as 1909, John Will proclaimed the Bridgewater road “ferful” (15 / 8 / 04, 20 / 3 / 95, 30 / 3 / 09). Thus, older patterns of seacoast-oriented trade and exchange continued to predominate. The mixed farming and milling economy powered by oxen and water, and doing its business at general stores, mills, and shipyards, had achieved a seemingly timeless character. Bridgewater, the largest nearby town, boasted a population of more than 2000 by 1881, but the combined population of Petite Riviere, West Dublin, and Italy Cross was still larger and would remain so until the 1910s. To the north, Halifax enhanced its position in the Atlantic metropolitan system, serving as a focal point for transatlantic communications and as an expanding port with rail connections to the west. As such, it continued to absorb whatever surpluses of lumber or agriculture the province’s farms and smaller ports did not export directly to the West Indies and elsewhere.12 The routines of travel reinforced the sense that time and change moved slowly. It was not necessary for John Will Crouse to travel far in order to participate in the larger trade network of the South Shore. The merchants who purchased his lumber and sold him groceries, appliances, tools, and dry goods were all located nearby, principally in  Petite. He spent his entire life within a twenty-mile radius of Crousetown. The exception, which proves the point, was a ive-day trip to the Annapolis Valley in 1882. Leaving Crousetown on July 11th, he stayed at farmhouses in “Jurmany” (New Germany), New Albany, and Middleton. He then delivered some wooden cases to “Naplos town” (Annapolis Royal) and came home in a day, “all the way in thirteen hours” (11–15 / 7 / 82). New media provided a second means for learning about the industrial economy, while keeping it at arm’s length. Since the early nineteenth century, Lunenburg County’s Germanic culture – centred upon the decorative arts, the Lutheran Bible, and orally transmitted stories and traditions – had been giving ground. In its stead came what might be described as a variant of British North American culture featuring

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English-written Bibles, missionary publications, school primers, metropolitan magazines, and various newspapers and books popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Two works still in the Crouse library are Outlines of British History (1885) and an 1898 edition of The Poetical Works of William Cowper, the eighteenth-century early Romantic poet and hymnodist. Other publications arriving by mail included encyclopedias, books on current events, and syndicated journals, such as the People’s Home Journal and Hearth and Home. The John Will Crouses, like thousands of other families in the hinterlands of North America, could read about the new factories and cities without experiencing them directly. Periodicals, books, and lithographs enabled them to travel “virtually” – to shape larger allegiances at a distance from crucibles of change. Within this world, John Will’s greatest attachment was to the British Empire and the Crown. His diary entries, as well as the periodicals and pictures still hanging in the house, reveal an unabashed anglophile. Over the front door hangs a reproduction of the famous painting showing General James Wolfe’s soldiers vanquishing Montcalm’s army on the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec. This event symbolized British imperial strength, while also signifying the issure between French- and English-speaking Canadians that remained deep over the years. Regarding the British Empire of his own era, John Will absorbed popular enthusiasm for the Boer War, and “ordered South African war book from Enos Kaulback.” In his parlour hangs the well-known print of a British soldier arriving home from the Boer War to comfort his weeping mother, who had resigned herself to the worst. John Will noted Empire Day as well as “our Queen’s [80th] burthday” (5 / 3 / 00, 24 / 5 / 99). The family commemorated the monarchy by hanging portraits of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII – and, later, the young Queen Elizabeth – in the front rooms where they remain to this day. John Will Crouse’s loyalties exemplify the expanding inluence of British political and cultural institutions that set Canada apart from the United States as much as any demographic or socio-economic disparities.13 John Will’s efforts to achieve historical understanding led him in two different directions. In his library is Edwin Emerson’s A History of the Nineteenth Century Year by Year (1902), an account weighted heavily towards politics and warfare. At the same time, he had an intense interest in local events, epitomized by his purchase, at considerable expense, of Mather Byles DesBrisay’s History of the County of Lunenburg (second edition, 1895). A mixture of oral histories, community sagas,

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


short biographies, reprinted public records, reports of weather events and shipping disasters, DesBrisay encouraged his readers to think and even write about their own past. John Will admired DesBrisay’s comprehensiveness and narrative ability, but he also shared the author’s interpretation of the displacement of the Acadians and the Mi’kmaw by John Will’s ancestors, the “Foreign Protestants.” DesBrisay’s history portrayed Aboriginals as cruel “savages” for their opposition to early settlement, but then transformed them into a “much neglected people” in the nineteenth century: “While the beneits they derive from the civilization around them are small, their hunting-grounds have been destroyed … and they have been made familiar with vices to which they were formerly strangers.” DesBrisay remembered the French settlers of the La Have area as follows: “The French have gone – we hope to ‘the glory of regions celestial,’ but Fort Point, on which stands the harbor lighthouse, and the rivers retaining the names they gave them, will always remind us of our predecessors in possession.”14 Through DesBrisay and other publications, John Will and his contemporaries established an uneasy relationship with modernity. They celebrated the British Empire as well as their own ancestors, even though both had committed acts of violence against native peoples. Newspapers might be expected to take their readers beyond the eclecticism of political chronicles and local history. However, the “noosepaper” John Will reported reading in 1872 retained its scattered approach until late in the century. The Liverpool Transcript, Nova Scotia and Bridgewater Times, Lunenburg County Times, and La Have Gazette reported on the 1876 Hayes-Tilden presidential race in the United States, the assassination of Czar Alexander II of Russia in 1883, and the murder trial of Lizzie Borden in 1892. Remaining space was largely taken up by patent medicine ads, notices of shopkeepers’ wares, syndicated articles on farming techniques (ox breaking, potato planting, etc.), and syrupy moral tales.15 Local news – severe weather events, election contests, and shipping and hotel arrivals and departures – did not go unreported, but were often tucked in between ads and stories from the larger world. Substantive reporting on local issues, even informative obituaries, did not appear until the twentieth century. John Will absorbed the press’s fascination with war and disaster. He  noted the “grate earthquake in San Francisco” (4 / 5 / 06), while also purchasing two books, still in the family library, describing the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, lood of 1889 and The Story of the Great

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Disaster at Springhill Mines (1891). The settlement of the Russo-Japanese War elicited the following droll remark: “Piece [peace] Treaty between Rusia & Japnce sined. Said the war cost nine hundred million dollars. Wars is costly” (20 / 9 / 05). Another offhand comment appeared to express ambivalence about his identity as a Canadian. His reaction to Louis Riel’s Rebellion of 1885 – the culminating dispute between the Dominion’s English-speaking majority and the Metis or French-Aboriginal peoples in the Northwest Territories – was this: “There is quite a time in the northwest between the half bread & indians. The troops left Halafax the 12 of April to go to Canada” (15 / 4 / 85). The word “Canada,” when used to deine the ive provinces in the Confederation (1867), suggested something other than one’s homeland. Especially for those who opposed the union, the word meant Canada East (Quebec) and Canada West (Ontario). John Will’s remark shows that he, like many in the Maritimes, was not entirely sure that the Dominion was a real and lasting entity.16 Paradoxically, the third reason for rural Nova Scotia’s peculiar ability to resist change sprang from change itself – speciically, from the often wrenching migratory experiences of the younger generations. Between 1880 and 1930, a half-million people, many of them young men and women, left the Maritimes for the United States and western Canada. Some went gladly, but others left with heavy hearts as in the traditional and still popular ballad, “Farewell to Nova Scotia”: Farewell to Nova Scotia, the sea-bound coast, Let your mountains dark and dreary be. For when I am far away on the briny ocean tossed, Will you ever heave a sigh and a wish for me?17

Many migrants from Lunenburg County were caught up in this movement and their lives changed dramatically in new places. Paradoxically, however, the complexity of migration contributed to the slowness of change in their villages of origin. Some earned money elsewhere and then came home and reintegrated into their old communities. After prospering in the United States as young men, Bob Bolivar and Beech Crouse returned to Crousetown to build houses, raise families, and establish local businesses. Also, by choosing to come back, they reassured those who had stayed out of the maelstrom that they had made the right decision. The migrant’s impact could be far-reaching even if he or she never came back to stay, as happened in the case of Solomon Ramey Jr, Fan

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


and Ben’s older brother. Solomon had left Crousetown for British Columbia in 1888, and established himself as a foreman at the Hastings mill that was logging off the future site of the city of Vancouver. Known there as “Saul Reamy” or “Reamie,” he helped to build the large Hastings camp at Rock Bay on Vancouver Island. A pioneer in the use of donkey engines to pull large trees down to the skid roads and mills, he had a “line horse” named Jerry who could walk on a log and chew tobacco. Saul Reamy was famous for the loyalty he gave to and received from his crew. One old section hand whom Saul had befriended left him $20,000. In his own mind Sol was a self-made man, and did not hesitate to curse out the nascent inluence of welfare programs, once telling his brother Ben that the Paciic Coast was “the worst Socialist place I know.”18 On numerous occasions, Sol’s wealth rescued his family back home. Without his extensive purchases of Crousetown timberlands, it is dificult to see how the Ben Ramey family could have remained on the homestead. John Will and Fan also beneited greatly from his generosity in later years. By 1900, Sol Ramey Jr was long gone from Crousetown. John Will was ifty-six, and his best days as a millwright were behind him. His daughter Elvie had become a young woman and a social butterly. However, the course of seasonal work in the village had remained much the same. Relying on the diary entries for the decades of the 1880s and 1890s, it is possible to imagine something close to an “average year,” even though no such thing ever existed. Because the Crouses and their neighbours lived close to the harmonies and dissonances of land and weather, nature itself shaped the routines of life far more than it did for the city dweller. Thus, none of the distant changes diminished the family’s awareness of individual moments – “sentences, and scattered ones, in the book of your life” – that were attached by memory to particular times and places. Oxen: The Constant Companions It started at the brisk of dawn when you took the lantern from its hook in the cellarway, raised the globe with your thumb, put a match to the wick, and picked up the milk pails for the barn. It ended when you made your inal trip to the barn that night, took the meal tubs from the oxen’s mangers, rugged the horse, came back to the kitchen and blew the lantern out. Buckler, Ox Bells and Firelies, 89–90 The oxen … have carried the heavy load of the advance of European civilization. Wherever new land has been broken they have broken it, panting and


Testimonies and Secrets

pulling knee-deep in the soil before the ploughs, the long whips in the air over them. Where a road has been made they have made it; and they have trudged the iron and tools through the land to the yelling and shouting of the drivers, by tracks in the dust and the long plains, before there ever were any roads. Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa, 273

In Nova Scotia, as in Kenya and throughout the British Empire, they were always there. Before the motor age, little could go forward without them; oxen were the stump-lifters, road-clearing machines, tractors, and trucks of their day. The James / Anderson illustrated history captures the centrality of the animal in John Will Crouse’s world: If you have ever heard the sound of ox-bells, you are likely to remember them forever. Here where I live in southwestern Nova Scotia, there are thousands of people who can simply close their eyes and hear that melodious jangling that accompanied them through much of their earlier years. It’s a playful noise that suggests a gentler time when machines did not dominate the soundscape of our farms and woodland. And it’s a sound that frustrates me, as a photographer, because it cannot be translated into the silver halides and color dyes of my medium. Yet, inwardly, I smile when I recall the day this sound irst captured me.

Later, James visits a farmer who still used oxen: In the soft glow of kerosene light, we sip tea made from the kettle on the big woodstove and talk of oxen. As the hour slides by, we speak of a time when dozens of teams a day would haul “sea dung” (seaweed) off the beach for farm ields, when strings of oxen freighted vegetables to town, when families kept several pairs, the boys “breaking” salable young steers … The structure of time dissolves. We are sharing an hour in the 1990s that has collapsed into the 1920s, the 1890s. For days afterwards my immediate sense of things is shaky.19

In pictures and text the authors track this elusive past by dramatizing the “size, power, docility, and value” of the oxen. In all their variety – Hereford, Durham, Simmental, Ayrshire, Limousin, Chianina – we see teams bending to the tasks of spring ploughing, disc harrowing, sod rolling, and manuring. Recalled one farmer: “Well, most everybody had manure. It was farms them times. Most every barn they’d have a pair of oxen, well, three or four cows … some young cattle as they came

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


along … and they all had manure to put on the land.” In the winter, the  oxen pulled specially built double sleighs down frozen forest paths and across iced-over lakes and ponds, hauling trees down to the mills. A set of clamps and chains called “steel dogs” were used for larger pieces. In July and August, teams pulled what John Will called “haying meshenes” across the ields, while a singled-yoked ox might plough the garden.20 Oxen were more than beasts of burden: they were centres of sociability. On Good Friday there was a “country ox parade,” and in late summer ox-pull competitions were a highlight of county expositions. The affection of the teamsters was real: “I know oxen is wonderful things in my life. I was here a couple of weeks without ’em, why I was lost. I had to go buy another pair. And that’s the way I guess I’ll feel til I can’t get around to look after ’em.” In Crousetown, Edwin Eikle, husband of Elvie (Crouse), preferred his cows to human company, and one of Terry James’s sources suggests that such affection was not unusual: “They seem to like the cattle. I don’t know whether it’s their fathers before them had oxen or what. I don’t know.”21 Ox trading was a year-round activity. One farmer noted: “Everybody had a pair. You could sell your oxen today, and you could go out and buy another pair and have them home the same day.”22 John Will was always on the lookout – in 1881, swapping two young oxen, called steers (castrated bulls), for Samuel Oxner’s pair and a sleigh and $50.00. Soon after, he completed a three-way trade with the Joudreys and the Hirtles (19 / 11, 21 / 12 / 81). A decade later, he was still at it, trading with Ben Ramey in 1891 and 1893 (2 / 12 / 91, 18 / 2 / 93). In 1900 he reported going “to [Petite] riviere … looking for steer trade” (19 / 12 / 00). Sideline occupations developed accordingly. Ben Ramey drove oxen to “Halafax” for trade or butchering (13 / 12 / 92, 24 / 7 / 93). He often returned with steers that he could break and then resell (22 / 1 / 96). John Will’s brother Ken kept a small blacksmithing shop where he shod John Will’s oxen, among others; John Will reciprocated by helping out on Ken’s farm and providing him with shingles and other goods (7, 10 / 12 / 98). Breeding posed challenges. Cows in heat were dificult to control, and pasture fencing was often rudimentary. “Accidents” were everpresent possibilities, resulting in mixed breeds and neighbourly discord. Charles Eikle and Jacob Kaulback developed stud services on their farms, with Kaulback eventually predominating. John Will sent “Dott,” “Kilburney,” “Dolly,” or “Buty” out to Kaulback’s farm when the time


Testimonies and Secrets

came (15 / 4 / 93; 2 / 5, 15 / 6 / 94; 11 / 7 / 95). The animal control problem never disappeared completely. “Look out … for Daisy or Flora or Ashie,” he warned (30 / 8 / 00; 26 / 5, 9 / 10 / 03). John Will continued to castrate his own calves, but Kaulback’s service meant that the breeding itself became better controlled (31 / 10 / 94). Another solution to the problem of loose cattle is revealed on the 1883 Church map of Crousetown, which identiies a village “Pound” where wanderers could be driven to await their owners. Uncontrolled animals and fowl caused considerable distress among villagers as they went about their daily routines. “Look out for pig,” wrote John Will, adding a funny sketch of a charging porker (13 / 12 / 94). Fan and Elvie stayed home from church one evening because of “nabors Hens,” and, a few months later, the Johnson’s dog frightened John Will’s horse Fred, and almost overturned the family’s wagon (13 / 9, 14 / 11 / 01). Among all of John Will’s entries on cattle trading, there are no references to ox-pulls or parades. His spectator sport of choice continued to  be the horses: “Lem [Sperry] racing on Sunday at long [Crescent] beach,” he wrote (19 / 6 / 87). John Will had loved racing since his days as a “dandy” in the lumber towns of Queens County. His indifference towards the social rituals surrounding the oxen may have come out of the mixed nature of the Crousetown economy, where the men were both farmers and mill operators. Census reports and business directories categorized them as one or the other, in most cases “farmer.” As John Will and his neighbours accomplished their annual cycle of work, oxen were bought and sold as the economy shifted between mill, woods, and farm. The affection of part-time farmers for their oxen might have been less than it was for farmers in more thoroughly agricultural regions. The Seasons John Will Crouse’s diary is the most comprehensive source for understanding the rhythms of seasonal change, but it is not the only one. The annual school report, or “Register of the Attendance, Studies and General Standing of the Pupils, and Statistics of the School … with a Record of Visitation, etc.,” also recorded, beginning in 1900, environmental conditions on a table entitled “Local Nature Observations.” This document, required of every school in the Dominion, asked students to examine their environment from a “phenological” perspective.

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


“Phenology” was a late-nineteenth-century proto-science that studied relations between climate and seasonal phenomena such as bird migrations or plant lowerings. Crousetown pupils were expected to note when certain “wild plants,” “cultivated plants,” “farming operations,” “meteorological phenomena,” as well as birds, snakes, and frogs “irst appeared,” and then when they became “common.” The white violet, for example, lowered on 27 April 1902 and became common on 5 May, while the lilac, irst seen on 9 June, became common on 14 June. In 1903, sowing began on 21 April, but did not become common until 30 April. That year the rivers opened on 19 March, and the last snow “to whiten ground” occurred on 20 April. Rivers and lakes closed on 25 November, but the snakes and frogs had left a month earlier.23 This new, systematic way of understanding nature was taken quite seriously. An oficial note attached to the 1903 questionnaire read in part: “No doubtful date should be entered on this record. Better far a blank than a misleading date which in a few years will be inevitably discovered by subsequent observers whose records will reveal to posterity the blunders of observation, of judgment, or of truthful care or recording made by any predecessor.” Robert Crouse, descendant of Gottlieb Crouse and a schoolboy in the 1930s remembered that nature observation still held an important place in the Crousetown curriculum.24 Its ongoing signiicance indicated Crousetown’s participation in an expanding world of scientiic knowledge that depended on universal education. John Will’s diary relects his intimate awareness of climate and the cycles of nature. During the course of any given year, he succeeded or not according to plans that he had developed from his long experience with nature’s contingencies. His entries passed rhythmically through the seasons, demonstrating the effects of weather upon the working men and women not just in one Nova Scotia village, but in the wider agricultural economy that predominated in nineteenth-century North America. John Will’s work in the New Year began as his labour of the old year had ended – centred upon the care and feeding of the oxen so vital to farm and mill operations. In winter, the oxen’s primary tasks were to open new roads to the timberlands, clear the main roads after snowstorms, and move huge quantities of lumber across the iced-over streams, ponds, and lakes. Often logs were left on the banks, where spring freshets picked them up and drove them downstream to the boom on the mill pond. In 1882, John Will broke roads to Beech Hill and


Testimonies and Secrets

to Four Mile March (17, 25 / 1 / 82). In January and February of the next year, he logged from Humph’s Hill. In 1888, he “hawled” from Beech Hill in a snow storm, and, in 1900, he cut pine near Wallace’s Brook (20 / 1 / 88; 9 / 2 / 00). Following blizzards in 1882 and 1898, he and his oxen led clearing operations on the Italy Road (6, 7 / 2 / 82; 1 / 2 / 98). In 1902, he cut a road over a frozen swamp (30 / 1 / 02). If the weather drove him inside for a day or two, he repaired his sleigh, cut leather to patch his boots and fashioned cant hooks that he used to guide the logs on the river and through the milling process (1 / 2 / 88; 10 / 1 / 93; 19 / 2 / 95). During winter months, the mills sometimes had to be shut down when water froze the machinery to the point that, as John Will put it, “I could not get it luce” (17 / 1 / 82). As winter gave way to spring, the rains fell and the muddy roads became impassable. In these conditions, John Will and his fellow workers turned their attention to the river. High water in the Petite watershed meant that it was time to be “rafting with the boys” (29 / 4, 5 / 5 / 82; 25 / 4, 5 / 5 / 83). “Ken’s logs to boom,” John Will recorded to mark a successful drive (27 / 4 / 87; 9–11 / 4 / 91). Years later, Robert Crouse remembered seeing the men out on the icy river, clad only in their long johns and boots, pushing logs down to the mill pond. The scanty outits were necessary because heavy clothing hampered their agility and would pull them under if they fell in. The erratic motions of the logs in the water and the tangled pile-ups on the banks also posed potentially lethal challenges.25 Whenever there was high water, the mills went into full-time operation unless a lood threatened the mill itself. High water could arrive at any time, even in early January, when a sudden thaw could produce a lash lood (2 / 1 / 89). The prime season for sawing, however, ran from late March to early May. During this time, the oxen became an expense – often idle but still requiring their hay, even as supplies dwindled and prices rose. In March 1882, John Will paid Joseph Wentzell ten dollars for a “tun of hay” and three years later bought hay from Ben Ramey at about the same time (30 / 3 / 82; 26 / 3 / 85). Of course, the hay was also needed to feed the cows, but they reciprocated by producing milk and butter. Feed prices sometimes led John Will to sell off his oxen in the spring. However, he had to be careful in his dealings. He might sell a team in March, but in early May planting season began and oxen again became essential and would remain so through harvest time in October. If a farmer purchased a team in the spring, the price was likely to be high,

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


and he had to be sure that they were well broken. The timing of trades was important, because everyone lived closer to the edge than is sometimes remembered. On one occasion, John Will noted that he was sowing “weat” and barley because it was “all we have to keep us” (11 / 6 / 81). In any case, ox trading continued throughout the summer as each farmer sought the advantages of higher productivity and a marketable team. The agricultural cycle on John Will’s farm began with harrowing and “menuring” the hay and cereal lands (7, 15 / 5 / 96; 6–13 / 5 / 97). His wife and partner Fan worked alongside, planting potatoes, putting in a vegetable garden, and selling or bartering her home-churned butter at Uriah Falt’s store in Petite (10 / 4 / 91; 10 / 5 / 93; 10 / 5 / 99). Another of John Will’s tasks for the temperate seasons was to build and repair fences to contain livestock and protect crops (11, 12 / 6 / 88; 10 / 11 / 90; 2 / 9 / 93; 1 / 7 / 00). Every year in late June and early July, when crops had been planted and the river had begun to drop, the work routine changed: the roads had dried out and statute labour could be accomplished. Keeping the roads passable was a challenge that engaged all men in the community. Hazel Bolivar’s description of this labour system as it operated in Conquerall Mills applied to Crousetown as well: The roads were narrow and often rutted. In the spring when the frost went out of the ground, they were bottom loose and unit for travel. A light wagon would mire to the hubs … The Assembly voted money every year for improved roads and every rate payer between 21 and 60 years of age was required to do statute labor. When the appointed overseer sent the word, every man brought his pick, shovel and axe to perform a stated number of days work on the highway, proportional to his property assessment. In each section an overseer for highway maintenance was appointed annually by the parties in power. Some times a team of oxen or horses had to work on the road or bridges near a man’s home. Each year frost and rain made holes in the roads and much of the statute labor consisted of illing in holes and ruts. The same overseers in summer warned the men out in winter to clear the roads of snow. Very often some man had to wade through snow for a mile on his own road to warn others to clear the main road.26

The position of “appointed overseer” was a crucial one with political dimensions. As a well-known Liberal in a Liberal district, John Will


Testimonies and Secrets

Crouse served frequently as overseer. His reputation for fair-mindedness inluenced the execution of the work throughout the year. In the winter, he organized ox teams to “brake out” the thoroughfares, and in summer he supervised “the boys” as they ditched and levelled the roads. Those supplying teams and wagons received credit towards their obligation (23 / 12 / 73; 10, 13 / 6 / 74). John Will’s inluence on local economic development derived from his authority as an overseer. Several drafts of a letter written by him to “The Municipality of Lunenburg” were included in the Diary for 1884– 5. The subject was road development behind Old Sim Crouse’s properties on the east bank of the Petite: [Draft 1] As I have been appointed to lay out a road from Crouse Town to New Cumberland, I have enquired into the necessity of said road and come to the conclusion that it is not necessary as it will cause very much trouble to the owners of land that said road would cross. Further every man that owns land that said road will cross is very much opposed to it. Therefore I shall decline in favor of the road from Charly Eikle’s to New Cumberland which is … nearly inished. [Draft 2] After taking survey of said road … and due considerations come to the clusion that it won’t be a fair deal to distress so meny poor people to beneit one or two … Therefore I shall decline to have anything more to do with it. Of course John Will had his own commercial ties with Charles Eikle. However, the core values exempliied here are his sympathy for impoverished back-country landowners and his disinclination to use public funds to “beneit one or two,” probably better off than the rest. No doubt John Will also considered Crousetown’s ties to the stores and wharves at Conquerall Bank. The Mount Pleasant road, when it was eventually built, went through Mt Pleasant to Dublin Shore. Road work was Sisyphean. John Will and his crew kept the roads passable through the summer months, but then the autumn rains came and their labours were undone. The men simply did not have the resources, machinery, or time to build well-drained roads. Only in the automobile age did the province develop a tax structure, and become responsible for more durable improvements27 (5 / 7 / 81; 1–5 / 7 / 96; 21 / 6 / 99; 29–30 / 6 / 01).

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


The agricultural cycle continued under the blazing July sun. First, potatoes had to be hilled (4 / 7 / 84; 6 / 7 / 85; 25 / 6 / 95). Then it was time to cut the hay. By the 1880s, scythes had been replaced by oxenpulled haying “meschenes” on most farms (11 / 9 / 81; 31 / 7 / 93). After the hay dried, it had to be manually forked into “heeps” that were then piled into wagons and hauled to barn hay mows (20 / 7, 15 / 8 / 91; 16 / 7 / 92; 16 / 7 / 97). As time went on, the rising demand for milled timber required greater numbers of oxen, and increased pressure to expand the hay supply. Thus, the swamp lands at Kissing Bridge and Wallace’s Bridge came under cultivation to increase feed supplies. John Will also cut “meddow” hay for bedding (30 / 8 / 88; 1 / 9 / 89; 8 / 9 / 94; 12 / 7, 3 / 8 / 97; 31 / 7 / 03). The barley, wheat, and rye crops were next to be harvested. The work was brutal. On 11 September 1881, John Will, then thirty-seven years old, reported he was “very sore from reaping our hay all in and some barley and now weat.” That year the cereal harvest was 21 bushels of wheat, 20 of barley, and 3½ of oats (11 / 9, 15 / 10 / 81; see also 10 / 8 / 97). John Will sometimes did the threshing himself “with meschene.” To turn the crops into lour and meal, he patronized one of the two grist mills by the dam. This transaction could be delicate, since one mill was owned by the Rameys – his wife’s family – and the other by the family of “Old Sim” Crouse. However, in 1884 the Rameys sold their mill to William Vogler and his son Henry, who converted it to a shingle mill and, subsequently, to a still-standing oar-and-handle mill that supplied the dory trade.28 John Will’s remaining seasonal tasks were harvesting potatoes, and breaking up and “menuring” the soil for the next year’s crops. In late September and early October, he dug potatoes, usually with Fan’s help (21 / 9 / 85; 11 / 10 / 93; 30 / 9 / 94; 5 / 10 / 00; 3 / 10 / 03). Then came fall ploughing for which oxen were essential. Sometimes he, or a neighbour such as Uriah Stewart, held “braking up” parties when all the drovers and oxen teams in the neighbourhood would converge on one farm and inish the job in a day (9 / 11 / 86; 9 / 11 / 00; 16 / 11 / 03). Noontime dinner, prepared by the wives and daughters, was the reward, and in time the favour would be returned. Oxen also gathered seaweed – a vital resource which supplemented farm manure and also served as banking to insulate homes against the winter cold.29 John Will and John Fancy often collected seaweed at Crescent Beach (10 / 12 / 85; 4 / 10 / 88; 19 / 9 / 94). These seasonal routines included livestock management and fruit harvesting. Like most of their neighbours, John Will and Fan kept hens,


Testimonies and Secrets

and a pig or two. In the fall and sometimes in spring as well, John Will and often a neighbour “cilled” a pig for provisions. Eventually, the Baggett family, father and son, took over the village’s butchering (21 / 10 / 98). In the late 1880s, John Will experimented with sheepraising. Neighbours Sophia Cook and Melissa Huey did the shearing and spun the wool. In 1887, he sold two pounds of black wool and ten pounds of white wool to Elkanah Conrad. The effort was discontinued after a few years because the sheep were vulnerable to predators, which included neighbourhood dogs, and the enterprise required too  much effort for relatively small yields (16 / 6 / 85; 1 / 2, 14 / 4, 16 / 12 / 86; 21 / 4, 2 / 5 / 87; 23 / 6 / 88). John Will’s career as a fruit farmer was more enduring. In 1885 he added to his grove by planting several “pair” trees. Later, he grafted and planted cherry and apple trees. In 1894, “Joney” [Fancy] and Fan were picking apples near the house, where several trees remain to this day. In the early twentieth century, orchards lourished in Lunenburg County, although the Annapolis Valley predominated even in these years.30 Cherries and apples never became a signiicant part of John Will’s world of commercial exchange. Rather, like the blueberries and strawberries which everyone picked, fruit was either bartered or shared with neighbours, a welcome addition to the diet (21 / 5 / 85; 17 / 6 / 86; 7 / 5 / 92; 7 / 5, 8 / 10 / 94). Berry-picking parties were sociable events – John Will and Fan’s romance had been kindled at one. Like tea meetings, quilting parties, and picnics, these get-togethers were staples of village life. In late summer, John Will often wrote of picnics – in Crousetown, Conquerall, Italy Cross, and “up at Sim Crouse’s” (16 / 9 / 97; 16 / 8, 9 / 9 / 99; 12 / 9 / 00). In all seasons, John Will’s trade cycle began in the mills. Sawn products – laths, deals, shingles, ship deck planking, house frames, and other made-to-order pieces – were hauled to outlets on the La Have or at Petite. John Will sent planking to the McKeen irm in Conquerall Bank and to L.D. Curry in West Dublin. He also traded with J.D. Sperry and W.S. Drew in Petite, bartering bark and lumber for groceries or a “dress for wife” (13, 16, 17 / 9 / 87; 8 / 1 / 92; 11 / 2 / 93). He conducted his main business, however, with cousin Uriah Falt, who kept a store in Petite (19 / 11 / 87; 20 / 10 / 90; 14 / 12 / 92; 3 / 3, 6 / 1, 7 / 2 / 02). Crousetown’s farmers and millers generally followed the same routine, varying their workdays as weather dictated. A dry spell would restrict mill operations, but leave time to weed or spread manure, or

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


haul a load of timber to market. A downpour would set off a “freshet” on the river, and pull men away from their farms and into the mills. Once in a while, however, a wild card appeared and schedules were disrupted. The discovery of gold was such a moment. From the beginning of European settlement, the search for gold had been a ixation, intensiied for the British after the success of the Spanish conquistadores in Mexico and Latin America. J.H. Elliott’s comparative study of the Spanish and British empires argues that British desire for New World bullion gave way to a quest for an “empire of goods” beginning in the late seventeenth century. Perhaps so, but interest in precious metals remained a part of Nova Scotia land grants well into the nineteenth century. Crown grants to the Crouse and Ramey families included the following clause: “We do hereby Save and Reserve to Us, our Heirs and Successors, all and singular the Mines of Gold, Silver, Coal, Iron, Tin, Copper, Lead, and Precious Stones … with full liberty at all times to search and dig for and carry away the same.”31 In 1861, gold had been discovered at the Ovens – coastal caverns not far from Lunenburg. The yield was initially disappointing, but there were more substantial indings elsewhere, including the 1872 strike at Molega Lake near Greenield that John Will witnessed as an employee of the Burnaby mills. There was also a signiicant strike at Gold River near Chester. John Will and his neighbour Ben Ramey were especially intrigued by the gold strike at Milipsigate Lake near Hebb’s Cross in 1883. In the fall of 1886, they surveyed their own lands and on Christmas Day that year John Will recorded, “afternoon I was prospecting” (20 / 9, 16 / 11, 25 / 12 / 86). The men had no success, but for years afterward they monitored discoveries and output at the Milipsigate ields32 (31 / 10 / 93; 1 / 7 / 99; 12 / 6 / 01; 9 / 1 / 03). Like the farm and mill work so carefully attuned to the seasons, the institutional routines of the village followed an annual cycle. However, there was fresh experience for some within the ambit of this traditional life. In the village school, each year brought unique challenges for every pupil, but especially for the youngest children, to whom all was new. Churchgoing and voting relected the changes and conlicts of the times, although both also sought to embody stability in celebrating the liturgical seasons and choosing political leadership in the annual canvass. Likewise, funeral ceremonies followed a familiar form, although each of death’s visitations was achingly particular, a signature moment that remained forever in family memories. Taken together,


Testimonies and Secrets

these events showed themselves in the faces of pupils, in the prayers of parishioners, in the moods of voters, and in the sorrowing countenances of mourners. School Days No kindergarten tulips trimmed the window panes. We had no crayons … Walls were decked with nothing but a picture of the reigning king and a feed calendar. And yet we learned a great deal. Much of it by rote, maybe – but we did learn. Buckler, Ox Bells and Firelies, 61

Indeed they did. Education played an especially prominent part in the lives of the Crouse and Eikle families, as illustrated by the diary and other sources. John Will’s support for education came out of his Methodist enthusiasm for knowing and applying the Gospel, ampliied by the denomination’s emphasis on the value of discovering new knowledge. To learn things that he had not known and to apprehend facts using the inductive method – the ideals of the Baconian Enlightenment – were esteemed attainments in his world.33 In 1885–6 John Will was elected Crousetown school trustee, and in the 1890s, when Elvie became a pupil, he again became interested. Family papers and fragmentary school records supply some insight into her school experience. Later chapters explore the school life of Elvie’s son, Harold Eikle, and his peers in the 1910s and 1920s. Letters and records of Harold’s decades-long career as a teacher yield another perspective on the classroom experience. By Harold’s time, formal education took place not only in the village school, but also at Lunenburg Academy, and the Provincial Normal College (PNC) in Truro. Elvie’s school calendar differed from current academic schedules. Her year began in May, although there were several vacation breaks during the summer. This was followed by a fall session that lasted to the Christmas holidays. There was a winter term, but attendance was often spotty due to inclement weather and illness. Also, by April the older boys were needed for planting. The September to June schedule, under which Harold Eikle taught, developed in the early twentieth century as roads improved and machinery lessened the demand for child labour.

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


Elvie’s education lasted from 1890 to 1898, when she inished “Grade VIII” at the age of fourteen. The details of her experience are sketchy, but an archival record, the annual report of the Crousetown School, 1895–6, and a book of hand-copied verses in Fan and Elvie’s hand give some idea of the tenor of school life. From the public record, we learn that there were twenty-ive students enrolled in all grades that year. The total value of all school property was $150, and the teacher, Lizzie Wagner, earned $105 for the year. Some of this money must have been drawn from a reserve fund, because the village voted only $90 at annual meeting “for all school purposes.” In 1895–6, Elvie was in grade 6. She was sick or absent a good deal – 79 of the 215 school days – although six students missed even more time than she. However, for the year, Elvie received the highest mark, a 5 (out of 5) in both evaluative categories – conduct, by which was meant academic achievement, and behaviour, which meant obeying the teacher. That school year, “the average number of minutes per week” devoted to speciic subjects was as follows: Arithmetic 350 Reading and Elocution 300 Spelling and Dictation 150 Geography 100 History 100 Book-keeping 90 Drawing 75 Hygiene and Temperance 75 Writing 75 Moral and Patriotic Duties 50 Object Lessons of Nature 50 Vocal Music 50 Calisthenics and Military Drill 25 As a sixth-grader, Elvie spent at least ive hours a day on these subjects with the exception of bookkeeping, which was mainly for eighthgraders who were inishing their education and preparing to work full-time.34 John Will and Fan vigorously supported Elvie’s school career. In the 1896–7 year, they went to a school “consert” and later entertained “our friend teacher Mrs. Conrad.” Fan also accompanied local teachers to


Testimonies and Secrets

Lunenburg and Hebb’s Cross to attend teachers’ institutes, where instructional methods and problems were discussed (7 / 6, 4 / 7, 9 / 7 / 96). Elvie’s teacher in 1895–6 was Lizzie Wagner, a striking young woman from Dublin Shore. She made quite an impression on Elvie, who copied her name repeatedly in an exercise book. She also captivated John Will’s cousin and good friend George Beecham (Beech) Crouse. Lizzie was one of the irst of a succession of talented women who came to the village to teach and stayed to wed local men. She and Beech were married on 29 September 1897. Despite her informal name, Lizzie had a regal bearing and magnetic appeal; known for her charity and hospitality, she was henceforth, “Mrs Beech.” The Beech Crouses lived with Fan and John Will for a year while Beech was building their house, which remains in the family to this day. Elvie’s copy book (1894–7) reveals the world as she saw it, notably in a hand-drawn map of North America. This child’s understanding of geography gave, as might be expected, prominence to the Bay of Fundy, but also includes no borderline between Canada and the United States or between the United States and Mexico. The concept of North America meant something to her although it barely included Mexico, and had no place at all for Florida and the Great Lakes. Elvie also copied poems, relecting sentiments that had long been part of Crouse and Crousetown values – odes to holiday joy, patriotism, and moral improvement, mixed with a lachrymose homage to a dying child:35 Christmas Bell [1895] Three of us for snow and ice Slides and snowballs are so nice We the happy play now see And perhaps a Christmas tree Before All Lands [1895] Before all lands in east or west I love my native land the best Before all tongues in east or west I love my native tongue the best Though not so smoothly spoken

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900

Elvira “Elvie” Crouse’s map of North America, 1896 (Author) Nor woven with Italian art Yet when it speaks from heart to heart The word is never broken Clap, Clap Away Clap, clap, altogether, clap, clap away This is the way we exercise in our public school each day Dash It Down There’s a demon in the glass, Dash it down While it offers to defend And it latters as a friend There is ruin in the end, Dash it down



Testimonies and Secrets

Elvie Crouse in pinafore, ca. 1894 (Author) Autumn Leaves [1895] Tell my little playmates, Mother That I never more shall play Give my little toys, But Mother Fold my dress away

The selections were commonplace, but her choices suggest these held special meaning. Would her father ever learn to enjoy the holidays, “And perhaps a Christmas tree?” Would her mother’s morbidity – “that I never more shall play” – ever recede? A revealing portrait of Elvie as a schoolgirl was taken in a local studio when she was ten. It shows a solemn girl with a pensive gaze. Her starched dress is immaculate and her choker with a heart pendant is evidence of genteel upbringing. She looks very determined. Her parents – twenty-seven-year-old Fan and ifty-year-old John Will – must have been very proud.

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


Faith and Politics It would all seem to go together. If Elvie was reciting “there’s a demon in the glass” at school, she certainly heard the same message at Methodist meetings. She and her mother Fan also belonged to the local temperance society: “Elva joined Band of Hope,” John Will recorded on 22 August 1892. From the Methodist connection, it followed that the male head of household would vote Liberal, not just because the party was pro-temperance, but also due to its staunch support of free trade. Small mill owners like John Will needed a low tariff to keep down the costs of their machinery and other imported goods. And so it went for many years. John Will’s Methodist faith, like that of most of his neighbours, was rooted in family tradition and rested upon a core of convictions that had deepened with time. For him, as for his ancestors, the enduring appeal of the faith was fourfold. First, Methodism’s quasi-Arminian emphasis held out the possibility of salvation for all against what many perceived as the uncompromising Calvinist (Presbyterian) doctrine of predestination. Second, the hymn singing and fervour of Methodist meetings both excited the emotions and calmed the souls of the faithful – offering catharsis, as well as assuaging loneliness. Third, the availability of lay-led “classes” gave congregants “the opportunity to consider matters of doctrine and biblical interpretation in smaller, more intimate groups than was possible at regular church services.” Finally, services were in English, as opposed to the German-spoken rituals still used at some Lutheran churches.36 In the Petite area, Methodism continued to serve as a cultural bridge between German and Scots-Irish families. In contrast to many North American communities, local Methodists, led by the Drew, Parks, and Sperry families, were both a majority of the population and members of the economic elite. Conversely, families of the Anglican minority, such as the Eikles and Kaulbacks, were newcomers still striving to join the top echelon.37 As for the actual experience of church, what might John Will’s have been like? The intensity with which he engaged issues of faith has been noted, but a sense of his worship environment may be gained from Malcolm Parks’s history of the Petite Methodist Church. John Will spent many Sunday evenings there, and he surely would have felt emotionally rewarded by the services that Parks describes:


Testimonies and Secrets

Probably the services occasionally manifested the emotionalism of which Presbyterians accused both Methodists and Baptists, and certainly the Methodists avoided what they considered the excessive attention to liturgical worship characteristic of the Anglican Church. Much of the atmosphere would have depended upon the demeanour of a particular minister: emotional fervour from the pulpit would have been echoed in the pews, but a sedate and more reserved preacher would have inspired decorum and discouraged fervent outbursts in the congregation. The weekly prayer-meetings, however, would have given the uninhibited Methodists a better opportunity to vent their feelings in the extemporaneous prayers, as well as to display their piety and confess their sins, real or imagined, in public rather than in the privacy of the confessional. The church completed in 1867 exempliies some of the Methodist inclinations of its time. The second loor or sanctuary is that of a “meeting house” rather than a traditional church of the Roman Catholic, Anglican, or Lutheran persuasion. It is plain, even austere, in form and general appearance. The windows, originally of clear glass, expressed the old Methodist distrust of the beauty of art in the service of divine worship … The austere Methodism of the 1860s was to be slightly modiied by later alterations in the sanctuary – coloured glass panes in the new windows installed in 1912 somewhat relieved the starkness of the interior, and the preacher was no longer a solitary igure in the front when the choir was moved to the high choir loft at the south end. The sanctuary as it is today, however, retains most of its original character.38

Parks’s description suggests a trend towards more sedate worship services and disapproval of “fervent outbursts in the congregation.” The restrained style, evident in Methodism throughout North America beginning in the 1820s, was emerging in Nova Scotia as well. However, in the revivals of the 1870s and in newly opened meeting houses, “groaners” or “croakers,” like John Will’s brother Ken, continued to draw attention.39 Another measure of religious belief in nineteenth-century Lunenburg County can be seen in the names that parents gave their children. In the pioneer era, DesBrisay’s list of the original 212 Lunenburg grantees included 33 Johns, 12 Peters, and 7 Philips – nearly 25 per cent with names of the Apostles.40 The lineage of Johann Jacob Crouse–John Leonard Anthony Crouse alone produced 13 sons by the second generation of whom 11 were named John – John Philip, John Peter, John Jacob, etc. The prevalence of the name may have sprung from the

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


appeal of identifying one’s son with “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” but in daily life these men were identiied by middle name to allow for  rational interchange to take place. By John Will’s time, however, the name John became less pervasive, having been joined by Ammiel, Elkanah, Amos, Lemuel, and Uriah – Old Testament names that do not appear on the 1753 list at all. John Will’s brother Ammiel [Am] was named after one of the twelve men sent by Moses to scout out the Promised Land, and Elkanah [Ken] was named for the father of Samuel in Judges. John Will’s own witness showed in several ways. He continued to attend the revivals that remained a feature of local life: Crouse Town April 23, 1874 Thursday … went to meeting and had a good time. They are [saved] that has desided to give there hearts to God. It has been a grate week of preas [praise] in Crouse Town. Saturday … Samuel Sperry & I went over to Pleasantville and got our dinners. Then went up to Bridgewater then came to Pleasantville and stayed all night. On Sabeth day there was an emersion there. We stayed and witnessed it. (23 / 9 / 76) John Will also raised money for the Methodist missions and for the local minister’s salary. In the back of his 1876 diary is a small ledger, dated Feb. 23, 1875, and entitled “Collected for Mission House.” John Will noted that Robert, William, Samuel, and James Hilton each gave $.50; Samuel Sperry $.75; John W Crouse $1.00; Matthew Watson $2.00. Collections went to the Methodist Conference Board, which redistributed proceeds to needy meeting houses. Pew rentals did not always cover annual expenses, and thus in the spring of 1882, John Will raised a subscription “for the Methodus Minister of Petite Riviere” from eleven Croustown residents, including his mother Elizabeth and brother Ken (5 / 5, 15 / 3 / 1882). In 1887 he helped to build the Crousetown Methodist Church: “I was to the selebration of the Methodus Chirch, gave dollar toward the foundation” (6 / 6 / 87). A week later he added, somewhat ambiguously, “1 Crouse framing meeting house today” (15 / 6 / 87). John Will enjoyed himself “irst rate indeed” at Methodist quarterly meetings, where inancial matters were discussed, and at “class meetings” or Bible study, which he often attended with his brothers Ken and


Testimonies and Secrets

Am. These events drew their vitality from the wide participation of the faithful. The Petite Circuit, a network of meeting houses, paid the salary of a minister who served them all. Class meetings continued until 1897, by which time each village was organizing its own activities.41 Quarterly meetings lasted until 1925, when Methodists united with Congregationalists and some Presbyterians to form the United Church of Canada (18 / 6 / 74; 10 / 3 / 75; 20 / 2 / 78; 30 / 11 / 80; 1 / 4 / 97). John Will continued to be interested in larger questions of faith. His home library included Great Joy, a book of sermons by the Chicago evangelist Dwight Moody; Walter Moberly’s The Old Testament in Modern Light (1906); and, surprisingly, Robert G. Ingersoll’s The Truth Ghosts (1878). Besides proclaiming a godless universe, “Ingersoll the Agnostic” praised good works and attacked religious hierarchies and the doctrine of predestination. As a Methodist and advocate of works, John Will found a measure of common ground with an unlikely igure. In the light of John Will’s spiritual concerns, his marginal note in the diary is important: “Eppisians [Ephesians] 2 chapter. Please read” (17 / 3 / 96). The core of this part of St Paul’s epistle is verses 4–10: But God who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God – not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

John Will may have been asking Fan to read the passage or, just as likely, reminding himself of an assignment for Bible study. In either case, his attention to the verses raises profound questions. Foremost, it demonstrates his continued interest in Paul’s theology. As a young man in the 1870s he cited Corinthians as he sought spiritual leadership in his community.42 Now, in more pensive middle age, he relected upon the problem of maintaining his discipleship in a changing denominational environment. The faith versus works debate was a part of every denomination and of communal life as well. Anglicans stressed faith, while Methodists

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


emphasized works that lowed out of faith, but the dividing line was ambiguous. For many, the differences were more a matter of worship style than of doctrine, since all subscribed to the Nicene Creed as the core of belief. But John Will here looked for reassurance that Paul’s proclamation in favour of faith was indeed balanced with the Apostle’s promise that good works would low out of that faith through God’s grace. What was the basis of John Will’s concern? This issue was affecting the Crouse household, because Fan did not share John Will’s commitment to Methodism and probably never had. Fan’s family, the Rameys, was listed as Lutheran in the 1881 census, and Fan’s mother Lucy came from an Anglican background. Fan and John Will had been married by an Anglican cleric, but their choice may have been the result of local issues, rather than doctrinal preference.43 Still, at that time Fan was not a Methodist. Therefore, the couple could not have been united before a Methodist minister because she was “unawakened.” In the early years of the marriage, Fan strongly supported temperance, a tenet of Methodism, but she seldom accompanied John Will to church events of any kind. In 1898, Fan decided to join the Anglican communion, and she made John Will follow her. John Will’s 1896 marginal note on Ephesians may have indicated his effort to accommodate himself to the change. Fan’s motives were mixed, but the most important one arose from Crousetown’s shifting sociological sands. The Lemuel Harmon family, whose daughters Hattie and Nettie had helped Fan when Elvie was born, was becoming increasingly prominent in Methodist circles, especially Hattie, who had married Old Sim’s eldest son, James Willett, in 1895. The marriage was a good one for Hattie, making her a part of the Sim Crouse household living across the river from John Will and Fan. Shown in the picture displayed here with her husband, Hattie had a commanding personality, worthy of her middle name, Regina – the same middle name, incidentally, that Fan had given Elvie. With Hattie and Willett’s marriage, there were now two Mrs J.W. Crouses in the village, and competition between the two women became inevitable. It began when a mix-up in mail delivery led Fan to claim possession of the Mrs J.W. Crouse name. In later years, the rivalry intensiied after local Anglicans used a “straw buyer” to secure the deed of the old schoolhouse and thus gain a place of worship – within sight of the Methodist Church no less. The die had been cast. Whatever feelings of solidarity the women had once shared became memories


Testimonies and Secrets

Willett and Hattie (Harmon) Crouse, 1895 (Paul Harmon)

of  a time gone by. In the irst decades of the twentieth century, the Methodist and Anglican congregations were respectively referred to as “Hattie’s Church” and “Fan’s Church.”44 Another possible reason for Fan making the change may have been the modest easing of interdenominational relations in Canada. Or, she might have admired the stately, traditional liturgy of the Anglican Church.45 Beyond the brief entry in John Will’s diary, however, there is no evidence of any doctrinal discussion between husband and wife. It is dificult therefore not to conclude that for Fan the attraction was mainly social: Crousetown’s Anglican families – the Eikles, Kaulbacks, and others – included a number of eligible men who might become interested in Elvie. From Fan’s perspective, liturgical and practical factors likely came together in a satisfactory way. In the Eikle family, liturgy and music played a very important role. A  scrap from Harold Eikle’s 1953 history recreates a conversation between his grandfather Charles Eikle, and James Spencer, rector at St Michael’s Anglican Church in Petite from 1884 to 1891: That evening when supper was cleared away, [Charles] got out the “Ancient and Modern,” the hymn book of the day … “Turn to ‘Hail Gladdening Light,’” said Mr. Spencer. “That’s a new one to me,” said Charles. After going over the tune several times, Charles agreed it was good music: “Edwin [Harold’s future father], try the tenor on it. You have the voice for tenor.” After going over it a few more times, Mr. Spencer had

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


Edwin instructed to sing tenor … Before the evening was over, Edwin had consented to be the organist at St. Michael’s until the congregation could obtain a permanent organist. During the next two or three years, it was a common sight to see the Eikle family walking from their home in the forest to the church at Petite Riviere where Edwin would play the organ and the boys and girls of the family would join their blending voices in singing.

The Eikles were central to St Michael’s well-being. Charles was on the building committee when the church was raised in 1886, and his daughter Amelia was the choir leader there for many years. Thus did the forces of denominationalism inluence the course of John Will’s life. “We all to Inglish Church tonight,” he wrote. Five months later, he reported, “wife and I to Petite … Wife joined church.” This note, along with his sidebar observation – “wife and I there conformed” – indicates their differing degrees of enthusiasm for the change. Fan embraced it while John Will morosely assented (27 / 9 / 97, 23 / 2 / 98). Certainly, this half-hearted conversion encouraged John Will’s propensity towards an elegiac view of life. His New Year’s Eve entry for 1898, when he customarily relected on the year gone by, includes this passage: It strikes me of all the possessions of welth, of helth there is nothing so pressace [precious] as time. It goes and is gone forever and never can be recalled. And when we want it can’t be made up. Welth, helth all can be brought back. Time can’t. So that all we can due is to be more careful if we have any more. To rember our duty to our Father in Heaven and to man. Thanks to Him that gives us time to use it wright. (31 / 12 / 98) Solitary relection, rather than church ceremony, increasingly appealed to John Will as he grew older. The liturgical year, the way in which the faithful keep holy the passage of time, and even the conversion experience itself became less important. His inner being seems to have come to rest in a contemplative realm where God’s sovereignty in the vastness of time overwhelmed religious institutions. Of his new life in the local Anglican community, he wrote resentfully that he was “to church bound with the chane [chain] of habet [habit]” and repeated “church force of habet” in the margin (30 / 3 / 00).


Testimonies and Secrets

Within the daily life of the village it may not have been as bad as all that. John Will maintained civil relations with his irmly Methodist brother, Ken. They worked with each other, and even attended a prohibition meeting in the fall of 1898 (29 / 9 / 98). Likewise, Fan and Elvie attended temperance meetings at the Methodist meeting house (24 / 10 / 01). Anglican services were held in the old schoolhouse every other Friday, with the rector from St Michael’s in Petite oficiating, and often taking a meal beforehand with the Crouses. In 1901 Elvie was conirmed at St Matthias Anglican in Italy Cross. Her formal photograph, taken at about this time, shows why the young woman continued to “lift” John Will (19, 22, 23 / 2 / 01). One beneicial result of the change was that John Will tried to celebrate the spirit of Christmas, noting in a way that would have gratiied Fan and Elvie: “Wife and Melia Kaulback went down to Eikles, baught presents for Christmas tree” (20 / 12 / 00). Fan soon realized one of her goals for changing denominations as the John Will Crouse family grew closer to the Kaulback and Eikle families. Charles Eikle’s son, Edwin, began spending time at John Will’s sawmill and home, where his courtship of Elvie gradually got under way. At the same time, John Will became a major supplier of the Eikle shipyard (16, 19 / 5 / 98; 30 / 4 / 01) He also conducted substantial business with Jacob Kaulback’s sons, Amos and Hibbert. The families mourned together as well. Amos’s young wife died in 1898, and the next year the Eikle’s twenty-year-old daughter, Victoria had a fatal appendicitis attack in church as she sang the hymn “How Bright These Glorious Spirits Shine” (18, 19 / 11 / 98; 19 / 9 / 99). Closer ties between the families did not, at least for John Will, extend to politics. His allegiance to the Liberal Party – the party of most Methodists – remained irm even after he became an Anglican. John Will consistently voted against Conservative Charles E. Kaulbach, holder of the county’s seat in the Dominion House of Commons. He particularly objected to Kaulbach’s support for “the wall of tareff.” After one Kaulbach victory, John Will admitted “a little dispoinmen about the elections” (26 / 2 / 91; 10, 11 / 10 / 83). In 1901, John Will was still attending the Liberal Party convention, where he voted for John Drew Sperry of Petite to serve in the provincial assembly46 (4 / 9 / 01). For his part, Charles E. Kaulbach did not give up on the Crousetown vote. Distantly related to the Jacob Kaulback family, he sought to make his presence appreciated by underwriting the village’s effort to remember pioneer Cornwallis Morreau. A commemorative stone, laid in the community cemetery in 1896, recognized both Morreau and Kaulbach.

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


Elvie Crouse, 1900 (Author)

Kaulbach’s public-spiritedness was well known. In 1902, for example, he donated a set of chiming bells to historic St John’s Anglican Church in Lunenburg. As with the Crousetown memorial, his philanthropy struck some observers as self-serving. Kaulbach’s will, which was iled in 1903, directed his executors to erect a monument “with a suitable inscription to my memory,” and left one of his servants ive hundred dollars “with the request that his habits may be commendable.”47 Such loftiness may explain the popularity of a Crousetown story involving Kaulbach and a local farmer named Albert Niefort or Nifort: Kaulbach, often acting through an agent, lent money at interest and Nifort, who had never met Kaulbach, was one of his borrowers. Periodically, Kaulbach checked on debtors who had fallen behind. Arriving in Crousetown, he saw a man walking down the road and asked him where he might ind Albert Nifort. The man looked him over closely, and replied, “Albert Nifort, you say? Why, he died last week.”48 Part of Kaulbach’s campaigning style was to solicit the endorsement of eminent local citizens, and in Crousetown that certainly included John Will Crouse. If Kaulbach could cut down the heavy Liberal


Testimonies and Secrets

majority in Crousetown and Petite, he could rely upon Bridgewater and other towns to provide his margin of victory. Before one tight election, John Will noted: “Had member Kaulback to see me today” (2 / 11 / 04). Apparently to no good end, as two subsequent entries show – irst, “I did not get to the Election this time” and then, “Member Kaulback nocked out McKlain got on top. And all the provence went librel” (3, 4 / 11 / 04). John Will obviously relished the success of  the political party that he had loyally supported over the years, perhaps enjoying it even more as he sat through the services at the Anglican church. Death When its great sabled presence came over the rim of Never and took back in its closed hand the breath of some one its hand would never open on again, it struck that stillness of stillness inside everyone. All hearts swallowed hard. Buckler, Ox Bells and Firelies, 130

It was never far away, this most integral part of every community’s life, where all were born and breathed their last at home. For each family, there were of course emblematic passages – departures of those whose lives had left particularly forceful impressions. There were several such moments within the John Will Crouse family. One of the most poignant came in 1896 when John Will’s friend, relative and life-long employee, John Fancy, grew feeble and went to live with Janetta and Herbert Hall in Bridgewater. “Jony has left us for good never to return,” wrote John Will (19 / 2 / 96). John Fancy died in 1899. The most searing visitations occurred in 1890–1 when both Uncle George Crouse and his daughter Georgie died at John Will and Fan’s home. “Unkle Jorge” and family – his wife Sophia (Fancy) and their ive daughters – had lived for a time in the Leonard Anthony Crouse homestead at the top of the hill. In 1869, John Will bought them out and they moved to Mill Village and then to Bridgetown in the Annapolis Valley. After Sophia’s death in 1877, the family scattered, with several of the daughters moving to Harwich, Massachusetts. Uncle George eventually came back to Crousetown and helped out on different farms, including John Will’s. Georgie also returned periodically to visit relatives in Dublin Shore, and there she became engaged to a mariner named Howard Oxner. In the summer of 1890, while Howard was at sea, Georgie became ill and sought refuge with John Will and Fan. Harold Eikle wrote the following account of her illness:

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


Georgie was 24 years old … She was a very beautiful girl. Dr. Drew came and pronounced Georgie’s attack to be pleurisy. They had to carry her up to the third story of the old home where she wanted to be. Instead of improving, she grew weaker every day. Nana [Fan] used to stay with her day and night until Dr. Drew told her not to sleep with Georgie. I often heard Nana say that the morning of Wed. September 4, 1890, she went up to see how Georgie was. Georgie said, “Bring me a cup of hot tea quick, Fan.” Nana said that the word quick rang in her ears for a long time. Now, Nana had to go down two lights of stairs and prepare the tea. When she went up to the room, Georgie had passed away. There was a bit of blood on the pillow which indicated a slight hemorrhage. She was buried in her wedding dress … in the Crousetown graveyard. (14 / 5 / 1972)

For the rest of his life, Harold claimed that every year, on the day that  Georgie was supposed to marry Howard Oxner, her ghost in bridal gown came down the stairs, drifted into the front yard and disappeared.49 “Unkle Jorge” was devastated by his daughter’s death, and he too grew weak over the months that followed. On 9 February 1891, perhaps sensing that the end was near, he asked to see his daughter Mary, who lived in the Annapolis Valley. John Will’s neighbour, old William Vogler, battled snow drifts in his sleigh to bring Mary to George’s bedside shortly before he died. “Monday it was a day of trouble, of death. Unkle Jorge Crouse died this morning near 8 o’clock and I feel bad. Don’t know how to get through,” John Will wrote of his beloved relative (16 / 2 / 91). These two events, coming at such a short interval, embodied the iconography of the Victorian age. First, there was a deathbed scene in which a beautiful young woman was taken while her afianced was away at sea, and then her grieving father himself made ready to die, but waited until a loyal neighbour rushed his daughter to his side. Both episodes left a lasting impression on the household. In May 1972 Harold Eikle wrote, “I don’t suppose that anyone thinks of these things now. However, I do and always will.” In their cumulative effect, such moments attached Buckler’s “great sabled presence” to the artefacts and atmosphere of John Will Crouse’s house, where, according to village lore, it lingers restlessly to this day. Summing Up: A Family’s Fortune in 1900 Still and all, hadn’t John Will and Fan managed pretty well? As the new century dawned, the two mills were humming, their little daughter had


Testimonies and Secrets

become a genteel young woman, and the family enjoyed the esteem of fellow villagers. And so the question arises: is it possible to be more precise about the Crouse family’s material condition as well as their standing in the local order? The historical record does provide clues about the status of the John Will family, both within Crousetown and in the larger maritime world. Did their condition improve or decline over the decades? One way to answer this question is to examine John Will’s own bookkeeping and other village records, and then to compare this material to  studies of other locales and of the province as a whole. Evidence drawn from such disparate sources poses problems: it is quite a leap from one man’s records, even when these include information about his neighbours, to broader demographic and socio-economic analyses. It is equally challenging to use Crousetown itself as a base to study the wider world, since it had a relatively simple economy. No doctors, lawyers, or factory owners lived here, as they did in Lunenburg, Bridgewater, and Halifax.50 Neither was there a working class living in tenements, since the mills for the most part ran on family labour with the occasional hired man to assist. Several destitute families required the attention of the Overseers of the Poor, but they were few and had little impact on the workings of the village economy. Farmers, millwrights, homemakers, and a few other individuals – butcher, blacksmith, grocer, and teacher – pretty much described the callings of the place. Still, there were moderate yet demonstrable differences in wealth among Crousetown families. The shape of the local economic order is sketched out in John Will Crouse’s diary and other papers. The diary volumes for 1887 and 1889 contain summary ledgers of family expenditures for those years. A similar, but partial, record exists for 1890. There is also a three-month income ledger for the Yanky Mill in 1895. Further, John Will kept a record of transactions with his brother Edward in 1896 and 1897. A sheet inserted in the diary for 1898 lists the assessed value of John Will’s own holdings and those of ten of his neighbours for the years 1898–9. Finally, for a seventeen-month span, between January 1900 and May 1901, he left a month-by-month ledger of both income and expenditures. These documents indicate that the John Will Crouse family prospered modestly over the last two decades of the nineteenth century. Their household economy and mill business provided an income that placed them at the top of the local economic order and in a comfortable position, when measured by the standards of the region and province.

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


Precise measurement is not possible because barter and informal agreements, often unwritten, remained a signiicant part of commercial exchange. Some generalizations, however, can be ventured. First, the family’s economic success depended upon the partnership between Fan and John Will. The 1887 ledger starts with a verse written by twenty-year-old Fan to her husband: When you open this book May you open your heart And think of me kindly All through a New Year.

He certainly would have been warmed by the sentiment, but he might also have admired her thrift. There were few expenses in the “Money Paid Out in Year 1887” that can be identiied with either Fan or Elvie: “Cash that wife spent to shore, $2.75 (June 29) … Cash for Lebby Bonet [bonnet], $1.31 (July 2) … Cash for carding whool $.68 (September 13 and November 19).” Mrs Cook, who helped Fan in the garden, was paid $0.75 for a week’s labour – quite a small amount even if it included meals. In other years, Mrs Cook might be paid a bit more, or one of Fan’s other neighbours, such as Aletha Hilton, would be paid for dressmaking, but overall outlays for household expenses were minuscule. Most of the domestic labour was unpaid work done by Fan, occasionally assisted by Elvie (2 / 2 / 89; 10 / 5, 17 / 2 / 00; 6 / 4 / 01). Without Fan’s labour and parsimony, the family enterprise would have never become as successful as it did. Second, the largest part of those annual expenditures that can be quantiied went for what we might call “capital” purchases. In 1887, for example, the Crouse family spent in all $269.02, but a parlour organ ($50.00) and oxen ($120.90) made up 63.5 per cent of the total. In 1889, oxen purchases and a “folding meshene” or hay rake constituted 59 per cent of the total of $375.13. The following year, capital purchases were 52 per cent of expenditures. Other annual outlays averaged as follows: 10–15 per cent for store-bought food and tobacco, 10 per cent for minister and charitable donations, and 6–7 per cent for school taxes and poor rates. Third, much of the “money” recorded by John Will as income was not cash, but rather a barter valuation placed upon a service or good at the time of exchange. His ledger for the “Yanky Mill” in 1895 shows an overall income of $72.40 that included $16.06 rent paid by Enos Nauss,


Testimonies and Secrets

which was received as three barrels of lour. Other renters such as Fred Baggett and William Nauss paid their rent for mill time to John Will’s creditors, Uriah Falt and Ben Ramey. Falt was the Crouses’ principal supplier, but John Will also bought groceries from his own brother Edward, who kept a store in Italy Cross. After 1899, John Will patronized Beech Crouse, who had opened a store in his house. John Will often paid with shingles from his mill or, as he noted, “baught of Beach with butter” – churned of course by Fan. Family income ran about $400.00 annually, but much of it was received in kind rather than cash (31 / 1, 11 / 2 / 01). Finally, the Crouses’ expenses were low because they had few wages to pay. Fan needed modest amounts of help, which she obtained at almost no cost. In time, she could have counted on Elvie for some assistance. In 1896, John Will lost his main helper, John Fancy, but by then Ben Ramey’s sons were looking for employment. In 1900, John Will paid Sollie $0.25 / day for packing shingles; Willie got $0.22 / day (7, 14 / 9 / 00; 6 / 3 / 01). What did all this add up to within Crousetown? We can gain a perspective on the local economy by comparing two documents: John Will’s diary for 1898 lists the assessed land values of eleven householders, himself included. This record can be evaluated in the context of Crousetown’s total assessment as it appeared in the annual school report. John Will’s list does not even constitute a majority of Crousetown families; the Browns, Eikles, Hiltons, Johnstons, Kaulbacks, Stewarts, and others are not represented. But it does show the worth of eleven families, perhaps neighbours who made up his road crew. This group’s assessed wealth amounted to $8525.00 which equalled 34 per cent of Crousetown’s total “valuation of property according to last assessment roll” ($24,812.00), as listed in the annual school report.51 John Will copied the households alphabetically; here they are ranked by wealth: J.W. Crouse Simeon Joudrey Ken Crouse Simeon Crouse Henry Vogler Sam Sperry William Vogler Ben Ramey Lem Harmon

$1420.00 $1150.00 $935.00 $885.00 $880.00 $840.00 $620.00 $600.00 $480.00

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


Fred Baggett $425.00 Stephen Vogler $290.00 Total wealth for group: $8525.00 John Will’s assessed worth of $1420.00 constituted 17 per cent of the group’s total, and 5.7 per cent of Crousetown’s total wealth, certainly enough to place his family among the most comfortable households in the community.52 When this document is set in the context of family wealth in other parts of the province, wider inferences may be drawn. According to John Will’s list, his total wealth ($1420.00) was almost ive times greater than Stephen Vogler’s ($290.00). That difference might seem considerable and likely did to Stephen Vogler.53 But Julian Gwyn’s Excessive Expectations: Maritime Commerce and the Economic Development of Nova Scotia, 1740–1871, offers a contrasting perspective on the distribution of wealth in other regions of the province. In 1851, Gwyn writes, the ratio of inventoried or probated wealth for the Halifax elite – merchants, industrialists, and ship-owners – versus that of farmers in the Halifax area was eleven to one (11:1). By 1871, this ratio had increased to 20:1. The same ratio igures for the province as a whole were 5:1 in 1851 and 9:1 in 1871. In the southwest region, which included Lunenburg County, however, the ratio was 4:1 in 1851 and 3:1 in 1871.54 Probated wealth, the entirety of a deceased person’s estate, is of course different from annually assessed wealth, for the tax rate is based on a more limited inventory of holdings. The time frames covered by Gwyn’s work (1851 and 1871) and John Will’s records for 1898 are disparate as well. However, the lower wealth ratios for mid-century Lunenburg County as a whole and for 1898 Crousetown paint a portrait of a relatively egalitarian economy. Here, the distribution of familial wealth ran counter to the steeper wealth pyramids taking shape in Halifax and other parts of Nova Scotia. Crousetown’s latter pyramid arguably relected a more stable society. The annually assessed wealth of John Will and his ten neighbours did show differences, but they were modest ones, with no one family or group of families monopolizing resources.55 There were additional reasons why John Will and his neighbours may have been satisied with their prospects. First, the Lunenburg County economy, involved as it was in maritime enterprise, had enduring strengths. There was still money to be made in the coastal trade, in timber exports, and in small-scale wooden shipbuilding; entrepreneurial opportunities in these endeavours undergirded the hope


Testimonies and Secrets

for a better life in the ports and mill villages of the South Shore. The context here was cabotage rights which, in Canada as elsewhere, conined maritime trade between domestic ports to each nation’s own ships in order to support local ship construction and related businesses.56 Second, for John Will and others, the periodic waves of outmigration to the “Boston States” and elsewhere were not the losses they appeared to be. These departures were certainly moments of sadness, as when John Fancy left for the Dakotas in 1882. But some travels, like the prosperous odyssey of Fan’s brother, Solomon Ramey, pumped capital into the farms and mills of hometown economies. Young people did indeed go “away” from Lunenburg County, but their circumstances varied and they often changed what they left behind more than they inluenced the places where they went.57 Scholars have varied in their assessments of the economy of nineteenth-century Nova Scotia. Some have suggested reasons why rural Nova Scotians might have felt hopeful about their prospects. A.R. MacNeil’s study of Annapolis Township before 1861 found considerable population turnover and economic growth, while Kris Innwood and Phyllis Nagy’s examination of trends in Nova Scotia agriculture from 1851 to 1871 documented an era of growth and prosperity: “It may be true that Nova Scotia farms were smaller and agricultural land less productive than elsewhere in North America, but agriculture nevertheless continued to grow and farm families continued to accumulate wealth throughout the pre-Confederation era.” Robert MacKinnon’s analysis of agriculture in the province before 1951 emphasized signiicant entrepreneurialism. Beginning in 1891, for example, the number of farms and agricultural acreage declined, but these were replaced by expanded orchard cultivation.58 By contrast, Julian Gwyn has stressed the deleterious effects of high levels of provincial outmigration, and especially the passive reaction to wealth inequality among those who stayed behind – “an enduring lot with a history unremarkable except to themselves.”59 Like many of his neighbours, John Will believed that he could effect change – that he and they were caring, resourceful, and, yes, enduring people. In their world to “endure” was to prevail against enormous challenges. To recall Buckler, it meant staying “intact” so that the tide did not leave “a rock pool of you drying up on the beach.” John Will’s diary, which he hoped would be read “by many for good,” is itself a monument to the enduring faith and achievements of his generation. Macroeconomic analyses, because they are based on aggregates, necessarily depersonalize the actual people being studied. Yet, this

The Family and Its World, 1880–1900


methodology, like all others, has its own assumptions, a principal one being that the mass comes to seem more “real,” and hence more signiicant, than the person. John Will was aware of his own standing. He knew that there were those with more wealth and power than he. At the same time, he was not overly deferential to the local elite. Charles E. Kaulbach might on occasion act like an English squire, but his pretentiousness eventually cost him his seat in the Dominion House of Commons and also made him the butt of local humour. John Will appreciated the range of Kaulbach’s inluence, even while opposing his Conservative policies. The courtesy John Will extended to him was freely given, the same as that which he gave to neighbours and other passers-by. John Will’s diary speaks irst of individual persons, and only implicitly of the gradations and compositions of a larger economic order. Nonetheless, he seemed to recognize that one of his principal roles was to be an employer, though of a particular kind. He had but one full-time employee, John Fancy, who was his relative and who lived off and on with the family for years in an environment that could be more accurately characterized as paternalistic, rather than capitalistic. Similarly, John Will employed young Willie Ramey to assist in the mills, but also to give the boy the wherewithal to help his father, Ben, who was Fan’s brother. To accomplish his goals, John Will had to remain nimble in the marketplace, always on the lookout for an opportunity to barter, and always ready to shift his labour between his two main callings of farmer and saw miller. His wealth never became great, but he did increase his family’s standard of living, while also contributing to the welfare of the Crousetown community. The inluence exerted by John Will Crouse and his peers rested only partially on economic factors. The basis for John Will’s authority in Crousetown’s church-centred community harkened back to a time when the common acceptance was that each human being had intrinsic importance in the eyes of God, and therefore in the eyes of the world. In this sense, John Will’s diary was a monument to the dignity of every person – a memoir, but one rooted in an ancient text of Western culture. Like the “famous men” identiied by Ecclesiasticus (44: 1–10) in the Apocrypha as one of the “leaders of the people in their deliberations,” John Will, in his diary, kept alive the memory of others, “some of who have no memorial, who have perished as though they had not lived … men of mercy, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten.”60 To his way of thinking, people, either individually or collectively, were not


Testimonies and Secrets

predestined to hellire and damnation in the hereafter. In the spirit of the New Testament, John Will maintained the possibility of salvation for all and allowed that a changed heart and good works could inluence the Final Judgment. A secularized version of this faith became the animating principle of the welfare state of a later time. At the dawn of the twentieth century, the young man had become middle-aged. Much less frequently do we read: “I awoke in good helth.” The present moment, once savoured, had begun to give way to memories and ruminations. The future, however, would not wait. Time itself was picking up speed as the new era dawned along the Petite. For John Will and Fan, this would be an increasingly challenging time. Their record of expenditures for the year 1900 showed a decline in outlays for major purchases and a year-end deicit that was only partially covered by a gift from Fan’s brother, Solomon Ramey. The economy of Crousetown was changing as well, with the younger generation applying new technology to the milling business. Religious practices and cultural events were becoming more organized and complex. New life within the Crouse family offered hope, but at the same time, John Will’s aging and debilitation became deining features of the household.

Chapter Four

John Will Crouse’s Autumn-time, 1898–1914

The middle-aged, who have lived through their strongest emotions, but are yet in the time when memory is still half passionate and not merely contemplative, should surely be a sort of priesthood, whom life has disciplined and consequently to be the refuge and rescue of early stumblers and victims of self-despair. George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, 455 The old stare out at the small lakes of hard blue ice the wind has scoured bare in the ields. They sigh twice-deep for faces gone – then, with a third and deeper sigh, fasten what grip they can again upon their living blood. Buckler, Ox Bells and Firelies, 204–5

Family was at the heart of the matter. Within John Will’s household, attention centred upon their only child Elvie, the delight of their lives. Fan’s aspirations for an Anglican presence and elevated cultural life in the village also shaped family life. At the same time, as John Will grew older and slower, there were no strong young arms to help him in the mills and ields. Fan and Elvie regarded their projects in the passionate way of the younger generation, just as John Will, irmly ensconced in the “priesthood” of the middle-aged, sighed “twice-deep” as he came to see that his enterprises faced an uncertain future. The other families of the neighbourhood – the Eikles, the Sim Crouses, the Rameys – continued to grow, issuing forth boys to work the farms and mills and girls to become their partners. The same could be said of the families of John Will’s siblings – Am and Edward especially – although they no longer lived in Crousetown.


Testimonies and Secrets

However, the world in which the new generation came of age differed markedly from that of their parents. For one thing, the larger economy operated with much greater intensity. In Nova Scotia, the principal arc of industrial development ran along an axis from Moncton (NB) to Sydney, but the railroad was also spreading to other parts of the Maritimes.1 A new Halifax-Yarmouth line, coming within reach of Crousetown via Italy Cross, consumed milled products such as rail ties and opened another route for getting goods to market and passengers to distant worlds. “The irst trip of our South Shore Railroad to Halafax,” John Will wrote proudly on 14 January 1905. Business enterprises everywhere needed to become more productive, while households were expected to display, sometimes conspicuously, the products of the new prosperity. On the South Shore, the era of sail and wood was in decline, leaving shipyards to compete for a shrinking number of contracts to build ishing or trading vessels. Most of the smaller yards in Petite, Port Medway, and other ports closed in the early 1900s.2 Industrialism required two things of Nova Scotia’s timber industry: irst, producing cheaply milled bulk orders to ship from Atlantic and Fundy ports to central Canada or abroad; and second, tailoring production to suit local housing markets that increasingly favoured ornate Victorian designs. Larger milling operations, such as the Davison Mills in Bridgewater, were better prepared to meet the requirements of the export market. Smaller businesses like those of the Crouses, still had opportunities to serve domestic markets. In this dynamic environment, John Will Crouse faced grim realities. His energy was sapped as bodily aflictions multiplied, and he knew that his mill would require further investment to remain competitive. At the same time, as a respected village elder, John Will was being called upon to serve in positions of public trust for those in need, and to mediate conlict within his own family and in the community. Both locally and throughout the province, progress was claiming its victims. Some families could not compete or even maintain themselves, thus becoming public charges of one kind or another. And yet, one scholar writes, traditional methods of care still predominated: “Canada’s social welfare system was residual. That is, the family and the individual were expected to respond to social distress through the marketplace, and only when these broke down would community structures provide assistance of a characteristically temporal and minimal nature.”3 In Crousetown, the values of Protestantism, with which John Will was deeply imbued, meant that “social distress” had to at least be

John Will Crouse’s Autumn-time, 1898–1914 151

addressed. Someone – the relevant local authority was the Overseer of the Poor – had to minister to the needs of the dependent even at the cost of forgoing one’s own tasks. John Will and Fan’s prosperity, so laboriously achieved by the late 1890s, placed John Will in the position of having enough latitude to ill just such a role. But it remained to be seen if his own family could maintain its standing against the pressures of the day. Family Transitions The challenges facing John Will and Fan were sharply exposed by the continued growth of neighbouring families and their enterprises. A brief outline of the fortunes of several families, including John Will’s extended family, makes the point; appendices 1 to 4, of the principal family trees, further assist the reader. The names are familiar – Eikle, Crouse, and Ramey, but there are Kaulbacks, Bradys, and Sperrys to  consider as well. These personalities shaped John Will’s world in the early twentieth century and that of the Crouse / Eikle family in later years. The Charles Eikle family had prospered from the time of their settlement in 1873. DesBrisay identiied Charles as one of the leading farmers in Lunenburg County, reporting that he got an “over ifty fold return” on his wheat harvest in 1883. In the1890s Charles and Lucy moved to Petite, where Charles and his sons, Edwin and Titus, built a shipyard and opened a mercantile irm, Charles Eikle & Sons. Charles kept the farm in Crousetown, which was run by another son, Joe, while Titus managed the general store, and Edwin cut timber for the shipbuilding business. The Eikle girls married into the Joudrey, Kaulback, and Sperry families, and many of these families attended St Michael’s Anglican Church, where Charles had built the parish hall. The Eikle irm also constructed Petite’s “Seaview School” at the top of Spike’s Hill.4 The Crousetown mill business of Old Sim Crouse also expanded. Sim’s irst marriage to Elizabeth (Pentz) produced four children, and he and his second wife Catherine (Ritcey) had six children. All settled locally and four – sons Beech and Gid and daughters Lil and Carrie – made distinct impressions on the lives of the John Will Crouse family. Old Sim Crouse was not an innovator, but his sons Beech and Gid managed the business effectively and inventively. The daughters, with their decisive personalities, were equally impressive. Lil married Albert Hebb and moved to Conquerall Mills. She remained a presence in


Testimonies and Secrets

Crousetown, however, never hesitating to offer her opinion on events and personalities. Caroline – “Sim’s Carrie” John Will called her – married Fan’s brother Ben Ramey in 1887, thereby forging another tie between the families (24 / 12 / 87). The Ramey family had suffered from the long illness of the elder Solomon, but Ben, aided by his brother Solomon, of British Columbia, had begun to revive the family’s fortunes. Ben and Carrie had six children, all of whom remained in the community. The Ramey mill had been sold to the Voglers in 1884, so Ben concentrated on the farm, and also traded cattle. The family’s advantage lay mostly in the future, when the children would come of age. John Will’s extended family had, for the most part, left the immediate neighbourhood. His brothers, Edward and Am, married the Brady sisters from Italy Cross, and had lived there since 1880. Edward made furniture in the Brady family business and ran a general store. Am also kept store and had a contract to deliver the mail. Edward and Margaret had three surviving daughters, two of whom, Flora (Levenson) and Bertha (Hamilton), migrated to the United States; they wrote Elvie regularly in the decades of the mid-twentieth century. John Will was closest to Am and Lucy, whose boisterous clan formed a country band that often played for dances or just for fun. Most remarkable of their six children was tiny Kate, a iddler whom the Canadian Broadcasting Company later tried to recruit; John Will loved to hear her play the “vilen” (1 / 1 / 04). Am kept a parrot that he trained to squawk, “My God, the butter!” when dinner guests made a reach. Another story had him befriending the Missouri outlaw Frank James and bringing him to supper. After the shooting death of his brother Jesse, Frank toured with circuses and “Wild West” shows, but it is unclear if he got as far as Italy Cross.5 John Will’s other siblings, Ken and Janetta, also lived nearby. Ken had his own farm and blacksmith shop. In 1891, he married Helena (Sperry), and they had one daughter, Viola, who in later years would involve herself in Harold Eikle’s life. In 1912, Ken’s farmhouse burned down, and the family moved to Petite. Ken cut quite a igure in local society. Wearing a white suit, he rode around in a wagon pulled by a small white horse, called “Balaam’s Ass” by locals.6 At the Methodist meeting house, Ken practised the old style, groaning audibly under the burden of his sins. Ken’s responses struck many as incongruous in an era when preaching had assumed a rational tenor. On one occasion, he reportedly offered to sacriice his daughter Viola on the altar.

John Will Crouse’s Autumn-time, 1898–1914 153

Janetta married Herbert Hall, a prosperous wholesale grocer from Bridgewater. They had one son, Lowry, who went into the family business. He had a beautiful voice, and performed in vaudeville and local theatrical productions.7 As John Will confronted change on his own, he took comfort in his friendship with Beech Crouse. Like John Will, Beech had worked his way up, leaving Crousetown to travel to Maine, where he superintended the construction of mills. Beech bought the land for his home from his father, Old Sim, and purchased his share of the milling business from Ed Huey. When Beech started a general store, John Will became one of his best customers. Increasingly, the two men talked less about business and more about the woes of family, their own and others for whom they had become responsible. John Will’s neighbours may have been too busy to help, but they still needed him. Responsibility and Despair In February 1901, John Will was elected one of two poor law commissioners for the Petite district of Lunenburg County (1 / 2 / 01). This was a crucial post within every community, because welfare assessments – called “poor rates” – were set locally and had an impact on each family’s property tax. In 1897, for example, John Will paid “poor rates” of $10.97. This tax primarily covered “outdoor relief” – expenditures to care for needy persons or families in their own home, or, as often was the case for the elderly, in the homes of others. It was left to the overseers to determine the circumstances of need and to allocate resources. If the village placed residents in the Lunenburg County Asylum for the Poor in Dayspring, the overseers had to remit payments for their support. This institutional care was called “indoor relief.” The asylum represented an advance of sorts when it opened in 1888 on land donated by the Davison lumber company. Before that time, impoverished old people and children without families were sold at public auction with the low bidder receiving payment from local taxes for their support. This obviously encouraged exploitation, since the purchaser could proit by stinting on food and upkeep. Protests against the “sale” or “venduing” of the poor began in the 1870s with the reform effort led by David Christmas Moore, rector of Holy Trinity Anglican in Bridgewater. The asylum eliminated the auction, but charged communities for each person requiring care. Thus, the new system, which lasted until the 1950s, still encouraged localities to take care of their own.


Testimonies and Secrets

In the sixty years for which there are records, the Petite district sent only seven people to the asylum. Controlling expenditures remained the responsibility of local commissioners, and within the villages, shame – the fear and embarrassment of having to rely upon the county asylum – exercised a preponderant inluence.8 Poor law commissioners were also responsible for determining paternity in cases of out-of-wedlock births. These deliberations were often fraught with social and emotional tension. In this light, John Will’s entry for 20 September 1900 portended dificulty: “Gideon Crouse in Trouble.” The record is not entirely clear, but Gid had apparently been charged in a paternity case. He was required to post a $100.00 bond that his older brother Beech guaranteed. Following a trial on 29 August 1901, Beech paid the bond and costs to settle the suit and relieve the district of the expense of raising the child. As a commissioner, John Will negotiated among the parties and also found a home for the baby (8, 9 / 5, 24, 26 / 8 / 01). The entire episode distressed him greatly. Coming home from court to ind that his cattle had gotten out, John Will exclaimed that he was “tired of living” (28 / 8 / 01). Some months before this turmoil, John Will’s extended family faced its own welfare crisis as the health of the matriarch, Elizabeth (Falt) Crouse, began to fail (1, 3 / 5, 13 / 11 / 99). With no plan to care for the elderly woman, family discussions became acrimonious. Elizabeth had spent the holiday season of 1899 with the Edward Crouse family in Italy Cross, and when John Will visited on 3 January 1900 a confrontation ensued: I was in big trouble about my mother. Was back to Italy to see Edward about mother. May the Lord help me to get along with these troubles … Also may the Lord bless my wife and daughter with the trouble that they are get[ting] to here, to look to The Lord for help and pray for me. [And, on the margin:] The day of trouble. I am sorry for the rong that I did to let my nature get the better of me. Lord help me never to do so again. Mother came with us today. The argument centred upon who could afford to care for Elizabeth, with Edward possibly calling attention to John Will’s relative afluence. John Will’s angry response may have sprung from the cost, but more likely from his fear of Fan’s reaction at the prospect of having to care for Elizabeth. Edward and John Will, who had been doing business

John Will Crouse’s Autumn-time, 1898–1914 155

regularly, stopped speaking to each other. They eventually made up, but never regained the intimacy of their old relationship. John Will’s brothers Am and Ken, with Janetta’s agreement, eventually brokered a deal whereby Elizabeth would live with Ken, and the siblings would each pay Ken one dollar per week (1, 2, 9 / 3 / 00). John Will, who had borrowed money from his mother, began to repay the loan with interest (17 / 9 / 01). Elizabeth owned the old Leonard Anthony Crouse homestead on the hill behind John Will’s house. To provide further resources for her care, John Will sold the property to his neighbour Uriah Stewart (19 / 3 / 00; 17 / 1 / 01). Elizabeth Crouse lived quietly with Ken and his family until her death on 24 July 1902. “A day of morning [mourning],” wrote John Will. “I saw my mother put in her grave, her last resting place. She sleeps till the Reserrution [Resurrection] morning and so will we all” (26 / 8 / 02). By this time, John Will had gained more insight into the inancially precarious conditions of some of his neighbours. On 23 January 1902, he had to provide aid for Jacob Windes and his wife, who were “on the township.” The following month a more complicated problem arose at the old Vogler house, right next door to John Will and Fan. In 1893 Uriah Stewart had bought the property as a retirement home for his elderly parents. Later, the old people became senile and Mrs Stewart suffered epileptic seizures. John Will and Fan tried to help, but eventually the Stewarts required more care than they could provide. Uriah took them in, but they soon escaped. With the old couple nearly helpless, the commissioners had the choice of committing them to the asylum or returning them once more to their son. They chose to send the elderly couple back to Uriah9 (11, 19 / 2 / 02). The fractiousness of this episode was exceptional. Usually, the community united to care for its own, as when John Will noted that Mrs Rachel Johnston moved in with the Henry Vogler family “to end her life” (18 / 10 / 04). John Will’s writ as poor law commissioner had no reach for other troubles that began crowding in on him. By 1903, his various health problems made ordinary events seem like portents of worse things to come. The demands of the timber market – principally, for more output at lower cost – were squeezing the smaller mills, but these were impersonal matters that all similarly-sized operations had to face. More troubling to John Will was the turmoil that began to engulf the Sim Crouse family. Old Sim’s inal illness had begun in the summer of 1903 and John Will, because of his friendship with Beech and Lizzie, bemoaned the ighting that accompanied the event. John Will had


Testimonies and Secrets

never cared for Sim, once noting that he “talked like a fool” (27 / 9 / 87). Now, as death came near, he wrote, with disapproval, that “Sim never did his writings.” In other words, Sim Crouse had not made a will (6 / 8 / 03). This oversight was rectiied in the last week of the old man’s life (6 / 8 / 03). However, when the will became public, it showed that Gid and Willett had received the lion’s share – “the entire balance of my real and personal estate including therein all other interests in mills and mill privileges and lowage rights.” Two other sons, Young Sim and John S., received shares in the mill, and the daughters – Ellen, Carrie, Lillian, and Nancy – each received legacies of forty dollars. Beech had been cut out altogether.10 Suspicions were voiced to the effect that Willett’s wife Hattie (Harmon) had exercised undue inluence over the dying man. Gid’s subsequent marriage to Hattie’s younger sister, Henrietta or Nettie, did nothing to calm speculation. John Will found out about Old Sim’s will at the end of September: “Trouble about Simeon Crouse will, he menshines [mentions] all of his children but Beach in will. Beach cicks [kicks]” (26 / 9 / 03). By favouring Gid and Willett, Old Sim may have been recognizing a hard truth: the old Germanic tradition of Heiratsgutes, in which all children shared equally, no longer obtained in an economy where resources had to be concentrated to meet capital requirements – even of family businesses.11 The Old Sim family was facing just such a problem with its mill in need of signiicant updating. Alternatively, Old Sim may have felt that Beech had already succeeded and did not need further assistance. Beech had used his own assets to purchase the land for his house and to buy a share in the mill. The dispute went on for years, but it was clear that, with the reading of the will, relationships within the family had been recast. Henceforth, Beech would make his way as a partner with – but also a rival of – his brothers in the milling business. He owned a share in the mill, and that gave him time to saw or to rent to others. However, Beech now sought out his own customers, sometimes undercutting his brothers in the process. The same of course could happen to him. Competitiveness permeated the mill loor, and sometimes seeped into social occasions as well. John Will’s distress over the events within Old Sim’s family became mixed up with his own sickness and emotional despair. “I am sick tonight, don’t feel well, got lump in side” (3 / 9 / 03). A week later, “I irst went to Dr. Messenger and got a tress [truss] for my repure [rupture or  hernia]. Then got medicine for catar [catarrh] of head and throat”

John Will Crouse’s Autumn-time, 1898–1914


(11 / 9 / 03). He then wrote, “Happy days gone at last, when youth is gone,” and “I feel sick, not much grace to work” (12, 19 / 9 / 03). Nothing seemed to help. He bought Bernarr Macfadden’s Strong Eyes: How Weak Eyes May be Strengthened and Spectacles Discarded (1901), but the exhortations of the noted physical culturist’s Cosmotorianism, “the happiness religion,” apparently did him little good. He became deeply depressed in the winter of 1903–4 with his New Year’s Eve soliloquy sounding a sombre note: “I hear [celebratory] reports of guns but feel too soruful [sorrowful] to make any myself … I am most done, working strength almost gone. Three score years run out” (31 / 12 / 03). A month later, he contemplated suicide: “I was thinking of kissing the Bible and bidding good-by. But I can’t live to due it. To live this way I am sick … I feel so bad that I got to write it. I am troubled too much, so many ways, that I am tired of life” (5, 10 / 2 / 04). John Will did not act on his impulse, but among his neighbours, particularly older men, suicide was sometimes chosen as a solution to life’s woes. On two separate occasions in 1905, John Will noted an event: “Heli [Elial] Hebb of New Italy hung himself yesterday in his stable … Benjamin Bolivar buried today. He hung himself” (27 / 1, 18 / 8 / 05). The Rotary Mills John Will’s despondency may have arisen in part from the challenge of new technologies in timber milling that required capital investments that he could not afford. On 9 September 1903, he recorded, “Back to railroad and rotary mill – something to see.” The railroad construction crew had brought along a portable steam-driven rotary mill as they laid track through Italy Cross. Rotary mills, such as the large Boehner mill on the La Have, had been around for decades, but were now spreading because the rotary saws cut lumber exponentially faster than gang saws. Flexible steel band saws further stepped up output, while falling costs of machinery put the rotaries within reach of moderate-sized operators. As the equipment became lighter and more manoeuvrable, units could now be moved into the countryside. In December 1903, Jacob Kaulback’s son, Hibbert, sold the Boehners a timber site, to which they loated a steam mill across the Petite and began operations (16, 19 / 12 / 03). In that same month, John Will visited Ed Fancy’s rotary mill in Middleton, and also recorded the arrival of the Crouse Brothers’ rotary saw “they baught from Bridgewater” (1, 28 / 12 / 03). Gid and Beech


Testimonies and Secrets

Crouse thoroughly renovated their mill with a Lloyd sawmill and edger; they also installed water turbines. These changes signiied a shift within the Crousetown community, with inluence moving away from John Will with his Yanky and gang mills, and towards the Crouse Brothers irm on the other side of the river. As noted, the new economic order involved interfamilial fractiousness, but out of necessity – the mill plant was owned in common – a division of responsibilities began to take shape. Gid became the creative force, developing new product lines and pushing technological innovations. Willett, remembered as a silent man covered with lour dust, managed the grist mill. Beech superintended his own operations, but also sought to maintain harmony among the shareholders in the extended family. These included Old Sim Crouse’s other sons, “Young Sim” – actually the eldest and a halfbrother at that – and iery-tongued John S. Both lived up the hill near the Methodist meeting house. In the 1920s, Hattie and Nettie (Harmon), the wives of Willett and Gid, further expanded the family’s inluence by establishing a summer resort business, “Tidal Waters,” at Green Bay near Petite.12 The success of Crouse Brothers enabled the descendants of Old Sim to prosper in the new century and even tided them over the Depression of the 1930s. Gid played a particularly important role, devising machinery to cut fancy house mouldings and trim. With his thorough knowledge of tools and materials, Gid carried on the craftsmanship of his great-uncle, John Will Crouse. Gid was also instrumental in bringing an electrical generating plant to Crousetown years before public utility lines came through, an innovation that enabled milling to go on at all hours.13 John Will knew that gang mills such as his were becoming obsolete, and that he would either have to adopt the new technology or phase out of the milling business altogether. Consulting with Fan, he began drafting a sales agreement, carefully weighing the particulars because he knew that the future welfare of his family hung in the balance. The “you” in John Will’s entry was Fan’s older brother Solomon Ramey, a successful British Columbia timber man who already owned substantial property in Crousetown: “As circumstances alters cases so much so that I can’t work very much I shall commence to sell some of our property to get along and just thought before selling that I would like you to know about it.” John Will then sketched out his holdings, noting of one lot that he had “not cut much on it since you left home,” and that another piece “would add to your lot quite a bit.” The

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proposal, written in different ink following the entry for 17 March 1904, served as a draft in the negotiations that were concluded several years later. Indian Summer The First gray days of November were past, when the earth lay defeated and colorless and old; and today it was suddenly warm again. Not the sad October warmth, the pale gold hanging in the air of the gently dying afternoons, but like the hopeful spring warmth again. Ernest Buckler, The Mountain and the Valley, 324

By starting the process of selling his mills, John Will made the best deal he thought possible under the circumstances. Given his physical and emotional condition at the time, he probably would have been surprised to learn that he would live for another decade. Once he and Fan made the decision to sell, however, his mood improved markedly, and he regained some of his old vigour in meeting the demands of the day. As October came on, it was for him “a very ine day Indian summer” (19 / 10 / 04). Against the sun and deep blue sky, winter might seem to be a fair way off. So it was that John Will’s life did not become one of constant crisis. Weeks and sometimes months went by as before, dominated by the routine work of the farm and mills. His interest in gold mining remained strong, and he paid regular visits to the pits, evaluating one near Italy Cross as “up to date in every respect” (5, 11 / 7 / 04). His mills ran most days, producing shingles and lath – products less affected by competition from the rotary mills, which turned out larger pieces and bulk orders. John Will also enjoyed the relaxing occasions of village life, taking wry pleasure in Elvie’s lourishing social calendar: “Elva to Sam Sperry to party. Got insulted because her mother came to see her home” (4 / 10 / 04). Another party, “at Sol Brown’s with Peitite Band,” ended discordantly when the host beat up Am’s son, Percy, and the matter ended in court. However, John Will was always happy to help his daughter get out, and Elvie or Elva, as he now called her, seldom missed an opportunity (26 / 8, 6 / 9 / 04). Indeed, from the spring of 1904 to the summer of 1907 John Will felt both blessed and newly energetic. He closed 1904 with praise and greeted the New Year with joy:


Testimonies and Secrets

For my life spaired me to thank Thee for the little faith I have to know that my Redeemer will guide me right if I trust in him … A New Year day, happy, happy in the Lord. May the lord renew our spiritull strength and make this year a happy one. (31 / 12 / 04 and 2 / 1 / 05)

In the spring he made the following entries, two among many, illustrating both his continued capacity for work and his self-reproach that he was not doing more: Oxen ran away. Willie [Ramey] and I sawed 1,500 of Nauss’s shinglewood. I hawled load of irewood from mill. All I did … Willie and I hawled 6 loads of manure making 28 loads. Then planted some for barley and commenced plowing our oats piece till rain drove us home. (15 / 4, 1 / 5 / 05) Increasingly, John Will’s work went forward within the orbit of the Ramey family, which included not just the valuable assistance he received from Ben’s sons, but also the regular aid provided by Solomon Ramey of British Columbia. Beginning in the late 1890s, Uncle Sol, as he was known in Crousetown, sent money at Christmas. Each year, Fan and Ben received $25.00, as did their half-sister Christy Ann (Fancy) Hebb, who had helped Lucy Ramey raise Ben, Fan, and the other children. “May the lord return him ten-fold with thanks,” wrote John Will (23 / 12 / 02; 2 / 1 / 05). In 1906, Solomon returned to Crousetown for the irst time in eighteen years, “and so surprised us that we could hardly due anything but think and look … May the Lord bless him” (17 / 9 / 06). In the course of this visit, Uncle Sol and John Will began inal negotiations on the sale of John Will’s property and milling operations. Solomon’s homecoming was a wrenching one. His half-sister, Christy Ann Hebb, who had cared for the Ramey children in the 1870s, was desperately ill with cancer of the tongue. An operation failed and she suffered agonizingly – an anguish shared by the family and community because of the love she had shown and inspired throughout her life. Solomon’s visit testiied to her inluence on their lives. In late September 1906, he iled his own will with local magistrate W.J. Drew, and returned to British Columbia. Christy Ann Hebb died on Christmas Eve, 1906.14 During these years, relations between the several Crouse families and their neighbours, as well as feelings within the Old Sim Crouse

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family, remained tense. A few months after Crouse Brothers put in their new mill, John Will observed, “Water is low so that rotary takes all of water” (22 / 6 / 04). Water was low again in June 1907, and John Will reported two “big roughs” – one between Gid and Beech Crouse and Henry Vogler over kiacks or alewives, and another between Gid and his sister Carrie. In the irst conlict, Henry Vogler, whose mill was adjacent to John Will’s, objected to the interruption of the kiacks’ migratory pattern due to Crouse Brothers’ water consumption that drained the ish ladder required by provincial law. Hot-tempered Gid was also at the centre of the second dispute. If he got suficiently agitated, Gid would shoot out of his house “with his coat tails lying.” Sometimes he barged into another family’s house to  express his displeasure, once confronting the genteel Mrs Beech.15 His sister Carrie, the object of his ire in this case, was Mrs Ben Ramey (3, 13 / 6 / 07). Carrie may have been upset about the ish ladder or, more likely, she reiterated her long-standing grievance about the short shrift that she and her siblings had received in Old Sim’s will. By confronting his sister, Gid may have gotten more than he bargained for, as a 1915 photograph of her and Ben suggests. Carrie was a formidable igure, iercely protective of her family. She insisted that her daughter Hallie, who suffered from mental illness, be allowed to attend public school, and refused to let the girl be institutionalized. Beech was involved in one of these scrapes, and, because he had a gift for needling, may have fanned the lames.16 However, he continued to maintain good relations with John Will, and helped him with several home refurbishing projects. In return, John Will insisted on paying Beech, and speciically acknowledged each instance of aid that he received (13–21 / 9 / 07). In November 1907, he reported that Beech was out working on “our river” above Vogler’s Falls. Eventually, John Will noted, “the Crouse boys had a settlement with their brother [Beech] and sisters” (26 / 3 / 08). The terms are unknown, but his entry conirms that hard feelings over Old Sim’s will had persisted. To their credit, Gid and Willett recognized that they needed the support of their extended family and, especially, the abilities of their brother Beech. Following Solomon Ramey’s visit in 1906, the Crouses could no longer ignore the possibility that they might soon face competition from Ben Ramey and his boys, and thus needed to put their own house in order. By the spring of 1908, John Will recognized that the time had come to inalize the sale of his properties to Solomon. John Will’s health had, for


Testimonies and Secrets

Ben and Carrie (Crouse) Ramey, 1915 (Cathy Ramey)

the most part, stabilized. He suffered a minor stroke in the fall of 1905, but the effects did not linger (20 / 11 / 05). Albert Nauss provided him with help in the mill, and there was a steady market for laths and shingles. But the interfamilial squabbling had worn him down, and the solution was at hand. For the sum of $2600, John Will sold the Yanky and gang mills, and most of his acreage, excepting only “house and yard.” Solomon then directed his younger brother Ben to take over the management of the gang mill, which the family continued to operate until the 1940s17 (24 / 6, 11, 13 / 7, 12 / 11 / 08). John Will’s quest for his family’s security made selling out a sensible choice for another reason. Since the late 1890s, he had established closer ties within the local Anglican community and with the Eikle family in particular. John Will had increasingly done business with Charles Eikle & Sons, supplying lumber for several of the ships built at their yard in Petite.18 But this era was passing, and the Eikle family too was facing change. The matriarch Lucy had died in 1906, and Charles’s health was failing. The irm’s last ship, the Max C., was launched on 11 June 1907, and it remained unclear if Edwin Eikle and his brother Titus would be able to manage the business with their father’s energy and skill. Another brother, Joe, who had stayed in Crousetown to run the farm, succumbed to cancer in the spring of 1908 (4 / 4 / 08). John Will, in particular, wanted the Eikles to prosper because Edwin had begun to court Elvie, and their marriage had become a real possibility.

John Will Crouse’s Autumn-time, 1898–1914


Edwin Eikle perhaps needed encouragement. In 1908, when Elvie was twenty-four, he turned forty, a year older than John Will had been when he married Fan. Indeed, Edwin was only a year younger than Fan, who had been his schoolmate for seven years. A stocky man with large expressive eyes and a good, though rough, singing voice, he was attentive to Elvie and admired her wittiness and style. Certainly, Edwin fulilled Fan’s wish to solidify a place for the John Will family in local Anglican society. Elvie and Fan had already ingratiated themselves with the Eikles by helping Joe and Celestis Eikle ix up the old homestead. However, Joe’s death and his widow’s decision to leave Crousetown raised the possibility that the farm might be sold and the sons would then spend their time at the business in Petite. The time had come for Edwin to make his intentions known. The pace of the courtship picked up in the fall of 1908. “Elva and  Edwin went to Bridgewater to Exhibition,” reported John Will (4 / 9 / 08). Several entries that fall – “Wife to Eikles … Edwin Eikle to dinner … Elva down to Eikles” – intimate that the moment was drawing near. Soon the couple was engaged, and the wedding was being planned (20 and 30 / 10, 19 / 11, 16 / 12 / 1908). On 30 December, John Will recorded: Our daughter’s weding with Edwin Eikle. May the Lord bless and prosper them with welth and happeness, in this life and save them at last … Had a big time with ires but came off all right, better than I expected. Afterward, John Will groused about having to replace a window broken during the celebration, but he and Fan were obviously pleased (31 / 12 / 08, and 1 / 1 / 09). In the period following the wedding, Edwin had to devote much time to the family business and to his ailing father. Elvie spent a great deal of time with her parents, frequently returning home for a night or two. Later in 1909, John Will reported that he “put stove up in Elvie’s room” (4 / 4, 16 / 11 / 09). The newlyweds did not live apart permanently. However, their peripatetic journeying between Petite and Crousetown suggests that their relationship was something less than ardent (19 / 1, 25 / 2, 28 / 8 / 09). In this environment, Fan probably took the initiative and insisted that the couple consider the John Will and Fan house their future home. Elvie was amenable, and Edwin, like John Will, was not disposed to argue, and may not even have been consulted.


Testimonies and Secrets

Their Kind Relative and Friend A man walking in the ields would glance at the windows of the house where the dead lay – windows that were like eyes dense to the weight of bone with the secret imposed on them – then stare back at the ields that seemed almost persuaded to yield up the mystery. But the ields did not. The eternals talk only to each other. He would look at some handiwork of the dead still standing there, ghosted by the memory of its maker almost to utterance, but it too would just fail to gather its voice. And maybe then his sight would blur with that strangest of human answers, the globe of a tear. Buckler, Ox Bells and Firelies, 130–1 The sight of him touched her and illed her with a womanly sympathy. But that sympathy was only the envelope of her disdain of him. She could not admire weakness. She could but pity it with a pity in which scorn was mingled. Arnold Bennett, The Old Wives’ Tale, 432

Life should have gotten easier. John Will had cashed out his business, sold his lands, and he could still farm his former properties now owned by his brother-in-law, Solomon Ramey. And so he ploughed Cook’s ield on the Italy road to feed his cattle and provide food for the table (11, 29 / 7 / 09). He could even relax enough to look back fondly on the days of his youth. On Christmas Day, he wrote of a walk to Huey’s pond “where I larnt to skite [skate] when I was little boy.” He took pride in giving a donation to Amelia Kaulback, who was taking up a collection for Anglican “foren mission” (28 / 9 / 08). And he may have read this passage from Emerson’s essay on history in the 1906 edition of the Essays in his library: “Civil and natural history, the history of art and of literature must all be explained from individual history, or must remain words.” John Will did these things, but all the while life’s precariousness was making itself known. Death, as Buckler writes, would not be mocked – “it struck that stillness of stillness inside everyone.” In the spring of  1909, it was Beech’s young son Roland (14 / 5 / 09). The following winter Charles Eikle died, and grief-stricken Edwin nearly did as well (7, 8 / 2 / 10). Nothing, though, showed death’s grisly reality more forcefully than the inal illness of Ben Ramey’s brother, Austin, who

John Will Crouse’s Autumn-time, 1898–1914 165

returned from the United States to die at home. Suffering from cancer on the face, Austin consumed gallons of whisky and wine in an attempt to subdue his agony. Everyone helped in restraining his agonized thrashing, cleaning his wounds, and fumigating the sick room (6 / 4 / 09). His cofin had to be put on the porch because of the stench.19 John Will had to witness another dificult passing, albeit of a different kind. The Yanky Mill that he had built in the 1860s now creaked with age. Some said that the ghosts of former share-holders Matthew and Joshua Watson walked the loors. It had become a hindrance to the more powerful mills on either side of it, and Albert Nauss asked John Will if he could disassemble it and move it up Wallace’s Brook (22 / 3 / 09). Acting on Solomon Ramey’s behalf, John Will concluded that it could not be saved and gave the order “for Nauss boys to tarr down Yanky Mill.” A day later he added, “Am here to help me to split old fender posts for barn shed” (22, 23 / 6 / 09). Later that fall, he “hawled load irewood from Old Yanky Mill” (10, 12 / 11 / 09). John Will mourned the Yanky’s demise, but he adapted to the loss by tinkering in his customary way. Surely he could create another monument that would serve, in Buckler’s words, as “some handiwork of the dead.” The great project of his retirement was a windmill that he put together in his shop near the house. After a week’s work in November 1909, he reported “starting” it (15–22 / 11 / 09). The subject was then dropped until the following November, when he and Am, “put long arms on and [it] started to go” (25 / 11–2 / 12 / 10). He painted it red, and continued working on it for several years, eventually adding a wind-powered motor (20 / 3 / 11; 9, 16, 19, 26 / 8 / 12). John Will’s windmill could have drawn well water for the animals or the house or both. By its very presence, however, it recalled his earlier accomplishments. John Will’s inventiveness, skill, and unremitting labour epitomized the classic craftsman, who served the common good “by honesty, diligence, peacefulness, good-will, and absence of selfseeking.”20 In Crousetown, his last artefact inspired a later generation of tinkerers such as Beech’s son George. In the 1970s, after a career as an eminent lawyer and public servant, George built a water-powered washing machine on the site where Crouse Brothers’ mill once stood. Fan was gone much of the time during John Will’s last years. With her friends, Adelaide Sperry and Frances Johnson, she travelled throughout the region to raise money for the new Anglican church in Crousetown (13, 15 / 1, 20 / 2, 12 / 3 / 13). Since 1898, Anglican services had been held in the old schoolhouse, which had been purchased,


Testimonies and Secrets

according to some, by a “straw bidder” in order to prevent the Methodists from blocking the transaction. Anxieties arose again in 1913 when local Anglicans engaged a builder, Thomas Hemeon of West Berlin in Queens County. However, there was little opponents could do. Amos Kaulback donated the lumber, and Frances Johnson’s husband, Milford, deeded additional land for the building. Fan, Adelaide, and Frances culminated their fundraising work by making a quilt on which the names of all contributors were embroidered. Some time in the last months of his life, John Will purchased the quilt. The irst service at St Mary’s Anglican was held on 1 February 1914. Elvira (Crouse) Eikle was the organist and Amelia (Eikle) Kaulback was the choir director.21 In the diary there are clear indications that John Will and Fan were not getting along. “Have trouble in my home with wife,” he wrote on one occasion (12 / 3 / 12). By this time, Fan may not have even bothered to offer, in Arnold Bennett’s word, an “envelope” of sympathy to her husband. Conversely, John Will had probably felt Fan’s “disdain” for some time. Apparently, the couple, with the help of family, sought a solution short of breaking up the marriage. In 1910, John Will went to  see Uriah Stewart and “baught his place, my old home, at sum of 4 hundred dollars,” seemingly with the intention of getting away from Fan (7 / 6, 3 / 10 / 10). Three weeks later, John Will and Fan sold the property – the old Leonard Anthony Crouse homestead – to Solomon Ramey for the same price of $400.00. In effect, the transaction added to the Ramey family’s holdings with the further beneit of providing John Will a separate place to live at no cost. The process of separation continued. In early 1911, John Will went up the hill and began making the place habitable: “I put stovepipe up in old home and made little ire to see how it drawed” (12 / 1 / 11). However, John Will’s hope for a peaceful and independent old age would not be realized. In the spring of 1911, when he was almost sixty-seven, he experienced what might now be called mood swings – days of yearning and lassitude alternating with bouts of illness and despair. “I home all day doing nothing but looking at wife working in garden … I home all day walking around looking at nature coming … I feel sick, can’t work,” ran the entries (18, 19, 24 / 5 / 11). On 3 July, he suffered a stroke while mowing and, to Fan’s consternation, the family had to rely upon the Nauss boys to inish the job. He recovered somewhat, although from this time forward the writing in the diary grows increasingly dificult to read. The margins became beseeching, “That my wife will now [know] what

John Will Crouse’s Autumn-time, 1898–1914 167

is right … that the Lord is helping us to make our hay” (3–11 / 7 / 11). By fall, he was staying home and cutting irewood, unable to “due anything … I feel pretty feeble on legs … felt alone” (17–23 / 10 / 11). The domestic atmosphere continued to deteriorate, further complicated by the fact that Elvie was pregnant and expecting in the spring of 1912. At the New Year, John Will had written, “Lord help me to bare [bear] with a wife like I got” (4 / 1 / 12). By March, his son-in-law Edwin was helping him to cut wood while he anguished, “I home all day. I felt too miserable so that I stayed home trying to make peace … but thanks to Lord in that he knows all of trouble” (5–12 / 3 / 12). New life in the household provided some respite. On 27 March 1912, John Will recorded, “Good times … We had doctor here with us. Elva delivered a son.” It was two days before the grandfather got to visit young Harold: “I seen my Elva baby” (29 / 3 / 12). His gratitude was profound: “Thanks to Lord for answering parers [prayers] … thanks to good Lord for love to us all” (10 / 4 / 12). Later in 1912, John Will’s health declined further, and the diary became barely legible. Close friends visited periodically, foremost among them Am, and Hibbert and Amelia (Eikle) Kaulback (2 / 5, 5 / 6 / 12; 16 / 1, 1 / 3 / 13). The last entry in the diary appeared on 16 April 1913: “Wednesday was rainey day so that I was home all day, stayed in shop.” Thereafter he lay in bed, sometimes with Elvie and baby Harold nearby but often alone.22 His abiding hope of eternal life in a resurrected body healed of earthly frailties and aflictions sustained him as he lay dying. John Will failed rapidly in the spring of 1914. He died, according to his obituary, “in the arms of his daughter,” a few days before his seventieth birthday. A black hearse wagon driven by George Wentzell wearing a silk top hat carried his cofin up the road for inal services. John Will’s funeral was a momentous occasion in Crousetown, the irst to be held at St Mary’s Church: There passed away on Monday May 25th at his home, John W. Crouse, aged 70 years. He had been ill for a long time and for the past year almost helpless. He leaves to mourn their loss a wife, one daughter Mrs. Edwin Eikle, three brothers Edward and Ammond of Italy Cross and E.R. [Elkanah or Ken] Crouse of this place; also one sister Mrs. H. Hall [Janetta] of Bridgewater. The funeral was conducted Wednesday by Reverend George Harrison. A large number attended the funeral of their kind relative and friend.23


Testimonies and Secrets

The family had earlier erected a gravestone in the community cemetery, a six-foot obelisk with a crowned top, impressive in its time and distinctive even today. John Will and Fan each had a side. Fan, whose given name did not appear in the obituary, had the east side facing the dawn so that she could greet the Resurrection. John Will was given the north side that looked towards lands dark for much of the year. The inscription, from the Gospel of Matthew, carved in stone his aspiration to be a guardian of friends and family, and a believer in salvation as the gift of the God he had tried to serve: “Watch, therefore, for ye know not how your Lord doth come.”


Crousetown in an Era of War and Depression

John Will Crouse died on 25 May 1914, two months before the outbreak of the Great War in Europe. His diary, the principal window into his life and times, had grown faint in his last years, but new voices were rising to carry the story of the family and the place forward. The contributions of village residents are a distinguishing element of the narrative of John Will’s descendants. Through photography, letters, and recollection they bring the local past to life and set it amidst the changes wrought by two world wars and the cultural and economic upheavals that followed. Community memories, like the chanting of a Greek chorus, tell the stories of John Will’s heirs as their lives went forth from the house that he had built, in the village that he had loved, and in a western province that he had never seen. Crousetown was intimately connected to larger events such as the First World War and the Great Depression of the 1930s. The community cemetery, as in most villages throughout Canada, bore a stark reminder of the conlict – the gravestone of Frederick Rafuse “Killed in Action August 9, 1918.” Eight months earlier, on 6 December 1917, the war had had an especially dramatic local impact. Maurice Ramey and his friends heard the great explosion of the French munitions ship Mont-Blanc in Halifax Harbour. The young men quickly joined the relief crews heading to the devastated port where they saw, among other horrors, cows impaled on tree tops. Fifteen years later the Depression spread across North America, and its effects too were felt in Crousetown. In 1935, Ben Ramey had to send a  money order to British Columbia to cover the funeral expenses of Uncle Sol Ramey, whose generosity in earlier times had provided crucial assistance to the Ramey and John Will Crouse families. The Depression


Testimonies and Secrets

wreaked havoc on the saw-milling industry, and Crousetown slipped back towards an economy of barter and exchange. A sign in Bob Bolivar’s blacksmith shop proclaimed: “Since man to man is so unjust, we hardly know which one to trust. So pay today and we’ll trust you tomorrow.”1 Not all was doom and gloom. Nineteen-twenties Crousetown experienced some of the beneits of the new consumer economy, which included the hope of increased personal freedom. Herbert Hall, husband of John Will’s sister Nettie, bought a Model T Ford in 1909 and became the irst licensed driver in Lunenburg County. After the war, more villagers bought vehicles, although the older generation remained sceptical. Beech Crouse owned a car, but would not get in it, preferring to trot alongside while his son Everett drove.2 For the younger generation, this auto-mobility offered the opportunity to socialize intimately, away from the prying eyes of adults. Other inventions also worked towards the emancipation of youth. To listen to the radio playing jazz and swing music and to dress in the latest styles splashed across glossy metropolitan magazines – these were exciting prospects to contemplate. In good times and bad, the Lunenburg County economy urbanized. Crousetown became increasingly tied to Bridgewater, with its active commerce, communication, and transportation enterprises. Bridgewater’s population increased from 2200 in 1901 to 3000 by 1918; in 1941 the igure was 3445. By contrast, the ports of Petite Riviere and Dublin (West La Have) lost over 20 per cent of their population in the decades between the world wars.3 The development of new industry spurred Bridgewater’s growth. Acadia Gas Engine Ltd., employing over 100 workers and manufacturing primarily for the ishing industry, saw its sales increase from $10,000 in 1909 to $700,000 in 1918. The company also became the local agent for “that excellent car the Chevrolet, selling seventy during the present year [1918], with splendid prospects for large sales in years to come.” Boosterism became the order of the day as illustrated by the magazine The Busy East of Canada, whose motto was “faith in the future of the Maritime Provinces.” In an edition devoted exclusively to Bridgewater, the editors proclaimed: “If the majority of people in a town are boosters, then there is life and action; if the majority of the people are knockers, then there is inactivity and death. In Bridgewater, nearly everybody seems to be a booster, and knockers are almost as scarce as hens’ teeth.” And, indeed, there was a prosperous and lively air about

Crousetown in an Era of War and Depression


the town during these years. People gathered in downtown cafes to socialize and observe arriving train passengers, some of whom wore the latest New York styles. The Victor Café, established in 1908 by Herbert and Janetta Hall, included a bakery, ice cream parlour, and a ballroom where their son Lowry operated a huge gramophone.4 The Crousetown Mills In Crousetown, the mills boomed during the First World War era, even as the number of family-owned mills in the province declined. Pulp and paper corporations, often logging off leased government land, began to predominate.5 In 1903, Crouse Brothers expanded operations and output with the installation of a rotary saw. Ben Ramey took over John Will Crouse’s gang mill in 1908, and eventually passed it on to his sons, Sollie, Maurice, Willie, and Gordon. In the 1940s, Maurice Ramey further developed the business by building a gas-powered mill in the woods behind the Ramey house. Henry Vogler renovated his oar and handle mill, which abutted the Crouse / Ramey mill. Crouse Brothers continued to relect the labyrinthine relationships between the branches of the family that had sharpened after the 1903 conlict over Old Sim’s will. In effect, the company was not a single unit, but comprised the competing operations of Gid and Beech and, in time, their descendants. Robert Crouse, Beech’s grandson, summarized the situation: “The necessity of sharing the saw mill was naturally a cause of much animosity, and rivalry for lumber orders was a continued source of bitterness.”6 Melody Himmelman’s 1977 oral history of the Crouse mills dramatizes this world, offering insight into the social life of the village as well.7 Her primary sources were the reminiscences of the generation that guided the fortunes of the company in the 1930s and beyond – Beech and Lizzie’s sons, Everett, Merle, and George; and Gid and Nettie’s sons, Wilfred and Roy. All worked at the mills at one time or another, but Everett, Wilfred, and Roy were the main operators. In the 1920s, Merle left Crousetown and became an insurance agent for New York Mutual in Boston. There he met his wife Sarah (Crooks), herself a migrant from Liscomb on Nova Scotia’s eastern shore. Their two children, Boyd and Robert, were born in Boston. In 1931 the family returned to Crousetown, and Merle opened a general store.8 George went to Dalhousie for degrees in classics and law. He earned a postgraduate law degree from Harvard, taught at Dalhousie Law School,


Testimonies and Secrets

and then practised in Bridgewater, where he twice served as mayor. Everett’s son, Grant, later started his own mill on the west bank.9 (See appendix 2.) Three challenges faced the Crouse mills: irst, adapting rotary-saw technology to the volatility and special demands of the market; second, surviving the Depression of the 1930s; third, responding to the opportunities of the Second World War and post-war markets. Each situation required shrewd responses from the new generation of owners, and cooperation, though sometimes awkward, became even more necessary. In boom times, for example, high demand mandated expansion of the workforce beyond the local market. “In the summer we had a pretty big crew,” remembered Roy Crouse. “At one time there were twenty-seven men hired here in Crousetown. But they weren’t all from Crousetown because there wasn’t that many available to hire.”10 The First World War pressed the limits of the mills’ technology. Steel shipbuilding dominated naval and transoceanic construction, but the war also revived the wooden ship market that served the coastal trade. According to Roy Crouse, builders pressed the mills for larger pieces to expand carrying capacity. “They got everything for the ships from lumber. They’d get the keels, the plank form and the timbers. Then they would go in the woods and cut some big spruce trees for the mast. They had to be seventy-ive or eighty feet long and about eight to ten inches at the top. It took a full, large tree to make a mast.” Once they were cut, the formidable task of milling began, as George and Merle Crouse discussed: george: They sawed big ones [logs] in the First World War. Big Birch and big beech they had then. Ramey’s had big beech they brought out here [and] sawed all that big vessel plank out of it. Big square timber. They had different ones that the saw wouldn’t go through … They had to hew them off with an axe … I don’t know how that old carriage in that mill stood the racket. They’d get them sawed a little and then they’d turn them. Well that thing came down with a bang … One time [they] greased the slip with butter. How many pounds of butter [did] they take out of the shop? merle: A lot. That was a valuable log they put in the mill. [Without] butter [they] wouldn’t have got that log in. It was ive feet in diameter … Before they could get it out of the woods to haul it, they had to cut off the sides … They cut it down … to about four feet and it was twentyeight feet long. Oh, that was heavy!11

Crousetown in an Era of War and Depression


The Great War and the 1920s were also characterized by strong demand for housing. “At that time you saw a lot of big houses,” said Roy. “They was mostly beech and maple.” Crouse Brothers cut house framing that went all over Nova Scotia: “Halifax and Dartmouth, we sold a number of frames there, and as far west as Yarmouth. Not very many went that far.” The family became known for quality inish work, as Roy recalled: After the war, up to 1930, [it was] real booming times here … At that time, my father [Gid] got the planers for woodwork. He started making inside inishing for houses … For that period ifty per cent of the work we ever did [was inish work]. The style was to put on “turned posts.” On some of the old houses you see big pillars. Every house had them on. We made a lot of those. He [Gid] made all the inishing, the doors, windows and inside inishing. [He did] the loor for the houses, spruce dressed up to match the loor. A lot of fancy trim was put on. We had a jigsaw, as they called it, a little straight saw you could saw around in circles.12

A photograph shows the mill in operation ca. 1920, with Willett (right) and the Crouses’ neighbour Lem Harmon (left) in the foreground. The picture captures the men’s pride in their craft, their ierce determination to succeed, and, it must be said, their tempers, which plainly did not invite disagreement.13 Market demands created pressure at all points on the production line – cutting timber, milling logs, and transporting to customers or shippers. The Crouses cut on their own land and on land they leased. In the woods, operations were conducted by groups of three – two felling trees, and one following behind to trim. Then logs were chopped or “junked” into various lengths “depending on the order that Wilfred and Roy had to ill.” Choppers were paid one dollar per thousand feet for logs and ninety cents per cord for pulpwood. A good chopper could earn $40 to $50 per week, so these jobs were very desirable, and the Crouses “had to turn a pile of men away.” To earn a weekly wage of $45.00, a chopper had to cut ten cords a day for ive days. The rotary mill operation itself required six men, each doing a speciic job. Roy Crouse explained the different duties: The guy they called the canner, he helped roll the logs on the carriage and turn them over. And then [there was] the sawyer. [Then] you had a man


Testimonies and Secrets

Interior of Crouse Brothers’ mill, 1925 (Melody Himmelman)

taking away from the saw. A man [was] edging the lumber [while] a guy was taking the lumber away behind the edger. Then you had the surveyor marking the lumber and putting it out of the mill. If you was sawing for anybody else, them people had their men there to take care of the lumber as it came out.

Wages were lower in the mills than in the woods – a dollar a day for a  ten-hour day until the late 1930s. By the 1950s, wages had risen to $3.00 per day for an eight-hour day.14 When water was high, the mills ran long hours, sometimes well into the evening: We had electric lights in the mill and worked far into the night. [In the winter] it got too dark to work if you didn’t have light. We had [our own generator]. That was put in somewhere around 1926. That was operated until 1940 when the power line went through.

Crousetown in an Era of War and Depression


[We] bought one and it had a storage battery. It ran by water power. You charged the batteries up and when you shut them off they supplied you with light until you recharged them. It was expensive. It was only thirtytwo volts instead of one hundred and ten.

The extended hours of operation enabled the mills to meet their own requirements, and still earn additional income by sawing for others, principally Edwin and Titus Eikle: The Oickle [sic] men, when they got the logs off their land, used to saw about 150,000 to 200,000 feet [of lumber at our mill]. [They would] pay us so much per thousand for sawing it for them. We were paid $3.50 per thousand.15

The inal challenge was getting the product to customers. Until the early 1920s, purchasers usually came to the mill, although the Crouses continued the time-consuming task of hauling some orders to port towns in their ox-pulled wagons. The company motorized at the end of the decade, but in time trucks revealed their own drawbacks, as Roy Crouse related: My brother [Wilfred] and I had the irst truck [in this area] in 1929. We bought just the truck chassis, the motor and the dash. We built the cab and the body on it out of wood. [We put] glass in it. It was ordinary window glass, sheet glass. We drove that one until 1931 when we bought one with a longer chassis. We drove that one til 1934 and we bought another one that we used until 1945. Then we got more of the lumber business, so we quit the trucking business and just worked in the mills, we couldn’t do both.16

The Depression hit the mills hard as timber prices and the housing market collapsed. Contracts for junk wood and light poles helped tide the mills over, but survival was an achievement, as Roy’s recollections show: The hard times was in 1929, ’30 and ’31. At that time we couldn’t sell anything. We used to saw a little lumber. You could sell a little down in Dublin. You didn’t get no money, you just got tea, sugar and molasses, groceries. We used to sell railroad ties. Them was loaded in Italy Cross … A lot of them you just took the two sides off … You could use up a poorer grade of wood … You could use a crookeder tree [with] more kinks or crooks in it.17


Testimonies and Secrets

Conditions began to improve in the late 1930s, and soon another boom was under way – one that would last into the 1960s. Purchase of a modern planer in 1954 contributed greatly to the irm’s success, according to Roy Crouse: “It planed four sides at one time. From then until 1965 I planed two and a half million feet of lumber. [It went] anywhere from Sydney to Yarmouth.”18 In the early years of the war, the Crouses were awarded substantial government contracts. In 1939, Roy, Wilfred, and Margaret opened a lumber camp on leased land in Conquerall Bank. Employing 12–15 men, they cut over a million feet by 1942. Himmelman describes the working day, which began at six in the morning: Wilfred or Roy was the irst one up and lit ire in the stove. Margaret began breakfast … as soon as the ire was hot and the smell of porridge, beans, fried potatoes, bread and butter, and tea soon woke the hired men. They washed themselves with ice cold water and dressed warmly and made their bunks … The men were usually in the woods by eight o’clock. Left alone in the camp, Margaret washed dishes and cleaned. Thankful that she had a mop, Margaret was spared the prospect of scrubbing the cold wooden loor on her hands and knees. Her cleaning was barely inished when preparations for dinner began. At noon the men returned and consumed platefuls of stew, baked beans, potatoes, sauerkraut, apple pie, fried donuts and large slices of bread covered with molasses. Only after seconds and thirds were their appetites satisied enabling them to log until dark, synonymous with quitting time.

Following supper the men listened to a battery-powered radio, played cards, and talked about oxen, moose hunting, and ishing. Occasionally one of the men played a violin. By nine-thirty all were in bed.19 Roy and Wilfred shuttled between the camp and the Crousetown mill, bringing logs in and returning with groceries from Merle’s store. Most of the men went home on weekends, which saved on the bill, as did the provisioning from the Crouse’s own garden: “They kept cool and fresh in the cellar. Aunt Hattie [wife of Willett] made turnip kraut weekly for her nephews to take back to the camp. Sauerkraut was stored in a large barrel in the cellar and lasted all winter.” As with the development of their resort business at Green Bay, Hattie and her sister Nettie [wife of Gid] used domestic skills and business acumen to build up the family’s assets and to support Wilfred’s wife Margaret,

Crousetown in an Era of War and Depression


who was responsible for managing the camp. The challenges of feeding the crew were large and fraught with the unexpected, as Margaret’s recollections attest: I’d make this plum loaf [i.e., raisin bread] and it was delicious. I’d put it on the table and swoosh! … The more you put on the table the more they ate. Wilfred said to me, “Don’t give them so much to eat and you won’t have to bake so much.” They’d eat just like wolves! … They said, “Gee, this is good food!” I thought, “Boy by the way you’re putting it away there’s something about it that’s good.” I made no fancy foods, just good wholesome, hearty food. Lord, I used to shovel it out to them. One time … we bought a barrel of corned beef. So, in the spring when we went to clean up and come home, there was a trile of pickle left down in the barrel … So Wilfred and some of the men said, “We’ll bring the barrel up and throw it out and take the good barrel home.” So they did … And when they poured it out in the bushes, here was a dead weasel! So they were eating corn beef all winter while the weasel was lying dead in the barrel. We laughed like everything. Wilfred said, “I don’t know what was better, the corned beef or the weasel.”20

Logging in the winter facilitated trapping, as Himmelman notes: “Little effort was required to set a few traps” and earn extra income to shore up household budgets. Wilfred and Roy trapped all of their lives. As boys, they once caught a dozen muskrats with a “pelt value” of $1.25 each. One mink netted Roy $27.00. After the war, “beaver became plentiful, and season was open on them.” Roy received $150.00 for three pelts.21 Another way to earn money was to guide tourists on ishing expeditions. Ben and Maurice Ramey guided for several years on Lake Williams near New Germany. In the early twentieth century, the village of Petite leased ishing rights on a three-mile stretch of the river to a group of wealthy Americans, including the heirs to the Colgate toiletry fortune. Petite and Crousetown residents could ish there, but no one else. The club caretaker, Peter Glode or Gloade, came from a local Mi’kmaw family. Wilfred and Everett Crouse were also excellent ishermen who provided amply for their families.22 Crouse milling operations and community life and welfare were linked beyond the work world. For years, Gid Crouse provided a unique service to local families: “In the early days, he used to make all


Testimonies and Secrets

the caskets for people when they died. [You] couldn’t buy them then … [I guess] that would have been in the 1900s up until 1918 or 1920” (Roy Crouse). In addition, the milling process produced huge surpluses of material – edgings, slabs, and sawdust – that had to be removed from the mill yard. “There was no charge for it,” Roy Crouse recalled. “We was glad just to get it out of the way.” People would pull their wagons or trucks around to the sawdust pile and load up: “They put it in their basements and used it for heat … Years ago when everybody had cattle they used a lot [of sawdust] for bedding in the barns. Still a great percentage of it was dumped as waste. You couldn’t think of using near all the sawdust you made.”23 Social life, too, drew near the mills. Nearly everyone lived within walking distance, so it made sense to locate entertainments, quilting parties, and tea meetings nearby. Ben Ramey’s “Hall” next to the Voglers’ mill was the gathering place: When we had tea meetings over in Uncle Ben’s Hall, they’d carry everything out of this house. Tables and dishes. They’d dismantle the whole place … We would have lovely suppers and great big crowds … They’d make quilts and fancy work and sell them. That was a ritual. Every year we’d have a tea meeting in the fall. That was a big celebration.24

In good times and lean the mills provided a focal point for the community, connecting it to the larger economy while maintaining a sense of stability by hosting these gatherings. Nonetheless, the larger forces of modernity and conlict, as well as the social undercurrents of the interwar period, were never far away. Prohibition and Nativism Crousetown was not immune from the social tensions of the 1920s and 1930s, but when issues arose, they were dealt with in distinctive ways. The community had long supported prohibition, and with its Methodist majority continued to do so, even when the province adopted government-controlled liquor sales. Still, loyalty to the dry cause must be set against the indifferent or hostile attitudes of others, especially among the village’s Anglican minority. Nor had much changed within the world of male sociability, where the bottle was passed among friends gathered behind the barn.

Crousetown in an Era of War and Depression


In the 1920s, the village’s prosperity depended upon supplying lumber to build vessels for the coastal trade. More than a few of these ships were engaged in rum-running – pushing liquor down the coast and into the United States. During, and even after, Prohibition, bootlegging was a proitable pursuit in Crousetown. Village stores sold Jamaican rum under the counter, while well-known residents bought liquor at the state store in Bridgewater or off ships moored in the La Have, and then resold it at a premium. Government rationing during the Second World War also served as a tempting invitation to bootleggers. The illicit trade stimulated the economy because homes were improved and automobiles purchased, and the increased tax revenues paid part of the costs of schools and public works. Similarly, provincial governments were not inclined to make suppression of bootlegging their highest priority, since these same revenues helped to fund new social-welfare programs such as workers’ compensation, which began in 1915.25 In both Canada and the United States, conlict between the predominant Anglo population and immigrant groups intensiied during and after the Great War. Anti-German sentiment grew particularly strong in the western provinces, where recent settlers included paciistic Mennonites.26 The South Shore of Nova Scotia, however, could hardly be described as a hotbed of anti-immigrant feeling. The Bridgewater elite – the Dawson, Davison, McKenzie, Marshall, Power, and Roberts families – was predominantly Anglo or Scots-Irish, but other prominent names – Hebb, Hubley, Rodenhizer – relected the German inluence. In Crousetown and environs, most German families had emigrated in the mid-eighteenth century, and had long since adopted the English tongue, and English-Canadian institutions. In his own time, John Will Crouse exempliied this loyalty to the representative democracy of the Dominion, to the symbolism of the Crown, and to the patriotic values of empire. In the 1930s, anti-German feeling lared again after the rise of Hitler. Laurie Lacey’s study of ethnicity in Lunenburg County uses oral history to show that German newcomers to the county did raise concerns. A man from Dublin Shore was scrutinized because he was known to have a ham radio. Richard Henning Field, citing Lacey, notes that German was still being spoken in parts of Lunenburg County “until the rise of fascism.” That very fact caused some families to take proactive steps: “Many German books dating from the eighteenth century were destroyed, and objects incorporating various forms of the swastika into


Testimonies and Secrets

their decorative elements … were burned.” At the same time, Lacey’s respondents were deeply affronted by the idea that they were disloyal: The people of Lunenburg County never hesitated in serving Canada against the Germans in the World Wars. And another thing; there wasn’t any bad feelings against us by outsiders during the war years. There’s a great difference between being a German and being a person of German descent living in Lunenburg! People know this! Who ever gave you the idea the Germans of Lunenburg County helped the Deutschers during the war years is wet behind his or her ears. In other words, this is very childish.27

Crousetown’s connection to the suspicious ham operator from Dublin Shore was tenuous; his widow spent her last years there without incident.28 Crousetown families with German origins were proud of their ancestry, which they saw as rooted in the culture of the eighteenth-century Palatinate. They rejected suggestions that they were somehow linked to the twisted course of modern German history. Kaiserism, which had caused the death and injury of so many of their young men, was bad enough. But Nazi gloriication of the premodern Volk was even more repugnant because of its gross distortion of their traditions.29 Migrations European immigration to Canada continued throughout the twentieth century, but in Crousetown the constant topic of discussion was the coming and going of people whose families had lived in Nova Scotia for generations. Like the questions surrounding German ethnic identity, the importance of the issue may be measured in part by the attention it has received from historians. The main focus has been on the experiences of the migrants themselves. D.W. Meinig’s massive study of the Americas minimizes the effect of the Canadian migration to the United States, concluding that Canadians were “readily integrated” and “commonly not regarded as immigrants.”30 Canadian scholars have disputed Meinig’s view by analysing the exploitive and dissociative forces deining the migration experience. They have pointed especially to the low wages received by the well-educated and energetic young people who locked to cities of the United States or central and western Canada. Gary Burrill’s oral histories emphasize the migrants’ “psychological

Crousetown in an Era of War and Depression


laceration,” caused by having to accept the praiseworthiness of the place of destination with the homeland being, by deinition, inferior.31 The debate among historians is ongoing. The family histories of Crousetown illustrate both the dislocations and opportunities of migration. One part of the equation is the young people who left with no intent of returning. Solomon Ramey, whose odyssey has been noted, inluenced Fan Crouse’s friend Gertie Fitch and her husband Bob to leave Conquerall Mills for Vancouver in 1910. Looking back on her decision in 1940, Gertie wrote Fan: “I hear my old house is gone. I can not picture home and everyone from it. I certainly would not want to come to N.S. any more … We have our own home here and are very happy in it thank God” (20 / 10 / 40). At the same time, there were people growing up in other places who came willingly to Crousetown. These included Jack and Lillian Duncan, who achieved renown as vaudeville performers throughout the Maritimes. The Duncans’ pianist, Margaret Walsh, entranced Gid and Nettie Crouse’s son Wilfred. Following a brief courtship, the couple married in 1931.32 Crousetown also continued to attract talented school teachers like Loie Bell, Edith Mader, and Jessie Bourgald, all of whom stayed to marry local men. The effects of in- and outmigration were felt in the Sperry and Ramey families, both related to the Crouse / Eikle family. Sam and Adelaide Sperry lived just up the road; Adelaide, with Fan and Elvie, played an important part in local Anglican circles. Four of the Sperrys’ ive children left home after the First World War, but stayed in touch through cards and letters that their mother saved. The collection came to the Eikles in 1942 when Elvie helped close the family home following Adelaide’s death. In contrast, the Ben Ramey family stayed put, but added a distinctive new member when Willie Ramey, by this time called Bill, returned from the Great War with a bride from Ulster. The experiences of these two families put a human face on migration. Sam and Adelaide’s daughter Rhoda stood out, even as a young woman. Her accomplishments highlighted the quality of local education and the dilemmas facing young women as they pursued career opportunities. Rhoda’s school notebooks as a fourteen-year-old in 1907–8 show special dedication. She conveyed her understanding of classical subjects, such as the Bible and Latin grammar, in a clear and elegant hand: There was once in the land of Judea, a rosy-cheeked lad named David, who kept his father’s locks in the outlying ields. He was young, and of


Testimonies and Secrets

no great size, but he had often shown his strength by driving away the wild beasts from his father’s sheep. The three moods are, Indicative, Subjunctive, and Imperative. The subjunctive is derived from Latin Subjunctus, subjoined because used in subjoined or dependent sentences. When the condition is assumed as a fact, the indicative is the proper mood, as, If I was mistaken, I did not know it.

The rewards for Rhoda’s acuity were modest. In 1912, when she was eighteen, she became Crousetown’s schoolteacher. Following further training at Lunenburg Academy and normal college, she received an “A” teaching licence and again served in Crousetown. For the 1916–17 school year trustees paid her $180.00, the average salary for someone with her qualiications. As a venturesome young person, Rhoda felt the pull of the urban world, where thousands of jobs were opening up in government and corporation ofices. Here too there were obstacles. Graham Lowe has noted that for women, most of these jobs were clerical, with the better-paid supervisory and technical positions reserved for men who, in an earlier age, would have been clerks. Gender equality in the workplace did not even begin to advance until the civil rights movement of the 1960s.33 If Rhoda or her sister Eva resented discrimination, they did not trouble their mother with it. Their letters and cards home were reassuring and unexceptional. Many were written from vacation spots or exhibitions – Palm Beach, Orlando, the White Mountains, Niagara Falls, the New York World’s Fair of 1939. “Dear Mother,” wrote Eva. “Wish you could see the lowers in Radio City. They are beautiful but am afraid they will all freeze” (12 / 4 / 38). The wider world in which the Sperry sisters moved thus came to Crousetown in letters such as this one from Rhoda, describing Ottawa during the Second World War: This afternoon I went to see the parade, about 6 or 7 thousand soldiers and airforce and navy with the RCMP Band at the Tower of the House of Commons. They have about 60 men and the Air Force Central Band, the best in Canada, with 125 musicians – there were two Highlanders Pipe Bands and three other Army Bands. There was a Victory Loan Service on the Hill and then the men all marched past the entrance to the H. of Commons and Premier King took the Salute. It took nearly an hour for all the parade to march past. (18 / 10 / 42)

By this time Rhoda had become an executive secretary at an accounting irm. She eventually married one of the partners.

Crousetown in an Era of War and Depression


The Sperrys never complained about having to live in New York, Boston, or Ottawa. The economic opportunities and rich culture of the metropolis no doubt compared well in their minds with the limitations they would have faced at home. Their references to Crousetown were made in good humour, as when Rhoda called the village “Pumpkin Center” (25 / 2 / 47). And they felt continued affection towards their friends, the Eikles, who kept them current on local news. Like Uncle Sol Ramey before them, they volunteered material aid, as when Rhoda wrote Elvie: “You can always count on my help as far as keeping the Church going is concerned. I will give both to our Church here and at home, but if I have to cut down on one, it will be the Ottawa Church because there are so many others to keep it going now” (18 / 4 / 43). A different aspect of migration was exempliied in the story of Ben Ramey’s son Bill. After working in his father’s mill for several years, the young man joined the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force (CEF) in 1915. He was posted to the Machine Gun Reinforcement pool, embarking for France as a private. Machine gun units suffered extremely high casualty rates, so he was rapidly promoted – to sergeant by August 1918. Bill was lucky to escape uninjured and with his lungs intact; George Kaulback from Conquerall Mills was gassed, and suffered agonizingly before dying at home in 1935. Periodically, Bill Ramey returned to England for rest and relaxation leaves. There he met Kathleen Frances O’Leary, a beautiful young woman from Belfast. The couple married on 14 December 1918 in an Anglican ceremony at All Saints Parish in Manchester. Kathleen was identiied on the wedding licence as the daughter of British soldier Edmundson O’Leary. The war ended on 11 November 1918, but the CEF did not leave the Continent until February 1919. Soldiers who had married in England were further delayed by paperwork, or, as was the case for Bill and Kathleen, by the imminent arrival of a child. Bill was discharged in August and their son Robert (Bobby) was born on 8 September 1919. Six weeks later the family left Liverpool, arriving in Halifax on 3 November. In the midst of a snowstorm, they took the train to Italy Cross, where they were met by a man who was to drive them to Crousetown in a sleigh. However, the man was drunk, and Kathleen announced that the family would walk. The man evidently reported as much to the Ramey family, and Sollie went to fetch them as they trudged along the road. A very cold little Bobby was warmed up in a crib placed next to the oven.


Testimonies and Secrets

Bill and Kathleen (O’Leary) Ramey, 1918 (Cathy Ramey)

Kathleen made a sensational impact on the village. Harold Eikle remembered that she was “so strange to us at irst and spoke with a strong Irish accent … [and] so very, very pretty with those lovely sharp dark eyes.” The village welcomed the young family with a reception on the irst Armistice Day, 11 November 1919. The local newspaper proclaimed that “all the powers of gaiety in Crousetown were aroused.” Bill was presented with a gold watch and chain, and the couple received a parlour clock. “Ice-cream and cake were served in a very dainty style. Then followed a dance which all enjoy and even the old men of 75 showed their great talent for step dancing.”34 This happy mood was not to last. Kathleen’s relations with Bill’s mother, Carrie, were never cordial, and eventually became strained to the point that Bill and Kathleen decided to move out. With the help of his father and brothers, Bill constructed a new house for the family. Located up the road, just beyond the Crouse / Eikle house and near the remains of the old Vogler homestead, it has passed down two generations to Kathleen’s granddaughter, Catherine O’Leary Ramey.

Crousetown in an Era of War and Depression


Kathleen did get along, and quite famously, with other members of the community. She was especially admired by Bill’s younger sister Jennie, and the vaudevillians Lil and Jack Duncan, who were also new to the village. Kathleen’s wit and her willingness to challenge established ways gave her the air of a literary heroine.35 On one occasion, she and her friends were larking down the road when they came upon one of the local grouches. He warned them that he had “half-a-mind” to let Bill Ramey know about their frolicking. Kathleen replied that he could do what he liked, but she was delighted to learn that he had “half-amind” more than she had thought. The Duncans added further izz to the local atmosphere. Lil was especially close to Kathleen, perhaps because she was equally plainspoken. This letter from Lil to Kathleen, who had returned to Belfast for a visit, did not mince words: After coming home from church and hearing … the Harvest Service, I have such a pain in my belly I am afraid to go to bed for fear I shit it full … The English Church will be having their Harvest Service the last of October. I guess they are waiting for you. The weather is getting mighty cool … No doubt the damn snow will soon be here. I sure dread it. Jack is working at the Breakwater, Kempton.

For his part, Jack Duncan was always polishing his act. One of his ditties, “The Man Behind,” went as follows: A lady going down the street, she is dressed up so neat The day is dark and stormy and her shoes are full of feet She lifts up her skirt so high, her stockings are of lisle The man behind he gets a glimpse and follows her a mile Chorus: The man behind, the man behind, he’s the wisest guy you will ever ind.

Lil’s song “Poor Old Maid” also got a good response because it was tailored to individual audiences: Why didn’t I marry long ago, A poor old maid. Why didn’t I marry long ago, A poor old maid. Why didn’t I marry long ago,


Testimonies and Secrets

Now I’m old and stand no show, Unless (local name) will be my beau, A poor old Maid.36

Kathleen’s tartness carried over to the marriage, which was tempestuous. Bill once accused her of being “two-faced,” to which she replied that it was better than having only one that was as ugly as his. Kathleen returned to Belfast on several occasions, while Bill departed periodically to work in Massachusetts. Bobby, often left with his grandparents, remained very much in her thoughts, however, as can be seen in the picture of the two of them taken in the mid-1930s. Not long after, Kathleen grew ill and was taken to the Bridgewater Hospital. She died there on 13 September 1935, during gall bladder surgery. At her service, Harold Eikle remembered playing “I’m But a Stranger Here,” a hymn that she especially liked and “that seemed so appropriate.”37 To her neighbours, she was anything but a stranger: “Coming here a bride 16 years ago, she has since become endeared to all who knew her. Being of a very cheerful disposition, Mrs. Ramey was highly esteemed and had a large circle of friends who sincerely mourn her passing.”38 Kathleen O’Leary Ramey and Jack and Lil Duncan brought change to the village, even as they sometimes reinforced entrenched attitudes. Kathleen confronted established notions of gender behaviour, while the Duncans sang of male–female interactions of the most stereotypical sort. Village-born residents like the younger Sperrys ventured into the unpredictable world and carved out prosperous lives by dint of their energy and ability. At the same time, they, like Sol Ramey before them, never forgot their origins, and they used their resources to support the socioeconomic and cultural order of the village where they had been born and raised. In 1931, a photograph including several personalities at the centre of these changes was taken in front of Ben Ramey’s house. It features Uncle Sol on his last visit to Crousetown. To his right stands his sister Fan Crouse, and then three Rameys – Jenny, Kathleen, Edith – and Elvie (Crouse) Eikle. Elvie’s arm is resting on Bobby Ramey’s legs. Sol looks stern, Fan inscrutable, but the others seem happy and proud. Repartee As the Sperry and Ramey stories suggest, humour and convivial exchange were integral parts of village life. The bantering of the men on Ben Ramey’s porch known as “The House of Parliament,” or at the

Crousetown in an Era of War and Depression


Kathleen Ramey and son Bobby, 1934 (Cathy Ramey)

Right to left: “Uncle Sol” Ramey, Fan Crouse, Jenny Ramey, Kathleen Ramey, Edith Ramey, and Elvie (Crouse) Eikle, 1931 (Cathy Ramey)


Testimonies and Secrets

general store, and the exchanges among women over backyard fences – all left enduring memories. At Merle Crouse’s store, socializing was often lubricated with lemon extract, which at the time contained a signiicant amount of alcohol. A farmer from Conquerall Mills was especially partial and usually inished the evening in a comatose position. The men would load him into his wagon, and give a shout to the oxen, who knew the way home. Eddie Herman remembered the story of a farmer named Hall, whom Ben Ramey found in a ditch one morning. Hall’s wagon was half overturned, the reins were snapped, and the horse was gone. “Who are you?” Ben asked. “I don’t know,” the man replied. “What do mean, you don’t know!” Ben roared. “Well,” he said, “if I’m Ed Hall, I’ve lost a horse. If I’m not Ed Hall, then I’ve found a wagon.” A despondent mood settled over Merle’s store when the alcohol level of lemon extract was lowered, but in any event the gossip continued to low. After Kathleen Ramey’s death, Bill hired a  housekeeper, Mrs Forsyte, who attracted the attention of a local Mrs Malaprop. Mrs Forsyte, she insisted, had falsely charged that the lady’s butter had gone “ransom.” However, declared Mrs Malaprop, the entire matter was “imperial to me.”39 The main road through the village also contributed to local folklore. Cars and trucks appeared with increasing frequency, and the steepness of the incline provided dramatic moments for all sorts of vehicles. One day ten-year-old Ralph Stewart challenged Maurice Ramey to a sled race, forgetting that he was carrying a load of churned butter for the store. He pulled ahead of Maurice, but missed the curve at the bottom of the hill and dumped everything, himself included, into the river. Another time, John S. Crouse lost control of a wagon full of pumpkins. The driverless vehicle shot past Ben Ramey’s blacksmith shop, turned over on the bridge, and landed in the river. When Ben asked John, an accomplished profaner, why he had no words for the occasion, John replied that he had not yet decided where to begin. And inally, along this same stretch of road, young Robert Crouse, Merle’s son, used to encounter old Uriah Stewart working grumpily in his ield. Robert never failed to wish Mr Stewart a good day, and Mr Stewart never failed to reply, “No one would know that but yourself.”40 Village stories involved the dead as well as the living. Most Nova Scotia communities had ghosts and even witches. The latter had particular credence in the inland villages that were sometimes called the “hexe belt,” although Hazel K. Bolivar recorded the following story from nearby Conquerall Mills:

Crousetown in an Era of War and Depression


A woman’s son was to have a boxing match with another man to settle a dispute. After a ring was formed and all preparations were inished, the Mother came out and looked at them and went away. Her son’s opponent was not able to raise his hands to strike a blow in his own defence when the match took place, and so got an unmerciful thrashing. Contrary to the usual ideas of witches, this witch was a good looking woman.

Crousetown stories were more on the order of conventional ghost tales, with lonely spirits drifting through buildings and homes that they had inhabited long ago. As a boy, Merle Crouse heard machinery clanking in the night at John Will’s Yanky mill and remembered that “Old Matthew” Watson and his son Joshua haunted the building. Betty (Ramey) Conrad recorded many unexplained noises and spectral appearances at the family’s home over the years, as did Harold Eikle, who repeatedly told the story of his great-aunt Georgie’s tragic death and subsequent wanderings through the John Will Crouse home.41 Crousetown’s relatively benign spirits did not conform to the image of the Conquerall witch or to Helen Creighton’s alarming Bluenose Ghosts. In seeking an explanation for the difference, Robert Crouse noted the inluence of the women schoolteachers who married and settled in the village. They, most assuredly, had no patience for tales of ghosts or witches. Amos Kaulback’s second wife, Eldora, might have also been a discouragement to malign spirits. She knew many ghost stories and played a part in some of them, once witnessing a phantom team of oxen pass through her property. Her view, inluenced by a childhood spent in a traditional German folk community near Lunenburg, was that spirits were pervasive. Witches were rare, but posed a grave threat if they did appear. She would know them if they came, she told Robert Crouse, and she knew the counter-spells that would make them go away.42 Eldora would have understood better than anyone Gael Watson’s story of a rainy spring afternoon at her house near the old Huey / Stewart farm. Looking out the window she saw “someone walking into my line of sight, moving with a steady deliberate pace.” He was “a fairly tall man, dressed in a long woolen jacket, tall boots, wide brimmed hat … making tracks through familiar land … I watched him as he crossed the ield … reached the tree line and disappeared into the woods.” The gait, the hat, and the jacket all evoke the 1870s, and in the mind’s eye it is not hard to picture John Will Crouse surveying the back country behind his land. Gael concluded, “It seemed to me that I had glimpsed a man from an earlier period of time, but who retained a passage for always.”43 The


Testimonies and Secrets

man is not known, but this much can be said: When the fog and rain roll up the Petite, human form becomes evanescent, encouraging musings about the line between natural and supernatural. Humorous or haunting, these stories and reminiscences were but a few of the encounters that, in their totality, helped to deine the Crousetown community. Through shared memories, villagers found ways to recognize each others’ humanity, or were at least compelled to acknowledge the presence of their neighbours and ancestors. Even as they did, however, the forces of migration and modernization ate away at the personal ties that were the essence of daily life. By sending the rising generation to distant places, and by attaching young and old alike to  new media and metropolitan values, villages such as Crousetown gradually changed their referents and values. In this milieu the Eikle family strove to make its mark, and young Harold Eikle, the last of John Will’s line, came of age.

Chapter Five

The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943

The Eikle household, like others in Crousetown, was multi-generational; unlike most, there was only one child in the home. Even more unusual was the strange distribution of the generations within the household. In  1909, the year that Elvira (Elvie) Crouse married Edwin Eikle, her father John Will turned sixty-ive and her mother Fan was forty-two. The 23-year gap between John Will and Fan was approximated by the 16-year difference between Elvie, 25, and her husband Edwin, 41. All members of the family had lived in Crousetown their entire lives; thus, Fan and her son-in-law Edwin had been schoolmates in the 1870s, years before Elvie was born. Within the household, whatever strains might have resulted from Fan and Edwin being long-standing acquaintances were compounded by John Will’s long inal illness. John Will’s weak health and the family’s shrinking assets led Fan to sharply and directly criticize the dying man. Harold Eikle’s birth in 1912 delected some of the hostility, and he very quickly became the centre of the family’s ambitions. Fan and Elvie wanted to improve the cultural life of the community, and thus the boy would be trained as a musician, like it or not. For years, Harold struggled with family expectations as he sought to deine his own identity. The rough ways of village life varied signiicantly from the coddling of his mother and grandmother. Their attention, combined with Edwin Eikle’s fumbling efforts to ill the role of paterfamilias, deined the family’s history over the middle decades of the twentieth century. This chapter is composed of two parts. The irst focuses on Eikle family life through Harold’s years at home and in school, ending in 1931 when he graduated from Provincial Normal College (PNC) in Truro. The second part discusses Harold’s career as a teacher and his


Testimonies and Secrets

emergence as a talented musician and distinctive personality. This period ends with Fan’s death in 1943, which, for better or worse, left the family without a guiding inluence. Son and Scholar The earliest years of Harold’s life were the happiest for the family. A picture of Edwin, Elvie, and Harold taken outside of Ben Ramey’s house in September 1915 shows the little boy distracted, but Elvie’s affection for Edwin is obvious. The family often took their handsome horse and buggy on outings, presenting a picture of prosperity and contentment for all to see. Edwin Eikle and his brother Titus were businessmen and citizens of some account. In 1914, the brothers paid Solomon Ramey $2500 for a seven-year lease to log on Ramey lands. In the 1920s, Roy and Wilfred Crouse bought the Eikles’ timber, as did Morris Ramey in the 1940s.1 The Eikle irm undertook signiicant construction projects, including the building of the ship Max C in 1907. The brothers each held two shares (of 64) in the vessel, which remained in service until 1939.2 Titus was school trustee in Petite for one term, and Edwin served twice in Crousetown. Edwin was also a “Crop Reporting Correspondent” for the Census and Statistics Ofice in Ottawa. Titus served for many years as warden for the Petite Riviere parish, which included St Mary’s Anglican in Crousetown, while Edwin was a delegate to the diocesan synod in 1928. Edwin journeyed regularly to Bridgewater to attend meetings of the Odd Fellows. The success of the family’s undertakings enabled Edwin to invest some of his earnings. In 1914, he purchased stock in New Brunswick Tuplin-Irving Black Foxes, Ltd., a breeding operation supplying luxury clothiers throughout North America. In 1930, he held stock in Chrysler, Dalhousie Oil, General Motors, Paramount Pictures, and several mining companies. The family was evidently prosperous enough to pay for Harold’s education at Lunenburg Academy and at PNC. Family photographs show them well dressed, especially Elvie and Harold. Further, Edwin attempted to assume leadership of his own extended family. When his sister Amelia Kaulback died in 1924, he became administrator of her estate. Several years later Edwin tried to provide assistance to his nephew Charles E. Eikle, son of his deceased brother Joe, as the young man sought to sell the Eikle farm in Crousetown. Edwin informed Charles that he was “not now in a position to buy it,” but

The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943 193

Edwin Eikle family: Edwin, Elvie, son Harold, and an unidentiied woman, 1915 (Paul Harmon)

suggested that Charles contact Otis Stewart, who “told me to ask you what was the lowest price that you would take for it.” Charles eventually sold the land to Amos Kaulback, whereupon Edwin raised questions about the farm’s deeds. Charles tersely informed him to work it out with Amos: “As you know, I had a limited knowledge of the property back there.”3 In this instance and others, Edwin Eikle’s uncertain response suggested that the deferential habits learned during his long apprenticeship to his father had become part of his personality. Either he responded slowly to events or he knew the issues but shrank from their implications. Like his father-in-law, John Will Crouse, Edwin tried to avoid emotionally charged situations involving Elvie or Fan. However, his reticence meant that he did not or could not defend Harold against the dictates of the women. Edwin’s reputation for business acuity also took a blow when a local character named “Petticoat Jim” Corkum sold him a load of pulpwood that he had gathered from Eikle & Sons’ own lumber yard.4 Fan, with Elvie’s occasional support, controlled the household. Fan’s determination on the domestic front went hand in hand with her unwavering support for Anglicanism, and for the welfare of St Mary’s Church. She followed diocesan affairs closely, and rarely missed services or special events. She deferred only to the rector; and it was common knowledge in Crousetown that, at home, “Fan ruled.” She was aided of course by her control of whatever remained of John Will’s


Testimonies and Secrets

Edwin and Harold Eikle, and Fan Crouse, 1925 (Author)

estate, and by gifts she received from her brother Solomon until he went bankrupt in the Depression. Edwin’s marginalization, Fan’s centrality, and Harold’s solitary life are dramatized in a photograph taken at the abandoned Eikle farm in the mid-1920s. Sitting in long grass before the boarded-up house, Edwin appears to be near tears. It was here, he later told Harold, that he spent the happiest years of his life, so nostalgia may explain his despondence. Still, the family dynamic is starkly portrayed, with Edwin slumping in the foreground, while his mother-in-law Fan and his young son Harold stand nearby holding gathered lowers. Elvie no doubt took the picture, but Fan dominates the scene. Elvie’s strategy was to get her way by manipulation. She had a mischievous gleam in her eyes, often striking affectionate poses with others. She spent a good deal of money shopping and at the hairdresser’s, no doubt leading Fan to criticize her extravagance. She loved to entertain and gossip, and in later years she wrote the Crousetown column for the Bridgewater and Halifax newspapers. Elvie was quite witty,

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but sometimes put off acquaintances with her incessant prying. Also, she considered herself a bit “above” her neighbours, coniding to those whom she had just met that she lived in “La Have.” Her explanation was that the family was listed in the La Have section of the phone book.5 Fan and Elvie had high aspirations for Harold. They carefully monitored his progress in school and ensured that he received the highestquality musical training available. His teacher was a Crousetown neighbour, Josie (Sperry) Hubley. Josie lost her sight at age six, but attended the conservatory in Halifax and became renowned and beloved as a teacher and performer.6 How then did Harold bear up amidst the vacillation, iron will, and frivolity that deined the adult personalities in the Eikle household? The evidence suggests that, like many children, he internalized the conlicts that surrounded him. In particular, Edwin’s inability to offer him support led him to propitiate Fan and Elvie, the inescapable powers. Four family photographs show that Harold’s life differed dramatically from that of his peers. In the irst, Harold is dressed like Little Lord Fauntleroy, while in the second he is heading off to school, wearing a tie no less, and with his eyes showing the anxiety of his cosseted life. In sharp contrast, Harold’s cousins, Roy and Wilfred Crouse, look like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn in a family picture with their parents, Nettie and Gid. Village memories conirm the impact of the differences. Myrtle Bolivar recalled Fan chasing after Harold with a sweater, mortifying him on his way to school. And Harold’s classmates found him an irresistible object for their pranks. The Crouse boys once tricked him into sitting on a tar-covered board in his white sailor suit. Incidents such as these led Fan and Elvie to restrict Harold’s playmates to his cousins, Jennie Ramey and Elsie Crouse.7 The picture of Harold and Jenny shows endearing affection between them, but Harold did miss out on the rambunctious part of growing up. Conined largely to home during non-school hours, Harold received intellectual encouragement from Fan and Elvie. The bookshelves were illed with hymnals and magazines that supplemented his musical training in voice, piano, and organ. In the 1930s, the Eikles subscribed to The Etude Music Magazine, which featured articles such as “The Fine Art of Accompanying” and “The Piano Class Teacher and the Parent.” In addition, mail-ordered sheet music from Boston provided songs like “Little Polonaise,” “The Old Music Box,” and “Junior High Entrance March.” A large collection of “Old Favorites” from the Family Herald and Weekly Star, a weekly published in Montreal, remains among the family papers.


Testimonies and Secrets

Harold Eikle, 1920 (Author)

Harold Eikle going to school, 1920 (Author)

The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943

Gid Crouse family: Nettie, Gid, and sons Roy (left) and Wilfred, 1920 (Dawn Teal)

Harold Eikle with his cousin Jenny Ramey, ca. 1928 (Paul Harmon)



Testimonies and Secrets

Most noticeable in the family library is the juvenile literature, including several Horatio Alger adventure stories. Harold read children’s books into adulthood. When he was a child, these included fanciful tales such as Sophie May’s Little Prudy’s Story Book (1865), featuring fairies and sprites, and aimed primarily at an audience of young girls. Other books with Harold’s name on them include Gleb Botkin’s The Baron’s Fancy (1930), Zane Grey’s The Shepherd of Guadaloupe (1930), Kathleen Norris’s Storm House (1929), and Johanna Spryri’s Heidi (1946). The latter he received from his mother Elvie as a Christmas present in 1947, when he was thirty-ive years old. Harold’s Horatio Alger books – Shifting for Himself or Gilbert Greyson’s Fortune, Tom the Bootblack, and The Young Musician – were all well read, with The Young Musician showing the most use. Like other Alger stories, it told of a poor but honest orphan boy, Philip Gray, who overcame adversity, embodied in the malfeasant Squire Pope, “Overseer of the Poor.” Philip’s ability – “He was a ine singer, and played with considerable skill upon the violin” – as well as his hard work and integrity paid off. He gained the notice of a benevolent, wealthy man who helped him to inish his education at a “private academy,” where he would also keep an eye on the millionaire’s over-indulged son. The tycoon’s comely daughter lingers tellingly in the background as “we bid them adieu.” Alger’s stories appealed to a vast and varied audience, so one need not read too much into their appeal for any particular reader. Harold’s attraction to this particular story is certainly understandable because of his love of music. Nonetheless, there is irony in the fact that, although he was not the son of a millionaire, neither was he a poor orphan. He could more accurately have illed the role of the privileged young man whom Alger’s heroes routinely bested. If Alger had ever written a Crousetown adventure, Harold would have been cast as the advantaged kid who gets his comeuppance, while one of his male cousins, perhaps Wilfred or Roy, would star as the plucky lad who wins out. From the Eikle family’s complicated milieu, Harold Eikle went forth to the Crousetown School. There he received a solid education extending from the primary grades through the middle years of high school. His began with the basics – reading, writing, and arithmetic – and inished with algebra, geometry, and literature. His summary achievement is a line on each teacher’s annual report, and some of his grades on individual subjects are available for the years 1919–23, along with academic exercise programs from spring ceremonies in 1923 and 1924, when he was eleven and twelve.

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Harold’s name irst appears in school records in 1916, when at the age of four “Master Harold Eikle,” along with “Master Roy Crouse,” age ive, attended the annual examination day. Several years later, Harold performed “My First Speech.” Over the years, he compiled a strong record. His achievement marks were strong, usually 5 (out of 5), and his behaviour grade was either 4 or 5. His attendance was exemplary. He seldom missed more than a few days, and in 1921, he had perfect attendance – a rare occurrence at a time when childhood illnesses, inclement weather, and parental demands for help kept children away for days on end.8 Individual course grading was strict. A mark in the 70s was “satisfactory” and could actually be regarded with satisfaction. Harold’s teachers focused on his spelling and grammatical errors, and these were sometimes frequent enough to lower his grades. “Mathmatics,” “kneed of assistance,” “squarly,” “a still more greater event” – they caught them all. As a result, he improved over time, and later impressed his own students with the importance of mastering basic skills. Harold’s homework displayed diligence, while also hinting at conlicts within village and domestic life. This essay was written when he was eleven: [Battle of the Ants]: One day when I went out to my woodpile or pile of chips, I observed several ants ighting, slandering and killing. The battle grew harder and at last there was no one left, but one big black one. This one I took in my house and placed it under a goblet. And [then] watched him for many days and after a long while I let him go. Never before have I wittnessed [sic] a battle before my own door.

The “several ants ighting, slandering and killing … before my own door” conjure up possibilities ranging from village gossip to a domestic row. Perhaps the “big black one” was a neighbourhood tormentor or Fan hectoring him about lessons or embarrassing him in front of schoolmates. Notably, Harold did not vanquish the ant, but rather “let him go.” Harold’s greatest strength was dictation, an important though ungraded subject. His exercise books reveal a inely tuned ear and demonstrate his ability to assimilate auditory signals rapidly and clearly: The artillery sergeant was arraigned on a charge of treachery … Ridicule is often more effective than censure … In his palatial shop he sells


Testimonies and Secrets

confectionary and stationery … A courtier was accused of intrigue during the campaign … In 1900 the Emperor of Japan prohibited the smoking of tobacco by minors as a menace to national vigour … In a test made at a famous university the largest percentage of the scholarly eficient were non-smokers … We complimented the lorist on his beautiful hydrangea. His hyacinths too were particularly fragrant.

A related exercise involved copying dictated passages, of songs and poetry. Harold took down the following with a neat hand: [The Daisies (Tune: Yankee Doodle)] We’ll play this in a ield of grass / And we in sunshine growing / Are fragrant, blooming daisies white / Across the meadows blowing. / Chorus: How great to see the daisies sway! / We are happy in our play / Tra la la la la la / Tra la la la la la. [Walt Whitman, “O Captain! My Captain!” (1865)] O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done / The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won / The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting / While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring. But O heart! heart! heart! / O the bleeding drops of red / Where on the deck my Captain lies / Fallen cold and dead.

Harold’s chances of attaining a professional position depended upon completing secondary school. If he wished to teach school, he also needed to attend normal college. The Crousetown School went up to grade 10, but further education was required to obtain a high school diploma. Most local students completed their studies at home and then went to Bridgewater to write provincial exams. Harold’s family could afford to pay tuition and board, enabling him to enrol at Lunenburg Academy. Opened in 1895, the imposing three-storey building stood on Gallows Hill overlooking the town and port.9 In the fall of 1929, at the age of seventeen, Harold entered the academy with the goal of completing his high school degree in one academic year. He lodged with the Corkum family, and took a full course load, including advanced algebra, physics, trigonometry, history, literature, and French. His experience there is well documented in his exercise books and his letters to Elvie. These documents are analogous to John Will’s diary in the sense that they enable us to “know” the writer as a conlicted but real person. The following three letters reveal the churchand music-centred world within which Harold moved. An ambitious,

The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943


yet anxious, young man, he yearned for home while his family was hardly ready to let him go: [1] Dear Mamma, I got along ine at school today. The work is going along better … This evening after school I decided to take a walk out to the station and ind out when the train leaves Friday. However, I did not have to go quite so far as I found out at the Telegraph Ofice. It leaves at … 5:45 P.M. Now you make plans to meet me at B’water. I wore my raincoat to go to the Telegraph Ofice for it is raining quite hard … Jennie [Ramey?] … wanted to know if it made any difference when I went home. I told her that Dadda [Edwin] was seeing to that part of it and that I knew nothing about it. (2 / 10 / 29) [2] Dear Mamma, Imagine my surprise as I was coming home from school … when I passed Mrs. English’s she called to me to come in. When I went in, there was Aunt Nettie [Hall] and Mrs. George Mosher … I am coming home Friday rain or shine. If it rains too much send Maurice [Ramey] back to the station for me. We will have a lovely time. (30 / 10 / 29) [3] Dear Mamma, It is past eleven o’clock and therefore long past my bed hour but I must drop you a few lines & am writing in bed … Mrs. Corkum, Mrs. McLaughlin & myself went to W.C.T.U. [Women’s Christian Temperance Union] meeting tonight. Olive [?] & I did the playing. Olive played one piece and I played two. I played “New Springtime” and “Home, Sweet Home.” They certainly took … I had a lovely trip in this afternoon. I left Nana [Fan] in B’water. I hope she got along. I will now close and go to sleep. Will write a long letter tomorrow night. Lovingly, Harold (20 / 1 / 30) Harold’s notebooks show excellence in all ields of mathematics – geometry, algebra, physics, and trigonometry. He learned French and Latin through dictation exercises, and studied grammar. Year-end exams were challenging, as evidenced by this material that Harold copied from the school’s exam ile: French XII – Give French for: 1) In the French style 2) They are shaking hands 3) He has a grudge against me 4) My life is at stake 5) How can I help it? 6) It is all up with me 7) Any books at all 8) She has so many friends 9) How sad they are 10) We have just seen her.


Testimonies and Secrets

Latin XII – Mention six uses of the ablative case and give an illustration of each case together with correct translation. Physics XII – Explain by means of the molecular theory: 1) Diffusion of gases 2) Why a gas exerts a pressure. Write a short account telling about speed and size of gas molecules.

Likewise, Harold’s English notebook outlines substantial assignments in British literature and poetry. He read Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Lamb, Eliot, and Hardy; the curricular centrality of these authors showed the ongoing vitality of British cultural inluence in Nova Scotia and indeed throughout North America. Harold also enjoyed the humorist Stephen Leacock whose Arcadian Adventures of the Idle Rich (1914) sharply satirized the capitalist order. Harold was intrigued by the complexities of the English language, enough so to copy this passage: Size, although quite different in meaning from assize, is really a shortened pronunciation of the latter word, formed by dropping the initial vowel “a.” As the standard magnitude of an article of commerce was settled by an “assize” or sitting of some constituted authority, the standard of anything was called its assize or size. And afterwards the latter form came to mean magnitude in general.

Harold’s effort echoes the ambition of his grandfather John Will Crouse, who copied a vocabulary of useful terms – “reciprocity,” “duteous,” “injudicious” – by candlelight ifty years earlier. Both were teaching themselves how to get on in the world. Surprisingly, given Harold’s later interest in the traditions of his family and community, history proved a dificult subject for him to master. The reason may have had less to do with his curiosity than with the state of the discipline as it was then taught. Students were required to memorize mountains of information, and, when they put their learning in essay form, they were docked almost entirely for factual omissions or grammatical errors. Harold’s essay on the “Pyramid Age” received a C plus. His errors included using “fairly” instead of “very,” and “obelisk” instead of “pyramid,” and “one of these ships” instead of “some of these barges.” In general, he understood the outlines of world history as it was then conceived, but, given the discipline’s pedantry, he would need to rely on literature, music, and language to bring the past to life for his own pupils.

The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943 203

In June 1930, Harold graduated from Lunenburg Academy with passing marks. Eight of ten students in the senior class completed the requirements; Harold ranked seventh among the graduates. Though Elvie characterized his performance as “very successful,” the term “satisfactory” might be more accurate. A news report, probably written by Elvie, was captioned “Lunenburg High School Pupils Put on Play.” Harold’s contribution was highlighted: “Grade twelve enacted a sketch ‘The Fatal Quest’ in excellent style, [including] a piano duet by William Rodger and Harold Oikle. The latter pupil, a bright musician, also presided at the piano throughout the programme.” Like his mother, Harold was happiest when he was the centre of attention.10 For the academic year 1930–1, Harold continued his education at the PNC in Truro. Normal schools were established in the nineteenth century to improve the quality of instruction in the common schools. Their success, according to Ontario school reformer Egerton Ryerson, came from focusing upon “the principles and practices of teaching according to rule,” which were deined as agreed-upon standards of literacy and of math and science proiciency.11 Women constituted a signiicant share of the students, although male graduates often received better pay for the same work. In general, compensation levels remained modest well into the twentieth century. In the 1953–4 school year Harold, who held an “A” licence and had taught for twenty-ive years, earned $1,400.00, twice the wage of a mill worker, but much less than teachers in the cities and suburbs of North America.12 The PNC offered a variety of teaching certiication programs, as well as diplomas in domestic science, mechanic science, and rural science. Harold received pedagogical training in many subjects, but he was most interested in the music curriculum and in opportunities for extracurricular engagements. In Truro, as was true in Lunenburg, Harold remained tied to a churchcentred society, a vantage point that gave him a further perspective on the tensions between the denominations. More important, these conlicts typically served as the tapestry against which young people like Harold sought to form their identities. Excerpts from four letters to Elvie capture the emotional atmosphere of the place and the importance of interpersonal and social connection for him as he sought his calling: [1] Dear Mamma, I went to church this morning … There I fell in with one of the boys in our class, Arnold Bent from Bridgetown, who is a church boy … Then this evening I went to church again.


Testimonies and Secrets

They have a nice [Anglican] church here but Mr. Godfrey isn’t a very good speaker. Four more weeks until Thanksgiving. Do write and tell me your plans. If Nana wants to come then it is quite alright, and if not then I will come home. I have dreamed every night since I came out here and as usual everything I dream comes true. I don’t understand it. That very thing is the means of making me so nervous. However, perhaps it will get better after awhile. (12 / 10 / 30) [2] Dear Mamma, This morning I went with Mrs. Cox to Baptist Church. They are certainly friendly people … They seem to have a nice crowd of young boys. One, Frank Rockwell, is a friend of Preston’s [Wilcox] and that way I know him. He is certainly a nice boy. This evening I went to English Church. They had their Harvest Service … They sang the old Harvest pieces and it made me think of St. Mary’s Church. They didn’t sing some of them nearly as well as we do for they had no good tenor … If all goes well I plan to go to early communion at 8 o’clock next Sunday morning, to Mr. Bell’s Church at 11, and to my own at night. That way I will get to Presbyterian for I am so anxious to hear Ritchie Bell as they are all raving about his wonderful speaking and he has a marvelous voice. (18 / 10 / 30) [3] Dear Mamma, I was to the Baptist social last evening. I had a grand time. They had a program and a lunch. During the lunch someone discovered that I could play so they forced me to the piano. I played six or seven pieces. They went wild over them … I did not get to early communion this morning as it is so rainy and the church is quite a distance away. I went to Presbyterian Church at 11 o’clock. You talk about a preacher but I heard one this morning. Mr. Bell is a wonder. I have never heard anyone have a voice like his before. Although he is a Presbyterian, I am sure no church including our own has ever had a better preacher. I must confess that I am just fascinated with him and his marvelous personality … Mr. Bell told me after church that he was delighted to see me there and hoped I would come again. He wants all the young people to come to his young people’s society. Of course he won’t interfere in any way with the students. This church was just opened last New Year by those who would not join Union.13 (27 / 10 / 30)

The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943 205

[4] Dear Mamma, I was to hear Miss Renoff last evening. She is a wonderful pianist. I don’t believe I have ever heard such marvelous playing. She played the most classical pieces, compositions of Liszt, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, etc. If the folks down home would have heard her they would have probably said she was crazy, but here her music was greatly appreciated. They also had Cecil Selfridge, a trained singer; his hair was as long as a girl’s and he looked like Beethoven … I do believe I should take lessons from Miss Renoff later. This evening I am going to hear the English choir. I am glad you appreciated Mr. Bell’s letter. It makes one hesitate in passing [up] such a man and going to places where you are not nearly as cordially received. But please do not say anything to Mr. Godfrey [Anglican rector] for it would place me in a funny situation … Mrs. Cox says that Ritchie Bell is a bad character. She says he likes the women too much. I will suit myself here for in June I am gone, and he can’t injure me in that short time. If you ever write Mrs. Cox, Mr. Godfrey or anyone else at Truro don’t ever mention Ritchie Bell’s name in any manner. I would not write Mr. Godfrey too much and tell him what to have me do. Let things lie dead. [italics added] Now about teaching next year. Don’t urge that I should teach at Lunenburg the irst year for I haven’t any experience. I would prefer a smaller school irst year. Everyone, even the professors, tell me that I am making a mistake to waste a year at Normal. They say I should devote my life to music as it is my calling and if I don’t do it, I am disobeying one of Nature’s Laws. I realize it myself. Just imagine the new organist coming to the Normal gets $4,000 a year. That is with the organ in the First United Church; he gets $2800 in the Normal. If I knew the organ and had some recommendations, Dr. Davis would have given that position to me. Now please be quiet about church matters to the people of Truro, for as it is I can do as I please. I will go to whatever church I feel like. Don’t mind what I say. I know you have not written anything, but am only cautioning you. (29 / 10 / 30) [italics added] But of course Elvie and Fan did mind. They were afraid that their hitherto obedient child was slipping out of their control and, even worse, straying towards another denomination. The Eikles were a mainstay of St Mary’s Anglican Church, and thus, any sign that Harold might be drifting away would be cause for alarm. The family’s anxiety


Testimonies and Secrets

may have been heightened in this instance, because the Reverend C. Ritchie Bell was a leading light among “continuing Presbyterians” – the faction that had refused to join with the Methodists and Congregationalists when the two merged as the United Church of Canada in 1925. Harold’s fascination with Ritchie Bell had nothing to do with doctrinal matters. According to Harold’s landlady, Bell “likes the women too much” – a criticism Harold delected by noting that his temporary status as a student meant “he [Rev. Bell] can’t injure me in that short time.” Early twentieth-century Protestantism placed special emphasis on the need for “virile Christians,” to counter what was seen as the dominance of women in the congregations.14 Harold, in his praise of Bell as a “wonder” with a “marvelous voice,” and in his conidence that the minister could not “injure” him regarding womanizing, was not seeking “virile” solidarity, but signalling, perhaps still unconsciously, sexual interest in another man. His feelings are expressed by his repeated admonitions to Elvie to not even mention Reverend Bell, whom he refers to as “Ritchie.” Elvie and Fan did not pick up on the erotic undercurrent, perhaps because they were absorbed by another, to them, more pressing concern. The Petite Riviere parish, of which St Mary’s was a part, had just suffered through an ineffective rector; Elvie and Fan were counting on Harold, with his musical talent, to help the new rector, Frank Fry, establish himself. In this context, Elvie called Harold at Truro and told him that she and Fan would not visit him over Thanksgiving, and that he could not come home either. The reason she gave was her fear that he would get sick from a lu virus going around Crousetown, but she may have wanted to register the family’s dismay with his ecumenical leanings. Harold complained bitterly about her decision, and undoubtedly felt that it signiied a conditioning of her affection. Henceforth, Harold’s correspondence assumed an injured, cooler tone. He opened the following three letters with “Dear Mother” not “Dear Mamma,” and continued to assert his preferences which included his decision to play piano for the silent movies: [1] Dear Mother, I was so glad to hear you on the phone to-night but you certainly disappointed me. I had fully decided to come home and that was such a shock and disappointment that I could have cried. If there is a disease down there, I think I am in just as much danger up here …

The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943 207

It is nearly 11 o’clock. I just came home from the theatre, but will drop you a line, as I must have some kind of conversation before going to bed … Don Wetmore called me up and asked me if I would play for the 2nd picture at the Graphic Theatre. They have opened a theatre of silent pictures and he is the head of it. He is the greatest musician in Truro and I shall love to get in with him. I am glad you like Mr. Fry; he must be wonderful … Although Mr. Fry may be nice, the English ministers as a whole are more distant than the others, and I am sure that he is no nicer or attractive than Mr. Bell. When you go out in the world it is necessary to mix with others than your own. I have learned that much …. Now I hope you get along ine with the Carol Service. I shall do my best if I am home. I can’t promise you that I will get a solo for it. Of course if I get in contact with any I will do my best. (7 / 11 / 30) [2] Dear Mother, I just came home from the theatre. I got along ine to-night. You are quite right, I would have missed a great deal had I come home. I saw Mr. Wetmore after the show and he said he would pay me $3.00 a night and I will be there all week. Isn’t that grand? And Mama, Don Wetmore is just lovely! He is only about 25 but he looks 45. He is just a wonderful musician and that is all he does. I fell right in love with him … I will now ring off and go to bed. Sincerely, Harold (10 / 11 / 30) [3] Dear Mother, Our entertainment this evening was composed of games, singing and solos … The games were wonderful. Some of the Agricultural students were there … They are some homely. I am sure our Normal Students can knock the spots off of them in looks … Piano Solos: 1) Impromptu in C# Minor [Reinhold] 2) The Robin’s Return [By Request] P.S. These were two of my special solos this evening, the last being requested by several girls. (20 / 11 / 30)

[4] Dear Mother, I got a phone call … asking me to play at the Rotary Club in the Scotia Hotel at 7 o’clock. Mrs. Cox said I should go so although I had planned to stay home I went over. You know what a beautiful building the Scotia Hotel is. I played for the sing song and also ive piano solos and was home before 9 o’clock. (24 / 11 / 30)


Testimonies and Secrets

Harold accomplished his course work in a dutiful fashion. Remaining in the Eikle family library to this day are copies of The Classroom Teacher, featuring such articles as “Routine and Record Factors in Classroom Management,” “Moral and Civic Education,” “Lesson Assignments,” and “Starting the School Year.” Harold elaborated his preparations when the subject was music. His notebooks outlined among other things a method to introduce music to young children. In the “First Lesson for Grade I,” pupils were expected to learn the following: (a) Breathing exercises are given to enable pupil to control breath. (b) Voice exercises [using both the Tonic “soh fah” system, and the Staff Notation “doh ray me fah” system]. (c) General knowledge of theory. (d) Songs bearing on the lesson. [Method] (a) Have them breathe as if smelling an imaginary lower. (b) Have them sing from the top of the scale downward [scale diagram]. The strong accent is always on the irst beat. Harold’s musical ability and his dedication to teaching others would serve him well. Over the years, he would earn money to supplement his modest salary as a teacher by giving piano lessons and by hiring out to play for all sorts of events and entertainments. As Harold’s year in Truro drew to a close, he fretted about changes back in Crousetown. Most ominous was the appearance of a rival musical talent. Marguerite (Margaret) Walsh came to the local area as the pianist for the vaudeville act of Jack and Lillian Duncan. She entranced Wilfred Crouse, son of Nettie and Gid, and they soon married. A poignant letter from Harold to Elvie expressed his fear of competition with Margaret, intertwined with his struggle to ind a larger purpose in life: Dear Mother, I see by the Crousetown items that you have a pianist in your midst. Now I would not get crazy over her … Those traveling companies are not regarded as very aristocratic and I never speak of them … [Mon. afternoon] I just received your letter containing the surprising news [the marriage of Margaret and Wilfred]. Are they going to live at Crouse’s and who is she anyway? Have you heard her play yet and what does she play? It is a wonder that they allowed Wilfred to marry a Roman Catholic. I suppose they

The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943 209

Harold Eikle, ca. 1931 (Paul Harmon)

will be giving Musical Concerts now. Thank you, I haven’t any desire to partake of any such affairs15 … The time is getting short now. I guess I will take that school [Dayspring] if I have to teach for I will be handy to Lunenburg and that is a comfort. I really do want to be near a town. Anyway, under no conditions do I care to teach more than a year before I take a musical course for it is spoiling my musical education and that is all I am itted for be it good or poor. Everyone tells me so and I realize it more every day. I want to be a Concert Pianist or an Organist and shall never be happy until then. I am quite willing to work for that. The teaching profession may be a good one, but I am not suited for it myself and shall never make a success of it. (26 / 4 / 31) A picture of Harold taken at the time shows a small, fastidiously groomed young man, dressed to the nines in a three-piece suit. He was clearly striving to make a favourable impression on society, perhaps


Testimonies and Secrets

even on some “nice boy” or “just lovely” fellow musician or an estimable older man like the Rev. Ritchie Bell. Although he may not have felt it, he displayed an air of self-conidence. He was ready to try teaching, but he was also hoping to have some good times. Teacher and Friend Contrary to Harold’s own guarded estimation of his teaching abilities, he did “make a success of it.” He graduated from PNC in May 1931, and in the fall, he began his teaching career in Dayspring, across the La  Have from Bridgewater. One of his early assignments was in Crousetown, 1933–4, where one of his pupils was ten-year-old Howard Shankle, who later gained recognition for his magical realist paintings of scenes around Crousetown.16 In a career spanning nearly half a century, Harold taught basic and intermediate subjects to well over a thousand students, aged six to eighteen. His other postings included Cookville, the La Have Islands, Petite Riviere, and West La Have. At Petite in the late 1950s, he was in charge of the Advanced Department, which by then enabled students to inish grade 11. In the 1960s and 1970s, he taught briely in a public school in Veteran, Alberta, and then for several years at the nearby Hutterite Colony. Throughout his career he made extra money by giving piano lessons to young people. His abilities were noted, as was his place in local society wherever he lived. He had a vivacious, not to say extravagant personality, and ceaselessly sought the friendship of others, particularly among his male peers. With his mother Elvie, he also served as a chronicler of, and kibitzer at, village happenings. Like many teachers, Harold was not an instant success. Eddie Herman, recalling Harold’s year in Crousetown, noted that many of the  students objected to calling their old acquaintance “Mr. Eikle.” However, Harold, in a phrase of the time, “had pluck” – he was demanding in his expectations and brooked no disorder. Edwin Sperry remembered when Harold swatted him for misbehaving and that “it only had to happen once.” Patsy (Ramey) Johnston also took a lick on the hands for trying to help one of the slower students. In general, though, Harold was remembered for his knowledge and dedication. He prepared his students well for the challenges of the future and especially encouraged their love of music.17 Harold and his fellow teachers, such as Arthur Croft of Hebb’s Cross, planned and directed many school concerts, which drew the community

The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943


together and gave students conidence in their singing and speaking voices.18 Columns in the local newspaper, often written by Elvie, give us some indication of the tenor and importance of these events: What is considered one of the most successful school concerts ever witnessed here was held in the school house on Wednesday evening, Dec.,  16th. The program consisting of dialogues, monologues, playlets, songs, etc. was splendidly rendered, which testiies to the careful training of the pupils by their teacher, Harold C. Eikle. One of the novelty numbers was a “Pipe Jig,” danced by Olive Conrad, a Grade VI pupil. In addition to the regular program, snappy dance music was supplied by the “Melody Boys” of La Have. West La Have: On Tuesday evening the annual school entertainment was held under the leadership of the teacher Harold Eikle. Much credit is due Mr. Eikle on the training of the scholars, who acted their parts exceptionally well … Mr. Eikle was presented with a lovely leather bill fold and a Waterman’s fountain pen, presented to him by the pupils of the school, while singing, “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” Annual Yuletide Activities at Crousetown by Elvira Eikle: A very interesting program was presented by the pupils of the school under the direction of their teacher, Harold C. Eikle. Special highlights of the primary group of entertainers were the various offerings of group singing and solos, while splendid dialogues, a lovely wreath drill and other Christmas specialties comprised the contribution of the advanced pupils.

These events showed that teaching and learning in a one-room school could bring gratifying rewards to all. For the teacher, there was the satisfaction of increasing the students’ knowledge and social graces; for the students, there could be enhanced understanding and selfconidence. And to the community, the concerts gave a sense of common purpose – a hope that the next generation might just be able to manage. There were of course days that were not uplifting – moments when sickness, bureaucratic snarls, bad behaviour, and the struggles of students to just get to school threatened to overwhelm the teacher, who, for the most part, was on his or her own. In 1935–6, Harold taught in the La Have Islands, where he received the following notes from parents:


Testimonies and Secrets

Dear Sir: The reason Merrie and Cecil didn’t attend school all winter as you already know they had whooping coughs and colds. I will send them from now as often as I can get them there but no doubt there will be days when I can’t get them there. Yours respectfully, James Himmelman. [n.d.] Dear Teacher: Marjorie has not been well some days to attend school and other days I was away with the boat so it was impossible for her to get over. We live on an island all alone … Yours truly, Walter Bush. [n.d.] Dear Sir! I suppose you want to know the reason why Marie didn’t attend school last week, but you know Mr. Eikle where we live it’s hard to get there every day especially when a person isn’t able to go in all kinds of weather. My husband is bothered with his throat and can’t go out in cold rainy weather and not only that she isn’t well herself. She get asma when the weather is wet and rough since she had the whooping cough. So when the weather isn’t favourable and she isn’t there why you will know why she isn’t there, not that we ain’t trying … Hope that Marie can attend many more days than what she has. I am yours Respectfully, Mrs. Roscoe Wolfe. (16 / 3 / 36) Mr. Eikle, I am sending you the reason that the children wasn’t to school yesterday. I had to talk with amont ploice [mounted police]. Mrs. Earle Tumblin. [n.d.] Dear Sir: I want my children to be dismissed a few minutes every day before school is out so they can come home in peace on account of a few scholars … Gloria wouldn’t let Irene get her coat last evening. She was tramping on it with her feet. Please don’t keep Irene in a whole recess for not knowing her lesson … If they have to know every word perfect, I might just as well keep them home and learn them myself … Mrs. Theophilus Bush. (1 / 5 / 36) Mr. Eikle: Lorramie was unable to be at school last week as I was sick and needed him at home. Yours truly, Frances Reinhardt. (14 / 5 / 36)

Sometimes the problem of maintaining discipline challenged home and school alike, as illustrated in the following exchange that ran

The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943


through the 1946–7 school year, when Harold was teaching at  West La Have: Dear Teacher: Billy came home from school Fri. A.M. because he said the teacher sent him home as he was back to school too early. This is what he told home. Mrs. Bertram Shankle. (28 / 10 / 46) Dear Mrs. Shankle: I am writing this letter to advise you that I have dismissed Billy from school this morning after recess. My reason for doing so was that I discovered him throwing stones towards the school door. While he hit the steps with the greatest force possible, there were several girls on the steps at the same time, and when a stone is thrown in that way someone might be hit. While I have already warned him not to throw stones, it seems that he persistently continues to do so. Because of this together with other habits Billy has been displaying on the school grounds lately, I don’t feel justiied in permitting him to be with the other pupils during recreation hours … Harold Eikle. (25 / 11 / 46) Dear Teacher, Billy was a bad boy in school yesterday. Am sending him back hoping he will be better. And I want him to apologize to you. Yours truly, Mrs. Bertram Shankle. (19 / 2 / 47) In situations such as these, Harold tried to resolve matters by working with parents who sometimes responded with hostility, but more often were simply overwhelmed by poverty and ill health. In this dificult environment, the “Attendance Branch” of the province’s Education Ofice offered little help. In 1936 Harold received a form letter illustrating the bureaucratic attitude that was becoming all too common: Dear Teacher: [Your] Attendance Report has not been received. If you have not already sent in this report kindly do so at once, so that we may have all reports in before the end of the month. Also please send in promptly the reports for succeeding months. You will notice the report has two functions – (1) to provide a list of pupils who are un-enrolled or who have attended less than 75% during the month without excuse, so that action may be taken against the parents; and (2) to report certain statistics regarding attendance at school.


Testimonies and Secrets

Despite these adversities, Harold put enormous energy and creativity into his teaching. He did so in part, however, because he believed that his life had a purpose beyond the classroom. He treasured his free time to pursue other interests – namely, to practise and perform the music he loved and to enjoy a widening circle of friends who were attracted by his talent and panache. He eagerly looked forward to weekends and holidays. Patricia (Harmon) Drew, one of his students at Petite, remembers that Harold became more congenial as the week wore on. Fridays were easy on the students. Mondays, by contrast, were often blue.19 Harold Eikle’s social world unfolds more openly in correspondence with friends. Extant letters, most written to him, were left behind in the house along with John Will’s diary. John Will had wanted his diary to be read by future generations, but it is something of a mystery that Harold did not destroy his letters before leaving Crousetown in 1964 or at least take them with him. Did he forget that the letters were there? Or was he by then so distressed that he no longer cared what anyone in Crousetown might think? Perhaps he saw the letters as a way to reveal his true self, a testimony like his grandfather’s diary for later generations to consider. We will never know. The correspondence focuses on personal relationships, with frequent allusions to the joys of a convivial social life. It is set amidst the cultural changes of the 1930s and 1940s – the end of prohibition, and the rising inluence of American popular culture that often disparaged or caricatured provincial manners.20 Harold’s correspondents were both men and women, but the letters vary in tone between the sexes. Letters from women, usually originating from a professional connection, were newsy and conventional. Stella Rafuse, wife of Harold’s fellow teacher Franklyn Rafuse, enclosed a Cree alphabet that she had been discussing with Harold. She went on to tell of the couple’s motorcycle trip to Moncton in the summer of 1932. Verna Young taught in West Le Have before marrying and moving to British Columbia. She described the beauties of the West and commiserated with Harold about school trustee politics in Dayspring, where both had taught. Harold’s male correspondents make for more compelling reading. Their letters constitute the majority of the correspondence. All were written between 1934 and 1941, years when Harold gained a degree of independence from Elvie and Fan. The letters varied in subject matter and tone. A few correspondents, like Earl Godfrey, whom Harold knew from normal school, were appreciative but formal: “I remember well your piano work and particularly remember Moonlight Sonata as you

The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943


did it from memory” (16 / 1 / 41). Most, however, sought to reach him in a personal way. Taken in chronological order, excerpts from their letters are preceded by identiication of the correspondent: Ralph Webber. The following letter, signed “Webbie” and dated 14 January 1934, was written by Ralph Webber, a local acquaintance about the same age as Harold. The envelope was addressed to “Mr. Harold Eikle, Crousetown, No. Sawdust.” Dear Harold – Well it seems to be a funny thing to be calling you dear but what else can I call you because you are a dear (even if you don’t wear skirts), for sending that music to me and thanks very much for that music case. Well here is the music I got, it is the best ones I got just now. Now you asked me if I heard anything about the Farmer’s Ball. Well, I did get an invitation the same day I got your letter. I think your letter must have had company coming east. (Ha Ha) Jo wrote to me and asked if I would look up some of the boys and bring them out … I sure am going to see what I can do. It will be come or bust. I am going to try and get Earnest R. which I am pretty sure of, and Carmen Richard. Lawrence Oh yes. And maybe get Marshal Corkum for taxi … maybe Lloyd C. with his cornet. I have not been out to Petite since New Years. I’ll soon be a stranger. Well here’s hoping it will be a ine night as I want to see you tickle that ivory again soon. I know you’ll be there with bells on and bring all the music you can lug on a wheelbarrow, the old familiar ones. And They Cut Down the Old Pine Tree for Lumber in Crousetown. From your sweetheart, Webbie Attached to the letter was a list of twenty-six songs that Webbie wanted Harold to bring. They included “Moonlight Down in Lover’s Lane,” “Girl of My Dreams,” “Home on the Range,” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” After the latter, Webbie jotted, “Why Sure.” The list ended with “Rocky Mountain Lullaby,” “Pal of My Dreams,” “If I Could Call You Sweetheart,” with Webbie again chiming in, “I Would Kiss You.” He closed with a postscript: “Hunt up what you have and if you need Sherlock Holmes or Scotland Yard Detectives I’ll hire them for you. Yours truly, La Have.” Charles W. Tumblin. Harold met Charlie Tumblin in 1934 at the beginning of a two-year teaching stint at Bell’s Island in the La Have River.


Testimonies and Secrets

Charlie was eighteen years older than Harold. During the First World War he had served in the RCMP detachment on the Halifax docks. He was married to Cecilia (Seaboyer) of Lunenburg and they had a son, Murray. Tuberculosis had forced Charlie to retire to the family’s home, where the Tumblin family, which included Charlie’s parents, struggled to make a living from ishing and delivering irewood. The three following letters form the core of Harold and Charlie’s relationship, because, due to Charlie’s health, Harold did not see him in person after July 1937. [1] Well Old Pal, I thought I would drop you a line in ans. to that which I received from you. So I think that mine will be short and sweet, just like a roasted maggot, for you know that I am a poor letter writer most anytime & especially at this time of the evening … Well I suppose that you are all in from shoveling snow today … If you were down tonight all you could do would [be to] look over for the wind would be high for to come out tonight & the Bells [Harold’s relatives and landlord] would have to put you to bed & see that you was in. I can’t get over that one, that a boarder has to ask when he wants to go out. So if you were staying with me I would only be too glad if you went out. Ha ha. Not quite as bad as that I guess you know me by this time. Well I suppose you are having your concert tonight. If the snow had of stayed away a little longer yesterday I guess you would have had us all night & we would have not got home today. So that would have been some talk for our gossipers … Your Old Pal, Chas. Tumblin (27 / 12 / 35) [2] Dear Harold, Well, Cecilia says that she knows you are having a good time up there with Cookville girls so don’t go too far that you will have to abdicate like our good old King. Well I see in the paper that your mother and Nana was at Bridgewater. So I suppose that Aunt Nettie was more contented then. I wish that we were handy to go and have a game with her for I know that she inds it lonesome. I am taking a good rest now for I see that I ain’t getting any better … From your old pal, C.W. Tumblin (26 / 1 / 37) [3] Hello there, Well old pal I have not been feeling so good, but still up around & out so one can be lucky to do that. And I had the

The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943 217

Parson to call on me the other day so what better do you want then that. Well I suppose you had a girl off on the ice every night when that good skating was on the river … Hoping to see you all soon … Your pal, Chas. Tumblin (31 / 1 / 38) The letters became infrequent as Charlie’s disease progressed. His wife Cecilia wrote Elvie, “This is a hospital zone at present with Dad sick also,” and then sent a card to Harold, “Sorry you did not hear from Charlie. He says he did not feel strong enough to write … He had another bad hemorrhage Tues. a.m.” Charlie’s father, John Amos Tumblin died on 7 October 1939 and Charlie died four days later at the age of forty-ive. Roy L. Godfrey. Harold met Roy Godfrey some time in the 1930s. From 1939 to 1947, Roy owned the White Rose gas station in Bridgewater, part of the Super Stations chain that eventually became Bob’s Shell, owned by the adjacent Atlantic Superstore. Roy and his wife Doreen were drinking friends of Harold’s. The correspondence took place in 1938–9 when Roy was working at a Super Station in Halifax, and coming to Bridgewater on weekends to see Doreen. It opens with a remorseful and likely unsent letter from Harold, then teaching in East La Have, and concludes with two letters from Roy to Harold: [1] Hello! Roy: … I do not know what has come over me of late. I have never been in this mood before and can in no way account for my melancholy state. Now, old pal, I wish to humbly apologize to you and Doreen for being so naughty last night. In the irst place, I was very tired, and then I am not at all well at present. I think that accounts for one’s actions. I thought about it all night and did not get more than 2 hours sleep. Sometimes I think I am on the brink of insanity. Perhaps in my condition I would be better dead. I realize, however, that I must not harbor these thoughts as it might lead to disastrous results, and so I am going to try and conquer this and do differently … Sometime, Roy, I should like a short private talk with you. You will never be sorry and lose nothing by it. There are a few things I should like to tell someone, and around this vicinity, there is no one I think so much of as you. I may seem strange and foolish, but always remember, you have a true friend here and I shall never fail you. It is very quiet here this evening. The lady of the house has a hooking party (if you understand my English). I have already


Testimonies and Secrets

shocked some of the old ladies by playing some hymns in the form of fox-trots; so I expect I better retire. I wish I were nearer Bridgewater. I bet I would be in town most of the time, and a “good break” now and then would make one feel better … Always a pal, Harold (28 / 3 / 38) [2] Hello Old Pal, I think you better stay around on Friday evening and have a smile of gin. You can call and get Bill [?] to get it for you. He doesn’t mind a bit and we will have a couple of hours to talk to ourselves about old times … Was expecting to see you last Saturday night but got fooled as I drove around town looking for you. I certainly miss the good times we used to have and the ways things are going we may be able to have them again before too long and I mean just that too. Mrs. Duncan arrived home last Sunday and she is leaving again tomorrow for Crousetown. She may even pay you a visit. ha! ha! … Your old pal, Roy (10 / 5 / 39) [3] Hello old Pal, What a lovely day this was to be cooped up … but I am in hopes of something better before too many weeks go by, and I will be able to wait on your Dodge again … Well, Harold, be a good boy and don’t let the liquor get you down. Save it all for me as I am bigger and can take it. Expecting to have a talk with you on Friday night and a smile with it. I remain your old pal, Roy (24 / 5 / 39) Frank Mulock. Harold probably met Frank Mulock at provincial normal school or at a teacher’s institute where common problems were discussed. Frank’s undated letter was written from Tancook Island, where he was teaching for the school year 1939–40: Hello old Dear, Now, why under the sun that God so kindly gave us to make the day bright and warm did you have to mention the word whiskey to me! I was getting reconciled to this blot on God’s landscape until you so inadvertently (and I hope! Without malice aforethought) mentioned that word. I’ve been positively drooling over the whole place ever since. Having administered this mild and gentle reproof, I know you can’t help but be more considerate in future. If I had you hear [sic] I should compel you to roll out numerous barrels, for that is the only thing that could beneit me.

The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943


Without a doubt I was ever so glad to get your letter. You will never know what a letter really means until you suffer complete isolation such I am now undergoing. Thanks for being so thoughtful, Harold. I don’t know as I’m able to write a newsy letter such as you would seem to desire … so, if you want great news, you must hereafter enclose only ive surprise soap wrappers and ten drops of whiskey, and I will immediately forward you Mulock’s Exciting Account of Adventures on Tancook Island. Send no stamps. You will be delighted with the thrilling adventures of one who dared everything to impart his profound knowledge to the culinary species of barbarians and savages known as Tancookers. Seriously speaking, Harold, it is not half as bad as I might lead you to believe. The people are kind, considerate, and quite sociable in their own way … By all that’s holy, come down home at the termination of our sufferings and we’ll celebrate in a suitable manner. We must have a table handy. I know I shall be under it. Well old fellow, send me an organ or a piano, and hide yourself in it. For, I could certainly appreciate those tunes which you are so capable of playing. Your friend, Frank. The correspondents’ banter – their praise of whisky, their shared knowledge of “Girl of My Dreams,” “Home on the Range,” and Harold’s Dodge, their criticism of “Tancookers” – relects a culture gravitating towards new media, auto-mobility, urban “sophistication,” and personal freedom. But of course there was more to it than that. On Being Different Once inside college, his discoveries multiplied. People turned out to be alive. Hitherto he had supposed that they were what he pretended to be – lat pieces of cardboard stamped with a conventional design – but as he strolled about the courts at night and saw through the windows some men singing and others arguing and others at their books, there came by no process of reason a conviction that they were human beings with feelings akin to his own. He had never lived frankly … but he saw that while deceiving others he had been deceived, and mistaken them for the empty creatures he wanted them to think he was. No, they too had insides. “But O Lord, not such an inside as mine.” As soon as he thought about other people as real, Maurice became modest and conscious of sin: in all creation there could be no one as vile as himself: no


Testimonies and Secrets

wonder he pretended to be a piece of cardboard; if known as he was, he would be hounded out of the world. E.M. Forster, Maurice, 30

In Forster’s classic novel, Maurice Hall, an undergraduate at Cambridge before the First World War, discovers that he is homosexual. Although Maurice was written in 1914, Harold Eikle could not have read it – as he might well have read Forster’s A Room with a View (1908) or Howard’s End (1910) – because the author never submitted it for publication. In a note appended to the manuscript in 1960, Forster observed, “Since Maurice was written there has been a change in the public attitude here: the change from ignorance and terror to familiarity and contempt.” As a result, the novel was not published until 1971, the year after his death.21 During Forster’s lifetime there were gay subcultures – notably, at Cambridge University, where John Maynard Keynes and his peers in the Apostles had considerable cultural and intellectual inluence. Almost everywhere else, however, the social purity movement held sway, exempliied in Canada by an 1886 law criminalizing homosexual acts. After the Second World War, gay residential areas began to form in Toronto and Montreal; in other urban centres, informal networks, often centred in coffee houses and bars, served as gathering places. Caution remained the byword as metropolitan vice squads stayed active into the 1970s. Following the lead of the Wolfenden Report in England, issued in 1957, but not approved by Parliament until 1967, Canada decriminalized “conduct in private between consenting adults” in 1969. Quebec prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in  1977, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) extended the principle throughout the Dominion. However, public acceptance and understanding continued to vary both between and within the provinces.22 Harold Eikle and his friends lived in the years before the Canadian Charter was passed. Attitudes of “ignorance and terror” towards homosexuality prevailed in their youth, while “familiarity and contempt” might be said to characterize their later years. Harold tried to navigate these social shoals by styling himself as “different.” He succeeded in part because he did not clarify the meaning of the word nor invite its clariication, especially from those outside of his coterie. In seeking relationships with other men, Harold did not see himself as part of a liberationist movement, but he did take advantage of the traditional culture’s waning powers of surveillance. The church social and the automobile were two different worlds.23

The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943 221

Beginning in the 1920s, a new constellation of social settings began to take shape that offered opportunities for young adults to live together and enjoy themselves apart from the older generations. In cities and even larger towns, apartment buildings and early suburbs were populated disproportionately by younger people, many of them unmarried, and more than a few seeking understanding of their sexuality. Even heterosexual married couples were to some extent on their own, negotiating the shifting boundaries of male and female roles. Suburbia’s later reputation as the bastion of cultural conformity has covered over the more luid atmosphere of these early days.24 The relationships revealed in letters to and from Harold echo some of these larger trends. His most sustained relationship appears to have been with Roy Godfrey, to whom he confessed his fear of going insane and his thoughts of suicide. For his part, Roy hoped for a return of the “good times” and suggested that he and Harold might “have them again and I mean that too.” Roy’s invitations to Harold to share a “smile” – a bottle of gin – while driving around Bridgewater are also suggestive. Restrictive liquor laws, combined with the freedom gained from having one’s own mobile private space, encouraged intimate contacts to a much greater degree than had ever been the case. In any event, as Forster and the Cambridge Apostles knew, the possibility of state surveillance and prosecution meant that loyalty to friends counted for more than anything else.25 Harold’s most poignant relationship was with Charlie Tumblin, an older man who was slowly dying of tuberculosis. Charlie with his RCMP background represented something of an authority igure like the Rev. Ritchie Bell. But the relationship is notable for Charlie’s yearning, which is hedged by palpable fear that neighbours (“gossipers”) would comment if he stayed overnight at Harold’s house. Other letters to his “old pal” hint at the likelihood that Harold was fending off female admirers. If indeed Harold had “a girl off on the ice every night,” he was succeeding better than he hoped in creating an ambiguous persona. This masquerade would further complicate his life in the years to come. The impression, however, is that Harold and Charlie understood each other, but valued their friendship above all. One of Charlie’s letters reveals the still-potent force of the chaperone by mocking Harold’s subservience to his landlords and relatives, the Bells, whom he had to “ask when he wants to go out.” Harold’s letters from Frank Mulock and “Webbie” can be misinterpreted. They address him as “old dear” and “sweetheart,” but these


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were commonplace terms of affection between men, even in John Will Crouse’s day.26 Still, Webbie’s comments after his song requests – for example, “I would kiss you” – suggest that Harold and like-minded friends did indeed belong to some sort of social set tied together by shared knowledge of safe contacts. The dance that Webbie and Harold were planning was almost surely a mixed event, attended by both heterosexual couples and singles, but including among them individuals who were attracted to those of their own sex. The social occasion might well be followed by a “house party” or further carousing in an apartment. Harold’s letter of apology to Roy Godfrey suggests a permissive atmosphere where pleasures were various, a subculture where connections could be made. In 1948, Harold received a Christmas card postmarked West Dublin: it was predominantly red with a poinsettia and opened with a greeting of “Christmas Cheer to You.” The inside verse read: When the SPECIAL CHEER of CHRISTMAS is a memory, may you ind You’re enjoying worthwhile pleasures That are of the lasting kind.

It was signed “Your Girlfriends,” underlined in red pencil four times followed by two red question marks. This juxtaposition of the conventional with the suggestive symbolized the two worlds that Harold inhabited. The letters were also marked by enthusiastic praise of liquor and jazz, as with Frank Mulock’s paean to whisky and Webbie’s absorption in the music of the day. For Harold, liquor became a necessity in the 1930s. Like jazz, alcohol offered an escape from the pervasive inluence of schoolhouse, church, and genteel entertainment. Liquor assuaged the guilt and frustration that he felt about his sexual identity, dulling the pain of desiring that which was forbidden. Equally important, it provided a ready excuse, should he make an advance that was not reciprocated. And inally, in Harold’s particular situation, liquor could temporarily free him from the inancial distresses encroaching upon the Eikle family. These travails became more pressing as the Depression wore on. Edwin and Titus Eikle’s lumber business in Petite languished, and Edwin was reduced to an occasional sale of pulpwood to Edson Herman of Italy Cross. In 1936, the Eikle store and St Michael’s parish hall next to it burned down. Some dry goods and groceries were saved, and

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Elvie sold them from the house, no doubt to Fan’s distress, since the inventory included tobacco. By this time, Edwin’s transactions with Edson Herman had devolved to barter – Edwin’s pulpwood in return for groceries from Herman’s store.27 For Edwin Eikle, the late 1930s and the 1940s were disastrous and humiliating. In 1938, the year of his seventieth birthday, he had a serious operation that took him a year to pay for. He also found himself further displaced within his own family. In 1947, following the death of his cousin, Norman Eichel of Maitland, Norman’s sister, Rebecca, asked Harold rather than Edwin, to serve as administrator of the estate. The matter was sensitive since Norman had died in the asylum at Dayspring, where he had been admitted “due to senile insanity,” and was buried in a pauper’s grave. Harold had the body exhumed and laid to rest in Maitland. He also assumed responsibility for communications with Edwin’s nephew, Charles E. Eikle, who lived in Montreal. Edwin’s decline became peculiarly etched in community memory by Harold’s handsome new Pontiac. Harold and Elvie were often seen driving here and there; if Edwin was with them, he sat in the back seat. His death in 1952 attracted only the brief notice that he had been a “lumberman.”28 Through it all, Fan, the matriarch, soldiered on. Photographs often showed her determined jaw line, but with her face obscured by a cloche hat. She often stood sideways in proile as if posing for a nineteenthcentury silhouette. One picture, however, a classic taken in the early 1940s, testiies to the shared heritage of the Ramey and Crouse families. Fan and Ben, sister and brother, look directly into the camera, their faces revealing a lifetime of labour, but even more, their pride in persevering. And, in truth, Fan’s careful management of John Will’s estate had kept some of the assets away from Elvie and Harold, and enabled the family to survive the Depression. And then – in a short time – the older generation was gone. Fan died on 31 January 1943, “due to a bad heart condition.” Ben died at the end of the year. Across the River, Beech passed away “after a lingering illness” on 21 April 1944. John Will Crouse’s remaining brothers, Am of Italy Cross and Ken of Petite Riviere, died in 1944 and 1946 respectively. Gid died at the end of 1947. All died in their own homes, and, as was “the custom of the country,” they were laid in open cofins in the front parlour. Robert Crouse remembers Elvie and Harold, seated in front of Fan’s cofin to receive neighbours. Nearby sat Fan’s niece, Jennie (Ramey) Sperry, youngest daughter of Ben Ramey, and a loyal friend of the Eikle family. After a


Testimonies and Secrets

Fan Crouse with her brother Ben Ramey, ca. 1940 (Cathy Ramey)

time of relection, the assemblage processed behind the cofin to St  Mary’s for the reading of last rites, and thence to the community cemetery for the burial. Fan’s obituary showed none of the unconditional love that marked John Will’s passing, but it did show that she was respected: Being of a very active and cheerful nature, she never displayed any qualities of old age. Always ready to assist in the home and community welfare, she will be greatly missed both as a mother and neighbour. One of her greatest interests was her church. Some thirty years ago she, together with a few other neighbours, devised the idea of founding a little church in their community. From their endeavours St. Mary’s Anglican Church of Crousetown originated, of which she was so proud to her dying day.

Fan’s side of the obelisk faced the rising sun from whence she knew the Resurrection would come. On it is inscribed the closing lines of a wellknown poem by Anna Barbauld: “Say not Goodnight / But in some brighter clime / Bid me Good-morning!” With her death, the Eikle family faced an uncertain future.

Chapter Six

A Family’s End, 1943–1977

We are all scattered now. Stan and Jack and Howie and Lennie and Dick … and Laura … and all the rest. Some are far off. Some are dead. Some live alone. When two of us happen to meet again one sees in the other’s face a mirror of all that has drained out of his own … Some days, loneliness writes the sleepless letters of its name slantwise across everything like a cancellation mark. Sometimes in a hurrying street we catch shop-window glimpses of ourselves mirrored among the throng and for a moment neither reality nor its image has the greater reality one above the other. We have moments … when the clock-face of everything seems stopped forever, listening to the shuddering hour it has just struck. Sometimes, happy in a group, in the middle of a laugh, the self of yourself that has gone its own way with yourself alone … stands suddenly on a vast twilight shore that the others’ gaze falls just short of. Buckler, Ox Bells and Firelies, 299–300

The dilemmas facing the Eikle family following Fan’s death in 1943 had a larger context. A recent history of the Maritimes concludes with a chapter entitled “The Real Golden Age?”1 The question mark signiied the two faces of change in the post-war era. Better roads, expanded health care and educational opportunities, combined with the appearance of new industries and occupations, led to a rising standard of living for some. Electric appliances lightened the workload, and for better or worse, radio, television, and movie theatres brought distant worlds to remote farms and villages. Women began to achieve equality in the


Testimonies and Secrets

workplace, and the civil rights movement helped historically oppressed groups to start claiming their rights. In Canada, the policy of bilingualism attempted to reduce mistrust between anglophone and francophone populations. On the other hand, the Atlantic region saw entire ways of life wiped out with the near-disappearance of the family farm and retrenchment in the ishing industry. Spots of afluence in new suburbs could not stay the anxiety of provincial governments over whether grants from Ottawa would meet the needs of impoverished families. Tourism provided some compensation for lost revenue, but also generated grievances among those who felt that they had been forced to serve others or had become objects of curiosity.2 Young people continued to leave for Toronto and the western provinces and states. Neil Jamieson, the protagonist of Thomas H. Raddall’s The Wings of Night (1956), cursed the “damn stagnation” of Seaforth (Queens) County, and rushed to meet his lover on an outbound train: “The east wind blew the engine smoke along the platform under the eaves, choking stuff, but in those moments I seemed to smell nothing but the scent of warm grass.”3 Many retirees from the Atlantic provinces participated in a migration of their own, joining other North American Golden Agers locking to  Arizona, California, and Florida. During the 1960s, 150,000 Nova Scotians left the province, a rate of exodus matched only in the 1890s and 1920s.4 Adding insult to injury, the Royal Commission on Canada’s Economic Prospects – in the Gordon report (1958) – portrayed the Atlantic region as backward and suggested that some of the population would have to be “relocated.” The Conservative government of John Diefenbaker repudiated the document as the work of Liberal bureaucrats, but the wound lingered.5 As in earlier eras, some of these larger changes had local impacts. Nova Scotia never put up bilingual road signs, and the provincial ensign was still seen more than the Dominion’s maple leaf lag adopted in 1965. Still, most of the saw mills in Lunenburg County were gone by the mid-1970s, including those in Crousetown. The pulpwood industry, represented locally by the Bowater plant in Liverpool, hired its own suppliers, and shipbuilders used less wood or availed themselves of cheap imports. Young people from Crousetown – Robert and Boyd Crouse in the 1950s, and Cathy Ramey and Melody Himmelman in the 1970s and 1980s – found new careers in the United States or elsewhere in Canada. Their professions required graduate degrees made possible by expanded government support for higher education.

A Family’s End, 1943–1977


Through letters, books, photographs, ilms, and radio programs, Harold and Elvie Eikle vicariously experienced larger cultural changes. Travelling in Harold’s car, they also saw more of their own world as well. But their enjoyments remained largely those of the village – church events, community meetings and entertainments, and sociable visiting. Here among friends there were rewarding, laughter-illed moments. Still, if one wanted to enjoy mobility and the products of afluence, money was needed. And so, over time, inancial distress pressed in upon the Eikles, marginalizing them within their village, even as they made valiant efforts to maintain respectability, or at least avoid penury. In their struggles, the family tried to remind their friends of the legacy that they represented. Elvie and Harold The Christmas cards were sometimes addressed this way, as were invitations to various events. While Edwin stayed home, Elvie and Harold went out into local society as a couple. It might be more accurate to say that Elvie was local society – the sparkle or catalyst for much that was going on. Her “Crousetown” column ran in both the Bridgewater Bulletin and in the larger Halifax Herald. A photograph, taken in the 1950s, shows her formidable personality. Some villagers were wary of sharing conidences with her, either because they wished to guard their privacy or because they feared the effects of her gossip on their other relationships. Nonetheless, Harold’s musical talent and Elvie’s gift for conversation loosened tongues. They attracted comment by their very presence at social gatherings. This was equally true among distant family and friends; Elvie’s correspondence kept those from “away” up to date, while villagers were let in on the news from elsewhere. Elvie’s newspaper reports stressed the importance of seasonal and special ceremonies. The major events were the Christmas and Easter Cantatas, and the annual Flower Service that commemorated Cornwallis Morreau, “irst white male child born in Halifax,” who spent his last years in the village. The placement of a memorial stone on his grave in 1896 remained a resonant event in Crousetown life. Elvie’s stories from the mid-1940s included the following two: 1. CHRISTMAS CANTATA AT CROUSETOWN On Tuesday evening, December 28 [1947], the Christmas Story Cantata by Holder Lillenas and Viola Wanger, entitled “While Shepherds Watched,”


Testimonies and Secrets

Elvie Eikle, social columnist, ca. 1950 (Paul Harmon) was presented at St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Crousetown. The story of the cantata, which portrayed a very vivid description of the birth of the Christ Child, was splendidly delivered by the rector, Rev. Walter Harris. Much credit is due to the choir and organist for the capable manner in which the beautiful musical selections were rendered, which certainly helped to make the cantata a decided success. [The program was as follows] Organ Prelude – Harold C. Eikle. Poem, “Before the Stars Were Paling” – Boyd Crouse. Chorus, “Come, All Ye Faithful” – Choir. Chorus, “Singing Glory” – Choir. Vocal Solo, “Mary’s Song” – Robert Crouse. Vocal Duet, “The Shepherd’s Song” – Messrs. Edwin Eikle and Harold C. Eikle. Vocal Duet, “Just From Paradise” – Mrs. Edwin Eikle and Mrs. Amos Kaulback. Chorus, “We Seek A King” – Choir. Baritone Solo, “Mine Eyes Have Seen the King” – Harold C. Eikle. Tenor and Contralto Duet, “O Quiet Little Bethlehem” – Mr. Edwin Eikle and Mrs. W.R. Ramey.

A Family’s End, 1943–1977


Chorus, “Peace on Earth” – Choir. Chorus, “Let Earth Rejoice” – Choir. Offertory and God, Save The King. Organ Postlude – Harold C. Eikle. 2. FLOWER SERVICE AT CROUSETOWN During the singing of the hymn “We Thank Thee, O Our Father,” the cross was decorated with Maylowers by Robert Crouse and was then placed on the altar. The singing, which was entirely appropriate for the occasion, was exceptionally well rendered by the choir which was ably assisted by Mr. and Mrs. Titus Eikle of Petite Riviere. A duet entitled “Old Fashioned Flowers,” with Robert Crouse taking the solo parts, and another duet entitled “Springtime of the Soul,” sung by Mrs. Amos Kaulback and Mrs. Edwin Eikle, was beautifully rendered. At the singing of the closing hymn, the choir formed a procession, preceded by Robert Crouse who carried the decorated cross, and proceeded to the Community Cemetery where a brief ceremony was held after which each member assisted in placing lowers on the graves of departed members.

On less formal occasions, Elvie continued to emphasize Harold’s importance. She seemed to know about everything: a picnic supper for the Bridgewater Branch of the Canadian Legion – “Later in the evening the boys enjoyed a jolly sing-song with Mrs. Wilfred Crouse as song leader and Harold Eikle at the organ” – the Registered Nurses Annual Banquet – “piano music … by Harold Eikle” – a memorial service of the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, and a banquet for the Bridgewater Curling Club. Finally, and indicative of racial attitudes of the time, Elvie noted Harold’s participation in “The Hometown Minstrel Show” put on by the Bridgewater Fire Department in 1944.6 Elvie also kept tabs on Harold’s social life: “Fred Allen, from Bridgewater spent the weekend with his friend, Harold Eikle … Victor Hiltz of Kentville, student of Kings College, Halifax, is visiting his friend, Harold Eikle.” In the 1930s, a newspaper column by “The Owl,” almost certainly Elvie, observed, somewhat misleadingly, The Crousetown Sheik is getting to be quite a lion with the fair sex – the numerous telephone calls keep him quite busy. A number of young ladies can be seen nightly outside the parlor window listening to the liquid notes that come loating thru the window. You see he’s also a skilled pianist.


Testimonies and Secrets

Elvie’s writings presented Harold as the quintessential social mixer, as indeed he was. There was no hint – and perhaps no awareness – that he might have had another life. The gay subculture which began to take shape after the Second World War had a subdued to non-existent presence outside of the major metropolitan areas of greater North America.7 There were few people in Lunenburg County who did not recognize the names of Elvie and Harold Eikle. They were a constant presence at weddings and funerals – boxfuls of invitations and notices testify to the gratitude of friends and neighbours for their services and participation. Elvie reported, while Harold developed renown as an obituary writer. “We would like you to do the usual writing,” wrote Josie (Sperry) Hubley, as her father Reuben neared the end of his long life. Harold also wrote the obituaries of Gid Crouse, Rebecca Eichel of Maitland, and Glenn Nauss, an air force recruit from Italy Cross, who drowned accidentally in 1955. Occasionally, Elvie edited her column in the interest of propriety as  in her report on the marriage of Jessie Bourgald and Roy Crouse in 1941: A quiet wedding took place at Crousetown, on Wednesday evening, Nov. 12th, at the home of the groom, when Jessie Elizabeth Borgald, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Borgald, Northwest, became the bride of Roy Simeon Crouse, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Gideon Crouse of this place … The bride entered the room to the strains of the wedding march played by Mrs. Wilfred Crouse. The room was beautifully decorated with large pink chrysanthemums and hemlock. While the signing of the register took place Mrs. Wilfred Crouse sang “Oh Promise Me,” accompanied by Harold Eikle, who also rendered several piano selections during the tea hour. A reception [for] some eighty guests followed the ceremony.

A “quiet wedding” with a “tea hour”? The account of Ruth Ramey, wife of Bobby, portrayed a much livelier gathering, attended by, among others, the family of the groom’s former girlfriend. Roy had provided some apple cider “that wasn’t very good,” but Margaret Crouse made some “good punch.” Ruth and Elvie got quite merry, while another guest passed out at the table, and was laid out on the lawn. Later, there was a “singsong” and everyone sang “The Rose of San Antonio” many times.8 Elvie was not afraid to mix it up. Something of a wit, she enjoyed promoting offbeat ideas, and stirring up rivalries. At a community

A Family’s End, 1943–1977


dance down at Ben Ramey’s hall, she was apt to sneak up behind one of the men and pin a donkey’s tail on his coat.9 Her letters include this bit of doggerel entitled “A Foodless Food Sale”: You’d be surprised if you counted the cost Of material, heat, and the time you’ve lost. Cooking for sale is extra work Yet nobody really wants to shirk. So we’ve thought out a plan that’s truly grand, And feel quite sure that you’ll understand. In this little envelope put the price, Of a pie, or cake, or something nice. Without fuss or bother you’ve done your part, We’re sure you’ll give with a willing heart. This is the end of our little tale, Wishing success for our foodless sale.

Another of her Crousetown columns baited the village of Petite: “Quite a number of men from Petite Riviere are employed at the various milling concerns here. We are indeed proud of the fact that our busy little community is thus able to provide this employment to the residents of the once-thriving village of Petite Riviere.” Elvie’s notions added up to a jumble of nostrums undergirded by positive thought. She kept scrapbooks illed with clippings from the inspirational writings of Will Carleton, Edgar A. Guest, and Kathleen Wheeler Ross, including this one by Guest: The Old-Time Sitting Room It seemed always overcrowded, as I recollect it now, But it held a lot of gladness for the old and young somehow. And perhaps today what’s needed in these times of doubt and gloom, Is a little of the courage of that family sitting room.

Whether host or visitor, Elvie was always happy to share her opinions or convey gossip. To be hospitable, she offered her homemade blackberry or dandelion wine. Earl Arenburg of Conquerall Mills recalled being asked if he wanted a sip after he had completed some chores.10 Stories about Elvie convey some of the ambience of village life. One involved a visit that she and Harold paid to Mrs Beech Crouse.


Testimonies and Secrets

Mrs Beech Crouse, ca. 1950 (Robert Crouse)

Wanting to offer her guests refreshment, Mrs Beech remembered that she had some “peach cordial” that had been in her basement for a while. This she served in tall glasses, which Elvie and Harold greatly relished. The tee-totalling Mrs Beech could not understand why the two staggered as they made their way home.11 Elvie maintained regular correspondence with former residents, such as Samantha and Phil Butrick, and Greta and Webster Gray. She was also a conduit for news and information sent home by the descendants of Am and Edward Crouse, and Sam and Adelaide Sperry. These letters, most coming from the United States, depicted signiicant trends of the post-war era – the strength of industrial unionism, the persistence of racial and ethnic stereotyping, the rise of sun-belt communities, and the vibrancy of metropolitan culture. The correspondents themselves had followed both traditional and new migratory paths. Samantha (Himmelman) Butrick came to Crousetown as a schoolteacher and stayed to marry Rupert Vogler, whose father Henry owned the Oar and Handle Mill.12 Rupert died young

A Family’s End, 1943–1977


and, in 1941, Samatha married widower Phil “Sweet Warren” Butrick. Samantha and Phil lived in Detroit during the 1940s, but eventually returned to Crousetown. Samantha found wartime Detroit unsettling: “Elvie, I see so many terrible things here, it makes me shiver. Oh what a life some people are leading.” Greta and Webster Gray, by contrast, embraced the industrial environment of the North American Middle West, in their case St Mary’s, Ontario. The Grays, who had met at one of Harold and Elvie’s parties, moved there in 1949. “Web” was the son of Fraser Gray, owner of La Have Outitters and Ships’ Chandlers, now the La Have Bakery. Two of his letters are of particular interest: [1] [St Mary’s, 20 February 1953] Dear Mrs. Eikle and Harold, We are getting along ine so far. Don’t know when we will get home as yet. I have been on the job steady in Stratford and have quite a responsibility to look after … I take charge of the frozen food dept., also give a hand in other parts of the plant at times. We have 250 on our staff, about 50 females amongst them, produce all kinds of meats besides a lot of other goods. We are here now about 3½ years, belong to the C.I.O. union, have a special annual social evening in Stratford this week, lots of good whiskey or whatever you like to put the pep in your chassis. It takes a good happy crowd to make a time of it and we are the gang for to do it. It’s wonderful how well one gets acquainted in a couple of years with other people. We have met lots of them, some of their ways are different from ours, but that is expected. Lots of packys [Polish] here, women have lots of beef on them. And then there are also some streamliners for speed. Lots of skating in the arenas, also hockey games, plenty dances and show houses. All you want is the dough and lots of pep, and I believe you got the pep, and maybe don’t need the dough with your winning way, hey! So what the devil do you want, an Indian or still that black man. Some of these Indians are pretty good, we only have one black family to pick from, and they collect the rubbish, so I better save a good Indian for you. He knows when to scalp his lady … I’ll let Greta inish off. Best regards, Web [2] [St Mary’s, 9 December 1957] Dear Harold, Xmas greetings to you and your mother … We are very busy at the factory, thousands of turkeys to get out for orders. Our union puts on a Xmas party for


Testimonies and Secrets

the kids and then one for the union, so things get pretty happy and the headaches come after. We are glad we had spent a few hours at your place when we were home, to renew up our old friendship. The days soon go by, but old times are never forgotten … I am still studying electronics, passed into the advanced section. Just inished building a voltmeter out of 289 parts. It works perfectly. Guess we will soon be riding on “Sputniks.” Yours truly, Web and Greta Gray Eva Sperry also migrated towards urban North America, eventually becoming an executive secretary with the New York Central. She greatly enjoyed the drama, music, and ilm events of post-war Manhattan, and developed an interest in politics as well: [1] [New York, 23 March 1944] Dear Elvie: … Am afraid I won’t get to Nova Scotia this summer … You know we are asked not to travel for patriotic reasons. I suppose you see an occasional movie in Bridgewater. No doubt Harold sees a lot of them. If “His Butler’s Sister” gets there and you haven’t already seen it, try to see it. Deanna Durbin sings beautifully in it and it’s very light and cheerful. Another very funny one is “Up in Arms” starring Danny Kaye. Love to you and my very best regards to Edwin and Harold, Eva [2] [New York, 27 July 1945] Dear Elvie: … The talk of the day here, and yesterday too, is about the British election. Scarcely anyone expected that it would go as it did. I have about concluded as my ofice chief has – that a nation that could be so ungrateful is perhaps not worth saving. The least they might have done was to have supported Churchill until the Japanese War is inished. He wanted to conclude that. Well, we’ll see what labor will do for them. Things are very topsy-turvy here too. Not much to eat – once in a blue moon we have some meat – if you have any ration points to get it with and now fruit and vegetables are scarce too … Love to you, Eva P.S. No doubt you heard of the terrible accident here Saturday [On 21 July 1945, an airplane crashed into the side of the Empire State Building]. Some reports say it just missed our building – the New York Central – they were lying so low then. The planes go over our house all night long, as there is a beam in that vicinity. Now I’m more scared than ever when I hear them.

A Family’s End, 1943–1977


[3] [New York, 25 November 1947] Dear Elvie: It is about time to be writing you a little letter and enclose the church money, so here it is. I have added on a dollar for holly for the graves … Our Thanksgiving comes this Thursday – guess yours is over – and I’m going to the theatre with a friend – we are going to see “Music in My Heart.” It is a musical play – all Tchaikovsky music, so it should be good. We are going to have dinner afterwards at the Victoria Hotel. I get to the movies on an average of once a week – last week twice – Music Hall where “Cass Timberlane” was playing on Wednesday night, and at a movie near the ofice Saturday night and saw “It happened on Fifth Avenue.” They are both good pictures, especially the latter. Don’t miss that should it come to Bridgewater … Time for lunch, so I had better “ring off.” Love, Eva Migratory paths of these years also went in new directions – to California and Florida. Flora Levenson, daughter of Edward Crouse, lived for many years in Italy Cross, where her husband Arthur operated a service station. Flora was musically talented, as was her sister Bertha Hamilton. The Levensons and the Hamiltons both moved to the United States, and spent their winters in a trailer park in Bradenton, Florida: [Bradenton, 26 November 1946] Dear Elvie: … We are ine and it’s nicer now than ever since Bertha arrived 10 days ago … I must say a word about the weather. It is just grand. I wish you could be here and see what Florida weather is like in the winter time. It is quite warm and by that I mean you can run around in your cotton dress all day and at night you throw a sweater around your shoulders … We still eat out of doors under our awning. I have a gasoline stove outside & do all my cooking on that so have no heat in the trailer. The entertainments are in full swing now. Dances twice a week, Tues. & Fri., so I’m all done up in curlers ready to trip the light fantastic tonight … Last evening we went to church to hear a Salvation Army evangelist preach. Sunday afternoon is church in the park. Bertha & I are in the choir and it’s really getting good … Just had an old lady pass away last night in her sleep. Such a grand way to go. Another man is in the hosp., and they just announced over the loud speaker asking for blood donors. The lowers now are a riot of color. The poinsettias are beginning to look beautiful … Some are pink but I don’t like


Testimonies and Secrets

them as well as the red ones … See by the Bulletin that Harold played for the Odd Fellows. I get it every week, so keep up on the gossip. So you better get going on the reporting. I don’t want to miss anything. Love to all the family, as ever, Flora News lowed throughout the year, but especially at the holiday season. Every Christmas the Eikles received approximately thirty-ive cards from Canada and ten from the United States. The names and phrases in the correspondence – Deanna Durbin, Danny Kaye, Cass Timberlane, gas rationing, bingo parties, “pep,” poinsettias in Florida trailer parks, voltmeters, and sputniks – evoke the 1940s and 1950s. Web Gray’s reference to “the CIO union” testiies to the strength of workers’ organizations then spreading across northern and western North America. Eva Sperry’s dismay over Churchill’s defeat in 1945 probably resonated in Crousetown. The darker side of these decades appear as well in Web’s derogatory comments about blacks, “packys” – Polish women “with a lot of beef on them” – and “Indians” – “I better save a good Indian for you. He knows when to scalp his lady.” Like the newspaper reference to the minstrel show in which Harold performed, discriminatory expressions, common in mid-century North America, would begin to recede only in the later 1960s. These letters conveyed affection and happy reminiscences, but nothing could stay the malaise that steadily encroached upon the Eikle family. Edwin fell into terminal passivity, while Elvie and Harold fought to maintain their status in the community. The two nonetheless became objects of ridicule, which led them to lash out against neighbours and to behave erratically. Other incidents of sadness and tragedy also struck the village of which they were so much a part. Hard Times Well, it’s not as bad as the day Harold Eikle’s cow died. Crousetown saying in the 1950s

It actually did happen. One day, some time after Edwin Eikle’s death in 1952, his cow Blossom, now belonging to Harold, just lay down and died in the yard by the house. This was a serious misfortune, since Harold and Elvie relied upon Blossom for milk, which they sold to neighbours for sorely-needed cash. It became more than that – a part of village lore – because the Eikles could not igure out how to dispose

A Family’s End, 1943–1977


of the carcass. It just lay there bloating – a symbol of the misfortunes overtaking the family.13 The trouble had two causes. First, Elvie and Harold’s spending habits and their dwindling income inally did bring them into disrepute. Second, the constricted nature of the local economy resulted in confrontations that arose out of competition for scarce employment opportunities. Community and church disputes fuelled personal animosities that made matters worse. One villager referred to the Eikles as “bigminded,” by which was meant that they thought themselves superior to others. For the same reason, others called them “house proud.”14 There is truth in this characterization, although it is hard not to feel sympathy for everyone who became enmeshed in the acrimony. As the Eikle family papers show, signs of economic disarray appeared even before the Great Depression set in. There were unpaid bills in 1930, when Elvie owed the Boston Music company for sheet music purchased the year before. Throughout the decade, Harold ran behind on his car bills and had to borrow on his insurance policy. He also owed the Phinney Music Company in Halifax, and the Publishers Guild of Canada. “We do not wish to resort to unpleasant collection methods but we shall be obliged to do so, unless you keep your payments up to date,” wrote one. The dificulties continued in the 1940s, with Harold running up clothing bills at A.L. Rafuse, Limited, and car bills at Hebb Motors, while Elvie owed Ashkins Ladies Fashion. At different times, both Harold and Elvie had notes lying “dishonored” at the Royal Bank of Canada, the Bank of Montreal, and the Canadian Bank of Commerce. Further debts piled up in 1949 when Elvie had an operation. Throughout these years, however, the Eikles gave young Robert Crouse a nickel each time that he brought their mail from the post ofice. And Elvie seldom missed a Saturday visit to the Five and Dime in Bridgewater.15 The family’s distress became even more embarrassing after Elvie took out loans from friends. On 16 May 1949, she borrowed $100.00 from Elizabeth Slauenwhite, a former neighbour. Elizabeth owned the Stay Curl Beauty Shop in Bridgewater, where Elvie had her hair done each week – an extravagance by Crousetown standards. Retired and living with her daughter, Mrs Slauenwhite wrote to “Mr. and Mrs. Eickle,” on 12 April 1950: … Now i must say something that i don’t like to say but i would like to have my money when the year is up … i hope you won’t be


Testimonies and Secrets

offended. As it is getting cold in my room now i will say good night and go to bed and sweet dreams. Your friend, Eliza Slauenwhite In the 1940s, Elvie also took out loans from Eldora Kaulback. All of these obligations, but especially the Kaulback debts, potentially threatened the family’s standing in the community. The Eikles’ straitened circumstances gnawed at Harold, and may explain his occasionally waspish behaviour. One exchange arose from competition between Harold and Jessie Crouse for the principal’s job at the Petite elementary school. When the trustees chose Jessie, Harold was outraged. He phoned her and asked if she could play the organ. She replied that he knew she could not. He then snidely inquired if she still thought that she was qualiied to be the principal. On another occasion, Harold snapped at Billy Teal’s father when he inquired about the requirements for the boy to complete high school. Confrontations such as these strained neighbourly relations and compromised community support for the school.16 The major dispute, however, developed between the Eikles and the Amos Kaulbacks, and had deep roots in the village’s past. Following their arrival in the 1870s, the Eikles and the Kaulbacks were, in a sense, unassimilated immigrants. They stayed close to their farms and only occasionally visited “town” – which to them meant the village of Crousetown. In the 1890s, the Eikle family moved to Petite and entered into the social life of both villages, while the Kaulbacks remained on their farm and had limited interaction with local society. Both families, but especially the Kaulbacks, were still regarded by the older pioneer families as outsiders, not just because they were Anglican and Conservative, but also because of their countriied “Dutch” accents. Amos Kaulback, a widower for many years, remarried in 1913. In the custom of the time, he had returned to the family’s ancestral home in Maitland to court Eldora (Langille) Breaux. A widow herself, Eldora had three daughters from her irst marriage. She was a conirmed Anglican – once informing Robert Crouse that the Church of England was “the head church, everybody knows that.”17 For that reason alone, she was not inclined to mix with Crousetown’s Methodist majority. Still, Eldora’s abilities and personality soon made her a part of village lore. As a girl, she had gone to service in Lunenburg at the mansion of the politician Charles E. Kaulbach. She took pride in her parsimony and, as shown (standing, far left) at a Kaulback family picnic, she ruled the Amos Kaulback household with an iron hand. Until she

A Family’s End, 1943–1977


Eldora Kaulback (standing, far left) ca. 1920, (Author)

was well into her eighties, she kept a club near the door to bludgeon the porcupines who ate her garden. Eldora took no pity on the pioneer generation that had irst settled on what became the Kaulback land, observing that they had “failed up.” She was welcoming enough to visitors, but not inclined to pay much attention to prevailing opinion. As she once put it, “If they don’t like my gate, they don’t have to swing on it.”18 When Eldora moved into Crousetown, her choice of friends was constrained, in her own mind, by her religion. Elvie Eikle, who had conirmed as an Anglican in 1898, thus became one of the few women whom Eldora considered a suitable acquaintance.19 But the two women were never compatible. They found common ground in their love of music and of St Mary’s Church, but Elvie’s lighty personality and spendthrift ways contrasted jarringly with Eldora’s parsimonious management of the Kaulback household. Nevertheless, Eldora greatly admired Elvie’s mother, Fan Crouse, for her efforts on behalf of St Mary’s. And so, with Fan’s encouragement, Edwin and Elvie maintained a guarded though amicable relationship with the Kaulbacks. For a number of years, the two families celebrated


Testimonies and Secrets

their anniversaries together “with immediate family and a few close friends,” as Elvie’s column in the Bridgewater Bulletin reported: The evening was spent in games and music. Both Mrs. Eikle and Mrs. Kaulback were the recipients of lovely gifts … At the midnight hour all joined in wishing each other much joy for the New Year and all expressed hopes for the repetition of this event on the next anniversary. At a very early morning hour, all joined in a very hearty sing-song of old favorite melodies, and after the usual singing of “Auld Lang Syne” the happy gathering dispersed, all having declared that they had spent a very pleasant evening. (January 1940)

However, after Fan died in 1943 there was no compelling igure to keep the two families close, especially as the authority of both husbands continued to weaken. Edwin Eikle’s lassitude made him increasingly invisible, while Amos Kaulback’s health deteriorated from the tuberculosis that still ravaged the province, and especially the interior lands east of Crousetown. In these circumstances, conlict between the two women became ever more likely, especially after Elvie borrowed money from Eldora. As often happens in such cases, the episode causing the break was trivial. In 1940, John S. Crouse died, and Amos Kaulback bought his house at the top of the hill on the road towards Petite.20 It stood empty for a number of years but, with the Kaulbacks’ permission, the ladies of the community used the side lawn for their annual garden party. Elvie took great interest in the event and worked hard to ensure its success – so hard that Eldora began to ind her very presence a trial. Adding to the tension, Elvie was simultaneously promoting electrical improvements at St Mary’s Church, which the parsimonious Eldora opposed. Eva Sperry wrote Elvie about the dispute: [New York, 9 March 1946] Dear Elvie: I think it would be nice to put the side lights in for Easter and it would be especially nice to have Mr. Harris (is that the minister’s name?) announce that they are in memory of our mothers, as you suggest, and here is a money order for $3.00 for my share. I don’t see why Mrs. Amos Kaulbach (is that spelled right?) should have been annoyed at your having the lights put in. I should think that she would be glad. It is much nicer to have light for a change … Love to you, Eva

A Family’s End, 1943–1977


It was a conlict beitting the two personalities – light-hearted Elvie against Eldora with her more sober, thrifty outlook. Matters came to a head later in 1946, when Eldora demanded that the door to the house be locked after the party, only to ind out that Elvie had kept it open so that the ladies could retrieve their vases. Eldora demanded an apology, and when Elvie refused, Eldora recalled her loans. Subsequent efforts of Amos Kaulback and Edwin Eikle to cool their wives’ tempers went for naught.21 Relations between the families deteriorated further in the late 1940s when their conlict became entwined in local Anglican politics. In 1947, Reverend Walter Harris, the popular incumbent, left Petite for another parish. The new rector, Robert Neish, though learned, was not always diplomatic. He spent only three years in Petite, but during that time the atmosphere of parish life changed. During a service at St Michael’s, he interrupted the singing of the canticles to criticize the choir, which included the Eikles. The affronted family stormed up to St Mary’s and put a padlock on the door, and Titus Eikle, warden of St Michael’s and Edwin’s brother, delivered a public rebuke to the rector. Nonetheless, Reverend Neish was respected and the parish honoured the principle of diocesan governance. Indeed, several parishioners were happy to see the Eikles “put in their place.” The conlict played out accordingly. Reginald Kaulback, Amos and Eldora’s son, cut the lock at St Mary’s and services resumed. The bishop of Nova Scotia rebuked the Eikles and informed them that they could no longer attend services within the parish of Petite Riviere.22 The pain and anger generated by these two disputes mounted as each family used the weapons nearest at hand. By recalling her loans, Eldora Kaulback signiicantly worsened the Eikles’ already weak inancial condition. As in 1900, when Fan Crouse battled with Hattie (Harmon) Crouse for community pre-eminence, the conlict between Elvie and Eldora reconigured and hardened social lines. It showed again that solidarity among women, as among men, remained vulnerable to the greater powers of envy, jealousy, and spite. Within the St  Mary’s community, the family’s conlict with Reverend Neish left some satisied with their eviction, but others regretted that the church’s collective identity had been harmed. The Eikles had contributed greatly to the life of St Mary’s, and their talents, especially Harold’s, would be missed. To the public eye, the extent of the damage was apparent only to the well-informed. Elvie, as the reporter of village events in local papers,


Testimonies and Secrets

surged blithely ahead, discovering that she now had little to say about activities at St Mary’s, and much to report on the United Churches of Crousetown and Petite. Harold too became active in the United Churches, but continued as organist at St James Anglican Church in Conquerall Mills, which was located in another parish. Elvie’s newspaper column showed her adaptive personality: The annual Sunday School concert under the direction of the superintendent, Mrs. Maurice Ramey was presented in the United Church on Friday evening. In every detail the pupils of the Sunday School did splendidly … The choir was under the direction of the organist and choir leader, Mrs. Wilfred Crouse, with Harold Eikle, as assistant organist … Mrs. Crouse sang in her usual pleasing manner the ever popular “Christmas Glory Song.” The baritone section of the anthem “The Christmas Story” was sung by Rev. Robert MacKay and Mr. Grifin, while the soprano and alto duet was Mrs. W.R. Ramey and Mrs. Elvie Eikle …

The Eikle-Kaulback dispute had one beneicial result in that it provided the opportunity to resolve long-standing tensions within the Crouse family. These had originated over a half-century earlier when Elvie’s parents, Fan and the reluctant John Will Crouse, joined the “Inglish Church.” At that time, their switch set off a rivalry, with Fan leading the Anglicans and Hattie (Harmon) Crouse the Methodists, later known as the United Church. Thus, the Eikles’ return to Methodism warmed relations between Elvie and Hattie during Hattie’s last years. Hattie’s obituary, probably written by Elvie or Harold, read in part: In her passing the community has lost one of its most highly respected persons. Of a quiet nature, she will always be remembered by all who knew her as a most faithful wife, sister, aunt and neighbour. She was always ready to lend a helping hand and to respond to the needs of others. In religion the deceased was a life-long adherent of the United Church. The funeral service, which was largely attended, was held from the United Church at Crousetown … The choir, under the direction of Mr. Harold Eikle, led in singing the favourite hymns, “O God Our Help in Ages Past,” “The Lord is My Shepherd,” and “O, For a Faith That Will Not Shrink.23

Harold’s effort to deal with the pain of the Kaulback dispute was made more dificult by his father’s death on 21 May 1952. In keeping

A Family’s End, 1943–1977


with the restrictions placed on the family by the Anglican bishop of Nova Scotia, Edwin’s funeral had to be held at Crousetown United. Subsequently, Harold retreated to his top-loor bedroom to write the family history. He focused particularly on Charles and Lucy Eikle’s trek from Maitland to Crousetown in 1873 – the accounts presented earlier.24 Writing in the acrimonious environment of the 1950s, Harold sought to uphold his and Elvie’s loyalty to family and church traditions that, they believed, had been unjustly questioned. In the Bridgewater Bulletin, Harold reviewed his family’s achievements, concluding: When but a young man, my own father, the late Edwin Eikle walked from the Eikle farm to Petite Riviere, served as organist and conducted practice for the services of St. Michael’s Anglican Church. Shrinking church obligations was something unheard of by the Eikle family in their day. Lovers of church and music, they were a happy family in the pleasures of their choice. Although the world brought many changes to them in the years extending from youth to old age, they ever continued to love their church and music. The family have now all passed into the great beyond, and I, the last of the Eikle family living in Crousetown, write these few lines. I am proud of being the grandson of Charles Eikle, one of the pioneers of this county. (13 / 3 / 55)

A year earlier, Harold had drafted a letter to his cousin Charles E. Eikle, reminiscing about the family. “They were kind, honest and true,” he wrote, continuing: Probably I live a little too much with these memories and events of the past, but they have become part of my everyday life, and while I live and have my memory, I hope to be able to recall the events which were most important in the lives of the members of the Eikle family. Mother and I are now living here in this large house all alone. We have lots of company and many jolly parties. Friends from Bridgewater and vicinity come frequently to spend the evening with us. As with several other letters in Harold’s papers, this letter was never sent. Perhaps the parties were “jolly.” But it is equally probable that the undercurrents of debt and melancholy continued to press upon mother


Testimonies and Secrets

and son alike, making optimism harder than ever to maintain. Elvie’s old age pension and Harold’s teaching salary enabled them to put up a brave front, but hard times were coming closer. The Eikles were not alone in their suffering. In the Atlantic Provinces, afluence in select neighbourhoods coexisted uncomfortably with the stubborn poverty of rural regions and urban tenements. Increased employment was generated by the expanding Canadian welfare state, especially in the ields of health care and education. The defence industry grew signiicantly as well. But in the Maritimes, these gains only partially offset the unemployment generated by the decline of the coal industry and by mechanization in the ishing, forestry, and agriculture sectors.25 In the late 1950s there was little improvement in local economic conditions. An aerial photograph of the mills taken ca. 1950 shows a bustle of enterprise around the Crousetown mills, but Nellie Snyder’s 1964 painting of the same scene also captures a yearning for the past. Almost as a harbinger of things to come, on 21 January 1958, a lood roared through Crousetown and carried away the John Will Crouse / Ramey mill. The other mills kept operating through the 1960s, but their time was drawing to a close.26 Less than two months after the lood, on 14 March 1958, a terrible tragedy struck the Crouse family and the entire community. Wilfred and Margaret Crouse’s son, Wilfred Jr, was brutally murdered. Married and the father of a seven-month-old daughter, Wilfred had just begun a career as a salesman of dairy equipment. He was abducted in front of a Shelburne restaurant by teenagers Robert Boudreau and Aubrey Eugene Blades, who robbed and killed him, and then stole his car. They were apprehended in Chester on 16 March. The funeral was held on 19 March: 3,000 AT SERVICE FOR SLAIN NEW MINAS MAN Fraternity Brothers from Dalhousie and Acadia universities carried his casket and burial took place in the family plot at Crousetown. Rev. [Robert] MacKay oficiated. Mourners were present from all parts of the South Shore, Annapolis Valley, Halifax and Truro where the victim, a university-trained geologist, who only recently became a traveler, was widely known and highly regarded. He resided with his wife and small child at New Minas, Kings County.

A Family’s End, 1943–1977

Photograph of Crousetown Mills, 1950 (Cathy Ramey)

Nellie Snyder painting of mills, 1964 (Brian Oickle)



Testimonies and Secrets

Such a crime – horriic and unfathomable – affected the community deeply. The emotional devastation lingered for years, reminding the village’s families and friends of the precariousness and the preciousness of life. Elvie and Harold mourned with everyone else, but their own lives continued to run remorselessly downhill. For a while, Harold met the demands of his job at the Petite school, but his drinking worsened. Neighbour Nellie Snyder found and destroyed a stash of orange brandy belonging to Harold and his friends, but to no avail.27 He began neglecting his household duties, with the result that Elvie was sometimes left without fuel or irewood. Edith Ramey remembered taking a shaking and crying Elvie into her kitchen on cold winter days. In the later 1950s, Elvie began behaving oddly. She had several cats, and would hold the grey Persian, Lovey Boy, in front of her face if someone tried to take her picture. The cats were needed to keep down the mouse population, but they had the run of the place, with the predictable result for sanitary conditions. John Will Crouse and his wife Fan had died after lingering illnesses. Elvie was sick only a week before her death, on 20 June 1960, at the age of seventy-six. Cathy Ramey recalled visiting her propped up in a bed in the parlour, looking out on the main road and hoping for visitors. At Nettie Crouse’s urging, Eldora Kaulback came by, and there may have been a reconciliation of sorts. From Elvie’s perspective, their feud would ind no place in the public record: her obituary left no doubt about how she wanted to be remembered: [Mrs Elvira Eikle] She was a direct descendant of Cornwallis Morreau, the irst male child born in Halifax. Endowed with a very pleasing disposition, the late Mrs. Eikle took a keen and active interest in all activities pertaining to the welfare of her native community for which she will ever be remembered with deepest affection. For some twenty-ive years she was the local correspondent for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald and for a period of thirty-ive years she was correspondent to the Bridgewater Bulletin, a position which she continued to hold at the time of her passing. She was a member of the Anglican Church and was endowed with rich musical ability which she always contributed to the needs of her native churches. When St. Mary’s Anglican Church at Crousetown was opened in February, 1914, she was the organist at the opening service, and continued to serve in that capacity for fourteen

A Family’s End, 1943–1977


Elvie Eikle and cat, 1959 (Author) years. In more recent years she became associated with the choirs of the United Church of Crousetown and Wesley United Church at Petite Riviere and was an active member of both of these choirs at the time of her passing. She was an active member of the local branch of W.I.N.S. [Women’s Institute of Nova Scotia] and of the W.A. [Women’s Auxiliary] of the Crousetown United Church. The late Mrs. Eikle leaves to mourn a sorrowing son, Harold C. Eikle, principal of the school at Petite Riviere … She was laid next to her husband with whom she shared the south side of the obelisk.

Alone To know how totally the born house was an ark of all it had ever seen you had only to be left alone in it and have it loose the whole torrent of its memory on your lesh, crushing your breath tighter than if the very rafters had collapsed. Buckler, Ox Bells and Firelies, 186

“Sorrowing son” did not do justice to the depth of Harold’s bereavement. Elvie had been his anchor in several senses. She had kept him from drifting too far, but she had also weighed him down. Whatever the complexities of their relationship, Elvie had protected him from her  friends, and they, in the years that followed, would be a greater problem than his drinking buddies. The crux of the matter was that Elvie’s acquaintances wanted to “help” – Harold was alone, and therefore, he needed a companion. In 1959, Eileen Wagner, a friend of Elvie’s who lived in California, wrote on a Christmas card that she read the Bridgewater Bulletin “every week,” adding, “One piece of news I have


Testimonies and Secrets

watched for and haven’t seen to date and that is Harold’s wedding. Time is leeing dear boy, it’s later than you think.” The following Christmas, “Florence” from Lunenburg, unaware that Elvie had died, wrote, “how is Herald, has he got a girl yet, he is some slow, har, har.” Bertha Hamilton, daughter of Edward Crouse, wondered guilelessly “if there was some young man friend that could come and stay with you for a while. Some teacher. It would be less lonely for you.”28 Into this knot of concern strode Viola Crouse Nelson, daughter of John Will Crouse’s brother Ken, and wife of Petite electrician Raymond Nelson. Like her father, Viola was inclined towards missionary activity, serving for a while as deaconess in a Methodist church in Halifax. She had married Raymond in part to rescue him from the bottle, and thus saw herself as well suited to save Harold too. Not long after Elvie’s death, she introduced him to Gladys Kathryn Warren of Ingonish, Cape Breton. Not much is known about Gladys. She had met Viola through United Church women’s work, and Malcolm Parks remembered seeing her in Petite with Viola some years before she met Harold.29 In any case, after some acquaintance, Harold and Gladys were married on 30 August 1962, at Christ Church in Maitland.30 Their wedding picture shows a pleasant-looking bride standing next to her groom, who does not look happy at all. Harold was ifty years old. The matter was not entirely the doing of Viola Nelson. Grant Crouse, grandson of Beech, was the best man, and the ceremony was well attended. The Crousetown community was well aware of the event, and approved of it in varying degrees. Village values might indulge Harold’s freedom to choose his friends and way of life when he was younger, but the same mores could reassert censorious attitudes when he became middle-aged. Even worse, from Harold’s perspective, were changing attitudes towards sex within mainline Protestantism. The “joy of sex” had been discovered and enshrined as a goal of heterosexual marriage. In this environment, Harold’s friends could not or did not defend him; he was on his own.31 The marriage was a disaster. Harold conided to a friend that he had been distressed to discover that Gladys expected to enjoy conjugal relations. At the time, it was commonly believed that one could change one’s sexual orientation by deciding to do so. But Harold’s yearnings were not “ixable.” For him the prospect or even the thought of heterosexual activity was terrifying. Desperate to suppress the issue, he sought to maintain his identity through music and devotion to his family’s history. The

A Family’s End, 1943–1977


Harold and Gladys (Warren) Eikle, 1962 (Robert Crouse)

results were unfortunate. One evening, Gladys sought refuge with neighbours after Harold tried to perform a concert for her on his auto-harp, which he had set up before candlelit pictures of his dead ancestors.32 Aside from their wedding picture, the only remaining evidence of the marriage is a copy of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Tom Kitten (1907), belonging originally to the son of Harold’s old friend Charlie Tumblin. It is inscribed, probably by Charlie’s widow, Cecilia, as follows: “Harold Eikle & Wife Gladys with Viola Nelson Visited the home on La Have Islands on Sept. 9th 1962. This Souvenir.” Not long after, Gladys left the Eikle home. Accompanied by Viola Nelson, she moved irst to Halifax and then Toronto, where she lived for the rest of her life. She died in 1999. Harold and Gladys never divorced.33 Harold’s troubles in Crousetown continued to multiply. Wild parties became common at the house, and guests began to steal the furniture and antiques that had been so lovingly cared for by his ancestors.34 Echoes of Harold’s parties remain in the whisky bottles that surface in every spring thaw, and in the memories of neighbours. Betty (Ramey) Conrad recalls Harold brick-red with rage appearing at her family’s home and denouncing the carelessness and deceit of those whose friendship he still desperately sought. His next-door neighbour Cathy Ramey remembers as a girl hearing the parties that would go on into the morning hours. At the end of an evening, Harold would bang away on the organ while bellowing the popular hymn “How Great Thou Art.”35 These performances were a trial for his neighbours, yet it is hard


Testimonies and Secrets

not to sympathize with the anguish Harold felt over the downward path of his life. Like his grandfather John Will Crouse, he yearned for human connection. Nothing, however, stayed the workings of nature and Harold’s growing anguish. The outbuildings, including the handsome barn and his garage across the road, began to fall in. In 1963 his drinking reached such a point that he was unable to teach. He languished at home until he was ired, and then, in despair, attempted to commit suicide. Cathy Ramey, then ten years old, remembered the commotion that ensued when Harold, having second thoughts, staggered to the Ramey’s house. Ruth and Bobby summoned the emergency squad, and Harold was committed to the Nova Scotia Hospital. By the time he was released, his indebtedness had grown to the point that he had to sell the house for a few thousand dollars.36 On 11 June 1964, Harold Clairmont Eikle, 52, walked away from the house that his grandfather had built in 1878. His life in Crousetown was over. Gone West Harold’s story, however, had another, happier chapter remaining. In his hospital treatment program and with the support of friends, he began to put his life back together. His estranged wife Gladys and her companion Viola Nelson let him stay in their Halifax apartment while he was recovering. Eventually, he made a connection with a school in Veteran, Alberta; he was hired for the 1964–5 school year. Veteran, originally named Wheatbelt, was established as a railroad cattle town in the early twentieth century. The prairie region suffered severely in the 1930s, but began growing again after the war, when oil was discovered. Shortly after arriving in Veteran, Harold suffered a relapse. Returning home on a bus after a weekend spree, he was unable to walk. His authority at the school was compromised and his contract was terminated.37 In 1965 Harold received another opportunity to teach, this time at the Hutterite Colony ten miles outside Veteran. The Hutterites, German-speaking Anabaptists who practised collective agriculture and preached a Bible-based communalism, had migrated to the Dakota Territory in the 1870s, after centuries of persecution in Austria, Russia, and Eastern Europe. They moved to Canada during the First World War after American patriotic groups persecuted them for refusing to submit to conscription laws.38

A Family’s End, 1943–1977


Hutterite children were instructed in the sect’s values at a Germanlanguage school led by a specially selected adult male from the colony. German school was held in the colony schoolhouse, with sessions meeting twice daily and on Saturday. Here the children learned “to read German, recite passages from Hutterite hymns and the Bible from memory, and practice writing in German script.” The Hutterites regarded this schooling as paramount, but they saw practical value in “English school” – the basic math, reading, and science of elementary grades. In accordance with carefully negotiated agreements between colony leaders and provincial authorities, these subjects were taught in the colony schoolhouse by a licensed teacher.39 This closely supervised environment made the assignment less attractive for teachers wanting latitude in choosing lessons. Harold, however, did not object and taught ive years at the colony, where he  is still remembered with respect. There were several reasons for his success. Harold was comfortable with, indeed he prized, his own German ancestry. He was a capable teacher who could control a classroom, yet no doubt appreciated Hutterite strictures on the behaviour of the children. A further beneit was that Harold did not have to arrive at the colony until mid-morning – often driven out from town by a friend. And best of all, Hutterite rules did not forbid drinking. Colony leaders no doubt knew of Harold’s imbibing, but they let it pass as long as he could get through the day in a competent way, which, for the most part, he did.40 During these years, the Veteran community also came to value Harold for his musical talent and his ability as a piano teacher. He attracted many students, and soon gained a wide circle of friends. He played for weddings, funerals, and social occasions, and for as many of the Sunday church services as his schedule would allow. In the summers he played at resorts in neighbouring towns – the Park Hotel in Red Deer and the Park Crown Limited in Coronation. Most evenings Harold could be found with a crowd of regulars in the bar of Veteran Hotel. These friends, mostly men his own age or younger, so valued his talent and conviviality that they chipped in to buy him a small house, where he lived for the remainder of his life.41 Harold wrote extensively during his Veteran years, continuing to ponder the meaning of his life. There are two main sources of his testimonies: letters he wrote to former neighbours in Crousetown; and his bimonthly column for the local newspaper, the Veteran Eagle, entitled


Testimonies and Secrets

“The World of Music.” His letters went to Cathy Ramey, to her parents, Bobby and Ruth, and to Edith Ramey, wife of Maurice. Harold’s column, begun in 1972, united his knowledge of music with reminiscences of Crousetown days. Harold’s newspaper columns display a remarkable connection between his own piety and patriotism and the values held by his grandfather, John Will Crouse, who died when Harold was two. As John Will wrote in his diary, “May the Lord hear and bless and save those who see these few lines,” so Harold urged his readers to appreciate Bach, Beethoven, and other “Grand Old Masters” of music, “for our Heavenly Father’s sake.” Harold also petitioned that “the souls of his dear Dad and Aunt Amelia (Kaulback) as well as those of the departed … everywhere who were endowed with God’s musical gifts rest in peace until His coming again.” John Will had found poetic kinship with “a soldier of the legion … dying in Algiers,” just as his grandson Harold remembered playing patriotic medleys on Remembrance Day for “a jolly group of boys” at the Royal Canadian legion hall in Bridgewater.42 Harold’s teaching gifts were on full display in his column. Using metaphor, analogy, and his own experiences, he guided his readers on how to remember a music lesson: “A triad,” he informed them, “is actually a group of three notes in one chord … Triads are sometimes broken, but on the whole they always blend in harmony.” This he related to “the Holy Trinity … (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)” and to St Patrick’s picking of the shamrock to illustrate to the people of Ireland “the meaning of the Three-in-One as shown by the three leaves on one stem.” He explained the complexities of metre and rhyme, by relating his own struggle to rely less on his own classical training so that he might better understand Irish customs, where melody followed “Boylston, an old Dulcimer hymn tune.”43 Another article, subtitled “Old Time Music Versus Classical,” tells the story of a musical evening arranged by Aunt Lillian Hebb so that Harold could hear Lil’s niece, Eva Hebb, who was an accomplished classical pianist.44 Also invited were Wilfred and Margaret Crouse whose interests were more “old time.” When everyone had been seated in the large living room, Aunt Lil turned to Eva and said, “Now, Eva, let’s hear from you irst. Harold, here, is just dying to hear from you, I know” – at the same time casting a disapproving or somewhat sympathetic glance in my direction.

A Family’s End, 1943–1977


Eva, a slim, modest looking girl in her late thirties arose, and, approaching the piano in a somewhat digniied manner, began her recital of classical music – Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, etc. Sitting near the piano, I drank in about every note and chord at the same time admiring the exquisite manner in which Eva proved herself to be a professional pianist of the highest caliber. Whenever I glanced toward Aunt Lil, she seemed to be watching me with a questioning look in her eyes. Unable to conceal her thought or emotions any longer, she turned to Wilfred … during the closing bars of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and burst forth saying, “Wilfred, tune up the iddle and you and Margaret play The Irish Washerwoman. That stuff that Eva’s playing just sounds like pig vitals.” A resounding roar of laughter went up to the ceiling from most of the guests present including Fan and Elvie. This provided an opportunity for both Eva and myself to escape to the kitchen where we, too, enjoyed a good laugh while the good old Irish Washerwoman was working overtime in the living room accompanied by the steady tapping of Aunt Lil’s foot. (18 / 10 / 73)

Harold mastered popular music and enjoyed playing it, but to the end  he advocated for the values of classical music and cultural improvement that he had learned from Fan and his teacher Josie (Sperry) Hubley. Harold’s letters home were more intimate. His personal traits – breathless interest in his own activities and passion for communicating knowledge of local and family history – endured to the end. Most of all, his letters conveyed affection for the old neighbourhood and the friends he had left behind. [1] [To Ruth and Bobby Ramey] Dear Ruth and Bobby, I am spending the night at this hotel here in Red Deer. It is very lovely and I have a room complete with bath. Last night I was at the Capri where I used to play last summer. I may be coming back there next month … It is all lovely here. Next month I must attend two weddings in Veteran. I play for the Losing-Loffelmire wedding on Aug. 5th and I am guest at the Jarvis-Cornelius wedding the next day. It is also a possibility that later in the month I may be the organist at the Schetzsle-Goldthorpe wedding in the Roman Catholic Church.


Testimonies and Secrets

A few weeks ago, I spent 6 days at Calgary – what a beautiful city! I have some friends there whom I like very much. Had a really swell time. Now my dears do please write soon & tell me the latest news. Love to all, Harold (24 / 7 / 66) [2] [To Cathy Ramey] Dear Cathy … I have not been doing much work this summer. I do plan to resume my piano class to-morrow at Veteran, so I have taken a few days off this week. One day I dressed up as a cowboy, even wore the chaps & we went to Czar [a village in central Alberta known for its rodeo] for the day. There is a beautiful lake there and the Hotel Manager, Lawrence Tomosedski, is a great friend of mine. Best wishes for a successful school year. Much love, Harold (24 / 8 / 66) [3] [To Edith Ramey] Dear Edith, This is Sunday evening and I am alone here so decided to answer your letter … This has been a very beautiful day – hardly a cloud in the sky. I played for three services today – United at Veteran, at Coronation and Lutheran this afternoon at Veteran … Yesterday I was at Stettler [Alberta, town and county seat] where seven of my piano pupils took their Theoretical Examinations. Of course I do not know the results as yet. Please write soon and tell me all the news from home. As ever, Harold (14 / 5 / 72)

Harold’s letters were illed with recollections of family and community history, many of which have been used to tell this story. He often brooded upon the past, but, in other moods, he welcomed the future and was gratiied for the present: [To Ruth and Bobby Ramey] … How are the lowers and raspberries on the dear old home place? I do think about it all so much and often dream about it … in the dead hours of the night. Lately, I have been dreaming about Mother, Dad & Nana about every night. This is something that never actually happened before. It does worry me and often I wake with a start to realize that it is all a hideous dream. I do believe that something is happening down there to cause this. Please write and tell me if this is true, Ruth. It is very unlikely if I will ever return East again, alive or dead. At one time, I thought I should come back at the end of life’s journey

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to lie at the side of my dear mother. Now everything seems to be changed. I am “westernized” enough to remain here always. The boys here have always teased me by saying that I would never leave the West. At irst I would resent it. Now, I do not. They are my friends and, my dears, when you get a Westerner for a friend you really have something to cherish all your life. True, many of them may be “rough and ready cowboys,” but all have “hearts of gold.” (24 / 7 / 66) Two letters to Cathy Ramey are particularly remarkable for their mixture of yearning, candour, and trust. The irst, alluding to his attempted suicide, was written when she was still a teenager: [1] I would love to see the old home once more. It meant everything to me and I will always cherish its memory. I planted about every lower bush there … It is all over now but many a heart ache it has caused me. Oh well, I suppose we must live these things down if we ever wish to become men and women. You were very young, it is true, when it all happened. I try not to relive the past, but live day by day and with these Westerners whom I know you would like as well as I do. My work and the people here have kept me going so I will say “God Bless Them” from the bottom of my heart. Tell Daddy & Mother that I am very well and in many ways – a new man. (24 / 8 / 66) [2] This is Sun. evening – the 2nd Sun. in June. It is exactly eight years today since I left my old home. I remember going over to your house to say “good-bye.” I believe your mother was alone. I was too heartbroken to go down the old path to see Edith & Morris … You will never know what that did to my life, but I must not dwell on the past too much. It hurts me to even talk about it. I am now 60 yrs. old and in failing health. However, during this week-end, I played for four church services. Following the Lutheran conirmation service and communion this p.m., I was invited to a big turkey dinner at the Curling Rink which was held in honor of Rev. Mohr & family who will be going to Calgary. I have been alone here all evening so thought I would write to you. Please remember me to Mother, Dad & the others. God bless you always, Sincerely, Cousin Harold (11 / 6 / 72) The core of Harold’s yearning lay in the passionate friendships of his days as a young man about town. This story, appearing in the Advocate,


Testimonies and Secrets

7 March 1974, remembered a duck-hunting trip with his friend Roy Godfrey: On that particular trip we went to Long Lake, a very large body of fresh water situated at the edge of one of my father’s woodlots. The ducks had a habit of swimming close to the shore in order to eat the various weeds and lily pads that grew in the coves. On that lovely October morning we had scarcely reached the lake when we spotted a large lock of them swimming close together near the shore. Roy raised his rile and with one shot captured two of them. He then waded out and picked up his prey of which he was very proud … Oh yes, Roy was a sharp hunter and his long legs were a deinite help to him. He used to go partridge hunting every ine afternoon during the open season and would always wait for me before setting out so that I could go along with him and enjoy the great out-ofdoors, with its lovely autumn tints and invigorating October air. (7 / 3 / 74)

As he evoked Nova Scotia’s beauty, Harold took special pride in stressing the steadfast character of his friendships there and, by implication, in Veteran as well. Perhaps, during his last years, Harold was a new man – the emphasis was his. He spent his waking hours in society, teaching music, playing his piano, dressing up as a cowboy, and carrying on with his “rough and ready” friends. In the cities of North America, the gay rights movement had begun to lourish, but it was just getting started in the western provinces of Canada. Harold had never been politically engaged, and there is no evidence that he was aware of the new activism. What he did rejoice in knowing was that he had found on the prairie the friendships that he had yearned for, realized, and left behind in Nova Scotia.45 The last picture we have shows him decked out in 1970s style complete with a patterned tie. In the background are pictures of his beloved ancestors and friends. The scene is framed by a velvet wall hanging illed with horses. In his inal column for the Advocate, he was looking ahead: Although … my own practice periods must … be devoted to preparation of the new Festival music which must be taught to various students, I still ind a small amount of leisure time for my own musical interests and pleasure. Recently I have composed a piano meditation which I have entitled, “In Those Golden Days of Yore.” I have been deriving a great deal of pleasure by playing softly this selection as background music to many old stories of my earlier life and I am making tape recordings of this mu-

A Family’s End, 1943–1977


Harold Eikle in Veteran, Alberta, 1974 (Cathy Ramey) sic and story which I hopefully intend mailing to my old friends who are still living in Nova Scotia. (3 / 2 / 77)

It was not to be. Harold died of a heart attack on 9 February 1977. It is clear from his obituary that he had succeeded in fashioning a new life from the talents that he had worked to develop since boyhood: Harold came to Veteran in 1964 and taught school both in the Veteran School and the Veteran Hutterite Colony School. He dedicated his life to bringing music alive to the young people who came to him for lessons. Harold was predeceased by his parents. Left to mourn his passing are his wife Gladys of Toronto, several cousins in Nova Scotia and New York and his many friends in the Veteran Coronation area. [A] Funeral service was held from the Veteran United Church on Tuesday, February 15 at 2 p.m. with Rev. Bob Johnson oficiating. The organist was Mrs. Jean Thulien and Mr. Mel Heistad was soloist. Pallbearers were Active – Jack Caseley, Steve Gorcak, Melvin Healy, Ray Homan, Ben Kary and Kermit Thulien. Honourary – Angus Anderson, Ronald Burns, Martin Doyle, Les Hainer, Corey Kroetsch and Dean Ulseth. Interment was in the Veteran Cemetery with Lissack Funeral Homes in charge of arrangements. Harold Eikle had joined the Lions Club of Veteran the night before taking ill, and since his decease, they have instituted the Harold C. Eikle Memorial Trophy, to be given each year at the Veteran & District Music Festival. (24 February 1977)


Testimonies and Secrets

Harold was buried in Veteran, so there is no inscription for him on the family gravestone in Crousetown; his side of the obelisk, facing west, remains blank. Nor is there record of any Crousetown memorial service. Therefore, it might be acceptable to borrow a eulogy from a writer who grew up west of Crousetown, across the Bay of Fundy in Gardiner, Maine. The poet Edwin Arlington Robinson, known for his tragic yet compassionate vision, once wrote of a friend: All those who really knew the man must have loved him, there was nothing more for them to do. The world is better for his having lived in it – which is perhaps as much as will be said of many of us, and perhaps a little more, when our houses are left empty and our memories are left to lourish or dwindle as they may.46


Crousetown, 2007

The trees and rocks, the rivers and streams, the hills and valleys were there irst, and they remain today as they were in John Will Crouse’s day. The landmark Enos Rock on the hill behind the Crouse / Eikle house has been obscured by trees, yet its very presence still warns of the dangers lurking in the granite-laden soil as it pushes downhill. The old houses still stand along the roads, joined by newer, more ecological homes set back in the woods. The village school and the small grocery stores are gone, although the buildings that housed them remain. The highway bypass cutting across what was once Ben Ramey’s pasture ensures that the drive through Crousetown will be a quick one. The mills too are gone, save the Vogler’s Oar and Handle Mill, now quite dilapidated. The dam looks unchanged, although it too would have disappeared were it not for a 1997 restoration project superintended by Scott Dummond, an eighth-generation descendant of Johann and Maria Krauss. Historical preservation also explains the large clock on the lawn of Grant Crouse’s former home near the river; it came from the cupola of the old Lunenburg Post Ofice, which was demolished in 1955. The rhythms of contemporary life are everywhere in evidence. School buses whisk the children “away” for their education, while the adults drive off to workplaces scattered from Shelburne to Halifax. Crousetown has become, to use two terms that would be strange to John Will Crouse, a bedroom community in a metropolitan society. In the evening, several of the houses remain dark, except in the summer, a sign that the village has also become a seasonal community. Elsewhere there are lights on, but few people sit on the front porch after dinner awaiting visitors as was long the custom. Electronic devices command attention in the evening hours.


Testimonies and Secrets

Despite these changes, the past remains alive in the village’s appeal to contemporary historians and in the abiding interest of the community in its own heritage. Crousetown’s historians include Barbara Robertson and Melody Himmelman, whose works focused on the mill era and drew upon the recollections of several generations of the Crouse family. In the 1990s, students from the elementary school in Petite Riviere published stories of the village’s past, and the Petite Riviere Watershed Commission documented the history of the many mills along the river in order to encourage support for future preservation. The struggle to save the past never ends, but here the will to remember has proved equal to the task. As each generation has played its part in this pageant, they have found unity within change, and change within unity. John Will Crouse’s diary traced an arc: the ambitious young millwright on the Medway and Petite became the successful businessman, husband, father, and esteemed citizen. At life’s end, he was a venerated yet sorrow-illed elder. His life experience was predominantly cyclical – guided by the seasons that set forth the challenges and opportunities to which he responded. The rains that raised the water and drew men from the farms to the mills were but one of nature’s many signals. And always there were the returns – seed-time and harvest, sun, moon, and stars in their courses – all made nearer in each person’s life by the elemental fact that one was born, lived, and died at home. These rhythms ampliied John Will’s conviction that he had come into the world through God’s grace and was now inishing his spiritual cycle by putting aside mind, heart, and body to return to his heavenly home. The generations that followed John Will, it might be argued, had a different experience. They too lived their lives as an arc from infancy to old age, but in a more linear fashion. Their identities were shaped less by the changing seasons, the domestic sphere, and the meeting house, and more by the modern world of professions and corporations. Harold Eikle’s departure for normal school and his absorption with the music and peer culture of his time were early indications of the change. Others such as Robert Crouse, Cathy Ramey, and Melody Himmelman had similar experiences, leaving Crousetown for extended education and professional careers in other locales. But for the most part they never lost touch, often returning to visit and, in some instances, to resettle in their ancestral homes. Nonetheless, their time has been one in which society continued to secularize, chain stores challenged the local economy, and culture arrived courtesy of fees extracted by media conglomerates.

Crousetown, 2007


On relection, however, the differences between John Will’s life and the experiences of later generations seem less important than those that unite them. Striving for redemption, a word strange to our ears though familiar to theirs, is one impulse they shared, not only in their hopes for the eternal realm, but in their daily work. John Will’s industry and inventiveness was in part an effort to expiate the legacy of his feckless father. Elvie Eikle’s newspaper columns bragging about Harold’s accomplishments (and her own) strove to conceal the family’s declining fortunes and maintain respectability at all costs. So too,  Harold idealized his family’s saga in order to claim a shard of respectability for his father Edwin, who had been overwhelmed by Elvie and Fan’s relentless personalities, which eventually engulfed Harold himself. Yet an even better word to describe the animating spirit they shared might be “grace” – a word meaningful in its secularized usage, as in its sacred origins. John Will and Fan, Elvie and Edwin, and Harold all wanted to draw from their own experience a gift to the present that carried hope for the future. John Will’s millwheels, Fan’s church activities, Edwin’s investments, Elvie’s Crousetown column, and Harold’s musical talent were all testimonies of faith. Their writing, especially John Will’s diary and Harold’s letters, endures; without it they and their friends would have vanished. These documents reveal the links between their thoughts and feelings and the world in which they lived. Happily, however, even such memorable testimonies leave us just short of knowing the “why” of their efforts. So, it is not too much to suggest that their creative urges came less from expiation of life’s disappointments, and more from the impulses of grace that lay in the secret chambers of their inner being. “As long as the heart is open,” Charles Bruce has written, “there is always something new.”1 This has been the story of John Will Crouse and his family, told by themselves with the help of their relatives, friends, and correspondents. In this spirit, a Thanksgiving Sunday service at their beloved St Mary’s Anglican Church is a itting place to conclude. It is 7 October 2007. On the south wall of the building, the Lucy Eikle rose bushes – Rosa gallica oficianalis, the “Apothecary’s Rose” – have shed their blooms as they have every autumn since 1873, when they were irst planted on the Eikle farm.2 Inside, to the right of the altar, is the plaque honouring Cornwallis Morreau, donated by John Will’s sister, Janetta Hall. At the organ, Robert Crouse, like John Will a descendant of Johann and Maria, is playing the processional and the congregation lifts up its voice:


Testimonies and Secrets

Come, ye thankful people, come, Raise the song of harvest-home: All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter storms begin; God our Maker, doth provide For our wants to be supplied; Come to God’s own temple, come, Raise the song of harvest-home.

The parishioners and their guests sing with vigour, proud of carrying on the traditions of their ancestors, bearing witness with those who lived in ages past. It has been our good fortune to reap what others have sown, in diaries, letters, and documents left in the old house for someone to ind, and in the generous recollections of those who knew the family. It has been a rich harvest and a cause for Thanksgiving.


Genealogies The four family trees that follow are intended to show the place of the Crouse / Eikle family within their extended family network and to identify those individuals within each of these families who play some role in the narrative. It does not pretend to provide a comprehensive genealogy of the four families. Readers wishing to pursue further work should consult the genealogies on ile in the South Shore Genealogical Society archives at the Fisherman’s Museum in Lunenburg, the DesBrisay Museum in Bridgewater, and the Provincial Archives of Nova Scotia in Halifax. Genealogical sources are also identiied and discussed in the Notes.

264 Appendices

1. Krauss/Crouse Family Johann Jacob Krauss 1726–1797 m. Maria Clara (Sweitzer) 1729–1802 Leonard Anthony Crouse m. Maria (Gearhardt)

Philip Crouse m. Henrietta (Morreau)

Leonard Crouse, Jr. m. (1) Catherine (Morreau) m. (2) Susanna (Morreau)

Catherine (Crouse) m. Matthew Morreau

Gottleib Crouse m. Nancy (Morreau)


Mary Ann (Crouse) m. Christopher Vogler

Charlotte Crouse

George Crouse


George Crouse m. Sophia (Fancy)

William Leonard Crouse m. Elizabeth (Falt)

Georgina “Georgie” Crouse

John William Crouse 1844–1914 m. Frances Ann “Fan” (Ramey) 1867–1943 Elvira “Elvie” Crouse 1844–1960 m. Edwin Eikle 1868–1952

Harold Eikle 1912–1977 m. Gladys (Warren)

Am Crouse m. Lucy (Brady)

Kate Crouse McGinnis

Percy Crouse

Simeon “Old Sim” Crouse m. (1) Margaret (Pentz) m. (2) Catherine (Ritcey)

Edward Crouse m. Margaret (Brady)

Bertha Crouse Hamilton

Flora Crouse Levenson

See Simeon Crouse Family (appendix 2)

Ken Crouse m. Helena (Sperry)

Janetta Crouse m. Herbert Hall

Viola Crouse Nelson

Lowry Hall

2. Simeon Crouse Family Simeon “Old Sim” Crouse m. (1) Margaret (Pentz) m. (2) Catherine (Ritcey)








Simeon “Young Sim” Crouse m. Leah (Vogler)

Willet Crouse m. Hattie (Harmon)

Beech Crouse m. Lizzie (Wagner)

Lillian Crouse m. Albert Hobb

Gid Crouse m. Nettie (Harmon)

Carrie Crouse m. Ben Ramey

John S. Crouse m. Amelia (Jodrey)

Merle Crouse m. Sarah (Crooks)

Boyd Crouse

Robert Crouse

George Crouse m. Loie (Bell)

Everett Crouse m. Evelyn (Mosher)

Angela Crouse Zwicker

Grant Crouse

Roland Crouse

Wilfred Crouse m. Margaret (Walsh)

Wilfred Crouse, Jr.

Roy Crouse m. Jessie (Bourgald)

Dawn Crouse m. (1) John Drummond m. (2) William Teal

Scott Drummond

Genealogies 265

266 Appendices

3. Ramey Family Solomon Ramey 1829–1877 m. Lucy (Slauenwhite) Fancy 1824–1890

Solomon “Uncle Sol” Ramey

Sollie Ramey

Austin Ramey

Bill Ramey ` m. (1) Kathleen (O’Leary) m. (2) Anita (Bolivar)

Bobby Ramey m. Ruth (Hebb)

Cathy Ramey

Gary Ramey

Joshua Ramey

Maurice Ramey m. Edith (Mader)

Patsy Ramey m. Grant Johnston

Christy Ann (Fancy) Hebb

Frances Ann “Fan” Ramey 1867–1943 m. John William Crouse 1844–1914

Ben Ramey m. Carrie (Crouse)

Gordon Ramey m. Elizabeth (Jodrey)

Owen Ramey

Hallie Ramey

Betty Ramey Conrad

Jenny Ramey Sperry

Elvira “Elvie” Crouse 1884–1960 m. Edwin Eikle 1868–1952

Harold Eikle 1912–1977 m. Gladys (Warren)

4. Eikle and Kaulback Families Charles Eikle 1832–1910 m. Lucy (Kaulback) 1835-1906

Emma Eikle m. Stephen Sperry

Titus Eikle m. Amy (Johnson)

Joseph Eikle m. Celetis (Meisner)

Charles Edwin Eikle

Victoria Eikle

Lucy Eikle and Jacob Kaulback were siblings

Edwin Eikle 1868–1952 m. Elvie (Crouse) 1884–1960

Alice Eikle m. Freeman Jodrey

Harold Eikle 1912–1977 m. Gladys (Warren)

Jacob Kaulback 1827–1902 m. Lucy (Barry) 1833–1915

Hibbert Kaulback m. Amelia (Eikle)

Amos Kaulback m. (1) Eva (Barry) m. (2) Eldora (Langille) Breau

Robert Kaulback m. Ruth (Vogler)

Reginald Kaulback m. Mabel (Hall)

Genealogies 267

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The John Will Crouse Diary and the letters and papers of the John Will Crouse / Eikle family are in the possession of the author. Other letters of Harold Eikle and local history writings are in the possession of Cathy Ramey. Introduction 1 In the text, passages from the diary will be identiied parenthetically by date. In the interest of readability, I have favoured John Will’s most accurate spelling of a name or word. I have added punctuation to reduce the number of run-on sentences and inserted bracketed clariications of certain words. Some misspellings and grammatical errors have been retained so that we can become acquainted with John Will as others might have known him, or when the usage reveals his Germanic ancestry or regional heritage. He needs, in other words, to remain recognizable as a person of his time. 2 I have used the Revised Standard Version (1952) here for the sake of clarity. John Will Crouse would of course have known only the King James Version (1611), as indicated in the text. 3 Felicity A. Nussbaum, “Toward Conceptualizing Diary,” in James Olney, ed., Studies in Autobiography (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 130, 136–7. The essays in this volume are grouped under four headings: The Interpretation of Autobiography; Ethnic and Minority Autobiography; Autobiography as Cultural Expression; and Women’s Autobiography. See also Patricia Hampl and Elaine Tyler May, eds., Tell Me True: Memoir, History, and Writing a Life (St Paul: Borealis, 2008). 4 James Olney, Memory and Narrative: The Weave of Life-Writing (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), xi, 3, 77, 422. See also Diane Bjorkland,


5 6

7 8 9 10 11


Notes to pages 9–15 Interpreting the Self: Two Hundred Years of American Autobiography (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, Reading Autobiography: A Guide to Interpreting Life Narratives (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), and Paul John Eakin, Living Autobiographically: How We Create Identity in the Narrative (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008). Donald J. Wilcox, In Search of God and Self: Renaissance and Reformation Thought (Boston: Houghton Miflin, 1975), 234. William J. Bouwsma, “The Two Faces of Humanism: Stoicism and Augustinianism in Renaissance Thought,” in Heiko Oberman and Thomas A. Brady, eds., Itinerarium Italicum: The Proile of the Italian Renaissance in the Mirror of European Transformations, vol. 14 in Oberman, ed., Studies in Medieval and Reformation Thought (Leiden: Brill, 1975), 12. Derrida quoted in Susan Mennel, “Augustine’s ‘I’: The Knowing Subject and the Self,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 2:3 (1994), 293. Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), 12, 74. The Confessions of St. Augustine, trans. Rex Warner (New York: Signet, 1963), 45. Quoted in Bouwsma, “The Two Faces of Humanism,” 8. See, Jill Lepore, “Historians Who Love Too Much: Relections on Microhistory and Biography,” Journal of American History 88 (June 2001), 129: “Finding out about people, living or dead is tricky work. It is necessary to balance intimacy with distance while at the same time being inquisitive to the point of invasiveness. Getting too close to your subject is a major danger, but not getting to know her well enough is just as likely.” Gillian Tindall, Celestine: Voices from a French Village (New York: Holt, 1995), 275, relates a similar moment following publication of her memorable history of the lives and customs of a small community in nineteenth-century France. Returning to the village, she met someone she knew and heard yet another story that led to the following exchange: Tindall: “I wish you’d told me this before!” Villager: “Yes, I’m a fool. But you didn’t ask me that before!”

Prelude. Lunenburg and “Crouse town Mills,” 1753–1844 1 Winthrop P. Bell, The “Foreign Protestants” and the Settlement of Nova Scotia: The History of a Piece of Arrested British Colonial Policy in the Eighteenth Century (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1961); Winthrop P. Bell,

Notes to pages 15–17








Register of the Foreign Protestants of Nova Scotia, ed. J. Christopher Young (Guelph, ON, 2003), 318. The introduction to the Register was written by Kenneth S. Paulsen and Terrence M. Punch. Paulsen’s unpublished doctoral dissertation, “Settlement and Ethnicity in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, 1753–1800: A History of the Foreign Protestant Community,” University of Maine, 1996, is the deinitive study of the subject. The name “Johann” or “Johann Jacob” is used here to identify the German pioneer. In general, relations between Mi’kmaw and other Europeans remained hostile through the early seventeenth century. See Ralph Pastore, “The Sixteenth Century: Aboriginal Peoples and European Contact,” in Philip A. Buckner and John C. Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation: A History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994), 34–5. N.E.S. Grifiths, “1600–1650: Fish, Fur, and Folk,” in Buckner and Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation, 57–9; William Wicken, Mi’kmaq Treaties on Trial (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002) concludes that there was less intermarriage between Mi’kmaw and Acadians than previously thought. Also, after 1636, an outpost of Port Royal remained at Fort Sainte-Marie-de-Grace (later Fort Point) on the west bank of the La Have River. See Joan Dawson, “Colonists or Birds of Passage? A Glimpse of the Inhabitants of the La Have, 1632–36,” Nova Scotia Historical Review 9 (1988), 42–61. Olive Patricia Dickason, Canada’s First Nations: A History of Founding Peoples from Earliest Times, 3rd ed. (Toronto: Oxford University Press Canada, 2002), 86–91ff. Bernard Bailyn, “Introduction,” in Bailyn and Philip D. Morgan, eds., Strangers within the Realm: Cultural Margins of the First British Empire (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), 1. Tim Blanning, The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648–1815 (New York: Penguin, 2007), 372–4; John Mack Faragher, A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Expulsion of the French Acadians from Their American Homeland (New York: Norton, 2005), 249–56. Edward Cornwallis was the uncle of Charles Cornwallis, whose surrender to George Washington at Yorktown in 1781 ended the American Revolution. Terrence Punch, “The Palatinate – Die Pfalz,” in Paul and Eva Huber, eds., European Origins and Colonial Travails: The Settlement of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia (Halifax: Messenger, 2003), 12. The board’s encouragement to migrate also interested Presbyterians and other religious dissenters in Scotland and Ulster. These emigrants sought to escape the Anglican elite that controlled the best lands, monopolized public ofices, and belittled their faith.


Notes to pages 17–19

8 Italics added. See Terrence Punch, “The ‘Ann’ and John Dick’s Protestant Recruits,” in Huber and Huber, eds., European Origins and Colonial Travails, 58–9; Stephen E. Patterson, “1744–1763: Colonial Wars and Aboriginal Peoples,” in Buckner and Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation, 135; Heinz Lehmann, The German Canadians, 1750–1937: Immigration, Settlement, and Culture (St John’s, NF: Jesperson, 1986), 32–4, 376–7. Originally published in German in 1939, this edition of Lehmann is introduced by Gerhard P. Bassler. On Lehmann, see “Interlude,” 180, 293–4n29. 9 Punch, “The ‘Ann’ and John Dick’s Protestant Recruits,” 58–9; J.M. Bumsted, “1763–1789: Resettlement and Rebellion,” in Buckner and Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation, 156. 10 J.M. Bumsted, “The Cultural Landscape of Early Canada” in Bailyn and Morgan, eds., Strangers within the Realm, 374–8; Andrew Hill Clark, Acadia: The Geography of Nova Scotia to 1760 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968), 339–56; Geoffrey Plank, An Unsettled Conquest: The British Campaign against the Peoples of Acadia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), 133–5; D.W. Meinig, The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History, vol. 1, Atlantic America, 1492–1800 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), 271; Robert Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789 (New York: Oxford, 2005), 14. 11 Christopher Young, Maps Associated with Lunenburg County Family History (Dartmouth: Print Atlantic, 2003), 8; Hank Middleton, ed., Lunenburg: History and Heritage (Lunenburg County District School Board, 1990), 16. 12 Bell, The “Foreign Protestants,” 142–51; Bell, Register, 8, 12–13. 13 Mather Byles DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 2nd ed. (Toronto: William Briggs, 1895), 24–6. In 1714, George Louis, the Elector of Hanover, ascended the throne of Great Britain as George I. None of the Foreign Protestants came from Hanover. 14 Young, Maps, 39, 44, 48, 57, 69; DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 30; Bell, Register, 318. The lots, as described by Clark (Acadia, 343), “followed a pattern of very elongated rectangles or trapezoids which, although of a little more than ive to one in proportion, was reminiscent of the rangs of rotures in Canada … The size was less than a perhaps expectable ifty acres, possibly because there would have been too little land available near enough to Lunenburg to make its working from a village base practicable.” 15 DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 46–7; Faragher, A Great and Noble Scheme, 313–64; Plank, An Unsettled Conquest, 140–1.

Notes to pages 19–20


16 The South Shore Genealogical Society (SSGS) archives, located in the Fisheries Museum in Lunenburg, contains no fewer than six genealogies of the Crouse family. The most extensive is that compiled by Elsie Thoreson (MS.S52, vols. 3 and 4). The compilations or notes of Dorothy Crouse, Valerie Freeman, David Goddard, Canon Edward “Ned” Harris, and Ida Semon are each useful in their own way, as, of course, is Bell’s Register. I beneited particularly from David Zwicker’s genealogy, Descendants of Johann Jacob Crouse (2002), compiled for Angela Zwicker, a seventhgeneration descendant. 17 English common law, by contrast, might recognize a woman’s “life interest” in land, but not female ownership. See Kenneth S. Paulsen, “Land, Family and Inheritance in Lunenburg Township, Nova Scotia, 1760–1800,” in Margaret Conrad, ed., Intimate Relations: Family and Community in Planter Nova Scotia (Fredericton: Acadiensis Press, 1995), 110–21. Paulsen cites Johann Krauss’s will, Provincial Archives of Nova Scotia (PANS), RG48, Reel 19832, to make the comparison. 18 Clark, Acadia, 12–14; DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 53–7. When the Appalachian Glacier Complex receded, 8000 B.C.E., the breadth of the La Have valley enabled it to capture signiicant amounts of organic material around the drumlins or surrounding hills. See also D.B. Cann and J.D. Hilchey, Soil Survey of Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia (Ottawa: Edmond Cloutier, Queen’s Printer, 1958). 19 Joan Dawson, “Joseph Pernette: Foreign Protestant in a Planter Township,” in Conrad, ed., Intimate Relations, 98–109. 20 In 1604, the explorer Samuel de Champlain mapped the region, identifying “une petite riviere qui affeche de baffe mer” (a little river which runs dry at high tide). Petite Riviere Watershed Advisory Group, The Petite Riviere and Its Watershed: An Historical Study (Pleasantville: A & J Custom Gifts, 1998), 2. Eventually there was not only Crousetown, but two Crouse Settlements in Lunenburg County. All of them were founded by descendants of Johann and Maria Clara Krauss. For a comprehensive history of one, see Melba Lantz, And Then a Settlement Was Born: Crouse’s Settlement, Lunenburg County, N.S. (Bridgewater: Lighthouse Publishing Ltd., 2007). See also Ann Gorman Condon, “1783–1800: Loyalist Arrival, Acadian Return, Imperial Reform,” in Buckner and Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation, 187. 21 Malcolm G. Parks, The Rising Village: Chapters in the History of Petite Riviere Nova Scotia (Lockport: Community Books, 1998), 17–28 and frontispiece map; Clark, Acadia, 368–9; Meinig, The Shaping of America, 1: 272. Paulsen, “Settlement and Ethnicity in Lunenburg,” 261–9, stresses the predominant


22 23




27 28

Notes to pages 20–4 inluence of the German Protestant migrants in the county and among the Foreign Protestants. While it is true that the French and Swiss Protestants either assimilated or retreated to small inland enclaves, the Scots-Irish kept the upper hand in Petite, and more than held their own in Bridgewater when it began to grow after 1830. The growth of the Lutheran Evangelical Church in Lunenburg and other communities in the county helped to maintain a separate German language culture that persisted into the nineteenth century. On the Wightman map, see Joan Dawson, Lost Highways: The Early Roads That Shaped the Province (Halifax: Nimbus, 2009), 73–80. Parks, The Rising Village, 19, 22–3, 31–2, 74–7; DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 51, 72, 75, 83–4, 181–4; The Petite Riviere and Its Watershed, 10–11. The Ferguson grant was sometimes referred to as the Grifin grant for brothers William and Henry Grifin, who were also syndicate investors. Land transactions are available in the Lunenburg County Registry of Deeds, 270 Logan Road, Bridgewater. For these transactions see Deeds Registry, Book 2, 118, 423. Other parts of the Ferguson grant were escheated on 2 November 1810. See Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forests, Crown Land Grant Map # 40. See also Norman Macdonald, “Land Tenure in North America,” Contributions to Canadian Economics 7 (1934): 21–44. See Ralph S. Johnson, Forests of Nova Scotia (Halifax: Four East Publications and Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forests, 1986), 186, on the tendency of early dams to blow out because of high water or the impact of ice loes in the spring. Gaspereau – known as kiacks in Nova Scotia and alewives in New England – are “a small bony ish which comes to the shore and runs up river in large numbers every spring … Their taste is much improved by smoke-curing.” See Lewis J. Poteet, South Shore Phrase Book (Hantsport: Lancelot Press, 1988), 65. Munro, quoted in DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 359–61. On privateer raids by Americans, some of which were countered by the local militia under the command of Colonel Pernette, see ibid., 65–7, 268–71. Parks, The Rising Village, 94, 131–3. Ibid., 22–3; Clark, Acadia, 368–9; Meinig, The Shaping of America, 1: 325–7. Few loyalists settled in Lunenburg County. A census taken in 1784 showed 28,347 loyalists in the province, of whom 7923 were in Shelburne. There were only 651 in the area “between Halifax and Shelburne.” See David Allison, History of Nova Scotia, vol. 2 (Halifax: Bowen, 1916), 895. A recent

Notes to pages 24–5




32 33



study is Stephen Kimber, Loyalists and Layabouts: The Rapid Rise and Faster Fall of Shelburne, Nova Scotia (Toronto: Anchor Canada, 2009). Deeds Registry, Book 4, 296. Sheriff’s sales were expeditious because British (and then Confederation) policy emphasized sovereign authority and minimized countervailing forces such as town or county government. Post-1763 “metropolitan reforms,” intended to accustom the American colonies to their subordinate role in the imperial system, failed in New England and to the south, but succeeded in Canada. See Elizabeth Mancke, The Fault Lines of Empire: Political Differentiation in Massachusetts and Nova Scotia, ca. 1760–1830 (New York: Routledge, 2005), 45–81. To know exactly which brother or brothers accompanied Leonard Anthony is hard to determine. As the Zwicker genealogy shows, the Crouses, like other large families of the time, had what Malcolm Parks has called the “unrelenting habit” of repeating the names of their children not just between generations but within them as well. In Zwicker, ive of the six sons were named John – John Leonard Anthony, John Philip, John Peter, John Viet, and, of course, just John. The sixth was named Jacob and he may have accompanied Leonard Anthony to Crousetown. See Parks, The Rising Village, 70 and Zwicker, The Descendants of Johann Jacob Crouse. Deeds Registry, Book 2, 365, and Book 4, 246–7. References to Judith appears in Johann’s will, note 17 above, and in the Freeman and Semon genealogies (SSGS Archives). Condon, “1783–1800,” in Buckner and Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation, 209. Meinig, The Shaping of America, 1: 330–2, and vol. 2 (1993), Continental America, 1800–1867, 47–50; D.A. Sutherland, “1810–1820: War and Peace,” in Buckner and Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation, 239–40; Desmond Morton, A Short History of Canada (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2001), 35–7; D.G.G. Kerr, Historical Atlas of Canada, 3rd ed. (Don Mills, ON: Thomas Nelson, 1975), 38–40. A recent study by Jon Latimer (1812: War with America [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007], 403–8) stresses the enduring nature of American Anglophobia, which lasted to the 1930s, when the U.S. Army’s War Plan Red included operations to occupy Canada. Deeds Registry, Book 5, 450, 452, and Book 6, 305. In 1812 Leonard Anthony and his son Philip also bought land in Petite. See Book 6, 389. Some of the Voglers migrated down the coast to establish Vogler’s Cove, but one branch remained in Crousetown, purchasing tracts from Paul



36 37 38 39 40 41




Notes to pages 25–8 Bryzelius and George Manthorne and also buying back one of Leonard Anthony’s holdings in Lot 11. See Book 3, 444; Parks, The Rising Village, 74–7. Margaret Conrad, Toni Laidlaw, and Donna Smyth, eds., No Place Like Home: Diaries and Letters of Nova Scotia Women (Halifax: Formac, 1988), 10; Beth Light and Alison Prentice, eds., Pioneer and Gentlewomen of British North America, 1713–1867 (Toronto: New Hogtown Press, 1980), 152–60; DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 365. Dawson, Lost Highways, 76. Deeds Registry, Book 7, 203. Deeds Registry, Book 6, 289, 305, and Book 7, 107, 317, 524–5. Judith Fingard, “The 1820s: Peace, Privilege, and the Promise of Progress,” in Buckner and Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation, 280. The Petite Riviere and Its Watershed, 56–7. See Mack Walker, Germany and the Emigration, 1816–1885 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964). On the history of a predominantly German settlement, Hanover, Ontario, see Joy Parr, The Gender of Breadwinners: Women, Men, and Change in Two Industrial Towns, 1880–1950 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), 123–228. For the 1838 census see http://seawhy.com. Farming as an occupation must be deined lexibly, since the mixed nature of the economy often enabled individuals to pursue several callings. See A.R.M. Lower, Settlement and the Forest Frontier in Eastern Canada (Toronto: Macmillan, 1936), 31–7. Parks, The Rising Village, 70. See also the diary of Margaret Dickie Michener (1827–1908) of Hantsport in Conrad, Laidlaw, and Smyth, eds., No Place Like Home, 99–115. The editors identify her as part of the “hopelessly inter-related Dickie-Michener-Davidson clan.” Charles Bruce, The Township of Time (Toronto: Macmillan, 1959), a ictional chronicle set on the coast of Guysborough County, north of Halifax, closes by noting of the family trees that form the backdrop for the stories: “To trace the entire proliferation of any one of them, let alone the whole lot, would be to get hopelessly lost in a forest of family, with no tall pine to get you out of it” (231). The Crouses of Crousetown certainly present a similar challenge, but John Will Crouse’s diary does provide a “tall pine” to guide the reader. DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 75, 81–2, 265; Parks, The Rising Village, 94. The surname Morreau eventually became Moreau, but the original is retained here because it appears that way on both commemorative markers in the village.

Notes to pages 28–30


45 Zwicker, Descendants of Johann Jacob Crouse. Pioneers buried the dead on their own land. The Old Burial Ground, serving Petite and Crousetown was established around 1825. Land for a “burying ground” in Crousetown is mentioned in an 1840 deed, and the irst stones date from the 1850s in the Crousetown Community Cemetery and in the Crouse graveyard. See Deeds Registry, Book 12, 153; Parks, The Rising Village, 122–6. 46 Parks, The Rising Village, 93–5. 47 Bernard Bailyn, with the assistance of Barbara DeWolfe, Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution (New York: Knopf, 1987), 420–6; Parks, The Rising Village, 94–7. 48 Condon, “1783–1800,” and Graeme Wynn, “1800–1810: Turning the Century,” in Buckner and Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation, 195–6, 230–2; Allison, History of Nova Scotia, 2: 800. On Inglis, see Brian Cuthbertson, The First Bishop: A Biography of Charles Inglis (Halifax: Waegwoltic Press, 1987), 167–97, and Judith Fingard, “Charles Inglis and His ‘Primitive Bishoprick’ in Nova Scotia,” Canadian Historical Review 49 (September 1968), 247–66. As the Loyalist rector of Trinity Church in New York City, Inglis had been hospitable to Methodism. After leeing to Nova Scotia, however, he became an implacable critic of the emotionalism of camp meetings and the zeal of the itinerant preachers who set themselves up – inappropriately in his view – as equals to the Apostles. Anglicans and Presbyterians sometimes cooperated to establish “union” churches, a single building in which each could hold its own services. See DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 241. 49 Sutherland, “1810–1820,” Fingard, “The 1820s,” and Rosemary E. Ommer, “The 1830s: Adapting Their Institutions to Their Desires,” in Buckner and Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation, 254–5, 271, 298; DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 434–6. 50 John S. Mayer, ed., Church and State in Canada (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1967), 154–5, 254–68; Ian Ross Robertson, “The 1850s: Maturity and Reform,” in Buckner and Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation, 340; DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 355; W.S. Macnutt, The Atlantic Provinces: The Emergence of Colonial Society, 1712–1857 (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1965), 264–6; Morton, A Short History of Canada, 59; Parks, The Rising Village, 95–7. William Westfall, Two Worlds: The Protestant Culture of Nineteenth-Century Ontario (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989), 11, argues that by 1850, “the animosity and bitterness that had divided the Anglicans and the Methodists had begun to disappear and the way was open for an informal Protestant alliance on a large number of moral issues.” Though perhaps true regarding national campaigns for


51 52



Notes to pages 30–3 expanded public education and moral reform, in the villages evangelicals and Anglicans often savoured their grudges, sometimes for doctrinal reasons, but more often as proxies for various social and interfamilial disputes. Piers Brendon, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781–1997 (New York: Knopf, 2008), 75–86. Ommer, “The 1830s,” and T.W. Acheson, “The 1840s: Decade of Tribulation,” in Buckner and Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation, 288–94, 307–11. Deeds Registry, Book 12, 85, 153, and Book 13, 300; Grade Five / Six, Petite Riviere Elementary School, Historic Treasures of Our Community, “The Old Crouse House” (Petite Riviere Publishing, 1999), 1–3. The house built by Sim Crouse and his father Gottlieb is today the home of Billy and Dawn Teal, Dawn being Gottlieb’s great-great granddaughter. Parks, The Rising Village, 70–4. The pioneer Joseph Falt was a German-born surgeon with the Royal Navy during the American Revolution. After 1803 he served as the irst resident physician for Petite and environs. Joseph’s son Humphrey (1792–1889) was the father of John Will’s mother Elizabeth (1821–1903).

1. Young Man on the Rise 1 Meinig, The Shaping of America, 2: 54–5; Acheson, “The 1840s,” Robertson, “The 1850s,” and Phillip A. Buckner, “The 1860s: An End and a Beginning,” in Buckner and Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation, 307–11, 323–32, 336, 375–85; Margaret R. Conrad and James K. Hiller, Atlantic Canada: A Region in the Making (Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 2001), 117. 2 Macnutt, The Atlantic Provinces, 249; J. Murray Beck, “Lunenburg in the Struggle for Responsible Government,” in Middleton, ed., Lunenburg, 111–12; Brian Cuthbertson, Johnny Bluenose at the Polls: Epic Nova Scotian Election Battles, 1758–1848 (Halifax: Formac, 1994), 161–87. See also Thomas H. Raddall, The Path of Destiny: Canada from the British Conquest to Home Rule (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957), 404–20, still a succinct summary of the rising support for responsible government, and Donald F. Warner, “The Post-Confederation Annexationist Movement in Nova Scotia,” in R. Douglas Francis and Donald B. Smith, eds., Readings in Canadian History (Toronto: Holt, Rinehart and Winston of Canada, 1982), 2–10. 3 Ida Semon and Canon Ned Harris genealogies, SSGS Archives.

Notes to pages 34–9


4 Parks, The Rising Village, 131–47; Paul Axelrod, The Promise of Schooling: Education in Canada, 1800–1914 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997), 24–43; Deeds Registry, Book 15, 102; Ruth Kaulback, “Twin Historical Gems: Petite Riviere and Crousetown, N.S.,” Nova Scotia Historical Quarterly, 1975 supp., 55–65. 5 Robert Crouse to author, 28 February 2008; Deeds Registry, Book 13, 162, and Book 15, 503. 6 Deeds Registry, Book 16, 556, and Book 18, 356. 7 The photograph of the Yankee came from Nellie Snyder whose family owned the mill in the foreground, the last remaining in Crousetown. See also Halifax Chronicle Herald, 28 January 1958; Barbara Robertson, Sawpower: Making Lumber in the Sawmills of Nova Scotia (Halifax: Nimbus, 1986), 54. 8 Will of William Leonard Crouse, Ofice of Probate, Lunenburg and Queens Counties, 114 High St., Bridgewater, NS, Will Book 4, 211; Deeds Registry, Book 18, 89. 9 Will of Gottlieb Crouse, Probate, Will Book 4, 123. 10 Parks, The Rising Village, 133–5; Dawson, Lost Highways, 73–80; Hutchinson’s Nova Scotia Directory (1864–5); The Petite Riviere and Its Watershed, 61–2. 11 The peavey was a six foot pole with an iron hook used to drive logs on the river. See Poteet, South Shore Phrase Book, 27, 55, 85–6. 12 Parks, The Rising Village, 44–6. 13 In common law, “The Lady’s Law” (1732). See http://paleo.anglonorman.org/law2.html. Canadian law also gave women protection from prosecution for “theft, burglary, and other civil offences against the Laws of Society” when these were committed “by the coercion of her husband.” On the other hand, Nova Scotia, the irst colony in the British Empire to win responsible government in 1848, deliberately deprived women of the vote three years later. See Light and Prentice, eds., Pioneer and Gentlewomen, 219–20; Margaret Conrad, “‘Sundays always make me think of home’: Time and Place in Women’s History,” in Veronica Strong-Boag and Claire Fellman, eds., Rethinking Canada: The Promise of Women’s History, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Copp Clark Pittman Ltd., 1999), 99. 14 Blanning, The Pursuit of Glory, 476–81, notes the increase of literacy for both sexes in northern Europe, from 1700 on. Other studies question the rate of advance, particularly for young women. See Tindall, Celestine, 28, 70–2, 171–2. 15 Robertson, Sawpower, 22–9; Johnson, Forests of Nova Scotia, 187; Mike Parker, Woodchips & Beans: Life in the Early Lumber Woods of Nova Scotia (Halifax: Nimbus, 1992), 3. See also Poteet, South Shore Phase Book, 120–1.


Notes to pages 39–46

16 Denise D. (Daniels) Rice, Fancys of Lunenburg County (Lunenburg: South Shore Genealogical Society), 5. 17 Humph’s Hill, the highest point in Ferguson’s Crousetown lots, was named after Humphrey Falt (1792–1889), father of John Will Crouse’s mother, Elizabeth. 18 Macdonald, “Land Tenure in North America,” 28–9. The growing complexities of land titles are well illustrated in the sale by Nancy Crouse et al. of the Gottlieb Crouse holdings to Solomon Ramey in 1862. See Deeds Registry, Book 18, 89. 19 Johnson, Forests of Nova Scotia, 230–1. 20 On the extensive reach of the Medway watershed, see James F. More, The History of Queens County, N.S. (Belleville, ON: Mika Studio, 1972); originally published in 1873 (Halifax: Nova Scotia Printing Co.), 208–17. 21 Tom Sheppard, Historic Queens County (Halifax: Nimbus, 1991), 75–7; The Petite Riviere and Its Watershed, v, 16, 41–6; Sheppard, Historic Bridgewater (Halifax: Nimbus, 2008), 101–4; DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 219–20; Friends of the DesBrisay Museum and Bridgewater Heritage and Historical Museum, One Hundred Years: A Pictorial History of Bridgewater (Bridgewater: Lighthouse Publishing Ltd., 1999), 56–7; Pauline M. Veinotte, Newburne Then and Now, 1837–1987 (Bridgewater: Langille, 1989), 26–7; Robertson, Sawpower, 36. On the greater agricultural productivity of Lunenburg County, compare DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 435–9 with James Morrison, “The Harlow Diaries: Farming in Nineteenth Century Nova Scotia,” Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society 42 (1986), 19. Maurice Harlow (1859–1935) farmed and kept store in North Brookield, Queens County. Microilm of the diary is available at PANS. 22 Sheppard, Historic Queens County, 59; Frederick H. Burnaby, The BarnabyBurnaby Family in North America, 1640–1982 (Liverpool: Queens County Archives), 343–52. In the middle of Ponhook Lake, which feeds the Medway River above Greenield, are two islands – Glode’s and Little Glode’s, named after a Mi’kmaw family that lived there seasonally. A branch of the Glode family lived near Crousetown in the irst half of the twentieth century. See “Interlude,” 177, 293n22. See also David Hackett Fischer, Champlain’s Dream (New York: Simon & Shuster, 2008), 162–3. 23 Robertson, Sawpower, 27–8. 24 Craik was published by Henry Carey (Philadelphia). Kingsley selfpublished in Calais, Maine. 25 Robertson, Sawpower, 54.

Notes to pages 47–57


26 Melody Himmelman, “Chips and Sawdust: Folklore and Oral History of the Crousetown Lumber and Milling Industry,” in Laurie Lacey, ed., Lunenburg County Folklore and Oral History Project ’77 (Ottawa: National Museums of Canada, 1979), 47. 27 “Smart” meant “active, well.” Poteet, South Shore Phrase Book, 103. 28 Ommer, “The 1830s,” in Buckner and Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation, 297; Parks, The Rising Village, 204–13; More, The History of Queens County, 118–20; DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 357, 363, 370; Nova Scotia Archives, MG (Manuscript Group) 29, vol. 69, and RG (Record Group) 20, Series A, Vol. 70. 29 Liverpool Transcript, 13 June and 6 October 1859. 30 See Kimber, Loyalists and Layabouts. Neighbouring counties, such as Queens and Lunenburg, varied signiicantly in economic and cultural composition, giving Nova Scotia politics its factional quality that weakened the province in the debates over Confederation. See Kenneth G. Pryke, Nova Scotia and Confederation, 1864–74 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974). The best collection of local history materials may be found at http://rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canns/queens or http://www .rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canns/lunenburg. 31 The Old Meeting House is maintained today by the Port Medway Heritage Society. 32 See J.I. Little, “The Mental World of Ralph Merry: A Case Study of Popular Religion in the Lower Canadian New England Borderland, 1798–1863,” Canadian Historical Review 83 (2002), 362–3. Little portrays Merry, “a sociable man with a circle of like-minded friends,” as gaining some emotional stability from church-going, but also suffering from “introversion, self-criticism and oppressively morbid loneliness.” See also Westfall, Two Worlds, 73–8. 33 Canadian Methodism was deined by its assertive yet non-revolutionary individualism that it well within an environment of weak established institutions, both governmental and religious. It shared with Anglicans an allegiance to the Crown. In the United States, Methodism identiied itself with the more aggressive covenant ideal – the nation embodying God’s purposes in the world. See articles by Mark A. Noll and George A. Rawlyk in Evangelism: Comparative Studies of Popular Protestantism in North America, the British Isles and Beyond, 1700–1900 (New York: Oxford, 1994), 113–55. 34 Robin W. Winks, The Blacks in Canada, 2nd ed. (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997), 56–7, 130, 138–41; Winks, The Civil War Years: Canada and the United States, 4th ed. (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998), 248–9; More, The History of Queens County, 126–7. The British


Notes to pages 57–63

Methodist Episcopal Church (BME), though separate from the white Methodist Conference, joined it in condemning the American Fugitive Slave Act. The BME reunited with the American Methodist Episcopal Church in 1884. 35 Julian Gwyn, Excessive Expectations: Maritime Commerce and the Economic Development of Nova Scotia, 1740–1870 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998), 107–9. 36 Parks, The Rising Village, 100–1, 108–10. Parks notes that there were always pews left free for newcomers and visitors. Most years the church ran a deicit that had to be covered by special collections of various kinds. John Will’s uncle, Old Sim Crouse, donated lumber to build the church in 1867, and thereafter is listed sporadically as a pew holder. John Will paid a pew rent averaging $4.50 from 1868 to 1880, the last year for which there is information. See Pastoral Charge Records, South Shore Presbytery, 98-054, folder #1, Methodist Conference Archives, Sackville, NB. 2. John Will Crouse’s Village, 1871–1884 1 There were more than a few Kissing Bridges in Nova Scotia. Typically places of courtship, they were also points of departure where loved ones separated before long and sometimes dificult journeys. See, for example, Thomas H. Raddall, Halifax: Warden of the North (Garden City: Doubleday, 1965), 56. Crousetown’s likely came from Lunenburg, where the Kissing Bridge crossed from the town to First Peninsula where the Crouse family irst settled in 1753. A Crousetown story tells of a man who dropped a jug of spirits into the stream under the bridge and plunged in to “kiss” the waters in the hope of saving a taste. Interview with Nellie Snyder, 30 June 2011. 2 Himmelman, “Chips and Sawdust,” 48. 3 Conrad and Hiller, Atlantic Canada, 111, 143–4. 4 DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 440. 5 From the beginning of settlement, Anglicans exercised great inluence, although, at irst, their numbers were not large. By the time of Confederation, their claim to being the province’s established church had been defeated, but they were attracting an increased following from all social classes. See D.A. Muise, “The 1860s: Forging the Bonds of Union,” and Phillip A. Buckner, “The 1870s: Political Integration,” in E.R. Forbes and D.A. Muise, eds., The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993), 28–9, 55–60. 6 DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 435–40.

Notes to pages 63–71


7 A.R. MacNeil, “Mobility and Rural Society in Annapolis Township, Nova Scotia, 1760–1861,” in Donald H. Akenson, ed., Canadian Papers in Rural History 9 (1994), 239–57. MacNeil documents substantial economic mobility in a supposedly “static” rural environment. 8 Parks, The Rising Village, 97. An Anglican chapel was built in Petite in 1854 to serve seven families. 9 Beck, “Leading Men and Families in Early Lunenburg: Martin Kaulbach and the Kaulbach Family,” in Middleton, ed., Lunenburg, 144–7; Punch and Paulsen, eds., Register, 295. Subsequent investigation was unable to verify the family’s claim. 10 See http://www.seawhy.com/cen38.html; DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 110–11. One of Charles E. Kaulbach’s brothers, James A. Kaulbach, became rector of the Anglican Church in Truro, and served as archdeacon of the Diocese of Nova Scotia. 11 Lunenburg Deeds Registry, Book 20, 265. 12 Deeds Registry, Book 25, 357. Most of the Crown lands of Nova Scotia had been sold by the 1850s. 13 Harry Bishop Oickle, The Descendants of John Eichel and Mary Elizabeth Bouteiller (Lunenburg: SSGS Archives), 1, 9; http://progenealogists.com/ palproject; http://seawhy.com/cen38i.html. T.M. Punch, “The Montbeliard Contribution to the Foreign Protestant Settlement of Nova Scotia,” in Huber and Huber, eds., European Origins and Colonial Travails, 146–7. Montbeliardis were French-speaking Lutherans whose principality was forcibly absorbed by France in 1793. 14 Harold Eikle’s historical writings and letters and other genealogical information and reminiscences have been collected by Cathy Ramey, his next-door neighbour during his last years in Crousetown. Hereinafter cited as Ramey MS. 15 See also Conrad, Laidlaw, and Smith, eds., No Place Like Home, especially the diary of Louisa Collins (1797–1869), the “second of at least eight daughters” who grew up in Cole Harbour, north of Halifax. 16 Richard Henning Field, Spirit of Nova Scotia: Traditional Decorative Folk Art, 1780–1930 (Halifax: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 1985), 2, 126. 17 DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 72, 75, 181–4. George Fancy was a surveyor for John Pernette, son of Joseph Pernette whose large Crown extended to the eastern side of Crousetown. See “Prelude,” 20. 18 Rice, Fancys of Lunenburg County, 5. 19 Hazel Kaulbach Bolivar, History of Conquerall Mills, 1806–1974 (Typescript, Bridgewater Public Library), 3; DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunen-


20 21 22

23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

32 33 34 35 36 37


39 40

Notes to pages 72–90 burg, 213, 223–4. See also G.P. Hebb, The Early Life and History of the Hebb Family (Bridgewater: Langille, 1974). Deeds Registry, Book 30, 54. Mary Ann (Crouse) Vogler was the daughter of Philip and Henrietta (Morreau) Crouse. Johnson, Forests of Nova Scotia, 59–60. Interview with Harland Wyand, engineer, Town of Bridgewater, 4 July 2011; The Petite Riviere and Its Watershed, 41–6. Lake Milipsigate was and is also known as Lake Leipsigate. Ibid., 59. Johnson, Forests of Nova Scotia, 67. The Petite Riviere and Its Watershed, 8–9; Parks, Rising Village, 41. See above, chap. 1, 41–2. Robertson, Sawpower, 30, 34, 46; Sheppard, Historic Bridgewater, 122. Harold Eikle (HE) to Cathy Ramey (CR), 31 January 1971, Ramey MS. Robertson, Sawpower, 34. John MacGregor, Historical and Descriptive Sketches of the Maritime Colonies of British America (London: Longman, 1828), 128–9. Interview with Robert Crouse, 4 May 2006. DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 370–1, recorded John Adam Fiendel of Bridgewater: “In those days people used a good deal of rum, and it killed lots of them, as it has done in other places. I saw a man killed at Lunenburg from rum. He was Clerk of Militia. A Conrad killed him. They were drinking all night, and at daylight they came to blows. Niforth … died an hour after he was struck.” Bolivar, History of Conquerall Mills, 3. HE to CR, 31 / 1 / 1971, Ramey MS. Ibid. and Parks, The Rising Village, 172. DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 440; Johnson, Forests of Nova Scotia, 65–6. Peter Bell’s wife Elizabeth was a sister of John Will’s father, William Leonard Crouse. Parks, The Rising Village, 167–70. John Will did not invest in the Petite Village shipyards owned by the Drews, Langilles, Sperrys, and, later, the Eikles. Nor did he own shares in any of the vessels built there. Judith Flanders, Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England (New York: Norton, 2003), passim; Mary Byers and Margret McBurney, Atlantic Hearth and Home: Early Homes and Families of Nova Scotia (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994), 108–13. Bolivar, History of Conquerall Mills, 4. The rock was named for Enos Crouse, a cousin of John Will’s father, who farmed a 50-acre plot there in the 1850s. See Deeds Registry, Book 13, 386.

Notes to pages 91–102


41 Furniture factories placed a high premium on male-deined craft skills and traditions that enabled them to resist the tides of standardization and mass production techniques well into the twentieth century. See Parr, The Gender of Bread Winners, 123–39, for an astute history of one such workplace in Ontario. 42 Bolivar, History of Conquerall Mills, 26. See also, Parks, The Rising Village, 215. The curriculum, taken from The Harmonicum (1850), drilled the students “in the basic elements of music – rhythm, measure rests, melodic scales, the musical staff, transposition, modulation, intervals, chords and dynamics.” 43 The Lunenburg County Exhibition began in 1891. Local farmers had been winning prizes since the irst provincial exhibition in Halifax in 1854. Friends of the DesBrisay, Pictorial History of Bridgewater, 66, 110; Sheppard, Historic Bridgewater, 60–3. 44 Ibid., 173. 45 Bolivar, History of Conquerall Mills, 26; Hebb, The Early Life and History of the Hebb Family, 24. 46 Louis Hémon, Maria Chapdelaine (New York: Macmillan, 1921), 99. 47 T. Scott Miyakawa, Protestants and Pioneers: Individualism and Conformity on the American Frontier (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964), 54. See also the entries on Baptists by J.K. Zeman, and Methodists by Margaret Prang, in James H. Marsh, ed., The Canadian Encyclopedia: Year 2000 (Toronto: McClellan & Stewart), 194–5, 1477. 48 Methodism’s more settled milieu in this era, with its emphasis upon quarterly meetings and education, would not have appealed to Fan, since social interchanges could also be occasions for scrutiny. See Westfall, Two Worlds, 57–8. 49 Queens County Museum Archives, Liverpool, Nova Scotia, http://www .seawhy.com; DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 186–7. In 1851 the Nova Scotia Legislature revoked the 1758 statute making the Church of England the Established Church. Still the Anglican marriage ceremony retained the aura of institutional authority. See Robertson, “The 1850s,” in Buckner and Reid, eds., The Atlantic Region to Confederation, 340. 50 DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 377, 391–3. At one wedding, twenty-ive gallons of liquor were consumed, and the men were drunk before the minister arrived. 51 Light and Prentice, eds., Pioneer and Gentlewomen, 219. 52 Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America (New York: Knopf, 1985), 28. See also Margaret Conrad, “Time and


Notes to pages 108–10 Place in Canadian Women’s History,” in Strong-Boag and Fellman, eds., Rethinking Canada, 97–112.

3. The Family and Its World, 1880–1900 1 Peter Waite, Canada 1874–1896: Arduous Destiny (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1971), 1–2; Brendon, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 281–5. 2 In the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, Lunenburg County was solidly Liberal until 1911. Among Liberal representatives were Mather Byles DesBrisay, John Drew Sperry, and two of the Davisons. See South Shore Genealogical Society News, June 2008, 4. 3 Nora Faires, “Leaving the ‘Land of Second Chance’: Migration from Ontario to the Upper Midwest in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries,” in John J. Bukowczyk et al., Permeable Border: The Great Lakes Basin as Transitional Region, 1650–1990 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press and University of Calgary Press, 2005), 78–119. See also Bruno Ramirez with Yves Otis, Crossing the 49th Parallel: Migration from Canada to the United States, 1900–1930 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001), 97–137; Robert G. LeBlanc, “The Acadian Migrations,” Canadian Geographical Journal 81 (1970), 10–19; and Faragher, A Great and Noble Scheme, 468–9, 537n. 4 Waite, Canada 1874–1896, 1–2; Meinig, The Shaping of America: Transcontinental America, 1850–1915, 3 (1993): 343–6. 5 J. Murray Beck, “An Atlantic Region Political Culture: A Chimera,” in David J. Bercuson and Phillip A. Buckner, eds., Eastern and Western Perspectives: Papers from the Joint Atlantic Canada / Western Canadian Studies Conference (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1981), 147–69. 6 Phillip A. Buckner, “The 1870s: Political Integration,” and Larry McCann, “The 1890s: Fragmentation and the New Social Order,” in Forbes and Muise, eds., The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation, 62–3, 132. See also T.W. Acheson, “The National Policy and the Industrialization of the Maritimes, 1880–1910,” in P.A. Buckner and David Franks, eds., The Acadiensis Reader: Volume II (Fredericton: Acadiensis Press, 1988), 164–89. 7 Judith Fingard, “The 1880s: Paradoxes of Progress,” and McCann, “The 1890s,” in Forbes and Muise, eds., The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation, 92, 98, 136. See especially Reginald C. Stuart, United States Expansionism and British North America, 1775–1871 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988). 8 Desmond Morton, A Short History of Canada, 5th ed. (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2001), 106, 131.

Notes to pages 110–15


9 Historical Atlas of the Maritime Provinces, introduction and captions by Joan Dawson (Halifax: Nimbus, 2005), 43. See also Dawson, Lost Highways, 133–5. 10 Joan Dawson, The Mapmakers’ Legacy: Nineteenth Century Nova Scotia through Maps (Halifax: Nimbus, 2007), 81–2; DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 532–9. 11 Parks, The Rising Village, 189; Sheppard, Historic Bridgewater, 53–4; author interview with Robert Crouse, 6 September 2006. 12 Eighth Census of Canada, 1941, vol. 2 (Ottawa: Edmond Clotier, 1944), 61–2; J.M.S. Careless, “Aspects of Metropolitanism in Atlantic Canada,” in Francis and Smith, eds., Readings in Canadian History, 212–14; McCann, “The 1890s,” in Forbes and Muise, eds., The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation, 135–8. 13 W.G. Hardy, From Sea unto Sea: The Road to Nationhood, 1850–1910 (New York: Doubleday, 1960), 426–31; Carman Miller, Painting the Map Red: Canada and the South African War, 1899–1902 (Montreal: Canadian War Museum and McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1993). See also P.A. Buckner, “The Borderlands Concept: A Critical Appraisal,” in Stephen J. Hornsby, Victor A. Konrad, and James J. Herlan, eds., The Northeastern Borderlands: Four Centuries of Interaction (Fredericton: Acadiensis, 1989), 152–8. 14 DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 178; Parks, The Rising Village, 10. Fort Sainte-Marie-de-Grace, settled by the French in 1632, was later renamed Fort Point by the British. DesBrisay was named after Rev. Mather Byles, a Boston Loyalist best known for his rhetorical question, “Why should I trade one tyrant three thousand miles away for three thousand tyrants not a mile away.” See Sheppard, Historic Bridgewater, 160. 15 Liverpool Transcript, 6 / 10 / 59 and 13 / 6 / 59; Nova Scotia Farmer, 17 / 4 / 72. See above, chap. 1, 53. 16 Morton, A Short History of Canada, 47–61. 17 The author may have been a Scottish weaver named Tanehill. The version sung today has its origins in the First World War era, though the words were probably drawn from Scottish poetry. See Hilary Sircom, Helen Creighton (Tantallon: Four East, 1993), 46–7. 18 Ramey MS; Douglas MacKay, Empire of Wood (Vancouver: Douglas and MacIntyre, 1982), 189–90, 195; Robert Swanson, Whistle Punks and WidowMakers (Madeira Park, BC: Harbour, 1993), 28–36; Ralph W. Andrews, This Was Sawmilling (Seattle: Superior, 1957), 11–27, 163–72, and Glory Days of Logging (Atglen, PA: Shiffer, 1994), 42–3. Andrews’s account of the water-


19 20 21 22 23

24 25 26 27 28




32 33



Notes to pages 116–28 powered mills, the art of saw iling, and the western mill towns recalls John Will’s portrait of the mills of Queens County in the 1870s. Terry James and Frances Anderson, In Praise of Oxen (Halifax: Nimbus, 1992), v–vi. Ibid., 1, 46, 54–5. Ibid., 33, 36. Ibid., 38. Crousetown School Registers, SSGS, MS.S 47, vol. 33. The only nineteenthcentury roster is 1895–6; the teacher was Lizzie Wagner, who married Beech Crouse. Other volumes cover the years 1900–20. Author interview with Robert Crouse, 6 September 2006. Crouse interview, 4 May 2006. See also Parker, Woodchips & Beans. Bolivar, History of Conquerall Mills, 9. Ibid.; Malcolm G. Parks, ed., Western and Eastern Rambles: Travel Sketches of Nova Scotia (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973), 20–2. Nellie (Vogler) Snyder, “The Oar and Handle Mill.” Author’s copy provided by Nellie Snyder, the granddaughter of Henry Vogler. The Oar and Handle Mill is the only remaining mill in Crousetown. In the 1850s, the Romkey family attempted to monopolize the seaweed on nearby Crescent Beach. After lengthy litigation, their claim was dismissed. See PANS, Record Group 5, Series P, vol. 21, no. 33; DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 245–6. Robert MacKinnon, “Agriculture and Rural Change in Nova Scotia, 1851–1951,” in H. Akenson, ed., Canadian Papers in Rural History 10 (1996), 243. J.H. Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America, 1492–1830 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 108–14; Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forest, Book R, 104, and Book 49, 14, Grant to Solomon Ramey, #11734 (1874). DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 135–6, 225, 332–4. Michael Gauvreau, The Evangelical Century: College and Creed in English Canada from the Great Revival to the Great Depression (Montreal, Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1991), 284–91. Crousetown School Register, 1895–6, SSGS. For a school experience similar to Elvie’s, see Childhood Reminiscences of Evalina Westhaver (London, ON, 1982), 22; SSGS copy. Westhaver (1864–1950) grew up in Martin’s Brook, near Lunenburg. DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 230–5, favoured nature poetry, especially odes to the beauty of the La Have River, as in the following lines by George O. Huestis, a Methodist minister: “The footsteps of the sons of

Notes to pages 131–42

36 37 38


40 41 42 43 44 45

46 47 48




Gaul / Are scarcely seen today; / While Celtic and Teutonic crowds / Here live, not merely stay / / Hail, Scotia’s most delightful stream; / Tourists no iner crave; / Here let me live, and sing and dream, / Beside the fair La Have.” Parks, The Rising Village, 91–130; DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 80–106. Ibid. Parks, The Rising Village, 127–8. Before the 1950s, Sunday afternoon and evening remained the principal churchgoing times for both Methodists and Anglicans. St Michael’s Anglican in Petite had one morning service per month and St Mary’s in Crousetown, which opened in 1914, had only four morning services per year. Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, The Churching of America, 1776–1990: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992), 145–63; Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 (New York: Oxford, 2007), 176–80. DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 69–72. Parks, The Rising Village, 94. See above, chap. 1, 53–6. See above, chap. 2, 98–9. Interview with Robert Crouse, 15 September 2006. Bishop Frederick Courtener urged Anglicans to seek reconciliation with those “who had been touched by the spirit of the Evangelical Revival.” See Allison, History of Nova Scotia, 2: 764. Methodists also sought to cooperate with Anglicans. See Margaret Van Die, An Evangelical Mind: Nathaneal Burwash and the Methodist Tradition in Canada, 1839–1918 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989) and Religion, Family and Community in Victorian Canada (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005). DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 445–6. Lunenburg Deeds Registry, Book 8, 154 (1903). Ramey MS. Principal sources for this and other stories were Cathy Ramey’s mother, Ruth (Hebb) Ramey, and Anita (Bolivar) Ramey, second wife of Cathy’s grandfather, Bill Ramey. Harold to Edith (Mader) Ramey, 14 May 1972, Ramey MS. In contemporary writing, Georgie would be one of “the undead,” an earth-bound ghost with “uninished business.” See James Van Praag, Ghosts among Us (New York: Harper, 2008), 53–65. See Gwyn, Excessive Expectations, 104, a table showing mean wealth for the province in 1851 and 1871, as compiled from probated estates. It is divided





54 55


57 58

59 60

Notes to pages 144–7 into four categories, “elite,” “farmers,” “others,” and “women.” Crousetown was almost entirely composed of farmers, although several were also mill owners. Some Crousetown estates might have been probated as “women,” if the farmer was deceased. Crousetown School Registers show the igure of $24,812 for 1898–9. In 1896–7 assessed value was $22,547, in 1904–5 it was $24,752, and in 1907–8 it was $25,706. The mean wealth of the group was $775.00, with six households exceeding that amount, and ive falling below it. Another way of looking at the total for the group ($8525.00) is to note that four households accounted for the top 50 per cent of the amount, and seven controlled the bottom 50 per cent. Some of the assessed wealth must have been in the value of each family’s home. In 1909, John Will had a policy from the Halifax Fire Insurance Company for $700.00 on his “dwelling.” The house may not have been valued that highly in 1898, but it still may have constituted 20–30 per cent of his assessed wealth. Though perhaps not. Stephen Vogler (1863–1942) was a relatively young man in 1898. At thirty-ive, John Will’s age in 1879, Stephen’s best wageearning years were yet to come, or so he might believe. Gwyn, Excessive Expectations, 102–3. Gradations of wealth may have been more important to the women of the village. Many decades later, Myrtle Bolivar told me that she had never been inside the Crouse / Eikle house until I invited her to stop by for a visit with her son Donald on 13 September 2006. Alex Roland, W. Jeffrey Bolster, and Alexander Keyssar, The Way of the Ship: America’s Maritime History Re-envisioned, 1600–2000 (Hoboken: John Wiley, 2008), 3, 183, 128, 445. “Away”: any place other than Nova Scotia, usually employed as the direct opposite of “around here.” Poteet, South Shore Phrase Book, 16. A.R. MacNeil, “Mobility and Rural Society in Annapolis Township, Nova Scotia, 1760–1861,” in Akenson, ed., Canadian Papers in Rural History 9 (1994), 239–57; Kris Innwood and Phyllis Nagy, “Wealth and Prosperity in Nova Scotian Agriculture, 1851–71,” Canadian Historical Review, 75 (1994), 257; MacKinnon, “Agriculture and Rural Change,” in Akenson, ed., Papers, 10 (1996). Gwyn, Excessive Expectations, 233. The local resonance of this passage, often read at services on All Saints’ Day, can hardly be overstated. In 1944, it was carved in stone in the graveyard beside St James Anglican Church (1856) in neighbouring Conquerall Mills, where Harold Eikle often served as organist.

Notes to pages 150–8


4. John Will Crouse’s Autumn-time, 1898–1914 1 On industrialization in Nova Scotia, see Colin Howell, “The 1900s: Industry, Urbanization, and Reform,” and Ian McKay, “The 1910s: The Stillborn Triumph of Progressive Reform,” in Forbes and Muise, eds., The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation, 164–6 and 196–7. 2 Parks, The Rising Village, 167–70; E. Marguerite Letson, Port: A Short History of Port Medway (Duncan Harper, 1985), 185, 225. 3 John R. Graham, “Canada,” in John Dixon and Robert P. Scheurell, eds., The State of Social Welfare: The Twentieth Century in Cross-National Review (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002), 77. See also James J. Rice and Michael J. Prince, Changing Politics of Canadian Social Policy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000), 34–9. 4 DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 456; Parks, The Rising Village, 86, 166. 5 Freeman, Genealogy of the Crouse Family, SSGS Archives, 65; interview with Robert Crouse, 15 September 2006. 6 From the Book of Numbers, 22: 21–41, esp. 32–3, where the angel of the Lord asks Balaam, “Why have you struck your ass these three times? Behold, I have come forth to withstand you because your way is perverse before me; And the ass saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, I would have slain you and let her live.” 7 Author interviews with Robert Crouse, 15 September 2006; Malcolm Parks, 10 July 2007; and Nellie (Vogler) Snyder, 8 July 2008; One Hundred Years: A Pictorial History of Bridgewater, 84; Freeman, Genealogy of the Crouse Family, 32–3. The Freeman genealogy has a number of errors, but is useful because it includes newspaper clippings with stories about various branches of the family. 8 DesBrisay, History of the County of Lunenburg, 205, 567; Nova Scotia Bulletin and Bridgewater Times, 4 April 1871; Bridgewater Bulletin, 10 April 1934. See also SSGS Newsletter, Spring, 2007. The records of the asylum are located at the SSGS library in Lunenburg in the Lunenburg Municipal Home Records. 9 Parks, The Rising Village, 67–9; Harold Eikle to Cathy Ramey, 31 January 1971, Ramey MS. 10 Will of John Simeon Crouse, Lunenburg Probate, Will Book 7, 392 (1903). 11 See above, “Prelude,” 19. 12 Robertson, Sawpower, 110–11; interview with Robert Crouse, 3 May 2006; “Tidal Waters,” in A Brief History of Petite Riviere and Green Bay (Grade Four Petite Riviere Elementary School, 1992), 40.


Notes to pages 158–72

13 A relevant study focusing on the masculine atmosphere on the shop loor of a wood-working operation is Parr, The Gender of Breadwinners, 127–64. 14 Parks, The Rising Village, 114–15; Bridgewater Bulletin, 1 January 1907. 15 Gid’s granddaughter, Dawn Teal, remembered her mother describing Gid in action. Interview, 10 July 2007; interviews with Robert Crouse, 19 May 2006 and 7 July 2008. 16 Interview with Dawn Teal, 7 July 2008. 17 Deeds Registry, Book 70, 16–21. 18 Parks, The Rising Village, 86, 167. 19 Betty (Ramey) Conrad, “History of Ramey Family” (author’s copy). 20 The quote is from the economist Thorstein Veblen. See The Instinct for Workmanship (New York: Norton, 1964; originally published 1914), 234–5. See also, The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (New York: Mentor Books, 1953; originally published 1899), 154. 21 Bridgewater Bulletin, 20 January 1914 and 7 April 1914; “St. Mary’s Anglican Church,” in Tales of Crousetown (Grade Four Petite Riviere Elementary School, 1993), 14–16. 22 For a moving portrayal of a man dying at home amid what had become a loveless marriage, see Bruce, The Township of Time, 158–61. 23 Parks, The Rising Village, 125–6; Bridgewater Bulletin, 2 June 1914. Interlude. Crousetown in an Era of War and Depression 1 Grade Four, Petite Riviere Elementary School, History of Crousetown, 20. 2 One Hundred Years: A Pictorial History of Bridgewater, 69, 84; History of Crousetown, 31; author interview with Robert Crouse, 15 September 2006. 3 Eighth Census of Canada, 1941, vol. 2 (Ottawa: Edmond Clotier, 1944), 61–2. 4 The Busy East 9:3 (October 1918); Sheppard, Historic Bridgewater, 88, 92–100, 122, 130, 143–4. 5 David Frank, “The 1920s: Class, Region, Resistance and Accommodation,” in Forbes and Muise, eds., The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation, 242–3. 6 Author’s correspondence with Robert Crouse, 17 November 2006. 7 Himmelman, “Chips and Sawdust.” 8 Sarah contracted tuberculosis and died in 1936. The boys were raised by their grandmother, Mrs Beech Crouse. 9 Grant made a unique contribution to Crouse family history. He purchased an old Johnson waterwheel, known locally as Bridgewater-Crousetown wheels, and used it for a lawn decoration. See Robertson, Sawpower, 45–7, 110–11.

Notes to pages 172–80 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

21 22

23 24 25

26 27 28 29


Himmelman, “Chips and Sawdust,” 59. Ibid., 68, 77–8. Ibid., 65, 68–9. Gid is visible in silhouette on the right. Himmelman, “Chips and Sawdust,” 54, 59, 61. Ibid., 61, 64. Ibid., 65. Ibid., 63, 71. Ibid., 72. Ibid., 54–5. Ibid., 54–5, 131. On the career of another successful businesswoman, Rebecca Chase Kinsman Ells (1856–1928) of Port Williams, Kings County, see Conrad, Laidlaw, and Smyth, eds., No Place Like Home, 205–25. Ells laboured for years to help her son keep the family orchard. Following her husband’s return from a proitless search for Yukon gold, she aided him in starting a poultry business that she had begun with egg sales to neighbours. Himmelman, “Chips and Sawdust,” 55–6. “The Petite River Salmon Club,” in A Brief History of Petite Riviere and Green Bay, 5; The Petite Riviere and Its Watershed, 48. The Glode and McOnie families were the last of their peoples living in the Crousetown area, although others continued to reside on tribal land in Gold River near Mahone Bay. One of the Glodes, Jimmy, visited Mrs Beech regularly and also informed Robert Crouse about the Mi’kmaw spirit world. See L.F.S. Upton, Micmacs and Colonists: Indian–White Relations in the Maritimes, 1713–1867 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1979), 175–6, 184–6; History of Crousetown, 43; interview with Robert Crouse, 27 July 2006. Himmelman, “Chips and Sawdust,” 76. Ibid., 77; History of Crousetown, 6. Conrad and Hiller, Atlantic Canada, 173; Carman Miller, “The 1940s: War and Rehabilitation,” in Forbes and Muise, eds., The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation, 316; Rice and Prince, eds., Changing Politics of Canadian Social Policy, 40–53. Bassler introduction to Lehmann, The German Canadians, 1750–1937, xxxiv–xxxix. Laurie Lacey, Ethnicity and the German Descendants of Lunenburg County, Ethnic Heritage Society, vol. 9: 16–18; Field, Spirit of Nova Scotia, 18. Lacey, Ethnicity and the German Descendants of Lunenburg County, 18. Historical writing shows the depth of feeling that still surrounds this topic. Contention has centred upon the work of German historian Heinz


30 31

32 33

34 35

36 37 38 39

Notes to pages 180–8 Lehmann, whose The German Canadians, 1750–1937, published in 1939, showed the unmistakable inluence of Hitler’s Germany. Writing, for example, of the decision of the Lunenburg Germans to put aside the German language as commercially disadvantageous, he concluded that “the era of national consciousness had not yet arrived.” Lehmann died in 1985, but his work was defended by Gerhard P. Bassler in a new edition published the following year. He argued that Lehmann’s view of Nazism hardly mattered, since “the direct inluence of German Nation Socialism on German Canadians appears to have been insigniicant, especially if compared to the impressive manifestations of fascism and anti-Semitism in French-Canadian and English Canadian circles at the time.” See Bassler introduction, xxxii. Meinig, The Shaping of America, 3: 268–9. For a historiography, see Margaret Conrad, “Chronicles of the Exodus: Myths and Realities of Maritime Canadians in the United States, 1870– 1930,” in Stephen J. Hornsby, Victor A. Konrad, and James J. Herlan, eds., The Northeaster Borderlands: Four Centuries of Interaction (Fredericton: Acadiensis, 1989), 97–119; see also Betsey Beattie, Obligation and Opportunity: Single Maritime Women in Boston, 1870–1930 (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000), and Gary Burrill, Away: Maritimers in Massachusetts, Ontario and Alberta (Montreal and Kingston: McGillQueen’s University Press, 1992), 8; Ramirez, Crossing the 49th Parallel, 97–137. Historic Treasures of Our Community (Grade Five / Six Petite Riviere Elementary School, 1999), 39. Graham S. Lowe, “Women, Work and the Ofice: The Feminization of Clerical Occupations in Canada, 1901–1931,” in Strong-Boag and Fellman, eds., Rethinking Canada, 269–85; Conrad, Laidlaw, and Smyth, eds., No Place Like Home, 263–80; Conrad and Hiller, Atlantic Canada, 205–6. Harold to Cathy Ramey, 10 November 1974, Ramey MS. See, for example, George Meredith’s Diana of the Crossways (London: Constable, 1909), 3: “We pray to be defended from her cleverness: she lashes bits of speech that catch men in their unguarded corner.” Material on Jack and Lil Duncan in Ramey MS. Harold Eikle to Kathy Ramey, 10 November 1974, Ramey MS. Interview with Betty (Ramey) Conrad, 25 July 2007; Bridgewater Bulletin, 23 September 1935. Interviews with Robert Crouse, 15 September 2006 and 7 July 2008, and Eddie Herman, 8 July 2008. Years later, the folklorist Helen Creighton

Notes to pages 188–203


41 42 43


spent a morning listening to stories at the Crousetown general store, then run by Arthur Bolivar. Eddie Herman is remembered in Doris Eaton’s rug-hooking masterpiece “’Tis Happy Hour When Eddie Comes to Call,” which is based on Grant Wood’s painting “Dinner for Threshers.” See Doris Eaton, A Lifetime of Rug-Hooking (Halifax: Nimbus, 2011), 13, and R. Tripp Evans, Grant Wood: A Life (New York: Knopf, 2010), 169–76. Tales of Crousetown (Grade Four Petite Riviere Elementary School), “The Butter Dumper” (Lunenburg: Petite Riviere Publishing, 1993), 9–14; interview with Robert Crouse, 15 September 2006. Bolivar, History of Conquerall Mills, 7; Himmelman, “Chips and Sawdust,” 50; Betty Conrad, “The Supernatural,” unpublished essay, 18 April 2004. Helen Creighton, Bluenose Ghosts (Toronto: Ryerson, 1957); interview with Robert Crouse, 10 July 2008. Author correspondence with Gael Watson, 23 January 2011.

5. The Eikle Family and Harold, 1909–1943 1 Himmelman, “Chips and Sawdust,” 61, 64; author interview with Robert Crouse, 7 July 2008. 2 The Petite Riviere and Its Watershed, 24–5. 3 Edwin Eikle (EE) to Charles Edwin Eikle (CEE), 5, 24 June 1929; CEE to EE, 30 January 1929, Eikle Family Papers. 4 Interview with Robert Crouse, 7 July 2008. 5 Crouse interviews, 15 September 2006 and 8 July 2008. 6 Josie was the daughter of the Eikles’ friends Reuben and Janet (Croft) Sperry; “Reub,” a irst cousin of John Will Crouse, was a noted step-dancer who performed into his late eighties. 7 Interviews with Myrtle Bolivar, 13 September 2006 and Robert Crouse, 4 July 2008. 8 Crousetown School Registers, SSGS, MS.S 47, vol. 33. 9 Mike Parker, Historic Lunenburg: The Days of Sail, 1880–1930 (Halifax: Nimbus, 1999), 59–60. 10 Bridgewater Bulletin, 24, 25 July 1929 and 30 November 1928. 11 By 1900 high schools enrolled only 10 per cent of those eligible. Still, proliferation of common schools and mandatory attendance laws had helped to reduce the illiteracy rate of the adult population from 28 per cent in 1861 to 14 per cent in 1901. See J.M. Bumsted, The Peoples of Canada: A Post-Confederation History (Toronto: Oxford, 1992), 129–30, 218–19; Axelrod, The Promise of Schooling, 24–43, 51–2, 60–2.


Notes to pages 203–20

12 Bumsted, The Peoples of Canada, 365–7; Axelrod, The Promise of Schooling, 45–50. 13 In 1925 the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregational Churches merged as the United Church of Canada. Opposition to the merger came from conservative Presbyterians who objected to the liberal theology and social-gospel orientation that increasingly deined mainline Protestantism. 14 Patricia Dirks, “Reinventing Christian Masculinity and Fatherhood: The Canadian Protestant Experience, 1900–1920,” in Nancy Christie, ed., Households of Faith: Family, Gender, and Community in Canada, 1760–1969 (Montreal, Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2002), 290–316. 15 Margaret got along well with both Harold and Elvie. Harold served as Margaret’s accompanist when she sang on the local radio station, CKBW in Bridgewater. Interview with Dawn Teal, 10 July 2008. 16 Bridgewater Bulletin, 24 July 1929; Petite Riviere Elementary School, History of Crousetown, 39–40. 17 Those interviewed about Harold’s teaching include Robert Crouse, Patricia Drew, Eddie Herman, Patsy Johnston, Nellie Snyder, Edwin Sperry, and Dawn Teal. 18 Arthur Croft taught for forty years, beginning in 1928, throughout Lunenburg County, including assignments in Crousetown. Lacey’s interview with him gives an excellent account of rural school concerts. Lacey, ed., Lunenburg County Folklore and Oral History Project ’77, 106–18. 19 Interview with Patricia (Harmon) Drew, 8 September 2006. 20 Bumsted, Peoples of Canada, 219–28. All letters are in the Eikle Family Papers. 21 See Forster’s “Terminal Note” that follows Maurice in the Book-of-theMonth Club edition (n.d.) that also includes A Room with a View and Howard’s End. 22 Robert Skidelsky, John Maynard Keynes, 1883–1946: Economist, Philosopher, Statesman (New York: Penguin, 2003), 81–2, 119–20; Wayne R. Dynes, ed., Encyclopedia of Homosexuality (New York: Garland, 1990), 1: “Canada,” 192–4, written by Dynes. See also Miriam Catherine Smith, Lesbian and Gay Rights in Canada: Social Movements and Equality-Seeking, 1971–1995 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999). On historiographical issues, see Lyle Dick’s review of the CBC television series and book Canada: A People’s History (2001) in Canadian Historical Review 85:1 (March 2004), 103–4. 23 See also George Chauncey, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890–1940 (New York: Basic Books, 1994), 1–29. Chauncey argues that this era saw the formation of a “distinctive

Notes to pages 221–9

24 25


27 28


culture” and was not a period of isolation and invisibility. While not claiming that a similar dynamic existed elsewhere, he suggests that the beginnings of pride in one’s sexual identity and awareness of the burdens of discrimination were stirring throughout the Western world. See Suzanne Morton, Ideal Surroundings: Domestic Life in a Working-Class Suburb in the 1920s (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995), 150–6. In 1938 Forster wrote, “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friends, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.” See Nicholas C. Edsall, Toward Stonewall (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2003), 182, 255–6. “Old dear: term of affectionate address between men and women … a similar term of address … often used between men, is ‘old diddy.’” See Poteet, South Shore Phrase Book, 82. Eikle Family Papers; interview with Robert Crouse, 7 July 2008. Interview with Betty Conrad, 4 July 2008; Lunenburg Municipal Home Records, case 281, SSGS.

6. A Family’s End, 1943–1977 1 Conrad and Hillier, Atlantic Canada, 188–212. 2 See, Ian McKay, The Quest of the Folk: Antimodernism and Cultural Selection in Twentieth-Century Nova Scotia (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1994). 3 Thomas H. Raddall, The Wings of Night (Garden City: Doubleday, 1956), 319. This lesser-known novel captures the anomie of post-war afluence. Raddall’s work centred on the colonial era and was often set in a town resembling Liverpool, where he lived. His references to Lunenburg County were sparse, with German settlers appearing either as credulous villagers in the hexe belt or cartoon-like Hessian mercenaries. See The Wedding Gift and Other Stories (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1947), 149, 152–9. 4 Burrill, Away, 5–6. 5 J.L. Granatstein et al., Twentieth Century Canada (Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1983), 355–6; Scott W. See, The History of Canada (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2001), 145–7. 6 Winks, Blacks in Canada, 290–3. As in the United States, this was an era of retreat in civil rights, which included black churches. “Too many had fallen asleep in Christ,” as one minister put it. Ibid., 361. See also Constance Backhouse, Colour-Coded: A Legal History of Racism in Canada,



8 9 10 11


13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

21 22 23 24 25

Notes to pages 230–44 1900–1950 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999), 3–17, 173–271, 371–431. Two chapters discuss the Ku Klux Klan in Ontario in the 1930s, and the Viola Desmond case, in which a black businesswoman was arrested for protesting a New Glasgow movie theatre’s discriminatory action against her. She lost the case, but the publicity helped to begin the modern civil rights movement in Canada. Edsall, Toward Stonewall, 260ff. Gore Vidal’s The City and the Pillar (1948) and Donald Webster Cory’s The Homosexual in America (1951) are often cited as landmark events in the development of group consciousness. Merle Miller’s account of life in rural Iowa in these years found no incipient gay subculture. Ruth Ramey told this story to her daughter Cathy. Ramey MS. Interview, Robert Crouse, 14 August 2008. Interview, Earl Arenburg, 15 September 2006. These and other recollections of the Eikles provided in author interviews with Robert Crouse in September 2005, May and September 2006, and June 2007. The Voglers’ daughters, Ruth and Nellie, both became inluential in the community, Ruth as a historian, and Nellie as a trained nurse who over the years cared for many of her fellow villagers. Interview with Cathy Ramey, 24 September 2005. Interview with Robert Crouse, 19 May 2006. Eikle family papers, and interview with Robert Crouse, 7 July 2008. Interviews with Robert Crouse, 19 May 2006, and Billy Teal, 20 August 2009. Interview with Robert Crouse, 19 May 2006. Crouse interview, 4 July 2008. In later years, Eldora became friendly with Nettie and Mrs Beech, who could sometimes convince her to stop by for a cup of tea. John S. Crouse died penniless in 1940. His estate was not settled until 1944, because the Overseers of the Poor wanted to collect on support that they had provided to John’s three grandchildren. Their claim was dismissed by the probate court. See Lunenburg Deeds Registry, Act Book 7, 386. Interview with Robert Crouse, 9 August 2010. Interviews with Robert Crouse, 19 May 2006 and 7 July 2008. Bridgewater Bulletin, 5 May 1954. See above, chap. 2, 65–72. Conrad and Hiller, Atlantic Canada, 197–200. See also Margaret Conrad, “The 1950s: The Decade of Development,” Della Stanley, “The 1960s: The Illusions and Realities of Progress,” and John Reid, “The 1970s: Sharpening

Notes to pages 244–50


27 28 29 30 31

32 33 34 35

36 37 38


the Sceptical Edge,” in Forbes and Muise, eds., The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation, 382–504. In an interview, Grant Crouse cited four reasons for the end of the mills: degradation of the woodlands; competition from large operators like Bowater in Liverpool; bureaucratic demands surrounding the employment process; and the increased cost of equipment. Bridgewater Bulletin, 25 May 1977. Interviews with Nellie Snyder, 24 July 2006 and 8 July 2008. All cards are in the Eikle Papers. Interview with Malcolm Parks, 15 September 2006. Harold’s grandfather, Charles Eikle, built the Maitland Church in 1861. William M. Reddy, The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 112–37; Nancy Christie, “Sacred Sex: The United Church and the Privatization of the Family in Post-War Canada,” in Christie, ed., Households of Faith, 348–76. Edsall, Toward Stonewall, 304–5; interview with Patsy (Ramey) Johnston, 19 August 2008. Freeman genealogy, SSGS Archives, 40. Gladys Smye to Harold Eikle, 9 December 1960, Eikle Papers. Interviews with Betty (Ramey) Conrad, 18 August 2011, and Cathy Ramey, 24 September 2005. On 3 July 2011, “How Great Thou Art” was the opening hymn at Wesley United in Petite, where Harold had often played and where John Will Crouse attended church for many years. The hymnal included versions of the hymn in Cree and Mi’kmaw. The ministry leader, Reverend Vivian Moores, spoke from Ezekiel 37:1–14, The Valley of the Dry Bones, in which the Lord promised “the whole house of Israel” that He “would put my Spirit in you, and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land.” Facing exile himself, Harold used his music to cry for help. The purchasers were Ruth and Hiram Carver. As a trustee of the Petite schools, Hiram knew Harold and was aware of his problems. Harold to Cathy Ramey, 10 November 1974, Ramey MS; interview with Les Hainer, 7 July 2010. Les Hainer was editor of the Veteran Eagle. John A. Hostetler, Hutterite Society (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974), 5–136. See also Gertrude E. Huntington, “Living in the Ark: Four Centuries of Hutterite Faith and Community,” in Donald E. Pitzer, ed., America’s Communal Utopias (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997), 319–51; Donald B. Kraybill and Carl F. Bowman, On the Backroad to Heaven: Old Order Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren


39 40 41 42 43 44 45


Notes to pages 251–61 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), 1–4, 20–59. A moving memoir is Mary-Ann Kirkby, I Am Hutterite: The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Heritage (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010). Hostetler, Hutterite Society, 201–33; Kraybill and Bowman, On the Backroad to Heaven, 31–3, 42–4. Interview with John Stahl, 30 July 2010; Hostetler, Hutterite Society, 194; Kraybill and Bowman, On the Backroad to Heaven, 36. Stahl interview. Veteran Advocate, 14 November 1972, 1 November 1973, and 18 November 1976. Veteran Advocate, 29 November 1973, and 10 March 1974. On Aunt Lil, see above, chap. 4, 151–2. Edsall, Toward Stonewall, 336; Valerie J. Korinek, “’The most openly gay person for at least a thousand miles’: Doug Wilson and the Politicization of a Province,” Canadian Historical Review, 84 (December 2003), 517ff. Quoted in Scott Donaldson, Edwin Arlington Robinson: A Poet’s Life (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 439. Robinson was commemorating the landscape artist Franklin Schenck.

Postlude. Crousetown, 2007 1 Bruce, Township of Time, 230. 2 “Lucy Eikle’s Rosebush,” Tales of Crousetown, 16–24. The “Lucy Eikle Rose” was transplanted to St Mary’s and many other locations.


Acadia Gas Engine Ltd, 170 Acadians: and British colonialism, 15–17, 19; and Mi’kmaw, 271n3; portrayed in 1890s history, 113 Advocate, 256 agriculture. See farming alcohol: Elvie’s wine, 231; and Harold, 221–2, 246, 249–50, 251, 299n35; and John Will, 3, 51, 52–3; prohibition and bootlegging, 178–9; village socializing, 188, 284n31, 285n50 Alger, Horatio, 198 Anderson, Frances, and Terry James: In Praise of Oxen, 116–17 Andrews, Ralph W., 287n18 Anglicans and Anglicanism: authority and inluence, 63–4, 131, 238, 282n5, 285n49; churchgoing times, 289n38; denominational rivalry, 23, 29–30, 238–9, 271n7; and early settlers, 23, 28–9; evangelism, 289n45; “Hattie’s Church” and “Fan’s Church,” 5, 136, 149, 241–2; Jean Baptiste Morreau, 27–8; John Will’s conversion, 134–5, 137, 138, 140, 162, 242; marriage of John Will, 98–9; migrations, 63; in Petite

Riviere, 131, 283n8; prohibition, 178; St Michael’s (Petite), 136–7. See also denominational rivalry; St Mary’s Anglican Church (Crousetown) Ann (ship), 17, 64 Annapolis Royal, 15–16, 53, 111 Arenburg, Charlotte, 25 Auerbach, Erich: Mimesis, 10–11 Augustine, St: Confessions, 9–12 autobiography, 9–12 automobiles, 170, 175, 188, 220–1, 223 Baconian Enlightenment, 126 Baggett family: butchers, 124; Fred Baggett, 145 Baker, Rev. Mr, 57 bankruptcy, 23, 64, 194 Barbauld, Anna, 224 Barnaby, Gideon, 98 Beck, J. Murray, 109 Beech Hill, 119–20 Bell, C. Ritchie, 204–7 Bell, Peter, 83, 284n36 Bell, Winthrop P.: The “Foreign Protestants,” 14; Register (Young), 14, 18, 19



Bell’s Cove, Dublin (La Have), 83 Bell’s Island (La Have River), 215 Bennett, Arnold: The Old Wives’ Tale, 164, 166 biblical citations: 2 Corinthians 5:17, 3, 134; 2 Corinthians 5:17–19, 55–6; about, 11; Ecclesiasticus 44:1–10, 147, 290n60; Ephesians 2:4–10, 134; Matthew 24:42, 168; Numbers 22:21–41, 291n6; Romans 7:15, 3 Big Lots (Maitland), 65–6 black settlers and loyalists, 24, 56–7, 281–2n34 blacksmiths, 77, 117, 152, 170 Blades, Aubrey Eugene, 244 Blanning, Tim, 279n14 Boehner mill, 157 Boer War, 112 Bolivar family: in Crousetown origins, 27 Bolivar, Arthur, 294n39 Bolivar, Bob: blacksmith, 170 Bolivar, Hazel, 88, 93–4, 121, 188–9 Bolivar, Myrtle, 195, 209n55 Boudreau, Robert, 244 Bouwsma, William J., 10 Brady mill, 84, 105 Bremner, Robert and Kay, 8 Bridgewater: entertainments, 93–4; population, 111, 170; transportation, 110–11; Victor Café, 171 Bridgewater Bulletin, 227, 236, 240, 243, 246, 247 Bridgewater Iron Company, 77 Brown, Solomon, 81 Bruce, Charles, 261, 276n43 Bryzelius, Paul, 22 Buckler, Ernest, 165; The Mountain and the Valley, 159; Ox Bells and Firelies, 37, 44, 85, 92, 106–7, 115, 126, 140, 149, 164, 225, 247

Burke, Ellen, 52 Burnaby mill (Medway River): building (by John Will), 3–4, 35, 36, 42–58, 49–50, 75–80, 84; ire danger, 48–9; injuries and employment conditions, 49; Lad and family, 44–5, 47–8 Burrill, Gary, 180–1 Butrick, Phil “Sweet Warren” and Samantha (née Himmelman), 232–3 Calvinists and Dutch Reformed: German services, 23, 29; migrations, 63. See also denominational rivalry Camperdown, 74, 84 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982), 220 Canadian Paciic Railroad, 108 Carver, Ruth and Hiram, 299n36 Catholicism. See Roman Catholics cattle and oxen: of Acadians, 18–19, 64; breeding of, 117–18; care of, 37–9, 92; in economy, 111; oxen, hauling, 88, 92, 119, 175; oxen, multiple uses of, 115–18, 123; sale/trade of, 41, 92, 117, 120–1, 143; uncontrolled animals, 117–18. See also farming “Cattle Expedition, 1756,” 15, 18–19, 64 cemeteries: Crousetown Community Cemetery, 33; Fan’s burial, 224; First World War grave, 169; Harold’s burial, 258; John Will’s grave, 168; Morreau/Kaulbach memorial, 138–9; Old Burial Ground, 277n45 censuses: 1762, 20; 1784, 274n28; 1792, 20; 1838, 27, 29–30, 37, 64;

Index 1881, 98, 135; occupational categories, 118, 276n42 Champlain, Samuel de, 273n20 Charleston, 44, 46, 47, 51, 52, 56 Chauncey, George, 296n23 childbirth and death, 102–3 Christ Church (Maitland), 65 Church, Ambrose F., 60 Church of England. See Anglicans Clark, Andrew Hill, 271n14 climate and the environment, 118–26 colonialism (British): attachment to empire, 112; French and English rivalry, 24–5; immigration policy, 15–18, 23–4 Confederation, 32, 107–8, 114, 281n30 Conquerall Bank, 36, 122, 124, 177 Conquerall Mills, 70, 71, 82, 88, 93, 121, 183 Conrad, Betty (née Ramey), 249 Conrad, Elkanah, 124 Conrad, Margaret, and James K. Hillier, 62, 225 Conrad, Mrs (teacher), 127 Conservative Party, 108, 109, 226; Charles E. Kaulbach, 138–40 Cook, Sophia, 101–3, 105, 124 Corkum, “Petticoat Jim,” 193 Corkum family, 200 Cornwallis, Edward, 16, 271n6 Courtener, Frederick, 289n45 Craik, David: Practical American Millwright, 45 Creighton, Helen, 294n39 Crescent Beach, 123, 288n29 Croft, Arthur, 210, 296n18 Crouse, Old Sim family: 1800s overview, 151–2, 171; genealogies, 265; Old Sim’s will, 155–6, 160–1; overview of mills and generations,


171–3; trucking business, 175. See also Crouse, John Simeon “Old Sim”; Crouse Brothers Crouse/Krauss family: 1800s overview, 152–3; caring for matriarch (Elizabeth), 154–5; genealogies, 264–5; library, 112, 113–14; religion relected in names, 132–3; spelling of name, 15. See also Krauss, Johann Jacob and Maria Clara Crouse, Ammiel “Am” and Lucy (née Brady): 1800s overview, 152; birth (Am), 33; death (Am), 223; death of children, 102; genealogy, 13; marriage, 91; origin of Ammiel name, 133; work (Am), 39 Crouse, Catherine (née Morreau), 28, 31 Crouse, Edward and Margaret (née Brady): birth (Edward), 33; death of child, 102; entertainment (Edward), 104; ire ighting, 81; genealogy, 13; house building, 89; marriage, 91; mill work, 73, 77; occupations, 39 Crouse, Elizabeth (née Falt): Christmas time, 104; church donations, 133; death, 155; genealogy, 278n54; health, 154–5; house, 91–2; husband’s death, 4, 34–5; and John Will, 34–5, 38, 41, 62, 91–2, 97, 98; marriage, 31. See also Crouse, William Leonard Crouse, Elkanah “Ken” and Helena (née Sperry): 1800s overview, 152–3; “Balaam’s Ass,” 152, 291n6; birth (Ken), 33; blacksmith, 77, 117, 152; Christmas time, 104; church donations, 133; death (Ken), 223; genealogy, 13; house, moved, 91–2; house building,



89–90; household wealth, 144; land purchase, 91; marriage, 152; mill work, 39, 73, 77, 78, 120; origin of Elkanah name, 133; purchases for John Will, 100; religion (Ken), 132, 138, 152; surveying, 84 Crouse, Frances Ann “Fan” (née Ramey), 187, 194, 224. See also Crouse, John Will – church and community: Anglicanism, 5, 98–9, 135, 193, 205–6; church, socializing, 98–9, 135–6, 138, 181, 285n48; conversion, 242; marriage, 98; rivalry among village women, 102, 135–6, 241, 290n55; St Mary’s, 165–6, 193, 205–6, 224; teachers’ institutes, 127–8; temperance, 13, 131 – family and home: courtship, 94–5; inancial management, 143, 193–4, 223; marriage, 95–9; motherhood, 100–5; position in household, 6, 193–4; separation, 166 – person: appearance, 95, 97; birth, 36; death, 223–4; depression, 103–4; emotional distance, 12; gift of grace, 261; suicide note, 4 Crouse, George and Loie (née Bell): mast making, 172; migrant (Loie), 181 Crouse, George and Sophia (née Fancy): deaths, 140–1; genealogy, 13; land inheritance, 34; marriage, 36; Morreaus and Crouses, 31; timbering rights, 39; uncle to John Will, 33 Crouse, George Beecham “Beech” and Lizzie (née Wagner): automobile, 170; business, 144, 151, 153; community (Mrs Beech), 231–2,

293n22, 298n19; deaths, 163, 223; friendship with John Will, 153; marriage, 128; migration, 114; paternity case, brother’s, 154; rotary mill, 157–8; teacher (Lizzie), 128, 288n23; and will of Old Sim, 155–6, 160–1 Crouse, Georgie, 36, 140–1, 189, 289n49 Crouse, Gideon “Gid” and Nettie (née Harmon), 197; business acumen (Nettie), 176; casket maker (Gid), 177–8; community (Nettie), 298n19; death (Gid), 230; and Fan, 102, 135; hot-tempered (Gid), 161, 292n15; paternity case, 154; rotary mill, 157–8; village brawls, 81 Crouse, Gottlieb and Nancy (née Morreau): death (Gottlieb), 36; family work, 25; homestead, 85; land purchase/sale, 21 (map), 26, 30–1, 278n53, 280n18; and Leonard Anthony, 24; Morreaus and Crouses, 28; petition, 27 Crouse, Grant, 172, 292n9, 298n26 Crouse, Henrietta (née Morreau), 28 Crouse, Jacob: mill fees, 41 Crouse, John S., 158, 188, 298n20 Crouse, John Simeon “Old Sim”: church dues/donations, 282n36; family, 36; homestead, 85; house building, 31, 278n53; household wealth, 144; mill, 42, 43, 77, 78; Morreaus and Crouses, 28; will of, 155–6, 160–1. See also Crouse, Old Sim family Crouse, John Will. See also Burnaby mill (Medway River); diary of John Will; Crouse, Frances Ann “Fan”

Index – business and occupations: Burnaby’s mill, 46–50, 57–8; cattle breeding, 117–18; clocksmith, 40; dispute with Solomon Ramey, 77–9; education and self-improvement, 34, 41, 53–4, 57–8, 112–13, 133–4; with Eikle family, 138; employees, 147; farming, 79–80, 92, 118, 121, 123–4; inancial standing, 142–8; ire ighting, 81–2; land surveyor, 40; mills, 37–8, 39, 42–4, 72–80, 92, 100–2, 162; mills, building, 75–80; mills, selling, 158–9, 161–2; mills, technologies, 84, 157–9; millwright, 4, 45, 72, 83–4; mining, gold, 125, 159; oxen, 117; pier building, 42; poetry, 41; surveying, 40, 84; timberland, 65, 72–3; windmill, 165 – church and community: appointed overseer (roads), 121–2; church attendance, 53–6, 131–3, 137; conversion, 134–5, 137, 138, 140, 162, 242; dispute with John Fancy, 92–3; dues/donations, 58, 98, 133, 166, 282n36; entertainments, 3, 41, 50–3, 58, 93, 118, 159–60, 164; lawsuits, 80–1; lessons, 55–6, 57–8 (see also biblical citations); Methodism, 131–5; Overseer of the Poor, 150–1 153, 155; paternity-case negotiator, 154; politics, 131, 138–40, 147; road commissioner, 4; school trustee, 126; village brawls, 81; Wallace’s Brook petition, 73–4 – family and home: 1800s family overview, 152–3; birth, grandson, 167; caring for mother, 154–5; Christmas time, 93, 94, 104, 130, 138; courtship, 51, 92, 94–5; deaths


in family, 140–1, 164–5; in Eikle settlement narrative, 68, 71–2; estate, 193–4, 223; Fan’s depression, 103–4; fatherhood, 100–5; father’s death and will, 4, 34–5; genealogy, 13, 264; house, 85–92, 86, 87, 88, 89–90, 90–1, 290n52; marriage, 4, 95–7; marriage of daughter, 163; passing of older generation, 83; relationship with Ramey family, 160–2; separation, 166–7; siblings, 33; spinning wheel, 69, 70; and will of Old Sim, 155–6, 160–1 – person: alcohol, 3, 51, 52–3; anglophile, 112–13; appearance, 95, 96; autumnal years, 149; birth, 31; death, 5, 167–8, 169; diary as memorial to others, 147–8; disappointments, 4–5; gift of grace, 261; illness and aflictions, 83, 156–7, 161–2, 166–7; loneliness, 33–4; reading material, 112–13, 134, 157, 164; tobacco, 3, 50, 58, 93; trip to Annapolis Valley, 111; as a young man, 3–4, 11 Crouse, Leonard, Jr: childhood, 25–6; death, 34; economic expansion, 30–1; father to William, 34; genealogy, 13; grandfather to John Will, 34; land purchase, 26; mill ownership, 38; Morreaus and Crouses, 28; petitions to clear river, 27 Crouse, Leonard Anthony, 21 (map); baptism, 15; Crousetown founder, 4, 13; death, 26; family and land, 24–6; homestead, 91–2; land purchases, 275n34; mill ownership, 38; Morreaus and Crouses, 28. See also Krauss, Johann Jacob and Maria Clara



Crouse, Maria (née Gearhardt), 24 Crouse, Merle and Sarah (née Crooks): death (Sarah), 292n8; mast making, 172; store, 176, 188 Crouse, Nancy (née Morreau): husband’s death, 36; Morreaus and Crouses, 28 Crouse, Philip, 25, 26, 27; economic expansion, 30–1; land purchases, 275n34; Morreaus and Crouses, 28, 284n20 Crouse, Robert D., 8, 119, 120, 188, 189, 238, 292n22 Crouse, Roy and Jessie (née Bourgald), 197; lumber camp, 176; marriage, 230; migrant (Jessie), 181; mill, business, 5, 172, 173–6; relationship with Harold (Jessie), 238; school (Roy), 199; trapping, 177; trucking business, 175 Crouse, Sim. See Crouse, John Simeon “Old Sim” Crouse, Susannah (née Morreau), 28, 31 Crouse, Wilfred and Margaret (née Walsh), 197; and Harold, 252–3; lumber camp, 176–7; Margaret’s arrival, 208–9, 296n15; marriage, 181; son’s murder, 244, 246; trapping, 177; trucking business, 175 Crouse, Willett and Hattie (née Hamon), 136; business acumen (Hattie), 158, 176; death (Hattie), 242; and Fan, 102, 103, 135–6; “Hattie’s Church,” 136, 242; mill in operation, 173, 174 Crouse, William Leonard: death, 4, 33, 34–5; father to John Will, 34; genealogy, 13, 284n36, 284n40; marriage, 31; Morreaus and

Crouses, 28; will and estate, 35. See also Crouse, Elizabeth Crouse Brothers, 157–8, 161, 171–8; electricity, 158, 174–5; mill interior, 174; planer mill, 176 Crousetown, 61 (map): 1883 Church map, 118; 1950s economy, 244; automobiles, 188; First World War and Depression, 169–70, 175; homesteads, 85; houses, 60; late 1800s economy, 144–8, 289n50; mapping of, 60–2; migration into, 63; mill business, 72–80, 158; “North Sawdust,” 6; oar and handle mill, 171, 232, 259, 288n28; origins, 4, 13, 20–4, 36–7, 273n20; petitions to clear the river, 26–7, 73–4; rivalry among village women, 102, 135–6, 290n55; school trustee, 126; teacher, Harold Crouse, 210; Wallace’s Brook petition signatories, 74. See also Kissing Bridge; Petite Riviere; Wallace’s Bridge/Brook Crouse town Mills, 20, 21 (map) Crousetown School Register, 118–19, 144 Crown Land Grant Map (1942), 21 (map) Dagley family, 27 Dagley, Stephen, 82, 89 Dagley’s mill, 74 dams and waterways: dam maintenance, 47–8; Fancy, Hebb, and Milipsigate lakes, 73, 125, 284n22; La Have River, 73, 75, 288n35; Medway River, 44, 73, 75; Mersey River, 44, 73, 75; Petite Watershed, 73; Ponhook Lake dam, 44–5,

Index 280n22; restoration project, 259; salmon spawning, 49; Wamback Mill Brook, 75; Western or Brown’s Branch Brook, 74. See also transportation; Wallace’s Bridge/ Brook Davison Lumber (Edward D.), 44, 65–6, 150, 153; steam mill, 75 Dawson, Joan: Historical Atlas of the Maritime Provinces, 110 Dayspring, 210, 214 denominational rivalry: between Anglicans and Methodists, 29–30, 277n48, 277n50; changing preferences, 63; emotionalism of Methodists, 132; Englishwritten Bibles, 111–12; and French Catholic/English Protestant, 108; German services, 29, 131; and Halifax “school wars,” 110; “Hattie’s Church” and “Fan’s Church,” 136, 242; and marriage of John Will, 98–9; Methodism’s appeal, 28–9, 131; and migration, 17, 271n7; open-air camp meetings, 55; in Petite Riviere, 23; relected in children’s names, 132–3; village and family life, 238, 242. See also individual denominations Depression (1930s), 5, 169, 175–6, 222 Derrida, Jacques, 10 DesBrisay, Mather Byles, 287n14; History of the County of Lunenburg, 64, 71, 112–13, 132, 151, 288n35 diaries, 9–12, 283n15. See also Buckler, Ernest; Crouse, John Will diary of John Will (statistics, lists, accounts; otherwise, see Crouse, John Will): as an artefact, 8, 276n43; irst pages, 37–8; history, place in,


260; John Will’s attitude to diary, 11–12, 146, 147–8 – business and occupations: barter, 143–4; blacksmith costs, 77; capital purchases, 143; cattle trading, 117; farming, 120–1, 123–4; labour costs, 144; mill, building costs, 42–3, 50; mill dimensions, 50; millwright pay, 37–8, 41; mining, gold, 125; purchases of hay, 120; seasonal work, 119–21, 124; shares in gang mill, 75; timberland cost, 65, 73; wages, 57 – church and community: assessed household wealth of eleven families, 144–5, 290n52; church dues/ donations, 58, 133, 143, 282n36; “Collected for Mission House,” 133; “Municipality of Lunenburg” letter, 122; taxes and poor rate, 143, 153 – family and home: capital purchases, 143; cost of matriarch’s care, 155; cost of midwife, 101; housekeeping expenses, 143; purchases by Ken, 100; purchases for Fan, 100; summary ledger 1887, 143 – person: etiquette deinitions, 53–4; “Journal of Money Paid in 1872,” 50; New Year’s Eves, 4–5, 104–5, 137, 157, 159–60; suicides, 157; tobacco, 143 Dick, John (immigration agent), 16–17 Diefenbaker, John, 226 Dinesen, Isak, 115–16 Drew family, 27, 38 Drew, George E. (doctor), 100, 102, 141 Drew, Lemmel Walter, 38 Drew, Mary, 21 (map)



Drew, Patricia (née Harmon), 214 Drew, William, 21 (map) Dublin Shore, 179–80 Dummond, Scott, 259 Duncan, Jack and Lillian, 5, 181, 185–6 Dunlap, David, 21 (map), 22, 23–4 Dutch Reformed. See Calvinists and Dutch Reformed Eaton, Doris, 294n39 economy: late 1700s prosperity, 22–5; 1840s and 1850s, 32; 1870s growth, 83; early 1900s, 150; mid-1900s, 225–6; 1950s, 244; church dues/ donations, 58, 282n36; Crousetown, Depression, 169–70, 175; Crousetown, local, 144–8, 289n50, 290n52; education funding, 127; of farming and milling, 111; free trade in England, 30; John Will’s inancial standing, 142–8; “Journal of Money Paid in 1872,” 50; lumber, 44; migrants’ impact on their home, 114–15; organist salary, 205; and population levels, 62; poverty, 153–4 (see also welfare, social); regional differences, 109–11; surveying fees, 40; teachers’ pay, 182, 203; tourism, 45; trapping, 177; urbanization, 170–1. See also politics education: attendance, 212, 213, 295n11; discipline, 213; of early settlers, 23; Elvie’s schooling, 126–31; enrolment, 295n11; funding, 127; George Eliot, 72; Harold as teacher, 210–14; “Local Nature Observations,” 118–19; Lunenburg Academy, 6, 192,

200–3; Methodist teachings, 56, 126, 133–4, 285n48; millwright manuals, 45; music teacher, 195; parochial vs public schools, 110; Petite school, 36; phenology, 119; Provincial Normal College (PNC), 6, 192, 203; public and universal, 34, 39, 119, 279n14; quality of local, 181–2; recording environmental conditions, 118–19; school concerts, 210–12; school registers, 118–19, 144–5; school taxes, 143; self-improvement, 53–4, 202; singing schools, 93, 285n42 Eichel, Norman and Rebecca (sister), 223 Eikle family: 1800s overview, 151; cattle breeding, 117; deaths, 162, 163, 192; genealogies, 267; land sale, 192–3; library, 195, 198, 208; migratory narrative, 66–7; preparing the land, 70–2; St Michael’s Anglican Church, 136–7; settlement narrative, 67–72; shipyard, 138, 151, 162, 192, 284n37; social circle, 138 Eikle, Charles and Lucy (Kaulback): and Crouse family, 64; deaths, 138, 162, 164; household goods (spinning wheel), 69, 70; illness, 162; land purchase, 65; marriage, 65; migratory experience, 66–7; Oickle genealogy, 65; road building, 122; timberland, 91 Eikle, Charles Edwin, 192–3, 223, 243 Eikle, Edwin, 193, 194; business, 6, 192, 193, 222–3; church music, 136–7; civic and religious duties, 192; courtship, 138, 162–3; cows, 117; “Crop Reporting

Index Correspondent,” 192; death, 66, 223, 242–3; ire ighting, 81; gift of grace, 261; marriage, 5, 163; mill work, 175; position in family, 192–3, 194, 223; wife’s genealogy, 13. See also Eikle, Elvira “Elvie” Eikle, Elvira “Elvie” (née Crouse), 130, 139, 187, 193, 228, 247. See also Eikle, Edwin; Eikle, Harold Clairmont – business and occupations: “A Foodless Food Sale,” 231; Christmas Cantata at Crousetown, 228–9; education, 126–31, 128–30, 129; Flower Service at Crousetown, 229; newspaper columnist, 194, 203, 211, 227–9, 231, 240–2; “The Owl,” 6, 229; after St Mary’s dispute, 241–2 – church and community: alcohol, 231–2; Anglicanism, 138, 163, 181, 205–6, 228, 241–3, 246; correspondence, 232–8; Eikle-Kaulback dispute, 238–43, 246; rivalry among village women, 241, 290n55; temperance, 131; villagers’ opinions of, 237 – family and home: childhood, 105, 130; Christmas, 130; courtship, 138, 162–3; extravagance, 6–7, 12, 237–8; father, relationship with, 159; genealogy, 13, 64; and Harold, 203, 206–7, 246; marriage, 5, 163; motherhood, 167, 195, 227 – person: birth, 4, 62, 95, 99–104; character, 194–5; death, 7, 246–7; gift of grace, 261 Eikle, Harold Clairmont, 193, 194, 196–7, 209. See also Eikle, Edwin; Eikle, Elvira “Elvie”


– business and occupations: education, 72, 192, 198–200; education, high school, 200–3; education, of self, 202; music, 6–7, 205, 252, 253; music, church, 200–1, 206, 242; music, education, 208; music, at normal school, 204; music, payment for, 207; music, silent movies, 206–7; music, song list, 215; music, vocation, 208–9; music education, 195, 203; newspaper column, 251–2, 255–6; normal school, 203, 210; obituary writer, 230; teaching career, 203, 208–9, 210–14, 251–2 – church and community: alcohol and parties, 221–2, 246, 249, 251, 299n35; denomination, choice of, 204–6; Eikle-Kaulback dispute, 238–43, 242–3; friendships, 221–2, 250–1, 253–7, 297n26; on John Fancy, 93; Joshua Ramey narrative, 82; on Kathleen Ramey, 184, 186; letters and writings, 6, 11–12, 214–19, 221–2, 251, 252–5; moves west, 250–8; Peitzch suicide narrative, 83; villagers’ opinions of, 237 – family and home: childhood, 6; cow, death of, 236–7; early years, 192–203; in Elvie’s columns, 229–30; family history project, 243; family library, 195, 198, 208; family narratives, 66–9; father, relationship with, 242–3; inancial mismanagement, 237, 243–4; genealogy, 13; Georgie’s death, 140–1; marriage, 248–9, 249 (see also Warren, Gladys Kathryn); mother, death of, 247; mother, relationship with, 206–7, 227, 246;



on musical family, 136–7; position in family, 223 – person: birth, 5, 167; death, 7, 257–8; as “different,” 220; gift of grace, 261; sexuality, 7, 206, 230, 248; suicidal thoughts, 217; suicide attempted, 7, 250, 255 Eikle, Titus and Amy (née Johnson), 192, 222, 241 Eliot, George: The Mill on the Floss, 72, 149 Ells, Rebecca Chase Kinsman, 293n20 Enos Rock, 90, 284n40 entertainment and socializing: circus, fairs, etc., 94, 285n43; courtship, visiting, etc., 51–2; the Duncans, 185–6; in Elvie’s correspondence, 234–6; horse racing, 94, 118; mills centre for, 178; minstrel show, 229; ox-pull competitions, 117; parlour organ, 104; picnics, 124; poetry, 41; purchases, 50; reported in Elvie’s columns, 227–31; sports, 51; in village life, 186, 188, 294n39. See also alcohol; music Falkenham family: in Eikle settlement narrative, 70–1 Falt family: deaths at sea, 83 Falt, Humphrey, 83, 280n17 Falt, Joseph, 20 Falt, Uriah, 124 Fancy family: in Crousetown origins, 27; genealogy, 70–1; rotary mill, 157 Fancy, George: surveyor, 283n17 Fancy, John: death of, 140; dispute with John Will, 92–3; in Eikle

settlement narrative, 68, 70; house building, 88, 89; mill work, 42, 77, 78; occupations, 39; seaweed collecting, 123, 288n29 Fancy, Michael: land purchase/sale, 34, 65; mill ownership, 38 “Farewell to Nova Scotia,” 114, 287n17 farming: cost of equipment, 143; in economy, 111, 146, 226, 289n50; free trade, 108, 131; fruit, 124; and mill work, 79–80; seasonal work, 123–4; sheep, pigs, hens, 67, 105, 118, 123–4. See also cattle and oxen Ferguson, Henry, 20, 21 (map), 22, 23–4, 274n23 Field, Richard Henning, 69, 179 Fiendel, John Adam, 284n31 Fiendel, William, 93 Fingard, Judith, 277n48 ire: Burnaby mills threat of, 48–9; Crousetown and Petite Riviere, 81–2 First World War, 169, 179, 183–4 ishing, 22, 52, 161, 177, 274n25 Fitch, Bob and Gertie, 181 Fitch, James, 82 folk art/decorative arts, 69 Foreign Protestants, 13, 14–17, 18–19, 27, 64, 113, 273n21; Montbeliardis, 283n13 Forster, E.M., 221, 297n25; Maurice, 219–20 Fort Point, 113 Four Mile March, 120 France: and British immigration policies, 15, 17 Free Will Baptists, 55 Fry, Frank, 206–7

Index gaspereaus/kiacks, 22, 52, 161, 274n25 gay subculture and sexual identity, 7, 206, 220–2, 230, 296n23, 297n6, 297n25 genealogies, 273n16, 275n30, 276n43, 291n7; Eikle/Kaulback families, 267; John Will’s siblings, 33; Krauss/Crouse family, 264; Ramey family, 266; Simeon (“Old Sim”) family, 265 ghosts, 141, 188–90, 289n49 Glode/Gloade family, 177, 293n22 Godfrey, Earl, 214–15 Godfrey, Roy L. and Doreen, 217–18, 221, 256 gold, 124–5 Gordon report (1958), 226 Gray, Greta and Webster, 232–4, 236 Greenield mill, 45 Grifin grant, 21 (map), 274n23 Guest, Edward A., 231 Gwyn, Julian: Excessive Expectations, 145–6 Hall, Herbert S. and Janetta (Crouse): 1800s overview, 153; birth (Janetta), 33; car (Herbert), 170; entertainment, 104; genealogy (Janetta), 13; and John Fancy, 140; marriage, 92, 100; Victor Café, 171 Hall, Lowry, 171 Halliday, Ed, 90 Hamilton, Bertha (née Crouse), 234, 248 Hareven, Tamara, 8 Harmon family: land surveying, 40 Harmon, Alice, 101–2 Harmon, Lemuel “Lem,” 135, 144, 173, 174


Harmon’s mill, 40 Harris, Walter, 228, 241 Hartle family, 47 Hastings (BC) mill, 115 Hebb family: in Eikle settlement narrative, 71; suicides, 157 Hebb, Abraham and Lucy (née Crouse): Indian Gardens farm, 71, 93; mortgage, 34; musical entertainment, 93–4 Hebb, Adam, 71 Hebb, Christy Ann (née Fancy): death, 160; and Fan, 95, 97; and mother, 98 Hebb, Eva, 252–3 Hebb, Lillian (née Crouse) and Albert, 151–2, 252–3 Hebb, Matilda “Tillie,” 94 Hebb, William A. “Billy Abraham,” 93–4 Heckman mill, 84 Hemeon, Thomas, 166 Hémon, Louis: Maria Chapdelaine, 94–5, 285n46 Herman, Eddie, 188, 210, 294n39 Hiller, James K., 62 Hilton family: candy party, 94; church donations, 133; clocks, 40; in Crousetown origins, 27; land sale, 91 Hilton, James and Bess, 94, 96 Himmelman, Melody, 5, 171, 176, 177, 260 Hirtle family, 117 history: life writing, 8–11, 270n11, 270n12 homosexuality. See gay subculture and sexual identity “How Great Thou Art” (hymn), 7, 249, 299n35



Hubley, Josie (née Sperry), 6, 195, 230, 253, 295n6 Huestis, George O., 288n35 Huey family: in Crousetown origins, 27; entertainments, 41; mill ownership, 38, 43 Huey, Melissa, 105, 124 Humph’s Hill, 40, 84, 120, 280n17 Hunter, Robert: Bridgewater Iron Company, 77 Hutchinson’s Nova Scotia Directory, 37 Hutterite Colony (Veteran, Alberta), 251 illness and aflictions: cancer, 160, 162, 164–5; cost of operation, 223; John Will’s, 156–7, 161–2; mental illness, 161; stroke, 162, 166; tuberculosis, 216, 221, 240, 292n8 Ingersoll, Robert G.: The Truth Ghosts, 134 Inglis, Charles, 29, 277n48 Innwood, Kris, and Phyllis Nagy, 146 Italy Cross, 82, 91; population, 111; Wallace’s Brook petition signatories, 74 James, Terry, and Frances Anderson: In Praise of Oxen, 116–17 Johnson, Milford, and Frances: St Mary’s Anglican church, 165–6 Johnson, Ralph, 72 Johnson/Sperry mill, 83–4 Johnston family: caring for elderly, 155; in Crousetown origins, 27 Johnston, Alexander, 34 Johnston, Patsy (née Ramey), 210 Johnston, William, 22

Jordan, Abraham: marriage of John Will, 4, 95 Joudrey family: cattle trading, 117; in Crousetown origins, 27 Joudrey, Simeon, 144 Jourdey mill, 84 Kaulbach family: Anglican Church (Truro), 283n10 Kaulbach, Charles E., 138–40, 147, 238 Kaulbach, Henry: sheriff, 64–5 Kaulbach, Johann Martin, 64 Kaulback family: cattle breeding, 117–18; in Crousetown origins, 27; genealogy, 64–6, 267; inluential, 63–4; mill work, 42; occupations, 64; social circle, 138 Kaulback, Amos and Eva (née Barry), 138, 166; Eikle-Kaulback dispute, 238–43, 246; Eldora (née Langille), 189, 238, 239; Eldora’s position in family and community, 238–9, 298n19; land purchase, 192–3 Kaulback, Enos, 112 Kaulback, George (Conquerall Mills), 183 Kaulback, Jacob: Anglican, 63; land purchase/sale, 65; occupations, 39; sister’s family, 65–9; timberland, 65, 73 Kaulback, James, 93 Kingsley, Charles: The Self-Instructor for Surveying, 45 Kissing Bridge, 60, 123, 282n1. See also Crousetown Krauss, Johann Jacob and Maria Clara, 13, 14–15, 24; children, 18–19; descendents, 27, 273n20;

Index land grants, 18, 272n14. See also Crouse family entries Krauss, Leonard, Jr. See Crouse, Leonard, Jr Krauss, Leonard Anthony. See Crouse, Leonard Anthony labour: family and community as workforce, 71–2; family as workforce, 25, 28, 31, 39, 41–2, 77; shared by men and women, 25 Lacey, Laurie, 179–80 La Have Bakery, 233 La Have estuary, 19, 273n18 La Have Islands, 211–12 La Have Outitters and Ships’ Chandlers, 233 La Have River, in Bridgewater, 44 land grants and purchases: complexity of, 40, 280n18; Crouse family, 18, 21 (map), 24–6, 30–1, 166, 275n34; Crown land sold, 283n12; description of lots, 272n14; “Dutch lots” (Halifax), 64; Eikle property, 192–3; Ferguson land, 20–2, 274n23; gold, 125; Gottlieb’s estate, 36; land for school in Crousetown, 34; Leonard’s legacy, 34–5; Morreau family, 26; Old Burial Ground, 277n45; sheriff’s sales, 24, 64–5, 275n29; surveying, 40; timberland, 65, 72–3, 91, 192; Vogler family, 275n34; William Leonard’s estate, 35; William’s inheritance, 34. See also mills lawsuits, 80–1 Lehmann, Heinz, 293n29 Lepore, Jill, 270n11 Levenson, Arthur and Flora (née Crouse), 234–5


Liberal Party: free trade and temperance, 108, 109, 131; position of overseer under, 121–2; John Will’s support, 138–40 life writing, 9–11, 270n11, 270n12 Little, J.I., 281n32 Liverpool, 44, 51, 57 Liverpool Transcript, 53, 113 “Lucy Eikle Rose,” 261, 300n2 Lunenburg: 1700s enumerations, 19, 20; origins, 18 Lunenburg Academy, 6, 192, 200–3 Lunenburg County: appointed overseer (John Will), 121–2; automobiles, 170; county sheriff, 64–5; Crouse families (1838), 27; Germanic culture, 111, 179–80, 293n29; late 1800s economy, 145–8; as Liberal, 286n2; migration and population, 27, 62–3, 114, 283n7 Lunenburg County Asylum for the Poor (Dayspring), 153–4, 223 Lunenburg County Exhibition, 285n43 Lutherans and Lutheranism: in early Petite Riviere, 23, 28–9; German services, 23, 131; Johann and Maria Krauss, 19; losing ground, 111–12; Lutheran Evangelical Church (Lunenburg), 274n21; migrations, 62–3; Zion Lutheran Church (Lunenburg), 24. See also denominational rivalry Macdonald, John A.: National Policy, 108 Macfadden, Bernarr: Strong Eyes, 157 MacGregor, John, 81 MacKinnon, Robert, 146



MacNeil, A.R., 146, 283n7 Mancke, Elizabeth, 275n29 Manthorne, George, 22 Maple Leaf Hotel and Sporting Club (Greenield), 45 Maritimes (Nova Scotia): migrations and population, 15–18, 23–4, 62–3, 272n14, 274n28 marriage customs, 98–9, 163, 285n50 Martin, Cyrus, 24, 26 Max C. (ship), 162, 192 McCann, Larry, 109 McDonald family, 27 McDonald, George, 21 (map) McGregor, Joseph, 102 McOnie family, 293n22 Medway River. See Burnaby mill (Medway River); dams and waterways Meinig, D.W., 109, 180 Mennel, Robert, 8 Meredith, George: Diana of the Crossways, 294n39 Merliguesche, 18. See also Lunenburg Methodist Church (Petite Riviere), 98 Methodist Conference of Nova Scotia, 28–9 Methodists and Methodism: appeal of, 131–2; black preachers, 56–7; Canadian vs American, 281n33; church dues/donations, 58, 282n36; churchgoing times, 289n38; Crouse family split, 242; denominational rivalry, 29–30, 132; in early Petite Riviere, 21 (map), 23, 26, 28–9; education, 126; German and Scots-Irish bridge, 23, 28–9, 131, 179; “Hattie’s Church” and “Fan’s Church,” 136; and John Will, 7, 134–5, 137,

138, 242; marriage, 98; meeting houses, 55, 132; migrations, 63; open-air camp meetings, 55; Petite Circuit, 134; pew rents, 58, 282n36; quarterly meetings, 133–4; relected in children’s names, 132–3; role of religion, 54–6, 281n32; slavery, 281–2n34; teachings, 55–6. See also denominational rivalry Michener, Margaret Dickie, 276n43 migrations and population: 1700s Maritimes (Nova Scotia), 15–18, 23–4, 65, 272n14, 274n28; 1880s Nova Scotia, 109–10, 146, 290n57; assimilation and resistance to, 23, 63, 238, 274n21; birth rates, 62–3; Bridgewater area population, 111; across Canada, 114–15, 181, 226; from Canada to US, 108–9, 114, 146, 180–1; Crousetown, effect on, 180–6; and denominational rivalry, 17, 271n7; Lunenburg County’s population, 27, 62–3, 114, 146, 283n7; population, irst half 1900s, 170; school teachers, 181, 189 Mi’kmaw: and Acadians, 271n3; and British colonialism, 15, 17–18, 19, 271n2; ishing, 177; Glode family, 280n22, 293n22; and gold mines, 45; portrayed in 1890s history, 113; summer settlement, 31 mills, 245. See also Burnaby mill (Medway River); individual mills – business: barter, 143–4; building, 4, 26, 274n24; competition and family relations, 156; during Depression, 175; in economy, 111, 226, 244, 298n26; fees for milling, 41; First World War, 171, 172; ish ladder conservation, 161; free

Index trade, 108, 131; in history, 260; industrialism, 150; labour costs, 144, 173, 174; mill ownership (John Will), 35–6, 38–9, 41–2; millwright earnings, 47; price of land with mills, 24, 26; price of mills, 38, 42–3; timberland, 65 – products and labour: injuries, 49; mast making, 172; oar and handle mill, 123, 171, 259, 288n28; pier building, 42; production, operation, 174–5; production capacity, 92, 174–5; running of (John Will), 39, 42–4, 72–80, 100–1; seasonal work, 119–21, 124; wood for housing, 173 – technology: BridgewaterCrousetown wheels, 292n9; donkey engines, 115; electricity, 158, 174–5; gang mills, 41–2, 44, 47–8, 72, 75, 80, 84, 157; ironwork, 77; rotary mills, 157–9, 173–4; steam mills, 75; technological innovations, 157–8; water-powered, 287n18 Mill Village: churches, 55; George Crouse family, 36; lumber, 44 millwright, 4, 24, 45–7, 72, 83 Milton (Queens County), 44, 49, 50, 51 mining: gold, 125, 159; Molega mines, 45 Mont-Blanc (ship), 169 Moore, David Christmas, 153 Moores, Vivian, 299n35 Morreau family: spelling of name, 276n44 Morreau, Catherine (née Crouse): Morreaus and Crouses, 28 Morreau, Cornwallis: death, 28, 277n45; memorial, 138–9, 227, 261;


Methodism, 29; Morreaus and Crouses, 28 Morreau, Jean Baptiste, 27–8 Morreau, Matthew: economic expansion, 30–1; land purchase, 26; Morreaus and Crouses, 28 Mount Pleasant Road, 122 Mulock, Frank, 218–19, 221 Munro, James, 22–3, 29, 55 music: in church, 55, 136–7, 166; concertina, 50; Crouse family talents, 152–3; Crousetown concerts, 227–9; dulcimer, 93; education, 285n42; Harold’s, 6–7 (see also Eikle, Harold); at the Hebb farm (Indian Gardens), 93–4; of migrants, 181; organ, 143; organist salary, 205; in parlours, 91; school concerts, 210–12; for silent movies, 207; singing schools, 93 Nauss family, 162, 165; in Crousetown origins, 27; oxen purchase, 41; stones for house building, 88 Neish, Robert, 241 Nelson, Viola Crouse, 248, 249, 250 New Dublin Township (Nova Scotia): Crouse families (1838), 27; Crousetown origins, 37 newspapers, books, and journals: exposure to the world, 112; late 1800s news reported, 113–14; books of music for Harold, 195; self-improvement, 53; Veteran Eagle, 251, 299n37. See also Bridgewater Bulletin Nifort, Albert, 139 Nova Scotia: Anglican authority, 285n49; Assembly as Liberal, 286n2; and British colonialism,



15–16; disestablishment law, 30; petition to Assembly, 26–7, 74; regional differences, 109 Nova Scotia Central Railway, 110 Nussbaum, Felicity A., 9 Oickle/Eichel genealogy, 65. See also Eikle family Old Meeting House (Port Medway), 55 Old Sim family mill, 123 Olney, James, 9 oxen. See cattle and oxen Oxner, Howard, 140–1 Oxner, Samuel, 117 Palatinate, 16–18 Park family, 20, 27 Parks, Malcolm G., 83, 131–2, 248, 282n36 Parr, Joy, 276n41, 284n41, 291n13 Paulsen, Kenneth S., 273n17, 273n21 Pearl (ship), 15 peavey, 37, 106, 279n11 Peitzch, Matthew, 83 Pernette, Joseph, 20, 283n17 Petite Methodist Church, 131–2 Petite Riviere (village): bartering (John Will), 124; ire ighting, 81–2; ishing rights, 177; late 1700s economy, 22–4; Methodism, 23, 131–2; origins, 20, 37; petitions to clear the river, 26–7, 73–4; population, 111, 170; shipyards, 284n37. See also Crousetown Petite Riviere Watershed Commission, 260 Petite Watershed, 73 phenology, 119 politics: British inluence, 112; Confederation, 32, 107–8, 114, 281n30;

discrimination, racial, 236, 297n6; free trade vs protectionism, 108, 109, 131, 138; French and English rivalry, 24–5, 108, 112, 226; of John Will, 112–14; regional vs national, 109; workers unions, 236. See also economy Ponhook Lake, 44–5, 48, 280n22 population. See migrations and population Porter family: clocks, 40; in Crousetown origins, 27 Port Medway, 44, 45, 50, 55, 150 Presbyterians and Presbyterianism: denominational rivalry, 29, 271n7; in early Petite Riviere, 23; migrations, 63; post–United Church, 206, 295n13. See also denominational rivalry prohibition and bootlegging, 178–9. See also alcohol Protestantism: 1700s Lunenburg, 19; immigration policy, 16–17; “virile Christians,” 206 Provincial Normal College (PNC) (Truro), 6, 192, 203. See also education Punch, Terrence, 17 Queens County, 44 Raddall, Thomas H.: The Wings of Night, 226, 297n3 Rafuse, Franklyn and Stella, 214 railroads: Canadian Paciic, 108; Halifax-Yarmouth line, 150; Nova Scotia Central Railway, 110; rotary mill, 157; and South Shore, 44, 110, 150 Ramey family: 1800s overview, 152; in Crousetown origins, 27;

Index genealogies, 266; homestead, 85; house, 31; mill ownership, 171; relationship with John Will, 160–2 Ramey, Austin, 164–5 Ramey, Ben and Carrie (née Crouse), 162, 224; blacksmith, 77; cattle trading, 117; death (Ben), 223; entertainment, 186, 188; friend to John Will (Ben), 36; gathering place, 178; hay purchased by John Will, 120; help from older brother (Ben), 115; household wealth, 144; mill, ownership, 171; mill work, 79; mining, gold, 125; tourist guide (Ben), 177 Ramey, Bill and Kathleen (née O’Leary); Anita (née Bolivar), 289n48; death (Kathleen), 186; Kathleen and Bobby, 187; marriage and relationship (Kathleen), 5, 182–6, 184 Ramey, Catherine O’Leary, 184, 249–50; correspondence with Harold, 252, 254, 255, 260 Ramey, Gordon, 171 Ramey, Hallie, 161 Ramey, Lucy (née Slauenwhite; m. James Fancy): death, 98; death of infant, 82; family, 36; marriage of Fan, 97–8, 102 Ramey, Maurice and Edith (née Mader), 169, 171; Edith, 187; Edith and Elvie, 246; correspondence with Harold (Edith), 252, 254; entertainment (Maurice), 188; migrant (Edith), 181; tourist guide (Maurice), 177 Ramey, Robert “Bobby” and Ruth (née Hebb), 183, 186, 187, 230; correspondence with Harold, 252, 253–5


Ramey, Sollie, 171 Ramey, Solomon: death, 78–9, 98, 169; death of infant, 82; family, 36; land purchase, 36, 280n18; mill dispute with John Will, 77–9 Ramey, Solomon Jr, “Saul Reamy,” 114–15, 158, 187; death, 169; support of John Will’s family, 5, 160–2 Ramey, Tom, 34 Ramey mills, 123, 161–2, 171–2 Reciprocity Treaty (Britain and US), 32 Reformation, 11 religion. See denominational rivalry; individual religions and denominations responsible government, 32, 34, 278n2 Rhuland, Anthony and Christian: land purchase, 22 Riel, Louis, 114 Ritcey, William, 42 Robertson, Barbara, 79–80, 260 Robinson, Edwin Arlington, 258 Roman Catholics: British immigration policy, 17; French of Quebec, 108; Jean Baptiste Morreau, 27–8; in Lunenburg County, 62 Romkey family, 288n29 Ross family mill, 79–80 Ryerson, Egerton, 203 Salter’s Falls: John Will’s employment, 44–57 Second World War, 179–80, 182, 234 Shankle, Howard, 210 shipyards, 111, 138, 150, 151, 162, 284n37 Simcoe, John, 24 Slauenwhite, Elizabeth, 237–8 Smith, Goldwin: Canada and the Canadian Question, 108



Snyder, Nellie (née Vogler), 244, 245, 279n7, 288n28, 298n12 South Shore: economy and politics, 109–11; late 1800s economy, 145–8; transportation, 44, 110–11 Spencer, James, 136–7 Sperry family: entertainments, 51; land surveying, 40; mill injuries, 49; mill ownership, 43; mill work, 47 Sperry, Edwin (pupil of Harold), 210 Sperry, Edwin and Amelia (née Crouse): death at sea of son, 83; mill with John Will, 75 Sperry, Jacob, 34 Sperry, Jenny (née Ramey), 187, 197, 223; friend to Harold, 195 Sperry, John Drew, 138 Sperry, Lem, 52, 75, 81, 118 Sperry, Sam and Adelaide, 165–6, 181; daughters Rhoda and Eva, 181–3, 234–5, 240 Sperry, Samuel, 133, 144 Sperry, William and Sarah (née Crouse), 82 Stern, William, 30–1 Stewart family, 27, 155 Stewart, James: stone mason, 88–9 Stewart, Ralph, 188 Stewart, Uriah, 123, 166, 188 St James Anglican Church (Conquerall Mills), 242, 290n60 St James Anglican Church (West Dublin), 98–9 St Mary’s Anglican Church (Crousetown): 2007, 261–2; churchgoing times, 289n38; Eikle-Kaulback dispute, 239–41; Elvie’s obituary, 246; “Fan’s Church,” 5, 136, 193, 205, 224; Fan’s funeral, 223–4; John Will’s funeral, 167–8; new church, 165–6

St Matthias Anglican Church (Italy Cross), 138 St Michael’s Anglican Church (Petite Riviere), 136–7, 151, 241, 243, 289n38 suicide, 4, 7, 83, 104, 157, 221, 250, 255 surveying, 20, 40, 45, 84, 283n17 Tancook Island, 218–19 Teal, Billy and Dawn, 238, 278n53 temperance, 53, 131, 138. See also alcohol Three Brothers (schooner), 83 Tidal Waters summer resort, 158, 176 Tindall, Gillian, 270n12 transportation: of mill products, 175; railroads, 44, 108, 110, 150; road maintenance, 121–2; South Shore, 44, 110–11, 150. See also dams and waterways; walking as transport Tumblin, Charles W. and Cecilia (née Seaboyer), 215–17, 221, 249 United Church of Canada, 134, 206, 242, 295n13. See also Methodists and Methodism United States: Anglophobia, 24–5, 275n33; Methodism, 281n33; migration from Canada to, 108–9, 114, 146, 180–1; Reciprocity Treaty with Britain, 32 Veblen, Thorstein, 292n20 Veteran (Alberta), 250, 251, 257–8 Veteran Eagle, 251, 299n37 Viola Desmond case (civil rights), 297–8n7 Vogler family: child drowned, 60; in Crousetown origins, 27; deaths at sea, 83; land purchases, 275n34; land surveying, 40; mill

Index ownership, 38, 43; mill work, 47; surveying with John Will, 84 Vogler, Christopher, Sr, 25 Vogler, Christopher, Jr, and Mary Ann (née Crouse): genealogy, 284n20; homestead, 85; house building, 30–1; marriage described by John Will, 100; timberland, 72 Vogler, Frederick, 25 Vogler, Hatty, 100–2 Vogler, Henry: household wealth, 144; oar and handle mill, 171. See also Crouse Brothers Vogler, John, 42 Vogler, Ruth, 298n12 Vogler, Stephen, 145, 290n53 Vogler, William, 123, 144 Wagner, Eileen, 247 Waite, Peter, 107–8, 109 walking as transport: John Will, 39, 40, 51, 110–11; and migration, 17. See also transportation Wallace’s Bridge/Brook, 60, 73–4, 84, 111, 120, 123. See also Crousetown Warren, Gladys Kathryn: marriage to Harold, 248–9, 249, 250, 257 Watson family: in Crousetown origins, 27; mill fees, 41; mill ownership, 43; mill work, 42 Watson, Gael, 189–90 Watson, Matthew and son Joshua: church donations, 133; lawsuits and brawls, 81 Webber, Ralph, 215, 221–2


welfare, social: families as, 33, 150; local charity, 49; Overseer of the Poor, 150–1, 153, 155, 298n20; poor rates, 143, 153; public programs, 115, 148, 150–1, 179, 244. See also economy Wentzell, Charley, 49 Wentzell, George, 167 Wentzell, Joseph, 120 Wesley United Church (Petite Riviere), 299n35 West Dublin, 98, 124; population, 111 Westfall, William, 277n50 West La Have (Dublin), 213; population, 170 Wetmore, Don, 207 Wightman, George: 1825 survey, 20 Wilcox, Donald J., 10 Wolfenden Report (1957), 220 women: considered dominant in congregations, 206; education, 39, 279n14; inheritance, 19, 273n17; labour of, 25; “Lady’s Deed,” 38–9; network of care, 102; opportunities lacking, 182; rights, 279n13 Yanky mill, 35, 36, 38, 41–3, 143, 157, 165, 279n7 Young, J. Christopher: Bell’s Register, 14 Young, Verna, 214 Zion Lutheran Church (Lunenburg), 24