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  • Notes on the Manuscript Collection: Brechin Collection

    John B. Carney

    Published Date : February 1986
    The Brechin collection was compiled by Dr. William P. Brechin (d. 1899) of Boston.  Most of the work appears to have been done between 1878 and 1896, often in consultation with the Reverend Arthur W. H. Eaton (1849-1937), another genealogist deeply interested in Nova Scotia genealogy.  Because of this mutual interest, Eaton apparently held Dr. Brechin’s papers, and gave them to the Society with his own, between 1902 and 1932.  Some of Dr. Brechin’s findings have been published in the WESTERN CHRONICAL and other Nova Scotia newspapers beginning in March 1890.

    Dr. Brechin advertised his research as the “genealogical records of families of New England origin that settled in the land of Evangeline in the year 1760, after the deportation of the Acadians in 1755.”  In its published form, this was refined to “historical and genealogical sketches of Kings County and its early New England inhabitants.”  The specific area included the townships of Aylesford, Cornwallis (Wolfville), and Horton, Nova Scotia.

    The material is divided into genealogical and historical segments.  By far the largest part is genealogical, which is split between a volume of completed family genealogies, and folders of notes, correspondence, articles, etc., on 165 families.  Of particular interest are five letters written by Stephen Sheffield to his mother, while he was a seaman voyaging between St. John, New Brunswick, and London in 1824 and 1825.

    The historical portion takes up one-eighth of the whole.  It includes material transcribed from a minister’s marriage book, as well as town records of minutes, vital records, grant lists, and livestock earmark assignments.

    Sub-group one contains genealogies, notes, correspondence and articles 1750-1893.  Sub-group two contains historical and genealogical sketches, notes, etc., of Kings County.  Sub-group three contains historical and vital records of the towns of Aylesford, Cornwallis (Wolfville), and Horton.

    ARTHUR W. H. EATON COLLECTION

    SG  Eat  1, 7 linear feet.

    The Eaton Collection consists of genealogies, history, vital records, notes and correspondence pertaining to Planters and United Empire Loyalists in Nova Scotia, and material from Eaton’s activities as a churchman and educator, 1871-1927. The Reverend Arthur W. H. Eaton (1849-1937) was a resident of Kentville, Nova Scotia.  He moved to Boston in 1873 to complete his education, and served as an Episcopal deacon and priest in Indiana, New York, and Massachusetts, as well as a teacher of English Literature at the Cutler School in New York.  He was an amateur historian and studied a wide range of topics, including theology, genealogy, biography, local history, and poetry.

    Eaton gave his papers to the Society in separate sections over the period 1903-1937.  Each was catalogued upon arrival.  The present reorganization has been made to bring scattered sections together, while preserving as much of the original system as possible.

    The collection was compiled during the period 1871-1927.  Much of it concerns Nova Scotia and its settlers, particularly Planters and United Empire Loyalists.  Genealogical notes, correspondence and exhaustive vital record transcripts make up most of the collection, particularly for the counties of Hants and Kings. The collection also contains material from Eaton’s works on the Anglican Church in Nova Scotia, and the country’s heritage of verse and lyrics.

    Eaton’s church activities are covered in correspondence with Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), Richard H. Newton (1840-1914), and William W. Newton (1843-1914).  Eaton’s correspondence as an educator includes letters concerning the successes or failures with university examinations of former students from the Gallatin, Grant, Livermore and Bullard families of New York.

    The private Eaton papers are generally social correspondence from the period 1880-1891 when Eaton was in New York. Correspondence from the poet William O. Partridge (1861-1930) is of historical interest. There is in addition a small collection of papers relating to Wyatt Eaton, the portraitist (1849-1896). Wyatt’s diary for 1867 is of special interest since that was the year he gave up carriage painting to study portraiture.

    The collection is divided into six sub-groups.  Sub-group I contains genealogies, biographical sketches, notes, clippings, and correspondence concerning Nova Scotia Planters and United Empire Loyalists, 1680-1927. Sub-group II contains vital records from Kings and Hants Counties, Nova Scotia, 1752-1858.  Sub-group III is made up of research notes, drafts, questionnaires on the Anglican Church in Nova Scotia; the history of Halifax and Kings County; and the colonial era in Boston, New York, and Virginia.  Sub-group IV contains papers reflecting Eaton’s activities in the Episcopal Church, 1871-1893. Sub-group V contains business papers involving correspondence with publishers, and material from teaching at the Cutler School in New York, 1885-1900.  Sub-group VI contains private and family papers, including correspondence and a diary, 1874-1891.


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