Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Nelson side -- Nova Scotia

Elizabeth Alice Nelson (1879-1953) -- always called Alice -- was my paternal grandmother.

Alice Nelson
She was born in Salmon River, Colchester, Nova Scotia, near Truro and Great Village. It is through Alice that I descend from ordinary people, heroes and villains, nobility, royals, Magna Carta sureties and barons, a Mayflower passenger and some of the oldest families of North America.

Alice trained as a teacher at the Truro Normal College, but teaching was not for her it seemed. So in 1908, aged 28, she went off to Montreal to become part of what became the first graduating class of registered nurses at the Royal Victoria Hospital. In her final months as a student, she was assigned to care for a young man who was recovering from an appendectomy. That man was my grandfather, John James Dougherty (1879-1953). Alice graduated, but never worked as a nurse, instead marrying John on 20 Sep 1909 in Montreal, after converting to Roman Catholicism, having been raised a Baptist.

Marriage record, St Michael the Archangel Parish register
The first Nelson to come to the Truro area was my fourth great grandfather, Alexander Nelson (abt 1737-1803), who may or may not have fought with General Wolfe at the Plains of Abraham -- that's one of the stories or perhaps a tall tale. He was probably born in Glasgow, Scotland. Alexander was a New England Planter who arrived in Nova Scotia, newly married, in 1760 and received a Crown land grant.

Alexander Nelson land grant
These land grants were of seized lands during the Acadian Expulsion, a fact not to be proud about. I believe a part of the land Alexander received remains in Nelson hands to this day. My father and his brothers spent many boyhood summers working on the farm in Great Village.

Alexander was followed to Nova Scotia over the next 25 years by many other of my New England ancestors. And yet, I still can't prove any link to United Empire Loyalists -- yet -- which some friends will find very funny indeed.

Alexander and his wife Margaret had at least 13 children, some of whom died young, but many more of whom married and had their own large families. Some of those stayed in Nova Scotia, others went to the United States. Besides me, some of Alexander's better known descendants are Wild Bill Hickok and Ozzie Nelson (the Ozzie and Harriet Show).

The never ending story continues.

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