Among the many treasures
inherited by the Mount Hanley and District One-room Schoolhouse Museum Society,
is a beautiful hand-written book on the history of Mount Hanley. The author,
Ora Blossom Elliott, was a 19 year-old resident of the North Mountain community
The hand writing is exquisite and
is accompanied by hand-drawn maps and sketches of buildings and activities of
Ora starts with a description of
the original Native people and how they lived along the Bay of Fundy and the
brooks and rivers that flowed into the bay. The Miller Brook, featured heavily
in the book, was an important landmark. She sketches the housing and tools of
these first people.
in the 1700's settlers arrived, divided the land and built themselves crude log
houses warmed by large fireplaces where the women did the cooking and baked in
brick ovens. These early families raised grain, corn and potatoes. Before there
were any roads built, they travelled long distances on foot and on horseback to
do their trading. Early family names in Mount Hanley were: Miller, Durland,
Slocumb, Armstrong and Elliott, along with Hawkesworth, Daniels and Brown.
After the Rev. Thomas Hanley Chipman arrived in the settlement in 1776 it came
to be known as Hanley Mountain, a part of Wilmot Township.
All farm work was carried out by
hand in those early days. The same was true of harvesting. Mowing by scythes
and the use of wooden hand rakes brought in the grain and hay. There were large
wooden rakes drawn by horse or oxen that needed to be heaved up by the driver
when the tines were full. The hay was loaded onto wagons and brought to the
homestead. Grain was hand beaten with a flail. Everyone helped in the
harvesting. Milk was processed by pouring it into shallow pans and letting it
sit in a cool place until the cream rose and congealed. Then it was skimmed off
and made into butter in a dash churn before being sold or traded to the local
In the winter months girls and
women spun and wove wool and made the family clothing. Ora tells us, "In
1909 in the Village of Mount Hanley, two of the old ladies still weave wool
into cloth, which they sell."
A local store was most important
from the earliest days. The first one was started by John Bent in 1780. The
maps show the Miller Brook and the
schoolhouse at the end of the Brown Road. Other roads, long since abandoned,
Industries in the area were
farming, sheep raising, wood cutting and orchard fruits. The soil was fertile
and large crops were harvested. The families had many children in the early
days, all busily employed in contributing to the family upkeep. Potatoes were
shipped to Saint John and grain for livestock and wheat for flour were raised.
Men cut wood in winter and hauled it out in early spring. Then it was sold for
firewood in Middleton. Sheep were very profitable as wool was essential for
clothing and lambs brought large prices for meat.
was not neglected as settlement increased and large families grew. The first
schoolhouse was built on the Brown Road, halfway
between Outram and Mount Hanley around 1805. Itinerant teachers had gone from
home to home before this. In 1849 the early schoolhouse was moved to the top of
Slocumb Hill and ten years later a new school was built on the present site on
land "comprised of one quarter acre." This is the school attended by
Ora, and earlier by Joshua Slocum, the first man to sail alone around the
In 1892, when Ora was just two
years old the schoolhouse was repaired by A. H. Barteaux and a woodshed was
added to the back. Ora's sketches include the schools.
The earliest settlers had to ride
on horseback to Nictaux to attend the Baptist Church, but in 1829 the first
church was built, one mile from the top of Hanley Mountain to service the
Baptist population. In 1861 it was rebuilt and nicely finished, with a choir
gallery added. A Methodist Church was also built in the early 1800's but it had
disappeared by 1900. Several graveyards in the area are still identified. The
earliest have headstones made from local rocks. These cemeteries gave rise to
ghost stories of bygone days.
The Miller Brook was important to
the village. It makes its way down to the bay and had great powers. Around 1800
Jacob Miller dammed the brook near the corner of the Brown Road, and there he
erected a grist mill which was still in use in 1900. People took their grain to
be ground into animal feed. A short distance below on the brook another dam was
built to power a sawmill, erected by William Healy in 1830. Logs were sawn into
lumber and after this people could build their homes from boards instead of logs.
This saw mill was in use until 1894. Further down the stream a distillery was
built where Anthony Wilkins made medicinal essences from materials such as
peppermint and spruce. The latter was used to cure colds and make plasters to
soothe lame backs. In 1909, Ora reports, "The Village is still making
progress. She provides sketches of the grist mill and the old saw mill.
Over the years more stores were
built, "One by Caleb Miller was later replaced by a two-storey business at
the top of Crab Hill, where it now stands (1909) This store also contains the
fascinating look at Mount Hanley's history was written by 19 year-old Ora
Blossom Elliott who grew up in the house beside the Baptist Church, and who
graduated from Acadia University at the age of 16. Like many others of her day
she died at an early age of galloping consumption, but she left a great legacy
in this history of her home village. Authentic reproductions of her book are
available from the Mount Hanley and District One-room Schoolhouse Museum
Society with the hope that it will help keep her memory alive.