Wallace Bay

Early Industry in The Wallace Bay Area

The following letter is reprinted from the Feb. 22, 1962, issue of The Oxford Journal, and describes some of the early industries in the Wallace Bay area. It was written by Mrs. Ada G. Foster, then of Naples, Florida. Mrs. Foster is still a subscriber of The Oxford Journal and she now lives at Cyress, California.

To the Editor of The Oxford Journal

I have been asked to write what I know or can remember hearing about early industries in the Wallace Bay area.

Two of my ancestors, Major Andrew Forshner and Stephen Tuttle, were among the first settlers, and I have been told that Major Forshner was the first. He was a soldier in the Army of King George 3rd and was born in the province of Hesse, Germany.

Due to an injury he did not take part in, but watched the progress of the Battle of Bunker Hill. I have heard my grandparents re-telling the story of that battle, as described by the major. According to his account, it was less a battle than a massacre, and in the book “Oliver Wisell” by Kenneth Roberts there is a description of the battle that is very much like the one I heard so many times.

After the war, the Major received a grant of land from King George. I often saw the old parchment document in my grandfather’s desk, when I was a child, but when I was old enough to be interested it had disappeared. It was called the “Remsheg Grant” and as I remember it, the western boundary was the crossroad, now unused, leading across what used to be known as the “Head of the Bay bridge”. The northern boundary was Wallace Bay but I do not remember the Eastern and Southern boundaries. There was marshland next to the Bay, some of it protected grandmother told me, had been built by the French soldiers. There could have been French settlers in earlier times. I have read recently, that during the French – English wars, the French assisted farmers along the North Shore of Nova Scotia, because is was easy to get produce across the Louisburg garrison without risking encounters with the English fleet.

The original homestead was built on the North side of the road, just a little East of the United Church of today. The cellar hole remains, now filled by a grove of Balm of Gilead trees, and I think there are still some old apple trees on the slope below it.

A small spring fed stream runs in a northerly direction across this grant. I believe it was called “Forshner’s Brook” but to us it was just the Millbrook. In the early days, three small dams were built across this brook by the Forshners. I can not give dates but I know there was the “Upper Pond” back in the woods, for holding water, then the “Middle Pond” where I believe a sawmill was located, and just south of the road was the “Millpond”. The water wheel which must have been used, was gone before I can remember, but there was a carding mill and a grist mill operating there in the eighteen hundreds. The carding mill was still standing up to about 1900, with the rusted machinery still inside, and I loved to go and play in the old, tumbling down building. It was just north of the road, on the west side of the brook.

The grist mill must have been beside it, for several of the old mill stones were still lying on the ground there. One had been moved to my grandfather’s house, just east of the church and used as a front doorstep. The grant was divided among the Major’s three sons, Andrew, Knapp and John, a number of his descendants still live there. Stephen Tuttle was a Crown surveyor in New York State, and came to Nova Scotia, where he also received a land grant, after the Revolutionary War. Many of his descendants still live in the Wallace Bay, Wallace, Wentworth and Pugwash areas.

Two of his great-grandsons, brothers, William and Thomas Tuttle, lived on the main road, now the Sunrise Trail, a short distance west of the “Crossroad” previously mentioned. William was a carriage builder and Thomas a blacksmith, and they carried on a business there which probably ended in the years between 1890 and 1900. In the earlier years they also built coffins or caskets.

Thomas was my grandfather, and my grandmother has told me how she used to line the coffins with padded white silk, and she also helped to upholster the seats and backs of the buggies. They had a shop just south of the road, consisting of two buildings set at right angles. The heavier work and the blacksmithing were done on the ground floors and the finishing and painting in the upper rooms which were connected by a platform on which the carriages could be moved from one building to the other.

It was very fascinating to watch Uncle Willie put long strips of bright colors on the shafts and other parts of the completed work, as a decorative touch. I could never understand how he made such straight lines, as I never saw him use any sort of guide.

My grandfather, Thomas, married Julia Stevens in 1862. Her father, Joshua Stevens, was a shoemaker or cobbler, but I do not know where he carried on his work. He had a large family. His youngest son, John, was for years the proprietor of the Stanely House Hotel in Truro.

My father, W. Arthur Tuttle, and his brother, Harvey M. Tuttle, ran a portable sawmill for a number of years, taking large cuts in various parts of Nova Scotia during the winters, and usually setting up the mill on Forshner brook or some other place near their homes, and doing custom work in spare time during the summers. They also used their steam boiler to run a threshing outfit in the fall. All of this work ended by 1920.

When I was very young, I remember a tiny store, run by George Forshner, at the corner opposite where Harvey Mitchell’s blacksmith shop now stands. His wife was Mary Jane Peers, and her brother, Andrew Peers, operated the blacksmith shop for many years, before Mr. Mitchell bought it.

Another small business was carried on by a man named Harry Oxley. He had a tall, two-wheeled cart, and he peddled fish. Salt fish were staple, and finnan-haddie, but at times he would have salmon, or mackeral, and in season, shad, from the St. John River. I hope this may be some use to you. The writing of it has stirred such a flood of memories that I find it hard to return to the days of atom bomb, and reaching for the moon.

(Source: Oxford Journal, Thursday, March 9, 1972, Page 7 – Early Industry in The Wallace Bay Area)

[And a sincere thanks to CCGS member Kathryn Jeffers for this submission.]