Oak Island's political connections in the Assembly of NS

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Oak Island's political connections in the Assembly of NS

Postby n4n224ccw on Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:00 pm

Oak Island's political connections in the Assembly of NS and before 1805.

Since I departed a blind faith belief in the story's legend and conducting my own search for information, many documents have been discovered which have never been of the public domain or even connected to the island or the folks involved. I'm glad I can share this information with you for your enjoyment and discovering truth for yourself.

I highly recommend the book “Johnny Bluenoses at the Polls” to best illustrate the political climate and how these folks became elected officials.

The political connections to Oak Island before 1805 is one such element of surprising truth. Notwithstanding the immediate connection of Jonathan Prescott to the island via property ownership, he was a long serving Justice of the Peace and he also unsuccessfully ran for elected office with the Assembly.

The 1784 Island Shares document shows Richard Cunningham owning lot #32. This document is the only one which connects Richard to the island. Richard was the Assembly of NS representative for the Town of Yarmouth, 1779 to 1784. This property would be returned to the crown via escheats (reported as being abandon or not improved as per the grant) which would in turn allowed Samuel Ball to subsequently petition the government for ownership. One might do well to read “Annals of Barrington and Yarmouth during the Revolutionary War, 1899, Edmund Poole” to illuminate Cunningham's constituents.

The 1795 deed of sale for lot 18 by Casper Wollenhaupt to John Smith is the only document which connects Casper to the island. He of course was the Assembly of NS representative for the Town of Lunenburg 1785 to 1783.

Hector McLean/MacLean owned lot 24 from 1784 to 1790. Deeds detail his purchase from William Bowie and sale to Donald McGinnis. He in turn would be appointed to represent the County of Hants from 1793 to 1797.

William Cochran has a namesake John Cochran (relationship still unknown) who owned Oak Island lot 1 and sold to Alexander Pattillo in 1785. William is the Assembly of NS representative for the Town of Halifax from 1785 to 1806.

The above four men are easy examples to find with only a little original research, there is also the Cochran possibility which would make for 5 in total; however, there is one more who was not so easy to root out and happens to be most unexpectedly. This information came while conducting follow-up work on Issac Blair. He is the man who is mentioned in the 1893/4 Prospectus as the "the well known building mover of 444 Harrison Ave., Boston, whose grandfather was one of the old Onslow Co. In 1802".

Issac Blair – paternal grandfather is William Blair (via son/father) Daniel, maternal grandfather William Freeman (via daughter/mother Rebecca).

William Blair is brother to Hannah Blair (wife of Col Archibald) and brother to Rebecca Blair (wife of Thomas Lynds, mother of Simeon Lynds), thus Issac's father William would be a nephew to both Col Robert Archibald and Thomas Lynds through his sisters marrying these men.

Issac's maternal grandfather died 5 May 1801, thus if the Onslow effort took place in 1804/05, we can eliminate him as the participant, this leaves William Blair to have been the Onslow digger; however, this is not the end of William Freeman and who will be revisited shortly. On a side note, William has a very long relationship to Cumberland county and Amherst, he is an interesting character to read about.

One must naturally wonder why George Cooke did not include William Blair's name with Onslow's efforts when he was free to share Robert and David Archibald, and Harris who were not even from Onslow during the time of their digging.

Issac was a participant at the time of Cooke and for a man who was crafting the story, it does not stand to reason for him to exclude William Blair's name should have things been on the up and up. Perhaps Cooke giving out William Blair's name was just too much of a give-away? Regardless of why, Issac lets his grandfather's involvement become known a full 30 years later and it is this information which is most intriguing, but unfortunately he accidentally lets lip out the political connection for anyone wanting to look.

There can be no doubt about the Blair and Freeman families supporting the American cause during the revolution. It was the opinion of Halifax that no loyal citizen's from Cumberland could be found to represent the county in the legislature; thus Cumberland went without representation. With that said, in 1783 and towards the end of the Revolution and only after the Governor granting of general amnesty, William Freeman is appointed to represent the Township of Amherst for the 5th General Assembly (1770 to 1784). William returns for the 6th General Assembly (1785 to 1793), and then represents the County of Cumberland for the 7th General Assembly (1793 to 1799). We can easily see William Freeman, the grandfather to Issac Blair, to have rubbed elbows with Cunningham, Wollenhaupt, McLean, and Cochran.

It is during this 7th General Assembly where the VERY surprising connection can be made to the Vaughns, Blairs, Archibalds and Lynds. You will note that during this time in NS politics the Counties generally had two representatives with Cumberland County being no exception. The other man representing Cumberland was Samuel Embrie.

Samuel and his and his son Thomas are the men worth identifying. Genealogical records and the Chester Township papers spell the name Embree, Halifax records spell the name Embrie, and Lunenburg county records spell the name Embrey.

Embree certainly is an uncommon name and it does look VERY familiar doesn't it and where have we seen this name before?

Depending on genealogical source, Samuel was either a Colonel or a Lieutenant and Thomas was a Captain, both from Westchester County New York. They both chose to support the King during the Revolution and for that they fled America and arrived in Halifax during 1783.

Samuel obviously went to Cumberland. Thomas went to Chester in about 1785 along with his brother Robert. Thomas married the widow Deborah BANGS (nee Hall) on 14 March 1786 in St. Stephens Anglican Church, Chester. Records show Thomas was a shopkeeper and most likely applying his craft of tanner. Robert disappears from the record, with a source mentioning he was dead by 1791.
In keeping with the family connection, we of course have an Embree in Cumberland marrying into the Lynds family. Catherine Embree and Robert Lynds married in 1823.

....but where do we know the Embree name from and in connection to Oak Island? The following are from deeds which I have readily available to examine.

Thomas Embree is listed as witness for the deed of sale for lot 27, Pattilo to McGinnis 1791.
Thomas Embree is listed as witness for the deed of sale for lot 1, Pattillo to McGinnis 1794.
Thomas Embree is listed as witness for the deed of sale for lot 16, Melvin to McGinnis 1796.

It would appear Thomas Embree and Donald McGinnis had some type of relationship or association, perhaps a bond developed with both men having military service with the Crown and fighting the American rebels? Through this relationship it does stand to reason for McGinnis to share island details with Embree and in turn, Thomas sharing these details with his father in Cumberland County.

...I've never before shared the names of witnesses for property deeds, therefore these records cannot be the previous exposure to the Embree name.

We can now look towards the Vaughan family, specifically the first child of Anthony Vaughan Jr and Elizabeth (Nelson) born in 1803. They of course name her Ann EMBREE Vaughan. The giving of a middle name was usually reserved for important family or friends which was used to signify some sort of appreciation or remembrance. It would seem like the family of Thomas Embree surely had some importance to Anthony and Elizabeth Vaughan. This is the record where we first see the name EMBREE that we are familiar with.

While the above linkage of information certainly does seem like a eureka moment, the best is yet to come because this rabbit hole goes a little deeper.

We now know Anthony Vaughan Jr and Elizabeth Nelson's intimate relationship dates to January of 1803, with them marrying in May of 1803 and their first daughter born in October of 1803. Did Anthony go to Truro or did Elizabeth come to Chester, either way, when did that happen?

In keeping with the importance of middle name giving we can further examine the Chester Township records and discover the following:

Thomas and his wife Deborah's last daughter was born on 11 May 1801. They named her Elizabeth NELSON Embree. If this daughter was named after Elizabeth Nelson, then this could only mean Elizabeth Nelson was known to the Embree family by May of 1801, which would make her 14 years of age. This certainly appears to be one strange coincidence!

There was an Elizabeth Nelson born in Lunenburg during 1762; however, this family is completely absent from any further Nova Scotia record after 1762; therefore it is unlikely for this to be the namesake woman.

We now have much to consider and need to revisit records of Onslow's attempt before 1803. There now exists a reasonable possibility for the initial Onslow efforts to be in 1801 or earlier, which in turn opens up the possibility for Issac's other grandfather, William Freeman to have been involved with the dig, and totally refutes the story of Simeon Lynds' innocent visit to Chester as the impetuous for Onslow's introduction. Cooke's statement about Vaughan and Thomas Lynds being related is looking more like related through common activity rather than family.

With all of that said, the loop is still not closed regarding Thomas Embree and the Vaughan family. We can now turn to the Lunenburg County book of deeds for some answers. Lot #4 of Oak Island does have a few interesting features and I'll leave it at that. The record clearly shows Alexander McNeil buying lot 4 from John Kinghorn on 24 February 1786.

There is no deed of sale from Alexander McNeil on file.

The next deed on file detailing lot 4 is Anthony Vaughn Sr to Thomas Embree, 4 June 1804 and for the sum of 17 pounds. This would appear to be the Vaughn family's last remaining Oak Island property and it seems strange to sell if Captain Kidd's treasure is buried below the island. Selling this property and removing his family's interest does not seem like a reasonable action, especially if we are to think a treasure hunt was going on. What is more fascinating is that Anthony Sr did not sell the property to Anthony Jr.

The next deed of sale is Thomas Embree to George Beazanson on 1 April 1807 for the staggering sum of 40 pounds. This certainly was the highest price paid to date for an island lot and in turn could mean many things, like belief in a buried treasure; however, such a belief by Beazanson was short lived.

On 20 April 1807, only 19 days after Beazanson bought the property from Embree, he sold this to Anthony Vaughan Jr for 36 pounds, thus resulting in a 4 pound loss!

Thomas died in Chester, his children removed themselves to the Canso area and became ship builders on Embree Island.

Thankfully there exists an extensive collection of Embree family letters between Thomas and his father in Cumberland County. I can only wonder what information can be gained through those letters?

The post Revolutionary history of Oak Island is a complex web of lies and partial truths to sort through.

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