Wednesday, 18 September 2019
featured Poverty Racism

The only segregated poor house in Nova Scotia

The Poor House, or County Home as some call it, in Bridgetown in the Annapolis Valley, was the only poor house in the province that segregated its residents based on the colour of their skins. Other poor houses did not allow the sexes to mix but allowed African-Nova Scotians and Mi’kmaq to under one roof with white people.

The original Annapolis County poor house. Later a wooden poor house was build in front of this building for the exclusive use of white people. while African Nova Scotians resided in the brick building.

There were a fair amount of African-Nova Scotians in the area of Annapolis Royal and Bridgetown going back to the arrival of the Loyalists in 1783.

Many of the white Loyalist brought enslaved Africans, while others were fugitive slaves who ran away from their rebel masters and were referred to as “Free Negroes.”

Others were members of the regiment of the Black Pioneers. Thomas Peters was one of the Black Pioneers and a leader of Brinley Town, the Black settlement outside of the new town of Digby in 1784.

Those African Nova Scotians who did not join the exodus to Sierra Leone in 1792 fought for equal rights, for respect, for work, and for equal pay. Their descendants continue to struggle to this day for these very same things.

The poor house on Church Road outside of Bridgetown buried its poor in unmarked graves. Segregation was not an issue when it came to burials, Like most poor houses, the Bridgetown Poor House did not record its dead until approximately 100 years ago.

Recently, I was given a list of the known African Nova Scotians who are buried in the potters field of the Bridgetown poor house. The following list is just the ones we know of. Reading the children’s names breaks my heart.

Derby Bailey, d. 18 October 1912, 40 years of age

Katherine Pomp, d. 4 February 1908, 94 years of age

Margaret Simms, d. 19 October 1910, 86 years of age

Lucy Mitchell, d. 20 October, 88 years of age

Thomas Francis, d. 28 November 1910, 34 years of age

Benjamin Francis, d. 22 Jan 1911, 6 weeks old, at Ward 11

Alice Stephenson, d. 28 May 1913, 2 years of age

Edward Owens, d. 11 September 1913, 2 mos.

Joshua Sims, d. 24 February 1914, 63 years of age

James Johnson, d. 28 April 1914, 83 years of age

Thomas Jackson, d. 4 Aug. 1914, 3 years of age

Silas Jackson, d. 2 Dec. 1914, 2 months of age

Paddy Mitchell, d. 13 Dec. 1914, 85 years of age

Ruby Evelyn E. Jackson, d. 28 May 1915, 1 month, 27 days of age

Cyril Jackson, d. 27 Dec. 1915, 2 weeks, 1 day of age

Letitia Camps, d. 20 Jan 1917, 60 years old of age

Emma Godfrey, d. 26 April 1919, 90 years of age

Henry Cuff, d. 2 June 1919, 73 years of age

Alexander Jackson, d. 7 August 1920, 94 years of age

Mary Parker, d. 20 August 1921, 80 years of age

Margaret Johnson, d. 23 November 1921, 86 years of Age

Henry Sims, d. 30 November 1922, 77 years, 6 mos, 27 days

Fred Jarvis, d. 16 Dec. 1922, 1 year of age

Mary Stephenson, d. 11 March 1925, 42 years of age

Lavinia Cuff, d. 25 Dec. 1926, 88 years of age

Jennie B. Owens, d. 31 December 1927, 24 years of age

Albert Mitchell, d. 15 August. 1928, 56 years of age

Elsie Owens, d. 12 March 1930, 6 mos.

James Owens, d. 17 Aug. 1930, 1 yr. 6 mos. 15 days

William Bailey, d. 12 Aug 1932, aged 80 years

Dorothy Owen, d. 10 Jan 1934 at Ward 11, 3 mos. 28 days

Ethel Elizabeth Simms, d. 23 March 1934, 13 days

Eleazar Marsman, d. 18 Sept. 1934, age 69

Irving Crosby, d. 28 July 1935, age 83

James Henry Owens, d. 12 Nov. 1936, age 87

Naamon Owens, d. 15 July 1938 Ward 11, aged 44 years

Harold Stevenson, d. 21 May 1940 Ward 11, 4 mos. 29 days

Percy Jackson, d. 5 May, 1941 in Inglewood, 59 years of age

John Henry Jackson, d. 9 December 1941 in Bridgetown, aged 69 yr 2 mos

Lillian Golden May Bell, d. 9 Nov 1944 in Boston, 73 years of age, Buried at the county home

Curtis Bailey, d. 8 Sept 1950, 65 years of age

Brenda Thompson is the author of the recently released A wholesome Horror, Poor Houses in Nova Scotia. ISBN 978-0-9868733-5-5. Available at a few selected bookstores, public libraries, through the author, and through the publisher. (Also online, through Amazon and Chapters, but hopefully you will find a better way)  

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