Saturday, August 3, 2013

War of 1812 Powderhouse & an old grave near Parrsboro, Nova Scotia

On July 19, 2010 the kids and I were near Parrsboro, Nova Scotia  looking for the Fundy Geological Museum to pay a quick visit before watching the tides come in.  Along the way to getting lost we passed by Ottawa House another museum (and former summer house of Sir Charles Tupper) and decided to visit it instead.  I turned down a dirt road and was about to circle back around when we saw these painted footprints on the road.  We followed them and they led to a cairn on the side of the road. Much to my son Patrick's despair, I pulled over and we got out to have a look.  The inscription on the monument read: "This building believed to have been built as a powder magazine during the War of 1812 was later used as a school house for many years." We looked around but couldn't find any traces of the building or foundation. 

About 4-5 metres behind the monument, a tombstone caught my eye.  The memorial read: Sacred to the  Memory of James N. Shannon, Esq who departed this life on the 7th of November 1822 in the 72nd years of his age.  There were no other gravestones nearby.

James was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Sept 1751 to Cutts Shannon (a lawyer) and Mary Vaughan (born 26 Apr 1713 & daughter of Lt Governor George Vaughan(21)).  He was named after his uncle (by marriage) James Noble of Boston. James Noble Shannon was raised and educated in Boston.  As an adult James went into the lumber business in Machias, Maine.(14)
I found the following information about James while he was in Machias:
  •  The Massachusetts Assembly of July, 1776, lent 1200 pounds to the  inhabitants of eastern part of the County of Lincoln from Camden to Machias.  This money was to be distributed equally by James Noble Shannon, John Taylor, and William Jones. It appears that these men were able to deliver 1006 pounds 13s 8d, but could not deliver the rest.  James was ordered to return the remaining money to the Treasurer of the colony who would then charge Major Minot with distributimg the remaining amount to the outstanding settlements in the county. The money was used to purchase ammunition to defend the settlements. (5)
  • In the Journal of the Massachusetts House of Representative, Feb 1776, James Noble Shannon and Benjamin Foster petitioned on behalf of the Committee for the Safety of Machias that the court authorize "some persons to take charge of a number of armed vessels which were taken from the enemies the summer past." These men also petitioned successfully (representing Capt John Coulson) for 1500 weight of powder and that Ebenezer Beal who was wounded in the taking of the Schooner Margaretta on 12th June 1775 be received into a hospital.(6)
  • He was a Private in Capt. Joseph Seavy's company(7) with:
    •  Colonel Benjamin Foster's regiment (service, 1 day). The company served at Machias from Dec. 5, 1778  to Dec. 25, 1778;
    •  Lieut. John Scott's detachment from 6th Lincoln Co. (service 8 days). Te regiment was at Machias between Aug. 31, 1779, and Nov. 20, 1779, the roll was sworn to at Machias and endorsed " Service at Penobscot."
  • Lived with his brother William in Machias for a few years during the Revolutionary War and "subscribed 6 for Parson Lyon's salary 1778, committee of correspondence 1781." (8)
  • Samuel Rich sold land in Machias to the brothers for £8 on 9 May 1775(17)
  • John Berry sold land in Machias to the brothers on 13 October 1777 for £8. (18)
  • John Young sold to brothers, trader land on the northeast side of Quaker's or Gardner's Lake on         Feb 15 1777 for  £63, 6s. 8d. (19)  John Young also sold land to Benjamin Foster Jr. (9)
  • In consideration of "sixty-three p'd six and eight-pence" conveyed to Benjamin Gooch, Jr, of Machias, yeoman, "a certain Lot of Land lying and being in Machias aforesaid, it being a piece of Land whereon the said Benjamin Gooch, Junr now liveth, it being about two Acres more or less, it lying in Eastern River, it joins the lower Saw Mill on the said Eastern River, and joins the said Benjamin Gooche's Land with a dwelling House and a Barn and a shop on the said Land, it being a Lot of Land that the said William and James Noble Shannon bought of Stephen Young(20)
  • On 18 Sep 1788. James, now a merchant in Horton, Nova Scotia and William in Dover, NH, sold land on East River, Machias, for £30.(16)
  • He was a mason in Lodge Warren #2 (10)
James married Chloe (born Sept 24 1745) on 14 May 1778 in Machias, reverend James Lyon presided.(15) Chloe was the daughter of Silas Crane and Lucy Waterman. At some point shortly thereafter, Chloe and James went to Horton, Nova Scotia. In 1780, his store was robbed by a lieutenant of Machias privateer.  The unnamed Machias lieutenant and two of his 7 men were killed by Lieutenant Wheaton and 5 of his Regulars.  The remaining 5 thieves were taken prisoner. (12)

James Noble Shannon become one of the first permanent residents of Partridge Island (now Parrsboro) and the first merchant.(1)  James was also one of the earliest known owners of the Ottawa House, then referred to as the Old Shannon Store.(2)

In 1786, James Shannon and Col. Jonathan Crane donated $200 to build a church at Horton.  According to the History of King's County nova Scotia, James and his wife Chloe first lived in Horton and then spent the rest of their lives in Parrsborough.  It also goes on to say that Chloe is the older sister of Col Jonathan Crane and that the compiler of the information of this book will never forget the parental kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Shannon when he did the Parrsbourgh circuit when he was 17 years old.(11)

On June 18, 1796 there was an assembly in Parrsborough to contribute to the King's government in support of the war (against Napoleon).  James "subscribed" to this cause. (11)

Around 1798, James "adopted" the second son of his still living sister Elizabeth and her husband Richard Cutts.  The boy born in 1788 was named James Noble Shannon after his uncle.  James Sr, who had no children of his own, took James Jr in to teach him the mercantile business (which James Jr became very successful and prominent in).3)

In 1807, Chloe Shannon, relict of Obadiah Ayer, as a "refugee of Canada and Nova Scotia" was granted 960 acres of land by the American Government for her loyalty to the American cause.(4)

In 1814, James was granted land in Parrsborough with his brother-in-law Silas H Crane and built a very successful business with his partner James Ratchford.(13)

As it always happens when you research one person, it leads to interesting stories about another person.  After poking around for awhile I found very little about Chloe, but when I did, it seems she had a tragic adult life before meeting James.

Chloe was married twice before James. First to a man with the last name of Connover with whom she had one son, Samuel and then to Obediah Ayer who she met in Machias shortly after her husband's death.  Both husbands were strong supporters of the American government. In 1776, under the command of Colonel Eddy, Obediah took part in the capture of the British garrison at Fort Cumberland and was given command of a sloop called Defiance, which carried British prisoners to Boston in November.  During the voyage he was wounded in the face and during his ride from Newbury to Boston, his face froze.  He suffered from Feb -Aug 1777 in Boston before he died and apparently rang up $1000 in medical expenses. For his troubles, the British seized his property and destroyed his papers, leaving Chloe destitute.  While all this is happening, her son Samuel while travelling in a birch bark canoe with Mathew Sharp from Cumberland to Machias was attacked by Nova Scotia Indians.  Sharp is shot in the head and killed in the canoe.  Samuel, then 14 was killed while asleep in a wigwam.(16)

(4) American State Paper: Documents, legislative and executive of the congress of the United States 10th Congress First Session #142 1807, pg 585
(5) American Archives page 324
(6) pg 1131
(7)Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War
(11) , (12), (13) The History of King's County Nova Scotia page 325, 328, 120-121
(14) & (16)
(17)& (18) & (19) & (20)
(21) The New England Historical and Genealogical Register page 245
Other interesting resources:


  1. I am interested where you found the info about Matthew Sharp and Samuel were travelling by canoe and were attacked by Indians? This is off great interest to me as I am trying to identify the four Sharps listed in the "Siege of Fort Cumberland 1776" by Ernest Clarke. Any info you have would be great!

  2. Hi Brett,
    I found the information in the following link: I just noticed that I called out (16) twice in the section where I cited the sources so I've removed the incorrect one!

  3. The Matthew Sharp you casually mentioned may very well be my fifth great grandfather, so this was a priceless clue to me. I've only had his death as "before 1785" so I'll certainly look into this. Thanks so much!

    In genealogy, you never know when one little sentence will help someone out, so thanks for taking the time to put this information on line.

  4. As I read your very interesting item, I was a bit confused by your reference to the kindness of the Shannons to the "compiler of this book." I thought almost certainly, the Shannons referred to by AWH Eaton in his History of Kings County could not be James Noble and his wife. Eaton was born in 1849 and, as you noted, JNS died in 1822. My first thought was that it might be JNS 2nd (the nephew) and his second wife, Seraphina Willoughby (a cousin of both Eaton and myself), but they died in the mid-1850s. Finally I referred back to the History and found that Eaton was quoting the Reverend Dr. Matthew Richey, and early Methodist minister. Your item regretfully does not make that very clear. BTW, you refer to the family connections between the Cranes and Shannons - the intermarriage of these merchant families is much more widespread in those generations, with multiple marriages among Shannons, Allisons, Cranes, Willoughbys, Starrs, Eatons, and others.