The First White Child Born in New Germany
Written by John George Feindl
Born in 1806
“I was the first white child born in New Germany and will be 90 years old if I live until Jan. 5, 1896. When I was a boy there were no roads in this part of the country. I saw John Pernette survey the first lines. We had to meet many difficulties. Our house was a very poor one, covered with hemlock bark, my father built a saw-mill where James Feindl lives. We took grain to Kaulback’s mill, at Northwest, and went in by Silverman’s Corner, and on to the mill, where Kaulback sent us rations to eat. We took a day to go, arriving about sunset, and one to return. The grain was ground at night. I once took about 4 bushels of rye on the horse’s back, and at Birch Hill, back of Riversdale (Pinehurst) the bags fell off. I brought the horse alongside a tall stump and rolled the bags up it and on to its back. There was no road for a wagon and there was not a carriage in this part of the country. Our comforts were few. I made a meal of potatoes and salt and potatoes and milk. We had woods tea, and some make of garden herbs. My mother once bought a pound of shop tea for a dollar and put it in her trunk and got it out when company (friends) came along. I wore shirts and trousers made of tow, weaving as generally done plain with one thread, now it is twilled with two threads. I had shoes made of rawhide, we used to walk to Bridgewater by a rough path full of stumps and stones. We went to church in Lunenburg, reaching Bridgewater Saturday evening. My father and mother brought things out to the foot of Wentzell’s Lake, my mother walked along the shore with a tow rope. We used to take people up the New Germany Lake and land them on the other side before there was a road. When I was a boy I took a half bushel of potatoes on my back a mile and planted them in the burnt land and dug thirteen bushels. In early days wheat grew well. I sowed a bushel and half and raised thirty-three bushels. The next spring I sowed three bushels and raised 83 bushels. You can’t get such crops now. The woods were full of wild animals. I have killed 20 moose, the first one when I was 15 years old. I have seen 24 caribou in one flock. One day a gang of seven or eight men went after a moose. I saw him near Lewis Arenburg and was setting the dog at him when he made for me. I got on a tree that was partly broken off, my brother Michael came along with an axe and the moose was disabled. Arenburg, Michael and myself sat on him and when the men came who started him, I asked them where he was, as they did not see him till we got up. There was plenty of fine timber and every man could cut it where he liked. I have been married twice, and am the father of 13 children, ten of whom are living. I have enjoyed good health through life but my hearing is not now as it used to be.”
This story is taken from a scrapbook owned by Mrs. Mabel Powers and was written in 1895.
John Adam's statement made when he was 89 years old in which he describes the arrival of him an his father in New Germany; their hardships and pleasures; and the early days and incidents that occurred in New Germany, Bridgewater and Lunenburg. This statement was given at Bridgewater Feb 1889. (Note: Certain notations are added for reader clarification)
" I was born near Bridgewater 19 Mar 1800 - - - will be 89 next month. My father was John Feindel, my grandfather was George; came from Germany in 1752 . . . . .I was 4 years old when I came to New Germany with my father. The road was rough. He wrapped me in a blanket and took me on horseback. We had to ford the river by James Mossman's, Riverdale. (Now 1961, Pinehurst) where the railroad bridge is now. The horse struck a rock and threw us into the water. My father moved to where Ephraim Feindel now lives by the lake. . . . he dug a trench or hole in the side of the hill and covered it with spruce boughs and birch bark. Poles were put down for a floor and those covered with ground. When they moved about the earth would fall through. The lower floor was made of poles. Sometimes they split them. They had no boards. William Woodworth moved there a few days later near my father. We lived there a spell and got out of provisions and had nothing to eat for three days but fish, caught in the lake and some milk. The fish were caught with hooks made from pins. They were perch and trout. The Indians (Solnows, Jeremies & others) used to dip salmon - sometimes as many as eighty a day at Indians Falls. Lohnes and my father once put a net in an eddy under the falls. It sank and they did not find it till the water fell away in the summer. Bones of salmon were left in the meshes. Salmon would try to jump the falls, would strike the rocks and fall down helpless, and then come to again. In dipping, three salmon would often be got at once. Alewives would get up to the falls and people would dip them in large quantities. they were taken by oxen teams to Lunenburg and other places.
In planting potatoes the Indians used a manure shad & alewives which they could not eat. The meadow gave hay for the cattle. This induced people to move in. My father used to winter cattle at Bridgewater. He turned the cattle out the last of March and they made their own living in the woods. We had to go sometimes to Lunenburg to church and would get to LaHave (now 1961, Upper LaHave) on Saturday and to town on Sunday morning. Parson Cochran used to preach at New Germany sometimes in Joseph Norton's barn near Barss Corner and at other times in John Feindel's barn. He used to come in snow storms and often stopped all night at my house. Once he was much hurt from a fall from his horse stumbling. After many years a church was built. Bishop Inglis consecrated it. Great crowds were there."
(Note: The following is from Debrisay's History, Page 374) - "Mrs. Michael Wile in the year at 87 states that she lived at Summerside (now 1961-Dayspring) saw a woman from New Germany going to Lunenburg on horseback, dressed in a petticoat and bedgown. She was Mrs. John Feindel, mother of John Adam Feindel. She used to go that way alone to Lunenburg. Thomas Penny went to New Germany a year or two after us. he was a very large and strong man and would carry a bushel and a half of potatoes on his back from Bridgewater to his home. It was a good while before there were wagon roads. We had to take butter in a basket to Lunenburg, our closest market for many years men and women wore homespun clothes. My mother spun flax and wool and I carded it with hand cards. my wife wore one in Bridgewater. An officer from Halifax heard that a woman there had such a handsome dress on; he saw it; admired it much. It was of different colors and looked fanciful and well. Father took us to olf Mr. Henry Cook's and he was kind to me. He asked me if I would make him a wooden hat. I stripped yellow birch with a jacknife and braided it for a hat. My mother sewed it. I took it down to Mr. Cook and he put it on; looked in the glass and told Mrs. Cook to pay me.
A bear came out and killed one of Mr. Cook's lambs and my father said I could make a trap. I built it with stakes and weight. Mr. Cook said; "How many ways did you leave for him, son?" I said: "two." because I had built it with two doors so the bear could go in either way. One was caught and Mr. Cook sent a paw and a piece of meat to show that the trap had succeeded.
I cut from 20 to 30 tons of hay and kept from 14 to 20 heads of cattle; two yokes of oxen; 3 horses. We made butter and cheese in large quantities. A man came once from Liverpool for cheese and bought eight sweet and good. I did the shoemaking and wove plenty of homespun. I made 9 dollars in cash with a hand loom in the winter, working for different people. I got sixpence a yard for weaving.
It was a long time before stoves were used. We had big fireplaces and used to pack logs in one to heat the whole room. LaHave bridge was long after we moved to New Germany. I can remember when there was no street in Bridgewater - only a path through the bushed. Melchior Broom, who was frozen to death in the woods, had a store where old Mr. Newcombe afterwards lived. He had no goods for sale but used to keep what the "coasters" brought for people till they could haul them away. I can remember when there was no single building of any kind where Bridgewater is. James Nicholson came over here and built one of the first houses - the one Mr. Haley had afterwards.
In those times people used a great deal of rum and it killed lots of them as it had done in other places. I saw a man killed in Lunenburg for rum. he was a Niforth, clerk of the militia. A Conrad killed him. They were drinking all night and at daylight came to blows. Niforth was from Kinsborough; he died in an hour after he was struck. Conrad's brother told him to strike Niforth under, and in doing so the blow killed him. When the militia were drilling at Lunenburg many used to stay all night in the taverns. You could find few people who didn't drink. There was so much drinking in New Germany as outside it. What affected the brain injured the system.
When I was 14 I went partridge hunting after a light fall of snow. I found a moose lying down. I put in a bullet I had and killed him. He weighed about 400 pounds. We had moose meat instead of partridge. Flintlocks were used then altogether.
I went with a waterman who was making ton lumber with my father to be rafted to Bridgewater. I saw a caribou - twelve in the first lot, and, a half hour later, six more all travelling on the ice down the New Germany Lake - just walking in the middle of it. They went into the woods - -a pretty sight. it was a good show.
One day when the ice was quite smooth we saw a large otter and a wildcat. The dogs went after the wildcat and killed him. A neighbor's dog (Carver's) went into the woods and brought out the otter on the same track it went in on and the dog killed it on the ice. The wildcat had broken its teeth on a steel trap I had set. It was a very exciting time. They were about 20 yards apart. The wildcat seemed to be going down and the otter up the lake. The wildcat was large. The otter brought 15 shillings. We used to catch lots of bears, moose, otter, wildcats, and other animals."
(Note: Following the above statement of John Adam Feindel, DeBrisay's history, Page 371 states that Mr. Feindel died at the residence of his son, Ariel Feindel of Bridgewater on 10 Jan 1891 in his 91st year and on the 20th anniversary of the death of his wife.)
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