Annapolis Heritage Society | Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

The Henderson family of Annapolis Royal

by Donna Lee Butler, genealogist, Clan Henderson Society of Canada

Andrew Henderson

In the spring of 1818, Andrew Henderson, his pregnant wife Susanna Slack and their two year old son George landed in Saint John, New Brunswick. A short week later, Andrew buried his newborn son in the Loyalist Burial Grounds in Saint John. For the next two years he worked in various capacities in the communities along the Saint John River. During this time the family grew to include a daughter, Susan Ann.

In the autumn of 1820, he was invited to come to Clarence, Annapolis County, to teach. Six years later he moved to Bridgetown where he continued to work as a teacher. He was also instrumental in building the local Methodist congregation as a Sunday School teacher. During this time the family grew to include Eliza; Merribah, who died an infant; and William Kerr.

About 1830 the family moved to Annapolis Royal. Andrew was not enamoured of the curriculum being taught in the schools here, so he opened his own, Albion Vale, on the present golf course property. Today, if you look closely at the hole nearest the Dugway Road, you can see the imprint of the foundation of one of the school’s buildings. While here, the family added Thomas DeBrisay, Sarah Jane, Richard Williams, Rebecca, Fanny Lavinia, Mary Victoria and Martin Gay Black. His older children, George, Susan, Eliza and William, helped him teach at the school.

When Andrew gave up the school, he moved into Annapolis Royal and operated a store. He was involved in the community as a Post Master, Justice of the Peace and served on the Grand and Petite Juries. He continued to be very involved with the Methodist Church, acting as host to numerous circuit preachers.

His children married into several of the area’s families. George married Mary Ann Hardwick. Susan married George Hardwick and their family includes members of the Pickup family of Granville Ferry. Eliza married Thomas Holland of Wilmot, to whom were born seven children. William Kerr’s first wife was Sarah Ann Barteaux and they had two children, George Andrew, who became a Judge in Saint John, New Brunswick, and Sarah Annie. Kerr had four more children with his second wife, Jane Henderson of Saint John. Thomas DeBrisay married Fannie Louise Weldon of Dorchester, New Brunswick, and had a family of five. Sarah Jane married Robert Hannah. They had seven children. Mary Victoire married Dr. Alfred Dean Smith and had four children.

Andrew was a prolific writer, keeping a daily journal of events throughout his life. In one of his remaining journals he tells of reading every page of each journal, remembering the occasion, and then carefully burning them. Fortunately for us, some twenty-six journals remain in the family with his great-great-grandson, Rev. George MacLean of Pleasantville, near Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. Andrew kept a daily record of his health, his family, activities in and about Annapolis, and an account of the Church happenings. From his journals we glean genealogical information on his own family and other members of the community. Thanks to these journals we can step back into the years 1850 to 1868 and envision Andrew Henderson’s daily life in Annapolis Royal. Copies of these journals are kept at the AHS Genealogical Centre in the O’Dell House Museum.