The History of Long and Brier Islands

History Books: Wilson /Greenwood

by | Sep 26, 2021 | Brier Island, Freeport, Long Island | 0 comments

Isaiah W. Wilson

March 1848-October 1928

Beginning in 1867, author Isaiah Wilson travelled throughout western Nova Scotia selling an almanac. And you ask what is an Almanac? An almanac is an annual publication that includes information such as weather forecasts, farmers’ planting dates, tide tables, and information in a particular field or fields often arranged according to the calendar etc. Astronomical data and various statistics are also found in almanacs, such as the times of the rising and setting of the sun and moon, eclipses, hours of full tide, stated festivals of churches, terms of courts, lists of all types, timelines, and more. This information was very beneficial to our way of life.

While on his rounds he collected detailed histories of the communities and families on his route. This 1900 book focuses on his research in the County of Digby. This book records the history of the county of Digby, Nova Scotia from prior to European settlement until 1900. The following is from the author’s Preface: “The author, after most exhaustive researches, beginning with February 1, 1867, and extending at intervals over the period of twenty-six years since elapsed, has succeeded in collecting material for a history of his native county. This valuable and interesting matter is presented to the public, hoping it will be acceptable and satisfactory. Much care and discretion has been used to render the following pages correct and full as circumstances permitted. While more important documents are copied verbatim, the unvarnished substance is usually given, because more generally in keeping with views of our people, since the Ancient Records contain many lengthy repetitions in the form of preambles. From these authentic sources combined, a fair and productive area is traced from the primeval wilderness, through the various stages of development, otherwise hopelessly lost, to our own time [1900] when we behold a rapidly growing and prosperous Commonwealth which we all happily share and enjoy.”

As I said in the beginning of this blog Mr. Wilson travelled throughout this county, time after time walking and carrying these almanac books. He got to know most all the people in this county so the people would open up to Isaiah and allow him to collect this information. If Mr. Wilson hadn’t collected this information at that time, a lot of it would have been lost as there was no one else collecting the information at that time. For this we are very grateful.

He collected this information and wrote it too, being handicapped. He had very poor eye sight, only being able to see with the aid of eye drops. I don’t know what challenged him to collect and write this history, it must have been a strong challenge as he did this under extreme difficulties.

Now all I have done to collect and write some history of our Islands is to sit here in my chair and collect the information from Isaiah W. Wilson’s book “A Geography and History of the County of Digby”. Nothing like what Mr. Wilson had to do.   

He started gathering information for his book on February 1st 1867 and had it ready for print on November 2nd 1900. It was a 486-page book that he asked $1.50 per copy. The book has been recopied a couple of times, the copy that I have has 471 pages. It was published by Admiral Digby Library and Historical society & Admiral Digby Museum 1999.

Original 1900

Reprint 1999

Source: Digby Courier Nov. 2nd 1900

Death of Isaiah W. Wilson

Source: Digby Courier; Oct. 12th 1928

Rev. Walter R. Greenwood M. A. Th.D.

Pastor in Freeport Bapt. Church

(Dec. 1928-Sept. 1930) (Dec.1933-Jan 1935) 

On December 1st 1933 Rev. Walter R. Greenwood returned to Freeport to be our pastor once again. Early in 1934 Dr. Greenwood and some others started gathering historical information of first settlers to Freeport. They were preparing to put on a celebration of the Church and the one hundredth and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of Freeport. They even made costumes replicating what the early settlers wore. A lot of effort went into this.

Digby Courier; July 6th 1934

On August 1st they started their week of Celebration.

The Tiny Tattler, August 4, 1934

Digby Courier; Aug. 17th 1934

The History of Freeport

Nova Scotia



Rev. Walter R. Greenwood

M. A., Th. D.

October 1st, 1934, Freeport, N. S.

They finished their celebration of Freeport with writing of this small book in October  “The History of Freeport”. It is 5 ½ inch. X 8 ½ inch, and has 46 pages not counting a pull-out map of Long Island dated November 8th 1787. And had it published October 1st 1934.

The first 27 pages contain history that only some of the very old Freeporters would know and some was researched from “A Geography and History of the County of Digby” by Isaiah W. Wilson. The remaining 19 pages come from church records. It is in a number 8 font.

The only thing that I have had an issue with is with a shipwreck that was mentioned in this book. It mentions that a schooner called the “Cumberland” wrecked at Browns Knoll (right behind my home). There were two crews onboard and all had perished. I have been researching shipwrecks for over ten years now and have not come across this wreck. But maybe tomorrow I will.

This book was reprinted in 1986 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the erection of the current church building.

This book has a lot of information for the size of it. Every time I read this book I am always finding something new. Without this book we would be missing a lot of our history. Thank you to Dr. Walter R. Greenwood and all that helped to write this history.


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