Friday, 27 June 2014

Coloured Meeting House Road

On Tuesday, June 24, one of the viewers of the Dartmouth History Blog, Darrell, asked for more information on "Colored Meeting House Road" (which I had mentioned was an earlier name for today's Crichton Avenue).
 
You mention that part of Crichton was called "Colored Meeting House Road."
-can you say more about this intriguing name?

Yes, here is the promised blog post on Colored Meeting House Road and the small Black community known as The Avenue (at the end of Crichton Avenue). As usual, John Martin's Story of Dartmouth provides a starting point for exploring this Dartmouth history question (it was from his book that I learned Crichton Avenue had this earlier name). However, I have found two other resources that have opened up a whole new interesting research 'avenue' (pardon the pun). Firstly, I was looking at maps of Dartmouth a few years ago, at the Nova Scotia Archives, when I found a 1908 depiction of the city that showed a 'Black Settlement' at the end of Crichton Avenue (here is an 1886 map showing the 'Black Settlement': http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b53029049m/f1.item.r=halifax.langEN) .
I was very intrigued by this and started looking around on the internet for related information. Luckily, I found that a whole thesis had been written on this very community!  Even better, it is available to the public online thanks to Dalhousie University and Library Archives Canada:
http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk2/tape15/PQDD_0012/MQ36526.pdf

Survival of an African Nova Scotian Community: Up The Avenue, Revisited was written by Adrienne Lucas Sehatzadeh in 1998 for her MA at Dalhousie University, Halifax. The thesis is a socio-historical investigation of the Dartmouth neighbourhood in which the author was raised. She applies a modern (mid-nineties) analytical approach to the study of the concept of 'community' in the context of a small, geographically peripheral Black enclave at the end of Crichton Avenue. Fortunately, her work also serves as a lasting record of vibrant memories of The Avenue  that were at high risk of vanishing forever (the community itself has been nearly entirely swallowed up by processes of 'development' and 'gentrification'). You really need to read this thesis!


PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU HAVE STORIES/PHOTOS/MAPS/PLANS OF THE AVENUE. THANK YOU!



"Outdoor Baptism, 1st Lake (Lake Banook), Dartmouth" (Courtesy: Nova Scotia Archives).  http://www.novascotia.ca/nsarm/virtual/africanns/archives.asp?ID=149
From the above web page: Photograph shows the congregation of Dartmouth Lake Church (now Victoria Road United Baptist Church). The church, also known in its early days as the African meeting house, was founded in 1844. Until 1906 the church was located at the corner of what is now Crichton Ave. and Micmac Blvd.

 
"In 1894 the first street signs were put up, and certain changes made in street names. . . .Colored Meeting Road was changed to Crichton Avenue" (Story of Dartmouth: 452). From my earlier piece of street name origins:
Crichton Avenue (entire length): Ochterloney Street and, before that, Gates' Road and Colored Meeting House Road. Crichton Avenue is named after the Crichton family but why is there a Creighton spelling and  a Crichton spelling? I have found the answer on page 117 of The Story of Dartmouth: "A son born in 1810 in James Creighton's home at former Fort Grenadier, Jacob St., Halifax, to James Crichton, R.N. and Mary Creighton, must have so pleased the latter's father that he deeded 200 acres of Dartmouth land, described on page 94, in trust for this grandchild. Hence Crichton Avenue. Old Mr. Creighton died in 1813 in his 81st year. He had been associated with Dartmouth over 40 years."
In 1885, according to John Martin, page 421, Story of Dartmouth: "On the Colored Meeting-House Road there died Mrs. Rebecca Cassidy, who had reached her 115th year. She was the widow of Louis Cassidy and had been born a slave in the Southern States". Having subtracted 115 from 1885, my calculator tells me that Mrs. Cassidy would have been born around 1770!

From pages 32-33 (Victoria Baptist Church - United Baptist Churches) of The Mustard Seeds: The Journey of Dartmouth Churches (Harry Chapman, editor; The Dartmouth Historical Association, 1999):
Victoria Road United Baptist Church began in 1844 as the Dartmouth Lake Church (sometimes called Lake Road Church). Like so many other churches of the African United Baptist Association, it was organized by Rev. Richard Preston, a liberated slave from Virginia.
The original church was located at the intersection of Crichton Avenue and Micmac Boulevard. In fact, before being renamed Crichton Avenue, the street was known as Coloured Meeting House Road. At its founding the church had a deacon and 20 members.
After the death of Rev. Preston in 1861, the church became one of the many pastorates of Rev. James Thomas. It suffered from a dwindling membership during the latter part of the nineteenth century due to its distance from the centre of town and the increasing exodus of black people from the area. Association records of 1874 list no delegates from Dartmouth that year; the church membership totaled only five people.
. . .

The church had no pastor between 1893 and 1895, when Rev. James Borden began his years of service. Rev. Borden was a son of Dartmouth and had rendered service as a licentiate prior to his ordination. His ministry in Dartmouth was very successful; it appears his congregation was quite large. In 1905 some 90 persons were baptized on two separate occasions.
In 1906 Christ Church offered the congregation its old Sunday school building. It was accepted. The congregation moved the building to its present site and became known as the Victoria Road United Baptist Church.
These years also witnessed the last burial in the graveyard near the old church on Crichton Avenue. This was apparently Issac Smith, who was interred sometime between 1917 and 1920. Much later, the Crichton Avenue graves were moved to Christ Church Cemetery, one side of which runs along Victoria Road opposite Victoria Road Baptist Church.

Victoria Road United Baptist Church, Victoria Road, Dartmouth. Photographed by David Jones, July 1, 2014.

Victoria Road United Baptist Church, Victoria Road, Dartmouth. Photographed by David Jones, July 1, 2014.

Victoria Road United Baptist Church, Victoria Road, Dartmouth. Photographed by David Jones, July 1, 2014.

Victoria Road United Baptist Church, Victoria Road, Dartmouth. Photographed by David Jones, July 1, 2014.
Plaque from inside Victoria Road Baptist Church:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF EARLY BLACK FATHERS WHO SETTLED AT DARTMOUTH LAKE ROAD 1814, (NOW CRICHTON AVENUE) AND WHOSE ABANDONED GRAVES WERE EXHUMED AUGUST 1976, AND MOVED TO CHRIST CHURCH CEMETERY. REMEMBERED INCLUDE: MARTHA TYNES, GEORGE TYNES, ELIZABETH TYNES, JAMES RILEY AND ISSAC SMITH. DEDICATED DECEMBER 7, 1977

AGAIN, PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU HAVE STORIES/PHOTOS/MAPS/PLANS OF THE AVENUE. THANK YOU!

2 comments :

  1. 1896 or thereabouts, McAlpine directory of Dartmouth found at Aldernay Landing Library, refers to Lake Road area as TYNESVILLE...descendants of Robert and Ellen Tynes, the first Tynes I can track to my husband's family. Martha was their daughter-in-law and so was Elizabeth nee Williams Tynes married to George Tynes. Sure would like to talk to you...don't know how to do that.

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  2. This is simply wonderful. Thanks for the details. Everyday new Black histories are uncovered. The half has not been told.

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