Yankee Harbour Village

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Yankee Harbour - 1929-30, drawn by Clara Rhynold

Historical notes on Yankee Harbour by Peggy Feltmate


Clara Rhynold has kindly shared her sketch of Yankee Harbour as she remembers it when she went there as a very young teacher, Clara Maud Jones, in 1929. Her sketch aroused my curiosity and has prompted me to put together some history and genealogical notes. Others may be able to add to this, or make corrections, and I encourage you to do so. Clara's original sketch is quite large and covers a good portion of her kitchen table. Her daughter Donna scanned it for me onto letter size paper. When it was reduced, some of Clara's lettering was too small to read, so in those places I have rewritten the labels for legibility. Otherwise this is exactly as Clara drew it. I think my favorite parts are the little boats tied to the end of each wharf.
            Clara was born in North Ogden, NS, one of ten children. She is the daughter of John J. Jones and Martha Ann Munroe. Martha Ann was the daughter of Yankee Harbour residents George David and Emmeline (Greencorn) Munroe. Thus Clara was coming to teach in the village where her grandparents lived.
            The village of Yankee Harbour was on the east side of White Head Harbour, near the mouth of the harbour, and was often referred to as Yankee Cove. None of the original buildings are left there now, but Yankee Harbour is often used today as an anchorage for passing yachts. Recently a summer home has been built high on the crest of the hill back above "John Munroe's Lake". There is another lake back there called "Admiral Lake" on the Crown Grant Index Map (sheet # 113). On the old A.F.Church map dated 1876, the mapping makes it appear that John Munroe's Lake was Admiral Lake, but this is inaccurate. Clara's sketch also indicates that in her day, the two islands offshore were called Haley's and Anchor, and Arthur Peitzsch in his local history also refers to Anchor Island at Yankee Harbour. On more recent topographical maps, the islands are called Harbour and Yankee Island, respectively.
            Using Clara's sketch, I will first look at the people that were living in Yankee Harbour in 1929/1930, and then go back to earlier generations in the village:
            Starting from the left of Clara's sketch, we find Otto Munroe's home: Otto A. Munroe (1898-1987) was the son of George David Munroe and Emma Jane (Emmeline) Greencorn, and therefore was Clara's uncle. (You will see that Otto's father George lives over to the far right, and his sister Clarissa May "Clara" was married to Horace Peitzsch whose home is in the middle of the sketch.) Otto was married first to Janie Eliza Feltmate (the daughter of Allie Feltmate) and later to Effie Peart. My Uncle Carroll Feltmate once "read Effie's teacup", I was told - the formation of the tea leaves left in the bottom of the tea cup tells your future. I never heard of Uncle Carroll doing readings for anyone else!
            Next door to Otto is Allie Feltmate (1864-1939). He was Alfred M Feltmate, the son of Ann Feltmate Selff who was the youngest child of John F. Feltmate and Elizabeth Dieckhoff. (Ann's brother John Edward Feltmate had been a Yankee Harbour resident too). By Clara's time, Allie was close to 70. He had lived in Yankee Cove all his life and was likely born there. I was told that Allie "was a great singer of songs." He married Agnes Margaret Rhynold in 1883. Agnes herself had been born in Yankee Harbour, the daughter of William and Mary (Selff) Rhynold. In her own baptismal record she is called Agnes Rainold and in her and Allie's civil marriage record she is correctly called Rhynold, but in the baptismal records of her two sons and in her burial record her maiden name is given as Reynolds. This would seem to be a case of the parish priest in Port Felix being unfamiliar with the local name Rhynold. While the marriage license says the wedding was in Whitehead, church records say it was in Yankee Cove. They had two sons: one died in infancy and the 2nd, Billy Al, grew to adulthood. Agnes died in June 1887 and Allie remarried a year and a half later to Maggie Greencorn of Halfway Cove. My aunt remembered her as "Maggie Al, a kindly old lady." Maggie was a sister to Emma Jane (Emmeline) who already lived in Yankee Harbour, married to George David Munroe.
            Allie and Maggie had a daughter Janie (who married Otto A. Munroe mentioned above), and they also raised Mary Rhynold who later married Norman Rhynold and became the mother of Clara's future husband Fred Rhynold. Clara says the huge rock on the shore there was always called "Allie's Rock". Clara has indicated the lilac bush beside his home. A friend of mine spoke of going recently to Yankee Harbour to get a slip from the lilac bushes. The narrow run between Allie's home and the island is still known as "Allie's Run" today. More about Allie and Maggie later.
            Across the creek by footbridge, we come to Joe Feltmate's. Joe lived from 1874 to 1943 and was the son of James William Feltmate and Charlotte A. Munroe who had been long-time residents of Yankee Cove and were one of the original grantees there. According to the Guysborough Times (18 May 1911, Raspberry personals) Joe was captain of the coal schooner "Sea Lily". (Raspberry is a harbour along the coast from Yankee Harbour towards Little Dover. It too was once a thriving village, now gone.) In 1920, Joe was cook on the schooner "Genevieve" under master Matthew G. Munroe when it arrived in New York on July 18th from Port Dufferin (www.EllisIsland.com). Matthew Munroe was Joe's brother-in-law, married to Joe's sister Mary Princetta "Minnie" Feltmate. Joe himself was unmarried. Joe Feltmate's house was the original homestead of his parents, Jim and Charlotte. When Jim died in 1915, his will named Joe as resident of Yankee Harbour, and left his home to Joe and Joe's brother Pat. More on this later. Joe's mother Charlotte was the sister of George and Alex Munroe, whom you see living in homes at the far right of Clara's sketch.
            Above and below Joe's is Walter Feltmate's and Billy Sye Feltmate's.
            Walter Havelock Feltmate (1892-1934) and William S. "Billy Sye" Feltmate ((1890-1946) were brothers, the sons of Syrus Edward (sometimes spelled Siras or Cyrus) and Harriet (McPhee) Feltmate, and the grandsons of John Edward Feltmate. Walter married Hazel Oneta Munroe in 1915 and they raised two foster daughters, Lola Adela Feltmate and Helen Lea Munroe. Walter died at the young age of 41 of tuberculosis and is buried in the Yankee Harbour graveyard. After his death, Hazel kept house with her neighbour Joe Feltmate until Joe died 9 years later from cancer of the bowel. More about this family later.
            Billy Sye was so-called because he was the son of Syrus, whereas Billy from across the creek was "Billy Al" the son of Allie. Billy Sye wrote The Ballad of the Great Bllizzard of 1910. He served in the First World War. He died unmarried in 1946: his headstone says Corporal William Feltmate, CASC, CEF, 3rd Sept 1946. (Canadian Army Service Corps, Canadian Expeditionary Forces.)

            Clara has drawn in the paths between the homes too. Along the path from Joe Feltmate's we come to Lohnes Feltmate's. Lohnes's full name was Alfred Lohnes Feltmate (1882-1962) and he was another son of Sy and Harriet Feltmate, and very probably named after his cousin Allie who had lived in Syrus's household for a number of years before his marriage. In 1906 Lohnes married Estella "Stella" M. Conrad (a grandaughter of Moses Munroe, of whom more later). Lohnes' and Stella's boy Lohnes Smith was from Stella's previous marriage. (Lohnes Smith Feltmate died of tuberculosis at age 28 in 1931 and is buried in the Yankee Harbour graveyard). Stella was the daughter of Edward and Hannah Eliza [Munroe] Conrod (also spelled Conrad) who lived in Yankee Harbour and Stella said on her marriage license that she had been born in Yankee Harbour. Stella had 4 siblings. Clara has indicated "Lohnes' Well" which was right down on the beach and always gave sweet clear water. She says that many if not all of the villagers used it.
            Next door to Lohnes is Horace Peitzsche (known as Hause). His full name was Horace Wellington Peitzsche (1889-1984). Hause was the son of Joe and Sophia (Hendsbee) Peitzsche. Hause married in 1922 to Clarissa May "Clara" Munroe, (daughter of George D. and Emmeline [Greencorn] Munroe who you can see lived not far from them). This is the home where Clara boarded when she came to Yankee Harbour as a teacher; Clarissa was Clara's aunt. Hause and Clarissa had one daughter Bertha who later married Lawrence Currie Munroe. I must thank Bertha who, like Clara, shared her information and memories of Yankee Harbour with me. Bertha confirms that her family was the first to move from Yankee Harbour village to the mainland, to the village of  White Head, and they moved in 1941 when Bertha was 16.
            Down towards the water from Hause's is Hause's brother Billie Peitzsche (1880-1970) and his wife Margaret. Margaret had been born in Hants County, NS and had come to Yankee Harbour as a school teacher. She boarded at Albert and Leona (Peitzsch) Munroe's, and there met Billie who was Leona's brother. Billie and Margaret had two sons, Grant and Arthur. Arthur is well known in White Head for his knowledge of the history of the area, and I thank him for taking the time to write down his information for others to share. In the 1940s Billie and Margaret's house burned, so they moved into
Hause's house which had stood empty since Hause and family had moved to the mainland. Billie and Margaret did not move from Yankee Harbour until sometime after the birth of Arthur (he was born in summer 1947).
            Hause's and Billie's sister Leona (the only girl in the Peitzsche household of 10 boys) lived next door to them, married to Albert Cyril Munroe. Leona and Albert had 11 children and Leona lived to age 106. Their home was the last left standing in Yankee Harbour, and I remember it there in my childhood. It had a long-time reputation for being haunted (strange noises, blue lights in the cellar, particularly if the soil in the earthen cellar was disturbed). Leona and Albert and family moved from Yankee Harbour to the village of White Head in September 1947.
            Albert Cyril Munroe's father Alex Munroe lived up the brook towards the schoolhouse/church. His full name was Thomas Alexander Munroe (1861-1950) and he was the son of Moses Munroe and Margaret E "Peggy" Harrigan.  (Indeed, in the 1901 census, Moses age 82 is living with Alex). Alex married Letitia 'Lettie" Ellen Conrad in Cole Habour on Christmas Eve in 1884. Letitia & Alex kept the post office for Yankee Harbour from 1913 to 1938 and the office was in their home. They had 6 children. Letitia was the daughter of Michael and Mary Ann Conrod, and her sister Mary C. Conrod married another Yankee Harbour resident George A. Peitzsch (a son of William and Lydia [Feltmate] Peitzsch of whom more later) in June 1887.
             George Munroe was Alex's brother and lived just down the hill from Alex with his wife Emmeline (Greencorn) and their family. They will come up throughout this history. (You will see there is another footbridge across the brook beside George's home). The school house is nearby and Arthur Peitzsche tells us it was built in 1888 or 1889. Clara indicates that the building was used for church functions as well, and there are certainly records for weddings having taken place in Yankee Harbour/Yankee Cove. The last remaining house on Clara's sketch is that of  Jimmie Peitzsche (1844-1937). He was an uncle of Hause and Billie, and it looks like Clara has written "+ Joe" under Jimmie's name; We will discuss Jim and Joe shortly.
            Looking back at the earlier history of Yankee Harbour, the book "Place Names & Places of Nova Scotia", held at NSARM in Halifax says that in the 1760s, Yankee Harbour "was the only community on Whitehaven Harbour and at that time it consisted of several houses and wharves. Francis Selff received a grant in 1866 and James W Feltmate obtained a grant in 1877. These were the principal family names in the late 19th century."
            We do not have the names of the settlers of the 1760s. But we can get back quite a bit earlier than 1866. The names associated with Yankee Harbour in the early years were indeed Feltmate and Selff but also Peitzsch, and later these were joined by the Munroes.
            John Edward Feltmate, the father of the James W. mentioned in the book, was living in Yankee Harbour at least as early as 1845. His parents John F. and Elizabeth (Dieckhoff) Feltmate had moved from Half Island Cove on Chedabucto Bay down to the northwest arm of Whitehaven (White Head) Harbour in 1837 and his elder sister Betsy Feltmate had married a White Head man, Daniel Munroe, a few years before that. By 1837, John Edward was already 22 years old, but he does not appear separately on the 1838 census - so he must still have been in his father's household at the Northwest Arm. John Edward Feltmate married his wife Elizabeth in June 1841 and their first child Lydia Caroline Feltmate was born in March 1842 but her birthplace is not given. However, the next baby, John Henry Feltmate was born in 1845 in Yankee Harbour. It is fairly certain that the other children in the family were also born in Yankee Harbour and certainly four of his children (Lydia Caroline, John Henry, James William, and Cyrus Edward) continued to live in Yankee Harbour after their own marriages.
            At least two sources mention that the first homes at White Head Harbour were on the east side at Yankee Harbour rather than on the west "White Head Village" side. It would appear that the first Munroes in the area settled quite early in the 1800s around what is now White Head Village proper, quite a distance up the harbour, and only gradually did they move further southward along the Harbour's west shore. The first Feltmates in White Head as mentioned settled in 1837 along the upper northwest arm of the harbour (often called White Head River); the eldest son John Edward had moved to Yankee Harbour by 1845, but it was not until the 1850s that John Edward's younger brother James Herman and brother-in-law Adam Uloth began the land transactions that saw them eventually build homes in Lower Whitehead/Doliver's Cove, directly across the harbour from Yankee Harbour. It was not until 1868 that the Duncan family moved to Doliver's Cove from Shelburne County, and then the Grover family came from Cole Hrb. 
            The surname Selff is associated with early Yankee Harbour. Allie Feltmate whose home appears in Clara's sketch was the son of Ann Feltmate Selff. Allie's stepfather was Francis "Frank" Selff mentioned in the "Place Names" Book. Francis Selff was a Portuguese settler, a carpenter by trade, who was married to Delide Pelrine and later married Ann Feltmate in 1886 when he was about 73 and Ann was 54. I spoke with several old timers who recalled "hearing tell" of a fellow named Selff Feltmate who lived over at Yankee Harbour, but I have been unable to identify who this was. The Crown Grant maps indicate that Francis Selff's 1866 grant was a large tract of 200 acres in the area where Clara sketches Otto Munroe's and Allie Feltmate's homes. In August 1860 Francis and Delide's daughter Mary Selff married William Rhynold of Half Island Cove (son of Frederick and Lydia [Hurst] Rhynold). At that time, the marriage record says that Francis and Delide resided at Antone's Point (and in the 1838 census there are three Selff households: Anthony, Francis and William) but I have been unable to determine the location of Antone's Point. In the 1861 census Francis does not appear in the Yankee Harbour section which was in the Molasses Harbour polling district. Rather, he heads a household of 15 people in the Crow Harbour polling district, next door to William Selff's household of eight. By 1864, William Rhynold and his wife Mary [Selff] were living in Yankee Harbour because their daughter Agnes Margaret was born there. It would appear that Francis and Delide moved to Yankee Harbour because their daughter Mary was now living there. William and Mary (Selff) Rhynold and several children appear in the 1871 census in Yankee Harbour.
            In the 1861 census Polling District 11 (Molasses Harbour), Abstract 3 appears to be the Yankee Harbour section. Item 30 is one George Alexander Snow. Item 31 is William Peitzsch with a household of 10; this would be William Edward Peitzsch and his wife Catherine (Grant). William Edward Peitzsch was a teacher. He had married Catherine in Manchester in 1831 and from there they moved to Ragged Head and from there to Yankee Harbour. William and Catherine were already at Whitehead Harbour in 1858 because William Peitzsch witnessed land transactions for James Herman Feltmate in Doliver's Cove. (Indeed, James Herman Feltmate's household is Item 33 in the census. Item 32 is a Mr. M'Donnell and Item 34 is a Paul Pilrine). Item 35 is John Edward Feltmate mentioned above.
            On New Year's Day 1863, John Edward's daughter Lydia Caroline Feltmate married William A Peitzsch, son of William E. and Catherine. Lydia and William were both "of Yankee Harbour" and they remained there and had a number of children.
            In the 1864-65 Directory of Nova Scotia, under Whitehead we find John Feltmate Sr., fisherman (this is John Edward's father John F. Feltmate, age 70, living up at the head of Whitehead Harbour), and also John Feltmate Jr., fisherman Yankee Harbour (this would be John Edward, age 49). It would be valuable to go through the 1864 directory in detail and extract names associated with Yankee Harbour.
            In 1870 (Deed Book S pg 529, Guys Co.),  John Edward Feltmate (Allie Feltmate's uncle) purchased land from Francis Selff in Yankee Cove close beside what became known as Allie's Run. Whether this was to augment lands that John Edward already held by squatters' rights, or whether it was a formal recognition that John Edward was already living on the land, is at this point unknown. 
            In the 1871 census, there are at least 6 households in Yankee Harbour numbering a total of 32 people. The small village was made up of 5 older adults (aged 50-85), 13 younger adults aged 20 to 49, 1 teenager Cyrus Feltmate, 1 new baby James Rhynold aged 4 months, and 12 children aged 12 or younger. The households were as follows: (1) John Edward Feltmate with his wife and 3 grown children and his sister Ann and her boy Allie; (2) John Edward's son James William Feltmate and his wife Charlotte (Munroe), newly married in January that year (they would go on to raise 13 children in Yankee Harbour); (3) Francis Selff age 58 with Delide (Pelrine) age 23, and young Joseph Selff age 11; (More research needs to be done on the Selff family. If Delide is only 23 in the 1871 census, she could not be the mother of a household of 15, ten years prior!) (4) William Rhynold and his wife Mary (Selff) and their 6 children and a woman Margaret Burns; (5) William Peitzsch, school teacher, age 81and his wife Catherine (Grant) age 65, with two grown boys Jim and Joe age 27 and 21, and a 12 year old girl Esebella Spears; and (6) William A. Peitzsch (son of William and Catherine) with his wife Lydia (Feltmate, the daughter of John Edward Feltmate) and their 4 children. On either end of this list are the Casey Family (but I believe they were living beyond Yankee Harbour over at Raspberry) and Andrew Haley's family and Henry Price's family, both of whom I believe lived further up the shore of Whitehaven Harbour - (although it is notable that Clara calls one of the Yankee Harbour islands "Haley's Island". Price's Island is a large island further up the Harbour).
            The young Esebella Spears in the Peitzsch household is worthy of note. Arthur Peitzsch mentions in the oral history passed down to him by his father that a young Spears girl who was in Yankee Harbour tragically burned to death and was buried in the Yankee Harbour cemetery. Arthur thought that she had been in the household of John Feltmate. I have not been able to find out who she is.
            In Dec 1873, John Edward Feltmate's eldest son John Henry Feltmate married Matilda Barrett (a French girl from Cape Breton) in Halifax. John Henry had been born in Yankee Harbour in 1845 and had remained there as a fisherman. From Halifax, he and Matilda returned to Yankee Harbour and continued to live there, having five children of their own and also fostering Johnny Munroe (son of Louden; his mother had died in childbirth) and William Hobson "Whitey" Feltmate (son of Otto N.; Otto had run into a problem with the law, and the family was dispersed for a time. John Henry's brother James W. also took in one of Otto's sons named Percy). John Edward Feltmate's youngest son, Siras E., married Harriet McPhee on January 16, 1875 and they too continued to live in Yankee Harbour where they raised 10 children, two of whom have homes in Clara's sketch.
            In John Edward Feltmate's will (Will Book 1833-1904, pg 256), proved 5 days before his son Siras's wedding, John Edward stated  that "Siras E. Feltmate [is] to receive half of the lot of land at Yankee Cove known to be my homestead. Alfred M. Feltmate, son of my sister Anne Feltmate to receive the other half of said lot." So this is how Allie Feltmate came to be living where he is in Clara's sketch, while Siras's boys live on the other side of the creek. (Which of the houses was actually John Edward's original home I do not know). In addition, John Edward left "one English Shilling" to each of his
children: John H Feltmate, James W Feltmate, Lydia C Peitzsch, Mary Jane Myers, and Elizabeth C. Davidson. His son Siras E. Feltmate also was bequeathed "2 whale boats, 7 nets with all other fishing Gair (?) attached". John Edward's wife Elizabeth C. Feltmate received one cow. (Thanks to Patricia Lumsden for bringing this will to my attention).
            Arthur Peitzsch mentions in his local history notes that diptheria in the winter of about 1875 took the lives of 4 or 5 in the family of Mr and Mrs William Peitzsch. These children would all be buried in the Yankee Harbour graveyard.
            The A.F. Church map of Guysborough County dates from 1876 and shows a neat row of homes along the shore of Yankee Harbour. They are labelled F Self (Francis); S Feltmate (Siras); J Feltmate (James W.); W Rhynold (William); M Munro (Moses); J & J Peitzsch; W Peitzsch (William). It is interesting that in 1876 we see "J & J Peitzsch" in a house together, and almost 60 years later on Clara's sketch we see "Jimmie and Joe Peitzsch" marked in a house together. In 1876, one of the "J's" would have been Joseph Abraham Peitzsch (son of William E and Catherine); he was about 27 years old in 1876 and he did not marry Sophia Hendsbee until 1880. The "other J" would have been Joseph's brother James H. "Jimmy" who would have been 32 in 1876. Joe and Jim had been living with their aged parents 5 years before in the 1871 census. Their father William died circa 1875. Although not marked on the A F Church map, Catherine was still living with Jim and Joe, as indicated in the 1881 census. (By 1881 Joe's wife Sophia had moved in with the three of them too).  Jimmy never did marry and he lived to the ripe age of 92, dying in 1937. So he is indeed the same Jimmy in Clara's sketch, but in 1930 he is living with a Joe from the younger generation, probably his nephew Joe (son of Joseph Abraham) who was about age 45 in 1930 and had married Martha Creamer in 1911. Joe and Martha's daughter Avis Sophia Peitzsch was born in Yankee Harbour and later would marry Eric Munroe whom I believe was a son of their Yankee Harbour neighbours Albert and Leona [Peitzsch] Munroe).


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