Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Payzant Family from a History of Nova Scotia

A gentleman named Payzant came to Halifax in 1754, with a recommendation to Lawrence, then president, from Mr. Pownal, secretary to the lords of trade. (I find in the London magazine for 1757, among the deaths, 'July 23. James Payzant, esq : a clerk in the secretary of. state's office, aged 100.) Mr. Payzant decided on settling with his family in the vicinity of the new German town of Lunenburg, and Lawrence gave him a letter to colonel Sutherland, who commanded there, requesting that he should be favored and protected in his design. Payzant established his residence, building a house on an island in Mahone bay, a delightful region, not far from another island then called Rous island, on which there was also a settlement belonging to Capt. Rous. A party of Indians went to Rous's island — took off a boy, whose hands they tied, and forced him to guide them to Payzant's place, the islands being numerous, and then probably all covered with wood. They killed and scalped Payzant himself, a woman servant and a child—carried off Mrs. Payzant and four children, and also killed and scalped the boy guide. The man who lived on Rous's island was also found scalped. It was the practice of the Indians then to carry any prisoners whose lives they spared to Canada, where they were disposed of for a money ransom, which the humanity of the French inhabitants or the policy of the Quebec rulers provided; and after years of exile, the survivors got back to the British colonies, on exchange of prisoners, re-payment of ransom, or at a general peace. In this instance, one, if not more, of the four children of Payzant were, after a long time, restored to Nova Scotia. A son of this family got back from Canada, and in after life was a religious teacher of great piety and virtue at Liverpool, Nova Scotia, and the name is still found in the province, growing in esteem.—On friday, 14 May, the lieutenant governor assembled his council at his own house, in Halifax, at which messrs. Green, Cotterel, Rous, Collier, Monckton and Wilmot, met him. He laid before them the letters he had received from Scott and Sutherland, detailing the circumstances of the Indian warfare, and they resolved to offer bounties for Indian prisoners and scalps.

The following is re-printed from one of the placards then issued:

[royal Arms.]


Lieutenant-Governor and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Province of Nova-Scotia, or Accodie.


Whereas notwithstanding the gracious Offers of Friendship and Protection made by us, in his Majesty's Name, to the Indians inhabiting this Province, and the Treaty of Peace coneluded with a Tribe of the Mickmacks, bearing Date the 22d November, 1752, the Indians have of late, in a most treacherous and cr-ael Manner, killed and carried away divers of his Majesty's Subjects in different Parts of the Province.

For these Causes We (by and with the Advice and Consent of His Majesty's Council) do hereby authorize and command all Officers, civil and military, and all His Majesty's Subjects, to annoy, distress, take and destroy the Indians inhabiting different Parts of this Province, wherever they are found ; and all such as may be aiding or assisting to them, notwithstanding the Proclamation of the 4th of November, 1752, or any former Proclamation to the contrary.

And We do hereby promise (by and with the Advice and Consent of His Majesty's Council) a Reward of Thirty Pounds for every male Indian Prisoner, above the Age of Sixteen Years, brought in alive ; for a Scalp of such Male Indian Twenty-Jive Pounds, and Twenty-five Pounds for every Indian Woman or Child brought in alive : Such Rewards to be paid by the Officer commanding at any of His Majesty's Forts in this Province, immediately on receiving the Prisoners or Scalps above mentioned, according to the Intent and Meaning of this Proclamation.

Given at Halifax, this \tfh Day of May, 1756, in the igtA year of His Majestyi

By His Excellency's Command,

Cha- Lawrence.

Wm. Cotterell, Seer.

GOD save the KING.

Halifax : Printed by J. Bushell, Printer to the Government . 1756.

Payzant Family in Nova Scotia

by Bernice Frizzle, 1985

Louis Payzant, founder of the Payzant family in North America, was a French Huguenot of the landed gentry in Caen, Normandy, France, who, after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, received his English citizenship on the Isle of Jersey and came with his family, servants and worldly goods to establish himself in the New World.
Upon his arrival in Halifax, he was directed to the new Foreign Protestant settlement at Lunenburg, where he arrived prior to July 15, 1753. By the spring of 1756 Louis had established a well-stocked trading post on Covey's Island in Mahone Bay, had partly completed his permanent dwelling, and was living there with his household.
During the French and Indian war, in a struggle for control of North America, Indians from the St. John River area were ordered to attack the English settlers and destroy their homes. Perhaps learning of the booty at Covey's Island the post became a prime target.
On the fearful night of May 8th hearing sounds outside his home and thinking the disturbance might be caused by revellers from Lunenburg, Mr. Payzant opened the door to investigate. He raised his gun and gave a warning shot. Light from the room behind revealed a company of grim, howling savages with upraised tomahawks ready to perform their horrendous deed. Before the eyes of his horrified wife and children not only did they massacre Louis but they killed several male servants, a serving woman and child, and also a young boy from nearby Rous's Island whom they had used as a guide.
After plundering, pillaging and burning the buildings, they carried Mrs. Payzant, who was pregnant with Lisette, and her four fatherless children by canoe on a 900 mile trip to the French fortified city of Quebec.
With hope of a reward, the Indians stopped on their journey at St. Anne’s, a Jesuit mission station (now Fredericton), on the St. John's River. Here in exchange for the children they received a generous ransom in beads. Mrs. Payzant was taken to Quebec.
Traditional stories claim that she implored General Montcalm to find her children and return them safely to her, and it was through her efforts that her wishes were granted. Several months later all members of the reunited family were treated kindly by both the military and civic leaders. The Jesuits supervised the education of the three boys, John received instruction in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, and was presented with a small revolving study table capable of holding three text books. Still in existence, it is owned by one of his descendants.
The Payzant family were held prisoners until the city fell to the English at the historic Battle of the Plains of Abraham on 13 Sept 1759. Although General Wolfe was the victor, both he and General Montcalm lost their lives in the conflict that gave North America to British rule.
When Marie with her family returned to Nova Scotia she received in 1760 a 500-acre grant from the Crown at the time of the founding of the township of Falmouth, Hants County.

Mexican Tom and The Kid

By Rev. Reg. Purdy, 25 Newcastle Avenue Nanaimo, B. C.
1985 - Transcribed by Bernice Frizzle

Although much has been written about the early days of the Queen Charlotte Islands, it is doubtful if they dealt with two more colourful characters than "Mexican Tom" and "The Kid". Tom was christened William Thomas Hodges, though few people knew it. "The Kid" was Reginald H. Purdy, who entered the ministry after a full life as a cattle rider, Mounted Policeman and City of Victoria policeman.

It often happens that one man's bad luck is the foundation for another's success. Alexander MacKenzie, a Hudson's Bay Company factor, became, in 1878, the first white settler of the Charlottes. He had a dream: to build the first ranch on Graham Island, where there was mild weather, a superabundance of grass, and simply no cougars, wolves or rattlesnakes at all.
Surely these combined assets must have lulled MacKenzie into believing he had found a ranch Utopia. So great was his enthusiasm that the big drawback—no market except by shipment to the mainland—eluded him. When the moment of truth arrived and it was time for his first shipment of 20 steers, MacKenzie chartered a tug and doubtless thought he had it made. But a fierce storm met them, making a landing impossible. The poor animals were pushed overboard in the hope they would swim to shore. A few did, but the rest drowned. This broke MacKenzie's heart. He never went back to the island.
On the heels of this disaster came a very determined man up the Pacific Coast with one burning ambition: to build corrals and round up the wild cattle he had heard about — MacKenzie's 400 — running around the Island. He managed to wangle some financial backing with which he hired a tug to ship feed grain to Masset. He was known as "Mexican Tom" and if he were around today he'd be called "far out". Never seen without his big Stetson hat with its 32” black and white horsehair braided hat band and his twin Colt revolvers, he must have presented quite a sight to the natives.
His corrals arose, with wings from the north beach and the east coast, but by the time he was ready for his wild guests, they were not about to be captured. They entered the corrals according to plan, but roared right through. Mexican Tom tried several times before he abandoned the attempt, and the cattle won the first round.
But Tom was still enchanted with the Island and went down the East Coast to the Tlell River where he found large flats, plenty of water, shelter and grass up to his stirrups. Again his buildings » and fencing went up and this time the cattle stayed.
Three years later, in 1904, a wealthy Englishman came to Masset and was so taken with Tom's holdings that he offered him a large amount to sell out. Money was always tempting to Tom, who occasionally spent quite a bit of it on drinking bouts, so this William Good's offer was too tempting to refuse and a deal was consummated.
Off went Tom, south to Sandspit on Moresby Island. (It was a far cry from the Sandspit of today with its airport, hotels and motels; where loggers come to work in Yakoun and Justatla, when Tom settled there in 1904.) He found nothing but endless grass and sand, but as usual, he saw the possibilities and went to work.
That was a very bad winter — twice as bad for an amateur like William Good. The dreadful storms that lashed the Tlell River brought high water and destruction — and the end of the Englishman's ranching attempts. He went to visit Mexican Tom, who seemed to be a sort of magnet to him, when spring came, and offered him $1,000 to trade places. Again the money won out with Tom, and he returned to Tlell River.
About this time Mexican Tom decided he needed a wife. He couldn't read or write, but he found a friend at Skidegate to write to the Lonely Hearts column of an American newspaper.
Mrs. Flora Burns, a widow from Washington, became the first white woman of the Island and Tom's bride.
After the boat arrived with her, everyone wondered who would marry them. There was neither minister nor priest on the Island, and this was serious because in those days two people did not housekeep until they were married!
To the rescue came the boat captain, who took the couple and all settlers present three miles out to sea where he had the authority to perform the ceremony. On their return to shore a great celebration ensued before Tom and his mail-order bride left for Tlell River.
Early in 1909 many settlers came to Graham Island seeking land, in response to government bulletins that glowingly described "vast areas of open land ready for the plow". It was a cruel deception as the "open land" was nothing but muskeg that was often several feet deep.
Young Reginald Purdy, tall, husky and 15, arrived at Skidegate with his father and uncle — victims of the government's false advertising. They found recorded pre-emptions covering all waterfronts registered in the names of various lumber companies, and quickly realized a settler could only stake his claim a half or even a full mile back of the water.
Mexican Tom happened to be at Skidegate that day, and when he saw the six-foot teenager, he took an instant "shine" to the boy, dubbing him "The Kid" — the name that stuck to Reg Purdy as long as he was on the Island. Tom urged him to go with him to his ranch, and while the Kid longed to become a cowboy, his father refused his permission. However, he did allow the Kid to ride with Mexican Tom for one week — an unforgettable experience for the boy.
Meanwhile, his father and uncle bought out a family who wanted to leave the Island. The Kid's Uncle Harris was a master carpenter and axe man, and the three men built a log house, in which they were happy and comfortable until the Kid's father unfortunately died the following year. He was laid to rest in a coffin of whipsawn lumber, built by Uncle Harris, and with all settlers present, the first Masonic funeral with full rites took place on Graham Island.
Misfortune still dogged the Kid. Unhappily, a few days after the funeral the log house was burned to ashes. Not even the groceries or ammunition could be saved when Uncle Harris and the Kid came dashing to the scene from the land they were busily clearing.
This was the finish for Uncle Harris. He moved to Hawaii, where he ended his days.
Meanwhile, Mexican Tom was having a bad time at Tlell River. Flora left him. Whether it was hard work or Tom's drinking, or both, that drove her away, is not known. Tom now took the few head of cattle he had left, together with some saddle horses, his destination being Bull Swamp, south of Ocanda, for yet another new start.
But first he had to have a drinking bout. As he was sobering up he met the Kid again and tried desperately to persuade him to give up the riding job he had held for a number of years and go east with him.
The Kid refused. Then Mexican Tom played his trump card. He offered the boy a young saddle horse that the Kid couldn't resist and they were in business together.
Under Tom's instruction he broke some horses, did some fencing and erected a log barn. Tom now planned to go into the freighting business, but first he had to have a wagon. He made a trip to Vancouver for this purpose and returned in due course with not only the wagon and some harness, but a present for the Kid —a Victor gramophone with a few records.
By this time the wild cattle had worked their way south and now made their headquarters on the Bull Swamp. One huge bull lorded it over all the others. Every morning and evening he ascended his favorite hill and bawled, pawing the ground, in open challenge to anything afoot.
One night Tom came home to a strange duet — a rendition of the Blue Danube Waltz, by the gramophone, with the bawling accompaniment of the big bull. Glancing in the animal's direction, Tom remarked: "There's old Blue Danube!" That was how the old swamp got the name it bears today. When the Kid finally killed the bull, he found he had been twice shot before, once through the horn and once in the left leg.
The Kid was breaking horses in his spare time and he had a young team of matched colts partially broken to the wagon. Mexican Tom, no longer young, wanted to drive them to Masset alone. For good reasons, the Kid opposed the idea. Not only was Tom now badly crippled with rheumatism, but his young partner knew he would go on a drunk when he reached Masset.
But the wilful man went anyway, and an accident caused by his drinking and recklessness brought the closing chapter of his colourful career. On the way to the hospital at Prince Rupert, he scrawled on a piece of paper: "everything I have goes to the Kid."
When there was some question concerning the validity of the paper, the judge at Prince Rupert settled it by remarking it was one of the best wills he had seen!
That year the Kid unknowingly laid the foundation for his later service in the Anglican Church by helping to build the first one in New Masset in 1912. It was constructed of logs and a split shake roof. The altar and railings were fashioned by the talented Haida Indians, of Yellow Cedar —a beautiful wood that improves with age and polish. Little did the Kid realize, as he worked, that some day his ordained son, the Rev. Bob Purdy, would preach in this church he helped to build —or that he would some day return as an ordained priest to conduct a service in the old but still lovely church.
The Kid stayed another year on the Island. Life on the Charlottes was never the same after his father died, and old Mexican Tom's passing severed the last link. The old cattle man, who taught him so much of the outdoors had also put most of the meaning into his life there. Thus, in 1913, he took his leave of the Charlottes.

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.