My Nova Scotia Ancestors’ Going Away” Story

by Nancy Hursh Bagley, Seattle, Washington, USA

My grandparents, Jeremiah Fowler Woodworth (1852-1933) and Annie Bathsheba Cook (1856-1924), were married at Cook’s Brook, Nova Scotia, in 1879. Their first child, William Norman, was born there in 1880.

My grandfather is descended from Thomas Woodworth, who was born in Rhode Island in the U.S. in 1734. He was granted 500 acres at Falmouth, Nova Scotia. His son John lived on land bordering the Shubenacadie River, owned sailing vessels, and carried on trade in lumber between Halifax and Boston. He and his second wife, Sarah Campbell, were the parents of my grandfather, Jeremiah.

My grandmother is descended from William Cook, born in 1758, and his wife Leah, born in 1760. William Cook received a grant of land as a Loyalist in 1786 in what is now Cook’s Brook, Halifax County. Their grandson was William Cook (1815-1897), who married Mary Ann Taylor Annand. They were the parents of my grandmother Annie.

In 1882, Jerry Woodworth left Nova Scotia to look for work in the sawmills far away in northern Minnesota, where the great white pine forests were being logged. Annie and little Norman made the long trip by train later that year to join Jerry in the little town of N.P. Junction, later renamed Carlton, where construction had begun on the Northern Pacific Railway in 1870. How hard it must have been for the Woodworths to leave their family and the only home they had known to head west to be pioneers in an unknown land, as their forebears had done years before in the “wild woods of Musquodoboit!”

Jerry Woodworth became an expert filer of the huge saws used in the mills in Carlton and the surrounding region. He and Annie made their home in Carlton. They had a family of eight children, only three of whom lived to adulthood. My mother, Avis Woodworth Hursh (1896-1980), was their daughter.

In 1903, Annie made her first and only trip back home to Cook’s Brook with her children Annie May, Wilbert, and Avis, age seven. Avis had vivid memories of that trip—the long train ride, meeting so many family members, and seeing the Cook homestead. Annie kept in touch by mail with her Cook and Annand relatives back home in Nova Scotia. After her death, my mother also wrote to cousins, but was never able to go back to Nova Scotia. My sister Mary Ann and her family visited Cook’s Brook in the 1960s and met several cousins. My husband and I and our toddler son Charles were there in 1970. We met Uncle Ed Cook who lived on the Cook homestead, and Charles dabbled his toes in Cook’s Brook!

One family treasure that the Woodworths were able to bring back to their home in America was a beautiful, hand-made, miniature wooden chest of drawers that had been made for Annie’s mother, Mary Ann Taylor, born in 1816, when she was a child in what is now called Chaswood.  The chest was treasured as a family heirloom by the next three generations, holding a place of honor in my home in Seattle for almost 40 years. In 2018, I decided the chest should go back home to Nova Scotia. Fortunately, I was able to find a caring home for it with the East Hants Historical Society and their Lower Selma Museum.

Note:  More information on the Woodworth and Cook families can be found in  History of the Families of Homer Burke Hursh and Avis Woodworth Hursh, by Nancy Hursh Bagley, 2008, which I sent to EHHS along with the antique chest.