Archelaus Smith

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Archelaus Smith
Born (1734-04-23)April 23, 1734
Chatham, Massachusetts, United States
Died April 3, 1821(1821-04-03) (aged 86)
Centreville, Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia
Nationality American, Canadian
Known for Early settler of Barrington, Nova Scotia
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Nickerson
Children Susanna Smith, Hezekiah Smith, Mercy Smith, Eunice Smith, James Smith, Stephen Smith, Archelaus Smith, Jr., Hannah Smith

Archelaus Smith (23 April 1734 - 3 April 1821), was a tanner, shoemaker and early settler of Barrington, Nova Scotia. He was born in Chatham, Massachusetts to parents Deacon Stephen Smith (c.1706-1766) and Bathsheba (Brown) Smith (1709–1766). He was christened in the Congregational Church, Chatham, Massachusetts on 23 Apr 1734.[1] At eighteen years of age he married Elizabeth Nickerson (1735–1828), daughter of William Nickerson (1701–1763) and Sarah (Covell) Nickerson (c.1706-b.1790), in Chatham, in a ceremony performed by the Reverend Stephen Emerey.[2][3][4] They had eight children (three boys and five girls).


In the spring of 1760 Smith began planning to move his family from their home in Chatham to a new home in Barrington, Nova Scotia. He was to be one of the earliest settlers in the area, along with Solomon Smith, Jonathan Smith, and Thomas Crowell. He spent the summer of 1760 fishing, and during that time, determined native hostility in the Barrington area was too threatening, and so he changed his mind about moving. However, his wife Elizabeth was unaware of his change of heart, and took it upon herself to travel to Barrington with her family before her husband returned to Chatham. It is possible that they crossed paths, but certainly he was delayed in returning to Barrington. When he finally got there, he found his family being cared for by friendly natives, the same people he had feared.[5][6][7]

Original proprietor[edit]

Smith was one of the original proprietors in the area, settling at Barrington Head in the fall of 1760. In fact, the first three houses at Centreville were called "the Housen", and belonged to Archelaus Smith, Simeon Gardner, and Jonathan Covell. "Housen" was Anglo-Saxon for houses. Smith's home was nearly opposite the old meeting house. In 1773 he moved to Cape Sable Island, where he and his family occupied almost all the land from Northeast Point to West Head (a distance of five miles). He also held a tract of land at Lower Clark's Harbour, Cape Sable Island (known then as Stumpy Cove), a large part of Hawk Point, and a great meadow in the centre of the island. He took over land that had been forfeited and abandoned by Joseph Worth, and built a home near the shore, a little north of where the Centreville Baptist Church would later stand. Around 1776 he moved to a house near the shore on Cape Sable Island, near the spot where just before 1981 Job Kenney would build the house that stands today. It is a short distance from the Centreville Baptist Church.


Smith had a fair education, and was highly respected by other settlers. He was known as a "good, quiet, easy, patient man", and was chosen over several years to be clerk of the proprietors, as well as a community magistrate and a surveyor. By trade he was a tanner and a shoemaker, using lime made from mussel shells to cure leather. He was very religious, belonging to the Presbyterian church, and no food was cooked in his house on Sundays. Before a minister came to the island he conducted prayers for the community, and when necessary, buried the dead.


Smith died 3 April 1821 in Centreville, Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia.[2] He is probably buried in the Centreville Cemetery, but his grave is unmarked, so in 1998 a stone in honour of Smith and his wife was erected there.[8] In addition, a museum on Cape Sable Island has been established in his memory, containing historical artifacts, photos, and genealogical data of area families (largely compiled by Margaret Messenger).


  1. ^ New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol 64 Pg 187
  2. ^ a b Barrington Township Records - Early Records of Marriages, Births and Deaths in Barrington, Nova Scotia, page xxxvii, transcribed by Patricia A. Terry, published 1994 by Stoneycroft Publishing
  3. ^ Vital Records of Chatham MA
  4. ^ Descendants of Ralph Smith,
  5. ^ Island Memories, published 1982 by the Archelaus Smith Historical Society, Cape Sable Island
  6. ^ The Island Looks Back, published 1981 by the Archelaus Smith Historical Society, Cape Sable Island
  7. ^ History and Genealogy of the Mayflower Planters and First Comers to Ye Olde Colonie, Cape Cod Series Vol I, by Leon Clark Hills, published 1936, Washington DC, re-published 1996 by the Genealogical Publishing Co, Baltimore MD
  8. ^ Island Memories (published 1982 by the Archelaus Smith Historical Society, Cape Sable Island)

External links[edit]