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The Schwartz and Walter Families of Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia

  Last Updated 17 January, 2008


verett Wainwright  married Lottie Gisborough Schwartz from Lunenburg Nova Scotia in 1908. My search in the Schwartz line has been greatly helped by oral histories and other family knowledge. With additional help from fellow genealogists in Lunenburg, I have been able to trace the family back to their European origins. It turns out that the Schwartz family shares a fascinating history with immigrants from the German Rhineland area that led to the founding of Lunenburg County Nova Scotia.

Shortly after the British took control of Acadia from France, they expelled all of the French Catholics from the area. On 9 May 1749 King George III appointed Lord Cornwallis Royal Governor of the new colony of Nova Scotia. His first task was to resettle the area with loyal Protestants. Cornwallis wanted to recruit English subjects to settle in the area, but it proved difficult to convince them to abandon their life in England. Instead, he contracted with Johann Dick of Rotterdam to recruit German peasants from the Rhineland area. Herr Dick put up posters and handbills in the Duchies of Palatinate, Franconia, Hesse, Mainz, and others. The peasant farmers of this region lived under great hardship in feudal conditions and their prospects were limited. As an enticement to resettle in the new colony, they were offered at least fifty acres of land, arms, protection from the hostile native population, and provisions sufficient to get them through their initial settlement. Over the next 3 years, about 1600 men, women, and children went to Rotterdam and on to the new colony of Nova Scotia.

So it was that on 26 September 1752 Johann Georg Schwarz, farmer from the Duchy of Franconia, arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The trip aboard the ship "Sally" was particularly long and stormy, taking about 90 days for the crossing. Of the 258 people who left Rotterdam aboard her, only 218 survived the trip. Johann joined other German Protestants, who had been arriving from Rotterdam since 1750 in clearing land and doing other work for the English settlers, until a place could be found to settle them. On 28 May 1753, they embarked for a bay located about fifty miles south of Halifax called Merleguish by the natives, thenceforth known as Lunenburg.

Life in the new colony was brutal in the first years. The native Americans were still friendly to the French, and routinely attacked the settlers at every opportunity. Insufficient supplies had been sent to feed the settlers, and great poverty reigned. Gradually, though, the township of Lunenburg became a viable, though insulated community.

We do not know when or where Johann Georg Schwarz Margaret married, but in 1754 his first son Leonard Christopher Schwartz was born, followed in 1755 by a daughter, Maria Magdelena, another daughter Anna Elizabeth, and in 1759 by a son, Jacob. All are included in lists of settlers who received provisions from the Crown in 1756 and 1757. Johann died sometime before 1763 at Lunenburg. His wife survived him, until 29 March 1773.

Leonard Christopher Schwartz carried on as the eldest son of the family. Mather Byles DesBrisay, in his "History of Lunenburg County", recounts that Leonard and his wife Magdalene (Kneller) were the first to sound the alarm during a raid by American rebels on 1 July, 1782:

"Mr. Schwartz lived on what was afterwards called Myra's Island, a little over a mile from the town and connected at low water with the mainland. Magdelana Schwartz, Leonard's wife, went out early to milk the cow. Hearing a noise, she looked up, and seeing the invaders, who had landed at the 'Blue Rocks', coming over the hill, she dropped the milk pail and ran into the house with the alarming news. Mr. Schwartz started for Lunenburg and, though fired at while passing Rou's brook, managed to reach town safely."

Leonard married Magdalene Kneller on 28 May 1776 and had at least 10 children. Their eighth, Casper Schwartz, was born 4 August 1792.

The Province of Nova Scotia has a nasty climate that prevented the cultivation of most crops and frustrated the attempts at farming by many German farmers. The sea, on the other hand, was rich with fish and opportunity. Lunenburg evolved into one of the most important fishing centers in the northeast. Casper took to the sea, and in so doing reflected the evolving relationship of the German Protestants with their new land. Casper married Anna Maria --- and had seven children.

Casper's eldest, George Francis Schwartz was born on 27 July 1817. He started out as a fisherman, but was also a farmer, reflecting the tendency of the residents to maintain both occupations. George married Sophia Walter and had a family of eight children. George lived to the ripe old age of 92.

Sophia Walter was the daughter of Leohnhardt Walter and Mary Barbara Conrad, both children of original Lunenburg settlers.  Leohnhardt was the God son of George's grandfather Leonard Christopher Schwartz.

Joshua Schwartz, fifth son of George and Sophia, is the first member of the Schwartz family about whom there are family memories. He at various times identified himself as a farmer, fisherman, and sea captain. His marriage to Elizabeth Stawell in 1876 is odd not only because of the different religions and ethnic backgrounds, but also because of the geographical distance between the families. The couple had 4 children before Elizabeth died in 1884 including Lottie, who married Everett Wainwright in Gloucester.  Left with small children, Joshua in 1885 married for a second time Eliza (McLauchlin) (Hall) Kline, who had 8 children of her own.  They had 3 additional children, all of whom were dead by 1919.  Joshua died in 1939 and is buried alone on a hillside in Lunenburg, without a headstone.

A name that occurs often in my family's oral history is  Augustus Nickerson, who, with Lottie fathered Gladys Nickerson. The story goes that Lottie was farmed out to Nickerson after her father Joshua remarried. She came to Boston before 1900  to live with her sister May, who had come to Boston some time before. In 1904 she gave birth to a daughter, Gladys.  Although her parents are listed as Augustus Nickerson and wife Nellie Wilson, a Separate Maintenance judgement in Middlesex County Probate Court demonstrates that Lottie was the real mother, and Gladys' name was changed to Schwartz.  Gladys never got along with her mother, and lived her older childhood years with her father in Boston.

Taken together, the descendants of Johann Georg Schwarz made up almost all of the individuals by that name living in Lunenburg County. Today there are many that live there with the Schwartz name.

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