News Release Archive

In the summer of 1783, several thousand black men, women and
children evacuated New York with the British military bound by
ship for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, England or Germany. A total
of 540 of these people, originally enslaved in South Carolina,
came to Nova Scotia. Many had recognisably Carolinian surnames
such as Izard (Izzard), Ashe or Gero, names which survive in the
Nova Scotia today.

Due to the excellent records made at the time, it is possible to
trace the ancestry of many Nova Scotia black families back to
plantations in South Carolina.

Ruth Whitehead and Carmelita Carvery of the Nova Scotia Museum
have examined 18th century newspapers, Nova Scotia and U.S.
census records, land survey records, church records, poll tax
lists, military muster rolls, petitions and British records from
the American Revolution, including Black Loyalist lists.

They have examined runaway slave ads in 18th-century South
Carolina newspapers looking for information on escaped black
Loyalists who came to Canada. An example describes Charles Gero
born in Guinea, West Africa. The ad describes his country marks
on his cheeks, that he speaks good English and pretty good 
French and is a stocking weaver by trade. It is dated
Charlestown, Oct. 17, 1776. This may be the man who came to Nova
Scotia calling himself Benjamin Gero.

Ms. Whitehead and Ms. Carvery are also researching the history of
the black community at Tracadie, Antigonish County. In 1787,
Thomas Brownspriggs was granted 3,000 acres of land at Tracadie
for himself and 73 other black families. One of the black
Loyalists whose name appears is Benjamin Gero, born 1758.
Formerly enslaved to Peter Guerard, a French Huguenot planter in
Charleston, South Carolina. The name Guerard was pronounced Gero
in the 1700s. Benjamin married Hagar, formally enslaved to Thomas
Broughton of Charleston.

This on-going research is part of a project sponsored by the
Black Cultural Centre, the Black Educators Association, the
Public Archives of Nova Scotia, the Department of Canadian
Heritage, Parks Canada and the Nova Scotia Department of
Education and Culture. Information about black history in Nova
Scotia is being gathered into a black cultural database.

As part of African Heritage Month, Ruth Whitehead and Carmelita
Carvery will share their findings with black communities
throughout Nova Scotia in a series of illustrated talks. They are
also asking for input by black Nova Scotians who might have clues
or information about their part of this important part of Nova
Scotia history.

The presentations take place in the following locations: Black
Cultural Centre, Dartmouth, Thursday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m.; Birchtown
Community Centre, Birchtown, Shelburne County, Monday Feb. 10, 7
p.m.; Queens County Museum, Liverpool, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 7 p.m.;
Admiral Digby Museum, Digby, Saturday, Feb. 15, 1:30 p.m.; Cape
Breton Centre For Heritage and Science, Sydney, Tuesday, Feb. 18,
7 p.m.; Tracadie Community Centre, Tracadie, Wednesday, Feb. 19,
7 p.m.; Halifax North End Library, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 7 p.m.


Contact: Carmelita Carvery or Ruth Whitehead  902-424-7374

         Joan Waldron                         902-424 7398

trp                      Jan. 31, 1997 - 12:15 p.m.