Connecting with Sarah & Jacob… and How I Love Archives.

As a genealogist, and you know this if you are one, there is no greater thrill than discovering a tangible connection to your ancestors. On August 4th, during a lovely get-away to Nova Scotia, I was able to connect with my Great4 Grandparents, Jacob H. Gavel & Sarah (Hurlburt) Gavel. I had hoped to discover their grave site and had no more expectations than that. Those expectations were met and then exceeded as I most happily and accidentally discovered the Tusket Courthouse and Archives. There the head archivist gave me directions to the Gavelton Meeting House and then dangled this big carrot in front of my nose: We have a copy of Sarah & Jacobs family Bible, as well as a picture of them… so do come back to see us!

For a genealogist, discovering the grave site, family Bible, and original photograph of  relatives born in 1814 & 1817, all in one day,  is like winning the lottery twice on your birthday. I was as giddy as a school-girl! Actually throw in a free flatscreen because I also discovered Jacob’s parents buried at the Gavelton Meeting House as well.

The Gavelton Meeting House is stunning. Located on an obscure gravel road, this little gem seems to have withstood the test of time. It is history locked into place. The Meeting House is one of the oldest standing Churches in Yarmouth County, built circa 1840, and one of the best examples of the New England Colonial Style. It is two levels with the upper story supporting a three sided balcony. When you enter the Church, on either side there are stairs leading to the balcony and directly in front are two  old stoves to heat the building.

According to a deed discovered in the 1980’s, my Great5 Grandfather, John Gavel sold the land to the Church for 5 shillings. There were 8 men involved in the shareholding of the Church with a total of 30 shares. Three of those men were my ancestors: John Gavel (8 shares), his son Jacob Gavel (3 shares) and Jacob’s Father-in-Law, Titus Hurlburt (1 share).

In January 2008 I wrote all about Jacob Gavel & Sarah Hurlburt and their parents and grandparents. (Please feel free to read about them again!). With the help of the Argyle Archives (oh how I love Archives!) I was able retain copies of the front pages of the original family Bible. These pages listed family birth dates, marriage dates, and death dates in what I like to believe was Sarah’s own handwriting. It also include original newspaper cutting of obituaries of family members.

After marveling at this, the archival assistant then showed me a photograph of Sarah and Jacob taken in the mid-1800’s. To put a face to Jacob and his wife Sarah meant the world to me. I patiently wait for my own copy of the picture to be sent to me by mail! There’s nothing like looking into the eyes of your ancestors… especially when you never thought you’d ever have the chance. It’s literally looking into your own history (when we usually just get to do that figuratively).

Special thanks to Archivist Peter Crowell and Assistant Kelly Meuse from the Argyle Township Courthouse & Archives who loaded me up with wonderful amounts of archival goodness. I regret not having the time to go over every piece and do plan on returning at a later date to do so.  I must also acknowledge D.A. Gavel whose research and writings on the Gavels has filled in many of the gaps in my own research.

I leave you with a few pictures of the Gavelton Meeting House that I took on August 4th, 2009, but before I do, here is the poem that is on Jacob H. Gavel’s tombstone:

The hour of my departure come,

I hear the voice that calls me home.

At last Oh Lord let trouble cease,

And let thy servant die in peace.

The race appointed I have run,

The combat’s o’er, the prize is won.

And now my witness is on high,

And now my record’s in the sky.

Gavelton Meeting House, Nova Scotia. Built circa 1840.

Gavelton Meeting House, Nova Scotia. Built circa 1840.

Inside the Gavelton Meeting House. The stoves.

Inside the Gavelton Meeting House. The stoves.

Gavelton Meeting House. The balcony.

Gavelton Meeting House. The balcony.

John & Phoebe (Hatfield) Gavel. Original owners of the land on which the Gavelton Meeting House sits. My G5 Grandparents.

John & Phoebe (Hatfield) Gavel. Original owners of the land on which the Gavelton Meeting House sits. My G5 Grandparents.

Sarah (Hurlburt) & Jacob Gavel. My Great4 Grandparents.

Sarah (Hurlburt) & Jacob Gavel. My Great4 Grandparents.

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Published in: on 17 August 2009 at 12:28 am  Comments (3)  

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  1. Earlier today (September 3rd) I received 4 pictures from the Tusket Archives. One of Jacob and Sarah together in their younger years. One of Jacob as a middle aged man. One of Jacob as an older man. One of Sarah in a gorgeous dress (circa 1850).

  2. Hi Sarah. I was doing some research on my family history, and came across this blog. I do believe we’re related. My father grew up in Westborough, MA. His grandfather was Tufts University’s “Man of the Century” Dr. J. Murray Gavel. I am very interested in learning more about my geneology, and was hoping you were also interested in sharing what you know with me. Thank you and hope to hear from you! 🙂

  3. Hello Sarah, I am obviously one of your Australian relatives. My mother is from the John Henderson Gavel family of New South Wales. There are many Gavels in Australia, now.
    Was just checking out some history of early New York online, attempting to connect the Gavel’s with their time of living in New Amsterdam/New York, before Nova Scotia, and the War Of Independence with Britain, when they were asked to leave because they were Loyalists of the British Crown, I understand. (Family lore.)

    My direct lineage connects with George Miller Gavel, my (two greats) grandfather, who came to Australia in the 1850’s on a family owned ship to Melbourne, with his brother, Andrew.

    My first cousin Paul Gavel of Sydney, Australia, is our main Australian genealogist enthusiast, but I find the early days of our family in America fascinating. I have just read Geraldine Brooks’ latest book “Caleb’s Crossing” about Martha’s Vineyard, and it has peaked my interest again, in connecting the dots of Gavel family in your part of the world. I realised a while back, we must have as many relatives in the U.S.A, as in Australia. Thanks for this site with the photos of the meeting house in Gavelton, showing the very neat interior, which is a treat!


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