Etched in stone
The stories behind 10 noteworthy tombstones in Kings County
Just as the inscriptions etched in stone eventually wear with the aid of weather and time, the names immortalized by grave markers or memorial tributes fade from memory with each passing generation until the stories behind the stones are no longer familiar to visitors strolling through the rows upon rows of stones lining cemeteries.
Every stone has a story, some more well-known than others.
All photos by Ashley Thompson Nova Scotia’s first Victoria Cross recipient
1827 – 1904
Hantsport Baptist Church
A memorial cairn marking the final resting place of Nova Scotia’s first Victoria Cross recipient stands near the Hantsport Baptist Church. William Hall was not only the first Nova Scotian to receive the British Empire’s most prestigious award for bravery, he was also the first Victoria Cross recipient of African descent. A Maritime Museum of the Atlantic article entitled “William Hall, VC” states he was born in Horton and spent several years working in the shipyards of Hantsport before eventually enlisting in the British Royal Navy.
The inscription on Hall’s memorial in Hantsport traces his Victoria Cross distinction back to his service with HMS Shannon on Nov. 16, 1857.
“Hall was part of a crew under command of a lieutenant which placed a 24-pounder gun near the angle of the Shah Nujjiff at Lucknow. When all but the lieutenant and Hall were either killed or wounded, Hall, with utter disregard for life, kept loading and firing the gun until the wall had been breached and the relief of Lucknow had been assured,” the monument reads.
Hall returned to Avonport to farm and live with his sisters following his time in the service, and was originally buried without military honours in an unmarked grave after succumbing to paralysis in 1904. A local legion movement launched in 1937 eventually resulted in Hall being reburied at the Hantsport Baptist Church property, in a resting place recognizing the heroic efforts of the historic Victoria Cross recipient. first woman to graduate from Dalhousie
1857 to 1935 Cornwallis Reformed Presbyterian Covenanter Church
Cemetery in Grafton
A Dalhousie University library article devoted to Margaret Trueman (nee Newcombe) lists the Grafton native as the first female graduate of the Halifaxbased post- secondary institution.
Then in her late 20s, Trueman obtained her first degree in April 1885. She held a provincial teaching license prior to enrolling in the Bachelor of Arts program, and won prizes in English literature, history, German and political economy while studying at Dalhousie.
She would go on to earn a Masters of Art History from Dalhousie in 1911, and later became the principal of the Halifax Ladies College. She retired at 61 and moved back to the Annapolis Valley, where she died of pneumonia in 1935.