from “History of Tidnish Bridge” by Pearl MacD.Atkins., printed in the Amherst Citizen, dated Saturday, January 4, 1986.
(The late Pearl MacD.Atkins, a long time resident of Tidnish Bridge wrote this story back in 1956. Mrs. Atkins, a one time correspondent of the Amherst Daily News, passed away early in October , but her historical writings will always be remembered.):171
“The community of Tidnish Bridge lies between Upper Tidnish, N.B., and Lower Tidnish, N.S. To the north is the bay (Verte) and Tidnish Head. South is the area of Tidnish River, so called from the river winding in from the bay, whose north bank, from its mouth to the bridge, serves a part of the provincial boundary.
It has a unique situation, as it lies partly in each of the town provinces, but this division has little effect on the ordinary operation of it's affairs and in most cases, it carries on as if it were situated wholly in one or the other. As for instance, children from the New Brunswick part attend, the Nova Scotia elementary school on the Tyndal Road, while Nova Scotia pupils pass through a portion of New Brusnwick in order to reach it. Residents of the Nova Scotian half attend and help support the only church, which is on the New Brunswick side.
To the passerby, it is apparently a farming community, but, with a few exceptions, farming is only carried on as a small sideline, or not at all. Most of the male residents are engaged in other businesses and occupations and many commute daily to their employment in Amherst or elsewhere.
Like many other places in this country, the name Tidnish is of Indian origin, said to signify "A Paddle". Occasionally it is confused with the Prince Edward Island place name of Tignish, and mail addressed to "Tin-dish", has been received here.
Prior to the coming of the first white settlers, a large Mic Mac Indian encampment was at Tidnish Head, near what is now Jackson's Point where the summer home of Lorne Coates is located, and remained there for years after. However, after buying the hatchet with such great ceremony in Halifax in 1764, the MicMacs had ceased to be openly hostile towards the white and were no longer to be feared. Besides this camp, the burial place of all the Indians of this area was also at Tidnish Head.
The exact time of the first white settlement of the locality is uncertain, but it is thought to have been about 1880. It was made by Charles Chappell. His great-great-grandfather had emigrated from England to New England in 1634. His father, and grandfather, Eliphalet and Jabez Chappell came from New London, Conn., to the Baie Verte region in 1763. (Presumably on Governor Lawrence's proclamations after the expulsion of the Acadians). There they were granted land and there Charles was born. His mother had been a Miss Sohmers, of one of the families of Pennsylvanian Dutch, who were the early settlers of the Moncton area. He was one of a family of ten children whose numerous descendents and their connections form such a large percentage of the population of Baie Verte and surrouding areas today. "The Chappells were a prominent family there for years and had a good record" is noted in old accounts of the vicinity, preserved in Fredericton.
One day, near the beginning of the last century, young Charles Chappell came across the water from Baie Verte and rowed his boat into the Tidnish river, which then ran through unbroken forest. Landing, he blazed his way up through hemlock trees so huge that he could barely pass between them, until he came to the top of the slope and the site presently occupied by his great grandson, Fred N. Chappell, which he eventually purchased. Here he felled trees and built himself a log cabin, somewhat to the left of the present large house, which was not built until about 1835 and is now the oldest house in the community. From seed carried in his pockets, Charles planted his first grain patch. Later, he built a dam and water powered saw-mill in a creek to the rear of the homestead, where boards were sawn to build a small frame house to replace the log cabin; and also for at least a dozen of the first houses of subsequent settlers, the frames all being hand-hewn.
In 1809, Charles Chappell was granted a tract of land, comprising some 300 acres, which including what he was settled on, gave him 350 acres. This grant embraced all the land along the lower part of the river, and extended to, and also included what is now the late Frank Bugley property and some of the present W.G. MacGlashen land. Today, there is estimated to be over a score of homes and several summer cottages on that acreage. In 1821, 300 acres on Goose River (Linden) were also granted to Charles Chappell, but nothing seems known of this by now.
Two of Charles' five brothers also settled here, but later, James' land was further up the river, and his home was built on the present Atkins' property, below the cemetery.
In 1825, Eliphalet (Liffy) Chappell, the younger brother, was granted 200 acres at Tidnish river, between land granted to James, and the Amherst Township boundary. As their children grew up, it is likely all this land was apportioned to them as at one time it is said that almost every house in the community was occupied by a Chappell family.
Another early settler, was Abraham Horton, who came from New York to Baie Verte, in 1783, and later had 500 acres surveyed for him at Upper Tidnish. In 1820, his widow asked for renewal of warrant and grant for this land, on which she had tenants. One of these, Daniel Holmes, together with Samuel Holsted, Jr., had land surveyed for themselves. None of these names are known here today.
Charles Chappell married Miss Eleanor Thompson, and in the period, 1803-27, his family of 12 children was born. Of these, one son, William Burton, remained at the old homestead and raised his family there. His son, Burton, in turn, did likewise. The latter was the father of Fred N. Chappell, George M. and Claude Chappell and Mrs. Harry Davidson, all now living in the community. Great-grandchildren of the first Burton, now living here, are J. Burton, Aubrey, Carl, Keith and Audrey Chappell; William MacGlashen, and his sister, Mrs. George B. Fullerton; Sherman Davidson, and his sister, Mrs. Murray Fullerton. Children of all these, who have them comprise the sixth generation, while those of J. Burton's daughter, Mrs. Roger Chapman, are the seventh in direct line, born in this country.
Charles Chappell's daughter, Melinda married Thompson Brundage. Their son was the father of Mrs. R.B. Davidson, whose son Norman, and daughter, Mrs. Otis Baxter, who live here, also are great-great-grandchildren. Another daughter, Mary Thompson Chappell, married James MacKay. Their son, Ephraim, was the father of the late James W. MacKay, so that his son, Neil, is yet another great-great-grandson. Many other descendents of these three, live elesewhere, as do also those of the rest of Charles' family. Inter-marriages with other families has put Chappell blood in the viens of a good number of present-day residents with other names.
There were many Indians around the country during the early pioneer days. Although not war-like, they were sometimes sly and treacherous, and delighted in pestering the settlers by setting fire to their log "Snake" fences and perpetrating other similar tricks, since scalping had "gone out". Charles Chappell, who was said to have worn his hair in shoulder-length curls, once has a set-to with the chief, who indicated during the scuffle that he had not quite lost the old urge or his touch with a scalplock, by getting a firm hold of Mr. Chappell's and exclaiming gloatingly what a "heap fine scalp" it would make! However, the latter managed to break clear before the chief's urge overcame him. On the whole, the two seem to have got on fairly well, as they often went goose and duck shooting together along the shore.
The pioneers had plenty of hard work and hardship, few conveniences, and no doctors or hospitals, in emergencies, but they seem to have taken everything in their stride. As an example of the fortitude and nonchalance with which they faced the vicissitudes of life in those earlier days, there is the story of the old-time Chappell, who, while employed in the woods, had the misfortune to break a leg. It was a clean break between knee and ankle, so his compansions set it by pulling on his shoulders and foot until the broken bones fitted together. Next, with wool from the sheepskins used to sit on while teaming, the limb was well padded and wrapped. Then the hoops were removed from a barrel, the staves bound around the wooly dressing and the job of the imprompt surgeons was completed. Nothing daunted by his mishap, the patient announced that he was "still good for teaming," he was assisted to mount his load, and continued from where he had been interrupted. The broken bone knitted perfectly and he never lost a day!...”171