In reviewing the R.V. Harris fonds, held at the Nova Scotia Provincial Archives (MG1 Volume 380), we noted that the following statement was written, “The full history of the stone was written up in “The Suburban” about 1903 or 1904.”
What was The Suburban? Much speculation has taken place regarding what “The Suburban” is or was, but no copy of this article has been revealed as of this date. Some have speculated that it may be a periodical from Chicago. It is not the large Quebec weekly newspaper by the same name, as that publication was not founded until 1963. We believe it to be a weekly publication local to Nova Scotia, as we have found a short lived periodical named “The Suburban News”, published in Rockingham Nova Scotia, a suburb of Halifax, from 1903 until 1907.
We felt it was very important to find this article, as former Oak Island Treasure Hunter H.L. Bowdoin wrote an article, published in the August 19th 1911 edition of Collier’s Magazine, in which he states that he viewed the 90ft Stone at Creighton’s Bookbindery and that there were no markings on the stone, and that they could not have worn off as the staff of the store said, because the stone was too hard.
This article about the 90ft Stone in The Suburban would predate Bowdoin’s viewing of the stone by several years. It is our hope that the article would either confirm or refute Bowdoin’s statement. Some believe that Bowdoin may have been spiteful when he made his claim, as it is said he was denied a desired second attempt at a recovery effort. This missing account of the inscribed stone could very well shed new light on what we have been told about the stone.
We were able to find archived copies of many of the issues, all with accession dates after Harris’s mention of the periodical, meaning that these collections would not have been available to Harris at the time in which he was looking.
We found collections in the following places:
We had been able to view the copies held by Acadia University and we had also reviewed all of the microfilm at the Public Archives by October 22 of 2015. None of the issues reviewed contained the article sought, but it quickly became evident that The Suburban was a weekly publication, issued every Saturday. This gave us an idea of how many issues we had to find.
The issues archived at Harvard University are not available directly to the public, only via inter-library loan. This also has its limitations, as full copies of an issue cannot be requested. They required that the article be identified. Since we did not know which issue actually contains the article, we were at an impasse with Harvard. Also, none of the above collections are complete in and of themselves, so we had to find a way to view all of the collections
In the summer of 2015, about the same time we were chasing this lead, we had the pleasure and good fortune to meet Paul Troutman, an Oak Island researcher and son of Oak Island treasure hunter, James Troutman. Paul's father worked alongside of Robert Dunfield and Dan Blankenship on Oak island back in the mid 1960s. Paul lives in the New England states.
When we mentioned to Paul that we were following up on this lead from R. V. Harris' research papers, but had hit a hurdle with Harvard. Paul offered to see what he could do about gaining access to the collection at that university. He recognized the importance of trying to find this full history of the 90 foot stone, and began what turned out to be a time consuming quest to gain access and review the collection at Harvard University. Paul had to first obtain a time limited visitors pass which involved about the same level of effort as getting your passport approved does. He was required to get someone to vouch for him and submit an application, which had to be approved before he would be granted a pass. This accomplished after a long wait, he then spent most weekends, for over three months, driving several hours each way, back and forth between his home and the Harvard archives. During his visits he scanned their issues of The Suburban. During this time, our hopes rose high several times when mention of Oak Island was found. For example, the cover for the June 16th 1906 issue looked very promising.
Despite the cover photo, which is valuable in its own right, the issue did not contain the article on the full history of the 90 Foot Stone. A Halloween ghost story that involved Oak Island was found in one issue, and several different Oak Island photos were found, but we never found the article sought.
The Suburban issues contain a wealth of Nova Scotian history, some of which we have never seen published elsewhere. It would provide historical researchers on other Nova Scotian topics with a great source of information on all corners of the province, so it is with great enthusiasm that we get to tell you that Paul Troutman has generously provided the Public Archives of Nova Scotia with a complete copy of the issues he laboriously scanned, making this rare resource available to all researchers. Thanks Paul!
As often happens when chasing down a lead, the end goal is not achieved, but in this case at least some minor Oak Island discoveries were made, and a huge amount of general history has been made more widely available. We have accounted for every regularly issued Saturday edition. We did find mention of one special business edition, which was released on a day other than a Saturday, so there remains a possibility that there is more than one special edition of The Suburban that was printed, and that they are out there somewhere waiting to be discovered.
The search for the Full History of the 90 Foot Stone article continues, so please keep your eye out for issues of The Suburban and give them a quick review, because you might just stumble across a special edition that hasn't been discovered yet.
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
From The Blockhouse
is published by Blockhouse Investigations and oakislandcompendium.ca
in Nova Scotia, Canada
Editors and Chief Correspondents
Kelly W. Hancock, CD
John Wonnacott, P. Eng.
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