Creelman Family of Nova Scotia

Last update of page: 25 March 2012.

The Creelman family enters into my Family Reunion through Rachel Creelman, born about 1822, who married James Graham, my great-great-grandfather. I have done very little research myself on this branch of the family. The information below, unless noted otherwise, comes from Miller’s book on the genealogical history of Colchester County.

The Creelman family name was apparently originally Ashmore. The Ashmores had a contract for carrying provisions to convicts and they did this by means of creels carried on horseback, thus they became known as Creelmans. Ashmore was the middle name of the first known Creelman as noted below and most recently appeared as the middle name of my grandfather Paul Ashmore Graham.

Family members are known going back three generations from Rachel Creelman:


Samuel Creelman, b. abt 1728 --- m. --- Isabell Flemming


Samuel Creelman, b. abt 1751 --- m. --- Mary Campbell


William Creelman, b. 1784 --- m. --- Hannah Tupper


James Graham, b. 1808 --- m. --- Rachel Creelman, b. 1822


Frank Graham, b. 1856 --- m. --- Mary Muir


Paul Graham, b. 1894 --- m. --- Mildred Maxwell


William Graham, b. 1929 --- m. --- Margaret Barclay (see Danes)


Douglas J. Graham, b. 1958 --- m. --- France Marcoux


Camille, b. 1992 and Stéphanie Graham, b. 1994

Samuel Creelman, b. abt 1728

The first known Creelman in our family line is Samuel Ashmore Creelman, born in Ireland in about 1728. I note that the many internet databases that refer to him name him only as Samuel Creelman without the Ashmore, so I am now unsure of the middle name (did this come from Miller’s book?). He married in Ireland, i about 1748, to Isabell Flemming. They emigrated with four children to Nova Scotia and arrived in Halifax in the fall of 1761. The following quote from Miller’s book deals with their early days:

“They went to Lunenberg that fall, where they spent a hard winter, subsisting mostly on the eels they caught. In the spring of the year 1762, they returned to Halifax and he worked that summer at this trade; and, in the fall, he removed to Cumberland. When he was leaving Halifax he raised his hands and voice exclaiming against the town, as the most wicked place that he ever beheld. He remained in Cumberland until the fall of the year 1771, or the spring of 1772, when he removed and settled at the Black Rock, on the west end of the Township of Truro. When he was removing with his family from Cumberland, he took passage in a vessel with Captain Lockard. When they arrived, the were landed on the point, on the east side of Shubenacadie River. This point is known by the name of Lockard’s Point ever since. He purchased a lot of land that was laid off for David Archibald, Esq., as five hundred acres, extending from the point before mentioned four miles up the Shubenacadie, and fronting on the River. Also another lot, the same size, adjoining the first lot, and on the east side of it. On these lots he continued to reside the remainder of his days. He died at his son Matthew’s house, which place is now called Princeport, about the year 1810. His wife died several years before. They were buried near the house of Mr. James Davis, about one mile from the Black Rock.”

Samuel and Isabell had six children, covered in the next section.

Samuel Creelman, b. abt 1751, and his Siblings

The six children of Samuel Ashmore Creelman and Isabell Flemming were the following:

1) Margaret, born in Ireland in 1749. In 1791 she married Samuel Smith who had just come from England. They settled on a farm at Middle Stewiacke. She died childless at the house of Mr. James Norris of Princeport in December 1836, aged 87. Samuel Smith died about 1840.**

2) Samuel Creelman, born in Ireland in about 1751. He married Mary Campbell, b. abt 1761, of Londonderry, NS in about 1775. Nothin ore is known of the Campbell family. They moved to Upper Stewiacke in 1786 and settled on the farm that was later owned by three of his sons (William, John, and Andrew). He built the first mill on the brook on the south side of the river. He built his first house on the interval of the Stewiacke river but later built and moved into a second house where he died in October 1835. His wife died 20 August 1831. They had 12 children who are dealt with in the following section.

3) Francis, b. in 1759, was only two when his parents emigrated. He married Esther Campbell, b. 1761 of Londonderry, NS in about 1782. She was very likely a sister of the above Mary Campbell. They lived on his father’s farm at the Black Rock until 1792 when he exchanged farms with Robert Forbes and moved across the bay to Debert. In 1806 he exchanged farms again. This time he traded with James Johnson, Jr., and moved to Otterbrook, Stewiacke where he stayed the rest of his life. He died 23 July 1836 and his wife died 24 February 1833. They had seven children who are dealt with in detail in Miller’s book.

4) Nancy, b. in January 1761 in Ireland was only a few months old when her parents emigrated to Nova Scotia. In 1781 she m. William Pollock of Stewiacke. They settled on a farm at Lower Stewiacke where she died suddenly in August 1786, aged 25. He died 18 January 1846. They had two children.

5) Matthew, b. in December 1762 in Cumberland. In 1791 he m. Nancy Knox of Londonderry, NS. They settled on a part of his father’s land, about three miles up the Shubenacadie River, now called Princeport. They stayed there all their lives. He died 12 August 1835 and she died 18 March 1844. They had 5 children.

6) Ann, b. in Cumberland in 1765. She m. Robert Wilson, a Scotchman. They had one daughter then Robert died so she remarried to Joseph Marshal. They had 4 sons and a daughter. They lived on a farm in Middle Stewiacke. She died in March 1808 and he died in October 1844. The child by the first marriage was Isabell, b. 1789. In 1808 she m. Murdock Frame of Middle Stewiacke. They had 6 sons and 2 daughters. She died 5 May 1866 and he died in August 1838. One of Isabell’s sons, named James, m. Eleanor, a daughter of the Rev. Hugh Graham (see Graham chapter).

William Creelman, b. 1784, and his Siblings

The 12 children of Samuel Creelman and Mary Campbell were the following:

1) Isabella (Isabella in (1), Isabell according to Miller) Creelman, b. 1777. In 1796 she m. the Rev. Duncan Ross, b. 1769, of the West River of Pictou. He died 25 October 1834 and she died in May 1845 after having nine sons and six daughters.

One of their sons was James Ross, 28 July 1811 at West River, Pictou County. He m. 27 September 1838 to Isabella, daughter of William Matheson. He died 15 March 1886 at Dartmouth, NS. He was a prominent Presbyterian minister, editor, and educator, serving for 22 years as President of Dartmouth College. There is an entry on him in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (1).

2) Esther, b. 1779. About 1797 she m. George, son of James Fulton and Margaret Campbell of Bass River. They settled on a farm on the south side of the Stewiacke River and had 6 sons and 3 daughters. They both lived there till their deaths, she dying on 4 June 1821. In 1822 he remarried to Ann, daughter of Joh and Mary Fulton and widow of Eddy Tupper (see Tupper chapter). George Fulton died in February 1858.

3) James, b. 2 November 1781. He m. Margaret Graham (not known if she was related to our Grahams from that area) of Pictou in 1803. He settled on a farm near the Springside Church where he lived the rest of his life, dying 12 September 1863. He was married three times and had children with each wife. His first wife died 25 January 1812 and in June 1814 he remarried to Margaret McGill of the West River of Pictou. She only lived till 22 November 1820 so he remarried in February 1822 to Martha, daughter of Charles Cox and Agnes Thomson. Martha died 17 January 1856. Marta was a sister of one of James’ son-in-laws. A few children of note were:

1. David Creelman (from the first marriage), b. 16 September 1804. He m. Agnes Graham, daughter of William and a niece of the Rev. Hugh Graham (see Graham chapter). They lived in Halifax with a family of 5 sons and 3 daughters.
Mary Campbell, b. 6 June 1806. In 1830 she m Robison Cox, son of Charles Cox and Agnes Thomson. They had 5 sons and 5 daughters and he died in November 1871.

2. James Campbell Creelman (from the third marriage), b. 15 December 1825. In 1849 he m. Margaret, daughter of John Gammell and Sarah Tupper (see Tupper chapter). They had one son and one daughter. They moved to Australia and thence to the “Fejee Islands”. Apparently there was trouble with the natives, as James was part of the crew of the Challenge of H. M. Australian Fleet under Commodore Lambert that was sent to subdue them. Lambert asked James to be pilot of a 90 man group that did battle with the natives. He received two gunshot wounds and four days later on 3 August 1868 he died. His wife died 3 December 1852.

4) William Creelman, b. 17 April 1784. He married Hannah Tupper (see Tupper chapter), b. 1787, on 20 January 1808. He inherited a part of his father’s farm where he spent the remainder of his life. He died 9 September 1857 and Hannah died 27 September 1865.

William was a dedicated believer in temperance. In January 1833 he was the bearer of a petition signed “by a large number of persons from the different parts of the country” which he delivered to the Court of Sessions for the County of Colchester. The petition asked the Court to refuse to issue liquor licenses. Apparently, this bothered the judge considerably, obviously not a temperance man, especially since a majority of the justices voted in support of the petition. William and Hannah’s children are dealt with in the next section.

5) Hannah, b. 1786. She m. John McDonald of Pictou in 1803 and they had 6 sons and 3 daughters.

6) Samuel, b. 1788. In October 1810 he m Margaret, b. 1793, daughter of James Fulton and Margaret Campbell of Bass River. They settled on a farm where Samuel died 11 October 1817 aged 29. His widow remarried to John Rutherford of Middle Stewiacke but she died on 10 February 1824. They had 4 children.

7) John, b. 30 August 1790. On 8 December 1812 he married Margaret, daughter of James Rutherford and Elizabeth Johnson. He inherited a part of his father’s farm. She died on 3 June 1830 so he remarried to Susan Johnson of the Lower Village of Truro on 12 April 1831. He died on 5 July 1855 after fathering 19 children (which produced 88 grandchildren!). Details on all his descendants are in Miller’s book.

8) Janet, b. 1792. She m. Francis Fulton of Bass River in October 1810 and they had 3 sons and 4 daughters. He died in January 1867.

9) Ann, b. 1794. She m. on 18 November 1813 to James Fulton Johnson and they had 2 sons and 1 daughter. He died on 14 September 1818 so she remarried to James Roddick, a recent immigrant from Scotland. They settled on the West River of Pictou where they both died.

10) Mary, b. 1796. She m. John Dichman of Musquodoboit in 1815 and they had 6 sons and 6 daughters. She died 9 April 1865 and he died 1 May 1865.

11) Francis, b. 1798. He m. on 25 November 1820 to Esther, daughter of John Fulton and Esther Crow of Bass River. Francis and Ether settled at Bass River and had 9 children.

12) Andrew, b. 23 January 1802, was the youngest sibling of William Creelman. On 28 December 1824 he married Susan Johnson, b. 1801, daughter of James Johnson and Ann Fulton. They settled on a part of his father’s farm but he later exchanged farms with his cousin Matthew Creelman and moved to Otterbrook. Some time later they moved to the Newton Mills where he died 15 July 1867 and she died 11 January 1863. They had 9 children:

Rachel Creelman, b. 1822, and Siblings

The 8 children of William Creelman and Hannah Tupper were the following:

1) Samuel Creelman, b. 19 November 1808 in Upper Stewiacke Township. He m. Elizabeth Elliott Ellis on 11 February 1834. Samuel represented the County of Colchester in the Nova Scotian House of Assembly from 1847 to 1851 and from 1851 to 1855 he represented the South District of Colchester. From 1860 to at least 1873 he was a member of Nova Scotia’s Legislative Council. They had no children. He died 5 June 1891 at his farm Upper Stewiacke.

Samuel was important in Nova Scotia and played an important role in Confederation. There is a entry for him in the on-line Dictionary of Canadian Biography which can be consulted for further details. A part of this biography is as follows:

“Samuel Creelman was initially a Liberal and had campaigned for responsible government with Joseph Howe and his associates in the 1840s. However, he fully supported confederation, departing from Howe on this issue. After confederation, he became a Liberal-Conservative, and he was the recognized leader of the opposition in the Legislative Council until Simon Hugh Holmes’ Liberal-Conservatives came to power in 1878, when he joined the government.”

2) Eliakim, b. 25 September 1811. He m. Grizell Ellis on 19 December 1836 and they had 2 sons and 5 daughters.

3) Elizabeth, b. 18 November 1813. She m. David A. Fraser, second son of William and Eleanor Fraser of the Middle River of Pictou on 11 February 1834. They lived in Truro.

4) Robert, b. 12 January 1816. On 29 January 1841, he m. Susan, b. 1818, 4th daughter of William Archibald and Susan Putnam and a granddaughter of John Archibald, 2nd (see Archibald chapter). Robert was a tanner. They had 7 sons and 8 daughters but 8 children died young. As the Manager of the Truro Company he was involved in the search for hidden treasure at Oak Island, NS, a fruitless search that has been going on for 150 years. See the fascinating history at (2); R. Creelman is mentioned in the Appendix on Flood Tunnel Claims. The Truro Company which did an excavation in 1849. See also the Wikipedia entry.

5) Mary Ann, b. 5 June 1820. She m. John Kelly on 3 May 1849 and they moved to Halifax.

6) Rachel Creelman, b. 7 October 1822. On 4 March 1845, she m. James Graham. See the Graham chapter for more details and for their children. They had 7 children, one of whom was Frank Graham. She died in 1894. We know nothing else of Rachel.

7) Jane, b. 13 April 1827. She m. Adam McLeod 3 May 1860 and had 2 daughters.

8) William, b. 13 July 1828. In February 1851 he married Sarah, daughter of Andrew Cox and Nancy Thomson. They had 4 sons and 3 daughters. William was one of the two men who were the first to start a spinning machine in Stewiacke, which they did in 1862.


Most of the text above comes from the original 1982 version of A Family Reunion. That text relied exclusively on Miller’s book:

Miller, Thomas. 1873. Historical and Genealogical Record of the First Settlers of Colchester County. Halifax, N.S. Halifax, A. & W. MacKinlay (facsimile edition by Mika Studio, Belleville, Ontario, 1972).

In perusing various on-line databases, it seems that all refer to the same Miller book and there seems to have been a dearth of independent research on the family. This book apparently contains many errors so much of the information probably needs to be reverified through original sources. Subsequently, I have added some new information (all sources noted and footnoted) but have not really attempted to do any in-depth or new research on the family.


(1) Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online (, checked March 2012.
(2) History, Hoax and Hype:
Oak Island Legend (

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