Unusual find from sewer project


Published on February 15, 2017

These are some of the bottles that were found on Nancy Allen’s property during an excavation in October 2015. The bottles date back to the late 1800s, prior to the construction of her home in 1904. She has given them to the Cumberland County Museum.

©Natasha Richard - For TC Media

AMHERST, N.S. – One person’s trash is often another’s treasure.

More than a century ago, someone threw a number of glass bottles into the garbage – probably not thinking they’d later be unearthed as a piece of Amherst’s history.

They retrieved some of the ones they could. We were able to salvage a number of them, but we were at the point where we couldn’t take anymore stuff. So, we took them to the museum to see if they could identify them. Nancy Allen

“Sometimes you never know what you’re going to find,” Nancy Allen said.

In October 2015, after the town rebuilt Victoria Street, there was a problem with the sewer line leading into her home on the corner of Victoria and North Adelaide Street. When the yard was dug up to fix the problem, one of the contractors spotted a number of glass items buried in the mud.

“They retrieved some of the ones they could,” said Allen, who is a history buff and loves collecting antiques. “We were able to salvage a number of them, but we were at the point where we couldn’t take anymore stuff. So, we took them to the museum to see if they could identify them.”

Allen has lived in her home for close to 70 years. The house was built in 1904 and she had no idea the bottles where there, nor did she know how they got there.

“It was part of the property for the house next door,” she said. “My guess is the people living in the house at that time just buried their trash. It’s long before North Adelaide Street came into being.”

She said there were a lot of bottles there, but many of them were broken and she really didn’t want to climb into the hole to dig for more.

“We took what we could,” she said.

After soaking the bottles in water and wiping off the mud and dirt encrusted on them, she was able to find names inscribed on some of them. But, she said she had no idea who the names on the bottles were, adding they were from known drug stores or beverage producers in Amherst.

The Cumberland County Museum has identified one of the bottles. Curator Natasha Richard said one of the bottles had the name Johann Hoff on it. It was a malt or beer bottle that was used from the 1880s to 1920s.

She said some of the other bottles may have been used for medications, ink, and cooking and baking extracts.

She’s hoping the museum will be able to include the bottles in a future exhibit.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell