Do you hold the key to unlocking the mystery of a Canadian mayor with links to Hartlepool?

Springhill Mine - scene of an explosion which killed 125 pitmen in 1891.
Springhill Mine - scene of an explosion which killed 125 pitmen in 1891.

An appeal has been launched to trace relatives of a miner with Hartlepool links who was elected mayor of a Canadian town.

William Hall initially emigrated to America with son George in 1854. He later moved to Springhill, Nova Scotia - where he found a new role in politics.

William Hall.

William Hall.

In 1891, just months after 125 pitmen were killed in an explosion at Springhill, William returned to England to learn about pioneering mine safety measures.

Now his great-great-grandson Murray Scott is to follow in his footsteps by visiting next month - and today appealed for long-lost relatives to get in touch.

“We live in Springhill and it would be the highlight of our trip to if we could meet up with any of William’s descendants,” said Linda, Murray’s wife.

“William was extremely well respected for his knowledge of mining procedures, and also in the political field - being elected Mayor of Springhill three times.”

William died in Springhill in 1907. Making contact with his English relations would be a highlight of our trip to the UK.

Linda Scott, wife of Murray Scott - the great-great-grandson of Canadian mayor William Hall.

Mystery surrounds the exact place of William’s birth in February 1832 - with possibilities including Hartlepool, Haswell, Thornley and South Hetton.

He married his first wife, Jane, in County Durham between 1848 and 1852. Their son, George, was born in 1853 - possibly at Easington, Hartlepool or Durham.

It is known, however, that William had several friends in the Hartlepool area - as this was reported in a press article focussing on his 1891 visit to England.

“There are several William and George Halls who have birth dates at around the same time, so it makes it difficult trying to trace the correct ones,” said Linda.

“But, hopefully, someone will recognise the names - and the Canada link. Unfortunately, we don’t know the maiden name of William’s wife Jane either.”

William and George left England shortly after Jane’s death, making a fresh start in Pennsylvania in 1854.

Four years later, they moved to Pictou County, Nova Scotia, where William worked his way up from roadman to manager of the Albion Mines by 1873.

His fresh start brought fresh love. In 1864 William married Pictou County-born Catherine Matheson, and the couple went on to have seven children.

“It is believed William left Albion Mines in May 1873 to become a proprietor of Springhill Mine. He retired in 1889 and went into local politics,” said Linda.

“In February 1891 he was elected Mayor of Springhill. The explosion occurred shortly afterwards - the scale of which was unprecedented in Canadian history.”

William, by now in his late 50s, “acted a noble part” during rescue efforts following the disaster - and also helped provide relief for survivors.

“William died in Springhill in 1907. Making contact with his English relations would be a highlight of our trip to the UK,” said Linda.

* Are you related to William? Contact Linda via email at sarah.stoner@jpress.co.uk