VIETH (Veith), ADOLPHUS CHRISTOPH, army and militia officer and office holder; b. 12 June 1754 in Niedergandern (Federal Republic of Germany), youngest son of Johann Ludwig Vieth, a local official, and his second wife, Anna Christina Vormitter, a pastor’s daughter; m. 18 Jan. 1782 in Halifax, Anna Dorothea Brehm, daughter of Georg Philipp Brehm of that town, and they had 12 children; d. there 25 Aug. 1835.
Adolphus Christoph Vieth first appears in North American records in April 1777, when he was appointed ensign in the Hessian garrison regiment of von Stein, then in New York. The following year Vieth was promoted second lieutenant in the unit, now renamed Regiment von Seitz and stationed in Halifax, and he became a lieutenant in 1781. For marrying without permission, Vieth was arrested and demoted in 1782. The regiment left Nova Scotia in June 1783, but he remained behind and retired from the army two months later. In recognition of his wartime service he received a grant of 600 acres on the Halifax-Lunenburg road.
Although Halifax had been the home of several dozen German families since the 1750s, the arrival of Hessian officers and loyalists sparked the formation of the High German Society in February 1786. Vieth was secretary of this body in 1791, when it apparently was discontinued because of the departure of many of its key members. Thereafter Vieth channelled his energies into a masonic lodge, of which he was grand secretary in 1815.
Vieth’s principal employment in Halifax was as a commissariat official. He began in 1796 as first clerk in the army accounts department, then in December 1811 was promoted deputy assistant commissary general, and in July 1821 assistant commissary general, before retiring in 1830. He also served as a first lieutenant and adjutant, then as a captain, in the 1st Halifax Militia Regiment. In his later years, his half pay and the income from his considerable local property supported him and his large family. Between 1819 and 1835, Vieth’s Halifax property had appreciated in assessed value from £400 to £1,100, a substantial amount for that era.
Vieth was active in St George’s Anglican Church, the successor to the German congregation of the so-called little Dutch church in Halifax [see George Wright*]. In 1800 he was deputized to accept tenders to construct St George’s Round Church, and was receiver of the pew rentals in 1811 and 1812. In 1827 Vieth was one of a group which petitioned successfully to have St Paul’s parish divided in two, the northern half to belong to St George’s.
What makes Vieth unique in Nova Scotia was his enjoyment of feudal rights or fiefs in Germany. He held certain privileges in the Hanoverian lands of Calenberg which allowed him to receive taxes collected there on corn and grain. Moreover, he was invested several times (the last being in 1824) in the Hessian fief of von Bodenhausen, which had only a nominal annual value but did bestow a claim to minor German nobility. Despite repeated urgings from Europe, his sons allowed these rights to lapse after his death.
Vieth’s claim to attention is that he typifies the more prominent members of the Halifax German community about the turn of the 19th century. He continued a Germanic presence among the vestry and wardens of St George’s when the Lutheran and German character of that congregation was becoming Anglican and English. He belonged to a civil service family of Hesse and Hanover, and exemplified the honourable and competent aspects of such people in Nova Scotia. In short, Vieth is not exciting for what he did, but for what he was.
Halifax County Registry of Deeds (Halifax), Deeds, 29: ff.298, 302, 310, 321, 325, 329, 333. PANS, MG 100, 242, no.29H; RG 1, 140: 309; 172: 147; 223, doc.37. Pfarrant, Reckershausen/Niedergandern (Friedland, Federal Republic of Germany), Lutheran church records of the parishes of Reckershausen and Niedergandern. “Nova Scotia state papers,” PAC Report, 1946: 136. Novascotian, or Colonial Herald, 27 Aug. 1835. Nova-Scotia Royal Gazette, 7 Jan. 1800. Hessische Truppen im amerikanischen Unabhängigkeitskrieg (HETRINA): Index nach Familiennamen, comp. E. G. Franz et al. (5v., Marburg, Federal Republic of Germany, 1972–76), 4. Joachim Lampe, Aristokratie, Hofadel and Staatspatriziat in Kurhessen; die Lebenskreise der hœheren Beamten an den kurhannoverschen Zentralund Hofbehœrden, 1714–1760 (2v., Göttingen, Federal Republic of Germany, 1963). N.S., Provincial Museum, Report (Halifax), 1923: 25.