“Loyalist Trails” 2006-10 March 5, 2006

In this issue:
Conference 2006: “Salute to York” welcoming reception
“Let Loose our Library” Challenge by Vancouver Branch
Donation to Library
Sir John Johnson Vault Project
Nelles Family Additional Notes
Map of Adolphustown area and Dorland family
First Man hanged in Brockville, Nov. 17, 1853
WHITE SAVAGE: William Johnson and the Invention of America
      + John Chambers and Robert Land


Conference 2006: “Salute to York” welcoming reception

Join your peers for the afternoon and evening welcoming reception. Various branches and the promotions committee will be displaying their wares and historical information (displays will ONLY be available this one day, and then during the Annual General Meeting to a lesser degree). During the evening there will networking and presentations.

Although Toronto had a long history, the arrival of Simcoe and rebirth as York brought a new significance as the capital of Upper Canada. Through its history, there have been many times of historical significance, one being the Mackenzie Rebellion.

Our featured presentation, by Bruce Bell, will be “the Rebellion of 1837 and the history of the Bond Head Inn” that once stood on the corner of Church and Colborne Streets just south of King Street. It was at the Bond Head Inn (now a parking lot) where some of the government forces gathered the night before the attack on Montgomery’s Inn the week of December 5, 1837. The Bond Head Inn named for Sir Francis (of course) went on to become (for most of the 19th century) the unofficial watering hole for the Tory party in Toronto and the scene of many dinners and celebrations after the Orange walks every July 12th.

Bruce Bell, the popular history columnist for the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Community Bulletin, is also an Award winning playwright, actor, standup comedian and the honourary curator of the most photographed building in the city of Toronto, the historic Gooderham Building better known as the Flatiron. Bruce’s insights into Toronto’s past have brought him legions of fans that not only read his monthly column but also follow him around the old downtown core as he leads them on historic walking tours.

Sudbury born Bruce moved to Toronto as a teenager in 1972 where he made his stage debut at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in 1973. Bruce began writing plays as far back as 1982, and was awarded a Year 2000 Toronto Arts Council Award for playwriting. Bruce has been appointed the Official Historian of historic St. Lawrence Hall, official historian of Toronto’s famed King Edward Hotel, Honourary Historian of the Hockey Hall of Fame building in Toronto, and serves on the board of The Town of York Historical Society.

“Let Loose our Library” Challenge by Vancouver Branch

Vancouver Branch challenges all other UEL Branches to match its donation goal of $1000.00 to “buy” one bookcase. Each dollar donated by a Vancouver Branch member is being matched by the Branch up to $500.00.


…Mary Anne Bethune, President, Vancouver Branch

Donation to Library

Loyalist Captain Jonathan Williams and Maria “Mary” Titus, Doris Ann Lemon UE, Lemon Tree Publishing, Waterloo ON, 2005. ISBN 0-9698189-1-2 Hard cover, 339 p

Thanks to donor Doris Ann Lemon UE

Sir John Johnson Vault Project

(Over the next while, hopefully before the UELAC Conference, a description of the Sir John Johnson Branch project to restore the vault where Sir John and others were buried will be completed and posted to our Branch Projects section of the web site. )

Nicole Poulin, Michel Daunes, Jean-Paul Lasnier, Claude Neveu, Dick Eldridge, Charles Harbec, Raymond Ostiguy, and I met in Ste Brigide at the home of Claude Neveu on Monday, January 30, 2006.

We learned that CIME the new owner of the Verger Monnoir (Centre Interpretative de la Montagne et de l’Environment), pronounced SIM, moved into the house at Verger Monnoir where the vault is located. The main floor of the building will now house their offices. They are interested in the preservation of the mountain and will be pleased to negotiate with us. We will meet them in their office on the site very soon.

Raymond Ostiguy, a member of Sir John Johnson Branch and an Ottawa Lawyer whose ancestors lived on Mount Johnson, has done a great deal of research into the Johnson deeds and documents. We feel that at last progress will be made in the restoration of the vault.

On Thursday, February 23, 2006 Jean-Paul Lasnier, president of the vault restoration committee, died. Since, in his younger days, he had been mayor of Saint Brigide for more than 20 years there will be a civic funeral on Monday or Tuesday.

Although Jean-Paul Lasnier had been hospitalized for 45 days in December and January and was still frail, he attended our meeting in Ste. Brigide on January 27, 2006.

Jean-Paul Lasnier owned the construction company that the owner of the Verger Monnoir had hired to bulldoze the vault. Mr. Lasnier said that he later realized that bulldozing the vault was the worst mistake of his life and he wanted to make amends for his error. Fortunately, he lived to see that the Verger Monnoir had been bought by CIME and that the restoration will process will continue.

A photo that included Jean-Paul Lasnier, Mr. Papineau and the bulldozer that was used to demolish the Johnson Vault was prominently displayed in the Funeral Parlors.

…Adelaide Lanktree UE, President, Sir John Johnson Centennial Branch

Sorry to hear that Mr. Lasnier has gone, but I am sure he left the world satisfied that he had done his utmost to make amends for what he regarded as his greatest mistake in life. We should all try to follow his example and if we can, repair damage or injuries we cause, intentionally or (more often) unintentionally, as we pass through this world.

We Loyalist descendents certainly owe Jean-Paul a debt of gratitude for his conscientiousness in trying to rescue from oblivion an important relic of one of our great families and our proud heritage.”

…Robert Wilkins UE, President of Heritage Branch UELAC, Branch Member of Sir John Johnson Centennial Branch UELAC

Nelles Family Additional Notes

In reply to “Doris Ward’s Nelles Connections”. She will find her line all documented in the following two books:

– Nellis-Nelles, Immigrants From The Palatinate – 1710 , Volume one, The first Eight Generations, 1997. 1014 pages.

– Nellis – Nelles, Immigrants From The Palatinate 1710, Volume Two, The Ninth to Twelfth Generations and Additions to the First Eight Generations – 2003. 1146 pages.

Compiled by The Nellis and Nelles Family Associations. The Herkimer County Historical Society.

Correspondence and orders may be addressed to : Herkimer County Historical Society, 400 North Main Street, Herkimer, New York 13350

Family Reunions are still held every year in Canada and the United States.

…Marilyn Smith McDonald, UE, DAR, Member of Grand River Branch, Hamilton Branch, and Col. John Butler (Niagara) Branch.

Map of Adolphustown area and Dorland family

I am the editor of a new genealogy by Barbara A. Barth, a writer for the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, now deceased. Many members of the Dorland family were loyalists who moved to Ontario and Adolphustown so we feel it is important to be able to include a map of this region, that would not violate the copyright laws. However, we can’t find one. Can you assist me with this. We, of course, would need permission to use this map and also need the citations so we can correctly cite the map in the book.

Any assistance you can give me would be greatly appreciated. While we have many maps to use of the U.S. we have nothing suitable for Ontario Loyalists.

Judith A. Cassidy

First Man hanged in Brockville, Nov. 17, 1853

Strange things sometimes happened to murderers in Canada West, as Ontario was known 153 years ago. Witness the case of John Simpson who was publicly executed in the jail yard at Brockville on November 17, 1853, less than six months after he had beaten to death John Fell, an Augusta farmer.

Nowadays, (that is, 60 years ago,) Simpson would have been tried, convicted and hanged in secrecy without much ceremony and fuss. But they did things differently with capital prisoners 153 years ago, when an execution – nearly always performed in public – was regarded as a holiday for the entire countryside. On the day fixed for the hanging, farmers from all parts of the surrounding district, joined by many belonging to the town itself, attended the proceedings and watched the hanging from all available points of vantage. And even after the trap had been sprung, and Simpson had expiated his crime, he was not permitted to rest. A group of doctors from Delta Ontario finally secured the body. The young son of one of the doctors drove into the prison yard without question. The body was put in a sack and put under the front seat of the wagon and the lad drove away.

When it reached its destination in Delta, doctors from the surrounding district proceeded to carry out its dissection before an interested audience of students. Portions of the skin were sent away to be tanned. The tanned skin was about one-eighth of an inch in thickness and in texture closely resembles other and more familiar leathers.

The dissection completed, poor Simpson’s skeleton traveled far and wide in the course of the studies of various physicians belonging to the family.

…John Davis, Hamilton Branch, OGS

WHITE SAVAGE: William Johnson and the Invention of America

By Fintan O’Toole. Farrar Straus Giroux. 402 pp. $26

During the time of the Seven Years’ War, when France and Great Britain fought for mastery of North America, he was known as Warraghiyagey — “Chief Much Business” — and painted his face in the brilliant, fierce hues of the Mohawks. But this chief was no Indian at all: He was William Johnson, an Irishman who came to Upstate New York in the late 1730s to work his uncle’s land. In the decades after, he amassed a fortune, loyally served the British Empire, which made him the first baronet of New York, led Indians in battle, sired numerous children by a Native American woman and became so fluent in the protocols of Iroquois culture that he was made a Mohawk sachem, a rare feat for a white man. By the time of his death in 1774, the vastly wealthy Johnson was one of the largest landowners in America.

How, then, did a marginal Irish immigrant emerge as a man of power and influence in the English colonies? In the intriguing if flawed “White Savage,” Fintan O’Toole tracks Johnson’s rise with a wealth of detail, much of it culled from his papers. Although he doesn’t deliver on the overblown promise of his subtitle, O’Toole — critic, journalist and author of “A Traitor’s Kiss,” a biography of playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan — gives us a finely nuanced portrait, always keeping Johnson’s contradictions in view. Johnson was by turns ruthless and compassionate, honorable yet not above dodgy dealings; his natural element was ambiguity. He was a neither-nor, shape-shifting creature who moved between worlds — Catholic and Protestant, Irish and English, Indian and European — without ever quite settling in any of them.

As O’Toole explains, Johnson’s Irish background provides vital clues to his behavior in the New World. He came from a family with close ties to the dispossessed Catholic gentry, who endured a calamitous fall in status as they were pushed aside by the English in the 17th century. Johnson grew up in “a culture that felt itself in danger of extinction.” To get ahead often meant renouncing Catholicism and swearing allegiance to the Church of England, which is exactly what Peter Warren, Johnson’s uncle, did. (Warren was a decorated admiral in the British navy and a big player in the Colonies.)

Johnson was cagier; loud proclamations were not his style. Instead, he engaged in a series of canny trade-offs — cultivating, O’Toole writes, “the equivocator’s skill of telling people what they wanted to hear.” Johnson was a man tormented by status anxiety, and the British Empire gave him, above all, the opportunity to restore his family’s name. After his arrival in New York, Johnson quickly emerged as an honest broker in his dealings with the Mohawks, who vigorously sought out European goods. (To his credit, O’Toole doesn’t portray the Mohawks as hapless victims of imperialism; nor does he romanticize them.) But, O’Toole argues, there was more to the Johnson-Mohawk connection than a mutual interest in trade. Once the proud bulwark of the Iroquois federation, the Mohawks, too, had suffered a precipitous decline in status. In Johnson, they saw a means to gain favored status with the British, who needed Indian allies to press the war against France; in turn, Johnson used the Mohawks to consolidate his power in New York.

There was an aspect of realpolitik to all this, but O’Toole argues that Johnson shared deep spiritual affinities with his Mohawk allies: In their notions of kinship and elaborate rituals of mourning, Johnson saw a reflection of his own Gaelic inheritance, which, however submerged, was an essential part of his being. At the intersection of three cultures, Johnson exploited his position to maximum gain. He was a relentless schemer and often butted heads with competing interests. Quick to feel the sting of condescension, he lashed out at “The Albany Grandees whose Soul and Blood are money.” (Johnson’s rivals gave as good as they got: The ambitious Massachusetts governor sneered that “Brother Warraghiyagey was but an upstart of yesterday.”) Some of his more rigid colleagues chafed at his ease with Iroquois ways, but Johnson’s can-do attitude and martial prowess won him allies in high places.

In 1746-47, as Colonel of the Warriors of the Six Nations, Johnson unleashed raiding parties into Canada to “make the french Smart . . . by taking Scalping & burning them, & their Settlements.” He mastered the techniques of Indian warfare to brutal effect and didn’t flinch from paying for the scalps of women and children. Later, during the Seven Years’ War (1756-63), Johnson distinguished himself in the Battle of Lake George, taking a musket ball in the hip. By sparing the life of a French general, Johnson scored a propaganda coup — his chivalry was both genuine and tactical, showing him in a merciful light. Throughout these conflicts, Johnson served as an arbiter between his Indian allies and the British, trying in vain to broker a fair pact for Iroquois lands after the French were defeated. Still, he enriched himself — and his friends — in a corrupt deal that netted him a large swath of the Ohio River Valley.

At the end of “White Savage,” we are left with a welter of conflicting impressions and unanswered questions about Johnson. How, exactly, did he contribute to the “invention of America”? This seems a throwaway conceit designed to catch the browser’s eye, rather than a serious explanation. O’Toole tantalizes us with possible answers but never arrives at a satisfactory conclusion. In one sense, Johnson forged a unique, multicultural existence that is fascinating to ponder; in other ways, he was anything but a harbinger of the emerging nation. For all his emphasis on Johnson’s fluid identity, O’Toole constantly refers back to an essential core of Irishness that was not forward-looking but wistful, inward, nostalgic. What Johnson tried to create at his grand estate, O’Toole suggests, was a “kind of feudal Irish lordship in the Mohawk valley.” He was out of sympathy with democratic or republican ideals — during the anti-British agitation of the 1760s, he denounced “the clamourous conduct of a few pretended Patriots.” Johnson was going against the tide, and he had the peculiar misfortune to find himself once more on the wrong side of history.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

…submitted by Bill Smy UE


John Chambers and Robert Land

My ancestor, John Chambers, was an American soldier who deserted on May 29,1779. In March of 1779, spies Land and Hicks were apprehended by my ancestor’s military unit. A court martial was held at the Minisink but George Washington sent a messenger to inform the officers that altho Hicks had already escaped, Land should be conveyed to the jail at Easton. In reference to Robert Land, Washington wrote on 9 April 1779 “but as this man is an inhabitant of one of the States by the article of war for trying spies he is not subject to military jurisdiction. You will therefore have him delivered up to the civil authority of the State to which he….”

I know that by some means, Land escaped trial in Easton. Do you have information of the details of that…Did he “jump bail”: was he assisted in escaping; where did he seek shelter after the leaving Easton. I know he escaped the Americans again later when Morden was captured and Robert Land made his way to Canada. Do you have a date for that event? This John Chambers, the American soldier, was my ggggrandfather. By 1805/6 he and his son had migrated to Hamilton, Ontario. His grand daughter, Ann Chambers married 1822, the grandson of Robert Land. I am trying to determine if there was any additional interaction between my ancestor and the escape of Robert Land from the Easton jail.

I would appreciate any detailed information you may provide.

…Carol Chambers Church {cchurch AT voyager DOT net}