“Loyalist Trails” 2007-13: April 1, 2007

In this issue:
“At The End Of The Trail”, UELAC Conference: Did You Know? – more about Windsor Area
Claudius Smith: Loyalist Cowboy of the Ramapos
Book Palatine Hill Becomes a Play
Molly Brant, The Musical, June 27-29 in Kingston
New Book about Jonas Culver: A Rebel Redeemed, by Philip Turner
Nova Scotia Releases Early Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, One Million Historical Names Go Online
“Nipigon to Winnipeg”: A Canoe Voyage through North Western Ontario in 1784 by Edward Umfreville
Loyalist Directory: Cutler, Davis, Frymire and Flewelling
Loyalist Monuments: Shelburne, Birchtown, Bedeque, Fredericton


“At The End Of The Trail”, UELAC Conference: Did You Know? – more about Windsor Area

Father Nicholas Constantin del Halle was a Recollet priest serving Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit. In 1706, he became Detroit’s first known murder victim when killed by a group of Ottawas fleeing Bourgmont’s soldiers.

The first European settlement was established in the early 1700’s. A French fort was built on the Detroit side of the river, and the security of the nearby soldiers encouraged settlements on both sides of the river. In the 1730’s land grants were given to French settlers and ex-military and when the British won the land in 1763 they honoured these land grants. At the time there were several hundred French settlers in the area.

The next wave of settlement came after the American Revolutionary War [1775-1783] when United Empire Loyalists received British land grants.

Established in 1792, Essex County is “the most southerly county in Canada”, and was named for a county in England. Settlement of this area precedes British rule (1763).

The land had been claimed for France in 1615 by Samuel de Champlain.

The 2007 Conference is fast approaching and with the April 1st deadline we would like to assure you that all registrations received the first week of April will still get their fees at the Early Bird prices. So get those forms in and get your room booked at the Holiday Inn Select: http://www.holiday-inn-windsor.com/ and we will see you in 60 days.

…Kimberly Hurst UE, Bicentennial Branch, 2007 Conference Chair, May 31st-June 3rd 2007

Claudius Smith: Loyalist Cowboy of the Ramapos

Claudius Smith was the most infamous of all the loyalist “cowboys”, men who stole livestock to sell for the British.

“I was loyal to my King when the war broke out and I decided my friends and I could best serve the King by bringing his troops food and by making it rough on those families who side with the darned rebels'”.

Smith and his “friends” raided patriot farms and stole cattle in the Ramapo Valley of the Hudson River highlands. This valley was a major route connecting the city of New York to the north. Caves in the nearby mountains made ideal hideouts for this cowboy gang.

The exploits of Claudius Smith and his men made him a legend in his lifetime as well as in the years following the Revolution. Both novels and histories have been written about Smith, including at least one ballad. It begins with the words:

Claudius Smith was a wayward lad

From early youth his ways were bad

And he came to an end that was very sad

They caught him in the valley

And they hung him on the hill

And his skull may be seen in the courthouse still

Claudius was the son of a clergyman and justice of the peace. His disapproving stepmother predicted that he would die with his boots on. Smith was a handsome man, 5’9″, brown eyed and brown haired. Three of his sons, William, James, and Richard, worked alongside their father. Samuel Smith sided with the patriots.

One account of a theft tells of Claudius confronting a boy herding cattle in a pasture. Smith said “Sonny, whose boy are you?” The boy responded ” Jonathan Stevens’.” To this the robber said “Well, tell your father, Claudius Smith needs these cows.” With that, he stole the cows.

Besides robbing patriot travellers at pistol point, the Smith gang ambushed a courier of George Washington’s, taking his message, and leaving him tied to a roadside tree. Smith once robbed a horse from the cellar stall of a house while its owners were enjoying their tea upstairs. He galloped away laughing.

Although stories persist that Smith sometimes killed, there is no evidence to support these charges. When he eventually was executed, Smith was hanged for “robbery for the aid of the enemy”, a treasonable offence.

Smith’s cowboy career came to an end after an attack on the home of Major Nathanial Strong in October of 1778. Several witnesses claimed that Claudius and his gang murdered the major. A reward of $1,200.00 was offered for Smith’s capture. He fled to Long Island, but was taken when men broke into the house and seized him from his bed. Transported back to Goshen, New York, Smith was manacled to his cell floor. 30 patriots guarded him in 5 shifts of 6 men.

Smith was sentenced to death by hanging. Before his execution, word came that his son William had been killed by patriots.

On January 22, 1779 Claudius Smith walked up the gallows “with a firm step” and “bowed to several whom he knew in the crowd”. Before the noose was put over his head, he kicked off his shoes, saying that he would not die as his stepmother had predicted.

After Smith’s death, his son James was also caught and hanged. Richard Smith was the only son to evade capture. Promising revenge, he sent a letter to a local paper: “You are hereby warned at your peril to desist from hanging any more friends to government as you did Claudius Smith … for we are determined to hang six for one…the blood of Claudius Smith shall be repaid..”

Under the name of Black Dick, Richard became the terror of the Ramapo Valley as he avenged his father. Even George Washington feared that he would be kidnapped by the remaining members of Smith’s gang. Richard was never captured and eventually escaped to Nova Scotia.

But the story of Claudius Smith did not end with his hanging. People said that his ghost haunted his old cave hideout — strange lights could be seen at night. Smith’s grave was opened 60 years after his death. One of his bones was supposedly made into a knife handle, while his skull was cemented into the cornerstone of the new courthouse that was under construction. With the passing of years, the people of Goshen said that knockings could be heard from inside the courthouse where Smith’s skull was entombed.

The final words to consider about the “Tory Cowboy of the Ramapos” are these, recorded by a purported witness to Smith’s execution: “Notwithstanding his life of infamy. Claudius had some generous qualities; and it is said that the poor man found in him a friend, ready to share both his mean and his purse, and it is believed that much of what he abstracted from the wealthy, he bestowed upon the indigent.”

–Stephen Davidson, also a minister’s son, is here today because his loyalist ancestor, Philip Hustis, escaped a patriot prison. A cowboy, Hustis was sentenced to be hanged for cattle robbery.

Book Palatine Hill Becomes a Play

If memory serve me well I remember connecting with you through the UELAC newsletter in 2004 & am grateful for your continuing interest in ‘Palatine Hill’.

I have recenty adapted the book to a stage play & have sent it to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. I gave it an original treatment, with the three main matriarchs in the leading roles. It’s not been a month since then but the contact was good & in the meantime I carry on with my writing & teaching.

…Charlotte Fielden, cfmbooks.com

Molly Brant, The Musical, June 27-29 in Kingston

MOLLY BRANT will be produced anew — lots of new music! new staging! new venue: Wellington Street Theatre – Kingston Ontario. JUNE 27, 28, 29, 2007. 8:00 p.m. Tickets: $20 ( available at Grand Theatre Box Office, Kingston ON) There will be group rates available, more later.


Music: by ME (Augusta Cecconi-Bates)

Script and additional lyrics: Joan Sutherland (also the violinist in this production).

The wonderful voices of EILEEN STREMPEL and MATTHEW ZADOW.

The “orchestra”: Joan Sutherland, violin; Clare Gordon, piano; and Liz Tremblay, ‘cello.

If you missed last year’s productions which played to standing ovations at Memorial Hall, then NOW is your chance to hear and see it.

…Augusta Cecconi-Bates {acecconibates_1999 AT yahoo DOT com}

New Book about Jonas Culver: A Rebel Redeemed, by Philip Turner

Philip B. Turner of Maine has just published a book titled A Rebel Redeemed. It is a historical novel based on the life of Jonas Culver. While serving with the rebels in 1776, Culver was left for dead on a battlefield. He was rescued by a black pickpocket and taken to the British lines where he became a loyalist. At the end of the war, Culver was given a grant of land on New Brunswick’s Kennebecasis River; he later moved to Saint John. A Rebel Redeemed is sponsored by the Caribou Historical Society, Box 861, Caribou, Maine 04757. It is interesting that it is a loyalist story with an American author, sponsor and publisher.

…[from the Daily Gleaner, Fredericton’s daily newspaper, describing a book that tells the true story of a rebel who became a loyalist; submitted by Stephen Davidson]

Nova Scotia Releases Early Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, One Million Historical Names Go Online

Early vital records of Nova Scotia, Canada, are viewable over the Internet for the first time and for free, thanks to a joint project by the Genealogical Society of Utah, FamilySearch(tm), and the Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management (NSARM). The records include one million names found in birth records from 1864 to 1877, marriages from 1864 to 1930, and death records from 1864 to 1877 and 1908 to 1955. Users can search the database at novascotiagenealogy.com.

Nova Scotia is the first province in Canada to digitize all of its historical vital statistics and make them available online. “This project provides key information to researchers on their ancestors,” said Genealogical Society of Utah regional manager Alain Allard. “It involves the vital records-births, marriages, and deaths-which are a key record set to find, identify, and link ancestors into family units.”

The Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU) first microfilmed most of Nova Scotia’s vital records back in the 1980s. In 2005, GSU used FamilySearch Scanning to convert those microfilms to digital images, while at the same time capturing additional vital records with a specially designed digital camera. Volunteers for the Nova Scotia Archives then used the images to create the searchable electronic index, which was completed in 2006.

Anyone can now search names in the index and view a high quality digital copy of the original image online for free at NSARM’s Web site, www.novascotiagenealogy.com. In the near future, the index and images will also be available on FamilySearch.org. Researchers who want to obtain an official copy of a record can do so online through the Nova Scotia Archives. The cost will be CAN$9.95 for an electronic file and CAN$19.95, plus shipping and taxes, for paper copies.

[submitted by Stephen Young]

“Nipigon to Winnipeg”: A Canoe Voyage through North Western Ontario in 1784 by Edward Umfreville

(Shortly after the time that many Loyalists arrived in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and during the same summer that many Loyalist settlers moved from refugee camps in now Quebec into what is now eastern Ontario, some real and potential ramifications of the peace treaty were recognized. The North West Company, sixteen shares issued in 1779, really came into existence in 1783. Loyalists played a role in the company.)

This account was “edited” by R. Douglas, Ottawa, in 1929. It describe a journey describes a journey made by canoe is 1784 through western Ontario from Pays Plat, lake Superior, to portage de l’Isle, Winnipeg river. The voyage was not a trading venture, but was an exploratory one, made by direction of the North West Company.

By the treaty of peace entered into in September, 1783, between Great Britain and the United States, Grand Portage [Minnesota] was placed in the United States and it devolved upon the British fur traders to seek new headquarters on Lake Superior. A year and a month later, Benjamin and Joseph Frobisher memorialized Governor Haldimand that the North West Company, of which they were directors:

being apprehensive the United States would avail themselves of every means in their power to dispossess them of their Trade to the North West, from being entitled to an equal if not an exclusive right to the Grand Portage on Lake Superior and the water communication to the extent of Lake du Bois [Lake of the Woods]: Have at their own expense and with the approbation of your Excellency sent off from the North side of Lake Superior in the month of June last, Two persons on whom they can depend accompanied by six Canadians, to attempt the discovery of another passage, north of the line of Boundary to the River Ouinipique, and from the information your Memorialists have since received from them, they have every reason to expect this passage, so much to be wished for, will be discovered and found practicable; which will effectually secure that valuable branch of the Fur trade to this Province.

and in an accompanying letter:

early in June last, they actually sent off from the North side of Lake Superior a Canoe with Provisions only, navigated by six Canadians under the direction of Mr. Edward Umfreville, who has been Eleven Years in the Service of the Hudson’s Bay Company and Mr. Venance St. Germain; both of them men who speak the language of the Natives and who are other respects very well qualified to execute the Company’s intentions.

Their instructions were to proceed to Lake Alempigon [Nipigon] and thence in a West direction by the best Road for the Transportation of Goods in Canoes to the River Ouinipique [Winnipeg] at, or as near as may be to the Portage de l’Isle, and by letters received from them at Lake Alempigon 30th June, it appears they had met with innumerable difficulties from the want of Indian Guides, but they had then one who had undertaken to conduct them to Lake Eturgeon and they expressed the most sanguine hopes of getting forward from thence to the River Ounipique. The Company have no accounts of them since that period, and as all their Canoes are now returned from the Grand Portage, they cannot until the next year give your Excellency any further information concerning this discovery.

It is an account of the voyage referred to in this memorial that is now printed. It is available here.

Loyalist Directory: Cutler, Davis, Frymire and Flewelling

Additional information has been added to the Loyalist Directory:
Nicholas Frymire
Thomas Flewlling from Audrey Fox
Thomas Cutler from Dorothy Meyerhof
Thomas Davis from Clifford Barnett

Loyalist Monuments: Shelburne, Birchtown, Bedeque, Fredericton

Fred Hayward created and has undertaken to add entries to the Monuments and Memorials section. In addition to monuments and plaques from pretty much across the country, he has included plates, stamps and coins.

From old Loyalist Gazette issues and other sources, there is often a description of the unveiling of the monument. Recent additions:

Loyalists at Shelburne Plaque – Shelburne

The Black Loyalists Plaque – Birchtown

Bedeque Harbour Monument – Bedeque

Edward Winslow Plaque – Fredericton

We welcome additional Loyalist-related monuments and buildings. If you know of a Loyalist monument, please make sure Fred is aware of it. We appreciate good digital photos, articles about the unveiling and/or the subject of the memorial.

…Fred Hayward {fhhayward AT idirect DOT com}