“Loyalist Trails” 2007-31: August 12, 2007

In this issue:
230 Years To The Day: The Battle of Oriskany, Aug 6 1777 – Aug 6 2007
Damaged Loyalists Part 1: Mental Illness
Adairs Featured in Moosomin Spectator
Rena McLean Commemorated by Dedication of Fanningbank Garden in PEI
Book: The Way Lies North, by Jean Rae Baxter, UE
Book: Castle Lake, by Thomas A. Ryerson
Library and Archives Canada Adds Lower Canada Land Petitions
      + Response re Machiche Refugee Camp
      + Response re The Engineers Department
      + Information on Joel Edgett III Family
      + John Cox Family (and Response to Hawkeye and JF Cooper)
      + Followup: Researching Maritime Loyalists


230 Years To The Day: The Battle of Oriskany, Aug 6 1777 – Aug 6 2007

The Battle of Oriskany near modern Rome NY was considered one of the bloodiest of the American Revolution, and Loyalists and their Native Allies were heavily involved. 230 years later to the day, a memorial ceremony took place on the site.

Angela and I made the 700 km round trip on Monday to be present at this historic occasion. I am not sure that UELAC presidents have attended such a ceremony there in the past, but I was honoured to be invited. It was certainly a first for the Bay of Quinte Mohawks, as they were represented by Historian, James Maracle UE, whom I had the pleasure of meeting. There was a strong Oneida presence, a few Native reenactors and reenactors from the 3rd NY Regiment, so I was somewhat conspicuous in the red coat!

I had the opportunity to address the audience, and to present the site with a Loyalist Flag, (thanks to the generosity of George Anderson UE and behind-the-scenes work by Fred Hayward UE). When did the Loyalist Flag last flutter at that site? It certainly looked as if it belonged there!

The weather was pleasant, and the legendary Oriskany mosquitos kept their distance.

I want to thank Nancy Demyttenaere for the invitation, and I also want to thank our Publicity Chair Karen Windover UE who attended and was busy making various contacts. By the way, it was surprising the number of people who came up and chatted about their Rebel ancestors and noted that there were also Loyalists in their background. It was also interesting to have a chat with the DAR who were there with their regalia – something our Volunteer Recognition Committee should check out!

A quick trip, but time well spent!

…Peter W. Johnson UE, President, UELAC

Damaged Loyalists Part 1: Mental Illness

The Revolutionary War set neighbour against neighbour, saw the betrayal of friendships, and released years of pent-up violence. At the war’s end there were no trauma counsellors to help those who had been brutally assaulted, no medication for those who suffered from wartime flashbacks, and no government agencies to ease refugees into a new culture.

Mental illness, alcoholism and depression have only recently been more openly discussed within our own century. We have come to see that they are not the patient’s “fault”, but the result of an inability to withstand overwhelming circumstances. Given the traumatic experiences of the loyalist refugees, it is a wonder that more of them were not psychologically “damaged”.

This is the first of three articles to look at loyalists for whom life became too much to bear. Although they found refuge, they failed to find mental stability. Their stories remind us of how much these refugees were like us in their response to tragedy and hardship.

The trauma of the revolution was very familiar to the members of St. John’s Anglican Church in Stamford, Connecticut. While many of the loyalists known to Rev. Ebenezer Dibblee would recover from the physical and psychological scars of the Revolution, there were those who would be damaged for the rest of their lives. Two of them would be found within the vicar’s own family.

Mary Dibblee was twenty-seven when the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed. Although her older married siblings had their own homes in Stamford, Mary still lived at the vicarage with her father and her mother. Over the next seven years the Rev. Dibblee’s daughter watched in horror as people she knew and trusted turned upon her family in a vicious civil war.

Because of his loyalist convictions, Rev. Dibblee had not received his salary in the twelve months leading up to July 4, 1776, yet somehow his family survived. Later that year Mary’s older brother, Fyler Dibblee, was attacked by patriot mobs, and he fled for his life to Long Island. His wife Polly and their five children sought refuge with Mary and her parents in the Stamford vicarage during the winter of ’76-’77.

As soon as it was spring, Polly and her children left the Dibblee’s vicarage for the safety of the British lines. Then Mary’s younger brother Frederick returned home from King’s College in New York. He, too, was a loyalist, and his stay was not long. After receiving threats on his life, Frederick escaped to Long Island. For the third time in a year, Mary Dibblee had to say good-bye to someone she loved. Her brothers, sister-in-law, nieces and nephews had been driven from Stamford due to the hatred and violence of townspeople she had known all her life.

What Rev. Dibblee, his wife, and Mary endured throughout the Revolution can only be imagined from the smallest of details left behind in family correspondence and Anglican Church records. Mention is made of “stark poverty”, “personal dangers”, “family troubles” and the Dibblees being “haunted by the spectre of want”. All this took its toll on Mary’s sensitive nature.

Although they were committed loyalists, the Dibblees remained in Stamford at the end of the Revolution. Mary’s father had a great commitment to the welfare of his congregation, but he may also have stayed in his republican parish out of concern for his single daughter. A move would have only added further stress to Mary’s worsening mental state.

The revolution had been too much for Mary Dibblee. Repeated attacks on her father’s home, the violence toward her loyalist brothers, and the poverty of the war years led to a nervous breakdown.

A 1788 letter from Stamford to loyalists in New Brunswick recounted how Mary Dibblee had “gone mad from fear” and “raves about the house”. Eventually Mary was chained to the floor of the vicarage so that she would not wander off. It was all her family could do for her.

In 1789, thirty-nine year old Mary was described in a letter to former members of Dibblee’s congregation. “No bedlamite was ever more raving than {Mary} has been for four weeks past and no appearance of her being better. They have been obliged to chain her some part of the time”.

(It is important to remember that the Bedlam Asylum for the Criminally Insane was the most infamous mental hospital in Great Britain, a place known for the terrifying screams and wails of its patients. Such was Mary Dibblee’s condition.)

Mary’s father was 74 in 1789; her mother was 67. It is hard to imagine how they found the strength to care for their daughter.

A year later a letter from Stamford described Mary as being “as bad as ever”. Within six years’ time, Mary’s mother died, but her will said nothing of her daughter’s mental health. Three years later, Rev. Dibblee died of cancer. If Mary was still alive, she would have been 49 years old.

Perhaps her patriot siblings in Connecticut took her in; perhaps Mary found refuge in the home of one of her father’s parishioners. History does not record her final fate. Mary Dibblee’s life is one of the many forgotten stories of the Revolution — a woman who suffered severe psychological wounds because of her family’s loyalty to their king.

…Stephen Davidson

Adairs Featured in Moosomin Spectator

Like many people who start into genealogy, Pat and Gerry Adair are hooked. They are also great participants in the community, and did a presentation for the Moosomin Library. This summer they were invited to participate in a fashion show to help Moosomin celebrate 125 years, and other participants included a number of the local newspaper staff members, including Amanda Stephenson, who undertook to write an article about the Adair’s. The article references the Loyalists frequently (Gerry is the Region Vice-President for UELAC and a key member of the Regina Branch). Click here for the article (PDF format).

Rena McLean Commemorated by Dedication of Fanningbank Garden in PEI

Rena Maude McLean was born June 14, 1879. She completed training as a nurse in 1908 and was working in Gardner Mass when WWI broke out. She joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps Sept 28, 1914. From Britain she moved to France in November and helped convert a hotel in Le Touquet into the first all-Canadian staffed hospital. She served in many places in Europe from Greece to Scotland. In Mach 18 she was assigned to the ship Llandovery Castle in March 1918. The boat was torpedoed on June 17, and 234 people lost their lives, including all 14 nurses.

Rena was engaged, but today no one knows to whom. Her grand-niece Nancy MacLean-Eveson wears her engagement ring proudly today.

A veteran’s convalescent hospital built at Fanningbrook was named for Rena MacLean. Long gone now, the grounds are home to the Lieutenant-Governor’s residence. Gardens were added on the foundations of the hospital. These gardens were dedicated on June 23 to Rena McLean, with some 25 family members in attendance. Abegwiet Branch Treasurer Bertha Brown UE was in the group. Bertha was also a nursing sister, and she too served in Europe, in France, England and primarily Belgium, but one war later.

[submitted by Ruth MacDonald UE, President, Abegweit Branch]

Book: The Way Lies North, by Jean Rae Baxter, UE

This young adult historical novel focuses on Charlotte and her family, Loyalists who are forced to flee their home in the Mohawk Valley as a result of the violence of the “Sons of Liberty” during the American Revolution. At the beginning, fifteen-year-old Charlotte Hooper is separated from her sweetheart, Nick, who sympathizes with the Revolutionaries. The war has already taken the lives of her three brothers, and it is with a sense of desperation that Charlotte and her parents begin the long trek north to the safety of Fort Haldimand (near present-day Kingston). The novel portrays Charlotte’s struggle on the difficult journey north, and the even more difficult task of making a new home in British Canada. In her relationship with Nick, the novel explores how the ideals of the American Revolution were undermined by a revolutionary ethos of violence and manifest destiny. In the flight north, the Mohawk nation plays an important role, and Charlotte learns much about their customs and way of life, to the point where she is renamed “Woman of Two Worlds.” Later in the novel she is able to repay her Native friends when she plays an important part in helping the Oneidas to become once again members of the Iroquois confederacy under British protection. The story of Charlotte’s journey north is a tale of paradise lost and a new world gained. Strong and capable, Charlotte breaks the stereotype of the eighteenth-century woman, while revealing the positive relationship between the Loyalists and the Native peoples.

“A fascinating story about young people fleeing the violence of the American Revolution and discovering a new way of life with the help of the First Nations peoples.” — Ann Walsh

ISBN 978-1-55380-4. The price is $10.95 Cdn, published by Ronsdale Press

…Jean Rae Baxter UE (Hamilton Branch)

Book: Castle Lake, by Thomas A. Ryerson

Castle Lake is the eerie tale of Alicia Murdock and her family’s curse. A family curse that was set into place generations before Alicia was even born. What were the circumstances that brought this curse about in the first place? More importantly, can the curse be stopped in time? Aug 11th 1888 finds the Murdock family busily preparing for Alicia’s 16th birthday party. It’s guaranteed to be a party that Alicia and her family will never forget. Only working together can the Murdock family come out victorious. Will Alicia Murdock be the life of the party? Or the death? Castle Lake is a period novel set in author Thomas Ryerson’s fictional North American communities of Roulston, Hornerseth and Evanston. The novel begins in 1821 and concludes in 1888. Great for all readers, 13 to 83. Published March 2007. $20 plus postage. email {tom AT traveloguebook DOT com – how?} or call 519-788-6363.

Although the book is set in a fictional Atlantic coast town, it is actually based on the Annapolis area of Nova Scotia, a Loyalist settled area. As was true for the Loyalists, the pioneer family unit is very important to the flow of the book.

Thomas A. Ryerson lives in Southern Ontario and is a co-author with Phyllis Ryerse of The Ryerse-Ryerson Family 1574-1994 genealogy.

Library and Archives Canada Adds Lower Canada Land Petitions

When New France became a British colony in 1763, the land system changed. New lands were now granted as part of townships instead of seigneuries. Many early settlers, both military and civilian, submitted petitions to the Governor to obtain Crown land. The Lower Canada Land Petitions contain petitions for grants or leases of land and other administrative records. This research tool provides access to more than 95,000 references to individuals who lived in present-day Quebec between 1764 and 1841.

They are in the process of adding the original documents. The “help” function describes the details of the sources and also implies that at least some of the images will be available online.

Click here for the search and the virtual exhibition.

…Lorraine LeBar


Response re Machiche Refugee Camp

My interest is Kentner, Hough/Huff and a few other families. I copied about 50 pages of Haldimand’s Papers from LAC film C-1475 which is mostly about Provision Lists at various camps. I was a bit surprised that I didn’t come across the name “Flowers”; if they had been at the camp, then their names, number of children and more would be listed on another page.

I am now looking for some data which I missed and to do so I’ve ordered a copy of the film from the LAC through interlibrary loan. It is difficult to read, but I intend to set aside at least 3 half days to try to read, with a degree of care, the whole film.

Machiche was established in late 1778 with the first group of Loyalist Refugees arriving in November.

The first dozen buildings erected were each 18 x 40 feet which “would commodiously house 240 women & children.” 200 beds were brought in. “Some of the Loyalists were not amiable people” with some ‘frivolous’ complaints. 6 additional structures plus a school house were added. Also added was a large garden plot and pasture for 50 cows.

It was considered wise to “have an eye on” the Loyalists as the Governor General “was not eager to have them mingle with the local populace”

Conrad Gugy, the Seigneur on whose land the camp was built “was empowered to lay down regulations for maintaining order among his wards and requiring their services”.

…Don Maxwell, Victoria BC

Response re The Engineers Department

This may not be exactly what you are looking for but A&E put out a series of DVDs of C.S. Forester’s “Horatio Hornblower: The Adventure Continues”. The DVD called RETRIBUTION has a bonus feature called “Guide to Royal Warships”. The DVD called The WRONG WAR has a bonus feature called “England’s Royal Warships”.

The stories take place during the Napoleonic wars and into the War of 1812 but not in the Americas.

…Susan Henry

Information on Joel Edgett III Family

Joel Edgett II, and his brother John served with the Westchester Refugees and arrived with them in Cumberland Co. Nova Scotia in 1783. The two brothers married Lois and Rhoda Peck, daughters of one Abiel Peck, a Massachusetts planter who had received land in that area before the revolution.

Joel Edgett III was one of many children of Joel II and Lois. Joel III married Melinda Perkins, a daughter of Isaac Perkins who also served with the Westchester Refugees, but for some reason landed in Saint John instead of at Fort Cumberland, and eventually settled in Kings County.

As often happens, there is some record of the Loyalists themselves, but the next generation seem to vanish without a trace, and although I have a list of the children of Joel III and Melinda, I can find no supporting documentation in any of the usual places, except for the marriage certificate and various land transactions which do not make reference to their children. I cannot even find where or when Joel and Melinda died, but I have reason to believe they may have returned to the States, which might account for why there are no local records.

I am searching for evidence to support the status of my ancestor James Edgett (1827-1887) of Saint John NB as a son of Joel Edgett III (b.1789) and Melinda Perkins (b.1791) who were married on Sussex, NB in 1814. This relationship is indicated in several genealogies but without any documentation.

Any information, or suggestions, about the relationship of these individuals would be most appreciated.

…John S. Mackay, Rothesay NB, {mackayj AT nb DOT sympatico DOT ca}

John Cox Family (and Response to Hawkeye and JF Cooper)

Cooper’s wife, Susan Augusta Delancey, is a great-granddaughter of Etienne (Stephen) Delancey & Anne Cortlandt.

Stephen Delancey & Anne Cortlandt’s children include:

– a daughter, Susannah, who married Sir Peter Warren, uncle to Sir William Johnson, and

– a son Oliver, Loyalist and Brigadier General as well as other children married into British aristocracy.

Susan Augusta Delanceys also had an aunt, Anne Delancey who married John Cox of Philadelphia.

If anyone has information on the family of John Cox (his family origins), I would like to hear from them.

…Wendy Cosby, UE, Vancouver Branch

Followup: Researching Maritime Loyalists

I posed a question a while back re my ancestor who settled in NS. I searched around on the internet and found information about Donald Ross at the Public Archives (Canada). They have digitized the Ward Chipman Papers, Muster Master Rolls. The introduction states:

“Ward Chipman the Elder, (1754-1824), a Massachusetts lawyer, was also an army administrator in the State of New York between 1777 and 1783. In 1784, he settled in New Brunswick, where he served as solicitor general until 1808. The Ward Chipman Papers contain muster rolls of Loyalists, and their families, who were members of demobilized regiments and who settled in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. This research tool provides access to nearly 19,000 references to Loyalist families.” (from the Collections Canada introduction)

I simply searched for Ross, chose the Donald that matched what I knew of my Donald Ross (i.e., Chedebucto), and then clicked on “view image.” I thought that I would share this as you may know of other folks who are looking for their Loyalist ancestors.

…Elizabeth Maize