“Loyalist Trails” 2007-34: September 2, 2007

In this issue:
Sir John Johnson: An Under-recognized Loyalist
The John Moore House in Sparta: Will You Help Save it?
Canada’s First International Best-Selling Author: A Loyalist, of Course! (by Stephen Davidson)
Update on Battle of Plattsburg (War of 1812) Ceremonies
Last Post: SHANE, Audrey Patricia Mackay, UE
      + Loyalist Cookbook


Sir John Johnson: An Under-recognized Loyalist

Clearly our Mission Statement encourages members to develop a collective approach to ensuring the place of United Empire Loyalists in Canada’s history. However, recent personal activities also suggest that by increasing the celebrity status of our heroes we strengthen our understanding of our less famous ancestors. In particular, by learning more about Sir John Johnson’s role in the development of both Lower and Upper Canada, the challenges faced by our individual Loyalists become clearer. Discovering the memorials to this 18th century leader only emphasizes the need to secure his place in our history in the lead-up to our one hundredth anniversary celebrations.

In 1961, Colonel Sir John Johnson, Sixth Baronet of New York joined Ontario Premier Hon. Leslie M. Frost and UELAC President Dr. H. G. Walton-Ball to dedicate the memorial To The Loyalist American Regiments in Crysler Farm Battlefield Park adjacent to Upper Canada Village, Morrisburg, Ontario. On the western side of the stone wall, a plaque near the flagpole commemorates “Sir John Johnson, Knight and Second Baronet of New York, Major General of Militia New York Province, Lieut. Colonel Commandant of the Kings Royal Regiment of New York, Superintendent and Inspector General of the Six Nations Indians, Colonel in Chief of Militia Eastern Townships, and Member of the Legislative Council of Lower Canada.” The plaque was presented and the first flag raised by Sir John Johnson, Sixth Baronet of New York on the 24th of June that year.

Further to the northeast, those who attended the 2001annual conference in Cornwall were able to visit the Sir John Johnson manor house in Williamstown, Ontario. Built between 1784 and 1792, the home was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1961 and a plaque was erected in 1995.

However, it is at the base of Mont St. Gregoire that we face our greatest challenge in establishing a suitable memorial to Sir John Johnson. In 1794, Sir John purchased the Seigneurie de Monnoir, later to build a summer home on the south side of the mountain as well as a family crypt. Vandalized some time during World War II, the family burial vault was accidentally bulldozed in the 1950’s. Years later, the gravestone was recovered, secured in a niche in the outside wall of the Missisquoi County Museum and plaqued by the newly formed Sir John Johnson Centennial Branch. Less than ten years ago, on May 13, 1998, members of the SirJJCB and Haut-Richelieu Historical Society formed La Société de restauration du Patrimoine Johnson to restore this actual historic site. As a key feature of its new website, the SirJJCB has attempted to pull together a comprehensive history of this ongoing project. Separate reports answer questions regarding ownership and archeological discoveries but there is still much to do. The challenges faced by the newly combined organization are reminiscent of the difficulties endured by the early United Empire Loyalists who wanted to settle in the Eastern Township region in the face of government opposition. Keeping the broader community up to date with developments definitely will help raise the recognition factor of Sir John Johnson.

Finally, it should be noted that there has been a recent use of print media as well to tell the story of Sir John Johnson. The First Forty Years, published in honour of the 40th Anniversary of the SirJJCB, features an account on Sir John Johnson, his life, burial and the attempts to restore the family vault. In addition, the September 2007 Cataraqui Loyalist Town Crier, the Kingston and District Branch’s newsletter, also includes a lengthy article on the early life of Sir John Johnson by Earle Thomas. As more information is shared, the value of name recognition will increase across Canada. In time, we will be more familiar with his relationship with the King’s Royal Regiment of New York, his role in the Legislative Council of Lower Canada and as the Grand Master of the Masonic Order of Quebec. In time, Sir John Johnson will be recognized as a Canadian hero, a United Empire Loyalist to honour.

…Fred H. Hayward UE, Snr.Vice President, UELAC.

The John Moore House in Sparta: Will You Help Save it?

Would you lend your support to a protest against the proposed demolition of the John Moore house (picture) in Sparta, Ontario? John was one of the sons of Samuel Moore, my Loyalist, Quaker ancestor who died and was buried in Norwich in 1822. Samuel gave property in Sparta to two of his sons: Elias, who later became a MPP in Ontario, and to John. The home that John built in 1824 (almost 200 years ago!) is still standing but is under threat of a demolition order.

“Samuel Moore, late of Woodbridge in the County of Middlesex, New Jersey. Claimant being a Quaker, solemnly affirmed: That he is a native of America, and at the commencement of the Troubles was settled in Woodbridge; he says he even took part with the British and never signed any Association or took any part with the Rebels. He was imprisoned more than once for not taking part with them. In June, 1777, he fled to the British at New York as he found he could not bear the Treatment he suffered from the Americans. His family were sent to him in September. 1777, and he has lived under the Protection of the British Government ever since. He quited New York at the Evacuation and resides at Annapolis in this Province.”

Samuel Moore was first granted 550 acres of land in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, on the Bay of Fundy and later 198 acres in Wilmot, Annapolis County. Samuel returned to New Jersey some time between 1808 and 1810, and after the death of his wife, Rachel, in 1813, and at the age of 71, he relocated in the Township of Norwich, district of London, Upper Canada. Records indicate that he held land in Charlotteville, Norwich, Yarmouth and Malahide Townships.

Samuel and Rachel Moore had 11 children, and their descendants are scattered throughout North America. His forefathers were first mentioned in Massachusetts in 1650.

An extract from a letter from Colin Read, a former president of the Ontario Historical Society, and resident of the area, urging the Mayor and Council to preserve the John Moore House.

The Moore house is, as you know, a fine example of one of the area’s earliest brick homes. It is a gracious, well-built structure, and to all outward appearances is in good repair. While my knowledge about the built environment is not all that I would want it to be, I do have the strong feeling that the house is an ornament to Sparta and area. As towns such as Petrolia have discovered, keeping the best structures of the past for the socialization and edification of present and future generations pays large dividends in the form of tourism and, even more importantly, in an enhanced sense of community. This vital lesson is too easily missed by many in these largely ahistorical times.

The Moore house was built by an important settler belonging to a significant family, and, in my opinion, for this alone the house deserves to be maintained. John was the son of Quaker and Loyalist Samuel Moore. In the words of the St. Thomas businessman, Adam Hope, Samuel “lost a beautiful estate in New Jersey for his adherence to British interests during the Revolutionary War.” John and his brothers, Elias and Enoch, settled in Upper Canada before the War of 1812, and moved to Yarmouth and area a few years later. John built his fine house in the mid-20s. He cultivated a large farm and won the respect of his local community. Despite a Quaker background which led many adherents to eschew ephemeral worldly issues and controversies and persuaded that the wrongs of the province needed righting, he aligned himself with the local reformers, taking an active role in the agitation leading up to the rebellion of 1837. Though he did not shoulder arms himself in 1837 (he was in his mid-60s), he was tried and found guilty of treason for, in the eyes of the authorities, helping lead others astray. Though sentenced to death, he did not pay the ultimate penalty, though his son Joseph did, dying in prison from an illness contracted there. The government of the day, perhaps influenced by members of the Quaker community who interceded on his behalf, ultimately decided that John’s sins, such as they were, could be forgiven. He was granted bail in August 1838 and pardoned that October.

John’s brothers, M.P.P. Elias and Enoch, a former deputy sheriff, were equally implicated in the rebellion. Both were jailed, though Elias was freed without being tried. Enoch found himself before the court, however, and, like John, having been found guilty, was subsequently pardoned…..

…..They devoted their energies and assets to the public good. Ironically, their father, Samuel had lost his “beautiful” property to the American rebels. It would be a singular tragedy if we were now to lose John’s beautiful house over two hundred years later to those who cannot appreciate the past.

The John Moore home is built on a beautiful piece of property just north of the Quaker meeting house, still in use, just north of Sparta. The home is set back from the road, and sits beside two lovely ponds. …But, this is a unique structure that in my opinion must be preserved. It is one of the oldest brick structures in Southwestern Ontario, and it was built entirely by materials on the farm. The first floor was built of field stone gathered from the property. The bricks were made on site. The wood came from trees cleared from the land. It is a monument to the early settlers.

My Loyalist ancestor Samuel Moore in written up in the Loyalist Burial Project. We had a new monument placed by his original tombstone and had a dedication of this new monument this summer. It bears the UE bronze plaque.

Any and all support to help preserve the Moore House would be most appreciated. The best support would be letters which should be written to Ms. Sylvia Hofhuis, Mayor, And Members of the Council, Municipality of Central Elgin, 450 Sunset Drive, St Thomas ON N5R 5V1 and fax: 519-631-4036

…Donna Moore, UE, London ON

Canada’s First International Best-Selling Author: A Loyalist, of Course! (by Stephen Davidson)

If you asked most English literature majors the identity of the first Canadian to have an international best-seller, they would no doubt suggest someone like Stephen Leacock or Lucy Maud Montgomery. They would be mistaken.

The first international best-seller written by someone within the borders of modern day Canada was The Mysterious Stranger. The book was published in 1817 and sold thousands of copies on both sides of the Atlantic. Its author was Walter Bates, a Connecticut loyalist who helped to found Kingston, New Brunswick.

Bates was born on March 14, 1760 in Stamford, Connecticut — a town which would suffer deep divisions during the American Revolution. Neither torture at the hands of patriots nor smallpox could defeat Bates. When he escaped rebel persecution by fleeing to Long Island, he became a teacher to the children of fellow loyalist refugees.

The earliest indication of Walter Bates’ literary skills came in the spring of 1783 when he wrote a poem to persuade fellow refugees to accept the British plan to settle loyalists in Nova Scotia. The last of these verses concluded with this sentiment: “For in the wilderness, we’re told, God’s church will comfort give, And no good thing will He withhold, From those who justly live.”

It is interesting that Bates felt fortune would fall to those who “justly live”. His greatest claim to fame would be the result of writing about a perfect scoundrel.

Walter Bates eventually made his mark within New Brunswick’s justice system as the High Sheriff of Kings County. This post and his deep commitment to his church would probably have been the most noteworthy of the Connecticut loyalist’s accomplishments had he not become involved with an extraordinary prisoner in 1814 — a mysterious stranger named Henry More Smith.

Smith originally hailed from Brighton, England where he had been a Methodist minister. At twenty-one years of age, he was in the King’s County prison awaiting execution for stealing a horse. Fifty-four year old Bates was fascinated by Smith. He had this knack, it seemed, for getting out of his chains.

After his jailer thwarted Smith’s escape through the sawn bars of his cell window, the Englishman managed to free himself from heavy iron chains using a steel watch spring as a saw. The next set of chains used to hold Smith were broken, not cut. Bates could not see how this was possible. Smith then went on to break a seven-foot long ox chain that was stapled to the floor.

His antics as an early day Houdini would, in themselves, have made Smith worthy of a book, but he was also a puppeteer. In the darkness of his cell, without any tools, Smith built ten puppets out of scraps of cloth, burnt wood, and straw. They danced, wrote Bates, “with motion, ease and exactness not to be described.” Despite the death sentence hanging over him and his penchant for escaping chains, Smith attracted all sorts of visitors to the county jail who were anxious to watch his puppet shows.

If Walter Bates did not have a reputation for being a man of modesty, accuracy and understatement, it is doubtful that his readers would believe all that he wrote about Henry More Smith. The English prisoner accurately told fortunes using tea leaves, started fires in his cell without matches or tinderbox, and was immune to the frigid conditions of his prison. His hands and feet were

always warm, prompting a later writer to suppose that he may have been familiar with yoga techniques for body control.

Smith eventually received a pardon for the charge of horse theft and sailed off for Connecticut. In the next phase of his life, he gained notoriety as an impostor. Walter Bates followed the Englishman’s adventures which included time as a tinker and watchmaker in an American prison, a robber in New York, and even a visitor to Upper Canada. Smith became Henry Hopkins, preaching in the American south — then a mail robber, and finally a less than successful burglar in Toronto. Then, mysteriously as he appeared, Henry More Smith disappeared from the public eye in 1835.

Why would Walter Bates, a devout Anglican sheriff, write a book about such a dishonest impostor? Perhaps it was a case of fascination with a lifestyle that was so diametrically opposed to his own. Perhaps, having survived the loyalist experiences of imprisonment, torture, and hardship, Walter Bates felt an affinity for Kingston, New Brunswick’s most famous “mysterious stranger”. Whatever his motivation, Walter Bates had the talent to recognize a good story and to write it in a way that sold thousands of copies to avid readers in England, the British colonies, and the United States.

The Mysterious Stranger, or Memoirs of Henry More Smith was first published in New Haven, Connecticut in 1817. The book was titled Companion for Cariboo when it was printed in England later that year. It is still available to read in many provincial archives and can be purchased at a number of online bookstores.

…Stephen Davidson (whose multiple-great aunt Abigail Lyon married Walter Bates in the fall of 1784)

Update on Battle of Plattsburg (War of 1812) Ceremonies

On Saturday, 1 Sep 07, at Noon, the week long ceremonies of the Battle of Plattsburgh ( War of 1812) commenced in Champlain, New York. A ceremony was held in front of the tavern, known as Dewey’s Tavern, on the main road in 1814 leading from LaColle, Quebec, to the U.S. Several speeches were given, local reenactors gave forth with a musket salute, and a trio of bagpipers entertained the audience. A thank you to the present owners of the tavern, which is a private home today, for inviting everyone inside.

The tavern, which had 15 rooms inside with several fireplaces, became residence of several British officers and a British hospital at the time of the invasion. It is located at a crossroads, on a road east of Champlain, NY, and of the Northway. Across the intersection from the tavern is the high school for Champlain and Rouses Point. Directly across the road from the front of the school was the burial ground for the mortally wounded. In the near future the area will be turned into a public park with appropriate historical signage. It is on the school grounds that the view to the south is outstanding, and it is on that ground the British army established the first camp, south of the border, on the march to Plattsburgh. Ones does not really gain a perspective of this march from the Northway at all.

On Friday, 7 Sep 07, at Noon, is the next stop for ceremonies at Culver Hill, on the road from Beekmantown to Plattsburgh.

…Bill Glidden

Last Post: SHANE, Audrey Patricia Mackay, UE

Curator Emirata, UBC Museum of Anthropology (1987) passed away peacefully on August 23, 2007. Predeceased by husband and partner Walter in 2004 and by brother Stewart (80’s). She will be greatly missed by her children Susan, Stacy (Dennis), Dermot (Eva), Ardith, Aynslie (Scott), and many grand-children. Audrey was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Canadian parents Inez Knowlton Mackay and Edward Clifford Mackay. She grew up in Winnipeg, obtaining a Diploma in Interior Design, UMan 1943. Walter and Audrey were married in June 1944 and once Walter returned from overseas in 1946, they embarked upon raising their five children. In the late 60s Audrey returned to university and, following the family move to North Vancouver in 1970, obtained her BA(Anthropology) UBC 1974 and MA(Anthropology) UBC 1978. In response to a chance request for assistance, Audrey embarked on a career as curator at the UBC Museum of Anthropology. An early adopter of the personal computer, in retirement she pursued extensive genealogical research on her Loyalist roots, eventually extending her research to the Shane family. She and Walter travelled widely in Great Britain, Ireland, and North America, often pursuing her genealogical research. Later in life she lovingly cared for Walter through Alzheimer’s and took up quilting as an artistic outlet, leaving treasured quilts for her children and grandchildren. Audrey was compassionate, loyal, hospitable, and, above all, a steadfast support to her family. A Memorial Service will be held Wednesday, September 5 at 2 p.m. at Highlands United Church, 3255 Edgemont Blvd.

Audrey was recently honoured at Vancouver Branch’s 75th Anniversary Celebrations in May as a Past President.

…Carl Stymiest UE


Loyalist Cookbook

Has anyone published a UEL cookbook? If so, I’d like to buy one or some.

…Charles Duncan Thompson {cthompson139 AT shaw DOT ca}