“Loyalist Trails” 2008-02: January 13, 2008

In this issue:
Robert Grant, Loyalist Orphan, by Stephen Davidson
Looking Ahead to Hudson Valley Anniversaries
January 2008 issue of Loyalists Quarterly now Available
“Keys to Ontario Research” Workshop, Sat. 23 February 2008, Toronto
Lawrence Hill to Speak at McMaster University
Henry Hayden: From Sorel to a Rootsweb Stray
Heritage Canada Foundation to Celebrate the Built Heritage Workforce for Heritage Day 2008
Additions to Loyalist Directory
      + Family of Dr Adoniah MacBass


Robert Grant, Loyalist Orphan, by Stephen Davidson

The American Revolution devastated all that eighteen year-old Robert Grant knew and loved. Rebels seized his family’s home; his father was killed while attacking a patriot fort and his mother died in a shipwreck, leaving Robert alone to care for his three younger sisters in a wilderness far from home. Orphan children were no doubt all too common within loyalist refugee settlements, but the story of Robert Grant found in the records of the period makes him a loyalist orphan of special interest.

Robert’s father, Alexander Grant, had come to British North America from Scotland as a member of Col. Montgomery’s Highlanders. After the British forces conquered New France, Grant decided to remain in New York. He married Sarah, built a log cabin on 600 acres of land in the Catskill Mountains, and began to raise a family. His plans to build a mill, however, were interrupted by the growing revolutionary spirit of his neighbours.

Known for his loyalty, Grant managed to escape being put in a rebel prison by boarding a British man-of-war. Sarah was left to care for their four children who ranged in age from one to seven years. In no time, rebels arrived at the door of the loyalist’s home and seized all of the Grants’ animals and furniture.

Alexander Grant eventually became a major in the New York Volunteers. This company of 300 men captured the rebels’ Fort Montgomery on October 16, 1777. Grant, their “active and enterprising officer” whose services “were well known to all the army” was killed in the battle.

Because Sarah Grant lost her husband in action, she received a widow’s pension of £30 a year. She was also given a Long Island rebel’s farm as a means to support her young family. With the defeat of the British forces, Alexander Grant’s widow and her four children, Robert, Helen, Elizabeth, and Lucy, sailed with other refugees to Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia.

Almost four years after the revolution’s refugees were settled in their new homes, word spread that a compensation board had convened in Saint John, New Brunswick to hear their claims of losses during the war. Despite the March weather conditions, Loyalists from the Annapolis Basin area made plans to sail across the Bay of Fundy to attend the hearings, and Sarah Grant decided to join them. Helen Grant, who was now 17, could look after her two younger sisters while her mother and 18 year-old brother Robert were away in Saint John. Filled with hope for a better future for her fatherless children, Sarah clutched her husband’s financial papers and boarded the schooner Patty with Robert by her side.

Within hours of leaving Digby, the Patty got lost in a snowstorm and went aground on rocks, “instantly shove to pieces” nine miles south west of Saint John. Somehow Robert Grant and his mother made it to shore in the dark, climbed a cliff, and waded through four feet of snow until they reached the forest. A sudden rain soaked the shipwrecked passengers to the skin. They spent the rest of the night walking about the woods so as not to freeze.

It was all too much for Sarah Grant. She died “in consequence of severe cold”. Forced to abandon his mother or share her fate, Robert Grant joined the other survivors as they waded along the shore desperately seeking a house. These seventeen shipwrecked passengers finally found shelter after a ten-mile walk in the numbing cold. The local newspaper of the day recorded that many of the survivors “were exceedingly injured by the frost, among the worst Mr. {Robert}Grant”.

A week later, the survivors were “in a fair way of recovery”. The bodies of Sarah Grant and two other shipwreck fatalities had been found and “were decently interred in the burying ground” in Saint John.

After recovering from his ordeal, 18 year-old Robert Grant went before the loyalist compensation board to fulfil his mother’s mission. However, he did not have a shred of evidence to back his claims; all of the family’s papers had been lost in the shipwreck.

According to the transcripts for Thursday, March 22, 1787, Robert stood before the board all by himself. His emotional state and the response of the board’s commissioner go unrecorded, but it must have been overwhelming for the loyalist teenager to have to summarize the story of his family and their losses during the revolution given the fact that the death of his mother, the ordeal of the shipwreck, and the welfare of his younger sisters on his mind.

On Friday, a witness stepped forward to vouch for all that Robert had testified. Col. Abijah Willard was an old friend of Robert’s father. Not only did he affirm all that Robert had said, Willard was also able to supply details of Alexander Grant’s war service that Robert did not know, being just a small boy at the time. Whether the compensation board ever offered aid to the four loyalist orphans is unknown, but the transcripts do reveal one ray of light. Abijah Willard would henceforth be the children’s guardian, a plan that met with the approval of Robert, Helen, Elizabeth, and Lucy Grant.

A happy ending? Perhaps. All that history tells us is that Willard died two years later and that his wife and three children returned to Massachusetts. The final fate of Robert Grant and his three sisters is unknown.

Looking Ahead to Hudson Valley Anniversaries

Many Loyalist descendants have found that some of their pre-Loyalist ancestors were associated with the Dutch Church at Kingston NY, for which many records survive. In 2009 the Church celebrates its 350th anniversary, so some events will be planned. It will also be the 400th anniversary of first visits to the general area by both Hudson and Champlain. I have no further information at present, but it’s something to take into consideration.

…Peter W. Johnson, President, UELAC

January 2008 issue of Loyalists Quarterly now Available

The Only U.S. Journal Devoted To Loyalist Studies – Topics in this issue include:

– Loyalist House Facelift,

– Photo of Last Native American Who Fought For British In War of 1812,

– Black Loyalist Birchtown Provisions,

– Benedict Arnold’s Spooky Horse,

– UELA Help To Black Loyalist Heritage Society Pays Off,

– Upcoming Events of the Black Loyalist Historical Society,

– Delaware Loyalist Records,

– Bahamas Loyalist Historical Minute,

– Canadian Privateer Ships During The American Revolution,

– List of Loyalist Banished From Georgia 1783,

– Roman Catholic Loyalists,

– Famous Loyalist Women,

– Loyalist Children, and more

Our newsletter is printed four times a year; January, April, July, September. Membership fees are $19 (US) per year. We also accept Canadian membership at $23 (Canadian) for higher postage. Back issues available for $5 (US) or $7 (Can). Please include S/H of $4 (US) or $4.50 (Can). Besides the benefit of a great journal, with membership, you will be eligible for a 10% discount on all our publications, research, and other items we sell on our website. There are Loyalist indexes, histories, how-too help guides, flags, research, etc. offered.

Paul J. Bunnell, FACG, UE, 45 Crosby St., Milford, NH 03055, 603-672-6616

Email: {BunnellLoyalist AT aol DOT com}   Website: bunnellgenealogybooks.citymaker.com

“Keys to Ontario Research” Workshop, Sat. 23 February 2008, Toronto

Whether you’re searching for roots in Ontario or digging into the history of your community, you’ll enjoy this information-packed day about Ontario’s records and record-keepers. The Workshop will be co-hosted on Saturday, February 23, 2008 by the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society and the Canadiana Department of North York Central Library. The Workshop will address sources, research techniques, libraries, archives and online resources, with a special emphasis on the overlapping interests of family and local historians. Speakers include Christine Bouriolas (Archives of Ontario), Ruth Burkholder, Diana Fink (Canadiana Department, North York Central Library), Fraser Dunford, J. Brian Gilchrist, Kathryn Lake Hogan and Paul McGrath.

Click here for more information.

…Paul Jones, Past Chair, Ontario Genealogical Society, Toronto Branch

Lawrence Hill to Speak at McMaster University

In anticipation of Black History Month, McMaster University’s Human Rights and Equity Services is proud to announce that they have engaged Lawrence Hill to make a presentation on January 16th at 7:30 p.m. in the University Club/Alumni Hall.

Many of you will remember Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes and Any Known Blood, as the keynote speaker at the Loyalist Monument on UEL Day this past June.

In addition, members of UELAC have been invited to attend a small gathering in the afternoon – an informal affair consisting of coffee and conversation with Mr. Hill. This event will take place in the Commons Skylight Room (Building#28 on the Campus Map). Please contact Vilma Ross, Programme Coordinator if you will be attending the afternoon event ( rossiv@mcmaster.ca or 905 525 9140, Extension 24235)

[submitted by Fred Hayward]

Henry Hayden: From Sorel to a Rootsweb Stray

In the index to Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, compiled by Marlene Simmons, of Christ Church Anglican in Sorel Que. is this entry:

Hayden, Henry Son of Edward Langley and Rebecca Hayden of Sorel baptized Feb 13 1830. Buried Feb 2 1831 ( F150 )

At Rootsweb, which page lists “Miscellaneous – Marriages, Births, Deaths, Notices, all Without a Home Yet”, about a third of the way down the page under “The Canadian News, London England, Wed., Dec 9, 1859”, is an entry:

Died – Nov 18th at Perth, Edward Langley HAYDEN, Esq., of Sorel C. E., age 72

[editor’snote: Might Edward be the son of a Loyalist, or Rebecca the daughter?]

[submitted by Josie Ross ]

Heritage Canada Foundation to Celebrate the Built Heritage Workforce for Heritage Day 2008

As part of our 35th anniversary celebrations, the Heritage Canada Foundation will be launching Heritage 2008: Work that Endures: Careers in Built Heritage. The online resource will highlight the stories of more than a dozen Canadians whose varied and interesting careers are all connected to heritage conservation and promotion.

Whether tradespeople, educators, professionals or volunteers they have contributed their skills and knowledge to restoring, researching, maintaining and teaching about heritage places. People featured include Norbert and Helga Sattler, stained glass artisans from West LaHave, Nova Scotia, who restored the twenty-four stained glass windows of the historic St. John’s Anglican Church in Lunenburg and established the Maritime Stained Glass Registry­a photographic archives and database for 150 churches; Donald Luxton, Victoria based heritage consultant, author and educator, who is an expert on historic paint colours and technology and Steve Barber, a senior heritage planner in B.C. who helped set up a Tax Incentive Program to encourage investment in the residential conversion of historic properties. Of the dozens of volunteer groups in the country, Work that Endures chose to focus on the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, and Les Amis de la residence de Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine.

Whether working as carpenters, artisans, planners, developers, teachers, architects, or volunteers, all agreed that working in the heritage field is intellectually stimulating, as well as gratifying for the soul.

The Heritage 2008: Work that Endures: Careers in Built Heritage resource will be available on the Foundation’s website in advance of Heritage Day, February 18, 2008.

For more information on the Foundation’s Heritage Day program, please visit the website.

Additions to Loyalist Directory

– about Nathan Bunnell Barnum from Patrick Barnum in Mexico

– about Daniel Lee Sr. from Cal Craig UE


Family of Dr Adoniah MacBass

Dr Adoniah MacBass served in the Revolutionary War and was killed (we think) in the battle at Bennington VT. He was born in 1744 in MA. The widow and children arrived in Canada on foot and went directly to Lots 10 and 11 in the fourth concession of Augusta Township in the early summer of 1789. His wife’s name was Lydia (Draper) Bass who was born in 1750 MA and their children were Joseph Church BASS, John BASS, and Hannah BASS.

Ok, now the hard part. His parents were Henry BASS and Elizabeth Church. He is the only MacBass that I can find in this line. I am really trying to find out why he was called MacBass? Did he revert to an older family name not used by his father? Or something else?

Also, I can’t find any records for his activities during the war; any suggestions where I should look. Any help would sure be appreciated.

…Connie Cartwright {Cartwright974 AT aol DOT com}