“Loyalist Trails” 2008-31: August 31, 2008

In this issue:
Alive but Struck Down, by Stephen Davidson
Cdn. War Museum Launches a New Internet Exhibition
United Empire Loyalist Heritage Centre and Park Seeks Financial Outreach
Home of Dr. James Stuart UE Opened
      + Request from SAR – NY
      + Loyalists Declared Politically Deceased
      + Joseph Doan Family
      + Loyalist David Hunter’s brother John


Alive but Struck Down, by Stephen Davidson

The life of Captain John Cochran illustrates how a man could survive years of military conflict, and then be suddenly rendered helpless by a medical condition. This is the story of a man who was paralyzed by a stroke just as the loyalists were about to leave New York in 1783.

Cochran had been a sea captain before establishing a home in New Hampshire with his wife Sarah. In 1770, John Wentworth, the loyalist governor of New Hampshire, put Cochran in command of Portsmouth’s Fort William-and-Mary. Cochran and his family moved into a house within the fort, temporarily leaving their 158-acre farm in Londonderry.

When rebels learned that the British government was no longer going to send gunpowder and weaponry to the Thirteen Colonies, they decided to seize the stores held in Fort William and Mary. Warned by the governor, Cochran readied his five solders to prepare for an assault. It would be a turning point in the history of New Hampshire.

On December 14, 1774, hundreds of rebels stood outside the gates of Fort William-and-Mary. Cochran warned them he would fire if they tried to enter. Suddenly a signal was given to storm the fort, and Cochran ordered his men to fire their cannon. Historian Thomas Kehr argues that these were, in fact, the first shots of the revolutionary war.

Despite being outnumbered 25 to 1, Cochran and his men fought off the rebels with bayonets and muskets. When Sarah Cochran saw her husband being overpowered, she grabbed a bayonet and drove back his attackers, but both Cochrans were soon overpowered and disarmed.

Victorious, the rebels gave three cheers and pulled down the British flag. They made off with thousands of gunflints, kegs of bullets, and barrels of gunpowder. After being confined for 90 minutes, Cochran and his men were released. The next day as many as 1000 rebels returned to the fort. By negotiating with the patriots, Cochran was able to avoid more bloodshed, but by day’s end the fort had been stripped of virtually all of its supplies and weapons. British rule in New Hampshire had, for all intents and purposes, come to an end.

Within six months the New Hampshire’s rebels forced Governor Wentworth and his family to flee to Fort William-and-Mary where Captain John Cochran and his men offered them shelter. By the fall, Cochran sailed to Boston with the Wentworths, leaving his wife and children on their Londonderry farm.

Rebels ordered Mrs. Cochran off of her land in October. She hurriedly packed up the family’s possessions, but a mob attacked her and took everything she had, claiming that they were “the goods of a Tory”. Sarah Cochran was able to retrieve some of her things, but sustained a loss of £150 worth of goods.

Captain Cochran, meanwhile, was put into service in the British navy. He joined the crew of the Lively as its pilot for one voyage. Later he served in the army in Rhode Island under General Prescot and then “went with the dispatches” to New York. At some point he served as the captain of the loyalist volunteers.

By 1783, Cochran had been reunited with Sarah and his children. Although they had lost lands and possessions, the New Hampshire loyalists had survived the war and were looking forward to a new life along the St. John River. Accompanying the Cochrans was 11-year old Adam, a free black who had indentured himself to the family for the next ten years.

Just before their ship left New York, John Cochran’s life took an unexpected turn for the worse. The loyalist soldier was paralyzed by a debilitating stroke.

Somehow the family managed to carry Cochran aboard the Bridgewater where Sarah did her best to care for him. Within seven weeks of their arrival in the new colony, Cochran had a second stroke and “was not capable of doing any business”. While other loyalist refugees endured freezing in log cabins and surviving on a potato diet during their first New Brunswick winter, Sarah Cochran had the added burden of caring for her husband who “had no more strength or understanding than a child”.

By 1787 Cochran’s health had improved, but the strokes had left their mark. He had lost the fine muscle control need to control his tongue, and he could hardly be understood. His memory had gone.

When the compensation board heard loyalists’ claims in Saint John in February of 1787, the commissioners allowed that Cochran did not need to attend the hearings in person and permitted Mrs. Cochran to speak on her husband’s behalf. The written commendations of Governor Wentworth and General Howe– as well as the testimonials of Col. Abijah Willard and Dr. Adino Paddock– persuaded the board that Captain John Cochran should be recognized for his contribution to the crown and receive compensation for his loyalty.

Cochran died three years later. Details in his will provide revealing clues about his final years as a stroke victim. In addition to the large Bible and £134 worth of household goods that were listed among Cochran’s effects, the inventory includes a cribbage board and a backgammon table. Confined to his house because of the stroke and his inability to communicate clearly, John Cochran was able to fill his hours with games that did not require a great deal of conversation and physical dexterity. It is these small details that add poignancy to the story of Captain Cochran, a loyalist cut down in the prime of his life by stroke.

To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at {stephendavids AT gmail DOT com}

Cdn. War Museum Launches a New Internet Exhibition

Since opening in its new location, the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa has staged many excellent displays that showcase our Loyalist heritage. Now it has turned to the internet to provide a rich resource for another period in Canada’s history. Dr. Tim Cook has provided the following article, previously carried in The Torch, that should encourage further exploration of a different period of turbulence.

Canada and the First World War is the largest internet resource ever developed by the Canadian War Museum. The goal of this site is to provide visitors across the country and around the world with the most comprehensive and authoritative site for the history of Canada and Canadians in the First World War.

Visitors and educators will find unique resources, including over 700 rare artefacts. These artefacts, drawn from the CWM’s collection that spans over half a million items, include weapons, equipment and naval, air force and soldier’s kit; letters, diaries and published material; medals, commemorative items, and grave markers; recruitment posters, works of art, and photographs. Each artifact is supported by interpretative text, and is linked to thematic subjects ranging from battles and campaigns, to the home front and postwar commemoration. The site also allows access to over 6,800 of the newly-digitized official Canadian Expeditionary Force photographs held n the museum’s Military History Research Centre.

Educators, youth, and researchers will find outreach resources, such as primary source materials, lesson plans and suggested reading lists. The site does not require flash or high speed access, however, a unique zoom feature enables visitors to access the artifact images and archival material at an incomparable level of detail.

This project, funded by Canada Culture Online, a federal programme sponsored by the Department of Canadian Heritage is the first exhibition of its kind for the Canadian War Museum. The First World War site involved through the course of the project, most of the Canadian War Museum staff, including members from the collections, interpretation, education, project management, historical staff, and management.

Click here to explore the web site.

…Fred Hayward, UE

United Empire Loyalist Heritage Centre and Park Seeks Financial Outreach

As you may know, the Bay of Quinte Branch UEL owns and operates the United Empire Loyalist Heritage Centre and Park in Adolphustown Ontario. The UELHCP is a non-profit preservation project and serves as a dynamic memorial to our Loyalist families who helped establish Upper Canada. The Centre operates a 72 acre campground, the actual 1784 Loyalist Landing site, cemetery and monument., a museum and research centre in the historic Allison House, as well as living history and outreach through Herkimer’s Bateaux Company and the Loyalist Fife and Drum Corps.

This year we have taken on several costly items planned in our annual budgeting process based on past years income. These include: upgrade of UV filters to the water system in the park: purchase of a new bateau to replace the old boat that is no longer seaworthy; employment of a part time curator for the museum; major renovations to the museum exhibit spaces. As rooms are renovated, they are being brought up to modern museum quality for lighting and climate control so all artifacts remain visible but safe.

One of the main sources of income for the UELHCP is our campground, open to both seasonal & short term visitors from mid May until Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, this year, the incomes from the campground have been down drastically, mostly due to cost of gasoline and the record rainy summer, which has left short term visits almost non-existent for much of the summer. As a result, the anticipated income from the park and campgrounds is down significantly this year, but our costs in operating the site remains the same.

As a result we are soliciting support from you as UEL members to help us in any way you can financially. This park and its outreach groups are part of our UEL heritage. We ask that you consider a donation of any amount in helping us keep the UELHCP a strong historic site, as we get through this year. We are a charitable organization under the Canada Revenue Agency and can issue tax receipts for any donations we receive. Cheques can be made out to the “UELHCP” and mailed directly to: UEL Heritage Centre & Park, 54 Adolphustown Park Road, RR#1 Bath, ON, K0H 1G0. Thank you for keeping history alive!

…Brian Tackaberry, President, Bay of Quinte Branch

Home of Dr. James Stuart UE Opened

The newly opened Stuart home, formerly from the “Lost Village” of Wales, can be seen in a series of pictures. The home was built in 1810 by Dr. James Stuart, a surgeon in the King’s Royal Regiment of New York. The photos can be seen here.

From Loyalist Trails issue 2007-09, 6 March 2007: “At the annual Heritage Dinner of the Lost Villages Historical Society, a grant of $25,000 for the restoration of the Stuart House, at the Lost Villages Museum, was announced. The Stuart House was originally built by Dr. James Stuart, a United Empire Loyalist, and a surgeon in the King’s Royal Regiment of New York. This house has been moved twice, after originally being constructed in the former “Lost Village” of Wales, Ontario.”

…Lynne Cook, UE


Request from SAR – NY

Recently, I have received a request from Philip Migliore of the New York Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. As the chapter is trying to build a visual library of images of events or persons who participated on either side in the Revolution, he would appreciate any response from UELAC. Philip said they could be paintings, drawings and sketches as well as engravings, miniatures and the like that are presently in private hands.members. Please contact Philip Migliore at {migliore17 AT comcast DOT net} if you can be of assistance.

…Frederick H. Hayward

Loyalists Declared Politically Deceased

After Joel Stone and Hiel Camp, both of Judea, Connecticut, fled to British lines in 1777, they were declared “politically deceased” by local patriot authorities. I have come across this term in only a couple cases of Connecticut loyalists. I am curious if anyone else has noticed this phrase in their own research.

…Tim Compeau {tcompeau AT gmail DOT com}

[editor’s note: Tim is studying at the University of Western Ontario towards a PhD, with some assistance from a UELAC scholarship.]

Joseph Doan Family

I am currently researching the Doan family whose young members were the notorious Tory outlaws of Bucks County. In 1783 the Doan Family farm was confiscated by the Pennsylvania Government due to the fact that their father Joseph Doan harbored his outlaw sons. What I am trying to find out is when Joseph Doan, his wife, two daughters and youngest son arrived in Humberstone, Ontario. His farm was sold by the government in 1783 so it must been some after that. In addition his son Joseph jr, joined him sometime afterward and became a school teacher in Humberstone.

…John Sweeney {Jmaysweeney AT AOL DOT com}

Loyalist David Hunter’s brother John

A member, I have proved my descent from David Hunter’. David’s deposition has information about a younger brother: “… John who served with the British Fleet …”.

The Loyalist directory lists a John Hunter. How can I determine if the John Hunter in the directory is David Hunter’s brother and where can I find more information about John Hunter and his service with the British Fleet?

…Jean Clark, Carlisle, Kentucky {clark_pr AT hughes DOT net}