“Loyalist Trails” 2008-36: October 7, 2008

In this issue:
Imprisoned Puppeteer in a Loyalist Town — © Stephen Davidson
Pacific Region Celebrated 225th Anniversary of the Loyalists’ Fall Fleet Landing, September 26-28, 2008
“Planters and Pioneers” by Dr. Esther Clark Wright
      + Response re Simon Fraser and John Roy MacDonell
      + Joseph Slack Family
      + Elisha Jones, d1776, Massachusetts


Imprisoned Puppeteer in a Loyalist Town — © Stephen Davidson

In June of 1815 a British horse thief was chained and handcuffed in Kingston, New Brunswick’s prison. The town, which was founded by loyalists in 1783, was the site of the county court that sentenced Henry More Smith to be hanged for stealing a man’s horse. Kept in a darkened cell that was bare except for a straw bed and a latrine dug into its floor, Smith somehow managed to create 11 marionettes whose performances during that summer would come to astound the people of southern New Brunswick

Cannibalizing his mattress, Smith “curiously entwined” its straw to make his puppets’ bodies. He painted their faces with his own blood and the end of a piece of burnt wood, and made their costumes with bits of his own clothing. The puppet troupe included a tambourine player, a well-dressed woman, two teenagers, two children, a harlequin, a servant, a fashionable gentleman, a steward and a drummer.

Sheriff Walter Bates, a loyalist refugee from Connecticut, kept a wary eye on Smith. Nevertheless, his prisoner’s marionettes astounded him. “To view them in their stations, they appear as perfect as though alive, with all the air and gaiety of actors on the stage.”

Bates described Smith’s puppet shows in this way: one marionette played the tambourine, and then danced. The steward pushed the lady on the swing; the man of fashion took a few steps, the young folks see-sawed, and the children danced. Smith sang or whistled while making all the puppets move “with motion, ease, and exactness not to be described”. Bates felt it was “better worth the attention of the public than all the waxwork ever exhibited in this Province.” Word of the astounding performances soon spread up and down the St. John River, attracting people from all over the valley. And no admission was charged at the door!

Visitors left the Kingston prison acknowledging that Smith’s puppet exhibition exceeded “anything they ever saw or imagined.” Among the visitors were a German visitor, a Scotchman, and a Bostonian.

In July, Smith was given a fife, an instrument he could play with either hand. Now able to provide musical accompaniment for his exhibitions, Smith agreed to perform for the guests at a ball in that Bates had organized. With the money given him by delighted audience members, Smith bought some calico to make a proper curtain for his presentation. But improvements to his program did not stop there. Smith created a total of 24 puppets, 6 of which were musicians with drums, tambourines and bells, 16 danced to the music, and 2 were fighters.

The guests at the Bates’ ball that night were witnesses to Henry Smith’s puppet masterpiece. He played a tune on a fiddle while the puppets danced in “perfect harmony with the music”. One puppet was the dance-master, who wore a hat, boots, and gloves. The harlequin puppet used a sword to battle a shillelagh-wielding Irishman. Another was in a “Scotch uniform acting as sentinel”.

One of the visitors at the ball was a doctor from Pennsylvania who said that he had travelled throughout North America and a large part of Europe, but “had never met anything the equal of what he there saw performed.” Another guest was Dr. Couglen, an Irish surgeon in His Majesty’s service. He “had never met with any that in all respects equalled what he saw there exhibited.” Although he had been visiting in Fredericton, Couglen was so intrigued by the reports he had heard that he went to Kingston for “the express purpose of satisfying his curiousity, and seeing for himself.”

But Henry Smith’s brief career as a celebrity puppeteer was about to come to an end. In mid-August, he was told that the Supreme Court of New Brunswick had pardoned him. Rather than being hanged, Smith was to be set free on the condition that he would leave New Brunswick for good.

Sheriff Bates could not let his famous prisoner go free in a destitute condition. After lecturing Smith on the importance of leading a good life, Bates offered him a box in which to carry his famous marionettes. Perhaps Bates felt that Smith could resist the temptation to return to a life of crime if he continued to do puppet shows.

On Monday, August 28th, Smith faced two county judges to hear the conditions of his pardon. As he came up from his cell, Smith brought one of his marionettes with him — no doubt marking the first time a puppet had been in a New Brunswick courtroom.

As his hearing progressed, the puppeteer became so irrational that Bates finally had to have him returned to his cell. When Smith calmed down, he volunteered to perform a marionette show for his judges. They agreed, no doubt anxious to see the celebrated puppeteer’s famous exhibition. This performance for the two judges was the last puppet-show Henry Smith would ever give.

The next day, Smith packed up his belongings and walked out of the Kingston prison wearing a new pair of shoes, another gift from Sheriff Bates. Carrying his box of puppets on his shoulders, Smith was taken to Saint John and put in the city jail.

Although hungry after his river journey, Smith was very anxious to take his marionettes out of their box. Otherwise, he said, they would die before morning. Following supper, Smith “read” his cup’s tea leaves and claimed that they told him not to disturb his marionettes. The puppeteer of Kingston was then put into a cell for the night.

On August 30th, the authorities put Smith and his puppets on a ship sailing for Windsor, Nova Scotia. As soon as the ship berthed, the puppeteer went ashore, leaving all of his possessions behind him — including his marionettes. Smith completely disappeared. The fate of his famous puppet troupe, so carefully packed in their box, is unknown to this day.

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

Pacific Region Celebrated 225th Anniversary of the Loyalists’ Fall Fleet Landing, September 26-28, 2008

The four branches of the Pacific Region left no doubt as to their capability of planning a successful conference in 2010 in Vernon. You could say they got things off with a bang with a special pre-conference activity in Chilliwack on the Friday evening with a Black Powder shooting experience hosted by Judy Scholtz UE, Yvonne Clarke, and Don Brown of the Chilliwack-Fraser Valley Frontiersmen. A Chinese food dinner provided plenty of social time for all participants back at the home of Shirley Dargatz.

On Saturday, opening ceremonies were held in the sanctuary of the Carman United Church in Chilliwack complete with piping in of guests and dignitaries. Conducted by Shirley Dargatz UE, UELAC Pacific Regional Vice President and President of Chilliwack Branch, and assisted by Presidents Wendy Cosby UE of Vancouver and Joan Clement UE of Victoria Branch, I presented 26 certificates of proven UE lineage. In addition, Senior Vice President Carl Stymiest UE extended individual congratulations to the recipients with beribboned UE pins.

Prior to my key address, I was able to acknowledge the special efforts of the Pacific Region branches in building their membership: both Chilliwack Branch and Victoria Branch received $100 for increasing membership by 110%; Thompson-Okanagan Branch was rewarded with $250.00 for increasing its 2007 membership by 125%.

Then, in recognition of his support of UELAC especially in the Pacific Region, Mary Anne Bethune, UE Pacific Regional Councillor honoured the second recipient of the Philip E.M. Leith Memorial Award. She joined Carl Stymiest UE in the presentation of the award to Dr. Peter Moogk UE of the Vancouver Branch. Further information will follow in LT.

Following a brief Loyalist church service with assistance by Rev. Dianne Astle, participants of the opening session recessed to the main hall. Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons and local MP for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, Chuck Strahl and his wife, Deb, were able to take time out from campaigning to join us for the buffet luncheon. Not only did every participant receive a special gift bag, they also had an opportunity to join in the fund-raising lucky draws held at that time.

Following my second presentation, the Saturday session ended with the closing ceremonies and retirement of the Colours. However, the day’s activities were far from over. Representatives of the four Pacific Region branches gathered together back at the Dargatz home to hold another planning session for the “Beyond the Mountains 2010” UELAC Conference in Vernon. Now less than two years away, this event definitely will be well worth the trip to the West.

On day two, the venue for the mini-conference moved to “Fort Anderson” for the Pacific Regional Fall Fleet Social hosted by Vancouver Branch and Grace and Past President John C Anderson in Burnaby. Following registration for lots, provisions and rations, there were opportunities to purchase articles of period clothing, examine heritage articles and dine on Loyalist fare. Subsequent to the official “Drawing of Land Lots”, Carl Stymiest UE and Wendy Cosby UE awarded the Vancouver Branch lottery prizes as well as the draws for “best period outfit”.

During this festive part of the weekend, I was pleased to make a special presentation to Wendy Cosby UE President of the Vancouver Branch. Through her leadership, the Vancouver Branch was able to secure certificated acknowledgements that Simon Fraser was the son of Simon Fraser UEL and Sir Alexander Mackenzie was the son of Lt. Kenneth Mackenzie UEL of the KRRNY. Both explorers so vital to the exploration of the British Columbia region were thus entitled to receive Dorchester’s Mark of Honour.

Margaret and I were truly honoured by the warm reception and generous hospitality of the Chilliwack, Thompson-Okanagan, Vancouver and Victoria Branches this past weekend. Those Pacific Region Branches certainly know how to celebrate. We can hardly wait for 2010.

…Fred H. Hayward UE, President

“Planters and Pioneers” by Dr. Esther Clark Wright

Did you know that many millions of people across North American descended from a large group of settlers who came to Nova Scotia prior to the American Revolution? Did you know that an accomplished historian compiled a comprehensive index of those pre Loyalist settlers but it fell out of print not long afterwards due to the passing of the author? That unique and classic work is available again until all copies are sold.

“Planters & Pioneers” represents years of research by the renowned Dr. Esther Clark Wright to compile a comprehensive list of pre Loyalist New England and European settlers to Nova Scotia and what is now referred to as New Brunswick. The end result is an index that includes more than 23,000 names (under more than 4000 family leaders) gathered from township records, registry of deeds, probate records, county and local histories, census records, family histories, genealogies, and so forth. It is a wealth of information that would take a modern-day professional researcher years to duplicate even with today’s advances in research technology.

“Planters and Pioneers” is a unique work. It has application to family history research not only in Atlantic Canada and New England, but across North America and beyond because so many people descended from those early Nova Scotia / New Brunswick settlers. It is a great reference tool for researchers who have an interest in the region, or if they only have interest in a few families from the region. It is also a great starting place for many new researchers who have roots in Atlantic Canada.

To order or to find more information, please visit www.plantersandpioneers.com.


Response re Simon Fraser and John Roy MacDonell

In thirty-five years of researching Sir John, his holdings in the Mohawk Valley, his regiment and his career, I have never come across this story of John Roy. As there were eleven men named John McDonell associated with Sir John’s King’s Royal Regiment of New York and another two in Butler’s Rangers, it’s a great challenge to sort them out.

Many of the ‘upper crust’ McDonells had a secondary ‘family’ name related to their Scottish origins attached to themselves, such as Scotus/Scothouse or Leek or Aberchalder, which helps to sort those fellows out.

The ‘lower level’ McDonell’s often identified themselves by a place name such as Glenon, Fort Augustus, Dalechreggan, etc.

Having knowledge of a second Christian name such as “Roy” is a great assist; however, it rings no bells with me.

I know Hugh McMillan very well and he has helped me with wonderful details of his ancestor’s military career, Walter Sutherland, but I cannot recall him mentioning John Roy’s trek. I have a keen interest in this story, as I have promised to write a book about the ‘adventures’ of the loyalist women and children who came to Canada during the war, so if you can locate a document/petition/whatever in the Haldimand Papers that tells the tale, please send to me.

Let’s hope that a McDonell genealogist will be able to sort the identity of John Roy. That would be an excellent start to determining the date of his arrival in Quebec.

…Gavin Watt, H/VP UELAC

Joseph Slack Family

I am researching my family tree and have found that I have a relative who is listed in your Loyalist Directory. His name is Joseph Slack. The directory shows that he settled in the Eastern District (what is now Eastern Ontario) but he was Expunged 1802/May/02.

I would appreciate if anyone has information about Joseph and his family. Perhaps his children married Loyalist children? If not any direct information, pointers and suggestions about where I could find documents and related information about him being on the original UE list and then being expunged from it.

I live in California so there isn’t much chance of me being able to visit your location anytime soon so any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

…Bill Slack {wlslack AT hotmail DOT com}

Elisha Jones, d1776, Massachusetts

David Burzillo works at a private high school in Weston, Massachusetts called The Rivers School. At the time of the American Revolution, the school’s property was owned by Elisha Jones (1710-1776). A major landowner in eastern and western Massachusetts, Jones was the only Loyalist from the town of Weston whose land was seized during the Revolution. He and his wife, Mary Allen, had eleven sons and one daughter.

Mr. Burzillo has been doing research on the history of the school’s property for an article, and he would very much like to talk with a/some Jones descendants. If you can be of assistance, contact David Burzillo, History Department, The Rivers School, 333 Winter Street,Weston, MA 02493 or {d DOT burzillo AT rivers DOT org}. To help readers make a connection with the Jones name, he has supplied the following additional information:

Six of Jones’s sons moved to Canada in the 1780s: Simeon settled in New Brunswick, Elisha, Josiah, and Stephen in Nova Scotia, and Ephraim in the eastern section of the province of Quebec, soon to become Upper Canada. This uprooting of some of the Jones boys did not dampen their enthusiasm for success nor limit their potential. Ephraim enjoyed a noteworthy career in the history of Upper Canada, serving as a judge and member of the House of Assembly, where he introduced bills to establish trial by jury and supporting the gradual abolition of slavery in the colony in his first session of work. Ephraim and his sons are reported by the Canadian Dictionary of Biography to have “dominated the political affairs of the province (Upper Canada) until the 1837 rebellion.” Camilla Parker Bowles, the wife of England’s Prince Charles, has significant French Canadian ancestry, and she is a descendant of Ephraim and his wife Charlotte.

Elisha Jones and his sons were incredibly energetic and successful, both here and in Canada. I am interested in talking with any of his Canadian descendants about their knowledge of the family and the work of his sons and grandsons in Canada. I would also be interested in talking with anyone who is aware of the success of Elisha Jones and his importance in local affairs during the Revolutionary period.

According to our on-line Loyalist Directory, descendants in the Col. Edward Jessup, Grand River and Vancouver Branches have proven lineage to Ephraim Jones since 1982.

…Frederick H. Hayward