“Loyalist Trails” 2009-06: February 8, 2009

In this issue:
Biographical Fragments from the Montreal Loyalist Compensation Hearings: Part Two: Refugees of New York and Pennsylvania — © Stephen Davidson
Celebrating the Centenary of Loyalist Settlement in Upper Canada, Part 3
Cornwall Loyalist Cairn: Planning and Funding
Honorary Vice-President Promotes Loyalist Studies
“Rascals and Numskulls”: A Play about Robert and Phoebe Land
At last…A Rev War Magazine
Measha Brueggergosman, Celebrity Loyalist Descendant
Offer/Query: Seeking Descendant of Nathaniel Ray/Rae Thomas; Confiscation Document Available
The Canadian Connection: Historical Programs in Northern NY
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Last Post: L. Cdr. John Edward Merritt, CD, KH, UEL


Biographical Fragments from the Montreal Loyalist Compensation Hearings: Part Two: Refugees of New York and Pennsylvania — © Stephen Davidson

From September of 1787 to March of 1788, a board that heard loyalist compensation claims met in Montreal to consider the testimonies of the refugees of the American Revolution. Despite the fact that there were many applications for financial compensation, the accounts of individual loyalists are disappointingly brief. However, there are some testimonies that give us a greater insight into what the refugees of the American Revolution endured. This is the second article to highlight “biographical fragments” from the compensation board hearings held in Montreal over 220 years ago.

George Kentner was a German loyalist who had settled along Pennsylvania’s Susquehana River in 1775. Two years later, he joined Colonel Butler. Some of Kentner’s duties included foraging for food. Using his own money, he bought cattle from loyalist farmers, but did not charge the crown. If Butler’s men came upon cattle belonging to rebels, they butchered them on the spot or stole them for future use.

During a battle at Fort Stanwix, rebels imprisoned Kentner. He fled to Niagara after his release and eventually joined the second battalion of Sir John Johnson’s regiment, serving until the war came to an end.

After 1783, Kentner settled in the loyalist refugee community of Yamachiche, midway between Quebec City and Montreal. Four years later, he travelled up the St. Lawrence River to seek compensation for the cattle he had bought for the British army and for his lost Pennsylvania land. Frederick Auger, another German loyalist soldier in Butler’s regiment was one of those who testified on Kentner’s behalf.

Garton DeWitt had a farm on the Delaware River when the war began. Born in the Thirteen Colonies, DeWitt did what he could to help British scouts until rebels burned his property and forced him to hide in the forest “for some time”.

Nathan Parke, a friend of DeWitt’s, testified on his behalf. A native of Connecticut, Parke had to abandon his land, furniture, utensils, and a loom to seek sanctuary, but not all of his losses could be attributed to the rebels. Colonel Butler’s regiment had taken Parke’s livestock to feed the king’s soldiers.

Henry, Michael, and Jacob Markly were three German brothers who settled in Tryon County, New York with their father and mother in 1758. After the revolution began, Henry fled to Canada in 1777 and joined a loyalist regiment. He was wounded in battle and imprisoned for three years. Michael and Jacob Markly fought for King George III by enlisting in the First Battalion. In 1783, these three brothers and their mother eventually settled in what is today Cornwall, Ontario.

When they appeared before the loyalist compensation hearings in Montreal in January of 1788, the Markly family had decided to let Jacob receive whatever the British government would grant for the loss of their property in New York.

Jacob inherited his father’s 200-acre farm and had bought an additional 200 acres of land. He grew grain, owned a number of farming utensils (mentioning a potash kettle in particular) and furniture besides 9 horses, 4 cows, 3 calves, 3 heifers, and 26 hogs. When the three brothers joined the British forces, their mother was left in charge of the farm, but American patriots drove her off. Rebels eventually sold the Marklys’ livestock and homestead “on account of their loyalty”.

George Christie was a Scottish immigrant who settled in Bennington, New York in 1775. The local rebels imprisoned the loyalist for being a member of General Fraser’s secret service.

Samuel Rose, a former cellmate of Christie’s, spoke on the spy’s behalf, testifying that he had given aid to other loyalists who had been held in rebel jails. A veteran himself, Rose had participated in scouting missions with Joseph Brant’s men and was in active service when the revolution came to an end. He, too, had to watch his livestock being taken away by British troops to feed the king’s soldiers.

By 1778, George Christie and his family had fled to Canada. After serving with the Royal Regiment for five years, Christie settled in Cornwall, Ontario. But his troubles were far from over. During the early months of the winter of 1788 his house was “destroyed by water and ice”, putting his family in great distress.

Alexander McDonell suffered more than the mere loss of property for his loyalty. Within three years of immigrating to the New York, McDonell’s poltical convictions brought him to Canada in 1776 where he joined the 85th regiment; he did service for the next seven years. During a battle, McDonell was wounded, losing the use of either his right hand or leg (the exact word is missing in the original record). In 1783, he was discharged as an invalid. McDonell’s testimony before the board must have been poignant. The records note “Claimant is so deaf that it is impossible to get any information from him.”

While McDonell may have been difficult for his contemporaries to understand, you can almost hear the indignation in the transcript of William McLeod’s testimony. The Scot had only been in New York for four years when events forced him to flee north to Canada. He had had seven cows and a mare on his 50-acre farm, and had two indentured servants helping him work his land. A Mr. Stewart, who claimed to be a loyalist in hiding, offered to buy McLeod’s mare for £20. Then, much to McLeod’s dismay, Stewart stole the horse and “escaped to the rebels”!

Although they were maintained as records of losses, the transcripts of the loyalist compensation board provide insight into the experiences of Ontario and Quebec’s refugee settlers. War wounds, horse theft, espionage, and imprisonment are just a few of the details brought to light. Watch for the third and final article in this series in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

Celebrating the Centenary of Loyalist Settlement in Upper Canada, Part 3

From Adolphustown, the focus of the celebrations of the Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada by the United Empire Loyalists 1784-1884 moved on to Toronto. There, the Committee of Management, or at least those residing in Toronto, were listed as Wm. Canniff Esq. M.D. Chairman, His Honour, Lt.- Gov. John Beverley Robinson, Lt. Col. George T. Denison, Hon. Alex Morris M.P.P., Hon. Geo. W. Allan, A.McLean Howard, Rev. Dr. Withrow, D.B. Read. Q.C., Salter J. Vankoughnet, J.F. Bryan, Dr. James Baldwin, Dr. J.H. Richardson, W.H. Merritt, His Honour Mr. Justice Rose, Dr. Geo. S. Ryerson, Alderman Fred Denison, James H. Morris, Rev. Dr. Rose, Canniff Haight, Rev. Hugh Johnston, Rev.

Dr. Caven, Rev. Canon Scadding, Dr. Daniel Wilson, Rev. Prof. Greg, Dr. J. S. King, Rev. S.S. Rice, Rev. E.H. Dewart, John Playter, John J. Withrow, His Honour Judge Macdougall, Chas. F. MacDonald, D’Alton McCarthy Q.C., Mayor Boswell, Dr. S.D. Hagel, Rodney Moore, Rev. Septimus Jones,Rev. D.J. Macdonnell, J.C. Dent, A.N. Gamble, W.A. Foster, Wm. Roaf, J.R. Roaf, D.W. Clendennan. Serving as secretary was C. Edgerton Ryerson. The assistant secretary was Septimus A. Denison. There were 132 other names listed as being members of the General Committee.

The United Empire Loyalist Centennial Celebration in Toronto was commenced on the morning of Thursday, July 3rd, 1884, in the Horticultural pavilion, the gathering taking the form of a public meeting, interspersed with musical selections. For a morning meeting the attendance was exceptionally good, the hall being about filled. There were a few members of the First Nations present, descendants of those who accompanied the Loyalists to Canada in 1784. In the rear of the platform hung the old flag presented in 1813 to the 3rd Regiment.

The chairman, Dr. Canniff, in his welcoming address spoke of the differences with the semi-centennial celebrations of the city. Our celebration differs from the city’s in this respect—that it is held under the auspices of the Provincial Government. While the substantial aid afforded by a Government Grant is thankfully recognized, the great gratification is that the worthy U.E. Loyalists of the province were officially recognized. In so doing the Government honours itself no less than the pioneers of the province.

Following the introductory remarks by the chairman, Mr. Sims Richards sang “Rule Britannia” in a manner which evoked great enthusiasm, each verse being greeted with applause .Hon G. W. Allan*then addressed the gathering. He was followed by “Home Sweet Home” sung by Miss K.C. Strong and a recitation by Mrs. Charlotte Morrison of a poem, ”The United Empire Loyalists*” specially written for the occasion by Rev. LeRoy Hooker of Kingston. Judge Dean of Lindsay was to have spoken next, but in his absence, Chief Green*, a Mohawk of Tyendinaga and descendant of Joseph Brant gave the next address. Mr. Warrington then sang in splendid style the well-known patriotic song “If England to Herself be True” and in answer to an enthusiastic encore, sang “Who’s for the Queen?” with equal spirit.

Prior to introducing the next speaker, Lieutenant-Colonel George T. Denison*, the Chairman exhibited the Communion set presented to the Mohawks in 1711.

Miss Foster, of Guelph, then sang “A Loyalist Song”, a beautiful production, the beauties of which were fully brought out by Miss Foster. She was loudly applauded and the people insisted on a recall. She came back and repeated the first verse. Mrs. Morrison then gave another reading, “Loyalist Days*”, commemorative of the traits and deeds of the United Empire Loyalists, which was loudly applauded. The author was Mrs. Kittson of Sorel, PQ.

Following “The Maple Leaf for Ever” sung in splendid style and with great feeling by Mr. E. W. Schuch, the Bishop of Niagara gave the benediction ending the morning activities.

In the afternoon between three and five o’clock, His Honour Lieut.-Gov. Robinson gave a reception at Government House. The band of the 10th Royal Grenadiers was present and played for some time in the beautiful grounds outside the conservatory. Several interesting addresses were delivered, His Honour* being the first to speak. He was succeeded by Rev. LeRoy Hooker of Kingston, Mr. Kirby of Niagara, Lieut.-Gov. Aikins of Manitoba, and the Rev. Mr. Anderson.

His Honour Lieutenant-Governor Robinson then made a few additional remarks and the visitors withdrew.

The next and third celebrations were to take place in Niagara that August.

*(See here for recorded text of the addresses as displayed in The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada by the United Empire Loyalists, 1784-1884).


Cornwall Loyalist Cairn: Planning and Funding

I am a member of the 225 anniversary committee of the founding of Cornwall – the place (in my opinion at least) where Ontario began. On June 6, 1784 a group of refugees from the American Revolution, known as the United Empire Loyalists, landed on the banks of the St. Lawrence, not far from where the Cornwall Community Museum now stands.

It is the intention of the anniversary committee to erect a cairn to the memory of this group of individuals as well as other groups of immigrants who came to the area via the St. Lawrence and Cornwall. It is to be a memorial to the tenacity and fortitude of those individuals.

We are hoping to raise the 10,000 dollars needed to construct the cairn through the donations of individuals and/or organizations. If just 100 people were to donate 100 dollars each, or 1,000 people just $10. each, the objective would be met and this cairn would become a memorial to the memory of our ancestors. Of course, any amount is most welcome and tax receipts will be issued as requested.

Time is of the essence. If you like to donate to this cause, then please contact Ian Bowring {Ian10 AT bellnet DOT ca} at the Cornwall Community Museum in the Woodhouse, or me, Carol Goddard {carol DOT goddard AT sympatico DOT ca}. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Mark June 6 2009 on your calendar to come to Lameroux Park and celebrate 225 years of history.

…Carol Goddard, UE, A Past-President of St.Lawrence Branch

Honorary Vice-President Promotes Loyalist Studies

The recent issue of The Patriot, the newsletter of the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York, indicated that our Honorary Vice-President Todd Braisted continues to promote a balanced view of the American Revolution. The Patriot reports that “as many as 50,000 American colonists were raised by the British for service against their fellow countrymen.” As co-creator of the On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies, Todd will discuss the “raising and campaigns of those American corps in the service of Great Britain” at the Fraunces Tavern on February 26.

In addition, to this presentation, Todd advised that he has already given one lecture this year, and has four others lined up through to the beginning of June, including a Loyalist symposium in Maine in early June. While in the area, he hopes to visit Saint John, New Brunswick which was just about a second home for him throughout the eighties. Since he hasn’t been there since 1996, he is very much looking forward to that opportunity.

Todd also offered an advance on some new Loyalist things on the horizon. He has assisted with a new book coming out on Loyalists later this year. More information as to title and publisher will follow closer to actual publication. He also sent Peter Johnson a copy of the new American Revolution Magazine, published by David Reuwer, a friend of his in South Carolina. As Todd is also on the editorial board and a columnist for the Loyalists, Peter was kind enough to offer to review it for the UELAC. Todd also hopes that a second volume to the Bergen County book he co-authored, with least two more Loyalist chapters, will be out before Christmas.

UELAC benefits from his active schedule.


“Rascals and Numskulls”: A Play about Robert and Phoebe Land

Presented by Artword Theatre. Written & Directed by Ronald Weihs, Music by Gary Santucci, Design by Judith Sandiford. Performed by the Artword Theatre Ensemble

“Rascals and Numskulls” is a new original Canadian play that follows the thrilling real-life adventures of Robert and Phoebe Land. Robert Land, a United Empire Loyalist, was a secret agent for the British army in the American Revolution. Captured and condemned to death, he escaped the hangman and fought in Mohawk leader Joseph Brant’s guerrilla army. Robert was the first settler in Hamilton. His wife, Phoebe Land fought an equally courageous battle protecting her family in the midst of a terrible civil war. Presented in comedy-style, the “Rascals and Numskulls” of the play’s title are the American and British leaders of the time. The play is being performed at The Pearl Company, 16 Steven Street (at King William) in Hamilton, Ontario, February 12-22, 2009 at 7:30pm (Thurs-Sat) & 2:00pm (Sundays)

Click here for more informastion.

…Bev Craig UE, Col. John Butler Branch

At last…A Rev War Magazine

There seem to be magazines covering every imaginable topic, and even within the History category there are several that focus on the American Civil War and World War 2. Finally there is a newsstand magazine which has a focus on ‘our’ era – the American Revolution. It’s called “American Revolution, Magazine of the American Revolution Association”.

The first issue is out now and you can acquire a five-issue subscription for #36. US from American Revolution Association, P.O. Box 1716, Camden, SC 29021 USA. The editor can be reached at {editor AT americanrevolutionmag DOT com}.

What can you expect inside? Given that it is an American magazine, there is bound to be some ‘hurrah-for-the-Patriots’ stuff, but there certainly is the promise of addressing the Loyalists in fairness. On the editorial board is our own Honorary VP Todd Braisted who will undoubtedly contribute many articles of interest to Loyalist descendants, and Jim Piecuch whose recent book on the Rev War in the South is an eye-opener. A highlight for me in the first issue was Scott A. Miskimon’s “Suprise Shatter at Lenud’s Ferry” about a British Legion victory over the Rebels in 1780. Look for a fuller review in a future Loyalist Gazette.

…Peter W. Johnson UE, Past President, UELAC

Measha Brueggergosman, Celebrity Loyalist Descendant

Last week, I caught a re-broadcast of Who Do You Think You Are? with Don Cherry. At the end, they gave a preview for this week featuring Measha Brueggergosman. If you can locate when it will be aired in your region, you may appreciate celebrating Black History month and Loyalist heritage in the same programme. Click here for more information.


Offer/Query: Seeking Descendant of Nathaniel Ray/Rae Thomas; Confiscation Document Available

An elderly Maritimer has a confiscation document for the loyalist, Nathaniel Ray/Rae Thomas of Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. Thomas was named in the Massachusetts Conspiracy Act and in the Banishment Act. He made a claim for compensation in Halifax in 1782 and was a settler in Shelburne at that time.

The survival of a document that noted what property/goods were taken from a loyalist by a rebel colony is amazing. It is a rare artifact worthy of placement in a provincial or national archive. However, what is even more astounding is that this document will be given freely to anyone who can show that they are a descendant of Nathaniel Thomas. The present owner of the confiscation document would like it kept within the family rather than donate it to a museum.

In 1828 Thomas’s only daughter Sarah Rachael married the barrister Lewis M. Wilkins in Halifax. Sarah was living in Windsor, Nova Scotia before her marriage. Thomas may have had sons. The confiscation document may have spent some years in Ontario, so Thomas’ descendants may not be limited to the Maritimes. If you (or someone you know) can trace your lineage back to Nathaniel R. Thomas, please contact the editor of Loyalist Trails.

The Canadian Connection: Historical Programs in Northern NY

On Tuesday, 3 Feb 2009, at Noon in the auditorium of the Clinton County Community College, Celine Paquette, Co-Chair of the Quad Commission, with a power point presentation on Samuel de Champlain opened the commemoration for the Champlain Valley. School officials also announced their program titled “The Legacy of the Lake and its People”, which encompasses three themes: (1) Native American Cultural Heritage (8 July); (2) French Canadian Cultural Heritage ( 9 July); and (3) Legacy: 400 years of History in the Northern Champlain Valley (10 July).

Each day will run from 10 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. with numerous speakers and activities. Celine also announced that this is the official opening of the commemoration for upstate New York; and the last to do so because Vermont did it on First Night and Quebec in 2008.

On Monday, 2 Feb 2009, a program on Mathieu de Costa, a black interpreter, was held at SUNY-Plattsburgh. Presentation by a professor from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

De Costa was born in the West Indies during the 16th century. In the late 16th century and early 17th century De Costa had a reputation of being a valuable and highly paid interpreter for the Europeans and the Native Americans, possibly gained with contact with the Portuguese.

His knowledge consisted of English, French and Pidgin Basque, which was the dialect used by the natives in Acadia. It is believed that other blacks existed with the same capability. During the first decade of the 17th century, they participated in the operations conducted by the De Mons Company; and records show De Costa was in Tadoussac, Quebec, on the St. Lawrence River. Possible connections exist with Samuel de Champlain.

…Bill Glidden

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions are:
– Henry Buchner updated by Diane Faris, with certificate application
– Ainsley, Ozias updated by Diane Faris with certificate application
– Moore, John – from Eleanor Watson, submitted by Dave Clark

Last Post: L. Cdr. John Edward Merritt, CD, KH, UEL

Peacefully at home on Sunday, February 1, 2009, surrounded by his loved ones. Survived by his loving wife, Betty, brother Roy, sister Dorothy, sons, daughters and grandchildren. He was our Dad, brother, Grandpa, uncle, friend, volunteer, mentor, and a member of: Saint George, Order of Saint John, Knights Hospitaller, Regional Department of Engineering, Navy man and much more. John was very proud of his loyalist heritage and his Loyalist ancestor Joseph Merritt.

On-line tributes may be made at www.mem.com.

[submitted by Bev Craigm UE, Col. John Butler Branch]