“Loyalist Trails” 2009-16: April 19, 2009

In this issue:
Loyalist Witch Trial — © Stephen Davidson
Blacks Could Serve But in Only a Minimal Way in the Provincial Corps
Update: Cairn Project to mark the 225th Anniversary of the Founding of Cornwall
“Song of Our Ancestors,” by Carolyn Goddard, UE
Re-enactment of the First Worship Service in New Westminster BC
Central West Regional Meeting at London, Ontario on April 18, 2009
Call for Papers for Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2010 “Essentials, Innovations and Delights”
14th Genealogy “Summer Camp” Toronto, 7-12 June 2009, OGS Toronto Branch
Loyalist Trails can Help Climb Mountains
      + Response re Knitting Patterns
      + Sir Isaac Brock’s Route in War of 1812


Loyalist Witch Trial — © Stephen Davidson

Seated in a semicircle around Widow Barter’s fireplace, loyalist farmers crossed their arms and held each other’s hands. Bradbury Mills slowly read from the Bible. He called upon God to show them if the 90-year old woman they had placed in a red chalk circle was, indeed, a witch. If she were a witch, those gathered around her were sure that she would become as hot as the horseshoe they had just tossed into the fireplace.

Thus began New Brunswick’s first trial of a witch — a loyalist woman tried by fellow loyalists. As the burning logs began to heat the horseshoe that had been thrown into the fire, Abigail Barter tried to fathom what had brought things to such a head. A widow like Mrs. Tennant, Barter was the elderly woman’s caretaker, an arrangement that had been worked out between her late husband, James Barter, and William Tennant back in 1813.

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James Barter was a shipbuilder in Saint John, but after he married Abigail, the daughter of loyalist, he sought a grant of land up the St. John River. (Family legend says that he did not want his sons to be tempted to go to sea.) Abigail’s father, Martin Austin, owned land on Belleisle Bay, a body of water that fed into the St. John River just north of Kingston. It seems this is where James Barter hoped to settle, but he never received his grant.

Further down the bay from the Austin farm was a stretch of land belonging to William and Mary Tennant that spanned a small peninsula between Belleisle Bay and a small cove. The latter is known as Tennant Cove to this day. Barter became friends with the Tennants. He offered to look after them and manage their farm. In exchange for these services, the Barters would inherit the couples’ property after Mr. Tennant’s death. The elderly loyalist died in 1813, leaving his wife Mary in the care of the Barter family.

In 1818, Martin suddenly died, leaving Abigail to care for six small children, a farm and 90-year old Mary Tennant. Unbeknownst to them all, “Granny” Tennant would be the next to die.

Perhaps the fact that Mary had never had children set her apart from the women of Belleisle Bay and made them suspicious of her. Her erratic body movements and constant muttering certainly marked her as an eccentric, but she was considered harmless enough — until her neighbours began to see a pattern of strange events around the bay.

Apples withered before they could be harvested. Fences mysteriously fell over, allowing cattle into grain fields. Dinners burned over stoves. Sheep and cattle died for no apparent reasons. A neighbour’s home burned down although no one had been anywhere near the house for days. The loyalist settlers could only make one conclusion — there must be a witch somewhere along the Belleisle.

The settlers approached Bradbury Mills, a loyalist veteran of the American Revolution who had a farm on the southern shore of the bay. They asked him to hunt down the witch. He melted some silver and made a bullet for his musket. After firing the bullet into the air, Mills believed it would either kill the witch or at least stop her from doing any more harm.

However, on the following Sunday, Mills discovered proof that the witch was alive and seeking vengeance. Somehow, his prized oxen had been turned around with their heads facing the back of their stalls. Tearing out the wall of the oxen’s pen was the only way Mills could free them. Clearly, more than a silver bullet was needed to deal with such malevolent power.

Mills called a meeting of the local farmers. Following their discussions, they decided that Mary Tennant must be the root cause of all that had transpired, and soon a party of disgruntled loyalists was at the door of Abigail Barter’s home, demanding to try Tennant by fire.

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The semicircle of farmers held hands, waiting to see if the slowly heating horseshoe would have any affect on Mary Tennant. Suddenly the 90-year old woman screamed. “You are burning me up! Oh, my God, I’m burning!”

Abigail Barter sprang into action. Taking a broomstick, she boldly knocked the red-hot horseshoe out of the fireplace. Mrs. Tennant fell to the floor, and Abigail led her to bed. There, the elderly loyalist lay, moaning about burns on her skin that no one could see.

Three days later, Tennant suddenly screamed and started to beat her body. “They are burning me again!” Abigail could not bear to see the elderly woman’s agonies and sent the children to fetch the neighbours. Where was the horseshoe? Going to the hearth, Abigail found that someone had put the horseshoe back into the fire. Abigail quickly tossed the horseshoe out of the house.

Mary Tennant died that night. She was buried next to her husband William on their farm at Tennant’s Cove. Nothing more unusual disturbed the peace of Belleisle Bay.

Was Mary Tennant a witch? Abigail Barter, whose six young children shared a house with the elderly woman, certainly did not think so. Her care for the widow never wavered.

Did the idea of burning like a horseshoe placed in her own fireplace so upset Mary Tennant that she actually came to believe that she was on fire? Three days of living under this misapprehension would no doubt take its toll on someone in her nineties.

Fortunately, Mary Tennant was the only loyalist to ever be subjected to a trial by fire. Despite all of the tarring and feathering, the persecution, and the humiliation that the Revolution’s refugees experienced, it is sad to consider that they would be so willing to harm one of their own without having a shred of evidence. Mary Tennant’s story is a cautionary tale of how easily fear and distrust could turn neighbour against neighbour even though they were all loyalist refugees.

Blacks Could Serve But in Only a Minimal Way in the Provincial Corps

A point made in “Opinion of Loyalist Ancestry ” in last week’s Loyalist Trails does need clarification and correction.

There was only one documented Black in the New Jersey Volunteers, a fifer by the name of Cuff DeBois. Blacks were prohibited from serving in the Provincial Corps in America, other than as musicians and unarmed pioneers, and of course for the company of Black Pioneers, which was an unarmed unit.

Here is the order issued by Adjutant General James Paterson, at the recommendation of the Inspector General of Provincial Forces, Lt. Col. Alexander Innes:

“Head Quarters New York March 16th [1777] For his Majesties Provincial Troops. The Commander in Chief being desirous that the provincial Forces should be put on the most respectable Footing & according to his first Intention to be Composed of his Majestys Loyal American Subjects has Directed that all Negroes, Mulattoes, and other Improper Persons who have been admitted into these Corps be Immediately discharged; The Inspector Genl. of Provincial Corps will receive particular Orders on this Subject to Prevent such Abuses in future.”

Other “Improper Persons” was defined by Innes as sailors and Indians.

While there were a handful of Blacks in the Northern Army’s Provincial units (which were not under the authority of Lt. Col. Innes) most Provincial units were all white affairs. For more information, people can visit the section on Black Loyalists on my website: Loyalist Institute: Black Loyalists Index Page or they can pick up a copy of a book I co-authored on Black Loyalists, entitled “Moving On: Black Loyalists in the Afro-Atlantic World” published by Garland 10 years ago.

…Todd W. Braisted, HVP UELAC, www.royalprovincial.com, {ivbnnjv AT aol DOT com}

Update: Cairn Project to mark the 225th Anniversary of the Founding of Cornwall

The fundraising project for the creation of the cairn to mark the 225th anniversary of the founding of Cornwall (& Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry) on June 6, 1784 when the loyal refugees landed near what is now Lameroux Park is winding down. We have reached over 75% of our goal and the end of April will see the end of the campaign. The plans and the site for the cairn have been approved by the City of Cornwall, tenders have been received for its construction and once the SD&G Historical Society executive put their stamp of approval on it, the building of this cairn should commence. It will be between 4&5 feet tall, constructed of local rocks and will have an English and French plaque to tell the story of the loyalist encampment and subsequent immigrations to this area.

The plans for the ceremony are underway and formal invitations will be extended to all donors. If a donor has a loyalist ancestor, please let myself (carol DOT goddard AT sympatico DOT ca) or Ian (Ian10 AT bellnet DOT ca) know as that will be put on the souvenir program. However, if you are in the area and want to attend, come on down to Lameroux Park in Cornwall at about 11 am and join us. Doug Grant has generously donated two loyalist roses that will be planted on June 6, 2009 during the ceremony and it is hoped that a number of loyalists, including local and national executive members will be present.

It is probable that the Loyalist Prayer, provided by the associations historian will be used during the ceremony. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has donated to this project. The response from the UELAC members was overwhelming. One last thing, I have tried to contact the Loyalist Fifes and Drums, but can’t seem to get hold of them, if someone has a contact phone number, would you be so kind as to forward this to me. I have enclosed a poem which I have written on this subject, I hope you like it. Once again, thanks so much and I will get in touch with Loyalist Trails after the event.

…Carolyn Goddard, UE

“Song of Our Ancestors,” by Carolyn Goddard, UE

In 1784 a group of people came to begin new lives in what is now Ontario. There were three main points of entry, and what is now the City of Cornwall was one of these. On the banks of the St. Lawrence, United Empire Loyalists made a camp and began the long process of receiving British government supplies, drawing lots for their land grants and finally continuing either westward or eastward to forge new homes out of the wilderness. This poem is dedicated to the memory of these United Empire Loyalists.

In seventeen hundred and eighty four,
Boats full of refugees came to this shore,
With desires, dreams and determination –
This new land would be their salvation.
Men, women and children, their lives in disarray,
Camped in small groupings alongside the bay,
Drew supplies, lots for land and rested a while,
Then bravely began their new lives in exile.

Some went to the west, others to the east,
Yet many remained, their traveling had ceased,
Within a short time a town had been formed,
The banks of this river forever transformed.
We continue to welcome newcomers ashore,
Remembering always those times of yore,
When our ancestors came to make a new home,
After losing almost all that they had owned.

This is the song that our ancestors sing,
“Open your doors, be most welcoming,
To those who are weary and need a new life,
End all their sadness, relieve all the strife.
Give to newcomers the chances we had,
Their contributions we will gratefully add,
And then as one nation, we’ll face a tomorrow,
Full of love, life and liberty, instead of just sorrow.”

Re-enactment of the First Worship Service in New Westminster BC

A re-enactment of the first worship service in New Westminster featured some similarities to the service that occurred 150 years ago.

Queens Avenue United Church relived its past with a celebration of its first worship service, which took place on the banks of the Fraser River on April 3, 1859. A crowd of about 60 people attended a re-enactment of that service on Friday, April 3, 2009.

“It was really good,” said Janet White, the great-great-granddaughter of Rev. Edward White, a Wesleyan missionary who conducted the first service. “It was very emotional. I felt a tingle down my side. Then I felt an incredible calmness.”

Back in 1859, the service on the banks of the Fraser was attended by 50 men and one woman. In 2009, more than half of the people attending the re-enactment were women.

Janet White “portrayed” Caroline Kennedy, the first Caucasian woman to arrive in New Westminster. Rev. White, and later his family, stayed in her family’s tent in Queenborough, as it was first called.

Read the full article in the “The Royal City Record”. Rev. Edward WHITE’s son married into the John CARL and Leonard MISENER Loyalist families. Members of UEL Vancouver Branch, all dressed up in period clothing, “made the day.”

…Janet White, UE

Central West Regional Meeting at London, Ontario on April 18, 2009

With participation by members representing all seven branches of the Central West Region, the Annual Regional Meeting provided instructive sessions, informed discussion and the opportunity for great social interaction.

During his morning address, Dominion President F. H. Hayward emphasized the enduring contributions our region has made to the UELAC. We have a long history of loyal volunteers from Central West Region. The sincere dedication to our association, expressed by those who took part in the day, continues to impress me. Honorary Vice President Zig Misiak shared his vision for “Four Directions Youth Project”, a program he is creating to engage Native youth in learning more about the history and culture of the Six Nations people, and by extension and relationships, it has applicability to Black youth as well. (Picture of Zig and Fred.)

Other topics included Loyalist Cemetery Plaque Projects presented by Gord Dandy of Colonel Butler Branch with support by Doug Grant; Library and Archives by Martha Hemphill of Toronto Branch; Youth Involvement in the UELAC by Central West Regional Councillor Sue Hines of Grand River Branch; and an interactive presentation by Doug Grant on ‘Using the Internet to Tackle Our Objectives’.

Thank you to June Klassen and members of the London and Western Ontario Branch who hosted and to all who assisted in making this day a success! The 2010 Regional Meeting will take place April 17, again at the Westmount Library in London.

The annual election was held and by acclamation I will continue as Regional VP and Sue Hines as Councillor.

…Bonnie L. Schepers UE, Central West Region Vice President

Call for Papers for Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2010 “Essentials, Innovations and Delights”

Although a full year before the event, the Deadline is 1 May 2009

The OGS Toronto Branch will host the Society’s annual conference on 14-16 May 2010. OGS, founded in 1961, is a not-for-profit organization with more than 4,500 members. The Conference theme will be: “Essentials, Innovations and Delights”.

In keeping with this theme, the Conference aims to present information that is both relentlessly practical and inspiring. We will be especially interested in lectures that deal with (a) practical essentials, (b) recent innovations, or (c) one-of-a-kind case histories.

You are invited to submit proposals for lectures on any aspect of genealogical or social history research in Canada and/or countries of origin. In addition we are planning half-day in-depth programs on Italian and Dutch ancestry. We encourage proposals for lectures that could form part or whole of these streams. Most sessions will be one hour long. Topics for longer workshops will also be considered.

For more details about Conference 2010 and how to request further information and submit your proposals, please visit the official website. N.B.: The deadline for proposals is 1 May 2009

14th Genealogy “Summer Camp” Toronto, 7-12 June 2009, OGS Toronto Branch

Now in its 14th year, Genealogy Summer Camp (under co-ordinator Jane MacNamara) is an innovative week-long program that brings both out-of-town and local researchers with Ontario roots to the wonderful cluster of archives and libraries in Toronto. Each day, participants will travel as a group to a different repository, including the Archives of Ontario in its new location at York University, where they will receive tutorials on available records and spend time doing hands-on research under the guidance of local experts. The fee for 2009 is $200. This covers approximately 7 hours of tours and tutorials, 25 hours of instructor-guided personal research, and all worksheets and handouts. Both out-of-town researchers and local “day campers” are welcome.

For complete details, including lists of venues, resources and tutorials, accommodation information and an application form, please visit Genealogy Summer Camp 2009, call 416-733-2608 (voice mail), or e-mail {info AT torontofamilyhistory DOT org}. Applications should be submitted by 1 May 2009, although earlier contact is appreciated.

Loyalist Trails can Help Climb Mountains

I just want to thank you for Loyalist Trails; I have had some stunning results.

After reading a January issue of Loyalist Trails, I was able to contact and discover a new cousin, Eleanor Watson – a descendant of John Moore U.E. – now living on the other side of the country! Her friend had helped her, by submitting a query about her ancestors to Loyalist Trails. I am greatly indebted to this friend for, having contacted him, we began to exchange items of family research. He found that he in turn was related to me, through John Moore’s wife, Dinah Pettit. I sent him a photocopy of two pages from an article, published years ago, which contained a chapter about John Moore. Dave then found and was able to purchase a remarkable book entitled Pioneer Families of Northwestern New Jersey.

From the article and book, published in 1977 we have both made some stunning discoveries, such as both John Moore and Samuel Green (Dave’s forebearer) owned land on Jenny Jump Mountain, prior to the American War of Independence. Both families settled in Grimsby ON. Both were founder members of the First Municipal Council in Ontario, which met at John Green’s home. I am extremely grateful to Dave Clark for all his willingness to share and for his gracious response to my many questions.

It is highly possible that many other people could make real discoveries about their history, by purchasing a copy of “Pioneer Families of Northwestern New Jersey”, if their forebearers came from that area. Many thanks to Dave Clark – and to Loyalist Trails.

…Judy Nuttall


Response re Knitting Patterns

Thank You to everyone who sent me info re Loyalist/pioneer/colonial knitting patterns. Several people replied with information, places to contact and websites. The ones I found most useful with pictures, instructions and tips were:

– a Hamilton supplier of patterns, Loyalist and Regency clothing and accoutrements (from Sandra DeYoung UE CJB Br.);

Hand Knit Hose;

Notes on 18th Century Stockings;

Stockings 101;

– and although they are fingerless gloves, an interesting site.

My local knitting shop has lovely 100% cotton in a natural tone, as well as a nice dark blue. I hope to have a pair of stockings done for the Conference.

…Jo Ann Munro Tuskin, U.E. jmtuskin@sympatico.ca

Sir Isaac Brock’s Route in War of 1812

With the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 coming quickly, there are many plans afoot to celebrate it.

In August of 1812, Brock travelled from York [or Niagara] to Dover on his route to Fort Malden and the Battle at Detroit. In Cruickshank Vol. III, it is noted that Brock boarded a boat at Long Point, so he presumably went the rest of the way by water.

I am trying to find the route that Brock followed from his point of departure at York or Niagara to Dover and also to verify that he went the remiander of the journey by boat.

…Vincent Del Buono, CEO of the Niagara 1812 Legacy Council, {vdb1812 AT yahoo DOT com}