“Loyalist Trails” 2009-22: May 31, 2009

In this issue:
“A Dirty, Trifling, Piece of Business” by Gavin Watt
Three Loyalist Widows of Quebec — © Stephen Davidson
Bicentennial Branch UELAC Historical Plaque Project 2009 “The Loyalists of the New Settlement”
Cornwall Cairn Ceremony Deferred
Regiment for Zenas Ross, Garrison Pioneer Cemetery
Ruth Redmond, UE: The Tradition of Red Geraniums on Lundy’s Lane
Historic King George III Medal Was Listed for Auction
Volunteer Recognition – Provincial Level
Congratulations to Robert McBride and Roy Lewis
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Last Post: FERGUSON, Doris Johnson (McWhinnie-Vogelsang)


“A Dirty, Trifling, Piece of Business” by Gavin Watt

A couple of years ago, I was driving down to the Mohawk Valley with my friend, Royal Yorker ensign, John Moore, and was telling him about the research I was doing for this new book, “A dirty, trifling piece of business.” John and I talked about the raids into the Mohawk and Schoharie and he was surprised to hear that, unlike the common impression that there was just one or two big ones a year, the raids came in a constant flood. In fact, in 1781 there were over thirty-five raids into the Mohawk, Schoharie and upper Hudson Valleys before the two big expeditions of October.

So, if you were a farm family somewhere near Canajoharie in the Mohawk, or Middleburg in the Schoharie, or Saratoga in the upper Hudson, you had to be on your guard constantly. You lived in an undercurrent of fear, tension and suspicion. Every stranger on the road; every flitting shadow in the woods; every random shot in the next valley; every column of smoke rising from over the hill – virtually every unexpected event was a potential threat to your life.

The title of the new book is a direct quotation from a report by Lieutenant-Colonel Marinus Willett, the rebels’ Mohawk Valley commander, regarding British-inspired activities in the Mohawk Valley when he described the war waged from Canada as “a dirty, trifling piece of business.”

Some raids were small and opportunistic. A small war band of Indians out for plunder and captives fell on an outlying farm, murdered some men and captured others, scared off the women, looted everything and set fire to the buildings, shot the livestock and dragged off some men and boys – a simple, quick, in and out raid. Or a different kind of opportunism, when a small war party of Mississaugas ambushed a detachment of Willett’s Levies and killed the captain and several men.

By the end of the 1781 campaign, Willett had lost seven captains, either killed, captured, turned traitor or gravely disobedient. In contrast, the British and Provincials had lost one. Willett, who had earlier seen much service and combat, later said that the 1781 season in the Mohawk was his harshest, most demanding experience of the war.

Other raids targeted ardent rebels for abduction, as carrying them off to Canada would damage rebel morale and disrupt their political and military systems. These personages could be exchanged for a senior Briton or loyalist being held captive. The 1781 campaign saw several of these attempts, some comical, some tragic. For instance, one ended with the senior agent running off with a young girl instead of his target.

Others were larger native raids. For example, Lieutenant John Docksteder of the Indian Department led a big party of Indians and Butler’s Rangers into the valley and had a major skirmish with Willett’s Levies and Tryon militiamen. Willett trumpeted this as a grand victory. You decide for yourself.

One of the greatest disasters to rebel arms that year was the catastrophic, perfectly-executed ambush of a company of rangers by Onondagas and Cayugas. The full details of this action are told in “Dirty, trifling.”

Then, there were the British Secret Service’s frustrating negotiations with the independent republic of Vermont. Big, gruff, blustering Ethan Allen and his brother Ira were key players in these talks, long before Ethan had made a stick of furniture. (Ha, Ha!) The great success of these negotiations was keeping Vermont out of the war and giving the British free-reign of Lakes Champlain and George. Secret Service operatives were drawn from the King’s Rangers, Royal Yorkers and Peters’, Jessup’s and McAlpin’s Corps.

The two climactic expeditions came in October. Major John Ross, commander of the second battalion Royal Yorkers, led detachments of the 8th, 34th and 84th Regiments, Butler’s Rangers and his own battalion, and a handful of Hanau riflemen, with a large party of Six Nations and allied natives, deep into the Mohawk Valley, almost to Schenectady, without a single rebel scout discovering their presence. The raid burnt out Warrensbush, then moved to Johnstown and fought a hot action near Johnson Hall. On the withdrawal, Captain Walter Butler was killed at West Canada Creek.

An almost simultaneous second expedition was led by Lieutenant-Colonel Barry St. Leger south on Lake Champlain to Ticonderoga. He led the Light and line companies of the 29th, 31st and 44th, a large detachment of Hanau Jaegers and all of Rogers’ King’s Rangers and Jessup’s King’s Loyal Americans and the other small loyalist units. This large expedition did very little fighting; its major role was a feint to draw off rebel forces, which it most successfully accomplished, and to bring the Vermont negotiations to a climax – for which purpose it failed.

Now, a confession – this is a very large book. In fact, it’s too big. So, for anyone who had trouble plowing through my earlier books, this one will be tough. And, there’s a cast of hundreds of characters. Not quite as bad as Doctor Zhivago, but too close for comfort. I don’t apologize for this problem – that’s just the way the war was. Another confession. “Dirty, trifling” is Volume 1. Volume 2 is just around the corner, and it’s another big one. Its title is “I am heartily ashamed,” which is a direct quotation from Governor Haldimand’s reaction when he heard the terms of the peace treaty, which were so grossly unfavourable to Canada, the native allies and the loyalists.

“A Dirty, Trifling, Piece of Business” by Gavin Watt

Volume 1: The Revolutionary War as Waged from Canada in 1781

research assistance by James F. Morrison and William A. Smy

504 pages, paper | 86 b&w illustrations, CAD $35.00 ISBN 978-1-55488-420-9

NOTE to UELAC Branches, and others: It’s been quite some time since I’ve visited the various Ontario branches and given a talk and I would like to do so again. Such visits give me a chance to sell some books and to tell the membership about my latest research. A stipend to cover travel expenses is aways appreciated.

…Gavin Watt {gk DOT watt AT sympatico DOT ca}

Three Loyalist Widows of Quebec — © Stephen Davidson

Given that history has left us with very few documents that tell the stories of loyalist women, it is especially difficult to appreciate all of the experiences endured by Canada’s refugee founders. However, when the male head of the household died during the Revolution, it fell to his widow to represent his family before the loyalist compensation boards. Were it not for the tragic loss of a husband and father, we would not have the documented testimonies of loyalist widows — stories that would otherwise have been lost forever. Here are the accounts of three widows who came before the compensation board in Quebec City between 1787 and 1788.

Before the outbreak of the Revolution, Rachel and James MacIntosh had farmed 215 acres in Ticonderoga, New York where they had a “good dwelling house” and a barn. James was an immigrant from North Britain who had fought in the Seven Years War. Though childless, the couple enjoyed a degree of financial prosperity. They ran a public house, did some trading, and therefore “had a great many articles of various kinds”.

Although most of his neighbours sided with the rebels, James remained loyal. He joined General Burgoyne’s army “at the first opportunity” and served as a pilot for the region’s lakes. Left at home, Rachel had to face the local rebels alone. They stole all of the MacIntoshes’ livestock, burning their home to the ground. Her testimony before the compensation board did not disclose where she spent the remainder of the revolution, but by 1783 she and James were reunited. Within two years, James died, leaving all his worldly goods to Rachel.

Rachel remarried, becoming the wife of a soldier. Mr. Brian had served the crown in the 31st Regiment. While this marriage may have been the result of mutual attraction, it was also a very convenient economic arrangement. Rachel had the support of a husband, and Mr. Brian could begin a new life in Canada with whatever compensation the British government would grant Rachel for the losses she and her first husband had suffered.

Mary Bebee‘s family had owned 300 acres of land in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania before they took refuge in Yamachiche near modern day Trois Rivieres. In 1778, Mary’s husband Joshua had joined Butler’s Rangers, and marched off for New York. Mrs. Bebee and their seven children fled north to Canada to await Joshua’s return. Within a year, Mary’s husband was dead. He had not fallen in battle, but was one of the thousands of victims who died during the smallpox epidemic that swept through the Thirteen Colonies during the Revolution.

Mary was now in a refugee community without a husband, friends or relatives — the sole provider for her seven children. At the time of their father’s death, Edward was 14, Secord 12, Charlotte 11, Emerson 9, Esau 8, Sarah 3, and little Job was only one year old. Despite the odds that she would ever marry again, Mrs. Bebee met a discharged soldier named Christopher Pearson who eventually asked for her hand.

Pearson was an Englishman who had come to America in 1771. Within six years, he had 100 acres in Burlington Patent, New York. There he built two log houses, maintained livestock, and made his living as a breeches maker. Although his rebel neighbours confined Pearson to his home, he eventually escaped. For the next six years the Englishman served in Butler’s Rangers. In 1783, he was among hundreds of other loyalists who arrived at Yamachiche, the refugee settlement that Mary Bebee and her seven children had called home for five years.

The story of Christopher Pearon and Mary BeBees’s courtship goes unrecorded. The newlywed couple and Mary’s children did not stay in Yamachiche, but settled in North Carlisle. On July 31, 1787, Christopher and Mary appeared before the British government’s commissioners in Quebec City to claim compensation for their wartime losses. What they received is not recorded, but in her testimony, Mary gave further details about her children. Edward Bebee (then 23) was living at Niagara; his sister Charlotte (then 20) was the wife of S. Chatterton, a settler at Chaleur.

Another loyalist widow who had once called New York her home was Catherina Cruikshank. She was the wife of a Scotsman named Alexander, a very prosperous Albany merchant. Cruikshank housed his wife and their three daughters with a very comfortable two-story home worth at least £800. Alexander owned an orchard, had a silversmith tenant, and operated a leather-tanning yard.

Because of the assistance he offered local loyalists, rebels imprisoned Alexander for nine months. They suspected that his business trips to New York City were merely his way of delivering military intelligence to the British army. After some time in a local jail, Alexander was transferred to a derelict ship that was used as a floating prison. After escaping to the British lines in 1777, he joined General Burgoyne.

Catherina stayed at their Albany home until rebels drove her out. They seized her horses, took her African slave, and made off with her furniture, eventually selling all of these things to Catherina’s former neighbours. Adding insult to injury, a friend whom the Cruikshanks had entrusted with items from their store took the stock and kept it for himself

Catherina and their daughters were eventually reunited with Alexander in Quebec in 1783. They made the city their home. Within two years Alexander died, leaving Catherina the sole guardian of Elizabeth, Ann, and Sarah. In 1787, Catherina appeared before the compensation board in Quebec City with a detailed list of all that Albany’s rebels had stolen. Two respected officers, Major Edward Jessup and Lt. Philip Lansing, spoke on her behalf. Her detailed case, prominent witnesses, and young daughters no doubt won her the guarantee of financial aid from a grateful crown.

The accounts of loyalist widows who appeared before the British compensation board will continue in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

Bicentennial Branch UELAC Historical Plaque Project 2009 “The Loyalists of the New Settlement”

Beginning in 1790 those Loyalists who served in the British Army with Butler’s Rangers and other Loyalist groups, were the first to be granted land in the New Settlement in 200-acre parcels. On November 29, 1793, United Empire Loyalist Andrew Alcock (Ulch) petitioned for land to erect a grist mill in the New Settlement on Mill Creek. He received his patent for Lot 1, W.D. in 1797. Lot 1, stretching two miles north from the shoreline and encompassing what is now Lakeside Park. His was among 97 original lots granted to the Loyalists. Later, 13 lots were added to the east of Lot 1. The dividing line is known as Division Street in the South and Division Road in the North.

In 2007, following the successful hosting of the Dominion Conference 2007 in Windsor, Ontario, Bicentennial Branch began a project to install a historical plaque to mark the original land grants made to Essex County Loyalists. This project nears completion In honour of Loyalist Day in Ontario and to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Bicentennial Branch, a plaque unveiling and dedication ceremony will take place at 2 p.m on June 20, 2009 at the intersection of Main Street and Division Street in Kingsville, Ontario. Light refreshments will follow.

The production of such a plaque is costly. Branch funds, as well as income from the sale of Loyalist Roses at the 2007 UELAC Conference are being used toward the expenses. We still need donations in order to complete this project. We hope those in the community and those with ancestors who settled and lived in the area at one time will support this branch project with a donation, and if possible, join us on June 20. All donations are eligible for a tax receipt.

Donations by cheque: Make donation cheques payable to the UELAC and indicate on the cheque Bicentennial Branch Special Fund 2009. Mail donations to: UELAC Dominion Office, 50 Baldwin St., Suite 202, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5T 1L4.

On-line Donations: For on-line donation purposes our project is designated Bicentennial Branch Special Fund 2009. For information on how to give to this project visit UELAC donations.

Questions can be directed to {newsletter AT uelbicentennial DOT org} how do I email this address?

…Bonnie Schepers

Cornwall Cairn Ceremony Deferred

Due to unforeseen construction complications, the unveiling of the 225th anniversary cairn in Cornwall has had to be re-scheduled. The new “tentative” date is August 1, Simcoe Day. for more information, please contact Ian Bowring, curator Cornwall Community Museum in the Wood House, at {ian10 AT bellnet DOT ca}.

…Carolyn Goddard, UE

Regiment for Zenas Ross, Garrison Pioneer Cemetery

I have been pleased to note the progress of this worthy cemetery project and the hard work of those involved, and Chuck Ross UE in particular – see UELAC Grant. I do feel, however, compelled to comment on a line in the May 17th Trails. The reference is to Zenas ROSS UE being in the, “King’s Rangers, 84th Reg. KRRNY.” Can we please get our regiments straight? It’s rather like seeing a bird, and identifying it as a robin vulture seagull. All birds, but not the same bird. The 84th (Royal Highland Emigrants) and KRRNY (King’s Royal Reg’t of NY) are not the King’s Rangers. As it turns out Zenas ROSS UE was in (Roger’s) King’s Rangers.

…Peter W. Johnson UE, Past President, UELAC – beginning June 2 johnsonue@xplornet.com

Ruth Redmond, UE: The Tradition of Red Geraniums on Lundy’s Lane

Celebration 2012 — the City of Niagara Falls’ first event leading up to the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 was held on November 15th, 2008 at the Americana Conference Resort and Spa in support of the Lundy’s Lane Battlefield Legacy Project “making our mark for the benefit of future generations”.

Ruth Redmond UE was honoured at these celebrations. Born on August 22, 1902 in Holleford, Ontario, she came to Niagara Falls to teach at Stamford Collegiate in 1926 and lived here until her death in 1999. Ruth was a member of Col. John Butler (Niagara) UELAC and was very proud of her Loyalist ancestor Daniel Walker, who received his land grant in Ernestown, Addington County. Ruth descended from his son John who probably served in the 1st Flank Company 1st Regiment Addington Militia. According to “An Index of the Land Claim Certificates of Upper Canada Militiamen who served in the War of 1812 – 1814” compiled by Wilfred R. Lauber, published by The Ontario Genealogical Society, 1995, Pg. 99, John and Daniel Walker served in the 1st Flank Company 1st Regiment Addington Militia. They are very possibly sons of Daniel and stories of their experiences might have helped Ruth recognize the significance of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane in shaping our Canadian destiny and identity. She believed passionately that the site should be preserved and never used for commercial purposes. Described as a “Unique Canadian Patriot” she was determined to create a tribute to “Her Boys”, those soldiers who died during one of the bloodiest battles in Canadian history.

The Lundy’s Lane Battlefield is located in a largely commercial district of Niagara Falls just east of the intersection of Lundy’s Lane and Drummond Road. Ruth bought her first battlefield property in 1954 and when various levels of government failed to protect the battlefield lands from urban development she purchased five more properties over the years to save the Lundy’s Lane Battlefield. She lovingly transformed the properties into gardens called “Redmond Heights” planting hundreds of red geraniums. Ruth won many Trillium Awards over the years for the beautiful gardens she created.

On June 25th 1996, wanting to see the lands that she preserved from developers kept for future generations, Ruth donated them in their entirety (approximately 3 acres) to the City of Niagara Falls fulfilling her dream of an historic park as a lasting remembrance of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. The Battle Ground Hotel Museum was part of her gift.

On the bright, sunny morning of Easter Monday 1999, Ruth passed away peacefully at her beloved home atop “Redmond Heights” she was 96 years old. The previous evening, a four part documentary film, War of 1812 had premiered on TV Ontario. Ruth appears in the film’s epilogue, speaking wistfully of the death of remembrance for “the boys” who died at Lundy’s Lane. Her passing, the next morning, struck a chord across the nation. It was noted nationally in the media, with coverage in the CBC’s The National, Mclean’s Magazine, and the National Post.

Volunteers helped Ruth plant geraniums now you too can join the tradition by planting red geraniums in your gardens and at Branch Memorial sites in remembrance of the many Loyalists and their Sons who fought in the War of 1812.

Thanks to the Niagara Falls Board of Museums, City of Niagara Falls War of 1812 Bicentennial Task Force for the information they provided for this note.

[Submitted by Beverly Craig, UE]

[Editor’s Note – a private member’s bill may be tabled in the Ontario Legislature concerning Ruth, the red geranium and the War of 1812. We hope this will occur and will report on it as it does.]

Historic King George III Medal Was Listed for Auction

Posted By Rosalind Raby, Midnorth Monitor.

“The King George III Medal was given to my ancestor, Mishomis (Grandfather) Egonimey meaning Cornhanger – of the Arbre Croche of the Ottawas, together with two original documents, dated 1764, from the King,” explained Michael Cywink of Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve on Manitoulin Island. “He was the Chief of the Odawa, now also known as the Ottawas.”

“The medal was given to Egominey for his services to Sir William Johnson and Henry Gladwin in 1763 as a gift from King George III. He and two other chiefs were awarded for their services in helping the Crown reach the Treaty of Understanding held at Niagara Falls, and signed into law in 1764.

“I don’t know what happened to the other two coins, but the one in our family was passed down to the children for the past seven generations. We also have an original parchment that outlines the history of the medal, so it is well established as a family heirloom, which was given in trust and not to be sold. That is how most of our family feels.”

The documentation includes a Certificate from Henry Gladwin, Commandant of Detroit, which reads: “By Maj Henry Gladwin Esq Commandant of the Detroit and its dependencis/ This is to certify that the bearer Egominey/ a chief of the Ottawas of Michilimackinac is one of those who/ conducted that Garrison and the Garrison of Labay to Montreal/ last Summer; who from his good character merits the note/ of Sir William Johnson/ To all Concerned/ Given under my hand and Seal/ at Detroit the 4th July 1764/ Henry Gladwin.”

The second document, a Certificate from Sir William Johnson, Agent and Superintendant of Indian Affairs reads: “By the Honorable Sir William/ Johnson Baronet. His Majesty’s Sole/ Agent and superintendent of Indian/ Affairs for the Northern parts of North America/ Colonel of the six united sections their Allies and/ Dependants etc etc etc/ To Negominy(sic) These are to Certify that the Bearer/ an Indian Chief/ of the Ottawas Nations has been well recommended by the/ Officers commanding the out post for his Services in saving the/ Garrison of Michilimackinac and La Bay last year from the/ Fury of the Enemy and also taking them down to Montreal/ With the Traders Goods. For all which as well as for his behav/ iour here and the engagement he has now entered into/ before me. I give him this Testimonial as a proof of my/ Esteem for his Services/ Given Under My Hand and Seal/ at Arms at Niagara the first day / of August 1764 WM.Johnson”.

Read the full article here.

The medal was placed for auction at Bonham’s in Toronto as part of the sale number 17469 and within that Lot 28 – see description of George III Indian Peace Medal including pictures and images of the accompanying documents (double click on the images at the bottom of the page for larger versions). Due to concerns, the medal was withdrawn from the auction.

Volunteer Recognition – Provincial Level

As indicated in Saint John, recognizing the efforts and achievements of our volunteers is one of the three major goals of my presidency. Each year, The Honourable Michael Chan, Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration conducts several evening ceremonies in which volunteers are recognized. Unfortunately, the Ministry cannot release the names of the UELAC members nominated by their Branches in Ontario for reasons of privacy. In response to a request of Branch Presidents in the Executive Notes of May 14, the following nominees and years of service have been submitted so that our readers can celebrate the achievements of our “valued volunteers” as well.

Grand River Branch nominated David Hill Morrison (5 years); Marilyn Branch, Marilyn Haslinger, Claire Machan (10 years); William C. Terry, Ellen Tree (15 years).

Hamilton Branch nominated Marilyn Hardsand, Ruth Nicholson and Fred Hayward, each for the 10 year award.

London and Western Ontario Branch nominated Robert Tordiff and Herbert Norry (20 years); Ken Fitchett and June Klassen (5 year award). In addition, fellow member Gerry Tordiff received two awards, 5 years for English as a Second Language teacher and 20 years for Ontario Genealogical Society work.

Although no further information has been submitted regarding UELAC Branch involvement with similar provincial programmes, I trust that the time and efforts of our many volunteers are being suitably recognized.

…Frederick H. Hayward UE, President, UELAC

Congratulations to Robert McBride and Roy Lewis

Congratulations to those elected by UELAC Central Region East. The Regional Vice-President-elect Robert Collins McBride, U.E., Kawartha Branch and the Regional Councillor-elect Roy Lewis, U.E., Colonel Edward Jessup Branch will be installed in their respective offices at the Annual General Meeting of The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada, to be held at Adolphustown, Ontario, on Saturday, June 13, 2009, and will hold the said offices, for a term of one (1) year, that is, until the next following Annual General Meeting of the said Association, to be held in the year 2010.

…Robert Wilkins UE President, Heritage Branch, Administrator of the 2009 Election

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are:
– Miller, Andrew – from Catherine Fryer
– Sharp, Alexander – from R. Wallace Hale

Last Post: FERGUSON, Doris Johnson (McWhinnie-Vogelsang)

At the Cornwall Community Hospital on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at the age of 86. Retired high school teacher and proud member of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada. Cherished mother of Lynn Lafave (Brent) of Williamstown, and stepmother of Janice, George (Shirley), Darryl (Lise), Kerry (Robin), and Kent (Dianne) Ferguson. Sadly missed by her grandchildren Jesse (Lisa), Jordan, Jenna, Aaron, Cathy, Michael, Melissa, Travis, Connor and Emma, and by one great grandson Tristan. Predeceased by her husband Leonard Ferguson of Strathmore, her parents William and Margaret McWhinnie, her brother Warren (Rae) and her sister Marian McNaughton (Buddy). Survived by her sister Vivian Walker (Lorne) and by her brother Lester McWhinnie (Bernie). As expressions of sympathy Memorial Donations to the Canadian Cancer Society or to the Hospice Cornwall would be appreciated by the family. As a Memorial to Doris a tree will be planted in Memory Woods. A tree grows – memories live. Condolences may be made online at www.munromorris.com.

Our condolences to Doris’s family. She was a real supporter of the St. Lawrence Branch UELAC and was secretary for many years. She could always be counted on for Williamstown Fair and the Heritage Day to show the UEL flag.

…Andrea Harrison, Lynne Cook, Michael Eamer