“Loyalist Trails” 2009-24: June 14, 2009

In this issue:
A Most Determined Man — © Stephen Davidson
Loyalist Day in Three Provinces
Memorable Conference “Loyalist Settlement Experience 255” Concludes
Boston 1775: A Blog
Loyalty & Liberty: A Webcomic of the Coming of the Revolution
Last Post: Audrey Bernice Graydon Waugh, UE


A Most Determined Man — © Stephen Davidson

When Lieutenant John Clarkson opened the door of his Halifax lodgings late on December 9th, 1791, he was startled to find four Africans standing in the cold and dark. Since the English abolitionist was in charge of organizing a fleet of ships to take black loyalists to Sierra Leone, he was accustomed to receiving needy visitors. However, after Clarkson invited the men into his home, he was in for a shock. These four men had spent the last fifteen days travelling on foot to Halifax from Saint John, New Brunswick — a distance of over 300 miles!

His diary records the gist of the four men’s story: “These people were determined to quit a country, at the peril of their lives, whose inhabitants treated them with so much barbarity; they had the temerity to undertake a journey over land from St. John to Halifax, …. they set out for this Purpose the 24th last month, went round the head of the Bay of Fundy, & notwithstanding they had to combat with difficulties, that might appear insuperable to a considerate mind principally arising from the extreme closeness of woods, and the river they would be under the necessity of fording, they arrived safe & in good health, fifteen days after their departure from St. Johns.

The greatest distress must have driven these men to form a resolution so uncommon, and to preserve a journey so replete with danger & difficulty, their passage for a few days being through such parts as I am convinced were never before visited by man.”

One of the four black loyalists who undertook this amazing overland journey had once been called Richard Wheeler. However, by 1785 he had begun to use his African name, Corankapone. His name first appears in loyalist era documents as a passenger on the ship Clinton which sailed from New York in 1783 for the mouth of the St. John River.

The former Richard Wheeler was a healthy 30 year-old bachelor who had bought his freedom in 1776 from Caleb Wheeler, his master in New Jersey. Although over 210 black loyalists sailed with Corankapone, fifteen of them were to become close friends in the new colony of New Brunswick and would look to him as their leader. Their surnames included Holland, Cole, Sampson, VanRyper, Francis and Stewart. They had once been enslaved in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and South Carolina as well as New Jersey. In 1783, they thought they were about to embrace the life of free men as they settled alongside white loyalists at the mouth of the St. John River.

However, the racist attitudes of the late 18th century accompanied the British officials and loyal refugees who were settling in New Brunswick. Blacks were denied the right to any occupation within Saint John other than as menial labourers or servants, the right to fish in the harbour, or the right to have a trade. By January 1785, their situation had become unbearable. Thirty-four black loyalists, including his 15 shipmates, asked Corankapone to be their “captain” and petition the government for land outside the city.

Corankapone’s petition reviewed their situation: That the Authority at Carleton were pleased to set apart Small Lots … upon which they have Built and now reside – That they find by Experience that they, their Wifes and Children cannot subsist … and are under Apprehensions of Suffering this Winter, Labour and Provisions being so very Scarce … That Your Petitioner hopes that those that knew him think he sincerely desires that the Blacks, should lead Industrious, honest Lives and instead of being a Burthen, should be an Advantage to the Community … Your Excellency’s Petitioner therefore most humbly Prays a Grant may be made to the Blacks named in the annexed List of the Land … or such Relief in their Wretched Circumstances. ”

The black loyalists did not receive their grants until 1787. How they survived in the intervening years goes unrecorded.

By 1791, the unfair treatment of the black loyalists came to a head. Thomas Peters, a sergeant in the Black Pioneers, went to England to plead for his people. Peters returned with news that the loyal blacks would be given free passage to western Africa to found the colony of Sierra Leone.

However, the racism that had made settling in New Brunswick so difficult for Africans now threatened to forbid the black loyalists from leaving the colony. Lt. Clarkson’s diary tells the tale: they had been prevented from embarking with Peters and since detained under a false pretence of debt; … and when they found that the generality them were not in debt, they contrived to produce false Indentures & Agreements to deter them, and at length said, that none should go, who could not produce his Free Pass, knowing that many of them had lost theirs, others were so worn out, as to render them unintelligible.”

The black loyalists were a source of cheap labour that the colonial government did not want to lose, and it used every legal trick to prevent the Africans’ departure. The cruelest ploy was to demand that if the black loyalists wanted to leave New Brunswick, they must produce their “free pass” or “General Birch certificates”. These pieces of paper had been given to them in 1783 to certify that they were recognized as free men by the British government. Most of these documents had been lost or damaged over the intervening eight years.

In the end, no amount of government interference could dampen the determination of the black loyalists to secure justice and a new home. Although they had been denied access to the ships taking other black loyalists to Halifax, Corankapone and his friends did not give up. They walked into the New Brunswick wilderness, travelled around the head of the Bay of Fundy and then trudged through the snow south to Halifax.

Richard Corankapone’s determination had sustained him throughout the Revolution, the evacuation to New Brunswick, and his settlement in the northern wilderness. It would serve him well in the loyalist colony of Sierra Leone. That story will be told in the next issue of Loyalist Trails.

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

Loyalist Day in Three Provinces

This weekend, many UELAC Branches will mark the twelfth anniversary of the first observation of Ontario’s UEL Day in 1998. Previously, with the encouragement of Bernice Wood Flett,the UELAC President (1996-1998), Harry Danford, the Member of Provincial Parliament for Hastings-Peterborough developed a Private Member’s Bill to declare June 19th, the anniversary of the Constitutional Act, as “United Empire Loyalist Day.” Following Royal Assent, the Bill passed into law in December 1997. Ever since the First Union Flag was raised at the Ontario Legislature in June 1998, similar ceremonies and observations have been conducted throughout Ontario as well as across Canada.

This year, there will be two extra special celebrations. Two Branches organized by John Chard (UELAC President 1966-1968) mark their 25th anniversary in 2009. On the 19th, Regina Branch will once again conduct a service at the UEL Cairn dedicated in 2005 as well as hold a special luncheon to mark both the 25th anniversary of their charter and their 9th consecutive UEL Day in Saskatchewan. On the 20th, Bicentennial Branch will unveil a plaque dedicated to the United Empire Loyalists in Kingsville. Their anniversary luncheon will be held later on the 19th of September, when the Dominion President can join them.

On the 19th, Loyalist Flag Raising Ceremonies will be conducted by the Toronto, Gov. Simcoe, Kawartha and Hamilton Branches at the Ontario Legislature, Peterborough City Hall and the United Empire Loyalist Monument in Hamilton.

On the 20th following the luncheon, Edmonton Branch will visit the Bur Oak planted in 2006 on the grounds of the Alberta Legislature. Col. John Butler (Centennial Branch) will hold an early morning service at the Clock Tower/Cenotaph in Niagara on the Lake followed by a visit to the Butler’s Barracks and the Olde Angel Inn.

On the 21st, The Kingston Branch will present a Loyalist flag to St. Paul’s Anglican Church as part of their commemorative activities.

Further information can be found on the Branch websites and in their newsletters.

UELAC is stronger because of these public celebrations of our heritage.

…Frederick H. Hayward, UELAC President

Memorable Conference “Loyalist Settlement Experience 255” Concludes

Looking back on the Loyalist Settlement Experience 225, it is a great challenge to find sufficient superlatives to convey the success of the annual UELAC Conference in Napanee and Adolphustown.

Thanks to the leadership of Bay of Quinte Branch President Brian Tackaberry and the tireless efforts of his team of volunteers, everything including the weather, came together. Obviously those volunteers should be aware how well they contributed to the efficient and friendly conduct of every aspect of the conference: Bob Barber, Merle Burns, Susan Brose, Gerry Buss, Thelma Coulter, June Dafoe, Janet Eggleton, Jim Gubb, Norman Hawley, Cora Reid, Philip Smart as well as the representatives of the UEL Heritage Centre and Park, David Smith, Mike Putnam, Tom Riddolls and the UEL Park staff.

As the AGM is central to any conference planning, I may have had some initial apprehension about conducting the Annual General Meeting in a tent, but being within easy earshot of so much activity brought greater efficiency to the presentation of reports and the resolution of discussions. Encouraged by the re-enactment of the landing of the Loyalists, and the runners announcing the start of the presentation at the monument, delegates also finished the meeting of the Dominion Council in record time.

The Loyalist Settlement Experience 225 will be remembered for more than meetings. Bus tours to Babcock Mills in Odessa, the village of Bath, wineries and stops along the way provided an excellent opportunity to learn more about the past and present of this historic part of Ontario. With entertainment like “Gopher Baroque”, Sir John A. and Lady Agnes Macdonald, Sgt. Major David Moore and the Loyalist Fifes and Drums, we were able to appreciate other aspects of our heritage.

No doubt you will find more details in the coming weeks from those who experienced this most successful UELAC conference. We may have left Loyalist rose bushes at the Fairfield Gutzheit House in Bath and the St. Alban the Martyr UEL Memorial Church in Adolphustown, but we have come back home with far more memories and resources than can be described at one sitting. Thanks to the Bay of Quinte Branch, we are refreshed, energized and ready to ensure that others learn more about our Loyalist heritage.

…Frederick H. Hayward, President UELAC.

Boston 1775: A Blog

J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

Mr. Bell writes a blog called Boston 1775: History, analysis, and unabashed gossip about the start of the American Revolution in Massachusetts. This blog can be viewed at boston1775.blogspot.com.

One section of the blog is about Loyalists and therein you can find some interesting stories, about various people, some of whom have been mentioned in Loyalist Trails from time to time. The Loyalists section is here.

If you are looking for some interesting reading, check them out.

Loyalty & Liberty: A Webcomic of the Coming of the Revolution

Loyalty & Liberty is a webcomic that Tamara “Meezer” Clarke is producing here in Massachusetts. It’s a one-person labor of love, so the story appears slowly, about one page a week, and the punctuation in the word balloons isn’t always standard.

On the other hand, Loyalty & Liberty is one of the most detailed depictions of the coming of the Revolution that I’ve seen in comics form. The first story arc is titled “The Powder Alarm,” and it begins with the early-morning removal of gunpowder from the militia storehouse in Charleston (now Somerville).

Clarke and her husband are Revolutionary War reenactors, so she values accuracy in visual details. Most comics artists who come to depict this period don’t realize, for instance, that a regular infantry uniform was different from the uniform for a light infantryman, a grenadier, or a musician, or that different regiments wore slightly different uniforms, or that “redcoats” in the Royal Artillery were blue. Clarke is interested enough in British army life to portray rivalry between different types of soldiers.

This comic also promises to be more politically balanced than most. Clarke is Canadian, and originally intended to portray to Loyalists’ perspective on the conflict. Now she’s aiming to show both sides. And I plan to keep peeking in on her website regularly to see how the story is coming along. – J.H. Bell, Boston 1775.

To view the comic, go to loyaltyliberty.com and on the right, down from the top, click on “New Readers Click Here” and view the comic a page at a time – “next” button at the bottom. Be sure to read the historical comments on each page.

Last Post: Audrey Bernice Graydon Waugh, UE

WAUGH, Audrey Bernice Graydon UE, – 1917-2009 – died on June 1, 2009 in Niagara-on-the-Lake after a brief illness. She will be especially missed by husband Bob, sons Peter in California and Stephen and Christine in Michigan, grandsons Jesse, David, Peter and Daniel, his wife Carmela and their daughter Enrica, as well as by nieces, nephews and other family. Audrey’s ashes are being placed in the family plot in Cambridge’s Galt Cemetery.

Audrey’s loyalist ancestors were Butler’s Rangers Adam Crysler and Joseph Clement, both of St Davids and Gilbert Field of the (Niagara) River Road. Adam and Gilbert were married to daughters of Ralph Morden who was hung as a British spy near Philadelphia. There were connections by marriage with the Woodruffs, Secords and many other of the early families. The above relationships were through Audrey`s mother Violet Winnifred (Booth) Graydon and her great grandmother, Eliza Anne Field.

Our deepest sympathy to Bob and his family.

[Submitted by Lynne Cook and Beverly Craig]