“Loyalist Trails” 2009-26: June 28, 2009

In this issue:
UELAC Dorchester Award
Help Preserve Upper Canada Village
Natural Selection and a Loyalist Scientist — © Stephen Davidson
Loyalist and Westminster Abbey
Loyalist Settlement in Quebec’s Eastern Townships
Bicentennial Branch UELAC Celebrating 25 years
UELAC Grants Committee
Grant to Col. John Butler Branch: Crown Grants of Loyalists and Early Settlers along the Niagara River Parkway
Pictures From the Encampment and Loyalist Landing at Conference on June 13
British Soldiers, American Revolution: A New Blog
Loyalist Connections of Notable Canadians
      + Dr. James Stuart and his Family


UELAC Dorchester Award

The UELAC Dorchester Award is awarded annually for outstanding volunteerism in the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada. Nominees for this award have gone “that extra mile” in service to UELAC at Branch, Region and Dominion.

This year’s award was presented in June at the Dominion Conference Gala Banquet in Napanee and the recipient was Mr. E. John Chard UE. John received support for this award from branches coast to coast.

John has been instrumental in the formation of 16 Branches of the Association. His loyalty to these branches did not end when the branch received its charter. He continues to be a member of many of them and continues to provide many photos, newspaper clippings and other information pertaining to their respective histories.

His dedication to the promotion of our United Empire Loyalist heritage, expressed in quiet but effective labours at both the local and Dominion levels, have made a significant contribution to the increased membership in our organization and to deepening Canadian’s knowledge of the Loyalists and their heritage. A list of achievements seems too matter of fact, when what is really required is heart-felt thanks from those of us who inherit the legacy of the UELAC built by one of it’s major craftsmen. See photo of Fred Hayward, John Chard and Gerry Adair.

…Gerald Adair UE, Chairman Volunteer Recognition Committee

Help Preserve Upper Canada Village

At the cessation of hostilities in 1783, United Empire Loyalists made their way from the United States of America to their new homes in many parts of Canada, including the shores of the St. Lawrence River in what is now Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. 60 years ago, with the creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway many of those first settlements, and an important part of our heritage, were flooded. Forever lost to the river were the towns of Milles Roches, Aultsville, Wales, Maple Grove and other settlements along the Front, where our loyalist ancestors carved homes out of a wilderness. While many homes and possessions of historical value were lost, the Government of Ontario made a promise to the people of this area, many of whom were of loyalist descent, and to population of Ontario that their history would be “recreated” in Upper Canada Village. Care was to be taken to ensure that the story of these first settlements would be preserved, protected and provided to the visitors to this village in a respectful manner.

Growing up in a family where history was discussed on a daily basis, I had many opportunities to visit Upper Canada Village near Morrisburg. To me it was a magical place where history seemed to come alive. It was a place where the village blacksmith or grocer could be a neighbour from down the street, a place where you could smell fresh bread baking, taste horehound, that old time confectionary, see a stagecoach in operation, hear the brrrrr of the saw as it cut lumber in the sawmill and maybe experience a bit of what life was like in 19th century Ontario. Just as I have changed over the years, it would seem time has changed our beloved Upper Canada Village. Originally it was to provide the visitor with demonstrations of the settlement of this area from the coming of the United Empire Loyalists to the end of the 19th Century. We have seen how the contribution of the Loyalists has been downplayed in the village, with more emphasis being put on life in the 1860’s. One of the most visible examples of this change was the renaming of the French-Robertson House to the Robertson House. Later changes included a reduction in the number of first person interpreters and the introduction of special events such as fall fairs, quilt shows, historical wedding ceremonies and historical funerals. To be fair, it would appear that some of these changes have been beneficial to the visitor experience at Upper Canada Village.

A few years ago, news of plans to build a historical “theme park” at Upper Canada Village circulated, complete with roller coasters, water slides and other activities being located near not only Upper Canada Village but in close proximity to the Crysler Farm Battlefield. While these plans were abandoned, a few years later similar ones surfaced, disappeared and once again, earlier this year, news began to filter out about more changes to Upper Canada Village. This time, many of the changes were in the process of being instituted before the general public got wind of them. Stories circulated of penny farthing bicycles being purchased for customer rental, of renovations associated with turning the historic Cook’s Tavern into a licensed tavern and of an abandoned building being turned into a concession stand where cold drinks and various sundries would be sold. There were also rumours of wide-screen television screens being put into buildings and hidden amplifiers in trees for the “Traveling Tilton’s”.

At two meetings held in the local area, people have been told that many of the changes which are being implemented are to ensure the viability of this local heritage site and to ensure compliance with government legislation. Other reasons for the changes include a steady decline in visitor numbers and a corresponding drop in revenue. Something had to be done to ensure the survival of Upper Canada Village.

Since late May 2009, local historical societies as well as members of the general public have begun to speak up about many of the changes that are occurring at the Village. There is widespread concern about the historical integrity of buildings undergoing renovations, about changes to village building schedules as well as communition problems which seem to exist between the St. Lawrence Parks Commission and the general public. There has been press coverage of the protests, which have included demonstrations, letter and email writing campaigns, meetings and attempts to contact Commission members.

As descendants of United Empire Loyalists,we have a duty to ensure that our heritage is preserved, protected and promoted in a respectful and meaningful manner. If you are concerned about what may be happening at Upper Canada Village, I urge you to research the issues surrounding the changes and make an informed decision as to your next course of action. Please feel free to contact me at {carol DOT goddard AT sympatico DOT ca} for more information if you wish. Other email contact information is listed below if you wish to make your views known.

Pat MacDonald – St. Lawrence Parks Commission – pat.macdonald@parks.on.ca
Hon. Monique Smith (Tourism) – monique.smith@ontario.ca
Jim Brownell MPP (Liberal) – jbrownell.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Hon. Aileen Carroll (Culture) – acarroll.mpp@liberal.ola.org
Premier Dalton McGuinty – dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Bob Runciman – interim opposition leader – robert.runcimanco@pc.ola.org
Tourism Critic – Ted Arnott – ted.arnott@pc.ola.org
Culture Critic – Julia Munro – julia.munroco@pc.ola.org

…Carolyn Goddard, UE, St. Lawrence Branch

Natural Selection and a Loyalist Scientist — © Stephen Davidson

It has been said that the 20th century was shaped by the ideas of three thinkers from the 19th century. As they became more widespread, Sigmund Freud’s approach to psychoanalysis, Karl Marx’s communist doctrine, and Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory shaped the way that people saw their world and their place in it.

The discussions around evolution and natural selection might well have begun in the early 19th century if the scientific community had paid more attention to a paper written by a loyalist named William Charles Wells in 1818. Here is his story.

William Wells was a gifted man who was torn between writing, researching and practicing medicine as his career. It is little wonder then, that all three interests would eventually lead him to write a paper that would propose the theory of natural selection. Had he pursued but one career, he might not have stumbled upon an idea that would forever shape the nature of scientific inquiry.

Born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1757, Wells was sent to study in Scotland at eleven years of age. Upon completing prep school, he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. When he returned to Charleston in 1771, Wells joined the practice of Dr. Alexander Garden, one of the city’s leading physicians.

Four years later, rebels in the city began to circulate a paper called the “Association” which sought to rally the colonists of South Carolina in opposition to Britain. A mere 18-year old, Wells would have none of it, stating that ” the first public act of my life should never disgrace me”. Threatened by the rebels, Wells immediately departed for London, eventually returning to Edinburgh to continue his studies.

In 1779, he became the surgeon for a Scottish mercenary regiment that saw action in the Netherlands under the Prince of Orange. Badly treated by his commanding officer, Wells resigned his commission and challenged his superior to a duel. His challenge was ignored.

Within two years, Wells returned to Charleston to look after some family matters. As it was then occupied by British troops, Wells had no fear of persecution for his loyalist principles. Over the next year he made his living as a printer, a bookseller, an officer for a corps of volunteer soldiers, and a merchant.

Recognizing Wells’ talent with words, Colonel Balfour, the commanding officer of the British forces, had the doctor write a paper aimed at the patriots in Charleston’s upper classes. The latter had been given parole after serving time in prison for rebelling against the crown. Wells pointed out that since the rebels had taken up arms against their king, they could readily be executed if they should cause any further trouble. The British made sure that Wells’ paper was published in a number of South Carolina’s newspapers. The British may have executed at least one rebel officer following the publication of Wells’ article to demonstrate that what the doctor had written was not to be ignored.

When the British and their loyalist allies evacuated Charleston, Dr. Wells moved to St. Augustine, Florida. Rather than setting up a medical practice, he became the editor of the colony’s first newspaper, The East Florida Gazette. He continued to support the British by serving as a militia unit’s captain. Interestingly, some of the officers in this company established a theatre. Wells became its manager, providing entertainment for fellow loyalist refugees who had fled patriot persecution in the southern colonies.

At the end of the revolution, Wells returned to Charleston to track down some debtors. He was arrested, an action which set off one of the first diplomatic incidents between Great Britain and the new American republic. The British fleet in Florida sent a warship to rescue Dr. Wells, a rescue that almost resulted in his death. The ship wrecked on its return to Florida, but Wells survived by swimming ashore in the dark.

By 1784, Wells made London his permanent home. Within three years, the Royal College of Physicians allowed him to set up practice in the city. Although he became a doctor at St. Thomas’s Hospital, he never lost his interest in writing. He wrote biographical sketches as well as papers on a variety of medical topics. The loyalist historian Sabine notes, “He was skillful and learned in his profession, a vigorous and elegant writer, and his knowledge was profound, accurate, and various”.

Dr. Wells’ experiments in the studies of binocular vision, vertigo, and acuity laid the foundation for the modern study of eye movements. In 1814, the loyalist from Charleston caught the attention of the Royal Society with an essay on his theory of dew formation. It was one of the first scientific contributions to the field of physics ever made by a medical graduate. As a result of this paper, the Royal Society bestowed upon Wells the Rumford Medal — a scientific prize created by Benjamin Thompson, another famous loyalist scientist.

However, it was a paper written in 1813 that makes Dr. Wells an interesting footnote in both the history of scientific thought and loyalist studies. After studying the strange case of a Caucasian woman who had patches of dark skin, Wells discussed the variation in disease resistance in the various races of humanity. Without using the term “natural selection”, the loyalist doctor suggested that there might be some biological mechanism that created the different races of mankind. Wells’ paper was not published until 1818, a year after his death.

Forty years later, the idea of natural selection was proposed in Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species. Although Darwin had never read Dr. Wells’ essay, in the fourth edition of his book he acknowledged that the loyalist doctor “distinctly recognizes the principle of natural selection, and this is the first recognition which has been indicated.”

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

Loyalist and Westminster Abbey

There are only three men buried at Wesminster Abbey who experienced the American Revolution first hand. One was a British general, one was hanged as a spy, and one was a loyalist. Despite the 200 years since the time of his burial, the story of this man and his family has remained a mystery. Now, pieced together for the very first time by Stephen Davidson, you can read this exclusive about the Loyalist in Westminster Abbey in next week’s issue of Loyalist Trails.

Loyalist Settlement in Quebec’s Eastern Townships

(Published in CrossRoads Sept. 1992, written by Jean Darrah McCaw (1921 – 4 Feb 2008)

Early Settlements in 1784 Near Missisquoi Bay

The 125th Anniversary of Confederation and the Bicentennial of the surveying and settlement of the Eastern Townships of Quebec are truly occasions to celebrate with pride.

In 1784 the government under General Haldimand, had purchased land in the western part of the province of Quebec for settlement of 20,000 refugee Loyalists, who came to this part of Canada during and after the American Revolution. However, further east the Crown Lands that stretched along the 45th parallel had been observed by the soldiers stationed near Lake Champlain or in Fort St. Johns, on the Richelieu. This region eventually became the Eastern Townships but had not been settled and was only known to a few nomadic Indian tribes.

Petitions Sent to Quebec

Some of these refugees did not wish to settle in the new western townships and refused to leave when they were ordered to do so. Many of them thought that they would be able to return to their homes in the new United States but realized that their farms and possessions had been confiscated by the rebels. These Loyalists, who had served with courage and honour during the War, were lead to believe that they could remain in the area which they had chosen, around Missisquoi Bay, and purchase the land from an old Indian deed. This plan fell through but they kept on sending petitions to the government, asking them to survey the Crown Lands and deed land to them as Loyalists. The soldiers, most of them stationed at Fort St. Johns, had started to build houses at Missisquoi Bay, believing that the government would soon open of the Crown Lands. The Government of Haldimand sent soldiers to evict them and their families but they still refused to leave and kept sending petitions to the Government.. Others found that they could rent land from the two English seigneuries belonging to Colonel Christie and Caldwell on the other side of the Bay. Hundreds of petitions were sent during the next ten years. One of these requests was signed by 381 Loyalists. In the petitions they asked that the land be granted in free and common soccage, instead of under the seigneurial system that had remained as a concession to the French in the Quebec Act.

Proclamation of Alured Calrke 7 Feb 1792

Governor Haldimand refused to consider the surveying of the lands and it was not until 1791 when the Constitutional Act divided the Province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada that Governor Alured Clarke’s proclamation of 1792 ordered the surveying of the Crown Lands into townships of ten miles square, (one seventh would remain in the crown and one seventh was reserved for the Protestant clergy) or nine by twelve miles if on navigable waters. As requested by the petitioners, the grants were made with free land tenure. The grantees must cultivate the land and sign an Oath of Allegiance to the King of England. Samuel Holland was appointed Chief Surveyor. Two of the surveyors were Jesse Pennoyer and J. D. Duberger who worked together and by the end of the year with the help of others, there were twenty-eight townships outlined and partly surveyed. Since some of the Loyalists had already settled before the surveying began, some were allowed to stay and were able to receive the grants where they had built. Those having built at Missisquoi Bay much earlier were very fortunate as Thomas Dunn bought the Seigneury of St. Armand, where they had settled illegally and he offered to sell them lots on the disputed land. This land has never been considered one of the Eastern Townships but has prospered with many of the early Loyalists working and building here. These, as well as many others were granted land somewhere else and their names are on the newly laid out grants, only to be sold at a later date.

By 1802, the fifty-five townships that had been surveyed along with the three seigneuries had a total population of 8,192 inhabitants. A few years later another 9,000 Americans had taken up land in the Eastern Townships.

The Eastern Townships were granted under a different system than those in the western townships. They were granted to a Leader, usually a Loyalist, and his thirty or so Associates. There were two exceptions to this plan as the Township of Sutton was granted to 170 Loyalists with Letters Patent and the Township of Potton, was granted in part, to Henry Ruiter and his family and the other part to Captain l. McLean.

Life was hard for our early pioneers and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their perseverance and fortitude. Let us remember them as we celebrate the Bicentennial of the granting of the Eastern Townships and the 125th Anniversary of Canada.

[submitted by Adelaide Lanktree, Sir John Johnson Branch]

Bicentennial Branch UELAC Celebrating 25 years

UEL Historical Plaque Dedication, Saturday, June 20, 2009 – Main Street and Division Street, Kingsville, Ontario

Ever since the Bicentennial Branch was formed it has been our dream to mark the beginning of the New Settlement with a permanent plaque that will withstand the weather and the ravages of time so that future generations of this area will know and not forget our rich history. This dream was realized on Saturday, June 20, 2009.

In honour of Loyalist Day in Ontario and to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Bicentennial Branch more than seventy five people gathered at Kingsville Town Square for the dedication of a historical plaque honouring the first land grants to the United Empire Loyalists of the New Settlement.

The Kingsville area was well represented with participation by members of the 2nd Kingsville Scout Troop, Kingsville Historical Park, Kingsville Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee and the Mayor of Kingsville. Bonnie Schepers UE, Central West Region Vice President, extended congratulations on behalf of Dominion President Frederick H. Hayward UE. Members of the Ulch family, descendants of Andrew Ulch who settled Lot 1 in the New Settlement, joined us for the event. The plaque was unveiled by Branch President Margie Luffman UE and Margaret Lewis UE, Branch Charter Member and Past President.

More information on the history of the New Settlement and the Plaque Dedication event is available on our branch website. To view photos of the event see our Photo Gallery 2009 Plaque Unveiling.

…Bonnie Schepers UE

UELAC Grants Committee

The UELAC Grants Committee awards grants to branches to financially assist branch projects which help the Association meet its objectives, especially the research, preservation and promotion of our Loyalist Heritage. The larger grants for 2009 were described in earlier issues of Loyalist Trails. Smaller grants are made during the course of the year. As these projects are important to our success, awards will be published as they are awarded. The Committee members are Bonnie Schepers UE, Central West Region Vice President and Jim McKenzie UE, Atlantic Region Vice President, and me.

…Carl Stymiest UE, UELAC Senior Vice President, and Chairperson, Grants Committee.

Grant to Col. John Butler Branch: Crown Grants of Loyalists and Early Settlers along the Niagara River Parkway

UELAC Amount Granted: $450.00

Description of Project

At this time I have researched all of the original land grantees along the Niagara River Parkway, (about 100) including most of their petitions, their Loyalist history, their family history, (including photos of people and tombstones if found) and subsequent land holdings of each lot. Many of the lots are now included in the Niagara Parks Commission holdings and the history and photos of all attractions are also included. I have included photos of original buildings and photos of most of the lots as they are now. There was, of course, much intermarrying of families and it has taken considerable time to sort these out….there were four Miller families along the Parkway and three of them intermarried!! I am hoping to locate all of the remaining petitions for land or for confiscations and complete the photo-taking this summer. I have spoken to many of the local historical groups several times as the project has progressed, and each time more descendants come forward to offer additional information. The local museums and historical branches are well aware of this project and frequently call to offer assistance. I will be presenting a talk with overheads at the September meeting of the Col. John Butler Branch.

Project Follow-up

It is anticipated that this project will be published in book form. Not only will it be of great assistance to Loyalist researchers and Genealogists, it will also be a driving guide for those who drive along the Niagara River Parkway. It is the intention to approach the Niagara Parks Commission to apply for signage designating this road a “Loyalist Route” when the project is complete.

Pictures From the Encampment and Loyalist Landing at Conference on June 13

The Loyalist Settlement Experience at Adolphustown was a wonderful conference, set off extremely well by the encampment and reenactments at Adolphustown. I took many pictures of the latter, and have added a sampling of them to the Kingston Branch web site – click here to see the pictures.

…Nancy Cutway, Manager of Kingston Branch Website

British Soldiers, American Revolution: A New Blog

Billed as “A place for information about British soldiers who served during the American Revolution, 1775-1783. Thousands of soldiers wore red coats, but little is known about them as individuals. This site will change that, soldier by soldier.” this apparently new blog thus far presents accounts of five deserters. It will be interesting to see if it grows to include others and becomes more balanced. A small sample:

Deserter: James Norrige, 17th Regiment
“Deserted from his Majesty’s 17th regiment of infantry, James Orridge, 6 feet two inches high, straight and well-made, dark complexion, dark brown hair, grey eyes, hook’d long nose, which he frequently had the custom of twisting and drawing up, born in England, in the county of Lancaster, and parish of Bolton. He may endeavour to pass for a sailor. Any one apprehending said deserter, will receive 40s. reward. Henry Hamilton, Adjutant 17th Infantry. [New York Gazette, 23 June 1777]”

For more, visit redcoat76.blogspot.com.

[submitted by Joyce Stevens]

Loyalist Connections of Notable Canadians

I looked up Hugh Macdonald, the son of Sir John A. Macdonald. He did indeed marry Gertrude Vankoughnet who was the great grand daughter of Loyalist Michael Vankoughnet and great great grand daughter of Loyalist Philip Empey, as per the Vankoughnet records.

…George Anderson UE, Sir Guy Carleton Branch


Dr. James Stuart and his Family

Dr. James Stuart married Jeane Grant and they had 6 children…John, George, Henry (my direct ancestor), Mary, Elspet, Gilbert. They left the Speyside area in the Scottish highlands in July, 1774 and purchased 100 acres of land along the Delaware River in New York State (in the Tory hole, Stamford area).

He joined Sir John Johnson’s regiment as Surgeon’s mate during the Revolution after his lands/belongings were stolen by the rebels.

After the war, he was granted 900 acres of land by the British Government along the St. Lawrence River for his loyality and service to the crown. Most of what was his land was submerged under water when the seaway went through.

Dr. Stuart lived in Cornwall at the end of his life as the town doctor during the late 1700 and early 1800’s (died 1804).

I was not aware of my families connection to the Cornwall area as my direct ancestor, Henry Stuart, left the Cornwall area to live where I grew up near Chatham, Ontario.

Many thanks to the The Lost Villages Society for helping me uncover some this information. I would like to find more about Dr. James Stuart and his family, as well as his lineage back to Scotland. Any help is greatly appreciated!

…Elizabeth Stuart {stubro AT shaw DOT ca}