“Loyalist Trails” 2010-27: July 4, 2010

In this issue:
You Are the Loyalist Compensation Board Commissioner — © Stephen Davidson
William and Sarah Frost (Part 6 of 14; © 2009 George McNeillie)
Dover Ontario’s First Settler Daniel McQueenWas Energetic, Good Businessman
Edmonton Branch in Partnership with Calgary Branch Celebrates UEL Day in Edmonton by Unveiling New Monument
Loyalists, Canada Day and Royal Tour — Part One
Letter: Egerton Ryerson’s Early Loyalist-instilled Values at Risk
Status of New York State Park and Historic Site Closures
View a Loyalist History Lesson
Research Resources at Eva Brook Donly Museum, Simcoe ON
Free Access at Footnote to Revolutionary War Records Until July 7
      + Alexander McQueen and Family


You Are the Loyalist Compensation Board Commissioner — © Stephen Davidson

Let’s do some historical role-playing. Pick a year between 1785 and 1789. Now imagine yourself in one of the many loyalist refugee communities that dot the coast of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or the shores of the St. Lawrence River. You have been sent to British North America to determine which of the thousands of loyalists who sought refuge under the British flag truly deserve financial compensation for their losses during the Revolution. Once that has been decided, you must then award the loyalist an appropriate sum of money.

Such compensation board hearings began in England as early as 1783 when the country was flooded by American refugees — over half of the loyalists who left the Thirteen Colonies made Great Britain their home. Initially, generous compensation grants were awarded, but gradually the commissioners recognized that some loyalists were making inflated claims. In the years that followed, too many loyalists were taking their compensation grants and returning to the United States.

By the time the compensation board commissioners came to British North America, the hearings had taken on a more suspicious tone. Not every loyal American who appeared before the board received compensation, and those that did would count themselves lucky if they received a third of what they claimed.

The commissioners examined each claim with such impartiality and judicial severity that some loyalists denounced the whole procedure as little more than an inquisition. They had lost so much because of their loyalty, and yet the mother country seemed to begrudge its loyal colonists fair compensation. One New Brunswick loyalist summed up these feelings in a letter to his brother in England: “I must confess that people in general are much dissatisfied with the small pittance allowed them and that it is much short of what they expected”.

It’s time for you to hear a case. Pay close attention to the evidence, because you will be deciding if the claimant deserves compensation.

It’s October 1787, and a farmer named James Holmes is standing before the board. Based on the evidence you are about to hear, would you grant him financial compensation or not?

At the beginning of the Revolution, Holmes owned a 273-acre farm near Bedford, New York that featured an orchard of 400 trees, a house and barn, and good stone walls. Holmes had been an officer in the local militia and a justice of the peace. He joined the rebel forces and served as a colonel in New York’s Fourth Regiment.

When he heard about the intention to declare independence from Great Britain, he resigned his commission. He kept a low profile, stayed on his farm and waited for the war to end. Three years later, his patriot neighbours arrested him because they suspected he would join the British army. They also seized his African slave and horse, jointly valued at 115 pounds sterling.

Holmes escaped to the safety of Long Island, but in the fall of 1779 rebels seized him and imprisoned him for 20 months. Escaping once again, Holmes fled to New York and joined Col. De Lancey’s corps, rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

(If everything Holmes has said to this point is true, he could receive compensation. Colonists who had been rebels, but later joined the British side were one of six categories of loyalists.)

At the end of the war, Holmes was reunited with his family in Connecticut where his wife owned land. He made plans to travel to England in 1784, but, lacking the resources to do so, he stayed in Connecticut until March of 1786. He then sailed for Saint John, New Brunswick. When he returned to fetch his family that summer, his wife refused to leave Connecticut. Holmes says that his intentions are now to settle in Canada with his family.

To further bolster his claims for compensation, Holmes produces certificates from three fellow loyalists as to his character. Col. James De Lancey says of Holmes that he “distinguished himself as a brave and good officer.” Holmes produces nine different land deeds, a survey, and a “quit claim” in addition to certificates of confiscation and sale to prove the worth of his farm. An affidavit gives the value of his slave and horse. A certificate from a New York banker states there are no claims of outstanding debt against Holmes.

One witness attends the compensation board hearings on James Holmes’ behalf. Benjamin Ogden knew the farmer’s property in Bedford and knew his history of imprisonment.

All the evidence is in, and James Holmes leaves the room. You turn to your fellow commissioners. Is Holmes truly a loyalist? Does he deserve compensation? What would you do?

The commissioners that heard the case of James Holmes in 1787 decided not to grant him compensation. They were afraid that with his family in Connecticut, he would simply take the British government’s money and return to the United States. His family’s reluctance to move outweighed Holmes’ years of sacrificial service to the crown and all that he lost. However, the commissioners seemed to have offered Holmes a second chance.

In May of 1788, James Holmes once again appeared before the compensation board. He informed the commissioners that his family was now living in Saint John, showing them a year’s lease for a house belonging to a Mrs. Baberty.

Although the records of the compensation board do not come out and state it in so many words, it seems that James Holmes was ultimately recognized as a loyalist and compensated for his losses. He had allayed the commissioners’ fears of his family never moving to New Brunswick. But did Holmes stay in the colony beyond the terms of his 1788 lease? There is no further mention of him in the provincial records. Did he, in fact, return to Connecticut to live out the rest of his days? Such questions haunted the board commissioners.

Had they made a poor decision?

Would you have decided any differently?

To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.

William and Sarah Frost (Part 6 of 14; © 2009 George McNeillie)

The Diary of Sarah Frost (continued)

Tuesday, June 10. I got up early, not being permitted to sleep the whole night for the noise of the children. The wind now blows very high and the children begin to grow quite sea-sick. My little girl has been very bad all day, but now grows better.

We had orders for sailing about ten o’clock, but the tide not serving it was delayed till afternoon.

Wednesday, June 11. We weighed anchor in the North River about six o’clock this morning and sailed so far as Staten Island, there we came to anchor about nine. I went on shore half an hour later with Mr. Gorham and his wife and Mr. Raymond and his wife, taking with me my two children. There I got some goose-berries. I staid but a short time. In the afternoon I went on shore again with Billy and several of our people. They went to a tavern and called for a glass of punch and the Landlord forgot to put sugar or rum into it and it was comical punch I assure you.

Tuesday, June 12. I got up in the morning, intending to go ashore to wash, but it looked so like rain I did not go. We are so thronged on board I cannot set myself about any work. It is not comfortable for anybody.

Friday, June 13. It is now about half after three in the morning. I have just got up, not being able to sleep for the heat, and am sitting in the entry of the cabin as I write. It storms so I can’t sit on deck. My husband and the children are still sleeping, and I am sitting quite alone — Billy gets up and gets breakfast, but I am so unwell I lie in my berth all day. He alters my berth in the cabin for me.

Saturday, June 14. I am something better this morning. Billy brought my breakfast to my bedside. We are still lying at Staten Island. We expected to sail this morning. I went on shore to wash a few clothes. Mrs. Mary James went with me. We came on board at sunset.

Sunday, June 15. Our people seem cross and quarrelsome, but I will not differ with them if I can help it. Our ship is getting underway — I suppose for Nova Scotia. I hope for a good passage. About three o’clock we had a hard gale and a shower, which drove us all below. It is about five o’clock now, and we have to anchor within about six miles of the Light House at Sandy Hook. How long we shall lie here I don’t know.

About six o’clock we had a terrible squall and hailstones fell as big as ounce balls. I saw a great many of them picked up and brought into the cabin. About sunset there was another squall and it hailed faster than before. Billy went out and gathered a mug full of hailstones, and in the evening we had a glass of punch made of it and the ice was in it until we had drank the whole of it. Such an instance I never saw before at midsummer.

Excerpt from Book of Family History, by The Ven. William Odber Raymond, LL.D, FRSC. © 2009 George McNeillie – all rights reserved [published here with permission; see footnote].

George McNeillie

Dover Ontario’s First Settler Daniel McQueen Was Energetic, Good Businessman

(Volume 24, Issue 1: (This article written by former school principal and local historian William Henry Smith is reprinted from Port Dover’s Maple Leaf Newspaper.))

Daniel McQueen, the first settler — with an eye to prosperity, had built his home at the advantageous spot (overlooking the lovely river) and prepared just as quickly as possible to supply the incoming settler with three at least, of the necessities of life — flour, cloth and whisky.

Throwing his crude dam across the stream, he soon had things in operation, and before long his pockets were soon filled with sixpence, shillings, crowns, and sovereigns of a century ago.

During the war he took an active part in defending his country and would be away months at a time. His eldest son, a lad of 18 or 20, was also with the forces at the exposed part of the frontier, and Aunt Phoebe, as his wife was familiarly known, was left alone with a large family of small children. Like most of us, he was extremely anxious about his cash, and before leaving gave her strict orders to bury the money in case the Yankees visited these parts. When news spread that they were actually coming, she began to look about for a suitable place. By running a line of rocks into the main stream, Daniel had diverted a portion into a small creek that gave sufficient power to run his fulling mill, and over this a number of large trees were growing whose roots extended into the water. Making six or seven parcels of coins, Phoebe placed them in a coat sleeve and dropped them into the water among the tree roots, being careful to tie each separately.

The enemy, on searching the mill, were at sore straits for food and being disappointed in not finding the expected supply, they at once set fire to all the outbuildings and demanded from Mrs. McQueen whatever food she had in the house; told her get out anything she wished to save as they intended to burn her home in a few minutes. She had baked a large baking of bread and this she placed before them at once. They seized it and tore it to pieces and distributed it among the men, who began to eat it ravenously. Seeing their deplorable condition and feeling sorry for them, she went to her little dairy and brought out pan after pan of milk, and then busied herself in finding cups and bowls for them to drink from. In ministering to the wants of these men, she had neglected to remove a single article from the building and the commanding officer, seeing this, ordered his men into the road, and taking her by the hand said, “By willingly giving, all you had in your house to my famished men, you have saved your home”. In a few minutes every other home in the village was in flames and after following this wretched business more than halfway to Simcoe, this band of raiders retired to their vessel and sailed for their own side of the lake.

Mr. McQueen, on his return, was naturally very much delighted on finding his home standing, and when all danger of further raids was past, he sought his bags of hidden coins. They soon found all but one and though they repeatedly sought for it, they did not get it for more than a year; the swiftness of the current had broken the cord that held it and it had rolled away downstream into a deep hole from which it was raked out none of the worse for wear having been in the water so long.

With the money, Daniel McQueen bought big tracts of land in the vicinity which in the course of time fell into the hands of his sons. These boys were not fond of farming and for many years back only one quarter section remained in the hands of the family. In the spring of 1925, a great-grandson of Daniel McQueen bought back a portion of the lot that contains the old McQueen burying ground where rest the mortal remains of these settlers of Port Dover at this beautiful spot overlooking the mill and the peaceful Lynn River.

(Daniel McQueen was the son of Alexander McQueen, a possible Loyalist. See query below.)

[Submitted by Pat McCall Barker]

Edmonton Branch in Partnership with Calgary Branch Celebrates UEL Day in Edmonton by Unveiling New Monument

Congratulations to both the Calgary and Edmonton Branches UELAC for their joint unveiling and dedication of the new UELAC monument on the grounds of the Alberta Legislative Building in Edmonton. The gathering was honoured to have Edmonton Councillor Ed Gibbon read the municipal proclamation declaring 19 June 2010 as United Empire Loyalist Day in Edmonton and then join in the official unveiling. Betty Fladager has provided additional text and pictures here.


Loyalists, Canada Day and Royal Tour — Part One

Members and supporters of UELAC can be proud to note the recognition given to our ancestors in our Prime Minister’s Canada Day address on Parliament Hill this year. His reference to “our institutions and our freedoms under the Crown” connects very clearly to the Loyalist Day comments by Nathan Tidridge as posted in Loyalist Trails last week.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we should be proud of our history and our heritage. We have a noble heritage. The richness of the land first inhabited and fully appreciated by our aboriginal peoples. The steadfast determination and continental ambition of our French pioneers, who were the first to call themselves ‘Canadians.’

The courage and vision of the British adventurers and loyalists, who brought with them our institutions and our freedoms under the Crown. And, of course, the faith of every immigrant man and woman, from every corner of the globe, who, with the world to choose from, has declared, ‘I will be a Canadian.’ They have made us all the true north, strong and free!”

The Hon. Stephen Harpers’ full address can be found here.

While the participation of members of UELAC at various venues of the Royal Tour 2010 will not make the media, we were invited to at least two events. Representatives from the Central Region East witnessed the fifth planting of a tree at Rideau Hall by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Details, complete with numerous photographs, will be included in Part Two.

As President of The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada, I received an individual invitation to attend a garden reception for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh held late in the afternoon of June 30. Photographs and details can be found here.

…Frederick H. Hayward UE, President UELAC

Letter: Egerton Ryerson’s Early Loyalist-instilled Values at Risk

Dear sir,

I read with trepidation the front page article headed “Public school board drops Judeo-Christian reference” in Friday’s Barrie Examiner. I want to thank Debbie Edwards and Peter Beacock for voting against this issue. No matter how hard the School Board Trustees try to remove Christian values from schools, it will prove impossible! You see, Egerton Ryerson was appointed to be the first Superintendent of Upper Canada. He was appointed in order to found schooling for every Canadian child which became the Ontario Public School System, whether they lived in urban or rural Ontario. He also established a curriculum for Canada’s first public education, which made going to school possible for every child under 16. He also structured in quality educational books for teachers to use, which led to the establishment of school libraries and later Public Libraries.

This man, Egerton Ryerson was a missionary and Christian preacher who rode on horseback to small pioneer settlement to settlement, from farm house to farm house and from town to town, to bring the Bible – the Word of God – to the settlers – men and women and children, who were struggling for their very life and existence, in Canada. He later became a Pastor and helped found The Upper Canada Academy at Cobourg, which later became Victoria College, and then the University of Toronto! He also established the first publicly funded Museum — the Museum of Natural History and Fine Art that later became the ROM. The arboretums in many newer schools are there in memory of him.

His great concern for children and the founding of an education structure which would enable a better future for every Canadian child was his goal. You see it is impossible to separate the founding, structure and the concern for the future of Canada from the Christian Minister and Missionary — for these two aspects of his life were inseparable, and remain so to this day! The truth and renowned facts of the visionary work of this one man are well known. He is revered by Educationalists, Churches, Universities, the Public Library system and the founding of Public Museums — and the media – in 1829, as an increasingly vocal proponent of the rights of Methodists and other non-conformist religious groups, he helped found the influential newspaper, the Christian Guardian, and served as its intermittent editor for eleven years! There is not one Canadian who has not been touched by the impact of his life work., and many recent comers also! Our heartfelt thanks are due to Egerton Ryerson, who was the son of Loyalist Joseph Ryerson, and whose life left an indelible mark of the future of Canada.

[This letter – a few minor edits have been made – was published in the Barrie Examiner on Friday June 25, 2010. It was submitted in response to an announcement from the Trustees of the Simcoe County District School Board.

…Concerned Canadian

Status of New York State Park and Historic Site Closures

On February 17, 2010, New York State Governor David Patterson announced that 55 New York historic sites and parks were going to be closed to help reduce a projected state deficit of 8.2 billion dollars in the fiscal year 2010-11.

Sites on the closure list such as Johnson Hall and the Oriskany State Battlefield Park were of vital concern to descendants of United Empire Loyalists since many of the ancestors lived on the Johnson lands or fought at the Battle of Oriskany.

On May 17, 2010, several parks and historic sites began to close. However local newspapers, radio and TV stations and community groups banded together to oppose the closures. Both the New York SAR and DAR were asked for similar opposing action. Supporters of Johnson Hall created an online petition signed by nine hundred fifty seven people.

In response to these efforts, Governor Patterson has signed a bill to keep all 55 New York historic sites and parks open for 2010-11.

I would like to thank everyone who signed the online petition to keep Johnson Hall open and those who wrote personal letters of support to the New York government in favour of keeping the parks and sites open.

…Frederick H. Hayward UE, President UELAC

View a Loyalist History Lesson

You can view on-line a lecture on the loyalist history presented by Harvard’s Maya Jasonoff titled Empire and Diaspora: How the Loyalist Refugees Shaped the British Empire.

Maya Jasanoff tells how loyalists fleeing the American colonies after the revolution reshaped the British Empire. Landing in Canada, the Caribbean, and Africa, coming from all corners of colonial society, they forced a redefinition of empire and citizenship on the world’s great colossus.

Research Resources at Eva Brook Donly Museum, Simcoe ON

Over the years, Grand River Branch has contributed books (some very rare) and funding for resources such as microfiche and other resources to the Eva Brook Donly Museum’s Loyalist Library in Simcoe.

This Loyalist Library is extensive and along with books and microfiche rolls, contains such items as maps, genealogical records, history, muster rolls, historical documents and photos.

For those interested in researching Loyalist history and heritage in the Grand River area, the Loyalist Library at Eva Brook Donly Museum is an invaluable resource. The Museum also contains an impressive Loyalist display across the hall from the research room where visitors may view artifacts and descriptions of the Loyalist era of the Grand River area.

The Norfolklore Newsletter of June 2010 has a partial list of these books and resources, which has been posted to the Grand River website here.

…Doris Lemon and David Hill Morrison

Free Access at Footnote to Revolutionary War Records Until July 7

In recognition of America’s Independence Day, Footnote is opening their Revolutionary War Collection free to the public. This unique collection features millions of original records found nowhere else on the internet.

Whether you are a genealogist or a history buff, you can discover new details about the Revolutionary War in records that include:

– Soldier Service Records

– Original letters written by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and other Founding Fathers

– Revolutionary War Pension Files

– Payment Vouchers for Military Pensions

– George Washington Correspondence

– and more

Visit the Revolutionary War Collection today. Hurry, this free access ends July 7, 2010.

…Bev and Rod Craig


Alexander McQueen and Family

I have proven to Donald McCall, my loyalist ancestor, who came to Norfolk County, Ontario in 1796 to a place he had admired previously while on Indian raids – just outside Vittoria. He received his Loyalist grant here and some of this property including the family burial ground is still owned by members of his family. Donald is buried here and the cemetery, known as The McCall-Fairchild Cemetery, is marked as a Loyalist burial ground.

Donald’s family came with him from Baskinridge, Sommerset County, New Jersey. One daughter Margaret is buried in the Presbyterian church burial ground in Baskinridge. Donald’s son James 1781-1820 was a 15 year old when he accompanied his father to Norfolk County. He is also buried in the McCall-Fairchild Cemetery. On Aug. 30 1807 James McCall married Nancy McQueen 1784-1870 of Port Dover.

Nancy was the daughter of Daniel McQueen who owned the mill at Port Dover (see article above about an episode with this family in the War of 1812) and the granddaughter of Alexander McQueen who had come to Port Dover from Niagara. Alexander, who was born in Scotland in 1710, came from Sussex, New Jersey to Niagara. He died in Woodhouse township July 10, 1804 aged 93 and is buried in the McQueen Cemetery in Port Dover. This cemetery too is marked as a Loyalist Cemetery. Family folklore also indicates that he was a Loyalist, but I have not as yet been able to prove this.

Much information is available about the family from the time they came to Port Dover at the Eva Brook Donly Museum in Simcoe, Ontario. I would appreciate any help in obtaining documentation showing Alexander’s loyalty, as I would like to get a Loyalist certificate for him if possible. I would also appreciate any information or stories about the family from their time at Niagara, or earlier before they migrated.

Pat McCall Barker