“Loyalist Trails” 2010-32: August 8, 2010

In this issue:
Three Tales from the Hearings — © Stephen Davidson
William and Sarah Frost (Part 10 of 14; © 2009 George McNeillie)
Hay Bay Church Annual Service
2010 Mohawk Valley Trip: Two Seats Available
eBook: The Battle of Kettle Creek, Feb 14,1779
The St. Lawrence Skiff by John Summers
The Coming Genealogical Dark Ages
The Tech Side – As Simple As It Gets – by Wayne Scott
Former Student – Lloyd George – at Little Forks’ Hyatt One-Room Schoolhouse Honoured
Last Post: Jerry Douglas Fisher, UE (April 8, 1947 – August 4, 2010)
      + “McMullen” or “McMullin” Family


Three Tales from the Hearings — © Stephen Davidson

Since the thirteen governments that comprised the new United States of America were not about to compensate their loyalists, it fell to Great Britain to provide financial compensation for their loyal Americans’ losses. At first compensation board hearings were only conducted in England, but eventually the board’s commissioners came to the major loyalist settlements of British North America. In such places as Halifax, Saint John, Shelburne, Montreal, and Quebec City, loyal Americans gathered to tell their stories of service and loss. Here are three of those stories.

When the commissioners sat down to hear loyalist petitions in London on January 30, 1784, they were surprised to have an Englishman stand before them. John Lightenstone had been born in Petersburgh, England, but like a great many other young man of his era, he “followed the sea and was a mate of a vessel”. By the time the Revolution had broken out, Lightenstone was a landowner in Georgia and the father of an adult child. In 1776, Sir James Wright, Georgia’s loyalist governor, had commissioned him to operate a scout boat off the colony’s coast.

For a man of the sea, Lightenstone had made quite an investment in real estate. On his 381-acre plantation he grew peas, corn, and potatoes. His livestock included eighteen cattle, eight sheep, thirty hogs and four horses. Ten enslaved Africans worked his land. Lightenstone was a sterling example of an Englishman achieving success in America — but he lost everything when rebels seized his plantation.

Among the items captured was Lightenstone’s scout boat. The rebels promised to return it if he would join their cause. But the Englishman took his commitment to the governor seriously. Lightenstone fled to Skidaway Island near Savannah and kept a low profile. Later, Sir James Wright put Lightenstone in charge of a “a troop of horse” until the evacuation of Savannah in 1779. When the British recaptured the city, Lightenstone was made quarter-master general. He returned to England with other loyalists who fled Georgia in November, 1782.

Four witnesses testified to the truth of Lightenstone’s claims. One described his friend, saying “no man is more Loyal, has a better character or is more deserving than Mr. Lightenstone.” The compensation board agreed, and paid for Lightenstone’s losses of property, livestock, slaves and crops, and granted him an annual allowance of 60 pounds sterling. But a part of the Englishman would always be in North America. His only son and daughter-in-law had made St. Augustine, Florida their home. And who would tend to his wife’s tombstone in a Savannah graveyard?

In February of 1786, a New Jersey doctor stood before the compensation board in Halifax. In addition to resisting rebel invitations to fight against Britain, James Van Buren had to persuade his two teenaged sons not to do so as it “was against his principles”.

Despite being a loyalist, Van Buren’s surgical skills were in such high demand that George Washington had him treat wounded rebel soldiers in 1776. When the British army arrived in New Jersey, the loyalist doctor patched up the redcoats in a local hospital. The British also appreciated Van Buren’s knowledge of New Jersey, and he served the army as a guide along the colony’s roads.

When the local rebels discovered Van Buren’s extracurricular activities, they imprisoned him in a church. The doctor was sure he would be hanged. Eight days later, an unnamed woman successfully appealed for Van Buren’s release.

Within two years, the loyalist doctor gathered up his family, and crossed over the British lines to safety. Van Buren served the crown as a member of a foraging party that plundered rebel crops and livestock to feed the British army. At the end of the war, the Van Burens sailed for Nova Scotia, settling with other loyalists in Clements between Annapolis Royal and Digby.

While most of those who appeared before the loyalist compensation board were men, it was not unusual for the commissioners to hear the testimony of widows, orphaned daughters or wives whose husbands were too ill to attend the hearings. Hendrick Windron, a loyalist from Pennsylvania, had chosen the wrong time to leave his new home in Fort Erie to go off to visit relatives. Ten weeks after his departure, the compensation board convened in Montreal. If the Windrons were ever going to receive financial compensation, it fell to Hendrick’s wife Dorothy to speak for the family at the hearings.

The transcript of Windron’s appearance before the board on August 31, 1787 includes a commissioner’s marginal note, saying that Dorothy “seems a poor honest creature”. Mrs. Windron told a sympathetic board that she and her husband had settled on a farm along Pennsylvania’s Susquehana River in 1770. Hard labour had cleared six acres which was enough to provide for three horses, ten hogs and cattle. With outbreak of the Revolution, Hendrick refused to join the rebels. He was among the first to join the loyalist Rangers and served with them for the entire war. Meanwhile, Dorothy and their children fled north with other loyalist families in 1778.

Dorothy’s story was a fairly common one for a loyalist family. What cast a shadow of suspicion over her request for compensation was the long visit that Hendrick was making to rebel relatives in New York’s Mohawk Valley. It was not uncommon for loyalist claimants to head south once they had some cash in hand. Was Hendrick planning on returning to the United States once he received a cash pay-out from the British government?

Fortunately for the Windrons, another loyalist named Justice Burch stepped forward and swore to Hendrick’s loyalty, affirming Dorothy’s claim that “he is only gone on a visit into the Colonies”.

As this brief glimpse indicates, loyalists came in all stripes and colours. The plantation owner, doctor and housewife were just three of the thousands who hoped that the British government would show its appreciation and compensate them for all their sacrifices during the American Revolution.

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

William and Sarah Frost (Part 10 of 14; © 2009 George McNeillie)

The Diary of Sarah Frost (continued)

Sunday, June 29. This morning it is very pleasant. I am just going on shore with my children to see how I like it.

[Later.] It is now afternoon and I have been on shore. It is, I think, the roughest land I ever saw. It beats “Short rocks” in Stamford. Indeed I think that is nothing like this; but this is to be our city they say. We are to have our land sixty miles further up the River. We are all ordered to land tomorrow, and not a shelter to go under. [End of Sarah Frost’s Diary].

After a short sojourn at Parr-town, where he drew a town lot and where his daughter Hannah was born, just a month after their arrival, William Frost and his wife settled on the banks of the Kennebecasis River in their Parish of Kingston – in what is now lower Norton, nearly opposite Hampton Village. A good many late residents of Connecticut, such as the Frosts, Dicksons, Fairweathers, Hoyts, etc., many of whom came in the “Summer Fleet” of 1783, settled here, and the neighbourhood was called in early times “The Yankee Shore.” These people were for than 30 years parishioners of Kingston. William Frost was one of the second Kingston Vestry, chosen March 28, 1785. In 1788 he subscribed one pound towards building the Parish Church in Kingston. He was again elected a member of the Vestry, on Easter Monday, April 5, 1790. In this year the parish received from the Government the sum of 400 pounds currency towards the erection of a Church (or churches) and a parsonage in the parish of Kingston. It was agreed that two thirds of the money from Government should be for church-building and one third for the parsonage. But at a meeting held on Sept. 14 same year, it was voted “that fifty dollars of the money received from Government be appropriated for the use of the Church at Oak Point in Long Reach and also one third part of the money that remains with the Governor and Council when obtained. Voted likewise that the Inhabitance on the Kennebacasis should have equal with them for the Propagation of a Church on the River near James Hoyt’s.” This was an early step towards Church Extension. The Frost family have been as a rule staunch members of the Church of England, and energetic, honourable, and industrious folk.

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

Hay Bay Church Annual Service

The Annual Service at Old Hay Bay Church will be held Sunday, August 22nd at 3 p.m. The speaker is David Mowat of the Alderville First Nation. Mr. Mowat is a Band Councillor and a prominent leader in the current struggle for justice in land claims and resolutions of Indian Treaty issues. He is also a “Blues” harmonica virtuoso of wide acclaim.

Directions to the church can be found on www.OldHayBayChurch.org or by GPS coordinates N44 06.142 W77 01.179

…Bill Lamb

2010 Mohawk Valley Trip: Two Seats Available

The Sir John Johnson manor House has organized a bus trip, to be run by Ed and Elizabeth Kipp and George and Janet Anderson, and in memory of Doris Ferguson UE, to be held 26 – 29 Sept.

The bus has been fully booked for a long while, but we have just had a cancellation. Now we have two empty seats. For details see the web page describing the trip here. If you are interested, contact us by email.

Les and Wendy Wert

eBook: The Battle of Kettle Creek, Feb 14,1779

An interesting and exhaustive new e-book (117 pages) concerning the Revolutionary Battle of Kettle Creek, Georgia, 14 Feb 1779, and those who fought there, including Georgia and South Carolina Whigs and Tories.

It appears to require a reasonably current version of Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it. You can print pages but cannot save them.

[Submitted by Chuck Timmerman]

The St. Lawrence Skiff by John Summers

John Summers’ article “‘Probably The Most Beautiful Rowboat Afloat’: The Form and Meaning of the St. Lawrence Skiff”[1] describes the evolution, use, and exhibition of a noteworthy rowboat. The St. Lawrence skiff is a watercraft of northern European origins “which flourished in the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River primarily from the 1860s to the early years of the twentieth century.”[2] With a sharp-sterned shape made of lapstrake or smooth-skin planking, clench nails, and rivets, the skiff was manufactured for use between islands and the mainland on the aforementioned substantial waterbody. The Adirondack guideboat of upstate New York, by contrast, had similar origins and was made with similarly available resources, but was used on inland lakes and was portaged between them, and thus required a much lighter design.

The St. Lawrence skiff or its predecessor was brought to the Great Lakes region by United Empire Loyalists by the early 1780s. Its signature design was certainly in use by the 1820s, when rowing skiffs were noted to have been utilized for fishing and pleasure trips. Around this time, railway construction and a growing penchant for the wilderness over ‘unhealthy’ cities led to the rise of the vacation and the eventual national and international recognition of the St. Lawrence skiff. Professional guides rowed, baited hooks, and cooked lunch for passengers staying in far from rugged accommodations, the former acquiring renown for their work much like the skiff itself. Known for its agility, spacious capacity, and beauty, the St. Lawrence skiff became not only a tool, but a commodity, with paid advertising, catalogues, trade fair booths, and testimonials. As John Summers writes, “By 1890, skiffs were being shipped from the St. Lawrence area as far away as Galveston, Texas.”[3] Later skiffs evolved a mainly smooth skinned design and different oars, with added rudders and two-masted sailing rigs in a movement toward using skiffs in racing competitions.

By the early twentieth century, motor power undermined the necessity for guides while boating, also impacting the technology and design of the boats. The St. Lawrence skiff and its variants were preserved or built in small numbers, but eventually passed from memory. Today, the skiff exists primarily through artifactual representation in museums where the potential readings and meanings of the boats are potentially skewed through lack of interpretation. As Summers suggests, a better understanding of the meanings of artifacts, the reading of artifacts by the general public, and the impact that institutional display of artifacts can have on their meanings and readings, would much better serve the preservation, interpretation, and exhibition of the St. Lawrence skiff.

1. John Summers, “‘Probably The Most Beautiful Rowboat Afloat’: The Form and Meaning of the St. Lawrence Skiff,” Material Historical Review/Revue d’histoire de la culture mat√©rielle, 51 (Fall/automne, 1998): pages 13-25.

2. ibid: page 16.

3. ibid: page 22.

The article can be read as posted at the Digital Collections portion of the Cape Breton University website. On the left side of the page, click on page 13 for the first page of the article, and click each page number in turn. A few pictures. The article ends on page 25.

[Submitted by Aurora Feletti]

The Coming Genealogical Dark Ages

PROVO, Utah – With all the genealogical information being made accessible on the Internet, some might think this is the golden age of family history. To Curt B. Witcher, however, we may be entering a new dark age where vital records and the memories of people alive today are lost forever. “At the same time we have more (technological) ability we are losing interest and focus on keeping the thoughts and the words for future generations,” Witcher said. Read the full article here.

[Submitted by Chuck Ross UE]

The Tech Side – As Simple As It Gets – by Wayne Scott

I don’t believe that any of you will be rushing out to purchase this product. However, I believe that most of you know someone who would benefit from one either because of age, computer apprehension or physical limitations.

SimplicITy is a British computer company that has created a computer that is the most simple to operate I’ve ever read about. Many seniors were thought to be intimidated by computers and shied away from using them, missing out on all the fun and advantages of being able to connect to the web. To connect to this market, SimplicITy was born. There has been a lot of interest from retirement facilities and seniors’ centres around England and Europe.

The engineers at SimplicITy have taken much of the mystery and technical mumbo jumbo out of doing basic computer tasks such as: Email, Web, Chat and documents. There are just a few simple buttons that can be mouse clicked and the person is taken directly to the task they want to do.

When a user boots up the computer, they will not see a log on screen. The computer boots quickly and a page with 6 large buttons,(Email, Browse the Web, About Me, Chat, Video Tutorial and Documents), 2 small ones (Help and Exit) and a bar across the top,(Square One), appears. The buttons will take you directly to the tasks you are looking for. At any time the user can hit the “Exit” button, or they can press the “help” button. If the user finds that they are totally lost after pressing too many buttons, or a button too many times, they can click the “Square One” bar to go right back to the beginning and start over. (I sometimes wish Windows had this feature!)

This computer is not limited to only simple tasks. Open Office is installed. That’s the free open source Microsoft Office competitor that will allow the user to do many things such as preparing reports, doing spread sheets, newsletters and a myriad of other tasks. Open Office has a multitude of templates to help organize and present documents.

Is there a learning curve? Sure. However, this is not as painful as it may appear. Click on the “Video Tutorial” button. The narrator is a 74 year old retiree who is able to talk with the user and coach them to learning a variety of skills such as storing, resizing and touching up photos. There are 17 tutorials at present and a hint of more to come.

The computer runs on a special edition of Mint Linux. Many pc programs can also be loaded if the user wants. There is not the constant fear of viruses and malware attacking the computer because of the Linux operating system. The program that runs the desktop and embedded programs is called “Eldy”. There is a free download of the basic Eldy program but SimplicITy as done a major rewrite of the software to perform the built in tasks. Programs that are loaded by the user will have to operate behind Eldy, and there is help available do this.

At present, there are three models of the computer. There are two desktops and a laptop. The desktops are based on either an Intel or AMD processors. They range in price between $600.00 and $900.00 US dollars. They are currently only available in England and Europe. Before it is introduced into the North American market, partners will be needed and Eldy will have to be modified to accommodate the North American design. Apparently there has been interest shown from North America. We’ll be watching for more news.

As I mentioned, we all probably know people who would get a kick out of playing with a system as purposeful as SimplicITy.

You can email Wayne Scott to get in touch with questions or comments.

Former Student – Lloyd George – at Little Forks’ Hyatt One-Room Schoolhouse Honoured

Ira “Lloyd” George (1922-2008), a student at the Hyatt One-Room-Schoolhouse from 1929 until 1937, was honoured when a plaque to him was unveiled at a ceremony at the school on Sunday August 1. Numerous family members, friends and UEL members of the Little Forks Branch were present. Lloyd was a supporter of the School and the projects by the Little Forks Branch to restore and preserve it. For details including pictures, see the description of the event.

…Terry Loucks, Secretary, Little Forks Branch

Last Post: Jerry Douglas Fisher, UE (April 8, 1947 – August 4, 2010)

Colonel John Butler (Niagara) Branch Members were shocked and saddened to learn that the Branch Assistant Genealogist, Jerry Douglas Fisher, UE, passed away on Wednesday August 4th, 2010 at the Welland Hospital. Jerry was the dear friend of Gail Woodruff. Loving father of Shelly Mae Fisher (William Cowell), and Wendy Eleanor Mercier, Grandfather of Nathan, Ashley, Sandra, Billy, and Alexandria. Dear son of Eleanor and the late Orlin Fisher, brother of Shirley Charbonneau (Arthur), and Larry Fisher (Dana). A celebration of Jerry’s life will take place at Fenwick United Church on Monday, August 9th, 2010 at 11:00 am. Visiting from 9:00 am till time of service. Memorial Tributes to Fenwick United Church.

Jerry was a father, a grandfather, a brother and a son, a researcher, a genealogist and a friend to all. He was extremely generous with his time and valuable research. Jerry was excited by his United Empire Loyalist background and was proud to use the initials U.E. after his name.

He spent many years researching his Loyalist Ancestors, Joseph Doan, Aaron Doan, Robert Cook, Isaac Vail, John Bradt, Hart Smith and Sgt. John Wilson and was especially proud of the Doan Family. His hero was Aaron Doan who was part of the notorious “Doan Gang”. Jerry travelled to Bucks County Pennsylvania to copy many original historical documents.

On July 19, 2008, after much research into the ownership of the Steele Cemetery in Port Colborne, Jerry directed a dedication of the cemetery as an historical site and a Loyalist Burial Plot. This included the plaquing by the Col. John Butler (Niagara) Branch of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association designating the burial of a Loyalist. He personally erected a similar plaque at the tombstone of Aaron Doan, UE.

Jerry was not content to let the name of the Cemetery remain Steele Cemetery, as in fact, there were no members of the Steele family buried there and part of the land had belonged to the Doan family as a burial plot. Relentlessly, working through the City of Port Colborne, providing immaculate research materials, he managed to have the name of the cemetery changed to Doan Cemetery. On July 10, 2010 members of the City of Port Colborne and of the Provincial Government convened to unveil a plaque and sign renaming the land “Doan Cemetery”. A large number of Loyalist descendants participated.

Jerry was the Niagara Regional convenor for the nationwide Doan Association and on July 11, 2010 he arranged the first local Doan Association Reunion that was a great success. He worked tirelessly to produce the new Doan Book: “History in Our Own Backyard: The Sons and Daughters of United Empire Loyalist Aaron Doan”. Last week he completed the printing of the History of the Mitchell Family and The History of the Misner Family. Jerry can be credited for helping hundreds of Loyalist Descendants prove their descent and therefore join the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada.

Jerry was thorough with his research techniques, as in all of his work. He was a great friend who always had a hug for everyone. He will be truly missed.

[Submitted by Gail Woodruff, UE]


“McMullen” or “McMullin” Family

As a descendant, I am looking for a “McMullen” or “McMullin” or “McMillan” family, in which the husband was born in Massachusetts and the wife was born in New York. This couple they moved to Ontario, and had a daughter Sarah or “Sally” born about 1800. They may have moved to Ontario either as adults or with their parents. Sarah McMullen eloped and married Jesse Ellis in about 1814 and they lived in Summit County, Ohio and later Ottawa County, Michigan. I notice that there are some Loyalists named McMullen in the UELAC list who relocated to Ontario and may be this family. The following are some of the bits and pieces of evidence used to put together the brief description of this family.

– The marriage of Jesse and Sarah Ellis, as well as a bit about her parents was included in a history of Summit County, Ohio. “His wife was the daughter of a wealthy, proud and aristocratic family in Canada, and their engagement being opposed by her parents, she eloped with Jesse, and married at the age of fourteen.” [History of Summit County with an Outline Sketch of Ohio, 1881]

– A biography of Alcena (Ellis) Cox, one of the daughters of Jesse and Sarah Ellis, provides the maiden name for Sarah Ellis as “McMullen”. “She was the daughter of Jesse and Sally (McMullen) Ellis.” [History of Wexford County, Michigan, 1903]

– The death certificate for Jesse Ellis, Jr. identifies his parents as “Jesse Ellis” and “Sarah McMullin.”

– The 1860 census taken at Georgetown/Ottawa/Michigan has “Upper Canada” listed as the place of birth for Sarah Ellis (age 59).

– The 1880 census taken at Georgetown/Ottawa/Michigan has the birthplace for Sarah Ellis (age 80) as Canada as well as the birthplace for her father as Massachusetts and for her mother as New York.

– A note arrived recently which shows the middle name for Jesse and Sarah’s son – Seth McMillan Ellis – which suggests her maiden name could have been McMillan.

Any information about this family, or families who could be this family, will be appreciated.

Ron Benson