“Loyalist Trails” 2011-02: January 16, 2011
In this issue:
– UELAC 2011 Conference Information: Registration, Video, Agenda
– The Party Girls of 1778: Part Three — © Stephen Davidson
– Reverend John Beardsley (1732 – 1809) © George McNeillie
– Captain (John) Michael Grass, UE
– The United Empire Loyalists: A Canadian Point of View
– Vancouver Branch Launches Their New Website
– 116th Haviland Family Reunion July 9, 2011 in Waterford
– Friends of Johnson Hall choose WOMEN in WAR
– “Edison’s Environment: Invention and Pollution in the Career of Thomas Edison” by George J. Hill
– Last Post: Stephenson, Emily Margaret
+ Peter Fraser, Brother to Simon
+ Locating Discharge Papers
+ Response re Adam Crysler Family
Conference 2011 “Catch the Loyalist Spirit” will be hosted by the Col. Edward Jessup Branch on June 2-5th in Brockville, Ontario
The UELAC 2011 Conference Website has been updated with links on this homepage to the Registration Form, the Conference Schedule, Hotel information, and Travel information.
To provide another visual representation of the activities, a third video has been added. It features the Friday evening Dinner Cruise and Saturday’s History/Shopping tour to Merrickville. This video is posted here (The first video – “Introduction”, the second one “Heritage Tours” and then this new one).
The Conference website contains information about the conference. We look forward to seeing you at “Catch the Loyalist Spirit” next June 2-5th in Brockville, Ontario.
…Your UELAC 2011 Planning Committee
On Monday, May 18, 1778, four hundred guests attended the most notorious party of the American Revolution. The officers who served under William Howe, the commander-in-chief of the British forces in the Thirteen Colonies, staged an elaborate mixture of entertainments that posterity would remember simply as the Mishianza. The guests of honour at this amazing party were fourteen lovely young ladies from the elite of Philadelphia’s loyal families. They became known as the “Mishianza women”.
Although Philadelphia’s patriots did not tar and feather them or banish the loyalist girls after the Continental Army took the city, its high society shunned them for three years. However, their lives did not end in shame. Here are the stories of what became of seven of the party girls of 1778.
Rebecca Franks was just 18 when she attended the Mischianza. Captain André, the master of ceremonies for the party, had made her one of the Ladies of the Knights of the Burning Mountain. Rebecca’s father was David Franks, a prominent Jewish politician and businessman. He had been a member of the Pennsylvanian Assembly and served the British as a commissary agent. The Franks were used to travelling in the best circles. Little wonder, then, that Rebecca once had her portrait painted by André, the maestro of the Mischianza.
However, after the British evacuated Philadelphia, its patriots decided to banish David Franks. By late 1780, he and Rebecca had relocated to New York City. The loyal Jewish family mingled with the city’s elite and the British officers stationed there. On January 17, 1782 Rebecca became the wife of Henry Johnson, an Irish-born colonel in the British army.
The Johnsons moved to England where they had two sons. Henry was created a baronet in 1818, so Rebecca became Lady Johnson. The pretend-princess of the Mischianza was now a real-life noblewoman. Rebecca died in Bath in 1823 at sixty-three years of age.
Sarah Chew and her sister Peggy were the daughters of Benjamin Chew, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Sarah was 25 years old and her little sister was only 17 when they were invited to the Mischianza. A period portrait of Peggy shows a slim brunette with an aristocratic, fine-boned face. Her champion at the jousts was none other than the dashing Captain André. The Mischianza souvenir booklet he made exclusively for Peggy still exists to this day.
When she was 33, Sarah Chew married a Philadelphian named John Galloway. Peggy caught the eye of John Howard, a suitor from Maryland. The two were married in 1787. One of their wedding guests was George Washington, a man who had been entertained by the Chews 14 years earlier.
In 1788, Howard became the governor of Maryland. Peggy’s husband went on to serve in the Senate, but declined a position in Washington’s cabinet. The Howards had ten children, the last being born in 1806. Described as “a lady whose courteous manners and elegant hospitality will long be remembered”, Peggy Howard died in her 64th year in 1824. Again, a pretend-princess of the Mischianza had risen to become the spouse of a prominent man.
Williamina Bond was 25 years old when she was made a Lady of the Knights of the Blended Rose. Following the Revolution, Willy’s older brother, Phineas Bond, a noted scholar and loyalist, sought refuge in England. In 1786, the British government made Phineas its consul general to the middle states, thus giving him the opportunity to visit his younger sister.
Williamina married less than a year after the Mischianza. She and her husband John Cadwalader lived in Maryland where they had three children. Cadwalader served in that colony’s House of Delegates for three terms. After seven years of marriage, Willy became a widow when John caught pneumonia after a duck hunt. She eventually moved to Great Britain to live with her brother Phineas. Williamina died at 84 years of age in Crawley, Sussex in 1837.
The only loyalist of Philadelphia to have three daughters at the Mischianza was Edward Shippen, the colony’s chief justice. After the Revolution began, Shippen was ambivalent as to whether to stay in Philadelphia or leave. He wrote that “the style of life my fashionable daughters have introduced, and their dress” might force him to move to where he could earn a greater income.
Sarah and Mary (or Elizabeth?) attended the Mischianza as the ladies of the knights of the Burning Mountain; Peggy was with those of the Blended Rose. Just 17, Peggy had hoped to be escorted to the party by Captain André. After all, he had given her a golden locket containing a lock of his hair. Described by one Englishman as the “handsomest woman he had seen in America”, Peggy had a reputation for falling into hysterical tantrums when things did not go her way.
Weeks after the Mischianza,the British forces left Philadelphia, allowing André to escape Peggy’s wrath. The Shippen family remained behind, but was not abused by the patriot army that occupied Philadelphia. In fact, a widower general in the Continental Army was quite taken with the flirtatious Peggy Shippen when he met her at a dance. Less than a year after the Mischianza, Peggy became the wife of General Benedict Arnold. There are not a few historians who have credited Arnold’s defection to the British to the fact that he married a loyalist woman.
Her 22-year marriage to Arnold would see Peggy and their five children moving from Philadelphia to New York, to England, to Saint John, New Brunswick and then back to England. Arnold had so many debts by the time he died that there was little left for his wife and children. Peggy Arnold died at 44 years of age in London in 1804. Of all the Party Girls of 1778, she seems to have endured the greatest hardships.
Her story will be told in greater detail in a future issue of Loyalist Trails.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
Colonel Winslow writes strongly concerning the attempt to deprive the old Chaplain of his half-pay, which he terms “a miserable pittance.” This half-pay, through the interposition of his friends, was shortly restored to him. See the following letter written in England by Governor Carleton to Judge Winslow:- “Bath, 2nd March, 1807. Dear Colonel, – I defer’d answering your letter of the 10th October until I could have it in my power to say something satisfactory respecting poor Beardsley, and I am now happy in being able to say that all difficulty in the way of his receiving his half-pay is removed. This has been effected entirely by active benevolence of Sir Brook Watson. I had only to vouch facts, and make a short statement of his case to the Secretary of War. I am, dear Col., Very faithfully yours, Thos. Carleton”
Members of the Beardsley family were naturally reticent in talking of the latter days of their ancestor, who was the victim of circumstances, which, however unfortunate and even comical in their nature, appear to have led to his being married no less than five times in his natural life. All his living descendants go back to his first wife Sylvia Punderson.
The old parson after his retirement from active work, about the year 1803, I think spent the evening days of his life in Kingston, where his eldest daughter, Hannah, and her husband Walter Dibblee then lived, and where he passed quietly to rest on the 48th anniversary of his ordination the 23rd of August, 1809, and was buried under the shadow of the old Kingston Church, just at the east end. When the Church was enlarged in 1857 the chancel was moved further eastward, and it is believed that the grave of the old pioneer missionary is now covered by the chancel of the church in which he was once a worshipper. It is uncertain whether any stone was placed at the grave – so it probably lies buried beneath the chancel floor. But it is pleasing to his descendants to know that, “after many days,” his last resting place is honoured by the beautiful memorial tablet lately placed in the Kingston Church by the Ancient Order of Free and Accepted Masons, which he helped to establish in the Province in 1784. He is to be judged chiefly by the work of his earlier years and not as the old man in his dotage.
He was a brave and earnest Pioneer of the Missionary work of the Church, both on the banks of the Hudson and later on the banks of the River St. John. He was ever loyal to his King and Country, and gave his best years to Church which he loved.
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].
Michael, Jacob and Ludwig Grass (originally Kress, then the old English spelling Grafs, used when signing legal documents until 1860’s) arrived on the docks of Philadelphia on Friday September 22, 1752 after a voyage aboard the ship, Halifax. The Halifax, captained by Captain Thomas Coatan first left Rotterdam stopping in England before continuing onto the Colonies. Michael left Strasbourg likely to escape inscription in the French army as the War of Austrian Succession was occupying the attentions of the major European countries.
In America, young men could expect to become landowners, obtaining the right to vote and sit on local colonial assemblies. Wealth and position could be secured in the New World while little future of advancement existed in the old country.
Michael would have been 17 years old according to his headstone in the Cataraqui United Church, which states that he was 78 years old upon his death in 1813. However, many researchers have placed his birth from 1732 to 1735. No birth date has ever been confirmed, however a number of baptismal certificates for Michael Grass, Michael Grafe and John Michael Grass have become available.
Michael would have been in the New York City Militia during the Seven Years War (French and Indian) and would have marched up the Mohawk River likely viewing his future farm on the Bowman Creek near Canajaharie. Michael was likely taken prisoner at Chouaguen (Oswego) by General Marquis Louis-Joseph Montcalm on August 14th 1756 and taken to Fort Frontenac as a prisoner-of-war. A family story told by his son John states that Michael and two others escaped from Fort Frontenac with the assistance of the friendly Iroquois taking nine weeks to trudge through the wilderness before reaching English territory. They survived on berries and roots and one of their number is said to have died of hunger and exposure.
Michael married his first wife Mary Anne soon after his arrival in Philadelphia. It is thought that she taught him to read and write English while he was learning to be a saddle and harness maker. They likely moved to New York City before October 1756 as Michael’s name appears in a record of communion at the Lutheran Church in that city. His second marriage to Margaret Schwartz took place on July 20, 1760 at the Lutheran Church in New York City. A small farm on the Bowman Creek near Canajaharie was secured sometime in 1770. Eva the first daughter by the first wife Mary Ann was born May 16, 1758 baptized July 7, 1763 at the Lutheran Church. Their first son John Michael was baptized in New York City on October 4, 1765 dying at a young age since there is no other reference to his life. Peter was born January 27, 1769 in New York City, while Daniel was baptized on December 26, 1771 at St George’s Episcopal Church in the town of Schedectady . John, my ancestor was born in the Mohawk Valley on October 25, 1773. Mary was born in 1776, while the first Canadian Grass, Catharine was born on March 12, 1783 at Sorel in the Province of Canada.
Michael was a Captain in the Tyron County Militia first battalion, second Company, but deserted in August 1775 when asked by Colonel Nicholas Herkimer to join the Patriot Militia. After fighting during the Seven Years War, Michael felt a strong allegiance, as a Tory, to King George 3rd. The local Patriots must have attempted many times to convince him to join the cause for liberty.
Finally, Michael had to escape to New York City in March of 1777 leaving his family behind. By February 1778 the Schenectady Committee of Safety had seized their farm and his saddle making tools forcing Margaret and the children to flee to New York as well.
Major Patterson commissioned Michael as a first lieutenant in the New York City Militia Company No. 2 as early as 1780. Michael presented Sir Guy Carleton with the proposal to have some Royalists settle on the Cataraqui River near Fort Frontenac. Michael was Commissioned as a Captain in July 1783 with instruction to lead eight companies of Associated Loyalists to Quebec City and then to establish a new settlement near the outlet of Lake Ontario. The eight groups arrived in Sorel in the fall of 1783.
Royal assent was given to Sir Frederick Haldimand to settle west of the Ottawa River on June 12, 1784, but by this time many of the Loyalists companies were already on their way up the St. Lawrence River.
Michael was granted a waterfront lot within a mile of downtown Kingston. Lot 25 Concession 1 is now Macdonald Park, a large city park with the County Court House at the back and the Murney Tower Museum at the waterfront. Michael sold this lot to Henry Murney in 1809 and moved to the Collins Bay area where he and his sons had a number of large lots.
Larry Turner’s conclusion, in his book “Voyage of a Different Kind”, highlights the affect of Michael’s vision of a new community at Fort Frontenac as follows;
“The Associated Loyalists of Peter Van Alstine and Michael Grass are a small but significant factor in the Loyalist settlement of Upper Canada. Michael Grass who presented a compelling alternative to mass migration to Nova Scotia inspired their voyage of a different kind. Ostensibly designed as a plan to re¬invigorate the western fur trade around the ruins of old Fort Frontenac on Lake Ontario, Grass nurtured his concept of settlement at Cataraqui, against many odds.
Embarking from New York under the general leadership of Michael Grass in July of 1783 and another convoy under Peter Van Alstine in September of 1783, the Associated Loyalists helped push to conclusion by their presence and persistence, the decision to create Loyalist settlements in the western territory of the Province of Quebec. Aided in their purpose by an accommodating Guy Carleton in New York and a once reluctant Governor Frederick Haldimand in Quebec, the Associated Loyalists achieved a great deal. Dwarfed by the size and influence of the disbanded Loyalist Corps, the beleaguered Companies under Grass and Van Alstine were a mere shadow of their original force in numbers when arriving on new lands. After the harrowing process of exile and migration, the Associated Loyalists who survived to take up lands at Kingston and Adolphustown left their indelible mark on the young community that would be Upper Canada. In the historical record, the Associated Loyalists may finally emerge from the level of obscurity that has marked their legacy.”
Sir Guy Carleton, Colonial Governor of New York was interested in Michael’s plan to settle the wilderness west of the Cataraqui River, which he had viewed twenty-five years earlier as a prisoner of war. Carleton immediately wrote Frederick Haldimand the Governor of Canada on June 7, 1783 concerning Michael’s proposal. By the summer nearly two hundred families had agreed to follow Michael and Peter Van Alstine.
The nine ships set sail from Staten Island the second week of July 1783 arriving at Quebec a month later. The conditions on the ships were difficult with outbreaks of smallpox and measles. They were issued fresh beef and vegetables before they left for Sorel arriving on August 21. By October Michael and a band of thirty-eight were on their way to Frontenac to assist in the surveying of the wilderness. Michael’s determination and leadership was illustrated by the fact that seventeen men and two women were left in Frontenac for the winter to assist in establishing a community. Haldimand had yet approve any settlement west of the Ottawa River as he was waiting permission from London and the purchase of land from the Mississauga-Algonkian Indians who possessed treaties for the land.
Michael wrote Sir Guy Carleton in June of 1783 looking for assistance in developing the new community, “that your Memorialists are much concerned for the education of their children and succeeding posterity and for their being properly instructed in the Principals of Christian Religion and going to a new and uncultivated country where land is as yet of little value, a Recommendation for liberal grants of land for the support of a Church and School in every Township.”
Michael was appointed a Justice of the Peace for the Montreal district (including Frontenac) in April 1785, but was not renewed when Lord Dorchester restructured the administrative districts in western Quebec in 1788.
Michael assisted in the development of St. George’s Church in Kingston serving as an elder and vestryman purchasing a pew as late as 1803. He may have been instrumental in the establishment of the Methodist Church (now United) in Cataraqui on Sydenham Road where he was buried in April 1813.
…Bradley Grass, Ottawa, 2000
When he was asked to speak to the Wintonbury Historical Society in Bloomfield CT, Lorne Rozovsky asked Mette Griffin, our UELAC Office Administrator, for additional brochures and information as part of his preparation. While he had lectured on the same subject in Canada, he was not sure what the reaction would be in the United States. He has since reported that there was considerable interest and numerous questions at the meeting. Part of the interest was due to the fact that one of our town councilors in attendance was a Merritt, descended from the Merritt family that built and owned Loyalist House in Saint John. The following is part of his introduction.
A “Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” he is not, but Lorne Rozovsky, a Queen’s Counsel from Nova Scotia, born in Northern Ontario with family roots in Saint John, NB, brings a Canadian point of view on the UEL to a Connecticut audience. Lorne is not a UEL descendant, but his lectures on the UEL go back to his days on the board of the Nova Scotia Heritage Trust. He is also Canada’s most prolific author on health law having published 18 books and over 600 articles, and has lectured in 7 different countries. See also www.rozovsky.com.
For your reading, a copy of his lecture is here.
Two years in the making, Vancouver Branch is pleased to announce our new website with some fundamental changes and perhaps one or two fresh ideas.
It started when we ‘lost’ our web presence when our Webmaster changed service providers. When Dominon President Fred Hayward found an archived copy, we asked Dominion Head Office if they would house our site on their server so that it would never ‘disappear’ again. “Keep it simple and low maintenance” were the words of advice and conditions and we gained a permanent location for our site on the Dominion server.
Few resources (money, time and people) made us focus on the unique work of our branch. Where we could, we linked back to the Dominion website for things such as the definitions of a Loyalist, Membership, Mission Statements and basic Loyalist History so we know people are getting one message from one source which we know is kept current by Dominion.
What’s new? Our geographical location presents unique challenges. While asking for a copy of the new “Loyalist Land Claims CD”, the librarian asked me to spell “Loyalist”. It is difficult to enter a debate on how Loyalist history is relevant to people in the west unless people know what a Loyalist is. The only tangible evidence of Loyalists we have here is the impact of development of the region by descendants starting with sons of Loyalists, Sir Alexander McKenzie and Simon Fraser from whose efforts determined north, west and southern boundaries of this region (and country). Their stories have been retold through the lens of their Loyalist heritage under our “Education” banner.
Demographics present their own challenges. Is Canadian history really relevant to this huge population of mainland Chinese in Vancouver? It is if you consider the impact of one of their national heroes, Dr. Norman Bethune. The degree to which he is a product of his heritage may be debated but we laid the groundwork for Chinese citizens and immigrants to understand our mutually beneficial heritage by translating Dr. Peter Moogk’s article “The American Loyalists (United Empire Loyalists)” into Mandarin.
Organizations are not really valued for what they can do for themselves; it’s how they give back to their communities that hold appreciation. We operate from the 20% of membership fees we collect and from there, we prod and cajole donations from our members and raise funds to support local and national initiatives, which we have listed to show how we Give Back. What our branch does and with what is revealed on our website. You are welcome to see who we are and what we do by visiting our new website.
Thank you Corcoran Conn-Grant, without whose help this would not be possible.
…Wendy Cosby for UELAC Vancouver Branch
The 116’th Haviland Family Reunion will be held on July 9, 2011 at Waterford North Conservation Area, Waterford, Ontario.
Saturday’s events will start at 11:00 a.m. with registration, followed by a 12:00 noon pot luck buffet meal at the Pavilion. There will be afternoon games for all ages, baseball, volleyball, renewing of acquaintances, genealogy sharing, viewing group photographs and the “Canadian Haviland Family Genealogy” books, and face painting.
Captain John Haviland, a United Empire Loyalist, having served the British as an artificer in the American Revolution, moved from Haviland’s Hollow on the NY/CT state line and settled in 1803 at Townsend Township, Norfolk County, near Brantford. Descendants have held a reunion annually since 1896.
For a review of Haviland genealogy, check our web site.
For information contact:
PO Box 269,
Otterville, Ontario, N0J 1R0
Wanda Burch, formerly of Johnson Hall, continues to keep up us up to date with activities in Johnstown NY. You may not be within driving distance for active participation, but you may be interested in the content of her latest message. Recommending readings can stimulate visits to your own library.
Friends of Johnson Hall State Historic Site received a Reading and Discussion grant for, Reading Between the Lines, a matching grant through the New York Council for the Humanities. In collaboration with Fort Johnson, the Friends of Johnson Hall chose WOMEN in WAR as its 2011 theme.
Audrey Kupferberg, an author and lecturer at the University of Albany and facilitator for the reading and discussion programme, will host the series at the Johnstown Public Library on Market Street in Johnstown, New York. Each discussion will be on a Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., the first one beginning Sunday, February 6 with Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi.
Satrapi’s autobiography is a story of a young girl’s life under the Islamic Revolution. Descended from the last Emperor of Iran, Satrapi is nine when fundamentalist rebels overthrow the Shah. While Satrapi’s radical parents and their community initially welcome the ouster, they soon learn a new brand of totalitarianism is taking over. She idolizes those who were imprisoned by the Shah, fascinated by their tales of torture, and bonds with her Uncle Anoosh, only to see the new regime imprison and eventually kill him. Thanks to the Iran-Iraq war, neighbors’ homes are bombed, playmates are killed and parties are forbidden. Satrapi’s parents, despite their politics, struggle to educate their daughter. Her father briefly considers fleeing to America, only to realize the price would be too great. “I can become a taxi driver and you a cleaning lady?” he asks his wife. Iron Maiden, Nikes and Michael Jackson become precious symbols of freedom, and eventually Satrapi’s rebellious streak puts her in danger, as even educated women are threatened with beatings for improper attire.
You may choose to attend one or all of the discussions held on the following dates:
– Sunday, March 6, 2:00 p.m.: Bluebird, or The Invention of Happiness by Sheila Kohler
– Sunday, April 3, 2:00 p.m.: My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveria
– Sunday, May 1, 2:00 p.m.: Day After Night by Anita Diamant
For further information please contact Wanda Burch at 518-922-7051 or by email.
At the end of his life in 1931, Thomas Edison was renowned as the American Wizard. But in this startling new look at Edison, George J. Hill, M.D., suggests that the price of invention included serious industrial pollution. Edison saw himself as a benefactor of humanity, an image he honed carefully over the years, and there is no question that his discoveries in so many fields were contributions of the first rank. But they sometimes came at an environmental cost. A New Jersey judge fined an Edison company for its callous dumping of carbolic acid, and his laboratory at Silver Lake was wrecked in the middle of the night by a neighborhood mob angered by Edison’s refusal to do anything about the clouds of formaldehyde and phenol that choked the air and the stream pollution that poisoned their cats and dogs. An Edison employee was the first American to die from X-ray induced cancer as a result of the inventor’s experiments. Edison, who shared the health risks of his laboratory work with his muckers, also was sickened by exposure to radiation, but recovered. Meadows and ponds disappeared to make way for Edison ‘s laboratories and factories, and his mining operations changed landscapes.
George Hill is the first author to examine Edison’s impact on the environment at more than a dozen sites in New Jersey . Hill ranges from Edison’s first workshops in Jersey City, Elizabeth and Newark to his famous invention factories in Menlo Park and West Orange, from his lampworks in Harrison and battery factory in Kearny to his little-known iron mining operation on Sparta Mountain and his Warren County cement factory, whose concrete built Yankee Stadium.
This is not debunking history. Dr. Hill appreciates the genius of Edison and credits Edison’s outspoken advocacy of an electric car, which might have ended America ‘s dangerous dependence on foreign oil if Edison ‘s good friend, Henry Ford, had heeded his advice. But he argues that the environmental effects that resulted from Edison ‘s life and work must be drawn together, so we may view them comprehensively, and draw whatever lessons they may tell us. Judging Edison ‘s environmental record is a complex task, but George Hill’s book is equal to the challenge. (The book includes more than 150 historic and current photographs of Edison sites.)
“Dr. Hill is the first author to offer a comprehensive look at Edison ‘s impact on the environment. He examines the inventor’s interactions — as expressed in his life, thought, and career — with the natural world, and traces the development of environmental consciousness in the views of Edison and his contemporaries. He explores the fundamental debate about how we should judge the actions and ethics of past generations. In so doing, George Hill has written on of the most novel and original works on Edison to appear in a generation.” — Mark Edward Lender, Ph.D., Chair of the History Department at Kean University
“Overall, a great tour de force — a really monumental study. Should become part of the Edison canon. I really liked the mixture of travelogue, scientific history, historical reassessment, biography, ecology, geography. The use of the first person and the sense of a personal journey works well.” — Sandra Moss, M.D., Ph.D., Past President, Medical History Society of New Jersey
Product Details: Paperback, 508 pages. Publisher: Independent Books; Second edition (December 15, 2010), English. ISBN-10: 0983161232 ISBN-13: 978-0983161233
And, yes, Thomas Edison was indeed the descendant of a Loyalist. His great-grandfather John Edison , known as “Tory John,” and the whole Edison family — including their black servants — were expelled from New Jersey in 1783 and they settled in Colchester County, Nova Scotia. John Edison was born in The Netherlands and came to America with his widowed mother when he was just a boy. It is not clear why he was a Loyalist, but he was such a staunch defender of the King that he was threatened with being hanged, and was spared only because his wife, Sarah (nee Ogden), came from a prominent family that was deeply engaged in the rebel cause. Her first cousin Hannah (Ogden) Caldwell was killed in the battle of Connecticut Farms (now Union, N.J.) in 1780, and Hannah’s husband, the Rev. James Caldwell, a rebel officer, was killed later in the war. The Edisons lived in Horse Neck, Essex County, N.J., during the war, and by coincidence Horse Neck was later renamed for Caldwell; the Edison house (which is pictured in my book) is therefore now in Caldwell, N.J.
Thomas Edison probably never spoke of his Loyalist ancestors. In the late nineteenth century, it was not considered wise to recall Loyalist ancestors, or — in the north — to be associated with the Southern cause during the Civil War. Thomas Edison thus had two problems, for his father was a prominent “Copperhead” during the Civil War — a supporter of the South. Thomas Edison’s son Charles, however, set up a monument at an intersection near their home in West Orange called “Tory Corners,” in memory of other Loyalists who lived there.
The Edisons were not satisfied with what they found in Nova Scotia, and they moved west and settled in what is now Ontario. Thomas Edison’s older siblings were born there, but his father fled to Ohio after he participated in a failed rebellion, and Thomas was born in Milan, Ohio. Many of the Edison clan remained in Ontario, and Thomas visited his aged grandfather there, when he was a boy. The grandfather had been born in New Jersey.
By coincidence, I happen to have 3 great-grandparents who were born in Canada, so I guess you could say that I am 3/8th Canadian. One of my father’s grandfathers, Benajah Stockwell, was born in Stanbridge, Quebec. His mother was Anna Maria (Saxe) Stockwell. And two of my mother’s grandparents were born in Nova Scotia. Mother’s paternal grandfather, James Everett Thompson, was the descendant of Massachusetts families that had come to Truro in the 1750s and later settled in southern Colchester County and northern Halifax County. They were mostly Ulster Scots — Presbyterians — with names such as Archibald, Wilson, Thompson, and Fisher; and also English names — Prescott, Putnam, and Scott. My mother’s paternal grandmother, Jane (nee Grant), descended from Anglican Scots — Grants and Boyds — who came to Halifax County, Nova Scotia, in the late eighteenth century, in the great migration after the Battle of Culloden.
I have read that the Ulster Scots in Colchester County were considered as being of questionable loyalty during the War for American Independence. One of my ancestors, Lt. Col. John Archibald 2nd, was head of the local militia at that time, but the Colchester County militia was not called into active service. One of my other ancestors, Joseph Scott, was sheriff of Colchester County in the 1770s. He was a first cousin of Benjamin Franklin, and I suppose he, too, had mixed feelings about the War for American Independence. I knew nothing about this when I was growing up. The legend in my family at that time was that our Nova Scotia ancestors had been Loyalists in Boston, and they had gone to Nova Scotia when Boston was evacuated in March 1776. This fable was not correct, but having grown up with the belief that I had Loyalist ancestors, I was pleased to discover that there was indeed a very prominent Loyalist in my family tree — John Saxe — on my father’s side.
See Thomas Edison’s loyalist ancestry.
…Adelaide Lanktree, Sir John Johnson Br.
Peacefully at North York General Hospital on Thursday December 29, 2010 in her 84th year. Beloved wife of John. Peggy will be greatly missed by her sister Betsy Davidson, her son Roger, niece Suzanne, nephews James, Howard, Stephen, Allan; as well as John’s children Julie, Jenny and Mark. Peggy was a life time member of Christ Church Deer Park and for many years President of the St. Andrew’s Group. Many of her friends were church members and the church was very important to her. A service was be held in CHRIST CHURCH DEER PARK, Toronto, on Tuesday January 4th, at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations to Christ Church Deer Park, or the charity of your choice would be appreciated.
Margaret was long-time member of Gov. Simcoe Branch who recently received her Loyalist Certificate as a descendant of Thomas Merritt.
…Suzanne Davidson UE, Calgary Branch
Little is known about the family of Simon Fraser, explorer and I am trying to fill in a few blanks particularly about his brother, Peter. Like Simon, Peter was the son of their father, Simon Fraser, UE and so received a small grant of land in Ontario. The only other brief mention of this elusive brother was in a note about the family written by the explorer, himself that Peter moved to England and died in the western part of that country. I would like to ask any member who has done extensive research on the Loyalists for any educated guess as to why Peter would have left his family and land in Ontario and started a new life in England. He was born in Scotland and had no known family in England so what could have been the reason or opportunity to draw him there? I would be most grateful for any guesses, leads or information to be able to elaborate on his mysterious move to England. Thanking you in advance.
In general I would like to know where one looks for Discharge Papers following the American Revolution.
In particular, Gail Pitman notes that her ancestor who served in the 3rd Battalion of the New Jersey Volunteers came to the River Saint John aboard the ship Esther. She has a copy of his discharge papers, which were signed on 10 Oct 1783, so she assumes the ship arrived about that time. Click here for a PDF file listing the Loyalists of the 3rd Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers, who travelled aboard the Esther.
My ancestor, ROUSE David Sgt NJ, arrived in the same ship. Is there a particular place I might find David’s discharge papers?
If you haven’t already seen this source, you probably will find it of interest. Mind you, it doesn’t prove any of your connections, but does tell quite a bit about the family. Don Chrysler, “The Blue-Eyed Indians – the story of Adam Crysler and his Brothers in the Revolutionary War” (Grand Rapids, MI: Chrysler Books, 1999)
…Gavin Watt, HVP UELAC