“Loyalist Trails” 2011-05: February 6, 2011

In this issue:
Life Before the Loyalist Exodus — © Stephen Davidson
Book: Broken Trail, by Jean Rae Baxter
Commemorative Medal Created for the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
War of 1812 – Bicentennial Celebrations Coming Soon
War of 1812 Symposium Brings International Experts to Ogdensburg NY
UELAC Tourist Trapped in Egypt
Last Post: Harold Edward Riley, UE
      + Captain John Munro, UE
      + Books About General Brock


Life Before the Loyalist Exodus — — Stephen Davidson

Letters and diaries are the best resources to give us glimpses of life in colonial America before the loyalist exodus. However, if colonists were the authors of such documents, it was all too common for them to leave out everyday details such as courtship, the local wildlife, or even something as mundane as tooth-brushing. The letters of Lieutenant Thomas Anburey, on the other hand, were written by a British officer who marvelled at the wonders of both the natural world and the society of the Thirteen Colonies.

As he toured Massachusetts, Anburey noted that “both sexes have universally bad teeth, which must probably be occasioned by their eating so much molasses, making use of it at all meals, and even eating it with greasy pork.” Later in Virginia, the lieutenant was impressed by the dogwood. “The wood is very hard, and breaks into small fibres; for want of such necessary implements as toothbrushes, we substitute this wood.”

Painting eggs was an Easter custom in Maryland as early as 1781. Chicken eggs were boiled in logwood “which dyes the shell crimson, and though this colour will not rub off, you may, with a pin, scratch on them any figure or device you think proper. This is practised by the young men and maidens, who present them to each other as love tokens. As these eggs are boiled a considerable time to take the dye, the shell acquires great strength, and the little children divert themselves by striking the eggs against each other, and that which breaks becomes the property of him whose egg remains whole.”

But even such an innocent custom was an occasion for patriot propaganda in at least one household. “To impress the minds of his children with their glorious struggle for independence, as they term it,” {one patriot colonel had an Easter egg on which was} “engraved the battle of Bunker’s Hill. This he takes infinite pains to explain to his children, but will not suffer them to touch it, being the performance of his son…now being slain, he preserves it as a relic. The Colonel favoured us with a sight of it, and, considering the small space, the battle is very accurately delineated.”

Even insects did not escape Anburey’s notice. In August of 1779, he was fascinated by his first encounter with fireflies. “By the light of one of these insects, if held between the fingers and moved gradually with the luminous spots over the crystal of a watch, you can with ease tell the hour; and ten or twelve of them put into a clear phial {small bottle}, will give sufficient light to read or write by very distinctly”.

A year later he was horrified to see the damage inflicted on log army barracks by termites that locals called “sawyers”. “I have seen timber, nearly the circumference of one’s waist, which had not been cut down above six months, that upon stripping off the bark, there was nothing but the appearance of sawdust, with a vast number of these insects, resembling a large grub-worm.”

Anburey was fascinated by new words. “There is a shrub peculiar to this province, that bears a small flower, which the inhabitants term the bubby flower, it resembles that which grows on clover grass, and has peculiar qualities, for it retains its grateful and odoriferous perfume for a length of time after being gathered, and as it withers, increases; the name given to the flower arises from a custom that the women have of putting this flower down their bosoms, letting it remain there till it has lost all its grateful perfume.”

New Englanders called Virginians “buckskins” because their ancestors were hunters who sold deer (or buck) skins. Virginians, on the other hand, called New Englanders “Yankees” from the Cherokee word “e-ankee” which means a coward or a slave. This epithet was first given to the northern colonists when they failed to help Virginians fight a war against the Cherokee people. The British soldiers stationed in Boston later used the term contemptuously when referring to the New England colonists. Following the Battle of Bunker Hill, however, “Yankee” was attached to a popular tune and forever afterwards was considered a badge of honour.

In the heat of a Virginian summer, Anburey found that his woolen clothes were “insufferable”. He noted that the officers in the colony “wear cotton habiliments; the cotton of which mine is made I obtained from my landlord, and saw the whole process of its growth and manufacture, from the seed being sown, till it came out of the loom. The carding and spinning of cotton is the chief employment of the female negroes, for since the inhabitants have been deprived of our English cottons, they manufacture a sort themselves, little inferior to that made at Manchester, and almost all the families in this Province, both male and female, are clothed with their own manufacture, the superior class as an example to their inferiors, who are compelled by necessity.”

While he enjoyed the textiles of the south, Anburey was not so enthralled by some of the local food. “As I have several times mentioned hominy and hoe-cake, it may not be amiss to explain them: the former is made of Indian corn, which is coarsely broke, and boiled with a few French beans, till it is almost a pulp. Hoe-cake is Indian corn ground into meal, kneaded into a dough, and baked before a fire, but as the negroes bake theirs on the hoes that they work with, they have the appellation of hoe-cakes. These are in common use among the inhabitants, I cannot say they are palatable, for as to flavor, one made of sawdust would be equally good, and not unlike it in appearance, but they are certainly a very strong and hearty food.”

Anburey also enjoyed a good story when he heard one. Some of the ones he recounted in his letters to England will be featured in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

Book: Broken Trail, by Jean Rae Baxter

Ronsdale Press has just released the sequel to Jean Rae Baxter’s young adult novel The Way North. Her new novel Broken Trail is about a youth who was captured and adopted by the Oneida people at the age of nine. His family are Loyalists, but he has disavowed his white heritage. At the age of thirteen, he is on the verge of becoming a warrior. But first he faces a dangerous mission to deliver a message that would save a Loyalist army from certain defeat at Kings Mountain in South Carolina. The last thing he expects to find at his journey’s end is his long-lost white brother, wounded and held prisoner by the rebels. Caught up in the conflict of the American Revolution, he has his own inner conflict to resolve. Is he Oneida? Or is he white? Broken Trail sees that he must find his own way forward as he seeks a reconciliation that will help both peoples.

Jean Rae Baxter UE is a member of the Hamilton Branch, UEL Association.

Broken Trail will be launched in Hamilton on Tuesday, February 22nd at 7.00 pm. Bryan Prince, Bookseller, 1060 King Street West.

There will be a Kingston launch on Wednesday, March 2, 7:00 p.m. at the Novel Idea Bookstore, 156 Princess Street.

Free Admission to both events.

Jean is available to speak to school groups or at meetings. Website: www.jeanraebaxter.ca.

Commemorative Medal Created for the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Last Thursday February 3, I was privileged to represent the UELAC when His Excellency the Right Honourable David L. Johnston, Governor General of Canada, announced that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had approved the creation of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. The design of the medal , created by the Canadian Heraldic Authority, was unveiled by the Governor General in the recently renovated Tent Room of Rideau Hall.

His Excellency was joined by the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, who unveiled the official emblem for the Diamond Jubilee year. In his address, the Prime Minister invited Canadians to prepare to mark this important anniversary in 2012.

The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal will mark the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the throne in 1952, which will be celebrated next year. In his presentation, the Governor General stressed that the medal will serve to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.

Fact sheets on the Diamond Jubilee Medal and the creation of new Canadian honours are available, as are the artistic renderings of the medal and the official emblem (PDF).

As a result of the invitation to attend this announcement, I was able to speak with both our Patron and the Prime Minister in a more intimate setting (phote courtesy of Jason Ransom, Office of the Prime Minister). In addition, the opportunity to renew contacts made at the Investiture of the Governor General in October strengthened UELAC’s connections with others concerned with Canadian heritage.

…Frederick H. Hayward UE, President

War of 1812 – Bicentennial Celebrations Coming Soon

When I first met Paul Turcotte, Director of Celebration and Commemorations Programs, at the Investiture of the Governor General last October, our conversation focused on the varied regional plans for commemoration of the bicentenary of the War of 1812. While there was no direct involvement of UELAC in preparations, many individuals from Branches in Ontario volunteered to serve on the local and regional committees. Since then there has been increasing communications of developments. Last week, Mr. Turcotte reminded me of the Dakota First Nation and their quest to get the commemoration celebrated nation wide. I was able to tell him that the Saskatchewan Branch had written a letter encouraging the Government of Saskatchewan to find ways to raise public awareness of this conflict and its relationship to their province in support of the Dakota First Nation.

Closer to home, Doris Lemon of the Grand River Branch UELAC is trying to raise the understanding of the events of the War that occurred in her own region. She has shared a series of articles which we will run in Loyalist Trails in the coming months that will serve as a rich resource on both the hostilities and the participation of Loyalist ancestors.

…Frederick H. Hayward, President

War of 1812 Symposium Brings International Experts to Ogdensburg NY

During the War of 1812 the dogs of war barked and bit along the U.S. northern frontier from Lake Ontario to Lake Champlain as American forces tangled with their British and Canadian counterparts for two-and-a-half years.

The War of 1812 in this region, and its wider implications, will be topics at the third annual War of 1812 Symposium April 29-30 in Ogdensburg, NY, sponsored by the Fort La Présentation Association.

The five presentations by authoritative Canadians and Americans are:

– Ogdensburg and Prescott during the War of 1812, Paul Fortier;

– American supply efforts on Lake Ontario: “Cooper’s Ark,” Richard Palmer;

– “Colonel Louis” and the Native American role in the War of 1812, Darren Bonaparte;

– The war on the St. Lawrence River, Victor Suthren; and

– Excavation of American Graves at the 1812 Burlington Cantonment, Kate Kenny.

– The post-dinner address by Patrick Wilder is the Battle of Sackets Harbor

“We established the symposium in advance of the war’s 2012 bicentennial to help develop a broader public understanding of the War of 1812, so important to the evolution of the United States and Canada,” said Barbara O’Keefe, President of the Fort La Présentation Association. “The annual symposium is a vibrant forum of scholars from both sides of the boarder presenting informative seminars to an enthusiastic audience of academics, history buffs and re-enactors.”

The cost of the symposium is $100 for the Saturday seminars and after-dinner speaker, including a light continental breakfast, a buffet lunch and a sit-down dinner. The Friday evening meet-and-greet with period entertainment by Celtic harpist Sue Croft and hors d’oeuvres is $10.

The symposium and dinner fee for Fort La Présentation Association members is $90, and they will pay $10 for the meet-and-greet.

Other pricing options are available: $80 for the Saturday seminars without dinner; and $35 for the dinner with speaker.

Seminar details and registration instructions on the Fort La Présentation Association Web page www.fort1749.org.

The Fort La Présentation Association is a not-for-profit corporation based in Ogdensburg, New York. Its mission is to sponsor or benefit the historically accurate reconstruction of Fort de la Présentation (1749) in close proximity to the original site on Lighthouse Point.

[submitted by Robert Wilkins UE, Heritage Branch]

UELAC Tourist Trapped in Egypt

Looking ahead on January 22, the President of the Manitoba Branch sent in his proxy for the spring meeting of the Dominion Council. Peter Rogers was going on a special trip to the Land of the Pharaohs. Considering the current crisis in Cairo, it was a relief to witness his calm demeanour in a NYTimes video Clip. It will definitely be a trip to remember.


Last Post: Harold Edward Riley, UE

Former owner of Pleasant View Greenhouses and Harold Riley’s Garden Centre. Passed away peacefully at Kingston General Hospital on Monday, January 24, 2011 in his 77th year, after a lengthy battle with Multiple System Atrophy. Loving husband for 55 years of Helen Warren.

Proud father of his four daughters: Barbara (Ronald Andersen); Jo- Anne (Kevin Davison); Mary-Lynne (Richard Ascough) and Christine Riley. Beloved Grandpa to his ten grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents, Edward Riley and Mildred Sigsworth. Harold is also survived by his sister, Audrey Tordoff of Brockville and by his wife’s siblings, the Warren family of Oshawa.

Raised in the village of Cataraqui, Harold took a keen interest in its history and the role his family played in building the community there. This led to his interest in family genealogy. Harold will be remembered for his quick wit, his sense of humour and his joy in his family’s accomplishments.

A celebration of Harold’s life was held at BAY PARK BAPTIST CHURCH, 775 Progress Avenue, on Thursday, January 27. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Partners in Mission Food Bank would be appreciated by the family. (The Kingston Whig-Standard)

…Lynne Cook UE, St. Lawrence Branch


Captain John Munro, UE

We at the Grand River Branch are searching for any documented UELAC members of Captain John Munro, UE. Recently, we became aware of the burial place of Capt. John Munro in South Walsingham Township, Norfolk County, Ontario and are hoping that we might make contact with someone in the Association who is a descendant.

Robert Mutrie’s description of this John Munro/Monro is as follows:

“John Monro, born in New Jersey on 23 April 1756, died at Walsingham Township, Norfolk County, Upper Canada on 7 October 1828, age 71 years & 11 months. He married at Roxbury Township, Morris County, New Jersey on 26 February 1794, Sarah Hatheway, born on 16 January 1764, died on 11 December 1850, age 86 years, 8 months & 15 Days. They were buried in Monro-Gillespy Cemetery, Lot 24, Concession 2, Walsingham Township at St Williams. John Monro served as a Lieutenant in the New Jersey Volunteers then lived at St Williams, Walsingham Townshiip, Norfolk County.”

It has come to the attention of the Norfolk County Branch Ontario Genealogical Society, that the stones that once were in the Monro-Gillespy Cemetery, mentioned above, have been moved; some to a location under a tree near the original cemetery and the others, in a barn some distance away. The entire property is in threat of being sold and to lose these bits of our loyalist history would be a shame. It is hoped that all these stones might be collected together and placed in one location not too far from the old burial ground.

As well, it is hoped that Capt. John Munro/Monro’s UE designation might be marked and honoured in the process.

If you can be of any help or offer any suggestions please let us know.

…Bill Terry UE, Grand River Branch

Books About General Brock

I am reading more about the War of 1812. Does anyone have recommendations for books about Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, the British general of Upper Canada during the early days of the War of 1812?

…John Havrilchak