“Loyalist Trails” 2011-23: June 12, 2011
In this issue:
– UELAC Conference 2011 “Catch The Spirit” A Great Success: Robert McBride
– The Tragedy and Triumph of Christina Merkley: Chapter Three — © Stephen Davidson
– Samuel Hallett: Fourth Generation in America © George McNeillie
– Addendum to Samuel Hallett, Fourth Generation in America
– Recollections of My Childhood Home, by Clementine (Stymiest) Lacey: Part 2 — © Carl Stymiest
– Results of Membership Challenge 2010 Presented at UELAC Conference
– The Tech Side: Learn New Tricks With Webinars – by Wayne Scott, UE
– Additional Response to First Response re The Battle of New Orleans
– Additions to the Loyalist Directory
I would like again to thank Colonel Edward Jessup Branch for hosting the Annual General Meeting and Dominion Council meeting, 02 — 05 June in Brockville. All Branches were represented and great friendships were renewed as we toured the historic sites of the “Royal townships” along the St. Lawrence River and met many like-minded people with the common goal of preserving our heritage.
Roy Lewis was Master of Ceremonies at the Thursday evening reception held at the Brockville Rowing Club. It will be a long, long time before I will forget the wonderful treats and desserts prepared by his wife, Helen!
If you had the opportunity to take the bus tours you will recall seeing the home of Dr. Solomon Jones, now the Homewood Museum, located east of Brockville on Highway 2. Then there was the tour of the picturesque little Blue Church Cemetery and an opportunity to watch the groundskeeper douse for grave sites. The two captivating guides at Fort Wellington gave an interesting and informative tour highlighting the Fort’s history. Two ladies from Colonel Edward Jessup’s Branch gave a delightful re-enactment involving the widow of one of the heroes defending Canada at the Battle of the Windmill. We also viewed the Iroquois Lock on the St Lawrence. If I could I would have equally enjoyed the Old Stones Tour featuring the Wiltse Pioneer Cemetery and examples of excellent work by stone masons who built the St. Paul’s Anglican Church, the Old Stone Mill and the Jones Falls Lock Station. In the evening many of us took the Thousand Island Dinner Cruise. The food was delicious and the weather co-operated, complete with a charming sunset.
Everywhere were signs of the care and detailed planning marking this year’s Catch the Spirit conference. It is an example of the kind of teamwork that I am talking about when I refer to my acronym: TEAM: Teamwork Encourages Active Members. The teams that organized the tours — the teams that made hotel arrangements and took in registrations — the teams that arranged the speakers and the banquet with the co-operation of Lieutenant-Colonel Shaver and his staff at the Armouries — the informative binder giving needed information and maps to delegates so that getting around an unfamiliar city was efficient and trouble free. These all contribute to the success of this year’s conference and illustrate the fact that Teamwork is an essential component of the future success and growth of our UELAC.
…Robert C. McBride, Dominion President, UELAC
[Editor’s Note: Bob McBride was elected President at the Annual General Meeting on June 3. Fred Hayward moves to Past President. Bonnie Schepers was elected Sr. Vice President. Jo Ann Tuskin was elected as Secretary and Jim Bruce as Treasurer. On behalf of all, many thanks to these people for taking on these roles, and to them and retiring Executive members, Peter Johnson formerly Past President and Diane Reid formerly Secretary, for their many contributions over their terms on the Executive.]
Christina Merkley was just four months shy of her 17th birthday on Wednesday, October 18, 1780. She and her teenage sister, Anne Eve, had been left in charge of the house and three small children: their cousin Martin Merkley, a neighbour’s son, and their five year-old brother. (The family records do not reveal the name of the youngest Merkley; perhaps the sad events of that Wednesday made it too painful to speak his name as the day’s events were retold in the years that followed.)
Christina’s father, Michael, had ridden off with her older cousin Catharine Merkley to visit another relative in the Schoharie River Valley. Obviously, Michael was unaware that Sir John Johnson’s loyalist forces were fighting further up the valley.
It had been a long day, and the five children who had stayed at home were impatient and anxious. Christina’s little brother was especially cranky. However, there was nothing to do but watch at the window. According to the family accounts, the youngest Merkley’s whining turned to laughter as his father and cousin came riding into view on their horses.
All five children ran out to greet their returning relatives. As Michael dismounted from his horse, a sudden volley of shots rang out from the woods. A Native ran up to the farmer, killing him with a tomahawk and then removed his scalp. As Catharine Merkley approached her uncle’s home, she saw the warriors and turned her horse to escape. Seths Henry, the Schoharie chief, shot her, and then ran to where she fell from her horse. She was the second Merkley –but not the last– to die that day. After scalping Catharine, the chief led his men into the Merkley house to carry off whatever valuables they could find.
After setting the house afire, the Natives forced the five remaining children to walk on to the neighbouring farm of Bastion France. Wanting to frighten Christina and the other captives to march faster, the men showed the children the scalps of their father and cousin.
Michael Merkley’s five year-old son did not understand what was happening and kept calling for his father. Christina and Anne Eve saw the danger in which their brother was putting them, but they could not make him be quiet. The warriors instructed their wives to take the girls ahead of the party, leaving the boy with the men. The sisters suddenly realized that they would never see their little brother again. As the women led them down the trail, Christina and Anne Eve heard their brother’s cries come to an abrupt stop. A few minutes later, one of the warriors held the boy’s scalp in front of Christina and Anne Eve, warning them that they too could meet the same fate as their brother.
While some of the Native party led the four children away from the Merkley home, others in the group decided to attack Bastion France’s house. Earlier, France had heard musket fire coming from his loyalist neighbour’s farm. After seizing his musket, he ran into the woods to investigate, but came to a halt when he saw the Natives approaching his house. Realizing that he would need help to save his children, he ran off to the nearby Fort. Had he forgotten that his wife had left their home that afternoon to visit a neighbour? Now there was no one at home to protect his children.
The loyalist warriors seized two of the patriot’s sons. Little John was tomahawked; Henry tried to escape, but was recaptured. The rest of the children hid in the forest. As the Natives plundered the France home, little Henry dashed from the house, this time eluding recapture.
Philip Crysler’s wife, packing up her belongings at the neighbouring farm, heard the disturbance. Somehow –the records do not say how– she knew that Natives were attacking the Frances’ home. She told Philip to get into his First Nations clothing and go off to rescue her neighbours’ children. Obviously, the bond that the loyalist wife felt for her neighbours transcended the political lines that had so bitterly divided the loyalist Cryslers and the patriot Frances. In his Schoharie tribal garb, Philip safely gathered up all of the France children– a moment of compassion in the midst of terrible brutality.
The last patriots to feel the wrath of the loyalist raiders were William Spurnhuyer’s family. After Seths Henry’s men plundered and torched the rebel’s house, they made ready to leave the Schoharie Valley.
Instead of linking up with Sir John Johnson or Philip Crysler, the Natives decided to return on their own to their Fort Niagara encampment. Perhaps they felt that the loyalist leaders would be upset with their pillaging and burning. Wearing only the clothes they had on that October evening, and facing the cold snows of November, it is remarkable that Christina and Anne Eve survived their six hundred-mile journey through the wilderness. Family lore records that the sisters were in “constant danger” from the attentions of drunken men during their five week ordeal, but that the Native wives kept them safe from abuse. It is such little kindnesses that are quickly forgotten in midst of war.
After their arrival at Fort Niagara, the two Merkley sisters were kept as slaves in the Native encampment for seven weeks. The fate of their younger cousin, Martin Merkley, and the neighbour’s boy goes unrecorded. Sometime in January of 1781, Sir John Johnson learned that the girls were being held captive. Did someone among his soldiers recognize them as the daughters of a loyalist from the Schoharie Valley? The records do not say.
By offering presents in exchange for Christina and Anne Eve, Johnson finally secured their freedom. (Another account says that the Natives actually sold the Merkley sisters to Johnson.) For the next two years, Christina and Anne Eve were the servants of Johnson’s wife in Montreal.
The Tragedy and Triumph of Christina Merkley concludes next week in Loyalist Trails.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
Some idea of Captain Hallett’s services to the Crown, and his losses in consequence, will be found in a summary of his claims upon the British Government, presented before Commissioner Dundas at St. John, N.B. under oath on November 24, 1786:-
“In 1775, when the troubles broke out, he had offers of a commission of Colonel in the Rebel Army. Having declared his sentiments in favour of Great Britain, he was marked by the Rebels as an enemy, and afterwards fined and taken prisoner. He was carried from his own house on Long Island to Philadelphia, where he was examined by Congress. He was released on a bond of 500 pounds to appear before Congress when required.
“Upon the arrival of the British fleet and army at Staten Island, he joined Sir William Howe. Lord Howe (the Admiral) employed him to take charge of the Niger and Brun frigates round Long Island in 1776. He procured pilots to take charge of the men-of-war, which covered the landing on New York Island, and to bring up the flat-boats that transported the troops from Long Island to New York Island. He says that he placed boats at all the dangerous parts of Hell-gate and took charge of the landing-boats when the army passed to Frog’s Neck on Manhattan Island.
“When he went round Long Island he raised 55 men for the New York Volunteers (a Loyalist corps) and afterwards raised 200 men for DeLancey’s Brigade and received a commission as Captain in that corps. He afterwards served in Georgia and South Carolina, and in 1781, when the two DeLancey Battalions (first and second) were thrown into one, he returned to New York, where he remained until sometime before the evacuation, when he came to this place and now resides at the City of St. John, New Brunswick.
He produces his commission as Captain in General DeLancey’s Brigade, dated 8th September, 1776. He now enjoys the half-pay of captain.”
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].
(See last week’s article.)
William Hallett married as his first wife, Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feake, after a scandal involving the two of them. Elizabeth was still married to Robert Feake when she was found to be “seeing” William, although the records at that time state that Robert was thought to be suffering from mental illness. William married for a second time, Susannah (Booth) Thorne around 1668, although that marriage ended in a contentious divorce.
Elizabeth and Robert Feake had a grandchild, Mary Bowne, who married Joseph Thorne, the son of William Thorne and Susannah (Booth) (Thorne) Hallett. William Hallett, thus, had a step-grandaughter married to a step-son!
William and Susannah Thorne had a great-grandson, Stephen (1717 – 1800), who was a Captain in the British Army and was at the Battle of Long Island. Stephen was an ardent Loyalist, an Anglican, many of his older relatives were founding members of St George’s Church in Hempstead LI. Stephen had his house plundered many times by the Patriots and he was arrested after the war. Stephen moved his family AND his house (!) to Annapolis Royal NS in 1783 on land granted to him once the war had ended as his loyalist tendencies had put him in much disfavour with his neighbours.
I am hoping someone will be able to add some more information about Stephen Thorne. I have information about his life, his being granted land by the Crown for his services during the Rev War, but almost nothing about his service record. Any information would be appreciated.
I hope this might prove to be an interesting addition to the article by George McNeillie.
I remember the first stove we got was a heating stove. It was all of four feet long and was what is called a “Box stove”. We had two fire places in our house, a small one in the weaving room, and the big one that Mother used to cook with. But we were sure proud of our heating stove. But the greatest day of all was when Mother got her cooking stove. Oh, my, we sure did admire that stove and when I compare that stove with nowaday ranges, I have to laugh. The hind legs were about three feet long and front ones about a foot long. It had four lids on top and the oven was like a drum sitting on those hind legs. The stove pipe fitted in the center of the drum on top. It had a door to the fire box and one on each end of the oven. I am sure it made the cooking much easier for Mother. But when Mother wanted to roast a fowl of any kind it was always done in front of the fire place and our soup was always made over the fireplace, and our oat cakes were always baked on that flat stone in front of the fire.
We raised barley and oats, all the grain we could raise. The oats were black. The barley was to feed the hogs in winter. We also hulled the barley with which to make barley soup. We had a mortar and pestle which Father made. The mortar was made of a squared maple log about three feet long and eighteen inches wide, with a hole in the center a foot deep and eight or ten inches across the top and gradually sloping to the bottom of the hole. The pestle was also of maple wood, made sloping to fit the hole in the mortar, about an inch smaller than the mortar. Through the top of this was a handle, mortized in. The handle was about a foot long.
Mother would say, “Come, children, hull some barley and we will have some barley soup,” and we kids would get to work. We would put about a quart of barley grains into the mortar, add about a half pint of water and start pounding the grain with the pestle. We each would take our turns at the pestle, some would last ten minutes, some less, according to our size and strength. In about twenty minutes the hulls on the barley would begin to loosen and fly out of the mortar. We would add a little more water every now and then. In about an hour the barley would be hulled, as clean as a whistle. Then we would have barley soup. We did this in winter time, as the work was too hard to do in warm weather.
In the summer time we dug clams and caught lobster. When the tide was out we would take our spades or shovels and a big basket we had for that purpose and away we would go to the clam beds and dig clams until we had our basket full. Then we would souse the basket up and down in the water until all the sand was washed off them. Then Mother would cook them, soup or chowder or any way she wanted. We also caught lobsters when the tide was out. But we had to wade, sometimes up to our middles, to find their nests in the sea weed, or under the side of a rock. We carried sticks about two feet long and where we found a lobster, we would poke him with the stick and he would rare back and put up his claws, open. We would put the stick in his claw and he would shut down on the stick and we would wade to shore with him, hoist him into the basket, press on his eyes, and he would open his claws and let us have our stick to catch another one with.
…Carl Stymiest UE, President, UELAC Vancouver Branch
Source: “Down by the Old Mill Stream: a Stymiest Chronicle.” Copyright 2001 Carl Stymiest, UE. All rights reserved. Permission granted to UELAC to reprint.
For the last several a donor (not me) has provided some funding to reward branches which do well each year at increasing their membership, compared to the prior year. If a branch achieves a certain percentage increase, they receive a small cash award. Using a formula which allocates tickets based on achievement, a draw is held at the annual UELAC conference.
In 2010, the top four branches were Calgary at 118% of their 2009 membership, Col. Edward Jessup at 117%, Sir John Johnson at 113% and Edmonton at 112%. Another twelve branches matched or exceeded their 2009 membership. All of these earned tickets to the draw.
At the conference Gala Banquet on June 4, tickets for these branches were drawn:
1. Little Forks
2. Calgary Branch
3. Col. Edward Jessup
4. Sir John Johnson.
See a picture of those representing the winning branches here.
As well, for the first time a Region Cup was awarded for the Region posting the best membership, relative to 2009. The winning Region in 2010 was the Prairie Region. Gerry Adair, RVP for Prairie Region accepted the prestigious cup and each branch in the region received a certificate.
See a picture of the winning representatives here.
Congratulations to the winners. The membership challenge has been funded and is underway again for 2011.
…Barb Andrew, Chairman, Membership Committee
I know of people who travel long distances just to hear a certain speaker, or to learn new skills at seminars. Many genealogy societies run periodic conferences with noted experts on many topics, all related to genealogy.
Even if you cannot attend these special conferences or seminars, chances are you can learn the same information through Webinars. Simply put, a webinar is a seminar run on the web, complete with interaction with the presenter(s) and handout sheets. You can attend from the comfort of your computer work area, and an added bonus is that many of these webinars are free. You will find others are available at varying costs.
Dick Eastman lists a number of webinars that have been held. You can view some by clicking on: http://blog.eogn.com/.services/blog/6a00d8341c767353ef00e55065e13d8833/search?filter.q=webinars. Some of the listed webinars are out of date, however, you can get a feel for what webinars have been given, and there will be links to other sites where current webinars are being held.
There have been some great free webinars lately at Legacy Family Tree, http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/. If you click on Training, a drop down menu will list Webinars. They have had a series of webinars outlining some very interesting things that can be done with Google Docs. The latest one outlining the use of “Forms” was fascinating. The instructor was great. My wife watched the webinar (as she has done with many previous webinars from this site), and sent it off to me. Legacy Family Tree keeps the webinar available for up to a month for people who couldn’t register and participate when the webinar ran in real time.
GeneaWebinars, http://blog.geneawebinars.com/, often list webinars offered at Legacy, but also offers live streaming events from workshops and seminars. On the navigation bar there is a “Calendar” tab which gives the dates and pertinent information on upcoming events and webinars.
Webinars on using specific genealogy programs can be found on the program site and also on user sites. Roots Magic, for instance http://www.rootsmagic.com/webinars/, offers many program specific tutorials and webinars. These can be viewed at any time.
Don’t forget all the tools available from Family Search, www.familysearch.com. Log onto the site, click on Learn from the navigation bar then choose Research Courses. Here you will find dozens of video courses, similar to archived webinars, complete with handouts. The courses run from beginner to more specific topics and countries. They may be from 5 minutes long to an hour. Handouts and notes are generally in PDF format.
While checking out the Mormon connection to Family History, include Brigham Young University at: http://ce.byu.edu/is/site/courses/free.cfm. They offer free online study courses including several Family History/Genealogy courses.
If you have never attended a webinar, the process is easy. First of all, check to see that the webinar date is good for you. Webinars often run for about an hour, followed by a question and answer session. You will have to register. The earlier you register, the better the chance to get a ‘seat’ for the webinar. This means that the presenters will know you are there, and you will have the opportunity to ask questions and dialogue with the presenters at the appropriate time.
If you miss the webinar or cannot fit it into your schedule, some webinars will be made available to view for up to a month. After this time, you can purchase the webinar on cd, complete with handouts. This can be handy if there is material here that you want to refer back to in the future. Genealogy interest groups may want to add cd’s of this type for their resource materials. I should add that not everyone is connected to the internet by a high speed connection. Getting cd’s with handouts pertaining to topics of interest may be the easiest way to engage in this type of learning.
Webinars are available on a wide variety of topics besides genealogy. Some webinars are offered at a graduate university level, while others are of a general interest nature. There are many webinars to help ‘not for profit’ groups manage their activities, fund raise, etc. There are webinars aimed at the Open Source community which create and continue to update programs such as Linux, Open Office, Gimp, etc.
To explore other possibilities, go to Cyndi’s List, www.cyndislist.com. Search for webinars. Links to a number of online courses and webinars are available.
You may find that creating a webinar of your own would be a welcome challenge. A Google search will find a number of sites that want to help. One that I found was particularly good can be found here: http://www.gotomeeting.com/fec/webinar. One good thing about this site is that you can try it out before committing to pay for a session.
I would like to thank my wife Cheryl for her help in researching this material and telling me about her experiences while participating in webinars.
You can email Wayne Scott to get in touch with questions or comments.
Last fall (Sept 2010) I posted a response to a query about the Canadian/British version of the Battle of New Orleans, and promised to dig further.
I recently Googled Woody Lambe and found that he died two years ago. No mention in his obituary that he was a member of the Lowlanders – how fleeting is fame! At least I remember him – great song.
At last success has crowned my efforts! I have found my 45 rpm recording of the Battle of Stoney Creek by the Lowlanders, but I have no way of sharing this.
Woody Lambe was the author of the song and one of the singers. The Lowlanders included Peter Purvis – a Western student who was later a music teacher (my daughter in law’s teacher as it turns out). Peter, unfortunately has passed away. Can’t remember the third singer. Peter played the double bass, one of the others a guitar and the third a banjo.
Delving further into Google there is a website page that includes the words of the song printed out, and a sound recording of the Lowlanders recording. The page also has more details about the Battle of Stoney Creek and various reenactments of the Battle in more recent times. To see more, go here.
As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
– Snider, Simon – from Linda Smith, with certificate application
– Starkey, Mordecai – from Gayle Starkey Pittman