“Loyalist Trails” 2011-37: September 18, 2011
In this issue:
– Three Loyalists from Albany County — by Stephen Davidson
– Horsfield Ancestry: First Generation in America © George McNeillie
– Could You Pass The Canadian Citizenship Test?
– New Book Release: Simon Girty, Wilderness Warrior, by Edward Butts
– Additions to the Loyalist Directory
+ Draper, Crittenden, Hills Families
When the British government sent commissioners to Montreal in 1788 to consider loyalists’ claims for compensation, they kept brief transcripts of their hearings. These records have been a godsend to later generations that have tried to piece together the story of their loyalist ancestors. If one is willing to scratch beneath the surface details of lost property, one will discover the interconnected webs of support and friendship between Canada’s early settlers. A case in point is that of three friends who were once neighbours in Albany County, New York: Israel Ferguson, Guysbert Sharpe and Peter Van Alstine.
Five years after settling in Upper Canada, all three loyalists made the treacherous journey to Montreal in the February of 1788 to seek redress for themselves –and to support their former neighbours. The compensation board hearings’ transcripts tell their stories.
On Monday, February 27, 1788, Peter Van Alstine stood before the British commissioners to request compensation. The board members learned that he was born in Kinderhook and was living there at the outbreak of the Revolution. Local loyalists chose Van Alstine to represent them on the “Committee of Albany” in 1776, so his patriot neighbours knew exactly where he stood. Van Alstine was part of a 17-member loyalist minority that rebels quickly imprisoned for being “friends of the King of Great Britain”. Released after more than two weeks in jail, Van Alstine then hid himself from his patriot neighbours from January to September of 1777. As General Burgoyne marched his armies south into the rebelling colonies, Van Alstine recruited 30 men and joined the king’s forces. By 1778, the Kinderhook loyalist was living in New York where he served as the “captain of batteaux men”. By the end of the war, Van Alstine had enlisted with the Associated Loyalists, doing duty as a major at Smith Town, Long Island.
When the Revolution came to an end, Van Alstine had suffered enormous losses. He testified that the patriots had confiscated 600 acres of land in Kinderhook, a brick house worth £400, three enslaved Africans, 20 sheep, 20 cattle, 6 horses, 10 hogs, sacks of grain and a sled. Although Van Alstine had three deeds and his father’s will with him, the compensation board still required that a witness verify his claims.
Sharpe verified that patriots confiscated his friend’s land, that Van Alstine “accepted to serve the friends of Great Britain” in the Albany assembly, and that he had fought for the British. Sharpe also provided a detail that Van Alstine had failed to mention — he had been Kinderhook’s blacksmith and had “made money by his Trade”.
Guysbert Sharpe also sought redress for his own wartime losses on that Monday in 1788. Patriots had taken 220 acres of his land, a house, a barn, an enslaved African woman, a horse, five cattle, swine, grain, furniture and farming tools. Peter Van Alstine appeared before the board as a witness for Sharpe’s claims. In his testimony, Van Alstine revealed that because of his “avowedly loyal principles” Sharpe had been “obliged to secrete himself in the Woods” before joining Burgoyne’s army.
Israel Ferguson also testified on Sharpe’s behalf. Like Van Alstine, he, too had lived in Kinderhook. Ferguson remembered the amount of property and possessions that Sharpe had owned, and that he “lived comfortably and well”.
Given his brief testimony, it might not seem that Ferguson contributed very much to Sharpe’s cause. But he had actually exerted himself more than either of his two friends. The dates of the compensation claim hearings reveal his sacrifice. Van Alstine and Sharpe made their appearances before the board on the same February day, so presumably they had travelled together to Montreal at the same time. However, the February 1788 hearing marked the second time that Ferguson had journeyed to Montreal. His own compensation hearing had convened on January 11th, approximately six weeks before the commissioners heard Van Alstine and Sharpe. Ferguson went to the bother of making a second winter journey to Montreal to testify for his fellow loyalist.
In January, Israel Ferguson had made a compensation claim for himself and his two younger brothers, Richard and Farrington. All three men had lived near each other in the town of Partnership close to New York’s Fort Edward. During the course of the war, each brother served with the King’s Rangers as their ages permitted. Israel joined in 1777, Richard in 1778, and Farrington in 1779. All three served until the end of the Revolution and then settled along the Bay of Quinte.
When Ferguson joined the British army in 1777, his mother, sisters and one brother were “thrown in Gaol” in Albany. Upon her release, Mrs. Ferguson sought refuge in Canada; her husband joined her in the following year. Mr. Ferguson had “carried dispatches of Consequence” that described rebel activities. Lt. Philip Lansing, who spoke on Ferguson’s behalf, said “they were a very Loyal Family”. Another witness, Lt. Walter Sutherland, remembered the furniture, utensils and “a fine yoke of oxen and cows”.
The family’s story obviously impressed the compensation commissioners. Their personal citations in the transcript note that the Fergusons were “Good people”.
While the loyalist settlers of Upper Canada helped one another in the practical day-to-day needs of clearing land, raising barns, and delivering babies, they also stood by one another to secure financial support from the British government — even if it meant travelling down the St. Lawrence River to Montreal in the frigid winter of 1788. The stories of Van Alstine, Ferguson and Sharpe are just one instance of how early loyalists cooperated with one another as the pioneers of British North America.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
He [Thomas Horsfield] was so kindly in his interest in the widow Sarah (Horsfield) Carman, and her children, that he advanced to Samuel Carman (my grandfather) the money needed to purchase the shares of his wife’s sisters, Eliza, Jane and Hannah Moore in their father’s farm in Lower St. Mary’s. In his will he bequeathed this money to Samuel Carman (our Grandfather). The residue of his estate, however, seems not to have sufficed to pay this legacy in full. Nevertheless, the intentions of Mr. Horsfield were generous, if not realized in full.
Speaking of the character of men of the stamp of the Horsfields, Colonel Thomas De Voe observed in his ‘Reminiscences of Old Brooklyn’:-
“I am free to observe that the Old Fly Market [the predecessor of the Fulton Fish Market located in Maiden Lane] of New York furnished from the ranks of its professional butchers more men of worth. . .than has ever been given to any community by any similar institution in any other part of the civilized world.
“So important were the positions and duties of the professional butchers esteemed in the early and middle periods of our history, that it was held paramount that they should exhibit evidences of good character, sobriety, professional ability and practical skill, and they had to be certified and endorsed by two or more good men. . .In addition to this they were compelled to submit to a previous apprenticeship under the supervision of honest reliable established Master Butchers.”
The Horsfields, however, I suspect, made more money in their Brewery and in furnishing ships with provisions than in any other line of their business in New York and Brooklyn.
We have seen a silhouette of Thomas Horsfield — a very old one. It is to be regretted that his portrait in oils was not preserved and placed in Trinity Church, of which he was a generous benefactor as well as a warden for more than twenty years. It was certainly rather melancholy that the portrait should have been abandoned in the house at “Mahogany” to be devoured by rats!
The name of “Horsfield Street” alone perpetuates the memory of the family at Saint John at the present day. Thomas Horsfield was a personal friend of Bishop Charles Inglis and was a man greatly respected in the community.
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].
Browsing the internet this past week I came across an interesting page on the Toronto Public Library website. It offered information and assistance on questions related to Canadian Citizenship. Step number one: To become a Canadian citizen you must pass the Canadian Citizenship Test.
This prompted the question: Could you or I pass the Canadian Citizenship Test? We posted this very question on our Twitter account @uelac and received a number of responses. Because of the interest generated by our question on Twitter we thought you might like to try the test yourself. The Toronto Public Library has created a practice test (PDF) with questions taken from Discover Canada, the Citizenship and Immigration Canada study guide.
Categories covered include: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship; Government, Elections and Voting Procedures; Facts about Canada, its History, Geography and Symbols. The correct answers are given at the bottom of the page. Don’t look!
You can try the test here. Good luck with your answers. Have fun and let us know your scores! I am expecting great things.
…B. Schepers UE, VP UELAC
During the American Revolution and the border conflicts that followed, Simon Girty’s name struck terror into the hearts of U.S. settlers in the Ohio Valley and the territory of Kentucky. Girty (1741–1818) had lived with the Natives most of his life. Scorned by his fellow white frontiersmen as an “Indian lover,” Girty became an Indian agent for the British. He accompanied Native raids against Americans, spied deep into enemy territory, and was influential in convincing the tribes to fight for the British.
The Americans declared Girty an outlaw. In U.S. history books he is a villain even worse than Benedict Arnold. Yet in Canada, Girty is regarded as a Loyalist hero, and a historic plaque marks the site of his homestead on the Ontario side of the Detroit River.
In Native history, Girty stands out as one of the few white men who championed their cause against American expansion. But was he truly the “White Savage” of legend, or a hero whose story was twisted by his foes?
Paperback; 276 pages; $19.99; 5½ x 8½; 12 b&w illustrations, timeline, bibliography, index, A Quest Biography. Published by Dundurn.
Books can be ordered through University of Toronto Press by email or phone at 1-800-565-9523. You can also respond to me directly with questions or to place an order.
…Liz Funduk, Dundurn, email@example.com
As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
– Upham, Abraham – from Hugh Potter, with certificate application
I am a new member of the Vancouver Branch UELAC and have an unproven UE link with a 102 year old indication of UE status. The 1909 (reprinted 1998) book “A History of Simcoe County” by Andrew F. Hunter states on p. 113 “James White’s wife, (Pamila Draper) (sic), was of U.E. Loyalist descent, being a daughter of Joel Draper, of North Gwillimbury.” “Kith ‘N Kin” (1978 history of the Township of Oro) p. 398 says “it is told that her [Pamela’s] father walked the entire distance from Boston to Roach’s Point, Ontario, during the American Revolution.”
However, he, Joel Draper (Senior) was not born until 1789. He married Mary CRITTENDEN and their daughter Pamela was born in New York, USA in 1804, and d.1889 Simcoe Co, ON. She is a known ancestor of mine who married James White who came to Canada from Cornwall, England in 1818.
The DRAPERs appear to have come to Canada after 1804 – they may have been “Late Loyalists, Simcoe Loyalists, Associated Loyalists/Incorporated Loyalists.”
The UE advisors feel that the best chance of proving a UE link is via Pamela’s mother’s CRITTENDEN branch. Pamela’s mother Mary CRITTENDEN was apparently born in the Eastern USA circa 1785-1790 and died 25 Jul 1874 in North Gwillimbury, ON. Pamela’s Grandfather was Benjamin CRITTENDEN b.1748 Guilford, New Haven, CT, married in 1777 in Ashfield, Mass. and died 1812 in Keswick, ON. Pamela’s Grandmother was Mary HILLS b. about 1751-1759 Ashfield, Mass. d. 1858 Keswick, ON.
Any help in determining a UEL ancestor of Pamela Draper would be appreciated.
…Colin MacGregor Stevens