“Loyalist Trails” 2011-39: October 2, 2011

In this issue:
The Great and Complicated Business: Beginning the World Again — by Stephen Davidson
Note re Stephen Davidson’s Fifth Anniversary Link
Dr. Azor Betts and the Betts Family — Part 2 of 2 — by George McNeillie
Gavin Watt Keeps Busy
The War of 1812, A PBS Presentation
The Tech Side: Taking Better Photos – by Wayne Scott, UE
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Last Post: H. Keith Dalrymple, UE
      + Response re Where is the Burritt Cannonball?
      + Loyalist Refugee Camp at Sorel
      + William Philip(s)


The Great and Complicated Business: Beginning the World Again — by Stephen Davidson

If you want to hear the voices of the loyalists of the American Revolution, read the handful of memoirs and diaries that have survived to this day. Then consider the transcripts of the compensation claims board which record loyalist testimonies of their service to the crown and subsequent losses. A third and seldom-tapped resource is the letters that desperate loyalists sent to Sir Guy Carleton in the spring, summer and fall of 1783. Commissioned to undertake the “great and complicated business” of evacuating both the British troops and loyal colonists through the port of New York, Carleton received a never-ending tide of correspondence. The letters from loyalists shed a much-needed light on a year full of chaos and persecution.

Dr. James Latham, the former Surgeon to 8th Regiment, asked for money to repay the cost of the flour and provisions he had bought for the British army. He needed relief for his family and “an opportunity of beginning the world again”. That poignant phrase summed up the hopes and fears of the hundreds of loyalists who wrote to Carleton.

In this article we will consider the letters from loyalists bound for Canada. It is widely assumed that all the loyal refugees who settled in Quebec and Ontario travelled there overland by foot or by river craft. However, Sir Guy Carleton oversaw the safe departure of no fewer than 1,328 loyalists who sailed to Canada through the port of New York City. These Canada-bound colonists represent six per cent of all of the loyalists who fled New York in 1783. Their stories, though brief, add to our understanding of the loyalist experience.

Patriots imprisoned Alexander White, the former high sheriff of New York’s Tryon County, in a New England jail for three years, “part of the time in a cell in irons”. He wanted to settle in Canada, but needed money for “a passage and some subsistence”. White also asked for “passage for the poor people of his county and Albany who have left their all.”

Michael Grass and six other loyalists told Carleton that they planned to settle at “Frontenac in Canada”. However, because of their poverty, they needed the “necessaries” for travel, medicine, powder, musket balls and farming implements.

Peter Ruttan, who later settled along the Bay of Quinte, had served as an officer in the 4th Battalion New Jersey Volunteers. He had thirty-odd families under his charge that planned to settle in Canada. He asked Carleton for assistance and a recommendation to Canada’s governor.

With only a month left before all British forces and loyalists had to leave New York City, a loyalist from Philadelphia named William Tanner wrote to Carleton. Tanner had watched his trade decline as the patriots around him boycotted his business. Despite the high cost that he paid for his loyalty, Tanner did what he could to support the war effort. When General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia in October of 1781, many of his loyalist soldiers were able to escape. Those who made it as far as Philadelphia were given shelter in Tanner’s hay loft. Three men sent written testimonies that Tanner was “a friend to prisoners” and that he had sheltered up to 19 loyalists in his barn. Given his loyal service, Tanner asked Carleton for “some sum of money to transport him and his family to Quebec.”

John Snow, a soldier who served under Colonel Butler, hoped to be reunited with his family. The patriots had made Snow their prisoner at Tengar 19 months earlier and his family was “greatly distressed by his absence”. All would be well if Carleton could give him some assistance so that he could join them in Niagara.

In the 18th century it was assumed that women would travel by sea with either their husbands or fathers. Left to their own resources, a number of women boldly petition the commander-in-chief for assistance.

The widow of a loyalist colonel, Ann Houston, asked for a six month advance on her subsistence so that she could buy “necessaries” for her voyage to Canada. She hoped that Carleton would recommend that General Haldimand would continue to grant her a widow’s pension after her arrival. The last time that Margaret Drake had seen her husband was in 1780. Entrusted with letters for Canada, Mr. Drake never returned. Margaret asked Carleton for permission to go and make enquiries into her husband’s fate or whereabouts. She just needed him to grant her allowance that would support “herself and her children on the road”.

Carleton once wrote to General George Washington on behalf of loyalists. He asked the Continental Army general to provide passports for Captain R. Tongue and William Robinson, who wanted to proceed overland to Canada.

One group of loyalists was considerate enough to send Carleton a manifest with the names of all those who sailed for Canada on the Industry. (While not given in the collection of Carleton’s letters, one can only hope that this passenger lists is safely tucked away somewhere in a British archives.) What makes this letter noteworthy is its revelation of a group of loyalists who took the initiative to hire their own ship instead of relying on government assistance to leave the former Thirteen Colonies.

Stephen Jarvis, who would one day settle in York, Upper Canada, wrote Carleton on June 15, 1783. The commander-in-chief had asked Jarvis to learn how the patriots of Connecticut were treating the loyalists “that have gone into the country since the cessation of hostilities”. After arriving in his hometown, rebels warned Jarvis that he “must immediately retire, that at present they did not intend to hurt {him}, but if {he} were seen within thirty miles of Danbury after sunset … {he} must stand the consequence”. Jarvis came away unscathed, but he told Carleton stories of how some loyalists had been carried on a rail, while others had been put backwards on a bare-back horse and mocked.

In next week’s Loyalist Trails, we will learn how loyalist children fared in this increasingly dangerous environment.

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

Note re Stephen Davidson’s Fifth Anniversary Link

The editor did not check links sufficiently well. The link to the issue of Loyalist Trails from five years ago worked, but in the target there was no link to the Polly Dibblee seven-page biography article. It can be found here (PDF) – in the Loyalist Directory under Fyler Dibblee.


Dr. Azor Betts and the Betts Family — Part 2 of 2 — by George McNeillie

Capt. Richard Vanderburg also says that Betts was a very zealous and active Loyalist. He lay in AEsopus Gaol at the time his own father Henry Vanderburg was confined there. He was confined by a rebel committee for carrying intelligence to the British when New York was in possession of the rebels, and banished to AEsopus by the Provincial Congress. He returned to New York and was again confined. He made his escape just before New York was taken by the King’s Forces, got to the British lines, and came in with them. He was made surgeon of the Queen’s Rangers by General Howe. Afterwards he was seconded (or retired) along with many other officers. He then received a warrant as Capt. Lieut. in the King’s American Rangers and recruited men under this warrant.

A surgeon being much needed at Morrissania [Editor’s Note – Morrissania is the historical name for the South Bronx and derives from the powerful and aristocratic Morris family, who at one time owned all of the Manor of Morrisania] he served eighteen months as surgeon at that post by request of Colonel De Lancey and Major Huggeford.

After his return from AEsopus he was tried by the congress of New York for carrying intelligence to the British and sentenced to death, and was lying in Gaol under that sentence when the British troops arrived.

He came to New Brunswick with the Loyalists in the first fleet, which arrived in May, 1783, and went up the river three weeks afterwards, returning again soon after to Parr-town. Here on the 1st September, 1784, a Masonic Lodge, the first in New Brunswick, was organized and the officers installed by Azor Betts. The Rev. John Beardsley was installed as the first Worshipful Master.

The Kingston people solicited Dr. Betts to remove to their village, as we learn from the minutes of the Easter Monday Parish meeting held on March 28, 1785, in which we read:- “Voted that Doctor Azor Betts shall have a settlement of 25 acres of Land in the Town Plot, provided the people have a right to give him the same.”

Dr. Betts lived in Kingston a good many years. In 1788 he subscribed 5 pounds sterling towards the building of the Church. In 1796 he was one of the pew holders. His son James O. Betts was a pew holder in 1810. The latter married Silas Raymond’s daughter Hannah, who was born on Long Island, N.Y. on April 20, 1780, during the war. Their son Charles Betts was for many years the “Crier” of the Courts in St. John, and used to amuse the young folks when, in response to the Judge’s order “Crier! Make proclamation,” he cried in stentorian tones, “Oh yes! Oh yes! Oh yes! God save the Queen!”

Under the Raymond genealogy mention has been made of Dr. Betts’ services during an epidemic of Small Pox in Kingston. He was a leading man in the parish for some years. He seems later to have removed to Saint John. He died, however, and was buried in Digby, N.S. in 1809, leaving two sons Hiram and James O. Betts.

His widow spent her declining years in St. John, where she died and is buried in the old graveyard, east of King Square, where a headstone marks her grave.

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

Gavin Watt Keeps Busy

I have made some visits to UELAC branches as guest speaker and quite enjoy the opportunity and the discussion which usually results.

I’m now in another edit of my sections of my next book, “The British Campaign of 1777 — The Burgoyne Expedition.” I’m responsible for “The American Provincials and The Natives”. Nothing unusual about this — I expect to go through multiple edits.

My co-author and King’s Rangers reenactor, Albert Smith of St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, is still plugging along getting information for and organizing his section — “the Canadiens”. Unlike the loyalists, the Canadiens do not seem to have kept nominal rolls of their companies and support organizations, so Albert is having to go to arcane lengths to build his charts. One would never know it from Franco-Canadian histories, but Burgoyne was supported (not always enthusiastically mind you) by almost as many Francophones as American loyalists. It’s a well-guarded secret; I suppose — not in Quebec’s ‘national interest,’ so to speak. I doubt if Albert can identify even 1/3 of them, but that’s 1/3 more than is currently identified and published now.

We have yet to tackle the chore of suitable maps and illustrations. I’ve got some ideas and will use Royal Yorker Ensign, John Moore again, as he provided many ‘colour’ illustrations for the St. Leger book.

In the process of preparing my lists and studying the campaign, I’ve assembled so much material that I’ve concluded that a second book is necessary, which will be a narrative of loyalist, Canadien and native experiences, like my other non-genealogical books. I have not approached the publisher yet about taking it on, but I do have hopes, despite the disarray of the publishing business due to e-books, IPads, etc.

The first manuscript, with its primarily genealogical base, is still eagerly awaited by Rick Roberts at Global Genealogy. Albert and I have the goal to transfer the manuscript by next March latest. That will hopefully lead to an off-press date of late 2012 — hopefully in time for Christmas, depending on how much doctoring Rick has to do with our submission.

…Gavin Watt, HVP UELAC

The War of 1812, A PBS Presentation

Watch the PBS production about the War of 1812 Monday Oct 10 at 9:00 – check your local stations. The following details are from a recent promotional email.

Reenactors bring history to life in The War of 1812

How to tell the story of the War of 1812 in the 21st Century? Reenactors! Considering that President Madison declared this war twenty-eight years before the first photograph would be made in America, The War of 1812 filmmakers knew reenactors gave them something to show.

Production designer Peter Twist assembled crews of reenactors for all the battle scenes. Between these enthusiastic 1812 reenactors and the use of the USS Niagara and the Pride of Baltimore, The War of 1812 really recreated 1812.

The attention to detail was impeccable, and the reenactors shared that what they got out of it was a deeper understanding of history than any book could provide. Read an essay from filmmaker Lawrence Hott about working with the reenactors.

Watch a behind-the-scenes video from the making of The War of 1812.

The Tech Side: Taking Better Photos – by Wayne Scott, UE

The art of taking good photographs is something many of us strive to perfect. We have the ability to capture moments in time with a camera. We help bring our research alive with the use of photos. The skills involved in creating good photographs are easy to identify and take practice to master.

If purchasing a camera is in your future, there are two types of cameras available to hobbyists: digital ‘Point and Shoot’ and digital SLR’s. They vary quite a bit in many aspects, and they both take good pictures. Basically, the digital SLR camera is much heavier than a point and shoot model, it’s more expensive, takes much higher resolution pictures and gives the user greater control over the settings. Check out this reference site for an in-depth discussion of camera differences. Visit dpreview.com to compare a number of cameras and their features – this will help if you are planning to upgrade your camera.

Here’s a nifty camera simulation site. You can experiment with some of the settings found in the manual settings camera mode. By adjusting various settings you will see what differences are made to the photograph. Many effects are created by adjusting one or more of the settings. All digital SLR and some point and shoot cameras have a manual mode with some of the settings found on this simulation site.

The internet abounds with suggestions and tips for creating better pictures. At a recent seminar we attended, the presenter stressed the need to press the shutter slowly and evenly. This allows the camera time to focus. Also there is a tendency for the camera jump when the shutter is pushed quickly. This is particularly noticeable when using the telephoto lens. The presenter also stressed the importance of viewing your subject through the optical view finder, and not relying on the screen for details.

The Kodak site suggests that you look your subject in the eye and move your subject from the middle of the picture. They give 8 other tips which all go together to give your photos a boost in creativity.

This WikiHow site offers more than 20 suggestions including the suggestion to “read the manual”. Quite often the manual that came with your camera is very useful in describing how the camera should be used. We all read the first few pages “getting started”, but forget to go back and read the more advanced instructions. Also, a visit to the camera manufacturer’s website will often give both novice and advanced instructions on quality photo techniques.

Wired.com’s guide to How To Take Great Photos gives the photographer help with light, colour and exposure settings. Often, just a simple tweak or two is all it takes to get sensational photographs. This site gives some advice also for using a digicam.

This seems like a lot of work getting all of the technical stuff down pat. One of the better suggestions is to carry your camera around with you and take lots of pictures. You might also want a journal or note book to jot down the conditions under which the pictures were taken. Play with the settings. You don’t have to print all of the pictures, just have fun. See what works for you and what you like. If you want a more systematic approach, there are free online photography courses available. Check out freephotocourse.com or shortcourses.com. The people who built your camera may have online tutorials available on their site also.

A look around your community will likely identify courses offered by camera shops and adult education centres. Courses are also offered that let you edit your pictures with programs like Photoshop, or Photoshop Elements.

There are options in storing your photos. Some cameras have a small built in storage file. Many photographers rush out to the Electronics Store to buy up Memory Cards when they go on sale. It is possible to purchase cards that have up to 32GB’s of space. This is enough room to store over 30,000 pictures of a megabyte in size. Be wary of discounted cards. With cameras that have a maximum resolution of 8 or more megapixels, the transfer speed from the camera to the storage card can be quite slow with less expensive cards. All-things-photography.com offers some advice on this topic.

Take lots of pictures in all kinds of settings and conditions. Study your pictures on a computer, full screen. Soon you will be taking note of the best settings for your camera under different conditions.

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

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
– Longstreet, John (aka Langestraat Jan) – from Howard Ray Lawrence

Last Post: H. Keith Dalrymple, UE

Members of Colonel John Butler (Niagara) Branch were saddened to learn that long time, loyal member H. Keith Dalrymple, UE passed away suddenly at his residence in Komoka, Ontario on Tuesday, May 24, 2011, age 76. Dear brother of Russell and his wife May. Predeceased by his parents John Russell Dalrymple & Mary Smith Dalrymple and his brothers George and Alan. Keith will be sadly missed by many nieces and nephews. Cremation has taken place. Keith was very proud of his Loyalist ancestors James Clendenning, Harmanus House and William May.

…Bev and Rod Craig


Response re Where is the Burritt Cannonball?

In last week’s Loyalist Trails, “War of 1812: Where is the Burritt Cannonball?” described the cannonball and sought its current whereabouts. The question elicited a quick response:

I was forwarded your article from the UELAC newsletter regarding the missing ‘Burritt’ cannonball at the Canadian War Museum , and wanted to provide some information as to its current location.

Unfortunately, this item is not in fact held in the collection of the Canadian War Museum. It is owned by and displayed at the Bytown Museum, a civic museum in the city of Ottawa located near Parliament Hill at the mouth of the Rideau Canal. I am reliably informed by a colleague — formerly on the staff of the Bytown Museum — that the cannonball was first exhibited in 2007 amid refurbishment of the museum’s displays. To the best of my knowledge, it remains there on display today.

I hope this is of some help.

…Gareth Newfield, M.M.St., Research Assistant, Canadian War Museum

Loyalist Refugee Camp at Sorel

The camp at Sorel where a goodly number of Loyalists, many with their families, were stationed or quartered from an early part of the war until some time after the war ended must have seen many people. Sorel, now part of Sorel-Tracy, has a good Wikipedia description.

With both military, civilian loyalists and a local civilian population, there must have been a number of births and deaths, and obviously a cemetery/burial ground.

Does anyone have any information which would help those seeking information about loyalist family members who did die, or may have died, there. Are the burial grounds known? Were records of BDMs kept and if so, do they exist today? Where would they be found?

Any information about Sorel and the American Revolutionary War and Loyalists would be appreciated for our Loyalist history and as articles for Loyalist Trails.

…Doug Grant and Don Maxwell

William Philip(s)

I am searching for my ancestor, one William Philip Phillips [yes, middle and surname almost identical]. The information that we have tells us that his spouse was a Sarah Shadford. We also believe he was of Irish origin.

William and Sarah had a son,Thomas Phillips, who was born in 1832, in Front of Yonge, County Leeds, Ontario.

Thomas married Isabella Dorman who was born in 1835. Thomas and Isabella owned a house in Burritts Rapids, Ontario, between 1859 and 1975. There they raised a large family. Thomas died in 1909,Isabella in 1910.

Given the birth date of Thomas in 1832, if there is a Loyalist connection, William and/or Sarah (parents of Thomas) would be the child or grand-child of the Loyalist.

Any help or information about Thomas, William and their families would be much appreciated.

…Jessie Schneider