“Loyalist Trails” 2011-49: December 11, 2011

In this issue:
Christmas Memories of the Revolution: Part Two — by Stephen Davidson
A Second Connecticut Loyalist Lecture
Book Review: The Loyalist Tiles Of St. Alban’s
Gazette Branching Out Updates Now Posted
The Tech Side: Some Automated Help for Your Research – by Wayne Scott, UE
      + Calendar List of 1812 Bicentennial Events


Christmas Memories of the Revolution: Part Two — by Stephen Davidson

If you asked the South Carolina loyalist David Fanning for his memories of the Christmas of 1777, he would probably have said “snow”. After having captured Fanning seven times, the rebels at Fort Ninety-Six were determined not to have him escape an eighth time. They took Fanning’s clothes and chained him to the floor.

Within two months’ time, the loyalist had sawn through his bars. Fanning then made a ladder out of old clothes provided by a cellmate. On the night of December 20th, he escaped –only to be recaptured within three days. This time, the jailers put him in chains in the middle of a large second-story room. For the next eleven days, snow blew in through the roof as well as in through the four open windows. In this fashion, Fanning spent Christmas and New Year’s Day.

While Fanning was in chains on Christmas Day in 1777, further north –in Fredericktown, Maryland– a young British officer was writing a letter. Thomas Anburey was a prisoner of war. But instead of being incarcerated in a snowy cell, he was housed with Mr. McMurdo, the local rebel commissary of provisions. Describing his host in a letter to a friend, Anburey reported that McMurdo was a “gentleman and man of the world. His attention is such, that although for this day, which is as much a day of festival as in England, he has been engaged for some time past among his friends and relations, he would stay at home, and entertain us with an excellent Christmas dinner, not even forgetting plum-pudding. “

A loyalist wife who was six months pregnant also wrote a letter at Christmas time. Eliza Johnston had spent 1780’s Christmas on a ship bound for Savannah, Georgia. The trip had been four days long and the weather had been very cold. The morning after her arrival, Eliza picked up her pen and wrote her husband who was in Charleston, South Carolina. Although she was a very devout Christian, her letter had far more important matters to discuss than Christmas.

“Fortune has been favourable to me in one instance, in giving me a husband indulgent even to my foibles, whilst she has been cruel in obliging us to be separated. Would to heaven we were never to be parted and then my happiness would be complete and I should have no wish ungratified. … I would tell you I love you more than my own life, but you are well convinced of that already, and I must beg and entreat that you will come by the first opportunity, if you possibly can consistently with duty. “

The last Christmas disrupted by the American Revolution was the Christmas of 1782. It was one of great horror –and great relief– for the loyalists of the southern colonies.

Beginning in October of 1782, southern loyalists and British troops had started to evacuate Georgia and South Carolina. The colonists who were part of those first evacuations spent that Christmas far away from their homes, observing the day in England, the West Indies, East Florida, or Nova Scotia. The shock of all that had transpired no doubt diminished whatever holiday spirits they might have had that year. But at least they were free and alive. The same could not be said for the loyalists who stayed in Charleston after December 14th.

December 14, 1780 was the last day of Charleston’s evacuation. The 470 loyalists who were bound for Nova Scotia had a three-week journey ahead of them. They would observe Christmas somewhere on the cold north Atlantic Ocean. The loyalists who decided to remain in Charleston to take their chances with the victorious patriots had a far worse Christmas.

Thomas Jones, a loyalist refugee from New York, recorded the story of what befell the loyalists of Charleston in 1782. “No sooner had the evacuation taken place at Charleston than the rebels, like so many furies, or rather devils, entered the town, and a scene ensued, the very repetition of which is shocking to the ears of humanity. The Loyalists were seized, hove into dungeons, prisons, and prevosts. Some were tied up and whipped, others were tarred and feathered; some were dragged to horse-ponds and drenched till near dead, others were carried about the town in carts with labels upon their breasts and back with the word “Tory,” in capitals, written thereon.

All the Loyalists were turned out of their houses and obliged to sleep in the streets and fields, their covering the canopy of heaven. A universal plunder of the friends to government took place, and, to complete the scene, a gallows erected upon the quay facing the harbour, and twenty-four reputable Loyalists hanged in sight of the British fleet, with the army and refugees on board. This account of the evacuation of Charleston I had from a British officer who was upon the spot, ashore at the time, and an eye-witness to the whole.”

By Christmas, the persecution of Charleston’s loyalists subsided. It was a December they would never be able to erase from their memories.

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

A Second Connecticut Loyalist Lecture

Following his lecture The United Empire Loyalists: a Canadian Point of View, given last year before the Wintonbury Historical Society in Bloomfield, Connecticut, Nova Scotia lawyer Lorne E. Rozovsky, QC was invited to present an expanded version this year before the Adult Learning Program of the University of Connecticut. This year’s lecture on October 5, 2011 was also presented in Bloomfield just outside of Hartford.

Rozovsky described not only what had happened to the Loyalists in the United States during and after the Revolution, but also their reception in Canada. He discussed the effect that the Loyalists had on the political development of the Canadian colonies and how it differed from that of the United States. The Connecticut audience showed particular interest in the Loyalist attitudes towards political change and how it has affected the way in which Canadians govern themselves to-day as an as an independent nation. Rozovsky noted that while the Loyalist period has long since gone, and their descendants make up a very small proportion of the Canadian public, their thinking and their approach to political change continues to affect the thinking and political life of all Canadians.

His audience was surprised how Canada had developed through evolutionary independence, as compared to revolutionary independence. They seemed to be taken aback when he said that Canada has never had a civil war, and has never declared independence, even though it is independent. He pointed out to his Connecticut audience that the Loyalists were in fact very independently minded. They would not follow the popular trend and paid the price for it as America was swept up in revolution.

Read Tories in the Revolution (PDF).

…Lorne Rozovsky

Book Review: The Loyalist Tiles Of St. Alban’s

The Loyalist Tiles Of St. Alban’s: Encaustic Memorial Tiles of the 19th Century, by Diane Berlet (author) and Graem Coles (photographer)

Diane Berlet and the History Committee of St. Alban’s Church in Adolphustown have produced a handsome publication which is not only a pleasure to view, but is also very informative.

The book was launched last October 29th before a full house at St. Alban’s Church at Adolphustown, literally across the highway from Bay of Quinte Branch’s Research Centre and Park. Several Bay of Quinte members were present.and the Branch’s student employee Carson Murphy was mentioned in particular for his assistance when author Diane Berlet was researching area families at the Centre.

St. Alban’s dates from 1884 and it was planned to coincide with the Centennial of the Loyalists’ arrival in the Quinte area. Canon Forneri was responsible for the push to realize this project and the neo-Gothic structure was designed by Joseph Power and Son. St. Alban’s particular claim to fame is the set of sixty-four encaustic memorial tiles which were paid for by descendants and friends in the 1880s. Brian Musselwhite of the ROM, (whom I knew in high school and university in Toronto), remarks in the Foreward that this grouping, was probably the largest installation of such tiles in Canada. (p5)

It is best to understand the scope of this collection before you actually view it. There is a general assumption that the tiles all represent Quinte area Loyalists. In fact while there are a number of such Loyalists represented, there are also other early area non-Loyalists, Loyalists from other jurisdictions and quite a few who were born in later times. For example there are tiles for Daniel Haight a Quaker, Joel Ingersoll a probable Rebel, and Stephen Jarvis UE a Loyalist from a different district.

The information on the tiles was provided by descendants over a century ago, and there are some errors. For example Capt. Abraham Maybee UE is listed as 96 years of age at his death, which is a few years off, and William Crawford is shown to have been in the Royal Rangers, when the King’s Royal Reg’t of NY would be the regiment.

Each of the sixty-four tiles is featured in a full page photograph and Diane has provided extensive notes to add more information about the individuals and in some cases to correct information on the tiles. There’s also detailed information on the source of the tiles in England and the specialized process used in their creation.

A number of UELAC members are mentioned in the Acknowledgements including Fred Hayward UE, Brian Tackaberry UE, Doug Grant UE, George Anderson UE, Philip Smart UE and myself to name a few.

If you are interested in a copy, contact Diane at dianeberlet4@aol.com.

Author: Diane Berlet

Photographer: Graem Coles

Title: The Loyalist Tiles Of St. Alban’s, Encaustic Memorial Tiles of the 19th Century

Publisher: Allan Graphics Ltd (Kingston, ON)

For more information about the book and St. Alban’s, click here.

Reviewed by Peter W. Johnson, UE

Gazette Branching Out Updates Now Posted

The Branch reports as found in the Loyalist Gazette spring 2011 edition have now been posted to the appropriate branch page on the Dominion website. The thirteen updates include Bay of Quinte, Chilliwack, Col. John Butler, Edmonton, Gov. Simcoe, Heritage, Kingston, Little Forks, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Sir John Johnson, Vancouver, and Victoria Branches. The next update will occur in 2012.


The Tech Side: Some Automated Help for Your Research – by Wayne Scott, UE

There is a wealth of information on the web. There are a huge number of websites; according to the Pigdon Blog, there were 255 million websites on the net in 2010. How can a researcher find all the relevant sites to visit, let alone revisiting favourite sites to track changes and updates? You may be interested in a family name, official records, translations, information on towns and villages, just to name a few common search parameters. There are some services that can make part of your browsing easier.

There are a number of automated “Alert” search services that will report back to the genealogist when a specific website has been changed in content. Some of them are tried and proven and there are some ‘new kids on the block’.

The early web page trackers often sent reports by means of RSS, (“Really Simple Syndication” – explained here). Some of the trackers reported every changed item or word. Often genealogists are more interested in content changes than simple word editing changes. Another welcome change showing up recently is that most of the web tracking services are free for personal use.

When setting up the parameters of a tracking service(s), you will be asked to specify how often the chosen websites are to be checked, what form of alert you want to receive (RSS or Email), how often you are to be alerted to changes, etc. Many services have other criteria which can be specified such as names or places.

To get a feel for many of the options available to the web researcher, check out this site. Here you will find a number of services explained, along with desktop applications that will do the searching from your own computer, rather than depending upon a web application. In many cases, the desktop web searching tools are not free. However, if they do the job for you, the time saved may be worth the money invested in these products. The ones listed at this site are all $50.00 or less.

On the free side, one web “Alert” tool, Google Alerts, is getting a lot of attention lately. Although it fairly new, it is quite robust and configurable. The researcher will be asked for the actual search parameter (website), how often to search, how often to report, the type of material searched (blog, website, periodicals, etc.), and where to deliver the search reports. All of this is quite straight forward, after you set up a free Google account which takes just a few minutes.

If you use Firefox as a web browser, there is an add-on that can be downloaded to help in this process called Update Scanner.

Some website tracking services offer online tutorials on using their products. Change Detection is one of them. At first glance, the reports show every change made, including how many hits the website has had. This could be more information than you want to know. However, following the tutorial, the search can be focused by means of adjusting the search parameters, giving the researcher meaningful reports.

Like most everything, there is no one service or software package that will meet everyone’s needs. I might suggest that a couple of services can be tried using the same search parameters. You will be able to compare the results of the searches and how the reports look. The ease of customizing searches will also be noted. In the end, the process that gives the relevant information and is the easiest for you to work with will likely be the one for you, but almost any choice from the list of possibilities will help your genealogy research.

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


Calendar List of 1812 Bicentennial Events

I like to be able to plan my future events and with the bicentennial celebrations of the War of 1812 almost upon us, I am looking for a website which gives a calendar of events for the commemorations. Is their a consolidated international list? or a Canadian one? or even an Ontario one. Or even one central page which gives a link to each regional group.

From the Toronto area where I happen to live, a day trip to most any of the Ontario regional groups is quite practical. Ideally I would like to be able to make plans for a longer trip to a more significant event, or when time opens up, take the opportunity for a quick visit locally.

Your help is appreciated.

…Jo Ann Tuskin