“Loyalist Trails” 2012-13: April 1, 2012

In this issue:
Two Widows from Stillwater — by Stephen Davidson
Samuel Carman (1782 – 1864) by George McNeillie
Central West Regional Meeting – April 21, 2012 at London, Ontario
“Vignettes of Winnipeg, Past and Present”: The Fort Garry Hotel-222 Broadway
Biggest Loyalist Families: William Peters (15 children) by Frances (Peters) Rose, UE
Loyal Americans Hall of Honour Enriched With Five New Biographies
Last Post
      + Elizabeth Richardson, UE
      + James Henry Wallace Shaw, UE
      + Mabel Fay (née Flewelling) Hutchison, R.N., IODE, UE
      + Jane Gail Irvine


Two Widows from Stillwater — by Stephen Davidson

Between May 29 and August 2 of 1787, scores of loyalists travelled to Quebec City to seek compensation from the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists (RCLSAL). Eight of these claimants were the widows of loyalists. The stories of Eliabeth MacNeil, Catherina Cruikshank, Elizabeth Campbell, Rachel MacIntosh, Jane Waite and Mary Bebee have already been featured in earlier issues Loyalist Trails. However, there are two widows’ stories yet to be told — and both of these women had once lived in Stillwater, New York.

When Ann Hall stood before the RCLSAL commissioner to make her case for compensation, she had already waited three years to hear from the British government. Red tape was as much an irritant in the 18th century as it is in the 21st. In the fall of 1783, Hall had sent a claim to England with William Powell. This was never lodged because at that time the RCLSAL would only consider claims after a face to face interview with a loyalist. With no other means of financial support available, Ann resorted to the only course open to loyalist widows — she married again, becoming Mrs. Hall rather than Mrs. Conrad Barnet.

After giving up any hope of compensation, Mrs. Hall must have been thrilled to learn that the RCLSAL was coming to British North America and would hold hearings in Quebec City. She travelled from Montreal’s “St. Lawrence Suburbs”, hoping to receive enough money to cover the expenses of educating her three children: John, William and Mary Barnet. At last, on Monday, June 18th, the loyalist widow could tell her story.

Ann and her first husband, Conrad Barnet, had lived in Stillwater, New York (near the modern day Saratoga National Historic Park). Barnet, a German immigrant, was a member of the 47th Regiment that had fought in the Seven Years War. In the years of peace that followed, Barnet leased a 150-acre farm from General Philip Schuyler. He built fences, cleared two thirds of the land, constructed a house, a barn and stables, and planted an orchard. Although he was too old to fight for his king during the Revolution, he was not too old to be imprisoned for his loyalist principles.

After seven months in jail, Barnet was released in August of 1777, just as General Burgoyne’s troops were advancing south toward the Hudson River. Knowing the strength and whereabouts of patriot sympathizers, Ann’s husband served the crown by passing on information to the British general. This did not go down well with either Barnet’s landlord who had joined the patriot forces or the local rebels. Continental Army soldiers stormed the Barnets’ farm, “seized his things and took away all the cattle and every article of property.”

Ann and the children fled into the woods. After being reunited with Conrad, the five Barnets went north to Canada where they settled in La Prairie. Within three months, Conrad died. Ann took her children to Montreal where they remained for the next six years.

A witness at Ann’s RCLSAL hearing testified that her late husband “was a worthy, good man and a true Loyalist and was driven into Canada with his Wife and family”. A second witness had just left Stillwater where the Barnets had lived. He reported that their 150-acre farm had been leased to a new set of tenants. There was no home to which Barnet’s widow and her new husband could return.

Although it was four years in coming, Ann was finally granted 205 pounds sterling in compensation for all that she had lost.

The last loyalist widow to stand before the compensation board that convened in Quebec City was Mary McGeer. Like Ann Barnet Hall, she had been a farmer’s wife in Stillwater, New York. However, where Barnet’s husband had supplied intelligence to General Burgoyne, Mary’s husband was one of 57 local loyalists who joined the advancing British army. Given that the rebels’ 13th Albany Militia regiment were among Stillwater’s defenders, William McGeer was going off to a battle in which he would be firing upon men that he had known as neighbours.

As McGeer ran off into the woods with his musket, he bade goodbye to his daughters, two-year old Cornelia and the new baby, Martha. It was the last time his family would ever see William alive. Rebels soon attacked the McGeer home, making off with furniture, clothing and corn.

The Battle of Saratoga, a turning point in the Revolution, was fought just miles from Stillwater in a field that belonged to a loyalist named Isaac Man. After Burgoyne’s troops surrendered, all that Mary was told was that her husband was now a prisoner of war. Burgoyne’s men were initially incarcerated near Boston in Cambridge, Massachusetts and then, a year later, in Virginia. Mary had every reason to believe that she would be reunited with William at the end of the Revolution. In the meantime, she fled north to Montreal with other loyalists.

In 1784, Mary learned the awful news. Her William had died as a prisoner of war, perhaps due to the poor treatment that loyalists received while incarcerated. Mary and her two daughters joined 300 other loyalists to found a settlement at Chaleur Bay on the Gaspe Peninsula. Among these settlers were several people that Mary McGeer had known in happier times in Stillwater, New York.

In 1787, ten of these loyalists — including Mary McGeer and another widow — journeyed to Quebec City to seek compensation from the RCLSAL. Thomas Shearar, Andrew Colter, and Andrew Norton presented their claims to the commissioners on the same day as Mary — Thursday, August second. Despite all the time and effort involved in travelling from the Gaspe Peninsula to Quebec City, Mary McGeer only asked for 37 pounds steerling in compensation.

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

Samuel Carman (1782 – 1864) © George McNeillie

My Uncle Miles Odber Carman of course derived his name from his Aunt Sarah Ann’s husband, and from him the name of Odber descended to me. As germane to this subject, it may be mentioned that the oldest business of any description in the Province of New Brunswick is that of A. Chipman Smith & Co. druggists on the west side of King Square in St. John. It was founded as early at least as 1795 by Dr. Nathan Smith, in the little drug store in St. James Street in St. John, adjacent to his residence. The son of Dr. Nathan Smith was also a physician, William Howe Smith by name. He married a daughter of Col. Miles of Maugerville, and after the death of his father removed the drug store to the Market Square, foot of King Street in St. John. He named his eldest son William Odber Smith. The second Dr. Smith died in 1822 at the age of 45, and his son, then only a lad of 18 years of age, successfully carried on the drug business until his death in 1871.

During this period, the Irish immigration gave St. John a big boost, and the young druggist attributed not a little of his success to the O in his name. The Irish read the sign on his shop, “William O’Smith”, and patronized him accordingly. They also helped to elect him mayor of St. John, a position subsequently filled by his son A. Chipman Smith.

From Market Square the Drug Store was in the course of time removed to Charlotte Street, where it continued to flourish in (about) the 130th year of its existence. The old Dr/ smith homestead on St. James Street was a city landmark until the great fire of 1877. From it the old front door with its antique knocker, both brought from New York in 1783, were saved by a grandson, William Odber Stewart, at the time of the great fire in 1877.

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

Central West Regional Meeting – April 21, 2012 at London, Ontario

We are only three weeks away from the April 21, 2012 Central West Regional Meeting! With so much attention being given to the War of 1812 Bicentennial we are pleased to have Glenn Stott and Carol Hall presenting a feature on War of 1812 Losses and Claims. Many of you will remember Glenn from the 2010 Regional when he shared stories of his 1812 heroes. We also hope to hear from the Central West Region branches who are participating in 1812 commemorative events.

Jennifer Nelson, a graduate of the MA Program in Public History at University of Western Ontario, will be informing and entertaining us with Public History and The Power of Social Media – This will be an interactive presentation so come prepared with enthusiasm and questions.

This event is open to members and friends of all branches of the Central West Region. Mark this date on your calendar and join us at the Westmount Branch of the London Public Library. Cost is $5/person at the door.

More details are on this agenda, otherwise email me.

RSVP by Friday, April 13 to CWR Vice-President Sue Hines shinese751@rogers.com.

Note: Project 2014 Promotions Market will be in the house so come prepared to shop. This is a great day to connect and share ideas and contacts within the Central West Region.

We look forward to seeing you there!

…Sue Hines

“Vignettes of Winnipeg, Past and Present”: The Fort Garry Hotel-222 Broadway

The Fort Garry Hotel began its days as a railway hotel, built by the Grand Trunk and the Canadian Northern Railways. Construction began in 1911. It opened in 1913, and served the Railways until 1923, when they were amalgamated into the CNR.

Charles M. Hays, president of the Grand Trunk, envisioned a string of grand hotels across Canada to rival those of the CPR.

He chose a Loire Valley chateau style for both the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa and the Fort Garry in Winnipeg. Grand Trunk construction continued with The Macdonald in Edmonton and Minaki Lodge in Northwest Ontario. This era of hotel building came to an end with Mr. Hay’s death in 1912 on the Titanic and the outbreak of WWI two years later.

The 14 storey Fort Garry is said to be Winnipeg’s first skyscraper. It was built on a steel frame, clad with Illinois limestone on a grey granite base.

Stories about the Fort Garry abound. One is that the tunnel which connects it with Union Station was used to ferry passengers and luggage to the Hotel and gourmet meals from the Hotel to the first class rail cars. There appears to be no truth to this. The tunnel is hardly more than a crawl space, and was used for the heating pipes that ran from a steam plant at The Forks, through Union Station to the Hotel, providing heat for both.

The other stories are less mundane. They concern supposed ghostly denizens of the Fort Garry Hotel, but that is a story for another time. Be assured. They are all benign.

Over the decades this grand hotel hosted celebrations and celebrities. In the 1970s it fell on hard times, and after an owner defaulted on a mortgage, its doors were closed and its future was in doubt.

In 1994 local restaurateurs Richard Bel and Ida Albo entered a partnership with the Laberge family, which held the mortgage. Since that time the Hotel has undergone extensive restorations to the elegance of its early years.

Today it is host to conferences, weddings, and gala dinners. There are magnificent conference and ballrooms, a piano lounge, breakfast rooms, and an elegant lobby surmounted by a mezzanine.

It is now a National Heritage Site, and remains one of the jewels of Broadway. The Conference at the Confluence web-site features a fine photograph of the hotel and the hotel’s own web-site offers a virtual tour of its interior.


Street of Dreams: The Story of Broadway, by Marjorie Gillies


…Mary F. Steinhoff, Secretary, Manitoba Branch, UEL

[Manitoba Branch is hosting Conference at the Confluence 2012, the UELAC annual gathering and annual meeting from June 7 to 10 in Winnipeg. These vignettes will provide some of the local history and whet your appetite for more. Now is a good time to plan your trip to the conference, and join us there.]

Biggest Loyalist Families: William Peters (15 children) by Frances (Peters) Rose, UE

William Peters, with 15 children, has been added to the List of the largest Loyalist families – submitted by Frances (Peters) Rose, UE. See more of the Loyalists’ biggest families – four entries so far – and note the submission guidelines if you have a large family you would like to contribute.

Loyal Americans Hall of Honour Enriched With Five New Biographies

Five new biographies have been added to the Loyal Americans Hall of Honour posted to the UELAC Honours and Recognition folder. The additions include Helen Anderson inducted in 2004, Harry Danford in 2007, Arthur Dorland in 2003, Thomas Edison in 2003, and Dr. Peter Martin, Oronhyatekha, inducted in 2007.

Nine years ago, the Bay of Quinte Branch UELAC created Loyal Americans Hall of Honour to both identify and celebrate those descendants of the United Empire Loyalists who made significant achievements, either locally, nationally or internationally. Brian Tackaberry, President of the Bay of Quinte Branch, is currently working on the remaining list of ten additional members of the Loyal Americans Hall of Honour.


Last Post

Elizabeth Richardson, UE

It is with great sadness that I wish to report that Elizabeth Richardson, Dominion Archivist, passed away on Friday, 30 March 2012 at 7:30 a.m.

She is currently resting in the Mackey Funeral Home, 33 Peel Street, Lindsay, Ontario. K9V 3L9. Phone: 705-328-2721. E-mail: info@mackeys.ca

Visitation will take place on Wednesday, 04 April 2012 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. and the funeral will be held on Thursday, 05 April 2012 at 11:00 a.m.

A luncheon will be served in Cambridge Street United Church, 61 Cambridge Street North, Lindsay, K9V 4C9, Phone: 705-324-3547, following the funeral service. Interment will take place in Strathroy in May.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this sad time.

Elizabeth was honoured at the UELAC Conference in 2010 as the recipient of the Dorchester Award. You can read some of her life story and UELAC contributions here.

…Robert C. McBride UE

James Henry Wallace Shaw, UE

August 26, 1926 – March 23, 2012. Born in Owen Sound, Ontario, Wally passed away in Scarborough, Ontario. Will be greatly missed by his beloved wife Joan (nee Cunningham) of 51 years together. Brother to Bill and Gordon. Father of Jim (Chris), Dan (Sherry), Karen (Kevin), Kathleen, Tom, Patty (Brian), Peter, Jennifer, David (Lisa) and step-son John (Dianne). Grandfather and great-grandfather to numerous grand and great- grandchildren. Predeceased by his parents Charles Gordon and Elsie Victoria (nee Irving), daughter Gail and siblings Freddie and Muriel. Service and interment at Ebenezer United Church. Donations to “The Ebenezer United Church Building Fund.”

Wally was, and many members of his family are, proud members of Gov. Simcoe Branch. They received their loyalist certificates in the summer of 2011, at a ceremony at Fort York on Canada and on Simcoe Days. Loyalist ancestor Aeneas Shaw was a loyalist and was also a militia commander for the Toronto (then York) area at the time of the War of 1812.

Mabel Fay (née Flewelling) Hutchison, R.N., IODE, UE

9 October 1917 – 22 March 2012. Mabel died peacefully at Toronto, on a sunny Spring day, in her 95th year. Survived and greatly missed by daughter Audrey, her husband Leo Fox and three grandsons and families; by her son David, his wife Elma, and grandchildren. Predeceased 2 June 2011 by her husband of almost 66 years, Aubrey Hutchison.

Born in Newcastle Creek (near Grand Lake), New Brunswick, Mabel was the much-loved daughter of Harriet ‘Hattie’ Smith and David Melbourne ‘Mel’ Flewelling and the beloved sister of the late Lloyd Flewelling. Mabel treasured her deep New Brunswick roots; more than a dozen of her ancestors were United Empire Loyalists who arrived with their families in Saint John in 1783, and others settled in N.B. even earlier.

Cremation and a private family commemoration have taken place. A more comprehensive record of her life events (PDF) is available.

…Audrey Fox UE

Jane Gail Irvine

JANE GAIL IRVINE October 20, 1944 – March 17, 2012 As the sun rose on St. Patrick’s Day so did the spirit of our beloved Jane Gail. Her loving niece Megan Ludlow and brother Ronald were by her side as she peacefully went to join her ancestors. Jane Gail was born and raised in Winnipeg and made her final home in Toronto. She is survived by her siblings, Joyce Myrden, Bruce Irvine, Aline Ludlow, Ronald Irvine and many cherished cousins, nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.

Gail had a long and accomplished career in Project Management providing leadership and inspiring loyalty from her colleagues. Her working career included Expo 86 (British Columbia), Harbourfront Centre, and various Ontario government agencies. Gail was an active member of numerous associations and contributed countless hours to them. Inevitably colleagues became friends.

In lieu of a service Gail requested instead that a party be held. In celebration of her life a come and go tea will be held on April 14, 2012 at 77 University Crescent, Winnipeg from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Please visit and share your stories at www.facebook.com/InMemoryofJaneGailIrvine. Winnipeg Free Press, 24 March 2012.

Gail served on the Executive of Toronto Branch as Chair of the Programme Committee.

…Susan Ellsworth