“Loyalist Trails” 2012-14: April 8, 2012
In this issue:
– More Small and Trifling Matters in Loyalist Research — by Stephen Davidson
– Samuel Carman (1782 – 1864) by George McNeillie
– “Vignettes of Winnipeg, Past and Present”: The Forks – Part 1
– Biggest Loyalist Families – Andrew Kimmerly (15 children) by Don Maxwell
– From Twitter: A Loyalist, Grimsby and the War of 1812
– 2011 Dorchester Award Recipient
– Toronto Casting Call: Bring Out The Actor in You (April 10 Deadline)
+ Looking for descendants of William Roe, 1795-1879
+ Pictures of Historical Adolphustown and Area
+ Loyalist Information for James Kinsey
As I go trawling through the dark recesses of online loyalist data in search of material for future Loyalist Trails articles, I often come across fascinating details or mere snippets of stories. Although interesting in themselves, these fragments just aren’t rich enough to develop into their own articles. So rather than letting them gather “dust” on a virtual shelf , I’ll let another collection of “small and trifling matters” be this week’s contribution to our understanding of the loyalist era.
Remember the story in the Bible where Esau sold his birthright as oldest son for a bowl of stew? If you can trace your lineage back to the Coons of Cornwall, Ontario, you have a similar story in your family history. When John Coons appeared before the loyalist compensation board in Montreal in October of 1787, he had a strange tale to tell.
Coons’ decision to go off and fight with Sir John Johnson’s corps meant that he had to leave his elderly father to fend for himself at home. That home was a 100-acre farm in Tryon County, New York.
The winters were severe and food was scarce. Coon’s father was afraid that he would starve to death. Seeing his predicament, a stranger offered to buy the farm. However, he would not pay for the loyalist’s property with cash — he wanted to buy it with wheat. Facing starvation, the elderly Coons agreed. The stranger paid him 24 skiples of wheat — that’s about 18 bushels (or 672 litres).
The Revolution witnessed many such strange transactions. The widow of a loyalist from North Carolina appealed for compensation for the loss of an African slave. Her husband, the late David McLean, had paid for the man “in beef and pork”.
All sorts of people appeared before the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists (RCLSAL). The youngest of all may have been a ten year-old boy. When the RCLSAL convened in Halifax in May of 1786, a lawyer named William Tailor approached the commissioners on behalf of John Stevenson. John’s father was Shove Stevenson of Middleton, New Jersey. Shove served the British throughout the war. At its conclusion, he settled with other loyalists in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. His wife and son stayed behind in New Jersey while he prepared for their arrival in their new home. However, both Shove and his wife died shortly after their parting. Having neither a mother nor a father, young John went to live with his maternal great-grandfather, a Mr. Mott, in Middletown, Nova Scotia.
The Stevensons had once owned 400 acres of land, a house and a saw mill in Monmouth County. Whether the lawyer was able to persuade the RCLSAL to compensate little John is not recorded. He certainly tried to pull at their heart strings. The lawyer brought little John Stevenson before the RCLSAL commissioner on the day he pled the boy’s case.
Stories of the Revolution survived long after it participants — and so did the oddest collection of objects. In 1892, the descendants of Robert Sharp proudly displayed what their loyalist ancestor brought to New Brunswick from his Staten Island home. More than a century after the Revolution’s end, the family had some of the loyalist’s books, including a Bible, and a black cherry wood table that could seat six. Like all loyalist settlers, the Sharps first home was a log cabin. After every meal, the Sharps had to put their cherry wood table outdoors to make more room for family members in the cabin for the remainder of the day.
Two years later the newspapers reported that a Grand Manan Island postmaster still had his loyalist great-grandfather’s flintlock horse pistol. The weapon was over 100 years old. In 1896, a Woodstock newspaper reported that a local barrister had a Masonic apron that the loyalist Charles Perley had brought to New Brunswick in 1783.
Loyalists could also have holes in their pockets, it seems. Not far from Kingston, New Brunswick, a farmer and his son were clearing land on property once owned by the loyalist, Captain William Grey. They found a 1724 English coin near the site of the original farm house.
Perhaps the most interesting loyalist possession described in a 19th century newspaper was the one that did not leave the United States. Before he fled to New Brunswick, Alexander Montgomery leased fifty acres of his land to the city of New York. More than a century passed; the lease had far outrun its expiry date. Montgomery’s descendants were now the rightful heirs of some prime American real estate. According to the Toronto News of August 7, 1895 “the heirs are now laying claim to a valuable property in the heart of New York City and their chances of success are good”. Sadly, the papers of the day do not reveal how the story of the loyalist lease ended for Montgomery’s heirs.
Sometimes just a word or phrase can be a relic from the loyalist era. When Cavalier Jouet wrote Sir Guy Carleton in 1783, he talked about how rebels threatened to give him a “continental jacket”. That was just a polite term for being covered in tar and feathers. As he closed his letter, Jouet apologized for being too “prolix”. This interesting word comes from Middle English and its first usage dates back to somewhere between 1375 and 1425. Prolix is an adjective that means “extended to great, unnecessary or tedious length” or “long and wordy”.
At the risk of being described in such a way myself, I’ll close for this week.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
We now return from this rather extended digression to speak again of the Carmans at Lower St. Mary’s. When Uncle Odber Miles Carman and his brother Samuel John were turned thirty they became ambitious to make their fortunes in the lumber industry. With my father’s help they planned a steam saw-mill on the bank of the River St. John on their own farm. During the year 1854-5 my father assisted them as an amateur mill-wright in fitting up the mill. For a time this matter involved quite a transformation in our household. My mother was at her new home in Woodstock looking after the house and, with our Grandfather Raymond’s help, looking after the poultry, butter and the farm in general, while I, then the only child, of two years old, was down at Grandfather Carman’s with my father. I ran about the workshop freely, and a letter from my father still in existence, assures my mother that “I have still all my fingers and toes”, and that I am vastly interested in the work going on in the shop.
At length the mills were finished, and for a time there was lots of stir about the old place, and the name of “Carman’s Mills” began to be known throughout the surrounding country. But also, like many hundreds of others in New Brunswick, the Carmans were nipped in the lumber business, and, to crown all, one morning (very fortunately while the mill-hands were at breakfast) the boiler of the mill exploded and wrecked the building and machinery. The two brothers became financially embarrassed and finally lost both mill and farm – that is the part of it owned by Uncle Odber. I think that Grandfather Carman and his daughters retained their half of the farm, including the homestead.
My Uncle Odber now moved down to Maugerville, and about 1861 rented the “parsonage and glebe”. They remained there until 1867, when Uncle Sam bought the upper half of the Bedell farm at Woodstock, and the two families brought with them their “Lares and Penates” (Lares and Penates = household goods), and having sold the remnant of their property in St. Mary’s came to us.
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].
The Forks has been a meeting place for many thousands of years. Archaeological excavations have located fire-pits dating back 3000 and 6000 years. The most recent discovery is of a 500 year old fire-pit that confirms Aboriginal oral history of a great peace summit of many tribes of Plains Peoples. Artifacts from this pit have been carbon-dated to 1285. (photo of a public archaeological dig in 1990)
The first European to record his presence at The Forks was the French explorer Pierre de la Verendrye. On his arrival there in 1738 he gave it the misleading name “La Forche”, thinking it was a fork in the Red River. Only later, with further exploration, did he realize that it was in fact the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.
La Verendrye’s Fort Rouge was the first fort built at The Forks. Its exact location has never been determined, and it probably served only as a temporary stopping place for La Verendrye and his associates.
In 1810 the North West Company, the dynamic Montreal-based enterprise created by Scottish Highlanders and loyalists to rival the Hudson’s Bay Company, built Fort Gibraltar I on the west bank of the Red River near the Confluence. This was a provisioning fort for the main food-stuff of the western fur trade, pemmican.
This fort was burned during the “fur trade war “between the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1817 Fort Gibraltar II was built a few hundred yards to the west. After the amalgamation of the two companies in 1821, this fort was renamed Fort Garry. The great flood of 1826 damaged this structure and the Hudson’s Bay Company decided to build a new Fort Garry a short distance away on the north bank of the Assiniboine, higher ground. Of that fort all that remains is the Governor’s Gate.
For a time after 1836 the Hudson’s Bay Company operated an experimental farm at The Forks, and when Rupertsland was sold to Canada in 1869, the Company kept the 65 acre plot as Lot I of the Hudson’s Bay Reserve, the 200 acre tract it retained around Upper Fort Garry.
In the 1870s and ’80s steamboats on the Red River brought Eastern Canadians and immigrants to Manitoba. Their first stop, before finding employment or heading to a homestead, was the immigrant sheds at The Forks.
The Company divided Lot I into individual building lots, but found no buyers until the Northern Pacific and Manitoba Railway, which would later become the Canadian National Railway, bought the entire tract in 1888. It became the East Yards, and the building of Union Station and the High Line Main between 1908 and 1911 effectively isolated The Forks from downtown Winnipeg.
By the 1960s much of the CNR’s maintenance work had shifted elsewhere. The Forks was virtually abandoned, an unsightly wasteland of derelict buildings and discarded, rusted equipment.
Cross Roads of the Continent: A History of The Forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, ed. Barbara Huck.
The Heritage Beneath our Feet: The Forks Visitors Guide.
…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.]
William Peters, with 15 children, has been added to the List of the largest Loyalist families – submitted by Don Maxwell. 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.
Many people still mistakenly think that nothing much happened in Grimsby (which was then called The Forty) during the War of 1812. We now know that plenty happened what with British troops, American troops, and Indians tramping through and camping all over the place. There is still a lot left to learn. Just recently I found a newspaper story that was new to me and which can be added to Grimsby’s 1812 lore.
Around 1800, United Empire Loyalist Allan Nixon built a little stone farm shop on his property on the Indian trail from the Head of the Lake to Queenston. It is now 271 Main Street West. Before his death in 1813, Allan sold the building to his son William, who was a carriagemaker and blacksmith. During the war, William was off serving in the 4th Lincoln Regiment, but the blacksmith shop was still operating with George Pettit wielding the hammer. When the Americans passed through The Forty on their way to Stoney Creek, they stopped at the stone shop and forced Pettit to shoe their horses. Pettit came from another U.E.L. family, and he was hostile toward the enemy troops, so he trimmed the American horses’ hoofs badly so that they were lamed.
The angry Americans took Pettit prisoner and held him until after the Battle of Stoney Creek. Then they took him to Batavia, N.Y., where he remained in captivity. Before long, he managed to escape and found his way to the east bank of the Niagara River where he hid until he saw an opportunity to swim to Grand Island. He threw his clothes over a log and pushed it in front of him. A patrol boat caught sight of him and took potshots at him, but Pettit managed to dodge the bullets and swim safely to shore. Exhausted, he rested until he was able to make his way back to The Forty.
So you see The Forty had many people who took part in the War of 1812 in different ways and with a great deal of enthusiasm.
After William Nixon returned from the war, the stone shop was used for a variety of purposes. In 1963, the Town of Grimsby and the Grimsby Historical Society got together to operate the building as Grimsby’s first museum with Florence Martin as the volunteer curator.
(See the slightly larger article here.)
The Dorchester Award was created in 2007 to honour those volunteers in the Association who have gone “that extra mile” with their contributions to the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada. Every year the UELAC recognizes one or more of its members who have made significant contributions to our Association. This is the highest award presented to one of our members by the Association. In June 2011 at the Dominion Conference in Brockville, Ontario the Dorchester Award was presented to Doug Grant UE from the Governor Simcoe Branch. He has now been added to the list of honoured recipients of this award as listed at National: UELAC Dorchester Award.
…Gerry Adair UE, Chairman, Volunteer Recognition
Single Thread Theatre Company is seeking actors to form the ensemble of its next site-specific, audience-immersive project “The Loyalists” in Toronto. Application deadline Tuesday April 10; Rehearsals start mid-April; event runs June 4-22.
Read the casting notice with all relevant details.
…Single Thread Theatre Company
My name is David Raymont, and I’m participating in this year’s Luminato art installation called The Encampment, which will open for visitors from June 8 to 24 at Fort York in Toronto. The organizers of this event see The Encampment as a “temporal village” to mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812. It will comprises 200 A-frame tents pitched on the grounds of Fort York with each tent containing an installation by one of 200 artistic collaborators explaining the impact of the War on individuals who lived in York and Upper Canada. Visit thomasandguinevere.com/participants-12/ to learn more.
I am one of the artistic collaborators and I chose to a prepare an installation about William Roe.
William Roe was born in Detroit in 1795 to Walter Roe and Ann Laughton Roe. Walter Roe was mayor of Detroit at the time the city became a US possession. William, and his brothers Walter and John, and sister Caroline, grew up in Sandwich. Along with receiving the best local education, they made friends with children of the local First Nation and William learned to be fluent in Ojibwe.
In 1813, Roe was in York and employed as a clerk in the office of the Receiver-General for Upper Canada, Prideaux Selby, who was also a friend of his father Walter. When the American fleet appeared, Roe was ordered to gather up the government’s treasure – three bags of gold and paper currency – and hide them on Peter Robinson’s farm east of the Don River. He was 16 years old at the time.
Following the War, Roe and Andrew Borland began to trade with the Ojibway in Newmarket. In addition to his business, Roe was appointed post master and acted as reeve for the village during its early years. He helped raise funds for the creation of St. Paul’s, the first Anglican Church in the city. He is considered a founder of the city and there is a roadway named for him.
Like me, William Roe was a member of the York Pioneer and Historical Society. He died in 1879.
William Roe was married twice, and his second wife was Sarah Ruston. He had three children from his first marriage, William Jr. and daughters Sarah and Julia. His sister Caroline married Dr. Morton of Holland Landing, and their son, John Alfred Morton, farmed land near Blenheim.
I would appreciate hearing from descendants of William Roe as I am planning my representation of his career as part of The Encampment. And it would be a special pleasure to invite them to a preview showing of the display. You can contact me by email.
The Encampment is part of the City of Toronto’s commemoration of the bicentennial of the War. See www.toronto.ca/1812.
The Adolphustown-Fredericksburgh Heritage Society is trying to document old buildings in the area – churches, houses, stores – and people. The Heritage Society began photographing buildings back in 1984. These have been used for displays at fairs and meetings, published in books etc. Photos often have buildings in the background, so look carefully.
We have started to catalogue these pictures and are trying to visually “reconstruct” places like Main Street, Adolphustown. Our request has been part of a presentation to Napanee Council during Heritage Week (which was reported in the local newspapers) and will be a section of our new electronic newsletter entitled “Then and Now” or “Can You Help Us?”
This is an ongoing project which we hope will renew the older residents’ enthusiasm and intrigue the new residents.
Any photos and pictures of the general area with some aspect of primarily built heritage would be appreciated.
It seems that James Kinsey was granted UEL status, but so far I have been unable to find the requisite proofs.
James Kinsey was born in 1761in Bucks Co. PA to Joseph Kinsey and Hannah Yates. He married Mary Hunt, daughter of Thomas Hunt on Oct 15, 1788 at the Plumstead Quaker Meeting, in Bucks Co. I actually have their original marriage document which I found in the family bible brought to Canada by the family at the time of the American Revolution. I have conflicting information that they arrived in Canada about 1799 or 1802 and settled in the Newmarket area where James started one of the first mills in the area. His land title papers are apparently ‘missing.’
I found James’ name listed in one book noting that he was UEL, however I cannot find any confirmation of it – nor can I find his name on any other lists. James and Mary are my 4ggrandparents. Their daughter Tacy married Lincoln Wetherall (various spellings) who served for the Americans during the War of 1812.
However I have found information confirming that another of James and Mary’s daughters – Francis Fanny Kinsey had UEL status. She married into the Dillaine family.
I’m not sure if the fact that Tacy married Lincoln, who had fought against Canada in 1812 would have dismissed her right for UEL status as I know it did make her have to leave the Quaker church. Tacy and Lincoln are relatives ‘who lived but never died” as I can find no records of their deaths or burials either.
My Lundy ancestors also came to Newmarket in the very early 1800’s but were Quakers and I do not believe they qualify as UEL.
…Cheryl Stuart (nee Lundy) Cheryl.Stuart@gov.ab.ca