“Loyalist Trails” 2013-20: May 19, 2013

In this issue:
The Black Loyalists of Brindley Town (Part One of Two), by Stephen Davidson
The Great Bear Fight of the Beardsleys, by George McNeillie
Granting of Lands to Loyalists, by Ed Kipp
“At the Head of Lake Ontario” – Friday: Joseph Brant Museum
Branching Out Reports from Loyalist Gazette Fall 2012 Now Posted
Book Review: Prince Edward, Duke Of Kent, Father of the Canadian Crown, by Nathan Tidridge
Where in the World?
Loyalists and War of 1812: Geronimous and John Crysler
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post: John Chard, UE
      + Thanks and Query: John Fetterly Descendants


The Black Loyalists of Brindley Town (Part One of Two), by Stephen Davidson

In 1605, Mi’kmaq First Nations people watched as white men constructed a fur trading post at Port Royal on the Annapolis Basin. It was the first permanent French settlement on land that would one day comprise the country of Canada. Almost 180 years later, English speaking refugees from the American Revolution found sanctuary around the Annapolis Basin. Among those settlers were emancipated Africans. Brindley Town, their settlement, would become the second largest Black Loyalist community in Nova Scotia.

From 1783 to 1784, the British government transported Black Loyalists (along with white loyalist refugees) to Digby and Annapolis Royal (the English name for Port Royal). Rebel Americans had once enslaved these Africans in New York, South Carolina, Connecticut, New Jersey, Georgia, Rhode Island, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. While some had been house servants in the northern colonies, the vast majority had been plantation slaves in Virginia.

Brindley Town was initially settled by 76 Black Loyalist families — a total of 200 people. Their settlement was near Digby, a loyalist town at the mouth of the Annapolis Basin. The leader of the Black Loyalist settlement was Thomas Peters, a man who had served in the Black Pioneers during the revolution.

In military terminology, a pioneer was someone who cleared ground for encampments, dug outhouses, disposed of garbage, removed obstructions and provided any other engineering duties required by the army. The British government promised it would grant freedom to any Africans enslaved by rebel Americans if they would serve the crown for a year. For many Africans, enlisting in the Black Pioneers was their ticket to freedom. (Many would gladly have fought with the British army, but they were denied admission to both the regular army and loyalist regiments.)

Women were also members of the Black Pioneers. They fulfilled the role of camp followers, serving as cooks, nurses, laundresses, and tailors. Given that the Black Pioneers existed in one form or another throughout the seven years of the American Revolution, it is no surprise to find that a number of its members fell in love, married and had children. Consequently, some ships’ manifests list adherents to the Black Pioneers as young as a year old.

Sir Guy Carleton, the commander in chief of British forces in North America at the end of the revolution, was a great champion of the Black Loyalists. In a letter he wrote to Brigadier General Fox on October 21, 1783, he shared his hopes for the members of the Black Pioneers. “I recommend them to your protection and beg you will apply to Governor Parr, that in case they settle near any of the towns they may have a town lot as at Shelburne {i.e., Birchtown}, and about twenty acres in the vicinage granted them and if as farmers and at a distance, their grant may be extended to one hundred acres.”

But Carelton’s hopes for the Black Loyalists received little regard from the Nova Scotia government. It would take leaders from within the African community to seek equal treatment. One such man was Thomas Peters.

Most of the Africans who had settled in the Digby area were veterans of the Black Pioneers, so Peters was someone they knew and trusted. Due to the fact that his ship had to seek shelter in Bermuda to avoid a November hurricane, Peters did not arrive in Nova Scotia until May of 1784. Once he did, however, he began to deal with the problems that had been festering for the past year.

While white loyalists could look forward to receiving three years of provisions from the government, the Black Loyalists received only 80 days’ worth. If they wanted their provisions, the Africans had to work at building roads, a condition never placed on the white loyalists. Within two months of his arrival, Peters and a fellow Black Pioneer named Murphy Steel petitioned the Nova Scotia government, asking for the land grants that other loyalists had received. It responded by surveying one-acre town lots in Brindley Town, but there was great confusion over farming plots. Black Loyalists had to be relocated twice because of disputes over who had the right to settle on particular plots. In the meantime, the Africans fed themselves by fishing in the nearby Bay of Fundy and growing vegetables in small gardens.

Some white loyalists and British charities rallied to their cause, establishing a school by January of 1785. Methodist and Anglican churches sprang up within the Black Loyalist settlement. The infrastructure of community life was slowly beginnning to form, but without means to sustain themselves, the Black Loyalist settlers would be forced to abandon Brindley Town.

While Peters and Steele worked on behalf of the people of Brindley Town through petitions, Joseph Leonard provided another form of leadership. He was a school teacher and a lay preacher for the Anglican church. Given permission from the colonial bishop to read from the Bible and lead prayers, Leonard also held communion services, christened infants, and performed marriages. When Leonard asked the bishop to ordain him as a minister, he was refused and then replaced by another Black Loyalist teacher. Leonard was eventually reinstated, and taught the children of Brindley Town until the fall of 1791.

Frustrated by the government’s slow response to his petition, Thomas Peters decided to leave Brindley Town in July of 1785. Accompanied by other Black Pioneer veterans, he crossed the Bay of Fundy to the recently created colony of New Brunswick. In October he petitioned Thomas Carleton, the governor of New Brunswick and the brother of Guy Carleton, for farm land on the St. John River. Peters also represented 15 Black Loyalist families who wanted a school built for their children. However, the former Black Pioneer’s quest for justice was no more successful in New Brunswick than it had been in Brindley Town. It would take the action of abolitionists in England to change the destiny of Brindley Town’s settlers.

For the conclusion of the story of Brindley Town’s Black Loyalists, see next week’s edition of Loyalist Trails.

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

The Great Bear Fight of the Beardsleys © George McNeillie

The following account is abridged from the narration of C. Alfred Beardsley (“Cousin Al”) published in the newspaper, “Greater Los Angeles”, on July 28th, 1921.

“One mile below the town of Woodstock, N.B., a road runs back from the St. John River known as the ‘Beardsley Road’. Three miles back from the river the Bedell Brook crosses this road. The Beardsley Road was laid out on land granted to the reverend John Beardsley or his sons by the N.B. government. At the place where the brook crosses the road, John Davis Beardsley, Jr. and Ralph Dibblee Beardsley were clearing land for farms. With them was the youngest brother, Punderson Herbert, ‘a big awkward boy of sixteen.’ These young men were sons of John D. Beardsley, Sr. and grandsons of Parson John Beardsley.

“Their clearings were at this time but little holes in the forest and the road was but a blazed trail. John the oldest brother had this time a camp on his land, and here his elder children were born, though his home was subsequently at the ‘Grove Farm’ near the river. Ralph had built a house on his land, where he lived with his wife Eleanor and brother Punderson. Ralph was their first coming to his prime. He stood six feet in his stockings and weighed 196 lbs.

“One night in springtime a bear broke into the enclosure where they kept the sheep, killed one and dragged it away and buried it under the leaves. The remains were discovered by Ralph and ‘Pun’, who decided to watch for the bear.

“Late in the afternoon they repaired to the place. It was in a grove of sugar maples that had never known the woodsman’s axe. The young men found a tree that had been blown down by the wind. Behind this log they hid. Ralph was armed with an old flintlock army musket. It was bruised and battered but still serviceable. Pun had a new gun called a Fusee. It was among the first produced to discharge with a percussion cap and ‘Pun’ thought it the finest gun ever made. But it was a mere popgun beside the big musket.

“‘Pun’ was getting sleepy when a bear cub came sniffing through the trees. Pun’s eyes at once popped open, and his gun too was ready to pop, but his brother restrained him , saying ‘The old bear is not far away, and if it is a she-bear you will need to have your gun loaded.’ It proved to be a she bear and a big one. She came straight to the log. Pun took aim and pulled the trigger, but the cap exploded without discharging the gun. But the flintlock made no ‘flash in the pan’. It had been in the wild rush in the wheat-field at Waterloo. It roared out defiance, the bullet struck the bear in the forehead, making a wound which only served to infuriate the beast. Ralph clubbed the musket and met the bear at the log. At the first blow the stock was shivered in pieces, leaving the heavy gun barrel in his hands. Pun dropped his gun, picked up a big club and the fight was on. The bear, unable to cross the log, under the rain of blows aimed at her head, rose on her haunches and gave back blow for blow. Three times Pun was thrown headlong to the ground. Each time the bear got her hind paws upon the log she was beaten back. With a mighty sweep of her paw she at length reached Ralph’s head, bringing him to his knees. Then the bear cam over the log. Just what followed could never be clearly told. There was a whirlwind of flying clubs and paws that tore around under the trees and stirred up the dry leaves. At length a might blow from the musket barrel reached the bear’s nose and stunned her.

“At the first uproar Eleanor Beardsley ran with a pitchfork to her husband’s aid, and the brother John came running with an axe. They reached the place at the same time, but the bear was down and a blood bespattered man was beating out its brains. The club that had done such good service lay on the ground, and the musket barrel was so bent and twisted that it could not be straightened again. It was afterwards used as a poker at a stove fire-place.”

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

Granting of Lands to Loyalists, by Ed Kipp

During my research, I have come across a number of files relating to the granting of lands to Loyalists. I am in the process of transcribing these and posting to my blog. Readers of Loyalist Trails may be interested in these.

The first one is a document from King George III to Governors for Quebec, Lower Canada and Upper Canada dated July 16, 1783. It gives instructions for the granting of lands to Loyalist subjects late of the USA and to the non Commissioned Officers and private Men of our Forces who have been reduced.

Read Instructions to governors for Quebec, Lower Canada and Upper Canada.

…Ed Kipp

“At the Head of Lake Ontario” – Friday: Joseph Brant Museum

Meet Us at the Head of Lake Ontario – UELAC Dominion Conference, May 30 – June 2.

Those who take the local tour option, on Friday, May 31st, will be visiting the famous Joseph Brant home/museum. It has some interesting personal items that belonged to Brant.

The original Brant home was built around 1800 by the famous Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea). In 1798 Captain Brant was granted 3500 acres of land in this area for his military services to the Crown during the American Revolution. He died here in 1807 and the community of Wellington Square grew in this area. After his death, his wife, Catherine and his youngest son, Captain John Brant (Ahyouwaeghs) made this their home, from which there is a great view of Lake Ontario.

This current house is a replica of the original. It was built under the watch of the Minister of Transportation for Ontario, Thomas McQueston, of Hamilton. Construction began in 1937 and the home was opened to the public in 1942.

Joseph Brant was respected by the First Nations people as a Mohawk war chief and by Britain as a captain. He was a man of vision. Brant understood that his people faced irreversible changes after the Revolutionary War. He took action to protect their interests. The Five Nations, at that time, were granted 6 nautical miles on either side of the Grand River from its mouth to its source, called the Haldimand Tract.

Don’t miss this local conference trip to visit more of our Loyalist heritage and a historical treasure.

The conference is hosted by the Hamilton Branch and will take place in Burlington.

For conference information and registration, visit Meet us at the Head of Lake Ontario.

Branching Out Reports from Loyalist Gazette Fall 2012 Now Posted

The Branching Out reports published in each edition of the Loyalist Gazette provide a rich account of the Branch activities over the previous six to 12 months. When added to the Branch folder posted on the Dominion website, each report becomes part of much richer history to be used by members or future archivists and historians. The Loyalist Gazette Fall 2012 reports from Bay of Quinte, Calgary, Chilliwack, Col. John Butler (Niagara), Edmonton, Gov. Simcoe, Hamilton, Heritage, Kawartha, Kingston & District, Little Forks, Sir John Johnson Centennial, Thompson-Okanagan, and Toronto Branches, have now been posted. In a separate posting, the Bicentennial Branch has secured its History of Bicentennial Branch 1984-1993 as written by Margaret Lewis, UE.


Book Review: Prince Edward, Duke Of Kent, Father of the Canadian Crown, by Nathan Tidridge

As a Loyalist, I am certainly familiar with King George III. It was loyalty to him that cost my Loyalist colonial ancestors pretty well everything they possessed. I also know a fair bit about Queen Victoria. It was during her long reign that Canada emerged as a political entity. But what was there in between? Well, of course, there was Queen Victoria’s father, Prince Edward. What do we know about him?

A lot of us have visited Prince Edward Island (named after Edward in 1798) and I have a son and grandson in Prince Edward County so I go there often. But do we know much about the life of Prince Edward himself and his role in Canada’s history? It is that gap that Nathan Tidridge set out to clarify in his latest book Prince Edward, Duke Of Kent, Father Of The Canadian Crown. For me, when I discovered that on the cover of the book is a reproduction of a portrait commemorating Edward’s 1792 meeting with Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe in Newark during the first royal tour of Upper Canada, that is when it all began to fit together. That is Newark, now Niagara-on-the-Lake, next door to where my Loyalist ancestors settled and it all becomes familiar.

Prince Edward Augustus, Duke Of Kent and Strathearn was born in 1767 (at the site of what would become Buckingham Palace) and died in 1820. He was the fifth of fifteen children of King George III and Queen Charlotte. King George III inherited the throne in 1760. As Edward grew up, he was much influenced by the American Revolution. Edward was six when the Declaration Of Independence was issued and sixteen when the Treaty of Paris was signed.

As the fourth son, Edward was hardly likely to follow his father in the throne. In an effort to keep Edward away from the lifestyles of his older brothers, King George sent Edward to Geneva. When by 1789 Edward had accumulated large debts and fathered a child (mother died in childbirth) King George banished him to Gibraltar in 1790. The hot climate there accentuated Edward’s health problems and he pleaded with his father to move him. He would have preferred to return to the Royal Family in England but knowing that was not an option, Edward chose British North America. So in 1791, at age twenty-three, accompanied by his new friend Madame Julie de St. Laurent, Edward was off to Quebec. On December 26, 1791, not long after Edward’s arrival in Quebec, Lord Dorchester proclaimed the Constitution Act, resulting in the division of Upper and Lower Canada. Edward immediately began to play a prominent role in that new division.

Supported by extensive research and presented in an easy flowing writing style, Nathan Tidridge proceeds to cover the development of Canada and the important role played by Edward in that development. With brief absences ( in 1794 in the Caribbean and Martinique in military action against France and in 1798 back in England recovering from injuries suffered when his horse rolled on him) Edward spent eleven years in Canada.

I commend the book to you for your information and enjoyment. Further more, I look forward to hearing Mr. Tidridge’s presentation on the book at the Loyalist Gala Banquet at the Conference hosted by the Hamilton Branch in Burlington on Saturday June 1st.

…Colin Morley, UE

Where in the World?

Where are Doug and Nancy??

To participate, submit a photo of yourself in UELAC promotional gear at a place of some note and tell us where it is. If you are a member of a branch, please indicate that as well – send to Jennifer Childs.

Loyalists and the War of 1812

Thanks to those who have contributed to the slowly growing index of Loyalists and the War of 1812.

We have added a new entry for Geronimous and John Crysler thanks to Betty Fladager.

If you have a family ancestry which qualifies (see the heading of the page with entries), please submit to loyalist.trails@uelac.org. Our rich history continues to emerge through these family histories.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • John Matheson, Honorary President UELAC 1991-2003 and the Father of the Canadian Flag, has been honoured in Brockville with a street named after him: John Ross Matheson Way
  • Stories (Joel Stone, Ebenezer Hathaway & Thomas Smith) from the Simsbury Copper Mine, a prison for Loyalists during the American Revolution
  • One of the best ways to get a visceral sense of what life in the Revolutionary Era was like is to eat the foods that they – loyalist and rebel alike – ate. Recipes for potato soup, molasses bread and Jefferson’s Meringues.
  • Canine presence was quite widespread in the armies of the American Revolution. Newspaper advertisements reveal that dogs were common companions of British officers while also making it clear that these pets often found themselves unleashed.
  • In an on-line exhibit, the Archives of Ontario has an outline of the war of 1812, including event highlights, images and relevant documents. Topics include: Background of the War, POWs, Militia life, Important Figures and Places
  • Exbibit at the Toronto Reference Library entitled War Stories: Toronto and the War of 1812-14 from now until June 22. The display has letters, documents, maps, art and artifacts that tell a very personal, first-hand account of the war (recommended by Nancy Conn)
  • Books: 1812 – A Guide to the War and Its Legacy has 106 pages of history of the conflict and another 135 pages describing tours of battle sites, monuments, plaques, historic sites and vistas along both sides of the so-called “undefended” border.
  • Op-Ed: Victoria Day is a uniquely Canadian holiday – read the history around the day. Then take a look at Queen Victoria’s Crown and a bit about its history (courtesy of Grand River Branch’s website).
  • Scottish? Love the pipes? Bagpiper finds extremely rare instrument at auction near Ottawa.

Last Post: John Chard, UE

Suddenly at the Kingston General Hospital on Friday May 17th, 2013, in his 91st year. Son of the late Clarence and Rita Chard. Predeceased by his brother Richard Chard. Friends are invited to attend a visitation at the STIRLING FUNERAL CHAPEL 87 James St., Stirling (613-395-2424) on Thursday May 23rd, 2013 from 12noon – 2p.m. with a service to follow in the chapel at 2p.m. Rev. Nancy Beale officiating. Interment Stirling Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations to St. Johns Anglican Church or a Charity of your Choice would be appreciated. On line condolences at www.rushnellfamilyservices.com.

It is with deep sadness that I note the passing of E. John Chard UE, Past Dominion President of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada (UELAC). John was instrumental in the formation of over fifteen UELAC Branches across Canada, in resurrecting and developing thy Loyalist Gazette after some thirty years absence, and staffing and managing Dominion Office for many years.

For more about John, who preferred to be a “quiet” donor and supporter, and his contributions, see: John Chard, UE, recipient of the 2009 Dorchester Award and John Chard, UE, inducted into Bay of Quinte Branch Loyal Americans Hall of Honour.

…Bob McBride


Thanks and Query: John Fetterly Descendants

John Fetterly, UE, 1751-1810, was a son of Philip Fetterty of Watervliet, Albany and brother of Peter Fetterly, UE.

Two years ago, I began a quest of curiousity to discover why John Fetterly was not listed as a Loyalist. He and his family seemed to fit in nicely with other Loyalists. His sons and daughters married into well known Loyalist families and they all lived in the same area. With many thanks to many people including Gavin Watt, Doug Grant, Lynne Cook and Richard Ripley (family researcher), John has now regained his rightful position as a bonafide Loyalist. Richard found a petition from John Fetterly, dated January 27, 1807 requesting that his name be inserted on the UE list based due to “…his attachment to the British Government and protecting and feeding British scouts that came into that part of the country from Canada, he was sent to Albany Gaol by the rebels where he suffered a tedious imprisonment in Irons and the loss of a grate part of his property.” This petition was sworn to as true by Otto Francis UE and John Crysler UE. It was approved by Sir Francis Gore, Lt. Governor, March 17, 1807 and entered in Land Book G page 296.

Proving John Fetterly was a Loyalist was easier than proving I was a direct descendent. My grandfather, John Taylor Fetterly, born Mar 4, 1885 in Montreal, was the son of William Taylor Fetterly and Catherine Crawford, William’s 2nd wife married Mar 8, 1881. William’s first marriage to Sarah Abrams is well documented. Unfortunately, his second marriage information was lost.It took a lot of research and ordering of records from Statistics Manitoba to prove that my grandfather and his sister, Mina born Feb 18, 1883 in Cornwall were raised by their half brother, William Rudolph Fetterly and brought to Manitoba at a young age. A third sibling, Austen Nicolas Fetterly, called Oscar, was raised by half sister Rebecca Gallinger on Barnhart Island. Bringing this information together was an epiphany. We exist and we have direct ties to John Fetterly, UE.

A question remains: What happened to William Taylor Fetterly and wife Catherine (Katy) Crawford after the birth of Austen and prior to the census of 1891? If you have any information, please contact me. Thank you.

Judy McCallister