“Loyalist Trails” 2014-09: March 2, 2014

In this issue:
Frontline Reporting in Loyalist Newspapers: 1777, by Stephen Davidson
2014 Annual UELAC Conference: Saturday Daytime Program
Top 10 American Loyalist Officers
Where in the World are Suzanne and Betsy Davidson?
Loyalists and War of 1812: Antonie Westbrook and Sons
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Last Post: Rosemary Ann Cutler (nee Ruffing), RN, UE
Last Post: Florine Merritt, UE


Frontline Reporting in Loyalist Newspapers: 1777, by Stephen Davidson

A history buff would never claim that something was “old as yesterday’s news”. Newspapers from the past are too much of a treasure-trove; they are snapshots of events forever frozen in time. The loyalist newspapers that were published during the American Revolution are an invaluable means of looking back at the past. The descriptions of battles are fresh; the final results of the revolution are unknown. Loyalist reporting of the revolution also allows us to consider what impact war news must have had on its 18th century readers. Did a victory encourage someone to enlist on the side of the crown? Did a defeat bring a chill to women whose husbands and sons were on the frontlines? Here are just some of the stories that were published by loyalist newspapers in 1777, featuring events in New Jersey.

The February 10th issue of the New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury had a mixture of news about rebel raids, British troop actions, and even a human interest story. “There are several marauding Parties of the Rebels scattered about the Jersies, who rob and plunder the poor Inhabitants of whatever they can find; and they who venture to complain, are treated only with more Cruelty, under the Pretence of being Tories.”

While loyalist readers commiserated with others’ hardships, they could also take cheer from recent military victories: “On Saturday the 1st Instant, a smart Skirmish happened at Springfield in New Jersey, between a Party of near 4000 Rebels, under the Command of Sullivan, and the 42d Regiment (the famous and gallant Highlanders) under Sir William Erskine. The Rebels were attempting to possess a Hill, which would have given them a considerable Advantage. Sir William, perceiving, their Design, directed his Highlanders to dispute the Ground. They advanced with their usual Ardor and Intrepidity upon the Enemy, notwithstanding the great Disparity of their Numbers, and came instantly to close Quarters with them. The Spirit of these Heroes was not to be matched by Rebels; and, accordingly, they soon gave up the Point, and retired with the utmost Precipitation, leaving behind them above Two hundred and Fifty Men killed upon the spot…”

Then there was the happy conclusion to the captivity of the wife of Sir John Johnson, a New York loyalist. “Lady Johnson, who has long been detained among the Rebels in the Northern Part of this Province, and treated by them with the most unmanly Meaness of Incivility, escaped from them within the Course of the last Week through the Jersies to this City. This Lady’s Spirit and Conduct, in a most trying Situation, do her the highest Honor. Unawed by the barbarous Threats of the Rebels, repeatedly made to her Person and Family, she encountered every Danger, and, with a Firmness of Mind which despised all Difficulties, effected her Escape through the Woods and Wilds to Powles’s Hook, where she was met by Sir John Johnson, and safely conducted to Town.”

Persecution of New Jersey loyalists continued throughout 1777. The July 6th issue of The Pennsylvania Packet reported on the rebel treatment of three women whose husbands had fled to New York six months previously.

“The committee of Newark ordered the Wood to be cut off their Land, their Grass and Hay to be destroyed, and their Persons insulted, and they were not permitted to remain in the Province longer than Thursday … and their Effects secured by Order of their titular Governor William Livingston. To expostulate was needless, as the Guards told the Women if they refused to obey, violence would be used. The Cries of Mothers, children and Slaves, obliged to leave their Homes, for differing in Sentiment from their Neighbours, would have excited Pity in the Breast of any but Savages. The Mandate must be obeyed. The Wife of Mr. Thomas Longworth having two young Children to take Care of was favoured with a Straw Bed. They all arrived here last Sunday Week.”

“A Party of Rebel Light Horse went to the House of Capt. Thomas Crowell, of Shrewsbury, in New Jersey, last Tuesday, and robbed him of all his Cattle, Sheep, Hogs and Horses; and told Mrs. Crowell, as soon as they had disposed of what they then took, they intended to return and carry off all her Household Furniture, and then dispose of her House and Plantation at public sale.”

In August, the New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury reported that “A poor Farmer, named Andrew Innis, was the Week before last, hanged by order of one of the Rebel Generals, near his own House at Second River, on Suspicion of being privy to the Desertion of some of their Soldiers, as they passed that Way on their Rout to the Southard.”

While times were trying on shore, a victory at sea might have encouraged the newspaper’s readers as they perused the September first edition. “{On} Wednesday arrived here from Tobago, the Ship Catharine, John Freeman, Master, laden with Rum and Sugar; she was on {August 10th} taken by a Rebel Privateer Sloop called the Baltimore Hero, commanded by one Hasey, who put on board the Ship one Lieutenant, a Prize-Master, and three Hands. They kept the Possession of her nine Days; but in the Night of the 22d past, Captain Freeman, being assisted by the Hands left on board belonging to the Ship, resumed the Command, and brought her safe into his destined Port.”

As far as the loyalist press was concerned, 1777 was ending on a high note. Victory over the rebels seemed to be foregone conclusion. Here’s what readers found in the pages of the December first New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury:

“By Accounts from Philadelphia as late as last Wednesday, we learn, That since the Reduction of Mud Island and Red Bank, the Face of Affairs are entirely changed, the New Levies go on fast, Provisions plenty, the British Army under the Command of his Excellency Sir William Howe, in Motion to attack Washington, who was encamped at a Place called White Marsh…about 16 Miles N. W. of Philadelphia, with about 20,000 Men; that Lord Cornwallis was at a Place called HaddenField, in New Jersey… about 7 Miles East of the Delaware, with about 6000 Men, and extended his Lines to Moore’s Town, which is near 4 Miles; that he is watched by Mr. Green, and a Body of the Militia, but we hope his Lordship will soon give a good Account of him.”

Such optimism did not die easily. Next week, we’ll review the events of 1779 as recorded in the loyalist newspapers of the rebelling thirteen colonies.

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

2014 Annual UELAC Conference: Saturday Daytime Program

The UELAC Centennial Celebration 1914 – 2014 will be hosted by Toronto Branch at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel, Toronto on June 5-8, 2014, See conference details.

Saturday June 7th, Daytime Program

Saturday will be the AGM in the Mountbatten ballroom. We all can vote so make sure yours is counted!

In the afternoon the Dominion Council meeting is held after lunch. Lots of great places in the neighbourhood to find lunch on your own! We`ll have a list in our Conference book.

If you are not attending the Council meeting how about a guided walking tour with Richard Fiennes-Clinton of Muddy York Walking Tours?! He’ll take us through the Old Town District going into detail of the Loyalists who came to the provincial capital of York, fairly early on. The walk will be about 2 hours in length so bring good walking shoes.

The UELAC, Toronto Branch library, suite 300 – 40 Scollard St. will also be available to you on Saturday from 1pm-4pm (also open to you Thursday from 10am-4pm). It’s a 15 minute walk up Yonge St. or a short subway ride to Bloor St. subway.

…Martha Hemphill UE, Conference Chair, Toronto Branch

Top 10 American Loyalist Officers

Who would you include in your list of the top ten Loyalist Officers? I would probably have a hard time coming up with ten names and then I would have little to go on to compare them. One that comes to mind immediately, simply because I belong to the UELAC branch names after him – John Graves Simcoe who commanded the Queen’s Rangers. Some have said that the Queen’s Rangers was the best fighting unit on either side in the Rev War.

Others who spring to mind would Joseph Brant, Sir John Johnson, John Butler, Edward Jessup, and so on.

The Journal of The American Revolution recently published an article by Gene Procknow entitled “Top 10 American Loyalist Officers.” His first choice really surprised me, but his list of the top ten includes a paragraph or two about each. If you read, be sure to scroll down and check out the comments. Read the article here.


Where in the World?

Where are Suzanne and Betsy Davidson?

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 Antonie Westbrook and sons John and Hagge thanks to Rev. Charlotte Moore, Chaplain, Hamilton Branch.

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

  • Chilliwack Branch welcomes Brad Keller UE – a descendant of Christian Kellar who emigrated in 1709 from the Palatine to the Colony of New York. His descendant Frederick Kellar, a Loyalist, served in Roger’s Rangers and later settled in Fredericksburg
  • 232 Years Today 27 Feb, 1782: The House of Commons of Great Britain votes against further war in America.
  • Bicentennial of Local Battles that Nearly Changed the Course of the War – Battles and Legends Featured at Oswego War of 1812 Symposium on weekend of April 5-6

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
– Camp Jr., Abiathar – from Elizabeth Crouch
– Condon, Thomas – volunteer Sandra McNamara
– Culver, Jabez & Timothy – from Catherine Thompson
– Johnson, Lt. Brant and daughters Jemima, Mary and Sarah – from Bev and Rod Craig
– McMicking, Thomas – volunteer Sandra McNamara

Please help us build the directory by contributing more information for it. Contact loyalist.trails@uelac.org for instructions and guidance.

Last Post: Rosemary Ann Cutler (nee Ruffing), RN, UE

1925-2014 Passed away peacefully at Joseph Brant Hospital, Burlington on Monday, February 24, 2014. Wife of Bob Cutler, sharing 63 years together. Rosemary loved and cherished her four daughters, Laurie VanHeck (Tom), Holly Canham (Mike), Shelley Forsyth (Tim) and Cathy Baker. She took great interest in the lives of her grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She will be missed by her twin sister Frances Harold and her husband Ken. Rosemary was a sister-in-law and friend to Kay Cutler and Marlene and Pierre Demarque and leaves several nieces and nephews. Rosemary and Frances upon completing high school both entered St. Joseph’s School of Nursing in Hamilton, graduating in 1946. Rosemary served there and at the Juravinski Cancer Centre, retiring in 1984.

Rosemary was a proud descendant of United Empire Loyalists, many of whom were from the founding families of Hamilton. She and Bob researched and compiled much of the history of their families. Rosemary served as secretary for Hamilton Branch UELAC for many years.

A Funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Burlington, on Friday, February 28, 2014. Cremation to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Carpenter Hospice. www.smithsfh.com

…Martha Hemphill, UE, Hamilton Branch

Last Post: Florine Merritt, UE

Long-time Bicentennial Branch member, Florine Merritt UE, died February 27, 2014. Florine rarely missed a branch meeting and appreciated the many speakers and activities over the years. She often helped with the organization of the annual September luncheon. Florine is survived by 2 sisters-in-law plus numerous nieces and nephews; she was predeceased by 7 siblings including her sister, Muriel Boggs UE, who was also a branch member. Florine and Muriel are descended from Essex County loyalist Leonhard Kratz. Florine was very active in the community and was a member of several organizations including: Cottam United Church, Cottam U.C.W, The Kingsville-Gosfield South Heritage Society, The Kingsville Women’s Institute and Ruthven Rebekah Lodge #178.

…Margie Luffman, UE, Bicentennial Branch