“Loyalist Trails” 2014-12: March 23, 2014

In this issue:
Rescued by Lord Rawdon, by Stephen Davidson
Loyalist Quarterly by Paul Bunnell: March issue available
Adolphustown Loyalist Monument Restoration
Visit Fairfield Museum & Battle of the Thames: Hamilton Branch Bus
Where in the World?
Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University
Loyalist Descendants at Juno Beach and the Battle of Normandy
From the Twittersphere and Beyond


Rescued by Lord Rawdon, by Stephen Davidson

A great example of the many unexpected twists and turns in loyalist history can be found in the settlers of Nova Scotia’s Rawdon Township. They were South Carolina loyalists of Scottish descent who were rescued by an Irish general who in turn would one day become the governor-general of India. Here are some of their stories.

The long journey from South Carolina to Nova Scotia began with the events swirling around the fortified village of Ninety-Six in the spring of 1781. One thousand rebel troops had been laying siege to Star Fort that was sheltering 550 local loyalists from May 22 to June 18th. Just when it looked as if the Continental Army might be victorious, the rebels were driven off by Lord Rawdon and 2,000 members of the Volunteers of Ireland (the 2nd American Regiment).

Just 26 years old when he became the saviour of Ninety-Six’s loyalists, Francis Edward Rawdon was a native of Ireland’s County Down. His involvement in the American Revolution began early; he was one of the British soldiers who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill. After his victory at Ninety-six, military strategy required Rawdon to evacuate loyalists from the region, give up the long-defended fort, and retire to Charleston on the Atlantic coast.

A month later, Rawdon’s health compelled him to leave South Carolina. The loyalists that he had rescued from certain death –and members of his 2nd Regiment– stayed in Charleston for the next year, waiting for a British victory that never came. In July of 1782, British troops and loyalists began to evacuate Savannah; Charleston’s supporters of the crown left their sanctuary later that fall.

The loyalists from the Ninety-Six district boarded two transport ships, the Free Briton and the John and Bella on October 22nd. These 163 men, 133 women, 121 children, and 53 free blacks arrived in Halifax in early November. By February, twenty-eight South Carolina refugee families (and 27 bachelors) moved forty miles north of the Nova Scotia capital to their future settlement. In time, they named their new community Rawdon in honour of the officer who had saved their lives in South Carolina.

Besides the common bond forged from their wartime adventures, these loyalists also had a common ethnic background and immigrant experience. They were all Ulster Scots (Scots put in the northern counties in the hope of “protestantizing” Ireland) who, 25 years before the revolution, had become farmers in the backcountry of South Carolina. The transcripts of the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists (RCLSAL) shed light on the individual stories of some of those who made Rawdon, Nova Scotia their new home.

Adam Fralick, who described himself as a native of South Carolina, took up arms for the loyalist cause in the early years of the revolution. Because he would not serve the patriots, his neighbours fined him, imprisoned him for six weeks, and finally released him on the condition that he drive a wagon for them for ten days. After abandoning his 100-acre farm and £500 worth of livestock, Fralick became an officer in the loyalist militia in Charleston. A neighbour, Jacob/John Withrow, testified on Fralick’s behalf at the RCLSAL, and then, at the next day’s hearings, told his own story.

Withrow was another Ninety-Six settler who was imprisoned by South Carolina rebels; upon his release he fled to St. Augustine, sailed to Charleston, and then served there for the remainder of the war. Withrow’s father had been part of Rawdon’s retreat from Ninety-Six, but he died before the loyalist evacuation in the fall of 1782. As the oldest son, Withrow stood to inherit land, livestock, and tools, but they went to his two brothers who remained in South Carolina. He, like his fellow refugees in Rawdon, would have to begin all over again.

John Murphy was an Irishman who had initially settled in Georgia in 1773. He and his wife later acquired a 100-acre farm in the Ninety-Six district. Murphy bitterly recalled that rebels seized three of his “good riding horses”, claiming that they were “too good for a Tory”. He later joined the British forces in Charleston, serving in the quarter-master’s department as a carpenter.

Another Irish loyalist who settled in Rawdon was James Nickels. He joined a loyal militia in 1775 and, four years later, enlisted in the British army at Savannah. Rebels seized his 200-acre farm, five horses, 40 hogs and sheep, and 28 cattle. Nickel’s witness, Christopher Nealy, recalled that the loyalist had been “in a situation to live comfortably.”

Nealy was born in America and had just settled in the Ninety-Six district when the “troubles broke out”. After 1775, he sought sanctuary among the Cherokees. Thinking it was safe to return a year later, he was attacked by a party of rebels and “shot through the body with two balls,{and}left for dead in the spot.” It took Nealy nine months to recover from his wounds. By 1779, he was once again able to serve his king, raising a militia of 600 loyalists. Rebels eventually imprisoned Nealy and convicted him of treason. He was sentenced to die within 12 days. Salvation came in the form of South Carolina’s Governor John Rutledge who, after arriving on the scene, discharged Nealy on £10,000 bail and the promise not to return to his family for the remainder of the war.

However, a year later, Nealy snuck back to Ninety-Six, staying there until the British captured Charleston. He became a major in a militia in 1780, and then served under Col. Ferguson until the end of the war. Instead of heading for Nova Scotia with other South Carolina refugees, Nealy and his family went to St. Augustine, Florida and then the Bahamas. Although he had journeyed to Halifax to seek compensation, Nealy planned to settle in Abacos Islands, far from the refugee village of Rawdon where his South Carolina friends had decided to make their homes.

John Sanderson proudly recounted that he had been a member of a company of dragoons in the Longland Militia. His officers recommend him “as a gallant soldier, honest man and good subject.” After Lord Rawdon’s regiment left Fort Ninety-Six, the local rebels sent Mrs. Sanderson packing and seized the loyalist’s property that included livestock, spun linen and a weaving loom.

Sanderson’s testimony gives an idea of how difficult it was to be a pioneer in Nova Scotia’s Rawdon Hills. There was “at the time of their first settling no communication between Rawdon and Windsor”, the nearest town. The South Carolina loyalists had to secure provisions for half a year at a time, load them onto boats for a ten mile journey, and then carry them on their backs seven miles into the woods.

Next week’s Loyalist Trails will tell the remaining stories of the loyalists who served under Lord Rawdon during the American Revolution.

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

Editor’s Correction

The hyperlink was missing from the footnote of Stephen’s previous article, “Frontline Reporting in Loyalist Newspapers: 1780.”

To read more loyalist newspapers, see “Extracts from American Newspapers Relating to New Jersey” found at archive.org. Alternatively, do a query in their search box for: “Extracts from American Newspapers Relating to New Jersey,” and that should bring you to the same results page – happy hunting!

Loyalist Quarterly by Paul Bunnell: March issue available

The latest issue of the only U.S. journal devoted to Loyalist studies contains, among others, these topics:

– UELAC Conference: A Centennial Celebration: 1914 – UELAC – 2014

– New Loyalist Book: Loyalist Rebellion in New Brunswick

– Loyalist Talk at Falmouth Genealogical Society

– British, German and Loyalists’ Captives in America

– Delaware Revolutionary War Records (Loyalists)

– Descendants of John Edwards

– Loyalists Capture of the Bahamas (1783)

– Loyalists & Patriots Yearly Gathering

– The Quaker-Loyalist Migration to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in 1783

– What is a Female Loyalist?

More information including subscription details at Paul J. Bunnell’s website.

Paul J. Bunnell, UE, Editor/Author

Adolphustown Loyalist Monument Restoration

The Bay of Quinte Branch and the Loyalist Cultural Centre in Adolphustown have undertaken the restoration of the UEL Monument there. UELAC is helping to fund the project as a 2014 Centennial project. The work will be done this year.

Preliminary planning was underway to host a major dedication event this July, but with the relatively short notice it was discovered than many who were being asked to participate were already committed elsewhere. As a result the dedication is now planned for summer of 2015.

Make a note to fit it in your calendar once a date is available.

Visit Fairfield Museum & Battle of the Thames: Hamilton Branch Bus

Fairfield Museum – Moravian Home – Thamesville

David Zeisberger, a Moravian missionary, brought 150 Delaware First Nations to the Thamesville area in 1792 as they fled persecution in the United States. They settled on the north shore of the Thames River and called their settlement “New Fairfield”. Zeisberger spent 30 years teaching and practicing Christianity amongst the Delaware people. This eventually took the form of a Methodist Church settlement.

As the people fled from the Battle of the Thames, where Tecumseh lost his life, they went through New Fairfield. The Americans pursued them, on their way to Burlington Heights. The Moravian missionaries took the Americans in, cleaned up their battle wounds and gave them food and a bed. These Kentucky Mounted Riflemen eventually found some papers that were left behind by General Proctor of Fort Amherstburg.

With the discovery of the papers, the Americans told the Moravians that they were not trusted and that they would be burning down their homes so to take what they could carry. The people took what they could and watched as their church and school were set aflame first.

The little museum at this location has artifacts related to the Moravian brothers and the Delaware First Nations. See the Moravian home.

Battle of the Thames – The Death of Tecumseh

Visit the actual battlefield where Tecumseh died just over 200 years ago. The date was October 5th 1813. It is here that the Kentucky Mounted Riflemen defeated the British, the Caldwell Rangers and the First Nations along with Shawnee Chief Tecumseh.

Nearby is the original monument to Chief Tecumseh, one of our early heroes.. Along the path are new stories and pictures that take the reader through the history that led up to this battle. Visit the monument.

Hamilton Branch Centennial Celebration Bus Trip

Take a ride into early Delaware Nations, Black History, War of 1812 and Loyalist settlements on July 25-26 with the Hamilton Branch – Read the description for details and reservation information. Questions to glohward@shaw.ca or ruth.nicholson@sympatico.ca.

…Ruth Nicholson, UE, Hamilton Branch

Where in the World?

Where are Pat, Gerry, Barb and Albert?

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.

Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University

As Chair of the Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University, I received a telephone call from a Brooklyn, NY research company, hired by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) to do research for the television series Finding Your Roots II hosted by Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. The research company wanted a local person to do research about the lives of a few specific Loyalist families who settled along the Niagara River after the American Revolution. I agreed to help with the research at no charge but asked for acknowledgement in the program credits for the Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University and they agreed. We were able to find a lot of information about the families in the Loyalist Collection at Brock University and in Special Collections at Brock University. We sold them copies of our publication An Annotated Nominal Roll of Butler’s Rangers 1778 — 1784 by Wm. A. Smy OMM CD UE and a copy of the Colonel John Butler (Niagara) Branch UELAC book Loyalists & Early Settlers Along the Niagara River Parkway by Gail Woodruff UE. They were delighted with the information that we were able to provide.

If you would like to donate to the Loyalist Collection at Brock University or find more information about the collection visit our website at www.brockloyalisthistorycollection.ca.

You can view previous episodes of “Finding Your Roots” here.

…Rod Craig, Col John Butler Branch

Loyalist Descendants at Juno Beach and the Battle of Normandy

A ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy will be held at the Juno Beach Centre on June 6, 2014. Some information is available at the June Beach Centre website.

Undoubtedly many people of Loyalist descent participated in the invasion that freed Europe. Anne Redish UE of Kingston Branch notes “I have a deceased UEL relative who will have a brick in the wall. I wonder if some who are attending might be themselves of Loyalist descent and would be willing to report back?” Please reply to the editor.

A writeup about Loyalist descendants who participated at Juno Beach and/or the Battle of Normandy in 1944 would be welcomed a new section in our Making the Loyalists space.

Guidelines: A paragraph or two about the Loyalist ancestor, a lineage from Loyalist to descendant (just names of husband and wife in each generation) and the remainder about the WWII participant. If information is known about their activities around the time of the invasion, that should be a focus. Suggested length 600-800 words, but can be shorter or longer. Submit to the editor.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond