“Loyalist Trails” 2014-14: April 6, 2014
In this issue:
– Loyalist Great-Grandfathers of Confederation, Part 1 – by Stephen Davidson
– FAQ for 2014 Annual UELAC Conference, Thursday, June 5
– Ontario Honours UELAC Volunteers
– TV Documentary: A Desert Between Us and Them
– Where in the World can Peter Johnson be?
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
– Additions to the Loyalist Directory
– New Arrival: Dante Peter Fiorentino has many Loyalist genes
– Last Post: Gideon Charles Silverthorn
+ William Wood Family
It is generally accepted by most Canadian historians that there were 36 Fathers of Confederation who gathered at one or all of the constitutional conferences held in Charlottetown, Quebec City and London between 1864 and 1866. Some would also allow the inclusion of British Columbia’s Amor De Cosmos and Newfoundland’s Joseph Smallwood among that number. If we can accept the total of 38 Fathers of Confederaton, then we can also point out the fact that eight of them are known to have loyalists among their ancestors. It’s time we meet the loyalist “great-grandfathers” of Confederation. (A note to readers in Ontario and Quebec: none of your Fathers of Confederation had loyalist ancestors.)
It may surprise some to realize that there are so few loyalist descendants among the Fathers of Confederation. After all, it had only been 80 years since the loyalist refugees arrived by the tens of thousands in the territory that now comprises Canada. Why didn’t their descendants dominate the discussions surrounding Confederation?
The simple fact of the matter is that British North America continued to experience wave after wave of immigration in the decades following the great flood of loyalist settlers. The Irish famine victims, the Scots, and Brits hoping to make a better life for themselves streamed into Canada during the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign. They quickly outnumbered loyalist descendants in Upper Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. No wonder these later immigrants’ children made up 78% of the Fathers of Confederation. Putting genealogical surprise to one side, then, let us consider those national founders who had loyalist ancestors in their family trees.
Robert Duncan Wilmot was one of New Brunswick’s representatives at the 1866 London Conference. His grandparents were Lemuel Wilmot and Elizabeth Street, loyalists from New York. After serving as a captain in the Loyal American Regiment, Lemuel settled in Fredericton, New Brunswick. There his five sons, Malcolm, Samuel, John, Allen and William, married loyalists’ daughters and “enjoyed the business advantages which membership in that group conferred”.
Because John and Samuel stayed on their father’s farm and helped him work the land after they could have struck out on their own, Lemuel willed them land in Connecticut to which he still laid claim. Succeeding generations of Wilmots had among their number a member of the provincial legislature, a leader of the Liberal party, and a lieutenant-governor as well as a Sunday School leader.
Robert Duncan Wilmot, a grandson of Lemuel, was involved in the New Brunswick’s lumbering and shipping business before he went into politics. Initially an anti-confederate, Wilmot came to see the wisdom of a federal union and backed the creation of the new dominion. In 1867, this loyalist’s grandson became one of the country’s first senators.
John Hamilton Gray’s father had immigrated from Scotland to Virginia in 1771. After serving in a loyalist corps, the senior Gray settled in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Four years later, Lieutenant Governor Edmund Fanning invited Gray to Prince Edward Island where he held several important official functions. By the time John was born in 1812, his family was firmly established within the ruling upper class of the Island. He pursued a military career, serving in India and South Africa. In 1858, he became a member of the legislature, and within five years was the premier of PEI. Gray eventually supported the confederation of British North America’s colonies, but the majority of his cabinet disagreed with him. Prince Edward Island did not join Canada until 1873, fourteen years before Gray died.
Strangely enough another Father of Confederation was also named John Hamilton Gray and also had a loyalist ancestor. William Gray was a native of Boston who settled in Halifax, Nova Scotia following the American Revolution. Nothing else is known about Gray, but his grandson John Hamilton became a lawyer in New Brunswick. He participated in the Charlottetown Conference, and became one of the new Dominion’s first Members of Parliament for New Brunswick. Gray holds the distinction of being the only Father of Confederation buried west of Ontario.
Charles Fisher was another New Brunswick Father of Confederation. His grandfather, Lewis Fisher, served with the New Jersey Volunteers (sometimes referred to as Skinner’s Greens) during the American Revolution. Just weeks after enlisting, rebels captured Lewis with 16 others and imprisoned him for almost two years. After breaking out of jail, he served on Staten Island. There his wife Mary gave birth to their three oldest children, including a son who would become the father of Charles Fisher. Little Peter was only 16 months old when his family left New York on the Esther; the Fishers finally settled in what was to become Fredericton, New Brunswick by October of 1783.
In one of the most famous of loyalist memoirs, Charles Fisher’s Aunt Mary recounted what that first winter was like. “Many women and children, and some of the men, died from cold and exposure. Graves were dug with axes and shovels near the spot where our party had landed, and there in stormy winter weather our loved ones were buried.”
Given the impression that their exodus made on the Fisher family, it is little wonder that Peter Fisher became one of New Brunswick’s first historians. His son Charles was one of the first graduates of what is now the University of New Brunswick. Within four years, young Charles was a member of the province’s legislature. By 1854, he had become the premier; in 1867, he was the first to represent his New Brunswick constituency in the House of Commons in Ottawa.
Although he was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Edward Barron Chandler represented New Brunswick at the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences. His grandfather, Colonel Joshua Chandler, had been a member of the Connecticut legislature before the American Revolution took his fortune and banished him to Nova Scotia. After settling in Annapolis Royal, Chandler the loyalist unsuccessfuly sought compensation in England. He died of exposure after the ship taking him to the compensation hearings in Saint John, New Brunswick wrecked along the cold Bay of Fundy shore. His son Charles Chandler resettled in Cumberland County where he became its sheriff.
Born 13 years after his loyalist grandfather’s tragic death, Edward Barron Chandler studied law and later moved to New Brunswick. Like Joseph Howe, another loyalist’s son, Chandler was a great believer in the railway. Little wonder then, that the construction of the Inter-Colonial Railway became one of the conditions for the Maritimes to enter Confederation. In 1878, Chandler became the lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick.
Return next week for more stories of the loyalist Great-Grandfathers of Confederation.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
The “UELAC Centennial Celebration 1914 — UELAC 2014” will be hosted by Toronto Branch at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel, Toronto on June 5-8, 2014, See conference details.
Thursday June 5th, Program
On Thursday, we’ll all be settling into the Eaton Chelsea. During the afternoon the Membership Meeting and the Genealogists meeting will be held in the Rossetti Room on the third floor.
In the Windsor Room, 2nd floor, after you register stop in to talk with Zig Misiak about his books which will be on sale. Jennifer deBruin will also be on hand to promote and sell her book Shadows in the Tree.
After dinner join us in the Mountbatten Ballroom, 2nd floor, for the Welcome Reception (cash bar). We’ll start off with words of greeting from our President Bonnie Schepers. We are very excited that Peter C. Newman will tell us of his Loyalist research in preparation of his new book entitled Hostages of Fortune: The Vanguard of a Great Nation. It will be available this fall.
Fred Hayward will launch Loyally Yours, a compilation of the history of the UELAC. Enjoy the evening! Renew acquaintances and make some new!
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve had a few questions raised that you may have too!
1. Registration fee
– It is included in the total package price
– If you are attending more than one event please include the registration fee
2. Eaton Chelsea Hotel Rooms
– We have increased the number of rooms once again. If you can not get the size of room (one bed or two) you wish via the internet link please call them at the toll free number.
3. Order of dress
– For any of the events costumes are welcome. There will be no formal costume parade.
– For the Celebration Gala on Saturday night Business Attire is suitable
We look forward to to seeing you there!
…Martha Hemphill, UE, Conference Chair, Toronto Branch
With more appropriate spring weather arriving daily, Ontario proclaimed that “volunteers are the backbone and social fabric of a community.” Clearly it is the volunteer service of our members, especially at the local level, that enables the UELAC to achieve the goals stated in our Mission Statement. At least three branches recently received word from the Ontario Honours and Awards Secretariat that their nominees will be recognized at special presentation ceremonies held throughout the province in April. Each nominee will receive a pin and a certificate in recognition of their years of commitment and dedication as a volunteer.
Grand River Branch honoured Ellen Tree and Bill Terry for 20 years; Marilyn Branch and Marilyn for 15 years; and Sue Hines and David Hill Morrison for 10 years. Hamilton Branch nominated Ruth Nicholson, Marilyn Hardsand and Fred Hayward for 15 years; Colin Morley for 10 years; Pat Blackburn, Doug and Sharon Coppins for 5 years. Gov. Simcoe Branch showed appreciation for Donald Booth’s activities this way. Other branches express appreciation for the commitment of members with less public fanfare at annual general meetings. The efforts of so many volunteers are greatly appreciated.
Back in January of 2013 we first heard about the release of a documentary titled A Desert Between Us and Them: Raiders, Traitors and Refugees in the War of 1812. For those who have not yet seen it you are encouraged to tune in to TVO April 14, 21 and 28 at 7:00 p.m. for the three episode version. The film is also available for purchase through the Ontario Visual Heritage Project. Congratulations to London and Western Ontario Branch UELAC member Bob Tordiff UE on his film debut as American brigadier general James Winchester. Rest assured Bob’s loyalties remain with the Crown. He points out that Winchester was in fact a ‘defeated’ American general. Keep an eye out for other local history buffs and re-enactors who participated in the filming of this excellent production.
…Bonnie Schepers UE, President UELAC
Where is Bay of Quinte Branch President Peter Johnson?
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.
- “A Grateful Sense for Your Exertions in the Cause of Freedom” — a letter dated April 3, 1775 from Joseph Warren to Dr. Benjamin Franklin in London England at the time.
- AMC’s “Turn“: Everything Historians Need To Know. Danger, secrets, intrigue and revenge were all part of the Culper spy ring, and the new AMC series “Turn,” premiering April 6 (Sundays 9/8 central), offers a fascinating look into how these intrepid American spies helped win the Revolutionary War. AMC provided Journal of the American Revolution (JAR) an early screening of the first three episodes. Read the JAR description and commentary on accuracy.
- Shelburne Longboat Society reorganizes, dodges dissolution. A number of people who attended the uELAC conference in July 2008 also visited Shelburne NS on the same trip; others helped fund the longboats by paying for an oar.
- Did you know that Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Memorial Hall (and Museum) was built to commemorate United Empire Loyalists who came to Upper and Lower Canada?
- ‘We want to do something a little different,’ museums manager Clark Bernat says. Battle of Lundy’s Lane bicentennial commemorations will be a community event on July 25, 2014.
- At Lundy’s Lane, the last publicly accessible portion of the US position to remain in public hands may become parking lots and housing. More about the work being done to preserve the location as an interpretive site by The Friends of the Lundy’s Lane Battlefield, and how you can help.
- Yes! First UELAC Ontario licence plate sighting in London ON yesterday at the Central West Regional Meeting. At least three of the cars which brought delegates sported the plates. Live in Ontario? Do you have yours?
- Check out the item by Carolyn Harris about Prince Charles (HRH The Prince of Wales) in the Canadian Encyclopedia.
- We in North America celebrate Mother’s Day in May. In Europe Mothering Day — originally a celebration of the mother church, not motherhood — is celebrated in the 4th Sunday of Lent (this year March 30). In the UK Mothering Day has morphed from a religious Mothering Day to a North American-style Mother’s Day. A photo of the royal who actually bore the title of Queen Mother, with her daughters, 1980.
As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
– Stewart, James Sr. – from Myrna Perry, with certificate application
Please help us build the directory by contributing more information for it. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions and guidance.
Congratulation to first-time grandparents, Angela and Peter Johnson ( President of Bay Of Quinte Branch UELAC). Dante Peter Fiorentino was born on March 31, 2014 to their daughter Clarissa and Sandro Fiorentino. As Peter said, “Believe it or not, Dante will have over forty United Empire Loyalist ancestors.”
Gideon, 85, passed away peacefully on Thursday March 13, 2014, at his home in Stuart, Florida. Gideon Charles was born to the late Gideon and Nellie Beatrice Silverthorn on April 18, 1928 in Etobicoke, Ontario. He lived on a family farm of 1,000 acres in the city of Toronto and regaled his family with stories from his happy youth on the farm and his boisterous scrapes. Although he found school restrictive and boring, Gideon graduated from Etobicoke Collegiate in 1950 and from Ryerson Institute of Technology in 1952, with honours. He chose a career as a civil servant over agriculture.
Gideon married Viola Mohns on July 24, 1954, and they lived together in Kanata, Ontario with their three sons for the duration of their marriage of 34 years. They divorced in 1988. Gideon described Viola as a good wife. He worked for the Department of National Defense for 37 years. During his career, Gideon achieved several patents on behalf of her Majesty the Queen. One patent, the Universal Canister Mount, resulted in him being awarded the Canadian Patents and Development Limited official symbol, Rodin’s “The Thinker”. All of Gideon’s patents improved the safety of Canadian Armed Forces members on the battlefield. His patent on the automated production of canisters for gas masks is still being used in the manufacture of canisters today.
Gideon had a love of boats and the sea. From a 1950’s Red Cross swimming instructor he became a scuba diver, Instructor Trainer across multiple SCUBA associations. He purchased an aluminum houseboat hull, designed and fabricated the entire boat above the waterline and traveled extensively on her with his family and extended family, creating many treasured memories for his three boys.
Proud achievement included the commissioning of a book about the Silverthorn family with his siblings, titled “10 Generations of Silverthorns in the Americas”; as well as the design of a Silverthorn Coat of Arms that was recognized by the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada.
Gideon’s surviving three sons: Stephen (Diana) Silverthorn, of Mississauga, Ontario; Jeffrey (Karen) Silverthorn, of Stittsville, Ontario; and Roger (Mary) Silverthorn, of Orillia, Ontario; also six grandchildren. Gideon is predeceased by his sister Margaret Gilbert, and brother Don Silverthorn. Gideon will be lovingly remembered by his wife Carolyn, who became his wife in 2001.
Memorial Services were held in Stuart, Florida Wednesday, April 2; will be held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at a date to be determined. See more.
…Martha Hemphill UE, Toronto Branch
I am looking for information on William Wood (born c1751 – ?) who came from Yorkshire England to Massachusetts about 1773. He was said to have been a Loyalist. He came with his family to Canada between 1777-1781 to the Sackville New Brunswick area. His son William Wood (1782-1849) my 5th great grandfather, married Ann Patterson (1787-1837) about 1806 and later moved to the River Philip/Oxford area, were my line of “Wood family” starts. Leads or info would be most helpful.
… Danny Wood – Please contact email@example.com for contact information for Danny