“Loyalist Trails” 2014-32: August 10, 2014

In this issue:
A Loyalist’s Son Goes to School: Part One, by Stephen Davidson
Benjamin Becraft UEL (Part 4), by Doug Massey
King’s Royal Yorkers Identified
Where in the World is David Hongisto?
War of 1812 Era Maps of Niagara Area
Loyalists and The War of 1812: James Cotter Sr and Jr
War of 1812: Militia Report No. 15
War of 1812 Canadian Armed Forces Commemoration
Shannon Kyles, Photography and The Gryphon
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post: Anna Marjorie Curtis (nee Dorion)
Last Post: Mary Margaret Marsh (nee McRae)


A Loyalist’s Son Goes to School: Part One, by Stephen Davidson

You are a 38 year-old loyalist who fled the United States and your 7 year-old son now needs to begin his education. Local schools are out of the question. What do you do? Well, if you were Edward Winslow of Plymouth, Massachusetts, you would send your son to England.

What were Edward and Mary Winslow thinking? What could prompt them to send their firstborn across the Atlantic for years of schooling? Fortunately, we do not need to speculate on the matter. Thanks to the fact that Winslow saved almost every letter that he wrote and received, we have the story of Master Daniel Murray Winslow’s foray into the world of academics.

On Monday, September 20, 1784, Winslow sat down in Halifax and penned a long letter to his wife Mary. Half way through the epistle, his seven year-old interrupted his father. Describing his son as “that vagabond Murray”, Winslow recounted the boy’s comments on what a long letter his father was writing. “Don’t you think Mama will be glad to read a whole bookful from me?” the father asked. “I don’t know,” replied little Murray, “Too much of one thing is good for nothing.”

Winslow ended the story by asking Mary, “Did you ever hear such a varlet? Lest you should be of his mind, I’ll leave off for a little.” With that, Winslow put down his pen, returning to his task on the following day.

As it turned out, Murray was probably somewhat cranky the night before. He had gone out with a “party of pleasure” to go fishing and caught a cold. Winslow’s Halifax friends made a fuss of the sick boy. “One says, “The dear little creature’s oppressed at his stomach” – another says, “He’s feverish.” If they don’t hurt him by their nonsense, I shall be glad. He is exactly as you have seen him a hundred times, stuffed at his stomach and wheezes, but I am sure that a drink of whey or something warm when he goes to bed will answer all the purpose. The rascal’s laughing at them now.”

But beneath his amusement at his son’s mischief, Winslow confessed how hard it would be to send Murray to England.

“You always thought, My Mary, that I did not love this precious boy so much as I ought to. How grossly are you mistaken. The idea of parting with him is as painful to me as yourself, and I almost tremble when they tell me a ship will be ready to sail for England in a week or ten days. Yet I must and will be reconciled. When he is indisposed I cannot be at ease for a moment, and although he has now only a trifling cold, I cannot suppress my anxiety. Indeed, Mama, I will not allow that your affection for him is greater than my own.

Since his arrival here he has quite captivated all his relations. For although he will not be sociable in large parties of ladies, but acts on such occasions just as he used to, yet whenever a company retires and the family and two or three friends form a circle of themselves, he is sure to afford a monstrous deal of real entertainment.

He has this evening amused his aunts with a history of the whole family, and has given a character of all the children and servants & of almost everybody in the neighborhood, and he certainly does say some of the most extraordinary things that ever enter’d into the head of a child of his age. But I will not indulge you any farther on this subject, you are already too partial to this little Micmac.” {This was the English name for Nova Scotia’s First Nations tribe.}

On Friday, Winslow reported that Murray would be sailing to England on a transport ship named the Sally. Three other passengers “of my particular acquaintance” would also be aboard the “fine large ship”. Their promises to watch over Murray eased Winslow’s pain at being separated from his son. “I must send him off as soon as I can for the longer he stays, the more sincerely and affectionately am I attached to him.” The loyalist father made arrangements for a berth to be built for Murray in the captain’s stateroom, paying “any expense that may attend it.” Somewhere in Halifax, Winslow “procured a servant to attend” Murray on the passage. Along with the servant, Winslow sent money and letter of introduction to his old friend, Frederick Geyer, who lived near the school Murray would attend.

As he assured Mary that everything had been done for Murray, Winslow was also convincing himself of the merits of their plans:

“Thus arranged my dear wife is this very important matter, and I now feel a kind of consolation which is peculiar to a tender and affectionate parent and of which I wish you to partake, and which you will necessarily enjoy because it results from a consciousness of having performed a serious and important duty.

You have parted with a precious boy – a son who not only contributed to your amusement, but who really discovers an uncommon degree of sensibility and gratitude. His manners and disposition attach even strangers to him. Were he of a contrary character there would be no merit in relinquishing him for a time. With all these good qualities I acknowledge that it requires great philosophy to reconcile one’s self to a separation from him. And yet the consideration that he possesses them, makes it doubly incumbent on us to do him justice in his education.

Should your motherly tenderness or weakness have prevented this sweet fellow from availing himself of the advantages now held out to him, and for want of proper attention to his education have turned out a Blackguard what remorse, what stings of conscience would you have felt. We have now done all that God and our own consciences can require of us. If accidents happen to him we have nothing to answer for. Therefore Madam instead of fetching a sigh, join me in wishing him a good passage and let what will happen we will bear it handsomely.”

Read next week’s Loyalist Trails to find out what happened to little Murray Winslow.

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

Benjamin Becraft UEL (Part 4), by Doug Massey

Another incident seems to back up Robinson’s accusations that patriots sexually abused indigenous women. In 1779, the patriots opened a campaign against the Haudenosaunee with an attack on the Onondaga. On April 21, they destroyed Onondaga Town and other villages. Taeqwanda, a renowned Onondaga orator, speaking in 1782 held that in that raid:

they [The American soldiers] put to death all the women and children
except some of the young women whom they carried away for the use
of the soldiers and were afterwards put to death in a most shameful way (12).

In his Drums Along The Mohawk, the American historical novelist Walter D Edmonds alludes to both of these incidents. He mentions that Col. William Butler was ordered to wipe out the “Indian” towns of Oquaga and Unadilla in 1778. But since the hostile inhabitants of the towns had all fled, Butler allowed the Morgan Riflemen to kill the four or five Oneida and Tuscarora families, men and women, who had remained in the town because they were friendly to the Americans and expected to be left in peace. They had come to kill “Indians” and so did! Indeed, Edmonds says the Morgan men “made a spree of the process”, and that Col. Butler’s report failed to mention this part of the action.(13)

Then, when writing of the attack on an Onondaga town in 1779, Edmonds writes that these same Morgan Riflemen, with the support of their commanding officers, rounded up fifteen women, mostly young women, and killed them. Their half naked bodies were strewn around the area. But one young woman killed by a blow to the head, was lying naked under a tree in a protected area. Says Edmonds, these were signs that “the discipline had not been observed”.(14) He does not use the word rape, but seems to be alluding to it here. For the most part, Edmond’s novel has a decidedly pro patriot bias. Loyalists are called “destructives” while patriots are brave victims. So when Edmonds admits to American atrocities, even by doing so in such a subtle way, it is significant.

However, pointing out patriot savagery is not meant to condone loyalist atrocities perpetrated during the revolution, but to bring balance to the narrative. And as we now consider the details of Benjamin Becraft’s war, we must put his actions into the context of the times, understanding that terrible acts were committed on both sides.

So what then were the details of Benjamin’s war after the Battle of the Flockey, Aug. 13, 1777? His name is not to be found in any records until April 7, and August 9, 1780. But if Becraft did join Brant’s Volunteers sometime before the summer of 1778, we can get a decent idea of Ben’s involvement by considering the actions of Brant and his corps in 1778, 1779, and 1780. This was a busy time as the following chronology indicates:

  • May 30, 1778: The town of Cobleskill is attacked by Brant
  • July 18, 1778: Springfield and Andrus Town are destroyed by Brant
  • Sept. 17, 1778: German Flats is attacked by Brant, his volunteers and “Indians”, leaving 719 people homeless
  • Oct 8-10, 1778: Brant is off attacking Ulster County, when his base camps at Oquaga and Unadilla are destroyed by the Americans
  • Nov. 11, 1778: Brant is forced to join Walter Butler in the attack on Cherry Valley. Benjamin was most likely not there because Brant’s white volunteers refused to serve under Butler in this action.
  • 1778 – 1779: Brant Winters at Niagara
  • July 20, 1779: Brant attacks the Minisink settlement
  • July 21, 1779: Brant destroys the Goshen militia sent after him following the Minisink raid. 40 rebel militiamen are killed.
  • Aug. 29, 1779: Brant and his volunteers fight in the Battle of Newton.
  • 1779 – 1780: Brant winters at Niagara (A terrible winter: much snow, very low temperatures and little food)
  • April 7, 1780: Brant attacks Harpersfield. Benjamin was there (see below)
  • July 24, 1780: Brant raids the Oneida villages (the Oneidas supported the patriots in the war)
  • July 26, 1780: Brant attacks the Oneidas who fled to Fort Stanwix
  • Aug 2, 1780: Brant attacks Canajoharie. A swath of land 6 miles by 4 miles is devastated
  • Aug 9, 1780: Brant and his party, including Benjamin Becraft, lay waste “Vrooman’s Land” in the Schoharie Valley.


12. Gavin Watt, I am Heartily Ashamed, Vol II, pg. 337-8. On April 9 1779 leading up to that attack above, General Clinton sent instructions to Col Van Schaick and Col. Gansevoort who were in charge of the forces advancing on the Onondaga villages, saying, “Bad as the savages are, they never violate the chastity of any women, their prisoners. Although I have very little apprehension that any of the soldiers will so far forget their character as to attempt such a crime on the Indian women who may fall into their hands, yet it will be well to take measures to prevent such a stain upon our army”. If Taeqwanda was correct, more should have been done to keep the corps’ honour untarnished.

13. W.D. Edmonds, Drums Along The Mohawk, Syracuse Univ. Press, 1997, pg. 400-401 This incident also backs up Taylor’s intimation that racism played a role in the revolution. The inhabitants of Oquaga and Onadilla were brutally abused because they were “Indians”. This racial undertone may also be seen in the case of Seth’s Henry. A sachem of the Schohaire Indians, Seth’s Henry was a fierce partisan and very much hated by patriots. Gavin Watts in The Flockey, (see pg. 71fn), argues that Henry was such a cruel foe because of racial slurs he had experienced at the hands of certain patriot neighbours prior to the revolution. He was called a “dog”. As well, to be called a “savage”, as the Mohawks often were, was very hurt full generally.

14. Ibid., pg. 461 To be fair, at another point in the novel, Edmonds alludes to rape done by a group of loyalists. And it is very interesting that in primary sources generally, written by commanders to their superiors, there is never mention of rape. But then why would a commander mention such at thing? To do so would be an admission that you could not control the actions of your men, a sure way to destroy any chance of advancement in rank! But how is one to understand the writings of authors of secondary sources on the American Revolution who continue this silence?

Doug Massey, UE, Hamilton Branch

King’s Royal Yorkers Identified

Last week Andrew Fleming posted a testimonial to the Toronto Branch-UELAC Facebook group with reference to the future. Loyally Yours “represents a great deal of effort and collaboration on behalf of our society’s editorial team, a network of volunteer authors, and their publishing partner. As you read this you should note that we are entering a new chapter in the history of the UELAC.” With every commemorative publication, there are always details that are cut or perhaps not even available at the time the copy went to press. One such example is the picture of a charging group of revolutionary war re-enactors that was anchored in the Upper Canada Branch UELAC history. The dynamic features of the image were secured by enlarging the small snapshot to a two-thirds page sizing but unfortunately there were no names written on the back that could have been included in a caption. Since the book was launched in June, Honorary VP Gavin Watt has supplied additional information. Gavin was also the Founder and Officer Commanding of the recreated King’s Royal Yorkers — 1975-2006. Further information can be found in his book, The History and Master Roll of the Kings’ Royal Regiment of New York, published in 2006.

The caption under the photograph (LY, p.150) simply states “Kings’ Royal Regiment of New York 1984″. The date is important only to clarify that they are not the originals. More frequently the reference is to the Kings Royal Yorkers. Gavin said he ” became VERY big on using the King’s Royal Yorkers nickname when people at Canadian sites, on hearing the official name, invariably quipped, ‘Oh, you’re Americans.’ My theory, I’d rather be taken for a bellhop at the Royal York Hotel than a Yank.”

The location for the picture is rather obscure. In the background you can make out the name of a public house “The Paisley” but Google was not much help.

As for the identification of the Kings Royal Yorkers, there is one clue that some members might observe: the “Moustache” has been promoting Loyalist heritage for a long time. Using the posted photograph Gavin has supplied the following names for the visible men only” – Front Rank: Norman Agnew; David Moore; Charles Baker; Tex Joyner (deceased); Todd Girdwood. Rear Rank: Dan Moreau; unidentified; unidentified; Dave Gutteridge; Jeff Paine. Unfortunately, a few of the images remained on the cutting room floor. Those still active in the recreated Royal Yorkers and Canadian Fencibles — Major David Moore, 1st battalion & Captain, Cdn Regt of Fencible Infantry; Pte Charles Baker, Duncan’s Coy, 1st battalion & Singleton’s Coy, 2nd battalion & Colour Sjt, Cdn Regt of Fencible Infantry; Pte Dan Moreau, Duncan’s Coy, 1st battalion & Singleton’s Coy, 2nd battalion; Captain Jeff Paine, Singleton’s Coy, 2nd battalion & Pte, Duncan’s Coy, 1st battalion.

On August 23, a Ceremony of Re-Consecration of the Sir John Johnson Family Burial Vault will be held at the base of Mont Saint-Gregoire. A representation from the King’s Royal Yorkers will be present in honour of the founder of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York 1776.

A new chapter in the history of The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada has begun.

…FHH, P.R.

Where in the World?

Where is David Hongisto of Calgary Branch?

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.

War of 1812 Era Maps of Niagara Area

Here is a link to an 1815 Map of the Niagara District in Upper Canada, by Lieutenant W.A. Nesfield, drawn partly from Survey, & from documents obtained from the Qr Mr General’s Department.

The map is orientated to the south and shows the Niagara Peninsula and area west to Long Point as it was just after the War of 1812. The map was enclosed with Owen’s report to Croker no 82. It shows the Niagara escarpment, swamps, roads, villages, houses (with names of settlers), forts and battle sites. Map source: Library and Archives Canada, NMC 21587. It may be of general interest to your research (click on it to enlarge).

See all of Brock’s digital maps of Niagara region from 1788 to 1865.

[submitted by Sandy McNamara]

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 James Cotter, Sr. & Jr. thanks to Elizabeth Maize.

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.

War of 1812: Militia Report No. 15

Thank you for your assistance. Expect initial actions to begin at the end of August. Defenses being set up to our north and in Plattsburgh. Notification will be made when British and Loyalist forces cross the border. Please notify all New Englanders of the pending invasion. More information can be obtained from www.champlain1812.com.

…William Glidden, Major – New York Defense Force, 2014

War of 1812 Canadian Armed Forces Commemoration

Two years ago The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, unveiled the War of 1812 Commemorative pins to be proudly worn by Canadian Forces members, and Commemorative banners that will be flown by Canadian Forces units, formations and establishments whose heritage embraces service in the defence of Canada during the period of 1812-1815.

The Pin can be seen here. It is worn below the name badge at appropriate times until the commemoration period ends in February 2015.

The Banner with the badge is more fully described here. As part of its initiative to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, the Government of Canada created the Canadian Forces War of 1812 Commemorative Banner which will be presented to Canadian Forces units, formations, and establishments whose heritage embraces service in the defence of Canada during 1812-1815. The banner will be carried, flown, or displayed throughout the 2012-2015 commemorative period and paraded thereafter by units, formations, and establishments on anniversaries of events of the War of 1812.

To pay tribute to regiments and soldiers who successfully defended Canada in the War of 1812, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on September 14, 2012, announced that battle honours will be awarded to select regiments that perpetuate 1812 units which participated in decisive battles for the defence of Canada in the War. The following Battle Honours commemorate the most significant victories of the War of 1812: “QUEENSTON”, “MAUMEE”, “CHÂTEAUGUAY”, “CRYSLER’S FARM”, “NIAGARA”, and as previously announced. “DETROIT”. More details on each here.

…David Clark, Michael Eamer and Fred Hayward

Shannon Kyles, Photography and The Gryphon

Would you like to study photography in a Loyalist rich area of Ontario? This week, Shannon Kyles sent a link to a special photography workshop at the Gryphon. While she was an instructor in architecture at Mohawk College in Hamilton, she made several presentations to UELAC and heritage groups in the region. In 2010, her research into Loyalist architecture was published in Arabella Volume 3 Issue 1.

Three months later, Loyalist Trails acknowledged her interest in “Preserving Loyalist Domestic Architecture Heritage.” It was reported then that she had become quite attracted to a Regency cottage style home in Ancaster Ontario, bought it, dismantled it and planned to move it to Prince Edward County. Previously known in Ancaster as “the Grove,” the Gryphon now serves as a relaxing base from which to explore the rich heritage of Prince Edward County.


From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Last Post: Anna Marjorie Curtis (nee Dorion)

Marjorie Curtis aged 85 on Dec 22, 2013. Our Mom Marjorie was born on Nov 03, 1928 at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, PQ. Mom and Dad were married at St. Simeons Church in Lachute on June 11, 1949. When Mom and Dad moved back to Pointe Claire Mom went back to work in 1968 and began a 24 year career at the Lakeshore General Hospital where she became the Administrative Assistant to the Director General. Mom retired in 1992 and remained a resident in Pointe Claire until 2011 when she moved to Trenton ON, in order to be closer to her family. A gentle, dignified soul, she was also spirited, feisty and determined.

Mom’s personality was such that people liked her instantly. A gift to all of us, she has truly lived a life well-loved. Our dear mother Marjorie is survived by her 4 loving sons, Peter (Joanne) of Quesnel B.C., David (Krow) of Norwood ON, Jeffrey (Cheryl) of Abbotsford, B.C. and James (Traci) of Harrison Hot Springs B.C. Mom, and by many grands.

Mom was the eldest of 7 children of the late Oscar Kenrick Dorion and his wife the late Mary Frances Donahue of Greece’s Point PQ. Mom is the loving sister of the late James (Jeannie) Dorion of Arnprior ON, the late George Dorion of Lachute PQ, Fredrick Dorion (Diane) of Kemptville ON, Edward Dorion (the late Jean and present wife Linda) of Vernon BC, the late Margaret (the late Alex) Mooney of St. Eugene ON, and Sandra (Warren) Knudsen of Ste. Anne de Prescott, ON.

Marjorie was a member of Heritage Branch, Montreal. Her proven Loyalist ancestor was Sir John Johnson.

…Robert Wilkins UE, Heritage Branch

Last Post: Mary Margaret Marsh (nee McRae)

95, peacefully passed away July 22, 2014 in Kirkland, QC. Predeceased by her husband Charles Marsh; and daughters Catherine Jane Marsh and Sheryl Mary Dawn Marsh. Margaret touched many lives in her 95 years; she will be greatly missed by her family, Wilda and Lee Smith, Julie Smith, Arianne Smith-Piquette and Robert Piquette, Melanie and Graham Glen, Amanda Glen and her many friends. Funeral Service were held on Sunday, July 27, 2014.

…Robert Wilkins UE, Heritage Branch