“Loyalist Trails” 2014-34: August 24, 2014

In this issue:
The Summer of 1778: A Loyalist in the Big Apple (Part One), by Stephen Davidson
Benjamin Becraft UEL (Part 6), by Doug Massey
Col. James Moody, Loyalist: My 5th Great-Grandfather
UELAC Conference 2015: Venue, Gala and Police
Grand River Branch UELAC 40th Anniversary, Sept. 21
Project 2014 Centenary: UEL Monument Update
Facebook: Nova Scotia Branch; New Brunswick Branch
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory


The Summer of 1778: A Loyalist in the Big Apple (Part One), by Stephen Davidson

As many other travellers have done over the years, Louisa Wells made an unplanned stop in New York City while on her way to London, England. But rather than languishing in an airport while a plane’s engine was being repaired or waiting on the runway for the weather to improve, Louisa was stuck in the Big Apple because of the American Revolution. And her journey was not delayed by hours — it would be three months before she could book passage on a ship out of New York City. The 22 year-old loyalist’s daughter later jotted down her memories of the summer of 1778, providing us with a unique glimpse of life in the Big Apple during the revolution.

Louisa’s journey began in Charleston, South Carolina on June 27, 1778 as she boarded the Providence with her uncle, a cousin, her maid, and Miss Frances Thomey. All of the passengers on the ship were banished loyalists who were seeking sanctuary in England. That’s where Louisa’s parents, Robert and Mary Wells had already found refuge. Her fiance, a loyalist printer named Alexander Aikman, had fled to Jamaica. In addition to a trunk of clothes and personal items, Louisa had three casks of indigo in the ship’s hold, assets that she planned to turn into cash once she arrived in England.

The greatest fear that the loyalist passengers had as they left Charleston was that of being captured by rebel privateers or French navy vessels. What they had not foreseen was the possibility of a British vessel mistaking them for a French ship. On July 4th, a 20 gun man-of-war commanded by Captain James Reid fired shots at the Providence, sent over a boarding party and seized the vessel as its “lawful prize”. Nine days later, the Rose escorted the Providence into New York harbour where her captain expected to claim its cargo as his own.

The journey up the coast had not been an easy one for Louisa; she arrived in great “pain and distress”, not having eaten for the last four days. She looked forward to “getting a physician” and the “necessaries of which we stood so much in need”. Much to Louisa’s surprise, Miss Thomey came to her room to say that there were two men in a rowboat were asking after her. It turned out that they were Robert McCulloch and Captain Lichtenstein, two loyalists she had met in the South.

How they knew that Miss Wells was on a captured ship goes unrecorded, but within a half hour another boatload of South Carolina loyalists had made their way to the Providence to visit with the stranded passengers. Their news did little to cheer up Louisa and her friends. With the evacuation of Philadelphia, 30,000 refugees had recently crowded into the New York City area, making lodgings nonexistent and provisions “excessively dear”. Despite the fact that New York City was the safest refuge for loyalists on the eastern seaboard, Louisa and her fellow passengers felt little comfort in having anchored there. As far as the port authorities were concerned, they were rebel scoundrels apprehended at sea.

The next morning, the situation brightened somewhat when their friends sent currants, cherries, apples, fresh butter and milk to the Providence. However, the excitement over such a sumptuous breakfast did not last long. An officer came aboard and declared that since their ship had been seized as a prize of war, all of the men on board were to be incarcerated on a prison ship.

When Louisa’s uncle asked what was to become of the women and children, the officer said they must leave the ship with only a change of linen; they would be quartered in tents on Long Island. Upon learning this, as Louisa later recalled, “The Gentlemen, then solemnly declared, that they would not part from their Wives, Children and Property but with their Lives! Never did I see Rage, with every other distorting passion so pictured as in their Countenances! The married Women too, shrieking and wringing their hands! It was too much, and a scene too melancholy to be described with my pen.”

The loyalist refugee network immediately rallied around the Providence’s passengers. Friends on shore sped to the home of Colonel Innes, an influential South Carolina loyalist who was then living in New York. Rising from his bed and wearing only his dressing gown and slippers, Innes sped to the quarters of Admiral Gambier, the man who had ordered the passengers put on a prison ship. Hearing the complete story of the Providence’s passengers, the admiral signed a release to allow them to freely go ashore.

On July 15th, the Providence’s gentlemen went to the Court of Admiralty to learn the fate of their ship, its cargo and its passengers. Much to their chagrin, the ship and its cargo were “libeled”; consequently, the loyalists would have to appear at a future trial to prove that they were not rebels and that their ship should not be claimed as a prize of war.

While the men made their way back to the Providence to share their discouraging news, Louisa had recovered enough to go up on deck. From her vantage point she could see a mansion that had been converted into a hospital for soldiers and the valley where the British army had won the Battle of Long Island. Her memoir notes, “The town of Brooklyn, {New} York Island, and the adjacent country forms a delightful landscape. New York, I must confess makes no figure from the water: nothing to equal the order and regularity of the once beautiful Bay Street of Charleston! Every house for a mile, three stories high!”

Unimpressive as it may have been for the 22 year-old, New York City and its surroundings would be home for Louisa Wells for the next three months. How this unintentional tourist spent her time will be the subject of next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

Benjamin Becraft UEL (Part 6), by Doug Massey

While Patchin’s narrative stoked patriot hatred of Brant’s Volunteers in general, and Benjamin in particular, it offers us graphic evidence of the group’s tremendous motivation. When you consider that Benjamin and his compatriots started out on this raid in March, faced the cold and hunger of the journey to Harpersfield, and then the extreme danger of the longer return trip, you see their total commitment to attacking the enemy. Officially, the raid was all about destroying the patriot effort to feed their troops. But unofficially, an all- consuming bitterness fuelled loyalists such as Benjamin to seek revenge. The previous year a large American force under the command of Generals Sullivan and Clinton utterly destroyed forty villages, countless farms, and livelihood of the Haudenosaunee, specifically the Seneca, Cayuga and Onondaga. Sullivan’s orders were to refrain from entering any talks with the enemy until all their lands were devastated. George Washington ordered this campaign. And to this day, is known to the Haudenosaunee as “The Destroyer of Villages.”

But Sullivan made the mistake of not destroying Fort Niagara. All through that horrible winter of 1779-80, the hatred built up in the fort, fuelling the desire to make the patriots pay dearly for their destruction of the summer and fall of 1779. The raids from Niagara in 1780 started on Feb. 11. Between that date and July 1, 1780, 495 “Indians” and whites ravaged American settlements. After July 1, 400 at a time ranged the frontiers. (21) The Americans had turned “Indian country” into a wasteland. In 1780 British, “Indian” and loyalists returned the favour in both the Mohawk and Schoharie Valleys. And Benjamin Becraft would be in the thick of things. It is highly likely that he was part of Brant’s party that destroyed the Oneida villages on July 24, and again near Fort Stanwix on July 26. And he was most likely with Brant on August 2 when he attacked Canajoharie and laid waste a six-mile by four-mile stretch along the Mohawk River. From there, Brant moved south to cause havoc in the Schoharie Valley. On August 9, he devastated “Vrooman’s Land” where Benjamin Becraft, says the historical record, played a big role.

Toward the end of his narrative, Patchin relates that:

the tory Becraft took it in his head to boast of what he had done in the way of murder, since the war began. He said that he and others had killed the family of one Vrooman. These, he said they soon dispatched, except a boy of about 14 years of age, who fled across the flat, toward the Schoharie River. “I took after the lad, said the tory and although he ran like the spirit, I soon overtook him, and putting my hand under his chin, laid him back on my thigh, though he struggled hard, cut his throat, scalped him, and hung the body across the fence” (22)

Here is testimony of a great savagery. But can we believe it? Patchin holds that Becraft regaled him with the above details in late April of 1780, toward the end of the march to Niagara. But the “Vrooman’s Land Massacre” happened later that same year, on Aug. 9! How could this be? Were there earlier raids in 1778, or 1779? This is possible. Since the extensive Vrooman families were staunch and active patriots in the Schoharie Valley, they were prime targets for small groups of loyalist raiders. Indeed, they were “severe sufferers”; a number of family members were killed, or taken prisoner, and their property destroyed. However, there are no records that specifically connect Benjamin Becraft to such earlier raids. And there are further problems.

Jeptha R. Simms and William E. Roscoe, two Nineteenth Century amateur historians writing on the Schoharie Valley, agree on the Aug 9th date, as do modern day historians such as Barbara Graymont. (23). But here is where agreement ends, and details get fuzzy. Simms and Roscoe say Peter Vrooman was fourteen, while Graymont holds that the boy was eight. Simms embellishes Patchin’s story saying that Becraft also killed the four-year old daughter with a stone and then scalped her. Roscoe repeats this, adding that the little girl’s name was Janet, and the father’s name was Ephraim. John P Becker agrees that it was Ephraim Vrooman and family that were attacked. (24) Ephraim, he says, was taken prisoner, his wife shot dead and their eleven year old daughter had her head crushed by a stone. But in Becker’s account there is no mention of either Benjamin Becraft having been there, or of the death of Peter Vrooman!


21. Barbara Graymont, The Iroquois in the American Revolution, Syracuse Univ. Press, 1972, pg. 229

22. Josiah Priest, op. cit., pg. 297

23. Jeptha R. Simms, History of Schoharie County and Border Wars of New York, Albany, Munsell and Tanner, 1845, pg. 375-379, William E. Roscoe, op. cit. Chapter XIII, Barbara Graymont, op. cit, pg. 237

24. John P. Becker, The Sexagenary, or Reminiscences of the American Revolution, J Munsell, New York State, 1866, pg. 163

Doug Massey, UE, Hamilton Branch

Col. James Moody, Loyalist: My 5th Great-Grandfather

I am very proud to know from decades of meticulous genealogy research by my Dad, John Wentworth Moody III, a WWII veteran, that my 5th great grandfather was the Loyalist, Col. James Moody (see his portrait).

Col. James Moody was born in 1744 in Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey, and died 1809 in Weymouth, Nova Scotia. There is a story about my ancestor in the June 2, 2009 edition of the Nova Scotia Digby County Courier entitled “Celebration of Loyalist leader Col. James Moody.” This article has a picture of St. Peters Church in Nova Scotia that Col. James Moody helped found and mentions a book that I treasure about his life, “So Obstinately Loyal” by Susan Burgess Shenstone c2000, McGill-Queen’s University Press available from Amazon.ca.

I recently re-read “Lieut. James Moody’s narrative of his exertions and sufferings in the cause of government, since the year 1776” that was printed in London in 1782 and is available from Amazon.ca as part of the Century Collection Online Print Editions. One exploit that intrigues me was the time he secretly joined the search party of Rebel soldiers who were out seeking to capture him. But something I am particularly proud of in this narrative is a sworn affidavit of another Loyalist also held prisoner in 1780 in a dungeon at West Point that was then under the command of General Benjamin Arnold where Lieut. James Moody was held under deplorable conditions and in torment with painful wrist and leg iron restraints. He stated in this affidavit that after being shown a gallows erected in view of the dungeon that “if he (Lieutenant Moody) was hanged, it could be for no other reason than being a Loyal Subject to one of the best of Kings, and one of the best of Governments, and added, if he had ten lives to lose, he would sooner forfeit the ten as a Loyal Subject, than one as a rebel”.

Col. James Moody is listed in the UELAC Directory of Loyalists.

I thank my Dad, now deceased, a founding genealogy member of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) for discovering such an exceptional ancestor as Col. James Moody.

…Rick Moody, PhD, Ottawa, Canada

UELAC Conference 2015: Venue, Gala and Police

Nine months to go. The Pacific Region Branches of the UELAC have been hard at work planning the Loyalists Come West 2015 AGM to be held in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia May 28 – 31, 2015.

The AGM venue is the Coast Victoria Harbourside Hotel and Marina which stands facing Victoria’s Inner Harbour with excellent views of passing ships and boats, the marina and is close to the Legislature Buildings, the Empress Hotel, and many tourist activities.

Our hospitality room is on the top floor of the hotel with an outdoor patio which will be well appointed with chairs for those attending to sit and sip while watching the goings on out on the water (see this article with photo).

Don’t miss the internationally famous Greater Victoria Police Chorus who will entertain at the Gala Banquet on Saturday night. Friday night will be a special dinner of original Loyalist foods with a no host bar offering real 1700’s drinks that our ancestors would have consumed in addition to today’s beverages.

Visit the Victoria Branch website to keep up-to-date on the planning for 2015.

Grand River Branch UELAC 40th Anniversary, Sept. 21

Celebrating 40 Years of the Grand River United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada on Sunday, September 21, 2014 at the Best Western Plus Brant Park Inn, Brantford, Ontario. We invite you to come in period dress, if possible.

3:30 – Mix and Mingle

4:00 – Welcome, and opening ceremonies: Greetings from Dominion President Bonnie Schepers, UE

5:00 – Dinner: roast turkey

6:00 – Guest speaker Nathan Tidridge on “First Nations and the Crown: The Great Council at Niagara, 1764”

Tickets: $40.00

More details and an order form.

Bev Balch, President

Project 2014 Centenary: UEL Monument Update

As many of you are aware, the 2014 branch project for Bay of Quinte was the repair and restoration of the UEL Monument in the cemetery at the UEL Heritage Centre and Park at Adolphustown. The repairs have been taking place this summer under the auspices of Campbell Monument in Belleville. The entire monument was dismantled and the broken original limestone bases (which literally fell to pieces during the work) were removed, a new cement base installed and the original three bases replaced by stronger Stanstead granite, matching the original. Once that was completed and the monument put back together, the paving stones were removed, cleaned, and replaced to create a gradual slope and eliminated the step and tripping hazards. The next phase of the project will be to repair the grass area surrounding the area. We still need to install the 4 cemetery stones previously removed from the grounds that were broken and have since been repaired.

Our Dominion President, Bonnie Schepers, Branch President Peter Johnson, and Ketcheson Family Association President Trevor Ketcheson, laid wreathes at the new base of the monument during the Ketcheson family reunion held at the park in Adolphustown on July 26th.

Mark Your Calendar. The official unveiling & re-dedication of the restored UEL Monument will take place as part of a re-enactment and re-dedication to be held on the weekend of May 23- 24, 2015.

We would like to thank the various individuals, UEL Branches across Canada, and the Dominion UELAC for their generous donations towards this worthy project. Donations can still be made towards the final stages of the restoration; a charitable receipt will be issued – Registered Charity No 889 242 863 Rr00001.

Please make cheques payable to “UEL Heritage Centre and Park” and mail to: UEL Heritage Centre & Park, 54 Adolphustown Park Road, Bath, Ontario K0H 1G0 For more information, contact me

Brian Tackaberry, UE, Bay of Quinte Branch

Facebook: Nova Scotia Branch; New Brunswick Branch

Check out the new Facebook page by Nova Scotia Branch – congrats to them.

In addition, there is a new Facebook address for New Brunswick Branch.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Sir John Johnson UE and family are again at rest, where they should be. See the CTV clip of the ceremonies and commentary around the consecration of the new vault on Saturday August 23. Be sure to scroll down the page and view the two additional clips for a series of snippets from the ceremonies, and for commentary by Okill Stuart UE. The Sir John Johnson Branch UELAC and others, with assistance from the UELAC, undertook as a project many years ago the restoration of the vault – read the history.
  • The Journal of the American Revolution examines some of the forces at play in that inter-war period after the Seven Years War (French and Indian War)in this article The American Revolution Comes to Albany, New York, 1756-1776
  • Revolutionary War Patriot Samuel Cutts and His 1780s Suit, posted by SilkDamask. Several photos, a quick read but with some interesting history comments.
  • (From this week) On Aug 21, 1786, Sir Guy Carleton, newly appointed Governor General of British North America, raised to the peerage as Lord Dorchester
  • A biker finds more history – a Loyalist cemetery plaqued by Grand River Branch – while exploring the back roads.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
– Horton, Isaac – from Linda Raney
– Stover, Peter – from Rob Stokes with certificate application
– Tompkins, Obadiah – from Laurie Tompkins

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