“Loyalist Trails” 2014-37: September 14, 2014

In this issue:
Snippets from Loyalist Research, by Stephen Davidson
Benjamin Becraft UEL (Conclusion), by Doug Massey
2015 Conference – “Loyalists Come West”: Gardens to See
Albany NY In the Seven Years War (Part 3), by Bill Glidden
Meet the 2014 Outstanding Townshippers
UELAC Magazine: The Loyalist Gazette
Where in the World?
War of 1812: Commemoration of Battle of Malcolm’s Mills
World War II: RCAF Memorial
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory


Snippets from Loyalist Research, by Stephen Davidson

In the process of researching a larger story, I often come across little snippets of loyalist history that, while fascinating in themselves, are too small to develop into a larger article. Here are some of those little discoveries.

The words used by loyalists are always fascinating. There are those who decry the use of “Xmas”, saying that it is a secularization of the word “Christmas”. However, the use of “Xmas” goes back more than 200 years and was used by loyalists in their correspondence. When he wrote to Massachusetts loyalist, Edward Winslow, on December 7, 1784, John Wentworth closed his letter by saying “Adieu my dear Sir, a merry Xmas to you and every happiness is the cordial wish of your unfeigned friend”. Wentworth was the last royal governor of New Hampshire and would later become the first loyalist lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia.

His use of “Xmas” indicates that it was in common usage in New Hampshire and was understood by those from Massachusetts. Were these two loyalists trying to “de-Christianize” the holiday? No, the “X” was simply another form of a cross — the symbol for Christ. So the question remains, did “Xmas” come into circulation during the loyalist era?

In writing to a close personal friend, Edward Winslow used another term that is more readily associated with the 20th century. The 36 year-old loyalist referred to his father, Edward Winslow Senior, as “my Dad”. Twenty-eight year old Sarah Frost, writing in her diary in June of 1783, said that she hoped to “see Daddy in the morning.”

While historians might wish that Sarah’s diary would provide a more comprehensive description of the journey of a loyalist evacuation ship, it nevertheless sparkles with surprising details. There were mysterious sightings: a wreck or a dead whale? When thirteen stripes were seen on a brig, the captain “gave them a shot” just to warn them off. A thunderstorm rained down hailstones the “size of ounce balls”. Sarah’s enterprising husband collected a mug’s worth of the hail and made a glass of punch.

When she first caught sight of what would become New Brunswick, Sarah said it was a “strange looking, iron-bound coast” that looked “like a fit place for bears and wolves”. But we can forgive the young loyalist mother her for pessimistic first impression. She was pregnant, suffering through morning sickness, and had to spend two weeks at sea sharing a cabin with seven other families. “So many children in one cabin. . . one cries in one place and one in another. I feel as if they would set me crazy.” Adding insult to injury, just as their ship sailed into the depressingly thick Bay of Fundy fog, Sarah discovered that measles was spreading through the ship.

Did any of those children remember their experiences from the American Revolution? A loyalist descendant who only described himself as “J.C.T.” wrote down some family memories in 1898 to preserve “the reminiscences of those early pioneers whose stories may be more touching because of their reality”. Among these anecdotes is a memory of his grandmother from when she was just eight years old. After her Quaker father escaped from prison, rebels imprisoned her 12 and 14 year-old brothers in an attempt to coerce her mother into revealing where their father was hiding.

Frustrated by the woman’s stubborn resolve, the rebels released her sons after three weeks of incarceration and plundered the Quaker home. All that J.C.T.’s grandmother could remember from those days of persecution was that “they took away the bureau where my doll was kept, and when I begged for the doll, the soldiers laughed and roughly pushed me aside.”

Another story describes how a loyalist ancestor escaped from the horrific underground prison in Simsbury, Connecticut. In 1773, the colonial government transformed the caves and shafts of an abandoned copper mine into the New-Gate Prison. It wasn’t long before “Tories” were incarcerated next to burglars, counterfeiters and murderers.

Fortunately, relatives were allowed to visit the imprisoned loyalists. When his wife made the journey underground to see him, one prisoner gave his wife an impression of the keyhole that secured his cell door. He told her to melt lead bullets, pour the lead into the mould, and bring him the resulting key. His wife did as she was told, but had to determine on her own the best way to get the key back to her husband. Her solution? She put the key in the curds of a cheese that she was making while they were still soft. When she arrived at the prison, her cheese was inspected, but having no cuts or holes in it, the guards gave her permission to present it to her husband.

That night, the loyalist prisoner opened his cell door with the key. He and several others crept up the stairway to the surface, knocked out the guards, and made their escape. The loyalist fugitives travelled by night and sought hiding places at dawn. The man whose wife had supplied them with the crucial key once had to hide in a hollow log beneath a bridge as a rebel search party walked overhead. He heard the enemy mutter that they would tar and feather him when they caught him, recognizing that he had been “the ringleader in all this mischief.”

Another story passed down by loyalist descendants recounts how a Staten Island native, Nat Johnson, kept out of rebel clutches. “On one occasion Mr. Johnson narrowly escaped being taken prisoner by the Yankees. A number had planned to visit his house on a certain night and either compel him to accompany them or suffer a worse fate which probably meant death. Fortunately, however, Mr. Johnson was apprised of their intention and acted accordingly. A few rods from his dwelling stood a large hollow pine stump, and in this the intended victim secreted himself armed with his trusty musket. The ruffians soon arrived, but after making a thorough search of the buildings they departed. After this open declaration of hostility Mr. Johnson lost no time in leaving New York.”

Diaries, letters, and oral memoirs are all invaluable in piecing together the stories of the loyalists, shining fresh light on an earlier era — even if they are just “snippets.”

Benjamin Becraft UEL (Conclusion), by Doug Massey

It is estimated that there were a total of five hundred thousand loyalists during the American Revolution, but that only ten percent ever took up arms and fought. (36) Of these half million “Tories” the vast majority remained in the United States after the end of hostilities. Only sixty thousand actually left, and thirty thousand of these people were from New York State. Benjamin Becraft was among those activist, New York loyalists who left for Canada in 1786. Educated loyalists, like patriots, accepted John Locke’s theory of natural rights and limited government, and like patriots criticized British actions such as the Stamp Act and the Coercive Acts. However, loyalists wanted to pursue peaceful protest, fearing that violence would lead to mob rule and tyranny. In backwoods Blenheim, an uneducated Benjamin Becraft did not know about Locke, the Stamp Act, or the Coercive Acts. Yet he did experience the tyranny of the local patriot committees who watched him, and would not allow him to honour his oath to support the king. This prompted him to take up arms, join Brant’s Volunteers, and become a fierce partisan in the savage civil war that raged along the frontiers.

How is one to come to grips with this war? What is one to think of the atrocities perpetrated by both sides? No doubt Becraft, like so many other “whites” on both sides of that fight, became savage himself. Thayendanegea, like his Mohawk kin, or the Haudenosaunee altogether, was called a “savage”, a favourite epithet of whites that had always incensed indigenous people. To this labelling, Brant replied, “Cease then to call yourselves Christians lest you publish to the world your hypocrisy. Cease too to call other nations savage, when you are tenfold more the children of cruelty than they”. (37)

After a raid on a patriot settlement, Brant was quick to point out the duplicity of whites. In a note sent to “the commanding officer of the rebel army” explaining his motivation for returning captives, Brant wrote, “I do not make war upon women and children. I am sorry to say that I have those engaged with me in the service, who are more savage than the savages themselves.” (38) Is this an indictment by Brant of some of his white volunteers, perhaps even Benjamin Becraft? Becraft physically survived that cruel conflict. But did the inhumanity of the fight claim part of his being? Did Benjamin, like others on both sides of the conflict, lose his way in the horror of long marches, blizzards, hunger, rain and killing? At war’s end, we hear no more of Benjamin Becraft, other than the statement by Freegift Patchin that he tried to return to Blenheim, only to be whipped and cast out. We know nothing of his final trip from the Schoharie Valley to Fort Niagara, or on to Ancaster Township. And there is no definite record of when he died, nor no known grave. Most likely he is buried on his Ancaster farm. To this day that piece of land just west of Jerseyville is cut in two by a road called the Indian Trail. Appropriate I would suggest.


36. Robert M. Calhoon, “Loyalism and neutrality” in Jack P. Greene and J.R. Pole, eds., The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the American Revolution (1991) p. 235; Robert Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789 (2005) pp. 563-564; Thomas B. Allen, Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War (2010) p. xx.

37. Barbara Graymont, Thayandanegea, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, see www.biographi.ca/en/results.php/?ft=thayendanegea.

38. W. L. Stone, op. cit. Vol. II, pg. 126

Doug Massey, UE, Hamilton Branch

2015 Conference – “Loyalists Come West”: Gardens to See

Read the details for Loyalists Come West – the 2015 UELAC Conference in Victoria BC May 28-30, 2015.

Victoria is a destination city for tourists and sightseers. Saturday afternoon May 30, 2015, there is some built in free time before the Gala Banquet that night and for those not attending the AGM that morning, there will be further tourist time. There is something for everyone.

There are beautiful gardens everywhere. At the University of Victoria there is Finnerty Garden. This is a no entrance fee. The garden requires over an hour to wander its trails. The number 7 bus leaves downtown from Fort Street and Blanshard to UVic. You must have exact change. Fares are $2.50 one way.

“The garden contains over 4,000 different trees and shrubs with more than 1,500 rhododendron and azalea plants, including 200 collected rhododendron species, and a spectacular range of companion plants artistically displayed on the 2.6 hectare (6.5 acre) site at the southwest corner of the UVic campus. Complementing the plant life are three tranquil ponds, an inviting network of winding paths and dozens of benches, each with its own distinctive view of the gardens’ ever-changing splendour. The gardens have been carefully planned and developed to provide a rich and changing array of colour, scent, form and texture all year round. In April and May, you will see the rhododendrons at their best.” See David’s own photo.

Those registering for the full Conference will receive a gift of a DVD of photos taken from Gardens such as The Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, Abkhazi Garden, Government House Gardens, Butchart Gardens, Finnerty Garden, Outerbridge Garden and Hatley Castle Gardens. The colourful pictures of these gardens were collected over a period of 10 years and have been set to music to show your friends back home and bring back memories of your stay in Victoria.

Not a fan of gardens? Stay tuned for more articles on things to do in Victoria in 2015.

David B. Clark, UE

Albany NY In the Seven Years War (Part 3), by Bill Glidden

A Bill Is Proposed

In September of 1756, the New York Assembly formed a bill, hoping it would protect homeowners from further forcible quartering. At first, Governor Charles Hardy demanded that the bill be amended to allow the military attitudes more latitude. After a month of debate, Hardy swung over to the Assemblymen’s position. He had become convinced, he told Loudoun in November, that it would be an enormous hardship for many families to have soldiers thrust into their homes. Being- non sympathetic Loudoun simply repeated his dogmatic contention that in wartime “no house has been exempt from Quartering the troops the General thought proper to have in any place for carrying on the service”.

Loudoun ordered a survey made. The survey numbered 329 homes, including homes of forty-seven merchants and ten Indian traders. Also counted were five dramshops, four inns, three liquor retailers, two taverns, and one mead house. Loudoun calculated that it would be possible to quarter 190 officers and 2082 soldiers in Albany’s 329 homes. This meant there would be approximately seven British soldiers to each Dutch home.

Another Threat

In the winter, Loudoun made another threat to send additional soldiers to Albany. His intentions were to compel the people to house his troops. The Mayor told Loudoun that the people were opposed to such an illegal act. Faced with British bayonets and political pressure from Lt. Governor James DeLancey, the Mayor’s resistance collapsed. By the end of the day, British soldiers were quartered in every house in Albany. By August of 1757 a large number of Albany citizens signed and presented a petition to the city council. All of the Aldermen signed the petition, intended for DeLancey, but the Mayor avoided doing so by leaving town. The petition sent without the Mayor’s signature. During the years of 1757 to 1758, nine companies of the 1st (Royal Scots ) Regiment, and the 55th (Lord Howe’s)Regiment moved into winter quarters at Fort Frederick.

Captain Christie, recorded that he daily received writs in consequence of actions lodged against him for the legal and faithful discharge of his trusts. He commented that the civil officers are either a bar themselves to public business or under the direction of those who are.

A Clear Perception

In June of 1758 the Albany city council resolved that “all kind of the most iniquitous and tyrannical violations — the most abominable crimes have been committed, some of them under color and sanction of advancing his Majesties service”. The practice of quartering soldiers in private homes against the wishes of the people has “assumed a power over us very inconsistent with the liberties of a free and loyal people. Upon the whole”, the council concluded, “we conceive that his Majesties Paternal Cares to Release us (from the threat of France) have in a Great Measure been made use of to oppress us”. The implications to be drawn from the Albany city council’s resolution seem unmistakable. New York’s political leaders had a clear perception of the rights and liberties of an English subject, and when one of those rights was threatened or violated, the politicians vigorously and publicly protested that infringement. This resolution made in the summer of Gereral Abercromby’s defeat at Fort Carillon.

Following Amherst’s campaign in 1759, five companies of the 1st Battalion, 42nd Royal Highland Regiment (The Black Watch); the 2nd Battalion, 42nd Regiment; the 77th Regiment (Montgomery’s — The Athol Highlanders); and three companies of the New York Independents were quartered in Albany during the winter of 1759 to 1760.

The Preferred Drink

During the war years rum distillers in Albany found that their rum was a lucrative commodity to sell to bored British soldiers garrisoned in the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys wishing to get drunk.

When Dutch colonists first came to Albany in the mid-l7th century, beer was the drink of choice. After the English took over they brought their taste for rum with them. It proved to be a good item for the isolated Anglo-Dutch trading post that Albany was at the time. In the West Indies, slave labor harvested sugar cane, from which they extracted cane juice and refined it into molasses — the main ingredient in rum. Thus rum didn’t require cultivation of grain crops which resulted in a less expensive product to produce.

By mid-18th century rum became so plentiful, it was said that it was good as cash in Albany. Although described as rotgut, infused with the off-putting taste of sap leaching from pine fermentation vats, it was cheap and plentiful. The local rum worked quickly, too, to intoxicate Native Americans prior to trading sessions with Dutch colonists, who extracted better terms from beaver pelt-laden Indians when rum flowed freely compared to the dry days.

A journal account, belonging to general trader, Robert Sanders, a son-in-law of Peter Schuyler, describes Sanders purchasing from a customer by the name of Klock pelts of fox, eight raccoons and twenty-one beavers. In return Klock bought an iron pot and six gallons of rum.

In 1756, a British decree banned the operation of the rum distilleries inside the stockade at Albany. It seems the soldiers in garrison were getting drunk too often on the cheap local rum so they issued the prohibition. However, a resourceful Dutch distiller built two plants located just 100 yards outside the north gate of the stockade. The larger of the two measured sixty feet by thirty-six feet. It contained six large wooden fermentation vats, each eight feet wide and six feet tall with a 3000 gallon capacity.

Note: This is from Liberty Corridor – Chapter 21, #B

…G. William Glidden, Registered Historian, Assoc. of Public Historians

Meet the 2014 Outstanding Townshippers

The Townshippers’ Association is a non-profit, non-partisan community organization that has been serving the English-speaking community of the historical Eastern Townships, since 1979. The Outstanding Townshipper award honours individuals who have greatly impacted their communities through their volunteer work, outstanding leadership skills, and being all around positive role models.

This year’s well-deserved honours go to Kathryn Idell Pettes Crandall (Knowlton), Mary Lachasseur (Cowansville), Adelaide Lanktree (Farnham), and Louise Penny (Sutton).

With her evident love of community Adelaide Lanktree and her sister Louise (herself an Outstanding Townshipper) are known for their contributions towards the preservation and promotion of Anglophone heritage and have been among the finest examples of true voluntarism.

Adelaide is a member of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada, Sir John Johnson Centennial Branch [branch president, 2003 – 2007], the La Societe de restauration du patrimoine Johnson, whose mission is to restore the Sir John Johnson Family Burial Vault in Mont-Saint-Gregoire and she is involved with Farnham’s Comite du patrioine.

A prolific writer, Louise Penny has incorporated her “Three Pines” home into the 10 books she has written so far, which have been published in 25 languages, raising the profile of the Townships internationally. Louise has “found the soul of the Townships” in the hearts of the people that live here and has captured their passion and pride, stubbornness and resolve, the joy and determination.

Read the announcement for more details about all the recipients, along with photos and other details.

UELAC Magazine: The Loyalist Gazette

The UELAC publishes semi-annually the Loyalist Gazette periodical. It has always been printed and mailed to members and subscribers.

Over the last year the option of a digital version – e-magazine – has been developed. As was announced earlier in the year, the Spring edition was made available to members and subscribers. Unlike the printed version which has covers in colour but the remainder in b&w, almost all photos and some other graphics are in colour, which really brings them to life.

As a UELAC member or Gazette subscriber, you can still request the digital version of the Spring issue of the Loyalist gazette – just go to Request the Digital Version.

A policy to make digital issues generally available after one year has been implemented. NEW: You can now access the Loyalist Gazette, Vol. LI, No. 2: Fall 2013.

Once again we would appreciate any feedback to webmaster@uelac.org.

…Bob McBride, Editor, Loyalist Gazette

Where in the World?

Where are Daryl Currie and Joan Pollard?

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: Commemoration of Battle of Malcolm’s Mills

On October 22nd. 1814, some 650 mounted Kentucky and Ohio riflemen and 70 Western First Nations allies set out on a stealth foray deep into southwestern Upper Canada under the command of Brigadier General Duncan McArthur. Waging a crude and ruthless campaign across what is now southern Ontario, McArthur would eventually be met by a combined force of 400 members of the Oxford and Norfolk militia at Malcolm’s Mills on November 6th, 1814. The vicious battle that took place is primarily significant due to the fact it was the last battle fought on Canadian soil against any invading foreign power.

Please join the 56th Field Artillery Regiment RCA on November 6th. 2014 at 3:30pm in Oakland, for the 200th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Malcolm’s Mills. Participants in the parade will gather at the Oakland Community Centre prior to departing for the site where the commemoration will take place.

World War II: RCAF Memorial

Did any of the descendants of your United Empire Loyalist serve and lose their life with the RCAF during WWII? If so, their name may be among the more than 19,000 names remembered on the black granite “RCAF World War 11 Memorial” wall. The Memorial, more than 300 feet in length, was constructed at the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum located in Brandon, Manitoba. It was consecrated and unveiled on September 10, 2014. Read the CBC report with photos.

…Barb Andrew, SVP UELAC, Manitoba Branch

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • The book “Edward Jessup of West Farms, Westchester Co., New York, and his descendants” , written by Rev. Henry Griswold Jessup is now online in its entirety on the Open Library and it is searchable. submitted by Anne-Marie Jessup Adams, UE
  • Laura Secord scores a Google Doodle. Celebrating her 239th birthday on Saturday, it may well no longer be present at https://www.google.ca Get the graphic and a story at here.
  • This year’s Victoria Strait Expedition has solved one of Canada’s greatest mysteries, with the discovery of one of the two ships belonging to the Franklin Expedition lost in 1846. “Although we do not know yet whether the discovery is Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Erebus or HMS Terror, we do have enough information to confirm its authenticity. This find was confirmed on Sunday, September 7, 2014, using a remotely operated underwater vehicle recently acquired by Parks Canada.” says Prime Minister Stephen Harper. See more information at Canadian Geographic’s Franklin Expedition website.
  • Updating Early Modern Recipes (1600-1800) in a Modern Kitchen. This “Italian cheese” comes from UPenn MS Codex 876 (1780) and just under this recipe is one for “Cow Head Cheese” — containing not just “two Cow Heads” but also “two Calves Feet” plus “two Calves or Sheepe tongues.” Not your thing, try recipes in the right column for Shrewsbury Cakes and for Chery brandy.
  • Try something different for your flooring – not a carpet or rug, but a floor cloth. A two-day workshop about “how-to” at Fort Meigs in Perrysburgg Ohio on Nov 22-23.
  • The historic Banwell Road Black Cemetery, informally known as the “Smith Cemetery” because it’s the name most prominent on the headstones there, dates back to 1850. It is one of the 13 black cemeteries in the Windsor-Essex region. A group is pushing for a provincial heritage designation.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
– Golding, John – from Fran Rose
– Judd, William – from Lynda Beedham
– Kennedy, William – from Lynda Beedham
– McAlpine (Macalpine), John – from Fran Rose
– Stephens, Shadrach – from Lynda Beedham
– Stinson, James – from Linda Drake
– Stuart, William – from Linda Drake
– Tyler, William – from Lynda Beedham
– Younglove, Ezekiel – from Maralynn Wilkinson

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