“Loyalist Trails” 2015-05: February 1, 2015
In this issue:
– Children Escaping to Freedom, Part One: Dublin Fowler – by Stephen Davidson
– Maugerville Rebels: 125 Rebel, 13 Loyal (Part 1 of 2), by John Noble
– A Further Postscript to “Escaping from the Rebels”
– The Loyalist Refugee Experience in Canada, by Alexander Cain
– Where in the World?
– Region and Branch Bits
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
– Additions to the Loyalist Directory
– Last Post
+ Hugh Critchley, UE
+ Linda Susan Armbrust (née Harpwood), UE
+ Did Loyalist Log Houses Have a Cellar Hole?
+ What Happened to Jacobus (James) Van Alstine
Picture any child that you know who is between five and twelve years old. Put him or her back into the midst of the American Revolution, wearing homespun cloth, knee breeches and a tri-cornered hat or a long skirt and bonnet. Now imagine that child as an African slave of a patriot.
No one will rescue this child that you know. Slavery is an accepted institution within colonial society. Your best hope for this child is if he or she is part of a family. If his/her parents have discovered that the British crown will grant emancipation to any patriot’s slave in exchange for a year’s service to the crown, then this child has a chance at freedom. He or she only needs to run away with his/her parents and cross into British lines.
But what if that youngster is an orphan? Would a ten year-old child run away from his master on his own? Would a girl as young as eight years old risk recapture and punishment by making a midnight bolt for freedom? Surprisingly, the answer to both of these questions is yes. Black children did escape to freedom on their own, eventually finding new homes in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, the Bahamas, the United Kingdom and even the German states.
The stories of these runaways lie hidden in the Book of Negroes, a ledger commissioned by Sir Guy Carleton. Compiled in 1783 to document the names of thousands of African slaves, indentured servants, and free blacks who were leaving New York City, this ledger contains the all-too brief accounts of forty-seven amazing children. They were all twelve years old or younger, and they ran away to freedom.
Dublin Fowler was just nine years old when he escaped his master, a Mr Brisbane, in 1778. Dublin is the only child runaway listed in the Book of Negroes who had been enslaved in Georgia. His trip north to New York City, and his subsequent evacuation to the loyalist settlement at Port Roseway in Nova Scotia represent the longest journey made by any of the child runaways. The data listed next to the boy’s name in Carleton’s ledger is all too brief, but it gives us a glimpse into Dublin’s lost story.
Along with its Hessian allies and the New York Loyalists, the British army captured Savannah, Georgia on December 29, 1778. Seven months later, its royal governor was once again ruling the entire colony. The British army retained control of the city until 1782. Knowing that the British offered freedom to any black enslaved by patriots, Africans flocked to Savannah. Even though he was only nine, Dublin Fowler recognized his chance for emancipation and left his master.
The entry in the Book of Negroes for Dublin notes that he had a General Birch certificate. This was the document that declared that its bearer was a free man. Receiving his certificate when he was fourteen, the Georgian teenager would have clutched a paper bearing these words: “This is to Certify to whomever it may Concern that the Bearer hereof, Dublin Fowler, a Negro, resorted to the British Lines, in Consequence of the Proclamations of Sir William Howe & Sir Henry Clinton, late Commanders in Chief in America; and that the said Negro has hereby his Excellency Sir Guy Carleton’s Permission to go to Nova Scotia, or wherever else he may think proper.”
Birch certificates were given to Africans who served the crown after fleeing their rebel masters. During the five years between his escape and his boarding the Apollo for Port Roseway, Dublin made himself useful to the British forces. Perhaps he was a messenger for Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell’s troops that occupied Savannah or waited on an officer in the provincial (loyalist) regiment or was a drummer for the Hessian troops.
When the British finally evacuated Savannah in July of 1782, thirteen year-old Dublin went with them to New York. There, he would have continued in his earlier duties or found a new way to support himself until his loyalist evacuation ship left for Nova Scotia a year later. He was just one of eleven Black Loyalists aboard the Apollo on that voyage. Dublin’s fellow passengers would have noticed a fourteen year-old with “a scar over his nose”, but would they have ever guessed at all that he had endured since escaping his master when he was nine?. Unfortunately, the events of Dublin Fowler’s life in Nova Scotia are completely unknown.
But even this expansion of the notes in the Book of Negroes does not convey what it must have been like to be a child runaway seeking freedom during the American Revolution. Did they have reoccurring nightmares of being captured by their old masters? Did they mourn the loss of parents? Were they abused by those who took advantage of someone who was “nobody’s child”?
These are questions that cannot be answered with the information found in the brief entries in the Book of Negroes. Indeed, no single child’s story will capture all that such young runaways experienced during the American Revolution. However, by looking at the details that we have on forty-seven African children who bravely set out to be free, we can get a sense of their challenges and triumphs in the face of such overwhelming odds.
Next week’s Loyalist Trails will continue this series on a neglected part of Black Loyalist history, the child runaways of the American Revolution.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
Maugerville Rebels Claimed 125 Persons Signed their Resolutions Only 13 Opposed
Stephen Davidson’s third article about “Rebels on the Saint John River Valley” makes for interesting reading but it may considerably underestimate the initial support for the rebel cause along the Saint John River. Major Studholme’s report in 1783 came with the arrival of the Loyalists and six years after most of the Maugerville rebels had opted for the pardon extended by Arthur Gould in 1777. I offer some insights as to the initial strength of the rebels from three different sources.
William O. Raymond in his 1910 book, The River St. John, notes (pp. 214-215) that the rebel resolutions passed in Maugerville in May 1776 “were circulated among the settlers and signed by 120 persons, mostly heads of families. The committee claimed that only twelve or thirteen persons refused to sign, of whom the majority lived at the river’s mouth. Raymond says there is evidence to show that at least thirty families outside of those living in the township of Maugerville were steadfastly and consistently loyal to the government under which they lived. Raymond also notes that it is difficult to determine how many people were disposed to be actively loyal, but that bitter humiliation was in store for them and within a year the majority of those who had pledged themselves to the people of Massachusetts were compelled to take an oath of allegiance to His Majesty King George III., or leave the Country.”
Historian James Hannay, in The Maugerville Settlement 1763-1824, notes that “the rebel proceedings at Maugerville formed only a part of a general movement which was made about the same time all over Nova Scotia, by the settlers from New England, to remove the Province from under the authority of the British crown. In the latter part of 1776, Jonathan Eddy, a native of Norton, Mass., who had settled in Cumberland in 1763, made an attempt to capture Fort Cumberland, then held by a weak garrison under Col. Gorham. The people on the St. John River furnished a contingent of one captain, one lieutenant and twenty-five men for this enterprise. Hugh Quinton, William McKeene, Elijah Estabrooks, Edward Burpee, John Whitney, Benjamin Booby, Amasa Coy, Edward Price, John Pritchard, John Mitchell, Richard Parsons and Daniel Lovet were of this party, but I have not been able to ascertain the names of the others. Sixteen of the St. John Indians also joined Eddy. Upwards of one hundred residents of Cumberland took up arms under Eddy, but the attempt was a ludicrous failure”.
This committee drafted several resolutions which were passed by the meeting, the most important of which was “that it is our minds and desire to submit ourselves to the government of Massachusetts Bay, and that we are ready with our lives and fortunes to share with them the event of the present struggle for Liberty however God in His Providence may order it.” The meeting also voted “that we will have no dealings or connection with any person or persons for the future that shall refuse to enter into the foregoing or similar resolutions.”
Under this threat these resolutions were hawked around the country with a result which is thus stated by the rebel committee: — “If it be asked what proportion of the people signed the resolutions, it may be answered there is 125 signed and about 12 or 13 that have not, 9 of whom are at the river’s mouth.”
Hannay writes “I make up the roll of honor of those who refused to sign as follows: — William Hazen, Thomas Jenkins, James Simonds, Samuel Peabody, John Bradley, James White, William McKeene, Zebedee Ring, Peter Smith, Lewis Mitchill, …Darling, John Crabtree, John Hendrick, Zebulon Estey, Gervas Say, John Larlee, Joseph Howland, Thos. Jones and Benj. Atherton. (W.O Raymond has a longer list in his book cited above, including some Acadians).”
My thanks to Richard Poaps UE for mentioning the route taken by my fictitious Loyalists family in my Novel The Way Lies North (Ronsdale Press, 2007) on their trek from the Mohawk Valley to the shore of Lake Oneida, from whence Mohawk friends carried them by canoe to Carleton Island. The route I describe from the Mohawk River to Lake Oneida was well known to the Iroquois and to the English. It was part of a major water route used by the Five Nations (later Six) to carry furs to trade with the Dutch and English. There was one portage, known as the Oneida Carry, between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek, which was navigable by canoe to Lake Oneida. Between 1727 and 1756 England maintained fortifications along the Oneida Carry and Wood Creek and on Lake Oneida. The route was well enough known for “real life” Loyalists to have used it. Some years ago I read a traveller’s account that described the Oneida Carry as overrun by mosquitoes and poison ivy. However, I think our Loyalist ancestors often had difficulties worse than mosquitoes and poison ivy to contend with.
…Jean Rae Baxter UE
(Previous responses to this query were featured in issue 2015-#04.)
In the aftermath of General Burgoyne’s defeat at Saratoga, many Loyalists in the New York and Hampshire Grant regions chose to flee to the safety of Canada rather than face the prospects of poor treatment, forfeiture of property and imprisonment at the hands of local rebels. When loyalists left their communities and traveled north to Canada, they usually followed one of two routes. Loyalists from New York typically followed an overland route through Native American territory to Lake Ontario. Because much of the travel was along forest trails, Indian guides were essential. Unfortunately for many refugees, the route included passage through territory held by the Oneidas, allies of the Americans. Likewise, refugees had to avoid Continental and militia detachments that actively patrolled the region. Once clear of enemy territory, refugees crossed Lake Ontario at Oswego or followed the southern shore of the lake to the Niagara River. The trip along the Niagara was often difficult, especially in time of spring floods.
Those refugees from the Hampshire Grants usually followed a combined land and water route along Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River to Montreal. The roads followed were often muddy and in poor condition. Refugees could only use pack horses, ponies, or hand and horse carts for their belongings and provisions. Securing water transportation was critical to the flight north. While travelling on water, refugees were often forced to seek shelter on insect infested or low lying islands in the middle of Lake Champlain. Because of the difficulties of this combined land-water passage, loyalists were forced to travel in groups whose members could share the burden of carrying boats and provisions.
Published in the Journal of the American Revolution on Jan 26, 2015.
Where is Bicentennial Branch member Dominion President Bonnie Schepers?
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.
From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.
- Brian McConnell, UE of Nova Scotia Branch notes: My interest in Loyalist heritage has encouraged me to create a new website “Brian’s Loyalist History of Nova Scotia“. It includes seven historical articles I have prepared that include photos from visits to historical locations around Nova Scotia. There are links to my Facebook page “Loyalist History of Nova Scotia” which has over 480 likes, a new Twitter account and the Nova Scotia Branch of UELAC.
- The Central West Regional Meeting (South Western Ontario) will be held on April 18, 2015 in London. UELAC Senior VP Barb Andrews will be the featured speaker. Read the announcement letter (and agenda) to the CWR Branch Presidents.
- The Quebec Family History Society has organized Roots 2015, the largest English language international family history conference ever to be held in Quebec. In Montreal at McGill University on June 19-21 Read the details.
- Doris Ann Lemon UE is happy to announce her marriage on December 27, 2014, in Waterloo, to Robert G. Miller. Bob, who emigrated from north England, although not UE, shares a love of history.
- Finding Your Upper Canada Ancestors: A day-long workshop on the social and economic lives of the people who settled in Old Ontario before 1867. Saturday, 11 April 2015, North York Central Library in Toronto. Enjoy a full day of interesting lectures about the people who settled in Upper Canada and Canada West and how to find information about them. This workshop is being offered in collaboration with the Canadiana Department of the North York Central Library. More information.
- Colonial clothing and a wide variety of accessories is available from Loyalist Arms in Harrietsfield, NS. “I purchased a musket from them and found their service excellent” Brian McConnell UE
- In the aftermath of the December 1773 Destruction of the Tea, Boston and Massachusetts were oppressed by the Boston Port Act and other Parliamentary measures. The Patriots needed financial assistance from others, and received it. This August 1774 letter by Dr. Joseph Warren thanking the Town of Preston with a crisp description of the Patriots’ situation, strategy, and gratitude – like this phrase “Every Artifice that Hell can Suggest and Human Power Can Execute”. The power of rhetoric!
- Nova Scotia’s role in Book of Negroes series celebrated. One of Lawrence Hill’s first stops in researching The Book of Negroes was the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in Birchtown.
- Discover The Book of Negroes Historical Guide, presented by TD Canada.
- Opening this Spring, The Black Loyalist Heritage Site, located in Birchtown on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, shares the story of the Black Loyalists – some of the earliest Black settlers in Nova Scotia. In the late 18th century, Birchtown was the largest free Black community in British North America. It was the centre of the Black Loyalist experience and its founding represented a turning point in the history of persons of African descent in Canada.
As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
- Blakely, Chambers – volunteer Brian McConnell
- Butler, Col. John – volunteer Sandra McNamara
- Glover, Jacob – from Deborah Glover
- Jones, James – from Barbara de Groot with certificate application
- Secord, John Sr. – volunteer Sandra McNamara
Please help us build the directory by contributing more information for it. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions and guidance.
Hugh Logan Critchley of Edmonton Alberta, formerly of Lumsden, Saskatchewan, entered into the Kingdom of Heaven on January 18, 2015. Hugh was born in Lumsden, Saskatchewan the third son of Frances Critchley and Helen (Pugsley) Critchley who have passed away as have his two brothers Richard and John.
In 1964 he married Kathleen Edith Mills and they celebrated their 50th Anniversary July 31, 2014. They had two children Richard Hugh and Shannon Kathleen. He was a devoted husband and father. His wife and children are left to mourn his loss. He also has cousins in England, Halifax, California and British Columbia.
In 1968 Hugh left Saskatchewan for his years in Edmonton. He was employed as a Union Representative for the Canadian Brotherhood of Railway Transport and General Workers.
Hugh became a member of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada, Edmonton Branch in 2004 and received his U.E. Certificate a while later based on his Ancestor David Pugsley.
Service for Hugh was held on January 24, 2015 at St.John the Evangelist Anglican C hurch 11111 – 57 Ave. in Edmonton. Internment to follow at Rosehill Cemetary, Edmonton.
[Submitted by Betty Fladager U.E. & Earle Fladager]
It is with great sadness that the family announces the sudden passing of Linda Armbrust on Sunday January 25, 2015 in her 64th year. Beloved wife of Phillip Armbrust for over 44 years. Mother of Bobbi-Jo Armbrust and Billi-Jo Laflamme. Nana of Matthew and Hailey Laflamme. Daughter of Twila and the late Douglas Harpwood. Sister of Tom Harpwood, UE and Ron (Darlene) Harpwood, UE. Sister-in-law of Ray and Gloria Armbrust. Remembered with love by many nieces and nephews. She will be sadly missed by her mother and father-in-law, Edith and Don Leepart, as well as her aunt and uncle, Gloria and Peter Ursacki.
Linda worked at Niagara College for 34 years before retiring. She and Phil were the founders and owners of LA Tan for 18 years and Linda was the office administrator for Sparkles Dance Co. She was a member of the Business and Professional Womens Club and was a former Provincial President.
Rev. Valerie Kerr conducted the funeral service on Thursday, January 29th at J. J. PATTERSON & SONS FUNERAL RESIDENCE, Welland. Interment followed at Woodlawn Cemetery, Welland. Memorial contributions may be made to OneFoundation for Niagara Health System – Cardiac Care. On line memories and condolences at www.jjpatterson.ca. As a memorial tribute, a tree will be planted through The Niagara Woodlands Restoration Program.
Linda was a loyal member of Colonel John Butler Branch UELAC, She was very proud of her Loyalist ancestor Joseph Wardell having received her designation in 2014. Colonel John Butler Branch members extend their deepest sympathy to Linda’s family and especially to members Twila Harpwood, UE and her aunt Gloria Ursaki, UE.
Bev Craig UE, Col. John Butler Branch
One of our east coast readers, Chris Oakley, spends his spare time locating original Loyalist homesteads. Using a detector he unearths interesting relics. The items are catalogued and when the project is complete Chris will donate the relics to the Loyalist Museum in Beaver Harbour NB. The inventory list includes GPS coordinates, the relics, and paperwork with description, Loyalist, etc. You can view some of his work on his YouTube channel.
So here’s Chris’s question —
Do you folks know if Loyalist log homesteads included a cellar hole, or were built on the flat ground with floor beams?
I am trying to find out what happened to Jacobus (James) Van Alstine 1KRRNY who is reported to have “died in the war” 1778 probably at Montreal. His widow Lydia made a claim to Capt. Leake in 1783.
Were records of deaths of soldier kept? Is there a source eg. British army archives I can pursue?
Oh boy! James was officially returned in John Munro’s 1st battalion company in a roll ending 24Dec81. James’s wife Lydia was recorded as “Mrs” on an official return dated 25Aug81, and as a widow on an official return dated 24Sep81, which suggests he died somewhere within that date range. He may have been kept on the company roll either in error, or because he had been actively serving up till his death.
In any event, in fifty years of researching I have not found any detailed accounts of men’s deaths. Were detailed records kept? Not likely. Nor has any garrison cemetery been found in Montreal, or any of the lower Quebec garrison/refugee sites. There is a garrison cemetery that survived at Fort Ontario, Oswego and that has yielded a gravestone for one 2nd battalion KRR soldier. Note, just one single soldier.
From reviewing my material for you, I realize that the information I have published earlier that had been gleaned from family genealogy sources – to wit, that he died in 1782 – is incorrect. Those same family sources claimed his death occurred in Montreal; however, I don’t see a primary source confirming this.
The 1st battalion was in and about Montreal in 1781 as well as moving stores up and down the St. Lawrence River; however, unless James had been admitted to the garrison hospital in the city and died while there, there is no reason to think that he did not die in one of the outlying garrison towns or along the river.
AND, nota bene, James was returned as a 2nd battalion soldier from 1780-84! What does one conclude from this? Many 2Bn soldiers served in Munro’s 1Bn company, perhaps for training purposes, and that could put him at Coteau-du-Lac where Munro’s company was stationed. That’s considerably west of Montreal.
All this stuff is a big mystery when one wants to really nail down the facts. Sorry to disappoint.
…Gavin Watt, Honorary VP, UELAC