“Loyalist Trails” 2015-07: February 15, 2015

In this issue:
Children Escaping to Freedom, Part Three: I Will Survive – by Stephen Davidson
A Dutiful Soldier Misses the Battle, by Todd Braisted
Where in the World?
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
      + Response re Loyal American Regiment
      + Response re Loyalist Cellars
      + Charles Odell and Family
      + Jasper Morris and Family


Children Escaping to Freedom, Part Three: I Will Survive – by Stephen Davidson

Patience Freeman was eleven years old when she ran away from the man who had enslaved her in Virginia. For the next seven years, she found a way to make herself of service to the British army and was eventually granted a General Birch certificate. At age 18, she set sail for Port Roseway, Nova Scotia to begin life as a free woman.

William Winter was also just eleven when he escaped his master on John’s Island, South Carolina in 1779. He earned a General Musgrave certificate for his four years of work with the British forces. The certificate, which he carried on board his evacuation ship, the Aurora, declared him to be a free African. William was headed for Ostend, the Belgium port through which King George III’s Hessian mercenaries returned to their homes in the German states.

William Winter’s next eleven years of life were certainly going to be very different from the first eleven years that he had endured as a slave. He would be a free black man in a European state. But then, William had always been part of a very special group– a forgotten segment of the Black Loyalist diaspora. He, like forty-seven other children, had escaped slavery in the rebellious thirteen colonies by running away on his own.

Twenty-six of the children discussed in this series of articles had General Birch (or General Musgrave) certificates to verify their emancipation from slavery. The other runaways may also have had these personal declarations of independence.

The information recorded on each person in the Book of Negroes was not always uniformly recorded. Some entries for Black Loyalists included references to the Birch certificates, degrees of African ancestry, or detailed physical descriptions while others did not. But even if only slightly more than half of the children who escaped slavery at age 12 (or younger) had a certificate, it still illustrates a point. Those youngsters had to have served the crown for a minimum of a year to receive a Birch certificate. Most had served for five to three years. It was something that they had earned; it was not a gift from a kind British officer.

It is almost impossible to imagine how such young, vulnerable children could have survived the ordeal of escaping slavery and found a way to keep body and soul together during the revolution. Given “lemons”, the resourceful African youths found ways to make “lemonade.”

Some children indentured themselves to adults who could provide them with food, shelter, clothing and a trade. Although their indentures could last until the former slaves were twenty-one years of age, it should be noted that only a free person could enter into an indenture. It was a form of committed labour, but it was not slavery.

Peter, for example, fled his master when he was nine years old. He entered into an indenture contract with Robert Martin, a loyalist bound for Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Peter was 12 when he boarded the Grace; he would be 18 at the end of the indenture. In the intervening six years, he would be fed and clothed and would have learned a trade under his employer. Peter was making the best of limited options.

Although James Joseph had been born free in Maryland, he and his father joined the British army in 1777. The boy’s father died two years later when he was just eleven. James indentured himself to the captain of the Aurora. By 1783, when his name was written into Carleton’s ledger, James had already served four years of his seven-year indenture. Given that he was a sailor on a ship bound for the German states, one can only wonder what became of young Master Joseph.

The German states were just one of the many new homes for the forty-seven children who escaped slavery at such a tender age. William of South Carolina was bound for Spithead, near Portsmouth, England. Amie Orphan went to Port Mouton, Nova Scotia with loyalists who had been part of the British commissary service, while Simon disembarked in Halifax. Jack Johnson sailed on a transport ship to the Bahamas to begin life as a free person.

However, the majority of Black Loyalist orphans who were 12 and under when they escaped slavery found themselves in the largest loyalist refugee settlements. Nineteen made Port Roseway (Shelburne) their new home, seven went to the mouth of the St. John River, and five went to Annapolis Royal. Eleven children were on ships that dropped loyalists off in both Annapolis Royal and Parrtown, so we cannot be sure of their final settlement. Wherever they made their homes, they would have to continue to draw upon all of the wits and bravery that had made them such successful survivors during the American Revolution.

Never let it be said that children are helpless victims of war. As illustrated by the youngsters who fled to freedom when they were under thirteen years of age, a child can weather the loss of parents, familiar surroundings, and the violence of war. Within its sparse entries, the Book of Negroes demonstrates that there were at least forty-seven children who could prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that when the going got tough, the tough did indeed get going. One can only wonder how their descendants have fared in Canada, Germany, England, and the Bahamas since their departure from New York City in 1783.

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

A Dutiful Soldier Misses the Battle, by Todd Braisted

We sometimes use the phrase “in the right place at the right time” when describing the circumstances of someone’s good fortune. In war, the “right place” is often the place where the most important events were not happening. That sounds convoluted, but the case of George Shall will clarify the point.

Shall, a native of York, Pennsylvania, was a soldier in Colonel George Michael Swope’s Regiment of the Pennsylvania Flying Camp. The Flying Camp was a force formed in June 1776, so called because it was expected to be highly mobile in response to the British army’s ability to strike anywhere along the Atlantic coast. It was recruited from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, often from the ranks of militia units. Regiments of the Flying Camp participated in many of the actions around New York in August, September and October.

A critical part of the American defensive strategy was two fortifications, Fort Washington and Fort Lee, named after the two senior generals of their army. Fort Washington stood on the highest point in Manhattan, near the northern end of the island. Fort Lee was on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, diagonally just south of Fort Washington; together, it was hoped that the two would prevent British ships from passing up the river (Fort Washington and Fort Lee were located roughly where the George Washington Bridge stands today; although nothing remains of Fort Washington, Fort Lee is a historical park well worth visiting).

Read the remainder of the story, published by Journal of the American Revolution.

…Todd W. Braisted, HVP, UELAC

Where in the World?

Where are Gov. Simcoe Branch member Anne Neuman and her husband Danny?

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 Twittersphere and Beyond

  • An Account of the Commencement of Hostilities between Great Britain and America, in the province of Massachusetts Bay, by the Rev. Mr. William Gordon, of Roxbury, in a letter to a gentleman in England.
  • From various articles we sense that the Loyalist era public did enjoy beer, cider etc. Read about the Virginia Historical Society putting “History on tap” in conjunction with a local craft brewer and recipes from the collection.
  • A Rev War period tricorn hat found in a dump in New York City. Story and photos.
  • Who would have thought – a fire engine before the Rev War
  • This Valentine’s Day also marks 200 years of the ‘Special Relationship’ between the UK and US after the War of 1812. See coin issued. I wonder at the politics behind this one?
  • Did you send or receive a Valentine card/message  – odds are it was a positive message. Read a history of Valentine’s Day into the 19th century [interesting but you will have to register tor read the rest of the article. But all is not “lovely”  – this was new to me – A Brief History of the Vinegar Valentine.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:

  • Burlock, David – from Brian McConnell
  • Cain, William – from Floretta Wade
  • Collier, Peter – (volunteer Sandra McNamara)
  • Denike, Andrew – (volunteer Sandra McNamara)
  • Farrel, John – (volunteer Sandra McNamara)
  • Jones, Ebenezer – from Charlotte Moore with certificate application

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


Response re Loyal American Regiment

Further to your request in last week’s Loyalist Trails – “Where did the Loyalist American Regiment Disband?” – the following information comes from Esther Clark Wright’s book “The Loyalists of New Brunswick”: She says that the Loyal (not Loyalist) American Regiment was originally granted Block 12 on the Saint John River (exact location not specified) but it was rejected by them. Blocks with odd numbers were on the east side of the river and blocks with even numbers on the west side. Block 12 must have been up the river from Woodstock and Northampton as Block 8 was at Woodstock and Block 9 at Northampton.

On p. 207, Clark writes, “Men from the Loyal American Regiment claimed discovery of the Penniac, a tributary of the Nashwaak, and took up grants there.” Further on Wright discusses a large migration of disbanded troops to Upper Canada. She writes on page 214 “So many sergeants and corporals, not only of the Queen’s Rangers but also of the three battalions of the New Jersey Volunteers, the Loyal American Regiment, and others, can be identified, that the supposition of a large migration of privates is strengthened.” Further on the same page “The migration to Upper Canada was largely recruited, so far as can be ascertained, from three areas in New Brunswick, from the Miramichi, from Grand Lake, and from the Penniac. All three areas were marginal, and all still relatively undeveloped in comparison with other parts of the province.” On page 215 she writes “The Loyal Americans who had been exulted over the finding of the Penniac had been soon deceived as to the value of their discovery, and they, along with neighbours who had served in the Prince of Wales’ American Regiment, sought the new El Dorado.” (i.e. Upper Canada).

Trust this may be of some help and hopefully others may have further details.

John Noble, UE, Ottawa

Response re Loyalist Cellars

Here’s a further note in answer to the question “Did Loyalist Log Houses Have a Cellar Hole?” in the Feb. 1 issue of Loyalist Trails. One of the relatively few Loyalist houses to be scientifically excavated was the log cabin built at Richmond Hill north of Toronto by my great-great-great-great grandfather Captain James Fulton, UE, a Loyalist from New Hampshire and a veteran of the King’s American Dragoons.

James’s son-in-law (my great-great-great grandfather) Richard Vanderburgh, UE, later built a larger house on the foundations of the cabin. In the 1980s, it became necessary to move Richard’s house to make room for a parking garage (the house is now at 376 Church Street and is the headquarters of the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce; see here).

This made it possible for archaeologists to carry out a thorough excavation in 1987. In the process, the remains of Capt. Fulton’s house were uncovered. It had a stone foundation, but no cellar. For a report, see the article “Digging History: Excavations at the Fulton-Vanderburgh House in Richmond Hill, Ontario,” by Ronald F. Williamson, Martin S. Cooper, and Stephen C. Thomas, in Ontario History, Vol. LXXXVIII, no. 1 (Mar. 1996), pp. 3-30.

This doesn’t tell us anything about Loyalist houses in general, but it means we know of at least one Loyalist house in the Toronto area that did not have a cellar.

John McLeod

Charles Odell and Family

We are trying to find information on Charles Odell. Born in Dutchess New York and was granted land with his father Joseph Odell in Quebec (Odelltown AKA LaColle). He simple disappears from the record.

Charles’ father Joseph owned considerable property in New York before the Revolutionary War, which was taken during the war. He then went to Canada in 1793 and petitioned the Province of Lower Canada as follows: “the Memorial of Joseph Odell, formerly of Poughkeepsie, State of New York, in behalf of himself and Six Sons, Vis: — John, Joshua, Joseph, Junr., Jas., Chas., and Jacob, Humbly sheweth– That your Memorialist, having lost a very considerable Property, by the late American War during which he was from time to time taken from his home, and kept a close prisoner in jail frequently for days together, denied even Water to drink, and otherwise very ill treated…not having received Lands or other compensation for his Losses; humbly prays Your Excellency will be pleased to grant him, in the Townshop of Hemmingford, a lot for himself, and one for each of his sons…” He received land from Government in Lacolle, P.Q., in Feb, 1795. In 1802, he received Lot #169.

Joseph Odell and Martha Manning had the following children:

  • John Odell+1 b. 19 Feb 1758, d. 27 Dec 1812
  • Joshua Odell+1 b. 1 Sep 1759, d. 2 Aug 1842
  • Joseph Odell+1 b. 7 Nov 1761, d. 30 Mar 1824
  • James Odell+1 b. s 1763
  • Sarah Odell+1 b. c 1765, d. 26 Sep 1836
  • Charles Odell+1 b. s 1767
  • Jacob Odell1 b. a 1768
  • Martha Odell1 b. a 1768
  • Eve Odell1 b. a 1768

Charles Odell

  • Father: Joseph Odell b. 1735, d. 1819
  • Mother: Martha Manning b. c 1738, d. 1806
  • Charles Odell was born say 1767 at Charlotte Precinct, near Poughkeepsie, Dutchess Co., New York.
  • Charles Odell took the Oath of Allegiance to Canada at Mississquoi Bay on 5 May 1795.
  • Charles Odell was “praying for land in Hemmingford”, 28 Jul 1795, again 22 Nov 1797, and received a grant 3 Mar 1799 for lot no.176 in Hemmingford. On 30 Mar 1799, Charles Odell conveyed to James Woolwich lot no.176, executed at the home of John Odell, witnessed by Simon Zelotes Watson.

Charles and his wife (unknown) had one known child

Any additional information about Charles and his family (descendants) would be much appreciated.

Neal Shaw, UE

Jasper Morris and Family

Jasper Morris as a son of William Morris of Dublin or Tipperary and Margaret Prendergast. Jasper was born in 1796 in Ireland and immigrated to Canada about 1825. He died Jan 16,1866 in l’Anse de Beaufils, Co Gaspe, Quebec.

Jasper married Jane O’Neil, also listed as Johanna, Oct 3, 1827 in Perce, Co. Gaspe, Quebec. He died on 16 Jan 1866 in L’Anse a Beaufils, Co. Gaspe, Quebec. He married JANE O’NEIL on 03 Oct 1827 in Perce, Co. She was the daughter of Denis O’Neil and Julie Collins. She was born in 1806. She died on 09 Jul 1882 in L’Anse a Beaufils, Co. Gaspe.

Jasper received a land grant of 200 acres 6 of which was on the sea at Cap Beaufils. His infant son Jasper is buried with him. Jasper Morris and Jane O’Neil had the following children:

  • MARGARET MORRIS was born on 02 Sep 1828 in Anse a Beaufils, Co. Gaspe; died on 20 Sep 1913 in Alpena, MI. She married PHILIPPE POIRIER on 03 Oct 1848 in Perce;
  • WILLIAM MORRIS was born on 17 Jul 1830; He died there on 06 May 1902 in Anse a Beaufils, Co. Gaspe, Quebec. He married MARGUERITE WALL on 07 Jan 1857 in L’Anse-a-Beaufils;
  • DENYS MORRIS was born on 16 Mar 1832; died in Little Pabos, Co. Gaspe. He married HELEN MCNEIL on 14 Apr 1857 in Grande Riviere, Co. Gaspe;
  • JUDITH MORRIS was born on 22 Jun 1833 married JOHN POTVIN on 08 Apr 1861 in St. Joseph de Cap d’Espoir;
  • JAMES MORRIS was born on 29 Mar 1836; died on 18 Aug 1864; married OLIVE LEMOIGNON on 20 Jan 1863 in Grande Riviere;
  • MARY MORRIS was born on 07 Feb 1838; died on 22 Aug 1915 in Newport; married JAMES JESSOP on 09 Feb 1858 in Perce;
  • JASPER MORRIS was born on 26 Apr 1840; died on 28 Apr 1840
  • JOANNA MORRIS was born on 26 Dec 1841;
  • ANNIE MORRIS was born in 1843; died on 02 Feb 1871 in St. Joseph Cemetery, Cap d”Espoire, Que. She married JEAN COUTURE on 26 Jan 1863 in Perce;
  • JASPER MORRIS was born on 04 Apr 1844 in Perce, Co. Gaspe, Quebec. He died on 02 Mar 1909 in Cap d’ Espoir, Co. Gaspe. He married HELENE BOURDAGES on 13 Jan 1874 in St. Joseph Parish, Cap d’Espoir.

We are most interested in finding out how (why) he arrived in Gaspe. Rather a distant chance that his father was UEL but wondered if someone may have found more in their researching families and history of the area

Peter Flemming & Norma Mary Morris