“Loyalist Trails” 2015-12: March 22, 2015
In this issue:
– 2015 Conference Loyalists Come West: Northwest Coastal People
– The Piecing Together of John Ford’s Life (Part One), by Stephen Davidson
– Fear God, Honour The King: Bishop Charles Inglis, Loyalist (Part 2)
– A Loyalist and 71st anniversary of the Great Escape
– The Loyalist Collection at Brock University Going Digital
– “Branching Out” Reports from the Loyalist Gazette Fall 2014
– Loyalist Quarterly by Paul Bunnell: March 2015 Issue Now Available
– Digital Gazette: Order Your Spring 2015 Now
– Where in the World is Carl Stymiest?
– Region and Branch Bits
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
– Additions to the Loyalist Directory
– Last Post: Blanche Lillian Klim (née Drummond), UE
+ Who Aided and Abetted William Lyon Mackenzie?
Read the details for Loyalists Come West – the 2015 UELAC Conference in Victoria BC May 28-30, 2015.
Northwest Coastal People: Their Culture and their Art in the British Columbia Museum
“When you’ve reached the edge / of your world, ours begins.”
During your visit to the Pacific Northwest Coast, Conference 2015 attendees will unquestionably see examples of Aboriginal Art. In the Parks within the city of Victoria and Oak Bay or alongside the coastal highways and small communities, one will find stately towering Totems; some ancient or weather-worn, yet others fresh and colourful, carefully and painstakingly carved from cedar. The Pacific Northwest Coast has numerous exhibits. Not far from our Conference Hotel, attendees have another “MUST SEE” stopover, the British Columbia Museum in Victoria, BC, and just around the corner one can find Beaconhill Park.
Read the description – these things look great. Don’t miss.
…2015 Conference Planning Committee Victoria BC
Sometimes just a passing phrase can catapult a loyalist historian into a research project. A February 25, 1861 article in the Morning News retold the story of a fire that swept through Parrtown (Saint John, New Brunswick) in 1784. Among the loyalists that fought the “great conflagration” was John Ford. While flames levelled most of the refugee settlement, Ford’s house on Elliot Row remained untouched. “It was not saved by water,” ran the account, “but by deep trenches which were dug around it.”
What you are about to read is the story of how a few simple questions (and a trust in the resources of the internet) launched a quest to learn more about one very resourceful refugee. Who was John Ford, the loyalist who dug a trench? Is this all that is known of his life? Where did he come from and what became of him?
The best place to start whenever one is trying to piece together a person’s life is to interview the subject himself. In the case of John Ford, we can still hear his voice in the petition he made to the board that compensated loyalists for their losses during the American Revolution.
On November 16, 1786 – two years after the fire – John Ford stood before the British commissioner who was charged with awarding financial compensation to loyalists. Ford had travelled fifteen miles from his new home on the Kennebecasis River to the hearings in Saint John. According to the transcripts, Ford described himself as being a native of New Jersey and a resident of Perth Amboy at the outbreak of the revolution. Because he refused to join the rebels on a number of occasions, Ford had to make many appearances before the local patriot committee. Although a number of his neighbours bowed to rebel persuasion, Ford never signed an oath of support and “always opposed them”.
Ford testified that he stayed at home until Washington’s army defeated the Hessian mercenaries at Trenton in December 1776. He fled from the triumphant rebels, never to see his home again. For the remainder of the revolution, Ford served in the British engineering department while his family found sanctuary on Staten Island.
Ford’s list of lost land and belongings included a “quantity of leather” used in his tanning shop and deeds for land that had been in his family since 1746, as well as furniture and livestock that were plundered by both British and rebel troops. The only witness called to corroborate Ford’s claims was Stephen Kent. The men were obviously close friends. In the same news article that described Ford’s trench digging, we find that Stephen Kent and Ford “owned and occupied” the house that was saved from the fire.
Another good source for piecing together a loyal American’s life is the collection of loyalist biographies published by Lorenzo Sabine. In addition to what Ford testified in 1786, Sabine notes that Sir Guy Carleton had commissioned the New Jersey tanner to “take charge of a company of Loyalists who were emigrating from New York to Nova Scotia.” Ford “removed to Hampton, and became one of the best farmers in that Colony.”
Ford was not the only loyalist to abandon the grant that he had been given in Parrtown. According to the 1861 newspaper article found in the online resources of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, the 1784 conflagration forced a number of refugees to seek new homes.
“Shortly after this event, a large number of loyalists who had drawn lots in the city and on which they had built log houses, now destroyed, moved into the country and took farms, some to Little River, others to the Long Reach, Belleisle Bay and the Kennebecasis.
Many of the old 42nd Highlanders who came here with the Loyalists, had drawn lots on the line of Union St. running eastwardly . . . had erected houses thereon. The fire destroyed them all. They resolved to stick together and hew out a home for themselves and little ones in some other part of the province. Those homes were eventually established on the Nashwaak (York Co.)”
But we digress.
To return to John Ford, fragments of his life story can also be found in an 1891 edition of the Daily Sun. There, a reporter tells the story of an heirloom that was in the possession of Caleb McCready, a grandson of John Ford. McCready had a “horse pistol” that had a date stamped on it that indicated that it was over 150 years old (made in the 1740s). The pistol, which had always been in the family, was one foot and seven inches in length.
The article went on to say that Ford “together with a large number of others” settled in the parish of Upham, and purchased all of French Village. In his testimony before the compensation board, the modest Ford had failed to mention that he had not only led loyalists to the St. John River, but had been their leader in settling the Hampton area.
And how did Ford fare in his village on the Kennebecasis River? An 1893 Daily Sun article that recounted the history of St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Hampton. In that article, the epitaph of Ford’s tombstone is recorded: “Sacred to the memory of Captain John Ford who departed this life on the 23rd day of February in the year of our Lord 1823 and the 77th year of his age. He was born in November 1746 in the colony of New Jersey and out of loyalty to his king in 1777 abandoned all his possessions, and in 1783 emigrated to this province which was then a wilderness.”
And so we have the story of John Ford. Thanks to the resources available online and a little elbow grease, it wasn’t too difficult to piece together a biography of this loyalist, the man who dug a trench.
But was this initial search an exhaustive one? What of the Ford family? Who were his wife and children? Who were the descendants who inherited his pistol? What caused the fire of 1784? These questions and more will be answered in next week’s Loyalist Trails.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
By Brian McConnell, UE
Extract from Charles Inglis loyalist pamphlet:
The True Interest of America
I THINK IT NO DIFFICULT MATTER to point out many advantages which will certainly attend our reconciliation and connection with Great Britain…
By reconciliation with Britain, a period would be put to the present calamitous war, by which so many lives have been lost, and so many more must be lost if it continues…
By a reconciliation with Great Britain, peace – that fairest offspring and gift of heaven – will be restored. In one respect peace is like health – we do not sufficiently know its value but by its absence…
Agriculture, commerce, and industry would resume their wonted vigor…
By a connection with Britain, our trade would still have the protection of the greatest naval power in the world….Past experience shows that Great Britain is able to defend our commerce and our coasts; and we have no reason to doubt of her being able to do so for the future.
The protection of our trade, while connected with Britain, will not cost us a fiftieth part of what it must cost were we ourselves to raise a naval force sufficient for the purpose.
While connected with Great Britain, we have a bounty on almost every article of exportation; and we may be better supplied with goods by her than we could elsewhere….The manufactures of Great Britain confessedly surpass any in the world, particularly those in every kind of metal, which we want most; and no country can afford linens and woolens of equal qualify cheaper…
These advantages are not imaginary but real….
The American are property Britons. They have the manners, habits, and ideas of Britons; and have been
accustomed to a similar form of government. But Britons never could bear the extremes, either of monarchy or republicanism. Some of their kings have aimed at despotism, but always failed. Repeated efforts have been made toward democracy, and they equally failed. Once, indeed, republicanism triumphed over the constitution; the despotism of one person ensued; both were finally expelled. The inhabitants of Great Britain were quite anxious for the restoration of royalty in 1660 as they were for its expulsion in 1642, and for some succeeding years. If we may judge of future events by past transactions, in similar circumstances, this would most probably be the case of America were a republican form of government adopted in our present ferment.
However distant humanity many wish the period, yet, in the rotation of human affairs, a period may arrive when (both countries being prepared for it) some terrible disaster, some dreaded convulsion in Great Britain may transfer the seat of empire to this Western Hemisphere – where the British constitution, like the Phoenix from its parent’s ashes, shall rise with youthful vigor and shine with redoubled spendor.
But if America should now mistake her real interest…they will infallibly destroy this smiling prospect. They will dismember this happy country, make it a scene of blood and slaughter, and entail wretchedness and misery on millions yet unborn.
(Continued next week.)
While we were visiting our daughter in mid-February, she took us to the National Air Force Museum of Canada at CFB Trenton. The museum had an extensive display on the Great Escape.
76 P.O.W.s escaped from Stalag Luft III which was a Luftwaffe-run prisoner-of-war camp that housed captured air force servicemen. It was in Lower Silesia near the town of Sagan (Zagan in Poland), 160 km southeast of Berlin. This “officers-only” camp was selected because it would be difficult to escape by tunnelling. Of the 76 POWa who escaped, 73 were eventually recaptured. Infuriated by this, Hitler ordered the execution of 50 of the escapees. The story of the Great Escape was later made into a movie in 1963.
The National Air Force Museum has quite a large exhibit dedicated to the story of the Great Escape, citing Canadians who took part in the venture. Imagine my surprise when I came across this information in the display:
Alfred Thomas, born in 1915, was a descendant of United Empire Loyalists who had come to southern Ontario in the early 1800s. His grandfather moved to Penetanguishene and was the town’s first mayor. Flying had fascinated young Alfred long before the war and in 1936 he applied to the RAF for pilot training. Joining 102 Squadron, he was assigned to drop propaganda leaflets over Berlin on 8 September 1939. When he was shot down and taken prisoner, he became Canada’s first POW, ironically at a time when Canada had not yet declared war. As a result, he spent the entire duration of the war in various German camps. Following the war, Alfred studied law, became a lawyer and later Crown Attorney. He passed away in August 1985.
…Stephen Davidson, UE
The Directors of the Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University offer sincere thanks to the UELAC for their continuing support for the Loyalist Collection at Brock University. The Directors have been searching for a significant purchase to commemorate the Association’s 100th Anniversary. With Library and Archives Canada’s efforts at digitizing its large microfilm collection and making the content available online, purchasing unique Loyalist microfilm is becoming increasingly difficult. The Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University have come up with an alternative means for making Loyalist materials readily available to researchers. The Friends are investigating the possibility of funding the digitization and microfilming of Loyalist archival collections that are otherwise unavailable in these formats. We still believe in the long term preservation benefits that microfilm provides. Yet, we also understand that digitization will make such records accessible at a global scale. We want to make new collections available in the short term and long term.
Our intended pilot project for this venture will be the filming and digitization of Brock’s newly acquired Woodruff/Band family papers. This significant collection has been in the William Woodruff family for generations and dates from the late 1700s to the 1960s and features UEL families such as Clement, Nelles, Hamilton, Merritt and more. Members of the families have been involved in the War of 1812, the building of the Welland Canal, federal /provincial/municipal politics, militias, railroads, and the World Wars. The collection was passed down for generations through the Woodruff/Band family. Robert Band, the last caretaker of the collection, was a bachelor who spent sixty years adding to the collection and keeping it well organized. We are very enthusiastic about this new microfilming/digitization project and will notify you as soon as this new digitization project is available for research.
…Bev Craig, UE
Even as the UELAC approaches its 101st anniversary, a quick access to past reports of branch activities and personalities continues. Starting in 2010 the posting to the dominion website of the Branching Out reports (now called Branch News Highlights) have proven to be of interest to potential and new members. This resource was considerably helpful in the development of individual branch histories for Loyally Yours – 100 Years of The UELAC, published in May 2014.
Thirteen Branching Out reports from 2014 fall issue of The Loyalist Gazette have now been transcribed and posted to Branches of the UELAC. Thus each report continues to be a part of a much richer history of our association.
The latest issue of the only U.S. journal devoted to Loyalist studies contains, among others, these topics:
- Natives in Loyalist Eliz Simcoe’s Diary
- Loyalists Come West
- UELAC Branch Locations in Canada
- Genealogy Road Show – Loyalist
- The Black Loyalist Heritage Centre
- American Revolution in the Mohawk Valley
- New England Regional Genealogical Conference
- Battle of Long Island
- Some Famous Loyalists
More information including subscription details ($21 U.S. & $24 Can./yr) at Paul J. Bunnell’s website.
…Paul J. Bunnell, UE, Editor/Author
People who are paid-up members and Gazette subscribers can now register for the digital copy of the Spring 2015 issue (and get access to the Fall 2014 issue in the same place). Each request is processed at Dominion Office (to check that the requirements are met) before the access details are returned (the office is open Tues, Wed, Thurs).
Those who received access last year will need to reapply, as the address and password are new.
We hope you will enjoy this year’s issues of the Loyalist Gazette – in digital full colour.
Where is Vancouver Branch member Carl Stymiest?
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.
- You can now read the full article, “The Journey Of A Lifetime: The True Story Of Israel And Sarah (Harris) Harding, UEL,” by Carol Harding. It is part of the Loyalist Directory record for Israel.
- Virginia’s 1773 halfpenny was used extensively in Williamsburg, where more than 100 specimens have been recovered from archaeological digs. Read about the coin.
- 10 Disabled British Pensioners. British soldiers could get pensions if they served well and survived their ordeals; in fact, it was just about the only profession that offered a pension during the 18th century. A board of examiners recorded the name, age, place of birth, trade and length of service of each pension applicant. In addition to these demographic details, they recorded the infirmity that prevented the man from earning his own living, thereby making him a worthy candidate for government support. Reading through these lists, we find a broad array of maladies induced by military service: rheumatic, lost the use of his hand, dropsical, asthmatic, sore legs, lost his sight, fits, and a host of other ailments including the catchall “worn out.” Fewer than half of the men who served in America eventually applied for pensions (often long after the war due to lengthy military service), but these pension board ledgers are often the only source of personal data that we have. Journal of the American Revolution.
- Women of the Revolution. Could the war have been won without women? Author and Professor Holly Mayer thinks not. Learn more about the inner workings of the Continental Army. Colonial Williamsburg.
- Historians ponder future of Revolutionary War relic. When it was built late in 1776 the gunboat Spitfire wasn’t meant to be the pride of the American fleet. It was built to fight and fight it did, helping slow down the larger British fleet that sailed south out of Canada onto Lake Champlain as part of an effort to crush the colonial rebellion. The 54-foot Spitfire sank a day after the critical Oct. 11 Battle of Valcour Island, settling into deep water where it went unseen for more than 200 years. Read more
- The statue for Gen. Brock was installed at Brock University in St Catharines this week. The details and photos
- A photo gallery and a description of Royal visits to George Washington’s Mount Vernon since 1860
As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
- Bolton, Abraham – (volunteer Sandra McNamara)
- Campbell, Oliver – (volunteer Sandra McNamara)
- Fenton, Richard – from Bob Rogers with certificate application
- German, John Sr. – from Bev Craig with certificate application
- Harding, Israel – from Carol Harding
- Kent, Rachel – from Fran Ros
- Purdy, Gabriel – from Grietje (Purdy) McBride
- Underhill, William – from Fran Rose
- Wright, Henry – from Ruth Nicholson
Please help us build the directory by contributing more information for it. Contact email@example.com for instructions and guidance.
The Lord called Blanche home on Thursday, March 12, 2015 in her 93rd year. Beloved wife of the late Alexander (2010).She will be dearly missed by her children Beverly Benson and David Klim (Rhonda). Predeceased by her daughter Carol Meyer (Harry). Loved dearly by her grandchildren Jane (Andrew), Suzanne (Paul), Mark (Elizabeth), Mathew (Erin), Graeme, Evan and Elaine and great-grandchildren Alexandria, Taylor, Jayme, Abigail, Keira, Chloe, Luca, Felicity and Chelsey.
The funeral service was held at STONEHOUSE-WHITCOMB FUNERAL HOME, Grimsby with a private family interment at Lane Cemetery, St. Ann’s. Blanche’s desire was that donations be made to the Gideons.
Blanche was a former member of Hamilton Branch UELAC and Membership co-chair Gloria Oakes kept in touch with her over the years. Their husbands were Wentworth County school teachers in the late 40’s and 50’s. Alexander was one of the few principals with a BA and Lloyd travelled between schools teaching music.
Blanche was very proud of her Loyalist ancestor Archibald Thomson.
…Bev Craig, UE, Col. John Butler Branch
As most of readers Loyalist undoubtedly know, the Rebellion in Upper Canada was a dismal failure. When the rebels were routed at Montgomery’s Tavern in December of 1837, their leader, William Lyon Mackenzie fled for his life. For five days (four nights) he headed west and south, around the “head of the Lake” and Dundas, then east to the Niagara river and ultimately crossed the frontier to safety in Buffalo.
My current line of research is to describe in as much detail as possible, the route he took (on foot and on horseback), and to identify all the persons he encountered, many of whom aided him at the risk of their own lives. Thus far I have reasonably identified at least 30 different persons or families that helped him, at least two of them with U.E. Loyalist roots:
Thomas Hardy, who, on the afternoon of Sunday December 10, gave Mackenzie food and safe shelter at his home – in the village of Streetsville. Writing in 1853 (almost 16 years later), Mackenzie described him:
“Mr. Hardy is [i.e., in 1853] a large landowner up in Dereham, and was chairman of the county committee that nominated Mr. [Francis] Hincks in 1851 for Oxford. His views of the times [i.e,. in 1837] I knew nothing of; he … was the son of John Hardy a U.E. loyalist, and had become an Orangeman at the Deep Cut in 1824. I believed him good hearted, and being so worn out with fatigue as almost to be asleep on my feet, gladly accepted a bed on which rested for some four hours.”
To date, I have not discovered the exact location of his house in Streetsville, his occupation, or his political views, save that with no advance notice whatever, he gave sanctuary a few hours to a rebel with a price on his head.
William Current, who, in the very early hours of Monday morning, December 11, his aid enlisted by John Wilson (very possibly his brother-in-law), sheltered Mackenzie. (The farms in Crowland are, for Current, Lot 2, Con 7 and for Wilson, Lot 8, Con 5). Of Current, the UEL website “Information on the Loyalists”identifies a William Current who settled in Crowland in 1796, presumably the father of this William Current. The two neighbours, Current and Wilson, took Mackenzie (and his companion for this final portion of the journey, Samuel Chandler) by sleigh at night across to the Niagara river, where an old friend of Mackenzie, Samuel McAffee, rowed the two fugitives across to Grand Island.
Among the many persons who Mackenzie encountered and whom he names are, but about whom, to date, very little is known, are:
- John Wilson of Crowland – referred to above
- “Old mister Connoyer” of Trafalgar who, for a period on on the afternoon of Friday, December 8, along Dundas Street west of Trafalgar, rode behind Mackenzie (at that time in a wagon) as a guard.
- Elijah Barns, young nephew of brothers David Ghent and George Ghent of Burlington, who late afternoon on Saturday, December 9, guided Mackenzie on a path between the George Ghent farm and the farm of Charles King.
All three of these readily assisted Mackenzie on his way. There were two men, however, whom Mackenzie knew well enough to name in his later narrative, who, after giving the fugitive directions to as to the road to Streetsville, betrayed him to a government guard. Government troops gave chase late Sunday morning, December 11, but Mackenzie managed to evade capture. The two men, farmers in or near South Grimsby, are identified only as “Kerr and Sidey.” If their farms could be located, Mackenzie’s escape route that morning could be ascertained. Mackenzie’s narrative suggests that the two men were “getting ready to go to church,” a church Mackenzie called “Mr. Eastman’s,” that is, the Rev. David W. Eastman, minister of St. John’s Presbyterian church in Grimsby.
If any readers of Loyalist Trails know more about any of these “missing” persons – or, indeed, any person known to have either assisted Mackenzie, or tried to capture Mackenzie, on his perilous, but successful, flight to freedom, I would be most grateful to hear from them. If I can assist in providing more information, I will, of course, happily do so.