“Loyalist Trails” 2015-19: May 10, 2015

In this issue:
‘End of the Line’ for Dominion President Bonnie Schepers UE, 2013-15
1812 Glengarry Weekend / UEL Monument Re-Dedication
2015 Conference Loyalists Come West: Walking Tours in Victoria BC
History is Written by the (Loyalist) Victors, Part Four: Natives in Retreat, by Stephen Davidson
Terminology: “Indian” vs. “First Nations”
Portrait of Sir Guy Carleton
Have a Peek at the Digital Gazette
Where in the World is Barb Andrew?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
      + Arrival of Moses Doan in New Brunswick
      + Responses re Crossing the Niagara River


‘End of the Line’ for Dominion President Bonnie Schepers UE, 2013-15

As ‘The President’ nears her final station stop, Bonnie takes a moment to reflect on her term in leadership of the UELAC. Read the full article.

1812 Glengarry Weekend / UEL Monument Re-Dedication

Saturday May 23 & Sunday May 24, 2015, at the Bay of Quinte Branch’s Park, Adolphustown, ON.

Don’t miss this “once in a long time” event which includes a demonstration by the Loyalist Fifes & Drums, a tactical demonstration by the various 1812 troops and especially the Glengarry Light Infantry who stationed in the area towards the close of the War, a re-enactment of the wedding of Capt. James FitzGibbon (of Laura Secord fame), who was married at Adolphustown in 1814 and the re-dedication of the UEL Monument, the oldest monument to the Loyalists in Canada which underwent extensive restoration last year.

The original dedication of the UEL Monument in 1884 was a huge event. In 1956, the restored UEL cemetery at Adolphustown was rededicated with another big ceremony; see photo of Adelaide with then Premier Leslie Frost at the ceremony.

Saturday, May 23rd – Schedule

  • 10:00 am Grounds Open
  • 10:00 am Venders, Heritage Societies, etc open
  • 11:00 am Loyalist Fifes & Drums
  • 1:00 pm Period Tactical (including boats)
  • 3:00 pm Capt. James Fitzgibbon Wedding re-enactment
  • 4:00 pm Grounds close

Sunday, May 24th

  • 10:00 am Grounds open
  • 11:00 am Interdenominational Service
  • 1:00 pm Loyalist landing
  • 2:00 pm Re-dedication of the restored UEL Monument
  • 3:00 pm Refreshments following the Re-Dedication
  • 4:00 pm Grounds close

(Some events may be subject to change)

You are invited; Don’t miss it. look forward to seeing you there.

…Peter W. Johnson, UE, President, Bay of Quinte Branch

History is Written by the (Loyalist) Victors, Part Four: Natives in Retreat, by Stephen Davidson

With the arrival of nearly 50,000 loyalists in British North America following the American Revolution, the world of the eastern Aboriginal peoples was forever changed. The refugees’ urgent need for land completely overturned the agreements the British government had made with Natives prior to 1783 – agreements that had guaranteed Native possession of large parts of the continent.

In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the crown seized a large amount of Aboriginal land. Native people whose ancestors had lived on the land for thousands of years were put on the same footing as the loyal refugees who had just arrived in the eastern colonies: they would have to petition the government to be granted land. The fact that Nova Scotia abolished its office of superintendent of Indian Affairs after 1783 was proof that the colony no longer considered its Aboriginal people to be of any consequence.

Given that the loyalists numbered in the tens of thousands and that the Natives only numbered in the thousands, it was obvious that the Aboriginal peoples would never be major shareholders in the land of their ancestors. The loyalists were quick to occupy prime agricultural land, the best fishing harbours and all of the rivers where mills could be built. In the words of historian Arthur J. Ray, “Native groups suddenly found themselves swamped by an alien population with a voracious appetite for their land and fisheries and very little sympathy for their well being.”

In what would become Lower Canada, the crown had agreed that the “savages …shall be maintained in the lands that they inhabit”. Any lands granted to First Nations would revert to the crown if the Natives left them. But that was in 1760; twenty-three years later, 2,000 loyalists were in the colony. Suddenly all promises were subject to change.

Governor Frederick Haldimand needed land for the tide of refugees. He asked the Ojibwa, Algonquin and Ottawa peoples to give up some of their best land. In one case, a mere 300 “suits of clothing” were exchanged for land near Fort Niagara. In this way, most of the Aboriginal lands north of Lake Ontario were bartered away for European goods by 1788.

Three years later, Native land was relabeled as “waste lands of the crown”. Anyone who pledged loyalty to the British government could now settle on it. All others could be fined and forced off. From this point on, loyalists steadily occupied more and more Native land in Lower Canada. It was the Aboriginal peoples, historian Peter Baskerville noted, rather than the British who bore the burden of rewarding the loyalist refugees.

Because Upper Canada was within easy range of American raiders, keeping Natives happy was a crucial component of the colony’s defense strategy. Instead of outright seizure of Aboriginal land (the practice in the rest of British North America), the crown negotiated with the Ojibwa to acquire land for the desperate loyalist refugees. While this appears to be the result of agreements between equals, the representatives of the crown often told the Aboriginal chiefs that if they did not sell their land, loyalist squatters would claim it anyway. As A. J. Ray points out, the Ojibwa were “essentially retreating peacefully as the Loyalists advanced.”

This was the situation for the resident First Nations people of Upper Canada. Among the American Revolution’s refugees who poured into the colony were over 1,600 Aboriginal loyalists under the leadership of Joseph Brant. The colony became the sanctuary for Britain’s First Nations allies – members of the Oneida, Seneca, Onondaga, Mohawk, Cayuga and Tuscarora peoples.

Just as white and black loyalists settled in communities comprised of refugees from similar regiments or American colonies, the Aboriginal Loyalists also wanted to remain together. Ignoring the suggestion of occupying the Bay of Quinte area, Brant convinced the crown to grant his people land along the Grand River Valley. The “Haldimand tract” that they received gave the crown’s allies all of the land that fell within six miles of either side of the river—an area that encompassed 675,000 acres.

However, Joseph Brant’s actions thwarted what might have become an Aboriginal Loyalist colony. By 1787, the Natives had let 350,000 acres be sold, given or leased to white loyalist settlers. This concerned Upper Canada’s first lieutenant governor. John Graves Simcoe was afraid that Aboriginal land would be bought up and then sold for higher prices to new settlers. The year after Simcoe returned to England, the loyalists who made up Upper Canada’s executive council allowed the Six Nations to continue to grant or sell the lands they had been given by a grateful crown.

The final betrayal of the legal rights of Aboriginal peoples in Upper Canada came following the War of 1812. They were now no longer necessary for the military protection of the colony – and they were outnumbered by new immigrants. There was no reason to continue to fear an uprising from the Aboriginal people. American settlement in the frontier had pushed away Natives who might have rallied to the cause of the Ojibwa or Aboriginal Loyalists. Upper Canada’s First Nations were isolated, out-numbered, and played no strategic role. Little wonder then, that the rate of Aboriginal land surrender accelerated after 1818.

Colonial governments had no interest in protecting Aboriginal land, whether it was in the continent’s interior or along its Atlantic shores. Efforts to make farmers out of the Aboriginal hunters and trappers were never given the resources needed for a successful transition. Although the various British North American colonies did not want their First Nations to become a burden, they also did not want to put them on equal footing with loyalist settlers.

In 1811, Lt. Col. Joseph Gubbins noted the decline of the Native people when he arrived at the sight of an Aboriginal school in Sussex Vale, New Brunswick. Efforts to induce the Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik to abandon their nomadic hunting lifestyle “was not attended with good effect”. The British officer recognized that the colony’s caribou, moose and deer had “been either all destroyed or driven a great distance into the interior”. (Having to absorb 13,500 loyalists will do that to a wilderness.) Aboriginals who had been granted land usually sold it, often for rum.

Joseph Howe, the son of a loyalist refugee, looked into the plight of Nova Scotia’s Natives fifty years after the arrival of the loyalists. Once numbering around 3,000 in 1783, Howe’s survey showed that there were only 1,425 Mi’kmaq in the entire colony. He concluded that by the 1880s they would disappear entirely. Tribal extinction was not only possible; it was probable. The last of Newfoundland’s Beothuk people had died in 1820.

Fortunately, Howe was wrong. The fact that Canada’s eastern Aboriginal people are with us still is a dramatic testimony to their resilience in the face of overwhelming odds – odds that began with the loyalist refugees who flooded into what is now Canada.

Loyalist descendants and historians have often complained that historical accounts of the 18th century have not accurately portrayed the loyalists of the American Revolution. They have demanded that a fair and true history be made available to the general public. By the same token, loyalist descendants and historians should also encourage the writing of an objective and accurate history of the loyalists’ impact on Aboriginal peoples. Otherwise, loyalist history will also simply be a narrow and biased narrative written by the victors.

(For a further historical examination of Canada’s Native People, see Arthur J. Ray’s 1996 book, I Have Lived Here Since the World Began.)

Personal postscript: This is not a pleasant chapter in loyalist history, but it is important to acknowledge. My own ancestors were part of the loyalist land grab that took prime territory from Natives. In June of 1783, John and Hepzibeth Lyon were among the Connecticut loyalists who put up their tents on a traditional Mi’kmaw portage route on the St. John River. The refugees had been told that the local Natives were uneasy about the arrival of so many new settlers. Would the Natives attack the Connecticut refugees? The appearance of ten canoes at the mouth of Kingston Creek shortly after the loyalists’ arrival confirmed their worst fears. But then a Mi’kmaw man called out “We all one brother!” The Aboriginal people had brought moose meat to welcome the refugees to their land. It is unfortunate that the olive branch that the Mi’kmaq offered to the loyalists on that day was not reciprocated in the years that followed. The Mi’kmaq were pushed out of their hunting grounds along the lower St. John River, losing them to loyalists that included my own ancestors.

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

Terminology: “Indian” vs. “First Nations”

I would like to point out that the term “First Nations” is a new construct relating to Canada’s native Indian people and a term that many (Indians) including myself find distasteful. One cannot change certain words or terms that are in the history books just to appease one segment of modern society who believes they must be grammatically or politically correct at all times.

History itself has been unkind to the original inhabitants of the Americas, but history must be read today using the words, terms and phrases in which the history was recorded. We will lose even more of what occurred in the past if we continue to change things just to satisfy a few modern purists.

…Douglas Whitlow BA (Mohawk)

Portrait of Sir Guy Carleton

I recently won a printed version of a 1783 portrait of Guy Carleton. I thought I would share it a high resolution copy with readers of Loyalist Trails, should they want a portrait of the man. I believe he was 59 years old when this portrait was circulated, and showing a little male pattern baldness. See the portrait – be sure to zoom in to see the details (FYI the file is almost 2MB).

…David Raymont

Have a Peek at the Digital Gazette

Have you tried the digital version of the Spring Gazette? (For UELAC members and Loyalist Gazette subscribers only.) Compare it to the paper you copy have received in the post – colour throughout, print a page when you wish, file it and you know where it is, save on storage space – lots of reasons you might want to have a peek.

…The Publications Committee

Where in the World?

Where is Manitoba Branch member Barb Andrew?

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.

Region and Branch Bits

From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.

  • An invitation to the official dedication of the sculpture of Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock which arrived on the Brock University campus in March. This sculpture was made possible by the generous support of David S. Howes. To coincide with the dedication on Thursday, May 14th, there will be a celebration of Dave’s life in the David S. Howes theatre earlier in the morning. See the invitation for more information about the celebration on May 14. Please RSVP for the celebration of life by email to events@brocku.ca More information about the sculpture’s arrival in March can be found here. Christine Richard at Brock U.
  • Moore Family Reunion Saturday, June 20, 2015 at Norwich and District Museum, 89 Stover Street North, Norwich Ontario. A Reunion of descendants of Samuel Moore of Massachusetts and New Jersey, born 1630, and his great-grandson, Samuel Moore of New Jersey, born 1742, from across Canada and the USA. — Details at http://jaymoore.ca/reunion.html
  • Gov. Simcoe Branch UELAC (in Toronto) will run its annual day-bus trip on Sat. July 18. Our guide, Peter Brotherhood, will take us to sites between Cobourg and Trenton, including St Peter’s Heritage Cemetery in Cobourg, St George’s cemetery in Grafton, full lunch at the Grafton Village Inn, Proctor House in Brighton and the Canadian Air Force Museum in Trenton. Food, tickets, Peter’s commentary all included. Pick ups in west Toronto and North Central Toronto. See details. Questions and bookings to Doug Grant loyalist.trails@uelac.org

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Richard Brunton: An Artist of No Ordinary Character. This story of a British engraver-turned-soldier who defected during the American Revolution and became an itinerant American engraver, artist and criminal is a startling example of a deleterious life that left a beautiful legacy. (Published in the Journal of The American Revolution)
  • Welcome to the School of the Loyalist! On August 28, 29 & 30, 2015 the Bergen County Historical Society & the recreated 4th Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers will host a weekend of lectures, interpretation, workshops and living history like no other. The American Revolution can rightly be described as America’s first Civil War. The fledgling country was far from unanimous in its drive for independence, with hundreds of thousands of Americans wishing to maintain their allegiance to the British Crown. Bergen County boasted more Loyalists than any other in New Jersey, leading the state’s governor, William Livingston to declare in 1777 that it was “almost totally disaffected!” That is reflected here at the headquarters of the Bergen County Historical Society, Historic New Bridge Landing, the home of Loyalists John Zabriskie and Abraham Van Buskirk. David Moore UE is a guest lecturer “That Question of Loyalty; how and why some colonists decided to remain loyal to the King”
  • Black Loyalist lineage is world-wide. “We’re inviting everyone to come to Birchtown, walk on the roads where our forefathers walked, bring your grandchildren, help put faces to the names on our walls, and recognize the importance of having a history to tell your grandchildren so our story will never be forgotten.”
  • Who wore these vibrant cherry red pumps in the later years of the 18th century? The shoes are in the collection of the Moffatt-Ladd House, Portsmouth, NH. Several photos and comments.
  • There are individuals who collect and contribute to our history in various ways. In the Massachusetts Historical Society collection is a sword. “From W. Sturgis Bigelow, a sword said to have belonged to King George III, bought by Dr. Bigelow in London thirty years ago. The mountings of the sword are silver gilt, and show that it was probably part of a royal uniform, to be worn, however, in the character of a king, and not as honorary colonel or general of a foreign army.” Did it indeed belong to King George III?
  • Family Tree Knots: Am I Descended From a Loyalist? A question often asked in genealogy blogs.
  • and last but best, a Happy Mother’s Day to all you who are mothers – have a great day.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

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

  • Adams, Gideon – (volunteer Sandra McNamara)
  • Bowlby, Richard – (volunteer Sandra McNamara)
  • Diamond, Jacob Sr. – by Jack Diamond with certificate application
  • Merritt, Thomas Jr. – (volunteer Sandra McNamara)
  • Ruttan, Capt. Peter – (volunteer Sandra McNamara)

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


Arrival of Moses Doan in New Brunswick

My ancestor Moses Doan, his mother Rachel Tomlinson Doan and her parents Joseph and Margaret Tomlinson, plus other siblings of Rachel, were on the Camel when it sailed to New Brunswick from New York. They settled in Beaver Harbour, Charlotte County NB in September 1783. I seem to have no date when their ship arrived but as August 1783 is just before their settlement in Beaver Harbour in September, I would be interested to know if this is the actual sailing that they were on.

I really look forward to receiving the Newsletter and find the information most interesting.

Marny Howe, Perth, Western Australia

[Editor’s note: The List of Loyalist Ships thus far shows that the Camel sailed twice. The first arrived in New Brunswick in early June, and the second in Quebec City in August 12. Geography would suggest that the second sailing may not have stopped in New Brunswick, but perhaps that is a poor assumption. Can anyone shed further light on this question?]

Responses re Crossing the Niagara River

This query asked how the Loyalists and the Pennsylvania Dutch crossed the Niagara River. It elicited a number of responses.

This is getting better all the time. One said the fee was a shilling. One said oxen pulled the conestoga wagons by oxen and a paddle wheel. This has been an unexpected project and it has created lots of fun.

…Doris Lemon

I live very close to Niagara River. It certainly is possible that they could cross the river. There are points where river is only about 400 ft wide. They could cross to Grand Island and then cross from there across river. Decent weather would help. But the river has a current of about 10 to 12 mph, so they would have had to be fairly quick – it is only about 10 miles to the Falls from Gr. Island.

…Marian Miller John Butler Br., UEL

Greetings from Fort Erie. Take two aspirins and sit down, this is the truth. The Conestoga Wagons were so well built that they were waterproof. The early settlers would launch their wagons into Buffalo Creek which is the junction between the Niagara River and Lake Erie. The oxen would swim across the river pulling the wagons. The local customs collector reported at the time seeing 12 or 13 wagons in one group crossing the river.

I have the newspaper article in my file some where. They also had ferry service available, which was usually a barge with a pair of horses turning a paddle wheel.

…Bill Everett

My wife is a descendant of one of the families who crossed the Niagara coming from Lancaster. Her father was a Sider and her mother a Sherk. Her Sider ancestor, Jacob S(e)ider, apparently crossed the Niagara in 1788 with John Wenger and their families. In the book 200 years with the Siders, the authors state that, “in the summer of 1788, they spent two weeks building rafts which swimming horses could pull across the river.” (Read a one page extract.) My father-in-law, Ray Sider, told me that family lore had it that they swam their wagons across the river. He also told me that when he was a little boy, he and his brothers/cousins were playing in what was left of the family’s old log cabin and pulled a hand-written journal out of the ruins. One of his aunts took it from him and he never saw it again.

…George Chisholm UE, President, Oakville Historical Society

Here is an extract from the best document – Ferrying Niagara, by Tom Kennedy – on the ferry service I have seen, although other documents which suggest the ferry service is older are more compelling to me. If you are interested I can also send copies of records of wagons being used as rafts, babies on horses, etc.

I have been studying the year 1787, which is when a namesake of mine crossed the Niagara.

I have learned that there was a ferry operating between Black Rock (a famous landmark on what is now the American side of the river below Buffalo – where an International Railway Bridge crosses the river today), and Waterloo, a village about 1 mile North of the British fort at Fort Erie. A man named John Warren operated this ferry which could hold several horses or cows. While it is certain this ferry was operating during the entire Loyalist period, I have found a reference indicating it was operating even before the Revolutionary War. And this would make sense as there was a large amount of commercial traffic to and from the upper Great Lakes, and the portage was on what is now the American side of the river.

Since it was over 50 miles round trip to get from Fort Niagara to Fort Erie and then back to Niagara-on-the-Lake, or Butlersburg as it was called when the Loyalists first arrived, many would cross by canoe at Queenston, where there were always natives with canoes. Cows and horses would need to swim across the river here. Here a large, dependable back eddy prevented canoes and animals from being swept down river and out into Lake Ontario. Sometimes the horses carried babies in baskets on their back. I have also seen 2 references where amazed on-lookers witnessed Loyalists taking the wheels off of wagons to use them as rafts, but, in view of how noteworthy the occurrence seemed, this was likely quite uncommon.

By Spring 1787 Robert Hamilton had a contract to construct a ferry operation at Queenston. I believe it was operational by 1789, at which point the route of the portage was moved from the American side of the river to what is now the Canadian side. There is a good Pierre Burton book on this topic. And Fort Niagara was finally turned over to the Americans, as was required by the Treaty of Paris, around 1791.

…Tim Seburn