“Loyalist Trails” 2015-49: December 6, 2015
In this issue:
– Conference 2016: Lobster Tales
– A Quaker Connection to Loyalist Women, by Stephen Davidson
– William Rankin: Does The Oath of Secrecy Hide the Story?
– All in the Family: Quakers, Loyalists and Rebels
– Borealia: Making Home, Writing Home: Letters, Diaries, and Self-Fashioning
– JAR: How has your perspective changed?
– Canada & the American Revolution
– Region and Branch Bits
– Where in the World?
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
– World War I Casualty: Isaac Maracle
+ How Did Loyalists Settle Up-River from Montreal?
– Last Post
+ Irma E. Clarke, UE
+ John Henry Crysdale, UE
+ Lois Dickinson, UE
The 2016 UELAC Conference in Summerside PEI will be hosted by the Branches of the Atlantic Region: Abegweit, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on July 7-10. New information about the conference is now available – read here.
Ye Olde Loyalist Lore From PEI: Lobster Tales
Lobsters keep growing forever or so research suggests, but our scientists aren’t able to tell how long lobsters really live because lobster traps aren’t designed to catch the largest lobsters. “When we catch a lobster that is 20-30 lbs, it’s because one of his claws got caught in the entrance of the trap” relates a veteran Island lobsterman. In the days of Loyalist pioneers on PEI, the bottom of PEI bays and harbours were literally crawling with lobsters. A day at the beach might not be a popular summertime past time for our Loyalist ancestors. After a big south wind, the shore line of the Island would be piled high with beached lobster carcasses. In the loyalist era, only the very poor and servants ate lobsters because they were cheap, too plentiful and considered “tasteless”. Often lobsters were used as fertilizer and Loyalist farmers considered them to be very good for growing cabbages. After prisoners in one New England jail got tired of eating lobster all the time, a new regulation was created stating that lobster could be on the jail menu only three times a week.
Not much courtship precedes lobster lovemaking. Females that have just shed their shells release a pheromone to let the males know that they are in the mood. Usually, lobsters that have shed their shells are vulnerable for a short time and could be eaten by other lobsters, but when a female indicates that she is ready for a romantic encounter, the male lobster will generally opt to accommodate her as opposed to eating her. Six to nine months later, eggs appear under her tail and after six to nine months, the eggs hatch. A one-pound-and–a-half female lobster could have 8,000 to 12,000 eggs, and they could be from multiple fathers. Females are not monogamous.
…Peter Van Iderstine, Abegweit Branch
© Stephen Davidson, UE
“Oh! How many wretched families were made that day. It would have softened the most callous heart to see the cart loads of wretched men brought in, their wives screaming at the foot of the cart, in concert with their groans. Fine youths with their arms taken off in a moment. In short, it’s too far beyond my power of description. The horrors of that day will never be quite out of my remembrance. I quitted company and hid myself to mourn in silence, for the wickedness of my country.”
This is just a portion of what Mary Gould Almy recorded in her diary on August 22, 1778. Mary was a loyalist, a Quaker, and the wife of a patriot soldier. Left behind with her six children in Newport while Benjamin Almy was off fighting with the rebels, Mary faithfully chronicled the events of the Siege of Rhode Island, a four-week battle that wounded or killed nearly 500 men.
Mary’s perspective is unique as she was a member of a denomination that promoted pacifism. As a good Quaker, she was supposed to be nonpartisan, but the political convictions she confided to her diary were anything but neutral. One historian has pointed out that Mary was also “rejecting her husband’s authority in favour of her own interpretation of God’s will, something that was not lightly done by an 18th century woman.”
However, many aspects of Mary’s perspective were also common to other women during the revolution. Professor Kacy Tillman notes “The female Loyalist served, in some ways, as the head of the exiled family. Rarely did men make these journeys with their families, since they had usually fled ahead of their wives and children … As Almy points out, many female Loyalists did not see themselves as people who could choose one side of the war or the other; instead, they were victims of men who brought “woe and desolation” on “good people” who neither asked for nor deserved such treatment.”
Mary’s stories of surviving bombardment, witnessing wartime casualties, and protecting her young family echo the wartime experiences of other loyalist women. Her diary, as we shall see, provides a Quaker connection to the lives of female loyalists.
The Siege of Rhode Island began on Wednesday, July 29, 1778 when a French fleet of eleven ships came into sight of Newport. Its mission was to “liberate” the seaport from the British army. While trying to comfort her six children, Mary Almy buried the family’s most important papers – and its silver plate—in the ground.
However, she kept out her diary. Four weeks later, when the danger was past, Mary sent her account of the attack on Newport to her patriot husband. “But first let me tell you”, she warned her beloved Benjamin, “it will be done with spirit, for my dislike to the nation that you call your friends, is the same as when you knew me, knowing there is no confidence to be placed in them.”
Initially, Newport’s population was thrown into a panic, but then almost a week passed without any military action. “When I look over the list of my friends on both sides of the question”, wrote Mary, “my heart shudders at the thought; what numbers must be slain, both so obstinate, so determined.”
French sailors came ashore a week after their ships arrived in Newport; the colonists hid within their homes. Two days later, the order was given to burn every building within a three-mile radius of Newport. Ships began to fire on the town as the citizens fled with what they could carry.
“We had every shot whistling over our own heads; … the boys had Billy in their arms; the others had such heavy bundles, my heart ached for them. I seldom spoke unless to encourage or to scold them, according as I saw it most necessary.” Eventually the Almys made it to safety. “Fire and sword had come amongst us and famine was not afar off, for the want of bread was great.”
On August 9th, the battle turned in favour of the British. Mary noted that “everybody” was thinking how to make the French admiral “repent his having joined the subject to rebel against the true and lawful Sovereign.” The town continued to be bombarded, and Mary – lame from fleeing days earlier – was forced to hide in the cellar.
Two days later, the siege was interrupted by a violent rainstorm that lasted three days. No church services were held that Sunday, and on the following day Mary “sat upon the top of the house till twelve, beholding and admiring the wonderful contrivances of mankind to destroy one another.”
By week’s end, “all were in some agitation that we knew not our destiny; it was approaching very fast. Our apprehensions tortured us, and the ten thousand lies which we heard, rendered us incapable to stand the shock. We were worn out with the fatigues of this dreadful day, but dared not take any rest, for fear we should be caught asleep; never did I so dread the night; and yet so grieve to see the morning light.”
By Saturday, the battle was going on all around Mary and her family. This was when she saw the “cartloads of wretched men” that were beyond her power of description. Chief in her thoughts was Benjamin. “I trembled for fear they would say, your husband lies among the slain, or that he is wounded and a prisoner. Think you what a life I live, knowing your proneness to get into danger.”
The next day was a study in contrasts. The British surgeons were treating the wounded, rebel and loyalist alike. Elsewhere soldiers were plundering the local farmers.
Then, suddenly, on Monday, word spread throughout Newport that the siege was over. Much to Mary’s relief, the French were repelled, and the British remained in control of Newport. A family friend told Mary that Benjamin would soon be home.
Glad that “her side” had been victorious, Mary still felt sorry for her patriot husband. “Oh! Mr. Almy, what a shocking disappointment to you! Can you keep up your spirits? Heaven, I hope, will support you … and remember in all your difficulties and trials of life, that when the All-wise disposer of human events thinks we have been sufficiently tried, then our patience in waiting will be amply repaid by a joyful meeting.”
Mary Almy died in Newport, Rhode Island on March 28, 1808, thirty years after the events recorded in her diary. Fearful of her patriot neighbours’ reaction to its contents, Mary entrusted her memoir to her daughter Sukey, saying “let no eyes peruse it”. The diary would remain a secret until her grandson had it published in the Newport Historical Magazine in 1881.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
Stephen Davidson’s article “A Quaker Connection to Zealous Loyalists” (UELAC Newsletter 2015-48) mentioned that John Rankin’s brother William was “in the American service.” Although William Rankin was a colonel in the Pennsylvania militia at the beginning of the war, he ended up remaining zealously loyal to the Crown.
He established an active espionage network, created a secret loyalist militia that was never called into action, was imprisoned by the rebels and escaped, and presented General Clinton with his plans to launch various military expeditions, including one meant to kidnap members of Congress while they were meeting in York, Pennsylvania. He ended up in London, and his story is detailed in his own claim for compensation; he also testified regarding the claims of others including his brother James, Christopher Sower/Sauer the Elder and Younger, Rankin’s fellow York County resident Martin Blackford, and Rev. Daniel Batwell. Rankin’s brother-in-law Andrew Fürstner also was a loyalist spy.
The overall organization is sometimes known as Rankin’s Associated Loyalists, and William Rankin stated that every member was required to swear four oaths: one abjuring the Congress, one of secrecy regarding the associators, one of enlistment under one’s officers, and one of loyalty to the King. Rankin himself appears to have sworn his oaths rather than made affirmations.
From time to time I bring up to those on both sides of the border with but a High School grasp of history but strong opinions, that my 6x Great Grandparents Frederick and Abigail (née Vernon) Engle were Friends (Quaker) Neutrals, Abigail’s youngest brother Gideon was a Captain in the Associated Loyalists with a £ 1,000 bounty on his head, while Frederick’s First Cousin Jacob Engle (also one of my 6x Great Grandfathers) was a ‘Patriot’ Colonel. – Now which of them was “right?”
To which I can only say to paraphrase President Lincoln, that all of them were right as God gave them to see that right.
By Angela Duffett
In the summer of 1853, a 17-year-old boy left St. John’s, Newfoundland on a mercantile ship owned by his father. Bound for Ireland and the seminary, he kept a journal chronicling the passage. It is unclear who Richard Howley intended as the audience for his writing, but he frequently addressed the reader as “you,” as in this passage acknowledging the voyage’s monotony: “You may perhaps expect more variety in this Journal especially as it is written in a situation so new to me, but it appears to me that there is a great sameness in a sea voyage… I just write everything as it happens and this is a true and exact account of my passage.”
“A true and exact account” indeed. Letters and diaries present unique challenges for historians. Self-censorship, self-aggrandizement, omissions, and exaggerations pepper their pages. A number of studies have focussed on the act of letter and diary writing and the art of interpreting these sources. Letters and diaries provide tantalizing glimpses into how people lived their lives, bringing details and the odd secret to the fore. But researchers know that these sources more often focus on the quotidian: what the weather was like, what a person had for dinner, when the lilacs bloomed. As a researcher turns the pages, absorbing ordinary detail after ordinary detail, a picture moves into focus: for historians concerned with place and space, letters and journals provide crucial depictions of how places looked, sounded and smelled, and of how individuals interacted with and moved through the landscape.
We all began learning about the American Revolution at some point in time – at the knee of a family member, in a school history book – with a little bit of information. As each of us has learned more over time, through family research, by reading publications and articles written by others, by discussion, by reenacting, our perception and understanding of various aspects of the revolution has probably morphed considerably.
Here are sixteen short comments by various people, as posted in the Journal of the American Revolution.
How has your perception changed?
By Liz Covart at Ben Franklin’s World. A podcast: Episode 041 with Bruno Paul Stenson,
Did Canada almost join the American Revolution?
In September 1775, Major-General Philip Schuyler launched the Patriot’s invasion into Canada.
The Patriots hoped to end the threat of a British invasion from the north by occupying Canada and bringing the colony into the American Revolution.
Did the Patriots’ plans work?
Today, we discuss Canada and how the American Revolution played out there with Bruno Paul Stenson, an historian and musicologist with the Château de Ramezay historic site in Montréal. Château de Ramezay served as the headquarters for the American forces between 1775 and 1776.
Visit Canada & the American Revolution for more details including a brief summary, and to hear the podcast.
From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.
- The Sir John Johnson Centennial Branch has just unveiled its facebook presence
- Prescott opens new waterfront park, marks Founder’s Day. Founder’s Day was proclaimed in recognition of the 280th anniversary of the birth of Colonel Edward Jessup, a United Empire Loyalist who helped establish what would become the town in the early 19th century.
- New museum exhibit celebrates Windsor’s (Ontario) French-Canadian roots. “A lot of people in Windsor don’t realize it, but so many people in the population are descendants of French-Canadians. It’s unbelievable,” said Guillaume Teasdale, a University of Windsor history professor.
Where is Gov. Simcoe Branch member Doug Grant?
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.
- As part of “A Colonial Christmas,” visitors to Jamestown Settlement’s re-created fort can experience riddles and revelry by the Lord of Misrule.
- The circulating library. During the 18th and early 19th centuries the more affluent in society had plenty of time for reading and although circulating or lending libraries had existed prior to the 1700’s, it wasn’t until then that they really took off. People who couldn’t afford to buy books outright, were willing to pay a relatively low subscription to read them. Circulating libraries popped up in towns and cities across the country. (All Things Georgian blog)
- 4 December 1777, late in the afternoon, Sir William Howe moves his army through Germantown toward the Continentals at Whitemarsh (map) A series of skirmishes without a victor preceded retirements to winter quarters – Washington at Valley Forge, the British at Philadelphia.
- November 25, 1783, marked the end of the American Revolution with the evacuation of the British troops from New York. The seven-year occupation was over. Since then the day has been celebrated with varying degrees of intensity by those who had participated in the war and their descendants and later by the Irish immigrants who had their own grievances against England. After 1916, with the United States and the United Kingdom allies in the War to End all Wars, the holiday ceased to be observed. Forget Thanksgiving! Celebrate New York’s ‘forgotten holiday’.
- 4 December 1783 Gen. Washington announced his retirement & dined with his officers for the last time at Fraunces Tavern NY
- Starting the day with this British cotton & linen dress (photo only), 1795–1800 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Mr. Isaac Maracle, great-grandfather of James Maracle, Director of Bay of Quinte Branch U.E.L. Belleville, Ontario. Isaac Maracle was born in Shannonville, Ontario on July 28th. 1897 son of John and Elisa Maracle. Isaac enlisted to W.W.1 in Deseronto, Ontario on March 21st. 1916. He joined the 155th. Overseas Battalion. Isaac Maracle’s service shows that he was transferred to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry upon arrival in France on May 24th., 1917. Isaac Maracle died in action on Oct. 11th. 1917 and his body was never found.
One week before Isaac left Canada to go overseas he made out a will leaving all his belongings to his mother who died in 1934 at the age of fifty-four.
Isaac’s mother Elisa was the eldest daughter of Seth Maracle and Christine Brant.
Isaac Maracle’s grandfather Seth Maracle was born in 1725 in Mohawk Valley situated in upper New York State.
I am trying to write a short story of Rudolph Pabst who is my ancestor and the UEL settling process. This is my current understanding.
1. Surveys were started by British authorities in 1783 of Up River lands available for settlement by UEL’s and others.
2. Many families were reunited in 1782-3-4 in the refugee camps around Montreal.
3. Soldiers in Montreal, drew for lots Up River, partially according to their regiment.
4. Families were transported in 1794/5, in bateaux up river to Jamestown/SDG /Adolphustown and etc.
5. Families were provided tools and growing materials and directed to their claims.
I would very much appreciate input or direction towards any books or articles published on the procedure.
…Richard Poaps, UE
Irma E. Clarke, UE – 88, of Wolfville, Nova Scotia passed away on Sunday, November 29, 2015 in Kentville, Nova Scotia. She was born in Lindsay, Ontario, daughter of the late Bert and Alma (Campbell) Wilson. Her 4th great grandfather was James Humphrey, a Private in Jessup’s Corp during the American Revolution, who was granted land by the Crown for his service near present day Prescott, Ontario.
The pride and interest she had in her United Empire Loyalist heritage inspired and encouraged the same in her son Brian McConnell, UE, President of the Nova Scotia Branch of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada. She was mentioned by him in his article, “James Humphrey: Loyalist soldier in Jessup’s Corp.”
Father died peacefully at the age of 90 years on Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 4 p.m. with his family by his side. Beloved husband for 62 years to Barbara Joan (née Turk). Loving father of John Sidney (Johanne Pineau-Crysdale) and Heather Susan (Douglas Abraham) and their children. Predeceased by siblings Peter, Joan and Richard; will be missed by his living brothers David, James and William, by extended family and by many friends.
A graduate of the University of Toronto (B.A.) and McGill (M.Sc.), John served many years with the federal government and went on to enjoy a second career in the high tech sector. His interests included canoe tripping, cross-country skiing and being the Trail Director of the Canadian Ski Marathon; doing genealogical research especially exploring his family’s United Empire (UE) Loyalist roots; home improvement projects, especially painting, plastering and wiring; and much more.
At his request, there will be no service and his body was donated for research at the University of Ottawa. Memorial donations can be made to the Salvation Army Grace Manor, to the Alzheimer’s Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County or to Doctors Without Borders. Hopefully, having endured the discomforts and indignities of the last several years with Alzheimer’s, Dad is now with friends having a steak dinner, great conversation and a glass of fine wine. Donations, tributes and condolences may be made at www.tubmanfuneralhomes.com.
…Sylvia Powers, Sir Guy Carleton Branch
(June 20, 1924 – November 22, 2015)
Lois’s Loyalist ancestor was Richard Rogers of New Brunswick. She was the first president of Chilliwack Branch and served from 1990 to 1996. We received word of Lois’s passing, from niece Lynne Phillips UE of Chilliwack.
Our last conversations with Lois (who had moved to Forest, Ontario, to be near nieces Melinda and Maribel) concerned the 25th anniversary celebration. She so wanted to be here. As she knew she couldn’t make the trip, she made sure that we got everything right, giving orders by telephone to the delight of our President Shirley Dargatz. Lois even sent a wonderful bouquet of flowers through Minter Gardens of course, that were front and centre at the dais the day of the event. We think she would have been proud of the results.
Although not active with our branch, she kept in touch from Ontario. Her spirit and sense of fun lived on in the wonderful stories about the early days of the branch history. Needless to say she is in many of the pictures shown in the retrospective of events from the founding of the branch.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family; we shall miss you my friend.
…Marlene Dance, Chilliwack Branch