“Loyalist Trails” 2015-51: December 20, 2015

In this issue:
The Christmas Festive Season
Conference 2016: Beacons of Light
A Quaker Connection to the Christmas of 1776, by Stephen Davidson
Book: The Burdens of Loyalty: Refugee Tales of the First American Civil War
Refugees: Yesterday and Today
Borealia: “English” Chairs and “English” Desks
18th Century Quill Pens and Postage
Region and Branch Bits
Where in the World is Martha Hemphill?
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Addendum: First World War Casualty Isaac Maracle


The Christmas Festive Season

With the holiday season in full swing, I am joined by the UELAC Dominion Council, in wishing each of you good health and good cheer by way of this old Irish Blessing:

May this sweetest oldtime greeting
Heavily laden with good cheers
Bring content, and peace and plenty
Enough to last through all the Year.


…Barb Andrew UE, President, UELAC

Conference 2016: Beacons of Light

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.


Lighthouses of Prince Edward Island

Canada’s smallest province is approximately 140 miles(224 km) long and ranges from 4 to 40 miles(6 to 64 km) wide.The deeply indented coastline stretches for 683 miles (1100 km of sand dunes and high red capes). The land surface is 2184 square miles. With 63 lighthouses and range light buildings (approximately 35 are still active aids to navigation), this averages one lighthouse for every 34 square miles and is believed to be the highest concentration of any province or state in North America. All but three can easily be reached by automobile.

During the summer tourist season , seven of the lighthouses are staffed by volunteers and are open to the public. Several of the lighthouses have museums and one lighthouse is said to be haunted. If you are adventurous and are willing to climb up and down the necessary 200 or so steps all the way to the top, you can inspect the light room atop of the lighthouse and enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding area.

While we do not offer tours to a lighthouse during our tour portion of the Loyalist conference, we certainly will see plenty of lighthouses during our travels about the Island. Further information about Island lighthouses may be obtained at tourismpei.com/lighthouse-lovers-tour.

…Peter Van Iderstine, Abegweit Branch

A Quaker Connection to the Christmas of 1776, by Stephen Davidson

© Stephen Davidson, UE

One of the great icons of American history is the painting titled “Washington Crossing the Delaware”. Can you see it? George Washington – a determined expression on his face – stands upright in the bow of a rowboat as his soldiers paddle across an icy river. An officer behind Washington holds the Stars and Stripes – a flag that did not exist when the rebel army was sneaking across the Delaware River in December of 1776. Considering that the canvas was painted in Germany in 1850 by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze to inspire Europe’s liberal reformers, it is little wonder that it contains a number of historical inaccuracies.

Everyone makes mistakes. Had a military officer paid just a little more attention to a surprise gift that Christmas, Washington’s crossing would have been reduced to a historical footnote in the accounts of the Britain’s victory over rebels in the short-lived American Revolution. The Christmas gift in question was the single most important piece of espionage work in the entire revolution. The man who gave the gift was a loyalist – and a Quaker. Moses Doan was the crucial Quaker connection that linked the events of Christmas 1776 to the Battle of Trenton.

Despite its historical inaccuracies, Washington Crossing the Delaware does represent the events of Christmas Day, 1776. Washington chose that day to order 2,400 Continental soldiers into barges at McKonkley’s Ferry in Pennsylvania. The patriot forces landed in New Jersey at around three o’clock on the morning of December 26th. They were nine miles up the Delaware River from Trenton, a town that they planned to attack at daybreak. The object of the patriots’ sneak attack was to rout the Hessian and British garrison that had occupied Trenton since December 14th.

But the crossing of the Delaware River was not the only significant event that December 25th. On Christmas Eve, Moses Doan was monitoring the rebel troops as they gathered on the Pennsylvania shore. He disguised himself as a farmer and rode to Coryell’s Ferry. There he discovered that the Continental army had left their fort. Riding to the main rebel camp at Bowman’s Hill, he soon realized that General Washington was planning a sneak attack on the British forces stationed in Trenton, New Jersey.

By now it was Christmas Day. With the approach of a violent blizzard, Doan could not trust the news of an impending attack to anyone else. He himself would have to warn Colonel Johann Rahl, the commander of the Hessian regiments in Trenton. Anxious to avoid any encounters with the rebel troops, Doan road north to Howell’s Ferry. There he made his own crossing of the Delaware with the aid of the loyalist ferry operator. As he rode south to Trenton, Doan saw the approaching rebels out on the river, slowly making their way to the New Jersey shore. The loyalist spy’s hunch was correct; Washington was indeed on his way to Trenton.

Doan had little reason to doubt that Colonel Rahl would quickly rally the Hessian troops to defend Trenton. The Quaker had already earned the name Eagle Spy for the accuracy and reliability of his intelligence work. When the British invaded Long Island in August of 1776, it was Moses Doan who told General Howe where Washington had his army – and revealed the Jamaica Pass, an unprotected backway into the rebels’ fortifications. With the British victory, Howe’s forces gained control of Long Island and forced Washington’s army to retreat into New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Howe credited Doan as being instrumental in the defeat of the Continental Army. Four months after that British victory, Moses Doan had every confidence that his spy efforts would result in yet another British triumph. What better Christmas present could a loyalist give his king than the capture of General Washington?

It would also be sweet revenge for all the cruelty that Doan’s family had endured at the hands of patriots. Quaker farmers in Pennsylvania’s Buck Country, the Doans had tried to stay true to their beliefs in pacificism and neutrality. However, in the days leading up to the Declaration of Independence, their patriot neighbours used persuasion and then persecution to sway the Doans to their side. All their efforts only served to push the five Doan brothers to retaliate and join the loyalist side.

Moses and his brothers terrorized the local patriots. They spied for the British, plundered the wealthy, and attacked public officials. Loyalist Pennsylvanians regarded the Doan brothers as a modern reincarnation of Robin Hood and his Merry Men; patriots regarded them as demons.

On this Christmas Day, nothing less than the outcome of the American Revolution lay in the success of the Moses Doan’s solitary ride to Trenton.

It hadn’t been very peaceful that Christmas in Trenton – nor had it been for the previous two weeks. Almost every day, there had been skirmishes with local militias. On Christmas Day, an unauthorized band of rebels attacked a guard post, but they were quickly sent packing. Colonel Rahl investigated, found nothing amiss, and went off to enjoy an evening of games at the home of a local merchant. Contrary to patriot folklore, the Hessians did not celebrate Christmas or their recent victory by getting drunk.

Washington’s forces were still crossing the Delaware River when Moses Doan rode into Trenton. Learning that Colonel Rahl was at Abraham Hunt’s home, the loyalist Quaker asked to speak to the German officer. Rahl refused to be disturbed. (Historians disagree on whether he was in the middle of a game of chess or poker.)

Frustrated, Doan wrote out his message and gave it to a servant. “Washington is coming on you down the river, he will be here afore long.” Assuming that the colonel would take immediate action, Doan left Trenton.

The loyalist Quaker had given Rahl the best Christmas gift of the American Revolution, but the German never even opened it. Theories abound as to why he failed to read Doan’s note. Perhaps Rahl thought it was simply old news, assuming that the note referred to the quashed attack of the local militia earlier in the day. Perhaps because the note was in English, he was unable to read it. Perhaps Rahl forgot that he had put it in his vest pocket during an exciting moment in his game. Whatever the reasons, the consequences were disastrous.

In the early hours of December 26th, Washington’s forces descended upon Trenton’s unsuspecting Hessian garrison. Rebels killed forty of Colonel Rahl’s men. Washington lost only two. Rahl was mortally wounded. (Several accounts say that Doan’s note was found still folded inside Rahl’s pocket.) The German officer died within a week of the Battle of Trenton.

Moses Doan, the Quaker “Eagle Spy”, continued to serve the crown throughout the rest of the revolution. On August 28, 1783 he was shot and killed in a bar room brawl.

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

Book: The Burdens of Loyalty: Refugee Tales of the First American Civil War

The Burdens of Loyalty: Refugee Tales of the First American Civil War, by Stephen Davidson; Review by Ruby Cusack

Monday was wash day to hang the clothes on the line but since this Saturday was a bright sunny day for December, with a breeze blowing and Gram said her joints felt like rain and snow were coming, Aunt Sadie decided it would be a good day to hang the feather pillows out to air.

Gram quite agreed with her and they stripped many pillows down to the feather ticking.

The ladies did some other pre-Christmas cleaning and preparation and more or less forgot about the pillows on the line until Gramp came in and asked, “Do you need a pot of hot tar?”

He went on to say the seams on at least five of the pillows had broken open while blowing in the wind that had come up and the ground under the line was covered with feathers.

Aunt Sadie called for Cliff and me to help her pick up the feathers and put them in flour bags. She warned us to only pick up the clean ones.

I asked Cliff how would hot tar help get this mess cleaned up. He just shrugged his shoulders.

Loyalist children knew very well the meaning of tarred and feathered as more than once a father, uncle or brother was smeared with hot tar and then covered in goose feathers.

John Melchoir File, a Loyalist wrote, “You must try to walk in our shoes in order to understand the effect persecution had on our lives. Oil did gradually take off the tar and feathers from the skin of victims but the psychological effect of this cruel treatment lasted a lifetime.”

The psychological impact of being a loyalist is just one of many themes that historian Stephen Davidson explores in his book, The Burdens of Loyalty: Refugee Tales of the First American Civil War. The book follows the experiences of John and Hepzibeth Lyon, two loyalist refugees from Redding, Connecticut. Their experiences are an eerie foreshadowing of the trials of refugees in the 21st century.

Like today’s Syrian refugees, the Lyons had to flee persecution in their hometown and find sanctuary in a British-sponsored refugee camp. They left Long Island in 1783 on an evacuation ship for a destination far from the American Revolution, and became the founders of a settlement where Connecticut accents were heard for years — Kingston, New Brunswick. Forty thousand refugees flooded into what are now Nova Scotia and New Brunswick following the American Revolution.

The Burdens of Loyalty puts a spotlight on 110-plus stories of those refugees who rubbed shoulders with the Lyon family — those who lived in Redding, who were refugee camp neighbours, who sailed together, and who pioneered together.

Here is a sampling of the refugee stories that the reader will discover in “The Burdens of Loyalty“.

David Pickett had been a prosperous weaver in Stamford, operating a shop that contained three looms. Until the revolution, his neighbours had considered him a good, honest man. However, when Pickett signed a paper that professed his continued allegiance to Britain, the revolutionary committee of Stamford tried him, labeling him an “enemy to his country”. He was blackballed by his neighbours and forced to leave. Isaac Bell, another loyalist in the community, came to the aid of Mrs. Pickett and her seven children by offering them shelter and food. Pickett’s life illustrates that the Revolution was actually the first American Civil War with neighbour pitted against neighbour.

Tom Hyde, a Black Loyalist who sailed on the same evacuation ship as the Lyon family, had his name appear in the Book of Negroes. Two years later, Hyde’s name was among that of twelve free Africans who petitioned the New Brunswick government for land near the loyalist town of Kingston. Upon arriving in the colony, Black Loyalist refugees immediately began to exercise their rights as free Englishmen.

Saint John has had a vibrant Jewish community throughout its two hundred thirty-year history. David and Catherine Gabel were among the first of their faith to settle in New Brunswick, as refugees. At fifty years of age, Gabel left New York City to find yet another new home because of his loyalist convictions. On their ship’s manifest the couple and their four children were listed as “German Hebrews”. When brick buildings eventually replaced the log cabins of Saint John’s early settlement, the Gabels built a two-story bakery and butcher shop on the corner of Sydney and King Street North, just above King Square. When this building was demolished in 1956, the Jewish baker’s oven was still standing.

Walter Bates, a farmer and a teacher, was also a regular participant in guerrilla raids on coastal Connecticut towns across the Sound from Lloyd’s Neck throughout the course of the revolution. He was one of the original settlers of Kingston, and he married a Union passenger’s daughter, Abigail Lyon; theirs was the first wedding in the village. They lived the rest of their lives in the community they had helped to carve out of the wilderness. A former guerrilla fighter during the revolution, Bates eventually became the High Sheriff of Kings County.

Four years after his arrival in New Brunswick, John Lyon travelled to Saint John to present himself to the board of British commissioners at the compensation hearings. Lyon’s recounting of the burdens that he bore because of his loyalty are just one of many compensation claims cited in Davidson’s book. The loyalists’ situations before the revolution, the services they rendered to their king, and their settlement in the northern wilderness are all to be found in the records of the commission.

The Slocum family of Rhode Island carried many burdens for being staunch loyalists. Ebenezer supplied information and provisions to Lord Hugh Percy. The family was banished 16 kilometres inland so as not to signal British ships. Sarah Slocum was branded on the cheeks and had her ears cropped for allegedly passing bad currency.

As the story goes, the Reverend John Beardsley had lost two wives by the time he arrived in New Brunswick. In 1792, his third wife left him to return to New York. He had been led to believe his third wife died so he married the Widow Mary Quain. Then it was discovered his third wife was alive, forcing the bishop to launch an investigation into the matter of the bigamous clergyman.

John and Hepzibeth Lyon came to New Brunswick on the Union, the first evacuation vessel to bring loyalists to what is now New Brunswick. It is the Mayflower of New Brunswick’s loyalist history. The annotated passenger list that Davidson includes in The Burdens of Loyalty could almost be considered a book in itself as it holds so much information that would interest family historians and genealogists alike.

View the cover.

The Burdens of Loyalty can be ordered from UELAC – NB Branch, PO Box 484, Saint John, NB, E2L 3Z8. The cost is $28CDN, plus Shipping and Handling of $14 in Canada, $17 to USA. It will soon be available on line at http://www.uelac-nb.ca/shop.htm. Email membership@uel-nb.ca.

= = = = = = =

This column appeared in the December 19, 2016 edition of the Telegraph-Journal. Reprinted with permission.

Ruby Cusack can be reached at rmcusack@nbnet.nb.ca. Her column appears in the Saint John Telegraph-Journal on the third Saturday of each month. Past columns are archived at www.rubycusack.com.

Refugees: Yesterday and Today

I noticed in Loyalist Trails a comment by Robert J. Talbot on Syrians.

I have said quite a few times to many people during discussions on the arrival of Syrian refugees that this Province [both Ontario and New Brunswick] was started for and by refugees. It was cut from Quebec as a refuge for those 80,000 people fleeing political persecution. They had been driven from their homelands, had their property stolen, their rights trampled by a radical political element that used terror (and tar) to gain its own political agenda. As well the intervention of foreign super powers for their own ends only escalated and elongated that war. Those refugees arrived here with the help of the government to get a fresh start in the wilderness. The present day refugees are enduring the same fears and carry the same hopes as I’m sure those Loyalist refugees did. It is only right that we welcome those newcomers and add them to our cultural mosaic, as our ancestors were added to 18th century Canada. We political refugees have to stick together!

I have also found that the conversation sort of trails off after I say this.

…David Moore, UE

Borealia: “English” Chairs and “English” Desks

This week at Borealia, Philippe Halbert, a PhD student in art history at Yale University, explores the significance of “English” furniture in the material culture of New France. Here’s a taste of his essay.

The “English” chairs and “English” desks described here become tangible symbols of inter-colonial relations and the struggle for empire in North America. In doing so, they can help underscore the interconnectedness of art history and history. From an art historical perspective, the presence of “English” furniture in French colonial Canada should serve to nuance understanding of material culture in New France as well as traditional paradigms in the study of “American” decorative arts as a whole. Likewise, historians should not be afraid to inform their scholarship through consideration of material objects and notarial records like a probate inventory; these are intimately linked to the study of economic and social history. In looking past traditional narratives and methodological boundaries, the rich potential of material culture waits to be developed and exploited across disciplines.

Read the full post.

18th Century Quill Pens and Postage

We know through our research that those Georgians were prolific letter writers so we thought we would take a look at communication before the advent of telephones, the internet, computers and the like, back to a time when the quill pen was all the rage and when all letters were either hand delivered or sent by mail. Read the article – some of the writing instruments are quite intriguing (from All Things Georgian).

Region and Branch Bits

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

  • Stephen Davidson research article provides basis for a Christmas reading at Vancouver Branch tea. When your Branch is blessed with active members who are retired teachers you know they can hold the attention of the room. Carl Stymiest UE and Mavis Pickett UE are two such people. Add to that Mavis’s speaking skills as a Senior Comic (www.seniorcomic.com) and the anticipation builds. On December 6th the Vancouver Branch gathered at my home. I needed a theme and St. Nicholas day was ideal. Looking back through the Loyalist Trails Newsletter Archive I was able to fine the article about the Loyalist connection to the poem we know as The Night Before Christmas. Reading sections of this poem between paragraphs of Stephen Davidson’s article seemed a perfect fit. A quick email conversation secured permission to use his material. It was successful entertainment interlude between the visiting and seasonal treats. See photo one and photo two. Submitted by Christine Manzer UE
  • A new storyboard remembers the Norfolk County Poor House residents, gone but not forgotten, thanks to the Norfolk branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society and their members, people like Bill Terry UE, who is also a member of the Grand River Branch UELAC.

Where in the World?

Where is Martha Hemphill of Hamilton & Toronto Branches?

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

  • The Boston Tea Party 16 December 1773:
    This “history byte” is about Capt. Peleg Clarke (1734-1803) of Newport delivering at least part of his cargo including tea to Boston on the even of the “party”.
    This painting depicts the destruction of the tea.
    This small glass bottle contains tea leaves gathered on the shore of Dorchester Neck, across the harbor from Boston, on 17 December 1773, the morning after the Boston Tea Party. This is one of five relics of the Boston Tea Party (including tea caddies said to have been emptied at the Tea Party, and a china punch bowl from which participants are said to have drunk) in the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
  • Check out the free online library on early pre-1922 Canadian history with some: 90 books pre-1922
  • Getting ready to put bread pudding and fig pudding into the Devon oven in Jamestown Settlement’s re-created fort.
  • Among the many legends of Mackenzie’s escape following the Rebellion of 1837? Where did he hide?
  • 9 delightfully unusual Christmas cards from the 1800s

Addendum: First World War Casualty Isaac Maracle

Information about Isaac Maracle and an image was provided in prior weeks.

Here is a memorial document to him with a photo of the Menin Gate by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. For more specific details, see the entry for James from the Service Files of the First World War at LAC.

…Judy and Ray Adams

Editor’s Note

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas – a wonderful time for you and for those with whom you share it. And please reach out by thought or deed to those less fortunate.