“Loyalist Trails” 2016-18: May 1, 2016

In this issue:
Conference 2016: Loyalists, Lighthouses & Lobsters
Spies and Refugees on Board the Asia (Part 1 of 4), by Stephen Davidson
Book Coming: Grand Forage 1778: The Battleground Around New York City
Resource tip: Monmouth County (NJ) History
JAR: Temper, Temper – Officers and Gentlemen Go Berserk
Digital Gazette: Help Save Costs; Sign up by April 14
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Last Post: William Donald Powers, UE
      + Diamond Burials and Records


Conference 2016: Loyalists, Lighthouses & Lobsters

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.

Information about the conference, including the registration form, is now available read here.

Spies and Refugees on Board the Asia (Part 1 of 4)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Imagine standing on the shores of Manhattan Island in the summer of 1775. Off in the distance is the Asia, a 64-gun British man-of-war that is ready at a moment’s notice to fire upon New York City. To patriots, the Asia is an ever-present threat, frustrating their hopes of a revolution. To loyalists, the Asia is a reminder of the power of the British Empire, a floating sanctuary for the friends of the king.

Two years later, the Royal Navy recalled the Asia to Great Britain, her mission in the rebellious colonies fulfilled. Under Captain George Vandeput, the man-of-war successfully delivered British marines to Boston, patrolled New York City’s harbour, and fired upon rebel armies. Above and beyond her duties as a war ship, the Asia had also been a nerve centre for British intelligence operations and a ship of refuge for loyal colonists.

The stories of spy missions and narrow escapes related to the Asia are found in the records of the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists (RCLSAL). Were it not for these transcripts, the ship’s role in loyalist history would be completely forgotten. After the Revolution, the loyal colonists who had once sought out the Asia were scattered from Great Britain to Saint John, New Brunswick, to Lower Canada. Here, for the first time, are the accounts of twenty loyalists who, through service to the crown, “boarded the Asia.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In December of 1774, the Asia made its first visit to the Thirteen Colonies. Five hundred marines disembarked from the man-of-war to reinforce the British garrison in Boston. By the following May, Captain Vandeput had received orders to leave Massachusetts and set sail for another troubled colony. New York was rapidly dividing into patriot and loyalist factions. Cadwallader Colden, its lieutenant governor, asked for ships of the royal navy to protect the city’s loyalists from harassment.

As John Adams observed later, New York was “a kind of key to the whole continent”. Loyalists owned two-thirds of New York City’s property and more than half of its chamber of commerce were supporters of the crown. However, the colony’s provincial assembly was decidedly pro-rebellion. It had recently increased funding for patriot militias and was keeping a watchful eye on British sympathizers. Oddly, the assembly permitted crown magistrates and courts to continue in their duties, and it turned a blind eye to the fact that New York merchants were provisioning the royal navy ships in the city’s harbour.

Local rebels did, however, take note of John Watson, a ship’s captain from Rhode Island. He carried dispatches to the Asia from Sir James Wallace, the British admiral stationed off the New England coast. New York rebels seized Watson “on suspicion”, but released him the next day. Word of Watson’s courier services somehow reached Rhode Island’s rebels, and upon his return home, a mob attacked the loyalist’s house. They would have killed him if he had not signed a document in support of the patriot cause. Watson’s service and sacrifices were later rewarded at the RCLSAL hearings in England in February of 1785.

In June, William Tryon, the last royal governor of New York, returned from England. For a while he felt secure living in the city. The ominous presence of the Asia reminded New York patriots that if they caused any problems, Captain Vandeput could immediately open fire on the city. For loyalists in both New York and nearby Connecticut, the man-of-war was a secure base to which they could direct the intelligence they had gathered from patriot conversations overhead in their towns and villages.

Isaac Bell of Stamford, Connecticut declared himself “a friend to the British government” in the opening days of the Revolution, a political stance that brought down the wrath of his patriot neighbours. He was “frequently confined and once tried for his life for going on board the Asia.”

Bell managed to escape execution, but, by 1777, he had to flee to safety within British lines. His wife Sushanna later testified that within days of her husband’s departure the local rebels came to their home, “took all the furniture excepting some for necessaries”, and “put a guard at the door of his house”. After serving the crown as a pilot and a firewood forager for the remainder of the Revolution, Bell was reunited with his wife. The couple settled in New Brunswick.

Edward Thorp was another Stamford loyalist who suffered for his dealings with the Asia. His rebel neighbours imprisoned him for five days on the charge of giving intelligence to Captain Vandeput. Included in the information that Thorp delivered to the Asia were names of loyalists in Connecticut. In a fratricide such as the Revolution, it was good to know whom one could trust.

It wasn’t long before rebels drove Thorp out of Stamford. He lost his home, shops, sailing vessels, and a tanning yard. In February of 1784, the RCLSAL recognized Thorp as a “zealous and active loyalist”, granting him compensation for some of his losses.

Sometimes those who found sanctuary on the Asia remained anonymous. In his testimony before the RCLSAL, Abiather Camp of New Haven, Connecticut referred to a four-acre lot that he purchased north of Yale College. He had bought it from “a clergyman of the Church of England, who was obliged to take refuge on board the Asia on account of his loyalty.”

The presence of the Asia reminded New York City rebels of how easy it would be for Britain to capture Manhattan Island. They were all too aware that their city was bounded by navigable rivers to the east and west –and was easily accessible by sea. Unlike the experience of Boston rebels, successfully fending off a British naval attack would be almost impossible. Nevertheless, New York’s patriots began to hoard what meagre resources they had.

See next week’s Loyalist Trails to find out what happened when the Asia fired on the streets of New York City.

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

Book Coming: Grand Forage 1778: The Battleground Around New York City

by Todd Braisted, a Fellow in the Company of Military Historians, Honorary Vice President of the United Empire Loyalist Association, and on the advisory council of Crossroads of the American Revolution. (The book is coming in may)

On September 23, 1778, six thousand British troops erupted into neighbouring Bergen County, New Jersey, followed the next day by three thousand others surging northward into Westchester County, New York. Washington now faced a British Army stronger than Burgoyne’s at Saratoga the previous year. What, in the face of all intelligence to the contrary, had changed with the British?

More about the book; an interview with Todd.

Resource tip: Monmouth County (NJ) History

Old Times in Old Monmouth, by Edwin Salter and George C. Beekman in 1887 — anyone with New Jersey ancestors should find it interesting. It is “searchable”, but you can’t “copy and paste” its content. A large (18MB) pdf. Access here.

From Dorothy Meyerhof, a usability tip:

Grateful for the resource this week, Monmouth County NJ History. I am just working on a family from that area and this book provided a key reference. For all LT readers: You can copy text from a PDF file. Under “Edit” is a tab “Take a snapshot”. This lets you highlight an area of text. The text is copied as an image and can’t be edited, but it allows copying and printing a few pages if that is all that is needed from a much longer text – or putting a selection of text into a document as an image.

JAR: Temper, Temper – Officers and Gentlemen Go Berserk

By Joshua Shepherd April 20, 2016

Put large numbers of men together for extended periods of time and they’re bound to eventually get on each other’s nerves. For armies in the eighteenth century, rowdy brawls were to be expected from the men in the ranks, who were generally drawn from the lower and middling classes of society. Far better behaviour was expected of officers, who were, at least in theory, “gentlemen” possessed of better makings.

But all men, as Thomas Jefferson observed, “are created equal;” consequently, they can be equally obnoxious. American commanders were regularly bedevilled by controversies and courts-martial stemming from arguments and scuffles involving officers, who were just as prone as the enlisted men to run amok. Ready access to strong drink didn’t help matters. Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne, who could be pretty starchy in his own right, was nonetheless annoyed by quarrelling officers who persistently placed each other under arrest during fiery confrontations. Wayne enjoined his men to “Indeavor to Cultivate that harminey and friendship that ought to subsist … but should there be a misunderstanding among any of the officers in futer, he wishes them to settle it amicably or find some other mode than that of Court Martials.”

Read the post.

Digital Gazette: Help Save Costs; Sign up by April 14

The Loyalist Gazette was mailed last weekend. Many people will have received their paper copy by now.

Instructions to access the digital copy was emailed to all who had registered on Tuesday – there were a couple of errors (sorry), but everyone should have received the correct details by day’s end.

People who are paid-up members and Gazette subscribers can still register for access to the digital copy of the Spring 2016 issue. 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).

We hope you enjoy this new issue of the Loyalist Gazette – in digital, you get full colour.

…Publications Committee

Where in the World?

Where is Kingston Branch member Nancy Cutway?

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 your submission to the editor at loyalist.trails@uelac.org.

Region and Branch Bits

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

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • A photo of a corduroy road in Kitchener-Waterloo, built in the 1700’s by the first settlers to this area down the middle of king street, uncovered during construction. (Elsie Schneider)

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

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

  • Visiting grave of Joseph Denton, Jr., son of Loyalist settler Joseph Denton at Little River, Nova Scotia (photo). Happy to take a tour of Loyalist Cemetery at Bear River, Nova Scotia. (well marked as a “Loyalist” cemetery)
  • A century before Annie Oakley, the somewhat more sedate British version: The Ladies’ Shooting Poney c. 1780
  • Found in the Loyalist Fairfield family bible, four hair wreaths – here is a photo of one. See more artifacts made from or with hair in the gallery. The museum is in Independence, Missouri.
  • Polychrome floral silk brocade lady’s shoes, lined with linen. Straps (latchets) for buckles, c.1770 (photo)
  • Many people love to walk in Laura Secord’s footsteps – all of them! On Saturday June 18, 2016. Lost of options: short or long walk, buses, things to see and do, and senior veterans from the Canadian Corps will extend a warm welcome as you arrive at DeCew House. It’s the day before Father’s day! Take Dad on a wonderful hike. Details and registration. Plus: The Thorold City Council is working to have the Decew House property (where War of 1812 heroine Laura Secord is said to have ended her perilous trek to warn of a looming attack by American soldiers) designated as a national heritage site
  • From Borealia @earlycanada a note about Syllabi Central: A fantastic resource for teaching Canadian history, hosted by the Canadian Historical Association

Last Post: William Donald Powers, UE

William, beloved husband of Sylvia Powers, passed away after a long battle with cancer at his home near Mountain Grove. He was born in St. Catharines to Charles Victor Powers and Ada Marjorie Jewiss. Loving father of Maria (Peter Lerch) and Elizabeth (Tim Meyer), and foster father of Laura (Brad Smith), and Robert Knight and treasured grandfather of Chris, Kim, Melody, Trillian, Calvin, Amber, and Haley and stepgrandfather of Andreas, Dylan, William, and Annamarie. Dear brother of Mary Ann Martin, Jean Holder, and Ethel Simpson, predeceased by Bud Powers and Martha Jessome.

A graduate of RMC, he served in the airforce, then was a popular high school teacher in Bracebridge, Ottawa, Argenta, and Monteverde and a small engine mechanic with Hurst Yamaha.

As a member of the Sir Guy Carleton Branch of the UELAC, he received certificates for his ancestors Myndhert Harris, William Marsh, and Ruliff Ostrom. Another ancestor Elisha Jones was an early victim of the rebels and did not live to reach Canada.

He found pleasure in being a volunteer fireman, a ski patroller, a bass for the Arden Glee Club, and a hockey player. Through International Rescue, he responded to disasters in Indonesia, Haiti, New Orleans, and others. In 2015 he received an award for senior of the year from the Township of Central Frontenac.

A celebration of his life will take place at the Olden Community Hall in Mountain Grove on May 15 beginning at 2pm. Donations in lieu of flowers can be given to International Rescue (Canada Helps online.)

…Sylvia Powers


Diamond Burials and Records

I am looking for the burial locations with possible pictures of head stones if possible of the siblings of my paternal grandfather:

• Irvine Morley Punshon Barnabas DIAMOND (6.2), 1869–1915. Birth 1 Aug 1869 at S Fredericksburgh, Lennox & Addington Co., ON. Death 9 Sep 1915 • City & County of Providence, RI, USA

His siblings:

• Thomas William Frederick Henderson DIAMOND, 1855–1934. Birth ABT 1855 at S Fredericksburgh, Lennox & Addington Co., ON; Death 18 FEB 1934 • 3 Baylis Ave., Yorkville, Oneida Co., NY

• Helen Augusta Price (Diamond) ROBERTSON, 1857–1929. Birth abt 1857 at S. Fredericksburgh, Lennox & Addington Co., ON; Death 12 Jly 1929, 323 Church Street, Toronto, York Co., ON

• Avice Anne DIAMOND, 1861–1917. Birth 30 APR 1861 at Fredericksburg Twp., Lennox & Addington Co., ON. Death 20 MAY 1917 at Providence, Providence Co., RI

• Alice Maud Mary DIAMOND, 1863–1916 Birth 28 JUN 1863 at Fredericksburg Twp., Lennox & Addington Co., ON; Death 28 JAN 1916 at Providence City, Providence Co., RI

They are all said in their Obituaries to be interred at Sand Hurst in the DIAMOND Family Burial Plot; however, none of these are listed in the McDowall Memorial Cemetery Records, DIAMOND FAMILY BURIAL GROUND, S Fredericksburgh, Lennox & Addington Co., ON, Canada or the S Fredericksburgh Heritage Site.

If anyone has any information as to the exact location of any of these grave sites or a picture of a head stone, it would be most appreciated. Thanks for any help.

Jack Diamond, UE