“Loyalist Trails” 2016-23: June 5, 2016

In this issue:
Conference 2016
Conference Agenda Update: ‘Ask an Expert’ Session
The Comfortable (Loyalist) Pew (Part 1 of 3), by Stephen Davidson
War of 1812 Plaque for Sir John Johnson UE, unveiling June 23
UEL Heritage Centre and Park: The Allison Family
UELAC Scholarship Update and Current Scholars’ Activity
The Harvard-UELAC Loyalist Studies Scholarship
Borealia: French Colonial Historical Society, Ottawa 2016 – Conference Recap
JAR: Battle of Gwynn’s Island: Lord Dunmore’s Last Stand in Virginia
War of 1812: Henry and Frederick Winters, George Winter (Cont’d)
Research Resources
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post
      + John Greenhill Walker, LLD, UE
      + Catherine Elizabeth Neilina (MacMillan) Heath


Conference 2016

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.

Conference Agenda Update: ‘Ask an Expert’ Session

On Saturday July 9 afternoon during the “Ask an Expert” genealogy question and answer sessions four speakers will each make a 15 -20 minute presentation. David WALKER representing Abegweit; Richard and Sandra THORNE for New Brunswick; and a third session Loyalist expert researcher, Stephen DAVIDSON speaking for Nova Scotia. After the three talks, each one covering the provinces of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, or Nova Scotia, the main group will divide and those who wish further information will move to another area and meet with the speakers in separate smaller groups.

Representing Nova Scotia where he lives and until recently taught school, Stephen Davidson is well acquainted with the unique Loyalist experience in that province particularly, as well as New Brunswick where his ancestors settled. His historical research has been published in The Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Beaver Magazine, the Loyalist Gazette, several New Brunswick newspapers, and a national children’s magazine. He served as a consultant for three historical websites created by the University of New Brunswick, designed an education kit for the New Brunswick Museum’s first travelling exhibit, and launched Heritage Fairs within the Halifax Regional School Board. Works on Nova Scotia’s African heritage regularly cite Stephen’s 1975 honours thesis.

He has been the guest speaker at several of the Nova Scotia Branch meetings over the last several years, including the 2014 Spring meeting in Wolfville, NS when the Branch received their new Branch Charter from UELAC Past President, Bonnie Schepers UE. Always congenial and a good sport, at last Spring’s Sackville, NS meeting Stephen actually became the model for the 84th Regiment’s demonstration of how to wrap the ancient Great Kilt from “the whole nine yards” of tartan back in the day. Have a look at this general information video and then you will know where that old saying came from and what he learned that day!

Stephen’s research can be found in the collections of the New Brunswick Museum Archives (Saint John), Westminster Abby’s Library (London), the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia (Dartmouth) and the archives of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society of Nova Scotia (Birchtown). A descendant of fourteen loyalist couples, Stephen has worked as a historical researcher on projects for Public History Inc. and author Peter C. Newman since his retirement from teaching in 2012.

Stephen Davidson’s connection to the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada is well recognized in The Loyalist Gazette magazine articles and the weekly e-newsletter, Loyalist Trails. By Conference time he will have contributed 475 articles on loyalist refugee history to Loyalist Trails, the Association’s online e-newsletter.

Stephen Davidson will be in the Exhibit Room on Saturday, July 9 after the genealogy sessions, between 4:00 PM and 5:30 PM, to meet and greet guests. Available to purchase on their table at the Conference, the New Brunswick Branch of the UELAC published his loyalist history, The Burdens of Loyalty, in January of 2016. He would be happy to sign his new book at that time.

…Carol Harding, UE

The Comfortable (Loyalist) Pew (Part 1 of 3)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

In 1965, Pierre Berton wrote a best-selling study of the Anglican Church in Canada titled The Comfortable Pew. It was a scathing critique in which the author described the church as a resting place for complacent people — merely “a comfortable pew”. Berton’s pews were a metaphor. But in 1783, actual wooden pews were part of the claims that loyalist refugees made when they sought compensation for their losses during the American Revolution. The petitioners were anything but complacent –and far from comfortable.

Of the 5,656 loyalists who sought financial assistance from the British government, 16 wanted to be compensated for the pews that had been taken from them. Eleven of these claimants were from Massachusetts; two had once called South Carolina their home; while Rhode Island, New York, and Connecticut each had a loyalist who sought pew compensation. These 16 stood before the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists (RCLSAL) when it convened in London, Halifax, and Saint John between the years of 1783 and 1787. Clearly, a man’s pew was a valued possession in the 18th century.

However, it is quite difficult for someone in the 21st century to empathize with these sixteen loyalists. It is easy to understand the desire to be compensated for confiscated homes, property, furnishings and even slaves — but church pews? What kind of people would even think to include pews in their compensation claims? Would the British commissioners of the RCLSAL sympathize with the claimants — or dismiss them as eccentric Americans?

Before we can answer these questions, we have to look at the 18th century custom of pew rents. Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian congregations charged their members rent to sit in a particular pew as a way of generating income for the upkeep of church buildings and the minister’s salary. As with hockey rinks and live theatres today, seats close to the front with a good view commanded a higher rent than those off to the sides or far off in the back. Some parishioners bought their pews outright, but rent was the most common means of securing a regular spot within the church.

Once a family had acquired the rights to a church pew, they could decorate it as they saw fit with carpeting or seat covers. Some churches had brass plaques at the end of each pew that could hold a card identifying which family could occupy the pew.

Naturally, there were abuses of this system. Rich parishioners could afford the most expensive pews. The location and decoration of the family pew indicated their status within society. Those who could only afford a back pew might seek a reservation for the day when a front pew would become available, allowing them at one day in the future, to show off their change in fortune. Notices within some churches reminded parishioners that if they did not soon pay their pew rent, they would lose the right to their seating in the sanctuary. Free pews were available to the working class, but they were located in the least desirable corners of the church sanctuary.

For the 18th century Christian worshipper, one’s pew was a valued possession — something that may have taken years to acquire. Like a house or a treasured horse, a family pew was a part of a loyalist’s worldly goods that could be lost during the American Revolution. Sixteen loyalist refugees felt so strongly about their pews that they sought compensation for their losses. These are their stories.

Before the outbreak of the revolution, Lynn Martin was the owner of a merchant ship based in Newport, Rhode Island. In the fall of 1775, his rebel neighbours offered Martin the “command of a battery” if he would join their cause, but he refused. He managed to “continue quiet” until the British army occupied Rhode Island. The local rebels sent soldiers to carry him off to prison, but because the arresting officer was an old acquaintance, Martin was able to get away. Sir Henry Clinton put the loyalist in charge of a privateer schooner until the British left Rhode Island in 1779. Martin and his family sailed for New York City, remaining there until they sailed for Quebec where they settled in the summer of 1783.

When Martin stood before the RCLSAL in London a year later, he asked for compensation for his Newport house and land (£400), his furniture (£20) and the family pew at Trinity Church (£5). In the end, Lynn Martin received all of the compensation he requested — including the money for his lost pew.

Timothy Hierlihy (sometimes Hirolyhy) was a loyalist from Middleton, Connecticut who eventually settled in Nova Scotia. He recounted his wartime adventures to the RCLSAL when it convened in Halifax in 1786. A native of Ireland, Hierlihy first came to North America in 1753, served during the Seven Years War, and then settled in Connecticut. After marrying Elizabeth Wetmore, he converted from Catholicism to Anglicanism. The family attended Christ Church where they occupied a pew valued at just over £13.

Loyal from the beginning of “the troubles”, the Irishman did “not openly declare his sentiments for fear of immediate imprisonment”. He secretly aided such high profile loyalists as New Jersey’s Governor William Franklin and the Bahamas’ Governor Montfort Browne. In 1776, Hierlihy was made a lieutenant-colonel in the Prince of Wales Regiment. Rebels immediately seized all of his family deeds.

Six years later he was given the same rank with the Nova Scotia Volunteers (NSV). He and his son Timothy raised 72 men for the latter. At the end of the war, the NSV were sent to the Island of St. John’s (today’s Prince Edward Island). Hierlihy acquired land in Nova Scotia and became the founder of the town of Antigonish. Mary, his 27 year-old daughter, was the first person to be buried in the new settlement.

Hierlihy sought compensation for 170 acres of lost land, debts owed, two farm houses and barns — and his church pew.

Jeremiah Pote was a loyalist who once lived in Falmouth, Cumberland County, Massachusetts (now modern day Portland, Maine). Like many of his neighbours, he derived his living from the merchant trade. Pote owned wharves, a lime kiln, a warehouse and a shop which were all destroyed when the British navy set his town aflame. After devastating conflagration, the local rebels persecuted Pote, imprisoning him several times before he managed to get away to Nova Scotia. (He crossed the Bay of Fundy to Nova Scotia in an open boat!)

Pote then assisted the British by serving as a pilot on two different vessels. One ship was seized by the rebels; they imprisoned Pote and his fellow crewmembers for the rest of the winter. Upon his release, the loyalist went to Penobscot and then finally, to St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick. Pote later valued all of his lost property at £600 — and his pew at the Falmouth Meeting House at £12.

Pote’s son-in-law (and fellow loyalist), Thomas Wyer also sought compensation for his lost pew. He valued it at the same price as Pote, £12 — or 4% of his total claim of £325. As a customs officer, Wyer was not popular with the patriots of Falmouth. After being “proscribed and banished”, the loyalist’s family went to New York in 1781. Wyer was put in charge of an armed vessel and had “two smart engagements with two rebel privateers at different times.” After he settled in St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick, Wyer became the first sheriff of Charlotte County, a judge of the common pleas, and the deputy colonial treasurer.

Read more about loyalists and their pews in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

War of 1812 Plaque for Sir John Johnson UE, unveiling June 23

It is with great pleasure that we invite you to a special ceremony that will be held on Thursday, 23 June 2016, 1:30 pm at the Johnson Family Burial Vault, 16 du Sous-Bois, Mont-Saint-Grégoire, Québec.

On 9 December 2015, our Branch submitted the application of Sir John Johnson to the Graveside Project Honouring Veterans of the War of 1812, a project whose mission is to recognize nationally the graves of the veterans of the War of 1812.

When the War of 1812 broke out, Sir John Johnson had been, since 1804, Colonel Commandant of the Eastern Townships Militia. Even though he was a man of more that seventy, his leadership and experience were of great value during the War of 1812. Our application was approved and on 23 June, a commemorative plaque recognizing Sir John Johnson as a veteran of the War of 1812 will be unveiled.

The commemorative plaque unveiling ceremony will be preceded at 11:30 a.m. by a Special Cold Buffet Luncheon which will be served at the nearby Erablière Charbonneau, 45 du Sous-Bois, Mont-Saint-Grégoire, at an all inclusive cost of $15.00 for Branch members and $21.50 for guests.

At this special luncheon, 56 members and friends of the Glengarry, Nor’Westers and Loyalist Museum, of Williamstown, Ontario, will be visiting us. The mission of this museum is to preserve and interpret the history of the United Empire Loyalists migration to Glengarry County and of the Glengarry partners of the North West Company. Sir John Johnson Manor House is also located in Williamstown. This special luncheon will be a great opportunity to meet and socialize with Loyalist friends from Ontario.

Those interested in participating are requested to RSVP before June 15:

• Adelaide Lanktree: 450-293-6342 or adelaidel@sympatico.ca

• Michel Racicot 450-260-1736 or mracicot001@sympatico.ca

You can send your cheque payable to Sir John Johnson Centennial Branch, at 140 Principale St. Farnham, QC, J2N 1K6

We are looking forward to your participation at this special event.

…Sir John Johnson Centennial Branch

UEL Heritage Centre and Park: The Allison Family

On the shore of the Bay of Quinte at Adolphustown, the large red brick house radiated comfort, status and perhaps more than a dash of splendour. Featuring intricately carved ornamentation, the beautiful Victorian-style Italian Villa was the family home of one of Lennox and Addington’s more prosperous and respected residents. It belonged to David W. Allison, descendant of United Empire Loyalists (UEL).

Fleeing dangers of the American Revolution in 1784 for a new start in Canada, the grandparents of Allison were part of the early wave remaining loyal to the British. The Allisons settled at Adolphustown, carving farmland out of the thick wilderness to raise a home and a family. Born in 1826 (some records state 1821), David Wright Allison was the second of eight children; it seems the family was fortunate to avoid the common tragedy of early childhood death, and so the Allison youngsters grew up to enjoy long lifespans. Read the article – from Loyalist to UEL Heritage Centre

UELAC Scholarship Update and Current Scholars’ Activity

Here’s a quick recap of UELAC Scholarship Award activity in 2016 — In January 31, 2016 we launched the Loyalist Scholarship Fund Challenge, a fund raising initiative that by April 1 raised over $8000.00 in support of Loyalist research. Thanks to you we exceeded our goal of $5000.00. Even better, donations continue to come in. In early March, the UELAC Scholarship committee was busy reviewing a number of excellent award applications. March 20, 2016 we announced the 2016 UELAC Loyalist Scholarship Award recipients — Stephanie Seal Walters and Sophie H. Jones. In April, a Donors List was posted on the UELAC Scholarship webpage with a heartfelt thank you from UELAC for the generous financial support.

This week we caught up with our newest UELAC Scholars to find out how their year is progressing.

In 2016, Sophie H. Jones has enjoyed a very busy calendar of speaking engagements, including: The British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies; the joint British and Irish Associations for American Studies Conference in Belfast; guest lectures at the University of Georgia (Athens, GA); the University of Manchester (UK); and a public heritage event at Liverpool’s Bluecoat Centre for Contemporary Arts.

In September 2016, she will be in residence at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts as a Peterson Fellow where she will consult the Society’s collections relating to New York’s Loyalists during the American Revolution and the accounts of Loyalist exiles following the British defeat. Sophie has also been awarded the Larry J. Hackman Research Residency Programme to visit the New York State Archives in Albany, where she will consult collections concerning property confiscations and decisions taken against suspected Loyalists during the War. Sophie plans to use the UELAC Loyalist Scholarship to enable a visit to archives in Canada during Spring/Summer 2017 to conduct primary research. A complete biography and excerpt from her research proposal is available here.

Stephanie Seal Walters is conducting her graduate research under the supervision of Dr. Cynthia A. Kierner, Director of the PhD program (History and Art History GMU), and past president of the Southern Association for Women Historians. In 2016 Stephanie has a number of speaking engagements scheduled. On August 27, she is speaking at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, a historic site in Smithfield, Virginia. There is special interest in Loyalism here because the pastor of the church during the Revolution was a suspected Loyalist and came from a well-known Loyalist family. Her talk will focus on the response of Virginia churches as a whole, but will have special emphasis on Anglican ministers in the Tidewater–the vast majority of which were forced out of their churches in 1775/1776 for Loyalism.

September 21, 2016, Stephanie is keynote speaker at the Richmond American Revolution Round Table at the University of Richmond. October 6, 2016 Stephanie will introduce the digital side of historical research at the Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg, Virginia. Starting in the summer of 2016 Stephanie will begin research at the Canadian National Archives in Ottawa, and at the University of New Brunswick Archives and Special Collections. A biography and information on Stephanie’s research is available here.

To Sophie H. Jones and Stephanie Seal Walters, the UELAC scholarship committee and all those who support UELAC Loyalist research offer our congratulations and best wishes for a successful year of academic study.

The Harvard-UELAC Loyalist Studies Scholarship

The UELAC scholarship committee is pleased to announce the creation of the Harvard-UELAC Loyalist Studies Scholarship under the direction of Dr. Taylor Stoermer of Harvard University. During the 2016 UELAC Scholarship Fundraising Campaign, Dr. Stoermer personally donated and raised funds in the amount of $5000.00 which has been set aside in an account at Harvard marked for Loyalist research. Dr. Stoermer has been invited to participate as academic consultant to the UELAC Loyalist scholarship committee, allowing him to administer the disbursement of Harvard-UELAC scholarship funds to successful candidates. On May 24, 2016 Taylor announced Harvard’s first Harvard-UELAC Loyalist Studies Scholarship recipient — Ms. Alexandra S. Garrett.

Alexandra is a PhD student in History at the University of Virginia working with Dr. Alan Taylor as dissertation advisor. Known to many for his 2011 book, ‘The Civil War of 1812’, Dr. Alan Taylor also supervised 2008 UELAC Scholar Gregory Wigmore (PhD candidate) at University of California, Davis.

The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada extends sincere thanks to Dr. Taylor Stoermer. Congratulations and best wishes to Alexandra Garrett. We look forward to more news in the coming months.

…Bonnie Schepers, UE, Scholarship Committee

Borealia: French Colonial Historical Society, Ottawa 2016 – Conference Recap

by Stephanie Pettigrew 1 June 2016

The 42nd annual French Colonial Historical Society conference was held in Ottawa from May 19 to 21, 2016. I was first introduced to this society the summer just before starting my PhD studies, when the conference was at the Fortress of Louisbourg. There I learned that the FCHS is, first and foremost, a very friendly, collegial community of scholars. The conference presents early Canadianists with the all-too-rare opportunity to confer with historians who study the French empire in other parts of the world. What follows is a selective sampling of the many stimulating papers delivered at this year’s conference. Read the summaries of various sessions.

JAR: Battle of Gwynn’s Island: Lord Dunmore’s Last Stand in Virginia

By Michael Cecere 26 May 2016

With the Revolutionary War entering its second year in May of 1776, the focus of most Virginians was not on events to the north in Massachusetts, but rather, in Williamsburg and Norfolk. On May 15, the 5th Virginia Convention in Williamsburg (comprised of delegates from all the counties) voted unanimously to support independence from Great Britain for Virginia and instructed Virginia’s delegates at the Continental Congress is Philadelphia to propose a resolution on independence before the entire Congress.

Meanwhile, the deposed British royal governor, John Murray, the Earl of Dunmore, sat threateningly amongst a ragtag fleet of ships off of Norfolk, a town which lay in ruins from a massive fire that was set on New Year’s Day by “rebel” troops. Dunmore’s assorted force of British regulars (around 100), sailors from several British warships, loyal Tories and armed runaway slaves, had engaged Virginia’s “rebel” forces several times in 1775, the most bloody and significant occurring at Great Bridge in early December. Dunmore suffered a decisive defeat at Great Bridge and was forced to abandon Norfolk, which was subsequently torched by the rebels.

Months had passed since then and although Dunmore had remained largely passive, his presence in southeastern Virginia remained a threat to the colony, so much so that nearly all of the troops raised in Virginia by “rebel” authorities remained in the colony to defend it. Read more.

War of 1812: Henry and Frederick Winters, George Winter (Cont’d)

Nicholas decided to move back to New York State, quite possibly for a chance at land for his younger sons. He had unintentionally ended up serving on the wrong side in the Revolution, he had been too old to serve in the Stormont militia during the War of 1812, and he would never be able to get land for himself in Upper Canada. He could start again. It is not known when he left with his family, all except Henry and Sarah, but the Winters are recognized as one of the founding families of Sandy Creek, Oswego County, New York State. The family was definitely there before 1820. Sandy Creek is not far from Sacket’s Harbour; these communities are on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. The Sandy Creek historic records include the Winters among the original settlers in the town. Nicholas’ activity appeared in the local newspaper when he started the construction of a two story building, and there is a street named Winters Street. Apart from his son, William, who left New York State and came back into Ontario, the rest of the family (Dorothea, Peter and possibly the unnamed daughter) remained with Nicholas in the USA. Nicholas was successful in his application for an American veteran’s pension in 1832. In later years, a grandson named Peter Winters served in the Union army during the Civil War.

On Dec 10, 1831, Henry again petitioned for land, clergy reserve lot 38, concession 6, of Cornwall township. This time he was successful.

In 1835, three years after Nicholas started receiving an American veteran’s pension in Sandy Creek, Henry did get his militia bounty. As recognition for his six months of militia service, on July 10, 1835, Henry received a military certificate for 100 acres of land in Enniskillen (named for Enniskillen in Ireland), in Lambton County, just outside of the future town of Petrolia, Ontario. Henry and his family were already well settled in Cornwall by the time of the award. He did patent the Enniskillen land on August 12, 1835, and then he sold it to Phillip Vankoughnet, Esq. of the Town of Cornwall in October 1835.

Nancy and Henry had a “medium-sized family” for the day, and most of them remained in the general area. Nancy’s influence prompted a change of ancestry to Irish on census reporting.

[Submitted by Heather Traub, Edmonton – read the full history here.)

See Loyalists and the War of 1812 for previous submissions. More are welcome.

Research Resources

The Loyalists of Gaspesia: 1784–1984. In the summer of 1984 descendants of the United Empire Loyalists will have lived along the Gaspé Coast for two hundred years.The first arrivals — five hundred men, women, and children — overcame hunger, the harsh Gaspesian environment, and the bureaucratic nightmares of unsettled claims and unregistered land grants to leave a permanent record of their existence in villages from Gaspé to Matapedia. Read more, including a preliminary list of Loyalists.

Quebec Eastern Townships: Welcome to the Quebec Eastern Townships Archives Portal. This database brings together archival descriptions from historical societies and archives repositories from across the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Here, you will be able to dig into the rich history of the region by searching through records such as personal letters and diaries, business records, minute books from organizations, church registers, photographs, postcards, and maps. (from Beverly Loomis, Little Forks Branch)

USA State and Local Offices: Searching for State, County and local government offices can be a challenge (other words would describe better the degree of difficulty). Here’s a suggestion that may help. I’ve found www.countyoffice.org – a site with all different local county offices listed – pretty accurate for my purposes. It has a great number of local county and state offices with phone numbers, addresses and directions nationwide – at the very least, it has helped to eliminate my own headaches trying to dig up contact details when I’m trying to make a phone call. Thank you for your help – I hope some others will find it useful. (from Loretta Haines)

Where in the World?

Where is Nancy Conn of Gov. Simcoe Branch?

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.

  • Check out the new website by Calgary Branch. Congratulations!
  • The recreated King’s Royal Yorkers will be on parade at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto for The Battle of Black Creek on Father’s Day Weekend (June 18-June 19). This year’s presentation, as well as the usual encampment, musket drill and firing, and battles, will feature a fashion show showcasing male and female re-enactors representing the poorest of refugees to extreme ‘macaronis’. (In mid-1700s England, the word “macaroni” (pasta seldom seen in England), was applied to flamboyantly dressed young men imitating French or Italian fashion. The song, “Yankee Doodle,” poked fun at the idea that poorly dressed Yankees, or Americans, were naive enough to believe that putting “a feather in his cap” was high fashion enough to be a macaroni). A visit to Black Creek should be a must for anyone with a Loyalist background or interest (especially Yorker or Queen’s Rangers ancestry). The opportunity to stop in at the Black Creek Historic Brewery might provide further incentive! submitted by Captain Alex Lawrence, KRRNY

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • George III is born in England on this date (June 4) in 1738 – read his thoughts on losing the American colonies
  • Grave of a British soldier at Lexington Old Burying Ground. Photo. Historic marker a short distance from the kettle pond in Lexington. And another marker of a British soldier’s grave – is this one also in Lexington Old Burying Ground? And yet another plaque for more British soldiers.
  • Ever wonder about trade between Britain and the rest of the world in the mid-18th century? or the top five exports from North America to Britain? See this trade infograph from the George Washington library.
  • Historical Flags of Our Ancestors – American Revolutionary War Flags. Both sides are represented here with about 65 flags flown by the end of the War and then a bonus with some twenty-five flown subsequently.
  • The Mennonites and Quakers who sought refuge in Upper Canada as early as 1788 were invited and welcomed to Upper Canada by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe because of their qualities of honesty ad hard work, as well as their sense of community building, which would be of great benefit in the wilderness.
  • The massive Yorktown Victory Center, to be renamed the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, is a sprawling 80,000-square-foot facility dedicated to making America’s most important conflict accessible to the youth of today. The center will officially change its name in October, when the full breadth of its facilities are finished and become open to the public.
  • The beginning of the Varnum’s in Canada: Crestleaf.com’s 12 months of fascinating family finds. My brother-in-law asked if I knew anything about the Varnum branch of his and my husband’s family tree. I knew that when Thomas Cornish came from Cornwall, England, he married Mary Ann Varnum. On their gravestone, it indicates that Mary Ann was a “native of Quebec”. Read the story.

Last Post

John Greenhill Walker, LLD, UE

Colonel John Butler (Niagara) Branch is saddened to announce the passing of one of the last Life Members of the Branch and the UELAC. John Greenhill Walker, LLD – entered into rest on Thursday, May 26th, 2016. John was a descendant of Loyalist Lewis Cobes Clement and had been a member of the Association since 1988. He was the dearly loved husband of Carol Walker, dear father of David (Jennifer), Wendy (Michael) Mitchell, Ian and Geordie (Adrienne) Walker. Brother of Norris (late Marilyn) and the late David F. Walker. Fondly cherished former wife, Peggy Walker and her extended family. Predeceased by his parents John (Jack) and Nora Walker.

As a retired, fourth generation, co-owner of Walker Industries, John was as proud of the family legacy in business as he was in its community service and philanthropy. In addition to dozens of entrepreneurial and achievement awards, he served as chair and/or member of numerous boards including: Shaver Hospital (pre Hotel Dieu), Knox Presbyterian Church, Ridley College, Shaw Festival Theatre, AIDS Niagara, YMCA, Niagara Peninsula Children’s Centre Foundation and Honorary Chair of St. Catharines General Hospital Foundation’s Breakthrough Health Care Campaign.

He was an Executive in Residence at Brock University, where in 2001, they bestowed John with a Honorary Doctorate; and was awarded Golden Jubilee Medal honouring his many philanthropic achievements in 2002. He was the Honorary Co-Chair of “It’s Our Time” campaign for our new Hospital and Cancer Centre in St. Catharines. John’s sparkle and zest for life was contagious to all whom he met. He touched many people throughout his lifetime, often unknown to them, with a quiet and compassionate gesture. He loved to encourage and help young people strive to reach their goals and be at peace with their choices. Above all, John loved and was most proud of his family. A celebration of John’s life was held at Ridley College Memorial Chapel. Arrangements were entrusted to the George Darte Funeral Home. St. Catharines. Memorial Donations can be made to the Niagara Historical Society. Deepest sympathy to his family.

…Bev Craig, UE, Col. John Butler Branch

Catherine Elizabeth Neilina (MacMillan) Heath

(30 Jan 1923 – 2 June 2016.) Elizabeth died peacefully with family by her side in Weston, Ontario. She was the wife of the late Douglas W. Heath UE (deceased 2001). She is survived by children Anne Neuman (Daniel), James, Margaret Taylor, Robert (Marivic), Colin, daughter-in-law Jessica, and sister-in-law Marion Heath. Thirteen grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren also survive her. Her son, John, predeceased her in 2012.

She was the daughter of James Lewis MacMillan and Catherine McCuaig of Lochiel, Glengarry County, Ontario.

Elizabeth worked tirelessly for her Church (Weston Presbyterian) and her Community. In earlier days she travelled with her husband, Douglas, to various Churches checking registers and graveyards, registry offices and archives looking for elusive ancestors. She was a strong supporter of Clan MacMillan and the Governor Simcoe Branch of the UELAC.

Elizabeth will be missed by family and friends. Celebration of Life – Friday June 10, 2016 at Weston Presbyterian Church, Cross Street, Weston Ontario.

…Anne Neuman, UE, Gov. Simcoe Branch