“Loyalist Trails” 2016-31: July 31, 2016
In this issue:
– Conference 2016
– Heroes in the Loyalist Hall of Fame, by Stephen Davidson
– Data Correction: Revised Article “A Favour of the Queen”
– Joseph Brant, the Mohawk Warrior, Tribal Leader & Diplomat
– Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe, 1762-1850
– Historicist: Elizabeth Simcoe, A Toronto Pioneer
– JAR: War on the Middleline: The October 1780 British Raid on Ballston
– Home Makeover: Loyalist Estate Turned Patriot Headquarters
– 2016 UELAC Conference donates to Scholarship
– Reminder: Your Loyalist History in the Loyalist Gazette
– Where in the World?
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
+ Loyalist David Redding
© Stephen Davidson, UE
What makes a hero? How do we define a heroine? These have not been difficult questions for the descendants of the American Revolution’s patriots to answer. However, they have been met with almost universal silence by the those who look back to American loyalists as their ancestors. As we saw in last week’s Loyalist Trails, Canadian folk lore has no equivalent to patriot heroes such as Betsy Ross, Paul Revere, or George Washington. It is significant that in listing the 125 greatest Canadians, one historian was only able to identify a single hero from the loyalist era – Joseph Brant. But given the tens of thousands of colonists who retained their allegiance to the crown during the revolution, it stands to reason that the American Revolution should have produced many more heroes. And it did.
What, then, makes a loyalist hero or heroine? Let me suggest some parameters. First, he/she should be an American, born (or recently settled) in the thirteen coastal colonies. Brits such as John Graves Simcoe or Sir Guy Carleton made significant contributions during the revolution, but they were not loyal Americans. Secondly, nominees for a Hall of Loyalist Heroes should have done something over and above the expectations of their peers whether it was a military triumph or an individual act of courage.
Thirdly, the ending of each hero’s story needs to be considered. Dying for the cause is just one mark of valour, but if they did not die in service to the crown, then loyalist heroes should have found sanctuary in some part of the British Empire at the end of the revolution. Fourthly, their claim to heroism should be based on what they did during the war and not the contributions that they made in their new surroundings. Finally, their contemporaries should have recognized their heroism.
Using these guidelines, heroes and heroines of the loyalist era can readily be found among indigenous, European, and African Americans. Given that two-thirds of all loyalist refugees settled in Canada’s Maritime provinces, it will come as no surprise that this is where many – but not all – of the heroes will be found.
Here are thumbnail sketches of the first eleven men and women who – along with Joseph Brant – should be found in a Loyalist Hall of Fame, the faithful American heroes who have been overlooked by Canadian history.
(Editor’s note: To learn more about these loyalist heroes and heroines, refer to the archives of Loyalist Trails, the Loyalist Gazette, or the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.)
Captain John Bacon, New Jersey
Service: led the Barnegut Pirates, terrorized rebels on land, on the Delaware River and along Atlantic coast. Wounded after “massacre” in 1782, wanted dead or alive.
End of Story: Killed in New Jersey in 1783 after surrendering to patriots. Body paraded in triumph by patriots for several days.
Ann Bates, Pennsylvanian school teacher
Service: posing as a peddler gave detailed intelligence about rebels in New York, Philadelphia and South Carolina between 1778-80. One of the most valued secret agents.
End of Story: Settled in England after 1783.
Service: participated in battle at sea, freed loyalist prisoners, was wounded, loaded muskets during fight with Spanish, survived shipwreck of an evacuation vessel.
End of Story: Settled in New Brunswick, lost sons in War of 1812, watched battles in Upper Canada, compensated for service against “the hated Yankees.”
John Butler, Mohawk Valley farmer, interpreter
Service: Maintained loyalty of Six Nations people to crown, raised Butler’s Rangers – comprised of loyalists and Natives – to fight and harass rebels along New York frontier, diverted patriot forces from seaboard operations and prevented delivery of supplies to rebel army.
End of Story: After the Rangers were disbanded, he settled in the Niagara region where he died in 1796. Seen as “one of the great figures in European-Indian relations in North America.”
Titus Cornelius (Col. Tye), emancipated slave in his 20s
Service: commanded band of 800 white and black loyalists in New Jersey, for two years was a military threat to the patriots, inspired other blacks to seek freedom, recognized by enemies as “a brave and courageous man.”
End of Story: Died in New Jersey after being wounded in a 1780 attack on rebel leader. Remembered in USA slave folklore.
Mrs George Derbage, New Jersey housewife
Service: secret agent, courier, food supplier to British; arrested and “ill treated” by patriots, her service was rewarded following the war.
End of Story: settled in England with husband after receiving compensation for service as “a loyalist and active woman.”
Col. David Fanning of South Carolina
Service: Imprisoned 14 times, fought in 36 battles, commanded over 1,000 loyalists and recruited as many. Wounded twice, captured prisoners and burned rebel plantations – all while in his 20s. Reward offered for his capture.
End of Story: Fled to Florida in 1782 and then settled in New Brunswick where he was a legislature member. Wrote about adventures. Died in Nova Scotia in 1825.
Kate Fowler of Ninety-Six, South Carolina
Service: When fort held by loyalists was besieged by patriots, Fowler reportedly rode horseback to tell the commander not to surrender because rescue was on its way. Nine variations of her story!
End of Story: local brook and road named for her. Loyalist veterans from Fort Ninety-Six settled in Nova Scotia. Fowler apparently died in South Carolina.
Sir John Johnson, baron of Mohawk Valley estate
Service: Recruited for the King’s Royal Regiment of New York, led raids against rebels in Mohawk Valley, champion of loyalists and Natives.
End of Story: Initially settled in Upper Canada, finally moved to Montreal where he served in government before his death in 1830.
James Moody, Newton, New Jersey farmer
Service: led band of “Tory marauders”, recruited loyalists and spied on rebels in New Jersey, widely feared by patriots, Washington described him as “that villain Moody”. Recognized as “one of the most effective British raiders”
End of Story: Settled in Weymouth, Nova Scotia, wrote book about his adventures, and served in provinicial legislature. Died 1809.
Benjamin Whitecuff, free black farmer from Long Island
Service: 1776 – Spied in rebel territory for Sir Henry Clinton. Captured and hanged in New Jersey, but cut down by British soldiers before dying. Spied in Virginia.
End of Story: Became sailor in British Navy and saw action at Gibralter. Settled in England and received compensation. One of the handful of Black Loyalists to be so recognized.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
If you enjoyed Stephen Davidson’s article, “A Favour of the Queen,” in the May 29th edition of Loyalist Trails, you’ll be happy to know that untapped documents supplied by Elizabeth Urgy have clarified and corrected this story of a loyalist’s daughter. Visit the newsletter archive to read the revised (and enriched) story of a woman who wrote Queen Victoria about her loyalist heritage.
Joseph Brant or Thayendanegea (1743-1807) was a Mohawk warrior, tribal leader, and diplomat most notable for his alliance with the British during the American Revolution. Convinced of the strategic importance of the West, General George Washington expressed concern over the ability of his Continental forces to defend the New York frontier against joint Native and Loyalist raids led by Brant. As president, Washington recognized Brant’s influence in the Six Nations Confederacy and sought to include him in post-revolutionary negotiations between the United States and Brant’s fellow Iroquois leaders.
Read more about Joseph Brant. Also two videos about George Washington and the native Americans.
This upcoming civic holiday honours the first Lieutenant Governor, John Graves Simcoe. A detailed biography on John Simcoe is available on the Historical Narratives of Early Canada website which provides a good account of his military and historical achievements. (NOTE: On July 29, 1793 Lt Governor Simcoe scouts land Toronto Bay – start of planning for Upper Canada’s new capital, York — painting)
Credit in the development of Upper Canada could be shared with his adoring young wife, Elizabeth. This post will glance through Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe’s unique contributions in art, writing, and her support in shaping this new Canadian frontier.
The Toronto Project: The Elizabeth Simcoe Archives
Elizabeth Simcoe, 1790 and drawn by her friend, Mary Anne Burges in water colour taken from The Library and Archives Canada, no. 1972-118-2
Born in Northamptonshire, England on September 22nd in 1762, Elizabeth arrived into the world filled with bittersweet anticipation. Her father, Colonel Thomas Gwillim passed away several months before Elizabeth’s birth while posted to Germany on January 29, 1762. No specified cause was recorded on the manner of his death. Elizabeth’s mother, Elizabeth Sophia Gwillim, died within 24 hours after childbirth. In this midst of this deep sadness, her aunt, Margaret Spinkes, took over the care of her baby niece. Both the aunt and the aunt’s mother chose to name her Elizabeth Posthuma – her first name in honour of her mother and her middle name to reflect the passing of her parents.
Read the blog post about Elizabeth. several pictures, mostly about her time in Canada.
(By Kaitlin Wainwright) A prolific diarist and artist, Elizabeth Simcoe provides a portrait of 18th century Toronto.
“Everybody is sick of York. But no matter, the Lady likes the place and therefore everyone else must.” – Hannah Jarvis
The lady to whom Mrs. Jarvis, the wife of William Jarvis, was referring was Elizabeth Simcoe, wife of Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, the eponym of the annual Ontario holiday that takes place the first weekend of August. Mrs. Simcoe’s entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography describes her as a gentlewoman, an author, and an artist. However, had Elizabeth not arrived in Toronto in 1793 with her husband, her writing and art may not have been more than a passing interest to anyone other than her descendants. Read more.
(By James E. Richmond, July 25, 2016) The war on the New York frontier did not end with Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga in October 1777. Year after year the conflict raged on, taking on the characteristics of a civil war. This conflict was not fought by grand armies facing off in titanic struggles, but rather initiated by British Loyalists garrisoned in western New York and Canada, and their Iroquois allies, sometimes opposed by local American militia units. For the next several years, the settlements of German Flats, Springfield, Cobleskill, Canajoharie and Cherry Valley were among those attacked, their inhabitants losing their farms, crops and livestock to the raiders. In 1779 General Washington authorized Gen. John Sullivan to conduct a campaign to destroy the Iroquois’ ability to remain in the war. Their massive raid though central New York inflicted destruction similar to what the American settlements had been sustaining. However, the Iroquois warriors retreated before the advance of the invasion and regrouped around their British allies at Fort Niagara. They survived to fight another day, and the next year they carried out their own retribution.
In May 1780, Sir John Johnson, son and heir of Sir William Johnson, led his King’s Royal Regiment and Loyalists drawn from Maj. Edward Jessup’s King’s Loyal Americans and Maj. Daniel McAlpin’s American Volunteers, along with a group of Mohawk warriors, south from Crown Point. This force totaling 528 men headed straight for Johnstown, where on May 21 they scattered a small contingent of Tryon County Militia men opposing them, capturing twenty-seven. They burned 120 barns, mills and houses, gathered up 143 local Loyalists and headed back to Crown Point. Read more.
In July 1775, George Washington chose a house on Watertown Road near the Charles River as his headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was a stately manor owned by loyalist John Vassall. John and Elizabeth Vassall, and their six children ages 12 – infancy, left their Cambridge estate in September 1774 to seek the protection of British soldiers stationed in Boston. John Vassall’s Cambridge estate of nearly 90 acres was the largest and most elegant in the area. Vassall’s wealth was inherited and came primarily from farms in Jamaica where slaves tended vast plantations. The Vassalls also owned slaves that worked in the home and gardens at their Cambridge estate. At first glance, Washington and Vassall don’t seem all that different. Both were plantation and slave owners. Both had inherited substantial sums of money, Washington’s wealth coming from his marriage to Martha. Perhaps these similarities are what drew Washington to pick this recently abandoned estate as his military headquarters. Read more.
It’s a good day when UELAC receives news of a generous donation to the Loyalist Scholarship Endowment Fund!
The 2016 UELAC conference committee has donated $2,000 in support of Loyalist scholarship. Thank you to the committee members for putting academic research high on your list of priorities – Peter Van Iderstine UE; Jim McKenzie UE; Carol Harding UE; Christine Manzer UE; and Dave Laskey UE. This gift was made possible by the many members who participated in the very successful 2016 conference ‘Loyalists, Lighthouses, Lobsters’ and so we also thank you!
And while attention is focused on the Atlantic Region, the New Brunswick Branch met early this week and voted to send $1,000 to UELAC Loyalist Scholarship. Sincere thanks from the scholarship committee. I love my (volunteer) job!
With the establishment of the Loyalist Scholarship Endowment Fund, branches and individuals can give to a fund dedicated to grow and support Loyalist scholarship for years to come. The next time you consider giving please remember the Loyalist Scholarship Endowment Fund. For donations of $10 or more, a tax receipt will be issued by UELAC Head Office, or by CanadaHelps if online. Donate here.
Your efforts in support of UELAC scholarship today are an investment in the future.
…Bonnie Schepers UE, Scholarship Committee
Do you have some quality research on your loyalist ancestor, or perhaps another Loyalist, or maybe some research into the Loyalist era you would like to share, have published?
The deadline for submissions to the Fall 2016 issue of The Loyalist Gazette is 01 August 2016.
Reports from Branches as well as feature articles about our Loyalist ancestors or the War of 1812 are always welcome.
Please send me articles as e-mail attachments, in MS Word, and send photos, also as e-mail attachments, in jpeg format, with at least 300 dpi resolution for each image, i.e. at least one megabyte in size.
Just do it! There is some leeway with August 1 as a deadline, but please send me a note now if you will be submitting an item.
…Bob McBride, UE, UELAC Publications Chairperson and Editor of the Loyalist Gazette
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Queen Charlotte wears incredible punctured silk reminiscent of Elizabethan slashing, c1764
- Wall Plaque in Trinity Church to Rev. Roger Viets, United Empire Loyalist, Digby, Nova Scotia (Brian McConnell UE)
- The “unutterable things” of Gen. Charles Lee. In 1775-76, Americans saw him as a military genius and were willing to chuckle about his many eccentricities. Once he challenged Gen. George Washington in 1778, however, Lee became less popular. And public opinion and the media shape history!
- Campfire Journey Cakes (video) If you are on the trail and need to prepare a quick dish, this recipe is for you! Journey Cakes were very portable and easy to make, often served at taverns for weary travelers. This recipe by Harriott Pinckney Horry from around 1770 is a perfect little recipe to prepare at events!
- The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 ended slavery in the British Empire on August 1, 1834, and thus also in Canada. However, the first colony in the British Empire to abolish slavery was Upper Canada, now Ontario. John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada (1791-1796), passed an Act Against Slavery in 1793, which led to the abolition of slavery in Upper Canada by 1810. It was superseded by the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. In 2008, the Province of Ontario dedicated August 1 as “Emancipation Day”. Locally, the August Holiday in Toronto has been designated as “Simcoe Day” to commemorate Ontario’s John Graves Simcoe.
That name may not ring a bell with you, as it has been 35 years since his bones were put to rest, but he was a Loyalist with quite a history in and around Bennington, Vermont – a famous case, in fact. The rebels executed him for “enemical conduct” in 1778 and wouldn’t give him a proper burial.
His skeleton was preserved, however, and (to make a long story short) came to the Bennington Museum in the early 20th century. His remains were finally interred in 1981 at a common gravesite with American and German veterans of the Battle of Bennington (in which Redding fought as a member of the Queen’s Loyal Rangers).
I know from Museum files (from the 1970s) that UELAC had expressed a keen interest in his fate and planned to send representatives to the burial ceremony (if there ever was to be one), but I don’t see any record of what really happened or who was in attendance. I am devoting a page to Redding in a book about the Battle, and I would like to “close the case.” Can you help me with any information? Thanks!
…Phil Holland, Shaftsbury, Vermont