“Loyalist Trails” 2017-12: March 19, 2017

In this issue:
2017 UELAC Conference: Discover Your Roots
Expanding the Headlines of 1777: Unrepentant Daniel Taylor, by Stephen Davidson
Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Finding Lost Loyalists: Research Approaches
Borealia: Anishinaabe Aspirations — Anishinaabeg in the War of 1812
JAR: Experience, Policies, Failures: President Washington & the Native Americans
Loyalist Gazette: Last Year’s Spring Issue 2016 now Available To All
Ben Franklin’s World: Death, Suicide, & Slavery in British North America
Branches of UELAC
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
      + More Information about Ludwick


2017 UELAC Conference: Discover Your Roots

June 22 – 25, 2017; London, Ontario

Hosted by: London & Western Ontario Branch and Grand River Branch

Registration and details.

Expanding the Headlines of 1777: Unrepentant Daniel Taylor

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Although Lieutenant Daniel Taylor was executed on October 18, 1777, the loyalist refugees who had found sanctuary in New York City did not learn of his fate until they opened the pages of the November 22nd edition of Rivington’s Royal Gazette. As was typical of the era, the news story was more like a 21st century “tweet”: “Mr Taylor, a spy, was taken with a letter to Burgoyne and hanged at Hurley.”

Strangely enough, a patriot chaplain gave more attention to the British lieutenant’s death than did the loyalist editor of the Gazette. The anonymous padre wrote these words in his diary’s entry for Saturday, October 18th while stationed in Hurley, New York: “Mr. Taylor, a spy taken in Little Britain, was hung here. Mr. Romain and myself attended him yesterday, and I have spent the morning in discoursing to him, and attended him at the gallows. He did not appear to be either a political or gospel penitent.”

Who was the unrepentant Daniel Taylor? Let’s see what can be learned by a deeper investigation of an all too brief news account in a loyalist newspaper of 1777.

Daniel Taylor was a first lieutenant in Captain Stewart’s company of the Ninth Regiment of the Royal Army. This regiment was under the command of Sir Henry Clinton and had been proceeding up the Hudson River, harassing patriot towns, including Kingston. Rebels had made the latter the new patriot capital of New York after the British had captured New York City. In early October, thirty British vessels carrying 1600 troops sailed up the Hudson River with the intent of attacking the rebel capital and burning it to the ground.

Meanwhile, General Burgoyne’s troops had been working their way south from Canada down the Hudson River to crush the patriot forces, hoping to drive a wedge between the rebellious New England colonies and the less volatile Middle Colonies. The burning of Kingston was bound to divert the attention of rebel forces from Burgoyne’s advancement, and Clinton sent out messengers to let the general know what was happening along the lower Hudson River. Daniel Taylor, to his lasting regret, was one of those messengers.

Although he had been instructed to avoid any rebel encampment on his way north to rendezvous with Burgoyne, Taylor approached red-coated sentinels outside of Little Britain on October 10th, thinking that they were allies. To his great dismay, they were, in fact, rebels wearing redcoats that they had recently taken from British soldiers. Later described as “lurking near the camp” (all the better to justify his being charged with espionage), Taylor was immediately arrested and brought before General George Clinton, an officer in the Continental Army.

Taylor insisted that he was a messenger who was simply delivering a letter for General Burgoyne and not a spy for the British army. He probably didn’t help his case when he swallowed the small silver ball that contained the letter to Burgoyne.

In an account of Taylor’s arrest, the patriot general said that this ball had an oval shape and was “about the size of a ‘fusee’ bullet, and shut with a screw in the middle. When he was taken and brought before me he swallowed it. I … administered to him a very strong emetic calculated to act either way. This had the desired effect; it brought it from him; but though close watched, he had the art to conceal it a second time. I … demanded the ball on pain of being hung up instantly and being cut open to search for it. This brought it forth.”

After opening the silver ball, Clinton read a short and very innocuous note that communicated the hope that “this little success of ours may facilitate your operations … I heartily wish you success.” There was no critical intelligence on rebel movements, no descriptions of British military plans. To this day, no one has demonstrated that it was a coded message. Being in possession of such a letter was hardly worth imprisonment, let alone execution.

However, the rebel officers who convened a court martial on October 14th thought differently. Despite Taylor’s continued protestations of simply being a messenger, “the Court after considering the case, were of opinion that the prisoner is guilty of the charge brought against him, and adjudged him to suffer death, to be hanged at such time and place as the General shall direct.”

Two days later, the British attacked Kingston. Arriving too late to save the capital, the patriot troops marched west through its charred streets to the town of Hurley where Clinton established his new military headquarters. Taylor’s execution had been delayed while the patriots scrambled to come to the aid of Kingston, but once his captors had encamped in Hurley, his hours were numbered.

Taking macabre glee in recounting the execution of a British prisoner, the records of the day spare no detail. The rebel soldiers sought out a suitable hangman’s tree in their new headquarters, finding a ten-foot apple tree “forty-two and one tenth feet from the south corner of the Van Sickle house at a point sixty and two-tenths feet from the northwest corner of the kitchen … From the trunk projected towards the west a large limb about ten feet above the ground. To this the noose was attached.” (This tree would remain standing in Hurley until about 1840. The townsfolk remembered it for its sweet read apples.)

In 1827, the editor of the local paper interviewed those who remembered Taylor’s execution. The Ulster Sentinel carried this account of the October 16th hanging: “{Taylor} had a long, thin rope around his neck, which was coiled and carried after him by a soldier. On halting at Marbletown, he was led into the church, then used as a depot, and being seated near the pulpit the poor wretch bent himself forward to hide his face, and the rope was then coiled upon his back. At Hurley, three miles from the smoking ruins of Kingston, Taylor was hung on the bough of an apple tree … not far from the village … A hogshead was placed under the bough, the culprit mounted upon it, and the rope being fastened above, the executioner kicked the hogshead over. {Taylor} fainted, however, before the fatal kick was given, and thus had an apparently easy death.” The soldier who served as hangman took the British lieutenant’s boots for his reward.

Clinton’s men buried Taylor in a grave just ten feet from the front door of the Van Sickle house. (One wonders what the family thought of these arrangements.) Decades later, an old gentleman remembered that as a schoolboy, he could still see the mound over the Taylor’s grave. “It was the proper thing for patriotic lads to dance upon it.”

George Clinton, the patriot general, kept Taylor’s silver ball as a memento of the war. It eventually passed into the care of the New York Historical Society, but not before a descendant of Clinton’s –a young boy—unintentionally swallowed it. As with Taylor in an earlier century, the boy was given an emetic, retrieving the ball for posterity.

On the day following Taylor’s execution, General Burgoyne surrendered to rebel troops in the aftermath of the Battle of Saratoga. The letter in the silver ball became a moot point — it was completely irrelevant to the events leading up to the British defeat and to Burgoyne’s surrender. Tragically, its only significance was that it had been the basis for accusing Daniel Taylor of espionage — a crime he denied vehemently to the very end.

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

Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Finding Lost Loyalists: Research Approaches

by Leah Grandy PhD, Harriet Irving Library

To further our blog post from last week on the “Lost Loyalists” of York County, New Brunswick, we wanted to walk you through the research process and variety of sources used for this biographical project. Most sources were accessible from within the Harriet Irving Library in either microfilm, print or electronic form. The basic research guide we followed gave the student assistants working on the project a starting point, which lead them to invaluable research experience.

Firstly, we decided to include the area within the modern boundaries of York County which encompassed the parishes of Kingsclear, Fredericton, Prince William, St. Mary’s, Douglas, Queensbury, and Southampton. The original York County was much larger than the present version, comprising even the District of Madawaska at the New Brunswick-Quebec border.

The starting point of the project began with the index of loyalists in the appendix of Esther Clark Wright’s seminal work, Loyalists of New Brunswick.

Read more.

Borealia: Anishinaabe Aspirations — Anishinaabeg in the War of 1812

This is the third and final post in a series exploring this question. Previously, I discussed the importance of Michilimackinac for Anishinaabe peoples and a subsequent essay addressed British policy as it was explained to the Anishinaabeg in council. Today’s post focuses on the Anishinaabe reactions to the Treaty of Ghent, official news of which was sent to the Department of Indian Affairs on 12 March 1815 with instructions to “notify the same, in full council, to the Indian Warriors.”

By the early summer, news of the peace had begun to spread around the Great Lakes. At Michilimackinac, a place that following the Treaty would be considered part of the United States, Lieutenant Colonel Robert McDouall assembled the Western Confederacy peoples together to discuss issues arising from the Treaty. On June 3, 1815, the Odawa chiefs, through Makade-binesi (aka Makatepinessy aka Black Hawk), decided to make a proposal to the representatives of the Crown in an effort to maintain Michilimackinac as part of their territory:

Father — Last year you called your children around you and told them to defend this island; that it was the most important place on this side of Quebec, it was the key to the whole North and Western country and if we stood by you like faithful children you would not give it up to the enemy but defend it to the last. Now Father your children have been here and faithful, they stood by you and when the enemy had effected a landing your children beat them back to their vessels and saved this island.

Father — We have learnt with sorrow that this great and important place is to be given up to the Big Knives but as we fought for it we are not willing to part with it. We therefore hope you will act by us as we have done with you. We & the principal chiefs and warriors of our nation desire you will send a suitable messenger to acquaint our Great Father the King that we the Ottawas of L’Herbe au Croch will give two leagues of our own land to the Big Knives in lieu of this island which Great Father has capitulated to return to the Big Knives.

Read more.

JAR: Experience, Policies, Failures: President Washington & the Native Americans

by Geoff Smock, March 14, 2017

As Joseph J. Ellis succinctly puts it, “Instead of going to college, Washington went to war.” His was an education not in abstract theories, but in gritty realities. Chief among these was Washington’s personal experience fighting Native Americans during his first regular military command as colonel of the “Virginia Regiment” from 1755 to 1759.

All too soon and all too often, the young colonel suffered through a painful curricula in the realities of Indian warfare. These lessons would become seared into his memory, to be summoned over thirty years later when he became the United States of America’s first chief executive and responsible for its Native American policies.

First among these lessons was that indigenous warriors had a “home field advantage” fighting in the wilderness terrain of the American hinterlands.

In September of 1783, nearly twenty-eight years later, Washington was preparing to resign the second independent command of his life: commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. At peace in the naïve belief that his time serving the public was nearing a permanent end, he reflected on the policies the new republic should adopt towards western lands and the indigenous peoples who inhabited them. In so doing, he tapped the deep reservoir of his own experiences fighting them in the Virginia Regiment three decades earlier.

He envisioned a pacific approach, with clearly-delineated boundary lines between tribal territories and white settlements, “beyond which we will endeavor to restrain our People from Hunting or Settling, and within which they shall not come, but for the purposes of Trading, Treating, or other business unexceptionable in its nature.” Any and all territory acquired should only be done through negotiation and for fair compensation.

Read more about how he tried, but other forces would not be stopped.

Loyalist Gazette: Last Year’s Spring Issue 2016 now Available To All

The Loyalist Gazette is published twice each year by UELAC in a magazine format with about 52 pages of historical articles, branch news, UELAC activities, book reviews, lots of photos and more.

The publication is also available in digital format, which offers colour throughout and an earlier delivery. Many members have requested the digital copy, and a good portion of those are now receiving the journal only in digital format, although some prefer to also receive the paper copy. All of these digital subscribers were recently reminded of their digital preferences.

NEW: The digital version is made public about one year after its release date. You can now see the Spring 2016 issue here – prior issues are there as well.

…Robert McBride, UE, Publications Committee

Ben Franklin’s World: Death, Suicide, & Slavery in British North America

By Liz Covart. Episode 125

Early America was a diverse place. It contained many different people who had many different traditions that informed how they lived…and died.

How did early Americans understand death? What did they think about suicide?

Terri Snyder, a Professor of American Studies at California State University, Fullerton and author of The Power to Die: Slavery and Suicide in British North America, helps us answer these questions, and more, as she takes us on an exploration of slavery and suicide in British North America.

During our conversation, Terri reveals why we need to study and understand death and suicide in early America; How 18th-century Europeans, Euro-Americans, and Africans understood and viewed suicide; And what the historical record reveals about why some slaves committed acts of self-destruction and how anti-slavery reformers used their deaths to further their cause.

More details and listen.

Branches of UELAC

What are Brantford, British Columbia, Upper Canada, Cornelius Thompson and Shelburne Branches? Do you recognize them? All are former branches of UELAC.

Details about them, and about each of the current branches can be found at Growth of the Association: Branches, which is part of the History of the UELAC section of our website. Almost all of the material here was at least coordinated by, if not developed by, Fred Hayward. Be sure to check out the “Branching Out” reports associated with most branches for details that were printed in the Loyalist Gazette over the years.

Where in the World?

Where are John Eaman (London & Western Ontario), Ed Morrissey (Halifax-Dartmouth), and John Chard (Kingston 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.

  • Sir Guy Carleton Branch in Ottawa will host a Spring Social/Annual General Meeting on Saturday April 22, 2017 at 11:30am – All are welcome!  AT the Best Western Plus Ottawa City Centre, 1274 Carling Avenue, Ottawa. The speaker: Romaine Honey speaking about “Ottawa Public Library: Hidden and not-so-hidden Treasures for Genealogists” For more details, price, ordering tickets etc.  visit http://www.uelac.org/Carletonuel/events.htm

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Brian McConnell UE visits the grave of United Empire Loyalist Henry Magee at Oak Grove Cemetery in Kentville, Nova Scotia and provides information about Henry.
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos)
    • 12 Mar 1776 Appreciation of the support of women for war effort is published in several Baltimore-area newspapers.
    • 13 Mar 1777 Through its agents in Europe, Congress calls forforeign military experts to aid in leading rebellion.
    • 14 Mar 1776 Alexander Hamilton receives commission as Capt. in NY artillery company, leading with great distinction.
    • 15 Mar 1783 Washington persuades unhappy militiamen at Newburgh, NY to abandon plans for uprising over unpaid wages.
    • 16 Mar 1776 British naval commanders learn that Americans are loading military supplies at three Spanish ports.
    • 16 Mar 1778 London House of Commons creates a peace commission to negotiate with the Americans because France recognized the US Revolutionary War
    • 17 Mar 1776 British forced out of Boston following Washington’s fortification of Dorchester Heights over city.
    • 18 Mar 1766 Parliament accedes to American resolve and repeals Stamp Act, but later goes on to pass Townshend Acts.
  • Martha Washington’s London-made, c1759 wedding shoes – purple silk, encrusted w/spangles.
  • 18th century clay tobacco pipe fragment just turned up at the transition between our first and second soil color change in the Old North Church crypt in Boston
  • In the city hall at Saint John NB, a painting of the Landing of the Loyalists.
  • Bostonian Society. Every piece in our collection has a story to tell (even some we can’t be sure are true).
  • 18th Century cooking: Cod With An “Eggy” Sauce by Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc.
  • Canada Online Historical Newspaper Links. This past month I have been updating the articles published in the past that contain links to both Free and Subscriber based online historical newspapers for Canada. Each article focuses on one single province (the territories are grouped into one article). There are over 220 newspaper titles that have been added country wide in the last several months! In total there are about 2,600 historical newspapers that are available online for free and the links are included in these articles. All publication dates for each newspaper are not online and not all newspapers ever published in Canada are either. But the 2,600 newspapers that are available online are a great place to start.
  • Mi’kmaq craftsperson to teach birch bark canoe building in Millbrook NS. A master Mi’kmaq craftsperson is going to build a birch bark canoe with four interns in Millbrook to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary. “You can’t learn everything about building a canoe in six weeks, but I will show them the process,” says Labrador. “For example, splitting spruce roots: I need to harvest and prepare about 700 feet of spruce roots — it takes weeks and months of practice to develop that skill.”


More Information about Ludwick

From last week’s Loyalist Trails: Ephraim was sixty years old when he travelled with Ludwick Cypher’s family on the John and Jane in September of 1783. While it is know that Cypher eventually settled on Grand Lake, the final home of Ephraim is unknown. He is the only person in the Book of Negroes who is described as a “freeborn Indian” with no reference to African ancestors.


The focus of my article was on those of indigenous heritage found in The Book of Negroes. I was only interested in Cypher because he served as an escort for Ephraim. However, the Book of Negroes has many tiny crumbs of information that sometime lead to a bigger story, but more often than not result in dead ends. This is how your ancestor appears in a transcript of the Book of Negroes:

22 September to 3 October 1783 John & Jane [no destination given]: William Dawson

Ephraim, 60, stout man of his age, (Ludwick Syphle). Freeborn Indian.

As you can see this little “crumb” of data gives you the name of the evacuation ship that brought your ancestor to New Brunswick, the dates of the journey, and the name of his ship’s captain. Many loyalist descendants do not have such information.

Thanks to a list of loyalists who received rations from Fort Howe in what is now Saint John (the list is called a victualling muster), we know that your ancestor Cypher (is this how you usually spell his name?) arrived in Saint John and stayed there for at least a year. The victualling muster indicates that Cypher arrived with a wife, 2 children above ten, and one child ten or younger. He also had two servants. A year later, the muster indicates that only a servant remained of the original family unit. If this is true, then Cypher’s wife and children died in his first year in Saint John.

The John and Jane carried 55 soldiers who were members of the 7th, 17th, 37th, and 38th Regiment. These men were either British or German soldiers. As such, they would not be considered “loyalists” and so their names would not appear in claims for compensation — a place where many loyalist descendants find helpful data.

However, the probate records of New Brunswick are not limited to loyalists.

SYPHER, Lodewick

Parish of Waterborough, Queens County, Yeoman. Will dated 29 January 1820, proved 14 January 1823. Grandson David SYPHER Junior Lot 10 on the northwest side of Grand Lake. Son John Tompkins SYPHER Lots 30 and 31 after my wife’s decease. Son David SYPHER residue of real estate. Wife Sarah use of real and personal estate for life. Grand-daughter Sarah Ferdon EARLE £25. Grandson Lodewick SYPHER £25. Grandson Lodewick SYPHER, son of David SYPHER, £25. Grandson William SYPHER, son of William SYPHER deceased, £12 10s. Grandson William Earle SYPHER £12 10s. Friends Thomas COX, David PALMER and my son David SYPHER executors. Witnesses: William EARL, Samuel LAMBERT, Christopher COLE. Inventory, dated 11 January 1823, valued at £1,470 by Joshua CALKIN and Jacob ALLBRIGHT.

Wiliam Sypher/Cypher may have been a brother. His name also appears on the victualling muster and is listed as a passenger on the John and Jane.

As I said, the most one can usually find in a data search are a few “crumbs”. I hope that these findings are enough to help you discover more about your ancestor.