“Loyalist Trails” 2017-21: May 21, 2017

In this issue:
2017 UELAC Conference: Discover Your Roots
Lorenzo Sabine: Calling a Spade a Spade, by Stephen Davidson
Six Nations: Haldimand Tract, 1784, Where They Settled
Redcoats and War Crimes
Junto: Q&A with Marisa Fuentes, Author of Dispossessed Lives
JAR: The 3rd New Jersey Regiment’s Plundering of Johnson Hall
Ben Franklin’s World: Clergymen and the Politics of Revolutionary America
American Revolution Mohawk Valley Conference, June 10-11
Loyalists and the War of 1812: James Kelsey and sons Samuel and John
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post: James Robertson Zavitz, UE
Victoria Day


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.

Lorenzo Sabine: Calling a Spade a Spade

© Stephen Davidson, UE

In the town of Eastport, Maine, a merchant named Lorenzo Sabine spent years in pursuit of the stories of as many loyalists as he could discover in the family papers, primary documents, and histories of the American Revolution. His ambitious goal was to amass a biographical dictionary for a group of Americans who had been repeatedly maligned and misrepresented in the six decades since the conclusion of the War of Independence. The results of his Herculean efforts was The American Loyalists: Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution, a book that featured over 4,000 biographies of “Tories” from all walks of life.

Sabine’s work has since become a standard reference tool for genealogists and historians who want to know more about the revolution’s loyal Americans. But it is far more than a compendium of the war’s losers. Sabine wanted his readers to understand the history of the revolution from the perspective of the loyalists and so the first fourteen chapters of his book recount the events from the British government’s taxation of the colonies in the 1760s to the success of the loyalist founders of British North America up into the 1840s. The final chapter outlines the decline in the public spirit of the United States, the lack of patriotism, and the sins of the Continental Army. Sabine set out to demonstrate that the loyalists were not demons nor were the patriots angels.

Before launching into over 4,000 loyalists’ biographical entries, Sabine concluded his fourteen-chapter overview of the revolution with these words: “Such, rapidly told, is the dark side of the story of the Revolution, as concerns the winners. I relate it here for several reasons. First, because it is due to the losers in the strife. Second, to show, what many persons are slow to believe, that there were wicked Whigs ” as well as wicked ” Tories.” Third, to do something to correct the exaggerated and gloomy views which are often taken of the degenerate spirit of the present times, founded on erroneous, because on a partial, estimate of the virtues of a by-gone age. “

Sabine speaks with such passion and conviction because he had, after all, confronted the “dark side of the Revolution” as he accumulated the experiences of so many individual loyalists. While one could, perhaps, ignore the atrocities experienced by a handful of loyal Americans that might have fallen into the hands of the Sons of Liberty, one could not sweep under the carpet the hundreds upon hundreds of fellow Americans who had been unjustly persecuted. It would be like denying the Holocaust of World War Two.

Sabine poured out his indignation and horror at the patriots’ treatment of loyalists in the ninth chapter of The American Loyalists. A series of rhetorical questions (only some of which are quoted below) called into doubt the wisdom of those patriots who used violence as a tool of persuasion.

“What “brother” … was won over to the right by the arguments of mobbing, burning, and smoking? … Did the cause of America and of human freedom gain strength by the deeds of the five hundred who mobbed Sheriff Tyng? … Did … the assault upon the home of Gilbert, and the shivering of Sewall’s windows, serve to wean them, or their friends and connections, from their royal master?… Did Ruggles … forget that the creatures which grazed his pastures had been painted, shorn, maimed, and poisoned; that he had been pursued on the highway by day and night; that his dwelling had been broken open, and he and his family driven from it?… On whose cheek should have been the blush of shame, … when Williams, as infirm as he, was seized at night, dragged away for miles, and smoked in a room with fastened doors and a closed chimney-top? … What father, who doubted, wavered, and doubted still, whether to join or fly, determined to abide the issue in the land of his birth, because foul words were spoken to his daughters, or because they were pelted when riding, or moving in the innocent dance?”

Of course, Sabine’s readers had never heard of the names to which his rant referred, but Sabine knew them intimately, having compiled their stories. As an introduction, these rhetorical questions whetted the appetite of his readers to learn the stories behind the reported persecutions. For Sabine, as the collective biographer of the loyalists, these questions underscored his point. “The warfare waged against persons at their own homes and about their lawful avocations is not to be justified; and the “mobs” of the Revolution are to be as severely and as unconditionally condemned as the “mobs” of the present day.”

Not content to shame the behaviour of individual patriots, Sabine then went on to list the actions taken by the legislatures of the rebelling colonies against their loyal citizens. Massachusetts was one of the states held up for its cruelty to the loyalists. It “designated by name, and generally by occupation and residence, 308 of her people, of whom 17 had been inhabitants of Maine, who had fled from their homes, and denounced against any one of them who should return, apprehension, imprisonment, and transportation to a place possessed by the British; and, for a second voluntary return, without leave, death.”

Added to the sins of individuals and governments were the failures of the courts to see justice done to the loyalists. Said Sabine, “I cannot but feel … that we shall be asked to show for them {the loyalists}, why, with tribunals established and open for the trial of prizes made upon the sea, the fundamental rule of civilized society, that no person shall be deprived of “property but by the judgment of his peers was violated; and why, without being “confronted by witnesses,” and with out the verdict of a “jury” and decrees of a court, any man in America was divested of his lands.

Loyalist history was not just an intellectual exercise for Lorenzo Sabine; it became a call to justice for those wronged and a demand for a full disclosure of the forgotten truths of the American Revolution. If Truth and Reconciliation Commissions had existed in the 1840s, one does not find it difficult to imagine Sabine demanding that one be created for the sake of the loyalists. Such is the influence of knowledge. Discovering the actual events of history was life changing for Sabine.

What was it that had so shaken Lorenzo Sabine’s original understanding of the American Revolution’s combatants? Next week’s Loyalist Trails will provide a sample of the stories he unearthed and offered up as evidence to his fellow Americans.

To read all that Lorenzo Sabine had to say about the loyalists, download your own free copy of The American Loyalists.

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

Six Nations: Haldimand Tract, 1784, Where They Settled

Around 1783 to 1785, the colonial government was very busy setting up what would devolve into the biggest land fraud in Canadian history.

Joseph Brant knew and came to trust Sir Frederick Haldimand, and believed in the integrity of the Crown of Britain. So when the Haldimand Promise was issued to the Mohawks on the recommendation of Haldimand’s predecessor, Guy Carlton, that an equal amount of land to any land the Mohawks lost if they join allegiance with Britain against the unruly American rebels, Brant wanted to hear more.

But Brant wasn’t blindly subservient to the Crown and wanted some assurances. Brant found them acceptable, as did the warriors of the Mohawks and any others from the Five Nations or their allies who would also be cut in on the promise following the end of the American Revolution, no matter which way it went.

Brant fully expected the Crown to finish surveying the land promised “six miles deep along the Grand River from its source to its mouth”. That was not to be the case.

Read more.

Redcoats and War Crimes

By Stephen Brumwell. Far from a high-minded fight for liberty, the American Revolution was characterized by brutality on both sides.

In the early hours of Sept. 28, 1778, several hundred British redcoats stealthily approached the village of Old Tappan, close to New Jersey’s border with New York. Their commander, Maj. Gen. Charles Grey, had ordered them to remove the flints from their muskets to minimize any risk of gunfire that would rob them of surprise as they closed in upon their objective, a Continental Army cavalry regiment billeted in barns nearby. But their long, lethal bayonets were fixed and ready for use. The Americans, believing themselves among friendly inhabitants and safe from attack, were taken unawares when the British burst in. Half asleep, dozens were bayonetted or clubbed with musket butts before they could reach for their weapons and defend themselves. Others who tried to surrender fared no better and were likewise skewered or, in the words of a British officer, “knock’d on the head.” Before the bloodshed ended, more than 70 had been killed, wounded or captured.

But as Holger Hoock shows in Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth, the events of that bloody night also resonated long afterward. Shocked at the “massacre” of an elite unit that included the young sons of many prominent Virginian families, Congress swiftly authorized an investigation to document the unwarranted brutality of the British. Its report, conducted to forensic standards and complete with the harrowing depositions of wounded survivors, was widely printed in Patriot newspapers as part of a sophisticated propaganda campaign to prove what Congress called the “savage cruelty” of the British Empire. Mr. Hoock views this as a prescient precursor of later efforts to exploit “war crimes” in order to “control the narrative” and claim the “moral high ground” in a conflict.

Read more [the rest of the article looks at the atrocities on both sides].

Junto: Q&A with Marisa Fuentes, Author of Dispossessed Lives

Loyalist Trails 2017-18 on April 30, included a reference to a review of Marisa J. Fuentes’ new book, Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive.

• Marisa J. Fuentes is Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Read Marisa’s answers to:

• What were the biggest challenges you worked through in determining your approach to locating women’s voices in the archives you worked in?

• Can you explain what you mean by “bias grain?” How did you apply it to your own research?

• “Archival power” is a central theme in your research; in particular, the ways in which archival representativeness (or lack thereof) distorts enslaved women’s narratives. Can explain a bit more about how your book discusses and challenges archival power?

• Your discussion of the reading of scars in runaway narratives and its connection to ownership was particularly fascinating. Can you elaborate more about your use of scars as historical sources?

Read more.

JAR: The 3rd New Jersey Regiment’s Plundering of Johnson Hall

by Philip D. Weaver May 18, 2017

The newly formed 3rd New Jersey Regiment, commanded by Col. Elias Dayton, was mustered into the Continental Army on May 2, 1776. It was reviewed in New York City by Generals Washington, Putnam, Sullivan, and Greene. The regiment’s Capt. Joseph Bloomfield noted in his personal journal that the generals claimed they were the “compleatest and best regiment in the Continental service” Bloomfield’s 2nd lieutenant, Ebenezer Elmer noted that “Gen Washington made bold to say we were the flower of all the North American Forces”

Wasting no time, the regiment embarked in sloops for Albany the very next day. They were bound for Canada, with several other regiments belonging to Brig. Gen. John Sullivan’s relief force. Apparently Colonel Dayton was not with them. He received the following order by Adjutant General Horatio Gates from Headquarters in New York, dated May 9, 1776:

It is his Excellency General Washington’s orders, you proceed to Albany, where you will receive and obey the orders of Major-General Schuyler, with respect to joining your Regiment upon their march to Canada, and to the assistance he thinks proper to order you to give in transporting ammunition, artillery, stores, and provisions, to Quebeck. As the service requires despatch, his Excellency depends upon your utmost diligence in forwarding every part of it that you are, or may be hereafter commanded to execute.

Not long after arriving in Albany, New York, Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler changed those plans to move north when he wrote Colonel Dayton, on May 14, and informed him that Brig. Gen. John Sullivan would order him to proceed out the Mohawk Valley to Johnstown, with a detachment of his regiment. After performing some other business, he was to:

… let Sir John Johnson know that you have a letter from me, which you are ordered to deliver in person, and beg his attendance to receive it. If he comes as soon as you have delivered the letter, and he has read it, you are immediately to make him close prisoner, and carefully guard him, that he may not have the least opportunity of escape. When you have done this you are to repair to his house, taking him with you; and after having placed proper sentinels to prevent any person belonging to the family from carrying out papers, you are to examine his papers in his own presence …

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: Clergymen and the Politics of Revolutionary America

In Colonial America, clergymen stood as thought leaders in their local communities. They stood at the head of their congregations and many community members looked to them for knowledge and insight about the world around them. Spencer McBride, an editor at the Joseph Smith Papers documentary editing project and author of Pulpit and Nation: Clergymen and the Politics of Revolutionary America, joins us to explore some of the ways politics and religion intersected during the American Revolution.

So what happened to these trusted, educated men during the American Revolution? How did they choose their political allegiances? And what work did they undertake to aid or hinder the revolutionary cause?

During our exploration, Spencer reveals how clergymen participated in politics before the Revolution; How clergymen participated in politics during and after the Revolution; And, what early Americans thought about the participation of clergymen in politics.

Listen to the podcast.

American Revolution Mohawk Valley Conference, June 10-11

On Saturday June 10 and Sunday June 11 at the Fulton-Montgomery Community College, there will be ten presentations:

• William M. Fowler Jr. – An American Crisis: George Washington and the Dangerous Two Years After Yorktown, 1781-1783

• Gavin K. Watt – Neighbours Against Neighbours – Fort Schuyler and Oriskany

• Eric H. Schnitzer – Tactics of the 1777 Battles of Saratoga

• Christian M. McBurney – Abductions in the American Revolution in Northern New York

• Matthew J. Hollis & David A. Ranzan – Middling Officers in the Mohawk Valley

• Dean R. Snow – Oneidas, Mohawks, and the Saratoga Campaign

• Wayne Lenig – 1780, the Year of the Burning — The War on the Mohawk Frontier

• Todd W. Braisted – The Royalist Corps in the Burgoyne Campaign

• Robert A. Geake – From Slaves to Soldiers: The 1st Rhode Island Regiment in the American Revolution

• Daniel M. Sivilich – Musket Balls: Diagnostic Tools for Military Sites

• Read more details, registration etc.

Loyalists and the War of 1812: James Kelsey and sons Samuel and John

James was born in 1742 in Connecticut and settled in New York State, he died sometime after 1819.

He was a soldier in the Kings Loyal Americans [Jessup’s Corp.] (1776 -1781) and later in Jessup’s Loyal Rangers also during the American Revolution.

James Kelsey was captured during General Burgoyne’s campaign in 1777 at the Battle of Bennington, in New York State on the road east of the Hudson River towards Vermont. He was held as a prisoner of war by the American Continental Army.

James came to Canada in 1780 rejoining the Kings Loyal Americans (KLA) until 1783. The record for the KLA notes he was included with the return of men back from captivity. Also notes he was owed pay and clothing since 16 Aug. 77. James Kelsey was placed in Peters Coy of invalids, Jessup’s Loyal Rangers.

William Chewett’s (Surveyor General’s Office) Patent Survey Map of Elizabethtown, 1795 shows James Kelsey UEL received from the crown in Elizabethtown 100 acres Concession 1, Lot 27; 100 acres Concession 7, Lot 32; 200 acres Concession 8, Lot 27; 200 acres Concession 7, Lot 3. His son William received 100 acers Concession 2 Lot 29 – also in Elizabethtown.

Read more.

Where in the World?

Where is Gov. Simcoe Branch member Doug Grant?

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.

  • Kingston and District Branch UELAC invites you to our Annual Banquet Luncheon — Tuesday, May 30, 2017, Minos Village Restaurant, 2762 Princess Street, Kingston — 11:30 a.m. for 12:00 noon seating. David More, PhD candidate at Queen’s University, will speak on “‘The Severity of This Service…’: How Thousands of Loyalists Were Shipped to Eastern Ontario and how such maritime industry shaped the development of Central Canada.” Exactly what route did our Loyalist ancestors follow to get to their new communities? Tickets are $30 and must be ordered ahead of time, as well as providing your choice of entrée (pork souvlaki, chicken coteletta or salmon filet) ahead of time. To reserve your ticket, contact kingston.uelac@gmail.com or call Nancy at 613-549-2280.
  • Are you looking forward to Rendez-Vous 2017? From June 30 until August 20, 2017. More than 40 Tall Ships will be sailing Canadian waters to honour the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation in 2017. They are scheduled to stop at host ports in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, giving thousands of people the opportunity to admire the majestic beauty of these cathedrals of the seas.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Mapping 375 years of progress: rare Montreal maps from 1556-1946. In celebration of the 375th anniversary of Montreal, McGill Library’s Collection Services is showcasing digitized Montreal rare maps held by the library’s Rare Books and Special Collections from May 15-22, 2017. The maps were catalogued by Collection Services as part of an ongoing project targeting rare Canadian maps. Read more…
  • 05/28/1754 – Start of the French and Indian War. The Battle of Jumonville Glen, also known as the Jumonville affair, was the opening battle of the French and Indian War fought on May 28, 1754 near what is present-day Uniontown in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. A company of colonial militia from Virginia under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Washington, and a small number of Mingo warriors led by Tanacharison (also known as “Half King”), ambushed a force of 35 Canadiens under the command of Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville.
  • Some UE Loyalists trace roots to here – Palatine ( now Clarke ) Square, Collins Barracks, Dublin: Brian McConnell UE
  • Revolutionary War–Era Musket Ball Tests Positive for Blood. A lead musket ball recovered from Monmouth Battlefield Park has tested positive for human blood protein. More…
  • A tiny bit about the Hessian Musketeer Regiment von Donop and another bit about a German Hessian Musket
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
    • 20 May 1775 Committee of Safety in Mecklenburg County, North-Carolina declares independence; text lost to time.
    • 19 May 1780 “New England’s Dark Day” A mix of thick smoke & heavy clouds left New England in total darkness. Rev War climate change!
    • 19 May 1776 Bitter struggle for control of Pennsylvania Assembly erupts over question of support for Independence.
    • 18 May 1783 Loyalist evacuees from New-York and other parts of the U.S. arrive in Canada.
    • 17 May 1775 The Continental Congress bans trade with Britain’s Canadian Colonies.
    • 16 May 1775 Hannastown, Pennsylvania, Resolutions assert it’s the obligation of Americans to resist British tyranny.
    • 15 May 1781 Rebel forces take Fort Granby, South-Carolina, without the loss of a single man.
    • 14 May 1787 First delegates arrive in Philadelphia to revise Articles of Confederation; create new Constitution.
  • Nicholas Herkimer (Herchheimer) (c. 1728–August 16, 1777) was a militia general in the American Revolutionary War, who died of wounds after the Battle of Oriskany.
  • A Soup, A Stew, And A Hash” from Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc. New cooking episodes will start start next week, but in the meantime, here is one of our oldest recipes from Season One.
  • A womens’ Etui Case which contains items for daily grooming use.
  • Ladies’ English buckle shoes, 1775-85, grey blue ribbed silk uppers w/silver embroidered floral motif
  • Lace-Trimmed Shirt for Cherished Baby, c1760-1784. Baby clothes hold a special place in costume collections. Except perhaps for wedding dresses, there’s no other category of clothing that carries so much emotion. Read more…
  • What is The Dorchester Review about anyway? This free sample article is a perfect example. Canada’s Counter-Revolution: How many realize that, in part, Canada was founded as an orphan of the American Revolution, even as a counter-revolutionary experiment? Jerry Bannister explains.

Last Post: James Robertson Zavitz, UE

‘Gentleman Jim’ to some and ‘Dungeon Jim’ to others, His Worship Justice Of The Peace James Robertson Zavitz, U.E., passed away on May 16, 2017 in his 95th year. He was born in Ottawa, Ont. on July 28, 1922, the second son of Raymond W. and Jessie (Robertson) Zavitz who have predeceased him, as have his brothers, Bob and Jack. Married for 65 memorable years to the lovely Shirley M. (McCorquodale) Zavitz, U.E.; proud father of Carol, Sharon (Rob Ward) (Rob Bregman), Charles ‘Chuck’ Zavitz, and honorary daughter, Terry Robb.

In 1941 he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and served in the Arctic and all provinces except Nfld.-Lab. He represented Canada in pistol shooting at the World’s Championships, at the Olympic Games and won a Bronze Medal at the Pan American Games in Chicago in 1959. He was a 5-time Canadian Pistol Champion, and was inducted into the Canadian Shooting Hall of Fame. In 1970 he retired with the rank of Sergeant-Major.

His RCMP career was followed by 25 years as a Presiding Justice of the Peace in the Criminal Division of the Provincial Court in London.

Descended from United Empire Loyalists [a 1973 certificate to Loyalist Daniel Pound], he was a charter member of the London and Western Ontario Branch of the U.E.L. Association of Canada. He served a term as President and for many years as Genealogist and on the Dominion Council. As Chairman of the Association’s ‘Bicentennial Committee,’ he planned and oversaw the two-year, coast-to-coast celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the U.E. Loyalists to Canada in 1783 and 1784.

He was Clerk and long-time Treasurer of the Coldstream Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

In retirement he and Shirley travelled extensively through Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium, cruised the Rhine, Caribbean and B. C’s Inside Passage to Alaska and visited many places and people Jim had known when in the police.

He ‘decreed’ that there would be no mourning for him and no visitation or funeral service. He wants to be remembered as he was: laughing, joking, teasing, telling stories or corny jokes, or innovating, teaching, helping, coaxing, needling, criticizing, competing, challenging or combating, whatever it took to get things done. In time Shirley’s ashes will join Jim’s in a common urn and they will be together forever in the Quaker Cemetery at Coldstream with his parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents. Jim has been cremated and a family gathering was held to say good bye. A Celebration of Life will be held in the near future. Arrangements have been entrusted to the Denning’s of Strathroy 519-245-1023.

“I did my best, it’s time to rest”

Victoria Day

The [short] Story of Victoria Day: Who is Victoria and why do we have a holiday named after her?

Wishing all Canada, especially members & veterans of the Canadian Forces, a Happy Victoria Day weekend!

Happy Victoria Day to everyone! Be safe.