“Loyalist Trails” 2017-32: August 6, 2017
In this issue:
– UELAC Conference 2017 in London: The Winners
– Unpacking the Hessian’s Hatchment in Halifax, by Stephen Davidson
– Comment: John Grave Simcoe and “Turn”
– Ontario Licence Plate: Special Savings for Simcoe Day
– Atlantic Loyalist Connections: The Abel Sands Mystery: A Case of Bastardy (Part Two)
– JAR: Reamstown Provides: A Pennsylvania Town’s Contribution to Valley Forge
– Ben Franklin’s World: Mercy Otis Warren and the American Revolution
– France and the American Revolutionary War
– King’s Chapel and Boston’s Freedom Trail
– Loyalist Plaque/Grave Marker Available from UELAC
– Where in the World?
– Region and Branch Bits
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
– Last Post: Rhea Macleod, UE
+ Palatine Conference Approaching; Can You Help?
With the hospitality shown by London and Western Ontario Branch with co-host Grand River Branch, all attendees would consider themselves winners. As has been the practice for decade or more, each conference has featured a silent auction. As with any auction, there are those who win a bit more. With more than twenty-five items, those who won represented a cross section of Canada, from British Columbia to New Brunswick. See who won!
© Stephen Davidson, UE
If you were to visit St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Halifax, you would be able to see an interesting artifact from the American Revolution. High up in the wall of the balcony on the eastern side of its sanctuary is a diamond shaped coat of arms (or hatchment). The wooden armorial bearings (page 1) are those of a German aristocrat — not of a British nobleman as one might expect.
Pressing a church guide for more information, you would discover that the nobleman was an army officer whose remains lie in a crypt beneath the sanctuary’s floor. Rather than being draped in a shroud for his funeral, the aristocrat was decked out in a hat and dark blue uniform with orange cuffs and collar. Sporting a pigtail wrapped in eel skin, the officer also wore his sword and spurs. On his chest was a golden Maltese cross covered in a layer of pink enamel. But what might have caught your eye had you viewed the nobleman’s body was that he held an orange in his right hand.
Why was a Hessian nobleman buried beneath the floor of a Halifax church? Why was he holding an orange during his funeral? And most importantly, who was this decorated officer?
The first question is the easiest one to answer. Baron Oberst Franz Carl Erdmann von Seitz was the colonel and chief of the Hessian Regiment of Foot, which had guarded Halifax between 1778 and 1783. Erdmann was also a decorated officer –a knight of the “order pour la Vertu Militaire”. He is a man who deserves to be better known by those who claim loyalist ancestry. This is his story.
Erdmann was born on October 12, 1719 in Obern-Pflaz, a town in the Rhineland-Palatinate (a state in the south-west of Germany). Given that his father also had a military rank, it seems that the young Erdmann was encouraged to follow in his footsteps. The events of his career in Europe are not known.
The young baron and his wife had no children that lived to adulthood. The noble house of von Seitz would end with Franz. But perhaps it would go out in a blaze of glory.
When Great Britain’s King George III called upon the soldiers of Hesse to supplement the royal army in his North American colonies, 57 year-old Franz Erdmann answered the call to arms. He was among the officers of the Second Division of Hessians that sailed for America in a convoy of sixty-three transport ships in the summer of 1776. Their mission: to quash the rebellious thirteen colonies who had made their declaration of independence from Great Britain. But there would be very few opportunities for military glory for Erdmann. The 30,000 Hessians who had been hired by the British would spend more time at garrison duty rather than in combat.
In November 1776, the Hessian Regiment of Foot had their first encounter with American rebels. Led by Lt. General Howe, a joint force that included 12,000 Hessians commanded by General Wilhelm von Knyphausen marched to Fort Washington at the northern end of Manhattan Island. Among those German troops was Erdmann’s regiment. The British success in capturing the fort resulted in the death of 59 rebels and the capture of 2,837 soldiers. It was one of the worst defeats for rebel forces during the entire revolution.
Knyphausen later commanded a Hessian brigade during the Battle of Brandywine in 1777. Whether Erdmann and his Regiment of Foot participated in this British victory is not certain. But by the time Erdmann’s men were stationed in Halifax, the baron had done something on the battlefield to merit being inducted into the Hessian Order of “la Vertu Militaire.”
Established in 1769, this order received only 25 officers during the American Revolution. The eight-pointed cross and four Hessian lions that comprised the order’s medal (page 2) was something that the Baron von Seitz proudly wore on formal occasions — even to his own funeral.
Being both a decorated war hero and an aristocrat, Erdmann may have found his 1778 posting to command the Halifax garrison a somewhat humbling experience. Although he was the acting senior officer, military policy required that a British officer be in charge. So Lt. Colonel Bruce, Erdmann’s junior, was made an “acting brigadier”, ranking above the Hessian baron.
In addition to issues of rank, there was also the matter of housing. Halifax’s existing barracks were already filled with English regiments, so Erdmann had to find lodgings for more than 200 men in the “barns, outhouses and public houses” of German settlers who lived in “Dutch Village” (a corruption of “Deutsch”) on the fringes of Halifax. Erdmann– who had brought a coach and three horses with him from New York– found a summerhouse for his quarters.
The Hessian Regiment of Foot might have had another long and boring spell of garrison duty in Nova Scotia — similar to what they had endured in New York— had it not been for the sacking of Lunenburg down the coast from Halifax. On July 1, 1782, one hundred seventy American privateers invaded the town, plundering its inhabitants and burning down their blockhouse.
As soon as word of the attack reached Halifax, three ships containing two hundred Hessians under the command of Baron von Seitz sped to the rescue. So although military glory eluded him, the Hessian baron would always be remembered as the man who came to the rescue of the loyal citizens of Lunenburg.
In less than six months, Erdmann was dead. His passing in December of 1782 coincided with the arrival of loyalists from South Carolina, the first wave of the thousands of refugees who would flood into Nova Scotia over the next twelve months.
Erdmann’s funeral was held in St. Paul’s, the church where he worshiped during his four years of service in Halifax. The orange that had been placed in his right hand before his burial was an old German custom, signifying that he was the last baron of a noble house. Then, befitting his station in life, Baron von Seitz was placed in a crypt beneath the wooden floorboards of the church. His effects – including his carriage and a ring with 11 diamonds—were sold at auction. When von Seitz’s crypt was opened up in 1931 during renovations to St. Paul’s wooden floors, workers discovered that the vault had been broken open sometime in the intervening 149 years. The baron’s sword, jewelry and spurs had been taken from his body.
The only artifact that remains of the baron is his hatchment (coat of arms) in an upper gallery of St. Paul’s. Was it placed there by his grieving family or fellow officers? Was it something that von Seitz had carried with him to America? How it came to be placed in the church is a story that has been lost to history. Nevertheless, the coat of arms stands as a mute reminder of a man who stayed true to his traditional Hessian values: devout loyalty to the sovereign and the supreme importance of hierarchy, service and honour.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
from Ed Garrett UE comes further details about a note in last week’s Revisiting “Turn” and John Graves Simcoe, which reads, “The Duke of Northumberland, who knew him well, claimed that Simcoe was ‘brave, humane, sensible, and honest.'”
As Brigadier General Earl Percy before he inherited the Dukedom, he was the man almost entirely responsible for saving the British Army’s bacon during the retreat from Concord on April 19, 1775. Not least this was because he was a man obsessed with military cartography hence he had a map of eastern Massachusetts Bay showing small side roads, as he learned that the planks on the bridge over the Charles River had been taken up, he wheeled his troops down a obscure side track he saw on his map (modern day Beech Street), and hence onto a road leading to Charlestown.
This is it – act now!
How do you celebrate Ontario’s 150th Anniversary as one of the four original members of Canada’s Confederation in 1867? If you live in the Greater Toronto Region perhaps you recognize the upcoming Civic Monday as Simcoe Day. You may remember the special centenary Ontario Licence Plate project that kicked off the 2014 celebrations. How many special plates do you recognize in the parking lot when you attend your branch meetings?
With less than 34 plates beginning with 02UE, you still have a chance to get a plate that you will remember and cause comments wherever you drive. SAVE: Until Gov. Simcoe Day you can save 30 dollars when you place your order. That means we will also ship your request FREE!
Take these 2 steps now:
• Email email@example.com with your preferred number chosen from the following: 19, 23, 24, 26-28, 32, 34, 36-38, 42, 47, 52-55, 59, 72-73, 90-95, 97, 98.
• Send your cheque for $80.00 with this completed Licence Plates order form to the George Brown House office.
If you have already shown your support of this UELAC Project, thank you. Buy one as a special gift for a family member.
…Fred H. Hayward, UELAC Education Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Part 1.) As mentioned, I conducted extensive research on both Ann Mickens and Abel Sands. While I was most interested in Ann Mickens’s background, it is unsurprising that, due to the fact she was a woman, I was unable to find any information about her in both The Loyalist Collection and the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website. Because this was nineteenth century Saint John, Ann Mickens would have been largely recorded under her husband’s name (i.e. Mrs. Joe Mickens). Unfortunately, Ann’s husband’s name was not mentioned in these various court appearances. Moreover, the spelling of Ann’s last name varies in the recordings—making it even more difficult to find her husband. I choose to refer to Ann as “Ann Mickens” because this name variation appears more frequently than the others mentioned. However, the combination of Ann’s gender, her surname discrepancy, and the unavailability of her husband’s first name made it practically impossible for me to delve any further into her background. Read more…
by Joseph Lee Boyle, Published July 19, 2017
In 2009 a marker was erected in town which states that Reamstown was a “field hospital for wounded soldiers from the Battle of Brandywine.” Reamstown’s importance to the Continental Army does not really begin until December 1777, and it served not only as a hospital, but perhaps more importantly as a significant depot for military stores.
During the 1777 campaign against the invading British, many churches, meeting houses, barns, and other buildings were used for wounded, and the far more numerous sick American soldiers. Some were used only briefly, as George Washington maneuvered to protect the interior of Pennsylvania, after Philadelphia had been captured. After the Continental Army moved into the Valley Forge encampment on December 19, the hospital and military stores locations began to be stabilized.
Elkanah Watson passed through Reamstown in early October 1777, and recorded “At Reamstown I was placed between two beds, without sheets or pillows. This, as I was told, was a prevailing German custom, but which, as far as my experience goes, tends little to promote either sleep or comfort of a stranger.” He did not mention a hospital. “An exact Return of the Sick and Wounded in the American Army” dated November 24, 1777 lists 300 men at Lancaster, but Reamstown was not listed.
France played a key role in the American Revolutionary War (American War of Independence; 1775–1783). Motivated by the ideals of the new nation which were inspired by the French Enlightenment, as well as its long-term rivalry with Britain and so as to avenge their territorial losses during the French and Indian War, France secretly began sending supplies to the Americans in 1775.
By 1763, the French debt acquired to fight in the French and Indian War came to a staggering 1.3 billion livres. It “set off France’s own fiscal crisis, in which a political brawl over taxation soon became one of the reasons for the French Revolution.” France obtained its revenge against Britain by assisting the Americans; however, it gained little real value and her massive debt severely weakened the government and escalated it towards the French Revolution.
The French objective in assisting the Americans was to weaken Britain and to seek revenge for the defeat in the Seven Years’ War. In 1777, America captured the British invasion army at Saratoga. In 1778, France recognized the United States of America as a sovereign nation, signed a military alliance, and went to war with Britain. France built coalitions with the Netherlands and Spain, provided Americans with grants, weapons and loans, sent a combat army to serve under George Washington, and provided a navy that prevented the second British army from escaping Yorktown in 1781.
Benjamin Franklin served as the American ambassador to France from 1776 to 1785 and he met with many leading diplomats, aristocrats, intellectuals, scientists and financiers. Franklin’s image and writings caught the French imagination. There were many images of Franklin being sold on the market, and he became the cultural icon of the archetypal new American. Franklin even became a hero for a call for new order inside France.
King’s Chapel is proudly one of the sixteen historic sites on Boston’s Freedom Trail. As you dig deeper into Boston’s rich history, plan a visit to King’s Chapel and discover our unique role in the formation of the United States. Founded in 1686, King’s Chapel was established as the first Anglican Church in overwhelmingly Puritan Boston, paving the way for religious freedom in America. While many congregants remained loyal to the British Crown during the revolutionary-era, those members of King’s Chapel who remained in Boston following the evacuation of British troops and sympathizers in 1776 were trailblazers in the establishment of the Unitarian Christian faith in America. While the church as an entity dates to 1686, our historic building dates to 1754, when it was constructed by Peter Harrison, dubbed America’s first architect by architectural historians. Over the years, King’s Chapel has seen notable members and attendees including George Washington, Paul Revere, Thomas Hutchinson, Charles Sumner, Charles Bulfinch, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and many more.
King’s Chapel and the adjacent burying ground (owned by the City of Boston) are the fifth stop on Boston’s Freedom Trail walking tour.
Visitors of all ages and origins are welcome to King’s Chapel to explore our historic building during our open hours. In addition to interpretive signs throughout the sanctuary and self-guided tours, our talented and friendly educators are on staff to bring King’s Chapel’s history alive! We also offer guided tours on the hour throughout the year. (Current website.)
UELAC has developed a Plaque/Grave Marker to be used primarily to mark the graves of UE Loyalists who have been proven through UELAC. It may be used by the same eligible people as a wall plaque.
The plaque is solid “memorial bronze,” singularly distinctive with the member’s Badge.
A person who has received a Loyalist Certificate may purchase a plaque.
A person who wishes to purchase a plaque for another individual who has received a Loyalist Certificate may do so.
Where is Vancouver Branch member Carl Stymiest?
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 email@example.com.
From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.
- The UELAC Pacific Region Fall Fleet 2018 Event will celebrate the 85th Anniversary of Vancouver Branch receiving its Branch Charter and Canada 150 – Canada’s Sesqui-centenary. The theme will be “Canada 150 – Emily Pauline Johnson“. It will take place Sunday 01 October 2017 (11:30am – 3:00pm) at the Burnaby Scandinavian Cultural Centre, 6540 Thomas St., Burnaby, BC V5B 4P9. Please RSVP to Carl Stymiest UE firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this Registration Form, include your cheque and mail to Vancouver Branch Treasurer, Gwen Dumfries UE, at the address given on the form.
- Loyalist Days to make triumphant return to Prescott, ON. Military pageant salutes fort town’s roots. Prescott’s colourful and rich heritage, along with its finest present-day attractions, will be showcased at a Loyalist Days revival. The long-standing summer festival that began in the late 1960s and continued for decades makes its return to the fort town for a four-day fling beginning Thursday, Aug. 17. More details…
- Remembering when Loyalist Cairn unveiled in Port Mouton, Nova Scotia in July, 1983 on 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Loyalists
- Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
- 5 Aug 1779 Bitter fight between Loyalist & Patriot forces for Bronx results in destruction & capture of Loyalists.
- 4 Aug 1781, Patriot Isaac Hayne hung in Charleston SC for breaking his parole and leading raids against British. Alienates Americans
- 4 Aug 1776 King George congratulates himself on securing a German corps “much Cheaper than if raised at home.” (@SWOConnell)
- 4 Aug 1792, General John (Gentleman Johnny) Burgoyne, playwright & commander of the ill fated invasion of NY in 1777 dies suddenly.
- 3 Aug 1780 Benedict Arnold appointed commander of West Point; already collaborating with British.
- 2 Aug 1776 Actual signing of the Declaration of Independence, the language for which was adopted on 4 Jul 1776.
- 1 Aug 1777 Burgoyne reaches the Hudson after spending a month crossing 23 miles of wilderness from Lake Champlain.
- 31 Jul 1777 19-year-old Marquis de Lafayette volunteers to lead rebel troops as Major General – without pay.
- 30 Jul 1776 Washington offers exchange of any British officer for return of Col. Ethan Allen, captured at Montreal.
- Like the pic of the Bay/Harbour and Loyalist flag – great view out the window at Ross – Thomson House in Shelburne, NS
- Brian McConnell UE, Nova Scotia Branch UELAC is this weekend at 84th Regiment of Foot, Loyalist Encampment, August 4 – 6, at Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal, NS.
- Townsends: Q&A – Fruit Preservation In The 1700’s. In today’s Q&A are going in-depth on a single question about fruit preservation. Watch the video…
- Home of the Week: There’s room at the Inn. The Merrill Inn, a Gothic Revival home built in 1878 in the heart of Prince Edward County [Ontario], is seeking new owners. On Sept. 11, 2001, a couple of graduates from Ryerson University’s hotel management program were well-ensconced in the hospitality industry in Florida. Shaken by that day’s terror attacks against the United States, Edward and Amy Shubert made up their minds to retreat to a more genial setting. “We had dreamed forever about owning a country inn,” Ms. Shubert says. The couple began scouting locations from Florida to Vermont to Ontario for a property with 10 rooms or more. That size would allow them to put their hotel management skills to use and build a profitable business, they figured. After a few months of searching, they came across the Merrill Inn in Picton. The small town is the gateway to bucolic Prince Edward County,with its landscape of rolling farmland, surrounded by the waters of Lake Ontario. Many of the farms and old homesteads in the area had been established in the late 1700s by the United Empire Loyalists who settled there after the American Revolutionary War. Read more…
- The final official engagement of Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, with expert commentary by the BBC, which carried live the Inspection of the Royal Marines (of which HRH has been Captain-General for over six decades) in teeming rain in the Forecourt of Buckingham Palace. (video)
MacLEOD, Rhea Catherine (nee Muth) of Port Dover, passed away Tuesday, July 25, 2017 at Norfolk General Hospital Simcoe in her 89th year. Predeceased by her husband Malcolm (2009). Dearly loved mother of Bruce. Dear sister of Reverend Malcom Muth and Gladys Elve. Aunt Rhea will be sadly missed by her many nieces and nephews. Predeceased by her siblings, Bill (Bing) Muth, Hilda Dodds, Jim (Laddy) Muth and Grace Rennie. Rhea was a long-time member of the Norfolk Horticultural Society and United Empire Loyalist. She was a great cook, loved to can and took great pleasure in both. A graveside service was held to honour Rhea’s life on Saturday, July 29, 2017 at 11 a.m. at Port Dover Cemetery. The Reverend Malcolm Muth officiated. Arrangements entrusted to Thompson Waters Funeral Home, Port Dover (519-583-1530). For those wishing, donations to ‘Help a Child Smile’ would be greatly appreciated. On-line donations and/or condolences can be made at www.thompsonwatersfuneralhome.ca.
While a member of the then St. Catharines Branch, Rhea proved her descent from Loyalist Jonathan Williams.
I am the 5th great grandson of the Loyalist, Dr. George Finkle. His son, UEL Henry Finkle of Bath was my 5th great uncle. Lt. Henry Simmons was my 1st cousin 6x removed.
I am president of the New York Chapter of Palatines to America. We are a national German genealogy organization. Many of us are descendants of the Palatine Germans who arrived in the New York Colony in 1710 and later in the 1700’s. Many of the descendants of the original Palatines became Loyalists and settled in Upper Canada.
Our New York Chapter is planning to sponsor the National Palatines to America (Pal-Am) conference in Buffalo, New York in June 2018. I think that this would be a wonderful opportunity for us Palatine descendants in the US to reconnect with our Canadian cousins! Is there any way for me to connect with the descendants of Palatine UEL’s?
If you, as an individual, member of a branch or member of another group have a suggestion for Garry or can offer some assistance, please reach out.
Garry Finkell, President, New York Chapter, Palatines to America
267 Woodlawn Avenue, Albany, NY 12208, 518-542-4603