“Loyalist Trails” 2017-37: September 10, 2017

In this issue:
The Loyalist Blacksmiths, by Stephen Davidson
JAR: Review of Fire and Desolation, by Gavin K. Watt
Loyalist Connections: Dueling for Honour or (Il)legal Murder?
The Junto: On Providing Undergraduate Research Opportunities
Ben Franklin’s World: Abigail Adams – A Revolutionary Speculator
Comment: Oldest Building in Each Province
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post: Franklin Winston Ault, UE
Editor’s Note
      + John McArthur UEL


The Loyalist Blacksmiths

© Stephen Davidson, UE

As we saw in an earlier series of Loyalist Trails articles, the horse was a crucial part of life in the American colonies of the 18th century – the “vehicle” that determined the crops that needed to be raised, the shelters that needed to be built, the clothing that riders had to wear, and the equipment that had to be purchased. Among the latter would be saddles, bridles and – of course – horseshoes. Society’s dependence on the horse meant that the local blacksmith was a crucial member of the colonial workforce. How else would one acquire horseshoes and the nails required to attach them to a horse’s hooves?

But manufacturing horseshoes and nails was just the tip of the iceberg. The colonial blacksmith’s shop was also the hardware store of its day. Without the iron-working skills of the neighbourhood ferrier, American colonists would not have kitchen utensils, hooks, kettles, knives, latches, guns, cannons, gates, ship fittings, pots, pans, plowshares, cow bells, farming tools, candleholders, saws, axes, files, hinges, or chains.

The historian Maya Jasanoff estimates that one in 40 people living in the United States left the country during the loyalist evacuations. Applying that same ratio to the blacksmiths in the rebelling colonies, one would assume that about one fortieth of the colonial blacksmiths became refugees and were scattered across the remaining British Empire.

What became of ironworkers as they made new homes for their families in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Upper Canada and Lower Canada? How did the revolution affect their work and their position within colonial society? These are interesting questions; finding the answers is a challenging task. However, primary sources such as the transcripts of the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists, probate records, victualing lists, and family lore are able to shed some light on the stories of the blacksmiths who remained loyal to the British crown. Over the next five weeks, we will investigate the challenges and struggles these men faced as they risked their livelihood in striving to maintain a united British empire.

To begin, let us look at the story of Curtis Lewis, a loyalist blacksmith who lived in Great Valley, Pennsylvania. Lewis and his wife Hannah had a son and four daughters. All their children were under twenty-one at the outset of the revolution. In addition to his barn and house, this loyalist had a large blacksmith shop (or forge) on his property.

Typically, a forge included a coal fire enclosed within a raised brick hearth that was fed air by a leather bellows. A hooded flue over the hearth vented the smoke. After heating iron bars in the forge to 2,000°F, Lewis would remove it with tongs and place it on an anvil. Using a sledge hammer (that could weigh as much as 12 pounds) and a variety of tools, he would then turn out whatever tool was required. A vise held the iron in place; a file trimmed the rough edges and a chisel cut or carved the metal that was being shaped. Lewis used steel to make blades for axes and the smooth faces of hammers.

If Lewis had been the only blacksmith in his area, he could have worked from sunrise to sunset, six days a week. Sometimes he might, receive goods in kind rather than cash for the tools that he created.

Successful blacksmiths could employ a number of apprentices and journeymen. Beginning as early as age 14, a boy would have to be apprenticed to a blacksmith for seven years before becoming recognized as a “journeyman”. After saving his earnings over a number of years, a journeyman would then open his own forge. The need for the skills of a blacksmith was so great that a journeyman had no reason to ever fear being without work.

Such would have been the experience of Curtis Lewis, the loyalist blacksmith – the years of training, the acquisition of tools, and finally the building of his own shop. However, because he was a loyalist, Lewis’ story would be dramatically different from that of patriot blacksmiths. Being a loyalist meant that Lewis risked losing all that his hard labour had secured for him. Joining with the British forces, as so many loyal blacksmiths did, deprived his family of a regular income, and put his shop and iron-working tools at risk of being seized by patriots.

Although he was a Quaker and thus a professed pacifist, Lewis not only favored the British, he joined their army just days before the Battle of Brandywine in the fall of 1777. Instead of being employed as a blacksmith, Lewis was employed as a pilot to guide the British along the Middle Colonies’ rivers and coastline. During this service to the crown, Lewis died in New York sometime before June of 1778.

The patriots of Chester County confiscated Lewis’ tools and shop, selling them in 1779. A widow with no means of support, Hannah Lewis left Great Valley with her five children and stayed with friends until 1786. On May 5th of that year, she stood before a compensation board in Halifax, hoping to receive some sort of help from the government, which her blacksmith husband had served so sacrificially.

The story of Curtis Lewis is just one of many accounts of loyalist blacksmiths. See next week’s Loyalist Trails for the stories of the refugee ironworkers who settled in Lower Canada.

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

JAR: Review of Fire and Desolation, by Gavin K. Watt

The Revolutionary War’s 1778 Campaign as Waged from Quebec and Niagara Against the American Frontiers, by Gavin K. Watt (Dundurn, 2017). Reviewws by Kelly Mielke (Sept. 8, 2017).

With the thousands of works written on the American Revolution, there are still areas where, remarkably, the surface has hardly been scratched. Increasingly, modern studies of the American Revolution are taking new directions, examining things in different light, and adding knowledge that challenges long standing assumptions. Even with digging deeper and applying innovative methods, however, there are still some areas of the war that just plain do not garner as much attention. Although the events covered in Fire and Desolation: The Revolutionary War’s 1778 Campaign as Waged from Quebec and Niagara Against the American Frontiers played an important role in the development of the major campaigns of 1779, detailed accounts of these actions are lacking in the vast library of Revolutionary War literature.

Canadian historian Gavin Watt examines this often ignored region and year of the war and highlights tactical expertise employed by Native Americans and their allies. The violent and destructive raids detailed in this aptly named book bridge the gap between key events in 1777 – the American victory at Saratoga and Burgoyne’s failed Hudson campaign – and the Clinton-Sullivan expedition of 1779. Watt demonstrates that the actions along the Canadian border were fraught with complications born out of allegiance and personal relationships and played an important role in the military and diplomatic course of the war.

Read more.

Loyalist Connections: Dueling for Honour or (Il)legal Murder?

In the early nineteenth century, two fatal duels took place in the Maritimes: one in Nova Scotia and the other in New Brunswick. These duels happened between prominent members of society and were fought with pistols. Despite duels being illegal, they still happened, and like the cases that will be discussed in this post, they occurred as a result of bruised egos and served to defend personal honour. Duels were found amongst the first generation of loyalists as they were trying to establish themselves and their status in their newly formed societies. However, by the turn of the nineteenth century, duels were less commonplace–especially after the Uniacke duel.

Read more.

The Junto: On Providing Undergraduate Research Opportunities

By Emily Yankowitz, BA (History at Yale), pursuing an M.Phil in American History at the University of Cambridge.

As a recent graduate preparing to pursue a career as a historian, I have been spending a fair amount of time considering how I came to this decision. While I am sure I will continue to grapple with this question for a long time, particularly considering the uncertain job market, I can say that my experience conducting historical research as an undergraduate played a central role in informing this choice. In this post, therefore, I would like to use my own experience to reflect on the importance of providing opportunities for undergraduate research.

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: Abigail Adams – A Revolutionary Speculator

Woody Holton, a Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and author of Abigail Adams: A Life, leads us on an exploration of Abigail Adams’ life as a savvy financial investor.

During our exploration, Woody reveals how Abigail Adams became an investor and the types of opportunities she invested in; How investing allowed Adams to implement some of her ideas about how the law should treat women; And, details about how Adams viewed women and their place in American society during the mid-to-late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Listen to the podcast.

Comment: Oldest Building in Each Province

I was somewhat hesitant to include a particular article (“Discover the Oldest Building in Each Province”) in last week’s Loyalist Trails. I should have noted its dubious quality more carefully.

Two readers have suggested that I need to stick to a higher standard – that the article is biased and inaccurate, that the author “compares apples and oranges,” and that from a historical and curatorial perspective, the article is nothing less than “nonsense.”

Sylvia Powers UE, a former President of Sir Guy Carleton Branch in Ottawa, wrote:

“I read the section on the oldest houses in Canada and discovered that the Ontario section was inaccurate. It says that the Delta house was the oldest built in 1810. My husband’s father’s former house on Pelham Road, St. Catherines, was built by 1804 – maybe earlier. It is a three-story stone house that has been recently renovated. During WWI it was used by Sam Hughes to train his calvary. Bill Powers’ grandfather purchased the house. Lafontaine Baldwin Powers was descended from William Marsh UE, Mindert Harris UE., and Ruliph Ostrom. I believe it was used as an inn over the years. Common for hotels, in it was a large portrait of Queen Victoria, which I now have in my collection.

Colin MacGregor Stevens, from Richmond, BC, noted that

There is another ‘older’ building in Ontario, my Pennsylvania-Dutch ancestors’ house, FRY HOUSE (1815) is preserved in the museum in Jordan, ON. Sadly they do not qualify as UEL for me.

Thanks for your comments. I will try to be more rigorous about quality control.


Where in the World?

Where is Doug Coppins, UE, of amilton 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.

  • From Jim McKenzie UE, Vice President of the Atlantic Region UELAC notes with pleasure that Peter Van Iderstine, President of the Abegweit Branch in PEI and Anita Coffin are being married on Sept 16th. Anita made a great contribution to the team who organized the UELAC Annual Conference and AGM in Summerside in 2016. Congratulations Anita and Peter.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Royal North British Volunteers.  Head Quarters Boston 29th October 1775. Some North British Merchants Residing in Town with their Adherents having Offered their Services for the Defence of this place, The Commander in Chief has Ordered them to be Armed & Directed their being formed into a Company, to be called the Royal North British Volunteers. Read more at The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies.
  • Today in History: Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos):
    • 8 Sept 1761 King George III of the United Kingdom married Duchess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
    • 8 Sep 1781 Last major battle of Revolution in Carolinas at Eutaw Springs, SC; British Pyrrhic victory.
    • 7 Sep 1776 American submersible the Turtle attempts first submarine attack in history; fails for lack of skill.
    • 6 Sep 1781 Traitor Benedict Arnold orders burning of entire city of New London, Connecticut to destroy supplies.
    • 5 Sep 1781 French block British from evacuating troops at Yorktown in Battle of the Capes.
    • 4 Sep 1780, Col Francis Marion’s militia rout Loyalists at Blue Savannah, SC . Breaks Loyalist morale & gains recruits for Rev War cause
    • 4 Sep 1776 Lee, Gerry, & Wilcott sign Decl. of Independence, leaving only 2 more to sign.
    • 3 Sept 1783 The Treaty of Paris was signed at Hotel d’York (see plaque) – for many years people thought it was signed at Versailles.
  • United Empire Loyalist Col. James Moody on the wall at Sissiboo Landing in Weymouth, Nova Scotia. Read more about James Moody and the Loyalists of Weymouth by Brian McConnell UE
  • Two issues of The Glengarrianone Oct 25, the other Dec 20, 1889 – carry a column entitled “Old Glengarry” Sketches Illustrating the Early Settlement and History of Glengarry. Relating principally to the Revolutionary War 1776-83, the War of 1812-14 and the Rebellion of 1837-8. By J. A. Macdonell (Greenfield). Note that for scanning, two pages of the PDF are required for each page of newspaper -col 1 of page 1 continues on page 2, but with much repetition so parts of col. 1 appear twice.  These sketches may well have spanned several issues.
  • Wilmot NS “lost” cemetery. ‘Babysitter’ the last to be buried in forgotten cemetery. Some longtime locals know it as the old Wiswall Cemetery but for many people passing by the burial ground lining the well-travelled Highway 1, they might not even know it’s there. Nestled between a farmer’s field and a used car lot, the ancient cemetery, with some headstones predating Canadian Confederation in 1867, seems lost to movement of time. The surnames Wiswall, Stronach and Fales can be linked to prominent settlers from Wilmot’s early days, and all three are found on memorial stones in the abandoned burial ground. Reverend John Wiswall, a Loyalist from Massachusetts, moved to the area in the 1780s and built the Old Holy Trinity Church a short time later. The church still stands on Middleton’s Main Street. Read more…
  • See the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada plaque at Victoria BC inner harbour.
  • Townsends: “Mead” – The Drink That Fell From Favor.  Mead was a very popular drink during the 17th century and before, but fell out of favor by the 18th century due to the rise of Beer and Ale. Nevertheless, recipes for Mead can be found in books written in the 1700’s and today Jon goes in depth on this fascinating drink. Watch the video….
  • And finally – how to make THE best acid free tissue paper sausage? Watch the fab @melinaplottu Museum of London in action ! NB turn up volume.  Ok, so what purpose does a tissue paper sausage serve?

Last Post: Franklin Winston Ault, UE

A lifetime resident of the Brinston area, Frank Ault passed away at the Winchester District Memorial Hospital on Friday, March 10, 2017, following a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 73.

Born in Brinston on October 1, 1943 to his parents Byron and Margaret Ault (nee Hargrave) Frank grew up in a family with six siblings, learning young the value of hard work. Working for a number of local farmers and businessmen the death of his father early in Frank’s life simply reinforced the strong work ethic he had, as he took on the role of man of the house.

On August 18, 1962 he married the love of his life, Patricia Fawcett, and had two children, Bill and Cindy, within the next few years.

Frank and his brothers Mike and Wendell formed South Nation Farms 50 years ago, raising crops and Black Angus beef cattle. Wendell subsequently struck out on his own, but Frank and Mike continued together. Although the crop land has been rented out for a number of years, Mike still looks after a small herd of cattle.

Frank formed his own equipment company Frank Ault Excavating 45 years ago. Read more.

Frank is survived by his wife Patricia, his children Bill of Brinston and Cindy Peters (Kelly) of Brinston, his siblings Betty Graham (late Gordon) of Nepean, Wendell (Isobel) of Brinston, Mike (Bev) of Brinston, Marguerite (Al Beckstead) of Spencerville and Walter (Tawnya) of Toronto, his grandchildren Chelsea (Jason), Nikki and Emily, and his great-grandchildren Taiven, Sadira, Lexington, and Azalea. He was predeceased by his sister Patsy Ault. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Frank as a long time member of the St. Lawrence Branch UELAC and a good supporter. Johannes (John) Ault UEL was his proven Loyalist ancestor.

…Michael Eamer, UE, St. Lawrence Branch

Editor’s Note

We are going to be travelling from now until Thanksgiving weekend. I am planning to publish an issue of Loyalist Trails each week, but depending on the situation, issues may be rather sparse and the distribution could well be delayed.



John McArthur UEL

I am looking for more information about John McArthur UEL.

In the Loyalist Directory are three different entries for John McArthur, John Sr and Jr of Charlottenburgh and a John of Thurlow. That is the extent of the information for each.

I have a petition which says that his daughter Christy McArthur married to John Hooke Campbell, was stating that her father John McArthur was a Loyalist. Signed 23Aug1816 at Charlottenburg.

Here is what I have found:

John McArthur born 1746 Scotland (possibly Glen-Lyon, Nasau, Perthshire Farm, Scotland)
married Mary Fletcher b.abt 1747 Argyleshire,Scotland died 1831
John died 1836 Burial:
Saint Andrews United Church Cemetery
Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry United Counties
Ontario, Canada
his daughter Christy b.abt 1777 Bay Chaleurs, New Brunswick who married John Hooke Campbell in Williamstown,Glengarry,Ontario, Canada died 1830 Glengarry,On.

His son Archibald b.1787 d.1834 Hamilton, Ont.,Canada m. Janet McMartin also buried St.Andrews United Church Cem.,Williamstown,Glengarry,On

The following info may be correct:

John McArthur
Birth Year abt 1746
Arrival Year 1774
Arrival Place North Carolina
Age 28
Source Publication Code 1422.10
Primary Immigrant McArthur, John
Annotation Date and port of arrival. Port of embarkation, name of ship, occupation, country of origin, and other genealogical information are also provided.
Source Bibliography CURRY, LOUISE. “Some Records of Emigrants to North Carolina.” In Argyll Colony Plus (Journal of the North Carolina Scottish Heritage Society), vol. 9:1 (March 1995), pp. 54-63. page 58.

Any information, suggestions, pointers would be appreciated.

Sunday Robinson-Moran