“Loyalist Trails” 2018-29: July 22, 2018

In this issue:
Little Forks Branch Adds to Hyatt One-Room Schoolhouse
What Did She Ever See in Him?, by Stephen Davidson
Black Loyalist Cemetery at Digby NS
JAR: Maintaining Normalcy in British-Occupied Brookhaven, Eastern Long Island
Ben Franklin’s World: Old Newgate Prison & Copper Mine
The Revolutionary War’s Most Enigmatic Naval Captain: Pierre Landais
Book Review: Revolutions in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History
The Loyalist Flag
Update: The Jeptha Hawley House (c.1784)
Should Slave Owner John Walden Meyers Be Refused Recognition?
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post: Bernice (Wood) Flett, UE


Little Forks Branch Adds to Hyatt One-Room Schoolhouse

The Hyatt One-Room Schoolhouse in Waterville QC, south of Sherbrooke, has been the major on-going project for Little Forks Branch. Restored and then re-opened on 22 June 2002, several additions and improvements have been made since.

On Saturday 16 June, the Virtual Interpretation Panel (Listening Station) was unveiled. President Bev Loomis UE noted the following:

We held a very successful event with the unveiling of our second panel.

The weather was perfect. We had a tent erected just in case of rain or hot sun, had music, cold lemonade, veggie trays with dip, fruit trays with dip along with a choice of cheese and crackers. There were about 75 in attendance along with media, who all enjoyed visiting the one-room schoolhouse and partaking of the unveiling ceremony.

Here is our latest information. A great day enjoyed by ALL!

And now the even-more-exciting news: We have been registered as a National Historic Place!

…Bev Loomis, UE

What Did She Ever See in Him?

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Have you ever met a married couple and wondered what initial attraction sparked their relationship? Was it personality, appearance or the prospect of a secure income? After reading through the documents of the loyalist era, even historians can ponder the question “What did she ever see in him?”

For the last three weeks we have considered the life of a “very clever” wife and widow named Margaret Hutchinson. Born in Yorkshire, England, she had settled in New Jersey to raise horses with her husband John just before the outbreak of the American Revolution. After losing John and three sons during the war, Margaret and her remaining three children joined other loyalist refugees who sailed for Nova Scotia in October 1783. By February of 1784, the widow had met and married the minister of the recently founded Anglican Church in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. It was certainly quite a whirlwind courtship for the 46 year-old widow and the 52 year-old widower. What did Margaret Hutchinson see in John Wiswell?

A native of Boston, Massachusetts, John Wiswell graduated from nearby Harvard at age 18, and within four years had founded a school in Falmouth, Massachusetts (now Portland, Maine). The young Congregationalist also served the area as a supply preacher. When he was 30 years old, John married Mercy Minot, a “tall and genteel” woman of ‘indescribable sweetness”.

However, the Wiswells’ honeymoon would be a brief one. John had a mental breakdown within a week of his wedding and had to be “close confined” in the “height of his distraction”. Dr. Daniel How, a physician with an interest in mental illness, treated Wiswell in Boston by using a “dark chamber”. Whatever the treatment entailed, it brought about a swift recovery. When he returned to Falmouth, Wiswell met his firstborn son, Peleg.

But life did not immediately settle into domestic bliss for the new father. Wiswell decided to become an Anglican in 1764. His conversion was such a scandal that newspapers in communities as far away as New York wrote about it. One editor credited the change to Wiswell being “very much disordered in his upper house”. After Anglicans in Falmouth approached him to become their pastor, John sailed for England to be ordained by the Bishop of London. When he returned to Falmouth, he became the pastor for the 70 families attending St. Paul’s Church.

All might have gone well for the Anglican minister had there not been political unrest in the years leading up to 1776. Unhappy with the loyalist views of their pastor, the patriot members of St. Paul’s left to worship elsewhere.

In 1775, local rebels seized and imprisoned John Wiswell. Set free when his captors were threatened with being cannonaded by a British naval vessel, Wiswell fled to Boston, leaving his wife Mercy and their children behind. John’s family later joined the convoy that evacuated Falmouth’s loyalists, but not before having to give up their furniture, provisions, and real estate.

The family reunion in Boston was brief. “Greatly fatigued in mind and body, they {John’s wife and a daughter} sickened and died”. John recorded his feelings as he left for England in 1775, “the sufferings and Persecutions I have Undergone: together with the rebellious spirit of the People has entirely weaned my Affection from my native Country — the further I go from it the better.”

John remained in the United Kingdom for the duration of the American Revolution, moving from one pulpit to another in rapid succession. By 1783, in addition to having served as chaplain aboard the royal navy ship Boyne, Wiswell had been a curate in Oxford, then Suffolk, Kent and –finally– Essex. The latter had been made available to “any American clergyman out of employ”. Wiswell was welcomed to remain there as long as he pleased, but he eventually left to become a missionary in Nova Scotia.

Between 1776 and 1782, Wiswell’s name appears a number of times in the diary of Samuel Curwen, a Massachusetts loyalist who had fled to England to await the outcome of the revolution. Curwen noted that Wiswell’s comments about a fellow clergyman who sought liturgical reform betrayed “religious prejudice”. Curwen felt Wiswell’s attitude was the “unhappy leaven of a narrow education and manifest{ed} a fettered mind”.

Fettered mind or not, Wiswell was the clergyman that former members of his church in Falmouth had requested to minister to them in their new settlement of Cornwallis. Margaret Hutchinson and her three children met Wiswell for the first time in the fall of 1783. On February 23, 1784, Francis, Ann and their sister Margaret would begin to address their pastor as their stepfather. What had Margaret seen in John to prompt her to marry after so short a courtship?

It may be that being the local clergyman’s wife would give the loyalist woman a place in the upper echelons of Cornwallis society. (Being the wife of a respected member of the community was certainly better than being dismissed as yet another widow.) Or was it John who pursued Margaret? A fellow Anglican pastor noted that Widow Hutchinson had “the gleanings of a very ample estate”. Perhaps John saw in the inheritance left to Margaret by her first husband the means to enjoy a standard of living that he had lost during the American Revolution.

Wiswell felt poverty-stricken despite the £60 a year that he received from the British government, the “decent house” he had been given, an annual salary of £100 from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel — and the compensation that Margaret received from the British government for her first husband’s wartime losses. In 1788, he wrote “I regret that ever I came to this Country — I was wretchedly deceived . . . I am banished from my Friends — and doomed to lead a most laborious life, pinched with poverty and oftimes not knowing where to procure the common conveniences not to say necessaries of life.”

In the following year, John and Margaret moved to Wilmot, Nova Scotia where he was appointed the parish rector. Two years later, church officials were criticizing Wiswell for his lack of missionary zeal –a deficit that was either a product of his “fettered mind” or the fact that he was not in good health.

In 1801, John fell from his horse, rendering him too crippled to tend to his congregation on any consistent basis. How Margaret dealt with all of her husband’s trials goes unrecorded.

The Rev. John Wiswell died on December 2, 1812 and was buried in the Wilmot cemetery. His tombstone notes that he was “the first clergyman of any denomination who settled in this place”. We can only assume that it was his widow Margaret who composed the 70 (!) words of John’s epitaph. Following her husband’s death, Margaret’s name does not appear in historical records. However, John’s oldest son, Peleg Wiswell, is noted as having served as a judge of Nova Scotia’s supreme court.

Margaret died 18 years later at age 93 in 1830, carrying the answer to our question to her grave: What did she ever see in John Wiswell?

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

Black Loyalist Cemetery at Digby NS

Located on the outskirts of Digby, Nova Scotia is the Black Loyalist Cemetery.

An old Deed dated in 1922 refers to it as the “burying ground used by the coloured population”.

In more recent Deeds it is described as land “owned and occupied by the African Baptist Church and used as a cemetery”.

There are approximately 30 visible markers and stones which are believed to belong to Black Loyalists who arrived in the area with other Loyalists in 1783 and their descendants.

Here is a short video I recently prepared on a visit to the cemetery. I hope you find it interesting.

…Brian McConnell, UE

JAR: Maintaining Normalcy in British-Occupied Brookhaven, Eastern Long Island

by Matthew M. Montelione 18 July 2018

In August 1776, the Crown’s disciplined forces easily displaced the unprepared Continental resistance in the Battle of Long Island, also known as the Battle of Brooklyn. It was a decisive British victory, and the surviving Patriots retreated westward across the East River and onto York Island. By September, the British army firmly occupied Long Island and established martial rule there. Thousands of redcoats swarmed across the island and tried to calm the storm of revolution. The British Empire, however, did not bring peace to 1776 Long Island. The sudden presence of British troops alarmed citizens and interrupted their daily lives. Soldiers relied on Long Islanders for provisions and housing for an indefinite amount of time. In reality, few were truly safe, and violence of all kinds was commonplace. People from all walks of life were robbed, abused, kidnapped, and sometimes murdered by marauders who took advantage of wartime situations. Yet, despite all of this doom and gloom, some Long Islanders managed to persist in their daily life activities under British occupation.

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: Old Newgate Prison & Copper Mine

Morgan Bengel, a Museum Assistant at the Old Newgate Prison and Copper Mine Connecticut State Historic Site, offers us a look at both the history of early American mining and the history of early American prisons by taking us on a tour of the Old Newgate Prison and Copper Mine in East Granby, Connecticut.

During our exploration, Morgan reveals the history of the founding and operation of the Simsbury, Connecticut copper mine; Why the colony of Connecticut purchased the old Simsbury Copper Mine and turned its tunnels into a prison; And, details about the daily lives and experiences of those who served time in the Old Newgate Prison between 1773 and 1827.

Listen to the podcast.

The Revolutionary War’s Most Enigmatic Naval Captain: Pierre Landais

by Louis Arthur Norton 17 July 2018.

One American Revolutionary War naval captain, Pierre Landais, appeared paranoid and somewhat deranged. Landais was a French merchantman lieutenant who trafficked arms to America for entrepreneur Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais. Beaumarchais created a fictitious trading enterprise called Hortalez et Cie that channeled French arms to the Americans via colonial West Indian entrepôrts. Once there, the arms were sold to American agents. When Landais left the smuggling trade, he became an honorary citizen of Massachusetts and subsequently, on June 18, 1778, was given command of the American warship Alliance,named to honor America’s new alliance with France. He and his ship were assigned to an American squadron under the hot-blooded John Paul Jones whose initial impression of Landais was that he was “a sensible and well-informed man.”

Read more.

Book Review: Revolutions in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History

Author: Wim Klooster, (New York: New York University Press, 2018). Reviewed by Jordan E. Taylor 18 July 2018

Klooster’s book skillfully describes the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century revolutions in British North America, France, Saint-Domingue, and Spanish America, each in only a chapter. These chapters manage to be admirably concise without sacrificing too much complexity. At the pace he sets, it must have been tempting to tell a largely political story, but Klooster lingers in social and cultural changes, the roles of women and people of color in revolutions, and the surprising details that cut against traditional narratives.

He does not tell a simple story guided by a single overarching principle, but a series of thick narratives that add up to something even more complex. The book’s first and sixth chapters, which compare these events, offer Klooster’s most important interventions—and go a long way to answering Mirror Jordan’s question [“So what causes revolutions?”]. Klooster provides four common features of these revolutions: they took place in an international context, they were contingent, they were civil wars, and they were not aimed at the creation of democratic societies.

Read more.

See also: Q&A with the author Wim Klooster, by Julia M. Gossard.

The Loyalist Flag

One of the reasons I look forward to summer is the nicer weather to fly my Loyalist Flag. Will you be flying the Loyalist Flag of our United Empire Loyalist ancestors?

I have prepared a short historical video of the flag, which you can view here.

Hope you are enjoying your summer,

…Brian McConnell, UE

Update: The Jeptha Hawley House (c.1784)

A month ago, in issue 2018-24, we asked you to Help Protect The Jeptha Hawley House (c.1784). We have an update from K.C. (Gus) Panageotopoulos:

Thank you for drawing attention to the potential threat to the Hawley House.

It is with great happiness and relief that I can report that the property has been purchased by a party sympathetic to the cultural heritage value of the house. The real estate transaction will close on August 31st. Although the sale was good news, it was still important to press for the property to remain on the Register.

If something were to happen to the purchaser prior to the sale closing, the property would likely be placed back on the market. As the property is a serviced lot with waterfront access, it would still be a prime candidate for demolition to accommodate a new build.

On July 9th, 2018, Loyalist Township council voted unanimously to keep the property on the Register.

As the Register only provides interim protection, the new owners intend to pursue the formal heritage designation of the property. This action will protect the house from any further threats.

Read an excellent editorial on Loyalist Heritage Worthy Of Protection from the Napanee Beaver. I will keep you posted on the conservation plans for the Hawley House.

Should Slave Owner John Walden Meyers Be Refused Recognition?

Belleville ON area: After a public consultation process for several weeks this past winter the Hastings and Prince Edward school board settled on Meyers Creek for the consolidated high school at Moira secondary.

Oops – he owned slaves.

A letter to the editor by author Constance Brummel Crook, BA, UE offers insights into the circumstances. She notes “The very reason that was given for not using that name is the very reason for which you could well use Meyers’ name.” Read her comments.

Where in the World?

Where is ?

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.

  • Today, Sunday 22 July 2018 is Loyalist Day in British Columbia. Have a great day!

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Last Post: Bernice (Wood) Flett, UE

It is with great sadness we announce that Bernice passed away peacefully in London, Ontario on July 16, 2018. Born in St. Catharine’s , Ontario, in 1929, she was the second daughter of Pearl and Frank Wood.

Bernice was musical from day one, and in addition to her lovely voice and perfect pitch, she could play any instrument she tried. She was a talented piano player and could transpose music in her head. She went to normal school in London, Ontario, began teaching in Sarnia and then transferred back to London. In 1958, she went overseas to teach grade 7 and Music on the Air Force Base at Grostenquin, France. This was the beginning of her love of travel, as she explored Europe in her ruby red Sunbeam Alpine and toured art galleries. She also met and married Arthur Flett in France. Over the years Bernice also travelled to Greece, Japan, Denmark, Norway , Sweden and all over North America.

When she returned to Canada, she taught English and Music at the elementary and secondary levels in Windsor, Ontario, until she retired. She was also a member of the Rackham Choir –Detroit’s oldest choir–for eight years as a lyric soprano. She moved to London after retiring and volunteered for a number of organizations. She served as a docent at Museum London for many years and was delighted to share her knowledge with visitors of all ages. Bernice was very interested in genealogy and researched her family’s United Empire Loyalist background. She became involved in the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada, and was Dominion President (1996 — 1998) and Chair of the Education Committee. As a dedicated member of UELAC, Bernice worked tirelessly in support of Loyalist studies and Loyalist education. Through her leadership as Education Committee Chair, activities were created for UEL Day in Ontario and resources for schools in Ontario, the Maritimes and across Canada.

Predeceased by her loving sisters Louise Graves (Lorne) and Joyce Polgrain (Bert), and nephew Eric Sommerman; she is survived by her sister Fran Sommerman (Jim), her nephews Ted Slomer (Sue) & Mark Sommerman (Marta), and her niece Jan Graves-Passmore (Mark). She was a wonderful Aunt to all her grand nephews and grand nieces as well.

Many thanks to the staff at People Care, London, who took such good care of Bernice in her later years. Interment will be at Woodland Cemetary followed by a private family ceremony at a later date. Condolences may be offered at Woodland Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider supporting the Loyalist Scholarship (it was originally named in her honour; she requested it be renamed) or the Parkinson Society of Canada.

Bernice, a member of London & Western Ontario Branch UELAC, had been in declining health for several years but continued to rally back to her old self. A month ago, Bernice received her Branch Past-President’s Medal at our London Branch’s 45th Anniversary. Many out-of-town guests and London Branch members – 61 in all – enjoyed a wonderful lunch, celebration of new certificates and guest speaker Karen Richardson, provided by June Klassen. We intentionally convened our 45th Anniversary at the senior’s retirement resort where Bernice was living, so she could participate. She and her nephew Ted were very pleased.

Bernice was also instrumental in getting the Province of Ontario to pass legislation proclaiming June 19th as Loyalist Day. Bernice was a teacher of music; when we visited only 4 weeks ago, she played with gusto in the lounge at the retirement resort. When she enjoyed better health, Bernice was active in St. Paul’s Cathedral. She also had a passion for fine art, volunteering much time at the London Art Gallery. Bernice was the proud recipient of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal honouring her outstanding volunteerism.

Bernice donated financially, at times helping to keep us afloat, and to purchase things when needed. Our branch will miss our benefactor’s financial support, knowledge, sage advice and guidance, which has been greatly appreciated.

Following Bernice’s and her family’s wishes, there will be no funeral service. Bernice opted for cremation. She had been visited earlier in the day by Deacon Pat Henderson of St Paul’s Cathedral. Shortly after receiving the ‘Prayers for the Dying’ and 23rd psalm, Bernice passed away.

…Carol Childs, UE, President, London & Western Ontario Branch