“Loyalist Trails” 2019-33: August 18, 2019

In this issue:
Seeking Truth with The Good Americans Film Project
Loyalists and Canada’s First Residential School, Part 3: Sussex Vale, by Stephen Davidson
Short Stays from the Scrap Bin
JAR: The Penobscot Expedition of 1779
JAR: Their Pockets Filled with Paper Dollars: The Raid on Little Ferry
Ben Franklin’s World: Frontiers of Science
Theodosia Prevost Burr & Slavery in 18th c. New Jersey
“No Stamp Act”: Pots & Politics in Early America
Bushrod Washington: Distinguishing Natural Rights from Legal Rights
Where in the World?
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post: Patricia Potter Hughes, UE


Seeking Truth with The Good Americans Film Project

Our production update this week reveals a director’s thoughts on History, Filmmaking, and “the mysterious and fugitive nature of Truth.” It also raises the question, “Is the shortest distance between two points always a straight line?”

Tad Størmer, Executive Producer/Director of The Good Americans describes his ongoing search for the elusive truth of the Loyalist experience:

“When we embarked on our exploration of the loyalist experience in THE GOOD AMERICANS, it began as a sort of rescue mission – recovering the story of a group of people who did nothing less than create our modern world by establishing the United States through their abrupt absence and Canada by their unexpected presence. And then they promptly vanished, remembered only by a handful of scholars and a smattering of descendants. That was hardly an uninformed perspective; I have a PhD in History, specializing in the American Revolution, and two of our intrepid Producers are themselves talented public historians. Our film was also inspired by a new book, The Consequences of Loyalism (Univ. of South Carolina Press, 2019), that reflects the latest in loyalist scholarship. From concept to film, from America to Canada, from then to now, the project was hardly a leap into the dark. A three-act structure (we’ve all read our Sheila Curran Bernard) was just waiting to be scripted into a bundle of pages for our narrator, the incomparable Amber Marshall, and a sound booth somewhere near Calgary.

Then we started talking to more people – a lot more people – and we heard rather different narratives. And they were markedly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, different depending on which side of the U.S.-Canada border we were on. As a result, the measure of the impact the loyalists had on the society they left, and the society they created, took a back seat to the question of who they were in the first place. Or even how many there were (If anyone tells you that they know, or have a good estimate, they’re lying or have a book to sell you). Oddly enough, we started finding them everywhere and nowhere. We saw where they had been, in strange gaps in American histories, and in unexpected presences in Canadian histories, and in the often, torturous explanations that generations of people have tried to use to make sense of them – and their diversity. In short, every time we thought we were on secure ground, we kept losing our footing.

So, our project changed. It was no longer a rescue it was an exploration of truth…” Read the complete article at Størmerlige Films.

For daily updates we invite you to follow The Good Americans on Instagram @stormerligefilms and on Twitter @StormerligeFilm. For an overview of The Good Americans project visit stormerligefilms.com.

In fact, why not take a moment to drop a line with a word of thanks to info@stormerligeproductions.com for their commitment to unearthing and shining a light on our ancestor stories. They would love to hear from you.

Loyal then, loyal now.

…Bonnie Schepers

Loyalists and Canada’s First Residential School, Part 3: Sussex Vale

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Appointed by a board of Loyalist commissioners in 1787, Oliver Arnold was the first teacher at the Indigenous residential school in Sussex Vale, New Brunswick. Three years later, he became an Anglican missionary, but continued to be involved in the school as the educational superintendent for the New England Company. This charitable British society was responsible for establishing schools for the purposes of “educating and placing out the heathen natives and their children in English families, in some trade, mystery or lawful calling.”

Oliver Arnold was a Connecticut Loyalist who had graduated from Yale College in 1776. Following service as a lieutenant in the Volunteers of New England, he came to New Brunswick as a 28 year-old bachelor in the spring of 1783. Three years later he married Charlotte Hustice , the widow of a Loyalist doctor.

Although Arnold made an attempt to learn the Wolastoqiyik language and train an Indigenous teacher, he lost any enthusiasm he might have had for working with his students, complaining that it was an “unpleasant task”. As the historian Judith Fingard points out, Arnold created the impression among his fellow Loyalists that the Indigenous students were “at best exploitable, at worst dispensable”.

Arnold benefited more from his position as superintendent than his Wolastoqiyik students did. Over time, the funds from the New England Company intended for teacher salaries and the costs of Indigenous apprenticeships found their way into the pockets of the Loyalist clergyman. Arnold failed to pay the Sussex Vale teachers their full salaries. His family lived in a house provided by the New England Company, and he received £20 a year for each Indigenous apprentice he had working his land.

John Coffin, one of the Loyalist commissioners put in charge of New Brunswick’s residential school, described Arnold as “rapacious in the extreme” who was more like “a mad dog after his prey than a clergyman in the habit of praying for things requisite and necessary”.

Following the consolidation of New Brunswick’s seven schools for Indigenous students into one institution in 1791, the original Sussex Vale building had to be expanded to accommodate students who would be living there throughout the school year. When the Rev Charles Inglis, the Anglican bishop for the Maritimes, visited the school a year later, he reported that there were between 20 and 30 white students and 8 Indigenous students. “The latter were boarded and clothed in the school as well as instructed there.” Inglis reported that the “Indians learned as fast as the whites, and were fond of associating with them”.

Three years later, the school was enlarged to 80 by 30 feet to house “English children as well as the natives”. It included an apartment for the teacher and his family. It was described as being “quite long and low and uncouth in appearance.”

In 1823, Bishop Inglis wrote a second report that provides posterity with an idea of how New Brunswick’s first residential school functioned.

“The young Indians are taught in the same room with the scholars of the parish, but in separate classes. The number of them is only fourteen and they … appear to make good progress in reading and writing. So far this institution seems well constituted and guarded …The plan of the college is, that when the children are admitted and clothed, they are apprenticed out to different families in the settlement, who have their services as servants, on condition that they send them at certain times to the college or school for instruction.

Several Indians who have been brought up at this college, and are now grown to manhood, are settled in the parish as farmers or mechanics, and seem to manifest no disposition to return to their roving and savage habits. There is a considerable quantity of land belonging to this institution, but the building itself is almost in a state of dilapidation and will soon require material repairs…”

The residential school saw a number of teachers come and go over its history. After Arnold changed careers from teacher to rector, Elkanah Morton took his place for a year. Despite having lost a leg in an accident at a militia review in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, this farmer’s son had a range of careers from ship building and teaching in New Brunswick to serving as the justice of the peace in Digby, Nova Scotia.

Following Morton’s departure, there was no regular teacher at the residential school until Jeremiah Regan, a “person of some local importance”, was hired in 1797; he taught until his death in 1815. He was succeeded by Walter Dibblee, the nephew of Frederick Dibblee who had taught at Meductic’s Indigenous school 20 years earlier. Walter had been a teacher in a variety of New Brunswick communities since 1789, so he brought some educational experience to the Sussex Vale school.

Following Dibblee’s death in 1817, Joseph R. Leggett, a New York Loyalist was hired. Destined to be the school’s last teacher, Leggett was noted as possessing a good education, literary tastes and refined manners. His talents were wasted in a school program that spent more time hiring out its Indigenous students than actually providing them with educational basics.

In 1821, Leggett reported that he had 21 Wolastoqiyik students under his “tuition and inspection”. But he had doubts about the merits of the ways in which his students were “educated”.

He described his students and their program in a report to the New England Company, saying “They were of ages ranging from nine years to nineteen, and averaging thirteen years and nine months; and, although the majority were placed in families near enough to the academy to admit of their daily attendance on the classes there, yet several were bound out as far distant as Penobsquis {14 km} and Norton {20 km}. It can hardly be supposed that under these circumstances they received a great amount of systematic training; indeed, no mention is anywhere made of any attempt at any time to teach them more than the catechism and the arts of reading and writing.”

Matters finally came to a head when Walter Bromley, a representative of the New England Company, visited Sussex Vale. He was appalled to discover that exploitation of the Wolastoqiyik students was given priority over their religious instruction and vocational training.

Another report by Dr. John West was also critical of the methods used at the Sussex Vale school: The principle that was adopted of apprenticing their children at an early age to different settlers I found was not generally approved by the Indians themselves, nor has the plan proved beneficial to their morals. … Their naturally high and independent spirit must be consulted in an attempt to do them good …”

A year after West’s inspection of the residential school, the New England Company shut down Sussex Vale College on March 24, 1826.

A history of the school written in 1892 concludes with these words: The greater proportion of the Indians departed from Sussex soon after their {apprentice} allowances ceased, and all speedily abandoned the church which had made such exertions and outlay for their civilization and conversion; and, indeed, but for the pathetic little wooden crosses in Ward’s Creek cemetery, one would now hardly know that the few Indians remaining in this vicinity had ever heard of Christianity.”

The Loyalists’ attempts to assimilate the Indigenous population of New Brunswick had failed. Sadly, Sussex Vale would not be the last residential school.

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

Short Stays from the Scrap Bin

By Kelly Arlene Grant, 26 July 2019

By way of background. Kelly, a Public Historian, was the recipient of a UELAC Scholarship in 2018.

For Kelly, Loyalist material culture has been a life-long passion. At the beginning of her academic career, she was fortunate enough to study extant garments of loyalist provenance at the New Brunswick Museum. It was that early exposure that helped guide her professional work with museums and living history programs.

In the living history and experimental archaeology communities there is a move afoot to recreate and use the material culture of the everyday to better understand the way in which people lived their lives. Changes made towards the greater understanding of the minutiae of how objects were created and used, and how items developed individual characteristics and wear patterns have led to a more in-depth understanding of daily practice. In recreating the material culture and using these items in living history programs, we are better able to engage with our history on an embodied level. For my doctoral dissertation research, I will undertake an interdisciplinary study of eighteenth-century clothing and material culture of Nova Scotia, focusing specifically on Planter and Loyalist immigrants. Read more about Kelly and her research.

Regency on a Shoestring: Part One – Short Stays from the Scrap Bin

My plan over the next month or so is to make new, working class Regency era clothing for myself and possibly Pierre. The thought is, if I can do this project from my stash of fabrics, seriously on the cheap. I want to use pieces that I found on the discount wall at Fabricville, from scraps from other projects, and as quickly as I possibly can. Quickly, but also accurately as possible. I may be in the position of building a wardrobe again, and I want to show the site that this can be done cheaply and accurately, and that the interpretation staff can work in the clothes.

And because every good historical outfit begins with the foundations, I started by building new stays. Read more.

See Kelly’s blog, where among others she has posted, you can find Part Two of the above post.

JAR: The Penobscot Expedition of 1779

By Michael Cecere, 8 August 2019

For much of the Revolutionary War, the relative obscurity and isolation of the three Massachusetts counties of York, Cumberland, and Lincoln along the coast of present day Maine protected the inhabitants from British threats. This changed in June 1779, when Gen. Francis McLean and 700 British troops, escorted by a handful of British warships and transports, landed on a peninsula near the entrance to Penobscot Bay (about mid-way up the coast of Maine).1 General McLean’s arrival was part of an effort to start a new British province, New Ireland, which was to extend from the Penobscot River eastward up the coast to the St. Croix River. British leaders believed that the presence of a strong British post on Penobscot Bay would help hasten the establishment of New Ireland and isolate and neutralize the small settlement of Machias (which had been a nuisance to the British in Nova Scotia).

McLean’s force landed in mid-June and immediately built a fort upon high ground overlooking Penobscot Bay and the mouth of Bagaduce River (which flowed south and east of the peninsula). Much of the peninsula was heavily wooded and the western shore, which overlooked the bay, rose steeply to one hundred feet above the sea, making an attack from that direction very difficult. Three British warships under Capt. Henry Mowat blocked the entrance of the river and protected the southern and eastern approaches to the British fort (dubbed Fort George by General McLean) while the narrow northern approach, which was bordered by a marsh and water, was covered by the fort’s guns.

Read more.

JAR: Their Pockets Filled with Paper Dollars: The Raid on Little Ferry

By Todd W. Braisted, 15 August 2019

During the American Revolution, Bergen County, New Jersey, was flooded with combatants from all over America, many of whom had never been to the region before. Troops of the Continental Army hailing from New Hampshire to North Carolina were ordered to Bergen County to garrison the rich farmland and lend protection to the Whig inhabitants, sometimes with Washington’s Army but other times in smaller numbers. In late 1778 an incident occurred involving out-of-state soldiers who learned the perils of war in the Hackensack Valley.

After British troops left Bergen County in October 1778, Gen. George Washington filled the void by detaching the 2nd Virginia Regiment under Col. Christian Febiger to Hackensack. British intentions were unknown at the time, but were thought to be planning to evacuate New York or at least settling into winter quarters. Despite the decreased risk, Colonel Febiger did not feel his force adequate, being in an exposed position close to the British in New York and Paulus Hook (present-day Jersey City.) Writing to Washington on November 29, 1778, Febiger pleaded, “My Regiment is hardly sufficient to keep necessary Guards for our own Security, which renders it very severe Duty to keep a Guard at the Liberty Pole and parties out to intercept the Villains that are dayly carrying Supplies to the Enemy.”

Washington recognized both the inadequacy of the force and the precariousness of the position. Febiger and his regiment were removed from Hackensack and Bergen County, replaced by the North Carolina Brigade. The station this time was Paramus, a few miles from Hackensack.

Read more.

Ben Franklin’s World: Frontiers of Science

Cameron Strang, an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Nevada, Reno, joins us to investigate the early American world of science and how early Americans created knowledge about the natural world.

During our investigation, Cameron reveals how early Americans understood science and natural knowledge between 1500 and 1850; Information about the different types of people who undertook acts of scientific inquiry and why and how they undertook those acts; And, details about the ways in which imperialism both furthered and hindered scientific inquiry.

Listen to the podcast.

Theodosia Prevost Burr & Slavery in 18th c. New Jersey

By Susan Holloway Scott, 9 August 2019

A few of the early readers of The Secret Wife of Aaron Burr have expressed surprise that Theodosia Bartow Prevost and her husband James Mark or Marcus (or Jacques-Marc; he went by both the French and Anglicized versions of his name) Prevost owned slaves on their New Jersey property.

At the beginning of the American Revolution, every single one of the thirteen original colonies had enslaved people living within its borders. Slavery was not limited to the large-scale plantations of the south. While enslaved people in the northern colonies did work in agricultural settings, many of them also served as servants in houses and businesses, as well as being skilled tradespeople like carpenters, coopers, shipbuilders, seamstresses, laundresses, and so on. The majority of them did not live in separate quarters, as on the southern plantations, but in the homes or businesses of their slaveholders, sleeping in attics, cellars, or simply on a pallet in the corner of the kitchen or hall.

Read more.

“No Stamp Act”: Pots & Politics in Early America

By Evelyn Strope

Although it may come as a shock to a twenty-first-century consumer, tea was once a political brew. The strong, steeped leaves and the teapots, teacups, and silverware that accompanied them were representative of clashes between imperialism and commercialism in the Atlantic world. As tea shifted from luxury to necessity in early modern Europe, Britons wanted tea-time utensils as fashionable as the drink itself. Sensing a profitable opportunity in this spike in tea consumption, British manufacturers raced to meet demand for teaware and challenge the Chinese stronghold on the porcelain market through the invention of ‘creamware’ or ‘pearlware.’ Both attractive and cost-effective, creamware opened up new markets for fine tableware beyond the middling classes, allowing ordinary men and women whose pocketbooks had once restricted them to rough earthenwares to dabble in the finer things in life. New-and-improved British ceramics were marketed throughout the Empire, including in the North American colonies, where tea and teaware would set the stage for now-infamous taxation protests. Long before disaffected colonists threw around 340 chests of tea into Boston Harbor, Americans had already begun to associate pots and politics. Take, for example, the ‘No Stamp Act’ teapot.

Read more.

Bushrod Washington: Distinguishing Natural Rights from Legal Rights

By Lynn Price, 13 August 2019

As the Washington Family Papers project team wraps up work on the Papers of Martha Washington for publication in 2020, we have started in-depth research for our next project, the Papers of Bushrod Washington. Bushrod Washington, the nephew of George Washington, inherited the first president’s papers and Mount Vernon home. However, Bushrod’s most significant contributions to history occurred during the more than thirty years he served as an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshall. Perhaps Bushrod’s most famous verdict was the one in which he defined the concept of natural rights as those rights conferred unto individuals by nature. His verdict also explored the difference between natural and constitutional, or legal, rights, which he maintained were bestowed upon individuals by their government. The debate regarding which rights are natural and which are legal, set in motion by Bushrod Washington’s 1823 judgment of Corfield v. Coryell, continues to this day.

Read more.

Where in the World?

Where are Diane Reid (Toronto Branch), Linda Engel and Nancy Conn (both Gov. Simcoe 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.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:

  • Savage, Capt. John – from Linda Mazrimas

Please help us build the directory by contributing information. Contact loyalist.trails@uelac.org for guidance.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • You feel awe at the passage of centuries when walking the Old Loyalist Burial Grounds in Saint John, NB: “HERE LYES the body of Mary Buirtes Widow of Wilm Buirtes who died March 20th 1787 aged 58 years.” 232 years ago. For historical perspective, ships were still wind powered.
  • Størmerlige Film. The Good Americans: The kind of things that our research turns up: patterns of speech in British America. One loyalist son recorded that his mother always spoke like a colonial, with such pronunciation as “haive” for “have” and “shaul” for “shall.”
  • Excellent Video – The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War
  • 14 August 1769, 250 years ago, John Adams wrote: “Dined with 350 Sons of Liberty at Robinsons, the Sign of Liberty Tree in Dorchester. We had two Tables laid in the open Field by the Barn, with between 300 and 400 Plates, and an Arning of Sail Cloth overhead…”
  • A meal of roasted rabbit was prepared in our Revolution-era farm kitchen recently at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. While rabbit may not be commonly seen on the dinner table in Virginia today, it was prepared and enjoyed in many different ways in the 18th century.
  • Today in History: Some from Lars D.H. Hedbor @LarsDHHedbor (see his page for associated photos) – items with links are from different places:
    • 17 August 1774, a committee of the Company of Cadets, “attended by the Company’s servant bearing the Standard,” met Gov. Thomas Gage in Salem and gave him their mass resignation to protest how he’d dismissed John Hancock as their colonel.
    • 16 Aug 1777 At Battle of Bennington, Vermont militia, aided by Massachusetts troops, wipe out force of 800 Hessians.
    • 16 Aug 1775, the Rev. Henry Caner of King’s Chapel told the Bishop of London: “Out of 115 proprietary Head of familys belonging to my Church, about 50, and those of the wealthier sort, have left me and retired to England, Halifax, etc. for safety.”
    • 15 Aug 1780 Patriots at Camden ordered into battle despite widespread food poisoning, suffer “total defeat.”
    • 15 Aug 1775, Gen. George Washington appointed Edmund Randolph and George Baylor, two young gentlemen from Virginia, to be his aides de camp. Randolph went on to be governor of Virginia, first US Attorney General, and 2nd US Secretary of State.
    • 14 Aug 1775 Americans plunder at least 100 barrels of gunpowder from Crown storage magazine at Bermuda.
    • 13 Aug 1781 French fleet departs for America, where it will prevent reinforcements to Cornwallis at Yorktown.
    • 12 Aug 1776 Washington predicts British assault on NYC, but cannot prevent its capture on 15 Sep 1776.
    • 11 Aug 1775 Washington sternly warns British commanders to improve treatment of POWs.
    • 10 Aug 1776 News of the Declaration of Independence reaches London. “We hold these truths to be self-evident…”
  • Townsends
  • See how the colors turned out after last Friday’s application of natural dyes to fabric at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown’s Revolution-era farm. Indigo and Cochineal were used in the dye pots.
  • The Rockingham mantua, c1760-5. Fitted bodice, stomacher, narrow train draped at the waist, wide matching petticoat. Made of French silk satin brocaded in silver thread with a design of narrow stripes & vertical undulating ribbon of leaves & floral sprays.Trimmed with silver lace.
  • Carefully preserved in the collections of the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, MA. is a diminutive stomacher. Made for a member of the Standish family, it is 8 inches long and 6 inches wide at the widest point. Triangular in shape, it is made of needle lace insets with a bobbin lace edge. Read more…
  • This 1798 dress from the Metropolitan Museum  collection belonged to Catherine Beekman (1762-1839). The matching fichu to this gown is very rare and delicate. Each piece of this ensemble embroidered with the floral motifs have individual variations, demonstrating artistic/creative flair.
  • 18th Century dress, sack-back detail: The ‘watercolour’ effect of the silk used in this sack is achieved by a weaving process called ‘chiné’.  Most chiné silks were imported from France and were more expensive. 1755-1765
  • 18th Century dress: An open robe and petticoat of pale yellow silk brocade featuring bunches of flowers in shades of white, purple, blue, pink, red, with green leaves floating over a grid of fine violet and brown check. c.1770, English
  • Detail of 18th Century men’s court suit and waistcoat, silk, c.1775, probably British

Last Post: Patricia Potter Hughes, UE

We are saddened to hear of the passing of a longtime Toronto branch member, Patricia Potter Hughes, on April 23, 2019, in Richmond Hill, at the age of 93.

Pat, was the beloved wife of Ernie Hughes and predeceased by Nelson Potter (1994). Loved mother of Jim (Janice), Craig (Barb) and Debbie (Dale). She is survived by 7 grandchildren, 15 great grand children and 2 great great grandchildren. Predeceased by grandson Michael and her 3 younger sisters Donna Knight, Joan Jackson and Mary Lou Nichols. Sister in law of Gwen Potter of Barrie. Survived by many loved nieces and nephews. She will be sadly missed by Ernie’s children Alan (Anne) Hughes and Linda (Nick) Alosinac and their families.

Growing up Pat’s family were very active Toronto branch members. She was the daughter of Wilton Harper Elliott UE who was President of our branch 1955-1956 and her sister Donna Knight was also a President of the branch 1977-1978. Pat had been a member of the branch since 1944! We enjoyed our phone calls and notes with Pat who remained tuned into the activities of Toronto branch and was a very kind financial supporter to us.

Her loyalist ancestors were on both parent’s lineage: through her father she descended from Irish John Wilson and her mother, Helen E. Hankinson, descended from Reuben Hankinson.

Our deepest sympathies to Ernie and their families.

…Martha Hemphill