“Loyalist Trails” 2020-03: January 19, 2020

In this issue:
A Loyalist Doctor’s House Call, by Stephen Davidson
Kingston [Ontario] Lower Burial Ground
Borealia: Book Review: Jacksonian America and the Canadian Rebellion
JAR: Betty Zane and the Siege of Fort Henry, September 1782
JAR: Tapping America’s Wealth to Fund the Revolution: Two Good Ideas that Went Awry
Region and Branch Bits
      + Assiniboine Branch Project: UELAC Calendar for 2021 – Please Contribute
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post
      + Dorothy (Evans) Ellsworth
      + A Book or Publication About Ziba Pope’s Personal Journals
Editor’s Note: Away; Website Issues


A Loyalist Doctor’s House Call

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Thanks to a letter that was written over 200 years, we have a very detailed description of what transpired when a Loyalist doctor made a house call to see a patient in Kingston, Upper Canada in the summer of 1804.

The physician in question was Dr. John Gamble, an Irish immigrant who had put his medical training to good use during the American Revolution as an assistant-surgeon on the staff of New York’s General Hospital and then as a member of the Queen’s Rangers. We’ll introduce the good doctor later, but for the moment let’s accompany him as he makes his way to the home of Richard Cartwright on Friday, June 15, 1804.

Dr. Gamble had been summoned to the Cartwright home to see to Thomas William Powell, a nineteen year-old boarder who, just three weeks earlier, had come to Kingston to attend school. Thomas was the youngest of the 9 children born to Judge William Dummer Powell and his wife Anne. Based in York (Toronto), the Powells wanted Thomas to have a good education, even though it meant sending him up Lake Ontario’s shoreline to Kingston. The draw to the Loyalist settlement was Richard Cartwright, a New York refugee known for being well read, a member of the colony’s legislature, and noted proponent of education.

Ever since Wednesday, Thomas and two of the Cartwright children had been suffering from cold symptoms. Richard Cartwright’s wife, Magdalen, tried her best to provide comfort, urging Thomas to take some honey just before he went to sleep. Despite his cold, he “went to bed with his usual good spirits”.

But the teenager was no better in the morning. Too tired to come down for breakfast, he asked if he could have a cup of tea in bed. Thomas drank only a little of his tea and hardly had any of his toast spread with currant jelly. A touch to his head revealed that he was somewhat feverish, “though not to any considerable degree”.

When Thomas’ fever persisted into the evening, Mrs. Cartwright bathed her boarder’s feet with warm water and sent for Dr. Gamble. Gamble gave Thomas a purgative (laxative) “which had the intended effect in procuring the evacuations considered proper in such cases”. This was a common treatment for a number of maladies, but contributed absolutely nothing to the teenager’s recovery.

The Cartwrights felt it best to have someone stay in their boarder’s room for the night, so Richard Cartwright Junior – only seventeen himself – sat by Thomas’ bed.

Saturday morning dawned, and Thomas was still no better. The Cartwrights called for Dr. Gamble to visit yet again. Seeing that the purgative had no positive affect, the doctor felt the boy’s hands. Because they were cold, Gamble concluded that Thomas must be experiencing a “fit of the ague” (fever). The doctor had to attend to an errand, but while he was out, he wanted Thomas to begin drinking barley water. The latter was believed to have a number of medicinal benefits: flushing toxins from the body, treating urinary tract infections, and aiding in digestion. The Cartwright’s twelve year-old daughter, Hannah, sat with the weakened Thomas, helping him take the barley water.

Before he could finish Gamble’s prescribed medicine, Thomas turned to Hannah and urged her to get her mother immediately. Mrs. Cartwright rushed into the room. Thomas stretched out his arms, cried “Dear Madam!”, let out a shriek, and went into convulsions. This was clearly more than a mere cold or a fever.

Or was it? Following this violent episode, Thomas rallied. He told Richard Cartwright that he was much better and asked his landlord for a slice of toast. Despite this positive turn of events, Thomas found that he had no stomach for the toast once it was served. By this time, Dr. Gamble had returned to the Cartwright home. Committed to determining what was wrong with the boy, the doctor asked him a number of questions. One pertinent fact stood out: Thomas had “not been well two months together for more than a year”.

As they bathed Thomas’ feet for a second time, Richard Cartwright suggested that his young boarder might respond positively to blistering. This was a medical procedure that was thought to help people who suffered from hysteria, gout, inflammation and fevers. A powder composed of substances that would raise blisters on the skin was combined with plasters and spread on the patient’s skin to produce a blister. Depending on how many blisters were thought necessary to affect a cure, the plaster might be left on the skin for several hours.

Dr. Gamble concurred with Cartwright’s suggestion and went to get a plaster. It was about noon. As the bandages were being prepared, Thomas suddenly died “without a struggle or a groan”. All of the medical knowledge available at the turn of the 19th century had failed to save Thomas Powell. As was later recorded, Thomas had been “cut off in the short space of about thirty-six hours” after his health began its precipitous decline.

Two days later, Richard Cartwright took up his pen and wrote one of the most difficult letters he had ever had to compose. Writing to Thomas’ parents, he began to relate the story of their son’s death with the words, “it wrings my heart to be … the messenger of evil tidings to you”. After recounting how Dr. Gamble had tried to prevent the decline in Thomas’ health, Cartwright assured the grieving parents that “I shall only add that during his illness, and in paying the last sad duties to his remains, we have acted as we would have done had he been our own son”. That consideration included seeing to Thomas’ burial in the Kingston church yard that already included the graves of several of Cartwright’s own children.

Not mentioned in Cartwright’s letter to the Powells is the reaction of Dr. John Gamble, the attending physician. Losing a patient is always difficult for a doctor, especially when the deceased is so young. As both the Powells and Gamble had once lived in Niagara, it is likely that the two families were acquainted with each other, and this fact may have added to Gamble’s distress.

Some of the loyalist physician’s treatments may seem barbaric to a 21st century reader, but in trying to help Thomas Powell, Dr. John Gamble had drawn on all of the medical knowledge that he had accumulated over a 25-year career. He had done his best.

Next week’s Loyalist Trails will continue the story of this Loyalist doctor whose career brought him into contact with patients from Saint John, New Brunswick to Niagara, Upper Canada.

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

Kingston [Ontario] Lower Burial Ground

The Lower Burial Ground at Queen and Montreal Streets, was laid out in 1783 in anticipation of the arrival of Loyalists at Cataraqui after the American Revolution. St. Paul’s Anglican Church was built on the burial ground in 1845. Legally owned by the Anglican Diocese of Ontario, it is the earliest consecrated Protestant cemetery west of Montreal. Many early citizens of Kingston are buried here, including prominent and ordinary people, along with black slaves brought by the Loyalists, and sailors of the Lakes. In the middle of the city of Kingston, it is a unique cemetery containing fine stone monuments such as the Forsyth, the Cartwright, and the Stuart Lair. Unique in North America, the Lair (enclosure) is the burial place for the Rev. Dr. John Stuart, his son Archdeacon George Okill Stuart and their families.

According to the 1790 Vestry Minutes of St. George’s Church, the area was fenced in that year by pointed vertical boards at a cost of £6 18s. These were replaced on three sides by a drystone wall in 1800-1808. Pollution, weather, and increasing vehicular traffic gradually wore down the wall thus requiring repair. Removal of the west wall on Queen Street led to the moving of grave stones away from their original location near the wall towards the 1872 Hall. Fallen monuments were encased in concrete on the ground. Of the original walls, only the one on Montreal Street remains, now fully restored.

Over the years, many other monuments have been damaged and the cemetery fell into neglect. In 2008, St. Paul’s Parish Council tasked one of its congregation to look into not only repair of the deteriorated wall but also the monuments. The Lower Burial Ground Restoration Society was incorporated in 2009.

Read more about the cemetery, a listing of burials, a few of the notables who are buried there – Molly Brant (Tekonwatonti), The Honourable Richard Cartwright, Robert Macaulay, Reverend Dr. John Stuart and Colonel Sir Richard Bonnycastle – St Paul’s Church and a history.

Thanks to Joan Cybolsky for suggesting this.

Borealia: Book Review: Jacksonian America and the Canadian Rebellion

Jacksonian America and the Canadian Rebellion, eds. Maxime Dagenais and Julien Mauduit (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019).

Review by Stephen R. I. Smith

The essential focus of the edited collection – the place of the Rebellion in the United States – has remained constant in the years since the project was first referenced on this platform. Exploring the role of the Rebellion in US history is a useful point of departure and a much needed one. With so much of the focus of antebellum history elsewhere (e.g. the Bank war, Texas, sectional tension), scant attention has been paid to how this event in the Canadas impacted on the United States. Conversely, while scholars have considered how external thought currents influenced the Rebellion, there has been almost no focus in the other direction.

Revolutions across Borders is noteworthy because it represents work that finally follows Allan Greer’s call to both break down the boundaries between Rebellion events in Lower and Upper Canada as well as to view them in an international context.

Read more.

JAR: Betty Zane and the Siege of Fort Henry, September 1782

By Eric Sterner 14 January 2020

In 1774, as tensions between colonials and Native Americans living along the upper Ohio River grew, settlers either fled east of the mountains or forted up. During the summer, Maj. Angus McDonald of the Virginia militia marched over the Appalachians to Wheeling on the Ohio River and joined the locals like Ebenezer Zane, the town’s founder, and John Caldwell in erecting Fort Fincastle. (Wheeling had grown to about twenty-five cabins by 1774.)

Fort Fincastle was situated on a high bluff above the river. A palisaded fort, it covered about half an acre in the shape of a parallelogram. Bastions stood at each corner and projected over the walls. The bastions and walls contained loopholes through which the defenders could fire. A magazine, barracks, and several cabins covered the interior ground, both to house the fort’s garrison and shelter any civilians fleeing to the fort when threatened. A swivel gun was mounted on the barracks rooftop, indicating it was higher than the surrounding walls. There was a well inside the fort and a freshwater spring outside the west wall. The main entrance was on the east front and ground was cleared all around. Cornfields and fenced farmland occupied most of it. Ebenezer Zane had a fortified house about seventy yards southeast of the fort.

Fort Fincastle became a base of operations for settlers and Virginia militia fighting the Indians during Dunmore’s War. Just six months after the Treaty of Camp Charlotte nominally ended that conflict, Massachusetts militiamen exchanged fire with British regulars at Lexington and Concord.

The best-known Revolutionary War events around Fort Henry occurred in conjunction with a three-day siege in September 1782. While negotiators worked out the Treaty of Paris, Native Americans and British officers continued to wage their war. That summer, the British and allied Indian nations (Wyandot, Shawnee, Mingo, Tawaa, Pottowatomie, Delaware, and others) held a grand council to determine their future operations. The offensive into northwestern Virginia was delayed, but eventually Capt. Andrew Bradt led his company of about 50 loyalists from Butler’s Rangers and 250-350 diverse Indian warriors to the Ohio.

Read more.

JAR: Tapping America’s Wealth to Fund the Revolution: Two Good Ideas that Went Awry

By Tom Shachtman 16 January 2020

“Unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place,” Gen. George Washington wrote from Valley Forge on December 23, 1777,[1] to Henry Laurens, the recently-appointed president of the Continental Congress, “the Army must inevitably be reduced to one or the other of these three things. Starve – dissolve – or disperse, in order to obtain subsistence.” A week later, in letters sent to the state governors,[2] Washington reported that more than 2,898 soldiers at Valley Forge were “unfit for duty” because they lacked clothes; the troops at the camp had not been fed in three days, but he pledged to continue to “conceal the true state of the army from public view” to prevent the British learning of its condition and attacking while it was so weak.

The estimated amount of money required to supply the army for the coming year and to operate the new country’s central government was three million British pounds. During that terrible winter of 1777-1778, Henry Laurens and his son, John Laurens, a Washington aide-de-camp, independently hatched two interesting ideas for tapping the country’s wealth to underwrite the war.

Read more.

Region and Branch Bits

From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.

Assiniboine Branch Project: UELAC Calendar for 2021 – Please Contribute

This fund-raising project – a UELAC calendar – of the Assiniboine Branch UELAC enters its third year. For a picture of it, see a Twitter post by Brian McConnell, UE on January 1 this year, in which he writes:

“Happy New Year! Today put up the 2020 UELAC Calendar! Each month has wonderful photos of members from Branches of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada. Important dates are also marked.”

The calendar features pictures of people from across the UELAC Branches. Would you as a member of a branch send pictures you would like to be considered for the calendar? It could be a person you would like to acknowledge from your branch, group pictures during events or even projects you are working on or have completed in your area.

Once again Liz Adair will have the calendars available at the UELAC Conference and AGM in June or branches/people could pre-order and Liz will get the calendar to them one way or another. Please reach our to Liz Adair at ladair@mts.net with questions, submissions, orders.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Last Post

Dorothy (Evans) Ellsworth

Dorothy (Evans) Ellsworth of Youngstown, NY passed peacefully from this world on January 11, 2020 at the age of 88 after a brief illness and long fight with kidney disease. She was surrounded by her dearest family at Kenmore Mercy hospital when she rejoined her lost love forevermore. The family stories and memories of her buoyant personality will keep her alive for generations yet to come.

She was born February 12, 1931 in Niagara Falls, NY to Virginia (Ernest) Doring. She met her late husband, and love of her life, Dale “Harry” Ellsworth as a young girl. After courting, they were married for 70 years and had a beautiful family of four; Kathleen (Sullivan), Patricia (Truesdale), David, and Jamie (Pacheco). They were delighted and blessed with many descendants, extended family, and close friends who were like family to them.

Dorothy not only raised a beautiful family but worked throughout her adult life. She used her secretarial skills at the Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation located at the Lake Ontario Ordinance Works; Bell Aircraft in Niagara Falls later Bell Aerospace; Lewiston Porter Elementary School at the Balmer Road temporary 3rd grade buildings as well as the main campus; the Deveaux School; the Erie County Planning Board located on Grand Island at the time; Erie County District Attorney Edward Cosgrove; she concluded her career working for the Gellman family at both the Conbow Corp. and The Benchmark Group.

She enjoyed being active and engaged with her community in so many ways. In her early days she sang in the choir and Sweet Adelines. She was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star Angelus Chapter 559; the Colonel John Butler Branch of the UEL; and the ladies’ group of the UCCE Nihawk ’10. She continued to navigate computers and technology after retirement; she helped her husband Dale with maintaining information and newsletters for the groups he was involved with. While her family grew up Episcopalian in her husband’s church, Dorothy returned to her Presbyterian roots to attend the First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown, NY.

Dorothy greatly enjoyed traveling and camping. There were many a family camping trip to the Adirondacks and other campgrounds when their children were young. Most memorable was a cross country camping trip with her husband late in life. When their plans included Japan, they took classes at Niagara University in order to read and speak Japanese. She truly loved visiting friends and family across the country. In addition to knitting, she enjoyed sewing and applique work. She was always happy to make a special bib for the babies coming into her life.

Dorothy was pre-deceased by her husband Dale, daughters Kathleen and Patricia, as well as granddaughter Jennifer (Wagner) Magner. She will be lovingly remembered by her son David Ellsworth, daughter Jamie Pacheco, her 6 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren as well as nieces, nephews, cousins and other extended family.

A service to celebrate Dorothy’s life will be held on Saturday February 8, 2020 at 11 AM at the First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown at 100 Church Street, Youngstown NY 14174. In Lieu of flowers please consider a donation to the Village of Youngstown, PO Box 168 Youngstown, NY 14174, in the memo indicate Senior Transportation Program memorial. This program was precious to Dorothy and is donation-based.


A Book or Publication About Ziba Pope’s Personal Journals

David Bell, the loyalist scholar and once professor at UNB, was working on a book about Ziba Pope’s personal journals last year. Pope was a Baptist minister who spent time in St George, Charlotte, NB, among other places. The lack of Baptist church records in those early days makes such a publication interesting to researchers with elusive Baptist ancestors.

Dr Bell has apparently retired from UNB, and his email is no longer active.

Does anyone know if something has already been published or if work continues and there are plans for future publication?

…William D. Romanski, Rhode Island

Editor’s Note

Editor Away; Website Issues

We are at the midpoint of a two-week break, somewhere betwixt Bonaire and Grenada with a tour of part of the latter scheduled to begin when we dock mid-afternoon.

Compared to high-speed fibre optic internet access at home, every web page and email message takes “forever” to load or send – one of the reasons for a somewhat abbreviated issue of Loyalist Trails this week.

On Friday a few emails to my business address noted that our uelac.org website was down. Emails being sent to an address at that domain are being returned. With luck we should be back in business late Monday or Tuesday. My apologies.