“Loyalist Trails” 2020-07: February 16, 2020

In this issue:
UELAC Conference 2021 hosted by Bridge Annex – Online Preview Feb. 19
Thomas Knox, Deputy Muster Master (Part Three), by Stephen Davidson
Digby’s Oldest Loyalist Gravestone, Jacob Getcheus and Black Loyalists
JAR: The Death of Lt. Michael Grosh: the Maryland Militia at Germantown
JAR: Maj. Gen. John Sullivan and the Occupation of Easton, Pennsylvania
Dogs’ discovery of Revolutionary War graves leads to preservation victory
JAR Book Review: The Redcoat in America: The Diaries of Lieutenant William Bamford
Abolishing Monarchy in Canada will Complete Colonization of Indigenous People
Norfolk Arts Centre in Simcoe Ont. Closed
New Family Name Ribbon For War of 1812 Available from UELAC Catalogue
From the Twittersphere and Beyond


UELAC Conference 2021 hosted by Bridge Annex – Online Preview Feb. 19

On February 19th, Bridge Annex is hosting a LIVE online event to give updates on UELAC 2021.

Here we go! The adventure begins…LIVE update on Join the rEvolution 2021

Join us Wednesday, February 19 at 7:00 pm (EST) via ZOOM.

The link will be posted at least one hour prior on the Bridge Annex website and social media platforms.


All are welcome to our LIVE event, consisting of a 20-minute presentation followed by Online Chat Q&A.

Thomas Knox, Deputy Muster Master (Part Three)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Little is known of the story of Thomas Knox beyond his work as the deputy muster master for the Loyalist refugees of the St. John River Valley and his role in the selection of Fredericton as New Brunswick’s capital city.

He was the eldest son of William Knox, an Irishman who had settled in Georgia before the American Revolution. The family had done well in America. Thomas grew up on an estate in Knoxborough on the Savannah River that included two rice plantations, which required 122 slaves to work its 2,585 acres. The plantations brought in an annual income of more than £2,000. Despite their Loyalist sympathies, the Knox family’s name did not disappear entirely from Georgia’s geography. 21st century maps still show Knoxboro Creek, a tributary of the Savanah River that is just a half mile south of the Georgia-South Carolina border. Nor has William Knox been forgotten by American historians. The University of Michigan’s library has a collection of William Knox’s papers, ranging from 1757 to 1811.

Following his departure to Britain, William Knox served as the under-secretary for the American Colonies in London. He may have used his influence there to secure positions for his son Thomas within the British Army in both New York City and the future colony of New Brunswick.

William Knox is best remembered for proposing the creation of a new colony in what is now Maine. He envisioned that the territory between the Penobscot and St. Croix Rivers would become “New Ireland”. Its settlers would be refugees from the American south who would be in need of new homes following the American Revolution. Although a British post was established on the Penobscot River in 1778 and was successfully held until the end of the war, the territory was eventually surrendered to Massachusetts through diplomatic negotiations. The 150 Loyalist families who had settled along the Penobscot eventually established new homes in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

At one time William Knox had hoped that his oldest son would pursue a career in politics. Thomas Knox studied law and was called to the bar. But his opportunities for a career as an attorney were shattered by the outbreak of the American Revolution. He joined the staff of the commissary of musters, which was part of the support structure for the British forces headquartered in New York City.

At the end of the revolution, Knox joined with a group of fifty-four other Loyalists who petitioned Sir Guy Carleton for individual grants of 5,000 acres of land in Nova Scotia. When 600 other American refugees learned of this petition, they filed their own memorial, outraged that their fellow Loyalists would seek preferential treatment. Carleton wisely did not respond to the infamous “Fifty-Five’s” request.

Associating with 54 elite Loyalists proved to be of no help to Thomas Knox. His only resources were the skills that he had acquired while with the British forces and whatever influence his father might still have within the British government. The victorious rebels had seized the family’s plantations in Georgia, and there was not a great deal in the Knoxes’ bank accounts.

In the end, Thomas Knox’s training while with the commissary of muster proved to be his greatest asset, bringing him to New Brunswick in 1784. He tallied the colony’s Loyalists and determined who should receive rations from the royal bounty. That experience led to his inclusion in a group of consultants that chose Fredericton as New Brunswick’s capital. In the following year, Knox became the “deputy clerk of council”, a position that included the responsibility of issuing orders in council on behalf of Thomas Carleton, the lieutenant governor of New Brunswick.

In addition to the changes in his profession, Knox was also enjoying improvements in his personal life. In 1786 he married Elizabeth Putnam, the 17 year-old daughter of James Putnam. The latter was a Loyalist from Massachusetts. After graduating from Harvard, Putnam became “an imminent barrister at law”. John Adams, a future president of the United States, was one of Putnam’s students and actually boarded with the Loyalist’s family. Putnam had the distinction of being the last attorney general for Massachusetts “under His Majesty” before being forced to seek sanctuary in Halifax in March of 1776.

Following the creation of New Brunswick, James Putnam was appointed a judge of the new colony’s supreme court and a member of its council. It may be that since Thomas Knox was a clerk of the colony’s council, that role may have brought him into contact with Putnam and his daughter Elizabeth. Writing of his daughter, James Putnam said, “We were all well pleased with her marriage, and she had a pleasing expectation of living well and happy.”

Elizabeth Knox became a mother at the age of 18 in July of 1787. Thomas missed the birth of his daughter Elizabeth as he had been travelling in Canada “on business of his offices” since June. He was fated to miss far more.

Too many women died in childbirth in the late 18th century. Elizabeth Knox managed to survive the birth of her daughter, but was not well for several weeks afterwards. Her parents did not have “the least apprehension of danger till about a week before her death”.

Elizabeth died on August 14, 1787. Thomas Knox was still in Canada in early September and would not learn of his wife’s death until his return to Saint John. Within two month’s time, little Elizabeth died of unspecified causes on November 10, 1787.

A year after the death of his daughter and granddaughter, James Putnam drew up his will. Among the disbursements to be bestowed upon various family members was one for £12 to be given to Thomas Knox “as a small token of my affection for him”. Putnam died at the age of 64 on October 23, 1789. The last person in New Brunswick who might have been able to further Thomas Knox’s fortunes was gone.

Meanwhile, in Great Britain, Thomas’ father, William Knox, continued to pour his energies into protecting the cause of Loyalist refugees. When Brook Watson, the first agent to represent New Brunswick’s interest in the United Kingdom, retired after eight years in office, William Knox succeeded him. Ever mindful of his son’s fortunes, William had Thomas made his joint agent for New Brunswick on February 16, 1797.

Thomas joined his father in London and served as joint agent for the next eleven years. Over the decade, the New Brunswick government thanked their agents for their “vigilent attention to the general interests of this colony”. When William Knox retired as New Brunswick’s agent in London in 1808, the colony’s House of Assembly expressed its thanks to both William and Thomas Knox for their faithful service.

And with that expression of gratitude, the story of Thomas Knox fades into the mists of history. While brief, what we know of his life illustrates a number of major threads in the larger Loyalist story.

Representing experiences that were common to the Loyalist elite, Thomas’ family lost its wealth and relied on friends in higher places to forge a new life. Thomas’ role as a deputy muster master shows how the British government organized its relief efforts for the Loyalist refugees and demonstrates how it tried to combat the abuses the system suffered. Knox’s letters and reports shed a valuable light on lost aspects of the story of Loyalist settlement. Finally, in the story of Thomas Knox’s marriage, we see the ties that bound Loyalists together both in times of joy and tragedy.

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

Thomas Knox, Deputy Muster Master (Part Three)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

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

Digby’s Oldest Loyalist Gravestone, Jacob Getcheus and Black Loyalists

By Brian McConnell, UE

There is a very old gravestone in Digby, Nova Scotia which by investigating its’ origin is found a story of activities before, during and after the American Revolution. It would not be there if a Master of a Sloop carrying Black Loyalists had not come to the area.

The oldest gravestone in Digby’s Trinity Anglican Church Cemetery is for Mary Getcheus who died on November 17, 1785 almost two years after the Town was settled by the arrival of approximately 1,200 United Empire Loyalists at the end of the American Revolution. She was the wife of Captain Jacob Getcheus, also sometimes spelled Getsheus, a sea captain who lived in Philadelphia before the War of Independence began.

The Trinity Cemetery contains over two hundred graves associated with the first settlers of the area and their descendants.

Although the gravestone of Mary Getcheus has deteriorated over time, some of the wording is still visible including the words identifying her date of death and age as 37.

Jacob Getcheus, her husband, was Master of the Sloop Lydia which transported Black Loyalists to Annapolis Royal from New York in May 1783. It was part of the evacuation of the city after the American Revolution when United Empire Loyalists as well as Black Loyalists came to Nova Scotia as refugees.

Read more.

JAR: The Death of Lt. Michael Grosh: the Maryland Militia at Germantown

By Derrick E. Lapp, 11 February 2020

In the early hours of October 4, 1777, the Maryland militia trudged southward along the Old York Road in eastern Pennsylvania. In the distance off to their right, the rumble of cannon fire punctuated just how behind schedule they were. The battle in which the militiamen were to participate had begun, yet they were still far from their designated start point. Under the command of Brig. Gen. William Smallwood, the Marylanders (augmented by several hundred New Jersey militia under Brig. Gen. David Foreman) comprised the left-most pincer of a complex, four-pronged attack planned by Gen. George Washington to strike a portion of the British army posted at the hamlet of Germantown, Pennsylvania, just northwest of Philadelphia. Faced with a twenty-mile march, Smallwood’s column departed the American camp around 6:00 PM the evening of October 3, but the darkness of a moonless, overcast night combined with a lack of guides on unfamiliar roads to impede their progress. The going was slow. A member of one of the flanking parties took a turn down the wrong road and was captured by British pickets. Now, as the battle was beginning, early morning mist coalesced into a thick fog. The officers urged the militiamen forward. Among these leaders was a lieutenant from Frederick, Maryland – Michael Grosh.

I first encountered Michael Grosh while doing research on the Maryland Line of the Continental army. Michael’s younger brother, Adam Grosh, was a captain in the 7th Maryland Regiment at the Battle of Germantown. Adam and Michael, along with their older brother Peter, all joined the Frederick County militia at the outbreak of the War for Independence. Adam went on to serve as a regular, first as a lieutenant in the Maryland Flying Camp, then remaining with the Maryland Line as an officer in the Continental army. He would resign as a major in 1780.

Capt. Adam Grosh survived the Battle of Germantown. Lt. Michael Grosh, of Baker Johnson’s battalion of the Maryland militia, did not. At the time of my research, I found this curious.

Read more.

JAR: Maj. Gen. John Sullivan and the Occupation of Easton, Pennsylvania

By Andrew A. Zellers-Frederick 13 February 2020

For a brief seven weeks, the Pennsylvania frontier village of Easton became the second largest community within the state. With an estimated 25,000 inhabitants, Philadelphia was the largest city in Pennsylvania (and North America); under normal circumstances, Lancaster was second with between 3,000-3,500 inhabitants followed by York with under 2,000. In 1752 it was estimated that Easton had only eleven families. Under the “friendly” military occupation by Maj. Gen. John Sullivan’s command in 1779, Easton grew ten-fold from a mere four hundred inhabitants (plus a number of invalid troops, militia, and prisoners of war) to more than 4,000 occupants. This increase had a tremendous impact on the resident population and strained their limited resources.

Easton’s brief occupation occurred because the Continental Congress’s Board of War concluded that a major Indian war was in the near future. They decided that a defensive war would be insufficient to stem the numerous devastating Indian/Loyalist raids along the New York and Pennsylvania frontiers. They instead allocated approximately 3,000 troops in 1778 for an offensive action, but that effort did not immediately materialize. It was gradually determined that more soldiers were required. In the meantime, British-sanctioned violent incursions by Iroquois warriors into Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley and New York’s Cherry Valley regions caused an unquenchable thirst to totally eradicate the Iroquois menace with a “scorched earth” policy of retribution.

Choosing a commander for a multi-prong offensive by approximately one-third of the Continental Army’s manpower was challenging due to the Continental Army’s partisan and self-centered seniority-based selection process that regularly overlooked aptitude and ability…

Next in line was an ardent New Hampshire patriot, Maj. Gen. John Sullivan, who had loyally served with Washington from the very beginning of the war and was his obvious preference. Sullivan pursued and attained admiration from his troops for his military exploits. Washington described him as having “a flattering prospect of acquiring more credit than can be expected by any other this year.” His health was questionable, but he accepted the challenge with only brief hesitation – although not everyone was impressed with his military service. Dr. Benjamin Rush referred to Sullivan as “weak, vain, without dignity, fond of scribling, in the field a madman.”

Sullivan’s instructions from Washington were quite clear and precise. “Having appointed you to take command of an expedition, which is to be carried on to the Westward against the Indians of the Six nations – You will be pleased forthwith to repair to Easton, in order to superintendent, and forward the preparations, for that purpose.”

Read more.

Dogs’ discovery of Revolutionary War graves leads to preservation victory

In one of the most pivotal but often-overlooked battles of the American Revolutionary War, a group of Patriots led by Col. Andrew Pickens defeated a force of British Loyalists twice their number. In a surprise two-hour attack, Pickens’ troops caught the British – teeming with confidence from recent wins in Savannah and Augusta, Ga. – off guard.

For nearly 240 years, many of those slayed soldiers lied untouched in cursory, makeshift graves – until recently.

An incredible sense of smell zeroed in on more than two dozen graves, according to Walker Chewning, president of the Kettle Creek Battlefield Association. Cadaver dogs surveyed about a quarter of the battlegrounds near Washington, Ga, sniffing out where soldiers could have fallen.

Chewning told Fox News “the use of cadaver dogs is something new in archaeological research” and certainly something the association will continue to utilize.

Read more.

JAR Book Review: The Redcoat in America: The Diaries of Lieutenant William Bamford

The Redcoat in America: The Diaries of Lieutenant William Bamford, 1757-1765 and 1776, by John B. Hattendorf (Helion & Company, 2019).

Review by Don N. Hagist 12 February 2020.

Writings of participants in the American Revolution are always welcome when they become widely available. John B. Hattendorf’s new contribution to this literature is especially interesting because it offers one individual’s perspectives on events over two decades and two conflicts. Hattendorf’s recognized that two surviving manuscript diaries in different repositories are by the same author, British army officer William Bamford. One diary, describing operations in North America from 1758 through 1765, is in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University in Rhode Island; the other, covering campaigns in America from January through December 1776, is held by Johns Hopkins University.

William Bamford was a lieutenant in the 40th Regiment of Foot during the French and Indian War, and a captain in the same regiment during the American Revolution. He served at the siege of Louisbourg in 1758, and the subsequent campaign that took Quebec and secured Canada in 1759 and 1760. He traveled from Quebec up Lake Champlain, then down the Hudson River to Staten Island. From there, in 1761, he sailed with his regiment to the Caribbean, spending the next four years in Martinique, Havana, West Florida, and Mobile. He fought in some of the conflict’s most dramatic battles, and endured the chilling cold of Canadian winters and the brutal heat of Gulf Coast summers.

It is unfortunate that only one year of Bamford’s writings from American Revolution survive, from January through December 1776. Bamford served in Boston until its evacuation in March 1776, then went with the army to Halifax and on to Staten Island. He fought in the campaign that drove rebel forces out of the City of New York and its environs.

Read more.

Abolishing Monarchy in Canada will Complete Colonization of Indigenous People

By Nathan Tidridge 12 February 2020 – published in the Toronto Star

The perennial debate on abolishing the monarchy, this time triggered by the Sussexes transplanting themselves to Vancouver Island, has appeared once again.

As I read through the various commentaries being offered, I feel there are teachings that have been gifted to me by Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers that should to be shared: Abolishing the Crown in Canada will not draw a line under colonialism. If anything, it will be yet another step toward completing its mission.

When Indigenous Nations first encountered Europeans on Turtle Island (North America) they began incorporating them into their own long-established protocols of treaty-making. Treaties created the necessary diplomatic space in which very different societies could communicate and negotiate complex relationships despite radically different world-views. The Crown was a natural vehicle for settlers to enter long-term relationships with their Indigenous partners.

Read more.

Norfolk Arts Centre in Simcoe Ont. Closed

With a challenging financial situation, on Feb. 6 Norfolk County closed the Norfolk Arts Centre.

They plan to move its permanent collection to the Norfolk County Archives at the former Eva Brook Donly Museum in Simcoe, and disperse the museum’s collection of artifacts to county museums in Waterford, Delhi and Port Dover.

Many loyalist researchers over the years had used the Grand River Branch library and research resources which were housed at the Eva Brook Donly Facility. For many years, a highly-regarded heritage fair was held there each Fall.

The Grand River Branch resources would appear to be part of the Archives. What further changes that may occur remains to be seen.

Resources to preserve and promote our heritage have often been a struggle; the struggles continue.

Read more.

New Family Name Ribbon For War of 1812 Available from UELAC Catalogue

New: A second Family Name Ribbon to celebrate your ancestor, whether your original Loyalist, or a Loyalist descendant who participated in the War of 1812.

Check the medal suspended below the ribbon.

Recognize those people with his or her name on the bar.

Multiple ancestors? No problem. Each ribbon will hold up to five bars; some people wear multiple ribbons.

As this is not an earned medal or medal of recognition, this ribbon should be worn on the right chest.

The ribbon and bar come separately so the bar can be placed as desired.

Have your engraving done by your local jeweller, or order the bar with engraving at $.60 each letter.

Details at Family Name Ribbon.

Find more items in the UELAC promotional catalogue; if you have questions, or to order something, see ordering information.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Advertisement for two Run Aways that appeared in 1792 in the Royal Gazette, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Daniel Odel was a United Empire Loyalist who came to Nova Scotia from Dutchess County, New York … Brian McConnell UE
  • Monday, February 17, 2020 is Heritage Day in Nova Scotia. In 2020, Heritage Day honours the Community of Africville.
  • (Almost Valentine’s Day) Princess Augusta wrote to her brother the Prince Regent asking for permission to secretly marry her lover, Sir Brent Spencer, who she acknowledged was far below her station. Spencer was wearing this miniature of her when he died. Read a description and see the letter.
  • The lady extinguishes a burning heart: Valentine’s day job.
  • Love Tokens From The Thames
  • Hamilton musical opens in Toronto – I’m interested in the reaction to the musical in United Empire Loyalist territory. ‘Hamilton’ is now the hottest ticket in Toronto. Here’s why the musical is a theatrical phenomenon.
  • This Week in History
    • 13 Feb 1773, 8-year-old Joshua Green wrote in his almanac that he received “A new pr: shoes.” He was staying home from school, having “Caught cold a coasting” after recovering from measles in January. Joshua would enter the Latin School in July.
    • 8 Feb 1776, New-Hampshire Provincial Legislature asks Continental Congress’ help in defending seacoast.
    • 9 Feb 1776, Gen. Lee asks Congress to send a battalion to NYC to build fortifications against newly-arrived British.
    • 11 Feb 1776, Sir James Wright, Royal governor of Georgia, escapes Patriot house arrest; returns to office 1779-1782.
    • 13 Feb 1776, Patrick Henry is placed in command of defense of Virginia’s gunpowder supply.
    • 14 Feb 1776, Maj. Thomas Musgrave, the best skater in the British garrison, led redcoats across the ice of Boston harbor to “destroy the houses and every kind of cover whatever” on the Dorchester peninsula. They captured six Continental guards.
    • 12 Feb 1777, Benjamin Franklin publishes another column for the British public, laying out the injustice of taxation without representation.
    • 10 Feb 1779, Americans outfight Loyalists at Carr’s Fort, GA, turning away to rout enemy at Battle of Kettle Creek.
    • 14 Feb 1779, Patriots defeat Loyalists at Kettle Creek, GA, after mortally wounding Colonel Boyd, leading to a rout.
    • 12 Feb 1789, Ethan Allen, of Green Mt. Boys, dies of stroke, possibly following a night of drinking & carousing.
    • 13 Feb 1799, On this day in 1799, the Boston Board of Health was established to fight a potential outbreak of cholera. Paul Revere was appointed its first president.
  • Townsend’s
  • Clothing and Related:
    • Perfect for Galentines Day Detail, Portrait of Madame Adélaïde by artist Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (1749-1803), c. 1787
    • In need of a bit of sparkle? So fortunate to have a length of gold metallic bobbin lace from c. 1750s in my study collection
    • 18th Century dress, robe a la française, originally c.1735 and restyled c.1770
    • 18th Century dress and accessories, the silk is of the 1770’s but the dress is of 1785-90
    • 18th Century Casaquin – a close fitting coat, silk with gilded silver lace, 1730-1740, a rather elaborate version of a hunting coat, but worn for ceremonial occasions or post hunt
    • 18th Century women’s Caraco jacket with winged cuffs and peplum of a stunning blue brocaded silk, c.1740-1750’s
    • 18th Century linen shirt & silk breeches. The shirt was underwear in the 18th century. Its purpose was to protect the outer clothing from the body. If the owner could afford to, a clean one would be worn every day. 1740-1780
    • Detail of gentleman’s 18th Century waistcoat and frockcoat, 1770-90
    • 18th Century men’s waistcoat, cream coloured ribbed silk with floral embroidery, possibly worked in China for export to the West, c.1740’s
  • Miscellaneous:
    • Although often described as a prolific inventor – indeed, he’s been linked to everything from swivel chairs to coat-hangers – Jefferson had only one true invention: the “moldboard of least resistance” for a plow. Read article.
    • Bank robbery catapulted Bath Ontario into national consciousness. It’s noon on a sunny late summer Monday in Bath, that historic little lakeside village just west of Kingston. On Aug. 20, 1945, the war is almost over, and most of Canada is beginning to bask in new-found prosperity. The old limestone bank building – it’s now a four-unit apartment complex adjacent to the present-day RBC branch – was built in 1819, making it one of Bath’s oldest structures. After the (United Empire) Loyalists arrived here in 1783, Bath became a busy port of call for trade and other services. Read more…
    • In C17th/C18th London there was a floating coffeehouse called The Folly, moored on the Thames off Somerset House. While originally the resort of fashionable society, it increasingly attracted ‘loose and disorderly company’, and seems to have ended its days as a riverine brothel.
    • I almost left this behind, but it look too much like a ‘thingy’ to ignore and it’s lucky I lugged it home. It’s either a seine net sinker (1600-1800) or a Roman loom weight, although the groove at the top suggests it is more likely to be a net sinker.