“Loyalist Trails” 2020-11: March 15, 2020

In this issue:
UELAC Conference 2020: Covid-19 Virus Update
Welcome 2020 Loyalist Scholar Richard Yeomans
I Can See Clearly Now: Scholarship Challenge May 2020
Hazardous Assistance: Stories of the Loyalist Underground (Part 2 of 4), by Stephen Davidson
Comment on “Hazardous Assistance” Re Obenholt
Kelly Arlene Grant: The Sestercentennial Begins: Boston Massacre 250th
JAR: Aggressive-Minded Gamblers: Washington, Howe, and the Days Between Battles, September 1777
JAR: Two Book Reviews: Journal of the Hessian Jäger Corps and The Disaffected
Nelles Manor Museum (Grimsby, ON) Built by Robert Nelles UEL
Found: Infant Shirts (Newport Historical Society)
Region and Branch Bits
      + Grand River Branch March 21 meeting cancelled
      + Sir Guy Carleton Branch April 4 meeting cancelled
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post: George John Rawlins
      + Where Would the Rebels Have Confined a Family with Small Children?


UELAC Conference 2020: Covid-19 Virus Update

UELAC and Manitoba Branch are monitoring the Covid-19 situation closely and will respond to any direction from the Federal or Provincial Governments. We are working with the Conference Committee in Winnipeg and will advise our members through the website and other conference communications channels of any developments as soon as we are aware of them. Decisions about the conference and AGM will need to be made in a timely manner and we ask our members and others interested to monitor this site and watch for other communications for further information. Communique No. 4 was distributed on Friday 13 March.

A Notice from Wendy Hart and Mary Steinhoff, 2020 Conference Co-Chairs:

As we monitor the COVID-19 situation during March, please be assured that for registrations arriving by mail for the next while, we will record the registration details but will delay depositing the cheques until decisions have been made. Thank you for your patience.

According to the Marriott Hotels COVID-19 policy, if you’ve already booked your room, you have until April 30 to change or cancel without charge. If you haven’t yet booked but want to do so, any bookings made between now and April 30 for ANY date, can be changed or cancelled up to 24 hours prior to the arrival date (whatever it may be).

Read the Marriott’s COVID-19 policy.

Welcome 2020 Loyalist Scholar Richard Yeomans

Congratulations and welcome to Richard Yeomans, PhD candidate at the University of New Brunswick. Richard’s family has lived in New Brunswick since first landing at Parrtown after the American Revolution. The Yeomans family has long been associated with having loyalist roots; Esther Clark Wright even notes the established history of his family name in the American colonies as “readily recognized as a typical loyalist family name… Wilmot, Winslow, Yeomans, Yerxa…” (Wright, 1972, p. 158). His earliest known ancestor, Mary Yeomans, arrived at the mouth of the Saint John River valley as a widow, with her young son George, in 1783. Seven generations on, Richard’s family continues to live in York and Saint John County as active members of the community where he is fortunate enough to study.

“Inventing a Bountiful Earth: New Brunswick Settler Science and the Moral Economy, 1785-1885”, Richard’s research will use New Brunswick agricultural exhibitions as a lens to identify and trace the webs that connected colonial society with modern scientific research and analyze how a combination of local knowledge and scientific study informed diverse community-focused policies.

We look forward to getting to know Richard better in the coming months. Please consider inviting him to a branch event or meeting. This means you Atlantic Region! You may even find a common Yeomans ancestor.

I Can See Clearly Now: Scholarship Challenge May 2020

With growing concern over COVID-19 (Coronavirus) the scholarship committee realizes that your attention is directed towards the health and well-being of loved ones and family. We understand the need to focus on issues affecting your daily routine.

For this reason, we are only planting a seed today. Back in January, Christine Manzer was already looking ahead “with 2020 vision” to inspire our members and branches in support of scholarship. Today we ask that you save a place in the coming months for scholarship giving. Our goal is to launch a fundraising campaign in May 2020 and with your help we can continue to support the brightest students in the field of Loyalist history.

But for now, please stay healthy and reduce the spread of this and other viruses by washing your hands, really well. For additional up-to-date information use Canada’s Public Health website.

Thank you for your ongoing support. We are stronger together.

…Bonnie Schepers, UE, Scholarship Chair

Hazardous Assistance: Stories of the Loyalist Underground (Part 2 of 4)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

The story of Anne Frank and her family is the most widely known account of the day-to-day life of Jews who had to hide from their oppressors during World War Two. But such desperate measures are not limited to either the history of the Jewish people or the chronicles of the Second World War. Loyalist civilians who feared persecution or execution at the hands of Patriots were also forced to spend their days in cramped quarters during the American Revolution.

The Rev. Samuel Seabury, an Anglican minister in Westchester, New York, owed his life to a Loyalist friend in Connecticut. After his family had been attacked and robbed by rebels, Seabury was imprisoned in New Haven for over a month. Following his escape, he found sanctuary in the home of a Loyalist who hid Seabury in a secret room behind his brick chimney. There the minister stayed, receiving his meals through a trap door until Patriots discovered his whereabouts and arrested Seabury was once again.

Details about the size of the secret room, the length of time that Seabury remained in hiding, and how he was betrayed to his rebel captors are missing from this story — as is the ultimate fate of those who put themselves in danger by protecting him. To discover an account of a Loyalist in hiding that includes such details, one should turn to the diary of Margaret Morris, a Quaker widow who hid the Rev. Jonathan Odell in a secret room in her home in Burlington, New Jersey in December of 1776.

Odell, an Anglican priest, was an outspoken Loyalist. In June of 1776, he composed a song in honour of King George III’s 38th birthday that was sung by British prisoners of war held in Burlington. Within a month’s time, the local Patriots restricted Odell’s movements — compelling him to remain on the east side of Delaware River within an eight mile radius of the town’s courthouse.

When German soldiers arrived in Burlington, some of its citizens asked Odell to meet with the Hessians to gain assurances that they would not insult or injure anyone. Before any agreement could be reached, rebel forces fired on Burlington. The Hessians left, but Odell and other local Loyalists were now in great danger for having “consorted with the enemy”. Armed with bayonets, Patriots had orders to capture Odell dead or alive.

At this point, Margaret Morris enters Odell’s story. She had bought a mansion in a wealthy neighbourhood that was near a large green park — ideal for her four children: William, Edmund, Charles and Hannah. Their new home had once belonged to William Franklin, New Jersey’s last royalist governor and the estranged son of Benjamin Franklin.

After buying the house, Morris discovered that there was a hidden chamber behind one of her linen closets, a room she referred to as an “auger hole”. Learning of the threats against Odell’s life, she invited him into her home where she hid the Loyalist that she described as her “poor refugee”.

A great deal of forethought had gone into the creation of the “auger hole”. It could only be accessed through a room at the end of a long hall. In that room was a linen closet. When its contents and shelves were removed, the back of the closet could then be pulled away to give access to the secret chamber. After ducking to enter, the occupant came into a space that was quite roomy but had no window to admit light from the outside. The chamber was furnished with a straw bed and a box that was partially filled with sawdust (presumably an alternative to a chamber pot).

Hanging in the room outside the linen closet was a bell that was attached by wires to a knob just inside the front door of Morris’ house. If Odell’s friend suspected that there were unwelcome guests knocking at the door, she could turn the knob, make the bell ring, and alert Odell before admitting whoever threatened to enter her house. The sound of the bell could not be heard at the front door.

As it turned out, there was only one occasion when Odell might have been captured during his stay at the Morris home. Margaret recounted the episode in her diary.

“A loud knocking at my door brought me to it. I was a little fluttered and kept locking and unlocking that I might get my ruffled face a little composed. At last I opened it, and half a dozen men, all armed, demanded the key of the empty house. {This} seriously alarmed me, for a poor refugee … had claimed the shelter of my roof and was at that very time concealed, like a thief, in an auger-hole.

I rung the bell violently, the signal agreed on if they came to search, and when I thought he had crept into the hole, I put on a very simple look…” Morris then did her best to delay the Patriots while Odell slipped into the secret chamber. He was never discovered.

After this incident, Morris “placed him in other lodgings”. On December 18, 1776, she noted in her diary “our refugee gone off today out of the reach … of Tory hunters”.

Odell found refuge within the British lines, but he would not see his wife and children until 1779. He served as a military chaplain for the remainder of the war, officiating at a ceremony that honoured Prince William Henry, the son of King George III, during his visit to New York. Eventually the Odell family found sanctuary with other refugees in New Brunswick where he became the provincial secretary, registrar, and clerk of the council.

While the role that Margaret Morris played in saving his life has largely been forgotten, Jonathan Odell’s name has been immortalized in a 333-acre park in the heart of Fredericton, New Brunswick. Jonathan Odell, the man in the auger hole, died on November 25, 1818.

Two years earlier Odell’s Quaker saviour, Margaret Morris died at the age of 79. The diary, which she kept between December 1776 and June 1777 was preserved by family members and eventually published twenty years after her death. Only then was the story of how she hid a “poor refugee” revealed — an act that forever changed the course of one Loyalist’s life.

Thus far in this series we have seen how Loyalists came to the aid of British soldiers and hid strangers threatened by rebels. The next Loyalist Trails will feature stories of those who befriended Loyalists as they fled to sanctuary in Canada and New York City — men and women who operated a network of safe houses that predated the abolitionists’ Underground Railroad.

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

Comment on “Hazardous Assistance” Re Obenholt

In reading “Hazardous Assistance (Part One),” by Stephen Davidson, I was interested in the John and Elizabeth Obenholt. When I was working we had a plant at Fairless Hills, PA (Bucks County) and a small corporate office in Newtown. I was friends with a woman in accounting and spent time at their place.

Her married name was Overholt and she lived along the Delaware River and took me to the site of Washington crossing the Delaware. Her husband’s ancestor’s family split and part went to Grimsby area and if you go to the St. Andrew’s Anglican Church graveyard, there are several Overholts.

…Pat Blackburn, UE, Hamilton Branch

Kelly Arlene Grant: The Sestercentennial Begins: Boston Massacre 250th

Yesterday marked the 250th anniversary commemoration of the Boston Massacre. The actual anniversary was Thursday, but many of the commemoration ceremonies were this weekend. Photos and videos are being shared on social media, and I have to admit to a fair bit of jealousy and feeling left out, but when I watched the video of the event last night, I was glad to have stepped back from this event. It was beautiful, don’t get me wrong, more that I would have felt ‘far too much emotion’ ™. It was beautiful.

Seeing the event shared through social media has me thinking of my own living history practice, and what I need to be working on for this season’s eventing. The first event we will be participating in will be the No Quarter event at Ticonderoga in May. Pierre will be a British soldier, working as a servant.

Read more.

JAR: Aggressive-Minded Gamblers: Washington, Howe, and the Days Between Battles, September 1777

by Gary Ecelbarger 10 March 2020

On Tuesday afternoon, September 16, 1777—five days after the Battle of Brandywine—George Washington and most of his 11,000-member Continental army stood atop the South Valley Hills in Chester County, Pennsylvania, ill-prepared to repel the approach of 14,000 British, Hessians and Loyalists composing Sir William Howe’s Crown Forces. Aside from skirmishing on the flanks, a fierce, natural event turned this into the grand battle that never happened. It is referred to today as either the Battle of the Clouds, Battle of Goshen, Battle of White Horse (or Whitehorse) Tavern, as well as the Battle of Warren Tavern.

The chronology of this event is routinely depicted in histories devoted to the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign, along with the routes the opposing armies took from September 12 thru 16 to reach the battlefield. In short: General Howe remained at the southeast corner of the Brandywine battlefield with at least half of his army for five nights before moving northward on September 16. The other portion of his force, ultimately led by Gen. Charles Cornwallis, advanced to the outskirts of Chester on September 12 and 13 and remained in place until initiating a northward march during the evening of September 15. Meanwhile, George Washington and his Continental army retreated to Chester immediately after Brandywine and marched from Chester on the morning of September 12 eastward to the Schuylkill River opposite Philadelphia, which they completely crossed by early September 13. They immediately marched northward out of Philadelphia, encamped just south of Germantown for less than a day, and then headed west across a ford eight miles above Philadelphia. Throughout the rest of September 14 and all of September 15, the Continental army advanced more than twenty-five miles westward from Philadelphia on the Lancaster Road. On the morning of September 16, skirmishing on the heights south of the road prompted both armies to advance to those heights, the scene of the Battle of the Clouds.

The above synopsis accurately explains the outlines of what happened from September 12-16, 1777. Yet a simple, thoughtful gaze at a troop movement map depicting those five calendar days reveals how odd those movements really were, inviting a series of questions involving Washington and Howe, all beginning with “Why?” Two important questions have never been answered (or apparently asked). Others have been speculated upon or only partially answered. The following analysis provides more complete answers to questions regarding the decisions that led to the September 12-16 movements, revealing Washington and Howe as two aggressively-minded gamblers, each of whom clearly understood the stakes involved with his respective wager.

Read more.

JAR: Two Book Reviews: Journal of the Hessian Jäger Corps and The Disaffected

Reviews by Timothy Symington 11 March 2020

Recently this reviewer had the good fortune to tackle two books at once. Both touched on the events leading up to and including the occupation of Philadelphia in 1777. The first is a valuable first-hand account of the Hessian Jäger Corps, which formed part of the German auxiliary troops employed by the British. The second is a fascinating look at the plight of a group of Philadelphia civilians known as the “Disaffected” as they experienced the early days of the Revolution and the British take-over of their city.

Journal of the Hessian Jäger Corps 1777-1779, by W. Steedman, translator, and Ian Saberton, translator and editor (Tolworth, Surrey, UK: Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd., 2018)

The Jägers were the elite of the Hessian troops, consisting of excellent marksmen, armed with rifles instead of muskets. They were “employed to great advantage in leading the van of a marching army or protecting its rear, covering a withdrawal, reconnoitering, and conducting partisan warfare, particularly ambuscades” (p. xiii). Both the original German journal entries and their English translations are printed, opposite each other in the text. The entries begin with June 1777 and the last one is in December 1779. Several maps help the reader follow the exploits of the soldiers in various skirmishes in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania campaigns.

The Journal is not for a large audience. It is great as a resource for details about the military exercises of the Jäger corps.

The Disaffected: Britain’s Occupation of Philadelphia During the American Revolution, by Aaron Sullivan (Philadelphia PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019)

The Disaffected is a fascinating picture of an almost completely ignored group of people. There were obviously more than two sides in the Revolution; the British and the Patriots fought each other, and the Loyalists were torn between the two. However, a fourth group suffered from the fighting of the other three. The Revolution was a dangerous calamity that devastated their lives, their property, and their families. This group was simply called the “Disaffected,” those who did not show loyalty to either side. Either because of religion or pragmatism, they simply withheld allegiance. The idea of apathy and disaffection was viewed by the Patriots to be a threat to their legitimacy. Unanimity and mutual consent was absolutely necessary to justify American independence. Disaffection and dissent weakened that unanimity. Therefore, disaffection had to be dealt with. It had to be silenced.

The Disaffected tells the story of several individuals who not only had to survive the British invasion and occupation of Philadelphia, but to deal with an ideologically zealous faction who could not accept the idea of disaffection. James Allen was a lawyer who once supported colonial nonimportation and boycotts. The move towards independence was not a direction he believed the colonies should be going in, and he tried to divorce himself from the Patriot cause. Elizabeth and Henry Drinker were Quakers who could not support either side due to their religious beliefs.

Read more.

Nelles Manor Museum (Grimsby, ON) Built by Robert Nelles UEL

The history of the Nelles Manor starts long before the house was built, and parts of the story are older than the Niagara region itself.

The first inhabitants of the area were the Indigenous people of the region, who prospered from their thorough exploration of the Niagara Peninsula’s rich lakes and forests. The native group known to reside in this area were termed the Neutral Indians, which was a confederacy of Iroquoian tribes. Because of the discovery of the grave site found just minutes from the Nelles manor in 1976, it is now commonly accepted that the Neutrals’ resided in the Grimsby area in the mid-1600s.

The Nelles Manor was built from 1788 until 1798 by the Nelles family and ship builders, who would’ve been contracted by Robert Nelles himself. Even though the 1700s seems like ancient history to some, the Nelles family was considered to be immigrants when they first came to the area. Luckily, they were connected to and respected by the Mohawk tribe, so were given land by Joseph Brant (the chief of the Mohawk people). The Nelles family emigrated from Germany to England, and then were originally given land in the Mohawk valley (what is now New York State) by the Queen of England at the time, Queen Anne Stuart. Trouble arose for them at the time of the American Revolutionary war, so they were forced to flee from this land to Upper Canada in 1783. It was at this time that Joseph Brant graciously provided them with land, and they could start settling into their new home in Canada.

Read more.

Found: Infant Shirts (Newport Historical Society)

(Dec. 2015) As collections staff continues to unpack and rehouse artifacts after the Resource Center Renovation Project, we have been rediscovering some fascinating pieces from our costume collection. This pair of infant shirts, made with distinct printed fabrics, are said to have been worn by Mary Arnold of Newport, circa 1776. They were donated to the Society by George H. Sherman in 1923.

Both shirts are made of plain weave fabrics, held together by tiny overcast stitches, and are fully lined with a fabric that is probably linen. Both also most likely employ variations of block printing, a common means of transferring designs to fabrics during the 18th century. Printed textiles became popular with the import of block-printed cottons from India, and European imitations of Indian block-printed designs and techniques followed in large quantity.

Read more.

Region and Branch Bits

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

Grand River Branch March 21 meeting cancelled

The Saturday, March 21 Grand River AGM and General meeting in Brantford has been cancelled due to safety concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic. Zig Misiak, our guest speaker will be presenting to the Branch at the July meeting.

Sir Guy Carleton Branch April 4 meeting cancelled

Planned for an afternoon of conversation at the City of Ottawa Archives with guest speaker Stuart Manson has been cancelled until further notice.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • “…in consideration of natural love, goodwill and affection which I have and do bear my son…” says Deed from Mehetebel Jones to son Cereno Jones dated May 7, 1788, two Loyalists from Massachusetts who settled in Digby County, Nova Scotia.  Brian McConnell UE
  • Gravestone of Cereno Jones, a United Empire Loyalist, in St. Peter’s Cemetery at Weymouth North. Cereno was elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly from 1816 – 1818 representing Annapolis County (which then included Digby County)
  • The Way We Were: William Cawthra’s historic real estate deal by Mike Filey, 14 March 2020, Toronto Sun. Until bad, old Mr. COVID-19 began taking over the media some weeks ago, reports concerning real estate transactions were among the most commonly featured stories…. It was on March 19, 1852 that one of our city’s earliest settlers, William Cawthra, and a man who would go on to be described as the “John Jacob Astor of Upper Canada” (after 1867 Ontario) signed the required papers giving him the ownership of the plot of land at the northeast corner of today’s King and Bay Sts….One of Henry’s children was Grace who acquired Lot 10, which was part of the 200-acre Crown grant awarded to Joseph [Cawthra], the first of the Cawthras to settle in Upper Canada. He was a United Empire Loyalist, William’s father and as it would turn out Grace’s grandfather. Read more…
  • Loyalists in the Bahamas: stormerligefilms. Scouting Nassau for #TheGoodAmericans transformed our perspective of the legacy of the loyalists. We saw new stories in every face, at every turn, in an independent Bahamas.
  • This Week in History
  • Townsend’s
  • Clothing and Related:
  • Miscellaneous:
    • Naomi Clifford: I have updated my list of useful image databases for Long 18th Century writers and researchers. Check it out here. These resources may hold the image you are looking for. Check usage and copyrights carefully before you proceed! If you have any you would like me to add, just contact me with your suggestion.
    • In these trying times it seems only sensible to check on your supplies of protective amulets and pilgrim badges… In the Middle Ages ‘most’ of these would have been considered touch relics, often with healing powers.
    • All Things Georgian: The sad tale of the miser Mary Luhorne. Mary Manlove married Nicholas Luhorne, some seven years her senior, in 1715 at St Andrews Holborn. There’s nothing especially noteworthy about either of them on the face of it until after the death of Nicholas, a captain in the navy, when the story of Mary’s life after the loss of her husband became particularly tragic as we discovered in a book, titled Lives and anecdotes of misers. What became of Mary…?

Last Post: George John Rawlins

With sadness we announce the passing of our beloved George on January 19, 2020 at the age of 66 years. Loving husband of 34 years to Christine (nee Cowell). Son of the late Archie and Marie Rawlins. Brother of Don Rawlins (Linda), Jim Rawlins (Debbie). Predeceased by his siblings, Bill Rawlins (Linda) and Doug Rawlins. Brother-inlaw of Glenna Pepper (Bob), Tom Cowell (Wilma), Ellis Cowell (late Sandy) (Suzette) and the late Philip (Eileen), Gerald (late Shirley) and Robert Cowell (Waiva). Also survived by many nieces, nephews as well as great-nieces and nephews.

George was long time member of the Essex County Gas & Steam Engine Museum; Kingsville-Gosfield Heritage Society; ECHRS and the Bicentennial Branch, UELAC. He retired from Truax and Kimball Lumber. George enjoyed hunting, fishing and the outdoor life.

Cremation has taken place. On Saturday, March 14, 2020, the day of his 67th birthday, family and friends are invited to gather at the Holy Name of Jesus Parish (146 Talbot St. S, Essex) after 10 a.m. followed by the funeral mass at 11 a.m. Donations may be made to Erie Shores Health Foundation (Dialysis Unit) or to the Essex County Gas & Steam Engine Museum.

Kennedy Funeral Home Ltd. entrusted with the arrangements. You may send your condolences online at www.kennedyfh.com.


Where Would the Rebels Have Confined a Family with Small Children?

Recently, I’ve been trying to establish a connection to a member of Butler’s Rangers named William Newberry, who I think may be an ancestor. From online information about his life it seems he and his wife and four small children were taken captive by the Rebels at or near his home in Fort William New York. The information suggests he managed to escape but his wife and 4 small children were held in confinement in March 1779.

My question: what type of facility would be used to imprison a woman with 4 little children? Would it have been like house arrest?

…Trevor Angel