“Loyalist Trails” 2020-13: March 29, 2020

In this issue:
UELAC Conference 2020 Cancelled
Scholarship News Update – It’s Official!
Hazardous Assistance: Stories of the Loyalist Underground (Part 4 of 4), by Stephen Davidson
The Littlest Camp Followers, c1775
“Though Dwelling in a Land of Freedom”: The John Vassal Estate and a Slave Family
Borealia: Killer Advertising – How Canadians Were Sold the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic
JAR: The Revolutionary War Origin of the Whistleblower Law
JAR: The Yellow Fever Outbreak of 1793: Nine Observations and Lessons
Washington’s Quill: Henry Lee Jr.’s Partisan Corps at Paulus Hook
Now & Then: Susan and Gene Bebamash
Webinars and Videos from Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Last Post: Jean Elizabeth (nee Harris) Stewart, UE
      + The British Army and Smallpox


UELAC Conference 2020 Cancelled

Registration is now open; the registration form is available.

Hosted by Manitoba Branch Wed 24 June through Sunday 28 June.at the Delta Marriott Hotel.

Go to the conference page “Eyes on the Heart of the Continent” for all the details.

…Mary Steinhoff and Wendy Hart, UELMB2020@gmail.com

Scholarship News Update – It’s Official!

Please welcome Richard Yeomans as he joins our list of outstanding UE Scholars. This brings the total number of UELAC awarded scholarships to fourteen. Congratulations and well done! We invite our readers to visit the UELAC scholarship page where you can learn more about Richard, see his photo, and gain some insight into his PhD dissertation.

Richard continues to engage in local conversations about New Brunswick’s Loyalist past, contributing op-eds to Brunswick News Inc. and the NB Media Co-op. He has also organized a panel for the 2020/21 Atlantic Canada Studies Conference, encouraging historians to create a ‘new’ New Brunswick history, and to challenge the outdated narratives of the region and its peoples. Richard is the creator and website manager for atlanticdigitalscholarship.ca, the official website for UNB’s Atlantic Canada Studies Centre. Working under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth Mancke, Richard continues to promote a richer and more complex history of New Brunswick.

Why Not Ask A Scholar?

Perhaps after reading through the biographies of our UE Scholars you come away with more questions. Maybe the area of research piques your interest. Maybe a Loyalist family name stands out and you would like to know more. Maybe you have a question that only an academic researcher can answer. Why not drop us a line and we will gladly forward your question to our scholars and see what brilliant discussions we can ignite. We have an opportunity to draw on a great resource and I know from experience our UE Scholars look forward to meeting and interacting with UELAC members. Send your question to scholarship@uelac.org. Why not ask a scholar?

While You’re Here – Life On Hold

We appreciate that daily life as we know it has changed drastically in the past few weeks. Our best wishes go out to every branch, every member, every friend of UELAC. Most important at this time is that you and your families stay safe.

Two weeks back the scholarship committee announced a plan to launch a 2020 fundraising campaign in May. However, if scholarship support for our students is on your mind and you wish to donate now — Yes. It is possible. See how to donate and read more about the impact your donation has on UELAC Scholarship. We thank you.

…Bonnie Schepers, UE, Scholarship Chair

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

© Stephen Davidson, UE

During the American Revolution a network of Loyalists served the crown by using their homes as temporary safe houses for escaping British prisoners of war and Loyalist refugees seeking sanctuary in Canada and New York City. That “hazardous assistance” ranged from concealing individual Loyalists in secret compartments to taking food out into the woods where groups of Loyalist refugees hid from rebel patrols. A third group in need of shelter was also welcomed at points along the Loyalist “underground” — members of scouting parties who spied on Patriot troops and strongholds.

New York was a colony with a high percentage of Loyalists in its population. New York City, at the mouth of the Hudson River, was the headquarters and nerve centre for the British army throughout the revolution. Loyalists who found refuge on Manhattan Island or nearby Staten and Long Islands often returned to their former homes as members of scouting parties to gain intelligence on rebel troop movements or on the state of rebel garrisons. Knowing where they could find quick and secure shelter would have been crucial to the success of their espionage missions. A loyalist “underground” of safe houses reduced the danger of their work and would later be recalled in the transcripts of the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists (RCLSAL).

These records reveal the names of dozens of Loyalists who put their lives –and those of their families– in harm’s way to shelter spies. Those who testified in the years following the American Revolution had become refugees themselves, eventually settling in Loyalist settlements in Canada and the Maritime colonies. Here are their stories.

John Pickle was given specific instructions to stay in his Williamsburgh home and “give assistance to scouts” passing through Tryon County, a commission he fulfilled for five years. A German immigrant to New York, Pickle joined Sir John Johnson’s Second Battalion in 1780. He settled along the Bay of Quinte following the revolution.

Joseph Brant told Thomas McMeeking, a farmer on the Delaware River, to “remain in the country for the purpose of getting intelligence and supplying the British scouts with provisions”. Patriots eventually discovered what McMeeking was doing and put him in jail in Albany. McMeeking survived the revolution, and by 1788, had established a new home in Niagara.

Justice Walker’s case stands out in the testimonies of sanctuary providers in that he hid Hessians –rather than British, Loyalist, or Native spies– in the cellar of his tavern. The rebel Colonel White brought the Loyalist to trial. Walker was sentenced to be whipped, but whether he received the flogging ordered by the court is not noted.

William Shewman was another Loyalist who kept a public house. Since it was a place where travellers from out of town would commonly gather, the presence of strangers in Shewman’s tavern would not arouse undue suspicions. Its rooms and storage areas would have been ideal hiding places for scouting parties passing through Johnstown, New York.

Isabel MacLeod and her husband Malcolm “harboured and assisted” spies in New York’s Tryon County until they were forced to become refugees themselves. Malcolm died during the family’s efforts to find sanctuary in Canada, leaving a wife and six children to fend for themselves.

Some of the Loyalists who offered safe haven to scouting parties had their “hazardous assistance” summed up in all-too-brief phrases such as “used to harbour scouts”, was of “use to several persons sent on secret service”, or “assisted scouting parties”. Posterity is left to speculate what that help looked like and the dangers that it entailed. Nevertheless, the known members of the underground in New York are worthy of recognition — John Cameron (who settled in Riviere Raisin), Henry Jackson, (Oswegatchie) John Smith (Bay of Quinte), David Stuart (Sorel), Jonas Wood (New Johnston), Garton DeWitt (New Johnston), and Joseph Knapp (Oswegatchie), as well as Alexander McDonell (Lower Canada) and his son Donald.

While the specifics pertaining to the Loyalist underground for civilian fugitives may have been something that refugees shared by word of mouth, it seems likely that the safe house network for the scouting parties was far more organized. The fact that Loyalists such as John Pickle and Thomas McMeeking were told to remain in their communities and be prepared to use their homes as safe houses suggests that the British command had intentionally created a network of “harbours” to which their spies could bolt as necessity required.

While they collected intelligence in the interior of New York, the scouting parties were sure to be always mindful of one very important secret — the names of Americans who willingly provided “hazardous assistance” — the members of the Loyalist underground.

To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at stephendavids@gmail.com.

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

The Littlest Camp Followers, c1775

Susan Holloway Scott 25 March 2020

The stories told by the Museum of the American Revolution feature the familiar heroic actors like George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, but there are also many other individuals – including Native Americans, African Americans, and women – whose contributions and sacrifices have been too often overlooked, forgotten, or purposefully ignored.

Only a few inches long, this tiny earthenware lamb represents a group that was very much involved in the war, yet is seldom mentioned: the children of soldiers. Along with their mothers and soldier-fathers, these children – often born during a campaign – were a familiar feature of 18thc armies. While the term “camp followers” can conjure up images of itinerant sex workers, the reality was that the majority of the women traveling with the army were married to enlisted men. These women were often paid to do laundering and sewing for the army, and occasionally helping with the sick and wounded.

Read more.

“Though Dwelling in a Land of Freedom”: The John Vassal Estate and a Slave Family

This is an exploration of slavery and emancipation at the Cambridge estate that’s now the Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site. Read more about the John Vassal estate.

In 1759, John Vassall built a grand Georgian-style mansion along the Road to Watertown as a statement to the world of his incredible wealth. This wealth was derived from the family’s involvement in the sugar industry in Jamaica. As the sugar industry was dependent on the labor of enslaved Africans, so too was Vassall’s lifestyle. In addition to the enslaved workers on his plantations abroad, Vassall also enslaved Africans at his estate in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Unfortunately, details about these enslaved individuals and their lives during the fifteen years of Vassall’s residence are sparse. We know that in 1774, when the Vassalls evacuated their home in the face of revolutionary unrest, seven enslaved people remained: two men (Malcolm and William), two women (Cuba and Dinah), and three children (James and two unnamed “small boys”). These individuals likely served as domestic servants in the house and laborers in the orchards, garden, small farm, and stables on the estate. Such a large number of enslaved servants was extremely unusual in colonial Massachusetts. Although slavery had long existed in the colony, and would persist into the new nation, it was far more common for one or two people to be enslaved on an estate or in a household. Seven enslaved servants on a single property reflected the enormous wealth of the Vassalls.

Read more.

Borealia: Killer Advertising – How Canadians Were Sold the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic

By Kate Barker 23 March 2020

As news reports come in of scammers trying to leverage a global pandemic into profit at the expense of Canadians, it is an interesting time to examine the equivalent during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. Patent medicine companies and others in Canada plugged their products as influenza cure-alls in advertisements that were ubiquitous in Canadian newspapers and periodicals. Some ads were sophisticated pitches masquerading as news, while others were crudely fashioned. Advertisers relied on tropes of modernity, motherhood, and fear to entice women to spend money to protect their families from influenza. During the pandemic, the presence of these ads, in concert with the draconian strictures on press freedom imposed by the War Measures Act (WMA) and press obeisance to that Act, meant that some of the most prominent published messages Canadians received about influenza were entirely fictitious.

Before analysing the content of advertisements, it is first necessary to briefly consider the role censorship played in Canada in 1918. The Canadian press was robust with six daily newspapers in Toronto alone and 120 dailies across the country by 1900.[1] The War Measures Act (WMA) came into effect a few weeks after the British declaration of war on Germany and was made retroactive to the beginning of hostilities. Under the strictures of the act, 253 publications were ultimately banned—many of them labour oriented and foreign-language titles.

This censorship significantly muted coverage of influenza in Canada as well.

Read more.

JAR: The Revolutionary War Origin of the Whistleblower Law

By Louis Arthur Norton 24 March 2020

The so called “whistleblower law” had a salty source. It did not emanate from the shrill sound of a boatswain’s pipe, but rather a Revolutionary War naval episode. Its origin can be traced to the Continental Congress’s 1775 appointment of Esek Hopkins, formerly a merchantman and privateer, as commander-in-chief of the Continental Navy. As a naval commodore, he formed and led a fleet of eight small merchant ships that had been reconfigured into warships: the Alfred, Andrea Doria, Cabot, Columbus, Providence, Hornet, and Wasp. Hopkins sailed his task force south on February 17, 1776 to New Providence (Nassau) in the Bahamas whose fort was deemed vulnerable and poorly guarded. The commodore planned to capture the fort to furnish badly needed arms, gunpowder and other supplies for the Continental Army and, at the same time, as a show the force of the nascent Continental Navy.

The Hopkins raid on New Providence took place on March 3. It was the first amphibious landing of American marines and sailors that successfully captured munitions. “The town & fort surrendered to us with the ships & vessels in the harbor, without making any resistance we secured all the cannon, Morter shells etc., that was there and left the island. On return we had bad weather.”[3] The diminutive fleet returned to New London, Connecticut on April 8 and, during their return trip, made prizes of two British merchantmen and a six-gun schooner.

Read more.

JAR: The Yellow Fever Outbreak of 1793: Nine Observations and Lessons

by Brian Patrick O’Malley 26 March 2020

“I often thought that the situation of a people in a bombarded city, was not much worse, and on some accounts not so bad; we had no respite night nor day.” Writing to a friend in his native Massachusetts, newspaper publisher John Fenno was trying to convey the effect of the 1793 yellow fever outbreak on Philadelphia. “Such a scene was never before realized in this country; and may GOD of his infinite mercy, preserve us from experiencing any thing similar.”

Fenno founded the Federalist newspaper Gazette of the United States in New York City in 1789, and when the federal government moved to Philadelphia in 1790, he relocated there with his paper. Another publisher and Philadelphia resident, Mathew Carey, a native of Dublin, Ireland, wrote a pamphlet detailing the yellow fever epidemic called, A Short Account of the Malignant Fever.

In response Carey’s claim in his pamphlet that black nurses charged exorbitant rates, Methodist ministers Rev. Richard Allen, later founder (1816) of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, and Rev. Absalom Jones cowrote an account of Philadelphia’s African Americans during the epidemic. Beckoning to the city’s desperate call for help, Jones and Allen accepted the work of burial detail and hired five men to assist the effort. Carey later revised his work to include the important role of African Americans during the crisis…

Despite Fenno’s hopes that America in the future would be spared from anything like Philadelphia’s yellow fever outbreak, particular incidents might remind Americans of the initial public reaction to the 1980s AIDS crisis or the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak. Here are nine important observations on the 1793 outbreak, some of which may ring familiar today.

Read more.

Washington’s Quill: Henry Lee Jr.’s Partisan Corps at Paulus Hook

By Benjamin Huggins 27 March 2020

In July 1779, Gen. George Washington, desiring to launch an offensive to counter British attacks on Connecticut sea coast towns, ordered Maj. Gen. Anthony Wayne to attack the British outpost at Stony Point, New York on the Hudson River with his light infantry corps. Wayne’s surprise attack succeeded brilliantly.

Washington followed the attack on Stony Point with a strike on the British outpost at Paulus Hook, New Jersey. This offensive, though smaller than the thrust against Stony Point, was particularly bold because Paulus Hook lies directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan Island, where the British maintained more than half a dozen regiments in garrison. The objective was not to seize the post, which the Americans could not hope to hold, but to embarrass the British by capturing the garrison.

Read more.

Now & Then: Susan and Gene Bebamash

The Bebamash family has much to share. A strong love for the past is evident by their compelling stories and authentic documents, both of which have true nostalgic and historic worth. The couple lives in a picturesque part of M’Chigeeng and despite retirement, both continue to share their collective expertise with the community and various local organizations. Gene started as a fishing guide and moved into the construction field, working on the M’Chigeeng water system, the new church (when it was built after the old church burned) and the new administrative offices. Later he shared ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) history with the Anishnabek youth of Ontario. Susan loved to teach and spent her career in M’Chigeeng, inspiring young minds.

“Our history goes back eight generations,” Susan begins. “Dad’s early ancestor, John Doane, a deacon, born in 1590, came over to Plymouth Rock about three years after the Mayflower arrived. Much later, at the time of the American Revolution, my paternal ancestor Aaron and his fellow United Empire Loyalists were captured and many died. Aaron was about to be hung when his wife arrived to plead for her husband’s life. She succeeded and he was released.”

Read more.

Webinars and Videos from Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum

See the History is Fun – At Home! page for a number of resources.

  • Live Webcasts: Connect with educators for FREE mini history lessons streaming live online from our museums on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Video Library: View videos on a variety of topics exploring the people and events of early Virginia. Check out recordings about the American Revolution and Explore museum special exhibitions past and present.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Impressive Gravestone of Loyalist Stephen Jones (1754 – 1830), born in Weston, Mass., in St. Peter’s Cemetery at Weymouth North, Digby County, Nova Scotia
  • This Week in History
    • 22 Mar 1765 Parliament passes Stamp Act, initiating violent American protests that eventually lead to Revolution.
    • 24 Mar 1765 Parliament passes Quartering Act; when US Constitution framed, 3rd Amendment resulted from this Act.
    • 28 Mar 1768, the Customs Commissioners complained from Boston “that the Governor and Magistracy have not the least Authority or power in his place, that the Mob are ready to be assembled on any Occasion…”
    •  25 March 1769, Massachusetts attorney general Jonathan Sewall formally withdrew the Crown’s suit against John Hancock for smuggling wine in the ship Liberty. The Customs service had confiscated the sloop in June 1768, setting off a riot.
    • 26 Mar 1770 Paul Revere releases for sale his famous print depicting the Boston Massacre. As a piece of propaganda, The Bloody Massacre was designed to elevate a tragic incident into a politically motivated calamity and agitate the colonists’ negative view of the British occupation of Boston. Read more…
    • 27 Mar 1770 A Boston grand jury indicts Captain Preston, eight enlisted soldiers, and four civilians for murder in connection for what became known as the Boston Massacre.
    • 25 Mar 1774 Parliament orders closure of port of Boston in retribution for the Boston Tea Party.
    • 23 Mar 1775 Patrick Henry gives speech with famous phrase, “Give me liberty or give me death!
    • 27 Mar 1775 Thomas Jefferson elected to represent Virginia to the Continental Congress.
    • 24 Mar 1776, Gen. George Washington instructed his quartermaster general, Thomas Mifflin, to move north in order to set up the Continental Army’s new base in New York
    • 25 Mar 1776 Battle of Saint-Pierre, Canada. A battered American force recently defeated at the Battle of Quebec and under the command of Benedict Arnold, attacked the British hq Blais house & took it.  Part of the continuing Siege of Quebec.
    • 26 Mar 1776 The South-Carolina Provincial Congress adopts a new constitution & government.
    • 27 Mar 1776, the bulk of the British evacuation fleet hovering in off shore Massachusetts Bay finally sailed toward Halifax, Nova Scotia. A few warships remained to harass American shipping.
    • 21 Mar 1778 British forces massacre Continentals at Hancock’s Bridge, NJ, bayonetting them in their sleep.
  • Townsend’s
  • Clothing and Related:
    • Are These Eliza Hamilton’s Embroidery Designs? The letter was written by General Philip Schuyler to his daughter Eliza Schuyler Hamilton in September, 1799, typically filled with news of the family, friends, and acquaintances. The letter was important enough to Eliza that she kept it – and yet at some point she apparently used the back of the letter for some random sketching. The letter was important enough to Eliza that she kept it – and yet she used the back of the letter for some random sketching –   little leaves and fruits. My guess is that they’re not simply random, idle drawings, but sketches for needlework. Read more…
    • An Elegant Woman’s Jacket, c1780, to be Worn by My Next Heroine. I take care with dressing characters in my books to be not only historically accurate, but also to reflect their personality, financial means, and social status. The jacket was made from an extravagantly patterned textile that was imported from India to Europe, and there first stitched into a garment around c1750 and later remodeled. Read more…
    • 18th Century dress, robe à la Française and quilted petticoat, 1750-1770
    • 18th Century court dress, detail showing the bodice intricately decorated with a floral pattern made with flattened wire and lacework c.1750
    • 18th Century stomacher, front portion that attaches and closes an open gown, silk with metal thread embroidery, 1750-1775
    • Overdress of a woman’s morning robe à l’anglaise, 1783, chintz and mordant dyed, indigo blue with red and pink carnations, paired with tiny borage and periwinkle flowers. It was ordered in London for the trousseau of Mary Winifred Pulleine for her marriage in 1783.
    • 1791 wedding dress. Yes, this is a wedding dress! The mini-corset on the outside makes this look more like a Renaissance movie costume than an actual historical garment. Has anyone else seen examples like this?
    • Detail of 18th Century sample pattern for embroidered design of flowers and peacock feathers for a man’s frock coat
    • Rear view of 18th Century men’s Court coat, rich green velvet with silk embroidered flowers & foliage, French, c.1790
    • Detail of 18th Century men’s frock coat, 1770-1779
  • Miscellaneous:
    • Rewards of Merit: Rewards of Merit (ROMs) have been part of the American educational system for more than 300 years. Learn more about ephemera at the Ephemera Society of America.
    • In today’s accidental #CharlesDickens find, according to the report of The Daily Comet on March 22, 1854, the writer got scolded for skipping jury duty.
    • This year 2020 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower at Plymouth MA. Announcing the Plymouth 400 Postal Artwork Contest where artists and aspiring artists alike have the opportunity to develop the Official 2020 Commemorative Cachets – see details.
    • Ten editions of ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica‘, issued from 1768-1903, in 231 volumes. Originally issued in 100 weekly parts (3 volumes) between 1768 and 1771 by publishers: Colin Macfarquhar and Andrew Bell (Edinburgh); editor: William Smellie: engraver: Andrew Bell. Expanded editions in the 19th century featured more volumes and contributions from leading experts in their fields. Managed and published in Edinburgh up to the 9th edition (25 volumes, from 1875-1889); the 10th edition (1902-1903) re-issued the 9th edition, with 11 supplementary volumes. See here more details and the first three volumes, page by page.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

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

  • Nicholas Peterson, Jr. – by Roger Peterson, UE
  • Christian Warner – by Jo Ann Tuskin

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

Last Post

Jean Elizabeth (nee Harris) Stewart, UE

Passed away peacefully on March 19, 2020 at Extendicare Southwood Lakes at the age of 96. She is now reunited with her late husband Roderick (1994). Cherished mother of David (Christeen), Doug (Maureen) and Mark. Proud and loving grandmother of Allan (Jennifer), Cameron (Christa), Jennifer (Matthew) Mills, Christie (Eric) VandenBrink, Melissa (fiancée Jason Sadler) and Mindy (Dave) Comartin. Proud and loving great-grandmother of Delaney, River, Abby, Izzy, Hudson and Hannah. Dear sister of Don Harris. Predeceased by her sister Nina. She will also be missed by friends, extended family and her beloved cats, Frankie and Sammy.

Jean was a member of St. Aidan’s Community Church and also their B-Group, The United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada- Bicentennial Branch and the Greater Windsor Horticultural Society. Jean spent many years researching and documenting family history.

Thank you to all at Extendicare Southwood Lakes for their loving and compassionate care of Jean during her stay there. Donations in her memory may be made to the Alzheimer Society Windsor & Essex County. Respectfully, with the health and safety of all our loved ones and friends in mind, we are having a private family service and will hold a memorial service to celebrate her life with family and friends at a later date. Arrangements are entrusted to Walter D. Kelly Life Celebration (519-252-5711). Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.walterdkellyfuneralhome.com.

Jean proved her descent from Loyalist Robert Dowler UEL and received her Loyalist in June 2005 as a member of Bicentennial Branch UELAC.


The British Army and Smallpox

With all this talk of infectious disease lately, I’ve been thinking about smallpox during the Revolutionary War. I’ve read a lot about Washington and his battle with the disease, and his eventually order to inoculate the whole army.

From all my reading of history of the Loyalists during the war, I don’t recall any mention of the disease, which must have affected the British men as much as the Americans?

How was smallpox dealt with in the British Army?

…William D Romanski, Rhode Island