“Loyalist Trails” 2020-20: May 17, 2020

In this issue:
The Refugee Doctors of Fredericton, New Brunswick (Part 1), by Stephen Davidson
The History Of Upper And Lower Canada
1832 Cholera Chronicle (Part 5), by Chris Raible
Loyalist Jews During the American Revolution: The Loyalist Diaspora (Part 3)
Borealia: Women Also Know Revolution (Part 2)
JAR: Casimir Pulaski and the Threat to the Upper Delaware River Valley
JAR: Thomas Jefferson and the Public Benefits of Epidemics
The Junto: Early American Women Unmasked
Book: Fort Plain, Fork Plank, Fort Rensselaer: The Revolutionary War Forts of Canajohary
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
      + Saint John NB To Mark 235th Birthday Virtually
      + Award for Carol Harding UE, Nova Scotia Branch
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Last Post
      + Norma Jean (Smith) Coleman, UE
      + Amy Frances (Mallett) Forsyth
      + Query and Comments About Fort Churchill
      + Three Generations of Moses Rolfe Leads to Confusing Dates


The Refugee Doctors of Fredericton, New Brunswick (Part 1)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

The Loyalists of the American Revolution can lay claim to a number of “firsts” in the history of the continent. In the case of New Brunswick, a colony created just a year after the war, all if its first doctors were refugees. Twenty of the medical professionals known to have set up practice in the colony were initially based in Saint John. Over time, four settled in the Fredericton area.

Anyone looking at a map of New Brunswick might wonder how Fredericton came to the capital of the Loyalist colony. American port cities such as Charleston, New York, and Boston were prosperous metropolises. Why wouldn’t the loyal Americans who settled New Brunswick select Saint John as their capital? After all, it was the gateway to the colony’s interior, it stood guard over the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, and it had the largest population in the colony.

It may come as no surprise that the decision was made by a committee. Thomas Carleton, New Brunswick’s first lieutenant governor, appointed three consultants from a variety of backgrounds to help him select a site for a capital. Thomas Knox, an army muster master, Jonathan Odell, an Anglican minister from New Jersey, and William Hazen, a New England settler who predated the Loyalists, travelled with Carleton along the St. John River in November of 1784. They decided to establish the new colony’s capital at Ste. Anne’s Point, the sight of an old Acadian village that was 60 miles inland from the Bay of Fundy.

They had several reasons for their choice. It would not be as easily attacked as Parrtown (Saint John) had been in 1776 when rebel raiders destroyed its garrison. A number of loyalist regiments had settled in the Ste. Anne’s area, so these veterans could readily be called upon to defend the capital if enemy forces were ever to threaten it. The interior location would also help to encourage settlement within the colony rather than just along its Fundy coast. Finally, historian David Bell points out that in the 18th century, a port city such as Saint John was not considered to be especially virtuous, filled as it tended to be with taverns and houses of ill repute.

On February 22, 1785, the governor in council ordered that immediate steps be taken to establish the new settlement, naming it “Frederic’s Town” in honour of the second son of King George III. By the following year, the government and the colony’s supreme court had relocated to Fredericton. This influx of civil servants would only have widened the client base for the Loyalist doctors who had already established homes in the area.

Before the outbreak of the American Revolution, Dr. Nehemiah Clarke had seen to the medical needs of the people of Hartford, Connecticut. His brother Joseph, also a physician, lived in nearby Stratford, Connecticut.

Both Clarkes were Loyalists and volunteered their services in regiments that fought the rebel forces. Joseph enlisted in the Prince of Wales Regiment and served as a surgeon at Fort Franklin on Long Island. Like many of the refugees he would have helped at Lloyd’s Neck, Joseph Clarke found sanctuary in New Brunswick following the war. By 1787, he, his wife, their ten children and four servants had made Maugerville their new home.

When Nehemiah Clarke “declared his sentiments in favour of the British government”, he became “obnoxious” to his Patriot neighbours. He would later relate how he was “insulted & treated by a mob with great cruelty so that his Life was in Danger. He was attended by a Physician, who thought him in great Danger. He made his escape at last with Difficulty.”

Nehemiah sailed across Long Island Sound to the safety of the British lines in December of 1776. Eight months later, he was appointed as the surgeon to Emmerick’s Chasseurs and Dragoons, a loyalist regiment. After the Treaty of Paris came into effect, Clarke and his family sailed for New Brunswick in September of 1783. Although he initially drew a land lot on the north side of Saint John’s King Square, Nehemiah relocated his family to the village of Douglas in 1784. There, they settled on a 900-acre grant located just up the St. John River from Fredericton.

When the Clarkes left Saint John, they tried to sell their home. The advertisement for their house, which would only have been built in 1783, gives us an interesting insight into the size of a Loyalist refugee’s home. It consisted of “two rooms and a kitchen on the ground floor, and one room above. The lot has a well of good water, and a cellar.” It must have been quite small compared to the home they had enjoyed back in Hartford, Connecticut.

When the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists convened in Saint John in 1787, 48 year-old Nehemiah submitted a claim for his property that had been confiscated by Connecticut rebels during the revolution. An army chaplain, another Loyalist doctor and his brother Joseph, all spoke on his behalf, but it is not known how much compensation he received.

Nehemiah Clarke’s name once again appeared in a newspaper in 1794 when he tried to help friends in Connecticut discover the whereabouts of their Loyalist son and his wife. Benjamin Morrison’s parents wondered what happened to him after he left Hartford with his family to find sanctuary in New York City during the revolution. (No records of such a Loyalist have been discovered, so it would seem Nehemiah’s quest was unsuccessful.)

As for Dr. Clarke’s family, newspaper notices provide the names of just two of their children. The Clarkes’ second daughter was Mary Almira. Born in 1770; she married Ross Currie, a Loyalist lawyer from Pennsylvania, when she was 18. The couple then settled in Fredericton. Currie drowned on September 1, 1790 leaving Mary to raise their two-year old son on her own. She died at age 57 in 1827.

Ann Clarke was born in 1777. She married Captain James Eccles, a man 21 years her senior, in 1827. She was 50 years old at the time. Ann died six years later. Eccles died at the age of 83 in 1839. Born in Ireland, he was remembered as being a member of the 2nd Royal Veteran Battalion and as having served his government faithfully for upwards of 27 years.

After 42 years as a Loyalist settler of New Brunswick, Dr. Nehemiah Clarke died on April 25, 1825 at the age of 86.

Dr. Nicholas Humphries is another Loyalist doctor who is known to have settled near Fredericton. During the American Revolution, Humphries had been a surgeon with the New York Volunteers. Born in Ireland, he had lived for a time in Pennsylvania before joining the Loyalist regiment in 1776. Thanks to entries in the Book of Negroes, we know that Humphries set sail for what is now Saint John on September 18, 1783 aboard the Two Sisters. He is noted as having escorted a young Black woman, her infant daughter, and a 16 year-old boy.

Humphries and his family settled on Sugar Island on the St. John River about 16 km above Fredericton. The rest of the Loyalist doctor’s life and career are not noted again in the era’s public records until his death on February 17, 1822 was reported in the City Gazette. His son Thomas Humphries administered his estate.

The two-part series on Fredericton’s refugee doctors will conclude in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

The History Of Upper And Lower Canada

By Heather Wilson, last updated 11 May 2020

Upper Canada was located nearest the source of the St. Lawrence, “upriver”. In contrast, Lower Canada was closest to the source of the St. Lawrence, “downriver”.

Upper and Lower Canada were formed by the Constitutional Act of 1791 in response to the wave of United Empire Loyalists moving north from the United States into the French-speaking province of Quebec following the American Revolution (1765-1783). The result was the division of the old Province of Quebec into two colonies, Lower Canada to the east and Upper Canada to the West, each with their provincial legislatures. While Lower Canada retained the seigneurial system, language, and religious institutions of Quebec, Upper Canada developed on a model of British society.

In the wake of the American Revolution, United Empire Loyalists fled northwards to the Province of Quebec, followed by other English-speaking settlers. By 1790 the influx of new settlers numbered about 10,000. The territories they settled were already occupied by Indigenous peoples, including the Wendat, Tionontatehronnon, and Algonquin. The Loyalists, guided by Sir Frederick Haldimand, settled primarily along the St. Lawrence River in the area of Kingston, along the shores of Lake Ontario by the Bay of Quinte, and around the Niagara Peninsula. While Quebec had been established as a British colony with the Treaty of Paris (1763) and the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the majority of the population remained French-speaking. The English settlers, however, brought with them their own political and religious ideals, and tensions soon arose between the two groups. One key issue was that of land ownership. The Province of Quebec had established a seigneurial system that awarded parcels of land to nobles and religious communities, who then allotted pieces of the land to tenants in return for farming the land. Used to the freedoms they had held in the Thirteen Colonies, the new settlers wanted instead to own their lands in their own right. Similarly, they pushed for representative government, a British system of parliament, and British civil law. Religion was another point of tension. While the Roman Catholic Church was the established Church in Quebec, the new settlers looked to establish their Protestant Church.

Read more.

1832 Cholera Chronicle (Part 5), by Chris Raible

By Chris Raible

Lesslie tried to go about his business. On Tuesday, July 24, he attended a Young Men’s Society meeting, but few others were there. Thursday, July 25th: “The prevailing disease the topic of conversation everywhere – it spreads around.” Sunday’s sermon was on Ecclesiastes “Better to go to the House of mourning than to the House of feasting.”

From the beginning the Board of Health had tried to isolate the dying from the rest to the population. It strongly recommended (it had no power to enforce its strictures) that inhabitants “permit those sick of cholera to be removed to the cholera hospital, especially in those cases when the means of friends cannot provide them at home with lodging, airy and wholesome, or with medical attention.”

Not surprisingly, however, inhabitants of York were reluctant to have family members suffering with cholera taken to the hospital. Such a removal was seen as an abandoning of hope. Many who got the disease recovered, but half of those who died, died at the hospital. It was hardly to be considered a beneficial environment. Even the Board, in urging quick burying of cholera victims, had observed, “it is the opinion of the professional gentlemen that infection is more certain immediately after death.”

Clergymen in town tried to minister to those sick in hospital. Archdeacon John Strachan, in a letter to the Archbishop of Dublin, described conditions: “This terrible dispensation came among us like a thunderbolt and brought with it increased & heart rendering duties…. Often have I been in the Cholera Hospital with six & even eight persons expiring around me but blessed by God I felt no apprehension & by my example arrested much of the alarm which was fast spreading… Everything was done that we possibly could & I am confident that many were cheered & consoled and restored to health by my ministrations.”

Lesslie also maintained his religious convictions, despite the daily reports. He believed God’s will was being done: “This day Mrs. Knott (wife to B Knott the Chandler) is laid in the Dust – last afternoon or evening it is said was engaging the society of some friends – took the Cholera in the evening & in a few hours quitted this world! Were our minds uncorrupted would not every solemn incident of this kind speak to the heart of all with power & with a blessed influence? – It is from him who opens the blind eyes and unstops the deaf ears that this can come.”

By the first of August, the town was near panic. “This day the mortality by Cholera truly alarming there being 40 new cases & report says from 14 to 24 deaths! – Mr. Bell the Chandler cut off in 2 or 3 Hours – Mr. Bell the Tavern Keeper also among the victims – O that ‘all were truly wise to consider their latter end!'”

The next day was no better. “The pestilence raging still to a fearful extent – B. McMurray the merch’t taken ill last night or rather about 1 or 2 in the morning & dies in the afternoon.” Yet Lesslie kept his Christian compassion: “Met a poor woman on the street… crying bitterly – on enquiry found that she had come in from the Country with her husband to buy some necessaries & was now sorrowing over his departure to another world!” The diarist continued, “These scenes and the numbers clad in sable garments of mourning – spread a gloom & sadness around – may it be a salutary gloom! – a prelude to a morning of righteousness & peace.”

Attempting to bring some relief, doctors resorted to strange new practices. With its excessive nausea and diarrhea, cholera dehydrates its victims. In modern treatment, intravenous feeding is standard practice, but injection was a radical notion in 1832. In late July Lesslie had reported, “old Jordan Post very ill of Cholera – his Physicians preparing that singular yet efficacious remedy resorted to in extreme cases in Scotland – viz injecting an artificial serum to the Blood into the veins!” Again, early in August: “This morning Mr. Fairbanks son is taken ill with Cholera & was in the afternoon said to be in a most dangerous state. The very singular remedy in dangerous cases viz transfusing artificial serum into the veins adopted & with some hopes of success.” Two days later, an addendum: “after 2 or 3 injections he was delivered from the disease & now labours under the fever which succeed the Cholera generally.” How many others were injected is not known, but it apparently did not become common treatment.

Sabbath, August 5th: “The solemnity of the present period forms a subject of almost every public discourse – 14 persons buried today! & among these Mr Baty… to whom I spoke but yesterday about noon in apparent ordinary health!!” Monday: “The Town almost quite deserted… the terror of the Cholera seems to have spread everwhere [sic] around us.”

And then again a ray of hope, on Tuesday, August 7th: “The pestilence rather on the decrease by the last 24 hours Report – Quebec (it is said now happily delivered from its terrific scourge.” Wednesday: “No alarming reports about the Cholera today.” But the pain and suffering had not subsided – and no one was safe. “Mr Giran dies and is buried today. – He was a sober, temperate good man – and I hope has made a happy change in his entrance upon an eternal world from all corruption sin & sorrow – He was for many years a faithfull servant in the Govern’t House & latterly also a keeper of the Hospital.” “One of my scholars – W. Emery – a fine youth about 8 years old was at school last Sabbath as well as usual but now is in the dust! – a victim of the prevailing epidemic.”

(Continued next week)

Loyalist Jews During the American Revolution: The Loyalist Diaspora (Part 3)

By Stephen Davidson, UE; Stuart Manson, UE; and Stephen McDonald, UE

Let’s look at the interesting life of one Barrak (Baruch) Hays, a Loyalist Jew who fled New York City in the spring of 1783 to Montréal, where he was reunited with his brother Andrew – a member of the city’s resident Loyalist community.

His father, Solomon Hays had emigrated from the Netherlands to the colony of New York in the 1720s. Solomon ran a mercantile business – he and his wife Gitlah became prominent members of New York City’s Jewish community. Their eldest son, Barrak followed in his father’s footsteps, establishing a business based in both New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Andrew, a younger son, decided to take advantage of new business opportunities in Montréal when New France became part of an expanded British Empire. He settled there sometime after 1769 and became involved in the city’s thriving fur trade.

Because the colonial Jewish businessmen had a record of providing the British forces with needed provisions during the Seven Years War, they once again became suppliers with the outbreak of the revolution. Some sold military provisions to the British troops and German mercenaries in Canada as early as 1775 while others did the same within the rebellious colonies following the British occupation of New York City in August of 1776. Barrak Hays was one of those businessmen or – as he later described himself – an “auctioneer in the city of New York”.

Some historians claim that Hays initially sided with the Patriots and served as a member of a local militia (giving him the rank of lieutenant). They are clearly unaware that Hays had taken a strong Loyalist stance by October (and again in November) of 1776 when he and 500 other New Yorkers signed their names to a petition to the British for “restoring peace in His Majesty’s colonies”. Hays and other leading members of the Jewish community said that they opposed the “unprovoked rebellion” even though it was at “the risk of our lives and fortunes”.

Hays not only sided with the Crown in the opening months of the American Revolution, he also came to the aid of his synagogue when he learned that the British had plans to turn it into a military hospital. The historian N. Taylor Phillips notes that Hays was one of three men who “prevailed on the British not {TO} do with the synagogue as they had with most of the other churches in the city. They had turned them into hospitals, riding academies, barracks and things of that kind.”

However, the synagogue did not escape vandalism. British soldiers broke into it, destroyed some of the furnishings, and damaged the Torah and other holy writings. This incident prompted Barrak Hays to place an advertisement in Rivington’s Royal Gazette in which he offered a reward of five guineas for the “return of two sets of Hebrew parchment rolls taken out of the synagogue” on September 10, 1782.

To its credit, the British army publicly whipped the vandals who desecrated the synagogue. Centuries later, the holy books that had been damaged by the soldiers still bear the “marks of desecration”.

In addition to his business connections with the British army, Hays was employed as an “officer of guides”, receiving five shillings a day for his services. This position may have drawn UPON Hays’ knowledge of trade routes and business contacts within the rebelling colonies, a resource that would be invaluable to British officers in their pursuit of rebel forces in unfamiliar terrain. Hays fulfilled this role up until June of 1783.

Hays sensed the inevitable victory of the Patriots so in August 1782, he posted an advertisement in New York’s Loyalist newspaper saying that he planned to sail for Europe and wanted to “settle accounts and dispose of his wares”.

However, he didn’t go to Europe in 1782, BUT decided to go to Montréal INSTEAD. In April 1783, Hays wrote to Sir Guy Carleton, the British commander-in-chief, asking for assistance in leaving New York City. He had “with others” purchased “a small vessel to go to Quebec” although he did not know “what line of business there to pursue”. Hays needed six months of back pay as “an extra guide” to help finance his flight to safety. He also hoped that Carleton would write him a recommendation to Frederick Haldimand, the Governor of Canada.

Four months later, Hays was in Montréal where he wrote directly to Haldimand to outline his situation. The Jewish merchant recounted his “loyalty to the best of sovereigns” and how he “was obliged to leave New York and retire to some place where he might remain in quietness with his family”. Although he did not give a precise number, Hays described himself as “having a very large family to support” and hoped that the governor could either continue to pay him as an officer of guides or give him an appointment in Montreal. If a government position was unavailable, Hays asked Haldimand to “grant him a commission as an auctioneer in the city of Montreal”.

Unfortunately, we do not know how Haldimand responded to Barrak Hays’ request. But we do know that Hays stayed in Canada for at least a decade and that his brother Andrew was near at hand.

Upon his arrival in Montreal sometime after 1769, Andrew Hays joined the local Jewish congregation, becoming one of its leading members. In 1777, Montreal’s Jews felt they were able to build and support a synagogue, Shearith Israel Congregation – the first in Canada.

By the time that Barrak arrived in Montreal, Andrew and his wife Abigail were able to provide Barrak and family with both a place to stay and a synagogue in which to worship. Montreal’s Jewish community – which now included Loyalist refugees as well as those who remained loyal throughout the revolution – was made up of businessmen, fur traders, and army personnel. It is estimated that 10% of Montreal’s merchants were Jewish. Most were Sephardim, having left Spain and Portugal to settle in North America and were designated as “Sephardim” by other Jews. Andrew Hays’ son, Moses Judah Hays, would later become a municipal leader, serving as Montreal’s chief commissioner of police and organizing the city’s first water-works.

Details about the lives of the Loyalists, Barrak and Andrew Hays, begin to peter out after the massive refugee resettlement that followed in the wake of the American Revolution. The fate of Barrak Hays, is uncertain. Described by one historian as a “stormy and controversial” man, Hays may only have stayed in Montreal for a decade before moving on to other opportunities. A list of 113 members of a Masonic Lodge in Newport, Rhode Island “previous to the 24th of June, 1791” includes Barrak Hays’ name. Given that there was a large Jewish community in Rhode Island and that Hays once had a business in Newport, did the Loyalist move there in the hope of establishing a new life in a more promising economic climate?

A number of genealogies for the Hays family make reference to the death of a Baruch Hays in the West Indies on April 13, 1845. This British colony had a fairly large community of Jewish businessmen, so – once again – it would make sense for the New York Loyalist to have settled in the West Indies.

It may well be that Barrak Hays moved from New York to Montreal to Rhode Island and then to the West Indies before the conclusion of a tumultuous life.

NOTE: You can read this entire series as a single document, as originally contributed, thanks to Stephen Davidson, UE; Stuart Manson, UE; and Stephen McDonald, UE.

Borealia: Women Also Know Loyalists (Part 2)

Borealia: How did all of you – American scholars trained in American universities – come to study American loyalists? After all, many of the scholars who look at the loyalists are trained in Canadian universities and teach at Canadian universities.

Kacy Tillman: By accident! I was at the Massachusetts Historical Society researching patriot women’s letters when one of the archivists put a box on my desk that I didn’t request. It included the story of Margaret Mascarene Hutchinson, who fled to Canada in the middle of the night, forced to flee Boston because of her loyalism. She tells this harrowing tale of what it was like to lose everything, instantly, and of the suffering she endured on her journey, but most importantly, she framed the exile as baffling. She hadn’t done anything overtly political; she was merely affiliated with male loyalists, and she wondered why her entire family had to suffer for the ideologies of a few. This made me think about the ways in which women framed their own political identities and had those identities framed for them, and I realized that most of the research I’d read only represented the patriot perspective. I wanted to address that blindspot in Stripped and Script.

Rebecca Brannon: I love a good underdog. I also have a high tolerance for reading the interesting ravings of people who are already depressed and miserable. (Kidding.) Actually, I was reading works on political violence and popular protest and found a footnote that suggested that even though everybody already knew that a majority of loyalists from the Carolina backcountry stayed in the United States after the war, it did not matter because they moved west. I had already learned in graduate school that when people said, “Everyone knows that…”, I probably did not know what was coming next. The idea that the majority of loyalists actually lost a civil war and then got to stay was new to me. I was pretty sure everyone did not actually know this. Nothing in the histories of the American Revolution I had read to date took this into account. If the loyalists stayed and helped build the United States, then the American Revolution was clearly not what we thought. The seeds for From Revolution to Reunion were sown at that moment.

Lauren Duval: I also came to the loyalists somewhat sideways. My forthcoming book explores the domestic lives of American civilians in cities under British military rule. Because I focus on British-occupied cities, there were, by default, many loyalists among the civilian population (as well as patriots and disaffected civilians). My interest in British occupation was sparked by the Meschianza, a fanciful ball hosted by British officers in Philadelphia in 1778 to celebrate General Howe’s retirement. It was extravagant; British officers dressed as medieval French knights, each fighting for an American woman dressed in Turkish attire. But what really intrigued me was that, overwhelmingly, most of what had been written about the British army’s time in Philadelphia centered on this one event – but it happened at the very end of the British occupation; the British had been in the city for eight months prior to the ball. I wanted to know more about this period: what were the relationships between soldiers and the city’s primarily-female civilians? What was it like for civilians to encounter the war in their homes and streets? To suddenly have their lives and homes transformed by the presence of the British army? The desire to understand this personal, domestic experience of war formed the core of my dissertation, and now book project.

Read more (this post illustrates an ongoing and deepening interpretation of the Rev. War as a civil war).

JAR: Casimir Pulaski and the Threat to the Upper Delaware River Valley

by Joseph E. Wroblewski 13 May 2020

If January and February 1778 was Brig. Gen. Casimir Pulaski’s “Winter of his Discontent,” then October through December 1778 was his “Autumn of Despair.” Following what has been called the “Massacre of the Pulaski Legion” at Egg Harbor, New Jersey, on October 15, 1778, the Legion returned to Trenton, awaiting orders. On October 26, Pulaski sent a letter to Congress requesting that his Legion be sent to Kingsbridge, New York, where they would act as a “flying corps” that, “might take possession of that post and perform some advantageous enterprise. If I was destined for that purpose and sent that way I would neglect no means and seize the first opportunity of undertaking something favorable for this purpose.”

Rather than approval, Pulaski received the following order from the Continental Congress: “Resolved: that Count Pulaski’s Legion and all the cavalry at or near Trenton, be ordered, forthwith, to repair to Sussex Court house, there to wait the orders of General Washington.” Pulaski was sent there so that his Legion could provide protection for the inhabitants of the Upper Delaware River Valley, an area known as the “Minisinks.”

The part of the Minisink that Pulaski was sent to was located in New Jersey, the northwestern section of the state that was referred to as its “frontier.”

The reason for Pulaski’s posting to the Minisink was due to bloody incursions by the Tories and their Iroquois allies during 1778. In July, Col. John Butler led an attack on the Wyoming Valley (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) on the Susquehanna River about fifty miles west of the Delaware. Then in October 1778, Col. Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea) with a party of Mohawk, Seneca, and Loyalist rangers, attacked and burned Cole’s Fort at Mackhachameck and the surrounding area.

What can we glean from these correspondences between Pulaski and Washington and with Henry Laurens?

Read more.

JAR: Thomas Jefferson and the Public Benefits of Epidemics

By Geoff Smock, 14 May 2020

An epidemic that violently attacks public health – that sickens and takes lives; that cripples our economy; that forces us into our homes; that turns cities into ghost towns – may be unprecedented to the present generation of Americans, but was as commonplace to the Revolutionary generation as was revolution itself. The War of Independence, Shays’ Rebellion, the French Revolution, the “revolution of 1800,” Yellow Fever outbreaks – be it socio-political or pathogenic disruption, that cohort had seen it all.

To Thomas Jefferson, it was all much of the same. Both classes of phenomena – epidemic and revolution – fell within the same paradigm: they sprung up suddenly, spread rapidly, sowed mass disruption, and look lives.

They also served a larger, noble purpose.

“When great evils happen, I am in the habit of looking out for what good may arise from them as consolations to us, and Providence has in fact so established the order of things, as that most evils are the means of producing some good.” With such a mindset – a sort of calloused optimism – he was able to look at the mass carnage of the epidemiological and political upheavals of his time philosophically.

Read more.

The Junto: Early American Women Unmasked

By Philippe Halbert, 5 May 2020

Protective face coverings have emerged as a potent, multifaceted metaphor for the Covid-19 pandemic… Some museums are looking to add homemade masks to their collections as a way to document the crisis. Worn for slightly different reasons and more implicitly gendered, the masks owned by early American women and even children were no less symbolic in terms of practical use, commodification, or controversy.

Notwithstanding their association with pre-Lenten carnival and the masquerade, early modern masks also served utilitarian, health-related purposes, namely protection against sun and windburn, and the preservation of a light or pale complexion for European women and those of European descent living in the Americas. Believed to have originated in sixteenth-century Italy, oval masks sometimes referred as “vizards,” “visors,” and even “invisories” in early English sources were available in black, brown, green, red, and “natural” colored velvet. They appear to have changed little in overall design and materiality as they made their way across Europe and the Atlantic Ocean by the mid-seventeenth century.

I first encountered these curious, somewhat frightening objects by accident while studying the inventory of Sarah Williams (1716-1737) of Deerfield, Massachusetts. The youngest child of the Reverend John Williams and his second wife Abigail Bissell, Sarah maintained a rather impressive wardrobe at the time of her death, including a mask valued 2 shillings.

Read more.

Book: Fort Plain, Fork Plank, Fort Rensselaer: The Revolutionary War Forts of Canajohary

By Wayne Lenig

8.5×11 with over 260 glossy pages with color images and maps.

The Fort Plain Museum recently published this new local history book. Lenig is a Fellow of the New York State Archaeological Association, vice-president of the Van Epps-Hartley Chapter NYSAA, archaeological curator and vice-chairman of the Fort Plain Museum Board of Trustees, and Research Associate in Archaeology at the New York State Museum.

A great deal of confusion has developed regarding the historical identities of Fort Plain, Fort Plank and Fort Rensselaer. This book reviews and analyzes the published secondary sources in chronological order to gain an understanding of when and how misconceptions developed. Following that review are chapters on the archaeology and historical research from primary sources, placing the final four years of the Revolutionary War on the New York frontiers into the broad fabric of contemporary events. A fourth chapter reviews the evidence for an earlier Colonial Anglo-American fort on the site of Fort Plain. This is the most comprehensive study of the most important American outpost during the final four years of the War for Independence.

To order the book, please visit the museum’s online book store at or email info@fortplainmuseum.org. 100% of the book proceeds go to the museum for exhibits and education programming.

Where in the World?

Where is Victoria Branch member Dawn Goodwin with her daughter Susie?

To participate, submit a photo of yourself in UELAC promotional gear at a place of some note and tell us where it is (if you are a member of a branch, please indicate that as well). Send your submission to the editor at loyalist.trails@uelac.org.

Region and Branch Bits

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

Saint John NB To Mark 235th Birthday Virtually

Saint John will mark its 235th birthday on Monday, but the celebrations will look different because of COVID-19, a virtual celebration on its Facebook page. The city suggests hosting a Victorian tea party, taking an historic walking tour. The city’s birthday on Monday also marks the 237th anniversary of the landing of the Loyalists. The United Empire Loyalists Association commissioned Shannon Webb-Campbell, a mixed-Indigenous settler poet, writer, and critic currently based in Saint John, to create a poem in honour of the city’s 235th anniversary. Menagoesg Redux “Return to the Windy Place” (Menagoesg is the original name of the area that became Saint John.)

Read more.

Award for Carol Harding UE, Nova Scotia Branch

On behalf of the Nova Scotia Branch of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada I would like to congratulate Carol Harding, UE on being selected by the Municipality of the District of Digby as Volunteer of the Year for 2020.

Carol has volunteered with the Admiral Digby Library and Historical Society, the Society for the Friends of Ferals, and the Nova Scotia Branch of the UELAC.

For six years she has been the Nova Scotia Branch Genealogist. Carol also served as Councillor for the Atlantic Region, on the UELAC Board of Directors. She has not only helped many members of the Nova Scotia Branch with their research into Loyalist Genealogy, but also members of other Branches and the public.

…Brian McConnell UE

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Loyalist Era Outreach. Historic Nova Scotia has published another article that I have prepared. It is a story about German soldiers who came to Annapolis County in Nova Scotia after serving in the American Revolution on the side of the British. “The Waldeck Settlement” can be viewed at https://historicnovascotia.ca/items/show/192. Well done Brian McConnell UE!
  • Gravestone of Ensign Elisha Budd (1761-1813), born at White Plains, NY, who served in Kings American Regiment during American Revolution & died in Liverpool, England is in Trinity Church Cemetery at Digby, NS – Brian McConnell UE
  • “In memory of Quash Gomer: a Native of Angola in Africa, brought from there in 1748, & died June 6th 1799 Aged 68 years.” Gomer, whose gravestone was restored in 2014, purchased his freedom for 25 pounds in 1766.
  • This Week in History
    • 15 May 1769, the Boston Whigs complained that a British army band had played “Nancy Dawson” before church services. Dawson was a British actress & dancer who had popularized that melody, now known as “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.”
    • 10 May 1775 Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold take Ft Ticonderoga in New-York, securing cannon for patriot forces.
    • 11 May 1776 Washington suggests raising companies of Germans to sow discontent among England’s Hessian troops.
    • 13 May 1776 Antigua-based British Adm. Young relays intel to Jamaica that Americans plan to attack West India ships.
    • 12 May 1780Charles-Town, South-Carolina falls to British General Clinton, marking terrible defeat for rebel forces.
    • 15 May 1781 Rebel forces take Fort Granby, South-Carolina, without the loss of a single man.
    • 14 May 1787 First delegates arrive in Philadelphia to revise Articles of Confederation; create new Constitution.
    • 12 May 1789, John Moies died at age 49. He had arrived in Boston as a redcoat in 1768. Arrested for theft, he was ordered to work for his victim. Moies thus stayed behind as his regiment left. He married, started a family, and opened a shop.
  • Townsend’s
  • Clothing and Related:
  • Miscellaneous:
    • Jamestown-Yorktown on 14 May for Museum Moments remembered both times Queen Elizabeth came to Jamestown Settlement and Nick and Mary Matthews who gave the land for the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.
    • Celebrate Victoria Day. Marlene Dance, President Chilliwack Branch shared a Victoria Day Special Edition of a newsletter distributed by The British Isles Historic Society along with a recipe for Classic Victoria Sponge Cake.
    • Virtual tour of the Benjamin Franklin House in London
    • Our indefatigable and multi-talented Governor General knows a thing or two about science, team-building and much else. Well worth watching Her Excellency’s conversations wit Dr Mona Nemeber, Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, on “the importance of research and science advice in times of global pandemic”
    • National Trust for Canada. Heritage in bloom – A spring tour of Canada’s historic gardens. Spring has finally arrived, and spirit-lifting flowers are back in bloom in many Canadian communities. While self-isolation measures mean you may not be able to travel, it is still a great time to learn about the diversity of Canada’s historic gardens, and to revel in their timeless beauty. Read more…
    • The best surviving example of a high-style Georgian house in Wethersfield CT, built for Simeon Belden (1737-1820) and Martha Lockwood (1743-1830) in 1767.
    • Fort Ticonderoga: Within the King’s Garden our Farm-to-Table Garden illustrates the power of Local Food to reduce the carbon footprint of transporting food over vast distances. This garden isn’t just pretty; visitors enjoy the produce in our Cafe!
    • For the 413th anniversary of the 1607 founding of America’s first permanent English settlement on 13 May, discover why colonists chose Jamestown Island as the site of their new colony in today’s blog from expert mariner Hank Moseley. Read more…

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

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

  • Jacob Bastedo – contributed by Robert Cardona
  • Jacob Benner – contributed by Robert Foord
  • John Brown – contributed by Shirley Smith

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

Last Post

Norma Jean (Smith) Coleman, UE

Members of Colonel John Butler (Niagara) Branch UELAC were sad to learn that Norma Jean (Smith) Coleman UE, long time member of (Niagara) Branch passed away on May 3, 2020 at age 92. After living in Niagara Falls for over 90 years Norma moved to Orillia to be near her daughters. Internment and celebration of life will be in Niagara Falls at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Alzheimer Society of Niagara Region through the Simcoe Funeral Home, 38 James St. E Orillia (705) 327-0221. Please visit www.simcoefuneralhome.ca for condolences.

Norma was very proud of her UEL heritage and descended through her mother, from Loyalists Christian Warner and Abraham Overholt. Norma and her husband James enjoyed attending the Col. John Butler Branch monthly meetings, often joined by their daughters Joanne Arbour UE & Donna Coleman UE and granddaughters Emma and Ava Sturm, who are both UE.

Thursday, October 10th, 2002 was the date of a very special celebration for local UE Loyalists but particularly for Norma Coleman and her family. Queen Elizabeth II was visiting Canada on her Jubilee Tour. Members of the UELAC were invited to attend the celebration at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton where many events were held and the highlight was Her Majesty’s presentation of new colours to Her Regiment “The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s)”. Norma and her family including Emma (Gr. 8) and Ava (Gr. 6), and other members of the UELAC went to “See The Queen”. It was a very exciting, memorable day for all. Emma and Ava wrote a very interesting, detailed article titled “Our Visit to See the Queen” about their adventures. It was published in Volume 41, Number 1, the 2003 Spring issue of the Loyalist Gazette.

…Bev Craig and Wendy Broda

Amy Frances (Mallett) Forsyth

Amy was born on June 16, 1926 and passed away on Friday, May 8, 2020 at the age of 93 years 11 months having lived a long and fruitful life. She passed away peacefully at the Assiniboine Center with her son and daughter at her side. Amy was predeceased by her husband, Ivan in 2018; one daughter, Judy in 1974; two sons, Gordon in 1994 and Ken in 2007; one son-in-law Allan Rempel and three brothers, Albert, Ronald and Cliff. Left to mourn is her daughter, Dianne (Rempel) and son, Doug (Roxanne); 13 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and cousins. Amy was the only daughter of Fred and Agnes Mallett.

She spent her early years in Elkhorn, MB. When Amy grew up she moved to Sudbury, ON. where she worked for Eaton’s. Amy was transferred to Brandon where she met and married Ivan Forsyth. After several moves they settled in Brandon where they raised five children. While raising their children Amy worked at the Dutch Mill Bakery. After retirement, Amy and Ivan joined a tour group and were off to see the world. They travelled to many countries in Europe as well as down under to Australia and New Zealand. The last five years were spent at Rotary villas on 10th Street in Brandon. Amy was instrumental in getting the Whist Club going and would invite any new resident to join them. She was very excited with the number of people that would show up each week. Amy also participated in many of the other activities and thoroughly enjoyed them.

On April 24, Amy was taken to the hospital. Many thanks to the staff of the Assiniboine Center who treated her with dignity and respect, eagerly attending to all her needs while she was there. A Celebration of life will be held at a later date at Brockie Donovan Chapel, 332 8th Street. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Amy may be made to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, 1379 Kenaston Blvd., Winnipeg, MB, R3P 2T5 or to a charity of your choice.

Amy was a member of the Assiniboine Branch UELAC and was a staunch supporter of the Loyalists. Although Amy herself didn’t have the UE designation she was active in researching her husband’s (Ivan Forsyth) and her family’s loyalist ancestors. We will miss her.

…Liz Adair


Query and Comments About Fort Churchill

Referencing “Revolutionary Revenge on Hudson Bay, 1782” in the 10 May 2020 issue of Loyalist Trails.

I have been to the fort at Churchill. The French knocked off one side of the protrusions that held the 47 canons in their place on the wooden holders. Most of the canons are still there.

When we visited the fort, on the way back from a few days at Baker Lake (the geographic centre of Canada) we took a boat and had a rifleman with us to watch for polar bears-a real danger! No question, many bears have moved North but tourism to see the bears still draws from the World -except for the current hiatus . Jim Oborne.

The loot taken from Fort Churchill in 1782, according to an online source, included 7,500 beaver skins, 4,000 marten skins and 17,000 goose quills!!!

Goose quills ?? – I have never encountered goose quills.

When I retired, I got involved with military reenactment, F.& I. to W/1812. I purchased two muzzle-loading cannon. The priming tubes, historically, may have been goose quills.

Query: Can anyone provide more information about the apparent value of goose quills?

…Bill Davidson

Three Generations of Moses Rolfe Leads to Confusing Dates

By Geraldine Knatz, Ph.D.

Frederick G. Rolfe’s book on The Early Settlers of New England (1995) provides clarity on sorting through the early Rolfe residents of New England that emigrated to the United States from England in the 17th century, particularly the descendants of Henry and Honour Rolfe who settled in Newbury, MA in 1635. This note concerns the three generations of men named Moses Rolfe, who are descended from Joseph Rolfe. Moses was born on April 11, 1765 in Newburyport MA and married Judith Cheney, born in Newbury, MA. The couple are found in Londonderry NH census in 1790 and in 1800 in Rutland, VT. They relocated to Dudswell, Wolfe County, Quebec when their children were still very young.

Moses and Judith had many children, one called Moses born about 1785. Moses Jr. married Diana Bishop and they had a number of children, one born in 1814 they called Moses whom I shall refer to as Moses III. Moses III also married a Bishop, Sarah Bishop. In the course of my research to document the lineage of Moses Jr. and Moses III, it became apparent that some cemetery records have confused Moses Jr. with his son Moses, III. I believe the source of this information is the plaque at Ascot Corner Cemetery shown below in Figure 1 (see full document) and pictures on the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada website.

This plaque which was based on records taken from gravestones in 1953 has the following listing for Moses Rolfe and Sarah Bishop :

Moses Rolfe, died June 22, 1837, age 53

Wife, Sarah Bishop, died November 11, 1836

Daughter Sarah died 1836

A quick calculation for the above information would lead you to believe this Moses Rolfe was born about 1784- a close fit for Moses, son of Joseph Rolfe. Of course there is still the discrepancy about the wife’s first name. But the actual headstone for Moses and Sarah, also at Ascot cemetery, tell a different story.

This stone (see full document) shows Moses Rolfe dying on June 22, but in a different year, 1867 instead of 1837. His wife Sarah Bishop’s stone also shows the same month and day but a different year also. She died in 1886 not 1836. Was James E. Winslow’s own handwriting so hard to read that both an 8 and a 6 could be mistaken for a 3? This stone is clearly that of Moses III, born 1814 who married Sarah Bishop.

Unfortunately, the date errors for both Moses and Sarah have been picked up by others and there are many family trees online that confuse Moses Jr., born about 1785 with his son, born 1814. The list at interment.net which is reported to be is based on a 2006 survey of all the remaining stones in the cemetery also had the wrong death years for Moses and his wife Sarah.

The Ascot Cemetery list of headstones available through rootsweb has the correct dates for Moses and Sarah. It also notes their daughter Sarah died in 1836, the date which was used as mother Sarah’s death on the Ascot plaque.

Frederick Rolfe’s work reports that Moses Wolfe Senior, died in Dudswell, Wolfe County, Quebec on January 28th, 1845. No information can be found to verify this, nor can information about his son Moses and his son’s wife Diana Bishop be confirmed. Anyone who has information, please contact me.

…Geraldine Knatz, Ph.D.