“Loyalist Trails” 2020-32: August 9, 2020

In this issue:
The Baileys and the Callahans: Friends in Difficult Days (Part 4), by Stephen Davidson
The Life of Stephen Watts, by Gavin Watt
Comment About “Longhouse Lost: The Battle of Oriskany and the Iroquois Civil War”
JAR: A “Truly Noble” Resistance: The Sons of Liberty in Connecticut
JAR: A Visit to Fort Mifflin on the Delaware
The Launch of the Massachusetts Spy
King’s Chapel Interior Color Schemes & Georgian Architecture
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
      + National Trust for Canada: August is all about VisitLists
      + Stormerlige Films Projects Coming Soon
      + New Book in 2021: The Knotted Rope, by Jean Rae Baxter
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post: Ronald Coleman


The Baileys and the Callahans: Friends in Difficult Days (Part 4)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Within six months’ time, the Baileys were finally able to secure a vessel to take them down the Kennebec River into the Bay of Fundy and on to Halifax. Besides Jacob Bailey and his wife Sarah, the refugee party included their four-year old son Charles, their servant John McNamara, and an unnamed niece. As they entered Halifax’s harbour two weeks later, Jacob was – in his words – filled with “gratitude to Providence for safely conducting me and my family to this retreat of freedom and security from the rage of tyranny and the cruelty of oppression.”

Once Rebecca Callahan had recovered from the shock of being reunited with her friends from Pownalborough, she and Polly Clensy set the table for breakfast. (The latter was a servant the Callahans had brought with them from Kennebec.) Little Charles Bailey, not more than four years old, ran to the table enraptured by what he saw.

“Pray, Mamma, what is that on Mrs. Callahan’s table?” he asked. It was a loaf of bread made of flour – something the Loyalist’s child had never seen or tasted. His innocent query almost brought the adults to tears. Overcome with emotion, Dr. Breynton, the local Anglican vicar who had welcomed the Baileys, quickly left the Callahans’ house to see about getting them a place to live. By the time breakfast was over, Breynton returned with news of support for the family, a guinea for little Charles to buy more bread, and the news that Jacob had an appointment with the colony’s governor.

Bailey’s letter to a friend shares what happened next: “About ten days after my arrival in Halifax, I received an invitation from some principal gentlemen to visit Cornwallis {near present day Port Williams}. I accordingly preached among them two Sundays in August, and, finding nothing more advantageous offer, I agreed to remove my family and continue through the winter”. His congregation was made up of about 20 New England Planter families, Americans who had settled along the Cornwallis River following the expulsion of the Acadians. Bailey imagined this would be a temporary posting as he had every expectation that he would be returning to Pownalborough when the British defeated its rebellious American colonists.

It may be that Charles Callahan had returned from the Penobscot area before his friend Jacob Bailey moved to Cornwallis. Initially it looked as if the two Loyalist families would be separated by 96 kilometres of forest. However, death would claim one of the spouses by December of 1779, forever altering the composition of their relationship.

After his return to Halifax, Callahan was asked to once again serve as the pilot for the North. The war vessel was bound for Spanish River – near modern day Sydney, Cape Breton. Following the North’s return to Halifax, Callahan would then pilot the Albany back to the Penobscot peninsula. When these two voyages were complete, the naval commander promised that Callahan would be given an armed vessel of his own to resume his career as a privateer. It was too good an offer to resist.

In early December, 170 men were on board the North, part of a four-vessel flotilla that sailed down the coast from Cape Breton to Halifax. By the night of the 11th, the ships were battling a huge storm at entrance to Halifax’s harbour. The crew realized that they were headed for the shore near Sambro Head and dropped anchor. Having survived a shipwreck at the same location just twelve months earlier, Charles Callahan warned the North’s captain of the rocks, but “in the time of the general confusion was not attended to”. The winds continued to push the North toward the rocky shore, compelling the ship to fire a gun as a distress signal.

Standing on the deck of one of the other ships in the flotilla, a seaman watched in horror as the North struck the rocks and “in a short time saw her fall to pieces”. Only five of the 170 men aboard the North survived.

Eighteen days later a friend of Jacob Bailey’s wrote him to relate the sad news of the death of his friend and former neighbour. Rebecca Callahan was now a widow as well as a refugee in a city far from home.

How the Callahan family survived over the next few years goes unrecorded. Rebecca Callahan’s friend Jacob Bailey was able to supplement his income by assuming the position of chaplain to the 84th Regiment which was stationed in Annapolis Royal.

In the following year the Anglican minister’s family moved to Clementsport, a community just 12 kilometres to the west of Annapolis Royal. There, Sarah Bailey gave birth to a sister for little Charles, the son who had been named in honour of their friend Callahan. The new daughter was christened Rebecca Lavinia Bailey in honour of Rebecca Callahan.

In 1782, Jacob became the vicar of St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Annapolis Royal, a position he would maintain until his death in 1808. This was also the same year that Rebecca Callahan left Halifax to live with the Baileys. In 1784, she submitted a memorial to the Nova Scotia government, seeking financial support on the basis of being a Loyalist’s widow. Her petition was supported by Jacob Bailey and his manservant, John McNamara.

The story of two Loyalist couples concludes in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

The Life of Stephen Watts, by Gavin Watt

by Gavin K. Watt <gk.watt7678@gmail.com>

Stephen Watts was born in New York City in 1754, a son of John Watts, a prominent city politician of Scottish birth. Stephen was a brother of Anne, the wife of Captain Archibald Kennedy, RN, the 11th Earl of Cassillis; Mary (Polly), the wife of Sir John Johnson, the lieutenant-colonel of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York, and Margaret, the wife of Robert Leake, a major of the 2nd battalion, King’s Royal Yorkers.

His older brothers – Robert, who married a daughter of William Alexander (Lord Stirling), and John, who married a DeLancey cousin – remained in the United States after the Revolution.


In 1775, Stephen had been visiting with Sir John and Polly at Johnstown in the Mohawk Valley when a captain of the Royal Highland Emigrants arrived and received the baronet’s blessing to recruit amongst his tenants. Stephen tendered his services and, when the Emigrants’ commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Allan Maclean, appeared shortly after to collect his recruits, he went with him to Oswego. Maclean took his recruits to Montreal, arriving at the city when rumours of a coming rebel invasion of Quebec Province were rampant. Governor Carleton enthusiastically received Maclean and gave him permission to recruit widely throughout the province.

During the defence of Quebec City, Stephen served as a lieutenant in Captain Malcolm Fraser’s Company. When reinforcements arrived from Britain in the spring, the Emigrants were part of the force that drove the rebels from their siege lines outside the city and pursued them upriver. Stephen must have been with the Emigrants during the successful defence of Trois Rivières, and during the drive south on the Richelieu River following the rebel army as it scrambled to escape.


In May 1776, Sir John Johnson escaped imminent arrest and trekked north through the Adirondacks wilderness to Akwesasne with 180 recruits. After a brief period of recovery, he assembled Natives and Canadiens to join with his own men, and marched to Montreal to confront the rebels. His little 500-man army arrived just after the city had been relieved by British Regulars, and the baronet crossed the St. Lawrence to chase the rebels south. When he arrived near Chambly on June 19, he met with Governor Carleton and was given a beating order to raise the King’s Royal Regiment of New York. Stephen and a Johnson family friend, Patrick Daly, transferred from the Emigrants to the new regiment. Daly was promoted to captain and given command of a line infantry company. Stephen was also made captain and given command of the Light Infantry.

The Royal Yorkers went on their first expedition in July 1777 under the command of Brevet Brigadier St. Leger. His goal was to reduce Fort Stanwix in the upper Mohawk Valley and then subdue to Valley during his march to Albany to join General John Burgoyne’s grand army, which would have advanced from Quebec via the Lake Champlain route.

St. Leger’s army had just arrived at Fort Stanwix when word came from the lower Valley that the Tryon County militia brigade was marching to relieve the fort’s garrison. The brigadier dispatched Sir John Johnson with Watts’s Light Company; a company of German riflemen; a party of Indian Department rangers, and the majority of the Native auxiliaries. The Six Nations’ War Captains devised a classic Native ambush and the Tryon Militia blundered into it early in the morning of August 6. During an early phase of the action, Sir John ordered Watts’s company to break the outer crust of the militia’s position with a bayonet charge, but the tactic had little success. In the afternoon, a reinforcement of Royal Yorker line troops employed a ruse-de-guerre to penetrate the militia’s defensive perimeter. During the ensuing melee, Stephen Watts was grievously wounded, and, when the Royal Yorkers and Natives withdrew to the Stanwix camps, he could not be found.

Three days later, Watts was discovered by a Native patrol and brought to the camps. A leg was shattered below the knee and his throat was badly gashed. Although he had managed to staunch the bleeding, he had lost a great deal of blood and was very weak with fly-blown wounds. Despite the squalor of a campaign camp, the regimental surgeon cleaned Watts’s wounds and successfully removed his lower leg. When St. Leger’s expedition retraced its steps to Montreal weeks later, Stephen was left there to recover.


Watts was young, strong and resilient and, when he had healed sufficiently, he purchased a captaincy in the 8th (King’s) Regiment on March 8, 1778 and was put in command of the hospital at Montreal; however, his knee was not regaining the flexibility necessary for the fitting of an artificial leg and it was recommended that he go to England for hot baths. This remedy was successful and, by December 12, 1781, Watts was in command of an invalid company on the Isle of Jersey, where he met Sarah Nugent and married her on November 17, 1788 at St. Hellier. They were to have a fruitful marriage; Sarah bore fourteen children.

In April 1796, Stephen was noted as the island’s barrack master, another step up in his career; however, in November of that year, he quarreled with Dr. Sanderson, the regiment’s paymaster, concerning officers’ lodging funds. The argument must have been extremely heated, as it led to a pistol duel in which Watts fired the first shot and grazed Sanderson’s neck. Sanderson’s ball struck the thumb of Watts’ extended pistol hand and deflected up his nose to lodge in his cheek. The wound was so severe, he was not expected to live.

The ball could not be extracted, which, coupled with the discomfort of his earlier amputation, must have caused much discomfort. As duels had been declared illegal, his second, a fellow captain, had to flee the island. Sanderson and his second were arrested, but Watts appears to have escaped punishment because of his wounds.

In 1799, he was returned as a major and the island’s assistant barrack master and, in a military census of 1806, he was again noted as a major and barrack master. His household included four boys and five girls.

Three years later, a newspaper article reported that “Captain Stephen Watts on the retired list, and late of the 3rd Royal Veterans Battalion is dismissed from his Majesty’s Service.” This dishonor apparently led to the final tragedy, for Watts took his life with a pistol on January 20, 1810 in London. He had slept in a club called The Hummums in Covent Garden for seventeen nights. An officer-acquaintance reported that Watts was afflicted with occasional fits of insanity, suggesting the lead ball had affected his brain. An inquest declared a verdict of lunacy; a common finding in cases of suicide.

Watts was buried at St. Olaves in London near his father, John. His wife Sarah died in 1841 and was given a second burial in Ripple Church, Deal, Kent where a plaque to her and Stephen was erected in 1860 presumably by their eight surviving children.

Stephen’s will of 1808 appointed as executors: his wife Sarah; his sister Margaret Leake, and his friend Lieutenant-Colonel John Ross, the original major of 2KRR. The will was altered in 1809 when Lieutenant-Colonel John Ross of the Coldstream Guards was killed at the Battle of Talavera.

The names John and Ross continued in the Watts family for generations. John Ross Watts emigrated to New Zealand and the family there continues this tradition.

(Research by Les de Belin, Sydney, Australia, and Cruikshank and Watt, KRR NY, 331.)

Comment About “Longhouse Lost: The Battle of Oriskany and the Iroquois Civil War”

I was intrigued to see the reference to the JAR article on the Battle of Oriskany – “Longhouse Lost: The Battle of Oriskany and the Iroquois Civil War” – which you will probably recall was the central item in my book Rebellion in the Mohawk Valley. So, I clicked on the link and began to read. Oh my….

Typical of so many American historians, the piece was a sad item of propaganda. For example, when the Oneida war captain, Han Yerry, joined with Herkimer’s Tryon Militia column, the author claimed that he “cemented their place as a loyal partner in the cause of freedom.” Choke!

That is the “freedom” of the Oneidas and Tuscaroras to lose all their lands after faithfully fighting alongside the rebels for all the war. They were certainly treated no better than the Iroquois and their fellow native allies (Mississaugas, Delawares, etc…) who fought to the end in support of a connection with the Crown.

Also typical of too many American historians, this one made little mention of the fact that the Royal Yorkers and Butler’s Indian Department Rangers were primarily from the same Tryon County farmlands and towns as Herkimer’s militia. That wee wrinkle of civil warfare was just too much to deal with. Those loyalist soldiers were simply misguided traitors to America.

For any of the readers who have an interest in this bloodiest battle of the war in the northeast, please recommend my book Rebellion in the Mohawk Valley. Unlike the American approach, I deal with all the protagonists as they deserve and cover St. Leger’s siege of Fort Stanwix and the directions from the high command in Quebec in detail. I do not ignore that latter input, which the American author barely recognizes. Nor do I ignore the rebel leadership and its problems; I give them fair play.

…Gavin K. Watt, Companion Meritorious Heritage

JAR: A “Truly Noble” Resistance: The Sons of Liberty in Connecticut

by Dayne Rugh 4 August 2020

The role of Connecticut’s Sons of Liberty is one that exemplifies the state’s rich history of self-governance and fiercely independent spirit. Their swift reaction to the passage of the Stamp Act of 1765 shattered the political landscape of Connecticut, known ironically as “the land of steady habits.” Later, a few select Sons and their respective affiliates would transition into roles on Committees of Correspondence throughout the colony. It has been often misconstrued that the Sons of Liberty were a singular angry mob that patented the art of tarring and feathering British tax collectors, but that was nowhere to be seen in Connecticut. The story of Connecticut’s Sons of Liberty is a decade-long modern grassroots movement; a community-oriented example of how it was possible to permanently undermine Britain’s administration of the Thirteen Colonies through careful, non-violent resistance.

To the Sons, the Stamp Act was an offensive violation to the large degree of political sovereignty granted by Connecticut’s colonial charter and outrage was quick to engulf major centers of industry including New Haven, New London, and Norwich. Eastern Connecticut in particular became a revolutionary hotbed for resistance to the Stamp Act and produced many Sons of Liberty including Col. John Durkee and Brig. Gen. Jedediah Huntington both from Norwich, as well as Declaration of Independence signer William Williams of Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Israel Putnam of Pomfret, Capt. Hugh Ledlie of Windham, and the infamous Benedict Arnold, born and raised in Norwich and resident of New Haven between 1762 and 1775. Other notable members of the Connecticut Sons included Jonathan Sturges of Fairfield, Rev. Stephen Johnson of Lyme, John McCurdy of Lyme, Eliphalet Dyer of Windham, and Jonathan Trumbull of Lebanon….

…Tactics of the Sons of Liberty changed in the latter part of the 1760s with the passage of new acts such as the Townshend Duties, prompting the Sons and their allies to engage in non-importation movements as well as well as promote the production of locally sourced goods, homespun fabrics, and more. Others took a more clandestine approach to subverting British regulations through covert smuggling operations. One of those noted smugglers was the future traitor, Benedict Arnold.

Born in Norwich in 1741, Arnold was noteworthy he was infamous even before his betrayal as his early years were both tumultuous and tragic. Forced out of private schooling in Canterbury, Arnold completed an apprenticeship by age twenty-one with his mother’s cousins, Drs. Daniel and Joshua Lathrop, and in 1762 he set out for New Haven with his sister Hannah.

Read more.

JAR: A Visit to Fort Mifflin on the Delaware

by Rand Mirante 6 August 2020

…Fort Mifflin is no longer situated on an island. The distinct geography of Mud Island, from which Mifflin once guarded the southern approach to Philadelphia, no longer exists, and neither do either of two adjacent islands, Province and Carpenter’s, which once directly faced Mud from the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware and from which British batteries battered the bastion. All three of these islands have disappeared as such, subsumed into landfill operations…

…Neither is there any apparent evidence of the depthless six-hundred-yard “inner channel” of the Delaware that separated Mud from its assailants’ artillery emplaced upon the two juxtaposed islands, and where the Royal Navy’s converted transport Vigilant also contributed to Mifflin’s eradication. Blasts from the periodic cannonade delivered over several weeks with increasing intensity 243 years ago by approximately one hundred Royal Artillery and Royal Navy cannons, howitzers, and mortars…

The fort is surrounded by marshland forming an amphibian- and reptile-friendly natural moat replete with water lilies, reeds, sedges and cat-tails; all three former islands were reclaimed from mud flats and, depending on rainfall and the tide, they would be intermittently submerged. When Tom Paine briefly but bravely visited the fort in mid-October 1777 during the early stages of the siege, he noted that the British had fired “about thirty shells into it … without doing any damage … The ground being damp and spongy, not about five or six burst, and not a man was killed or wounded.”

That benign result would soon end, when the British built more batteries and started cutting the fuses on their exploding projectiles and favoring the use of solid shot to level Mifflin’s ramparts, parapets, palisades, traverses, blockhouses, and buildings. (British artillerists on Province and Carpenter’s Islands, serving under expert builder and aimer Capt. John Montresor of the Royal Engineers, also endured misery in the mud, as drenching autumn downpours resulted in fieldpieces and mortars sinking into the swampy soil along with their supporting platforms.)

Read more.

The Launch of the Massachusetts Spy

J.L.Bell 7 August 2020

On Tuesday, 7 Aug 1770, 250 years ago today, the second issue of the Massachusetts Spy appeared.

The very first issue, dated 17 July, was a test to drum up subscriptions, distributed for free. The printers had projected regular publication to start at the end of the month. That schedule slipped, and the 7 August issue was their first attempt to publish on a steady schedule.

The men behind the Massachusetts Spy were twenty-one-year-old Isaiah Thomas and his former master, Zechariah Fowle.

Since Thomas had ended their initial relationship unilaterally – i.e., he ran away to Nova Scotia in 1765 and to North Carolina the next year – one might expect Fowle to be leery of a becoming partners with him.

Read more.

King’s Chapel Interior Color Schemes & Georgian Architecture

King’s Chapel’s interior color scheme has changed fairly significantly over time. Contrary to many popular depictions of colonial spaces, the 18th century was full of colorful interiors.

The 1754 structure of the Stone Chapel has changed relatively little in the past 266 years. While the physical building has remained largely the same, this only serves to emphasize the changes in the building’s interior color scheme over time. While it may seem like a minor change, the different paint colors that have been introduced into King’s Chapel throughout the centuries have significantly changed the tone and character of the space. There are three distinct phases of interior decoration, each one a reflection of the tastes and desires of its contemporary community.

Read more.

King’s Chapel is a classic example of Georgian architecture. You can see similarities at other Peter Harrison buildings in New England, such as Touro Synagogue & the Newport library. Learn more about Georgian architecture & King’s Chapel.

King’s Chapel, designed by Peter Harrison, is a classic example of the Georgian architecture the English brought to the colonies. It was the first style actually developed by influential architects, including the famous Sir Christopher Wren, so it contributed aesthetics and fashion to buildings in the colonies.

Read more.

Where in the World?

Where is David Ricketts of Hamilton Branch?

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.

National Trust for Canada: August is all about VisitLists

Canada Historic Places Day VisitLists are a fun new way to curate a collection of historic places and share it with your friends and family. In the same way that playlists gather songs, VisitLists highlight a personal journey or memory-scape through some of Canada’s historic places. Check out some of Natalie Bull’s favourite New Brunswick historic places and memories through her VisitList: Natalie’s New Brunswick.

Then join in the fun and create your own #VisitList. There are prizes to be won! During the month of August, we are giving away cash prizes totaling $1000 to individuals, and one grand prize valued at $5,000 to a participating Canada Historic Places Day site featured in one of your VisitLists!

Stormerlige Films Projects Coming Soon

Stormerlige Films is developing the first season of Who Are You With? and We Are Our History. Both are digital mini-series set to come out in 2020 that highlight heritage and historical sites. Many of our episodes focus on sites that highlight Loyalist histories – the Black Loyalist Heritage Center, Val-Jalbert, Pompey Museum – and how these stories are maintained today.

New Book in 2021: The Knotted Rope, by Jean Rae Baxter

I read with interest the excerpt from “The Enslavement of African People in Canada” printed in the August 2 issue of Loyalist Trails, as well as the “read more” continuation. It is true that the statute of 1793 did not directly free anyone who was legally a slave in Upper Canada. But it did grant freedom to any enslaved person brought into the Province. Peter Martin and Chloe Cooley, historical figures prominent in the article, will appear in my forthcoming historical novel The Knotted Rope, to be published by Ronsdale Press in 2021. In this novel I make use of a loophole in the law through which enslaved Africans in Upper Canada were able to gain their freedom. The Knotted Rope will be the sixth and final novel in my series telling the story of the United Empire Loyalists.

…Jean Rae Baxter, Kingston, Ontario

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

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

  • Barney Gilroy – contributed by Carolyn Brown
  • Robert Hallett – contributed from Branch records by Jo Ann Tuskin
  • Capt. James Kerr – contributed by Pam Wood Waugh
  • Elizabeth Grant – contributed by Mary J. McCutcheon

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

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Last Post: Ronald Coleman

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Ronald Coleman (Saint John, New Brunswick), who passed away on August 4, 2020, at the age of 82, leaving to mourn family and friends.

He was loved and cherished by many people including : his parents, Milford Charles and Grace Coleman (Sheffiled); his grandparents, Joseph Henry and Annie Bella Coleman (Green); his great-grandparent Seth Coleman; his wife Deborah Coleman (Benjamin); and his siblings, Doris, Shirley, Linda, Lorraine, John, Darrell, Dale, Charles, Laurie and Gloria. He was also cherished by many nieces and nephews.

Donations in Ron’s memory may be made towards the Beaver Harbour Community Venture, 18 Acker Lane, Beaver Harbour, NB, E2H 1N3 or to the charity of the donor’s choice.

Deborah Coleman is the Past-President of the New Brunswick Branch UELAC.