In this issue:

  • Loyalist History and a 1930s Road Trip Through Nova Scotia, Part 2 by Stephen Davidson UE
  • Dispatches: Todd Braisted: Benjamin W. Thompson’s Black Dragoons
  • Letter from an Officer on Board his Majesty’ s Ship Chatham 24 March 1776, at Boston
  • JAR Book Review: Valley Forge to Monmouth: Six Transformational Months of the American Revolution
  • The Aftermath of the Second Boston Tea Party
  • Resource: North Haven Annals
  • Washington’s Quill: Correcting the Record: George Washington to Samuel Huntington, April 10, 1781
  • Snuff Accessories: A History of the 1700 and 1800s
  • Book Article: Stuart Manson’s Sacred Grounds: Loyalist Cemeteries of Eastern Ontario
  • Books: A Loyalist’s Trilogy By Gerald Richardson Brown UE
  • Personal Connection to Orlo Miller and Raiders of The Mohawk
  • Loyalist Quarterly Newsletter, March 2021, by Paul J. Bunnell UE
  • Events:
    • The Family History Library: Hessian Soldiers. 1 Apr 11:00 ET
    • Fort Plain: VALCOUR The 1776 Campaign That Saved the Cause of Liberty – Jack Kelly
    • Gov. Simcoe Branch: “WHEREAS it is Unjust …” Jean Rae Baxter Wed 7 April 7:30
    • Toronto Branch UELAC: Quakers and the American Revolution Tues. 13 Apr @7:30
  • From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Connect with us:


Loyalist History and a 1930s Road Trip Through Nova Scotia, Part Two of Two
copyright Stephen Davidson UE
After driving around Nova Scotia with her camera and notebook, Clara Dennis wrote down her impressions of her home province in the 1934 book, Down in Nova Scotia: My Own, My Native Land. As she photographed the province’s scenery, Dennis also interviewed the people that she met on her travels, preserving bits of history that might otherwise have been lost to posterity.
Dennis was ahead of her time for recognizing and appreciating the Black history of Nova Scotia. In addition to telling her readers about African enslavement within the province and the exodus of free Blacks to Sierra Leone, she also took time on her road trip to speak to the descendant of a Black Loyalist. In so doing, she recorded stories that up to that time had only been preserved in the oral history of Nova Scotia’s Black community.
Although she did not name the Black Loyalist descendant in her book, the Black Loyalist Heritage Society (BLHS) later identified him as John Farmer. Thanks to the stories that were passed down through the Farmer family, we have an amazing glimpse into the experiences of Canada’s earliest free Black settlers.
Calling his Loyalist ancestor “Grandfather”, John Farmer shared the following stories with Clara Dennis.
Slaves were used hard. If anything went wrong, they were tied up and lashed, then their backs were bathed in pickle. Grandfather had it done to him in slavery. He and grandmother, who were named Jupiter and Venus by their owners, were brought to Nova Scotia as slaves. Grandfather always liked Nova Scotia better than the South; he said there was better doin’s here. And it was Nova Scotia that gave Grandfather his freedom. After he became free, Grandfather built a house for his family — two girls and four boys he had. Nova Scotia was a wood country, and his house was of logs with moss stuffed between the logs. After Grandfather got earnin’ he built a frame house. He owned two houses in his lifetime.
As a result of the work of Debra Hill, genealogist and historian with the BLHS, documentary evidence has been found to reveal more of the story of John Farmer’s ancestors. They left New York City for Nova Scotia’s Port Mouton on board the Diannah on November 30, 1783. The 35 year-old Jupiter travelled with his wife Phillis (who was also known as Venus). He had escaped his master in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1777; Mrs. Farmer had escaped her New Jersey enslaver in 1776. Both Black Loyalists worked in the British army’s Wagon Master General Department, and both had their emancipation recognized with General Birch certificates. They were free when they came to Nova Scotia. Jupiter and his wife relocated to Birchtown following the fire that destroyed Port Mouton in the summer of 1784.
The contributions of Loyalist women have, until more recently, been overshadowed by the attention given to their husbands, fathers, and sons. It is remarkable that the Farmer family’s oral tradition included stories of their Black Loyalist female ancestor. Clara Dennis recorded the following from her conversation with John Farmer:
He described Jupiter’s wife as a “smart woman”. In addition to caring for her family, she went out to work “by the day”. She was also a knitter. She bought wool, carded and spun it and made countless socks for her own people and to sell.
She also helped Grandfather work the ground here among these rocks, Ah’ve heard father tell. They must have had the strength of oxen to move those rocks. They didn’t have cattle to haul the rocks out. They made hand-barrels and hand-barrelled them out. You can see the symptoms {sic} of the walls yet along there.
The Farmer family lore also held the memories of the early days of the Black Loyalists’ experiences in Birchtown and nearby Shelburne.
A lot o’ Black people came with the whites to Shelburne. Some ‘o the Blacks were escaped slaves, some disbanded soldiers. Ah’ve heard father say there was an old Col. Black {Blucke} — a man o’ colour—among them. The government gave them land and they planted themselves heah in the woods. You can see the remains of their habitations back heah yet. Many o’ the Blacks are buried around heah, but not even a stone marks where they lie.
Father often told about them — what a hard time they had livin’. They had nothin’. They had to get their bites wherever they could. They had to tear up the ground and plant what they could. After they cleared the land and riz what they could, they would walk to Shelburne to work at buildin’, blacksmithin’, lumberin’ — anything they could git. For pay they were given pork or meat or anything by them they hired with.
It was this way, it was: if you worked, you got whatever them that hired you thought was right and not very much o’ that. The winters were awful cold heah, but there was plenty o’ wood and they built fireplaces for themselves out o’ the rocks and stones. Ah’ve heard father tell when the Black people first saw the snow, they thought it was sugar.
Records at the BLHS note that Jupiter Farmer died in April 1835 in his 87th year — a remarkable age given the hardships he had to endure throughout his lifetime.
After her conversation with John Farmer, Clara Dennis explored the woods where he had indicated that the Black Loyalists had their first homes. There she met the current owner of the land, a man she did not identify. All she discovered were holes in the ground. Could these truly have been used as Black Loyalist shelters?
That’s all they ever were,” said the owner. “I’ve heard grandfather tell about them. The government gave the Negroes land here, but they had no houses, not even log cabins. They just dug a hole in the ground and put a little peaked roof over it. They chose a hill for their purpose because the ground was drier. The peak roof would shed the water when it rained. There was a small trapdoor in one side of the roof and the Negroes entered the house by dropping right down through. And that was the Black man’s home — a hole in the ground with a roof over the hole. The Negroes managed to exist the first year or so for the government gave them supplies, but it was a terrible deprivation when these supplies stopped.
The existence of “pit houses” was a fact of Nova Scotia’s history that was unknown outside of the Black community until 1998. Sixty-five years after Dennis’ visit to Birchtown, archaeologist Laird Niven excavated a habitat such as Farmer described. It was a depression measuring five feet by five feet and was about 20 inches deep. Although this “pit house” was built as a temporary measure, the evidence Niven discovered suggested that they were used for more than one year. Evidence from the 1998 archaeological dig verified what had only been retained in the oral history of Black Loyalist descendants dating back to 1783.
Clara Dennis’ conversation with John Farmer underscores the importance of drawing upon oral traditions –as well as documentary evidence and archeological discoveries– when constructing an accurate history of the Loyalist era. All three sources together reveal a much richer story than is possible by relying on just one alone.
To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at

Dispatches: Todd Braisted: Benjamin W. Thompson’s Black Dragoons
The Podcast of the Journal of the American Revolution
On this week’s Dispatches, host Brady Crytzer interviews researcher, writer, and JAR contributor Todd Braisted on loyalist Benjamin Thompson—later Count Mumford—and the provincial mounted regiment that included free Blacks and men freed from slavery he organized. While the British army floundered in North America, officials turned to African Americans to fill vital roles, though not the ones we often expect. From Listen in…

Letter from an Officer on Board his Majesty’ s Ship Chatham 24 March 1776, at Boston

It was not like breaking up a camp, where every man knows his duty; it was like departing your country, with your wives, your servants, your household furniture, and all your encumbrances.

The retreat of the Troops from this garrison [Boston] cannot fail to be differently represented in England; for which reason I have found time from our great hurry to give you some account of it. In the first place, the General’ s not receiving any letters or despatches from Government since the middle of October, could not fail of making everybody very uneasy; it looked as if we were left destitute to get out of a bad scrape as we liked best. Our provisions falling short, added to our discontent. The fleet afforded us no relief; little indeed was in their power — their own ill equipment was enough to make them as dissatisfied as ourselves. The Provincials, who knew exactly the state of our garrison, harassed us from their batteries, with an intention of making our people more dissatisfied, in hopes of desertions. Read more…

JAR Book Review: Valley Forge to Monmouth: Six Transformational Months of the American Revolution
Authour: Jim Stempel (McFarland, 2021)
Review by Patrick H. Hannum 22 March 2021
Captivated by the short preface, it was evident this was just not another history addressing a brief period of conflict during the American Revolution, but an effort by the author to place the events of a formative six-month period (December 1777 to June 1778) of the young army of the United States in perspective through detailed research and analysis. Using a creditable mix of primary and secondary sources, the author does a nice job of addressing the internal and external challenges contributing to the changes and development of the Continental Army, highlighting the role of key individuals contributing to this process.
The author organized his text into twenty short chapters chronologically addressing the army’s evolution, and weaves creditable research and analysis into his story. His organization and writing style allow the reader to digest the book in a series of short sessions or in longer segments if desired. The reader will not be disappointed in the author’s efforts.
The Continental Army that entered Valley Forge represented the third evolution of that army; the eighty-eight-battalion army created for the 1777 campaign season. The author provides an excellent description of an army that was demoralized but not defeated upon wintering at Valley Forge. The first half of the book addresses the complex challenges faced by General Washington and the Continental Army during the winter and spring of 1777-78, highlighting how conditions changed when the army emerged as a more effective fighting force. Read more…

The Aftermath of the Second Boston Tea Party
By J.L. Bell 20 March 2021
After the second Boston Tea Party in March 1774, what happened to the merchants and ship owners implicated in importing that tea? Did they regain the community’s trust?
Yesterday I discussed the political effect of the second Boston Tea Party in London. Today I’ll wrap up this topic with a look at the ripples from the event in Massachusetts.
Five local men were linked to the shipment of tea on the Fortune. All of them insisted that they hadn’t expected the tea to cause such trouble and wanted to send it back. How did the public accept those assurances?
The captain of the Fortune was Benjamin Gorham. Alas, not only were there other men of that name in Massachusetts, but two had the title “captain” from either maritime or military service. One was born in 1715, died in 1788, and is buried in Barnstable. Read more… (includes Loyalists Henry Lloyd and William Bowes)

Resource: North Haven Annals
A history of the town [now New Haven] from first settlement to its first centennial 1886
By Sheldon B. Thorpe
New Haven Conn
Press of the Price, Lee & Adkins Co..
Book: page 252 prints this information about men joining the Loyalist forces.
Google books display: page 268 at
“The cry began to be raised of persecution and proscription of the Church of England, but when it was seen that within its enclosure were found not only open but secret enemies of the new born nation, it could not, of course escape criticism. In this connecyion is submit5ted the following document strangely preserved through the years, and whose authenticity cannot be questioned:

To his honor, John Martin
Commissary general at New York,
With speed
North Haven, February 12, 1778.
We, the inhabitants of North Haven whose names are underwritten are The king’s royal subjects
And well wishers to his majesty, George the third. We have therefore provided a considerable quantity of provisions and tobacco for the use of his army, and intend to send at the first opportunity we have to New York or Long Island. We have likewise several yound men that intends to join the Regulars the first chance they have. We hope the God of Heaven will succor you in your endeavors to subdue the Rebels to your subjection, so we must conclude your hearty friends and well wishers.

  • Walter Monson
  • Abraham Blakeslee
  • Zophar Blakeslee
  • Lemuel Bradley
  • Joel Blakeslee
  • Samuel Mix
  • Ebenezer Heaton
  • Timothy Heaton
  • Samuel Butler
  • Benjamon Pierpoint
  • Isaiah Blakeslee

Thanks to Ann Hep for this reference.

Washington’s Quill: Correcting the Record: George Washington to Samuel Huntington, April 10, 1781
by Jeffrey L. Zvengrowski, Assistant Editor on 19 March 2021
The editors at the Papers of George Washington have determined that the recipient’s copy and draft of Gen. George Washington’s letter to Samuel Huntington, president of Congress, dated April 10, 1781, must have been written weeks later, in May. Scholars have taken the date of Washington’s letter at face value ever since the prominent popular historian Benson J. Lossing first transcribed it in his Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution, which was published in the early 1850s.1 But activities described in documents from May 1781 illuminate what should be the date of this letter to Huntington. Read more…

Snuff Accessories: A History of the 1700 and 1800s
By Geri Walton 5 June 2015
Snuff, a pulverized form of tobacco, became popular from the mid-1600s to the mid-1800s and was more popular than smoking. It was enjoyed by all classes and by both sexes, despite certain critics claiming it “deformed the nose, stained the skin, [and] tainted the breath.” The popularity of snuff resulted in a highly lucrative business not only for tobacco growers but also for manufacturers of snuff accessories. That was because snuff takers needed a variety of snuff accessories to accommodate their snuffing habit. This wide variety of snuff accessories was something the English Elizabethan dramatist and pamphleteer, Thomas Dekker, termed “artillery” and included such things as snuff-boxes, snuff jar or bottles, snuff mills, snuff rasps, and snuff spoons. Read more…
An example Snuff boxes, designed to be pocket sized, were often decorated with miniature portraits or floral paintings. This porcelain and silver box is adorned with delicate pink roses and dates back to 1773.

Book Article: Stuart Manson’s Sacred Grounds: Loyalist Cemeteries of Eastern Ontario
This article by Francis Racine in the Standard-Freeholder on 22 Mar 2021 provides more perspectives on Stuart and his book which was recently noted ion Loyalist Trails.
Cornwall and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry’s oldest United Empire Loyalist cemeteries — some dating back to the late 1700s — are the subject of a new history volume published earlier this month by local research historian Stuart Manson. read more…

Books: A Loyalist’s Trilogy By Gerald Richardson Brown UE
My latest book, North to Crying Rock was published in September 2020, the third volume in a trilogy in which three stories are linked by the contents of an ancient sea chest brought to America by early Loyalist settlers.

Road to Ganneious, (vol.1) tells the story of the European roots of a Loyalist family and generations of the family as they migrated from the deep mountains of Austria to the ‘New World’. In the year 1620 Jörg leaves his family home in southern Austria. He joins Maximilian’s Bavarian army where he meets Katarina in Prague and they start a line of tough survivors: Jörg, the warrior; Hans, the refugee; Leonardt of Zell; Georg the nomad. Georg, whose forebears survived premature death, the plague, and religious wars, finds a home in the Neckar valley of Germany. He marries Margaretha and son Eberhardt is born. Eberhardt, when a child of six is brought to America in a sailing ship in 1738 by his parents who settle on the Hudson River. As an adult he marries, has a family and is farming near Albany when the Revolution breaks out. Eberhardt refuses to sign the Patriot Oath and joins a Provincial regiment of the British army where he sees action at Bennington and Saratoga. After the war he settles on the site of a former Iroquois village and French mission, Ganneious, on the Bay of Quinté in what is now Ontario. He is the progenitor of the Wager family of that area.
In The Villager, (vol.2) the fictional character Lenard, fifth great grandson of Eberhardt, grows up in a village in Ontario during hard times and war. Part one describes his Loyalist pedigree. The village was founded and settled by third and fourth generation Loyalists and later by Irish Protestant families, which made for a distinct cultural society in a time of economic hardship. Part two is about Lenard’s coming of age in the village, which is rich in unique characters: Kerwin the bully; Marvin, the practical joker; Moose, the thief; Zeke, the shell-shocked soldier; Jerky, the murderer; Murphy, the eccentric barber; Lotus, the innocent; Nettie, the tease; and Mrs. Hudson, the seducer. In Part three, now an adult working in the city, Lenard returns to his village to find what he has lost in pursuing a professional career. In visiting the village he laments its cultural diminishment, and hopes for its renaissance. But the visit changes his life. More…
In Crying Rock, (vol.3), Lenard, now a retired professor, flees his earthquake devastated city, and grieving for his murdered wife and lost world finds refuge in a fictional village high in the mountains of coastal British Columbia, itself a refuge for the Indigenous inhabitants of their flooded village on the coast. Here, free from climate catastrophe Lenard finds love again. Cedar, a gentle artist, re-awakens his soul only later to reject his friendship. He meets an English widow who teaches children of Crying Rock the mysteries of the English language. Odilia and the professor become soul mates in adventure and partners in mature love. But as their love deepens, she discovers the dark secrets of his past in which the ghost of a deceased wife haunts their relationship.
Although this book has no explicit reference to the Loyalist story my intent was to create a metaphor for the wilderness experience of the early Loyalists. When the protagonist’s house burns in the earthquake he and others become refugees. Similarly, the Indigenous village on the coast is flooded by rising sea levels making its inhabitants refugees. A wise and wealthy Grand Chief opens his relocated village on traditional tribal lands to white settlement, but keeping strict control of the population and the tribal lands to avoid the exploitation of nature for profit. This futuristic village conceived in an era of climate change and today’s cultural awareness is meant to reflect the utopian hope of the early Loyalists and the New England settlers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Conundrum Press of Wolfville, NS, is the publisher of these books.
Available at online bookstores

Personal Connection to Orlo Miller and “Raiders of The Mohawk”
I read with interest in January issues of Loyalist Trails the referencea to Orlo Miller and his book “Raiders of The Mohawk”, which relates to Butler’s Rangers.
I have been familiar with that book since it came out in 1954 and immediately came into my hands. I live in London, Ontario, where Orlo lived and wrote. I have an autographed copy which I received from the IODE in Grade 8 for having the highest marks in Social Studies that year — an interest that I believe I came by due to my father having a similar interest and passing historical details on to me — particularly military.
I read the book a number of times, and so did my late father, but it would be many years later after I married a New Brunswicker and began family research that he found out that his ancestry traces back to the 42nd. Highlanders (Black Watch) original settlers of The Naswaak Valley, York Co., New Brunswick.. Out came the book again from sitting patiently on the shelf, because the 42nd. Highlanders saw service in several places in the New York area. I wanted to to see if there was any mention of those places in Orlo’s book – of course there was.
Marianne (Allen) Donovan, London, ON

Loyalist Quarterly Newsletter, March 2021, by Paul J. Bunnell UE
Published since 2004, the March 2021 issue is now available. At nineteen pages, it features:

  • Black Loyalists in New Brunswick: By Stephen Davidson
  • UE Loyalists Bridge Annex 2021
  • Sign up for Loyalist Trails
  • Loyalist of Bermuda
  • Loyalists of Bahamas
  • Loyalists of East Florida
  • Loyalists of West Florida (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana)
  • Georgia Loyalists

Vol. 18 Part 1 March 2021 Quarterly Issue “In Publication since 2004”
Editor: Paul J. Bunnell, UE, Author, Koasek Abenaki Chief;; 978-337-9085, 49 Pleasant St., #106, Alstead, NH 03602
The Only U.S. Newsletter Devoted to The study of The American Loyalists
Subscription Rate: $22 U.S. $24 Can. $5 each copy — (March, June, September, December issues)


The Family History Library: Hessian Soldiers. 1 Apr 11:00 ET

Thursday, 1 April 2021. This will be held at 1:00 PM MDT. This class is titled “Hessian Soldiers: Their History and How to Find Them in America and Germany.” Follow the link to learn more, register, and attend:

Fort Plain: VALCOUR The 1776 Campaign That Saved the Cause of Liberty – Jack Kelly

Monday, April 5, 2021 – 7 PM EST
During the summer of 1776, just three days after patriots declared independence from Britain, an enemy invasion from Canada loomed. In response, citizen soldiers of the new nation mounted a heroic defense. Patriots constructed a small fleet of gunboats on Lake Champlain in northern New York and confronted the Royal Navy in a desperate three-day battle near Valcour Island. Their effort stunned the British and forced the enemy to call off the invasion.
More details and registration.

Gov. Simcoe Branch: “WHEREAS it is Unjust . . .” by Jean Rae Baxter Wed 7 April 7:30pm

The title is the opening words of the Preamble to “An Act to prevent the further introduction of SLAVES and to limit the Term of Contracts for SERVITUDE within the Province.” The focus is this legislation, introduced on the initiative of Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe to the Upper Canada House of Assembly on May 31, 1793. Look at the conditions leading up to it and to its lasting consequences. This involves a critical look at a time when individuals from almost all levels of society in Upper Canada owned slaves. Finally, it points ahead to the role which the people of Canada would play during the last decades of slavery in the United States.
Jean Rae Baxter wrote her first historical novel, The Way Lies North (2007) telling the story of a Loyalist family driven from their home by the violence of the American Revolution. Sunsequent books focused on the issues facing the native people at this time and on the plight of the enslaved Black population. The Knotted Rope, the sixth and final book (to be published in the Fall, 2021) in the “Forging a Nation” series, is set in 1793 during the last days of slavery in Upper Canada.
April 7, at 7:30pm, on Zoom; More details and register here

Toronto Branch UELAC: Quakers and the American Revolution Tues. 13 Apr @7:30

During the American Revolution Quakers were under tremendous pressure by the rebels for their refusal to bear arms and it is no surprise that when some Quakers did assist the British, they were disowned by Quaker Meetings for not maintaining their neutral position. Some of these “Loyalist” Quakers claimed a grant as UE Loyalists and remained Quakers within Canada.
Randy Saylor. Randy has had extensive experience transcribing Quaker Records for the Canadian Friends (Quakers) Historical Association, a project that continues to this day. He will share his knowledge of Quaker Loyalist history and their families, as well as available online resources for Quaker research.
To register, contact Sally Gustin, Programme,

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