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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2007 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2007-32: August 19, 2007


Damaged Loyalists: Alcoholism, by Stephen Davidson

On October 11, 1752 John Jarvis was born into the home of Samuel and Martha Jarvis of Stamford, Connecticut. Samuel was the town clerk and warden of St. John's Anglican Church. It was a congregation that, like the seaside town, would be divided by the fratricidal strife of the War of Independence.

The Jarvis family would for the most part, side with the loyalists, finding themselves scattered to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Upper Canada by the end of the war. William Jarvis became a provincial secretary and registrar in York; Munson Jarvis became a successful businessman in Saint John. However John Jarvis did not share his brothersí success or resilience. His experience of the Revolution was so crushing that he became a "damaged" loyalist, carrying psychological wounds from the war for the remainder of his life. From testimony that John gave before the Connecticut legislature in 1779, it is clear that he went through the Revolution seeking the path of least resistance. It was the beginning of his doomed struggle to find peace in life.

John testified that he was "one of those unhappy persons who has been over to the enemy and been in their service, and by his folly is brought into a most disagreeable and miserable situation." John claimed that he couldn't decide which side to support at the beginning of the Revolution. Then "on the 20th of December, 1775, he went over to Long Island, was taken up and forced into the British service, from which he escaped September 28, 1776 and found his way home again." John was subsequently arrested and put in Fairfield County Jail. Three years later he stood before the patriot-filled legislature of Connecticut to acknowledge his "great offense", hoping for merciful treatment. He promised to be a "faithful member of the United States." The legislature did not believe him. John Jarvis was forced to leave Stamford with the loyalist refugees.

John and his wife Sally found themselves in Kingston, New Brunswick, a settlement made up of Connecticut loyalists. His brother Munson established a trading company in Saint John, became involved in local politics, and rose in prominence. His brother William had fled to England where he was an advocate for his refugee siblings for many years. John's sister Polly eventually settled in Kingston after the death of her husband. But the presence of his older sister, the success of his brothers, and the company of his wife and daughter were not enough to give John the support he needed to begin life in the wilds of New Brunswick.

By 1788 the trauma the Revolution had inflicted on John Jarvis became painfully evident to the settlers of Kingston and to the larger Jarvis family. In an August letter to a family member, Munson Jarvis described his younger brother with the tragic phrase, "liquor has got to be his master".

John's problems with alcohol had evidently started after his arrival in New Brunswick, since his brother's comment indicates it gradually became the focus of his life. It must have been an especially strong addiction, as John was in such dire straits that his brother Munson decided to buy him a house in Kingston. Had he not done so, it seems the Jarvis family would have been compelled to stay in their log house, the first shelter that each loyalist built along the St. John River to endure the harsh winter of 1783-84. Munson's offer to buy a house must have been prompted by his concern that John's alcoholism had forced his family to remain in the "temporary" log cabin for the last five years.

In February of 1789, about six months after buying his alcoholic brother a house, Munson described John as being "much the same way". Whatever hopes Munson had that a proper home would help brighten John's outlook on life had been dashed. In the same letter John's daughter was described as "a promising one had she but proper attention paid to her. Sally is a very good-hearted woman. I sincerely feel for her and her daughter."

As in our own day, it is the family of an alcoholic that bears the greatest consequences of addiction. John's wife was obviously trying to make the best life she could with an alcoholic husband, but their daughter was not receiving the support and guidance two parents should have been giving her.

By 1795 John Jarvis was described as "more steady". Three years later, John's brother Seymour wrote Munson from New York to say that he was glad to hear of the improvement in his alcoholic brother's life. However, Seymour doubted that John's happier condition would last. "Bad habits are not easily overcome".

There were no programs for alcohol dependency in the late 18th century. John Jarvis had sought the comfort of an alcoholic stupor to help him cope with life at the close of the Revolution. Alcoholism made him dependent upon his siblings and deprived his family of a supportive father and husband. John Jarvis had his moments --even months -- of sobriety, but in the end, he could not completely escape his dependency upon alcohol. Sadly, his addiction would last longer than all the years he had lived in Connecticut. John died at the age of 92, sixty-two years after his arrival in New Brunswick with fellow refugees.

Many other United Empire Loyalists must not have been able to withstand the pressures of settlement in a wilderness, far from friends and familiar places. They, too, may have found solace in alcohol, but history has turned away from them in shame. John Jarvis was just one of the "damaged loyalists" to come to New Brunswick from Stamford, Connecticut. In the next issue of Loyalist Trails, we will learn the story of a successful lawyer who was overcome by depression.

...Stephen Davidson

Thoughts on Oriskany

I had not thought about the Battle at Oriskany this year on August 6th but on August 6, 1777, our great-great-great grandfather and his father were both killed in the battle that day on the American side. My great-great grandfather was born two months later on October 6, 1777. In some ways our family has more connection to the American side than the British because of the Battle at Oriskany. That was on the Fink side of the family. Our Nelles ancestors were patriotic to the American side as well. It was our mother's family who were Loyalists.

After I found this out I could not help but think how badly the old great-great-great-great grandmother must have felt losing both her husband and her son in the battle on the same day. Such was life for these pioneers.

...Ellen Tree

Loyalist Descendants Elected To Important Masonic Positions

Grand Lodge (for Ontario) took place in July, and two Loyalist descendants have been elected to important positions in their respectiive districts, and are now becoming quite busy with the duties which come with the new jobs. . Congratulations to Bob McBride UE and Harry Danford UE who are now District Deputy Grand Masters.

...Peter W. Johnson. President, UELAC

Branch Projects Showcase Loyalist Heritage

According to The Old Farmerís Almanac, we have now survived another Dogís Days of summer. However, the weather reports that I see continue to forecast that hot, hot weather when I prefer to find something to do in the cool of the shade. Evidently there are several branches out there that accomplish a great deal during our warm summer season. This past week, I mailed cheques to Sir John Butler (Niagara) Branch and the Halifax-Dartmouth Branch to assist them with three different projects that will enhance our efforts to showcase Loyalist heritage in our communities. SJBN Branch actually is working on two different projects. While one committee continues to research Loyalist settlement along the Niagara, another group of volunteers has taken on the challenge of placing markers in the Loyalist cemeteries in the region. Halifax-Dartmouth Branch is assisting the Loyalist Landing 2008 Society with the construction of longboats for the 225th anniversary celebrations next summer.

Earlier this year, the Col. Edward Jessup Branch and the Grand River Branch were both successful with their requests for assistance. For further information, see the UELAC index of current and completed Branch Projects.

...Fred H. Hayward, Chairman, Grants Committee UELAC

"Rocking Dory" Won at Loyalist Landing 2008 Society Fund Raiser

The Loyalist Landing 2008 Society at the recent Shelburne County Exhibition drew for an unusual prize, a rocking dory built and generously donated by Curtis Mahaney, who was there to draw the winning ticket. Curtis is a master dory builder in Shelburne.

His father was Sidney Mahaney, a master dory builder himself and a NS dory-building icon. In 1983, when Charles & Diana visited Shelburne for the 200th Loyalist anniversary, he built and presented them with a miniature dory. There have also been all kinds of documentaries on him - he died at the age of 95 and was still building dories up to the end. The Shelburne Museum Complex includes the Williams Dory Shop which has been turned into a museum showing how dories are built, some of Sidney's finished dories, and assorted videos and photos of him. Visit the virtual dory shop.

You can view a picture of the "rocking dory" at

The raffle raised a significant amount, which will be used to help fund Loyalist Landing events through 2008.

...Suzanne Mahaney, Secretary, Loyalist Landing 2008 Society

Halifax Branch Makes Donation towards Construction of Loyalist Landing Longboats

The UELAC is pleased to announce that, as a result of an initiative by Mr. Lewis Perry, who heads the Halifax-Dartmouth Branch, the Loyalist Landing 2008 Society will receive a $450 grant to apply towards the cost of two longboats that are being built for the Loyalist Landing celebrations in Shelburne, NS next year. The Society advises that the funds have been earmarked for the hardware, glues and lots of stainless steel screws that will be needed. Anything left over will be put against the cost of the wooden oars that are being constructed by Fancy's Oars & Paddles, a small business near Mahone Bay that has provided oars for boats along the South Shore and beyond for many years. The LL08 Society extends its appreciation to Mr. Perry and the UELAC for their continued support of the 2008 celebrations. You're invited to check out the calendar of events for next year.

...Suzanne Mahaney, Secretary, Loyalist Landing 2008 Society

Last Post: Robert Muir Powell UE

We are sorry to report that Robert Muir Powell, UE an honorary member of Colonel John Butler Branch UELAC passed away on Thursday, August 16th. Bob was a dedicated member of Colonel John Butler Branch for more than 55 years. He served as Treasurer and was especially proud to serve as Standard Bearer for many years. Our deepest sympathy to his nephews, nieces and their families and to Bob's special friend Laura Smylski, UE.

Bob is resting at Butler Funeral Home 424 Niagara St., (south of Scott) St. Catharines on Sunday, August 19th from 1- 4. Funeral Service at the chapel on Monday, August 20th at 1:30. As expressions of sympathy the family would appreciate donations to the charity of your choice.

...Rod and Bev Craig

Last Post: Wilma Leona Wood UE

In Belleville on Friday August 17, 2007. Wilma (Bryden) of Flinton, B.A.; U.E.L., retired educator for 40 years, in her 82nd year. Wife of Gordon Wood for 60 years. Mother of Robert (Bonnie and the late Nancy), Grafton; Alvin (Donna), Battersea; James (Donna), Flinton; Audrey Brown (Robert Moore), Cloyne; Tracey (Richard) Fifield, Black River, NY. Sister of Freda Bovard, Roy, Finlay, and Robert Bryden, Linda Forbes, and the late Jack, Watson, Grace McDuff. Donations: C.N.I.B., Diabetes Association, Canadian Cancer Society or Riverside United Church.

...Lynne Cook

Information on George Lawes and 18 Engineers

Captain/Lieut. George LAWES & 18 men of the Royal Highland Emigrants, 1st. Battalion served as Engineers during Sept/Oct. 1777 - accompanying Gen. BURGOYNE from Canada to the Battle of Saratoga, (NY). Their Detachment consisted of 6 Officers and men attached to the artificers as engineers. Most of Burgoyne's British Forces were subsequently captured, wounded or killed. Many of the survivors/prisoners became part of the "Saratoga Convention Army". The " R.H.E." was later designated as the 84th Regiment.

I am hopeful that someone has have the names of the 18 men? Any data would be greatly appreciated.

...Cal Craig, UE {craigcb1104 AT hotmail DOT com} how do I email him?

To protect the people who send in queries from unwanted spam email, the online edition of Loyalist Trails no longer uses direct hyperlinks for their email addresses. Simply rewrite "name AT website DOT net" as and sent your email to that address. For example, "doug DOT grant AT insurance-canada DOT ca" is Contact Doug with questions, or to be put in touch with someone whose email address is not listed.