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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2009 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2009-04: January 25, 2009


Benjamin Thompson, Loyalist Scientist -- © Stephen Davidson

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once revealed that he thought America's three most impressive minds all lived in the latter part of the 18th century. They were Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Benjamin Thompson. The first two names are familiar ones; the third name is that of a loyalist who was born in Woburn, Massachusetts in 1753.

Although there is a statue of Benjamin Thompson in Germany and Massachusetts, a mosaic portrait of him on New Hampshire's Dartmouth College campus, and medals awarded in his name in England and the United States, the man is virtually unknown. His story is one of the many forgotten chapters of loyalist history.

Benjamin Thompson had a keen, inquiring mind from a very early age. At 19, he was teaching school in Massachusetts. His paper on the physics of electricity so impressed the Rev. Timothy Walker that he was asked to move to Rumford (now Concord), New Hampshire to set up a school.

Benjamin had the opportunity to court the minister's widowed daughter, Sarah Rolf. The fact that his sweetheart was 14 years his senior was not an impediment for the teenager. When the two were married, Benjamin became a very rich man, the owner of two-thirds of the land in Rumford. The couple moved to the coast, setting up house in Portsmouth where Governor Wentworth made Thompson a major in the colony's militia.

As the clouds of the revolution began to gather, Thompson opposed the rebels and sent reports of colonial troop movements to the British command in Boston. (His reports were written in an invisible ink that he invented.) Rebels attacked Thompson's home in Portsmouth. He fled to safety in Boston, abandoning his wife and infant daughter forever.

In March of 1776, Thompson sailed for England. There he developed a new system of marine signaling for the British navy. At age 26, he was elected to the Royal Society. When Thompson was made a lieutenant-colonel in the King's American Dragoons, he sailed back to America to raise a loyalist regiment. However, the war was almost over, so the budding scientist did not see much action.

Thompson returned to London where the Royal Society published his experiments with gunpowder in 1781, establishing his name as a scientist. The government made him a colonel in recognition of his military service, and knighted him "Sir Benjamin Thompson". If this was all that the Massachusetts loyalist had done, he would have had a full life, but he was only on the threshold of many more achievements.

Sir Thompson travelled through Europe, and by 1785 he had accepted an invitation to be an aide-de-camp for Prince-elector Karl Theodor of Bavaria. During his eleven years of service to the prince, Thompson became a pioneer of social reform.

He established free schools for underprivileged children, as well as establishing poor houses, industrial schools, and a veterinarians' college. He took beggars from the street to manufacture military uniforms. By studying nutrition, Thompson devised a nutritious soup for the poor that became known as Rumford Soup. He introduced the potato and turnip (previously considered poisonous) to central Europe. Thompson invented wax candles to replace those made of beef-fat and tallow.

For all of his service to Bavaria, Benjamin Thompson was made "Count von Rumford of the Holy Roman Empire" in 1792. His innovations continued. Rumford tinkered with stoves and cooking implements. He created thermal underwear, central heating, and the pressure cooker. Rumford invented a shadow photometer and established the unit of luminous intensity that was the international standard until 1940. He also invented a calorimeter to compare the heat of combustion of various fuels. One of Rumford's greatest accomplishments was Munich's Englischer Garten. He reclaimed 600 acres of a large wasteland, creating a wooded park with lakes, patios, and drives. To this day, it is still one of the largest urban public parks in the world.

Rumford returned to England in 1798 where he invented a new fireplace. Typically, stone fireplaces filled homes with smoke and produced very little heat. Rumford's fireplace radiated more heat back into a room, put the fire nearer the occupants, and was designed to send smoke directly up the chimney. By 1800, the Rumford fireplace was being installed in homes around the world, only falling out of fashion when coal became the new source of heat.

Pure science benefited from Rumford's insights. He noticed that heat was generated from the friction involved in the process of boring cannons. Up until 1798, it was commonly believed that heat was a substance called "caloric". Rumford theorized that heat was a "mode of vibratory motion" and not an actual substance. His theory was ignored by the scientists of the day, but eventually his discovery that heat and work were equivalent would be recognized as true.

The loyalist count co-founded the Royal Institution of London in 1799. He also endowed two medals -- one for the Royal Society and one for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and provided funds to create a professorship at Harvard University.

Rumford eventually moved to France where he invented a coffee pot with a sieve to strain out the coffee grounds. On August 21, 1814, Rumford died at the age of 61.

The king of Bavaria commissioned the creation of a bronze statue of Benjamin Thompson in 1867. Today it stands on Maximillian Strasse in Munich, depicting the loyalist in a military uniform with a long cape thrown over his shoulders. He holds a walking stick in his right hand and a scroll with the plans for Munich's gardens in his left. A replica of this statue was donated to the citizens of Woburn, Massachusetts in 1900. They placed it on the front lawn of their public library.

So take a look around you as you sip your next cup of perked coffee, and you may just see some of the amazing array of devices that were invented by this loyalist scientist.

To secure permission to reprint this article, contact the author at {stephendavids AT gmail DOT com} how do I email him?

[New Brunswick Branch has posted a web page about Stephen Davidson, which also indicates how to order his books.]

UELAC Conference "Loyalist Settlement Experience: 225th" Registration Form

The annual UELAC Conference & AGM is being held in the Central East Region by Bay of Quinte Branch, June 11 - 14, 2009. For more information about the 2009 UELAC Conference & AGM, please refer to the website and to page 8 of the Fall 2008 issue of the Loyalist Gazette where the costs were printed. The registration form will soon - in the next week - be available on the conference web site. In the meantime, a PDF copy is here.

Quilted Cypher Badge - Following a Thread

In reference to the article "Following a Thread of Needle Arts" in Loyalist Trails 2009-03 (Jan. 18, 2009), perhaps our readers would like to see a picture of the quilt I made in 2000. The Grand River Branch of the UELAC and the Eva Brook Donly Museum in Simcoe, had applied for a Millennium grant to make an area of the museum represent the early loyalist history. This was done with wall murals and artifacts in addition to the dedication of a Loyalist library. It seemed fitting to place our UELAC Member's Badge in the form of the quilt in the library at the EBD museum.

The quilt, made of cotton and gold lamé fabrics, was both machine appliquéd and hand quilted. The leaves and the acorns are all handmade and are 3-dimensional.

Annually, the Grand River Branch purchases books to be placed in this library. Over the past years the museum with its library has been one of the best places to do loyalist research.

...Cathy Thompson, Genealogist Grand River Branch.

Celebrating the Centenary of the Loyalist Settlement in Upper Canada (Part 1)

It may have been the newspaper notice of the upcoming 175th anniversary for the city of Toronto, reminders of our approaching centenary for UELAC or even the picture of a ribbon worn back in the summer of 1884. Some times it does not take much to encourage research into our past collective history. The discovery of a copy of The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada by the United Empire Loyalists 1784-1884, published by Rose Publishing Company in 1885, in the Archives of the Hamilton Branch UELAC revealed not only what was done to mark the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists in Upper Canada but also reminded me of the rhetorick of our leaders of the 19th century. Over the next few weeks, we will look back at the celebrations staged in Adolphustown, Toronto and Niagara as described in the book published by the Centennial Committee post-celebration, but to experience the power of the speakers, readers are encouraged to view the text at Perhaps the review of Loyalist epoch, the expression of current political concerns as well as the names of those involved will lead to new personal discoveries. I for one hope that someone will share the sheet music for "A Loyalist Song" as sung by Miss Foster of Guelph at the Toronto celebrations, 3 July 1884.

The text's introduction implies the idea for celebrating the Ontario settlement by U. E. Loyalists was the result of observations of what was taking place south of the border.

Some time in the summer of 1876, at a meeting of the York Pioneers, held in Toronto, the late Mr. Richard H. Oates suggested that as the United States were celebrating the centennial of their Declaration of Independence, it would be but right for the descendants of the United Empire Loyalists to hold a celebration in honour of the gallant efforts of their fathers to maintain the unity of the Empire, and in grateful recognition of the sacrifice made by them in founding this Province, as a British community.

Dr. Wm. Canniff pointed out to the society that the settlement of Upper Canada began in 1784, by the arrival of the Loyalists, and that 1884 would be the proper date for holding the centennial celebration in Ontario. Mr. Oates coincided with the view, and was looking forward to taking part in it with much anticipation, when death overtook him....

On the twenty-ninth of October 1880, Mr. Canniff Haight, in the Toronto Daily Mail, suggested "an Exhibition, or some other demonstration in honour of the men who, through privation and toil, laid the foundation of this free and prosperous Province." This suggestion was noticed by the Picton, Belleville and Kingston papers.

Nothing further was done in the matter until 1882, when the following letter was addressed to the Mayor of Toronto, by Dr. Wm. Canniff-

St. James' Square,
Toronto, 14th Dec., 1882

To his Worship the Mayor:

Dear Sir, --I am greatly interested in the proposed semi-centennial celebration of the Incorporation of Toronto, and beg to congratulate you on having conceived the idea of such a demonstration. But my object in addressing you is to call your attention to the fact that 1884 will be the centennial of the first settlement of Upper Canada, when the pioneers - U.E. Loyalists, took possession of their lands along the St. Lawrence, from Kingston westward along the shores of the Bay of Quinte, and on the Niagara frontier. It has occurred to my mind that perhaps it might be possible and deemed ad visa le to widen the basis of the commemoration and celebrate at the same time the centennial of the settlement of the Province. Of course, to do this it would be necessary to procure the co-operation of the other cities and the towns of the Province. There has been something said in the eastern papers about observing the centennial, and Kingston was mentioned as the place most suitable for the purpose. But as there is some doubt about the matter, perhaps the centennial of the Province, and the semi-centennial of the capital might be appropriately held in Toronto. This proposition may not be deemed feasible, but it seems to be a question not unworthy of consideration, and is therefore, respectfully submitted to you for consideration....

In accordance with the above suggestion, the Toronto Semi-Centennial Committee set apart one day for the U.E. Loyalist demonstration.

Circulars were sent to all the Wardens of counties and Mayors of cities asking for their cooperation. ....At Adolphustown and Niagara, where the early settlements actually took place, the descendants of the U.E. Loyalists decided to hold local celebrations....The Adolphustown celebration was fixed for the sixteenth of June 1884. The Toronto celebration was fixed for the third of July, and the Niagara one for the fourteenth of August.

It is no coincidence that the AGM for UELAC is being held at Adolphustown this June 11-14 , site of the first celebration. In the next three weeks, we will prepare for our participation at our annual conference with a review of each of those events of the summer of 1884.

...Frederick H. Hayward, President, UELAC

More on "Michael Grant Ignatieff: a Loyalist?"

Last weeks' Loyalist Trails indicated a probable Loyalist connection for Michael Ignatieff and requested more information. Several readers responded with the following:

(1) From Brandt Zštterberg, Bay of Quinte Branch

Peter Fisher's father was Lodewick Fisher of 4th Bn New Jersey Volunteers.

Also, see The Revolutionary War in Bergen County (p. 75) on Google Books.

(2) From Libby Hancocks, Dominion Genealogist, Gov. Simcoe Branch

I found the death cert, of Ann Connell Fisher Parkin which gave her parents as William Fisher and Charity Ann French. The 1861 census Carleton Co, NB, lists the family as William 52, Charity A 40, Ann 12, E Maria 10, George E 8 and Martha 2.

NB Loyalists by Sharon Dubeau, lists Lewis or Ludwig Fisher b 1740 Staten Island, NY, d 1816 Fredericton, and his wife Mary Barbara 1749-1841, with three children arrived Fredericton 1783. The youngest son was Peter 1782-1848.

Lewis was in the New Jersey Volunteers. (This is not actually proof that it is the same Peter but the dates are the same so I assume it is the same man.)

In Vol 2 "The Old Burying Ground, Fredericton, NB" they are all listed and connections are given.

(3) From Eric Langley, New Brunswick Branch, who uncovered several possible/probable loyalist connections

Michael Grant Ignatieff descends from very interesting and accomplished families, and through his mother, his ancestors include several Loyalists. She was Jessie Alison Grant, daughter of William Lawson Grant and Maude Erskine Parkin.

Her father, William Lawson Grant, Queen's University Professor of History and Principal of Upper Canada College, was descended through his father, George Monro Grant, from Scottish immigrants into New Brunswick in 1826, and through his mother, Jessie Lawson, from the Lawson family of Halifax. Her grandfather William Lawson, Sr. was born in Halifax in 1772 to the pre-Loyalists, John and Sarah (Shatford) Lawson, who had arrived there from Boston in 1760. Jessie Lawson's mother was Francis Mary ?, (1811-1898) who may or may not have been of a Nova Scotia Loyalist family.

Her mother, Maude Erskine (Parkin) Grant, was born at Fredericton in 1880, to George Robert Parkin and Annie Connell Fisher. George Parkin, the youngest of thirteen children, was born at Salisbury, New Brunswick, west of Moncton, in 1846, son of John Parkin, a Yorkshire farmer who immigrated to New Brunswick in 1817, and Elizabeth McLean, said to be a descendant of Nova Scotia Loyalists, born in 1802. There were several Loyalists of the name McLean/MacLean, and it is unknown from which family Elizabeth derived.

Annie Connell (Fisher) Parkin, born in 1858 at St. Stephen, Charlotte County, N.B., was the eldest daughter of William Fisher (1818-1899) of Fredericton, and Charity Ann French (1827-1876). William Fisher was a son of New Brunswick historian Peter Fisher, born at Staten Island, New York in 1782, son of Lewis Fisher and Mary Barbara Till of New Jersey, who were Loyalists to New Brunswick in 1783, settling at Fredericton. Charity Ann (French) Fisher, was probably a descendant, perhaps granddaughter, of the Loyalist, Charity French of Connecticut, who settled at Dipper Harbour, Saint John County in 1783.

Online research can be done at the following:

- The New Brunswick Genealogical Society;
- Our Maritime Ties;
- Fisher family @;
- Glengarry Family @ RootsWeb;
- G.R. Parkin @ Dictionary of Canadian Biography;
- Daniel Belding @ Chance Harbour.

Robbie Burns and UE Loyalists

Fourteen years after the United Empire Loyalists arrived , the Saint Andrew's Society of Saint John was formed. This weekend, over 170 members will gather to celebrate Robbie Burns Day under the watchful eye of the newly elected president, James B. McKenzie UE, Regional Vice-President for the Atlantic Region. Jim doesn't miss a trick when it comes to promoting the UELAC in his community.


Last Post

Albert Eddy Simms

Peacefully at the North Bay General Hospital, on Monday January 12th 2008, after a brief illness, at the age of 89 years. Husband of Margaret Emmeline Lillew who predeceased him December 10th, 2007. The love of his life, they met in Englehart, were married there on July 18, 1942, and were devoted to each other for the next 65 years. Father of Carla Drury (Bob St. Jean) of New Liskeard, and Nancy Simms of Mississauga, grandfather of Steven Drury (Shelbie) and Jason Drury (Tammy) and great grandfather of Brendan, Chase and Claire. Brother of Boyd Simms (Dorothy) and Doris Rae Brownlee (Bill) all of North Bay, and the late Margaret Kleven who predeceased him March 3rd, 2008. Born in Timmins to the late Abbey and Eunice Simms, Eddy began working for the Ontario Northland Railway at the age of 19. With the exception of WW II when he served overseas from 1942 - 1945 with the Signal Corp, his entire adult life was spent with the railway. He retired as the Chief Dispatcher in 1979 after 41 years of service. Eddy will be remembered as a strong independent man, selfless and always thinking of others. Always there for his family he was very community-minded and was involved with many charities throughout his life. He enjoyed genealogy, mastering the computer, and camping and travelling with his family. Interment of ashes at a later date at John's Anglican Cemetery. Online condolences may be offered at (From the North Bay Nugget)

Albert was formerly a member of St. Lawrence Branch.

...Lynne Cook

Mabel Evelyn McKinnell (nee Daw), UE

Peacefully at Arbour Creek Long Term Care Facility, on Friday, January 16, 2009 in her 93rd year. Beloved wife of the late Leslie McKinnell. Dear mother of Neil and his wife Nadene of Burford, Pat Scriver of Guelph and her late husband Ron, Betty Kain and her husband Gary of Oakville and Bob of Binbrook and his friend Alison. Devoted and loving grandmother to 11 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. Will also be sadly missed by her close friend Ross Wilson. Mrs. McKinnell was a lifelong member of Binbrook United Church. Friends will be received at the Donald V. Brown Funeral Home, 36 Lake Avenue Drive, Stoney Creekk on Tuesday from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. The funeral service will be held in the chapel on Wednesday, January 21 at 11 a.m. Private interment in Binbrook United Church Cemetery. Online condolences may be made at

The Expositor, Brantford, Ontario, Monday, January 19, 2009, p.B9, c2.

Mabel was a member of the Grand River Branch and her Loyalist was Jacob Smith.

...Marilyn A. McDonald, UE, DAR

Norma (Lewis) Reynolds

REYNOLDS, Norma Annett 69, Leamington, Cumberland Co., NS passed away on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, in CRHCC, Nappan. Born in Leamington, she was a daughter of Wanita B. (Fife) Lewis, Mapleton and the late Harold Russell Lewis. She was employed many years with Knowlton's Auto Body, Springhill. She was a member of St. Andrews Wesley United Church Choir, Springhill and Springhill Historical Society. She loved horses, cats, family and friends. She is survived by son, Wesley (Petra) Reynolds, Moncton, N.B. She was predeceased by her husband, Frank O. Reynolds. Donations to the Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Diabetes Association, or St. Andrews Wesley United Church would be appreciated.

Norma was a proud descendant of a of Caleb Lewis, Loyalist. She was also the treasurer of The Springhill Heritage Group (SHG) which would be interested in obtaining a gedcom file of the LEWIS family in order to have a permanent record in our files. If anyone can provide a family tree, it would be most appreciated.

...Carl Demings, Pres. SHG, {carl DOT demings AT ns DOT sympatico DOT ca} how do I email him?

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