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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2009 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2009-17: April 26, 2009


Loyalist Baggage Check -- © Stephen Davidson

What would you take with you if you were fleeing a dangerous situation and leaving behind your family, friends, and home? Just ask the loyalists. They were the largest group of refugees in North American history and must have known how to package up their valuables.

However, although there are long lists of the possessions that the loyalists left behind in the United States, we have very few references to what they actually carried with them. Thankfully, a handful of diaries, memoirs, and accounts of the day provide a brief glimpse into what the refugees of the eastern seaboard brought with them on their 1783 voyages to the mouth of the St. John River.

When 82 year-old Mary Raymond fled Norwalk, Connecticut on foot with her daughter-in-law and four grandchildren, she stashed two homemade linen sheets under her skirts and carried a pillow case filled with the family's silverware and jewelry. Despite an interrogation by soldiers, the Raymonds safely made their way to the coast, sailed across Long Island Sound, and spent the rest of the revolution in a refugee camp near Fort Franklin. Unless the family was forced to sell what Mary Raymond carried away from Norwalk, the silverware and jewelry would have travelled with the family on their voyage to the mouth of the St. John River in April of 1783. The Raymonds' first log cabin in the New Brunswick woods would have contained these small mementos of a better life in Connecticut.

Sarah Frost was a 29 year-old mother from Stamford, Connecticut who found shelter at the same refugee camp as the Raymond family. Pregnant with their third child, Sarah travelled north to the St. John River in June, 1783. Her husband William, an eight year-old son and a daughter were the only members of her immediate family that accompanied her into exile. Her father, mother, and siblings were all patriots.

Thanks to Sarah's diary which she wrote while sailing on the Two Sisters, we have the only surviving account of what it was like to be aboard a loyalist evacuation ship. She first put pen to paper on May 25th when her family went aboard their ship. However, the Two Sisters did not sail for the St. John River until June 16th. Three weeks cooped up in a cabin shared with strangers would be trying at the best of times.

On June 9th Sarah noted " ...there is a great confusion in the cabin. We bear with it pretty well through the day, but as it grows towards the night, one child cries in one place and one in another, whilst we are getting them to bed. I think sometimes I will be crazy."

Four days later a diary entry reveals how Sarah helped to while away some of the long, tedious hours aboard ship. She wrote about playing cribbage with her husband and another couple. So, in addition to a diary that she could carry in a small bag, Sarah Frost also had a cribbage board and cards among her "carry-on luggage".

Hannah Ingraham was just eleven years old when her loyalist family made preparations to leave New York in September of 1783. Her father had been away from home fighting for the king for seven years. For four of those years, Hannah's mother did not know if her husband was dead or alive. Correspondence was dangerous. Anyone found delivering letters to Mrs. Ingraham could be hanged.

After Benjamin Ingraham left his farm, rebels confiscated his ploughs and tools, selling them to the neighbours. Except for one heifer and four sheep, all of the Ingraham livestock was seized. Hannah's uncle quietly took back to his farm the sheep he had given her, keeping it safe from rebel hands.

Little John Ingraham had been given a pet lamb before his father joined the British army. When the rebels were about to take it from the loyalist farm, the little four year-old piped up "Won't you let me have my lamb?" John's pet was one of the few possessions the family was allowed to keep.

Hannah could later recount what family possessions they took with them to their evacuation ship in New York City. Her kindly uncle thrashed the wheat in the family's field. This gave them 20 bushels to pour into bags Mrs. Ingraham had made. The family packed a tub of butter, a tub of pickles and a good store of potatoes. Benjamin Ingraham killed the family's remaining cow to sells its meat. A neighbour added beeswax to the tallow from the cow's carcass and made the loyalist family "a good parcel of candles" that were "hard and good".

These few items are all that Hannah could recall by name when she shared her refugee experiences eight decades later. Without elaborating any further, she also remembered that her family took five wagon-loads of goods with them as they sailed down the Hudson River for New York. The size of the wagons -- and their contents -- remain a mystery to this day. If this was in any way typical of what loyalists were allowed to take with them, their evacuation ships must have had very full cargo holds.

The Ingrahams arrived in New Brunswick in the fall and had to live in a canvas tent supplied by the British. In addition to the food they brought from New York, the Ingrahams also received rations from the government. The snow came early that year. Hannah remembered that her mother "got so chilled with rheumatism that she was never very well afterwards." While the foodstuffs from home were probably eaten up rather quickly, it would be fascinating to know just how long the Ingrahams' homemade candles lasted during their first days of settlement.

Playing cards, silverware, and candles -- these were only a few of the commonplace items the loyalists brought to New Brunswick in 1783. It is sad that almost all such luggage has been lost over time.

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

Last Call to Save on Shipping for Items from UELAC Store

Promotions UELAC will be at the Conference in Napanee. If you want to pick up a House Plaque at the Conference and save the shipping cost, please place your order by May 01, 2009.

Any one wanting clothing or other items can also save on the shipping by placing their order by May 01/09. This way we can guarantee we'll have size and colour and have your order ready for pick-up in Napanee.

Please check the on-line catalogue for styles and colours.

You may send your order to Promotions UELAC c/o Noreen Stapley UE by phone 905-732-2012 or e-mail {gdandy AT iaw DOT on DOT ca} how do I email her?

UELAC Grants Committee Awards Major Grants

At the Spring 2009 Dominion Council meeting held in Toronto, four Branch Projects were deemed worthy and Major Grants were approved for financial aid towards specific branch projects.

Requests for support of major projects (greater than $500.00) for the following calendar year are submitted to the Grants Committee following the establishment of the budget by Dominion Council in the fall, and the amounts to be given to successful grant applications are confirmed at the spring meeting of Dominion Council.

As these projects are important, the Grants Committee is publishing information about them.

The Grants Committee includes Bonnie Schepers UE, Central West Region Vice President and Jim McKenzie UE, Atlantic Region Vice President.

...Carl Stymiest UE, UELAC Senior Vice President, and Chairperson, Grants Committee.

Major Grant #1 to Vancouver Branch: Library & Resource Centre and Office Restoration

UELAC Amount Granted: $1000.00

Description of Project

Vancouver Branch has a very proactive membership, with research being a major focus; however our present resource library must be moved as we have outgrown our present space. There are about 40 linear feet of books in 3 low bookcases in the Vancouver Branch Resource Centre & Library. These books are currently stored in a basement room with infrequent access (2 days a month during the day). The existing shelving is buckling under the weight of the books and there is no room to add new resource books or reference material. We are moving the library and need shelving that will be space efficient and provide room for additional acquisitions. This new location will also act as the office for our Branch and requires a work surface with storage for our newly donated, laptop computer and copying equipment. All items for shelving and work surface materials to be purchased from IKEA and are custom measured to maximize space. This is a one-time expenditure.

We plan to use this new space to hold workshops to help our members research their Loyalists. We are also increasing storage in readiness of accepting donations. This is the first step of the vision we have of creating a unique “Loyalist” resource centre in the Vancouver Lower Mainland.

Project Follow-up & Letter of Thanks:

Re: Vancouver Branch Loyalist Research Centre (Vancouver Branch)

The Vancouver Branch acknowledges receipt of a major grant from the Dominion Association of $1,000.00.

This money has been used to replace buckling library shelves and has expanded storage space by at least 2.5 times its previous capacity. We have also added a work surface with storage for our newly donated, laptop computer and copying equipment.

We have moved our library holdings to a different location and increased the hours of accessibility to the library. The response to these changes has resulted in more people using the library during new (regular) hours and significantly more by appointment. It is rewarding to see so many different people get excited about digging up their ancestors.

One of our new members in the branch has been convinced for some time that she had a loyalist relative. On opening day of the library, she was led to a book with a family reference and found two loyalists in different provinces she was not aware of. She will be receiving two UE certificates at our spring fleet in two weeks. I take this as an omen that we made a good decision.

Like any investment, we intend to make it grow. It is one of the first steps we have in a plan to create a unique “Loyalist” resource centre in the Vancouver Lower Mainland. You have provided the foundation for us to continue on that path. Vancouver Branch thanks Dominion for granting our request and to all the UELAC branches who make these grants possible.

...Wendy Cosby, UE, President, UELAC Vancouver Branch


Response re Owen Madden and Family

I hold six copies of printed Muster Rolls, derived from the originals, accepted by UELAC, which show Owen Madden in Loyalist service. These have been taken from "Loyalists in the Southern Campaign, Volume III", by Murtie June Clark, published by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, in Baltimore, 1981.

If you don't have copies of these records, I would be glad to mail them to you. Owen's records are found on pages 81, 83, 84, 97, 98, and 99. The records cover service with several companies, from October 1781, to January 1783. The records show the details & officers of the companies, as well as the names of the soldiers on the roster, with other interesting comments.

I hold these records in our archives as part of ongoing research for other families, who interconnect with Madden-Maddon family members. We have a few such individuals in our main online family tree, awaiting further genealogical development.

I am Project Coordinator of NFFG, the Network of Founding Family Genealogies. NFFG is an extended family tree network with records, for Members of NFFG. We hold many Loyalist records and archival notes, but NFFG is not limited to Loyalist ancestries.

...Richard Ripley UE

I have received copies of several muster rolls that list Owen Madden. These were sent by Richard Ripley of NFFG in response to the query you ran in the newsletter.

This was excellent information that confirms that Owen was, indeed, a Loyalist. Thanks again for your help. I greatly appreciate it.

...Keith Madden

Gilbert Thorn and Family

I am writing about a family, the Thorns, referred to as the Squires of Courtlandt Manor, because of their considerable acreage derived from the inheritance of Catharine Livingston, who was related to the Courlandts.

Gilbert Thorn was the son of Johnaton Thorn, husband of Catharine, a loyalist from Duchess County, NY. Both father and son refused to sign an oath to the US in 1776 and Jonathon was imprisoned in Vermont/NH/Maine for about a year, then returned home, asked to recant and when he wouldn't he was sent to Hartford where he died in Nov 1777.

Other Thorns were sent with him to the first POW camp and perhaps the second but his son Gilbert, also a loyalist wasn't (or at least wasn't mentioned). He is thought to have died on a prison ship in NYC harbour but there is no known confirmation of that. For all that is really known, he may also have joined the militia, fighting and dying for his beliefs.

I have found that Gilbert was a tax-collector in 1777-78 in North Castle, about 20 miles from his home in Duchess County.

His widow, Agnes, married William Markle (Butler's Rangers) in 1786 in Rhinebeck Falls, NY, taking a very large war compensation claim into that marriage which led to William's larger than average land grant. Her daughter Catharine Thorn married Abraham Markle.

I would appreciate any information about Gilbert Thorn and family?

Meaning of BSSh on Old Map of Mohawk Valley

I was looking at a map of the Mohawk Valley in the Archives in Fonda. I was looking for family names on the map and found several. The portion of the map I was reviewing was showing has Johnstown to the east and Gloversville to the NE, and extends beyond Kecks Centre to the West - see map. However there are two instances of the letters BSSh that appear on the map, just to the east of Kecks Centre and then again further north of Kecks Centre - the letters are same in style as the names of the owners of the various farms - see section of map. No one has been able to tell me yet what the letters BSSh standd for - can anyone help?

...Les Wert {les_wert AT sympatico DOT ca} how do I email him?

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