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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2009 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2009-27: July 5, 2009


George Barnhart, a Loyalist Forgotten by the British, by Richard Ripley

Some of the Loyalists from New York State almost seem to be a different genre than their compatriots from New England. They knew or cared little about taxation issues or republican sentiment. They were, by and large, farmers - people of the soil. To them, revolutionary fervour was seen as disloyal nonsense from radicals out of Boston and Philadelphia. Surely, they thought, such misguided energy could be snuffed out by people of principle taking up arms against the miscreants. There was a purity and simplicity about their service to "God, King and Country", which is reminiscent of the legions of Canadians who served in the two World Wars.

One such Loyalist was Sergeant George Barnhart (1737-1811). He served well, but was inadvertently forgotten by the British, posthumously, when the War of 1812 was settled by the Treaty of Ghent, and his 999-year dream of a loyal family dynasty in Canada was shattered, just three years after his death.


At the time the troubles began in the area, in late 1774, George Barnhart was a successful tenant farmer of 180 acres on the Nine Partners Patent, on land owned by Samuel Van Plank (Vanplanksburgh) near Pentacton, Ulster County, on the Delaware. He spoke out against the rebel movement whenever possible, and just in case fighting should erupt, he joined the Turloch Militia under Captain Jacob Miller, and served from 1775 to 1777. When he saw that it would be impossible to avoid a fight, he assisted Col. John Butler, and was imprisoned for a time. (details from his claim before the Loyalist Commissioners, page 1904, January 29, Montreal, 1792). He enlisted with the King's Royal Regiment on 2 Dec 1780, and offered his sons for enlistment, namely Jacob who was then age 12, and Nicholas who was born in 1771, "being 9 years old, and 4'6'' tall". George had married Catherine Sharpstone, who was a daughter of Jacob Sharpstone, 2nd Lt., who, at least early in the war, had Loyalist leanings. Both the Barnharts and Sharpstones had emigrated from Germany in the previous generation. The British Colony of New York was a dream destination for them, and they were not about to give this dream up easily.

Greater love hath no man, than to offer himself and his sons in service.

George Barnhart was born in Loonenburg, Greene, New York, in 1737, first son of Johannes Barnhart (1715-1779) and his wife Maria Gertrude Rau (b. 1719). Johannes was also a Loyalist in arms, serving with Joseph Brant on scouting expeditions, and was with him at the battle of Minisink, July 22, 1779, and in one engagement was wounded. He joined the King's Royal Regiment on 1 February 1780, serving with Munro from 1781-83. He also settled in Canada.

The Peace Comes

Peace, but dejection and uncertainty, came in 1783. After the long winter of 1784, Regimental, Associated and unincorporated Loyalists were mustered at several posts in Quebec for their journey to their new homes. The Crawford purchase (1783) of Mississauga (Ojibway) lands along the front of eastern Lake Ontario preceded the resettlement. The first battalion of the King's Royal Regiment of New York, under Sir John Johnson, was settled in the first five of the Royal townships on the St. Lawrence River west of the seigneury of Longueuil. At their own request the settlers were divided by race and religion so that the Catholic Highlanders, Scottish Presbyterians, German Calvinists, German Lutherans and Anglicans were generally assigned to the townships later named Charlottenburgh, Cornwall, Osnabruck, Williamsburgh, and Matilda.


After living briefly at the military camp at Sault de Recollets, at Montreal, where daughter Catherine was born in early 1784, George and his family took up residence at Cornwall. Before the birth of Catherine, George and his wife Maria had seven children born in New York. Counting daughter Catherine, George and Catherine also had seven more children in Canada. To discover all of his children, I had to reconcile the report in "Sons and Daughters of American Loyalists", page 16, with his will of March 2 1811 (Film No. 0201748 Land Records, County Stormont, Upper Canada, 1808-1816, Vol. C, Page 400, Item No. 268), and with later OC land petitions as found in the Upper Canada Land Books. As with many cases in genealogical research, no one single source provides all of the information.

George Barnhart's Dream

In 1811, in his will, George Barnhart describes himself as "I, George Barnhart of the Township of Cornwall in the County of Stormont in the Customs District of the Province of Upper Canada, Innkeeper". From a reading of his will, one can see that prosperity and success had reached George in his later years. The values learned on the soil and in dedication to his principles had paid off. He had built and operated a successful inn to serve the hard working and hard drinking sailors who had worked their way up and down the Lakes and the St. Lawrence. He had married off most of his older children to the children of other Loyalists. He had accumulated funds, and had set his eyes on a 999-year family dynasty.

The Family Dynasty

George Barnhart had leased a 1700 acre island in the St. Lawrence, which he referred to in his will as "Barnhart Island" This island was leased to him by the Mohawks at St. Regis 1796 and renewed in 1806 for 999 years for $60 a year. The will bestows land on sections of the island to several of his children, in considerable detail.

Barnhart Island

In its heyday, the island boasted two roads, a school/church, saw, grist and woollen mills, and cheese factory. There were two general stores, a horse ferry to the Canadian shore and treadmill scow to the U.S. Boasting 20 families, 2,000 maple trees and 700 cows, other island names were Hickey, McDonald, Layo, Gallinger, Pitts, Cline, Eamer, and Seldon. These names will be well known to Canadian Loyalist researchers.

The Crushing of the Dream

In 1814, at the end of the War of 1812, the island was exchanged for strategically important Wolfe Island, protecting Kingston Harbour, as part of the provisions of the Treaty of Ghent. This was not the only island given up by the British as a result of this treaty, all aimed at protecting Kingston. Carleton Island in Lake Ontario was also surrendered, with the ruins of the large Fort Haldimand, where the graves of about 25 unnamed British are said to be buried.

In the ensuing territorial exchange, the title to Barnhart Island was given to American brothers named Ogden, in 1823. Immediately the Ogdens made the Barnharts purchase the homesteads they had pioneered, for $10,000. In 1850 the State of New York realized the injustice of this sale and recompensed the Barnharts. The island continued on a diminished scale for another 56 years, but in 1906, the Frontier Corporation began making surveys to dam the Long Sault Rapids. In 1922, the island was purchased with plans to build the dam. During World War II the U.S. government built a small power plant and barracks. Finally in November 1950, the last permanent island resident, Edgar Mullarney, moved to Massena.

Now uninhabited, the island was destined to become the American anchor of the Moses Saunders International Power Dam when the Seaway was finally built in 1958, while the island was turned into a park.

The Barnhart descendants, under many surnames due to marriages of daughters, gradually moved away. Many in fact moved back to America, as if they had forgotten the quest and dream of their forebear, George Barnhart the Loyalist. Such is the way with many descendants of Loyalists. It is possible to see Canada after the end of the Revolutionary War, as the America that would have been, if the republicans had lost the war. Many descendantsof Loyalists, of gentler politics, saw the two countries as interchangeable.

An interesting challenge exists for genealogical researchers. Technically, Barnhart Island was a part of St. Lawrence County, New York, after 1814, and when looking for families in later census returns, one must look at nearby towns and villages in US census returns. Some people born on Barnhart Island report later that they were born in Canada, and others say they were born in New York.

Few descendants of Sergeant George Barnhart who are living today even know that they are descended from a determined and idealistic Loyalist, especially those now living in America. It is up to us of UELAC, to keep the dreams of those Loyalists alive.

...Richard Ripley UE

London's Forgotten Loyalist: A New Jersey Attorney -- © Stephen Davidson

Within London's magnificent Westminster Abbey, are the burial sites of hundreds of the most prominent citizens of the British Empire. Of these, only three were participants in the events of the American Revolution. John Burgoyne's remains are in the North Cloister of the abbey. He was the British general who surrendered to the rebel army after the Battle of Saratoga. Major John Andre, captured by patriots while on a mission for Benedict Arnold, was hanged as a spy. After his body was returned to England, he was buried in Westminster Abbey's nave. William Wragg died in a shipwreck after being banished from South Carolina for his loyalty in 1777. His memorial is in the Abbey's south choir aisle.

The only other monument to commemorate someone who lived through the War of Independence is found in nearby St. Margaret's, a church situated between the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. There a plaque can be found for one Barnardus La Grange, "an American loyalist". Pieced together from archival sources on both sides of the Atlantic, the story of Barnardus La Grange, London's forgotten loyalist, can now being told for the very first time.

As Barnardus La Grange celebrated his 54th birthday in March of 1775, he no doubt had a sense of satisfaction with a life well lived. The second son in a family of ten children, he had left his Dutch parents' farm in Schenactady, New York and become an attorney in New Brunswick, New Jersey. As his law practise prospered, he married Frances Brasier of New York City and bought his family what would later be described as "one of the best Houses in the town". In addition to this stone house (valued at 700 pounds Sterling), La Grange acquired a farm along the Raritan River that was worked by enslaved Africans and owned woodlands on New Jersey's Schooley Mountain.

Barnardus and Frances La Grange had three daughters -- Susannah, Lydia, and Frances -- and a son, James Brasier. In 1775, only 15 year-old James was still at home. The presence of British troops stationed near their New Jersey home had had a profound affect upon the La Grange family. Arthur Wadman, a captain in the 26th Regiment had only been in New Jersey a year when he married Susannah La Grange in 1769. Henry Dogan, a surgeon's mate in the 29th Regiment, exchanged wedding vows with Lydia La Grange two years later. A young lawyer named Edward Vaughan Dongan married Frances in 1773. This great-nephew of a former New York governor would go on to become a lieutenant colonel in the Third Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers. Although their father had been raised in the Dutch Reformed Church, by the time the La Grange daughters were old enough to be married, the family worshipped in the Church of England. All three sisters were married in New Brunswick's Christ Church.

Barnardus La Grange could derive a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from all that he had achieved by his 54th birthday. Professionally, his law practise was thriving, bringing in 500 to 600 pounds Sterling a year. Over the past two years he had become a grandfather. The death of his wife Frances was the only note of sadness in an otherwise happy life. However, the growing talk of rebellion throughout New Jersey would very quickly destroy all of La Grange's accomplishments and joy.

In the months following his birthday, the patriots of New Brunswick, began to circulate papers to document those in town who had taken an oath of allegiance to the rebel cause. La Grange made his loyalist sentiments clear from the very beginning of "the troubles". Despite persecutions and insults, he refused to sign any rebel oaths. On July first, 1776, out of concern for his family's safety, La Grange he abandoned his house on the corner of Albany and Neilson Streets, and sought refuge among Sir William Howe's troops.

During loyalist's absence from New Brunswick, General George Washington set up his headquarters in La Grange's stone house between November 29th and December first. The patriot general left the spacious home when the British army advanced on New Brunswick a few weeks later. La Grange and his son James moved back, but it was not long before they had some new military houseguests. As many as seventeen Hessian officers were billeted with the loyalist attorney during the British occupation of the town.

General Skinner appointed La Grange to administer oaths of loyalty, a position he maintained until June of 1777 when the British troops left New Jersey for Staten Island. Unprotected, La Grange and his loyalist family were once again forced to leave their home. They settled in New York City for the remainder of the revolution. Patriots confiscated all of La Grange's lands and houses; all of his African slaves were sold.

From what little evidence has survived, it seems that Barnardus La Grange provided for his family by practicing law in British-occupied New York. His name appears in the 1777 will of his wife's sister, Anne Avory, and in the 1778 will of a free African named Cambridge, who lived in Flushing, New York. Protected though he was within the British lines at New York City, La Grange could not escape tragedy. His three year-old grandson as well as his son-in-law, Edward Vaughan Dongan had both died following a rebel attack on Staten Island. La Grange's daughter Frances Dongan was a widow, childless, and a victim of rape.

The violence of the revolution scarred another member of the extended La Grange household. The African slave, Samuel, who had been one of the principal workers on the loyalist's Raritan River farm, was now numbered among the soldiers in the Continental Army. His wounds would cripple him for life; his exploits would earn him a place in the annals of African-American history.

The final fate of the La Grange family and the stories of those who knew Barnardus La Grange during the revolution have yet to be told. Watch the future editions of Loyalist Trails for the continuing story of Barnardus La Grange, London's forgotten loyalist.

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

Mrs. Bell's Long Hard Journey from New Jersey to Grimsby

Extracts from a paper furnished by Mrs. Murray of Grimsby, originally published with the title A Pioneer Heroine.

In 1792 a man named John Bell came from the State of New Jersey to the Niagara Peninsula to visit his wife's brothers, Esquire John and Anew Pettit, who gave the name to St. Andrew's Church, Grimsby. He had promised to send for his wife, but as the weeks passed on and she received no summons to come she decided to follow him. In the month of September, 1792, on the banks of the Delaware River in the State of New Jersey one day a woman might have been seen preparing to leave for Canada. She was almost thirty five years of age and had eight children, the eldest one a daughter about fifteen years old, the youngest a baby girl of nine months. She had three horses with pack saddles and a few articles of clothing for herself and her family, a tent made by sewing a few sheets together and sine provisions for the journey. The clothing, tent, provisions ad smallest children were packed upon the horses, and in this manner they commenced their ling and tedious journey through forests and over mountains, fording rivers, for there were no roads or bridges at that time in the part of the country they were traveling through. There were no public houses or inns to entertain the weary travelers at night, so they had to erect their tent and sleep in the open air. For two or three weeks they pursued their weary way, sometimes meeting Indians and passing their villages, but these red men never molested or harmed the travelers, on the contrary they were kind and obliging, readily selling and often giving them venison, corn, etc.

Once on fording a stream one of the horses put his head down to drink and threw one of the children, a little girl of eight over his head into the water. She was nearly drowned, but was finally rescued, her shoulder being dislocated by the fall. Tis little girl afterwards became Mrs. Sumner, mother if W. L. Sumner of Ingersoll. At last they arrived at Fort Niagara which was occupied by British Soldiers, who put them across the Niagara on the Canadian shore, the long expected land of promise. From Niagara they made their ay along the shore of Lake Ontario to the township of Grimsby where Mrs. Bell joined her husband, two brothers and a sister. It was a happy meeting. The children were disposed of among friends until a log house was built, as it was very easy to get land in Grimsby in those days.

It has been found that this story of pioneer life written by Miss. Nisbet appeared in the Hamilton Herald, and thus was obtained by Mrs. Murray, a relative of Dr. Sumner and Mrs. Bell, and thus reached our hands.

-- from the Niagara Historical Society No. 28, published 1915(?), "Family History and Reminiscences of Early Settlers"

[Submitted by Rod MacDonald]

"High Tech" Helps Solve the "Age" Issue at the UEL Museum in Adolphustown LCC

In our files we have a note about a water jug we know little about. The note reads, "possibly pewter or aluminum" (see picture).Many 19th-century metalwares were produced cheaply and sold unmarked, so there are no markings to guide us. We have many such "mystery" pieces in the museum; unmarked and of unknown origin but potential gems everyone.

To help the UEL Museum sort out its collection of "white metal" artifacts, we approached Prof. Herbert Shurvell, a chemist with the Art Conservation Program at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Last Friday afternoon was hot and humid when Gus lugged his large black case up the steps of the museum in Adolphustown. Inside the case was the University's recently purchased X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device. Gus just happens to be one of two people licensed to use it. With XRF technology we can very quickly analyze the elemental composition of artifacts. Point the device at a pewter water jug, press a button like you're taking a picture with a camera. And voila! Pewter is no longer just pewter; it is a mixture of other metals; maybe 85% tin and 5% lead, or 95% tin and 1% copper.

These details about what artifacts are made of is vital to understanding the culture that produced and used them. Understanding the details of the culture that produced and used artifacts also helps to identify where a piece of history comes from. For example, pewter made in England from the 15th century onwards was strictly controlled. It was divided into three grades all based on the content of tin and the presence of certain metals like copper and lead, with the highest quality having the most tin content. Gus's XRF gun will instantly tell us how much tin, copper and lead is in any artifact we want.

The two objects at the UEL museum that we were most interested in were a large platter (see picture with Prof. Shurvell) and that water jug. They are both gray and dull to look at, but the water jug is much lighter in weight and colour. It does not have the weight of pewter, but its style and condition suggested it might be quite old.

Gus pointed the XRF gun at the jug, and within seconds we knew it was not pewter, but aluminum. Aluminum has not been in common usage for very long. Conclusion: the jug could be no older than 1890. The platter, on the other hand, turned out to be 95% tin, 1% copper, and the rest lead; an ideal recipe in the 18th century for a fine quality pewter. We still don't know the exact date yet, but a platter made after 1800 would more likely be stamped from sheet material, and ours looks to have been cast in a mold.

It is quite possible this rumoured Loyalist artifact may prove to be the real thing. Now all we need to do is find some spare time to do the extra research to find out for sure...

...Tom Riddolls, M.A.C., Curator, UEL Museum, Loyalist Cultural Centre, Adophustown

Grant to Grand River Branch: Cemetery Plaques UELAC Amount Granted: $450.00

Marking Cemeteries with a sign, (see Grand River Projects at UELAC website for photo of our sign) where the original loyalist is buried. Since 2005, we have marked 23 cemeteries in Norfolk, Brant, Oxford and Elgin Counties. This year we would like to add six more cemeteries. The design of the sign contains the Badge of the UEL; making our organization better known throughout the Long Point Settlement and the Grand River Branch area.

Last year (2008): to erect 6 signs- do the research, buy the posts and hardware to erect the signs cost last year 453.60 was spent for the signs. 2 signs were erected by Norfolk County for us. The Branch spent approximately $150.00 as well as sweat equity.

Anticipated Revenues and/or Benefits: Help researchers who are looking for the burial places of their Loyalist ancestors. The signs are visible at each of the cemeteries for other visitors to see as well.

See last week's issue for information about the Grants Committee.

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

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

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

- Barnhart, George - from Richard Ripley
- Bowman, Jacob - from Rod MacDonald
- Cline (Clyne), Elizabeth - from Don Brearley
- Clock, Jacob Conrad - from Sylvia Vanhaverbeke
- Clyne (Cline), Mary - Don Brearley
- Fike, Daniel - from Doreen Dimitroff
- Keller, Frederick - from Gloria Howard
- Loede, John Gottlieb
- Peters, Thomas (I) - from Fran (Peters) Rose
- Stuart, Dr. James - from Elizabeth Stuart
- Weitzel, John Nicholas


Response re Dr. James Stuart and his Family

Your ancestor was a key player in the organization of a loyalist uprising in the Schoharie Valley in 1777. I've written a couple of books that deal with the uprising and concurrent events that might be of interest to you.

The first is "The Flockey - 13 August 1777 - The Defeat of the Tory uprising in the Schoharie Valley" which deals in detail with the uprising. This book was self-published and is out of print at present. I have a handful of copies left and, if you're interested, I'd be happy to sell you one. Just send a cheque for $14.00 in favour of Gavin Watt to 85 Fog Rd., King City, ON L7B 1A3.

The second book is far more broadly ranging and fits the uprising into the St. Leger attempt to capture Fort Stanwix at the head of the Mohawk Valley. The Schoharie affair was meant to support St. Leger's efforts, but things didn't work out that way. This second book lists all the loyalists in the uprising and covers their later service as well. You didn't mention an Isaac Stewart in your note. I theorized that he was one of James's sons, but the relationship may have been quite different - a brother, a nephew, whatever.

The book is entitled "The British Campaign of 1777, Volume One, The St. Leger Campaign, The forces of the Crown and Congress." See here for availability.

...Gavin Watt H/V-P, UELAC

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