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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2010 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2010-09: February 28, 2010


A Man with a Mission: Part Two -- © Stephen Davidson

In last week's Loyalist Trails, we learned of the remarkable life of a black loyalist named John Marrant. One of the intriguing facts about this man's life was that he gave up a steady income and a comfortable life in England to cast his lot in with fellow Africans who had settled near Shelburne, Nova Scotia. The people of Birchtown had been evacuated from New York City in 1783 and then left to fend for themselves in the northern wilderness. Although they had Methodist and Baptist ministers among them, John Marrant felt that the black loyalists' spiritual needs were such that he should go and preach to them. And in 1785, Marrant boldly sailed across the Atlantic to fulfill that mission.

But Marrant was more than an itinerant minister. He had been a child prodigy in music, and a seasoned veteran of the Revolution. More than all of this, he was a celebrated author of one of the best selling books of the late 18th century. A Narrative of the Lord's Wonderful Dealings, published in 1785, went through 10 editions in its first year alone. James Walker, writing about Marrant in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, points out that A Narrative appealed to the readers of three popular literary forms: tales of Indian captives, stories of African slaves, and accounts of Christian conversions.

Walker argues that Marrant's "brief career is less important for its accomplishments than for its influence upon historical and literary trends among black people in North America and in Africa. His was a message of perseverance, a testimony to the success a black man and a Christian could achieve through faith in God and in himself, and his Narrative served as a model for generations of black American writers."

The first 33 years of Marrant's life were filled amazing adventures, and his time among the black loyalists of Nova Scotia could most certainly be described as eventful. On his sea voyage across the Atlantic, Marrant scolded his fellow passengers for their sinful ways, their card-playing and their strong language. The black minister was written off as an eccentric, but when a storm threatened the safety of the ship, he was the first one the passengers sought out. Marrant led those who came to him in prayer and the storm calmed. Not surprisingly, the passengers in his prayer group promptly adopted the black pastor's faith.

Rev. Marrant arrived in Birchtown in December of 1785 and was reunited with his brother. He soon discovered that there were a number of old acquaintances from the south living in the Shelburne area. Within four days of his arrival, Marrant was standing in a pulpit in Birchtown, preaching in the emotional and enthusiastic style that stirred his audiences wherever he spoke. He preached three times on that first Sunday and carried on in this fashion for several days. By Christmas, he had married four couples and baptized ten converts.

Despite initial opposition from the Wesleyan Methodists, he established a Calvinist Methodist church in the black settlement and then visited outlying communities between Shelburne and Liverpool. Besides preaching to white congregations, Marrant also ministered to the local Native people, the Mi 'kmaq. No doubt his years among the Cherokee in South Carolina had left a lifelong affection for First Nations people.

Marrant also attended to the practical needs of the black loyalists. In the spring of 1786, the people of Birchtown asked him to take their petition for tools to the governor in Halifax. His mission to the capital was a success. The much needed spades, hoes, pickaxes, hammers, saws, files, and blankets were sent back to Birchtown while Marrant made the most of his opportunity to visit black loyalist communities in the Halifax area. He often confronted appalling poverty.

In later narratives, Marrant recorded, "In my greatest illness my chief diet was fish and potatoes, and sometimes a little tea sweetened with treacle, and this was the best they could afford, and the bed whereon I laid was stuffed with straw, with two blankets, without sheets; and this was reckoned a very great advantage in these parts of the globe; for in some places I was obliged to lay on stools, without any blanket, when the snow was five and six feet on the earth, and sometimes in a cave on the earth itself."

Life became even more difficult when, in the spring of 1787, Nova Scotia suffered a famine. Marrant had little to offer; despite appeals to Lady Huntingdon's Connection in England, no relief came from overseas. Later in that year, he sailed to Boston and joined the Free and Accepted Lodge of Negro Freemasons, the very first black Masonic Lodge. They made Marrant their chaplain, and he had a number of his Massachusetts sermons published while in the state. Upon his return to Birchtown in 1788, he married a black loyalist named Elizabeth Herries.

A year later, Marrant felt that his mission to Nova Scotia had come to an end. He and Elizabeth returned to England after the couple visited Boston where Marrant preached one last sermon. In 1790, the well-travelled evangelist published a second book, A Journal of the Rev. John Marrant. Within a year, the remarkable "man with a mission" had died. His grave may be found in the Islington churchyard of the Huntingdonian chapel in London.

Marrant had spent just three years among the black loyalists of Nova Scotia. In that time, he gave the people a vision of a better world, a sense of their being set apart for great things, and an attitude of expectation. When the black loyalists of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were given the opportunity to found a Christian colony of free black men and women in Sierra Leone, it may have been the influence of Marrant's teaching that prompted so many to seek out a better home in west Africa.

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

Ebenezer Dibble (1715-1799): Fifth Generation in America (Part 2 of 13; © 2009 George McNeillie)

(See part one.)

When the Rev. Dr. Charles Inglis, the late rector of Trinity Church in New York, was in London in 1785, he kept a journal in which we find the following entry: “Monday, I attended a meeting of the Committee of the S.P.G. at the house of the Secretary, Dr. Morice, in Hatton Gardens. Letters were read from the missionaries, Learning, Viets, Dibblee, Tyler, and Moore. Many of these were very affecting, particularly those from Viets and Dibblee, setting forth their sufferings in the war, their long and faithful services, and the distress they must feel by the Society’s withdrawing their Country.”

In the summer of 1908 – twelve years ago – I spent several afternoons, with my wife, in examining the archives of the S.P.G. in Tufton Street, London, within a few hundred yards of Westminster Abbey, where we were able to read many of the letters of the old missionaries – Dibblee, Viets, Scovil, Beardsley and others. They are indeed pathetic, though in no one instance do they criticise the Society’s decision that their funds must now be expended only within the King’s Dominions.

At this time, Dr. Dibblee was seventy years of age. His wife, Joanna, daughter of Capt. Jonathan Bates, was not improbably the aunt of Walter Bates of Stamford, who came to Kingston with the Loyalists in 1783 and was for years High Sheriff of King’s County.

Two of the Rev. Dr. Dibblee’s sons, Fyler and Frederick, were active Loyalists. The former married Polly Jarvis, sister of Munson Jarvis of Stamford, who was later a warden of Trinity Church in St. John and a leading man in the community. Dr. Dibblee, had he Been a younger man, would have gladly accompanied his sons to New Brunswick. But having now reached the age of seventy years, he felt it to be impossible. He writes of his pitiable situation to Sir Guy Carleton in these words: “His church, self and family almost ship-wrecked in the late civil tempest. His temporal interests mostly impaired by the storm. His people diminished by the great number fled within the British lines for protection, and such as remained overborne and oppressed by fines, imprisonments, impositions, retaliating acts, etc.”

As he deemed himself too old to begin life anew in the wilderness of New Brunswick, he decided to stay with the remnant of his old flock in Stamford, for whom naturally he cherished a deep affection. The strength of his loyalty to the Mother Country is seen, however, in the fact that he continued to use the English Prayer Book in his church until 1792, although the American Prayer Book had been adopted by the General Convention in 1789. It was only at the solicitation of Bishop Seabury, himself a Loyalist, that he at length consented to the change.

Excerpt from Book of Family History, by The Ven. William Odber Raymond, LL.D, FRSC. © 2009 George McNeillie - all rights reserved [published here with permission; see footnote].

...George McNeillie

Historic Sites in New York to Close or Have Reduced Hours

Like most governments around the world, the New York States government is in a deep financial hole. A week ago, as one of a broad set of actions to cut costs, the New York Governor and the Commissioner of The Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation issued a press release and list of possible closures and sites with reduced services. The OPRHP's plan includes the closure of 41 parks and 14 historic sites, and service reductions at 23 parks and 1 historic site. As UELAC Honorary Vice President Gavin Watt notes "Johnson Hall, Herkimer Home, Newtown Battlefield, Fort Ontario, Bennington Battlefield, Schuyler Mansion, Old Erie Canal Village, Oriskany Battlefield -- all New York historic sites that mean so much to Quebeckers and Ontarians" could be closed or suffer. For more details, see the press release.

As has been noted, initial proposals such as this often change significantly before they are finalized, as alternate sources of funds are found, as new factors emerge, as debate begins and continues. Those who are interested in historic sites and parks are making statements; an example is the Parks and Trails Advocacy Group of New York:

Urgent: Parks to close unless you speak out! If there's one time New York's parks need your help it's now. The Governor's proposed budget slashes funding for state parks. If the budget passes as is, there will be no choice but to close parks, according to Parks Commissioner Carol Ash. How many and which parks are still unknown. But it's likely that one of the parks you love and use will be on the list. For things that you could do, go here

Similarly for historic sites:

The Governor's proposed 2010-11 budget slashes funding for state parks. JOHNSON HALL is a New York State Historic site operated by the state Parks and Recreation Commission. If this proposal is approved, Johnson Hall may be closed to the public. ....Fulton County Chamber

Many of us have had an opportunity to learn more about our Loyalist ancestors by visiting a number of these sites, either on our own or on bus trips such as those organized by George Anderson and Ed Kipp. There is an online petition site to save Johnson Hall - consider adding your name to the list.

...Gavin Watt and George Anderson

A Revolutionary Story of Intrigue in South Carolina

As many of our members return from winter holidays reinvigorated for the challenges ahead, stories of discoveries of American Revolutionary War sites or interesting new resources surface electronically. Bonnie Schepers RVP Central West included her report, A Revolutionary Story of Intrigue (PDF) in the last issue of the Bicentennial Branch Quarterly. You might document your discoveries as a resource for Loyalist Trails - we all learn more about our Loyalist heritage through such contributions.


Published Books: New Formats for Older Resources

Loyalist material is increasingly available in new formats. The recent issue of Global Genealogy's eNews (Vol. 13. Issue 7. February 27) advertised the availability of four familiar titles in a CD format: The Old United Empire Loyalists List; United Empire Loyalists, A Guide to Tracing Loyalist Ancestors in Upper Canada; and To Their Heirs Forever, United Empire Loyalists, Camden Valley, New York, to Upper Canada; The Irish Palatines in Ontario: Religion, Ethnicity, and Rural Migration - Second Edition. In the descriptions and links, readers will note that the printed versions are still available.


2010 Olympics and UELAC III

No doubt members of UELAC have found relief from the vagaries of winter through the efforts and achievements of the young athletes at the Olympics as well of the countless volunteers who are working to ensure the success of both the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics these past few weeks. The warmth generated by increased pride in our Canada may stimulate further activities that will promote our natural and cultural well-being long after the glow from Vancouver has subsided. Linda Nygard, newsletter editor for the Vancouver Branch highly recommends that each and every one of us take time to view the video clip prepared by Tom Brokaw previously broadcast prior to the opening of the Olympics. The style and purpose of "Tom Brokaw Explains Canada to Americans" may remind you of an earlier tribute to the Americans prepared by the late Gordon Sinclair in 1973. Both clips are available here [it seems that copyright and politics don't necessarily mix - Tom Brokaw's has been removed; Gordon's remains].


The Oriskany Alliance and the Native American Music Awards

The Oriskany Alliance is a non-profit organization that gathers information about Six Nations individuals of the past who made history but are often not found in the history books. We take this information and re-educate the general public. As part of this program, in 2008 we hosted seven Operatic plays titled "Molly of the Mohawks". Various organizations including Quinte Branch of U.E.L. helped fund these plays.

In 2009 we were honoured with a nomination to the Native American Music Awards in the Historic category. The Oriskany Alliance Inc. would like to thank all who have sponsored us through our endeavours. Although we didn't win at the music awards, it was a great honour just to be nominated. Our Oriskany Alliance treasurer, Augusta Cecconi-Bates, who composed the music for the plays, attended the awards ceremony, and what a wonderful time she had.

If anyone has any questions, I can be reached at 613-396-2796 or 613-919-4491 or by email

...James Maracle

Loyalists and Heritage Week - Addendum

Grand River Branch enjoyed many enquiries at Conestoga Mall, Waterloo, on Heritage Day. Our display was hosted by Vice President Paul Gray, Cynthia Stappels, Alison Smith, Jim Sweet and Doris Lemon. (--D.L.)

Census Records at Risk

Canada has had ongoing battles over census records, and without knowing any details, the battles will continue as we family historians try to preserve and get access to such helpful information.

It appears that Canada is not unique. This note from the Cape Cod Genealogical Society:

The USA Census Bureau and the National Archives have agreed to throw out the 2010 census forms after archiving statistical data. This means that seventy-two years later genealogist will see – nothing -.

The same authorities planned to do this to the 2000 census, too. A January 1999 Supreme Court ruling forced the Census Bureau to redesign data collection by prohibiting the use of sampling. Responding to an inquiry from Congressman Waxman of the census oversight committee, the Census Bureau and the National Archives reevaluated their decision. Images of all 2000 census forms were copied onto microfilm.

For some more details, see Save 2010 Census - no images to be preserved.

[submitted by Marilyn Ruth]

Central West Regional Meeting, April 17, 2010 - Promotions Announcement

The Promotions Committee led by Noreen Stapley will bring a selection of all items available for sale to the Regional Meeting in London, Ontario. If any one wants to pre-order clothing you should do so by March 15, 2010 to guarantee delivery. Items can be ordered ahead of time to be picked up at the meeting. This will also guarantee that the colour and size of item you wish to order is available. Attendees can check the online catalogue on the UELAC Website.

If you want something specific set aside, or a package of items to take back for your Branch sales table, please contact us for availability and we will gladly do so. Please send your order to Promotions UELAC c/o Noreen Stapley UE at 905-732-2012 or by email.

Volunteer Recognition - Ontario Heritage Trust Awards

Across Canada, there are numerous ways to recognize the contribution of volunteers to the preservation of our heritage.

Since 1996, the Ontario Heritage Trust has asked Ontario municipalities, First Nations band councils and Métis community councils to nominate individuals in their communities who have made a significant contribution to the promotion, preservation or protection of Ontario's heritage. Those selected receive a certificate of recognition and a pin honouring their service. Individuals have been recognized for leadership of natural heritage conservation and restoration projects, long-standing voluntary service to local heritage organizations, production of local history publications and participation in the preservation of heritage buildings. Among those nominated by the Town of Oakville was UELAC President Frederick H. Hayward. His Cultural Heritage Award was presented on February 22.

"The Ontario Heritage Trust Awards reflect the dedication and commitment of the town and our citizens to the conservation and celebration of local heritage," said Mayor Burton. "We are grateful to the many individuals who help preserve heritage in Oakville and are proud of all the award recipients - over the years their hard work has helped to further enrich and beautify our community."

In 2007, a nomination category for the Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Award for Lifetime Achievement was added to the program. This award recognizes individuals who have made volunteer contributions to preserving, protecting and promoting community heritage over a period of 25 years or more. The 2009 recipients (PDF) were announced on 16 February, during Ontario's Heritage Week. Among the honoured volunteers is Jon Jouppien, nominated by the City of Niagara Falls, a long-time member of the Old Fort Niagara Association and served on the boards of the St. Catharine’s Museum and Willowbank, home of the School of Restoration Arts. Jon also designed and built the Butler Homestead Monument in 2008.

100th Birthday for Ken Turner, Well Celebrated

Imagine being four years old when the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada was formed back in 1914. As it turned out, he would be well into his tenth decade, before Ken Turner would receive his Certificate of Loyalist Lineage for James Cowell Turner (1743-1823) who settled in Bocabec, New Brunswick. If you read the report in the Hamilton Spectator or the article from McMaster University's Daily News, you will sense that he has hardly been sitting around. Officially, Ken celebrated his 100th birthday at the Dundas Legion with family and friends on February 8. However, he also was in attendance at his Hamilton Branch's AGM on February 25 when his birthday was recognized with cake and a special certificate from the Dominion President. See photo of Ken Turner and Fred Hayward.