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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2012 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2012-10: March 14, 2012


Tales of the Lost Slaves: Part One -- by Stephen Davidson

A slave for 26 years of his life, Joseph Collins was a free man at the end of the American Revolution. As Collins and his wife Betsey boarded the Mars to sail for the mouth of the St. John River, the two 30 year-olds bid farewell to a society that had for centuries regarded Africans as property to be bought and sold at the whim of white colonists.

Betsey had been a slave all her life. After escaping from her master in Hackensack, New Jersey in 1779 and then working for the British for four years, she was granted her freedom. Betsey's emancipation was a common experience for any Africans who left rebel masters to serve the crown. However, the British government did not free the slaves of loyalists.

Given the common practices of his day, Joseph Collins was a very lucky man. Before the Revolution, he had been considered the property of Dr. James Van Buren, a loyalist surgeon who also lived in Hackensack. In 1778, Van Buren, his family, and servants fled rebel persecution and found refuge in New York City. Joseph Collins was "left with the British" while his master served the crown.

Five years later, Van Buren tried to reclaim Collins from Brigadier-General Birch. The general was in charge of issuing emancipation documents for thousands of Black Loyalists. Much to Collins' joy, Van Buren was not permitted to reclaim his "property". Despite being the slave of a loyalist, Collins was granted a "Birch certificate" that told one and all that he was a free man.

This was somewhat embarrassing for Dr. Van Buren. He had just completed a deal to sell Collins to another man. Van Buren, was --as he later remembered-- "obliged to return the money". Now a free man, Collins was beyond the loyalist's grasp. Van Buren did, however, seek financial compensation for the loss of his slave when the British government held hearings in Halifax in 1786. By then the former master and slave were both living in the Maritime Provinces; Van Buren in Clements, Nova Scotia, and Joseph Collins along New Brunswick's St. John River.

Wherever they fled, rich loyalists took slaves with them -- be it England, the West Indies, or Bermuda. No group has ever brought more slaves into what constitutes modern-day Canada than the loyalists. To say that slavery was commonplace in the era does not excuse or absolve the loyal colonists of the Thirteen Colonies. But perhaps by recognizing the lives and sufferings of the slaves who were enslaved by loyalists, we can at least try to affirm these Africans' humanity.

One place in which references can be found to loyalists' slaves is the transcripts of the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists (RCLSAL). In reading the RCLSAL's transcripts, it is chilling to see the way in which Africans are described. Casually included in inventories of property seized by rebels, black slaves are listed next to furniture, flatware and livestock. African men are described as boys, women as wenches. The complete lack of humanity attributed to these men and women is seen in the absence of physical descriptions, ages and even names.

Most of the "stories" of Africans who were enslaved by loyalists are no more than a sentence in length. The vast majority of references to loyalists' slaves in the RCLSAL transcripts have to do with their seizure by rebels. The phrases "lost a Negro" or "Negro taken by rebels" are repeated again and again. But here and there in the RCLSAL transcripts, sometimes a faithful servant is remembered; a quick glimpse of a person is revealed, or the service of a loyalist slave is noted. These are the stories that we shall consider over the next few weeks, the "almost stories" of those held in slavery by the loyalists and left behind -- the accounts of those who were killed or captured by rebels.

The very few stories of "lost" loyalist slaves that are positive in any way are the accounts of runaways. James Carey of South Carolina was a loyalist who had 14 of his 42 enslaved Africans taken by rebels. However, when patriots attacked and plundered his home, two of six seized slaves were able to escape. New Jersey's John Cox had his livestock confiscated by local rebels. Along with his furniture and "utensils", his farm animals were sold at a public sale. However, the slave that the rebels had stolen "made his Escape from them".

Gideon Palmer served as a lieutenant in Delancey's brigade, but still found time to pay a man £20 to recapture his runaway African slave. However, the black man that Palmer later bought from a fellow officer did manage to escape his grasp. The African promptly joined the patriot side.

Despite the fact that the rebels supported slavery as much as loyalists, two of the black slaves of Massachusetts loyalist Elisha Jones also "enlisted in the American Army". Margaret Evans had five of her black slaves "taken by the Americans" from her North Carolina estate, "the rest ran away".

The names of the lost slaves of loyalist refugees are almost never given. However, Long Island loyalist George Murrison told the RCLSAL commissioners that while he was serving the crown, his slave Abraham was taken and "entered on board an American privateer". It is uncertain from this account as to whether Abraham was stolen or willingly joined the rebels.

Running away to the rebel side -- or to no side at all-- did not mean emancipation for these enslaved Africans. In a slave-trading society, these "ownerless" blacks would soon become the property of any white who captured them or who bought them in a patriot auction.

Next week we will consider stories of service and sacrifice, rare glimpses into the lives of the loyalist slaves who were left behind.

To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.

Samuel Carman (1782 - 1864) © George McNeillie

Grandfather Carman, as I remember him, was a mild-mannered gentleman of the old school; the soul of honour and sincerity, gentle in his ways, modest and unobtrusive. He was not ambitious and passed a very peaceful, tranquil life. He occasionally visited my mother, his daughter, at her home in Woodstock. His last visit was in the summer of 1860. I remember this because my father was then pulling down the old barns at his own and Grandfather Raymond's place, preparatory to building the large barn which is now standing. I recollect that on returning from school one day I found the old barn level with the ground and Grandfather Carman saying to me, "You should have been here to see the barn fall." In those days our childhood lives had little excitement and for many years I used to feel a pang of regret that I had failed "to see the old barn fall."

Grandfather Carman passed to his rest in Lower St. Mary's on the 3rd of November, 1864, which as it happened, was the 233rd anniversary of the arrival in America of John and Florence Carman on Nov. 3rd, 1631.

The only thing outside the church in which Samuel Carman displayed more than ordinary interest was the Militia. His commission as a "First Lieutenant in the Sunbury County Regiment of Militia" is dated July 11, 1806 (which was while he was yet unmarried and living at Maugerville), and it is signed by President Ludlow and Provincial Secretary Jonathan Odell. The commission is in the old mahogany Cabinet at 92 Madison Avenue, Toronto [Editor's note -- sadly, it is not known what has become of this and other documents].

Richard Carman, the Loyalist, by his will -- the original of which is also in the Cabinet -- left all his property to his wife, Sarah (Horsfield) Carman, and named his sons William, of St. John, and Samuel of St. Mary's , as his executors. The date of the will is February 10, 1814.

Much of the property that came to Richard Carman's descendants was received from his wife's wealthy uncle, Thomas Horsfield. The widow Carman passed her declining years with her son Samuel. My mother was ten years old at the time of her Grandmother Carman's death and remembered her well.

The circumstances under which Samuel Carman came into possession of the farm at the "County-line" in Lower St. Mary's -- on which he lived from the time of his marriage to Maria Moore until the end of his days -- will be more fully considered under our Moore ancestry.

I can remember the old homestead in Lower St. Mary's very well. The house was surrounded with old willows of which the scions are believed to have come from New York in 1783. Some fine old chestnut trees grew in the garden. They were raised from seed brought to New Brunswick by my Grandmother Carman's father James Moore, and were long said to be the only chestnut trees in the province. The house stood not very far from the bank of the noble River St. John. It was built in 1789 by James Moore.

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

"Vignettes of Winnipeg, Past and Present": Government House 10 Kennedy Street

Government House is the official residence of the Lieutenant- Governor of Manitoba. It was constructed in 1882-83 after the demolition of Upper Fort Garry, within whose walls the Governor's House had been situated.

Government House is a stately three storey structure of white brick on a foundation of Stony Mountain limestone. It contains 28 rooms, 3 reception rooms, a state dining room, 11 bathrooms, and quarters for a housekeeper.

The grounds are beautifully landscaped, with an extensive flower garden called the Queen's Garden.

The Manitoba Room on the main floor contains an item of particular interest: a mahogany table at which King George VI made a radio broadcast to the Empire in May, 1939, while he and Queen Elizabeth were on a Royal Tour across Canada. This was months before the speech he made to the British nation after the outbreak of war, the speech dramatized in The King's Speech.

The opulent late Victorian furnishings include a Chippendale dining suite, a 135 year old Westminster grandfather clock, and a silver tray thought to be the oldest piece of Canadian-made silver in Manitoba.

Since 1883 Government House has hosted some 21 British Royals, every Canadian Governor General, and such luminaries as Sarah Bernhardt, Andrei Sakarov, Roselyn Carter, Mother Theresa, and Winston Churchill. The Churchill visit was in 1901 when he was touring Canada giving lectures on his observations of the Boer War. He wrote home to his mother that the Winnipeg Opera House was packed with the cream of Winnipeg society, the "gentlemen in evening attire and the ladies half out of it".

Every year Government House participates in Open Doors Winnipeg, a weekend of "open houses" involving many Winnipeg buildings that are not normally open to the public. The members of the Living History Society attend in costume, pitch tipis, set up craft displays, and give visitors a taste of life in the nineteenth century.

In July 2010 Government House was the major host for the visit of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. On a blistering hot day thousands thronged the grounds of Government House to see the Queen. The Manitoba Branch of the UEL was well represented at this event.

To mark the occasion a statue of the Queen which had been installed in the courtyard of the Centennial Concert Hall in 1967 was moved to Government House. There, sadly, it will be seen by far fewer than in its previous location. However, we will visit the statue again when we attend the reception at Government House hosted by his Honour Phillip Lee on the evening of June 7th, 2012.

Source: Street of Dreams: The Story of Broadway-Marjorie Gillies

[Manitoba Branch is hosting Conference at the Confluence 2012, the UELAC annual gathering and annual meeting from June 7 to 10 in Winnipeg. These vignettes will provide some of the local history and whet your appetite for more. Now is a good time to plan your trip to the conference, and join us there.]

...Mary F. Steinhoff, Secretary, Manitoba Branch, UEL

Media, 1812, and The Walrus

What did Lewis Carroll have to do with the War of 1812? Probably nothing although the walrus did say "the time has come to talk of many things. . . ." The Walrus, in this case, is the Canadian magazine with the eye-catching cover of Uncle Sam with a black eye. For the March 2012 issue, Stephen Marche has written "That Time We Beat the Americans -- A Citizen's Guide to the War of 1812" to mark the observations of the War of 1812 being planned for the next few years. The eight page article is organized with sub titles that always begin with "Canada Exists…" to help the reader focus on events, heroes and interpretations leading up to the final unit, "Canadians Exist for a Good Reason" . In addition, Major General Sir Isaac Brock, Tecumseh, Richard Pierpoint and Laura Ingersoll Secord are each given a sidebar to complement the essay.

Mark Reid, editor-in-chief of Canada's History (formerly known as The Beaver) calls this issue " a primer on how the War of 1812 shaped the Canada that we know today." In his words, "author Stephen Marche explores how Canada managed to survive when all the odds seemed stacked against it."

Reid also recommends that you check to view an expanding photo gallery that will grow over the next two years to include additional content about historic sites, museums, and anniversary events. Right now you can see Brock's Monument in Queenston Heights, the Brock Cenotaph in Queenston and Fort York in Toronto. He also advised that a full 1812 documentary is being produced and will be released at in the coming months.

Remember you can access a calendar of events for commemorations of the War of 1812 by clicking on the Event Central button available on the home page of the Dominion website.


Last Post: Joan Evelyn (nee McIlmoyl) Cleghorn, UE

Died unexpectedly, on Sunday 6 November 2011. Born 4 July 1945, Joan was a proud member of several Victoria Pioneer Families. She was an avid genealogist, volunteering with many genealogy organizations and the LDS Family History Centre, and serving as a former President of the Victoria Branch UELAC. Joan was also an avid amateur photographer, winning several prizes at local competitions in recent years, and a member of several computer groups.

A woman with diverse interests throughout her life, she used to race sports cars with the Victoria Motor Sports Car Club and actively supported her children's sporting and artistic activities, and military careers. Joan was "Mom" to many of her children's sports team members, cadet and Reserve friends as well as those serving in the Regular Force. She was intensely supportive of those who served and those who are serving.

...Joyce Huffman UE, Victoria Branch

Last Post: Betty Isabelle Miller, UE

Passed away peacefully on Saturday, February 25th, 2012 at the Greater Niagara General Hospital in her 90th year. Loving mother of Barbara Valiquette, Elizabeth Rodger (John), Don (Wanda) and Dave (Jacky). Cherished by her grandchildren. Sister of Ellen McKay. Predeceased by her parents Earl and Lillian Spencer, her husband Beverly Miller and her brothers Earl and John Spencer.

Visitation and the funeral service were held at MORSE & SON FUNERAL HOME. In memory of Betty, donations to Lundy's Lane United Church or a charity of choice would be appreciated. Memories, condolences and photos may be shared at NIAGARA FALLS REVIEW

...Lynne Cook UE, St. Lawrence Branch


Response re Alexander (and John) McKim Family

I just read your query in Loyalist Trails and think I can answer it for you.

In the book UE Loyalist Links, Vol. 2, Lennox & Addington Co, by Russ Waller

- John Nelson McKim 1823-1901 m Jane Shibley. He was son of

- John McKim 1784-1862 m 1812 Lydia Switzer; He was son of

- James McKim, Sgt. Loyal Rangers, UE Loyalist, of Ernestown.

James is found in Reid's Sons and Daughters of Loyalists

There is one of our applicants on p 438 Loyalist Lineages who descends from James.

Several census are sited as proof.

Hope this helps.

...Libby Hancocks, UE, Dominion Genealogist

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