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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2012 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2012-17: April 29, 2012

Articles

The Prison Ships of Esopus: Part 3 of 4 -- by Stephen Davidson

While histories of the American Revolution will often include descriptions of the British prison ships anchored off New York City, it is rare to find any acknowledgment that rebels also maintained "fleet prisons". The Boston prison ships began holding loyalists as early as 1776, and the rebel prison ships in New London, Connecticut operated until at least 1782.

The fleet prison at Esopus (Kingston, New York) held loyalist prisoners of war for only five months following its establishment in May of 1777. Thirty British vessels carrying 1600 troops sailed up the Hudson River in mid-October. They attacked the rebel capital, burned the town, and utterly destroyed the prison fleet. It is not known how many loyalist prisoners were liberated. Receiving intelligence of enemy manoeuvres, rebels took a number of the prisoners to jails in Connecticut before the British liberators arrived.

Nine years after his incarceration in a floating prisoner of war camp, William Castle recounted his experiences to the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists when it convened in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Up until the Revolution he had been a farmer near Albany, New York. Local patriots tried to draft him into their militia, but he was able to avoid service for some time by paying fines. In August of 1777, Castle joined the British, and because he had recruited 22 other loyalists, he was given the rank of ensign in Captain Wilcox's Company of Pioneers.

When his rebel forces defeated his company, Castle was captured and taken to Kingston, New York. The rebel capital for the colony was also known as Esopus, and it was the site of the only "fleet prison" in New York. He was held below decks for three weeks and was only granted his freedom after swearing an oath. Castle feared for his life because he was known to have recruited soldiers for the British. Two local men (Captain Roofa and an unnamed lieutenant) had already been hanged in Kingston that year for bearing arms for the British.

Castle remained in New York, but was not permitted to return to his farm. Two years later he joined General Tryon in Connecticut as he marched troops toward a rebel stronghold. He continued serving the crown in various functions, including time spent as a mate in the Company of Armed Boatmen. Castle sailed for Shelburne before the 1783 evacuation of New York. His mother had remained on his farm in Albany, despite the fact that a rebel party had plundered their livestock after the Battle of Saratoga. After arriving in Nova Scotia, Castle learned that patriots had forced his mother to abandon the property all together.

Not all loyalists lived to tell the tale of their time on a prison ship. It was Catherina, the widow of Alexander Cruikshank, who remembered her husband's war time experiences eight years after he had been put on an Esopus prison ship. A native of Scotland, Cruikshank had, like Castle, settled in Albany, New York where he was a prosperous shop keeper. He had "always declared in favour of the British government" and consequently was put in the Albany court house jail in 1776 for nine months.

After his release, Cruikshank made a trip to New York City in early 1777. His patriot neighbours assumed that he was taking intelligence to the British headquarters on Manhattan Island, and they arrested him upon his return. Cruikshank was first put in the Esopus jail and then put on a prison ship. That summer he made break for freedom from his floating prison -- taking part in one of the two escapes from the fleet prison (either the one in July or in August).

Cruikshank joined General Burgoyne's forces, was at the defeat of the Battle of Saratoga, and then fled to Quebec City with Catherina and his three daughters: Elizabeth, Ann and Sarah. The Cruikshanks' female African slave, livestock and furniture had already been seized by local rebels, so the family only took "trifling articles" north with them. Alexander died in August of 1784, seven years after his time on a prison ship.

Henry Vanderburgh was a loyal native of New York's Dutchess County. Beginning in 1775, he had to resist the continual pressure from local rebels to "take oaths and sign associations". He was "well satisfied with the British government and wished to remain under it".

Finally, the rebels took Vanderburgh prisoner in March of 1777. By June he was placed in the hold of a prison ship where he was kept for four months. After the fall of Fort Montgomery, the British troops began their advance toward Esopus. Rebels took many of the prison ships' inmates, including Vanderburgh, and marched them to Boston.

During the long trek, Vanderburgh escaped, and returned home. However, he had to live in the forests to prevent recapture. Finally, life in the wild took its toll on the ill, middle-aged loyalist, and he surrendered himself to his enemies. Rebels banished him, and sent him within the British lines. The former prisoner of Esopus made his way to New York City. By 1783, Vanderburgh, his wife, and four adult sons had all found refuge along the St. John River in what would become New Brunswick.

Arthur Smith, a prison ship inmate who settled in Wilmot, Nova Scotia, has already been mentioned earlier in this series. He was on a ship at Esopus for two months. What is worth noting about this New York loyalist is what three of four witnesses said of him when they testified to his steadfast commitment to the crown. His two sons, James and John, as well as Benjamin Babcock all mentioned that he had been held on a rebel prison ship.

And what of the rebel prison ships in Connecticut and Massachusetts? Learn the stories of their loyalist prisoners in next week's Loyalist Trails.


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

Samuel Carman (1782 - 1864) © George McNeillie

On a good many occasions we made the trip by the River Steamers – the Reindeer, Antelope, Gazelle, Bonnie Doon, Highlander, Tobique, etc. I remember that in the summer of 1866, my brother Lee, aged ten and myself aged thirteen, were shipwrecked at "Bear Island" twenty-three miles above Fredericton, where our little steamer "Gazelle" in trying to make a landing ran on a rock. The passengers hired teams and proceeded to Fredericton. Lee and I were paddled across the river by two boys in a canoe, for which we paid them I remember 15 cents. Then taking our big valise between us on a short pole we started to walk down the river to an Inn kept by an old lady whose name was Close whom we knew. It was a hot summer afternoon, the distance a good eight miles, and we were constantly, as it seemed to me, stopping at Lee's request to change hands. Those were, I think, the longest miles we ever walked. Now and then we sat under a tree and fanned ourselves with our new straw hats. At last, late for tea, we arrived at the wayside inn, and the old lady was loud in her condemnation of the passengers who had deserted us and hired waggons to convey themselves to their destination. I remember we had a good supper with the best sauce, which is hunger. We slept that night without any rocking and about 6 a.m. the next morning the old dame routed us out, gave us a hasty breakfast and hailed a passing farm waggon bound for town. She would hear of no bill, and sent us off with her blessing. This trip to Fredericton cost only the 15 cents ferriage for the two, and we were quite proud of the money saved in our pockets.

We were naturally much delighted when we learned that our cousins were coming to Woodstock to live. As there was no house on their property save an old ram-shackle one that had been formerly occupied by a tenant named Tidd, we had to fix up, as best we could, this old tenement. I well remember helping to paper and white-wash this old building – near the roadside – in which the family were forced to live till the new house was built some years later.

The Carmans arrived in Woodstock on the 6th of November, 1867, in the same steamer which brought up four or five clergymen for the consecration service, on the next day, of the new Woodstock Parish Church. The date we know from Bishop Medley's "Annals of the Diocese of Fredericton", in which he makes the following entry:-

"On November 6, 1867, the Bishop went to Woodstock and on the 7th consecrated the new church at the Burial Ground, in Lower Woodstock. Clergy present and assisting were the Rev'd. S.D. Lee Street (Rector), Rev'd. Joseph Dinzey (Curate), Rev'd. W. Q Ketchum, E.A. Hennington, J. Pearson, H.W. Tippet, T. E. Dowling, Henry Street and the Bishop, who presided."

I remember that the Raymonds, Beardsleys, and Carmans attended the consecration service, and that my father on behalf of the parishioners read the petition requesting the Bishop to proceed to consecrate the building, and can recall his Lordship's reply: "Sir, if such be your desire and the desire of the parishioners, in God's name let us begin."

Cousin Lill Beardsley used to declare that the day of the consecration of the church was the most bitterly cold she had ever known. It was an extremely cold day for that time of year, the 7th of November.

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": The Manitoba Archives

The Manitoba Archives occupies the building formerly known as the Winnipeg Civic Auditorium. The Civic Auditorium was built in 1931/1932 as a "make-work" project. Until 1968 it served as concert hall, art gallery, museum, and convention centre.

During its 40 years as the Civic Auditorium, the building hosted classical and pop concerts, wrestling matches, car shows, and political rallies. It was here that John Diefenbaker launched his successful 1958 campaign. Between 1967 and 1970 the museum and concert venues moved to the Centennial Centre on Main Street and the art collection moved to the Winnipeg Art Gallery on Memorial Boulevard.

In 1970 the city sold the Civic Auditorium to the province. After extensive renovation, it was officially opened as the Manitoba Archives Building, housing provincial archives, the Legislative Library, and Elections Manitoba.

In 1973 the Hudson's Bay Company transferred its archives from London to the Manitoba Archives. Initially this was a long-term loan, but in 1993 the placement became a donation, a magnificent gift to the people of Canada. At the same time the Hudson's Bay Collection of physical artifacts was placed permanently in the Manitoba Museum where it is housed in a display room next to The Nonsuch and in climate- controlled storage cabinets.

The Hudson's Bay Archives includes textual records, maps, art, films, and recordings. These are available to the public. A collection of physical artifacts may be viewed on guided tours. A magnificent long case clock donated by the Hudson's Bay Company now graces the Reading Room. This clock was built by John Ebsworth of London in 1684 and cost 15 pounds. It is walnut with brass fixtures, and must be wound once a month. For most of its history it chimed the hours in the HBC's London Headquarters. Today to the researcher in the Reading Room, it is a vivid reminder of the centuries of history spanned by the great fur company.

Another very fine gift was recently received from the British Film Institute: a film collection of 40 original and 80 duplicate reels documenting HBC operations and life in Inuit and First Nations Communities between 1919 and 1939. The collection includes "The Romance of the North", a very high quality film commissioned by the HBC in 1919 which premiered in Winnipeg in May, 1920 at the luxurious movie palace, the Allen Theatre.

The Archives commissioned Five Doors Films to put together excerpts in an hour long film with an original musical score. This was shown to the public in three screenings in February 0f 2012. The film will be taken on tour of Northern First Nation and Inuit communities. This will serve a dual purpose: to display Aboriginal and Inuit life in the early twentieth century and to possibly identify anonymous subjects filmed generations ago.

Sources:

www.gov.mb.ca/chc/archives

"Winnipeg Auditorium," the Canadian Encyclopedia

The Hudson's Bay Company Museum Collection: A Gift to the Nation-Staff at the Manitoba Museum

Staff at the Manitoba Provincial Archives and the Hudson's Bay Archives

[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, and volunteer tour guide, Dalnavert Museum

Ontario Graphic Licence Plate Project Progress

I'm pleased to report that the initial response to our call for people interested in purchasing UELAC badge Ontario graphic licence plates has been very strong. We would need to guarantee a minimum order of 200 sets of standard plates in order to proceed - in less than two weeks, we have requests for 41 sets, and a few more for personalized and sample plates. This is a great start, but we need to build on this momentum. Again, we don't need money at this point, but we do need to know if we can find enough people to fill the minimum order. A set of standard plates will sell for approximately $100. Encourage your family and friends. Consider giving a set as a gift. Remind others at branch meetings and events. All of the details can be found on the Dominion Projects page. Send an email with your name, postal address, email address, branch affiliation (if any), and the number and type of plates you'd like to plates@uelac.org.

In the interest of encouraging a little friendly rivalry, let me report that the most requests to date have come from Hamilton Branch, with Col. John Butler Branch currently in second place. All branches, please keep encouraging your members. We hope to have the necessary 200 requests by this coming September, so that we will have enough time to have the plates manufactured, sold, and distributed well ahead of the Association's 2014 Centennial. As ever, feel free to contact me with any questions at plates@uelac.org or 905-486-9777.

...Ben Thornton, Toronto Branch, plates@uelac.org

Central West Regional Meeting: London, Ontario - April 21, 2012

Members and executive who attended the Central West Regional Meeting in London, Ontario on April 21 came home with fresh information, ideas and plans to inspire activity at the branch level. This meeting is always a great forum for communication and sharing among regional members. This year the London and Western Ontario Branch hosted forty-two branch representatives at the London Public Library on Wonderland Road South, for a full day of presentations – welcome from President Bob McBride, War of 1812, Project updates and more – and an interactive social media workshop.

Read more details, with photos.

...B. Schepers UE, Senior VP UELAC

Edmonton Branch: Silver Anniversary Founders' Dinner, May 16

Edmonton Branch will celebrate four noteworthy items at their Founders' Dinner on May 16

- The bicentennial of the beginning of the War of 1812

- The centennial of the founding of the first United Empire Loyalist group in Edmonton

- The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II

- The Silver Anniversary of the present Edmonton Branch, UELAC

Congratulations to the Branch and if you are in the area, please join them - read the event details.

...Ivy Trumpour

Edmonton Branch Takes to the Streets, Helped by UELAC Grant

Each year the UELAC Grants Committee receives funding requests from UELAC Branches for projects which further the aims and goals of UELAC. In 2011, Edmonton Branch received grant funding allowing them to participate in three community parades. Their goal through participation at the Leduc Rodeo parade, the St. Albert Rodeo parade and Fort Saskatchewan parade was to foster public awareness of our national history and in particular the United Empire Loyalists. Read more about Edmonton Parades 2011 and view photos of branch members interacting with the crowd along the parade route. Congratulations to Edmonton Branch on their "First Prize" certificate for "Best Community Group" float in the Fort Saskatchewan parade!

...Bonnie Schepers

Company of Military Historians Honours Todd Braisted, UE

At the Company of Military Historians Annual Meeting at Baltimore, MD on April 21, 2012, the Company announced the Fellows Class of 2012. A member may be named a Fellow of the Company of Military Historians for outstanding accomplishments in a variety of areas. This honour is reserved for those who have demonstrated noteworthy scholarship and service, both within the Company and in the field of military history in general.

Todd Braisted of Mahwah, New Jersey and founder of the Institute of Advanced Loyalist Studies was recognized as a Fellow for his extensive knowledge and work on Loyalists during the War of the American Revolution. Details in the press release can be found here. Readers will note the many accomplishments worthy of this recognition. Since becoming an Honourary Vice-President of UELAC in 2007, Todd has made frequent contributions to our website and social network.

...FHH

Biggest Loyalist Families: Clapman Smith (15 children) by John Noble, UE

Clapman Smith, with 15 children, has been added to the List of the largest Loyalist families – submitted by John Noble, UE. Read about more of the Loyalists' biggest families and note the submission guidelines if you have a large family you would like to contribute.

Loyalist Quarterly by Paul Bunnell: April Issue Now Available

The latest issue of the only U.S. journal devoted to Loyalist studies contains, among others, these topics:

- New Jersey Loyalists Volunteers

- More on the 1812 Ceremonies

- Ask For Digital Newsletter

- Support our UEL Loyalist Trails

- Rock'in Time at Black UEL Society

- Interesting Facts of Loyalist Settlers vs. Passamaquoddy Indians

- Annual Loyalist Dinner

- Patriot's Day

- Loyalists' Day in New Brunswick

More information including subscription details at Paul J. Bunnell's website.

...Editor/Author Paul J. Bunnell, UE

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Headstones which Tell the Family Story

In an effort to better relate to a younger generation, a U.S.-based headstone manufacturer has created new burial markers so visitors can learn more about the deceased and leave messages for them. All it takes is a smartphone or mobile device and a free app.

Seattle-based Quiring Monuments lasers QR — or "quick read" — codes on black plastic and copper stickers. The code looks like a square barcode. They are then stuck on the monument. After scanning the code on a smartphone or an app on a mobile device, like an iPad, visitors are redirected to a website built by the person's family.

For a more extensive description, see the original article, "Headstones become interactive with new app," by Jenni Dunning in the Toronto Star.

Queries

Contributions of Huguenot Descendants in Carolinas during the Revolution

Maj. Steven D. Griffin, currently attending the Command and General Staff at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, is seeking further information for his Masters in Military Art and Science thesis. He is researching the contributions of the descendants of Huguenot refugees to the American Revolution particularly in the Carolinas. Maj. Griffin is looking at it from both the Patriot and Loyalist perspectives while looking at religious affiliation, settlement and marriage patterns, and also military tradition in refugee families.

While he is aware that many loyalist families eventually migrated to what became modern Canada, any ideas or suggestions that you would be willing to share regarding further research in this topic would be greatly appreciated. The final paper will be available to the public at the CGSC website upon its completion at the end of this year. He can be contacted at gruntldr@gmail.com

An Archive Home for Eastman and Hollingshead Loyalist Genealogies

Recently these Loyalist genealogies were given to me with the request that I donate them to an appropriate archives. The pages are in 4 binder-type folders with 50, 27, 50 and 20 pages - of excerpts from an obviously larger book. Each folder covers a line with history and descendants. There are references but no index.

I look forward to sending these to an appropriate archives, but I need some advice about which archives would be the most valuable. I am hoping a UE member knows these families, and who perhaps would find value in the information and can recommend an archival home.

...Doris Ann Lemon, UE

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