Connect with us online:

Make a donation and help preserve Loyalist history
Make a donation and help
preserve Loyalist history

Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2012 Archive

Previous Issue   |   Index   |   Next Issue

"Loyalist Trails" 2012-19: May 13, 2012

Articles

Two Widows Twice Blessed — by Stephen Davidson

Usually the system does not work for the weak and downtrodden. The rich tend to get richer and the poor only poorer. However, when the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists (RCLSAL) met in Montreal, two loyalist widows fared better than most of their contemporaries. If you had been Eleanor Huffman or Christian Cameron you would have described yourself as twice blessed.

When the RCLSAL first convened in London in 1783, the rich and influential loyalists who sought compensation for their lost income and property were generally given all that they asked. Many of these loyal Americans then turned around and returned to live in the new United States. Naturally this abuse of the compensation system was not appreciated. By the time the RCLSAL travelled to Montreal, the board only compensated loyalists for a third of their losses.

If widows could not present sufficient documents or witnesses, they received no compensation for their husbands' seized property and effects. Since there were no life insurance policies to draw upon or charitable organizations to care for loyal widows, the only hope these women had for economic stability was to remarry – and quickly.

Thirty-eight widows appealed to the Montreal compensation board between the fall of 1787 and the spring of 1788. Of these, ten had married men they had met at loyal refugee camps in Yamachiche or Sorel. While all of these widows received some sort of cash compensation for their late husbands' losses, only two were in marriages where both of the spouses were compensated. These women received money for the seized possessions that had belonged to their first husbands, while their new husbands were reimbursed what they had lost. They were twice blessed by a government that rarely compensated its beleaguered loyalists with any fairness.

Sometime in the mid-1760s, Peter Maybee (Mabie) made Eleanor his bride. Originally a Dutchess County farmer, Maybee had moved north to settle in Saratoga, New York. Their first son, John, was born in 1765. Eleven years later, having "improved 60 acres", Maybee went off to join Col. Jessup's loyalist corps. He served in General Burgoyne's failed campaign, and, by the winter of 1777, had died in Canada.

After Saratoga's rebels made off with the family's livestock and furniture, Eleanor sought sanctuary in the colony where her husband had died. At the end of the war, she and 18 year-old John were living in the refugee camp in Sorel along the St. Lawrence River.

While in Sorel, Eleanor met and married a loyalist named Joseph Huffman (Hoffman). Before he was employed in "the Kings Works", he had lived in Claverock in upper New York. Although rebels coerced Huffman to sign an "association" and to train in the local militia, it was "never with his inclination." Finally, circumstances compelled him to leave his father's farm in 1775. Two years later Huffman was part of Burgoynes' forces at Fort Edward; he then served with Jessup's corps until the end of the war.

After marrying Widow Maybee, Huffman and his new family settled with other loyalist refugees in Cataraqui (modern day Kingston, Ontario). In September of 1787, four years after the revolution ended, Eleanor Huffman sailed down the St. Lawrence River to appear before the RCLSAL in Montreal. Despite the testimony of two witnesses who knew Peter Maybee, she received no immediate decision on her claims.

Five months later, Joseph Huffman went to Montreal to seek compensation for his own losses. He took the opportunity to speak on behalf of his wife, revealing that besides a loss of property, Maybee had also been owed rent. Huffman then went on to recount all that he himself had lost on his father's farm, including three horses, two yoke of oxen, two sleighs, a wagon, and a cow. Huffman must have made a good case. The RCLSAL board commissioner allowed that both Mr. and Mrs. Huffman should be granted compensation.

The only other loyalist widow to enjoy such unexpected generosity was Christian Cameron. When she married the Scottish immigrant, Donald Ross, he was the widowed father of two sons. Christian and Donald eventually had three children of their own, Ann, Mary and Alex.

The family of seven lived on a farm land belonging to Sir John Johnson before Donald Ross and his oldest son joined the British army. Ross served at Fort Stanwix (modern day Rome, New York) for four years. He died of an illness after returning to Quebec. Later, his oldest son also died. Finley, the second son, fled north in 1780, but his step-mother Christian Ross stayed on their farm for three more years. Persecution from rebel neighbours forced her and the three youngest children to finally seek sanctuary in Canada.

With so many young children in her care, Widow Ross needed a husband. She met an older soldier who had served in the 84th regiment, a man named William Cameron. This Scot had come to North America to fight in the Seven Years War as a member of Fraser's Highlanders. He purchased his discharge in 1766 and settled in Kingwood, New Jersey. There he had both a farm and an "iron works".

After their marriage, William and Christian Cameron settled along the River Raisine near modern-day Cornwall, Ontario. In January of 1788, Christian and her step-son Finley travelled to Montreal to seek compensation from the British government. Finley, not yet 21, impressed the commissioner as being a "very fair young man". The money for the losses sustained by Christian's first husband was paid to him, his two half-sisters, and his half-brother.

In the following month, William Cameron made his own journey to Montreal. He recounted his war service and his losses in just few words, citing five cows, clothes, and furniture among his losses. Cameron returned home with some much needed cash, having been recognized as a loyalist. Christian Cameron, a loyalist's widow and a loyalist's wife, was – like her contemporary Eleanor Huffman – a twice blessed woman.


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

Samuel Carman (1782 - 1864) © George McNeillie

Julia Carman was about ten months my junior, a playmate in childhood and I think my first correspondent. She became engaged to Frank Bourne when she was only sixteen. She had excellent ability and became a teacher in the public schools in Woodstock. She was at one time the principal soprano in St. Luke’s choir. Her short married life, and her death on New Year’s Day, 1878, leaving a babe born on Christmas Day, was the cause of much sorrow among her friends and relatives.

Harriet L., the only surviving member of the family at this date (1920) was par excellence the musician of the family, although she had little musical training outside of what she received from her mother and her experience in the church choir. She had a remarkably good ear and could play almost anything she had heard once or twice. She was always much in demand at parties as a volunteer for dance music. For many years she was the organist at Christ Church Woodstock and sang alto in the choir both there and in St. Luke’s Church choir.

Minnie S., the youngest of the family, was about the same age as my brother Arthur. Encouraged by my brother Lee she attended the Provincial Normal School and made her first attempt at school teaching, if I remember rightly, at the “Cedar Hill School” next door to her own home. She afterwards taught at the “Broadway Public School” in Woodstock for at least twenty-five years. She was a great favourite of Archdeacon and Mrs. Neales of Woodstock.

So much for the family of Uncle Odber and Aunt Mary Carman, who filled a large place in our early life.

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": St. Boniface Museum

Just down the street from St. Boniface Cathedral is the oldest building and the largest log structure in Western Canada. It began its history as the Grey Nuns’ Convent.

The Order of the Sisters of Charity was founded by Marguerite D’Youville, the widow of a notorious fur trader and bootlegger to Natives. His death meant that she had to work very hard to support her family. Later in life she founded the order commonly known as Les Soeurs Grises, sometimes called the tipsy nuns because of her husband’s unsavoury reputation. As a mark of humility, their habits are grey

The order was primarily devoted to the care of the poor and the sick. In Montreal they assumed management of the General Hospital of Montreal. As the order moved into other regions they very often found themselves in communities where a full range of social services were needed.

In 1844 four Grey Nuns made the arduous trek from Montreal to Red River by canoe, enduring miles of rough water and more than a hundred portages. Their main purpose was to establish educational institutions for girls in the Red River Colony. Once established, they would take on other responsibilities.

Their convent, built between 1846 and 1847, contained living quarters, a girls’ school, an orphanage, and an infirmary. In 1871 a separate infirmary building was constructed with four beds. This was the beginning of St. Boniface Hospital which exists to this day, greatly expanded and renowned for its cardiac research. The recently constructed Asper Cardiac Research Centre is adjacent to the hospital.

In 1958 the Sisters of Charity moved to a new large brick residence. The future of the Convent was in doubt, but the Sisters were determined that it not be demolished.

In the 1960s it was restored and transformed into St. Boniface Museum, opening in 1967. Today its collection includes over 10, 000 artifacts reflecting Franco-Manitoban and Métis history. Its exhibition rooms depict various aspects of Franco-Manitoban life in the nineteenth century: a Métis hunting camp with Red River carts, a middle-class dining room, a kitchen, and a shop.

The chapel contains a bell given to Father Provencher and the St. Boniface Parish by Lord Selkirk. This bell was made at the Whitechapel Foundry in London. This foundry, established in 1570, is the oldest manufacturer in Britain, and has made many of the most famous bells in Europe, including Big Ben (1858). The Globe and Mail recently published an article about the Whitechapel Foundry (“In Britain, it’s a year with something to ring about”, Friday, March 9, 2012). The article said that this year it is casting eight bells for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and a monster bell to be rung at the opening of the Olympics. It is extraordinary that here in St. Boniface Museum we have an older “little sister” of these bells.

The Museum has an a small but very fine collection of nineteenth century guns and rifles, including an example of a Snider-Enfield, carried by British and Canadian soldiers of the Wolseley Expedition in 1870.

St. Boniface has a large collection of Riel artifacts and memorabilia, including a pair of his moccasins, a sash, school records, and one of the three coffins in which his body lay prior to burial. This coffin had been housed in the fourth incarnation of the Cathedral and its charred exterior is testament to its near destruction in the fire of 1968.

Snider Enfield rifle,1864, Photo by Robert Barrow

Le Musee de Saint-Boniface Museum Collection

Staff of Le Musee de Saint-Boniface Museum

Sources:

Winnipeg: Where the West Begins, by Eric Wells.

msbn.mb.ca

www.manitobasignaturemuseum.ca

www.winnipegtimemachine.com

[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

Draw for Loyalist Quilt from Costume Branch

At the Fall 2011 Dominion Council Meeting, Governor Simcoe Branch member, Daryl Currie UE, brought forth a suggestion for raising money for all the Branches across Canada by selling tickets on a draw for a Loyalist Quilt, originally designed and completed by Costume Branch in 1988 - 1989.

This quilt will be on display at the UELAC Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 06 - 10 June 2012. Each branch would then sell tickets and keep the funds raised, and the final draw will be held at Conference 2013, hosted by Hamilton Branch.

Click here (PDF) to view the quilt and its description.

UELAC Annual General Meeting and Dominion Council Meeting

A great deal of planning and teamwork is evident in the wealth of information available on the Winnipeg Conference website. A reminder that a Genealogists' Workshop will be held on Thursday, 07 June 2012 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and there will be a Membership Forum being presented by the Dominion Council Membership Committee in the Hospitality Suite at the Fort Garry Hotel that same afternoon beginning at 3:00 p.m.

I would like to thank everyone who submitted their reports for the UELAC Annual General Meeting being held on 09 June 2012. The reports have been posted on the password-protected website. Thanks as well to those of you who have registered for the AGM or sent in your proxies to Gloria Howard, UELAC Credentials Chairperson. If you have not done so yet, please contact Gloria as soon as possible as there are only three weeks left until we meet in Winnipeg.

My wife, Grietje, and I are looking forward very much to taking in the events, workshops and sights that weekend. See you there!

...Robert C. McBride UE, UELAC Dominion President

Scholars Explain Large Loyalist Families

Two historians, Esther Clark Wright and Mary Beacock Fryer, have both made references to the large size of loyalist families in their books.

In her 1955 classic, The Loyalists of New Brunswick, Wright observed: “... Families which had been accustomed to three to eight children in their former homes had six to eighteen children after the move to New Brunswick. For the next two generations thirteen was a usual number of children in New Brunswick families, and it was not unusual for every child to reach maturity … The early marriages, as well s the climate and the economic advantages, promoted large families. There was also a psychological factor which encouraged large families. Among a group set down in a new country, whether in the wilderness or among strangers, there is always the urge to increase the size of the group. The loneliness, the sense of being overwhelmed by the forest, the desert, or the strange races around, act as a powerful stimulant to family increase.”

In her 1980 landmark study of loyalist settlement, King’s Men: the Soldier Founders of Ontario, Fryer noted: “Both Stuart and Bethune {ministers in Cataraqui} were soon busy baptizing, for once the loyalist families knew they were secure, the birth rate went up rapidly. A social phenomenon evident in several families showed that even where wives were close at hand, no babies were born during the time of displacement in refugee accommodation. Husbands must have practiced a form of birth control.”

Addendum to Thomas Crothers His Heirs and Assigns Forever

I was so, so pleased to see your article in Loyalist Trails. Your ancestor was quite a mystery to me when I was researching my Master Roll of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York and you have provided a great deal of information that I was unable to find.

Here’s Thomas’s entry in the Master Roll:

Crothers, Thomas, d.22Jul80.[S14], 19Jun76[4], 1, Lieutenant

Pte, Harrison's Coy, Brit Militia, '75.[T82] Vol from QC, '76.[9] Ens, Daly's Coy, '76.[4] Rank'd as Lieut, 11Dec77[78]; Alex McD's Coy, '77.[T90,20]

Quebec

Widow, "a genteel sort of woman, has four children, the youngest only four months old, and is destitute of funds and relations in this part of the world."[S74]

As Thomas served in the Quebec City anglo-militia battalion during the defence of the city, I think it’s safe to assume that he came off from Tryon County in 1775 with Colonel Guy Johnson, John and Walter Butler and a great many others. Thomas was obviously very close to the Johnsons and Butlers, as he named his son after both families.

As I’ve found so many new items of information and a few errors about the other men who served, my publisher is supposed to be preparing an errata sheet for the book, but he’s too busy to tackle it right now. I will be sure to send him the information that you’ve provided, as it sheds so much light on Thomas’s background.

Should you become really curious about the regiment and its campaigns, here’s a link to my books. You’ll be able to drown yourself in all this stuff when the snows are so deep, you can’t get outdoors. http://gavinwatt.ca/

Although Mrs. Butler signed her name on the Indenture as “Callyna”, the complete spelling was Catalyntje. She was Dutch in background with the maiden name Bradt. Bill Smy, who is THE expert on Butler’s Rangers advises she was illiterate, like so many others of that time.

...Gavin Watt, HVP, UELAC

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
- Vollick, Isaac - from Rick Smith, with certificate application

Last Post: Gladys Isabel Long (née Van der Voort)

Passed away quietly, at the age of 92, at PRHC on May 2, 2012. Born in Belleville of U.E.L. parents, raised in Oshawa, she came to Peterborough with husband Arthur Long to build a new life. They joined George Street United Church and formed life-long friendships.

Gladys lovingly raised her 3 children Darlene (Hans Wittwer), Cheryl (Fred Doyle) and David (Holly Rule). Sister of the late Eva Hadley, and Donald &Walter Van der Voort. Gladys is survived by many grand- and great-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held in Wright Hall of Northminster United Church (294 Sunset Blvd.) on Thursday, May 10, 2012. Donations to the charity of your choice would be gratefully accepted. Online condolences may be made at www.comstockfuneralhome.com. From the Peterborough Examiner.

...Lynne Cook UE

Back to Top   |   Loyalist Trails index   |   Subscribe Now