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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2012 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2012-23: June 10, 2012


Skulking Loyalists -- by Stephen Davidson

According to the Oxford Dictionary, "skulk" means to "move stealthily or lurk" and is synonymous with being "out of sight, hidden or elusive". However, for the loyalists of the American Revolution, skulking meant "survival in desperate times". Here are eight stories of men who skulked in the forests of the Thirteen Colonies and lived to tell their tales.

Joseph (or perhaps, Joshua) Curry's story is a brief one. Prior to the Revolution, Curry lived in Peekskill along New York's Hudson River. His rebel neighbours fined him a number of times for failing to attend musters of the local militia. Persecution drove him from his home, and by March of 1777 he joined the British army. Curry later worked as a refugee farmer in Morrisania, and, at the peace, sailed north to modern day New Brunswick.

In his testimony to the 1787 Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists (RCLSAL) in Saint John, Curry said that before enlisting "he had skulked and had never taken any part with the rebels". In other words, he was forced to live in the woods after patriots drove him from his house and family. Choosing to remain near his home, Curry "skulked", watching to see if it was safe to return. His experience was certainly not unique.

John Middagh was a New Yorker who had lived in Ulster County. Declaring himself a loyalist at the beginning of "the Troubles", Middagh "suffered a great Deal from the Rebels on that account. Was driven from his house in 1777, and was obliged to skulk in the woods for almost a whole winter". Undaunted by the fact that rebels killed his brother for recruiting for the British army, Middagh joined Sir John Johnson's Second Battalion in 1779. After 1783, the loyalist skulker settled in modern-day Cornwall, Ontario.

Captain Henry Ruiter settled on Caldwell's Manor near Lake Champlain at the end of the war. He was a native of Pittston, Pennsylvania who "from the first declared against the measures pursued by the rebels." Because of this, he later testified, he "was obliged to leave home and had been skulking in the woods till he could join General Burgoyne." Encouraging some other loyalists to enlist, Ruiter served under Major Rogers in the King's Rangers. In 1783, Ruiter was discharged at St.-Jean on the Richelieu River.

Jeremiah Spencer had also served in the King's Rangers and had settled with other loyalists in Caldwell's Manor. A native of Vermont, Spencer used his cart and oxen to help the British army in the five weeks following Burgoyne's surrender at the Battle of Saratoga. Upon his return home, rebels imprisoned Spencer for over three months. He later testified that he "skulked about" after returning to his family, but used his time of banishment to serve in scouting parties.

Spencer took his family to Quebec in the summer of 1782. That fall, he and three of his sons joined the King's Rangers, serving for the last 13 months of the revolution. An interesting part of Spencer's testimony to the RCLSAL was that his "sons were so young that they could not enter into {a} year {of} service without him."

Hugh Clarke was a Scottish immigrant who settled in New York's Tryon County in 1774. With the outbreak of the revolution, he joined Captain Macdonald, fully intending to serve in Burgoyne's army. After a short stay in Quebec, Clarke returned to his 300-acre farm. However, he was "very soon obliged to quit his home and shelter in the woods. Kept skulking in the woods, sometimes on his own land". With no hope of reclaiming his farm, Clarke returned to Quebec and enlisted in Sir John Johnson's Regiment in 1780. Six years later, this skulking loyalist had settled in Shelburne, Nova Scotia where he testified before the RCLSAL. How he came to live there is not revealed in his testimony.

Rebels forced David Kent and his son Stephen to leave their farm in Woodbridge, New Jersey in 1777, abandoning David's wife and maiden daughter. "They skulked about till they could get to Staten Island, then went to New York." Within a year, David Kent died; Stephen continued to serve as a volunteer in New York for the remainder of the war. The Kents had had anonymous threats made on their lives as early as 1775, so returning to Woodbridge at the end of the war was out of the question. Stephen took his mother and sister to Saint John, New Brunswick where he became a tavern owner. Two of his sisters had married patriots and remained in New Jersey.

A loyalist who just might have raised a flagon of ale at Kent's tavern was John Wiggins. This Ulster County farmer had to flee his home in 1776 and find refuge in the home of John Lawson. Wiggins later testified that he "sheltered himself there for some time when skulking from the rebels". After the revolution, Wiggins and his family settled in Portland, a community bordering Saint John, New Brunswick.

Jacob Stanburner was the last skulking loyalist to give testimony before the RCLSAL. The German immigrant and his four sons once laboured on a Schoharie River Valley farm. When Stanburner's sons joined the British army in 1777, rebels retaliated by putting Jacob in jail. After keeping Stanburner under house arrest for a year, the farmer's rebel neighbours seized his property and plundered his Harpersfield home. Stanburner fled to Connecticut and spent "several years skulking about". After several attempts to get to Quebec overland failed, Stanburner left the United States in one of the loyalist evacuation ships in the summer of 1783. He disembarked at Sorel, and five years later had settled with other refugees in modern-day Cornwall, Ontario. Whether Stanburner was ever reunited with his wife and four sons is not recorded.

Scattered from Shelburne to Cornwall and points in between, the eight loyalists who remembered skulking in the forests of the Thirteen Colonies began new lives in the British North American wilderness, never to be forced from their homes again.

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

New York's Loyalist Population: Who were they? – Christopher Minty

Loyalists from the American Revolutionary Era remain among the most perplexing group of individuals in the eighteenth century. Living throughout British North America, the growth of an insurgent revolutionary movement polarized homes, villages and cities. Colonists were torn apart through fundamental differences in allegiance. We have moved on from the analysis an aged John Adams gave us in 1815, that Loyalists comprised roughly one-third of colonists. We will, however, never be able to physically count every single Loyalist, but Paul Smith made a credible effort when researching Loyalist regiments. Roughly 519,000 colonists remained loyal to King George III and the British government. Although they were present in every colony, ranging from Virginia to Massachusetts, the colony where Loyalists were most numerous and attracted to throughout the Revolutionary War was New York.

My doctoral thesis centers on a cluster of Loyalists from New York, 3,745 to be exact. Each Loyalist that I have identified voluntarily signed a subscription list, petition or declaration expressing their continued allegiance and loyalty to the Crown. I have collected petitions that were published in the colonial press which were often curtained by various advertisements and official proceedings. Alongside these, I have made use of two large unpublished declarations from the New-York Historical Society, which archivists have termed "Declarations of Dependence". What is unique about these "Declarations of Dependence" and various petitions is the range of signatories, who these Loyalists were. The main research question of my thesis is "who were the Loyalists?", and this is what I have been attempting to answer since I began my research in October 2010.

This has proved an overwhelming task for one single scholar, but the rewards I have yielded thus far have made it hugely rewarding. I have utilised tax records, probate records, family papers, private correspondence, muster rolls and colonial newspaper to synthesis as much information as possible. When I use newspapers for example, it is often a single article that contains a single piece of information that I can use to understand who these men were. For example, in Rivington's Royal Gazette contains invaluable snippets of information regarding Loyalists in New York during the Revolution, offering unique insights into their lives within British New York.

As would be expected, I have managed to accumulate more information regarding prominent Loyalists such as the De Lanceys, de Peysters, and Bayard families. Other lesser known families have proved more difficult to find, but their places in history have not been lost to posterity. During a research trip to New York City in November 2011 I decided to make a short trip to the Brooklyn Historical Society. After a short journey on the subway I discussed my project with the archivist, who was more than happy to go into some detail about the collections they held. This proved to be one of the most valuable hours of research to date. I managed to consult family papers of three lesser known families—Lefferts, Remsen and Van der Bilt. Although my thesis does not seek to dissociate itself from men like Frederick Philipse, Samuel Seabury or Oliver De Lancey, it is the average colonist I want to pull back into the limelight. T. H. Breen has recently attempted to restore the average "insurgent" into historical literature, but in doing so he has pushed the Loyalists further into the abyss. Loyalists have, however, received the historical attentions of gifted scholars in recent times, with Maya Jasanoff (Harvard Univ.) providing an utterly compelling account of the Loyalist Diaspora. Jasanoff's Liberty's Exiles has also been awarded the Washington Book Prize, pushing the Loyalists back into the public eye. Although a crucial addition to Loyalist literature, Jasanoff's text does suffer from an elitist outlook. She does, however, look at an African-American Loyalist and a female Loyalist, but the majority of her other subjects (Gen. Carleton and Lord Dunmore for example) were hardly the "average" Loyalist. This is the historical lacunae that my thesis hopes to fill. Who were the Loyalists? We know they ranged across society: they were farmers, cordwainers, blacksmiths, royal officials, merchants. But who were they really? What were their stories? How were they mobilized to Loyalism? Did they know one another? Were their friends also Loyalists? These are just some of the questions I hope to answer throughout my research, and I hope to be able to share my findings with the UELAC as I progress.

If you would like to know more about specific Loyalists I am currently researching or about Loyalism in New York, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am also going to be in Fredericton, New Brunswick, for three weeks in August and September 2012 for research and would love to meet up with fellow Loyalist enthusiasts to discuss these compelling individuals.

On a slightly different topic, I have recently been a co-designer of a project run by the National Library of Scotland on American history. One aspect of this project focuses upon Loyalism in New York and specifically Dr Myles Cooper and Dr Charles Inglis. A YouTube video where I discuss an aspect of my work can be found here.

...Christopher F. Minty, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Stirling

Conference at the Confluence in Winnipeg

I am in Winnipeg along with a large group of enthusiastic loyalists at the "Conference at the Confluence 2012" – the UELAC annual gathering and annual meeting from June 7 to 10. The event is come to a conclusion now on Sunday morning with Church and Brunch yet to come.

The event has been well organized, and like each year's conference, a good time has been had by all. Our thanks to Manitoba Branch for organizing and hosting. As editor of Loyalist Trails, my special thanks to Mary Steinhoff UE, Secretary of Manitoba Branch who has over the last few months given all of us who read Loyalist Trails a great introduction to the history of Winnipeg and Manitoba.

David Pugsley Loyalist of Nova Scotia Now Proven

After a few years of struggling with his records for his UE Certificate application, I was able to intervene and assist with Hugh's application. On May 16 last, at the Edmonton Branch, Hugh Logan Critchley UE was presented with his loyalist certificate, recognizing him as a descendant of David Pugsley UE (1759 - 1841).

In a deposition in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, as read before William Black, Justice of peace in Amherst, David Pugsley (born 1759) states that he resided in Cumberland County NS from the 15th day of July 1783. David was looking for compensation for a farm and livestock he lost in N.Y. as a result of the war. David Pugsley testifies that he had joined the Westchester Loyalists in 1779.

David Pugsley's father, John Pugsley UE born 1736, was an Adjutant and served as a Guide to Loyalist forces. John's petition of claim for his losses on his farm beside Courtland Manor, New York, is found in Loyalist Bureau of Archives, # 1904, page 777, New Claim...(November 2, 1786) 640. Case of John Pugsley, late of New York. In this petition John Pugsley describes his loyal service, and provides a certificate from Colonel Emerick as well as several witnesses to support his claim.

As all of this unfolded, and both David and John settled in Cumberland County, David received his grant of land in Westchester, whereas John received his land in Wallace. David left an extensive will which named thirteen of his fourteen children, so there are many opportunites for Loyalist Certificate applications for other descendant lineages.

...Richard Ripley, UE, Loyalist Genealogist

Hostetter Family History Book Now Available on CD

To honour Herman Hostetter UEL, and as part of the 1812 celebration, the city of St. Catharines is sponsoring a memorial ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 8th at the Hostetter-Cooke burial ground.

Herman Hostetter UEL was born at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, about 1753. He was one of several children of Abraham Hostetter and Ann Long. Both were Swiss Mennonites. Herman married Ann Newman Kennedy in 1783 at the Anglican Church at Shelburne, NS. She was the daughter of John Kennedy UEL of Ireland, South Carolina and Nova Scotia.

Herman first served with the Pennsylvania Engineers. It is thought the Engineers were incorporated into a New York unit. John Kennedy became a pilot in New York. How Herman and Ann met is unknown. They moved to various locations in Upper Canada (Toronto and Long Point ) before settling permanently in Upper Canada at what is now St. Catharines on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. This is where the Hostetter-Cooke Burial ground is and where Herman and Ann Hostetter are buried.

For service during the American Revolution he had a few land grants, but the Grantham site was where the family settled permanently. Grantham Township is close to Queenston Heights where the battle in 1812 was fought. By 1812 Hostetter was 60 years old, but he responded to the call. There is differing opinion as to the cause of his death, but it is known he returned to his farm, Pleasant Valley, from the battle site where he died the 10th of December 1812 His family did care deeply for each other as Herman was named in his father's will along with all of his siblings. I am very proud of this ancestor who fought for his beliefs, leaving behind in Pennsylvania his family who he never saw again. Because of his loyalty to the Crown, I happily carry the UE designation as part of my identity.

An aside: The Hostetter Family book by Hostetter and Bachman was published in 1984. It contained the families of Jacob and Anna of 1712 and Oswald and Maria/Mary of 1732. The book has been out of print since 1994.

It is now on CD at $30.00. It can be purchased from: Sidney M. Hostetter, President, Hostetter Family Assoc., 145 Valley Road, Mt. Gretna, PA 17064

...Joyce Stevens UE

New Details About Billy "The Scout" Green

Following publication of stories about Billy Green which raised issues, Billy Green and Balderdash was written. Research continued and new new details about the disputed role of Bill "The Scout" Green in the Battle of Stoney Creek have been documented. Now available on the UELAC website is the revised booklet Billy Green and Balderdash and an essay, Billy Green and More Balderdash.

As well, an article from the Hamilton Community News, dated 24 May, 2012, entitled Legend of Billy Green based on fact not fiction, where David Clark, U.E., and Douglas Green, U.E., have summarized recorded new historical details that contradict the revisionist history created in Strange Fatality, Appendix 'A', by James Elliott and various newspaper articles by Colwyn Beynon.

Handwritten papers, recently found in a box of Corman family documents again show that there were various copies made of the Billy Green story. The story was originally written down in June, 1819, but we do not have the original. Some of the later versions include copying mistakes which have cast doubts on the account. But we can now be certain of the wording of the original version. It provides a clear and coherent account of Billy's location during the actual Battle of Stoney Creek. Billy's story of the battle is completely consistent with American and Canadian documents, and it is important in providing new details supporting the major participation of Billy Green in the routing of the American Army at Stoney Creek.

...David Clark, UE

The Tech Side: Wireless Phones – by Wayne Scott, UE

An email from one of our members prompted me to look into cell phones. Lois mentioned that there are a lot of options available. Sometimes the terms used are confusing and plans sometimes seem misleading. I am one of the few who does not have a cell phone; however, my wife has one which is used generally for emergencies or occasional use. So this is a good opportunity for me to look at cell phone plans.

While doing research for this article, I ran across a wonderful site that attempts to address many questions that arise: My goal is not to say which phone is the best, but to answer some questions and give you things to think about.

In planning a phone/plan purchase, there are some basic questions that need answers to get you started. What will your primary use for a mobile phone be? Will it be used for occasional chatting while away from home phones? Will it be used strictly for emergency purposes? Do you want to connect to the internet or receive email? Are you an avid texter? With the answers to these questions, you will be ready to log onto the Compare Cellular site.

If you would like to know which cellular companies service your area, click on Coverage Maps. Select from 23 providers, and then select the province. If the provider services the province selected, more detailed coverage maps are shown.

The next option might be to look at the different plans available. Click on the corresponding tab. There are dozens of choices which will be narrowed down by the question answers you generated earlier on. Let's say that your phone use will be occasional and you do not text. Click on Voice Only Plans after selecting Province and Area. Select Talk and Text Plans, then Voice Only plans. Here there is only 1 option listed. However, by selecting the Plans Up To $24.00, a number of plan options are shown. The same goes for most service providers. A very useful tool offered by the site is the ability to compare up to 4 plans side by side to see the differences.

As an example, let's say that you like the Fido 100 plan. In order to get the full most current information on this choice, go directly to the website, in this case. Noticeable is the lack of a System Activation Fee (usually $35.00). If you want voice mail and call display, there is an additional monthly charge. On talking with a representative, this fee was lowered to $6.00. Your monthly bill would be $26.00 for the phone service. Regardless of the company you plan to deal with, check by phone to insure that you have the current information and any promotions that are available.

With any plan, the more extras you sign up for, the more expensive your plan will become. In looking at the plan information, you will see whether your calls are being charged to the minute (which will be rounded up to the next whole minute), or to the second. If you do a lot of calling, this difference can be significant. Also, check the early cancellation information. With some companies, the cancellation fees are rather steep.

At this point, you don't have a telephone to use. By visiting the vendor's site, you will be guided through the process of selecting a plan and a phone. If your plan is for 1 year, the monthly cost of a phone will be more significant than if your plan runs for 3 years. Also be sure to look for any promotional offers from the provider.

There are countless options that can be considered. Let's say that you have an iPad and want to use it on a trip. Go to a Rogers phone centre and arrange to have one of their Rocket Sticks for use for a month. Yes, some plans can be used for only a short period of time. With the Rogers Rocket Stick your iPad operates on the telephone network.

If you want to use your wireless telephone while vacationing in Florida, there are some fairly substantial roaming fees applied to your bill. To overcome this, a new area sim card can be purchased. This makes your cell phone a local phone in the Florida location. Not all phones have the option to change sim cards. It pays to ask questions. Every cell phone provider website will have the option to chat with a sales representative. Most will have FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) sections. Make sure to call a phone store and check on the phone and plan you are interested in. Sometimes it is less expensive online.

If the phone you are interested in is a seniors phone, in that it does not have a camera, it has slightly bigger keys, and does not receive or send texts, then Rogers may have a plan for you: It should be noted that the Rogers Seniors Phone is the only plan being marketed primarily to Seniors that I have seen here in Ontario.

You can email Wayne Scott to get in touch with questions or comments.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond


Proof of Marriage: Phebe Elliott & Aaron Comstock

I'm looking for proof of marriage of PHEBE ELLIOTT born in 1779 in Dutchess NY, died before 1818 in Yonge Twp, Leeds Co, daughter of JOHN ELLIOTT of Elizabethtown, Leeds Co. According to Reid's "Sons and Daughters of American Loyalists", Phebe was one of John Elliott's 11 children, 6 of whom had Orders in Council, but not Phebe. According to this book, she married AARON COMSTOCK, but I have been unable to find proof of this marriage. Aaron Comstock 1773- 1803/1804 Yonge Twp., had 2 daughters, Lydia (1799-1890) married George Purvis (1794-1878) of Yonge Twp, buried at Lyn, Leeds Co. ; and Lavinia (1803 - 1874) married George G. Purvis (1799-1890), buried Mallorytown, Leeds Co.

Any suggestions as to how to obtain a proof of the Comstock-Elliott marriage greatly appreciated.

...Gerry Tordiff

Henry Stultz/Stults Westchester Loyalist

I am seeking information about the Westchester Loyalists who received land grants at Cobequid in 1785. My 5x great grandfather was Henry Stultz/Stults, He came to Nova Scotia on the Brig Thetis in 1783 and was granted land in 1785 at the same time that land was granted to the Ramshag group.

I am trying to find any information on him and his family and have been successful in finding his children, but only reference to his name and no references to his age other than that he died at the age of 74 before 1899.

He had land grants in up in Lewisville, and Westmorland County, New Brunswick that were also grouped with others so information has been elusive.

Henry had a son John who died in 1899 who did an interview for the Moncton Times and told of his father having a Grist Mill that later went to the Humphrey family because of a debt he owed. But nowhere have I found any information of his actual age, tho he died at the age of 74 and was married to a women named Elizabeth (unknown). They had 10 children in NB. He is supposedly from New Jersey but I have not found any record to prove that. I think he may have been of German descent, others in NB believe him to be English. Lots of questions and as I am of a great distance, local research is challenging.

I have checked the NB Archives but they too have very little information from that time period. Only a couple of land grants that were done in groups of men receiving land. No real personal information is found. Here is a copy of what I have that says he was in this group:




In 1785 the Loyalists received large grants at Cobequid (Westchester) and Ramshag (Wallace). At Cobequid 31,750 acres were distributed on the 2nd of June among 85 persons representing 246 men, women and children. The grantees were:

Stephen Seaman, Matthew Dallaway, Ezekiel Seaman, Peter Rushlin, Jesse Ogden, Thomas Wheaton, Moses Simmonds, David Pugsley, Israel Parker, John Glieson, Henry Piers, James Ackel, James Morris, Charles Jennings, Wright Weeks, William Lopree, Johna than Palmer, John Mayby, Joseph Sears, Jeremiah Seaman, John Crawford, Joseph Purdy, David Mills, Joseph Peime, Daniel Dickerson, Shubad Lewis, Stephen Purdy, William Coon, Charles Vincent, Jesse Schofield, Josiah Baker, James Mead, Samuel Bishop, John Williams, Samuel Wood, John Sherwood, James Chasse, Nathaniel Hodge, John Ogden, Lieut, Samuel Embree, Zacchriah Snieder, Joshua Horton, John Wilson, Jeremiah Rushtin, Lieut. Abraham Covert, Henry Stultz, Henry Gray, Simon Outhouse, Robert Purdy, Peter Maby, Lieut. Gilbert Haveland, Jabez Rundle, John Rushtin, Sr.; Martin Creary, Jonathan Snider, Nathan Golding, Obadiah Simpson, Aaron Fountain, Henry Frenchard, John Baxter, Nathaniel Purdy, David Ackley, Joseph Embree, Jr.; John Hunter, John Rimiss, James Miller, James Lounsbury, Henry Purdy, Elijah Smith, Jonathan Warden, Daniel Holmes, James Austen, John Austen, Samuel Horton, Caleb Griffin, Amos Fowler, John Myers, John Brisbane, Capt. Gideon Palmer, Nathaniel Ackley and Benjamin Chamberlain.


Date :1911

Web Address:

...Susan Cox

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