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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2013 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2013-41: October 13, 2013

Articles

Dear Susey (Part One of Two), by Stephen Davidson

Susannah McDonald was the wife of the loyalist, Alexander McDonald. When he fled to Nova Scotia in 1774, Susannah and her four children were left to fend for themselves on Staten Island. Mrs McDonald's hardships were not unique ones; hundreds – if not thousands – of loyalist wives experienced the same isolation, persecution, and deprivations. Tragically, very few of these brave women's stories have survived the American Revolution. But because of the letters Alexander wrote, we have at least a partial portrait of Susanna. This is her story.

Serving as a captain in the Royal Highland Emigrants regiment in Halifax, Alexander McDonald's only contact with his family was through letters. When he wrote Susannah, he was careful to "avoid writing to her about polliticks" so as not to get her in trouble with her rebel neighbours.

His wife's letters warned him that the local patriots had sentenced him to death and that a former neighbour had vowed to "skin him alive" when he was captured. Following Alexander's rapid departure, rebels had entered his home and "with more than savage rudeness, rummaged the house as they pretended for arms... and frightened her out of her senses".

Susannah, understandably, found the twelve months of Alexander's absence from Staten Island so difficult that she felt she could not stay there any longer. Her year of misery prompted Alexander to write to his regiment's commander to see how she might be brought to Nova Scotia. Alexander's greatest fear was that rebels would arrest his young family and hold them hostage.

What Alexander did not tell his commander until a subsequent letter was that Susannah had been pregnant when he joined the Royal Highlander Emigrants. Six months into the pregnancy, she miscarried "through mere heartbreak, discontent, and villains 'round her threatening to do this and that, burning the house and I do not know what".

Winter was fast approaching; it was impossible to rescue Susannah and the children, and Alexander had no way of paying for her passage. No wonder that Alexander felt that he had "sacrificed my wife and four children and all I had in the world to contribute all in my power for the service of my king and country."

Alexander's January 15, 1776 letter is the earliest personal correspondence with Susannah that has survived. He wrote to his dear "Sukey" to cheer up her heart and give her hope for better days. He assured her of his health, hoped that her neighbours were not mistreating her because of him, and told her of some money that would be coming her way. Alexander knew that their twelve year-old son was no longer attending school, but he didn't know if this was Susannah's choice or a vindictive measure against the family. Granted, it was not a very emotional letter, but then Alexander was born in Scotland – a country known for its reserve.

Letters took a while to reach their destinations during the revolution. In February, Alexander got Susannah's December letter expressing that she was "pretty well though full of anxiety and uneasiness". She asked her husband to send the family casks of ham, potatoes, and apples.

On February 22, 1776, Alexander replied to Susannah's letters of December 6th, 10th, 12th and 14th. (It seems she was the better correspondent.) This time he called her "Susey" and told her that he was "the happiest man in the world" to know that everyone was healthy. Alexander counselled her to keep the family "snug and small as possible". Since he later advised her to let farm workers go, he was no doubt counselling Susannah to be frugal, even suggesting that she let someone else tend their land. Recognizing that his wife received very little news of British victories, Alexander enclosed newspaper clippings. Susannah was obviously literate, politically aware, and a good manager.

By late winter, Alexander had heard word that 10,000 British troops would be going to New York in the summer. He wrote to his commander in the hope that he could travel with those soldiers and be reunited with his family. Days after writing that letter, he once again penned a note to the woman he called "my dearest life" and shared his hope of seeing her in the summer. This letter never reached Susannah; it had been sent to Boston; on March 17, 1776, the British and their loyalist allies had abandoned the city.

Alexander wrote "Susey" again on April 14th. He was at his wit's end to know how to advise her. "I wish for {nothing} more than to have you and the children along with me, yet the dread of the fatigues and dangers you must undergo strikes a damp upon me that I cannot run the risk of ordering you and the children to be exposed to such dangers."

He hoped that the rebels had not become so "barbarously mad" as to hurt her and the children. However, if the situation escalated, Alexander told Susannah that she should find passage on one of His Majesty's ships in New York. If she were to come, he advised her to bring as much corn, oats, wheat, flour, smoked ham and fowl as she could. Alexander asked his wife to kiss the children for him, and assured her that he was her "affectionate husband". His year and a half apart from Susannah was starting to break down Alexander's Scottish reserve.

Summer came, but when the British fleet left Halifax for New York, Alexander was not aboard. He wrote his "dear Susannah" that he was "greatly disappointed in being forced to stay here". As soon as he could be relieved of his duties, he promised he would immediately join his family. However, if Susannah wanted to bring the family to Halifax, he would "not stop {her} coming". His only advice was to "keep the children always clean and well dress'd" and for Susannah to "appear in your best colours yourself" in case General Howe or his officers came by the McDonald home.

What became of Susannah and Alexander McDonald will be told in next week's Loyalist Trails.


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

The Buzz: Highlights of the Prairie Regional Conference

... featuring news and views of the UELAC President exploring, engaging and at times even embracing UELAC branch members across the country!

The Prairie Regional Conference 2013 offered a blend of work and leisure for members of the Calgary, Edmonton, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan branches. For highlights and photos from the weekend read more here (PDF).

...Bonnie Schepers, President UELAC

Comment: John Walden Meyers Loyalist Land Grant

I am the 5 x great grand son of Captain John Walden Meyers; I received my UE certificate in May this year. Sad to learn that Frank Meyers has lost his land battle with the Federal government.

I will be curious to see what actually happens with the land. Will it sit idle for decades or will a building or training complex be constructed. If a large facility is built they should call it "Edifice Captain Meyers, U.E. Building" to recognize that the land was originally granted by the Crown to a loyal defender of the Crown, just like the JTF2 warriors are meant to be. A building in his memory may instill in our modern warriors the fighting spirit that Meyers had shown in his military actions and endeavours.

...Steve Cowan, C.D., UE, Heraldic artisan. Comox BC

Louise Hall, UE: “The Woman for all Causes”

The vitality of The United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada comes not from the number of members across Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, but from the enduring efforts of those who volunteer countless hours for leadership or basic "grunt" work. Proud of her ancestry from Jeremiah Spencer (1993), Louise has served UELAC not only as the Treasurer of the Sir John Johnson (Centennial) Branch for many years but also as the Education Convener ensuring the United Empire Loyalist message is taken into local schools in her area. Her presence, along with her sister Adelaide Lanktree, at local Patrimoine activities has been noted on many previous occasions.

Just this past week, Louise was recognized in Granby for her 65 years of membership in the Order of the Eastern Star, but last month her Farnham community gave her a recognition few other UELAC members will ever receive: the local library was renamed in her honour – the Louise Hall Library. Further details of her varied interests or causes can be found in the article by Claude Hébert on l'Avenir et des Riviéres.com or, if you prefer, the [English] translation by Google. The contributions of members like Louise Hall UE ensure our presence in both the community and our Association.

...FHH

Where in the World?

Where is this esteemed group?

To participate, submit a photo of yourself in UELAC promotional gear at a place of some note and tell us where it is. If you are a member of a branch, please indicate that as well – send to Jennifer Childs.

Loyalists and the War of 1812

Thanks to those who have contributed to the slowly growing index of Loyalists and the War of 1812.

We have added a new entry for Bartholomew Carley thanks to Margaret Joan Miles McGee, UE.

If you have a family ancestry which qualifies (see the heading of the page with entries), please submit to loyalist.trails@uelac.org. Our rich history continues to emerge through these family histories.

Bicentennial Commemoration of the Skirmish at Hoople's Creek

On Sunday November 10, 2013, at 1:30 pm there will be a gathering of private citizens on the western edge of Dickinson Landing on the Long Sault Parkway to commemorate the Bicentennial of the Skirmish at Hoople's Creek. It will be an opportunity to pay respects to those brave militia men of the 1st Stormont and 2nd Glengarry who under the command of their British officer skirmished with the American invaders and provided enough time for the precious military stores in Cornwall to begin the long trek to Coteau de Lac and for Morrison to plan the battle that would become known as the Battle of Crysler's Farm.

At 3pm there will be a commemorative tea, sponsored by the St. Lawrence Branch of the UELAC where for the cost of $15.00 per person you will be able to enjoy sandwiches, tea and desert catered to by Lost Villages Historical Society and an ticket on a draw for a basket full of commemorative items, value of approximately 100.00. Should you require more information or would like to purchase tickets to the tea, please do not hesitate to email me at carol.goddard@sympatico.ca or call me at 613 938 2455. Take care and hope to see you at both events.

...Carol Goddard, St. Lawrence Branch

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • In mid May 1775, just weeks after the bloody Battle of April Nineteenth had sparked the start of the American Revolution, the perhaps first naval skirmish of the Revolution was waged.
  • "Uniforms of the American Revolution 1775-1783: American and British Forces", a few are shown, most available on a CD
  • Three generations of Ball descendants paid tribute to their predecessor, Philip Ball, at a re-dedication ceremony in the Union Cemetery in Loyalist Township
  • The Fall colours are spectacular at Fort Ticonderoga! See the beauty of Vermont's Green Mountains.
  • Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, honoured near Thamesville, is the subject of the Dieleman family's corn maze.
  • The reenactment of the Battle of the Thames was this past weekend. A half dozen or so photos from CTV which reported that over 20,000 attended. The Chatham Daily News reports a successful event.
  • Quartered in a far-away colony, Isaac Brock would emerge as one of Britain's most ablest and tragic figures. A biographical sketch.
  • United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada, Past President Peter Johnson UE in his element!
  • A new museum exhibit will shine a spotlight on St Catharine's connection to the War of 1812 and its impact on the community.
  • Brown's Berry Patch, Waterport NY, welcomed a crowd of local officials and interested visitors on Saturday as its Bicentennial Peace Garden was officially designated as an Honorary International Peace Garden.
  • A significant sidebar relevant to the current bicentennial celebrations of the Battle of Lake Erie is the progress of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's namesake ship, the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, which is currently under construction and nearing completion in Rhode Island.
  • Graveyards are full of secrets and symbolism which can especially be seen on the grave statues and epitaphs on tombs. Have you ever wondered what an angel with a sword means or what a rose represents about the deceased? Here's a guide to what certain symbols in the graveyard signify and what they reveal about your relatives from the past.
  • On this date in 1951 Princess Elizabeth embarked on her first Royal Tour of Canada starting in Montreal, QC and visiting among other places. Calgary and the Stampede Grounds. H.R.H. Princess Elizabeth leaving the stage coach at the Stadium, assisted by Mr. Jim Cross, President, Calgary Stampeded Association of Calgary.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
- Grant, Finlay – from Ken Gordon
- Rose, William – from Ken Gordon with certificate application
- Ross, John – from Ken Gordon with certificate application
- Williams, John Sr. – from Myrna Perry with certificate application
- Williams, John Jr – from Myrna Perry with certificate application


Please help us build the directory by contributing more information for it. Contact loyalist.trails@uelac.org for instructions and guidance.

Last Post: Alan Grant Simons Fraser, UE

(March 30, 1956 - September 26, 2013) Fraser found peace after battling Pancreatic Cancer. He is survived by his loving wife Barbara Fraser, daughter Christi Coles (Jason), and son Derrick Fraser. Survived by his mother Rebecca Fraser, sister Frances Loewen (Aron), including extended family. Fraser lived a triumphant life and will not be forgotten, belonging to: Past-Worshipful Master of Prince of Wales Lodge No. 100, Centennial King George No. 171, Scouts Canada, Canadian Lifeboat Institution - Steveston, BC Highland Dance Association, 78th Fraser Highlanders, United Empire Loyalists, Credit Grantors Association of Vancouver, Credit Institute of Canada, Western Forum of Credit and Financial Executives, and Canadian Career Group of Vancouver. He will be remembered most for his unique sense of humour and wit. The Memorial Service will be held, Thursday, October 10, 2013, 1:00 PM, St. Paul's Church, 1130 Jervis St, DT Vancouver. In lieu of flowers, donate to: Cancer Society and Canadian Lifeboat Institute - Steveston.

...Carl Stymiest UE, Vancouver Branch UELAC

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