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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2013 Archive

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"Loyalist Trails" 2013-43 October 27, 2013

Articles

Tea Party at the Manse: The Loyalists of Deerfield, by Stephen Davidson

The town of Deerfield is in the Connecticut River Valley, 48 kilometres north of Springfield, Massachusetts. Incorporated in 1677, the frontier town was embroiled in ongoing conflicts with Natives and the settlers of New France. However, by the opening months of 1774, Deerfield no longer had to fear attacks from hostile forces in the north. Instead, the town was divided between those who supported the American Revolution and those who remained loyal to Great Britain.

One of Deerfield's most vocal loyalists was the Rev. Jonathan Ashley, who had been the pastor of the town's Congregational Church since 1732. Having prayed for the health of the king for over 2,000 Sundays, the clergyman was not about to join a rebellion that involved crates of tea being dumped in Boston's harbour.

Ashley's patriot neighbours no longer drank tea as an act of political defiance. On July 22, 1774, the Congregational minister made his own political statement – he announced that he was having a tea party at his home. To underscore the point, he then had one of his sons purchase a pound of tea at a local loyalist's store and deliver it to another clergyman in nearby Greenfield. Ashley was certainly not afraid to make his views known whether in his home or in his church.

By the fall of that year, the Massachusetts government had ordered that the colony's churches would observe a fast day in support of the opposition to Britain. Ministers were expected to preach sermons appropriate for the occasion. Believing that God was firmly on the side of the king, Rev. Ashley refused to take part in the fast. He had thrown down the gauntlet, but such public defiance would eventually have its consequences.

In December, pastors throughout Massachusetts had to read a thanksgiving day proclamation – one issued by the Continental Congress after concluding its proceedings in Philadelphia. One story says that Rev. Ashley sidestepped this unsavoury task by having his oldest son Jonathan read it in his stead. Another tradition says that Ashley read the proclamation, ending it with the customary "God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts". But he didn't stop there. Raising his voice, he added "And the King, too, I say, or we are an undone people."

The rebels of Deerfield were not pleased. At the next town meeting, they made a motion to reconsider an earlier proposal to increase Ashley's salary. Fortunately for the minister, there were enough loyalists at the meeting to defeat the motion. Another motion was made to fire Ashley, but it was also dismissed. In the end, the rebels were able to pass a motion not to furnish firewood for the clergyman for the coming winter. This tactic was employed a number of times during the course of the revolution, but although the Ashley family may have suffered some cold nights, the minister did not relent in his pro-British stance.

One had to admire the Congregational clergyman's courage. Following the Battle of Bunker Hill, Ashley's Sunday sermon contained the unwelcomed assertion that the souls of the rebels who died in the battle would go straight to hell. This so angered the congregation, that some of its members prevented Ashley from entering the church for the afternoon service. While tempers flared, it did not stop one member from making a bad pun concerning alder trees. After being struck once again by a rebel's elbow, Ashley protested that the people should not rebuke an elder.

"An elder! An elder!" exclaimed one rebel, "If you had not said you was an Elder, I should have though you was a poison sumach!"

When he returned to the Congregational manse, Ashley would be greeted by his wife Dorothy, their two unmarried daughters and their youngest son. Daughter Dorothy had married William Williams, another Deerfield loyalist. The Ashley's oldest son, Jonathan, was a lawyer and the justice of the peace. Their second son, Elihu, was preparing to study medicine. The historical records of Deerfield note the fact that the town's rebels and loyalists often had heated arguments at the local tavern and that Parson Ashley's two oldest sons – loyalists like their father – "were not the least prominent in the wordy war."

Besides housing the minister's family, the Ashley home provided hospitality for any important people who came to Deerfield. These obligations put further strain on the family's budget, so as early as 1747, they began to take in boarders who studied for the ministry under Ashley. (Interestingly, one of these students, Seth Noble, would become a strong supporter of the American Revolution when he took a congregation on the St. John River in what was then the western frontier of Nova Scotia.) The Congregational pastor also supplemented his income by operating a farm.

When she was 61 years old, Ashley's wife suffered a mental breakdown. This may have been related to the rising hostilities between Deerfield's patriots and loyalists. Whatever its cause, Dorothy was ill for over a year, not even able to attend the Elihu's wedding in 1775. Within five years, she would be a widow.

Rev. Jonathan Ashley was never imprisoned, never threatened with tar and feathers, and never ridden through town on a rail, but his last years as Deerfield's Congregational minister were difficult ones. In the eyes of the Committee of Correspondence, Inspection and Safety, Rev. Ashley was increasingly regarded as a villain. Politics poisoned the relationship between Deerfield's Christians and Ashley. A bitter controversy "subsisting between him and a large part of the church" divided the congregation until Ashley's death.

Finally, after "a long and distressing illness", Rev. Ashley breathed his last on August 28, 1780. He died not knowing which side finally triumphed in the revolution. However, his story illustrates the unfailing faith that many loyal colonists maintained despite persecution. How other Deerfield loyalists followed Rev. Ashley's example of endurance in the face of violent opposition will be told over the next two weeks in Loyalist Trails.

...

Where in the World?

Where is Bicentennial Branch member Margie Luffman?

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.

Re-enactment: The Battle of Nanticoke

On November 9 and 10, 2013 from 10am to 4pm on both days, by the Haldimand County Museum and Archives, 8 Echo St. Cayuga, Ontario.

A free family event with all-day activities including heritage demonstrations and children's activities:

- Experience the historic Battle of Nanticoke with two re-enactments on both days at 11 am and 2 pm.

- Witness the Bloody Assize Mock Trial of renegade settlers accused of high treason each day at 12 pm and 3 pm

- See the Westfield Heritage Village's 1812 Fashion Show of everyday clothing and military attire of 1812 on November 9 at 1 p.m.

Listen to Period Music provided by Ian Bell both days.

For more information please contact the Haldimand Museums at 905-772-5880 or check the first page of the museum's newsletter.

Re-enactment: Capture of Iroquois Point Prior to Battle of Crysler's Farm

On Saturday November 9th 2013 at Iroquois Point, the South Dundas War of 1812 Commemoration Project features a day of activities. These include dedication and memorial ceremonies, displays at the Civic Centre and the re-enactment of the November 7th, 1813 capture of Iroquois Point by US invasion troops. See the pamphlet with the details (PDF).

Following the US declaration of war against Great Britain on the 18th of June 1812, a number of military engagements were pursued. Locally we are well aware of the event known now as the Battle of Crysler's Farm. What is not so widely known is that on two occasions Point Iroquois and environs witnessed notable armed conflict. Briefly, they are as follows.

16 September 1812

Having received word that a British supply convoy of bateaux was enroute upriver to Kingston, an Ogdensburg(h) force was assembled. Captain Griffin commanded a Durham boat of riflemen, with Adjutant D W Church commanding an 18-man 6-pounder gunboat. They proceeded downriver through the Galop Rapids landing on Toussaint Island on the evening of the 15th. Capturing all but one of the Mohawk family living there, and establishing the gunboat strategically at the lower end of the island with the riflemen at the upper end nearest nearby Presqu'isle Island, the Americans waited to ambush the convoy.

The British bateaux, under the command of Lieutenant and Adjutant James Fitzgibbon of the 49th Regiment of Foot, neared Toussaint Island on the 16th of September 1812 and, warned by the Mohawk canoeist who had escaped capture the evening before as well as by direct observation of the American gunboat, proceeded under fire to land without casualty on the Canadian river bank.

The British/Canadian force attached to the convoy consisted of detachments from the Newfoundland Regiment, the 10th Royal Veterans and a company of the 1st Regiment of Dundas Militia under the command of Captain Michael Ault.

Part of Captain Ault's company were ferried over to Presqu'isle Island opening fire on the American vessels attempting to land on the small island. This attempt was repulsed and, in the confusion of the American retreat to Toussaint Island, the Durham boat was set adrift unmanned and later captured by the British.

Captain Ault's men were subsequently reinforced by Grenville County companies under the command of Captains Monro(e) and Dulmage. As well, a 9-pounder cannon under the command of Lieutenant Richard Duncan Fraser arrived and bombarded the American force on Toussaint Island until they withdrew to the American shore opposite.

In this skirmish the Americans suffered one killed and 6 wounded, while the British/Canadian force had one killed and several wounded.

7 November 1813

US General Wilkinson, with 10,000 men at Sackett's Harbor, received orders to proceed down the St. Lawrence River effecting the destruction of all enemy fortifications, and to link up with General Hampton's forces at Lac St. Louis before proceeding to attack and capture Montreal.

In a fleet of some 300 craft, Wilkinson proceeded to Grenadier Island opposite Kingston. Concluding that an attack against a powerful naval and land force at Kingston might compromise their ambitions on Montreal, Wilkinson feigned an attack, escaped direct engagement, and proceeded downstream to Ogdensburg(h).

With orders to pursue, harass and delay the enemy, Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Morrison's force left Kingston aboard 60 vessels. His "corps of observation" consisted of 160 men of the 49th Foot, 450 men of the 2nd Battalion of the 89th Foot, and a small detachment of Royal Artillery with two 6-pounder cannon. At Prescott they were reinforced from Lieutenant-Colonel Pearson's garrison with three 6-pounders, three companies of Canadian Voltigeurs, two companies of the 49th Foot, two companies of Canadian Fencibles and 30 Tyendinaga Mohawk. Troopers from Fraser's Provincial Light Dragoons brought Morrison's force to approximately 800 men.

Wilkinson landed above Ogdensburg(h) on the 5th of November, disembarked and marched his force to the shore below the village while his unoccupied boats were ferried downstream to avoid unnecessary risk of casualties resulting from bombardment by the Prescott garrison. Reembarking, Wilkinson's flotilla procedding to run the Galop Rapids arriving at Point Iroquois on the afternoon of the 7th of November.

Encamped on the Point were 200 men of the 1st Regiment of Dundas Militia under the command of Captain Monro(e). A detachment including Peter and Jacob Brouse were keeping watch from a blockhouse on the Point when an advance scouting party of several boats approached. The guard opened fire thereby alerting their compatriots in the woods behind who joined them in firing upon the enemy forcing them over to the American shore.

Wilkinson's main force immediately landed on the Canadian shore at or near Jacob Brouse's farm. Men from Macomb's elite corps of the 1st US Rifle Regiment then proceeded to advance on the Point to rout the enemy. Perceiving they could be surrounded in short order, the Dundas militia abandoned Point Iroquois and proceeded on foot downriver. The Americans subsequently occupied the Point and destroyed the blockhouse.

Meanwhile, upstream of the Americans, Morrison's forces were harassing the enemy with cannon fire. Major Forsyth's riflemen, with the assistance of Lieutenant-Colonel Abram Eustis' gun barges, were able to persuade Morrison's forces to withdraw. Now unopposed, Wilkinson ferried his forces around the Point, landed and made camp about one mile below the village of Iroquois where they stayed until the 9th of November.

The skirmish at Point Iroquois resulted in the death of one American soldier and, perhaps significantly, delayed the enemy's advance long enough for the Canadian militias to assemble near Captain Crysler's farm and join Morrison's forces in effecting a victorious battle plan on the 11th of November.

As a side note, the blockhouse on Point Iroquois was rebuilt in 1814. By then open hostility had ended and consequently British forces gave it the nickname "Fort Needless".

Sources:

Mike Phifer, Lifeline, The War of 1812 Along the Upper St. Lawrence River, 2008

James Croil, Dundas or a Sketch of Canadian History, 1972 (1st published 1861)

John Graham Harkness, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, 1946

David E. Scott, Ontario Place Names, 6th Edition 2010

Additional information

1812 – 1814 1st Dundas Militia Enrollment List (PDF)

Iroquois Point Cemetery: War of 1812 Veterans (Militia and Civilians) (PDF)

Reminder: 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. Following, at 3pm there will be a commemorative tea, sponsored by the St. Lawrence Branch of the UELAC. More details.

Loyalists and the War of 1812: Submissions Requested

We welcome further submissions to the slowly growing index of Loyalists and the War of 1812.

If you have a family ancestry which qualifies (see the heading of the page with entries), please submit to loyalist.trails@uelac.org.

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:
- Booth, John Sr. – from Barry Gardiner
- Clark, John – from Ivy Stevens
- Woolley, John – from Barry Gardiner


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

Last Post: Douglas Everett Page

(October 22, 1917 - October 20, 2013) after a brief illness, two days shy of his 96th birthday at the West Island Palliative Care Residence surrounded by his family. Doug is survived by his sister Helen Page Smith; his wife Enid Gow; sons Rick (Judy Frampton) and David (Patricia Stewart) and grandchildren.

Doug grew up in Fredericton, New Brunswick and spent all his summers at his cottage on nearby Grand Lake. He received a Bachelor of Arts (Music) degree from the University of New Brunswick and a Master of Science degree from McGill University. He was a meteorologist for Environment Canada in Moncton New Brunswick, Gander Newfoundland, Goose Bay Labrador and Montreal from 1939 to 1981. In the last 15 years of his career, he was responsible for long-range forecasting for Canada.

Among his many roles at the Anglican Parish of St. Andrew and St. Mark in Dorval, Doug was organist and choirmaster from the 1960s to 1993. In 1953 he was a founder of the Canadian Hemophilia Society and the first President of its Quebec Chapter.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 26 at 11 a.m. at the Anglican Parish of St. Andrew and St. Mark, Dorval. Donations to the Canadian Hemophilia Society research programs.

Doug was Branch Treasurer of Heritage Branch UELAC for 30 years or more. The Gazette, Oct. 23, 2013.

...Robert Wilkins, Heritage Branch

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