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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2014 Archive

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“Loyalist Trails” 2014-46: November 16, 2014

Articles

Lost Voices from Missisquoi Bay, by Stephen Davidson

Two of the claimants were sisters who had lost their father thirteen years earlier, another had served under General Burgoyne, two were Irishmen who had lived in New York before the revolution, another was a soldier's widow, and yet another was a teenager who became the head of his family at the death of his father. All seven were loyalists who lived on Lake Champlain's Missisquoi Bay after the American Revolution. There were not members of the colonial upper class, and most of them probably did not even have the most rudimentary education. However, thanks to the transcripts of the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalist (RCLSAL), we can once again listen to their stories, the stories of refugees who made their homes in what would one day become the province of Quebec.

During the winter of 1788, commissioners from Great Britain were in Montreal to hear loyalists' claims of losses during the American Revolution. Between January 15 and March 3rd, seven refugees who had established homes along Missisquoi Bay made the arduous journey north to seek restitution.

As loyalists had sought refuge from persecution in New York, a settlement began to flourish around an Abenaki village in the St. Armand signeury. After the signing of the peace treaty in 1783, a number of soldiers who had been stationed at Lake Champlain's Fort St. John began to build cabins at Missisquoi Bay, thinking that the government would eventually grant them land along the lake shore.

However, Sir Frederick Haldimand, the governor of Quebec, was opposed to these settlments and actually sent soldiers to Lake Champlain to remove 400-some loyalist squatters. The governor was worried that their settlement was too close to the new border separating British North America from the United States of America. However, Haldimand's tactics had little impact. Even denying these loyalists the assistance that other refugees received failed to prod the squatters out of Missisquoi Bay. They insisted that they had a right to stay where they were. (So much for the stereotype of complacent loyalists who kow-towed to the authority of the crown!)

The first of the Missisquoi Bay settlers to stand before the RCLSAL on January 15, 1788 was Hermanus Best. On that Tuesday, the New York loyalist and his friend, Adam Dent, sought compensation for the two daughters of his deceased brother, Conrad Best. Conrad had served in Jessup's Corps at Lachine before his death at Missisquoi Bay in 1785. Thirteen year-old Catherine, had been living with her Uncle Hermanus for the past year while her younger sister, Hannah, stayed with her grandfather in Hoosick, New York. Catherine testified that she would be satisfied if the commission granted her uncle what was due her father for the loss of his furnished house, cattle, and two "good sleigh horses”.

On the following day, Hermanus Best once again stood before the RCLSAL. This time he was representing the widow and children of another brother, Jacob Best. Jacob had died serving his king on Carleton Island five years earlier as a member of Sir John Johnson's Regiment. Catherine, Jacob's wife, had remained in Hoosick with their five children. As in the case of Conrad Best, the loyalist family had sought sanctuary in the home of the Best brothers' father. Like his cousin Catherine Best, Jacob Best Junior fled New York to live with his Uncle Hermanus at Missisquoi Bay.

On January 16, 1788, the 19 year-old Best stood by his uncle to testify on behalf of his family. Considered an "infant” in the eyes of the law, Jacob Jr. told of his mother, brother, and three sisters still living with his grandfather -- and of his father's losses. Patriots had confiscated cattle, sheep and four hourses from the Best farm. Notes on the transcript suggest that the children would be compensated for what their father had lost. Although it is not clearly stated, it seems that the extended Best family of widows and orphans eventually went to live with Hermanus Best on Missisquoi Bay.

Peter Miller, another New York loyalist, appeared before the RCLSAL on February 15th. Miller had left Ireland 18 years earlier to settle in New York's Albany County. With the Declaration of Independence, he joined Captain Justus Sherwood and went to Canada. Patriots took his livestock, hay, farming utensils, and his fenced fields, and forced his family out of their house. Somehow, Mrs. Miller had been able to save their furniture. After serving in Col. Peter's corps and alongside Major Leake, Miller settled with other soldiers along Missisquoi Bay. A friend named Christian Schoolgrave, testified on his behalf.

On that same Friday, Jane Taylor, the only female settler from Missisquoi Bay to speak before the RCLSAL, made her case for compensation. She and her husband, the late John McArthy, had once lived in Saratoga, New York where they had built a small house on ten acres of cleared land. The Irish couple did not waiver in their allegieance to the British crown; when General Burgoyne's forces marched south through New York, John joined them as an artificer (a serviceman trained in mechanics).

Unhappy with McArthy's choice, local rebels confiscated his grain, cows, horses and oxen. McArthy died at Fort St. Johns, leaving a widow and a ten year-old son (also named John). Jane married a loyalist named Mr. Taylor, and they settled along Missisquoi Bay.

Thirteen days later, another Missisquoi Bay loyalist sought compensation for his losses in Saratoga, New York. Robert Brisbane, an Irishman, had joined the British army in 1777 along with 53 others at Ticonderoga on the southern tip of Lake Champlain. From his testimony, it seems that Brisbane not only "acted with arms” but also used his horses and wagon in service to the crown.

Two years later, patriots captured Brisbane while he was on a scouting mission. He was released on bail, thanks to the brother of Dunham Platet but rebels had confiscated his horses and wagons. Brisbane lived quietly on his farm for a while and then joined Major Jessup's Corps. Like other Irish loyalists who had settled in Albany County, Brisbane eventually established a home along the Missisquoi Bay.

Moses Hurlburt sought compensation for his losses as a loyalist on March 3rd in Montreal. His case is interesting in that he had Captain Justus Sherwood speak on his behalf. Hurlburt was "in distress at Oswegatchie” (near present day Prescott, Ontario). His wife was on her deathbed and Hurlburt could not leave her side to attend the RCLSAL hearings.

Sherwood testified how Hurlburt had lived on Lake Champlain before the revolution, joined General Burgoyne's army, provided intelligence "friendly to Great Britain”, and served with Major Roger's Rangers. Hurlburt was among the soldiers who were living at Missisquoi Bay in 1783, but he had taken advantage of the government's offer of land to the west.

None of these "lost voices” from the refugee settlement of Missisquoi Bay reveal forgotten aspects of loyalist history. They are very ordinary -- quite typical of the era. They demonstrate how loyalist families took care of one another, of the resourcefulness of women, of the plight of orphaned children, and of how men fought to preserve a united empire. And in that "ordinary” response to calamity, we see the quiet heroism of Canada's refugee founders.


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

The Battle of Golden Hill – Six Weeks Before the Boston Massacre

Tensions started long before the Revolution; this article leading up to an incident on January 19, 1770 gives a sense of that.

On June 4, 1766, the New York Sons of Liberty gathered in a field, later known as the Commons, to celebrate the birthday of the King and the repeal of the Stamp Act. They erected a large mast with twelve tar barrels at its top and twenty-five cords of wood at its base.[1] The crowd cheered when the royal standard was raised and the cords were lit. Later in the day, another pole, bearing the inscription, "King, Pitt, and Liberty.” was erected; it was the city's first Liberty Pole. The pole was akin to the pike held by Libertas, the Goddess of Freedom in ancient Rome.[2] For the next ten years, the Liberty Pole, like the Liberty Tree in Boston, would serve as the rallying place for any and all patriots in the city. The British soldiers already angry with the New York Assembly for not complying with the Quartering Act of 1765 were not going to tolerate a symbol of colonial opposition to Parliament's authority in their midst. On August 10th, they cut the pole down. A second Liberty Pole was quickly erected and within days, it was also cut down. On September 23rd, a third Liberty Pole was erected. This time the soldiers were ordered by Governor Moore not to cut it down.

Read the article: “The Battle of Golden Hill,” by Bob Ruppert in the Journal of the American Revolution.

Branching Out Reports from Loyalist Gazette Spring 2014 Now Posted

Now that UELAC is well into its second century, the need to have a quick access to branch records of activities and personalities continues. Originally posted to the UELAC website to be of interest to potential and new members, the Branching Out reports proved to be very helpful in the development of Loyally Yours – 100 Years of The UELAC published this past May. Presidents and/ or their delegates were able to locate an electronic record of their contributions to Loyalist Gazette to create a succinct history of their branch.

Fourteen Branching Out reports from the Loyalist Gazette spring 2014 issue of the Loyalist Gazette have now been transcribed and posted to the UELAC website. Thus each report continues to be a part of a much richer history to be used by members, new and old.

...FHH

Loyalist Gazette Update

The printed copies of the Loyalist Gazette arrived at the mailing house early this past week and the various administrative steps required have been completed. Bulk shipments have been sent. The mailing of individual copies may have begun on Friday; with luck your mailed copy will arrive this week, or soon afterwards.

Digital Loyalist Gazette

For those who registered for the digital version, an email with instructions was sent on Tuesday. We hope you have been enjoying; comments are always appreciated.

As a member or subscriber, you can still request the full-colour digital version, just go to Request the Digital Version.

The Spring and Fall 2013 issues of the Gazette are publicly available to all.

...Bob McBride, Editor, Loyalist Gazette

Where in the World?

Where are Bonnie Schepers and Bob Ferguson?

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.

Region and Branch Bits

From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.

  • Nova Scotia Branch of UELAC is pleased to invite everyone to visit its new website. At www.uelac.org/NovaScotia/ you will find information on Branch activities, contacts, and membership as well as photos. Brian McConnell, UE, Secretary, novascotia@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:

  • Gavel, John Wesley (Sr.) - Carol Harding
  • Phillips (Philips), Elisha - from Paul Lozo
  • Sharp (Sharpe), John (Johannes) Sr. - from Wayne Sharp
  • Wood, Caleb - from Joyce Luethy
  • Woodward, Elizabeth (Mammy Hopkins) - from Laurie Tompkins

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

Last Post: Alan Milliken Heisey, UE, P.Eng, M.B.A.

Passed away November 2 at age 86 after a sudden stroke. Survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Barbara Heisey, three sons and 10 grandchildren. Predeceased by brothers W. Lawrence Heisey and Karl Brooks Heisey.

Alan was the eldest son of mining engineer Karl Brooks Heisey Sr., and his wife Alice Isabel (Smith) Heisey. Father Karl was the second of six children of Jacob Heisey and Ida Lehman, Markham farmers. Alan's mother Alice, was the only child of William Milliken Smith, U.E., and Katherine (McKibbon) Smith of Unionville, Ont.

Alan was educated at Oakwood Collegiate, St. Andrew's College, The University of Toronto, and Harvard University.

In 1953 Alan married the wondrous (to use his own words) Barbara Muriel Cornes of Hamilton, surviving sister to her brother William, who died while a boy.

Their marriage was blessed by three fine sons: Alan Milliken Heisey II, Peter William Sharpe Heisey and Robin Mark Heisey. He is also survived by his brother Larry's children Janet and Mark, and his brother Karl's children Kate and David.

Alan retired from a long career as publisher of The Daily Commercial News in 1989. At age 59 he founded Georgian Bay Today, and was its publisher, and editor for 25 years, finally ending his role at age 85 after producing 100 quarterly issues.

He served two terms as a North York Alderman, earned a commission in the Toronto Scottish Regiment, had a private pilot's licence, and was an occasional business commentator on Global TV. He was the author of the book The Great Canadian Stampede.

Avocations were Georgian Bay and the Cognashene Community Church and nurturing parliamentary values with '-worm', an electronic newsletter.

Rigorously defended the rights of Canadians to access talent beyond our country's borders, and advocated for electoral equality for city dwellers. He was an active promoter of civic beautification, the wearing of ties, the art of the sung grace, bread and gravy as dessert, do-it-yourself plumbing, wiring and taxes, and being generous with hugs.

The family will receive friends on Tuesday, November 18 from 3-6 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, 141 St. George St., Toronto. Funeral service on Wednesday, November 19 at 11:00 a.m. at Bloor Street United Church, 300 Bloor St. W., Toronto. Reception to follow in the church hall.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Georgian Bay Land Trust or the Cognashene Community Church, c/o Fred Beattie, 12-165 Chandos Dr., Kitchener, N2A 4H8.

Condolences and memories may be forwarded through www.humphreymilesnewbigging.com.

...Mette Griffin, Dominion Office

Last Post: Rev. Donald Gordon Casselman, UE

A WWII Veteran in the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, peacefully at St. Mary's of the Lake Hospital, Kingston on Thursday November 13, 2014. Rev. Don, in his 92 year, beloved husband of the late Jessie Riddick and the late Verta Barrington, who passed away Friday, July 18, 2014 in Brockville.

Lovingly remembered by his 2 children Gordon (Susie) and Marilyn Moore (David) and by his 4 Step Children Marlane Stover (JC), Ron (Louise), Bruce (Sue) and George (Arlene). Cherished by grand- and great-grandchildren.

The family will receive friends at the Tompkins Funeral Home 63 Garden St. Gananoque on Sunday from 2-4 and 7-9 pm. Funeral Service will be held from the First Baptist Church, 5 Pine Street, Brockville on Monday November 17 at 1:00 pm. Internment will be held at Roselawn Memorial Gardens on Monday at 11am prior to the Funeral service.

Online condolences please go to www.tompkinsfuneralhome.ca. (Brockville Recorder & Times)

Rev. Donald Casselman was an Executive Member of the Casselman Ancestral Society. He was a former member of St. Lawrence Branch of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada. His Loyalist Certificate to ancestor Thomas Casselman was approved 24 May 1984.

...Lynne Cook, St Lawrence Branch

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