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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2015 Archive

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“Loyalist Trails” 2015-03: January 18, 2015


Rebels of the St. John River Valley (Part Two), by Stephen Davidson

In the summer of 1783, Major Gilfred Studholme looked over a list of names of New Englanders who had been farming in the lower part of St. John River Valley for the past 20 years. Over thirty of the names on the list were men who had risen up against the crown during the American Revolution, spying on the British and actually attacking a major Nova Scotian fortification. Now that loyal American refugees were flooding into what would become New Brunswick, should Studholme allow the rebellious Planters to remain or should they, like the Acadians of an earlier era, be expelled from the colony for their lack of loyalty?

Fourteen of the New England settlers were known to have been part of a rebel army that attacked Fort Cumberland in the fall of 1776. For most of these republican patriots, all that is known of them are their names and their family's circumstances in 1783. Only a very few have left any of their stories behind, and those stories, short as they are, are contained within the probate records of New Brunswick.

Hugh Quinton's name appears in historical records as early as 1762 and as late as 1827. At the earlier date, he was among the Planters from Deny, New Hampshire who came to the mouth of the St. John River. His wife Elizabeth gave birth to James Quinton who is said to have been the first child of Planter heritage born in what is now New Brunswick. Hugh was made the captain of the militia company to defend the settlement against Native attack. The Quinton family eventually settled at Maugerville where they allowed their home to be used as a meetinghouse for the itinerant Congregational ministers who came to preach. One of those preachers was the Rev. Seth Noble of Massachusetts.

Noble was committed to the rebel side in the revolution and in 1776 actually wrote George Washington to say that as many as 125 heads of families had signed resolutions of the St. John River's rebel committee. It is little wonder then, that Quinton, a member of Noble's church, should have been a captain under Jonathan Eddy when he led a force of 200 rebels against Fort Cumberland.

Thirteen St. John River farmers followed Quinton into battle. Their circumstances are recorded in the report that Major Studholme commissioned in 1783.

John Whitney "went in arms to attack the fort at Cumberland" in 1776. Seven years later, he and his wife had nine children, a log house, and four acres of cleared land in Amesbury (later renamed Kingston). His neighbour was William McKeen. The latter's daughter, Nancy, eventually married a New York loyalist named George Bull.

Further up river, Quinton had recruited men from Maugerville who included Benjamin Booby, Amasa Coy, Edmund Price and Thomas Hartt. By 1783, Hart had a wife and seven children. Jonathan, Mary, Rebekah, Abigail, and Thomas were still alive when their father died in 1813.

Six men from Burton also joined the rebel attack. Nathan Smith lived with his wife Sarah and four children on six acres opposite Maugerville. John Pritchard, his wife and six children also had a log house and barn on six acres of land. John Mitchell and Richard Parsons, two other Fort Cumberland veteran, had wives and the same number of acres, but each had three more children than Pritchard. Although Edward Burpee, once an "active rebel", did not write a will, there are four Burpees in the probate records who all lived in the Burton area. Edward left money to his sons Daniel and Moses, and he seems to have been the father of Joseph, Benjamin, and Nathaniel Burpee who all died within the second decade of the 19th century.

Daniel Lovet/Leavitt had, by 1783, cleared 30 acres of land for his wife and two children. Although he had been "one of the Cumberland party" in 1776, he later took "the oath of allegiance to his Majesty, and since hath behaved well." It is interesting to note that a number of Massachusetts loyalists were witnesses to Daniel's will before he died in 1834. Obviously the earlier errors of his youth had been forgiven.

Elijah Estabrooks/Easterbook "went also against Cumberland". Elijah had originally settled on the peninsula of Nova Scotia and then crossed the Bay of Fundy to better prospects at the mouth of the St. John River. Despite his having fought for the rebels, he and his wife, their three daughters and three sons had their home attacked by New England privateers. This forced the New England Planter to move up river to the safer site of Gagetown. In his youth, Elijah's son came under the influence of the New Light preacher, Henry Alline, and became a "preacher of the gospel" until his death in 1825.

After the unsuccessful attacks on Fort Cumberland, Hugh Quinton, the rebel captain, returned to his home along the St. John River. Like Daniel Lovet/Leavitt, he had a change of heart and took "the oath of allegiance to his Majesty and behaved in a loyal manner". In fact, Quinton was remembered as being a Planter who "turned out" a number of times to fight off rebel parties in the years between 1776 and 1783.

Despite the fact that these fourteen settlers had taken up arms against the crown in 1776, they were not forced off of their farms to make way for the loyalist refugees. They had appealed to Nova Scotia's governor, John Parr, and he ruled that any lots "occupied by old inhabitants of the country" should not be "appropriated by the loyalists until they had paid for the improvements made by those in possession". Destitute as they were, the loyalist refugees could not reimburse the Planter settlers, and so they received land grants near the former rebels' farms.

In time, the children of rebel soldiers intermarried with the children of the loyalists, giving the descendants of those who had once stood for a "united empire" ancestors that also included the forgotten rebels of the St. John River Valley.

The remaining stories of known New Brunswick rebels will be told in next week's Loyalist Trails.

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

A Loyalist in the New Brunswick Rebel Noble Family Line

Stephen Davidson's article in last week's Loyalist Trails article about Loyalist descendants marrying descendants of supporters of the American Revolution who lived on the Saint John River coincided with the culmination of my research concerning such a union. I was always aware that my mother's ancestors Daniel Smith Sr. and Ruth Fitch from New Milford, CT were Loyalists. I always knew my father's ancestors Rev Seth Noble and his wife Hannah Barker, from Westfield and Rowley, Mass were rebels. But my grandfather Harry Gordon Noble never mentioned to me that his grandmother, Susannah Currier, who died long before he was born, was the daughter of a Loyalist, Issachar Currier from Amesbury, Mass. He only mentioned Rev Seth's rebel connections!

My 3x-gr-grandfather, the Rev Seth Noble, was the first settled Minister of the Congregational Church at Maugerville (1774-77) which was the centre of support for the American rebels along the Saint John River. He was forced to flee to Maine in 1777 with a price on his head. He was joined two years later by his wife Hannah Barker whom he had married in Maugerville in 1775 and their son Seth Jr. The Barker family in Maugerville were also rebels, but were granted a pardon by the British authorities along with most of the other rebel supporters, as outlined in Stephen Davidson's article. Hannah Barker Noble died in Bangor, Maine in 1790 and the following year, Rev Seth brought his two youngest sons, Joseph and Benjamin back to Sheffield to be brought up with their uncles also named Joseph and Benjamin Barker. They never saw their father again and in 1801 he was granted two half sections of land in Franklinton, Ohio (now downtown Columbus) for his services to the Revolution. Seth moved there in 1805 and died there in 1807.

Benjamin Noble married Susannah Currier, daughter of Loyalist Issachar Currier on March 29, 1810. Issachar had died in 1807 at Kingsclear, but he still owned his lot in Gagetown in addition to the two lots in Kingsclear. Issachar arrived in N.B. in late 1783 or early 1784 and according to his July 1785 petition for Lot No 75 at Upper Gagetown, immediately started to work "building Mr. Beckwith's ship". Nehemiah Beckwith was a Loyalist who built the first sloop on the Saint John River for General Benedict Arnold. Issachar Currier said he wanted to build a shipyard on Lot 75 and thus continue the tradition of several generations of Curriers in Amesbury, Mass. He was granted Lot 75 in 1786 and received Lots 69 and 71 at Kingsclear in 1799. He is listed as a Loyalist in Esther Clark Wright's book "The Loyalists of New Brunswick" as having received land in Block 2. Block 2 at Kingsclear was originally granted to Lt. Colonel Isaac Allen and the 2nd New Jersey Volunteers in 1784. The grant was made collectively and the grantees asked the Crown to make a re-grant on an individual basis which was done on December 31, 1799. Issachar Currier's name was not on the 1784 grant but he received 2 lots in the 1799 re-grant.

The union between the daughter of a Loyalist and the son of a rebel lasted until Susannah's death in 1841, by which time there were nine children including three with Barker as their middle name honouring Benjamin's rebel mother and his uncle who raised him, and a son named Issachar Currier and daughter Rebecca named after Susannah's Loyalist parents. When Benjamin died in 1860 his obituary claimed he was born in Nova Scotia where his father had been a Presbyterian Minister. No mention of the Maugerville Congregational Church and the rebels there. In fact Benjamin was born in what is now Bangor, Maine. This blurring of his origins clearly was deliberate and reflected the tensions between Loyalists and rebel descendants 70 years on. But it was the rebel aspect which continued in Noble family folklore not the Loyalist one.

The Currier family continued building boats at Gagetown for at least two more generations. Captain David Currier, grandson of Issachar, began active life in charge of a passenger sloop and afterwards as that of the first river steamer. In a February 17, 1883 interview in the Saint John Daily Sun Captain Currier recalled "his family moved from Upper Gagetown to St. John in 1805 and in 1810 to Kingsclear, thence to Maugerville in 1811, where my father (also named David) engaged in shipbuilding for different parties building the "Eliza Ann", a brig of 350 tons for Capt. MacDonald; the "Mary Ann", 200 tons for Nelson Deveber and several schooners for William Taylor and Benjamin Taylor. In 1813 we removed to Gagetown where my father continued shipbuilding and was assisted by an elder brother of mine, Daniel Currier."

Captain David Currier's second wife was Margery Upton Barker, a granddaughter of Joseph Barker one of the rebels at Maugerville. One of Margery's brothers was Sir Frederic Eustache Barker who was knighted in 1913, elected an M.P. for Saint John in 1885 and who served as Chief Justice of the N.B. Supreme Court from 1908 to 1914. Quite a stretch from a family of rebels two generations earlier!

The marriage of the Loyalist Currier family into the rebel Noble and Barker families is part of a wider history and I look forward to reading Stephen Davidson's second article.

...John Noble, UE, Ottawa – about to submit his application for descent from Issachar Currier, Loyalist

Articles About Loyalists in Canadian Genealogist

As many readers of Loyalist Trails may know, the "Canadian Genealogist" published between 1979 ad 1988 has been digitized by the Ontario Genealogical Society and is available in PDF format on their public website.

Loyalists everywhere may be interested to know that this publication contains a number of well researched articles on Loyalist history.

The Sir Guy Carleton Branch has put a list of these articles, with title, author, volume and issue numbers, on their branch website – see “Loyalist Articles in the Canadian Genealogist(PDF). We invite those interested to download the list and peruse the Canadian Genealogist to find new information on their Loyalist ancestors.

...Dorothy Meyerhof, UE, Librarian, Sir Guy Carleton Branch, UELAC

Where in the World?

Where is Toronto Branch member Martha Hemphill?

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.

  • Canada's first National Genealogy Conference will be held July 17-19, Pier 21, Halifax. The registration cost for this event has dropped significantly from when it was first advertised in late 2014. Registration cost is now $210. See some background on Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections blog. See details and registration  (Carol Harding, Nova Scotia Branch UELAC)

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • When Did We [Americans] Start Saying, "The British Are Coming"? An interesting article
  • Seven Strange Facts About Colonial Funerals. Early colonists paid a great deal of attention to death and funerals. Early colonial funerals were widely attended, and it would be thought strange for someone in a town not to show his respects for an upstanding citizen by attending a funeral. Read about seven strange funeral practices that have been done away with in modern times, reported by the New England Historical Society.
  • Keeping fit as a colonial gentleman. A short (2 min) video. Be wary of any alarms you may set off if you do these exercises in the public park. Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg.
  • NY Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer. The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society's new book, New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer, was featured on the "Forget-Me-Not Hour" podcast on January 7th. NYG&B President McKelden Smith explained what this monumental work is all about -- the first of its kind ever for New York. Founded in 1869, the NYG&B it is the largest genealogical society in New York and the only one that is state-wide.
  • High-end ladies shoes: Beautiful calimanco (glazed wool) shoes from the 1770s-1790s
  • We can all get distracted but perhaps this 1901 census enumerator should have brought along separate paper - classic. Photo.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:

  • Bayard, Samuel V. - volunteer Brian McConnell
  • Ferguson, John Sr. - volunteer Sandra McNamara
  • Lymburner, Margaret - from Bev Craig
  • Mott, Reuben - volunteer Sandra McNamara
  • Switzer, Philip - from Layla Briggs, volunteer Linda McClelland

Please help us build the directory by contributing more information for it. Contact for instructions and guidance.

Last Post: Rev. David Donald Davidson, UE

Peacefully at the Elisabeth Bruyere Residence on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at the age of 92 years. Beloved husband of the late Carol (nee Leith). Loving father of Ruth Hayward (Stephen) and Lyle (Lucie) all of Ottawa, and Bruce of Gananoque. Dear brother of Anne Dowker (Roger) of Sydenham.

Rev. Davidson was a valued member of the Colonel Edward Jessup Branch UELA, serving as our Chaplain for many years. until ill health prevented his attendance at meetings. His Loyalist ancestor was William Clow. As a piper he took part In many parades and events over the years. He played his bagpipes at the rededication of the Wiltse Pioneer Cemetery, one of our 2014 activities.

...Myrtle Johnson UE, Col. Edward Johnson Branch


Escaping from the Rebels Through Upper New York to Canada

Letters from gt uncle Willy (William Ezra Papst 1899 & 1829) and the obit of his father (Jacob J Papst 1823-1896) claimed that my Loyalist relatives escaped/fled the Mohawk Valley by travelling due north to the Oswegatchie River and then travelling in "flat boats" . . . and up Hooples creek (near Cornwall).

I am in the process of checking the feasibility of such an exodus, and while the Oswegatchie is 137 miles long, it's route through the rugged area west of the Adirondaks would probably only be navigable for 10-20 miles south of Ogdensburgh. Therefore they must have walked about 100 miles due north of Utica (Stone Arabia/Schoharie) area, (which I guess would be possible with Indian guides).

Are there any records of such a migration route? Sir John Johnson fled on the east side of the Adirondaks in 1776.

...Richard Poaps, UE

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