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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2015 Archive

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“Loyalist Trails” 2015-06: February 8, 2015


Children Escaping to Freedom, Part Two: Forty-Seven Voices – by Stephen Davidson

Kate Mosely was just eight years old when she ran away from her master's plantation on Crane Island, Virginia in 1779. Frank Addie was eleven years old when he took advantage of the 1780 siege on Charlestown, South Carolina to slip away from the man who had enslaved him. Both children had risked recapture and harsh punishment by heading for the nearest British regiment. They knew that once they had joined the forces of the crown and served the king for a year, they would be given their freedom.

Kate and Frank were not the only youngsters to risk the wrath of their masters by running away. Thanks to the data found in an old British ledger, we know that there were forty-seven enslaved children between the ages of three and twelve who left their patriot masters to eventually become Black Loyalists.

In 1783, Sir Guy Carleton, the British commander in chief in New York City, commissioned the creation of a ledger to record the names and descriptions of all blacks who were evacuating the city. This ledger is known as the Book of Negroes, and it lists the names of over 3,000 Africans who were either free Black Loyalists or the slaves of white loyalists.

One amazing discovery that can be made by searching through this document is that there were children as well as adults who fled patriot masters to receive their freedom. Unfortunately, most entries for these children are all too brief.

For example, Michael Wilkins, who fled slavery at the age of eleven, eventually joined other loyalists on the William, an evacuation ship bound for the mouth of the St. John River in what is now New Brunswick. The officer who entered Wilkins' name in the Book of Negroes noted that the boy was fifteen years old, "stout" (meaning "healthy"), formerly the property of John Thomas of White Plains, New York and had escaped in 1779. Wilkins was under the watchful eye of William Wright during the voyage north. We know that in the intervening four years Michael had served the crown because it is also noted that he had a "General Birch's certificate". This was a document issued by the British authorities to verify that a former slave had been granted his freedom.

However, all of the details that historians and genealogists would want to know are missing. What work had young Wilkins performed as a slave? How did he escape? Did he know his parents? Had he been born in Africa or was he the child of slaves? Was he alone or did he travel with a group of slaves? Who did he work for in New York City? How did he fare in the loyalist colony of New Brunswick?

But where the Book of Negroes fails to provide details about each of the forty-seven children who fled to freedom on their own, it can at least give the patient reader some statistical data on this group of remarkable youngsters.

For example, three boys aged 12 or under were able to escape their masters for every girl in the same age bracket. This may be due to the fact that boys were put out to work in the fields of plantations while girls were more closely watched as they worked inside houses. Given the nature of their work, it was easier for boys to dash off into the forest and head for a British encampment. Boys tend to engage in more dangerous behaviours than girls; therefore, their larger numbers among emancipated slaves may be related to their willingness to take risks. It was certainly easier to run if one were wearing knee breeches instead of an ankle-length skirt.

According to the entries in the Book of Negroes, a child escaping slavery was most likely to do so between 1778 and 1780. These are the years that the British army regained control of Georgia. Slaves in the nearby rebellious colonies of North and South Carolina as well as Virginia would find it easier to make a get-away to a colony that promised them freedom. None of the forty-seven children listed in Carleton's ledger escaped from masters in the rebel strongholds of the New England colonies. Twenty-nine fled slavery in Virginia, thirteen left South Carolina, and four escaped from New Jersey. There was only one representative from each of three other colonies (Georgia, Maryland and New York) among the children who found sanctuary within British lines. While the boys escaped from six different colonies, the girl runaways successfully fled just two: Virginia and South Carolina.

Most of the child runaways were between eight and twelve when they escaped slavery. Given the capabilities of children at this age, this is not so surprising. What is hard to grasp is how ten children between the ages of three and seven managed to escape their masters.

No doubt some children accompanied their parents or some other adult slaves when they made a break for freedom. However, by the time Black Loyalists were evacuating New York City in 1783, those adult guardians had died. Forty-five of the children whose names are in the Book of Negroes were enumerated while they boarded evacuation ships without adult accompaniment. The names of the adults nearest to theirs in the ledger show no correspondence to a common surname or colony of enslavement. The children were utterly alone.

Fortunately, two of the forty-seven children that were under thirteen at the time of their escape had not suffered such a traumatic loss.

Robert Postell was just seven years old when he and his seventeen year-old brother John, escaped their plantation in South Carolina in 1778. The brothers both worked for the British army and boarded their evacuation ship, the Esther, with Birch certificates in hand. However, the revolution had taken its toll. John Postell, now 22, was noted as being a “sickly fellow” as he boarded the ship for Port Roseway.

Two sisters also escaped slavery together in Norfolk, Virginia in 1776. Zilpah, a ten year-old, and her three year-old sister Hannah managed to get to New York City and earn their freedom. Seven years later, both girls held Birch certificates as they prepared to set sail for Nova Scotia on L'Abondance.

The third and final article in this series on children who escaped slavery will appear in next week's Loyalist Trails.

Maugerville Rebels: 125 Rebel, 13 Loyal (Part 2 of 2), by John Noble

Maugerville Rebels Claimed 125 Persons Signed their Resolutions Only 13 Opposed (Part 1)

Dr. F.A. McGrand's Backward Glances at Sunbury and Queens (1968) has a chapter entitled “A Parson Leads Them to War” (pp. 15-32) which notes that "on the 24th of May, 1776, a meeting of the inhabitants of the River St. John was held at Maugerville," at which a committee was appointed "to make immediate application to the Congress or General Assembly of the Massachusetts Bay for relief under their present distressed circumstances." This rebel committee consisted of twelve persons, ten of whom were prominent in the church. Jacob Barker, who presided at the meeting, was a Justice of the Peace and a ruling elder of the church. Phineas Nevers and Israel Perley were also justices, and both were church members. Daniel Palmer, Edward Coy, Israel Kinney and Asa Perley were ruling elders. Moses Pickard, Thomas Hartt and Hugh Quinton were church members. The two remaining members of the committee, Asa Kimbal and Oliver Perley were probably church members also, but I have not been able to establish that fact. Without them the connection between the church and the rebel movement is sufficiently clear.

McGrand says that the resolutions of the Maugerville residents were circulated throughout the community and along the river. It was signed by one hundred and twenty five people, mostly of Maugerville. Only thirteen refused, nine of them lived at the mouth of the river. In Maugerville, one who refused to sign was Gervas Say.

In May 1777 Arthur Gould, member of His Majesty's Colonial Militia, was at the mouth of the Saint John River and had written proposals to the Maugerville settlement saying he was coming with "the olive branch of peace". Israel Perley, Seth Noble, Jonathan Burpee and Elisha Nevers, Jr. wrote Gould a long letter on May 16th 1777. They explained that they had been misinformed in the year 1775 and they had sought the protection of Massachusetts Bay because they were left unprotected from the Indians. They were pleased to earn that he was coming with the "olive branch of peace". They expressed their desire for peace without revenge and an amnesty to all. In their concluding paragraph: "We earnestly request that no such complaints may prevail upon Your Honour to make any distinction with regard to any person on the river and we beg Your Honour's answer to this question."

Two days later Gould wrote Major Studholme that there were certain people at Maugerville bent on mischief and who "are ostensibly bent on quitting their houses and families rather than submit to His Majesty's gracious offer of clemency. Then he gave Studholme the names of several suspicious persons, including Seth Noble and Phineas Nevers.

McGrand writes that it is difficult to understand why Gould would report to Studholme on May 19th that Seth Noble and Phineas Nevers were irreconcilables, when on the 17th he had replied to the petition of Israel Perley, Seth Noble, Jonathan Burpee and Elisha Nevers, Jr. that he was prepared to ""offer clemency and oblivon for what was past, so be persuaded, gentlemen, I shall receive the submissions of every individual with equal cheerfulness."

When it came time to take the Oath of Allegiance everyone was ready with the exception of a few including Seth Noble and Phineas Nevers. This was different to what happened in Cumberland County. The Ulstermen around Cobequid were more reluctant and only a few took the Oath of Allegiance.

Perhaps Noble and Nevers were suspicious that they would not receive full pardon, as promised by Gould. They must have considered themselves marked men and the one hundred pounds offered for the capture of William Howe could have been meant for Noble and Nevers also. They took no chance. Leaving their families, they took the trail up the Oromocto and across the overland route to Machias which Israel Perley and his companions followed when they came to survey Maugerville in 1761.

McGrand concludes the chapter noting that "during the next decade or two there was much bickering between the two groups diametrically opposed in religious belief and political philosophy, the old dissenting settler of 1763 and the Loyalist of 1783. To understand it is to know the causes and outcome of the American Revolution."

What all this proves is that the vast majority of those who originally supported the Maugerville rebels rapidly changed their minds when faced with their defeat at Cumberland, a British warship on their doorsteps, and the offer of a pardon. And most of them probably found it convenient to forget this part of their history after the American Revolution left the Saint John River as part of British North America. And the British colonial authorities also conveniently forgot this episode and granted land to many of the rebels, even those identified in the Studholme report. It is a case study in how victors can heal divisions.

...John Noble, UE

2015 Conference Loyalists Come West: Chinatown

Read the details for Loyalists Come West, the 2015 UELAC Conference in Victoria BC May 28-30, 2015.

Victoria has a vibrant area known as Chinatown. Much smaller in geographic area than at the height of its size, the primary street through Chinatown now is Fisgard Street.

The beginnings of Chinatown date back to the era of the gold rush of 1858. Victoria's has the distinction of being the oldest Chinese community in Canada and the second oldest in North America, just behind San Francisco's Chinatown.

The modern Chinatown continues to be a key component of Downtown Victoria with many tourist attractions, hotels, bars, restaurants, theatres, services, and shopping areas nearby. The district was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1995.

A visit to Victoria's Chinatown is a must for visitors to the city. A combination of history, adventure, shopping, art galleries, dining and just plain fun are all available in this compact neighbourhood.

Read more about Victoria's Chinatown.

...2015 Conference Planning Committee Victoria BC

Where in the World?

Where is Thomas Peters?

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.

  • "Early Black Settlements in N.B." is speaker David Peters' topic at the New Brunswick Branch's Spring meeting April 9 at the Stone Church. Details.
  • Canadian members of the joint Canadian-USA World War II Devil's Brigade received the USA Congressional Gold Medal on Tues. 3 Feb. The first President of Little Forks Branch UELAC, Charles Shepard, was a member of that Brigade.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • A map showing the several provinces of the north eastern part of the English Empire in N. America about 1755, with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland prominent.
  • The 1759 Vought House in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. During the American Revolution, New Jersey was the scene of major battles and frequent enemy incursions, and of nearly constant internecine warfare and civil strife. This civil war, which affected the outcome of the Revolution, has been vastly under-appreciated until recently. In fact the Vought House is the only loyalist house museum in New Jersey, possibly the only fully interpreted loyalist site in the nation.
  • A blog by Brenda Dougall Merriman - The Johnson Burial Vault Last summer interested parties gathered to re-consecrate the last resting place of a Canadian [Loyalist] hero, Sir John Johnson, Bt, UE.
  • A view of the Bowling Green, Fort George and the Harbor during the British occupation of New York City, c. 1780
  • Only fitting to celebrate Black History Month with a reference to Richard Pierpoint, Loyalist and War of 1812 veteran. A painting. Read the article and view the Heritage Minute from Historica.
  • With the focus on The Book of Negroes and Black History Month, you can explore the list of Black Loyalist surnames from the original ledger on the website of the Nova Scotia Museum.
  • Fraunces Tavern is known as the place where George Washington gave his famous farewell address to his officers in 1783, but the building traces its history to 1719 when it was built as a home for Stephen DeLancey. Watch 3 minute video.
  • Canada's parliament burned down 99 years ago. The beautiful library only survived because someone shut its iron doors. Two photos: the fire; after most of the cleanup showing the library building.
  • An Apple Butter Recipe That Can Help a Migraine and Relieve Heartburn? From the kitchen of the Williamsburg Inn. Recipe and video

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

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

  • Bleakney, David - from volunteer Brian McConnell
  • Lawrence, John - volunteer Sandra McNamara
  • Link, John - volunteer Sandra McNamara
  • Reed, William - from Elva (Ware) Wheelhouse
  • Willcox, Elisha Sr. - from Stephen Botsford with certificate applications

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

Last Post

Lenora Grace Winger (nee Forrest), UE

Peacefully passed away at the West Haldimand General Hospital on Wednesday, January 14, 2015 in her 92nd year. Wife of the late Leslie Winger and Warren Tupper. Loving mother of Margaret and the late Alexander Brown, Roy and Cathy Winger. Mother-in-law of Margaret and Len Reniewick. Beloved Grandmother of nine ; numerous great grandchildren. Predeceased by daughter Eva (1952), son Ralph (1984), and brothers Gordon and Fred Forrest.

Lenora enjoyed reading, researching family history and quilting. She will be sadly missed and lovingly remembered by her family and friends. Funeral Service Fri. Jan 16 at the Hyde & Mott Chapel of R.H.B. Anderson Funeral Homes Ltd., Hagersville. Interment Hagersville Cemetery. Donations to the West Haldimand Hospital or the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

Lenora received her certificates in the 1980's to Loyalist ancestors Valentine Schram, Adam Bowman and William May as a member of the Grand River Branch.

...Roger Harris

Anne Margaret Grierson, UE

(July 8, 1938 – October 2, 2014) Anne passed away peacefully having had friends and family visit her daily. She was born in Winnipeg to Tom and Dorothy Grierson and lived in Grande Prairie, Wetaskiwin, and Drumheller before coming to Vancouver. Anne attended Crofton House School as a boarder and as a day girl. After graduating from U.B.C. she worked there in Graduate Studies until retirement.

Anne loved travelling with friends and family and saw much of the world, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and China. UELAC conferences took her across Canada. Occasionally some winter weeks were spent in Hawaii.

She was committed to community service through broad interests, Soroptimist International, Community Policing, Vancouver Council of Women and the Chancel Guild of St. Mary's, Kerrisdale. She truly enjoyed the opera, symphony, ballet, and theatre.

She pursued her genealogical interests for many years with the BC Genealogical Society and the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada. Anne will be dearly missed by her many friends and her family. The kind and compassionate care of the staff of 10D, Centennial Pavilion, Vancouver General Hospital is gratefully acknowledged. Service for Anne was held on Thursday, October 23, at St. Mary's (Kerrisdale) Anglican Church, Vancouver. Please consider a donation to The SPCA, Alzheimer Society or a charity of your choice. Walkey & Company Funeral Directors.

...Carl Stymiest, UE, Vancouver Branch


John Brown Sr. and Family

I would like to ask if anybody has any information about my ancestor, John Brown, b. 1712 in Yorkshire. His son, John Brown, b. 1742 also in Yorkshire removed to the Remsheg Grant in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, in 1783, with his wife and children. He was a Loyalist and his descendants are eligible for membership in the UEL. The father, John Brown, b. 1712 was a British soldier who was living in Upper New York in 1750.

A descendant, Alfred L. Brown, wrote in 1928 that "John Brown, Sr. was born in Yorkshire,England. He was a soldier of rank in the British Army. He removed from England to the upper part of New York (Province) in 1750 where he resided for many years. He had nine children, seven sons and two daughters named according to age, as follows: John, Jr., William, James, Rufus, Smith, Isaac, Sally, Synthia, and Jacob. John Jr., and William were born in England the rest in New York State (Province). Jacob settled in Ohio and became a noted lawyer and jurist". Alfred Brown's source for this information has not been identified.

I have searched extensively in the New York State Library and Archives for this family. I have also searched and Since his son, John, Jr. was a Loyalist ( John Jr served with the Westchester Refugees under James DeLancey), and John Sr. was a British soldier, it seems likely that John Sr. was probably also a Loyalist and may have remained in the area that became New York state.

H. R. Brown published a book, The Valley of the Remsheg or History of Wallace Bay Nova Scotia which lists most of the descendants of John Brown, Jr. (but his father is not included). So I am NOT looking for the descendants of John Brown, Jr. I am only looking for any information about John Brown, Sr. and his family. If you could publish this as a query, I should be very grateful.

...Shirley A. Smith

Where did the Loyalist American Regiment Disband?

I was wondering where The Loyalist American Regiment disbanded to when they came to New Brunswick? Did they disperse in Saint John NB? or did they go further up river to the likes of Grand River NB?? I love the site by the way ... very informative.

...Richie Ellis

William Cain and Family

William cain was with the Prince of Wales Regiment and settled on the Nashwaak River, a tributary which flows into the St. John River at Fredericton NB. His wife Nelly applied for pension in 1837. Could you check him out? Thanks.

...Floretta Wade

Response re Did Loyalist Houses have Cellars?

In last week's Loyalist Trails, Chris Oakley asked "Did Loyalist Log Houses Have a Cellar Hole?"

Faye Rainie notes an item from a Loyalist Gazette article from 2007: "A family divided by the American Revolution: Sergeant Gabriel Purdy UE of the Guides and Pioneers and Colonel James DeLancey's Regiment," by Grietje McBride, UE.

"According to [William R.] Bird, when Gabriel came to Westchester N.S. he found a clearing of a few acres in a heavy stand of pine, with heaps of stones showing land had been cleared for planting. There was an old log cabin, abandoned, and a spring of fine cold water. Gabriel made inquiries and found that an Embree family had started to make a farm there and had a cellar under the cabin. One day when Mr. Embree was away, several bears prowled near and at nightfall nudged through an opening into the cellar The terrified women and children, on the floor above, listened to the bears growling and moving about and would not stay in the place. Mr Embree pulled stakes and went to another location. Gabriel Purdy was not afraid of anything in the woods. He named the area Westchester after his home county in New York." "[He] settled on the south side of the road running between Fort Lawrence and Fort Belcher."

This cabin would certainly appear to have had a cellar hole.

Faye also notes "The Embree was probably my 4th gr grandfather Joseph Embree who had a brother Samuel. They were both in the Westchester Refugees. I know Joseph is buried in the Embree cemetry just before you get to the Rose (Old Rose Cemetry) in Westchester County NS. I was there a few years ago. In the Rose cemetry are Joseph's two sisters who married Purdys, Sarah and Francis. I know Samuel did not take a homestead in westchester but got land in Amherst which he bought. He did get a draw and so did joseph as they were in Delancey's Cowboys too.

...Faye Embree (now Rainie)

Responses re Jacobus (James) Van Alstine

James son, Isaac VanAlstine, filed a petition in 1808, requesting the name of his mother, Lydia Vanalstine be inserted on the United Empire Loyalists list. The petition stated that James Vanalstine, husband of Lydia, died in His Majesty's Service in Montreal in the year 1782. The petition was granted, and Lydia's name was entered in the official UEL list by order in council dated Feb. 16th, 1808. (R.G. 1, L 3, volume 514 a, bundle 8, number 17, 4 pages; M.G. 9, D 4, volume 9, pages 247-248)

...Alan VanAlstine, UE; Welland, Ontario

I thought it would be interesting to look at the genealogy involved in this query. I found that there are some interesting Loyalist trails discovered in unravelling this story.

In summary, here are the conclusions reached below, based on records which I discovered. James (Jacobus) Van Alstine (1723- 1779/1780) died in combat in service with Sir John Johnson's First Battalion in 1779 or 1780, perhaps in Battle of Klock's Field, and is probably buried there. The story of the escape from the battle is narrated by a contemporary as: "During their precipitous escape, Johnson's men were forced to abandon their cannon, their baggage, and most of the prisoners they had captured earlier" – and several men probably died and were buried there, perhaps including James Van Alstine.

James' wife is determined to be Lydia Larroway, with whom he had five Van Alstine children; between 1779 and 1783, she remarried Isaac Crowther, U.E., and by him had one daughter.

In Sons and Daughters of American Loyalists (p. 322), we see that two of Lydia Van Alstine's sons received OC land grants as SUE – Isaac J. Van Alstine of Richmond, on 9 March 1808, and James Van Alstine of Richmond, on 16 February 1810.

Lydia (Larroway) the widow of James Van Alstine seems to be a certified Loyalist in her own right, named only "Lydia Van Alstine", recognized as such by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, as the later petitions of her Van Alstine sons show. We might imagine that she aided her brother Isaac Larraway in his Loyalist efforts, but I couldn't find any documentation of this. However, her relationship to James Jacobus Van Alstine was definitely not required for her sons' petitions of SUE - OC grants of land, both of which were approved. Isaac's petition for an OC as son of a Loyalist dated February 26 1808, states that he is now 21 years of age, and is "the son of the late Lydia Van Alstine (of Fredericksburgh) – deceased – A UE Loyalist...". No mention of his father.

Where might James Jacobus Van Alstine be buried? According to the earlier appearance before the Loyalist Commissioners by Lydia, widow of James (Jacobus) Van Alstine, dated September 29, 1787 in Montreal, she had remarried Isaac Crouther by that time. James, she says, had formerly lived in Tryon County, New York. Isaac Crouther says that James Van Alstine was a member of Sir John's First Battalion, that he had died during the war about 1779, and that by wife Lydia, James had left five children, all underage at the time of his death: that is all under the age of 22, so these children had been born after about 1758 at the earliest. The implication here, is that since he had died during the war, James likely died in America, and so is buried there. From the known movements of Sir John's Regiment, the grave location, marked or not, might be near Klock's Field in New York. Isaac Crouther says that James eldest son, Lambert, also served in Sir John Johnson's Regiment as a Fifer. (Fifers and drummers are often boys between the ages of nine and fifteen or so.) The 1787 petition also says that the Van Alstines had lands on the Susquehanna.

Isaac Crouther, the second husband of Lydia, yields another Loyalist trail, and is also found in Loyalist archives, in SDAL page 77, where he is named 'Isaac Crowder' who married 'Lydia' with a daughter named 'Hannah', baptized 15 October 1787, who married Henry Utman of Williamsburgh, and received her OC grant on 16 February 1811.

On the petition of Hannah Crowder wife of Henry Utman, it is stated that she is the daughter of Isaac Crowder a UE Loyalist whose name appears on 'The UE List'. And indeed there he is, listed as 'Isaac Crouder' of Osnabruck, soldier of the Royal Regiment of New York.

So who is "Lydia", wife of James (Jacob) Van Alstine – and does she qualify as someone whose children could qualify for SUE and DUE grants? The grants suggest that this must be the case.

From documented Crowder and Van Alstine genealogical research, it is determined that she is Lydia Larroway, born 1745 in Albany, New York. There are a couple of possible church records for her baptism. Lydia married Jacobus Vanalstine on 05 February 1762 in Stone Arabia, Montgomery, New York. James died as the result of battle in 1779 or likely 1780, while serving in Sir John Johnson's regiments.

It is not certain as to the name of her father, but here is a plausible scenario. Her brother was perhaps the Loyalist Isaac Larroway, as Lydia's second son by Jacob Van Alstine was named Isaac J. Van Alstine. On page 1030 of The Report of the Loyalist Commissioners, Vol. XXII (Montreal, 1787), Isaac Larraway was a witness to the claim of Isaac Van Alstine. In 1784, Isaac Larraway Sr. was living in Fredericksburgh.

From Loyalist Archives, this Isaac Larraway U.E. was born 21 February 1731 in Schoharie, New York.

From other research, it is found that Isaac Larraway was the son of Petrus Larrowe (1704-1787) of Schoharie by his wife Maria Van Alstyne (b. Schoharie 1707.) This couple may also be the parents of Lydia Van Alstine, UE.

So if this is true, then by marrying Jacob (James) Van Alstine, Lydia Larroway was likely marrying a second or third cousin. This is not an unusual event.

...Richard Ripley, UE, Genealogist

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