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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2015 Archive

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“Loyalist Trails” 2015-29: July 19, 2015

Articles

The Loyalist Refugees from East Florida (Part 1), by Stephen Davidson

While New Brunswick can claim to be the first successful colony formed by loyalist refugees in the British Empire, the very first loyalist colony was in a far more southern part of the continent -- East Florida. The Florida peninsula had once been part of Spain's New World Empire until it was traded for British-held Havana, Cuba in 1763. For the next twenty years, East Florida was part of Britain's coastal colonies that stretched north from the Gulf of Mexico to Newfoundland.

Beginning in 1775, loyal Americans who had lived in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, headed south to sanctuary in East Florida. By the end of the American Revolution, 12,000 loyalists had joined the colony's original 4,000 settlers.

As Trevor Parsons points out, "even before the creation of Upper Canada and New Brunswick a loyalist colony emerged in East Florida larger in size and potential than any of the ultimate locations {of} loyalists." These displaced persons had considered East Florida as their reward for their loyalty to Britain, and --like the loyalists who fled to Canada and Nova Scotia— had begun to build homes and clear their newly granted lands.

However, as part of the peace treaty that was ratified in 1783, East Florida was to be given back to Spain. Within two years' time, the colony's 16,000 English speaking settlers had been scattered to the four corners of the British Empire. Almost a third of the loyalists who had sought sanctuary in East Florida sailed north to "the inhospitable regions of Nova Scotia". They arrived in the colony two years after 40,000 earlier loyalists had begun to establish homesteads there in 1783.

Thanks to the transcripts of the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists (RCLSAL), we can learn something of the experiences of these loyalists who became displaced persons twice in less than a decade. Here are the stories of four who eventually settled along Nova Scotia's southern coast.

Mrs Jean Henderson, the widow of Arthur Henderson, stood before the RCLSAL when it convened in Shelburne on June 21, 1786. She was the only loyalist woman from East Florida who sought compensation and her story is a remarkable one. It all began in Ireland when she and Arthur emigrated to the New World, establishing a 100-acre farm on South Carolina's Rocky River. Endangered by either the persecution of rebels or the violent battles around them, the Hendersons were "obliged to fly to Charlestown" in 1781. The strain on the 70 year-olds was too much for Alexander, and he died just weeks after crossing the British lines.

A year later, Jean Henderson was among the hundreds of loyalist refugees who evacuated South Carolina and sailed for East Florida. It had been a costly war for the Irish senior citizen. Rebels had killed her son James and hanged her son-in-law, Allen Hacket. Her son David died while in Charlestown. All of her family were dead, leaving her "without any support or assistance in her old age".

For the next three years, Jean lived among the loyalist refugees in East Florida. Her transcript says nothing about where she settled or how she surived, only that she "went to Florida".

In 1785, the elderly loyalist was once again compelled to evacuate a British colony; this time she settled among the loyalists of Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Since it was the largest community in all of British North America, it seemed a logical place to see out the rest of her life. At least three other loyalists from East Florida had also made the Shelburne area their home.

James Wright, like the Hendersons, had lived in the 96 District of South Carolina. He arrived in America as a child when his parents emigrated from England. In the years before the outbreak of war, Wright had a house and barn on a 200-acre farm along the Broad River. Four enslaved Africans helped Wright and his wife till the land and tend their livestock.

After the Battle of 96, rebels took James Wright prisoner and found him guilty of treason. He was allowed to return to his farm on the condition that he "remain quiet" for the rest of the war. When he was later ordered to join the local patriot militia, he refused and fled to St. Augustine, East Florida with 336 other loyalists.

Upon arriving in East Florida, Wright joined the Carolina Royalists and was later a captain in the militia. While on an intelligence mission for Lord Rawdon, the loyalist was shot. In 1786, Wright still carried three musket balls in his body. Certificates from his officers showed his "good character as a loyalist and a soldier".

During the seven years of her husband's absence, Mrs Wright had continued to operate the family farm. However, in 1782, patriots drove her off the Wrights' land. Strangely, the loyalist's wife was still in South Carolina in 1786, a year after her husband had been forced to leave East Florida for sanctuary in Nova Scotia. The RCLSAL declared that Wright was a "meritorious loyalist and bore arms" but its transcripts fail to indicate what became of him after he received his compensation.

Patrick Lisitt and John Fannen were both loyalists who, having settled in East Florida, eventually re-established themselves in Argyle, a community to the west of Shelburne. Like Jean Henderson and her husband, Lisitt was a native of Ireland. His family emigrated to Pennsylvania when he was a boy, but when rebels drafted him in their militia, he fled to Guilford, North Carolina. However, Guilford's patriots also compelled him to join their militia. He "marched one day with the Rebels and deserted to the British" in South Carolina. After Charlestown was captured, Lisitt served the British for the remainder of the war, being wounded three times .

After the British evacuated Charlestown, the loyalist "went to Florida", and three years later "came from that place to Shelburne". In 1786 Lisitt had settled in Argyle, the same community that Col. John Fannen made his home.

Fannen, an American born loyalist, was living in the Camden district of South Carolina "when the Troubles broke out". John joined the British in 1779 after their victory at Hudson's Ferry and entered the loyalist militia, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In retaliation, rebels plundered his home, captured his slaves, and took over two dozen horses, 30 cattle, 70 hogs, furniture, and tools .

After the defeat of the British forces at the Battle of Cowpens, Fannen was charged with leading the wounded soldiers back to Camden, South Carolina. Patriots attacked and seized the men, but Fannen was able to escape. Later, Lord Cornwallis used the loyalist to gather intelligence on the rebels.

Fannen eventually sought refuge at St. John's in East Florida. By 1785, he had left the colony and sailed for Nova Scotia. The fate of his wife is unknown, but when he stood before the RCLSAL, he still had one child living in South Carolina. Nevertheless, in August of 1786, the loyalist who had once thought that he would be settling in East Florida was making plans to settle on Nova Scotia's Tusket River.

The stories of more loyalists who were uprooted from East Florida will be featured in next week's Loyalist Trails.


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

Anthony and Andrew Westbrook (Part 8), by Doug Massey

© Doug Massey, UE

Before we rush to judge, however, we need some perspective. The Westbrooks were far from being the only ones gaming the system. There were many doing so in both small and big ways. Consider this. The Westbrooks, like so many other Loyalists had gambled everything they had on supporting the king, and lost. Most fought out of principles and put their very lives on the line over a period of many years. In doing so they endangered the lives of their families as well. When the war ended they faced more years of want in refugee camps knowing that this was all there was for them. They could not go home because they were now hated and shunned by their kin and former friends down south. Daunting foes, Brant's Volunteers brought great devastation to the Patriots. Hated and attainted for murder, Anthony Westbrook could never return to Minisink. Brother Joel had tried only to be expelled. Anthony's world and that of his family was swept away forever. So much for conscience and abstract principles. Now what? Survival. Could Andrew, who grew up in the midst of war, understand why his father had fought for the British? Did he resent his father for being so often absent, for putting him, his mother and siblings in harms way? When the Westbrooks came to Ancaster in 1789, and in the midst of near starvation, Andrew had nothing but his own intelligence and ambition to fall back on. He grew up in ever-present insecurity. For the rest of his life he would be guided by self-interest. From now on he would seek sanctuary in an abundance of things and influence. But why in Delaware Township?

Why seek land on the River Thames? Alexander, John, and Haggai Westbrook were well established around Brant. But not Andrew. He had greater ambitions, and news of opportunities at La Trenche, the Thames, was everywhere. Ebenezer Allen, who lived on the Grand River for a while, may have early alerted Andrew to the possibilities. From 1794 onward Allen had been talking up his lands in Delaware Township on the Thames. But then, as we will see, Allen's enterprises were just a small part of the feeding frenzy in land speculation created by Lieutenant Governor Simcoe through out Upper Canada between 1792 and 1797. Many were looking west to settle and make money, Masonic lodge brothers included. Freemasonry provided, among many other things, a powerful network for business. Many brothers travelled widely and with them went the news of the day. When Andrew "Wesbrook", for that was how he signed his name, was initiated into the craft on July 29, 1797 in what is today Hamilton Ontario, [53] he became part of a fraternity that opened up new possibilities. John Kitson, initiated the same year, moved to the mouth of the Thames and by the early 1800's had become a member of Lodge No. 14 at "the River La Trenche". [54] A "Bro. Allen of No. 18 [Adoniram]"is listed as being present at a lodge meeting in Detroit, Oct. 7, 1805. [55] The lodge was at Amherstburg. This may have been Ebenezer Allen. John Askin, one of Allen's creditors, was also a member of that lodge. Perhaps Westbrook was a member there as well. Unfortunately the records of that lodge are lost. Back in Hamilton, influential lodge brother Richard Beasley too had his eye on the Thames. [56] And Daniel Springer, also a land speculator, had big plans for the area. Perhaps in 1796, Springer canoed down the Thames from its headwaters to Delaware where he took up a large quantity of land in and around present day London. Indeed, he and Andrew Westbrook were soon to become neighbours there! Here were two lodge brothers with so much in common: Both had more than farming on their minds; both came from Dutch American families; both had faced the trauma of the American Revolution. And yet, as we shall see, they both grew to hate each other with a passion, the ongoing feud between them a continuation of the civil war that bridged from the American Revolution to the War of 1812.

NOTES:

[53] J. Ross Robertson, The History of Freemasonry in Canada, Vol. 1, George Morang and Co., Toronto, 1900, p. 652. Lodge No. 10 or “The Barton”

[54] Ibid,. p. 225.

[55] Ibid,. p. 228.

[56] Upper Canada Land Petitions, Richard Beasley, Benjamin Fairchild Jr. and Margaret Springer, (undated), ordered on May 26, 1796, L.A.C. “B” Bundle 1, Petition No. 54.

...Doug Massey

Building and Attacking Redoubts

From Bunker Hill to Yorktown, a feature of military actions during the American Revolution was the redoubt. Of course, redoubts were a fixture in world-wide military operations long before, and long after, that war, but those fortifications built of earth, sod and timber were usually more complex than their simple materials suggest.

Read the short article published on June 24, 2015, in the Journal of the American Revolution.

The Maybees Gather in the Mohawk Valley

(Read this with photos)

The Maybee/Mabee/Mabie etc Family meet every five years for a Reunion, and it is held at Mabee Farm Historic Site at Rotterdam Jct. NY in the Mohawk Valley and just west of Schenectday.

The oldest part of the Mabee House dates to 1705 and it is believed to be the earliest standing home left in the Mohawk Valley. The 'newest' part of the house dates to 1790 and was used for a time as a tavern to accomodate people journeying up and down the Mohawk River which runs next to the farm. The farm was in the family for 287 years and after that maintained as a historic site. A large Visitor Centre was added in 2011.

The Mabee family who resided there for so long included Rebel veterans of the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 veterans some of whom are buried at a family cemetery on site. These days the farm hosts various cultural events, weddings, varied displays in the Visitor Centre, and reenactments. The King's Royal Yorkers, for example, visited the site in 2011 and a Revolutionary War reenactment is possible for 2016. On July 11th, the Mabee Farm hosted the Maybee Reunion.

The Maybees (+ varied spellings) descend from Pieter Casparszen from Naarden in the Netherlands and his wife Aechtje Jans. They were in America by the mid-1600s. His ancestry is the cause of much speculation. He was not Dutch, but several generations of Maybees married Dutch women. The Mabee Farm branch of the family descend from the eldest son. My wife and I both descend from another son and we are part of the Loyalist Branch from New Jersey.

The programme for the day included a presentation by artist Len Tantillo who painted a most impressive painting of the site as it might have appeared c1800. A historical/genealogical update was provided by Steve Mabie. Earlier in the day wreaths were placed at the graves of Rebel and 1812 Veteran Mabees and this was under the direction of DAR and SAR members.

I made a point of announcing the Peter Maybee War of 1812 Veteran marker ceremony set for July 19th north of Trenton ON, After all, we don't want them to think it's only the Rebels and American War of 1812 veterans who get recognition!

The photos show the main group of early buildings at the Mabee Farm, the Visitor Centre, and the Rebel 2nd Albany Co. Militia firing a volley.

...Peter W. Johnson, UE

Submission for the Fall 2015 issue, Loyalist Gazette

We are rapidly approaching the August 15, 2015 deadline for submissions for the Fall 2015 issue of the Loyalist Gazette. I am sure that you would like to have your Branch News reported and I am always interested in publishing a feature article about the American Revolution or the War of 1812. Remember to send me your articles as e-mail attachments, in MS Word, and, also as attachments, include illustrations in jpeg format with at least 300 dpi resolution. Other excellent topics would be to report about your UEL experiences over this past summer or reporting discoveries about your Loyalist or War of 1812 ancestors.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

...Bob McBride, UE, Editor, Loyalist Gazette

The UELAC Book of Remembrance

The Book of Remembrance is now available for viewing online. It and the associated Memorial Fund are more adequately described than previously. Contributions to honour the memory of someone who has been interested in the Loyalist era are welcome.

War of 1812 Veteran William Johnson To Be Honoured

William Johnson, a veteran of the War of 1812, will be honored by the placement of a footstone in memory of his service during that war. The ceremony will take place at 1:00 p.m. on 24 August 2015 in Glenwood Cemetery, Picton, Ontario (site of the Johnson family burying ground) at the same time as the family buries Elizabeth Hancocks UE, former Dominion Genealogist of the association.

It is possible there will be a few re-enactors in War of 1812 uniform present, including my son Seaghan who is a re-enactor himself, as well as the individual responsible for the Graveside Project sponsored by the Government of Canada. This is an ongoing project which will not end after the passing of the bicentennial date of the War of 1812. Veterans are still being sought to receive the footstone markers in lieu of the medals and pensions they were to receive 200 years ago, but which the government failed to provide.

...George Hancocks

Where in the World?

Where are Gerry & Pat Adair, Saskatchewan Branch, and Peter Milliken, Kingston Branch?

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.

  • The Col Edward Jessup has experienced a problem with their website and a new site and/or location will be developed. For now a temporary page is at http://www.uelac.org/ColEdwardJessup/
  • Chilliwack Branch will celebrate BC's Loyalist Day with a Flag raising ceremony at City Hall this Wednesday, July 22nd at 10:00 am. A "no-host" luncheon at the Canton Gardens will follow. Please wear "period clothing" for this celebration.
  • Vancouver Branch is hosting their annual Picnic to celebrate Loyalist Day. Location is at Queen's Park, NW., BC at Picnic Shelter #2 Time is 11:30 am to 3:30 pm. there will be a special program, Dessert and Prizes and lucky draw. Bring your picnic lunch and a lawn chair or blanket.
  • Guysborough Heritage Day Sunday, August 30th: Volunteers will be dressed in period Loyalist clothing donated by the Black Heritage Centre, from the set of the T.V. Series: "The Book of Negroes" – Book Reading: "Ruins in the Mist" by Marion Timmons + Book Reading: "If This is Freedom" by Gloria Wesley (Desmond) + A Ledger's Legacy: The Book of Negroes by Stephen Davidson

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • The visit by the ship Hermione continues, welcomed in Castine Maine on Bastille Day. Lafayette had voyaged to America on the frigate Hermione which later sailed to Castine, where it gathered intelligence on the British troops stationed at Fort George. See coverage in The Ellsworth American. (Ed Garrett)
  • See Sunrise off Lunenburg NS with L'Hermione
  • The journal of Capt. WIlliam Frankland, one of Grand Manan's prominent early residents has been returned to the island, with help from the New Brunswick Museum.
  • Founders' Days 2015 is being celebrated this weekend in Shelburne Nova Scotia. See photo and short description.
  • Queen Victoria and Prince Albert each on Canadian postage stamps. Image.
  • Why do we say 'mad as a hatter'?

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

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

  • Secord, Elias - from Shirley Thorne, with certificate application

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

Queries

Response re Michael Swim

Here are some records about the Swim family, or people with the same surname.

Vincent Swim did serve with the New Jersey Volunteers.

Matthias Swim may have been another of the family. He served with the Loyal American Regiment, and he settled with a land grant in Nova Scotia.

No information at this time on Michael Swim.

In the deeds and county records for Northumberland County, New Brunswick, we find Henry Swim and a couple of others in other counties.

...Richard Ripley, UE, Genealogist

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