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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2016 Archive

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“Loyalist Trails” 2016-33: August 14, 2016


If Loyalist Furniture Could Talk (Part 2 of 2)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

In last week's Loyalist Trails, we began to unravel the story surrounding a chest of drawers that survived the American Revolution. This "highboy" can now be seen in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, the town where its original loyalist owners, the Calefs, once lived. Here is the conclusion of the story of Dr. John and Dorothy Calef of Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Evidence of the trauma that the Calef family experienced over the next few years may be seen in the fact that in 1775 and 1776 Dorothy had two stillborn daughters. At 42 years of age, near her 25th wedding anniversary, Dorothy gave birth to her 17th child, Jedidiah. Within two month's time, her 23 year-old son died.

Political tensions continued to increase and by 1779, John Calef had moved to a loyalist settlement at Fort George on the Penobscot River – the location of what is today Castine, Maine. Dorothy and their eight children remained in Ipswich. (By this time, Dorothy's two stepdaughters had both established homes of their own. Margaret had married Boston's Dr. Daniel Scott and Mary was the wife of Ipswich's Captain John Dutch.)

The on-going dispute over the precise boundary between hostile Massachusetts and loyal Nova Scotia worried those who had settled at Fort George with John Calef, and so they commissioned him to go to Britain in 1780 to sort out the matter. He would remain in the United Kingdom for almost three years.

At one point, John sent a friend named Captain David Mowat back to Massachusetts to see how his family was faring. However, this known loyalist had to keep out of sight of Ipswich's patriots, hiding at times in Dorothy Calef's cellar, attic and barn. Little Mehitable Calef, just 12 years old at the time, was given the task of delivering meals to Mowat at his various hiding places. The fears for Mowat's safety underscored how dangerous it was for Dorothy and her children to remain in Ipswich.

In February of 1782, Dorothy once again had to endure the death of a child, but this time she was all alone in Ipswich. Her husband was still overseas when she received word that their 29 year-old son John had drowned as his ship was returning to Ipswich from the West Indies.

It finally was all too much for Dorothy. Massachusetts held far too much tragedy and too much danger. Packing up the family treasures (including the highboy) in quilts and blankets, Mrs Calef hired a private sloop and sailed for Nova Scotia in 1783. As well as the family Bible, furniture and furnishings, Dorothy also made sure that she packed John's medicine cabinet, surgical tools and medical texts, as well as the large mortar and pestle that he used to prepare medicines. Mowat, however, was instructed to stay near Ipswich to let John Calef know where Dorothy could be found. Little wonder that family lore remembers Dorothy as "vigorous and resourceful".

The Calef family's sloop encountered a snowstorm as it approached the mouth of the St. John River, and ran aground near Mispec (west of modern day Saint John). Miraculously, Dorothy and her children were unharmed, and, with the aid of the sloop's crew walked the nine miles it took to get to Parrtown. The Calef family's furniture, including the highboy, also survived the voyage.

John Calef finally returned from his mission in England, learned of his family's whereabouts, and was reunited with them in Parrtown. Lists of the loyalists who found refuge in the settlement note that only five of the Calefs' seven children were with them in 1784. Two servants, no doubt enslaved Africans, were also part of the family unit.

For the next six years, Calef served the garrison at Fort Howe as its surgeon and chaplain. During their time in Saint John, Dorothy and John's oldest daughter Mehitable married Captain David Mowat, the man who they had sheltered in their Ipswich home. The bride was 18 and the groom was 38.

When John Calef decided to retire from his service to the Fort Howe garrison in 1790, he and Dorothy moved to the loyalist settlement of St. Andrews situated further west along the Fundy coast. Naturally, the highboy journeyed with them.

Dorothy lived the remaining 19 years of her life in St. Andrews, surrounded by mementos of the life that she had enjoyed in Massachusetts. She died on August 17, 1809 at the age of 74. Her husband John wrote, "My very dear and faithful consort died ... in a sudden and surprising manner." No doubt delivering 17 children over the 56 years of their marriage had taken its toll. Three years after his wife's death, John was buried next to Dorothy. He died on October 23, 1812 at 87 years of age.

The mortar and pestle that Calef had used to make his medicines found their way into the home of his daughter, Mehitable Mowat. The highboy was passed down to a variety of Calef descendants until it was bought by the province of New Brunswick in 1978 and placed in the Sheriff Andrews House. Its craftsmanship has much to say about the furniture makers of New England, but the events of the American Revolution that the highboy witnessed give it an even great story to tell. If only it could talk.

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

JAR: Revolutionary War Olympics – The Games Our Founders Played

(By Joshua Shepherd August 8, 2016) They may not have enjoyed major league baseball, college football, or competitive ice dancing, but the Revolutionary generation was unquestionably an athletic bunch. Colonial sportsmen practiced a number of obscure games that have largely lost currency in America, including cricket, shinny, and whirl, but also participated in contests that would look more familiar, such as shooting matches, races, and various ball games. Even a notorious curmudgeon like John Adams confessed that in his younger days he was so fond of "driving hoops, playing marbles, playing Quoits, Wrestling, Swimming, Skaiting and above all shooting" that he alarmed his father.

For common soldiers plagued with hours of camp boredom, sports could offer much needed diversion. Connecticut's Nathan Hale, long before he attained the status of a legendary martyr, recorded that on one particularly uneventful November day in 1775 he cleaned his gun, then "pld some football, & some checuers." Even on the far reaches of the frontier, sporting events that reinforced the warrior ethos – such as shooting matches and a particularly brutal forerunner of lacrosse – were a deeply ingrained cultural fixture. Hessian Capt. Johann Hinrichs described Cherokee warriors at Savannah who were remarkably proficient at tomahawk throwing. "The skill which they exhibit when making use of this instrument," recorded Hinrichs, "is almost inconceivable, for they hit the smallest mark with the point of the keen-edged hatchet at a distance of twenty and more paces."

Read more.

Ben Franklin's World: Founding Friendships Between Men and Women

Who are you friends with? Why are you friends with your friends?

In the early American republic, men and women formed and maintained friendships for many of the same reasons we make friends today: companionship, shared interests, and, in some cases, because they helped expand thinking and social circles.

Today, we explore friendship in the early American republic. Specifically, we investigate what it was like for men and women to form and maintain friendships with each other. Our guide for this exploration is Cassandra Good, author of Founding Friendships: Friendships Between Men & Women in the Early American Republic.

Listen to the podcast.

Myths of the American Revolution: The Smithsonian

A noted historian debunks the conventional wisdom about America's War of Independence

We think we know the Revolutionary War. After all, the American Revolution and the war that accompanied it not only determined the nation we would become but also continue to define who we are. The Declaration of Independence, the Midnight Ride, Valley Forge—the whole glorious chronicle of the colonists' rebellion against tyranny is in the American DNA. Often it is the Revolution that is a child's first encounter with history.

Yet much of what we know is not entirely true. Perhaps more than any defining moment in American history, the War of Independence is swathed in beliefs not borne out by the facts. Here, in order to form a more perfect understanding, the most significant myths of the Revolutionary War are reassessed.

1. Great Britain Did Not Know What It Was Getting Into

2. Americans Of All Stripes Took Up Arms Out Of Patriotism

3. Continental Soldiers Were Always Ragged And Hungry

4. The Militia Was Useless

5. Saratoga Was The War's Turning Point

6. General Washington Was A Brilliant Tactician And Strategist

7. Great Britain Could Never Have Won The War

Explore further.

Book: Valiant Ambition – A Piece of the Back Story

Nathaniel Philbrick's Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution offers an intriguing look at perhaps the two most famous men to emerge from the Revolutionary War-one hailed a hero, the other a villain. The story follows Arnold's fall from one of Washington's greatest generals to America's most legendary traitor. We learn how Arnold's anger after being overlooked for promotion by the Continental Congress, coupled with the loss of his personal fortune and debilitating war injuries, led him to sell his loyalty to the British. Juxtaposed against Arnold's fall is the story of George Washington's rise, and Philbrick portrays the commander in chief as one whose greatest attribute was an "extraordinary ability to learn and improve amid...challenging circumstances."

In the following excerpt, we enter the story in July of 1780 as Arnold, along with his wife Peggy, hatched their plan. Working with John André, a young British officer, Arnold would surrender West Point to the British. The only catch, Arnold had to secure the position as commander of West Point first.

Read more.

UE Loyalist Certificates Issued in July

A list of UE Certificates issued since late in 2012 – showing the Loyalist ancestor, name of descendant (when permission is granted), branch and date – has been updated with the certificates issued in June of this year. The same updates have been applied to the Loyalist Directory.

War of 1812: Lemuel Scott, Prisoner of War

The missive below was written by my father. W.H. Hunt. Lemuel Scott, son of Loyalist Daniel Scott was my great, great, great grandfather. The facts have not changed since 1937, although I do not know what he was writing about or to which historical society in the Eastern townships.

The book is Birthrights: A Genealogical Record of Canadian Branches of Hunt, Scott, Ives and Farwell Families -- 1957 -- with its research starting on 1920, published in 1957 and updated in 1978. One copy is available on Amazon and the book is also digitally available at Family Search.

Your letter dated 13th February, 1937 is still on my files with a copy of the Historical Society's pamphlet. Your letter indicated that you have prepared a manuscript on the Schufelts out in these parts too, who I am sure would appreciate a copy. I would like to obtain a copy myself, for one reason, namely that one of the Shufelt boys - Jacob was shut up in a barn at Burlington, Vermont, with my great-grandfather Lemuel Scott. They were prisoners of the Americans, taken at St. Armand, at the time of an American raid on the 12th October 1813. The story is told that one day a dog was shut up with the men of the 4th Battalion of the Eastern Townships, made so much noise that one of the American sentries (in typical Yankee style) fired his musket through the barn door, narrowly missing Private Schufelt person.

NOTE: Submitted by Margaret Carter UE, Manitoba Branch who indicates:

During the spell of imprisonment, Lemuel Scott's wife, (nee Keziah Martin), and Lemuel's youngest brother Pliney, rode on horseback from their home in Burlington, in order to visit him. She carried her baby, Roxana, born the 12 March 1813 in her arms.

NOTE: Submitted by Margaret Carter UE, Manitoba Branch who indicates:

After returning from the visit, his wife carded wool, spun yarn, wove cloth, and made a suit of clothes and an overcoat. Later, Keziah, and his mother (nee Lois Herd) with a young French lad as driver, drove a sled, with a box for a body, using bed quilts for robes, drove from their home to Burlington with meat and clothing. The food was especially appreciated, as the Township boys were existing on dry bread and water with an occasional taste of maggoty meat.

NOTE: Submitted by Margaret Carter UE, Manitoba Branch who indicates:

[Submitted by Margaret Carter, UE, Manitoba Branch]

Where in the World?

Where are Rod Craig, Sandra Easton and Bev Craig of Col John Butler (Niagara) 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 your submission to the editor at

Region and Branch Bits

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

  • Where there is a will, there is a way. Be creative. Marie Ablett UE did that and created "a UEL flag for my car window!" So In Kelowna BC, I have silver car --one of many-- so the Canada Flag and UEL flag in combination make it easier to find my own silver car! I get asked why I'm displaying a Union Jack, that gives me a chance a chance to tell them about the UEL Loyalist flag, and the Loyalists of course! I also have the UEL licence plate holder on the front of my car!

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Fashion: A cheery sack back gown c.1770-75, striped French silk.
  • The letters from Loyalist Byles family between Boston & Halifax -- fascinating (portrait - check the haircut on this Dude). Goodness gracious, I am getting a sense of them through their letters! I wonder about the interior of the house. As I recall, the exterior went unpainted for many years in the early 1800s, becoming a South End landmark. His daughters who stayed in Boston were real characters.  The house was originally the Hollis St. Meeting's parsonage, but the congregation couldn't dislodge the sisters. [These twitter exchanges suggest there is quite an interesting story here.]
  • Curly Fries - A 190-Year Old Recipe! We recently discovered a nearly 200-year old recipe for what appears to be "curly fries"! This recipe comes from Mary Randolph's early 19th century cookbook, "The Virginia Housewife." This is easily one of the tastiest dishes we've prepared, and it is so simple. You have to try it!

Last Post: Hazel "Eleanor" Philip (Brown), UE

September 30, 1930 - August 3, 2016 Predeceased by her cherished parents Elizabeth Jane (nee Pillar) Brown (1930) and Gerald Reginald Brown U.E. (1990), and step-mother Jessie Murray Manson (nee Cowan) Brown (2006). Survived by her son Gerald "Gerry", half-sisters Jo Ann Graham (Stan), Jessie E. Gall (Bill) and Geraldine R. Wilson (Bill, predeceased 2013). Member of the Governor Simcoe Branch UEL Toronto. Eleanor received her Loyalist Certificate as a descendant of David Palmer in 1988.

Retired from Bell Canada, Toronto in 1994. At Eleanor's request there will be no public visitation and no funeral service. Interment Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto. Sincere appreciation to Dr. Sidney Nusinowitz and Mount Sinai Hospital Staff and to the staff at Castleview Wychwood Long Term Care Facility.


Black Loyalists and Slaves in Toronto

Nancy Mallet is the Archivist at St. James Cathedral in Toronto which has a rich history of connections with the Black Community in the city dating back to 1802. Some of those connections are known to be Black Loyalists; others were slaves of loyalists when the site was initially founded as the capital of Upper Canada in 1793.

Can someone help Nancy to locate any listings or case studies of families that came on to Toronto? St. James is in the midst of preparing a special exhibit of the connections to the Cathedral to mark Black History Month 2017 and would welcome any input or suggestions you may have. Contact Nancy at

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