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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2020 Archive

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“Loyalist Trails” 2020-08: February 23, 2020

Articles

Daniel Bliss: Epitaph Writer (Part One)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

If a coat of arms were to be made for Daniel Bliss based upon his experiences as a Loyalist, it would contain a number of interesting images. Heraldic emblems such as a scale of justice, an open barrel, a judge's gavel and a black tombstone would be arranged on a shield with a crack drawn down its centre. And while each emblem would tell part of the story of Daniel Bliss' life, it is the black tombstone that has the greatest significance.

Daniel Bliss was born into a family that his neighbours would later define as "royalist". His father was the Rev. Samuel Bliss, the minister at the Anglican Church in Concord, Massachusetts. When he was 20 years old, Daniel received his degree from Harvard in 1760. Within five years, he was admitted to the bar of Worcester County and then established a law practice in Rutland, just outside of Concord, Massachusetts.

In March of 1765, he married his 18 year-old sweetheart, Isabella Murray. She was the daughter of Col. John Murray, an Irishman who had served as an officer in the British army. As well as being a prominent citizen of Rutland, Murray was a "firm and outspoken supporter of the royal cause". Both Daniel Bliss' father and father-in-law were staunch Loyalists, so – as the historian George Tolman put it – the young lawyer was attracted "to the side of established law and settled institutions".

Tolman also noted that Bliss was "a man of fine presence, and engaging, though somewhat aristocratic manners; brilliant and witty in conversation, and a powerful public speaker; a fine scholar, a clear and logical thinker, a sound lawyer, an eloquent pleader, and a man of spotless integrity."

Seven years after their wedding, Daniel and Isabella bought a house on Walden Street in the centre of Concord. His law practice continued to grow, and his clientele ranged from freed slaves to prominent citizens. Sometimes his duties included writing epitaphs as well as drawing up wills for those who sought his services. Bliss' skill as an epitaph writer eventually won him more fame than anything he did during and after the American Revolution.

As Bliss' reputation as a lawyer grew in the early 1770s, rebel sentiment continued to increase in Concord. Following the destruction of British imports during the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament enacted the punitive Boston Port Bill. Coming into effect in June of 1774, the bill closed Boston's port to all shipping, made Salem the colonial capital, and declared that henceforth Marblehead would be the colony's port of entry. The Royal Navy patrolled the mouth of Boston harbour to enforce the boycott. While this was unpopular with many colonists, British politicians promised that the punitive measure would come to an end as soon as the city paid for the losses of the Boston Tea Party.

The citizens of Concord, Massachusetts had a "convention" at their meetinghouse in December of 1774 to discuss the Boston Port Bill. Daniel Bliss spoke at the meeting. He had been one of the legal advisors for Thomas Hutchinson, the last royalist governor of Massachusetts, and was also among those who had signed an address to Hutchinson in May of 1774. The "address" commended the governor and assured him of the signatories' "sincere respect and esteem". There was no mistaking that Bliss was a firm and principled Loyalist.

Surrounded as he was by Patriots, Bliss gave a speech to his fellow citizens that denounced the ideas and actions of those involved in the Boston Tea Party. Eloquent and personally popular, Bliss made a convincing argument. "At its close the hearts of the whole assembly sank in discouragement, so powerfully had he portrayed the apparent hopelessness of the struggle between the weakness of the provincials and the mighty power of Britain, then mistress of the world."

Bliss might have persuaded his townsfolk to side with the British except for the fact that a young Patriot got to his feet and made such a passionate speech that the crowd was once again prepared to take up arms against the British.

The December meeting was Bliss' last public appearance. His attempt to change the convictions of the people of Concord only served to mark him as a despised Loyalist. His neighbours would be watching him, and in March of the following year, they caught Bliss actively supporting efforts to quell the growing rebellion.

On March 20, 1775, two British officers visited the Bliss home on a reconnaissance mission to ascertain how much artillery and provisions the rebels of Concord had on hand. The location of the Bliss home made it the perfect vantage point to see what the local Patriots were doing, whether it was the mill that supplied flour to rebels, the storehouse that served as a Patriot armory or the saddle shop that produced cartridge boxes for the town's militia.

But as the Bliss house was in the centre of Concord, it was also easily observed by those hostile to the British. The local Patriots charged Bliss with harboring spies and threatened to kill him and the two officers. Late at night, Bliss snuck out of his home with his two guests and led them to safety. It would be the last that Bliss would see of Concord. In the weeks that followed, he had his brother Samuel – also a Loyalist – see to bringing Isabella, their children, and personal possessions to sanctuary in Boston.

Within four weeks' time, the British marched on Lexington and Concord to seize the military supplies that their spies had discovered while staying with Daniel Bliss. The subsequent battles between the British forces and the local militia were the first to be fought in the American Revolution.

Those opening shots in "an unnatural rebellion" not only divided Americans and British, they also separated families. As has been said, Daniel and his brother Samuel sided with the Loyalists; their brothers Thomas and Joseph joined the Patriot army. Thomas Bliss was once quoted as saying that he would fight against the British "in blood up to his knees". He became a prisoner of war in the early years of the revolution and was not released until the British forces had evacuated New York City. Joseph Bliss had been a bookstore clerk in Boston until he followed his employer, Washington's chief of artillery, onto the battlefield. By the end of the war, he had risen in the ranks to become a captain.

Samuel Bliss became a lieutenant in the British army, served with distinction, rose to the rank of captain, and then settled in New Brunswick with other Loyalist refugees. Daniel Bliss also joined the British army after he fled from the wrath of Concord's Patriots.

The rest of his story will be told in next week's Loyalist Trails.


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

The Vineland Mennonite Burial Ground

By Stephanie Bellissimo, M.A.

In Oct 2019, I gave tours of the Vineland Mennonite Burial Ground as part of Doors Open Lincoln. Established in 1798 on the Moyer Farm, it was the earliest major burial ground of Mennonite settlers from Pennsylvania who came north from Bucks County after the American Revolution. Given its age and the survival of many of the oldest stones, it's an excellent site for reading stories in stone of early Upper Canadian history.

The Mennonites often came for two reasons. One was that land in Pennsylvania had already become scarce, leading many farmers to seek larger tracts for cheaper prices in the newly established Upper Canada. The second and more important reason related to their religious beliefs. As pacifists who aimed to live according to the teachings of Jesus, many were afraid of religious persecution or being conscripted into the colonial militia in the new United States. Most came seeking a comfortable and peaceful life near "The Twenty" mile creek and surrounding area.

Another interesting feature of the site is that not all of the people buried there were Mennonites. In fact, just a row over from Mennonite pacifists lie John Claus and his wife Mary, United Empire Loyalists who came over as part of a group that included Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant. Unlike the Mennonites, who came from Pennsylvania, Claus and Brant came from Tryon County, New York, after fighting with Butler's Rangers (in Brant's case commanding his own warriors as a British ally), a fierce unit that fought guerrilla-style warfare and terrorized the New York countryside in support of the British Crown. The Claus stones are some of the earliest that have survived.

Read more.

JAR: Plight of the Loyalist Refugees of Lloyd's Neck, Long Island

By David M. Griffin, 20 February 2020

Queens County of Long Island, New York, had an overwhelming Loyalist population throughout the Revolutionary War period. After the war many Loyalists remained on the island and assimilated into the local population. It is estimated that a large majority of Long Islanders who were loyal and stayed in the United States after the war lost the right to vote due to the punitive measures of the Act of Disenfranchisement of 1784. The number of citizens affected, estimated at ninety percent of the population, hints at the size of this wartime loyal faction on Long Island. It is no wonder why British-occupied Long Island between 1776 and 1783 became a haven for displaced Loyalists. The largest of these refugee posts was known as Lloyd's Neck. We know much about the eventual fate and relocation of the Loyalists to Canada at war's end, but the personal stories of wartime Loyalist refugees give us much insight into the challenges and unfortunate circumstances of their wartime survival and the importance of their asylum on Long Island.

During the 1770s hundreds of loyal citizens of the county of Fairfield and other towns along the coast of southern Connecticut were forced out of their homes due to rebel sympathies in their communities. The Rev. John Sayre, a missionary at Fairfield, Connecticut, wrote of the hardships endured by the Loyalists at the hands of the contending parties.

Read more.

JAR: General Isaac Gregory's Fictitious Treason

By Michael Cecere, 18 February 2020

Col. Josiah Parker of Virginia was at a loss at what to do. He had just arrived outside the British outpost at Great Bridge in early March 1781 with 300 Virginia militia hoping to take the enemy garrison of 120 men, but upon an inspection of the works he determined that an assault would be "too dangerous, and would be attended with no views of success."1 His disappointment at this realization was not what troubled Colonel Parker, however. While he inspected the enemy works, he had noticed a gun-boat making its way downriver from the fort and ordered a party of his militia to attack it. They successfully did so, sinking the craft and capturing its occupants and most of their baggage.2 Although he was not aboard the gunboat, Capt. Francis Stevenson of the Queen's Rangers had sent his baggage, including a number of letters, with the vessel. It was the contents of two of these letters that alarmed Colonel Parker.

Read more.

Riot at the Richardson House, Boston, Five years before the War

By J.L. Bell 22 February 2020

By 22 Feb 1770, 250 years ago today, the anonymous informant reporting events in Boston to Customs Collector Joseph Harrison judged that the Sons of Liberty had "seemed greatly to gain ground" over the previous week.

One piece of evidence was that "a subscription was sett on foot amongst the females in town to discontinue to Drinking of Tea." The newspapers also featured a spinning meeting in the North End. (I'll get back to that.) On the night of 21 February, another anonymous letter said, someone "besmeared...the Importers windows with feathers & tar & feathers."

In another sign of Whig strength, on 22 February the boys doubled their picket lines enforcing non-importation. According to the letter to Harrison: "The Exhibition at [William] Jacksons [was] the same as Last week – there was likewise an Exhibition at Theopiluis Lillie." Jackson's Brazen Head hardware store was in the center of town, but Lillie's dry-goods shop was up in the North End on Middle Street (now Hanover Street).

Read more.

Washington's Quill: My Experience with The Situation Room at Mount Vernon

By Dana Stefanelli, 21 February 2020

One of the most fun projects I have contributed to since coming to work at Mount Vernon as the in-house Washington Papers editor was the creation of The Situation Room Experience, an interactive game that requires users to assume the role of historical actors during George Washington's presidency. A few presidential library sites have developed Situation Room scenarios as a tool to educate visitors and enliven their learning experiences. Mount Vernon's version focuses on the neutrality crisis of 1792-93, often called The Citizen Genet Affair, after the French minister, Edmond Charles Genet, who tried to pressure the U.S. into supporting revolutionary France's wars against Great Britain and the monarchies of Europe.

Players get tablet computers that first brief them on historical context and the biography of their character, and then inform them of the events that unfold and decisions they must make as the game is played.

Each person is tasked with achieving the diplomatic and policy goals of the historical figure they portray. Along the way, events arise that complicate or facilitate these aims.

Read more.

Gossip, Sex and Redcoats: On the Build-Up to the Boston Massacre

By Serena Zabin, 20 February 2020

While his comrades in the Twenty-Ninth Regiment were camping on the Boston Common or meeting their new neighbors, Private William Clark was spending his time with literature: his own. Two months after his arrival in Boston, Clark announced that his play, The Miser. Or The Soldier's Humour. A Comedy of Three Acts, was available for purchase by subscription...

Private William Clark seemed to have a flair for drama off the page as well. In May 1769, he had a shouting match with the Boston watch. When stopped on the street, he threatened to burn down the town workhouse and all of Boston with it. As the watchman arrested him and brought him to the local lockup, Clark swore he'd have his revenge on the entire town.

It took Clark only a month to stage an even more melodramatic scene with Boston locals. One June day in 1769, 75-year-old Joseph Lasenby was shocked, upon entering his married daughter's house, to find Clark in bed with his 20-year-old granddaughter, Mary Nowell. The elderly Son of Liberty ordered Clark out of the house, but the insouciant soldier declined to leave. He had every right to sleep with Mary, Clark asserted. After all, she was his wife, he told the astonished old man, and he was going nowhere without her.

Read more.

Catching Up On Kelly Arlene Grant's Projects

Kelly Arlene Grant, 19 February 2020

I spent Christmas break knitting tuques for folks, got quite a few of those sent out. I was able to use some lovely hand-dyed Nova Scotia yarn from my sister in law to make up two of them. A grey monmouth for Andrew Kirk down in the southern States, and a lovely blue monmouth for Matt Zembo just north of Albany. I currently have a red French cap on the needles for Joseph Hayden out on the western frontier that I am trying out a new-to-me style of hemming that is more historically accurate than the purl row. I got yet another French cap made up for mon beau frere who fixed my computer, and knit up this modern take on the dutch sailors cap for my friend Lacey in New Brunswick.

Read more.

An Irish-Stitch Wallet, 1776, with a Revolutionary Past

By Susan Holloway Scott, 14 February 2020

Whoever made this brilliantly-colored wallet for a prosperous Pennsylvania farmer took care to stitch his name, John Pawlings, into the pattern of the back. Likely the work of a woman in the Pawlings family – a wife, mother, daughter, or sister – the personalization would have also added a touch of security; there'd be no doubt as to the owner of the wallet. But when she also embroidered the date she'd completed her needlework – 1776 – she'd have had no idea of how significant that date would become over time, or how the American Revolution that is synonymous with that year would soon invade her family's home.

After the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, Commander-in-Chief Gen. George Washington and the Continental Army settled at a strategic location outside of Philadelphia for their winter encampment...

The few houses scattered about the area became headquarters for various senior officers, their staffs, and military departments. The house and property of James Pawlings, across the river, became headquarters for the army's commissary department...

The wallet is worked in wool thread in Irish stitch, the distinctive stitch's most popular name in 18thc America; in other places and eras, it has also been called Bargello work, Florentine work, or flame stitch. The threads of the linen backing cloth or canvas are counted to keep each stitch consistent within the geometric pattern, while the stitches themselves are worked closely together to create a dense, substantial surface that completely covers the canvas.

Read more.

Exploring the Black Canadian Legacy through Heritage Places

National Trust for Canada

February is Black History Month and this presents an extraordinary opportunity to explore the legacy of Black Canadians through heritage places, from coast to coast to coast. Many of the stories that visitors will find embedded in these places will challenge the way we see Canada and understand its past.

The Black Loyalist Heritage Centre, for example, in Birchtown, Nova Scotia – with its historic schoolhouse (1829) and extensive museum – tells the story of the 1,500 Black Loyalists who settled there between 1783-85. While poor land and discrimination pushed half of the settlers to leave for Sierra Leone in the 1790s, the rest stayed and established a thriving community.

Read more about Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site; Saint-Armand, Quebec; Eldon, Saskatchewan; Amber Valley, Alberta; Hogan's Alley in Vancouver's East End and Halifax's Africville.

Ashley Harper Receives Lieutenant Governor's Heritage Award

St Lawrence Branch UELAC is pleased to announce that Ashley Harper, one of our branch directors, has received a prestigious provincial award and scholarship for her work in the heritage field.

On February 20, 2020, in a ceremony in the Legislative Building at Queen's Park, Toronto, Ashley was honoured with the "Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement" and the "Young Heritage Leaders Scholarship." The scholarship is valued at $3,500 and was sponsored by Canada Life.

Ashley hails from Winchester, Ontario. She has been a director of the St. Lawrence Branch – one of the youngest in the history of our organization – since 2018. She is also president of the Chesterville and District Historical Society. Ashley is a graduate of North Dundas District High School and is now studying history at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Read more, with photos.

Region and Branch Bits

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

Gov. Simcoe Branch: March 4

"Heraldry, Its history Myths and use today in Canada" by Captain Jason Charles Burgoin, CD, FSA Scot, President, Royal Heraldry Society of Canada, Toronto Branch. Heraldry concerns itself with the study, design, regulation and use of armorial bearings, commonly known as "coats of arms".

Read more.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Colour postcard "Old Firth House built 1785; it was in this house that Gov. Parr named Shelburne, N.S." The house was demolished in 1920's. Brian McConnell UE
  • This Week in History
  • Townsend's
  •  Clothing and Related:
    • All Things Georgian: Georgian 'Bling'. How many of us can honestly say that we don't feel good when wearing a beautiful piece of jewellery. The Georgians were no different, the bolder the better in many cases. So we thought we would take a look at the 'bling' of the day. There were certain items of jewellery that were designated for certain times of the day. Day wear would consist of a necklace, small understated rings and the most important item which arguably would still be useful today – the chatelaine or chain, known as 'equipage' until the 1830's, as shown below which would be attached to the waist of the dress. Read more...
    • This week's Friday Frills is this 1760s robe a la francaise. It was made at Spitalfields during the height of their renown. This dress is made out of three kinds of gold threads and 11 differed colored silk threads to create gorgeous floral patterns.
    • A stunner for SackBackSaturday Delicious brocaded silk, French c1775. Check out the gorgeous pattern matching across the boxpleats (aka watteaupleats)
    • 18th Century casaquin or jacket, cut like a dress but came only to the hip. Usually the skirt was of a contrasting material or colour & ended at the ankles.This is an elaborate example of the style, which enjoyed great popularity in Italy. c.1785
    • 18th Century women's riding coats, 2 examples showing this fashion for masculine tailoring worn for a women's practical wardrobe, c.1775
    • 18th Century embroidered panels for a man's suit, c.1780's The multiple pieces; cuffs, collar, & front panels (inc. pocket flaps, vents, & buttons) & knee bands for breeches, represent a suit ready to be cut & sewn to the client's measurements.
    • Detail of 18th Century men's 3 piece Court Suit, exquisite silk embroidery, French, c.1780
    • 18th Century waistcoat, a fabulous favourite – silk embroidered with various fishes, 1780's -1790's
    • Perfect for any royal outing the justaucorps is a long sleeve, knee-length men's coat. Made out of silk, wool, or velvet and brocade materials, the coats and their full cuffs communicated wealth and luxury. Read more...
  • Miscellaneous:

Last Post: Patrick Galt, UE

Monday, March 17th, 1930 – Wednesday, February 5th, 2020. Gone home on February 5th, 2020 just shy of his 90th birthday. Beloved husband of Elizabeth Anne (Mills), father of Michael (Judith) of Kitchener, Margaret Connor (James) of Bath, Anna Schlieper (Mark) of Kanata. Proud grandfather of Robert and Andrew Galt, Luke and Ryan Schlieper. Predeceased by parents Robert John Galt and Laura Emma File and by his siblings Everett, Maurice and Marguerite (Ellis).

Pat lived his entire life on the family farm in South Fredericksburgh Township where he was born on St. Patricks Day 1930. He farmed dairy and poultry until his semi-retirement and proudly continued growing crops into his 86th year. Always interested in some version of politics, Pat served as a South Fredericksburgh councillor for over 20 years. He volunteered with Napanee SOS as a driver during his retirement years. He loved local history and was for many years involved in both The United Empire Loyalist Association and the South Fredericksburgh Heritage Committee. His absolute passion, however, was flying airplanes. In his younger years, he flew Harvard aircraft in the Naval Reserve as a member of Squadron VC 921 HMCS Cataraqui Kingston and attained the rank of flight lieutenant.

Pat will be remembered by those who knew him well as hardworking and as always up for a challenge and an adventure.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Wartman Funeral Home – Napanee Chapel and in keeping with the wishes of Pat's family, there will be a private family service held at a later date. Memorial donations can be made by cheque or credit card to Lennox & Addington County General Hospital Foundation or to Ontario SPCA of Lennox & Addington. On-line condolences at www.wartmanfuneralhomes.com.

Pat Galt was a director on the executive of the Bay of Quinte Branch UELAC for several years. He was a charter year member, and received a 50-year certificate from the branch during its 50th Anniversary in 2006. He was a descendant of loyalists Jacob Smith Sr., Lambert VanAlstine and Joseph Jenkes.

Pat completed and submitted an application to join the branch as a charter year member. Page one of the application form notes that a "Fee of Two Dollars must accompany application" – it is not clear if that is a"joining" fee, or an annual "membership" fee.

...Brian Tackaberry

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