Connect with us online:

Ontario Loyalist Licence Plates
Make a donation and help preserve Loyalist history
Make a donation and help
preserve Loyalist history

Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2011 Archive

Previous Issue   |   Index   |   Next Issue

"Loyalist Trails" 2011-21: May 29, 2011

Articles

The Tragedy and Triumph of Christina Merkley: Chapter One -- © Stephen Davidson

Just days after her death in mid-January of 1856, Mrs. Jacob Ross was laid to rest in the community burial ground. Gathered around her grave on that day were her four children and their spouses: Catharine and Jacob Hollister, Elizabeth and Adam Loucks, Margaret and Nicholas Ault, and her oldest son, Michael Ross. As the loyalist widow had requested, her children made sure that her prayer book and German Bible had been placed next to her in the coffin. A long and remarkable life had come to an end.

During the course of the funeral, the officiating clergyman may have recounted some of Mrs. Ross' story. He may have pointed out that the 92 year-old widow was one of the last of the original loyalist settlers who had been given land in Osnabruck Township. He could have told how Christina and her late husband, Jacob Ross, had, for the past seventy years, raised their family along the shores of St. Lawrence River. But unless Christina Ross had unburdened herself to the minister before her death, no one at the funeral except her four children would have known the tragic series of events that had brought the loyalist woman to Canada 75 years earlier.

As a teenager, Christina had watched patriots imprison her older brother for his loyalist convictions and later witnessed the murder of her father and cousin. She had seen her family's home set afire and had heard the cries of her younger brother as he was scalped. Along with her sister, Christina had been forced to walk six hundred miles through the woods. Had a loyalist not taken the sisters into his home as servants, they might have spent their lives as slaves to a Native tribe. Most tragic of all was the fact that the loyalist soldiers who brought all this grief upon Christina's family had been under the false assumption that they were attacking a patriot household.

With the careful piecing together family memories and records from both loyalist and patriot sources, the story of Christina Merkley and her family can now be told. The "friendly fire" deaths of the Merkleys illustrate the viciousness of the American Revolution, a conflict that was more a vindictive civil war between colonists than a rebellion against a distant king.

Mrs. Jacob Ross was born on February 5, 1764 as Christina Merkley, the 14th child of Michael Merkley and Margarethe Haas. Her parents were both natives of Hoheneck, Wurttemberg, where they had nine children before sailing to America. The Merkleys emigrated to the Thirteen Colonies along with Michael's brothers, Christopher and Frederick, sometime in the 1750s. After settling along the Schoharie River in New York's Tryon County, the Merkleys had 8 more children, including Christina.

(The spelling of family names in the documents of the period varies tremendously. When she was christened at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, the Merkley's 14th child was given the name Christianne. Her surname has at least 12 different spellings.)

The territory encompassing the Mohawk River and its tributaries had become known as the breadbasket of the colonies, its farmers among the most prosperous in New York. By the 1770s, Michael Merkley had become one of the leading men of New Dorlach, a community along the Schoharie River founded by German Palatine immigrants. Besides his brothers, Merkley's neighbours included the families of Bastian France, William Spurnhuyer, William Hynds, and Philip Crysler.

Despite their distance from Boston, Lexington, and Concord, the German settlers of the Schoharie River found themselves forced to take sides in the growing rebellion. In 1777, Christina Merkley's older brother, Henry, was the first family member to suffer the consequences of being a loyal American.

While he was harvesting crops on the family's farm, 20 year-old Henry Merkley was approached by John Young and his father. Both patriots were carrying muskets. As soon as he determined that Merkley was a loyalist, John Young shot his neighbour in the side. Rather than reloading his musket, Young was about to kill Merkley with the butt of his weapon, but his father intervened. Instead, the Youngs dragged Merkley to the local jail. When his wounds healed, Henry escaped his cell and fled to Niagara.

Although he would eventually be reunited with two of his sisters, Merkley would never see his parents again. He enlisted in the King's Royal Regiment of New York. After being wounded in action, Henry was imprisoned for three years. At the disbandment of the King's Royal Regiment, Henry Merkley settled in Williamsburg (Ontario) where he returned to farming.

The absence of Henry was not the only loss suffered by the Merkley family. Christina's mother died in the summer of 1778. Just 14 years old, Christina now had to take on many of her mother's responsibilities. Sister Anne Eve, two years her junior, would have to help as well. Meanwhile, families and friends in New Dorlach continued to divide along political lines. Uncle Christopher, who had died in 1772, raised his sons Henry and Jacob to be loyal to George III. Uncle Frederick, however, sided with the patriot cause as did his son John. This checkered pattern of loyalty and rebellion was typical for settlers living along the Schoharie River. All it would take was a single spark to set off a powder keg of death and destruction.

The Tragedy and Triumph of Christina Merkley will continue in next week's Loyalist Trails.


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

Vancouver Branch's Simon Fraser Day Outreach: A Retrospective

In May 2002, happenstance provided the UELAC Vancouver Branch with an opportunity to participate in what has since become a local annual Outreach event in the month of May. Our then Vancouver Branch president, Doug Jackson, had invited Archie Miller, a noted New Westminster historian, to be the guest speaker at our May meeting. Mr. Miller had for some years been conducting an annual birthday celebration for Simon Fraser on the Saturday of the Victoria Day weekend. We were invited to join the crowd that day. It was then decided to make this an annual Outreach event; especially as it we knew that Simon Fraser was himself the son of a Loyalist!

The following year (2003) a surprise was in store for us: the New Westminster Business Improvement Association began sponsoring what has since become known as "Multicultural Day". Thus we found ourselves situated amongst a variety of other cultural venues. We arranged to have our table display right next to the bust monument of Simon Fraser, on the Quay-side, overlooking the river which bears his name. Since then we have been able to hold that prime location! (photo: Mary Anne Bethune, UE; Audrey Viken, UE; and Shirley Dargatz, UE)

In 2004 I was asked by Doug Jackson to accompany him to the organizing sessions for the Multicultural Day event. A local community newspaper representative said that some small-sized free advertising spaces were available in the paper's four-page promotional insert - just enough room to accommodate a group's 'home' country flag and a brief representative statement. For our Loyalist representation I came up with a three line slogan: "United Empire Loyalists" - "Canada's first Multicultural Society" - "Promoting Canadian History!" This was accompanied by on image of the Loyalist Flag. In following years our ad spot used an image of a uniformed Loyalist soldier and suitable accompanying text.

In 2007 I had a videotaped conversation with a lady from Mexico - a journalist, perhaps? In 2009 some of our members gave videotaped statements regarding their Loyalist ancestry to a lady working for the local OMNI - TV multicultural station. (Photo: OMNI TV conducting interview with Audrey Viken, UE)

Each year our Outreach event has given our members, along with some from Chilliwack Branch, an opportunity to explain to the curious what it is that we represent. (photo: Some visitors to our display (centre) learn something of Loyalist history).

Our presence there has sometimes led to new members joining the Association. In 2007, Gwen Dumfries, Vancouver Branch's current Membership Chairperson and Treasurer, joined the branch upon visiting our display.

This year one lady mentioned having Loyalist ancestry. She took an information pamphlet, and, hopefully, will make further contact with us. Also, one lady asking for information mentioned that she is a Schoolteacher. She also took an information pamphlet. She may well have her students visit the UELAC website.

In addition to providing visitors to our display with a brief history lesson, there is also an opportunity for them to have a photo-op session with one or more of our members who are wearing period clothing. Occasionally tourists from other countries visit with us; but whether local or from elsewhere, those most fascinated by our clothing are the kids. Photo.

One might say that we are, in a way, at-home Ambassadors of our own country!

...Marvin Millis UE (Vancouver Branch Newsletter Committee)

Johnson Hall Hosts 18th Century Market Fair June 11, 12

Johnson Hall State Historic Site in Johnstown will host an 18TH CENTURY MARKET FAIR on Saturday, June 11 and Sunday, June 12, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. both days. There will be an evening contra dance on the lawn at 8 p.m. on Saturday. This is an event first established by Sir William Johnson in 1772.

Entertainment throughout both days will include magic by Robert Olson performing as the 18th century magician "Mr. Bayly;" period music by Liaisons Plaisantes; a Punch and Judy Show by the Punchbowl Sisters, period games for children [and adults!] led by Shari Crawford; and a new treat - scenes from the 18th century play "The Beaux Stratagem" led by Bernadette Weaver. There will be sutlers [vendors] from the period and re-enactors with domestic encampments.

Parking will be available at the Johnstown High School with shuttles to Johnson Hall.

...Heidi Meka, Friends of Johnson Hall

Moore Family Reunion Sat. 25 June 2011, Norwich, Ont

A reunion of the descendants of Samuel Moore of MA and NJ, born 1630, and his great-grandson, Samuel Moore of NJ, born 1742 will be held at the Norwich & District Museum and Archives on Saturday, 25 June 2011, gathering at 11:00, potluck lunch and an afternoon program.

Details may be found here.

Who was Samuel Moore, b.1742?

Samuel Moore was a Quaker who lived in New Jersey at the time of the American Revolution. He was imprisoned more than once for not taking part with the rebels and in June of 1777 he left his estate and went with the British army to New York. In August, the American government ordered his family out of the house, putting his wife and children on a wagon and sending them to the British lines at Amboy. His entire stock and all his possessions were sold by the government of the United States at a public sale and, a year later, his farm was sold.

He remained on Long Island under the protection of the British with many other Loyalists who were in similar circumstances. Two of his children were born there. Eventually, he was compensated partially for his losses by the Crown and, in 1783, Samuel moved with his family to Annapolis County, Nova Scotia and began to accumulate land there. By 1809, 26 years later and at the age of 67, he started to sell his properties in Nova Scotia and began to buy land in Upper Canada (Ontario). Some of his children soon moved there.

He made many extended trips to New Jersey during this period and, in 1813, his wife Elizabeth died there. He moved permanently to Norwich, Upper Canada with many of his children living nearby in Elgin County and Norfolk County and owned 2000 acres in the area until his death in 1822. He was buried in the Norwich Pioneer Cemetery, the Quaker burial ground, and it has been said that he may have been the first to be interred there.

His children's families remained in the vicinity, some becoming leaders in their communities and getting involved in the politics of the day. The Rebellion of 1837, led by the Reformers, who included many of Samuel's sons and grandsons, changed the nature of politics and the social order of Upper Canada and affected the lives of many of Samuel's descendants. Later, The families spread out, many returning to the United States.

In recent years, descendants of Samuel Moore have been reconnecting the various lines of the family through genealogical research and the Moore Family Reunions organized by Donna Moore of London, Ontario. We hope to continue to share the many stories of Samuel and his descendants and discover more as we increase the number of connections with our Moore family across North America.

Please let us know if you are coming to the reunion by contacting us via phone, e-mail or post. If you're not able to come, we hope you'll get in touch and let us know who you are.

...Donna Moore, London ON d.moore3@sympatico.ca

Survey: Mayflower Pilgrims and the United Empire Loyalists

On a recent trip to the Netherlands I had the opportunity to spend some time in Leiden. I was very interested to see the streets and buildings where the Pilgrims lived for eleven years before coming to the New World on the Mayflower (1620). The historical influence of the Pilgrims on New World history is far reaching. Nine American Presidents are direct descendants of the Leiden Pilgrims. This led to the question - Can many UELs claim similar lineage?

With your help I would like to research the Loyalist - Mayflower connection in order to write an article featuring the Mayflower link to the UELAC. Here is a quick and simple survey - 4 questions - to which we would appreciate your response.

Whether or not you have a Loyalist ancestor, or whether or not you have a Mayflower ancestor, please take a couple of minutes and answer the questions. When you submit the last answer, you will be shown a summary (follow the top links through the four pages; when finished, click "done" at the bottom) of the results of those who have taken the survey before you. A summary report of the survey results will be provided through Loyalist Trails later in June.

Thanks in advance for your participation. Take the survey here.

...Bonnie Schepers, UE, Central West Regional VP UELAC

Loyalist(?) Painting on the Auction Block

On Saturday May 28 of this Memorial Day weekend in the USA, there wass an auction of the personal property of Lambuth University, 705 Lambuth Boulevard, Jackson, Tennessee. The financial challenges which brought on the sale is outlined in an overview here.

A link from that page takes you to three pages of photos of items being auctioned, which include books, rugs, cabinets and desks, arts and crafts equipment, antiques, .. and paintings.

The first item listed is a painting, donated to the school by a German student who bought it in Boston, MA. It's large at 4 X 8ft. Information about the painting includes the date of 1776, the sitter Thomas Brown, artist Wm. McCullough of Glasgow Academy.

Consensus is that the work was done in America! There's at least one (probably two) double-barreled flintlock fowlers - if they were made in the British Isles, it was very early for the type. Of chief interest, however, is that the subject is quite probably Thomas "Burnfoot" Brown, the great Loyalist force in the South (Georgia/Augusta, etc.).

A copy of one of the photos of the painting (from the above group) is here.

...Dave Timpany

Book Review: Forge, by Leslie Halse Anderson

"We were escaped slaves, half froze and exhausted. We needed to warm ourselves, sleep, and eat. But above all, we had to stay hidden. The business of returning or selling runaways was profitable for both redcoats and rebels . . . This freedom could kill us." Within nine months of these comments, fifteen year old Curzon would be separated from his friend, Isabel, and find himself on the run from the Battle at Saratoga. Another chance encounter would lead to his enlistment with the 16th Massachusetts Regiment and the forced march to Valley Forge for the winter encampment of '77.

Leslie Halse Anderson's young adult novel Forge captures the privations and challenges of a young African -- American in the services of the Patriot army at one of the lowest points in its early history. While readers will appreciate the dramatic action, they will also gain a greater understanding of the life of a private in the American Revolution. Descriptions of the challenges of everyday life, including diet and personal hygiene for the enlisted, provide a great contrast to life as we know it today. While Forge is not about the Loyalist side of the conflict, it does successfully portray the same historic period.

Forge is the second novel in the Seeds of America trilogy which began with the 2009 Scott Odell Award for Historical Fiction winner, Chains. Since its release in 2010, Forge has become a Junior Library Guild Selection, a Kirkus Best Book for Teens: Historical Novels 2010, The Horn Book Fanfare List Best Book of 2010 and a YALSA 2011 Best Books for Young Adults. Details on Forge have been added to the UELAC Books for the Young at Heart document.

...FHH

Booklet: Billy Green and Balderdash -- A Presentation of the Facts

The Stoney Creek Historical Society has just published a 30 page booklet on the role of William (Billy the Scout) Green in the Battle of Stoney Creek which took place on the 6th of June, 1813. This battle is regarded as a turning point in the War of 1812 and Billy Green's role in that British victory has been examined in meticulous detail by the authors. There is no doubt that his name "Scout-Green", is rightly inscribed on the Battlefield Monument at Stoney Creek.

Written in reply to James Elliott's "Strange Fatality", Appendix 'A', which downplays and disputes the role of William Green in the War of 1812, this new booklet offers research that overturns Elliott's revisionist history.

Copies may be obtained from the Society for $4.00 including mailing within Canada. The Stoney Creek Historical Society's address is P.O. Box 66637, Stoney Creek, ON, L8G 5E6. Copies are also available at the Battle of Stoney Creek re-enactment June 4th and 5th, 2011.

...David Clark

Workshop: Period Clothing for the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812

An 1812 Costume/Period Clothing Workshop will be held on Saturday June 18th 2011 10a.m. - Noon at the Historic Niagara Artistic Exhibition Centre, 4323 Queen Street Niagara Falls. It will be presented by Costume Designer Pam Mundy

Seminar and Clinics $20 (Includes one 2-hour seminar plus two follow up clinics. Times and dates to be arranged). Clinics only ~ $10

- Do you want to make a costume and don't know where to start?

- You have started a costume but haven't finished it?

- You think you can't do it, it's going to cost a lot or you haven't a clue what they wore!

Then this workshop is for you!

Pam Mundy is a costume designer with over 30 years experience and has designed and constructed thousands of costumes. She will immerse you in the styles of the time, give recommendations on how to produce an outfit inexpensively and be there to help you through the construction process.

For reservations, Ph. Pam Mundy 905-227-5540 or 289-969-4229. Or e-mail pamcostumes@gmail.com or Dean Tedesco niagaragallery@hotmail.com

...Doris Lemon UE, Grand River Branch

The Tech Side: Computer Tool Kit – by Wayne Scott, UE

We all like free stuff. The sad fact is, we often get what we pay for -- well sometimes. In previous articles, I have talked about Open Source programs such as Open Office, Gimp, etc. They are full featured programs that are being constantly upgraded by their development teams. When it comes to smaller programs that do specific jobs, some are not so good, some are worth looking at.

In my computer tool kit I have a program called Roboform. This is a commercial program that has a limited use free version. I have used Roboform for over 10 years. It is a state of the art password safe. I have stored dozens of passwords in my Roboform data base and need only remember 1 phrase to unlock the encrypted logins and passwords. There is a comparison of Roboform versions here. This product has a new "cloud" version with a yearly subscription feature. I should note that the free version will allow you to save only 10 logins and passwords, just enough to whet your appetite.

Another program that I have used for years is called Spybot Search and Destroy. This program will search through your computer and detect malware, spybots and Trojans (viruses). Once problems are detected, you are given the option to delete them.

A few years ago a very nasty virus infected computers of friends and relatives. When the computer owners tried to use programs such as Spybot, the virus wouldn't let the program run. An online screen popped up and told them that the only way to get rid of the problem was to purchase a special virus remover. The solution was simple. I renamed Spybot Search and Destroy to "FRED". When Fred was run, the virus didn't recognize the program name and allowed it to run. Fred found and deleted the virus. A computer shop would have charged $75.00 or so to do this. Did I mention that Spybot is a free download? Mac blogs tell me that there is no need to use this program on a Mac.

Another program that I use quite often just looks for the junk that piles up on computers and deletes it. Over time, registry errors happen and broken links occur. Advanced System Care cleans these up for me.. This program is also free. If you use it, do so at least once a week to keep your computer in good shape.

PDF files are quite popular these days. Because a PDF file is often smaller than the original file version, newsletters and large Word or Word Perfect documents are often converted to PDF before sharing across the internet. Another important feature is that it doesn't matter what operating system you have, with the Adobe Reader your computer can open the PDF file. Adobe PDF Reader is free. The Mac has a built in viewer.

If you are using a newer Microsoft Office or Word Perfect suite, a PDF distiller is built in. If there isn't a link on the top of the page to create a PDF from the document you are working on, go to the Print function, and where it asks you to select the printer, scroll down until the PDF printer is found. Some older versions of MS Office do not have this function. Possibly you are not using Microsoft or Corel word processors. In that case, to create a PDF version of the file you created, free PDF software is available from PDF995. In order to create a PDF, you will need a PDF Printer Driver, the PDF conversion software and if you want to edit or convert a PDF back into a Word document the PDF Edit software. All are available on the PDF995 website. It is important to mention that when using their products, an ad will pop up in your browser. I guess you have to ‘pay the piper' somehow.

The final program can be indispensible. How often have you received a document that can't open because the software isn't on your computer? Sometimes picture files come by email in unknown formats. Maybe a friend has sent a copy of their eBook and your reader will not display it. The free online service online-convert.com will let you convert many different types of files: audio, video, documents, pictures, archiving, etc. This site is a work in progress and their options for converting keeps growing. Looks Great! As an example, let's say you wanted to convert a Word Perfect file or an Open Office file to Microsoft Word. In the documents section of the website select "doc" then "GO". You will be asked to upload the file that is to be converted. The converted file should appear shortly. If the file you are attempting to convert is not supported by the website, this message will appear also.

If you have a particularly useful tool or utility program that you would like to share, let me know.

You can email Wayne Scott to get in touch with questions or comments.

Early Twentieth Century Sound Recordings

And now for 'something completely different'. I found this site: the Library of Congress National Jukebox: Historical Recordings from the Library of Congress. Wonderful historical sound recordings available to the public free of charge. It includes more than 10,000 recordings made by the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1901 and 1925. Great music and historical voice recordings that really take you back!

...Bonnie Schepers UE, Bicentennial Branch

Last Post: Mary Netta Brandon (nee Kingsmill) UE

Netta Brandon, an original member of London & Western Ontario Branch, passed away on May 23, 2011, after a brief illness with pneumonia. The funeral service was held at New St. James Presbyterian Church, London on Friday, May 27th. She is mourned by a daughter Katharine Brandon and a grand-daughter Gillian Brandon-Hart.

Arnold Nethercott UE, past Dominion President, spoke at the funeral of Netta's firm commitment to the UELAC and the many other organizations in which she participated. She graduated from University of Western Ontario in 1944 with a B.A. Netta was Branch President and attended Dominion executive meetings to represent the Branch.

She served as President of London Branch, Architectural Conservancy of Ontario; director of London and Middlesex Historical Society; chair of the Historic Sites Committee of the London Public Library; director and chair of finance for the Women's Christian Association; was 2nd President of the Parkwood Hospital Foundation and McCormick Home Foundation, and Women's Christian Association. Mrs. Brandon served as Senator for UWO, and was President of the University Women's Club. Netta was President of the Women's Missionary Society for her church.

For her many community activities, Netta was awarded the Queen's Jubilee Medal in 2002... She will be greatly missed.

...June Klassen UE, President, London and Western Ontario Branch UELAC

Back to Top   |   Loyalist Trails index   |   Subscribe Now