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Loyalist Trails UELAC Newsletter, 2020 Archive

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“Loyalist Trails” 2020-14: April 5, 2020

Articles

Prisoner of War, Refugee, and Returnee: The Story of Major John Kissam (Part 1)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

During the American Revolution, John Kissam faithfully served the crown -- and consequently lost his family's Long Island estate, spent time as a prisoner of war and then became a refugee who settled in the wilds of Nova Scotia. His story is interesting because despite all of the personal sacrifices he made for the British Empire, Kissam only stayed in Nova Scotia for two years. His biography is that of a Refugee Loyalist who returned to his home, ending his days on his beloved Long Island.

John was born on October 10, 1748, the oldest surviving son of Daniel and Peggy (Tredwell) Kissam. His extended family was a prominent one in North Hempstead, Long Island, New York. Daniel Kissam was a vestryman for the local Anglican Church, a justice of the peace, a judge of the court of common pleas for Queen's County, a member of the colonial assembly, and county treasurer as well as a "gentleman of property". In addition to growing up in a family noted for its contributions to the public good, John was surrounded by those who would later call themselves Loyalists.

However, loyalty to King George III did not mean that the Kissams approved of the many taxes that the mother country was levying on its American colonies. In 1774, John's father was a member of the local Committee of Correspondence, a body established to maintain contact between the various colonies as they formulated strategies to deal with the onerous taxes.

A year later, Daniel Kissam was among the fourteen who sent an "address" to General Gage in Boston assuring him of their loyalty in the wake of the battles at Lexington and Concord. When the names of those who signed the address became known to New York's Patriots, they became marked men, regarded as enemies of their homeland.

In January of 1776, the Continental Congress instructed Nathaniel Heard, a Connecticut tavern keeper, to go through Long Island's Queen's County and disarm its Loyalists. Twenty-eight year old John Kissam would have been among those who had their arms and ammunition seized. Heard's men also stole anything that took their fancy and compelled local Loyalists to house and feed them. When Heard's men left Queen's County, they were -- in the words of one historian---"loaded with the spoils of his Majesty's loyal subjects, carrying away with him a number of the principal inhabitants of the county as prisoners including Daniel Kissam."

After being taken to a series of areas under rebel control, Kissam and 16 fellow Loyalists spent several weeks in "a low, dirty tavern situated in a very unhealthy district and harassed by a drum constantly beating at their prison door."

In August, John's father was sent to Norwich, Connecticut "as being persons supposed not to be friendly to the United States of America". To avoid being put in the local jail for the duration of their sentence, Daniel Kissam and 16 other Loyalists swore that "upon the honor credit and faith of gentlemen, each of us, severally promise ...to faithfully abide in Norwich... {and} refrain from all correspondence with any persons unfriendly to these States." Kissam was finally released on parole after paying £500 to the Provincial Congress.

Given what would happen later in the revolution, Daniel's experience as a prisoner would be a precedent that John Kissam would find valuable.

Fortunately for the Long Island Loyalists, the British took control of Staten Island, Manhattan Island, and Long Island by early September of 1776. On October 21st, John Kissam, his father, and 1,291 other men from Queen's County signed a "petition and representation" delivered to Lord Viscount Howe and William Howe to express their gratitude "for restoring peace to his Majesty's Colonies in North America". The loyal inhabitants asked that they would "be restored to the King's most gracious protection" as they looked forward "to the time when the disobedient shall return to their duty, and the ravages of war cease to desolate this once flourishing country."

The security of Long Island, however, needed the support of the local Loyalists. On December 9, 1776, New York's governor, William Tryon made John Kissam a major in the Queen's County militia. Commanded by Gabriel G. Ludlow, this militia spent a lot of its time collecting forage (food and fuel) for the British forces stationed in New York City.

In addition to food stuffs, Major John Kissam also gathered intelligence that was of interest to the British. A series of letters written in April of 1781 indicate that Kissam assisted William Heron, a Loyalist spy based in Redding, Connecticut, convey information to General Clinton, the commander in chief of His Majesty's forces in America. Kissam was to see to it that Heron got through to Clinton under a flag of truce that was carried aboard a vessel crossing Long Island Sound to the British lines. Kissam also received orders to keep Heron in his home "or any other proper place" for two days until all of the necessary permissions for travel to New York City were granted.

Later in that same month, Kissam was ordered to guard prisoners that would be part of an exchange until such time as they were taken to Connecticut from Long Island. (Interestingly, the three letters cited here were kept by Kissam and survived for at least two more generations. They were last known to be in the possession of his granddaughter.) Within two month's time, John Kissam became a prisoner of war himself.

In June of 1781, 40 rebel privateers kidnapped John, his brother Benjamin, and two other Loyalists. Under the command of a Mr. Fitch, the Patriots landed at Cow's Neck on Long Island, and marched four miles to Flower Hill, the Kissam home. Following their surprise attack, they carried off the two Kissam brothers. John ended up in Connecticut, a colony where many of New York's Loyalists were imprisoned. A letter that John wrote to his father two months after his capture sheds light on the experience of Loyalist officers who became prisoners of war.

John was kept at the home of Captain Absalom Williams in the town of Wethesfield, just south of Hartford, Connecticut. As in the case of his father who was imprisoned in Connecticut five years earlier, Kissam was spared imprisonment because he had given his word of honour that he would not try to escape back to the British lines. This form of parole allowed him to go anywhere within three miles of Wethersfield. Old friends who lived in Hartford visited him "every few days", bringing him supplies and working on his behalf outside the colony.

John was not sure how long he would remain in Connecticut. There were rumours that he and another Loyalist officer might be exchanged for two Patriot officers. But within this good news was the threat that if an exchange couldn't be worked out, the supervising Patriot officer would be "under the necessity of retaliating on us". This prompted John to tell his father that "my fears are greater than my hopes".

Learn John Kissam's fate in next week's Loyalist Trails.


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

Smallpox in Nova Scotia 1749-1799

There was a query about smallpox in Loyalist Trails on 29 March and thought this book - Surgeons, Smallpox, and the Poor: A History of Medicine and Social Conditions in Nova Scotia, 1749-1799 - might be of interest to you. I had both an Army officer and a Loyalist in or near Halifax at the time. It is full of interesting information. I found it on Worldcat so perhaps one is available at a library near you.....if they're open. It is available for purchase at AbeBooks, Amazon etc. and is online too, at google books and probably others.

...Pam Miller, UE

Smallpox: George Washington's Experience and Program

In the early years of the American Revolution, George Washington faced an invisible killer that he had once battled as a teenager. While the earlier fight had threatened only his life, at stake in this confrontation were thousands, including military and civilian alike, the continued viability of Washington's army, and the success of the war for independence from Britain.

The unseen killer was smallpox, which Washington described in 1777 as a potentially greater threat "than...the Sword of the Enemy." Smallpox was typically brought to eighteen-century America by either English immigrants or recently-arrived slaves. Unlike in Europe, however, the majority of the American population led relatively isolated lives on farms and plantations. Outside of the coastal cities of Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston, there was little chance of acquiring the disease. For example, there were no smallpox epidemics in the colony of Virginia prior to 1747.

Read more.

Major Illnesses And The Mosquito Influence

The reference in last week's Trails about smallpox has prompted me note this book.

The Mosquito, by Canadian historian Timothy Winegard, provides a fascinating revisionist world history by highlighting the role of mosquito borne illness. Chapter 12, Unalienable Bites, reviews the critical role of mosquitoes in the rebel victory. Reporting to Clinton the day of his defeat at Yorktown, Cornwallis credited his defeat and final capitulation not to the enemy but to malaria.

Quoting McNeill: "Yorktown and it's mosquitoes ended British hopes and decided the American war...the mosquito...stands tall among the founding mothers of the United States."

I highly recommend it.

...Ronald Doering (Marselis), UE

Borealia: Quarantine in the Northwest: The Hudson's Bay Company's Measures to Stop the 1779-1783 Smallpox Epidemic

by Scott Berthelette 30 March 2020

Near the end of the summer of 1782, Hudson's Bay Company chief factor of York Factory, Matthew Cocking lamented: "Never has a Letter in Hudson's Bay conveyed more doleful Tidings than this... Much the greatest part of the Indians whose furs have been formerly and hitherto brought to this Place, are now no more having been carried off by that cruel disorder the Small Pox." Although localized outbreaks of a host of deadly epidemics -- such as measles, influenza, mumps, typhus, cholera, plague, scarlet fever, and whooping cough -- were becoming increasingly commonplace in North America, this smallpox (Variola) eruption developed into a truly cataclysmic epidemic. Between 1779 and 1783, a smallpox outbreak originating in Mexico City devasted Western North America. Smallpox is a serious and often deadly infectious disease that causes headache, backache, fever, vomiting, fatigue, malaise, and eventually leads to the telltale skin rash, lesions, pustules, and scabs. The virulent epidemic reached the Northern Great Plains in 1780 -- via expansive Indigenous horse-borne trading and warfare -- and its impact was devastating. The Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) was a joint-stock company with a presumptive monopoly over the region drained by all rivers and streams flowing into Hudson Bay -- an area known as "Rupert's Land" -- and was the primary chronicler of the diffusion of the smallpox epidemic throughout the Northwest.

Read more.

Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Geo-Historical Sleuthing: New Jersey Edition

By Leah Grandy 1 April 2020

How do you go about locating where a person lived 240 years ago in a place you've never been? This was my situation when I started researching New Brunswick loyalist, Gasper Maybee, who was originally from Bergen County, New Jersey. Through using a series of modern and historical maps, first-hand accounts, and some very helpful local expertise, I was able to pinpoint the area where he grew up and inherited land.

The first step was to make sure I had the correct Gasper Maybee's place of origin. I quickly found his was a common name in New Jersey and was recorded with many variations, "Casperus Mabie" being the most common version. The original Casperus Mabie was a member of the second generation of Dutch immigrants to settle New Amsterdam, or what would become New York City. The family would eventually move to Bergen County, New Jersey. The names Casper and Pieter are repeated throughout generations and branches of the Mabie/Maybee family.

As with any family research, major caution must be taken in dealing with errors in historical records. Gasper's parents were Pieter/Peter/Pieterse Mabie Jr. (b. 1717, d. 1797) and Jannetye Hogenkamp (b. 1716).

Read more.

JAR: The British Invasion of the Bahamas, 1783: One of the Final Actions of the American Revolution

by George Kotlik, 2 April 2020

Tucked away in a small corner of history and buried deep beneath mountains of text lie brief mentions of the British invasion of the Bahamas in 1783. As far as major battles are concerned, it does not make the list. It was not really a battle at all. Action is the more appropriate word. Whatever word is chosen to call this event, it occurred in April. Before this, the Bahamas were captured by the Spanish from the British in 1782. The British invasion of 1783 was an attempt to recapture what was previously lost. Information gleaned from the East Florida Gazette, a loyalist newspaper in British East Florida printed in 1783 and today one of the rarest newspapers of the era, reveals much about the invasion that has not been chronicled in earnest before.

Historian Charles Loch Mowat considered the 1783 invasion nothing but "theatrics," pointing out that the Bahamas were brought back under British control after peace was reached between Spain and Britain. Article V of the peace preliminaries at Versailles, agreed upon on January 20, 1783, by England, France, and Spain, put the Bahamas back in British jurisdiction. No British invasion of the Bahamas in 1783 was needed in order to bring the Bahamas back into the British Empire because the peace process had already done so. Despite the islands' change of hands, word travelled slowly in the eighteenth century. Messages from Europe had to cross the Atlantic Ocean and surely no one in the Americas was aware of the decisions of the peace process until some months after the fact. It is unlikely that anyone in East Florida was aware of the government peace process by the time the British invasion of the Bahamas in 1783 was underway---certainly not Col. Andrew Deveaux, who in March 1783 outfitted an expedition to recapture the Bahamas.

Read more.

JAR: An Economist's Solution to the War: Adam Smith and the Rebelling Colonies

by Bob Ruppert 31 Marrch 2020

Adam Smith, considered by many to be the Father of Modern Economics, was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, on June 16, 1723. His father, also Adam Smith, was a senior solicitor and judge advocate; his mother, Margaret Douglas, was the daughter of a well-landed gentleman. Smith entered the University of Glasgow when he was fourteen years old and studied under Francis Hutcheson. In 1740, as a graduate scholar, he pursued his postgraduate studies at Oxford...

The tutelage was cut short in 1766 when Henry Scott's brother died. Shortly after returning to London, Smith's services were required by Lord Shelburne, the Secretary-of-State for the Southern Department and the American Colonies, and Charles Townshend, now the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Shelburne sought advice on the Roman Colonial Model of Government; Townshend needed annotation of a document that he had prepared on the concept of a "Sinking Fund." In time, the document would evolve into the Revenue (or Townshend) Acts of 1767. Smith headed back to Scotland, but instead of returning to the University of Glasgow, he returned to his home in Kirkcaldy and began work on what would become his magnum opus, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Smith spent most of the next six years working on the text.

In 1773 he returned to London where he hoped to finish the text and express his gratitude to the Royal Society for his recent election. During his time in London, he visited Shelburne frequently. The first edition of Wealth of Nations was published on March 9, 1776. Smith sent a copy to Shelburne. It was clear by the time of its publication that Smith was preoccupied with the American colonies. He had devoted Chapter VII of Book IV, entitled "Of Colonies" and Chapter III of Book V, "Of Public Debts," or nearly thirty percent of Volume II, to the present conflict between Britain and America. Among the many arguments that Smith presented in his work, there were three that directly impacted the colonists.

Read more.

A Silk Vest Honoring the Marquis de Lafayette, 1824

Susan Holloway Scott 3 April 2020

While there were many volunteers from European countries who came to join the Continental Army during the American Revolution, one young nobleman stood out among the others. An aristocratic idealist with a military background, Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) was only nineteen when he met General Washington in August 1777.

At the Battle of Brandywine, Lafayette saw his first experience in the field; he was shot in the leg, yet still was cited by Washington for his "bravery and military ardor."

This silk vest was included in a 2018 exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. "Hosting the Marquis de Lafayette at a New York banquet, Revolutionary War veteran Matthew Clarkson wore this vest covered with the general's image.

In 1824, the Marquis de Lafayette returned to the United States at the invitation of President James Monroe. Over fourteen months, he visited all twenty-four states.

Read more.

American Shipwreck Finally Identified – And it's Revolutionary!

The state of Maine in the United States is well-known for its many shipwrecks, but the stories behind some of the vessels are still unknown. A recent study on one of the mysterious American shipwrecks has shown it to be a vessel that is older than the United States itself. The ship was built before the American War of Independence and has a tragic history.

The Short Sands beach near York in Maine, on the east coast of the United States, is the site of the wreck. The ship's outline was exposed by a storm in 2018. Several times in the past the sunken vessel had been uncovered during a storm.

It was previously exposed in the 1950s, 1960, 1983, and in 2013, when it was revealed by the storm Nemo. The Maine Historic Preservation Commission has categorized the shipwreck as an archaeological site.

Read more.

NEW! Loyalists Fighting the Pandemic!

We are all fighting Covid-19. Those who are front line workers are doing a heroic job - thank you from all of us. Others of us are contributing by staying away - distant - from everyone else. Take a photo of you, or those of your family who are together, with something Loyalist - some Loyalist-era period clothing, a Loyalist-emblazoned article of clothing, a Loyalist artifact, your Loyalist certificate, some Loyalist reenactment gear. Send photos with a description of what and who are in the photo, the Loyalist-related item, how you are contributing, how you are are spending your time, etc. - send to the editor at loyalist.trails@uelac.org.

UE Loyalist Certificates Issued Recently

The 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 between December 2018 and mid-March 2020. These additions were just received from Dominion Office. As it is a lot of additional work to add the information to the Loyalist Directory, they will be added over time.

Where in the World?

Where are Donna and Kira Little of Vancouver, Bridge Annex and Chilliwack Branches?

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 loyalist.trails@uelac.org.

Region and Branch Bits

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

Vancouver Branch and BC Genealogical Society

The Vancouver branch is most fortunate to be able to insert a bulletin in the British Columbia Genealogical Society's Newsletter during each publication - see the latest bulletin.

The UELAC Vancouver Branch works hand-in-hand with the BCGS in many different ways. Many members of the Vancouver Branch are also members of the BCGS and vice versa.

It was the BCGS who graciously accepted the UELAC Vancouver Branch's Loyalist Library and allows any member of the Vancouver Branch to visit their Draycott Libray regardless if they are a member or not of the BCGS.

We Thank the BCGS for their joint friendship and working relationship.

...Carl Stymiest UE, Vancouver Branch

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Last Post

Ken Fitchett, UE

After 13 years of battling Parkinson's, Kenneth (Ken) Fitchett has passed on peacefully on Monday, March 30, 2020 in his 84th year. Predeceased by his mother, Bertha, father George, and siblings Mary Francis (Charlie), Carolyn, Larry (Sheena), and Ted. Will be sadly missed by his brother Don (Carol) and his daughters Karen and Jane (Jim) and his grandchildren Zach, Cassidy, Julia and Erin. Fondly remembered by Ann Fitchett.

Ken was a well-loved history and economics teacher at Beck and Saunders Secondary Schools in London. He loved to travel and was active all his life, as an avid runner and a tennis, baseball and hockey player.

Interment to take place with immediate family at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. A funeral service and celebration of life will be held when circumstances allow. Donations in Ken's memory to the Parkinson Society would be greatly appreciated. Condolences can be sent directly to the family at condolencesforkenfitchett@gmail.com.

Ken was a Pas-President of The London & Western Ontario Branch and was on the Board of Directors for many years. He was a kind a gentle man. We have missed him and his advice for the last several years when his illness prevented him from attending our meetings. Ken proved his descent from Loyalist James Fitchett in 2005.

...Carol Childs, UE, London & Western Ontario Branch

Gordon Moffatt Vance, UE

1935-2020. We are sad to advise the passing of Gordon Moffatt Vance UE on February 19, 2020 at age 85. Gordon had been in poor health for the last few years and unable to attend meetings.

Gordon had found some papers and notes and had his grandmother's story about being descended from Loyalist stock, but some family cousins didn't believe the grandmother's story. Gordon pursued the possibility, made some enquiries at a booth that the Chilliwack Branch had set up and then joined.

His efforts and good research were rewarded. He received his certificates in 2005 to Frederick Shaver and 2008 to William Simmonds Place.

Gordon was a long-time member of Chilliwack Branch and later of the leadership team. He served as Secretary, was a Director for a number of years and was always ready to lend a helping hand with branch projects.

When he joined the executive, Gordon was asked to write a bio as a way to introduce himself to the membership. His notes were published in a 2011 issue of the branch newsletter "Link Up".

Gordon was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on January 20, 1935 but was raised in the small town of Balwinto, Saskatchewan. This was a short distance west of Battleford, but is no longer on the map. His parents were Caroll and Christina Vance, and he had four siblings, Alma, Ivan, Gerald and Mervin.

In late 1939 his father sold all their holdings and moved the entire family by car to Chilliwack, BC. Gordon attended grade school in Chilliwack, then the family moved to Vancouver for a few years. They returned to Chilliwack where Gordon graduated in 1952 and then enrolled in Grade 13 the next year.

His father bought land at Yale Road East and Quarry Road. There they built a house and motel and operated the Texaco Gas Station. Gordon attended UBC in 1955/56 but did not find the life of a "poor student" to his liking. So he went to work for the Construction Department of BC Highways for a couple of years and then sailed to New Zealand with three friends. Gordon returned in 1959 and went to work with the Maintenance Branch of the Department of Highways. Gordon retired in 1993.

He and Carol married in 1960, settled in Chilliwack and raised six daughters: Alison, Komala, Heidi, Kristen, Erin, and Melissa. Gordon is survived by Carol, his wife of 59 years, by his six daughters, their husbands and 6 grandchildren. Gordon tried to make sure his whole family had their UEL certificates.

His hobbies included fishing, badminton and the UELAC.

We shall miss you, dear friend.

A private service was held for family and close friends. Condolences may be left at Dignity Memorial.

...Marlene Dance, UE

Queries

Daniel Eamer, Son of Peter Eamer UEL

Lyle's great-great grandfather Daniel Eamer, birth 1802 in Cornwall, Ontario died fighting in a battle in 1838. I am writing an addendum for the Wood Family History Book and trying to find records for Lyle's Canadian ancestors. I seem to remember the Battle took place near Windsor-Detroit area? (on the Canadian side) What battle was he killed in? Where would he be buried?

Background:

Daniel Eamer (1802-1838) and second wife Polly Myers - parents of Margaret Jane Eamer Wood was born in Canada. (we believe near Cornwall, Ontario)

Daniel's parents: Peter Eamer UEL (1759-1846) born in Colonial America and Catharine (Catrina Maria) Gallinger (1759-1839 born in the Mohawk Valley of up-state New York, Colonial America.

Daniel's paternal grandparents: Johannes Phillip Eamer (1724-1798) and Maria Catharina Leyser (1722-1805) - birthplace for both: Germany

Daniels's maternal grandparents: Johann Michael Gallinger (1725-1797) and Agatha Ade (1727-1790) Birthplace for both: Germany

Records seem to tell us all of above died /buried in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. Daniel's burial place ? Family history seems to tell us he died in a Battle in 1838 somewhere near Windsor or Detroit? Looking for the name of this battle.

Johan Michael's parents: Johan Georg Gallinger (1705-1762) and Barbara Kubler (1703-1790) both born and died in Germany, Holy Roman Empire.

...Helen Stoltz-Wood

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