Articles written by Branch Members

Christian Hennigar UE

Christian Hennigar’s birth was likely in the late 1750's or early in the 1760's. In one of his several petitions he stated that he traveled with his parents to the New World from Germany at the young age of 14 and that they landed in what is now Philadelphia. Christian may have had two brothers and it is said that the family came from Frankfurt-on-Main; this still has to be researched. We do not know in what year they arrived in the Colonies but it is known to have been prior to the Battle of Long Island that took place in April 1776, at the end of the first year of the American Revolution. They likely arrived early in the 1770's.

Hostilities between the Thirteen Colonies and England broke out on the 19th of April, 1775. Christian Hennigar was conscripted into the American army. In April 1776 he was captured by the British. He then joined the Royal Highland Emigrants which became the 84 Regiment of Foot. Its history is deeply woven into the history of the British actions during the revolutionary war as described in Christopher Moore’s book "The Loyalists".

In 1775 General Thomas Gage, the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts as well as Commander-in-Chief of the King's forces in North America, turned his attention to Alexander MacDonald's proposal for a regiment of loyal American Highlanders. MacDonald had a well placed ally in John Small, a major on Gage's staff, but they soon discovered that an influential rival had arrived from Britain. He was Allan MacLean, an army lieutenant colonel, who had also conceived a plan for a loyal Highlander American regiment. MacLean was a former Jacobite who had been pardoned and had commanded Highland troops in America during the Seven Years War. He was senior to both MacDonald and Small and he already had acquired a royal warrant for the regiment he planned.

General Gage resolved the rivalry by creating the Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment as a two-battalion regiment in June of 1775. MacLean would have overall command, but each five-hundred-man battalion would be run independently, one by MacLean and one by Small. Alexander MacDonald's personal plans, to become a major and second-in-command of a regiment were dashed. Outmaneuvered by MacLean, he found himself only a company captain in Small's battalion, and it was MacLean who set off, travelling in disguise to avoid capture, to enlist the men of the Mohawk Valley whom MacDonald had already persuaded to serve. MacLean reached the Mohawk, gave commissions to several of the leading men there, and almost at once led his new recruits north to defend Montreal and Quebec against the American invasion. Major Small remained at headquarters in Boston, fought at Bunker Hill, and supervised the dispatch of commissions to Highlanders in North Carolina. Alexander MacDonald, who had already traveled from Staten Island to the Mohawk Valley, back to New York, and east to Boston, was dispatched to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The siege of Boston continued through 1775, and General Gage was replaced by Sir William Howe. Forced to bring in supplies by a long and vulnerable sea route, the embattled British garrison of Boston was barely able to sustain itself. As the troops began a harsh and unproductive winter in the heart of rebellious New England, royal authority was demolished in the rest of the Thirteen Colonies. With all the royal forces committed to Boston, New York City fell to revolutionary authority as did much of Pennsylvania.

The Declaration of Independence was signed at Philadelphia early in July 1776. Earlier that year William Howe's army, and a naval fleet commanded by his brother Richard, had arrived off New York harbour to begin the reconquest of America.

The first of Howe's invasions, the battle for New York City, seemed to justify the confidence of British and loyalist observers. Howe successfully managed the difficult transfer of his troops from ship to shore, taking first Staten Island and then Long Island, and then crossing to Manhattan to capture New York City and send Washington retreating rapidly north and west. By the end of the summer, New York City and a broad stretch of territory around it had passed into British hands.

The British forces in the Battle of Long Island were led by General Howe. In the early morning of April 22, 1776 the British landed at Gravesend Bay on Long Island. The first wave of the assault was carried out by 4000 men who established a bridgehead for the landing of cannon, cavalry and follow-up infantry. On the 27th and 28th the two armies were drenched by continuous torrential rain. During the night of April 29 the Hessian colonel von Heeringen pushed some troops onto a hill that overlooked the rebel lines from the south. From his position, soon after dawn, he realized that the Americans were evacuating and sent a lieutenant at top speed to warn the commander-in-chief.

Some time during this battle Christian Hennigar, a conscripted soldier in the American Army, was captured by the British. He later joined the British army and is shown on the muster role of the 7th company under Captain J. MacDonald, 2nd Battalion 84th Foot Highland Regiment, of which Colonel John Small was the commandant.

The battle was a major victory for the British but Washington had preserved the rebel army and as we know things went downhill for the British from about this time on.

Six years later, in the fall of 1782 a powerful army and fleet still defended New York City but the danger signs were obvious. The news from Europe was not yet conclusive, but every development so far suggested that Britain was acceding to virtually every Congressional demand. Fearing collapse New York made its plans. General Carlton, later Lord Dorchester, rounded up every military transport and merchant vessel that the navy and the commercial fleets of Britain and America could provide. He wrote to Nova Scotia and Britain urging that funds be prepared, that rations and supplies be stockpiled, and that funds be allocated in readiness against one of the largest mass migrations ever seen in the New World.

Loyalists made their own plans, giving a new role to the Loyalist Associations spawned by the war. During the war, Associations had been essentially military, a way to organize militia units and govern occupied territory, but now they were adapted in preparation for an exodus. Families and relations, rural or urban neighbours, church congregations, business associates and militia companies began forming themselves into Associations, the better to arrange their departure and eventual resettlement, not as vulnerable individuals, but as groups of mutually supportive neighbours and partners.

The formal cessation of hostilities took place on April 19, 1783. Britain had made a total and unconditional recognition of the independence and sovereignty of the United States of America. Nothing of the old Thirteen Colonies would be retained by Britain, indeed, enormous territorial concessions increased the boundaries of the new United States far beyond what the Continental Army had controlled or conquered during the war. Finally it was confirmed that there would be nothing in the treaty for the loyal Americans.

As time passed it became clear to those hopeful for reconciliation that there was no future in the revolutionary republic for anyone identified as a loyalist. In the spring of 1783, virtually the whole population of a city of fifty thousand people prepared to pack and go as Governor Carlton announced that his troops would not surrender New York until all the civilians who wished to depart had settled their affairs and sailed. The dismantling of the city began.

About 32,000 civilian loyalists left New York City for Nova Scotia that summer. Thirteen hundred sailed to Quebec, more than a thousand to the Bahamas and perhaps a thousand to Britain. In September, soldiers of British and provincial regiments were dispatched to their homes in the Maritimes, and finally in October, with his city clear of civilians, Carlton began sending away his British regiments, some to Halifax and some to Britain. In the late summer Christian Hennigar’s 2nd Battalion of the 84th Regiment of Foot sailed for Nova Scotia and landed at Annapolis Royal. In November the last companies of troops in the city boarded ship. Carlton withdrew to Staten Island while General Washington prepared a triumphal entry into an abandoned city, and on December 5, 1785 Carlton and the last of the British garrison of the Thirteen Colonies sailed from Staten Island for Britain.

In October 1783, after reaching Fort Edward, Windsor, Nova Scotia, the 84th Regiment was discharged and Colonel Small was given a huge grant of land in Douglas Township, which became a part of what is now called Hants County. He in turn was to divide this land among his soldiers, one of which was Christian Hennigar. Colonel Small never divided the land but returned to England.

Christian Hennigar received his discharge at Fort Edward, Windsor, N.S. on the 14th day of October 1783. The following is a transcript of his discharge papers.

Lieutenant Colonel Commandant to the second Battalion of his Majesty's Eighty-fourth Battalion of Foot, Whereof his Excellency General Sir Guy Carlton K.B.C.C.C. is Colonel-in- Chief.

I Christian Hennigar, do acknowledge that I have received all my clothing, pay, arrears of pay and every other just due and demand whatsoever from the time of my enlistment in the Battalion and Company mentioned on the other side to this present day of my discharge, also fourteen days pay to carry me to my proposed place of residence.

Witness my hand this 14th day of October, 1783.

X (Christian Hennigar)

Witness: Alex Fraser, Sr. Major.

The discharged veterans of the 84th Battalion did not receive proper title to the land on which they had been settled. Later these lands were returned to the Crown. In other words they were escheated. It was then that the veterans petitioned the Crown for their land grants that were not distributed earlier by Colonel Small.

John Victor Duncanson in his book Rawdon/Douglas - Two Loyalist Townships in Nova Scotia, on pages 48 and 49, gives the following account of the problems that were related to the granting of these lands. It reads as follows (the original spelling has been retained):

Douglas 1st Jany 1815

To the Honourable speaker & Honourable House of Asembly.


The petition of your Subscribers Most respectively Sheweth

- That Whereas in the year of our Lord 1783, on Proclamation of Peace between Great Britain & The United States of America, his Majesty's late 84th Regiment was discharged with a Promise of a certaine proportion of Lands to Officers, Non commisd officers & privates, free of any charges from his Majesty's government as a compensation for their Services during the late contest with America, to such as would actually Settle & become Inhabitants: In consequence of which Colo. Small the commandant of sd. regt. Procured a Grant in trust for sd. regt.; upon the Strength of which a number of sd. regt. Settled in the wilderness where they encountered many difiquelties Namely Up Kannetcook, Five Mile & Nine Mile Rivers, now called the Township of Douglas and because the Major part of sd. regt. did abscond & abandon their lands, and a number of other persons ( trying to avail themselves of the same Priviledge the Soldiers had Promised ) Settled in among us who were actually soldiers, and on acct: of Colo Small's Grant not being fully Complied with according to Government wish, it became Escheated with that reserve, that those disbanded soldiers whom had actually Settled Should establish in their former Promise; and the same escheat, & neither of your Petitioners, have any title to our farms. We therefore pray the Legislative body will represent our wish to obtain a Genel. Grant to the undersigned who were actually Soldiers as it was originally intended of their then Promised Locations for themselves & families. Previous to their new applications since whereof a true return will be laid before you with the names of the occupiers of the above description at present resideing in the above Township, and your Petitioners will ever pray -

Christian Hennigar was one of the forty names attached to this document.

Finally, in 1816, thirty-three years after Colonel Small had received the large grant in trust; the Crown Grant to James Dalrymple and thirty-four others was made. The grant indicated that the grantees had been entitled to land in the grant of Col. Small in trust. This 1816 grant re-established titles to land of thirty-four of the remaining members of the regiment or their wives. Each received 500 acres in Douglas Township. Christian Hennigar was one of the thirty-four listed and it showed his grant as 500 acres.

Christian likely had a home, barn and some of his land cleared prior to April 22, 1789 when he married Mary Ann Cannon, in Windsor, Nova Scotia. Mary's father, James Cannon, was a stone mason and during the late 1750's he worked for a contractor in Halifax before moving to Kings County and was in Windsor by 1768, the year of Mary Ann's birth. Who her mother was is not known at this time. James Cannon died a pauper in late 1850 in Windsor. Christian was responsible for his father-in-law's burial and subsequently presented a township meeting with the bill for Cannon's funeral. The local officials were suitably annoyed to find that the total of £3.18s.6d that included 4s.6d for pipes and tobacco, 16s. for rum during Cannon's illness and 32s. for rum consumed by the mourners. They rejected the charges "as truly inadmissible and as being a very dangerous precedent."

Hennigar added to his grant lands by purchasing 900 acres adjacent to his property. He improved the land with buildings and cleared the forest and owned orchards. He had a wife and ten children. One of his sons was allotted 200 acres in 1810. Christian had asked for an additional 400 acres to settle his sons. Two of his oldest sons were members of the militia.

Christian had a mill on the Kennetcook River that had been built around 1790. It was originally a water-powered grist mill. Over time it was equipped to mill lumber and shingles as well. His sons and heirs operated it until 1920.

The stones from this grist mill are the ones that were moved in 1983 to "downtown" Upper Kennetcook to the old one room school house property where they form the major part of a monument that was erected to Christian Hennigar by his many descendants. It was in this school that many of his descendants received their education, including my father and his siblings. The dedication of this monument took place on July 24, 1983. The plaque that is attached to this monument reads as follows:

"…..and he ground the grain for the settlement"

Built Circa 1790

The water powered grist, lumber and shingle mill was one Kilometer East of this site. Sons and heirs operated this mill until 1920. The original stones from this mill form this historic monument honouring this energetic pioneer of Douglas Township.

Erected by his descendants


The Monument was deeded to the Hants East Historical Society for perpetual care.


  1. Hannah McCallum’s Bible published in 1872 in Philadelphia. The bible contains a list of family births, deaths, etc as well as unidentified portraits of family members. The larger portrait is Hannah.
  2. My family loose leaf work book and history
  3. My Pedigree
  4. Individual Summary for Christian Hennigar
  5. Several petitions submitted by Christian

by Carl Hennigar UE
November 11, 2006