Saturday, October 28, 2017

A Family Secret?

An enigmatically carved marker
On the south bank of the Welland River west of Niagara Falls, Ontario, can be found the Young Cemetery. Also know as the Young-Misener Cemetery, this family burial ground was in poor condition until fairly recently. A few years ago the City of Niagara Falls restored the cemetery, setting the many stones that has fallen flat over the years into concrete bases. In the process a number of previously unknown gravestones were uncovered. One such gravestone was a small enigmatically carved marker.

Under good lighting conditions the following letters can be seen with the year 1905 inscribed vertically on the left.

A L E
B N 9
D N 14
A 4 D

The inscription suggested the death of an infant on 14 Nov 1905. A check of the Ontario Death Records (available through Ancestry) revealed the death of an Alice Louisa Everingham on the previous day. The cause of death, however, was somewhat unsettling: “Smothered in sleep.” Had I uncovered a dark family secret?

Alice Louise Etherington had been born four days previously on 9 Nov 1905. Her parents were George Everingham and Dollie May Hutchinson.

George Albert Everingham, the son of Abner M. Everingham (1834-1914) and Eliza Ann Wills (1842-1883), was born on 28 Apr 1877 in Ontario. His wife, Dollie, was born across the Niagara River in Buffalo in June of 1888, the daughter of Michael Hutchinson and Mary Ferman. It is not known when and where George and Dollie married, however, Dollie was only 16 when she became pregnant with Alice.

George and Dollie has three more children: Raymond Victor, born in 1907, Fester, born in 1909, and Arthur born in 1913. Fester and Arthur were both born in New York State. The family emigrated to the United States before Fester’s birth but returned to Canada before Dollie’s death in 1914. 


Young Cemetery, Crowland, Welland, Ontario
According to her death registration, Dollie was killed in a railway accident. She was buried at the Drummond Hill Cemetery in Niagara Falls.

In 1915, George married Florence Beatrice Wright (1896-1972). They had one child, Myrtle, born in 1916. George and Florence are buried at Lundy’s Lane Cemetery in Niagara Falls.

The Young Cemetery is located on land granted to George Young in 1798. The first burial was that of eleven-year-old Samuel Young, a grandson of George, in 1822.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Years of Neglect: Carl Misener Bald Cemetery

Remaining gravestones at Carl Misener Bald Cemetery
Like many pioneer cemeteries in Ontario, the Carl Misener Bald Cemetery has suffered from years of neglect. The cemetery sits on the west bank of the Welland Canal south of Port Robinson and is accessible via the Welland Canals Parkway Trail.

In 1798, John Carl (1755-1836) set aside one acre of Lot 213 in Thorold Township for a cemetery. John was a Loyalist who served with Butler’s Rangers during the American Revolution. His wife was Elizabeth Misener (1770-1826), daughter of Leonard Misener (1744-1806) and Barbara Bender (1742-1821. It is interesting to note that while Elizabeth’s parents were buried here, John Carl and Elizabeth Misener were buried in the graveyard beside the Pelham Evangelical Friends Church in neighbouring Pelham Township.


Cemetery sign erected in 1997
The first burial on the site was for George Misener (1801-1802), a grandson of Leonard Misener. His remains were later moved to the Fonthill Cemetery (formerly Brown’s Burying Ground) in Pelham Township.

It is estimated that there are about 75 unmarked graves at Carl Misener Bald. Some of the burials here may have been for canal workers who died during the cholera epidemic of 1832-34. The last burial occurred in 1862. Soon afterwards the cemetery fell into neglect. When the Fourth Welland Canal was built between 1913 and 1932, about 50 graves were moved to the Fonthill Cemetery.

When amateur historian W. G. Reive visited the site in 1930, he noted:

A stone to Leonard Misener... still stands on the bank of the Welland Canal near Port Robinson, one of the few stones still standing following the destruction of a large cemetery during the building of the canal.... [The Cemetery] lies on government land on a knoll — and as all but one of the stones lie flat on the ground, it is practically never seen by passers by. The depressed surfaces of the ground would indicate many unmarked graves.
Reive recorded five gravestones of which only three remain. The Ontario Genealogical Society transcription of 1990 only records the gravestone of Barbara Misener. When the cemetery was restored in 1997 by descendants of John Carl, two more fragmentary gravestones were discovered.

Barbara Misener 1742-1821
While Leonard Misener’s gravestone has been lost, his wife’s gravestone provides a wealth of information:
THIS STONE
is sacred to the memory of
BARBARA MISENER
the Widow and Relict of Leonard Misener
who after having with material lender
raised nine children to the years of marriage
having to see them comfortable settled around
the land having without reproach lived
til 23 April 1821 Aged 79 Years 6 months and 21 days
According to the information on her gravestone, Barbara Bender, the daughter of Philip Bender, was born on 14 Oct 1742. She married Leonard Misener (1744-1806) about 1767. All nine of their children were born in New Jersey. According to his Upper Canada Land Petition, Leonard brought his family to the Niagara region in 1786. During the American Revolution he support the British, however, was prevented from enrolling in a Loyalist unit due to “he having a family consisting of six or Seven young Children.”

Leonard and Barbara’s youngest son, Mathias (1781-1862), married twice. The gravestone of his second wife, Hannah Hilton, lies in several pieces, however, the essential information can still be read. Hannah was born on 7 May 1784 and died on 4 Nov 1834.

The final gravestone at Carl Misener Bald commemorates Thomas, the eleven year old son of Thomas Bald and his wife, Catharine. Thomas father settled in the area in about 1794.

The cemetery was designated a cultural heritage landscape feature under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2007.

Sources:

“Important Piece of Port Robinson’s Past Protected,” Niagara This Week, June 15 2007

Paterson, Catherine, The Heritage of Life and Death in Historical Family Cemeteries of Niagara, Ontario, 2013

Reive, W. G., Cemeteries and Graves in the Niagara District, Ontario, 1991

Stapley, Noreen, “Descendants Restore Historic Cemetery,” The Loyalist Gazette, September 2007

Monday, August 28, 2017

An Unusual Gravestone

William Hore, 1671-1747
Whenever I visit England I spend a fair amount of time in graveyards. My trip earlier this summer was no exception. One of the more unusual gravestones I encountered was this 18th century stone from Ashreigney, Devon. Although no longer in situ, this stone is remarkable not only because of its age but because of the winged skull and hourglass motif, and the poetic epitaph.

The inscription reads:

William      Hore
who died          June 14th
                              1747
Stay Passengers, I pray awhile attend
Here lies ye Sickman’s Help ye, Poorman’s Friend
Tho’ Pious, Skilled, Charitable, Just:
His Body now dissolves to common Dust.

William Hore was buried at Ashreigney on 16 Jun 1747. He may have been the last of his line to live in Ashreigney as the parish register records only one burial after his, that of Phillipa Hoare who was buried in January of 1768.

William was most likely baptised at Ashreigney on 16 May 1671. His parents were James Hore and Jone. William lost his mother in 1678 and his father in 1709. William married Phillipa Hele at Ashreigney on 16 Jul 1705. They do not appear to have had any children.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Lost Gravestones of Bloomfield

South Cairn of Bloomfield Pioneer Cemetery, Trafalgar, Halton, Ontario
Last summer, I visited a number of graveyards in Halton County west of Toronto; photographing gravestones for the CanadaGenWeb's Cemetery Project.

West Cairn of Bloomfield Pioneer Cemetery
Bloomfield Pioneer in the Town of Milton was one of these cemeteries. At first glance Bloomfield seemed a straight-forward proposition. The graveyard consisted of a line of east-facing stones set in concrete and a scattering of other monuments. Closer inspection, however, revealed a challenge. Hidden in the lilacs to the south of the grassed area was a cairn of toppled and broken moss-covered gravestones. Reading the gravestones, let alone photographing them, would be quite difficult.

Nevertheless, I returned to Bloomfield in early April before the lilacs leafed out. It was relatively easy to gently clean the moss off the stones and to prune back some of the branches. In the dappled sunlight it was now possible to make out some of the inscriptions. The lack of contrast, however, meant for disappointing photographs.

Several months ago I watched a YouTube video about using off-camera flash to photograph hard-to-read gravestones. I had purchased a  CowboyStudio NPT-04 flash trigger and had successfully experimented on a number of  "unreadable" gravestones at other cemeteries. Time for a real test.

The trick is to have the light from the tripod-mounted flash hit the gravestone at an angle almost parallel to the face. By the time I was finished my tripod and knees were covered in dirt, but I had made the unreadable, readable.


Gravestone of Martha Moffatt (1845-1872)
Photograph taken without flash
Gravestone of Martha Moffatt (1845-1872)
Photograph taken with off-camera flash

Bloomfield Cemetery is named after Richard Bloomfield (1780-1870) who donated the land in 1835 for a church and burial ground. A Methodist New Connexion church was built in 1836 and remained in use until 1876. In 1963 many of the headstones were salvaged and set into two concrete cairns. The west cairn is still in reasonable shape.

Martha McKenzie, daughter of John McKenzie and Martha, was born in Canada about 1843. She married John Moffatt in 1862. John, the son of Henry Moffatt and Sarah, was born in Canada about 1839. At the time of the 1871 Census, John and Martha had three children. At Bloomfield there is a gravestone for John Moffatt who died on  October 7, 1872 at the age of six months. John was likely the son of John and Martha, and given his age, it is reasonable to assume that Martha died in childbirth. It is not known what happened to Martha's husband or other children.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

From Ireland to Waldemar

Waldemar Cemetery, Amaranth, Dufferin, Ontario
Waldemar is a quiet hamlet in Amaranth Township west of Orangeville, Ontario. In the late 19th century, however, Waldemar was a bustling village. Originally the site of a grist mill on the Grand River, Waldemar gained importance with the 1871 construction of the Teeswater Branch of the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway. Within a few years Waldemar could boast two churches, a post office, two general stores, hotel, two carpenters, two blacksmiths, two saw mills, a grist mill, a boot and shoe maker, and a waggonmaker. But like many rural communities, the last century has not kind to Waldemar. Everything listed above is gone. Today the rail line is a recreational trail, and the Presbyterian church a private residence.

Surprisingly, Waldemar also does not have a cemetery that reflects its thriving historical past. In fact, all that remains of the cemetery is a cluster of gravestone fragments surrounding a modern cairn.

The size of the cemetery is not known, nor is it known how many burials occurred here, or how many gravestones might lie buried beneath the ground. It is thought that considerable damage was done to the graveyard when the Tenth Concession was realigned, widened and paved many decades ago. At some point a memorial cairn was erected dedicated to the "pioneers and early settlers of Waldemar." The remaining gravestone fragments are piled behind the cairn.

Margaret Jane Dodds (1878-1879)


Margaret Jane Dodds (1878-1879)
Seven of the fragments have names or dates. The most complete gravestone is that of ten month old Margaret Jane, daughter of Matthew and Ellen Dodds. Matthew Dodds married Ellen Dent in Fergus, Ontario in 1876. Matthew was an agricultural labourer of Irish descent who was born in Mono Township east of Orangeville about 1850. He married Ellen Dent in Fergus, Ontario in 1876. Ellen had been born in Toronto Township (now Mississauga) about 1849 to English parents and was the youngest of eight children.

Matthew and Ellen's daughter Margaret Jane was their first child. Neither her birth or death were registered.

The 1891 Census shows Matthew and Ellen had at least three children after Margaret Jane. Matthew was now a farmer in Melanchon Township northwest of Shelburne, Ontario. What happened next is uncertain since the family disappears from census records. It is known that Ellen died in 1925 and was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Orangeville.


Susanna Burke née Edgar (1811-1884)

Susanna Burke née Edgar  (1811-1884)
Armed with a last name, date of death, and age at death, it was easy to determined using Ontario Death Records that another fragment belonged to Susanna Burke. Census data shows that Alexander and Susanna Burke lived for many years south of Waldemar in East Garafraxa Township. Alexander, Susanna, and their four children emigrated from Ireland about 1850, possibly a consequence of the Great Famine. Their son Robert was born after their arrival in Canada. Robert's marriage registration records Susanna's maiden name as Edgar.

Alexander and Susanna may have travelled to Canada aboard an overcrowded, poorly maintained, and badly provisioned vessel, known as a coffin ship, sailing from a small harbour in the West of Ireland. It is also possible they travelled to Liverpool first, and secured better passage. In either case their first port of call would have been Grosse Isle, an island in the Saint Lawrence River near Quebec City used to quarantine ships. From there the family would have travelled by steamer to Montreal, by bateau or Durham boat to Prescott, and then by steamer to Toronto. 

Two years after the death of Susanna, Alexander married a widow, 59 year old Ellen Stewart. On his marriage registration, Alexander's parents are listed as Alexander Burke and Martha Lindsay. Alexander died in 1889 and was presumably buried at Waldemar.

A photograph of Alexander Burke and Susanna Edgar is in the possession of their great-great granddaughter.

 

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Baptist Pioneers of Vittoria

Vittoria Baptist Cemetery, Charlotteville, Norfolk, Ontario
Vittoria Baptist Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Norfolk County, Ontario.  Located east of the hamlet of Vittoria in Charlotteville Township, this still active cemetery contains a large number of early to mid 19th century gravestones.

Site of Charlotteville at Longpoint,
Watercolour by Elizabeth Simcoe,
Archives of Ontario
In the early 1800's, Vittoria was an important commercial centre, and the hub of what was known as the Long Point Settlement. From 1815 to 1825 it was also the capital of the London District. This came to an end when the Court House burned down in 1825 and the court and registry office were relocated to other communities.
  
Settlement on the north shore of Lake Erie near Turkey Point and Long Point began in 1793, although a few pioneers may have arrived earlier. In 1795, the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, visited the region and was favourably impressed:
The country is thickly timbered, the chief trees being oak, beach, pine and walnut. Making our way through the forest, we reached the lake at a place which from the abundance of wild fowl is named Turkey Point. A ridge of cliffs of considerable height skirts the shore for some distance. Between this and Lake Erie is a wide and gently sloping beach. The long ridge of harbour sand [Long Point] encloses a safe and commodious harbour. The view from the high bank is magnificent. Altogether, the place presents a combination of natural beauty but seldom found.
In 1792, Simcoe had issued a proclamation "to such as are desirous to settle on the lands of the crown in the Province of Upper Canada" offering grants of land to any who would cultivate the land and would swear an oath of loyalty to the King. Many such immigrants came to the Long Point Settlement.

Vittoria Baptist Church
The settlement soon grew large enough to support a Baptist congregation. Vittoria Baptist Church was established in 1803. The original church was located on the cemetery site, however, a larger brick edifice was built in the hamlet and dedicated in 1852. This church was built in the Greek Revival style, consisting of a rectangular hall with gable and cupola. The building still stands and is protected under the Ontario Heritage Act. The congregation, however, disbanded in 2013.

Abigail Barber (1758-1804)

Abigail Barber
(1758-1804)
The monument to Abigail Barber is the oldest gravestone in Vittoria Baptist Cemetery. Abigail was born in Morris County, New Jersey, the daughter of Jacob Cosad (1724-1812) and Elizabeth Sutton. She married Samuel Barber (1753-1801) in 1777, and came to Upper Canada (now Ontario) in 1800 with ten of their twelve children. They settled in Townsend Township to the north of Charlotteville Township. The following year Samuel Barber disappeared on his way back from a trip to New Jersey, and is thought to have been murdered.

It is not clear why Abigail was buried at Vittoria Baptist. It is known that her daughter Jane (1784-1820) married William Smith (1777-1823), son of Abraham Smith of Charlotteville Township, about the time of Abigail's death, so it is quite possible that Abigail was living with her daughter when she died.


Solomon Austin (1744-1826)


Solomon Austin
(1744-1826)
According to family tradition Solomon Austin was born in Orange County, North Carolina. He was a Loyalist who enlisted in the Queen's Rangers during the American Revolution. At the Battle of the Horseshoe, Solomon heroically carried the regimental flag after the standard bearer was killed. The Queen's Rangers were commanded by John Simcoe who lauded Austin afterwards. Simcoe later became the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. When Austin arrived in Upper Canada in 1794, Simcoe welcomed him warmly and granted him 600 acres.

Little of the above, however, has been verified by primary sources. The preponderance of evidence suggests that Austin was born in Baltimore Country, Maryland, and settled in Orange County in the early 1770's. At the start of the American Revolution he likely joined a local Loyalist militia unit. In his 1795 petition to receive land in Upper Canada, he states that he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge on 27 Feb 1776. Most of these prisoners were paroled shortly afterwards.

The Battle of the Horseshoe was a minor engagement fought by the Queen's Rangers on 6 Jun 1781 in Colleton County, South Carolina. Austin, however, does not appear on the rosters of the Queen's Rangers during this period. It is possible that he served as a scout for Simcoe. Austin's 1795 petition is annotated with the words, "This man was in action with the Governor [Simcoe] and obtained his verbal permission to go to Patterson's Creek." But if Simcoe was familiar with Austin due to his heroic actions at the Battle of the Horseshoe, why is there no mention of the battle in Austin's petitions?

Austin married Joanna Thomas, daughter of Owen Thomas who died in 1769. Austin's land in Orange County was adjacent to Owen Thomas's.

After the war Austin's property and chattels were seized by North Carolina. Austin remained in North Carolina until 1794 when he brought his family to Newark (Niagara on the Lake)  in Upper Canada. The following year he settled on Lynn Creek (formerly Patterson's Creek) in Norfolk County.

During the War of 1812, three of Austin's sons served with the 2nd Norfolk Militia. Elements of the 2nd Norfolk saw action at Lundy's Lane and Malcolm Mills.


Titus Finch (1756-1834)

Titus Finch 1756-1834
The Reverend Titus Finch was the first minister of Vittoria Baptist Church. According to a history of Vittoria Baptist Church written by Rev. George Watt, Finch arrived in Charlotteville in 1798, was baptised in 1804, and ordained in 1807.

In Pioneer Sketches of Long Point Settlement, published in 1898, author E. A. Owen claims that Finch was a British soldier who came to North American with his regiment during the Revolution. He further claims that Finch's wife, Nancy, was the widow of a friend of Finch's who died on the voyage. Robert Mutrie, author of The Long Point Settlers, calls this "a fanciful story." Finch was most likely born in the American colonies since he joined a Loyalist Corps: the Prince of Wales American Regiment.

In 1806 he signed a petition of Loyalist officers and soldiers who came from New Brunswick to Upper Canada requesting a grant of lands and their names be added to the United Empire list.

According to his gravestone, Titus Finch died on 14 Sep 1824 at the age of 78. His wife Nancy died exactly one year later at the age of 68. Mutrie provides evidence, however, that Titus did not die in 1824, but nearly a decade later on 12 Apr 1834.

At the start of the War of 1812 Titus Finch's son George was a private in the 2nd Flank Company of the 1st Regiment of Norfolk Militia. When the Flank Companies were dissolved he continued as a private with the Regiment. Titus's son Thomas was a sergeant in 1814 in the 1st Regiment, while his sons Titus and William were privates.

Abraham Smith (1727-1809)

Abraham Smith's story is best told through his own words as were recorded in his 1797 Upper Canada Land Petition:

That Your Petitioner is a native of the Province of New York in North America and having always been most Strongly attached to the Crown & Government of Great Britain Suffered much and lost by an act of Confiscation on account of his Loyalty a valuable Landed property in the said Province of New York Containing Eleven hundred & thirteen acres with a Saw Mill and other valuable Improvements thereon.

That Your Petitioner in the time of the late American Rebellion was taken up and Confined in the American Provost Guard for three weeks thirteen days, of which time Your Petitioner was loaded with heavy Irons and at another time though before that last Mentioned, Your Petitioner was Imprisoned for the space of three Months part of which time your Petitioner was confined on board a Prison Ship in the North River.

That the Charge Exhibited against your Petitioner and for which he Suffered as aforesaid, was Concealing and assisting Loyalists to proceed to Niagara.

That Your Petitioner arrived in this Province in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty six, and brought with him a wife and Nine Children vizt Five Sons and four Daughters and since the arrival of your Petitioner in this Province, it has pleased Divine Providence to favour him with one Son and one Daughter more.
Abraham Smith was born about 1729. He married first, Hannah Finn, who died in 1767, and second, Rachel Decker (1750-1831). He settled in Minisink, Orange, New York in 1771. During the American Revolution, Abraham's property was confiscated and the family were forced to move to Sussex County, New Jersey. In his Land Petition, Abraham states that he arrived in Upper Canada in 1786. According to family tradition, he had to be smuggled out of New Jersey in a wooden box. Abraham initially settled in Bertie Township, Welland Country near Fort Erie. In 1794 he moved his family to the Long Point Settlement and settled on Young's Creek northwest of Vittoria.

Abraham Smith
1727-1809
In Pioneer Sketches of Long Point Settlement, Owen claims that Abraham's son, William "Uncle Billy" Smith was the first white settler in Norfolk Country. According to Owen, William came to Norfolk in 1786. The problem is that William's gravestone clearly states that he was born in 1777. It is highly unlikely that a nine-year-old would have left his family to "live amoung the Indians of Long Point" as Owen's claims.

Three of Abraham's six sons served during the War of 1812 with the 1st Norfolk Militia. Of his eleven children, eight of them are buried at Vittoria Baptist.    

Robert Shearer (1772-1832) 


Robert Shearer was another late Loyalist. He was born in Sussex County, New Jersey in 1772, the son of John Shearer. John was a Loyalist who was jailed during the American Revolution and died in prison. Some details of this time were included in a certificate included in the Robert's 1797 Upper Canada Land Petition:
I Do hereby Certifie that in the late war between the Crown of Great Brittian and the States of America the beraer Robert Sherer was an Infant and that his father John Sheraer was a Loyalist and that on the acount of which he was prosecuted and Confined in prison and then he was Confined until his Death and his family So Distressed by that means that his widow was obliged to bind out her children of which the Bareier is one and the whole family ware all Ruined and Distressed among other people Certified by John Moore
Robert Shearer
1772-1832
Robert trained as a blacksmith, and in 1796, emigrated to Upper Canada and settled in Charlotteville Township, north of the hamlet of Vittoria. Three years later he married Rachel Smith (1778-1857) daughter of early pioneer Abraham Smith. Robert and Rachel had thirteen children, many of whom are buried at Vittoria. Robert appears as a Corporal on a roll of the Charlotteville Company of Militia dated 31st December 1799. During the War of 1812, Robert served as a private in the 1st Regiment Norfolk Militia.

Robert had a sister, Rachel Shearer (1775-1841), who remained in New Jersey, but after the death of her husband John Dolan (1783-1810) came to the Long Point Settlement with her son Michael (1803-1882) and her four daughters.


John Havens (1770-1806)

John Havens
(1770-1806)
The second oldest gravestone at Vittoria Baptist is that of John Havens who died in 1806. John, the son of William Havens (1738-1800) and Lydia Masters (1742-1817), was born in Gloucester County, New Jersey in 1769. He came with his parents to Upper Canada in 1787 and settled in Grantham Township in the Niagara Peninsula. John's request for land at the Long Point Settlement in 1793 was declined. Two years later he petitioned successfully for 200 acres. In his petition he stated that he had married into Abraham Smith's family. The 1795 report of Acting Surveyor General David W. Smith records that he was Abraham Smith's son-in-law.

John's wife was Charity Smith (1772-1831). His will, dated 28 Apr 1806, named four children: William, Abraham, Robert, and Hannah. A second daughter, Lydia, was born on 7 Jun 1806, almost a month after the death of her father. Charity later married Levi Churchill.

Oliver Mabee (1773-1854)

Oliver Mabee (1773-1854
and Mary Smith (1775-1844)

Oliver Mabee, the son of Frederick Mabee and Levinah Pelham (?-1823) was born in Dutchess County, New York on 10 Aug 1773.

Oliver's father remained loyal to the Crown during the American Revolution. In 1781, Frederick brought his family to British occupied New York City. In 1783 when the British evacuated New York City, Frederick and his family sailed as part of the "October Fleet" on the Sally to the Saint John River Valley in what is now New Brunswick.

Frederick settled first in the town of Carleton but later moved to Queensbury, York County on the Saint John River west of Fredericton. Not satisfied with the quality of the land, Frederick sold his property and moved his family to Upper Canada in 1792.

Frederick arrived at Long Point Bay in the spring of 1793, having overwintered at Quebec, and began to clear land on Turkey Point. Regrettably, he died the following year.

Oliver, who was nineteen when he arrived at the Long Point Settlement, married Mary Smith (1775-1844), another daughter of Abraham Smith. In Oliver's 1797 Upper Canada Land Petition he stated that he had received 200 acres of land, but was requesting an additional grant. The request was denied. During the War of 1812 he rose to the rank of Captain in the 1st Regiment, Norfolk Militia. After Mary’s death in 1844, Oliver married Rachel Shearer, the widow of Robert Shearer.

Map of Norfolk County, Ontario

Sources:

Owen, E. A., Pioneer Sketches of Long Point Settlement, Toronto: William Briggs. 1898

Tasker, L. H., The United Empire Loyalist Settlement at Long Point, Lake Erie, Toronto: William Briggs, 1900

Mutrie, R. Robert, The Long Point Settlers, Ridgeway, Ontario: Log Cabin Publishing, 1992. 

Mutrie, R. Robert, The Long Point Settlers

Harold Austin Steiner, The Solomon Austin Story: The Early Years Revisited, Austin Families Association of America, 1997

Mabee, Dr. Oliver R., “The Ancestry and Hardships of Frederick Mabee,” Ontario Historical Society, Papers and Records, 1927, Vol. 24, p.439-442,

Charlton, John, M. P., "Some of the Norfolk Pioneers, Jonathan Austin, Esq. and His Father and Grandfather," The Simcoe Reformer, Thursday, August 9, 1900.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Abraham Hughson: A Late Loyalist

Hughson Family Cemetery, Amaranth, Dufferin, Ontario
West of Orangeville, Ontario, on the road that separates Amaranth and Mono Townships, is a plain cairn with six gravestones. No sign marks this cemetery, which is strange since one of the stones commemorates Abraham Hughson, the first settler in Dufferin Country.

Abraham was the son of James Hughson (1746-1806) and Anne Carr (1743-1830) of the Province of New York. During the American Revolution, James remained loyal to the British Crown. According to his 1795 New Brunswick Land Petition, he abandoned his home in Albany in 1776 and sought the protection of the British Army in New York City. He stated in his petition that he had served a year and an half under Thomas Ward1 in the construction of Fort DeLancey at Bergen Neck.

In 1783 the British commander, Sir Guy Carlton, received orders to withdraw from New York City. 29,000 Loyalist refugees were evacuated by ship. Many refugee families, including James and his family, were brought to the St John River valley in what is now New Brunswick. James settled his family on Belleisle Bay, a fjord-like branch of the Saint John River.
 

Abraham Hughson 1771-1862
A number of secondary sources place Abraham Hughson's birth in Brooklyn, New York in 1766. His gravestone, however, indicates that he was born around 1771. Census data from 1852 and 1861 supports an earlier date but in his 1824 Upper Canada Land Petition he states he is 54, which suggests 1769 or 1770 as his year of birth.

Based on the information in his father's petition, it seems unlikely that Abraham was born in Brooklyn. James had been born in Dutchess County, New York and had married Ann there in 1766. It is unclear when he moved to Albany.

Abraham is thought to have married Tamar Kelly (1776-1861) in New Brunswick about 1798. In his 1824 petition, Abraham states that he has six boys and two girls. It has been suggested that there were at least two more children who presumably died before 1824. Most sources claim that the four oldest children were born in New Brunswick, while the youngest were born in Upper Canada. Isaac Newton Hughson (1808-1897) and George Leonard Hughson (1811- ?) however, consistently stated in census records that they were born in the United States.


Upper Canada Land Petition
In his 1824 petition Abraham states that he came to Upper Canada in 1799, remained two years before returning to New Brunswick, then came back to Upper Canada in 1816. It is quite possible that Abraham spent a few of the intervening years in the United States, but choose to omit this information from his petition.

Abraham settled on Lot 3 Concession 1 in Amaranth Township in 1823 but may have been living there as early as 1819.

In the 1820s Amaranth Township was a "howling wilderness." According to family tradition it took Abraham, his son Thomas, and a team of oxen, fourteen days to travel from Niagara. It would take another eight years before more settlers arrived.

For most of the 20th century, the Hughson family cemetery was abandoned and forgotten. In 1991 six stones were located, stacked against a fencepost. The gravestones were removed from the site, and placed into storage. In 2001 the gravestones were returned and placed into a concrete cairn.


Footnote: 

1Captain Thomas Ward (later Major) commanded the Loyal Refugee Volunteers. Formed in November 1779, the unit was tasked with cutting firewood on Bergen Neck in New Jersey for the British garrison of New York, and to make minor raids into rebel territory. It is interesting to note that the Loyal Refugee Volunteers included some Black Loyalists. Fort DeLancey was a blockhouse on Bergen Neck built after the battles at Fort Lee in 1781. The Loyal Refugee Volunteers withdrew from Bergen Neck in October 1782. Thomas Ward went on to become one of the first Loyalist settlers in Nova Scotia.