J. Smyth Carter.

The story of Dundas, being a history of the County of Dundas from 1784 to 1904 online

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England. It so happened that about this time the four Mohawk chiefs that
form the subject of one of Addison's pleasant papers were in London under
the guidance of Peter Schuyler and Col. Nicholson, and in their sight-seeing
tour they were taken to see the foreigners of Blackheath. Touched by their
misery, but more probably eager to appear generous, they invited the Pala-
tines to America, and gave the Queen a grant of land on the Schoharie for
their benefit,

" The idea of sending them to America was favored by Robert Hunter who
was coming out as governor of New York. Ten ships with 3,200 Palatines on
board set sail in March, 1710; nine of them reached New York in June and
July, with a loss of 470 lives. One ship was wrecked on Long Island. This
incident gave rise to the legend that the ship, lured on shore by false beacons,
was robbed, burned by pirates, and all on board killed. A light is said to be
sometimes seen from the eastern part of the Island, which from its fancied
resemblance to a burning ship is called the Palatine ship. This furnished
Whittier a, theme for one of his poems.

" It is from this New York colony that the German IT. E. Loyalists of the
counties of Dundas and Stormont are descended. There were some additions
to the colony from Germany from this time till 1774, but they were of an
individual character. No U. E. Loyalist from any other German source ever
came to these counties. It has been the prevalent error both of historians
and of the people to believe that the founders of these counties were the
descendants of the Hollanders who were the original owners of New Nether-
lands (now New York). There is scarcely a name of Dutch origin on the roll
of the King's Royal Regiment of New York. In fact, nearly all the Hol-
landers of the Hudson were rebels.

" The survivors of the Atlantic voyage were domiciled at Nuttan Island for
five months, until lands could be surveyed for them. Before they left for
their new homes eighty-four orphan children were apprenticed to the people
of New York. It was the intention of Gov. Hunter to employ the Palatines
in producing tar from the pine for the use of the British navy. There was
very little pine near the Schoharie and the Mohawk, so the government
bought 6,000 acres of land from Robert Livingstone, on the east side of the


Hudson river, and placed some of the refugees there, and some on the west
side on 600 acres of crown lands, possibly because both of these sites were
nearer New York. Huts were built and the next spring some commenced the
production of tar, while a number enlisted for service against the French in
Canada. The invasion was a failure owing to the loss of the British fleet
under Sir Hovenden Walker in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, consequently the
land troops did not march beyond Albany.

" During the summer the Palatines began to murmur, and after a time quit
work. They had got the idea that they were to be made slaves and were not
to be allowed to till the soil. Their excuses were, bad food, poor clothing and
no pay for their military services . Moreover, they found that the land was
unfit for cultivation. Governor Hunter came and pacified them, they agreed
to fulfil the contract they had entered into, but he had no sooner gone than
the discontent manifested itself more plainly than ever. Hunter returned,
sent for troops from Albany and disarmed the few that had arms. Under fear
they returned to work, at which they continued till winter. By the next spring
the Governor, who had expended his private fortune in the mistaken idea that
tar in paying quantities could be made from the northern pines, found that
the government in England, now under Harley and St. John, would not
countenance the projects of their predecessors nor recoup him for his ex-
penditure of over 20,000. There was nothing to do but abandon the tar
project. The Palatines were informed that they would have to shift for
themselves, the Governor advising that they seek employment with farmers
in New York and New Jersey to support their families until they were
recalled to fulfil their contract. They were not to be allowed to remove to
any other province unless they wished to be treated as deserters, brought
back and imprisoned. Notwithstanding these orders only a few stayed on
the Livingstone manor. Thirty families moved south on some land they
purchased in fee from Henry Beekman. There they founded the town of
Bhinebeck, which bears the name to-day. A few went to the ' West Camp ,'
the name of the settlement on the west side of the Hudson. The greater
portion had their hearts set on the lands of the Schoharie, granted to them
by Queen Anne. They waited patiently to hear from the seven deputies they
had dispatched secretly to look for lands there, to make arrangements with
the Indians and to find out the best means of getting to what they called their
' promised land.' The report was favorable, so a small party in the winter
of 1712-13 stole away and arrived in Schoharie where they were to experience
hardships and annoyances almost equal to those they had known in "the
Fatherland. Without food or shelter they must have perished but for the
kindness of the Dutch of Albany and of the Indians who showed them where
to find edible roots. In the spring a second party of about 100 families joined
them. No sooner had they arrived in the valley than the Governor, soured


by the failure of his pet theory, for which the Palatines were in no way to
blame, ordered them not to settle upon their land. From necessity they
refused to obey. Then commenced the long fight with Schuyler, Livingstone,
Wileman and Vrooman, the large land owners in Albany. For ten years the
fight went on. Some bought their laud, others became tenants, and some
moved to adjacent lands on the Mohawk.

" Since 1710 the emigrants from Germany had been going to Pennsylvania,
no doubt because of the unfavorable reports from the New York colonies.
In 1772 Sir William Keith, Governor of Pennsylvania, accompanied Governor
Burnett, of New York, to Albany to meet the Indians in a great council.
While there Governor Keith heard of the dissatisfaction of the Palatines.
He knew their value as colonists and being compassionate as well as politic,
he invited all to settle on grants beside their German countrymen in
Pennsylanvia, where they would be accorded ' freedom and justice.' Fully
two-thirds accepted the offer. This was their third immigration. Is it any
wonder that 175,000 Germans of Pennsylvania, half the population in 1775,
remained neutral or took the rebel side ? It may be put down as one of the
mistakes of the British that they did not cultivate by kindly acts the friend-
ship ot those German settlers, and furnish them leaders in whom both Britain
and Germany would have confidence. This would have been comparatively
easy, as subsequent events have proved. Many years after the struggle was
over hundreds of Germans in Pennsylvania, after a trial of repiiblican
government, found homes in Upper Canada, where they could enjoy the bless-
ings of British institutions.

" But how fared those who remained on the Schoharie and the Mohawk'?
For nearly forty years they were unmolested. Only those who know some-
thing of the thrift and energy of their descendants in Eastern Ontario along
the St. Lawrence can form any idea of the progress made by their ancestors
in the Mohawk Valley. Situated on the rich alluvial flats, the finest a.nd
most fertile lands in the Province, they soon became rich and prosperous.
The gently sloping hills and winding river formed a picturesque scene that
must have reminded them of their old home on the Rhine. But the spoiler
of their vine-cottage in the Palatinate, finds them even in the valley of the
Hudson. England and France were soon to engage in the final struggle for
the possession of this continent. In November, 1757, Belletre with his French
and Indians swept through the valley, and burned every house and barn on
the north side of the Mohawk. The majority of the settlers saved their lives
by crossing the river and entering the fort, but forty were killed, and more
than a hundred carried away as prisoners. The south side was visited next
year by another wai party. In this raid fewer were killed but the destruction
of property was as great.


" It was fortunate for Britain that a man of the ability and integrity of Sir
William Johnston lived on the Mohawk. He secured and retained the good
will and devotion not only of the Indians but also of the Palatines. After
Canada was taken by the British, quietness and happiness reigned on the
Mohawk for twelve years. But there were signs of the coming storm that
was to devastate this beautiful valley, and again drive the Palatines from
their homes when the fortunes of war went against them.

*' United States writers with characteristic unfairness have hinted that if he
had lived Sir William would have sided with the rebels. Sabine hints that he
committed suicide rather than take the Loyalist side. It was wholly due to
Sir William that Northern New York produced more Loyalists than any other
similar section in the thirteen colonies. Again, it may be said that it was
owing to the apathy of his son, Sir John, in the early days of the struggle,
that the rebels gained an advantage around Albany that was never recovered.

" The Palatines were divided in their opinion but the majority were loyal.
For years the enemies of Britain were busy sowing the seeds of dissension
among them. A few years previous to the war Sir William settled on his
estate about 500 Scotch emigrants, a large number of whom were Roman
Catholics of the Clan MacDonell. The enemies of Sir William went among
the Palatines and told them that it was the intention to use the Highlanders
and Indians to drive them from their lands. To some of the Palatines anyone
not of the Reformed faith was hateful, and by these the stories were believed,
because the Highlanders when appearing in 'public wore the full Highland
dress, including dirk, pistol and claymore. Many meetings were held, yet
little impression was made by the rebel emissaries in the settlements. The
leaders of the Loyalists must be silenced. A bold stroke was resolved upon.
In December, 1775, Philip Schuyler with 4,000 New England troops was sent
to disarm the Loyalists on the Mohawk, and to exact assurance of neutrality
from Sir John Johnston and his friends. Sir John granted everything; arms were
given up, and he agreed not to leave the country if his property and that of his
friends were not touched. Some Palatines and Highlanders were taken as
hostages and sent to Connecticut. Although Schuyler got all he asked for,
still the rebels must be fed in a way that would not cost them anything.
Under pretense that all arms were not given up, since the Highlanders kept
their dirks, he declared the agreement broken and gave free license to his
followers to plunder. The cattle, horses, pigs and poultry needed, belonging
to the Loyalists, were taken; the church was looted; the vault cantaining the
remains of Sir William Johnston was broken open and the lead casket stolen and
melted into bullets. For this Schuyler received the thanks of Congress.

"Thus in direct violation of a solemn agreement was the destruction of
property on the Mohawk begun by the rebels. Could the authors of such


outrages expect any mercy from Sir John Johnston, from John Butler and his
son, Walter Butler, and their followers, when they swept down on this valley
again and again during the war, when they returned to their old homes simply
to despoil the spoilers now in possession?

" Sir John after being subjected to petty annoyances all winter, heard from
his friends in Albany that Schuyler intended to release him from his parole,
and at the same time take him prisoner. Losing no time he hurriedly buried
his papers, and trusting to a negro servant to bury his plate, gathered about
200 followers and started by an unfrequented route to Montreal. They
arrived there during the last week of June, the day after the city, recently
evacuated by the rebel invaders, was entered by Sir Guy Carleton. On the
journey they had suffered severely from hunger, as they could not in their
haste prepare supplies for nineteen days; and soon their principal food had
been leeks and the young leaves of the beech. During the last days of the
toilsome march many from exhaustion fell by the way. The Indians of
Caughnawaga were sent out to the rescue. All were brought in safe to

" Properly to understand the hardships of the Loyalists on the Mohawk it
should be borne in mind that they knew of no safe means of escape. On the
north all Canada except Quebec was in possession of the rebels, and the Con-
tinental armies controlled the old frequented highways leading to the British
headquarters to the south. Imprisonment or death from hunger or frost was
the only alternative for all that would not forsake their allegiance to their

" As soon as Sir John arrived in Montreal scouts were sent out to the
Mohawk to show the way to those who wished to come to Montreal and the
British posts, Chambly and Ile-aux-Noir, on the Richelieu. On July 7th Sir
John Johnston was granted the privilege of raising a battalion from among
his followers and the Loyalists around Johnstown on the Mohawk. This
battalion was called ' The King's Royal Regiment of New York,' or ' The
Royal Yorkers,' or ' Royal Greens.' Recruiting went on and in the fall the
battalion was complete. In 1780 another battalion was formed. A very
large number, in fact the majority, of each of these battalions were Palatines.
Butler's Rangers also contained not a few Palatines. A very moderate esti-
mate places the number of Palatines who served in the various corps and who
settled in Dundas and adjoining counties at about 600. This does not include
those refugees unfit for service, or those who would not enlist, or those who
came here after the peace. It is an estimate of the able-bodied soldiers who
survived the various campaigns of six years border warfare and garrison
duty at the several posts. How many lost their lives in the hazardous enter-
prises that the corps took part in, or how many died in prison or were hanged


as spies, is not known, but the number must have been considerable. Most
of the officers were English or Scotch. This is accounted for by the fact that
the Highlanders who had recently settled on the Mohawk had before emigrat-
ing seen active service in various grades in the British army. The Palatines
had had no such military training.

" In the spring of 1784 the several regiments were settled upon the lands
allotted to them along the banks of the St. Lawrence, from Charlottenburg
in Glengarry to the Bay of Quinte. The future homes of these vigorous
pioneers were not determined by chance. The Highlanders longed for a high-
land settlement. The Scotch Presbyterians and the Palatine Lutherans and
Palatine Presbyterians asked to be placed in separate communities where
they might enjoy the consolations of their own religion. Accordingly in
acceding to this petition the authorities 'with a wonderful foresight so arranged
the several conflicting interests of nationality and religion that the utmost
harmony has prevailed. The Highland Roman Catholics were placed farthest
east beside their French co-religionists ; west of them the Scotch Presby-
terians; then the Palatines some Lutherans, some Presbyterians, speaking a
different language and forming a barrier between the English to the west,
and the Scotch and French to the east. Thus was laid the foundation of the
Ontario that was yet to be, the common bond being the love of British
institutions, which is as strong to-day in their descendants as it was in those
who risked everything for a ' United Empire ' so that Britain should be the
controlling power in America.

" The Palatines were not novices at clearing away the forest and bringing
the land quickly under cultivation. They had readily become the most
serviceable and reliable of soldiers ; cut off from home and family, they
had under Sir John Johnston and the Butlers for seven years held the rebels
at bay in Central New York and swept the country in raid after raid from
Oswego to the borders of Pennsylvania yet now they showed that they had
not forgotten the arts of peace. They returned to the implements of hus-
bandry and won in a new field victories not lers splendid than their triumphs
amid the ruins of their old homes. They were aided for two years by supplies
from the government and in the third year were not only self-sustaining but
actually had grain for export . Although settled in the wilderness far from
centres of population, they knew something of the advantages of older settle-
ments. To acquire such advantages as soon as possible was their aim from
the beginning.

"It is worthy of note that the first Protestant church in the Province of
Canada was built by the Lutheran Palatines on the banks of the St. Lawrence
about three miles below the present village of Morrisburg. It was commenc-
ed in 1789 and finished the next year. The first pastor was Rev. Samuel


Schwerdfeger, who along with his family was imprisoned by the rebels for his
persistence in exhorting his flock on the Mohawk to retain their allegiance to
their King.

"The hardy Palatines now after four migrations were forced to hew new
homes for themselves out of the primeval forests of North America. The
growth of the settlement, the individual experiences, the persistent and effect-
ive defence of their new homes against their invading enemy in 1813, their
wise and loyal efforts for constitutional reform in 1837, all form important
chapters in the development of that happy, prosperous, progressive and in-
telligent people that now enjoy and prize the privileges so dearly bought by
their ancestors more than a hundred years ago.

"An article on 'The Loyalists of the American Revolution,' appeared in the
Quarterly Review of October, 1898, and received notice in an annual publica-
tion of the library of the Provincial University. Therein the statement was
made that the U. E. Loyalists were 'drawn from the official, professional and
commercial classes,' and that they were a 'melancholy procession of weeping
pilgrims.' To say that position or wealth or profession, or any other selfish
motive determined the choice of the Loyalists is far from the truth, and we
should not allow it to go unchallenged. It was principle, not place, that
caused their adherence to the old order of things. Loyalists were found
among all classes, all occupations, all denominations, and all nationalities
represented in the colonies. To refute the charge that it was the classes that
remained loyal our attention is directed to the German, Scotch, English and
Irish of New York who were prosperous artisans and farmers on the Mohawk
and who became in a short time the prosperous artisans and farmers of the
St. Lawrence and the Bay of Quinte. Moreover, the U. E. Loyalists were not
a ' melancholy procession of weeping pilgrims, ' but a determined band of the
most stout-hearted, upright, incorruptible people of the provinces, conscious
of the righteousness of their choice, and relying on a faith in themselves that
no adversity of fortune could shake. Does anyone acquainted with the history
of this country believe that a nation like Canada had as a foundation 'melan-
choly weeping pilgrims?' We do not hope for American writers to say
anything very praiseworthy of the U. E. Loyalists, but Canadians hold-
ing prominent positions, which add effectiveness and respect to their opinions,
should, at least, be fair."

Previous to the settlement of the U. E. Loyalists in the front of these coun-
ties the land had been surveyed, and the lots numbered and placarded. The
hardships experienced during the route into the Canadian wilderness we have
merely touched upon. Its incidents were thrilling. Arriving at Montreal the
soldiers with their families continued their course to New Johnstown (Corn-
wall) where they met the Government Agent and at once proceeded to draw


by lot the land which had been granted them. The lots were numbered
on small slips of paper placed in a hat when each soldier in turn had his
" draw. " The system worked fairly well and by exercising a spirit of mutual
exchange it frequently resulted that old comrades who had in battle stood
side by side secured adjacent lots. The boats laden with "pioneer freight"
proceeded up the river; as each soldier arrived at his lot, he disembarked with
his family and his small belongings, and thus the first settlers landed in the
County of Dundas on the 20th of June, 1784.

The scene of their landing was not a pleasant one. Before them was every-
thing to dwarf their ambitions. The gloomy, uninviting forest, the forbid-
ding shore, the unbroken turf, and the ever recurring recollection of their
good old Mohawk Valley homes must have brought a tear to many a maiden's
eye. But full arrangements had been made for the settlement of the Loyal-
ists in Canada. Each field-officer received five thousand acres of land; each
captain three thousand; each subaltern two thousand; each non-commissioned
officer and private two hundred in addition to fifty acres more for his wife
and each child. Besides this each of the latter was entitled to a grant of 200
acres on attaining the age of twenty -one years. In this way the greater part
of the townships of Mountain and Winchester was drawn by children of the
U. E. Loyalists. Although the Loyalists had a rough thoroughfare to travel
yet they were unremitting in their labors, and in October, only a few months
after their landing, statistics show that they had not only built habitations for
themselves but had cleared about two-thirds of an acre of land for each man.

While we do not desire to be over lavish of sympathy yet we owe much to
the United Empire Loyalists of our county. They labored cheerfully. Al-
though they had not the extremities of hardship to endure yet if we had their
toils doled out to us to-day we would deem ourselves the most miserable, the
most oppressed of the human race. They had formerly been used to snug
homes, well stored, roomy farm houses^ or perhaps those stately old colonial
mansions wherein reigned a hospitality all but princely. Now many of them
had descended to the log shanty with its rude furniture and fixtures. But even
amid their primitive surroundings they prospered. True indeed was this to a
large extent among the U. E. Loyalist settlements in Canada, but the rule has,
however, some painful exceptions. Among other authorities in this regard we
might refer to Charles G. D. Roberts who in his history of Canada, speaking
of the hardships of the Loyalists in the Lake Region in the year 1788, when
the crops were a failure, says: " Its memory comes down to us under the
name of the "Hungry year." The people had to dig those wild, tuberous
roots which children know as ground nuts. Butter nuts and beech nuts were
sought with eager pains. Men sold their farms for a little flour or even the
coarsest bran. The early basswood were gathered and boiled with a weed


called lamb-quarter and pig-weed and the wild Indian cabbage. Game of all
kinds was abundant, but powder and shot were scarce. Gaunt men crept with
poles striving to knock down wild pigeons, or angled all day with
awkward home-made hooks for a few chub or perch to keep their families
from starvation. In one settlement a beef-bone was passed from house to
house that each family might boil it a little while and so get a flavor in
the pot ot unsalted bran soup. A tew of the weak and aged actually died of
starvation during these famine months, and others were poisoned by eating
noxious roots which they gathered in the woods. As the summer wore on,
however, the heads of wheat, oats and -barley began to grow plump. People
gathered hungrily to the fields to pluck and devour the green heads. Boiled,
these were a luxury, and hope stole ,back to the starving settlement." Though
the pioneers of Dundas toiled hard, we are glad that no such period of
extreme want as that pictured by Mr. Roberts was ever recorded in our local
annals. Then, as a rule, the Loyalists were men of great physical endurance.
We are told by one historian that nothing in their history was more remark-
able than their longevity. Several lived to enjoy their half-pay upwards of

Online LibraryJ. Smyth CarterThe story of Dundas, being a history of the County of Dundas from 1784 to 1904 → online text (page 3 of 40)