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Greener Pastures

The Loyalist Experience of Benjamin Ingraham

Spring not only brought the flowers to the meadows but it also brought many city visitors to our door. The way some of them devoured Mum’s hot biscuits, I wondered if they had been hibernating all winter and now were awake and hungry.

Today’s Sunday visitor was dressed in a blue suit, which looked long out of style, with a white shirt and a really wide flowery tie that was kept in place with a fancy tie clip. When he finished his second helping of rhubarb crisp and drained the last drop from the china teacup, he pushed back his chair and started to reminisce about the days of his youth on a farm and his decision to seek greener pastures by applying at age seventeen for a position as a bank clerk.

I wondered what kind of a bank job he had that would involve cows in the pasture?

Way back in the 1700s, Benjamin Ingraham also sought greener pastures.

Benjamin was a young farmer with a wife and two children when it became apparent in the 1770s that people he had known for years were changing sides. They were forsaking their loyalty to the King of England and going over to the side that wanted an independent government for the thirteen colonies.

The situation worsened when the Militia Bill passed in 1775,ordered every man between the ages of 16 and 50 to furnish himself for the upcoming battle by having a good musket or firelock and among other things a Cartouch Box to contain 25 rounds of cartridge and 12 flints.

By late autumn Benjamin realized “being neutral” was out of the question. He knew he was under surveillance during the winter, as he had attended secret meetings at the home of John Savage. He also refused to sign agreements. Thus, he was considered by the Rebels to be an enemy to the American cause.

To prevent arrest, he left home and went into hiding. He helped the soldiers of the King in any way possible.

In the dead of night on 5th October, Ben made a visit home to say good bye to his wife Jerusha and their two children. Unfortunately, he was arrested by a group of his neighbours and treated as a traitor and thrown in jail in shackles. Fortunately the girl, who brought his meal to the jail cell, included a file and left the door unlocked.

Poor Jerusha continued to have her own problems on the farm, as her yoke of oxen, a yoke of steers, seven milch cows and much more had been confiscated. Worse still was the fear of the day when she would be turned out of her own home.

From 20 December 1776, when Benjamin exchanged his homespuns for a uniform in the King’s American Regiment, he fought for his belief in the King. When  the war ended in 1783, he was now forced to face the fact, he had backed the losing side. Furthermore not only had he not been there to help his wife and children for seven years, he had lost his home. His only alternative was to take his family into the wilderness of Nova Scotia since he was banished from the land of his birth.

With as much haste as possible, Benjamin gathered his family and personal belongings together to make the Fall Fleet voyage to what he hoped would be greener pastures.

After disembarking in Saint John, he came to St. Ann’s, now Fredericton, where he lived until his death in 1810 in the 63rd year of his age. His two sons took up land in Queensbury. The home of son Ira being today one of the restored houses at King’s Landing.

If you are interested in learning of the life, of an ordinary farmer, as an American Loyalist before, during and after the Revolutionary War, I suggest you read the 1983 publication, “Greener Pastures: The Loyalist Experience of Benjamin Ingraham” by Earle Thomas. It holds 243 pages of information on Benjamin, his descendants, his neighbours and the way of life of the common man that is sometimes overlooked. The book is available for viewing at several libraries.

By the way, on May 18, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada, New Brunswick Branch, will hold their annual ceremony at City Hall Plaza and Loyalist Rock to commemorate the landing of the Loyalists in Saint John at this site in May 1783. A cake cutting ceremony to celebrate the city's birthday will immediately follow in the Market Square Atrium and tea will be served to visitors at Loyalist House. A twenty-one-gun salute by the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment (The Loyal Company) will be fired from Fort Howe at 12:00 noon to conclude the ceremony.

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Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at:  Include your name and mailing address for the benefit of the readers of the newspaper who do not have access to E-mail but could have information to share with you. Please put "Query" followed by the surnames in your query. For more information on submitting queries, visit
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