Ruby M. Cusack
LESSON COURTESY OF THE LOYALIST
Sadie had been house cleaning for weeks. She was in a throw it
out mood and throw the stuff out she did.
At the supper table, she brought up
the subject of what to do with all the stored items in the
wooden barrels and trunks in the large attic. Items which
according to her had been brought by horse and wagon when the
family moved to this house when she was a teenager.
Gramp announced that nothing from the
attic was to be thrown out. Although there were no family ties
in the attic to being a Loyalist, he began a history lesson on
the 18th day of May which was fast approaching as a time to
remember the many folk and their descendants who fought and
suffered for their belief.
The Loyalists were the men and women who had maintained their
allegiance to the Crown during the American War of
Independence. Many lost the ownership and contents of their
property between 1765 and 1783.
The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies won
independence from Great Britain, becoming the United States of
Many Loyalists began to arrive by ships in Saint John on May
18th of 1783. New Brunswick was then part of Nova Scotia and
was referred to as Sunbury County.
On May 18, 1983 the Lieutenant-Governor, acting by and with
the advice of the Executive Council proclaimed the 18th day of
May of each year as Loyalist Day and invited all the people of
New Brunswick to participate in the festivities.
Once again the Loyalist Society is inviting all those with an
interest to attend the Morning Ceremonies which will be held
in the Atrium of Market Square, Saint John at 10 am on May 18,
They have arranged for St. Mary’s Band to play before, during,
and after, which is always a very upbeat addition.
DeLancey’s Brigade Reenactors will be on hand, a speaker from
the IODE, and the Town Crier will read the Loyalist Day
Proclamation. Local and provincial dignitaries, such as the
Premier, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Member of Parliament
often attend. They will be cutting Saint John’s birthday cake
for all those in attendance.
Several members of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of
Canada (NB Branch) will be in period attire.
When I was in grade five, in a little one room school, I was
introduced to the “History of New Brunswick” by Sweet
and Lawson. A copy of that book is still on my bookshelf. I
might say this was the beginning of a love affair.
Down the road a few years, I became
interested in genealogy and decided to visit the book store of
the New Brunswick Museum. As far as I was concerned, Bibles
were for churches so I was quite surprised when a gentleman
approached the lady behind the counter and inquired if she had
a copy of the red Loyalist Bible, which to my surprise turned
out to be, “The Loyalists of New Brunswick” by Esther
Clark Wright, published in 1955. The amount of
information she collected amazes me. After all, this was long
before computers were storing data.
Reading this publication gives us an insight into the history
of the Loyalists.They become real people to us and we feel
their sorrow, their anger and their frustrations. As a family
unit they all worked together to provide food and shelter and
warm clothing. Children took on adult tasks at a very young
Genealogical researchers delight in using the appendix of the
book. It lists the names of heads of families or single men of
18 years of age and upwards, their former home, their service
during the revolution, their first grants, their subsequent
grants and place of residence.
Another interesting read is “The Diary of
Sarah Frost” telling about travelling on the “Two
Sisters” commanded by Captain Brown. There were
two hundred and fifty passengers with seven families being in
one of the cabins. The final sentence tells much, “We are
all ordered to land tomorrow and not a shelter to go under.”
On the New Brunswick Provincial Archives,
you will find a treasure trove of information in Fort
Havoc by Wallace Hale.
The Loyalist Collection at the
Harriet Irving Library, UNB, Fredericton contains church
records, family records, military records, public records, and
Fortunately many families saved photos for future generations.
In this photo, Alvira (Blair) Rupert may already have
had consumption when in 1885, she posed holding her daughter Nellie
Alvira was a descendent of Loyalists Peter Appleby,
Henry Wannamaker, Robert Napier, John Ford, and William
Munger. Additionally from her father, Nellie had Loyalist
ancestors Christopher Rupert, Hector Dickie, James Innis,
Jonathan Odell, and Andrew Sherwood.
An 1882 photo of Alvira, near her wedding day, shows
her as the picture of health and quite striking, in the
opinion of her great grand-daughter Ruth Lesbirel who gave
permission to use the pictures.