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Ruby M. Cusack


Aunt 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 America.

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, 2019.

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 age.

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 special collections.

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 (later Morrison).

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.

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