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Amos Ansley UE.

Amos Ansley, son of John Gilbert Ansley and Catherine Allison, was born on October 12, 1757, probably in Tyron County, New York. He was baptized on June 4, 1769, in the Reformed Church at Stone Arabia. He grew up on the homestead, in an area called Cauchnawaga, bordering the Cayadetta Creek, in what is now Johnstown, New York.

According to his petition for extra lands, dated July 8, 1797, he joined the British army in 1776 and served as an Artificer in the engineers' department at Fort Stanwix in 1777 and later went to Detroit. General Hamilton appointed him as a Master Carpenter. At Fort St. Vincennes, Indiana, he was taken prisoner and sent to Virginia where he made his escape to New York. He continued working as a carpenter there until 1783. On March 20, 1780, he married his wife, Christina McMichael, a small red-haired girl with brown eyes. Henry Hamilton was born in 1782.

Christina (Christian) petitioned for lands also since her father joined the British army in 1778. Since he had died in New York in 1780, her petition was not granted. Her sister, Hannah, had married Capt. Bernard Frey of Butler's Rangers. Four of Amos' brothers had joined the First New Jersey Volunteers while visiting their uncle, Robert Allison, who lived in that state. His younger brother, Samuel, had been forced into service with the Rebels but deserted in 1780 to join the 2nd Battalion of Sir John Johnson's King's Royal New York Regiment.

In the British Headquarters papers, vol. 50 no. 78, an Amos Ainsley, master carpenter, appears on the list of persons who wish to go to Canada. It was dated 3 May 1783. He received provisions at Sorel and the Blockhouse at Yamaska. At this time there were five in his family. It is likely that his parents accompanied them. On 2 February 1784, at Sorel, in the "Return of--incorporated Loyalists, desirous of settling in Canada" he is described as a foreman in public works.

>From the "Return of Disbanded Troops and Loyalists Settled in Township No. 1 Cataraqui, mustered 9th day of October, 1784", we learn that Amos Ansley and his wife, one male over 10, one female over 10, (his parents likely) and one child under 10 received 4 1/2 rations per day as a family on their land. On the township plan of Cataraqui, 1784, we see that Amos Ansley and John Cannon each had half of Conc. 2, Lot 18. In 1785, he owned Lot 1, No. 3, Conc. 4. In 1787, his family lived on Lot 12, Concession 1, Kingston Township. He was granted lots 27, 28, and part of 40 and 82. He also received Lots 15 and 18, Concession 2. Lots 27 and 28 were on the harbour near Fort Frontenac. The point of land across the harbour where Vimy Barracks is now was originally called Annesley Point. It has been changed to Cartwright Point.

Being an educated man who could read and write, he soon became an elected representative of the township in which he resided. A letter to Guy Lord Dorchester, Governor and Commander in Chief in and over His Majesty's colonies of Quebec, New-Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, dated 19th of March, 1787, is signed by Amos and the following persons, Jacob Rambach, William Empy, Philip Shavaur, Martin Watter, William Philips, Joel Adams, Patrick MacNiff, Seffrenefs Kassleman, John Boice, Frederick Weaver, and John McIntyre. In it, they state that they were elected by a majority of votes to represent their respective townships stretching from Point Aubodett to the upper end of the Bay of Quinte. In Dr. Canniff's book, "The Settlement of Upper Canada", he reports that on May 20, 1812, the Kingston Chronicle had an article in which Amos appealed to the electors of the county of Frontenac for their votes since he had represented the county in "the first foundation of its happy constitution". Unfortunately for him, his bid was unsuccessful.

Religion was important in the Ansley family. Amos's father, John Gilbert Ansley, was referred to as Rev. Ansley in his latter life. Rev. Thomas Ansley, one of Amos' nephews, became an ordained Baptist minister and had a church in Bridgetown, Nova Scotia, making evangelistic trips throughout this province, New Brunswick, and the United States. He died in 1831 on one such trip away from his wife and family. Amos donated 2.5 pounds to St. George's Anglican Church in 1790 for the building fund and rented a pew there in 1809 and 1810. Two of his sons, Daniel and Samuel, were baptized there. He was able to send his youngest son, Amos the younger, to the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1816, to study to become a minister. Amos Jr. received his first charge at the settlement of Wright's Town (Hull), Quebec, as a missionary for the Society of the Propagation of the Gospel, being a rector of St. James' Church there. Mr. Hamnet Pinhey of March Township near Ottawa offered one estate of land and the remainder of the costs if Rev. Ansley could raise one hundred pounds towards the cost of a church on his land. General Lloyd, Capt. Street, Capt. Monk, Capt. Bradley and Rev. Ansley pledged a total of 127 pounds. Amos preached the first sermon in St. Mary's, parish of March, on October 7th, 1828. His daughter, Anne, and Rev. Abraham Atkinson were married at Hull, Que. by Rev. John Bethune. Anne's husband was curate at Christ's Church, Montreal, for eight years. From there he worked in the parish of Bath, Ontario. In 1839, he was appointed to St. George's Anglican Church in St. Catharines where he worked for 24 years.

In 1793, Amos sold the lands in the Kingsborough and Sacandaga Patents of the counties of Fulton and Montgomery in New York State, properties formerly owned by his father. These he deeded to Johnstown district farmers for the sum of 800 pounds.

Amos was not too popular in the United States especially in 1798. In 1797 he was the witness for a controversial land transaction that the book, History of St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties by Franklin B. Hough, 1853, reported. "The chiefs of Oswegatchie Nation received payment for ten miles on the St. Lawrence River and nine miles back into the woods from Major Watson and Daniel Smith. Candaha Lashalagenhas signed the receipt and Amos Ansley witnessed it. Watson was arrested on a charge of violating statute by dealing with Indians for lands, convicted in 1800 and sentenced to one year in jail. On September 14, 1798, the "sheriff went in pursuit of Ansly,(sic) but by some means or other, he got suspicious that something more than common was preparing and he made his escape over the river, by which means he eluded the officer".... "I am sorry that Ansly was not taken, for he is a great villain ... should he recross the river, and be saucy, I will do it at all events..", said N. Ford. (p.383) On September 16, 1798, Ford wrote to Samuel Ogden saying "The minds of those in his (Watson's) and Ansly's interests, are much agitated at the circumstance. They are at present very quiet and Ansley durst not be seen this side the river".

In 1792, he was involved in two court cases. George Galloway sued him for about twenty-one pounds that Amos argued he had already paid Galloway's wife. He was ordered to pay it again. In the next case he sued Archibald Fairfield for taking a horse into his kitchen and damaging it although he was only allowed to use it for cooking. Since he was unable to prove there was actual damage, the suit was dismissed.

In Upper Canada, Amos continued to ply his trade of Master Carpenter. While it is likely that his first houses were of logs, there is much circumstantial evidence that Amos built many of the early stone houses in the area. At least two of the houses where he resided, the McMichael House on Princess St. and Portsmouth Ave. and the Brady House in Latimer, Storrington Township, are still standing. Other houses in the area resemble these. From at least 1793, Amos worked at trying to ensure a supply of building materials. He petitioned to build an iron bloomery, a hearth that can smelt iron for metal work. The petition was rejected on grounds that minerals were reserved for the crown. In 1807 he offered to build and furnish a gristmill and sawmill at Kingston Mills for 600 in Halifax currency in return for a perpetual lease. This was refused. Even when he dropped the perpetual from the lease, be was refused.

Between 1790 and 1804, he owned or leased more than 2000 acres in the townships of Kingston, Loughborough, and Pittsburgh. These acres could supply the timber needed for his buildings. On a hunting trip with Daniel, Amos discovered a river with a waterfall and a natural dam ideal for a sawmill in Storrington near the present village of Battersea. He received the crown lease for it in 1802. Catherine, his mother, died in 1816. This was also the year he decided to build the sawmill on his property in Storrington. He and his sons constructed the road through the woods and hauled the equipment in to build the mill. Then a large frame house was built for Daniel and Mary with their families and Amos and Christina with Anne. The nearest neighbour was four miles away. They were definitely the first settlers. As more workers came to the area, the settlement became known as Ansley's Mills.

On January 25th, 1804, Amos purchased from Robert Brown of Marysburgh, for the consideration of 25 pounds two hundred acres in the Township of Loughbourgh, near Latimer, namely, Lot No. 12, concession 1, with access to Loughborough Lake. This made it convenient for floating logs down to his mill. He himself might travel by horse over the long winding road to Ansley's Mills. The road from Inverary to his mill was called the Ansley Road, now the Round Lake Road. After 1817 he built a stone house and other structures on the south half of this lot. He gave this part to his son, Amos, two years before his death. The north part he gave to Henry Hamilton Ansley, of Camden Township. On January 31, 1828, Amos the younger agreed to sell this house and land to John Whitelaw of the City of Quebec for one hundred pounds. Dr. Whitelaw had given a mortgage to Amos Sr. in 1818 to help him build the house. The agreement was signed on the 8th of October, 1928, the day after his first sermon in St. Mary's Church. This would have helped him meet his pledge of 12 pounds toward the building of the church. In 1830 John Whitelaw sold his part to James Brady and in 1845 Ira Darling bought Henry's part. It is likely that Amos St., Christina, and Anne continued to live on the property until his death.

Amos was often frustrated by bureaucracy. He would not rest when he perceived an injustice and would protest it profusely. His properties bordered the North-South road allowances as surveyed by Collins in 1784. In 1787, Mr. Atkins, a surveyor hired by Mr. McLean, discovered that the lines were heading west instead of North. At that time a court was convened and Mr. Collins certified that the present road was confirmed. However, the settlers along the road were uneasy. On September 17th, 1798, Amos Ansley, John Cannon, Thomas Burnett, John Burnett, Solomon Orser, Daniel Ferris, and John Ferris, petitioned the judges and commissioners to "provide that the courses mentioned in the deeds shall agree with the Survey that we first settled by and have improved agreeably thereto this fourteen years". John Rider was the surveyor sent to rectify the matter. Apparently he wanted to draw the road allowance exactly to the compass. This dispute continued for years with barns and houses being built on properties according to the original survey, that were now claimed by others. Amos turned to the justice of the peace and to the Rev. John Stuart for help without success. Amos received this letter from Peter Smith on July the 15th, 1810.

Amos added a footnote in his own handwriting: If Mr. Smith Had Known the Law or done His Duty He would Have acted otherwise.

In frustration, he took the law into his own hands in 1812 and was thrown into prison. The war of 1812 broke out in June and rescued him. With Kingston being designated Upper Canada's main naval base, the construction of forts, barracks, and warships, brought wealth to merchants and construction workers. The economy was blooming.

While in prison on the 13th of August 1812, he sent a letter for the information of the government on behalf of John Langan who was demanding rent from the settlers of Wolfe Island for Patrick Langan at the rate of six pounds per hundred acres. Patrick Langan Esquire claimed the legal title to Wolfe Island, under a French grant. It seems that Amos was just testing to see whether this claim would be recognized. In 1802 John Small on behalf of the Lieutenant Governor published a notice that the government would not recognize any claim to "Grand Isle" and would try to recover it from those currently in possession of it. Ten years later, Amos wanted to see how things stood. Not having received a response to the letter for John Langan, he petitioned on the 18th of July, 1813, for Grand or Wolfe Island, including Simco and Horseshoo Island (sic) on behalf of himself and a number of associates who would make up the sum of sixty thousand dollars as well as pork, beef, flour, peas, oats and barley, pine timber, to be paid to the government over five years. On the 19th of July, 1813, E.B. Brenton wrote that the Commander of the Forces wanted to have His Majesty's rights to these islands secured in order that they be given to deserving soldiers following the present war. On the 7th of August, 1813, the executive council turned down Amos' petition stating the reason that Patrick Langan's claim had not been deposed of.

On September 27th, 1830, he passed away at the age of 74 years after a painful illness borne with "Christian fortitude and a calm resignation to the will of Heaven" according to his obituary. He left behind his wife, Christina McMichael, and eight children, Henry Hamilton, Mary, Catherine, Daniel, Samuel, Elizabeth, Amos Jr., and Anne, between forty and fifty grandchildren, and several great grandchildren. Amos and Daniel were buried near the dam he built for his first saw mill, on the property of the first flour miller's home in Battersea. Christina died four years later while visiting Anne in Montreal. Amos' gravestone became covered with earth and grass and lay unnoticed until a new owner was building a driveway along a more recent house. A rotten tree stump was pulled up and the gravestone was uncovered.

After his death Henry VanLuven registered a deed on the mill site keeping the family members from operating the mill. He gained control of 1200 acres that he subdivided and rented with 99-year leases. In 1855, the name of Ansley's Mills was changed to Battersea. In 1857 when Crown mill sites became available for purchase, VanLuven bought the site. Amos was never recognized as the founder of Battersea. That title went to VanLuven whose descendants erected a church bell tower and bell in his memory as founder of the village at the same time refusing to allow a descendant of Amos' to rebury him beside a memorial marker noting him as the first settler.

Despite this ignoble treatment after death, this colourful Loyalist has left a legacy of stone houses and an unrelenting belief in fair play and hard work.

Bibliography of Amos Ansley UE

Ansley, Amos. "A Collection of Loyalist and other Petitions, Letters & Etc. referring to the Land Boundary Settlements on Lake Ontario to the Bay of Quinte 1783-1810" 1810 From the Original in the Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Feb 1978

Ansley, Rev. Amos A.M. "A Sermon preached at the Opening of St. Mary's Church, Township of March Upper-Canada 1828" Microfiche XIX23-7835-7848, Lorne Pierce Collection, Queen's University, Kingston.

Battey-Pratt, Alita. Article in The Frontenac County History, Land of a Thousand Lakes--Architecture Section" Kingston, 1982

Battey-Pratt, Alita. Correspondence between her and Lucille Gill, Larry Turner, and Mrs. C. Stickley, 1981-1982

British Headquarters Papers. "List of Persons who wish to go to Canada 3 May 1783" National Archives of Canada MG23 B1 Vol 50 No. 78 Document 7622 Microfilm M 361

British Headquarters Papers. "Return of Refugee Loyalists Families etc. Receiving Provisions at this Port and the Blockhouse at Yamaska-Sorell 25 December 1783" National Archives of Canada MG23 G 11 Haldimand Mss. B 167 p. 351 (From BM 21827 p. 307 microfilm)

Canniff, Wm. M.D. "The Settlement of Upper Canada" Mika Silk Screening Ltd., Belleville, 1971

Davidson, Harold Ansley. "Our Ansley Family" Published by H.A. Davidson, October 1933

Heydon, Naomi Slater. "Looking Back ... Pioneers of Bytown and March--Sparks, Nicholas & Pinhey, Hammett Kirkes: Their Antecedents and Descendants" M.O.M. Printing, Ottawa, 1980

Jefferson, Bishop Rt. Rev. R. "Faith of Our Fathers" 1950 (City of Ottawa Archives)

Kingston Chronicle. "'Obituary of Amos Ansley" Oct.2nd, 1830

Kingston Land Registry Office. "Deed of sale between Robert Brown & Amos Ansley 25 Jan 1804"

Kingston Land Registry Office. "Deed of Sale between Amos Ansley & John Whitelaw 28 August 1818"

Kingston Land Registry Office. "Sale of Land from Amos Ansley the Younger to John Whitelaw, Jan. 31, 1828"

National Archives of Canada. (Petition for More Land based on Experience in War) Upper Canada Land Petitions "A: Bundle 4 Petition 36 1796-1798, RG 1 L3 Vol 3, C1609

National Archives of Canada. (Petition to Peter Hunter, Governor asking for a deed to land in Kingston promised by Governor Hamilton) Upper Canada Land Petitions "A: Bundle 5 Petition 14 1798-1802, RG 1 L3 Vol 3, C1609

National Archives of Canada. (Petition from Settlers asking for a New Township to be Granted--with 3 pages of Names of Settlers beginning with Amos) Upper Canada Land Petitions "A: Bundle 5 Petition 20 1798-1802, RG 1 L3 Vol 3, C1609

National Archives of Canada. (Regarding Islands in Lake Ontario) Upper Canada Land Petitions "A: Bundle 10 Petition 25 1811-1816, RG 1 L3 Vol 5, C1610

National Archives of Canada. (Petition stating that Amos is the Legal Representative of John Dick and asking to claim lands on his behalf) Upper Canada Land Petitions "A: Bundle 11 Petition 31 1811-1819, RG 1 L3 Vol 6, C1610

Unknown Author. "The Loyalists" An Essay

Asst. Editor's Note:

You'll find links to sites about Ansley at: ANSLEY/1997-12
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Author:Powers, Sylvia
Publication:The Loyalist Gazette
Date:Mar 22, 2004
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