George Fikes, UE, King's Royal Yorkers
An American friend of mine, who is also a reenactor, was working for
the US Park Service and investigating the historic fort at Oswego where
the grave of George Fikes is located. He was so taken with this stone,
he made a mold from it and I have a plaster casting taken from the mold.
This chap advises me that he went looking for the stone last year and
was scandalized to find that it had been removed from the cemetery. He
was advised by the site staff that the stone was taken away by the Parks
Service for safe storage; but no one seemed to know just when it was
deposited. So, it may be lost in the bureaucracy of that gigantic
organization and never see the light of day again!
The inscription reads:
Lieth the body of
George Fikes soldier [in?]
of New york In Capt
Gumerfalls Compy, who
departed this Life Novemb
1782 Aged 27
[then a rococo scroll of leaves]
[then an upside-down heart]
I suspect this is one of the very few gravestones made during the war
for a Loyalist soldier that had survived into the late 20th Century. We
could certainly take a decent photograph although lighting the stone
adequately will be a challenge. Senior Captain Thomas Gumersall
(Gomersall, Gummersel, Gunnersall, etc.) was the senior Captain in the
Second Battalion after the promotion of Robert Leake to Major just
before the battalion disbanded in June 1784. Gumersall had been the
Deputy Quartermaster General on Staten Island in 1776 and then joined
the 1st Battalion, Royal Yorkers that same year. He had been sent to the
Mohawk Valley in May to bring dispatches from Howe for forwarding by
runner to Fort Niagara. Somehow, he came upon the information that Sir
John Johnson was about to be arrested at his home, Johnson Hall, and he
sent a warning to the baronet. This brought Gumersall to the attention
of Sir John and probably led to his commission as Lieutenant. He was
promoted to Junior Captain (the Captain-Lieutenant in charge of the
Colonel's Company) in 1778, then promoted and officially
transferred to the Second Battalion in 1781. He had served as Acting
Quartermaster of the 2nd Battalion from 14 Oct. 1780 to 13 Nov. 1781
while the unit was in its formative stages.
He was with his company at Oswego when the Battalion was sent to that
site to rebuild the fort. It was during this time that George Fikes
died, likely from some illness contracted during the construction or
perhaps an injury. When the rest of the Battalion was ordered to
reoccupy the ground at Cataraqui (Kingston) and build a fort there,
Gumersall was left behind with his company as the Commandant of Fort
Oswego. Gumersall, who must have had some medical training, also served
as post surgeon after the balance of the Battalion left for Cataraqui
although the Battalion surgeon had likely attended to Fikes during his
1 I have recorded the "in" brackets as the stone is chipped
on that edge and the word is not legible.
2 The lower case letters such as the "s" after the
"K" (which in that case serves as an abbreviation for
King's) and the "n" following "Batt", etc...
are actually raised above the line.
3 The word "york" is not capitalized which is odd in view of
the number of other words that are.
4 The long "s" (f) is used in Gumersall and the name looks
like Gumer fall; there is no apostrophe in "Gumersalls".
Simon Girty is an overlooked and controversial figure in Canadian
history. Historians debate whether he was a true Loyalist supporter of
the Crown during the American Revolution, or a champion of the native
tribes who allied themselves with the British. Whatever the viewpoint,
Girty was a Canadian hero as worthy of recognition as Tecumseh, Brant and Brock. He was unique; a white raised by natives, and at home in both
Girty was born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1741. His father was
murdered by another settler (2) and his stepfather was killed by
natives. The Girty family was captured by a Frenchled war party and
dispersed among various tribes. (3)
Simon lived with the Senacas for eight years. (4) He became proficient
in native languages and woodcraft. By the time he was sent to the
settlement at Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh) with his brothers, James and
George, he had grown to appreciate the natives and their culture.
For many years Girty lived near Fort Pitt, working as a guide and
interpreter. With the outbreak of hostilities in 1776, his loyalties
were torn. He sided with the rebels, until he realized that Americans
would not honour the Fort Stanwix Treaty Line, the limit of white
settlement. Many settlers were suspicious of him because of his
friendship with the First Nations. They jailed him as a spy but later
released him. In 1778, Girty fled to Detroit and joined the British
Officially he was an interpreter, but throughout the Revolution and
the wars with the natives that followed, he was one of the most active
men on the frontier. He served as an intermediary, participated in many
battles, scouted deep into enemy territory at great personal risk, and
was among the few whites permitted to sit on native councils.
Though he rescued many captured Americans, he was vilified when he
failed to save Colonel William Crawford in June 1782. An eyewitness
described Simon's attempt to purchase Crawford's life:
Girty offered them money and his horse and his rifle with liquors if
they would save his (Crawford's) life. The Indian chiefs asked
Simon Girty if he would take his place, and the Indians became very
angry and threatened to kill him ... and he was obliged to leave them.
The natives were avenging the massacre of innocent Delaware men, women
and children. (6) Simon recognized that revenge would only lead to
retaliation, but they would not listen. Later, Simon was labelled
"The White Savage" in American histories. In 1784 he settled
near Amherstburg. He was an interpreter for the British Army during the
war of 1812, but he we too old to enlist. (7) He died in 1818 and was
buried with military honours. His children were respected citizens, who
participated in military and public service.
Girty was a rough frontiersman who fought for the natives' right
to their land. Because he strove to keep a large chunk of what is now
the United States attached to Canada, he deserves recognition as a
soldier of the Crown. For the second half of his life he was a citizen
of colonial Canada.
The Two Identities of Lieutenant Hugo Munro
The following article is reproduced, with permission, from Families,
page 149, Volume 31, Number 3, 1992. Mr. Bush, author of the article,
noted in a 21 September 1995 letter ...
"Think of unintentional misinformation as `doing the best
possible with the sources then available.' Hopefully, this approach
will encourage other researchers to submit cases of unintentional
During research to find the parents of my
great-great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Munro Ross, I read
"Ancestry of Captain the Honourable John Munro 1728-1800"
(FAMILIES, vol. XVI, no. 2, 1977). Prominent in the article was the name
of Hugh Munro of Charlottenburgh, a close neighbour of my ancestor, John
Ross, and his wife, Elizabeth Munro.
The article described Hugh Munro as a son of Captain John Munro,
lieutenant in the King's Royal Regiment of New York, who was born
in Scotland in 1748. Records of the KRRNY (8) state that Lt. Hugh Munro,
son of Captain John Munro, was born in America and that Hugh Munro,
private soldier, was born in Scotland.
Hugh Munro, private soldier, is the man in Royal Township number 1
(Charlottenburgh). Obviously the identities of Lt. Hugh Munro and Hugh
Munro of Charlottenburgh became interwined through the years. This
happened when Lt. Hugh Munro disappeared from the Ontario scene and Hugh
Munro of Charlottenburgh filled this void by default.
Lt. Hugh Munro was the original nominee for Lot 7, and east half of
Lot 8 for both concessions I and II in Matilda Township, Dundas County,
alongside his father and brothers. (9) This is shown on the McNiff map
(10), dated 1 November 1786. His name does not appear again on the
Ontario records which are commonly available until July 1816.
A claim for Ontario land was made in July 1816 by Hugh Munro of
L'Assomption, Lower Canada, son of Lt. Hugh Munro of the same
place, as a devisee in the will of Captain John Munro (his grandfather).
Records of the KRRNY indicate that L'Assomption is the residence
of Lt. Hugh Munro in 1784, additional proof that Lt. Hugh Munro existed
as a separate and distinct person from Hugh Munro of Charlottenburgh.
Loyalist John Haviland's Land Claims As A Captain
In 1787, when John and Sarah Haviland first came to (soon-to-be) Upper
Canada, they established their claim as Loyalists to 400 acres of Crown
land in Sidney Township, Hastings County. The Loyalist Agent in Lachine,
Stephen DeLancey, supported the claim:
The bearer here of Mr. John Haviland is a man who served during the
late rebellion in Col. James DeLancey's Core of Loyal Refugees at
New York. He is a loyal Subject and is recommended to the Honourable
John Collins for such proportion of land as he shall judge him entitled
to on seeing his Credentials. He has a wife & four children.
Subsequently, the amount of Crown land that Loyalists could claim
increased substantially. The entitlement was scaled to the former
military rank of the Loyalist claimant. In 1791, however, the Havilands
returned to the United States for six years. When John and his growing
family returned to Northumberland County in Upper Canada in 1797, he had
acquired some funds because he bought 200 acres from John Stratten for
$95. Then he petitioned for (more) Crown Land. In his supporting
deposition of 1798, he affirms that he only went back to the States to
try to salvage some money from the property that had been confiscated there in 1781. It is recorded that he had owned a house and two acres of
land near the Mills in Dutchess County, N.Y. The Administrator of Upper
Canada, Peter Russell, was not sympathetic to Loyalists, and he promptly
rejected John Haviland's petition.
A few years elapsed in Northumberland, and then, in 1803, the
Havilands bought 600 acres of good land in Townsend Township, Norfolk
County, from the Fairchilds, another Loyalist family located there. Here
the Havilands settled, prospered and multiplied. In 1808, John
re-applied for the Crown Land to which a Loyalist Captain was now
entitled, i.e. 3,000 acres (less the 400 acres he had originally
received in Sidney). But this time around he skilfully mobilized
influential support from leading citizens in Norfolk County and
elsewhere. They attested that he had been a Loyalist Captain during the
Revolution, The Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada by this time was
Francis Gore, who was sympathetic to John's claim, and Executive
Council approved his petition early in 1809. John requested that his
2,600 acres of Crown Land be located in the south west of Elgin County,
but land there was subject to settlement duties and to Colonel Thomas
Talbot. The land John received was about 100 miles away, to the
northeast, and to the west, of his home farm, and he never resided on
it. Later, he gave some of it to his children, and sold some more. When
each of his children reached the age of 21 (or the daughters married),
they were entitled to 200 acres of Crown land, which they received. In
the final analysis, John Haviland and his family did quite well from
their land grants, purchases and sales. But that was not unusual for
those times in Upper Canada.
General William Haviland, 1718-1784
General William Haviland was English, not American or Canadian, and
yet he became one of the founders of British Canada.
In the summer of 1760, during the Seven Years War between France and
England, Colonel William Haviland commanded the army-of-the-centre that
advanced northwards against Montreal from his base at Crown Point on
Lake Champlain. Converging on Montreal at the same time, from the east
and the west, were General James Murray's army from Quebec City
(which Wolfe had captured the year before) and the army of
Commander-in-Chief Jeffrey Amherst descending the St. Lawrence River
from Oswego. This decisive three-pronged campaign ended with the
capitulation of New France to the British forces on September 8, 1760.
In 1762, now a Brigadier-General, William Haviland led army brigades
in the capture of Martinique from the French and Havana from the
Spanish. Then he rejoined his family back in England. By the end of the
American War of Independence in 1783, during which William had army
commands on the home front, he was a full General.
There is an intriguing, if speculative, way of relating this anecdote
to Loyalist Captain John Haviland. In 1760, at the time of Colonel
William Haviland's Montreal campaign, John was a sturdy and
impressionable 8 years of age, living at Haviland Hollow, N.Y. only 225
miles south of Crown Point. He could not have been unaware of his
namesake's exemplary military exploits. Indeed, John could have
become so motivated that 16 years later, at the age of 24, he forsook
the pacifism of his Quaker upbringing in favour of militant loyalty to
King George III during the Revolutionary War.
(1) Horwood, H.A. and Butts, Edward. Pirates and Outlaws of Canada:
1610-1932. Toronto 1984. Butts wrote the chapter on Simon Girty, the
subject of his history dissertation for Professor James Reaney at the
University of Western Ontario.
(2) Virginia Gazette, 24 May 1751, Burton Historical Collection,
Detroit Public Library, microfilm #93, Reel 1.
(3) Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5. account of Simon Girty
by Douglas Leighton.
(4) Some sources say the Girty family was held three years; Phillip
Hoffman, an American working on a new biography, concluded that eight
years is correct.
(5) L.C. Draper manuscripts, State Historical Society of Wisconsin,
10E, 152, testimony of Cornelius Quick before Ralph Foster, J.P., W.D.
[Western District] 15 Jan. 1849. Information sent by Dwight Girty, of
Windsor, a direct descendant.
(6) Fryer, Mary Beacock, King's Men, Toronto 1980. The massacre
at the Moravian village of Gnadenhutten is recounted on pp. 170-173.
(7) Draper Ms. 10E, 153, 154, testimony of Capt. William Caldwell, 10
Feb. 1849; 10E, 157, 158, 159; testimony of Catherine, wife of Simon
Girty, 9 Feb. 1849. Courtesy of Dwight Girty.
(8) Master Muster Roll. The King's Royal Regiment of New York, by
E.A. Cruikshank. Toronto, 1931, 1984, pp. 227-228.
(9) Archives of Ontario. fiat 2808 dated June 1816.
(10) McNiff's Map, 1st November 1786. "Lunenburg, or, the
Old Eastern District." by J.F. Pringle. Cornwall, 1890, 1980, p.