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: Here Lieth the body of George Fikes soldier [in?] The 2d BattnKs. R1 Regt of New york In Capt Gumerfalls Compy, who departed this Life Novemb The 30th1782 Aged 27 Years [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 illness. Notes 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 worlds. (1) 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 Indian Department. 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. (5) 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 misinformation." 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. 410.
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|Publication:||The Loyalist Gazette|
|Date:||Mar 22, 1996|
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