On Monday, September 8, 2014 I visited Brock University’s Special Collections. They have a Loyalist Collection there. My goal was to seek out information on Solomon Goss, my 4th great-grandfather who, according to the Pennsylvania history books was held prisoner at Forty Fort but escaped? I was hoping that Lt. Colonel John Butler the man who was responsible for this attack on the valley of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania would shed light on this subject of prisoners.
My father’s side has the potential for Loyalists to be included in his family tree. I do know that some members of the Goss family were Loyalists but I will talk about that subject in future posts on my Solomon Goss blog.
Here is the link to the Loyalist collection at Brock: http://www.brocku.ca/library/collections/special-collections-archives
http://www.brockloyalisthistorycollection.ca/collection.html scroll to the bottom and click on the link and you will get a very nice list.
My lodging for the night had been the Heritage House Bed and Breakfast in St. Catharines. It is about five minutes from Brock. It is on Edmond Street between Catherine and George Streets. It has steep stairs so keep that in mind. It was very lovely and breakfast was delicious. I was well cared for. Make sure you get all you need from your car they turned the lights out and it was very dark and I did not have a flashlight.
My route was west on Welland and south on Ontario and then south on Glenridge Road. I parked in the visitor parking turning right at the Brock University main campus sign.
My destination was the Schmon Tower and the 10th floor. Visitor parking is at the entrance near the sign so you do have to walk well into the main park of the campus.
Once you are at the building go into the entry way and you will find the elevators. It is a little tricky to get to the 10th floor. Go past the elevators and through the doors on the left and walk around to the other side of the elevators and then you can go up. You cannot access the upper floors from the first floor. You can see the upper floor elevators through the glass but you cannot go through the locked door. I was fortunate because I ran into Dave the Archivist of the Special Collections and he knew who I was from my email to him a month ago. So he took me up to the 10th floor and got me started.
My main task was to look at the John Butler Papers by Smy. It was a transcription/abstraction of the correspondence and was in four volumes with dates. I targeted Volume II 1778 to 1779, which had the Wyoming Valley information. Mr. Smy had abstracted and transcribed a variety of letters not just from John Butler but other individuals. It was very interesting.
Source: “The Butler Papers: documents and papers relating to Colonel Butler and his corp of rangers 1711-1977” in four volumes, by William A. Smy, 1994.
I had written down my list of books and documents to review but was required to write it all down on their form. So be prepared to spend about 10 minutes getting your order ready. I suppose you could ask them to scan and email you the form in advance, it is at least worth a try?
Now I could have looked at microfilm of the Haldimand papers but I decided that Mr. Smy was probably comprehensive enough to tell me that I was not going to get any details from Lt. Colonel Butler. Mr. Smy has the UE initials and he may have left something out based on his perspective but I think he was probably very thorough. I did take photos of the pages that interested me and will discuss this at a later date on my Solomon Goss blog.
Lt. Colonel John Butler was writing from the perspective of a soldier reporting to his superiors and he wanted it to look good of course. He was not interested in personalizing the individuals he attacked in New York or Pennsylvania. To him they where rebels and nothing else. Remember I did say one country’s hero is another’ villain?
Here are a couple of titles I took a look at, not all:
“The Burning of the Valleys, Daring Raids from Canada Against the New York Frontier in the fall of 1780,” by Gavin K. Watt was a nice book, a little late for my Goss family but very interesting. They seemed to think that the area of the Susquehannah was a New York dispute about land. My understanding is that it was between Pennsylvania and Connecticut?
“An Annotated Nominal Roll of Butler’s rangers 1777-1784 with Documentary Sources,” compiled and arranged by Lt. Col. William A. Smy, OMM, CD, UE. This listed the soldier and then gave information about them. I was particularly interested in McDonell’s.
“Loyalists & Early Settler on the Niagara River Parkway,” by Gail Woodruff U.E., 1968. This book was well done and I really liked the sources which can give you ideas for research. Here is a brief list: Crown land papers, books about the subject and specific locations, Haldimand Collection, 17th report of the report of the Dept. of Public Records Archives of Ontario, The Niagara Gleaner (newspapers), wills, Heir and Devisee Commission etc.
The U.E.L. Association also has a page listing sources and that is a good place to start: http://www.uelac.org/
For those researching the very early years of the Glengarry area (Eastern or Lunenburg districts). The McNiff Map is a must see. This is an index on CD Rom.
“Index to the 1786 McNiff Maps of the Townships of Lancaster, Charlottenburgh, Cornwall, Osnabruck, Williamsburgh and Matilda (The Loyalist Maps),” This is a CD and it is very good and it also includes information from the book “Lunenburgh or the Old Eastern District Its Settlement and Early Progress.” This last book is at Internet Archive.
There is so much more that one could research in this Loyalist collection. This is not the only collection for Loyalists. I will mention them as I travel along.
I did ask about the submission papers that an applicant would prepare and give to a loyalist organization. I wanted to know where they keep these applications and how do you access them? The special collections attendants didn’t know but I have seen books that abstract these applications and I assume that there may be privacy issues. I also assume you may have to be a member to access them? I do know that some Loyalist were just given the letters as an honor to them whether papers of where submitted later I do not know?
I encourage you to visit them at Brock they where all very helpful and welcoming on the Special Collections floor. The Visitor parking is small so get their early. The person who gathered up my choices was efficient and helpful pulling items quickly and piling them up next to me as she found them.
Once I had gone through reviewing my choices it was time to move on. I stopped by the student cafeteria and purchased a hamburger. Sitting in a university student cafeteria always brings back memories of my college days at Central in Ellensburg and at the University of Washington which was a long time ago.