It is terribly easy for scholars to ‘miss the forest for the trees.’ About a month ago, I emerged from my den of research to give a biographical presentation about Christopher Sauer III. At the end of my talk, I was caught off guard by an obvious, down-to-earth question. “Why,” my sensible classmate asked me, “was a German so loyal to the British cause in the American Revolution?”
Often, we can only guess at what children of the past experienced in their young lives as it was not usual for them create documents of their own. This was poignantly true for the children of the African Diaspora during the eighteenth century. A record as basic as a name, however, can offer a way into an historical culture.
There has been a surge of interest in historical handwriting in the past month as people volunteer their time to help institutions with crowd-sourced transcription projects such as Transcribe from the Nova Scotia Archives and the volunteer initiative from the
How do you go about locating where a person lived 240 years ago in a place you’ve never been? This was my situation when I started researching New Brunswick loyalist, Gasper Maybee, who was originally from Bergen County, New Jersey. Through using a series of modern and historical maps, first-hand accounts, and some very helpful local expertise, I was able to pinpoint the area where he grew up and inherited land.
First brought to Nova Scotia as a young shoot in 1786, the “Bishop Pear Tree” still stands—gnarled but solid—near the edge of the Ken-Wo Golf Club in New Minas, Nova Scotia. The young tree was carried from Connecticut by Peter Bishop Jr. returning with his new wife to Nova Scotia, two hundred and thirty-four years ago.
Many forgotten and often trivial incidents of daily life can be found by just a quick glance at historical newspapers, including the loss of Basil Rorison’s sorrel mare. Rorison was a member of the provincial loyalist regiment, the King’s Orange Rangers, and misplaced his horse while at Harlem, New York during the American Revolution. We are lucky today that most modes of transportation do not tend to wander off on their own—with our possessions attached!
Clergy were few and far between in the first years of loyalist settlement in New Brunswick, however, records from travelling Anglican ministers based in Gagetown, Queens County provide an early record of baptisms, marriages and deaths prior to the establishment of most churches. Many New Brunswick loyalists and their descendants may be found in these records.
On December 25, 1807, New Brunswick Loyalist Edward Winslow, Jr. wrote in his diary: “Very dull Christmas.”
The provincial loyalist regiment known as the King’s Orange Rangers travelled through the American Revolution, moving from New York to Nova Scotia, then scattering to many parts of the Atlantic World.