Loyalist History On the Ground in Kings County, New Brunswick, Part 2
(Follow link for Part 1 of Loyalist History On the Ground in Kings County, New Brunswick)
Now I had only the more adventurous phase of my expedition to complete: the Kingston Peninsula. The loyalists arriving at the St. John River in the spring of 1783 envisioned the Peninsula as a central location for their new colony. Experiencing the terrain first hand, however, I see where issues may have arisen in establishing successful farms. I was thrilled that there was a road through the grant of one of my subjects, Jonathan Ketchum, and that of his son, Samuel Ketchum. Indeed, the road was named for them—Ketchum Road. Jonathan Ketchum was a tavern keeper from Norwalk, Connecticut, a town that was burned to the ground by the British Army in 1777, making the Ketchum family refugees for the duration of the Revolution. I headed to Ketchum’s grant first, avoiding portions of the road along the Kennebecasis River damaged by spring flooding.
Ketchum, like Fowler, applied for additional land in Springfield Parish for himself and his younger sons, pleading that his first grant was not fertile enough to sustain his family. I can also understand why it was important for Ketchum to lead a petition to the government on behalf of the farmers of the Lower Norton area in 1785 to fight for access to the sunken meadows between the Kingston Peninsula and Darlings Island, a key resource for area residents.
My poor car did not know what it was in for, as the Ketchum Road turned to dirt after a bit. It was clear most of Ketchum’s former grant was now forested and uninhabited. I decided to trust Google Maps and kept going, and the road did end up joining with the main route to Kingston at Kingston Corner.
At the crossroads of the village of Kingston is Trinity Church, the oldest Anglican church building in New Brunswick, completed in 1789 and “updated” to Gothic style in 1857. Kingston, founded in 1783, was the original shire town for Kings County, which was relocated to Hampton in 1870. Many of the loyalists settling on the Kingston Peninsula, like Ketchum and Fairchild, were from Connecticut. Ketchum, one of the first vestrymen of Trinity, was buried in the cemetery, but a headstone has not survived. Again, it would have been a significant journey here on new roads in the late eighteenth century (they are still not great!) to Kingston.
While in the Trinity Anglican Church Cemetery, I spotted a few familiar names from working with loyalist documents, including Israel Hoyt, a shoemaker from Connecticut, and Silas Raymond, a carpenter also from Connecticut. Hoyt and Raymond were in the first expedition from the “Spring Fleet” and chose the location for settlement that would become Kingston. Along with Ketchum, they were original vestrymen for Trinity Church.
Historians and researchers do not always have the luxury of visiting the region and locations which they are studying, but if the opportunity arises, doing so gives a much better sense of lived experiences, even with the inevitable geographical and structural changes.
Please check our “New Brunswick Loyalist Journeys” story maps page in the fall of 2019 for the release of the biographies of ten Kings County loyalists and find out more about the people featured in this post.
Leah Grandy holds a PhD in History and works as a Microforms Assistant at the Harriet Irving Library.
SUBJECT: loyalist, New Brunswick, geography, religion, cemetery, Anglican, transportation, mapping, Jonathan Ketchum
Brenda Turner (not verified)
Sat, 07/06/2019 - 12:31
Biggar family - Loyalists
Hello. I was impressed reading this story as I made a similar pilgrimage in the fall of 2017. I live in Ottawa. I had driven a chum to Halifax for a family history conference where she was presenting, and I had asked her if she minded if we stopped on the way back near Sussex, NB, to give me time to investigate the family of a chum I had been researching, whose family name is Biggar. By the time we made that trip, I had found records linking the family to another clearly Loyalist family, and notes from the military records of Loyalists identifying one J Biggar, a "taylor" with a wife and child, but couold locate no land grant records for him. They had farmed near Hebron, and I had located graves for other Biggar family members at the Gosilne Cemetery which I wanted to visit. It seemed to take forever wandering down dirt tracks before I finally located it, and yes, there were LOTS of Biggar graves there.
One thing which was significant to me was that no grave could be located for the original settler, John Biggar. Then, after 20 years of researching my own family's history here in west Quebec from the time when it was just being surveyed and opened for settlement in the 1820's, I knew that before there were roads, before there were any public facilities, and before there were even churches, most setttlers who died would be buried on the family's land. My own family here had been buried on private land. One of my great grandmothers was memorialized on her husband's headstone, him having died thirty years after her. However, I have also obtained copies of family letters which said she had been bured behind the blackberry bushes. And so it goes ..... Cheers, Brenda Turner
Mon, 07/08/2019 - 08:30
Thank you for your thoughts and comments on family history and burials!
James Hoyt (not verified)
Sun, 11/03/2019 - 11:29
Interesting.According to my ancestry data Israel Hoyt is my 5th great grandfather.
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