The Beginning of the Varnum’s in Canada: Crestleaf.com’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds: April

Mary Ann Varnum, Mary Ann Cornish

My brother-in-law asked if I knew anything about the Varnum branch of his and my husband’s family tree.  I knew that when Thomas Cornish  came from Cornwall, England, he married Mary Ann Varnum. On their gravestone, it indicates that Mary Ann was a “native of Quebec”.  That was the extent of my knowledge of the Varnum side of things.  He sent over some print-outs of family history and I glanced at them.  Of course, with my love of family and history connections, I took to the internet to research more.

American Flag, American Revolution, Patriots

When I ran a search on the name Varnum, there was a wealth of information about countless Varnums with significant contributions to American History.  George Varnum, my husband and brother-in-law’s 9 X great-grandfather, came from England around 1635, with his son Samuel.  They were early settlers of Ipswich and Dracut, Massachusetts.  Samuel’s son, Colonel Joseph Bradley Varnum, and himself, had involvement in King Philip’s War, a last effort of Native American’s to drive the British settlers out.

There was also another Joseph Bradley Varnum, Colonel Joseph’s grandson, who served in the Revolutionary War and later became a Senator and Speaker of the House.  And then there was General James Mitchell Varnum, Joseph’s older brother.  He was one of Brown University’s (then Rhode Island College) first graduates and practiced law.  Besides serving in the Revolutionary War he was a member of Continental Congress.  Joseph and James were 2nd cousins 7 X removed from my husband and brother-in-law.  The list of Varnums with a place in American history went on.  Many of them were influential Patriots during the American Revolution.  Which leads to the question, how did the Varnums end up in Canada to which Mary Ann would be a “native of Quebec”?

United Empire Loyalist

With significant sleuthing, I found a record for Benjamin Varnum on the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada’s (UELAC) website.  Going back to the family tree, Benjamin was a great-grandson of the Samuel Varnum that originally came with his father, George, from England.  In his biography on the UELAC site, it states: “[Benjamin] was a UEL [United Empire Loyalist] who was disowned by his family and expunged from its records”.  In other words, he was on the opposing side to most of his relations during the Revolution.  He was disowned and according to the UELAC, his American Verification of Death states he died in infancy.  Imagine a family going so far as to have another member completely removed from records.

Thomas and Mary Ann (Varnum) Cornish

Thomas and Mary Ann (Varnum) Cornish

Benjamin Varnum, who went against the grain of his prominent American kin, began the Varnum legacy in Canada when he moved to Sutton, Quebec in 1770.  He was grandfather to Mary Ann who married Thomas Cornish, and 5 X great-grandfather to my husband and his brother. Digging into the past to discover more about the Varnum family has only piqued my interest which will, no doubt, lead to further research.  The question that is resting foremost in my mind now is, why did Benjamin choose to be a Loyalist?  What is the story for his venture to Quebec and his descendants to head West to Upper Canada where Mary Ann met her husband.  And the family history search obsession continues…

12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds

Notes

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.  “Barnum, Joseph Bradley, (1750/1751 – 1821).”  Accessed April 29, 2016.  http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/bodisplay.pl?index=V000074.

Brown Daily Herald, The.  “The Revolutionary War: Hosting rebellion by Drew Williams.”  Accessed April 30, 2016.  http://250.browndailyherald.com/the-revolutionary-war-hosting-rebellion/.

Brown University Office of the Curator.  “Varnum, James Mitchell (1748 – 1789).”  Accessed April 29, 2016.  http://library.brown.edu/cds/portraits/display.php?idno=93.

Ginger Genie Blog, The.  https://thegingergenie.com/12/14/28/cornish-comes-to-canada/.

Google Books.  “Crossing to Freedom by Elizabeth Wells Bardwell.”  Accessed April 30, 2016.  http://bit.ly/103u8kp.

Google Books.  “The Prominent Families of the United States of America by Arthur Meredyth Burke.”  Accessed April 30, 2016.  http://bit.ly/SAYTTz.

History.com.  “American Revolution History.”  Accessed April 30, 2016.  http://www.history.com/american-revolution/american-revolution-history.

History.com.  “King Philip’s War.”  Accessed April 30, 2016.  http://www.history.com/topics/native-american-history/king-philips-war.

United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada.  “Loyalist Directory: Benjamin Varnum.”  Accessed April 29, 2016.  http://uelac.org/Loyalist-Info/detail.php?letter=v&line=110.

 

Advertisements

Crestleaf.com’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds: July

Elijah Vincent: “A terror to all those who opposed the crown”

United Empire Loyalist

From my genealogical researching, I’ve discovered many of my ancestors were farmers.   They seemed to live uneventful lives, at least when you only have census records and family lists as data to go by. Farmer John married Jane Farmer’s Daughter and they had 8 children. Those eight children married farmers and farmers’ daughters and they had 8 children and so on.

Every once in a while, you hit something solid in your proverbial digging.  Through another of my Dad’s lines, I uncovered Elijah Vincent, a United Empire Loyalist, who came from the United States after the American Revolution.  Elijah, himself, was a 6th generation American when he was born in Eastchester, New York on Christmas Eve 1759.  He was the oldest of 6 children born to Lewis Vincent and Abigail Fowler.  His 4 X great-grandfather, Adrian Vincent, came from Belgium to America in 1633 but it was Elijah who brought this line to Canada.

That isn’t the interesting part.  In July 1781, during the Revolutionary War, Elijah’s brother, Gilbert, a blacksmith, refused to shoe a French officer’s horse because it was a Sunday.  A conflict ensued and the officer killed Gilbert.  When Elijah heard of his brother’s death, he sought vengeance.  As an ensign for James DeLancey’s Westchester Refugees, he laid hiding in some bushes and when a French group of hussars passed, he fatally shot their captain.  According to Commemorative Discourse Delivered at the Centennial Anniversary of the Erection and Sixtieth of the Consecration of St. Paul’s Church, East Chester, Elijah “throughout this whole region became a terror to all those who opposed the crown”.

Isn’t this the stuff that Revolutionary War movies are made of?  In fact, wasn’t it already a movie?  Oh no, I’m thinking of “The Patriot” and clearly that wasn’t about a “Loyalist”.  It was an intriguing research project to say the least.  There do seem to be some details that show up differently in sources.  For example, some sources indicate the officer in need of the blacksmith was French and others say American.  Some stories say that Gilbert Vincent was shot and killed and others say he was sliced apart by a sword and lived.  The heart of the story remains consistent, Gilbert Vincent, a Blacksmith, was killed or critically injured and Elijah sought vengeance and killed a captain opposed to the Loyalists.

He married Abigail Bayeux in 1791 and brought his family officially to Canada in 1796.  He settled in Willoughby Township which is now a part of the Region of Niagara Falls.  Of his four children, his oldest daughter, Abigail, my 5 x great-grandmother, married John Amerman and settled in Bayham Township close to modern-day Straffordville, ON.  Many of her descendants remain close to Bayham Township to this day, myself included.  It’s an area rich with my family history. What else might I unearth in this Vincent line?

12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

1.  Wilkerson, Lyn. Historical Cities-New York City. (USA: Caddo, 2010) Google Books, accessed July 9, 2015.

2.   “America Meets France Outside New York City,” accessed July 9, 2015, http://web.ncf.ca/dc253/Adams%20Ground/America%20Meets%20France%20Outside%20New%20York.pdf.

3.   Coffey, Rev. William Samuel.  Commemorative Discourse Delivered at the Centennial Anniversary of the Erection and Sixtieth of the Consecration of St. Paul’s Church, East Chester.  (New York: Perris and Browne, 1866)  Google Books, accessed July 9, 2010.

4.  Scharf, John Thomas.  History of Westchester County: New York, Including Morrisania, Kings Bridge and West Farms: Volume 1.  (Philedelphia: L. E. Preston & Co., 1886)  Google Books, accessed July 9, 2015.

5.  “Elijah Vincent,” accessed July 9, 2015, http://trees.ancestry.ca/tree/45656741/person/6889121046.