Tuesday, June 10, 2014

8) Researching the Life of British Loyalist Abner Wolcott: Thank You, Roger Wolcott

Roger Wolcott 1946-2012

Thank you for your research about your ancestor, Abner Wolcott
 thank you to your family
 who generously shared your work with us
 allowed it to be posted on this blog.

FrancoAmerican Gravy

7) Researching the Life of British Loyalist, Abner Wolcoot

And now back to Abner Wolcott and his family who made their way from the Hudson-Champlain Valley up the Richelieu River to the refugee camp in Sorel, Quebec.  The Wikipedia entry on Sorel states:
"The purchase was eventually made in 1781 and Sorel became a clearing house for the steady stream of Loyalist refugees from the south. A certain number of them settled in Sorel, forming the nucleus of the English population. Another addition was Sorel being selected as one of the stations for "Military Invalids", or “Outside Chelsea Pensioners" as they were also called. These old soldiers and their dependents, numbering several hundreds, were sent to Sorel under the medical care of Dr. Christopher Carter.
The earliest efforts for the propagation of the Protestant religion in Canada were made in Sorel. The continued influx of Loyalists during the year 1783 into the Seigniory prompted the population to search out a permanent Minister, and so at the end of the year, a petition was sent to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, begging them to send a Minister of the Gospel to reside in the Seigniory.
Following the request, the Reverend John Doty embarked during the month of April 1784 at Gravesend, England, and arrived at Quebec in June, and at Sorel on the 4th July 1784, where he celebrated Divine Service and preached his first sermon. This is the date of the foundation of the Anglican parish in Sorel and the firstAnglican mission in Canada.
The chapel where the faithful united was a wooden building located at the end of King Street, a few steps from the Richelieu market. This building had already served as a military storehouse."

Abner Wolcott lost no time acquiring property in the region. Thanks to Wolcott cousins in Quebec and especially the research of Roger Wolcott, I can post the chronology of Abner's land transactions beginning with lands he purchased 65 kilometers southwest of Sorel on the island known as 
"Ile de Bouchard".

Many of the records listed below were transcribed from the notarial records of
Barthelemy Joliette

If you read the entries you will soon see that the lands Abner purchased were primarily on the Ile de Bouchard in the Saint Lawrence.  On Google maps, the island is still there between Vercheres and Saint Sulpice.

Photo from Lanaudiere Tourism

It looks like it is possible via the Lanaudiere Tourist web page, to book a boat tour of the island along with L'Ile de Ronde.  Check It Out Here.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bricks, Red Bricks on the Old Croton Aqueduct

Yesterday was a beautiful June day and I took a tour of the Old Croton Aqueduct in Ossining New York - a tour that brought you below ground level down into the water tunnel now dry. Well, relatively dry that is.  Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct run the tour and there was a knowledgeable guide who was also on the board of the non profit.  Once inside, it is possible to grasp the number of red bricks that were required to construct the 41 mile conduit for New York City's water. The bricks surround you when you are inside the tunnel.

The construction of the aqueduct began in 1837 and began pumping its water into New York City by 1842.  The Cholera Epidemic of 1832 was a great motivator to bring a source of fresh drinking water to the city.

The tunnels are constructed of red bricks skillfully assembled then plastered over with a water resistant cement that would not crumble.  This may be the same cement devised by Canvas White in the construction of the Erie Canal in the previous decade.  This discovery was described in "The Wedding of the Waters" by Peter Bernstrin. (W.W. Norton Co. 2005) pages 212-214.

Our tour guide told us the need for red bricks spurred the brick making industry in Verplanck, Westchester County.  This made me recall a picture of the St Hilaire 's in Cohoes. The men of the family worked in a brick foundry supplying the red bricks for the construction of the textile mills.

By the way, the tour is highly recommended!

6) Researching the Life of a British Loyalist: Abner Wolcott, Loyalty to the Crown

Abner's Loyalty to the Crown

Exactly what Abner Wolcott did as a Loyalist, isn't documented with sources. The Wolcott Society states he hauled provisions for the British:
Abner Wolcott, b. 1749, d. 1833 Sorrel, Quebec. He purchased 150 acres of land at New Haven VT in 1775, was a Loyalist, and hauled provisions for the British. He was taken prisoner in 1777 and his property declared forfeited in 1778. In 1778 he escaped to Canada where he was given compensation for his losses by the British government in 1783 at Sorel, Quebec. By 1787 he had settled on Isle St. Bouchard in the St. Lawrence River, in Vercheres parish. He and son, John, returned to Vergennes, Vermont, about 1800, and soon after he returned to Canada where they took the Oath of Allegiance to the Crown in 1803. During this visit to Vermont he is said to have visited a Charlotte Wolcott, b. c.1773, who married Hosea Bridges 1797 at Western MA, the marriage also recorded at Brookfield MA; m. (1) Catherine Griffen 1772 Oxford, CT, m. (2) Mrs. Dorothy Redman 1821. NOTE: Members of this family usually spelled their name Wilcott or Willcott in Canada, but some later changed to Wolcott when they returned to the United States.
Source: The Wolcott Family Web Pages accessed 6 June 2014.  

Another story states Abner was at the Battle of Saratoga, fled after the battle to a refugee camp in Sorel, Quebec. The Battles at Saratoga were fought on September 19th and October 7th, 1777.  When reading the following documents in the Vermont Archives,  Abner appears to still be in the present day vicinity of Vermont and Skenesborough (present day Whitehall) in the following months.  Not only was he present in January 1778, he appears to be still useful in the service of the continental forces which is very strange because the week before the Council and President Thomas Chittenden authorized a Mr. Eli Roberts to dispose of the property of DAVID REMMINGTON and ABNER WOLCOTT.  Perhaps for the well being of his wife and children he cooperated with the Continentals until he could safely bring his family to Sorel, Quebec

If there is guilt by association, Abner Wolcott has that too. His father in law, Charles Griffin is documented on the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada  (UELAC) as a trooper in Jessups's Rangers, the Loyalist band of men who rallied around Ebenezar and Edward Jessup along the upper Hudson River in present day Warren County, New York.  The UELAC site provides a download of a paper by Bill Glidden, a historian associated with the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga and the UELAC, about Jessup's Troops.  I highly recommend checking out his story about the Jessup Brothers.

So there you have it.  For Mylott Family members who check out this blog, you are descended from two Tories or Loyalists. Take your pick.  Abner Wolcott (174 -1833) was the great grandfather of Robert Mylott (Robert Milot) born in Vercheres in 1832, immigrated to Whitehall, married, raised a family, farmed and died there in 1907.  Charles Griffin (1720-   ), Abner's father in law,  trooper in the Jessup Corps, was Robert Mylott's great great grandfather.

5) Researching the Life of a British Loyalist: Abner Wolcott - 3 Dangling Threads

 Abner Wolcott 1747-1833
 his wife
Catherine Griffin 1753- 1821

I am going to put aside the origins of Abner Wolcott and his grandfather to focus on the next little mystery with the documentation of his marriage to Catherine Griffin in Oxford, Connecticut Colony on January 8, 1772 or was it December 4th 1751?  The Barbour Collection: "The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records", Vol 8 - Derby 1655-1852, General Editor - Lorraine Cook White, Baltimore, Maryland, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1997, p. 229 uses the December date.

So now there are two dangling threads that need to be snipped or pulled: 1) Abner's parents, birthplace and 2) marriage dates with Catherine Wisebury.

After his marriage records of Abner Wolcott's divided loyalties and the Abner researcher is making a note to locate and read the original marriage document. Sometime after their marriage, Abner and Catherine moved west like many other colonists in the lands of the Wentworth or New Hampshire Grants.  These were the lands, east of the Hudson River and Lake Champlain, claimed by New Hampshire as part of their westward expansion and New Work as part of their northern New Netherland legacy. Eventually, the settlement created the state of Vermont.

Thanks to the kind person who created this map and put on Wikipedia

and then here is #3 dangling thread.....
Accordingly, Abner purchased 150 acres of land in the vicinity of Castleton, New Hampshire Grants or today Vermont.  This was also where his father in law, Charles Griffen, acquired land.  As an Abner researcher, want to locate the deed whereby Abner acquired this land after his marriage and before the American Revolution because he was soon to loose it and everything he had except his life, wife and children!