Tracing my Mormon pioneer roots because sometimes our story begins with those who came before.
Chapter 2 – Loyalty and Revolution
Once in America, John Wood set about building a new life for himself, including moving from Massachusetts to New York. The Old Dutch Church of Kingston in New York kept a meticulous register of baptisms and marriages. These records showed on January 12, 1682, John Wood married Johanna. This register also indicates their son Edward’s baptism, my first American-born ancestor on my mother’s side of our family tree.
Edward grew up and married Susanna. Together they had ten children, including Daniel, born around 1734. Daniel married Margaret in 1762. They had nine children. One of their sons, Henry, married Elizabeth, and together they had fourteen children.
By this time, the Wood family had lived in America for over a hundred years. Henry and Elizabeth’s second child, born in Dutchess (or Duchess) County, New York, in 1800, was named Daniel after his great grandfather. This Daniel became my great, great, great grandfather.
The American Revolutionary War, which began in 1775, pitted The Thirteen Colonies against the British Monarchy. It may be too simplistic to view the revolution as a battle for control by children weary of their overbearing parents. Many colonists were tired of being ruled by a government thousands of miles away. Loyalty to the crown seemed an old-fashioned idea, primarily since most colonists had only known life on American soil.
Those who remained loyal to the crown during the war were called Loyalists. In 1783, after England lost, many Loyalists were offered land or monetary compensation both to lessen the blow of losses suffered and as a reward. Some Loyalists continued living in the colonies, while others found it in their best interest to return to Britain or relocate to Canada, Florida, or the Caribbean islands, still under British control.
Even twenty years after the Revolutionary War ended, Britain was still motivated to expand its powerful reach into Canada. They offered 200-acre land grants to English-speaking colonists willing to bring their skills and hard work to clear and farm the rugged, untamed land. It didn’t matter that indigenous tribes already occupied the land.
Like Daniel’s parents, Henry and Elizabeth, those who took advantage of this invitation were called “Late Loyalists.” They were part of the farmers and tradespeople who were given Canadian land in exchange for swearing loyalty to King George III. It’s unclear if the Wood family’s loyalty began during the Revolutionary war or if the offer of a substantial tract of land prompted their commitment to the British crown.
Regardless, in 1803, when Daniel was just three years old, Henry and Elizabeth left New York and traveled north. Thus continued our family’s legacy of emigrating. Their destination was Ernestown, a township in eastern Ontario, Canada.
Unlike John Wood, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean, this generation of Woods crossed the St. Lawrence River, which divided America from Canada. Without bridges, they may have used a rudimentary ferry system to carry themselves and their livestock, household, and farming supplies across the river.
Depending on where they crossed, they may have stopped to rest on one of the islands in what is now The Thousand Islands National Park. They may have fished for perch or bass or hunted bigger game like moose or deer to feed themselves. These islands, made from the worn-down tops of ancient mountains, had been used for thousands of years by native migrating hunters and fishers.
My family benefited from the choices of self-determination available to people who looked like them. This Canadian emigration and gift of land provided an economic advantage. It also displaced indigenous villages and depleted the food supply previously available in the waters and land.
As is a familiar theme in our history, we are so often in a rush to forget. To some is given. To some is taken away.
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In the meantime, here are a couple other blogs I have written:
Snake (teresareneebain.com) This blog is about who we are, who we want to be and the distance between the two.
Writing With Others (teresareneebain.com) This blog is my reflections on the writing process after attending a writing session with other writer.