PostHeaderIconThe United Empire Loyalist Experience

Brock Shaver

Seen Through the Prism of the Shaver Family

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Brock Shaver,
History 461
Dr. Colin Read
University of Western Ontario
(used with permission)

The lives of the United Empire Loyalists encompass a wide variety of experiences. The American Revolution split families and social classes alike. The reasons for remaining loyal to the King of Great Britain were varied from vested interests to idealism and sometimes coercion. Each individual felt the Revolution in one way or another and responded to it the best way they knew how. Many families were split on the issue which was in certain aspects a civil war as well. The loyalists left their homes in the Thirteen Colonies for Britain, Nova Scotia, and Canada where problems to get re-established presented their own problems. Yet through their refugee status the outline of many lives ended with the same struggle in the wilderness of British North America.

The life of John Shaver is an example of the complexities involved in the loyalist movement. A German immigrant who settled in northern New Jersey ten years before hostilities broke out at Lexington and Concord, he was probably a common farmer. Sometime during the war he joined Colonel John Butler's Rangers and soldiered in one of the most active and successful Provincial units in the British Army. After the defeat of the King's forces John Shaver and his family were compelled to migrate into friendlier territory. With other Rangers he settled in the Niagara region, across the river from the base of the regiment. Outside of the village of Ancaster he received his crown grant probably after squatting on the land. After his death in the 1790's his son, William, built up a high economic standing in his community, while being a pillar of the Methodist faith. In two generations the Shaver family had travelled from Germany and settled two frontiers and finally established a firm foundation in Upper Canada.

This essay uses a lot of conjecture because of the lack of evidence for many crucial life decisions taken by the historical actors. Speculation about the choices to be made puts light on the immeasurable variables that go into one person's decision to follow one path from another. During a civil conflict when there is no easy direction to take, social behavior becomes an inconstant thing and the loyalists demonstrate the result of taking a stand, in this instance in favor of the status quo, and how they had to deal with the consequences of being on the losing aide. John Shaver is a good example of the turmoil the Revolution caused in one family's life; the jolt of the immigrant's experience combined with the combat and dislocation that resulted in his stand to back the royal authorities.

The name 'Shaver' derives from the Anglicization of the German 'Schaeffer' which means 'shepherd.' Other forms of the word include a wide variety of spellings like 'Shafer' (spelling used by John Shaver), 'Schaffer,' 'Shaffer,' etc. Because of the common use of this name in this period the bits of information of John Shaver's movements need careful cross-referencing to ensure that the right man is being referred to. A large number of Shavers with no relation settled in eastern Ontario and left a great many more records then the Ancaster Shavers. Finally, for the sake of simplicity 'Shaver' is used throughout the paper to bridge the spelling from the first generation with the second.
The lives of John Shaver and his son, William, represent the fortunes of one common family's journey in a time of great stress.

The tombstone of Wilhelm Shaver's son, John, states that the family was 'native of High Germany.'[1] Traditionally, it is said that they left Europe through Rotterdam on the schooner 'Betsy' and arrived in Philadelphia in 1765. [2] The Netherlands was a haven for religious non-conformists. Protestant creeds were tolerated because of the Calvinist and political make-up of the country, where they would not be in other parts of Europe. [3] Judging by the family's later staunch support of Wesleyan Methodism, a dissenting denomination, religion may have had an input in the family's decision to leave Germany. But most of the major religious upheaval occurred in the preceding century. If the Shavers were to be Methodists then Lutheranism or Reformed Church appear to have the closest doctrinal connection to make the leap of faith. It would be unlikely that Wilhelm Shaver would be part of the 'Plain Folk' with their peculiar ways only to have his son become somewhat more mainline. They did not settle with a group like the Drunkards, Moravians, or Quakers, so that non-conformity would not be a factor in their emigration. Other problems such as difficulties with authorities for different reasons, or problems in finding a proper livelihood may have led to Wilhelm's decision to leave Germany. Rotterdam was the Atlantic port for one of the main highways of Germany, the Rhine River. [4] Without evidence it is difficult to conjecture events in Europe that would cause this family to emigrate.

The magnetic pull of relatives already in the New World may have also been a factor. Wilhelm, who died in 1767, had a least three sons: John (founder of the Ancestor, Ontario, Shavers), Frederick and William. [5] A third son, Peter, is cited in some secondary sources but not others.[6] John (1739-1795) settled in Oxford Township, Sussex County, New Jersey.[7] His brother Frederick (1747-1823) lived and died in the county of Sussex (since subdivided into Warren County) at Log Gaol (now called Johnsonburg). [8] The youngest, William (1751-1832), ran a store at Marksboro north of Log Gaol.[9] A Peter Shaver appears in the Census of New Jersey, 1772-1773 and lived in Oxford Township also.[10] A number of variations of 'Shaver' appeared in the Census for all of New Jersey. [11] Because of the variety of spellings and the wide dispersal over the colony it would be tenuous to link them but the latter Peter did have his named spelled the same way as the John Shaver of Oxford Township (though not the way it was spelled on his petition for crown land grant). [12] Spelling was an imprecise science so that this may not mean much, but the proximity of the two Shavers of Oxford Township may reveal more connection if evidence could be found in the region. In neighboring Hunterdon County there were two Williams each spelling their names differently, in Reading and Tweksbury. [13] However, it is skeptical that any of these Shavers were relatives. A number of wills from Sussex County show the executor of these wills to be a Peter Barnet Shaver – Barnet sounding distinctly un-German. [14] Without further evidence it can be only conjectured that relatives were a pull to the Wilhelm Shaver family.

New Jersey is a peculiar state because it has two 'poles' of attraction for its population: New York City and Philadelphia. [15] Both of these cities lie outside of New Jersey and at opposite sides of the state making it a product in many respects of the two metropolitan centers. [16] This is particularly true in the settling of the colony and its role in the American Revolution. [17]

New Jersey was settled late among the Thirteen Colonies. "Substantial numbers had been there less then 100 years." [18] The first large wave were Germans who crossed the Delaware River in the 1740's 'led by John Peter Bernhardt and Casper Shafer.' [19] With a growth rate of about 4% per annum of the population in the later part of the colonial period New Jersey benefited from the surging New England land hunger. [20] The first areas to be cultivated was in the fertile south of the colony known as the Newark-Piedmont Basin. [21] The market close by in the two large cities was an added advantage of the flat lands. [22] Settlement drifted northward from the basin into rougher country which included Sussex County. [23]

New Jersey was a Crown Colony with an appointed governor and a legislative assembly. [24] The last royal governor was William Franklin the son of Benjamin Franklin. His tenure, from 1763 to 1776, were marked by capable management in stressful times.[25] The colony's debt in 1764 and £300,000, the largest of any colony and ruinous at the same time. [26] Adding to the tension over the deficit, which was partly caused by the Seven Year's War, were the Intolerable Acts imposed on the American colonies by Britain to help pay for the previous war. [27] Such incidents as the Sugar Act which aggravated matters because it was enforced through the British Admiralty courts instead of the local bodies created indignation among many who resented the extra taxes anyway. [28] The 1765 Stamp Act robbed the Assembly's right to control the Governor's salary and added fuel to the fire of discontent in the 1760's, about the time that the Shaver family were arriving in North America. [29]

The New Jersey assembly initially supported rebels after the opening volleys at Lexington and Concord in April 1775. They looked upon the struggle as America's 'common cause' against the power and influence of Great Britain that was infringing on the assemblymen's prerogatives. [30] A number of the legislators and prominent men who favored the rhetoric of Revolution formed the Provincial Congress in Trenton to assume the authority they felt the assembly should assert and also to organize resistance to British Rule. [31] In August 1775 the Provincial Congress passed laws for regular elections to be held and a conscription act demanding all males between 16 and 50 years of age to 'enlist and bear arms' or be fined 4 shillings a month. [32] A Committee of Safety was to be the body of enforcement. Despite a reluctance to tax the people for the £30,000 needed to run the 10 battalions the collectors of the money were ordered to 'seize and sell goods and chattel of anyone who had not Paid." [33]

The severity of these measures and those that followed have been used to explain the numbers of 'Tories' found in the colony. [34] But despite complaints about the unfair taxation from Great Britain the dissident legislature made itself look like a worse master with these coercive measures. [35] However, the former observation is based on the assumption that the quest for independence was a normal mode of colonial political thinking. The early events of the Revolution do not support this contention. The Provincial Congress itself showed hesitation in signing the colony-state's first constitution. The vote taken on July 2, 1776, to ratify the document had 30 members abstain, 9 vote against it and only 26 of the 60 members voted for it. [36] The resolution closed with a cautious note that if 'reconciliation' with the mother country was possible then New Jersey would return to its status within the empire. [37] New Jersey was only the third province to create its own constitution at this point, following South Carolina and New Hampshire. [38] The elite of the territory were equally divided on the independence question which is understandable because of the benefits from being both a part of the official establishment and part of the British Imperial trade network. [39] Support for the uprising was limited in 1776 when a New Jersey battalion had to be withdrawn from a campaign to New York because there was no money to pay the soldiers or buy them equipment. [40 ] Throughout the war New Jersey had one of the highest number of loyalists in the Thirteen Colonies. [41] The 'middle colonies' had the staunchest Tory sympathies which included New York, Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. [42] Support for the status quo was just as prevalent if not more than the wobbling enterprise of Revolution.

Because of the polarity between Philadelphia and New York City, New Jersey was of great strategic value. The British garrison on Manhattan held the island for all of the war while Philadelphia was a rebel stronghold. [43] Whoever controlled New Jersey could neutralize either town. [44] Indeed, New Jersey became one of the main battlefields of the war with only South Carolina sustaining as much damage. [45] Much of the drama of the struggling Continental Army against the British occurred across this middle territory. Washington's famous retreat from Fort Lee to Trenton and across the Delaware River made most people consider the rebellion a lost cause after General Howe landed from Halifax and conquered New York. [46] The Revolution appeared to be finished and many left the militia while hundreds swore allegiance and signed documents attesting to their fealty to the monarch though they were rebels before. [47] The state legislature beat a hasty retreat also and the British regular troops ransacked the country between Newark and Trenton, though this was not sanctioned by the British command. [48] The effect was to inspire the opposition again and rally support around the two victories of Washington's surprise attacks in December 1776 and in the Spring of 1777. [49]

As the war progressed Essex, Monmouth, and Sussex counties stood out as the areas of highest concentration of loyalists in the colonystate. [50] Essex and Monmouth stood opposite the British stronghold of New York City. Sussex county is wedged between the borders of New York State and Pennsylvania. It was the most northerly district of the province and was the last to be settled. [51] This was partly because of its proximity to markets and major transportation routes but also because it did not have a great amount of good soil situated as it was amid the Appalachian Highlands and Kittatinny Mountain. [52] 'This peripheral location enabled it to be sidestepped by the effects of the war in the southern part of the state. [53] Contact with Pennsylvania and Now York can be seen by the number of advertisements in Pennsylvania newspapers for property in Sussex County. [54] This New Jersey area was also the subject of a lengthy border dispute with New York that was not resolved until 1826. [55]

The marginal locale of Sussex County calls into question many ideas of who the Tories were. The bulk of the loyalists were not bunched up in the upper classes but spread evenly over the populace. [56] If the area was not heavily affected by fighting then one could deduce that immigrants and new settlers to the region were greater supporters of the British than the well established colonials. However the period 1765-1775 was known as the struggling time because the land was just being broken in and cleared so that active politics was of little interest to the average settler beyond the added expense of taxes. [57] Vested interests would have the issues and resources to concern themselves with the real reasons for pushing independence. The difficulties of starting a farm from the wilderness would not lend itself to the designs of the Provincial Congress of conscripting its labor while being unable to provide any tangible benefits to show for the effort. The exact numbers of rebels, loyalists, and neutrals cannot be accurately ascertained, however, because of the lack of information and the fluidity of the social [58] fabric in the divisive conflict. With few written records of the lower and middle classes and how they felt it is difficult to pinpoint people who consistently stayed with one side or the other in sympathy and aid while not being an active combatant.

The war divided loyalties among families. [59] This was true in the case of John Shaver and his brothers. As noted above Frederick and William lived and died where they settled while the eldest, John, took up arms with Butler's Rangers for the British. Whether the two brothers were combatants or sympathizers with the rebels is open to investigation but John's participation demonstrates a divergence of opinion within the family. This split may not have been deep, if there was a rift, because Frederick's son Abram settled in the Clarkson area of Upper Canada in 1830. [60] The reason for choosing Canada over the blossoming American West could be because he had relatives in the region. However, this does show the divisiveness that the war provoked.

Both sides of the conflict claimed the same virtues and condemned the other for the same offences. These vindictive accusations increased throughout the Revolution. An anonymous writer signed 'Z' for The Royal Gazette directed the populace's attention to the huge increases in taxes demanded by the rebels' governments and deplore the "experiment in tyranny" not liberty. 'Z' was alarmed by the 'avarice' of the independence dogma because it was 'stupid' to want more happiness than the abundance they had had before the uprising. The writer directed at the opposition: "grasping at a phantom you have lost substantial freedom". [61] The Revolution was not 'fortitude' but 'false pride'. The rebel scribes employed many of the some buzz-words like 'liberty', 'freedom', and 'tyranny,' to buttress their arguments also. [62]

Newspapers of the Revolutionary period contained some clues to Sussex County conditions at the time. Advertisements for the sale of slaves were plentiful though many of the notices gave of sense of urgency and many times crises of a financial nature including the break-up of estates. [63] Also the number of widows selling their husbands estates were common. [64]Whether this was normal for the period in Sussex County or a result of the war requires further investigation in the area. Both of the patriot and royalist newspapers tried to induce recruitment for their sides. The British system encouraged enlistment by giving the recruiters higher rank and salaries and bounties for mustering companies of provincial companies of troops. [65] An example of the tactics used by these ambitious men appeared in The Royal Gazette in 1780. 'The Honorable Board of Directors of Associated Loyalists' offered those who joined their group, 'ammunition, ordinance, and rations,' and a pledge that all captured property could be kept by the troops when they were not fighting for the Crown. Also on offer was a grant of 200 acres of land in North America. [66]

Without written records it is impossible to know why John Shaver chose to fight on the side of the British. Some secondary sources say that immigrants were more prone to supporting Great Britain. [67] This could be because of an immigrant's insecurity in a foreign land and the reliability of backing the powerful status quo. But the nature of what is in effect a civil war would create insecurity for even the most secure inhabitants as the experiences of Butler's Ranger will show. The higher population of Tories in Sussex County and its proximity to New York and Pennsylvania could have tipped the scales in John Shaver's mind to fight. Though the southern region of the province was gripped in the centre of the two armies' battles, the northern region missed most of the spectacle. [68] An increased sense of stability in the Oxford Township vicinity could have given the perception that the redcoats would be the victors. The success of Butler's Rangers in the Northern Department could have contributed to this view. If the enlistment date could be obtained for John Shaver it could give added weight to this argument. But the recruitment tactics of the British were such that any possibility could be surmised. Bounties were offered for enlistment in the Provincial corps and pilfering by one regiment of another's troops was not uncommon. [69] For example, a contingent of Butler's Rangers and Sir John Johnson's Royal Regiment of New York were in the wilderness of New York. When they were to separate at a fork in the trail the Rangers persuaded the Royal Yorkers at gunpoint to continue with them to Niagara, the base of the Rangers. [70] However, coercion was not always necessary. The reputation of the Butler's Rangers magnetically attracted members of less active units. The pay was better than other groups also, though the work was more difficult to justify the higher remuneration . [71 ]

Certain sources suggest that John Shaver was at first part if the R.R.N.Y, before joining, Butler's Rangers. [72] This is only based on the rolls of the regiments' membership, cross-referencing this man with the Shavers of Eastern Ontario it can be established John Shaver of Oxford Township was not part of this regiment. Sir John Johnson's men operated very little in the province of New York. [73] After the war these troops settled in the Cornwall area of Upper Canada whereas Butler's Rangers pioneered in the Niagara and Detroit areas. [74] Butler's operations on the other hand included the district where John Shaver resided and would have been a more compelling force to join for these reasons. [75]

John Shaver was a private in Colonel John Butler's Rangers. [76] It was the most successful of the British forces in North America and established for itself the air of an elite body because of its many features and actions.

Though the Royal government believed it was only 'natural' that the colonials help in fighting the war, the regular army disliked the idea of non-professionals doing their task. Because of this attitude militia in the beginning were not given many of the benefits that the regular soldiers were given such as equal status with British officers, the use of hospitals, and pensions. The regular army's disdain for the Americans also kept the home forces away from battle in an auxiliary position building battlements and other engineer work. Such treatment dampened many loyalists ardor for joining the militia. [77] The defeat of General Burgoyne and 5000 regular troops at Saratoga in the autumn of 1777 changed the policy of leaving most of the struggle to the professionals. After the French allied themselves with the Continentals in 1778 and Spain went to war against Great Britain to recapture Gibraltar, the metropole was faced with a manpower shortage and thus gave the provincials many of the benefits denied them earlier. [78] But the complete equality with the regular troops was never conferred on the militia.

The British divided their forces into four different ranks: 'militia, Provincial Corps of the British Army, regulars of the American establishment, and regulars of the British establishment. [79] To appease the disgruntled, units with promise were made a part of the 'American establishment' with hopes of rising into the 'British establishment' offered to the very best the colony could muster. Below these two designations were the Provincial Corps of the British Army and the militia.[80] The Governor of Canada, General Frederick Haldimand, had three 'below—strength' regiments under his command: the Royal Highland Emigrants, the King's Royal Regiment of New York, and Butler's Rangers. [81] The first group were made a part of the British regular establishment because many of the troops were veterans of the Seven Years War who had settled in Canada and thus were disciplined in European methods of soldiery. [82] Their successes were tied to the achievements of the regular army which they were a part of. The King's Royal Regiment of New York was formed by Sir John Johnson, the heir of the powerful landowner Sir William Johnson. Their duties mainly involved defending Montreal and the St. Lawrence from attack and thus saw little action during the conflict. [83] The most active and successful of the three was Butler's Rangers who roamed "from the Kentucky Valley to the northern boundary of New Jersey along the frontiers of New York and Pennsylvania, and westward into the Ohio Valley." [84]

The origin of the Rangers is divided between the two jurisdictions it operated from: the Northern Department and the Indian Department. The Thirteen Colonies were divided into four 'military departments' designated the Central, Southern, Eastern, and Northern. The Central Department was based in New York City and its governor held sway over the other administrations. The Northern Department was headquartered at Chateau St. Louis with General Haldimand, its commander, residing as governor in Quebec City. [85] A separate jurisdiction was the Indian Department whose Northern District was administered from Fort Niagara under a superintendent for Indian affairs. [86]

John Butler was the owner of 60,000 acres and a major under the Northern Department. He had served in the Seven Years War and was also a valuable asset to the Indian Department because of his experience under the tutelage of the Johnson family in dealing with the Indian population fairly. [87] For these reasons he was chosen to organize the Indians in his District into a military force in 1775 and 1776, to prevent them from giving allegiance to the patriot forces. [88] Sixty-seven loyalist refugees who spoke Indian helped Butler in this task and to meet Burgoyne's army at Saratoga. Word reached this group before they had reached the ill-fated General and saved them from capture. From this debacle Butler was given the 'Beating Order' by Governor Carleton to form his own regiment. [89]

Their duties would be more difficult than any other's which enabled the commander to get a precedent-setting pay scale for his men. [90] Two of the eight companies were to comprise of men who were fluent in Indian tongues and were able fighters. They were given 4s. per day while the other companies' privates were to be paid 2s. per day. [91] Descriptions of the men, who were familiar with Indian languages and customs, appear to have spent most of their lives interacting in trade with the aboriginal peoples giving the settlers the practical education for the tasks which they were given. [92] John Shaver, it could be reasoned, would probably have been in the 2s. per day category. It would be unreasonable to expect a German immigrant to learn both English and an Indian dialect as well in the thirteen years between his arrival and the formation of the Rangers. But since it was the frontier, contact with the Indians was possible. During operations in the final months of the war a company under Major William Caldwell was used to protect Indians from patriots in Pennsylvania. [93] Many of these men must have been part of the 4s. company to deal with the Indians. The other nine companies (the regiment was raised to ten companies in 1781) were not directly involved in Indian matters at this time. [94] After the war Caldwell's men settled in the Detroit-Windsor area so that it would be unlikely that of the one in nine companies that settled in the Niagara region John Shaver would have been a part of the 4s. per day company. [95] German translators were valued in the regiment because of the number of soldiers who could not communicate with their officers on each side of the conflict because of the language barrier. [96] Therefore the likelihood of John Shaver being a part of the Indian speaking companies does not seem great.

Members of Butler's Rangers were subject to a difficult but active life. The Colonel based his regiment on Robert Rogers' 'Plan of Discipline'. Developed during the Seven Years War these tactics were designed for wilderness warfare much like the "commandos"[97] Robert Rogers, commanding his own rangers in the Revolution, had learned because of the ineffectiveness of European tactics in the woods with General Braddock in the Seven Years War. Men were required to provide their own guns and clothing — usually something comfortable with buckskin and leggings. They travelled light and spaced themselves in a march so that no two Rangers could be picked-off by a marksmen at once. Strict pacing of three columns of soldiers in single file, two yards dividing each of them made it hard to surround them. Discipline marked the Rangers which appeared to be the opposite of regular troops who used the concentration of their guns as their main weapon. It was natural that the Indians would be closely associated with Butler's command because of the affinity between their military outlooks. The Rangers used methods unheard of elsewhere. They did not go into winter quarters but operated year round. Camp would be pitched only after nightfall and everyone would be ready to march before the sun rose. Sentries would go to their posts in groups of six so that replacements would not be spotted travelling between posts. The darkness of night was used to vanish into after attacks in which surprise was the key element. [98] Nine hundred men served in Butler's Rangers despite the higher casualty rates, disease, and stressful working conditions. [99]

Mary Fryer divided Butler's Rangers' activities into three periods. [100] From 1778 to 1779 they raided areas that supported the rebels with food and other increments. The second period lasted until 1781 when the patriot forces were pursued and engaged. After the British surrender at Yorktown the Rangers were the only royalist unit to remain in the field, protecting Indians in Ohio territory. These experiences give some indication of what John Shaver lived through during the years of conflict.

The major campaign and controversy in 1778 took the Rangers into New York and Pennsylvania where 'Connecticut Yankees' provided the basis of rebel support. The sweep against the Wyoming, Cherry, and Schoharie Valleys and German Flatts were devastating to the rebel cause. In the Wyoming Valley, not far from Sussex County, Colonel Butler seized six different forts with 60 Continentals and 8OO Wyoming militia. [101] A smaller force under Berant Frey and Joseph Brent killed or took prisoner 294 men in the Schoharie Valley. [102] Later this same group would repeat the maneuvers in Cherry Valley. [103] The devastation has left Butler's Rangers with responsibility for the 'massacre' in each of these regions. [104] However, their methods matched the rebels actions and were in some way more lenient than the Continental Army. In Wyoming Valley, Butler, despite the 227 scalps taken out of 400 men in Forty Fort (and only five prisoners), allowed the civilians to stay in peace in the only fort the Colonel left standing. As long as the people did not bear arms they would be left alone, though their fields were burned and their livestock confiscated for Rangers' use. [105] At the village of Cherry Valley a massacre did occur by the Indians but this was part of the operation to burn the town to the ground while the fort was invested. Where Butler left one of the six forts standing for protection of the civilians in future raids in Wyoming Valley the Continentals in Cherry Valley did not protect their people by putting them in the palisade. [106] One can infer that when dealing with Indian war customs these precautions were necessary to protect the innocent and when they were not, the pent-up rage from white men’s crimes against the Indians burst out. [107] Butler did not have the extra men to stop the carnage lest the superior forces in the fort break out and seize the initiative. However, the destruction of the rebel forces and support left Butler's name in infamy among the patriots.

During August and September 1779 the Continental Army under General John Sullivan set out to crush the power of the Iroquois threat to patriots in the British Northern Department. This force consisted of 3500 Continental troops and up to 1500 militia. [108] After a series of harassing strikes the two armies confronted each other at Newtown, New York. Outnumbered more than five to one the Rangers retreated leaving 42 dead on the Continental side while losing only 5 Rangers. [109] To cover their approach to Newtown the rangers survived on seven ears of uncooked corn per day for two weeks. They did not want their fires to give their approach away, but supplies were also short and the Rangers had no meat, salt, flour, tents or blankets. [110] Returning to Fort Niagara half of the troops were ill. [111] Ironically Sullivan had inspired the Iroquois spirit to fight instead of crushing it, with the destruction of 40 villages end tens of thousands of bushels of grain. [112]

The Iroquois worked closely with the Rangers with a force that usually outnumbered the Rangers. At Newtown, for example, 300 Rangers were supplemented by 600 from the Six Nations. [113] Old Smoke, chief of the Senecas, and Joseph Brant, head of the Mohawks, were but two of the leaders that had a close working arrangement with Colonel Butler. [114] Such numbers must have intermingled freely with the white men but there was never a serious incident between the two races that the writer found. With battle tactics closely linked, the Indians were probably a great help to scouting parties in their knowledge of the terrain. The skills of surviving in the bush would be an area the natives could have helped many of the pioneers if they had not already acquired them. In return the British offered protection against the encroaching frontiersmen. [115]

In retaliation for Sullivan's raid a number of Rangers went into Pennsylvania and Ohio to harass rebel supporters. The patriot executive council of that colony-state were frightened enough to put a $1500 reward up for prisoners and $1000 reward for each scalp. [116]

After the defeat of General Cornwallis at Yorktown in September 1781 the only British military left in the field were Butler's Rangers. This was mainly in the southern region where Virginian woodsmen were preying upon Indians for their lands. These included the Shawnee, Wyandot, and Delaware, and some smaller groups who were neutral during the conflict. Later these groups would not be accommodated in the treaty which ended the war and faced a grim future with the onslaught of European settlers. [117]

At the conclusion of the war Butler's Rangers had substantially won the Northern Department for the British. [118] However the peace treaty of 1783 left most loyalists little option but to vacate the United States for Great Britain, Nova Scotia, or Canada. Approximately 8000 loyalists went to Canada. [119] Most of these settled between the Bay of Quinte region and Montreal. [120]

There is no evidence where John Shaver's family weathered the war. He remarried a women named Mary Magdalena (1761-1836) in 1782. With three children from a previous marriage they made the trek to Canada. [121] The children must have stayed with relatives or friends if their mother had died during the war and the father was away on duty. It would be interesting to know because it would possibly establish if there was a rift in the family between patriots and royalists.

A history of John Lee, Sr., of Ancestor intimated that the Shavers journeyed with them to Ancaster from the United States. With them were an "ox team, one horse" and a daughter (Margaret, born 1775) who was crippled after running through a fire. She rode the horse carrying two or three children with her. One wore a hole in its apron to carry kitchen utensils. [122]

Another tradition suggests that John got lost from his "brothers" in transit to Canada and ended up in Williamsburg, Ontario. After some time he ventured west to Ancaster. [123] Without evidence to verify this version of the journey northward it could probably be stated that this story is another confusion between the eastern Ontario Shavers who served in the R.R.N.Y, and the Ancaster farmers. Four different dates for their travels have been found by the writer. One source states they left New Jersey in 1783 while another states 1786. Arrival in the Ancestor area include 1786, 1787, and 1789. [124] The only certain thing known is that John's land was registered at Newark in 1797, two years after his death. [124]

It is difficult to suggest the reasons for the Shavers' departure from New Jersey with the conflicting dates. Since John was a Butler's Ranger, he would be reviled by the victors of the war. But the conditions in Sussex County may not have been as bad for loyalist in this peripheral area where a high concentration of Tories were reported, than in the southern region of the state. If this was so then delaying their departure until 1786 could be a reasonable assumption. But if pressures were greater then leaving in 1783 should probably be assumed. Confiscation of property by the patriots was common after the Revolution. [125] Also the Provincial Congress passed a resolution in 1782 (safely past Yorktown) that condemned all those who had helped the British in the struggle as enemies of the state. [126] Throughout the former colonies a sense of foreboding and urgency surrounded the loyalists. Sir Guy Carleton held New York City for two months after the Treaty of Paris was signed to ensure that all the loyalists were safely evacuated. [127] But this depended on the area. Many loyalist were known to have returned to their homes unmolested. [128]

If the reasons for leaving are somewhat obscure the area of settlement and why it was chosen is not. The Niagara Peninsula was the initial domain of Butler's Rangers. Colonel Butler had begun buying land from the Mississauga Indians on the west side of the Niagara River during the war. It was opposite the Rangers' base at Fort Niagara. Continuing to purchase land after the conflict, surveying the area including the future town of Newark began in 1783. [129]

Settlement of Butler's Rangers in the Niagara region was much more orderly than in the eastern part of the province. This was primarily because there were fewer people to settle. Also the weak communications with far-off officialdom in Quebec City and London may have prevented the confusion caused by George III's insistence on the seigniorial system being extended to include the English-speaking settlers. The Indian Department and Butler's men were unhindered by the authorities. [130]

The first years were times of shortages and drought in all of the Canadian settlements. The Colonel had a difficult time procuring blacksmith's tools and parts for a mill. There were complaints that Niagara loyalists were not getting their share of clothing and tools. These problems were compounded by drought in 1787 which took two very difficult years to recover. [131]

The government in the region was limited in the first decade of settlement in the Niagara district. It was named 'Nassau' like the other German names for the loyalist settlements, by Lord Dorchester, apparently to amuse the King. [132] There were three appointed members of townships to the Legislative Council. Most matters were handled by magistrates who were chosen from the officers on half-pay. A court of common pleas heard civil cases in each district and a land board was set up to administer the lend grants to the pioneers. [133] Loyalists were to receive 200 acres of land and 50 acres per child. [134] The creation of Upper Canada in 1791 brought John Graves Simcoe to Newark as the Lieutenant-Governor of the province. With him came a number of his own regiment, the Queen's Rangers, who moved from Nova Scotia. [135] The influx of loyalists continued into the Niagara area when Vermont became a member of the United States. Other loyalists included Quakers, but Simcoe's promotion of cheap land brought Americans who were merely interested in this fact and not other considerations. [136]

John Shaver received his land patent in 1797, two years after his death. [137] It was located in Ancaster Township whose village became the economic centre for the 'head-of-the-lake' until the 1830's when the town of Hamilton began to challenge and surpass the settlement on top of the Niagara escarpment.

Though the township itself was created in 1793 two men, John Wilson and Richard Beasley, had completed a mill in 1791. They combined their processing business with a healthy merchant business. Beasley himself went on to become very prominent and wealthy becoming the Justice of the Peace in 1795 and acquiring large tracts of land with help from his connection with his powerful relative, Richard Cartwright. [138]

John Wilson sold his half share of the mill in 1794 to Jean Baptiste Rousseau who acquired the second half from Richard Beasley in 1797. This proprietor of the Township's mill was also part of the relatively wealthy class that included the former owners. But Rousseau's life was unique in spanning both the French and English regimes. Reared close to the Indians he was an able translator for the authorities. 'Mr. St. John', as he was often called because of the suffix 'de St. Jean,' on his name, began his entrepreneurship with an Indian trading post on the Humber River. Continuing his interpreting for the government he entered the circles of the elites including a close acquaintance with Joseph Brant. Their relationship continued after Brant had settled the Mohawk people in the Grand River Valley. [139]

The benefits of the hard work of pioneer life were left to John Shaver's son, William, after the elder died on the ninth of September, 1795. He left an estate worth £377.18.0 of which his 200 acres of land were valued at £150 and his livestock at £122.4.0. Aged 56, John Shaver left at least ten children, the first born in 1767 and the last born in 1791. The first three children were from his first marriage and these received £5 each above the division of the estate among all of them. His widow was to be taken care of from the estate as well as the three youngest children unless they could be 'put to trades.'[140]

The second oldest of the family was William (1771-1830). Coming of age in the early 1790's he began squatting on the lot adjacent to his father's. However Abram Bowmen was granted that lot and William was given lot 35/3 in the Township patented in 1797.[141] By 1798 William was able to marry Mary Catherine Book (1776-l845) after a 'long and muddy march' to the Justice of the Peace, Richard Beasley, at what is now Dundurn Castle. Six relatives and witnesses were at the event. [142]

William Shaver's life was almost the opposite of the tragedy experienced by his father. With his 'patriarchal habits and demeanor' and 'exemplary' membership in the Wesleyan Methodist Church, he and his wife produced thirteen children. At his death in 1830 he had amassed 1600 acres and was one step below the 'squirearchy' of a Richard Beasley or a Jean Baptiste Rousseau on the social ladder. [143]

This observation is based upon the tax rolls assessments of Ancaster for 1816 and 1818. [144] In every category except one William Shaver was above average, with the lax category being average and not below. For the year 1816, almost twenty years since he began clearing the bush, the Shaver assets included: 375 uncultivated acres or meadow; 75 acres of cultivated soil; one house 'framed under two story' (sic); two fireplaces; two oxen at four years or older; eight milch cows; six 'young cattle, Ham, from 2 to 4; and an assessment of £1.1.6.

Of the 186 persons assessed only 22 persons had 250 acres or more of uncultivated land. The number of people with over 100 acres cleared and productive were only nine. With 75-99 acres under the plow there were 15 people. Forty-three had 40-74 acres cultivated. In total acreage possessed 13, had more than 500 acres but most in this number had substantial portions of their estates outside of the Township. These were the government officials and merchants like Beasley and Cartwright. Fifteen had 400-499 acres; 16 had 300-399 acres; 34 had 200-299 acres; 55 owned 100-199 acres; and 55 had 0-99 acres. In cultivated, uncultivated, and total acreage William Shaver was above average in each category.

In other categories William Shaver was shown to be very prosperous as well. He was very average in owning 2 oxen (146 owned this number demonstrating the importance of this animal in farm production) while only 1 man owned 6, and 11 owned 4 oxen. The overwhelming average of milch cow owned was between 2 and 3 (106 owners). William Shaver was among 4 who owned eight. The same is true for 'young cattle, Ham,' where 119 owned between 1 and 2 of the creatures. William Shaver was a part of 7 farmers with 6 of these livestock, this put him in the highest of the last two categories. Also, William Shaver had the highest number of buildings – 5 – with 136 owners of 1 to 3 buildings, and 4 who owned 4 buildings three or more years old. These statistics show that William Shaver was a very prosperous member of the Ancaster Community.

His good fortune increased in the intervening two years. By 1818 his cultivated land increased from 75 acres in 1816 to 225 acres. The uncultivated land stayed at 374 acres suggesting that a cleared farm was purchased or his many maturing children were working hard to clear a new lot that had come into their possession. No oxen were recorded in the family assets but 4 horses at three years or older appeared where no category was offered in the previous count. One could deduce that a transition from ox labor to horse labor had occurred. Shaver milch cows rose to 9 while no one else had above 6 with the average being 2 to 3 cows. The economic standing of William Shaver was well above average.

One of the earliest public polls done in Canada was performed by Robert Gourlay in 1817. The "Statistical Account of Upper Canada" provided a series of questions to be answered about the conditions in particular townships to promote emigration from England to a land of promise. [145] Eighty-five people responded as a group from Ancaster and it is probably likely that a number of Shavers were included in the group. [146] Like most of the respondents from other locales, the Ancaster folk disliked the clergy and crown reserves and the many landowners who did not reside in Ancestor and thus did not pay taxes, or develop the land. They felt in great need for 'capital' and 'enterprise' to improve their township instead of leaving the reserves vacant and the farmers surrounded by wilderness. The men were in favor of immigration and felt it would improve the economy. Beside patronage and reserves, the roads were singled out as a major problem and linked it with unresponsive government which hindered the improvement of the province. Optimism about the wealth from the land was especially strong.

Gourley's Questionnaire revealed economic facts which help to assess the standard of life. For example, the average yield per acre was 16 bushels. Since barter was a large part of trade, the value would give some estimate of income and what was possible to purchase. [146] Since much of the necessities of life were homemade an accurate picture may not be as easy to calculate. Assuming that the yield per acre was the same in the 1790's as it was in the 1810's inflation can be charted us well. In 1799 a bushel of wheat paid 2s. (New York currency) [147] Considering this as a base for trade one could purchase a gallon of wine from J.B. Rousseau for 10s. A candle cost 3s., a pair of shoes went for 16s., and stripped cotton for 10s per yard, while a silk handkerchief could be had for 12s. [148] In 1801 William Shaver bought two quarts of rum with a credit note later made good with 2 beehives and 2s. cash to cover the 14s. price. [149]

The price of a bushel of wheat rose to 5s. by 1827. [150] If William Shaver planted two-thirds of his arable land he would have had an income in 1816 of approximately 120 for his crop at a middle price of 3s. per bushel. Using the 1818 statistics with a bushel of wheat at 4s. William Shaver's income would be £560 with 175 acres under the plow. This does not include such things as honey, eggs, or other products of the farm he might have sold. Gourley's information states that laborers received £1.10.0. to £4.l0.0. per month as a comparison in income. [151] The amassing of 1600 acres by the end of William Shaver's lifetime appeared very possible even when cleared land sold from £2.10.0 to £12.10.0. per acre and a farm house could be built from £125 to £250 and a frame barn for £125. With a great coat selling for £1.4.0 in 1808 and nine sons at varying ages of maturity for its labor force the standard of living for the Shaver family was above average. [152]

During the War of 1812 Ancaster Township produced two companies for the 5 Lincoln Militia. [153] Reference is made to a Daniel and Joseph Shafer being a part of this group and were probably brothers or nephews of William Shaver. [154] The provincial legislature past an act in 1793 requiring all males 16 to 60 years of age to enroll in the militia. However many exceptions were made to this rule. [155] The 5 Lincoln Militia saw action with General Brock at Amherstburg and Queenston. [156]
The closest battle occurred at Stoney Creek but most of the young men joined the militia while the older men reportedly hauled food and supplies to the troops. [157] Billeting of troops was a fact of life in the village, though, and caused a lot of havoc with pilfering of foodstuffs and destruction of property. This resulted in almost every person filing a claim against the government for damages from their houseguests. [158] The widow of the miller, Rousseau, protested that the Canadian Dragoons destroyed four tons of hay in August 1813, consumed 77 bushels of oats in one day in September of the same year including 250 pounds of hay and similar confiscations in the following month. [159]

Ancaster is most famous for the Bloody Assizes in 1814. One of the ringleaders, Abraham Marcle, was from Ancaster but most of the nineteen defendants were from the north shore of Lake Erie who had sided or joined American units invading and harassing the settlements along that coast. They were held in the local mill and were tried in at the Union Hotel which was the only building in the area large enough to handle that many prisoners. [160]

Religion was a powerful force in Ancaster. Reverend William Case, an itinerant minister from the United States, noted that the village on the escarpment was known as Methodist Mountain. [161] Case felt it was "one of the most inviting portions of the Province physically and religiously." [162] In 1817 the Methodists claimed the only religious building in the Township. [163] William Shaver's home was used for camp meetings and fifty years later built a permanent church on their property, after using a school donated by the same family for many years. [164] The Bowman family demonstrated the area’s bedrock faith. Peter Bowman was the first of two generations of itinerant preachers and his home was one of the central locations for camp meetings. William Case called him ' inflexible in his attachment to Methodism.'[165] The effective theatrical use of preaching was one of the major assets of Methodism in attracting a large number of illiterate farmers. [166] Initial funding for the ministering in Upper Canada was provided by the American Church which caused disarray to the movement during the War of 1812. [167] But missionary work from the United States into the sparsely populated wilderness of Upper Canada also added to the Church's Prestige. [168] Reverend Case used Ancaster to set up the Ancaster Circuit for his ministers to follow. This took different forms over time but always included Ancaster whether the circuit stretched into the London District or shrank to a local level. [169] One of the most important meetings in Canadian Methodism occurred at the Ancaster Conference in 1829. It was here that Egerton Ryerson was instructed to start the Christian Guardian and laid plans for building Upper Canada Academy which became Victoria College. Also the first temperance resolution was passed in Canada with an organization to promote it. [170] Ancaster, for early Methodism, was as important to the Church development as the faith was to the people.

The life of the first two generations of Ancaster Shavers was one of contrasts. John Shaver suffered the trauma of immigration, soldiery, defeat and resettlement. Though his son, William suffered as a child through the American Revolution, he ended his life as a prosperous farmer in British North America.

The tensions of the American Revolution combined with the innumerable variables of an individual's life choices made the experiences of the loyalists differ wildly. Factors such as being a German immigrant in the peripheral area of the war's main battleground left open a number of contradicting signals of whom to support. The need for security within the status quo, the perceptions from Sussex County of the direction of the war, and the date of entry into the royalist military ranks were all possible factors that went into John Shaver' a decision to remain loyal. But he chose an opposite path from his brothers who stayed in the United States.

Becoming part of the most active and successful of the royalist regiments, Butler's Rangers, John Shaver journeyed with Iroquois throughout the Northern Department devastating rebel strongholds with refined wilderness tactics. The private of the regiment in the end used this military connection to resettle in the Niagara region and used his common farming profession to survive in the virgin territory.

The hardships of John Shaver were compensated by the prosperity of his second son, William. Despite another war in 1812 and his lowly origins, William accumulated an economic status in Ancaster Township that was second only to the emerging elite tied to government patronage. This affluence provided enough land to give a farm to each of his sons upon his death in 1830. The optimism of his generation appeared in Robert Gourlay's questionnaire which showed a dislike of government policies that hindered their economic prospects. Their success was buttressed by a strong faith in Methodism that nicknamed the town on the hill Methodist Mountain. The journey of the two generations of Shavers from Germany to New Jersey, and then to Ancaster provides an appreciation of the endurance of the loyalists that is more compelling than the myths their descendents built up to honor them.

[Unfortunately the references that originally accompanied this article are not currently available to us. We welcome information from anybody who may have information on these. If they become available we will endeavour to provide them to interested parties. The references in the original article were in superscript rather than contained in square brackets. The original article was prepared as part of a course requirement for a fourth year History course.]