Grand River Branch
United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada
Selected Reprints from the
Grand River Branch Newsletter, Branches
"The Loyalist Settlement of The Niagara Area - PART I"
Angela E.M. Files, August 1995, Vol.7 No.2, Pages 9-13
The colonial settlement of the Niagara frontier began during the American Revolution. The loyal refugees, the United Empire Loyalists were granted land in the Niagara area at the end of the war. Fort Niagara, a British post, played a central role in the protection and resettlement of the Six Nations along the Grand River and in the establishment of the Loyalists in the Niagara region.
During the Revolution, Fort Niagara became the headquarters of the Corps of Rangers commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel John Butler. Butler, together with the British and Native allies raided the settlements of Wyoming, Pennsylvania and Cherry Valley, New York. Loyalists, driven from their homes in the provinces of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, found a haven of military protection at Fort Niagara, located on the east side of the mouth of the Niagara River. Settlement of the wilderness on the western side began in earnest with the disbanding of Butler's Rangers at the conclusion of the American Revolution.
By 1780, the Bonnar (Bonheur), Bowman, Nelles, Secord and Young families had settled on the west bank of the Niagara River. The naval station, at Navy Hall, was located opposite Fort Niagara and protected the Great Lakes waterway. Butler's Barracks, housing the Rangers and their families, were built westward on higher ground. The Indians built a Council House near Butler's Barracks in order to maintain their own system of government.
In 1796, the same year that Fort Niagara was surrendered to the Americans, a new British post, Fort George, was built on the west bank of the Niagara River, nearly a mile from Lake Ontario. Fort George became the principal British fort for the Niagara frontier. In 1814, Fort Mississauga was built to replace Fort George and it was used as a militia post until 1845. Settlements took root under the protection of the forts.
According to a United Empire Loyalists pamphlet published in 1901, about 200 families belonging to Butler's Rangers settled in what would become Lincoln County, in Niagara Township and about 200 more in Grantham Township. Many others settled in Louth Township (Lincoln) and some in Welland County. Not fewer than 820 families secured land along the Niagara frontier.
From 1783 to 1791, Loyalist refugees migrated to the Niagara area. It was necessary to set up land boards to issue deeds to the immigrants. The census of 1782 and that of 1783 indicate the rapid population growth.
With a magnifier, and using the survey map (on page 73) in the 1927 printing of William Kirby's Annals of Niagara (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1927, ), I have attempted to decipher the surnames of the early landowners in the Niagara area. Some of the family members of the ensuing generations moved to the Grand River region. (Editor's note: The names have been entered on a redrawn map in order to improve its use for genealogical and historical application.) A copy of the survey, as it appeared in the 1927 printing of Annals of Niagara, is included for comparison. The original map is in a "south-north" direction and our update is reoriented in the customary north-south format. The drawing is not to scale. Many names and spellings from the original are tentative and corrections are invited. Names with initials have been entered as they appear on the original. If you can offer corrections or "insights", we may be able to print a revised version at some later time.
A number of external authorities were checked. A key source for information was Maggie Parnall's 1983 compilation of the same Niagara Township No. 1. This survey (Philip Fry, 1787) appears in Loyalist Ancestors : Some Families of the Hamilton Area by Hamilton Branch United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada (Toronto: Pro Familia, 1986), 15. Of particular value in compiling this update to the "Kirby printing" were two recent publications: Ontario People : 1796 - 1803, transcribed and annotated by E. Keith Fitzgerald (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993) and Early Ontario Settlers : A Source Book, Norman K. Crowder (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993). Both of these publications list the Loyalists settled in the Niagara region. many, if not most of the males were soldiers who had fought in Butler's Rangers. Also consulted were The Old United Empire Loyalists List, with a new introduction by Milton Rubincam (Reprint; Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1976; Toronto: Rose, 1885) and United Empire Loyalists : Enquiry into the Losses and Services in Consequence of their Loyalty, evidence in the Canadian Claims : Second report of the Bureau of Archives for the Province of Ontario, by Alexander Fraser (Reprint; Baltimore: Genealogical Printing Co., 1994; Toronto: L. K. Cameron, 1905). Two additional maps were also consulted. the lot plan for Niagara Township drawn in the nineteenth century by William E. Tench of "Drummondville" (in Niagara Falls) is printed in the Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Counties of Lincoln & Welland Ont., (Reprint 1971; Toronto: H. R. Page, 1876), 49. A very early map of loyalist settlement for the same area appears in Ontario's History in Maps, R. Louis Gentilcore, C. Grant Head (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984), 86.
A few of the blocks bordering Lake Ontario have been left blank, pending accurate information. Question marks following certain names indicate uncertainty with respect to the handwriting. Lots 1 and 2 do not appear to be numbered on the Kirby printing. There is a dotted vertical line separating four names. Using the Parnall compilation (Fry, 1787) suggests that "Danl" is the first name belonging to "Rose" on the immediate right (Kirby) but reversed in our reproduction. The name beginning with "C" immediately above "Rose" may be "Cunningham" but is it "Chisholm" (i.e. John Chisholm) following Parnall (Fry, 1787) and information in both Fitzgerald and Crowder above.
Lots 11 and 12 may have belonged to one "Thos. Clark". Is "Dupuis" in lots 19, 28 and 65 actually "Depue" or "Depew"? "W. Farlane" located in lots 21-23, 25 and possibly 63-64, does not appear in any of the other sources. However, on the Tench map (1876) the name James McFarland is recorded on lots 22, 64 and 65. A Margery McFarland is shown on lots 23 and 25. On the Parnall map (Fry, 1787), the "Widow Guthrie" is recorded on lots 20, 21, 26 and 27. On the same survey, "John McDonell" is located on lots 22, 23 and 26. The "Kirby map" in the 1927 printing of The Annals may have been produced somewhat later than the survey of Philip Fry in 1787. The name "Workman" on lots 19 and 30, is also debatable. The name "Heron" appearing on lots 26 and 66 is more likely "Ferow". The initials "Jas" and "Jos" for "James" and "Joseph", respectively, are easily confused. Genealogists who are familiar with their ancestors settlement locations may be able to clarify any discrepancies with regard to initials and names.
Several other difficult entries are "Crooks" on lot 111. "B. Shuter" on lot 154 and the entries "W. Kirby" appearing on lots 72-73 and 184. These latter names also suggest that the "Kirby map" may be a bit later than the Fry survey. "Markle" on lot 116 appears on the Parnall survey (Fry, 1787) as "fred Manicle". This could be "Fred Maricle" or "Maracle" as it is often spelled today. The name "Fry" is more commonly "Frey" in current spellings.
The names "Van Alstine", "Vanderlip" and "Van Every" which occur on the Fry survey, are not on the Kirby map. However there are certain loyalist names common to both and the merchant Robert Hamilton appears on both maps.
Perhaps knowledgeable historians and genealogists in the Hamilton and Niagara regions can provide assistance with the reconstruction of this map and can also cast more light on its source and age. It is possible that someone has already successfully deciphered it and produced a printed version. We look forward to any new information on the Kirby map. It represents one small addition to our growing understanding of settlement patterns in early Upper Canada.
From 1780 to 1790, Loyalists flocked into the Niagara wilderness. As the choice land was occupied, many Loyalists moved to inland locations and penetrated further along the peninsula. A group of about 400 refugees settled around "The Forty" (Grimsby). Among these families were the Carpenters, Moores, Muirs, Nixons, Pettits, Smiths and others. Some Loyalists in the NIgara region eventually migrated to the Grand River valley and adjacent areas. Many of our members may have ancestors who served with Butler's rangers and originally settled along the Niagara River.