Introduction to the Casselmann Family History - Part III

After the Revolutionary War, Casselmans listed in the King's Royal Regiment of New York, 1782, settled in 1784, with their families, on land grants along the shores of the St. Lawrence River in eastern Ontario were: Thomas, Henry, Cephrenus, Conrad, Werner, William, and Richard. Also, John, of Butler's Rangers, settled in Niagara. The land grants resulted in large farms and very large families, and Casselman families prospered. Casselmans were one of the largest founding families of Upper Canada (present-day Ontario). As a result, this region of Ontario has the world's highest density of Casselmans and their relatives. A search of land grants and titles indicates that this was and is truly Casselman Country. It was estimated in 1984 that 66% of all the people in eastern Ontario are descended from these families.

Casselman Ancestors Among the United Empire Loyalists

Why Was There A Revolution?

The Quebec Act prohibited colonization in all the territory north of the Ohio to the Great Lakes, thereby completely blocking off the westward expansion of the Thirteen Colonies. it also allowed the French to retain their religion and laws, which angered and frightened the largely Protestant colonists. This caused as much anger and resentment as other acts that followed.

The Declaratory Acts passed by the British Parliament gave Britain the right to tax the colonies without their consent. This aroused the cry in the colonies "No taxation without representation!" The Townshend Acts had then taxed lead, glass, papers, paint, and tea. This led to a boycott of British goods by Boston merchants. Since these taxes could not effectively be enforced, the British Prime Minister, Lord North, had Parliament repeal all the taxes except the tax on tea. This tea tax of three-pence-a-pound duty was left on to show that England had the right to tax the colonies.

Meanwhile, the Tea Act in May 1773 gave the East India Company the monopoly on the export and import of tea from England to the Thirteen Colonies. This act was intended to assist the East India Company, since the company was seriously in debt. Many upper-class British members of Parliament had invested heavily in the East India Company, and they were therefore intent upon saving the company. The colonists no longer would drink its tea in protest of the Townshend Acts. Up to now, the men who were smugglers had been illegally bringing tea into the colonies. Now they were eliminated, since the East India Company could undercut their tea prices. As a result ' the frustrated tea smugglers backed Samuel Adams' radical actions to oppose the East India Company's tea monopoly.

In Massachusetts, Governor Hutchinson's sons and nephews were appointed to distribute the tea. The tea agent, Mr. Oliver, was Governor Hutchinson's son-in-law. The radical mob demanded Oliver resign as agent and not allow any British tea into Boston. He fled to Castle William, which was garrisoned by British troops. At this time the East India ship Dartmouth arrived in Boston Harbour on November 28, 1773, and docked at Griffin's Wharf. The law obliged the shipmaster to pay duties on the tea within 20 days. Otherwise the tea would be seized and sold at a public auction. In December the tea ships Eleanor and Beaver arrived in Charleston, South Carolina. The tea was unloaded and stored in damp cellars, where it spoiled. New York and Philadelphia tried to send the tea ships back to Great Britain.

Governor Hutchinson would not issue a permit to allow the three East India tea ships to return to England with the tea, since the law prohibited such action. Two British warships also ensured that the tea ships would not return. The Dartmouth's tea in Boston was subject to seizure on December 17.

On the night of December 16, 5,000 inhabitants gathered at the Old South Meeting House. Samuel Adams chaired a noisy meeting and made a final request to Governor Hutchinson to return the tea to England. The request was rejected. Samuel Adams said that "this meeting can do nothing more to save the country." Samuel Adams decided to destroy the tea to further his radical cause and to prevent the people from giving in to the temptation to buy cheap tea. A mob of 2,000 people watched 50 local inhabitants, disguised as Mohawk Indians and led by Samuel Adams, board the Dartmouth in a calm and orderly manner, smash 343 tea chests, and dump the tea into Boston Harbour. No local officials attempted to prevent the tea destruction.

The value of the tea dumped into Boston Harbour amounted to E10,000 ($90,000 US). Going home from the Tea Party, the men passed a dwelling at which Admiral Montague of the Royal Navy was spending the night. Admiral Montague lifted the window and cried out "Well, boys, you've had a fine night for your Indian caper. But, mind, you've got to pay the fiddler yet." "0, never mind," replied one of the leaders, "never mind, Squire! Just come out here, if you please, and we'll settle the bill in two minutes." The officer thought that he'd better not try to settle the bill and quickly closed the window.

Benjamin Franklin advised the people of Boston to pay for the dumped tea. Close to 100 merchants offered to compensate the East India Company for the dumped tea too. However, the radicals prevented anyone from compensating the East India Company. The Imperial Cabinet was fed up with the Colonial Actions and decided to punish the Thirteen Colonies. Therefore it imposed the Intolerable Acts (Coercive Acts) on Boston. General Gage was made governor of Massachusetts. The governor was given control of town meetings and could now appoint members of the Legislative Council. Customs officials were moved from Boston to Salem, Massachusetts, as part of the closing of the port of Boston. The port of Boston was to remain closed to trade until the destroyed tea was paid for and the Bostonians loyally agreed to pay duties on tea from England. Royal officials charged by the colonies while executing their duties were now protected, since they could only be charged and tried in England. The people were now required to quarter four regiments of troops in their homes.

The Intolerable Acts resulted in the other 12 colonies rallying to Massachusetts's defence, forming companies of minute men, Intercolonial Committees of Correspondence, the calling of the Continental Congress finally culminating in the Declaration of Independence. The battles of Concord, Lexington, and Bunker Hill followed shortly afterwards. The Loyalists were farmers, ministers, and small business people. They were from every walk of life-statesmen and tinkers, blacksmiths, and carpenters, lawyers and storekeepers, professors and housewives. It is estimated that during the revolution about 33% of the people were loyal, 33% were rebellious, and about 33% were neutral. They were of English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, German, Dutch, Swiss, African. and other nationalities. Many had been in the colonies for generations. In my own family, one Loyalist ancestor was descended from a family who arrived in New Amsterdam in 1627 some time before it became New York. Their religious persuasions were Quaker, Methodist, Dutch Reformed, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Moravian Mennonite, Lutheran, Universalist, and Jewish. Possibly, although I have yet to document this, there were Muslim Loyalists. There were people of native spirituality groups and every other possible religious assemblage.

What did they do?

Colonists joined the British for many differing reasons, most on conviction, some on adherence to the ways they knew, some in resentment of the actions of the rebels, and for as many different reasons as there were soldiers. The war that broke out was the first civil war in the Americas. In the Mohawk Valley, where many of the Casselmans were settled, Sir John Johnson formed the Yorkers (officially the King's Royal Regiment of New York) on June 19, 1776. Sir John was the son of the great Indian Agent William Johnson, and their combined work kept many of the natives, especially of the Iroquois Confederacy, loyal to the British.

Many Casselmans joined the Yorkers: the names Conrad, Frederick, Richard Suffrenus, Warner, and William appear as privates, Henry and Thomas as drummers in the Muster roll of the KRRNY, All of these Casselmans were shown as having been born in "America" (P.A. C. Haldimand Papers Reel A746M.G. Add Mss221818, fol. 243 to 250 NCOs Drummers etc. I st batt.) King's RR of NY lists Henry as age 13, William (who, by the way, was listed as having the occupation of cooper) 34, Richard 25, Sufrenus 25, and Conrad 12 as of December 24, 1783.

Another Colonial Loyalist Regiment was Butler's Rangers. Some Casselmans joined Butler's Rangers, John Casselman being one example. It is probable that some Casselmans may have fought at Oriskany. Oriskany was one of the bloodiest and hardest-fought of the battles during the Revolutionary War.

General Nicholas Herkimer's 800 troops were ambushed by the British and Indians under the command of Sir John Johnson, John Butler, and Joseph Brant, the Indian Chief, on August 6, 1777. Herkimer's forces were marching up a ravine to attempt to lift the British siege of Fort Stanwix. This was one of the fiercest battles of the Revolution. it was so, partly because neighbours were fighting neighbours! General Nicholas Herkimer's horse was shot from under him. A musket ball shattered one of his legs. Despite this, he sat on his saddle on the ground under an oak tree and calmly smoked a pipe as he commanded his troops. Some Casselmans may have fought under Burgyone at Saratoga. Others led Indian raids into the Mohawk Valley, scalping and massacring people, destroying farms and crops. One was Captain Cephrenus Casselman. You can read about him in Drums Along the Mohawk by Walter Drummond. Sufrenus/Cephrenus/Severinus Casselman was a farmer from Germantown New York born in 1757 in North America.

A patriot was anyone who vocally expressed approval of the actions of the Continental Congress and /or supported the militia, who took up arms against the authorities. Loyalists, or Tories, as they were contemptuously called, were those who did not wish to rebel against the government, who wished to be left alone to live their lives in peace. Altenatively and this was where things became ugly-the person might be someone who had loaned money to another. By accusing the person to whom the debt was owed of "loyalism," the debt could be forgiven!

Casselmans were split - father against son, brother against brother. Families that had previously been peaceful became bitter enemies. Loyalist Casselmans fled to Canada either during or after the war. They were driven from their farms. During the war, Loyalists were burned out of their homes, strung up in the market place, or thrown into hideous dungeons without benefit of formal trial. One of the worst of these was the Simsbury Mine, where many Loyalists perished. Some were ridden out of town on a rail after being tarred and feathered. If that punishment seems innocuous, imagine, if you will, having pitch heated to boiling point, poured over sensitive areas of the body. (The person would first be stripped.) Then, feathers from a number of geese or hens were thrown onto the molten tar. Many people lost fingers and toes, if not their lives from the bums. After the tarring, a man would be tied, in a riding position, to a fence rail and rapidly and continuously bounced out of town. If the victim survived, he was, in many cases, emasculated from the injuries received.

Why they came to Canada

They came to Canada because their homes, farms, and businesses were either destroyed or seized as booty of the new country. They were in danger of being imprisoned, harried in every way, or even executed. Most of the new states passed laws that declared Loyalists to be traitors and forbade them from owning property, holding public office, voting, or having access to the courts. In Connecticut, one John Sayre was punished by a law forbidding all "persons whatever viz. Merchants, Mechanics, Millers, and Butchers and Co. from supplying John Sayre or family with any manner of thing whatever." Beatings, floggings, and even murders were common even after the peace treaty. They came on foot, by canoe by horse, or ox cart via Lake Champlain or across country to Niagara. Still others went from New York City, which remained in British hands until some while after the end of the war. There they boarded ships supplied by the British and sailed to Nova Scotia and the Gaspé.

After the Treaty of Paris had ended the American Revolution on September 3, 1783, the Loyalists of the Yorkers and several other units spent the 1783-84 winter at L'Assomption, Coteau Landing, Isle Aux Nois, Isle Jesus, Lachenaye, Lachine, Montreal, Quebec City, Rivière de Chêne, Sorel, St. Jean de Machiche and Terrebonne in Quebec. That winter of 1783-84 the Loyalists built bateaux at Lachine. These bateaux were shallow-draft wooden boats, 30 to 40 feet long and 5 to 8 feet wide. The sides went straight up for 4 feet. The pointed bow and the stem were a foot higher than the rest of the bateaux The floor was constructed of white oak. The bottoms were flat to slide over the boulders of rapids. The sides were made of fir. One bateau would hold four or five families.

Eighteen bateaux were organized into a battalion under a pilot. The bateaux were paddled, poled, pulled, or sailed up the St. Lawrence. Captain Jacob Maurer, formerly of the Royal York Regiment, was appointed inspector of bateaux. In the spring of 1784, Loyalists were given a month's provisions. Each man and boy over ten received stockings, leggings, shoe soles, coat, waistcoat, breeches, hat, shirt, and blanket. Each woman and girl over ten got stockings, a blanket, shoe soles, and four yards of woollen and linen cloth. There was one cooking kettle and five persons per tent.

The Loyalists began the journey up the St. Lawrence on May 24, 1784. When they reached the rapids, some men poled the bateaux while others got out and pulled the bateaux with ropes along the banks. Meanwhile the women and children walked to the head of the rapids.

Around June 10, 1784, most of the Loyalists destined for the townships around New Johnstown had arrived there. These eight townships, which were known as the Royal Townships, had been laid out along the St. Lawrence. The first five townships were settled by the First Battalion of the Royal York Regiment. The Scottish Roman Catholics of the First Battalion were settled in Charlottenburg, which was Township No. 1. The Presbyterians were located on Township No. 2 (Cornwall), where New Johnstown sprang up. The next three townships (Osnabruck, Williamsburgh, and Matilda) were settled by German Calvinists, German Lutherans, and Anglicans. This latter group included the Casselmans. They were mostly given land in Dundas County in Matilda and Williamsburgh Townships.

The conditions they faced were extremely difficult. Huge forests covered the land on which they were to start their farms. Giant trees had to be chopped with axes, stumps hauled out of the ground with the help of the few oxen that were allotted to them. Stumps, tree trunks, and branches were usually burned. They built rough log cabins, scratched the soil with sticks to allow crops to be planted, and scattered the few precious seeds by hand. In the Hungry Year, crops failed, and snow fell in July. The first frost of winter arrived in August, The year was sometimes referred to as eighteen hundred and froze to death! Colonists, among them the Loyalist Casselmans, had to eat whatever they could find-roots, plants, etc., and sometimes they did not survive! However, many did, and today descendants perpetuate the name of Casselmans across North America and several other continents.

I would like to acknowledge at this time the help and encouragement I have received from George Anderson, one of the Casselman descendants.

A Seminar Presented at the Casselman Reunion 2000 by Margaret Hall Nepean, Ontario

Research references:

King's Royal Regiment of New York, Brigadier General Cruikshsank, (Gavin K. Watt, ed. (Ontario Historical Society, Toronto 193 1, reprinted with additional material 1984) The Loyalist, Christopher Moore (MacMillan of Canada, Toronto 1984) Loyalist Lists, Keith Fitzgerald (Ontario Genealogical Society, Toronto 1984)

Sir John Johnson, leader of Loyalist batallionMap of Casselman settlement areaMap of Casselmans' ancestral originCasselman Coat of Arms