by Rev. C.E. Thomson
United Empire Loyalists' Association of Ontario
Annual Transactions for the year ending March 3, 1900
Two months ago at the city of Kingston there passed away from amongst us one of the first, and one among the last, of those early inhabitants of Upper Canada, who are so fast disappearing from our view. Parker Allen's grandfather, Captain Joseph Allen, and his father, Jonathon Allen, were of the heroic band who came ashore at Adolphustown in June, 1784, driven from their early homes in the revolted colonies. Captain Allen's property, which was considerable, situated in new Jersey, was confiscated; and with his two sons and three daughters, and some slaves who followed his fallen fortunes, he came by way of Sorel, and so by bateaux up the river and lake as a member of Major VanAlstine's Company, landing at Fourth Town, June 16th. In the early records of the township we do not hear much of Captain Joseph Allen. We learn that to him was assigned Lot No. 20, the next lot but one east of the town plot of Adolphustown. East of him was Jacob Hover on Lot 19, and next to him was my grandfather William Ruttan, on Lot 18. It is possible that the elders of the party, having conducted their sons and daughters to this land of liberty for the present, and of promise for the future, were contented to retire pretty much into the background, and to leave the conduct of affairs to their juniors. Joseph Allen seems to have had not only his 200 acre lot on the bay shore, but also 172 acres in the second concession, almost directly behind his front lot.
He does not seem to have been an office-holder. His son John, at an early date, removed to Marysburgh, Jonathan remaining in Adolphustown. Jonathan filled various offices in the township from the year 1814 onwards. His son, the subject of this notice, was born about the beginning of January, 1812, and was just ninety years and ten days old at his death on the 11th of last January.
To us at the present day it may seem a grand thing to be the owner of three or four hundred acres of land, with more or fewer stalwart sons and helpful daughters.
But many tales have come down to us, which go to show that those first years were years of great toil and anxiety, and actual want for the necessaries of life. The years 1787, 1788 and the first half of 1789, traditionally spoken of as the 'hungry' year, must have severely tried the loyalty, fortitude, and endurance of these brave and devoted people. There were times when wheat was almost unknown amongst them, and when their scanty supplies of Indian corn, or millet seed, or wild rice had to be ground, or rather pounded, by hand, The very few who had a cow giving milk were indeed fortunate, for it was life to their young children. Happy also were those who could kill game or catch fish. But, strain their resources as they might, those first few years were years of self-sacrifice and self-denial to our U.E. Loyalist forefathers, such as we, their grandchildren and great grandchildren, can form no conception of, but of which we are permitted to enjoy the fruits.
Through the kindness of T.W. Casey, Esq., of Napanee, himself of U.E. Loyalist descent and a member of a very prominent Adolphustown family, I have been permitted to make use of information which he has obtained respecting the Allen family. I therefore gladly give you some things which, of course, I could not relate from my own knowledge.
It would appear that Joseph Allen was, at the beginning of the rebellion, a prosperous mill-owner at Monmouth, New Jersey, and that because he had supplied provisions to the British forces, his mills and store were looted by the rebels. Thereupon he raised a Company, of which he became Captain, which fought for the British Crown during the war. At its close, his property was confiscated, and, his life being in danger, and only preserved by the fidelity of his slaves, he at length became a refugee, and, as I have said, with the rest of Major VanAlstine's Company, after a journey of great hardship and tediousness, landed at Adolphustown.
His family consisted of two sons, John and Jonathan, twelve and fourteen years old, and three daughters, Rachel, Ursula, and Elizabeth. He brought with him several negro slaves, who were warmly attached to him, and continued so even after the Act of Parliament of 1793. That Act did not profess to set free those who were already held as slaves in Upper Canada, but forbade the importation of slaves for the future, and made provision for the gradual extinction of negro slavery.
After John Allen had removed to Fifth Town or Marysburgh, in the Prince Edward District, where he died in 1815, Jonathan Allen remained on the homestead. He married Miss Nancy Dougall of Hallowell, and his family consisted of six children, Joseph, Parker, Alexander, John, Gertrude, and Anne. This last was a very intimate friend of my mother, Elizabeth, daughter of William Ruttan, and married Allen VanAlstine. Gertrude became the wife of J.J. Watson, Esq., a very prominent resident of Adolphustown, and a Justice of the Peace and holder of many municipal offices. Jonathan Allen died in 1846, at the age of 17 years. I think it was Jonathan Allen whom, when I was a small boy, I was taken to see ill in bed about the year 1844 or 1845. I remember distinctly his last words to my sister and myself, "Good-bye, my daughter; good-bye, my son."
The late Parker Allen appears to have succeeded to his father's property and position in the township, being thirty-four years of age. Eight years before, in 1838, he had been township clerk, and office which was held afterwards several times by his brother-in-law, Mr. Watson. Twice he represented the township in the district of County Council. In politics he was a conservative, or, as was the party name in early days, a Tory. Mr. Allen's father, Jonathan Allen, was a member of the Church of England, and was several times Churchwarden. He himself was baptized into the Church of England when quite young; but after middle age, becoming acquainted with Lord Cecil, and being attached to him, he joined the Plymouth Brethren. At his house, Lord Cecil staid when at Adolphustown, and it was nearly in front of his house that this nobleman was accidentally drowned in the year 1889.
Mr. Allen was about six years old when the first Bay of Quinte steamboat, the Queen Charlotte, was built at Bath, and made regular trips twice each week from the head of the bay to Prescott.
There is, perhaps, no more enchanting piece of scenery in the world than the Bay of Quinte from Amherst Island all the way up to Belleville, seen at any time in the summer months, and at any hour of the day, as you pass along in the steamboat.
It is not so wide but that you can take in the beauties of both sides. You see the homesteads dotted along the banks, some of them old-fashioned, unworldly-looking relics of a time that is past; and in front of them the green sward plentifully sprinkled with dandelions, and in spring time the orchards full of blossom fragrant with the most delicate perfume, and drowsily resonant with the hum of bees. Every now and then you pass some white sailed sloop appearing to crawl along either shore; or a bend in the bay brings into view a little hamlet with its half dozen houses, and its quiet dreamy wharf waiting patiently for some one to step upon it. The waters sparkle brightly in the summer sun with what the poet calls a 'many-twinkling smile,' and as you move along you are tempted to wish that so lovely a paradise of peace may never be disturbed by the screech of the locomotive and the rattle of the railway, or by anything more incongruous that the almost musical pulsation of the steamboat's paddles.
In July, 1811, the Reverend Henry Boehm, in attendance on the Methodist Bishop Asbury, made in a journey on horseback - it was the best way of land travelling then - through the country from Cornwall to Adolphustown. He quotes Asbury as saying, "Our ride has brought us through one of the finest countries I have ever seen. The timber is of a noble size, the cattle are well shaped, and well-looking, the crops are abundant on a most fruitful soil. Surely this is a land that God the Lord hath blessed."
This is the description given by Dr. Canniff of the view from the lake on the mountain at the Stone Mills, now called Glenora.
"At our feet is the bay, and seemingly so near that one could toss a stone into the clear blue water; and across, at the distance of a mile, though apparently much nearer, lies the low rich land of Adolphustown. To the right stretches in almost a straight line, the waters of the bay, along which may be seen the well-settled shores even to Ernesttown, and over which we get a view of the upper gap, where the waters of the bay commingle with the more boisterous flood of Ontario. Upon this bright autumn day the view is almost enchanting. The surface of the waters of the several indentations, especially Hay Bay, as well as the main channel, have imparted to them the bright blue of the sky, while the fields of rich green and gold give variety to the scene. This rich landscape spread out before us is really the classic ground of Upper Canada. Within the compass of our view was for several years the western limit of the settlement. We can see where landed the refugee Loyalists to take possession of the land. Along that green and golden sloping shore have passed the batteaux laden with the settlers and their limited household effects; there also has gone the Schenectady boat with its ungainly sail and toiling rowers. There upon the rich land of Fredericksburgh and Adolphustown lived and died many of the fathers of Canada. In the old homesteads which there gradually arose were born, and spent their boyhood days, a host of sons, who, moving farther west upon the bay and lake, planted the townships. From that spot sprang many of Canada's earliest public men, who passed their younger days among these natural beauties which belong to the bay. Under our eye is the birthplace of Judge Hagerman, Sheriff Ruttan, and others, who have left a name upon the pages of Canadian history. There upon the front of Adolphustown, stands the old Court House, where was held the first court of law of Upper Canada; there flourished the earliest lawyer of the Province, Judge Hagerman's father, and there pleaded McLean of Kingston in his robes and powdered wig. And there yet stands the house where lived the little boy, who, now a man, is the leading spirit in our enlarged Canada. Upon this hill, and up and down its slopes, often played this, the foremost man in British America, Sir John A. Macdonald. Those four townships, Kingston, Ernesttown, Fredericksburgh, and Adolphustown, were the early homes of those who faithfully served their country. How many thoughts are suggested, as the student of history looks abroad on this the first inhabited land of western Canada! Many of the present inhabitants here have never heard of the noble ones who have struggled, and whose bones now decay in yon U.E. burying ground across the water."
Among such scenes, and surrounded by such hallowed associations Mr. Allen was born and brought up. In his youth two most important historical events were of recent occurrence and vivid in the memory of all Upper Canadians, the expatriation of their fathers and mothers by the rebels, coupled with the loss of ancestral homes and possessions sacrificed in the cause of loyalty; and the more recent attempts on the part of the successful rebels, by repeated invasions during three years, to obtain possession of this our sacred and beloved soil, which the labours of our pioneers had transformed from a wilderness to a land flowing with milk and honey. No wonder is it if we, their descendants, even at this distance of time, feel, as Mr. Allen and his contemporaries felt, anything but kindly towards those who have tried, and would try again to-morrow if the opportunity were offered, by fraud or by force, combined sometimes with flattery, oftener with insult, to rob us of our dearly won heritage, which we possess through the virtues and valour of our forefathers, and under the protection of the British Crown. the comparatively trifling incident of the Montgomery monument is only one instance out of many in which the attempt has been made to humiliate and over-reach us, and through us the Empire, of which we are proud to form a not insignificant part.
The late Mr. Allen was not one of those unconscious ones ignorant of the forefathers of the hamlet, who in their day sacrificed so much and toiled so nobly to hand down to us the blessings we enjoy. It was the writer's privilege, in company with other members of the Association, in 1898, to make a pilgrimage to Adolphustown, and to meet Mr. Allen, who presided over the gathering which welcomed us in the old church.
Fourteen years before, in 1884, the writer had been permitted to preach in that old church at the great Centennial celebration, and to enjoy Mr. Coatson's hospitality. Mr. Allen was a leading man on that grand occasion. And here still in 1898, was Mr. Parker Allen, alert and smiling and active, eighty-six years of age, giving us a hearty and loving welcome in these words among many others: -
"Dear Friends and Visitors, it gives us all great pleasure to have you among us to-day, affording us occasion to recall the interesting and animating memories of our past history. We hope that you on your part will experience all the pleasure you have anticipated from you visit to this locality. We wish prosperity to the Society to which you belong, and pray that it may be instrumental in disseminating abroad those principles of self-sacrificing loyalty to king and conscience which our heroic forefathers exemplified at so great a cost."
Respecting Mr. Allen's later days the Kingston Whig says that on leaving Adolphustown he spent the winter of 1900-1901 at Ottawa with a married daughter, and in the spring of 1901 came to Kingston, where he resided with another married daughter until his death in January of this year. He was seldom sick for even a day during his long life. On the 8th of January he was taken sick and became unconscious towards evening, and passed away quietly on the morning of the 10th, being ten days more than ninety years of age. His remains were temporarily deposited in the vault of Cataraqui Cemetery not far from his life-long friend John A. Macdonald. It is intended to inter his body at Adolphustown in the coming spring in the old St. Paul's burying ground where his father was buried.
In 1845, Mr. Allen married Miss Nash, of Picton, who survives him; he leaves two sons in Adolphustown, one son in Oregon, and two daughters married, one in Ottawa, and one in Kingston.
The Napanee Beaver in January, 1897, tells us that in the early part of the last century among Mr. Allen's schoolmates in the old school-house just east of the beautiful Memorial Church were "Litt Jack" Macdonald, and his sisters, Margaret and Jane, col. Samuel Dorland, Major Peter Dorland, the Caseys, the Trumpours, the Ruttans, the Harrises and others - all gone then except Mr. Garner and Mr. Allen - probably all passed away now. But their memory, let us hope, has not been lot. These good old people laboured - their descendants and successors have entered into their labours. And it would be an evil day for Canada, if its inhabitants, whether native-born or immigrants, should ever forget the enormous debt of gratitude and reverence which is due to those grand old United Empire Loyalists.
These be thy heroes, Canada;
These men of proof, whose test
Was in the fevered pulse of strife
When foeman thrusts at foeman's life;
and in that stern behest
When right must toil for daily bread,
While wrong on sumptuous fare is fed,
And men must choose between;
When right must shelter 'neath the skies,
While wrong in lordly mansion lies,
And men must choose between;
When right is cursed and crucified.
While wrong is cheered and glorified,
And men must choose between.
Stern was the test,
And sorely pressed,
That proved their blood best of the best,
And when for Canada you pray,
Implore kind Heaven
That, like a leaven,
The hero-blood, which then was given,
May quicken in her veins alway.
That from those worthy sires may spring,
In number as the stars,
Strong-hearted sons, whose glorying
Shall be in right
Though recreant might
Be strong against her in the fight,
And many be her scars;
So, like the sun, her honoured name
Shall shine to latest years the same.