Kimmitt Genealogical Research

20 September 2015

Would You Be Loyalist or a Patriot?

Sudbury Company Of Militia, Mountain View Cemetery, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts,
photo by Tina Clegg, 2007.
Have you ever stopped to wonder which side you would have chosen during the Revolutionary War? Would you have been a Whig (Rebel /Patriot) or a Tory (Royalist/Loyalist)?

I found a little Wikipedia article that discusses motivations for choosing a side. Not everyone actively made a decision, but supposedly about 40-45% were Patriots and 15-20% Loyalists. The other 35% just chilled and managed to get by without taking an oath pledging allegiance to either side. There are eight key differences. According to the article, on the whole:
  1. Loyalists were older, better established, and more likely to resist innovation. 
  2. Loyalists saw the Crown as the legitimate government, and resistance to it morally wrong, while Patriots asserted that the British government had violated our constitutional rights. 
  3. Men who objected to physical attacks on Royal officials took the Loyalist position, while those who applauded were being Patriots. 
  4. Most men who wanted to find a compromise solution wound up on the Loyalist side, while the proponents of immediate action became Patriots. 
  5. Merchants with financial and sentimental attachments to the Empire were likely to remain loyal to the system. Few Patriots were so deeply enmeshed in the system. 
  6. Some Loyalists were procrastinators who believed that independence was bound to come some day, but wanted to postpone the moment; the Patriots wanted to seize the moment. 
  7. Loyalists were cautious and afraid of anarchy or tyranny that might come from mob rule; Patriots made a systematic effort to use and control mob violence. 
  8. Loyalists lacked the Patriots' confidence that independence lay ahead. [1]
Where would you stand if this were happening today? Here are my reactions to these eight points.
  1. I'm old and reasonably well-established, though I don't resist innovation: Loyalist.
  2. I respect the government and our laws even if I know they are far from perfect: Loyalist.
  3. I don't like to hurt people, so I wouldn't be approving of the old tar and feathering: Loyalist.
  4. I'm a compromiser: Loyalist.
  5. I'm don't own a Fortune 500 company: Patriot.
  6. I'm not a procrastinator, but I'm really patient and believe that eventually things come to some kind of equilibrium: Loyalist.
  7. I just hate mob rule: Loyalist.
  8. I would be unsure as to the outcome and fear repercussions for the losing side: Loyalist.
King's Rangers at the Fort at Number Four, Charlestown NH,photo courtesy of Dan Dudley.
Of course, my opinion wouldn't have mattered at all because I'm a woman. But let's say I was male, and like most of my ancestors, a farmer. I can't imagine getting all that worked up about unfair taxation while worrying about crops and livestock, at least not enough to to to war over it. But that's female 21st century me, talking. You might imagine that I probably wouldn't have been schooled enough to know or care about the cause of republicanism either. But the concept is one easily grasped and I can see how it took root even among those who had very little education. It was a noble, rational, modern, uplifting concept, and I would have bought into it completely, so despite all of the above, I still don't know!

I've got bunches of Loyalist ancestors who did flee the country and ended up in New Brunswick, Canada. They came from New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island mostly. I have not delved into deep research on them but have collected bits and pieces from my mother's research and online records. There are published sources on early Loyalists that provide some help as well. The problems start to arise when we look at their descendants. Life was very rough up there and record keeping left a lot to be desired, so what remains today is sparse. I'm excited to plan a research trip to New Brunswick and really dig in.

Old Sturbridge Village, Redcoats and Rebels Event,
with King's Rangers Loyalist group, photo by Dan Dudley, August 2015.


1. "Patriot (American Revolution)," Wikipedia ( : accessed 22 April 2015), citing Leonard Woods Larabee, Conservatism in Early American History (1948) pp 164-65; allso N. E. H. Hull,Peter C. Hoffer and Steven L. Allen, "Choosing Sides: A Quantitative Study of the Personality Determinants of Loyalist and Revolutionary Political Affiliation in New York," Journal of American History, Vol. 65, No. 2 (Sept. 1978), pp. 344-366 in JSTOR; also Edwin G. Burrows and Michael Wallace, "The American Revolution: The Ideology and Psychology of National Liberation," Perspectives in American History, (1972) vol. 6 pp 167-306.

14 September 2015

GenStock 2015: On Being An Early Adapter

Yesterday was the final day of GenStock 2015, a three-day retreat for professional genealogists. GenStock was the brainchild of Billie Fogarty and Matthew McCormack who managed to bring to fruition a dreamy vision first conjured up 18 months ago after years of what-ifs discussed at conventional genealogical conferences. 
  • What if we could get together for longer periods of time, without the distractions of conference work? In a really relaxing, casual place?
  • What if we had time to really explore the state of the field of genealogy? And to examine what constitutes being professional in our field?
  • What if we had input not only from well established genealogists but also from newer professionals with the potential to imbue our community with new ideas and more energy?
  • What if we could view one another as colleagues instead of competitors?
  • What if we could find a way to give newer professionals the acknowledgement they often deserve without thinking they need to "come up the hard way," like we did.
The dream had us all coming together on a farm in Northern Michigan to ruminate on these concepts and more: alternatives for advanced education; how to market your business; whether there a need for a new publication, and so much more –– essentially, anything we all could think up to discuss.

Matt and Billie had no idea whether people would come. So hard to get to, no nearby repository to justify the expense of the trip. Early details were vague as they wisely left it to the greater group to discover its own purpose. Invitations were awkward. It would be impossible to invite every serious professional, so they introduced it in phases, enlarging the "guest list" each time, and eventually extending the invitation to all serious professionals, telling us, "invite colleagues you think would enjoy it." Still, a risky undertaking and some feelings were hurt, but I suppose that was unavoidable.

The resulting mix was 20 people that normally would not be thrown together like that: some nationally known, others pretty new to the scene; old and young, taking clients and not. So over the course of three days on Matt's beautiful farm in Alpena we gathered to share and learn. And now we want to disseminate what we concluded. 

The first words out of Billie's mouth were, "There are no wrong answers here." She set a tone of warm acceptance and no one violated that, to my knowledge. I did not hear any sniping and I must say it felt really nice after three days of constant discussions not to witness any animosity.
Colleagues want to know what we learned. I learned very little. But I stopped to dwell on some things that I've already recognized, but have not worked toward improving, and I will do so in the future.
  • Our awareness of others generally results from them being outstanding students in a course, being on the lecture circuit, being introduced by another colleague, or writing for journals. Many superior genealogists do not fall into any of those neat little boxes, and there are colleagues we may never have heard of who do great work.
  • Our colleagues can be supportive and encouraging when relieved of their fears and gently massaged in that direction. 
  • Experience in the field of genealogy is not the only criterion by which professionals should be judged. Those transitioning over from other professions may have research, writing and analysis skills that put them way ahead of the game. Advanced courses and the proliferation of primary information on the web speeds up their learning curve tremendously.
  • People are their own worse enemies, usually from insecurity. The cure is to date to reach out, share your concerns about yourself and soon enough your colleagues will help you overcome that barrier.
I did learn one thing. I finally got it through my thick skull that the SLIG Practicum is extremely useful, even (especially!!) for the advanced genealogist. So I am going to be brave and go for it in January. I'm secretly (not so much secretly after this) afraid that I won't solve any of them, but must admit that's probably not going to happen. I think if all of us could do just one think we're nervous or insecure about we'd all be a lot better off, so that's mine.

Billie and Matt, you have created a beautiful thing. You laid the ground work and then let it grow organically into an entity which will positively impact our field. Thank you for that. For those of you that did not attend, there WILL be a GenStock 2016, so stay tuned.