The "Loyalist", Benjamin Bradford

 

 

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Benjamin Bradford entered Canada, the northern British colony in 1784, but his life was interesting before he became a "Loyalist"...

Benjamin Bradford was a lineal descendant of Governor William Bradford of the Plymouth Colony. He was the ninth child of Joshua and Hannah (Cole?) Bradford; born May 28th, 1753 at Kingston, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. The Bradfords had lived in the Plymouth area since Gov. Bradford and other Pilgrims sailed in Plymouth Harbour aboard the Mayflower and planted their feet on Plymouth Rock in 1620. However around 1754, Benjamin's family moved from Massachusetts, and by 1757, they were at Meduncook, Maine (later renamed Friendship). At Meduncook, the British had constructed a fort on a small island which overlooked the small harbour. Positioned at Meduncook, the British would be centrally located on the Maine coast. A small settlement, or "plantation", sprung up around the fort. Joshua built his homestead on a peninsula at Meduncook which, at low tide, gave access to the fort on the island.

Shortly after arriving at Meduncook, it is said that Joshua saved the then Abenaki Indian chief, Chief Moxus, who had fallen through ice during the winter. Unfortunately, this encounter and the consequential impression of a new friendship would cost Joshua and his wife their lives. On May 22, 1758, the troops at the garrison fort fired off an alarm shot to alert the nearby settlers. Joshua, who supposedly was busy working on a grinding wheel did not hear the shot and was not alarmed upon seeing the approaching party of Indians. The Indians killed Joshua, Hannah, their youngest son Winslow, another local woman and her child. Whether or not those Indians were part of Moxus' nation is not known. While some of the Bradford children managed to escape to the fort, two boys, Joshua Jr. and Benjamin, were captured and taken away by the Indians.

According to oral legend, the Indians and the captured boys traveled as far north as the Saint John, New Brunswick. The Indians no doubt were engaged in actions related to the French and Indian War (1754-1763) and may had driven north to the area of what is now the Canadian province of New Brunswick as it was a hot bed of activity at the time. Both Joshua and Benjamin were less than 10 years of age at the time. While no one is sure how long they were held by the Indians, at some point one of the boys was caught stealing food from the home of a settler in New Brunswick. When the settler realized that the boy was actually of British decent and a prisoner of Indians, he provided the boys with food and directions/map to find their way back to central Maine. With that, the boys set for home. (Read More on the "Massacre at Friendship".)

At some point, Joshua Jr. and Benjamin reunited with their family. An older brother, Cornelius Bradford and an older sister, Rachel, was among some of the family back in central Maine. What we do know is that Benjamin married Martha "Mitea" Studley of Bristol, Lincoln Co., Maine on September 13th, 1773 at Bristol. "Mitea" as she was commonly known, was the daughter of Daniel Studley and Mary Pittee/Pettee. She was born on November 16th, 1754 in Rhode Island.

By the early 1770s, the atmosphere in the American Colony was less than favorable for those loyal to the British. These people were often called "Tories", "Royalist" or "King's Men". The Loyalists were conservative and cautious in their stance when compared to the strong-armed, and sometimes violent, approach of the Patriots. In areas under rebel control, Loyalists were subject to confiscation of property, and outspoken supporters of the king were threatened with public humiliation such as tarring and feathering, or physical attack. In March 1776, the Patriots drove the British out of Boston.

In the late 1770s, many New England "Loyalists" begun to gathered around the area of Penobscot Bay. In June 1779, a British naval and military force under the command of General Francis McLean sailed into Penobscot Bay and into the harbour at Castine. There, they landed troops, and established the colony "New Ireland". They began erecting Fort George on one of the highest points of the peninsula. The Americans reacted to this by sending forces north to push the British forces out. A large American naval armada, of over 40 ships, sailed north. Amongst those Loyalists seeking the protection of the British forces were Benjamin and Mitea Bradford. They have relocated from the Bristol and the Meduncook/Friendship area at Muscongus Bay and moved further up the coast to the Castine.

When the Treaty of Paris was signed in September 1783, the British forces and Loyalists settlers were order to vacant the area, thus abandoning their plans to establish the colony of New Ireland. That same year, the Loyalists at Penobscot formed an administrative group and completed plans to relocate to Passamaquoddy Bay, particularly the area of St. Andrews. This location was in view of the American boundary, just across the St. Croix River. However the land east of the St. Croix River to the boundary of the Magaguadavic River was in dispute between Massachusetts and the Province of Nova Scotia.

On June 10, 1784, a census was taken of those Loyalist settled at Penobscot. Benjamin is listed under the men, while Mitea (or "Millity" as it is spelled on the census). Also found on the census, in the list of "children over the age of 10", is Anna. In the list of "children under the age of 10" are Daniel, Mary and Benjamin. This census was complete prior to the Loyalists moving north where a new hardship would face them. Despite living in fair settled areas in New England, moving north would mean clearing lands and building homes. Establishing new communities would mean supply chains may be limited.

In late 1784, Benjamin and Martha Bradford arrived in the new land and had at four children all under the age of ten with them. Later four more children were born in Canada. Many of the Loyalists received two land grants. Benjamin received one parcel of land in what is now the Town of St. Andrews and another parcel of land, of approximately 100 acres, in Bayside (at the location of what is now the rock quarry). The front of his lot at Bayside, and as well a section of the adjoining lot of John Soloman, was reserved for fortification as it was located at the junction of two rivers, the St. Croix River and the Waweig River. He also acquired land at Oak Point (Todd's Point) which was immediately across Waweig River and his lot at Bayside. At Todds Point, he operated a farm and also operated a ferry across the river. The ferry was known for many years as Bradford's Ferry. The ferry landing was located on the south side of the Point and may have been in the cove facing Devil's Head in Maine. This ferry was a key link between the communities of St. Andrews and St. Stephen, especially in a time before rail service.

When the Loyalists first arrived, it was almost winter time, so the first winter was hard for many of them as their only shelter that first winter was their tents. On really cold nights some of the family had to stay up all night to keep the fires burning, to make sure the rest of the family didn't freeze during the night. This was a big contrast to the way their life once was back in the New England. The British tried to help the Loyalists get settled. They gave them some of the things they would need to get started. Food supplies which consisted of beef, bread, oatmeal, butter, pork, rum and peas, as well as tools which consisted of a hammer, compass, saw, chisel, file, ginlet, auger and a knife.

With the Spring of 1785 and when the snow was gone, the Loyalists started to build log homes. This was no doubt a challenge for them as well as they had very few tools and what tools they did have were the cruddiest of tools, they had neither bucks nor lines. The chimneys and fireplaces were built of a stone laid in yellow clay. They covered their roofs of their homes with small panes of glass.

While there was been some dispute to whether the property at Todd's Point was owned by Benjamin Bradford, proof can be found in the fact that in 1823 he sold land to Christopher Scott. Following is a copy of the land transfer. Below is the transcription of the Land Transfer from Benjamin Bradford to Christopher Scott, dated 05 September 1823:

Sic" Known by all men by these present that I, Benjamin Bradford of St. Andrews in the County of Charlotte and the Province of New Brunswick, farmer, and in consideration of one thousand pounds to me in hand, well and truly paid on or before the ensealing of those present by Christopher Scott of St. Andrews in the County and Province aforesaid, esquire, the receipt whereof I do herby acknowledge and am therefore full and entirely satisfied and contented, have granted, bargained and sold and by these present do hereby grant, bargain and sell unto the said Christopher Scott, his heirs and assigns all that certain tract or parcel of land known and distinguished as the Bradford Farm at Oak Point, with all the buildings and improvements thereof containing more or less, one hundred acres, bounded westerly by a line running north from a spruce tree on the St. Croix to a birch on Oak Bay. To have and to hold the said granted and bargained tract or parcel of land unto the said Christopher Scott, his heirs, executors, administrators and assigns to their only proper use, benefit and forever and I, Benjamin Bradford, do avouch myself to be the true and lawful owner of the said tract of land and have in me full power, good right and lawful authority, to dispose of the said lands and appurtenances in manner as aforesaid and further, I, Benjamin do covenant and agree to warrant and ---- the said lot or tract of land with the exception of the Crown to enter thereon the lawful claims and demands of all person whatsoever unto him, the said Christopher Scott. In witness thereof I, Benjamin Bradford, have herewith set my and hand and seal the fifth day of September anno domini 1823, and in the fifth year of our Sovereign Lord, George the Fourth, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain and Ireland, King Defender of the Faith. Ye signed, seared and delivered in the presence of Colin Campbell, Benjamin Bradford and James Wilson, Charlotte Co.

A short time after arriving in Canada, Benjamin and Mitea Bradford had a daughter, Huldah, who was born at Bayside on November 24th, 1784. She was the first child born in the Canadian colony. Benjamin and Mitea Bradford had a total of eight (8) children:
  1. Ann - born abt. 1774 in Maine; married William Eary, had at least one child.
  2. Daniel - born in 1775 in Maine, died April 14th, 1859; married Jane "Jeannie" Lunt, had six (6) children.
  3. Mary "Polly"- born abt. 1778 in Maine; married Thadeus Sibley, had at least one child.
  4. Benjamin Franklin - born abt. 1779 in Maine, died August 16th, 1858; married Lucy Russell, had at least one child.
  5. Huldah - born on November 24th, 1784 in New Brunswick, died on August 15th, 1876; married Martin Byrne, had at least seven (7) children.
  6. Rachael - born abt. 1785 in New Brunswick; married John Smith.
  7. Joshua - born on May 13th , 1787 in New Brunswick, died on July 25th, 1829; married Sarah Ann "Sally" Trott, had seven (7) children.
  8. Martha - born on December 16th, 1789 in New Brunswick, died on April 13th, 1868; married John Hopps Jr., had at least eleven (11) children.

While the three sons and several daughters of Benjamin and Mitea remained in the Charlotte County area, two daughters, Huldah and Polly, relocated to Washington County, Maine and raised families there.

Benjamin Bradford, the "Loyalist", died in 1832 at the age of 79 and is buried in an unknown location at Todd's Point. His wife, Martha/Mitea, died on June 23 1854 at the age of 83(?). She is buried in the Ledge United Cemetery. In 2013, the Ledge United Church was sold and removed.

The property at Todd's Point would eventually be purchased by the Ganong Family. Today, much of the land is part of the Ganong Nature Park.

 

Bradford Family Genealogy
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Updated: 30 August 2016
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