Fifth Great-Grandfather David Scranton: Patriot or Loyalist?

I’ve seen a few old inquiries on the internet, asking if David Scranton was a Loyalist during the American Revolution. It’s a fair enough question, since he moved to Nova Scotia shortly after the war and transported a number of Loyalists with him. Also, he is not listed on the Daughters of the American Revolution Ancestor Search database. Because he moved to the British territory of Nova Scotia, David probably never could have applied for a Revolutionary War pension, so I would not find him in those types of records. However, all this is not enough to draw a conclusion. The following is what I’ve found.

In the book “Record of service of Connecticut men in the War of the Revolution” (page 614), David Scranton of Durham is listed as one of the ensigns in Colonel Ely’s State Regiment during June 1777. Other officers included Lieutenant Colonel James Arnold and Major Elias Buell. I found further evidence in Asa Burdick’s Revolutionary War pension application affidavit. Asa was part of a company in New London, Connecticut, commanded in June 1777 by “Captain Collins, Lieutenant Taylor and Ensign David Scranton, in a regiment commanded by Col. Ely and Lieutenant Col. Arnold.” The company was involved in building the original Fort Trumbull at New London.

In another Revolutionary War pension application affidavit by Abiel Baldwin, Abiel was part of team in 1781 that transported beef from Durham to Fishkill for the troops there, under David Scranton’s direction.

In William Chauncey Fowler’s book “History of Durham Connecticut,” David was among those chosen on February 27, 1782 from Durham as part of a committee to put together a regiment to defend Horse Neck & the western frontier. (Today, Horse Neck is now known as Field Point in a very exclusive area of Greenwich, Connecticut along the coast.) Now although the British formally surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781, there were still British troops in New York City (a relatively short distance from Greenwich) until November 25, 1783, so I presume the local militia stayed on alert until that time.

To answer the question “was David Scranton a Patriot or Loyalist?”, my verdict is that he was definitely a Patriot! (As a side note, his brother Abraham’s service in the American Revolution has been well-documented.)

So how did David and his family fare during the War of 1812, where there was a lot of hostility along the US/Canada border and at sea? I couldn’t find any mention of him in any kind of service in the war. Even though he was over sixty, he would at least have opportunity to donate supplies or support the cause of the British if he had chosen to do so. Much of New England, including David’s home state of Connecticut, did not support the US government’s decision to go to war with Great Britain. In spite of this, the British did attack Essex, Connecticut (only a few towns away from Durham) in 1814. On a more personal note, David’s nephew Hamlet Scranton who in Rochester, NY had to get his family to safety after a British raid at nearby Fort Niagara in late 1813. Certainly the strained trade relations hit the shipping industry hard, so it was a good thing that David had the farm to fall back on. In any case, David and his family remained in Nova Scotia regardless of where his sympathies may have laid.

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Third Great Aunt Sarah Ann (Lipsett) Hiltz

Sarah Ann Lipsett, oldest daughter and second oldest child of Robert Bruce Lipsett and Christina McMaster, was born on January 30, 1861 in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia.

Sarah immigrated to Massachusetts between 1881 and 1886 (perhaps she came over with her brother Stanley). It looks like she was never naturalized as a U.S. citizen.

On November 22, 1886, Sarah married Charles Albert Hiltz in Gloucester, Essex County, MA. Judging by their oldest child’s 1900 Census data, it looks like Sarah and Charles returned to Nova Scotia in 1887, but came back to Gloucester in 1889.

Their children:

  • Rita M., born 1887 in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia Naturalized in the 1920s. Never married.
  • Ethel Morton, born on December 13, 1890 in Gloucester. Married Charles N. Lipsett (her 1st cousin) on June 12, 1916. (This is the cousin that my great-grandmother Eva lived with during the early years of her marriage, while her husband Thomas F. Atwell was at sea.)
  • Christina Lipsett, born on January 20, 1893 in Gloucester. Married William R.C. Burke on November 22, 1919.
  • Robert Clifton, born on November 25, 1895 in Gloucester. Married Bessie Christian Larsen on April 4, 1915.
  • Jennie Leona, born on March 13, 1901 in Gloucester. Married Walter Carl Monroe on August 18, 1918.

On August 31, 1907, Charles died of stomach cancer. Sarah was now a single mother of five children aged six to twenty. I’m sure Rita helped support the family, but Sarah turned to what many widowed women did back in those days: take in a boarder. Now it seems that Sarah and Charles had a number of boarders back in 1900 (some of whom seemed to be family), but by the 1910 Census they were all gone.

Enter the mysterious (to me) Frank Dauphinee, a Gloucester fisherman born in Nova Scotia around 1871. Frank not only lived with them at least from the 1910’s to the end of his life in 1940, but he is also buried at Beech Brook Cemetery in Gloucester on the family plot. (A special thanks to Sharon Cohen, the Find-a-Grave contributor who photographed and annotated the layout of the plot.) I’ve found very little information on Frank, except that he was in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Samoa in 1900. In any case, he obviously held a special place in the family’s hearts.

A typical Gloucester fisherman.  Courtesy Library of Congress.

A typical Gloucester fisherman. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Back to Sarah: she lived with Rita until her death on February 9, 1926. Along with her husband, children, and most of their spouses (and Frank, of course), she is buried in Beech Brook Cemetery.

Great-grandmother Eva Christina (Lipsett) Atwell: Artifacts & Stories

One significant fact of my great-grandmother Eva’s life was that she was from Nova Scotia. This was important, because for many summers (maybe even every summer), she and her family would visit the old home place in Manchester. When her daughter (my grandmother) Eugenie was grown, she in turn would take her family there, too. My father and aunt both had fond memories of Nova Scotia.

The cottage in Nova Scotia.  Author's collection.

The cottage in Nova Scotia. Author’s collection.

I don’t know if there’s any particular character traits to Nova Scotians, but Eva was a reputedly straightforward person. She said things as she saw them, but she was a very likable person. My mother, who probably only met her a few times, had only good things to say about her and in fact honored Eva’s memory by naming one of my sister’s middle names after her.

My aunt Cheryl (later known as Cherie) seemed to have a very close relationship with Eva (her grandmother). Eva had saved up for and assembled a silverware set for when Cheryl got married. The marriage never happened, but Cheryl did cherish this gift by guarding it carefully through each of her moves; even when money was tight, she would not depart from the silverware. Cheryl wrote a semi-fictional sketch of Eva and Eva’s cousins entitled “The Club“. In it she paints a picture of Eva, her culture, and her relationship with her granddaughter.

“The Club” alludes to lace being everywhere in the home. Indeed, Eva tatted her own lace, of which I have a couple of pieces.

Lace tatted by Eva.  Author's collection.

Lace tatted by Eva. Author’s collection.

My final piece of heritage from Eva is her Squash Pie recipe, which my father preferred over Pumpkin Pie. My mother cooked this pie for many Thanksgivings. Here is the recipe:

Eva’s Squash Pie

1 cup sugar          1/4 cup mace
3/4 tsp salt          1 cup squash (butternut squash, from a can)
1 tsp cinnamon    3 eggs
1 tsp nutmeg       1 cup heavy cream/evaporated milk
3/4 tsp ginger     1 pie shell

Add sugar, salt & spices to squash and mix thoroughly. Beat eggs, add cream, and mix with squash. Line pie pan with pastry and pour in filling. Bake at 450 degrees fro 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake 40 minutes till knife inserted in center comes out clean. (Note: Allow to cool to room temperature.)