Monday, June 30, 2008

Loyalist Spirit

The 51st edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is hosted by Thomas MacEntee of Destination: Austin Family. The topic is Independent Spirit in celebration of the 4th of July - Independence Day. However, July 1st is Canada Day and I'm celebrating by telling you about my independent, Loyalist ancestor, John Ryckman.

In the year 1775 people living in the Thirteen Colonies had to make a choice: fight for the Patriots and an independent nation, or fight for the Tories and England. Each side had their reasons. (See Wikipedia - The Patriots were sick and tired of England telling them what to do and they thought the best way was to raise arms and fight for their independence. Those who supported England and King George III, wanted representation in government for the Thirteen Colonies. However, they did not see the need to go to war. Some of those people were my ancestors.

The Ryckman, Van Slyke and Van Etten families had been in the Thirteen Colonies since the early 1600's. John Ryckman was born 14 December 1730 in Schenectady, New York. (Records of the Reformed Dutch Church in New Amsterdam/New York, 1639). He was the son of Johannes Ryckman and Maria Van Slyke. There were many Ryckmans and Van Slykes who fought for the Patriots. John's son Albert married Hannah Van Etten. Her father, Jacob Van Etten fought in the Second Regiment of the Tryon County (New York) Militia. The War of Independence divided this family.

John Ryckman and his family fought for the British. Unfortunately, not much is known about John's military service. From a claim for losses made by his wife Juna (Eunice) and his son, Samuel, John lost everything he owned to the Patriots. It is believed John spent most of the war in Fishkill Gaol. When he was released he came to Upper Canada and settled in Barton Township, Wentworth County. He died there in 1794.

A letter written by Andrew Bradt, Lieutenant Colonel, 5th Lincoln Militia provides proof of what happened to John.

Mr. John Ryckman resided in the Town of Schenectady in the State of New York before as well as at the breaking out of the Rebellion in the Americas, that he joined the Royal Standard under General Burgoyne in the State of New York in America in the year 1777, that in consequence of his Steady Loyalty Suffered much by the Enemy his property being consumed with fire, he taken a prisoner and detained from some time, that he came in this Province with his family in the year 1794 and died nine months after he arrived; that the Captain Samuel Ryckman of the 2nd York Militia is the youngest son of the Late John Ryckman of Schenectady who has rendered his services lucrative during the Late War.
My Personal acquaintance with the family's Loyalty to His Majesty since the year 1786 up to this present day, induces an anxious hope of the Governments Consideration to said family.
Your Humbly
Andrew Bradt
Lieut. Col. 5th Lincoln Militia
(source: Marshall, Sharon. Reflections of Our Ryckman Past Vol. 1, m & s Marhsall Productions, Port Stanley, Ontario, page 10.)

I believe John Ryckman is my family's true independent spirit. He lost his home, family and friends to fight a losing war for what he believed in. I am Canadian because John Ryckman made a choice.