Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A Time in Old Ontario part 7

By the 1840’s, the population of Upper Canada was changing. It was no longer weighted so heavily by the previous influx of Americans. Immigrants from the United Kingdom had started to make their way to this new land, a place they would be able to own a piece of, something beyond the reach of most in the countries they were coming from. 

Prospects in Upper Canada were starting to improve. The newcomers were arriving at a time when agriculture had started to recover and the 1841 amalgamation of Upper and Lower Canada was improving Upper Canada’s economic outlook. 

As the 1840s dawned, Charles Tripp was on the cusp of entering his 80s. He and his wife, Jane, had 13 children who would have ranged in age from 48 to 26. They were grown and scattered on both sides of the border. Like their parents, the next generation was willing to move to find greener pastures. 

Perhaps some of their sons or daughters were still in Upper Canada to be of assistance to their aged parents at the start of the decade. According to the records in the pension file, Charles was still living in Upper Canada when he died in 1844. Jane’s application for a widow’s pension came in September of 1846 but took some time for a pension to be granted. Her part of the file contained depositions dated between 1846 and 1849. The difficulty was that there were no documents to support Jane’s marriage to Charles Tripp.

This must have been frustrating for Jane. She was required to send in a wealth of documentation to prove her claim. The file contains copies of a bible with the birth dates and names of Charles’ and Jane's children as well as numerous depositions from people who had known and/or were related to them.

Most interesting to me were the depositions of two of her aged Woodworth cousins, Ebenezer and Luke. They gave evidence that supported the marriage of the couple in 1792 but in their 1849 depositions both of these men told the story of the death of Jane’s father, Captain Solomon Woodworth. They stated that Captain Woodworth fell fighting the “Indians and Tories”, leaving Jane “fatherless”.  This probably shifted the evidence in Jane’s favour. She was granted her pension not long after.

This story about Jane’s background changed my thoughts about her move to Upper Canada. It was a bit more than antipathy between the true Loyalists of Upper Canada and the American Johnny come latelys. Jane had experienced a personal loss at the hands of people like those she moved to live among. Maybe this was why a few years lapsed between Charles’ proof of settlement and the date he stated that he moved to Upper Canada. Were they years to persuade Jane or for her to accustom herself to leaving the land that her father had fought for?

Did her cousins’ statements remind Jane of her discomfort? In the court’s summing up upon the granting of her pension the following is stated: “payment to be made in this case in the City of Albany as the Old Lady will return to the states as soon as she receives her pension. She is poor and has not the means of support and intends to return to her mother country as soon as the claim is obtained.”*

It is not known if Jane returned to New York State, but she and Charles had founded a family whose history is intertwined with the past and present of two countries. 

Sources: US Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900 – record of Charles & Jane Tripp *p624 of 1204

Craig, Gerald M. Upper Canada: The Formative Years, 1784-1841. Oxford University Press, Don Mills, Ontario, 2013

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