The Story of Patience Rose

A Wild Rose Bush in watercolor by Wendy Harty March 2021

Patience Rose was grafted into my family tree. She would marry Philip Switzer, the uncle that lifted little Rebecca Switzer, my 5th great grandmother, Rebecca Miller, onto his saddle for a three hundred mile trip through the forests of New York to Quebec. Canada. With their marriage, when she was 22 and Phillip 27, I can call Patience Aunt. I think she is one of my favorites. I love her spirit, her adventure and imagine if she would have been caught.

The mists lifted at ten in the morning. Two armies faced each other. They slowed by the crossing of a ravine and then the difficult terrain of working their way through a dense forest. That morning, the biscuits were moldy and the uniforms shoddy. The British under Burgoyne had a council of war. Burgoyne also called for reinforcements that never showed up when internal squabbling came to a boil. Burgoyne attacked anyway. Burgoyne found himself trapped by superior American forces with no relief, so he retreated to Saratoga, where Patience Rose lived. By this time he had few Native scouts. The old treaties solemnly made with the King of England were honored. The Six Nations had become largely Christianized and civilized by the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. They were forced to leave their villages, cornfields, orchards and pastures. Their grand and fertile country was destroyed and confiscated. They were the first to take the path of exile and were welcomed and settled in Upper Canada, proud of their loyalty.

Patience’s father had not been pleased with the threat of war. It was a dangerous time to be loyal to the Crown. A loyal British subject, he resisted so radical a change and did not agree with the mob rule he saw developing. He had refused to sign when forced by the Patriots to declare his opposition to Britain. Branded a traitor and hounded by his Patriot neighbors, a man of some wealth and property, with his daughter, Patience Rose, at the age of 17, and her siblings would be burned out of their farm home and were lucky not to be tar and feathered as others had been, as the Patriots resorted to violence. The right to vote was removed, nor sell land, or work as lawyers, doctors or schoolteachers. To this family and many others the Revolution was treason. Alienated in her own land, and threatened from American society Patience needed an outside defender in the form of the British Army. And by July 4, 1776, the Patriots had gained control of the Thirteen Colonies and Loyalists fled or kept quiet. They gathered at New York and made it their base of operations from 1776-1783. Peter Switzer and and his brother-in-law Garrett Miller were required by the militia to sign an Oath of Allegiance to the new country. To avoid being driven from their homes they signed, but regrouped at Halifax along with 19,000 Loyalists who served Britain in specialty created provincial military corps, and served in the King’s Royal Regiment and Butler’s Rangers. These two, relatives of mine, were part of 1500 Loyalist militia. They had been captured and imprisoned but the war raged on. Other Irish-Palatine soldiers took part in the Saratoga campaign in New York.

September 19, 1777, the troops, before the mist lifted were ordered into three columns ready to advance. The German Hessians (with another relative named Henry Bush) were on their left, Boats on the river were bringing artillery. Hamilton was tasked in the center to scale the heights to a heavily wooded high ground. The Americans spotted the British in the field of John Freeman, a known loyalist. Mathias Rose, had leased land next to the Freeman Farm in Saratoga, so the family was surrounded by American troops. His wife, Dorcas was sister to John Freeman . Patience Rose grew up on the farm, her father was captured, released and joined the Miller’s and Switzer’s in joining the British in Canada. Her father had joined the Loyal Rangers and came marching with Burgoyne and Patience watched the battle from her tree. The Americans charged scattering men back into the woods. As the British fell back, they opened fire and some of their own men were killed. Poore’s Brigade were there, which would include Isaac and Joshua Gibbs in the 1st New Hampshire Regiment. At darkness, the Americans retreated back to their defense positions leaving the British on the field with over 600 casualties. Henry Young was taken prisoner. In the smoke and confusion he escaped. Patience Rose surveyed the scene of carnage out on the field, from up in her favorite old Red Oak. It was then she saw the man make a break back towards her. Tired from lack of adrenal, he ran and from her perch she saw his new danger. She whistled and the man stopped in bewilderment. She whistled again, bringing his eyes up into the tree. She motioned for him to climb and join her. Coming straight towards them was a contingent of soldiers tasked with removing the wounded from the field. Patience had saved him from capture again. With danger passed, she led Henry Young through an underbrush trail known to her back to Saratoga.

The British were on low on food and badly needed replacements. Governor Clinton and Benedict Arnold also had a fight on the American side. Burgoyne called a council of war. Most of his generals wanted to retreat but he refused saying that would be a disgrace. In the meantime another 12000 Patriots arrived who Burgoyne faced on October 7, 1777. Unbeknown to Burgoyne his intelligence had been intercepted and the Americans knew he wasn’t answered in his pleas for help. On October 17, 1777, Burgoyne fired his ten cannons at 2PM. Poore’s men. who included Isaac and Joshua Gibbs held there fire until the British led a bayonet charge. The Americans began shooting. The British will was broken and began a disorganized retreat. Burgoyne was nearly killed with three shots that hit his horse, his hat and his waistcoat. With 6 of his cannons captured and 1000 men dying, Burgoyne was outnumbered 3 to 1. On October 13, 1778 he surrendered. Tradition should have offered them honors of war as they marched out to surrender and safe passage back to England, but the American Continental Congress revoked the order and kept them in captivity. Henry Young witnessed the surrender at Saratoga, but he escaped being captured. Did his knowing Patience Rose help him and others vanish? His letter would hint so!

The statement of Patience’s father, Mathias Rose, says “The Rebels took all these things on their retreat from Burgoyne.”

In the summer of 1780 the State of New York passed an act stating that the wives of all persons having joined the enemy (The British) must leave the state in twenty days. The Rose family relocated to Fort St. John in southern Quebec, living in military camps. It was a hastily erected refugee camp. Loyalists especially soldiers could choose evacuation. They set up tents in the shelter of the woods and covered them with spruce boughs. It was here, at Sorel, Quebec, Uncle Philip Switzer fell in love with the spunky Patience and the couple were married January 16, 1784, at Montreal Christ Church Cathedral Anglican. From there, Philip and Rose were the first Switzer’s to settle in Ernestown, Ontario and Philip received grants at Ernestown, Addington County, Ontario.

At the time of the Battle of Saratoga, Henry Young, U.E. was a lieutenant in the King’s Royal Regiment in New York. He dated his statement February, 1816 that said Patience (then Rose) did venture her own life in sundry ways in aid of His Majesty’s Forces. He further claimed that Patience, through her assistance, had saved his life along with many more troops. She lived in Saratoga at the time and would have known the lay of land – little nooks, crannies, hiding places – from having hunted for wild berries and from playing hide-and-seek. When Patience Rose Switzer was 38 years her assistance to the loyalist during the Battle of Saratoga was acknowledged and she was granted 200 acres of land from the British government. Phillip and Patience Rose Switzer had 14 children and all but one lived to maturity and many to old age. I have a DNA match so feel confidence in calling her Aunt Patience. She died after 1853 in Camden East, Lennox and Addington County, Ontario, Canada.

I was excited to find this other side of the story of the Revolutionary War. It has led me to another 6th grandmother, Elizabeth “Betsy” Switzer, a sister to the above Phillip and wife to Garrett Miller, who were both captured in the Revolutionary War above. And in the finding it answered one of my questions from your son Isaac’s life which is why after fighting on the Patriots side did he end up among the Loyalists in Canada?

Late Loyalists, one fifth of those that had remained in the US after the Revolutionary War, by swearing an oath of allegiance to the King, arrived in Canada in the 1790’s attracted by Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe’s policy of free land and low taxes. His signature is attached to this oath: “I, Isaac Gibbs, farmer on the Seignory of St. Armand, and came into the Province of Lower Canada, by water by way of Lake Champlain, on the 9th day of October, 1792” made his Oath of Allegiance to the King.

Perhaps Isaac realized there may have been a better way than the bloodshed. Perhaps he understood that the Stamp Act had never been put into force, and it was the leader’s pride and temper that took the place of reason and moderation. Maybe he witnessed the atrocious penal laws enacted on the the remaining Loyalists of personal outrages on the aged and respected Loyalists who had not fought. It only added to their bitterness and animosity. Maybe he read Rev. Mather Byles statement, “Better to live under one tyrant a thousand miles away, then a thousand tyrants one mile away!. At the close of the war 100,000 Loyalist Americans left the Port of New York. Many more would take the path of Isaac on a flat bottomed boat across the Lake. The world had not seen such an exile since the Huguenots of France. (Hugo Freer my 9th great grandfather) or the Palatines story of my 5th great grandfather Christopher Stump to New York in 1709.

England recognized the Colonies independence at the end of the hard fought seven year Revolutionary War. Loyal Americans found themselves homeless and unwelcome and aliens to the land of their birth. Deprived of their property and livelihood, lands confiscated, it is a sad and touching story while they tried to reimagine themselves. By 1783, the British organized an evacuation from New York. Lower and Upper Canada had been created with the French wanting their French civil laws and Catholic religion and the British and the Loyalists advocating for British laws and their legal system were given a land grant of 200 acres/person. Although they lost the war, their honor wasn’t tarnished and retained their allegiance as subjects to Crown and Empire. They came bleeding and wounded after seven years of war, stripped of anything earthly. They came to the forests that had to be cut before they could be planted. For two years they had the support of the military stores of Fort Niagara, before they could support themselves, wives and children. In another five years they had formalized a Constitution and Government and in September 1792 held the first Parliament at Fort George. They had law, order, governance and declared slavery abolished! The States had rebelled in the name of Liberty, declared all men free and equal then sanctioned human slavery. We Canadians can boast being the first in all the world to legislate for justice for humanity. The United Empire Loyalists U.E.L. ranked among the noblest of men and stand out to me on the pages of history. The crime of dividing the English race was not theirs. America lost the best of the best: judges, lawyers, legislators, clergymen, soldiers, merchants and craftsmen. They were also Christians and though leaving their possessions behind them brought Bibles, the ten commandments, and the sacred vessels of communion. They brought the Church of England, Methodism, Wesleyans, and Roman Catholic religions. They all understood “Fear of God and Honor to the King”. They made Canada a free country where all were free to express their opinions and theories but weren’t allowed to abuse those who disagreed. They were law-abiding. To the County of Lennox and Addington, Ontario, Canada came my ancestors and built the towns of Switzerville, Ernestown and Napanee which sprang up and settled the land along the St. Lawrence, from Kingston to the shores of the Bay of Quinte and on to the Niagara. Here I find another group of great, great, x grandparents, children and cousins on both my mothers side of Rogers and Miller, and my father’s of Switzer, Miller, Bush, LeRoy, Jaycocks, Saxe, Gibbs, Weaver, and Young. To them I recognize the sacrifices they made in founding a province, though privation and toil which led the foundations for my freedoms, traditions, rights and liberties.

Great Grandmother Keziah, what are the chances of all that is written about this time in history that an obscure note on a land claim, written by Henry Young, about Patience Rose would catch my attention. I truly believe it is your guidance urging me on. My grandmother Olive Gibbs Waddell would carry the DNA of both sides of the Revolutionary War: the Switzer’s, Miller’s on her maternal side and the Gibb’s on her paternal side. And both would end up in Canada, the ancestral story of migration.

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