THE TRIALS AND TRAVELS OF SAMUEL MOORE (a popular history)
(born Rahway, N.J. 1742 – died Norwich, Ontario 1822)
by Robert W. Moore Read by Robert W. Moore at the Moore Reunion of 2007
We pick up the story in July, 1776. Samuel is 34 years old, and he has lived on
the family farm all his life. His family has lived in this settlement of Rahway,
N.J. for over 110 years. His great-
He also appreciated that the family came to New Jersey to find peace. He often
heard his grandfather John’s re-
But the family had found peace in New Jersey. Once they had learned how to respect the Natives who would come and go over the land as they pleased, the Natives became their friends and often helped them to survive periods of hunger and sickness. Not to say there weren’t the challenges of overgrown forests and wild beasts, but those threats only required hard work and vigilance.
No, it wasn’t the Natives, or the bears or the hard work that worried him now. It was the erratic behaviour of the neighbours who were forcing their personal attitudes towards the British on everyone else. Men he had known since he was a child, whom he had played with, and gone to school and to the meeting house with, men he had bartered with and built barns with, these same men were demanding that he and all his neighbours speak out against the British, and take an oath to support the Declaration of Independence that had been proclaimed 17 days earlier at the colonial congress.
Samuel had no argument with the British. He didn’t care for taxes but he knew that only a fool would believe that a change of government would reduce the taxes. It was really only the merchants in the cities who had any argument over the tariffs on their imports, but even they had conveniently forgotten how much it had cost the British to protect their merchant ships from the French pirates for the last 20 years!
Furthermore, as a member of the Society of Friends, Samuel could not take an oath of any kind, even the Oath of Allegiance. His neighbours knew this, but many of them had given up their Quaker principles when they sensed personal profit was in the exchange. He knew for a fact that some of them were jealous of how productive his farms were, and suspected that some may have had designs on his property if they could force him to leave.
He had wondered if these fears were unfounded, but last week’s news had shown him
that they were all too real. One of his good neighbours, Henry Edison, had been
strung up and tarred and feathered during the night, and hadn’t survived the ordeal. He
had been neutral, too, but when the rebels came to conscript his sons, he started
shooting at them, and things had gone from bad to worse.1 His widow had been warned
that they would be back to burn down the house in three days, and apparently she
was preparing to move in with her brother-
Within a few days, the rebel leaders had started calling at Samuel’s door. First, only two came in the daytime for a peaceful visit, but the longer he resisted the worse it got. Then they came at night, a mob of them with torches demanding that Samuel come out and take the oath, or they would give him the same treatment they had given Edison. The next day, Samuel secretly told his brother Edward that he was going to have to escape to the British camps at New York City, and asked him to keep an eye on Rachel and the six children. Edward had married into one of the prominent families and was somewhat protected. He had had his carpenter tools confiscated a few times for the sake of the Revolution but had had no threats against him.
Samuel did manage to escape but when the local Committee of Safety found out, they arrived at the farm, and in the name of “the American government, violently forced [Rachel] and the children out of the house, put them on a wagon, and sent them under a flag of truce to the British line at Amboy.” 3, 4
Today, we think that refugee camps are modern inventions, but war has always displaced persons and created refugees, and Samuel and his family ended up in the Loyalist refugee camp in New York City. They created a home of some fashion there, and their seventh child, Enoch, was born in the camp on April 16, 1779.5
During the late summer of 1780, Samuel and Rachel and the children boarded a British
ship along with many of their New Jersey neighbours like the Edisons, and the Bowlbys,
and headed for the Bay of Fundy where they would be re-
Samuel and Rachel Stone Moore made a home for themselves and their seven children, and added four more children between 1781 and 1788. They were able to take up hundreds of acres around Middleton, Nova Scotia, but Samuel never forgot about his home and family in New Jersey.
After 30 years in Nova Scotia, Samuel and Rachel figured it was safe to visit New Jersey. They sold all of their farms to neighbours, and to more recently arrived immigrants, and sent some of their older children ahead of them to Ontario. Samuel and Rachel were going to head south to visit family and then head north to Ontario. Rachel Stone Moore never saw Ontario. In December of 1813, Samuel laid her in the ground at Elizabethtown, New Jersey at the age of 70.
Samuel kept moving, however. He bade farewell to his wife and the family farm for the last time and loaded up his wagon to make the trek to Ontario. His brother, Joseph, had made the trip a number of times as a peace treaty negotiator for the Quakers, so Samuel knew it could be done.
In fact, he was so confident that it wouldn’t be too bad a trip that he purchased a beautiful, 8 foot 2 inch tall grandfather clock from Isaac Shoonmaker in Paterson, New Jersey, and added it to the other parcels in his wagon. His confidence was well placed, and Samuel arrived in Ontario, and raised his clock in a new home here. That clock is still in the family today and still ticking. Oh, if it could only talk!
1. Situation adapted from Flight by Connie Brummel Crook, U.E.
2. John Edison was the grandfather of Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor.
3. Christopher Moore, The Loyalists, p.81.
4. The youngest of the children was only five-
5. Enoch started his life in a Loyalist refugee camp but almost ended it in the hangman’s noose after being convicted for high treason for his part in the Duncombe Revolt of 1837. For a fuller treatment of Enoch, refer to The Loyalist Gazette, Vol. XXV, no. 1, November 1987, p. 20.
Bob Moore at the cemetery presenting his story of our Samuel. (2007).