One Country’s hero is another Country’s Villain….

My father’s paternal side is of the Mac/McDonald surname and they came from Scotland to Canada and settled there. His father and family migrated to Minnesota about 1901 and settled in Bemidji, then International Falls.  My father Keith was born in International Falls.  All this side of the family is discussed in my blog “The Man Who Lived Airplanes,” in honor of my father’s love of airplanes and airplane engines. (See side panel of this blog for a link.)

According to the website the John McDonell who was an army officer was born about 1758 and died in 1808.  He did serve with John Butler’s Rangers heading his own corp. He is an Aberchalder McDonell. His brothers were Alexander of Collachie and  Allan of Leek. This John McDonell did fight in the New York area but it doesn’t look like he did go to the Wyoming Valley, he was busy elsewhere.  I am not related to this man based on what I have learned about him.  If I  had been it would have been very interesting that one ancestral line of my Dad’s fought against another ancestral side.

I have traveled to Canada on two separate occasions researching my Dad’s paternal family and my Mother’s family (both maternal and paternal). She was born in Canada.  I had the opportunity to go to Ottawa the first time (2012) and on the second trip to the Niagara peninsula (2014). It is inevitable that if you have Canadian ancestors you will probably end up with Loyalists (U.E.L.) in your family tree on some level.

The Canadians call them Loyalists. We at the time of the Revolution called them Tories. In any event, they were those individuals who supported the Crown at that time. Many of them lost their lands and many-headed to Canada for safety. Some of them were peaceful but the newly formed United States voted not to make a distinction between the active Tories versus the peaceful Tories and that forced them to head to Canada.

I have visited several locations in Canada, and also New York, trying to understand those who did migrate to Canada at the time of the Revolution.  I visited the Mohawk Valley in New York and Sir William Johnson’s Fort. The walls were very thick and had holes for rifles to be placed through and pointed outside. is also his house which is not to far from the fort:

His son John Johnson led many of the settlers in this Mohawk valley through the Adirondacks up to Montreal and Glengarry County, Ontario.  I visited Sir John Johnson’s home in Williamstown which is now a museum and an archive and eventually will let rooms for people to stay in.

One of my goals was to learn more about Major John Butler the Tory Commander who attacked the Wyoming Valley on July 1 to 5, 1778.  Mr. Butler was a Capt., Major, Lt. Colonel and other military labels depending on who is doing the writing.

John Butler, British Commander

I will use the military title “Major” based on the Wyoming accounts used.

Major John Butler is not related to Colonel Zebulon Butler so don’t confuse these two men. Major John Butler was loyal to the Crown of England and Colonel Zebulon Butler was the leader of the Wyoming forces and a Patriot.  Two completely different men on different sides of the fight.

My goal was to learn what I could about this John Butler the man who attacked the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania with a force of British soldiers and Indians on July 3, 1778. I wanted to know what his version of the events were and if he listed the prisoners taken. I am now switching to my Dad’s maternal side and trying to learn more about the Goss Family and their involvement in the events of this time.

The following is a listing of posts from this blog, Solomon Goss of Fearing Township in Ohio 1754-1825 featuring my visits to Canada in 2012 and 2014.

I was a bit obsessed with John Butler, but came to realize that I was not going to find what I was looking for in his papers because he really was devoted to the cause of the Crown of England. I did not find any lists of prisoners, or at least not in the sources I looked at.

He was interested not in the people he attacked but the effect of his attacks. He was a military man and he was reporting his results.  The British were trying to cripple General Washington so that is why they were attacking settlements that supplied the troops in New York, and Pennsylvania.

Here are the posts that I have written on John Butler:

Revolution: Canada and the New United States, June 12, 2012

This post was about my visit to the statue of Colonel Butler that is on display in Ottawa at the Valiant Memorial.

John Butler’s Statue in Ottawa 2012

Me next to John Butler’s Statue in Ottawa. His title here is Lt. Colonel

Brock University Visit….Goss and McDonald’s in the Revolution, November 9, 2014.

This post was about the Loyalist Papers that are housed at the Brock University in St. Catherine’s on the Niagara Peninsula and John Butler’s papers and what I found. I did try the National Archives in Ottawa but this is where they are really housed. I give a summary of what I found in the books in this post: Part I 1711-1777 and Part II which covers 1778 to 1779.  These books could be found elsewhere if you were willing to do some digging.

The Butler Papers

You will find the following posts on The Man Who Lived Airplanes blog a link is on the right side of this blog. I started my second trip in 2014 in Buffalo, New York and visited Niagara Falls on both sides of the river.  From there I proceeded to study the life of Colonel John Butler.  To the Canadian’s he is a hero, to the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania, he was a villain.

Ontario Wanderings: Loyalists and the Niagara Area, Part I, September 12, 2014:

This post is about my visit to John Butler’s homestead on the Niagara Peninsula.  This monument is marking the stop where his homestead use to be. John Butler did help to build up the Niagara Peninsula on the Canadian side and helped those settle in the area and who had to flee the new United States.

Monument of John Butler at Niagara at his homestead.

Ontario Wanderings: Loyalists and the Niagara Region, Part II, September 13, 2012

This post is about my visit to the grave site of John Butler on the Niagara Peninsula.  Which did take a bit of doing for it is not easy to find. It is very quiet and a bit eerie to visit.

Ontario Musings: Brock University and the Loyalist Collection, September 16, 2014

This is repeat of my post about the Loyalist Collection at Brock University, St. Catherine’s, Ontario and John Butler’s Papers.  Mr. Oscar J. Harvey in his book The History of Wilkes -Barre Vol. II mentions that he too was obsessed with learning about Major John Butler’s report to his superiors about the battle outcome.  The letter is found in one of the volumes of the stack of books in the picture above.  Here it is dated 8 July 1778:

Major John Franklin’s Letter to Bolton page 1

Letter to Bolton page 2

After reviewing both blogs and the posts above, I think that if you just follow my links and go and study the information in the posts I have written and indicated above, you will get a feel for this man by the name of Major John Butler.

I warn you it can be a little unsettling reading about all this if you are a descendant of ancestors from the Wyoming Valley.

I probably only scratched the surface of the whole loyalist collection at Brock University and frankly would not have minded seeing originals. So I did not find lists of prisoners kept in the forts, specifically Forty-Fort and Solomon Goss’s involvement, during the July 1 to 5, 1778 time period and I feel that Mr. Harvey in his book about Wilkes-Barre would have published them if he found them, he was very diligent in his work. So I refer you to the end of Vol. I and beginning of Vol. III History of Wilkes-Barre for more information.

In the next post I will take a look at Huntington Township’s role in the events of July 1778.

About BJ MacDonald

Interested in travel, really into genealogy and researching my family history, classic novels and movies, fantasy and science fiction, photography, history and more... Here is a tip. Make sure you are commenting on the blog you were visiting and the post you were interested in. My blogs are listed by hovering over my pictures and clicking. Clicking one of them will take you back to the correct blog. You can try me here:
This entry was posted in AMERICAN REVOLUTION & Other Conflicts, Announcements, Solomon Goss and Olive (Scott) Goss (Son of Philip & Mary (Kendall) Goss, Westmoreland Town & County, Wyoming Massacre, Wyoming Valley and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s