Uncle Israel Harding

One of my previous blogs was devoted to Stephen Harding and his actions during the Revolutionary War.  Because of his service, I was able to become a member of the Sons of The American Revolution (SAR) and my female offspring could join the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Stephen Harding was, of course, a Patriot, meaning he sided with the American colonies in fighting against the British.  Five of his sons were Patriots.  Most of his brothers were Patriots.  But there was that one brother; Israel; the youngest.  Israel Harding, my 5th Great Grand Uncle, was not a Patriot.

I recently learned of another lineage group called the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada.  On their website, http://www.uelac.org/ they explain that “The United Empire Loyalists were generally those who had been settled in the thirteen colonies at the outbreak of the American Revolution, who remained loyal to and took up the Royal Standard, and who settled in what is now Canada at the end of the war.”   That’s Israel’s group.

Israel and Stephen Harding had both served in His Majesties Service during the French and Indian War.  Stephen served as a private.  Israel enlisted as a young soldier and attained the rank of Lieutenant during that conflict. Shortly after being discharged, in 1759, Israel was married to Sarah Harris in New London, CT  The young couple soon went off with the New England Planters to settle on a land grant in Lower Horton, Kings County, in the new colony of Nova Scotia.

For some unknown reason, after a decade or so farming in Nova Scotia, they packed up their five children and moved back to New London, Connecticut.  Perhaps they were homesick.  By 1771, Israel was buying and selling land in Colchester Co., CT and in 1774 he traveled to Nova Scotia and sold off the rest of his interests there.

That turned out to be a very bad move.  As the winds of Revolution began to blow Israel and Sarah were caught in the cross currents.  Among his family, Israel was the youngest of five brothers and the only one to remain loyal to the British during the Revolution. He saw no reason to reject the British rule. He saw the Tories as those, in his own words, “whose greatest crime if it may be deemed so has been love for their King and affection for the Parent Country.”

In and about the community of Colchester, life would have been very difficult for a Loyalist.  For example, he would not even have been able to get provisions for his family such as were promised to the families of the Continental soldiers.

Israel never took up arms against the rebels (or Patriots as we call them) but he did serve as a civilian spy and supplier.  His job was to observe the French Fleet and rebels at Rhode Island and pass on dispatches as requested.  Because of that he, in his own words,

“became obnoxious to the Americans, was apprehended, imprisoned, harassed, dragged from place to place by files of armed men and Constables, leaving a wife and seven children behind with no way to support them but by what money I had, which with defending myself before courts and committees and other expenses arising therefrom, amounted to a sum of five hundred and twenty dollars; also two boats which were taken from me I made use of in carrying sheep and cattle from Connecticut to the Fleet and Army. That after your memorialist escaped to Long Island he had a house assigned him by Government from which house he was taken by Capt. Elijah Smith and a party of men, and robbed of goods, wearing apparel, and other effects to the amount of one hundred and twenty eight dollars; that your Memorialist by his attachment to His Majesty was dispossessed of a house and land in the Town of Saybrook in Connecticut which was afterward sold for eight hundred dollars….”

At the request of his brother, Thomas, he was given permission by the Governor of Connecticut to remove to Long Island where things would have been easier since it was occupied by the British.  Eventually, as the war concluded, he had to flee there also and returned to Nova Scotia. 

In December 1783 Israel Harding applied for and later received a 950 acre land grant somewhere between Horton and New Minas in Nova Scotia.  That plot remained their family’s central home during the rest of his days.

Lieutenant Israel Harding was deceased by 18 July 1794 when his wife, Sarah, and children were awarded Probate Administration of his estate in Horton, Nova Scotia. The 950 acre farm was listed in the Inventory. His resting place is unknown, but he may have been buried with extended family and others in the Lower Horton old Planter cemetery, which became overgrown. There was no headstone when it was transcribed in the 1960’s

Sarah later moved to Digby County, Nova Scotia to live with her daughter, Eliphal (Lee) Allison. After a remarkable life journey, there in a peaceful rural setting she attained the good old age of 96 years. She died 26 March 1836 at the home of her daughter.

(source; Journey of a Lifetime; The True Story of Israel and Sarah Harding UEL by Carol Harding)

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