Lucky – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

This week’s prompt is “lucky”. I haven’t found ancestors who were particularly lucky. As I thought about the topic I realized I am lucky; lucky to live in a country that has so many freedoms and offers us so much. The more I pondered it the more I realized I’m lucky my ancestors moved here.

Hessian soldiers during the revolution.

I’m going to talk about one ancestor who probably didn’t feel in the least bit lucky to be here. His name was Heinrich Schmidt (Henry Smith) and he was one of the Hessian Auxiliaries who fought with the British against the revolutionaries in the American Revolution.

There are many stories about this man and it’s is often hard to prove the stories with facts. W.L Smith in his book Pioneers of Old Ontario and quoting Henry Smith says,
“The troop-ship, on which my grandfather (Heinrich Schmidt) sailed to America, was eighteen weeks in crossing from Germany…. So long was the voyage, that the officer in command of the troops asked the admiral of the fleet if he was quite sure that he had not passed America in the night.”

After the revolution, the German Auxiliary troops were given the option of going home or remaining in the new world. Heinrich Schmidt decides to stay and is given land in Marysburgh, Prince Edward County, Ontario (near Kingston, Ontario). On 15 June 1791, Heinrich Schmidt petitions for another 300 acres of land stating he was given 200 but was promised 500 acres. His petition mentions he has a wife and 5 children.

According to his grandson, Alexander Smith,
“The family of Henry Smith consisted (in order of their ages) of the following children: Charles, William, Benjamin, John, Ernest, Bernard and two daughters.” 

John, who we descend from is said to have been baptized at the Cedres, Quebec in 1783. The two daughters are Frederica and possibly Mary Ann or Anna Carolina.

Heinrich and the other German Auxiliary families may not have felt lucky in their decision to remain. In a letter dated 20 September 1784, Lieutenant Archibald McDonnell states: “The British Disbanded Troops…will, in cold weather, be reduced to the greatest distress for want of clothing; some have not even a blanket to cover them from heavy rains…”  I’m sure at this point that Heinrich didn’t feel lucky at all.

There isn’t much else I know about this man. We believe he had 2 wives, Maria Christina Karshin and then Mary Elizabeth Benedict. Some of his children stayed in Prince Edward County, others moved away. Our ancestor John Joseph moved first Grey County where he had a store in Meaford, and then when he was older to Simcoe County to live with his son, Alexander.

Heinrich died about 1832 in Marysburgh and lthough he struggled settling in the new land, it is his sons, daughters, grandchildren who reaped the benefits of his decision to stay.

Smith, Alexander, “Some Hessians of the U.E.L. Settlement in Marysburgh”, Ontario Historical Society, Vol XX, pp 259-261.

Smith, W.L., Pioneers of Old Ontario, ”Rafting on the St. Lawrence” pp86-88, George N. Morang, Toronto, 1923

“The Settlement of Marysburg – 1784” Brochure courtesy of the Regional Tourist Association and Marysburgh Museum Board, compiled by Mrs. Malcolm Love, Picton, Ontario about 1988

Caniff, William, History of the Settlement of Ontario, p 463, Dudley & Burns, 1869.

Upper Canada Land Records; “S”, Bundle 3, 1797, Petition 199 (RG 1, L3, Vol 450(a)), Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.

Ontario Land Records, Vespra County, Simcoe, LDS Microfilm 178905, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, citing Archives of Ontario.

Hessian Soldiers Photograph, from





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