Lennox and Addington Historical Society

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A United Empire Loyalist Family

The founder of the U.E. Sills line, John Conrad Sills, was born at Rothen Bergen, in the county of Assenburg, Germany on December 15, 1738. This is known because a letter of introduction written for John Conrad Sills survived, and is quoted in several genealogies.

Sills emigrated from Germany in 1763, going to the American frontier. He settled in Dutchess County, in the neighbourhood of the Beekman Patent, and married Anna Maria Amey, a daughter of a prominent Palatine (and later, Methodist) family. He subsequently acquired 300 acres of land on the Susquehanna River. Sill's title to the land was questionable, as the man who sold it to him was said to be involved in dubious activities, and did not have title himself. Much later, when claiming restitution as a Loyalist, Sills described his property at the outbreak of the American Revolution. By 1777, he said, he had cleared 20 acres, built a house, and owned 6 horses, 4 cows, 2 calves, 1 bullock, plus sheep and pigs. This was the start of a comfortable farming career, and no mean achievement.

Sills was 38 when American colonial unrest became revolution. He had been an "American" for only 13 years, and did not share the sense of alienation from Europe prevalent among his neighbours. He was comfortable with the colonial system. He relied on authorities to maintain the precarious peace in the backwoods and moreover, he had much to lose to less law-abiding neighbours who no doubt singled him out for his German accent and old world habits. Therefore, he enlisted on the side of the King, joining the Rangers under command of John Butler. Sills fought at the Battle of Oriskany in July of 1777. He was still in the Rangers in 1778.

John Conrad's wife, Anna Maria Amey, and five children remained behind, but something went badly wrong. Between 1777 and 1779, Anna Maria died. This may have been the reason that Sills left the Rangers. In July, 1779, he and five orphaned children are recorded at the refugee camp at Machiche (now in the province of Quebec).

Sills married again at Machiche in about 1782. She was a widow named McNabb, a Roman Catholic with a small son. Nothing further is known about the widow McNabb. A story has come down through the family that frontier life did not appeal to her, and she refused to accompany Sills to the Bay of Quinte settlements in 1784.

A muster list of Loyalists and disabled soldiers who were given land in Fredericksburgh Township shows John Conrad Sills, again minus a wife, and with only four children, 3 boys and 1 girl. Sometime later, Sills married again, to the widow of a discharged British soldier. Her name was Sarah Blanchard. She bore him as many as 9 children, and survived him.

John Conrad Sills died in 1817, having lived a life of adventure beyond what we might imagine.

The Sills Dynasty:

From wife (1) Anna Maria Amey (Emigh)

Lawrence Sills, b1767, m Monykey Scouten
John Sills, b1771, m Isabelle Bell
George Sills, b1773, m Margaret Bell
Margaret Sills, b1775, m John Benn

wife (2) widow McNabb - no known issue

wife (3) Sarah Blanchard

Elizabeth Sills, b1790, m George Dafoe
Hanna Sills, baptized 1792, m John Dafoe
Mary Sills, baptized 1795, m Joshua Cadman
Rachel Sills, baptized 1797, m Joseph Williams
Laynor ("Lany") Sills, baptized 1800, m Peter Simmon(s)
Robert Sills, baptized 1803, m Ann Cadman
Sarah Sills, baptized 1805, m William Green
Christine Sills, baptized 1807, m George Phillips
Conrad Sills, born 1810, m Rebecca Murphy

With thanks to the late Russ Waller, C.A. Armstrong, Cora Reid and others.

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