The Clow Families
By Myrtle Johnston
Two Clow families were among the Loyalists coming to Leeds County. William Clow and his family, arriving in 1784, settled along the St. Lawrence River west of Brockville at Coles Ferry where Adam Cole and the Fulfords had recently started their homesteads.
William, with his wife, Sophia Strader, had a large family, born after they left America. Thad Leavitt tells the following story about William and Sophia: "their property consisted of an axe, a log canoe and two iron kettles. In the following spring, Mr. Clow tapped some maple trees, stored the sap in the canoe and boiled it down in the iron pots. At the expiration of two years, Mr. Clow and Mr. Cole jointly purchased a cow in Montreal."
Their son, Henry, who married Nancy Gardiner, also had a large family. The late Gladys Clow, who did extensive genealogical research into the Clow family, descended from their son, George through his son, Ambrose. Another UEL member, Harold Clow, descends from another of Henry's sons, Wilbur, through his son, David and grandson, Lionel. Also descendants of this William Clow are our Branch members, Rev. David Davidson, his sister, Anne Dowker and his sons, Bruce and Lyle Davidson, are descended from Henry's daughter, Ann, who married Jack Mack Davidson. Rev. Davidson is the Colonel Edward Jessup Branch Chaplain. At our Annual Meeting in March 2003, Lyle Davidson piped in the head table.
A native of Scotland, Henry Clow migrated to America in 1774, becoming a farmer at New Paisley in New York State. Before long, with the beginnings of the American Revolution taking place, Henry attempted to escape to Canada but was taken prisoner and confined to gaol (jail) in Albany. After escaping from gaol, Henry joined Captain William Fraser's company of Royal Rangers. He served under Fraser, Daniel McAlpin and Edward Jessup until being discharged in 1782. Previous to this, he had married Rebekah Deforest, daughter of Sarah Kast McGuiness and the widow of Simon Deforest who had died attempting to escape from a rebel prison. At the end of hostilities most of the Loyalists who had been gathered at Machiche, proceeded up the St. Lawrence River to their land grants. Henry and his family, however, remained in Quebec where he died in November of 1789.
After Henry's death, his widow married Robert McLean and the Clow children were raised in the McLean home in Elizabethtown. The first Clow child was Mary, who married David McCrady Jr. The Clow sons were Peter, Simon and Henry D.
Henry D. first married Mary Purdy and, after her death, married Mary Pennock. In all, he fathered 17 children, one of whom, William Cairns, married Julia Ann Hunt. Their son, Cornel and his wife, Thankful Langdon, were parents of William Henry whose son, Edgar, is Honourary Past President of the Colonel Edward Jessup Branch of The United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada. He was instrumental in saving the Branch during a period when it was experiencing difficult times. Edgar has written a book about his branch of the Clow family entitled, A Cleft in the Rock. A second volume is now being written.
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