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The article below was taken
from The New Brunswick Reader, May 16/98
Charlotte Haines was born in New York, the
daughter of John Haines, an American patriot (we would call him a rebel) during
the American Revolution. He forbade his l0-year-old daughter to visit his
brother David and his children who were Loyalists. Charlotte knew who the
Loyalists were. She had seen their belongings piled on the sidewalks, had seen
empty school desks where Loyalist children had sat. In the final days of the
Revolutionary War, the Loyalists were preparing for evacuation, and Charlotte
feared that her cousins would soon be leaving New York as well, and she was
desperate to see them one last time.
One day in
the early spring, Charlotte's servant girl followed her to school as usual,
carrying her lunch and schoolbooks. Upon her arrival, Charlotte took her
belongings and when the servant had departed, she ran as fast as she could to
her uncle's home. She was joyfully received and the time went quickly as she
and her cousins played together. Realizing that the school day was nearly over,
Charlotte reluctantly made her sad farewell and ran through the rain for home,
arriving late at her father's door.
He demanded to know where
she had been and like George Washington, she could not tell a lie. She
confessed that she had been to Uncle David's. Her words enraged her father, who
declared that since she had been in the home of a Loyalist, she would never be
welcomed back into his. Charlotte had no choice but to return to her uncle's.
David tried to reason with his brother, reminding him that Charlotte was only
l0 years old. He begged John to forgive her and take her back, but his words
fell on deaf ears.
Haines's family prepared to set sail from New York, Charlotte was with them. As
she stood along the ship's railing, she searched the faces of those waving
good-bye, but could not find her mother's face among them. Charlotte's heart
was very heavy and she hated the sea voyage. She could not wait to disembark
when the ship reached what was the province of Nova Scotia on May 18,
She is purported to have been among the first
to climb, out of the rowboat which brought her to the water's edge at what is
now Market Slip in Saint John, and as she hurried toward the beach at low tide
her foot sank in the mud. When she pulled it out, her shoe was gone. Her aunt
hurried her along. It was important to quickly find a place in one of the tents
which had been set up for the loyalists along the shore. The buried slipper
remained there and no doubt quickly disintegrated, but Charlotte kept her other
slipper, a reminder of her arrival in the future province of New Brunswick and
her new life.
adopted family settled in Queens County. At the age of 17, she married William
Peters, the son of a Loyalist, and together they had 15 children. Their oldest
son drowned in the St. John River trying to save the life of a black servant
boy. One of their grandchildren became Sir Leonard Tilley, a father of
Confederation. He was one of more than a hundred grandchildren, the descendants
of whom now live throughout North America.
was donated to the New Brunswick Museum in l945 by a descendent of Charlotte
Haines. It is slender and delicate, fine perhaps on the sidewalks of New York
City. (Even in 1783, there were sidewalks in New York City.)
decade on exhibit at the museum's old building on Douglas Avenue in Saint John,
the little kid leather shoe, decorated with a bit of grosgrain ribbon, is no
longer displayed. Research on the artifact now indicates the slipper is likely
to date back only to the early 19th century. This style of slipper with a heel
and rounded toe was no available until 25 years after the Loyalist landing,
although it could be argued that New Yorkers are always a little ahead of their
time with fashion.
Regardless, this story of
Charlotte Haines and her Lost Slipper is a wonderful mix of historical
fact and fanciful embellishment. In all my years working as a gallery teacher
at the museum, it never failed to capture the imaginations of the students
visiting the museum. Someone their own age had suffered and prevailed. When I
finished the tale and invited the students to go into the gallery and find
Charlotte's "other" slipper, they leapt from their seats and could hardly heed
my caution not to run.
As May 18
approaches, the 215th anniversary of the arrival of Charlotte Haines and
thousands of other Loyalists, I find myself thinking of her little Slipper
resting in its storage box at the New Brunswick Museum.
Written by Anne
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