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The Loyalist Pioneer
Philip was born, about 1760, in the Province of Zeeland in what is now known as the Netherlands. Zeeland is a coastal province which can be found on modern maps nestled in the southwest corner of the country, sharing its southern border with Belgium. When Philip was young, presumably with his parents, he emigrated from Rotterdam to Philadelphia around 1763 to 1768.
The northern colonies were becoming increasingly overcrowded and much of the better land had been settled. To the south was a milder climate and cheaper land, especially inland areas. There were only two ways to travel to the southern colonies in those days, either sailing by ship or by traveling overland on the Great Wagon Road from Philadelphia, through the Shenandoah Valley, over the Blue Ridge and into North Carolina. Philip traveled over this land route, which was more like what we today would call a trail than a road. Philip ended up in Salisbury, North Carolina, as a young teenager. One of the many Great Wagon Road branch trails, once used by buffalo and Indians exclusively, directly passed by the area that is now Gaston County, North Carolina. In Philip's day it was Tryon County in the British Colony of North Carolina. Philip found himself living here on a family farm on Beaverdam Creek just a few miles from present-day Crouse, North Carolina.
Philip as a teenager lived on this farm, probably with his parents. The farm consisted of a house with several farm buildings. Family members were provided their final resting place in the nearby cemetery.
The settlement of Crouse, North Carolina, was established later around 1840, and was named after Dr. William L. Crouse, a physician. Dr. Crouse is not a direct descendant of Philip. It is generally believed that Philip had at least two brothers, John and Peter. John Crouse, the direct ancestor of Dr. William L. Crouse, was a farmer in the Beaverdam Creek and Indian Creek area. He married Sarah Mauney (pronounced moon-knee) and their descendants for successive generations thrived in the Gaston-Lincoln County area. The other brother, Peter Crouse, also lived in the same area and married Anna Carpenter. Some evidence points to his occupation as being a gunsmith. By this time Philip was firmly established as a British subject and he had a second language English, after Dutch, of course.
In the 1770's this area of North Carolina was populated with people who had basically three political views. There were Loyalists, also known as Tories, interested in maintaining British citizenship. There were Revolutionaries, also known as Whigs, interested in forming an independent relationship with Britain, possibly as a loose confederation of colonies. The third political view was held by a large neutral group that really wanted nothing more than to be left alone. They were much more interested in establishing homesteads and raising families than the politics of a revolutionary war. Careful checking of public records of the period show many pioneers' sympathies shifted back and forth between Tory and Whig allegiance as new situations confronted them. Often families were split with brother and brother, or father and son, on opposite political sides. Apparently, this is the case with Philip and his family, or maybe to be more fair, Philip was the politically active one, while the others in the family were more neutral.
When the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord, it was not at all certain the Revolution would be a success, in fact, far from it. Many Colonists eventually chose sides for varied reasons. Some, like coastal merchants, had valuable economic ties to Britain to protect. Others wanted to stay out of trouble and picked whichever side was perceived to be winning or more popular in the particular area they lived. Many prominent Colonists originally didn't want to be separate from Britain and wished to be treated the same as British citizens living in the British Isles. They actually protested to be treated more like British citizens. Some visionaries saw the advantages of independence from Britain, especially when the Crown established policies that slipped into disrespect and disregard for the Colonists' well-being.
Philip chose to be politically active as a British Loyalist. What motivated our young teenage Philip to be a Loyalist could have been a number of things. Being devout Lutheran, his word was his bond. If at any time he took an oath of loyalty to the British Crown, as often was required, it would be no small event to break his word. Something certainly not to be taken lightly. There was another interesting influence that swept into the life of young and restless Philip: the tireless Loyalist promoters Major Nicholas Welch and Philip's neighbor Colonel John Moore.
BATTLE OF RAMSOUR'S MILL
John Moore had joined the British army and was made lieutenant-colonel of Hamilton's North Carolina Loyalist Regiment. He took an active part in arousing and increasing the Loyalist element in Lincoln County (Lincoln County was formed when Tryon County was split in 1779). Moses Moore, John's father, made his home on Indian Creek, very near where Philip lived. On June 10, 1780, Colonel Moore called a meeting of the Loyalists at his father's residence, where about 40 men gathered. Subsequent to this meeting, he directed those in attendance to meet on June 13th at Derick Ramsour's Mill (located about eight miles from his father's farm in what is now Lincolnton, North Carolina) and to make ready for anticipated Revolutionary confrontations. Emotions, whipped up, ran high in the people of the local area where many had long been loyal to King George. By the time June 13th rolled around over 200 Loyalist men had appeared at Ramsour's Mill, where they commenced grinding grain in anticipation of joining forces with the British in South Carolina. On June 14th they were joined by many more men and by June 19th the number of Loyalists had grown to approximately 1,200. Philip Crouse was, without much doubt, among them.
More than 300 of these 1,200 men did not have weapons. They encamped on a hillside ridge about three hundred yards east of Ramsour's Mill. The ridge had a gentle slope and was open, except for a few trees, for two hundred yards. At the base of the hill, to the south and east, was a glade, the side of which was covered by bushes.
The Revolutionary forces amounted to only about 400 men and were commanded by Colonel Francis Locke. On June 19th, they gathered twelve miles from the Loyalist stronghold. They calculated their best chance of success, considering their lesser numbers, was to mount a surprise attack before their own forces could be detected. So, it was decided they would march all night and surprise the Loyalists at sunrise. It was determined that a surprise attack, in a situation where the Loyalists would be unaware of the Revolutionaries' inferior numbers, should be sufficient to rout them. With about 100 men under Colonel Locke mounted, it was agreed that this force would open the attack. The foot soldiers would follow. Late that evening they marched for Ramsour's Mill.
About a mile from the mill Colonel Locke was met by Adam Reep and his small company of about 20 men. Reep was a noted Revolutionary, although his neighbors were generally loyal to King George. He gave Colonel Locke full account of the Loyalist position. Armed with this knowledge and his men spoiling for a fight, the stage for battle was set as dawn broke on Tuesday, June 20, 1780.
The first contact between forces occurred when the Revolutionary Cavalry came upon and surprised a Loyalist picket placed six hundred yards in an advanced position. The picket fired and retreated to the main camp as the battle escalated. A dense fog covered the area as the Revolutionary horsemen came in from the east. They rode up within 30 steps and opened fire, throwing the Loyalists into confusion. Those Loyalists without weapons retreated to the rear and out of the battle scene. The remaining Loyalists, gripping their senses and seeing only about 100 of the enemy attacking, quickly regrouped and rallied, raining such hot fire that the Revolutionary horsemen retreated back through their infantry. Some of the Revolutionary infantry also retreated and never returned to the battle. The remaining Revolutionary infantry advanced, firing their muskets, then stepping back a few steps to reload. As they prepared for their next round of fire, others stepped forward and spent their ammunition.
The six hundred yard charge toward the hilltop entrenched Loyalists had greatly disorganized the Revolutionary line. Seeing an opening for victory and anxious to take advantage of the Revolutionary forces' disarray, the Loyalist infantry poured down from the hilltop. The Revolutionary forces quickly filled their own gaps, spontaneously reorganized, and the fighting remained fierce for about an hour. The fire was so deadly the Loyalists gradually retreated back to the hilltop, and a little beyond, in an attempt to protect themselves from the onslaught. From the advantage of the elevated position the Loyalists were able to rain bullets on the pursuing Revolutionaries driving them nearly back to the glade, and then once again the Loyalists advanced partway down the hill.
Shielded by a fence the Revolutionaries were able to commence a galling fire on the right flank of the Loyalists, again forcing a retreat back up the hill and then further along the ridge toward the summit to their former position. But now a part of the summit was occupied by the Revolutionaries, and in two instances hand-to-hand battle ensued. Neither side had bayonets, so they struck each other with the butts of their guns. Men often recognized individuals they knew in the opposite camp and, as they battled even instigated heated banter, at times.
There were no uniforms on either side of the conflict, so to tell friend from foe the Loyalists wore green pine twigs in their hats. The Revolutionaries didn't make the most intelligent choice for their identification. They wore a white piece of paper or cloth in their hats so many of their dead where found shot in the head, as the white badge of allegiance provided an excellent long-range bull's-eye target. In some cases, when things looked particularly dicey a combatant cagily took his identification from his hat and slipped away undetected.
The Revolutionaries had the benefit of preplanning their attack and so when the Loyalists were once again exposed on the hillside, they took advantage of their preparedness. Their plan, as executed, was to simultaneously flank the left and right of the Loyalists. With vicious fire from the flanks and pressed from the front, the Loyalist resolve broke and they fled down the backside of the hill toward the mill pond. Many were picked off as they scattered. Preparing for another attack the Revolutionaries, now gathered on the hilltop, could only muster a meager 110 men for further battle - but they were not needed. Unaware of the Revolutionaries' inferior strength and, effective command from Colonel Moore not forthcoming, the Loyalists dispersed.
Seventy or more from both sides died in battle, their bodies strewn over the hill. Of the seventy, about forty were Revolutionaries. Around one hundred of the men on each side were wounded, some of whom later died.
Colonel Moore and about thirty men made their way to the headquarters of his commander Lord Cornwallis. Cornwallis was not impressed by Colonel Moore's actions. Moore was put under arrest and threatened with court-martial for his disobedience of orders leading up to the Battle of Ramsour's Mill. He was finally released.
RESETTLEMENT IN THE BRITISH COLONY OF NEW BRUNSWICK
By 1782 the area of North Carolina which Philip called home was controlled by the Revolutionaries. He openly opposed the rebels that promoted the independence of the American Colonies from Britain, and was recognized as a Loyalist sympathizer. Philip and many others were asked to leave North Carolina because of their views. It is important to remember that Loyalists at this time were in political disfavor, but generally they were not bad people, in fact, far from it. Loyalist families played a large part in the early building of a strong foundation for the United States. The only real difference they had was an alternate vision of the future. When they left they took with them desperately needed skills and strong backs. In this aspect they were greatly missed.
Philip saved his money and in 1789 traveled downriver to Charleston, South Carolina, where he booked passage on a ship, and headed for British controlled Saint John, New Brunswick. Undoubtedly, he stopped in New York City before sailing to Saint John in the Bay of Fundy.
Upon arrival he immediately traveled up the St. John River looking for land that he could homestead, attracted by the possibility of obtaining a land grant from the British Crown. After stopping in Fredericton, the New Brunswick capital, he continued upriver on the St. John until he reached the Keswick River, where in early November 1789 he, along with Jacob Ham, Christian Knai, Jacob Knai, and Philip Henry, applied in a formal petition to the British Crown for approximately "200 acres each on unlocated lands on the Madam Keswick above the N.Y. Volunteers." They stated, "That from Loyalty to the best of Sovereigns and attachment to the British Constitution - They left their Native Country North Carolina to seek an asylum in this divining Province."
He had found his way to Keswick Valley, after only about a four week journey from his North Carolina home. The original 1789 Land Grant Petition by Philip and his four fellow North Carolinians was not approved. While Jacob Ham, Christian Knai and Philip Henry, three of the other grant co-applicants, moved on, Philip remained at the site of the original petition, going about the hard work of clearing the land, building a cabin, and establishing a farm. The fourth grant co-applicant, Jacob Knai, acquired a small lot near present-day Burtts Corner, New Brunswick, but by April 1826 he had sold his lot to William Boone and had moved on as well.
Philip met Sarah Burt, the fourth child of a Connecticut Loyalist family, and they married in 1791. Their first child was born in 1792, while their eighteenth and last child was born in 1817, a span of 25 years. All but two children lived to adulthood. All their children were born on the original farmstead on the Keswick River, below Stone Ridge.
Philip brought to New Brunswick an old Dutch Bible. Many of his grandchildren remembered him reading to them from his Bible. The names and birth dates of sixteen of Philip's eighteen children were written in it.
Philip continued to develop his farmstead, and with the help of his children, planted crops to feed the livestock and for family use. They had cows, horses, sheep, hogs and chickens. Salmon was fished from the Keswick River and cooked fresh or dried. Wild game was hunted, as well.
On the 26 of June, 1811, it was finally official. It had been almost 22 years since Philip first applied for his original 200 acre Crown Land Grant and now legal title to his expanded 400 - acre homestead was finally granted to him by the British Government. He had proven he was a deserving Loyalist, who had homesteaded and improved the property. As with many British Crown Land Grants, the homesteaders had to settle and improve the property before legal title was conveyed by the Crown.
Sadly, in 1823 Philip's wife Sarah died after a short illness. She was laid to rest in the family cemetery next to the farmhouse, on the bank of the Keswick River. Here she rested next to her two children who predeceased her, Polly and Jonas.
Eventually, Philip would marry again, to a woman named Mary, likely a widow herself. Philip and Mary did not have children together.
In 1831 Philip and Sarah's son, Gould, purchased 200 acres of the original British Crown Land Grant from Philip. Philip was about 70 years old at the time. Sometime around 1840 Gould named the community that had grown up around Philip's land grant, New Zealand, in honor of his father's birth place in the Netherlands.
When Philip passed away at the home of his son Benjamin at the venerable age of 96 years old, his obituary read, "He had 18 children, by his wife, and lived to see 196 of his grand children, and 118 of his great grand children. He was much esteemed by all who knew him." Philip was buried alongside his wife Sarah in the Crouse family cemetery.
This page was reprinted, with permission, from the book Crouse Family History, 2nd Edition, copyright (c) 1995-2000, Rogue Publishing, Seattle, Washington.
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