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Descendants of John Little

Generation No. 2


2. ROBERT2 LITTLE (JOHN1) was born 1771 in Maryland, and died 1846. He married SARAH TUCKER. She died Unknown.

Notes for R
OBERT LITTLE:
THE STORY OF HARSEN'S ISLAND
AND THE OLD JOHNSON HOUSE

BY NEWELL E. COLLINS, ALGONAC

Jacob Harsen I had seven children: five sons and two daughters. The sons: Bernard, James, Francis, William and Jacob 2. One of the daughters, Mary, was the wife of Isaac Gravereat. (The name is also given as Garet Gravereat.) Gravereat was a silversmith, and the trades of gunsmith and silversmith combined their skills in producing merchandise to be traded to the Indians.

Unfortunately Gravereat died soon after settling on the Island and his widow with their four children came to live with Jacob 1.

"Trade Silver", (thin silver ornament's traded to the Indians), is an interesting study for the reason that the makers' marks give a clue as to the nationality and locality of the trades. However, no single silver object has been identified as having been made by single silver object has been identified as having been made by Gravereat; possibly for the reason that he died so soon after coming to the island; or perhaps he had no stamp with which to mark his products.

The Harsen family were strict Lutherans and the children were reared accordingly. The use of firearms on the Sabbath was forbidden. But one Sunday morning a particularly large flock of ducks alighted on the water near the house. Contrary to paternal command, the eldest son took his gun to go for them. But the priming flashed in the pan of the old flintlock, and he ran back to the house for fresh priming. As he entered the butt of the gun struck the door and was discharged, the charge entering Mary Gravereats arm. She was taken to Detroit to have the arm amputated. Much of her childhood was spent in the home of Judge May. While there, she learned to cook and sew and perform the customary household tasks. In 1814 she became the second wife of Harvey Stewart. Thus she was the stepmother of the first Aura P. Stewart. She was the mother of Captain Albert Stewart and Garet G. Stewart and grandmother of Captain Harvey Stewart.

Sometime between 1797 and 1800 Jacob I passed on to his reward and Bernard became the head of the household, but not for long. It was at this time that another tragedy overtook the Harsen family. A 20- pound keg of powder had been stored in the parlor chimney, the season being summer and the fireplace not in use. Some powder had been weighed out to pay laborers from the hay field and in replacing the keg, some of the grains were spilled on the hearth. A Morovian missionery, a Mr. Denke, in knocking the ashes out of pipe ignited these. The resulting explosion destroyed the house and killed Bernard and his sister, Mrs. Gravereat, instantly, a pewter platter which had been on the mantel passed almost through her body.

Obviously the present Johnson house cannot be the original Harsen homestead which is claimed to have been built in 1778. The present building replaced the one destroyed in 1800, being built in this region and the outstanding landmark on Harsen's Island.

Eventually a survey was made of the island. We know that this is after the death of Bernard and Mrs. Gravereat for the survey divided the island to five parts, a portion for each of the remaining children.

James sold his share and moved away. We hear from him again in the 1810. On big Bear Creek in Canada he was about to enter a cabin occupied by John Riley. Riley had a belligerent disposition when under the influence of liquor, which was often. As James stooped to enter the doorway, Riley fired at him, the ball entering Harsen's eye. He survived for about six months, but finally died as a result of the wound. This is the same half-breed John Riley of the Saginaw Valley Rileys which, in 1819, with his brothers was of so much service to Territorial Governor Lewis Cass in negotiating the Treaty of Saginaw with the Indians.

William Harsen married, but remained on the island. His six sons were James, William, Henry, Oliver, Jacob III and John H. There was a daughter, Mary Ann.

Jacob II inherited the homestead and married an Indian woman said to have been a beautiful Indian "queen" familiarly known as "Aunty". She was a rather picturesque figure in the history of the island. Neighboring Indians would come to her for advise and, mornings, when the sun rose on the old home, it was not unusual for the house to be surrounded by the natives who had come to seek her council. It was Jacob II and Aunty who raised Jacob III , they having no children of their own. In her later years she returned to live with her people.

Following the War of 1812 , Francis Harsen served as interpreter with the Indian Department of Detroit. During this period he was absent from the island and he undertook to lease his farm to a Robert Little. (Canadian records give the name as Lytle.) Little was a Canadian and loyal British subject. Rent was to be paid in produce and the first fall, 1815, the rent was paid without complaint. But the following fall, Little refused to pay, claiming that the island was His Majesty's dominion and under existing laws no American might hold lands under British government. Little maintained that he had rendered important service to his government; that he was entitled to the lands; that he was in possession the that he proposed to claim the land under British law. Francis, driven from the premises, returned to Detroit and engaged a lawyer named Whitney and suit was started in the Macomb County court. Judge Clemens was the first Judge and Robert Fulton was the sheriff. There was considerable delay and the writ of eviction was not placed in the hands of the sheriff until late in the fall of 1817.

Sheriff Fulton called upon Little demanded the surrender of the premises. Little forcibly put Fulton out of doors reiterating his claim that he was a loyal British subject and under the protection of the British Government. He threatened to shoot anyone who attempted to oust him.

Fulton replied that he would excuse the writ if he had to call upon the militia and in the territory . He called upon Leutenant William Brown, who selected six men, two of them recently discharged soldiers of the War of 1812, The following day they proceeded to the island, Francis joining them on the way. Brown had procured a small jug of whiskey for his men. Little loaded four guns and prepared 4 kettles of boiling water. The assaulting party took possession of a neighboring building; the men fortified their courage with the whiskey while they debated a plan of attack. Fulton went to the door and demanded the surrender of the premises in the name of the commonwealth. He was followed by Harsen; and Little, firing from a window, wounded the latter in the flesh part of his leg.

Brown then ordered the men to surround the house and return the fire, which they did. The first shots splintered the door behind which Little was standing; one bullet, narrowly missing him, entered the bed upon which his daughter was sitting. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, Little promptly surrendered.

In as much as the St. Clair islands were understood to be a part of Canada until 1821, possibly Little had grounds for some of his contentions. Judge Clements and Sheriff Fulton may have been acting outside of their jurisdiction..

In 1818 Aura P. Stewart induced John K. Smith to teach the first school on the island, the first school in the neighborhood, in fact. While there were only three families on the island, pupils from across the channel brought the enrollment up to 12. In addition to the Harsens and the Stewarts, the principal families in the neighborhood were the Chortiers, the Minnies, the Basneys and the Hills. Undoubtedly, the Chartier and the Storkey families of today are descendents. The Basney family is still in evidence.

The first floor of the old building was originally divided to two rooms: the school room and the "Indian Department" or trading post. The four large fireplaces which originally heated the building have been removed and the house has been modernized in other respects.

In 1819 Smith also taught school on the island, trading with the Indians in company with David Laughton from Laughton's (or Stromness, later Dickinsons's) Island across the Middle Channel.

The Late Burtin Johnson, who occupied the old homestead for many years, was grandson and heir to Jacob Harsen III and came into possession of the place accordingly. Following Mr. Johnson's death, the property was sold to Mr. Joseph Vernier who occupies it at the present time.

Today the many Harsen descendents are scattered far and wide. And after 170 years of colorful history, there is now no one of the Harsen line living on the island permanently that bears their name.

The above research is credited to Lance Little.

The below research is credited to Terry Dennis Little:

Robert B. Little (1771-1847)
Sarah Tucker (?-?) (m?)
Children: Elizabeth, George, William, Jacob, Thomas, Robert, Nicholas, Hiram, Matthew, Nelson, John

Robert was born 1771 in Maryland, the second of ten children. Between 1771 and 1775 the family moved to Path Valley, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, then to Plum Creek in Plum Township near Pittsburgh. His British loyalist father John fled to British Detroit for fear of his life just before the American Revolution. John returned briefly in 1783 to visit his children, and sometime between 1783 and 1794 the family moved to join him near Detroit. Robert bought a farm at Grosse Pointe facing Lake St. Clair and sold it in 1794. He lived on leased land on Harsen's Island. He owned and lived on land at Mt. Clemens where he met and married Sarah Tucker, daughter of William Tucker. They returned to Harsen's Island and purchased land there at the north end near the ferries. (Arthur E. Little, son of Nicholas, grandson of Robert, still held the property in 1932). Robert received Crown Grants to land in Essex County, Ontario, and had numerous land transactions there. He and family moved to Walpole Island to escape American rule, and finally moved to the north side of the Snye
River near Wallaceburg, Ontario when Walpole Island became an Indian reservation. There is a Little Road on Harsen's Island named for him.

Leonard Lytle corresponded with Arthur E. Little, son of Nicholas, grandson of Robert, dated 2/1/1932: "Dear Mr. Lytle: I received your letter - it was forwarded after some delay from Algonac. Was very pleased to get it. Was very interesting also the enclosure on Eleanor Little, Pioneer. You said that you could send me more of those if I would like them. I would indeed to send to several cousins who might be interested & know of some thing bearing on the subject.

You ask who the Robert Little was who died in Wallaceburg, Canada in 1846. He was my Grandfather, the Robert that the piece was in the News about last summer to which I took exception and answered & told the truth about the affair. The one whose property we still hold on Harsens Isle. He was living there with my father and went to Wallaceburg to visit a son, Hiram Little who lived there - was taken sick and died there. He was John Littles son. A brother evidently of Eleanor Little. His wife, my grandmother was Sarah Tucker. I have heard that
there were 13 Littles (women and men) married to 13 Tuckers....

Yes I have been told by my father many times that Robert Little, my Grandfather was born in Maryland & so I knew or had been told that the great Grandfather was from Ireland. I wish you had written before my sister died 5 years ago. If I see you as I hope to I will tell you why I haven't any data. I am an old man will be 81 years the 16th of March and hope I can see you next summer if all goes well. Sincerely yours, Arthur E. Little." Robert shared his father's and grandfather's British loyalist politics; the problems he encountered living so close to American soil is well documented.

From W.E. Phillips, Family Twice Driven From Homes By Treaties:
"History, with its accent on wars, treaties and dates, is a dry subject, and one far removed from the average citizen, but talking to Dick Little, Wallaceburg, one is reminded that such things as international boundaries can have a decided effect on the lives of individuals.

Take the case of his grandfather, Robert Little; that is going back before the War of 1812. When it was over he moved to Harsen's Island, which is opposite Walpole Island, both islands at that time being British territory. Here Robert Little purchased a farm and began to raise a family; in 1821 Hiram Little was born and duly recorded as a good, loyal Britisher. In 1822, the International Boundary Commission, established by the Treaty of Ghent, finished their work and gave their findings. Where the boundary line had formerly passed down the NorthChannel, it now passed between Harsen's and Walpole Islands. By agreement of the commissioners, Robert Littleand his family became Americans. Not that they consulted Mr. Little in the matter; it just happened that their ruling on the location of the boundary at that point had that effect.

Had they consulted him they no doubt would have heard some forcible language on the subject; for Robert Little was a dyed-in-the-wool U.E. Loyalist. As long as Harsen's Island was British territory he was perfectly happy; when the commissioners decided otherwise he was much annoyed. In fact, he was so determined to remain under the British flag that he removed his family and furniture to Walpole Island, as being the nearest adjacent British territory. Here he set up farming again, building himself another house and barn and making a new start. After the War of 1812, in pursuance of promises made to the followers of Tecumseh, that a place would be reserved for loyal Indians, Walpole Island was selected as one of the reserves. There was also another reserve on the upper bank of the Chenal Ecarte, which lay between High Banks and Port Lambton. Since many of the Indians came from the American side, and were taken care of at Walpole, no doubt Robert Little thought he was as much to be considered as any of the Indians, since he was moving to Canada as a Loyalist.
Historians writing of Walpole Island are inclined to rate the white settlers on Walpole very low; they refer to them as 'the profligate whites, who settled on the frontier and by various frauds and in moments of intoxication, obtained leases and took possession of the most valuable and fertile part of the island.' Probably some of them merited this, but there were men of the stamp of Robert Little, who certainly did not. Hiram Little, who had escaped being born an American by a year, was brought up on Walpole Island. When he was 19 he married Hannah McDougall.

In 1839, Walpole Reserve was placed under an assistant superintendant, with orders to evict all the whites and settle the Indians on the farms thus vacated. Staunch U.E. Loyalists like Robert Little, who had built up a good, well-tilled farm, and had quartered the Goderich troops in 1837, were given no consideration; once more he packed up and moved, and this time to a farm which he purchased on the north side of the Snye, which is now generally known as the Arnold farm.

Dick does not pretend to remember all the tugs and barges that his father had at various times. There was the tug Dauntless, and a succession of barges; some he sold again, and some just died of old age. There is another curious tie-back with local history in the Little family. The original Robert Little, when he moved to Wallaceburg, still retained title to the farm on Harsen's Island, and when he died there was a large family, nine brothers and a sister, and it did not seem worthwhile to try to split ? acres among the ten, so they all signed off
to Nicholas Little. He had married a Harsen's Island girl, so that suited him very well. It had no spectacular future as a farm, isolated as it was in winter, and after his death, when the Odd Fellows decided to hold their gigantic raffle of lots on Stag Island, they thought the same idea could be carried out on Harsen's Island. They lacked all the capital necessary, so made an agreement with the widow to buy her farm and make a summer resort, paying her $1000 down. The deal was never completed, so in the end she got the present of $1000, a good cash crop." From William Lee Jenks, a native of Harsen's Island, his version of the famous gun fight of Harsen's: "At the death of Mr. Harsen (the first), the old homestead on the island fell to his son, Francis, who, during the War of 1812, and for many years thereafter, held an appointment in the Indian department at Detroit. At the close of the war, in 1815, he leased his farm to one Robert Little, a Canadian, and a most lawful British subject. By the lease, Harsen was to receive rent from the products of the farm, a part of which would be apples and cider.

In the succeeding fall, Harsen came up and collected rent without difficulty; but in the fall of 1816 Little refused to pay rent to Harsen, who was astonished at such refusal and wished to know the reason. Little stated to Harsen that the island was in Britannic Majesty's dominion, and that no American citizen could, under present laws, hold lands under the British government; that he had rendered important services to his government and was entitled to lands; that he was now in possession of the farm and should claim and hold it under British laws; he then drove Harsen from the premises.

Harsen returned to Detroit and engaged a lawyer by the name of Whitney, and in the year 1817 commenced suit in the county court of Macomb County, then embracing all that portion of the territory lying north and east of the present boundary of that county. Judge Clemens was the first judge, and Robert Fulton, the first purchaser of the land upon which St. Clair city now stands, was sheriff. There was some delay in the prosecution of this suit, it seems, for it was late in the fall of 1817 before the writ of ejectment was placed in the hands of Sheriff Fulton. On its receipt this officer proceeded to execute it; he called on Little and demanded the surrender of the premises. On this Little forcibly put the officer out of doors, and told him that he would procure arms and shoot any person attempting to oust him; he claimed that he was a subject of Great Britain and under the protection of that power; that no American court could interfere with or molest him. Fulton told the usurper that he would execute the writ if it took all the militia in the territory.

Accordingly he called on Lieutenant William Brown for assistance; Brown made a selection of six men, two of whom had been discharged from our army, and the next day crossed over to the island, landing at my father's residence; after procuring a small jug of whisky for his men, the party proceeded up to Harsen's farm, the owner joining them on the way.

It appears that Little was on the lookout, and informed of the sheriff's coming, and had prepared for the fight. He loaded the four guns in his house with coarse shot, and had a large five pail kettle over the fire filled with boiling water, and thus prepared he waited the assault.

The assaulting party, on their arrival, took possession of an outhouse, where they agreed upon a plan of attack, and fortified their courage by several nips from the contents of the little jug. It was agreed in council that Sheriff Fulton should first go to the outer door and in the name of the sovereign people of the United States demand asurrender of the premises, and, if refused, signal Lieutenant Brown, who was to take the place by storm. Accordingly Sheriff Fulton proceeded to make the formal demand, followed, at a short distance, by Mr. Harsen,
when Little fired on Harsen from a window, wounding him in the fleshy part of the leg. At the report of Little's gun, Brown ordered his men to surround the house and return the fire, which was done; the first shots shivered the door behind which Little stood, one bullet going past him and entering the bed on which his daughter was sitting. Little did not wait for another volley, but cried for quarter, and surrendered himself into the hands of the Yankees he so much hated."

From Nicholas Little, son of Robert Little, written 9/22/1875, his version of the Harsen's Island gun fight: "...Robert Little was born in Maryland; his father moved to Grosse Pointe, Michigan and he lived there with his father until he became of age and owned a farm there. Married a Miss Tucker from Mt. Clemens. Sold his farm at that point and bought a farm to carry on a dairy; from thence he moved back to Mt. Clemens; lived there until his wife's death. He had a family of 12 children, of which nine are living; the oldest is 84 years of age. Two sons of his were volunteers in the war of 1812, at Mt. Clemens, under Col. Stogden. His daughter, Mrs. Johnson, who came so near getting shot, is living yet. After his wife's death he resided with his son in Wallaceburg, Ont., one of the most prominent business men of that place, where he died in 1847 aged 76 years. He left a large circle of friends and relatives to mourn his loss." The prominent business man son was Hiram, who owned a general store in Wallaceburg.


From the Detroit Free Press, March 27, 1943:

FAMILY TWICE FRIVEN FROM HOMES BY TREATIES
By W. E. Phillips



History, with its accent on wars, treaties and dates, seems a dry subject, and one far removed from the average citizen, but talking to Dick Little, of Wallaceburg, one is reminded that such things as International treaties can have a decided effect on the lives of individuals.

Take the case of his grandfather, Robert Little, that is going back before the War of 1812. When it was over, he moved to Harsen's Island, which is opposite Walpole Island, both islands at that time being British territory. Here Robert Little purchased a farm and raised a family: in 1821 Hiram Little was born and duly recorded as a good, loyal Britisher. In 1822 the International Boundary Commission, established by the treaty of Ghent, finished their work and gave their findings. Where the boundary line had formerly passed down the north channel, it now passed between Harsen's and Walpole Islands. By agreement of the commissioners, Robert Little and his family became Americans. Not that they consulted Mr. Little in the matter; it just happened that their ruling on the location of the boundary at that point had that effect.

Had they consulted him they would no doubt have heard some forcible language on the subject; for Robert Little was a dyed-in-the-wool U.E. Loyalist. As long as Harsen's Island was British territory he was perfectly happy: when the commissioners decided otherwise he was so determined to remain under the British flag that he removed family and furniture to Walpole Island as being the nearest adjacent British territory. Here he set up farming again, building himself another house and barn and making a new start.

After the War of 1812, in pursuance of promises made to the followers of Tecumseh, that a place would be reserved for loyal Indians, WalpoleIsland was selected as one of the reserves. There was also another reserve on the upper bank of the chanal Ecarte, known as the Shawanese Reserve, which lay between the High Banks and Port Lambion. Since many of the Indians came from the American side and no doubt Robert Little thought he as as much to be considered as any of the Indians, since he was moving to Canada as a Loyalist.

Historians writing of Walpole Island are inclined to rate the white settlers on Walpole reserve as low; they refer to them as "the profligate whites, who settled on the frontier and by various frauds, and moments of intoxication, obtained leases and took possession of the most valuable and fertile part of the island." Probably some of them merited this, but there were men of the stamp of Robert Little, who certainly did not. Hiram Little who had excaped being born an American by a year, was brought up on Walpole Island. His mother died when he was three years old. When he was 19 he married Martha Tucker of Mt. Clemens.

In 1839 Walpole Reserve was placed under an assistant superintendent with orders to evict all the whites and settle the Indians on the farms thus vacated Staunch U.E. Loyalists like Robert Little, who had built up a well-tilled farm and had quartered the Goderich troops in 1637, were given no consideration: once more he packed up and moved and this time to a farm which he purchased on the north side of the Snye, which is now generally known as "The Arnold Farm.

Dick does not pretend to remember all the tugs and barges that his father had at various times. There was the tug Dauntless, and a succession of barges, some he sold again, and some just died of old age.

There is another curious tie back with local history on the Little family. The original Robert Little, when he moved to Walpole, still retained his title to the farm on Harsen's Island, and when he died there was a large family, nine brothers and a sister, and it did not seem worthwhile to try to split 90 acres among the 10 so they all signed off to Nicholas Little. He had married a Harsen's Island girl, and that suited him well. It had no spectacular future as a farm, isolated as it was in winter and after his death, when the Odd Fellows decided to hold their gigantic "raffle" of lots on Stag Island they thought the same idea could be carried out on Harsen's Island. They lacked all the capital necessary, so made an agreement with Mrs. Little to buy her farm and make a summer resort, paying her $1,000.00 down. The deal was never completed, so in the end she got a present of $1,000, a good cash cash crop.

The Little family have been personally affected by every phase of local history in the Snye area.

     
Children of R
OBERT LITTLE and SARAH TUCKER are:
7. i.   CAPTAIN NICHOLAS3 LITTLE, b. October 18, 1817, Harsen's Island, MI.; d. August 12, 1895.
  ii.   JACOB LITTLE, d. Unknown.
  iii.   MATTHEW LITTLE, d. Unknown.
  iv.   THOMAS LITTLE, d. Unknown.
  v.   ELIZABETH LITTLE, b. 1791; d. Unknown.
  vi.   GEORGE LITTLE, b. 1795; d. Unknown.
  vii.   WILLIAM LITTLE, d. Unknown.
  viii.   ROBERT LITTLE LITTLE, b. October 18, 1817; d. Unknown.
8. ix.   HIRAM LITTLE, b. 1821; d. January 12, 1887.


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