Leeds County, Ontario, Canada was first surveyed in 1792 in preparation for the United Empire Loyalists settlers. In 1850, Leeds County merged with Grenville to create the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville.
John Wiltsewas born on March 31, 1748 in Dutchess County, New York.,
He married Anna Cary. She was the daughter of David Cary and Ann Cornell.
Ruth Wiltse (1772, married Thomas How),
Solomon Wiltse ( 1773),
Cornelius Wiltse (1775, married Patience Mott),
Rhoda Wiltse (1780, married James Brown),
Sarah Wiltse (1783, married Oliver Brown),
Wiltse (1785, married Wing Walker), and
Wiltse (1788, married Lemule Cornell).
His second wife was Mary Conley.
John Wiltse, Jr. (1778, married Mary Wiltse),
Elizabeth Wiltse (1790, married Richard Jacqua),
Wiltse (1792, married Samuel Slack),
Phoebe Wiltse (1794, married Thomas How),
Wiltse (1801, married John Robinson).
Dutchess County, New York patriots forced colonists loyal to the British government to flee north into what became Ontario.
Benoni Wiltse was born on July 2, 1758 in Dutchess County, New York. His parents were Jeremiah and Mary Smith Wiltse.
He married Rachel Marks. Their children may have included:
Benoni Wiltse, Jr. (1777, married Mary Slack),
Joseph Wiltse (1782),
Susannah Wiltse (1782, married John Wiltse, Jr.),
Elizabeth Wiltse (1784, married John Conley),
James Wiltse (1786, married Christina Coleman).
Rachel Wiltse (1789),
Comfort Martin Wiltse (1790, married Hester Coleman),
Mary Wiltse (1790, married Daniel Brown), and
Hannah Wiltse (1792, married Samuel Kelsay).
During the American Revolution, he remained loyal to the Crown.
In 1784 the family moved to Canada.
In 1784 Benoni appeared on the provisioning list for disbanded troops as a member of the Loyal Rangers. He was mustered in Augusta. James was listed as a refugee.
John Wiltse, Jr. was born December 01, 1778. He was the son of John Wiltse and Anna Cary.
Hem arried Susannah Wiltse. Susannah was born April 17, 1782 in Hopewell, Dutchess County, New York.
John and Susannah's children probably included:
Elizabeth Wiltse (1798, married William White),
David Wiltse (1801, married Thankful Smith),
Nancy Wiltse (1803, married John White), and
Anna Wiltse (1807, married Jacob Palmer).
December 9, 1834
Chronicle & Gazette
February 26, 1840
from History of Leeds and Grenville, Ontario
Wiltse arrived in the spring of 1792 (this assertion
is disputed.) Soon after Mr. Wiltse s arrival, his
two brothers, James and Jeremiah, and a half
brother, John arrived, and, in consequence, the
Settlement became known as Wiltse Town. Benoni
Wiltse, who settled on lot No. n, in the 8th concession, where there was a small supply of water,
built the first grist and saw mill, Paul Glassford
superintending the work.
from The Rear of Leeds & Lansdowne: the making of community on the Gananoque River frontier, 1796-1996
The roots of anti-administration or Reform sentiment in the countryside around
Farmersville were deep. Benoni Wiltse, patriarch of a prominent local Loyalist family, as early as 1808 was vexed at not being appointed a top militia officer, and complained about those "who
faced us as Enemies through the late Revolution [being] placed to command and sit as judges."
Despite being a lieutenant-colonel in the second regiment of Leeds militia, Wiltse's poor example
to the young men in the Farmersville vicinity during the War of 1812 landed him in a court-mar
ial, and as late as 1815 he was still imprisoned at Brockville.
Rather than chastening Wiltse, the
court martial and imprisonment were viewed by his neighbours in the Farmersville vicinity as
unfair treatment by a provincial administration and a local Tory elite whose own privileged position was attributed to unwholesome family connections rather than personal merit.
administration views of local American-origin inhabitants were confirmed as they beheld individuals such as Nathan Hicock, despite faithfully discharging his duty during the war, being
refused a promotion in the militia, because he had attended Robert Gourlay's county convention. The Alien Bill and the heavy influx of ultra-Conservative Wexford Protestants in the 1820s
only exacerbated the call by local American-origin settlers for political reform.
During the American Revolution a Tory or Loyalist was used in for those who remained loyal to the British Crown.
from A Genealogical and Psychological Memoir of Philippe Maton Wiltsee and his Descendants
.....Having exeperienced mistreatment and the resulting hardship of contact
with the Bennington Mob. Jeremiah's sons by his second wife, could not
espouse the cause that the Mob supported subject to conciliatory proposals from
the British officers, and as a consequence, gave their support and sympathy to
Determined to take the part of those oppressed to the despoilers of their
father's home, and not feeling safe at Nobletown, Benoni in his ninteenth
year and James in his thirteenth, sought personal safety by joining the Loyalist forces.
It was only necessary to cross the Hudson River, to receive safe conduct
to the Loyalist organization, and receive friendly treatment. ....
In October, 1777, orders were issued by the Committee of Safety at Albany,
to remove every Tory or disaffected person to Connecticut. The Tories flocked
to the British for protection. Benoni Wiltsee and James, crossed the Hudson
River at Esopus, and followed the war path constructed by the Indians and
Tories to near the head waters of the Schoharie River, and followed the stream
They took the oath of fidelity to the crown, and joined the forces of Capt.
George Mann. Each one was given a scarlet cap to wear, as visible manifestation of his loyality to his soverign. They were mustered, and paraded and
drilled daily uptil Mann's forces were dispersed by Capt Woodbrake and his
The descendants of Benoni and James are not communicative in relation
to the part they took in these aff'airs. They talked to their descendants of
Cherry Valley, and told of having lived at Bethlehem 12 miles from Albany,
N. Y. and of having gone from there, in 1783, to St. Johns, Canada, and thence
to Leeds Co., Canada by boat.
Benoni acted as a spy for the British. If he and James were at the
massacre of Cherry Valley, November 18, 1778, they belonged to a detail from
Edward Jessup's forces, and engaged in all of his military enterprises. They,
probably, received commissions as officers of his Rangers, November 12, 1781. ...
My father, Joseph Wiltse,'' says John Wiltse' of Leeds County, Canada,
was born April 17, 1892. I have heard him say that he was from 12 miles
west of Albany, New York. When he was 10 months old, they moved to Canada,
about half way between Brockville and Prescott, on the bank of the river St.
Lawrence. When he was ten years old, they moved about 15 miles west onto
Lot No. 13, in Eighth Concession of Yonge, which lot I still own.
Benoni Wiltse emigrated from the United States to Canada in 1784,"
says Mrs. Charles Wiltse. "He crossed the St. Lawrence river below where
Brockville now stands, built himself a shanty for his family; and, when the
British Government granted him his lands, he built himself' a log house and
commenced a settlement as did his brother James, and his half brother, John's,
sons who soon arrived and followed them there. Their father, John Wiltse, Sr.,
emigrated in 1793, and lived a few years, and died of cancer of the face. The
settlement they made was about 12 or 15 miles west of the St. Lawrence river,
on land granted to Wiltses by the British Government. The settlement was called
Wiltsetown at first, then Farmersville; but it is now called Athens. Only
two Wiltse families now  remain. The rest have sold out and moved to
A militia is a military unit composed of citizens who are called up in time of need.