Two Years Aboard the Welcome: The American Revolution on Lake Huron

The War Years (1775-1783)

February 8, 2016
by Tyler Rudd Putman Also by this Author


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In the spring of 1775, the fur trading post at the junction of Lakes Michigan and Huron looked much as it had for years. Fort Michilimackinac, significantly larger than when the French founded the site in 1715, comprised a tall stockade wall surrounding streets of privately owned row houses, a church, a soldiers’ barracks, officers’ quarters, storehouses, privies, and workshops. The community, having long since outgrown the tight confines of the stockade, now included dirt streets with rows of small houses running eastward from the fort.[1] Everyone lived close to the water. The Great Lakes provided news, transportation, and livelihoods.

Past the village, near the beach of sand and pebbles, a small work crew clamored around the skeletal frame of a ship under construction. [2] This was a peculiar sight. It was the first large sailing vessel ever built at Michilimackinac, and one of the largest seen in the Mackinac region since French explorer La Salle’s Le Griffon almost a century before.[3] John Askin, who owned the unfinished vessel, had walked down to survey the work. A forty-five-year-old Irish-born British army veteran and fur trader, Askin settled at Michilimackinac in 1764 and by 1775 was one of the most prosperous merchants in the region.[4] Above all, he hoped that his latest investment would pay off. The vessel would be a small sloop, a type of single-masted vessel, and measure only 47 feet at the keel, the long timber at its base, but it was costly.[5] The following year, as the vessel wintered in the Cheboygan river east of Michilimackinac, Askin counted “the Sloop Welcome with everything belonging to her,” worth £700, as the most valuable entry in the inventory of his real and personal property.[6]

The Welcome proved more valuable than Askin ever imagined, but for very different ends than he intended. Michilimackinac seemed placid in 1775, but war simmered in the east. By the end of the American Revolution in 1783, despite all their other losses, British authorities claimed success in Canada. Communities around the Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior remained loyal to the British throughout the war. The Welcome and other ships knit the region together, convincing individuals from diverse backgrounds that they had enough in common, politically and economically, to make British government worth maintaining.

This was no mean feat. British authority around the Great Lakes was little more than a decade old and far from absolute when the colonial rebellion broke out in 1775. Most Canadian towns, such as Detroit, Montréal, and Québec, still felt more French than British. Lake Huron seemed an ideal cargo route to Askin, but many British officers and administrators viewed it as a wide swath of undefended territory. With the profitable fur trade in the balance and the Revolution now in full swing in the East, the British in Canada warily eyed rebel incursions south and east of the Great Lakes.[7]

“It is dangerous to leave this post any longer without a vessel to winter at it,” Maj. Arent Schuyler De Peyster, commander of the British garrison and head of the Fort Michilimackinac community, wrote in 1778, “& there is constant employment for one all the summer besides that the appearance of an armed vessel awes the Savages who are encamped where they can annoy the Fort without our being able to bring a gun to bear upon them unless it be from the water.”[8] In May of that year, he took the Welcome into the “Kings Service,” a phrase he used to describe what was, in essence, a temporary loan.[9] The arrangement held, and men such as Capt. Alexander Grant, in charge of the ships on the Upper Lakes, used the Welcome to reassure worrisome superiors. “I can stake my veracity and twenty one years knowledge of the Lakes,” he wrote in 1780, “That the Sloop Welcome answers all the ends of a vessel of War at Mackina, as the Great Fleet of England would.”[10]

And so it did. In early August, 1779, De Peyster dispatched the Welcome in support of a large party of Indian warriors commanded by British officers.[11] This mixed force set off to confront Americans and Indians operating in the Illinois country south of the St. Joseph River who, De Peyster believed, aimed to capture Detroit.[12] When the rebels never appeared and the Indians wandered away in dissatisfaction, the expedition dissolved. But such actions at least gave the British some claims to authority and control, and they would have been impossible without British ships. De Peyster believed that the Indians were left “exposed to the impositions of designing people,” and they seemed “in constant alarm, and are often much persuaded Detroit is taken.”[13]

No less alarmed were the British themselves, as Indians in the Detroit region reported increasingly frequent and friendly contact with American rebels.[14] The Welcome offered a convenient solution, then, to several of De Peyster’s problems. The cargo capacity of the vessel would supply some of the material needs of the Michilimackinac garrison, and the ship’s speed would allow regular correspondence with Detroit, reassuring De Peyster as much as the Indians that the city remained firmly in British hands.

On August 26, 1779, the Welcome arrived at Detroit, where twenty-three-year-old, recently commissioned Lt. Alexander Harrow waited at the dock. [15]  Harrow, an ambitious Scotsman with some formal education, arrived at Detroit with three years’ experience under his belt commanding British boats and crews in Québec and on Lake Champlain.[16] The Welcome’s crew in the fall of 1779 consisted of “eight men including a Master to command, one Boatswain & Gunner.”[17] Labor was in short supply on the Lakes, but high pay rates and plentiful rations attracted men to British service. The Welcome’s crew came from a variety of backgrounds, as suggested by their surnames: Brown, McCulloch, Finnigan, Lucien, Manuel, Dupic. Some probably came west as voyageurs, canoemen working for fur traders. Others may have been born in Michilimackinac, Detroit, or in one of the many small villages around the Lakes where Métis and Indians lived alongside each other. Perhaps a few of the crew traced their parentage to the French precursor of the liaisons De Peyster mentioned in a poem he wrote about leaving Michilimackinac:

Now to Mitchilimackinack,

We soldiers bid adieu,

And leave each squa a child on back,

Nay some are left with two.[18]

A mixed heritage allowed men to cross the cultural boundaries that existed in the Great Lakes long before national borders divided countries.[19] Aboard the Welcome, they travelled between Indian villages, British forts, and civilian trading posts as emissaries of the government.

That winter of 1779-1780, though, they spent their days north of Detroit cutting lumber in a mundane routine broken by little except bad weather and an occasional day of rest on Sundays. It was dangerous work, and over the winter five men cut themselves while working. With the closest surgeon miles away at Detroit, Harrow was careful to allow them ample recovery time, as he did with the various men who fell sick. Besides the occasional visitor, the only real event of note that winter occurred on January 28, when Harrow “punished Dupic for endeavouring to stur up a quarrel amongst the Party.”[20] Whatever Dupic’s complaint and punishment were, they did not deter him from remaining with the Welcome for another year.[21] In fact, disobedience and discipline were relatively rare aboard the Welcome compared to other British naval vessels.[22]

The Welcome’s relative disciplinary order did not extend to the region as a whole. In the summer of 1780, during a typical cargo run out of Detroit, Harrow took on board four traders, two of their wives, one child, two British soldiers, and thirteen Indians led by Musqueash.[23] An Ojibwe chief from the St. Clair River region, Musqueash regularly visited the Welcome and, along with other Indians, brought Harrow news and received rum.[24] On this particular occasion, his small band travelled north to Michilimackinac aboard the sloop.

When Harrow arrived on July 29, 1780, the new head at Michilimackinac, Lt. Gov. Patrick Sinclair, was in a fury. It was improper for Musqueash’s band to be at Michilimackinac “at this advanced season of the year,” he fumed.[25] An officer met Harrow’s boat at the wharf and forbade him to land. Rebuffed, Harrow returned to the Welcome and soon after communicated with Norman McKay, master of the Felicity. McKay complained that, over the preceding weeks, Sinclair had repeatedly sent the vessel to Mackinac Island, “once to carry an Empty Barrell, once with a Letter & for a Load of Hay.”[26] Harrow ordered McKay to Detroit, where officials could put the Felicity and its crew to better use.[27]

Sensitive to intrusions on his authority, Sinclair summoned Harrow back to the fort. Dare to undermine me again, Sinclair threatened, and “I’ll put you in the Guard room.”[28] Sinclair also accused Harrow of transporting a few supplies the previous fall without authorization.[29] Under Sinclair’s orders, several officers interrogated Harrow about stores he had supposedly absconded with before allowing him to return to his sloop.[30] Before he had sailed even a few miles from Michilimackinac, an armed detachment overtook the Welcome, arrested Harrow, and confined him to the fort.[31] Sinclair handed over command of the Welcome to an underling, dispatching the sloop to Detroit, but not before reading Harrow’s correspondence and refusing to allow Harrow to send the ship’s log to Detroit.[32] Harrow languished under arrest at Michilimackinac, hoping his expected trial might take place somewhere else, perhaps Detroit, with more impartial adjudicators.[33]

What saved Harrow from a trial, in the end, was not Sinclair’s leniency so much as his hostility. In 1780, Sinclair also clashed with John Askin over the British merchant’s duties as deputy commissary in charge of the King’s stores at Michilimackinac, and with Capt. John Mompesson, the new commander of British troops at the fort.[34] Meanwhile, in an attempt to calm Sinclair and secure Harrow’s release, Michilimackinac’s former commander Arent Schuyler De Peyster, now at Detroit, wrote to Governor Haldimand claiming responsibility for the transportation of Musqueash.[35] Haldimand, equally sensitive to Sinclair’s situation as a new commander and the man’s bruised sense of authority, let Sinclair decide whether to forgive or dismiss Harrow.[36] Increasingly preoccupied with other problems, Sinclair allowed Harrow to travel to Detroit in September, where he was almost immediately cleared of charges and placed back in command of the Welcome.[37] Other victims of Sinclair’s anger were not so lucky. Samuel Robertson, the Welcome’s first civilian captain, was arrested in April 1780 for supposedly tampering with the mail and died in Québec, still awaiting trial, two years later.[38]

The replica Welcome was built by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission at Fort Michilimackinac for the 200th anniversary of Independence Day. (Maritime Heritage Alliance)
The replica Welcome was built by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission at Fort Michilimackinac for the U.S. Bicentennial. (Maritime Heritage Alliance)

That fall, the Welcome helped move the Michilimackinac community to the more defensible Mackinac Island. This work would consume the time of Michilimackinac’s residents, military and civilian, as everyone moved their homes and businesses to the new site over the course of a year. But as the leaves turned colors and then fell from the trees late in 1780, the crew of the Welcome had more immediate concerns. Winter was coming, and the Straits of Mackinac would be no place for a wooden sloop when the violent storms arrived and ice floes advanced across the open water.

The winter of 1780 fatally damaged the sloop Welcome. On December 10, a storm carried away a large section of the Mackinac Island wharf where the Welcome was moored, and the crews and soldiers from the new fort spent most of the night and the next few days pumping out and unloading the ship. Lacking both the necessary timber (white oak or white pine) and any experienced shipbuilders, Harrow doubted whether his crews could repair the Welcome.[39]

It surprised everyone when the crew was able to make the Welcome seaworthy again. It took weeks, but the crew and area carpenters repaired leaks, caulked places above the waterline, and built “Brush Fenders” to provide a cushion between the vessels and the dock.[40] Then, they “hove down” the Welcome, a process also known as careening, which tilted the sloop to one side, exposing the hull for repairs.[41] With the help of some of the soldiers, they removed the remaining ballast, washed the hold, and rigged the sloop. By late April, the ice had cleared and the ship put to sea again, albeit leaking substantially.[42]

The Welcome sailed for only a few months after Harrow left the sloop to take command of the Angelica in the summer of 1781.[43]  As early as 1780, De Peyster knew the Welcome would soon “want a thorough overhaul,” and the British government finally condemned the vessel near the end of 1781, transferring the crew to the Angelica.[44] A single period document listed the Welcome as “lost in 1781 with all her furniture and spare stores,” but no other source survives to confirm or refute this.[45] Whether she was scrapped or she sank, the Welcome’s time on the Great Lakes ended two years before the end of the Revolution.[46]

But by the time the Welcome disappeared, she had accomplished her mission. The Welcome carried a variety of weapons, and Harrow occasionally sent armed scouting parties ashore to locate someone or identify landmarks, but the crew never fired a shot in anger.[47] The armed sloop failed to sooth the worries of British officers about Indian allegiance or rebel threats. And yet, no large Indian revolt ever appeared. No Americans attacked Detroit or Michilimackinac. Indeed, it was not until the 1790s, well after the end of the war, that the British finally evacuated these posts.

Amid the political history of the Revolution, the Welcome seems like a mere speck on Lake Huron, a simple courier of letters and passengers. But the ship forged connections between Michilimackinac, Detroit, Fort Erie, and all the scattered communities and individuals in between. The British used Lake Huron strategically, distributing provisions, ferrying troops, transporting Indians, relaying reassuring or chastising messages, and harvesting resources. The natives of the lakeshore – whether French, British, Métis, or Indian – had no reason to go to war against the British. Harrow and his crew helped maintain the prewar status quo. Sometimes the war was on their minds, but, most days, they sailed and worked without any fear of Patriot or Indian rebellion. The security of the Great Lakes worried some British authorities, but for men aboard the Welcome and people around Lake Huron, this was home. To many, home seemed to be becoming more British. When the time came at the end of the war to draw the borders of a new country, the Lakes became the division between the United States and British Canada.[48] The Welcome, as much as any other part of the Revolution on the Great Lakes, had helped solidify the British loyalty that created this border.


Acknowledgements: The author thanks Nicole Belolan, Owen White, Kelsey J.S. Ransick, Brian Jaeschke, Mike Stiles and Keith R. Widder.

[1] On Michilimackinac at this time, see David A. Armour and Keith R. Widder, At the Crossroads: Michilimackinac During the American Revolution (Mackinac Island, MI: Mackinac State Historic Parks, 1986), 8. This book and John E. McDowell, “When the Welcome Sailed the Great Lakes,” in A Wind Gone Down: Out of the Wilderness (Lansing, MI: The Michigan History Division, Michigan Department of State, 1978). are the only secondary sources to discuss the Welcome in any detail.

[2] Armour, a reliable Michilimackinac historian, believed the Welcome was constructed there in 1775, probably based on “List of Vessels,” 1783, Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society (henceforth MPHS), ed., Historical Collections: Collections and Researches Made by the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, vol. XXIV (Lansing, MI: Robert Smith & Co., State Printers and Binders, 1895), 12. See David A. Armour, “Askin’s WELCOME Will Sail Again,” Telescope 22, no. 5 (October 1973): 139–41. There is no mention of the Welcome’s construction in Askin’s published papers. In 1778, Askin wrote that Robertson had been “master of my Vessell,” how he usually referred to the Welcome, “ this several years past,” suggesting that the ship was a few years old in 1778: Askin to McMurry, April 28, 1778, Milo M. Quaife, ed., The John Askin Papers, vol. 1: 1747–95 (Detroit: Detroit Library Commission, 1928), 70.

[3] Data on ship measurements in the Great Lakes before this period are sparse, so the precise relation of the Welcome to other, earlier Mackinac vessels is difficult to determine with certainty. The only larger ship preceding the Welcome was the schooner Gladwin, 80 tons burthen and carrying 8 guns, which made it to Michilimackinac in 1764, captained by Patrick Sinclair. See J. Carver, Travels Through the Interior Parts of North-America, in the Years 1766, 1767, and 1768 (London: Printed for the Author, 1778), 149, a 1778 return in The Canadian Institute, Transactions of the Canadian Institute, vol. IV (Toronto: The Canadian Institute, 1895), 311, and Keith R. Widder, Beyond Pontiac’s Shadow: Michilimackinac and the Anglo-Indian War of 1763 (East Lansing and Mackinac Island, MI: Michigan State University Press and Mackinac State Historic Parks, 2013), 133 and 208. I am grateful to Keith R. Widder for bringing the Gladwin to my attention.  On Le Griffon, see Great Lakes Exploration Group, “The Search for the Elusive Griffon,”

[4] Quaife, Askin Papers, 1: 1747–95:4–5. Recent dissertations on Askin include Elizabeth Sherburn Demers, “Keeping a Store: The Social and Commercial Worlds of John Askin in the Eighteenth-Century Great Lakes, 1763-1796” (PhD diss., Michigan State University, 2010) and Justin M. Carroll, “John Askin’s Many Beneficial Binds: Family, Trade, and Empire in the Great Lakes” (PhD diss., Michigan State University, 2011).

[5] Armour, “Askin’s WELCOME Will Sail Again,” 139. Brian Jaeschke, Registrar, Mackinac State Historic Parks, was able to locate an uncited photocopy in the Park files of a document, probably from the Haldimand Papers in the British Library, entitled “A General Return of His Majesty’s Arm’d Vessels … 1st Jany. 1779,” which gave this figure: email communication, April 1, 2013.

[6] John Askin, “Inventery of my Estate Viz:,” December 31, 1776, Armour and Widder, At the Crossroads, 209.

[7] On the Revolution in the Great Lakes, see Armour and Widder, At the Crossroads, Thomas Kurt Knoerl, “Empire in the Hold: The British Maritime Cultural Landscape in the Western Great Lakes 1759-1796” (Dissertation, George Mason University, 2012), David Curtis Skaggs and Larry L. Nelson, eds., The Sixty Years’ War for the Great Lakes, 1754-1814 (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2001), Nancy L. Woolworth, “Grand Portage in the Revolutionary War,” Minnesota History 44, no. 6 (Summer 1975): 198–208, and Arthur Britton Smith, Legend of the Lake: The 22-Gun Brig-Sloop Ontario, 1780, New Discovery Edition (Kingston, Canada: Quarry Heritage Books, 2009).

[8] De Peyster to Carleton, May 30, 1778, MPHS and Henry S. Bartholomew, eds., Collections: Report of the Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan, 2nd ed., vol. IX, Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections (Lansing, MI: Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Company, State Printers, 1908), 366.

[9] De Peyster to Carleton, May 30, 1778, Ibid. On De Peyster, see  Armour and Widder, At the Crossroads.

[10] Grant to Bolton, undated [August 1780], MPHS, ed., Historical Collections: Collections and Researches Made by the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, vol. XIX, Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections (Lansing, MI: Robert Smith & Co., State Printers and Binders, 1892), 556.

[11] Lt. George Clowes, although an army officer, seems to have been in charge of the Welcome during this voyage. De Peyster to Haldimand, August 23, 1779, and Lt. Thomas Bennett’s report, September 1, 1779, MPHS and Bartholomew, Collections, IX:394 and 396–397.

[12] On this expedition, see De Peyster’s letters of July 9 (two) and 21, August 9, 13, and 23, and September 4, 1779, and Bennett’s letter and report, Ibid., IX:389–397. De Peyster had apparently been contemplating using the Welcome on Lake Michigan as early as October, 1778: De Peyster to Haldimand, October 24 and October 27, 1778, Ibid., IX:374–277. The St. Joseph region remained problematic for the British. On January 27, 1781, Harrow noted that “about Noon Two Traders with a Party of Canadians who had repuls’d + routed a Party of Rebells at St. Josephs, arriv’d here [Mackinac Island] bringing 3 Prisoners.”

[13] De Peyster to Haldimand, July 21, 1779, MPHS and Bartholomew, Collections, IX:391.

[14] For examples of Indian reporting American encounters to the Detroit garrison, see William E. Evans and Elizabeth S. Sklar, eds., Detroit to Fort Sackville, 1778-1779: The Journal of Normand MacLeod (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1978). On British responses at Michilimackinac, see Keith R. Widder, “Effects of the American Revolution on Fur-Trade Society at Michilimackinac,” in The Fur Trade Revisited: Selected Papers of the Sixth North American Fur Trade Conference, Mackinac Island, Michigan, 1991, ed. Jennifer S. H. Brown, W. J. Eccles, and Donald P. Heldman (East Lansing/Mackinac Island, MI: Michigan State University Press/Mackinac State Historic Parks, 1994), 299–316. Widder concluded that the war strengthened British-Indian relations.

[15] Harrow’s commission as “Lieutenant and commander on the lakes” was dated July 7, 1778, according to Canada Parliament, Sessional Papers, Volume 11:  First Session of the Sixth Parliament of the Dominion of Canada (Ottawa, Canada: MacLean, Roger & Co., Parliamentary Printers, 1887), 642. Some of Harrow’s papers besides his 1779-1782 log are in the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library. Another of Harrow’s journals and other family newspaper clippings are in the Lehigh University Library Special Collections (see below). The Detroit Institute of Arts owns a beaver-shaped bowl that may have belonged to Harrow.

[16] W.L. Jenks, “Have Lived on the Land They Now Occupy for Past 125 Years,” undated printed pamphlet, likely circa 1910, “I remain: A Digital Archive of Letters, Manuscripts, and Ephemera,” Lehigh University Digital Library,;0;0;0&view=full. Harrow is also profiled, with some inaccuracy, in Dorothy Marie Mitts, That Noble Country: The Romance of the St. Clair River Region (Philadelphia, PA: Dorrance & Company, 1968), 183–184.

[17] “Remarks…,” October 27, 1777, Reuben G. Thwaites, ed., Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, vol. XI (Madison, WI: Democrat Printing Company, State Printers, 1888), 187.

[18] The poem, “A Song,” continues: “When you return, my lads, take care/Their boys don’t take you by the hair,/With a war whoop that shall rend the air,/And use their scalping knives”: Arent Schuyler De Peyster, Miscellanies, by an Officer, ed. J. Watts De Peyster, vol. I, 1889, 39–40.

[19] Various historians have pointed to the mutli-racial and multi-ethnic nature of contemporaneous maritime work elsewhere, especially in the Atlantic World. See Paul Gilje, Liberty on the Waterfront: American Maritime Culture in the Age of Revolution (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 25.; Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners,  and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000); W. Jeffrey Bolster, Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997); Emma Christopher, Slave Ship Sailors and Their Captive Cargoes, 1730-1807 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

[20] Alexander Harrow, “Log-Book of the Welcome, 1779-1782” n.d., Alexander Harrow Family, 1775-1930, Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library. Microfilm in possession of author, January 28, 1780.

[21] The last mention of Dupic in Harrow’s log was on March 27, 1781.

[22] See Christopher Lloyd, The British Seaman, 1200-1860: A Social Survey (Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1970), 239–248, N. A. M. Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy (New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 1996), 205–251, and Nicholas Blake, Steering to Glory: A Day in the Life of a Ship of the Line (London, UK/St. Paul, MN: Chatham Publishing/MBI Publishing Company, 2005), 79–80. On merchant ships, see Marcus Rediker, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1987).

[23] “Return…,” July 29, 1780, MPHS and Bartholomew, Collections, IX:657.

[24] Harrow mentions Musqueash, with various spellings, on September 3, 1779, and May 4 and July 10, 1780, Harrow, “Log-Book.” Variant spellings are mentioned in Mitts, That Noble Country, 44., and in Armour and Widder, At the Crossroads, 117.

[25] Sinclair to De Peyster, undated, and Sinclair to De Peyster, July 30, 1780, MPHS and Bartholomew, Collections, IX:600.

[26] Harrow to Grant, July 31, 1780, Ibid., IX:601. McKay told a similar version in a letter which also demonstrates Harrow’s relative education (McKay’s spelling and grammar are less accomplished): McKay to Grant, July 29, 1780, Ibid., IX:606.

[27] Harrow to McKay, July 30, 1780, MPHS and Bartholomew, Collections, IX:602–603.

[28] Harrow to Grant, July 31, 1780, Ibid., IX:601.

[29] These supplies amounted to three barrels of pork, three barrels of flour, and a box of candles. Harrow replied that he had only taken goods “by Receipt to the Commissary for the Vessel’s use and which I had accounted for”: Ibid.

[30] “Questions,” undated, Ibid., IX:603.

[31] Harrow to Grant, July 31, 1780, and Sinclair to Harrow, July 30, 1780, Ibid., IX:602 and 605. See also the other documents Harrow attached to his letter to Grant, Ibid., IX:602–604, and Sinclair to Haldimand, August 3, 1780, Ibid., IX:572–573.

[32] Sinclair to Guthrie, July 31, 1780, MPHS and Bartholomew, Collections, IX:605. Harrow to Bolton, August 21, 1780, Ibid., IX:606–607.

[33] MPHS and Bartholomew, Collections, IX:607.

[34] On these clashes, see Armour and Widder, At the Crossroads, 135–136 and 154–156.

[35]De Peyster to Haldimand, August 13, 1780, MPHS and Bartholomew, Collections, IX:598.

[36] Haldimand to Sinclair, August 21, 1780, Ibid., IX:573.

[37] Harrow, “Log-Book.” July 31, 1780 (this entry encompasses the period through September 26, 1780).

[38] Armour and Widder, At the Crossroads, 137.

[39]Grant to Powell, March 18, 1781, MPHS, Historical Collections, 1892, XIX:602. In the end, however, after substantial work, both vessels returned to the Lakes in 1781: Haldimand to Powell, June 23, 1781, Ibid., XIX:641.

[40] Harrow, “Log-Book.” April 9, 1781.

[41] Ibid., April 12 and 16, 1781. On “hove down” as synonymous with careening, see William Falconer, An Universal Dictionary of the Marine (London, UK: T. Cadell, 1784)., s.v. “Careening.”

[42] Harrow, “Log-Book.”, April 24, 1781.

[43] Ibid., July 26-27, 1781. This page of Harrow’s log is unusually faded, obscuring some minor details of the transfer.

[44] De Peyster to Sinclair, May 18, 1780, MPHS and Bartholomew, Collections, IX:582. Grant to Powell, January 24, 1782, MPHS, ed., Historical Collections: Collections and Researches Made by the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, vol. XX, Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections (Lansing, MI: Robert Smith & Co., State Printers and Binders, 1892), 2. The last mention of the Welcome in Harrow’s log is on September 12, 1781, Harrow, “Log-Book.”

[45] “List of Vessels,” 1783, MPHS, Historical Collections, 1895, XXIV:12.

[46] At least until an interpretive reconstruction was built during the U.S. Bicentennial. After a period of ownership by the Maritime Heritage Alliance of Traverse City, Michigan, the sloop now belongs to Emmett County, Michigan. See Armour, “Askin’s WELCOME,” and “Welcome,” Maritime Heritage Alliance,, and “Building Sloop Welcome,” Chandler Township Charlevoix County Michigan Memories,

[47] Harrow send “arm’d” parties ashore on June 22, 1780, October 4 and 21, 1780, and May 11 and 12, 1781.

[48] On this topic, especially relating to later periods, see John J. Bukowczyk, Permeable Border: The Great Lakes Basin as Transnational Region, 1650-1990 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005).


  • Great, great posting on Michigan’s role in the American Revolution, albeit a small role. but, nonetheless, it’s interesting to note that not everything occurred on the east coast.
    Thank you.

  • An interesting look at an area on the fringe of the America Revolution. I find no record of a sea officer’s commission for either Alexander Harrow or Alexander Grant being issued or confirmed by the Lords of the Admiralty between 01 Jan 1774 and 04 Jan 1786 (Admiralty Commissions & Warrants Books, ADM 6/21, p. 1, to ADM 6/23, p. 310; Syrett & DiNardo, Commissioned Sea Officers of the Royal Navy 1660-1815). This suggests that Harrow’s commission was a provincial commission. You credit source Mitts [note 16] with “some inaccuracy” but that comment certainly also applies to source Jenks [ibid.]. Some of Jenk’s narrative is historically improbable but a discussion would be to lengthy for this forum. There is a possibility that Harrow was a petty officer in the Royal Navy in 1775 and, if Jenk’s date of 10 Oct 1775 is correct, that would most likely put him on HMS Hunter, a Sloop of War.

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