A History of the Ogden Family
Written in 1908 and presented to the United Empire Loyalists Association in Toronto on February 11th, 1932.
We must carry ourselves back in thought to the conditions of the early days to realize what coming to the new world meant. The first settlers took a long and perilous journey across the great Atlantic to come to a country that was then a wilderness inhabited only by fierce red men who made constant attacks on his hated white brother. But the new land was full of promise and, in spite of great hardships and terrible rebuffs the brave first comers at last succeeded in establishing themselves securely. The original colony was composed of two classes of men - adventurers and those who, being unsuccessful at home sought to retrieve their fallen fortunes in a new land. In this way, Virginia was settled by the English, New Amsterdam and New Jersey by the Dutch. But beginning in 1620, there came a ne class of settlers, those splendid men and women, self-exiled from their native land because of religious persecution who came to fight for their existence in this wild new country all for the sake of their conscience. To this class belonged John Ogden the Pilgrim who, with many others, came from England early in 1640 and landed at Southhampton, Long Island where he settled with his family and did much towards building up the town. He built the historic stone church, within the fort of New Amsterdam, which place we now know as New York.
Whaling was one of his chief enterprises, and in 1650 he was granted the exclusive right of capturing whales for seven years. He took an active part in the affairs of government and held the following offices:
In 1664 he saw better opportunities for advancement by removing to Elizabethtown which he did, settling down in New Jersey, which was thenceforward the home of all the Ogdens until the Declaration of Independence. Here too he interested himself in the affairs of the new town, and his integrity and ability in public affairs is shown by the fact that he was made Deputy Governor, and later Governor. His useful and successful career was brought to an end by his death in 1682. He was buried in the graveyard of the First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethtown where there are no less than ninety one Ogden tombstones.
John Ogden the Pilgrim left behind him six children from whom have descended nearly 14,000 souls, including Kenneth Ogden Black of Salmon Arm British Columbia, but we will mention only the ancestors of the Canadian branch of the family, of whom the first was David Ogden, the second son of John Ogden the Pilgrim.
David was one year old when he arrived with his Pilgrim father in the New World. He apears to have followed the example of his father, taking an active interest in the development of the new colony but keeping up the family traditions of loyalty to his sovereign in the old country. His name is prominent amongst those who first took the oath of allegiance to King Charles II. This seems an appropriate action for a descendent of that John Ogden, who rendered valuable assistance to the unlucky monarch when he was beset and pursued by Cromwell after the Battle of Worcester. John Ogden was fortunate enough to help Charles II in escaping from the trying position thus described in the Comic History Of England:
"Charles, after travelling two nights on foot, had put up at the house of one of the Penderells' brothers, but it was not thought safe for him to remain in it, and His Majesty was advised to hide in a large bushy oak tree. The King, having supplied himself with bread, cheese and beer which could not have been table beer for there was no table to put it on -- though there were plenty of leaves -- made the best of the imperial accommodation that the tree afforded him. He had no sooner settled in his perch, and made himself a kind of nest amongst the boughs, than some of Cromwell's soldiers showed up and looked every where for the monarch -- except in the right place -- for the fugitive monarch. His legs, as usual, were visible enough, butthe troopers perhaps mistook them for a pair of stockings hanging up to dry and they were not even struck by the shoes at the end, which should have awakened them to the valuable booty above."
For the service then rendered, John Ogden was elevated to the rank of Esquire by Creation, and received permission to wear the armorial bearings, which the family still use. These are the oak tree with lion rampant and the motto - Etsi Ostendo mon Jacto.
There are no ther outstanding events of particular interest in the life of David Ogden, so we pass on to the third generation of the family in America, namely David's second son Josiah. The character of this man is spoken of in Stearn's History of Newark as follows:
Colonel Josiah Ogden was a leading member of the community, he was a man of energy, wealth and influence and for many years represented Newark in the General Assembly. He appears to have been a man of strong individuality holding positive views regarding the spiritual and the temporal. On a certain Sunday Colonel Ogden, contrary to the rule of the First Church, worked his fields to save his wheat from ruin. For this daring conduct he was publicly censured by the church. The Presbytery, however, reversed the decision of the church, considering Colonel Ogden's action one of imperative necessity, and tried to pour oil on troubled waters. It was too late. Round Colonel Ogden gathered a large number who openly declared themselves very dissatisfied with the Presbyterian form of church government. A bitter controversy erupted. Colonel Ogden referred the matter to the Philadelphia Synod, and out of this trivial matter sprang the Trinity Episcopal Church of Newark.
Colonel Ogden died in 1763 and he left his silver service to the church of which he was called the founder.
Josiah Ogden was followed by his son David Ogden who was born in Newark in 1707 and graduated with high honours from Yale College at the age of 21. He fulfilled the promise of early success and soon attained wealth and wide-spread influence. He was a Member of His Majesty's Council and Justice of the Supreme Court.
When the Revolutionary war was threatening, Judge Ogden took a decided stand on the side of the Loyalists. Later, when war actually began, he was so persecuted because of his adherence to the King, that he was forced to remove to Long Island. After the independence of the republic was recognized by the British Government, Judge Ogden went to England: and there he represented the Loyalists, asking compensation for the losses that they had suffered because of their loyalty to the King.
Judge David's son Isaac Ogden was old enough to take a man's part in these troublous times, and being a staunch Loyalist like his father, he underwent the sufferings and indignities of that party. He had graduated in the first class that went out from King's College New York - now Columbia University - and the visissitudes of the war had cut short his career in Newark as a distinguished judge. He owned large and valuable properties in Newark, and it is interesting to note that his house was built on the site where the First National Bank now stands. This house was the scene of some of the most active operations of the war, as it was alternately occupied by the British General and the Republican Commander, as either party happened to be successful. Later during the war his property was condemmed and sold and Judge Isaac Ogden was obliged to seek safety in New York as a refugee. Then when New York was evacuated by the British troops, he threw over all his reviving prospects and went with his family to England.
The sacrifices he had made and the sufferings he had undergone were recognized by the English Government which, as a reward, appointed him judge of the admirality at Quebec in 1788. He at once re-crossed the Atlantic and established his family in Quebec, where his natural enrgy enabled him to regain much of his losses. During Lord Dorchester's Administration he was appointed one of the Puisne Judges of the District of Montreal and he accordingly removed his residence to that city.
In 1815 his health gave out and he returned to England for the benefit of superior medical assistance, but to no avail. He died in 1824 and His Majesty George IV specially recommended that a suitable provision be made for his widow and children.
Judge Isaac Ogden's family were the first truely Canadian Ogdens. The story of his youngest son, Peter Skene Ogden is of keen interest because it gives us a vivid picture of those early days in Canada. He went to the North West where he became Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company in British Columbia, soon leaving them to join the North West Fur Company of Montreal. At this time he was described as being 'short and dark skinned, and lively and witty and a favourite with everybody. He was greatly esteemed by his fellow officers and worshiped by his men and by the Indians. He was always chosen to perform the most delicate and dangerous missions.Read source documents on Peter Skene Ogden.
An instance of this was Peter Skene Ogden's great work in connection with the Whitman Massacre in 1847, when the missionary, his wife and nine other people were brutally murdered by the Cayuses. The massacre took place in what is now Washington State. 32 others were taken captive including another missionary, Mr. Spalding and his wife, and an artist, Mr Stanley and the task of rescuing them was given to Peter Skene Ogdgen. This rescue had to be achieved before the American soldiers could reach the Cayuses, for if they knew that an army was marching on them, every captive would be slain without a moment's hesitation. Within 24 hours of the arrival of the news of the massacre Peter Skene Ogden had set out with a party of 16 men for Fort Walla Walla. They arrived not a moment too soon; the Indians, including the women were already assembled near the captives' house, armed with knives and other instruments of butchery, awaiting the order of their great chief who was also present.
Ogden's first act was to call a council of the chiefs to learn of their plans for the captives. The Indians' hope of securing peace with the Americans depended upon them retaining the hostages. But Ogden's speech was so stirring and forceful that the Great Chief consesnted to take a ransom for the hostages. His reply to Ogden's speech was recorded thusly:
"Chief your words are weighty. Your hairs are grey. We have known you for a long time. You have had an unpleasant journeyto this place. I cannot therefore keep the families back. I make them over to you, which I would not do to any other than yourself."
No sooner had Peter Skene Ogden received the hostages than the first American riflemen arrived at Fort Walla Walla in what is now Washington.
In the meantime, Peter Skene Ogden's brothers were also making their way in the fast developing Dominion of Canada. The eldest, David Ogden, was an emminent barrister in Montreal. Isaac Ogden Jr. was one of the foremost men of his time: he was captain of His Majesty's 56th Regiment and for 40 years was sheriff of Three Rivers Quebec. Charles Richard Ogden, the fourth son, followed his father's profession and became a lawyer in Montreal. He was appointed by the Duke of Richmond to act as His Majesty's Attorney General For the District of Three Rivers and later became Attorney General for all of Lower Canada.
The situation in Canada at that time was very unsettled. The troubles of 1837-38 were fresh in everyones' minds. Mr. Charles Richard Ogden worked closely with Lord Sydenham to bring about a happy settlement of the question of the union of the two provinces and the establishment of a new constitution for their future government. These reforms were achieved and Mr. Ogden with his colleagues conducted the Government through the first session of a united Canada at Kingston in 1841.
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