Adam Vrooman

ID # 1432, (1753-1810)
FatherJacob Vrooman (1717-)
MotherRachel Van Woert (1724-1793)
BirthAdam Vrooman was born on 16 August 1753. 
MarriageHe married Margaret Mattice
DeathHe died on 5 January 1810 at age 56. 
BurialHe was buried on 8 January 1810 at St. Mark's Anglican Church Cemetery, Niagara Town. 
NoteIn our study of Adam Vrooman the Loyalist and his family, we may take for a beginning the 1949 book The Vrooman Family in America by Grace Elizabeth Vrooman Wickersham and Ernest Bernard Comstock. While the book has much useful information, it also has some errors and omissions, so it is well to handle the information with care. On the point of the children named in the book for Adam Vrooman and Margaret Mattice, we are on solid ground. We may confirm the list as it appears in the book from the petitions made by the children for grants of land, grants to which they were entitled as the sons and daughters of an enrolled United Empire Loyalist. Whoever was the major contributor to the book's contents relating to Solomon Secord Vrooman and, probably, his sister Rachel and their descendants, the information has been found to stand up well, though it is safe to say that some points were glossed for the comfort of family members.

This effort originally was to sort out the children of Arents and Adam Vrooman Jr., for it was apparent that there were some errors. See pages 110 and 111 of the 1949 book. This is discussed under their names.

Records for St. Mark's Anglican Church, Niagara-on-the-Lake, 1792-1815, show the burial of Adam Vrooman Sen'r 'near Queenston' on 8 Jan. 1810. This does not provide us with the date of his death or a clear statement as to where he was buried. Pages 160 and 161 of the 1949 book, however, quote a copy of a letter from W.R Vrooman (Walter Roselle Vrooman) of Clyde, New York, and this shows the date of Adam's death, 5 January, 1810, as being in the family bible. He also tells how how his father, Solomon Andrew Vrooman, had pointed out for him the place of burial for Adam Vrooman by Solomon Secord Vrooman. He indicates that a stone was not to be found, but the burial was indeed located at the 'Episcopal Grounds at Niagara on the Lake', so we must believe that Adam is buried at St. Mark's Anglican Church cemetery.

A note here as to the rank held by Adam Vrooman. It would seem that his son, Solomon Secord Vrooman, relayed to his children that his father Adam had been a captain. A somewhat garbled and brief history of the Vroomans as presented by Iowa GenWeb for the Haner family would have it that Adam was a general. It may also be said that the petition made by Arents Schuyler Depeyester Vrooman for a Crown grant, based on the fact that he was the son of a United Empire Loyalist, presents father Adam as having the rank of captain. Documentably, Adam was a sergeant in Butler's Rangers. He shows himself as thus in various land petitions, and some of his children refer to him so in their petitions. However, in one petition made by Adam in February of 1797 (see C-2842 image 01231) Adam refers to himself as a sergeant in Col. Butler's Rangers and as a captain in the Lincoln Militia. A general Adam Vrooman certainly was not. We may accept his claim to the rank of captain in the Lincoln Militia, however, not only based on his and Arents' petitions, but also on an index card to a Library and Archives Canada database which names him as a captain in this militia in 1795.

The histories of the children of Adam and Margaret are a bit more of a challenge. As mentioned, the children of young Adam and his brother Arents are confused in the book and take some sorting out. Information for Rachel, the daughter of Adam Vrooman Sr. and Margaret Mattice, presents us with some difficulties, not all of which are resolved. It was originally thought that information for the marriage and family of George Laws Vrooman would be the most difficult to research, but census information is relatively easy to find and a great deal of information was graciously provided by a descendant, a lady who has been a most enjoyable correspondent.

An early mention of Adam Vrooman is to be found in Early Ontario Settlers, A Source Book, by Norman K. Crowder, 1993, Genealogical Publishing Company, page 4. The page is headed: Return of Persons under the Description of Loyalists, Specifying the Number, Ages and Sexes of each family in Capt. William Caldwell's Company in the Corps of Rangers at Niagara 30 November 1783. The list shows Serj. Adam Vroman, Margrit Vroman,and Rachal Vroman (age 2).

One earlier reference has been found, however, on an Archives Canada's card index to the Quebec Gazette. (See Canadiana.ca, Landmark Papers, C-7094, image 4186). The item shows:
Vroman, Serjt., Niagara, Letter remaining in the Post-Office, Montreal, Quebec Gazette, 11 July, 1782. This would indicate that Adam's presence in Canada was not limited to the Niagara area and that, in early days at least, he was able to travel. We may note that Butler's Rangers was not disbanded until 24 June, 1784, so, probably, at the time 'Serjt. Vroman' was, supposedly, at Montreal, he would still have been on active service. If an image of the newspaper's page with it's list of unclaimed letters is found, it may be of interest to see who else from the Niagara area was mentioned.

When Adam Vrooman died in 1810, he died intestate. That is to say, he died without a will. Looking over land transactions in 1863 between Adam's son Solomon Secord Vrooman and his sons, a transaction was found (see microfilm GSU170181), grant nbr. 13746, entitled Deed of Confirmation, Solomon Vrooman to Albert Brown, recorded 25 August 1863 on the oath of Thomas G. Currie. The second page of the transaction, about a third the way down simply states that Adam Vrooman died intestate. The clerk's handwriting is difficult to read and the page suffers from toning, but it refers back to a transaction between Adam Vrooman and his brother Isaac Vrooman dated 7 April 1806.

If indeed Adam Vrooman did die without a will, then, even at such an early date as 1810, an application for Letters of Administration should have been made to settle his estate. That one has not been found is likely due to the burning of Niagara Town during the War of 1812. This is a guess, but, as will be seen by the notes for son Arents, Adam's property was probably divided by his family. Also see notes for his wife, Margaret Mattice.

We cannot conclude this very brief examination of the life of Adam Vrooman without discussing slavery in Upper Canada and, particularly, Adam Vrooman's part in it from early days.

We begin with the Crysler Family Fonds available at the Archives of Ontario (See MS10622 files F4421-2-0-24 & -39). The first is apparently a guarantee of indemnification regarding the sale of a slave, Tom, and dated 2 July 1783. It is signed by Adam 'Vroman' and John Mattice, or Mattise. Tom is said to have been the property of the late Isaac Vrooman of the County of Albany. How Adam Vrooman and John Mattice came to be involved is no way made clear.

The second item from this fonds is dated 25 August, 1792, and signed by Adam Vrooman alone and appears to be essentially a bill of sale for another slave, also named Tom. If this document indeed refers to Tom in the first document, it isn't at all apparent.

Beyond the above, we draw on four sources:
Slavery and Freedom in Niagara, by Michael Power and Nancy Butler, and published in 1993 by the Niagara Historical Society;
thecanadianencyclopaedia.ca/en/ , in particular their page entitled Chloe Cooley and the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada;
a PDF document entitled Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 14, issue 2, Article 6, 1923/Slave in Upper Canada/William Renwick Riddell (see especially images 6, 7 and 8 of this document);
and Library and Canada Archives microfilm C-2842 images 01092-01094 (Vol 514, U-V Bundle 1, petition 8) available from LAC's web site. This last document is in the form of a petition by Adam Vrooman to Governor Simcoe to exculpate his behaviour with regard to a woman slave and in which he claims ignorance of any laws of which he may be in violation.

It should be noted the the Power/Butler publication refers to Adam as William Vrooman. The 1923 Riddell document is particularly clarifying, but Adam's own words in his petition to Simcoe clearly identify him in relation to what he has done.

What follows is an abbreviated version of the story.

John Graves Simcoe was the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. His time in office was from 1791 to 1796. He was a man of evangelical Christian principals and on the subject of slavery very much an abolitionist. His attempts to abolish slavery outright were met by resistance from the Upper Canada council members and he finally settled for outlawing the purchase of slaves from outside the province or the transporting of slaves out of the province for sale. When the last enslaved person in Upper Canada was set free seems subject to some debate, though it was evidently well before slavery was abolished in the rest of the British Empire in 1834.

On March 14, 1793, Adam Vrooman bound and carried his slave, Chloe Cooley, over the Niagara River and sold her in New York State. There was an outcry and a complaint was lodged before Simcoe, which Adam then appealed to Simcoe in the form of a petition. He admits to his actions and then claims it was thereafter that he learned that an 'information' had been lodged against him to the Attorney General. He claims that he had no knowledge that his actions were illegal.

It is said that Simcoe used the Chloe Cooley incident to introduce a bill to abolish slavery in Upper Canada to the House of Assembly on 19 June 1793. This met with considerable opposition, and so he had to settle for the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada. This was passed on 9 July 1793.

Public outcry against Adam Vrooman notwithstanding, since any law had yet to be passed against slavery, it's difficult to see how Adam Vrooman was to be charged and it appears that the 'information' lodged against him was dropped.

(A note here. The Upper Canada House of Assembly had very limited powers. Upper Canada was indeed a colony of Great Britain, but the inner council of men, local residents all, who worked directly with the governor, was probably the power in the colony. One is left wondering if Adam's petition to Simcoe was really directed to the members of the council at least as much as to Simcoe himself.)

The four documents mentioned above relating to slavery in Upper Canada, it's ultimate termination, and Adam Vrooman's unwitting part in contributing to it's end, are all available on the internet and are interesting to read. The 1923 Riddell document's approach, if legalistic, is probably the most thoroughgoing and informative.

The original complaint is available to view. See heritage.canadiana.ca , Genealogy, page 4, Upper Canada Land Books. There are 41 reels, but the first reel, C-100, contains the 'information'. See image 947. Vrooman is spelled as Fromond, and at one point it almost appears as if the name 'Wm. Fromond' is intended. An examination of the handwriting makes the interpretation 'Mr. Fromond' as the more reasonable. It becomes clear, scanning the available pages, that not all matters presented dealt with land, and so the presence of the complaint in this venue is not innapropriate. Present at the council when the complaint was read, was Governor Simcoe; William Osgoode, the chief justice; and Peter Russell. The effect of the complaint against 'Fromond', described as a 'violent outrage', had the effect on Simcoe and councillors that they passed a resolution 'that it is necessary to take immediate steps to prevent the continuance of such violent breaches of the public peace, and for that purpose that His Majesty's Attorney General be forthwith directed to prosecute the said Fromond.'

The response of Adam Vrooman as it appears on microfilm C-2842, mentioned above, follows a form similar to a land petition, contents excepted, and has not been entered in the same book as the complaint, if it was entered at all. Rather, considering that no endorsements appear on the cover of Adam's petition, it appears, simply, to have been filed. Though direct evidence has not been found, as mentioned above it appears that any charges against Adam Vrooman were dropped. 

Children of Adam Vrooman and Margaret Mattice

Last Edited18 Dec 2018