Top of Box inscribed:
A Present To Mahala,
Scott From her Father while
Confined in Toronto Gaol for
High treason July the sixth,
Ends Inscribed: Liberty and Equal Rights
Box carved by: Asahel Hawley Scott, labourer
Asahel (or Ashael or Hasel) Scott was charged December 15, 1837, one of four Scotts charged from the Home District and the only one still imprisoned at the time of his pardon for good behaviour on July 13, 1838. The box was given to his daughter, Mahala.
To see and read more about the 1837 Rebellion Boxes, please check here.
Download December 2008 issue of the OHS Bulletin for more information on Rebellion Boxes (page 4)
OHS Bulletin Summer 2010 Rebellion-era Prison Boxes
A Piece of Pickering’s Past Comes Home
Giving Pickering Museum Village volunteers liberty to explore the past, in their own way has brought honour to the museum in an unexpected way. The museum has always been very proud of its volunteer programme,
and with over 300 volunteers and 10 specialized volunteer clubs, including the Pickering
Museum Village Woodwrights’ Guild, it has many reasons to be prideful. But it is the passion and enthusiasm of one volunteer in particular that has lead to the recent acquisition of Rebellion of 1837 Prisoner’s Box.
When Darryl Withrow, a member of the PMV Woodwrights’ Guild approached Katrina
Pyke, now the Coordinator, Museum Operations, about a small project in wood that could be his own, little did either of them know it would lead so far and wide, and would bring a significant piece of Pickering’s past back home.
The project Pyke suggested was a replica prisoner's box. Despite the number of
Pickering men jailed for participating in the Rebellion of 1837, and the hundreds of
trinket boxes carved by those prisoners while incarcerated at the Toronto Jail, the
Pickering Museum Village has none in its artifact collection. The boxes reside in other
museums and private collections. Pyke wanted to be able to share this piece of
material culture with the many Grade 7 and 8 students who visit the museum annually to learn about the ill-fated Rebellion and its results. Pyke got her replica box, and so
Withrow, a skilled woodworker, set out to find just the right box to replicate. His search connected him with Chris Raible, Ontario author of several books on William Lyon
Mackenzie and the Rebellion of 1837. Raible himself had undertaken to present an
exhibit of a collection of prisoner’s boxes he had tracked down from museums and
descendants. Withrow’s research took him to museums as far north as Simcoe County,
as far west as Lambton County, and as far east as Quebec. At each location, he
painstakingly photographed each box, measured it and took notes so that he could
make a replica as true to the original as possible.
Withrow has now replicated over a dozen of these boxes, of wood matching the
originals and complete with silk screening of the actual text carved on the tops and
sides. Those words still echo the beliefs of the men who took up arms against the
colonial government of the time: words like “liberty” and “equal rights”. Withrow gave the museum the requested replica of box in the fall of 2009, and it was immediately pressed into school program service. The rest of the boxes travel with him on speaking engagements he shares with Chris Raible and Dr. John Carter of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. The three men collaborated on a book about these precious pieces of rebellion past, entitled From Hands Now Striving to Be Free: Boxes Crafted by 1837 Rebellion Prisoners.
Withrow’s work with the two historians, to compile and continue to build an inventory of the prisoner’s boxes continues, and is the reason for Pickering Museum Village’s recent acquisition.
On February 23, Ron Van Horne, Chief Administrative Officer of Lambton County,
formally donated a box carved by Asahel Hawley Scott to the Pickering Museum
Village. A collector, Van Horne purchased the box several years ago, and has been
looking for the right museum to house it. Dr. Carter facilitated the donation, deeming that Scott’s ties to Pickering Township meant that Pickering Museum Village is the most appropriate museum to accept it.
“We thank Mr. Van Horne for donating Asahel Scott’s box for our community’s benefit, and we are proud to showcase this piece of history at the Steam-Up event,” said Mayor Dave Ryan. “Heritage matters. This very special carving is a link to Pickering’s storied past and will be treasured by future generations to come.”
"As the City of Pickering prepares to celebrate its 200th anniversary, the spirits of the Rebellion of 1837 rise up once again", said Councillor Bill Mclean. "The courage of
Pickering's ancestors symbolized by carvings on this treasured box crafted while in
captivity tells the story of Pickering’s illustrious place in the formation of our Canada." To celebrate the acquisition of Scott’s box, staff at Pickering Museum Village are developing an exhibit, with financial assistance of the PMV Foundation to tell the story of Pickering's involvement in the Rebellion of 1837. The jewel in the crown of this exhibit will be Asahel Scott's box. The exhibit will open May 30, 2010 at the Steam-Up event.
The museum village would greatly appreciate any information from the public on the
Asahel H. Scott family. By 1846, the Scott family had emmigrated to the United States.
Readers are encouraged to contact Katrina Pyke at 905.683.8401 or
firstname.lastname@example.org with information.
Geneological research by PMV volunteers and staff reveals that Asahel Hawley Scott (b. 1809, NY, USA, died 1838 ON. Canada) was the son of Asahel (b. 1778 NY USA) and Lydia (surname and dates unknown at this time). He had an older brother Colin (born 1807 NY, USA), and two younger sisters, Jemima (b. 1811 NY, USA, and Electra A. (b. 1812, NY USA)
In the 1828 militia rolls for 3 Company of the 2nd Reg’t East York Militia, the following Scotts appear with the following spelling:
Ashael Scott, age 50; Ashael H. Scott, age 21, Colin C. Scott, age 23, Ephrom Scott, age 46 (“Lame”), James Scott, age 42
(“Lame: body ruptured for years past”).
From that reference we conclude the following: they were in Upper Canada by 1828; misspelled work ruptured indicates that the names are also misspelled – very common in those days; and this is definitely our Asahel, his brother and his father. It is speculated that Ephrom and James could be the senior Asahel’s brothers as the ages fit.
Pickering Township records have revealed the following:
- Ephraim Scott registered his branding mark on April 14, 1829 with the Township.
- Asahel Scott registered his branding mark on May 7, 1829 with the Township.
- We assume this is the senior Asahel, as the son would be just 20 years, and likely living with his parents still, helping them on the farm.
- We now conclude that it is very likely that Ephraim and Asahel (sr.) were brothers.
Minutes of the 1831 Township meeting reveal the following:
- Asahel (again, likely the sr) was elected a Highway Overseer, among several other known names of the time, and was in charge of “the side road between Nos. 18 & 19 from the Centre of the 7th Concession to the Town Line and the 8th & 9th Concession from No. 17 to 22”.
Asahel Scott purchased Lot 13, Conc. 9 from Wixon in 1837. He sold it back to Wixson in 1846 (copy of land title at Ontario Archives). It is assumed this is again the senior Asahel, but cannot say for certain. Certainly the younger man couldn't have sold back the land since he had died in 1838.
Asahel Hawley Scott, labourer, was listed among the convicts "pardoned on condition of giving Security to Keep the Peace, and be of Good Behaviour for Three Years:. (taken from the Copies of Extracts of Correspondence Relative to the Affairs of the British North America (Presented by her Majesty’s Command). 11 February, 1838 – Extract 38 submitted by Lt. Gov. Sir George Arthur on 18 Dec. 1838). This document is a direct copy of the original type set book.
In a book published in 2000 on the State Trials of the Canadas, he is listed as Asahel Hawley Scott.
We have found Asahel (Sr.) and his wife Lydia in the 1851 census in Northumberland County, further east.
So, in all of our research to date, the name of father and son appears as Asahel or incorrectly spelled as Ashael. Staff has yet to come across a primary source that shows the name as Hasel. Doesn’t mean it isn’t out there – we are only just beginning to scratch the surface.