The United Empire Loyalists of Canada - Bicentennial Branch (Southwestern Ontario)
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Branch President Margie Luffman introduced our guest speaker, James Mays, who gave a most interesting talk about Simon Girty, thought to be one of the most influential Loyalists of our area. Mr. Mays presented two sides to the story of Simon Girty.

Simon Girty was born in 1741 near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1756 his family was captured by a French-led Native War party in Pennsylvania. Simon was adopted by the Seneca Indians, living with them for eight years, then was repatriated in 1764. During the time he spent with the Seneca, Simon grew to appreciate the Indian culture.

Dissatisfied with American treatment of Native peoples, Girty fled to Detroit in 1778 and was employed by the British Indian Department as a negotiator, scout and military leader. Because of his influence with the Indians Girty was able to aid in the release of a number of captives during his lifetime. In the summer of 1784 he married Catherine Malott who had been living for several years as a captive of the Delaware tribe in Ohio. Catherine had the reputation of being the most beautiful woman in Detroit.

Following his marriage, Simon Girty settled near Amherstburg and for ten years continued to lead or encourage western Indians in their warfare with the Americans. Girty was exiled in 1812 when the Americans took control of Amherstburg but continued to reside there until his death. Described as "one of the most colourful and controversial settlers in the New Settlement," Girty died in 1818 and was buried on his homestead with military honours.

Mr. Mays explained that there were many stories both true and embellished of the life of Simon Girty. He left it up to us to decide which stories were believable. We were pleased to welcome Loyalist descendants of Simon Girty who joined us for this meeting.

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