The Best Family is on my Dad's side of the family. My 2X Great Grandmother is Nellie Best and she was born in Canada. Her father was John Landon Best. This was really all that I knew as I began my research.
I came across John's father's name, Conrad Best, when I found John's death certificate in the seekingmichigan.org death record database. It was the death record which lead me to look in Canada for Conrad Best and found the family in Bayham Township, Elgin County, Ontario. I was able to locate a Best Cemetery in Canada online and sure enough, John's family is buried there. I was rather excited by this find in 2013.
The Cemetery is located in Corinth, Elgin County, Ontario. My records and research indicated that John's father, Conrad was born in Germany in 1799.
During the Revolutionary War the, the Governor of Quebec was a man named Fredrick Haldimand. He created a massive amount of correspondences and records while reporting back to officials in England about Canada. These papers are called the Haldimand Papers. They are currently held by the British Museum. They were transcribe, eventually filmed and now those films are available in a digital database.
My cousin Lorraine's blog explained that these records are now available and how to view them. While looking through these records I was surprised to see Conrad Best in the index. What I knew of my Conrad Best was that he was born in Germany in 1799 so he must have arrived in Canada sometime after the year of his birth. If this is true, than he is likely not related to this Conrad Best but could there have been a mistake in the data. Could Conrad have been born in Canada of German descent in 1799. In my years of research I have learned to take a close look at records that seem similar especially with naming patterns. I have found many errors or misrepresentations in Census records. So I kept looking at the records.
In the Haldimand Papers, I found a Conrad Best and his brother, Hermanus Best who both resided in the Albany, New York area at the time of the Revolutionary War. They arrived in the colonies with their father, Jacob Best. They were Loyalist meaning that they preferred to remain loyal to the British crown. During my research of my Germany heritage, I discovered that towards the end of the 17th and into the 18th century, the wealthy Rhine region of Germany known as Palatine was repeatedly invaded by French troops, which resulted in continuous military requisitions, widespread devastation and famine.
The first mass migration of people from this area began in 1708. The British Monarchy under Queen Anne's had sympathy for the Protestant Germans and had invited them to go to the colonies and work in trade for passage. Official correspondence in British records shows a combined total of 13,146 refugees traveled down the Rhine and or from Amsterdam to England in the summer of 1709.
Some of my early German ancestors were apart of this exodus from Germany which continued for 50 years or more. I will need to search thru the passenger lists to see if I can find Jacob Best so I can figure out when this Best family arrived in the colonies. Now fast forward to the time of the Revolutionary War and many of these families still feel a great sense of gratitude to the British Crown for giving them a opportunity to start over in the colonies. Being loyal to the crown at the time of the Revolutionary war was a dangerous stance to take. Most Loyalist lost all their land, homes, business and/or personal property. It was taken from them by the patriots and/or local Militia. The families of Jacob, Conrad and Hermanus Best left New York after their properties were confiscated and fled to Canada.
In the Haldimand Papers, there are several pages which have the names of Conrad and Hermanus Best are listed as Loyalist and Rangers in the British Militia in Upper Canada. Many of the documents are lists of Canadian settlers who were loyal to the crown. These documents serve as early census records which state who the Head of the household was, where the family lived, sometimes how many people in the household and what the occupation of the head of household was and that they were loyal to the Crown.
Military Petitions listings show that Conrad and Hermanus joined forces with the British Militia in 1777 under Captain Robert Leake.