Adeline’s Journal is a fictional account of a young woman’s experiences during the War of !812 in Upper Canada.
Sunday, April 17, 1813 My 17th Birthday
Dear Janetta, Today I turned 17. Mother and Father gave me a present of my great-grandmother’s dresser set. It is the loveliest set I have ever seen. It is silver with mother-of-pearl inserts in the mirror back and the brush. I have put it in my chest with my household linens which I am slowing adding to. I wish I were more adept at sewing like my sister, Evvy. She gave me a present of two pillow cases embroidered with violets. Henry gave me a new quill pen he had made. Elizabeth and William gave me some lovely lavender-filled silk pouches to put amongst my clothing.
My favourite gift of all was from Charles. He came to visit me and presented me with a dainty silver locket engraved with my initials, A. P. He wasn’t able to stay very long as he is on sentry duty tonight, but he squeezed my hand and kissed my cheek when we were alone at the door before he left.
May 12, 1813
Dear Janetta, Apart from a light dusting of snow at the beginning of this month, May has been lovely. The yard in front of our home is full of yellow wild flowers and there are lovely violets and trilliums under the apple trees. The apple trees themselves are full of blossoms and busy with bees. Mother says we should have a bumper crop of mackintosh apples this year.
I will resume the story of my kidnapping as the house is now quiet and I have finished writing my letter to Grandmother Price. Goodness knows if she shall ever receive it with the way the Americans are watching the St. Lawrence river traffic. Our “friends” in Ogdensburgh have been complaining about how their army being nearby is more of a threat to them than protection. Most of the troops have moved elsewhere. Some to Sacketts Harbour.
To renew my tale of woe: I woke up on the American side of the river in the wee hours of the morning after a fitful slumber full of terrifying dreams. I wondered just how I could manage an escape. The snow was piling up around the cabin and a fierce cold wind was blowing. Harry’s wife was up already cooking eggs and bacon for the company. Just as I was about to explain to her who I really was and why I was bound, in came Darnell and Seamus, stamping the snow off their boots and brushing off their coats.
“I need to use the privy,” I told Seamus and so he brought me my father’s coat and escorted me outside to the lean-to behind the cabin. I considered making a run for it , but realized that I could get more than lost in the blowing snow. Besides, where would I run?
Later, I struggled to get my breakfast down. Harry’s wife was a good cook but , in my agitation I had no appetite. I knew that I would need strength for whatever lay ahead of me, so I made myself swallow it all down.
The storm had abated after breakfast, so it was decided that we would excuse ourselves from the hospitality of Harry and his wife and continue on to Ogdensburgh. There we would meet up with Bourke. Darnell sat me up on Bourke’s horse, who seemed none the worse for the swim we had had the night before. Bourke had evidently taken Darnell’s horse the night before. Darnell and Seamus led the horses out to the main road where they mounted and we rode on towards Ogdensburgh. Once again I was forced to endure strange arms around me. It was slow going through the drifts. Every now and then Darnell or Seamus was forced to dismount and coax the horses through the deeper snow. Mostly we rode in silence, Darnell or Seamus only remarking only remarking to each other when they spotted game streaking through the forest on either side of the trail. I was very uncomfortable and very distressed, but determined not to show it. I told myself that William and my father, perhaps even Charles, would be searching for me and soon I would be rescued. I told myself that, but little believed it. How heartened I would have been to know that our brave soldiers were at that very moment planning to raid Ogdensburgh. It was not on my behalf, to be sure, but in retribution for all the raids that Forsyth and his rifles had made on our side to the river.
The O’Mearas had taken the gag off me, but I was still bound. After a long slogging ride we arrived in Ogdensburgh. It is a large settlement with many stone and brick buildings and a well-established port. I saw the large stone building that housed Mr. Parrish’s store where Father and I had bought dry goods for Mother and a pair of boots for Henry just last year.
Across the St. Lawrence River I could see the fortifications of Fort Wellington and the few little homes that had grown up around it as the town of Prescott. My heart swelled with longing for home. I almost cried out and would have, but for a quick jab in the ribs from Darnell.
“Don’t go making a fuss, you hear Missy,” he hissed in my ear. I just nodded. We rode through the town to Fort La Presentation which was being repaired and reconstructed. Bourke, whom I soon learned was Cpl. Bourke of Forsyth’s Rifles, met us at the gate and escorted us into Major Forsyth’s office. It could hardly be called an office, as it consisted of a camp cot, plain deal table, a chair and a rough hewn bench. I was ordered to sit on the bench.
Major Forsyth (I assumed) was sitting behind the desk, looking over some maps. His eyes reminded me of those of a fox, darting from the maps to myself and then to my three kidnappers.
“Who is this lad and why is he here?” he demanded.
“Tis the complication I spoke of, sir. Tis a girl in fact we caught aspyin’ on us. We had no choice but ta bring her.”
“You’ve answered only part of my question , Bourke. Her name is?”
At this point, I stood up and answered for myself. I was not afraid of this impudent soldier. “My name is Miss Adeline Price and I was kidnapped yesterday from my brother’s farm in Upper Canada. I demand to be returned to my own country at once!”
My heart was thundering in my chest and I could hear my voice trembling, but I did not cry. The man behind the table stared at me coldly, and instructed Darnell O’Meara to remove me from his office immediately and keep me under control. Darnell approached me to do that but I pulled away from him and marched to Major Forsyth’s desk.
“I demand to see the civil authorities and to be retuned to my home right away! You have no right to hold me against my will.”
“I have every right to hold you. You have been accused of spying, Mr. O’Meara carry out my order!”
Darnell grabbed at my arms, but instead I stood up straighter and stalked into the hallway. How could I be a spy when I was simply trying to protect my brother’s property. The whole situation was a nightmare.
Shortly, Bourke and Seamus O’Meara emerged from Fortsyth’s office looking grim.
“Well, what are we to do with her?”asked Darnell while he yanked me rudely to my feet.
“We’re to take her to Sheriff York for now,” replied Seamus, “at least until the magistrate can sentence her.”
“I’m not a criminal,” I protested. “I am a kidnap victim and you will all have to answer for whatever happens to me. My father and brother will see to it.”
Without regard to my protests, I was taken to the Sheriff York. He was dismayed to discover that I, a young Canadian woman, was to be held in custody. He stated that it was not his job to hold military prisoners, especially a young woman, in his lock-up. He had other security matters on his mind. Instead he sent me with a deputy to the next-door neighbour’s home where he knew I could be provided with a bed and some meals. I was to stay with a Widow Fenton who ran a boarding house.
I knew from the moment I stepped inside her home, that Widow Fenton did not appreciate my presence. I was given a chilly attic room and just one blanket. Her meals were adequate, but not tasty. They consisted mainly of some kind of stew to which she added ingredients daily. I spent my first night in her home shivering and crying myself to sleep.
I must stop writing now as Mother has begun preparing dinner and she needs my help. I’m trying to improve my culinary skills, but my best efforts seem to be boiling the kettle and setting a pleasant table.
I do hope I receive another letter from you, Janetta. I wonder if you have married.
Post Script: Mr. Randall has delivered a letter to me from Charles. He wrote that he have recovered from a bout of influenza that has laid many soldiers low. That is one of the worst problems of barracks life – so many illnesses get passed around. Adeline.