Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal: April & May 1814

Saturday, April 16, 1814

Thistledown Farmsilohuette of Ada Mae

Dear Janetta,

Arthur and Kathleen stopped by today to bring me the contents of Charles’ army chest so that I may choose something to keep for our little one.

There wasn’t much to show for a soldier’s life – just some military clothing,a set of draughts,  some letters, a Bible, a small painting of his sister,  a pewter cup with his initials, a tortoise shell brush and comb, a clothes brush, his pocket watch, and some fine linen handkerchiefs with his initials.  I decided to just take one of the initialed handkerchiefs.  I would dearly love to keep the pewter cup or his pocket watch, but that is something his father is surely expecting to be returned.  I did go through the stack of letters.  My letters to him were all tied with one of my hair ribbons that he managed to wheedle from my possession when we first began to correspond.  I kept those and put everything else back in the satchel in which they were delivered. 

Arthur went off to find my father and left Kathleen to chat with me.  It was awkward.  She is terribly shy and everything I asked her she answered in monosyllables.  I did gather that her father was hoping her child would be a boy and that he wanted to name the baby after his father, Zebulon.  I asked her what name she preferred and all she said was that Arthur wanted the child named after his grandfather, Nicholas.  I asked if she liked either name.  She just shrugged.

Kathleen looks frail, drawn and extremely frightened of the whole experience. I do not think Arthur ought to have taken her out in the sleigh.  Yes, Janetta, we still have snow.  We had another thick coat of it yesterday, but I’m sure that this is Mother Nature’s final flurry.  I wouldn’t mind if it kept snowing.  Constable Breton will be coming to interrogate me as soon as the roads firm up. If I was truly writing to you I would ask you to pray for me, but some things I just cannot bear you to know.

Adeline

1812wkdr

Monday, April 26, 1814

Thistledown Farm

Dear Janetta,

Evvy has a suitor. His name is Hector Hamish Hamilton, if you can imagine that!Robert and Hector came by to visit today, under the pretense of visiting Father.  Robert spent a few moments with me in the sitting room by the fire, while Father took Hector out to see the new foal and Evvy prepared some refreshments.  Robert apologized for imposing which I naturally waved off, but he informed me quietly, that Evvy had evidently made quite an impression on his friend, Mr. Hamilton, who had entreated most pitifully to be taken to visit such a pleasant spoken and sweet-faced girl.  Evvy later confided to me that she thought Hector most entertaining, but beyond that she wasn’t persuaded that he was husband material. As she is only turning fifteen this summer, it is unlikely Mr. Hamilton, the clerk of the Forwarders will be the only suitor for her. 

Mr. Hamilton, being in the Forwarding trade, had some very interesting information about the British naval blockade of the coast of America.  It is causing much distress for the American government which has a big stake in funds it receives from taxing the shipping of goods.  Although our boats are still being harassed by Americans on the St. Lawrence, most of our goods are able to get through.  The biggest problem now is that the Americans occupy Fort York and have done since July last year.  If only the war in Europe were over, perhaps with reinforcements we might prevail.

With hope,

            Adeline

Monday, May 16, 1814.

Dear Janetta,

My hand is shaking as I am writing this.  Janetta, I have been done a monstrous wrong.  I don’t even know where to start, but I must think… It is a true nightmare!

Robert, his mother and father drove over in the wagon on Saturday with the constable from Johnstown.  He asked me some questions about Charles and then we drove to Blueberry Creek.  As we approached the cabin, we could smell smoke and Robert said that Arthur had likely begun a fire to take the chill off the cabin.  Arthur and his wife have been looking after it from time to time. 

As we drove through the deep woods trail and into the clearing Charles and William had prepared, we were dumbfounded by the sight of the destruction.  Our cosy cabin was no more.  All that remained of our dear little home were ashes and half burned logs and the chimney.  There was nothing left of the linens I so carefully stitched, the china we had procured, the table that Charlie had made for us or the bed.  The lean-to was smoldering.  Robert and his father jumped down from the wagon and went over to examine the smoking remains.  Constable Ike Breton, got out of the wagon and went to stand next to the two Randalls. 

“This is most unfortunate,” the constable stated.  I was bewildered and began to stutter.  “But Arthur has been watching the property.  How did this happen?”

Robert turned and came back to the wagon. He put his hand gently over mine and said,  “Perhaps it was a lightning strike.  Don’t get down, Adeline.  There isn’t anything here now.  We should get you back home.  This is a terrible shock for you.”

Ike Breton was poking about in the ashes and he walked around the perimeter carefully searching.   Suddenly, he called Mr. 

Randall over to something he spotted leaning up against a pine.

“What is it?” called Robert.

“The door to the cabin with it’s hinges still attached,” answered Mr. Randall.  “There is something scratched in the wood.”

Robert helped me down from the wagon and we both went over to look at the charred wooden door.  There scratched deeply into the wood in crude letters were the words : “Yer man, yer home, yer next.”

“I don’t understand, “ I whispered.  “What does it mean?”

Robert and the other two men looked at me gravely. 

“I think it’s a threat,” answered the constable.

“We’ve got to get you back to your parents,” said Robert grabbing my arm.  You are in danger?”

“But, I don’t understand,” I repeated.  Rrobert hustled me into the wagon and jumped up himself.  The two other men followed suit.  Constable Breton spoke to me earnestly. “

“ Widow Houghton, I believe this clears your name.  Whoever burned your cabin also killed your husband.  He has now threatened your life too.  You are in grave danger until we capture this brigand.”

It was then that I began to shiver.  Mr. Randall put the warm firm wrap around me. 

“Never mind, Adeline.  I promise you that we will find Charles’ murderer.” Robert said.  “I found a piece of green serge with a brass button when White Wolf and I went searching the first time.  I’m sure it’s an American uniform button. We will turn this country topsy turvy searching I promise you.  He won’t get away with it.”

I think that is the longest speech I have ever heard from Robert’s lips and it gave me comfort.

So dear friend, I have an enemy, a very dangerous enemy and I admit to being very frightened.  Father and Henry keep a weapon at hand and mother won’t let me venture past the well. 

Anxiously,

Adeline.

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