Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal: November 1814

silohuette of Ada MaeAdeline’s War of 1812 Journal: November 1814

© 2012 Mollie Pearce McKibbon

A fictional journal of the War of 1812 as it might have been experienced by a young woman in Upper Canada near Ft.Wellington.  

Saturday, November 14, 1814

Dear Janetta,

Robert and his mother visited us to bring us our mail and so that Regina could see how my two sons are progressing.  Charlie and Andrew are making attempts to sit up now and are reaching out for anything within their view.  They both smile and coo at us and are good natured most of the time.  Charlie tends to be more adventuresome, but Andrew who is quite a mimic, seems to be watching whatever we say and trying to repeat it.  They both enjoy our walks and are growing so fast they will soon need new beds.  Father was thinking of constructing a trundle bed  with a bit of a railing and has begun to look for some nice maple from which to construct it. 

There was a rather unpleasant surprise in our mail.  Charles’ father had written another letter to me personally.  It acknowledged my exoneration in the death of my husband, but offered no apology.  This is the rest of what he wrote:

“My son, Charles’ brother, Everett, informed me that you have two children whom you claim to be Charles’ progeny.  If they are indeed his, I would naturally wish to see them and feel an obligation to provide them with a proper upbringing here in England.  Please be advised that this is not an opportunity for you to make any claim of inheritance for them, or a pension for yourself.  I would simply give them a home, healthy food and a good education so that they might find employment in the army or in the clergy and acquit themselves as any honourable Houghton sons would.  You may think on this subject until the spring, at which time my daughter Persephone will travel to Canada to fetch them.”

Well, you might guess my reply.  No one will take my sons from me.  No one. 

With passionate determination,

Adeline

Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal : September 1814

Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal : September 1814

©2012 by Mollie Pearce McKibbonsilohuette of Ada Mae

A fictional account of a young woman’s experiences in Upper Canada during the war of 1812.


Saturday, Sept. 4, 1814

Thistledown Farm

Dear Janetta,

Our little cold cellar is so full of vegetables now, I doubt I could hide even one child in there.  It has been an extraordinary year for root vegetables and mother is exhausted from making jams and pickled vegetables.  Evvy and I are tired of picking them.  Father and William have been busy bringing in the grain harvest and our corn crib is well filled. 

There has been no sign of Bourke thank goodness, but Father has set Henry on guard whenever Mother and Evvy have to help in the fields.  White Wolf followed Bourke’s tracks to the place where Bourke and the O’Meara’s crossed over to Ogdensburg  so he has eluded capture once again by crossing the river. 

With exasperation,

Adeline

Sept. 18, 1814

Dear Janetta,

Father and I were summoned to Fort Wellington yesterday and so I went with my babes bundled up.  I didn’t know what to expect as we were led to believe that the message engraved on the cabin door had exonerated me from all suspicion in the death of Charles.  The fort is still under construction so there was the constant sounds of sawing and hammering while we were there.  There is also great preparation for winter going on and many of the men who live outside the stockade have been making their shacks more winter-proof as they know now how cold a Canadian winter can be.  The woodpile is stacked high within the stockade and army wives are keeping busy knitting warm socks, hats and mitts for the men as I have for my boys.

While at the fort, I received a most alarming shock.  At first I heard his voice and turned my head to see a slightly shorter version of my dear Charles.  He was standing by the window of the commander’s office talking to some of the soldiers outside and his voice was eerily like his brother’s.  They were discussing a recent report of the activities of Major-General Ross and Rear-Admiral Cockburn who had taken a small force and attacked a much larger American force which they defeated.  Evidently, Charles‘ older brother, whom I deduced this almost double was, had been in the force that had taken Washington and burned several buildings there, one of which was the presidential residence. 

“It was quite astonishing, really,” I heard him say, “the table was all set for a diplomatic banquet and so we felt quite touched that Mrs. Dolly Madison had prepared such a pleasant feast for our enjoyment.” 

The men outside guffawed quite heartily at the thought of the invading army sitting down to dinner before burning the place. 

“Sadly, we were unable to thank our hostess,” he added, “ as she had fled the premises.”

I confess at that moment I greatly sympathized with Mrs. Madison. I too had lost my home and all my possessions to a fire started by my enemy.

There was more genial laughter and at that point the commanding officer entered the room. 

Father had pulled up a chair for me and I sat there with Charlie in my arms.  Father was holding Andrew and rocking a bit on his feet. 

The Lt. Colonel cleared his throat and the Captain straightened his uniform and saluted.  At that point he suddenly seemed to notice me.  I must admit, I was staring at him.  He looked so much like his brother, although his hair was brown and his mustache was thicker. 

The fort’s commander addressed us. 

“Widow Houghton and Lt. Price, thank you for coming today.  I wanted to inform you of the state of affairs concerning the death of  Sgt. Houghton.”   He turned to Captain Houghton and made the polite introductions.  Captain Houghton made a curt bow.

“I have here a letter for your father, Captain, in which I have included a fair copy of Constable Breton’s report in which he completely exonerates Mrs. Houghton of any part in her husband’s murder.  Constable Breton is presently following other lines of inquiry.”

“Lt. General Pearson, I appreciate your attention to this matter,” declared Captain Houghton, “ but having read the report myself, 

I rather doubt that my father will be satisfied with the constable’s conclusions.  Some scratchings on a door and a home that has conveniently burned to the ground is hardly proof of innocence.  I would think it is, rather, a feeble attempt concocted to avert suspicion from the true culprit.”

I began to open my mouth when my father leapt to my defence.

“Excuse me Captain,” he said thrusting Andrew into my arms and stepping forward to face Captain Houghton, “are you implying that somehow we set fire to my daughter’s home to convince the constable of her innocence?”

“I am simply stating, sir, that I did not find the report credible.  I do not believe every effort has been made to apprehend Charles’ murderer and I do not believe my father will be any more persuaded than I.”

“ My daughter, Captain Houghton, has been deprived of a husband and a father for her children.  She has been deprived of her home and of any income.  She has made no demands of Charles’ family, other than the respect due her position as his widow.  Her mother and I are now her sole support.  If you dare to think that we have had any part in this tragic situation you lack the intelligence that a gentleman of your education and background should have.”

The captain began to protest and my father interrupted him.

“Thank you for your report, Lt. General Pearson.  My daughter and I will be leaving now and we wish no further communication from the Houghton family of any sort. Good-day.”

And so we left Ft. Wellington, without the intended visit to see Col. Jessup.  Father was too angry to speak as he drove our cart home but he squeezed my hand tightly as we drove back through the dusk.  My heart was pounding and my throat hurt from holding back the tears.

Sadly,

Adeline

Adeline’s Journal: Summer 1813

regency_dance_bwAdeline’s Journal: A Fictional Account of a Young Woman’s Life During the War of 1812

© Mollie Pearce McKibbon

Thistledown Farm         Sunday, July 4, 1813

Dear Janetta, 

Thank goodness for Sabbath.  I am so fatigued today, my back hurts and my feet ache. 

Father has fully recovered from his wound and is therefore now back at the fort, so the hay cutting has all been left to Henry, Mother, Evvy and me.

Elizabeth and William have been back at their farm since June, when William returned wounded from the attack on Sackett’s Harbour.   Henry goes to their farm when he can, which hasn’t been too often, given the extra work we have here now.  

William has been unable to work the land, so our crops are even more important as we will be sharing them.  Providentially, we will probably have a double crop of hay this year, but it is good that Elizabeth has been able to put in a vegetable garden.  

Of course, everybody has been faced with the same difficulties because of the war with the Americans.  We are fortunate not to have lost family members, as some others have, not just to wounds but to grave illnesses.  Arthur Randall had to return home from duty very ill with fever.  He was thankfully, nursed back to health by his mother, but many others were not as blessed. Charles wrote me to say that two of his good friends in the troop died from dysentery and another is sick with mumps.  Of course, the air at the barracks is often fetid in the heat.  It must be unhealthy. 

I am very relieved to know that Father and Charles have been mostly out on patrol along the St. Lawrence in the fresh air.  Charles has a good friend in the Algonquian tribe, White Wolf who patrols with him.  White Wolf ‘s family and tribe have not had these illnesses, but Charles once told me that measles have been known to be deadly in the past.  It is very hard for little children, like our dear late Virginia, to fight off disease. Mother continues to mourn her passing every spring and no doubt every day.  

My goodness, I am becoming most melancholy. On a cheerier note, Mr. Randall came by with Robert this morning to deliver a letter to mother from father and one to me from Charles.  Charles has informed me that Father and he have spoken and Father now approves of our friendship. I am so happy that this is so.  I am very fond of Charles and do enjoy every opportunity that we have together and every letter he sends me.

I was pleased to be able to talk to Robert and thank him for rescuing me from the battle in Ogdensburg.  He insisted that it was what any soldier would have done for another, but I think he was being most modest.  He said that he wasn’t sure who I was until he saw my strawberry blond braids.  That was his description, Janetta.  I’ve only ever thought of my hair as too dark to be blond and too pale to be auburn.  I still wish my hair was black and curly like your’s.  Ah well, I will simply have to put my hair up in rags each night forever to have any kind of ringlets.  Evvy says I should use a curling iron, but frankly I don’t trust myself not to burn the hair off my head.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, Robert’s drawings.  He is quite an artist, you know.  He was working away on a drawing this morning while he and his father waited for Mother to write a reply to Father’s letter.  At first, he didn’t want me to see it, but I wheedled away at him until he showed it to me.  It was the most exquisite drawing of a little chipmunk that lives in our woodpile.  He said that I might keep it and so now it sits here on our desk.  I will have to find some way to display it properly.

Always yours,

Adeline

Sunday, July 24,1813

 

Dear Janetta,

I am so happy I could burst!  Today we had an unexpected visitor – Charles, himself.  He had received special permission to call upon us with a big surprise.  He has been given the rank of Sergeant and a pay raise comes with it.  So now he is Sergeant Charles Houghton.  

Charles arrived while I was in the henhouse and Evvy called me to come to the house.  I must have looked quite a sight with my hair covered in hen feathers and straw, a grapevine basket over my arm filled with  dirty eggs.  I didn’t see Charles at first, as he had taken off his red jacket and was standing in the shadow of the little stone porch Father had made.  I almost dropped the basket of eggs when he swooped me up in an embrace.  I’m sure that I turned as red as his jacket.

“Charles!” I cried,”Everyone must be watching.”

“Oh, Adeline, I didn’t mean to startle you,” Charles stammered. “I am just so happy to see you, Sweetheart!”

Sweetheart?  My head was buzzing with delighted confusion and my heart thudding like the fort drum.  Had Charles just called me Sweetheart in front of my family who were surely within earshot?

Charles took the grapevine basket off my arm and set it down carefully and took both my filthy hands in his.  His eyes, when I dared to look up, were shining and on his face was a tender, but tentative smile.  

“Will you walk with me awhile, Adeline?”

“I really should wash and change, Charles, “ I pleaded.  “I ‘m not fit to be seen.”

“ If you do not come with me just as you are, I shall surely die on the spot from anxiety.”

Mutely, I allowed Charles to hand in the basket of eggs to Evvy who was having a very hard time trying not to giggle.

We walked over to the well where there is a bench and I insisted on washing my hands.  Before I could adequately dry them on my apron, Charles captured them again.  He sat me down on the bench and then began to pace.  My heart was thundering so hard in my chest, I was trembling.  

“ I have thought over what I should say to you, a thousand times,” Charles said quietly, “but I can’t remember anything but this- I love you desperately, Adeline Price, and with your parent’s permission…”

Charles knelt on both knees before me.

“With your parent’s permission,” he repeated, “ I am putting my heart and future into your hands.  Will you honour me by becoming my wife?”

Janetta, I truly thought my heart had stopped.  I must have been in shock, because suddenly Charles squeezed my hands and said, in the most boyish voice, “You can take your time to answer, Adeline.  I don’t expect…”

I didn’t allow the dear man to finish, Janetta.  I leaned in to him and kissed him and answered, “ Certainly, I will marry you, Charles.  I can’t imagine a life with any other.”

At this point, Mother, Henry, and Evvy who had been watching from the porch, rushed over to embrace us both and celebrate our betrothal.

I still cannot believe it, Janetta, but at the end of August, I will marry Sergeant Charles Houghton and  begin the rest of my life.

Happily,

Adeline

Monday, August 9,   1813

 

Dear Janetta, 

This summer is going by so swiftly, that I have had barely time to think.  We are pickling beans as soon as we pick them and what we don’t pickle we dry.  Charles and I haven’t seen each other since he proposed, but we keep in touch with letters back and forth.  We have decided to be married quietly with no celebration, because of the instability of wartime.  Father and Mother would prefer us to wait until after the conflict is resolved, but Charles and I don’t want a long betrothal.  We have received permission from Lt. Colonel MacDonell to be married. It will be at the blue church with only my family and Charles’ best friend, John, as witnesses.  Afterward, we will travel back to Thistledown Farm for a family dinner and then Charles and I will spend a night at William and Elizabeth’s cabin alone.  

We can not live at the unfinished fort barracks so Father is giving us a piece of property  close to Johnstown as a wedding gift.  Our cabin will  be built there by Father, Henry, Charles, and the Randalls whenever they have an opportunity.  I expect I will have to live at home for a while as the cabin is not likely to be finished by autumn.  It would be wonderful to think that there will be no further attacks from our southern neighbours, but it isn’t likely so I expect there will be little time for building. 

I have visited the property with Mr. Randall so that I could choose a pretty aspect for our home and show him where I would like the hen house and pig sty to be.  We will have five acres, partly treed and three acres of rolling meadow.  There is a creek running through it and a small blueberry bog.  We won’t have a barn right away, but Mr. Randall has promised me a lean-to stable for our horse and space for a cow.  Now I am glad that I spent time making linens and a quilt for our bed.  Mother has promised us  ticks and mattress.  Evvy and I are gathering down for the ticks.  The kitchen will take more time, as we need an iron kettle, spoons and bread pans, not to forget crockery and utensils.

I despaired of a wedding dress, until Mother promised that she would makeover her maroon silk gown, and she thinks there is enough material for her to make a short cape as well.

With much excitement,

Adeline

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