Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal: Conclusion (part One)

© 2012 Mollie Pearce McKibbon

medicine bottles

An entry from Evvy Price’s journal:

Sunday, August 6, 1815

Our lives have been so much fraught with fear and anxiety these last few weeks I hardly know quite where to begin.  Adeline has been truly at death’s door during this time.  Her condition has gone back and forth between raging fever and shivering cold. William rode to Fort Wellington to fetch the army doctor, but he was unable to come, being quite busy treating an outbreak of dysentery.  However, he suggested that Mrs. Randall was quite capable of treating Adeline with blood-letting and lots of heat. Mrs. Randall was horrified with this suggestion. We were quite at loss as to what to do until Arthur overheard us discussing Adeline’s condition. 

“This sounds much like the swamp fever* that many of our troops suffered from in Louisiana.” he said. “  The army doctor there issued us all a package of powder** to add to our grog.  Indians extract it from the bark of a tropical tree and it seemed to work.” He arose immediately and rode back to the Randall homestead to search it out.

Mother was not certain.  Mrs. Randall replied she felt barbaric practices such as blood-;letting would only weaken Adeline further and adding more heat to the already hot cabin would not lower the fever.  She said the Indians had more sensible treatments for many illnesses than the most modern practices of English-trained doctors. 

Arthur and Robert rode back to the farm together.  Robert was very anxious and had to be restrained from going to Adeline’s bedside.  Arthur pressed the package of powder into his mother’s hands and urged her to add it to Adelaide’s broth.  He assured her that he had seen these symptoms leading up to the Battle of New Orleans and urged her to waste no time in treating the disease. 

We had been anxiously watching Charlie and Andrew, as well as little Adam, for possible signs of the same illness, but they seemed content to play and sleep together, only calling for comfort at meals.  We were very relieved to satisfy their thirst with cups of boiled and cooled milk, to which, happily Charlie ‘s now accustomed and Adam, of necessity has taken.  Arthur loves his little lad, but he finds it difficult to look after him now because he is so much more active.  He often expresses his frustration of leaving most of the care of Adam to his mother and father, but he has no confidence in allowing his father-in-law to take it on.  He clearly intends Mr. O’Meara no more contact with his grandson. 

“My darling Kathleen was the best of them, that’s certain,” he told us one day. “I want Adam to make her proud. I don’t trust the lot of them.  Her own family treated her like some maid, aye, worse than a maid by times.”

Oh my, I am that weary.  I will finish this account tomorrow. Just now I will stop in and see how things are with Mother before I go to bed.  She’s been feeing poorly herself, though I expect it’s just the heat.


Sunday, August 14, 1815,

We buried Mother in the orchard yesterday beside Victoria.  Now they are together in heaven.  Mother come down with the same fever Adeline has been fighting, but she refused to take any of the powder Arthur brought, and even the same powder Captain Everett Houghton left for us for fear that the babes might become ill or Adeline suffer a relapse.  We tried to put it into her broth, but she refused any, even in her delirium. Father is broken-hearted.


*now known as malaria

** Quinine was used to treat malaria until a chemical derivative was developed in the 20th century.

Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal: July 1815 (part 3)

Tuesday, July 18. 1815



silohuette of Ada Mae

Dear Janetta,

I went to Charles’ grave in the orchard today and told him that I plan to send our boys to England to protect them.  It will be an arduous journey and I am anxious whether I am risking their lives more by the voyage or if I were to keep them here with me.  When I told Evvy my decision she was horrified and begged me to reconsider, but Mr. O’Meara’s visit has reinforced my decision though it breaks my heart.  I have told my parents and they too, tried to dissuade me, but I am certain Charlie and Andrew must be protected from harm. 

Father has sent word to all our neighbours north of Johnstown to be alert for any sign of a stranger.  The Randalls and the Branch family have promised to come to our defence, but everyone is haying now.  This is the beginning of our busiest time and none can be spared to watch over us. I keep as busy as I can making meals for the men and watching my two little ones.  I am storing up memories and Evvy has not stopped her attempts to change my mind.  I plan to send word to Persephone as soon as possible …

Thursday, July 20, 1815medicine bottles

Adeline is very ill.  She felt ill  early yesterday and took to her bed with a raging fever.  Mrs. Randall was summoned and has been at her side all night.  I have been looking after Charlie and Andrew, but they are constantly calling for their Mamma.  I don’t dare let them see her for fear they might get sick also and they need to be in good health for their trip to England. 

I know my sister is afraid they are 
in grave danger here, but I fear the ocean voyage might be much more of a trial. They need their mother.  Robert drove his mother here and stayed to keep the boys amused while I tend to the meals.  I think he is more concerned about my sister’s health.  It is very plain to see how much regard he has for Addie.  Father and William carried Addie over to the cabin so that the rest of us will remain healthy.  I know that Mother is anxious because she is humming hymns while she works. 

Hector stopped by today, but understood immediately I had no thought in my head but of Addie.  He is the most considerate of men.  He promised to take a message to Everett and his sister if I wished, but although I know Addie wants to tell Persephone that she has decided to give the children up to her, I am praying it shan’t be required. 

Now, I must take some broth over to Mrs. Randall and Adeline.  I do hope there has been some change in her health.

Later: Father has sent William to Fort Wellington for the army doctor.  Adeline is delirious and Mrs. Randall is very worried.

So am I.


Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal: July 1815 (part 1)

Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal: July 1815

©2012 Mollie Pearce McKibbon

silohuette of Ada MaeSunday, July 2, 1815

Dear Janetta,

I cannot describe how I feel.  I am such a maelstrom of  anger, horror and terror.  It happened that this morning I awoke to the growling of Pirate.  I had heard him growling and whining earlier, but I was so weary I just looked over at the babes still asleep, hushed Pirate and fell back asleep.  It was a brief time because Pirate refused to be ignored and he kept growling, and barking at the door.  I could hear footsteps on the small porch and then, Henry called out, “Down Pirate, hush.”

Then as I stumbled sleepily to the door to open it for Henry, I heard him call out. 

“Addie, don’t come out. Promise me you won’t open the door.”

“Henry, what is the matter? Of course, I’ll come out if something is amiss.  Do you think I am aninny?” 

“No Addie. Wait until I fetch Father.  Please stay inside until I get back.”

I was puzzled and alarmed, but I agreed not to open the door.  Instead I dressed and began to prepare the morning meal of porridge.  Henry made it a habit to visit when he arose, bringing us milk from the morning’s milking.  Charlie and Andrew are still nursing, though I am training them to drink from a cup as well.  Henry often eats his breakfast with us. 

Henry and Father returned and spent some time talking quietly, then I heard them wrenching something from the door.  Pirate was beside himself with desperation to get out.

Father finally knocked on the door and I let him inside. 

“Adeline,” he said gravely, “This cabin is no longer safe for you and the boys.  I must insist you move back into the house.”

“But Father,” I implored, “the house is too small for all of us now.  What do you mean, the cabin is too dangerous?”

Charlie and Andrew both sat up in their beds, rubbing their sleepy eyes. 

“Addie, did you hear anyone outside your door this morning?” asked Henry coming in behind father. 

“No, I didn’t…well, I guess Pirate did, because his growling woke me up awhile ago.  I was too tired to pay it mind.”

“Addie, someone has killed the boys two kittens and nailed them to the cabin door.”

“What?”  I staggered backwards and grabbed the post of the settle near the fire. “Bourke!  Bourke did that?”

“Adeline, this man is not rational.  You are in grave danger.” said Father.

Isn’t it enough that Bourke kidnapped me, killed my dear Charles,and burned our home?  Now he’s driven us out of our new home and threatened our lives.  We come through a war across our borders and in our own country and now we are fighting a phantom. 

I have made up my mind to accept Brigadier General Houghton’s offer.  I will have to send my boys to England so that they will be safe.  My heart is breaking.



Tuesday, July 4, 1815

Dear Janetta,

Arthur Randall came by with his mother and aunt the day after the kittens were killed.  I had just finished washing and hanging the boy’s clothes out to dry.  At first, I thought it was Robert and my heart began pounding from mortification after our last conversation.  However, as the wagon came closer, I realized it was Arthur.  His mother and aunt went into the house to visit my mother and Evvy.  Robert had his son, Adam, on his arm and called out to me.

‘Adeline, may we talk?”

I tried not to stare at his empty sleeve as he limped towards me. I put down the basket and we went to sit on the bench near the well, the place where Charles had proposed to me.

“Does your injury cause you much pain?” I asked him.

“Sometimes, not always.  Mostly it exasperates me not being able to do what I did before. I’m not much use anymore, Addie. We lost the Battle in New Orleans and I lost my arm.”

  “It must be very distressing for you,” I said.  “We are so glad that you have returned safely and that the war is over.”

Arthur sat watching Adam playing with some stones.  “War doesn’t seem to be over for

you, Addie.  I don’t understand why you refused my brother’s proposal.  He could offer you and your children the protection you need. “

My cheeks began to burn. “  I didn’t refuse him,” I whispered.

“He says that you did,” insisted Arthur.  “Why ever would he think that?”

“I… I don’t know,” I answered “He came to tell me Bourke had escaped and I broke down and cried.  It was such a shock.  He asked me to marry him almost in the same breath…but…”

“He didn’t wait for your answer, did he?”

I shook my head and Arthur sighed.  I picked up Adam and brushed dirt from his tiny fist.  He cuddled up to me and began sucking his thumb.

“Do you think you could learn to love him, Adeline?”

I thought of my two sons without a father and remembered Robert’s many kindnesses and considerations.

“I think perhaps I already do care for Robert,” I mumbled into Adam’s curly hair. 

“Good,” said Arthur, reaching out for his son.”then you should tell him .”

“He has been avoiding me.  I think that he is angry with me and besides, I don’t wish him to marry me out of a sense of duty or pity.”  I felt annoyed with my stubbornness but could not bring myself to admit my own doubts.  I was very uncomfortable with the entire conversation. 

“Adeline, do not let pride stand between you and your safety, not to forget the happiness and comfort of your children.  I know for a fact my brother has loved you since the day you first arrived with your parents, ten years ago.”

Arthur looked down at me with a slight smile. “Believe me, Adeline, duty and pity have nothing to do with Robert’s feelings for you.”

And that, Janetta, is when Arthur left me to join his mother and aunt. So now what should I do? – Adeline

laundry tub

Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal: April 1815

Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal: April 1815

©2012 Mollie Pearce McKibbon




Saturday, April 16, 1815

Dear Janetta,

Charlie, Andrew and I are now moved into our dear little home.  I have been much occupied with making it cosy and safe for my little ones.  Charlie is content to sit and play with the blocks Henry made for him and Andrew, but Andrew is quickly out of my sight if I don’t watch him.  He is an expert at hiding from me when he wants to and I’m constantly pulling him away from the hearth or the water bucket. 

Oh, goodness, we have company! I shall have to finish writing this later.


It is now evening and my happy mood of the morning is destroyed.  Robert came riding in at a great hurry and came straight to the cabin.  I thought it odd, as he was alone and did not speak to Father first, as he usually does.  When I opened the door, Robert’s appearance shocked me.  He almost sagged in relief when he saw me standing there in the doorway.

“Adeline, thank God you are safe! I got here as soon as possible when I heard the news.”  Robert strode in and swung Charlie up into his arms, scattering the blocks.  “Where is my Andrew,” he asked and a little tousled head popped out behind a bedpost. 

“Robert, what is wrong?” I managed to say. “You are frightening me.”

Robert put Charlie down and took both my hands in his.  He was trembling.

“Adeline, Bourke has escaped from custody. He is said to have sworn an oath to “get yer good”.   

I almost fell on to the chair by the hearth.

Was I never going to see the last of this devil? 

“But how?  I don’t understand.  The army was going to take him to Brockville for the trial.”  I thought I might vomit.

Charlie and Andrew began to cry.  Robert gathered them to himself and began soothing them.  When they quieted he said,  “It was the O’Meara brothers, they attacked the two soldiers escorting him, wounded one and released Bourke.”

“He’s escaped?”  My head was reeling and then Robert did an astonishing thing.  He got down on one knee and said, “Marry me, Adeline, and I will keep you safe.  Your father gave me permission to ask you months ago, but I wanted to give you time…”

I began to sob and immediately, Robert let go of my hands and got to his feet.  His face reddened and he muttered, “ I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have …of course, you aren’t prepared for this.  I just want to protect you and your boys, Adeline.  Forgive me.    I ‘ve spoken to soon.”

With that he rushed out of the cabin and rode away and my babies burst into wails.  Now I am most distraught, for Robert, for myself and for my fatherless boys. 

Oh, Janetta, what should I do?


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