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?


Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal: November-December 1814

Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal © by Mollie Pearce McKibbon 2014

This is a fictional journal written by a young woman settled in Edwardsburg Township during the war of 1812.mother-baby-graphicsfairy007b

Sunday, November 27, 1814

Dear Janetta,

         I have been so occupied with my sons, that I haven’t had an opportunity to take up my quill pen until today.  Elizabeth and William stopped by to join us for our Bible lesson and some hymns and stayed to share our midday meal so Vickie is keeping Charles and Andrew amused now that she can toddle around.  I have received another letter from England, this time from Persephone Meldrum, Charle’s married sister.  This is what she wrote:

Dearest Sister-in-Law,

       I do hope you think of me as a sister and know how gratified I am that Charles wrote to us about your marriage.  I fear that you may not have felt welcomed to our family.  You must understand that our father was distraught at the news of Charles’ murder  and naturally upset that he was not able to deal with the necessary inquiry himself. 

         I pray that you have begun to recover from your natural grief.  I expect your children are a great consolation.  I know that my father is about to offer to educate Charles and Andrew here in England and will tell you my husband, Percival Meldrum  Esquire, and myself have a very comfortable accommodation for your sons here at Meldrum Manor.  Nanny Parsons is in charge of our three daughters, Leona, Lavinia and Lydia and is quite prepared to take on two more children.  We will of course, employ an extra tutor for your sons and treat them as if they were ours.  They will also be attended by our own physician Mr. Bell, who is much respected in the highest society.

          Please, do not feel at all compelled to send your children to England, but you need to be informed of the advantages of which they will be assured.  Father has even now making arrangements at Oxford College for their future  studies should they have the aptitude.  If not, they will be certain of a commission in the army. 

I anticipate with much pleasure, meeting you and my two nephews next spring.

With fondest regards,

Persephone Houghton-Meldrum”

Persephone seems to be very considerate of my feelings and it is generous of her and her husband to accept the great imposition of my children into their home, but I cannot bear the thought of being separated from my boys.  I showed Mother and Father the letter and  they only remarked that it seemed a good opportunity for my sons to earn their way in society, but they have been careful not to press me to conform to the wishes of the Houghton family. 

Am I being selfish keeping my children with me, when they could have a comfortable future back in England? I wonder what Robert would advise me to do. Perhaps I should ask him when next he brings his mother to visit. 



Sunday, Dec. 18,1814


Wonderful news, just before Christmas! Bourke has been captured by White Wolf and Robert.  He was trying to get back across the St. Lawrence.  He has been incarcerated in the jail at the fort in Prescott.  My sons and I will sleep much more safely from now on although I will need to go to Fort Welllington to identify him as my persecutor. I hope this is the last we hear of him.



Adeline’s Journal (January – March 1813)

silohuette of Ada Mae

Adeline’s Journal – a fictional account of a Young Woman’s Life During the War of 1812
© 2012Mollie Pearce McKibbon

January 23, 1813

Thistledown Farm, Edwardsburgh Township

Dear Janetta,

It has been extremely cold, but our little house is cosy.  My brother, William, made a brief visit home two days ago and brought us the mail, a package and news from Fort Wellington.  William said that the mail was a few months old because it had been taken from an English ship by the Americans who had hoped to intercept military information.  It was then discarded by them as it was only family mail for the soldiers and settlers.  That explained why all of the letters had been opened.  

Mother was overjoyed to have a letter from her sister, my Aunt Sadie, from Bath and I received a most happy surprise – a letter from you, Janetta, after all these years.  You apologized for being so negligent in corresponding, but you also told me that a great many things had occurred – both good and bad, since we had left England.  You lost your dear mama to pneumonia and your father had remarried soon afterwards, much to your chagrin.  Your brother was wounded fighting Napoleon and had lost an arm.  However, the good news was that you had your first season in London while visiting your aunt and uncle.  It all sounds so wonderful – all the parties and dances.  Now you are being courted by not just one young man, but three.  That did make me smile.  However will you decide between them?

What shall I write back?  There are so many years to fill in for you.  Will I tell you about Charles?  Evvy says that you have nothing to boast over me because I have three suitors also, but it is hardly the same.  Robert and Arthur Randall are only interested in me because I am the only eligible girl in the vicinity.  There is Kathleen O’Meara, but  she is two years my senior and has shown little interest in any one,  Evvy thinks she is sweet on Arthur, because he spends so much time with her brothers.  There are three O’Meara brothers, Liam, Darnell and Seamus.  I don’t think that Robert or Mr. Randall approve of the O’Mearas.  There have been rumours going around about them and the time they spend on the American side of the river.  Of course, rumours are always circulating about the O’Meara family.  They haven’t lived here in Upper Canada very long and they haven’t been shy about voicing their dislike of the English.  Father says that Mr. O’Meara left Ireland under a cloud (whatever he meant by that) and that he thinks the O’Meara’s aren’t entirely unsympathetic to the Americans.  However, no more gossip.

I also received two letters from Charles.  He asked William to bring them to me and William saw no harm in it.  I think William likes Charles and why ever not!  He is a very fine gentleman , respected by all the other soldiers and militiamen (excepting Arthur of course).  Both Charles’ letters were very kind and amusing.  In the first one, written after our embarrassing scene at the New Year’s Eve party, he begged my forgiveness for causing me to be the topic of gossip.  He also reassured me that he was not involved with any other woman.  He speculated that the picture Robert Randall had seen was of his sister, Persephone, who was also my age when it was painted.  He wrote that his sister was married and had two little girls now and he hoped that one day I would make her acquaintance.  

Charles’ second letter was filled with descriptions of his home in England and his two older brothers, Everett and Bartholemew who are both serving in the army under General Wellington.  They both have commissions of course, but then they are his older brothers.  Evidently Charles’ father and grandfather were both army officers, so military life has been their family tradition going back even to the time of the War of the Roses.  

Our family, the Prices of Yorkshire and Buckinghamshire have always farmed.  There is quite a lot of land in our family as Great Grandfather Price was a squire, but  he had five sons, and my grandfather was the youngest, as is my father the youngest of seven.  Father was managing Grandfather’s land for his eldest brother, but they fell out and now here we are in North America.  I suppose General Houghton would not consider us in his class at all.

Mother’s package hadn’t been opened at all.  Perhaps the Americans were in too much haste to bother.        It turned out to have been sent by Grandmother Benton, mother’s mama.  She sent us some delicate lace capes to wear over our summer dresses on Sundays.  They really aren’t suitable for our summers that tend to be very humid and full of biting insects.  Mother says that perhaps she could apply the lace to a wedding gown for each of us one day or (and she said it quietly so that Elizabeth wouldn’t overhear) to make a christening gown for the family grandchildren.  Elizabeth is still very sensitive about losing her baby.  I think mother had been hoping for something more practical from Grandmother Benson, such as real tea or some spices.  We lack so much now in the way of supplies.  The Americans are constantly harassing our shipping and any boat the comes up the St. Lawrence from Montreal or down the river from York is liable to be threatened.  Mother has to be very careful with the supplies we have and most of our meals rely upon the contents of the root cellar.  Henry rabbit snares and turkey shooting supplies us with meat.  Of course, things haven’t been so good in England either, now that they are at war again.

Lovingly, Adeline 

February 13, 1813

Dear Janetta,

We just seem to dig ourselves out of one snowstorm into another.  The wind has been howling around our little home and piling snow up against the door, so that each morning we have to dig our way out of the house to get to the barn.  There was a bit of a thaw last week and now there are icicles hanging off the roof that almost touch the ground.  We need to melt the snow for water for the animals and believe me, it cools off before we get it to the barn.  

The Americans made another raid, this time against Elizabethtown ( I just can’t get used to calling it Brockville) and they released fifty prisoners, and took several prominent citizens to Ogdensburg as their prisoners.  They are becoming bolder and bolder and we are all worried that Prescott will be next.  Heaven forbid they should capture Fort Wellington!  We are very worried about Father and William.

My sister-in-law, Elizabeth, is staying with us for now.  It is hard enough to keep one home going without having to travel back and forth between two.  William went up to their farm, secured it and brought their cow and horse back with him so our barn is quite full now.  Elizabeth is quite recovered now and so she, Mother, and Evvy look after the house, the meals and the mending.  Henry goes hunting and I care for the animals.  

Father and William spend most of their time at the fort now, going out on patrol.  There is quite a bit of smuggling going on and a few folk have been caught and had their ill-gotten goods confiscated.  I can’t say that I don’t feel any empathy for the people who have relatives on the American side, but I don’t believe that trading with the enemy is anything but treasonous.

Faithfully, Adeline

February 15, 1813

Dear Janetta,

If much more snow falls, I doubt we will have arms long enough to pile it up.  When I go out now, I bundle up like Father.  Mother insists I put on Father’s heavy wool leggings on over my woolen stockings under my woolen skirt.  I do look a fright when I go to the barn, I suppose the cows mind it little.  I only wish there was some way to make my leather boots resistant to the wet snow.  After the chores, my feet are cakes of ice.

I think that I shall have to purchase some winter moccasins from Grandma MacTavish.  We all call the elder Mrs. MacTavish, Grandma because she is a dear old lady who lives with her son and his family in Johnstown.  She lived with the Algonquins when she was just as small girl about six years old until she was 14.  She learned how to sew moccasins which she sells to the settlers now.  She says they are much warmer than our leather boots.  I believe we settlers could learn a great deal from the native tribes about survival in the harsh winter.  

I have become better acquainted with Charles over the past weeks through our correspondence.    Mr. Randall , who is too old to be in the militia, goes back and forth to the fort each week to take their meat supplies from the farmers in the area and he fetches the mail and he has been very obliging to deliver our letters to our men at the fort.  

Charles has been circumspect in all his letters, telling me about his home in England and regaling me with amusing stories his dog, Plato and his horses.  I have told him all about where we farmed in Buckinghamshire and how we came to live here.  He mentioned in his last letter that the whole fort was being kept to a very high standard of readiness in anticipation of another attack by the Americans.  

Mr. Randall says that the Governor-in-chief is expected soon for inspection and “Red George” MacDonell is fighting mad because the American commander, Forsyth, has insulted the capabilities of our troops.  Sometimes, I wish I was a man I feel so angry, but then I am glad I don’t actually have to shoot at anyone.   

Your friend, Adeline

February 16, 1813

Dear Janetta,

Henry came back from hunting today with some disturbing news.  He was following a white tail deer just south of William’s property when he noticed smoke.  He wanted to go and investigate , but he knew that he needed to return home with some meat.  He didn’t manage to get the deer but his snares caught two fat rabbits.  He and I will go and investigate the source of the smoke on William’s property tomorrow.  Elizabeth is concerned that we might be putting ourselves in harm’s way, but she is naturally perturbed about anything or anyone putting their home in jeopardy.  I speculated that perhaps some Iroquoin hunting party had simply camped overnight and that seemed to mollify her, but Henry and I will take the utmost caution as I have assured Mother.  She is not in favour of our expedition at all, but she understands our concern for the security of William’s and Elizabeth’s home.


The following excerpts are from Evaline Price’s Journal:

February 20, 1813

It has been three days since Henry came rushing in the door in great anguish calling ” Addie’s been taken…Addie’s been taken!”  

Still we have no word of what has happened to my dear sister excepting what Henry was able to tell us which wasn’t very much.  He and Adeline went out to William’s property to be certain that all was well because Henry had observed some smoke coming from that direction while out hunting the day before.  Adeline suggested that Henry circle the perimeter of the property while out hunting the day before.  When Henry finally came back to where they had parted, there was no sign of Adeline where they had planned to meet.  Henry approached the cabin, observed that the door was partly opened and there were signs of a struggle inside with the table and chairs pushed over and a broken jug against the wall.  Someone had used the hearth recently and there were some soiled bandages in the ashes.  

When Henry looked in the barn he said that there had been at least three, maybe four horses in there, judging by the all the disarray and horse dung left behind.  Henry rushed to the road to see if he could find any sign of a party on horseback and though he called out Adeline’s names there was no answer.  He did find one of Adeline’s hair ribbons in the snow near the cabin, so he knew that she had been there.  

Mother is terribly distraught and Elizabeth is blaming herself for allowing Adeline and Henry to go up to the property, which is silly.  Once Adeline decides on a course of action, none can deter her from it, except Father.  Mr. Randall and Henry went back to the cabin on the following day and found nothing more.  Mr. Randall called on our nearest neighbours, the O’Meara’s and the Willins, to no avail.  No one had seen Adeline.  

Father and William have been told, but are unable to leave the fort as “Red George” has them on alert, but the whole contingent is aware of Adeline’s disappearance and will be looking for any sign of her.  I have bitten my nails down to the quick with worry.  The best thing to do, Mother says, is to keep busy, however I have seen her going to the orchard where you can just see Virginia’s grave stone above the snow and Uncle Andrew’s not far from it.  I know she is grieving and there is naught that I can do to help.

Sadly, Evvy

March 3, 1813

Praise the Lord, our sister has returned!  She is pale and thin, wounded slightly and exhausted.  All we know of her ordeal is that she was rescued from imprisonment in Ogdensburg by our gallant militia men and the soldiers who carried out a surprise attack on that town and its armories on February 22.  Our brave commander, “Red George” MacDonnell, defied the orders of Sir Prevost, and led our men across the frozen St. Lawrence under the cover of darkness.  How Adeline got to Ogdensburg and what happened there will have to wait until she tells us.  At the moment, all she can do is sleep and recover, with us tenderly watching over her. 

Cpl.  Houghton has been most anxiously waiting an opportunity to speak to her and, as he was greatly involved in her rescue, Father and Mother can hardly refuse him.  Father also is recovering from a head wound he received when an American soldier hit him with his rifle butt.  William, thank the Lord, has suffered no more than frostbite to one of his toes and has returned to duty at the fort.  

Sir Prevost is, of course, taking full credit for the raid on Ogdensburg, even though Red George went totally against orders to carry it out.  More about that much later.  I must hurry now and see to Adeline’s comfort before bedtime.  Thank God, all are well.


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