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’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,


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.



Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal: February 1814

Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal: February 1814

©2012 by Mollie Pearce McKibbon

A fictional account of a young woman’s experiences during the War of 1812.

silohuette of Adeline

Thistledown Farm

February 13, 1814

Dear Janetta,

At the end of January Father was summoned  to Fort Wellington and told to bring me for an interview with the fort commander.  Father told me that he would go alone and speak to the commander on my behalf .  I appreciated his desire to shield me from the distress, but I felt that if I did not go myself it it would give a wrong impression.  I know that Charles was respected and is greatly missed by his comrades and it wounds me that his friends would think the worst of me.  Father and I walked through the barracks to the colonel’s office.

The colonel treated us with great respect.  He offered me a chair and asked if I would care for some hot tea.  I thanked him and said that tea would be very welcome.  My father saluted and stood behind my chair until the colonel gave him leave to sit down as well.  

The colonel picked up a letter from his desk and read it aloud.  It was from Brigadier General Ambrose Houghton the Third, Charles’ father. The letter was cold and to the point.  He and his family were distressed to learn of the death of their youngest son, not to have been killed nobly in battle, but under very suspicious circumstances while on leave from the army.  He further stated that although Charles was involved with a woman (myself) and supposedly married, he had married in haste and without the permission of his father. Furthermore, although Charles was the youngest son, he would have come into a sizable inheritance held in trust from his great-uncle which would now be put back into a trust for his older brothers and sister.  He concluded his letter by demanding (although that is not how he phrased it) that all of his son’s belongings be shipped back to England and that a thorough investigation into his murder be conducted immediately.

At every line, my dismay grew and, though I tried to hold them back, my tears flowed freely.  Was this the letter for which my dear Charles had longed? I wondered how my very thoughtful and loving husband  could be the son of someone so very unfeeling. 

My father put his arm around me and bid me wipe my tears.  I could tell that he was upset from the way that his lip stiffened and his voice deepened as he spoke.

“Am I to understand,Sir, that my daughter’s grief is now suspect? That now my family is to be investigated?  What do we know about this man?  You know how honourable our family is.  My daughter is now a widow.”

“Of course, I don’t believe this, Price. , but this man is influential and my superior in rank.  Houghton died under very strange circumstances and I must ask the constable in Johnstown to investigate.”

My knees were shaking as we left the office and I could feel the eyes of the soldiers boring into my back as we walked through  the fort gate.  Mr. Randall helped me up into the sleigh and we three drove home in silence as the shadows lengthened on the snow.

That night, as I lay in bed next to my sister,  I cried and prayed as I never have before.

Your childhood friend,



Thistledown Farm

February 26, 1814

Dear Janetta, 

Many times I have taken up my quill to write and I end up staring at the blank sheet until it disappears before me.  The days are galloping by as this tiny being is making his or her self more obvious with small kicks.  Mrs. Randall is pleased with the baby’s progress and keeps urging me not to neglect my meals.  She needn’t worry as Mother is forever making me small tea trays and when she isn’t then Evvy is.  

The war is continually in our minds, although my thoughts are centred mainly on myself these days and my wee bump.  It has been quiet on the river and battle of Crysler’s farm was even celebrated at a grand ball in Quebec given by Governor General Prevost so we have been told.  I don’t suppose I will ever go to a ball.  Somedays when I am very melancholy, I wonder if I will ever be free of the shadows that surround me.

regency lady Sadly, Adeline.



Adeline’s Journal – May 22 to June 16, 1813

English uniformsA fictional journal of a young woman of Upper Canada during the War of 1812.

The Story up to this date:   Adeline Price is a young woman of 17 who lives with her parents, her younger sister, Eveline and her brother, Henry, on a farm north of Prescott, in what is now Ontario.  Her older brother William is married to Elizabeth and living on a corner portion of the Price property.     When war is declared, her father and brother join the ranks of the volunteers.  Adeline is being courted by a corporal in the English army who is stationed at Fort Wellington.  While checking on her brother’s property, Adeline is abducted by spies and is taken by force across the St. Lawrence River to Ogdensburgh where she is put into custody by Major Forsyth.  She is handed over to the civil authority, Sheriff York, who sends her to stay at Widow Fenton’s boarding house.  Her story continues as she writes in her diary which she addresses to her friend, Janetta, whom she left back in England.

Sunday,May22,1813                                                                                                                                                   A sunny day                                                                                                                                                                      

Dear Janetta,  

My mother’s herb garden is sprouting and her rose bush is covered with new buds.  Spring would be so very pleasant were it not for the annoying black flies and mosquitoes.  We women have veils on our bonnets, but how the poor men must suffer!  Father and Henry are doing their best to get our oats, wheat and potatoes planted.  They come in all bitten up.

Where was I in my Ogdensburgh adventure?  That’s how I think of it now – as adventure, now that I am safe at home, but it was terrifying at the time, believe me.   Oh yes, Widow Fenton’s boarding house was where I stopped last time.  I was thoroughly miserable there and began to fall ill.  Sheriff York, a true gentleman in these unfortunate times, came to check on me the second evening and was concerned about the cough I had developed.  He sent for the army physician.  I don’t remember much about the examination except that he felt my forehead, listened to my chest through his stethescope and then proceeded to bleed me.  His diagnosis was that I was suffering from ague.  He told Widow Fenton to put more blankets on my bed and feed me hot broth.  Widow Fenton complained that she wasn’t being paid enough to nurse me too, but she did what she was told.  Her reluctant efforts did little to help.

One of the other boarders, a sweet spirited Quaker woman, fixed me a mustard poultice for my chest and changed it twice during the night.  I awoke the next morning to thunderous canon fire.  Widow Fenton rushed into my room screaming that the town was being invaded by “redcoats” and I must dress and leave her house immediately.

“I will not have an enemy spy under my roof or on my premises!” she shouted. “Leave now!”

I dressed as quickly as I could in the only clothes I had.  My Father’s heavy barn coat was still damp, but I pushed on his hat and wrapped the woolen scarf around the hood.  There was blowing snow which stung my face as Widow Fenton shoved me out into the street.  I heard the bar fall across her door behind me.  I was locked out and I could hear the Quaker woman vehemently protesting that it was too dangerous for anyone to be out on the street, to no avail.

I stood on the front stoop for a moment, in shock from my rude awakening.  As I tried to decide just where to go, our brave men under the command of Lt. Colonel Red George Macdonell, were coming up the street toward some American soldiers who seemed to be in some disarray.  Thinking our troops were just doing their usual morning drills on or near the river, they had not bothered to pay further attention, until the army was marching up the streets of Ogdensburgh towards Fort La Presentation.  I shrank back in between Widow Fenton’s house and the building next door, for fear of being caught in the crossfire.  

Suddenly, I felt myself being roughly grabbed from behind.  

“Fancy meeting you here,” growled a gruff voice behind me.  I recognized Bourke’s drawl and tried to wrestle out of his grasp. 

“Oh no, ya don’t gurl! “he said as he pushed his musket into my back.  “Yer ma good luck charm in this    little dustup.”

Bourke proceeded to shove me into the lean-to beside Widow Fenton’s house.  He followed after me, loaded his rife and handed the musket to me to load.  I wanted nothing to do with helping him kill brave Canadian soldiers.  I dropped his musket as if it were molten metal, but Bourke menaced me with his loaded rifle so I proceeded to obey him.  

“Yer’ve caused me considerable trouble, yer have.  Don’t think yer gonna go runnin’ back tellin’ tales! “

A shot came whizzing past his ear, and he turned quickly to fire his rifle.  It was then or never, I decided, as I lowered the loaded pistol and fired at his leg when his back was turned.  With a sharp cry of surprise, he slumped to the floor of the lean-to, his leg bleeding profusely, and I lunged past him out into the street.  I ran towards the Canadians calling,”Help, please help me!”

I wasn’t sure anyone could hear me in the noise and confusion, or see me in all the smoke, but someone in a green militia coat grabbed me by the arm just as a musket ball hit my leg.  How it stung!

“I think I’ve been hit in my leg,” I cried out.  The soldier looked down at it briefly and shrugged,

“Ain’t too bad, Boy.  Just keep going.  Here’s some musket balls.”

He pushed three lead balls into my hands and kept on going.  He thinks I’m in the militia too, I thought in shock.  I was caught up in a nightmare and all I truly wanted to do was sit down on the snowy street and cry like a baby, but I loaded one ball into the barrel as my father had taught and prayed no one would notice I hadn’t any powder.  Stumbling up the street after the rest of the soldiers, my eyes tried to recognize a face through the smoke.  Father, William, the Randall brothers, or Charles must be somewhere in the melee.  

Suddenly we halted.  Ahead of Red George’s men was a cannon, manned by some American soldiers and one of the men behind the cannon was Sheriff York.  The Americans were attempting to load and fire the cannon, but something was wrong and it seemed to misfire.  A number of Americans were felled by Canadian rifles, the rest retreated at a run to the safety of the fort until the only man standing by the cannon was Sheriff York.  

Remembering his kindness towards me, I pleaded,”O please don’t shoot him,” under my breath and as if he had heard me, Red George, ordered a momentary ceasefire, while they took him prisoner.  Later, I heard someone say that Red George said Sheriff York was much too brave to kill.  

Suddenly, I felt faint.  I looked down at my leg and realized I had left a thin trail of red all the way up the street.  I began to sway on my feet, heard someone shout, ” Hey Boy, “.  Someone carried me to safety.  When I revived with the help of a sip of whisky, I was inside a home, warming by a blazing hearth and my father and Charles were hovering over me.

” It’s all right, Adeline,  you’re safe now.  It’s almost all over. “

My father was holding my hand while a kind American woman bathed my bleeding leg.  The bullet had hit me but had not hit bone and all that was wrong was a small chunk of skin was missing.  She poured a bit of the whisky over it and bound the wound with a thick wad of bandage.  

I sobbed when I saw my dear father and Charles.  Then I noticed the bandage around my father’s head.  He had been hit by a rifle butt and was quite woozy, but otherwise he said he was just fine.  Charles assured me that the fort had surrendered and that Forsyth had fled with his remaining men. They were being pursued by the Algonquins through the bush.  Charles also said that many American field guns, rifles, ammunition and other army stores had been confiscated and prisoners taken.    He told Father and me that he had been ordered to escort us back home across the frozen river in a sled.  The army would follow with more wounded and the captured prisoners as soon as Red George had questioned the townsmen of Ogdensburgh.  Later, we were told that Red George had met with the town officials and had promised them no further raids as long as they took no direct part in the war.

So that was my adventure in Ogdensburgh.  I spent the next months recovering from the wound in my leg and pneumonia in my chest.  Our doctor said I was very lucky not to have lost one of my toes to frostbite.  I told Father, William and Charles all about my abduction, but no one has seen or heard from Darnell or Seamus O’Meara since and I have no idea what finally happened to Bourke.  I suppose I shall never know.  

One question I wondered about Charles answered.  It was Robert Randall who saw me fall and carried me to safety.  I must thank him when next I see him.  Charles also told me that he wanted to speak to my father as soon as possible, as he had something very important to discuss with him.  I wonder what that could be.

Lovingly, Adeline.

Sunday,June6,1813                                                                                                                                                     Raining


Govenor Prevost, was at first angry and then very elated when he heard of the success of Lt. Colonel MacDonell’s raid on Ogdensburg.  He, of course, according to rumour, took full credit for the plan (which Charles says he totally tried to squelch before leaving for the safer haven of Fort Henry).  Flush with the success of that victory, he ordered the army to attack Sackett’s Harbour.  Unfortunately, that attack did not turn out so well.  Many of our men were killed or badly injured.  Charles, thank the Good Lord, returned intact, but William suffered a wound in his upper arm from which he is recovering.  Thank goodness, he didn’t have to have his arm amputated, unlike a number of his fellow soldiers.  He is recovering and now has something to celebrate as Elizabeth is once more expecting a child.  We are all very happy and looking forward to it’s birth before this Christmas.

Hopefully, Adeline

Adeline’s Journal -April 17-May 12, 1813

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.  

Happily, Adeline.

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.

Lovingly, Adeline

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.

floral border design

Adeline’s Journal April 4, 1813

silohuette of Ada Mae
a fictional journal of a young woman during the War of 1812

The story this far:

Adeline and her family live north of Johnstown on farm land her father inherited from his older brother.  William, Adeline, Evaline and Henry are the children of Edmond and Charlotte Price.  William is married to Elizabeth and has a piece of his father’s acreage which he has built on.  William and his father are in the militia and must report to Fort Wellington in Prescott.  The women and younger children have to learn to manage the farm themselves.  John Price taught his daughters to load and shoot a musket after Adeline saved her younger brother from a cougar.  Adeline is being courted by a Corporal Charles Houghton, and two neigbour’s sons, Robert and Arthur.  Henry and Adeline have been watching out for their brother’s farm, when one day her brother returns home with the news that he has seen smoke coming from the chimney of the cabin on William’s property.  Henry and Adeline agree to investigate.

                                                                                           Sunday, April 4, 1813

Dear Janetta,

      It is the Sabbath day and I have just finished a bowl of Mother’s delicious potato soup with one of Elizabeth’s wonderful sourdough biscuits.  The house is quiet now as Father is napping and Mother is writing letters.  Henry, Evvy and Elizabeth are visiting the Randals.

   I am sitting under the eaves, at the desk that Father made for Evvy and I, in the half of the loft that she and I share.  Mother has me bundled up like a caterpillar in a warm quilt and she also tucked a hot brick under my feet.  It is so hot, I almost burnt my toes until I pushed it under my chair.  Honestly, you would think I was recovering from the plague instead of near pneumonia, I have been so coddled since returning from the other side of the river. I still have nightmares and wake up poor Evvy with my muttering and moaning.  

   I must tell you my Ogdensburgh adventure.  Henry and I went to check on William’s and Elizabeth’s cabin where Henry had seen smoke.  Mother insisted that we go warmly dressed, so I put on Father’s warmest trousers over my petticoat and his barn coat with the squirrel collar and hood as well as a woolen cap.  This was all covered with a long woolen scarf and I did not resemble myself so much as a lumberman from the backwoods.  I could hardly move for the layers.  We rode Rosey and Blinky, our old plow horses, up to the road to Prescott and turned north towards the piece of land that Father gave William (thirty good acres – five that William has already cleared).  

    As we reached the bottom of William’s land, we turned off the road toward the cabin.  Before approaching the cabin, we agreed to part and meet back at the road after checking on the property.  First, I would skirt the cabin and see if anything had been disturbed.  If there were any suggestion of intruders we would go and fetch Mr. Randal.

    I felt a bit nervous about approaching the cabin, but could see no smoke from the chimney, so I walked cautiously around the perimeter and peered into the barn.  For a moment it seemed that my heart stopped beating.  There in the stalls, that should have been empty, were three strange horses, – a bay, a roan and a grey.  I recognized the roan and the bay.  They were the O’Meara’s horses.  I didn’t know the grey mare.

     I ducked down behind the woodpile and tried to think why the O’Meara’s would have broken into William’s cabin.  Were they in the very act of thievery?  What should I do?  Had they gone out hunting in the bush?  What if they met up with Henry?  My heart was pounding and my head was aching with indecision.  Who was the third person?  I was thankful that it wasn’t Robert or Arthur. I knew all their horses.  What scheme were the O’Meara’s up to?  

    As I knelt behind the wood, torn between running to the woods to warn Henry or confronting the O’Mearas, a stranger stepped out of the cabin, talking to someone over his shoulder.

    “Ah’ll get saddled.  You bring the maps we made and we’ll make tracks for the river crossing.”

    “Shouldn’t we wait ’til dusk?  Less chances of being seen then.”  Darnell O’Meara came out of the cabin, his flintlock in one hand and a leather saddle bag in the other.

   “Nah, Ah want to make tracks.  We’ll keep to the bush as soon as we can.”

    My head was spinning with shock.  If the O’Mearas were just smuggling to hide their true activities what were they really doing?  Then it came over me suddenly, with horror.  The O’Meara’s were spies.  It was obvious the other person was an American.  Now I was truly in a bad dilemma.  What should I do?

    “Hey, there’s someone behind the woodpile,” shouted Darnell.  

    I ran for the trees, but in all my layers was no match for the fleet-footed American who tacked me around the legs and brought me crashing to the ground.  

    “Who the hell are you, boy?” he shouted as he snatched the hood and hat off my head.  

     “I know who it is,” said Darnell.  “T’is no boy, but Price’s sister, Adeline, a real spitfire!”

     “A troublemaker, huh?  Well, we ‘ll see how much trouble she gives us bound and gagged,”said the American.

   And that is how I found myself bound and gagged seated in front of the American, up on the big grey.  My face was stinging from the snow, my hair was wet and there was snow down the back of my neck.  At least they had used my own scarf to gag me, but my hands were tied with a leather harness William had left hanging in his barn.  I was helpless and furious, but very glad that Henry had not been at the place we’d agreed to meet.  Blinky had obviously wandered off, probably back to our barn.

    It was a very long uncomfortable ride to the river.  I ignored the O’Meara brothers,  They were beneath content.

   Eventually, we left the road and travelled into the dense woods on a path that the O’Meara brothers had surely taken before.  When we arrived at the bank of the St. Lawrence River, it was late afternoon, nearly dusk.  We were several miles west of Fort Wellington.  the river was almost completely frozen.  There was a small, partially obscured shed and two canoes on the shore.  the three men tethered the horses and shoved me into the shed.  There was barely room to sit.  I perched on an over-turned barrel and mulled over my situation.  I was not about to show how truly frightened I was.  The door of the shed suddenly opened, almost pushing me from my perch.  A hand grabbed my bonds and I was dragged from the shed and set back up on the grey mare.

    It was now dark, but a full moon lit up the icy surface of the river.  The lights of Ogdensburgh were little sparks flickering on the other side of the river.  Muttering softly to the horses, the men proceeded across the ice on foot, carefully one after another.  Sometimes the ice seemed to crack where the surface had warmed at bit and melted in the sun, refreezing when the temperature dropped.  I was nervous on the grey as I was terrified the ice would crack open beneath his hooves and I would be drowned.  No one would ever know what had happened to me.  Then I shook myself free of such imaginations and concentrated on keeping warm.  There was a wind blowing a sharp icy spray of snow that stung my cheeks.  My feet were numb in my leather boots.

    Our progress was slow, but steady and silent, except for the occasional curse when the ice made a particularly loud cracking noise.  It seemed we were all jumpy.  A few feet from shore, the ice was thinning and it gave way under the weight of the grey.  I didn’t even have time to scream and my gag prevented it anyhow.  Down we plunged into the numbing St. Lawrence.  I don’t know how, but I managed to hold onto the grey’s pommel and reins and somehow the horse was able to swim to shore.  There she struggle up the bank and I was plucked off her back shivering and dripping.  I was prodded up the embankment.  My clothes were sodden and felt like they were freezing to my body.  My boots iced up more and more with each step.  Finally, we reached a small log home, where the door was opened quickly and I was pushed right in.

   Bourke seemed to be in command, as he told the O’Meara’s to look after the horses, especially the shuddering grey.  

   “Hey,who’s this here lad?” asked a harsh voiced man with a foul smelling pipe in his teeth.  “Ya never told me about no lad.”

   “It’s the O’Meara’s sister.  There’s been a change in plan, Harry.  She overheard us talkin’ so her she is.”

   “If she’s their sister, why is she all trussed up?” asked Harry suspiciously.

   “She don’t agree with their politic, is why.  She’s a bloody royalist,” said the American.  “She’ll need warmin’ up after her swim in the river.”

     “Oh my heavens, Harry, don’t keep her standing and shivering there.  Come here, girl.  I’ll take care of you.”

   Harry with the pipe had a wife who clucked sympathetically and bustled me off behind a thick cloth curtain to change out of my wet clothes.  She gave me a drink of sweet brandy to drink.  I gagged on the fire of it as it burned down my throat.  She untied my hands and helped me out of my father’s wet coat, his trousers and my icy petticoat.  I wanted to tell her the true nature of my abduction, but my teeth were chattering.  She rubbed me down with a rough towel and brought me one of her own woolen robes to slip into.  Then she sat me down in front of the warm hearth with a bowl of hot stew.

    The American, Bourke, I heard his name mentioned, didn’t stay long enough to eat.  

    “I’m going ahead to Ogdensburgh ta meet with the Major.  The O’Meara’s will stay with the horses in the stable.  They will be takin’ their sister ta the Major tomorrow.  Just keep her hands tied and bed her on the cot near the hearth.  Then she won’t make no trouble.”

    Harry’s wife put some food in a satchel for Bourke and he left.  After I had eaten my fill, Mrs. Harry apologized and re-tied my hands, tucking me into bed on the hearthside cot.  She muttered to her husband about how she didn’t approve of my treatment, but go no satisfactory agreement from him.  I did not sleep well.

    The candle is guttering down and dusk has come.  I will finish this another day soon.

Lovingly, Adeline

Adeline’s Journal Part 6 (December 1812)




Adeline’s Journal Part 6       – a fictional account of a young woman during the War of 1812


Saturday, December 5, 1812

Winter has made its appearance.  Yesterday we awoke to a rime of frost on the inside wall of our bedroom and a fine dusting of white on the ground outside.  Although everything looked like an enchanted land, you can be certain that Evvy and I did not spend long admiring it.  We dressed quickly to do our chores.  We have heavy woolen stockings and warm woolen cloaks to put on over our day dresses and pinafores.  Mother also knitted us some cosy woolen mitts and hats, God bless her.  I knit too, of course, but I must admit, I’m not as adept at the skill as is Evvy.  She seems to have inherited all of Mother’s homemaking ways.  I’m more bookish, Father says, but I am starved for the books to show it.  I am good at figures though, and Father says I would make an excellent shopkeeper.

When I went out to the chicken coup the hens were all squatting on their nests with their heads tucked under their wings because of the cold.  It was hard to push them off their nests to get the eggs.  Henry was watering and feeding the horses and Evvy carried wood into the house for the hearth.  We’ve had to double-up on chores since William and Elizabeth were married.  Father has a miserable case of rheumatism, but keeps going in spit of it.  Mother warms his stockings and shirt near the fire so that it is warm when he puts it on and that seems to help and so does the willow tea.  

It was good to come back into the house and warm our toes by the fire.  Henry said that there was ise in the water trough and no doubt, there was ice on the pond as well, but it won’t be thick enough to be walked on for some time yet.

Mother gave us breakfast, delicious biscuits, porridge and hot tea.  Then she urged us to leave for our visit to Elizabeth so that we would be back before the late afternoon.  Father said we needn’t rush  as he would drive us there in the wagon and bring us back. We have a sleigh but there is not enough snow yet for it.  

Elisabeth and William were glad to see us and brought us all inside for tea and some delicious bread with raspberry jam.  William told us that Robert and Arthur Randal had come to visit the day before and brought news that plans for the building of the blockhouse and stockade were complete.  More soldiers will be arriving in Prescott soon and building will begin on the fortifications in earnest in the new year.  In the meantime, the soldiers, including Charles Houghton, are housed fairly comfortably in one of the two stone buildings in Prescott, but things would become a bit more uncomfortable with more men to accommodate.  

William had set up some wooden boards as targets for us to practice our shooting.  My aim has improved and this time I actually hit two of the boards and nicked the top corner of the third. Father was very pleased and said I had the makings of a true huntress Diana.  Of course, he was teasing me, but he also said that it would be the last lesson as we need to save gunpowder for actual warfare.  Elizabeth’s face drained of colour when he said it and I thought she was going to collapse, but William dashed over to her and steadied her as she walked back to the cabin.

One inside, we all had another round of tea and Elizabeth apologized for being so silly.  

“I just dread when William must go away,” she said in a quavering voice. “Do you think, Father Price, that I could come and stay with Mother Price, Henry and the girls now and then?”

Of course, you may, my dear Elizabeth, but I have also been taking to William and I have suggested that perhaps Adeline might stay with you from time to time so that you wouldn’t be so lonely here.  What do you think of that?”

I was delighted by the idea although I wondered what Mother would say.  Elizabeth was just as pleased as I at the suggestion and we shared an affectionate hug.  It was snowing again as Father drove us home.

Thursday, December 17, 1812

Father and William have been away for a fortnight, as a larger contingent of American soldiers has moved into the town of Ogdensburg and their boats have been going up and down the St. Lawrence. It won’t be long now before the river will become impassible because of ice.  The open water between the two banks is narrowing already in the cold. Snow is piling up around William and Elizabeth’s cabin, although Elizabeth and I have kept the path to the woodpile, privy and barn clear by shoveling each day.  I have been staying with Elizabeth a week Monday past.  Between the two of us there has grown a very close comradeship and we are more like real sisters now than friends.  I had confided in her about my admiration for Charles Houghton and she  told me that she suspects she may be with child.  I urged her to tell Mother but she said that because it is her first experience she might very well be mistaken.  Elizabeth is very shy.  Even so, I have taken on the heavier chores.  I felt she should talk to Mrs. Randal who attends all the births hereabouts.

Today, Arthur appeared at the barn.  He startled me by coming in quietly while I was putting clean straw in the cow’s stall and then taking the pitch fork out of my hands.

This isn’t a chore for a woman,” he said.

I’m not a lady of the manor,” I retorted, “I’ve been doing this since I could hold the pitchfork!”

“Well, you shouldn’t have had to,” he replied as he easily finished the job and pushed Gertrude back into her stall.

Someone has to do the chores the men aren’t here to do.”

“Robert and I are here today to check in on you and Missus Price, so we can take over for the moment.  Your brother asked us to keep an eye on you.”

That was thoughtful of him, but not really necessary.” I spluttered as I picked up the bucket to get water from the barrel for Gertrude’s trough.”

Arthur grabbed my wrist and muttered, “What is wrong with you, Adeline?  You act as if I was poison lately!”

I just don’t like to be man-handled, Arthur,”  I said pushing him away, trying to put the cow between us.

It’s Houghton.  I know you are sweet on him!”  Arthur said accusingly.  “But he’s a liar, you know.  He has a girl back in England.”

I could feel my face heating up so I turned my back on Arthur and walked away.

Just ask Robert.”  Arthur called after me.  “Robert saw her picture in his camp chest.”

I kept walking toward the cabin.  My head was pounding and I wanted nothing more to do with Arthur Randal.  Robert was chopping wood behind the cabin.  I could hear him but but couldn’t see him, so fortunately I needn’t speak to him.  I pushed open the cabin door and almost stumbled over Elizabeth who was stretched out on the floor.

Elizabeth, what is wrong?” I cried, lifting her head.

I think that I fainted,” she said weakly. “I just came back from the privy and my knees just…”

At that moment Robert was trying to push the door open, a load of kindling in his arms.

Robert, Elizabeth fainted.  Can you help me get her into her bed?” I moved away from the door so that he could open it more easily and I heard him drop the wood outside.

He stepped inside and we two helped Elizabeth over the bed, but as we began to help her into it, I noticed blood on her skirt.

Robert, I think we might need your mother,” I said and he nodded.

I will send Arthur to get her right away,” he said and stepped outside to find his brother.

Elizabeth clutched my hand and protested, “Oh no, Adeline, please tell Mr. Randal not to bother.  I’m sure I am not ill, just a bit tired.  Please, they mustn’t bother her.”

It’s no bother at all,” Robert reassured her as he re-entered the cabin, this time with the wood.  He stoked the fire in the hearth.  ” Mother is just pining for someone other than Cousin Constance Blaine and Father to talk to .  She will happily oblige, I promise you.”

And come she did, ushering her two sons out to the barn while she assessed the situation.  She shook off her Irish cloak and bonnet and then sat down beside the bed to talk quietly to Elizabeth while I busied myself at the hearth.

After a few moments she came over to me  and  bade me make tea for us.  

” Just add this to Elizabeth’s cup,” she said handing me a small packet.  ” It’s to help Elizabeth sleep after we get her into warm night clothes and have a little chat.”

Regina Randal is a round little sprite of a woman who’s head barely comes to my shoulder, but she has a businesslike presence that is pleasant, but firm so that one always does whatever she asks without question.  I prepared the tea, we helped Elizabeth into her nightclothes and then we sat down beside the bed.

Mrs. Randal took Elizabeth’s hand in hers gently.  She smoothed her hair back and smiled.  

Thee has no temperature, so that’s a good thing.  My dear, thee has had a sad loss that is common to young women just married, but thee and William will have many more bairns in the coming years.  Thy wee child was not far along so thee will recover quickly.  Just rest now and I’ll be in to check on thee tomorrow. “

She patted Elizabeth’s hand as two large tears slid down my sister-in-law’s cheeks.  I squeezed her other hand.  How sad for Elizabeth! She begged us both not to tell my brother.  I didn’t think it was right but then it wasn’t my secret to tell so I promised.

After Mrs. Randal and her sons left, I prepared a meal for Elizabeth and myself.  Elizabeth gulped down some broth, but had no appetite for anything else.  She was soon asleep and I wondered what would have happened had I not been there with her and the Randals hadn’t been there to help.  



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