Adeline’s Journal Part 6 (December 1812)

 

 

 

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

regency-belle

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.  

Sadly,

Adeline

Adeline’s Journal Part 3- July to September 1812

ImageA fictional account of a young woman’s life during the War of 1812.

Copyright 2012 Mollie Pearce McKibbon

July 19,1812

Thistledown Farm, Grenville County

Dear Janetta,

I barely have time to catch my breath.  Pioneering is not for the frail of body.  Evvy, Mother and I have been hard at it every day.  Yesterday we made candles and they are stacked in bundles of ten in the root cellar as it is the coolest spot in which to keep them.  Now we are in the midst of making bars of soap and that is hot work, so Mother told us to rest at noon when the sun is the highest.  

We have just fed Father, William and Henry and have had our own lunch.  We had slices of bread, some of our own new cheese and chunks of the venison from the stag Father killed last week.  The poor thing had tried to jump the fence around our vegetable garden and somehow caught a hoof.  I felt so badly for the poor creature, but he did make a delicious roast.

Last week Father drove the wagon to Prescott and I went with him to keep him company.  The road isn’t much more than a trail worn down by many wagons that travel this way.  We spent a good deal of the time pushing back encroaching tree branches and swatting the persistent mosquitos.  It was a true relief to come to the better-traveled main thoroughfare.  

Fort Wellington is in the process of being constructed.  It doesn’t look like much presently, just two buildings around which the soldiers are erecting a stockade.  The two buildings belong to Colonel Jessup who has given them to the army.  The buildings are on the highest point of land here about, so Father tells me, so we can look across the St. Lawrence River and see Ogdensburg on the American side.  It looks very near.  

You wouldn’t consider Prescott much of a town, Janetta.  At the moment it is mostly Col. Jessup’s home and orchard with one or two more cabins, but more and more people are arriving every day.  The area has been surveyed for town lots.  Prescott was named by Col. Jessup for General Robert Prescott, who was the colony’s General-in-chief until 1807.  It is on the forwarding route for shipments from Montreal and New York state.  There are dangerous rapids in the St. Lawrence and Prescott is at the head of the rapids.  The dress material Mother ordered had arrived, having traveled twelve days by bateau from Montreal.    Father had ordered some seed and William some nails and oiled cloth for the windows of the cabin.  We will be returning home with a full wagon.

Father had arranged for us to stay overnight with Colonel and Mrs. Jessup.  Col. Jessup knew Uncle Andrew as he was one of his rangers during the Revolutionary War in 1776.  It was very kind of the Jessups and so I was introduced to their daughter, who proved to be a very amusing companion.  She, in turn, introduced me to her brother, Edward, who was entertaining two of the soldiers from the fort.  

One of the soldiers, Cpl. Houghton, was quick to make my acquaintance as he was from Buckinghamshire also.  He asked Father about our relatives and we discovered we had a mutual friend in Mr. West, the vicar in Wendover.  Cpl. Houghton asked Father if he could visit our family in the next week or two.

When we returned home, Mother was very interested to hear about our meeting with Cpl.  Houghton, as she believes that she met his mother back in Wendover at one of the church socials.  I suspect she is also speculating about the purpose of Cpl. Houghton’s visit and wants to see if he is a potential suitor for me.  Perhaps he is interested in furthering our acquaintance.  We shall see.  In the meanwhile, I must see if the soap is ready to be cut into bars.  

Your friend, Adeline

August 8, 1812

Dear Janetta,

I am just writing a brief note to mention that Cpl. Houghton rode up from Ft. Wellington to visit us today.  Henry spotted his red uniform coming through the woods and warned us just in time for us to take off our work pinafores and straighten our hair.  Evvy kept elbowing me and giggling which was truly an embarrassment, while Cpl. Houghton introduced himself to Mother.  Father was away helping William with pulling stumps.  

We all sat outside in the shade on the log benches that Father and William had made.  Evvy brought out a pot of blueberry tea and some biscuits .  We talked about Buckinghamshire, Fort Wellington and the possibility of invasion.  Cpl. Houghton addressed most of his conversation to Mother, but he kept glancing in my direction and smiling which made me blush and stammer.  I was so nervous all I could think of was how dowdy I must look in my work dress.  When Cpl. Houghton rose to leave, I jumped up also and we bumped heads.  He apologized profusely, but I know he was just being a gentleman, because it was honestly my fault for being so skittish.

Cpl. Houghton, or Charles, as he insists we call him, asked Mother permission to return again at a future date.  She  agreed, but he couldn’t be specific as it entirely depended on the progress of the fort and the possibility of conflict.  Oh, I do hope it is soon, although Evvy kept giggling every time she looked my way at supper.  

Fondly yours, Adeline

Sept. 16, 1812

Dear Janetta,

News comes to us slowly here in Upper Canada, but come it does.  While we were all so safely content in our ignorance here in Grenville County, our fellow settlers were victims of invasion and raiding in the west.  American soldiers under the command of a General Hull invaded Sandwich, a town across from Detroit on the St. Clair River.  I only know this because Charles, Cpl. Houghton,  drew a small sketch to show us, all the while apologizing for his lack of mapping skills.  He said that the resident ought to have expected it as it is a very strategic area.  This remark of his almost caused a rift between us, as I retorted angrily that the residents of Sandwich probably didn’t expect their good neighbours to turn against them, just as we don’t expect our neighbours in Ogdensburg to attack us.  We have been trading with them for years and some of our friends have relatives in that town.

Charles was immediately sorry for being “so blunt”.  He replied that he understood how we felt but we needed to be wary because we are at war.

The good news was that our soldiers under the command of Capt.  Charles Roberts had taken over the American Fort Michillmackinac on Lake Huron.  That all happened in July.

In August, Ft. Dearborn fell to the native warriors and our brave General Issaac Brock and Tecumseh had taken Detroit.  Charles says that the army at Ft. Wellington is prepared to fight whatever threat may come next and they fully expect the American army to respond somewhere else soon.  Of course, Arthur Randall, who seems to show up more often these days, boasts that he and the rest of the local militia don’t need help from “redcoats” to beat those “Yankees”.  I believe he becomes more bombastic every time I see him, especially if Charles is here too.  I don’t believe that he and Charles would ever come to blows, but he is surely trying my patience.  

William’s cabin bee was on a wonderful sunny day two weeks ago.  Fifteen men answered the call to help erecting the barn and the cabin and by the time we women arrived by cart with the food, they had made a table from a slab of wood across two stumps.  We set up a campfire to warm the tea and set out a feast indeed.  Thank goodness, I didn’t burn my bread this time, because Charles had come with his friend, John Thompson to lend a hand.  I wouldn’t like to have him think I couldn’t even bake bread.

There were so many good things to eat, brought by our lady neighbours, that we all found spots in the shade to sit down and share a meal.  Father said the blessing and Mother thanked everyone for coming.  William was simply overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity of everyone towards Elizabeth and him.

Evvy and I were about to join Mother and Father when I spotted Arthur and Robert heading towards us.  That very moment, Charles and John waved to us to join them under a large pine tree.  They had set the food on a stump and provided their red jackets for us to sit upon.  We had a lovely time admiring the view that Elizabeth and William would see from their front door and speculating about what was in the delicious food we were eating.  Just as we were relaxing and laughing about the antics of the small children, Arthur intruded to tell me that Mother wanted my help in cleaning up.  As I could see Mother was in no hurry to leave, I asked Evvy to find out what she wanted us to do.  Arthur muttered,”So that’s what it’s like!”, turned red ands stalked away.  

Evvy came back to say that Mother was just waiting for Father and William to wake up from their naps and hitch up our two old oxen to the cart. Charles and John offered to hitch up the cart for us and even escort us back to the house as they had to leave for the fort.  Mother thanked them politely and told them to please go on ahead so that they would be back in Prescott before dark.  

It was night time when Father and William returned from the building bee.  William was excited to have a cabin with only the finishing touches to add and a barn that would only need a few more days work to complete.  Father couldn’t stop exclaiming about all the wonderful help our friends had provided and Mother looked tired, but pleased.  All our baking and cooking for that day was worth it.

The only disturbing moment of a pleasant day was when William took me aside and asked me what I had said to make Arthur so upset.  I honestly replied that I didn’t know.  William then warned me not to take Charles’ attention too seriously as he was only a corporal and might simply be flirting with a pretty girl.  

So Janetta, perhaps that is all that it is.

Lovingly, Adeline

Adeline’s Journal Part 2: Fictional Account of the War of 1812

Copyright 2012 by Mollie Pearce McKibbon

Dear Janetta, 

I haven’t been able to add anything to my journal until now.  We have been so busy.  It is the end of June and many things have happened since I last took my pen in hand.  First of all, Elizabeth and William are betrothed to be wed at harvest time.  William is working part time on clearing the land for their cabin on the north corner of our acreage.  Father has given them ten acres to put up a house and a barn.  Most of those acres are treed, so William comes home dreadfully tired.  When he has cleared a space, there will be a cabin and barn raising bee.

This will be our first family wedding here in Upper Canada.  Evvy and I are so excited.  Mother has ordered some fine spun cotton dimity for our new dresses.  Father thinks it is a terrible waste of money  and that our best Sabbath dresses are quite presentable, but Mother told him that we are quickly out-growing our clothing, which is quite true.  My summer shifts barely cover my ankles and Evvy has worn through the elbows of her summer jacket.  

The biggest news of all is that the president of the United States has declared war on Britain and so William has joined the militia, much against Mother’s wishes.  Father has agreed to it.  He says that William is quite old enough to bear arms if necessary and that he himself would be severely chastised by the neighbours if he was seen to be holding back his able-bodied son.  Mother just shakes her head  sadly and sheds a tear for Elizabeth.

Evvy and I are kept busy looking after the eider ducks and the geese.  We had twelve ducks but a fox got two of them and Mother is determined not to lose any more.  She has been saving eider down for quite some time to make pillows for my bridal trunk, but now she has decided to give two fluffy pillows to Elizabeth and William instead.  I don’t mind.  The way things have been lately, I don’t expect to marry for some time hence.

Robert and Arthur Randall have both enlisted and war is all they talk about lately.  Whenever they come by to visit it is to talk to William about drills, and gun powder and making musket balls.  I might just as well be a timepiece on the mantle or a plant on the window sill for all the attention they pay me now.

Evvy and I are constantly reminded by Mother to wear our straw hats over our cotton bonnets to keep the sun off our faces.  She is very worried that we will get sunburnt and our skin will dry out which she says is very unattractive. The problem is that our straw hats are constantly blowing off in the wind no matter how many hat pins we stick into them.  Have you ever tried to run after a duck or a goose in a petticoat with one hand holding your hat down on your head?  It is no easy task. Men have it so much easier in their trousers.

Whoever first described a goose as “silly” certainly had it to rights.  They are forever wandering off and getting themselves into ridiculous situations.  I tried to rescue a goose yesterday that was completely mired in muck.  All it did was flap its wings at me and snap its bill.  I got covered in mud head to toe, which of course, Arthur witnessed.  He found it very droll and laughed heartily.  I was not amused, especially as the object of my attempted salvation, extracted herself from the mud and waddled off, leaving me plop in the puddle.  Arthur helped me up, guffawing the whole time and it was more than I could do not to slap his insolent face!  Why didn’t he help me before I got so dirty?  He is no gentleman!

You know, if there were enough geese with a sense of direction, you could arm the whole countryside with them and we’d never need to shoot a musket.  We could just set the whole gaggle of them squawking, flapping and biting at the enemy.  Oh, I know that I’m just being as silly as a goose myself, but I am so tired of herding them out of the garden and away from poor Molly, our cow.  I’m also furious at Arthur for laughing at me!

Mother says that I must control my temper and learn patience or no man will want me for a wife.  Father just smiles and tells me that I should know better than to challenge a goose having a mud bath.

Good night, Janetta.  Evvy and I must go wash up before bedtime.  Mother doesn’t like it, but now Father and William sleep with their muskets under their beds.

Fondly, Adeline

Author’s Note:  I would love some feedback about this journal.  Please add a comment after reading it. Thank you.  – Mollie