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

Tuesday, July 18. 1815



silohuette of Ada Mae

Dear Janetta,

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

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

Thursday, July 20, 1815medicine bottles

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

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

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

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

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

So am I.


Adeline’s 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: A Fictional Account of the War of 1812

Adeline Price

Author’s Note:

I wanted to find a way to recount the facts about the War of 1812 without just writing down the facts.  I thought it might be fun to write a fictional diary from the point of view of a young woman of that era.  The story was included in s.m.i.l.e. Magazine, a magazine put together for the entertainment of nursing home, senior’s residences and hospice patients.  This is the first installment.

Adeline’s Journal  

(Copyright 2012 by Mollie Pearce McKibbon)

May 20, 1812, Thistledown Farm in Grenville County

Dear Janetta,

Mother says that I should write “dear journal” but it seems stranger to write to an object than to my dear friend, so I have named you Janetta after my best friend back in England.  Janetta is a very pretty girl with long black ringlets that she never has to wrap in rags like I do, and large lovely eyes as blue as the cornflowers here in our meadows.  She and I were inseparable back in Wendover and I cried a great deal when I learned we were going to pioneer here in Upper Canada.

Father wanted me to stat writing my journal the day we left England, but my heart was to sore to put my mind to it.  Now he insists that I record my experiences and adventures to improve my penmanship and composition.  Frankly, this quill is much in need of repair or replacement and makes big blotches no matter how often I use the blotting paper.  Whenever I write a letter I am left with spots of india ink all over my hands and even on my pinafore.

We came over from Brighton on the “Merry Gale” in 1805.  I was only nine years old and very seasick.  There were 212 of us on board, all from Buckinghamshire and only 203 arrived in Montreal.  Sadly, nine people died on the voyage, mostly babies and small children, but two of them were elderly, a maiden aunt of mine and an old gentleman who was coming to join his son and daughter-in-law on their new farm.   Aunt Cicely was sixty-two and suffered greatly from gout, so at least she is no longer in pain.  She never would have stood the trip to Bytown from Montreal.  From Bytown we traveled by horse and cart over the most treacherous route ( I wouldn’t call it a road by any means) until we reached our destination north of the St. Lawrence River.  Father’s older brother had received 100 acres for military service during the American Rebellion.  When Uncle Andrew died of yellow fever in 1802, my father inherited it because Uncle Andrew had no immediate heirs. Father came here a hear before Mother, my brothers William and Henry, Evvy and I, to ready the house – actually build a proper house, as Uncle Andrew had been living in a very small log cabin.

When we arrived, Father and a neighbour had just finished the roof of our cabin.  We lived in that cabin for four years and then Father and William built us the lovely stone house we have now.  It doesn’t have thatch on the roof like our home in England, the wooden roof is tarred and shingled and keeps us dry.

William is the oldest of our family.  I am sixteen and he is three years older.  He is courting a young woman on a farm north of here in the next township.  Her name is Elizabeth and she is somewhat plain, but she sews and knits wonderfully.  Mother says that her conversation is very genteel and she has a sweet disposition.

My sister, Evaline, is twelve and my brother, Henry eight (almost nine).  Sadly, our little sister Virginia, was just three years old when she caught whooping cough in 1809.  She was the first burial in our cemetery near the apple orchard.

There is a great deal to do on our farm.  It is mostly forested.  It takes Father and William days to clear one field of trees and stumps and our two horses can only plow when the field has been somewhat cleared of rocks.  Of course, things go much more quickly when our neighbour’s two oldest sons come to help.  We have to help each other or no one would be able to plant a crop.

Robert and Arthur Randall are helpful, but they both think ,because I am the nearest girl of marriageable age that they are both courting me as well as helping Father.  Nothing could be further from my mind.  They are strong, but roughly mannered.  Father tells me to take my time getting engaged, but Mother thinks  I am too particular.

Evaline makes fun of Robert and Arthur, especially when they both come calling at the same time, because of course, they have just the one farm cart to share.  They always come calling on the Sabbath which interrupts our quiet afternoon and it sets my teeth on edge the way they jostle each other to sit near me on the settle.

It is difficult to meet good prospective husbands when we are so far from polite society. Mother says that if we were still in Wendover there would be fairs and market days that would bring suitable young men into town, but out here we have to rely on our neighbours and their kin for prospective husbands.  I just dread the thought that I might be fated to marry Robert or Arthur.  William teases me constantly by calling me “Mistress Randall”.  Unfortunately, his sweetheart, Elizabeth, has only two sisters, no brothers, or I would perhaps have more choice.  

In the meantime, I am sewing whatever I can whenever I can for my bridal trunk.  I have made two sets of sheets, four pillow cases and I am starting to work on patches for a quilt.  Mother says that Father will set up a quilt frame in our parlour when all the blocks are ready and we will invite tour lady neighbours in for a quilting bee.  

Father says that there are rumours of unrest along the border with the United States .  The natives have been complaining about the numbers of settlers moving into their territory around Lake Michigan.  He speaks about a leader called Tecumseh, who is trying to unite the tribes there.  There have been raids on the settlements.

Evidently, the army is planning to add more soldiers to Fort Wellington so we will be seeing more of our countrymen in the area in the days to come.  Mother doesn’t like to hear Father speaking of border problems.  She is worried that William would be eager to enlist.  She remembers the anguish that Grandma went through when both my maternal uncles were pressed into the navy.  Well, Old Boney is causing trouble again and Father thinks the Old Country is too busy with him to bother much about what is happening over here.  I hope he is wrong.

In the meantime, Spring is here and we are swatting mosquitoes and black flies again.  They do make our nights miserable.  The only thing we can do is swat as many as we can after the door is closed and before our candle is blown out.  Then Evvy and I jump under the covers on our bed for protection.

Father, William and Henry are planting cereal crops of oats and barley.  When the hay is high enough we will all be needed to cut it and stook it.  Father says we may even get enough good weather this summer to take off two lots of hay.  Evvy and I are busy helping Mother clean out the house, wash the winter laundry, clean the chicken coop, make tallow candles, and do the mending.  We are also planting the kitchen garden with carrots, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, onions and beans.  Life is so full of chores we hardly have time for lessons, but every night, Mother gets us to read from the Bible and write paragraphs from the book she has on home remedies.  Her father taught her to read and write and she wants to make sure that her children are not ignorant.  She says it will improve our penmanship, spelling and teach us how to treat illnesses at the same time.  I now know how to make about ten different poultices for every kind of injury and illness, but baking a good loaf of bread without burning it seems beyond my powers.

So you see, Janetta, I had better take my leisure choosing a suitor because I will need all the time I can to learn what a bride must know about caring for a household.

Farewell for now, Janetta.  Mother is calling Evvy and me to go fetch Molly, our milk cow.  

Your’s truly,

Adeline Price.

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