Adeline’s Journal: Summer 1813

regency_dance_bwAdeline’s Journal: A Fictional Account of a Young Woman’s Life During the War of 1812

© Mollie Pearce McKibbon

Thistledown Farm         Sunday, July 4, 1813

Dear Janetta, 

Thank goodness for Sabbath.  I am so fatigued today, my back hurts and my feet ache. 

Father has fully recovered from his wound and is therefore now back at the fort, so the hay cutting has all been left to Henry, Mother, Evvy and me.

Elizabeth and William have been back at their farm since June, when William returned wounded from the attack on Sackett’s Harbour.   Henry goes to their farm when he can, which hasn’t been too often, given the extra work we have here now.  

William has been unable to work the land, so our crops are even more important as we will be sharing them.  Providentially, we will probably have a double crop of hay this year, but it is good that Elizabeth has been able to put in a vegetable garden.  

Of course, everybody has been faced with the same difficulties because of the war with the Americans.  We are fortunate not to have lost family members, as some others have, not just to wounds but to grave illnesses.  Arthur Randall had to return home from duty very ill with fever.  He was thankfully, nursed back to health by his mother, but many others were not as blessed. Charles wrote me to say that two of his good friends in the troop died from dysentery and another is sick with mumps.  Of course, the air at the barracks is often fetid in the heat.  It must be unhealthy. 

I am very relieved to know that Father and Charles have been mostly out on patrol along the St. Lawrence in the fresh air.  Charles has a good friend in the Algonquian tribe, White Wolf who patrols with him.  White Wolf ‘s family and tribe have not had these illnesses, but Charles once told me that measles have been known to be deadly in the past.  It is very hard for little children, like our dear late Virginia, to fight off disease. Mother continues to mourn her passing every spring and no doubt every day.  

My goodness, I am becoming most melancholy. On a cheerier note, Mr. Randall came by with Robert this morning to deliver a letter to mother from father and one to me from Charles.  Charles has informed me that Father and he have spoken and Father now approves of our friendship. I am so happy that this is so.  I am very fond of Charles and do enjoy every opportunity that we have together and every letter he sends me.

I was pleased to be able to talk to Robert and thank him for rescuing me from the battle in Ogdensburg.  He insisted that it was what any soldier would have done for another, but I think he was being most modest.  He said that he wasn’t sure who I was until he saw my strawberry blond braids.  That was his description, Janetta.  I’ve only ever thought of my hair as too dark to be blond and too pale to be auburn.  I still wish my hair was black and curly like your’s.  Ah well, I will simply have to put my hair up in rags each night forever to have any kind of ringlets.  Evvy says I should use a curling iron, but frankly I don’t trust myself not to burn the hair off my head.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, Robert’s drawings.  He is quite an artist, you know.  He was working away on a drawing this morning while he and his father waited for Mother to write a reply to Father’s letter.  At first, he didn’t want me to see it, but I wheedled away at him until he showed it to me.  It was the most exquisite drawing of a little chipmunk that lives in our woodpile.  He said that I might keep it and so now it sits here on our desk.  I will have to find some way to display it properly.

Always yours,


Sunday, July 24,1813


Dear Janetta,

I am so happy I could burst!  Today we had an unexpected visitor – Charles, himself.  He had received special permission to call upon us with a big surprise.  He has been given the rank of Sergeant and a pay raise comes with it.  So now he is Sergeant Charles Houghton.  

Charles arrived while I was in the henhouse and Evvy called me to come to the house.  I must have looked quite a sight with my hair covered in hen feathers and straw, a grapevine basket over my arm filled with  dirty eggs.  I didn’t see Charles at first, as he had taken off his red jacket and was standing in the shadow of the little stone porch Father had made.  I almost dropped the basket of eggs when he swooped me up in an embrace.  I’m sure that I turned as red as his jacket.

“Charles!” I cried,”Everyone must be watching.”

“Oh, Adeline, I didn’t mean to startle you,” Charles stammered. “I am just so happy to see you, Sweetheart!”

Sweetheart?  My head was buzzing with delighted confusion and my heart thudding like the fort drum.  Had Charles just called me Sweetheart in front of my family who were surely within earshot?

Charles took the grapevine basket off my arm and set it down carefully and took both my filthy hands in his.  His eyes, when I dared to look up, were shining and on his face was a tender, but tentative smile.  

“Will you walk with me awhile, Adeline?”

“I really should wash and change, Charles, “ I pleaded.  “I ‘m not fit to be seen.”

“ If you do not come with me just as you are, I shall surely die on the spot from anxiety.”

Mutely, I allowed Charles to hand in the basket of eggs to Evvy who was having a very hard time trying not to giggle.

We walked over to the well where there is a bench and I insisted on washing my hands.  Before I could adequately dry them on my apron, Charles captured them again.  He sat me down on the bench and then began to pace.  My heart was thundering so hard in my chest, I was trembling.  

“ I have thought over what I should say to you, a thousand times,” Charles said quietly, “but I can’t remember anything but this- I love you desperately, Adeline Price, and with your parent’s permission…”

Charles knelt on both knees before me.

“With your parent’s permission,” he repeated, “ I am putting my heart and future into your hands.  Will you honour me by becoming my wife?”

Janetta, I truly thought my heart had stopped.  I must have been in shock, because suddenly Charles squeezed my hands and said, in the most boyish voice, “You can take your time to answer, Adeline.  I don’t expect…”

I didn’t allow the dear man to finish, Janetta.  I leaned in to him and kissed him and answered, “ Certainly, I will marry you, Charles.  I can’t imagine a life with any other.”

At this point, Mother, Henry, and Evvy who had been watching from the porch, rushed over to embrace us both and celebrate our betrothal.

I still cannot believe it, Janetta, but at the end of August, I will marry Sergeant Charles Houghton and  begin the rest of my life.



Monday, August 9,   1813


Dear Janetta, 

This summer is going by so swiftly, that I have had barely time to think.  We are pickling beans as soon as we pick them and what we don’t pickle we dry.  Charles and I haven’t seen each other since he proposed, but we keep in touch with letters back and forth.  We have decided to be married quietly with no celebration, because of the instability of wartime.  Father and Mother would prefer us to wait until after the conflict is resolved, but Charles and I don’t want a long betrothal.  We have received permission from Lt. Colonel MacDonell to be married. It will be at the blue church with only my family and Charles’ best friend, John, as witnesses.  Afterward, we will travel back to Thistledown Farm for a family dinner and then Charles and I will spend a night at William and Elizabeth’s cabin alone.  

We can not live at the unfinished fort barracks so Father is giving us a piece of property  close to Johnstown as a wedding gift.  Our cabin will  be built there by Father, Henry, Charles, and the Randalls whenever they have an opportunity.  I expect I will have to live at home for a while as the cabin is not likely to be finished by autumn.  It would be wonderful to think that there will be no further attacks from our southern neighbours, but it isn’t likely so I expect there will be little time for building. 

I have visited the property with Mr. Randall so that I could choose a pretty aspect for our home and show him where I would like the hen house and pig sty to be.  We will have five acres, partly treed and three acres of rolling meadow.  There is a creek running through it and a small blueberry bog.  We won’t have a barn right away, but Mr. Randall has promised me a lean-to stable for our horse and space for a cow.  Now I am glad that I spent time making linens and a quilt for our bed.  Mother has promised us  ticks and mattress.  Evvy and I are gathering down for the ticks.  The kitchen will take more time, as we need an iron kettle, spoons and bread pans, not to forget crockery and utensils.

I despaired of a wedding dress, until Mother promised that she would makeover her maroon silk gown, and she thinks there is enough material for her to make a short cape as well.

With much excitement,




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.

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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 (January – March 1813)

silohuette of Ada Mae

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

January 23, 1813

Thistledown Farm, Edwardsburgh Township

Dear Janetta,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lovingly, Adeline 

February 13, 1813

Dear Janetta,

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

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

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

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

Faithfully, Adeline

February 15, 1813

Dear Janetta,

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

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

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

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

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

Your friend, Adeline

February 16, 1813

Dear Janetta,

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


The following excerpts are from Evaline Price’s Journal:

February 20, 1813

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

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

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

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

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

Sadly, Evvy

March 3, 1813

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

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

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


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.  



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

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