Resurrected Fragments from the Graves of Our Fathers
Wouldn't Give up the Ship
From the Daily British Whig Jan 6 1873
It is well known that the chief operations of the war of 1812 centred around Lake Ontario. Both sides, aware of the advantages to be obtained by commanding this source of communication and supply, made strenuous efforts to have the ascendancy. The show of defence offered by the Canadians on the western lakes was merely nominal, owing to the absence of any strategic openings in that vicinity by which the enemy might gain a dangerous foothold in the country. That section of our Province bordering on lakes Erie, Huron, &c., was at that time but sparsely settled, and it was not likely the Americans cared much to invade a dense wilderness. But from the Niagara peninsula eastward, there were different interests at stake, the principal wealth and resources of the country being exposed, and the most prominent cities and towns endangered. Those who directed our destiny during these years of trouble were conscious of all this, and concentrated the main strength of the available force, both land and marine, at this quarter. But the wily foe was equally as determined in this respect, and put forth every effort to meet, and if possible to defeat the opposing influence. With the exception of a limited period during the summer of 18--, when Toronto (then York) was captured and burned, and the whole Niagara frontier overrun, our cause continually triumphed on Lake Ontario. Kingston was then, as now, our chief naval station, and here was collected whatever seemed likely to fall into the hands of the enemy. Sackett's Harbor, nearly opposite, was the American rendezvous, and, therefore, the opposing forces were constantly in menacing proximity.
It was during the most pressing period of this hostile rivalry that the incident occurred which we have chosen for the substance of this sketch. There may be those still living who witnessed the affair, as the writer has frequently heard it mentioned by the survivors of our last struggle with the United States. A small schooner, heavily laden with merchandize and other valuable commodities, was carefully working her way down the lake, closely hugging the north shore for greater safety. The American armed vessels were known to be cruising in the eastern part of the lake, and extra precaution was taken to guard against surprise and capture. The little "merchantman" was a fast sailor, and her crew placed much confidence in her ability to keep out of harm's reach if timely notice was given of approaching danger. All went well until they reached the "Ducks," which happened just before morning, with the wind blowing lightly from the S.W. Here they were much surprised to discover a large vessel to windward, and bearing down upon them under a full spread of canvas. At first they supposed it to be the Royal George out looking after chase. They began to feel jolly over the prospects of having so powerful an escort to take them through the most dangerous part of the route. But as the light increased, and their visitor became more distinct, a sudden change came over "the spirit of their dream," for there could be no mistaking "the cut of her jib," as the sailors say. Defiantly floating from her main peak was the "stars and Bars," instead of the old "Union Jack," as they expected, and what made their situation still more unpleasant, the saucy looking craft was actually outsailing their little favorite. The wind rose with the sun, and every moment made it more evident that they would be overhauled before reaching shelter within the range of the batteries of Kingston harbor. Anxiously every eye watched for the appearance of a friendly sail to rescue them from what now seemed inevitable capture. None could be seen, while on came the Yankee cruiser at a foaming rate, with every yard full to the breeze that drove her forward. Just before reaching Simcoe Point, her bow gun was brought to bear upon the fleeing "merchantman," and several shots came gyrating over the water, making things look exceedingly doubtful. The captain of the latter lost all hope of saving his vessel, and expressed his willingness to surrender. The mate, an old "saltee," declared the time had come when subordination ceased to be a virtue, and called upon the men to stand by the ship, and if necessary sink like Englishmen, rather than surrender like cowards. Seizing an old rusty musket, the only implement of warfare on board, he sprang upon the railing and tauntingly fired it towards the approaching enemy.
The Americans continued to "tickle their catastrophe" with well-directed shots, two of which took effect in the rigging, doing some slight damage. Getting nearer she succeeded in sending one crashing through the hull, a few inches below the water line. The plucky mate then ordered the man at the helm to put the sinking vessel on Snake Island bar, where the Yankee dare not follow, and from which situation they would be rescued by assistance from the harbor. With a free sheet they "let her drive," to use a nautical term, but instead of sticking, as was expected, she fairly bounded over the shoal, and flew on towards the harbor. The cruiser drew off into the proper channel, and continued her course down the harbor, paying no attention to the angry growl from Fort Henry, nor the formidable presence of the Royal George and other armed vessels lying under the shore. Favored by a good wind the shattered schooner succeeded in reaching a slip, where she immediately afterwards sunk. The Royal George sluggishly got under way and stood out as if to offer battle, but the Yankee had passed the critical point, and was pursuing her way down the river unharmed. Next day the goods with which the "merchantman" was loaded were drying on the deck, and the hero of this episode expressed his opinion of certain officials in terms more forcible than complimentary. The tardy or cowardly conduct of those in charge of the vessels and forts, for permitting so gross an outrage upon the British flag, as was perpetrated by the daring Yankee, he declared unworthy of men possessing a mite of English blood in their veins. He took much delight in telling how successfully he fought the enemy with that old musket, but reluctantly admitted that he got a little more than he bargained for. We do not know whether his gallant services were rewarded by interested parties, but they should have been.
INSULA Jan 1 1873
Resurrected Fragments from the Graves of Our Fathers
A Double Surprise
From the Daily British Whig Jan 22 1873
Among the devices which necessity, "the mother of invention," recommended to the favorable consideration of the patriots of 1812, our readers have doubtless frequently heard mention of a species of open vessels, familiarly known at that time by the name of "Long Boats." These boats were strongly built, quite high out of water, and provided with a number of "sweeps," or oars, by means of which they were rapidly propelled through the water, when twenty or thirty stalwart men laid hold of the handles. The crews were also furnished with a good supply of rifles, (of the old pattern) cutlasses and boarding implements. Their duty seemed to have been to surprise the enemy, when possible, by stealthily creeping upon them; to watch the exposed parts of the coast, and carry information from one point to another.
The incident we are about to relate happened some time during the disturbance, the exact date not being known, and in which one of the above mentioned "Long Boats" prominently figured. The circumstances were related by one of the survivors who took part in the affair, and who is still ling in the County of Prince Edward, a hale old man of over four-score years. He formed one of a crew selected to do service in a boat of this description, his comrades, like himself, being strong, daring fellows, and all from the Bay of Quinte region. They were superlatively loyal, and eager for a chance to prove their devotion to the cause espoused. such a chance was furnished them, but unfortunately, did not terminate as brilliantly as they desired.
One dark night the authorities of Bath had reasons to suspect that an American armed vessel was hovering off Amherst Island, waiting for a chance to surprise the place, and carry away the shipping then there at anchor. They accordingly concluded to send out a "Long Boat" to reconnoitre, and the one our hero was in happened to be selected. They were soon prepared for the venture and under way, passing out by way of the Upper Gap, and creeping quietly down the south shore of the Island. The distance was considerable; the greater part of the night had been spent in a fruitless search, and the rowers were getting hungry and weary. They landed to partake of some refreshments and rest, it being then about two o'clock in the morning; and to use the words of our informants "as dark as a stack of black cats." They had not been long on the shore before one of them discovered a small light off on the water, and the attention of the others was immediately directed to it. From its peculiar motion they concluded it was close by, and partially concealed. No one thought of being tired then; the food was hastily gathered up and the boat launched - "for glory or the grave," the former being confidently expected. It was necessary that their search should be cautious and expeditious as the morning would soon dawn and place them at a great disadvantage. Just about this time, also, the wind freshened considerably, which roughed the surface of the water, and interfered with the motion of their clumsy craft. After pulling in a zigzag course for some time they discovered a large vessel to windward, under canvas, and apparently bearing directly for them. The first glimmer of light began to show in the east, and the sable curtain of night slowly lifted itself from the water. It soon became clear to those in the "Long Boat: that the schooner had discerned them, and was evidently desirous of a closer acquaintance. They knew the issue would be anything but glorious for them, providing the enemy got near enough to salute them with a few shots; and, believing that discretion was the better part of valor, under the circumstances, they turned the prow of their boat for the Lower Gap, some four miles distant, and began to pull for dear life. The breeze freshened and the enemy increased her speed at a rate anything but pleasant to the surprised oarsmen, who spared no muscle in the contest but sent their heavy boat forward at a speed showing the power of their measured strokes.
At this figure the race continued, each moment toiling fearfully upon the exhausted rowers, and bringing the Yankee uncomfortably nearer. There was only one hope for effecting their escape; at the foot of Amherst Island they knew a small, masked battery was planted, and if they could hold out until reaching it, the crisis would be over. The enemy had got range, and bang! went one of her bow guns, sending a shot splashing through the water, but a short distance from the "Long Boat." This was an incentive for redoubled efforts, and the last desperate plunge followed. Twice again the dangerous missiles went whizzing past , the last one striking the blade of the stern oar, breaking it and half filling the boat with water. But they were now safe; rowing rapidly under the shore, the vessel following, the battery saluted with six guns, the first round smashing through the enemy's side rail and breaking the main boom. This was a surprise for the Yankees; and now it became their turn to run for life. The battery continued to tickle them with incessant volleys, but the wind being fresh and fair, they hauled off with admirable dexterity and ran down the Bay, away from the shot, and so effected a narrow escape. The men in the "Long Boat" who had come so near being made prisoners, were wild with joy over the favorable turn affairs had taken, and accompanied every shot from the battery with rousing cheers. They acknowledge that the Yankees had considerably surprised them by giving chase, but delighted to tell how they surprised the Yankees by leading them under the masked battery at the foot of Amherst Island.
INSULA January 18th '73
Resurrected Fragments from the Graves of Our Fathers
An Unnecessary Alarm
From the Daily British Whig Feb 3 1873
Writers on both sides of the revolutionary struggle have painted their opponents in anything but pleasing colors. Some of the crimes charged are exceedingly fiendish, worthy the vindictive conceit of savage tribes. The American historians, with the single exception of Lorenzo Sabine, heaped up monuments of enormities to disgrace the old Tory party, especially certain well-known regiments in the loyal army. The one particularly honored in this respect was the celebrated "Butler's Rangers," who, if half what has been imputed to them be true, were desperate characters. On the other hand, our forefathers related hideous tales of wonton cruelty, perpetrated by the rebel forces upon defenceless women and children. Such reports gained credence among the first settlers, and were transmitted to their descendants with intensified meaning. We doubt whether half the reports thus circulated were true; but still, so strong a hold did they have upon the public mind that when the war of 1812 began a wide-spread alarm was manifested throughout the Bay settlement. The want of a sufficient force to guard the extensive coast, which almost everywhere admits of landing, it was feared would expose the settlers to predatory visits from the enemy. They believed that the American soldiers of 1812 were representative of those their fathers encountered in the Revolutionary struggle, and that having old score to settle they would not fail to embrace the chance offered by the renewal of hostilities.
Our information concerning this feeling refers chiefly to those inhabiting that part of Prince Edward County known as Indian Point, in the township of Marysburgh. Whether from their greater exposure, or a want of faith in the Yankee, we cannot say, but an apprehension of danger prevailed there to an alarming extent, which considerably interfered with domestic concerns, and kept them in a fever of excitement for a long time. Houses and movable property were constantly guarded, for fear of a sudden descent upon them by the dreaded foe. Their slumbers were disturbed by visions of plunder and rapine, and every uncertain sound aroused them to an expectation of something horrible awaiting them.
In the summer of 1813, just before harvest time, a rumor was circulated that two sails belonging to the enemy were then in the vicinity, and in fact they were occasionally seen from the shore. This intelligence was sufficient to put the whole neighborhood in a furore of excitement; the women moaned piteously and became hysterical with fear; the children wept to keep them company, while the "lords of creation" made desperate efforts to vindicate their manhood by hasty preparations for flight and protection. Valuable were buried; what could not be removed was secreted as best they could; and then gathering up provisions, clothing and bedding, many families south refuge in the midst of fields of wheat, where they remained concealed for several days. In the mean-time, they expected the humble abodes they had deserted were being pillaged, and mayhap burned by piratical Yankees. Subsequent events proved the futility of all this apprehension of evil.
The Americans did visit the settlement, but not for hostile purposes. They were in quest of provisions and other necessaries required on board, and when the deserted tenements were found, without any evidence of occupation, they were curious to know the cause of this modern hegira. At first they were inclined to impute the general desolation to some tyrannical order of the Government, but ultimately, learned the real influence. Some of the less timid of the settlers having ventured forth from their hiding places, messengers were dispatched to assure the rest of the friendly intentions of their visitors. In this manner the natural order of things was restored; and the hereditary vindictiveness of the Yankees became an absolute doctrine, no longer worthy the attention of those who had so satisfactorily discovered its falsity. Frequent visits were paid to them afterwards by parties from the enemy's vessels, as well as from their own, and their surplus produce, consisting of beef, mutton, veal, butter, eggs, &c., was bought up at prices far in advance of the market value, while a plentiful supply of the genuine specie gladdened the hearts of the honest yeomanry. In one instance, we are told, a Yankee foraging party actually bought a large black bear, which had been captured by the farmers, paying a handsome price for bruin's carcass. After getting the monster on board they dressed him a la porcus, and fastened the head upon the top of the foremast, where it remained as a trophy of the event. Evidence is borne to the systematic courtesy with which the American sailors conducted all their trafficking later, course no instances of rudeness or hostility being known. The opportunity to dispose of so much domestic produce, and at such a highly remunerative figure, was greatly appreciated by the farmers, who, at that time, were not very well situated, as regards marketing privileges. When the war closed they lost excellent customers, and good-humoredly referred to the erroneous impression that prevailed at the beginning.
INSULA Feb 1st, 1873
Resurrected Fragments from the Graves of Our Fathers
A Doubtful Honor
From the Daily British Whig Feb 5 1873
We have abundant evidence of the prevailing sentiments so tenaciously maintained by the Loyalists, when they considered themselves responsible for the future destiny of a nation. In order to express their attachment to a cause for which they had voluntarily suffered so much, they christened everything requiring a name after some Royal or loyal favorite. This was certainly a very praiseworthy motive, and one that has doubtless answered well the purposes intended. Their children and grand-children could not plead ignorance of the popular heroes and their services, even in the absence of suitable instruction, o long as they were in the habit of naming them daily. The counties, townships, towns &c., were called by some honorable cognomen, which left no uncertain sound, and made them many times more precious to the honest pioneers who claimed them as a first heritage. During the first generation that succeeded the settlement of this part of Canada there were few privileges of an education character, and the mind naturally famished for intellectual food. Who can gauge the importance of that patient tutelage witnessed about the log fire of the first settler, and during the toilsome monotony of their life? Like the Spartans of old, they inculcated lessons of honor and patriotism which compelled a faithful obedience to acknowledged authority, and which branded with eternal disgrace all who shrank from duty. Is there any wonder such patriots conquered when brought in contact with the enemy in 1812? Why, bravery was inscribed upon their very hearts, and every one of them was a stranger to cowardice! Reference has previously been made to the prevalence of superstitions, and in some instances vindictive, theories that found favor among them; but these were merely the unavoidable outgrowth of the time and did not interfere with the more exalted principles that guided them. No one dare impute a want of loyalty, or faith in the orthodox rites of Christianity, when reference is made to our forefathers. If we were now placed in similar circumstances, with all our show of moral ethics, it is doubtful whether our record would be so clear of mistakes. But, accepting this for granted, let us pass on to the subject of the above caption.
Prince Edward, "Duke of Kent," father of our much loved Queen Victoria, visited this Province during the administration of Governor Simcoe, who assumed the responsibility in 1792. The Duke then commanded a regiment in the regular army, and was stationed for some time at Quebec. Being naturally of a venturesome turn of mind, and having heard considerable of the wild grandeur of the western part of the Canadian wilderness, he determined upon a journey from Quebec to Newark, (now called Niagara), where Governor Simcoe held his gubernatorial functions. The route from starting to Prescott was tedious and exposed, being passed over by means of calashes, drawn by French ponies. From the latter place the distinguished party were conducted by boats, sent down by the authorities from Kingston, and received all the attention their rank entitled them to, consistent with the times. the government schooner, Mohawk was in waiting at Kingston, which completed the journey by carrying them to the Provincial Capital, where military honors completed the reception. It is not our intention to follow Prince Edward throughout his peregrinations, which were extensive and no doubt highly interesting. When he returned to Kingston arrangements were made for his spending some time in this delightful locality, and for visiting the adjacent country. It would appear that the Prince found much to please him while rowing from one piece of water to the other, and camping along the thickly-wooded shores. His affable manners made him a general favorite, and the rough pioneers were on the most familiar terms with their august visitor. It is certain that he and members of his suite penetrated into almost every possible quarter, and that they were generally accompanied by a score or more of the delighted settlers. The Prince was eager to learn all he could of the country, and his companions were equally as eager to tell all they knew about it.
During one of these excursion the party passed through the Upper Gap, and examine the Bay lying between Indian Point and the opposite Point Traverse, which abounds in rich scenic beauty. The old settlers would tell of this "royal" display along their shores, and with what zest the Prince would engage in the different projects for amusement. Having examined the several indentations and islands, and feasted on the beautiful scenery, then displayed on all the diversity of primitive order, a final council was held upon the very point of what is now known as the "Big Bluff." This considerable elevation of dark-colored limestone rises almost perpendicularly from the water, and is situated near the beginning of Point Traverse. It is a romantic looking spot at the present time, although despoiled of much of its original beauty. At that remote period, when the ambrosial shades of cedar and balsam prevailed, the scene must have been tempting. Here the tents were pitched for the last time before embarking on the return voyage to Kingston, and of course a kind of valedictory performances were held. Prince Edward assured his kind attendants that their services were highly appreciated, and that his excursions had afforded much pleasure. A request was made that he should honor them by giving his name to some natural feature in the surrounding view. This he was pleased to comply with and pointing to the beautiful Bay which spread out before them, he remarked that it was worthy of a better name than his, but he would give it all he had. With enthusiastic ceremony the christening took place, and it has since been called "Prince Edward Bay."
This is the story told by the pioneers, but there is considerable romance about it, and by some it has been contradicted entirely. We shall not decide the disputed point. Somebody gave the name, not only to the body of water mentioned, but likewise to the noble county adjacent. The Prince was here during the time referred to, and why not he? For the sake of the honor claimed, and other considerations of a selfish nature, we will admit the soundness of these old people's veracity, and challenge a refutation.
INSULA Feb 4th 1873
Resurrected Fragments from the Graves of Our Fathers
From the Daily British Whig Feb 17 1873
There is a familiar saying that "each generation grows weaker and wiser." As regards the increase of natural ability we are not in a position to decide; but that the present generation is inferior to the preceding one in physical strength admits of no cavil. No doubt modern invention and the general diffusion of literature have done much towards facilitating the means whereby information may be obtained, and in this respect gives us a decided advantage over our ancestors; but it is doubtful whether nature has been more liberal in endorsing us with superior intellecta - making us all veritable Crichtons, in short. Many of the public and private acts of our fathers would challenge a comparison with the most brilliant we can point to. But when we come to talk about muscular triumphs and the developments of physical endurance, there is a wide margin, indeed, in favor of the old stock. The most confident of our athletes would cut a sorry figure if an attempt was made to perform deeds of strength which were common in earlier times. We presume a reason can easily be found for this apparent degeneracy by reference of the times and circumstances under which such a development was produced, and the imperative necessity then existing for the encouragement of manly fortitude. Our excess of luxury and indulgence has enervated the system in the same ratio as it has contributed to our vital qualification. The men and women who conquered the ruggedness of a Canadian wilderness, and brought under tribute the waste places, making them subservient to the wants of succeeding generations, were inured to hardships and exposure of the most trying nature. They met the opposing forces with an unconquerable will and sound constitution, and showed a power of endurance which stamps them as heroes and heroines of no common pattern.
If all we have been told concerning performances popular with the first settlers be true, and many of them are confirmed by living witnesses, there were real giants in those days. By way of illustration we will relate a few instances of great strength, known to have occurred when such qualification were surer recommendations to preferment than the possession of scholastic training, or the influence that money commands.
Among the early refugees were several members of the Hicks family, who first settled in the vicinity of Niagara Falls, where a large tract of land was granted them, but who subsequently removed to the Bay of Quinte, selecting homes in Prince Edward and adjoining districts. They formerly belonged to the regiment known as "Butler's Rangers," which was held in such mortal dread by the rebels, and which seems to have been composed of men remarkable for their strength, and, perhaps, hardened cruelty. These Hicks brothers were very good specimens of their class, being above the ordinary size, and with muscles capable of performing the feats of Samson. One of them - Edward - or "Ned," as he was called, excelled in his herculean efforts, and was truly no man to be trifled with. During the revolutionary disturbance his daring nature led him into hazardous service, and he was employed frequently as a spy by the loyal party. On one occasion, while acting in this capacity, he was suspected by the enemy and arrested. No direct evidence to convict him could be found, therefore his captors contented themselves by retaining him a prisoner, being careful to keep him securely pinioned, no doubt suspicious of his physical capabilities. One day while taking his accustomed exercise in the prison yard, which he was permitted to do, he noticed that several of the guard, composed principally of German soldiers, were considerably under the influence of liquor, and very indifferent to military discipline. This he conceived to be a favorable chance for him to effect his escape, which he had been planning for some time. He was not long in deciding upon a course to pursue, and immediately set to work to execute it. Walking fearlessly up to the men on duty he raised his manacled hands and struck the first one senseless to the ground, repeating the act upon the second in his way, and before they could recover he had passed out. During the confusion that followed he succeeded in secreting himself beneath a fall of water which tumbled over a dam close by, and in this uncomfortable position he remained several hours, while he could see the parties who were in pursuit of him, and hear their conversation. Patiently he waited for darkness to aid him in the desperate venture contemplated. When the proper moment arrived he crept cautiously forth from his uncomfortable hiding place wet and benumbed. The irons upon his hands would seriously interfere with necessary movements, and, therefore, he resolved upon making an effort to rid himself of them. Placing them firmly beneath his feet and mustering his gigantic power he wrenched his hands from their fastenings, tearing and lacerating the flesh in a fearful manner, and causing a scar which he carried to his grave. Thus relieved he made good use of his abilities, and soon placed himself beyond the reach of imminent peril.
It is also related of this man that he would, on festive occasions, lift a barrel of liquor from the floor to his mouth, and there hold it while he drank from the bung-hole. Of course the performance of this feat got him the liquor without further charge. There were others, associated with Hicks, who were his peers in all such muscular achievements, and some of them superior in certain respects. We cannot recommend the popular method for exercising this qualification, however, which seemed to suit the fancy of those old gladiators. Whenever a gathering took place, political or social, it was sure to terminate in a general free fight. There appeared to be a spirit of rivalry between different townships, rather than any direct animosity, and this was the way they decided the disputed points. It would be "Third-towners" against "Fourth-towners," and "Fifth-towners" against "Sixth-towners," until one party or the other was vanquished, when the victors would celebrate their triumph by treating the defeated side in the most lavish manner. But an appeal to their patriotism would, at any time, unite these men on one common ground, local jealousies and old feuds being forgotten, or buried beneath the paramount claims of their adopted country. Such were the characters who endured so much for the sake of maintaining an allegiance to the "old flag;" and with all their faults, many of them were "nature's noblemen."
INSULA Feb 15th 1873
Resurrected Fragments from the Graves of Our Fathers
Emigration Under Difficulties
From the Daily British Whig Feb 22 1873
There are many chapters in the history of the loyal pilgrims who sought an asylum beneath the maple of Canada during 1784 and succeeding years. Much has been related, and much more remains unknown. We desire to add another brief sketch to the volume already open for inspection, claiming for it a special merit of recommendation, which we believe will be admitted upon examination.
When the recognition of American independence became known and the loyalists knew their fate, there was living somewhere in the valley of the Hudson, and towards its source, a family devoted to the lost cause. It consisted of four persons - two brothers, (one of whom was married), a wife and child, the latter about five years of age. The brothers had borne arms on the loyal side, and were compelled to abandon the home they had provided after years of toil. They had not yet accumulated much of this world's goods, and were illy prepared to face the hardships awaiting them. For some reason they did not join the general migration which left New York in 1783, and reached Canada by way of Quebec and Montreal. It was not until 1785 that the attempt was made, and then they chose the more direct but still more difficult route across the intervening country to the shores of Lake Ontario. Some friends had preceded them, and located in Prince Edward, in the vicinity of East Lake, whither they were bound. It was midwinter when preparations were completed, this being the most favorable season for travelling through the then unsettled wilderness and also to cross the water on the ice. Whatever could not be moved was disposed of to the best advantage, and provisions made for beginning life anew. A sort of sled was constructed, in which sufficient food, bedding, clothes, domestic utensils and other requisites were placed, and also the wife and child. Only one horse was used to draw this load through the snow, which in some places lay knee deep upon the road. Travelling at that time, and in the section of country through which they passed, was of rare occurrence, and settlements separated by many miles of dense forest. Under these circumstances it must be readily seen how trying were the difficulties this little company had to contend with. Their progress was slow, and often the storms of rain and snow would beat upon them until almost perished by exposure. The nights were frequently spent in the dreary woods, where the men would build a fire and cut branches of fir and hemlock to protect the woman and child. When convenient they would seek shelter in a friendly hut, where the rude comforts of the pioneer would be cheerfully extended. but as before stated, those huts were frequently separated by leagues of wilderness, and could not be reached when needed. The wife, never very robust, was unable to endure such a continued exposure, and became seriously ill by the way. They possessed no means of administering to her urgent wants, and to make their trouble more bitter no shelter could be found. The jaded horse was urged beyond his power of endurance, but nobly held out until a hospitable roof was reached, where the sick woman was taken in and kindly cared for. She continued to grow worse, and after a few days suffering died in her husband's arms, embalmed by the tears of those who loved her. Before expiring, she requested that her body might be taken up, when convenient, and removed to the place they would select for a future home. This request was readily granted, and after performing the mournful rites of burial, the bereaved party resumed their wearisome journey. At length, the frontier was reached, where further arrangements were made for performing the last and most difficult part of the route. The horse, and such utensils as could not be carried on foot, were left in the care of a person, who agreed to preserve them, taking the use of the horse during the time as remuneration for his trouble. The little girl was also given in care of a good Samaritan, who promised to protect the tender orphan until reclaimed by her father. We might remark in this connection that the frontier settlers on the American side seemed willing to assist, as far as they were able, those who sought refuge beyond the limits of the new republic. There might have been exceptions, but the more charitable predominated, and contributed much to the mitigation of unavoidable suffering.
Each of the brothers shouldered a bushel of wheat, in bags, which was intended for spring seeding, so as to be provided for the first year's bread. With this were also carried some cooked food and other necessary articles of comfort. Thus equipped they began a long and laborious trip up over the ice and through the deep snow of this northern latitude. They first crossed to the Canadian side, and then pursued their course by following the land up the Bay shore. In this manner they also found agreeable welcomes from the loyalists, who were scattered along the margin of the water, and who were always ready to assist fellow pilgrims. But still these hardy and resolute travellers often endured extreme privations before reaching their destination. Weary with constant tramping and the burdensome loads they carried they would throw themselves down in the soft snow and rest; and sometimes in this position, with the wheat for a pillow, they found sleep as refreshing as if sought on beds of down. The winter was well nigh over before the terminus was reached, and then commenced the pioneer's work. Those who had already settled in that section lent a helping hand, and a small log shanty soon showed itself among the bushes, with a partially cleared surrounding. When the snow melted in the spring the rich virgin soil was slightly disturbed by means of hoe and spade, and the seed planted, which they hoped would yield them sustenance. Then by the use of large "flat boats," provided in limited numbers by the government, a protracted trip was made to Kingston and other spots for provisions, several of the settlers joining together in the enterprise. In this way the two emigrants referred to had the remainder of their goods brought from the American shore; nor did they forget the solemn injunction of the loved one, buried by the way-side in the distant wilderness. The body was exhumed and carefully transported to the adopted home near the picturesque shores of the "Little Lake," as the small body of water was called. Here it was finally interred; and here the noble pilgrims lived and died, blessing God for having so bountifully remembered a persecuted people. The wheat they carried on their backs was the first ever brought to that district.
INSULA February 22, '73
Resurrected Fragments from the Graves of Our Fathers
Died For Want of Food
From the Daily British Whig Feb 27 1873
Our readers are, doubtless, aware that among the general provisions made by the Government to aid the destitute loyalists who came here after the rebellion, perhaps the most judicious was that which supplied them with certain rations during the first year or two. The means of transportation then commanded and the opposing influences brought to bear against them did not admit of much being brought with them, whereby the daily wants might be satisfied until their industry could supply the demand. They came in destitute circumstances, excepting a few more favored ones, who were able, out of their accumulated capital, to defray ordinary expenses and provide for the future. A large percentage were also old soldiers, more familiar with the use of gun and sabre than the backwoodsman's axe and spade. These men suffered untold privations, notwithstanding the fostering care of the Government they loved. Some of them were natives of the oldest European countries, and knew nothing of the work before them. Especially was this the case with the detachment sent to settle the "fifth-town," or Marysburgh, most of whom were Hessians, having been granted the same terms of citizenship as the U.E. loyalists themselves. These Germans were very different from the colonial refugees who occupied the four townships to the east. They were not only ignorant of the very rudiments of farming under such a system, but possessed but a limited supply of that energy and force of character so much required in those who have to push their fortune under adverse circumstances. in order to aid them in this conscious deficiency, the authorities wisely selected the "fifth" township for their settlement, there being superior privileges for fishing and hunting in that quarter. It has been intimated that they were carelessly looked after by those having the distribution of supplies in charge, and in some instances entirely neglected. The intimation is without the least shadow of truth; there was no favor shown, and the Hessian settlers of Marysburgh received equal donations with the loyalists. But that they were indolent and improvident we know to be true, and this was the chief cause of their extremity during the terrible year of famine.
It was in the year 1787 that the scarcity of provision among the settlers began. We do not know the real cause; but considering the limited period (only three years) that had elapsed since the wilderness was penetrated, it must be evident that but little improvement had been made, and as a consequence the settlers were illy prepared for the cessation of Government supplies. This, no doubt, was the primal cause; but it is also stated that there was a general failure of crops, not only in the Bay of Quinte settlement, but throughout the entire Province. At any rate, during 1788, there was such a destitution as to bring gaunt famine in all its harrowing scenes to their doors, "and from one end of the Province to the other was heard the cry for bread! bread! bread!" The few remaining old patriarchs, whose recollections extend back to the first years of pioneer life in Canada, have furnished us with pitiful tales of extreme suffering. Everything that could be converted into food to sustain life became exhausted, and many were compelled to dig roots from the ground and strip the buds and bark from trees in order to satisfy their delirious hunger. A small dish of coarse bran, when it could be procured, was considered a luxury to rejoice over. With this a kind of cakes would be made and a beef bone, from which every vestige of flesh had been scraped, would be carried from house to house in order that as many as possible could get a little taste from it by boiling it with the bran.
Among the Hessian settlers of Marysburgh, the suffering reached an extreme point, and several actually died for want of food. The wretched condition of these famishing creatures was such as to forbid a description. We, who have never experienced what it is to feel the pangs of hunger, can form no conception of that terrible scene, and must not condemn those who forget in their agony the generous instincts of nature. Parents daily and hourly heard their children cry for bread; saw them slowly but surely sinking beneath the grim spectre, and felt their emaciated arms pleadingly encircle their necks as they sobbed in feeble accents for that which they expected to receive. More - they saw the light of life grow fainter until it went out, and their little ones, whom they would gladly have sacrificed their own existence to save, lay before them - starved to death! We record one instance which serves a very good illustration of many similar:
Among the sufferers was a family of three - husband, wife, and child of four years. They were reduced to the last extremity. In vain the husband begged from his neighbors who had nothing to give. The wife and child suffered the pangs of hunger until nature could hold out no longer, and they became helpless victims of disease. The thought of their dying before his eyes - dying for the want of food, and he unable to save them, drove the poor man frantic with grief. He rushed from the house, and scarcely stopping to think, traversed miles in search of nourishment. His pleading touched all hearts, but none were able to respond. He was conveyed to the "Fourth township," where occasional help could be given, and here, after a long search, the famished and wearied man found those who divided their meagre store and gave him part. Love bent wings to his feet, and without resting or eating he hurried to the relief of his wife and child. The desolate hut was reached, but when he entered a sight met his gaze that crushed entirely the feeble hope in his heart, and drove the circling blood back with icy chillness,
"On the cold hearth, outstretched in solemn rest,
The babe lay, dead upon its mother's breast."
They were beyond the reach of hunger and pain. If he possessed the riches of India, or the granaries of Egypt, it would avail them nought. There was nothing now he could do for them, but to
"Kneel down by their pallet and kiss the death frost
From the lips of the angels his poverty lost;
Then torn in agony upward to God,
And bless, while it smiled, the chastening rod."
Resurrected Fragments from the Graves of Our Fathers
Seeking a Treasure Trove
From the Daily British Whig Mar 12 1873
The vulgar saying that "money makes the mare go" may be of modern invention, but it is certainly no more applicable to ordinary business and social regulations now than during former generations. "The almighty dollar" is not an American god, wholly distinct from the worldly duties of other nations, though it may possibly receive a more idolatrous worship among our neighbors than elsewhere. The possession of wealth has never failed to hide moral enormities and give a decided advantage to those commanding its influence. We cannot wonder, therefore, that mankind have, with strange exceptions, always labored frantically to surround themselves with the potent charm of Mammon. It would be impossible to conceive the amount of suffering and pollution this passion has given rise to in all ages of the world, and how many souls have been sacrificed to a greedy lust for riches and worldly distinction. No matter how mean and despicable the business, if it only yields the coveted dollars all else is disregarded, for with their assistance respectability can easily be purchased.
"Oh, how many vile, ill-favored faults
Look handsome in three hundred pounds a year!"
But there is no need of moralizing; it would be hard for any one to attempt a reformation in this respect.
Some sixty years ago there was an ephemeral commotion in a certain neighborhood towards the head of the Bay which disturbed public opinion on a limited scale somewhat similar, to the celebrated "South Sea Bubble," or "Mississippi Scheme." The consequences that followed, however, were not so ruinous to the financial calculations of its victims; although the disappointments were doubtless as keenly felt. The circumstances connected with the affair were briefly as follows: -
In the vicinity there is a considerable plateau, or table-land, which gradually rises out of the forest, and after carrying its rocky construction a few miles towards the east, forming an exception to the otherwise fertile soil, abruptly terminates in a deep, wild, and exceedingly romantic "gulley," or crayon. Through this shaded hollow, which is remarkably contracted and thickly wooded, a sluggish stream of yellow looking water meanders during part of the year. Just by the entrance on the southern declivity there is a peculiarly formed boulder of huge dimensions, and resting upon a number of smaller rocks which seem to be arranged about the base in a systematic order. The immediate surroundings are picturesque and impressive, the locality being a popular resort now for pic-nic and such like gatherings.
At the time above mentioned there resided upon the summit of the table-land a slow, plodding specimen of the German refugees, who found his way thither along with other settlers, and chose this elevated, but by no means promising site for his first essay in a Canadian wilderness. We do not know whether he was "a sinner above all men," and wished for riches to give him social and political influence, but like Whang the Miller, "he was naturally avaricious; nobody loved money better than he." And also like Whang, few were at a greater loss to get it. No doubt the slow-moving Dutchman thought much about his privations, and looked dolefully forward to the future which an unsettled country made cheerless to many. Thus ruminating by day he naturally got to dreaming by night, and all with the national trait for superstitious fancies his dreams were regarded as indications of actual facts. The big boulder and its companions had evidently strongly impressed the speculative mind of Hans, and thus he dreamed that beneath the rock was secreted a large sum of money. Three nights in succession this vision appeared unto the sleeping Dutchman, which, according to traditional authority, confirmed the truth of the dream, and Hans rose up early on the third morning fully persuaded that his days of toil were over. For some time he kept the good thing to himself, afraid to tell his neighbors, and too happy to do anything. Most of his time was spent in the vicinity of the boulder, where he would sit for hours calculating the amount of money laying beneath its heavy weight, and devising means for getting at the treasure. But at length he became impatient, and convinced of his own inability to remove the covering, decided to call in assistance. He readily found those willing to help, for faith in the mysterious was not confined to the fortunate dreamer. Those who assisted were to share in the treasure-trove when unearthed from its hiding place, and resolutely set to work, under the guidance of Hans. They labored at night and rested during the day, the better to avoid observation and conceal their good luck. The boulder proved a stubborn monster to overcome, and it was not until several weeks had been thus consumed, and all manner of contrivances exhausted that they succeeded in removing it from its foundation. When this was accomplished, and they beheld the supposed reservoir of their fortunes, some time elapsed before sufficient resolution could be summoned to step down and grasp the treasure. The money was there none of them doubted, and so nerving themselves for the happiness in store, they approached the spot and sprang forward to uncover the glittering gold.
The rest is easily told. To this day there remain the ruins of that big boulder and a big hole in the ground, while the descendants of the dreaming Dutchman and his friends have no recollections of the treasure they found beneath it - nor have we.
INSULA March 11 1873
Resurrected Fragments from the Graves of Our Fathers
Freed By The Wolves
From the Daily British Whig Mar 20 1873
"Comparisons are odious," therefore we refrain from making certain references just now uppermost in the mind. Man is a fatal enemy to all kinds of savageness, and his presence is the signal for lower orders of the animal creation to retire before his conquering away. The most ferocious beasts of the forest appear to comprehend his superiority by instinct, and shrink from a conflict with so dangerous an opponent. They are naturally cowards, and never make an attack or offer a defence unless pressed by hunger or backed by overwhelming odds. Perhaps the most treacherous of all beasts of prey is the wolf, a detested sneak, and dangerous customer when having the advantage. They show craven fear when singly encountered, but in packs, and goaded by ravenous appetites will levy a desperate warfare upon powerful opponents. Instances are common of droves of these carnivorous brutes having followed travellers for miles through some extensive forest, and sometimes overpowering all resistance and satiating their hunger with human flesh. When this part of Canada was first settled, and before the dense forest that covered the virgin soil had been assailed by the pioneer's axe, there were plenty of such customers prowling about in search of congenial food. And for several years after settlement began they made bold descents upon the enclosures, after venturing to the very thresholds of the huts, where a conflict would take place which generally left their number less. The old U.E.'s were usually more familiar with the rifle than the axe, and had made ample preparations for such visitors. When they found a chance to draw a bead the object of their aim seldom escaped. Many a prowling wolf and venturesome bruin paid dearly for their nocturnal visits to the "haunts of men; " and their carcasses afforded wholesome nourishment for the hardy backwoodsman and his family.
Sometime during the early years of our country a phlegmatic German, who received his grant in the "fifth town," had an adventure with a number of wolves which he afterwards delighted to relate with suitable gesticulations. He possessed among other means an old, raw-boned, bob-tailed nag, which willingly imitated his master in making slow movements, and was decidedly opposed to anything like exertion. One day the German straddled his old horse and leisurely rode through the woods by a bridle-path and attended to some business on the opposite side of the peninsula. Here he met with companions and the hours passed rapidly with song and dance. When night came our hero remembered his "frau" and little ones at home, and with accustomed alacrity mounted the nag and began a homeward march, singing merrily by the way. As he neared the centre of his forest path a sudden cry broke upon the night solitude which made the stoic German spring from his seat, and even aroused the inert qualities of his horse. The cry was repeated, each time more distinctly and with a nearer intonation, creating a sensation in the traveller's bosom he was not accustomed to feel. He was conscious of being closely pursued by a pack of hungry wolves, and home affections made him nerve every effort to escape their rapacious jaws. The old horse was lashed unmercifully, and, as if divining his master's danger, plunged into a gallop that must have surprised himself. But in spite of all they could do the enemy continued to gain until it became evident to the frightened German that some desperate change of the conquest would only save him from a horrible death. The ravenous animals were upon him, and he could see their glittering eyes and hear the fierce snapping of their formidable teeth, as they pressed forward in eager haste to secure their prey.
At this critical moment the unfortunate man espied a good sized tree close by the way, which offered facilities for escape, and having lost all confidence in further dependence upon the old horse, he made a leap for life - or death. This unceremonious change of tactics produced a momentary commotion among the exasperated brutes, and before they recovered, the German was grasping the lower limbs of his favorite tree, and soon lifted himself beyond the reach of their ability to climb. The escape was miraculous, for the elongated skirt of a sky-blue coat, brought from "fader land," was lacerated by the sharp tusks of a monster wolf, which made one grab for a delicious piece of well fed bacon. After comfortably seating himself on a limb, the happy fellow vented his opinion of the howling horde below in choice expressions of contempt. In this position he remained during the night, launching his maledictions upon the wolves, and longing for morning. The horse, after having been forsaken by his master, pursued his way home unmolested, where his presence soon created alarm for the safety of the missing rider. At early dawn parties started in search, and were rewarded by discovering him safe and sound upon his elevated perch. The wolves had left him as soon as daylight came, but he was determined not to expose his valuable person to another contest, expecting early assistance. We have only to add that the German did not forget this narrow escape from a premature death, and afterwards ordered his time more judiciously when constrained to indulge in social hilarity.
INSULA March 25th '73