Published Fourth Edition of October, 1812 Stories
War of 1812 Canadian Stories
Insightful short stories about life in Upper Canada during the War of 1812, how to find primary and secondary source information about the war, indices to primary document collections, and Upper Canada Militia transcripts. Copyright by Fred Blair, 2015-2022. Enquiries welcome at email@example.com
Saturday, 19 February 2022
Tuesday, 30 November 2021
Black Veterans of the War of 1812
Sunday, 25 August 2019
History Teachers & Ontario Heritage Fairs
Welcome history teachers and Ontario Heritage Fairs Association members! I am interested in assisting War of 1812 teachers and in promoting War of 1812 student research projects.
In the articles below are three examples of heritage projects based upon primary and secondary documents. The militia rolls and war loss claims used in two of these were accessed easily online.
At the bottom of the right-hand column, below the short stories about the war, are Guides for accessing and using war documents. These documents could be used in Heritage Projects about militia regiments and companies, specific veterans and their families, specific communities, events that took place during the war, and other aspects of life during the war.
I am actively researching these documents and available as a consultant for teachers. My current interests are in York County. Queries are welcome!
If you are teaching young people, also on the Home page is an index to stories about children, who later wrote about their adventures during the war. There are also stories about women.
Monday, 8 April 2019
Young Upper Canadians in the War of 1812
Compiled by Fred Blair
Last Revised Apr. 8, 2019
In Ontario, Canada, the War of 1812 is part of the grade 7 history curriculum. The following reports of young people’s experiences of the war may be of interest to those students. Teachers can read more about each event in the Stories book in the right-hand column.
Also note that most school houses were impressed for the use of the military as barracks and warehouses. Parents had to rely on their own initiatives to educate their children. Sixteen-year old boys were required to muster for militia duty.
May 26, 1813
Young Elizabeth Henry recalled the American bombardment of the Town of Niagara.
May 27, 1813
Matthew Woodruff, age 15, fired upon the invading American force near the Town of Niagara.
June 3, 1813
Jacob Cline, age 13, visited the American camp at the 40 Mile Creek.
June 4, 1813
Daniel Barber, age 11, found himself with a herd of sheep in the middle of an engagement between Indigenous warriors and American dragoons.
Jacob Cline, age 13, witnessed the return of the dragoons to the American camp.
June 5, 1813
Daniel Barber, age 11, warned his father of the American advance towards their home.
June 6, 1813
Elizabeth Gage, age 8, recalled the American’s arrival at Stoney Creek where they occupied her family’s farm. When the British attacked during the night the children hid in the attic loft of their house where they heard musket balls strike the walls. In the morning the children looked out upon the battle ground.
John Cleaver, age 12, was employed as a teamster during the British retreat and helped clear the battlefield of bodies with his father’s wagon and team.
June 7, 1813
Jacob Cline, age 13, witnessed the arrival of the retreating Americans at the 40 Mile Creek.
June 20, 1813
Anna Gesso carried a report on the movements of American indigenous warriors from the Town of Niagara to British warriors at Beaver Dams. She travelled there with her three children in an ox cart. Laura Secord made a similar journey three days later.
June 21, 1813
Dr. Kirby’s thirteen-year old son helped Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon capture two Americans in an inn on Lundy’s Lane.
July 7, 1813
John Law, age 13, joined an engagement between the Americans and Captain John Norton’s Indigenous warriors and was rescued by his mother.
September 21, 1813
Abigail Kyes, age 11, rode eight miles from her family’s farm to the nearest mill to have grain ground.
December 10, 1813
Young Elizabeth Henry helped her mother gather water to extinguish the fire at their house, when the Americans burnt about 300 houses in the Town of Niagara.
July 25, 1814
Teenager Charles Willson was working at the tavern at the falls, managed by his mother. When he was 14, Americans used the tavern as a hospital after the Battle of Lundy’s Lane.
September 9, 1814
One of Elizabeth Rapelje’s daughters fought to stop an Indigenous warrior from stealing one of the daughter’s dresses.
November 5, 1814
George Nichols’ children were locked in his pigpen by American troopers who encamped beside his house.
Wednesday, 14 November 2018
North and South Orillia Township’s
War of 1812 Militia Veteran Land Grants
Transcribed and Compiled by Fred Blair
Copyright June 26, 2018
This is an exploration of how the War of 1812 Militia Land Grants in the Orillia Townships contributed to their settlement and development.
The grants were issued to veterans who had served in specific Upper Canadian militia companies and corps during the war. The grants were not available until 1820 and by 1850 most veterans were receiving money to the value of their land grant rather than land. The size of each grant was based on the rank of the veteran. Privates received 100 acres. Some grants were claimed by heirs of deceased veterans and some veterans appeared to have used agents or to have sold their locations or patents.
A digital copy of the Land Book Register of Grants to Militia Veterans of the War of 1812 was obtained from the Ontario Archives from Microfilm 693, Reel 140, Volume 132.
The register columns were usually the grant number, name, occupation, place of residence at the time of the application, service record, number of acres, location, and date the location was given. There was additional information for a number of grants. Less information was provided in later years. The grant register did not always indicate which Orillia township the land was located in.
The residence of the applicant was not always in the same county in which he served in a militia. It was not unusual for men to move during or after the war or to serve in more than one regiment for which they could receive a militia land grant. This was particularly true for men who served in flank companies in 1812 and then in the Incorporated Militia in 1813 and 1814. Both regiments entitled a private to a 100-acre land grant but only one claim was allowed. A claimant’s choice of regiment may have been dependent upon which officers were available to certify his claim.
As with all transcripts of old documents, the quality of this transcription is dependent upon the accuracy of the original, legibility of the writing, and the skills of the transcriber. Where possible, the information should be confirmed using other sources.
A search of the township Historical Land Books was used to determine the accuracy of the register and how the title to the land changed after the patent (deed) was granted. Note that the Orillia grants were recorded in two different township books, North Orillia and South Orillia. Having received a militia land grant does not mean that the recipient ever personally settled on that land. In some cases, the patent was received by someone else with the same surname.
Over 500 grants were found in Simcoe County. Only 14 were in North and South Orillia Townships.
Summary Chart of the Fourteen Orillia Grants
Grantees County of Residence Grant Yr. Patent Yr. Sale Yr.
Blakeney Prince Edward 1827 1832 1833
McIntosh Prince Edward 1826 1844 1846
Griffith Lennox 1828 1832 1843+
Chapman Lennox 1828 1836 1868
Kimmerly Lennox 1828 1834 1834
McCumber Lennox 1826 1828 1833
Bailly York 1824 1826 1827-44
Gardner Prince Edward 1826 1828 1846+
J. Lazier Prince Edward 1826 1830 1843-55
N. Lazier Prince Edward 1828 1836 1844
Caverly Hastings 1826 1844 1855
Vandervoort Hastings 1826 1836 1836
Sherwood Leeds & Grenville 1836 1836 1842-48
Potts Norfolk 1838 1844 1848
Summary of Settlement by Militia Grantees
All of the grantees were living some distance from the Orillia area when they applied for their grants. Twelve were living in the eastern part of the colony. As they were probably well settled where they were living, they may have been reluctant to begin homesteading in a remote area. They all received the patents to their grants and it is likely that most of them hired agents to clear part of the land, build a small cabin, and clear the road allowance so that they could obtain title from the Crown. This was a common practice at that time. The same agent may have also sold the land for them. Note that some sold their land within a few years of obtaining the patent. Only Bailly and Gardner declared that they were residents of Orillia when they sold their land. There was no indication in the Historical Land Books that the other twelve men or their families had resided in the area.
Although the grantees provided opportunities for the Orillia area to be developed by selling their improved land, it appears that only two of the families were present to personally aid that development.
Details of the Fourteen Grants
The following are the details from the Militia Land Grant Register, early changes in title to the land from the Historical Land Books, and the current locations of the grants.
#839 William Blakeney, a gentleman of Hallowell Township, Prince Edward County, and a former ensign in a flank company of the 1st Prince Edward Militia, received 500 acres on Lots 7 and 9, Con. 3, South Orillia Township on Jan. 26, 1827.
Blakeney actually received the east half of Lot 7 and all of Lots 9 and 10, according to the Historical Land Book. On Sept. 25, 1832, he received the patent on 100 acres of the east half of Lot 7 and 200 acres of each of Lots 9 and 10.
On Oct. 19, 1833, he sold his 500 acres to James Hitchings.
Concession 3 was between Westmount Drive and the Harvie Settlement Road. Lot 7 was south of the Coldwater Road with Shopper’s Drug Mart at its northern edge. On May 27, 1845, Frederick Dallas sold the south-east corner to Patrick Regan of Orillia for $350.00. Regan built the log house there that was recently moved from this location to Scout Valley. Lot 9 was between Mississaga Street and Barrie Road and currently includes the land occupied by Harriett Todd Public School. Lot 10 south of Barrie Road and the other side of the Highway 12 by pass, later included a mill pond, and currently includes the land occupied by Twin Lakes Secondary School.
#1168 Donald McIntosh, a yeoman of Marysburgh Township, Prince Edward County, and a former lieutenant in a flank company of the Prince Edward Militia, received 500 acres on Lots 17, Con. 11 and half of Lot 2, Con. 8, Orillia Township as part of his grant on Sept. 6, 1826. The other 200 acres were in another county.
On Apr. 3, 1844, he received the patent on 100 acres of the west half of Lot 2, Con. 8, North Orillia Township. On Jan. 31, 1846, Alexander McIntosh sold the land to William Coulan. Peter Caverly received the patent to the east half on May 6, 1844.
On Nov. 10, 1871, Henry R. Beecher and James R. Silliman received the patent on 200 acres of Lot 17, Con. 11, North Orillia Township. Donald McIntosh had probably not developed this land because there was no road access.
Lot 2 was the second lot north of Big Chief Road and east of Soules Road. Stephen Caverly had the east half of this lot. Lot 17 was just south of Buck Lake, west of the South Sparrow Lake Road. There is currently no road access to this land.
#1944 Philip Griffes or Griffith, of Fredericksburgh Township, Lennox County, and a former private in a flank company of the 1st Lennox Militia, received 100 acres on the west part of Lot 7, Con. 12 ND, Orillia Township on Aug. 15, 1828.
On July 7, 1832, Philip Griffin received the patent in North Orillia Township. On Jan. 8, 1843, 54 acres of the title were given to the Sheriff of the Home District. The Sheriff of Simcoe County later received the rest.
Lot 7 was south of Lake St. George, east of Goldstein Road, and in the area of Grand Forest Trail.
#2520 Jeremiah Chapman, of Fredericksburgh Township, Lennox County, and a former private in a flank company of the 1st Lennox Militia, received 100 acres on the north half of Lot 14, Con. 2, Orillia Township on Aug. 15, 1828.
On December 15, 1836, Daniel Chapman received the patent in South Orillia Township. On February 16, 1839, Daniel Chapman of Thurlow Township, Hastings County, sold the 100 acres to Margaret Chapman of Fredericksburg for 25 pounds.
On December 6, 1868, Daniel Chapman of Thurlow sold the west 100 acres to Margaret Chapman, a widow of Thurlow for $300.00. On December 26, 1868, Margaret sold the land to James Jamieson of Orillia for the same price.
Lot 14 was west of Shingle Bay and Woodland Drive.
#2545 David Kimmerly, of Richmond Township, Lennox County, and a former private in a flank company of the 1st Lennox Militia, received 100 acres on the west half of Lot 7, Con. 3 SD, Orillia on Aug. 21, 1828.
On October 31, 1834, David received the patent in South Orillia Township. On December 16, 1834, he sold the land to Alex Campbell of Richmond Township for 50 pounds. David was living elsewhere. Alex sold the land on July 12, 1855, to John H.S. Drinkwater of Orillia for 100 pounds.
Lot 7 was south of the Coldwater Road and west of Westmount Drive. William Blakeney had received the east half. Highway 11 passes through this land.
#2550 Jarvis McCumber, of Richmond Township, Lennox County, and a former private in a flank company of the 1st Lennox Militia, received 100 acres on the west part of Lot 6, Con. 5 SD, Orillia Township on Aug. 19, 1826.
On October 10, 1828, he received the patent in South Orillia Township. On February 4, 1833, Jarvis McCumber of Richmond Township sold the land to William Case of Almwiche Township for 20 pounds.
Lot 6 was east of West Street and between Brant and North Street in the area of the YMCA and OCDVI.
#2595 Honore Bailly, of Whitchurch Township, York County, and a former lieutenant adjutant in a Corps of Voyageurs at the Capture of “Michilimanchinac” in 1812, received 500 acres on Lots 10 & 12, Con. 5 and the west part of Lot 11, Con. 6, Orillia Township on Feb. 12, 1824.
In 1826, he received the patent on 200 acres of Lot 10 in South Orillia Township. On May 23, 1833, he sold 100 acres of the south half, as a resident of Orillia, to William Laughton of Newmarket for 100 pounds. On December 13, 1844, Alexander Bailly of South Orillia sold the other 100 acres of the north half, as a resident of Orillia, to John Crosby and Richard Baker of Toronto for 250 pounds.
In 1826, he received the patent on 200 acres of Lot 12 in South Orillia Township. On September 5, 1829, Honore Bailly of Orillia sold the land to Francis Hewson of Innisfil for 200 pounds.
In 1826, he received the patent on 100 acres of the southwest half of Lot 11, Con. 6, South Orillia Township. In 1827, he sold this land to Antoine Godard of Whitchurch for 25 pounds. In 1853, Antoine sold the land as a resident of Orillia.
Lot 10 was south of Barrie Road and east of West Street. The Millennium Trail was just north of this land. Lot 12 was between West Street and Forest Avenue in the area of Lankin Boulevard. Lot 11 was east of Forest Avenue and would have included Moose Beach and the north edge of Smith’s Bay in Lake Simcoe.
#2694 Hezekiah Gardner, of Hallowell Township, Prince Edward County, and a former private in troop of dragoons of the 1st Prince Edward Militia, received 100 acres on the west part of Lot 9, Con. 5, Orillia Township on Aug. 18, 1826.
On October 10, 1828, Hezekiah received the patent in South Orillia Township. In 1846, Allan Garner of Sophiasburgh began selling small sections of this land. By 1851, he was living in Orillia. This land was near the center of the town where small building lots would have been in demand.
Lot 9 was between Mississaga and Queens Street and east of West Street and would have included the Home Hardware on its southern edge.
#2700 John Lazier, of Sophiasburgh Township, Prince Edward County, and a former private in troop of dragoons of the 1st Prince Edward Militia, received 100 acres on the west part of Lot 10, Con. 17, Orillia Township on July 15, 1826.
On November 1, 1830, he received the patent in North Orillia Township. In 1843, the Sheriff of the Home District sold 22 acres to Samuel Street of Niagara. On April 2, 1855, John Lazier sold 100 acres to David B. Salmer for 75 pounds.
Coopers Falls Road would have passed through this land near Riverdale Drive.
#2701 Nicholas Lazier, of Sophiasburgh Township, Prince Edward County, and a former private in troop of dragoons of the 1st Prince Edward Militia, received 100 acres on the east part of Lot 6, Con. 11, Orillia Township on Aug. 15, 1828.
On March 7, 1836, he received the patent on this land in North Orillia Township. On May 21, 1844, he sold it to William Lord of Picton for 20 pounds.
Lot 6 was southeast of Highway, east of Buena Vista Park, and in the area of Turnbull and Grayshott Drives.
#2844 Stephen Caverly, of Thurlow Township, Hastings County and a former private in a flank company of the 1st Hastings Militia, received 100 acres on the east half of Lot 2, Con. 8 ND, Orillia on Sept. 7, 1826.
On May 6, 1844, Peter Caverly received the patent to this land in North Orillia Township. On Apr. 19, 1855, he sold it to Charles Thomson for 50 pounds.
Lot 2 was the second lot north of Big Chief Road and west of Mencke Beach Road. Donald McIntosh had the west half.
#2845 Peter Vandervoort, of Sidney Township, Hastings County, and a former private in a flank company of the 1st Hastings Militia, received 100 acres on the west part of Lot 4, Con. 9 ND, Orillia on Sept. 5, 1826.
On February 3, 1836, Peter received the patent on this land in North Orillia Township. On February 10th, he sold the land as a resident of Sidney to Thomas Parler of Belleville for 25 pounds.
Lot 4 was in the area of Cumberland Beach.
#3904 Adiel Sherwood, of Brockville Township, Leeds and Grenvillle County, and a former paymaster of militia in the Eastern District, received Lots 6 and 7, Con. 1, the west half of Lot 8, Con. 2, and the east half of Lot 5, Con. 8 ND, in Orillia Township on Oct. 12, 1836.
On November 11, 1836, he received the patent of 200 acres of Lot 6, Con. 1, of 200 acres of Lot 7, Con. 1, and 100 acres of the west part of Lot 8, Con. 2, North Orillia Township. On January 22, 1848, he sold these three properties as a resident of Brockville to Edward George O’Brien of Toronto for 100 pounds each.
On November 11, 1836, Adiel received the patent of the east 100 acres of Lot 5, Con. 8, North Orillia Township. On July 26, 1842, he sold this land as a resident of Elizabethtown to John Shuter of England for 150 pounds.
Lots 6 and 7 were between the Town Line and Wainman Line and south of Thorburn Road. Lot 8 was east of the Wainman Line with the Thorburn Road along its northern edge. Lot 5 was between the Carlyon and Hempshire Mills Lines with the Cambrian Road on its northern edge.
#4421 John Potts, of Woodhouse Township, Norfolk County and a former sergeant in a flank company of the 2nd Norfolk Militia, received 200 acres on the east half of Lots 10 and 11, Con. 8 ND, Orillia Township on May 30, 1838.
On February 23, 1844, Rynard Potts received that patent on the east 100 acres of both Lots 10 and 11, Con. 8, North Orillia Township. On August 12, 1848, he sold this land as a resident of Woodhouse to George Hamilton Park of Toronto for 200 pounds.
Lots 10 and 11 were between the Hempshire Mills and Telford Lines on each side of the Cambrian Road.
Sunday, 30 April 2017
How the War Loss Claims Can Reveal Details About the War
An Examination of War Loss Claims near Queenston
during the American Occupation from July 9th to 12th, 1814
Copyright by Fred Blair, April 30, 2017
This is an examination of how the Americans were interacting with the Upper Canadians after their army advanced into the area around the Hamlet of Queenston on July 9, 1814. The Battle of Chippawa had taken place on July 5th and the British army had gradually retreated to Fort George, which they abandoned on July 15th.
Although the Americans had occupied the Niagara Frontier in 1813 and had promised to protect the private property of the Upper Canadians still living there, a number of events such as supplies being impressed, looting, the burning of property, and the burning of Town of Niagara when they left the frontier in December, had shown the residents that the Americans could not be relied upon to keep their promises.
According to historian Donald E. Graves, about July 9th, Major General Jacob Brown’s army camped in and about the Hamlet of Queenston with Porter’s New York Militia camped on the heights where they could see all the way to Fort George. While Brown awaited the arrival of the American fleet on Lake Ontario, more reinforcements arrived daily. Patrols were sent out regularly to acquire information and prevent the American position being surprised by a possible British advance. Brown had forbidden the destruction or looting of private property but offences were committed, particularly by the Canadian Volunteers and the American Native allies. By July 12th, Brown had to re-issue his order against harassing the local Canadians. His patrols were being ambushed, sentries were disappearing, and the Americans were not safe outside their camps.
A number of war loss claims were made after the war by the Upper Canadians in the Queenston area for losses that occurred from July 9th to 12th. I have examined twenty-four of these claims during this four-day period. Only three of the losses occurred on the 12th, so General Brown’s second order may have had some effect. There were a number of claims that may have been for this same event that could not be used here because the dates or places of the event were not recorded in the claims.
Losses included a number of items which could be generally categorized as horses, livestock, supplies, and plunder. A number of residents reported that the losses occurred at their homes or in their fields and not by happenstance on the roadways. There was an intent to loot. Eighteen of the claims were made by residents of Stamford Township where the Hamlet of Queenston was located. It was not always clear whether the looters were scavengers or men on official patrols. The six losses that occurred outside the township were more likely the result of American mounted patrols then the encamped men.
How had the Americans treated the claimants during these four days? The first loss category was horses. Twenty-eight horses were taken from twenty of the residents. Most horses were taken on July 10th and 11th. The Americans appeared to need horses for riding rather than for wagon teams as only one wagon was taken. The horses were therefore probably being used for patrols or to supply officers with horses that had not been brought across the river. The Americans were encamped and did not at this time need to transport supplies far in wagons.
Robert Thompson of Stamford Township had a receipt for his horses that was signed by Brigadier General Swift. This suggested that some of the horses were being impressed and not stolen but some horses were also taken by Native Americans and were more likely stolen, as were horses taken from the fields. In nine of the claims the horses were the only loss. In only three claims were the losses reported to be by Native Americans.
The second category of livestock included common farm animals and three oxen. Oxen could be hitched to wagons to transport supplies but none of these animals was taken with a wagon or with harnesses. They were probably delivered to the American butchers with the other animals. There are many reports of oxen being butchered during the war. There was no indication that any of these animals were impressed and as private property, they were therefore probably looted.
The third category of supplies included men’s clothing, cooking utensils, food, hay and grain, axes and other tools, harnesses and saddles, bedding and textiles, towels, a table cloth, a rug, iron, weapons, furniture, and looking glasses. These were items that the men could probably use in camp but most were probably looted.
The fourth category of plunder included a watch from John Johnston Sr., two silver items, lady’s and children’s clothing, books, a brass candle stick, and an umbrella. These were items that had a resale value, were taken from only a few homes, and were less likely to have been needed in camp. The losses in this category were also much fewer in number than those in the supply category.
James Thompson did not report the loss of his silver watch as it was recovered and returned to him. The watch was found in the pocket of Brigadier General John Swift of the New York Volunteers. The general was shot just after leaving his home, was taken back inside, and died there.
In summary, at least sixteen of the twenty-four claimants had been intentionally looted. As all of them did not receive payment from the Americans for their impressed horses, this could also be seen as local harassment. An examination of how much the American presence in Queenston, and elsewhere throughout the war, had hurt the locals would require further study. The British army was not without fault in harming the local Upper Canadians as well as has been proven in other publications.
The following is a chart of the twenty-four war loss claims to General Brown’s army from July 9 to 12, 1814. Some claims recorded the date as “on or about July 10th”. The war loss claims can be accessed online at Collections Canada.
Name, Township, Losses Microfilm, Pages Horses Taken
Margaret Bastedo, Stamford t-1126, pages 207-209 1 horse
Stephen Seborn, Stamford t-1126, pages 919-924 1 mare
Daniel Moore, Stamford t-1129, pages 689-699 2 horses
From residence by Brown’s and Swift’s men
Mary Adams, Stamford t-1129, pages 700-703 1 horse
Livestock, by Brown’s and Swift’s men and Indians
Joseph Robinson, Stamford t-1129, pages 706-714 1 mare
Matthew Cairns, Stamford t-1131, pages 470-486 nil
Stephen Peer, Stamford t-1132, pages 372-381 1 horse
Supplies, a wagon
John Johnston Sr., Stamford t-1132, pages 748-757 1 horse
John Jay, Stamford t-1132, pages 775-781 nil
Andrew Ostrander, Stamford t-1133, pages 263-265 2 horses
James Thompson Sr., Stamford t-1133, pages 993-1005 1 mare
Livestock, supplies, plunder, by Brown’s men
John Wilkerson, Thorold t-1133, pages 1016- 1019 1 horse, 1 colt
Robert Wilkerson, Thorold t-1133, pages 1020- 1023 1 horse
Peter Warner, Niagara t-1134, pages 180-185 1 horse
Livestock, supplies, by Brown’s men
James Wintermute, Bertie t-1134, pages 235-241 1 mare
John Wright, Stamford t-1134, pages 259-264 nil
Supplies, only from his residence
Haggai Skinner Sr., Stamford t-1134, pages 752-759 1 horse
John Upper, Stamford t-1136, pages 1041-1049 3 horses
From residence by Brown’s and Swift’s men
Elias Smith, Niagara t-1137, pages 170-179 nil
Livestock, supplies, by Brown’s men
John Sutton, Stamford t-1137, pages 179-186 1 horse
Robert Thompson, Stamford t-1137, pages 322-333 3 horses,
Supplies from a house by Swift’s men, with receipt for horses
Henry Ribble, Stamford t-1137, pages 503-506 2 horses,
Supplies by Indians
James McClintick, Niagara t-1138, pages 814-820 1 horse,
Supplies by Brown’s men
Fred Smith, Stamford t-1140, pages 58-63 1 horse
 Donald E. Graves, Where Right and Glory Lead! The Battle of Lundy’s Lane, 1814, Robin Brass Studio, Toronto, 2003, pages 95-97.
 Ancaster’s Heritage, Ancaster Township Historical Society, Ancaster, 1973, page 245, accessed May 12, 2014 at www.ourroots.ca.
Saturday, 29 October 2016
Captain Thomas Perrin and the Militiamen of Mount Pleasant
This blog is an examination of generalizations and misconceptions about the history of Mount Pleasant during the War of 1812 reported in Dr. Sharon Jaeger’s 2004 book, The Work of Our Hands, Mount Pleasant, Ontario, 1799-1899, A History.
The six statements, from the book, that I will examine are:
1. Captain Thomas Perrin commanded the “independent Grand River Company” of the 5th Lincoln Militia. Page 57.
2. This company was marshalled from the west side of the Grand River. Page 57.
3. Capt. Perrin was assisted by Lieutenants Frederick Yeoward and Thomas Racey. Page 57.
4. He served under Major Richard Hatt of the 5th Lincoln Militia. Page 57.
5. Captain Thomas Perrin commanded his company at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane on July 25, 1814. Page 59.
6. War loss claims, as a result of General McArthur’s raid, were made by the Biggar, Burtch, Ellis, McAlister, Nelles, Secord, & Sturgis families and Thomas Racey. Page 61.
Local histories are often written based on earlier histories of those communities and usually do not contain sources for the facts recorded. In her bibliography, Dr. Jaeger listed earlier histories of Mount Pleasant and additional local sources. I have been researching the 5th Lincoln Militia for several years and have had access to a number of primary documents from the Mount Pleasant area that were not readily available in 2004. I will make some generalizations about the war based on my research but will list historical sources for my comments about the militiamen of Mount Pleasant. These sources will include the 5th Lincoln Militia payroll documents, war loss claims from the Mount Pleasant area, and the 1816 Grand River Tract Assessment. I welcome discussion on this and related topics. Let us look more closely at these six statements.
Captain Thomas Perrin commanded the “independent Grand River Company” of the 5th Lincoln Militia?
It was implied that Captain Perrin commanded a militia company that in some way was “independent”. This is the first time I have heard a militia company referred to as “independent.” What were they independent from? Obviously, they were not independent from the 5th Regiment of Lincoln Militia.
By omission, it was also implied that Captain Perrin commanded a militia company throughout the war and that he was the only captain who commanded the men from the Mount Pleasant area. Three of Captain Perrin’s payroll documents have survived and can be viewed online through Collections Canada.
The three pay periods were from:
May 5 to May 10, 1814. Document sets 301 & 526.
July 7 to July 24, 1814. Document sets 302 & 528.
October 16 to November 10, 1814. Document sets 300 & 530.
I will refer to these documents as 300, 301, and 302. Note that there were two copies of each document. As copies were hand-written they were never identical. This was particularly noticeable in documents 301 and 526 where names were often spelled differently in each of these two documents. Joseph Nelles and Joseph Miller, whose names only appeared once in each document, were probably the same man.
Document 302 was for the pay period just prior to the Battle of Lundy’s Lane on July 25th. Document 300 was from the time period in which General McArthur raided the Grand River Tract and Mount Pleasant.
Note that all three payroll records are from the year 1814. It could be argued the captain’s payroll records from 1812 and 1813 did not survive. However, a September 24, 1814 regimental Return recorded that Captain Thomas Perrin had “not yet received his Commission.”
This was the first indication that Thomas only served as a captain in 1814. As Mount Pleasant was somewhat isolated from the main recruitment area of the 5th Lincoln Militia, it could be argued that Thomas had been recruited as an officer but had not yet been officially commissioned. It would seem unlikely that Thomas had served during three years of war and had not yet received a commission. It was more likely that he was recruited in 1814. Three other officers had also not received their commissions.
The second officer, Captain Frederick Yeoward, who was reported to have served under Captain Thomas Perrin, was also listed on the same document as not having received his commission. The payroll records only recorded his name in 1814, once as an ensign and once later as a captain. The third officer, who had not yet received his commission, was Captain John Aikman. The payroll documents only recorded his name in 1814. The fourth officer was Captain Robert Land who had served in 1812 and 1813 as a lieutenant, but only in 1814 as a captain. All four men appeared to have only served as captains in 1814.
If Captain Thomas Perrin was not recruited as an officer until 1814, who were the Mount Pleasant men serving under in 1812 and 1813? To answer this question, I had to prepare a muster roll for Captain Perrin’s men from his three payroll documents and then look for the same men serving in other companies. Forty-nine men served under the captain, sometimes in different payrolls, in 1814.
If these men were serving under different captains in 1812 and 1813, this would be the second indication that Thomas Perrin was not commanding a local company during the first two years of the war.
In 1812, Captain John Lottridge commanded a company for three consecutive pay periods from:
October 17 to October 24, 1812. Document sets 47, 100, 158, 454, & 457.
October 25 to November 24, 1812. Document sets 228, 306, 384, 460, & 468.
November 25 to December 16, 1812. Document sets 26, 107, & 476.
The number of names found in these documents and in Captain Perrin’s muster roll were 4 out of 68, 11 out of 86, and 6 out of 87. Only one of Captain Perrin’s men served in another company in 1812. The Mount Pleasant men therefore appeared to have served in small groups in Captain Lottridge’s Company in 1812. The small number could be accounted for because Captain Lottridge was not a resident of Mount Pleasant and would have had difficulty mustering men and bringing them east across the Grand River to serve at the Head of the Lake and in the Niagara District. I will refer to these three documents as 457, 468, and 476. Captain Lottridge died near the end of November, 1812 and another captain took over commanding the Mount Pleasant men in 1813.
Captain Samuel Hatt commanded companies of men mustered from a number of different communities during the war. Mount Pleasant men served in his company in 1813 on the following occasions:
May 3 to May 24, 1813. Document 345.
July 7 to July 24, 1813. Documents 179 & 347.
The number of names found in these documents and in Captain Perrin’s muster roll were 2 out of 38 and 8 out of 46. One man served in Captain John Westbrook’s Company and one man served in a detachment under the command of Ensign Daniel Showers. The Mount Pleasant men therefore appeared to have served in small groups in Captain Hatt’s Company in 1813 as they had in Captain Lottridge’s Company in 1812.
The Mount Pleasant militia men therefore served during the first two years of the war but not, at that time, under Captain Thomas Perrin.
Here is a chart of the men who served under Captain Thomas Perrin in 1814, their probable place of residence during the war, and the numbers of the payroll documents where their names were recorded:
Men who Served in Capt. Thos. Perrin’s Company
Name Location Document Numbers
Capt. Thomas Perrin Mt. P. 301, 302, 300
Lieut. Lebeus Gardner Burford 351, 300
Sgt. Charles Irwin ? 302
Sgt. William Nelles Mt. P. 179, 287a, 300
Sgt. John Sturges Mt. P. 141, 301, 302, 300
Privates (45 men)
Paul Averill Jr. GR 457, 468, 300
Absalom Burtch Mt. P. 301, 302
David Burtch Mt. P. 300
Stephen Burtch Mt. P. 301
D. Conaway ? 301
Horis Cooly Mt. P. 302
Benjamin Day GRT 300
Allan Ellis Mt. P. 141, 300
John Ellis Mt. P. 300
John Garner/Gardner ? 468, 476, 300
Adam Heather GRT 457, 468, 476, 345, 179, 301, 302
Thomas Heather GRT 345, 179, 302
Richard Huey ? 300
Asa Ingram ? 301, 302
Elisha Ladd ? 292b, 301
Hiram Martin Mt. P. 301, 300
Jason Mason ? 301, 302
Jess Millard Mt. P. 301, 302
Noah Millard Mt. P. 468, 476, 301, 302
Samuel Millard Mt. P. 301, 302, 300
David Miller Mt. P. 457, 468, 301, 300 and possibly others
Joseph Miller/Nelles Mt. P. 301
Benjamin Myers GRT 179, 301, 302
Charles Myers GRT 468, 476, 179, 301, 302, 300
Joshua Myers GRT 468, 476, 179, 302
Henry Nelles GRT 301, 300
John Nelles GRT 302, 300
G. Olmsted Mt. P. 301
Isaac Olmstead Mt P. 301
Jacob Olmstead Mt. P. 468, 302
Thomas Perrin Jr. Mt. P. 468, 301, 300
O/C Rouse ? 301
David Secord Mt. P. 301
John Secord Sr. Mt. P. 468, 476, 179, 302, 300
John Secord Jr. Mt. P. 302, 300
Joseph Sprague ? 301
Thomas Sturges Mt. P. 141, 301, 302
Mathias Thomas Mt. P. 300
Richard Vanatter ? 457, 468, 179, 301, 302, 300
Absalom Whiting GR 300
G. Willman GRT 301
Ariel Witt GRT 302
The men in the muster roll located in the area of Mount Pleasant (Mt. P.) had surnames recorded in The Work of Our Hands or in the war loss claims. Men located in Grand River (GR) had surnames recorded in the war loss claims as residents of Grand River. The Grand River Tract (GRT) location indicated surnames found in The Work of Our Hands or in the 1816 Grand River Tract Assessment.
Note that ten of the men had surnames that could not be associated with the Mount Pleasant area or elsewhere nearby. These men could have been transferred to Captain Thomas Perrin’s company to augment his numbers or may have been living in the same community but were not recorded in my sources or in Dr. Jaeger’s book.
The third indication that Thomas Perrin was not likely to have served as an officer in 1812 and 1813 was because he was the miller in Mount Pleasant. Millers could claim an exemption from militia service during the war. Upper Canada was not producing enough food and other supplies to support British forces stationed in the province. The British were dependent on a steady of supplies being shipped from Lower Canada. Weather and the Americans disrupted this supply line. The British had to resolve the problems of maintaining supplies while also maintaining an active militia force. Some accommodations were made as to when men could and could not be mustered and a number of men were exempt from militia because they provided essential services.
By 1814, it may have become obvious that there were men in the Mount Pleasant area who could have been serving in the militia if there was a local officer there to muster them and bring them east or command them while they were stationed in the Mount Pleasant area. Thomas would have been a well-known leader in the community and he may by that time have had a subordinate to help manage the mill while he was absent. His payroll records indicate that he certainly managed to muster more local men then those mustered by Captains Lottridge and Hatt. In document 301 he mustered at least 17, in 302, at least 17, and in 300, at least 18.
Captain Thomas Perrin’s Company was marshalled from the west side of the Grand River?
From the chart above, 49 men served in Captain Perrin’s Company in 1814. By location, 38 of the surnames were found either living in the Mount Pleasant area or in the Grant River Tract before, during, or after the War of 1812. The evidence strongly supports the statement that Thomas Perrin was mustering from those areas.
A number of men were confirmed by name but a lack of family history sources made it impossible to find documentation for each specific man and I therefore was forced to rely on an analysis based in part on surnames.
Captain Thomas Perrin was assisted by Lieutenants Frederick Yeoward and Thomas Racey?
Captain Perrin’s three payroll documents did not record the name of either of these men. The only lieutenant serving with him was Lebeus Gardner who appeared to have been a resident of Burford Township. However, the possibility does exist that the captain’s company had served more that three times in 1814 and that other payrolls may have been lost or misplaced.
Documentation does suggest that Frederick Yeoward may have been at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane where Captain Perrin’s Company was reported to have served. He had reported his place of residence as Mount Pleasant in 1814.
Thomas Racey was known to have had a merchant’s store in Mount Pleasant during the war in partnership with Samuel Hatt of Ancaster Township. Thomas Racey served on the Niagara Frontier with the 5th Lincoln Militia from October 24 to December 16, 1812. Someone else must have been managing the Mount Pleasant store for him at that time. He did not appear to have served with the 5th Lincoln Militia in 1813 and 1814 but he was reported to have been at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane and at least two other battles. Were these reports based on a missing payroll documents or was he serving in another regiment or corps?
Captain Thomas Perrin served under Major Richard Hatt of the 5th Lincoln Militia?
The 5th Regiment of Lincoln Militia was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Bradt. Militia regimental commanders were lieutenant colonels during the war. Major Richard Hatt was second in command. At times, he commanded militia detachments but there was no record that Captain Thomas Perrin served in one of those detachments. This brings us indirectly back again to the problem of who was at Lundy’s Lane. While Lieutenant Colonel Richard Beasley commanded the 2nd York Militia at Lundy’s Lane, it was his major who lead the men during their attack upon the Americans. How do historians know that Thomas Perrin served actively under Major Hatt?
Captain Thomas Perrin commanded his company at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane on July 25, 1814?
We know from his payroll documents that Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Bradt was commanding a detachment on July 24, 1814, but we cannot document where he was stationed. Histories record that he commanded a detachment on July 25th at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane but that payroll document does not appear to have survived. It is logical to surmise that he was near there on the 24th, if he was there on the 25th. Captain Perrin’s Company was not serving with this detachment on the 24th. Did they join it on the 25th?
Captain Thomas Perrin was commanding his own company on July 24, 1814, but we do not know where they were stationed either. Histories report that he was at the battle on the 25th, but again we lack a payroll document as proof. If his company was there, were they actively engaged with the Americans or acting in a supporting role?
On page 54, Dr. Jaeger reported that Allan Ellis had hauled supplies for the troops at Lundy’s Lane. He was serving in Captain Thomas Perrin’s Company on the 24th. This suggests that either Perrin’s Company was at Lundy’s Lane or that Allan had been dismissed from militia duty and was employed as a teamster. Either way, Allan Ellis had to have been nearby on the 24th. Was the whole company providing logistical support?
On page 59, in Dr. Jaeger’s book, it was reported that the company had cleared the road for the regular troops. This was a supportive role.
Benjamin Myers’ family history had him slightly wounded in the arm and his coat torn by grape shot at the battle while with Captain Thomas Perrin. He was not serving in the company the day before the battle. Was this a reliable report? Was he wounded while fighting or supporting the army? Was he there as a militia member or was he employed in a supportive role, such as a teamster? Teamsters were generally not paid through militia documents but did need a certificate from an officer confirming that they were owed money for their services. Some of these certificates can be found in the war loss claims because the teamsters had not received their pay during the war. Benjamin could have been employed as a teamster and have therefore been exempt from service in Captain Perrin’s Company the days before the battle.
Donald E. Graves wrote that the militia had briefly engaged the American’s before the main American force had arrived on the battlefield and that the militia were then disarmed by the British because they were ineffective and would be of more assistance in a supportive role. During the battle the militia gathered the wounded, guarded prisoners, and cleared the fields so that the soldiers could manoeuver.
Could Captain Perrin’s Company have engaged in both of these activities as well? There is undocumented historical evidence that Perrin’s Company was at Lundy’s Lane and that they played a supporting role but not whether or not they engaged the Americans. Further research might reveal more details about the roles the Mount Pleasant played during this battle.
War loss claims, as a result of General McArthur’s raid, were made by the Biggar, Burtch, Ellis, McAlister, Nelles, Secord, & Sturgis families and Thomas Racey?
I have indexed the claims and have been studying them for a number of years. The claims registers recorded the claimants by their place of residence when they submitted their claims. This was not necessarily the same place that they were living when they suffered their loss. A number of people chose or were forced to move during the war. The first post-war claims were submitted to commissions in 1815 and 1816. From those claims I know that at least 43 men living in the Grand River or Mount Pleasant area, at that time, presented claims. At least 22 were for losses during General McArthur’s raids in November, 1814. At least 30 families, based on surnames, made claims. The possibility exists that families who moved from the area after the war submitted claims from a different place of residence or that they made a claim without declaring their place of residence. These claims would increase the number of losses presented above.
Including Thomas Perrin’s, Dr. Jaeger only had knowledge of 9 surnames of people who submitted war loss claims from the Mount Pleasant area. From my index, I have 30 surnames: Averill, Biggar, Bennell, Burtch, Chapin, Cornwall, Day, Dodge, Ellis, File, Graham, Hawley, Heather, Jackson, Johnston, Martin, Millard, Miller, Munson, Nelles, Perrin, Phelps, Powers, Racey, Secord, Smith, Sturgis, Thomas, Wesbrook, and Witt.
These war loss claims would make an interesting study for a student or local historian. Enquiries are welcome.
There were some truths in Dr. Jaeger’s history but historical documents suggested that there were more details about the Mount Pleasant Militia that could have been presented. The documents also raised a number of questions that need further exploration.
Copyright October 29, 2016
 http://images.ourontario.ca/Partners/cbpl/CBPL0732761T.pdf, accessed October 17, 2016.
 Collections Canada, War of 1812: Upper Canada Returns, Nominal Rolls and Paylists, Microfilm t-10386, pages 1062 & 1198.
 Collections Canada, War of 1812: Upper Canada Returns, Nominal Rolls and Paylists, Microfilm t-10386, pages 1065 & 1199.
 Collections Canada, War of 1812: Upper Canada Returns, Nominal Rolls and Paylists, Microfilm t-10386, pages 1067 & 1197.
 Collections Canada, War of 1812: Upper Canada Returns, Nominal Rolls and Paylists, Microfilm t-10386, page 858.
 Collections Canada, War of 1812: Upper Canada Returns, Nominal Rolls and Paylists, Microfilm t-10386, pages 1008-1009, 1011-1012 & t-10387, pages 35-39, 72-76, & 119-123.
 Collections Canada, War of 1812: Upper Canada Returns, Nominal Rolls and Paylists, Microfilm t-10386, pages 1014-1018 & t-10387, pages 196-198, 257-259, & 318-320.
 Collections Canada, War of 1812: Upper Canada Returns, Nominal Rolls and Paylists, Microfilm t-10386, pages 1022-1024 & t-10387, pages 370-371 & 418-419.
 Collections Canada, War of 1812: Upper Canada Returns, Nominal Rolls and Paylists, Microfilm t-10386, page 946.
 Collections Canada, War of 1812: Upper Canada Returns, Nominal Rolls and Paylists, Microfilm t-10386, pages 948-949 & 1130-1131.
 Donald E. Graves, Where Right and Glory Lead! The Battle of Lundy’s Lane, 1814, Robin Brass Studio, Toronto, 2003, pages 163-164.
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