For many people the S--- long ago Hit the Fan. The borders of North America are not now as they used to be. Land was seized. Red men and white forced off their land in favour of those with more political pull. The men, who ruled well in one decade, were given the attributes of tyrants of the next decade. Construction and deconstruction flowed up and down the rivers in waves
As a genealogist, I have researched how it is that my family came to be in Canada. We are the usual motley assemblage of Scottish, Irish, and Dutch, with the odd Englishman, Frenchman and German thrown in for flavour. I can claim nothing exotic… no Indian princesses, no Fille du Roi, or lord and ladies with castles. In fact, the occupation that most often shows up is weaver and farmer. There were no coffin ships coming from Ireland… we were Protestant and came earlier… there were no cleared Highland Scots… we were from the lowlands and came later… I can claim descent of the MacMillans of Lagavulin but not to a distillery… really if you look up plain ordinary folks in the dictionary, that photo is my family.
But I can claim status as the descendant of several lines of United Empire Loyalists. These were people who stood by the oaths they made and as basic farmers were grateful for land to farm and call their own. The earliest had been on his land since he had come to the New Netherlands Colony in 1623. They stood by the oaths they took and that included their loyalty to their King. And they lost everything for that loyalty… their farms, the crops, their processions, their livestock, and in some cases, their lives.
Now I am not here to debate the rights or the wrongs of the sides people took. If you want to know why decisions were made, then follow the money. Some remained loyal to the Crown out of fear that if they didn’t they would lose everything if the British won. Others gave loyalty to the Patriots out of fear that they would lose everything if they failed to support the Patriots and they won. People changed sides regularly just trying to be left alone. Often only a few were fanatical but all it takes is a few in each neighbourhood. To paraphrase Robert Heinlein, the problem with fanatics is not that they are willing to die for their cause but that they are willing to take you with them. Politics is sticky business and politicians were no better back then than they are now.
But there is enough Irish/Scots in me to know that that hanging-on to causes without perspective can lead to feuds without end. But equally there is enough Irish/Dutch/Scots in me to be proud of my people and that they believed strongly enough that they were willing to die for their beliefs. So after trying to hang-on, and keep their heads down, my people were driven out. They left their farms in the Mohawk Valley of Pennsylvania, and along the Upper Hudson River, around Albany, to come as refugees to Canada.
I have appropriated the name Morden for this story from my ancestor, a Quaker, Ralph Morden, who was hanged in Easton, PA on 25 November 1780 by the Patriots on charges of treason for assisting his childhood friend and neighbour to get past the sentries. Patriot records of the time show that his widow, Ann Durham Morden, and nine children were forced to watch him hang and that they stood without support. Only after his death did the three eldest sons slip away to join the fight against the Patriots. The rest tried to stay on their farm but were eventually forced to abandon their property. They came to Canada in 1786.
This story looks at what some of the repercussions were like. Somehow in the times that have passed since the 1770s, we forget how truly brutal and personal the American War for Independence really was. That it was fought by white people and Natives, siblings against siblings, and neighbours against neighbours. It didn’t just happen in 1776 and finish-up in a season. It went on and on, year after year, and the repercussions were still immediate in the late 1780s. It was a nasty guerilla war fought at the distance of a musket and tomahawk by armies, warriors, farmers, lawyers, preachers, the local bully boys, and all manner in-between. While some may have won, many more lost so much and that like the war that came a century later, the bitterness sown is still only just below the surface. Those that lost were given no option but to leave and they went north. Their descendants form the core of what is Canada. When you look at what makes the differences between our nations, this issue is there beneath the surface. People really don’t forget.
About 25-years ago I looked at doing a degree in the restoration of historic buildings. All of the scholarships were offered by DAR. I inquired, just for amusement, if they would consider an application from a UEL. Unfamiliar with the term, the secretary asked for an explanation. I explained that it was a descendant of those tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. Her response was “Oh! Well I’ll ask.” The response from that branch was “Tar and feathers still on hand.” We all laughed, but people don’t forget. It all just below the surface.
As we look to the future that may come, we need to remember that this is what we care capable of doing to each other and that for all our fancy weapons, we will devolve pretty quickly back to the long gun and the bully boys. We like to think that we are better than that but we aren’t. All most of us have ever wanted was a piece of land on which to live and raise our families in peace. But when the SHTF again, all bets are off.
Reminder: I realize for some that this story will tread up sacred cows and sacred history. Please remember that in War there are at least two sides. This story comes from the other side and may contain information from a perspective you have not considered. I hope it will make many go back an read original source materials and take a hard look at what we all did to each other.
Life was hard for Susannah Morden. She was fourteen years old and her father had died when she was a just nine and she and her mother and the four younger ones, Sarah (age 8), Mary (age 7) and the five-year old twins, Davey and Jane. From their home in Jaysburg on the west side of Lycombing Creek, along the West branch of the Susquehanna River, they had struggled through the war.
During the War, settlements throughout the Susquehanna valley had been attacked by Loyalists and Indians who were allied with the British. This was part of the guerilla campaign led by Colonel John Butler and his Loyalist Rangers, together with the Seneca chiefs Sayenqueraght and Cornplanter and their Seneca warriors, and Chief Joseph Brant and his Mohawk warriors. These were men who had already lost their homes, farms and family, in the States and been forced North. By April 1778 they were back with vengeance in mind and raiding settlements along the Allegheny and Susquehanna Rivers. They were avenging their personal losses and the disloyalty of oath breakers. By early June these three groups met at the Indian village of Tioga (NY) where Butler and the Seneca decided to attack the Wyoming Valley and Brant and his Mohawks warriors, fresh from the raids at Cobleskill in May, went after communities further north.
The Wyoming Valley battle on July 3, 1778, had left more than 300 Patriots dead and fewer than 60 surviving. After the battle, the surviving settlers had claimed that the Indians had hunted and killed fleeing and tortured the thirty to forty who had surrendered, until they died. The Iroquois were enraged at the accusations of atrocities which they said they had not committed, as well as at the militia taking up arms after having given their word they would not and been paroled. One more oath broken. Col. Butler claimed that his force took 227 scalps, burned 1,000 houses, and drove off 1,000 cattle plus many sheep and hogs. Later that year, they retaliated in the Cherry Valley.
Knowing that there were attacks imminent, all through June and on into July, local Militia leaders had urged for residents to take cover at Fort Augusta, at the confluence of the North and West branches of the Susquehanna River. Known as the Big Runway, many of the settlers had done so. Their homes and fields abandoned, with livestock driven along and a few possessions floated on rafts on the river east to Muncy, then further south to Sunbury. It was many these abandoned properties that were burnt by the attackers. Some settlers soon returned, only to flee again in the summer of 1779 in the "Little Runaway". Major General John Sullivan and Brigadier General James Clinton helped stabilize the area by establishing a scotched earth policy in dealing with the Iroquois. They raised more than 40 villages and their fields. The Iroquois fled to Canada.
News of the massacre of the Whitmore family at Shamokin*had reached the Mordens some time that summer and Susannah had been very sad. She had met them a number of times and Sarah Whitmore had been her age. It had been said that the traitorous Delaware chief DeCoignee had taken part. That had surprised no one; he was a known traitor to which ever endeavor he had participated in.
The family had gone to Fort Augusta that first time but not the second. Food had been scarce in the Morden but their gardens had been good. Her father had dug a good deep cellar and while the house may have burned, their possessions had survived. She and her mother and the little ones had hidden in the deep cellar that second time and when they had emerged safely her father was gone. While her parents had planned well and there had been the earnings from the store to help them, her father’s skills in the fields had been missed. They were alright but things were not so good for others. Where politics differed people used it as a portent to take and used the differences as justification.
Even here in this small village where she had been born, neighbours had clamoured after each other, coveting what was not theirs. Using their differences to take, to steal, to bare false witness… Many hadn’t been nice after her father had died. Some accused him of being a Tory and said it was good he had died before they could arrest him. Some claimed he had never died at all which hurt worse. She could never understand why someone would say that. Why would they suggest that her father would abandon them? Why would he abandon his dearly loved wife when she had been so great with child? Regardless of the accusations there had been no proof and with so many dead, with so many husbands and brothers unaccounted for, John Morden had been but one more.
Now her mother was sick and dying too and she and her little sisters and brother were being sent to live with Great-Uncle Jacob Morden near Fort Oswego. Her father’s uncle… She had not even known she had a Great-Uncle Jacob until her mother grew sick. All the years that Mama had lived here… the place where she had come with her own parents... the place where she had buried them and three of her own babies… the place where she had raised her own children and run her mantura business. After all those years… and no one would help them when Mama got sick. People wouldn’t look at them. The Preacher made them sit outside on a bench by the side door, just in case they brought infection to the community, but mostly because no one wanted to look at them and see that it could happen to them too.
She could hear her mother talking to the lawyer and finalizing the sale of the house and shop.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Morden,” said the man with an oily smoothness to his voice. “I wish I could have got you more money… but you know the state of the economy.”
“I appreciate your hard work Mr. Van Buren,” her mother said in a quiet voice. “So many will not help even now. My Johnny has been dead and buried for five years now. Surely people see that anything I get for this is to pay for my children’s future.”
“Frankly Mrs. Morden,” said the man with a sudden honesty. “I don’t think they care. Most are grateful that you are making arrangements and they are not going to have to feed your children. I suspect that is the only reason you were able to get the travel papers for them.”
Through the shop door, Susannah saw her mother nod in agreement.
“You know, Mrs. Morden, I will tell you that the mere requirement of travel papers bothers me greatly. I did not fight for this great nation of ours so that I had to apply to go to the next village. I thought we had put end to that nonsense,” said Mr. Van Buren.
“Surely with all you’re experience, Mr. Van Buren,” said Mrs. Morden, “You know that all governments are the same… it’s just the powder on the wigs that changes.”
He chuckled for a few moments. “Now Mrs. Morden, if we can get the paperwork signed, then we can get this sale finalized.”
“My cousin will be here tomorrow. He will take a final look over the papers and sign them on the family’s behalf.”
“Oh!” said the man in a startled voice. “Your cousin will be reviewing them? I thought… Well now… How about I keep them with me and bring them back tomorrow.”
“Hmmm… You do that now,” said Mrs. Morden. “Good evening to you then.”
Mr. Van Buren jammed on his second best top hat and stomped out through the shop entrance. His vision of keeping most of the sale money for himself was vanishing and he was regretting even dealing with this suspect family. Well it was as plain as the nose on his face that she would be dead before the end of the week, and any views they held would be dead with her. But who were these family members and why had they not helped before. He had questions and the Committee** wanted answers.
Susannah joined her mother in the shop. Alice Morden, painfully thin in the final stages of her illness, had curled into the armchair beside the shop’s fireplace.
“Nasty old shyster…” she muttered. Then she smiled up at her daughter.
“Oh Susie!” she exclaimed. “You’re going to be a beauty my girl. I’m sorry that I won’t live to see it. Now don’t be sad. We only have the time God gives us. It’s up to us to use it wisely. Things are going to be up in the air for you for a bit. Life isn’t always what it seems and I had hoped we would have more time to talk. But it’s not to be, so… Tomorrow your Uncle Edgar arrives. He will have his servant with him. You are to ignore him. I am very serious. He has places to go and things to do as directed by Uncle Jacob and he can have no attention drawn to him.
“You know that our family was not on the side of those who claimed victory. We have paid for our convictions. I would have liked for us to leave earlier but we could not. We would have lost all the monies your father had invested here and our possessions, and possibly even our lives. You watched what happened to those who fled. Many died or lost everything when they might not have, if only they had made plans like we did. You, while older than the rest, had to be kept in the dark to much of the planning. You were too young and to have told you would have endangered you and the rest of the family. Now you are older and I can only tell you that… well you have always been loved and never forgotten. That God loves you and has plans…”
She leaned back and began to cough. The cough racked her emaciated frame until she lay exhausted. Susannah got down the bottle of medicine the yarb woman had given them and poured a tot into a glass. Her mother drank is slowly.
“Get last of store packed,” she told her daughter weakly.
Regardless of the monies received for the sale of the property, the contents of the store were Susannah’s real inheritance. She wrapped the last of the cloth in muslin. The thread, needles, scissors, patterns and box of herbal dyes were already packed. She also packed the special lanterns that focused the light so that one could sew in the evening. With them she hoped she would be able to build a future for herself and her siblings in this far off Oswego, a fort on the shore of a vast distant lake.
*Shamokin is now called Jersey Town, PA. The Whitmore family was massacred there on Easter Sunday 1779 (alternate date July 1779) by a group of Delaware led by the turn coat (repeated turncoat) DeCoignee. The parents, the eldest son and the baby were killed. Five children were taken captive and three (number varies) others in the woods escaped. A book called Medicine Maid, written by descendant Mary Hoople in 1977, tells of daughter Mary’s experience.
**After the Revolution was officially over, many communities established Committees that watched local citizens for signs of Tory sympathies. If someone was determined to have them, they might be run out of town... their property might be seized… they might go to jail… or even in some cases executed by mob justice. Some Committees were made up of retired Patriot officers, while others were no more that the wealthiest landowners. They were often also used as cover for some people to acquire more land.
As I said before on another post I had ancestors in the Rev. on both sides of the fight and my g g g g g granddad Bloomfield had a store and he supplied the British and his daughter and son in law were Patriots. (Yep the founders of Bloomfield PA.) And yes I know sometimes they are necessary.
He ended up going to Canada after the so called ending of the war and split the family and they never saw each other again . Stupid wars. We lose so much. Same with the Civil War and how it split families apart.
Also sad to say Salem's problem with the witch trials was also a lot of greed.
Last edited by sssarawolf; 04-14-2014 at 09:22 AM.
Well guess cousin George would be mad if I said I liked your stories, but I do. (Yep, fraid DAR n close kin to Washington among other things. Probably a few cat house managers, n horse thieves too.)
This coming war for freedom is gonna make that one look easy.
I keep imagining how it must have felt / feel to live in Ireland with the Irish Question. Think this time it will be a good image of what is coming in the USSA after the obamanation and his commie motslime liberal anti freedom regime have their turn.
Probably more so than Bosnia which I unfortunately have some first hand experience with. Family just disappeared over there, and then there was the time I spent there, but up near belgrad.
Trying to just hang on and mind your own business and be left alone is getting harder every day.
She sat on the edge of her bed in the early dawn hour, braiding her waist-length hair into one lone plait. She hated to leave the warm straw tick beside her sisters. She rose wearing the knee-length white chemise. Made of linen, it was durable, washable, absorbent, and very comfortable against the skin. Her mother believed in frequent laundering, so the seams were sewn with very small, tight stitches. She herself had put in 18 stiches to the inch and even sewn under the ragged edges. She was very proud of her sewing. She felt it was God’s gift to her and as her mother had grown weaker, she had even begun to make clothes for other people. Her garments had been well received and she had begun to establish a name for herself. But for now that was at an end.
She adjusted the tapes at the neckline so that it was more or less square. It settled comfortably against her skin and the long sleeves warmed her in the cool air. Over the chemise she settled the stays. Made of baleen and cotton canvas, they had been so uncomfortable when she had stated to wear them about age 8, but now she would no more go out without them on then she would miss her daily prayers.
Stepping into the heavy deep red wool skirt, she tied the tapes snuggly. She then put on the navy square necked, long-sleeved jacket and buttoned it. On her feet went her stockings and black leather shoes. She was relieved to know that she had packed her tall moccasins. She loathed the hard soled shoes. She hoped that when they got to Fort Oswego, she would be able to wear the moccasins all the time. She wondered how far from Fort Oswego her uncle’s farm was…
Mrs. Morden had held the view that being fashionably undressed was the proper way to dress for the frontier life they were living. Riding habits and ball gowns had no place in their world and she refused to make them for her daughters. So in the bag, Susannah had packed her other four chemises, three more petticoats (one wool and two summer cotton), two quilted petticoats and four summer caracos, three matched pairs of sleeve ruffles and tuckers for around her neck. She also had four pairs of stocking, two in heavy wool and two in light wool. Her mother had knit them all and the stitching was tight making the winter pairs lovely and warm. There were also her shawls, a rabbit muff that Davey had made for her last Christmas and several pairs of mittens. Her sisters were equally well outfitted. Davy’s clothes were more utilitarian and the knees of his pants were all re-enforced with leather patches. Mrs. Morden had held very advanced views on clothing her daughters and all had linen underdrawers. For Mrs. Morden had felt that cleanliness was next to Godliness, not to mention that drawers reduced the amount of cleaning that need to be done. With the clothes all packed into the large pine chest, at the last moment she slipped in the doeskin dress that Bright Eyes had given her. It still fit Mary and so Susannah kept it.
Gently Susannah wakened her siblings and left them getting dressed for the day. The she slipped quietly down the stairs. In front of the fireplace, her Uncle Edgar was talking with her mother and his servant. She peered closely at the servant, his familiarity continued to disturb her. Unshaven with a scar on his cheek, his greasy grey-brown hair had grown long, the man was dressed in a bizarre combination of ragged clothes and buckskins. The man slipped in an out of the house with a sense of ease. He had even known which floorboards squeaked. He had spent a long time with her mother when he had arrived, which concerned her greatly, until her Uncle had asked her to let them be. There were things to be discussed.
Susannah went to swing the heavy cloak around her. These early April mornings were still chilly as the snows were still heavy in the mountains of the Alleghany. But they were melting and she hoped that her mother would live to see the daffodils bloom. She headed out to the barn to milk the cow and feed the chickens. The servant was already there.
“The cow is milked,” he said quietly handing her the pail. “I put the swill down before the pigs and collected the eggs.”
“Thank you sir,” said Susannah, peering at him again. “You’ve been here…”
“Don’t try and figure it out now,” said the man. “We will be gone by the end of the day tomorrow. Finish packing when you get back in and then spend the rest of the day with your mother. She has little time left.”
For all that he told her not to muse on it, Susannah wondered about the servant. His familiarity distressed her. His assumption that he could direct her was… well it was odd. He was unlike any servant she had ever encountered… not that she had met very many… but he wasn’t in the least servile. Then she realized that she had seen him before. For a long time he had been coming through the village several times a year. On several occasions, she had seen him late in the day in the shop… hmmm… her sister shouted and she got her mind back on track. She had things to do, like getting meals on the table.
For breakfast that day, they had porridge with the last of the blueberries. It was Mary’s favourite and Susannah had to rebuke her sharply in order to ensure that their guests got something to eat. Mary grinned and swiped another spoonful. They all giggled at her unrepentant smile. It was the twins’ morning to clean the bowls and they did it fast and well.
After breakfast, she sent Sarah to help their mother dress while she had continued to put the contents of the pantry into the chests her uncle had provided. The beautiful crockery her mother had acquired… the wooden spoons carved by her father… and her prized pot, a hornet shaped earthenware cooking pot used for stews given to her by Bright Bird, a Lenni Lenape friend. She missed Bright Bird, but the Delaware had all gone north with the Sennaca. As the Whitmore’s had discovered, not all the Delaware tribes were loyal to the Patriots. Susannah continued to pack away the small pieces that made up her kitchen… the candle mold, the prick sticks, her father’s pewter mug filled with spills, the sugar nippers, the rolling pin made of heavy maple… there were so many things that made up a kitchen… the trivets… the oven rakes and pokers… Her mother even had bannock boards that were propped up n their handles to bake large pieces of bannock. Well perhaps she’d keep those out for making the mid-day meal. She could serve bannock with the stew instead of dumplings. Into the food box went the travel supplies - bags of dried parched corn… sacks of potatoes and beans… a bag of late apples… now normally she’d never put the apples and potatoes anywhere near each other but since both would be eaten quite rapidly she wasn’t going to worry.
The crane and primary cooking pots would stay on the fireplace until they left. She gazed with longing at the beehive bake oven and its tin-lined, fitted door and hoped that there would be one in the house in Fort Oswego… or was it a farm… her questions of where exactly they were going kept getting deflected. The flour bin was nearly empty. Its contents put into a sack for travel. The day prior, she had made hard tack biscuits for the journey. They would be eaten along with the pemmican set aside for the journey. Wrapped carefully in a quilt and put into a barrel was the tin reflecting oven and its spit. Her mother had been so thrilled when her father had bought it. They still had the big fireplace spits as well as the ones for outside when they roasted a piglet. They too had been tucked neatly into the side of the wagons.
Susannah had been thrilled that her uncle had brought two wagons. With the two, they would be able to take almost all their belongings plus so many more supplies. The servant had already been down to Fort Augusta to collect the ordered supplies.
There had been discussions going on all the previous day on the wisdom to taking the livestock. Mrs. Williams from next door, who always had her ears pressed to a keyhole, admitted that they would like to buy the cow, and perhaps a few pigs too. So it was decided that the cow, the two sows and the old boar would be sold to the Williams. Part of the payment would include one of their unrelated boar piglets. They traded two more of their piglets to other villagers in exchange for two more sow piglets so that they were leaving with 3 unrelated sow piglets and an unrelated boar piglet. They would also take the chickens. It wasn’t ideal but it meant that they could make 20 miles a day. If they took the cow it would have cut their distance by a third and added days to the trip.
Mr. Van Buren came shortly after 9am. Susannah had helped her mother to her chair by the fireplace in the store. The gray-caste to Mama’s drawn countenance merely emphasized that time was short. Around her Susannah bundled one of the few unpacked blankets. Capt. Edgar Morden sat in the chair by her side and treated Mr. Van Buren as the visiting tradesman he was. This did not settle well with lawyer and Susannah watched him swallow hard as he was forced to hand over the sale papers.
Edgar read them through closely and smiled a shark’s grin at the lawyer.
“Well now, since it’s the Mayor who is buying it, I have brought him over to discuss the matter,” said Capt. Edgar Morden. Mr. Van Buren was caught completely off guard and took on the look of a cornered rat.
Susannah brought over the other big chair and placed it beside Uncle Edgar. The Mayor came in from the living room and joined him. He did not look happy to be there.
“I have read the sales agreement Van Buren,” the Mayor said with barely disguised fury. “This was not the offer I made or signed. Explain yourself man!”
“Allow me,” said Alice Morden. “Mr. Van Buren kindly stepped forward when no other lawyer would. He did so because he hoped to make a good commission and because the Treason Committee wanted to have access to the house. He will still make his commission, but not at 50% of the offered price. The 15% agreed to is more than sufficient. He found me a buyer and I appreciate it. The Treason Committee is still hoping to discover if my late husband is alive or not. Should evidence be uncovered in the house that he is living, then they would want to be able to charge him with some treasonous offence and seize our assets, a large share of which Mr. Van Buren would the claim as a reward for doing his Patriotic duties. But as far as we know, and everyone else in the community knows, my Johnny was one of five men and seven boys who disappeared when the Iroquois raiders came through. And yet none of the other families have been forced to endure this harassment, not even the Mayor’s daughter, whose husband and son were amongst those who disappeared. So what other reason could there be, I can only put it down to envy, jealousy and a rejected suit. I can only hope that no one else in the community is being forced to endure this.”
The Mayor turned purple at the mention of his missing son-in-law and grandson. He glare directed at Van Buren promised that the man would pay for embarrassing him in this way.
“Now gentlemen,” inquired Alice Morden of her husband’s cousin and the Mayor, “Has the sales agreement been signed? If so, please pay Mr. Van Buren so that he can be on his way. He won’t want to sit around with us.”
“We are in agreement, Mrs. Morden and I have paid Capt. Morden on behalf of your minor children.,” said the Mayor. “Here is 15% of the agreed upon price Van Buren.”
The Mayor handed the man an envelope.
“I still believe they are alive,” state Van Buren. “If I had had time, I would have found a way to prove it. You are all traitors, I am sure of it. I will find a way to prove it!”
“That is enough!” roared the Mayor. “That you would besmirch the word of a Captain who served his Patriotic duty and two members of my family! One more word from you and I will have you arrested!”
Van Buren hustled himself out the door.
With it closed firmly behind him, the Mayor looked at us. “I am sorry to say this but do not be too long in taking your leave. Van Buren is a weasel but the men he reports to are even less inclined to politesses.”
“I have not long,” replied Mrs. Morden inclining her head.
The children all spent much of the rest of the day with their mother. Individually and in groups, she spoke with them passing along wisdom she had expected to have years to convey. It was shortly after 10pm that Uncle Edgar and his servant came to speak with Mrs. Morden and oddly once again, Uncle Edgar left them alone. The children were all called in again just after midnight. With a blessing on each small head, Mrs. Morden passed into the arms of Our Lord and Saviour. Her pain and suffering at an end.
The children all huddled together and cried. More for the unknown than for their mother, who they knew was in a better place. Finally they all fell asleep.
Susannah rode her mother’s small brown mare. The twins rode in the wagon. Sarah and Mary rode on the second horse, another brown mare. For the first two road blocks, there were no issues. Their paper work was in order and the obviously distraught children and the wagons full of household items told the sentries more than they wanted to know. So they were passed through without issue.
Susannah thought about what her mother and Mr. Van Buren had discussed. They lived in a country where they could not travel without government approved documents. If her uncle had not had those passes the sentries would have turned them back or arrested them. Why? Why did anyone other than herself get to decide where she could go? This was supposed to be the Land of the Free.
Alice Morden had been buried in the small community cemetery. She had been thirty-two years old. Uncle Edgar and his servant had dug the grave by hand. The preacher had refused to come say any words over the grave and Uncle Edgar had make a big stink about it. He made sure that everyone knew that their preacher had refused to bury the dead and later Susannah learned he had even written a letter to the Dean of the Divinity School at Harvard College where the man had studied. So Uncle Edgar read from the Bible over his sister-in-law’s grave and promised her shade that he would do right by her children.
In the evening, several neighbours came by to wish the children well. Several more came to make sure they were really leaving. Susannah’s best friend, Miriam Webster had brought her a beaded white deerskin bag. Inside was a small framed piece of paper with a picture of Susannah and Miriam painted on one side. Miriam’s family had taken Susannah to Philadelphia once. It had been the year before the war started and the two young girls had been close friends and playmates. One of people Mr. Webster had invited to their home was the painter William Verstille. He had painted the Webster family but included Susannah in several of the sketches. Later he had coloured them in and sent them home with the girls. Now Miriam gave one of them to Susannah to remember her by. Together with the locket containing a lock of Mrs. Morden’s hair, the little sketch became one of Susannah’s most treasured possessions.
Uncle Edgar, the servant and Susannah had finished loading the wagons that night. The beds had been unstrung and loaded, so they slept on pallets on the floor. In the very early hours of the morning, the smallest pallet was put onto the back of the second wagon and the twin were tucked into it. They barely roused as they were tucked in. Sarah and Mary were put up on the horse together, and Susannah got on hers. Dawn was still some time away and even the birds were still sleeping as they pulled out of Jaysberg heading towards Lake Cayuga.
It took five and a half long days to reach what had been the village of Coregonal on the south end of Lake Cayuga, 110-miles to the north. Once they were past the Pennsylvania road blocks, then it grew somewhat easier in terms of roadblocks but rougher in terms of the quality of the road. Soe were dirt packed cordory roads but most were just widened paths filled with cart ruts. But they made good time, about 20-miles a day. They had to be constantly vigilant due to the great unwashed that moved through the woods - thieves, random soldiers and assorted ruffians. But the ride itself was gorgeous with the forests and farms coming to life around them. While the small children were still numb with the finality of loss, Susannah was feeling freed from the responsibility of running a house, making the money and caring for her mother. She would never have complained but as the weight of responsibility slipped from her shoulders, she found herself reveling in the freedom of the road.
They stayed the night in farmers’ homes or barns along the way, some sympathetic, others hardened and hate filled. They stopped at the south end of Lake Cayuga where the remains of a Tutelo village of Coregonal had stood until Maj. Gen. John Sullivan and his men had razed the village in 1779. In what was called the New York Military Tract, the remaining Cayuga Indians had settled at the base of Cascadilla Gorge. Their party stayed with the Cayuga for several days while arrangements were made. The children needed some running time and the leap and ran along the shores of Lake Cayuga with the local children.
It was then that Susannah learned that their goods were to be sent by raft down Lake Cayuga to the Seneca River and then down the Oswego River to Lake Ontario. They would continue overland by horse.
The children were given buckskins to wear and told to pack their good clothes.
“The woods through here are still a dangerous place,” the servant told them. “The buckskins will help you to blend in and not be as visible to those who might seek us.”
Susannah looked up sharply. “You expect us to be sought?”
“Oh yes…” sighed the servant. “There are always those who still seek.” He turned and left before she could ask more. But she watched him leave with narrowed eyes and increasing speculation.
Susannah also wanted to stomp her feet but she remembered what her mother had said: ‘To have told you would have endangered you…’ She let it go and went and got the children dressed.
Davy loved his buckskins and to his joy he looked like a Mohawk, especially once they had cut his hair. Mary and Sarah put on their dresses and then plaited each other hair into two braids. Susannah was the last to dress. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and realized that the deception would not be as hard to pull off as she had thought. With their clothes in a sack, they rejoined their uncle.
Her uncle was standing with a group of braves. She quickly realized that there were two different groups. She recognized several of the Cayuga braves but the others were unknown. It was also apparent that her uncle knew the second group quite well.
That Friday afternoon at Fort Augusta, Mr. Van Buren stood before an extremely displeased Committee of Treason.
“Well how was I supposed to know?” Van Buren wined. “Everything proceeded very smoothly. As you directed the Mayor brought the property. We have both been through it thoroughly and there is no sign of anything out of order. But now you say this about Fort Oswego*?!? I say again, how was I supposed to know?
“I ask you again, how was I supposed to know that Fort Oswego didn’t exist. That is was now called Fort Ontario and that it was still held by the British!!!!!” Van Buren was shrieking by the end.
“The only good part is that they can’t have got too far. We should be able to recapture them easily,” said one of the Committee members.
Looking at Van Buren, another man said. “Keep an eye on this Mayor. We want to know what he and his daughter do.”
Van Bren returned to Jaysberg poorer than he had expected to be. He had expected to be rewarded by the Committee for his work. If only the Widow Morden had married him like he wanted. He’d have been a man of property and had a couple of step-daughters to play with… Perhaps he should see what the Mayor’s widowed daughter was doing…
He arrived back in Jaysberg to find that he was out of luck on several front. The Mayor had moved his daughter into the Morden’s house and they had opened it up as the White Horse Inn. The tavern was full of locals drinking, playing cards and enjoying a meal. When he walked in the door expecting to be greeted, instead he watched as everyone in the room turned their back on him.
The Mayor’s daughter, Nancy Miller, came out from behind the wicket. The men in the tavern then stood and faced him. “You are not welcome here. You have accused the Mordens of treasonous activities ever since Alice declined your proposal. You have murmured against them at every opportunity. You have sewn hate and fear in our community. You paid the minister to shun the family and that poor woman went to her grave without the words of a pastor. Her children left our community without the Word to guide them. We have demanded the recall of the Minister and a new minister is coming soon. You have besmirched my name and that of my late husband and son. You will not start this again here. You are finished here.”
She paused but Van Buren did not move. He looked stunned at this unexpected accounting of his sins.
“Perhaps you require some assistance in departing,” Nancy said. “Gentlemen… would you please remove this man however necessary.”
Two hours later as the Mayor stood before the Committee in Fort Augusta, Van Buren was finding his saddle bags filled and himself ordered out of town. He had gambled and lost.
The last words he heard were. “You are a lawyer, time for you to go to a city and practice. There is no need for you here. Be off with you. We now raise the hue and cry and if you come back you will be hunted.”
The Mayor stood before the Committee to answer the charges laid by Van Buren. The Mayor had not to fear from a fact basis. His loyalty to the Patriots was unquestionable. Although too old to fight he had carried messages and housed soldiers, tended the injured and sent a portion of his crop to Philadelphia to feed the financially troubled Continental Congress. The Committee knew all of that. What they wanted to go over… again… was the disappearance of his son-in-law, Tom Miller, and 12-year old grandson, James Miller, five years prior. But on this score, the Mayor had little to add.
Prior to the War of Independence, the old French fort Oswego was abandoned in favour of one in a slightly different location on the Oswego River. It was called Fort Ontario. It burned and was rebuilt. During the War, in 1777, after the siege of Fort Stanwix, the British were temporarily abandoned Fort Ontario in order to regroup. The next season, in 1778, the second Fort Ontario was destroyed by American troops based at Fort Stanwix (now Rome, NY). Seeking a strong base from which to conduct raids the rebel-held New York State, the British reoccupied Oswego in 1782 and rebuilt Fort Ontario for the third time. It was not until 1796, the fort was turned over to the United States.
I should have noted that Jaysberg, PA, is now apart of Williamsport, PA. How Jaysberg lost out becoming the county seat is a story of intrigue and double crossing entirely of its own and I recommend reading it.
The village of Coregonal was rebuilt some years later, closer to Lake Cayuga, and grew into the city of Ithaca, NY.
The city of Oswego is on the shore of Lake Ontario. The Oswego river was widened and became a part of the Erie Canal system. With the canal, railroad and ferry links to Canada, Oswego became an important transportation hub from the middle of the 19th century. With the closure of the main rail yards in the late 1950s, Oswego has slid into a less prominent role. With a population of just over 18,000, it is a lovely city to visit and it comes recommended. Fort Ontario has been restored and is open to visitors.
I have wondered sometimes If I wouldn't enjoy having a sailboat on one of the big lakes up that way. Almost like a sea or ocean in my mind, but fresh water, and thus a good filter would solve the water problem easier. Then again it does get cold up there.
P.S. Hope your mountain of snow melts soon and spring warms things up for you.
This is so good.......as an Aussie, I knew little of the settlement of N. America as a child and have enjoyed learning history through relatives (I am also a genealogist) who have been uncovered over the years. Husband's family settled in Huntingdon Co PA after arriving in Baltimore from Ireland in 1770s.
I know little about the "real" Revolution and this is an eye-opener to me.......don't know which side to cheer for LOL.....
Laurane - I have been spending a lot of time looking at the War of Independence from the fur trade aspect as that was when the fur trade really exploded from Montreal as a number of leading traders came north to Montreal. This has led me to look into the politics of what was going on in Britain that led to them reaching such a disastrous state with 13 of their North American colonies. George III has become the boogey man, but the truth is that he was a constitutional monarch and that severely limited his response. Nor did his health issues aid him in responding appropriately. One of the best descriptions of what was going on at the same time around the British Empire was a short biography about the British Prime Minister Lord North ( http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/biographies/lord-north/ ). Just as George III tends to get blamed for everything, we have a tendency to look at the issues between the 13 Colonies and Britain in isolation. Britain was dealing with the massive debt from the Seven Years War (French & Indian Wars), India as a colony was experiencing major turmoil, there was the economic melt down in the East India Company, a continuing mess in Ireland, a threatened war with Spain over the Falkland Islands, and here were the 13 Colonies in a snit because North was reducing the tax on tea from the original 6 shillings to 3 shillings - money which was used to pay the judges and Governors of the Colonies... The lack of speedy communication and the agitation of a fairly small but influential group, egged on by the French (always eager to get back at the British) meant that when North had to focus on another issue and took his eyes off North American, things exploded.
Anyways... fascinating stuff. My favourite story is always about Ben Franklin, who was part of the forces that invaded Montreal and held it through the winter of 1775/76. He was tasked with bringing the French in Quebec on-side to support the newly declared nation. The problem was that he hated the French, and their language, and their faith, and their legal system. He refused to guarantee that they would keep any of it... unlike the British who had enshrined it in the British North American Act... and voila Quebec stayed British (and have bitched about it ever since...). The biography Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson is an excellent biography and well worth the read.
“This goes on too long!” exclaimed the head of the Committee of Treason slamming his hand on the table. “For five years… yes five years… we have allowed these people to live amongst us. They can furnish no proof that their husbands or sons are dead. Not a single one of them has actively assisted the Patriot cause. The time for sympathy is at an end. Arrest the lot of them! Seize their properties, chattels and livestock and sell them. The monies shall go to pay for our militia.*”
The Committee members nodded in agreement.
“New York’s governor Clinton does not permit any boy over the age of 12 to remain with a suspect family. Take their boys and enlist them. It is time that their minds be brought properly into accord with the direction of our Nation!
“We will sequester the women here at Fort Augusta. They can assist with the fields here to earn their keep.”
“What about the Morden children?” asked a more junior member of the Committee.
“On a personal level, they are immaterial. Their mother is dead. They have minimal furniture or assets. They have been taken by a paternal uncle who has a proven record as a Patriot in New York State. The issue of the father is a huge one but nothing has been found to indicate that he is alive. Van Buren was not able to find anything in their house. Only the oldest girl is really able to work so we acquire five more mouths we have to feed. The boy is too young to be sent into the Militia… But the example of letting them go is not good either. So I say we retrieve them.”
“Where do we stand on this legally?” inquired another Committee member. “I know that some of the States are treating the women and children as if they were innocent bystanders. What was that fancy term Van Buren used… ah… ‘femmes coverts’, being the legal responsibility of their husbands, with no political stance of their own. Some governments claim that they are not capable of deciding to become Loyalists. But we have seen this to be flimsy and not even New York State believes this. I have heard that some governments are allowing wives to claim their dower share of seized assets. I think we should permit this if the wife has shown herself to be an ardent Patriot, but that does not apply to any of these women. I say that with them unable to prove that their husbands are dead, we must assume that the husbands have joined the Tories. The wives, we must view as incriminated by the guilt of their missing husbands.”
“So are we agreed to send a posse out after the Morden children?” asked the Committee head, bringing the meeting back to order. The others all said “Aye!”
“The motion carries. I will ask the militia captain to prepare to arrest the four remaining widows in Jaysberg and to send a team out after the children. A four man team should suffice.”
It was a very angry Mayor who watched his daughter, Nancy Miller arrested, her two young daughters with her. Well… actually… he didn’t watch it silently and he was physically restrained as she was dragged from the Inn. When the Captain went to slap a proclamation on the door announcing the seizure of the property, the Mayor objected, stating that he had just bought it. At that point, the Mayor was arrested and the proclamation was also slapped on the door of his house. The other three women were brought forward, all had been beaten. Between them there were nine children between the ages of five and ten.
“There should be more children,” announced the Captain. “Where are your older children?”
The women remain silent.
“Fine,” said the Captain. “It just adds to your guilt. Under guard, you will each go back to your house and take your clothes, household linens and enough food for one week. After that your rations will be earned.”
One woman timidly held up a hand.
“May we take the family bible?” Constance Blauvelt asked.
The Captain considered this. This was he felt a reasonable request. “Yes, but it will be checked by myself to ensure that there is no seditious materials there in.”
“May we bring any kitchen utensils?” asked Mary Ostrander.
The Captain weighed the cost of getting these things for them versus letting them keep their own.
“Within limits,” he said. “A cauldron, a spider, a plate and tankard for each, a wooden spoon, and a kitchen knife. All else is to stay.”
“May we bring anything for the children to play with,” asked Molly Seegers.
“Ladies!” remonstrated the Captain. “This is not a holiday. You are all under arrest. The children may keep one toy. The rest goes so choose wisely.”
At this point, Mrs. Williams bustled in. An imposing woman, she looked at the Captain with measured distain. “And who is going to feed your men now that the tavern keeper has been arrested? Who is going to run our community with an even hand now that you have arrested the Mayor? How are we going to get our flour ground now that you have arrested the Miller’s wife? And that woman has run our brew house since her husband disappeared…” She stood there with her hands on her hips. “It would be appreciated that if these women need to be held captive if it could be done here so that the rest of us are not so inconvenienced.”
“I appreciate what you are saying,” said the Captain lamely. "But the orders of the Committee must be fulfilled. Men take them back to their houses."
As the arrests were being made, a tracker and three men were saddling up to go after the Morden children. The tracker had been given two sets of orders by the same man. The number two on the Committee did not feel the same urgency of locating the Morden children as the Committee head did. So he hired his brother to act as tracker.
The tracker then brought on board three of the community's rising stars to aid him. The problem was that their stars were rising on account of their paternal star rising. While politically connected, they were in fact dumber than stumps. But for this assignment their fathers wanted them bathed in glory but still avoiding the Militia. The boys had all the subtly of bulls in china shops and their idea of walking quietly though the woods was an amble accompanied by lots of chatter. The tracker had no doubt that they would find the Morden children but he very much doubted if the eager for adventure young men would survive the encounter.
By the time they left Fort Augusta, the tracker was ready to slit their throats himself and they were 36-hours behind the Morden party’s departure from Jaysberg..
Uncle Edgar spoke with the men who would guide them.
“Thayendanegea* and his warriors are on the move again. He has granted you safe passage through our territory,” one of the older men told her uncle.
“Thayendanegea does us a great honour,” said Capt. Eric Morden.
“It is good that you know that. Degonwadonti** has moved to the island. She and the children were driven out of Canajoharie by Sullivan,” another warrior said. “The children will be safe. The 84th Regiment has also established themselves there again.”
“We leave in an hour,” said another young warrior.
Susannah looked at him closely and realized that he was not an Indian. He looked back at her boldly and commented to one of his fellow braves. The other man turned and looked at her. Shock rooted her. It was the servant… She was confused. She was sure he had been a white man… The young man was still looking at her, and very boldly too. She blushed and he laughed. The servant clapped him on the shoulders and they turned back to the discussions.
One of the Cayuga women brought a pot of bear grease to Susannah. As much as she loathed the smell, there was no denying that it solved the bug problem, and the smell went away quickly once you were immersed in it. Susannah and the woman greased down the children and then Susannah filed a gourd with water for each and gave them a piece of hard tack to eat.
Let loose, Davy immediately went over to the men. The servant knelt down to speak with him. With the thousands of questions that every small boy has, Davy launched into his. The one Susannah heard most clearly was “Can I have feathers in my hair like you? I found these.” He held up three feather of the blue jay. The men laughed and patted the child while the servant, with quick fingers, tied the feathers into the child’s hair. Davey kept chattering away.
The older man who had first spoken. “I will call him Oron:iatsi’tha, the blue bird.”
Not wanting to be left out, Jane approached the man. “Can I have a proper name too?”
The man laughed and said he would call her Konwakeri after the daisy. Jane ran back to Susannah with a big smile on her face.
Davey leaned against the servant. “What are you called?”
The man looked at him. “I am called Esices.”
The men all smiled at him and Davy said, “Thank you Esices.”
Within the hour they were all up on their horses and headed north. Their saddles had been replaced with blankets and their fancy English bridles had been exchanged for the Indian version. This time Jane rode in front of Susannah and Davey rode with Esices. They had watched as the canoes with their possessions left the shores and headed north up the lake towards the mouth of the Seneca River. The Kanien’kehá:ka, or Mohawk, rode ahead and behind them. Three men moved ahead scouting the path. Two men dropped some distance behind to keep an eye on their back.
Altogether there were about fifteen Mohawk braves and the six from the Morden party. Everyone kept quiet. The small children dozed. Sarah and Mary were weary of each other’s company but managed for the most part to not fight with each other. Then again it’s hard to fight when you are riding on a horse with someone.
The young man rode right behind Susannah and she kept trying to ignore him. Jane was soon asleep and Susannah stopped to tie the child around her waist.
“I will help with Konwakeri,” the young man said. Susannah nodded.
“Thank you. What is your name?” she asked
“I am called Karhakon:ha+. It means Hawk,” he said.
“What was your name before?” she asked.
“I will tell you later. If it matters,” he said. He let his horse drop back behind her.
They stopped briefly at mid-day and continued until the shadows grew long. They stopped at what was obviously a regular stopping point. There was a shelter already set-up. Although the night was cool, no fire was lit. Instead after they had all eaten a meal of hard tack and pemmican, and taken a drink of water, they curled up next to each other and pulled blankets over them. For the children in the center it was warm and they all slept.
They were up and off early the next morning. They were moving along hunting trails that were barely visible to Susannah’s eye, but the men all treated it as if it were a major highway. Susannah continued to be impressed with how her sisters were behaving and she told them so. They puffed up with the praise and were glad that it had been noticed. The men were also kind and solicitous to the girls and Susannah felt reassured. Davy now refused to answer to anything but Oron:iatsi’tha and he kept the warriors amused with his tales of nonsense. Susannah watched him watch Esices and do everything that Esices did.
It was part way through the next morning when a crow cawed three times. The warrior on the lead horse, Sawatis:kor, raised his hand, “Tha'tesato:tat ! Be quiet. Satahon'satat! Listen…”
As the horses stilled. They could hear voices ahead and to the left.
“Tell me again why we are doing this?”
“Why are we hunting these kids?”
“Why did that damned Safety Committee want them anyways?”
“They’re Tories. The Committee wants their assets++.”
“Ryckman this is no trail!”
Then a low quiet voice said, “Men I am going to ask you again to hold silent. You have no idea what these woods hold.”
“Ryckman,” the another voice said. “Are you scared? Do you need your mama?”
“No boys… I cut those apron strings a long time ago. I am trying to teach you about how to track. We are deep into Mohawk territory and they are not exactly our allies,” said Ryckman. “It is easy for the tracker to become the tracked.”
But the fumbling and bumbling continued… the sound of a man being hit by tree branches and the other men laughing at him. Then they began grousing again.
Susannah watched men slid off their horses and slipped into the woods. Because she was watching for it, she saw the bows raised and arrows notched. They twanged and there were sharp cries as they found their mark. Then there was silence again.
Then they heard a choked cry “Oh my God! They killed them! George and Martin are dead. Where are they?!?!” The fear and panic in the voice was obvious. They could hear him spinning his horse around on the trail.
“Quit yapping!” growled Ryckman quietly. “You’ll bring every damn one of them down on us.”
Hawk and five of the other braves peeled off the line. Susannah was amazed at how quietly they moved. There was a shout of fear and a thud of a body hitting the ground. They could hear wimpering and pleading, then a screech of sheer terror. The braves brought back two scalps and the arrows. One man tied and gagged over a horse, two riderless horses, and a man with bound hands on a fourth horse. The line of horses continued north.
From start to finish, the entire episode had taken less than ten minutes, perhaps not even five… The scalps were added to the pole. They always made Susannah shudder but she knew men who had made good reward money for turning in scalps+++. She had even heard tell that Lieut. William Barton¤, a member of Maj. Gen. John Sullivn’s 1779 expedition, had told of Patriots expedition members participating in the scalping of Indian and Loyalist enemy. Regardless it still made her sick to her stomach to see them.
“We must keep the children quiet,” Esices told Susannah. “We don’t know yet if more were sent to find you.”
“But why find us at all? We are nothing special,” said Susannah.
“But you are,” said Esices. “But more for what they think you might represent than for what you actually do. Now we really must be quiet.”
Davy smiled at her and Esices moved his horse back up the line.
As he passed the man with bound hands, he said quietly. “We really must stop meeting like this Jack.”
“It’s an official posse this time. Orders are in my saddle bag. They want the Morden children but are willing to settle for their assets. You need to relay that they have also arrested and seized the assets of the Jaysberg widows. By the by, Gershom Cooper there is the son of the head of the Treason Committee.”
Esices gave a quick feral smile, “Now that’s good news… some ransom money for you both.”
Ryckman laughed. “Seeing how it was a sanctioned group, they might pay for me but I wouldn’t count on it being speedy. Mrs. Cooper will pay heaven and earth for her baby back. Worthless kid. The apron strings are a noose around his neck. But he does have a good memory, so have care letting him see you.
The horses moved on. By the time they stopped for lunch, Susannah was almost feeling sorry for the kid flung over the horse. Almost but not quite... he cried, whimpered and carried on making threats. She asked if she could sort him out. Esices smiled at her. When they stopped he was tied, still blind folded, to a tree.
“Tha'tesato:tat. Be quiet! Behave!” she ordered and slapped his face. “You think you are so smart. You come onto someone else’s land to try and kidnap children. You get your friends killed and still you cannot shut up.”
“Oh! Thank God! You speak English!” he said. Then quietly he whispered. “Help me. Untie me. Help me escape.”
“Stupid boy,” Susannah scoffed. “Why would I do that? It is nothing to me that you are now a captive. Perhaps you will fetch a good price. Perhaps we should just sell you back? Then we will send the money to the children you seek. Perhaps you will just run a gauntlet. Can you make it a mile? I doubt it… Perhaps we will just take your scalp. Such red hair will be distinctive trophy. Perhaps, we might let you live… then maybe you should use the brain God gave you. You are not a child but a man. Play time is over…past time for you to grow up and start to thinking for yourself.”
At this point, her uncle put his arm around her shoulder and drew her away. Behind her, she heard a shriek as a blade was drawn across his forehead. Gershom Cooper passed out.
Cooper and Ryckman were led away by four braves. They were left tied to a tree outside the gates at Fort Augusta. Cooper would carry the scar on his forehead his entire life. Every time he looked in the mirror, it was a reminder. But more than that, he could not get the girl’s words out of his head. As a captive he was nothing, his life was at the direction of others. He swore it would never happen again. As he hands were untied, he decided that no one would ever tie him up again. His friends had died because they had thought they were smarter than the tracker. They would never get the second chance he was given.
The Committee was not happy with Jack Ryckman but there was little they could do. Cooper told them about what had happened and the Committee had to accept that the failure of the young men to listen to their commander was responsible for the end result. With two of their sons dead, the Committee would not hire Ryckman again. He went back his farm and some months later was burnt out. Who is to say if there was a link. He and his family vanished into the maelstrom.
Young Cooper refused to bow to his father’s demands and his mother’s pleas. He decided instead to move further west. Before he left, he married his sweetheart, Amy Fraser. The young couple headed to St. Louis, which had survived an attack by the British in May 1780. Cooper took over one of the abandoned farms. He never went back to Fort Augusta. His sons were named George, Martin and Jack after the other members of the posse.
With the tracker and his compatriot returned. The four braves headed toward a farm north of Jaysberg. There they collected six boys and two girls between the ages of ten and thirteen. With children dressed in buckskins and everyone riding two to a horse, they headed north.
A woman working in a field outside of Fort Augusta was approached by a member of the Committee of Treason.
“It is lovely to watch the young geese fly north and know that they go to nest on northern lakes,” he told her. Then nodded and continued past.
The woman said nothing, but watched him leave. The fear in her heart eased and she renewed the work with the hoe.
By the time the Mordens and the Mohawks reached Fort Ontario, the children were all sore and exhausted. The canoes had arrived the day before and Susannah was relieved to find her things, but after only a short break the canoes left again, heading out east along the shore of Lake Ontario.
Whatever the fort had once been, it was no more. The charred remains of the palisade still stood, but all the buildings were gone. It was still a mess from the most recent American attack. At this point no one held it. It was simply a stopping point. Uncle Edgar pitched a tent and the children crawled inside as all four were soon asleep.
Susannah woke in the late afternoon and stiffly got up. As she came back from the woods, she saw some pussy willows down by the Oswego River. She cut a small piece and started to chew it. It quickly began to relieve her aches. Looking up, she saw that Hawk was watching her. She blushed and he laughed.
She got the children up and helped get dinner started. The men had caught several lake trout and an enormous lake sturgeon. Gutted, they were stuffed with wild garlic, put on sticks and angled over the fire. Susannah took some of the flour and made bannock and wound it around sticks and Mary and Sarah baked it over the fire. They all ate well that night.
“Where do we go from here Uncle?” asked Susannah. “Is your farm nearby?
“Not far, but for you the rest of the trip will be by canoe. The canoe men should be here shortly. Your Esices will go with you. I will go with the horses and meet you all there. We need to get out of here quickly. We don’t normally travel by night but we need to get away from here and the moon is full.
** Degonwadonti or Konwatsi'tsiaienni, called in English, Molly Brant, was the country wife of Sir William Johnson, 1st Baronet of New York, and the older sister of Chief Joseph Brant. She was hugely influential within the Five Nations Confederacy and viewed by the Patriots as an extremely dangerous woman for her ability to stir up the tribes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molly_Brant
*** Kanien’kehá:ka is the correct name for the Mohawk peoples
+++ Scalping is one of those things that makes us shudder. Academics, both Native and non, seem to have come to an agreement that the tradition of scalping existed before European contact because the Native North Americans believed that the hair whorl held your life force and so to take an enemy’s was to hold their life force. It was the Europeans who introduced the concept of paying a bounty for a scalp as a means of confirming the number of enemy dead. Both sides paid out a lot of money. Nor was the practice done solely by Native peoples. The is a statue in Boscawen, NH, dedicated to Hannah Dustin who was captured by Mohawk in 1697. She scalped 10 women and children and she is depicted holding the scalps. There are also records of monies paid out to Patriots and Loyalists for Indian and enemy scalps.
¤ September 13, 1779 journal entry of Lieutenant William Barton
Inherently we all know that the 'good guys' are never all good, just as the bad guys are necessarily all bad; we just rarely acknowledge that for the success and beginnings of this country many many people and cultures were tormented, abused and even killed outright. Funny how that never makes it into the history books... Very interesting story.
The canoes pushed off from the pebble shore. Davy and Jane were already asleep. Sarah and Mary fell asleep shortly thereafter. It had been a long day for all of them. As the full moon rose and bathed the world in black and silver, Susannah sighed at the beauty. The vast lake was calm but the far shore was not visible. The rhythmic stroke of the paddles and the sound of the water against the hulls of the canoes was hypnotic.
Susannah had been surprised. She had expected more Mohawk to be paddling but this looked to be a professional crew and French.
“Monsieur,” inquired Susannah politely. “How is it that you knew where and when to find us?”
With a smile flashing sharp white teeth, the small bandy man in a red stocking cap, said, “Mademoiselle, the Mohawk runner arrived yesterday morning and told us to meet you at Fort Oswego tonight. The journey for us is less than 75 miles. So while it is a long day for us, we can easily do it. We usually average about 60 miles in a day. Thankfully it is just easy canoeing, without portages.”
The man behind her laughed. “The lake unfroze last week and we are glad to back on it. Soon the northern rivers will to and we will be away for another season.” Susannah could hear the longing in his voice.
The first man then said, “We are all voyageurs. We work for the bourgeoisie of the Nine Parties Agreement. Antoine and Francois over there work for Fobisher. La Tulipe and Beauregard in that canoe work for McGill, and Pierre and LaMontagne behind us work for Wadden & St-Germaine. LaRose here and I are with McBeath again this year. We do the Montreal to Grand Portage section of the route taking up supplies for the Hivervants and bringing back the fur packets.
“We have spent the winter helping the 84th Regiment rebuild the fort. The bourgeoisie M. Wadden, his daughter Mme. Bethune, is married to the Regiment’s Chaplain. A fine young couple with a small boy… We carved him a small paddle to chew. His mother laughed but his father swore he would be a preacher. I think she hopes that he will be a fine bourgeoisie like his grandfather.”
Then LaTulipe sang out the old voyageur favourite Canot d'écorce*
“In my birch-bark canoe,
In the cool of evening I ride
For I have braved every tempest
Of the St. Lawrence’s rolling tide
And with each verse, the voyageurs sang back the last two lines. Their voices blended quietly but with a solid beat reinforced by the paddle stroke.
My canoe is of bark, light as a feather
That is stripped from silvery birch
And the seams with roots sewn together
The white paddle made of birch
I take my canoe, send it chasing,
All the rapids and billows across;
There so swiftly see it go racing
And never the current has lost.
It’s when I come on the portage,
I take my canoe on my back,
Set it on my head topsy-turvy;
It’s my cabin too for the night.
Along the river banks I’ve wandered,
all along the St. Lawrence’s tide
I have known the savage races
and the tongues that them divide.
When I must leave the great river
O bury me close to its wave.
And let my canoe and my paddle
Be the only mark over my grave.
You are my voyageur companion
I’ll gladly die within my canoe.
And on my grave beside the canyon
You’ll run across my canoe.
His cart is beloved of the ploughman,
the hunter loves his gun, and his hound;
The musician is a music lover
To my canoe, I am bound.”
They sang one song after another… A la Claire Fontaine… En Roulant Ma Boule… En Voyans de l’Avant… and Susannah dozed. She was startled awake when LaTulipe called out “pipée”. Paddles were neatly rested on the gunnels and the men pulled out their smoking pipes. The scent of tobacco mixed with that of the water and pine trees. Susannah thought that it was a lovely smell. She drank from her gourd and pulled a bit of pemmican from her food bag. Through the night, every hour, LaTulipe called pipée to give the men a 5-minute break.
“LaTulipe’s fine voice put him in great demad,” LaRose told Susannah. “The Church wanted to make him a priest but the rivers flow in his veins and he makes good money as the bougoisie McGill likes to hear him sing.”
On through the night the men paddled. As the sky brightened, Susannah realized that she could see the opposite shore. The men were paddling hard now as the great lake narrowed at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.
“We are less than an hour away now,” LaRose told her.
In the canoe ahead of her, Esices began to whistle. Susannah’s eyes narrowed and realization began to dawn with the sunrise.
“LaRose?” she asked. “Do you speak any Mohawk?”
“Bien sur ma petite,” he answered.
“What does Esices mean?” she asked.
LaRose tipped back his head and roared with laughter.
“Vous êtes découvert, mon ami” he called forward to Esices.
Eisces had the men in his canoe slow alongside Susannah. He looked at her. “It means father.”
I should also note that the Nine Parties (also called the 16-Parties Agreement) which was established in 1779 was the precursor to the North West Company which was formed in the winter of 1783-4. It was an attempt by the primary fur traders to reduce the brutal competition between the traders in the woods and interfering with the flow of commerce. In 1821, the NWCo amalgamated with the Hudson Bay Company. The young Bethune baby referred to grew up to be Angus Bethune, a partner in the NWCo and a Chief Factor for the HBC. He was the son of Veronique Wadin and the Rev John Bethune the Elder, and the grandson of the fur trader Jean Etienne Waden.
Landcruiser - I just wanted to say that it is to our great disadvantage that we have permitted the history taught in schools to become so dumbed down and with only a single view permitted. I wish I could say that it was limited to grade schools or high schools but sadly even the Universities are falling victim to this. Moreover, Canada and the UK are just as bad at doing this. History books are written by the victors, but the problem is that over time the victory is reduced to a paragraphs and our children never learn what or why it was a huge issue at the time. Just as scalping was a cultural part of war, it was the Europeans in North America that gave it an economic value. Just as slaves existed as a part of warfare in both North America and Africa, it was the Europeans who commercialized it on a vast scale. But the history and complexity of both gets dumbed down to a paragraph in a grade 4 textbook.
Mr. Williams and his good wife stood before the Committee of Treason at Fort Augusta.
“And why did you not give us these papers earlier?” asked a frustrated Mr. Cooper.
“Ahhh... Well… we hadn’t come here until today,” said the plodding Mr. Williams, whose initiative had apparently been trampled under by his wife years before.
“Could you not see that they would be of importance!” demanded an irate Mr. Smith.
“Well Sirs... I don’t rightly knows what they say. I never learned to read, although I can write enough to put my name down. I was asked to bring them to you by Mr. Van Buren, alongs with that there packet the next time I came to the Fort,” said Mr. Williams.
“Alright. The two of you may go. We thank you for bringing these to us and wish you well on your return home,” said Mr. Ryckman.
The Williams turned and left. For the first time in her life, Mrs. Williams had held her tongue, and her husband who wasn't nearly as simple as the Committee had been led to believed, hustled them out to their replenished wagon and they headed out. As they passed the fields, they saw their former neighbours working the field. Mrs. Seeger, who had always been stout, had obviously lost a significant amount of weight for her dress hung on her in an ill-fitting manner. Nancy Miller was almost skeletal. Around them in the field their young children were also being put to work. Mrs. Ostrander raised her head and looked at them and the guard caught her such a clout that she fell to the ground.
“That is not right,” said Mr. Williams to his wife. “I don’t care who you are. Starving women and children and making them work like slaves is not right. I did not fight for this.”
Mr. Williams flagged down another carter on the track.
“Please tell me sir to whom these fields belong?”
The man looked at Mr. Williams and then at the women and children in the field. His countance grew dark.
“Those are the field of Mr. Smith of Fort Augusta. His workers are honourable widows being required to pay for their husband’s supposed crimes. It is a sad day when a child of four is deemed old enough to work a full day in the field and denied food if they do not complete their tasks. The Governor has been written but until he replies, they are the law here. You would do best to move along and not be seen asking again.”
Mr. Williams moved forward. Once out of ear shot, his wife looked at him.
“Husband, I don’t know where they stashed the older children but I am glad not to see them there as well. Tonight I will add to my prayers your continued good health. Should something happen to you, there is no saying that I would not end up there too.”
In the meeting room the Committee looked at the papers brought in. The first were for the Probate records and recorded the guardianship of the Morden children.
"Know all men by these Presents That we Susannah Morden, Sarah Morden, Mary Morden, David Morden and Jane Morden, all minors aged 14-years, 8-years, 7-years, and twins of 5-years respectively, children the late Alice Morden, deceased, and John Morden (presumed deceased these past five years) late of Jaysburg on the west side of Lycoming Creek, along the West branch of the Susquehanna River, in the State of Pennsylvania, we, des'd have named, ordained and made & by these Presents do put, & constitute Capt’n Edgar Morden of Fort Ontario in the New York Military Tract, brother of our deceased father, late a Captain in the Army of the Continental Congress, to be our Guardian with full power and authority for us and our name & to our use to ask, demand, sue for recovery, receive and take into his Possession and Custody all and Singular such part and portion of the Estate as accrues to us in Right of my Hon'd Mother and Father afores'd or which may by any other way or means whatsoever doth of Right, appertain or belong to me & to manage, Employ and Improve ye same for my best advantage and Profit during my minority & to do all and whatsoever may be necessary in & about ye Premises as fully & Effectually to all Intents and Purposes as I myself might or could do personally being of full age, praying that he may be accordingly accepted in ye same power & trust. In Testimony whereof I, Susannah Morden, on behalf of myself and my siblings, have hereunto Set my Hand and Seal this 6th day of April A.D. 1782 & in ye sixth year of the Republic of the United States of America
In presence of Jno Miller. (Signed) Susannah Gowdy.
The above named minor personally appeared before me and acknowledged this Instrument or Letters of Guardianship to be their free act and deed which I allow and approve of — J. VanBuren.
The second item was Alice Morden’s will in which everything was itemized and left to her daughter Susannah with the expectation that under her uncle’s guidance it would be distributed to the other children as was appropriate. The valuation of the estate was not more than £325 5s 6d. Noted at the top of the will was the following:
"John VanBuren, Esq., legal representative to the Committee of Treason, Fort Augusta, Pennsylvania, to Alice Morden of Jaysburg on the west side of Lycoming Creek, along the West branch of the Susquehanna River, in the State of Pennsylvania. Be advised that whereas your husband, John Morden, believed deceased, late of Jaysburg on the west side of Lycoming Creek, along the West branch of the Susquehanna River, in the State of Pennsylvania having while he lived and at the time of his surmised decease Goods, Chattels, Rights, and Credits in the County aforesaid, lately died intestate, and you are required to render a full inventory of said estate before the sixth day of April, Year of our Lord 1782. By order of J. VanBuren"
At the bottom of the Will was the notation that a 15% tax had been imposed on Mrs. Morden’s assets as per VanBuren’s direction and paid in the amount of £48 7s 5d. And that the amount had been duly rendered to VanBuren. This was signed by Mayor Miller.
The Committee members looked at each other quickly. This was a couple of huge problems. One VanBuren was not a part of the Committee. So there was misrepresentation and outright theft done in their name. As there was no money included, so it was surmised that VanBuren had kept it. And secondly, Article VIII of the Articles of Constitution did not permit the Federal government to impose a tax*, so what the heck was VanBuren doing? They quickly called in Mayor Miller from his place in the fields.
Ryckman and Cooper were instantly concerned by the man’s appearance. He had lost a lot of weight in the two weeks, his colour was very bad and his breathing laboured. He had also been doing forced labour for Smith. When they asked him about the tax paid on Mrs. Morden’s estate, Miller quickly concurred that VanBuren had been paid and he had witnessed the payment.
Ryckman and Cooper then stepped out with Miller to get a handle on what was going on. On hearing the work situation and the fact that if not all work was completed to Smith’s satisfaction, no one was fed, children included, Cooper and Ryckmen had all of the Jaysberg widows and children removed from Smith’s tender mercies. They had their own wives bathe and feed the women and children. They were then put in a cabin behind the Cooper house and a guard placed at the door.
The problem with the Jaysberg widows was that no one believed their husbands or sons were still alive. So any attempt to auction the properties and their contents met with flat refusals to purchase of allow anyone else to do so. The people of Jaysberg also thought that the Militia captain had been heavy handed with the Mayor and complaints had been lodged in Philadelphia, where the Mayor was viewed in very favourable terms. This whole matter was turning into a nightmare for the Committee and now the tax on the Morden’s was adding to it.
With growing concern, Ryckman turned and looked at Cooper. “Do you suppose anyone one else in Jaysberg has been forced to pay this tax by VanBuren?
*The United States Constitution, adopted in 1787, authorized the federal government to lay and collect taxes, but required that some types of tax revenues be given to the states in proportion to population. Tariffs were the principal federal tax through the 1800s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxatio...States#History
What a very interesting interpretation of our history you are unfolding. I have to confess, DH and I are descended from several DAR and SAR persons and have never given a thought to the "other side" at all. This just whits my appetite to know more about the history you are revealing. I appreciate the side notes and references you list. Quite a challenge you have undertaken to flesh out this story and make it appealing to your readers. Thank you.
What we are is God's gift to us.
What we become is our gift to God.
Susannah looked at the Mohawk warrior in the other canoe and tried to see the father she had known, but couldn’t.
“My father?” she asked for clarification.
“Yours,” he said, “But not theirs.”
“I don’t understand,” Susannah said.
“I know,” said Esices. “Do you know what happened to your mother when she was young?”
Susannah thought for a moment. “I know that she was born in Philadelphia shortly after her parents arrived from England. I know that she had two brothers - older brother who died when he was a child and younger brother who also died. The family was granted land near where Jaysberg is but they lost everything in a fire when my mother was about 13-years old and they decided to rebuild in Jaysberg and run a store. Other than that, she never talked about her family and I never met my grandparents.
Escies pondered all of this for a moment and then said. “Well that is true and not true. But talking over the gunnels of the canoes is a hard way to tell a story and we are going to be arriving shortly, so we will talk this evening.”
‘True and not true’ rang in her ears as she watched their canoes approached an island. It was about 12 miles below the entrance of Lake Ontario, having Grand Isle¤ on one side, separated by less than a mile. The south shore of the river was one mile and a quarter on the other side. Originally called Buck or Deer Island, it had been renamed of Carleton Island in honour of the previous Governor. The ground was certainly favourable for fortification, and the Fort commanded a wide and safe harbor at the upper end, looking toward the lake.
“C’est le Fort Haldimand, ma petite,” said LaRose. “C’est notre destination. La voila! We arrive.”
The canoes pulled up at the glide up to the dock beside the warehouses. Susannah looked around her in astonishment. There was a beehive of activity going on at the shipyards.
Benoit waved at a man in heavy work gear.
“C’est Lieut. John Shank¤¤,” Benoit told her. “He is with the Navy not the Army. He is responsible for establishing the shipyard¤¤¤ at here and the construction of vessels. They have built a whole lot of small whale boats, 20' to 25' two-masted and oar-assisted, to be used for military raiding parties against the Continental Army's rear guard in the Mohawk Valley. Very good boats too.”
Susannah supposed that the quality would be a big issue for a man like Benoit whose entire life and livelihood depended on having quality boats.
The fort was still under construction but it was imposing after the palisaded walls of Fort Augusta. Everywhere there were people and the multitude of languages amazed her – French, English, Mohawk and a couple of other Native languages, Scots and Irish Gaelic, and German.
“So many people,” murmured Susannah.
“I have been told that there are more than a thousand here,” Esices told her. “There are British and German mercenary soldiers, we Mohawks and allied Natives, members of the Loyalist regiments, Loyalist refugees, slaves, and even some free Black Loyalists.
The children gawked at the throngs working on the boats and milling around the docks.
“Come,” Esices said to the children.
Susannah turned and thanked LaRose and Benoit. “May the rivers clear soon for you and may it be a good season,” said Susannah. They beamed at her.
She tuned and followed Esices and her siblings up the hill from the dock. The layout of the Fort was very attractive. Instead of living in the barracks, to the north of the Fort, the officers had built large houses surrounded by gardens where they lived with their families, servants and slaves.
Esices pointed down to the end and said “That is where we are going but first we must stop and pay our respects to Degonwadonti.”
He stopped and knocked on a barrack door.
“Would Degonwadonti be available for us to pay our respect to?” he asked the male servant who answered the door. Susannah was surprised to see that the servant was a white man. “Please tell her that we were successful in recovering the children.” The man smiled and opened the door wider.
“I am sure that she will be pleased to see you. She was asking at breakfast this morning if you had arrived back,” said the man, opening the door wide. “Please wait here.”
“Thank you,” said Esices.
The man went through a door and the children all heard a burst of laughter.
“Wonderful. Bring them in!”
The rough log barracks had been beautifully furnished inside. The walls had been plastered and beautiful drapes hung on the glass windows. ‘Glass!” thought Susannah. At the fireplace, a woman in rough homespuns was heating something wonderful smelling. In the center of the room was a very richly, formally dressed Native woman. Molly Brant, also called Degonwadonti or Two-Against-One, was a tall imposing Mohawk woman in her late forties. Her parents had been Anglican converts and she had been raised in a very European-styled environment. From there she had become the country-wife* of Sir William Johnson for 16-years and run his imposing residence and farm. She had been to Europe and received in the Court of George III. She may have been Native but she had adopted all the most convenient features of the Anglo-lifestyle.
“She:kon Degonwadonti. Skennenko:wa ken? Hello Degonwadonti. How are you?” asked Esices.
“Skennenko:wa Tawit. Ok ni:se'? I am fine Tawit. And you?” answered Miss Molly. “Are these your children? Naho:ten ronwati:iats? What are their names?”
“Yes, this is my daughter Susannah and her siblings Sarah, Mary, Davy and Jane. Davy and Jane are known as Oron:iatsi’tha and Konwakeri. Children, this is Miss Molly Brant, head of the Matrons of the Five Nations.”
The girls bobbed a curtsey and Davy bowed.
“And so they are too,” said Miss Molly chucking them under the chin. Davy smiled up at her.
“Miss Molly,” he asked, “what smells so good?’
“That young Oron:iatsi’tha is hot chocolate. It is a Dutch drink that reminds me of my home on the Mohawk River. It is a great favourite of mine and maybe one day we will drink it together,” she replied.
“I would like that,” said Davy, who then with childlike impatience asked, “Will that day be soon?”
Miss Molly laughed.
“I am taking the children to the Morden house. Their aunt Charlotte will be there and will take them under her wing and get them settled,” said Esices.
“It is perhaps for the best,” she agreed. “I will let my brother know that you are back. The warriors are out harassing the Patriots again.”
Turning to Susannah, she took her hands and said, “We will talk another day Little Sister, when you are more settled and have had a chance to hear.” Susannah nodded.
They took their leave and continued down the worn path past the log church and beside another log house. This one had a fence around the front. In the door, stood an imposing man.
Esices nodded to her. “Good day Rev. Bethune. If you have a moment, I would like to introduce you to my daughter and her sisters and brother.”
The Rev John Bethune smiled and stepped out of his door, as the garrison chaplain, he was well used to greeting visitors.
“It is good to see you Tawit,” said Bethune reaching out his hand over the fence to shake Esices’ hand.
“Children,” said the Minister. “We look forward to seeing you in church on Sunday.”
The girls bobbed another curtsy and Davy bowed.
Beyond the church the road stretched on with wood frame houses on either side. Their fences enclosed gardens with flowers and vegetables and women working in both.
“These are the officers houses,” Esices told them and he led them down the road. “Your uncle’s house is towards the end. You will all be staying there with his wife, your Aunt Charlotte.”
At the door of a white clapboard house stood a plump woman with dark brown hair and cheerful eyes. She came running out to the gate and opened it wide.
“Oh you poor little chicks…” sniffled Mrs. Morden over the younger children. Then looking at Esices with distaste, she said, “I suppose we have to take her too.”
“She is their sister and that was the agreement’” responded Esices. “None of them know yet. I will be back to speak with Susannah this evening to explain everything. Susannah has control of all the children’s assets, so watch how far you push things. Now, I must report to the commander. Good morning to Mistress Morden.”
He nodded to the children. Then to Susannah, he said quietly. “Go along with what she asks for today, we will sort everything out with your uncle when he arrives tomorrow.”
“Well I never!” huffed Charlotte Morden. A childless woman in her early thirties, she had been initially excited to find out that they would be adopting her late brother-in-law’s children, but then she had found out about the older girl and all joy ended. Really it was just too much.
“Now girl,” she said to Susannah. “You go around back and help Abigail with anything she needs help with. The small ones can come with me.” She then swept the girls and Davy up the steps and shut the door firmly as Susannah stood dumbfounded in the gateway.
She closed the gateway and walked around to the back of the small house. There she found a painfully thin black woman hanging up the laundry. ‘Well best get to it,’ thought Susannah as she put down he bag and took off her cloak. She strode over in time to help the woman get the heavy linen sheets over the drying line.
“Well thank you!” said the black woman.
“Are you Miss Abigail?” asked Susannah.
“That I am, but you don’t have to ‘Miss’ me?” said Abigail Henderson.
“Why wouldn’t I?” asked Susannah. “It would be rude to address you so familiarly.”
“Oh honey,” smiled the woman. “You would be the young Miss Morden that has Mistress Morden in such a tizzy. Well in her mind there is not a whit of difference between the two of us – me a slave and you being a half-breed.”
¤ Grand Isle is now called Wolfe Island and is part of the City of Kingston, Ontario.
¤¤ “Lieut. John Schank was descended from a very ancient Scottish family whose records extend beyond the reign of Robert Bruce. He was born in 1740, and went to sea at an early age in the merchant service, serving for the first time on a man of war in 1757, the Elizabeth of 74 guns commanded by Sir Hugh Pallisser. He came to America as a midshipman on the Barfleur, a 98 gun ship. He was inventor of the center board for vessels and built the first one of the kind for Lord Percy in "Boston in 1774. He was promoted to a lieutenancy in the Navy in 1776, and immediately thereafter, superintendent of the Naval Department at St. Johns. A great feat of Lieut. Shanks was the building of the Inflexible, a vessel of 300 tons having only the help of sixteen carpenters, completely fitting her out, manning, equipping, arming, and successfully fighting her against an enemy in six weeks from the laying down of her keel. In 1778 he was sent to Carleton Island by Gen. Haldimand to arrange for the building of vessels and gun boats for Lake Ontario, and at one time he had the direction of four dock yards located at Quebec, St. Johns, Carleton Island, and Detroit. He was no less celebrated for his skill in construction, than for his economical expenditure of the public money, at a time when perculation was the well neigh invariable characteristic of the British disbursing officer. In 1780 he was promoted to be a Master and commander in the Navy, and in 1783 he became a post-captain. He passed through the various grades of Admiral, and reached that of Admiral of the Blue [in command of ships], July 19, 1821. He was the inventor of many improvements to vessels....” Carleton Island and the Old Fort by Maj. J.E. Durham of Cape Vincent, NY.
¤¤¤ The shipyard at Carleton Island also produced the twenty-two gun brig sloop Ontario in 1780. She was the largest war ship on the Great Lakes at the time.
"Ontario floundered on Halloween night of 1780 in a sudden and violent hurricane while en-route from Fort Niagara to Oswego. At least eighty-eight men, women and children perished, including her Captain, James Andrews. No wreckage was ever found and only 6 bodies eventually washed up on shore. News of this great military loss was kept secret for a number of years. To this day, the exact location of the wreck remains a mystery. Many marine archeologists believe Ontario may remain in pristine condition in her deep, cold fresh water grave in the depths of Lake Ontario." Doran Bay Ships
The shipyard also produced the Limnade similar in size, although rigged and masted differently than Ontario. The sixteen-gun Haldimand was stationed at Carleton Island, it ruins lie at the bottom of the North (Shanks) Bay at Carleton Island today as well as those of the gunship Charity.
*Country-wife – is the name given to denote the formal relationship between native women and Johnson’s selection of Molly and her step-father’s condoning of the relationship was for the same reason as that of the fur traders. These alliances brought the European man into the hearths of the Native peoples as kin. Usually it was done because the couple being married beyond the reach of the clergy, but in the Colonies the issue was often that the clergy refused to perform the marriages. Certainly, Sir William Johnson viewed Molly as his partner and she was accorded that respect by the people she dealt with and who called on them. Sir William Johnson’s duty was to promote the British as the primary ally for the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. Molly’s duty was to do the same and she did so with great effectiveness. US documents tend to refer to her as his “consort”, while his first wife, a German woman was referred to as his common-law wife. Technically he was lawfully married to neither.
Those "whaling boats" interest me. I have sailed a bit, and always thought taking such a boat out on a large lake would be fun. (Kind of an extended camping trip with a boat that could haul a fair amount of supplies.)
Would love to be posting it but am waiting for some confirmation on some of the history (especially the Mohawk side)... that's always the challenge when writing and fitting things in around real events... Hope to be back with you soon.
At Susannah’s stunned look of surprise, Miss Abigail laughed. “Which part of that are you having a hard time with?” she asked. “What with Tawit being your daddy and him being a Mohawk and your Mamma being an English girl, what did you expect?”
Susannah looked at her. “Well,” she said. “I just found out a couple of hours ago that Esices is my father. So all the implications haven’t filtered through yet… I’ve always just been the oldest Morden girl… The one who sewed well, and in time would become a dressmaker like her mama. And… well… I am kind of surprised that there are slaves here. You are the first slave I ever met outside of Philadelphia. I thought that Canada didn’t have slaves.”
“Well,” said Miss Abigail, “There are a number of us here on the island. Some free. Some not. The Mordens owned me before they came north, so I remain a slave. Others who came here as free men, have remained so. Some have even joined the Colonial Regiments and now fight for the British. Some runaway slaves enlisted too, so they’ll be free if they live. The French have slaves too, both Negros and Natives. They called the Native slaves, Panis, but they only keep them a couple of years and then set them free. The Negro slaves kept by the French have done really well. I heard tell the French think that only the very rich get Negro slaves so they treat’m well…”
“I didn’t send that girl back here to jaw with you!” shouted a voice from the back door. “You two get in here and get lunch started the children will be hungry soon. I heard tell you even fed the pemmican!”
Susannah replied, “Yes, Mistress Morden we did eat pemmican and bannock and fresh fish while on the trail. It was the last of the batch that my mother had made…”
“Do not speak to me girl unless I ask you a question,” thundered Mrs. Morden. “You have no place in this house. You are here under sufferance and make no mistake, you are not welcome!”
“I see,” said Suannah. She had had enough. There had been enough turmoil in her family’s life over the past several years and she was not going to tolerate this nonsense from this woman.
She walked past Mistress Morden and into the kitchen, but rather than stopping as expected, Susannah marched through into the living room. She scooped up Jane and took Davy by the hand.
“Girls,” she said to Sarah and Mary. “Please leave the books on the table and come with me.” The girls both looked scared and had tears on their cheeks. Mary’s were very red and when she turned her face towards Susannah, there was an obvious hand print.
“These are my siblings and legally I have direction of them. How dare you hit Mary?!” Susannah was now thoroughly outraged.
Mistress Morden moved to block the door. “Get out of my way. Right now!” growled Susannah, her fury evident.
“I told those children that you were no more than a dirty Indian and they had no cause to mind you!” screamed Mistress Morden.
Susannah laughed. “Really!?! Can you even hear yourself? There is nothing dirty about any of us. As for being an Indian, Tawit may well be my father, but I am very much my mother’s daughter!”
Susannah turned and led the children back down the road.
“Thank you for saving us Susannah!” said Sarah. She and the other children hugged Susannah hard around the waist.
“She was so mean,” said Mary. “She said we’d never be allowed to see you. Something about you not influencing us… and that you weren’t really any kin of ours. What did she mean? She said that you were a half-breed?”
“I am not sure of the whole story, but Esices said he would tell me tonight,” said Susannah. “Whatever he tells me though, you are my sisters and brother and that is. Our Mama was Alice Morden and she loved each of us fierce like. I grew up believing that Johnny Morden was my Pa just like yours and for now we just have to know that he loved us too.”
A whistle stopped them. Miss Abigail stood at the fence with Susannah’s bag and cape.
“You have any problems at all finding a place to set your heads… You go ask for Jerimiah Jones and tell him I sents you. Hims free and a good man. He’ll finds you a place to stay,” said Miss Abigail. “Or go back to the Miss Molly. She’ll do right by you. My people could use a few like her.”
Esices had asked her to stay but the twenty minutes they had been with Charlotte Morden was more than enough. She was debating which way to go, when the Rev Bethune came out of his house. Being one of two people she knew, she figured he would help her and if not she’d go to Miss Molly.
“Pardon my interrupting Rev. Bethune,” Susannah began. The man started clearly not expecting the children he had just met to be there on the road. “Mistress Morden seems to think that there are some problems with our family and I am afraid that the placement will not work. Could you direct me to my Esices Tawit?”
Rev. Bethune snorted with laughter. “Mistress Morden has that problem with a number of families. Tawit will be in a council for much of the day but I will have someone take you out to his mother.”
It struck Susannah that acquiring a new father would mean acquiring all sorts of new relatives. She hadn’t quite wrapped her brain around all of that yet. Behind the Reverend, soldiers were filing into the Church.
“Oh!… I am sorry to be keeping you from a service Sir,” said Susannah.
“Oh, you’re not,” he replied. “Unfortunately Miss Morden, I am unable to offer you lodging. Our regiment is in very tight quarters at this moment. As you can see, even the Church and Rectory play dual roles as barracks. Now your grandmother should be able to house you all…”
“I will take them out Rev. Bethune,” said a voice behind her.
“Karhakon:ha!” exclaimed Susannah. “You are back! Did my uncle come with you?”
He smiled at her. She blushed.
“No. Capt. Morden is helping a group of refugees we met up with. He kept two horses and I brought the rest with me.” Hawk told her.
“Karhakon:ha!” Davy said tugging on his arm. “Did you know that Aunt Charlotte said I couldn’t be called Oron:iatsi’tha,” Davy told him with great indignation. Hawk knelt down beside the boy. “She was going to take my feathers away too and cut my hair so I’d be civilized. Why do I want to be civilized?”
“And she said that I couldn’t be called Konwakeri either,” said Jane told him. “I said why not. It’s a pretty name. She said we had to leave all of that behind and she wouldn’t let me see Sus.” Giving Susannah a death grip hug.
An indignant Sarah then added, “Aunt Charlotte called Susannah a dirty half-breed and told us that we couldn’t see her anymore. Then she told us we had to go to some far off place… Some place called Quebec… to go to school with nuns. When Mary told her that we had to stay with Susannah, she slapped Mary!”
“Hmmm… It’s really rather amazing how much of a mess can be created inside half an hour,” Susannah told the men. “Now I do need to take the children somewhere… Rev. Bethune, you said that that Tawit’s mother lives here. Do you think she would be comfortable with all of us descending on her?”
Hawk laughed. “Owera is nothing if not hospitable. You’ll like her.”
“Thank you Rev. Bethune,” she said, and they took their leave..
As they walked down the street, Hawk looked sideways at Susannah.
“Your things have arrived. They are down at the warehouse.” He stopped and turned to her. “You need to go with gifts. You can’t show up empty handed… Also there is a shortage of food, so if there is any of that you can bring it would be a good idea.”
“Why is there a shortage of food?” asked Susannah.
“Well,” said Hawk, “It’s because the Commander doesn’t want the soldiers out hunting. He’s worried that they will desert. There isn’t a squirrel left on the island. We bring in deer and sell it to them but really it’s the wrong time of year to be hunting deer. The fishing has been good so we are all eating better than we were, but it’s been a hard winter.”
They went down to the warehouse. Along the way, they saw LaRose and Benoit playing dice with some other voyageurs. They waved and kept going. At the warehouse, Susannah went in with Sarah, while they others stayed with Hawk. She found her carrying casket and filled it with a variety of things – small packets of flour, wild rice, blueberries and raspberries, a large lump of sugar, and the rest of their pemmican. She then replaced her hard-soled shoes with her moccasins. She then took one of small bundles of calico and folded it and put it on top of the food. She didn’t know where the chickens and pigs had gone but she hoped that Mistress Morden didn’t have them. She’d have to ask Hawk.
They came out to find, Hawk had taught Davy and Jane a little canoe song:
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven eight, nine, ten.
That's how many numbers I have learned to count - ten.
They walked east away along the path the paralleled the north shore of the island, past the Native graveyard to the Native encampment.
“Slave-owning Loyalists from across the former Thirteen Colonies brought their slaves with them as slavery was also legal in Canada. Some 2000 slaves arrived in British North America: Some 500 in Upper Canada (Ontario), some 300 in Lower Canada (Quebec) and 1200 in the Maritime colonies of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The presence and condition of slaves in the Maritimes would become a particular issue, because of their larger number and the lack of plantation agriculture.
In due course many would be freed and returned to Africa, together with existing freedmen, to be re-settled yet again, this time in the designated colony for freedmen, Sierra Leone. Meanwhile an imperial law in 1790 assured prospective immigrants to Canada that their slaves would remain their property. From 1793, the trade in, but not the possession of, slaves was abolished in the colony of Upper Canada. The trade in slaves was abolished across the British Empire in 1807 and the abolition of possession was completed across the Empire in 1834. Most Black Loyalists were free, however, having been given their freedom from slavery by fighting for the British or joining British lines during the Revolution. The government also helped them resettle in Canada, transporting nearly 3500 free blacks to New Brunswick.” Source: Wikipedia
Well I see I don't like them having to keep soldiers on post to keep them from deserting, if they are wanting to desert and not allowed to, then that is kinda evidence that maybe whatever they are fighting for isn't what the average person supports?
The Snotty attitude toward those kids also ticks me off. Another case of someone thinking that they are better than another, and probably couldn't function if some of those they look down their nose at didn't do everything for them.
Good for the little girl on taking things in hand and leaving. That is what freedom is supposed to be about, the right to live as ya want to without someone making you do what you don't want to do.
Hope the kids find a good place to set up and live free like they wish.
Thank you for all the details. Just goes to show that there is good and bad everywhere.
NOTICE: Timebomb2000 is an Internet forum for discussion of world events and personal disaster preparation. Membership is by request only. The opinions posted do not necessarily represent those of TB2K Incorporated (the owner of this website), the staff or site host. Responsibility for the content of all posts rests solely with the Member making them. Neither TB2K Inc, the Staff nor the site host shall be liable for any content.
All original member content posted on this forum becomes the property of TB2K Inc. for archival and display purposes on the Timebomb2000 website venue. Said content may be removed or edited at staff discretion. The original authors retain all rights to their material outside of the Timebomb2000.com website venue. Publication of any original material from Timebomb2000.com on other websites or venues without permission from TB2K Inc. or the original author is expressly forbidden.
"Timebomb2000", "TB2K" and "Watching the World Tick Away" are Service Mark℠ TB2K, Inc. All Rights Reserved.