It was a lovely late July morning. Already the cool morning breezes were warming and within hours it would be stinking hot. It may not have been the home of her childhood, but this second home had become the home of her heart. For ten years she had lived in Montreal, raising her young siblings until they were grown and had flown the nest. Here she had learned a new language, built a business and found her heart’s desire.
Her sister Sarah, who had been eight at the start of their adventures, had married a young farmer from up at the Lac de Deux Montagnes. She now had a four month old boy who she had called Johnny in honour of their late father. Little Jane had grown to be quite the young lady. Now almost sixteen, blonde and buxom, she had caught the eye of swaggering fur trader, a bonvivant almost twice her age. He had courted her through the winter and before he headed off for the Season, promised he would return come the fall. So Jane was waiting for him and preparing her trousseau. Davy had signed up with his future brother-in-law as an engage and gone with him to the woods of the Haut Pays.
She got letters on a regular basis from the others. Alice Carpenter had married Johan Ryckman when he had returned from war. They had settled in Adolphustown where they were joined by other Ryckman kin. They had four little ones. Her mother Allison Carpenter had gone initially to New Johnstown with the other widows but eventually joined her daughter and son-in-law in Adolphustown. Over time the three Carpenter boys – Felix, John and Ben – had signed on as engages in the fur trade. Felix with his fine organizational skills rose quickly to become senior clerk with a post in the Fond du Lac area. John ventured further into the English River system. As hivervant, those who winter over, both had taken Metis wives and Susannah knew they would never be back regardless of their mother’s pining. Ben would never be back either. He was lost in his first season on one of the rapids on the French River. A broken vermillion painted paddle marks where the river claimed him. His body never found. Oha:kwaront and Finn remained with the Mohawk. Finn had four children and Oha:kwaront has three. Their mother still struggles with their choice to remain with the Mohawk and continues to mourn their loss rather than celebrate their survival and happiness. Jane Carpenter had gone tired of her mother’s constant moan of what had been lost and joined Susannah in Montreal at the age of 15. She had worked for Susannah for a year before marrying a nice young man whose mother had been an Iroquois captive before being sold to the French. She now lived in the village of St Laurent on the far side of Mount Royal.
Mary Ostrander had remarried and settled into New Johnstown. She had been impressed with the improvement that she had seen in Sally from her time with Mistress Best. But Sally was still Sally and convinced of only one way in the world. On one of her visits to Montreal, she had met a dashing young British officer garrisoned there. In a whirl and a flash, Sally had up and married him, as much for his secure future as for her ticket out of the woods. They had remained only a year in Montreal before his unit returned home to England. They were then shipped out to India. There in some luxury and comfort, Sally had followed the seasonal migratory pattern of the memsahib going to the hill forts from May through October. Over time, they had all lost touch, but the first boat this year had brought two young children and their ayah. The letter they carried advised Mary that Sally had died in one of the frequent uprisings and that her husband, who was ill with typhus, was unlikely to survive. The two orphaned children, Thomas and his sister Ann, quickly became accustomed to the rougher world around them, although Ann would sometimes cling to her Ayah crying in Hindi for her parents. Mary recognized in the young Ayah a kindred spirit and the two women, so different in age and life experience, settled in happily together. Mary’s bemused husband could only shake his head and smile at his wife’s happiness. He had taken his young stepsons in hand. David now 18 was shaping into a fine farmer but 16-year old Jacob was one for the woods and he had also become an engage with the North West Company. He was now in his second season with them. Wahata had appeared one day at their door to visit and had taken one look at the Ayah and lost his heart. She smiled at him in turn and he is now building a house for them in the Mohawk settlement at the Bay of Quinte.
Big and booming Johan Blauvelt had come home from fighting the rebels with a jaunty air of satisfaction. The terms of the treaty were as offensive as the war itself and he felt a deep betrayal on behalf of his Indian comrades at arms. But his relief at finding his wife and children tempered him. The sight of him spinning Constance around had made everyone smile. Sawatis and Towi:ne had both married and brought their children to visit their grandparents in New Johnstown. Issac had also signed on as a clerk with the North West Company but his twin Lucy had join Susannah in Montreal. The twins, Nancy and Sarah, had spent the rest of their childhood at home, where to everyone’s surprise they were joined by another sibling. Young Johan was the spitting image of his father and heavily doted upon. He has been attending the Rev Bethune’s log school in Williamstown on the Raisin River. The twins are now married and settled
Word did eventually filter through that Molly Seegers had survived the war, but she had become a pariah within the community. Most felt that she should have saved her son. She ended up selling the Seeger farm and returned to Philadelphia where she vanished into the maelstrom of the post-war city. The Seeger boys, with no money and no family, had lived with Nancy Miller until they reached the age of 14 when they had signed on as engages. Much of their education was overseen by Hawk, who taught them the necessary survival skills. Anna Miller who had arrived at the age of nine had become a fine young lady with her cap set for Hyrum Seegers. He was hoping to have earned enough to buy a farm at the end of the season and Anna had decide to wait for him. Young Mary had caught the eye of the bowman of Hyrum’s crew. A jaunty French Canadian with enormous energy and a fine hand on a fiddle. He had declared that Mary was for him and fought off all the other contenders. They too would marry at the end of the Season.
Her favourite letters had always come from Nancy Miller who had become her uncle, Capt. Edgar Morden’s companion. His wife had finally died in England this past winter, having never returned to Canada. And today Susannah, her husband, Issac Thompson, and their three children, were headed to New Johnstown to celebrate the formalizing of their marriage. Nancy and Edgar had had two more children and the community, which could be quite starchy, chose instead to celebrate the product of the union which could not be made official.
Susannah looked at her children – Marie (age 7), Henry (age5), and Alice (age 3) – with pride and happiness. Her husband was a good man. Big and handsome, he made her feel cherished. With joy she had filled their home with the pieces she had brought from Jaysberg. A skilled woodworker, her husband had filled their home with furnishings. His trade was that of a cooper, making the casks that allowed for the transport of goods right across the colony. He was busy and fully supportive of her continued work in sewing mantuas. In her own right, she had become highly respected for her skills. There had never been any issues pertaining to her parentage. Tawit had been correct. Montreal’s multicultural environment had made her ethnicity invisible. Certainly her husband saw it as an opening for more business contacts.
Her children were as always beautifully dressed and a fine advertisement for her business. Marie had reached the age of being interested and so she had begun to work in the shop after her schooling was done. Alice, with her namesake’s red hair, was also learning to sew. Henry ran down to his father’s yard once school was out and was learning to chop the staves. Just last week two of them had been good enough to use and his five year old heart was still proud.
In two canoes, Tawit and Hawk had come with six others to take them up to New Johnstown. Tawit, now in his fifties, had remarried a woman widowed in the war. He lived happily at her hearth and helped her raise her children. A small part of both Hawk and Susannah wished that for them life had been different. But they had moved on and each found the happiness they would not have found together. Hawk had married Fawn and they had four children. The oldest, 8-year old Atonwa had come to help paddle. He liked to sit behind Marie and tug on her braids.
As Susannah settled in the canoe, she smiled at the antics of the children, and breathed deeply. Life was good.
Thanks everyone for your kind words. This story has been a struggle all the way through. The characters were very much there and completely uncooperative.
For those of us whose roots go back to the creation and founding of our nations know that 1776 was a watershed moment. Both sides believed that God fought on their side and that their actions were honourable and pure. Families were fractured as children, siblings and spouses chose sides. Each nation has since evolved differently. The media likes to say that were are the same but we aren't and at the core of the difference is this fracture line.
The Treaty of Paris was signed on 3 September 1783. If it had been a civil war involving only England and her colonies it would not have been a bad peace treaty, but it also involved distinct Native nations and both sides sold their Indian allies down the river. On the ground, in the Canadas, attempts were made on a local level to address this incomprehensible action, but for the Patriots the goal was to move white settlers into Indian lands, so any guarantees in the Treaty weren't worth the paper they were written on. Many Loyalists tried to reclaim or sell their land after the war only to find that it had been confiscated or our outright stolen by neighbours. Many Loyalists remained in the new United States even after the war trying to find a way, but eventually most left the last coming in the mid-1790s. There are associations of descendants of United Empire Loyalist, just as there are organizations like DAR.
The Ryckmans, Carpenters and Mordens are three lines of my family that were UELS. The Mordens and Carpenters came up from Pennsylvania, through Niagara-on-the-Lake, and settled at the west end of Lake Ontario. The Carpenters settled in Saltfleet, in what is now Stoney Creek, Ontario. The Mordens settled in what is now Dundas, Ontario. The Ryckmans came up from Fort Orange (now Albany NY) where they had settled in 1623. They came through the refugee camps in Sorel, Quebec, before settling in Adolphustown, Upper Canada. The Ryckmans were amongst the UELs whose loyalty was questioned during the War of 1812 and they were forced to move again to East Flamborough, north of Hamilton, Ontairo.
Thanks again for reading. Hope it has inspired you to learn more about your own family history.
Very enjoyable, thank you. And thank you for helping find what you did on my line.
A granddaughter is out on a young woman's trek this week and had me send her names of ancestors for her to look up so she would have a story for the camp fire
thank you! I totally loved the story and all that rich history. So much history is no longer being taught to our children. It is incomprehensible to me why schools are cutting it out. I can tell that much love and hard work went into this story. So again, thank you!
I originally posted this over on the Members (Private) side as it was one of my first efforts and I was unsure of how the political slant would be received. Deena has now moved it over for me and I look forward to hearing your feedback.
I enjoyed it but I love history and Historical fiction mixed with fact. My Bloomfield g g g g etc. grandfather had to move to Canada at the end of the Rev. War. But his daughter and son in law were American Patriots and moved to KY. It also was another war that broke up families picking sides.
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