Tag Archives: war of 1812

Stories of Skeletons Found in Cornwall

Stories of Skeletons Found in Cornwall

Photo Cornwall Community Museum-Petite Pointe Maligne

Twenty Skeletons Found 1936

There is some doubt as to the burial place of the Irish immigrants who died at Cornwall during the great Asiatic cholera epidemics of 1832 and 1834. Some records are to the effect that they were buried at Petite Pointe Maligne and that the grave have long since been obscured. Others state that the dead were properly burled in local cemeteries. It is a fact, however, that many of the immigrants who died aboard ship were buried at various points along the river, and with buc little ceremony. Only a few years ago, a shallow grave was uncovered near Woodlands during road-building operations. This was found to contain about twenty skeletons and It is highly probable that they were those of Irish folk who died on ships passing up the St. Lawrence.


At the beginning of June in 1832, the Carrick, a ship that had come over from Ireland, reached Quebec with a few feverish immigrants on board.

Three days later, cholera took its first victim.

The illness spread like wildfire all the way to Montreal and then to Upper Canada. It quickly became an epidemic that moved through the shanty neighbourhoods of the urban poor, which were breeding grounds for contagion. The lack of sewers and garbage collection contributed to water contamination. Soon the epidemic was out of control and hundreds died each day, mostly in the large towns.

On June 14, 1832, La Minerve newspaper verified the spread of cholera.

“14 June, 1832: Since Monday morning Montreal is in turmoil and the alarm is growing every minute. There is no longer doubt that cholera is present. We recommend that the public observe strictly the Regulations of the Board of Health.”

La Minerve tried to prevent panic from spreading, advising that:

“There is no use in becoming alarmed.
When the illness appears, one must see a doctor and follow his instructions. The apothecaries have the necessary remedies in stock and their prices are affordable to all pocketbooks.”

In reality, doctors were overwhelmed and powerless. They thought cholera was transmitted by fumes carried through the atmosphere. To purify the air, English officers tried firing off cannons and the Sanitary Office burned tar.

Alexander Hart, a Jewish merchant from Montreal, saw death all around him:

“None of us go into town anymore.
Many are moving into the country. Yesterday 34 corpses passed our house. Today, 23… not counting those in the old burial Ground and in the Catholic ground. 12 carts are employed by the Board of Health to carry away the dead who are interred without prayers.”

By the end of 1832, the epidemic had claimed 9,000 lives, more than half of them in Lower Canada. Some Canadians held England responsible for this misfortune, citing its emigration policy for negligence, if not malevolence.

In a letter to his cousin, Jean-Jacques Lartigue, the Bishop of Montreal, spoke of the Place d’Armes by-election and the cholera epidemic:

“The other subjects that seem to me most worthy of your attention at the present time are: the murder of our “Canadiens” on May 21st, which the governor has since officially condoned; and the invasion of our uncultivated land by British immigrants who threaten to drive us out of our country and reduce our “Canadien” population, year after year, by the spread of disease.”

This climate of death, fear and loathing helped kindle a political firestorm in Lower Canada. CBC- CLICK

Also read-ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

1,200 Died of Plague Which Hit City in 1847

The Cholera Epidemic of 1832

Mystery Skeleton Found in Cellar 1946

Digging a cellar in downtown Cornwall Lucien Mercier drove his pick into a hard object. Examination showed he had struck a skull, and further digging brought up the long-interred remains of a human body. Police were puzzled. There was no record of the location ever having been a cemetery and police records show no record of missing persons in the area for the last 50 years. Deputy Police Chief Wilfred Massom suggested the skeleton might be that of a soldier killed during the War of 1812-14.


Cornwall was one of the largest settlements in Upper Canada at the time that war was declared. It would emerge as an important garrison town, communications and supply post during the War of 1812. The population of Cornwall was several hundred at the time.

More Skeleton Stories from Cornwall

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
24 Aug 1935, Sat  •  Page 2

The Next Time You Bite into Laura Secord– The Sweet Facts




Photo from Laura Secord


Text From Laura Secord with interjections from me Linda Seccaspina after I read about her for a couple of days. Next time you bite into a Laura Secord egg think about this story…..


Secord, best known today as the namesake of a popular confectionary chain, led a fairly well-documented life. Born Laura Ingersoll in Massachusetts in 1775, she emigrated to Upper Canada with her father in 1795 and eventually settled at Queenston, part of present-day Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., according to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

She married Canadian merchant James Secord in 1797, had seven children and — according to some accounts of her life — helped her wounded husband limp to safety during the October 1812 Battle of Queenston Heights, a home-side victory marred by the death of British commander Maj.-Gen. Isaac Brock.

It all began during the War of 1812 in the region of Queenston, now known as the Niagara Peninsula. Laura’s husband James was a sergeant in the militia; when he went missing after a battle, Laura searched for him among the dead and wounded in the battlefield. She found him bleeding from gunshot wounds and helped him home where she treated his injuries.

Author’s Note–That summer of 1813  was when the war became a secret war with soldiers from both sides disguised as civilians pretending to be on one side or the other. They all went back and forth across the border with ease, and since everyone spoke the same language; it was hard to decipher who was friend and who was foe.

During James’s convalescence, the war continued, and the region was captured by enemy troops. However, neither the Americans nor the British had firm control. One day in June 1813, American officers went to the Secord home and requested dinner. As she served them, Laura listened carefully as they discussed plans to launch a surprise attack on the British outpost at DeCew House, which was under Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon’s command.

The Secords, who had remained loyal to the British Crown and dedicated to the defence of the colony, knew that Fitzgibbon must be warned of the imminent attack – failing which, the Niagara Peninsula as a whole would fall to the Americans. As James was disabled due to his wounds and unable to walk, Laura took it upon herself to make the trek to DeCew House.

Author’s Note–Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon headed a group of soldiers called ‘The Bloody Boys” and on June 23 just after sunset a slight and delicate Loyalist by the name of Laura Secord arrived at the DeCew House with a message for Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon.


At dawn the next day, Laura began her 32-kilometre journey, which would require 18 hours. The roads she walked on led to the home of her sister-in-law where her half-brother lay ill in bed – a circumstance that would serve as an explanation for Laura’s journey should American patrols ask questions. When she arrived, Laura revealed the true purpose of her mission. Her niece Elizabeth offered to accompany her.

Now avoiding the main roads, Laura and Elizabeth chose a difficult path along the course of Twelve Mile Creek, which flowed past DeCew House. Elizabeth, however, was not endowed with her aunt’s stamina; after tramping through fields and woods, she collapsed, leaving Laura to complete the most hazardous part of the journey alone. In the evening, Laura arrived hungry and exhausted at a Native camp and persuaded the chief to take her to British headquarters. Once there, she alerted the Lieutenant of the surprise attack.

Author’s Note–At first the Lieutenant and his crew doubted her but— she had not struggled 19 miles through the dreaded Black Swamp in the boiling sun from Queenston through St. David’s and a treacherous morass on a whim. An unproven rumour flimsy as gossamer it could not be.

Two days later, on June 24, 1813, British and Native troops intercepted the Americans and forced their surrender at the Battle of Beaver Dams. In 1814, the peace treaty came into effect, and the border between the United States and Canada has never seen hostility since.

Author’s Note–Had someone whispered something in Laura Secord’s ear? Her invalid husband and children could have been easily the object of revenge  in this peninsula of tangled loyalties. Everyone else the family had friends on both sides of the border as the people moved freely then between the both countries.

Although Laura Secord received 100 pounds from England’s Prince of Wales in 1860, many years would elapse before her brave feat was recognized as an act of heroism. After her death, two monuments were erected in her memory: one was built by the Government of Canada in Queenston; and the other by the Ontario Historical Society at Lundy’s Lane.

Author’s Note–Her story was told and retold adding to a myth that the war of 1812 was won by real true blood Canadians. But in reality, the story fit in with John Strachan’s  writings that the Canadian militia, and not the British regulars or Indians, were the real heroes of the world.

In a tale told to every Canadian schoolchild ever since, Laura Secord is described hiking almost 32 kilometres through darkened woods — possibly leading a cow as a diversionary tactic. Laura added a cow to her story in later years even though not one animal was involved or hurt in this tale. However, the bravery of Laura Secord has always been part of our Canadian folklore.

“Heroes like Laura Secord helped define a Canadian national identity. We need to honour the sacrifice of our early settlers and celebrate their achievements.”– Kim Craitor







Drummond Hill Cemetery in Niagara Falls
Paranormal activities include apparitional soldiers, light anomalies, orbs, mysterious mists, spooky footsteps and noises of the historical battle as well as feeling of being watched by the spectres. This is the final resting place of Laura Secord, as well as a lot of the heroes of the War of 1812.



Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

Related Canadian History reading–

Superman is a Dual Citizen – So is Winnie the Pooh – Remember Heritage Minutes?

Assassinated Gossip about Lincoln, Payne and the Thousand Islands

Murder on Maple Island

Would You Duel Anything For Love?

Alternate Ending to The Last Duel?

The Lost Island– Now You See it- Now You Don’t!

The Execution of Alexander Burns — Capital Punishment in Canada

The Thomas Easby Murders in 1829 — Foulest Ever in Lanark County

Not Guilty in the Murder of His Grandmother –George Watt Jr.

The Tale of a Pirate named Bill Johnston with Pirate Dog Supermodels