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This article was found pasted into a scrapbook entitled, “1838 Patriot War.” The scrapbook is located at the Flower Memorial Library Genealogy Department at Watertown, New York. This article, one of a series written by L. N. Fuller, was copyrighted in 1923 by the Brockway Company, Publishers of the Watertown Daily Times. The series appeared in the Watertown Daily Times in March, April, and May of 1923. John B. Johnson, Jr., Editor/Co-Publisher of the Watertown Daily Times has granted me permission to incorporate these pieces on my website. I feel very honored to have been given this permission. (Shirley Farone)

Watertown Woman Remembers
Battle Of The Windmill

Mrs. Maria Knapp of 120 Bishop Street, A Little Girl Living in
Prescott at the Time, Hid Herself in Grandfather’s Clock
---Recalls Early Days in Canadian History.

NORTHERN NEW YORK IN THE PATRIOT WAR

By L. N. FULLER

(Copyright 1923, by the Brockway Company, Publishers of the Watertown Daily Times.)

CHAPTER XIX

There are few, very few, people living today whose memory goes back to the Battle of the Windmill. That tragedy which brought sorrow to so many homes in Northern New York, happened 85 years ago this November. Yet there is one person living in Watertown who has a most vivid recollection of the battle. She is Mrs. Maria Knapp who lives with her daughter, Mrs. Charles J. Haley of 120 Bishop street. (meaning Watertown, N. Y.)

Mrs. Knapp was not an eye-witness of the battle. She was but a mite of a girl then, but she does remember the roar of the artillery, the sharp discharges of the rifles and the intense excitement that prevailed. She lived in Prescott then and recalls that she was so badly frightened that she sought refuge in the tall grandfather’s clock that stood in the living room. She was so small that she easily found room for herself there, trying to hide herself and to drown out the noise of the battle which was being fought not far away.

The birth records in which her birth was recorded were destroyed by fire many years ago and Mrs. Knapp does not remember her exact age, but she believes that she is 94, which would make her nine years of age at the time of the battle. But her memory goes back even further than the Battle of the Windmill. She recalls the appearance of Halley’s comet when it made its visit in 1834. As this celestial wanderer appears but once in 75 years, it is a rare experience for a person twice to remember seeing it. It was last seen in 1909. “I remember seeing the comet,” she said, a short time ago when telling of her recollection of the battle of the Windmill. “It appeared over the river between Prescott and Ogdensburg.

“Prescott was only a little place when the battle was fought,” she continued, but even then it was larger than Ottawa. That place was known as Bytown then. Today it is the capital. Yes (in a reminiscent mood) there have been many changes in Canada since I was a little girl.

“We lived on Water street near the river, and my father, Timothy Ahearn, was in the shipping and forwarding business. Prescott was then the head of lake navigation. Down near the river today stands an old stone house that was occupied by a man by the name of Buckley. He owned a wharf and wood yard and sold wood to the steamers.

“His daughter was sick the night the Patriots came down the river and she happened to look out the window. She saw the steamer United States and she thought that it was stopping to take on some wood. She called to her father and when he looked out the window he saw that the steamer and the schooners which she was towing were loaded with men and ammunition.

“For several days everyone expected Prescott would be attacked, as there were rumors that a force from the United States was assembling and sentries were stationed around all the streets. Mr. Buckley called to the nearest sentry and he blew his horn. In a minute bugle calls were heard in all parts of the village and the town was in an uproar. This caused the boats to pull away from the wharf and they floated down the river.

“There were no regular soldiers in Prescott, but every property owner was a member of the militia and they were quartered in every available place which could be used as barracks. My father was sent on a ship to Kingston to bring the regulars back to Prescott. Father was in command of the ship.

“I was much frightened during the battle as I did not know what might happen to my father. I remember there was a tall clock standing in the room and I was small enough so that I could hide in it. We could, of course, hear the firing very plainly and we did not know what might happen. If the rebels won they would have been in possession of the town.

“There were two spies who lived in Prescott, Tom Meredith and a man named Dinsdale. They acted as guides to the invaders but when the fighting got hot and it looked as though the rebels were beaten, they made a raft out of some fence rails and paddled across the river, probably going to Ogdensburg. That was the last ever seen of them in Prescott, although both were property owners there.

“I remember another little incident of the battle. There was a woman, a Mrs. Savage, who would go down to the windmill and carry supplies to the Canadians and the regulars. She took two jugs of whiskey down on every trip, the jugs being fastened to a yoke which she had around her neck. She made a good many trips, carrying food to the soldiers and giving them the news from the village, acting as canteener during the entire battle. Her son afterward became a river captain.

“After the rebels were captured they were taken up to Kingston and there a lot of them were hanged at Fort Henry. Poor boys. Most of them were nothing but boys. A Kingston merchant took the body of General Von Schoultz and buried it in St. Mary’s cemetery in Kingston where it now is.

“I suppose there are few, if any, who remember the battle. Nearly all the prominent men of Prescott took part because they belonged to the militia. There were the Jessups, the Jones, the McDonalds and a lot of others.”

Mrs. Knapp made her home in Prescott until about 16 years ago when she came to this country to make her home with her children. She is remarkably alert for a woman of her years, and although confined to her room with rheumatism, she has lost none of her cheerfulness and has a keen interest in the events of today, as well as a remarkable memory for events which happened many years ago.

-------------------------

Note by typist: Maria’s obit follows:

Watertown Daily Times - November 15, 1927
Jefferson County, N. Y.

MRS. MARIA KNAPP EXPIRES, AGED 101
OLDEST RESIDENT OF WATERTOWN IS DEAD
RECALLED BATTLE OF WINDMILL
Also Remembered Appearance of Halley's Comet in 1834--Born in Prescott in 1826.

With the death of Mrs. Maria Gertrude Knapp, 101, the oldest resident of this city, Tuesday night, the last person to remember the battle of the Windmill in the Patriot war of 1838 passed away. Mrs. Knapp died at the home of her granddaughter, Mrs. Lynn V. Johnson, 135 Bishop street, after an illness of about one year.

Mrs. Knapp was not an eye witness of the battle in which many northern New York men lost their lives, for she was but a tiny girl at the time, living in Prescott. But she remembered all the sounds of the battle, the roar of the artillery and the excitement that prevailed, and she was so frightened that she hid in the tall grandfather's clock which stood in the living room of her home. She died on the 89th anniversary of the battle.

The appearance of Halley's comet in 1834 was also recalled by Mrs. Knapp. The comet makes its visit only once in 75 years, last appearing in 1909, and there are few if any now living who have seen it twice, and remember having seen it.

"I remember seeing the comet," she said, a short time ago. "It appeared over the river between Prescott and Ogdensburg."

A Native of Prescott.

Mrs. Knapp was born in Prescott, May 1, 1826, the daughter of Timothy and Anna Clancy Ahearn. Her father was engaged in the shipping and forwarding business, and lived on Water street, near the river.

Four years ago Mrs. Knapp told what she remembered of the battle of the Windmill to a representative of The Times.

"Prescott was then the head of lake navigation," stated Mrs. Knapp. "Down near the river today stands an old stone house that was occupied by a man by the name of Buckley. He owned a wharf and wood yard and sold wood to the steamers. "His daughter was sick the night the Patriots came down the river and she happened to look out the window. She saw the steamer United States and thought that it was stopping to take on some wood. She called to her father and when he looked out the window hesaw that the steamer and the schooners which she was towing were loaded with men and ammunition.

Call to Arms Heard.

"For several days everyone expected that Prescottt would be attacked, as there were rumors that a force from the United States was assembling, and sentries were stationed around all the streets. Mr. Buckley called to the nearest sentry and he blew his horn. In a minute bugle calls were heard in all parts of the village and the town was in an uproar. This caused the boats to pull away from the wharf and they floated down the river. "There were no regular soldiers in Prescott, but every property owner was a member of the militia and they were quartered in every available place. My father was sent on a ship to Kingston to bring the regulars back to Prescott. My father was in command of the ship. "I was much frightened during the battle as I did not know what might happen to my father. I remember there was a tall clock standing in the room and I was small enough so that I could hide in it. We would, of course, hear the firing very plainly and we did not know what might happen. If the rebels won they would have been in possession of the town.

"There were two spies who lived in Prescott, Tom Meredith and a man named Dinsdale. They acted as guides to the invaders but when the fighting got hot and it looked as though the rebels were beaten, they made a raft out of some fence rails and paddled across the river, probably going to Ogdensburg. That was the last ever seen of them in Prescott, although both were property owners there.

"There was a woman, a Mrs. Savage, who would go down to the windmill and carry supplies to the Canadians and the regulars. She took two jugs of whiskey down on every trip, the jugs being fastened to a yoke which she had around her neck. She made a good many trips, carrying food to the soldiers and giving them the news from the village, acting as canteener during the entire battle. Her son afterward became a river captain.

Rebels Hanged.

"After the rebels were captured they were taken up to Kingston and there a lot of them were hanged at Fort Henry. Poor boys. Most of them were nothing but boys. A Kingston merchant took the body of General Von Schoults and buried it in St. Mary's cemetery, where it is now.

"I suppose there are few, if any, who remember the battle," declared Mrs. Knapp at that time. "Nearly all the prominent men of Prescott took part because they belonged to the militia. There were the Jessups, the Jones, the McDonalds and a lot of others."

Until about 30 years ago Mrs. Knapp lived in Prescott. She came to Watertown at that time and has made her home with her children and grandchildren here ever since.

Mrs. Knapp was the widow of Frederick M. Knapp, who died about 20 years ago at the age of 96. Mrs. Knapp's father, Timothy Ahearn, died at the age of 104 in Chicago.

Sixteen years of her life was spent in the Notre Dame convent in Montreal, where she received her education, and where her father placed her after the death of her mother.

Had Remarkable memory.

Mrs. Knapp was possessed of a remarkable memory, especially for poetry. She remembered many poems from her childhood and took great pleasure in reciting them. A year ago she recited Scott's "The Lady of the Lake" complete to an audience of friends who were calling. Goldsmith's "Hermit" was another lengthy poem which she knew from beginning to end and was able to repeat until the time of her death.

She was an expert with the needle and spent much time in the past few years doing fine sewing and making old-fashioned comfortables.

Mrs. Knapp died on the day of the feast of St. Gertrude, the saint for whom she was named. She was a devout Catholic.

Michael Ahren (sic), for 63 years a reporter and member of the editorial staff of the Chicago Tribune, the man who was responsible for the story of Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicking over the lantern and causing the Chicago fire of 1871, was Mrs. Knapp's brother. He died recently at a very advanced age.

Read Without Glasses.

She had been in ill health since last winter, but in spite of her ill health and her advanced age, her faculties were unimpaired. Up until the time of her death she was able to read without glasses.

Surviving are four children: Mrs. Thomas M. Otis, Mrs. Charles J. Haley and Peter Knapp, all of this city, and John Knapp of Johnstown, Penna.; four grandchildren, Mrs. Johnson, with whom she made her home, Mrs. James F. Solar, Leo C. Haley and Emmett Otis, all of this city, and 35 great-grandchildren.

The funeral will be held from the home of her granddaughter, Mrs. Lynn V. Johnson, 135 Bishop street, Thursday morning at 9 and from Holy Family church at 9:30. Burial will be at Glenwood cemetery.

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