The Watertown Herald
Watertown, Jefferson County, N. Y.
Page 1 - Columns 1 and 2
Saturday, August 12, 1893
THE TRAGIC FINAL CHAPTER OF THE
STRUGGLE FOR CANADIAN FREEDOM.
American Sympathy for the Prisoners--The Trial of the Insurectionists--
Petitioning Sir George ArthurThe fate of the Heroic Von Schoultz
and his Brave AssociatesBanishment to Van Diemen's Land T h e
Sacrifice Not Fruitless.
As the time for the trial of the insurrectionists drew near, the excitement on the American side reached fever heat. Every effort was being made to save the deluded unfortunates who, perhaps, chiefly through their love of adventure, had become interested in this foolish undertaking. It was generally announced that all who had held commissions in the Patriot force had gone beyond clemency.
The court convened on the 26th of November and adjourned till the 28th, Daniel George being the first prisoner to be tried, pleaded not guilty. When he was taken from the Coburg, papers were found in his pockets commissoning him as pay master of the eastern division of the Patriot army.
The brave and noble Nicholas Von Schoultz was then brought before the court for trial. He employed the barrister, Sir John McDonald, to aid him in his defense. He pleaded guilty. He sent a written appeal to the governor general, in which he stated that he was deluded into joining in the invasion of Canada by the gross misrepresentations of such men as J. Ward Birge and Wm. Lvon MeKenzie, who claimed to know the sentiment and wishes of the people of Canada, and that they would be received with open arms. Also that the militia, when called out, would flock to their standard. All of which proved to be a base fabrication and delusion. He asked for mercy at his hands. Every means of influence which could be brought to bear upon the governor general by such men as Judge Fine, Silas Wright and a host of others, could not prevail on him to change his determination of executing all the officers and leaders.
Dorephus Abbey was the next to be tried. He was captured while carrying a flag of truce, and was next in rank to Von Schoultz. Next was Martin Woodruff. All of these after trial, namely: Daniel George, Nicholas Von Schoultz, Dorephus Abbey and Martin Abbey were sentenced by Sir George Arthur to be hanged, and this sentence was carried out December 8th. Von Schoultz made his will giving, among his many bequests, $10,000 for the benefit of the families of the British soldiers who were killed at the battle of the Windmill. He also wrote the following pathetic and farewell letter to his friend, Warren Green of Syracuse:
Joel Peeler and Sylvanus Sweet were executed,
January 11th, 1839. Sylvester Lawton, Duncan Anderson, Christopher Buckley,
Russell Phelps and Lyman L. Lewis were sent to the scaffold, February 11.
They were followed by Martin Van Slyke, Wm. O'Neal and James Cummings. The]
officers now having all been dealt with, they made quick work trying the men
under them. Graves, Chipman and two others had turned queen's evidence. The prisoners
were brought into court in squads of from ten to fifteen, and asked a few
questions, and were then ^returned to their quarters. They all expected that their
doom was sealed and were anxiously awaiting their death warrants. But
a powerful influence was brought to bear upon Governor General Arthur and he
finally decided that there would be no more executions, and went so far as to
say that a number of them would be pardoned. The court had adjourned from
January 4th to February 26th. The prisoners were allowed to receive visits
from their friends but under close guard. On the 8th of April the steamer
Commodore Barrie, under orders of Colonel A. McDonnell, sheriff of Midland
district, arrived at Sackets Harbor with twenty-two prisoners, pardoned by the
governor general, and on the 27th of April, thirty-seven more pardoned prisoners
arrived at the same place. All these released were under 21 years of age. The
balance of the men remained in the fort all summer, uncertain as to their fate,
whether they would be pardoned or banished. On the 17th of September, 1839,
orders were given to prepare for departure, and ninety five of them were heavily
ironed, placed in canal barges and taken through the Rideau canal to Montreal,
and there with another lot of prisoners, making about 150 in all, were put on
board the ship Buffalo, bound for Van Dieman's Land.
"Dear FriendWhen you get this letter, I shall be no more. I have been informed that my execution will take place tomorrow. May God forgive them, who brought me to this untimely death. Hard as my fate is, I have made up my mind to forgive them, and doI have been promised a lawyer to write my willintend to appoint you my executor. If the British government permit it, I wish my body delivered to you andburied on your farm. I have no time to write more, because I have great need of communicating with my Creator to prepare myself for His presence. The time allowed me for this is short. My last wish to the Americans is, that they will not think of avenging my death. Let no further blood be shed. And believe me, from what I have seen, all the stories which were told of the sufferings of the Canadian people were untrue. Give my love to your sister, and tell her that I think of her as I do of my own mother. May God reward her for her kindness. I farther beg of you to take care of W.J. so that he may find an honorable bread. Farewell, my dear friends. May God bless you and protect you. N. VON SCHOULTZ
This island, once a penal colony inhabited by convicts transported from British territory for various criminal acts, is now a productive and desirable country. The march of civilization has made it attractive to tourists, as well as rich in tropical fruits, and the promotion of many other industries has placed it among the civilized nations of the earth.
February 13th, 1840, after an uneventful voyage, they landed in the harbor of Hobart Town. After the inspector had taken a description of them the governor, Sir John Franklin, the man who afterwards died during a voyage of exploration to the arctic region, came to see them, and after looking them over, read their sentence, which was banishment for life. He was happy to learn of the captain of the Buffalo that they had behaved remarkably well during the voyage, He also informed them that they would be placed at hard labor on the public roads with other convicts and that with good behavior, after three years, they would be granted tickets of leave, which would give them the liberty of the island. Their tasks were very heavy and almost unbearable. They were compelled like beasts to draw loads of stone on carts in teams of six or eight. And all with the poorest kind of food and under hard masters. They would often fall out by the wayside, not caring whether they lived or died. Their only covering was a poor hut where they dwelt in gangs of about twenty. After three years of this service they were granted tickets of leave but were confined within certain limits called districts. They could work for any one who would give them a job and receive their pay. But they were obliged to report at the station every Saturday night. If they so desired they could be changed from one district to another. This deliverance from the stone carts was a blessing and gave them new life. A reward of a pardon and free passage to America was offered by the governor to any of the convicts who would capture some bushrangers who were infesting the island. W.Gates, Stephen Wright, Aaron Dresser and George Brown succeeded in discovering the hiding place and capturing two of the rangers. They were pardoned, had their freedom and, after a long voyage, returned to America, having served five years of a convict's life.
In September. 1845, the governor commenced to deal out
pardons of ten and fifteen at a time. He thought it not safe to liberate too
many at once. During the year 1846 all of the Canadian prisoners had
received pardons excepting some few whose behavior did not entitle them to such
reward. Thus ended the Patriot war. It was not without good results to the
Canadas, for the British government granted them a new charter, by which the
provinces were united into a dominion with a parliament, and appointed Lord
Lydenham to be governor general. The torys were defeated in the parliament and
the reform party, after driving them from power assumed control of the
state. Even the out-law, William Lyon McKenzie, was restored to
citizenship, and was for many years member of parliament, and premier of the
government. The old historic mill, dismantled more than fifty years ago,
still stands on Windmill point, high above the blue waters of the St. Lawrence,
with its rotted floors and roof, its eight sides of solid masonry, three stories
in height, as a monument to mark the spot for centuries to come, where glory
faded into folly, and youthful ambition, amid heroic deeds, degenerated into a
stupendous farce. Near by is the little graveyard where sleep the Patriot
dead their unnamed and windowless tombs. JOSEPH FAYEL.
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