A Norfolk County story
I am Amelia Ryerse and I am 16 years old. Usually my mother and I welcome visitors to our hearth. However, in May 1814, we had uninvited guests of the worst kind. On that morning, we were alerted by the dogs at our breakfast and I spied the hillside and the fields as far as the eye could reach covered with American soldiers. They had crossed Lake Erie from Pennsylvania and land in Dover.
Two men stepped from the ranks, selected some large chips, came into the room where we were standing and took some coals from the hearth without speaking. My mother entreated the commanding officer to spare her property and said she was a widow with a young family. He answered her civilly and respectfully and regretted that his orders were to burn.Thankfully, he spared our home, however, by noon, every other building was set ablaze to avoid their use as barracks for British troops. What had once been a prosperous homestead was now only smoldering ruins.
Written by Anne Carruthers
***Mrs. Ryerse had been a Loyalist from New York and always wanted to return until the Americans ruined their new life. She did not return.Sources:
J.J. Talman, ed., Loyalist Narratives, Champlain Society, 1970, pg. 148Graves, Dianne, In the Midst of Alarms; The Untold Story of Women and the War of 1812, 2007, Robin Brass Studio Inc., Montreal, Que. pg.286-287
Stott, Glenn, Greater Evils: The War of 1812 in Southwestern Ontario, G. Stott Publishing, Arkona, ON, pg. 134