Fire and Smoke

Hosted by N.J. Spivak, 1640 Gideon Drive, Delaware, ON 

Painted by the Delaware Lions Club

Fire and Smoke

 

Andrew Westbrook was a 6’2’ muscular red haired Delaware settler.   An American sympathizer  his capture by General Isaac Brock at Detroit in 1812, intensified his actions  as  traitor, spy and marauder.   On the night of January 31 1814 his prosperous  Delaware property went up in spectacular flames. What was going on? Ruth Fairchild Springer, wife of Captain Daniel Springer tells us  the story twenty one years later in 1835…

 

Word has reached Delaware of the death of Andrew Westbrook  in Michigan.  This news brings again  to me the terror Westbrook  brought to our lives. He was one of us, a settler and landowner.  His  American  sympathies led to  his  plundering  raids  on the settlers.  He knew our area well was able to lead the  marauders directly to our farms and homes.

He pursued  our leaders, including my husband Daniel, Captain in the Middlesex militia. On the night of January 31 1814 our militia was waiting to capture Westbrook at his farm. In a surprise raid our men were overtaken, and my husband  tied up and thrown into our sleigh  with other prisoners.  Before they left for Detroit, Westbrook  invited his American allies to plunder his property.  He gathered his family and livestock together, and then  he himself torched the site. I protested the capture  of Daniel in no uncertain terms, but to no avail. Fearing Westbrook’s return I took my family  to my home  at  Brantford for safety.

Later in 1814  both Major Sykes Tousley of the Oxford Militia and Colonel Mahlon Burwell were taken by Westbrook at gunpoint from their beds. Both their wives witnessed these frightening  events. At the end of the war Westbrook received favours from  the American  government.  He made his home in a  grand  two storey  white house overlooking the St Clair  River.  And there he called himself Baron Steuben. Colonel Daniel Springer is buried  in the Tiffany Cemetery, 2637 Gideon Drive, Delaware,  on the bluff overlooking the Thames River. It is presumed his wife Ruth is buried there too.

 

Written by Frances Kilbourne, February 2012

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About Mary Simpson

Mary is one of the facilitators for barnquilttrails.ca, a Canadian network of quilters, rural organizations, museums, historians, sponsors and many others with a passion for rural Canada. We are working together to promote and enhance rural creativity, the arts, Canadian heritage and culture.

Posted on July 4, 2012, in History, HERstories, and Myths, Longwoods Barn Quilt Trail, War of 1812 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Sherry D. (Westbrook) Walker

    I just recently discovered that Andrew Westbrook was on my family tree, a brother to my ancestor, Dirk Westbrook. My daughter, Sarah, was married in July at the Oaks Golf Course which is situated on the land he owned. In a speech I gave at the reception, I spoke about Andrew Westbrook, his exploits and how he was forced to leave the very land we were standing on. It seemed ironic to me that in the place where his life dreams ended, Sarah and her husband’s were just beginning. Strangely, in this year of recognizing the War of 1812, Sarah and Zach chose this spot without any knowledge of this ancestor and the significance of the area. I realize that I have very little to be proud of as his relative according to the stories of this man, but I still think that he and other rogues from the time were what make the history so colourful. He even got his own Quilt Block. That says something for him.

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