Fire and Smoke
Hosted by N.J. Spivak, 1640 Gideon Drive, Delaware, ON
Painted by the Delaware Lions Club
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