July 23, 2014

Pioneers had links to Battle of Lundy’s Lane

As published in The Erin Advocate

Three of Erin’s earliest pioneers were veterans of the Canadian militia that supported British troops at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, the 200th anniversary of which is this Friday, July 25.

Known as the fiercest battle of the War of 1812, it marked a turning point as British and Canadian forces repelled an American attempt to take control of the Niagara Peninsula.

After a confusing night of brutal artillery duels, infantry assaults, counter-attacks, ambushes, bayonet fighting and musket exchanges, including an accidental skirmish between two British units, both sides claimed victory.

The Americans had captured the battlefield, located near the Niagara Falls, but had to retreat since they had only 700 men standing and were short on supplies. The British side was still 1,400 strong, but had retreated a short distance. In the morning they reoccupied the battlefield without a fight.

The Americans suffered 174 killed, 572 injured, 79 captured and 28 missing, while British casualties totaled 84 killed, 559 wounded, 169 captured and 55 missing.

After the war, by 1820, the Mississauga First Nation had surrendered most of their lands along the Credit River, later moving to the Hagersville area as the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. A survey of Erin Township was completed in 1820, and in November that year, Nathaniel Roszell was the first settler here.

For his service with the 4th Lincoln Militia in the War of 1812, including the Battles of Queenston Heights and Lundy’s Lane, he had been granted land at Lot 1, Concession 7. Eager to increase the population of what is now Ballinafad, he was the father of 17 children, including Benjamin, the first white child in Wellington County according to the 1906 Atlas. He donated land for the Ballinafad cemetery and was buried there in 1872.

Also serving with the 4th Lincoln Militia was Aaron Michael Teeter, a native of New Jersey who had moved to Grimsby with his parents. In 1822, Teeter came to Erin Township with his family and settled on 200 acres he had been granted for war service, on what is now Winston Churchill Blvd. north of 5 Sideroad.

The 1906 Atlas says he was a hard worker with the first frame barn in the area, a Methodist, a Reformer and a school trustee. Two of his sons married daughters of Patrick McEnery.

The name of Teeter’s wife is recorded in various sources as Waity, Walty and Katy. The tombstone she shares with Aaron at Erin Union Cemetery says her name was Waty, and that she was the mother of 15 children. She died in 1856 at the age of 71 and he in 1866 at age 84.

One historical reference says Aaron was wounded at Lundy’s Lane, but other sources show it is more likely he was injured in an accident or skirmish a few days before the battle, according to Alan Kirkwood of Erin, who has researched the military records. Alan is a descendent of pioneer William Kirkwood, who arrived in 1820 and owned land just across the road from Aaron Teeter.

Teeter was one of eight brothers serving with Canadian militia regiments. Brothers Abraham and Michael were killed at Lundy’s Lane, as was his half-brother Jacob Keefer. His half-sister Mary ended up marrying Eliezer Lundy, son of the farmer who owned the farm where the battle was fought.

Even if Teeter did not fight at Lundy’s Lane, he may still have been at the militia camp. Helping to run that camp was Henry George Trout. Retired from previous British military service, he had been operating a hotel, stage coach and ferry service in Fort Erie when the war broke out. He returned as a Lieutenant and Adjutant with the Lincoln Militia during the war.

As told by his grandson in the Trout Family History, Henry and some other officers were away from the camp, and were trapped behind enemy lines after the Americans swept north from Queenston. They could not get back to their regiment until the Battle of Lundy’s Lane was almost over.

Henry’s family evacuated the house where they were staying as the Americans drove heavy guns through nearby fields. From 10 pm to midnight, “it was one unceasing roar of musketry and artillery”.

His 13-year-old son William went to the battlefield the next morning, once his mother had been assured the Americans had retreated, in hopes of finding a sword or gun. When guards turned him away, he went to a hilltop and saw the soldiers building and lighting pyres – alternate layers of corpses and wood. The weather was hot and the ground was too rocky for digging graves.

Trout was granted 800 acres in Erin Township for his service and losses. His family settled in the fall of 1821 near the Ninth Line and 22 Sideroad, where he is believed to have been buried in 1852, though there is no known tombstone. He and his sons built the first dam and sawmill on Charles Street.

In 1822 Donald McMillan, recently arrived from Scotland and renting a farm near Stoney Creek, paid $20 to an old soldier for the rights to 100 acres in Erin Township that he had been granted to him for war service. They moved to a plot just south of the Trouts and bought more land. His son Daniel took up mill building and became known as the founder of Erin village.