This article was found pasted into a scrapbook entitled, “1838 Patriot War.” The scrapbook is located at the Flower Memorial Library Genealogy Department at Watertown, New York. This article, one of a series written by L. N. Fuller, was copyrighted in 1923 by the Brockway Company, Publishers of the Watertown Daily Times. The series appeared in the Watertown Daily Times in March, April, and May of 1923. John B. Johnson, Jr., Editor/Co-Publisher of the Watertown Daily Times has granted me permission to incorporate these pieces on my website. I feel very honored to have been given this permission. (Shirley Farone)

Letters Concerning
The Patriot War


Orrin W. Smith Among Those From Jefferson County Sent to
Van Dieman’s Land -- One Returning Prisoner Found That
His Wife Had Given Him Up For Dead and Had Married




(Copyright, 1923, by the Brockway Company, Publishers of the Watertown Daily Times.)

Chapter XXV.

The Times has received a number of letters and has interviewed various people who have given interesting bits of information on the Patriot War. They are disconnected and could not be woven into the regular story. For this reason they are given in this form as an appendix.

Orrin W. Smith

To The Times:

From memory I have noted a few facts concerning my brother-in-law, Orren W. Smith, which you may use. Mr. Smith will be well remembered by all except the younger generation as having served the community continuously for some 20 years following the close of the Civil war.

He was born in Vermont and was a nephew of the Calvins, who were early residents of Clayton and moved there through their influence. It was for the Calvin and Merrick and associated rafting and lumber interests on the St. Lawrence and in Canada that Mr. Smith was employed as a young man prior to the insurrection termed the Patriot War.

In later years he was much ashamed of having yielded to persuasion at that time, and of having taken active part in that unreasonable invasion of the Queen’s domain.

After the capture following the windmill fight, he was held prisoner in Kingston under the sentence of death until through the influence of Canadian friends his sentence was later commuted to banishment for life to Van Dieman’s Land. At the end of a few years, through the grace of Queen Victoria, pardon was extended to certain convicts and O. W. Smith gladly returned to America.

Myra L. Caldwell.
White Bend, Idaho.


William Stebbins.

To The Times:

Many years after the war I found that my uncle, William Stebbins, joined the patriots, was captured and was confined in prison. He was sentenced to die and my father interested himself in him and he was finally released. Stebbins was born in Pamelia, where my mother lived, in the home of her father, Rufus Stebbins, who is buried in the Arsenal street cemetery.

Charles R. Skinner.


John W. Little.

John W. Little of Cape Vincent, though not taking an active part in the invasion of Canada, was a prominent member of a Hunter’s Lodge. He was born in 1807 and was the grandfather of Miss Nellie C. Terry of Henderson. He was a tailor at Cape Vincent and during the Patriot excitement he helped collect arms and ammunition. When MacKenzie escaped from Canada through Cape Vincent Little sheltered him in his home. Dressed in the clothing of a woman to avoid detection, Mackenzie started from Mr. Little’s home and was driven from there to Henderson. One of Mr. Little’s possessions was a packet of letters written by Mackenzie and Von Schoultz.


William D. Sweet.

To The Times:

My father, William D. Sweet, was one of the pioneers of Alexandria, and his reminiscences of the early history of Jefferson country (sic) are very interesting. He has been heard to remark that on his first visit to Theresa, a bear skin was nailed on the large pine tree in front of David Bearup’s residence. Mr. Sweet was in the Patriot war and participated in the battle of the windmill. His elder brother, Sylvanus, was also taken prisoner and carried to Kingston, where he was executed, but on account of my father’s age he was sent home. He served later in the Civil war.

Mary P. Hardy
Plessis, N. Y.

Father Was in Patriot War.

To the Times:

I have been intensely interested in the historical story of the Patriot War. Can you wonder when I tell you I am a son of William Dennis Sweet and a nephew of Sylvanus Sweet.

My father lived to be 89 years old , lived to follow the Stars and Stripes for three long years in the Civil War, serving in the 10th Heavy Artillery and while he loved to talk in later years of the stirirng days he fought to save the union, he could seldom be led to speak of those terrible experiences he lived through in the days following the Patriot War.

I wish to make one correction. He was not deported to Van Diemansland as stated in your paper He was one of the minors pardoned for his youth. My uncle, Sylvanus Sweet was a marksman of unerring aim. So keen was his eye, so steady his hand that I often heard my father say that it was a favorite pastime of his to shoot a red squirrel running on a rail fence. When he was examined at Fort Henry, this question was asked of him, knowing his skill as a Marksman. "How many did you kill?" And he replied, "As many of them as they did of me." I have heard it said that he killed an English Officer.

My Grandmother Sweet, a canny Welsh woman said, the morning my father returned from Fort Henry to his home, "I hear footsteps in the woods---one of the boys are coming, but I hear but one, he is alone" And in that humble primitive dwelling there was a great rejoicing over the return of the youngest son, yet there was sorrow and heartache over the loss of a splendid young life that had paid the penalty of meddling in a mistaken cause.

Sydney W Sweet, Theresa, NY, April 26, 1923


Typist's Note: The last letter found on this page follows. Unfortunately, it doesn't show a name of submitter, nor does it indicate the name of the participant who meant such misfortune. Possibly there were two such incidents -- one in Brownville and one in Wilna.

One pathetic incident of the Patriot war was the case of one of the Patriots who came from Brownville. He was banished to Van Dieman’s Land, where he spent several years in captivity. His wife mourned him as dead and married again. After he had received his pardon from Queen Victoria, he hastened to Brownville, but the hardships he had undergone had so changed him that he was recognized by no one. He sought his home and there found that his wife had married again, believing him dead. Like Enoch Arden he left his home without making his presence known and that was the last seen of him.

Typist's Note: Regarding the above case, I urge my readers to read the letter received by typist/sitehost on April 10, 2005, from Victoria Windsor. The letter may be seen on this website and regards family lore which is strikingly similar to the above incident. Click here for Victoria Windsor's letter.

The End.

Index of Patriot War Articles

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