06 February 2014

Laura Ingersoll Secord

Laura Ingersoll, daughter of Thomas Ingersoll and Elizabeth Dewey, was born on 13 Sep 1775 in Great Barrington, Province of Massachusetts Bay. She died on 17 Oct 1868 in the Village of Chippawa, Ontario, Canada.

Shortly after her father moved the family to the Niagara region of Upper Canada, Laura married Loyalist James Secord, who was later seriously wounded at the Battle of Queenston Heights early in the War of 1812. They had seven children: Mary, Charlotte, Harriet, Charles, Appolonia, Laura Anne and Hannah.

None Known

On the evening of 21 Jun 1813, Laura learned of plans for a surprise American attack on British troops led by Lieutenant James FitzGibbon at Beaver Dams, which would have furthered American control in the Niagara Peninsula. It is unclear how she became aware of these plans, but according to tradition she overheard a conversation amongst the billeted Americans as they ate dinner. As her husband was still recovering from his October injuries, Laura set out herself early the next morning to warn the Lieutenant. She reportedly walked 20 miles (32 km) from present-day Queenston through St. Davids, Homer, Shipman's Corners and Short Hills at the Niagara Escarpment before she arrived at the camp of allied Mohawk warriors who led her the rest of the way to FitzGibbon's headquarters at the DeCew House. A small British force and a larger contingent of Mohawk warriors were then readied for the American attack. Most of the American forces were casualties or taken prisoner in the Battle of Beaver Dams on 24 June. No mention of Secord was made in reports that immediately followed the battle.

Over the years, the Secords unsuccessfully petitioned the government for some kind of acknowledgement. In 1860, when Secord was 85, the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII, heard of her story while travelling in Canada. At Chippawa, near Niagara Falls, he was made aware of Laura Secord's plight as an aging widow and sent an award of £100. It was the only official recognition that she received during her lifetime.

Statue of Laura
Valiants Memorial
Ottawa, Canada
Laura Secord died in 1868 at the age of 93. She was interred next to her husband in the Drummond Hill Cemetery in Niagara Falls. Her grave is marked by a monument with a bust on top, and is close to a monument marking the Battle of Lundy's Lane. The inscription on her grave marker reads:

To perpetuate the name and fame of Laura Secord, who walked alone nearly 20 miles by a circuitous difficult and perilous route, through woods and swamps and over miry roads to warn a British outpost at DeCew's Falls of an intended attack and thereby enabled Lt. FitzGibbon on 24 June 1813, with fewer than 50 men of the H.M. 49th Regt., about 15 militiamen and a small force of Six Nations and other Indians under Capt. William Johnson Kerr and Dominique Ducharme to surprise and attack the enemy at Beechwoods (or Beaver Dams) and after a short engagement, to capture Col. Bosler of the U.S. Army and his entire force of 542 men with two field pieces.