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ECHOES OF 1812 – CAPT. MARTIN McCLELLAN

[Welland Tribune, 24 September 1897]

In all the historical researches in connection with the scenes of 1812-14 a remarkable oversight hs been made in the case of the McClellan family, Capt. Martin McClelland having fallen in active service, and was interred with others in old St. Mark’s cemetery, Niagara. Two descendants, grandsons, now live in Fonthill-Martin and Luther McClellan. Luther O. was requested by Rev. Canon Bull to furnish a short history of his grandfather’s life, which he has kindly consented to do, and has given us the following for the historical society, which met at Beaverdams 15th Sept, 1897

HISTORY OF CAPTAIN MARTIN McCLELLAN

Captain Martin McClellan was born in the year 1778 in Cherry Valley, New York state. At the age of twelve years the Indians became troublesome and barbarous with the whites, so much so that they were obliged to sacrifice their property and forsake all and escape for their lives. His father, Wm. McClellan, was captured by the Indians and rings put in his nose and ears. He made his escape with his wife and family of three boys, with the exception of one son, Captain Martin McClellan, who was captured by the Indians and kept in custody for three months. He was taken away down to Ogdensburgh, and on their return with him to Cherry Valley was recaptured by the whites and brought to Niagara for the remainder of their days, raising three sons, Martin, John and William. John settled in Caledon and lived to the age of ninety-six. William settled at Beaverdams and owned a farm there, where the battle of Beaverdams was fought across; he lived to the age of eighty years. Martin remained on the old farm joining the Queen’s bush at Niagara. His father was owner of a large estate in New York state, that was confiscated through the Indian trouble. Captain Martin McClellan was given the power of attorney by his father to dispose of the property that was surrendered. A large portion of it was never disposed of on account of the war of 1812 coming on, and, unfortunately for his financial interests, Captain Martin was one of the Canada’s true loyal subjects, and stood manfully up to defend his country that was near and dear to him. He fell as a hero in that war, consequently nothing more was done as regards the property in New York state. Captain Martin McClellan was killed at the battle of Fort George at the age of 34. He was also in the battle of Queenston Heights, and stood very close to the brave Brock when he fell at the foot of the mountain. He left seven descendants (grandsons) living-Martin and Luther, living at Fonthill; Dr. Martin McClellan, Chicago; Dr. J.W. McClellan, California; Dr. Frank McClellan, Michigan; C. Thompson, Niagara Falls; and A. Thompson, Virgil. Captain Martin McClellan fell on the 27th day of May, 1813. In the old St. Mark’s church, Niagara, a tablet, fastened to the wall, bears the following inscription:

In Memory of
CAPT. MARTIN McCLELLAN
Aged 34 years.
CHARLES WRIGHT and W.M. CAMERON
In the 25th year of their age.
Of the First regiment, Lincoln, Militia,
Who gloriously fell on the 27th day of May, 1813
Also, Adjutant LLOYD,
On the 8th King’s Regiment.

This tablet was in the yard until a few years ago, when interested parties saw it was going to places removed it to the church and fastened it to the wall to secure it, as it was looked upon with exceeding interest. It brings back to the mind the tattle of musketry and rush of foemen-the day when Niagara was taken. A very remarkable and sad event took place the evening prior to his death. He was deeply impressed that he should go and see his wife and family, who were taken from Niagara to Virgil during the trouble. After a short interview with his wife he said: “I have come to see you for the last time; I have been deeply impressed this afternoon that this is my last day I have to live; I expect to be numbered tomorrow with the slain; my convictions are so strong I must bid you good-bye; here is my watch and purse, you will never see me again alive.” Before three o’clock the next day he fell, with three others that were buried with him. Cameron and Wright were relatives and Lloyd a near friend. Strange to say, the ball penetrated the watch pocket, and many of his friends thought if the watch had not been removed from the pocket his life would have been spared, as the watch was a heavy English watch. My brother Martin has the purse in his possession that he handed to his wife, purchased five months before his death. Inside the following inscription is found in his own hand writing: Martin McClellan’s property, Niagara, Dec. 21st. 1812.” His wife was left with a family of five children, three girls and two boys, my father being the youngest, only six months old. Captain Martin McClellan was owner of a large estate. The law was in those days that the eldest son inherited all. His wife suffered a heavy loss financially; the buildings were burned, and but one house could be found out of six. He had a large quantity of brick hauled to build a house. The Americans replied them and used them for breast-works for a defence. And now when reflecting, notwithstanding the friendly feeling that exists between the two nations, it stirs up a spirit of enmity in the minds of those that had relatives that were compelled to sacrifice their lives to save their country, which was near and dear, from falling into the hands of a nation that was taking a great advantage of the Canadians at that particular time. Whilst old England had her men engaged in a vigorous war with another nation, it was certainly very unjust on their part to ponce upon us, a mere handful compared to them, and to me it seems cruel in the extreme, and certainly was the means of making many fatherless homes with one to eight in number, and should cause a remorse of conscience in the hearts of those that were the instigation of that cruel invasion. Consequently we should manifest a more grateful memory of those who protected and preserved this land as a British possession.

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