Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

December 17, 2011

War of 1812 has lots of connections to us

A “whereas” and a “resolved” caught my attention at the last meeting of the Niagara County Legislature. Whereas the War of 1812 played an extremely important part in Niagara County history ... The legislature resolved that Niagara County casino money would fund Fort Niagara with $37,500 to commemorate this most important time.

Under the reasoning that it’s not our money, but casino money on the table, I silently concurred.

The War of 1812 deserves some hullabaloo in our neighborhood. Canadians, thinking they won the war, are all for it, but the state backed out.

According to Clyde Burmaster, who authored the resolution, the state promised $250,000, but did not deliver.

The Second War of Independence was a big deal here and an important part of the United States history. The nation’s capitol in Washington, D.C. was burned down. Buffalo was burned down. Fort Niagara was captured by the British.

Major General Isaac Brock was shot down. You’ve seen Brock’s Monument overlooking the Niagara gorge at Queenston. You may have climbed the spiral staircase to the top and, though out of breath, surprised the girl you were going to marry with a kiss. At the time, there was only a small, dingy window that provided a view of the great straight that bordered the young and aggressive new nation from Upper Canada which had the might of Great Britain backing it up.

The Americans attempted to establish a foothold on the Canadian side of the Niagara River and met in the Battle of Queenston Height, the first major battle in the War of 1812.

Canadians claimed victory, but lost their military leader, General Brock. That’s where my kin may have crossed paths with the distant relatives of Burmaster.

It’s a longshot. Burmaster thinks he may have been related to Brock. I may have been related to the man who shot him.

While that’s pretty cool, it’s quite a stretch. Robert Walcot (also spelled Wolcott) was one of three men who claimed to shoot Brock. While the general was heroically leading his troops, it was  not cricket to target the big guy. It just wasn’t done, according to Canadian history.

While one of my great grandfathers, Elisha Wolcott, was a veteran of the first American Revolution, the family has no history of Daniel Wolcott taking part of the War of 1812. In that year, my granddaddy Daniel was with his wife and baby steering an oxcart from Connecticut to Wyoming County.

Since 1630, the descendants of Henry Wolcott have shown up all over North America. Some spell their name “Walcot.” The infamous Robert Walcot may have been one of them, but not a relative to brag about. Anyway, his story has holes in it.

One of the sharpshooters in the battle was Mackenzie Brock, a long-lost sibling. Mackenzie was American citizen who was labeled become a “traitor.” (Tell Clyde, Mackenzie shot Brock.)

Brock is No. 28 in Canada’s all-time list of heroes and the 200th anniversary of his death will certainly be remembered Oct. 13, 2012 across the border. We’ll have lots to remember around here too. The state forgot. The county remembered.

Contact reporter Bill Wolcott

at 439-9222, ext. 6246.

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