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Sketch of Peter Teeple, Loyalist and Pioneer, 1762 - 1847
By W. B. Waterbury

Captain Peter Teeple was born near Trenton, New Jersey, July 14th, 1762. Borden town is believed to be the locality.

His parents were settlers from Holland in New Jersey, and he was the youngest son of a well-to-do and fairly numerous family. He had at least three brothers, John, James, and George, all of whom were in the Continental Army under George Washington in the war of Independence which raged from 1776 to 1783. About the year 1779, Peter was still living at the old home, and then in his 18th year. Being possessed of a very handsome horse, he kept it carefully hidden from view of the contending armies, rightly fearing it might be confiscated for war purposes. One day however, whilst leading it to water, he was surprised by the Patriot cavalry, and forced to give it up. He afterwards stated that, being at that time unable to speak English (his family, as stated before, being Hollanders) he was taken at a great disadvantage. The occurrence so angered the boy, who prided himself on the possession of so handsome a horse, that he immediately tied up a bundle of clothing and started on foot for New York, then occupied by the British, which he reached safely, and there joined the British cavalry. Having a good education and being naturally bright and intelligent, he soon acquired a fluent use of the English language, and being of tall and commanding presence, and a good soldier, he rapidly rose to the rank of Captain, and was placed in command of a troop of cavalry, being a part of the corps known as the “New Jersey Volunteers.”

He took part in several notable engagements, and many times had an opportunity to forage for supplies for his troop among the supporters of the Patriot army which had deprived him of, his beloved steed. On one occasion while scouting in Virginia, a bullet from the rifle of an American sharp-shooter killed the charger upon which he was mounted. At the close of the war in 1783, Captain Teeple’s cavalry troop was disbanded at Halifax, and, owing to his fine physique, being six feet four inches in height, he was offered great inducements to proceed with the British army to England and accept a commission in His Majesty’s Life Guards. He declined the offer, and later expressed misgivings as to the wisdom of his choice. He then left

U. E. Loyalist - - 1762-1847.

Captain in the “New Jersey Volunteers” in the Revolutionary War. Pioneer of Long Point in 1793. One of the first five Justices of the Peace for London District in 1800. Served at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane in 1814. Died at Centreville, Oxford County, Ont., in 1847, aged 85.

The original of this portrait was drawn on the fly-leaf of a book by a runaway slave from the United States about 1840.

Halifax, proceeding with a large number of other disbanded soldiers, and many refugees, to New Brunswick, where Loyalist settlements had been established at Saint John, and at a place called Waterborough, situated on Grand Lake about sixty miles up the River Saint John. From being a captain of horse, he now became captain of a trading vessel plying between Saint John and New York.

At Saint John he met and married, in 1785, Lydia Mabee, one of the five daughters of Frederick Mabee, a prominent Quaker refugee from New York, whose father. Simon, a Hollander, and his mother, Marie Landrine, a French lady, had settled near Sing Sing in the State of New York.

Frederick Mabee was a United Empire Loyalist, whose home had, at the British evacuation of New York, been confiscated, and himself and family subjected to indignity by many of his formerly kind neighbors, because he declined to swear allegiance to the new Republic, holding, as he no doubt conscientiously did, that the grievances of the colonists should be settled by constitutional means rather than by the sword.

Having heard of the wonderful fertility and natural advantages of the Long Point (or as it was first called, the Turkey Point) country in Upper Canada from his cousin Peter Secord, a U.E. Loyalist who had accompanied him to Saint John from New York, and who. being an old hunter, had already penetrated the wilds of Upper Canada with one George Ramsay, an Englishman, on a hunting and exploring trip, he resolved to form a small colonization party to open a permanent settlement at Turkey Point. Gathering many of his relatives together, including his son-in-law Captain Teeple, the “Mabee party,” as they were afterwards called, set out in the fall of 1792, but they wintered at Quebec, and did not reach Turkey Point until some time in 1793.

They brought some household goods, drove several cows, rode horses, and employed an Indian guide to pilot the way through the wilderness. The men drove the animals along the shore, the women came in the boats, going ashore at night to camp. During the journey through the wilds they sustained themselves largely on cornmeal, and milk from the cows. The party consisted of Frederick Mabee and wife Lavinia (born Pellum, or Pelham); Oliver Mabee, their eldest son, aged about 19; Simon, aged 17; Pellum, the youngest son, aged about 5; three single daughters, Polly, Betsy, and Sally; and two married daughters, Nancy, with her husband John Stone, and Lydia, with her husband Captain Peter Teeple and their three children. His cousin, Peter Secord, and Thomas Walsh, also came with the “Mabee party.”

Frederick Mabee at once erected the first log cabin ever built in the new settlement, at the foot of the hill over-looking Turkey Point. Their corn was pounded in the stump of a walnut tree, the pestle being attached to a “sweep” like the “Old Oaken Bucket.”

One year after the arrival of the party he died of apoplexy, and was buried in a hollowed-out walnut log coffin. He was the first white man buried in the new settlement, and a large boulder marks his tomb near Turkey Point. His widow subsequently married Lieut. Wm. B. Hilton, a New York Loyalist of the “ King’s American Dragoons,” but he died three years after the marriage. Large numbers of other Loyalists poured into the settlement shortly after, but the “Mabee party” came in advance of the rest, and became “squatters” until the lands were apportioned by the Crown to all the Loyalists. Polly and Sally Mabee, two daughters who came to Turkey Point single, married respectively Captain David Secord, and Silas Montross, U.E. Loyalists. The former was a miller at Niagara; the latter lived at Turkey Point. The Mabee, Teeple, Secord, Montross, and Stone families became prominent factors in the early days of the settlement, but now their descendants are very widely scattered.

More than a hundred years have come and gone since Frederick Mabee and his sons and sons-in-law made the acquaintance of the wild, painted, and befeathered savages of the north shore of Lake Erie; and where they were surprised and startled by the bedlam of discordant sounds, which daily rent the air, from the throats of the myriads of w ild turkeys, geese, and duck, as these sturdy pioneers staked out their new homes at Turkey Point. To-day their great-grandsons are found in the ranks of busy men, scattered all over the American continent, and their great-great-grandchildren occupy seats in nearly every schoolhouse n the land. In fact, these descendants have become so numerous and so widely dispersed that they meet as strangers, never dreaming that the old pioneer mother who pounded corn in the hollow of a walnut stump on Turkey Point more than a hundred years ago was their common maternal ancestor.

Captain Peter Teeple and his brothers in-law, Captain David Secord and John Stone, were the first young married men that settled in Charlotteville as Turkey Point afterwards came to be officially named; and when the settlement was surveyed Peter Teeple was granted Lot 8, in the broken front, near Forestville. His wife Lydia also was granted 106f acres by the Crown, being part of Lot 9, lake front, Charlotteville. Near by still stands to-day an old tree known as the “Aunt Lydia Apple Tree,” which yet bears fruit. It was the favorite apple of Lydia Teeple. There are trees in this orchard 100 years old, and near the old house is still standing a walnut tree which must be very ancient indeed. It measures nearly twelve feet in circumference and four feet in diameter. It is an interesting relie in itself with its immense spread of branches.

Peter Teeple was one of the first Justices appointed, having that honor conferred upon him by virtue of the first General Commission of the Peace for the newly organized “District of London,” dated at York, now City of Toronto, January 1st, 1800. He was also one of the original three, appointed at the same time, to act as Commissioners for administering oaths prescribed by law to the officers of the Government of Upper Canada. On the 2nd day of April following, he was sworn into office at the house of Lieut. James Munro, at Turkey Point, which house is still standing (Jan., 18IJ9) and is now known as “Fort Munroe.” On 8th April, 1800, the first session of the first Court held in that vast new “District of London” was convened at Fort Munroe,. and Squire Teeple was one of the sitting Justices. His position then was about equivalent to that of a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas now, and he came to be regarded as a thorough jurist. He left a very large law library, and a complete register of the hundreds of civil marriages he performed.

An amusing incident was related by his youngest son, Pellum. in connection with one marriage ceremony he performed about 1825. The laws or custom of that place required that where no regular license had been procured, the ceremony might be performed at some public cross-roads, at the hour of midnight, the contracting parties appearing in their night-clothes, the justice and one or more others acting as witnesses. In company with his son, Pellum, the Squire repaired to the spot, a lonely cross-road, on a very dark night. Presently two groups approached from opposite directions, one with the bride, the other with the groom. Upon meeting, and the two principals clad in white robes stepping forward at the hour of twelve, they were duly married according to law. Pellum, then a young man of sixteen, said it made a lasting and weird impression on his memory.

But few years had elapsed after the Squire, as he was then called by virtue of his legal office, settled at Turkey Point, when the war of 1812-1815 broke out. He had attained a goodly degree of prosperity, and he and his sons donned their swords to defend their new-made homes. The settlers formed volunteer companies, and in recognition of his previous military rank and experience he was chosen a captain of militia, being then about fifty years of age. With his command he met the invading American troops at Queenston Heights and Lundy’s Lane. His valuable flour mill was burned during this war by a party of American scouts.

Squire Teeple and his wife were two of the constituent members of the old pioneer Baptist church organized at Vittoria by Elder Titus Finch in 1804; and when the acre of land was purchased for £2. 10. 0. “New York Currency” from Deacon Oliver Mabee in 1807 upon which to erect a “meeting house,” Mr. Teeple became one of the first trustees, the other being one Lawrence Johnson. The church was a commodious edifice for those times, and superseded the old log structure, and it was furnished with a three-sided gallery. The young people who used to attend the singing schools in that old meeting house have long since passed away, but they were full of rugged piety and simple faith.

In January, 1851, a new church was built near the same site, and among the records of the members of the construction committee we find the now locally historic names of Mabee, Teeple, Young, and Byerse, sons of the original pioneers. A few years before his death in 1847, a pen-and-ink portrait of the Squire was obtained under peculiar circumstances. There came in that community (Centreville, Oxford Co., Ont.) a quadroon who had been a slave in the United States, and who had a talent for drawing, which !iis mistress allowed him to cultivate, and even procured for him some instruction in the art. The Squire’s son, Pellum Cartwright Teeple, learning this, brought the escaped slave home one day and got him to execute a portrait of his father. It was drawn upon the fly-leaf of a book, and he was portrayed sitting with Pellum’s child, Charles, an infant, on his lap. The original is still in the possession of the grandson Charles, who lives at Marengo, Illinois, and the writer is happily possessed of a photographic copy. The drawing is quaint but well executed, and is said by those who remember the old Squire to be a faithful likeness, the only exception taken being that the chin is too pointed. He continued to reside not far from Long Point (Centreville, Oxford Co.) during the remaining years of his life, and was finally laid to rest in the old Baptist cemetery near there by his son Pellum. He was methodical, dignified in bearing, of a commanding aspect, a strong advocate of temperance, and was erect and soldierly to the last.

His wife Lydia was a very worthy woman, and they both lived long, she dying in 1845 at the age of 75, and he in 1847, aged 85. It is related of her that whenever she lost her temper and spoke sharply to anyone she would soon after be found alone, pacing to and fro with clasped hands murmuring to herself for a time, “Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy!”

Squire Teeple had thirteen children, of whom nine were sons, namely, William Bullard, Luke, Edward Manning, Frederick, Stephen Henry, Oliver Mabee, Lemuel Covel, Simon Peter, and Pellum Cartwright ; and four daughters, namely, Louvina, Susannah, Mary, and Phebe. Some of these children met with stirring adventures during the war of 1812-15, and the Canadian Rebellion of 1837. A few details of these will be given here as follows:

William B., the eldest son. was born 18th January, 1788, and was, like his father, and enormously big man. and a captain of Provincial Militia at the battle of Lundy’s Lane. At the latter engagement he had as an orderly a French Canadian of rather small stature who used to say to his towering commanding officer, “Capt. Teeple, you are a very big man, and when the lighting gets hot I am going to get behind you." In actual warfare, however, the little French Canadian exposed himself so fearlessly that he was mortally wounded early in the battle.

A portion of the scarlet uniform worn by Capt. W. B. Teeple in that engagement, made up in the form of the quaint “knitting sheaths ” of the period, is still in the possession of the writer, one of his grandsons. On the 4th January, 1818, he was married to Jemima Leek at Malahide by Mahlon BurweH, J.P., and soon after settled on 200 acres of land, being Lot 1, Con. 8, in the Township of Malahide County of Elgin, the land being a grant from the Crown for military services rendered.

He died on the 8th April. 1857, leaving a goodly estate. His children in order of birth were Jared Topping, Susan Celestia, James Jackson, Symantha J., Temperance Ursula, Lydia Ann. Stephen William, and Sarah. Of these Lydia Ann was married to James F. Waterbury, also of the U. E. L. descent, on the 22nd of June, 1852, by Rev. Caleb Burdick at Malahide. At this date, 1899, she resides at Cambridge port, Mass., and is the mother of the writer of these annals Luke Teeple, second son of Capt. Peter Teeple, born 12th September, 1791, went to New Jersey on a visit to an uncle just before the war of 1812 broke out, and he was ordered to take the oath of allegiance or quit the country. His uncle had a mail route from New York to some point in New Jersey, believed to be Borden town, and he put young Luke on this route thinking that while thus employed he would not be molested. He was arrested, however, in the following February, and cast into prison with a about a hundred other British sympathizers. These Loyalist political prisoners were sorely tempted 9 to desert their first love and join the American forces. One by one they weakened until only fifteen remained, Luke being one of the faithful few. At the close of the war they were liberated, and the uncle, although a patriotic American, gave Luke a present in token of admiration of his pluck and endurance. When he returned to Canada he, on the 26th of December. 1816, married Nancy, second daughter of Elder Titus Finch, already referred to, and settled at Vittoria, near Simcoe, purchasing the two-story frame house built by Caleb Wood (also a “Jerseyite” Loyalist as the New Jersey refugees were called in those days) and which house still stands, dark and windowless and vacant, in front of the Baptist burying ground, fit companion to the weather-beaten, mossy old grave stones which mark the back-ground.

On the flat opposite this house he built a tannery which was operated by his son Alexander, after his death in 1849.

He had seven sons—Alexander, Jerome, Albert Gallatin, Thermos, Lysander, Titus Ridley, and Peter Latimer; and four daughters— Mabro, Mobra, Clementine, and Almira. Alexander was accidentally crushed to death in 1867 while excavating a large boulder on his property.

Pellum Cartwright (originally spelled Pelham), thirteenth and youngest child, and ninth son of Peter Teeple, was bom 28th November, 1809, and was a participator in the Upper Canadian Rebellion of 1837, or “The Patriot War,” as it was then often called. He was the leader of a band of young Canadians opposed to the long misgovernment of the country by an irresponsible body of men known as “The Family Compact,” who ignored the statutes passed by the parliamentary representatives of the people, and frustrated their will: and when it was determined to fight, he was chosen a captain ; but on the flight to the United States of the two principal leaders, William Lyon Mackenzie and Hon. John Rolph, all those who had been leaders under them were compelled to follow them into exile or forfeit their lives.

Pellum, on attempting to flee, fell in with a party of soldiers who made him their prisoner. The story of his capture and escape is thus told by his nephew, Luke, son of Simon Peter Teeple, who heard it from his own lips:

“The price set upon his head by the Canadian Government was ‘$600 dead or alive.’ He was determined to leave Canada and was then on his way to the western frontier line. He was riding a horse, and had reached a point some seven or eight miles westerly from London, Ont., on the road leading from that city along the southern side of the River Thames. His brother, Edward Manning Teeple, lived on this road some two or throe miles from London, and he was making for his house. On turning a bend in the road he came in full view of a sergeant and six men advancing towards him. He could neither retreat nor conceal himself, so he rode steadily on and met them. The sergeant halted him and plied him with questions; and as his answers were unsatisfactory he was taken in charge, faced about, and obliged to go with them towards London. They dismounted him, and the sergeant rode the horse. Plodding along for some time, darkness overtook them before they reached the city. They stopped at a tavern and the soldiers ordered a meal, which was at once prepared. They then asked him to come and eat with them, but he assured them he was not hungry, and they left their arms in the bar-room and went into the next room and sat down to eat. He also went with them into the same room, and asked the waitress for a drink of water. He was on the side of the table next to the outside door, and as the girl gave him the drink of water she flung this door wide open. In an instant he was through it and running for the woods. The men sprang for their arms, and came rushing out, tiring after him. He could hear the orders given to surround the cluster of tavern buildings, and see lights moving, but he made good his escape into the adjoining forest. There was snow on the ground and running was difficult, yet for the fear of being overtaken he kept it up until almost exhausted. Taking what he supposed to be a course between the public road and the river, he at length came upon the latter, but he did not know whether above or below his starting point. Going down to the water, which was frozen over, he followed along until he espied an airhole; into this he threw a stick to see which way the water ran. then going down the stream, he finally came upon a house. By this time he was excessively fatigued, and very, very hungry from his long fast. He went up and knocked at the door, and a man appeared and began talking with him. He had no means of ascertaining whether this man was a ‘ Patriot ’ or not, so he feigned himself an urgent despatch-bearer of important official papers which must be delivered in London with utmost liaste; he said he had given out in travelling, and insisted upon the man's acceptance of and conveyance of them to London forthwith, as he was utterly unable to go on himself. The man demurred; so, after an earnest discussion Pellum said, ‘Well, if I could rest a few minutes and get some food to eat, I might try to go on.’ He then heard the man’s wife getting up, and she protested that her husband could not go, but said she would get Pellum something to eat at once, which she did. While eating he became satisfied they were ‘ Patriots,’ and revealed his true position. The man then said they could not keep him there, hut that they would see that he was hidden and fed at a neighbor’s over the hill. Pellum went with him to the neighbor’s and was concealed there for a time. If there was any likelihood of capture one of the children at the first house was to come over the hill and notify him. He was alarmed one day by seeing one of the children come running over the hill; but it proved to be only a neighborly call. After a few days had passed, and he thought search for him had ceased, he worked his way through the woods at night up to his brother Edward’s, and soon after went in the same way to the home of his sister Mary, wife of Andrus Davis, at Orwell, Ont. Several weeks were spent in this hazardous trip.

“Mary and Andrus Davis were known to he staunch Loyalists, and there is no account of any attempt to search for him at their place. There he was supplied with food for a short time, but the danger of recapture was so great that he did not remain all the time in the house but kept concealed sometimes in the woods.

“Still fearing arrest and execution, as some of his compatriots had thus sutfered, his sister Mary Davis, nephew James Teeple, and sister-in-law Jemima Teeple, conducted him secretly in the dead of winter by sleigh from Orwell to the Niagara frontier; and his relative, Rev. Samuel Rose, of Lundy’s Lane, though a political opponent of the Patriots, espoused his cause, and under the pretence of being the employer of Pellum, sent him on a message to friends in New York State, and at once hired a man to row him across at some point below the Falls.

“He, Pellum, grew very intense when relating this part of the narrative, and declared that had anyone ordered the boatman back to the Canada shore he would have thrown the man overboard and made the attempt to reach the American shore alone. But no difficulty arose; he was safely landed in New York State, and waving a parting adieu to this relatives, who sat in their conveyance and witnessed his crossing, he began his career in the United States.”

Though the Patriot War thus came to so inglorious an end, it is now generally admitted in Canada that had it not been for that uprising by which the attention of the British Government was called to the intolerable grievances of the Canadians, and a just form of responsible government quickly conceded, it would in all probability have been many years before the people of Canada would have obtained that full measure of home rule which they henceforth enjoyed.

We next hear of Pellum journeying down the Ohio River with a party intending to go to Texas, but becoming dissatisfied with the roistering habits of his companions, he left them and struck across the country to a place called Pekin, on the Illinois River. From there he eventually went to the city of Rockford, in., where on the 28th of March, 1841, he married Mary A. Gleason.

His father and mother were now so old they were desirous he should come home to Canada and care for them the rest of their days; but he would not. do this until a special amnesty was sent him by the Canadian Government for his part in the Patriot War. This was obtained and forwarded to him, and he journeyed to the old home in Oxford County, accompanied by his wife, son Charles, and Luke, son of Simon Peter Teeple, (who lived with them), in a two-horse buggy, there being no railroads, and remained there till the two old pioneers were laid away in the churchyard. Later he returned to Illinois and settled at Marengo, where he died on the 12th of December, 1878, and where his son Charles, above referred to, still resides. Pellum Teeple left six sons, viz.:—Charles Gleason, Addison Venelle, Levant, Jared, Lester, and Frank; and four daughters—Elmina, Elvira, Ruth L., and Lydia Mary.

Of the other descendants of Frederick Mabee and Peter Teeple little or nothing of special note is known to the present writer, except the dates of their birth and death, and that Oliver Mabee Teeple was also a captain at Lundy’s Lane; but it is hoped that the survivors, should they read these lines, will, as speedily as possible, contribute their quota to these annals before it is too late; and above all, that they will prove worthy successors of those sturdy “ Pilgrim Fathers of Canada ” who, for the sake of what they believed, rightly or wrongly, to be their duty, were willing to undertake, not only the perils of war. but also the hardships and privations of hewing out for themselves, and for their children, in the wild forests of Turkey Point, new homes and habitations, destined after one hundred years to become an important part of a great and mighty state.

Compiled January, 1899, by W. B. Waterbury, St. Thomas, Ont.

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