Like most people in the Northeast, Laura Secord had family and friends on both sides of the war. Her father had fought with the colonists against the British in the American Revolution, but after the war moved to the Upper Canada. Once there, she met James Secord and they married in 1797 and settled in St. Davids then later Queenston.
When war broke out in 1812, James Secord joined the British in the 1st Lincoln militia under Isaac Brock. He was seriously wounded at the Battle of Queenston Heights after helping to carry his commander’s body away from the field after his death. Laura brought him home to nurse him. On May 27, 1813, American forces caught Fort George and the Niagara Peninsula fell into American hands. In June, a number of American troops were billeted in the Secord home. I can’t help but find this ironic since this was one of the grievances the Americans brought against King George.
While stationed in the Secord home, Laura overheard a crucial piece of information that the Americans planned to surprise the British garrison at Beaver Dams. She decided to warn the garrison and began her dangerous walk the next morning.
The garrison was only twelve miles away, but she took a meandering path that took her through St. Davids and Shipman’s Corners, now St. Catharines. Her niece Elizabeth joined her for part of the way, but became exhausted and went home. After walking twenty miles, she came unexpectedly across a Mohawk encampment. The Mohawks were allies of the British and the chief took her to Lieutenant James FitzGibbon, who led the troops at Beaver Dam. Because of her information, the Americans were beaten soundly at the Battle of Beaver Dam on June 24, 1813.
Surprisingly, Laura’s contribution to this victory was not recognized until 1860 when the Prince of Wales heard her story while traveling in Canada. Laura was eighty-five years old and was living in poverty after husband’s death. His award of 100 pounds was the only accolade she received during her lifetime.
Now she’s memorialized in several monuments and a large bust over her gravestone.
Sources available on request