War is devastating and difficult for everyone, not just the men who fight. Women shouldered extra responsibilities during the war such as caring for their families and farms while their husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers were away fighting. Some women followed the army and provided support to the troops as cooks, laundresses, nursemaids and companions. The women of Niagara played their part in the War of 1812, many have heard the story of Laura Secord; however, we do have glimpses of other women in the War as well, and here are some of their stories.
Lydia (Skinner) Peer lived on a thriving farm on the Portage Road, near Lundy’s Lane. Tragically, her elderly father was taken prisoner by the Americans, her husband died in the Battle of Chippawa only weeks before she gave birth, and her home and farm were destroyed during The Battle of Lundy’s Lane. Lydia Peer made a War Losses petition due to the material losses.
Mrs. Deborah Willson’s Tavern was a very successful business near the brink of the Falls. Careful to stay neutral during the war, she served both American and British troops. During the Battle of Lundy's Lane Deborah Willson’s Tavern was taken over by the Americans and used as a makeshift hospital.
Rebecca Green Biggar lived within earshot of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane and all night listened to the roar of the cannons and muskets and the cries of battle, fearing for her husband William, who was fighting. It is said in the morning she set out to find him, but with no success. Distraught, she returned home to find William waiting for her! Having taken different routes through the woods, they had unknowingly passed each other.
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