National Indigenous First Peoples Day: Saugeen First Nations man who fought with Tecumseh in the War of 1812

We are all aware that permanent settlement by European immigrants in our community did not happen until 1848 when John Spence built a home in Saugeen (now Southampton). This was well after the War of 1812 between the British and the United States that happened mostly along the border of Quebec and Ontario. The people of Saugeen First Nation however, have been here for millennia.

A few years ago, I found tidbits about local involvement in the War of 1812.  The war  began on June 18, 1812, when the United States declared war on Britain.

I decided that now is the time to share this. I do not believe that it contains all the locals that served but just those I have found and how I found them.

The first one that I found was while looking for information on local men who served in WWI and I was going through old online copies of the Tara Leader newspaper. In an 1897 issue, on the front page, in a column titled “Around the Area” was this tidbit;

There died last week in the Saugeen Reserve Charles Mashekewawedong at the great age of 106 years – one of the few survivors of the War of 1812. He was with Tecumseh during part of the war, and was at Queenston Heights when Sir Isaac Brock was killed.

[*Tecumseh led his First Nations followers against the United States military in many battles and supported the British during the War of 1812.  Even though his efforts to unite Native Americans ended with his death in the War of 1812, he became an iconic folk hero in American, Indigenous, and Canadian popular history.

He travelled to Amherstburg, in Upper Canada, and immediately became the British army’s most important Aboriginal ally, rallying other warriors to fight the United States and launching raids that turned the tide of war in Upper Canada’s favour.]*Wikipedia.

I jumped in the car and dashed out to the Saugeen Village Cemetery, hoping to find an old grave maker. I found many old grave markers but they are mostly faded or unreadable.

However, I decided to start a new folder titled “War of 1812”, in the event I found something else on the subject sometime in the future. As luck would have it, I did.

The Library and Archives in Ottawa are constantly digitizing old records and making them available online. While searching for some Boer War info, I saw a file titled “STATEMENT – NAME, AGE AND RESIDENCE – MILITIAMEN OF 1812 – 1815.” It was dated 1876. I opened it and by an act of government found that $50,000 was approved to provide $20 to each veteran of the war that could prove they had participated between 1812 and 1815. This was done by the normal way that the government communicated with the masses back then, which was by the Notice Board in every Post Office in the country. Each and every entry was detailed by Post Office and County of Residence. There were 3,024 entries, which exceeded the 2,500 expected.

They were listed by Province and County. I immediately went to Bruce County and found four entries that had been received. They are listed below.

Post Office
Kincardine – Donavan, Stanley Service Not proven.
North Bruce – Rawn, Jaccob $20 Granted
Saugeen – Madwashimind, John $20 Granted
Teeswater – Fulford, Jonathon Service Not Proven

John Madwashimind of Saugeen First Nation received his $20 and has his permanent record page in the Library and Archives in Ottawa.

Jacob Rawn was born in 1792 , oddly enough in the United States. The Rawn family came to Saugeen Township prior to 1854, from King Township, north of Toronto. The family farmed near North Bruce where he died in 1877. He had served with the York Regiment 1st Battalion in Niagara during the War of 1812. He appears on the earliest census taken for the Township in 1854 and is also honoured with his record in the Ottawa Library and Archives.

Therefore, it proves that at least three men who lived here, fought in the War of 1812.  The next generation of his family came here but I suspect that would be true of many of our early pioneers.

While I can only confirm the names of two Saugeen First Nation men who paddled down the shore to join Tecumseh, I suspect that there were many more.


G. William Streeter