“Sufferers’ Land” Post #26 – To Canada and Back Again

They did not adapt well at all.

Samuel Preston became homesick for the east, and by spring of 1820, he had had enough. Once again, Lucy had to leave familiar people, in this case her grandparents, aunt and uncle. She and her brother followed their parents north to Sandusky where they boarded the Walk-in-the-Water, the first steamboat on Lake Erie, bound for Buffalo. The trip to Buffalo was uneventful. Upon arriving, they crossed into Canada and went to Waterloo, Ontario.

Lucy’s parents enrolled her in the local school. The other children made fun of her, calling her a Yankee. She became so upset that she refused to go to school. Instead, she and Charles spent the summer playing in an old fort, where they found cannon balls and other military things, and picking raspberries.

Lucy’s father found work as a carpenter, but he was no happier to be in Canada than she was. In the fall, he and Esther packed the family’s belongings and returned with Lucy and Charles to Black Rock, where they again boarded the Walk-in-the-Water and sailed to Sandusky.

After staying in Sandusky a few weeks, they returned to Uncle Benjamin’s farm and stayed through the winter. The quarters were tight, with three families crammed together in a little cabin. Lucy and the other children slept in a loft accessible by a ladder. One night, a big storm came up and tore the shingles off the roof and the rain poured in. The children were soaked, not to mention being scared half to death by the violence of the storm.

That winter, to give their families more room, Lucy’s father and her Uncle Benjamin built a new cabin. Come spring, Uncle Benjamin’s family moved into this new house, leaving the old one to the Prestons and Grandma and Grandsire Taylor.

The summer of 1821, Lucy’s father secured work as a carpenter in Norwalk. He lived in a boarding house in the village during the week, coming home on Saturday night to spend the remainder of the weekend with his family.

Lucy was seven now, and started school in an old log house near the Norwalk and Ridgefield township line, the same school Jonas and Eliza Ann Benedict had attended when they first arrived in Norwalk. Her teachers at this school were Tamia Palmer and Ann Boalt, daughter of John and Ruth Boalt. Mary Ann Morse was still a student there, and she and Lucy became friends. Lucy often rode home with her, riding behind her on her horse.

In the fall of 1821, Lucy’s father moved the family into Norwalk. They lived in a house at 11 West Main Street, and later moved a short distance down Main Street to Number 50. Finally, life appeared to have returned to normal. However, this would not last. In a few short years, Lucy would be shocked into adulthood by a series of terrible tragedies. [1]

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Footnotes:
[1] The Story of the Preston family’s journey to the Firelands and first years living there are from the “Memoir of Mrs. Lucy Preston Wickham,” The Firelands Pioneer, January 1920, pp. 2394-2399.

© 2009 by David W. Barton. All rights reserved

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