Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Small World

Three years ago I wrote a biography of Laura Secord. Currently, I am working on Molly Brant's story. Again and again I am struck by the same cast of characters that appear in the lives of both these women.

It shouldn't surprise me, I guess.

Both biographies are about Canadian women whose lifetimes overlapped by twenty-one years.  It's inevitable that the same figures in British, American, and Canadian government would turn up in both. Governor Guy Carleton and John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant-governor of the province of Upper Canada, for example.

But there are also a handful of other notables who cross story-lines between Molly Brant and Laura Secord — the Mohawk Chief John Norton, half Cherokee, half Scot; the ill-fated British General John Burgoyne; and William Johnson Kerr, Molly's grandson who fought in the War of 1812, the war in which both Laura and her husband performed acts of courage.

Molly Brant died in 1796, one year after twenty-one-year old Laura Ingersoll and her family arrived in Upper Canada, but Molly's younger brother, Joseph Brant, appears in both biographies. Richard Cartwright was a Loyalist living in Cataraqui as was Molly. Coincidentally, Cartwright married the sister-in-law of Laura Secord. I had discovered him when I wrote Laura's story, and then there he was, a prominent business man in Molly's world.

It's interesting to encounter historical figures who wander in and out of both stories. It's a small world. And in those early days of the province, even smaller.

Till next time.

No comments: