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Abraham & Augustus R. Markle of Terre Haute and Otter Creek


ABRAHAM MARKLE -- CANADIAN TRAITOR OR AMERICAN PATRIOT?
By Dennis Bell

ABRAHAM MARKLE (born Dec. 26, 1770 Marbletown, Ulster County, New York died June 26, 1826 in Otter Creek Township, Vigo County, Indiana. Married Catherine THORN Nov. 10, 1794 Stone Arabia Reformed Church, Montgomery County, New York). Abraham was the youngest son in a family of United Empire Loyalists who entered Canada after the War of Independence, probably in 1795. The MARKLES settled in the Niagara Peninsula, attracted by cheap land and low taxes as well as the Union Jack. But Abraham was back and forth across the border repeatedly. He became "an honest brother" in good standing of the Newark (now Niagara on the Lake) Masonic Lodge in early 1794 and had passed the Fellowcraft degree. But a few months later, on Nov. 10, 1794, Abraham left the Niagara lodge with a parchment describing him as a member in good standing and headed back into New York state, where he became the first town clerk of Ulysses, Onandaga County, New York, which is now Ithaca. The town records noted the event: "At the annual town meeting held on Tuesday the 7th day of April, 1795, at the house of Peter HYMMPOUGH, in Ulysses, agreeable to Publick notice given for that purpose, the appointment of town officers are as follows: Andrew ENGLISH, supervisor, Abm. MARKLE, town clerk. . . . Recorded this 9th day of April, 1795. Abm. MARKLE, town clerk." He soon acquired and maintained a rather substantial home that came in handy in later life. Other records show him to have been a justice of the peace there as late as 1800. There is also in existence a deed for 115 acres Abraham purchased Dec. 3, 1795, from Peter HIMEPAUGH, and sold in 1800 to Simeon DeWITT. The land parcel later came back into MARKLE family hands and was eventually donated as the original site for Cornell University, which occupies it to this day. Abraham was still buying lands in 1801, but had returned to Canada with his family by 1803, buying Lot 41 in the second cocession of Ancaster on Oct. 21, of that year. But he maintained his New York interests. A deed for an Ithaca acreage he purchased in 1808 describes him as "of Upper Canada, late of Ulysses." Almost immediately, MARKLE plunged into business and into politics in Ancaster. He was one of many forward-thinking individuals bridling under the hackneyed laws imposed on them by the ruling "Family Compact" in Upper Canada. Abraham aligned himself with a fiery gentleman named Joseph WILLCOCKS, probably the most outspoken opponent of British rule in Upper Canada at the time. WILLCOCKS was the scion of an upper-class British family, born in Ireland, who emigrated to the Thirteen Colonies and left during the War of Independence, settling in Newark, Ontario, a little town on the Niagara Peninsula. It was there that he became acquainted with Abraham and other members of the MARKLE family. WILLCOCKS became editor of the virulent newspaper Upper Canadian Guardian or Freeman’s Journal, and was also at one time Sheriff of York. He aligned himself with those who opposed the British rulers of Upper Canada and was elected to the Upper Canada legislature in 1812 along with Abraham MARKLE. WILLCOCKS was also thrown in jail for suggesting that bribery was going on in the legislature. He campaigned unsuccessfully for a universal school system, and took up virtually every hopeless cause in the house, aided and abetted by his young friend MARKLE.

And then came the War of 1812, which deeply divided the MARKLE family politically and socially. Abraham joined WILLCOCKS in a successful legislative effort blocking Major General Isaac BROCK’s attempt to declare martial law in Upper Canada at the outbreak of the war. "I am flattered at being rankeed among the enemies of the King’s service in this colony," said WILLCOCKS. "I glory in the distinction." Then he suddenly reversed himself to become the right-hand man to Upper Canada’s Provisional Administrator and military commander. BROCK dispatched him to secure the loyalty of the Grand River Indians, which he accomplished, and then WILLCOCKS fought alongside BROCK on the winning side at the Battle of Queenston Heights, Oct. 13, 1812, in which the commander was killed. It’s not known if Abraham MARKLE was at the battle. WILLCOCKS and MARKLE soon fell out with BROCK’s successors, who moved to stiffen colonial resistance to the American threat by cracking down on Canadian dissidents. WILLCOCKS fled across the border and went over to the American side during the second occupation of York (now Toronto) by the Americans. Abraham was arrested and sent to imprisonment in Kingston as an American sympathizer. He pleaded his innocence to the charge, pointing out that five of his brothers had fought for the Crown with Butler’s Rangers during the revolutionary war, and that his own father had spent many months in an American prison because of his unswerving loyalty to King and County. Abraham was soon freed and returned to his business interests in Ancaster, steering a quiet course, clear of involvement on either side of the conflict.

Willcocks became a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and established the Corps of Canadian Volunteers on July 18, 1813. The unit was recruited mainly from among dissidents who fled across the border to escape the post-Brock crackdown. They were mostly from the Niagara peninsula, men who saw some hope of freedom for Canadians in an American victory over the British colonial forces, defending a corrupt colonial bureaucracy based in Newark. Joseph WILLCOCKS came home to Newark with a vengeance on Dec. 10, 1813, proudly riding at the head of about 100 heavily armed members of his militia unit along with 70 U.S. Army regulars. They burned the town to the ground, making no distinction between public and private property. WILLCOCKS was wearing a green band and a white cockade hat identifying him as a Canadian Volunteer, shouting threats at his former neighbors and other Tories as his men set their homes ablaze. Twenty-four prominent residents of the town were captured and taken back to New York state, declared "prisoners of war," including WILLCOCKS’ successor as member of thge legislative assembly for Lincoln, Ralfe Clench. More than 60 people lost property in the raid, ranging from homes and barns burned to looted furnishings. It all amounted to many thousands of dollars. Four other residents joined up with the Americans. Abraham’s eldest son, William, joined the invaders that very day and was immediately commissioned as a lieutenant. Abraham MARKLE’s role in the attack is unknown. But it is known that he enlisted in the Canadian Volunteers two days later and was assigned the rank of major, becoming WILLCOCKS’ second in command.

In response to the Newark attack, the British burned Buffalo, New York. And in response to the Buffalo attack, WILLCOCKS and MARKLE organized a series of guerrilla-style attacks along the Canadian side of Lake Erie. WILLCOCKS was killed in one of those raids and MARKLE assumed full command of the the Canadian Volunteers, which soon became known as MARKLE’s Volunteers. On May 16, 1814, he led an attack that resulted in the burning of every privately-owned building between Port Dover and Turkey Point. That outraged the British commander, Sir George PREVOST, who had previously indicated in public that the burning of Buffalo a few days aftter the Newark attack ended British vengeance for the torching of Newark. But MARKLE’s raiding escalated the British response and Prevost ordered the Royal Navy to act to deter further American raids. Vice Admiral Alexander COCHRANE responded by issuing an order to his fleet to "destroy and lay waste to such towns and districts as you may find assailable." The firing of private as well as public property became official British policy, resulting in the torching of the White House in Washington itself by a raiding Royal Navy flotilla, probably the low point in American military history.

The British were so outraged by MARKLE’s Volunteers that Ontario’s acting attorney-general, John Beverley ROBINSON, convened a trial in Ancaster, Ontario of 23 captured American sympathizers on charges of high treason. Others were tried in absentia, including Abraham MARKLE. Ironically, the prisoners were being held in the Union Mill, a building owned by MARKLE. Fifteen of the prisoners were convicted, eight of them were hanged July 20, 1814 from a rude gallows constructed at Burlington Heights. The rest where sentenced to prison. One managed to escape, three were banished from Canada for life and the rest died of typhus doing time in a stinking military prison in Kingston, Ontario. Abraham MARKLE would surely have been hanged had he not escaped to the United States. He left behind his brothers, two of whom changed the spelling of their surname to avoid association with what they viewed as Abraham’s unsavory and disloyal branch of the clan.

Abraham’s response was a mass family exodus from Upper Canada and New York to southwestern Indiana, then on the very edge of civilization. It was another grand adventure in a life crammed with excitement. He took his sons, their wives, his grandchildren with him to what is now Terre Haute, in Vigo County, Indiana, along the east bank of the Wabash River. Abraham was one of the five men who founded the Terre Haute Land Company. He died a peaceful death in 1826, in Otter Creek Township.

Read more about Major Abraham Markle here.

Submitted by Dennis Bell - used with permission.
Copyright © 1999 Dennis Bell.


AUGUSTUS R. MARKLE (born Nov. 24, 1869 Bowling Green, Clay County, Indiana died Sept. 3, 1957 Flint, Genesee County, Michigan). Married Lena Elizabeth BLUE March 31, 1894 in Terre Haute, Vigo County, Indiana. He was an historical writer of some repute in Indiana, see his newspaper article from 1931. Augustus R. (sometimes given as Robert but had no middle name, only the intial) was exiled to Kansas by his parents as a teenager, returning to live with his family to Terre Haute. During his sophomore year at the Terre Haute High School in the basement of Old Main, Indiana State Normal School Campus, he and a friend emptied the shot out of an old shotgun shell and he was caught flicking pellets against the slate blackboard to aggravate the teacher. When his parents learned of this, (his mother was a former school teacher) it was decided that he was not interested in the restrictions appended to an academic education and he was sent to Lorenda's relatives near Abilene, Kansas, where he was apprenticed to a blacksmith. Upon returning to Terre Haute he gained employment with the Van Shops, which made undercarriages for railway cars. About 1885 he went to Ohio to learn the electrician’s trade and by 1890 was established in Brazil, Clay County, Indiana, and Terre Haute as the Markle Electric Company. His embarrassing failed first attempt at education caused him to strive all his life to overcome this. He was a member of various literary societies and joined the local historical society the first chance he had. He was writing historical papers by 1911 and delivering them before any organization that expressed a willingness to listen. In 1931 he began a column on local history and genealogy for the Terre Haute Tribune. He worked as a professional genealogist and was a member of the Indiana Chapter of the Sons of Colonial Wars, The Sons of the American Revolution, The Society of Indiana Pioneers, The Indiana Historical Society, The Historical Society of Franklin County Indiana, The Massachusetts Bay Society of New England, and Sons of The War of 1812.

His Wife: Lena Elizabeth BLUE (born Sept. 14, 1866 Aledo, Mercer County, Illinois died 1955 in Flint, Genesee County, Michigan). Buried Bethesda WTH, Vigo County, Indiana. Daughter of Daniel BLUE and Harriet OHL.

Submitted by Dennis Bell - used with permission.
Copyright © 1999 Dennis Bell.


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