Every family has its traditions handed down from father to son, especially if the family has remained in the same community for several generations or, as sometimes happens, in the same homestead. A favorite tale of my childhood was of this sort; the experience of my great grandfather, Simeon Walker in the War of 1812. This family legend was told to me over and over by my father, and sometimes, by an old neighbor (George Gould) who as a boy, had known my great grandfather as one of the "characters" of the town.
When a youth, Great-grandfather Walker had fought in the War of 1812, as I have said. To this circumstance was due the romance with which, in my childish eyes, he was surrounded. He took part in several engagements, the bloody battle of Chateaugay Woods being one of them. It was during this skirmish, distasterous as it was for the American forces, that he had the following experience.
In the midst of the fight, Simeon Walker chanced to save the life of his commanding officer. He saw an Indian about to shoot down his captain. He was able, however, because of his superior quickness in loading and firing, to shoot first. He killed the Indian and thus saved his officer's life.
The American forces were badly defeated. Those who did not retreat, more truthfully, run away, were compelled to surrender. Among these who surrendered was Simeon Walker. It was after this capture that he came nearer to death than he had been at all during the battle. It happened in this way.
An Indian chief, brother of the one he had killed, recognized him and would have tomahawked him in revenge. A British officer saw the Indian's murderous attack on a defenceless prisoner and interfered just in time. Simeon Walker was sent with other prisoners to Halifax. The Indian followed him all the way, hoping to avenge his brother, but was prevented by the British guard.
The story goes that Simeon perhaps, alone of the captives, was relieved when safely imprisoned on the Halifax fronteer. Here he remained until finally exchanged for a British soldier. He returned to Vermont just in time to take part in the Battle of Plattsburg, not as one of Macdonough's force, but among the Vermont and New York volunteer land force. Here another curious incident occured.
The Vermont militia were building or reparing a bridge; the family traditions are not very definite on this point. My great grand-father, laying aside his rifle in order to help, picked up a plank. Keeping this in front of him to partly cover his body, he carried it forward. In the very few minutes he held it, several bullets struck the plank splintering it in his hands but not touching him.
These two incidents were the ones related and re-related to me. I spoke of his skill in the use of his rifle. This weapon, which he carried during the war and preserved throughout his rather long life, was an old flintlock that he had had made over into a more modern fire-arm. It was the delight of "old Uncle Walker", as he was called in later life, to show off his skill and speed at June training; loading and firing so fast that the eye could hardly follow his motions.
On that one day of the year, at least, he was the hero and idol of the youth of the town. This, to us his great grand-children, historic weapon disappeared after his death which took place about 1871; but there yet remains in the hands of his only living grandchild, William Chester Walker of Cabot, the old powder-horn like those of the Revolutionary times, which Simeon Walker carried throughout the War of 1812.
Written by (Miss) Marion Palmer Walker Northfield, Vermont (10 Main Street) (Home address) Cabot, Vermont (Marion Walker was a high school teacher in Northfield at the time she wrote this - the date probably 1916-1918.)
Simeon Walker born 1786 in Peacham, VT. Married Clarissa Bacon on June 9, 1816 at Peacham, VT. Died at Littleton, NH on June 26, 1867 at home of his son Franklin. His father was Simeon Walker, born 1755. Mother, Mary Minor, born 1761. From: State of Vermont Adjutant General;s office, Montpelier Certification regarding soldier serving in the War of 1812: SIMEON WALKER, resident, Cabot. Served in the War of 1812 and was captured by British troops on June 26, 1813 at Beaver Dams, NY. Discharged August 10, 1813. Ref.: Records of Naval Records and Library, Navy Dept.