Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Story Of David Kilbourn

David Kilbourn had been a citizen of the United States which he remained in until the termination of the Revolutionary War, where upon he went to the upper Canada. While he was residing in that province his attachment to the United States was undiminished. In the year of 1813, David Kilbourn was asked by General Wilkison who was the commander of the army of the northern frontier, if he would secretly examine the British post in Canada. Which he did and upon finding out any good information he would return to post and hand it over to the General with his great satisfaction. A agent of General Wilkinson promised him ample compensation for his service, and indemnity against any loss he might suffer for having taking this service. A agent of the enemy informed on Kilbourn and of his employment with General Wilkinson, and he was apprehended and confined to prison. While there he was treated very harshly and it was purposed putting him to death.

He was able to make his escape, but was soon apprehended again and subjected to the same treatment and another threat of being put to death. The sentence was to be carried out but before the sentence was carried out he made his second escape, and was able stay out of his enemy’s hands. Kilbourn traveled by night and after a few weeks was standing before General Wilkinson at his camp at French Mills, where upon the General renewed to him his former promises and furnished him with money to defray his expenses to Sackett’s Harbor, and recommended him to the quartermaster at that post, who employed Kilbourn in his office. Being in ill health he was obliged to relinquish this situation, since when he has resided in the State of New York, where he is now living under the complicated burdens of old age, infirmity, and indigence; and that since his compulsory abandonment of’ Canada, his property there, which he valued at ten thousand dollars, has been confiscated, and its proceeds paid into the provincial treasury.

This story was told before the House of Representatives in 1830, where upon a petition went before a committee and was passed around and did not pass that session that year. In the petition it was stated that although Mr. Kilbourn had been paid for his services he had not been given compensation for the loss of his property or land as promised by General Wilkinson. Then in 1831, the petition once again was reentered, and again went to committee, and was not heard from again till 1834, where all the evidence was given.

The testimony showed that there had been a law passed in Canada in 1814, that stated that if any one person of Canada or any other nation living in any provinces of Canada and took up arms or did anything against the crown his or her land would be taken and sold. There was a provision in the law however that stated that within one year after the war was over, he or she could go before a legal court of their province or a legal committee of twelve good men, and if their could show proof of their claim they would be given compensation for their loss.

Mr. Kilbourn had been unaware of this law and now the time has passed, but as it was stated in the petition that it was General Wilkinson that give the promise and as he was a representative of the United States Government, his word should be up held by said government. The view of the United States was that he had no legal proof on the value of said property and could not be given compensation on his word along. A committee was formed to take testimony on his claim.

Mr. David Kilbourn, states he possessed five hundred acres of back land as he puts it, and the value at $10, 000, dollars.

Certificate of Major General Brown in relation to David Kithourn.

I knew David Kilbourn well as a settler in Upper Canada before the last war. He had a fine farm situated on. the banks of the St. Lawrence, about eight miles above Ogdensburg.
He always bore a good character, and was considered as a substantial and industrious farmer. During the war he was, to my knowledge, employed on secret service to discover the force of the British at Montreal and at places on the St. Lawrence. In this business he was very faithful and active; and, while living in Canada. as a man of character, he was able to collect much valuable information. On the, expedition down the St. On the, expedition down the St. Lawrence in November, 1813, just before we passed Prescott, Kilbourn came to me and gave me a minute statement of the force and position of the British at Montreal and at other posts, which, as
I had afterwards means of ascertaining, was remarkably faithful and correct.
I knew of Kilbourn’s detection by the British government and of the total ruin which followed this discovery of the services he had rendered to the American army.
HEADQUARTERS, Washington, January 27, 1827

UPPER CANADA, District of Johnstown, County of Leeds:

Henry Jones, of the town of Brockville, township of Elizabethtown, in said county, merchant and postmaster at Brockville, duly sworn, says that he has resided for the last twenty-seven years in Brockville a foresaid, and during that time has been acquainted with the premises described as west half of lot No. 4, and east half of lot No. 5, in the first concession of said township, lying eighty rods in width on the river St. Lawrence, and extending in the rear so as to make two hundred acres of land, crossed by the main road leading from Kingston to Montreal, and being about one and a half mile below the town of Brockville, being the same premises formerly owned and occupied by David Kilbourn, who left Canada during the late war with the United States. At the time said Kilbourn left Canada said premises comprised about one hundred acres or more of improved land, well fenced and under cultivation, the residue woodland; a dwelling-house some twenty-six by thirty-six feet, according to deponent’s judgment, (having never measured the same,) two stories high, finished and painted; a building, he believes, about thirty feet square, used as a stable for horses, and for housing farming utensils, &e.; also a barn, forty feet or more in length. At the time of the late war, or immediately after, said premises, including permanent improvements, were worth, in my judgment, two thousand dollars. They have since increased in value, and, without any increase in the value of the improvements, are now worth, in my judgment, three thousand dollars. The woodland is now worth five pounds, Halifax currency, per acre.
Sworn before me, at Brockvitle, 26th October, 1832.
JAMES MORRIS, Justice of the Peace.

STATE OF NEW YORK, City and County of New York:

Joseph G. Swift, of the city of New York, being duly sworn, saith: That in the year of our Lord 1813, he was attached to the army of the United States, under the command of General Wilkinson, in capacity of chief engineer, and was then and there directed by said General Wilkinson to perform a secret expedition into the province of Upper Canada, for the purpose of ascertaining the strength of the different posts of the enemy, and to procure some suitable person, in whom confidence could be placed, to aid in said expedition; that David Kilbourn was employed by said deponent, in pursuance of said order of said general; that said Kilbourn did undertake said expedition, and performed the services required; that he did make returns of his said expedition to said deponent, and to the satisfaction of Genera’ Wilkinson; that, on the engagement between said deponent and said Kilbourn, deponent informed said Kilbourn that if he should receive any damage in the performance of said expedition, the United States would doubtless remunerate him for his losses. What damage said Kilbourn did sustain deponent does not know, but understood said Kilbourn lost property to some amount by confiscation, and was under the necessity of flying for refuge to the United States. And further the deponent saith not.
In testimony of the foregoing declaration, signed and sworn to in my presence, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my official seal, in the city of New York, this 18th day of January, in the year of our Lord 1827.
E. FISHER, Public Notary.

STATE OF NEW YORK, County of St. Lawrence.

I, Arnold Smith, of said county, do solemnly swear that during the late war
of the United States against Great Britain I was requested by General Swift to employ a person in whom I could confide as a friend to the United States to perform an expedition through the Canada’s. I did so by employing David Kilbourn, who executed his commission to the satisfaction of General Wilkinson, then commanding the United States army on the frontier, for whom it was intended that a promise was made that whoever would run the hazard should be protected, and indemnified should they sustain loss that this promise was made by General Swift to me; that I delivered the commission to one William Wiley, as received from said Swift, who crossed the St. Lawrence for David Kilbourn; that he delivered the same to him; that a discovery of the expedition was made to the British government, and David Kilbourn taken, suffered a course of imprisonment, and effected his escape; that his property was confiscated in Canada to the amount of which to me is unknown, and actually sold for the benefit of that government, and all this in consequence of performing that service; that your deponent is intimately acquainted with David Kilbourn and those circumstances.
Sworn and subscribed before me this 9th day of July, 1827.
SYLVESTER BUTRICK, Justice of the Peace.

Author’s Note. I could not find any record that his petition ever got out of committee.
Also found no record that a Bill was printed and sent before Congress.

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