War of 1812


This house of Captain John DeCou (the name was variously spelled by his relatives and descendants and latterly as DeCew) was the headquarters of the British Outpost under Lieut James Fitzgibbon to which came Laura Secord through the woods and swamps below the Niagara Escarpment  from Queenston on June 24, 1813 to warn of the American advance thus warned, the small British force with its Indian Allies captured by bold strategy at Beaverdams, the entire force with its commanding officer, Lieut Col. Charles G. Boerstler. That action, "The Fight in the Beech Woods." Was a turning point of the war.

Capt. John DeCou, a Militia Officer since 1809, had been taken prisoner after the capture of Niagara and Ft. George on May 27, 1813.  His wife and children lived here through the war, their home was also a military post and supply point at various times.  Capt. DeCou escaped from captivity in 1814 to serve until the end of the war.  He was present at Lundy's Lane.

Born of English stock in Vermont in 1766, John DeCou came to Upper Canada as a young United Empire Loyalist and became a pioneer farmer, fruit grower and industrialist.  He married Catharine, daughter of Frederick Docksteter of Butler's Rangers in 1798.  They had eleven children.  He died in 1855 at Decewsville in Haldimand, the second community of which he was the founder and which bore his name.

After the war, he restored and developed this property and the area became the Hamlet of DeCew town now DeCew Falls.  He advocated and became a director of the first Welland Canal.  When the route was changed, leaving his mills without water power, he became an opponent of the scheme, because of the diversion of water from his mill, John DeCou sold this place in 1834, the purchaser, David Griffiths and his descendents occupied the house until 1942.  It was then acquired with the surrounding property by the hydroelectric power commission of Ontario for the extension of the DeCew Falls generating station which originally had been created by the diversion to the stream of John DeCou of additional water from the third Welland Canal.  In 1950, while unoccupied, it was destroyed by fire believed to have been incendiary origin.  It was preserved in its present state and this tablet erected in 1952 by the Hydro Electric power commission of Ontario.

Back side of the DeCou House.

Looking to the stonehouse.

This is the house that Laura Secord went to, to inform the British that the Americans were coming.

Laura Secord (née Ingersoll, 13 September 1775 – 17 October 1868) was a Canadian heroine of the War of 1812. She is known for warning British forces of an impending American attack that led to the British victory at the Battle of Beaver Dams.
Her father, Thomas Ingersoll, who had fought on the side of the American revolutionaries during the War, had moved his family to the Niagara region of Upper Canada in 1795 after he had applied for and received a land grant. Shortly after, Laura married United Empire Loyalist James Secord, with whom she had seven children. The family lived in Queenston.
After the outbreak of the War of 1812, Secord's husband was seriously wounded at the Battle of Queenston Heights. While he was still recovering in 1813, the Americans invaded the Niagara peninsula, including Queenston. Secord acquired information about a planned American attack, and stole away on the morning of 23 June to inform Lieutenant James FitzGibbon at DeCew House in the British-controlled territory. The information helped the British and their Mohawk warrior allies win the Battle of Beaver Dams, keeping the invading Americans at bay. Her contribution to the war was forgotten until 1860, when future king Albert Edward, Prince of Walesawarded her with £100 for her service.
The legend of Laura Secord has become of part of Canadian mythology, and many embellished versions of the tale have appeared over the years. She is the namesake of several schools and the Laura Secord chocolate company. She has been repeatedly honoured in her homeland, with several monuments, a museum, and a statue at the Valiants Memorial in the Canadian capital. She has been the subject of books, poetry and plays. A commemorative stamp was issued of her by Canada Post in 1992.   ~Wilipedia