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The legends say that both Simcoe and Andre were more than a little flirtatious with the young daughter of the house, Sally Towsend, who's father, Samuel Townsend was a supporter of the rebellious patriots... and not too happy that The King's Men were imposing on him and his home for hospitality... and worse yet, wooing his daughter!

I have heard two variations of the legend after this... One is that Sally fell in love with Andre as he was more fun and spontaneous then the staid Simcoe... The other is that she grew fond of the loyal and ultimately trustworthy Simcoe who was far more "stable" then the slightly wild Andre.

It is, however, a Valentine by Simcoe that does survive and was kept by Sally, so take this as you will. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raynham_Hall_Museum for a copy of the verbiage from the Valentine.)

Either way, according to lore, Sally found a note setting up a meeting between Andre and an American general who was going to turn over vital information about forces at West Point and help with the capture of George Washington... The American General was Benedict Arnold.

Torn between her love (either of Andre or of Simcoe - who could never love her after she betrayed his fellow officer,) and her father (the patriot) she ended up choosing "country over love" and gave the letter to her father.

The meeting between Andre and Arnold was ambushed, Andre was captured and eventually, although not popularly by either side, hung as a spy. (Even Washington himself gave some words to a monument erected in Andre's honour through his letters about Andre... ""He was more unfortunate than criminal." and ""An accomplished man and gallant officer.")

As the war worsened, Simcoe was sent off (eventually to marry Elizabeth and become Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada and really, set the pace and style of the province and country for years to come... even ending slavery in Upper Canada a quarter of a century before Britain and more than half-a-century before America,) and Sally was left alone.

She died a spinster... some say out of regret for the fate of Andre and the loss of her two British paramours.

Raynham Hall is said to contain the sad ghost of Sally Townsend... and also the ghost of Major Andre... with reports going back to the early 20th century. From the sounds of a horse galloping up to the house to strange cold spots to apparitions in the home, the stories and legends are abundant.

This said, although the history of Simcoe and Andre and even Sally and her father are accurate, the other stuff is up to scrutiny... and some genealogists and historians think that the tales of Sally being the source of Andre's capture and eventual execution may be off the mark a bit... as, apparently, although the story is a well known local folktale, the staunchly (and proudly) patriot family wrote or said nothing about her part of this in their journals and diaries... which is a bit unusual as one would assume a proud family would trumpet such a history as a big bragging point... the idea that love of country triumphed over the heart is a big part to many storied patriots everywhere.

So, although not technically an Ontarian or even a Canadian ghost story, Raynham Hall in New York has more than a glancing blow to our history... and is worth thinking about on the Civic Holiday Monday in August....

OF NOTE: If Raynham Hall sounds familiar... and even the "Townsend" name about it... and you're wondering about the famous ghost photo and all, wrong house... sort of.

There is a Raynham Hall in England too... which has been the ancestral home of the Townshend family for three-hundred years. It's where Dorothy Walpole's possible spectre was photographed in one of the paranormals most famed "ghost photos". The connection of England's Hall to the site in New York is based on the grandson of Samuel Townsend, who decided to name the house in 1850 after the ancestral British home in a nod to his extended family.

References:


Image Credit to Wikicommons


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