August 12, 2012

Bill Johnston: Common Historical Mistakes

The history of every legendary figure includes tall tales, deliberate embellishments, and apocrypha. Bill Johnston, the nineteenth-century, Thousand Islands folk hero is no exception. Commercial interests, journalistic excess, historical mistakes, and political propaganda have all contributed to myth and mis-fact. This post aims to correct the commonest errors.

August 10, 2012

Ada Burleigh Aids Bill Johnston in Hiding

The legend of Bill Johnston includes a cast of interesting supporting characters. In 1838, while Bill hid in the Thousand Islands from two armies searching for him, his niece Ada spent the summer aiding her family in a time of trouble. She consoled her aunt Ann Johnston and often helped her cousin Kate Johnston run supplies to the family fugitive.

January 1, 2012

Bill Johnston: 15. No Prison Can Hold Him

After Bill Johnston skipped bail in mid-April 1839, he returned to the Thousand Islands. As they had in the summer of 1838, the Canadian and US military launched joint patrols to find him.

October 12, 2011

Where Are Bill's Portraits

After Bill Johnston's arrest in November 1838, authorities held him for trial in Auburn, New York. During his brief stay, Randall Palmer (1807-1845), a locally famous artist, offered to paint Bill's portrait. That Palmer usually painted high society figures, must have impressed Johnston. He agreed.