February 12, 2010

About this Pirate Bill Johnston Blog

Bill Johnston was the most colorful character alive in the 19th century in the Thousand Islands region. He fought in the War of 1812 for the US, sided with the Canadian rebels in 1838, smuggled successfully for decades, and created newspaper headlines wherever he went. The British government spent millions trying to capture him or to defend against him. In his day, he was as infamous as Osama bin Laden (though not as deadly or ruthless).

I am one of the small fraternity of people who research the life of William "Pirate Bill" Johnston. Over time, this site I have summarized as much biographical and supporting info as I can find on Bill Johnston and his family. (More info can be found in my published biography of Johnston.)

While much is known about Johnston, mysteries remain to be solved. You can find these under the Mysteries topic category. If any readers can solve a mystery or provide clues, please let me know.

Bill Johnston is also the central biographical character of my historical novels, Counter Currents and Islands of Love and War.

Though much is written elsewhere about Bill Johnston, some is incomplete and much is wrong. This site relies on primary and secondary sources for info, and only the best tertiary historical sources, to bring you Bill Johnston's life story free of political slander and fanciful illusions.

This site is a companion site to Raiders and Rebels. That site includes stories on Johnston as well as his contemporaries. The Pirate Bill Johnston site acts as a repository for all Bill Johnston posts from Raiders and Rebels plus information not posted there.

All material is under Copyright. This site is an online publication of Raiders and Rebels Press, a registered operating name of Businesstek Publishing Inc.

This blog does not set cookies or collect user data. Since the Blogger platform is a Google product, Google may collect data and use Google Analytics and AdSense cookies. That is out of my control.

February 4, 2010

Bill Johnston: 4. Battles the British in 1814

In the summer of 1814, the third year of war between the US and colonial Canada, Bill Johnston narrowly avoided capture and probable execution. While spying for America in Canadian waters, a sudden storm smashed his gig on the rocks east of Kingston. Someone alerted the British and soon a detachment of redcoats and Mohawks gave chase. Bill told his men to surrender and claim they were looking for American deserters. Being regulars in the navy, he knew they’d be treated decently as prisoners of war. He had to run though, because he believed he’d be summarily executed if caught.

Bill Johnston: 3. War on the British in 1813

 That old adage "from the frying pan into the fire" sums up Bill Johnston's flight to the US. The War of 1812 seemed to follow him. The British invaded Sackets Harbor on May 28, 1813, just days after Bill settled his family there.

Bill Johnston: 2. Declares Personal War on Britain

The United States declared war on Britain in June of 1812 and attacked her colonies in Canada. Naval and land battles soon raged along the border. With Canada's military significantly outnumbered, the war threw Kingston—Upper Canada's military center—into a patriotic and jingoistic frenzy. That did not fit well with Bill Johnston's independent spirit.

Bill Johnston: 1. A Pirate's Roots

Bill Johnston (February 1, 1782-February 17, 1870)—whose scallywag and scofflaw ways in later years came to the attention of Queen Victoria and several US presidents—spent 30 years as a loyal British subject. Then, all Hell broke loose.