The Military Find

The Preston family legacy of service to country started from my point of view, with that of Old Isaac Preston. He served five years in the 23rd Light Dragoons, 1797 – 1802, under the famous Major, that story that passed down through generations. That also left his descendants with the expectation of serving one’s country in the military, in government and in community.

The Preston family stories had Isaac serving in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, as a cavalryman. His rank unsure. In commissioning a search of British Military Records from Kew London, in 2013, all Isaac’s pay records were photographed and emailed back to me. Isaac was a private for all five years. However the name that jumped off the page was Edward Pakenham. In researching him, I discovered: he was 1 year younger than Isaac, went to school 5 miles from Isaac, rose to become general, was a hero in the Peninsular Wars, (1807-1814), lead the British forces at the Battle of New Orleans against Andrew Jackson (died there) and was the Duke of Wellington’s brother-in-law. As capable as a leader, he was also as Jane Austen would put it, “very dashing.” He was well respected by his troop as being courageous, fair, honest and of good spirits. Attached is the pay register of the 23rd’s from September 1798, when they fought a number of significant battles against a French army and Irish rebels. This is the troop in the opening scene of my book “Loyalty”. Pakenham’s name and signature is at the top. (Check the pay levels – Isaac is #38). Also is a painting of Pakenham himself, as general.

I wish my grandfather had this information to add to his knowledge of the story.

FYI – Isaac’s monthly pay was 1 pound, 15 shillings and 6 pence. Pakenham’s – 28 pounds, 17 shillings, 6 pence.

Pakenham 3


Payroll 1

payroll 2


The Farm House

1967 house

The original Preston home was built in the late 1840’s along Lansdowne Street, just west of Peterborough. (Lot 3 Concession 12, North Monaghan Township). The original front rectangle was a three deep brick structure with lathe and plaster interior. There was no insulation. (I recall as a boy staying over at Christmas and feeling thick frost on the interior walls of the bedroom!). The original house was heated by two fireplaces, then by wood stoves, the pipes extending up through the upper bedrooms, radiating a “little” heat.

The first floor rooms in the 1930’s were: kitchen, den, parlour and spare bedroom.

Original house plan 1925

Later, a brick addition was added to the back of the house, creating a “T” shape. This allowed for the hired man’s bedroom above the summer kitchen. My recollection of the summer kitchen was a large airy open area, with breezes wafting through the two screened doors. Inside the pantry was a hand operated well pump, for water. A deep well, it was cold, always.

My grandfather added the front porch and sun room seen above in the 1967 photo.

Centered in the summer kitchen was a four burner, enameled wood stove.

wood stove

Past the summer kitchen was the “Back Kitchen” which in my childhood was storage. But, dominating was the thick walled ice box.


The wood shed was stacked inside were firewood logs and splits, maple, apple, spruce. Although the outhouse was closed for “business” when I was little, the shack was still standing. Cold behinds and Eaton’s catalogs.

Typical hand operated well pump


My grandfather was an eco-pioneer in my opinion. To the west, he planted a row of spruce trees which acted as a wind break to reduce wind cooling and provide shade. To the south, he planted a red maple, which shaped the house in summer, but allowed the sun to warm the second floor glassed-in “sun room”. (The old wicker chairs we lounged in as kids now are at our cottage.)

The basement floor was rough cement – always cool in summer. (Previous to 1925, it would have been earthen). Also in the basement was a water cistern, which captured the rainwater from the eaves troughs. (For laundry). It acted as a heat sink.  With the windows open and the basement and upper stair door open, cool air would be pulled up from the basement, cooling the house. (Cool being relative).

The back kitchen, wood shed and garage and machine shed were housed in one long plank building.

In the 1960’s the hired man’s quarters, up the narrow stairs, above the summer kitchen was a treasure trove of old items, furniture, games, pictures and my favourite – my grandfather’s cornet. (See previous posting of Orangemen).