William Wintermute, (1795-1871) was born in Bertie Township, Ontario and served in the Niagara Light Dragoons during the War of 1812. His father, Peter Wintermute, was a corporal in Mckinnon’s Company, Butler’s Rangers. The Wintermutes made a hasty retreat to Canada with Colonel John Butler after the Wyoming Massacre which was fought in front of their stockade (Fort Wintermoot) in July, 1779. The Union flag which flew over their fort on that fateful day (225 rebels were killed with only slight Ranger losses) was brought back to Niagara and eventually stored in the Butler residence in Newark.
During the American retreat from Newark in 1814, the flag was taken back to the States and today rests in the military museum at West Point. According to some, the burning of Newark to the ground was payback for the Wyoming Massacre. A total of six Wintermute sons served in Butler’ Rangers, one killed in the service, making their family’s manpower contribution one of the largest to this legendary Loyalist fighting force.
Records indicate that during the War of 1812, William Wintermute served in both the First Troop under Captain Alexander Hamilton and in the Second Troop under his brother Lieutenant George Hamilton (who gave his name to Hamilton, Ontario) in Major Thomas Merritt’s militia cavalry. In support of his veteran’s land grant, both Captain Hamilton and Major Thomas Merritt signed off on William’s attestation of service covering June to December 1812 which includes the period of the Dragoons’ battle honours for Queenston Heights. A key element in that victory, was Captain Alexander Hamilton’s installation and gallant defence of a makeshift battery in his parent’s garden overlooking the river at Queenston, stopping the resupply of the invasion in its tracks. As of October 13, 1812 William had not yet celebrated his 18th birthday.
After the war, William was a farmer and a teacher and later in life retired to his comfortable homestead in Humberstone. William was a longtime member of the 3rd Regiment Lincoln Militia and was promoted from Ensign to Lieutenant in 1839, presumably for services rendered in the suppression of the 1838 Rebellion. (An uncorroborated account appearing the Wintermute family history of 1904 written by an American Wintermute, states that William actually apprehended the Rebel leader, William Lyon MacKenzie, during his escape to the States at his home in Humberstone but that William’s wife, Anna Groff of late Loyalist stock, not wishing to see him hang, released him!)
William Wintermute died 24 October 1871 and is buried in the Emmanuel Lutheran Cemetery (formerly Beach’s Burying Ground), Sherkston, Ontario.
Veteran SummaryWilliam Wintermute
Private, Niagara Light Dragoons
Place of Birth
Bertie Township, Welland County, ON, CAN
Place of Death
Humberstone (Port Colbourne), ON, CAN
Died on: 24 OCT 1871
Reason: Likely Old Age
Location of Grave
Emmanuel Lutheran Cemetery (formerly Beach's Burying Ground), Beach Road, Sherkston
Port Colborne, ON, CAN
Latitude: 42.87862N Longitude: -79.129284