Capt. Van Cleve's Historic Homestead
Detroit Free Press: - Messrs. Desmarais Bros., of Windsor, have taken several views in the old town of Sandwich, and among them one of a house that deserves mention. It is one of the landmarks on the river, and was known as the Baby (pronounced Beaubie) homestead. It was built about 1795, and one of the rooms was first occupied as a store by the Northwest Fur Company.
In the spacious hall may yet be seen the large iron hook on which hung the scales of the company where were weighed the furs obtained from one of the Indians, and the beads, clothes and other articles bartered for them. The house is built of timber, filled with brick and clapboarded, the window casings, sash, door, etc., being of solid black walnut. A builder who was lately making some repairs upon it remarked:
"The old house contains enough timber and brick to make contains enough timber and brick to make eight modern houses." During the war of 1812 it was at different times the headquarters of General Breck and General Proctor, and often the tarrying place of the celebrated Indian chief Tecumseh. After the battle of the Thames, Gen. Harrison returned here with Commodore Perry and occupied it as headquarters, bringing with the Col. Baby (pronounced Beaubie), then owner of the house, who was taken prisoner at the battle of the Thames. He was shortly after exchanged, being held in high esteem by the Americans for his uniform kindness to prisoners who fell into his hands. In the grounds are two of the old French pear trees planted by the Jesuit fathers more than a century ago, and yet strong and thrifty.
The place was purchased about two years ago by Capt. James Van Cleve, so many years connected with the navigation of Lake Ontario. The house is situated on the bank of the river and the old "Commodore" can sit up on his broad piazza and watch the constant stream of passing vessels. With his friend Capt. Ericson of New York, he was the introducer of the propeller on the lakes, and it is with great pleasure and satisfaction that he can behold the fleet of immense vessels that are the outcome of the building at Oswego, N.Y., of the little "Vandalia" in 1841.