Becker, Abigail

 Abigail Becker, née Jackson, "The Heroine of Long Point" (b in Frontenac County, UC 14 Mar 1830; d at Walsingham Centre, Ont 21 Mar 1905). After marrying Jeremiah Becker, a hunter and trapper, in 1848 she settled on the S shore of Long Point, a long, narrow peninsula bedeviled by tricky winds and shifting sandbars and stretching out into Lake Erie.

During a vicious storm on 24 Nov 1854, the overloaded schooner Conductor foundered on a nearby sandbar. The captain and crew clung to the frozen rigging all night, not daring to enter the raging surf. Abigail found the men in peril the following morning and, although unable to swim, she waded shoulder-high into the icy water and persuaded the men to swim towards her. The captain and 6 crew members were coaxed ashore; the cook remained lashed to the rigging until he was rescued the following day.

The crew loudly praised Abigail's heroism. She received $350 of a purse of $550 collected from the sailors and merchants of Buffalo, NY; a special gold medal struck by the New York Lifesaving Benevolent Assn; a handwritten letter accompanied by £50 from Queen Victoria; a letter of praise from Gov Gen Lord Aberdeen; and a bronze medal from the Royal Humane Society.

In later incidents she came to the aid of 6 other shipwrecked sailors who had struggled ashore, and she saved the life of a boy who had fallen down a well. A plaque erected in Port Rowan, Ont, 10 Sept 1958 commemorates her heroism, and the Abigail Becker Conservation area takes in part of what was her farm. She raised 17 children, of whom 6 were stepchildren and 2 adopted.