Saturday, June 20, 2009

revolutionary thoughts...

... have been obsessing my brain for the last couple of days. A couple of days ago I pulled up a couple of Revolutionary War pensions on for brothers to my direct line, Elijah and Charles Stanton. Both, as I am used to for my New England (paternal) ancestry, spent most of their time well away from their homes for months or years at a time.

But then I went chasing after RW pensions for my early New York (maternal) ancestry primarily in the Mohawk Valley around Schenectady and west of there. For the most part these men were in the State Militia and were called up for mere days or weeks at a time and not too far from home so their pensions are full of detailed listings, such as this one from the pension of Frederick Vedder, who was enrolled as First Sgt in Captain Outhout's company (summarized):

  • September 1779 ordered out to Stone Arabia, three weeks

  • October 1779 marched to Caghnawaga, three weeks

  • 22 May 1780 ordered to Caghnawaga "at the time the family of the Fishers were murdered" for another three weeks

  • 1780 to Fort Hunter for two weeks

  • 1780 "when Canajoharie was destroyed he was at that place to repel the enemy on an expedition of two weeks"

  • 1780 marched to the Fort Clyde, two weeks

  • Oct 1780 an expedition to Ballston, 8 days

  • 1781 stationed at Claus Vielies Pass or the Rifts about four miles west of the City of Schenectady from 1 Aug to 1 Nov, 3 months

  • 1781 summer, expedition to Beaver Dam in pursuit of Tories, 3 days

  • and undated, an expedition from Schenectady to Currysbush

Other pensions for men from this general area are much the same in that they have lengthy lists of assorted short expeditions within the area. What caught my attention though was that not only were these men from my families but the places they fought or protected were also the homes of ancestors, siblings or cousins of my lines.

The Mohawk Valley area of New York State was not a good place to be during the Revolutionary War. Some of those still living there were hidden enemies, Tories who had not declared themselves and left. The area was subject to raids out of Canada by the British and the Indians, often aided by these hidden enemies.

Vedder refers to the murders of the Fisher family, or Visscher family. These are more cousins of my family, there at Caughnawaga (multiple spelling variations on that place!!), the place was later called Fonda, the home of many of my blood.

Not that there weren't other areas of the country equally terrifying but I visualize all these homes and farms and ordinary everyday people living with the possibly of war in their front yard everyday for several years. When you hear someone come up the road, are they friend or enemy or an enemy posing as friend? The sounds in the night are they just the wind or the dog on the porch or are they coming to burn the house down?

Do you ever place your ancestors in history like this? In what I call small history, not the major battles and events but the little stuff?

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