Friday, July 3, 2009
Our Family: Ancestors in the War for Independence
Riddle: What did the cherry bomb say to the firecracker?
Independence Day is the celebration of the birthday of the United States of America. Founded July 4th 1776 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, this is America's 233rd birthday.
The Story of America's Birthday
Independence Day is the national holiday in the USA celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
At the time of the signing the US had 13 colonies under the rule of England's King George III. There was concern in the colonies about taxes paid to England. Called "taxation without representation", the colonists weren't represented in the English Parliament and so had no say. As unrest grew in the colonies, King George sent troops to control rebellion. In 1774 the colonies sent delegates to Philadelphia, PA for the First Continental Congress. The delegates were unhappy with England, but not ready to declare war.
In April 1775, as the King's troops advanced on Concord MA, Paul Revere sounded the alarm "The British are coming, the British are coming" as he rode his horse through the late night streets. The battle of Concord and its "shot heard round the world" marked the unofficial beginning of the war for independence.
The following May the colonies again sent delegates to the Second Continental Congress. For almost a year they tried to work out the differences with England, again without formally declaring war.
By June 1776 their efforts had become hopeless and a committee, headed by Thomas Jefferson and including John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, formed to compose a declaration of independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote and presented it to the Congress on June 28. After some changes a vote was taken on July 4th. To make it official John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence "with a great flourish" so "King George can read that without spectacles!"
The following day copies of the Declaration were distributed. On July 8th the Declaration had its first public reading in Philadelphia's Independence Square. Twice that day it was read to cheering crowds and pealing church bells. Even the bell in Independence Hall was rung. The "Liberty Bell" was named for its inscription - 'Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof '. The signing of the Declaration was not finished until August, but the 4th of July is the official anniversary of our independence. The 1st celebration was the following year, July 4, 1777. By the early 1800s parades, picnics, and fireworks were the way America celebrated its birthday.
The war for US independence lasted 8 years, from April 19, 1775 to April 11, 1783.
Revolutionary War soldiers in Grampy's family
Dudley Pike (1760 - 1838) Buried Norway, ME.
Ebenezer Murch (1737 - 1824) 1st Lt. in Capt. Whitmores's Gorham Co. In 1776, 2nd Lt. under Capt. Ellis of Falmouth. Second in command of a company of soldiers in 1779. Buried Gorham, ME.
George Randall (1733 - bef 1812) Buried Rye, NH.
Nicholas Bray (1752 - 1843) "Mr. Bray was in the war of the Revolution for 7 years, and endured great suffering from exposure and engagements." Buried Harrison, ME.
Obadiah Mann (1738 - 1825) Died Randolph, NH.
Ephraim Cole (1731 MA - 1778 Valley Forge, PA). Private in Capt. Bridghan's Co., Col. Cotton's Regiment, enlisted 1775. Also 1777, Capt. Drew's Co., Col. Bailey's Rgt. Died of "camp fever".
David Marshall (1750 - 1828) Buried Hebron, ME.
Timothy Jordan (1767 - 1849) In Capt. McDonald's Co. At Yorktown when Cornwallis surrendered to Washington. Buried Otisfield, ME.
Mark Frost (1770 - 1835) Enlisted Lebanon, ME. Served as a Private from April 1782 to 24 Dec 1783. Buried Belgrade, ME.
John Foss (1757 - 1819) Corporal in Capt. Parson's Co., Portsmouth NH, 22 Nov 1775. Went to Cambridge, MA and "served until the evacuation of Boston." Buried Rye, NH.
Soldiers in my family, all in New Jersey
John Besson (1750 - 1842) An Ensign, the lowest ranking officer in the infantry, who carried the colors, or ensign, into battle.
Jesse Dalrymple (1756 - 1844) Volunteered in June 1775, age 19. Was a Private, responded to many calls from 1775 to 1780. Served under Col. Bonnell and Gen. Dickinson. In 1834, granted a yearly pension of $23.33. In the application he recalls a march in Feb 1779 to the Raritan River where they lay over for 7 weeks and had a very hard time, it being very cold and the soldiers being infested with lice. On his return home after this layover, his mother wouldn't let him in the house until he changed into clean clothing brought out to him in the barn.
William Bellis, born Johan Wilhelm Bollesfeldt (1740 - 1826)
Roelif Schenck (1752 - 1828)
John Van Doren (1726 - 1815) In 1777 he fought in the war and was taken prisoner by the British. Gen. George Washington and his army stayed on John's New Jersey farm for refreshment and refurbishing. John's house was the scene of some events of the Revolutionary War. Gen. Washington often slept here when passing in or through New Jersey. On this farm the Hessians, after clearing off a large piece of woodland, established a hospital for wounded and sick soldiers. During the war John's wife, Martha (Lott) Van Doren was taken prisoner by British troops. She was hung up by her heels and ordered to give information about American soldiers. The attempt was unsuccessful and she was released, but it is said not until she was black in the face.
"In Mr. Van Doren's meadow, Washington's army encamped one night in the winter of 1777, and the next morning they marched from it on a ruse. At sunrise British scouts on the plains below saw the columns of American militia appearing and reappearing among the trees, and so long did the line seem that it appeared to them as if they must have re-enforced themselves. In truth the head followed the tail of the column around, and only a company or two were there. The rest had retreated toward Morristown, and this covered the retreat, for the British, afraid, retired to New Brunswick. It is one of Washington's famous retreats. During one of the raids the British came to Mr. Van Doren's house, and among other things carried off the teakettle. A granddaughter thought it a shame that her grandmother should be deprived, and so went to her father's house and got another kettle. In a short time the British took this also. The brave girl determined to recover the stolen article, so she went more than a mile after it and got it."— From "Somerset Past and Present" in "Somerset Unionist," 1870.
The Van Doren house was so notable a landmark of the Revolution that a picture of the house and a notice of the quartering of Gen. Washington and staff there in Jan, 1777, after the Battle of Princeton, is given in Stryker's book "Battles of Monmouth and Princeton" p 301. A medallion portrait of Washington, cast in iron, was in the old fireplace of the mansion.
Abraham Van Doren (1750 - 1823) John's son. In the Somerset Co., NJ Militia
On the other side, but still a Revolutionary War soldier
John McDougal (1746 - 1826) Piper Major (bagpiper) of the 74th, who chose to share the future of the loyal Americans he had fought against, by not returning to Scotland. The 74th (Highland) Regiment of Foot, or "Argyle Highlanders" (1777-83) served in Nova Scotia during the American Revolutionary War. Distinguished by its defense of Penobscot against an American Squadron under Commodore Saltanstat. The regiment disbanded at Stirling, Scotland in 1783.
Fort George, at Castine, ME was held by the British, the last fort in the new United States from which the king’s troops were withdrawn. Soldiers of this garrison belonged to the 74th Highlanders. To those who chose to remain in America after being disbanded, lands were allotted in New Brunswick (then still part of Nova Scotia).
Riddle answer: "My pop's bigger than your pop!"