General James Clinton & I

I have said it before that my genealogical journey has always been quite serendipitous in nature.  Good things and wonderful people have just seemed to cross my path time and again.  With it, though, comes a great amount of weird coincidences that I could never have expected or anticipated.  Here is one of those “strange incidences” that happened as of late…

I am a member of the DAR and my patriot is John Wickham.  I’ve written about him before but just to recap for new readers, John was in the French & Indian War and was recruited as a drill sergeant during the American Revolution to teach others how to fight/shoot.  John was from Rhode Island originally, moved to New York when he was 8 (and where he served during the Revolution), and then moved to Ohio after the war, where he applied for a pension right before he died at 101 years old.

I grew up in Ohio, nearly two hours from where John is buried in Noble County but I never knew about John until I moved to New York and my family tree exploded.  Here’s part of where it gets kinda neat – I didn’t just move to New York.  I moved right smack into the thick of where my grandfather served.  My husband is stationed at the United States Military Academy at West Point which is 7 minutes and one left hand turn from Fort Montgomery where my grandfather served before it was taken by the British.  I was able to go to Fort Montgomery and walk the very ground that John did and stand on the same cliff overlooking the Hudson River that he did.  It was surreal, to be sure!

In John’s pension file, he names those captains and generals he served under.  He served under Arnold at Bemis Heights, which is super cool since I have a Woodhull family connection and if you watch the show TURN, you’ll know I’m so excited by that!  Then, I somehow magically forgot who John served under.  It was one of those details that just slipped my mind.  (Probably because I read General Arnold and THAT’S what sticks out.)  I got into the DAR some two years ago and then all those little details just faded into the back of my mind…. until today.

And here’s where it gets kinda funky monkey… a few months ago, my friend Colleen and I cleaned the headstones and monuments of the Clinton plot at Woodlawn Cemetery in New Windsor, NY for the town.  We needed practice for our headstone cleaning business and they needed a nice, clean showpiece for the cemetery since they’d just taken it over in recent months and this would prime the monuments for its grand re-opening this next spring.

You may be wondering by now why this is so awesomely weird for me?  It’s because of whose plot we cleaned – General James Clinton and his family. My grandfather John served under General Clinton at Fort Montgomery before it was taken by the British and it was actually General Clinton that gave him his discharge papers. (Before you history buffs point out there were, in fact, TWO Clinton generals on the American side at Forts Montgomery and Clinton -and there were- John specifically said James Clinton, not George, in his pension papers.)  My grandfather served him and now I have served him in my own way, too.  How round robin is that?  The coincidence is just astounding to me and made those two days polishing and scrubbing those stones even more special and meaningful.

Anyways, I thought perhaps you all might enjoy seeing the pictures of the stones being cleaned.  They were in wretched shape and covered with lichen.  They are flat table-top stones and they are weathering terribly to where some of them are just practically illegible, James’ probably being the worst and then Mary Little Gray, one of his wives.   The stone of James’ sister, Catherine Clinton McClaughry , was so thick with lichen, we didn’t know there was a poem underneath the edges of the stone until it had been cleaned completely off.  It was amazing to see the before and after on these stones and I feel completely honored to have been a part of extending James Clinton’s legacy by caring for his monument properly.  I like to think my grandfather John would have been proud.


Confirming Family Stories

I have written previously about my Archer family many times and I positively love them.  I think everyone has certain families in their tree that they are just fascinated with and the Archers are one of those families that I’m especially drawn to.  As I was teaching my genealogy class at the Moffat Library yesterday, I was showing them how I was able to use the 1870 census data to confirm the tale of how Jesse Archer met Jacob Wickham and later married Jacob’s sister, Nancy Jane. Everyone especially loved this part of class because it shows you how sometimes you get lucky and can actually confirm those family stories you’ve heard about.  The class was recorded so I thought I’d share their cute tale with you.  (Warning: I say ‘um’ a bunch and lose my place!  Sorry!)

Visiting My DAR Patriot

devoll4Aside from the lovely church & cemetery at Archers Ridge that I posted a picture of yesterday, I also went further down the road a bit to Devoll Cemetery, also in Noble County, in search of my DAR patriot, John Wickham. I’d seen the picture & an article about it before but visiting it in person was just important to me. I proudly wear his name on my DAR bar so I felt it was only right to find his resting place to pay proper homage to him.

To recap in case you missed my earlier posts on him and you’re wondering who John Wickham was, he was a soldier in the French & Indian War before being asked to come train militia men during the Revolutionary War.  The DAR acknowledges him as a non-commissioned officer.  John was 99 years old when he applied for his pension before dying at 100 years old, 8 months.  His pension application follows his journey all over New York from Fort Montgomery to the second battle for Saratoga (also known as Bemis Heights) with Generals Gates & Arnold.  He was even sent to spy on British ships in the Hudson River near what is now the Tappan Zee Bridge.  Somewhere around 1818, John and many of his descendants moved from New York to Ohio.  

A Most Lovely Little Country Church

While in Ohio this past week to welcome the birth of my first grand baby, I took a day off to head up to Noble County where a large portion of my maternal line are buried.  Archers Ridge Cemetery is adjacent to the Archers Ridge Church, which I discovered is still in use after peeking through the window and seeing the coming day’s date and sermon on the board near the pulpit.  Much like it’s simple exterior, the inside appeared to be just as unfussy and simple with white pews and dark hardwood floors.  I had to smile thinking about the Archer family of mine buried nearby, who were just modest farmers – they’d be quite a home worshiping here. The day was beautiful with a bright blue cloudless sky and with the slightest breeze blowing, fluttering the American flags on the veteran’s graves in the cemetery.  (Don’t you love the orb?)

Archers Ridge Cemetery

DAR Induction

13256551_10206007133404336_7324882476059906557_nI was officially inducted on Tuesday night into the Quassaick Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  My excitement is only dampened by the fact my eyes are closed in the picture and it was much, much too hot that day to wear my patriotic scarf.  So much for posterity! Oh, the lament!

In any event, I am so very proud to have John Wickham as my ancestor. John was a drill sergeant and served in both the French & Indian War and the Revolutionary War.  I am thrilled to be able to honor him and his contributions to our nation’s cause. He passed along his skills, teaching others how to fight for our freedom and in my book, that is definitely something to be proud of.