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.


The Serendipity Continues at Woodhull Cemetery

I have written before about the Woodhull Cemetery that my DAR chapter is wanting to preserve and restore.  I’d been having quite a few roadblocks on the town level to getting official approval to make changes to the cemetery.  One would think since it’s abandoned, that this should be a no-brainer.  The town doesn’t really want to shell out funds to maintain it, so you think they’d be jumping at the chance to get rid of it.  Part of that process is getting the deed and land records to prove that nobody currently “officially” owns the land.

My trip to the county clerk’s office to find the deed didn’t go so well.  In fact, I was told my task would take months of research or I could pay a title search company nearly $600 to find it for me, to which I wanted to keel over on the spot.  Determined, I came home and sat down at the computer to look through the old grantor/grantee records.  And don’t you know…

The Woodhulls of Orange County

Last night, I gave a presentation to my DAR chapter on the Woodhulls of Orange County, NY.  Unfortunately, my camera quit recording 13 seconds into my presentation so there is no footage of me giving the actual talk.  I’ve rerecorded it here in an expanded version including more images and additional information that I skipped last night.  So even if you were present last night and saw it in person, I invite you to watch it again because I cover so much more here in the slideshow.  Hope you all enjoy.

The Home of Captain Woodhull – Day 3 Family History Writing Challenge

This is the Woodhull Dairy Farm, which I believe is the mansion that Jesse built. His grandsons had a prominent dairy farm in the mid 1850's.

This is a stereoscopic card of the Woodhull Dairy Farm in Orange County I purchased some time ago. His grandsons owned and operated a prominent dairy farm in the mid 1850’s and even laid fame to the first butter factory. (Click to enlarge.)

Day 3’s prompt for the #30DayFHWChallenge is:  Imagine your ancestor getting the keys to his first house or car. Write a journal entry from his point of view that describes the car/place and his feelings about it. 

Because I love my Woodhull connections and have learned so much about the Orange County Woodhulls that lived here near me, I wanted to write about Captain Ebenezer Woodhull (again) and what his home must have been like compared to that of his brother Colonel Jesse Woodhull.  Jesse’s home was vividly described in a 1920 article as being a “mansion”, which would match his prominence in the county post-Revolutionary War. From my research, Ebenezer seemed to be the opposite of his outspoken and more politically active brother.  He was likely religious – his will is a testament to God giving him everything and blessing him throughout his life. A traveling preacher even recorded a brief stay  there on the captain’s farm during his travels through the county. While he did have some fortune when he died, it paled in comparison to his brother’s wealth. He seems most content with being just a simple farmer and raising his nine children with his wife in the countryside of Blooming Grove/Oxford.  Ebenezer, his wife and many of their children are buried on the same land they lived on in a small family cemetery plot on a back country road.

Journal Entry for May 1766

I have built a small comfortable house in the countryside of Oxford where I will bring my bride soon and I hope Abigail will be happy here.  It’s quite meager, unlike Jesse’s large estate nearby or even that of my ancestral home on Long Island… what need does a farmer have of such an extravagant home?  I think it will be a fine place to raise our children in the future. The house is surrounded by ample pastures for the horses and cattle to roam and there are trees as far as the eye can see, extending all the way to the mountains in the distance.  Farming will be good here in the rich, fertile flat lands and I’m quite sure Abigail will tend a vegetable garden near the house. Murderer’s Creek is nearby where I can fish or even hunt the deer who come from the forest to drink there.  It’s practically perfect here in this part of the country and I pray to the Almighty that we might reside here in peace forever.

~Eben. Woodhull

 

I Added to History Today

DSC_0265Sometimes there are moments that really help solidify who you are, where you’re supposed to be and what you should be doing with your life.  Since moving to New York, I’ve had more of these types of serendipitous moments than ever before and most of those have had to do with genealogy (as in my Woodhull posts) and historical research.  Through those two avenues, I seem to have found the most wonderful, kindred souls right at the exact times I needed them and some even in the strangest, most random of circumstances.  No matter how odd, weird or inconsequential it may have seemed at the time, everything has since fallen into place like it was “meant to be.”

For this story, let me give a bit of backstory.  My DAR patriot was John Wickham and at one point, he was at Fort Montgomery.  On this past 4th of July, I decided after living in New York for 6 years, I’d like to go see the fort and learn more about where he had been stationed.  That, and they were letting off the cannon!