March 8, 2013. Moving on with the pensions. I am now typing in the letter R, and there are about 5,700 of them done. I am trying to maintain the pace of doing 3 per day, 1200 per year. Hopefully I will be done in under 2 years with this work. Then we plan to visit the surrounding states to see which of those men served in New York State during the Revolutionary War.
Charlotte County, Traitors, Ethan Allen, Vermont?
So many nagging hints about our past seem to crop up in history! What on earth is Charlotte County? Where these people traitors? Where did Vermont come from? Wasn’t Vermont one of the original colonies?
Sometimes heroes don’t always ride over the hill on a white horse and sometimes they don’t look like heroes at all. At times it is hard to figure out who is the hero and who is the villain, especially since 230 years or so have passed.
New York State didn’t always have a tidy eastern bounty that went north and south; at one point the eastern side of the state had an interesting bulge, it was called Charlotte County. Before the breakout of the Revolutionary War, while the state was still a province in the British American Colonies on March 24, 1772, Charlotte County was created from Albany County. The name Charlotte was for Charlotte, oldest daughter and fourth child of King George III, United Kingdom.
The area described for the new county is that the western boundary will be “from the Mohawk River to the Canada line, at a point near the old village of St. Regis and passing south to the Mohawk between Schenectady and Albany.” The southern boundary was near present day Saratoga Springs, and much of the western part of present Vermont was then considered a part of New York State. Its northern boundary was the Canadian border with the country seat for the newly formed county being Fort Edward.
The existence of this county however was short lived. On April 2, 1784, the New York State legislature voted to change the name of Charlotte County to Washington County in honor of General George Washington. This was not an unusual decision; Tryon County was also a reminder of the British rule and at the same time Tryon was re-named Montgomery County. Once Montgomery County was a huge county, but it was partitioned and reduced until today it is one of the smaller counties in New York State.
That’s the short version of the formation of the counties, the real story is much more involved and it involves the man once considered a hero of the revolution, Ethan Allen. Has history clouded his memory and muddied the facts?
Ethan Allen, born in 1738, was the oldest of seven children and his father Joseph intended his oldest son to be a scholar, to attend Yale University, but he died in 1755 and Ethan took over the management of the family landholdings and business.
The arguing over territory and rights began in the 1760s, it escalated and over the next few years until about the time of the revolution, continued to deteriorate with name calling and threats between the Provincial New York Governor Tryon and the Boys.
Some things involved bloodshed and property damage; the disputes over the various overlapping land grants were a big source of distention; the surveyors were driven off, the landowners in the questioned territory saw their buildings burned, and there seemed to be no resolution to the problems. By 1774, the harsh treatment of settlers by Allen and his Boys prompted Governor [Bloody Billy] Tryon to put out rewards of £100.
When the Revolutionary War broke out, Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys captured the United Colonies attention when he and his boys captured Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775. They also attempted to conquer Montreal, in September 1775, but failed and in the fight, Allen was captured. He was kept prisoner for 3 years, first in Pendennis Castle in Cornwall England, and eventually he was put on board one of the lethal prison ships anchored in New York Harbor. In 1778 he was set free in a prisoner exchange.
The final insult to Ethan Allen was that he lost command of the Regiment of Green Mountain Boys due to Allen’s continual pouting, egotistical attitude, and his posturing. Not just that but he was seen as reckless in his attacks upon Ticonderoga and St. John’s. Certainly this was not showing leadership qualities. Seth Warner, a cousin of Ethan Allen, was elected by the New York’s Provincial Congress as leader of the regiment. Allen accompanied the regiment as a civilian scout.
On a personal note it was said that Ethan Allen made it his business to be absent from his home as much as possible where he could avoid his wife’s nagging. His wife Mary was rigidly religious, prone to criticizing Ethan and died of consumption in 1783.
In 1784, he married a young widow, Frances or Fanny, a woman it was said who had a big spending habit; however this marriage was reputed to be a happy one and had “a settling effect on Ethan”.
While Ethan Allen was out of the political arena, in 1777, a convention of future Vermonters declared their independence from Great Britain and NEW YORK STATE. At first the area was called New Connecticut but settled on the name Vermont which was a mangled translation of the French word for green mountain. The issue was not just about the name, it was a declaration of independence and prohibited slavery with the right to vote extended to all adult males, not just land owners.
Governor George Clinton, who was New York State’s first governor, refused to acknowledge Vermont as a separate state and so did the Congress of the United States. Clinton was for independence for New York State, for the nation, but certainly not for Vermont.
After his release from prison, Ethan Allen joined the political furor and was active. He appeared before the Continental Congress to plea for the separation with New York, and recognition of the new state of Vermont. Due to Vermont’s expansion, the claim of disputed territory included border towns from New Hampshire.
The meetings with Frederick Haldiman, Governor of Quebec over several years, were supposedly about prisoner exchanges, but secretly Allen was consulting the enemy of the United States about Vermont becoming a new British province with military protection for its residents. Once these details were known, Ethan Allen and his supporters were publically called traitors.
Vermont was without a home, so to speak, and petitioned Great Britain to admit their territory to the empire as part of Canada. In 1777, Vermonters had formally declared their independence from Great Britain and the newly declared United States and declared they were from the Republic of Vermont. After the war, the new republic could not join the new nation as a state because New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut all claimed the territory as their own. This made the frustrated Republic of Vermont carry their grudge so far as to negotiate with the Canadian Governor, Frederick Haldimand and consider joining the British Empire. This went on for some time, even two years after George Washington became the first president of the United States. Finally Vermont was admitted to the new nation as the 14th state in the year 1791 as a counterbalance to the slave state of Kentucky.
On February 11, 1789, Allen went to South Hero, Vermont to visit his cousin and to collect some hay. He spent the evening with friends and family, and in the morning set off for home. On the way home he suffered what was then called an apoplectic fit and lost consciousness. He died at age 51, at home several hours later without regaining consciousness. He died February 12, 1789, at his farm along the Winooski River in the independent Republic of Vermont.
Ethan Allen was known as a colonel but the title was bereted, he was awarded colonel in the Continental Army in “reward of his fortitude, firmness and zeal in the cause of his country, manifested during his long and cruel captivity, as well as on former occasions” and given military pay of $75 per month. The brevet rank gave him no active role and the pay was stopped eventually. FROM: Boatner, Mark M. 1966, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution pg. 17-18.
The title brevet first occurred during the Revolutionary War and was a warrant authorizing commissioned officers to hold a higher rank temporarily but usually without receiving the pay of that higher rank except when actually serving in the role. This was most often used when suitable commission could not be found for foreign officers, mostly from France who sought commissions. By the end of the war, 35 men of foreign birth would hold brevet commission in the army and by 1784 50 officers would receive brevets for “meritorious services” during the conflict.
Ethan Allen authored two books, one concerning his war experiences: A Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen’s Captivity (1779) and the second concerned his religious beliefs, Reason the Only Oracle of Man, or Compendious System of Natural Religion. The first was popular, the second was perceived as an attack on religion. More specifically it was an attack on Christianity, the Bible, Churches, Priests, and it was a personal and financial disaster. In typical Allen fashion, he said that most of the critics were clergymen and he was attacking their way to earn a living.
Before his death he began work on An Essay On The Universal Plenitude of Being, which was intended to be a continuation to Reason. In this work he affirmed the perfection of God and his creation as well as saying reason was a way to bring man close to the universe. This was the start of the interest in Transcendentalism with man acting as a free agent in the natural world, and it was published after his death.
Ethan Allen was a complex man to be sure, an enigma, a paradox. True he was an egotistical sort of man; he seemed reckless, at times deserving respect, a scholar, a politician, a woodsman, land speculator, hero, farmer, and a hothead. Overall, he was interesting. Ethan Allen was born January 21, 1738 in Litchfield, Connecticut Colony and died February 12, 1789 in Burlington, Vermont Republic. In between those two dates he did a lot of living, was twice married and fathered eight children.July 10, 2012. Can you imagine? This is about pain. A friend is facing hip replacement surgery, another friend is having carotid artery surgery, my son-in-law is facing serious back surgery in Texas, and I think I might be facing shoulder surgery. As I mumbled these past few months about the steady and unrelenting pain, I began to think that so many of our painful problems are very fixable now. Not just fixable, but the surgery for most of the above problems is common and the hospital stays very short.
This is not about us, but about the lives of people back then . . . over 200 years ago. Most of what we have wrong can be helped and it is a real miracle, but back several hundred years ago most of those people had to have been in terrible and unrelenting pain. Just in my lifetime, two areas that once were no, no’s, the brain and heart, are now able to be fixed or can be helped.
When my friend was telling me about her pending hip surgery, I thought about my great-grandmother who broke her hip somewhere about January1936, just before I was born. It happened during the winter of 1936 when it showed for one month straight and the temperature hovered around zero. The roads were closed and some stayed closed for that month and she lived on a farm with my grandparents. There was nothing to be done, and the family worried about how to get her out of the house if she died because the snow was piled up over the top of the house. My aunt told me she went to the barn and still she could hear her grandmothers screams from there. It was May when gangrene took her life and her pain stopped.
The carotid artery surgery requires a hospital say of 26 hours. The surgeon will create a bypass, remove the plugged artery and clean it out, then put it back and remove the bypass. A miracle!
My son in law is having back surgery which will be done by laser and I think will clean out the built up arthritis and then the discs which are protruding between his vertebrae. The technique is new and we pray will be helpful. This poor man has been living on heavy pain killers and two cortical stimulators in his back. He will fly to Texas and be home in about 5 days. Another miracle!
The list is very long for the medications which we use commonly which have let us lead normal lives. In just the past 20 years, great strides have been made in the medical field and it makes me wonder what next will come to us. I can’t imagine!
On another subject: There are about 4,800 pensions on the pension site now and I am well past the half way mark with that project. Check out the new pension site: http://revwarny.com.
April 2, 2012. It seems there are several books in the works. All of them are in the hands of the proof readers and as soon as possible, perhaps soon, they will be released. Those books are: Don't Shoot Part Five, The Opie Series (In The Beginning, The Leaving, Tar Camps). I hadn't kept count of the books thus far. Since Christmas 2005, this has been very consuming and most of the books were written while I was working out of the house and earning my living. It is my hope that people will read them and understand the situation, the life people led long ago. It was a different time and hard for us to relate to from this place in time.
I am very pleased with the prices and service of Create Space, which is part of Amazon.com. I used to publish through Trafford and at a price that had two more zeros on it. With Create Space, the price is amazing and the service as well. I can ask for a call from either Amazon or Create Space and with a few seconds, they are on the line. It doesn't take 3 weeks to get an order either! This is amazing!
January 6, 2012. Can you imagine the smell of it!
This past week I was treated to some food poisoning and as I shook with chills, held my belly, groaned and gushed, I thought back to what it probably was like . . . back then. Food preservation was not easy and no doubt probably there were many sufferers of food poisoning, and some fatal. There were no automatic washers to quickly clean up messes, no indoor plumbing; nothing. If one was lucky, there was a basin of some sort to use. A common "cure" for many maladies was to give a "physic" to cleanse one out. True, it was no doubt good for getting the mind off the other problem and kept a person busy. Sick as I was, I was at the same time grateful for our modern conveniences, but then they knew no other world. What will it be like here in another 50 or so years?
Our world is changing rapidly and it is hard to keep up. When my network guru was here this past week, I grumbled that I can't keep up with technology any longer and he replied, "Who can?" Indeed. It's not just in one field, but everywhere. My car does everything but get me up in the morning and brush my teeth. Then there is the subject of the good old GP, the local doctor. They are fast going the way of the dinosaur; my doctor is stopping private practice very soon. Instead there will be a Physician's Assistant, or is it a Nurse Practitioner?
What a sweeping change in my lifetime, so many untouchables such as the heart and brain are routinely operated upon with success. Now my blood is drawn and I am presented with a series of numbers, new ones each time, to watch. I guess anyone, just about, can read those numbers and then refer me to a specialist. With those doctors, usually, they want you back in a few months even though they found nothing wrong. I announced to one specialist that I do NOT plan to spend the rest of my life in a doctor's waiting room, and left. Then I drew up a new Health Care Proxy. Somehow we have taken away the right to die in a dignified fashion and then not before we are recessitated a few times. It might all look differently to me once I am presented with a critical illness, time will tell. Maybe I will have to eat crow, won't be the first time.
September 11, 2011. Ah, Those Letters: S, W, & R.
The pensions sport several letters and they all mean something.
Sometimes a man’s service ended up having several pension numbers. Generally the “S” meant survivor, either the veteran or his children. “W” meant widow. “R” meant rejected. The last decision on the pension bore the most recent determination. Don’t take the “R” to be always rejected. It can be the veteran collected his benefits but perhaps his wife or posterity did not; therefore earning the letter “R”. With the women their application usually got hung up on lack of proof of marriage. Churches were burned, witnesses died, houses burned, etc.
A local person commented that the men lost their pensions or were denied pensions “because they lied”. That is rather a subjective phrase. Were they deliberately lying or forgetful after the long span of years?
All of them were trying to qualify for a pension and might have stretched a scouting expedition from 3 days to 3 weeks. That one lie didn’t disqualify the soldier but he had to still have evidence, proof, that he served the 6 months to qualify for a pension; this meant documentary evidence such as a written discharge or witnesses who served with him. This did not mean a relative who saw him with the militia, but someone who had very personal eye witness knowledge of the service. This could be a brother or other relative.
Some were disqualified because they had a deposition done by a Justice of the Peace and the law clearly states that the initial soldier’s deposition had to be done by a court of record which meant a court with a clerk and a seal.
These restrictions sometimes kept a man from getting his just due. Consider the man who moved into the new territories and didn’t have any of his companions, those who served with him, in the area and were not available for testimony.
Certainly some lied and in a spectacular way. Therein lie some wonderful tales. One man, Thomas Machin Jr. fudged his mother’s death, had a few people back up his lie, and collected a huge settlement which he was not entitled to receiving. If you feel you must do this, DO NOT TELL YOUR NEIGHBOR! The neighbor tattled on him to the War Office. Another man used the name of a legitimate soldier and of course was denied pension. Another man swore he was a good an loyal soldier, he was for a year and then he became a Tory and served in Canada. In fact he was receiving a pension from both countries. DO NOT TELL YOUR NEIGHBOR! This man was reported to the War Office as well.
August 23, 2011.
A lot of people with differing interests try to drag me into their foray, but I have my own interests and commitments. Mostly at the top of the list are transcribing the pensions of the men who served in the Revolutionary War. Probably there are about 10,000 or more pension applications and I have under 4,000 done. I have to keep my eyes on that subject in spite of other things people want me to take an interest in; such as land ownership and where various forts were located. To educate myself in this field would take a lot of time and I am unwilling to take that time. My interest is on the people of that time, how they survived and what they did to survive. Life was very cruel.
One man of interest is Colonel VanSchaick, Goose VanSchaick. From what I read in the pensions, he was a capable commander and respected, but I gathered from my reading that he suffered from an old war wound and that caused his death eventually. When a man reached the level of a higher officer, usually a graphic of him would appear in the records, but I couldn't find one of VanSchaick so I asked Jim Morrison about this oddity. He told me that there was no image that he could find of the colonel perhaps because of a disfigurement, and then he went on to explain that during the French and Indian War, or the Seven Year's War, he was shot and it caused a bad disfigurement.
"He was shot, here", Jim said and pointed to his cheek. "It never healed."
I did a search and found some information. http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/albany/bios/vs/gvs.html
In 1756, the twenty-year-old was appointed a lieutenant in the expedition against Crown Point. In 1758, he was promoted to captain and took part in the actions against Fort Frontenac and Fort Niagara. He was appointed major of a New York regiment in 1759. In 1762, he became lieutenant-colonel of the First New York Regiment. In the assault on Ticonderoga in 1758, he had received a severe wound on the cheek from a French musket ball that left him with an infection that marred his appearance, turned malignant, and from which he ultimately died. His major wartime contribution came in military service where he served the American cause throughout the conflict. Near the end of the war, he made a number of trips to Philadelphia for surgery on his old war wound or, as his son wrote, "to have the cancer cut out of his face." By mid-1783, he had returned home to Albany. He filed a will in November 1788 noting that he was in "a declining state of health." It named his wife and children and parceled out his Albany real estate and other property as well. Goose Van Schaick died at home on July 4, 1789 at the age of fifty-three. His biographer fixed the cause of death as "the cancer in his face." His will passed probate a year later.
I also asked Jim what else he knew about the man in addition to his wound.
With a chuckle he said, "In the war, any Continental officer when fighting with the militia would take over the command, even a continental ensign would be the commander over the militia officer EXCEPT in the case of a brigadier general. In that case, the brigadier general from the militia would take command. You should see the letters that VanSchaick wrote to the Governor Clinton about having to fight under Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer. He did NOT want to have to serve under Herkimer."
George Clinton became the first Governor of New York State in 1777, and that was the year the battle of Oriskany was fought.
July 25, 2011.
The roof fell in for me, June 30. My partner Mike had a stroke, at least the doctor thinks it was. It sure looked like it to me. Just when you thing things can't get worse, they generally do. He is recovering well, but we don't know if he will ever be able to drive again.
I am writing another book with Hope in the forefront, about half done with it. This is in the counting series. I am transcribing pensions too, and happily working in my flower gardens. In this climate one must do that when one can.
June 22, 2011. Those Romance Novels.
Never mistake those “historical” romance novels with fact. Sad to say but many people do this and they are sadly led astray. Probably it comes along with the fallacy that “I read it, or I saw it on TV and that makes it so”.
I called one author on her idea of “those snug log cabins”, now here is another satisfying lie. Satisfying to the author and reader, but very wrong.
Here we go; scented undies, daily baths, clean clothes, delightful smell. All are incorrect!
Most romance authors talk about the vanilla or cinnamon scented ladies and how unusually clean they were while describing the man removing their delicate undies with lace and so forth. Most times the ladies lived in beautiful castles. Hold it! The method for relieving themselves was to simply go in the castle, usually a hall way or stairway, the major relief was done over chutes that drained into the moat around the castle. This was stagnant water and very smelly with all the excrement going into the water. Phew!
As far as undies, most didn’t wear any and if they did, there was a huge slit in them so as to make sure it didn’t get wet.
Now to the American version of romance and love; at least the version which would live in a “cute little log cabin”. In the early days, many cabins had wide enough cracks between the logs that one person mentioned he got bit by a wolf who put his muzzle between the logs and bit him. Some cabins were not high enough for a person to stand up straight, and they contained a table and a bed. There were no chairs because the people were outside working most of the day, they stood to eat and all slept in the same bed. They ate with their fingers out of a common trencher, a hollowed out piece of wood.
With only one set of clothing, they stank, bad. Most didn’t have underwear to bother taking off for any romantic encounter.
The good news is that they probably didn’t smell each other. Perhaps you have noticed that phenomena? Your perfume or after shave ceases to sell, that means you have gotten used to it and discard it as different or new.
Teeth? All of them lost teeth, they got rotten and then they were removed in one fashion or another. Can you imagine the pain from their teeth; abscesses and cavities? Better believe with no tooth brushes, the breath smelled from rotting food and so forth.
Fragrant soap? Doubtful, the soap was made at home from lye and animal fats. The lye came from animal fats, it was harsh and didn’t smell very good and it was very harsh on the skin. No doubt the upper class had finer soaps, but the frontier women didn’t have much time for such. They did a huge amount of work each day, this was just to stay alive.
June 7, 2011. Life was miserable and uncomfortable in the early years in our country. There are stories about water freezing next to the fireplace at Johnson Hall. Fireplaces were in every room and so was a leaking house full of air drafts. Those people did what they could, closed shutters and shut off rooms. When the shutters closed, there wasn’t much light to see, so some windows had to be left unshuttered. One side of you was warm, even hot, while the opposing side was shivering.
To catch the warmth of the fireplace, often blankets were draped around the area or many had chairs with high backs and side sides to capture the heat. It was a miserable existence.
Not many of us have heard about chilblains, it was a common malady at one time. It is a form of acral ulcers, or ulcers affecting the extremities. This is caused by prolong exposure to cold and humidity which damages the capillary beds in the skin and causes redness, itching, blisters, inflammation, and then ulcers. Nothing helps but warm weather but once cold weather returned, the sufferer once more had the problem.
Chilblains is a connective tissue disorder. Others are Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome. It’s a serious disease and one that brings a lot of pain and suffering to the victim.
June 4, 2011. This morning I caught a blip on TV about the people addicted to drugs. What if this was a long standing problem, one that started almost at the beginning of time and it was accepted as part of a normal life?
In the early years, it was difficult to distinguish between a surgeon, barber or physician. All practiced medicine of some sort. The prevailing theory was that the body contained four “humors” which are blood (fire), phlegm (earth) and blackbile (water) and yellow bile (air). It was the physician’s job to maintain a balance between these four humors. A cold was considered a phlegm and the doctor used hot medicines to treat it such as a diet of pepper. Each person was determined to have a dominate humor which made treating a patient much simpler.
The therapies used commonly were bleeding, purging (enema or emetic, blistering, and poisoning. The popular poisoning was Calomel which was a form of mercury. To remove a piece of the body, you called a surgeon or a barber. Blood letting was an acceptable treatment for most anything. Poor George Washington had so much blood letting his last day of life, he probably died from having 5-7 pints of blood removed from his body.
It has been said many times that the lucky patient was one who could not afford medical treatment, in which case the patient’s doctor was the lady of the house. A favorite drug was laudanum, effective for treating colic in babies, giving a cheap drunk to the poor, relieving menstrual cramps, pain in childbirth, pain diarrhea, coughing, cholera, most anything. Laudanum or opium was the drug of choice, because it was readily obtainable, highly addictive and widely used. In addition it was mixed with everything known to man just about; mercury, hashish, cayenne pepper, belladonna, whiskey, wine, and brandy, and used in treating the very young and very old and those in between. The mixture was spoon fed to babies because it quieted them down. Many people became an addict including Mary Tood Lincoln, wife of President Lincoln. Laudanum was cheaper than a bottle of gin or wine and not taxed as were alcoholic beverages.
Keep in mind that about the only thing new to this time are the methods of transportation and communication. People appear to be the same now as they were back then.
May 24, 2011. Eating and Wiping.
Strange topic you might say, but they are related. With no dishes or tableware, people often ate from a common trencher with their hands. A trencher in most cases was for the whole family, the little better off people used individual trenchers. If you wish to view this unusual thing called trencher, visit the Mabee Farm in Rotterdam Junction. That family never threw anything away! The trencher could be a piece of hollowed out wood or hollowed out stale bread.
It was important to keep the right hand somewhat clean, that is the hand traditionally people ate with. In the Arab countries, you just don’t find a left handed person, if you were caught eating with your left hand the penalty was swift and severe. You could have your offending hand cut off. That is how thieves were punished, his right hand was cut off so he had to eat with his left one. This meant that most times the thief starved to death and died. It was a death sentence. Read on to see what was wrong with using the left hand to eat.
Here in this country, the penalty was not as severe, but one had to be very careful nonetheless. The left hand was used to wipe the butt, never to eat with. Sometimes people kept the spent corn on the cob after the hogs ate the corn and then used it for wiping their behinds.
Outdoor privies were not in common use in the early years of our nation, but there were some notable exceptions. George Washington had a fancy thorn room with a tin drawer filled with wood shavings that the slaves would dump for him. It has been said that Sir William Johnson had the first privy in North America, it straddled the Kaydeross Creek and the rushing waters of the creek carried the waste away.
Some folks used spent corn cobs to wipe themsevles, but that went just so far. Broad leaves had to be of the right sort, some weren't careful and developed cases of poison ivy in uncomfortable places. (Including me.) Now you know.
May 17, 3011. Baby care, circa 1700s.
Women worked from sun up to sun down, and it was backbreaking work. It they had a baby, often the parents would wait to name the baby, just to see if it survived. I know in my family, my great-grandmother used the name John three times before one baby boy stuck to life.
If a baby had the misfortune to be born during the warm weather, the mother would give birth and go back to work and finish the day’s work. Some couldn’t of course and needed time to recover. The hardly Palatines seemed to produce a large family, they had to so that some would survive.
What to do with the infant while working in the fields? Some used the Indian style papoose carrier with plenty of moss for the wiping duties. Still others used the European method of wrapping the baby tightly with strips of cloth, or swaddling. If this was done properly and tight enough, the child would lapse into a semi-coma, which made it easy to care for. Periodically the mother would reach in and scoop out the mess and every so often she would unwrap the baby and begin again.
There are a few stories about the babies being swaddled tight and then hung on a hook with a bucket beneath them so the drippages could be caught and not mess up the floor.
Naming the baby was easy if the parents were from the Dutch/German tradition, babies were named after the previous generation.
First son named after the father's father.
Second son named after the mother's father.
Third son named after the father.
Fourth son named after the father's eldest brother.
First daughter named after the mother's mother.
Second daughter named after the father's mother.
Third daughter named after the mother.
Fourth daughter named after the mother's eldest sister.
Any way you looked at it, life was a smelly adventure for the newborns in that time and there might be 10 in the family with the same name.
May 14, 2011. It was the Mabee Farm event today and I didn't think it was well attended, but that is happening to all the historical places. I was selling my books and gabbing as usual, set up in the barn. Those east -- west doors on the Dutch Barns keep a steady wind blowing through and it was much warmer outside. I remembered that situation and brought my wool cape which I kept wrapped around me all day. The doors were always set to catch any wind to make wheat harvesting easier; the wind blew the chaff away.
A friend was next to me and I commented to her that the re-enactors don't really get it right; the world 230 years ago smelled something awful and it was a very dirty world along with being unhealthy as well..
I don't get it right either, my colonial outfit matches which is something that rarely happened. Then I commented that everyone wore hats or caps, probably to keep the personal pets away. (Lice) Maxine laughed and said she really didn't realize what a dirty world it was until she began reading my books. The design of the period clothing gives all of us the look of huge hips, (even me) which means the woman is a fertile woman, fit for child-bearing.
Another thing that startled me a bit were some of the Loyalist uniforms. The unit was from Canada, and had on blue and white uniforms, but they were obviously very dirty. This was probably more accurate than the pristine uniforms I have seen in the past. Can you imagine how difficult it must have been to keep anything clean back then?
May 9, 2011. A big milestone here, the last of the Out of Time series and now the Counting series has been sent to the publisher. Now for the next one, this is where the selling part comes in, if any of you can help in any way, by telling a friend or passing the link to the website on to others, it will be deeply appreciated.
April 30, 2011. Beautiful day here and I spent most of it in my flower gardens. As I worked I thought about truth, historical truth. I am getting very cynical the more I work in historical documents. At first I thought William L. Stone was wonderful, (earliest 1843) but then I read other books and realized he copied most everything verbatun. I thought Campbell and The Annuals of Tryon County, 1831, was the absolute truth and then I realized that Stone copied his book word for word from someone, and Campbell had to copy from someone else as well. Neither of them, were alive in that time. I read Thatcher's Military Journal of The American Revolution and found he was the original author. They all copied from his work, he is what one could call the original source, he published in 1827. This is more promising than the other works.
Jeptha Simms was careful to get two people who agreed on a story and his work is very interesting. My guess is that Simms is mostly acccurate, he tried to get the correct story, and gave credit to his sources. Nelson Green; now here is a man who copied verbatim and never admitted that he did. So many love his writing, I am uncomfortable with it since I wonder who he was copying. Obviously he couldn't remember the events himself since he published in the early 1900s.
When I started transcribing the Rev. War Pensions, I thought they were the living end, but they were not always accurate either. They are original source material that is true, but many of the men had their own agendas; they wanted to qualify for a pension. Then too, it was 50 years after the war and they were getting up in years and forgetful. This is why the work Jim Morrison is doing is so valuable, he is cross checking the depositions against the Muster Rolls, the Pay Rolls and the Regimental Records.
Don't believe everything you read in other words. To many write their own history and put their ancestors smack in the middle of the story as heroes.
April 21, 2011. This morning I was thinking about the people of long ago versus now, and life in the Mohawk Valley. So many things are the same, mostly the people, just their circumstances have changed. Meaning, the boys are still chasing the girls and we are still doing the same stupid things they did. It only seems as if the people have changed, but really we are just more open about what we are doing. Apparently life lessons are not meant to be passed on to future generations, we all have to learn for ourselves. True, the people are the same, but the circumstances are very different. I can't imagine living with the discomfort they did; for instance the cold houses and the dawn to dark physical work needed to provide food just to survive. Medical science is another thing that provides a stark contrast from 200 plus years ago to today. Not long ago my mother commented that they considered themselves very modern but they really weren't at all. I know that just in my lifetime there have been huge changes in our understanding of the human body, I can't help but be amazed and then I wonder what is coming next?
Actually the trigger point for thinking about people then and now was the publicity article the publisher wrote about the Out of Time books. It read that life then was the same as today. That's not accurate at all and I had that part deleted.
I have begun rewriting the Counting Series of books. The first one is One for The Money. Until I saw the row of published books on my book shelf, I hadn't realized how much I had written since 2005.
April 18, 2011. All the Out of Time books have been sent to the publisher and I am waiting for the proof copy on the last book, (Time and More Time) which should be here in a few days. Once I approve the final book, I will provide a link with Amazon and the new publisher. Three more of the Don't Shoot books are awaiting a proof copy and once they are approved, two will be released, the fourth book is not quite ready, and that book might be a few more months.
April 12, 2011. The books will be offered soon on Amazon and in about 2 months, internationally and nationally. It is my hope that readers will enjoy the stories and learn about the history of our valley.
April 9, 2011. This past month I have been busy proof reading and formatting the Out of Time series of novels which is a painful process. Soon they should begin appearing on the Amazon website and at that point I will put a link to that site for purchasing the books. I also plan on using the Facebook site for the books. Hopefully the books will appeal to the public and they will sell well.
March 18, 2011. "Can't those people spell?" They spelled as they heard it in those days. There was no standardized spelling. The word (stayed) was often spelled staid, (enlist) inlist or anlist, (hymn), him etc. Noah Webster (1758-1843) was the man who began standardized spelling and definitions of words. Slowly, edition by edition, Webster changed the spelling of words, making them "Americanized." He chose s over c in words like defense,he changed the re to er in words like center, and he dropped one of the Ls in traveler. At first he kept the u in words like colour or favour but dropped it in later editions. It took time and better schools before spelling became standarized. Too often people write to me about my typos in their ancestor's papers, but that is how they were written and how they stay. My spell checker often changes the spelling back again, but that is another issue.
Double Dating. In 1752, Sept. 2 was followed by Sept. 14. That's when time-keeping changed from OS (Old Style) to what it is now. In mankind’s vision of time the 1752 gap is the dividing line between OS (“old style”) and what today we know as our reckoning of time, calendar style. Various countries did the change at other times.
March 7, 2011. When mornings like this one comes along, I think back to what it must have been like with a heavy snowfall (2 feet) without good roads and snow removal. Fences were removed so one could go cross country and the people got around with a horse and sleigh. If it was too nasty out, their own farms were self sufficient enough that they could be snow bound and survive easily enough. Having enough fuel to burn was another story, keeping warm was far more difficult. Even the wealthy suffered; I read that water in a basin next to the fireplace at Johnson Hall froze during the winter. For most of mankind's existence it was difficult to stay warm, we have it very easy now. I must confess I had a few unhappy moments when the power went out, trees were falling with the wet snow and strong winds. I started my generator and everything came on. How fortunate we are!
March 3, 2011. This morning I posted a new article on the savior of the Mohawk Valley and suddenly my system was hijacked. It was a massive problem, I couldn't use the computer; rogue spyware called System Tool took over. Unbelievable! I have many layers of protection, this shouldn't have happened. I booted into Safe Mode, then I used one of my laptops, to research the problem. I didn't trust the sites that guaranteed removal, some for free. I suspected them as well. The website for my anti-virus program calmly told me there was no such problem, and that really made me unhappy. I ended up having a remote techie from Norton fix it, which took over about an hour and a half, and he was working fast. He deleted about 40GB of information the spyware put in, almost every part of the system was compromised. I am very careful about everything, I was using a (safe) research site when it hit. I don't open attachments, go to places where I will pick up fleas, figured I had good software protection, nothing seemed to matter. Anyhow, I am back in business.
Colonel Willett's story, savior of the Mohawk Valley.
March 2, 2011. How the mind wanders, at least mine does.
--Camp followers. Interesting subject here. War was different back then, there were no prepared meals at all. The meat for instance was on the hoof and used as needed. During the time of the burning of the valleys in October 1780, there is a tidbit about the meat. VanRensselaer waited to come west because he was waiting for the delivery of the cattle. In order to have certain things done for the men, women came along. Their duties were to wash, cook, and "service" the men. Usually a woman (wife of one of the men) was assigned to 5 men, without exception, they were whores, so I am told. This caused friction at times and things had to be reassigned. There is one record of Col. Willett (the savior of the Mohawk Valley), dismissing a man and his wife due to dissension. This is one subject that is not discussed and about which little is known.
--Then I began thinking about the Palatines and their superstitious ways. Here is more about them, perhaps you never heard about this phenomenon. Witchcraft
March 1, 2011. Misery personified. OR, things I learned from the pension transcriptions.
- It was a miserable existence. I was struck by a romance author's description of "those snug, cute log cabins" they built on the frontier.
They were not!
- Dirt Floors, which the inhabitants used to poop and pee on during the winter.
- Wide enough cracks in the walls so that a wolf could bite the unwary sleeper.
- Low enough ceiling so that one couldn't stand upright.
- No chairs. You worked or you slept. One stood to eat.
- No plates, eating utensils, one used a scooped out loaf of stale bread or a hollow piece of wood for the food. Use your fingers, right hand only. Left hand was for wiping the butt.
- Water proof, hardly!
- Warm, NO!
February 28, 2011. Revolutionary War Pensions.
Jim Morrison and I have been working on the pensions for several years and it is our hope one day to have all the soldiers of the Revolution transcribed.
The process is lengthy, first the documents have to be accessed and then we select a deposition which was given by the soldier, if possible. The handwriting in many cases is deplorable, the spelling is done however it sounds best by the scribe. Then there is the difficulty of making out some of the words due to these problems. I do make typos in addition! Then Jim will correct the transcription, and verify the service. Pensions corrected and end noted have an * in front of the names. He verifies the information through the regimental records, payroll records, and the muster rolls.
Just because a soldier says he served, doesn't necessarily mean he did so. Old age, time, and illiteracy were mostly the culprits. Then too there was another large factor. The men wished to qualify for a pension. The $80 a year was a handsome pension. You will find some of the old men married young women, because the women knew they would have an income for as long as they lived.
It is a bit confusing, there were three forms of service to the country. The local militia, the levies, and the New York State Line.
If a man served in the Continental service, usually he would simply state so because the service was continuous and they were wintered by the government. These were the national troops, Washington was the Commander-In-Chief, or the New York State Line.
The Levies served mostly for 6-9 months and they were the state troops, raised out of the militia. Sometimes they were called the nine months' wonders.
Then there was the militia, these were the county troops and served when called. This could for be a day or two or a week or two, etc. Six months of service was necessary to qualify for a pension and the man had to have witnesses to verify the service. Naturally they wanted to qualify and often stretched the time, can’t say I blame them. A scouting detachment was usually about 3 days, but they would often claim 3 weeks.
So far there are about 3,600 pensions on the site. Letters S, A, B, C are finished.
This is a labor of love from both of us, a gift to posterity.