There has been a lot of competition for teh stoopid on the part of the Republicans lately. But the one really sending me over the edge lately is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie--the guy who commandeers rescue helicopters to attend high school baseball games, and limos to take him the final 100 yards to the bleachers. Not to mention trampling out the benefits and rights of NJ workers, and insulting its citizens. With all the public uproar, I can only think of the fate of another New Jersey governor who was forcibly removed from office.
I have never lived in New Jersey – in fact, I've never even been there. However, I have a good many ancestors who lived there between 1720-1845, and studying their history and struggles has made me feel very close to the struggles of residents today. All of my New Jersey lines were in Morris County--many lived and are buried in Mendham, which is where the Christie family currently resides. Among my ancestors, several were foot soldiers in the militia during the Revolutionary War, who walked significantly farther than 100 yards to battle in places like Brooklyn Heights, Elizabethtown, Trenton. They did this for very little pay, and very few of them lived long enough to apply for the pensions that were finally made available to them in the 1830s. The few that did left some pretty amazing stories in their pension applications. Just my personal opinion, but I don't think they would be pleased at the actions of the current governor of their beloved state.
Join me below the fleur de kos as I share the war-time experiences of my 4g-grandparents Nehemiah Day and Phebe Loree.
The diary is too long already, so I'm not going to rehash the Franklin administration (for some real eye-opening evidence of his cluelessness see p. 433, and p. 719 for the letter protesting his arrest and treatment to the NJ legislature), nor will I go into the drafting and adoption of the NJ Constitution. Instead, I'm going to jump right to purpose of this diary -- family stories!
Amazingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, it was not until 1832 that Congress passed a pension law that covered those men, regardless of rank, who had served in militias rather than the Continental Army. Widows were also entitled to pensions. (Only 50 years after the fact, but better late than never.) These elderly individuals needed to travel to the nearest county seat to provide their evidence of service. My 4g-grandfather, Nehemiah Day, and his brother-in-law, Job Loree were among New Jersey's few remaining veterans to claim pensions.
Fortunately, they had the help of Lewis Condict, a prominent figure in Morris Co., NJ, in the first half of the 19th Century. Dr. Condict helped more than 100 Morris Co. veterans apply for pensions, and he kept copious noteson each of them. Years later, Harpers Magazine wrote an article on Washington at Morristown, the author first interviewing Condict and reviewing his notes. (As a side note, Dr. Condict continued to help my family--he helped with the probate of Nehemiah and Phebe's estate on behalf of my 3g-grandfather, who was living in Ohio.)
Men were required to attest to their war experiences, while their widows were required to provide testimony to "prove" the marriage relationship. Nehemiah gave his testimony in 1834, as did his brother-in-law Job Loree Jr. After Nehemiah's death in 1837, his widow Phebe depended on corroborating evidence of her brother in order to obtain a widow's pension. I have parsed four affidavits/depositions to tell a more linear story. First, from Nehemiah's affidavit of March 18, 1834.
…I was born at Chatham in Morris County N. Jersey, on the 10th August 1748, according to a record kept by my father in an old family bible, not now in my possession. I lived in Chatham when I first entered the service of the U. States and went to Mendham in said county in 1777, where I have lived till the present time. I have almost lost my eyesight - can scarcely distinguish one object from another, and am so feeble in my bodily powers that I can scarcely walk from house to house. My memory has lost much of its power, especially in regards dates and names. - I most solemnly swear I have performed militia duty in defense of my country, in every year of the revolutionary war, from its beginning to its end. - in some years not more than six months of the year - in some other years not more than 4 months - and in not one year of the war, up to 1781, less than three months, in active, faithful, constant duty, whilst in service.
Before we go on to his military experiences, we need to look at Phebe's affidavit of July 6, 1837, to obtain a widow's pension:
…I am now in the 86th year. of my age since the 30th May last. My father was Job Loree, who lived and died in the township of Mendham in Morris county, New Jersey & I was married to Nehemiah Day on the 4th of May 1769, by a Baptist Minister in Morristown, whose name I cannot recollect. The marriage ceremony was performed at my father's house in Mendham township, whose name was Job Loree, & my brother Job Loree, about 9 years younger than myself, was present and saw us married. He is living. My sister Sarah, now Sarah Shotwell, was also present, & she, if living, is living in the Lake Country in the State of Pennsylvania as I believe. My brother Solomon Loree about 11 years younger than I was also present, who if living is in Ohio State, as I believe. These 3 are the only persons now living, who were present at my marriage, as I believe. We never kept a family record of our marriage & have none except that of my own memory. My husband, Nehemiah Day, was, as I believe, born in Essex County, or in the lower township of Morris, called Chatham, adjoining Morris & moved into Mendham township early in the war time of the revolution, where he spent his life with me & where he died on Saturday night the 1st of April 1837 & I have remained a Widow ever since that period to the present time, as will more fully appear by reference to the proof hereto annexed. My first child (Mary) was born 30th September 1770. My 2nd child, Daniel, was born 9th October 1773 & he lived to be 7 months old. My 3rd child Samuel, was born 4th December 1775. Besides these 3 born before the war, I had six other children. My husband, Nehemiah Day, was 3 years & about 9 months older than myself. Directly after marriage, we went to housekeeping in Mendham township, where we lived between 3 & 4 years, then we removed to Chatham, near Passaic River, & lived there about 4 years. & then removed to Mendham township, in which township we lived till my husband, the said Nehemiah Day died, which was on the first day of April 1837, and I have remained a widow ever since that period to the present time, as will more fully appear, by reference to the proof hereto annexed.
Phebe's brother Job talks about his memories of his sister's marriage, inadvertently proving that little boys have always been little boys:
I was born in September (l6th day) 1759 - am now in my 78th year. My father was Job Loree who spent most of his life in Mendham township, in which I was born. Phebe Day, widow of Nehemiah Day, late of Mendham, decd, now an applicant for the continuation of her late husband's pension, is my sister and was also born in Mendham. She was married to Nehemiah Day at my father's house (Job Loree), by a Baptist minister from Morristown, on the 4th May 1769. She was then not quite 19 years old and I was in my 10th year. I was present & saw the ceremony performed by the minister. I had my face scratched in a fight I had the day before with a neighboring boy & was rather ashamed of my appearance, but I saw them married. My sister Sarah, now in the Lake Country in Northern Pennsylvania and my brother Solomon Loree, now in Ohio State were present, and they and myself were the only witnesses of the marriage, who are now living to the best of my knowledge & belief...
I'd like to share another anecdote taken from Job Jr.'s own pension application. He was 17 years old when he started his service under the command of Nehemiah's brother, Capt. Artemas Day. This particular incident occurred in October 1776, and I think it shows a definite personality trend (unlike the other affidavits, this one is in third person):
… In a short time, probably in October he was again called out for another month and was stationed at Elizabeth Town, toward the point, in a barn owned by a William Price. The duty was the same as in the before, guarding at the lines and assisting in building the breastwork or fort. He thinks Capt. Zenas Condict commanded the company and Samuel Vance was Lieutenant, and Col. Jacob Ford was the commander of the Regiment. Whilst here, a man dressed in a frock and trousers attempted to pass the deponent as he was standing duty. He demanded a pass - or Countersign which was refused - but insisted on passing when the Deponent pricked him with his bayonet in the breast and (told) him he would shoot him dead, if he persisted or attempted to escape. The sargeant of the guard then came up, and it was discovered that General Livingston, who about that time was chosen Governor of N. Jersey was the prisoner. He was then permitted to pass giving the deponent two dollars for his fidelity...
Job Jr. eventually transferred to Gen. LaFayette's army, where he was a wagoneer. Nehemiah, however, was a foot soldier, and as such he walked, or marched to each of the locations he cites in his affidavit. The whole application is too long to include here, but these paragraphs of the early months of the war give a flavor of how the average grunt soldier interpreted what was going on around him His first Captain, Stephen Day, was a very distant relation. For those (like me!) not familiar with the local geography, Rutgers has this handy map of NJ battles and skirmishes (clicking on it makes it large enough to be legible).
My militia duties were more frequently performed at Elizabeth town and along the Jersey Shore toward Amboy and opposite Staten Island, then elsewhere. - We were divided into classes sometimes our half ordered into services and other times perhaps over 1/3 or were called out to guard the frontier before named. - And when the country was over run by the enemy, or alarm made of their coming in larger bodies. - the whole militia force was kept out for defense and to keep the Tories and Refugees in check. During the first 3 years of the war according to the best of my remembrance New Jersey was much overrun and annoyed by the enemy and the militia were in service, to protect the frontier, in all seasons of the year. I belonged to the militia company of Capt. Stephen Day at Chatham, and my first tour of Militia duty was performed under him in the spring season of the first year of the war, and were first marched to Elizabeth town and to the point, opposite Staten Island, when we were stationed on guard duty and we were employed in building forts and guarding the shore against the town. -It was expected that our service would limited to one month. I am not certain that we went home at the end of the month - but if we did - we were almost immediately called out and used in the same offices, to perform the same duties at the same place. Large bodies of Militia were out at both times, used a common barracks of Colonel Ford and Drake of Morris Country, and used in General Williams or General Heard. The British fleet was daily expected at New York, and most of the time I was stationed with Capt. Day on Brooklyn heights opposite New York City, building breast works - and most of the time at Elizabethtown, whilst there, the British fleet sailed into New York harbor. We remained here during the battle of Long Island was fought, and heard the guns very plainly. I was not at home during this summer and fall, serving in the militia the whole time longer except going home to process a change of clothes, at longest, I do not believe, no more than two to 4 days, and sometimes not longer than one day. - and then always by permission form my commanding officer. The whole Country was in constant alarm and the whole militia out on duty. I was commanded by Capt. Day. And when he was occasionally out for a few days, I was under his Lieutenant and the Colonel before mentioned. We continued this in action and constant duty, at Elizabeth town during the whole of the first summer and half season and when General Washington with his army retreated before the enemy through New Jersey, we were at Elizabeth, and fell in with the whole of his army and followers on as far as New Brunswick, when we filed off at Bound Brook, near Pluckemon, and it was cold wintry weather before we reached Morristown. This march from Elizabeth town to New Brunswick and Pluckemin: is commonly called by our militia, the "mud-rounds". We had not reached home at Chatham, before an alarm was given, and we were ordered out forthwith to march to Springfield and with the same officers, here a hard battle was fought, in which our company was actively employed. A considerable body of Hessians were made prisoners by the militia, and immediately sent to Morristown, under a strong guard. It was cold weather. The enemy and Tories and Refugees had possessions of Elizabeth town and Staten Island most of this winter, and we kept strong militia guards stationed all winter and the following spring, at Springfield and Connecticut farms and along the lines towards New Brunswick. I also wasn't discharged from this duty, until the middle of winter, or perhaps later. Was in constant and active duty the whole season, at home only long enough to get a change of clothes, by permission of my commander, and immediately back to my station. In this first year, I was faithfully engaged in duty, the least, seven full months. And I believed I might say with truth, eight months.
Again, I am not going to quote the whole affidavit, but do want to include this next bit which talks about moving his family, trying to carry on with daily life, and getting his promotion:
Early in the spring following (1777) I was again ordered out on militia duty for a month, ordered Captain Day - I was stationed with my company on guard duty in Elizabeth town and the landing points. It was in cold and muddy weather. - I think in March. I stayed a month, acting in command of Colonel Thomas, as I believe, - was then dismissed verbally and went home.
My family moved this spring (77) from Chatham to Mendham, and I now fell into the militia company commanded by Captain Daniel Cook, in which company, most of my other militia duties were performed. - I was appointed a Sergeant in this company and from this time all my militia services was as a Sergeant, performing Sergeant's duty. In the middle of planting corn I was ordered out under Captain Cook to Elizabeth town
The affidavit goes on for a couple of more pages … the mundane daily life of a farmer who gauges the dates he was called to duty by whether he was plowing or harvesting, whether it was muddy or cold, whether there was snow on the ground. He talks of the communities being "much annoyed by the enemy" and how alarms happened almost daily. He talks about being at numerous skirmishes at Elizabeth and Staten Island. He also was present for battles at Perth, Quibbletown, New Brunswick, Springfield, Connecticut Farms, Monmouth, Strawberrry Hill, Amboy, Rahway, Acquackanock. And walking all the while. He talks of seeing churches and villages burned, and he talked of the murder of the wife of a prominent NJ patriot. For his service, Nehemiah received an annual pension of $111.65 (broken down to $16.65 for five months and a private and $95 for one year seven months as a sergeant).
This turned out to be much longer than I intended, and I haven't told all of the New Jersey stories yet -- that will have to wait for a future diary, I guess. :-)
Well, it is Friday, so it is open thread. What are your latest discoveries or brick walls? Find any new GFHC cousins (I did...slksfca!)? The floor is yours. And don't forget to volunteer for an open thread:
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