Elizabeth "Aunt Betty" Frazee: "I give this not in love but in fear"

July 23, 2014



During the Battle of Short Hills, June 26, 1777, Elizabeth “Aunt Betty” Frazee shared her baked goods with the revolutionary forces, but bravely told Lord Cornwallis he was not welcome after British forces looted her home in Union County (today, the township of Scotch Plains). In a popular rendition, Aunt Betty answered the General’s request for bread by saying, “I give this not in love but in fear”.[1] The general then with a gracious gesture declined to accept the proffered bread. Records show that the Frazees submitted a claim for damages caused by the passing British troops.

Born Elizabeth Lee, she married Gershom Frazee.[2] The couple raised their nephew Gershom Lee, son of Elizabeth’s brother Thomas and his first wife, who died at a young age. One source states that Gershom and Elizabeth had two children of their own, Moses (1764-1850) and Jemima, however only Elizabeth Frazee and Gershom Lee were named in Frazee’s will of 1791. If they had other children that were still living in 1791, it is curious that they were not also named. It is more likely that this was their niece Jemima, daughter of brother Abraham and that Moses Frazee (1764-1850) was the son of Gershom’s older brother Moses. Moses Sr. was made guardian of Abraham’s 7 year-old son, also named Gershom, and 5 year-old daughter Jermima at the death of Abraham in 1762. This younger nephew Gershom (b.1755) is sometimes confused with Aunt Betty’s husband Gershom Frazee, carpenter and joiner (1735-1791).

Gershom Frazee died in October 1791. Elizabeth passed away on July 23, 1792, and is buried in the Presbyterian Church Burial Grounds at Westfield, New Jersey.[3]


The couples historic home, Frazee House, at 1451 Raritan Road, Scotch Plains, New Jersey, is currently under restoration by The Rotary Club of Fanwood-Scotch Plains. The house is not open for tours but you can visit to see the outside.


The Gershom and Betty Frazee House has received official recognition on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service and in State of New Jersey with a listing on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places in the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office.


  1. Ricord, F. W (2007). History of Union County, New Jersey. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books. ISBN 978-0-7884-1792-4; OCLC 182527582, p. 513
  2. The Frazee House Historical Restoration Project http://frazeehouse.org/History-%20of-Frazee-House-property.html
  3. Elizabeth Mills Frazee at Find A Grave

Cleveland, Ohio, founded as "Cleaveland"

July 22, 2014



Cleveland, Ohio, is the county seat of Cuyahoga County[8] and the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately 60 miles west of the Pennsylvania border. It was founded in 1796 near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, and became a manufacturing center owing to its location on the lake shore, as well as being connected to numerous canals and railroad lines.


This is the earliest known photograph of the Ohio and Erie Canal in Cleveland ca. 1859. Built in 1832, the canal’s usefulness was ending as railroads became the preferred means of transport. These buildings stood in the East Flats area and the high ground visible at rear is a residential area south and east of downtown Cleveland.

Cleveland obtained its name on July 22, 1796 when surveyors of the Connecticut Land Company laid out Connecticut’s Western Reserve into townships and a capital city they named “Cleaveland” after their leader, General Moses Cleaveland. Cleaveland oversaw the plan for what would become the modern downtown area, centered on Public Square, before returning home, never again to visit Ohio.


Portrait of General Moses Cleaveland. Artist information unknown. Published in “Sketches of Western Reserve Life,” Harvey Rice, 1885

The first settler in Cleaveland was Lorenzo Carter, who built a cabin on the banks of the Cuyahoga River. The Village of Cleaveland was incorporated on December 23, 1814.[9] In spite of the nearby swampy lowlands and harsh winters, its waterfront location proved to be an advantage. The area began rapid growth after the 1832 completion of the Ohio and Erie Canal. This key link between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes connected the city to the Atlantic Ocean via the Erie Canal and later via the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. Growth continued with added railroad links.[7] Cleveland incorporated as a city in 1836.[1]

In 1836, the city, then located only on the eastern banks of the Cuyahoga River, nearly erupted into open warfare with neighboring Ohio City over a bridge connecting the two.[18] Ohio City remained an independent municipality until its annexation by Cleveland in 1854.[1]

Residents of Cleveland are called “Clevelanders”. Nicknames for the city include “The Forest City”, “Metropolis of the Western Reserve”, “The Rock and Roll Capital of the World”, “C-Town”, “The Cleve”, and the more historical “Sixth City”.[2][3][4][5][6] Due to Lake Erie’s proximity to the city, the Cleveland area is sometimes locally referred to as “The North Coast”.[2][3][5]

The place called “Cleaveland” eventually became known as “Cleveland”. One explanation as to why the spelling changed is that, in 1830, when the first newspaper, the Cleveland Advertiser, was established, the editor discovered that the head-line was too long for the form, and accordingly left out the letter “a” in the first syllable of “Cleaveland”, which spelling was at once adopted by the public.[9] An alternative explanation is that Cleaveland’s surveying party misspelled the name of the future town on their original map.[10]


  1. “Cleveland: A Bicentennial Timeline”. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Case Western Reserve University
  2. Marshall, Alli (January 24, 2007). “Of Cleveland, by Cleveland, for Cleveland (and the world)”. MountainX: Asheville Arts and Entertainment. Mountain Xpress. Retrieved July 5, 2010. “Nicknames include the ‘Forest City,’ ‘Metropolis of the Western Reserve’, and ‘C-Town.'”
  3. Neville, Anne (August 16, 2009). “Buffalo by any other name”. The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on January 18, 2012. Retrieved October 25, 2010. “Cleveland has been called by many titles, including The Forest City, The Metropolis of the Western Reserve and The Rock ‘n’ Roll Capital of the World. The city is also affectionately called… “C-Town””
  4. “Ohio: Sixth City”. Time.com. October 11, 1937
  5. “Cleveland Court Winner: Sixth City Gets Permanent Possession of Inter-Lake Trophy” (PDF). The New York Times. August 3, 1919
  6. “Rock ‘n’ Roll”. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Case Western Reserve University. 2009
  7. “Ohio and Erie Canal”. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Case Western Reserve University
  8. “Find a County”. National Association of Counties
  9. “10/05: Cleveland, Ohio”. Roadmuseum.org
  10. “Moses Cleaveland – Ohio History Central – A product of the Ohio Historical Society”. Ohio History Central

Isaac Norris, Mayor of Philadelphia

July 21, 2014



Isaac Norris was a merchant and prominent figure in provincial Pennsylvania, including mayor of Philadelphia in 1724.

He was born in London, England, on July 21, 1671, but his father, Thomas, moved to Jamaica when Isaac was seven years old. Isaac went to Philadelphia in 1690 to arrange for his family to move to that city, but on his return he found that they had all died in the great earthquake at Port Royal. He returned to Philadelphia, went into business, and became one of the wealthiest proprietors in Pennsylvania.

While he was in England in 1706 he came to the aid of William Penn in his difficulties and rescued him from imprisonment. On his return to Philadelphia two years later, he was elected to the governor’s council, and from then until his death continued in public life. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly for many years, its speaker in 1712, justice for Philadelphia County in 1717, and, on the organization of the high court of chancery, became a master to hear cases with the lieutenant-governor. He was elected mayor of Philadelphia in 1724. On the death of David Lloyd, he was unanimously chosen Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but he declined and remained in the county court. For many years he was one of the chief representatives of the proprietors, and by the will of Penn he was named a trustee of the province of Pennsylvania.

In 1694 he married Mary, daughter of Thomas Lloyd, president of the council. Their son, Isaac, succeeded his father in business and also became active in politics, serving as speaker of the Assembly. Norris died in Philadelphia on June 4, 1735.

The borough of Norristown, Pennsylvania is named for Norris, who in 1704 bought a large tract of land there from Penn.


  • “Isaac Norris’s Fairhill: Architecture, Landscape, and Quaker Ideals in a Philadelphia Colonial Country Seat”, Mark Reinberger and Elizabeth McLean, Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Winter, 1997), pp. 243-274

Battle of Bull’s Ferry

July 20, 2014



The Battle of Bull’s Ferry on July 20-21, 1780, saw two American brigades under Brigadier General Anthony Wayne attack a party of Loyalist Americans led by Thomas Ward. The Loyalists successfully defended a blockhouse against an ineffective bombardment by four American artillery pieces and a failed attempt to storm the position by Wayne’s infantry. During the action, American light dragoons under Major Light Horse Harry Lee drove off a large number of cattle that were kept in the area for the use of the British army in New York City. The clash inspired British Major John André to write a satirical ballad entitled The Cow Chace. The skirmish was fought at Bulls Ferry, New Jersey in the Northern theater of the American Revolutionary War after Saratoga. At this stage of the conflict only raids and minor actions occurred in the north.


Bulls Ferry Road descends from the top of the Hudson Palisades down to the river.

The Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778 was the last significant engagement in the north.[1] After the battle, George Washington marched his army to Brunswick, New Jersey, arriving there on July 2. Leaving William Maxwell’s brigade in New Jersey, the main body of the American army crossed the Hudson River. By July 24, Washington’s army arrived at White Plains, New York and placed the British garrison of New York City in a blockade that lasted the remainder of the war. In late July, the French admiral Charles Hector, comte d’Estaing arrived off Sandy Hook with one 90-gun ship of the line, one 80, six 74s, two 64s, and one 50, plus four frigates. Badly outgunned, Sir Richard Howe prepared to defend the entrance to New York harbor with six 64s, three 50s, six frigates, four galleys, and an armed merchantman. Meanwhile, British commander Sir Henry Clinton at Sandy Hook needed Howe’s ships to transport his army to New York, otherwise he might be trapped. D’Estaing, whose larger vessels drew 30 feet was informed by local pilots that there was only 23 feet of water over the bar. On the morning of July 22, the frustrated French admiral sailed away. That afternoon a high tide pushed 30 feet of water over the bar and thus an opportunity to end the war in 1778 was missed. [2]

On September 27, 1778, the British wiped out the 3rd Continental Light Dragoons in the Baylor Massacre.[3] On the American side, Anthony Wayne carried out a brilliant coup in the Battle of Stony Point on July 16, 1779.[4] This feat was followed on August 19, 1779, by another successful raid by Light Horse Harry Lee in the Battle of Paulus Hook.[5]

With a total of 27,000 troops on the Atlantic coast of North America, Clinton decided to move against Charleston, South Carolina. Leaving Wilhelm von Knyphausen to hold New York with 10,000 soldiers, Clinton embarked for the south with 8,700 troops in the fleet of Mariot Arbuthnot on December 26, 1779.[6] Clinton was later reinforced so that his army numbered 12,500. The subsequent capitulation of Benjamin Lincoln’s army in the Siege of Charleston on 12 May 1780 represented the largest American mass surrender of the war. As many as 5,500 men were captured, including 2,650 irreplaceable Continental Army soldiers. Leaving Lord Charles Cornwallis in South Carolina with two-thirds of the army, Clinton headed back to New York.[7]

Meanwhile, Knyphausen staged the Springfield Raid in June 1780. The Hessian general started out with 5,000 men on June 7. That day, he was successfully blocked by Elias Dayton’s Continentals and militia in the Battle of Connecticut Farms. Clinton returned to New York on 17 June. Hearing that a French fleet and army was on the way to Newport, Rhode Island, the British commander sent some ships up the Hudson to make it difficult for the Americans to cross to the east side and join the French. Washington moved his army to cover his key fort at West Point, New York on the Hudson, leaving Nathanael Greene to shield his base at Morristown, New Jersey. On June 23, Knyphausen lunged at Morristown. In the Battle of Springfield, Greene’s division slowed the Hessian general’s thrust. That evening Knyphausen withdrew into Staten Island.[8]

On July 20, 1780, Washington ordered Wayne to take the 1st and 2nd Pennsylvania Brigades, four artillery pieces, and Stephen Moylan’s 4th Continental Light Dragoons to destroy a British blockhouse at Bulls Ferry, opposite New York City. The stockade position was held by 70 Loyalists commanded by Thomas Ward, providing a base for British woodcutting operations and protection against raids by American militia.[9]

At that time, the British kept cattle and horses on Bergen Neck to the south, within easy reach of foragers from the British garrison at Paulus Hook. A second motive for Wayne’s operation was to seize the livestock for the use of Washington’s army. Wayne sent his cavalry under the leadership of Harry Lee to round up the cattle, while he took three regiments and the artillery to attack the blockhouse.[10]

Early on July 21, Wayne bombarded the blockhouse with his four cannons, but an hour later there were no discernible results. After being peppered with accurate fire from the blockhouse, the American soldiers from the 1st and 2nd Pennsylvania Regiments became impatient. Despite their officers’ attempts to stop them, the soldiers dashed forward through the abatis to the base of the stockade. Once there, they found it impossible to break into the defensive works, and were forced to retreat.[11]

Aside from John Andrés’ ballad, the consequences of the skirmish were the loss of lives and the seizure of cattle. Wayne reported losses of 15 enlisted men killed, plus three officers and 46 enlisted men wounded. Clinton estimated that Wayne had almost 2,000 troops available. He admitted the loss of 21 casualties and reported that 50 round shot penetrated the blockhouse.[11] In a poetical note at the end of The Cow Chace, André suggested that five Loyalists were killed.

Five refugees (’tis true) were found,

Stiff on the blockhouse floor;

But then ’tis thought the shot went round,

And in at the back door.[10]


British Major John André penned a satirical verse The Cow Chace about the battle.

In one stanza, the British major poked fun at American claims that their cannon balls could not damage the blockhouse.

No shot could pass, if you will take

The General’s word for true;

But ’tis a d(amna)ble mistake,

For every shot went through.[10]

Lee rounded up a substantial number of cattle and returned them to Washington’s camp. Wayne burned the wood-cutters’ boats and captured some of the boatmen. From André’s fifth stanza, it is clear that Colonel Thomas Proctor commanded Wayne’s artillery.[10] Proctor was born in Ireland (“remoter Shannon”).[12]

And sons of distant Delaware,

And still remoter Shannon,

And Major Lee with horses rare,

And Procter with his cannon.[10]

André mocked Wayne’s subordinate Brigadier General William Irvine, who fought at Bull’s Ferry.[13] The British major credited Irvine, misspelled “Irving”, with command of the attack on the blockhouse while Wayne and Lee had the easy work of cattle rustling.


William Irvine was viciously lampooned by André.

At Irving’s nod ’twas fine to see,

The left prepare to fight;

The while, the drovers, Wayne and Lee,

Drew off upon the right.[10]

Two later stanzas made fun of the retreat of Irvine’s column.

Irving and terror in the van,

Came flying all abroad;

And cannon, colors, horse, and man,

Ran tumbling to the road.

Still as he fled, ’twas Irving’s cry,

And his example too,

“Run on, my merry men – For why?

The shot will not go through.”[10]


Light Horse Harry Lee’s dragoons rounded up cattle.

The British major even took a swipe at William Alexander, Lord Stirling who was not even involved in the operation.[10] Alexander had made an unsuccessful attempt to claim a Scottish earldom between 1756 and 1762.[14] His hard-drinking ways were well-known to British officers.[15]

Let none candidly infer,

That Stirling wanted spunk;

The self-made peer had sure been there,

But that the peer was drunk.[10]

Alluding to his pre-war career as a tanner,[16] André poked fun at Wayne in the first and last stanzas.

To drive the kine one summer’s morn,

The tanner took his way;

The calf shall rue that is unborn,

The jumbling of that day.

And now I’ve clos’d my epic strain,

I tremble as I show it,

Lest this same warrior-drover, Wayne,

Should ever catch the poet.[10]


  1. Boatner, 725
  2. Morrissey, 77-78
  3. Boatner, 1085-1086
  4. Boatner, 1062-1067
  5. Boatner, 836-841
  6. Boatner, 207-208
  7. Boatner, 212-214
  8. Boatner, 1045-1048
  9. Boatner, 119–120
  10. americanrevolution.org, The Cow Chace 1780
  11. Boatner, 120
  12. Nead, Gen. Thomas Proctor
  13. Boatner, 546
  14. Boatner, 16
  15. Preston, 266–267
  16. Boatner, 1175


  • americanrevolution.org. “The Cow Chace 1780″ http://www.americanrevolution.org/war%20songs/warsongs78.html
  • Boatner, Mark M. III (1994). Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-0578-1
  • Morrissey, Brendan (2008). Monmouth Courthouse 1778: The last great battle in the North. Long Island City, N.Y.: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-772-7
  • Nead, Benjamin M. (1880) usgwarchives.net Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography. Vol. 4 No. 4. A sketch of Gen. Thomas Proctor, with some account of the First Pennsylvania Artillery in the Revolution
  • Preston, John Hyde (1962). Revolution 1776. New York, N.Y.: Washington Square Press

Colonel Thomas Contee, Maryland Patriot

July 19, 2014



Colonel Thomas Contee of “Brookefield”, near Nottingham, Prince George’s County, Maryland. He was an American Patriot, militiaman, politician, planter.

Born in 1729, Thomas married Sarah Fendall (1732–1793) in 1751 in Charles County, Maryland. Thomas and Sarah resided at “Brookefield”, which is now called “The Valley”, near Nottingham, Prince George’s Co., Maryland.

Sarah (Fendall) Contee (1732–1793), was the daughter of Benjamin Fendall I, Esq. (1708–1764) and first wife, Eleanor Lee (1710–1759). Sarah was born February 7, 1732 at “Potomoe”, Charles County., Maryland. Sarah was described as a very beautiful woman with a wealth of golden hair.


Portrait of Thomas Contee. Artist information unknown.

Thomas inherited through his mother, the estate “Brookefield”, the original home of his ancestor, Maj. Thomas Brooke, Sr., Esq. (1632–1676). Thomas was a merchant by 1764, and was an attorney in fact for William Molleson, of London, England in 1766. He was engaged in a tobacco trade business with Capt. Fielder Bowie (ca. 1745-1794), which imported large quantities of goods until the firm disbanded in 1775. Thomas had management of a store at Pig Point, in Prince George’s County from 1772–1775, and was an agent for his sons Alexander and Benjamin, in Nottingham, and Upper Marlboro.

Contee and his wife, Sarah Fendall, had five children:

  1. Alexander Contee (1752–1810), who never married.
  2. Capt. Benjamin Contee, Rev., Hon. (1755–1815), who married Sarah Russell Lee (1766–1810), daughter of Philip Thomas Lee (1736–1778) and Ann Russell (d. 1777).
  3. Eleanor Lee Contee (1758–1786), who married Dr. Michael Wallace, Jr., Esq. (1749–1794).
  4. Jane Contee (1761–1825), who married William Worthington (1747–1820).
  5. Sarah Contee (1767–1844), who married David Slater (ca. 1763).

During the Revolutionary period he took a conspicuous position. He was chairman of various meetings of the citizens in Marlboro, was member of the House of Burgesses (Maryland), a delegate to the first convention held at Annapolis in 1770, and was one of the signers of the Declaration of Association of Freeman of Maryland in 1775. In September of the same year he was elected to the Committee of Observation. Too old for active duty, Thomas in 1776 was commissioned a Major of Militia by the Council of Safety and instructed to inspect the newly raised troops and to aid in the equipment of the volunteer forces. In November 1776, he was elected a member of the Council of Safety which continued to act until March 20, 1777, when the new state government was organized. He was sent to Philadelphia to confer with the Continental Congress as to the proper organization of the army and the general plans for defense. Thomas also served as Chairman of the Patuxent Associators.

Thomas was elected to the state legislature and for many years was chairman of the Republican Party in Prince George’s County. Thomas was a vestryman for St. Paul’s Parish, Prince George’s County. In 1811, at the time of his death, Thomas had amassed 1,082 acres in Prince George’s, Baltimore, and Frederick counties, 4 lots in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, plus 4,833 acres in Kentucky. His estate was valued at $9,167.75, including 19 slaves, books, and silver.


A portrait of John Hanson by John Hesselius, around 1765 to 1770.

Thomas’ older sister Jane Hanson, married John Hanson (1721–1783), of “Mulberry Grove”, who some say was the first President of the United States. On November 5, 1781, he was elected by a large majority, President of the Congress and in 1782, as head of the new nation, issued letters of marque to prey upon the British Commerce. These commissions were signed “John Hanson, President”. Hanson served as President of the United States in Congress Assembled which is erroneously though to mean that he was the first president of the country.

Thomas Contee died in 1811 in Prince George’s, Maryland, and is buried there.


Thomas was the son of Alexander Contee (1693–1740) and Jane Brooke (1702–1779). Jane was the daughter of Col. Thomas Brooke, Jr., Hon. (1660–1730) of “Brookefield”, President of Maryland and his second wife, Barbara Dent (1676–1754). Col. Thomas Brooke, Jr., was the son of Maj. Thomas Brooke, Sr., Esq. (1632–1676), of “Brookefield”, and Eleanor (Hatton) Darnall (1642–1745), who married secondly Col. Henry Darnall, Sr. (1645–1711). Alexander was the son of Dr. Peter Contee (d. 1714), of Barnstaple, Devonshire, England, and his first wife Catherine. Peter immigrated in about 1703 and resided in Charles County, before taking up permanent residence in Prince George’s County. Peter was a surgeon, and married secondly, Francis (?) Hopkins. Francis was the widow of Capt. William Hopkins (d. 1702). Peter was the son of Adolphe de Conti and his wife Grace. Adolphe was a Huguenot who immigrated to England from France during the reign of Louis XIII, King of France (1601–1643). Adolphe was lord mayor of London, England, in 1643, and High Sheriff of Middlesex, England. The motto under his Arms in Guild Hall, London is, “pour dieu et mon roi” (“for God and my king”).

Alexander, was born in April 1693, in Barnstaple, Devonshire, England. He immigrated around 1703, and resided in Charles County about 1720. He joined his uncle, Col. John Contee (d. 1708), who though married twice, had no children, and whose will provided liberally for Alexander. Alexander was a prosperous merchant at Nottingham Prince George’s Co., Clerk of the Court; and from 1720 to 1724, member of the Lower House of the General Assembly. He was a vestryman of St. Paul’s Parish. He married about 1720, Jane Brooke. Jane inherited a portion of “Brookefield”, her father’s estate. “Brookefield” is now known as “The Valley”, and was located near Nottingham in Prince George’s County. At the time of his death on December 24, 1740, Alexander had amassed at least 2,598 acres of land, and his estate was valued at 1,613.2.11 pounds sterling, plus 3,827.19.8 pounds current money. This included 32 slaves, 2 servants, books, and clerk’s writing equipment. Alexander’s will contained a heraldic shield only, with a chevron on which are charges and beasts in Dexter, middle and sinister chief and middle base. The arms of the Conte of Montulle, Normandy, contain a chevron and three mullets described as “Azure chevron or between three mullets or”.

The Contees came to Maryland from England, but they were of French descent Huguenots, who emigrated to Barnstable, in Devonshire, to escape the religious persecutions which culminated in the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The name originally de Conti, appears among the French nobility from a very early date. As far back as 1375, Isabella, dame de Conti, married Colard de Mailly. Their great granddaughter married in 1551, Louis I, Prince de Conde, a cadet of the Bourbons who ascended the French throne in the person of Henry IV, King of France and Navare (1553–1610). The second son of this latter marriage, Francois de Bourbon, was Prince de Conti, but had no issue and the title was revived from Armand de Bourbon, a cadet of the great Conde but expired for lack of male issue. The Vicomte de Conti arms are identical with those of the Rochelle family and also with those of the Marquis de Graviers, Comte de Noirant (of Normandy) and Baron de Conti (of Orange).


  • Across the Years In Prince George’s County, page 228
  • The Bowies and Their Kindred
  • Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage Books, Vol. 3

Lemuel Haynes: negro American minister and abolitionist

July 18, 2014



Lemuel Haynes was an influential black American religious leader who argued against slavery.


Little is known of his early life. He was born in July 18, 1753, in West Hartford, Connecticut, to a reportedly Caucasian mother of some status and a man named Haynes, who was said to be “of some form of African extraction”. According to the African American National Biography, his birth date is 18 July 1753 and he died the 28 September 1833.

At the age of five months, Lemuel Haynes was given over to indentured servitude in Granville, Massachusetts. Although serving as an agricultural worker, part of the agreement required educating him. Through accompanying his masters to church, he became exposed to Calvinistic thought and religiosity. At about twenty years of age, he saw the Aurora Borealis, and, fearing the approach of the Day of Judgment as a result, he soon accepted Christianity.

Freed in 1774 when his indenture expired, Haynes joined the minutemen of Granville. In 1775, he marched with his militia company to Roxbury, Massachusetts, following the news of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. In 1776, he accompanied them in the garrisoning of the recently captured Fort Ticonderoga. He returned to his previous labors in Granville after the northern campaign of the War of Independence.

After the American Revolution, Haynes began to write extensively, criticizing the slave trade and slavery. He also began to prepare sermons for family prayers and write theologically about life. The Scripture, abolitionism, and republicanism impacted his published writings. Haynes argued that slavery denied black people their natural rights to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Paralleling the recent American experience with oppression to the slave experience, Haynes wrote:

“Liberty is equally as precious to a black man, as it is to a white one, and bondage as equally as intolerable to the one as it is to the other”.


“Reverend Lemuel Haynes in the Pulpit.” Papier-mâché tray by unknown artist. Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design.

By the 1780s, Haynes became a leading Calvinist minister in Vermont. His contemporary white republican and abolitionist thinkers saw slavery as a liability to the new country, but most argued for eventual slave expatriation to Africa. The American Colonization Society (founded in 1817) was one such group. Included among its supporters were people such as James Madison, James Monroe, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. In contrast, Haynes continued to passionately argue along Calvinist lines that God’s providential plan would defeat slavery and lead to the harmonious integration of the races as equals.

As the first black in America to serve as pastor of a white congregation, Haynes ministered to Rutland’s West Parish for thirty years starting in 1783. Middlebury College granted Haynes an honorary master of arts in 1804, the first advanced degree ever bestowed upon an African American.[1][2]

Hayes died on September 28, 1833, in South Granville, New York, and is buried in the Lee-Oatman Cemetery.


Historian John Saillant (2003, p. 3) writes that Haynes’s “faith and social views are better documented than those of any African American born before the luminaries of the mid-nineteenth century.”

Lemuel Haynes House, his home for the last 11 years of his life in South Granville, New York, when he was pastor of South Granville Congregational Church was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1975. Originally sitting on a parcel of the PAR Farm, it was purchased from Charles Halderman in 2009 by Bo Young and William Foote, formerly of Brooklyn.


  1. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2p29.html
  2. http://www.jbhe.com/timeline.html
  • Kaplan, Sidney and Emma Nogrady Kaplan. The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution. Amherst, Massachusetts: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1989. ISBN 0-87023-663-6
  • Saillant, John. Black Puritan, Black Republican: The life and thought of Lemuel Haynes, 1753-1833. New York, Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-19-515717-6

The death of Conrad Weiser, early Pennsylvania Dutch diplomat

July 13, 2014



Conrad Weiser, born Johann Conrad Weiser, Jr., was a Pennsylvania Dutch pioneer, interpreter and effective diplomat between the Pennsylvania Colony and Native Americans. He was a farmer, soldier, monk, tanner and judge. He contributed as an emissary in councils between Native Americans and the colonies, especially Pennsylvania, during the 18th century’s tensions of the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War).

Conrad Weiser was born on November 2, 1696, in the small village of Affstätt in Herrenberg, in the Duchy of Württemberg (now part of the Federal Republic of Germany), where his father (Johann Conrad Weiser, Sr.) was stationed as a member of the Württemberg Blue Dragoons. Soon after Conrad’s birth, his father received a discharge from the Blue Dragoons and moved back to the family ancestral home of Großaspach. In 1709 fever claimed the life of his mother, Anna Magdalena, after the land and people were ravaged by French invasions related to religious wars, pestilence, and an unusually cold and long winter. Conrad Weiser (senior) wrote for his children, “Buried beside Her Ancestors, she was a god-fearing woman and much loved by Her neighbors. Her motto was Jesus I live for thee, I die for thee, thine am I in life and death.”[1]


Likeness of Conrad Weiser. There is no certifiable image of Conrad Weiser in existence and this one is no exception. Neither the often used drawing of a man in a suit and top-hat, which was first published in the Walton book, nor this image are proven to represent Weiser’s true appearance and in fact, the top-hat image is clearly a fabrication, as the clothing is of a different time and wholly inconsistent to anything Weiser would have worn.

Conrad Weiser and his family were among thousands of refugees who left German lands that year, many of them from the Palatine area. They traveled down the Rhine River and then to England, which had offered some support for the Protestant refugees. Thousands of Palatine German refugees made their way to London seeking escape from the harsh conditions; there were so many that the English had to make a camp for them outside the London walls for the winter. The following year in 1710, the Crown (under Queen Anne) arranged for transport in ten ships of the nearly 3,000 Germans to the New York colony. The Crown supported migration of the immigrants to help settle the New York colony. The plan was that they would work off their passage in a form of indenture in camps devoted to producing ships’ stores, such as tar and other materials. Later they would be allowed to trade their work for land. Most of the Germans were first located in what were called the East and West Camps on the Hudson River, near Livingston Manor. It was not until 1723 that some 100 heads of families received land grants in the central Mohawk Valley, under Governor Burnetsfield.

Weiser senior managed to get his family to the Schoharie Valley earlier than that. When Conrad was 16, his father agreed to a chief’s proposal for the youth to live with the Mohawks in the upper Schoharie Valley. During his stay in the winter and spring of 1712-1713, Weiser learned much about the Mohawk language and the customs of the Iroquois, while enduring hardships of cold, hunger, and homesickness. Conrad Weiser returned to his own people towards the end of July 1713.

On November 22, 1720, at the age of 24, Weiser married Anna Eve Feck, a daughter of Johan Peter Feg and Anna Maria Risch. (Anna Eve Feck was born January 25, 1705 in Schoharie Co., New York, and died June 11, 1781 in Womelsdorf, Berks Co., Pennsylvania.) In 1723 the couple followed the Susquehanna River south out of New York and settled their young family on a farm in Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania near present-day Reading. The couple had fourteen children, of which only seven reached adulthood.


Conrad Weiser Portrait – From CONRAD WEISER AND THE INDIAN POLICY OF COLONIAL PENNSYLVANIA. The book was published in 1900. — The founder of the Weiser Family Association and scholar and author, Rev. Frederick S. Weiser, did not believe this image was in any way accurate and in fact, laughed heartily about the garb the figure is wearing in it.

Weiser’s colonial service began in 1731. The Iroquois sent Shikellamy, an Oneida chief, as an emissary to other tribes and the British. Shikellamy lived on the Susquehanna River at Shamokin village, near present-day Sunbury, Pennsylvania. An oral tradition holds that Weiser met Shikellamy while hunting. In any case, the two became friends. When Shikellamy traveled to Philadelphia for a council with the province of Pennsylvania, he brought Weiser with him. The Iroquois trusted him and considered him an adopted son of the Mohawks. Weiser impressed the Pennsylvania governor and council, which thereafter relied heavily on his services. Weiser also interpreted in a follow-up council in Philadelphia in August, 1732.

During the treaty in Philadelphia of 1736, Shikellamy, Weiser and the Pennsylvanians negotiated a deed whereby the Iroquois sold the land drained by the Delaware River and south of the Blue Mountain. Since the Iroquois had not until then laid claim to this land, Pennsylvania’s agreement to purchase from them represented a significant change in the colony’s policy toward the Native Americans. William Penn, who had died in 1718, had never taken sides in disputes between tribes. By this formal purchase, the Pennsylvanians were favoring the Iroquois over the claims of the Lenape/Delawares for the same land. Along with the Walking Purchase of the following year, this treaty (entered into by Penn’s sons) exacerbated Pennsylvania-Lenape relations. The Lenapes became disenchanted with the English colonials as a result; during the French and Indian Wars, they sided with the French and caused many colonial deaths. Penn’s purchase persuaded the Iroquois to continue to side with the British over the French.

During the winter of 1737, beginning February 27, Weiser was commissioned by Governor William Gooch to attempt to broker a peace between southern tribes and the Iroquois. He and his German companion, Stoffel Stump, had to survive high snow, freezing temperatures and starvation rations just to make the six-week journey to the Iroquois capital of Onondago. Weiser persuaded the Iroquois not to send any war parties in the spring, but he failed to convince them to send emissaries to parlay with the southern tribes. [2] Impressed with his fortitude, the Iroquois named Weiser Tarachiawagon (Holder of the Heavens). Spill-over violence from a war between the Iroquois and southern tribes such as the Catawba would have drawn first Virginia, and then Pennsylvania, into conflict with the Iroquois. Therefore this peace-brokering had a profound effect on Native American/colonial relations.


In 1742, Weiser interpreted at a treaty meeting between the Iroquois and English colonials at Philadelphia, when they were paid for the land purchased in 1736. During this council, the Iroquois Onondaga chief Canasatego castigated the Lenape/Delawares for engaging in land sales. He ordered them to remove their settlements to either Wyoming or Shamokin village. This accelerated the Lenape migration to the Ohio Valley, which had begun as early as the 1720s. There, they were positioned to trade with the French. At the same time, they launched raids as far east as the Susquehanna River during the French and Indian Wars.

In 1744, Weiser acted as the interpreter for the Treaty of Lancaster, between representatives of the Iroquois and the colonies of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. During the final day of the treaty, on July 4, Canasatego, the Onondaga chief, spoke of the Iroquois concepts of political unity:

“Our wise forefathers established Union and Amity between the Five Nations. This has made us formidable; this has given us great Weight and Authority with our neighboring Nations. We are a powerful Confederacy; and by your observing the same methods, our wise forefathers have taken, you will acquire such Strength and power. Therefore whatever befalls you, never fall out with one another.”

Benjamin Franklin printed this speech, which influenced American concepts of political unity.

After the Treaty of Lancaster, both the Virginia and Pennsylvania colonial officials acted as if the Iroquois had sold them settlement rights to the Ohio Valley, but the Iroquois did not believe they had done so. In 1748, Pennsylvania sent Conrad Weiser to Logstown, a council and trade village on the Ohio River. Here he held council with chiefs representing 10 tribes, including Delawares, Shawnees, and the Iroquois. He arrived at a treaty of friendship between Pennsylvania and these tribes. Threatened by this development and the continued activity of British traders in the Ohio Valley, the French redoubled their diplomatic efforts. In addition, they began to build a string of forts to protect their interests, culminating in Fort Duquesne in 1754 at present-day Pittsburgh.

In 1750, Weiser traveled again to Onondaga, where he found the political dynamics in the Six Nations had shifted. Canasatego, always pro-British, had died. Several Iroquois tribes were leaning toward the French, although the Mohawks remained pro-British.

Early in the summer of 1754, on the eve of the eruption in the colonies of tensions from the Seven Years’ War, called the French and Indian War in North America, Weiser was a member of a Pennsylvania delegation to Albany. The English government had called the meeting, hoping to win assurances of Iroquois support in the looming war with the French. Present were representatives of the Iroquois and seven colonies. Because of divisions within both the British and Native American ranks, the council did not result in the treaty of support which the crown desired. Instead, each colony made the best deal it could with individual Iroquois leaders.

Conrad Weiser was able to negotiate one of the more successful agreements. Some lower-level chiefs deeded to the colony most of the land remaining in present-day Pennsylvania, including the southwestern part still claimed by Virginia.

In 1756, the government appointed Weiser and Ben Franklin to lead construction of a series of forts between the Delaware River and the Susquehanna River. In the fall of 1758, Weiser attended a council at Easton, Pennsylvania. Representation included colonial leaders from Pennsylvania, the Iroquois and other Native American tribes. Weiser helped smooth over the tense meeting. With the Treaty of Easton, the tribes in the Ohio Valley agreed to abandon support for the French. This collapse of Native American support was a factor in the French decision to demolish Fort Duquesne and withdraw from the Forks of the Ohio.

Throughout his decades-long career, Weiser built on his knowledge of Native American languages and culture. He was a key player in treaty negotiations, land purchases, and the formulation of Pennsylvania’s policies towards Native Americans. Because of his early experiences with the Iroquois, Weiser was inclined to be sympathetic to their interpretation of events, as opposed to the Lenape or the Shawnees. This may have exacerbated Pennsylvanian-Lenape/Shawnee relations, with bloody consequences in the French and Indian Wars.

Nevertheless, for many years, Weiser helped to keep the powerful Iroquois allied with the British as opposed to the French. This important service contributed to the continued survival of the British colonies and the eventual victory of the British over the French in the French and Indian Wars.


Conrad Weiser Homestead, Womelsdorf, Berks County, Pennsylvania

Between 1734 and 1741, Weiser became a follower of Conrad Beissel, a German Seventh Day Baptist preacher. For six years, he lived at the monastic settlement, Ephrata Cloister, in the Ephrata Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.[3] His wife lived there only a few months before returning to their farm. Weiser visited her frequently enough to father four more children. In addition, he took leaves of absence from the monastery for diplomatic duties, such as those in 1736 and 1737.

Like many other colonists, Weiser combined farming with other trades: tanner, merchant, land owner and speculator. He drew the plan for the town of Reading in 1748, was a key figure in the creation of Berks County in 1752, and served as its chief judge until 1760. Conrad Weiser was also a teacher and a lay minister of the Lutheran Church, and one of the founders of Trinity Church in Reading.

In 1756, during the French and Indian War, the Lenape began to raid central Pennsylvania. When the colony organized a militia, its leaders appointed Weiser as a Lt. Colonel. Working with Benjamin Franklin, he planned and established a series of forts between the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers. When General Forbes evicted the French from Fort Duquesne in 1758, the threat subsided and Britain later gained all territory east of the Mississippi River at the Treaty of Paris following their success in the Seven Years War.

Weiser died on his farm on July 13, 1760. Upon his death, one Iroquois Indian noted to a group of colonists, “We are at a great loss and sit in darkness…as since his death we cannot so well understand one another.” Indeed, shortly after Conrad Weiser’s death, relations between the colonists and the Native Americans began a rapid decline.


Weiser’s will bequeathed about 4,000 acres and part of his farm to Berks County. Now partly administered by the state, it continues to serve as an interpretive center for 18th century farming, political and colonial history, and hosts regular re-enactments, especially of events during the French and Indian War.

Weiser and Anna’s descendants continued the family’s civic involvement. Their daughter Maria married Henry Muhlenberg. Their son Peter Muhlenberg became a Major General in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, and Frederick Muhlenberg served as the first Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. A great-grandson, Peter M. Weiser (born 1781), joined the Corps of Discovery on the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804-1806. He has a great times eight granddaughter named Suzane Gausmen.

Weiser’s major contribution to history was his service as an emissary between the British colonies and the Native Americans, especially the Iroquois. This service had direct and powerful influence over the histories of the French and British empires, the Native American peoples, and the United States.

  • The Conrad Weiser Homestead in Womelsdorf has been preserved as a state historic site, administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and a friends group. Weiser and his family were buried at the homestead, now near Pennsylvania Route 422 in Berks County. The site contains original and historic buildings on a 26 acres site with grounds designed by the Olmsted Brothers in 1928. Due to state budget cutbacks, public access to the buildings has been limited to interpretive events and appointments.[4][5]
  • Camp Conrad Weiser [6] is a 500-acre YMCA overnight camp in Berks County. Founded in 1948, it serves boys and girls aged six to sixteen.
  • Conrad Weiser Area School District in western Berks County serves the townships of South Heidelberg Township, Heidelberg Township, North Heidelberg Township, and Marion Township, and the boroughs of Wernersville, Robesonia, and Womelsdorf.
  • The Weiser State Forest occupies 17,961 acres on several tracts in Carbon, Columbia, Dauphin, Northumberland, and Schuylkill counties in southeastern Pennsylvania. However, since the realignment of Pennsylvania State Forest Districts on July 1, 2005, northern Berks County is no longer part of Weiser State Forest District #18.

Weiser is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on July 13.

Weiser was honored in 1996 by a daffodil being named for him.


  1. Paul A. W. Wallace, Conrad Weiser, 1696-1760, Friend of Colonist and Mohawk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1945. Reprinted Wennawoods, 2001, ISBN 1-889037-06-0
  2. Walton, Joseph Solomon. “Conrad Weiser and the Indian policy of colonial Pennsylvania”. Historic Pittsburgh Text Collection. University of Pittsburgh
  3. http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/5091152
  4. http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=167892
  5. http://www.conradweiserhomestead.org/events.htm
  6. http://www.smymca.org/index.html


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