Posts Tagged ‘Loyalist’

American Archives, the Manuscript and Book Collection of Peter Force, (1790-1868.)


Peter Force was a 19th-century politician, newspaper editor, archivist, and historian.

Born near the Passaic Falls in New Jersey, to William and Sarah (Ferguson) Force.

His greatest achievement came as a collector and editor of historical documents. He published Tracts and Other Papers, Relating Principally to the Origin, Settlement, and Progress of the Colonies in North America.

His American Archives was a collection of the most important documents of the American Revolution, 1774–1776. 9 volumes were published between 1837 and 1853. Force’s lifelong desire to establish an American national library finally came to fruition in 1867 when Congress purchased his own collection of original documents for $100,000 to found the Library of Congress.

Force died January 23, 1868 at the age of 77. His son, Manning Force, was an officer during the American Civil War.

(source – wikipedia – Peter Force)


To the readers of the Upstate New York Genealogy Blog;

I have a personal story abut this collection that goes back many years in my own genealogy research. My mother’s direct line 4th great grandparents were Seth Chase and Sarah (MILK) CHASE, of Little White Creek (Cambridge District, Albany County, New York.)

Seth CHASE was a Loyalist, a Quaker, and a Tavern Keeper in Little White Creek. His home/tavern was immediately the first farm north of the Battle of Bennington battlefield in the town of Hoosick, Rensselaer County. His house still exists and I have been all through it through the courtesy of the present owners. It is located on Cobble Hill Road south of the hamlet of White Creek adjacent to the town of Hoosick border.

About 25 or so years ago I was at the library in Cornell University and I came across a transcription description of Seth’s arrest in 1776 by the Americans, and being excited did not cite the exact reference. All I remembered when I went back later was that it was in a large book which was part of a multi-volume set. See boys and girls, cite your sources!

Well it turns out that Cornell has since put their set of this collection of transcribed manuscript records in their Kroch Rare Books and Manuscripts Department. Earlier today I was in discussion with another researcher friend, Deanna Smith, and I was reminded of this collection so set about locating it in today’s wonderful digital world.

Found it! Thanks to I found the title “American Archives” by Peter Force, and then wonder of wonders, the whole collection is digitized and online at the University of Northern Illinois.

What follows is just a snippet from the manuscript testimony of the two men that gave evidence against Seth CHASE:

The Deposition of Captain Isaac Peabody, of lawful age, being duly sworn, saith: That on Sunday morning, the 13th instant, he returned to the house of Seth Chase, in Little White Creek. I asked Mr. Chase if he had seen any of our Kinderhook friends the night past. He answered, no. I told him I wanted to see Mr. Hughs, the man we discoursed with last night in the road. He then told me Mr. Hough told him the discourse he had with us, and that Mr. Hough knew no more of the plan than what he had communicated to him. I asked him if he had for certain that Burgoyne with his Army was coming round the lakes? ….

The page further saith, that the people of Arlington had made such preparations for their march, that they could not forego it without being discovered; therefore, would march to-night. Mr. Chase then said, the people of White Creek are secure, they would not march till further order from Colonel Man. He likewise said, that Colonel Man had twelve fat oxen for the purpose of victualling the friends of Government on their march to join the King’s Army. And others had several more cattle for the same purpose. I then asked him to direct me to a plan whereby our Kinderhook friends could get safe to the King’s Army.

He then told me that Colonel Man had given countersigns at two places, and if these countersigns could be conveyed to your friends, they can pass safe, and get all intelligence necessary. He then spoke to his wife to bring him a paper, on which she immediately came to us and takes a paper out of her bosom and gave it to her husband, and he handed it to me, saying, Now I give you my life. I took the paper and read it to be this: “At Landlord Northrop’s the countersign is Tryon; and at Jacob Lansing’s Ferry, the countersign is Burgoyne.” I told him for fear I should make a mistake in these countersigns, I would write them down. Then wrote them down. He then said that upon giving these countersigns out at these two places, we could be secreted, have provisions, or be helped on our way, or any thing we desired to forward.

He further said, that Simon Covill was a good friend to Government, and that I might not be afraid of him; he further said, that his house was a place where Colonel Man’s page came for entertainment, and to bring news to the friends to Government.
Bennington, October 14, 1776.


Seth was arrested and put in jail for 14 days in Albany, then with many other prisoners was marched to Exeter, New Hampshire, to be banished to stay within the gaol limits of the town of Exeter for one year. At the end of the year he was allowed to return to his home and he also was allowed to keep his property.

As I said, I have been in that house where this event happened and I have this image burned in my mind of my fifth great grandmother pulling the secret password code out of her bosom.

Damn, I love history!

I encourage you all to search through these marvelous original documents that are online. There is just a world of exciting finds to be made!

American Archives – Peter Force

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Revolutionary War – Patriot or Loyalist?

Was your Revolutionary War Ancestor a Patriot or Loyalist?

Up until now it has been my opinion that most men of fighting age during the Revolutionary War took one side or the other. Of course I would have presumed that there might be a few exceptions, but I’m talking about the masses here.

Well to my amazement I came across a posting on the New Jersey rootsweb mail list, of a message that was posted by a very nice lady in Delaware regarding this subject. OK – so you are thinking “What does this have to do with Upstate New York Genealogy”?

Well if it is true, and I suspect that there will likely be a broad variance of opinions by many historians, then it will be something for Upstate New York researchers as well as historians and genealogists everywhere.

The best way to present this is to show you my correspondence with the original writer. (She has kindly given me permission to do so.)

[from] unyg
[to] Delaware Dolores,

Reading the New Jersey mail list I just came across a posting of your reply to a another person about revolutionary war ancestors and read with amazement the following statement:

Even if “able bodied,” only about one man in eight was actually a Patriot soldier in 1776, at the highpoint of the War — then only half that percentage in the War’s later years. These are estimates made in The Beards’ New Basic History of the United States.

I would like your permission to use that quote in a Blog on my website and perhaps to toss it out to the Rev War and some other mail lists.

It just about floored me! I just presumed (not a good thing to do) that ALL men of fighting age either served on one side or the other.

I have always used this thought when researching a rev war era family. If the Beard’s statement proves correct, and I am of no opinion either way, then I think it will help family history researchers of all stripe.

Thank you for posting it, I must purchase a copy of Beard’s, can’t believe I don’t have one already.


Delaware Dolores responds:

I have the 1960 version of the book. It sounds as if the 1944 version would be just as good, for the Revolutionary War years. The 1944 book (without the New in the title) is by Charles and Mary Beard. Then the son, William (Ph.D.) added to his parents’ research, particularly by portraying the 1944-60 time period.

I was paraphrasing below, but the basic facts come from page 121. On page 117, it tells of how “hundreds of militiamen insisted on quitting as soon as their terms of service were over, no matter how grave the danger to the American cause and despite the pleas of their officers.”

This reality caused Gen. Washington to repeatedly beg the Congress to fund a regular Army, until they finally agreed to grant extra pay to officers and long-term soldiers in the final years of the War. It seems that a movie I’ve seen shows how delayed this support was.

To be fair, the Beards’ “one in 8″ estimates refer to numbers serving at a given time, rather than the bottom-line totals who at least served one brief term.

I live west of Dover Del. but am from South Jersey. I’m on a committee planning a 2-day Revolutionary War-focused event in Greenwich NJ, for Sept. 27 and 28. I belong to one Revo. List already, and believe I posted that same info on there.

Why not just add me to the general Blog? I’d then like to get on all known Revo-focused lists with an announcement about Sept. 27 and 28 — not only as a festival to possibly attend, but conceivably participate in, via reenactments, drama, dance, music, or artisan demo/sales.

Dolores may be reached at:


So let’s toss this out to readers of the Upstate New York Genealogy Blog.

What is your opinion? Are we searching for military records in Patriot and Loyalist collections everywhere with only a slim margin of success?

Do you have any opinions on the Beards’ historical writings? Are they reliable? Did they have an agenda to warp history? I have no idea or opinion, but I would love to hear what you readers think.

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