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Thursday, February 23, 2012


(Continued from January 24, 2012)

We left James Stuart a few weeks ago enjoying his haggis in a Nassau Street tavern. As September 1829 drew to a close, wanderlust once again caught him up and he left Westchester, heading north a third time. He'd made the previous trips by steamboat, thereby missing many of the communities along the way. "I set about preparing for our expedition. The hacks or hackney-coaches of New York are admirably suited for such an expedition as this. They are light, some of them not above 1100 pounds weight, the roof being supported upon a metal frame. Curtains are let down in a moment in case of rain, or for protection from the sun."

Stuart took his wife along this time. Departing from New Rochelle they boarded a hack owned by a Hugh Duffie and set off across Westchester County. Since Stuart doesn't mention passing through Yonkers or White Plains they probably headed straight northwest, hitting the Hudson River south of Tarrytown. Stuart will later recount the story of the capture of Major Andre here at Tarrytown during the American Revolution - his sympathies naturally enough with Andre. The Stuarts didn't tarry in Tarrytown (Sorry!!) but pushed on to Sing-Sing, where Stuart, an avid student of penal systems, notes that the 480-foot-long facility is still not completely finished, the prisoners being put to work all day hewing rock and finishing walls. The main cell building must have looked familiar, having been modeled by architect John Carpenter after one wing of Auburn Prison, which Stuart toured last year. Although the town of Ossining would not be incorporated for another sixteen years, a small community must have already grown up around the prison, for Stuart mentions stopping in at a local bookseller. It wasn't just idle curiosity, he was looking for a copy of this year's annual report on Auburn Prison, required by law for all state penal installations. The bookseller has none in stock but since Stuart mentioned he's on his way to Albany, he should be able to pick up a copy from the secretary of state's office in the capital.

The party pushes on, crossing the Croton River at Van Cortlandt Manor. "We proceeded in the evening to a second rate hotel, near the village of Croton, kept by civil people, of the name of Macleod". Apart from the manor house there would have been little else there except for a Quaker meeting house and a few mills and brickyards. After a simple supper Mrs. Macleod brought in her son and two daughters to see the strangers. The Stuarts found them to be quite well-educated, with the eldest daughter well-versed in geography.

The next day, after a hearty breakfast they were on the road again, heading for Verplanck a few miles further up the Hudson. Stuart had seen the point of land that poked out into the river when he'd come this way by boat earlier and was anxious to check out the area. They soon passed onto private property, in order to get closer to the river, and eventually encountered a fork in the road. Puzzled as to which direction to take, they asked a group of hands spreading manure in a field from the back of a wagon for directions. It turned out that the driver was one of the Verplancks, owner of extensive lands on both sides of the river. Stuart was surprised. He'd expect landowners out in the west to work out in the fields along with their hired hands, but not here in the settled east. Stuart was relieved that Verplanck had the extreme good taste to avoid discomforting his visitor and, "made no allusion whatever to the employment in which we found him engaged". Some things gentlemen just do not discuss.

Thursday, February 16, 2012




The Middlesex County, New Jersey, Committee of Observations counsels all patriots to live frugally and avoid any materials printed by New York City Loyalist printer James Rivington. ** The HMS Kingfisher ties up in Turtle Bay. Admiral Graves advises captains to stay moored away from piers, to discourage the desertion of crews.


Current expenditures for New York City's water system reach £2,400.

Feb 2

A subcommittee of the Congressional Association in New York City prevents the unloading of cargo from Glasgow, Scotland,aboard the ship James.

Feb 10

A metal cylinder is cast by the New York Air Furnace company to serve as the boiler for New York City's planned water system.

Apr 7

Eliza Bowen (later Madame Jumel) is born in Providence, Rhode Island, to prostitute Phebe Kelley Bowen and her sailor lover.

Apr 21

Wood engraver Alexander Anderson is born to printer John Anderson and his wife Mary.


The Jackie of Glasgow leaves Stranraer, Scotland, with 81 passengers aboard, bound for New York colony. ** The Reverend Myles Cooper, president of New York City’s Kings college and a Tory pamphleteer, is forced to flee his home when confronted with a mob.

May 23

A provincial congress meets in New York City to oppose the Tory party in the colony.

Jun 8

Commissioners of the Scots American Company leave New York City to explore lands to the north.

Jul 2

Captain John Hulbert’s company (of the Third New York Regiment, commanded by Colonel James Clinton) is formed, in front of the church at Bridgehampton, Long Island. The service is performed by Deacon David Hedges. Ninety-one men then enlist.

Sep 7

Captain John Hulbert’s company (of the Third New York Regiment, leaves Montauk, Long Island, heads for New York City.

Sep 28

Colonel Alexander McDougall writes to Hulbert at lower Manhattan, informing him he should take his men to Haverstrw, pick up any deserters, then proceed to Albany to join forces heading to Ticonderoga.


The population reaches 25,000. ** German butcher Heinrich Astor, older brother of John Jacob Astor, arrives aboard a Royal Navy warship. ** The Society of Friends (Quakers) build a meeting house on Pearl Street. ** Court of Chancery examiner Richard Nicholls dies in New York City. ** Samuel Fraunces attempts to sell his lower Manhattan tavern. When he receives no encouragement he decides to continue operating it, and will do so through the Revolution. ** John Cox builds a tavern in the Kingsbridge section of the West Bronx.



Colonel Heard of the New Jersey forces arrives in New York State’s Queens County by order of Congress, to compel Loyalists to yield their arms; the ringleaders cannot be located. ** New York's council orders another issue of waterworks banknotes, in the amount of £2,000.

Jan 6

New York City agrees to finance a water system designed by Christopher Colles.


New York City mayor Whitehead Hicks and other Loyalists leave the city.


New York's council orders yet another, and final, issue of waterworks banknotes in the amount of £2,000.

Mar 4

Christopher Colles gives the first public demonstrations of the pumping engine of the new waterworks, continues for the rest of the week.

Apr 13

Washington begins moving his troops to New York City to keep General Howe away.

Apr 20

Newly arrived in New York City, Harvard-educated surgeon Isaac Bangs, part of a Massachusetts militia company, visits the Colles waterworks.


Engine designer Josiah Hornblower is hired, at a fee of £12, to file a report, since lost, on the New York waterworks.


New York City’s public records, kept in the office of the Provincial Secretary, are removed to Kingston, New York, for safekeeping. At some point in the year many records will also be hidden in the original family burial plot of the Van Cortlandt family by clerk Augustus Van Cortlandt, at Vault Hill, in today’s Van Cortlandt Park.

Jun 27

Thomas Hickey, one of George Washington's guards, is hanged in New York City for plotting to poison Washington, becoming the first person to be executed by the U. S. Army. The plot had been uncovered when Phoebe Fraunces overheard Hickey plotting while dining in her father’s tavern and alerted authorities.

Jun 29

General William Howe and his brother, Vice Admiral Richard Howe, arrive at Graves End off Staten Island, in New York Bay, with a fleet of 88 frigates. American guns, facing the wrong way, prove useless. ** The Lord Hyde arrives off Staten Island. While Guy Johnson stays aboard with messages for William Howe, Tice and Brant go ashore, a disguised Tice to head for Fort Niagara with dispatches for John Butler, Brant for the Mohawk Valley to rally the Indians to the British cause.

Jun 30

General Howe disembarks his troops.

Jul 4

American forces fire from the heights (in the area overlooking the Narrows at today’s Fort Hamilton area of Brooklyn) on the British ship HMS Asia, which returns fire, damaging several homes. Thousands of British troops are ferried to Gravesend Bay to the south, where they begin making their way north through the Bay Ridge area and into the main section of Brooklyn.

© 2010 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Jul 9

The equestrian statue of King George III in New York City's Bowling Green is toppled by citizens gathered to hear the reading of the Declaration.

Jul 10

Orders are issued for one New York brigade to be ready to march tomorrow. Rumors say it’s for an attack on Staten Island.

Jul 11

The Declaration of Independence is published by New York's Packet and Journal and Annapolis' Gazette.

Jul 12

Vice Admiral Howe arrives east of Staten Island aboard the Eagle with 150 transports of reinforcements, raising the total British forces to 32,000. The arrivals learn of the colonies’ independence declaration. The Phoenix and the Rose run past the shore batteries and get north of Manhattan.

Jul 16

The Americans refuse a flag of truce from General Howe. British army officer John Blennerhasset is killed by a U. S. sniper.

Jul 20

Another flag of truce is sent by the British. Ambrose Serle, diarist and private secretary to Admiral Howe reads Tom Paine’s Common Sense, believing the unsigned piece was written by John Adams, calls it, “replete with Sophistry, Impudence& Falsehood...”.

Jul 21

Seven British transports arrive in New York harbor, carrying close to 900 Highlander troops, after a 12-week passage from Greenock, Scotland. Americans fire upon a British vessel from the New Jersey shore but do no serious damage.

Jul 22

A black deserter out of New York City tells the British anchored in the harbor the troops back in Manhattan have lost six men, that they are very discouraged. A very hot day.

Jul 23

Tryon visits the British fleet. Serle and the ship’s chaplain visit Staten Island in the evening, meet fleeing Loyalists.


David Bushnell’s prototype submarine American Turtle penetrates the British fleet in New York harbor but his operator Ezra Lee fails to attach his bomb to an enemy ship.

Aug 1

Sir Henry Clinton's forces join those of General Howe on Staten Island after arriving from Charles Town.

Aug 11

One or two new British ships arrive at New York. A fleet of fifty vessels arrives at New Jersey's Sandy Hook.

Aug 12

Further British vessels arrive off Sandy Hook.

Aug 22

General Howe moves 20,000 troops from Staten Island to Brooklyn. Americans at Fort Defiance, on Red Hook Point, as well as troops at Gowanus’s Old Stone House, fire on his ships, preventing them from proceeding further up the East River.

Aug 25

General Howe moves around behind Washington's forces on Brooklyn Heights.

Aug 26

With winds subsiding Admiral Howe is able to sail most of his fleet up the Hudson, outflanking Washington’s forces.

Aug 27

The Battle of Long Island begins. Washington's army, under Israel Putnam, Sullivan and William Alexander (claimant to the disputed title Earl of Stirling), is defeated, despite Alexander’s six assaults against British troops, two of them successful. The Old Stone House in Gowanus is the center of much of the action.

Aug 29

Without the knowledge of the British, Washington withdraws his army from Fulton Ferry Landing to Manhattan. Fort Defiance, on Brooklyn’s Red Hook Point, and soldiers in the Old Stone House in Gowanus, covers Washington’s escape in the darkness, under fog.


The New York State Convention requests that Washington remove all public bells and move them to New Jersey for safe keeping from the British seeking materials for casting cannon. ** Washington writes from Harlem Heights to general Hugh Mercer in New Jersey, directing him to set up an intelligence network to monitor the movements of Admiral Howe’s ships. ** Congress authorizes replacing the phrase “United Colonies” with “United States” in all American commissions and authorizes Washington to abandon New York City if necessary. ** Washington’s Council of War begins recommending evacuation of New York City.

Sep 6

A peace conference is held at the Tottenville home of Loyalist Colonel Thomas Billopp, on Staten Island. General Howe demands the Declaration of Independence be revoked; the American commissioners - .John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Rutledge - refuse.

Sep 12

Washington decides to evacuate New York City, begins moving troops north.

Sep 15

The British land at Kips Bay, on the eastern shore of Manhattan. Washington retreats to Harlem Heights. A brief shower interrupts the month’s dry spell.

Sep 16

Washington repulses General Howe at Harlem Heights. The battle delays the British advance.

Sep 20

Scottish-born physician-politician Cadwallader Colden dies of natural causes at his Springhill home near Flushing on New York's Long Island at the age of 88.

Sep 21

Fire sweeps New York City, destroying 300 buildings, nearly a quarter of those in the city, including Trinity Church. Nathan Hale is arrested by the British.

Sep 22

Nathan Hale is hanged as a spy by the British, in New York City.

Oct 12

Clinton takes his forces through Hell Gate to Throg’s Neck, Long Island, escorted by the HMS Craysfort.

Oct 18

The British advance out of New York, transferred from Throg’s Neck, is delayed by a defense at Pell's Point by the 14th Continental regiment lead by Colonel John Glover, mostly of Marblehead, Massachusetts, which stalls British forces, taking heavy losses, but allowing Washington time to retreat out of the area.

Oct 23

Washington evacuates Manhattan, marches toward White Plains.


Lord Germain writes from London to Vice Admiral Howe, praising him for his success in New York.

Nov 16

General Howe and 13,000 troops capture 2,818 Americans at Fort Washington.


Washington begins strengthening the city’s fortifications early in the summer, fortifying Manhattan, Governor’s Island, Red Hook, and Brooklyn Heights, as well as areas of New Jersey. ** David Matthews is appointed mayor for the next nine one-year terms. ** Merchant and former British officer Sidney Breese, grandfather of telegraph inventor Samuel Finley Breese Morse, is buried in Trinity churchyard. ** The cost of the engine for New York City's planned water system, now in operation, has risen to £1,500. ** Troops skirmish near McGown's Pass in Harlem. ** Tanner Hugh Hughes is named deputy quartermaster general for the Continental army for the New York district and given the rank of colonel. ** The New York Hospital is founded. ** Hugh Gaine, printer/publisher of New York City’s New York Mercury, moves his operation from Hanover Square to rebel-controlled Newark, New Jersey, where he soon begins publishing the New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury.


The British begin construction on Fort Number 8, in Fordham. ** The British plunder City Island, home to the patriot Palmer family.


Fort Greene (named for patriot general Nathaniel Greene) is built by him.

© 2012 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Below is the announcement for the Canal Society’s Winter Meeting

Further information, including pre-registration procedures

may be found at the Society’s web page

pre-registration forms are due by February 22nd


announces its

Winter Symposium &


Saturday, March 3,


All events located in:

Warshof Conference Center, Room Monroe A & B

(Enter through lobby at northeast corner of Building 3)

Brighton Campus, Monroe Community College

1000 East Henrietta Road, Rochester, NY 14623

Parking: Lot M, Center Road


8:00 A.M - 8:40 A.M. Registration Coffee, Continental Breakfast

8:45 A.M. - 9:30 A.M. The Canal Corridor: Today’s Canal Structures Survey and Interpreting Yesterday’s History
Duncan Hay, PhD, National Park Service and Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission Historian

Boston, MA

9:30 A.M. - 10:15 A.M. Panama Canal Exploration Preview

Thomas X. Grasso, President, Canal Society of NYS

Pittsford, NY

David Wahl, Member, Board of Directors, CSNYS

East Aurora, NY

10:15 A.M. – 10:30 A.M. Coffee Break

10:30 A.M.– 11:15 A.M. A Video Oral History of the Erie Canal

Daniel Franklin Ward, PhD, Curator, The Erie Canal Museum

Syracuse, NY

11:15 A.M. – 11:45 Stormy Weather: Miracle on the Mohawk

Brian Stratton, Director, NYS Canal Corporation

Schenectady, NY

11:45 A.M. – 12:30 P.M. Lunch Soup, Pasta, Sandwiches,
Coffee, Soft Drinks, and Brownies

12:30 P.M. – 1:15 P.M. Canalway Trail Update

John DiMura, NYS Canal Corporation Trails


Albany, NY

1:15 P.M. – 2:00 P.M. Highlights From the Madden Canal Photographic Collection

[Can You Name That Canal Location?]

William Schollenberger, Civil Engineer,
NYS Canal Corporation, Retired

Albany, NY

2:00 P.M. – 2:45 P.M. The Canals and Inland Waterways of Belgium

CSNYS/IWI Tour—October 3 to 15, 2012

Thomas X. Grasso, President, CSNYS

Pittsford, NY

2:45 P.M. – 3:30 P.M. CSNYS Annual Meeting and Reports,
Announcements & Discussion