Tag: American Revolution

Rockin’ Through the Decades

History is often where you find it, sometimes even in old rocking chairs!

The story of this rocking chair essentially begins with the Barringer family for whom Barringer Road in Ilion, NY is named. The Barringers were one of Ilion’s wealthier families and lived in a mansion in the village of Ilion. They also owned a dairy farm out on Barringer Road. I assume the road was named Barringer Road because of the farm. However, the Barringers were not farmers, so they hired a family to live on the farm and work it. My great grandparents, Irving and Kathryn Klippel, worked that farm for years.

In fact, during the depression, my great-grandfather, Irving Klippel, would save the butter milk left over from the process of making butter, and try to deliver it for free to poorer families in Ilion with young children. While some would thankfully accept it, others would not. Since it was essentially a by-product and was often fed to pigs, many were scared to give it to their children, which was too bad.

My grandfather, Erwin Klippel and his brother, Wagner, helped work the farm for many years. After my grandfather married Eileen Gardinier, they moved into a tiny house farther down Barringer Rd, and he eventually went to work for Remington Arms because he wanted a more steady paycheck to support his family than working the farm provided.

My great grandmother, Kathryn Klippel, received several pieces of furniture from the Barringers including a very nice hand-carved oak bed and dresser which my brother, Dan, has in a guest bedroom to this day (The few times I have slept in it over the years, I had to sleep diagonally across it, because, back in the day, people were a lot shorter. Another piece of furniture given to Kathryn Klippel by the Barringers was this old Queen Anne rocking chair.

A historic home

The house my Grandparents moved into on Barringer Rd was built in the 1700s, and survived the Revolutionary War. It was tiny but we still had many great family gatherings there for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We all got quite adept at maneuvering through tight, crowded areas. I remember fighting for a spot on the couch to watch football games with my grandfather. This was when I became a Vikings fan … it was the Fran Tarkington era!

This is a relatively current picture of the house, but it hasn’t changed much. My Grandfather and his brother, Great Uncle Wagner, rebuilt the stone fireplace with stones they hauled back from the Ilion Gorge. And back then, most of the houses currently found on Barringer Rd were not there. When my mother was a little girl and growing up there, it was surrounded by woods, fields, and a pond they would skate on on the winter when it froze over. When I came along and got old enough, we used to ride snowmobiles in the fields behind the house.

You can’t tell because of the tree, but the only real difference in the house today, is that there was once an old wooden “fan” pattern decoration over the front door that also dated back to the American Revolution. It was taken down by the family who purchased this house from my grandparents. I am sure by then it was pretty-well rotted and needed to come down. It is still a bit sad.

The Old Rocker

My mother always told me that my Aunt Carol once rocked me to sleep in this rocker when I was a baby. I guess Aunt Carol would have been in her teens at the time.

Years later, I held my very first baby in my arms, sitting in that very same rocking chair. I was maybe 10-or-12-years old at the time, and the baby was Aunt Carol’s daughter; my cousin Kristine.

This picture was taken in my grandparents house on Barringer Rd. I still remember the old rocking chair with this fabric. Over the years, it has been reupholstered a few times. I seem to remember a blue and gold pattern, maybe a red velvet, and the floral print it currently has.

The foot stool doesn’t match the rocking chair. I vaguely remember a foot stool that did go with the rocking chair, but I have no idea what became of it. The foot stool that is currently used with the rocking chair was made by my great Grandfather Gilbert, my father’s grandfather. But, that is a story for another day.

So, here you go, Joy. Just for you. One more picture of the rocking chair. And this time, I am smiling!

Did You Know About the Other Tea Party?

The Edenton Tea Party

the other tea party
A British cartoon satirizing the Edenton Tea Party women.

Not long ago I learned about another famous American Tea Party. However, it seems it is famous only to a relatively small group of people. On the way to  Elizabeth City, NC in northeastern North Carolina, I passed through a small town called Edenton.  I learned Edenton is famous for its own Revolutionary War era Tea Party. I had never heard of this. Therefore, I decided to do a little digging.

The Other Tea Party

The Edenton Tea Party …  a political protest organized in Edenton, North Carolina in 1774. Like the Boston Tea Party, it was in response to the Tea Act passed by the British Parliament in 1773. The Edenton Tea Party is a historic landmark event. Not because of the boycott on tea … such protests were happening all across the Thirteen Colonies. This tea party is most noteworthy because women organized it.

Meet Penelope Barker

Penelope Barker led a group of 51 women who met on October 25, 1774. These women wrote and signed a statement of protest, vowing to give up tea and boycott other British products.

In addition, Barker decided their protest should reach ears in England. Therefore, she sent a copy of the declaration to the British press. Penelope Barker stated:

Maybe it has only been men who have protested the king up to now. That only means we women have taken too long to let our voices be heard. We are signing our names to a document, not hiding ourselves behind costumes like the men in Boston did at their tea party. The British will know who we are.

The 51 Women

The Signers of the Declaration include: Abagail Charlton, Mary Blount, F. Johnstone, Elizabeth Creacy, Margaret Cathcart, Elizabeth Patterson, Anne Johnstone, Jane Wellwood, Margaret Pearson, Mary Woolard, Penelope Dawson, Sarah Beasley, Jean Blair, Susannah Vail, Grace Clayton, Elizabeth Vail, Frances Hall, Mary Jones, Mary Creacy, Anne Hall, Rebecca Bondfield, Ruth Benbury, Sarah Littlejohn, Sarah Howcott, Penelope Barker, Sarah Hoskins, Elizabeth P. Ormond, Mary Littledle, M. Payne, Sarah Valentine, Elizabeth Johnston, Elizabeth Crickett, Mary Bonner, Elizabeth Green, Lydia Bonner, Mary Ramsay, Sarah Howe, Anne Horniblow, Lydia Bennet, Mary Hunter, Marion Wells, Tresia Cunningham, Anne Anderson, Elizabeth Roberts, Sarah Mathews, Anne Haughton, and Elizabeth Beasly.

Historic Record

Finally, while many famous documents from the American Revolution exist in the united States, this petition survives only through British accounts. The text of the petition, and the list of signers, was printed in the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser on January 16, 1775. As a result, many Americans do not even know this Tea Party occurred.

The full text of the petition is as follows:

As we cannot be indifferent on any occasion that appears nearly to affect the peace and happiness of our country, and as it has been thought necessary, for the public good, to enter into several particular resolves by a meeting of Members deputed from the whole Province, it is a duty which we owe, not only to our near and dear connections who have concurred in them, but to ourselves who are essentially interested in their welfare, to do every thing as far as lies in our power to testify our sincere adherence to the same; and we do therefore accordingly subscribe this paper, as a witness of our fixed intention and solemn determination to do so.

 

 

Book Review: Drums Along the Mohawk by Walter D. Edmonds

Mohawk

I consider Drums Along the Mohawk to be one of the best classic historical novels about Upstate New York.  It ranks right up there with James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans.

First published in 1936, Drums Along the Mohawk stayed at number one on the best-sellers list for two years. Gone With the Wind, also published in 1936, finally replaced it.

The story takes place in the Mohawk Valley of Upstate New York during the Revolutionary War.  It is the story of brave pioneers who settled this early American frontier. Walter D. Edmonds centers his tale around the lives of Gilbert Martin and his young wife, Magdalena.  The newly married couple settle and begin farming in the remote village of Deerfield.

The Rumbling of War

Gil and Lana hear the rumblings of war from the east. It seems far away and since the young couple is busy just surviving,  they pay little attention to it. They have a home to build, land to clear and crops to plant.

Then a raiding party of Seneca warriors led by a Tory named Caldwell descends on their farm.  Only the timely warning by a friendly Oneida Indian called Blue Back allows them to escape the carnage.  The Raiders burn their cabin and their crops. The Raiders kill their livestock. The young couple must now also try to survive the devastation caused by the Revolutionary War.

 Iroquois Rampage

Mohawk Chief
Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant

Led by the Mohawk chief, Joseph Brant, the Iroquois sweep through the valley settlements. Aided by Tories like William Caldwell, the raiding parties leave charred cabins, burned crops, mutilated bodies, dead livestock and shattered dreams in their wake. The Raiders kill and scalp men, women and children   To the north, in Canada, the British pay eight pounds for each American settlers’ scalp lifted. The isolated settlements and their small militias defend themselves as best they can against the raiders. But, they are farmers, not soldiers. And, the savage raiders have them greatly outnumbered.

War Drums Along The  Mohawk Valley

This story is about heroes and patriots, a courageous people who fought back against impossible odds.  As a result, they helped give birth to a new American Nation.  The narrative is alive with such historical figures as General Herkimer, Adam Helmer, Doctor Petry, Peter Bellinger, Benedict Arnold and William Caldwell.  There is mention of an ancestor of mine, Jacob Gardinier who fought heroically at the Battle of Oriskany.

Personal History

Adam Helmer Mohawk Valley

I greatly enjoyed reading this novel because of my  Mohawk Valley roots. Many of my ancestors were born in Herkimer, previously known as German Flatts.  I listened to tales of Adam Helmer’s famous race against with the raiding Indians.  General Herkimer, Jacob Gardinier, Fort Dayton and Fort Stanwix were names and places I knew as a child.  I played along the Mohawk River,  the Susquehanna River, and the West Canada Creek and I am who I am as a result, in part, because of these tales.

This is definitely a book I recommend all Americans should read. I give it 5 Stars.