Foote Family Papers–before 1790

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Foote Letters and Papers


The Revolutionary Era

Ebenezer or Charles Foote wore this signet ring with a likeness of the Classically Roman Washington.

"From Captain Trotter, Brigade Major, with Guard for cattle," Monday Evening 2d Jan'y 1780 [6]:

Dr Sir. I had this day, previous to the receipt of yours, Ordered One Corporal and Six privates to Crom- pond, to be under your direction, as I thought you had that number there, and indeed informed the General you had,—they have seven days provisions with them, and mean to furnish you with that number untill countermanded,—beg you will not detain the men you have, as Constant duty is apt to create inattentiveness. I shall think myself extremely happy in your company and that of your lady on thursday next to dine, and give you a friendly Camp dinner,— wish I had it in my power furnish you with fare more delicate, but in our present situation, I think apologies needless. I am Dr
Sir with the warmest Sentiments of Friendship, Your most Obedient Hble Servant, John Trotter.

  • During 1780 Captain Foote was raised from the rank of captain to that of major—still with Crompond as his headquarters—until the unit to which he belonged was disbanded in 1782, pursuant to the gradual dismemberment of the army taking place after the formal acknowledgement of our independence by England which, it will be remembered, took place in 1781, though New York was not evacuated until 1783, and Irving tells us that it was not until 1785 that matters were in a very settled condition, notwithstanding the restlessness of the troops eager to get back to their homes and families.
I am putting capitals and spelling as I find them, both a matter of uncertainty in the early days, even with people of culture and station; history tells us and we know that many words obsolete now were considered in good form then.

Letter from Caleb Swan, West Point, to Ebenezer Foote, 6th January 1780

Dr. Sir. I have had the misfortune to loose thirteen head of the last drove Cattle which I had of you, if they have gone back to Crompond, likely some of your men have taken them up, if they have, or Should hereafter find any of them;—by Securing them till I can get them again you'll Greatly Oblige your Very Obedient Hum'le Servant, Caleb Swan, A.C. Issues.

  • In the next we hear something of Mr. Swan's cattle, a little confused but real information of what was happening to troops of 1780. [7]

Letter to "Ebenezer Foote, Esquire," from William Frost, "West Point Jan'y 7th 1780"

Dear Sir.
The Eighteen Head of Cattle you sent me by Mr. Higgins with Commissary Swan's drove, with part of his that were not bro't over the River that Night, all strayed away, & the Eleven that my Corp'l bro't, twelve he said he received of you, but one of them was very lame and tired out so he delivered him to Commissary Forsyth's clerk at Continental Village, and took a receipt for him in these Words, "Recev'd on Beef of Corp'l Brumington, in behalf of Commissary Forsyth, did not mention my name, which I suppose will not answer to make a Charge of, hope to see you here shortly. I have lost five in the whole, without counting Commissary Swans,—the Guard on the Issues let Eight run away the last night they were bro't on, and we hear they were seen almost to Crompond, going back—and I hope they did, as our People will bring them back again. Pray Sir be kind enough to write me a few lines if you send any more by Mr. Swan's butcher or mine, this time, than the Number they Receipt for now,—I mean of those that have Strayed away from us, that there may be no disputes when they arrive here.
Your ob't Hum'l Servant, William Frost.

  • No wonder at least one of these cattle was lame, walking from New England. The river mentioned was the Hudson, and Constitution Island in its midst made a break often mentioned in these letters—as the crossing on the flat scows used was a difficult matter, especially in the winter. Comfort Sands, who writes the next, had been one of the "Committee of 100," in 1775, and well known until his death. (Lossing, vol. 12; p. 793.)

Letter to Ebenezer Foote from Comfort Sands, Fishkill, "Jan'y 10 1780"

Sir. Yesterday I came from West Point, and found that the Cattle you had sent there was not Merchantable. I desired Mr. Newcomb to take them, and have Appointed Appraisers, and if there was any more in your Drove not to fitt to kill, to take them the same way. Don't send any more that is not, but if more come to hand to you, do what you think best with them. I am mo't Hb'le servant. Comfort Sands.

Letter to Ebenezer Foote from William Frost, West Point, 13 January, 1780

Dear Sir. Your favour of the 12th inst Received last Night, and humbly thank you for it, please send as many Cattle and Sheep as possable. I am very sorry you cannot give me an account of the Cattle lost, there is so much Dam'd Iniquity (Why Wm.!!) among the Drovers or in the Guards carelessness, that I am almost discouraged in sending after cattle at all. Pray Sir be kind enough to send a Bill of the N[umber] you now send, with my Respects to you, and am
Your most ob't Hb'le Servant, Wm. Frost. [8]

Letter to "Mr. Foote, Division Commissary Gen'l Issues. Crompond," from Thomas Cartwright, "Headquarters," Highlands, Jan. 21 1780

Sir. Complaints have been lately made that the parties on the Lines, have suffered for want of Provisions. Mr Gen Heath requests that you would pay particular attention to the advanced post, and keep it well supplied with Cattle as from time to time may be necessary. I am Sir, Your ob't Servant, Th. Cartwright, Aid de Camp.

  • The Quire of money alluded to in the next does not sound as strange as it would have before our German brethren began to trifle with their currency, but Continental or paper money was a sorry joke for the soldiers of 1780.

Letter from Julius Deming, Hartford, Connecticut, to Ebenezer Foote, "Jan'y 26, 1780"

Sir. By Mr. Moss I send you a Quire of Money to deliver to the drovers as they return, to pay for the Expense of their droves,—you will be careful to take their Receipts, which you will send me after you have paid it all out, & I will send you Mr Moss' rec't to exchange for yours—you will leave notification at Mr Boyd's and Cap't Drake's for the drovers to Call on you for Money, as they return from Headquarters. I am with respect yours and Mrs. Foote's Hb'le servant, Julius Deming, C. P.

  • Julius was a relative. —Kaf

Letter to Ebenezer Foote from Joshua Harding, "Camp, Highlands" New York [West Point], 30 January, 1780

Sir. The Difficulty that Attends Procuring Salt Provisions at this Present time, Necessitates me to Apply to you for Fresh Beef. When I saw you the other Day I was not Sensible of being in want so soon, but as I can have no Supply from Fishkill of Salt Provision I am under the greatest Necessity, therefore if it is not in your Power to Send twenty or thirty head, a Less Number might answer a Noble Purpose. I am Sir, your very Hub'l Servant
Joshua Harding.

Letter to Ebenezer Foote from Samuel Marshall, Fort Arnold, 27 February, 1780

Sir. I would take it as a favour if you would let me know by the first Opportunity, if I can employ a butcher to kill for the troops I serve,—as those I now employ, will be discharged the service in a short time, also what price is allowed. I am Sir
Your Hb'le Servant Sam'l Marshall.

  • Irving and others tell us that General Washington's plans were constantly overturned by the generally short terms of enlistments. No sooner were the raw troops trained to their new duties, than their time was out, and new recruits had to be broken in. Asa Worthington was a Colchester boy, and an intimate friend.

Letter from Asa Worthington, "Camp" to Ebenezer Foote, February, 1780 [10]

If Brother Foote will be so kind as to send the Continental Horse to span the one I have, he will much oblige me. I want to send the sleigh to the Barracks, to have some rods fixed to it, and wish to have a pair of gallant horses. The ladies expect the company of Mrs. Foote this aft, and I will send the sleigh for her if it returns in time, as I make no doubt it will do.
Yours Asa Worthington.

  • Ebenezer seems to have been the only one married among the Colchester boys, and also from letters it seems that all three lived in houses instead of barracks. The next indicates that Ebenezer and his wife had gone to Squire Daniel Foote's at Colchester to pay a visit; speaks of the Staff Department of which Asa as well as Ebenezer was a member; and recalls the fact of how many were serving with no pay for even ordinary everyday expenses.

Letter to Ebenezer Foote from Asa Worthington, Morristown [New Jersey] 30 April, 1780

Dear Sir. Your favour of the 4th inst, I have with pleasure rec'd, and this is the first opportunity of conveyance since it came to or I should have paid an earlier attention to answering it. It is uncertain whether I remain in office this summer or not. We have now a committee of Congress in town to make good the depreciation, and regulate the Staff Departments. If they allow me a generous pay, I am at their service,—if they continue their usual parsimony, I am as much at my own. I have at least served them long eno for nothing, & think it time now to be paid. My compliments to Mrs. Foote, hope she experienced no events that might make her repent the ride (on horseback, West Point to near New London. —kaf) [11] and make my Devoirs to the good family where you are. Adieu. Asa Worthington.

  • Asa wrote on April 30, about the committee of Congress being in Morristown to arrange certain matters.

Letter from Asa Worthington to Ebenezer Foote, 25 July, 1780:

The Committee of Congress are so far from Compleating a few matters relative to my department, that they have only begun to form a system for the Commissary General of Purchases at Large,—this day—when they will compleat it, is —I believe, equally beyond my wisdom or theirs to determine. I am not certain but the French Troops will send you a quantity of soup, as will leave you but little to do in the beef way. When I was at West Point the other day, I left my bridle at Col. Brookes' if you have a safe opportunity, will thank you to forward it as I have to ride with a halter. God save me from the gallows. In haste,
Asa Worthington.

The West Point Conspiracy

I can find no more until August, but this brings us to an important epoch in history, viz., the accession of Arnold to the command of West Point. It will be recalled that earlier Arnold had been tried by a court martial and although, through the efforts of General Washington the sentence had been a nominal one, the self-esteem of Arnold was touched and vowing vengeance he cast about for ways and means. History tells us that probably as soon as the project occurred to him, he began a correspondence with Sir Henry Clinton, relative to the delivery of West Point, the most important fort of the Northern Army forces— and really the key to all—into the hands of England. As a requisite step to the completion of his plans it was necessary that he gain command of the place. This was most difficult we are told, but finally by artifice he succeeded in persuading General Washington to comply—the latter having no suspicion of Arnold's disloyalty and little foreseeing what was to follow—at last signed the order, and Arnold took possession on August 3d, 1780. His headquarters were established at Robinson House, the handsome residence of Beverly Robinson, who, shortly before, after efforts to avoid it, had been convicted of disloyalty and the estate confiscated.

The house was not far from Crompond, and family tradition says that constant communication took place, both official and [13] friendly, between the two Connecticut men. But alas, with thousands of other letters, from Washington down to persons of little importance, preserved by Judge Foote, and a common subject of conversation with the elders of his family during his life, no proofs are left except the comparatively few contained in this volume. All through my girlhood the trim cases stood, from floor to ceiling, filled with the precious letters, which must have been mutely beseeching us to want and care for them, but all were too busy, and now I, at least, am filled with unspeakable chagrin over having helped to lose the treasures that at last have come to seem priceless to his family, if to no one else. We loved the traditions but were willing to take them on hearsay, instead of looking for ours ourselves, until fifty years after Ebenezer's death the house was sold, the letters destroyed, and opportunity fled forever. As I am about to die, I have determined to take the time and save from oblivion a good many facts concerning the life and times and friends of a man who was a soldier in the Revolution, a man of affairs in the State, and who died here at Delhi, New York, in 1829.

Arnold took possession of West Point on August 3d. Whether he had set to work at once to produce an impression of great activity, or if the Congressional Committee, after three months, had thought best to appear busy, I know not, but on August 8th, several letters of elaborate new instructions are sent Captain Foote, so exactly like the old ones for all your humble scribe can see, that one should suffice for all. [14]

Letter to Ebenezer Foote, Peekskill, New York, from Asa Worthington, 8 August, 1780

Sir. You are hereby requested to take Charge of Supertending Cattle for the Troops, agreeable to the annexed directions from the Commissary General of Purchases,—Ephraim Blaine. In addition, you will deliver what Cattle may be necessary for supply at the post at Continental Village,—Kings Ferry—and the detachment on the Lines, which is on this side the Hudson river. You will pay the strictest attention to these directions, and advise me as often as maybe, of the state of your supplies, and situation.
Your Obt serv't Asa Wokthington.
N.B. [Nota Bene] The person you fix at West Point, will be entitled to one ration of Provisions per day. A.W.

  • Asa's official and personal letters are of quite different types.

Letter to Ebenezer Foote, Scrowlingsburgh, from Asa Worthington, 1 September, 1780

Dear Eben. Your favour per bearer, came safe to hand. D'n the farthing of Cash I've seen since I saw you, except two hundred dollars I won of Deming and Bigelow yesterday, at All Fours. Whatever instructions you have had from Col Blayne, must be your guide, as well as those rec'd from the Commanding officer. In great haste, yours &c. Asa Worthington.
N.B. Davie is as dead as Hell. He breathed his last 7 days ago, in the arms of Bigelow. A.W.

Letter from Benedict Arnold, to Ebenezer Foote, Headquarters Robinson House, 4 September, 1780

The Enemy from their Preperations seem to have some important movement in Contemplation, their Object may be an Attack on these Posts but illy supplied with Provisions, I much desire therefore, You will make every possible Exertion to hurry on the Cattle designed for the [18] Main Army. I have reason to believe the Garrison here will be greatly augmented. (Note. If his plans succeeded as he hoped, it certainly would be—by British soldiers. –kaf) The demand for Cattle will of Course be greater, and if we are not better supplied in future, than we have been for some Time past.—in Case these Posts are invested, they will be lost,—as well as the Garrissons, for Want of Provisions. I am Sir, Your Humble Servant, B. Arnold.

  • From the following we see that Ebenezer had replied to Arnold's letter of the 4th, just transcribed, on the next day, and taken occasion to complain of the intrusion of one of the other commissaries, Stevens, into his affairs. The letter practically acknowledges that Stevens had been sent by Arnold with the letter. Why did Arnold write an urgent order, and at the same time send Stevens to tamper with a fellow officer's command? Only his feverish haste to begin acquiring everything possible before the eventful moment of surrender, I think we may suppose. —kaf

Letter to Ebenezer Foote, Headquarters Robinson House, from Richard Varick, 8 September, 1780

Sir. I am directed by Major General to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 5th, and to inform you that Mr Stevens conduct though not strictly regular, agreeable to the Powers of Issuing Commissaries,—was very justifiable on the Principle of Necessity, inasmuch as you were absent, and no person could inform him to what place,—it was necessary he should give directions for supplying This Post with Cattle, as it would have been left without Provisions of the meat kind. I have this day given orders that you be furnished with an addition of one Corporal and four men to your [19] Guard, as this is all that can be spared at present, your Humb'le Servant Richard Varick.

  • Ebenezer's office was one of much responsibility. He had to cover posts in three counties, and the accounts were difficult. Cattle counted and shipped in good order from New England, and other points, strayed off along the route, jumped overboard while crossing the Hudson, developed illness, and otherwise deported themselves in unseemly ways, generally unanimous in but one thing, viz., failing to round up according to schedule at their destination, and causing all those responsible for them endless trouble. Five days later, Arnold again sends personal orders through his Aide-de-Camp to hasten supplies.

Letter to Ebenezer Foote, Colchester, Connecticut, from "Henry Champion, P.C." [Commissary of Purchases], 12 September, 1780 [15]

...I am exceedingly mortified that it is out of my power to send you any Continental Cash. Every endeavor which I could make has hitherto proved unsuccessful, & yesterday I had an Express arrive frm Boston, (where has been my greatest dependence) informing not a shilling can be obtained. It is really strange but true, that with orders on several states for 6. or 8. million dollars, I can't obtain eno' for your demands. I sincerely thank you for your attention to my interest in putting into your acct, which I settle,— what services you can. I'll discharge the first money I get, and no means shall be left untried to obtain it. I am Sir with regard, your ob't serv't
Henry Champion.

"Capt says reports about a Spanish war are various,— but it was all preparation for war when he left England." Letter to Ebenezer Foote, "New York" from his brother Justin, in Winton or Murfreesboro, North Carolina, 16 Sept 1780

Dear Eben. Been too busy since my arrival from Carolina to write, but thank Heaven The Harlequin (one of his trading vessels) sailed this day with a fair wind, and in good order, and I take passage for [37] Guilford this aft. Met P Van Gas Beek,—a plain honest, genteel Dutchman. A brig arrived from London last night, Capt says reports about a Spanish war are various,— but it was all preparation for war when he left England. A letter from France, mentions all peace between Spain and England.
More than brotherly affection from Justin.

  • Eli, older brother and the father of Roxana Foote Beecher, as well as Justin, had gone into trade in Carolina, doing well, and on the point of coming home for a visit when stricken with fever and died with accounts all awry, which forced his wife and large family to find a home with Mrs. Foote's father, Gen. Andrew Ward, the other grandfather of all the Beechers, to be born later on.
  • My disappointment is great, that I have so few letters of August and September, 1780, from Arnold's command at West Point to Andre's capture, September 23. Did the most methodical of men preserve them, and someone else not recognizing their value allow them to be destroyed? And also it is more than probable that in a journal that Ebenezer kept during his army days, these events were chronicled, and would have seemed invaluable to some of his descendants. My father as a boy and young man remembered it well, but later in life when he came to the point of wanting to read it carefully and make sure of its contents, it had disappeared, and he was never able to find any trace of it again.
One detail we get from an article by Judge Dyckman of White Plains, published in July, 1889, in the Magazine of American History, edited by Miss Martha Lamb. As a member of a Westchester family he liked to unearth items of [16] happenings of his own "terrain" and as Judge he possibly had easier access to old documents than most people. However this may be, I was intensely interested in 1889, on taking up an odd number of the above-mentioned magazine, to find my relative's name in one of the series of articles entitled, "The Last Twelve Days of Andre." To add to my other infinite regrets, a friend of mine, and also of Judge Dykman's, was also interested in the article, and said she would take pains when next I came to town that we meet, but alas, we never did, they both died, and I am unable to find as I might have from him, two facts which I know to be true, first the short details of Ebenezer's testimony at the trial of Hett Smith, which I once saw in a book at the Public Library in New York, copied and then lost and have never since been able to find the book again; second what Pierre or Philip Van Cortlandt said of Ebenezer in a speech in 1837.
What Judge Dyckman wrote I will give next, as a prelude to the very few letters left of this exciting period, in my possession.

Magazine of American History, July, 1889, by Judge J.O. Dyckman:

... At King's Ferry (now Garrison's) Andre crossed to the Westchester side, to Verplanck's Point, thence up the King's Ferry road to the Albany Post Road, then to Peekskill, thence to Crompond Corner, about eight miles from Verplanck's Point. In the early morning of the 23d Sept., accompanied by Joshua Hett Smith, and a colored servant,—at Crompond Corners, they were stopped by a sentinel in the road, and taken to Captain Ebenezer Foote, who had a guard there at that time. [17] It was still so early in the morning that Captain Foote could not read the pass without the aid of a lamp. (Note. Having done so and knowing well both Arnold and his signature, suspected nothing and allowed the party to pass on. –kaf) Smith made particular inquiry respecting the troops which were stationed below, and Captain Foote informed him that there were no troops on that line, except the cavalry of Col. Jamieson, some miles east of Pine's Bridge.

  • I had hoped to learn more of this occasion from some of the papers used, but was told that none of them had been kept. Beside Judge Dyckman's article, I append the lamentably few letters which have been preserved to me of Captain Foote's part in this momentous epoch. There used to be two from Arnold, in bygone days, but only one remains to me. The date is just a month after Arnold had been given the command at West Point. General Washington had set out on the first of September for Hartford, where he was to hold a conference with the French officers, and this would greatly simplify plans, making Arnold Commander in Chief until his return. Always astute, he recognized that the crucial moment had arrived, and besides hasty verbal commands he probably wrote many other orders as incisive as the one which follows.

Letter to Ebenezer Foote, from Richard Varick, Headquarters Robinson House, 13 September, 1780

Sir. Two Milch cows are immediately wanted for the Flying Hospital. The General therefore desires that you will pick two which give the most milk, from the first droves that come to your hands, and send them to this place without Delay. Your Hub'le Servant Richard Varick.

Headquarters Robinson House, Sept. 22 1780

  • The pass which was shown Captain Foote at Crompond is put in all accounts of the occasion, but may be new to someone and I include it.
"Permit Mr John Anderson to pass the guards to the White Plains, or below if he Chuses, He being on Public Buisness by my direction. B. Arnold, M[ajor] Gen."
Mr. Irving in his "Life of Washington" says the latter wrote to Colonel Jameson, "Send Mr. [20] Andre to this place by some upper road, rather than by Crompond." One of the few treasured letters I have relating to Andre, is the following from Alexander Hamilton, and about which controversy has arisen as to the exact meaning—a hundred years after it was written.
The tradition has come down that at the time of Andre's capture, Ebenezer Foote was temporarily, with others, put on Washington's personal Staff, and he was raised to rank of major at that time, as we have proof, but if he was sent an "Officer with a Flag of Truce," it was certainly a new responsibility, and when the sentence from Irving was found, it seemed to belong to my letter, although it may be fallacious reasoning—I have come to believe that Mr. Hamilton's note means that General Washington had written Ebenezer a personal note (which Ebenezer did not receive) relative to conduct, when Andre should reach Crompond, but later changed his mind, and sent Hamilton to confirm the letter, of change of route, who, understanding all the circumstances, wrote Captain Foote my note, which follows. Major Foote thus endorsed Colonel Hamilton's letter:
"Rec'd from Col. Hamilton, Aide to his Excellancy, Sept 28 1780. ordering the return of the Flag of Truce, sent out from New York on acct of Arnold's desertion."

Continental Village, 28 September, 1780

Sir. Your letter to the General was delivered me on the road. You will on receipt of this, permit the Officer with the Flag to return, delivering him the enclosed letter.

"This I thought extravagant," Letter from Eli Foote to his younger brother, Ebenezer, Guilford, Connecticut, 5 October, 1780:

Dear Brother.
...Should have answered sooner, if I could have satisfied you respecting a carriage. Am now to Inform that have made Enquiry here and there is none to be had except second hand, which am not able to say if it will suit you. If you will be so good as to take your route this way on your return, may be had.
I wrote to Mr Clarke of New Haven, he informs that a new one could not be had under $2,120, this I thought Extravagant. Yours Eli

  • I have already copied letters written from New Brunswick, so that Ebenezer must have begun some small trade in furs before the letter of John Jacob Astor.
  • Eli Foote, Ebenezer's brother and one of the twelve children of Daniel, whose daughter, Roxanna, married Dr. Lyman Beecher and became the mother of the clever Beecher tribe—Henry Ward, "et al." I know not why my people should have wanted to set up the very unusual luxury at that date of a carriage, but Jerusha had her own money, and may have become tired of always riding. The price was undoubtedly paper money. [—kaf]

Letter from Asa Worthington, Camp Preakness, to Ebenezer Foote, 18 October, 1780:

Dear Sir. Business would not permit my coming from Colchester by way of Fishkill as I had proposed. —wish to hear how Dan Watrous is, whether mending or not. The bearer brings your watch... In haste, your obt servant. Asa Worthington.

Letter to Ebenezer Footer from Hendrick Wyckoff, Oct 18, 1780

Sir. Have just come in from Fredericksburg, so many Cattle coming in have not time to come to you. Have no place to put droves, can you receive any, should be glad,... If it be not too much trouble, will you come and spend a few hours with me.
In great haste, your most obt. Humble servant. Hendrick Wyckoff.

Letter to Ebenezer Foote from Asa Worthington, Dec 24, 1780

Dear Brother [Masonic brothers were referred to this way –kaf]. I will thank you to engage Mr. London to send to Albany by the next post, for a Black Martin Skin well dressed with the furr,—for the purpose of binding a Vest. I want it of the best Kind,— and wish to have it as soon as possible. It is a matter of doubt whether I ever get from West Point,—but I assure you my inclination will make every effort to take off with myself as soon as possible.

I am cordially yours. Asa Worthington.

Letter from Asa Worthington to Ebenezer Foote, n.d. ___

No Thanksgiving here!!!! what a people!!!! Conn, wouldn't stick at having half a dozen,— however to my joy, the lads in Blooming Grove are planning a dance where I shall be a partaker. General Heath wants to know if he can have a milk cow, and Colonel Blaine writes about cattle stolen by Hasbrouck. After business about the droves,

  • Asa wishes to be in the "mode." [—kaf]


Daniel Watrous, West Point, letter to Ebenezer Foote, 5 January, 1781

...I intended to carry this to you myself, but having no horse at the moment, old age and infirmities would overtake me if I tried to walk...My most respectful compliments to Mrs. Foote and Miss Foote. Pray when shall you be at this place. With Esteem, your obt. Daniel Watrous.

  • Katherine Adelia Foote says that "Miss Foote" was "a sister." Perhaps of Ebenezer, or Jerusha Purdy?

Asa Worthington, Blooming Grove, New York letter to Ebenezer Foote, 9 January, 1781

Dear Sir. I am no longer a Staff Officer. Yesterday was the happy day when I began to anticipate the pleasures of freedom, and my resignation given and accepted. Col. Blaine quits the Department the first of March. He appears to pay the greatest attention to our wants...In extreme haste your obt. Asa Worthington.

Letter from Joseph Strang, Albany, New York, letter to Ebenezer Foote, January, 1781

Sir. Possibly before this reaches you, you will be informed, our troops which lay at Sihenctida! on the 24 inst, began to mutinise, they have not beer very disorderly, neither have they refused to let their officers come among them. The reasons they assign, are want of flour, with long arrears of pay... In order to quiet them Gen. Schuyler and some other gentlemen have undertaken to purchase some flour on their own credit, and two Commissioners appointed to liquidate their claims, therefore hope that things will soon be settled.
Sir your most obt humble servant, Jos. Strang.

  • Mrs. Foote's relative, Major Joseph Strang, is now State Member from Westchester, and writes of the well known mutiny, quelled by Gen. Philip Schuyler's prompt action.

Letter to Ebenezer Foote from H. Sewall, West Point, New York, 3 March, 1781

Sir. The inoculation of such of the troops as have not had the smallpox being on the point of taking place at the New Hampshire huts,—the gen directs that you will please supply Dr Eustis with such quantity of beef cattle as may be necessary for the patients while under the operation. Sir. Your obt, Servant. H. Sewall, Aide de Camp.

Letter to Ebenezer Foote at Col. Brinkerhoff's Inn, Fishkill, New York, 30 March, 1781?

...but don't expect there will be any means of your sending sooner than by the Express that goes almost daily to his Excellency at Road Island.

  • To Mr. Foote at Colonel Brinkerhoff's (which was a very well known name and inn during the war). He begs for fresh meat.

Letter from Charles Duryee, Hopewell, New Jersey, to Ebenezer Foote, 30 March, 1781

This certifies that I have purchased of E. Foote Esq. Two Oxen for which am to pay him Three thousand Continental Dollars. Hopewell. March 30. 1781. Chas Duryee.

  • This receipt shows the alarming depreciation of money.

"Asa writes about the Masonic Lodge they were trying to establish in the partly straightlaced old town." Colchester 10 April, 1781

The Installation of the new Lodge is to be celebrated at Taintors,—such gazing—such re- marking,—such wonderments will be displayed as is beyond description. In the first place, our godly Divine has refused to favour us with his prayers, tho requested to by the committee, and also refuses to let any other Clergyman officiate in his pulpit. Brother Watrous goes next day back to Camp. We had a ball in town last night, and a good one too, I was provided with a partner from Squire Foote's which enables me to say that your family are all well. Hell is to pay about playing in Church. Deming is Tithing man. Jack Watrous will tell you all... Asa Worthington.

  • Masonry was not only a bond with the Colchester lads, but continues to influence his friendships through life.[27] The Colchester youths we are hearing about seemed to have been in advance of their time, full of spirit and humor, but not one thing to indicate wrong-doing.

Letter to Ebenezer Foote, Fishkill, New York, from Daniel Kellogg, Colchester, Connecticut, 13 April, 1781.

Dear Sir. Reapeated losses, Idleness, and the love of the Bottle, have reduced me to the lowest State of Indigence.—I will tell you plainly I have spent all my money, and not only that, but I have engaged to raise a very considerable sum of Hard Money soon which obliges me to wish to dispose of Sir Harry, to raise a part. I have had repeated offers to sell him, but I could not gain his consent,—he is very loath to be sold, and I am as unwilling indeed, but I have determined to sell him against his will,—instantly. I imagine he would be nearly willing to be sold at Fishkill, as his parents live at Aaron Van Vlackrens.
Beg you to make a market for him if Possible, and write me by first post. Perhaps if you inform his father, he can find a Master that would suit the boy. He is an exceedingly fine healthy boy, 14 years old large of his age,—my price is £70 which I could have taken if I would have Sold him Against his will,—but I would take something less if I could find a place that would please him.
I am Sir with Esteem, your obt, Daniel Kellogg.

  • This is addressed as others often were, "Col. Ebenezer Foote, Fishkill," and though one despises the acts, there seems to me something quite touching about the letter, and I hope any reader will be as filled with pity as I have been on reading it—the interest is in the slave, and absence of prohibition of the early days. —kaf

Letter to Ebenezer Footer from Daniel Watrous, Colchester June 3d 1781

Dear Sir. I arrived at this place the third day after my departure from your Quarters, performed the journey with great cheerfulness, and have been no stranger to diversion since my arrival at Elysium, and the Beauties of Spring are not confined to the flowers of the field, I think. I had the pleasure the evening before last to receive your Letter of the 29th, ult. and strictly observed the contents and am very happy in hearing that you have not moved your quarters to Poughkeepsie. As to your being destitute of Cash and Grogg, I fear I cannot at present, feel so sensibly for you as I shall on my return. Have obeyed your orders in regard to issuing Warrants for Worthingtons Damnation, which has employed me busily in my Leisure hours,—think there is a prospect of Cash by & by, concerning which Worthington will write you. Expect me back by the 15th inst.
I am Sir your most Sincere friend and Hub'le Servt Daniel Watrous.

Letter from Asa Worthington, Colchester "Sunday after Church," June 3d 1781

That my Brother can swear I am now fully convinced, I used to think him proficient, but now find him an adept, & I am of opinion he ought to be under full Pay, and Rations. All this takes its rise from a perusal of your letter to Dan Watrous, which he showed me as we came out of Church, about one hour and a half, and twenty one minutes ago (with our pockets full of Grace) —but—for a D'd hole in my pockett,—my Grace and my penknife, have experienced one fate, and both have gone to the Devil.
Brother Champion has Promised he will send you some of the Needful, as soon as it is in his power. He now gets nothing but State lumber, nor that neither, but I am told the present sessions intend to emit another Bank, if so, 'tis hopefull we shall have money again. What value they mean to put upon it is undetermined, but I conclude it will bear the current price of paper at the retail shops. Am happy you are likely to live till fall, and hope you will be in no jail but Mrs. Footes till the consummation of all things.
What Lady did you mean, give your reason with that brotherly freedom which ever charmed me.
Cordially yours, Asa Worthington.

  • The two letters, above, were written on the same day. Dan on furlough, and as pleased thereat as usual, and both filled with the usual boyish chaff (none of them was much over 20). —kaf

General Washington gives a kindly order to Major Foote at Col. Hammond's. Headquarters. 28 July, 1781

Dear Sir. His Excellency requests you to deliver the bearer, Mrs. Brush, she is proving her property, two cows that were taken by the Army from Morrisania,—the cows were taken by the Refugees some time since.
I am dear Sir, your most obed't Servant. David Cobb, L't Col. Aid de Camp to ye Commander in Chief.

  • The next is addressed to "Ebenezer Foote, at Headquarters." It is from Oliver Phelps, State Agent, about receipts he has lost or mislaid, or something—too long to copy. One omitted from Asa, says the Lodge has been "Constituted," Brothers Little and Coleman, Wardens, and Coldridge and Worthington, Secretary and Treasurer.

Letter to Ebenezer Foote from John Glover, Camp 5 August, 1781

Sir. The cow you were so kind as to offer me the other day, I should wish sent by the bearer,—the one sent me by Col Stewart, is so wild she will not answer to keep in Camp, if the one you send sutes, I will call and Receipt for her. You recollect my Speaking to you about the horse you were then on,—I have one which appears to be a Dead Match,—will you sell him, or exchange for a horse much Larger, nearly 5 years old. Your answer will oblige Yours Sincerely, Jn Glover, B. General.

Letter from Daniel Foote, Colchester, Connecticut, to his son, Ebenezer, August 20 1781

Dutiful Son... Do you remember when you were here, hearing me read some observations about Original Sin,—you manifested a liking to them and Inclination to have them made Publick, which I then declined, but upon further thought, have sent you a Copy of them to Peruse, and Liberty if upon advising with proper persons, you shall see fit, to Publish same, (secreting the author).
I remain your loving Father Daniel, Foote.

  • Daniel writes to his son, mentioning some light literature he had struck off and read to Ebenezer, by way of amusing him on one of his infrequent furloughs.

Family and Business Letters


"Young Justin writes, giving us a glimpse of a dress of the period." Justin Foote, letter to his brother, Ebenezer, Colchester Dec 5th 1782.

Dear Brother. Yesterday Capt. Deming returned from New London where he attended a Vendue, and saw Rum sold for 8/2 by the hog'd, Common proof and other things in proportion. On account of late news from Boston Tea has kept to 12/10, Coffee 2/- lb, Chocolate, 1 /4 per cake. Capt. Deming and Brother Ely, set out for Boston this morning. When Ely is equipt for riding, I think he has the resemblance to Sancho Panza. He has got him a new coat of thick brown coating, lined with baize, a broadcloth jacket, with a pair of corduroy breeches, and over them, large pair made of thick coating, buttoned to the knees, instead of strings & to top all, his neck muffled up with red baize.
From your friend, Justin Foote.


Letter to Ebenezer Foote, from his brother, Justin, Colchester, Connecticut, 9 April, 1783

Dear Brother, ...Our cousin Elisha has got a boy, and Sabin s has put the gran C? upon him, whether he has paid the money or given his obligation for it, [33] I do not know. Your cane head I shall get from Mansfield, the first opportunity. Your friend Justin Foote.

  • In 1782 Elisha Foote of Colchester, Conn., married Phebe Sabin of the same town. The boy Justin speaks of, above, became the Hon. Judge Elisha Foote of Cooperstown, New York, where he died.


Letter to Ebenezer Foote from Philip Cortlandt, Manor of Cortlandt. 27 February, 1784

Sir. Being under the necessity of going to New York this morning, and fearing least my family should want provisions before my return, makes me take the liberty to request you will deliver the bearer, one barrel pork,—which I will call and pay for on my return, about the 15 March. I shall place dependence to have the other barrels you may have to spare.
I am Sir, Yours most Sincerely. Philip Cortlandt.

  • General Van Cortlandt and Ebenezer were excellent friends as I know from many sources, but the only letter I have is on the subject of pork. In Westchester annals Mrs. Foote's ancestor, Daniel Purdy, is set down as buying a thousand acres of the Cortlandt Manor in 1760 and we find her father paying rent for his lands, presumably the whole or a part of the thousand acres which his grandfather, Daniel, bought, as it is in exactly the same location. It should be remembered that none of the great manors gave warranty deeds, and undoubtedly Daniel and Abraham and all the others continued to pay rent until the 1840's, which saw the Anti-Rent uprisings, during which the clever, brave young Osman Steele of Delhi was shot down at Andes, in 1845, while in the performance of his duty as an officer of the law, by the pseudo Indians, in ambush there.

Justin Foote, letter to his brother, Ebenezer, New York, 23 April, 1784

Dear Ebbe. I send you by the bearer, 8 loaves sugar, & 1 box tobacco, as per bill.—the pistole you sent, Miller refused to take,—I enclose it & the bill. Friend Storrs is in town and well. Tell Mrs Foote I could get no teapots except plain ones, so did not get any. Justin.

  • The pistole was a Spanish coin much in use at the time, and generally accepted as proper currency, as were many other foreign pieces.

Letter to Ebenezer Foote, from Justin Foote, Colchester Connecticut, 6 August, 1784:

Dear Brother I want you to advise me about having the small pox, I think it necessary to have it somewhere. Yours, Justin.

  • We know that Major Foote after the war started as a merchant at Crompond, and later several places, [34] at Newburgh and surrounding small villages [including Marlboro—dff]. This is addressed to Hanover and may mark the year when he finally left Crompond. The next may be of interest in reference to the smallpox, one of the deadly scourges of those days. —kaf




"Care of Doctor Wainwright, Queens St." 10 Dec. 1787,

Theodorus Bailey sends a letter speaking of the Hasbrouck Business, "I want to see you as soon as possible to confer with you on the business of Hasbrouck and others. I have obtained a Rule at the last Court, to compel the putting in of Bail," etc., etc. Theodorus Bailey is often spoken as P.M. in New York in 1804, and this might easily be the same man. But why a Hasbrouck Matter, concerning which I have two or three letters dated before the war was ended, should still be carrying on, I cannot see, but it sounds the same, and yet I have too little evidence to put in the long letter from Mr. Bailey. The next is the first one I have of numberless letters sent by the writer, until his death a politician, a merchant, a good man of Kingston, N. Y.,[36] but coming to grief at last in business.

Dear Brother (Mason). I am anxious to hear from you, where the Devil are you and Delamater, can't you give us something to amuse us send an old magazine if nothing else. Now more serious,—I will give you a History Compleat from here next week, by De Zerg Most effectionately
Peter VanGas Beek.

  • Miller tobacco £2. 2.6. Hoffman Sugar £3.13.8.


  • June 10, 1788, Peter Frazier acknowledges receipt of "3 doz Martin skins, & 6 Otter skins," which he had given James Geiger to be sold, "Mr. Geiger lives next door but one to Mr. Scotts. M! The letter is addressed to Mr. Foote, "at McPhersons Coffee House. St. John. New Brunswick. By this we see that as well as by the one letter left of Mr. Astor's, that furs were still in mind, [35] but they evidently came to nothing, or instead of the lime which melted in storage, the horses which died, or the butter which spoiled before it was sold, he might have a very small fraction of the money which Mr. Astor did.

Newburgh Jan. 10, 1788

  • A meeting was held at Peter Nestell's house, to establish a Free Mason's Lodge, in the Precinct of Newburgh. Mr. Ebenezer Foote was chosen chairman, and begged to petition the Grand Lodge for a Warrant. Next Thomas Roche deplores the fact that he left town without paying his indebtedness, and trusts that his friendship will not be given up. As Ebenezer's friends, we find from many records, rarely paid their debts to him in 1788, or before or after, we may assume that Thomas was forgiven as usual.
  • Ebenezer was very much installed at Newburgh by this time, as merchant, supervisor, on school board, in church, and in the general politics which were to send him to the county, nameless as yet, where he died. In the next we hear of the perils to be encountered in going a short distance back from the river, if a storm occurred.


Additional Pages of Letters and Papers