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DESCENDENTS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by Guest, Feb 23, 2003.

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    Tac401
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    (6/16/01 3:55:47 pm)
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    ezSupporter
    DESCENDENTS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I don't know if this will spark an interest to anyone
    but this is the story of my little ladies fifth Great Grandfather and his participation as a patriot and his son Peter who was a runner for George Washington during the Revolution.

    We found the documentation on this in an old trunk after
    Carla's dad passed away and verified it through the Ft. Lee
    museum in Ft. Lee N.J. www.fortlee.com/html/HistoryBourdette.asp

    Fort Lee History written by the descendants of the first settlers of Fort Lee. By Carla M. Hoy a direct descendent
    of the Bourdette family.

    Fort Lee In The Olden Days Some twenty odd years before the beginning of the War of the Revolution while young Colonel Washington was making his first campaign in the service of George II along the disputed banks of the Ohio, a well to do New York merchant began adding to his landed possessions on the opposite shore of the Hudson River. Stephen Bourdette, then residing in Pine Street, New York was with William Bayard part owner of a royal grant comprising a large part of what is now seemingly large enough for ordinary desires. But north of this tract was a stretch of county where stood primeval forest trees whoses branches had waved in wonderment when Hudson's ships voyaged up the river, where fair stretches of meadow fringed with wild flowers were enriched by thickets which gave shelter to wild animal life.

    Hither came from time to time Etienne Bourdette, father of Stephen, an old man who found in the wooded spaces a temple where he would chant the hymns of his Huguenot forbears and offer prayers of praise and petition. The Bourdette family was of French origin and of the Reformed Faith.

    When the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes caused the emigration of thousands of Huguenots from France, a Bourdette was among those whose sought a new home in a foreign land. This member came to one of the west India Islands and prospered as a planter. In course of time the planter's son Etienne found New York so attractive that his education continued to the end of his life. When Etienne's years approached the Scriptural limit, his son who had anglicized his Christian name to Stephen and who was well endowed with wordly goods purchased about 400 acres north of his royal grant and built for his father the stone house which stood until some half score years ago. Here the elder Bourdette made his home, wandered through the woods, sang his hymns, always a little more fevently when a thunder storm was in progress, and passed peacefully the last years of a long life.

    Then by deed of gift from the elder brother the house and lands passed to Peter Bourdette, a young Hackensack farmer. Peter and his wife Rachel Bush, brought their household goods, their slaves, and their children, the advance guard of a large family, to the home on the cliffs.

    The inferited Huguenot thrift displayed itself in the cultivation of the cleared lands, the increase of flocks and herds, and the social nature of the new owners was shown in the generous hospitality dispensed in the stone mansion. Houses in the vicinity there none, and an inn was an institution never dreamed of in the wildes fancy.

    Travelers who risked their bones on the unscape roads of the time, visitors who rowed up from the city and climbed the road along the cliff found at Peter Bourdette's open house and a table loaded with the best samples of Dame Rachel's cooking while the barns over flowed with forage for the tired steeds.

    So time went on in peace and prosperity until disquieting rumors made themselves heard. All was not well with King George and the colonists. Parliament had views as to collecting revenue and Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams and the New York Provincial Congress had diametrically opposite opinions which crystallized into the unyielding principals "no taxation without representation."

    Swiftly the events succeedes one another, The Tea Party, The Port Bill quartering troops, then that ride of April 18, 1775 and Lexington skirmish at the next day's dawn. War was on and the summer of 1776 found the scene of active hostilities in the vicinty of New York. The Battle of Long Island was fought and lost and Washington retreated northwards, fighting stubbornly until he reached the place where the mountains north of New York offered a defensive position. Here he faced about planning to give battle behind fortifications.

    On the New York side of the Hudson, Fort Washington was constructed and placed under the command of Col. Robert Magaw and a small force of regulars. At the same time Washington ordered Gen. Mercer to fortify ground on the western bank of the river. So one early September morning the inmates of the Bourdette house were surprised to find in the vicinty a village of tents erected over night, with streets laid out and soldiers busily at work erecting huts for officers. Peter Bourdette at once threw himself, heart and soul into the cause, he placed his land and slaves at Mercier's disposal and on September 12, 1776 the earth fort called Fort Lee was begun on the western side of the road that leads up the hill form the old steamboat landing.

    The fort itself did not command the river, but cannons were stationed on the cliff to cut off and annoy British shipping which should attempt to proceed up the stream. The works occupied about a fourth of an acre, the southern bastion stretching behind the site of the present Episcopal Church and arms and ammunition were stored there in reserve.

    On November 13th, Washington came to Fort Lee and was made a welcome guest at the Bourdette house. A room was placed at his disposal and the family was able not only to entertain the Commander-in Chief but to render him some assistance.

    During the week preceeding the evacuation of the fort, the eldest son of the family, also a Peter Bourdette, several times rowed to New York and picked up information concerning British movements for Washington. On one of these occasions, coming back on a dark and stormy night, the American failed to hear young Peter's response to his challenge and discharged his musket ridding one oar and making it useless. Nothing daunted, the boy brought his boat to land with the single oar and making his way up the hill in the drenching rain brought to the waiting General some important letters securely fastened within his dripping coat.

    From the Bourdette boat landing Washington was rowed to meet General Greene returning from a reconnaisance of Forth Washington, and on the cliff near by he is said to have watched in company with Peter Bourdette the attack which resulted so disastrously to the American cause. On the loss of the New York fort, Washington hastened to headquarters at Hackensack.

    On the morning of November 20th the news came that Cornwallis had crossed the river at Dobbs Ferry with a large force and landed at Closter and was advancing on Fort Lee. An express rider came from Washington to Gen. Greene with orders to evacuate the fort and carry off the arms and stores. But the enemy were so close at hand that it was immposible to obey this command, the roads were bad and only two pieces of artillery were carried away together with a scant supply of ammunition and stores.

    The retreat began, the first object being to secure the bridge over the Hackensack, and the Americans could not stand upon the order of their going, some went by the bridge, some by the ferry and others passed a mill between the creek and the bridge wading through marshy ground to Hackensack. The retreat was continued to Newark, then to Trenton, the outposts being called in in the march. The evacuation of the fort left the Bourdette family in a perilous position, the Hessians were closed at hand and their very name spelled devastation.

    Rachel Bourdette with the younger children fled to English Neighborhood, the money and valuables were buried in the woods, and one horse was concealed in the cellar of a ruined cabin a short distance away. Then the enemy came, literally like a wolf on the fold, and the Hessians fell upon everything eatable in sight, and in the course of their investigations came upon a barrel of rum and a barrel of sugar in the cellar. Rolling these out to the door they emptied the rain water cask standing under the eaves and poured in the rum and sugar, adding all the milk in the dairy, thus compounding a punch, the like of which was never tasted before or since. As drinking glassed failed the Hessians used their shoes for the purpose.

    Spying Peter Bourdette, who with his eldest son had remained to protect their home as much as they could, the unbidden guests rudely ordered him to drink a health to the king. Peter at first refused, but the English officers advised him at least to gp through the form, so dipping his right hand into the mixture and raising it to his mouth he exclaimed "The health of General Washington, confusion to King George, and destruction to his hireling Hessains" at the same time throwing a kiss towards the valley across which the American troops were then hastening.

    The Hessians were too drunk and too unfamiliar with English to comprehend fully the toast, and the intervention of the officers saved Peter Bourdette from consequence of his rash act. For ten days the Bourdette homestead was plundered by the enemy, Peter unable to stop the destruction. During this time he was summoned before Gen. Knyphausan in command of the conquered Fort Washington and sharply questioned as to his knowledge of Washington's plans. Though he fully expected to be sent to the Old Sugar House Prison for his temerity, Peter Bourdette indignantly refused to give any information. The General respected him as a brave man and dismissed him unharmed.

    After the British left the Bourdette family returned to their home, Rachel driving a wood sled with a bag of flour, some turnips and a few pounds of butter which she had secreted in the cabin where she had hidden the horse, the animal, by the way, having been fed in the meantime by a friendly British subaltern. The winter was a trying season, the generous plenty which had distinguished the house was absent, the cattle had been driven off, the granaries emptied, and thier scanty supplies were purchased in New York and paid for by money unearthed from time to time.

    Troops came now and then and took what they could, but the tide of war drifted away from New York and better times come to the household. There is a story that Dames Rachel, in hoops and brocaded skirt, once attended a ball on a British man-of-war, for though she was a friend of Washington and a patriot, she was young and comely and was an attractive partner in the dance. But if she onced danced with the enemy, she did a thousand kindnesses to the impoverished Americans, and the prisoners of war in New York tasted of her dainties whenever she got a chance. And Peter watched with eagerness every step of his beloved Washington, and no rejoicings were louder than his when at last the British fleet sailed throught the Narrows and the land was free.

    Peter Bourdette had a family of sturdy children, who in their turn took upon themselves helpmeets and continued the line. Peter, the eldest son and namesake left many descendants among whom is J. Fletcher Burdette, the President of the Fort Lee Revolutionary Monument Association. A daughter Hannah, married Jonathan Dixon and their son was Dr. Edward Henry Dixon, author of "Scenes in the Practice of a New York Surgeon." Another daughter Leah, married Edward Day, and their daughter Rachel, married the Rev. Philip Duryee, son of Abraham Duryee, a distinguished patriot of the Revolution.

    The ramifications of the family are numerous but the same qualities characterize them as distinguished Revolutionary Peter. Peter Bourdette died May 21st 1823, having reached the ripe old age of ninety-one years. Until a few years ago his moss-covered grave stone stood in the little burying ground in back of the Espiscopal Church and beside it was that of Rachel Bush his wife. Though grave stones have disappeared and mounds are levelled with the earth, though the lones of ramparts are no longer discernible, the name of Fort Lee will remain and with it will be associated the remembrance of Peter Bourdette who gave cheer and helped Washington.

    Carla's Great, Great Grandfather is a MOH recipient also.

    Thanks for check'in this out, hope I didn't bore you.

    Tac

    P.S. I love the line in this story when they said that
    the men "Tasted Of Her Danties" lol!





    Edited by: Tac401 at: 6/16/01 5:00:15 pm

    Xracer
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    Posts: 409
    (6/16/01 8:09:40 pm)
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    Great story, Tac!

    Kdubya
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    Posts: 497
    (6/16/01 9:58:23 pm)
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    Yessir -

    That's great story telling!

    Had a forebearer that fought Furgeson on King's Mountain - about the only thing I know of family involvement in the Revolution.
    Keep off the Ridgeline!!

    Tac401
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    Posts: 1249
    (6/16/01 10:14:56 pm)
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    ezSupporter
    Re: DESCENDENTS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Thanks Fella's!
    The Firearms Forum Vietnam Memories Bulletin Board Contact Administrator

    TallTLynn
    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
    Posts: 758
    (6/16/01 10:25:55 pm)
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    I really enjoyed reading about her and the family Tac. Thank you.

    Tac401
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    Posts: 1250
    (6/16/01 10:47:53 pm)
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    ezSupporter
    Re: DESCENDENTS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
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    Thanks T!

    Carla expresses her deepest and most thoughtful
    thanks to all of you who enjoyed her story!

    First time I heard it I was under the weather so to
    speak (lol) and I had no idea of what she was reading
    to me and I guess when I heard that infamous line
    "tasted of her danties" I lost it lol, after getting
    yelled at the next day for not paying attention
    she re-read it to me and it blew my mind, but I
    still tease Carla about the taste of her Danties lol!
    The Firearms Forum Vietnam Memories Bulletin Board Contact Administrator

    polishshooter
    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
    Posts: 822
    (6/17/01 11:49:59 am)
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    Tac, that's GREAT! First, it's neat to even know ANYTHING of your family history, but to have it tied so intimately to a great historical happening is just fantastic!

    Me, on the other hand, descended from poor illiterate peasant turnip farmers from the river valleys of Poland have really nothing but romance and splintered "oral histories..." to draw from.

    My only tie to the American Revolution is my ancestors fought the Russians and the Prussians in 1795 under Thaddeus Kosciusko, hero of our Revolution and friend of G.W.

    I like to think my anscestor's ancestors fought the Infidel at Vienna with Sobieski, but being peasants, they did what they were supposed to do, die, so nobody thought to record anything they did...

    Tac401
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    (6/17/01 3:17:26 pm)
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    ezSupporter
    Re: DESCENDENTS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
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    Yeah PS,

    My family history is sort of like yours, it really didn't
    start in this country until around the late 1880's or
    so.
    The Firearms Forum Vietnam Memories Bulletin Board Contact Administrator

    Kdubya
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    Posts: 503
    (6/17/01 10:58:10 pm)
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    To expound a little, if anyone is interested -

    Excerpts from the book "Brief Account of the Wood Family in Virginia", written by James O. Wood and M. B. Wood, printed in 1892 -

    "John Wood was born in England about the year 1636. He was well educated and was a lawyer. He was employed by a company of London capitalist to go to the colony of Virginia to locate lands for them. He was also a good surveyor. He came to the Virginia colony about 1655 and located on the south side of the Potomac River in what was called the 'Freshes'. He took out personal patents for several tracts of land in that area; one grant of twelve hundred acres in Northumberland County, dated Oct. 12, 1658; one thousand acres on the south side of the Patomac River, dated Jan. 14, 1656, and additional grants were made, the last being dated Mar 4, 1662. Also, in the same year, be married and settled in Westmoreland County where he lived 'til death."

    His decendants lived on the estates until sometime around 1745, when some of the land was sold and part of the family moved to New York and Pennsylvania. Other family members relocated to lands on Big Moccasin Creek, in Scott County, Va. Upon arriving in the sparsely settled country, Johathan Wood and neighbors erected a fortified establishment called "Fort Houston". There are accounts of Indian skirmishes and the usual frontier hardships - of life in the wilderness and the carving out of farm lands.

    Jonathan Wood was a soldier during the Revolutionary War - positions other than being a private soldier are not known. He participated in the battle of King's Mountain on Oct 7, 1780, in Tryon County, North Carolina. There is a dispute as to the actual location of "King's Mountain" - some claim the actual location is more likely a lofty rocky tower, called "The Pinnacle", some 6 miles distant and located in York County, South Carolina. Whatever, Jonathan always believed that he "aimed the gun that killed Col. Ferguson." He had a bullet graze the bearskin covering of his saddle which caused hair and dirt to enter his eyes, precluding further participation in this battle. He died on Nov 13, 1804 at age 60.

    There are many accounts of marriges and the incorporating of many old name families in the southern Virginia/North Carolina/Kentucky areas. Those that had drifted off to the northern states have no mention in the narrative. A couple of male decendents enlisted in the Confederate Army of Virginia at the beginning of the conflict, but died of diseases in camps in the late part of 1861.

    More narratives continue the family growth until my great grandfather, Mellville Wood left Virginia for Arkansas in the early 1890's, stopping in southern Indiana for a couple years enroute. My grandfather was around 5 when the great train trip was made and he talked of it until this death in 1975, at age 86. The family homesteaded in Madison County, Arkansas on property adjacent to the West Fork of the White River, near Crosses, Ark. around 1895.

    Like all narratives written by a family member, the good ones are covered extensively, the not so good get glossed over and the bad ones never see print!


    Keep off the Ridgeline!!

    Tac401
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    Posts: 1266
    (6/18/01 6:59:46 pm)
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    ezSupporter
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    I thoroughly enjoyed that story Kdubya!

    Thumbs Up!
    The Firearms Forum Vietnam Memories Bulletin Board Contact Administrator
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