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JOHN HATHORN'S REVOLUTIONARY LEGACY: STORIES

Gen. John Hathorn of Warwick, NY led the local militia and served on the first Congress of the United States. Learn about John and his wife Elizabeth Welling.

TUSTEN AND HATHORN

from a Letter to the Goshen Democrat

by G. W. Seward (about 1879)

"At about the close of the battle of Minisink, Colonels Hathorn and Tusten met.  Both were wounded—the former by a flesh wound in the leg, the latter very badly; and while engaged in binding up the wound of his friend and compatriot, told him that he could not get away, and expected to be massacred by the Indians with the dying and wounded about him.  He urged Col. Hathorn to try by flight to save a life which had already been of great service to his country, and might be of still greater in the future.  Noble and self-sacrificing men; and who may now imagine their emotions as they clasped each other’s hand in painful and enduring farewell.

Col. Hathorn did not reach his home until three days after the news had spread of the result of the pursuit and battle, and found his family and friends mourning their anticipated loss."

[Source: Draper Manuscript Collection, Wisconsin Historical Society.  Series F: Joseph Brant Papers]

A TORY PLOT

From a letter by G. W. Seward to the Goshen Democrat, about 1879

"Col. Hathorn was also annoyed by Tories, as were many Whigs to a greater or less extent.  His son-in-law, Dr. Hinchman, residing at Vernon, while on his way on a dark night to visit a patient, overhead a voice, which he recognized as that of a slave belonging to the Colonel, bargaining to deliver up a Tory (sic) a valuable horse, owned and rode on parade By his Master.  Measures were taken for the safe-keeping of the animal, and the arrest and punishment of the parties concerned in the secret and therefore, nefarious traffic, practiced extensively by other in the country—in some cases, neighbors, if not relatives, especially on officers prominent in the Militia."

[Source: Draper Manuscript Collection, Wisconsin Historical Society.  Series F.: Joseph Brant Papers]

ORAL TRADITIONS AND FOLKLORE

In addition to facts about Hathorns life and surviving documents, there are quite a few stories about Hathorn as well.  Are they true?  The answer is... maybe.  Often oral tradition and folklore contain a nugget of truth, if somewhat transfigured.  But the stories are fun to know, and to pass on to the next generation.

AFTER THE BATTLE OF MINISINK

In a short sketch about the life of Hathorn by William W. Pelton, quoted in Ferdinand Sanford's paper, he says, "After this the Indians broke in upon them and the patriots fled for their lives...General Hathorn started for home followed by two Indians; after running a long way, he stopped for a moment and discovered the Indians were upon him.  He let them come within good firing distance and then aimed at the most forward one and fired.  He jumped and yelled, then fell dead, and his companion wheeled and ran.  The General feeling the need of rest lay down between two logs.  He had lain but a few minutes, when the Indian dogs came along, but did not happen to scent him and went off....some four or five (of the Indians) followed him home and secreted themselves in an old straw stack for a few days.  They were unable to get a shot at Hathorn, who remained in the stone house, between the two front windows until they went away..."

Later in his essay, Sanford gives the story with added detail, "...the Colonel  was a prisoner in this house for two weeks at a time, sitting between two windows, with his back to the stone wall, during which time an Indian and a Tory kept him under watch, trying to get a shot at him.  His food was carried to him."

 

NEWS OF THE WAR

Excerpt of Letter to Lyman Draper from Grinnell Burt, 1877

" I have been told by some of our older residents that he was of a very sensitive nature, and it is related of him that during the Revolution, while at his home, about a mile from our village, when he came to the Post Office after his mail, on his return home, he would stop midway under a large hickory tree by the roadside and read his letters, and was often found weeping over their contents where they announced reverses of the American Army"

Source: Wisconsin Historical Society; Draper Manuscript Collection.  Series F: Joseph Brant Papers

A SLAVE RECALLS LADY WASHINGTON'S VISIT

Serena Baise (Bays), a freed slave of Hathorn, used to visit the house in later years after purchase by the Sanfords, and tell of Martha Washington's visit and of the number and beauty of her jewels and accessories.

DAVID BAYS/BAISE, SLAVE

"...Mr. Samuel Pelton, now in his eighty sixth year, says he well remembers David Bays (Baise), a colored man who lived just above C. I. McBurney's place-- the house still standing--who was a former slave of General Hathorn, and who accompanied him to Warwick, when he came here to settle." (source: Ferdinand Sanford)

The "McBurney place" in Sanford's 1904 paper is now the Warwick Conference Center.

NEARLY HOME AND NEARLY SUNK

According to Samuel W. Eager in his Outline History of Orange County, at the close of the war when Hathorn was commanding at the Fishkill Depot, he and his men had to cross the river in an old Continental scow crowded with horses and soldiers.  It was leaking so fast that before they got halfway over they had to start bailing water with their hats.  They had only one oar and the water was very rough, so they landed at New Windsor instead of the Continental dock at Newburgh. (p. 425)