Friday, April 18, 2008

My Minuteman Ancestors

Today is the 233rd anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Just before dawn, the British troops attempted to find and destroy military supplies that had been stored by the Massachusetts military. Unbeknown to them, the Minutemen had received intelligence of the impending attack which allowed them to not only move the supplies to safety, but also to meet the British at the Lexington Commons just before dawn.

Starting with only 75 men at Lexington, the Minutemen were able to muster up close to 4,000 men by the end of the day and drove the British troops back to Boston. As a tribute to these men, who took part in "The Shot Heard Around The World," I offer up a glimpse into the lives of a few of my ancestors involved with the American Revolutionary War.

Frederick Visscher (3rd Cousin, 8 Times Removed)

Frederick Visscher(1) was born on February 21, 1741 in Albany, New York, the son of Harmon Frerickse Visscher(2) and Catharientje Brouwer(3). He served in the Tryon (later Albany) county militia and later served under Gen. Herkimer at the Battle of Oriskany. Visscher commanded an entire regiment during this battle which has often been called one of the bloodiest battles of the entire American Revolutionary War. Taking place on August 6, 1777, the militia with its 800 menu fought against 450 men made up of British troops and Seneca and Mohawk Indians. By days end, Gen. Herkimer would die of his wounds at Oriskany and the patriots would lose 465 men.(4)

After the war, Visscher was injured in a battle against Mohawk Indians fighting with the British led by Sir John Johnson on May 21, 1780. The details are quite gruesome as told by Jeptha R. Simms in his book The Frontiersmen of New York:

As the enemy ascended the stairs, Col. Visscher discharged a pistol he held in his hand, and calling for quarters, threw it behind him in token of submission. An Indian running up, struck him a blow on the head with a tomahawk, which brought him to the floor. He fell upon his face, and the Indian took two crown scalps from his head, which, no doubt, entitled him to a double reward, then giving him a gash in the back of the neck, he turned him and attempted to cut his throat, which was only prevented by his cravat, the knife penetrating just through the skin.(5)

Visscher was later appointed brigadier-general by Governor George Clinton on February 6, 1787. In June, 1782, on the occasion of General Washington's visit to Schenectady and at a dinner given in his honor, Colonel Visscher was, at the personal request of Washington, seated at his right hand.(6)

Frederick Visscher married Gazena DeGraff(7) on May 22, 1768 at Schenectady, New York. Frederick died in Schenectady on June 8, 1809.

Jonathan Everett (6th Great-Grandfather)

Jonathan Everett(8) was born on August 3, 1717 in Dedham, Massachusetts, the son of Richard Everett(9) and Mary Fuller(10). Jonathan answered the first alarm call in Lexington on April 19, 1775.(11) Everett was married to Jemima Mann(12) on September 5, 1844. She was born December 21, 1722, the daughter of Peletiah Mann(13) and Jemima Farrington(14).

Jonathan's son David Everett(15), born May 23, 1752 in Attleboro, Massachusetts, also served as a minuteman with his father at Lexington on April 19, 1775.(16)

Jonathan Everett died on December 15, 1796 at Wrentham, Massachusetts.

Wigglesworth Messenger (husband of my 5th great grand-aunt)

While not really an ancestor, who could resist not discussing someone with the first name of "Wigglesworth"? He was born on December 16, 1743(17), the son of Ebeneezer Messenger(18) and Rebecca Sweetzer(19). He was married on August 15, 1765 to Jemima Everett(20), daughter of Jonathan Everett and Jemima Mann.

Wigglesworth Messenger served as 1st Lieutenant in Capt. Oliver Pond's company which answered on the alarm of April 19, 1775 at Lexington, Massachusetts. He also served as a Private in Capt. Lemuel Kollock's company, Col. Wheelock's regiment marching from Wrentham to Warwick, Rhode Island on the alarm of December 8, 1776.(21)


(1) Reynolds, Cuyler, Hudson and Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911), Vol II., pp 806-808.

(2) Id.

(3) Id.

(4) Gavin K. Watt, Rebellion in the Mohawk Valley, (Toronto, Canada: Dundurn, 2002), pp. 316-320.

(5) Simms, Jeptha R., The Frontiersmen of New York, (Albany, New York: 1883), Vol II, p. 327.

(6) Hudson and Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, Vol II., pp 806-808.

(7) Id.

(8) Everett, Edward Franklin, Descendants of Richard Everett of Dedham, Massachusetts, (Boston, Massachusetts: 1902 (privately published)), p. 49.

(9) Id., pp. 29, 36

(10) Id., p. 37

(11) Id., p. 50. He was a minute man from Wrentham, in Oliver Pond's Company, which marched on the Lexington alarm of April 19, 1775; and he also served in the same company from September to December of that year.

(12) Mann, George S., Mann memorial, a record of the Mann family in America : genealogy of the descendants of Richard Man of Scituate, Mass., (Boston, Massachusetts: Press of David Clapp & Son, 1884), p. 22.

(13) Id.

(14) Id.

Descendants of Richard Everett of Dedham, Massachusetts, p. 50.

(16) Id.

(17) Id.

(18) Id.

(19) Id.

(20) Id.

(21) Secretary of the Commonwealth, Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution, Vol. I-XVII. (Boston, MA, USA: Wright and Potter Printing Co., 1896), Vol. X, p 702.


Linda said...

Hi Thomas
Very fascinating post. I think I will have my kids read your blog. It is stories like these that have enthralled them into a love of history. Great work here.

Sam said...

Hi Thomas, fascinating info. I just discovered that Wigglesworth Messenger (love that name) is my 4th great grandfather. Regards, Dennis