Many in area have ties to veterans

There are several original "Daughters of the American Revolution" buried in the Eau Claire area. This is the grave marker of Mrs. Elizabeth Nelson Doughty, daughter of Lt. Henry Nelson who served in the Revolutionary War. Mrs. Doughty came to the Maxville area in the 1850's with her son Edward Doughty.

     When thinking of the American Revolution, many folks are apt to agree with a theater owner in Dakota who fashioned a sign on his marquee, ""n 1776 nothing much happened here!"
     True, no battlegrounds are in the state, but the war's influence was felt here, not only at that time, but in our "now" years, too.
     The oldest house still standing in Wisconsin is truly a "Bicentennial" as it was built in 1776 on the west bank of the Fox River in Green Bay by Joseph Roi. Of "wattle" (sticks and mud) construction, it still stands in Heritage Park in Green Bay. It is called Roi-Porlier-Tank Cottage after its three owners.
     After the Revolution and War of 1812, many veterans received land grants for land in the Northwest Territory. By the time settlers were struggling into Wisconsin many veterans were too old to make use of their land, and some came to Wisconsin to live with their children.
     There are about 40 Revolutionary war soldiers known to be buried in Wisconsin, most of them in the southern part of the state.

One grave in area

     Our area of Wisconsin has one Revolutionary soldier's grave - Stephen Tainter. Born in 1760 in Westboro, Mass., he served as a drummer boy in Cushing's Regiment in 1777. He took part in the Battle of Bennington, re-enlisted three times.
     He became a doctor after the war and lived in Vermont and New York, coming to Prairie du Chien to live with his son in 1833. He died in 1847 in Crawford County and when the family moved to Dunn County his remains were re-interred in Evergreen Cemetery, Menomonie.
     Family tradition says Levi Pettis, whose grave is in East Lawn Cemetery, August, served as a drummer boy in the Revolution, but the National Archives can find no record of his service.

Could be possible

     Since he would have been 11 years old at the time, it would have been possible. There may well be others in our area, and several organizations are interested in locating and marking graves of Revolutionary veterans.
     Daughters of the American Revolution is one organization active in tracing such veterans, and is trying to find and mark graves of any Revolutionary soldiers buried in this area.
     DAR is also interested in area graves of the original Daughters of the American Revolution. There are three known.
     First, Hannah Stacy Town, whose grave is in Rumery Cemetery in Chippewa County, was the daughter of John Stacy, a Revolutionary soldier whose record included more than seven years of service in the Continental Forces.
     Second is Roxcy Matteson whose grave is in Pleasant Valley Cemetery, St. Croix County. Her father, Beriah Howard, enlisted in 1776 and subsequently re-enlisted five times from Springfield, Mass.
     The third grave is of Mrs. Samuel Doughty, located in Maxville Cemetery, Buffalo County. She was the daughter of Lt. Henry Nelson who served from Mendon, Mass., in a company which marched on the Lexington Alarm, April 19, 1775. He re-enlisted several times; enlistments were of short duration in those days.
     A survey of some persons whose ancestors served in the Revolution shows many who served in the "Continental Line" ("buck privates" in today's parlance).
     There is the story of the Quaker family of prosperous shipbuilders in Philadelphia from 1720 on to the Revolution. Quaker beliefs would not allow them to build ships for fighting so they sold the shipyards and migrated to interior Virginia to carve a home out of the wilderness - and ended up fighting Indians for a place to live.

Standish descendants here

     Every school child knows the story of Miles Standish - but and interesting fact uncovered is that his great-grandson Thomas served in the Revolutionary War from Connecticut; in turn Thomas' great-grandson, Willard Lemuel, came to Eau Claire in early years as a blacksmith, worked here several years before moving to Mondovi, where he lived out his last years. His descendants still live in this area.
     Feelings were diverse at the time of the Revolution; some individual family members had sympathies on both sides, and as in many wars families split --some members taking arms on one side while others served the opponents.
     In some towns feelings ran so high that those with differing allegiance had to move, often leaving belongings behind. The wife of a man who served as a scout or spy for the American forces had to flee with her family of small children and what household goods and belongings she had been able to assemble quickly to avoid a raid organized by her father and brothers while her husband was away on a mission.

Bellinger Street background

     Peter Bellinger for whom Eau Claire's Bellinger Street was named was a descendant of Federick Bellinger who served as colonel of a regiment of Militia of Tryon County, N.Y., and participated in the battle of Oriskany August 6. 1777.
     H.C. Putnam, who gave Putnam Park to the City of Eau Claire, was a descendant of Capt. Henry Putnam, Minuteman on the Lexington Alarm in April, 1775. The family had settled in Salem, Mass., from Bucks, England.
     Capt. Putnam served in the French and Indian War. When the Revolutionary War broke out he was living with his son Eleazar in West Cambridge, Mass.
     The county was daily expecting British troops to raid Concord to destroy war materials stored there.
     Although 63 years old, Putnam was full of enthusiasm for the cause. He had his gun and ammunition at his bedside for several days to be ready at a moment's notice.
     On the 19th of April, 1775, British troops came out in force and the Continentals marched to meet them.
     When Capt. Putnam awakened, his five sons and others had gone out to repel the attack, and his gun could not be found.
     His grandson, Elijah Putnam, then four or five years old, remembered the distress and indignation of his grandfather at the hiding of his gun.

Still joined fight

     When his wife tried to dissuade him, the elder Putnam said "Hannah, I must go meet the enemies of our freedom!"
     With six or eight other older patriots they ensconced themselves behind a pile of shingles near the meeting house and awaited return of the enemy from Concord.
     The British had put out a flanking party that came upon them from the rear, fired and killed them all.
     The boy, Elijah, said he had enjoyed the hubbub, music and firing until they brought they body of his grandfather home in a cart. The son, Eleazar, joined with his four brothers and was also killed during the war.
     One person chuckles over her ancestor's adventures. Obadiah Hold who enlisted and marched to defense of Fort Ticonderoga, got there just as the regiment surrendered to the British and Indians at the Cedars, May 17, 1776.
     Their clothing was stripped from them and they were forced to run between two files of Indians who beat them.
     There are no details of who Holt escaped, but he served later at Crown Point and was at the battle of Bennington. Years later the legislature voted money to pay for the lost clothing.

Ancestor served as a teamster

     Samuel Stow, ancestor of another area resident, became a teamster for the army at commencement of the war. His young son, Comfort, accompanied him.
     Comfort, at the age of 14, drove an ox team in public service and went to the north as far as Fort Ticonderoga with supplies. He continued in service until 1781.
     Other ancestors were found to have served terms as prisoners of war, one serving two years on a British ship. His discharge papers show full credit given for these two years in active service.
     Another was taken prisoner on a British ship in New York harbor.
     The British found it hard to feed the captives, so they sailed to a deserted beach and set over 200 prisoners ashore. Some died quickly because of starvation and poor treatment, some made it to their homes but died later from smallpox which they had brought from the ship.
     Often, members of their families died from the same disease they had brought home.

Refused to sign oath

     Some wry views can be gained by looking at later developments.
     One family strongly against breaking away from England lived in a village of patriots. When asked to sign an Oath of Allegiance to the Colonies, the had of the family refused, so the Patriots hanged them.
     But strangely enough they let his son and son-in-law go. They had also refused to sign, and were more of an age to fight, and they later served with the British.
     William McCoy was a member of the County Committee of Washington County, N.Y., in July, 1777, when Burgoyne was invading the towns of Ft. Edward and Ft. Ann. Patriot inhabitants along the line of march fled before the invaders and their Indian allies.
     Gen. Schuyler directed residents to abandon their farms and take refuge in the interior. Harvest time was upon them and if they abandoned their crops, they had nothing to live on. The County Committee met as appraisers to estimate value of the crops and buildings in case they were lost through obedience to orders.
     Both state and national governments were unable to pay or feed their soldiers.

Active against Tory efforts

     Attorney Timothy Larrabee, Windham, Conn., belonged to the "Sons of Freedom" and was active in efforts against Tories, even before the Revolution.
     In 1774, a Francis Green, a Boston Tory, wrote of being expelled from Windham, and upon his return to Boston offered a reward of $100 for the apprehension of "five ruffians calling themselves the 'Son's of Freedom'. Timothy Larrabee and others, who did not assault him, entered the house he was in, with threats and intimidations, insisted upon immediate departure.
     This was called by patriotic journals of the time "the cool, deliberate action of the Sons of Freedom."
     In June, 1775, this same Larrrabee assured members of the State Assembly he had "applied himself to making salt petre (necessary ingredient of gun powder), and had succeeded in mastering the art, which he claimed could be carried on in the colonies as well as anywhere else in the world."

Boy serves as scout

     Joseph Phelps Peterson, as a boy of 10, followed the troops, sometimes driving short ox carts used at that time, and doing scout duty. On one occasion he visited a British camp eight miles distant from the Patriots, and discovered their strength, also their plans to attack the Americans.
     Making his escape, he managed to warn the American troops to be fully prepared. He enlisted as soon as old enough and served 13 months on active duty.
     Benjamin Livingstone enlisted as a private in Capt. Thomas Newhall's company in Leicester, Mass., and was one of the Minutemen on the Lexington Alarm. He later served as captain in the Massachusetts Militia at Bunker Hill, Saratoga and Tiverton, was in the Northern Army under Maj. Gen. Bates.

Adventures of ancestors

     The above gives a slight smattering of adventures of those known to have served the country in its infancy. With untold tales of privations and suffering, organized only in purpose and a feeling for a decent living for his fellow man, they all served to the best of their ability.
     Some gave comforts of clothing, food and supplies, some service in leadership, and some in brawn.

--Lois Williams

Extracted from the Eau Claire Leader Telegram
Special Publication, Our Story 'The Chippewa Valley and Beyond', published 1976
Used with permission.

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