05-16   Lt. Col. Benjamin Birdsall   1736

05-16    Benjamin, Lt. Col.5 Capt. John4 Benjamin3, Nathan2, Henry1


Benjamin Birdsall was born in 1736 and married Freelove Jones in 1763.


Note 211 in The Birdsall Family, 1982 states:


Lt. Col. Benjamin Birdsall was a drover-farmer, buying cattle from the farmers and selling them to the butchers in the cities.  He lived in Jerusalem, NY.  Col. Benjamin was especially well qualified for the army as he knew every bit of land along the coast around Hemstead.  He was equally at home among the city businessmen and the farmers.  He was Jovial, friendly, and dynamic and in business he was shrewd to the point of always being on the verge of dishonesty but never really dishonest. 


Benjamin married Freelove Jones and during the war moved to Dover, N.Y., 1777.  After the war he moved back to Jerusalem, leaving his son David, b. 1764, on the farm.  In 1770 Col. Benjamin and his grandson Judson lived on the farm in Dover and David’s 3rd cousin, Gilbert (06-69), b. 1762, Page 34, lived on the other farm.  Gilbert is a son of Nathan (05-24), 1732, Page 2.  Benjamin was given two farms that were taken from tories in Dover, N.Y.


He evidently moved his family from Jerusalem to Matinecock as he moved to Dover, Dutchess County, in 1777.  On March 24, 1777, he petitioned the Committee of Dutchess County for permission to bring his family from Oyster Bay so that they might occupy farms of some one who had gone to the enemy.  General Scott certified he had done good service and he was allowed to occupy farms of Moses Northrup and Archibald Campbell.


He was in Dover, N.Y., February 17, 1781, and from there wrote to General Clinton he could not attend the Legislature on the account of a conspiracy in the locality.  He was a member of the New York Army from Queens County, 1777-83.


It is unfortunate that many distinguished men in the Revolution are being forgotten.  Many men exalted patriotism, who filled their parts with honor and usefulness, were naturally unobtrusive, pursuing their ways without show and parade.  Among those who gave their best years of their life to the building of this nation was Benjamin Birdsall.


Being raised a farmer he enjoyed no other advantages for an education than can be obtained in a country school.  Blest with a good natural understanding and being a good reader he was able in a few years to acquire a valuable stock of general and useful knowledge.  He married Mary Freelove Jones, daughter of Major William Jones of Oyster Bay.


The Revolutionary War brought patriotic matters of high interest to Mr. Birdsall and he did not hesitate as to the course he should take.  It was the intention of the British to invade Long Island and it was imperative that measures should be taken to repel the invasion or to remove all the supplies possible from the land.


In 1776 he attended the Provincial Congress of New York with a petition to remove stock into the interior of Long Island to prevent its being taken from the British.  Just before the battle of Long Island, he was ordered on July 20, 1776, to command a company of men from Queens County to remove all cattle and sheep to the interior of Long Island.  Then was chosen by Lord Stirling to guard 7 miles of coast to east of Hemstead, L.I.  Col. Benjamin was hated in So. Hemstead and Oyster Bay because Hemstead was the center of Loyalists and Oyster Bay was the recruiting center of Americans who wanted to join the British Army.  The people from Matinecock, however, were patriots.  Before the battle of Long Island the Loyalists hid in the swamps but when the patriots lost the battle, and the British came, the Loyalists came out of their hiding but remained cool to the British.  Col. Benjamin’s 3rd cousin, Benjamin, married a Loyalist and later moved to Gagetown, New Brunswick, Canada, about 1783.  A sister of Loyalist Benjamin married a British soldier and they also went to Canada.  The war split many families.


On July 27, 1776, Col. Benjamin Birdsall wrote to Col. Sands: “Sir, by direct information from Joshua Citchum (Ketchum) one of the Commity of Huntingtown – there is 30 or 40 armd torys in Massapequa Swamp, I having agreed to meet the Huntingtown men Tuesday morning next 8 of the clock they were to joyn us with 200 men.  Accordingly, I have given orders to the several officers to meet and joyn Huntingtown with 200 men which will be 400 men to drive the Swamp and take these diserting armd Torys.”


Mr. Birdsall procured about 60 volunteers with them whom he marched to the west end of the island in the summer of 1776, and he aided the forces under General Putnam in throwing up entrenchments upon the heights of Brooklyn.  He was actively engaged in the Battle of August 27, 1776, which resulted so disastrously for the Americans, and in which great numbers were killed or wounded.  He retreated with the army to New York Heights.  Soon after he was made Captain in Col. Smith’s Regiment and was in Brooklyn before the battle of Long Island.  Afterwards he joined Col. Livingston’s regiment with about 68 of Col. Smith’s men.  Getting volunteers from Loyalist communities was a difficult job and it was even more difficult to keep them.


November, 1776, he was paid to bring prisoners from Long Island to Norwich, Conn., thence to Fishkill Landing, N.Y.  He also delivered horses to General Mifflin for use of the Continental Army.  It was about time to move his family from Long Island to Dover.  An American vessel laden with flour for the army had been captured by the British in the Sound, and Captain Birdsall believing it might be taken, offered to superintend the enterprise in person.  The proposal met the approbation of the commanding officer, when the captain with a few selected men made the experiment, and succeeding in sending the vessel to her original destination.  But, it so happened that he himself was taken prisoner.


It was his fate to be imprisoned in the jail, then called the provost, under the surveillance of that monster in human shape, the notorious Cunningham.  He requested use of pen, ink and paper, for the purpose of acquainting his family of his situation.  On being refused he made a reply which drew from the keeper so many approbrous epethets accompanied by a thrust of his sword which penetrated the shoulder of his victim and caused the blood to flow freely.  Being locked up alone in a filthy apartment and denied any assistance, he was obliged to dress th wound with his own linen and there to endure, in solitude and misery every indignity which malice of the provost marshall wished to inflict upon a “damned rebel,” who he declared, “ought to be hanged.”  General Washington, when made acquainted with the situation, took measure to have his wife and children conveyed from Long Island to Dover, where they remained during the war.  During this incarceration, Captain Birdsall was given the commission of Colonel, and after a few months of confinement an exchange took place and he was again at liberty.


So great was the sympathy of the public for his suffering and confidence in his patriotism and intellillgence, that in 1777 he was chosen a member of the Assembly by the people of Dover and remained with the Assembly until the establishment of peace in 1783.  On February 17, 1781, from Dover, he wrote to General Clinton he could not attend the legislature on account of a conspiracy in the locality.  He was a member of the New York Army from Queens County, 1777-83


After the war he returned with his family to his farm which he found had suffered much and disposed of it.  He moved to the mills which he owned near the village of Jerusalem, where he died July 30, 1798.  Col. Benjamin and his wife Freelove Jones are buried at Massapequa, Long Island, N.Y.


Children of Benjamin Birdsall and Freelove Jones, surname Birdsall:


06-29 David, b. 1764, m. Hannah ______.  They lived in South Hemstead, L.I.


06-30 Benjamin, b. 1766, m. Mary Stevens on Sept 2, 787 in Pawling, NY.


06-31 Phebe, b. 1768, m. 1) James Jackson; 2) Gideon Birdsall (06-110)


06-32 Elizabeth, b. 1771, m. Jackson Althouse


06-33 Mary, b. 1772, m. ______ Wright


06-34 Thomas, b. 1775, m. Phebe Jackson in Franklin, Delaware Co., N.Y. in 1800


06-35 Zebulon, b. 1776, m. Charlotte, lived in North Castle, N.Y.


06-36 Margaret, b. 1778, m. 1) Jacob Seamon; 2) Timothy Tredwell




The Birdsall Family, George A. Birdsall, 1982, pg. 20 and Note 211



Link to Birdsall Home Page

Link to Index