Local DAR chapter honors American Revolution veteran, former slave – Eagle News Online

NELSON — On June 8, the Fayetteville-Owahgena Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) honored Plymouth Freeman, a former slave and Revolutionary War veteran who lived in the town of Nelson .

To commemorate his life and patriotism, the organization dedicated a New York State Historical Marker at 4035 Putnam Road, Nelson.

Obtained through a grant from the Syracuse-based William G. Pomeroy Foundation, the road marker reads:

NEAR HERE CA. 1800 TO 1829.

The dedication ceremony included the Cazenovia American Legion Post 88 Color Guard, welcome remarks from Regent Chapter Donna Wassall, an invocation from Chaplain Elizabeth Thoreck, the Pledge of Allegiance from Karen Christensen, the National Anthem from Susan Taylor , comments by Denise Doring VanBuren, the 45th General President of the National DAR Society, an overview of Freeman’s life by former Chapter Regent Bonnie Ranieri, and a Pomeroy Foundation statement read by Madison County Historian Matthew Urtz.

Also in attendance were NYS Vice Regent and Regent-elect Pamela Barrack and owners, Josh and Colleen Fox.

The research into Freeman’s life was inspired by Christensen, led by Wassall, and assisted by Urtz and the City of Nelson’s co-historian, Laine Gilmore.

Legend has it that Freeman was born the son of a king in Guinea, Africa, and was kidnapped by slave traders as a child and brought to America. He was also said to be a cook/waiter for General George Washington, who gave him his freedom and his name.

Although much of Freeman’s story is difficult to prove, DAR research has led to the following conclusions about his life:

Freeman enlisted in the Continental Army as “Plymouth Negro” on May 26, 1777, at Windsor, Connecticut, and was assigned to a Connecticut regiment.

Much of his time in the service was spent serving as the general’s server.

“Plymouth would have had to go everywhere with the general and be at his service at all times,” Ranieri said. “By George Washington’s orders, all waiters or servants were to be drilled and ready to take up arms at any time.”

Muster lists dated 1777–1782 show Plymouth Negro in service with General Jedediah Huntington at many notable events and battles.

For example, his assignment as a waiter in Huntington would have taken him to Valley Forge during the winter encampment of 1777-1778 and to the Battle of Monmouth Court House in June 1778. He would also likely have accompanied the general on court assignment. martial. of General Charles Lee, and the trial and execution of British Major John André.

As of January 1783, Plymouth Negro is no longer documented in muster lists or military records. Instead, a soldier named Plymouth Freeman begins to appear – no longer a minion, now a soldier.

Freeman was discharged on June 8, 1783. Signed by Washington, his discharge papers credit him with six years of loyal service for which he was awarded the Military Merit Badge. Eventually, he also received a 100-acre land bounty and a Revolutionary War government pension for his contribution to the struggle for independence.

In the 1800s, Freeman found his way to Cazenovia. He lived in Cazenovia and Nelson in what was then the Jackson’s Corners neighborhood. He worked as a farmer, traded goods, raised his son, Jeremiah, and made his living in Madison County until his death in 1829.

According to the DAR, the exact site of Freeman’s residence in Nelson is unknown, but it was likely right next to the location of the highway marker.

“The truth about Plymouth’s time in the Continental Army is even more interesting [than the legend]”, Ranieri said. “His role, like that of thousands of others, was essential in securing our freedom. We can be certain that Plymouth knew the deep and innate desire for freedom, more than any of us can. ‘imagine. He sought freedom and sacrificed himself for freedom. He served faithfully and honorably, earning the respect, admiration and appreciation of his commanders. That is a fact, and for that, we will be eternally grateful to Plymouth Freeman.

During his remarks, VanBuren highlighted DAR’s nationwide “E Pluribus Unum Educational Initiative,” a five-year effort launched in 2020 to increase awareness of often underrepresented Revolutionary War patriots, including those who were African American, Native American, and women.

“Just as today we are merging as a nation, so was the Continental Army and indeed the whole movement to win America’s independence,” she said. . “Too often the stories of patriots of color, patriot women, foreign-born patriots, Native American patriots have been left out of the mainstream history books. [The initiative] includes funding for a doctoral student at our headquarters who helps us identify more patriots of color [and] help us find better ways to tell the stories of these men and women with the goal, hopefully, as we approach America’s 250th birthday, to find a way to illustrate that there is more to unites us than separates and divides us.

Jason Emerson, an independent historian from Cazenovia, has also researched Freeman’s life and military service.

In a February 24, 2019, article for the New York Almanack website, titled “Plymouth Freeman: American Revolution Veteran, Former Slave,” Emerson provides insight into Freeman’s life and military service.

The full article can be viewed online at newyorkalmanack.com.

The William G. Pomeroy Foundation is committed to supporting the celebration and preservation of community history and working to improve the likelihood of finding matched donors or other lifesaving treatments for blood cancer patients.

The foundation’s New York State Historic Road Marker Grant Program commemorates historical people, places, things, or events in the period 1740-1922.

Since 2006, when Bill Pomeroy created the foundation’s first marker program, the organization has awarded nearly 1,800 grants for highway markers and plaques nationwide.

For more information about the Pomeroy Foundation, visit wgpfoundation.org.

Founded in 1890, the DAR is a nonprofit, nonpolitical voluntary women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America’s future through a better education of children.

The Fayetteville chapter of the DAR National Society was organized by Clara Folsom on February 4, 1921. The Owahgena chapter of Cazenovia was organized by Amanda Dows on March 5, 1896. The merger of the two chapters was approved by the board of directors of New York State on October 15. , 1994.

To learn more about the DAR, visit dar.org.

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