June 28, 2013

Shoes and stockings for the war soldiers

Each Independence Day, we look back to the time of our nation’s birth and our own region’s role in it. Much has been written about Westchester in the Revolution, including the march of the Tories through Bedford, battles in Pound Ridge and the savagery of British officers in their attacks. There are heroes, villains, espionage and sabotage aplenty — the war pitted neighbor against neighbor and continued even after peace had been proclaimed in May 1783.

“Westchester fought longer and suffered more than any other community in all the 13 colonies,” wrote Otto Hufeland in his “Westchester County and the American Revolution,” “and its hills and valleys are consecrated by their valor, their patriotism and their suffering.”

At the request of the Continental Congress in 1775, 28 companies of militia were formed in Westchester, including two in Bedford and one in Pound Ridge. Only three communities out of the 28 provided minutemen, citizen soldiers ready to go into battle at a moment’s notice. These were Bedford, Pound Ridge and Lower Salem, now part of Lewisboro.

It wasn’t quite business as usual in those years, a time when the seat of government in northern Westchester was the Bedford Court House.

The first meeting of the county board during the Revolution took place in Bedford on June 7, 1778, when supervisors attended from Poundridge (as it was spelled then), Cortlandt, Philipsburgh, North Castle, White Plains and Salem. At that meeting, only four supervisors showed up, and the members declined to fix a tax levy. Again in September they failed to levy the tax. Before the next meeting in 1779, the same supervisors met after the state legislature passed a law requiring the counties to furnish equipment for the soldiers in the field.

On Jan. 5, the board of supervisors issued a requisition for shoes and stockings. Poundridge provided six shoes and seven stockings, while Bedford agreed to furnish 23 pairs of shoes and 27 stockings. Another law passed during the year taxed the Quakers who, for religious reasons, had declined to perform military service and instead agreed to make a monetary contribution of 60 pounds. During the war the region switched from the British currency to the new American dollar. Poundridge levied $1,723 and Bedford sent $6,437 to the war effort. In 1780, the board resumed their meetings. On Oct. 9, the state ordered the county’s quota for the Continental regiments to be filled by raising 17 men for service.

As the conflict ended a time of recovery began, which saw a resumption of civil activity. Along with the supervisors, the affairs of the county were partly under the control of a number of temporary commissions, appointed by the legislature, whose duty it was to carry out special laws made necessary by the state of civil war that existed throughout the county.

Among them were the Commissioners of Sequestration and the Commissioners of Forfeiture. These commissioners were empowered to seize the property of those who sided with the enemy and sell it at public auction. They also had the power to rent out their farms, stock and utensils, administer their finances, collect debts and receive claims. Hundreds of farms were cut up and sold or distributed, including that of Frederick Philipse, which was known as “Philipse Manor” and extended from New York City to Ossining. It was divided into more than 300 farms and rented out to tenant farmers, many of whom had participated in the Revolution on the American side.

Two commissioners, Zebediah Mills and Nathaniel Hyatt, were appointed to aid the “unfortunates” who had suffered during the war, and they were empowered to bind out children to useful trades and occupations. It’s nice to consider that even back then poor and unfortunate people were assisted by public funds.

While we celebrate July 4 every year, let’s take a look around us. Because everywhere in our towns is the sense of history, the period of battle, the lives lost and blood shed, which witnessed our nation’s birth.


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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

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NEWSSTAND LOCATIONS

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


Katonah

  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road


Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    


Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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