The Incorporation of the Town of Mount Washington

& its Soldiers of the Revolutionary War

 

by Michele (Patterson) Valenzano February 2007

 

 

In 1771 Thomas Hutchinson became Governor of Massachusetts and was extremely loyal to the British Crown. It was the actions of Governor Hutchinson that prompted the Boston Tea Party in December of 1773 organized by Samuel Adams. In January 1774 the residents of Taghkanic Mountain in Berkshire County appealed to Governor Hutchinson a petition for incorporation. In May 1774 a month before the petition reached the House in Boston, civilian Governor Hutchinson was replaced by martial law Governor Thomas Gage. Governor Gage was entrusted by the British to enforce the Boston Post Act that outlawed the use of the Boston Harbor until restitution had been paid for losses incurred in response to the Boston Tea Party. The petition for incorporation was passed in the House to be engrossed on June 15th and the Council concurred on the 17th however the sudden dissolution of the Assembly on that day prevented its enactment.

 

In Great Barrington on August 16, 1774 more than a thousand Berkshire men armed with pitchforks and muskets gathered at the courthouse and refused the British tribunal entry, hence to sit in session. A plea was shouted by the High Sheriff of Berkshire County that the judges be allowed in. The mob stood their ground, chased the bewigged royal judges from the courthouse and “escorted” them out of town.  (Illustration #25, Chase from Great Barrington, Berkshire The First Three Hundred Years 1676-1976, 1976, The Eagle Publishing Co., Pittsfield, MA)

 

On April 14, 1775 Massachusetts Governor Gage was secretly ordered by the British to enforce the Coercive Acts and suppress open rebellion among the colonists by using all necessary force. Four days later on the 18th of April General Gage ordered 700 British soldiers to Concord to destroy the colonists’ weapons depot. That evening a lantern was lit in the steeple of the North Church in Boston to signal to Paul Revere that the British were coming. The following day April 19, 1775, now famous for the “Shot heard around the world” marked the beginning of the Revolutionary War. (Paul Revere’s Ride, engraving, 1882, A Pictorial History of the World’s Greatest Nations, Charlotte M Young, Selmar Hess, NY)

 

The news of the April 19th alarm reached Great Barrington the next day hence Taughkanic Mountain. On April 21, 1775 Samuel Dibble and Abner Woodin of “Tauconnuck” Mountain enlisted in Capt. John Holmes’ company, Colonel John Fellows’ regiment of Minutemen in response to the alarm of 19th. Two days later on April 23, 1775 the Provincial Congress in Massachusetts ordered 13,600 American soldiers to be mobilized in which Colonial volunteers from all over New England assembled and headed for Boston. On May 5, 1775 Abner Woodin was discharged after 17 days of service.

 

May 10, 1775 American forces led by Benedict Arnold and Sheffield resident Ethan Allen captured Fort Ticonderoga in NY containing a badly needed supply of military equipment. The same day the Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia and on the 15th of May the Colonies were placed in a state of defense.  Samuel Dibble returned to the mountain after Abner Woodin serving 1 month and four days and was discharged May 22, 1775. On June 15th General George Washington was given the position of Commander and Chief.

 

During the winter of 1775-1776 General Henry Knox in charge of the movement of heavy artillery from Fort Ticonderoga to Cambridge,  sledded by oxen 78 cannons on what is now known as the Knox Trail which follows through modern Route 23 east out of Great Barrington. Later a captured Gen John Burgoyne, his soldiers and the Hessian mercenaries were paraded over this same trail. (Illustration #34, The Knox Trail,, Berkshire The First Three Hundred Years 1676-1976, 1976, The Eagle Publishing Co., Pittsfield, MA)

 

On March 26, 1776 in Great Barrington a list of officers was chosen by several companies of the 1st Berkshire County Regiment of Massachusetts militia and was returned by Mark Hopkins and “others.”  Six weeks later on May 2, 1776 King Louis XVI of France committed to one million dollars in arms and munitions to the colonists. It was ordered in Council May 6, 1776 in Great Barrington that the said officers of March 26, 1776 be commissioned and were reported as such on the same day. On May 10, 1776 the Continental Congress authorized each of the 13 colonies to form local (provincial) Governments.

 

June 7, 1776 Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia presented a formal resolution calling for America to declare it’s independence from Britain in which Congress decided to postpone its decision until July. On the 11th of June Congress appointed a committee to draft a declaration of independence. On June 28th Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence written in just one day was ready and presented to Congress. On July 2nd twelve of the thirteen colonial Delegates (with the exception of New York) voted in support of Lee’s resolution for independence. On July 4, 1776 the Congress endorsed Jefferson’s Declaration with copies sent to all of the colonies.

 

In the beginning of June 1776 the British sailed up the Hudson River blasting guns and on the 12th of July another 150 more ships arrived. At the request of the British, General George Washington met with representatives of General Howe in New York. General Washington listened to their vague offers of clemency for the American rebels which he politely declined.

 

Captain John King of Taughkanic Mountain, commissioned in May 1776, entered into service July 15, 1776 and marched by orders of Brig. Gen. Fellows under Col. Mark Hopkins. Capt. John King was joined by his neighbor Samuel Dibble who a year earlier served in response to the first alarm of the War in April 1775. Other men of Taughkanic Mountain who served under Capt. John King were Charles Patterson and his brother-in-law Elnathan Hall Jr., Judah Gains, Amos Woodin, Allen Sage Jr. and his brother Selah Sage. The men were discharged from service between July 27th and Aug 4th of 1776 and returned to the mountain. (Photo 2006, Michele Valenzano, New Windsor Cantonment Re-Enactors, Gen George Washington’s last encampment)

 

In August of 1776 the residents of Taughkanic Mountain again petitioned for incorporation. The petition bore new and repeat signatures of the previous 1774 petition. The signatures included John King, brothers John, Samuel and Daniel Dibell and their widowed brother-in-law Nathan Benjamin, William Cogswell, Abner Woodin, Amos Woodin, John Woodin and Peter Woodin, Jesse Mead, William Palmer, John Wright and his son John Wright Jr., Solomon How, Joseph Robinson, Stephen Bangs, Moses Buck, Abraham Grimes, his son Christopher Grimes, Allen Sage Sr, his sons Allen Sage Jr and Sebah Sage and son-in-law Asa Sparks, Charles Patterson and his brother-in-law Elnathan Hall Jr., William Campbell, Thomas Jones, Daniel Porter, Daniel or Samuel Whitmarsh, Daniel Mead, Gilbert Murray, Thomas Cade, Jacob Hatt, Samuel Nickerson, Philip Race Sr,, his son Philip Race Jr., Ephraim Race, John Race, Abijah Woodard, John Race and Charles Owens. On August 29th the petition was referred to a committee of the house, reported and read but no further action was taken.

 

In October of 1776 British forces from Canada advanced against the Americans at Fort Ticonderoga. When the British arrived they were impressed with the state of readiness of the Colonists. With winter approaching there was not enough time to mount a major and timely offensive hence the British retreated back to Canada. During the winter of 1776/77 the British under General John Burgoyne planned an attack on Fort Ticonderoga, taking Albany and splitting off New England from the other states, with the belief it would be a quick end to the war. The Americans spent the winter and spring hastily preparing themselves even further for their arrival.

 

On December 16, 1776 John Dibble Jr was appointed First Lieutenant in Capt Ephraim Fitch’s 4th company, Col. Benjamin Simonds’ detachment of Berkshire County militia to reinforce the Continental Army in Ticonderoga. First Lieut. John Dibble Jr marched in January 1777 joined by his neighbors Hezekiah King, Epenetus Owen, Allen Sage Jr., his brother Daniel Sage and brother-in-law Asa Sparks. The men were present for a muster roll dated Camp at Ticonderoga on February 25, 1777 and their enlistment expired March 15, 1777. First Lieut. John Dibble Jr however did not return to the mountain until the following May.

 

Anna Mary Robertson Moses, a painter, better known around the world as “Grandma Moses”, was a great-granddaughter of Hezekiah King. In 1953 she was in possession of a powder horn carried by Hezekiah during the Revolution bearing an inscription that read, Ticonderoga. Feb 24th 1777. Steal not this horn for fear of shame, for on it is its owner’s name.”

 

On March 15, 1777 another petition for incorporation was made by John King and thirty others of Taughkanic Mountain. It was explained in the petition that the lands in question were purchased of natives some years since, they had improved the lands, built roads on the mountain from house to house and for some years had paid a province rate of support of government. They raised their full quota of men for the army and were willing to continue to contribute their proportion of men and money. The last of their concerns was to “take proper care of some persons among us that are unfriendly to the United States of America.” The following final postscript immediately followed their signatures; “As we are on a great mounten we desire your honers to give us the name of Mount Washington.” The petition was referred on March 25, 1777 to a committee of the house and again no further action was taken.

 

The next month Capt. John Spoor’s company, Col. Benjamin Simonds’ Berkshire County regiment marched by orders of Maj Gen Horatio Gates who was sent with orders to assist Gen Schuyler in Saratoga. Taughkanic Mountain men Charles Patterson, William Gains, John King Jr and Lucius King engaged in the company on April 26, 1777 and were discharged the end of May. (Illustration #23,Col Benjamin Simmonds, Berkshire The First Three Hundred Years 1676-1976, 1976, The Eagle Publishing Co., Pittsfield, MA)

 

From June 29th to July 21st of 1777 Capt John King accompanied by his son Elijah King and neighbor Daniel Sage, served 29 days in Col. John Brown’s Berkshire County regiment under General Schuyler in connection with the evacuation of Ticonderoga.

 

In July of 1777 Colonel John Ashley’s Regiment of Militia was sent to Fort Edward for reinforcement of the Continental Army. July 8, 1777 Hezekiah King, John Woodin, Amos Woodin and Asa Sparks marched under Lieut. John Dibell in his detachment of Col. Ashley’s Regiment. Joseph King also enlisted July 8, 1777 in Col Ashley’s Regiment however marched under Capt. Sylvanus Wilcox’s company with the Northern army. The men who served under Lieut. John Dibell of the mountain served 19 days and were discharged July 29, 1777. Joseph King who served under Capt. Sylvanus Wilcox was discharged three days prior and was allowed 100 miles home from camp.

 

From July 21, 1777 to August 15, 1777 Capt John King served in Col. John Ashley’s Berkshire County regiment accompanied by John Woodin. Israel Humphrey of Mount Washington enlisted as a private August 20, 1777 in Capt Daniel Sacket’s company, Col Woodbridge’s regiment raised for three months. Israel served in the Northern department for three months and nine days and was discharged November 29, 1777. A receipt dated Mount Washington February 10, 1781 shows bounty paid to Israel by Capt John King to serve in the Continental Army during the war.

 

On September 18, 1777 Daniel Sage, Daniel Dibble and John King Jr enlisted in Capt Sylvanus Wilcox’ company of Col John Ashley’s Berkshire regiment and were sent to reinforce the Continental Army for the Saratoga Campaign. The Battle of Freeman’s Farm, the first engagement the Battle of Saratoga occurred the next day, stopping the British advance led by Gen Burgoyne. Militia units continued to arrive as the American force swelled upwards of 10,000 men. At the Battle of Bemis Heights on October 7th, the last major engagement in the Saratoga Campaign, American forces threw back the British under Gen Burgoyne causing him to retreat to Saratoga. After a week of negotiations between Gen Horatio Gates and Gen John Burgoyne the British marched out of their camp on October 17, 1777 to surrender their arms. The men of Taughkanic Mountain were discharged the same day after 28 days of service with the Northern Army.

 

The next year the focus of the American Revolution turned to the southern states and the men of Taughkanic Mountain appear to have remained home. The first proprietor’s book of Mount Washington was destroyed when the house of a past town clerk burned during the mid 1800’s. The first recorded meeting in the second proprietor’s book was dated November 5, 1778 and was held at the house of Stephen Bump. Lieut John Dibble was chosen as moderator and John Hulett as proprietor’s clerk. Capt John King and Peter Woodin were chosen as a committee to receive the money from the proprietors and apply it to the General Court to secure the lands to the proprietors. At this meeting it was voted to call the town Mount Washington.

 

At a meeting held March 1, 1779 at the vacant house of Samuel Dibble he was chosen as clerk. His brother Lieut John Dibble was chosen as moderator, Charles Patterson, Capt John King, William Campbell and Sgt John Woodin were chosen a committee to take care of the minister and school lots. Lieut John Dibble, Charles Patterson and Capt Robert Campbell were chosen a committee, “to assist John King and Peter Woodin chosen at the last meeting.” Finally on June 21, 1779 the town of Mount Washington was incorporated. The act of incorporation passed the House of Representatives on the 19th and bears the signature of the Speaker, John Hancock.

 

One year later on June 25, 1780 Gen George Washington wrote to Congress expecting an invasion by the British up the Hudson River with West Point as a target. Capt John King entered into service June 27, 1780 and marched by order of Brig Gen Fellows on the alarm of the 27th to sustain fort at West Point and served 8 days. June 29, 1780 Gen George Washington agreed to let Benedict Arnold have command of West Point. Benedict Arnold soon offered in a letter to the British to surrender West Point for 20,000 pounds.

 

James Hatch, John Spencer and Epenetus Owen were of the men raised by the town of Mount Washington for service of 6 months in the Continental Army during 1780 and they enlisted July 13th. James Hatch and John Spencer were of a list of men returned by Brig Gen John Paterson of Lenox as having passed muster in a return dated Camp Totoway on October 25, 1780. John Spencer was discharged December 9th and James Hatch was discharged December 18th. The two men were allowed 75 miles home. Epenetus Owen was a Private in Capt Timothy Remick’s company, Col Joseph Vose’s 1st Regiment and was on a muster roll January 1781 dated West Point. He was discharged January 7, 1781 and was allowed 75 travel miles home.

 

On October 23, 1780 Capt John King of Mount Washington in command of a detachment of Col John Ashley’s Berkshire Regiment marched towards Bennington to guard frontiersmen on an alarm. Mount Washington men under his command were Samuel Dibble and his brother Lieut. John Dibble, Peter Woodin, Benjamin Campbell, Nathan Campbell, William Campbell, Samuel Daniels, Gershom Darling, Elijah King, Abner Wilcox, Allen Sage Jr. and his brother-in-law Asa Sparks.  The men were discharged after two days of service on October 25, 1780.

 

On Christmas day 1780 it was “Voted that the assessors procure a list of real and personal estate of Mount Washington (reconsidered) Mr. Robert Campbell and Mr. Jesse Royce having appeared in the meeting and engaged on the part of the town of Mount Washington, of which they are the selectmen and impowered that the said town shall raise two men and 3100 pounds weight of beef towards the men and beef required by the general court of the town which proportion is acceded to and the said selectmen have engaged on the part of sd Mount Washington in case sd men and beef on the settlement of the next valuation shall appear to be less than their proportion of men & beef compared with the sd town of Sheffield that they will pay immediately on demand the balance into the treasury of sd Sheffield and John Fellows and Theo Sedgwick Esq. have engaged on the part of Sheffield that if she sd men and beef shall by sd valuation appear to be more than the proportion of sd Mount Washington that they sd Fellows & Sedgwick will immediately on notice thereof pay the balance into the treasury of sd Mount Washington which agreement is ratified by the town.”

 

A receipt dated February 26, 1781 shows bounty paid to Nicholas Louke of Mount Washington by William Campbell, one of a committee of the town of Mount Washington, to serve in the Continental Army for the term of 3 years. The receipt read; “I Nicholas Louke hereby acknowledge that I have received of William Campbell committee man of the town of Mount Washington the sum of sixty three pounds hard money as an encouragement and inducement to me to enter into the Continental Service for the term of three years to be under the Continental officers that is or shall be appointed. I say received by me this 26 Day of February A D 1781 in presents. – Nicholas Louke. Robert Haxton, George Campbell, witness”

 

October 14, 1781 Daniel Dibble, Allen Sage Jr, Peleg Benjamin and Abner Wilcox engaged in Capt James Campbell’s detachment of Col John Ashley’s Berkshire Regiment. The roll was sworn to in Sheffield and the company marched to Saratoga at the request of Gen Stark and Gen Horatio Gates on an alarm. The men of Mount Washington were discharged October 19th paid for 10 days service including 4 days (80 miles) of travel home.

 

The town paid the state in 1782, one hundred and five pounds towards war expense. In April of that year the British Parliament ceased military force to regain control of the colonies but would not recognize American independence. On November 30, 1782 the United States sent Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and John Jay to Paris to sign the prelimary articles of peace with the British. Great Britain was to recognize American independence and evacuate all British troops. News of the provisional peace agreement did not reach Virginia until late April 1783. The Treaty of Paris signed September 3, 1783 ended the War and gave formal recognition to the United States and established its boundaries.

 

By the end of the Revolutionary War the residents of Mount Washington gained validation to their land holdings that had been under scrutiny for several decades and the independence of a new nation. On July 4, 1824 a celebration was held on the summit of Mount Everett commonly referred to as “the dome.” It is thought that the celebration was intended to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Mount Washington. 79 year old Revolutionary War veteran Charles Patterson of Mount Washington delivered an address in place of Norman Hicox of Sheffield whose fatigue from climbing the mountain from Sheffield prevented him from doing so as planned. Charles was followed by Rev Ebenezer Lamson who was a Baptist Chaplain during the Revolution and served from Connecticut. At 83 years of age he spoke of his revolutionary war experiences including anecdotes and songs of the Revolution. Flags projected from crevices of the rocks, a liberty pool was erected and tables were set holding refreshments in abundance. A cannon of considerable size was hauled up the mountain and salutes from the cannon and guns were frequently fired.

 

The Old Burial Ground in Mount Washington, also known as Ann Lee Cottage Cemetery and North Hughes Farm Cemetery, is commonly known as the oldest cemetery in Berkshire of white settlers. In it are the graves of Revolutionary War veterans Capt Charles Patterson and Lieut. John Dibble Jr. Capt John King referred to by Charles Patterson in a letter dated June 6, 1808 as an “old friend” is buried in the Mount Washington Cemetery in the center of the town. Rev Ebenezer Lamson a Revolutionary War veteran who served from Connecticut is buried there as well.

 

 

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Bibliography:

 

Berkshire, The First Three Hundred Years 1676-1976, published 1961, William H Tague & Robert B Kimball, The Eagle Publishing Company, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Library of Congress catalog card number 76-10890

 

Ancestry.com. Massachusetts Soldiers & Sailors in the War of the Revolution

 

Berkshire Geology, Collections of the Berkshire Historical & Scientific Society, Vol III, Pgs 319-335, James D Dana. Mount Washington Historical address June 1, 1907

 

History of Berkshire County, Mass., with Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men, Town of Mount Washington, Herbert Keith, Chapter XIII, Pgs 226-230

 

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