A Revolutionary Love Story

During the American Revolution there was a teenager named Elizabeth Raymond, who lived with her parents and sister and brother in New Bedford, NY, where her parents ran a tavern. Elizabeth’s father was a member of Clan Raymond of Scotland where he had married her mother, a member of the Ruthven family. He and his bride emigrated to the colonies, settled in New Bedford and raised their family. During the war, he and his wife traveled to New York City to buy supplies. Elizabeth, her sister and brother stayed at home with an African couple to mind the tavern until her parents’ return. Early one evening, the children heard thieves stealing the family’s chickens. Elizabeth found a gun and fired it into the night. The thieves, it turned out, were British soldiers, who fled when they heard the shot, thinking they had been discovered by a nearby contingent of the Colonial Army. The shot did bring the American guard so the British did not return.

The next day, General George Washington and his party, among them a Capt. James Pardee, came to the tavern and dined on some of the chicken. Pardee complimented young Elizabeth on her bravery and quick thinking and laughingly remarked that he would return after the war and marry her.  In the same spirit she replied, “Come on!”.  Well, he did, and they did.

James and Elizabeth Pardee had 12 children. Their daughter, Elizabeth (1785-1848), had a daughter, Olivia in 1817. Olivia married Jacob Seamans Robinson and had a son, Charles, born 1851. Jacob was captured during the Civil War and died at Andersonville Prison, July 27, 1864. Olivia, faced with the challenge of raising her young family alone, eventually became a toll taker on a highway. Her life is a story in itself for another day! Charles Louis Robinson had a daughter, Margaret Elizabeth. Margaret married Norman Nelson Alger and had a daughter,Norma, in 1911. Norma Alger Smith was my paternal grandmother. The pot in which that fateful chicken dinner was cooked, was about a foot in diameter and for many years was passed down in the family.  The last known owner was Mary Susan Gerow, granddaughter of James Pardee Jr. and Elizabeth Raymond Pardee. Although no one knows what happened to the pot, the story that went with it has been passed down from generation to generation to us.

I supposed Grandmother must have told me the story at some point but so far as I know it was lost until I found it while helping my father sort through family keepsakes during a visit shortly before he passed away last year. Also in the papers was James Pardee’s family history. James was the son of Ebenezer Pardee, baptized in 1699 in Connecticut. Ebenzer was the son of George Pardee, born 1656 in New Haven Connecticut.  George owned a ferry in East Haven, CT. George was the son of George Pardee born 1624 in England.  So that means he must have come to the colonies sometime between 1624 and 1656.  That George was the son of Rev. Anthony Pardee, who was baptized 7/17/1591 at Pitminster and Taunton, England, and his wife, Anstice Cox, baptized 6/25/1587, married 5/3/1614.

So – for my children and grandchildren, this is your family history too. We are very fortunate that Grandmother took the time to do the research and also that we not only have the public records of births, deaths, marriages and baptisms, but we also have these stories that make our ancestors “real” for us. That is a real gift.

Post Script: Recently I visited with a dear cousin who was kind enough to gift me with a couple of items from the family homestead in West Amboy, NY (the same farm from which came the vinegar jug, milking stool and candle mold). One of the items was this curious old three legged pot, encrusted with years of soot and seasoning from untold meals cooked over an open hearth. A curious little pot  . . . about a foot in diameter.

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About wisdomseason

Embracing both the hard scrabble self sufficiency and resilience of my ancestors and the burgeoning Information Age to help make family experience richer, healthier and happier. Maturity does not mean I cannot approach every day with the same excitement I felt as I swung my skinny legs over my bike on a summer morning, bag lunch in my basket, for a day of riding and hiking the woods and fields around my home in upstate New York or went blackberry picking in the heavy cicada song drenched afternoons at my grandmother's in Kentucky. Let's explore!
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