Biographies of the Last Six Survivors of the American Revolution
[Source: "The Last Men of the Revolution: A photograph of each from life, together with views of their homes printed in colors"
by E. B. Hillard, Hartford: N. A. & R. A. Moore, 1864]
Mr. Downing lives in the town of Edinburgh, Saratoga County; New York. His age is one hundred and two years. To reach his home, you proceed to Saratoga, and thence by stage some twenty miles to the village of Luzerne, on the upper Hudson. Here you are at once rewarded for your journey thus far. Few spots more beautiful are to be found. The river, flowing above it broad and free, at this point is compressed within a narrow gorge some twelve or fifteen feet in width, through which, after passing over a series of rapids known as Rockwell's Falls, it rushes with great rapidity and force, the sound of its waters filling the air with music and your heart with freshness, as you listen to them, ceaseless, by day or by night. Around the village tower the mountains of the region, southern spurs of the Adirondacks; one, a solitary, lofty dome, a landmark far and wide. But the gem of the village seemed to me its lake. This lies a little out of and above it, and for completeness and exquisiteness of beauty is not unworthy the vicinity of Lake George, from the head of which, connected with it by a series of lesser lakes, it is distant but twelve miles. I viewed it by moonlight on the evening of my arrival. The night was still, and the smoky haze that brooded over all the region subdued and softened the outlines of the mountain masses which are its setting. And there, in their mingled shadow and the moonlight, lay the lake, the forests fringing it to its very edge, its shores winding in and out among them, a beautiful wooded island rising from its centre, with the dip of oars and the voices of singers from parties of evening voyagers coming sweetly to the land, together forming a scene which for soft and dreamlike effect seemed more befitting the style of Italy than the stern and rugged, scenery of our northern America. Add to this the attraction of a pleasant hotel within near sight and sound of the river rapids, with one of the cheeriest and most obliging of landlords, and it is not strange that Luzerne should be adopted, as it is, as a place of summer resort by many families of wealth and leisure from the cities below.
From Luzerne the home of Mr. Downing is distant some twenty-five miles: up the valley of the Sacandaga river, and for it I set out early on the following morning. The Sacandaga is a branch of the Hudson, putting into it from the west just below Luzerne. Its,valley is narrow and walled in on both sides by high.mountains; those on the southern side, known as the Kayderasseras (the title of an early patent) or Greenfield Mountains, separating it from the valley of the Mohawk. It was through this valley that Sir John Johnson, in 1780, made his incursion from Canada by way of Crown Point into the Mohawk valley, and by the head of it and the Indian paths west of the Adirondack Mountains that he returned. Near the head of the valley the river makes a broad bend to the southwest round a point of hills, coming up on their western side to Lake Pleasant, its source. At the head of this bend, about midway between the lake and the river, upon the summit of the intervening highlands, stands the house of Mr. Downing, built by himself, the first framed house in the town of Edinburgh, seventy years ago. It was about noon when I reached there; and as I drove up I observed on the eastern side of the house, near the front corner of it, (the corner nearest you in the picture,) seated between two bee-hives, bending over, leaning upon his cane and looking on the ground, an old man, whom I at once concluded to be the object of my search. Indeed, once in the vicinity you have no difficulty in finding him, as all in the region know "Old Father Downing," and speak of him with respect and affection. The celebration of his one hundredth birthday, to which the whole country around gathered, served to make him acquainted, with many who might otherwise, in the seclusion of his age, have lost sight of him. On entering the yard l at once recognized him from his photograph, and addressing myself to him, said, "Well, Mr. Downing, you and the bees seem very good friends." (There was barely room for him between the two hives, and the swarms were working busily on both sides of him.) "Yes," he replied, "they don't hurt me and I don't hurt them."
On telling him that I had come a long way to see an old soldier of the Revolution, he invited me to walk into the house, himself leading the way. The day was extremely warm. I inquired of him which suited him best, warm weather or cold. "If I had my way about it"' he answered, "I should like it about so. But we can't do that: we have to take it as it comes." The day before had been one of the hottest of the season, so, much so that coming up by stage from Saratoga, we could scarcely endure the journey. Yet in the middle of it, the old man, they told me, walked some. two miles and a half over a very tedious road to the shoemaker's, got his boots tapped, and walked home again. Mr. Downing is altogether the most vigorous in body and mind of the survivors. Indeed, judging from his bearing and conversation, you would not take him to be over seventy years of age. His eye is indeed dim, but all his other faculties are unimpaired, and his natural force is not at all abated. Still he is strong, hearty, enthusiastic, cheery: the most sociable of men and the very best of company. He eats his full meal, rests well at night, labors upon the farm, "hoes corn and potatoes, and works just as well as anybody." His voice is strong and clear, his mind unclouded, and he seems, as one of his. neighbors said of him, "as good for ten years longer as he ever was." Seated in the house, and my errand made known to him, he entered upon the story of his life, which I will give as nearly as possible in the old man's own words.
"I was born said he, "in the town, of Newburyport, Mass., on the 31st of November, 1761. One day, when I was a small boy, my parents, went across the bay in a sail-boat to a. place called Joppa. They left me at home; and I went out into the street to play marbles with the boys. As we were playing, a man came along and asked if we knew of any boy who would like to go and learn the trade of spinning-wheel making. Nobody answered; so I spoke up, and said, 'Yes, I want to go.' 'Where are your parents?' asked he. 'They aint at home,' said I; 'but that wont make no odds; I will go.' So he told me that if I would meet him that afternoon at Greenleaf's tavern, (I remember the tavern keeper's name,) he would take me. So I did. They asked me at the tavern where I was going. I told them I was going off. So we started; he carried me to Haverhill, and the next day to Londonderry, where we stayed over Sunday. It was the fall of the year. I remember the fruit was on the ground, and I went out and gathered it. I was happy yet. From Londonderry he carried me to Antrim, where he lived. His name was Thomas Aiken. Antrim was a wooded country then. When I got there I was homesick; so I went into the woods and sat down on a hemlock log, and cried it out. I was sorry enough I had come. When I went back to the house they accused me of it; but I denied it. I staid with Mr. Aiken till after the breaking out of the war, working at wheels during the day and splitting out spokes at night. I had lived with him so six years. He didn't do by me as he agreed to. He agreed to give me so much education, and at the end of my time an outfit of clothes, or the like, and a kit of tools. So I tells aunt, (I used to call Mr. Aiken uncle an his wife aunt,) 'Aunty, Uncle don't do by me. as he agreed to. He agreed to send me to school, and he hasn't sent me a day;' and I threatened to run away. She told if I did they'd handcuff me and give me a whipping. 'But,' said I, 'You'll catch me first, wont you, Aunty?' 'O,' she said, 'they'd advertise me."
"Well, the war broke out. Mr. Aiken was a militia captain; and they used to be in his shop talking about it. I had ears, and I had eyes in them days. They was enlisting three years men and for-the-war men. I heard say that Hopkinton was the enlisting place. One day aunt said she was going a-visiting. So I said to myself, 'That's right, Aunty; you go, and I'll go too.' So they went out, and I waited till dinner time, when I thought nobody would see me, and then I started. I had a few coppers, but I darsn't lake any of my clothes, for fear they'd have me up for a thief. It was eighteen miles, and I went it pretty quick. The recruiting officer, when I told him what I'd come for, said I was too small. I told him just what I'd done. 'Well,' said he, 'you stay here and I'll give you a letter to Col. Fifield over in Charlestown and perhaps he'll take you.' So, I staid with him; and when uncle. and aunt came home that night they had no Sam. The next day I went and carried the letter to Col. Fifield, and he accepted me. But he wasn't quite ready to go: he had his haying to do; so l staid with him and helped him through it, and then I started for the war. Uncle spent six weeks in looking for me, but he didn't find me."
"But did your parents hear nothing of you all this time?"
"Yes Mr. Aiken wrote to them about a year after he stole me. They had advertised me and searched for me, but at last concluded I had fallen off the dock and been drowned.
"The first duty I ever did was to guard wagons, from Exeter to Springfield. We played the British a trick; I can remember what I said as well as can be. We all started off on a run, and as I couldn't see anything, I said, 'I dont see what the devil we're running after or running away from; for I can't see anything.' One of the officers behind me said, 'Run, you little dog, or I'll spontoon you.' 'Well' I answered, 'I guess I can run as fast as you can and as far.' Pretty soon I found they were going to surprise a British train. We captured it; and among the stores were some hogsheads of rum. So when we got back to camp that night the officers had a great time drinking and gambling; but none for the poor soldiers. Says one of the sergeants to me, 'We'll have some of that rum.' It fell to my lot to be on sentry that night; so I couldn't let 'em in at the door. But they waited till the officers got boozy; then they went in at the windows and drew a pailful, and brought it out and we filled our canteens, and then they went in and drew another. So we had some of the rum; all we wanted was to live with the officers, not any better.
Afterwards we were stationed in the Mohawk Valley. Arnold was our fighting general, and a bloody fellow he was. He didn't care for nothing; he'd ride right in. It was 'Come on, boys!' 'twasn't 'Go, boys!' He was as brave a man as ever lived. He was dark-skinned, with black hair, of middling height. There wasn't any waste timber in him. He was a stern looking man, but kind to his soldiers. They didn't treat him right: he ought to have had Burgoyne's sword. But he ought to have been true. We had true men then; twasn't as it is now. Everybody was true: the tories we'd killed or driven to Canada."
"You don't believe; then, in letting men stay at their homes and help the enemy?"
"Not by a grand sight!" was his emphatic reply, "The men that caught Andre were true. He wanted to get away, offered them everything. Washington hated to hang him; he cried, they said."
The student of American history will remember the important part which Arnold performed in the battle connected with the surrender of Burgoyne. Mr. Downing was engaged.
"We heard," he said, "Burgoyne was coming. The tories began to feel triumphant. One of them came in one morning and said to his wife, "Ty (Ticonderoga) is taken, my dear.' But they soon changed their tune. The first day at Bemis Heights both claimed the victory. But by and by we got Burgoyne where we wanted him, and he gave up. He saw there was no use in fighting it out. There's where I call 'em gentlemen. Bless your body, we had gentlemen to fight with in those days. When they was whipped they gave up. It isn't so now.
"Gates was an 'old granny' looking fellow. When Burgoyne came up to surrender his sword, he said to Gates, 'Are you a general? You look more like a granny than you do like a general." 'I be a granny,' said Gates, 'and I've delivered you of ten thousand men to-day.'
"Once, in the Mohawk valley, we stopped in William Johnson's great house. It would hold a regiment. Old Johnson appeared to us: I don't know as you'll believe it. The rest had been out foraging. One had stolen a hive of honey; some others had brought in eight quarters of good mutton, and others, apples and garden sauce, and so forth. Ellis and I went out to get a sack of potatoes, some three pecks. When we got back to Johnson's, as we were going through the hall, I looked back, and there was a man. I can see now just how he looked. He had on a short coat. What to do with the potatoes we didn't know. It wouldn't do to carry them into the house; so I ran down cellar. When the man got to the middle of the hall, all at once he disappeared. I could see him as plain - O, if I could see you as plain!
" By and by they began to talk about going to take New York. There's always policy, you know, in war. We made the British think we were coming to take the city. We drew up in line of battle: the British drew up over there, (pointing with his hand.) They looked very handsome. But Washington went south to Yorktown. La Fayette laid down the white sticks, and we threw up entrenchments by them. We were right opposite Washington's headquarters. I saw him every day."
"Was he as fine a looking man as he is reported to have been?".
"Oh!" he exclaimed, lifting up both his hands and pausing, "but you never got a smile out of him. He was a nice man. We loved him. They'd sell their lives for him." I asked, "What do you think he would say if he was here now?"
"Say!" exclaimed he, "I don't know, but he'd be mad to see me sitting here. I tell 'em if they'll give me a horse I'll go as it is. If the rebels come here, I shall sartingly take my gun. I can see best furtherest off."
"How would Washington treat traitors if he caught them?"
"Hang 'em to the first tree!" was his reply.
He denounces the present rebellion, and says he only wishes to live to see it crushed out. His father and his wife's father were in the French War. His brother was out through the whole war of the Revolution. He has a grandson now in the army, an officer in the Department of the Gulf, - a noble looking young man, as represented by his photograph. He has been in the service from the beginning of the war.
'"When peace was declared," said the old man, concluding his story of the war, "we burnt thirteen candles in every hut, one for each State."
I have given his narrative in his own words, because to me, as I listened, there was an unequaled charm in the story of the Revolution, broken and imperfect though it was, from the lips of one who was a living actor in it. The very quaintness and homeliness of his speech but added to the impression of reality and genuineness. I felt as I listened to him that the story which he told was true.
At the close of the war, Mr. Downing returned to Antrim, "too big," as he said, "for Aunty to whip." Soon after his return, he married Eunice George, aged eighteen years. She died eleven years ago. By her he had thirteen children. Three of these are now living. The one with whom he resides is his youngest son, and, though himself seventy-three years old, his father addresses him still as "Bub." He came from Antrim to Edinburgh in 1794, "And to show you," said he, "that there was one place I didn't run away from, I will give you this," handing me the following certificate
TO ALL WHOM IT MAY CONCERN.
"It must have been a pretty wild country when you came here?"
"O, there wasn't a marked tree; it was all a wilderness."
"How came you to come?"
They said in Antrim we could live on three days' work here as easy as we could on six there. So we formed a company to come. There were some twenty, but I was the only one that came. I sold my farm there, one hundred and ten acres, for a trifle; and my brother and I came out here to look. As soon as we got here and saw the country I said to my brother, 'I've given my farm away, and have nothing to buy another with: so I've got to stay here. But you've sold well: so you go right back and buy another." All the land round here was owned by old Domine Gross. I took mine of a Mr. Foster; and when I'd chopped ten acres and cleared it and fenced it, I found my title wasn't good: that Mr. Foster hadn't fulfilled the conditions on which he had it of Mr. Gross. So we went down together to see the Domine about it. I told him I'd paid for the land. 'No matter,' said he, 'it isn't yours.' 'But,' said I, 'Mr. Gross, I've chopped ten acres and cleared it and fenced it; aint I to have anything for my labor?' 'I don't thank you',' he replied, 'for cutting my timber.' Then I began to be scared. So says I, 'Mr. Foster, I guess we'd better be getting along towards home.' 'O, you can have the land,' says the old Domine, 'only you must give me fifty pounds more; and you can make me a little sugar now and then.' 'Well,' said I, 'I will go over to your agent and get the papers.' 'O, I can do the writing,' said he. So I paid the money and got the land."
And on it he has lived and labored for seventy years. Its neighborhood to his old battle-grounds might have had its influence in determining his selection of it for a home.
At the age of one hundred, Mr. Downing had never worn glasses, or used a cane. The fall before, he had pulled, trimmed, and deposited in the cellar, in one day, fifteen bushels of carrots. His one hundredth birthday was celebrated by his neighbors and friends, upon his farm, with a large concourse, estimated at a thousand persons, the firing of one hundred guns, and an address by George S. Batcheller, Esq., of Saratoga. On this occasion the old man cut down a hemlock tree five feet in circumference, and later in the day a wild cherry tree near his house, of half this size. He says he could do it again, and it is likely that he could. The trees were sold upon the ground, and stripped of their branches by those present for canes and other mementoes of the occasion. The stump of the larger one was sawed off and carried to Saratoga by Robert Bevins, of that place. The axe with which the trees were cut was sold for seven dollars and a half.
Mr. Downing lives very comfortably with his son, James M. Downing. His health has always been good. His pension, formerly eighty dollars a year, was increased at the last session of Congress to one hundred and eighty dollars; He pays no particular attention to his diet; drinks tea and coffee, and smokes tobacco. He gets tired sometimes, his son says, during the day; but his sleep at night restores him like a child. It is a curious circumstance that his hair, which until lately has been for many years silvery-white, is now beginning to turn black. In a lock of it, lying before me as I write, there are numerous perfectly black hairs.
By religious persuasion, Mr. Downing is a Methodist. "Why," said he, "I'll tell you: because they are opposed to slavery, and believe in a free salvation."
He is as staunch in his religious belief as he is in his personal character; expounds his faith intelligently and forcibly; believes thoroughly what he believes, and rejects earnestly what he rejects. Among the latter is the doctrine of reprobation, concerning which he tells the story of a controversy which he had with an old Methodist preacher, who held and preached the doctrine.
"'You believe,' said he, 'that God from eternity has elected a part and reprobated a part of mankind ?'
'Yes,' replied the preacher, 'that is my belief.' 'Have you wicked children?' 'Yes.' 'Do you pray for them ?' 'Yes.' 'Have you wicked neighbors?' 'Yes.' 'Do you pray for them?' 'Yes.' 'But how do you know but they are reprobated?' He didn't say anything in reply then. A while after I met him, and asked him if he still believed in reprobation. 'No.' he answered, 'I've thrown away that foolish notion."'
Mr. Downing's faith in the Invisible is firm and clear, and his anticipation of the rest and reward of Heaven strong and animating. He greatly enjoys religious conversation, invokes a blessing at the table; and when prayer was offered, at his request, responded intelligently and heartily, in true Methodist style. Doubtless, when the earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved, he will find awaiting him "a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
The sun was drawing low as I left him, to return to Luzerne. My interview with him had been most interesting and delightful. I parted from him with regret. His eyes filled with tears as, in bidding him good-bye, I mentioned that better country where I should hope again to meet him. As I rode away, I turned my eyes southward over the valley of the Mohawk, bounded in the dim distance by the Catskill Mountains. I felt anew how great the change which a hundred years has wrought, which a single lifetime covers. I had just parted from a man still living who had hunted the savage through that I valley now thronged with cities and villages - in place of the then almost unbroken wilderness, now fair fields and pleasant dwellings - in place of constant peril and mortal conflict, now security and peace; and my heart swelled afresh with gratitude to the men who had rescued their land from the tyrant and the savage, and had made it for their children so fair and happy a home.
Mr. Cook was born in Northbury, Litchfield county, Connecticut, September 10, 1759. He enlisted at Cheshire, in that state, when only sixteen years old. He was mustered in "at Northampton, in the Bay State, 2nd Regiment, Light Dragoons, Sheldon, Col.; Stanton, Capt." He served through the war, and was discharged in Danbury, June 12, 1784. The circumstances of his enlistment and early service he relates as follows: 'When I applied to enlist, Captain Hallibud told me I was so small he couldn't take me unless I would enlist for the war. The first time I smelt gunpowder was at Valentine's Hill (West Chester, New York). A troop of British horse were coming. 'Mount your horses in a minute,' cried the colonel. I was on mine as quick as a squirrel. There were two fires - crash! Up came Darrow, good old soul! and said, 'Lem, what do you think of gunpowder? SmelI good to you?'
"The first time I was ordered on sentry was at Dobbs' Ferry. A man came out of a barn and leveled his piece and fired. I felt the wind of the ball. A soldier near me said, 'Lem, they mean you; go on the other side of the road.' So I went over; and pretty soon another man came out of the barn and aimed and fired. He didn't come near me. Soon another came out and fired. His ball lodged in my hat. By this time the firing had roused the camp; and a company of our troops came on one side, and a party of the French on the other; and they took the men in the barn prisoners, and brought them in. They were Cow Boys. This was the was the first time I saw the French in operation. They stepped as though on edge. They were a dreadful proud nation! When they brought the men in, one of them had the impudence to ask, 'Is the man here we fired at just now?' 'Yes,' said Major Tallmadge, 'there he is, that boy.' Then he told how they had each laid out a crown, and agreed that the one who brought me down should have the three. When he got through with his story, I stepped to my holster and took out my pistol, and walked up to him and said, 'If I've been a mark to you for money, I'll take my turn now. So, deliver your money, or your life!' He handed over four crowns, and I got three more from the other two."
Mr. Cook was at the battle of Brandywine and at Cornwallis' surrender. Of the latter he gives the following account: "It was reported Washington was going to storm New York. We had made a by-law in our regiment that every man should stick to his horse: if his horse went, he should go with him. I was waiter for the quartermaster; and so had a chance to keep my horse in good condition. Baron Steuben was mustermaster. He had us called out to select men and horses fit for service. When he came to me he said, 'Young man, how old are you?' I told him. 'Be on the ground to-morrow morning at nine o'clock,' said he. My colonel didn't like to have me go. 'You'll see,' said he 'they'll call for him to-morrow morning.' But they said if we had a law, we must abide by it. Next morning, old Steuben had got my name. There were eighteen out of the regiment. 'Be on the ground,' said he, 'to-morrow morning with two days' provisions.' 'You're a fool,' said the rest; 'they're going to storm New York.' No more idea of it than of going to Flanders. My horse was a bay, and pretty. Next morning I was the second on parade. We marched off towards White Plains, Then, 'left wheel,' and struck right north. Got to King's Ferry, below Tarrytown. There were boats, scows, &c. We went right across into the Jerseys. That night I stood with my back to a tree. Then we went on to the head of Elk. There the French were. It was dusty; 'peared to me I should have choked to death. One of 'em handed me his canteen; 'Lem,' said he, take a good horn - we're going to march all night. I didn't know what it was, so I took a full drink. It Iiked to have strangled me. Then we were in Virginia. There wasn't much fighting. Cornwallis tried to force his way north to New York; but fell into the arms of Lafayette, and he drove him back. Old Rochambeau told 'em, 'I'll land five hundred from the fleet, against your eight hundred.' But they darsn't. We were on a kind of a side hill. We had plaguey little to eat and nothing to drink under heaven. We hove up some brush to keep the flies off. Washington ordered that there should be no laughing at the British; said it was bad enough to have to surrender without being insulted. The army came out with guns clubbed on their backs. They were paraded on a great smooth lot, and there they stacked their arms. Then came the devil - old women, and all (camp followers). One said, 'I wonder if the d----d Yankees will give me any bread.' The horses were starved out. Washington turned out with his horses and helped 'em up the hill. When they see the artillery, they said, 'There, them's the very artillery that belonged to Burgoyne.' Greene come from the southard: the awfullest set you ever see. Some, I should presume, had a pint of lice on 'em. No boots nor shoes."
The old man's talk is very broken and fragmentary. He recalls the past slowly, and with difficulty; but when he has fixed his mind upon it, all seems to come up clear. His articulation, also, is very imperfect; so that it is with difficuIty that his story can be made out. Much of his experience in the war seems gone from him; and in conversation with him he' has to be left to the course of his own thoughts, inquiries and suggestions appearing to confuse him. At the close of the war, he married Hannah Curtis, of Cheshire, Connecticut; and lived a while in that vicinity; after which he removed to Utica, New York. There he had frequent encounters with the Indians who still infested the region. One with whom he had some difficulty about cattle, at one time assailed him at a public house, as he was on his way home, comlng at him with great fury, with a drawn knife. Mr. Cook was unarmed; but catching up a chair he presented it as a shield against the Indian's thrusts, till help appeared. He says he never knew what fear was, and always declared that no man should take him prisoner alive. His frame is large, his presence commanding; and in his prime he must have possessed prodigious strength. He has evidently been a man of most resolute spirit; the old determination still manifesting itself in his look and words. His voice, the full power of which he still retains, is marvellous for its volume and strength. Speaking of the present war, he said, in his strong tones, at the same time bringing down his cane with force upon the floor, "it is terrible; but, terrible as it is, the rebellion must be put down!" He still walks comfortably with the help of a cane; and with the aid of glasses reads his "book," as he calls the Bible. He is fond of company, loves a joke, and is good-natured in a rough sort of way. He likes to relate his experiences in the army and among the indians. He has voted the Democratic ticket since the organization of the government, supposing that it still represents the same party that it did in Jefferson's time. His pension, before its increase, was one hundred dollars. It is now two hundred dollars. The old man's health is comfortably good; and he enjoys life as much as could be expected at his great age. His home, at present, is with a son, whose wife, especially, seems to take kind and tender care of him. Altogether, he is a noble old man; and long may it yet be before his name shall be missed from the roll of his country's deliverers. [Source: "The Last Men of the Revolution", by Rev. Elias Hillard, 1864]
There were many circumstances which rendered the anticipation of a visit to him one of great pleasure and satisfaction. Known, as he was, to all his countrymen, all felt acquainted with him and interested in him; while his intelligence, his wide familiarity with men and events, and, until of late, the full possession and vigor of his faculties, with his eminently social disposition, the freshness of his feelings, and his undiminished interest both in the past and the present, combined to render an interview with him, in prospect, one of the rare privileges of a lifetime. Most painful, therefore, was my disappointment on reaching his house to find the realization of these anticipations forever forbidden; the communion of life, so pleasant and prolonged, forever terminated; its story, told so often and so willingly, to be told no more. The hour so long awaited at last had come. Death was dealing with the old man. Already he had done with earthly things; and, passed into the border realm between the seen world and the unseen, he was awaiting in passive unconsciousness the opening of those mansions in his Father's house, where so long there had been prepared for him a home.
A fall down a flight of steps, a short time before, though resulting in no immediate bodily injury, gave such a shock to his nervous system that he sunk under it; and his life, already enfeebled by his extreme age, ebbed quietly and painlessly away. The sight of him, as he lay upon his dying bed, was beautiful and touching. It was like the slumber of a child. His look was as peaceful and pleasant as when in health; and upon his wasting features there rested the serene and sweet expression of gentle goodness, breaking, for the moment, into a smile, as, on being addressed, he roused to answer, and then sank again into his dreamless sleep; and as you gazed you no longer wondered at the tender and devoted affection which you saw manifested towards him in that home. To see him, even without knowing him, was to love him; and as he lay there, so loved and tended not only with earthly ministries, but, as you could not doubt, with heavenly, the promise, so precious to the believer, seemed already, by anticipation, fulfilled. Already he had entered into, rest. A short time after, on Saturday, the 30th of July, at half-past one in the afternoon, he breathed his last. His age was one hundred and one years, ten months, and twenty days.
Daniel Waldo was born in Windham, (Scotland Parish,) Conn., on the 10th of September, 1762. He was the son of Zaccheus and Tabitha (Kingsbury) Waldo, and was the ninth of thirteen children. His native town will be remembered as the scene of the famous "Battle of the Frogs" and the fright of the inhabitants thereupon, which formed so favorite a theme of the humorous ballad literature of the pre-revolutionary period. The old meeting-house, too, is well known, through the curious and amusing description of it given by President Dwight in his "Travels." "The spot," he writes, "where it is posited bears not a little resemblance to a pound, And it appears as if those who pitched upon it intended to shut the church out of the town and the inhabitants out of the church.'
The earliest ancestor of Mr. Waldo in this country was Deacon Cornelius Waldo, of Ipswich, as early as 1654. The line of descent is. as follows: Deacon Cornelius; John, of Boston, the first Windham settler; Deacon Edward; Zaccheus; and Rev. Daniel. In the female line he was connected, through his great-grand-mother, Rebecca Adams, with the family to which Presidents John and John Quincy Adams belonged. At the time of his death, he was the oldest native of Windham; and at the last commencement of Yale College, he was reported as the oldest living graduate, belonging to the class of 1788.
His connection with the war of the Revolution begun in 1778. In that year, being then sixteen years old, he was drafted as a soldier for a month's service at New London. He subsequently enlisted for eight months in the servlce of the State; and during the term of this enlistment, in March, 1779, was taken prisoner by the tories at Horseneck. This will be recollected as the spot rendered famous by Putnam's escape, on horseback, down the stone steps from the height on which the continental troops, were posted. The circumstances of Mr. Waldo's capture, as, given by himself to the artist who took his photograph, were as follows: One of the guards, on leaving his beat one stormy night, failed to give him warning, and thus the tories surprised him. One of them snapped a musket at him, but it only flashed in the pan; whereupon he laid down his own musket and made signs of surrender. But one of the enemy, on pretense that he was about to pick it up again, made a thrust at him with his bayonet, which failed to pierce him. He thereupon demanded to be treated as a prisoner of war; and lying down, the attacking party passed over him into the house which he was guarding, capturing the whole company (thirty-seven in number) which it contained. With his fellow prisoners Mr. Waldo was carried to New York, where he was confined in the far-famed "Sugar House" for about two months. There, with the exception of short rations, he was well treated. This terminated his immediate connection with the war. Upon his release by exchange, he returned to his home in Windham, and resumed his labors on the farm.
At the age of about twenty, becoming hopefully a Christian, he resolved to devote himself to the ministry; and after a brief period spent in preparation, he entered Yale College, and graduated, with honors, in 1788. He was a member, while in college, of its most ancient literary society, the Linonian. Among his classmates were Dr. Chapin, of Rocky Hill; James Lanman, U. S. Senator from Connecticut; and the eminent Jeremiah Mason, of Massachusetts, with whom he roomed during the last two years of his college life. He studied theology, after the manner of his time, with Rev. Dr., Hart, of Preston; and, after about a year spent in the study, was licensed to preach by the Windham Association, October 13, 1789. After preaching in several places, for a short time in each, he was ordained on the 24th of May, 1792, as pastor of the church at West Suffield, where he remained eighteen years. Here he was married to Mary Hanchett, by whom he had five children. In 1805, Mrs. Waldo became insane, and died seven years ago, after having been in this state uninterruptedly for upwards of fifty years. "I lived," said the old man, in speaking of it, "fifty years with a crazy wife."
On leaving Suffield, Mr. Waldo went to Columbia, where he preached a few Sabbaths. While there, a military review took place, and Mr. Waldo was invited to dine with the company. At the table there was a good deal of swearing; and upon the captain remarking to Mr. Waldo, in the course of the dinner, that he was glad he had come to dine with them, and that in this he differed from some of his brethren who had declined similar invitations, Mr. Waldo, raising his voice so as to be heard by all present, replied, "My Master was not afraid to dine with publicans and sinners, and I am not." As may be supposed, there was no more swearing during the dinner.
Early in the present century, Mr. Waldo made some missionary tours, in the employ of the Missionary Society of Connecticut, to the states of New York and Pennsylvania, at that time the "Far West." In 1811, he went, under the patronage of the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, to Rhode Island, where he labored nine years. Then, for a few months, in 1820, he supplied the pulpit in Harvard, Massachusetts; after which he returned to Connecticut, and in a short time became pastor of the church in Exeter, where he remained twelve years.
In 1835, he removed to the state of New York, where his son had settled a short time before. In 1856, he accompanied his son's family to Syracuse, where he spent the remainder of his days. For more than seventy years he was a minister in the Congregational Church.
On the 22d of December, 1856, upon the motion of Hon. Mr. Granger; the representative from his district, Mr. Waldo being then ninety-six years of age, was chosen chaplain of the House of Representatives; to which honorable position he was re-elected the following year.
During the exercise of this office he was called to preach the funeral sermon of Preston Brooks, the ruffian Assailant of Hon. Charles Sumner, which he did from the text, "To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.'' Upon what principle this text was selected is not known. Upon reflection, it occurs that the point of connection may be the circumstance that the words were originally addressed to a malefactor. While connected with Congress, he spent most of his time in reading, which he greatly loved - not wishing, as he used to say, to hear "the quarrels in the House." On the Sabbath after he had completed his century he preached in the Second Presbyterian church, Albany, a sermon which he had just prepared, and which, it is said, would have done no discredit to him in the meridian of his life. His last sermon was preached after he had entered upon his one hundred and second year.
Mr. Waldo never saw either Washington or La Fayette. He served for a short time as chaplain at New London, in the year 1812. In the present conflict with rebellion he was intensely loyal, greatly desiring to live till the rebellion should be suppressed. He had implicit faith in the ultimate success of the Union arms and the re-establishment of the authority of the National Government over all the states.
President Lincoln he deemed honest, but not decided enough. He thought that the leaders of the rebellion should be dealt with in such a manner that no one would dare, in the future, to repeat the experiment.
In his personal habits, Mr. Waldo was very careful and regular. His standing advice was to "eat little." He drank tea and coffee. The control of the temper he deemed one of the most important conditions of health, declaring that a fit of passion does more to break down the constitution than a fever. His mental vigor he retained wonderfully to the last. His memory was excellent, differing from that of most aged people, in that he retained current events with the same clearness as the earlier incidents of his history.
The closing years of Mr. Waldo's life were passed in great comfort, in the family of his son. Everything that affection could prompt or refinement suggest, he there enjoyed. His pension, until the last year of his life, had been ninety-six dollars a year; a hundred dollars was added to it a few months before he died. But this was not needed to secure to him every condition possible of the enjoyment of life. The tenderest ministries of filial affection were bestowed upon him. Of these, a lock of his hair lying before me, soft, silvery, silky, is mute but touching witness. The circle of his friends embraced not only the best society of the city where he dwelt, but the eminent and noble of the land. Wherever he appeared in public, it was only to receive the sincerest honors which a grateful and loving people could pay him; and in his death he is regretted by all. He lived long to witness and enjoy the greatness and glory of his country; and his death was graciously delayed till its still loftier greatness and higher glory were assured.
The words of one who knew him intimately, and who has recorded his life more worthily, will fitly close this sketch:
"Mr. Waldo possessed naturally a clear, sound, well balanced mind, with little of the metaphysical or the imaginative. He was a great reader, eagerly devouring every work of interest that came within his reach. His spirit was eminently kind and genial, and this, united with his keen wit and large stores of general knowledge, made him a most agreeable companion.
He was one of the most contented of mortals.
Though he experienced many severe afflictions, and had always
from an early period of his ministry one of the heaviest burdens
of domestic sorrow resting upon him, his calm confidence in God
never forsook him, nor was he ever heard to utter a murmuring
word. As a preacher, he was luminous, direct, and eminently practical;
his manner was simple and earnest, and well fitted to command
attention. At the close of a life of more than a hundred years,
there is no passage in his history which those who loved him
would wish to have erased."
A few miles from Mr. Cook, at Adam's Basin, on the Rochester and Niagara Falls division of the Central Railroad, lives ALEXANDER MILLINER, fourth of the survivors visited.
Mr. Milliner was born at Quebec on the 14th of March, 1760. His father was an English goldsmith, who came over with Wolfe's army as an artificer, his wife accompanying him. At the scaling of the Heights of Abraham, he was detailed for special service, and at the close of the battle, lying down to drink at a spring on the plain, he never rose again; the cold water, in his heated and exhausted condition, causing instant death.
His widow remained a while at Quebec, where, as has been said, in the following spring Alexander was born.
While he was yet young, his mother, - whom her son describes as "'English, high larnt, understood all languages, had been a teacher," - removed with him to New York, where, becoming acquainted with a man by the name of Maroney, a well-to-do mason, she married him. This explains the circumstance of Mr. Milliner's name appearing on the pension roll as "Alexander Maroney," - his step-father, by whom, on account of his youth, he was enlisted, doing it under his own name. The enlistment, Mr. Milliner says, was at New York; though the record of the Pension Office gives it at Lake George. The pension roll, too, gives ninety-four years as Mr. Milliner's age. This is manifestly an error of ten years; since the battle of Quebec, the fall before his birth, occurred on the 13th of September, 1759. On the 14th of March, of the present year, therefore, Mr. Milliner was one hundred and four years old.
Too young at the time of his enlistment for service in the ranks, he was enlisted as drummer boy; and in this capacity he served four years, in Washington's Life Guard. He was a great favorite, he says, with the Commander-in-Chief, who used frequently, after the beating of the reveille, to come along and pat him on the head, and call him his boy. On one occasion, "a bitter cold morning," he gave him a drink out of his flask. His recollection of Washington is distinct and vivid: "He was a good man, a beautiful man. He was always pleasant; never changed countenance, but wore the same in defeat and retreat as in victory." Lady Washington, too, he recollects, on her visits to the camp. "She was a short, thick woman; very pleasant and kind. She used to visit the hospitals, was kind-hearted, and had a motherly care. One day the General had been out some time. When he came in, his wife asked him where he had been. He answered, laughing, 'To look at my boys.' 'Well,' said she, 'I will go and see my children.' When she returned, the General inquired, 'What do you think of them?' 'I think,' answered she, 'that there are a good many.' They took a great notion to me. One day the General sent for me to come up to headquarters. 'Tell him,' he sent word, 'that he needn't fetch his drum with him.' I was glad of that. The Life Guard came out and paraded, and the roll was called. There was one Englishman, Bill Dorchester; the General said to him, 'Come, Bill, play up this 'ere Yorkshire tune.' When he got through, the General told me to play. So I took the drum, overhauled her, braced her up, and played a tune. The General put his hand in his pocket and gave me three dollars; then one and another gave me more - so I made out well; in all, I got fifteen dollars. I was glad of it: my mother wanted some tea, and I got the poor old woman some." His mother accompanied the army as washerwoman, for the sake of being near her boy.
He relates the following anecdote of General Washington: "We were going. along one day, slow march, and came to where the boys were jerking stones. 'Halt' came the command. 'Now, boys,' said the General, 'I will show you how to jerk a stone.' He beat 'em all. He smiled, but didn't laugh out."
Mr. Milliner was at the battles of White Plains, Brandywine, Saratoga, Monmouth, Yorktown, and some others. The first of these he describes as "a nasty battle." At Monmouth he received a flesh wound in his thigh. "One of the officers came along, and, looking at me, said, 'What's the matter with, you, boy?' 'Nothing,' I answered. 'Poor fellow,' exclaimed he, 'you are bleeding to death.' I looked down; the blood was gushing out of me. The day was very warm. Lee did well; but Washington wasn't very well pleased with him." General Lee he describes as "a large man. He had a most enormous nose. One day a man met him and turned his nose away. 'What do you do that for, you d --d rascal?' exclaimed he. 'I was afraid our noses would meet', was his reply. He had a very large nose himself. Lee laughed and gave him a dollar."
Of Burgoyne's surrender he says, "The British soldiers looked down-hearted. When the order came to 'ground arms,' one of them exclaimed, with an oath, 'You are not going to have my gun!' and threw it violently on the ground, and smashed it. Arnold was a smart man; they didn't sarve him quite straight."
He was at the encampment at Valley Forge. "Lady Washington visited the army. She used thorns instead of pins on her clothes. The poor soldiers had bloody feet." At Yorktown he shook hands with Cornwallis. He describes him as "a fine looking man; very mild. The day after the surrender, the Life Guard came up. Cornwallis sat on an old bench. 'Halt!' he ordered; then looked at us - viewed us."
Of the Indian warfare in the Mohawk valley, Mr. Milliner has broken recollections. Of the attack on Fort Stanwix, he gives the following graphic description: "The Indians burnt all before them. Our women came down in their shirt tails. The Indians got one of our young ones, stuck pine-splinters into it, and set them on fire. They came down a good body of 'em. We had a smart engagement with 'em, and whipped 'em. One of 'em got up into a tree - a sharp-shooter. He killed our men when they went after water. The colonel see where he was, and says, 'Draw up the twenty-four-pounder and load it with grape, canister, and ball.' They did it. The Indians sat up in a crotch of the tree. They fired and shot the top of the tree off. The Indians gave a leap and a yell, and came down. Three brigades got there just in the nick of time. The Massachusetts Grenadiers and the Connecticut troops went forward, and the Indians fled."
In all, Mr. Milliner served six years and a half in the army. The following is a copy of his pension certificate:
UNITED STATES of AMERICA - WAR DEPARTMENT
Besides his service the army, Mr. Milliner has served his country five years and a half in the navy. Three years of this service was on board the old frigate Constitution, he being in the action of February 20, 1814, in which she engaged the two British ships, the Cyane and the Levant, capturing them both. While following the sea he was captured by the French and carried into Guadaloupe. As prisoner there, he suffered hard treatment. Of the bread which he says he has eaten in seven kingdoms, he pronounces that in the French prison decidedly the worst.
He still has the little tin case, in which in the old days of British seizure and search, he used to carry his protection papers. The papers themselves are lost.
At the age of thirty-nine, Mr. Milliner married Abagail Barton, aged eighteen; and, settled in Cortlandt county, New York. To my inquiry, how he came to settle there, his reply was, "O, I kind o' wandered round." For sixty-two years he and his wife lived together, without a death in the family or a coffin in the house. His wife died two years ago. They had had nine children, seven of whom are now living. The oldest was born in 1800. He has also forty-three grand children, seventeen great-grand-children, and three great-great-grand-children. At the time of his wife's death, Mr. Milliner was still able to cultivate his garden; his age being one hundred and two years.
Mr. Milliner's occupation since he settled down in life has been that of farming. His temperament has ever been free, happy, jovial, careless; and to this, doubtless, is largely owing the extreme prolongation of his life. He has been throughout life full of jokes; in the army he was the life of the camp; could dance and sing, and has always taken the world easily, "nothing troubling him over five minutes at a time," care finding it impossible to fasten itself upon him, and so, after trial, letting him alone. His spirits have always been buoyant, nothing depressing him.
Mention has been made of his wound at the battle of Monmouth. At another time a bullet passed through the head of his drum. At the time his photograph was taken he could still handle his drum, playing for the artist with excellent time and fluorishes which showed him to have been a master of the art. He sang also, in a clear voice, several songs, both amorous and warlike; singing half a dozen verses successively, giving correctly both the words and the tune.
''His sight is as good yet as when young. He reads his Bible every day without the aid of glasses. His memory is clear respecting events which ocurred eighty or ninety years ago; though he finds difficulty in giving long, connected accounts.
In size, he is small, more so than his picture would indicate. Though never robust, his health has always been good. This has not been from any special carefulness in his habits - in which he has been careless
- rather giving himself and his health no thought. He uses tea and coffee, and still takes regularly his dram. His home is at present with his son, Hon. I. P. Milliner, of Adam's Basin. His every wish is gratified, so far as is compatible with his welfare; and even when this is forbidden, still there is no necessity of denying him, since his wish, when expressed and nominally assented to, is at once forgotten by him; and if he is not reminded of it, is never thought of again.
In the present conflict with treason, Mr. Milliner's sympathies, as with all his surviving Revolutionary comrades, are enlisted most strongly on the side of the Union; he declaring that it is "too bad that this country, so hardly got, should be destroyed by its own people." He inquires every day or two about the army; and expresses the desire to live to see the rebellion crushed. At the outbreak of it, he wanted to take his drum and go down to Rochester, and beat for volunteers. Two years ago, in September, he presided over a meeting for raising recruits for the One Hundred and Fortieth New York Regiment. His presence at the meeting, it is said, caused great excitement and enthusiasm.
Upon his last birthday (his one hundred and fourth), the Pioneers of Monroe county - a veteran association whose headquarters are at Rochester - went out in a body to Adam's Basin, to pay their respects to their aged associate. Arrived at the Basin, and marching in procession to the house where the old man resides, he appeared upon the steps, and was greeted with cheers. After many had shaken hands with him, the procession was re-formed, the old man heading it, and marched to the church, where, after the singing of Washington's Funeral Hymn by the Pioneers and a short historical address, Mr. Milliner stood up on a seat where all could see him, and thanking them for their kind attention, appealed to them all to be true to their country, saying that he had seen "worse looking visages than his own hung up by the neck." Since that time, his health has rapidly failed; and it is now unlikely that he will live to see another birthday.
WILLIAM HUTCHINGS, whose photograph is the fifth in the series, was born in York, York county, Maine, (then Massachusetts,) in 1764. He is, therefore, in his one hundred and first year. Mr. Hutchings' connection with the war of the Revolution was but limited. He enlisted at the age of fifteen for the coast defense of his own state; and this was the only service in which he was engaged during the war. The only fighting which he saw was at the siege of Castine, where he was taken prisoner; but the British, declaring it a shame to hold as prisoner one so young, promptly released him.
His pension, until the late addition to it, was only twenty-one dollars and sixty-six cents. The father of Mr. Hutchings had in his early manhood been familiar with military service, having served in the French War and been engaged in the siege and capture of Louisburg. In his old age he used to say that he had served under George II., George III., and also under George Washington, and was ready to serve under Madison. He lived to see his descendants of the fifth generation, by some of whom he was followed to the grave. At the time of his death, there were living, of those who derived their life through him, ten children, eighty-eight grand-children, two hundred and thirty-five great-grand-children, and seventeen great-great-grand-children, - in all, three hundred and fifty.
At the time of the capture of Louisburg he was a youth of only sixteen years of age, having been born in 1742. In 1768 he removed with his family from York to Penobscot - William, the subject of our sketch, being then four years old.
The region at that time was mainly a wilderness, Mr. Hutchings, senior, being one of the earliest settlers in it. Here he remained for ten or twelve years, clearing a farm and establishing a home under the usual conditions of hardship and suffering incident to pioneer life. His son still recalls those experiences of childhood in his father's house. At times, he says, they were scarcely able to obtain food enough to satisfy the cravings of hunger; and he has dug clams for their meal, when he was obliged to stop and rest while at his work from faintness through want of food. They were finally, however, beginning to live comfortably when the British took possession of the neighboring town of Castine, and drove his father from his home, who fled with his family to Newcastle, where he abode till the close of the war, while William remained to fight the foe.
Shortly after the close of the war, Mr. Hutchings was married, at the age of twenty-two years. As the fruits of this union, there were born to him fifteen children, all but one of whom lived to be married. He has been throughout life an early riser and a hard worker; not particularly regular in his habits, often going without food till he could get what he relished; especially, living near the sea, and being fond of sea food, delaying his meal until it could be procured. He smokes regularly, and uses spirituous liquors moderately. His mind is still vigorous, though his body is feeble. Memory is good, retaining dates especially, so that he is a referee in the family in matters of history. He is deeply interested in the present conflict, his whole soul being enlisted in the cause of his country. Speaking of General Grant and his prospects of success in his campaign against Richmond, he concluded by saying, "Well, I know two old folks up here in Maine who are praying for him."
He has lost four or five grand-children in the war.
His views on the subject of slavery are radical, he declaring that "God will never suffer it to exist in this country''
The old man now lives in the house which he himself built. It stands on an elevation at the head of Penobscot Bay, surrounded by the rugged headlands of the region, above which, seaward, in the distance, rise the blue peaks of Mount Desert; while in the hollow of the hills beneath quietly ebbs and flows the never-resting sea.
The name of ADAM LINK introduces the closing sketch of the pensioners of the Revolution. Since his picture was taken he, also, has passed away by death. He was born in Washington county, near Hagers town, Maryland, November 14, 1761. He died at Sulphur Springs, Crawford county, Ohio, August 15, 1864. His age was one hundred and two years, nine months, and one day.
The circumstances of Mr. Link's life were humble, and his part in the war unimportant. He enlisted at the age of sixteen, in Wheeling, Virginia, for the frontier service, and spent five years in that service, most in the vicinity of Wheeling. During this time, his, father, Jacob Link, was murdered by the Indians in his own house. Mr. Link was in no important battle of the war. The only interesting circumstance of his soldier life was his companionship with Poe, the famous Indian hunter, the incident of whose meeting with the Indian chief upon the shore of the lake whither both had withdrawn from the fight, to wash out their guns, (become foul through use) - Poe completing first the cleansing of his, and so gaining the first shot, which brought down the Indian, and saved his own life, is familiar.
At the age of twenty-eight years, he married Elizabeth Link, a distant relative of his, her age being seventeen. After this event, being fond of change, he roamed about from place to place, living but a short time in each; and so spent the earlier part of his life. At the age of sixty, he walked from his home in Pennsylvania to Ohio, a distance of one hundred and forty-one miles, accomplishing it in three days, an average of forty-seven miles a day. When seventy years of age, he set about clearing a farm, living the while in a house the main wall of which was formed by the flat roots of an upturned tree. Although always a hard worker, he was always poor, the account of which his habits, which were always irregular, partly furnishing, and part may be set down to the score of that ill luck which seems to dog the steps of some men through life. However, he cleared quite a farm after passing the limit of three score years and ten, and remained for some time on it. Finally, he went to live with his son-in-law in Crawford county, 0hio, where he resided until his death.
Perpetuating the habits of the frontier service, Mr. Link roughed it through life. His constitution must have been of iron to have endured his irregularities and excesses. He paid no attention to his manner of eating, either in quantity, quality, or time; and He was addicted to strong drink. He labored severely and constantly. Notwithstanding all, his health was good till near the very close of his life. A few years before, during a severe thunder storm, his sight was strangely affected by the lightning. For a long time, everything appeared distorted and askew; men had bent legs and bodies, chickens were twisted out of shape, and the keyhole of his trunk tormented him by the figures which it assumed. From this affection, however, he recovered, though never so as again to read. A short time before his death, he suffered a stroke of paralysis, which deprived him of the use of his limbs to some extent, and made his utterance difficult. However, it left his hearing good and his intellect unimpaired. Upon the artist (at his visit for the purpose of procuring his picture) telling him that he had come a long way to see him, he replied, "You can see me cheap now. Whatever else," he continued, "they may say of me, no man ever could call me a coward." He has persistently refused to have his picture taken - that given in this series being secured without his knowledge; the family fearing the proposal would provoke him, and thus defeat the attempt. In politics, Mr. Link declared himself a "Jeffersonian Democrat;" though his last vote was Republican. He said but little about the present war, frequently forgetting that one was in progress, and when reminded of it, he failed altogether to comprehend it. One of his great-grand-sons is in the army.
At the writing of this sketch, he is the last of the survivors of the Revolution known to have died.
This is the name of a soldier of the Revolution - one of the twelve surviving pensioners reported by the Commissioner of Pensions to Congress in February last - of whom it is not known whether he is living or dead. All that is known of him is, that he is recorded in the General Pension Office as "on the St. Louis, Missouri, roll, at $32.33 per annum; born in Southampton county, Virginia, May 18, 1764; age, 100 years and 7 months;" and that he was reported by the St. Louis Pension Agency, in March last, as at that time residing in Greene county, in that state. Endeavor has been made to find him and procure his photograph and a sketch of his life, but thus far without success. As no intelligence, however, has been received at the Pension Office of his death, the hope may be indulged that he is still living.
All the remaining pensioners included in the Commissioner's report are known to be dead.
These, then, are the Last Men of the Revolution:
As we name them, our thoughts recall those other seven men, the first of the great series of which these are the last:
Those - the men of Lexington - opened the roll of devotion and glory; these close it. How grand a roll! How signal the period which these names respectively inaugurate and conclude! How great and how important a part of the world's history do these lives embrace! How vast they seem, - the lives of individuals, yet commensurate with an epoch in the life of the race! To the student of history there is profound satisfaction in such living connection of one of its great periods with another. The lover of his country will even recognize a favoring Providence in the signal prolongation of their lives - so far beyond the ordinary limit of human existence - as though it were that the first great conflict of the national development might, through its living representatives, impart its sanction and transmit its inspiration to the second.
But from these more general reflections we turn, in closing, to the men. And well we may; for while the lessons which their lives teach us will remain with us, they themselves will soon be gone. Already their loneliness affects with tender pathos our hearts, - so far away from what to them were life and friends, - so few of all once comrades in battle and victory!
But before they pass to join those far encampments, we rejoice to pay them the tribute of a nation's gratitude and honor. We honor them in the significance (now through like experience perceived anew) of the great conflict in which they bore a part, and of which they stand to us the representatives. Nor to us alone. For as the Revolution was an event, not in American history only, but in the history of the world, - since the rights contended for in it were "the rights of human nature," - so these few humble men, its alone survivors, are objects of the liveliest interest - the most sacred regard to every lover of liberty throughout the world. They stand forth in all their lowliness to all lands and nations and times; the representatives of that great movement in human history which vindicated liberty as possible to and the right of all.
With this distinction we may leave them, rejoicing to see how time, over all earthly circumstance, at last crowns and enthrones devotion to a good cause.
To those engaged in the preparation of this memorial, it has been a grateful service. For not only is it a rare privilege, from their historic associations, to have seen these men, but there is that in them which awakens regard, as well as excites interest. They are good old men, kindly, pleasant, Christian; waiting humbly, patiently, and hopefully till their change come. May God support and comfort their closing days! And before they close, may this brief, common record of their lives afford them gratification, as, strangers hitherto, in it they meet, as it were, together: and, comrades in the old common conflict, take each other by the hand, and look into each other's faces, and tell to one another the story of their lives, before they say the last farewell.
[The publishers append a letter received from a medical friend to whom they had shown the advance pages of their little work:]
DEAR SIRS: I thank you for the opportunity of reading the very interesting account of these old patriots "who have come down to us from a former generation." From before the first war of Revolution, their lives have extended to the greater second Revolution. Beginning life more than a century ago, with hundreds of thousands of their fellows, in their ascending path to the period of manhood, they saw more than half of their number fall out by the way from disease or accidents: during the the most active period and before they came to the down-hill side of life, their ranks became thinner by swift degrees, until having passed beyond the usual extent of life's march, they are come out a solitary few!
Observations made in vital statistics within the last fifty years, with reference to life insurance, have reduced to a degree of accuracy the probabilities of life for any given age, up to three score and ten; but how many of a population will live beyond a hundred years? A leader of myriads might well weep to engage in the calculation! The number is so few that larger tables are necessary than any that have been compiled, in order to approach any accurate result. The number varies in different countries, and also in different portions of the same country. A rural population, that lives with sufficient necessaries and few luxuries of life, contented and laborious in the open air, shows the largest number of centenarians. In the state of Connecticut, during the year 1863, there were four deaths of those over a hundred years old, - two males and two females. During the year 1828, there were in France one hundred and twenty-eight persons who had attained their hundredth year - this in a population of about thirty millions.
It is known that there are more female centenarians than male.
What influences have conduced to such long lives? These six old patriots were of different temperaments, of different stature, and have pursued very different vocations, without much resemblance in their habits of life. Mr. Waldo and Mr. Cook were large and vigorous. Mr. Link is short and stout, with all the good and bad tendencies of the sanguine temperament. Mr. Downing is small, with the nervous temperament predominating; while Mr. Milliner is quite small, not half as large as Mr. Cook, and not vigorous.
They have not been alike careful of their health. Mr. Waldo was prudent in regard to food, and faithfully avoided all excesses; while Mr. Link has lived without any rule or restraint. The others have not been abstemious overmuch, nor yet has either one been intemperate.
A sprightly Frenchman has said, that to prolong life it is necessary to have a bad heart and a good stomach. The latter quality is essential; by the former he meant, a disposition not easily moved, not enthusiastic. He is so far right; and a temperament not of the susceptible sort is the most favorable to long life. Such was the case with Mr. Waldo particularly. But, as if to confound a rule Which seems obviously so correct, the case of Mr. Downing is quite opposite. He is of the nervous temperament. He is easily and strongly moved by all exciting subjects, and so has been through life.
These venerable men seem to agree in several particulars. They have all led industrious, useful lives, and were active in the use of their limbs. They have been cheerful, genial, good-humored, and withal blessed with good stomachs. A good intellectual condition has accompanied them to the end, and is as remarkable as the persistence of their physical powers. Those who have died seemed not to have had a long period of dotage, which is so common in those growing old. The good use of the mind is favorable to the health of the body. Idiots and insane people are not long lived. Among those who have devoted their lives to science and literature, longevity is notoriously common. It is unnecessary to mention well known names: the fact is well established.
A certain serenity and contentment of mind is noticeable in these old men. They have not been a prey to the corroding passions: the well-timed pensions from the government, for which they took up arms in their younger days, have removed the cares and anxieties for their temporal concerns, which often harrass the aged. A firm, calm, religious belief, and a confiding hope in the future, have added beauty as well as strength to their latest years. So we see, that the life which is happiest and best here, has the earnest of that life which is eternal,
The revival of interest in the pensioners of the Revolution, which has been so marked and beautiful a feature of the national life of the present year, and of which this work is a product, originated in the following action of the House of Representatives in March last. On the 14th of the month, the Committee on Revolutionary Pensions reported a resolution, which was unanimously adopted, "tendering thanks to the surviving soldiers of the Revolution, twelve in number, for their services in that war by which our independence was achieved and our liberty obtained, and sincerely rejoicing that their lives have been protracted beyond the period usually allotted to man; and that they receive a sum of money, as pensioners, which shall smooth the rugged path of life on their journey to the tomb; and that copies of this resolution be sent by the Speaker to each Revolutionary pensioner."
Of these twelve men, seven are accounted for in the preceding pages. Of the remaining five, it is known that they are all dead. Indeed, four were already dead when the report was rendered, as will appear from the following evidence:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, PENSION OFFICE, Nov. 29, 1864.
PENSION AGENCY ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt., March 19, 1864.
N. A. & R. A. MOORE, Hartford, Ct.
Giving the deaths in the order of time, the dates are as follows:
Amaziah Goodwin, June 22, 1863; Benjamin Miller, September 24, 1863; John Goodnow, October 22, 1863; Jonas Gates, January 14, 1864; John Pettingill, April 23, 1864; Daniel Waldo, July 30, 1864; Adam Link, August 15, 1864.
This leaves (of the twelve reported) five living. And with this agrees the report of the Secretary of the Interior lately rendered (December, 1864) to Congress, from which the following is an extract: "Of these patriots to whom pensions for services in the Revolutionary, war had been awarded, five still live at very advanced ages." Of these five, the following are the dates of birth in order:
Lemuel Cook, September 10, 1759; Alexander Milliner, March 14, 1760; Samuel Downing, November 31, 1761; William Hutchings, - 1764; James Barham, May 18, 1764.
These give their ages at the date of this note as follows: Lemuel Cook, 105 years and 3 months; Alexander Milliner, 104 years and 9 months; Samuel Downing, 103 years; William Hutchings, 100 years; James Barham, 100 years and 7 months.
One of these five men will be the last survivor of the American Revolution. Which will It be?
How great will be the break when he is gone!
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