Simeon Covell

     Simeon Covell moved up from Dutchess County, New York and settled in White Creek in 1768, leasing two pieces of land in Lot #14 of the Walloomsac Patent from Abraham Ten Broeck and Gerardus Groesbeck respectively. (Lot #14 originally all belonged to Abraham Ten Broeck, but Groesbeck was married to Abraham’s daughter Maria, so some of the land had probably changed hands prior to 1768). This gave Covell just over 127 acres in total, though he claimed to have 22 acres more he didn’t have the deeds for. He formally purchased this lease land in May and June of 1775, probably because he began building a nice new house in 1774. This gave him possession of a little over 1/3 of the 340 acre division. Ebenezer Allen would have been in possession of another 1/3, and who owned or leased the last third is uncertain at present. The land was laid out more or less in long irregular strips running the length of the lot.

Simeon also purchased 54 acres in the James Bain Patent from John Munro in 1775, which he later sold to his brother-in-law Nicholas Mosher in 1776 for almost double what he paid for it. Simeon held a mortgage on it but never got the money as both of them had to flee the country in 1777. Bain’s Patent would have been the White Creek end of Duncan MacVicar’s “Clarendon Township”, which he turned over to John Munro when he returned to Scotland in 1772.

He further owned 200 acres in Shaftsbury under a New Hampshire Grant, which he also paid New York for to ensure ownership, and had purchased a lease of 340 acres in White Creek from John Curtis, Joseph Bruton, and Joseph Morgan who themselves had leased from John Delancy. This would probably be all of Lot #9 of the Walloomsac Patent, along North Hoosick Road, though it is hard to be sure.

Simeon owned a pearl ash work (probably on his farm in White Creek), and three pot ash works, two in White Creek (Cambridge) and one in Bennington. He had a prospering store on his farm along the “Great Highway leading from Vermont to Albany and New City” (Lansingburgh), which would have most likely been situated either along the southwestern section of Meeting House Road or possibly the lower end of Quaker Hill Road. The store sold pearl-ash and potash, normal store goods, and bought butter and cheese from local residents which he resold to a Mr. French in New City. Besides his store, he had a stable, barn, and a newly built house in 1775. All of this had disappeared by 1784, even the fences, probably destroyed or stolen for building materials. A man named Hammond had bought a half-acre and was trying to start a new store there in the 1780’s.

Simeon Covell married Susannah Mosher in 1772 in Cambridge (or White Creek). Both families came by the route many White Creek settlers followed, from RI, CT, and MA through the Oblong of Dutchess County and on to White Creek. Susannah died prior to 1780, possibly in childbirth. Simeon never seems to have remarried.

Of interest is the fact that he claimed 4/5ths interest in a schoolhouse. This was probably on or near his farm as he had three children and would have invested in a school so they could get an education, not in one farther away. The earliest school known in White Creek to date was the Free Academy in the Hamlet, but it looks like White Creek had a school for at least some of its children prior to the Revolution. Who owned the other fifth I don’t know, nor what children were allowed to attend. Simeon’s oldest was still too young when he fled to Canada.

He had an indentured servant and four black slaves, one of which he took with him when he joined Burgoyne. The others were seized and sold by John Younglove along with all his other property, which amounted to quite a bit in crops and livestock, plus pearlash and potash. The buyer appears to have been Charles Deake (or Dake), who lived near Center White Creek and was a prominent member of Waite’s Baptist Church.

Simeon was imprisoned in Albany twice in 1776 and early 1777, for a total of about 4 months, due to his outspoken Loyalist position, even though he was supervisor of the Cambridge District. He probably fought at the Battle of Bennington with Col. Peters’ “Queen’s Loyal Rangers”, as he was formally mustered in to that corps on August 22 with the rank of Captain, along with the 53 (or 56) men he had brought. When Burgoyne surrendered, he and three of his remaining 39 men, along with Peters and his men, slipped away and headed for Canada. He also claimed to have served as a volunteer under Col. James Delancy (owner of some of the Walloomsac Patent), in some 12 to 15 actions, and under Ebenezer Jessup.  Much of this information comes from his “Memorial” to the British Government for compensation for his losses. He eventually was awarded compensation, but only about a third of what he had claimed in losses.

After fleeing to Canada in 1777, he returned to New York City in 1778 to recruit but was unsuccessful and likely soon returned to Canada. His children were banished to a point behind enemy lines by John Younglove in October 1780, along with Elizabeth Hogle and Jane Hogle, whose husbands had been killed at the Battle of Bennington. The usual method in carrying this out was to specify a gathering point, then when the people being banished were assembled with the required two week’s provisions, to convey them up the Hudson to Crown Point on Lake Champlain, where British Vessels under a flag of truce picked them up and conveyed them north to Canada. Somehow Covell’s children avoided this, probably with the help of the Moshers, and ended up at Quaker Hill in Dutchess County. There they stayed until 1786, when Simeon quietly re-entered the country through NYC after a 67 day voyage from England and took them back to Canada. He describes this in the following letter originally published in Historical Magazine, a magazine published between 1866 and 1876:

DUTCHESS COUNTY, 1st of December 1786

Reverend. Sir.

By the mercy of God I arrived in good health in New York after a passage of sixty seven

days and immediately proceeded to Quakerhill where I had the pleasure to find

my children well. I find the spirit of people in general cool towards men of my

description, yet, there remains sufficient of the more violent to render my situation unsafe

were I to be public, and I believe the more so from the distress which the people in

general feel (viz) their trade ruined, by various means, which are obvious, to the smallest

capacity, by many captures and depredations committed by the Algerians, England,

France and Spain and likewise the Dutch, restricting their navigation so as to render it

unprofitable. Nothing by anarchy and confusion throughout, Boston state at present

prevented of the exercise of their own laws, by the mob, Vermont the same, New York

state in distress for bread, by means of a vermin not much unlike a lows, which for two

years past has destroyed all the wheat, so that the inhabitants buy at New York to supply

the County of Dutches with bread, formerly such a wheat country. However, this

calamity is not considered by any means to be the act of Providence, but rather the cruel

malice of Great Britain and there adherence by sending jarmin troops whom they say

brought over this insect to distress the land, however strange it may seem. True it is the

people generally call it the jarmin lows and flatter themselves that they shall soon be rid

of them as they had been of the vile propagators. I am preparing and in a few days shall

be on the route for Canada with my family but I shall take care to find out the particulars

respecting the confiscation of your lands, though I cannot myself be known on that or any

other business, yet I shall employ others that it may be done. Permit me sir to

acknowledge your favors and attention to me in my business when preparing to leave

London. I am further to request the favor that if Doctor Munro should leave England he

will be so good as to lodge all the papers belonging to me in the hands of my friend

Colonel Ebenezer Jessup and take his receipt for them, the receipt please to leave with

Philip Skeen Esquire at No. 5 Field Row, Chelsea, and let me know of the matter by a

line directed to the care of Mr. Dobry Marchant in Montreal and if anything new or

important respecting the loyalists. I had forgot to mention that among other calamities

here in the States, the Indians are daily scalping and destroying the back settlements

wherever it is said war is declared and a large force sent against them. My eyes never saw

nor my ears heard such complicated scenes of distress. Nothing but complaints and

murmurings among all orders and ranks of people. The Congress it seems faults the

legislature of the separate States for not adopting their recommendation. The legislature

complains of the public for not holding to and fully complying with the laws, the popular

clamor that the tax is unsupportable, that if justice had been done the sales of the Tory

estates would have lessened the burden. In a word, every man seems to incline to do

whatever suits his turn, thieving and other crimes of like nature are so prevalent that

house nor barn, man or beast is not safe night nor day and it seems to be growing evil. I

consider, however, that I have already transposed on time and may on your patience to

ready such disagreeable truths.

I am Sir your most devoted and obedient humble servant, Simeon Covell


Reverend Doctor Henry Munro

No. 66 Castle St. near Oxford Road, London

Favored by the ship Betsey

Watson Master

      In the letter Simeon refers to the Shays Rebellion which was underway, and the generally desperate condition in America at the time. Economic collapse, Indian warfare and runaway criminality seemed rampant. He also refers to a two-year wheat crop failure on which I can find no information, but which the Americans seemed to be blaming on a deliberate British version of biological warfare.

      Simeon returned to Canada with his children and settled between Oswegatchie and Cataraqui on the north bank of the St. Lawrence. Though he had been stripped of nearly everything by the war, like Job in the Bible he ended up better off than he had before. By his death in 1801 he owned over 3200 acres of land and was quite wealthy.

Main Source of Information: The Memorial of Simeon Covell.