After Burgoyne’s surrender in 1777 the big battles in the north were over and the British resorted to guerrilla raids from Canada to tie up American resources and terrorize the populace. These took two forms – large raids by Loyalist units accompanied by Indians to wipe out farmsteads and small communities, and smaller “abduction raids” usually carried out by squads of 4 to 8 white men for the purpose of kidnapping prominent citizens, who were then questioned for information and either ransomed back or used in prisoner exchanges. The Mohawk Valley took the hardest hits, as Sir Guy Johnson’s Indian allies took part and were familiar with the area. However, the raiders also struck further east, even into Vermont.
At the same time Vermont established itself as an independent country, unwilling to join the new United States until the issue of its boundaries was settled. New York still claimed to the Connecticut River, and New Hampshire had claimed to the “twenty-mile line”, about where the present border is. In 1781, Vermont asserted a claim west to the Hudson River, including present day White Creek.
The People Involved:
John Younglove: The Younglove family came from New Jersey, John was the son of Isaiah. John and his wife married in Schagticoke and settled in White Creek in 1772. He was a blacksmith and farmer. He was strongly in favor of the Revolution and devoted himself to removing “Tories” from the area and confiscating their land and property. He served in the NY militia, as a member of the Committee of Sequestration, a member of the New York Legislature for ten years, and as a judge in Cambridge.
Joseph Bettys: Joe settled in Ball’s Town (Ballston) in 1772 with his parents. An American war hero, he fought with the first US Navy at the Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain, taking over command of his ship after all the officers were killed and fighting on until it sank under him. He and his surviving men were taken aboard a second ship, which eventually had to surrender to the British. While a prisoner, Bettys was “turned” and joined Jessups Rangers. He was suspected of guiding John Munro’s men in the 1780 raid on Ballston. He himself led a number of raids, was captured and tried as a spy, but pardoned by Washington through the influence of influential Americans in Ballston on the promise of reform. He was soon back to recruiting and raiding in the Ballston area until captured in the winter of 1781-2 with an encrypted message, and was hanged as a spy.
James Parrott: James settled in White Creek in 1768, marrying Maria Lake, daughter of John and Maria Lake, and buying a 100 acre farm from his in-laws, which would most likely be in the Van Corlaer/Lake Patent. He had cleared 80 acres by the Revolution and had a log house, barn, and livestock. He was an outspoken loyalist, as were the Lakes, and went north in November of 1776 to Crown Point to wait for Burgoyne to come south. He joined the Captain Peters’ Corps of the Queen’s Loyal Rangers, which later was merged with the King’s Loyal Rangers under Jessup. He fought with the loyalists at the Battle of Bennington. At Burgoyne’s surrender, he went north to Canada. He had a brother John in Massachusetts who took the other side in the war.
On July 18 of 1781, four Loyalist abduction squads left Fort St. John on the Richelieu heading south for the Albany area. John Meyer took seven men to abduct Philip Schuyler, Joseph Bettys took four men to abduct Samuel Stringer near his home of Ball’s Town, Matthew Howard five to abduct John Bleecker in Schaghticoke, and Groves three to abduct a Col. Paine. Lt. Parrot’s squad isn’t mentioned but must have left a day or two later, as circumstances show them a day or two behind the others.
Things quickly went wrong. A deserter warned the authorities. Around July 28th, Bettys decided to abandon his target and persuade a young woman to run off with him. His men strongly disagreed, so he told them to pursue the target themselves while he went after the girl. They left him and went back to Canada. Matthew Howard was captured near present day Hoosick Falls. The search for the LeGrange girl Bettys had taken away forced Meyer into hiding and is likely why James Parrot found his way to the south blocked. Little is known of Groves or his target. Meyer and his men remained in hiding until early August and carried out their raid, but only succeeded in abducting two guards and some silverware.
After finding the country roused and the way to the south blocked on July 30, James Parrot and his men, number unknown but probably under 7, decided that John Younglove would be a good alternative target. He lived nearby and James was familiar with both Younglove and White Creek. He also had good reason to carry a grudge, as his possessions and land had been seized soon after the Battle of Bennington, almost certainly by John. John Younglove also served on the Committee for Sequestration and was involved in ordering Loyalists out of the country.
Parrott scouted out the house, which was most likely near where Barnwalls’ Farm is now, and found it guarded by nine men. Five were in a hay rick nearby (probably sleeping), while four were standing guard. According to the account, Parrott and his men slipped by the hayrick and surrounded the house and called on Younglove to surrender. He replied “fire and be damned, I can fire as fast as you”. When Parrotts men saw a gun being leveled, they opened fire. Apparently the guards took to their heels at this point, but Younglove still refused to surrender, so after shouting at him to get away from the door as they were about to break it down, Parrott fired through it. Mrs. Younglove then opened the door and Parrott found John Younglove lying on the floor, apparently mortally wounded. He and his squad then headed for Canada, probably believing the fleeing guards would bring back reinforcements.
There are a few problems with this account. Parrott certainly wouldn’t have left men in the hay rick to shoot at him from behind, so he must have either captured or disarmed them before proceeding. If they had stacked their arms, he could have just quietly removed them. Or perhaps they only had four muskets between them, and shared them as they stood watch. Guns were expensive and many could not afford one.
On the way home, Parrott heard that John Younglove had died, and reported it so, but John actually recovered and died at age 77 in 1821. John became a colonel. He is buried in the White Church Cemetery in Cambridge, NY, USA.
James Parrot after the war settled at Ernestown in the Bay of Quinte area of Ontario. (as did his in-laws, the Lakes). He became a land speculator, farmer, and prominent Methodist, a chapel was built on his land in 1792. A bay there is still called “Parrott Bay”. He also served as Lt. Col. of the 1st Battalion of Addington Militia during the War of 1812. He died at age 79 on May 5, 1821 and is buried in Fellows Cemetery. In the late 1790’s, he was reconciled with his brother John, probably through the efforts of Rev. Elijah Woolsey, whom John had conveyed up the Mohawk in 1795. John moved his family to Ontario near James and settled there around 1800.
Joe Bettys hid his girlfriend when he got back and was arrested and jailed until he turned her over, but by the time he did the authorities were convinced that if they sent her home Bettys would follow her and repeat the same events, so they did nothing. He was captured near Ball’s Town (Ballston) in the winter of 1781-2 carrying an encrypted message and was tried, convicted, and hanged as a spy in 1782
There are a number of differing accounts of these events, and reconciling them is difficult, but this is the best I can do at this time. Further refinement may happen in the future!