Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Turn: The Original Culper Spy Ring Members

Simcoe's back!
Filming season 4
"Turn: Washington's Spies" is my favorite show currently on the air (going into the 4th and final season this year), and is easily near or at the top of my list of all-time favorite television shows.
No foolin'.
It is so well done in nearly every way: from the script to the clothing, the amazing sets, and, of course, the story line.
And the fact that it is based in American history - the Revolutionary War! - makes it that much better!
However, for all the good, it's not perfect.
And, I suppose, we would be hard-pressed to expect it to be, given the track record of the way history has been presented on TV and in the movies. Yeah..."Turn" does like to fabricate the truth a bit as well. But, as I began doing some lite research on the Culper Spy Ring, I found that there has been a lot more real history thrown into the show than I originally realized. This was a very pleasant surprise for me. And as I read the interesting biography bits on our heroes - the real stories about Abraham, Benjamin, Caleb, and some of the others - I was surprised at how many of the TV show's ideas came directly from their actual operations.
This, of course, leads directly into this week's posting....
As in some of my other historical accounts, much of what you are about to read is a sort of Reader's Digest collection of notes and information that were taken from a variety of sources. I did, however, make the effort to change some of the style into my own by adding a few additional phrases here and there.
Some of the photos herein were taken from stills of earlier seasons, but the few you see of season 4 were scammed off of a couple of TURN Facebook pages (click Here, Here, and Here). Some were even taken by 'amateur photographers' who happened to be lucky enough to be around during the filming of this much anticipated season. I figured they might be fun to look at while reading of the actual historical Culper participants. A sort of oxymoron in a way, I suppose.
So, to begin with, let's look at the spy ring itself - - - 

~The Culper Spy Ring:
Filming season 4
The British occupied New York City in August 1776, and the city would remain their stronghold for the duration of the Revolutionary War. The Culper Ring, also known as the Setauket Spy Ring, was a group whose purpose was keeping General George Washington aware of the movements of the British in New York City and Long Island.
Some credit Nathan Hale’s capture and execution with having launched the Culper Spy Ring. Hale, a young Patriot, volunteered for an intelligence-gathering mission to the city, but the British - Robert Rogers, in fact - captured Hale carrying drawings of their fortifications in his shoe and hanged him on September 22, 1776. 
If I may, I'd like to include here a very well-written narrative by Michael Schellhammer from Journal of the American Revolution on the death of Nathan Hale, for the words herein eloquently give us an up-close and personal vision of what occurred: 
Think for a moment about the tragic
 thoughts that ran through Hale’s mind...
On Sunday, September 22, 1776, Redcoats marched Hale to their encampment next to the Dove Tavern, today Third Avenue and Sixty-Sixth Street.  Nearby was a tree with a ladder against it and a freshly-dug grave.  A noose hung from one of the tree’s branches about 15 feet above the ground.  With his hands bound behind him, Hale shakily climbed to the top of the ladder and his captors allowed the traditional final words.
Think for a moment about the tragic thoughts that ran through Hale’s mind as he saw his early, ignoble death as a spy slowly approaching.  He may have replayed the events of his capture over and over in his head, wishing he had made different choices.  As a devoted Congregationalist, he may have felt comfort at going to meet his maker on a Sunday.  But he probably knew that whereas a proper noose snapped a man’s vertebrae for an instant death when tied correctly and placed under the victim’s chin – an improper noose merely tightened around the neck, and slowly strangled a person to death.
There is no trustworthy record of Hale’s exact last words.  The accounts with his “I only regret . . ..” line were published much later, and some historians question their validity.  If Hale actually said those words, he was probably paraphrasing “What pity is it that we can die but once to serve our country,” from Cato, by Joseph Addison; one of his favorite plays.
Possibly the most reliable account of Hale’s death comes from Lt. Frederick MacKenzie, a British officer who witnessed the execution and noted in his diary that Hale “behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.”  That alone ought to cinch Hale an honorable place in the history books.
With Hale’s last words, soldiers kicked the ladder away.  The hangman was a recently escaped slave, inexpert in the trade, and Hale probably suffered an agonizing death.  His body was left swinging for a few days as an example, and some soldiers hung a board on the corpse with “General Washington” written on it.
Hale’s death illustrated the grave dangers inherent in spying for the Patriots.
 
The Setauket Culper Spy Ring:
Brewster, Woodhull, Strong, and Tallmadge.
Alas, poor Robert Townsend was not 
yet in the picture...
In summer 1778 General Washington asked 24-year-old Major Benjamin Tallmadge from Setauket, Long Island, to recruit people who could be trusted to collect good information in New York City. Tallmadge had been Nathan Hale’s college roommate at Yale. Perhaps with Hale in mind, Tallmadge established an elaborate system of riders and couriers, consisting of friends he made when he was a youngster on Long Island, including Austin Roe, Caleb Brewster, Abraham Woodhull, and Anna Strong. In fact, everyone who was recruited for Culper except Robert Townsend was born and raised in Setauket. And Washington made sure that the Culper spies had support; Tallmadge utilized a number of protective measures, including giving each pseudonyms, and even invented a numerical substitution system  - a coded dictionary - to identify each one rather than using names. For instance, 711 denoting General Washington. Invisible ink was also used to pass on messages.
The name of their spy ring was derived from the aliases taken by two of its main members: Samuel Culper Sr. (Woodhull) and Samuel Culper Jr. (Townsend). They operated mostly in New York City, Long Island and Connecticut, and conducted covert operations until after the end of the Revolutionary War, but its heyday was between 1778 and 1781.
Robert Townsend, a merchant in New York City, agreed to supply much of the information. He was a Patriot pretending to be a Loyalist (British supporter), and his acquaintances believed he wanted the British to win the war. Townsend also wrote for a loyalist newspaper, so people freely gave him information, including British officers, which he passed along to Austin Roe.
Austin Roe, a 29-year-old Setauket tavern owner, rode the 110-mile round trip to New York City every week to order supplies for his tavern, which was an excellent cover. The road was heavily traveled by British and Tory troops and by highwaymen. He made many of these trips and was never discovered. While there he retrieved secret messages from Townsend, usually in a bundle of notepaper, which he carried back to Setauket and hid in a drop box for Abraham Woodhull.
The Culper Spy Ring operated successfully in and around New York for five years, during which time no spy was ever found out, though suspicions were raised. But even Washington was unaware of the spies' actual identities.


~Benjamin Tallmadge
Ben Tallmadge (Seth Numrich)
Here is a little background on Benjamin Tallmadge before the spy ring: 
He was born in Setauket in 1754, spending his early years there, and eventually attended Yale where he graduated in 1773. He entered the army shortly after the battles of Lexington & Concord and Bunker Hill, and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in 1776. Later that same year he was engaged in the battle of Long Island, and then the following December, he was promoted to Captain of the 1st Troop of the Second Dragoons. Shortly after he was promoted to the rank of Major. Following this promotion, he fought in the battles of White Plains, Brandywine, Monmouth, Germantown and White Marsh. 
In 1778, he was instrumental in organizing a spy ring to relay information to George Washington and keep him informed of the British activities around New York City and Long Island.
British troops had occupied Tallmadge's native Long Island since the 'Battle of Long Island.' Consequently, he had a great desire to make raids there and harass the British.
As mentioned earlier, George Washington appointed Tallmadge as director of military intelligence and put him in charge of creating what we now know as the Culper Spy Ring.
The spy ring played an important role in the Revolutionary War. For instance, in 1780 the group learned that the British under the command of General Henry Clinton were about to launch an expedition in Rhode Island. Tallmadge contacted Washington who immediately ordered his army into an offensive position causing Clinton to cancel the attack. The group was also responsible for the apprehension of the British spy Major John Andre.

In fact, let's read about the infamous capture, trial, and punishment of Andre in Tallmadge's own words from his memoirs:
After marching,and counter-marching, skirmishing with the enemy, catching cow-boys, etc., etc., late in the month of September, viz., on the evening of the 23rd, I returned from below to the regiment, then near Northcastle. Soon after I halted, and disposed of my detachment, I was informed that a prisoner had been brought in that day by the name of John Anderson. On inquiry, I found that three men by the names of John Paulding, David Willimas, and Isaac Van Vert, who had passed below our ordinary military patrols, on the road from Tarrytown to Kingsbridge, had fallen in with this John Anderson, on his way to New York. They took him aside for examination, and discovering sundry papers upon him, which he had concealed in his boots, they determined to detain him as a prisoner, notwithstanding Anderson's offers of pecuniary satisfaction if they would permit him to proceed on his course. They determined to bring him up to the head-quarters of our regiment, then on the advanced post of our army, and near Northcastle. This they effected on the forenoon of the 23rd day of  September, 1780, by delivering said Anderson to Lieut.-Col. John Jameson, of the 2nd Regiment Light Dragoons, then the commanding officer of said post, Col. Sheldon being at old Salem, under arrest.
His Excellency Gen. Washington 
(played by Ian Kahn)
His Excellency Gen. Washington had made an appointment to meet the Count Rochambeau (who commanded the French army then at Newport, R.I.,) at Hartford, in Connecticut, about the 18th or 20th of September, and was on his return to the army at the time of Anderson's capture. When I reached Lieut.-Col. Jameson's quarters, late in the evening of the 23rd, and learned the circumstances of the capture of the prisoner, I was very much surprised to find that he had been sent by Lieut.-Col. Jameson to Arnold's head-quarters at West Point, accompanied by a letter of information respecting his capture. At the same time he dispatched an express with the papers found on John Anderson, to meet Gen. Washington, then on his way to West Point. I did not failto state the glaring inconsistency of this conduct to Lieut.-Col. Jameson, in a private and most friendly manner. He appeared greatly agitated when I suggested to him a measure which I wished to adopt, offering to take the whole responsibility upon myself, and which he deemed too perilous to permit. I will not further disclose. I finally obtained his reluctant consent to have the prisoner brought back to our head-quarters. When the order was about to be dispatched to the officer to bring the prisoner back, strange as it may seem, Lieut.-Col. Jameson would persist in his purpose of letting his letter go on to Gen. Arnold. The letter did go on, and the prisoner returned before the next morning.
As soon as I saw Anderson, and especially after I saw him walk (as he did almost constantly) across the floor, I became impressed with the belief that he had been bred to arms. I communicated my suspicion to Lieut. Col. Jameson, and requested him to notice his gait, especially when he turned on his heel to retrace his course across the room. It was deemed best to remove the prisoner to Salem, and I was to escort him. I was constantly in the room with him, and he soon became very conversable and extremely interesting. It was very manifest that his agitation and anxiety were great. After dinner on the 24th, perhaps by three o'clock P.M., he asked to be favored with a pen, and ink, and paper, which I readily granted, and he wrote the letter to Gen. Washington, dated ``Salem, 24th September, 1780,'' which is recorded in most of the histories of this eventful period. In this letter he disclosed his true character to be ``Major John Andre, Adjutant-General to the British Army.''
When I received and read the letter (for he handed it to me as soon as he had written it), my agitation was extreme, and my emotions wholly indescribable. If the letter of information had not gone to Gen. Arnold, I should not have hesitated for a moment in my purpose, but I knew it must reach him before I could possibly get to West Point.
The express sent with the papers found in Major Andre's boots, did not intercept Gen. Washington on his return from Hartford, but passed him on the road, and kept on to West Point. On the 25th, while at breakfast with two of Gen. Washington's Aids, who had actually arrived at his quarters, Arnold received the letter from Lieut.-Col. Jameson. Knowing that the Commander-
in-Chief would soon be there, he immediately rode down to his boat, and was rowed down the North River to the British sloop-of-war, Vulture, which then lay in Tappan Bay, below King's Ferry. This was the same vessel that brought up Major Andre from New York. Not long after Arnold's abrupt and sudden departure from his quarters, at Robinson's House, on the East side of
the Hudson, opposite to West Point, the express delivered the despatches to Gen. Washington, who immediately repaired to Arnold's quarters. By this time the plot was all discovered, and the guilty traitor had escaped. I took on Major Andre, under a strong escort of cavalry, to West point, and the next day I proceeded down the Hudson to King's Ferry, and landed at Haverstraw, on the West side of the Hudson, where a large escort of cavalry had been sent from the main army at Tappan, with which I escorted the prisoner to Head-Quarters.
After we arrived at Head-Quarters, I reported myself to Gen. Washington, who ordered a court consisting of fourteen general officers, to sit and hear the case of Major Andre. On the 29th of September, the president of the court (Gen. Greene) reported to the Commander-in-Chief that they had come to the conclusion, ``that Major Andre, Adjutant-General to the British Army, ought to be considered as a spy from the enemy, and that, agreeably to the law and usage of nations, it is their opinion that he ought to suffer death.''
On the 30th of September, the Commander-in-Chief, in general orders, approved of the aforesaid opinion, and ordered that the execution should take place, the next day, at 5 o'clock P.M.
On the first of October, 1780, a vast concourse of people assembled to witness the solemn and affecting scene, when the execution was postponed, in consequence of a flag having arrived from the enemy. Gen. Greene was appointed to meet Gen. Robertson at Dobb's Ferry: but as no satisfactory proposals were received from Gen. Robertson, Gen. Greene returned to Head-Quarters and reported to Gen. Washington. The Commander-in-Chief then ordered that the execution should take place on the 2nd of October.
JJ Field as major John Andre being
lead to the gibbet.
Major Andre, having received his regimentals from New York, appeared in the complete uniform of a British officer, and in truth, he was a most elegant and accomplished gentleman. After he was informed of his sentence, he showed no signs of perturbed emotions, but wrote a most touching and finished letter to Gen. Washington, requesting that the mode of his death might be adapted to the feelings of a man of honor. The universal usage of nations having affixed to the crime of a spy, death by the gibbet, his request could not be granted. As I was with him most of the time from his capture, and walked with him as he went to the place of execution, I never discovered any emotions of fear respecting his future destiny before I reached Tappan, nor of emotion when his sentence was made known to him. When he came within sight of the gibbet, he appeared to be startled, and inquired with some emotion whether he was not to be shot. Being informed that the mode first appointed for his death could not consistently be altered, he exclaimed, ``How hard is my fate!'' but immediately added, ``it will soon be over.'' I then shook hands with him under the gallows and retired.
Major Andre was executed in his military uniform, in which, I think, he was laid in his coffin, but before he was interred, I feel satisfied that his servant took off his coat, and perhaps other outer garments.
I will, however, remark, that for the few days of intimate intercourse I had with him, which was from the time of his being brought back to our head-quarters to the day of his execution, I became so deeply attached to Major Andre, that I can remember no instance where my affections were so fully absorbed in any man. When I saw him swinging under the gibbet, it seemed for a time as if I could not support it.
All the spectators seemed to be overwhelmed by the affecting spectacle, and many were suffused in tears. There did not appear to be one hardened or indifferent spectator in all the multitude.

When the Revolutionary War ended after the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783, it's said that Tallmadge was able to enter New York and ride down Broadway in his American uniform escorted by a few of his dragoons. 
Major Benjamin Tallmadge retired from the army at the rank of Colonel. And, on March 16, 1784, he married Mary Floyd, daughter of William Floyd, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence. Tallmadge's father officiated at the ceremony.
He and his wife settled in Litchfield, Connecticut and became a wealthy man through several investments. Also, in 1801, he was elected to Congress on the Federalist ticket, as he was known to challenge Presidents Jefferson and Madison. He retired in 1817 and devoted himself to establishing a training school for Native American and Asian missionaries. He died, at age 81, on March 7, 1835. To the end, he praised the efforts of those "untrumpeted and unknown" members of his spy ring who helped secure victory against the British.

Sources:
Here and Here


~Abraham Woodhull
Jamie Bell as
Abraham Woodhull
~season 4~
Abraham Woodhull, age 27, was considered the leader of the Long Island spies, and he ran the group’s day-to-day operations on Long Island. He also decided which information needed to be moved along the spy ring, and which would ultimately be forwarded Tallmadge in Connecticut, then on to General Washington. 
Woodhull lived in constant anxiety of being discovered.
Born in 1750 in Setauket, Abraham Woodhull was the son of a prominent judge - a judge who, unlike what's shown on Turn, supported colonial independence.
Woodhull began spying for the Continental Army in late 1778 as part of the Culper Spy Ring. Operating under the code name "Samuel Culper," Woodhull was directed by Benjamin Tallmadge, who, besides being a childhood friend, but was also General George Washington’s director of military intelligence.  Woodhull traveled regularly from Setauket to New York, pretending to visit his sister, but the British suspected him of spying, and in June 1779 they even went to Setauket to arrest him, though he was not there. The idea of nearly being caught left him weary, but he continued as a spy. To help ensure not being caught, he enlisted the aid of Robert Townsend, a merchant he met in New York. Townsend went under the alias "Samuel Culper Jr.," and sent information by courier to Woodhull’s farm in Setauket. 
After collecting the messages, Woodhull would wait for signals from his neighbor and fellow conspirator, Anna Strong, who communicated by hanging specific laundry out on her line. Woodhull was thereby able to locate and relay messages to whale boat captain Caleb Brewster, who then delivered them to Tallmadge.
Just like in the "TV Turn"!
In addition to uncovering Benedict Arnold’s treason, leading to the capture of British Major John Andre, the Culper Ring likely helped prevent a British attack against French forces that had arrived in Rhode Island to assist the colonists. It was probably Washington’s most successful spy operation, and continued until the war's official end in 1783, although it appears they did not gather much useful intelligence during their final years.
As in Turn, Abraham Woodhull married Mary Smith, though, unlike the show, the wedding took place in 1784 - after the Revolutionary War had ended
Abe and Mary had three children. 
Woodhull married a second time after Mary's 1806 death.  
Abraham Woodhull held several important local positions in his later years, including magistrate of Setauket, judge of the Court of Common Pleas and first judge of Suffolk County. He died in 1826 in Setauket.

Sources for Abraham Woodhull: Here


~Robert Townsend
Nick Westrate as Robert Townsend
A number of factors led Robert Townsend, who was born in 1753, to the Culper Spy Ring, including the influence of Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense, the harassment of his family by the British, and his relationship with Woodhull.
Townsend was a Quaker, also known as the Society of Friends, and held a strict Quaker philosophy that called for an adherence to pacifism and non-violence. Townsend's Quaker upbringing placed him at odds with the thought of fighting the British forces then occupying America.
However, during the 1750s, Pennsylvania experienced a break between "political" Quakers and "religious" Quakers, which caused the former to break with traditional values and fight for what they believed. Thus, the "obedient" religious Quakers pledged to embrace non-violence and to never revolt against a legal government. This meant that they were supporters of British rule.
(On a personal note, this was exactly what occurred with my own Quaker ancestors: my 5th great grandfather, Jonathan Heacock, was kicked out of the Society of Friends for drilling with the militia. It took nearly two years for he and his family to get back into the sect.)
Townsend was torn but ultimately turned his back on pacifism. Thomas Paine's pamphlet Common Sense had quite an influence on him, especially knowing that Paine had also been brought up in the Quaker tradition. Though in Common Sense Paine advocated the early Quaker views of struggling against corruption and self-centeredness, he also advocated for resistance as the means to achieve those goals, putting him directly against the newly reformed Quaker movement. He argued that the pacifists-at-any-price were not authentic Quakers, and because of this his pamphlet inspired a small number of Quakers to join the struggle against Britain, including Robert Townsend. Thus, a few months after Paine's pamphlet was published, Townsend volunteered for a logistics post in the Continental Army, which would not require him to kill.

(here is a skit about Thomas Paine's Common Sense)
Another factor that led to Townsend joining the fight against British rule was the treatment of his family by British soldiers in Oyster Bay. A number of the officers thought that anti-British sentiment had been ingrained into the colonists' spirit, and they believed that "it should be thrash'd out of them [because] New England has poyson'd the whole." This led to numerous incidents of violence and pillage directed at colonists. On November 19, 1778, one such instance drove Townsend to the Patriot cause. Colonel John Graves Simcoe of the Queen’s Rangers and roughly 300 of his men were stationed in Oyster Bay during the winter months. Simcoe took the Townsend home as his headquarters, and he and his men utilized it when and however they wanted. Townsend's father Samuel was distraught after his prized apple orchard was torn down by Simcoe's men. Adding to the insult, the Townsends were forced to swear allegiance to the King or go to prison.
A final factor was Townsend's relationship with Abraham Woodhull.
Woodhull knew Townsend as a result of their both lodging at a boarding house run by Woodhull's brother-in-law. Woodhull may have known about Townsend's father's Whiggish political beliefs, as he was well known throughout Long Island. Woodhull as a recruiter, and Townsend as the recruited, knew and trusted each other well enough by June 1779, that Townsend eagerly accepted when Woodhull made his pitch to Townsend to join a new spy ring for Washington.
One of Townsend's most valuable and memorable discoveries concerned a plot by the British to ruin the American economy by flooding the country with counterfeit dollars. American political and military leaders were well aware of these intentions and understood the potential ramifications of a worthless dollar. In early 1780, Townsend received some intelligence about the British belief that the war would not last much longer as a result of a disastrous depreciation of the dollar.
The most crucial part of Townsend's report was that the British had procured "several reams of paper made for the last emission struck by Congress." This was terrible news for American leaders: the British had previously been forced to counterfeit money on paper that was similar to the official paper, but now they had the authentic paper. Thus, distinguishing between real and fake money would be virtually impossible. As a result, Congress was forced to recall all its bills in circulation—a major ordeal, but one that saved the war-effort by not allowing counterfeit money to flood the market.
As the end of the war drew near, the Culper Ring became less significant for Washington.
After the war, Townsend ended his business connections in New York and moved back to Oyster Bay. Townsend never married, sharing his family's home and growing old with his sister Sally.

Source (taken almost word for word): Here


~Anna Smith Strong
Selah Strong (Robert Bietzel 
with wife Anna (Heather Lind)
Anna Smith Strong, the wife of Selah Strong, was born in 1740. The couple, both from Setauket, had nine children. The other Culper Spy Ring members were her friends and neighbors, including Abraham Woodhull, Benjamin Tallmadge, and Caleb Brewster. Selah was a leading Patriot judge, and their family controlled one of Long Island’s manors. Because of her husband’s political position, their home and family was a target of the occupying British soldiers.
In 1778, Judge Strong was arrested and confined on the British prison ship Jersey in New York harbor for “surreptitious correspondence with the enemy.” The conditions on those ships were terrible, and, though it took a struggle, Anna finally received permission to bring her husband food, which, it's said, probably saved his life. I find it interesting that Anna’s wealthy Tory relatives (British supporters) helped her bribe British officials to parole her husband to Connecticut, where he stayed for the remainder of the war, taking their children with him.
Because of this, Anna was alone on Strong’s Neck throughout the rest of the war. She stayed behind to take care of the family home because empty homes were subject to greater destruction and abuse. Many women did this during the Revolution because they were seen as non-combatants. 
That being said, Abraham Woodhull needed Anna to advise him of Caleb Brewster’s location.
Caleb Brewster came periodically across the Devil’s Belt (Long Island Sound) to deliver or retrieve the Spy Ring’s messages. Brewster, one of the most daring of the group, was also the only member whom the British had definitely identified as a spy. Brewster and his crew rowed his whaleboat across the Long Island Sound to and from Connecticut. They were in constant danger because there were British frigates constantly patrolling the Sound, so he hid his boat in the willows of the bay.
With the code name "Nancy," Anna’s assignment in the Culper Ring was to signal Brewster’s arrival to Abraham Woodhull. She did this by hanging laundry on her clothesline in pre-arranged configurations, a system that fooled all by the wisdom of its simplicity. If she hung up a black petticoat, it meant that Brewster was in town. And by counting the number of white handkerchiefs scattered through her wash, Woodhull knew in which of six coves Brewster hid his boat. Under cover of darkness, Woodhull could then rendezvous with Brewster and pass along the secret messages. Brewster and his men then would crossed Long Island Sound to Connecticut and pass the information to Tallmadge, who passed it on to Washington’s headquarters in Westchester County, New York.
Simple! Ha!
To help in other ways, Anna would order expensive goods to be bought in New York, giving Culper member Austin Roe an excuse to go to the city and gather information for George Washington. Records show that Anna herself had also traveled to New York to purchase "yards and yards of tablecloths and other expensive things (that) were ordered in haste. And those trips to town brought back information as well as drygoods." This comes from an old account book at one time in possession of her great great granddaughter, Kate W. Strong. 
Anna Strong is not referred to in the dispatches, although there are several references to her property and the British movements around her home. Later, when British officers occupied the Manor House, she lived in a small cottage across the Bay from Woodhull’s farm to keep an eye on the farm and main house.
After the war, Selah and Anna were reunited, and they had another child named George Washington Strong. Their home survived the war safely, and the Strong Family remained there.  
Anna died August 12, 1812, and Selah Strong in 1815. They are buried in the Smith-Strong family graveyard along Cemetery Road on Strong’s Neck. The house no longer stands, but around 1845 a new house was built on the same site.

The above came mostly from THIS site (with additional information from Here and Here)


~Caleb Brewster
Caleb Brewster (left played by Daniel Henshall)
with Ben Tallmadge
Like many children raised at a time when sailing the ocean blue was the ultimate adventure, Caleb Brewster, who was described as a man large in stature and possessing a keen wit and an unrivaled sense of humor, dreamed of going to sea. Brewster eventually realized his dream and, in so doing, helped shape the destiny of the new United States of America.
A descendant of Mayflower passenger William Brewster, Caleb was born in Setauket in 1747 and signed on to a whaling boat as a young man. By the time hostilities between colonial revolutionaries and the British Crown escalated in 1775, he was an expert seaman. He was especially familiar with the northern Long Island coastline, as well as the 18-mile stretch north to Connecticut, particularly Fairfield and what is now Bridgeport. 
In 1776, Brewster accepted a commission as an ensign in the 4th New York Regiment. He was appointed as a first lieutenant in the 2nd Continental Artillery in January 1777 and was involved in every raiding party that ever took place on Long Island.
Among Brewster’s acquaintances when he was a young man were members of the Tallmadge family, also of Setauket. As you read above, Benjamin Tallmadge was a graduate of Yale who became General George Washington’s chief intelligence officer and eventually rose to the rank of colonel. And, yes, Tallmadge helped organize the Culper Spy Ring.
Brewster’s friendship with the Tallmadges and his expertise as a seaman made him a natural for recruitment to the Culper Ring.
Despite all the precautions taken, some of those involved in the Culper Ring fell under British suspicion. In Brewster’s case, the British knew his name, they knew he lived and operated in and around Setauket, and some accounts indicate they knew he was the primary courier between Long Island and Connecticut. The British never captured him, though. Brewster had a reputation for being extremely brave and some accounts indicate several occasions where he effectively battled British ships far larger than his whaling boat. Of equal importance were his resourcefulness and his familiarity with every cove on both sides of the sound. In combination, these enabled him to carry out his work aiding the revolutionary cause.
After the Revolutionary War, Brewster settled in Connecticut and became a blacksmith and a farmer. He was also, for many years, an officer in the United States Revenue Cutter Service, forerunner of the Coast Guard. He died in 1827 at the age of 79 in a section of Fairfield that is now part of Bridgeport. There is a street named after him in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport near where he lived.
Sources: Here and Here, and Here


~The end of it all - - -
The Roe Tavern.
This was built by the grandfather of the
Selah who was associated with the 
Culper Spy Ring
~George Washington slept here~
In April 1790, then-President George Washington toured Long Island, and Selah Strong led Washington’s carriage to the Roe Tavern.
According to Anna and Selah's grandson, Selah B. Strong, "It was very appropriate that Selah Strong should entertain the General [Washington] at Roe’s, as the house was the former residence of his grandfather, the first Strong to bear the name of Selah, who came to Setauket about 1700 and on March 23, 1703, bought the land from Thomas Clark and built the house."
Grandson Strong had no idea at the time (1920s) that his grandparents, Selah and Anna Smith Strong, had been a vital part of the Setauket Spy Ring. And how could he know? For it wasn't until the late 1930s that the general public became aware of George Washington's spies. The identity of Robert Townsend (Culper Jr.) was discovered in 1939, when a trunk of old letters was discovered in the Townsend family home. Historian Morton Pennypacker noticed the resemblance in the handwriting in these letters to the letters written by Robert Townsend in George Washington’s letter collection. Pennypacker then discovered the identity of the other spies in Setauket and New York City and published his findings in a book, General Washington’s Spies on Long Island and in New York, in 1939.
And so it is most likely that when President Washington visited the Roe Tavern in 1790, he did so to acknowledge and thank the people of Setauket who risked their lives to aid the patriot cause during the American Revolution: Selah and Anna Smith Strong, Abraham Woodhull, Austin Roe and Caleb Brewster.
Despite some strained relations within the group and constant pressure from Washington to send more information, the Culper Spy Ring achieved more than any other American or British intelligence network during the war. The information collected and passed on by the ring from 1778 to war’s end in 1783 concerned key British troop movements, fortifications and plans in New York and the surrounding region. 
It certainly played a key role in America's winning the Revolutionary War and, thus, its Independence.
And now the television show "Turn: Washington's Spies" has turned a large group of followers into Revolutionary War researchers and historians.
And that's a good thing, don't you think?  

~       ~      ~

Filming season 4 at Colonial Williamsburg
Although I was aware of George Washington's Culper Spy Ring, I must admit I knew very little about it, and the only name that was familiar to me in any sense of history was Robert Townsend.
That is, until the television series "Turn: Washington's Spies" came on AMC a few years back. That high-quality show piqued my interest in this hidden side of the American Revolutionary War.  And now, I own all the DVDs available and watch them frequently. Not only that but my wife and my oldest sons watch each episode with me.
In fact, there are a whole slew of us "Turniacs" across the country!
Ha! When AMC hinted that the Turn series might not be renewed for a 4th season, countless numbers, myself included, wrote the station pleading the case to allow for another season.
This is what I wrote:
June 2016
To Whom It May Concern -
This is a note to let you know how much my wife, our son, and I all enjoy watching "Turn: Washington's Spies" every Monday night on AMC.
There are so few quality shows anymore on television that "Turn" is like a breath of fresh air.
And it's historical, too!
As I've written on numerous "Turn" fan pages, each season - and each episode per season - seems to get better and better. That's a rarity, for good shows tend to slide downhill after the first couple of years and forego quality.
But not "Turn."
I have heard rumblings and rumors that season 3 may be the last due to lower ratings.
I certainly hope not, for, as stated above, there are so few really good quality shows on TV, and to have one set in America's Revolutionary War period is like icing on the proverbial cake! (You do realize this year marks the 240th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, right? It's a great time to celebrate!).
Please consider renewing "Turn" for a season 4 - give it the chance, the promotion, and the time slot it deserves.
Thank you for your time
.

Guess what?
It worked!
Oh, not just my letter/e-mail. But the thousands of others who sent similar pleas to AMC. And I am willing to bet that most, if not all letters/e-mails, were spear-headed from the various Facebook pages.
Here's the outcome:
Yes! Turn re-TURNS for a fourth and final season!
(From the AMC website summer 2016 - only about a month or so after the barrage of letters from fans asking for another season)----
"AMC announced today that TURN: Washington’s Spies will be returning for a fourth and final season with 10 episodes. Production of the final season will begin this fall with new episodes airing in 2017."

Filming season 4
Statement from AMC president of original programming Joel Stillerman:
“TURN: Washington’s Spies has always had a lofty goal — to tell the real story of the American Revolution from the ground up. To capture the truth about the choice regular people had to make to support what has become the United States of America. It frequently involved turning against friends and family, and it always involved risking everything. Craig Silverstein, Barry Josephson, and their incredible team introduced us to the Culper Ring who have reminded us that without human intelligence, the war may have had a very different outcome. We are excited to see this story of betrayal and rebellion, and the sacrifices therein, through to completion in a fourth season.”

Filming season 4
Creator Craig Silverstein also chimed in with gratitude, stating:
“I am so pleased to be able to bring the story of the Culper Ring to its epic conclusion, at the point where the revolutionary war ends and the great American experiment truly begins. This series has been a joy to work on thanks to Barry Josephson, Alexander Rose, our sexy writing staff, brilliant crew, and dream team cast. I am also thrilled to continue to work with AMC, who had the passion and courage to put TURN: Washington’s Spies on the air and support our effort. I eagerly look forward to our future adventures together.”

From the AMC Turn website:
"Turn Season 4 will see the dramatic conclusion of the Culper Spy Ring and will presumably depict the final resolution of the American Revolution as the show’s deeply intriguing, pathos-heavy version of General George Washington (Ian Kahn) will be on the frontlines of a historic victory and become the father of a country consisting of free states where once stood colonies. The involvement of Woodhull and the Culper Spy Ring, notably its most historically-lauded member, Robert Townsend (Nick Westrate), and their sacrificial ordeals, will certainly pay off when the show comes to its end."

A break in filming at Colonial Williamsburg
Throughout its run, the show has filmed in numerous Virginia locations, including Colonial Williamsburg, Richmond, Petersburg, Tuckahoe, the campus of William & Mary, and Shirley, Berkeley, Westover, and Scotchtown plantations. During the first week of March, 2017, the TURN film crew made its way back to Colonial Williamsburg to film scenes for season 4. And, for the first time, Yorktown also hosted production, during the first week of April.
Yorktown? "Where the revolutionary war ends and the great American experiment truly begins"?
Yup - - must be Turn's last season...
These are certainly strong hints about the final ten episodes, wouldn't you say?

I know it will be a sad time for the fans when Turn comes to an end. But I look at it this way: after the 4th season is completed, we'll have had it for four ten episode seasons. This means after I purchase the final DVD collection to have the complete set, I will have nearly 40 hours of quality Rev War programming to watch any time I want.
Yeah...that is a good thing! 
Abraham Woodhull, a Redcoat?? 
Hmmm....curiouser and curiouser...

Until next time, see you in time. 

~       ~      ~

A special "thank you" to Marlene Di Via and the photographers on her AMC's Turn & Rev War History Facebook page for supplying most of these wonderful pictures for me to use!
And also to Cynthia Hauer from AMC's Turn and History Fun Group page for supplying pretty awesome pictures as well.
Another well-done Turn page that I enjoy visiting is The Black Petticoat Society.
And then there is a new Turn Facebook page I enjoy going to as well called A New Turn: We the People Revolt.
All four are a wealth of not only Turn information, but 18th century American history in general.
And I can't forget Fred Blystone who lives near Colonial Williamsburg for a few of the amazing photos he took.

Just in case you were wondering, "Turn: Washington's Spies" was based on THIS book
And HERE is the original book that Morton Pennypacker wrote back in 1939 about his findings

Please click HERE to read my posting on why I think "Turn" is one of the best shows TV has ever had to offer.
And there are more Rev War-era postings I wrote:
To learn more about Paul Revere's ride, click HERE
To read more about the Revolutionary War through original artifacts, click HERE
To learn more about how our colonial ancestors lived, click HERE
To learn more about how our colonial ancestors traveled, click HERE
To learn more about how our colonial ancestors cooked and what they ate, click HERE
To learn more about researching the 18th century - Click HERE
To learn more about men's clothing, hair, and language of the 18th century, click HERE

























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