Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Celebrating Patriots' Day 2017

Who are these two guys standing in front of the Pennsylvania State House?
Read on to find out...

How the heck...
...are you dressed?
We, as living historians, are an unusual lot.
We most certainly are!
Most of us are adults...older adults...
and we like to dress up in old-timey clothes and pretend that we live in the past. 
And we think little of spending quite a bit of money for this pretending.
Foolishness is what it is. 
And I'm the biggest of them all.
                   Fool, that is.
I mean, it's one thing to reenact at a historic event, but me? 
I'm the kind of guy who will "dress period" about any chance I get - - 
Going beyond what most reenactors do.
Don't ask me why, for I can't explain it.
It's just there.
It's in me.
I am part of an unusual lot indeed.
Foolishness, yes...but I love it.
Today's post is proof. 
Hope you enjoy it.

~        ~        ~

I don't believe there is another month that has as many major American historical events occur as the month of April. Now, I'm not speaking of births or deaths, but of the happenings that most history books will, at the very least, mention.
Here...check it out:
~April 3 - 1860 - The Pony Express began it's run, going from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California
~April 6 - 1917 - U.S. entered WWI
~April 9 - 1865 - The Civil War ended
~April 12 - 1861 - The Civil War began at Fort Sumter
~April 14 - 1865 - President Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theater
~April 15 - 1865 - President Lincoln died 7:22 a.m.
~April 15 - 1912 - The Titanic sank after striking an iceburg in the Atlantic, killing over 1500 passengers. The survivors were brought to New York
~April 18 - 1775 - Late night ride of Paul Revere and William Dawes (and, after midnight, Samuel Prescott)
~April 19 - 1775 - The Revolutionary War began in earnest with the Battle of Lexington & Concord
~April 27 - 1865 - Steamboat Sultana exploded, killing nearly 2000 passengers, most being recently freed Union prisoners of war
~April 30 - 1789 - George Washington became our 1st President
I realize there were a number of other historical occurrences in April, but I only wanted to list the most well-known.
Quite a few, eh?
Now I would like you to go and ask your kids or your spouse or other family member or friends if they know of these important historical events.
Give them the TEST and see how they do!

Dr. Franklin
Well, since this month of April is so historical, I usually do my own remembrance to commemorate Patriot's Day - April 19th - the date that signifies the beginning of the American Revolution, which is, to me, every bit as important as Pearl Harbor Day, President's Day, or any of the other holidays of acknowledgement for our nation.
And what I can't figure out is...why isn't this date a National Holiday?
Yes, there are the citizens who live in the states of Massachusetts, Maine, and Wisconsin who celebrate Patriots' Day; to many in those states I am sure it is a welcome day off work or school. But at least there is some acknowledgement for this day in which the brave patriots who were there at the beginning - at the conception of the United States of America - are honored. And they are honored more than with burgers, fries, and furniture store sales: in the area around Lexington and Concord, re-enactments of the battles in 1775 and the events leading up to them are held. A particular highlight is the opportunity to ring the bell that warned the local troops that Regulars (British soldiers) were approaching. Lectures, concerts and road races are also organized.
I so wish my home state of Michigan and the rest of our country acknowledged Patriot's Day as well. If reenacting taught me nothing else, it helped me to realize and understand the significance of certain dates and events in our history. Even the most popular holidays, such as Independence Day and Memorial Day, have deepened their meaning to me, especially as I study them more intently.
Well, for the past few years, Patriot's Day has become one of those days which, for this guy, is up there with the best of our national commemorations. And you know that, whether others in my area remember it or not, I remember, and will continue to do so.
And do you know how I observe it, right?
Yessir (or ma'am)! I visit Greenfield Village, Michigan's own 300 acre celebration of the past, and I try to go as close to April 19th as I can.
This year it happened to be Saturday, April 22nd.
Do I even have to mention that I was in period clothing?
Colonial clothing, to be more precise.
Even better, my dear wife came along with me. And we also had a special guest visitor with us!
But before we get to all the pictures and the commentary on how our day went, there is a quick little background story I would like to tell you:
Henry Ford's replicated Independence Hall 
located in Dearborn, Michigan
When Henry Ford built his Greenfield Village open-air museum in 1929, he also built an indoor museum to go alongside of it. And he wanted this very American museum to be something grand - very special - he wanted it to stand out like no other. And to accomplish this he had a replica of the facade of Independence Hall in Philadelphia built as the museum's entrance
What could be more of a symbol of America than Independence Hall?
Ford hired architect Robert O. Derrick to have this version built exactly in the same architectural style as the current one in Philadelphia, and he spared no expense in doing so, including the same mistakes of the original, such as the windows in the tower being slightly off center by a couple inches.
In fact, Ford went so far as to also have the front foyer, which is located under the clock tower, replicated as well.
Oh! To have such money...
And that's where our story begins - on a beautiful late April day when my wife and I, dressed in our 1770s clothing, traveled to this wondrous place of history. And seeing the majestic clock tower of the replicated Independence Hall rising over the trees, I knew, dressed as I was, that I needed to stop there first (we must remember, however, that the steeple of Independence Hall, originally known in the 1770s as the Pennsylvania State House, did not look then as it does today. It was redesigned in 1828 to appear as we now see it, with more ornamentation and the clock).

As I passed through the doors into the foyer, you will not guess who I found there... 
Why...Dr. Benjamin Franklin! It is an honor, good sir, to meet you!

I suppose if I would want to meet anyone while in the Pennsylvania State House, it would be Ben Franklin, a true Patriot and, perhaps, the United States' finest citizen.

As Dr. Franklin explained, it was here where the 2nd Continental Congress met, and it was also where the Declaration of Independence (of which Franklin helped to write) and the U.S. Constitution were debated and adopted.
Oh, it certainly was an honor indeed to hear these stories from "the man" himself!
(Remember - this is a replicated building we are in - not the original. 
But with Dr. Franklin here, it truly felt as if we were in the original!)

As we stepped out of the Pennsylvania State House 
(Independence Hall), I invited Dr. Franklin to join 
my wife and I while we visited Greenfield Village.
He was interested to know what made this 
Village such an amazing place.

I explained that it was 300 years of (mostly) American history, that he would see how the United Sates grew after his time. I also mentioned that there was a special area dedicated to the founding generation, and seeing this section of the Village would almost be like "going home" for him, for he shall be immersed in his own time - a time that he would find quite familiar.

Since this world of the 21st century was so strange to his eyes and ears, 
Dr. Franklin said he would be delighted to join us on our excursion.
Well, then, shall we go?

You know, of course, that I had my trusty camera with me, hidden inside my satchel, and I was able to get some pretty decent photos documenting our every move. As you are seeing here, every picture really does tell a story.
So it was off to the far end of Greenfield Village - the colonial area - to begin our visit. This is where the wonderful original mid-18th century structures, whose architecture style would be familiar to Dr. Franklin, are situated.
From left you see me, my wife, and Benjamin Franklin standing in front of the Daggett break-back (saltbox) style house built around 1750.

In fact as we moved up to the front door, one of the young ladies opened it and exclaimed, "Imagine! We have Benjamin Franklin visiting us right here at the Daggett house!"
This being April, it was still rather chilly outdoors, so we were welcomed to sit and warm ourselves at the hearth.
Besides farming, Samuel Daggett was also a housewright and built this particular house on a spot known as Shoddy Hill Road, atop 80 acres of land.
His wife, Anna, ran the home and cared for the family. She prepared and preserved food; spun yarn; made clothing, towels and sheets; gave the children their earliest lessons in reading and writing; and fed the animals including chickens and pigs.
The three Daggett children were prominent in helping out in household duties: Asenath and Tabitha would have learned the skills of "housewifery" from their mother. They would have prepared yarn by carding and spinning; made clothing, soap and candles; tended the garden; and prepared food. 
But on this day, all was forgotten because a very special visitor came a-calling.
Dr. Franklin regaled our hostesses with stories of his time in France. 
As the ladies here have never been any farther from their home than the town of Coventry, hearing tales from afar kept them enthralled - so much, in fact, that they had nearly forgotten about doing their chores!

We were invited to stay for dinner, but politely declined, 
for we had other places to visit. My thanks to the fine ladies of the 
Daggett Farm for being such wonderful hostesses.

Our next stop was at this beautiful house built in the mid-1700s, the Giddings home.
It was around 1751 that merchant John Giddings built this house, shortly before he married Mehetable Gilman in the fall of that same year. The structure is wonderful example of an upscale New England colonial home.
By the way, Patty and I purchased this house while visiting the 18th century. 
Oh, all of you are always welcome to visit, but it's best to come during the 
fall harvest weekends and during Holiday Nights, for that's when the rooms 
in our home will actually be open for guests.

Our next door neighbors are the Websters: Noah and his wife, Rebecca.
Dr. Franklin paid the Websters a visit, for he had heard of the 
American Dictionary Noah had put together and was impressed with his Americanization of the English language.
Where else but Greenfield Village can someone like Benjamin Franklin visit the 1822 Noah Webster House?

Greenfield Village also has the wonderful mid-19th century Eagle Tavern, a favorite place for my wife and I to eat. The atmosphere is very period and the food is not only delicious, but is served seasonally and historically accurate. Eating there while wearing clothing of times past only adds to the flavor of the experience.
One of the things I learned while researching the old taverns as I was writing THIS post and THIS post is that clothing fashions might have changed, but the basic look and lay out of most taverns changed little from the mid-18th century through much of the 19th century.
Here is a photograph of the Eagle Tavern as it looked in the late 19th century, 
years before Henry Ford's Model T and certainly decades before 
Greenfield Village was even a thought.

Taverns were the pulse of 18th century urban life, and their importance to the local community cannot be overstated; they were the main source of information for the locals. These "publick houses" (or 'ordinaries,' as they were also known) have played an important part in social, political, and even military life.
By the way, the word we know as "pub" is short for the colonial term publick house
Now you know.

The tavern owner was a very prominent man in town, and was thoroughly informed on all public and most private matters. He was certainly the best-known man around, that's for certain, and he made it a point to get to know all of his patrons.
There is a humorous story of the inquisitiveness of the tavern keepers that I should 
like to relate here:
“I have heard Dr. Franklin relate with great pleasantry that in travelling when he was young, the first step he took for his tranquility and to obtain immediate attention at the inns was to anticipate inquiry by saying, 'My name is Benjamin Franklin. I was born in Boston. I am a printer by profession, am travelling to Philadelphia, shall have to return at such a time, and have no news. Now, what can you give me for dinner?'"

By the 1760s and 1770s, the ordinaries were the rendezvous for those who believed 
in the Patriot cause and listened to the stirring words of American rebels, 
who mixed dark treason to King George with every bowl of punch they drank
The story of our War for Independence could not be dissociated from the old taverns, 
for they are a part of our national history, and those which still stand are among our 
most interesting historical relics.
Though I have written two postings about taverns in our nation's history, I have to agree with author Christopher Hitchens when he suggested that a "monograph should be written on the role of the tavern in the American Revolution."
Yes, they are that important.
I also like what another author, Adrian Covert, wrote: "The best part about surviving that for them history hasn't stopped. These aren't museums, these are (historic) conversations about politics, food, culture, and life."
We know that Greenfield Village's 1831 Eagle Tavern is not a true Revolutionary War building (even if its style is very similar), but it still has an amazing history to it. And, yes, I believe Dr. Franklin and I really did help to give the old building a more 18th century feel rather than of the 19th century, at least while we were in the bar area.

Patty and I continued our stroll through the Village with Benjamin Franklin, and we came upon a post office. Well, when you have someone like Benjamin Franklin with you, there was no choice but to go inside.
This Phoenixville (Connecticut) structure from 1825 is a 
beautiful example of a Post Office from the early 19th century.

As we walked inside, the presenter greeted us with a large smile and said, "And here is the first Postmaster!" Yes, it was an honor for Dr. Franklin to be remembered in this manner, for it was in 1775 when the Continental Congress appointed him Postmaster General. Franklin had previously served in that position under the Crown.
The "key" 
Thee key

And we also had to go to the printing office...
Benjamin Franklin: "(My) bookish inclination at length determined my father to make me a printer, though he had already one son (James) of that profession. In 1717 my brother James returned from England with a press and letters to set up his business in Boston. I liked it much better than that of my father (as a chandler), but still had a hankering for the sea. To prevent the apprehended effect of such an inclination, my father was impatient to have me bound to my brother. I stood out some time, but at last was persuaded, and signed the indentures when I was yet but twelve years old. I was to serve as an apprentice till I was twenty-one years of age, only I was to be allowed journeyman's wages during the last year. In a little time I made great proficiency in the business, and became a useful hand to my brother.
Though a brother, he considered himself as my master, and me as his apprentice, and, accordingly, expected the same services from me as he would from another, while I thought he demean'd me too much in some he requir'd of me, who from a brother expected more indulgence."
Dr. Franklin was not so familiar with the newfangled press. 
It was quite different from the presses of his time
as an apprentice to his brother.

Hmmm...the printer didn't do too bad of a job with Dr. Franklin's likeness.

The colonial farmer of the 18th century relied on his large family for labor. He raised cotton, hemp, and flax, cobbled his own shoes, and constructed his own furniture.
And once springtime came around, planting preparations would begin, and the farmer would continue the ritual of hauling the manure pile that he’s been keeping all winter - load after wheelbarrow load (or piled onto a horse-drawn cart) - out to the planting field, to be spread as far and wide as possible.
Then came the process of plowing, which is an unbroken link to the past. The plow, one of the oldest of farming tools, breaks up and turns over the soil to make it smoother for planting. Arms, as used to plowing as they were, would still ache nightly, and ache even worse come the next day when the farmer, once again, found himself behind the two plow horses in the cool of the morning, digging the mould-board tool into the ground to turn up the soil that had laid dormant and frozen all the long winter.
Now it's time to harrow the plowed field. Harrowing is the process of breaking up the clumps of soil to further spread and even out the dirt for planting.
Only after all of this would it be time for planting.
"I am not looking forward to manuring, plowing, and harrowing. The labour is so strenuous."
"What do you plan to plant?"

"I think I will put the squash there, beans there, and lettuce way over there..."
"Why don't you plant watermelon? I hear its taste is like sweetened snow."
"Watermelon? Hmmm...maybe I will..." 
I know my wife would certainly enjoy it!
("Sweetened snow," by the way, was how Anne Warder described her first taste of watermelon in 1786. I think I agree with her description)

Well, all good things must come to an end, and the time had come for Patty and I to depart from our friend.
Before we left, I wanted one more "quick sketch" of my lovely wife and I.
We had a tremendously good time - one that won't soon be forgotten.
Throughout the day, as we journeyed among the historical buildings of Greenfield Village, many folks, both adults and children, stopped Dr. Franklin just to say "hi," and maybe ask a couple of questions or even get a photo taken with him. But what really moved me was when people - adults, mind you - would shake his hand and thank him for all the good he had done for our country.
Wow---there is plenty of patriotism around. Such a wonderful feeling.
But now, I suppose, I can let the cat out of the bag: that wasn't the real Benjamin Franklin I was with. It was actually Bob Stark who portrayed the historical figure.
Yes, it was a portrayal, but because the resemblance between the two men is uncanny, it was hard not to think of them as one and the same. And then to see the smiles on the faces when people saw him...I have to be honest with you, it was very cool and truly very moving to see this.
And believe it or not, a few of the folks even called me Paul Revere! Now - seriously - how would they have guessed that I present as Paul Revere? I mean, yes, I do portray the man, so it was an unexpected honor, but it's not as if I look like him. But it added to everyone's experience, of which I am heartily glad, and there were even a few rather nice conversations I had with a number of visitors who also had questions for me. Some even remembered the date of my ride, April 18, 1775, which occurred only a few nights before.
Very moving and cool indeed.
Maybe we're not so foolish after all.

So, until next time, see you in time.

If you like this post, here are a few links you might enjoy as well:
Colonial Ken's 1st Patriots' Day celebration
Colonial Ken's 2nd Patriots' Day celebration
Colonial Ken's 3rd Patriots' Day celebration
Have you ever thought of what it would be like to travel during the 18th century? Colonial Taverns and Travel
The real story of Paul Revere's ride
The Battle of Lexington & Concord: A personal view
To learn more about the Daggett House, please click HERE
To learn more about the Giddings House, please click HERE
And HERE is a general overview of life in colonial times

~    ~    ~

Glen Morningstar & Paul Revere
On the Friday evening before Greenfield Village, I volunteered my time as Paul Revere to help out the Plymouth (Michigan) Fife & Drum Corps, which is "an all youth corps from Plymouth and surrounding communities dedicated to preserving the ancient arts of color guard, fifing, and drumming through live performances." This was their first gala fundraising event, and for attendees/donors it included a fine meal, personal visits from Dr. Benjamin Franklin & yours truly, Paul Revere Esq., along with contra-dancing including dance instruction provided by the best band in the business, the Old Michigan Ruffwater Stringband, headed up by Glen Morningstar.
Dr. Franklin and I went around to the different tables, speaking to the attendees, who were none to shy about asking questions (which is a good thing, right?). A number of people asked if I was okay after my big ride a few nights before. Of course, I thanked them for their concern and assured them that even though I was caught by the Regulars, I was quite alright.
My number one question of the evening was, believe it or not, what was the name of the horse I rode on the evening of April 18, 1775.
I'll be honest, in the couple of years I have been presenting as Paul Revere I have never been asked that question before, so my answer to them was "I do not know. With the events of that evening, I was not too concerned about remembering the name of the horse I was riding."
However, when I went home that night, I looked it up. The closest answer I could find was "Brown Beauty," and even that is not 100% for certain.
Paul Revere simply says that he rode "a very good horse."
Sorry folks, that's the best I can do! 
Anyhow, the evening was a great success, and one of my personal highlights was hearing the Plymouth Fife & Drum Corp perform a few tunes.
Guests enjoy the music of the Plymouth (Michigan) Fife & Drum Corps
I let the hostess know that I would be happy to help again for next year's event, for I did enjoy speaking with the many donors as well as hearing the fife & drum corp perform.
I got the Plymouth (Michigan) Fife & Drum Corps to pose for me.
This group is awesome!

Benjamin Franklin (aka Bob Stark) bid out his 
services in a silent auction to help out the cause.
If you feel the desire (and are able) to help these young musical preservationists out, please click HERE to go to their Facebook page, just in case you want t see more of what they are about.

                                  ~   ~   ~                                 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Turn: The Original Culper Spy Ring Members

Filming season 4
~ (Updated) ~
"Turn:  Washington's Spies"  has been my favorite show on TV,  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 final 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,  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  (Breed's)  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 fail to 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.
My personal opinion is that Turn depicted this particular scene very well.
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.

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.
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.
A toast from Gen'l Washington
to the Culper Spy Ring
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:
Excitement abounded when Turn re-TURNed 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.
You mean the 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 has been a sad time for all of us fans now that Turn has come to its end (and the final episode was very appropriately done, by the way). But I look at it this way: at least we've had it for four ten episode seasons. This means after the final DVD collection of season four is released, 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....before I saw Season 4,  I became curiouser and curiouser...

Until next time,  see you in time. 

~       ~      ~

A special "thank you" to Marlene Di Via and the photographers on AMC's Turn & Rev War History Facebook page for supplying most of these wonderful pictures for me to use!
And then there is another Turn Facebook page I very much enjoy going to as well called A New Turn: We the People Revolt, and, thanks to administrator Jackie Lucia, I also was able to add wonderful images to the photos here as well.
And thanks must also go to Cynthia Hauer from the AMC's Turn and History Discussion Group page, for she, too, supplied some pretty awesome pictures (again, another awesome Turn page).
The Black Petticoat Society is a very good page that I will visit frequently as well.
All four are a wealth of not only Turn information, but 18th century American history in general.
Oh! And I can't forget Fred Blystone, who lives near Colonial Williamsburg, for supplying a few of the amazing photos he took during filming.

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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