Monday, March 26, 2018

The Jessup Brothers in the American Revolution

Jessup Patent MapIn the mid-1760s, brothers Edward and Ebenezer Jessup moved from Dutchess County, NY, to Albany and engaged in land speculation in the Hudson River Valley and Lake George area.

The Jessups would become friendly with Sir William Johnson, who had built Fort William Henry in 1755.  Thanks to his close relationship with the Mohawk, Johnson became the Superintendent of Indian Affairs. The Jessups acquired much of their land from Johnson and the Mohawks.

Prior to the outbreak of Revolution, the Jessup brothers acquired land that now lies in the towns of Lake Luzerne, Hadley, Corinth, Warrensburg, Thurman, Chestertown, and Johnsburg.   The Jessups built sawmills and rafted logs and established a community named Jessup’s Landing (today the Village of Corinth) where they maintained a ferry on the road upstream to Jessup’s Falls (today, known as Rockwell Falls, between Lake Luzerne and Hadley). The landholdings of the Jessups would include much of what is now northern and western Warren County; and with these lands, the brothers further enriched themselves in the lumbering business.

jessup landmark

The Jessups were successful in the Adirondacks when it came to purchasing land and establishing hamlets, towns, and villages, but in the 1770s tensions were running high between loyalists and patriots – and the Jessups were loyalists.

In the winter of 1775, patriots burned some of the mills and destroyed the ferry; other mills were closed and the workers laid-off.  Fearful for their lives and property, the Jessups fled to Canada. There, they become active against the Revolution, fighting with Sir Guy Carleton and Sir John Johnson (the son of Sir William Johnson).  In 1777, the Jessups fought with Burgoyne throughout the Saratoga Campaign and surrendered at Saratoga with the rest of Burgoyne’s army.  The following year however, the Jessups returned with Major Christopher Carleton to raid the Champlain Valley.

Under Christopher Carleton, Edward and Ebenezer Jessup became officers of rank and began conducted their own raids into the Adirondacks from 1781 to 1783, including attacks on the Quaker settlements in what are now Queensbury and Glens Falls.  (Despite the anti-war tendencies of the Quakers, the British sought to disrupt Quaker farms supporting the revolt in the colonies.) Edward Jessup’s regiment of Rangers destroyed the farms in the Queensbury and Glens Falls area, and he used his extensive local knowledge to ensure that no farm went unscathed.

town-of-prescott-plaque edward JessupThe British raids caused people to fear for their lives and leave the area. The destruction of the farmland led to the limiting of grain, which was detrimental to both the armies as well as the families who opted to stay.

For acting against the Revolution, Edward and Ebenezer Jessup were dispossessed of their properties in the Adirondacks. Relocating permanently in Canada, they were granted extensive lands by the Crown for their services, including the current location of Prescott, Ontario.

Photos: Above, an 1890s map of early patents, showing the location of the patent where Jessup’s Landing was located; middle, the historical marker at the Jessup’s patent in Lake Luzerne (courtesy Warren County Historical Association); and below, a historical marker in Prescott, Ontario, that commemorates Edward Jessup.

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Marie Williams is a New York State certified social studies teacher and manages and writes the blog "The Half-Pint Historian", which focuses on American History. Marie is a 2014 graduate from The College of Saint Rose where she earned a Bachelor's of Arts degree in social studies adolescent education and will earn her Master's of Arts degree in American History from Southern New Hampshire University in May 2018. When not engaged in historical research for her blog, Marie enjoys teaching middle school and high school level social studies classes.

One Response

  1. Harv Sibley says:

    Good srticle Marie