Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mystery #10: Where was John Beagle born and who were his parents?

According to DAR applications submitted in the 1920s and 1930s, John Beagle, Revolutionary patriot, was born in Holland in 1745. This is highly unlikely since Dutch immigration into the North American continent ended at least 35 years before his birth. Researcher Hiram Bise wrote a brief history of the family in the late 19th century, stating that the family emigrated from Holland in the mid 1600's. Another researcher stated that the original Beagles were early settlers on Long Island and then went to Bergen Co., NJ before moving up the Hudson to Dutchess. This scenario has not yet been corroborated.

So, if John Beagle was not born in Holland, then where?

John may have been born in Long Island since variations of the family name appear in Hempstead during the 17th and 18th centuries. However, absence of the birth of such a person in the published records appears to contradict this possibility.

Since John married a young woman in Fishkill Plains, Dutchess County in 1785 (he was 40 years old and she was 17), it seems likely that his family had some roots in that county. Did John know her family before the war? Perhaps John had served with one of her relatives or maybe those Beagles in Dutchess County were his cousins? There was a John Beagle born in the same time frame in Dutchess County, probably the John Beagle who served in Brinkerhoff's Dutchess County Regiment during the Revolutionary War. Was that John related to my Beagles?

John’s second and third enlistments during the Revolutionary War took place in Schenectady. In December 1778, the Company Muster Roll states that John was "Sick in Schenectady Smallpox." Some researchers place John and his family in Schenectady between 1790 and 1792. Could he have been born there - or did he have relatives there?

There is a family story that our early Beagle ancestors lived in the "wilds" of New York, traded with the Indians, and that one of those ancestors married an Indian woman. True? Family legend? Or, maybe a bit of both? A possible clue to John's birthplace might be that he served most of the Revolutionary War under Captain Leonard Bleecker whose ancestor had been a translator among the Indians. Did they know each other before the War or did they meet for the first time during the expedition to Canada (1775) in which both participated?

An article "Migration Pathways to and from Dutchess County, New York, 1683-1820" by Frank J. Doherty, Sr., pp. 55-57, appearing in the Spring 2010 issue of "American Ancestors" Magazine, states that "Settlers came to Dutchess mostly from the south and east, some from the north, and a few from the west. Since primogeniture (meaning that the oldest son got the family farm) was in effect at that time, many younger sons set out to find their own lands. The author continues, "As late as 1758-60, approximately 70% of the men (serving in the French and Indian War) had been born outside Dutchess County, some from as far away as Europe. Sizable migration out of Dutchess County began about 1764...with many soldiers having seen the good land above Albany and, they decided to start anew in the north."

Is it possible that my Beagle line did indeed first settle in Long Island and that John's ancestor could have migrated north (perhaps with a stop in New Jersey), settling in the wilds of northern New York because of the lucrative fur trade, and then the family moved south into Dutchess County. It is also possible that they might have been among those New Englanders who came to New York.

Since John Beagle enlisted in the Revolutionary army in 1775 at New City (later called Lansingburgh, now a part of Troy, New York), it is most likely that John lived in that area at the time, plying his trade as a weaver. Did he come to that area from the north or west or from the south? Or...was he born there?

After returning from Canada, John was assigned to patrol duty along the North River (now known as the Hudson River) and Lake Champlain, Apparently, he knew that territory well enough to be entrusted to scout it with confidence. I believe that we can definitely consider that his "home turf" within that time frame.

A Moses Beagle was a prisoner of the British during the war and died in captivity. Was that Moses related to John? Did John name his second son after that Moses?

So many questions, so few answers. Hopefully, future research will shed some light on these mysteries.

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