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This 1776 Siege of Boston pay document bears the signatures of 34 members of Captain Luke Drury’s Company. At least 23 of the signers were Grafton, Massachusetts-area Minutemen who had responded to the Lexington-Concord Alarm on April 19-21, 1775, including Fortune Burnee, of African American and Native American heritage, joined by his half-brother, Joseph Anthony, who enlisted on April 29th and died in service. Revolutionary War documents simply listing Minutemen and black troops are scarce and desirable. This document is an extremely rare relic actually signed by the soldiers. [REVOLUTIONARY WAR].
Manuscript Document Signed by 34 soldiers of Capt. Luke Drury’s Company, February 9, 1776. Dorchester, Massachusetts [Siege of Boston]. 1 p. 7¾ x 12½ in.
“Recd of Cap.t Luke Drury the full of all our Wages as Officers & Soldiers in his Company in Colo Wards Regt in the Continantal [sic] Army for the Months of November & December Last.”
Lists the pay scale for six different positions, ranging from £2 per month for a private to £4 per month for a first lieutenant. Continues: “We have likewise Re[c]d all the money Due to us for milk Peas & Indian meal & Ration Money to Carey us home in full as witness our Hand…”
Names as they appear on the document are shown in italic font:
Edmund Dolbear [of Boston] 1
Thaddeus Kemp [mark] [of Billerica; enlisted April 29, 1775] 1
Thomas Leland, Jr. 1
[Cpl.] Joseph Leland 2
[Cpl.] William Walker 2
William Evans 3
Moses Rawson 1
Joseph Plumley [of Alstead] 1
Joseph Anthony[enlisted April 29, 1775; African-American (see below)] 1
Eliphalet Smith [born in Suffield, CT; of Sandisfield] 3
Matthias Rice 2
[Fifer] Zadock Putnam 2
[Sgt.] Ebenezer Phillips 2
[Drummer] Elijah Rice 2
[Sgt.] Shelomith Stow 2
Thomas Pratt 2
Eseck Dexter [Esek Dexter] 3
Edward Buttridge [Edward Buttrick] 3
Isaac Brigham 2
Zebulon Daniels 1
Forten Burnea[mark] [Fortin/Fortune/Fortunatus Burnee; African-American (see below)] 3
[Sgt.] Nathan Morse 4
[1st Lt.] Asaph Sherman 2
Ebenezer Melendy 2
Simeon Dexter[of Cumberland] 1
[Sgt.] Jonah Goulding 2
George Smith 3
Jonathan Hemenway[Jonathan Hemingway; of Framingham] 1
Samuel Starns[Samuel Stearns]2
Ebenezer Wadsworth [mark] [of Alstead; guardian of above William Evans] 1
Peter Butler 2
[2nd] Lt. Jonas Brown 2
Thomas Leland[Sr.] 5
John Banks [of Alstead] 1
1Not found listed on a surviving Lexington Alarm muster roll. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors. 11 of the 34 signers, counted by us as militiamen rather than minutemen.
2Captain Luke Drury’s Grafton Company, marched 36 miles in response to the Lexington Alarm, April 19, 1775. Ibid, probably citing original muster roll later sold at Sotheby’s Guthman Sale, December 1, 2005, lot 51. Also reprinted in History of Grafton. 15 of the 34 signers.
Note that Asaph Sherman’s April 19th service is not shown there, but is mentioned in KS# 20993.09. In addition, KS# 20993.04 shows that he was an officer in Drury’s Militia Company, May 31, 1773. Thus the total force of Drury’s company that day seems to have been 47, not 46.
3Marched 36 miles on April 21, 1775 to join Capt. Aaron Kimball’s April 19th Grafton Company. Ibid. Also in History of Grafton. 6 of the 34 signers.
4Captain Aaron Kimball’s Grafton Company, marched 36 miles in response to the Lexington Alarm, April 19, 1775. Ibid. Also in History of Grafton. 1 of the 34 men.
5Captain John Putnam’s Sutton Company, marched approx. 42 miles in response to the Lexington Alarm, April 19, 1775. Ibid. 1 of the 34 men.
Today, the terms minuteman and militiaman are often used interchangeably, but there was a distinction during the eighteenth century. Militia were men in arms formed to protect their towns from foreign invasion. They could designate up to one quarter of their force as minutemen, a specially trained force required to be highly mobile and able to assemble instantly to a call to arms. It is very difficult to categorize specific men into either of the two groups based on the surviving historical record. We apply the term here to all of those militia who responded April 19-21, 1775, to the Lexington-Concord Alarm. Importantly though, the extant Drury April 19, 1775 muster roll, mentioned in footnote #2, seems to list his 19  “Minute Men” first, with the remaining 27 out of 46  men listed in a separate section. Remarkably, 15 of those 20 true “Minute Men” were still with Drury into 1776, and sign this document.
In addition to the April 19, 1775 muster roll, mentioned in footnote #2, only two other rolls from that day have appeared at auction: Sotheby’s Guthman Sale, December 1, 2005, lot 26 – Capt. Leonard Butterfield’s Dunstable Co.; and Christie’s Snider Sale, June 21, 2005, lot 61 – Sgt. David Hartwell’s Concord Co.
Captain Luke Drury of Grafton had commanded a company of Minutemen since 1773. When word of the Lexington Alarm arrived, Drury and his men began the 36-mile march to Cambridge. They arrived on the morning of April 20th to join a massive army of volunteers from across Massachusetts. Drury’s company was soon incorporated into a Continental Army regiment under Col. Jonathan Ward, and stationed on the lines at Dorchester. On June 17, 1775, they fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill (Breed’s Hill), with at least one man, Samuel Heard, being killed. Also serving under Drury that day was Aaron Heath, who later recalled: “I fired thirty-two rounds at the red-coats.” Many of Drury’s men reenlisted when their term of service expired on January 1, 1776. Less than a month after thisdocument was signed, most likely some of these men also took part in the March 4, 1776 overnight seizure of Dorchester Heights – the celebrated action that forced the British to evacuate Boston.
Joseph Anthony and Fortune Burnee, Jr., half brothers,were both part African-American and Hassanamisco Nipmuc (Native American). Compared to records of white New Englanders, we know relatively little about them, but even so, more information exists on these freedmen than is the norm. Several of the Anthonys and Burnees were recorded in the Grafton vital, land, and probates records [the U.S. census neglected to record Native Americans from 1790-1890], and the Burnees have been discussed in recent historical and sociological literature: exploring the relationships both amongst marginalized peoples as well as with their white Yankee neighbors in eighteenth century New England; the definitions of race and identity; social mobility; Indian and black cultures; gender roles; Anglo-Nipmuc land dealings; and the remarkable preservation and history of an 190-acre tract of land in Grafton known as Hassanamesit Woods, which is the site of a seventeenth-century “praying Indian” village with Nipmuc habitations that clung on into the mid-nineteenth century.
Joseph Anthony was born in Grafton on December 24, 1753, son of Joseph/William Anthony, “Negro” and Abigail (Printer) Abraham, “Indian.” According to a Nipmuc leader and genealogist, Anthony’s ancestors include Hassanamisco Nipmuc Chief Anaweakin [second in command in King Philip’s War in 1675-6; along with Philip/Metacom, Anaweakin was killed, and his children sold into slavery]; his father, Noas, Sachem of Hassanamesit, forced into exile at the same time and died at Deer Island in Boston Harbor; and Nanapashemet, Great Sagamore of the Massachuset Federation who was killed in battle in 1619 at Rock Hill, Medford, the year before Massachusetts was colonized by the English.
In 1728, seven Indian “Planters” or householders and 33 English re-divided the land at Hassanamesit to incorporate the town of Grafton. In 1739, Abigail Printer married Andrew Abraham, Jr., “Indian Planter.” Based on Abigail Printer’s surname, and the very small population left at Hassanamesit in the 1700s, it is believed that she is a descendant of Rev. John Eliot’s notable contemporary James Printer, a Harvard student in 1645-46, who worked for Samuel Green, printing Eliot’s famous “Indian Bible” in 1663. Abigail and Andrew had three sons, before he died in August 1746, after returning from service in the Port Royal Campaign.
Abigail married second, November 14, 1752, Joseph/William Anthony. Little is known of him, other than his listing in town records as a “Negro.” It appears he died circa 1756. Their son, the signer of this document, Joseph Anthony, married Lydia Mercy (Johnson). He enlisted in the army April 29, 1775, and was reported missing July 6, 1777 [probably at the Battle of Ticonderoga], and dead December 26, 1777 [possibly a prisoner of war on board an infamous New York City British prison ship]. At the time, he was a private in Capt. Blanchard’s Company of Col. James Wesson’s 9th Massachusetts Regiment.
Fortune Burnee, Jr. [Grafton records spell his name a number of different ways.] Dr. David R. Mandell believes there was one man of that name, but we find that Electa Kane Tritsch’s postulation that there was a father and a son of the same name makes more sense. Abigail, again a widow, married a third time, January 27, 1757, to Fortune Burnee, [Sr.], described as “Negro,” a veteran of one or more expeditions to Canada during the French and Indian War and widower of another Hassanamisco, Sarah (Muckamaug) Whipple. [Mandell writes that Burnee had changed his first name from William to Fortune, based on his good luck, but does not cite the source or anecdote: Fortune seems more likely a given slave name. He also claims that Burnee abandoned his first wife Sarah before her death, but Tritsch has found no evidence for this: that statement may have been compounded with Sarah’s first husband, Aaron Whipple, of Providence, Rhode Island]. It is thought that Burnee Sr. died about 1771. If so, his son Fortune Burnee, Jr., is the man who served under Capt. Luke Drury. It is as yet unknown if he is the son of Fortune Burnee, Sr.’s second wife Abigail (Printer) Abraham Anthony Burnee, who died in 1776, or his first wife, Sarah (Muckamaug) Whipple Burnee, who died in 1751 [thus, he is either Anthony’s younger half-brother, or older step-brother]. It is interesting to observe that Burnee signs this document with a mark, while Anthony is capable of signing in full – whether that hints that Anthony was the younger brother, with less responsibilities on the homestead, and more opportunity for education, is mere speculation. However, Tritsch (probably by process of elimination, finding that Fortune Burnee, Jr. does not appear in Sarah’s estate papers) assigns him as the younger, a son of Abigail, and half-brother of Joseph Anthony. Fortune Burnee, Jr. marched on April 21, 1775 in response to the Lexington-Concord Alarm. Marriage records then show that Fortune Burnee, [Jr.] married July 31, 1778, “Phylis…negro servant of Rev. Mr. Frost…of Mendon [both are listed as “Negroes”], and then November 8, 1781, Sarah Hector, of Sutton [again, both are listed as “Negroes”]. He died in 1795.
Without going into the complex history of Hassanamesit and the Hassanimisco praying Indians, Reverend Ezra Stiles’s 1761 impressions of the settlement are notable: “At Grafton…I saw the Burying place & Graves of 60 or more Indians. Now not a Male Ind. in Town, & perh. 5 Squaws who marry Negroes.” By 1770, the town selectmen reported “that there is but one male Indian left” – this man was in fact one of Sarah (Muckamaug) Whipple’s bi-racial children, Joseph Aaron. 87 years earlier, in 1674, Daniel Gookin, had noted that the Indian village had contained twelve families (perhaps sixty souls) – King Philip’s War of 1675-76 and its lingering years of conflict played a major part in this population displacement and decrease.
African Americans (& Native Americans) in the American Revolution. Of the estimated 100,000 men who served in the Continental Army, at least 5,000 were black. Most black soldiers fought in integrated units, as in Massachusetts; some states, like Rhode Island had segregated regiments, while Connecticut seems to have had both segregated and integrated. Both enslaved and free African-Americans served in the army as soldiers, laborers, and servants. In some cases, slaves were offered freedom for their services as soldiers, though others remained enslaved, fighting in place of their masters. Many states had been reluctant to arm the black population, but had no other countermove to the British Lord Dunmore’s offer of freedom to Southern black enlistees. A significant number of colonial blacks at this time were also partly of Native American ancestry – to take once state, Massachusetts’s eighteenth-century Indian population had two females to one male, while the majority of the imported African slave laborers were male. Those figures, coupled with their removal to neighboring outskirts of colonial society, as well as the enslavement of many Indians in New England after King Philip’s War, did much to comingle the two ethnic groups.
Luke Drury (1734-1811) of Grafton, Massachusetts joined the militia in 1757 during the French and Indian Wars. As captain of a company of Minutemen and Militamen, he responded to the Lexington Alarm, and later joined Colonel Jonathan Ward’s regiment to fight at Bunker Hill. Drury and his men served in different areas during the war, from West Point to Grafton, where his company guarded military stores. He also supported the Continentals financially, at one point giving £50 fifty pounds to enlist soldiers in Grafton.
In 1786-1787, Drury became deeply involved in Shays’ Rebellion, a tax revolt led by farmers in western Massachusetts. The uprising was quashed, and Drury imprisoned as “a person dangerous to the state.” He was eventually released on good behavior. Drury remained active in state and local politics, serving terms as constable, deputy sheriff, tax collector, assessor, selectman, and state legislator.
Little wear, original untrimmed margins, usual folds; beautiful condition with deep dark handwriting.
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