Matthew Ballard

Nation’s Oldest Patriot Rests in Clarendon

Nation’s Oldest Patriot Rests in Clarendon

Matthew Ballard July 4, 2015

LemuelCook
Lemuel Cook – Age 105

Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 15

The history of Orleans County is sprinkled with the stories of our ancestors who served this great nation over the last 239 years. As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, it is only proper to recall the service of those men before us who risked everything they had as young men. They took up arms against what they believe to be an oppressive government focused on unfair taxation and inconsistent representation.

One such hero of the American Revolution was Lemuel Cook. A native of Northbury, Connecticut, Cook enlisted near Watertown, Connecticut at the young age of sixteen. He was present for the Battle of Brandywine and at Yorktown for General Cornwallis’ Surrender in 1781. An eventual settler of Clarendon, “Lem” as he was known would earn the distinction of the oldest pensioner of the Revolution at the time of his death on May 20, 1866 at the age of 107.

As a man in his old age, his talk became fragmented and his thoughts became scattered, but a glimmer of light appeared in his eyes when asked to recall the stories of his meetings with General Washington. On the first occasion Washington approached Lemuel to ask “Is that your horse soldier?” Coming to attention, Lem responded, “Yes, Sir!” Placing the young lad at ease, Gen. Washington inquired of his name to which Lem responded, “Lemuel Cook, from Connecticut, Sir.” After a quick compliment on the fine horse that Lem was tending to, Washington said, “Well, you take care of him, you will be glad you did,” and the General continued on.

Nearly three years later, Lemuel would cross paths with Washington again. Minding his own business, Cook’s attention was grabbed by a deep, rich voice that called out, “Lem Cook, is that you? I thought that might be you with that Bay.” Taken aback by the comment, Cook managed to let out a “Yes Sir, it’s very good to see you Sir.” A brief conversation concluded with yet another compliment of Cook’s fine horse; “I admire the lines of your Bay, Lem. I have one like it at Mount Vernon.”

Cook lived out the last days of his life at his home in Clarendon. In one of the last interviews conducted, he was asked to comment on the Civil War that was currently engulfing the nation. With a strong, booming voice he brought his cane down upon the floor with force shouting, “It is terrible, but terrible as it is the rebellion must be put down!” Lem Cook was a celebrity in his day with people across the nation seeking the signature of their last living patriot. It is said that a publisher from Hartford, Connecticut sent a photographer to capture this only image of Cook in 1861.

lemcook2

The final resting place of Mr. Cook was vandalized in early 2006 and we are fortunate that quick work was made of restoring his beautiful gravestone to its rightful condition.

Orleans County Patriots
Proven by the Orleans Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution

Dates of death included

Anderson, John – 2 Nov 1827
Auger, Felix – 12 Jan 1839
Bates, Israel – 11 Jan 1844
Bates, Samuel – 11 Aug 1822
Britnall, Thomas – 18 Aug 1830
Bullard, David – 28 Jun 1831
Butts, William – 20 Apr 1841
Clark, Asa* – Abt. 1834
Cone, Oliver – 4 Dec 1844
Cook, Lemuel – 20 May 1866
Darling, Benjamin – 23 Sep 1855
Harding, Abial – Oct 1851
Kimball, Howland – 24 Aug 1858
Letts, John – 21 Sep 1840
Milliken, Samuel – Abt. 1842
Murdock, Seymour – 14 Apr 1833
Percival, John – 13 Jun 1837
Pettingill, Benjamin – Abt. 1844
Phelps, Jedidiah – 9 Feb 1849
Root, Israel – 22 Apr 1848
Root, Joseph – 22 Aug 1846
Ruggles, Capt. Timothy – 29 Jun 1831
Ryan, John – 30 Jun 1836
Sheldon, Capt. Elisha – 19 Jan 1841
Smith, Robinson** – 27 Aug 1828
Standish, Asa –
Stevens, Isaac – 6 Jun 1821
Sturges, Augustus – 8 Jul 1828
Swift, Lott – 10 Aug 1840
Tanner, Willis M. Esq. – 23 Sep 1831
Thurston, Daniel – 23 Jan 1829
Timmerman, John – 17 Mar 1834
Tousley, William Jr. – 18 Aug 1827
Tripp, Anthony – 7 May 1846
Warren, Aaron – 21 Apr 1849
Wyman, Joseph – 28 Oct 1841

* – Washington’s courier, brought news to Gen. Washington of the British attack at Throgg’s Neck
** – Confirmed bodyguard of Gen. Washington, member of Washington’s Life Guard

Other Orleans County Patriots

Dates of death included

Allen, Reuben – 20 Jul 1836
Barry, Benjamin – Abt. 1822
Bennett, Daniel –
Bird, Eve –
Bracket, Daniel – 4 Jun 1830
Briggs, Joshua –
Brown, Stephen –
Chadwick, Nathan –
Covert, Peter -Abt. 1846
Davis, Levi – Abt. 1824
DeMary, David – 23 Sep 1855
Dunham, Matthew –
Flood, Joseph –
Foot, Elijah – 4 Jun 1827
Frink, Amos – 9 Nov 1846
Kelicott, Thomas –
Greeley, Noah – Abt. 1819
Green, Chaffe –
Gregory, Ralph – Abt. 1837
Hampton, John –
Hunt, Elijah – Abt. 1830
Jennings, William – 7 Mar 1842
Knowles, Seth – 2 Oct 1832
Lazendry, Samuel –
Lewis, Ebenezer – Abt. 1828
Lovewell, Henry – Abt. 1813
Ogle, William –
Parker, Asel – 17 Dec 1817
Phelps, Samuel –
Porter, Benjamin –
Purdy, Rev. James – 13 Oct 1844
Requa, Daniel – 5 Apr 1847
Rice, Elisha – 4 Sep 1842
Rutherford, John –
Sawyer, John – 15 May 1847
Sherwood, Nathan – 17 Feb 1823
Sisson, Peleg -11 Aug 1830
Thayer, Artemus – Abt. 1840
Weatherwax, Jacob – 15 Sep 1822
Wilson, Solomon – 22 Mar 1840
Wright, Elisha –