Birth: 17 May 1754, Salisbury (Litchfield) CT [D. Williams Patterson, John Stoddard of Wethersfield, CT (1873), p. 33; Find-a-grave (died in his 37th year)].
Death: 12 July 1790, Salisbury (Litchfield) CT [Stoddard, p. 33; Gravestone photo; Malcolm Day Rudd, Men of Worth of Salisbury Birth, The Salisbury Quadrimillenium Edition, (The Salisbury Assoc., 1991), p. 161].
Marriage: Mary Holley, daughter of John and Sarah (Lord) Holley. Marriage date unknown, and several years after Darius Stoddard’s death, Mary is believed to have wed Elias Hall, of Castleton VT, an officer of the Revolutionary War. [Men of Worth, p. 161]
Children: There is no record of children.
Education: He was trained in medicine and surgery, but it is not known by whom. By the start of the war, Dr. Stoddard was fully qualified to practice medicine and quickly signed on to serve as a Surgeon’s Mate and Surgeon in the Continental Army. [Men of Worth, p. 160]
Military: The first record of Dr. Stoddard’s service began 1 Jan 1777, as Surgeon’s Mate and Surgeon in the Hospital Department of the Continental Army, at the age of 22. He continued service to the Continental Army, Hospital Dept. for a period of 5 years, serving for some of that time as Surgeon, Col. Henry Jackson’s Regiment. [Secretary of the Commonwealth, Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, Vol. 15 (Boston, MA, 1907), p. 62. hereinafter “MSSRW”; CT Adjutants General, Records of Service of Connecticut Men in the War of the Revolution (Hartford CT, 1889) p. 629, hereinafter “CMWR”; Francis Heitman, Historical Register, Officers of the Continental Army (WashingtonDC. Rare Book Co. 1914) p. 522].
Cincinnati: Darius Stoddard never joined the Society of the Cincinnati prior to his untimely death at the age of 37 and there is no record he left any children; he was first represented by Hereditary Member (Rule of 1854) who joined in 2013, just 8 days prior to the 223rd anniversary of Dr. Stoddard’s death.
Occupation: Physician, surgeon [Men of Worth, p. 160; records of the Continental Army, Hospital Dept. service].
Discussion: Darius Stoddard was the fifth of nine children born to Josiah and Sarah (Robbarts) Stoddard, and the fourth of five boys. Four of the Stoddard boys served with distinction during the War; elder brothers Luther (2nd LT, Hinman’s 4th CT; Capt., Burrall’s CT Reg.) and Josiah (Capt., 2nd Continental Light Dragoons), and younger brother Samuel (Sergt., Warner’s Regt. and 2nd CT Line). His father died in 1764, leaving the 10 year old Darius’ guardianship to the executor of his father’s will. However, upon reaching legal age Darius was able to select his own guardian and chose Nathaniel Buell. Darius and his two older brothers were widely known and respected for their bravery and patriotic service throughout the war, but the trio was also well known for their quick tempers and unseemly behavior. Although often finding themselves in trouble, Darius generally put his abundant energy to good use throughout his war time service as a Surgeon’s Mate and Surgeon, serving in the Hospital Department throughout much of the war. However, frequent disagreements with fellow patriots were not uncommon and perhaps the most famous incident in his military service occurred in the fall of 1780, when he raised serious charges against his late-brother’s commander, Col. Elisha Sheldon, 2nd Light Dragoons. The conclusion of Sheldon’s general court-martial ended with the Colonel acquitted of all charges, “with honor and approbation” and Stoddard fined for the expenses of the trial for bringing charges deemed without merit. After the war, Dr. Stoddard continued to practice medicine in his hometown of Salisbury and in eastern New York until the time of his death. Stoddard and his brother, Luther, joined the Montgomery Lodge of Masons in 1783, the year of the lodge’s founding. The lodge is still active to this day, known as Montgomery Lodge No. 13. As the war ended, he petitioned Congress and the Connecticut State Assembly, finally receiving his back pay earned during the War. However, he became consumed with land speculation deals in Virginia and found himself accumulating great debts, which landed him in jail from time to time. After a brief stay in jail in 1790, he became ill and soon thereafter died of consumption. He is buried next to his father in Town Hill Cemetery, which can be found on the campus of the Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, CT. His headstone is inscribed with the following words: “In Memory of Doctor Darius Stoddard, who Died July 12th 1790 in the 37th year of his age. Nor shill, nor art the shafts of death can shun, But all alike his Icy arms must try; How short our time, how soon our race is run, Then let’s with care to Christ for shelter fly.”
[Men of Worth, p. 157-161; Find-a-grave and gravestone photo; “CMWR”, pp. 61, 93, 110, 257, 272, 327; “Heitman’s Historical Register”, p. 522; Dr. Darius Stoddard, Letter to the CT General Assembly, dated 15 October 1782 (Connecticut State Archives: Revolutionary War, 1763-1789), series 1, roll 23, p. 263; Montgomery Lodge No. 13, Lakeville, CT (www.montgomerylodge13.org)].
by John Roberts Bockstoce
Birth: March 26, 1740 at Lebanon, CT. He was the second son of Governor Jonathan Trumbull (1710-1785) and Faith (Robinson) Trumbull (1718-1780), daughter of the Reverend John Robinson of Duxbury, Massachusetts.
Death: August 7, 1809 at Lebanon, CT. He is buried in the East Cemetery.
Marriage: He married Eunice Backus, daughter of Ebenezer and Eunice (Dyer) Backus of Norwich, CT, on March 26, 1767.
Children: They had five children, but three daughters were the only ones to reach adulthood: Faith (b. 1769) married Daniel Wadsworth, the founder of the Wadsworth Atheneum; Harriet (b. 1783) married Benjamin Silliman, the first professor of chemistry at Yale and a founder of the Yale Medical School; and Maria (b. 1785) married Henry Hudson, son of the publisher of the Hartford Courant.
Education: He was educated at Nathan Tisdale’s School in Lebanon, CT, and Harvard College, class of 1759, where he gave the salutatory and valedictory addresses.
Military: He was Paymaster-General of the Northern Department of the Continental Army (July 1775 to July 1778), briefly served as Comptroller of the Treasury (1778-1779), and, later, as Secretary and Aide-de-Camp to General George Washington (June 1781 to August 1783). He was present at the surrender of Lord Cornwallis’s forces at Yorktown and served until after news of the Treaty of Paris had reached North America.
Cincinnati: He was an original member of the society and served as the first secretary of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Connecticut, from 1783 to 1793.
Occupation: Merchant, farmer, politician.
Discussion: Jonathan Trumbull, Junior was a Selectman in Lebanon, CT (1770-1775), Justice of the Peace in Windham County, CT (1775 to 1795), member of the lower house of the Connecticut State Legislature (1774-1775, 1779-1780, and 1788), and Speaker of the Connecticut General Assembly (1788). He was elected to the First, Second, and Third United States’ Congresses (March 1789 to March 1795) and was the second Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. He then served as United States Senator (March 1795 to June 1796), Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut (1796 to 1797), and Governor of the state for eleven consecutive terms, from 1797 to his death in 1809.
Aeneas Munson was born 11 September 1763. He was the son of Dr. Aeneas Munson (____-1826) of New Haven, Yale class of 1753, and Susanna Howell (d. 1803). His father was a founder of the Connecticut Medical Society.
Aeneas Munson’s death occurred on 22 August 1852. (Heitman lists his death date as 16 June 1826, which is that of his father.)
Aeneas Munson married Mary Shepherd (1772-1848) on 03 May 1794.
Aeneas and Mary Munson were the parents of the following children: Alfred Shepherd Munson (1795-1870) who married Mary Ann Tarten in 1822. Frederick Munson (1797-1803). Charles Munson (1799-1890) who never married. Eneas Munson (1800-1805). Mary Ann Pomeroy Munson (1803-1844) who married George Younglove Cutler in 1821. John Munson (1808-1810). William Munson (1811-1812).
Aeneas Munson graduated from Yale in 1780..
After the war, Aeneas Munson practiced medicine at New Haven, Connecticut as had his father before him.
Surgeon’s Mate of Webb’s Continental Regiment, March, 1779; transferred to 4th Connecticut, 1st January, 1781; transferred to 3d Connecticut, 1st January, 1783; retained in Swift’s Connecticut Regiment, June, 1783, and served to November, 1783.
Yale and her honor-roll in the American revolution, 1775-1783 provides the following account of Aenea Munson’s service:
Very soon after graduation or September 1, 1780, Munson was commissioned Surgeon’s Mate in Col. Swift’s Seventh Connecticut Continental Line. During the winter of 1780-81 his regiment was hutted with the Connecticut Division on the Hudson, opposite West Point. In June following he was detached to assist Surgeon Thacher, of the Massachusetts Line, in Col. Scammell’s Light Infantry corps, which, after engaging in one or two sharp skirmishes in Westchester County, marched in August with the army to Yorktown, Virginia. There it took a leading part in the siege, and in after life, Dr. Munson had many incidents to tell of the operations and surrender. Returning north he rejoined his regiment, which in 1781-82 was the Fourth Connecticut, under Col. Butler, with Dr. Timothy Hosmer as Chief Surgeon. Remaining in the Highlands, he served until the disbandment in June, 1783.
Connecticut. Adjutant-General’s Office. Record of Service of Connecticut Men In the I. War of the Revolution, II. War of 1812, III. Mexican War. Hartford: [Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co.], 1889. pp. 337, 354 && 374
Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution April, 1775, to December, 1783. Washington, D.C.: The Rare Book Shop Publishing Company, 1914. p. 407.
Donald Lines Jacobus, comp., v. 6. Salem, Mass: Higginson Book Co., 1994. p. 1307.
Henry Phelps Johnston, Yale and her honor-roll in the American revolution, 1775-1783. New York : Privately printed [by G.P. Putnam’s Sons], 1888. pp. 345-346.
Howard A. Kelly, A Cyclopedia of American Medical Biography: Comprising the Lives of Eminent Deceased Physicians And Surgeons From 1610 to 1910. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Co., 1912. pp. 835-836.
Benson J. Lossing, Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution, v. 1. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Co., 2008, p. 430.
Biographical information compiled by V. Allen Gray.
2d Lieutenant of Silliman’s Connecticut State Regiment, 20th June to 25th December, 1776; 1st Lieutenant 5th Connecticut, 1st January 1777; Captain-Lieutenant, 1st June, 1778; Captain, 1st April, 1779; transferred to 2d Connecticut, 1st January, 1781; resigned 17th December, 1781.
Connecticut, Adjutant-General’s Office. Record of Service of Connecticut Men In the I. War of the Revolution, II. War of 1812, III. Mexican War. Hartford: [Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co.], 1889. p. 355.
Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution April, 1775, to December, 1783. Washington, D.C.: The Rare Book Shop Publishing Company, 1914. p. 579.
Military service posted by V. Allen Gray.
Richard Douglas died in 1816.
Private in the Lexington Alarm, April, 1775; Ensign and Regimental Quartermaster in Selden’s Connecticut State Regiment, 20th June to 25th December, 1776; 2d Lieutenant 1st Connecticut, 1st January, 1777; 1st Lieutenant, 1st January 1778; Captain Lieutenant, 11th August, 1780; Captain, 22d August 1780; transferred to 5th Connecticut, 1st January, 1781; transferred to 3d Connecticut, 1st January, 1783; transferred to Swift’s Consolidated Connecticut Regiment, June, 1783, and served to 3d November, 1783.
Connecticut, Adjutant-General’s Office. Record of Service of Connecticut Men In the I. War of the Revolution, II. War of 1812, III. Mexican War. Hartford: [Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co.], 1889. p. 353.
Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution April, 1775, to December, 1783. Washington, D.C.: The Rare Book Shop Publishing Company, 1914. p. 202.
Military service posted by V. Allen Gray.
Birth: 30 Aug. 1756, Norwich (New London) CT [Barbour VR Norwich CT]
Death: 16 Aug. 1831, Norwich (New London) CT [NEHGR Vol. 2 (Oct. 1848) pp. 404-407, Inscriptions From the Burying-ground in Norwich, CT].
Marriage: Ebenezer Perkins stated in letter dated 12 June 1820 (in support of his pension) that “my family residing with me consists of my wife who is about 70 years of age, very infirm, and not able to contribute anything to her support” [Revolutionary War Pension File S36219, Ebenezer Perkins, Connecticut]. His wife’s name was Eunice (maiden name unknown), and she died 6 March 1829 at age 83 at Norwich, CT [NEHGR II-404-407].
Children: It is unknown if Capt. Perkins ever sired any children; there is no reference to any children in his pension file, nor in any of the records located about him.
Education: He appears to have been was well read but details of his education are unknown.
Military: He responded to the Lexington Alarm in April 1775 as a Sgt. of the volunteers from the town of Norwich, CT [CT Adjutants General, Records of Service of Connecticut Men in the War of the Revolution (Hartford CT, 1889) p. 19, hereinafter “CMWR”]; Sgt. 8th Continental Regiment, 10 July 1775 [Francis Heitman, Historical Register, Officers of the Continental Army (Washington DC. Rare Book Co. 1914) p. 436; CMWR p. 85]; Ensign, 8th Continental Regiment, 18 Sept. 1775- 10 Dec. 1775 [Heitman. p. 436; CMWR p. 85]; 2nd Lt., 17th Continental Regiment, 1 Jan. 1776 [Heitman. p. 436; CMWR p. 102]; 1st Lt., 1st Continental Regiment, 1 Jan. 1777 [Heitman p. 436; CMWR p. 146]; Captain, 1st Continental Regiment, 1 Jan. 1778 [Heitman p. 436; CMWR p. 146]; he spent the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge, where he signed the Oath of Allegiance to the United States [The Army and Navy of the United States, 1776-1891, George Barrie Publisher, Philadelphia 1890]; resigned 1 July 1780 [Heitman p. 436; CMWR p. 146].
Cincinnati: Original Member [CMWR p. 376]; first represented in 1982 by George Breed [d. 2000]. Now represented by Hereditary Member who joined in 2011.
Occupation: Stated in letter dated 12 June 1820 (in support of his pension) that he was “a trader” [Pension File].
Discussion: Ebenezer Perkins was one of the many officers of the Continental Army who became active in the Masonic Order during and after the Revolutionary War. On 16 October 1794, he was among several men who were involved in the effort to reorganize the Union Lodge, which initially was chartered 12 January 1753 [200 Years of Union Lodge No. 31, New London Connecticut, hereinafter “200 Years”, www.unionlodge31.org]. The new charter for Union Lodge No. 31 was issued 20 May 1795 [Ibid]. On 25 June 1799, Capt. Ebenezer Perkins, as Worshipful Master of Union Lodge No. 31, laid the foundation for Freemason’s Hall in Norwich, CT [Ibid]. On 27 December 1800 at the Festival of St. John the Baptist, he delivered an address to those assembled at Freemason’s Hall [An Address Delivered to Union Lodge at Freemason’s Hall, in the City of New of New London, on the Festival of St. John the Evangelist 1800 by Ebenezer Perkins (Samuel Green, New London 1801)]. He served as Worshipful Master of Union Lodge No. 31 from 1799 to 1804 [200 Years]. In October 1805 he represented Union Lodge No. 31 at the Convocation of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the State of Connecticut [Records of Capitular Masonry in the State of Connecticut, hereinafter “Capitular Masonry” (Press Wiley, Waterman & Eaton, Hartford 1875) p. 32]. He also represented Union Lodge No. 31 at the convocations of May 1812, May 1813, and October 1813 [Capitular Masonry pp. 52, 56, 58]. However, later in life, he apparently fell on financial hard times. In the records of the October 1813 meeting of the Grand Lodge there is the following entry: “The Grand Lodge was opened in the Third Degree of Masonry when a petition from sundry brethren of Union Lodge No. 31, New London, praying some relief for our Bro. Ebenezer Perkins, a member of said Lodge, in consequence of his many and great misfortunes, was introduced and read. After sundry remarks on the subject, it was ordered that the Grand Treasurer pay to Bro. Perkins from the funds of the Grand Lodge, seventy-five dollars, as a charitable donation in his afflicted circumstances.” [The Records of Freemasonry in the State of Connecticut (E.G. Storer, New Haven 1859) p. 254]. His indigent circumstances persisted, as shown by his 12 June 1820 declaration in support of his pension application, in which he stated “by reason of my infirmity have not the ability to pursue” his occupation as a trader and that due to “my reduced and indigent circumstances in life, [I am] unable to support myself without the assistance of my country” [Pension File]. Capt. Ebenezer Perkins died in Norwich, CT 31 August 1831 at age 74 and was buried in Norwich City Cemetery [www.Find-A-Grave.com].
Birth: 24 Sep. 1737, Lyme, CT
Death: 03 Oct. 1800, Pachog (now Westbrook), CT
Marriage: 15 Jul. 1759, Pachog, CT. SARAH WORTHINGTON daughter of WILLIAM WORTHINGTON and TEMPERANCE GALLUP. She was born 15 May 1735 in Pachog, CT and died 15 Jan 1808 in Sand Lake, NY (now Averill Park, NY).
Children: Children of JOHN ELY and SARAH WORTHINGTON are:
i. WORTHINGTON ELY, b. 1759, Saybrook, CT; d. 1803, Coeymans, NY.
ii. EMMA ELY, b. 1760; d. 1837.
iii. ETHLINDA ELY, b. Abt. 1764; d. 15 Aug 1829, Goshen, NY.
iv. ELIZABETH ELY, b. 22 Feb 1764, Saybrook, CT; d. 03 Mar 1837, Berlin, CT.
v. ANNA ARNOLD ELY, b. 13 Jul 1766. Anna Arnold Ely only appears in “The Ely Ancestry” and no other evidence has been found for her. Some DAR lineages claim it was she who married Matthew Cole others show Amy/Amah/Emma married to Cole.
vi. TEMPERANCE ELY, b. 1768.
vii. LUCRETIA ELY, b. 04 Mar 1770, Saybrook, CT; d. 26 Feb 1839, Sand Lake, NY (now Averill Park, NY).
viii. TEMPERANCE ELY, b. 10 Oct 1772.
ix. DR. JOHN ELY, b. 1774, Saybrook, CT; d. 20 Aug 1849, Coxsackie, NY.
x. EDWARD ELY, b. 06 Jan 1777, Saybrook, CT; d. 22 Nov 1825, Goshen, NY1; m. DOLLY UNKNOWN. Edward was a lawyer in Goshen, NY. Some sources give his name as Edwin. His will mentions wife Dolly and his six brothers and sisters: Worthington(deceased), John, Ethelinda Elliott, Elizabeth Goodrich, Emma Cole, Lucretia Gregory. No children named.
Note: There are no Ely surnamed descendants after the 5th generation from John.
Occupation: Medical Doctor.
Education: There is no record of Ely attending College, but his career as a successful Doctor would indicate that he had some education.
Military: Captain 6th Connecticut,1st May to 18th December, 1775; Colonel Connecticut Militia Regiment in 1777; taken prisoner on the Long Island Expedition, 10th December, 1777; exchanged 5th December, 1780. (Heitman, p216). Col. of the 4th Battalion of CT Militia under Gen. Joseph Spencer starting 4 Oct. 1777. Since he was in a militia unit in Continental Service under Gen. Spencer of the Continental Army, his 3 years in captivity are qualifying Continental service.
Cincinnati: Not an original member. First represented by LEONARD BRONK LAMPMAN (1872-1939) a great-great-grandson who joined in 1895, a lifelong bachelor. From 1970 to 1994, Ely was represented by THEODORE FROTHINGHAM III, a great-great-great-great-grandson. Ely is currently represented by GREGORY BELL SMITH, a great-great-great-great-grandson who joined in 2013 and his son AMOS KENDALL SMITH III is his designated Successor. JAMES PARKER (1854-1934), a great-great-great-grandson was made an honorary member of the Rhode Island Society in 1929. PRIESTLEY TOULMIN III, a great-great-great-great-grandson is a member of the Connecticut Society through collateral descent from Col. John Ely’s brother, Capt. Christopher Ely. Another current CT member is a great-great-great-great-grandson who joined the Connecticut Society in 1995 through descent from 2nd Lt. Elias Mather and his son is his designated Successor. The obituary of HOMER HOWLAND STUART, Jr. (1918-2011) a great-great-great-great-grandson, indicated he was a member without specifying his Propositus or Society but no record of his membership has been found in Cincinnati records.
Discussion: John Ely became a physician and surgeon with a reputation that reached far beyond the Westbrook village in which he lived. He specialized in the treatment of smallpox. He bought Duck Island off the Saybrook shore and then built a hospital for his smallpox patients. When this dread disease broke out in the Army of General George Washington in July 1776, Dr. Ely was sent for and did much to arrest the plague.
But Colonel Ely is remembered better as a soldier of the Revolutionary War and as a patriot who gave not only his skill as physician and military commander to the cause, but his fortune and his health.
In 1775 Ely, after the news of the battle of Lexington came to Westport, mustered a company of militia as Captain and marched with it to Roxbury, now part of Boston. The next year as Major he performed a tour of duty as commandant at Fort Trumbull, New London, also serving there as physician and one day he sent a “pithy” letter to the Captain of a vessel at the mouth of the harbor suspected of being English. She promptly sailed away.
Major Ely was a man of wealth, mostly invested in farms. One of these in 1777 he sold and used most of the proceeds in raising a regiment of which he was commissioned Colonel. To many of his men he furnished arms, uniforms and other supplies at his own expense. What little remained of the money he poured, one day, into the lap of his wife saying: “Here Sarah is all that is left of the Griswold farm.”
“It is the price of liberty,” she replied with an approving smile.
He marched his regiment to New London and was again appointed commandant of the Fort.
After the war, broken in health and fortune, Col. Ely applied to Congress for recompense for his services and for the money he had devoted to the great cause. As a result, long after his death, we have the following official report of his services from the Committee on Rev. Claims of the House of Representatives, January 23, 1833:
“Col. Ely, at the commencement of the Revolutionary War, was a physician of celebrity, residing at the town of Saybrook, Conn. In the early stages of the conflict he abandoned his profession and raised a regiment of regular troops and was commissioned as a colonel; and at the head of his regiment he entered into the service of his country. “On the 9th of Dec. 1777 he was captured by the enemy and became a prisoner of war, and was paroled at Flatbush, on Long Island, where were also prisoners several hundred American officers. Among these officers a distressing illness prevailed, and Col. Ely, from the humanity that belonged to his character, from the day of his captivity to the day of his exchange, faithfully and exclusively devoted his time to them as physician. In discharging this duty he encountered much hardship and expense as the residences of the sick officers were scattered over a considerable space of country, many of them being as much as twenty miles apart. Col. Ely, when unable because of bodily infirmity or the state of the weather, to perform his long tours on foot, hired a horse at an extravagant price and paid the cost out of his own private means. He was also compelled frequently to purchase medicine for the ill at his own cost.
“Soon after he became a prisoner his son Capt. Worthington Ely, in conjunction with other friends, fitted out at their own expense a vessel and manned her for the purpose of surprising and capturing a British force with which to effect the exchange of Col. Ely. The object of the expedition succeeded so far as regarded the surprise and capture of the enemy, and the prisoners were delivered to the proper authorities to be exchanged for Col. Ely. This, however, was not done by reason of the earnest entreaties of the ailing officers, who considered their lives as greatly depending on the continuance, and skill of Col. Ely. He was induced to forego his right to an exchange and consented to remain for the comfort and safety of his sick brother officers. It appears from a certificate of Samuel Huntington, president of Congress that still subsequent to the time when his exchange might have been effected, through the valor of his son and friends, and when he became entitled to an exchange by the regular rule, that a deputation of exchanged officers, who had been his fellow prisoners, was appointed to wait on Congress, by the sick officers who remain in captivity, and to urge the continuance of Col. Ely as their physician and surgeon. At the head of the deputation were Col. Matthews (since a member of Congress and Governor of Georgia) and Col. Ramsay of the Maryland line. Col. Ely was in consequence of this representation not exchanged, although entitled to an exchange. He remained and acted as physician and surgeon till the 25th of Dec. 1780, when he was released – a period of more than three years.”
When he was captured by the British, Col. Ely and his regiment were in a ship crossing the sound from Conn. to Long Island for an attack there with other Continental forces. As to his application for recompense, General Henry Knox, Secretary of War, made a highly favorable report. President Washington wrote the Colonel promising a successful outcome for his petition. The House adopted a bill to grant him $20,000.00. Ely was at Philadelphia at the time. Much pleased he wrote his daughter, Mrs. Samuel Goodrich, that in a few days he would be able to give her the marriage outfit which his poverty had hither to prevented him from doing. But the Colonel did not have in mind what U.S. Senator Oliver Ellsworth could do to his bill. Ellsworth much opposed to special money grants and decidedly a watch dog of the Treasury, successfully fought the Ely measure in the Senate. Col. Ely returned home full of grief and despondency. About forty years later his heirs presented a claim to Congress, which was at once recognized, but as most of the papers in the case had been lost only $5,000.00 was allowed.
After his release from Long Island he returned broken in health to Westbrook to find himself in debt, his house dilapidated, his wife prematurely aged from care and anxiety, and weeping over the desolation of herself and children. But courageously Dr. Ely resumed his practice. He arose early each morning, saved and chopped his wood, built fires, fed and milked the cows then went forth on his Professional rounds, among patients who like himself were impoverished. So poor had the once prosperous Ely’s become they had little other food than hasty pudding, or mush and milk, He cheered his wife by saying that the children of the poor were always the healthiest because of the simplicity of their diet. “The bones of our children,” he added, “shall be made of Indian meal, and they shall be as strong as Spartans.” He partly recovered from his difficulties, but his health again gave way because of over work.
Those who knew Col. Ely described him as tall, erect, and having a manner marked by dignity, ease, and winning grace. His features were regular and his somewhat prominent brown eyes were tender and friendly. His conversation abounded in wit and illustrative anecdote. He was the idol of his soldiers, family and friends because of the magnetism of his presence, his intelligence and courage. Prof. William Chauncey Fowler of Durham, Conn. who when a child sat on the Colonel’s knee added this to the foregoing characterization, “The witty sayings with which he sparkled, the abounding stories he told, the songs he sang are ‘whelmed in times neglect’.”
Among his friends he numbered Washington, Lafayette and Rochambeau. Mrs. Ely was able to speak in their native tongue to the French officers she entertained. Washington wrote the Colonel affectionate letters acknowledging his “incomparable services.” There was preserved this bid to dinner from General Benedict Arnold, before the latter betrayed his country: “General Arnold’s compliments wait on Col. Ely. He asks the favor of his company to dine with him at his house today at 2 o’clock.”
His name is seen sometimes in DAR/SAR Applications as John Pierce Ely. No other evidence for this seems to exist.
1. The Refugees of 1776 From Long Island to Conn. by Frederic Gregory Mather, 1913, reprint 1972
2. The Ely Ancestry, by Beach and Ely, 1902.
3. A paper by Mrs. M.E.D. Stuart about Col. Ely read at the 1878 Ely reunion contained in The History of the Ely Re-union held at Lyme, Conn., July 10th, 1878, 1879.
4. Colonial Days and Ways by Miss Helen Evertson Smith, 1901.
5. Mayflower Ancestry of Elizabeth Ely Goodrich, compiled by Inglis Stuart, 1932
6. Ancestors and Descendants of Henry Gregory, by Grant Gregory, 1938
7. The Descendants and Antecedents of Dr. Wayne Smith & Elizabeth Bell and Richard Alfred Bury & Elida Maud Morden, by Gregory Bell Smith, 2011.
8. John Ely’s gravestone in the Old Burying Ground, Westbrook, CT.
9. Historical Register of the Officers of the Continental Army, Heitman, 1914
10. Unpublished research by Gregory Bell Smith on the descendants on Col. John Ely.
Biographical information compiled by Gregory Bell Smith.