In Their Own Words:
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The Phelps Family of America

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Maj. Gen. Noah Phelps

[pg. 204]

Maj. Gen. Noah Phelps, b. in Simsbury, Ct., 22 Jan., 1740, m. 10 June, 1761, Lydia Griswold, (daughter of Edward and Abigail (Gaylord) Griswold), b. Windsor, Ct. 25 April., 1743, d. Simsbury, 17 Sept., 1821, in her 79th year, (and of Daniel3, George2, Edward1 Griswold in Windsor, 1639).

General Phelps settled in Simsbury, Ct., where he was an active and influential man. He was a Justice of the Peace, Judge of Probate for twenty years, and was a Delegate to the Convention of 1787 to ratify the Federal Constitution. Early in the breaking out of the Revolutionary War he was chosen one of a committee to consider the advisability of taking Fort Ticonderoga, then occupied by the British, and in which there was stored a large amount of heavy artillery and other war implements. Capt. Phelps, Barnard Romance, Ephraim Buell, and Capt. Edward Mott, with others composed this committee, Capt. Mott acting as chairman. £300 was raised from the Public Treasury though guaranteed by several patriotic-gentlemen. This fund was placed in the hands of Capt. Phelps and Barnard Romance, with the request that they should go north and press forward this project. This resulted in the great and bloodless victory -- the taking of Fort Ticonderoga. It may be interesting to his descendants to know the part Capt. Phelps was sent our to reconnoiter. He stopped over night at a farm house some little distance from the fort. Some British soldiers occupied rooms adjoining Capt. Phelps, where they were having a dinner party. Capt. Phelps heard them discuss the condition of the fort, and the position taken by the rebels, as they styled the people. Early the next morning Capt. Phelps visited the fort and gained admittance through the plea of wanting to be shaved.

While returning through the fort, the commander accompanied him talking with him about the rebels, their object and movements.

Capt. Phelps seeing a portion of the wall in a dilapidated condition, remarked that it would afford a feeble defense against the rebels, if they should attack in that quarter. The commander replied, "Yes, but that is not our greatest misfortune. All our powder is damaged and before we can use it, we are obliged to dry and sift it."

Capt. Phelps soon after left the fort, employing a boatman to take him down the lake in a small boat. He entered the boat in full view and under the guns of the fort. He requested the boatman to exert himself and terminate the journey as soon as possible. The boatman then requested him to take an oar and assist. This the Capt. declined to do, being in full sight of the fort, by saying he was no boatman. After rounding a point that intercepted a view from the fort, the Capt. proposed taking an oar, which he did and being a strong active man as well as a good oarsman, he excited the suspicion of the oarsman by his efficient work, who remarked with an oath, "You have seen an oar before now, sir." This excited the suspicion of the boatman at the time, that he was not a good and loyal citizen, but fear of superior strength prevented an attempt to carry him back to the fort. This he confessed to Capt. Phelps after the surrender of the fort. Capt. Phelps returned safely to his command, reported the information he had gained and his observations, resulting in the great and glorious victory before referred to.

About this time Mr. Phelps raised a company mostly at his own expense, and was appointed Captain. He served under Col. Ward, was at Fort Lee, joined Washington's army, and was at the battles of Trenton and Princeton. Later he acted as commissary, and after the war was chosen Maj. Gen. of Militia. He died in Simsbury, 4 Nov., 1809, honored and respected. On his tombstone is inscribed: "A Patriot of 1776. To such we are indebted for our Independence."

Children b. Simsbury, Ct.:

  1. Noah Amherst, b. May, 1762
    m. Charlotte Wilcox
  2. Lydia Griswold, b. 25 Feb., 1764
    m. Col. John Humphrey
  3. Chandler Conway, b. 22 Oct., 1766
    m. Clarissa Bodwell, 2nd Statira Doolittle
  4. George R., B. 18 Aug., 1773
    m. Charlotte Griswold
  5. Elisha, b. 16 Nov., 1779
    [builder of the Simsbury 1820 House]
    m. Lucy Smith
  6. A son, b. 18 Nov., 1783, d. at birth
Noah Phelps Papers
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