Tory Pine Tree Robbers

manumuskin

Piney
Jul 20, 2003
8,554
2,466
59
millville nj
www.youtube.com
Has anyone ever heard of the Pine Tree Robbers? While doing my wifes geneaology I came across a story about some Pine barrens bandits fighting for the crown.here is an excer[pt from a much larger story

"This [Monmouth] County was more afflicted by these parties than all the rest of the state combined" (Historical Collections of NJ, Barber, 1845, pages 370-371). The Revolutionary War was for all practical purposes a preview of our Civil War (fought nearly 100 years later) in that it pitted neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, and split families asunder. It was a long and brutal war that caused every type of injustice known to be heaped upon the innocents. Among those guilty of the most heinous of crimes in the annals of New Jersey history was a group known as the Tory Pine Tree Robbers. These men operated from the bogs and pine forests of the New Jersey coast and sallied forth at night to raid, plunder and terrorize its inhabitants.
In October of 1778 they paid a visit to the home of Hanna Little Dennis, daughter of John Little[2], in search of her husband, Capt. Dennis Little, on the pretext of reclaiming bounty captured by Dennis from a British vessel. This then is an abbreviated account of these events as given by their daughter (then 14 years. of age), Mrs. Amelia Dennis Coryell, in 1843. (New Jersey Historical Collection, pp.352,353, cf. Barber, 1845)

"On Monday, Fagan, Burke (Stephen Emmons),and Smith came to our house located south of the Manasquan River about four miles below what was then called the Howell Mills. Fagan was once a near neighbor, Smith a spy who had infilitrated the Robbers, and the other a thief of the worst kind. Smith, on the pretense of helping, bid them stay hidden while he entered the house. He quickly apprised mother of the danger. I hid a purse containing 80 dollars and ran with my little brother John to hide in a nearby swamp. The Robbers entered the house and after ascertaining that father wasn't to be found, and mother wasn't talking, they decided to kill her. They hung her from a cedar tree with a bed cord but was distracted by me. I saw John Holmes coming in my fathers wagon and ran to warn him. They fired at me but the bullet missed and hit the wagon instead. Holmes escaped and mother managed to free herself while the Robbers plundered the wagon, after which they left. The next day father moved us under armed guard to safety. That night Smith was able to get away from the Robbers long enough to warn father that they were going to plunder our house again on the next day (Wednesday) and they devised a signal. When the Robbers showed up they were attacked by father, and his Militia, who laid in wait and fired upon them. The Robbers disappeared but on Saturday the body of Fagan was found buried. On Sunday the location became common knowledge and Fagan was uncovered."
"So incensed were the inhabitants that they disinterred Fagan's remains and enveloped it in tar cloth and chains. The body hung from a chestnut tree on Colt's Neck near Monmouth Court House. Finally the birds picked the flesh from the skeleton and the bones fell to the ground." (New Jersey Archives, Second Series, Vol. II, p.466)
Capt. Dennis continued to pursue the Robbers, particularly Steven Emmons/Burke, whom he found with Stephen West and Ezekiel Williams and killed as well. Others brought up were doomed to be hanged in chains like Fagan. Dennis was promoted to the rank of Major by Governor Livingston and assigned the task of exterminating the remaining Robbers. In July of 1779, Major Benjamin Dennis was shot and killed by Pine Tree Robbers Lewis Fenton and Thomas Emmons/Burke while traveling between his plantation at Coryell Falls and Shrewsbury.
Hanna later married John Lambert, Esq., a member of the Provincial Congress of New Jersey. This John Lambert was the acting Governor of New Jersey (1802-3); was elected to the Ninth and Tenth Congresses (1805-1809); and elected to the US Senate (1809 to 1815) before he died in 1823 (Biographical Directory of the American Congress: 1774-1927, p.1119). Hanna Little Dennis died twelve years later.
Finally these aggravated abuses aroused the passions (of its citizens) to a nearly super-human degree and little by little they succeeded in retaking New Jersey. In the process, they inspired the other colonies to increase their efforts. In 1783 the war ended with independence won.
The post-war years began with reclaiming the land and rebuilding homes, for, regardless of political sentiment, families still needed food and a place to live. The Littles had grist and saw mills, but they were, first and foremost, farmers. It was here that Thomas remained and sold products from the plantation until he moved to Pennsylvania with his parents. The second order of business was the much more daunting task of reuniting families. This was a very brutal war that was fueled in large part by loyalies to the crown. These same fierce loyalties divided families and churches, and it was years before many of their differences were settled.
 

JackWardell

New Member
Dec 1, 2023
8
1
Forked River
Thanks Ben.I had no idea Shrewbury was that big.Eventually I will be tracking down graves and while that just gave me a lot more ground to cover at least I know i have to cover it.
No idea if your still hunting but if you are related to some Woolleys you should try Gravelly Graveyard in Brick Town. Definetly some Woolleys up there, Ive seen the name when I was looking for more Wardells.
 
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manumuskin

Piney
Jul 20, 2003
8,554
2,466
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millville nj
www.youtube.com
I have that graveyard in my gpx file and one person in it. A Faith Cook Falkenburge,. Perhaps she was a Wooley before marriage? They do have quite large families.Heck they had no cable or youtube,what else were they gonna do in the evening?
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
14,193
4,292
Pines; Bamber area
By some estimates, tories/loyalists were almost 1/4 to 1/3 of New Jersey. There is a couple chapters on them in this book I came across somewhere. Great reading. Copyright 1902, by Francis Bazley Lee. This is volume 2.
1702998888376.jpeg
 

manumuskin

Piney
Jul 20, 2003
8,554
2,466
59
millville nj
www.youtube.com
By some estimates, tories/loyalists were almost 1/4 to 1/3 of New Jersey. There is a couple chapters on them in this book I came across somewhere. Great reading. Copyright 1902, by Francis Bazley Lee. This is volume 2.
View attachment 21463
Me and my wife both have a few Tories in our trees.You would think I would have more since half my tree is from the South and the Tories were supposedly a much higher percentage down there since the British weren't showing their true colors down there.Up here the patriots were much stronger because we were getting a much better look at the redcoats.In any case I have only a couple Tories down south I have found.One was a 9th Gr Granbdfather Solomon Sparks.He was an old man of 80 when the revolution kicked off and he was known to run his mouth and make his feelings known.Finally a bunch of patriots tied the old man up and threw him in a canoe and pushed him off into the Yadkin River.Apparently that didn't finish him because the next year He shows up in the tax records again..It may have been his own sons and grandsons since they were patriots to a man.
My wifes mothers side is almost pure Quebecois,Canadian Frenchies.She however did have one fourth gr grandfather who married a Limey whilst working in new brunswick.This woman was descended from a german immigrant to the USA who anglicized his name and then went Tory during the revolution.Upon Losing the war they took everything he owned and told him he could either leave or they had a tree and a rope waiting on him round back.He apparently thought canada looked pretty good about this time and thats how my mother in law got just a wee bit of English and german in her tree which is otherwise all french.
 
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bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
14,193
4,292
Pines; Bamber area
Me and my wife both have a few Tories in our trees.You would think I would have more since half my tree is from the South and the Tories were supposedly a much higher percentage down there since the British weren't showing their true colors down there.Up here the patriots were much stronger because we were getting a much better look at the redcoats.In any case I have only a couple Tories down south I have found.One was a 9th Gr Granbdfather Solomon Sparks.He was an old man of 80 when the revolution kicked off and he was known to run his mouth and make his feelings known.Finally a bunch of patriots tied the old man up and threw him in a canoe and pushed him off into the Yadkin River.Apparently that didn't finish him because the next year He shows up in the tax records again..It may have been his own sons and grandsons since they were patriots to a man.
My wifes mothers side is almost pure Quebecois,Canadian Frenchies.She however did have one fourth gr grandfather who married a Limey whilst working in new brunswick.This woman was descended from a german immigrant to the USA who anglicized his name and then went Tory during the revolution.Upon Losing the war they took everything he owned and told him he could either leave or they had a tree and a rope waiting on him round back.He apparently thought canada looked pretty good about this time and thats how my mother in law got just a wee bit of English and german in her tree which is otherwise all french.
Yes, a lot of the tories split for eastern Canada when the deal went down.
 
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JackWardell

New Member
Dec 1, 2023
8
1
Forked River
Yes my Wife is related to Woolleys.was just working on them yesterday.Their on her Dads side.they were Quakers
Perhaps our Families are related in some way, My ancestors were also Quakers. I know there were a few families we were close with up by the Manasquan River, I have it saved on a flashdrive at home, Ill have to see when I go home in a few days.
 

manumuskin

Piney
Jul 20, 2003
8,554
2,466
59
millville nj
www.youtube.com
Would you be related to this fellow?
Eliakim Wardell Sr



Eliakim Wardell Sr​


1634–1692​



Birth NOVEMBER 23, 1634 • Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, USA

Death 26 MAY 1692 • Burlington County, New Jersey, USA

He is my wifes 9th gr grandfather and his brother samule was hung for practicing withcraft in Massachusettes.Him and his wife confessed the day they were accused but the next day they said it was made under duress.They ended up letting his wife go but hung Samuel.Later on the family successfully sued the state for ruining their reputation and devastating their situation.
 

harlequinhawk

New Member
Aug 31, 2009
28
22
50
By some estimates, tories/loyalists were almost 1/4 to 1/3 of New Jersey. There is a couple chapters on them in this book I came across somewhere. Great reading. Copyright 1902, by Francis Bazley Lee. This is volume 2.
View attachment 21463
Side note this is the fella that stood next to Governor Fielder of New Jersey in 1913 as they hunted for examples of dangerous Pineys in Vincetown. I guess they found enough for the headline in the 1913 Boston Evening Transcript newspaper titled New Jersey's Degenerates. Hanging out with quick-tongued folks like that finds me lacking in any Lee books in my library.
 

JackWardell

New Member
Dec 1, 2023
8
1
Forked River
Would you be related to this fellow?
Eliakim Wardell Sr



Eliakim Wardell Sr​


1634–1692​



Birth NOVEMBER 23, 1634 • Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, USA

Death 26 MAY 1692 • Burlington County, New Jersey, USA

He is my wifes 9th gr grandfather and his brother samule was hung for practicing withcraft in Massachusettes.Him and his wife confessed the day they were accused but the next day they said it was made under duress.They ended up letting his wife go but hung Samuel.Later on the family successfully sued the state for ruining their reputation and devastating their situation.
I am, Though I had no knowledge of his brother being hung for practicing Witchcraft. That is very interesting, I never really knew how to track that sort of thing down, the most I got were stories from my Grandfather and some info from a town history book in the Library. Its very interesting to find someone with far back family connections still around here. As far as I was aware the Wardells from my side all moved out to Ohio around the turn of the century.
 

Trailwalker

Scout
Sep 5, 2023
44
31
(ex-piney) in Florida
I grew up in Howell and my family moved out in1978 for Toms River. I went to school with a couple of Dennis brothers and once recall seeing a list of students from the old Oak Glen School that had more than a few Woolleys. Of course there is Woolley's Fish Market on route 9.
 
Aug 28, 2012
61
18
Jackson, NJ
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