Declaration of Phebe Willis Kitchel
Morris Co. Up


I hope everyone has been finding these interesting. Phebe Wilson Kitchel's is the final Declaration. I will post some notes and facts that I have been able to find about some of the engagements in a following e-mail. Phebe's image has been tarnished due to a story in "The History of the Willis Family", which follows :

"Aaron Kitchell had one unfortunate episode in his life. Some time after the death of his first wife he contemplated a second marriage and rode forth to call on a lady he knew to ask her to marry him. There was a siren lurking in his path, in form an attractive widow, who had already been three times married and had two children by her first husband, her last venture having been with William Willis, a brother of our great-grandfather Russel Willis. Her maiden name was Wilson.

Well, this attractive widow suspected the errand of our cavalier ancestor, and as he was passing her house she intercepted him and invited him in. He, of course, could do no less than accept, and the dashing widow, having had much experience, Mr. Kitchell proposed and was at once accepted on this his first visit.

"Marry in haste and repent at leisure" proved but too true in this instance, as the gay widow turned out to be a shrew with a terrible temper and he could not live with her. She was also a schemer, and when her husband died carried away for her two children and herself everything she conveniently could. About the only article of silverware that escaped her notice was a pair of sugar-tongs, now a treasured possession of Miss Frances C. Willis, his great-great- granddaughter".

The chronology is skewed; William was her first husband, followed by Ebenezer Howard and Barnabas Winds. How could Miss Willis be Aaron's g-g-gd ? Either age mellowed her, or the story is apocryphal. Her own Declaration shows her to be a bit different:

Declaration of Phebe Willis Kitchel aged 85 3rd July 1838

I am now the widow of Aaron Kitchel esq. & when married to said Aaron Kitchel, I was the widow of Barnabas Winds, to whom I was married by Rev. James Richards on the 6th July, 1803. I was, when married  to Barnabas Winds, the widow of Ebenezer Howard, to whom I was married by the same Rev. James Ricker on the 7th December, 1796. And when I married Ebenezer Howard, I was the widow of William Willis, my first husband, to whom I was married by Lemuel Bowers esq., a Justice of the peace, before the war of the revolution began & according to the best of my rememberance, it was just about the time when the Tea was thrown over board in the  Boston harbor. I was married in the month of March, to the best of my recollection & belief & I was 20 years old on the 28th May following. I was 85 years old on the 28th May last. The precise day of the month & the particular number of the year I cannot now remember & I have no family now. The family bible which I had & was the property of William Willis, my first husband, & contained a record of our marriage & the births of our children, kept by said Willis, was destroyed about the year 1794 or 1795, by a flood which swept away our dwelling house & all our furniture. I was then a widow, living at Boonton, in Hanover, Morris County, near the banks of the Rockaway river. A very severe rain falling suddenly swelled the stream which broke the dam of the Iron works above & the water from the dam rushed in a torrent upon my little habitation, & washing away my furniture & house & has never been found. I was married at the house of James Anderson in Boonton & I do not know a single individual now living who was present at the marriage, except Joseph Willis, the brother of my husband, who, if living, is supposed to reside in Berkshire, Massachusets, of which state I believe my husband, Wm. Willis, was a native. I had two daughters, Hannah and Betsey, born before the war began, and one son (Joseph) & one daughter, Sally, born in time of the war. Sally, the youngest of the 4 is 56,& Betsey, the eldest by birth of all my children if now living, would be  62 years old, or 63, I cannot tell which with certainty. I had 3 others, born after peace, viz. John, James & Weltsey.

My claim for a pension from the U. States is grounded upon the Militia service of my first husband, William Willis, in the war of the revolution, which was rendered by him as I verily believe, in every year of said war, from beginning to its' close. I cannot specify nor particulain his services, the times when, places where, nor all the names of his officers under whom he served. I know he was much from home in the service, that I have often furnished him with a knapsack of provisions for his journey, & seen him march off with his musket on his shoulder after taking leave of his family, leaving me with the care & charge of our children, & of his out door actions whilst he was defending his Country, hazarding his life for her freedom. I have often heard him speak of the skirmishes & battles of Springfield, Monmouth, Connecticut farms, Acquackanonck, Short hills, Ash Swamp, & etc. I have often heard him speak of his Militia services under General Winds, Colonel Ford, Colonel Seely, Colonel Hathaway, Captain Ward, Captain Allen, & others, under whom, as his commanding officers, I believe, he performed Militia duties in defense of the United States in the revolutionary war. I do not know that he ever received any commission, or written discharge, or other documentory evidence of his services. For the details & particulars of his services, I must refer the Commissioners of pensions to such few of his comrades & associates as may yet survive & whose testimony I may yet be able obtain. Most of them, I believe, are dead. Robert Young I have seen & talked with the other day. He was well known to my husband & was well acquainted with me before our marriage & was frequently with William Willis on Military duty in time of the war. James Kitchel was also well acquainted with him, and was sometimes with him performing Military duty. To their testimony & such others as I hope to obtain, I would respectfully refer the Commissioner of pensions.

I have stated that my marriage to William Willis was in March, but on further reflection, I think it was in April.

I was born in Newark, Essex County, N. Jersey, & moved to Hanover in Morris Co. when a girl, about the time when Col. Sam'l Ogden built Boonton Slitting Mill & works, some 6 or 8 years before the war began, & was married as at first stated to William Willis when in my 20th year. He died in the year 1793. Aaron Kitchel esq., my last husband, lived in Hanover when he married me. We were married by the Rev. Samuel L. Phelps, Minister of the Gospel in Parsippany, Morris Co. on the 29th June, 1809.Said Aaron Kitchel died at his residence in Hanover, which is now my home, July 1820, according to the best of my recollection & belief & I have remained his widow till the present time.

Lewis Condict, on July 20, 1838, described Phebe as "very poor & anxious for such relief as the justice of the case may be found to remit". Phebe's pension was for the amount of $37 per annum ,and commenced retroactive to March 4, 1831. She received $407, issued 25 Sept. 1841. In 1841, she resided in Morristown. She apparently died Dec. 23, 1841. Some sources say she was living in Newark. Her parents are a complete mystery to me. Anyone have any ideas? Take care, Kevin


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