Strange Saga of
1759 - 1831
Contributed by Kathy Gire
1775, George Benn, age 16, was visiting friends in London.
His father, Henry Bartholomew Benn, was an influential landowner in
Nuremberg, Bavaria, and Bennís two half-sisters had married minor German
The family spoke English as well as German, and George was enjoying a
visit with friends in England.
this time, King George III had contracted with the Prince of Hesse to provide
mercenary soldiers to aid the British troops in their fight in the American
These Hessians had been delivered to King George, but the king was
convinced that he had not received full value for his money.
He put out an order that his troops were to seize and impress any
able-bodied English-speaking Germans they could find on the streets of London.
They found George Benn.
found himself not on a ship back to Germany as he had expected but instead on a
troop ship commanded by General John Burgoyne bound for Canada.
The General was under orders to sail down the St. Lawrence River to Lake
Champlain and then sail down
to meet up eventually with General Cornwallis who would be pushing up
from the south.
This would effectively cut the colonies off from their suppliers and bode
well for the British cause.
Burgoyne, called ďGentleman Johnny,Ē
traveled with wagonloads of uniforms, boots and other stylish
He liked to be well-dressed for every occasion, and he took notice of the
young German boy on his ship who spoke good English.
Burgoyne immediately appointed George Benn as his special aide and
task was probably not an easy one, for the General was particular about his
One advantage, however, was that he was usually not in the direct line of
fire from a Continental musket or cannon.
The troops arrived at Stillwater, near the town of Saratoga.
The British were low on supplies and snipers were picking off the officer
corps almost daily.
day, Burgoyne and his remaining officers were meeting in the dining tent with
young George Benn serving them.
An American cannonball crashed through the tent and passed through to the
other side, scattering the men.
Benn must have thought this a sign for action, because the next day, he
understood the need for keeping a low profile,
a characteristic not admired by future genealogists.
He joined the Continental Army,
however, and served with
the Eighth Regiment of the Albany County Militia.
His name can be found on the list of Land Bounty Rights for this
married Anna Ver Planck of Oak Hill, Greene County, and they removed to the
In 1785, they produced John Benn, probably in Rensselaerville, and Henry
Benn in 1787.
George Benn, Jr., was born in 1790 and baptized in the Zion Evangelical
Lutheran Church in Athens.
Peter Benn was born in 1792, Catharine Benn in 1798, followed by Anna and
will of George Benn was written on 21 September 1824 and recorded on 29 March
His wife Anna died in 1814 and no other wife is mentioned.
Bennís possessions were all divided fairly among his four sons and
Benn, Jr., my third great-grandfather, fought in the 13th Regiment of Van
Dalfsen in the New York Militia during the War of 1812.
He next appears as the first appointed Postmaster for the town of
Hallís Mills, later Medusa, New York, in 1830.
He held this post for sixteen years.
He married Catharina Kline, daughter of Henry Kline (Cline), another
Albany County patriot.
Their daughter Catharine Ann married David Lincoln, son of Levi Lincoln
David died young,
leaving Catharine. with two small daughters.
She later married Davidís youngest brother, Leonard, in Minnesota, and
they removed to Marshalltown, Iowa, where they had two children together and
remained until their deaths.
Benn married Mary Elizabeth Alberty in Gaines Township, Pennsylvania, and Anna
Benn married William Head and became matriarch of a substantial
Benn, Jr, can be found in the 1840 census in Rensselaerville with his family and
his father-in-law, Henry Cline, who died later that year.
By 1850, the Benns
had moved to Saugerties in Ulster County.
George Jr. died in March of 1860.
branch of the family has come eight generations from this man who turned what
fate dealt him into a productive and satisfying life.
What a different life George Benn would have had except for a chance
meeting with the henchmen of King George III,
and the American Colonies would have had one fewer brave Patriot.
Gire is a free lance travel writer who lives in Granite Bay, California, and has
been doing genealogy for five years.
She wishes she had listened more to her grandparents.
She is seeking a burial site for David Lincoln of Rensselaerville, b.1816
and died 1839; and the burial sites of Anna Ver Planck Benn, b. 1764, d. 1814,
and George Benn, Sr., b. 1759, d. 1831.
Thanks to Porter Wright for sharing information.
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