1758 - 1818
Capture of Major John Andre
John Paulding, a self-sufficient farmer and
a militiaman from the state of New York during the American
Revolution, was born on October 16, 1758 in New York City.
He participated, along with fellow militiamen
David Williams and Isaac VanWart, in the capture of Major
John Andre at a site now called Patriots Park in Tarrytown,
New York. Holding him in custody, they discovered documents
of André's secret communication with Benedict Arnold.
The militiamen, all local farmers of modest means, refused
his considerable bribe and instead delivered him to the
Continental Army. Arnold's plans to surrender West Point
to the British were revealed and foiled, and André
was hanged as a spy.
Paulding married three times in his life
and was the father of nineteen children. Paulding's descendants
are numerous but perhaps the best-known is his son Hiram
Paulding (1797- 1878), who served in the War of 1812 and
fought in the Battle of Lake Champlain. He became a Rear
Admiral in the United States Navy and retired only after
the end of the American Civil War.
Upon George Washington's personal recommendation,
the United States Congress awarded Paulding, Williams, and
Van Wart the first military decoration of the United States,
the silver medal known as the Fidelity Medallion. Each of
the three also received federal pensions of $200 a year,
and prestigious farms granted by New York State. Streets
named after Paulding will be found in Tarrytown, Cold Spring,
Elmsford, Peekskill and White Plains, all in New York State.
Paulding's name is memorialized. Additionally Paulding County
in Ohio and Georgia memorialize Paulding's name.
John Paulding died on February 18, 1818,
at the age of 59 years, 4 months and 2 days, at Staatsburg,
Dutchess County, New York of natural causes. He is buried
in the Old St. Peter's Church cemetery in Van Cortlandville,
Cortlandt Manor, NY. The grave is marked by a large marble
monument with the epitaph: "FIDELITY - On the morning
of the 23rd of September 1780, accompanied by two young
farmers of the county of West Chester, he intercepted the
British spy, André. Poor himself, he disdained to
acquire wealth by the sacrifice of his country. Rejecting
the temptation of great rewards, he conveyed his prisoner
to the American camp and, by this noble act of self-denial,
the treason of Arnold was detected; the designs of the enemy
baffled; West Point and the American Army saved; and these
United States, now by the grace of God Free and Independent,
rescued from most imminent peril."
NOTE: Death notice for Paulding was published
in The Troy Post on March 10, 1818.