Morrison's Pensions


Pension Application for Marinus Willet

W.1525
Margaret, widow
B.L. Wt.2362-500-Lt.Col.Comd.
Issued July 30, 1790
No Papers.
            The Pension was issued to the widow of Marinus Willet who served in the Revolutionary War, NY, as a Lt. Colonel.  Inscribed on the Roll at the rate of 600 Dollars 00 cents per annum to commence on the 3d February, 1853.  Certificate of Pension issued the 8th day of November 1853 and sent to E. M. Willett 67 Wall Street, New York City.  Willett married Jan 1800 Margaret, he died Aug 23, 1830 and son was allowed pension on an ap. ex. Nov 1, 1853 while a resident of NY City aged 78 years.
            Son E. M. Willett, Marinus resident of NY City in 1853.  No per. Family data ony M. W. found on the Rev. War records of this bureau.

United States of America
City, and State of New York SS.

            Marinus Willett of the City and County of New York in the State of New York, being duly sworn doth depose and say that he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the Third New York Regiment in the Army of the United States on the 21st day of November 1776, and that he continued in that command until the 22nd day of December 1779: When he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel commandant of the Fifth New York Regiment in which command he continued until the 1st day of January 1781, when the form took place which reduced the five New York Regiments to two. (Signed) Marinus Willett
            Sworn the 9th day of June 1829 before me, Evert A. Bancker Commissioner.  

View his file

Col. Marinus Willett’s Regiment of Levies
In The Mohawk Valley in 1782 -- From the Pliny Moore Papers

            The surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in October 1781 and the victory at about the same time at the Battle of Johnstown had supposedly ended the war, but the frontier of New York was still subject to Tory and Indian Raids.
            Col. Marinus Willet was placed in command of protecting the settlers along the frontier and lived for a time in what is now called Fort Plain.  He seems to have had the trust of the men who fought under him and the trust of the community.  Willett was an able commander who was protective of his men and didn’t simply give orders but led his men in the field.
            Pliny Moore was a lieutenant in Capt. Job Wright’s company, Col. Willett’s Levies.  During the first three months of 1782 he was engaged in recruiting for the Levies, but on March 22nd he was ordered to “repair to Spencertown and forward on the Three Years Men from that Quarter to Ballston with all possible dispatch that they may Join the Corps to which they belong which are now ordered to Rendezvous at that Post.”  Capt. Wright’s company remained at Ballston until July 24th, although the inhabitants petitioned Col. Willett that it might remain for their protection.  Moor was stationed at various posts in the Mohawk Valley, mostly at Fort Rensselaer (now Fort Plain) until the disbanding of the army in November 1783.
            The following letter is addressed to Lieut. Pliny Moore at Stone Arabia.  It shows finding unappropriated land to locate on is very important to the soldiers.  Officers and men in the Levies had chose Moore to locate their Land Bounty Rights.

Spencertown 11 August 1782
Dear Son,
            I received a line from you, wrote in haste in which you inform me of your unexpected order for the Mohawk River and since that I have heard that you marched the next Monday.  I was a little disappointed myself as that route carries you a much greater distance and your private business not completed however private must give way to public.
            I find that you were Douglass.  You may depend upon it there is no patent on the lands north of Bill Power’s part of Elisha Pratts, the lines run 24 miles from the North River (Hudson) below Noble Town east of Sheffield, thence north 28 degrees west to the northeast corner of Kinderhook, that is their extent.  Let them say what they will, we know as well as they do, for Colver and Savage were at New York in all the trials of Peter VanSchaak and Harry, that we are not deceived and that there is no patent on the lands above until you come to Renselaer’s great patent north of New Lebanon except the Van Schaaks and you might was well have laid on your location here and made them stick as they have in other places, and I am very sorry you did not for I find that people in general were very  much afraid you would and if the Legislature does nothing this setting to prevent it, some persons will try it, I don’t doubt.  But we are very often one day too late, it is our luck.
            Mr. Dean hath returned and tells me he did not go to see Col. Parmer and knows no more than before.
            As to our particular affairs in the family, we are middling healthy all except myself I am more unwell this summer than I have been, can do but little business, have by exertion got through mowing and harvest better than I expected.  Have secured all my hay and grain except a few oats that are not ripe.
            Have been obliged to pay out about ten or twelve dollars which with five dollars for you and Shadrak crowds me very hard money if it can be is twice as scarce now as it was when you left home, and our traders are so reduced that there is a very great scarcity of salt and rum.  Even Mr. Scott with all his connections and cast cannot keep rum and yet flour fetches five dollars and a half per hundred in Boston and rum but a little higher than last year and salt as low but they cannot get money to bare the expenses of transport.
            I was lucky enough to get 2 barrels rum of conyn but at a high rate.  Rum at a dollar and flour at 18 and fetch from Nobeltown.  But I cannot do business, my health will not admit.  I had some dependence on you when I engaged however I hope your business will wear a better face by and by.  Hope keeps us up.  We live by the indulgence of kind heaven.  God is the fountain of all our streams.  Let us get nearer the fountain when we find the streams fail and make sure of a better good than this work can afford.
            I know not what station you are.  I suppose likely in more danger than at Ballstown, however that ought not to trouble you, be always prepared to meet danger and encounter trouble, that you ought to expect but God is able to deliver you in six troubles and in seven therefore don’t’ forget your dependence on him and obligations to him this habit of whoring, drinking and gaming is too much practiced.  Do be careful to shun such companions as much as possible.
            Out family are uneasy where they shall go next spring.  I don’t find a place as yet, that place of Smith’s is sold to Dr. Curtis.  I had the refusal and could have had it but did not think best.  Understand that place at Stillwater is to be sold by some person and that it will go high. I intend to go up and see in a few days if my health will admit.
            If you can conveniently come home I should be glad a few days, however don’t expect it.
            And as I have circumscribed myself by paper I subscribe myself.
            Affectionately your, Noadiah Moor.

Letter from Noadiah Moore to his son, Lieut. Pliny Moore
1st October 1782 Kings District
Dear Son,
            Having an opportunity by Mr. Weeds son to send as far as Schenectady to be delivered to some person the most likely to send it on to you, I take this chance for chance it is if it ever reaches you for I know not where to direct only up the Mohawk River, etc.
            Mr. Dean returned and tells me that he was very lucky in doing his business and with the Indians who were all present and about to go out for a hunt Col. Lewey (Lieut. Col. Louis or Atyatoghharongivia, a  chief warrior) with the rest etc.  But very fortunate in the affair of locating the legislator have granted the protection of the officers and soldier in the line of our State Troops all of that tract of country we talked of and Mr. Schuyler says likewise that he must see all the warrants of which Mr. Dean was destitute before he could receive one certificate to enter on the book, therefore lays all by until you return or furnish him otherwise with advice and tools.
            As to our own private affairs I received no letter from you whether you liked or disliked that farm you went to look at.  Capt. Ketchom and I went up that day to see Mr. Gaige and he says he will sell the one half of that landing place but Capt. Ketchom had rather it seems go up higher.  Waits your return or information by letter.
            There is no farther accounts about the war or peace some say some way and another nothing certain.
            John Savage that returned from Canada and brings the same account about the Indians scouts being called in and Sir John hath returned from England and is superintendent over all Indian affairs.  Went directly up to Niagara and Detroit on some very urgent business not commonly known.
            Sold and run rest I bought ten gallons of as good rum as you had of Drake and gave eleven shillings lawful pr gallon much better than Crosmans all odds in smell and proof.
            I would have you write me if any opportunity presents; and look and inquire up and down as you have opportunity to find us a resting place.  Not forgetting our eternal rest.
            Our family are all in health except myself and I am in hopes I am on the mending hand about my hoarseness the doctor hath prepared me a medicine price six shillings which is very sovereign.  Hope it may God’s blessing attending carry of the disorder.
            Your soldier Hambleton is well, works and gets money and then spends it and lets the child live at vinegars without much of his assistance you had better send for him perhaps.
From your most affectionate, Noadiah Moor

Lieutenant Pliny Moore was appointed Adjutant of Col. Willett’s Regular Levies on November 7, 1782, succeeding Lieut. Jelles A. Fonda, who was promoted to a captaincy.
            In the following letter Captain Fonda requests Moore to send him a copy of the regimental order concerning his promotion.

Letter from Pliny Moore to his father, Nodiah Moore
Fort Rensselaer Novr 27th 1782
Dear Father,
            Your favor of the 1st instant I received by Sergeant Rowley together with a pair mittens; am happy to hear you are recovered from sickness and hoarseness the latter of which I expected would be the consequence of the former hope these may find recovered from your cough and the rest of our family in health, all of whom, I hope to have the pleasure of seeing in about three weeks if nothing prevents.
            Respecting private affairs I wish you had been able to give me a more favorable account.  Our debts not being paid and having as yet found no place or determined upon nothing are discouraging circumstances but I have no idea of their being fatal ones as long as we have good debts enough to answer double what we owe.
            I have been these some days preparing to go to Fort Herkimer to view a couple of farms to be sold a little this side of there; shall go in a day or two if the weather permits and will let you know, hope you will not omit looking on that account.
            Our three warrants with certificates I send by Shadrack which please to deliver to Mr. Dean and take his rec’t for them.  I expect to bring some more when I come home if Mr. Dean thinks it prudent to wait so long thought I believe delasy in that case may be attended with disadvantage.
            I have swapped my watch for a tolerable likely colt which I intend to ride home, if you have a safe opportunity to send my saddle and a bridle should be glad.
            I expect to receive about three pounds from Stillwater in a few days which if I do not get shall want money enough to carry me home.
            I much want a light color or white jacket and breeches that may serve as a regimental such as Jones had would do though I could wish for broad cloth or corduroy, if you can get them against I come I should be thankful.
            Enclose you a note against Richard Vaughn of Nobletown all of which except a few shillings to Lieut. Hubble.  It is mine wish you to write to him and come and pay it to you.
            Please to send by Shadrack my blue jacket and breeches and my Mamma will send my clouded worsted stockings which with what I have I hope will serve me.  My summer clothes I send, 2 pr breeches, 2 jackets and 2 pr stockings.
            My compliments to friends and neighbors particularly to Mr. Dean to whom I should have wrote but had no particular business and he is now one letter in my debt, could wish to hear if he has fixed upon a place where he intends to locate or (letter ends here, not completed).
Source:  Microfilm Reel 78, Revolutionary War Rolls 1775-1783, National Archives, Washington, D. C.


Colonel Marinus Willett

            Did you ever notice Willett Street in Fort Plain and wonder where the name originated?
            Colonel Marinus Willet was an able and well liked leader in the Revolutionary War. When commanding his troops, he made skilful decisions and his loyal troops followed him willingly. He was offered a promotion but declined because he liked to serve in close proximity with his men.  Following is a short biographical sketch of Colonel Willett.
            Marinus Willet, 1740––1830, American Revolutionary soldier, b. Jamaica, N.Y. In the French and Indian War he was (1758) a member of the expeditions against Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Frontenac. He was a leader of the Sons of Liberty in New York and after the outbreak of the American Revolution, served under Richard Montgomery in the invasion of Canada. He won (1777) a victory over the British under Barry St. Leger while second in command at Fort Stanwix (Fort Schuyler), joined George Washington's army in New Jersey in 1778, and participated (1779) in the Sullivan/Clinton expedition against the Iroquois. From 1780 until the end of the war he commanded New York troops in the Mohawk Valley, and there his scouts managed to kill Walter Butler after a skirmish with Loyalists. After the war he negotiated (1790) a treaty with the Creeks of Georgia. Later Willett held several local offices in New York City, where he served (1807–8) as Mayor.
            He died in New York City at "Cedar Grove " (as his residence in Broome street was called), full of years and honors, Sunday evening, Aug. 23d, 1830, in the 91st year of his age.
            There is a big story under the part "From 1780 until the end of the war he commanded New York troops in the Mohawk Valley", and it happened in Fort Plain. Here is the story from The Frontiersmen of New York by Jeptha R. Simms, written in 1883.
Henry Seeber, a son of the pioneer tradesman, William Seeber, by his second marriage, is believed to have married Elizabeth, a daughter of John Lough, by whom he had two children, Jacob and Polly, who both grew up to be respected citizens; the latter a fine looking girl, became the wife of Abram Lipe. Henry Seeber, who seems to have been an exception to the name of Seeber in this respect, became dissipated (alcoholic) early in life, and like most of that class of men forfeited the respect of all good citizens; and although he had an education fitting him for a school teacher, he was troubled with a fever sore, was dissolute and improvident in his habits, all of which united led to an estrangement of the respect and affection of his wife, who was a proud and beautiful woman.
            At this stage in the affairs of this family, Col. Willett took command of Fort Plain, with an oversight of its adjacent military posts. The hero of Fort Stanwix was not long in discovering the charms of this woman, whose children were then small, and he not only made her acquaintance, but before long was on most intimate terms with her, despite the busy tongues of scandal; and in process of time, she presented her admiring hero with a young son who was named Marinus Willett Seeber. Whether or not this Henry Seeber house was "divided against itself" before the coming of the commandant of this frontier post I cannot say, but they were estranged ever after this event; and her son Jacob was taken by his Uncle Conrad and reared to an honorable manhood. He also cared tenderly for Henry, an only son of his brother Audolph, who, then a widower was slain in the Oriskany Battle.
            This military waif was tenderly looked after by Col. Willett, who showed his manhood by placing him at school and defraying the expenses of his care and education until he arrived at manhood. When grown he returned to Minden, and is remembered as a remarkably fine looking young man, and possessed of more than an ordinary intelligence. After his return to the Mohawk Valley, he for a time taught a dancing school in Freysbush, and was known as Willett Seeber; but as his half brother and sister and other relatives did not recognize his kinship as he thought they should, he left the neighborhood.

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