Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Claudius Smith (1736 – January 22, 1779), the notorious Cowboy Terrorist of the American Revolution was the oldest son of David Smith (1701–1787) – a tailor, cattleman, miller, constable, and finally judge – from Brookhaven, New York and Meriam (Williams) Carle from Hempstead, New York the daughter of Samuel Williams.
He, along with several members of his family – including three of his four sons: William, Richard, and James – allegedly terrorized the New York countryside during the American Revolution around an area formerly known as Smith's Clove (presently Monroe), Orange County, New York where David Smith and his family moved to in and around 1741 from Brookhaven.
It is obvious from all accounts, though, that Claudius was a Loyalist and fought in raids alongside the Mohawk Indian Chief, Joseph Brandt, which more often than not got him labeled a terrorist, as opposed to a legitimate enemy combatant.
He, surprisingly killed no-one, and was often thought of as being a Robin Hood; but when one of his party did kill a one Maj Nathaniel Strong October 6, 1778, the Governor George Clinton became perturbed and put out a "serious" wanted poster for his arrest, which eventually did occur and resulted in his hanging on January 22, 1779 in the town of Goshen, Orange County, New York, and in the deaths of at least two of his sons: William and James – the latter being captured in February of 1779 by a one Abner Thorpe, according to: Erastus C. Knight's New York in the Revolution (1901, Supp.), p. 165 [the Accounts of Governor Clinton].
Richard remained at large at least through 1781, when we see him on a letter addressed to Governor Clinton from Gen George Washington warning him of his eminent kidnapping by the remaining members of the Claudius Smith Gang.
He is the subject of Elizabeth Oakes Smith 's article, concerning the oldest surviving son who sought vengence upon the people of Orange County after the hanging death of his father, Claudius.
It is entirely within the realm of possibility that George Washington, upon discovering that Claudius was in fact a mere Robin Hood and not the real hoodlum of Orange County, decided to have vengence on the behalf of Claudius' survivors who he had been living with & among several months after the execution of Claudius – the only problem here was that Washington was dealing with some extremely high profile individuals: The Chief Justice William Smith, Major John André, General Benedict Arnold, and even Governor George Clinton himself who seems to have taken General Washington to be somewhat of an extremist.
But, for reasons unknown, it was actually Benedict Arnold who ordered Joshua Hett Smith , the Chief Justice's brother, to force Major André to go under guise in an American military costume as opposed to returning to the ship he came in on "under the sanction of a flag ".
And it was for this reason; and not any action that Washington took to arrest and detain Arnold, Chief Justice Smith, Joshua Hett Smith, and André; that André was captured and convicted on the charges of being a spy, although it may appear as though Washington had something to do with it, especially since the person André was handed over to – a one Major Talmadge – seemed to be aware well in advance that André quite probably had something of importance hidden in his shoes. [Cf. Thomas Jones History of New York During the Revolutionary War (1879) vol 1, pp. 370–388].
It was Arnold, holding true to his treasonary self, who set André up and betrayed him and who SHOULD have hanged on that day and not André or Claudius; a fact that has been iterated and reiterated time and again by those who recount the stories surrounding Joshua Hett Smith, Benedict Arnold, Chief Joseph Brandt, Claudius Smith, and Major André.
Arnold, upon seeing Washington landing, appeared to have made a legitimate escape, but he did so only under the very same "sanction of a flag" that André had originally used and on the very same boat that he had taken André in earlier.
Most loyalists felt then, as they probably still do now, that in fact Joshua Hett Smith – who was already well known to be a "former" pursecutor of loyalists – was the person who truly betrayed André; but as above, it was ARNOLD who gave the peculiar orders for Smith to force André to go under guise as opposed to returning to the ship under the same circumstances that he had left – "under the sanction of a flag."
As Thomas Jones (1730-1792) states in his History of New York, supra, if Arnold had sent André off safely "under a flag", then why would he have supposed that it wouldn't have been safe to bring him back under the same circumstances?
He DIDN'T suppose that; and THAT is why he went back in that manner HIMSELF when he saw Washington making his landing.
--WB2 06:27, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)WB2
- George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741–1799, Series 3c Varick Transcripts George Washington to George Clinton, August 10, 1781 (search for "Claudius Smith").
- Samuel W. Eager An Outline History of Orange County (1846–7) pp. 525–528, and 550–565.
- Lost Treasures USA Both Eager and this website coaborate the fact of Claudius hiding treasures in the hills of the Ramapo Valley
- Daniel Allen Hearn Legal Executions in New York State: A Comprehensive Reference, 1639-1963 (1997) [concerning the execution of Claudius Smith]
- The 1778 Wanted Poster for Claudius Smith
- Elizabeth Oakes (Prince) Smith Beadle's Dime Novels, No. 127 (7/02/1867) pp. 9–14 ["Bald Eagle; or, The Last of the Ramapaughs"]
- Benjamin F. Thompson History of Long Island (1839, 1918 Edition) vol. II, pp. 344–345
- 3rd Annual Report of the State Historian of New York (1897, Appendix "M") p. 712 [Capt Clinton's Muster Roll, Ulster County, 1762]
- Benjamin D. Hicks Records of the Towns of North and South Hempstead, Long Island, NY (1898, vol 3) pp. 179–181 [the January 20, 1728 Quitclaim of David Smith, Tailor]
- New York Genealogical and Biographical Record (1881, vol 12) p. 79 [the marriage of David Smith and Miriam Carle, March 25, 1735]
- Berthold Fernow Calendar of Wills, New York City, 1626–1836 (1896) p. 61, Will No. 260 [The Will of John Carle, 1733: mentions the sons of his diseased son, Jacob, and his wife Miriam]
- New York Genealogical and Biographical Record (1880, vol 11) p. 133 [the marriage of Jacob Carle and Meriam Williams, March 10, 1726]
- New York Genealogical and Biographical Record (1923, vol 54) p. 43 [Miriam Williams born: 12/17/1705 to: Samuel Williams]
- Benjamin D. Hicks Records of the Towns of North and South Hempstead, Long Island, NY (1902, vol 6) p. 159 [Record for the Earmark of Samuel Smith, 1767], p. 168 [Record for the Earmark of James Smith, 1773 – both Samuel and James are listed as "of David"]
- Edward Manning Ruttenber and L. H. Clark History of Orange County, New York (1881) p. 69 [Persons Refusing to Sign the 1775 Pledge of Association (cf. Samuel, Hophni, James, and David)], pp. 71–73 [The Story of Claudius Smith]
- Orange County Genealogical Society Early Orange County Wills (1991) vol II, p. 1 [Abstract of the Will of David Smith (1701–1787) of Smith's Clove, and the Will itself at: Liber A, page 5]
- William Nelson Archives of the State of New Jersey (Documents Relating to the Colonial History of New Jersey) (1894, vol XI) p. 84 [September 20, 1724 advertisement in the American Weekly Mercury relating the escape of the servants: Clodius Smith, aged about 35, and Joseph Wells, aged about 22, from a one Abraham Porter of Porters Field, Glouster, NJ]
- William Nelson Documents Relating to the Colonial History of New Jersey (1901, vol XXIII) p. 370 [December 17, 1729 – the Will of Abraham Porter of Portersfield, Gloucester County, New Jersey (Lib. 3, p. 34), proved March 24, 1730]
- Daniel Niles Freeland Chronicles of Monroe in the Olden Times (1898) p. 52 [states that Joshua Hett Smith's brother was "supposed to have been the father, Claudius Smith, the famous Cowboy"], pp. 56–61 [Freeland's Story of Claudius Smith]
- But in: Chris Tami New York City Wills, 1754–60 (1998, vol 5) p. 470, it states ...
- "NOTE: The residence of Abraham Lynsen is now No.___ Wall Street. Thomas Smith, who married his daughter Elizabeth, was the brother of William Smith, the Historian. He was the owner of the famous 'Treason House' at Haverstraw, where Benedict Arnold and Major André held their conferences. It was then occupied by his brother, Joshua Hett Smith, the unfortunate dupe of Arnold and André. – W.S.P."
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