David M. Griffin’s Chronicles of the British Occupation of Long Island (The History Press, 2023) probes and explains much of this esoteric history of Revolutionary War-era Long Island, including examples of socio-economic hardship the War imposed on Long Islanders.
Among the stories told here is that of Revolutionary Militia Captain Solomon Davis of Miller Place, who, in the midst of the British Army’s 1776 advance from the city of New York to Eastern Long Island, swiftly buried £500 sterling under a large rock in his backyard, secretly hiding a big chunk of his personal wealth from the British.
Davis died during the War for Independence and his fortune went undiscovered for nearly a century until a later landowner, Horace Hudson, recovered Davis’ missing treasure for his own.
Griffin also tells the tragic tale of Goldsmith Davis, a Private in the Continental Line from Coram, just a few miles south of Miller Place, in the town of Brookhaven. Davis hid his family (and presumably much of his money) in a local wooded area as British troops came near his home, pilfering from the houses of fellow revolutionaries in his community.
Staying behind to protect his property, the British discovered him and tied him to the rafters of his attic before bayoneting him. Davis was subsequently rescued by his family and survived his grave wounds, dying in 1826, aged 69.
Another story Griffin relates is that of Private Robert Silby, of the Seventeenth British Light Dragoons. Private Silby was slain while allegedly robbing a Yankee home, in October of 1780.
To set an example, Silby’s British superiors hanged him in a gibbet in public as a warning. In 1935, a five-year old Hempstead boy discovered skeletal remains of a skull encased in the gibbet. Nassau County forensic scientists were unable in 1935 to determine the cadaver’s proper identity, but Griffin believes he has identified them as Robert Silby.
Book purchases made through this link support New York Almanack’s mission to report new publications relevant to New York State.
See more new books HERE.