Friday, August 30, 2013

Allen line: Richard Falley, Jr. One of our good guys!

I hope I can convey to you why I have so much respect for this man. Undoubtedly he was not perfect, but from what we can see, he was a hard-working soldier and businessman who led a somewhat adventurous life.

Richard was born on January 31, 1740 at the Lower Settlement on St Georges River in what is now Knox County, Maine.  His parents were Richard Falle and Anna Lamb. Richard Sr according to family tradition was kidnapped from the Isle of Guernsey and sent to the colonies to be sold as an indentured servant.  (Guernsey has a history of belonging to France more than it belonged to England, so the name there would have been Faille, and there were a lot of Failles on the island. As far as I know, no one has yet figured out which was ours).  Richard Sr spent most or all of his indenture period clearing out stumps for his master. He married Anna Lamb, who was an orphan from The Coombs, Dublin, Ireland probably about 1739.  Richard, our good guy ancestor, was their first child, but he had at least 8 brothers and sisters.

The first we learn about Richard after his birth is his service in the French and Indian War. He was just 16 years of old, but that was considered of military age in that time, and his country, or colony, needed him.  Details of when he reported for service are sketchy, but it is known that he was one of the militia who left Ft William Henry alive, after the surrender to the French in Agusut of 1757.  He didn't reach Ft Edward, the immediate destination of the defeated British, but was instead captured by Indians who were "out of control". Eventually he was taken to Quebec, and the story is that a kind woman there "bought" him from the Indians for 16 gallons of rum.  He was eventually released, whether by the kind woman or whether in the general release of prisoners from Quebec at the end of September, and made his way home to what must have been a very relieved family.

"Home" by this time was Westfield, Massachusetts, where Richard started a manufacturing business of sorts.  He seems to have studied gunsmithing and perhaps he was already making guns when the Revolutionary War broke out.  The first order of business for Richard was to join the patriot cause and that meant the militia.  He is variously listed as a second lieutenant, ensign, and first lieutenant beginning shortly after the battles of Lexington and Concord.  His name is on an officer's list as early as May 27, 1775.  He was at the Battle of Bunker (Breed's) Hill in June of 1775 and withdrew to Cambridge with the American forces. With him was his son Frederick, age 14, a drummer for the Revolutionary forces.

Richard was granted beating orders on April 11, 1776, which essentially meant he was a recruiter, responsible for enlisting men to serve in a regiment to be raised to fortify the town and harbor of Boston, which was still under siege by the British. He was also present for the surrender of Borgoyne in 1777, which means he was involved in the expedition to Saratoga. This man must have walked a lot of miles!

About this time the shortage of guns for the American soldiers became a real problem, and Richard returned to his home in Westfield to enlarge the manufacturing and gunsmith work he had been doing.  He built a factory or gunsmith shop at the foot of Mt Tekoa, near Westfield, and his workmen lived in Westfield.  The guns he produced were regarded as being of top quality, and doubtless made a difference in the outcome of later battles in the Revolutionary War.

Richard Falley married Margaret Hitchcock, daughter of Samuel Hitchcock and Ruth Stebbins, in 1762, and they had 10 children. (Our line runs through Samuel, who was born October 9, 1780, and I will likely write about him in a future post.)   One of their descendents was Grover Cleveland, so we are some sort of cousin to the former president of the United States. Richard died in Westfield, Massachusetts on September 3, 1808. He was just 68 years old and one wonders if the hardships of war had anything to do with his relatively brief lifespan. 

It would truly be a genealogy happy dance day, if I could learn who Richard's grandparents were, but for now, he is one of my most admired ancestors and I'm proud to call him my fourth great grandfather.  The line goes: Richard, (Edith, Tessie, Vernon, Corinne) Allen, Edith Clarissa Knott, Harriet Clarissa Starr, Clarissa Falley, Samuel Falley, Richard Falley Jr.