Thursday, May 7, 2020

Margaret Beekman Livingston and the Essential Workers Needed To Rebuild Clermont

Margaret Beekman Livingston, not a woman to be denied
Margaret Beekman Livingston spent the winter following the destruction of her house in a house owned by her cousin, Robert Livingston, the Third Lord of Livingston Manor. What she really wanted though was to be back in her own house.
In the spring of 1778, she moved back to Clermont’s land and had, what she called a hovel, built in the shadow of the ruins of Clermont. Looking at the north and south walls and the rubble in between them Margaret decided to rebuild Clermont as it was.
To do this she needed experienced workmen to do the construction. Most importantly they though must not have their work interrupted by the war. New York State required every man between the ages of 16 and 60 to respond to militia calls In the case of Margaret’s workers, they would have to lay down their tools and go if called.
One of many letters to George Clinton
Although we now know that there would be no more big battles in New York after the Battle of Saratoga, Margaret and her workers had no way of knowing this. The British still occupied New York City and Canada with Clermont sitting almost directly in between. The British could have attacked the Hudson River again at any time and in fact the militia was called out several times in response to raids and attacks by small parties of British soldiers and their loyalist and native allies.
To alleviate this situation Margaret Beekman Livingston bombarded New York governor George Clinton with letters requesting workers for her house be released from their militia obligations so they could focus only on her house.
Her essential workers included Conrad Lasher Jr. as a stonebreaker, Henry Timmerman as a limemaker and Phil Shultis as a laborer. Lasher and Timmerman were both in Diel Rockefeller’s company of militia from Germantown and Shultis was in Philip Smith’s company of militia from Livingston Manor.

Not that George Clinton 
That George Clinton 
Initially Clinton refused to give Margaret special treatment but her constant line of correspondence combined with the family’s influence finally made him relent. Lasher, Timmerman and Shultis, joined by other laborers when they were available had Clermont rebuilt in less than four years, during the war. Not only was Margaret living in the house again by 1782 it had enough fit and finish to host George and Martha Washington. 

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