Jesse Coles ,
was the famous Patriot spy from Glen Cove,(LI,NY ) in the Revolutionary
War. Jesse was taken prisoner while carrying a message to General Washington
and was confined many months in a prison ship at the Wallabout.
According to a sworn testimony Jesse made in May of 1833 , in order that
he may recieve pension from Congress for the service to the United States
during the Revolution, he enlisted in April of 1775 as a Sergent in Captain
John sand's Company of militia (" Minute Men "), in the Regiment
comanded by Col. Birdsall . He served nine months of Garrison Duty at Cow's
Neck (North Hempstead) .
After the battle of Long Island, he escaped to Conneticut. In March of 1779, at Horse neck, Fairfield County, Conn. He enlisted in Capt. Olmstead's company of militia in the regiment commanded by Col. Thomas. During the two months he served with this company, he was engaged in the battle between Gen. Putnam's troops and the tory troops under the command of Gov. Tyron.
In 1780 Jesse Coles enlisted in the Navy and served on one of the five whaleboats under the command of Capt Samuel Lockwood , who in turn was under the command of Major Hull.
For the next year he was engaged in various raids against Brittish shipping and Brittish outposts on Long Island shores. Coles took part in a sucessful raid against Hart Island, in which he " took and carried away 12 prisoners . On another raid which was not so sucessful, he was captured by the Brittish, taken to New York City and confined for three days in the old city hall. He was then transported to the old city jail along with a number of other prisoners, and kept in irons there for 13 weeks !
The Brittish finally release him from confinment. upon his giving them " Security that he would not go without the Brittish Lines " . He continued being a prisoner within the Brittish lines for the next 2 and a half years, untill the Brittish surrended long Island at the end of the war. In 1865 James S. Carpenter , who married Jesse's daughter Sarah Ann, wrote a letter in which he stated that "Gen. Washington Rote A letter to him that if he would be true to him During the war he would reward him Bountafully". The letter Washington wrote seems to be , unfortunatley , no longer extant.
Another reference to Jesse's service as a spy comes from "The Biographic History of Westchester County,NY", pub 1889 by Lewis Publishing Co. "For three years he was detached as a spy under the command of Washington, and being taken prisoner was incarcerated in the " Old Sugar House Prison " , but afterwards paroled. Later hge was captured by a English boat on Long Island Sound, while carrying messages , but the papers were skillfully hidden under the lining of his coat between the sholders, and were not found; so, there being no proof against him, he was released. Had the papers been found he would have been summarily shot. The gun which he carryied was given to his father by Richard Mott, is now in the posession of Abraham Coles as is the old family clock. Jesse was saved bt Anna Nott, a nurse , who warned him against eating some food that was poisoned."
Miss Martha D. Carpenter, who was Jesses Coles' granddaughter, stated that Jesse had taken messages out of New York City and hidden them in a bottle in Boggy Swamp, at Dosoris . ( Boggy Swamp, according to Miss Carpenter, was an important hidding place for local Patriots during the Brittish Occupation of Long Island, as the cavalrymen would not enter the swamp, fearing the " War Wolf ", a sort of war phantom, would kill their mounts.
Another ancedote recorded by Peter Luster Van Santvoord, in " Appleby Beach Park " an article appearing in the April'1963 issue of " Long Island Forum " states that Jesse hid in his barn,on Garvies Point, to escape a band of Brittish Soliders.
There appears in several surviving papers of the Merseareau spy ring, which operated in the arae of New Jersey, New York City, and on Long Island , references to a field operative known as " Jesse ' or " J C "
After The War:
Upon the return of peace, Jesse returned to his farm at Musquito Cove. His marriage liscense to Deborah Carpenter was dated March 20 1781 and they were married a few days later. One of the most popular legends in Glen Cove concerns Jesse Coles and the founding of the Metodist Church in Glen Cove. The Rev Ezekial Cooper, a itinery Methodist circut rider, added Glen Cove to his itinerary, in 1785. It had been rumored that this precher was a agent of the King during the Revolution, and Jesse had pledged to give him a sound thrashing should his sermon contain pro-Tory sympathy. He attend the Rev. Cooper's first meeting, which was held in the private home of one of the Carpenter family, fully prepared to carry out his promise. But, it seems that Rev. Cooper's mission was so sincere that Jesse wound up as one of the first class leaders, and was in latter years to be one of the founders of the Metodist Church in Tarrytown,NY, in 1807.
Jesse left Glen Cove, and on July 2, 1791 purchased a large farm 1 1/2 miles east of Tarrytown from Aaron Burr. Jesse remained a member of the congregation at Tarrytown Methodist church untill his death.
Deborah , his wife died March 27, 1836, and is to said to have extracted from Jesse a dying promise that he would marry her sister Freelove , who was the widow of the Rev. John Searing. He kept his promise, marrying Freelove, but died soon afterwards , on Jan. 11, 1837
He married both Deborah and her sister Freelove. Just before dying Deborah,according to family legend, made Jesse promise to marry her sister Freelove,whose first husband ( Rev. John Searing) had died some 20 yrs prior.
Jessie owned a 90 acre farm and home lot at Garvies point (Glen Cove,NY ), which was known as Sheep's Pen Point, which he had inherited from his father Joseph, a descendant of Robert Coles , the Musquito Cove proprietor. He also owned 25 acres of medow land further inland, plus the salt marsh between garvies point Rd. and the Creek. The large house in which he dwelt was later owned By Dr. Thomas Garvies; it stood on Garvies point untill it was demolished after WW II.
Carpenter Family in America by Daniel H. Carpenter pub 1901 -The Marion Press Jamaica,NY PGS # 122,170-171
Jesse Coles Patriot Spy by Daniel B. Russell at Glenn Cove,Nassau,NY Public Library ( in Coles Family File)
Biographic History of Westchester County,New York
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