Hopestill Armstrong and the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont

Battle of Bennington, ca 1900, New York Public Libraries
Battle of Bennington, ca 1900, New York Public Library Digital Collections1

1 Early Life

2 Marriage and Children

3 Revolutionary War

3.1 The Green Mountain Boys

3.2 Relationship to President Millard Fillmore

3.3 The Battle of Bennington

4 Post-War Life in Bennington

4.1 Life on the Frontier

4.2 Thomas Jefferson and James Madison visit Bennington

5 Death and Legacy

6 References

Hopestill Armstrong is my Revolutionary War ancestor, or one of them anyway. He was a member of Capt. Elijah Dewey’s Co. of Col. Moses Robinson’s Regt. of the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont. My grandmother Evelyn Jean Armstrong and my great aunt Helen Treva Armstrong Bergen were members of the Daughters of the American Revolution based on his service.2

Early Life

Born on 10 Apr 1746 in Norwich, New London, Connecticut, Hopestill was the fourth of eight children of Hopestill Armstrong Sr. and his wife Rebekah Durkee.3

In 1764, he came to Bennington, Vermont with his brother Lebbeus Armstrong and cousins Jonathan and Hezekiah Armstrong. Jonathan and Hezekiah were brothers to one another.4

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Marriage and Children

Hopestill Armstrong married Lydia Haynes on 19 Nov 1772. She was the daughter of Jonathan Haynes and Ruth Paige of Norwich Connecticut. The Haynes family had come to Bennington in 1768, shortly after the Armstrongs arrived. Two of Lydia’s sisters Miriam and Abigail married Hopestill’s cousins Hezekiah and Jonathan.5

Hopestill Armstrong and Lydia Haynes had six children: Azariah Armstrong (1776), Sarah Armstrong Fillmore (1778), David Armstrong (1781), Oliver Armstrong (1783), Ruth Elizabeth Armstrong Dickinson (1785) and Ominda Armstrong Gerry (1788).6
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Revolutionary War Service

green-mt-boys-flag-replica
Flag of the Green Mountain Boys and the Vermont Republic, Amber Kincaid, CC by 2.57
The Green Mountain Boys

Ethan Allen led several hundred of his men from the Green Mountain Boys in the Capture of Fort Ticonderoga on 10 May 1775.8 Under the leadership of Allen and Colonel Benedict Arnold, this surprise attack was an important early victory for the Continental Army. Hopestill Armstrong and his cousins were at Fort Ticonderoga with Elijah Dewey’s company the next year. On 6 May 1777, Hopestill was among several soldiers and officers who signed a statement affirming that Capt. Dewey had led them during the Alarm at Fort Ticonderoga the previous October.9

Capt. Elijah Dewey's--Men Receipts for Pay, Fort Ticonderoga, 6 May 1777
Capt. Elijah Dewey’s Men–Receipts for Pay, Fort Ticonderoga, 6 May 1777

These may certify that we whose Names are here unto Subscribed have Rec’d all the Wages and Billet Money that is our Due from Elijah Dewey who went out as our Captain in the Alarm Last Oct. at Ticonderoga—Witness our hand this 6th day of May 1777.

Ethan Allen at Ticonderoga, New York Public Library Digital Collections
Ethan Allen at Ticonderoga, New York Public Library Digital Collections10
Relationship to President Millard Fillmore

Capt. Elijah Dewey’s payroll lists for the men in his company were found among his papers after his death.  Hopestill Armstrong is on the list as one of his soldiers at Mount Independence in October of 1776.11 Also on the payroll is Ensign Nathaniel Fillmore, who became part of Hopestill’s family by marriage. Nathaniel’s son Elijah Fillmore married Hopestill Armstrong’s daughter Sarah.12

Ens. Nathaniel Fillmore had two other sons, Nathaniel Jr. and Calvin, who moved to Cayuga County, New York around 1798.13 Together, they sold Hopestill Armstrong 450 acres in Locke Township near Summerhill.14 Hopestill bequeathed these 450 acres to his son, and my ancestor, Oliver Armstrong in his will.15 Nathaniel Fillmore, Jr. was the father of Millard Fillmore, the 13th President of the United States.16

The Battle of Bennington

Before any of this was to occur, the Green Mountain Boys would fight in the famous Battle of Bennington.17 Elijah Dewey’s payroll for men involved in the battle on 16 Aug 1777 includes Hopestill Armstrong, his cousins Lebbeus and Hezekiah, and Ens. Nathaniel Fillmore. Several other men sharing surnames of Hopestill’s family members are also on the list: Thomas Haynes, Aaron Haynes, Jonathan Haynes Jr, Amos Page, and Philemon Wood.18

Map of Bennington Battlefield
Map of Bennington Battlefield19

The Green Mountain Boys were not just fighting for American Independence. The militia organized in 1764 to defend their homes in the New Hampshire Grants, now known as the state of Vermont.20
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Post-war Life in Bennington

Mrs Ominda Armstrong Gerry dies, Vermont Watchman 22 Sep 1880
Mrs. Ominda Armstrong Gerry obituary, Vermont Watchman, 22 Sep 1880, Newspapers.com
Life on the Frontier

Hopestill Armstrong lived with his family in a log cabin in the wilderness at the time of the Battle of Bennington.21 Thirteen years later, he appears as the head of his household in the First Census of the United States in 1790. The Armstrong residence consists of 4 males under age 16, 3 males over age 16, and 5 females, with 12 people total in the household.22 The figures for the Armstrong household in the 1800 Census are a little more detailed. 1 male 10-15, 5 males 16-25, 1 male over 45, 1 female 10-15, 1 female 16-25, 1 female over 45, 2 people in household under 16, 2 people in household over 25, 10 people in household total.23

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison visit Bennington

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison visited the town of Bennington on June 4-6, 1791. They traveled through several northern states on horseback in order to survey Revolutionary War battlefields. Jefferson and Madison were also raising support for their new Republican political party they would found in 1792. A 1977 issue of the Bennington Banner discusses citizens in the town who would have been in a position to meet the touring duo. Hopestill Armstrong’s name is among these men.24

There were others of Bennington’s Revolutionary era, still living and in this area in 1791, whose position in the community could qualify them to meet Jefferson and Madison…Hopestill Armstrong (d. 1806)…

The Jefferson-Madison visit remembered, Bennington Banner 8 Jun 1977 p. 4
The Jefferson Madison visit remembered, The Bennington Banner, 8 Jun 1977, Newspapers.com

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Death and Legacy

Hopestill Armstrong died in Bennington on 25 Jan 1806.25 He is buried in Old Bennington Cemetery The following photos of the Graveyard and Hopestill’s tombstone are linked through the record sharing mechanism on Find A Grave.26 Hopestill and Lydia Armstrong have many descendants living in America today.

Source: Hopestill Armstrong, Jr (1746 – 1806) – Find A Grave Memorial

Old Bennington Cemetery, Source: Hopestill Armstrong, Jr (1746 – 1806) – Find A Grave Memorial

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Reference Notes


  1. Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library, “Battle of Bennington.” New York Public Library Digital Collections (http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-f5a0-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99 : accessed 2 Oct 2016).
  2. Helen Treva Armstrong Bergen, Membership application, no. 440732, Daughters of the American Revolution, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington, DC.
  3. John Woolf Jordan, Genealogical and Personal History of the Allegheny Valley, Pennsylvania, vol. 1 ( New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1913), 199; digital images, Google Books, (https://books.google.com/books?id=ELgyAQAAMAAJ : accessed 2 Oct 2016).
  4. Isaac Jennings, Memorials of a Century: Embracing a Record of Individuals and Events, Chiefly in the Early History of Bennington, Vt. and its First Church (Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1869), 270-271; digital images, Archive.org (https://archive.org/details/memorialsacentu01jenngoog : accessed 2 Oct 2016).
  5. Jennings, Memorials of a Century, 284.
  6. “Vermont, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1732-2005,” Hopestill Armstrong family records; digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-27855-11303-22 : 22 May 2014); citing: Births, marriages, deaths, deeds, town records 1741-1809, vol A-1, p. 272, Bennington Town Clerk, Vermont.
  7. “Flag of the Green Mountain Boys and the Vermont Republic,” Amber Kincaid, CC by 2.5; digital image, Wikipedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GreenMtBoys.jpg : accessed 2 Oct 2016).
  8. History.com Staff, “The Capture of Fort Ticonderoga,” History.com (http://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/capture-of-fort-ticonderoga : accessed 2 Oct 2016).
  9. John E Goodrich, The State of Vermont, Rolls of the Soldiers in the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783 (Rutland, Vermont: The Tuttle Company, 1904), 635; digital images, Google Books (https://archive.org/details/rollsofsoldiersi00verm : accessed 1 Oct 2016).
  10. Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library, “Ethan Allen at Ticonderoga.” New York Public Library Digital Collections (http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-f546-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99 : accessed 2 Oct 2016).
  11. Goodrich, The State of Vermont, Rolls of the Soldiers in the Revolutionary War, 10, 634.
  12. Kathryn Armstrong Duvall, Membership application, no. 169483, Daughters of the American Revolution, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington, DC.
  13. Bennington, Vermont, Town Clerk, Births, Marriages, and Deaths (1763-1850); transcription of records held by the Bennington Town Clerk, Vermont (http://benningtonvt.org/departments/town-clerk/vital-records-2/genealogical/ : accessed 4 Oct 2016).
  14. “New York Land Records, 1630-1975,” Grantor: Calvin and Nathaniel Filmore, Grantee: Hopestill Armstrong, Book E, Feb 1803, p. 335; digital images, images 443-445 of 543, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WK-8DN5 : 22 May 2014); citing Cayuga County Deeds, 1802-1804 vol D-E, Cayuga County Courthouse, New York.
  15. “Vermont, Bennington County, Manchester District Estate Files, 1779-1935,” Hopestill Armstrong, 10 Oct 1806; digital images, images 753-760 of 1000, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-27665-34795-96 : accessed 1 Oct 2016); citing Probate Records, Box 3, Abbott, Larnard-Atherton, Elimus, Supreme Court of Vermont, Montpelier.
  16. Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia, “Millard Fillmore: Life Before the Presidency,” http://millercenter.org­/president/biography/fillmore-life-before-the-presidency : accessed 4 Oct 2016.
  17. Battle of Bennington, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bennington : accessed 4 Oct 2016.
  18. Goodrich, The State of Vermont, Rolls of the Soldiers in the Revolutionary War, 26.
  19. “Map of Bennington Battlefield,” image from The Hoosac Valley: Its Legends and Its History by Grace Greylock Niles; digital image, Wikipedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_Bennington_battlefield.jpg : accessed 2 Oct 2016).
  20. Walter Hill Crockett, Vermont: The Green Mountain State, vol. 2 (New York: The History Company, 1921), Chapter XIX, The Battle of Bennington, 101-164; digital images, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=07oMAAAAYAAJ : accessed 4 Oct 2016).
  21. “Vermont State News,” Vermont Watchman and State Journal, Montpelier, 22 Sep 1880, p. 3, col. 4; online archives, Newspapers.comhttps://www.newspapers.com/clip/6867063 : accessed 2 Oct 2016.
  22. 1790 United States Census, Bennington County, Vermont, population schedule, Hopestill Armstrong, Bennington; digital images, Archive.org (https://archive.org/stream/populationsc17900012unit#page/n11 : accessed 2 Oct 2016); citing: “First Census of the United States, 1790,” NARA microfilm publication M637, Roll: 12, Page: 2, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
  23. 1800 United States Census, Bennington County, Vermont, population schedule, Hopestill Armstrong, Bennington; digital images, Archive.org (https://archive.org/stream/populationsc18000051unit#page/n91 : accessed 2 Oct 2016); citing: “Second Census of the United States, 1800,” NARA microfilm publication M32, Roll: 51, Page: 152, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
  24. “The Jefferson-Madison visit remembered,” The Bennington Banner, Vermont, 8 Jun 1977, p. 4; online archives, Newspapers.comhttps://www.newspapers.com/clip/6867177 : accessed 2 Oct 2016.
  25. “Vermont Vital Records, 1760-1954,” Hopestill Armstrong, age 60, died 28 Jan 1806, Bennington; digital images of FHL microfilm 27461, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XFFP-Q6P : 6 Dec 2014); citing original town records of Bennington, Vermont, State Capitol Building, Montpelier, Vermont.
  26. Ancestry, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 2 Oct 2016), photograph, “gravestone for Hopestill Armstrong (1746-1806), Memorial No. 22439875, Records of Old Bennington Cemetery, Bennington, Bennington County, Vermont,” photograph © the moo.

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