Remembering Sybil Ludington, the Hudson Valley heroine on horseback
April 26 will mark the 240th anniversary of a remarkable event in American (and women’s history), which took place right here in the mid-Hudson Valley during the Revolutionary War: Sybil Ludington’s Ride. On that wild and stormy night in 1777, 16-year-old Sybil rode a circuit of some 40 miles – way farther than Paul Revere – over difficult terrain in what was then Dutchess and is now Putnam County, to let the men of her father’s regiment know that the Redcoats were coming.
Colonel Henry Ludington was a veteran of the French and Indian War and the officer in charge of the Seventh Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia. His turf included a route that the British could take between Long Island Sound and the Continental Army’s military supply depot at Danbury. The colonel already had a 300-guinea price on his head for several years of defending Colonial stockpiles against marauders, horse and cattle thieves, and for organizing (with John Jay) a ring of spies to infiltrate the local Tory network. One of them, Enoch Crosby, was the model for the title character in James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Spy. Sybil and her younger sisters are said to have shared a system of secret signals with the spies, and to have regularly patrolled the grounds of the family farm in Kent, armed, to protect their father from bounty-hunting snipers.
In April 1777, 2,000 British soldiers under the command of general William Tryon landed at Compo Beach on the Connecticut shore and began moving inland, intent on seizing or destroying the Continental stockpiles. Various Connecticut militias hindered their progress, but it was planting season and many of the men were scattered to their farms. One fateful evening, an exhausted rider arrived to tell Colonel Ludington that the British were setting buildings on fire in Danbury. So Sybil was dispatched to round up the members of the regiment from their landholdings in Carmel, Cold Spring and Mahopac. She must have been some rider, as most of them – about 400 patriots – showed up by daybreak, as instructed, to help harry the Redcoats on their retreat to the coast.
It is said that General Washington himself later visited the Ludington farmstead to thank Sybil for her heroic ride, but her name almost dropped out of the history books. After the war, Ludington married a Catskill lawyer named Edward Ogden; they had one son. After her husband’s death, Sybil became a tavernkeeper, and she died in 1839 at age 77. Her great-nephew, historian Louis S. Patrick, published an article about his gallant forebear in 1907, and a 1912 poem in a verse style similar to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous “Paul Revere’s Ride” helped establish her reputation as “the female Paul Revere.” In 1975, Sybil was featured on a US postage stamp. Nowadays bronze equestrian statues of her are to be found in Putnam County and in Danbury.
So if you know any young girls who could use a real-life, local role model of resourcefulness, persistent and courage, you might want to point them in the direction of Sybil Ludington’s story. Fleischmanns-based Purple Mountain Press has published two biographies by Vincent Dacquino: Sybil Ludington: The Call to Arms (2000) is aimed at adult readers, and Sybil Ludington: Discovering the Life of a Revolutionary War Hero (2008) is written for children. More info can be found at www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/sibyl-ludington, and visitors to the http://ludingtonsride.com can play an online game with an interactive map of Sybil’s route.
– Frances Marion Platt
Thursday, March 30
Rondout High School hosts Water Is Life/Mni Wiconi event
Never let it be said that contemporary youth are slackers when it comes to being “woke” about the political events and social causes of their times. In fact, it’s a tenth-grader at Rondout Valley High School (RVHS), Eva Ostrander, who has created the Water Is Life/Mni Wiconi event that’s happening there this Thursday evening. Young Ostrander, who identifies as a Native American Water Protector, has organized the public forum in support of the indigenous tribes who are resisting the construction of oil pipelines at Standing Rock in North Dakota and Split Rock in New York State.
Water Is Life will open to the public at 5:45 p.m. on March 30 outside the RVHS Auditorium, with tables set up with information about alternative energy sources and the Dakota Access Pipeline and Pilgrim Pipelines, along with ways to help the Sioux and Ramapough Water Protectors. Merchandise such as flower bulbs and handmade crafts will also be available for sale.
At 6 p.m. in the auditorium, Clara Soaring Hawk Hasbrouck, Deer Clan chief of the Ramapough Lenape Nation, will conduct an opening ceremony for the Water Is Life/Mni Wiconi event, followed by a performance with the Red Feather Singers & Cloud Breaker Drummers. Eva Ostrander and other RVHS students will introduce the speakers, who include Shai Blackbird, a Native American student from the Standing Rock area; activist Iris Marie Bloom of the Coalition against Pilgrim Pipelines – New York and Protecting Our Waters; Kieran Conroy, a youth minister and ally to the Ramapough tribe; and Quinn Haley, a seventh-grade Water Protector from the Hawthorne Valley School. The event will run until 8 p.m.
This event is sponsored by the Chess, Community Service, Environmental, Human Rights, Music Discovery, National Honor Society, Newspaper and Synthesis/Diversity clubs at RVHS, and co-sponsored by the Coalition against Pilgrim Pipelines, Neetopk Keetopk and Protecting Our Waters. Water Is Life/Mni Wiconi is open to the public, and there is no entrance fee; however, a donation of $5 will be suggested at the door. All the money raised will go towards helping the Standing Rock and Split Rock tribes.
Rondout Valley High School is located at 122 Kyserike Road in Accord. For more information about Water Is Life/Mni Wiconi, or to make a donation, call (845) 687-2400, extension 4172, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, April 1
Easter egg hunt, box office opener at Dutchess Stadium
For little kids, April means Easter egg hunts. For bigger ones, it means the beginning of the baseball season. Your family can celebrate both from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Super Saturday at Dutchess Stadium, when tickets go on sale for 2017 home games of the Hudson Valley Renegades. If you’ve ever found yourself turned off by the noisy, sometimes-hostile crowds or the high prices and relentless hucksterism to be found at Major League ballparks, you’ll find a visit to Dutchess Stadium a refreshing return to the old-fashioned, low-key Americana of small-town baseball. There are even fireworks following each game.
To kick off the season, the Renegades’ home venue invites kids and their parents to join in the fun searching for Easter eggs on the ballfield at 10 and 10:45 a.m. on Saturday, April 1.
Dutchess Stadium is located at 1500 Route 9D in Wappingers Falls. For the season schedule, ticket prices and other information, call the box office at (845) 838-0094 or visit www.facebook.com/hvrenegades.
Kite-Flying at Zena Cornfield
Though March is more known for its blustery winds and April for its gentle showers, someone somewhere decided to try to stave off the rains by declaring April National Kite Month. And really, what could be a zippier antidote to months of cabin fever than getting outside with all the other fools on All Fools’ Day and decorating the early spring sky with splashes of flying color?
This Saturday morning, weather permitting, the Woodstock Land Conservancy will celebrate the coming of spring with a Kite-Flying gathering at the very first piece of scenic property that the organization saved from the developer’s bulldozer: the Zena Cornfield on Zena Road. The aerial action gets underway at 10 a.m., as part of the land preservation organization’s monthly First Saturdays on the Trail event series. A few kites will be available for use, but you’re encouraged to bring your own if you’ve got one. There will also be a spring flower-planting activity, with materials provided.
This event is free and open to the public. Parking is available across Zena Road from the Zena Cornfield and along Gitnick Road. For more information and weather-related updates, call (518) 729-7733 or visit www.woodstocklandconservancy.com or http://bit.ly/2nsmmf3.
Sunday, April 2
Peter and the Wolf free for kids at Beacon’s Howland Cultural Center
The Howland Chamber Music Circle and the Howland Cultural Center revive the “Classics for Kids” series with a production of Peter and the Wolf on Sunday, April 2 at 3 p.m. The musicians of Vent Nouveau will perform an arrangement of Prokofiev’s enduring popular classic for woodwind quintet. The concert also features works by Gershwin, Debussy, Joplin and Ibert.
Admission costs $10 for adults. Accompanied children are admitted free. For tickets and additional information, visit www.howlandculturalcenter.org. The Howland Cultural Center is located at 477 Main Street in Beacon.
Next Sunday, April 9
Poughkidsie to host morning & afternoon Easter Egg Hunts
The first Sunday following the first Full Moon following the Vernal Equinox, Easter falls on April 16 this year. That makes April 9 – Palm Sunday – the ideal date for an egg hunt.
At Poughkidsie, the interactive playspace located at 50 Springside Avenue in the Arlington neighborhood of Poughkeepsie, there will be two time windows on that date when you can bring your little ones for some gleeful Easter Egg Hunt action: from 9:30 to 11 a.m. and from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Preregistration is required, with a fee of $14.40 to $16 per child. To sign up, call (845) 243-3750 or visit https://squareup.com/market/poughkidsie/item/egg-hunt.