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Jonathan Nickerson

1762 – 1840

Jonathan Nickerson was born in 1762 near the corner of present day Chestnut Hill Road and Ridgebury Road. His parents, Eliphas and Mercy Nickerson, were farmers. The Ridgebury district of Ridgefield was noted for its strong support of the patriot cause. A Liberty Pole had been erected just south of the family homestead. So it was no surprise that in 1777 Jonathan enlisted in the Continental Army at the age of 15 for a single year term.

His duty was to be an artificer, which is the colonial version of a military mechanic. He was assigned to the Danbury Depot, where he loaded supply wagons. On April 26, 1777, it was raided by 2,000 British soldiers under the command of General Tryon. Before they departed the next morning, the British had destroyed 4,000 – 5,000 barrels of pork, beef and flour, 5,000 pairs of shoes, 2,000 bushels of grain, and 1,600 tents, among other supplies. Nineteen houses were burned. Like most of his fellow patriot soldiers, Jonathan escaped and hid in the neighboring countryside.

The next day Jonathan was among the patriots under the command of General David Wooster, who engaged the redcoats in Ridgefield just north of town. He was nearby when the General was mortally wounded, and he saw Wooster fall from his horse.

In 1780, Jonathan enlisted again. While patrolling the NY border, he has taken prisoner by a party of Tory horsemen. During the attack he was badly wounded by four deep saber blows to his head. Two weeks later, he was set free in a daring nighttime raid led by his Ridgebury neighbor Captain Doolittle. Six months later after his wounds healed, Jonathan returned to duty.

Jonathan reenlisted for a 3rd time in March 1782. This time he took money to go in the place of a drafted man from Ulster, NY. His regiment was sent to the western frontier of New York to protect American farmers from Indian attacks. While there he met a young woman. After his tour of duty, he returned to marry her and bought farmland in Cairo, NY, where he lived until his death in 1840 at the age of 78.

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