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Sybil Ludington


Sybil Ludington Stampbook Cover

April 5, 1761 – February 26, 1839

Sybil Ludington was the oldest of the eleven children born to Colonel and Mrs. Henry Ludington. On the night of April 26, 1777, she was putting her younger siblings to bed when news came that the British were burning the town of Danbury, CT, which was only 25 miles away. Her father was a colonel in the local militia. He would have to muster (summon) and organize his men. Because it was the planting season, his men were scattered over a wide area around the Ludington house in Fredericksburg, NY (now the Ludingtonville section of Kent, NY). With the messenger not able to continue and no neighbor nearby to call, Colonel Ludington reluctantly gave the task of summoning his men to his oldest child.

Wearing her younger brother’s clothes, Sybil rode off alone on her horse, Star, with only a stick, which she used to bang on doors. The night was cold and stormy. Sybil and Star traveled nearly 40 miles on muddy, dark and unmarked roads. Getting lost was the least of her worries compared to the robbers, “skinners” (British loyalists) and deserters who were known to travel the roads at night.

It took Sybil over 6 hours to complete her task. She arrived back at the farm around dawn, just in time to see her father’s men leave for Connecticut. Legend has it that she was so exhausted that she slept until the next day. Thus it was not until the morning of April 28th that she knew her father’s militia had managed to join General Wooster and attack the British at the Battle of Ridgefield.

In 1784, Sybil settled in Catskill with her attorney husband, Edmond Ogden, and their son, Henry. When Henry was 13, his father died of yellow fever. A single parent, Sybil became a successful tavern keeper, a profession then dominated by men. She raised Henry to become an attorney and community leader. When he married, Henry moved his young family and his mother to Unadilla in Otsego County. There she died in 1839. She is buried near her father in the Maple Avenue Cemetery in Patterson, NY. Statues of the “Female Paul Revere” can be seen in front of the Danbury Library and on the shore of Lake Gleneida, in Carmel, NY.

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