Biography and History

Born April 12, 1756 in Connecticut, Ebenezer Foote was the son of Daniel (1717-1801) and Margaret Parsons (1721-1764) Foote. At the start of the American Revolutionary War, Foote volunteered as a soldier, without permission from his father, and saw action at the Battle of Bunker Hill, wintered in Valley Forge, and was taken prisoner at the Battle of Fort Washington. Following his capture, Foote was held in Bridewell Prison in New York City, from which he escaped in December, 1777 by swimming across the Hudson River to New Jersey. Although free from captivity, Foote's health was compromised due to his winter-time escape, and he was unable to participate in further military engagements. Instead, he served in the Commissary Department as inspector of cattle for the Continental Army, stationed in Crompon, New York. In this capacity, he gathered cattle from the countryside and forwarded them across the Hudson River to West Point to supply the troops. He eventually left the army in 1783 with the rank of major.

Returning to civilian life, Foote served as a member of the New York legislature in 1792, 1794, 1796, and 1797, and worked in the mercantile business in Newburgh, New York and Ulster County, New York until 1797, when he actively participated in the formation of Delaware County, and moved to Delhi, New York. He quickly became active in Delaware County's community and politics. He was appointed the first county clerk of Delaware County, serving from 1798 to 1801, served as a member of the state senate from the Middle District from 1798 to 1802, sat in the Council of Appointment with Governor John Jay (1745-1829) in 1799, and conducted an extensive land agency. In 1810, Foote was appointed the judge of the New York Court of Common Pleas, serving until 1816, and then again, from 1828 until his death in 1829.

In 1779, Foote married Jerusha Purdy (1754-1818) and, in 1797, he began building his estate, Arbor Hill, on land granted to him in return for his military service. The Footes were the parents of four children: Frederick Parsons Foote (1782-1827), Charles Augustus Foote (1785-1824), Harriet Foote (born 1787), and Margaret Parsons Foote (1790-1840). Frederick Parsons Foote served as a general in the War of 1812. He married Charlotte Welles, had three children, and died in Leghorn Italy at the age of 45. Charles Augustus Foote, a lawyer and member of Congress from New York in 1824, married Maria Baldwin and was the father of five children who lived to adulthood: Frances, Catherine B., Rensselaer (West point graduate and career soldier who served in the Seminole War and was killed at the Battle of Gaines Mill during the Civil War), Charles A., and James. Harriet Foote first married Ambrose Bryan, and later married her cousin John Foote (son of Ebenezer's brother Isaac [1746-1842]). She became guardian to her brother Charles' children following his death. Margaret Parsons Foote married Reverend Ebenezer K. Maxwell (1743-1840), the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Delhi for twenty-eight years.

Ebenezer Foote died on December 28, 1829 at the age of 75.

Source: From the finding aid for C0430

  • Ebenezer Foote Papers. 1785-1829 (bulk), 1766-1925 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0430

    Ebenezer Foote (1756-1829) was a cattle agent for the Continental Army's Commissary Department during the American Revolutionary War, a merchant, a land agent, a politician, and a judge in New York State. Foote's papers date from 1766 to 1925, with the majority dating from 1785 to his death in 1829, and primarily document his land agency business in Delhi, Delaware County, New York. In addition to the land and financial records related to his business, the collection also contains some legal records, records documenting Foote's work as inspector of cattle for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, and limited family records.