Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Foote, Ebenezer, 1756-1829
Ebenezer Foote Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1766-1925 (mostly 1785-1829)
13 boxes and 5.1 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-13


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.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The Ebenezer Foote Papers date from 1766 to 1925 and primarily document Foote's land agency business. The bulk of the records date from 1785 to Foote's death in 1829, and 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. The collection is arranged in four series: "Business Records, Largely Relating to Land, 1766-1829," "Legal Records, 1788-1829," "Revolutionary War Correspondence and Financial Records regarding Supplies of Cattle for the Continental Army, 1778-1782," and "Family Records, 1790-1925."

As a collection, this material provides an interesting glimpse into the formation of a new county, particularly in assessing its property, negotiating its land transactions, and governing/judging its community. The papers also provide a unique opportunity to see the American dream in action, from fighting for the nation's independence, building a business, earning success and respect, and participating in the governance of the county and state.


Box 13 is oversized.

Collection Creator Biography:

Foote, Ebenezer, 1756-1829

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.

Collection History


This collection was acquired in two parts. The bulk of the collection was donated by Stewart Robinson, March 18, 1964. The correspondence found in "Series III. Revolutionary War Correspondence and Financial Records Regarding Supplies of Cattle for the Continental Army, 1778-1782" was purchased at auction in 2012.


No material was separated during 2013 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Holly Mengel in 2013. Finding aid written by Holly Mengel in 2013.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Ebenezer Foote Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-13