John Hathorn and Elizabeth Welling

Photo courtesy Bill Raynor from glass plate negative. Late 1800's

Near one of the busiest intersections in Warwick a quiet corner remains which bears witness to one of the most compelling chapters in our town’s history. A short turnoff lane from Rt. 94 at Rt. 1 bears the name "Hathorn Road". This stretch of road was part of the colonial highway until Rt. 94 was straightened, and it gives us a glimpse of the character of the route prior to today’s ‘improvements’ to deal with high traffic volume. Many people think that the road is named for the Chateau Hathorn, but it is the unassuming stone house across Rt. 1 that the road and the restaurant are named for. This is the home that John Hathorn and his wife Elizabeth Welling built in 1773, and it is this house that was a hub of activity for the Revolutionary Militia in our area, for Hathorn became the local regiment’s commander.

John Hathorn was a Quaker who traveled to Warwick as a surveyor. During his stay here he and his host’s daughter Elizabeth Welling became acquainted and one may assume, fell in love. John stayed in this beautiful valley and built a home with Elizabeth. Their initials and the date can still be seen on the gable of the house facing Rt. 1, worked in brick:


They finished their house and began working toward a prosperous homestead; around them the countryside rang with outrage as citizens became increasingly supportive of complete independence from the British monarchy.

Many stories are told about Hathorn and his role in the revolution which were collected by Ferdinand Sanford and published in the Warwick Historical Papers, offering many clues to his activities and those of his regiment. But what of his own writings?

For a hundred years or more the tale has been told that after his death, family members accidentally burned John Hathorn’s personal papers. It is difficult to accept that a thrifty people would have not checked what the contents of containers were, however, and one can only speculate that perhaps it was not an accident after all. We can, however, read some his tale, as there are many surviving letters and reports that John sent to various leaders and government bodies. Selected letters and reports that have been located can be found in the 'Primary Documents" section of this webpage.

S. Gardner
July 2000

A Sketch of the Life of Elizabeth Welling
Wife of Gen. John Hathorn
By Caroline Welling Edsall for Hathorn Celebration

Read by W. Randolph Welling, Nephew
Transcribed March 2001 by S. Gardner
From a copy provided by Anne Marie Demetroules


In presenting this paper on Elizabeth Welling Hathorn, the wife of Gen. John Hathorn, I am reminded that their lives were but typical of thousands of lives of other loyal and brave settlers of our Colonial days, whose bones have long since mingled with the dust of our land, and whose mounds and fieldstone markers adorn our Valley from the upper Hudson River and Long Island to the southern hills of our neighboring state of New Jersey.

Nor can we perform a more agreeable and grateful act than by meeting here today to honor the memory of those who built this home in those trying days of a period of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when in common with other settlers, they joined hands in founding the richest domain in the temperate zone, the land where nature built the throne of western civilization.

The subject of my sketch, Elizabeth Welling, was born June 14th 1750, on the adjoining Welling homestead just north of this home which her father purchased from Daniel Burt in 1747-48. She was married Thursday, January 9th 1772 to Gen. (the John) Hathorn and came to live in this home upon its completion in 1773. At her death she was buried in the family plot near here, and afterward removed to the Warwick Cemetery to the Belden Burt plot where her husband is also buried. The brown fieldstone marker almost in plain view of where we are now assembled reads "Elizabeth Hathorn, wife of John Hathorn, died Aug. 29th 1810, aged 60 years, 2 mo. and 15 days. Also an added epitaph, "The Righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance."

The Wellings were of Welsh descent, and among the first settlers of Long Island, owning lands at Jamaica as early as 1704. A copy of an old will recorded in the N.Y. Historical Society Publ. Vol. 7-1766-1771 serves to establish briefly the nealogy or line of ancestry called for at this time. It reads:

"In the name of God Amen". I Thomas Welling of Jamaica in Queen’s County, Yeoman, being much indisposed and in declining condition of body: All debts to be paid by my Executor, I leave all my personal estate, negroes and chattels, to my brother William Welling, on condition that he pay to his five daughters Jane, Martha, wife of Joseph Furman, Elizabeth, Bridget and Sara, each 10 lbs.

I leave to my three nephews, Nicholas Jones, son of my sister Sara, widow lately deceased, and Thomas Welling Jr. and Wm. Welling Jr. two sons of my brother Wm. Welling, all my 300 acres of land in the Patent of the nine partners in Duchess Co, with all rights and privileges. I leave to my brother Wm. Welling all my right, title and interest in the Messange (?) dwelling house and lands and meadows of my father, Thomas Welling deceased, of which he died seized (?) in Jamaica and he is to pay his two sons Thomas and Wm. Something considerable in my name as a token of my love and good will, but how much is left to his discretion, they being his children, " and I make him Executor, Dated July 30th 1747. Proved Feb. 2, 1770."

The maker of the above named Will in disposing of his entire estate partly inherited from his father Thomas—makes it clear to us that he had no children of his own, as he leaves everything to his nephews and nieces, children of his brother William, one of which sons (Thomas Jr.) is Thomas the 3rd, or first in Warwick, who located here as previously stated in 1747. He had the following children: Thomas second, Rich and John, and three daughters, who became respectively, Mrs. Gen/ John Hathorn, Mrs. John Wheeler, and Mrs. Bronson. The Welling Bible published in 1812, which I (Carrie Welling Edsall) have in my possession, contains statistics of succeeding generations of Thomas Welling’s to Thomas 6th the present occupant of the old homestead.

The Hathorn children were six sons & three daughters. Thomas, who married a Rickey and lived in Paterspm NJ. Andrew, a lawyer, unmarried buried on the old homestead farm, without a headstone. George married Sally Bell, born in Connecticut, a sister of James Bell. Townsend, unmarried buried on old homestead—no headstone. Morris probably died in youth. John Jr. married Hannah (called Dorche) Post, daughter of Col. James Post, who lived at Horseheads NY. One of his sons lived for a time in Brooklyn NY and his children, it is said, reside in New York City. Sarah, born Dec. 9th 1773, died Sept. 23 1839, married Belden Burt, buried in the Burt burying ground upon the old farm. The house of Benjamin Burt now standing (James Fuller place) was during the Revolution surrounded with a stockade and a guard kept there for a considerable time. The children of Belden & Sara Hathorn Burt were Thomas H., Elizabeth married a Dolson, John, Anna, Benjamin, Mary, Catherine, Samuel, Coleman, Lucy, Belden Jr. and Cordelia, who married Edward Davis some of whose descendents (children and grandchildren of James H. and Nancy Davis Nanny) are still living. Polly married John Simpson. They lived in Western New York until the breaking out of the Indian hostilities, when they fled for their lives and abandoned all their property. They lived at Hamburg for a time and among their children were John Hathorn, Morris and Thomas their youngest child who died several years ago and is buried at the North Church (Hamburg). Some of the grandchildren are living in the vicinity of Hamburg, at Deckertown (Sussex) and Port Jervis. Catherine married a Post; Hannah was the wife of Major John Wheeler of Warwick, NY.

The old stone house where we are today was erected in 1773 (now owned & occupied by Wildred Raynor, son of Fred Raynor) by Gen. Then Colonel Hathorn. The south gable has an insert of brick with these initials standing for John and Elizabeth Hathorn viz H J + E 1773. Tradition says that Col. Hathorn and his worthy wife Elizabeth at one time entertained Gen. Washington and his wife while he was on his way from his Morristown headquarters. At one time when he and his army were on the march to New Jersey, it passed through Warwick NY and it is said that they encamped in the meadow on the Hathorn farm. The Colonel and his wife were hospitable to a fault, and entertained the encamped soldiers most bountifully. The generally accepted opinion regarding the wifes of our early settlers would seem to be that of brave, courageous, and obedient women who under the guidance of their husbands, they together possessed remarkable tact and foresight in handling the problems of their day and generation. "For it was their duty of all the learned… to espouse the cause by which we eat and drink." Like most of us they loved private life and left with regreat, only to compel the enemies of the country to abandon their schemes of warfare and acknowledge the colonies as terrible in arms – as they had been meek in remonstrances. Their return to private life was doubtless courted with tears of gratitude and smiles of admiration for the riches their heroism had preserved.

"It is the virtues of such souls man owes his portion of the good that heaven bestows." All honor to the memory of Gen. & Elizabeth Welling Hathorn, who were it possible for them to appear in the flesh would extend to us a most royal welcome as they were wont to do in their time, and I can imagine their exclaiming "Behold the change time hat wrought. Here my dear it would have been possible to live the full, the free, the festal life, to taste the joys that this fertile Valley is capable of yielding. Truly the spirit of the age has changed. You my descendants have kept the trust. Thou has carried on well."


[to this address is appended a page of family names and dates, omitted here]

Further information about Gen. Hathorn may be found in the Primary Documents list.

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