Did David Hare change his birth location and father's first name to conceal a dark family secret?
The Hares of Mohawk Valley:
The name of Hare was one of respectability in the Mohawk valley of upstate NY. Prior to the American Revolutionary War of 1775 to 1783, the Hare family was engaged in various trade speculations with the two wealthiest landowners of the region, Sir William Johnson, and his captain, Maj. Jelles Fonda. They struck gold with an extensive fur trade between Iroquois Indians, Canadians and colonial New Englanders.
Tories v. Whigs:
When the war began, Maj. Fonda joined the Albany militia, 2nd Regiment while Sir Johnson led a royalist party to Canada. The Hare brothers - Henry, John and Peter - followed Sir Johnson and joined John Butler's Rangers. Henry left his wife, Abigail, and their six children at their home in Florida, NY.
After joining the loyalists, Capt. John Hare is killed at the Battle of Oriskany on August 6, 1777. Lieut. Henry Hare is captured as a British spy outside his home in Florida, NY and executed. Capt. Peter Hare of Butler's Rangers would survive the war and remain permanently in Ontario, Canada. A nephew, Lieut. John Hare, would also join Butler's Rangers. The names of Stephen and Thomas Hare appear as enlisters of the Albany militia, 7th Regiment.
The Capture, Sentencing & Hanging of Henry Hare:
Capt. Walter Butler, and the Mohawk chief, Joseph Brant, were sent with a company of Butler's Rangers to take the fort and village of Cherry Valley. The battle resulted in Indians, fighting for Butler's Rangers, savagely murdering and scalping innocent women and children. These reports fueled the split between Patriots ("Whigs") and Loyalists ("Tories") turning neighbor against neighbor. Tories who fled to Canada were subject to capture as soon as they returned to the colonies.
On a home visit, Henry Hare sprained his ankle before his ride back to Canada. While limping through his orchard, 15-year-old Francis Putnam stepped out from an apple tree and pointed a musket at Hare's chest. Putnam took Hare to Captain Snook. Another loyalist and a friend of Hare, Sgt. William Newbury, was also captured. In the summer of 1779, Hare and Newbury were tried by court martial under Gen. James Clinton in Canajoharie, NY. It is noted Hare would have been saved if he admitted only to a family visit and with his friend's influence but Hare signed his death warrant when he confessed to spying for the British and begged the mercy of the court.
Hare was found guilty and sentenced to public hanging at Academy Hill. Prior to Hare's execution, Gen. Clinton road to Fort Plain to purposely avoid the pleas of Hare's friends and especially his wife, Mrs. Abigail Hare, on behalf of her six children. Said Joseph Wagner, who saw Hare, "He [Hare] had on a spotted calico shirt, ruffled at the bosom and cuffs. The gallows was made by setting up two crotches with a pole across them. He stood in a wagon and adjusted the rope on his neck, the wagon was drawn from under him and he was soon with his God." Hare died on July 14, 1779.
Legend of the Devil Snake:
After his death, his friends were allowed Hare's body for interment. As they assembled in a cellar kitchen, legend has it a large, black snake darted through the window and disappeared beneath the coffin. The superstitious believed the snake was the devil coming to claim Hare's soul and that it was an omen that favored the Whigs. After the hangings, deserters were shot on sight.
The Prodigal Son:
If David Hare (1765) was the son of Henry and Abigail Hare then he was born in the Mohawk valley like the rest of the Hare family in the late 16th and 17th centuries not nearby VT or CT as reports claim. He would have been 14 when his father died.
It is possible that after Henry Hare's sentence and public execution his NY home was confiscated as Tory estates were. With the loss of home and reputation, Abigail may have taken the children and left NY for New England or even Canada where the family had friends through their fur trading business or loyalist ties. On May 10, 1780, Abigail Hare was awarded twenty (20) pounds sterling annually for the rest of her life to be charged in the Contingent Account of Expenses of the Six Nation Indian Department after she petitioned His Excellency, Frederick Haldimand Esq., Governor and Commander in Chief of the Province of Quebec, for aid.
After the war, David decided to return to upstate New York settling in Plattsburgh near the Canadian border of Quebec and not far from Burlington, VT. He may have changed his birth information and father's first name to prevent being recognized as the son of a Tory spy. During the 18th century, David's children and grandchildren would be born and raised in Plattsburgh, Clinton County, NY.