William Eager by Robert Eager NSSAR# 179422

Born in 1728 onboard the “Shipwell” during the passage to America, William Eager was thirteen years old when his family moved to Neelytown, NY. He married quite early in life, Miriam Butler, by whom he had one child, and both died early. Afterwards he married Ann Bull.

During the war of the Revolution he was an ardent Whig, though he could take no active part in it because of an accident in his youth which lamed him for life. A limb from a dead tree blew down and fell on him injuring the cords of the toes on one foot so that he had to use a cane for the rest of his life.

Though he could not be a soldier himself, he highly esteemed those who were and gave them the heartiest encouragement of final triumph and success. Being an Irishman, he cherished no especial good will towards England.

When the militia of the county were at Forts Montgomery and Clinton in 1776-7 (on the Hudson), he went down occasionally to see them. Many of his neighbors and townsmen were there at the time. When he went, he would take things such as bread, straw, etc. On one occasion he was invited by Gen. Clinton to dine with the officers, and while at dinner he heard some of the officers joking about the gallantry of a brother officer. From the remarks made, he gathered the nature of the incident and the person they were talking about. He asked if Gen. Putnam was the individual referred to.

Unfortunately, General Putnam was present in the room and near enough to hear the question. Offended, he directed that Mr. Eager be put under guard. Gen. James Clinton, his personal friend and neighbor, then in command of the post, heard of it, instantly came and advised Putnam to discontinue his proceedings and let him go free saying, “he had been kind to the soldiers in feeding and warming them and, if they put him under guard, they would have half the Whigs of the county down on them and the last end would be worse than the first.” The General complied and that ended the affair.

In 1768 Eager served as town overseer of the poor. He was a prominent member of the Reformed Church of Neelytown from its formation in 1765. In 1813 there was an epidemic fever in the county which carried off the old settler, his wife Ann, and their son Thomas within a few days of each other. They were buried in the family burial ground on the farm, across from the Neelytown churchyard.

References and Notes

Samuel Eager’s “History of Orange County” 1848, p. 302.

Scroll to Top