Jacob Couse (1753-1844)

By Fred “Chip” Couse.  Sep 2016.

Jacob Couse, the 4th of 12 children born to a German Immigrant, was born in 1753 just north of Gallatin and was baptized in the Dutch Reform Church known as “Vedder’s Church”. Throughout his life, he lived, variously, in the Mount Ross, Gallatin area and settling as an adult in what is now Milan.

The name “Couse”, started out as “Kaus”, morphed into “Cous”, and the anglicizing finalized to “Couse” by the time Jacob married and had children. While he often signed his name as “Cous”, all of his children converted to the full spelling. Jacob had eight children.

In the years leading up to the Revolutionary War, the activities of the increasingly frustrated “colonists” lead to the formation of early committees throughout the colonies; these would eventually culminate in the formation of both the Continental Congress and the Declaration of Independence. Under the guise of keeping the populace informed, an “Association Pledge” was drafted and circulated throughout the Counties to, essentially, protest British revenue actions (“taxation without representation”). Jacob, along with his brother Peter, are listed among those who refused to sign it.

But, both Jacob and his brother Peter would go on to enlist in various units of local militia during the Revolutionary War. With exact enrollment records somewhat scattered, further research is needed to say exactly where Jacob Couse’s military service played out. Various records and his own depositions (later, for pensions) vary from enlisting in 1776 for a nine-month term into what might be called a “quartermaster” role…………delivering hay to the Army…………to enlisting in Seth Warner’s regiment in 1777 and fighting in various upstate New York skirmishes over an 18 month period. Family anecdotal history had it that Jacob wintered in Valley Forge during that famous time in the winter of 1777-78. Until his exact unit can be verified, it remains family lore.

After Independence, Jacob returned to Milan and became a farmer. At the time, Milan was part of “Northeast”, which covered the areas today of Milan, Pine Plains, and Millerton. In late 1797, a group of prominent citizens gathered in the Stissing House in Pine Plains to form the first library in the northern region of Dutchess County; Jacob Couse was one of the sponsoring patrons. Also, Jacob served as an Assessor for the Northeast Township.

While family lore has Jacob living to the ripe old age of 102, and several of his depositions on behalf of fellow Revolutionary War veterans (seeking pensions) suggest he wrote them at age 92 and 93, the most accurate of records appears to be his War Pension record terminating that pension and listing his death as July 6th, 1844; this would have him 91 years of age. At this writing, I can find no records of his burial, although his brother Peter and his oldest son, Henry, are buried in the Gallatin Reformed (Vedder’s) Cemetery.

Wanderlust appears to have been a recessive gene in the Couse line. Now, eight generations later and with a career full of world travel, I can find the graves of all these generations but Jacob’s within a 20 mile radius of my own home in Milan.

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