Noah Cross of England and Ulster County

Yup, Noah Cross was the progenitor of a whole bunch of people named “Cross” as well as a whole bunch who were, after a generation or two, NOT named Cross.  Back in the days that we were celebrating the bicentennial of the United States, a lot of families got busy doing their genealogy, and the descendents of Noah Cross were no different.

And, the descendents of Noah Cross were more successful than most!  Thanks mainly to the efforts of one Loyal Cross, one of Noah’s descendents, as well as a few other hard workers, in 1976 a “book” of the descendents of Noah Cross was published.  We use the word “published” advisedly for a couple of reasons.  First of all, there was no sense at that time that this compendium was a finished product.  They had not traced all his lines of descendents.  They had not yet gotten him back “across the pond”.  And the “book” was mimeographed and designed to be kept in a three ring binder for the frequent updates everyone was sure would come soon and in quantity.  Also, the “book” lacked an index.

Crossbook0001One of our first tasks in the genealogical community was to index the Cross family book.  It was a lot of work, but at least the book had an index, and it was possible to find people in it.  We Xeroxed the index and send copies of it to a few people, and it seemed to get a life of its own — but this was a decade after the book itself had been circulated.

Around the same time, another researcher was able to fill in some important blanks about Noah Cross, and the story got about 300% more exciting.  It seems that he was born in Somerset, England.  In his late teens, he found himself a soldier in the British Army, in a regiment of foot (that means infantry).  (We don’t know what his decision process regarding joining the Army was, or even whether he had much say in the process, and we frankly suspect the latter.)

Soon, he found himself (and his regiment) stationed on Long Island, New York.  Whether he found Army life intolerable or whether he saw opportunity as only a young man can in a new land is not something we are ever likely to know the answer to.  But we do know that he, along with two of his buddies, deserted and made their way to Ulster County, NY.  (We should say here that deserting from the Army was not then and is not today a risk-free activity — back in those days if you were caught you likely would have been executed.)

We do not know how Noah Cross and his buddies made it from present day Nassau County, NY across the East River (or the Long Island Sound) and then across the Hudson River and sixty miles upstate.  He was likely to have had very little money and must have had to try to stay out of the clutches of those who might return him to the Army.  But somehow the three of them did make it up into the Shawangunk Mountains of Ulster County, where he and his friends became acquainted  with girls of Dutch heritage whose families lived there.

Now, there is no reason why the Dutch families would have been eager to turn the deserters in.  After all, these families had put down roots in New York when it was still New Amsterdam and likely resented the British.  Also, these were three fit young men, well able to marry their daughters and contribute to the community.  The three deserters married the three Dutch girls not many months after deserting.

Along came the Revolutionary War.  Noah Cross enlisted — quite possibly he was urged strongly to do so by his new family — and served.  He and his wife had children, and eventually he died.  But the rest of the story is in the book, and you may just want to have a look at it.

Who knows?  You might find your name or the name of one of your relatives!!


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