I stand in Mapleshade Cemetery in Ridgefield, Conn. and look at the grave of Corporal William Lee and see that he died in September 1776 while serving during the Revolutionary War. He died at the age of 23 without ever knowing how it turned out. I learn from William Lee’s stone that he served under Captain Northrop. I discover that Gamaliel Northrup’s company was from ‘Ridgebury’ and that it was in Brooklyn during the Battle of Long Island in 1776 and later fought in the Battle of White Plains on Oct. 28, 1776. Corporal Lee was dead by then. I wonder if this is the same Captain Northrop mentioned on Corporal Lee’s tombstone. I learn that there are a number of spellings of the family name Northrop.
I learn that some families named Lee at one time spelled their name with an s on the end: Lees. I learn that George Washington had a slave named William “Billy” Lee who accompanied him during the Revolution.
I learn that a William Lee, Jr. was born on April 12, 1753 in Redding, Conn., died on Sept. 11, 1776, and is interred in Ridgefield. But this short biography tells me he was a private through 1775 under Captain Thomas Hobby in the Fifth Regiment under Colonel David WaterburyI learn that the Battle of Long Island, which began at the end of August 1776, was the first in which revolutionaries from different colonies united to fight the British. I haven’t gone much beyond my own county’s borders to realize how little I know about the Revolutionary War. I wonder where my wondering about William Lee will take me.