Colonel Peregrine Fitzhugh (His Story)

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May 10, 1759 – November 28, 1811

 
From the book “Great Sodus Bay  History, Reminiscences, Anecdotes and Legends ” written by Walter Henry Green in 1947

 

“The most distinguished of the veterans of the Revolution to settle in the Sodus Bay region was Colonel Peregrine Fitzhugh and it is well worth while to give his military record.

 

He  joined the Army of the Revolution as lieutenant of the Third Regiment of  Dragoons of the Virginia Continental line and soon was promoted to captain. During the last two years of the war he was aid-de-camp to General George Washington.

 

His  lineage was of a distinguished family; his father held a commission in the English  army and resigned rather than fight against the colonists.

 

At  the close of the war, Col. Fitzhugh located in Ann Arundel, Maryland, and  resided there until he removed to Geneva, N.Y., in 1799, where he remained  while he cleared the land which he had purchased at Sodus Bay.

 

In  1803 he came to Sodus and dwelt upon his property on the south shore, the  residence being about one mile south of the bay, on the crest of the hill which  commands a beautiful view of the bay and the lake beyond.

 

He  died November 28, 1811, and was buried in the cemetery on the bluff above the  lake. His widow Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel Lloyd Chew of Ann Arundel, Maryland  outlived him forty-four years, and died June 4, 1854. His son, Bennett C. Fitzhugh, would become the 2nd and 4th Lighthouse Keeper at Sodus Bay. He served from May 14, 1829 until December 5, 1844 and again from May 10, 1845 until February 27, 1846. (Information provided by Joe O’Toole Sodus Bay Historical Society)

 

Having  been so intimately associated with General Washington, Colonel Fitzhugh had  several signed letters from him and also important memoranda. Unfortunately  these, with his uniform and sword, were destroyed in the fire which burned Mrs.  Fitzhugh’s dwelling at Sodus Point in 1846.

 

When Peregrine Fitzhugh came from Geneva, it was with quite an imposing  caravan, consisting of Pennsylvania wagons, twenty-seven horses and more than  thirty slaves; the entire number of the party being forty persons. In a few  years he bought a tract of land about a mile and a quarter west of the Bay and  liberating all of his slaves parceled it out among them. One writer said that nearly all of the Negroes in Western New York were descendants of the slaves of  Peregrine Fitzhugh and his brother, William, who settled further west in the  Genesee region.”

 

According to the 1974 Historic Sodus Bay Walking Tour, Colonel Fitzhugh also owned a brickyard located at the south end of Ontario Street.

 

In honor of Colonel Peregrine Fitzhugh, North and South Fitzhugh streets in Sodus Point were named after him.