Written by Bruce Farrington, Village of Sodus Point Historian 2015
These letters range from April 1780 until December 1807
Peregrine Fitzhugh enlisted in the Army of the Revolution at the age of 18 as a lieutenant of the Third Regiment of Dragoons of the Virginia Continental line and was soon promoted to Captain. He was captured at the Baylor Massacre at Old Tappan and was held prisoner for two years. All in all, he was lucky not to have been killed. General George Washington exchanged British Officers for him and others who were captured. Peregrine Fitzhugh would spend the last two years of the war as an aid-de-camp of General George Washington and be promoted to Colonel.
In this position, he became friends to both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In 1803 he moved to Troupville (now Sodus Point) and built a house on Sodus Bay Heights. He died on November 28, 1811. His wife Elizabeth (who was quite a bit younger) outlived him by 45 years. His wife would later live in a house that was the first house on the east side of North Ontario Street. As written in the Pioneer History of Sodus Point on Page 17, “The house she first occupied on the same spot burned down to the ground in 1846. While it was burning Mr. S. P. Johnson (owner of the Johnson House) ran upstairs and grasping the two ladies (Mrs. Fitzhugh and her invalid daughter), one under each arm, carried them down and out into safety”. They were saved but unfortunately the priceless letters to and from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were lost in the fire. Believed to be lost forever.
That was the situation until September 2015, when Rosa Fox (Town of Huron Historian) found a reference to a letter between George Washington and Peregrine Fitzhugh in the George Washington archives. Sharing this information with me, I soon discovered that a total of 4 letters between Washington and Fitzhugh and 10 letters between Jefferson and Fitzhugh were in the George Washington and Thomas Jefferson archives. Some of these letters between these correspondents still exist! Nobody had thoughts to look in their archives!
I am now in the process of documenting these letters to not only show the letters but where possible to give the historic background context so that the letters can be understood. This is another case of our history being “rediscovered” thanks to the power of search engines on the internet. This type of discovery would have been extremely unlikely just a few years ago before the widespread storage of information on the internet and the ability to find it.