Surprising French Connection
Chevalier d'Anterroches and Mary "Polly" Vanderpoel
|Julie d'Anterroches, wife of Warren Rogers--1839; |
daughter of Louis-Joseph d'Anterroches and Mary Vanderpoel
Henry Knox (1750-1806) was a military officer of the Continental Army and later the United States Army, and also served as the first United States Secretary of War. In 1787, he received a request from his former commander, General George Washington, to learn more about a particular Frenchman, whose “distressed” mother had written to Washington requesting assistance for her son who had come to America as a British soldier during the American Revolution.
Knox replied to Washington: New York 26th March 1787.
“I have attended my dear sir to your request respecting the Chevalier D'Anterroches and the following sketch is the result.
He is the son of a general officer in the French service, old and infirm; his uncle is the bishop of Condom [in southwestern France], rich, and miserly; besides which he is a relation of the Marquis de la Fayette. In the early part of his life, his father designed him for the church, and forced him to enter on studies necessary for the profession—as this business was his horror, he fled to England and enlisted as a soldier, but afterward became an officer, by what means does, not appear, but he came out to Canada with General John Burgoyne in the year 1776 or 1777, and was taken prisoner at Saratoga [New York].
On information that France had decidedly espoused the cause of America he [Chevalier D’Anterroches] left the service of England — whether he refused to be exchanged, resigned, or the precise means of leaving the British service, I cannot ascertain.
Some four or five years ago, he was at Chatham, Morris County [New Jersey], in the house of a Mr. Pool, where he fell sick—Mr. Pool [David Vanderpool] is a shoemaker, his daughter was extremely attentive to the sick chevalier, who testified his gratitude on his recovery by marrying her. Two or three children are the fruits of the marriage. He lives on a small farm near Elizabeth Town, and is in great distress, but is in constant expectation of being relieved by his [wealthy] relations. His character is unexceptionable, and he is spoken of as a deserving man.
My own opinion is that nothing could more effectually please him than placing him in the French service, but his wife and children seems to be an insuperable bar to that idea — perhaps were you to write to the Marquis de la Fayette a letter calculated for him to show to the persons of influence, the poor chevalier might obtain some office in the customs, in the islands, or vice consul of these states by which he might maintain his family. I know of nothing in the gift of the United States at present which would relieve him — were it practicable for him to enter the service in a military line, the payments are so deficient that his family would starve.
I am my dear sir
Your respectfully & affectionate friend and very humble servt [servant]
HKnox [Henry Knox]”
It may be through the interposition of President Washington's influence that Joseph-Louis D’Anterroches was made an adjutant general to the army commanded by General Henry Lee during the fall 1794 expedition to Western Pennsylvania in suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion.
Joseph-Louis, Chevalier d'Anterroches was born at the Chateau of Puydernac, near Tulle, Limousin, France, on August 25, 1753. His parents were Jean-Pierre, Count d'Anterroches, and Lady Jeanne Francoise Teissier de Charnac. On his mother's side he was related to General Lafayette.
Chevalier d'Anterroches married Mary “Polly” Vanderpoel [as some of the family spelled the surname], daughter of Captain David Vanderpoel (1735-1821), at the Presbyterian parsonage in South Hanover, New Jersey on January 30, 1780 by the Rev. Ebenezer Bradford. The wedding ceremony was quiet and simple and not the usual large festive gathering, precluded by the severity of the weather and the unsettled condition of the country. Later an elegant trousseau was sent to Polly by her in-laws. The simple ceremony was not considered a sufficient compliance with the marriage laws of France, so seven years later a second ceremony was performed, according the rites of the Roman Catholic Church in the chapel of the French Legation in New York City.
The Vanderpoel family’s version of the meeting and courtship of Mary (called Polly) Vanderpoel and the chevalier differs somewhat from Knox’s, but these details are independently unverifiable. Her father, David Vanderpoel, was a tanner and currier by trade, and a soldier in the New Jersey militia. The family claimed he was a captain. Her mother was Deborah Lane (1739-1820). In the Dutch custom, their surname often was shortened to v. d. Pool (or Poel) or to just Pool. Her father objected to their marriage — some say because he was French, perhaps a spy, a paroled prisoner of war at the time, and had been fighting on the British side, but more likely it was a religious objection, since the Vanderpoels were Protestants.
By 1784, with the American Revolution ended and peace restored, the d’Anterroches settled down in Elizabeth Town, New Jersey. Years later, on a visit to his aging parents, his father died, and before Joseph-Louis d’Anterroches could arrange affairs and get back to his wife and family in New Jersey, he died on 18 January 1814 — in his native land at the age of 60.
Mary “Polly” (Vanderpoel) d'Anterroches lived on in New Jersey and New York until 1844. When Lafayette revisited this country in 1824, she and her children were received at a private interview and embraced with the affection of a relative — as the children told their children.
They had 10 children, one of whom was Julie Francoise Gabrielle d’Anterroches (born in 1794) who married first Edward Griffith in 1811 and secondly, Warren Rogers in 1821. The 1839 watercolor-on-ivory portraits of Julie and Warren by the artist Theodore Lund (1810-1895) were donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York by the family.