A brave 12 year old in Monroe NY – a story from 1782

There is a street near me, in Monroe NY, called Reynolds Street.  And next to a home on the street, there’s a little sign that says “Outlaws attacked and attempted to murder patriot Henry Reynolds, who was saved by the heroics of his daughter Phoebe *, circa 1782,”

So that sounds kind of impressive, right?  A female saved her dad from outlaws in the late 1700’s.

reynolds houseBut what REALLY happened?  Once you hear the story, you will be even more impressed.

Pheobe was one of many children who were residing in the Reynolds’ Monroe NY home during the time when Claudius Smith’s outlaws were wreaking havoc on that region of the country.  Claudius was a guerilla leader during the American Revolution.

One night, Claudius’ gang surrounded the Reynolds’ home in order to gain entry, but they realized the doors and windows were bolted. They then tried to gain access through the roof and two or three men dropped into the chimney, but someone inside the cabin put feather bed contents on the fire, and the robbers had to retreat so they would not suffocate.  They left.

On a different day, the outlaws tried again.  A few of the Reynolds neighbors (who were in on the plan) came to the door and knocked for admission.  Reynolds let them in, and went to the fireplace to get a light. While his back was turned, one of his neighbors struck him with a sword and told him he better leave immediately.  Reynolds rushed out the door but stumbled and fell face down.  The gang fell upon him and dragged him into the house. 

As his struggle with the outlaws began, Reynolds called for his young son to come help.  When his son entered the room, one of the men told the young boy that he had to sit totally motionless or he would get his head cut off.  The boy sat totally still.  Mr. Reyholds’ wife then entered the room with other children, but fell on the floor unconscious once she saw what was happened.

The outlaws then bound Reynolds and cut him with knives and swords, and proceeded to hang him on the “trammel pole” of the fierplace.  The outlaws then started ransacking the cabin, leaving Reynolds to die.

They didn’t count on Phoebe.  12 year old Phoebe Reynolds was fearless, growing up in border life.  When the outlaws left the room, Phoebe cut the rope that hung her father and laid him on the bed.  The outlaws came in, and Pheobe threatened them with her knife.  They told her they would kill her if she didn’t leave, but she said she didn’t want to live without her father.  They threatened her with knives and swords, but she stood her ground.  She clasped her hands around her father to shield him from their weapons.  One of the men beat Phoebe with a rope but she did not cry or moan, even though her body was covered with welts.  The outlaws then tore her away and hung Mr. Reynolds once more.

When they left the room, Phoebe cut her father down again, but he sank to the floor.  The outlaws came and attacked him again, and again, Phoebe threw herself on him and tried to protect him.  She was saturated with blood.  The outlaws finally took Reynolds and threw him in a chest.  They left, after setting the house on fire and blocking the door.

Phoebe opened the chest and saw her father, who looked dead.  They lifted the body from the chest, and he moaned, so Phoebe pried his lips apart and gave him a few drops of water and stopped the blood that was flowing from his body.  The girl then threw water on the burning beds and covered the burning flax with a rug to put out that fire as well.

Phoebe then directed her brother to alarm the neighborhood, but he was afraid and didn’t.  So Phoebe, who was covered with cuts, spread the alarm to all the homes.  A group of men immediately assembled and chased the outlaws.  The men were able to kill the leader of the local gang and three or four other men.  At the same time, the town doctor attended to Reynolds, who had been stabbed in more than 30 places.  Reynolds eventually returned to health.

When Phoebe returned home, the doctors realized she was very seriously injured, but they were also able to successfully treat her injuries.

After the events, Henry Renolds moved to a different county.  Phoebe lived until November 1853.  One hundred years after the marriage of Henry Reynolds, it was estimated Reynolds had more than one thousand descendants.

Now isn’t that a story of bravery in the face of adversity?



*Note:  While the official plaque indicates the daughter’s name was Phoebe, and that’s the spelling I used above, various other sources including the NY Times indicate her name was actually spelled Phebe.  A search for information by the second spelling will result in many more articles.


13 thoughts on “A brave 12 year old in Monroe NY – a story from 1782

  1. Phoebes father, Henry Reynolds is my Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather , thus my Grandfathers, my and my sons middle names.

  2. Jeffrey provided this information previously:

    From: Jeffrey Reynolds Spiers
    February 24, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Henry Reynolds 1742-1827
    Mary Fowler 1743-1825
    Phebe b. 1770 d. 11/21/1853
    Twins: Catherine & Martha

    Perhaps you can communicate directly via email with Jeffrey for more information.

  3. I am a Reynolds that lived in Monroe from 1965 – 1977. My Grandfather was Patrick Joseph Reynolds from Ireland. Came to states and lived in Tuckahoe, NY, where my father Joseph A. Reynolds was born. My mother & father started a family in Yonkers, NY where I was born, then we moved out to Monroe, NY. I find the story fascinating too and quiescence that there was a Reynolds living in Monroe back in the 1700’s. I would’t be surprised if we were not related somehow Jeffrey. Here is my e-mail: tigger_200012@yahoo.com

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