The Anna Smith Strong Chapter was named for a courageous member of the celebrated Culper Spy Ring, based in Setauket, Long Island, New York, during the American Revolution. The chapter name proudly commemorates the role of Anna Smith Strong.
Anna Smith Strong (1740 - 1812) was the loving wife of the Honorable Judge Selah Strong, III. The Strong family lived on the north shore of Long Island, New York, now known as Strong's Neck. Their family farm extended to the Devil's Belt, today known as Long Island Sound.
Anna's husband was imprisoned during the Revolution for "surreptitious correspondence with the enemy," confined to the Jersey, a British prison ship, in 1778. During her husband's imprisonment, it is believed Anna would bring him food and through her family connections was able to negotiate Judge Strong's release. It is believed that after his release, Judge Strong went to Connecticut.
Anna stayed alone on the family farm during the Revolution, where she quietly assisted with General Washington's Culper Spy Ring. It is Long Island folklore that Anna's assignment was to signal the arrival of Caleb Brewster, who would row periodically across the Devil's Belt to retrieve the spy ring's messages. Anna accomplished this signaling by means of a homespun device that fooled all wisdom with its simplicity.
Anna would take her laundry out to the tip of Strong's Neck and hang her black petticoat along with handkerchiefs scattered throughout her wash. This was a signal to chief spy Abraham Woodhull. By counting the white handkerchiefs, Woodhull knew that Caleb Brewster, a blacksmith and boatman, was in town. The number of handkerchiefs would indicate which of the six coves Caleb's boat was hidden in. Abraham then contacted Caleb in order to pass along the secret messages he received from another spy ring member, Robert Townsend.
Townsend's messages were brought to Woodhull by a Setauket tavern owner and horseman, Austin Roe, who rode at least weekly to New York City for supplies. After adding his own observations, Woodhull passed the messages to Brewster.
At night after retrieving the intelligence report, Brewster would row past British guard boats and cross the Devil's Belt to Connecticut. There, Brewster kept crews and boats for the cross-sound relay. From Fairfield, a courier on a fast horse would take the report to Major Benjamin Tallmadge, who would then hand it to the first of a series of riders stationed fifteen miles apart on the route to wherever General Washington's headquarters happened to be.
Anna and her husband were reunited after the war. She is buried on Strong's Neck in the family cemetery.
"GOD ~ HOME ~ COUNTRY"
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women's service organization, founded in Washington, D.C., on October 11, 1890, incorporated by an act of Congress in 1896. Our mission is to promote historic preservation, education, and patriotism. Any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution, is eligible for membership.
To learn more about the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution please visit our web site at www.dar.org, or contact our chapter via our guestbook page.
Mrs. Merry Ann Thompson Wright
New York State Regent
Mrs. Denise Doring VanBuren
Districts X & XI Director
Ms. Sally Boggan