John & Catherine (Harris) Comfort

The following comes from Comfort Families of America by Cecelia and Roland Botting (pps. 328/9 & 621):

As a youth, John was probably part of a group of young men known as Night Walkers, who would turn loose horses of young men who were visiting girls. One young man thought that he would avoid this by tying his horse near a window and leaving the window open so that he could keep his arm through the bridle rein. When ready to leave, he found that he was holding only the empty bridle. One night, however, John had to go home through lonely woods. He thought that he heard a sound like tramping feet, which accompanied him all the way home. He thought it supernatural and was so frightened that he quit the Night Walkers entirely.

Among his Canadian descendants, the tradition is that he served with the British forces during the Revolution; the American tradition is that he, like all his brothers except Daniel, fought on the American side. Both are probably correct, though he appears never to have been a very thoroughly convinced supporter of the Americans. He joined them early in the war, perhaps under some pressure, but eventually returned to his original allegiance. His father was fined 11 pounds, 15 shillings, 6 pence in the Hanover Assessment on Tories whose sons were supposed to have gone to the enemy.

At the time of the Revolutionary War in the United States, John resided with his wife and two or three children upon a farm on Long Island. He was an officer in the Colonial militia at the time and consequently had probably been living in the country for some time in order to have attained such rank. His father and mother were living in the country at the time, as well as at least one brother and one sister, with a possibility of other relatives. As nothing is known as to the time his parents came to the country, there is a possibility that he may have been born in America.

During the war, he served with his regiment, his wife living at home with her children and during a portion of the time whilst the American Army was near fearing greatly an element who were hangers-on of that army. In fact, often going with her children to the woods at night, fearing less the wild animals which were quite plentiful then than these lawless raiders.

At the conclusion of the war they left the country as soon as possible going to Nova Scotia, to a little place on the southwestern tip of the province called Sandy Cove. They had a very tempestuous voyage, being six weeks out of sight of land. Among the wonders of the deep they saw on their journey were mermaids disporting themselves on the rocky shore and combing their long and abundant tresses. At length, they reached the Bay of Fundy with the storm still continuing and they were being driven upon a rocky shore. The Captain was drunk and refused to let the anchor be lowered. The crew was on the point of mutiny when he finally gave his consent and they were saved from shipwreck. Having settled at Sandy Cove, they found the soil so poor it was almost impossible to eke out an existence. After some years, when bitter feelings had somewhat moderated, relatives in the United Stated induced him to return. He did so, settling near Newburgh in Orange County, where he continued to reside until just previous to the War of 1812.

He was of rather quick temper in political matters, and one day on his way home with his wife from market at Newburgh, he stopped to water his horses at a wayside tavern and managed to get into an argument with some of the loungers there with whom he differed strongly in his political views. Finally, the argument became so hot that he jumped into his wagon and ran his horses away from the place, being followed with the stronger arguments of rifle shots from his opponents. Within three days, he had sold his property and was on his way to Canada, crossing the Niagara River just a few days before the lines were closed. His first act on stepping from the boat on land was to throw his hat in the air and yell, “Three cheers for King George!” He settled in Clinton Township, on what was known as the Fly Road, about a mile south of the Mountain.

——-

John and Catherine (Harris) Comfort had the following children: baby boy who died in infancy, Hannah, Catherine, Elizabeth, Suzanna, John Harris, Jane, Francis, Nancy (my great-great-great grandmother), Stephen and Mary.

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