Author Archives: Michael DeBonis

About Michael DeBonis

Michael Mauro DeBonis is a poet and a historian from Long Island, NY. His previous work has appeared in The Village Beacon Record and The Brookhaven Times Newspapers. Mr. DeBonis is a graduate of both SUNY Stony Brook and Suffolk County Community College. He is dedicated to learning and to studying the amazing history of New York State.

Long Island’s Austin Roe: American Spy

By on


Austin RoeOur story begins in late April of 1790. A former general and spymaster is traveling a dusty and remote country road through sparsely settled Long Island to a small seaside fishing village called Setauket.

The former military man and espionage leader was the highest-ranking officer in the Continental Army. He travels with a small retinue of armed soldiers and cavalry officers. As the chief magistrate of his government, President Washington is too important to his nation and his people to fall into enemy hands. Continue reading

Culper Spies: Curse of the Black Letter

By on


Col Jacob Griffin portraitI was researching the biography of Dutchess County Revolutionary War Militia Colonel Jacob Griffin. I was having a hard time of it.

By sheer accident I came upon an old historical text entitled New York in the Revolution, as Colony and State: Supplement. The book was compiled and written during the years 1895-1901, by a former New York State comptroller Erastus C. Knight (and others). It’s an incredibly detailed account of the New York State Assembly’s and Militia’s legal, financial and military policies, procedures and activities from the outset of the American Revolution in 1774 through its conclusion in late 1783. Continue reading

Boxer Carmen Basilio: Thunder from the North

By on


Carmen BasilioIn a stellar career which lasted thirteen years (1948-1961), Canastota boxing champion Carmen Basilio established himself as a multiple world title holder in two different weight classes, and he competed against some of the greatest fighters ever to step inside of a boxing ring: Kid Gavilan, Tony De Marco and Sugar Ray Robinson to name just a few.

Basilio endured truly humble beginnings (his family were poor onion farmers who lived in upstate New York) and long work hours to establish himself as a top-notch athlete. Continue reading

Dark Eagle: Was Colonel Jacob Griffin A Spy?

By on


Colonel Jacob Griffin portraitThe American Revolution forged a nation out of a place where none had existed previously, and in one of history’s truly shocking instances, a modern democracy had created itself and turned on its former master with stunning speed and resolution.

Colonel Jacob Griffin, a tavern keeper from Dutchess County at Fishkill, was a brazen and unflappable American Patriot. He had helped stir anti-British sentiment in 1775 by using his tavern to draft a formidable petition supporting the Continental Congress and openly maligning the Crown. The document demanded the Colonies’ separation from England and mustered 502 signatures.

In the late spring or early summer of 1775, he joined the Dutchess County (New York State) Militia as a Captain and would be promoted to Colonel before War’s end.   As a successful tavern owner Jacob Griffin rubbed elbows with the Continental Army’s elite – Steuben, Putnam, the Marquis de La Fayette and Washington. But is there more to Griffin’s role in the Revolutionary War?

Continue reading

A Ghost of American Patriot Colonel Jacob Griffin

By on


Griffins TavernHe is one of the great patriots of the American Revolution, and he is barely known outside of his native Dutchess County, New York.

Born in the Fishkill area ca. 1729-1730 (sources vary), Jacob Griffin was a staunch Yankee Presbyterian, who wanted a clear and a complete parting of the ways with King George III of England.

From the mid to the late 18th century the Thirteen Colonies of British North America experienced one huge wave of social upheaval after the other… the reasons of these societal changes being many and very subtly related to the other. Continue reading