FOX19 Morning Anchor Sheila Gray has an important connection to the American Revolution through her grandmother, Leonore Abele Slyh.
In the winter which began in 1777, General George Washington's battle-worn army was down from 20,000 soldiers to just 5,000 when he set up winter camp at Valley Forge.
Most of his army was ready to go home at the end of their enlistments and the Continental Congress had no money to pay them.
So a call went out to Pennsylvania landowners to help Washington & the rebels keep up the fight for independence.
According to the published history of the DeHaven Family, one of the most generous of those landowners was Jacob DeHaven.
He fronted Washington about $450,000 worth of gold and supplies.
When the war was over, family legend says the new Congress tried to repay DeHaven with continental currency which was widely considered worthless.
DeHaven declined, saying he wanted repayment in gold.
He never got it and died a poor man.
DeHaven didn't have any direct descendants, but his brothers Samuel and Peter did.
Sheila's grandmas great grandmother, Margaret DeHaven was one of them.
Over the years, the hundreds of DeHaven descendants have sought repayment of the war loan, starting before the Civil War and as recently a 1988, when the original amount plus interest was figured to be more than $140 billion.
Sheila would have a claim in that but all efforts have stalled in Congress and the federal courts.
Would George Washington have crossed the Delaware River or won the Revolution without the support of DeHaven? We'll never know.
But the General himself described it as a debt of honor, one which will likely forever go unpaid but it remains a source of pride for America's collateral heirs of Jacob DeHaven.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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