7 Replies Latest reply on Nov 9, 2021 4:33 PM by Alice Lane

    Frederick von Weissenfels, Lt. Col. NY Levies Rev. War

    David Cazalet Wayfarer

      I am interested in any help you might provide to help with my research of Weissenfels. Specifically, I am interested in 1) finding a portrait, 2) How to find if he was a member of the Sons of Liberty, 3) Books and research about the period during which land warrants were issued to Rev. War Vets (speculation, winner and losers), NY back pay for NY Rev. Vets (apparently, Weissenfels was issued money to pay his former soldiers, some did not get paid), 4) locating his grave in New Orleans.

        • Re: Frederick von Weissenfels, Lt. Col. NY Levies Rev. War
          Joshua Mason Adventurer

          Good morning,


          Thank you for posting your question on History Hub!


          To answer your questions in order:


          1. Finding a portrait is going to be difficult as the National Archives and Records Administration does not record that type of information.  I would suggest that you contact the New York States Archives, the New York Historical Society, the New York State Society of the Cincinnati, or other New York Genealogical and Historical Societies to determine what they could have in their collections regarding a portrait of Frederick von Weissenfels.  The only other option would be to track his descendants down in the hopes that perhaps a family portrait exists and is in possession of a member of his family.


          2. As with finding a portrait, determining if he was a member of the Sons of Liberty will be difficult as well.  To my knowledge an official list of members of the Sons of Liberty does not exist.  I believe the best way to determine if he was a member would be to research the writings of known members of the New York faction (I don’t want to assume anything here but being that he lived in New York I doubt that he was a member of the Boston faction) to find if he was mentioned in whatever capacity regarding the Sons of Liberty.  These two websites were found listing members that might be helpful:



          You can try searching the National Archives Catalog, or Fold3 for digitized documents of the writings of the members listed.   


          3. For books and research on the period during which land warrants were issued to Revolutionary War Veterans I would suggest searching Amazon or Google for books on that topic.  To my knowledge, an in depth book does not exist on that but I could be wrong. 


          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service in the Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs (Record Group 15).  Some of these records have been digitized and are available online using the National Archives Catalog by clicking on the blue “search within this series” button.


          We also located Warrants Issued Under Act of July 9, 1788, ca. 1789 - ca. 1800; Warrants Issued Under Acts of March 3, 1803 and April 15, 1806, ca. 1803 - 1852?; and Revolutionary Warrants, ca. 1835 - ca. 1874 in the Records of the Bureau of Land Management (Record Group 49).  These records are not available digitally through the Catalog.


          For more information about these records and other records documenting military service during the American Revolution, see The American Revolution: Research our Records. 


          The majority of the Record Group 15 Case Files are available on Ancestry at U.S., Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900; on Fold3 at Revolutionary War Pensions; and on FamilySearch at United States Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications, 1800-1900. 


          Records from these three Record Group 49 series have been microfilmed as Microfilm Publication M829: U.S. Revolutionary War Bounty Land Warrants Used in the U.S. Military District of Ohio and Relating Papers (Acts of 1788, 1803, and 1806), 1788-1806.  This publication has been digitized and is available on Ancestry at U.S. War Bounty Land Warrants, 1789-1858. 


          Ancestry has small write up explaining the U.S., War Bounty Land Warrants, 1789-1858.


          4. In regards to back pay, we searched the National Archives Catalog and located Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774 - 1789, in the Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, 1765 - 1821 (Record Group 360).  Some of these records have been digitized and are available online using the National Archives Catalog by clicking on the blue “search within this series” button.  Specifically, Memorials Addressed to Congress, Petitions Addressed to Congress, and Letters from Colonels would be helpful to search.  You could also use Fold3 to search these records as well. 

          You should also contact the New York State Archives as if the State paid him back pay that would be a State record and there could be a record of that in their collections. 


          5. For locating his grave in New Orleans, the Federal Government does not ordinarily create or maintain birth, death, marriage or divorce records.  Such records are made and kept by state and local governments rather than the National Archives.


          The FamilySearch Research wiki for How to Find United States Vital Records may be helpful.  Please note that Ancestry is a subscription-based database, but it is available for free public use at all National Archives facilities and many public libraries.  FamilySearch is free but you have to create an account with them.  You can also try an online search for how to find a grave in New Orleans as there are several websites that can help users with this type of search.


          We also suggest that you review NARA’s Resources for Genealogists, as well as the History Hub Blog titled Suggestions and Advice for Family History ResearchersAlso, the FamilySearch Research wiki for United States Genealogy may be useful. 


          We hope this information is helpful and best of luck with your research!


          1 person found this helpful
          • Re: Frederick von Weissenfels, Lt. Col. NY Levies Rev. War
            Alice Lane Pioneer

            Hi David,

            Found the following two items for you. Hope they help

            Alice Lane

            Research Volunteer

            Found the following on this page>>>>The New York State Society of the Cincinnati (nycincinnati.org)

            Lt. Colonel Frederick Weissenfels, 4th New York Regiment

            Frederick Weissenfels (or Friedrich Heinrich, baron von Weissenfels) was born at Ebling, in the kingdom of West Prussia, in 1728, son of Ann Gotlieb de la Palm and George Emilius, baron von Weissenfels, son of Augustus, baron von Weissenfels (born in Saxony, 1633; d. Dresden, 1704), and Baroness von Hoënlow (spellings thus in genealogical manuscript). According to John Schuyler, Weissenfels trained as a cadet under Frederick the Great before joining the British service, and coming as a lieutenant in 1756 to North America. In the French and Indian War, Weissenfels was “at the taking of Havana, and served under General Abercrombie at the siege of Ticonderoga, in 1758, and on the Plains of Abraham, at Quebec, when General Wolfe fell at the moment of victory.”

            Weissenfels settled at Rye, Westchester County, New York, where he was a storekeeper, and ran a ferry service across Long Island Sound, to Oyster Bay. But he soon moved to Dutchess County, where there are records of his commercial activities. He became a naturalized citizen, 20 December 1763. From Rhinebeck, New York, with letters of transfer, Weissenfels was admitted 19 February 1768 to membership in the Reformed Dutch Church, City of New York. At the start of the Revolution, he offered his services to the Provincial Congress of New York, 6 June 1775, and was appointed 28 February 1776 a captain in the First New York Regiment, under Col. Alexander McDougall. Weissenfels served in the Canada campaign, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the regiment under Col. John Nicholson. When this unit was disbanded, Weissenfels was transferred to the Third New York Regiment, under Col. Rudolphus Ritzema, who later in the year went over to the British side; Weissenfels took command, and led the regiment at the Battle of White Plains, and during the retreat into New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

            In the arrangement of 21 November 1776, Weissenfels was appointed lieutenant colonel of the Second New York Regiment, under Col. Philip Van Cortlandt. Weissenfels served at Valley Forge. Upon the resignation of Col. Henry B. Livingston, as colonel of the Fourth New York Regiment, Weissenfels was transferred 13 January 1779 to that unit, as lieutenant colonel commandant. He was deranged 1 January 1781. Subsequently, Weissenfels served as lieutenant colonel commandant of a regiment of New York levies, raised 2 November 1781. He was an original member of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati. He was awarded New York State bounty land, 9 July 1790, of five lots, totaling 3000 acres, and the patent was delivered to “Himself.” He was an original member of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati.

            There are scattered records of postwar activities of Weissenfels. As of 10 November 1783 (when he placed an advertisement concerning a runaway servant) he was living in Manhattan, at No. 2 Fair Street (later named Fulton Street). He evidently was involved in financial hardships, from at least 1794, when the Society began to make donations to him (according to John Schuyler, he refused to collect the half-pay that was due to him). In a request (dated at New York, 4 February 1795) for assistance, Weissenfels writes that his valuable land holdings were “swallowed up, in the Whirlpool of speculation by the unfortunate Mr. Platt for the Paultry sum of therty Pound, and I never Could, owing as I believe to his Embarrassments, recover my power of Attorney from him, (on the lender of the Monny)—although promissed to do so.” (See present article on Richard Platt.) As of 22 July 1795, Weissenfels was a resident of New York City, and working as a “gauger,” when he transferred to Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, of Albany, five lots in Onondaga County. In the census of 1800, Weissenfels appears as a resident of the City of New York, as a single householder (no other persons indicated in census return). Weissenfels is said to have been holder of “a minor police office” at New Orleans, Louisiana, when he died there, 14 May 1806.

            Frederick Weissenfels was twice married, and there were children of both marriages. He married (1) at Trinity Church, New York, 20 December 1756, Mary Shurman (New York marriage bond dated 16 December 1756). He married (2) at the Reformed Dutch Church of New Hackensack, Dutchess County, 26 March 1777, Elizabeth Williams, widow of Henry Bogart, with Philip Van Cortlandt as “groomsman.” She died in Washington, D.C., 20 April 1818, where she was living with her daughter Harriet (Mrs. John Martin Baker). Of the first marriage, the following eight children are recorded in various sources: Ann Weissenfels (b. 1757?); Charles Frederic Weissenfels (q.v., b. 24 July 1759); Catherine Mary Weissenfels (b. 28 Oct. 1761; md. John Elsworth); George Petrus Weissenfels (bpt. at Red Hook Lutheran Church, Dutchess Co., 27 May 1764; md. Maria Leaycraft); Johannes Weissenfels (bpt. at Reformed Dutch Church, New York, 29 March 1767); Wilhelm Henrich Weissenfels (bpt. at Reformed Dutch Church, New York, 7 January 1770); Mary Charlotte Weissenfels (bpt. at Reformed Dutch Church, New York, 8 November 1772; md. John Salter, of Morris Co., N.J., and had issue); and Elizabetha Anna Weissenfels (bpt. at Reformed Dutch Church, New York, 3 March 1775; md. Mr. Rigal). Of the second marriage was born Harriet Weissenfels (md. John Martin Baker, of Washington, D.C.). There is also mention (by John Schuyler) of a son Frederick Weissenfels (d. 1798, at Alexandria, Virginia, of yellow fever).

            Found the following on this page>>>>Faces of Revolution: Portraits from the War for Independence - The American Revolution Institute

            Frederick Weissenfels

            ca. 1770-1775

            Gift of David Charles Becker, New York State Society of the Cincinnati, 1990

            This watercolor portrait miniature was painted for Frederick Weissenfels' first wife, Mary, before he left home for the Revolutionary War. A native of West Prussia and veteran of the Seven Years' War, Weissenfels rose through the ranks of the New York Continental Line to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

            Frederick Weissenfels portrait miniature, ca. 1770-1775

            1 person found this helpful
              • Re: Frederick von Weissenfels, Lt. Col. NY Levies Rev. War
                David Cazalet Wayfarer

                Thank you, Alice! I never expected to find a likeness of Col. Weissenfels. The information identifying Mr. Pratt would also welcome. Weissenfels wrote to Washington at least twice asking for help in obtaining a government job. In response to the first request, Washington urged him to contact New York authorities to help him with a job, but in the second instance, Washington, against his personal policy, wrote urging the federal government to give Weissenfels the first available patronage job. He followed his son, Charles, who died, as inspector of Spirits in New York harbor. According to Weissenfels, it was his unit of the New York Levies that turned the tide at Monmouth Courthouse by a bayonet change against the British after Washington had relieved Charles Lee of command. He was a terrible civilian and a great soldier.

                • Re: Frederick von Weissenfels, Lt. Col. NY Levies Rev. War
                  David Cazalet Wayfarer


                  By the way, I believe the article you provided was from Wikipedia. I wrote the majority of it, but thank you for all your help. The picture was a fabulous find!!!

                • Re: Frederick von Weissenfels, Lt. Col. NY Levies Rev. War
                  David Cazalet Wayfarer

                  Everyone was so helpful in assisting me with my study of Lt. Col. Frederick Weissenfels of the New York Levies during the American Revolution. Alice was even able to find a painting of the man. I never thought I would find one. It occurs to me that two of his sons also served, sometimes with him, during the war.

                  The first was named Charles Frederick Weissenfels, His service record between 1775 and 1783 was:

                  Ensign in Nicholson's Continental Regiment, July, 1776;

                  2d Lieutenant 2d New York, 21st November, 1776;

                  1st Lieutenant, 1st September, 1778;

                  Regimental Quartermaster, 4th October, 1779;

                  and served to June, 1783.

                  He died early in 1795, probably of yellow fever. He was a member of the Society of Cincinnati. His father got his job as tax collector for liquor in New York Harbor after he passed at the urging of George Washington.

                  The second and younger son was George Peter Weissenfels. He began serving in the Revolution as a fifer in his father's units and eventually became a Lieutenant. He also died young before 1806.

                  I wonder if there are any images of these two patriots?