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The First American Spy?
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By Member James Delawder
September 22, 2021

A number of years ago, I responded with the Brewster Fire Department to a call of a possible drowning and a missing person. it was around dusk. The call came in from somebody who saw a rowboat floating empty in the Middle Branch Reservoir. Proceeding on Maple Road we passed Enoch Crosby Road. The name whetted my curiosity.
Enoch Crosby was the original "Harvey Birch", the hero of James Fennimore Cooper's famous novel "The Spy". Enoch was born in Massachusetts on January 4th, 1750. His father settled on a farm in Carmel, New York. Enoch settled in the Town of Southeast in 1762 as a shoemaker. At the age of 27, he traveled south into Westchester to enlist with the American rebels. However, he fell in with a Tory who supposed Enoch was a Tory. He advised Enoch how to avoid rebel dangers by joining a company which was going to fight with the British against the rebels. Crosby accepted the invitation. After three days, he claimed to be too impatient to wait and left on his own, He informed the Americans and the entire Tory gang was rounded up. At that point he decided to serve his country as an undercover agent. He received a special pass which he was directed never to show except in dire emergency.
He joined another Tory company that was forming and gave information that lead to the arrest of the whole company including Crosby. Somehow he was the only person to escape a few days later. He did this several times miraculously escaping his captors. Once some American soldiers recognized him, captured him and were about to execute him until he showed his pass. Eventually the Tories guessed that, because he had so many incredulous escapes from captivity, that he must be a spy. A shot from the British grazed his neck. While recovering from the gunshot, ruffians beat him and left him for dead. Neighbors pursued the ruffians and overtook them on the banks of the Croton River. Some of the ruffians were shot and some drowned. After his recovery he joined the army again and continued his service until the end of the war..
After the revolution, Enoch Crosby purchased a farm on the west side of the Tilly Foster Iron Mine. He lived there until the end of his life, June 26,1835. The road he lived on is called Enoch Crosby Road. He is probably the first American spy.
After a couple of hours, the fire call ended when it was determined that there was no drowning and the missing person returned home. It was only a row boat that somehow got loose and was floating in the reservoir.


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