Here’s a story that Francis Libby probably repeatedly told his children. While he was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, he rowed General George Washington across the Hudson River and back. He received a drink of liquor for his service.
Francis Libby, whose grandfather, John Libby had come to America in 1637, wasn’t very old when he partook of high spirits. He enlisted in the army in December 1776 at age 15 and served for three years.
Lest we forget, drinking was rampant during the Revolutionary War, even among what would now be considered underaged consumers. In fact, fifteen was considered old enough to drink back then. Drinking while on duty was aided and abetted by the Continental Congress, which voted supplies of distilled beverages for the army.
A majority in Congress thought liquor might help soldiers deal with the danger of war. Most colonists thought that a stiff drink was good for what ails you, not a pathway to addiction. Yet the average colonist may have consumed as much as 6 gallons of acoholic beverages annually, compared to the 2.2 gallons a year downed by Americans today. There were a lot of drunks in the old days.
Unfortunately, it was hard to find a drink. The commerce of the colonies had been cut off due to the war; it had lost access to foreign beer, wine, and rum. Domestic farmers stepped up their whisky production in a valiant attempt to “fill the void.” But they used so much grain to make distilled beverages, grain that might have otherwise have fed people, there was a modicum of concern that the Revolutionary forces might not have enough to eat.
We’ll probably never know whether Libby’s early taste of liquor resulted in a life-long addiction. But we do know this — many years later, Libby’s service in the Revolutionary War netted him a 200-acre land grant in Buxton, Maine, on May 29, 1835. He was one of many people who applied after the fact for a bounty, though not all of the people who applied actually served in the war.
It looks like a Francis Libby served in several war regiments, often with a family member. He is listed as a private in Captain Mayberry’s company within Colonel Benjamin Tupper’s regiment. He also shows up in Captain Roger Libby’s company, under Colonel Reuben Fogg’s (3rd Cumberland co. ) This company was a real family affair — another Libby was listed as ensign.
After the war, Francis lived with his father, Peter Libby, for almost 10 years. Francis, who was born in Scarborough on March 17, 1761, married his first wife Lucy Moulton on March 18, 1784, according to The Libby Family in America, an indespensible genealogical guide.
Francis and his wife later settled in Buxton, Maine, on a farm of 100 acres that he purchased from Captain Daniel Eldridge. There was a house on the property that his family occupied until 1800, when he built a new one. He lived there until he died on January, 24, 1847.
Lucy, the mother of his children, died on 21 Aug. 1819. Four years later, Libby married a second wife, Dorcas, the widow of Mattew Higgins, on September 23rd, 1823. She was the daughter of Lydia (Libby) Plummer. She died 9 Jan. 1851.