by John A. Biles
from The Wyalusing Rocket, 1925
(Wyalusing, Bradford County, Pennsylvania)
A long list of Patriot mothers have been brought to the attention of the public and we desire to add another name to that honored group of women, who did their part in the struggle for our national independence and have left descendants who honor and respect them for their enduring services.
Phoebe Winans Place was the daughter of Adjutant Jacob Winans. She was a woman of small stature, silken hair, blue eyes and a resolute... and constitution of iron. She was born at or near Perth Amboy, New Jersey on the 15th of December 1758. Her mother was Rebecca Clark, the first of the five wives of the said Adj't Jacob Winans, all of whom he pronounced excellent women, and very agreeable companions. We have heard the list named as Rebeccah Clark, Rebeccah Connet, Jemina Rae, Mamie Gray and Hannah DeLong. The first two wives had five or six children, the second wife, three; the fourth, one and the fifth had no children. The father was a tall man of genteel mien, wore a cocked hat, a que, a swallow tailed coat, vest, knee pants, and stockings, and low shoes with silver buckles. He early entered the service of the Revolutionary War with four sons. The eldest son, Jacob, Jr., was captured early in the war and died of starvation on a prison ship in New York harbor. His youngest brother, the only child of wife number four, born in 1777, was named after his deceased brother and called little Jacob or Jacob 2nd. Clark Winans, a brother, who served, passed up this river in 1788 (and) settled at Big Flats, near Elmira. I will not trace the brothers, ...am and Isaac, the other two who served.
As soon as the British invaded New York, Jacob Winans removed his family to a cabin in Monroe County, Pa. Your scribe beheld the foundation of this cabin, still known as the "Phoebe Winans Cabin," in 1883 It was here that she mothered the younger children of her father, while he was a widower and away in service. She often heard the distant howl of the wolves along the foot hills of the Pocono and Minisink Mountains. She witnessed the destruction, resulting from Indian raids and saw some of the dead they slaughtered. She stood guard many nights to protect her brood of children and one stormy night a colored scout sent from Depew's fort tapped on the window and told her that the Indians were skulking in the foot hills, and that she must secrete the family in the swamp until day break, and then hasten to the fort. She quietly dressed the children in the dark, took along blankets, hid them in the thicket of the swamp, stood guard and at the first peep of day, hastened to the fort with them.
Near the close of the war she married a soldier boy, James Place, or LaPlace as some claim them to be of French extraction. He also had a brother or two in the service. Few women can show an equal military record with Phoebe Winans Place, for besides her own labors, her father, husband, four brothers, besides brothers-in-law and cousins did Revolutionary war service. Her people were pioneers and many of her descendants settled in the Susquehanna Valley. Our county, township and boro will show many names of her family. The Winans family of Meshoppen descend from her half-brothers. The Loves, Ellises and Lotts from her Place nieces, and if you will allow us we will briefly out line her very numerous descendants.
Phoebe Winans and James Place, sr., had eleven children, all lived to marry and leave children. However, the youngest son, George, died at the age of 22 years, leaving a child who died without issue. The remaining ten children produced to her credit, a hundred and fifteen grand children, of the next generation we have gathered over seven hundred names, with several families incomplete.
Several of her sons had military records as will later appear. Her eldest son, Jacob Place, served in the War of 1812, came home sick and died on January 27, 1816, and was buried on the 29th day of that month, the day your scribe's father was born, hence his name Jacob Place Biles, named for his mother's eldest brother, and Jacob's daughter, Eliza Place, was the wife of Jacob Frutchey, of Sugar Run, Pa. Their descendants are all about us.
This son, Jacob, resided near and is buried at Coolbaugh's Cemetery, in Monroe County, Pa. The second son, William, resided and was buried at The Neck, Wyoming County, Pa. His daughter, Mary, was the mother of our late townsman, S S. Butts, whom we all knew. The third son, Captain James Place, Jr., died in West Terry and his remains rest in your Old White Church Cemetery, near the R. R. station. He, in 1833, moved into the Old Heckwelder house near the railroad station and remained there about a dozen years. A son was born there in 1835 and still lives at Russell Hill, and expects to be at the Biles reunion at D. A. Hillis' home on August 20, 1925. He is Stephen H. Place and is in his 90 year. Another son of James, Jr., Jacob Place by name, the father of the late Ellen Frutchey of Homets Ferry, rests at his father's side in your cemetery. Many of his descendants are among us.
The fourth son, Captain John Place, lived on the old Bunnell Homestead in Monroe County, and is buried at Coolbaugh's church. His daughters, Rebeccah and Hester were the wives of Maddison Decker and Jacob Kerrick respectively of Asylum township, Bradford County, Pa.
The fifth son, Captain Isaac Place, lived in our county, but went to Ohio. The wife of E. H. Capwell and the Jacob Kinney family descend from him. The eldest daughter, Rebeccah Place, married Robert Biles a brother of Alexander P. Biles, and the South Towanda Biles family are his descendants.
The second married, Benjamin Jennings, spent their latter days on the Tom Brown farm and are buried at Lime Hill. They have many descendants. Their second daughter, Rosannah Place, was the wife of Alexander P. Biles and their descendants are legion of the Biles Reunion Clan. Mary the third daughter, was the wife of John Bunnell, late of Tunkhannock. The P. Biles and the Gilbert Chamberlain families are from this branch of the Place family.
Eleanor Place, the next, married Solomon Bunnell, a brother of John and your townswoman, Marjorie Bunnell Everest is of this line. Ann the youngest daughter, was the wife of Joseph Harmon, and the mother of Mrs. Rhoda Ackaroid (Mrs. George) of our town, also Mrs. Mary Stalford, wife of Joseph, of Wilmot township.
Many of the descendants of Phoebe Winans served in the State Militia and in the Civil War 1861-65. Also a large number were in the World War 1914-18 and not a few "Gold Star Mothers" are on record among her progeny in both the Civil War and the World War.
Adj't Jacob Winans served in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He owned a valuable property in New Jersey, a residence and a mill, all of which the British burned before he came to Monroe County, Pennsylvania. He never received compensation for his loss and spent his latter days among his children. He went to Ohio in 1807 where he died in May, 1810, aged 84 years and 4 days.
James Place, Sr., the husband of Phoebe Winans, became well off in Monroe County, where he died in 1826. His widow spent her latter days with he daughter, Roshannah on the Tom Biles place, where she died May 9, 1845 in her 87th year. She was buried in the old Vaughan Hill Cemetery on the Lill Vaughan farm and was removed in June 1882 to the Biles Cemetery on the farm of the writer where her tombstone stands next to her daughter, Rosannah and her husband, Alexander P. Biles. When removed to the Biles Cemetery the hair of Phoebe Winans was well preserved and held together in a firm knot by an old-fashioned decorated, high-backed, clouded horn comb, which was scarcely soiled after 37 years in a tomb.
The writer has in his possession the papers of the final settlement of the estate of James Place, Sr. and accounts of his widow, Phoebe Winans Place. May their ashes rest in peace.
Compiled by JOHN A. BILES
A great Grandson of James & Phoebe Place.
1. As of this date, April 25, 2000, the Wyalusing Rocket is published weekly in Wyalusing, Bradford County, Pennsylvania..
2. The precise date of the newspaper article is not recorded on my copy. It is only identified as 1925.
Transcribed by Richard J. McCracken; Towanda, PA, 5th great grandson of Jacob Place & Phoebe Winans.