A Stranger in the Cemetery
by Lanaii Kline
There is a gravestone in the Stoutenburgh family cemetery in Hyde Park, New York that doesn’t seem to be a relative of that family. The deceased is Joseph Teel. So I began the quest to figure out who this person is and why he is buried in this cemetery. This is what I know:
He married Elizabeth Searle at Stoneham, Massachusetts on November 12, 1767 by Rev. John Searl. He was living in Medford, Massachusetts and she was living in Stoneham. Rev. Searl was the minster in Stoneham and apparently took his records with him when he was dismissed so I haven’t found any information for Elizabeth Searle.
I did find a 1919 Rhinebeck, New York newspaper article that mentioned him. The article is titled, “The last Survivors of the Revolutionary Pensions in Dutchess County,” by George S. Van Vliet. Apparently the 1840 US Census identified all the living pensioners of the Revolutionary War or surviving widows. Joseph Teel’s name is included in the list. He was 95 in 1840 and living in Hyde Park.
The article indicated that he was a captain who fought at Bunker’s (sic) Hill, was in the Massachusetts line, and was present at the surrender of General Burgoyne.
It said that Joseph Teel was an elder at the Hyde Park Reformed Church for many years. He died at the age of 98 in Hyde Park, February 14, 1843. The article also indicates that he was buried in the Stoughtenburg (sic) burying ground in Hyde Park.
The following is taken from Pages 406-407, Commemorative Biographical Record of the Counties of Dutchess and Putnam, New York.
This book also claimed that he was a captain in the Revolutionary War. I suspect that the writer of the newspaper article in 1919 obtained that information from this book.
Joseph Teel and his wife, Elizabeth Searle, had a daughter, their only child. She was known as Elizabeth Dunbar Teel and married Cyrus Braman on December 25, 1793. She died at Hyde Park on December 4, 1801. Joseph Teel apparently continued a close relationship with his son-in-law as he died at Cyrus Braman’s home. (A Census of pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services with Their Names, Ages, and Places of Residence, Returned by the Marshals of the Several Judicial Districts under the Act for Taking the Sixth Census, Page 105.)
Cyrus was born in Norwich, Connecticut on November 28, 1766 and died at Hyde Park, October 10, 1850 at his son-in-law’s home.
Joseph Teel purchased property at Rhinebeck in 1786. He apparently moved to Dutchess County about that time. His daughter and son-in-law were living in Norwich, Connecticut at the time but moved to Hyde Park around 1799 as Cyrus and his wife purchased property in Hyde Park from Phineas Eames November, 1799.
Cyrus and Elizabeth had four children: Joseph Teel Braman, Elizabeth Dunbar Teel Braman, John Adams Braman, and Cassandana Braman. The sons never married and Cassandana died 8 days after her mother at age 14 months. Elizabeth Dunbar Teel Braman married John Church of Yates County, New York.
There is conflicting information about Joseph Teel.
I found a house in Norwich, Connecticut named the Teel House. It was built as a hotel in 1789 and completed in 1790 by Joseph Teel of Preston. Both Norwich and Preston are communities in New London County, Connecticut. History of Norwich, Connecticut, from Its Possession by the Indians to the Year 1855, Page 535, says that Joseph Teel died and the hotel was run by his son-in-law, Cyrus Bramin, who put it up for sale in 1797. That house is currently for sale for $330,000.
It looks like Joseph moved to Rhinebeck in 1796 and his son-in-law was given the task of disposing of the property.
Then I found Joseph Teel’s application for a pension as a Revolutionary War soldier. The application claims that he was born April 4, 1745 in Charlestown, Massachusetts. It also indicated that he was not a captain. He served under three different Massachusetts regiments during the war. He was a private and was elevated to that of a guard in the last regiment he served. Richard DeCantillon Stoutenburgh represented Joseph Teel in his application for a pension in 1832.
Cyrus Braman married Ruth Hitt after Elizabeth Dunbar Teel died. I looked at their offspring to see if I could find a connection to the Stoutenburgh family. I did not find any connection but I did note that their son, Samuel Hitt Braman, married Helen Van Vliet. The article in The Rhinebeck Gazette to which I reference above was written by George S. Van Vliet.
As it turns out, George S. Van Vliet is the first cousin once removed to Helen Van Vliet, wife of Samuel Hitt Braman. George included notes regarding some of the names in the 1840 list of pensioners. As I was piecing together the Braman and Teel families, I noted that several of the names for which notes were added also appeared in the Commemorative Biographical Record referenced above.
At this point, I think that Joseph Teel is buried in our cemetery because of his or the Braman family’s friendship to the Stoutenburgh family. Cyrus Braman’s property was between that of Dr. Bard’s property and that of the Stoutenburgh family’s property.