The poem below was written and posted last year at this time
A Toast to the First and the Fourth of July
for David Van Every (1757-1820)
©July 2009 - John Newmark
For two years my fourth great fought
for the creation of our nation
then in seventeen seventy seven
he deemed his disloyalty a disservice
and joined the other side.
Finally, he and his family fled to Canada.
His motivations are unrecorded.
Beyond his appearance on muster rolls,
a few brief mentions elsewhere,
we have nothing. No inkling
of the wherefores behind his decision
either in seventy five, or seventy seven.
In July’s opening barrage
of national celebrations
I honor both of his decisions -
whatever the reasons, and his willingness
to fight for what he believed
even when those beliefs changed.
This poem was based on information I'd found on the web, citing The Records of the Van Every Family, by Mary Blackadar Piersol, 1947.
After writing this poem, I discovered the muster rolls for David Van Every on Footnote.com that put the information somewhat in doubt.
The link above is to the records on Footnote. Their Revolutionary War records are FREE access through July 7th.
The muster rolls suggest he enlisted on July 4, 1775, and deserted on Sept 12 (or Sept / 2) 1775. And re-enlisted on May 23, 1777, and redeserted in June of 1777. So in total it would have been for three months, not two years.
Also, since writing the poem, I obtained a copy of The Records of the Van Every Family, by Mary Blackadar Piersol. She only mentions David joining and deserting in 1777. So she didn't know about the 1775 muster roll. Somebody else must have found documentation that he joined in 1775, and an incorrect interpretation was made that he remained in service between 1775 and 1777.
It's impossible to assign motivation to the enlistments and desertions. David was 18 and 20 years old in 1775 and 1777. He may have just been a very confused young man. The first line of the poem might not be accurate, but the gist of the poem still is.