War of 1812 letter intrigues local collector - Press-Republican: Local News

War of 1812 letter intrigues local collector

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 3:28 am

Philip J. Gordon still wonders who Luther Stuckwell was.

A Plattsburgh collector, Gordon learned of the Battle of Plattsburgh-era soldier in a letter that Stuckwell penned on Aug. 28, 1814, while in the Crab Island Hospital.

In the letter, Stuckwell writes:

“Dear Sir,

In my last I informed you that I was sick and in the hospital but want now inform you that I am convalescent, and ma getter better fast, and expect every day to return to my Duty. In my sickness I was very sick indeed and for a considerable part of the time very much Deranged.”

Apart that he was a soldier, Gordon has no clue to Stuckwell’s identity.

“I have a couple thousand local documents going back to late 1700s with names of tons of people,” said Gordon, a retired businessman whose enterprises included the locally famous Orange Julep on Margaret Street.

“I never came across that name. The letter stated he gave some money to somebody in Vermont across the lake.”

Stuckwell gave Sgt. Derrick Brown $11.84 to leave at the Henry Huntington tavern for the letter’s recipient.


In the 1960s, Gordon and his late wife, Shirley, started in the antiques business and refined their scope to silver, jewelry, fine arts, Tiffany, bronzes and paintings.

He had a keen interest and became an expert in Redford glass.

Over the years, Gordon has donated historical documents to the Clinton County Historical Association and Feinberg Special Collections at SUNY Plattsburgh.


“About 25 or 30 years ago, I had a man come to me that heard I was interested in historical things,” Gordon said. “He had two big grocery bags filled with historical documents that he retrieved from our town dump on the Akey Road toward Saranac.

“He wouldn’t sell them to me.”

The man bartered the documents for bottles. Luckily, Gordon had a cache of bottles he had scored when he purchased the contents of a family store that had closed in Rouses Point.

“There were tons of early bottles going back to the 1800s,” he said. “Many were produced by my family in the liquor, beer and tobacco business. I had these in the garage.”

He kept his family bottles and gave the man the others. Gordon went to Helen Allen, then curator of the Clinton County Historical Museum, with the documents.

“She picked out a lot for the museum,” Gordon said. “The rest I have.”


He has a document concerning Dr. William Beaumont, a famous surgeon connected to Champlain and Plattsburgh who is considered the “Father of Gastric Physiology.”

He also has a court order for Aaron Burr, third U.S. vice president, who had a military assignment in Plattsburgh.

“I’m a lover of history,” Gordon said. “I like the letter (from Soldier Stuckwell). He was sick in the hospital, sick two weeks prior to battle. He tries to collect money for a bounty that the government owes him.

“This one struck me because of the proximity and time to the battle. The British had a hospital on the corner of Oak (Street in Plattsburgh).”

But just who Luther Stuckwell was still eludes Gordon.

“I couldn’t find anything,” he said.

Email Robin Caudell:rcaudell@pressrepublican.comTwitter:@RobinCaudell