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Jacob DeHaven

Birthdate: (82)
Birthplace: Germantown, Philadelphia County, Province of Pennsylvania
Death: 1812 (78-86)
Pennsylvania, United States (Died penniless.)
Place of Burial: Bridgeport, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Peter DeHaven and Sidonia DeHaven
Husband of Mercy DeHaven
Brother of Edward DeHaven; John B. DeHaven; Magdaline Deborah Supplee; Elizabeth Yocum; Peter DeHaven and 5 others
Half brother of Abraham DeHaven and John D. DeHaven

Managed by: Private User
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About Jacob DeHaven

Q.Tell me the story of Jacob DeHaven


A.The following is from Lorett Treese's book, "Valley Forge: Making and Remaking a National Symbol" (1995)

There is also no evidence to support the claim of the DeHaven family that their ancestor Jacob DeHaven lent George Washington $450,000 in cash and supplies while the army was encamped at Valley Forge. This tradition first appeared in print in a history of the DeHaven family penned by Howard DeHaven Ross. Periodically, the descendants of Jacob DeHaven make attempts to get the "loan" repaid with interest. Various individuals took up this cause in the 1850s, 1870s, and 1890s. The issue came up again around 1910, 1920, and 1960. As recently as 1990, the New York Times reported on the status of a class action suit filed in U.S. Claims Court by a DeHaven descendant from Stafford, Texas. The DeHavens calculated the amount owed their family at more than one hundred billion dollars, but they reported they were willing to accept a "reasonable payment" — and maybe a monument at Valley Forge. This remarkably persistent tradition has been thoroughly debunked by Judith A. Meier, of the Historical Society of Montgomery County, whose genealogical research revealed that there were no DeHavens living in the immediate area until after 1790 and that Jacob DeHaven had never been rich enough to make such a fabulous loan. Still, past experience shows that a DeHaven claim is certain to arise about once every generation.

Note: There is no monument or statue to Jacob DeHaven at Valley Forge.


From SOURCE: New York Times, May 27, 1990

213 Years After Loan, Uncle Sam Is Dunned By LISA BELKIN

What Mr. DeHaven did was respond to a desperate plea in 1777 from George Washington, the commander in chief of the Continental Army, when it looked as if the Revolutionary War was about to be lost. One of nine children in a wealthy family of merchants and landowners, Mr. DeHaven was living in Pennsylvania on farmland adjoining the Valley Forge campgrounds in the winter of 1777-78.

The soldiers there were short of food, clothing, shelter and ammunition. General Washington sent a plea to the leadership of Pennsylvania asking for money and saying: "Unless aid comes, our affairs must soon become desperate beyond the possibility of recovery. The Army must disband or starve."

Mr. DeHaven was among those who responded. He lent the Government $50,000 in gold and what his descendants estimate to be another $400,000 in supplies. The Continental Army survived the winter at Valley Forge, and when the war was over, Mr. DeHaven apparently tried several times to collect what was owed to him.

'Not Worth a Continental'

Ms. Kloecker said she could not discuss the specific evidence the family has accumulated to substantiate the claim, but she said there is reason to believe that Mr. DeHaven was offered Continental money for his loan certificate and that he held out for gold. The Continental dollars were notoriously worthless, leading to the expression at the time that something was "not worth a Continental."

Mr. DeHaven died penniless in 1812 and is believed to be buried in Swedeland, Pa., in a family cemetery. He had no children; had he possessed anything tangible to bequeath, his siblings and their children would have been his legal heirs.

He did leave behind his story, and it was handed from one generation to the next. Every decade or two there was an attempt by someone in the growing clan to collect the debt.

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Jacob DeHaven's Timeline

Germantown, Philadelphia County, Province of Pennsylvania
Age 82
Pennsylvania, United States
Bridgeport, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States