The Townsends in the Revolution

Distance Learning
School Tours

4th Grade, 1 hour
During this one-hour virtual program, participants can view our authentically furnished 18th century rooms and learn about how ship-owning merchant Samuel Townsend helped plan the Revolution. Oyster Bay was occupied by several British regiments over the course of the war — notably Col. John Graves Simcoe, headquartered at the Townsends’ home and commander of a regiment of over 350 soldiers called the Queen’s Rangers. British spy John André also stayed here in 1779, a year before he was captured and executed for his part in the Benedict Arnold treason plot.

Like other Long Islanders, the Townsends enslaved many African-Americans, who witnessed the war from a different perspective, as they faced an enemy occupation that forced them to serve not only those who enslaved them, but also the many British officers who stayed in the house. In this virtual program participants learn the newly-discovered true story of Liss, an enslaved teenage girl who escaped with the British in hopes of becoming free.

Meanwhile, working as a merchant in British-controlled Manhattan, the Townsends’ son Robert joined a daring group of covert agents – the Culper Spy Ring. Communicating through letters written in secret code and invisible ink, Robert risked his life to provide critical information to Gen. George Washington, helping him to overcome the vastly superior British forces.

From a teacher, about “The Townsends in the Revolution”:
“I just want to say thank you again for a wonderful morning! The virtual field trip was fantastic. I enjoyed the great pictures and your lively storytelling! I personally learned so much and I know my students did as well. Our vice principal popped in our meeting and ended up staying the whole time. He told me he just loved it.”

This fall we re pleased to offer these turnkey virtual programs, again! Each program is $4 per student, with no more than 2 classes per virtual program. Scholarships are available to Title 1 recipients, and offered on a first-come, first-served basis, so please contact us as soon as possible if your school qualifies for financial assistance.

Email Claire Bellerjeau at to schedule a program or for more information.