Yankee Doodle: Timeline
April 30, 1741: Thomas Ditson Jr. and his twin sister Sarah are born. Sarah dies two years later. They are the children of Thomas and Elizabeth (Lawrence).
June 18, 1761: Thomas Jr. marries Elizabeth Blanchard. They have 9 children while in Billerica.
October 1768: Royal troops first appear in Massachusetts. They have come to enforce the heavy tax imposed by the British.Tensions begin to mount.
March 5, 1770: Boston Massacre occurs.
December 16, 1773: Colonists throw the Boston Tea Party
June, 1774: The desire for freedom from British control and aggression is growing and reaching outlying towns and villages. At Town Meetings in Billerica, a number of resolves are unanimously set forth. Billerica declares her support of Boston and prepares to defend its freedom; a blow to Boston is a blow to us all.
March 8, 1775: Thomas Ditson, Jr. goes to Boston to buy a gun.There is anticipation of a coming battle.
March 8, 1775: A British soldier, under the directions of British Col. Nesbitt, offers to sell Ditson a musket and brings him to his quarters. Once there, the soldier takes Ditson’s money and sends up an alarm to British troops who take him captive. He is held overnight at the Guardhouse at Foster’s Wharf.
March 9, 1775:Ditson is stripped, tarred and feathered and paraded through the streets surrounded by the officers and soldiers of the 47th regiment under Col. Nesbitt.The tune of Yankee Doodle is being played by the soldiers in derision.
March 9, 1775: Ditson makes and signs a solemn Oath to the Truth about the events that unfolded.
March 16, 1775: Billerica Selectman send a letter to Boston to General Gage, condemning the attack on Ditson.
March 21, 1775: In a letter to R.H. Lee of Boston, Samuel Adams expresses his outrage at the tar and feathering of Ditson and Gage’s lack of response to it.
April 1775: General Gage was preparing to seize the ammunition that the patriots had stored in Concord.
April 7, 1775: Provincial Congress approves conduct by Billerica Selectmen in relation to Ditson affair.
April 18, 1775: About 11 P.M. Paul Revere and William Dawes set out on their now-famous ride to give the alarm and call for the minutemen to resist the advance of this attack
.April 18-19, 1775: John Hancock and Sam Adams find refuge at the home of Amos Wyman in Billerica (Middlesex Tpk). They spend the night hiding there and have breakfast the next morning before departing.
April 19, 1775: About 2 A.M. The Ditson farm is among the first in Billerica to receive the summons. After his recent experience, Thomas Ditson, Jr is eager to respond. He and the other minutemen from Billerica march to Merriam’s Corner in Concord where they engage the British in battle. This victory is sometimes referred to as Ditson’s revenge.
January 1776: Ditson enlists in the Army at Billerica. He serves one year as a sergeant in a regiment commanded by Colonel Loammi Baldwin.
1777: Ditson is discharged at Peekskill, New York but he returns to Billerica and re-enlists for another three years. He served as a sergeant under John Lewis and later in Captain Daniel Shay’s Company.
1778:Thomas Ditson Sr. dies. Thomas Jr. buys his brother, Samuel’s, share of the Ditson homestead. The family farm was located in what is now the Pinehurst section of town on the Woburn(now Burlington) line.
1784: Thomas Ditson, Jr. moves out of Billerica.
April 1818:Ditson files Revolutionary War pension papers stating that he is “in indigent circumstances and is, by reason of age, unable to support himself.”
July 13, 1819: Ditson marries Prudence Douglass of Mason, NH. He is 78, she is 47.
June 1820: Thomas Ditson, age 79 years and a resident of Townsend, Mass., swears before Chief Justice Samuel Dana that he had served in the Revolutionary War during 1776, 1777, 1778 and 1779. He further declares that in 1777 while serving in the army, he “lost the sight of one eye by the small pox.”
Sept. 2, 1828: Thomas Ditson dies at Mason, NH, age 87. Burial unknown.