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Young Putnam patriot's story might become film

By MICHAEL RISINIT
THE JOURNAL NEWS

(Original publication: February 24, 2003)

Patriot's history
More information about Charles Welty, his Sybil Ludington script, the game based on her ride and his other work can be found through www.ludingtonsride.com. The game is still under development.


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Her name adorns historical markers along Putnam County's roads, showing the route she traveled by horseback on a rainy April night in 1777. She is buried in the cemetery next to the Patterson Presbyterian Church, not far from where her father and his Colonial militia — alerted by her warnings — marched to repel attacking British forces in Connecticut.

The next stop for Sybil Ludington, Putnam County's version of Paul Revere, could be the silver screen if a California-based screenwriter turns his script into a movie.

"The story is so unique, a young woman in a familiar but dangerous area overcoming tremendous odds for her father and her country," Charles Welty said. "It's a combination of terror and integrity."

Welty finished his 121-page script, "Ludington's Ride," last month and is busy seeking financing for the project. He envisions established stars portraying the supporting actors, such as her father, but sees an unknown cast in the role of 16-year-old Ludington. The project, he said, would cost about $7 million and his marketing effort includes an Internet game based on Sybil's adventure.

"Its message is basic and simple but appealing and attractive," said Welty, who has written several other scripts, including "Forever the Boys" — a biopic about The Three Stooges.

The writer first learned about Ludington during a 1991 visit to the Daughters of the American Revolution Library in Washington. A painting of a rain-drenched girl on a horse caught his eye and he began doing research.

Two years after Revere's historic ride, the teenager galloped throughout the Putnam countryside, rousing the men under her father's command. Col. Henry Ludington of Kent and his men were needed to help defend Danbury, Conn. The British had invaded the town, burning buildings and supplies destined for the Colonial army. Unable to alert his men and be present to organize the militia, the colonel sent his daughter and her horse, Star, on the mission.

Welty took a few artistic liberties with the story — "for the sake of drama," he said. One example is the appearance of Edmond Ogden, Sybil's husband, as a love interest. The two actually didn't meet for several more years. The burning of Danbury scene, he said, rivals the burning of Atlanta in "Gone With the Wind."

The script, said a Mahopac resident who wrote a book about Ludington, is another, much-needed effort to spread the word about her exploits.

"He wants national recognition for Sybil. We all do. This woman deserves her place in history," said Vincent Dacquino, author of "Sybil Ludington: The Call to Arms." The 104-page book was published in 2000.

Revere was immortalized in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and is celebrated every April during Patriot's Day events outside Boston. He rode from Boston to Concord and Lexington in 1775 to warn others of British troop movements. The British were looking to arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams, who were in Lexington, and to destroy supplies stored in Concord.

Ludington does get some recognition. She's included in a fourth-grade local history curriculum, and a segment of "Liberty's Kids," a PBS children's program, is devoted to her. Dacquino, Welty and historians point out several differences between Ludington and Revere — ones they contend should give her greater distinction.

She rode a longer distance than Revere — 28 to 40 miles, according to various estimates, compared with Revere's approximately 20 miles. Her route followed backwoods roads; Revere rode along well-traveled routes. She accomplished her task alone, as a teenager and while eluding the British and outlaws. Revere, about 40, was accompanied at times by two other men and the British arrested him.

Her ride started about 9 p.m. By dawn, she returned to her home near today's Ludingtonville Road and Interstate 84. Her father and his men eventually helped repel the invading forces back to Long Island Sound.

Her family's mill was just north of where the Hess station is on Route 52, property now owned by the Kent Historical Society. The screenplay features many local places and names: Belden Road, Shaw's Pond, Stormville, Dixon and Crane.

"He took liberties with certain things, but if it promotes the area, all the better," said Richard Othmer Jr., the president of the Kent Historical Society. "Everybody's sick of hearing about old white generals. We should really capitalize on her."

Othmer supplied Welty with books and other information about Ludington. Welty has offered to rebuild the mill — it burned down about 30 years ago — and film a scene there if the movie gets made. He plans to visit the area for the first time in April.

"If this film goes in theaters, the whole country will fall in love with this girl," Welty said.

 

 

 

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The contents of this website are protected by copyright © 2001-2010 by Charles R. Welty. All rights reserved internationally. Ludington's Ride® is a registered trademark of Charles R. Welty. Ludington's Ride®-—The Board Game is protected by U.S. patent #D520070.