One of the things I love about doing genealogy is there is always something new to learn. This particular source has taught me alot:
Mather, Frederic Gregory, The Refugees of 1776 from Long Island to Connecticut. Albany, N.Y.: J.B. Lyon Co., printers, 1913
From this source, I learned that all the male Hildreth's living in Southampton, New York in 1775 signed an Association list. But in reading the material around these lists, I was in the end confused about what exactly an Association was. Now another source explains:
"In 1775 associations were formed, the members of which pledged themselves to the support of the measures of the provincial congress, and the union of the American colonies, to resist the oppression of the British government."
Onderdonk, Henry, Revolutionary Incidents of Long Island, N.Y., published 1846 and 1849. I have not actually seen this source but found the above quote referencing this source.
So, excellent explanation of Associations! However, I want to here add an additional note about this 1776 Refugees source. I am not sure if Mr. Mather (the author) saw these original Association lists and then transcribed them, or if he was given the lists already transcribed. I do know (now) that each list as it appears in this source has been alphabetized by both surname and given name. I made the mistake of thinking that the Hildreth names appearing together must certainly imply something about which family group each man belonged to. But that is most certainly not the case. For example, the appearance of the name James Hildreth following the name Isaac Hildreth does not in any way indicate that these two men belonged to the same immediate family group - it only means that "J" of James follows "I" of Isaac in the alphabet. Sheesh.
Like I said, there's always something more to learn, not just about history, but also about how to understand our sources.