In 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed, it is estimated that the population of the American colonies was 2,500,000 people. It is further estimated that upwards of 10% of the population participated in one way or another in the Revolutionary War effort. Considering that approximately 65% of the population were women, children and elderly, plus 10% of the total male population were Loyalists (supporters of the British), or pacifist Quakers, one would have to conclude that almost every available man not falling in one of the above categories was either a soldier, a political leader, or a supplier of food and materials to the army during all or a part of the war that lasted from 1775 to 1783. This was quite a commitment. In actual practice there were never more than 90,000 soldiers either regulars or militiamen fighting at any given time and General Washington at no point during the war commanded more than 17,000 men. If we are to accept that upwards of 250,000 men were engaged at one time or another during the eight year war, then we must conclude that the turnover of soldiers was enormous and many of the participants must have served for short periods. The role of the militia or “citizen-soldiers” in the war which we will discuss in subsequent paragraphs, helps us understand how so many of our American ancestors are credited with service during the American War for Independence.
For the most part it was my great (x5) grandfathers who were of an appropriate age between 1775 and 1783 for service in the military during the American Revolution. That assumes of course that they were not Loyalists, Quakers, or citizens of another country. I have a total of 64 great (x5) grandfathers and of the 64 grandfathers I have identified 24 of them who lived in America during the period of the American Revolution. In some cases these 24 grandfathers were either too old or too young to be soldiers but in most instances either their sons or their fathers were of an appropriate fighting age. In several cases both the father and the son were soldiers. My research to date has discovered 26 of our grandfathers from several generations who served during the American Revolution, as well as one grandfather who was a Loyalist and was killed at the start of the war by one of his “Patriot” neighbors at the front door of his home (and his parents and siblings escaped in a British ship to Nova Scotia), and one grandfather who was a Quaker. I am still missing information on 39 of my great (x5) grandfathers although 32 of these 39 grandfathers were not living in our country at the time of the War. The bottom line is that more than 75% of my grandfathers living in this country during the American Revolution served as soldiers for some period during the war. Since such a large percentage of eligible men served in the defense of their country, upwards of 250,000, it is likely that most Americans claiming ancestors back to the Revolutionary War will find that they are descendents of Revolutionary War soldiers. There are a number of historical societies focusing on soldiers of the American Revolution including the two large ones, The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) and The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR). To be a member of these societies you have to prove that you are a descendent of a Patriot (soldier) during the War. Both of these societies have a listing of approximately 100,000 Patriots. If the figure of 250,000 is correct then there are many Patriots yet to be discovered. Of the 26 Revolutionary War Patriots in our family that I have identified to date, at least 10 of them are not found on either the DAR or the SAR lists. Of the ten not found on the list, I have found adequate evidence to prove that they served in the War or were killed as a result of the War. Apparently the descendents of these ten grandfathers have not yet come forward and made the effort to have them included in the DAR and SAR listings.
Before I begin the biographies of our Revolutionary War ancestors, I think that it is necessary to discuss the important differences between the Continental soldiers (“Continentals”) and the Militia. The militia existed long before the colonists decided to fight for their independence from England. Typically the men in the militia were recruited by towns and were lead by prominent individuals in the locality or the state. For the most part it was required that all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 to 50 must participate in military service in the defense of their community and/or their state. The militia in our country began at our earliest colonization as a defense against Indian attacks. Militias also participated alongside the British during the French and Indian Wars. In general practice militiamen lived at home, mustered for regular drills, typically had only muskets without bayonets, did not wear uniforms, did not sign up for long periods of military service (only served on as-needed basis), and agreed to fight only within the confines of their state or near their state in cases where their state was threatened. It is not unusual to find when studying the State Militia payroll records during the Revolutionary War, that men served on multiple occasions with each period of service being anywhere from a few days to a month or more. Each service would have a specific goal such as marching to an area where a conflict was expected or to relieve other militiamen stationed at a military post. At any given time during the War the total quantity of men in the militia greatly outnumber the men in the regular army under General Washington. Since each state could field their own military forces as militia units, their widespread presence and high mobility inhibited the British military forces from marching freely through the colonies unless accomplished with a very large force. While the State militias were not always well trained or organized, and often quickly retreated in battle, the war probably could not have been won solely by the Continental Army under General Washington. Most of our Revolutionary War ancestors fought in their state’s militia although in a few cases, and it is not always clear in the history records, they also signed up for service for a longer period of time in the Continental Army. The first fighting in the Revolutionary War began at Lexington and Concord and at Bunker Hill. It was the militia, also called Minutemen or citizen-soldiers, who united in their outrage against the British to begin our long eight year war for independence. The importance of the militia and the right for states to raise and arm militias is forever preserved by the Second Amendment of our United States Constitution.
The Continental army on the other hand was a creation of the Continental Congress and was formed shortly after the Battle of Bunker Hill in mid-1775. While the regiments that were formed to serve in the Continental Army were named for the states in which the soldiers were recruited (i.e. the “New York Line”,) the officers (major and above) were appointed by the Continental Congress and the soldier’s pay, equipment and food were provided by the Continental Congress. At first the period of enlistment was for a few months or a year although eventually the soldiers were required to enlist for a period of three months or for the duration of the war. The Continental soldier was on full-time duty, trained daily, usually wore a uniform, and often lived in camps outside their home state for months or years. The Continental Army was the best of our country’s military during the war. Unfortunately, I have not been able to confirm that any of my ancestors were in the Continental Army although it is likely there were a few. I will point out in the biographies below which individuals may have served in the Continental Army.
The listing of our Revolutionary War ancestors has been divided into three groups: the ancestors of my grandmother, Helen Spaulding Baker, the ancestors of my grandmother (on my mother’s side) Florence Ferree Patterson, and the ancestors of my grandfather, Charles Schenck Baker. In each group I will begin with the highest ranking individual.
Ancestors of my grandmother, Helen Spaulding Baker.
Patriot #1: Lt. Col. Henry Wisner (1742-1812) Henry Wisner enlisted as a Captain in the Fourth Regiment of the Orange County (New York) Militia on September 22, 1775 about three months following the Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston. In February of 1776 he was promoted to a major and in 1778 he was again promoted this time to Lieutenant Colonel. While I never actually confirmed where Lt. Col. Wisner fought, it is likely that he participated in the battles on Long Island in August, 1776 following the British invasion of New York and he was probably present at the Battle of Harlem Heights on September 16, 1776 and again at the Battle of White Plains in October of 1776. We know that the Fourth Regiment of the Orange County Militia was present at the Battle of White Plains as well as General George Washington and his troops. Based on the length of Henry’s service, he may have eventually joined one of the New York Regiments of the Continental Army. In the mid-1780s following the war, Lt. Col. Wisner was granted for his services 400 acres of land on the south side of the Chemung River, near Elmira, New York on one of several military lots granted to soldier of the Revolution. [Based on information that I received from John Sly in March of 2009, I learned that Henry Wisner was present at the Battle of Newtown (near Elmira, New York) as part of General Sullivan's campaign against the Indians. I also learned during a related search that Henry Wisner was present at the Battle of Minisink in Orange County. He was obviously a busy man.]
Patriot #2: Capt. Peter Bertholf (1746-1801) Capt. Peter Bertholf is the father-in-law of Henry Wisner’s son John. He also served under Lt. Col. Wisner in the Fourth Regiment of the Orange County Militia and he undoubtedly fought in the same battles around New York City area as Henry Wisner. Both Bertholf and Wisner lived in Warwick, New York located just north of the City of New York during the period of the Revolution.
Patriot #3: Capt. John Wisner (1718-1778) Captain John Wisner is the father of Lt. Col. Henry Wisner. The first record of John Wisner’s involvement in the Colonial forces was in 1756 during the French and Indian Wars where is listed as holding the rank of Captain in the militia of Orange County. He is also listed as being a Captain in the Orange County “Minute Men” in March of 1776 despite his age of 58 (George Washington was only 44 in 1776) and he likely participated in some of the battles around New York City between August and September of 1776. We know that he was engaged in the Battle of Montresor’s Island on September 10, 1776 wherein the Colonial forces attacked the British on the island located just off the east shore of Manhattan. Their goal was to expel the British from the island to prevent them from making an amphibious assault on Manhattan. Three boat loads of American troops were involved. After the first boatload of men disembarked on the island they discovered that their attack was not a secret and they were ambushed. The other two boats immediately withdrew rather than come to the aid of their fellow soldiers. Following their return, the two boat loads of “delinquents” were arrested and held for court-martial. Unfortunately, our Capt. John Wisner was onboard one of the two boats. Whether or not he was found guilty in the court-martial I could not determine. Several undocumented sources indicate that Capt. Wisner died in service in December of 1778. While he may have been wounded during an engagement and died subsequently as a result of his wounds, he definitely did not die on the battlefield. In his will written in September 1778 be wrote his condition as “being weak in body.” He died several months later in late December, 1776.
Patriot #4: Lt. Lebbeus Tubbs (1730-1796): Lt. Lebbeus Tubbs and his family including his daughter and her husband (Lebbeus Hammond) and family were all present at the Battle of Wyoming and at the subsequent Indian massacre that took place on July 3rd and 4th of 1778. He served in the 1st Alarm Company under Captain James Bidlack, Sr. This Company was part of the 24th Regiment of Connecticut Militia. The story of these families and the Battle of Wyoming is the subject of Chapter 8 of the Baker Family History. Lt. Tubbs was 48 years old when the battle occurred. He had previously served as a private during the French and Indian Wars. The Battle/Massacre of Wyoming was a tragic chapter in the history of the American Revolution. Of the 375 American military personnel engaged in the battle only 174 survived. Following the short battle the Indians tortured and killed not only captured soldiers but many of the women, children, and elderly that they could find in the settlement. I debated labeling Lebbeus’ father, Samuel Tubbs (1699-1778), a Patriot and a soldier of the Revolution since he died during the Battle/Massacre of Wyoming, however he was 79 years old when the battle occurred and it is unlikely that he actually shouldered a gun on the battlefield. Lt Lebbeus Tubbs continued to serve in the militia following the Battle of Wyoming. Revolutionary War payroll records dated in 1780 document that he fought in Col. John Franklin’s Regiment. John Franklin in late 1779 was Captain of a regiment of Wyoming County Militia that was part of Sullivan’s Expedition to remove the Indians from Western New York State. I believe there is little doubt that Lt. Lebbeus Tubbs participated in this campaign. Both the Tubbs and the Hammond families moved to Southport (near Elmira, NY) following the War. The families settled not far from the site of the only battle fought during the Sullivan Expedition, the Battle of Newtown.
Patriot #5: Private Amariah Hammond (1719-1778): Private Amariah Hammond was 59 years old when he was killed fighting at the Battle of Wyoming in Western Pennsylvania. He had previously served in 1762 while still living in Litchfield County, Connecticut, in the 3rd Regiment of the 3rd Company of the Connecticut Militia under Captain Zebulon Butler. Captain Butler, later Colonel Butler, led the Wyoming County Militia at the Battle of Wyoming.
Patriot #6: Private Lebbeus Hammond (1754-1826) Private Lebbeus Hammond fought at the Battle of Wyoming. He was captured by Indians during the battle but fortunately escaped his capturers before he was killed. Lebbeus also fought under Col. John Franklin after 1778 as did his father-in-law, Lebbeus Tubbs, and he probably participated in General Sullivan’s Campaign in September and August 1779 to chase the Indians out of Western New York. One source reported that Lebbeus Hammond held the rank of lieutenant during the War although I was unable to find any evidence of to support that statement.
Patriot #7: Private Michael Sly (1748- 1808): Michael Sly was a resident of Lower Smithfield Township in Northampton County, PA where he is credited as signing the Oath of Allegiance and enlisting in the Northampton County Militia on September 29, 1777. Michael’s name is further recorded on the General Muster Record for May 14, 1778 as being in the Eighth Company of the 6th Battalion of the Northampton County Militia. I could not learn where his Battalion fought during the Revolutionary War but in late 1777 and in 1778 the following battles occurred near his home: Battle of Germantown on October 4, 1777, The Siege of Philadelphia in October and December of 1777, and the Battle of Monmouth in June of 1778. It is also possible that Michael Sly was with the Sullivan Expedition in 1779. Michael moved his family to the Elmira area after the War. Once source credits Michael as holding the rank of 2nd Lieutenant during the Revolutionary War, however this fact, if correct, could not be confirmed.
Patriot #8: John Sly (1767-1799) It is hard to imagine that John Sly was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. If the date of his birth is correct, then he was only 10 years old in 1776. The 1850 US Census in Chemung County lists John Sly as 84 years old which more or less confirms his young age at the time of the War. In an historical document written about the early inhabitants of Elmira it states that John Sly was 24 when he arrived to the Elmira area in 1788 which would make John 12 years old in 1776, still an unlikely age to have participated in the Revolutionary War. Notwithstanding this logic, on the Chemung County website they list John Sly as one of the veterans of the Revolutionary War buried in the County. Furthermore, from what I can determine, both the DAR and the SAR bear credence to the belief that John Sly was a soldier, albeit a young one. More research is necessary.
Patriot #9: Phineas Spaulding (1720-1784) I could not find any information relating to Phineas Spaulding’s involving in the military during the Revolutionary War although he is included in the DAR listing of “Patriots”. He moved with his family to Panton, Vermont in 1767. Panton is located on the shores of Lake George not far north of Fort Ticonderoga and during the war the Panton area was a hot bed of war activity. It is therefore likely despite his being 56 years in 1776 that he participated in the local militia. His inclusion on the DAR list may also have been a result of his capture with eleven others by British forces in October 1777 wherein they were made prisoners on board a vessel in the vicinity. Fortunately, Phineas was able to escape his captures by stealing a small boat. When his escape was discovered by the British, fearing that he was too easy a target in the boat, he dove overboard and swam safely ashore amid the bullets of the British. In the fall of 1778 a British force again invaded the area and burned most of the homes in the area including the home of Phineas Spaulding. At that point Phineas moved to Rutland, Vermont where he remained for the rest of his life.
Patriot #10: Phineas Spaulding Jr. (1749-1825) Phineas Jr. and his family moved away from the Panton area in late 1776 to the relative safety of Rutland where Phineas joined the local militia. It is interesting that the militia he joined was a part of the a Massachusetts State brigade rather than the militia group known as the Green Mountain Boys under the command of Ethan Allen. Phineas was to serve a total of four separate enlistments spanning from December 1776 through October 1781. Based on the military payroll records of Capt. Asa Lawrence’s Company of Volunteers serving under Col. Jonathan Reid’s Regiment, I believe that Phineas Spaulding Jr. was present at the Battle of Bemis Heights on October 7, 1777 and again at Burgoyne’s surrender of British forces at Saratoga a few days later. The defeat of the British forces at Saratoga is often thought to be a turning point in the American War for Independence. Phineas and his family returned to Panton in 1785 and he died there in 1825.
Patriot #11: Phineas Holcomb (1726-1781) The Holcomb family moved to Panton, Vermont in 1774 and they were neighbors of the Spauldings. Phineas Holcomb’s daughter, Sarah, was the second wife of Phineas Spaulding Jr. It is unknown whether Phineas Holcomb was ever a volunteer in his local militia, although at 50 years old in 1776 he would have been expected to serve. Notwithstanding, he deserves to be considered a Patriot. On the morning of November 11, 1778, Phineas Holcomb and four of his sons were surrounded by Indians at their home in Panton; their home was burned, and the prisoners were taken by the Indians who were being assisted by Tories [Loyalists], to a vessel on Lake George, and hence to a British prison in Quebec, Canada. Conditions at the prison were deplorable. Two of Phineas Holcomb’s sons died in the summer of 1781 and Phineas died in prison in September 1781. The other two sons were eventually exchanged. Fortunately, Phineas’s wife and other children escaped capture. There was a Phineas Holcomb on the Payroll records in the Connecticut militia in Simsbury, CT dated October 8, 1777 but it is unclear if this is the same Phineas Holcomb.
Ancestors of my grandmother, Florence Ferree Patterson
Patriot #12: Lt. Col. Thomas Bull (1744-1837) Thomas Bull may be one of the most documented of our Revolutionary War ancestors. Prior to enlisting in the military in 1776, Thomas Bull was the manager of the Warwick Furnace in Chester County, Pennsylvania, which produced cannons and shot for the Continental army. He first served as an officer in the Chester County Battalion of the “Flying Camp” under Col. William Montgomery where their battalion found action in the New York City area following the British invasion of Long Island. When General Washington found it necessary to evacuate New York City to avoid being surrounded and defeated by the British Army under General William Howe, he made the ill fated decision to leave 2,800 troops at Fort Washington located at the northern end of Manhattan Island in hopes of delaying the British forces leaving Manhattan in their chase of Washington’s retreating Continental Army. This plan did not succeed and on November 16, 1776 Fort Washington was surrounded and the Americans were forced to capitulate. The 2,800 men in Fort Washington including Thomas Bull, were captured and sent to the infamous prison ships in the Brooklyn harbor. Thomas Bull was said to have remained a British prisoner under absolutely shameful conditions for a period of twenty-one months at which time he was released in a prisoner exchange. He immediately rejoined the army in 1779 serving as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Chester County (PA) Militia until 1781. After his retirement from the military, Thomas Bull returned to the “pig-iron” business in Warwick. Later Lt. Col. Bull was a member of the Pennsylvania Convention which helped frame and ratify the American Constitution in the early 1790s. Photo to the left is the Thomas Bull House.
Patriot #13: Lt. Col. William Dewees (1739-1809) Despite spending a great deal of time researching Lt. Col. William Dewees, I was able to learn very little about his military career other than he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Pennsylvania militia and the DAR and the SAR both recognize him as a Revolutionary War Patriot. He is perhaps best known as the owner or co-owner of the Valley Forge Iron Works, the site where General George Washington and his Continental Army spent the winter of 1777-78. The Dewees home is on the site of Valley Forge (and still exists to this day and shown in the photo)) and history has recorded that during that memorable winter of ‘77-78, Colonel Dewees and his family and General Washington and his wife had frequent social intercourse. Unfortunately in late 1777, British troops burned his iron factory and saw mill and then the American troop encampment during the winter destroyed his land by cutting down his trees, destroying his crops, killing his farm animals, and burning his wood fencing for fuel. William Dewees never fully recovered financially after the war and he spent many years fighting the new American government to get them to pay for the damage to his land. As far as I know, he failed in that endeavor. Lt. Col. William Dewees’ son, Waters, married Lt. Col. Thomas Bull’s daughter, Ann Bull. I believe that Thomas Bull managed the factory owned by William Dewees and his partner Isaac Potts.
Patriot #14: Capt. Eleazer Hutchinson (1735-1813) Capt. Eleazer Hutchinson is recognized by both the DAR and the SAR as a Patriot having fought during the Revolutionary War as a captain in the 12th Connecticut Regiment under Col. Obadiah Hosford. The only military record I could find mentioning Eleazer stated that his company marched “to East Chester to join General Washington’s Army.” I assume from this that East Chester was the village located just northeast of New York City and Hutchinson’s regiment was probably part of the Connecticut Militia fighting with the Continental Army during the battle for New York. In late October, 1776, 750 Americans under Colonel John Glover faced off against 4,000 British troops at Eastchester, NY. I believe that Captain Hutchinson was present with his Company at this point in Eastchester. The British troops were chasing Washington’s army as they evacuated New York. The skirmish that followed was brief and the Americans retreated leaving more British casualties than they had suffered. The 750 American troops with Captain Hutchinson eventually joined Washington’s army in White Plains where on October 28, 1776 the two armies of around 14,000 men each, met in battle. The battle was pretty much a draw and Washington’s troops again were forced to retreat. It is unlikely that the Connecticut militia followed Washington’s Continental Army as they made their way south into New Jersey. They returned to their homes and the British had finally captured New York.
Patriot #15: Silas Hutchinson (1758-1836) Silas Hutchinson, son of Eleazer Hutchinson, is listed in the DAR records as being a drummer boy in his father’s Company in the 12th Regiment of the Connecticut Militia. He was not quite 18 years old when his Regiment engaged the British at Eastchester and later at the Battle of White Plains. It is unlikely that as a drummer boy he would have been placed in a position of direct enemy fire. Silas’s older brother was also a drummer boy in the same regiment as his father and younger brother.
Patriot #16: Captain Ephraim Buell (1742-1820) Captain Ephraim Buell enlisted in the Vermont militia before May 1775. One interesting trivia about Vermont is that it was not one of the original thirteen colonies. The area that is now Vermont was claimed by both the Colony of New York and the Colony of New Hampshire. Many of the settlers in Vermont at the time of the Revolutionary War were from Connecticut and Massachusetts so when the war broke out they joined militia units that were part of Regiments in their home states. We have previously seen for example, that Phineas Spaulding Jr. who lived in Panton, Vermont joined a Company composed of local Vermont men but their Company was part of a Regiment of the Massachusetts’ Militia. Captain Ephraim on the other hand joined a militia unit that was affiliated with no other state militias. They called themselves the Green Mountain Boys and their leader was Colonel (later General) Ethan Allen. The most famous exploit of the Green Mountain Boys was the capture of Fort Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775. There is no evidence that Captain Buell was present at the capture of Fort Ticonderoga but there is historical documentation that he was part of a committee to consider the “advisability of taking Fort Ticonderoga.” Furthermore, on July 5, 1775 the Continental Congress passed a resolution that directed a Regiment be raised “out of officers who served in Canada” and we find Captain Ephraim Buell is on the list as well the then promoted Brigadier General Ethan Allen. Following the capture of Fort Ticonderoga the Green Mountain Boys when on to fight at the Battle of Fort St. Jean in Quebec, Canada. Apparently Capt. Buell was engaged in these subsequent battles. We find Ephraim Buell’s name in “Pay Roll” records on at least three occasions, in June 1777, December 1779, and October 1781. His pay rate as Captain was 8 pence per month (worth today about one sip of Starbuck coffee.)
Patriot #17: Sergt. Benajah Boardman (1749-1813) Sergeant Benajah Boardman is another Vermont settler who emigrated from Connecticut before the Revolutionary War. Their family arrived in Hubbarton, Vermont in 1775. Benajah like so many other Vermont settlers joined the Green Mountain Boys probably as early as 1775 although his early involvement in the war is unknown. He no doubt played a role in The Battle of Hubbarton which took place near his home on July 7, 1777 and we know from Vermont Payroll records that he served as a sergeant in Capt. Elijah Galusha’s Company in August, October, and December of 1781 “in the defense of the frontiers of the State of Vermont.”
Patriot #18: Sergt. Benjamin Hall (1735-1786) Benjamin Hall needs to be mentioned in this chapter since based on his age and the location of his home he was likely to have fought in the American Revolution. Unfortunately, I could not find enough positive documentation to say for certain that he was a Patriot. There was one source that stated that a Benjamin Hall fought in Talcott’s Regiment of the Connecticut Militia. I discovered that there were two Elizur Talcotts commanding Connecticut militias during the Revolutionary War. One was the son and one was the father. The father commanded a militia early in the war, 1774-5, and then retired. The son commanded a militia that fought in the battle for New York in March and April of 1776 and it is possible that our Benjamin Hall was in his regiment. We also found a Benjamin Hall who served in Lt. Col. Isaac Sherman’s 5th Regiment of the Connecticut Militia. Their Regiment gathered with Washington’s Continentals and a French Regiment at White Plains, NY on July 6, 1781 in anticipation of recapturing New York City from the British. Washington concluded that retaking New York was almost impossible so he moved his forces southward to eventually defeat Cornwallis at Yorktown in October 1781. The Connecticut militia left White Plains and returned home. I believe that these Benjamin Halls mentioned in the Connecticut Revolutionary War Military Lists are our ancestor, Benjamin Hall.
Patriot #19: Private Philip Yawger (1753-1830) When I first started researching Philip Yawger I thought that it would easy to write his biography because he was added to the DAR listing of Patriots by his great granddaughter and she outlined the name of his regiment and his commander in her submission to the DAR. According to her submission, Philip Yawger (Yager) served as a private in Capt. Joseph Elliot’s company in Col. Morris Graham’s 10th Regiment of the Albany County Militia. I double checked this and found there was a Philip Yager listed in this Albany County Regiment. His Regiment participated in the battles leading up to British General John Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga in October of 1777, a rather significant event in the American Revolution. I also double checked to make sure that Mrs. Anna Yawger Congdon, who submitted Philip Yawger’s name to the DAR in her membership application, was related to the same Philip Yawger of our family and I determined that beyond a doubt that Anna Yawger was one of my distant cousins. Unfortunately, I believe that her submission to the DAR made in the early 1900s was made in error. First of all, Philip Yawger never lived in Albany County, New York. He was married in New Jersey in 1774 and all of his children were born in New Jersey including three children born during the War. He moved to Owego, New York in 1800 and then to Cayuga County, New York in the Finger Lakes in 1802. One of Philip Yawger’s granddaughters wrote a history of the Yawger family in the 1800s and she never mentioned that her grandfather fought in the American Revolution. Since Philip Yawger was only 23 years old in 1776 and living in New Jersey it is almost impossible to believe that he was not in the New Jersey militia and served his country during the war. However, the Philip Yager that is included in the DAR listing is probably not our Philip Yawger. Clearly more research on this matter is necessary.
Ancestors of my grandfather, Charles Schenck Baker
Patriot #20: Ensign Abraham Covert (1738-1815) It is well documented that Ensign Abraham Covert served in the 3rd Regiment of the Hunterdon County (NJ) Militia under Capt. John Schenck during the American Revolution. What battles or skirmishes he participated in or how long he served is unknown. What is known is that Capt. Schenck and the 3rd Regiment indirectly participated in the Battle of Trenton (Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware) and the 3rd regiment was present at the Battles of Princeton and Germantown in 1777 and Monmouth in 1778. General speaking the New Jersey Militia did not fight on the front battle lines but “in large numbers, [they] delayed and harassed the British . . “ Every movement of the British in New Jersey was watched and the British troops were fired on at every opportunity by the militia. No doubt our Abraham participated in this harassment activity.
Patriot #21: Anthony Cosart (1740-1790) The spelling of Anthony’s surname has caused some research problems as the spelling has changed numerous times in the historical documents through the generations. Various spellings include Cossart, Cosart, Cozad, Corsat, and Corsort. I was not able to find any absolute proof that our Anthony was a solder in the Revolutionary War. The SAR listing of graves of Revolutionary War soldiers includes a listing for an Anthony Cosart, buried in New Jersey. Another source on Ancestry.com states that Anthony was a Revolutionary soldier and his name was spelled Corsat and Corsort in the “archives.” I did find an Anthony Corsat listed in the “Official Registry of the Officers and Man of New Jersey” however there is no real evidence that this is our Anthony especially since Anthony Corsat fought in the Middlesex County militia and our Anthony Cosart was from Somerset County. Anthony Cosart was of an age and in a location, New Jersey, where one would have expected him to have enlisted in the militia. Once again, additional research is necessary.
Patriot #22: Peter Harpending (1744-1840) It seems somewhat surprising that none of the descendents of Peter Harpending have sought membership in either the SAR or the DAR using Peter as their Revolutionary War Patriot ancestor. It is well documented that he was a strong proponent for independence from Britain and he served in the New Jersey militia. On his gravestone located in the Harpending Cemetery in Dundee, New York it reads: “Peter J Harpending, CPL Regt NJ Militia, 1744-1840.” New Jersey records state that Peter Harpending served in the Somerset County Militia in Capt. Jacob Ten Eyck’s Company. Peter no doubt was involved at least indirectly in the Battle of Bound Brook on April 13, 1777 which occurred near his Bound Brook home and tavern. Furthermore, the New Jersey militia played a major role at the battle at Monmouth on June 28, 1778 and Peter was no doubt present at the battle with his Company. While the New Jersey militia was noted primarily for their brief skirmishes with small British forces, at the Battle at Monmouth they actually lined up as units alongside Washington’s regular Continental Army and from their flanking positions they fired into the British lines. However, it was Peter Harpending’s activities before war broke out in New Jersey, for which he is most noted in American history. His name appears frequently in the History of Bound Brook, New Jersey. He was one of the leaders of a group within the congregation of the Bound Brook Presbyterian Church who were called the “Radicals” because they were outspoken in their insistence of complete freedom from British rule. Like the Sons of Liberty in Boston, the Radicals held meetings in a tavern owned by Peter Harpending named the “Frelinghuysen House.” The location of Peter’s tavern in Bound Brook is identified today with a roadside historical marker. In the history of Bound Brook, it identifies Peter as “a staunch patriot and one of the men of Somerset whom the Howes [British General William Howe and his brother] stigmatized as “arch-traitors,” and excepted from the general amnesty offered in 1776.” This was quite an honor at the time. In another section of the history, it goes on to say that Peter “was a trusted and unwavering friend of American Liberty.” Shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, Hendrik Fisher, a friend of Peter’s and the elected President of the Provincial Congress “ read the Declaration of Independence from the steps of the Frelinghuysen House [Peter’s tavern] while the bell (Kell’s Hall) tolled from the steps of the Presbyterian Church.” It brings tears to my eyes.
Patriot #23: Jacobus Rappleye (1742-1827) My great grandmother, Helen E. Rappleye Baker, joined the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution probably in the 1920s using her great grandfather Jacobus Rappleye’s service in the American revolution to qualify her for the membership. It is somewhat ironic that Helen and her husband, Asbury Baker, are buried in the Harpending Cemetery within a few yards of the grave of Asbury’s great, great grandfather, Peter Harpending, our Patriot #22. Helen identified her great grandfather as serving as a private in the Middlesex County, New Jersey Militia. This fact is confirmed as Jacobus’s name is included on page 729 of the “Official Register of the Officers and Men of New Jersey” although on this list his last name is spelled Rappleyea, a common alternate spelling of the Rappleye surname.
Patriot #24: Job Sayre (1758-1845) Job Sayre is included on the DAR listing of Revolutionary War soldiers and his great, great granddaughter submitted him as having served as a private under Captains Moffat and Denton on the New York Line. Serving on the New York Lines means that Job Sayre was a Continental soldier as opposed to a militiaman. I was unable to find out anything about Captain Moffat but I did find a Captain Daniel Denton who served in the Third Regiment of the New York Line, who was from Orange County as was Job Sayre, and his Regiment fought at the Battle of Saratoga. The problem is that I could not confirm that Job Sayre was ever in this regiment and his name is not included in a muster listing of the Third Regiment dated July 22, 1775. It is possible of course that he could have joined a Continental Regiment later. On the other hand, there is a great deal of evidence that Job Sayre was a private in the Third Regiment of the Orange County Militia under Company Captain Seth Marvin and Colonel John Hathorn. This happens to be the same Regiment that both Lieut. Col. Henry Wisner (Patriot #1) and Capt. Peter Bertholf (Patriot #2) served. The War lasted many years and it is entirely possible and probably a common occurrence, to find men who first served in their local militia and later joined their State Line of the Continental Army. In any case, long after the war ended in 1831, Job Sayre was granted a pension from the State of New York for his services in the “New York Militia.”
Patriot #25 & #26: Nathaniel Seeley (Seely) (1732-1799) and Nathaniel Seeley Jr. (1757-1810) The two Seeleys are combined together in this biography because they were father and son and because they both served during the Revolutionary War in the Fourth Regiment of the Westchester County (NY) Militia under Colonel Thaddeus Crane. This Regiment is known to have fought in the Battle of White Plains on October 28, 1776 and possibly at some of the other battles or skirmishes that occurred around the New York area during Washington’s failed efforts to save New York City from the British invasion forces from August thru October of 1776.
At least for now, this last biography ends the story of our Revolutionary War ancestors. This chapter may be updated as additional research yield new facts and new ancestor soldiers.