Pleasant Rest Cemetery, access limits, and the power of community

Picture of cemetery I visited today

Recently, as I was walking around Towson, me and my dad stumbled upon an unmarked cemetery. I took a few pictures and examined a few headstones. I wasn’t there to examine anything, but just explore. I did the same at a cemetery in Cape Cod and have gone to a bunch of cemeteries in the course of my genealogy research. But this was different. I had a suspicion it was a Black cemetery because one of the stones for a 64-year-old man named John E. Forman read as follows, who I’ll focus on later:

John E. Foreman who died on the 11th August 1909 in the 64th year of his age. He was a Trustee and Class Leader of the Zion African Methodist Church, Govanstown, of which his Father was one of the founders. He was an upright, industrious and…[cut off by grass]

After taking a couple other pictures, I went on my way, later posting them on Instagram. Once I got back home, I did some digging and found the name of the cemetery: Pleasant Rest Cemetery. As it turned out, the cemetery was a historic Black cemetery owned by Mt. Olive Baptist Church as noted in the Baltimore Sun in September 2011. Apart from learning how the Preservation Alliance of Baltimore County has set aside money to help preserve the cemetery (I’m not sure how much), the cemetery is still active with a burial there in September of last year. I also learned that the grandfather of Adelaide Bentley, President of the North East Towson Improvement Association, born in 1928, co-founded “the Mount Olive Baptist Church at the corner of York Road and Bosley Avenue” as the Baltimore Sun reported in February 2019. Not long after, the Mount Calvary African Methodist Episcopal Church was built, with the first stones laid in 1855. The church is specifically located on the corner of York Rd. and Bosley Ave. in Towson, with “a white steeple and a unique & stain glass window facing the road” as MapQuest describes it. I put together this article in hopes of submitting a description of the cemetery to Find A Grave as I suggested on Twitter. I learned a lot more than about the cemetery however.

Getting back to John E. Foreman. Who was this man, anyway? We know that the Zion African Methodist Church in Govanstown could have been a branch of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, a historically Black Protestant denomination based in New York City, officially officially recognized in 1821 and also known as the Freedom Church. It is not the same as the AME Church as some have pointed out. If correct, this church would be part of the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal District. I did some searching and found a mention of church in Govanstown in the 1874 Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church for the Years 1773-1881. Other books seemed to mention the church as well. After some searching, I came across a 1898 obituary of a man which appeared to be John E. Forman’s father, named William Waters Foreman, born in Govanstown, Md., October 12, 1821. This man was the son of Isaac Foreman, a local preacher of the Church. He was twice married, first to Miss Ruth Ann Weeks, of Baltimore, Md., November 12, 1843, and second to Mrs. Annie C. Molock, September 29, 1892.

Unfortunately, this obituary doesn’t list his children and I don’t know whether it was the correct person. We know that John E. Forman was born, approximately, in 1845 going by his age listed on his tombstone. Doing some searching, I found a John Forman living in Baltimore City in 1860, although it is not the same person. There is also one John Henry Foreman born in Prince George’s Parish in 1845, but I can’t confirm it is the same person. When I tried to search for ANYTHING on the 1900 census on FamilySearch, specifically to examine an entry for John Forman, I got this message:

This is a disgusting limitation on access. I remember when you used to be able to examine the 1900 census on FamilySearch. That’s no longer allowed unless you have special access. Why? This should be condemned without question. I also can’t access it on Ancestry unless I have a subscription. You can look through the ones added to the NARA catalog, but the entries for the 1900 census for Maryland have not been added yet. In any case, I continued onward.

Frustrated with this, I searched on some library databases and didn’t find much. Only some scattered articles, including one which lists a W.W. Foreman as a person being appointed for Buckeystown, Maryland in 1894. [1] Recommendations to help me fulfill this story are welcome.

Since that went nowhere, I decided to search for the church and cemetery. When it came to Mt. Olive Baptist Church, I found stories talking about its activities like entertaining the Relief Association of Baltimore County in 1926 and 1927 [2], how the Colored Baptist Convention was held there in 1911 [3], and the church hosted a bazaar in 1915. [4] There were a lot of false drops because of the number of churches also named “Mt. Olive Baptist Church” in other parts of the country. There are likely other stories there, but I’m not in the mood to weed through a bunch of sources right now. But, the door is open for others to expand this story. Undoubtedly, Louis Diggs writes about it in his book, Since the Beginning: African-American Communities in Towson, but more stories can still be told.

Searches for “Pleasant Rest Cemetery” were more successful. There were obituaries [5] and such, but most interesting was a 1921 article talking about the Timonium-Towson Trolley. [6] Here’s what it noted:

Shake hands with the only trolley car in Maryland that has a smokestack and coal scuttle, and travels a route that goes down hill both ways! ‘Tis the Timonium-Towson trolley. If  you think you can’t shake hands with her get in and take a ride, and you will not only shake hands but head, shoulders and teeth as well, particular in the neighborhood of the Pleasant Rest Cemetery, where departed members of the Mount Olive Baptist Church (colored) lie buried not far
from the track…But she stops anywhere. You can get right at your front door and now and then she goes around and stops at back doors. Of course she only stops at her regular stations, but they are plentiful enough; you wouldn’t want to stop in the middle of the woos or at the Pleasant Rest Cemetery, and those are about the only places where there aren’t any station.

That article was funny, but also revealing. I then came across an obituary in 1932 which revealed hat 73-year-old Alexander Frazier helped found and erect the Mt. Olive Baptist Church, seemingly with a man named James Williams. [7] What Rev. Avery Penn of the Mount Olive Baptist Church said, being tired of the county conducting negative actions that could affect his congregation, does give a bit of the background of the struggles the church has faced over the years:

In 1985 the county told us that we needed to move the church, move the church that had been there since 1888…To comply with the county, we tore it down, turned it around and moved back in. Guess what they told us. That is was going to be a gateway and it had to be something that would be pretty…We would walk out of the church, carry the body up to the cemetery on green ground. Baltimore County came along and decided that they would cut off the cemetery. They brought Bosley Avenue down across there, cut off what was Kenilworth and cut us off from the cemetery. They took the house — the church’s parsonage — you know where it was? It was right where Bosley Avenue is, right beside the church. The put it on telephone poles and they rolled it around behind the church, and that’s where it is today, that duplex house. Baltimore County did that. They built a fire house over there. They went where we walked up to the cemetery and they built a police station. And they told me I had to tear down the church and build something nice and I did it. Twenty six years later Baltimore County wants to take all my effort with the pretty church and come to the other side of the road and put a gas station.

This really shows the importance of the church to this community and its continuing value to this day. This is likely why White people have targeted the church in the past, not only by burning crosses outside the church but the vandalism of the church with White supremacist symbols in 2016. [8]

As a 1990s article about the church noted, it stands as a symbol of “the vibrant black community of Sandy Bottom that founded it and disappeared under the wheels of the commercial encroachment that has re-created Towson,” with much of the property which composed Sandy Bottom was “originally bought and settled by the families of freed slaves and eventually sold to white real estate agents and developers.” I personally stand with this church as it defends itself from encroachment by various forces, whether White developers, the County government, or anyone else.


Notes

[1] Special Dispatch to the,Baltimore Sun. “COLORED METHODISTS.: CLOSING SESSION–ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE APPOINTMENTS FOR 1894.” The Sun (1837-1994), Mar 13, 1894, pp. 6. ProQuest.

[2] “Towson, Md.” Afro-American (1893-1988), Nov 19, 1927, pp. 14. ProQuest; “TOWSON, MD.” Afro-American (1893-1988), May 29, 1926, pp. 12. ProQuest.

[3] “Maryland Baptist State Convention.” Afro-American (1893-1988), Jun 17, 1911, pp. 4. ProQuest.

[4] Special to The Afro-American Ledger. “Throughout the State of Maryland: LONG GREEN HAPPENINGS.” Afro-American (1893-1988), Apr 03, 1915, pp. 3. ProQuest.

[5] “DONALDSON, BARBARA A.: [FINAL EDITION].” The Sun, Jun 15, 2006, pp. 1. ProQuest; “JOHNSON, MADELON B.” The Sun, Mar 05, 2008. ProQuest; “BARGER, CHARLES.” The Sun, Sep 02, 2007. ProQuest; “JENKINS, SR., JAMES T.: [FINAL EDITION].” The Sun, Apr 02, 2006, pp. 1. ProQuest; “Mrs. Shurn.” Afro-American (1893-1988), Mar 12, 1966, pp. 18. ProQuest; “MRS. PINDER.” Afro-American (1893-1988), May 26, 1928, pp. 18. ProQuest. This is only a sampling of the obituaries listed for this cemetery on ProQuest.

[6] “Maryland’s Unique Trolley Car Runs Down Hill either Way: Voyage Over TimoniumTowson Route A Lesson to the Uninitiated “COASTING” SAVES BATTERIES’ “JUICE” One-Man Crew Becomes Expert in Conserving His Electricity.” The Sun (1837-1994), Dec 18, 1921, pp. 12. ProQuest.

[7] “AGED TOWSON MAN BURIED SUNDAY.” Afro-American (1893-1988), Feb 06, 1932, pp. 19. ProQuest. The church is also, apparently, mentioned within Neal A. Brooks and Eric G. Rockel‘s A History of Baltimore County, along other books.

[8] “2 from Towson Named in July Cross Burnings.” The Sun (1837-1994), Aug 26, 1980, pp. 1. ProQuest.

Interpreting history: thoughts on History Day

This post originally had thoughts on my presentation at the iSchool symposium, which has been incorporated into an upcoming e-book.

I’d like to talk about some thoughts on Maryland History Day, for which I judged this past weekend, including as a chief judge in the morning for senior individual websites. They included topics ranging from, as I noted on Twitter, the Apollo Missions to the Atomic Bomb. I also did runoffs for documentaries, with topics including “Cocoanut Grove, Stonewall Riot, Thalidomide tragedy, ACT-UP, the Osage indigenous people (and oil), and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire,” some of which I had not heard of before. As I awaited the winners, I already knew that the group documentaries I had reviewed had won, documentaries like “Last Dance at the Cocoanut Grove” (by Aidan Goldenberg-Hart, Daniel Greigg, Eli Protas, Joey Huang, and Charles Shi) which got first place, and “From Inefficient to Inspiring: How the Stonewall Riots Changed LGBT Activism” (by Pallavi Battina and Amulya Puttaraju) which got second place. However, when it came to individual websites, one of the ones I reviewed got first place! It was titled “Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington: How Their Investment in People Led from Tragedy to Triumph” and it was by Matthew Palatnik. None of the websites my group had nominated for special prizes won. So that was positive.

History Day made it clear to me that even the topics often written about can be talked about in a new way, with a new interpretation, with these students entering the process of historical research, so I wish them the best in the days going forward. In June, I will serve as a judge on the national level of History Day at College Park, which should be fun!

In closing, there is a strain that connects the visualizations I made this semester and Maryland History Day: the importance of history and interpretations of what happened, allowing for new insights and thoughts, enriching how our collective past is understood.

Challenges of archival digitization, Robert Caro, and digital archives

Recently, when going through LinkedIn, I came upon a post by Margot Note, whom wears many hats simultaneously as a records manager, archivist, author, and consultant, about the shifting concepts of preservation in the digital world, which had been written last fall. She argues that information professionals, like archivists, have questioned existing assumptions about preservation, with the creation of new principles to born-digital materials (like tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts) and those materials which are digitized. This change is happening while physical records deemed to have “enduring value” are still acquired, stored, and made accessible. She goes on to state that the ever-changing digital landscape has added complexities to archival practice, altering existing procedures, especially in the realm of preservation, since those methods used to preserve physical paper materials no longer translate to digital resources, requiring new methods. For example, she notes that you can’t reverse preservation treatments for digital records, unlike with paper records, such as migrating digital files to new formats when old ones are not usable anymore. These are transformations that, hopefully, do not constrain the original functionality of records.

She also adds that for digital materials, the content is what important, not the carrier for such content and that unlike physical paper materials, which may not deteriorate rapidly if they are ignored, digital files are stored on media that “deteriorates, and rely on hardware and software that may no longer be available” which means that neglect is not an option. This means that despite differences in preserving digital and paper materials (often called “analog” or “legacy” materials), some practices can apply to both, like appraisal and addressing information as a collection rather than on an individual level, while recognizing that all materials have “the tendency to decay.” She ends by saying that digital and paper preservation considers needs of patrons, with action needed, ultimately, to preserve materials in the immediate future, “ensure the survival of research materials for our users,” and ultimately sustain “cultural heritage for the next generation.”

While this is a good start, there is a lot more to talk about. I could bring in some of her other publications, like a book on family archives [1], but I’d like to broaden the scope. This article will talk about the challenge of digitization in archives (with connection to Robert Caro’s recent comments) and challenges of digital archives. There will also be a connection to sister institutions of archives, libraries, which are distinct in and of themselves [2], as I have noted on this blog in the past, even as you get a MLIS/MLS (Master of Library and Information Science or the rapidly dwindling Master of Library Science) to study…archives. As the SAA notes on their “So You Want to Be an Archivist” page, the “number and content of archival education offerings, especially multi-course programs, has continued to expand in recent years, and a few institutions now offer master’s degrees in archival studies.” I’ve recently wondered why degrees like archival science (or perhaps archival studies) are not more widely offered, but perhaps that is a discussion which can branch out from this post.

Robert Caro’s faulty argument and archival digitization

From the NARA Strategic Plan (2014-2018).

In order to begin this discussion, I am reminded of some dialogue in the 1971 science fiction movie, The Andromeda Strain. One character, Mr. Mark Hall (played by James Olson) asks “where is the library?” to which his colleague, Dr. Charles Dutton (played by David Wayne) responds: “No need for books. Everything’s in the computer.” And the movie goes on, as there is no more discussion. Later on, the computer does have an error and overload when too much information is inputted by the scientists, the “heroes” of this film in this top-secret facility in the Nevada desert called “Wildfire.” The fact that everything is stored on the computer is not mentioned in any reviews of the movie I have found, and as such, perhaps people should revisit this movie for just this reason, as it is still relatively enjoyable. We have gotten to the point that everything is “in the computer” like in this film, not only with libraries and other public institutions, but more and more with archival institutions in recent days.

That brings us to the recent debate of what Robert Caro, a presidential scholar of the Johnson Administration said about digitization, whom was criticized by fellow archivists on the Twittersphere (and likely elsewhere), of archival records. He tried to describe how people are differently interacting with the records now than they had in the past, in the “pre-internet” days, those before the internet was publicly available, the days in which it was available only to universities and the government which Joe McMillian tried to exploit in a few episodes (starting with the Yerba Buena episode) of the third season of the short-lived series, Halt and Catch Fire, but not having much success as the show is all about failure.

Caro’s words come from a recent interview by of Popular Mechanics because of the publication of his new book, Working, about his research process, apparently a #1 best-seller on Amazon. He told the interviewer  that he still does much of his writing on a typewriter although he has a laptop on his desk (apparently a Lenovo ThinkPad). This is because he was told by those at the Johnson Presidential Library that his “typewriter was so noisy, it was disturbing the other researchers” which is telling. He also tells the interviewer that he took notes on his computer but still uses his typewriter and writes in longhand (who does that anymore?). While some would argue that this is fine, what he stated next is what was criticized by archivists on Twitter:

It [writing on a typewriter] makes me think more. Today everybody believes fast is good. Sometimes slow is good. Almost two years ago, Ina [Caro’s wife] and I went down [to the archives], and I’m sitting there, in the reading room, writing my notes. Everybody else is standing there taking photographs of their documents. They do it with cell phones now. If you saw me there, you’d see one person who’s not in the modern age.

Now, while each researcher can choose their own way to use documents, it seems like he is glaring down on those whom use their phones, or other electronic devices, to take pictures of documents. How can you even argue that those individuals are not taking their own notes or that they can think the same amount when using digital devices? As Jan Murphy, a family historian whom is a big fan of encouraging people to take notes, added on Twitter, it wouldn’t be right to “insist on all handwritten notes all the time,” the latter of which is “just nuts.” Adding to this is the fact that digital photos can be transcribed at home, even comparing information from different archives. Additionally, sometimes people like Caro, whom could be considered to be part of the traditionalist/silent generation since he was born in 1935, may not even be able to read their own handwriting! This is the case with other people, especially those whom have dysgraphia, with the extent this learning disability affects the general population not currently known. With this, we should also consider that not everyone has the leisure/ability to transcribe material needed from an archive in longhand. Some, as Murphy noted in another tweet, would rather “spend the time in the archive, having taken my photo, making notes about the record’s condition & taking notes for my source citation etc.” The question is simple, as Murphy, who sometimes wishes she had a small manual typewriter when electricity is off, asks, posing a question which Caro never really answers: “But what’s wrong with taking digital photos of records in archives?” I could concur with that. I don’t see anything wrong with it. In fact, I would argue that institutions like the Maryland State Archives are examples of institutions which allow electronic devices such as phones to take photos of documents.

After this, he goes into the use of paper records:

I feel there’s something very important, to be able to turn the pages yourself. I don’t want anything standing in between me and the paper. People compliment me on finding out how [Johnson] rose to power so fast in Congress by using money. That happened down there, and it was a vague, amorphous thing. I was sitting there with all these boxes, taking all these notes. And you saw letters, his very subservient letters—“Can I have five minutes of your time?”—and then you see the same letters coming back to him. And I said, Something happened here. What’s the explanation? Why is a committee chairman writing to Lyndon Johnson, asking for a few minutes of his time? So I sat there and put my notes into chronological order. And then it became absolutely clear. Would the same thing have happened if I’d stood there taking photographs and went back? Possibly. But I don’t believe it. To me, being in the papers is really important.

While I understand what he is saying here, more and more records are online than ever before, meaning that the records of the Obama Administration and future presidencies will undoubtedly be different from those of the Johnson Administration. Caro is almost stuck back in time, part of the old guard of presidential scholars whom inhabited presidential libraries (which can more accurately be called presidential archives). I won’t touch on the plans for the Obama Library only because I have written on that topic for one of my classes at UMD and it may be published in an academic journal in the future (fingers crossed), so I don’t want to tread on the same topics in this post. I would add that using paper records is not the only way to interact with records, as users can easily interact with them online using new and exciting methods.

From here, Caro becomes a bit ridiculous:

Well, there’s no reason why that [a deep dive through thousands of digital pages of emails] has to be a different kind of research. Someone else could come along who was nuts like me and say, I’m going to look at every email. What’s more worrisome to me is that, when you talk about digitization, somebody has to decide what’s digitized. I don’t want anyone deciding what I can see. It’s very hard to destroy a complete paper trail of something. Lyndon Johnson was very secretive, and he wanted a lot of stuff destroyed. But the fact is, they were cross-referencing these pages into ten or twenty or thirty different files. There’s always something. But the whole idea of emails—I don’t use emails, I may be wrong—I’m not sure there’s a trail like that. It’s too easy to delete.

While he makes a good point that there can be the same kind of research, that doesn’t mean he is right overall. It is laughable for him to claim that “when you talk about digitization, somebody has to decide what’s digitized” and to then declare “I don’t want anyone deciding what I can see.” Clearly, he does not, understand the fundamental archival principle of appraisal, which has been debated from the time of those like British archivist Hilary Jenkinson in 1922 and U.S. archivist T.R. Schellenberg in 1956, the selection and description within archives. The records he is looking at, while researching at the Johnson Library, are chosen by professional archivists, specifically those from NARA, so people are deciding what he can see. As such, deciding what records are digitized is also a responsibility of archivists, which will be explained later in this post.

He further claims that it is “very hard to destroy a complete paper trail of something.” I’m not actually completely sure about that. Taking from NARA’s official history of presidential libraries, they write that before these libraries came about, with impetus from FDR in 1939 when he donated his personal papers to the federal government, presidential papers were often dispersed by former presidents and their heirs after their time in office. They further note that while many collections of records exist of presidents before Hoover at the Library of Congress, others are divided between historical societies, libraries, and private collectors. Even worse, as they acknowledge, “many materials have been lost or deliberately destroyed.” So, a “complete paper trail,” as he described it, CAN be destroyed.

Considering that “Lyndon Johnson was very secretive, and he wanted a lot of stuff destroyed” as he notes, this contradicts his point that it is “very hard to destroy a complete paper trail of something.” I mention this because it would mean that if Johnson wanted, he could have worked to destroy a complete paper trail, especially since it was after Watergate that presidential records were considered property of the federal government rather than “private property” of the former Presidents, a view also widely held in the archival profession at the time. Furthermore, when he talks about cross-referencing of the pages, he seems to not understand how emails work. This is no surprise from someone who doesn’t “use emails,” as he admits! He claims that he is not “sure there’s a trail like that” and that “it’s too easy to delete” emails. While it is true is easy to “delete” them, think about “deleted” files on a computer. They are not really deleted but rather the directory to them is eliminated. The same is also true of any file, whether a PDF, a photograph, or something else you upload online: the file is never truly deleted, but only the directory to it is deleted. Just like when you throw something away in a garbage can, it is not simply eliminated, but it is sent somewhere else, like a horrid waste-to-energy plant or an overflowing landfill. There was actually a whole Futurama episode about an overly wasteful society back in May 1999, titled “A Big Piece of Garbage.”

As Curl Hopkins wrote in The Daily Dot six years ago, when a user “deletes” an email normally it becomes “invisible to that user and is immediately a candidate to be overwritten” but until then it exists and it may even “persist longer on company servers.” He further notes that even if a computer is “taken off your computer, it may still be available on the host’s server,” adding that you must “presume that any email you compose will be available remain accessible forever,” although secure email services are available. There may still be “elements that indicate the prior presence of the email” and logins that are often retained, to say the least. Even one article recommending how to delete emails forever warns that “some online email services maintain an offline backup of email accounts,” adding that “your permanently deleted email may still reside in these inaccessible backups…There is no way to force immediate deletion of emails in these backups.” Also, there are specific data retention rules on the federal level and likely within various organizations, which require retention of such emails. I am also reminded here of “Testimony” (S4, ep9) of Veep. I mention this because, at one point during the episode, Mike McLintock (played by Matt Walsh), the incompetent press secretary, is brought before a congressional committee. He thinks he deleted the voice memos of then-president, Selina Meyer (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus). In fact, as the committee reminds him, these memos exist in the cloud and they plan to listen to them for any further evidence in their investigation! [3]

With that, it leads to the next part of this post, which goes to a question that the public, taken in by stereotypes about archivists, often asks of archivists and archival institutions.

Why can’t everything be digitized?

In May 2017, Samantha Thompson, an archivist at the Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives, wrote a post which aimed to answer the question of why archivists don’t digitize everything since it is a common question. As such, it is clearly important to remind people who not everything is digitized and that, in fact, “only a tiny fraction of the world’s primary resources are available digitally,” coupled with the fact that archivists and librarians themselves are “behind the abundance of primary sources already available on the internet” while organizations like the Internet Archive, or Ancestry.com have raised “public expectations about access to historical resources.” [4] She goes onto argue that digitization, the “production of an electronic image of these record,” saves information from a paper record, but it does not produce “a clone of the record” but rather results in an “approximation…of a dimension of the record,” often called a surrogate. She further notes that while archivists commonly digitize records in order to increase access (which some cataloguers do as well), they also argue (rightly) that mass digitization is costly in time and money, which sometimes people are skeptical of, not realizing that “large-scale digitization in an institutional setting is not your average home scanning operation.” There a few reasons for this, including archives holding vast amounts of material, with digitizing of even small archival collections as a big-time commitment since many groups of archival records are not easy to scan in quickly.

For instance, while you could use an automatic feeder to quickly scan a stack of pages, the benefits of such speed must be “weighed against the risk of a one-of-a-kind document being mangled by a paper jam” which is always a concern! This means you must engage in manually scanning which includes tasks such as removing staples (and paper clips), positioning the item, processing the images, and entering the appropriate metadata, all of which is a lot of work. As such, “scanning a single archival box of records can take days” as she puts it. This is even more the case if records within the file are various shapes and sizes, or if they are large enough that they must be scanned in sections and “digitally stitched together.” While sometimes taking a photograph is the best option, you need a “high-quality photographic set-up including lighting, document holders, and a camera with an appropriate lens” which obviously is expensive enough that not all institutions can afford such a set-up. This means that scanning produces not an exact copy of the record “but only an impression of certain aspects of it” and it may be hard to convey annotations (like sticky notes) on the paper record itself in a digital form, or physical characteristics of the paper records. This brings us to one of the most important parts: linking the digitized record to crucial information, which is often called metadata, some of which is technical and other parts that describe the record itself. The latter is information like a date or time the record was created. But some elements are more complex like determining the “story of the person or organization that created it.” As she puts it rightly, an individual record “within an archival collection does not tell us its whole story.” This means that without vital descriptive work of paper records in the first place, those electronic records which are produced through digitization would be an unusable and undifferentiated mass.

She goes onto note that since digitization involves investment of resources and time, archivists need to be clear that the electronic files produced adequately represent the originals, meaning there need to be quality control checks in place. This involves factors such as scanning resolutions, typing accuracy and photographic skill, since archivists are responsible for ensuring that “people are getting a reliable and authentic view of records.” There is another conundrum with digitization itself: archivists are required to not only retain the paper originals but the digital files as well. These are files that are subject to disorder and decay just like paper records, with a tiny shift causing a set of errors, with even unused data subject to random degradation and loss, often called “bit rot.” Coupled with this is the question of future readability of the data, since digitization of files is not worthwhile if no one can open the files as software and the accompanying “hardware inevitably becomes obsolete.” Luckily for all of us, especially those in the archival field, archivists are at the forefront of pushing boundaries of digital longevity as technologies and file format standards are improving. However,as she notes, the “average lifespan of a hard or flash drive is still a fraction of that of a piece of paper stored in optimal conditions” with digital data needing to be stored in specific temperature conditions as well. All of this means that when anything is digitized, archivists commit to maintaining the digital file and the original on which that file is based.

This connects to the resources required for digitization and post-digitization duties. For one, cameras and scanners which are high-resolution which can accurately capture the data are relatively expensive, with the same being the case for software to process images and attain digital storage which is secure. In order for digitization to “make a dent” in an average archival collection, a scanner, or several scanners, need to be constantly working, with some large archivists maintaining specific digitization units while smaller institutions fit it in when and where they can among their other duties. As a result, digitization of specific records is often part of projects which are funded by partnerships or grants, as she notes. In terms of the post-digitization duties, it is needed to make sure that the records are responsibly shared on the web, after checking with donor(s) to make sure the records can be freely shared in the first place with some not wanting this to happen for various reasons or due to copyright restrictions. Such sharing is important as it allows archivists to make the full meaning of records available to those accessing them online.

As such, digitization itself, as she argues, is a process that is approached by archivists methodically. This requires, of course, assessing archival collections beforehand in order to determine whether the records are worth being shared and digitized. Such a process takes time, even if an “inexpensive pool” of labor can be mobilized, along with a big investment of resources and time. As a result, as she puts it, we may never, in fact, have everything digitized, with trials and triumphs of digitization being a “constantly unfolding process” while new models are coming about. With that, access is still important, as is digitization, with archivists continuing to “grapple with this immensely powerful way to broadcast the knowledge we steward.” Her article ends by stating that everyone can help support digitization through sharing information that goes with a photograph from an institutional collection, and to, most important of all: “be curious about what archivists, information professionals, and cultural workers do.” The latter requires, of course, asking questions and spreading answers, since the more people who understand the value of archivists, the more support they will get, and the more support archivists can provide to the public at-large.

It is worth recalling here a paper I wrote last semester (which will likely never be published anywhere academically) where I asked different archival institutions about their approach to digitization, using different forms of interaction, like Twitter, email, web-form submissions, and web-chat (AskUsNow!), the latter which is relatively horrible/annoying from my experience, although others may have had different experiences. [5] One of the best responses I got was from Corey Lewis of the Maryland State Archives (MSA) whom told me that I could personally contact him if I was interested in their digitization efforts. It was a response of high quality I wouldn’t have gotten if I had just looked on their website. To this day, they still don’t have their digitization strategy on their website from what I can tell (perhaps its hidden somewhere). I also got responses back from the Council of State Archives (CoSA) on digitization and even from the Oregon State Archives, the latter of which I hadn’t even tweeted to, which was impressive. In a similar manner to the person from the MSA, I got a message from Joanne Archer, the head of Access and Outreach Services at Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Maryland Libraries, which said I could send her any further questions. Interestingly, when it comes to digitization they do not “directly solicit campus input.”

With that, we can move into the final part of this post which focuses on challenges of digital archives and the digital world.

Challenges of digital archives and the current digital landscape

In the “Mars University” episode of Futurama, which first aired on October 3rd, 1999, the Planet Express crew go to Mars, which has, in the universe of this wondrous animated sitcom, been terraformed and has a typical college campus called Mars University. Before the episode becomes an homage/parody to Animal House, there is a scene where Professor Farnsworth tells Leela, Fry, and Bender about the Wong Library, adding that it has “the largest collection of literature in the Western universe.” After that, Fry looks in and sees these two disks:

That’s obviously the joke, and is more than a “bookish moment.” It’s basically saying that all the knowledge can be stored on two disks. It’s still kinda funny, although the joke is dated, as these are supposed to be something like CDs (which first came about in 1982). In a future post I’ll definitely bring in the Futurama episode (“Lethal Inspection”) that fellow archivist Samantha Cross of POP Archives reviewed, when I get to that season, as I’m currently only on Season 2 of the show as I plan to re-watch all the show’s episodes, over time.

This brings us to digital archives, specifically, which goes beyond the digitization of paper files. This applies to files which are born-digital. It requires, of course, a digital preservation policy as Margot Note, who was cited at the beginning of this article, writes about, which would need to be integrated into the program of an archives itself. It would also necessitate collaboration with other institutions and individuals in preserving digital records, and making sure that digital preservation is specifically tailored to your institution. Beyond this, there are two elements that apply to digital archives: choosing what will be preserved and file formats that are sustainable.

For the first element, I turn to an article, again, by Margot Note. She writes that selection and appraisal of digital records is similar to physical records,but that long-term preservation of digital records relies on “understanding of how file formats work.” It also requires, as she notes, access to the appropriate hardware and software, with the appropriate skills, with the unavailability of these factors in an archival institution meaning that preservation of the digital files will not be successful. As such, technical appraisal of the digital files, themselves, considers whether they can be read, then subsequently documented, processed and finally preserved. Helping choose what digital archives preserve depends on whether the content itself is relevant to the mission of the archival institution, the historical value of the records, specifically if they have enduring value or are significant socially or culturally. For the digital records themselves, archivists also need to consider the integrity of the files, if they are usable or reliable. This means answering whether the materials themselves are in “preservation-friendly file formats” and if there are limits on the records, in terms of privacy or intellectual property, which makes them “inaccessible for research.” Another important factor, as she describes is funding since the preservation and management of such digital records is by no means cheap. Finally, she notes that one must consider whether the digital records are unique or whether they are fully documented. She adds that keeping everything, when it comes to digital files, is not wise, since there are limited resources and mechanisms to search (and access) collections of a large-scale are often not adequate, and that selection curates collections which will ultimately have “high research value.” She ends with her point that no matter how complicated the systems for managing digital records become, people need to be involved in choosing what is preserved as digital archival records. Even with the possible automation of some decisions in days to come, archivists would need to balance benefits of saving certain digital records over other digital records, at a time that archivists continue to rise to the challenge of selecting and maintenance of “digital artifacts in a changing technological landscape” as she puts it.

In a related article, she writes about archivists choosing the right and sustainable file formats. This relates to digital archives because the sustainability of digital records in and of themselves depends on file formats that will last for long times, with the Library of Congress putting in place “some criteria for predicting sustainable file formats in digital archives” as she puts it. It further requires considering whether a format is widely used, the files can be identified, specifications of file formats are publicly available and documented, the files can function on a variety of services (be interoperable), and they have an open format since issues with licensing, patents, digital rights, and property rights complicate preservation efforts. She points to efforts by the Digital Preservation Coalition to analyze file formats which are commonly used. She also writes that over time some file formats have become preferred over others, like TIFF files used as master images for preservation during digitization and PDF/A as a standard file format. Even so, some standards for file formats are still in flux, with no consensus among archivists, as she puts it, as to what “file format or codecs should be used for preservation purposes for digital video”! At the closing of her article, she argues that regardless of the preservation actions you take, having file formats that are sustainable is crucial, since having file formats which are lasting influences the “feasibility of protecting content” in the face of a changing environment in the technological world where repositories and users co-exist at the present.

Speaking of all of this, I am reminded of an ongoing study by S.C. Healy, a PhD candidate in digital humanities at a university based in Ireland (Maynooth University), trying to find how “wider research and cultural heritage communities’ can progress from creating web archives to establishing paradigms to use web archives for study and research.” I plan to sign up for this study as I’ve talked about web archiving in several classes. This is relevant since, as Genealogy Jude, as she calls herself on Twitter, noted, “the Internet…has shifted the demographic profile of genealogists.” This matters to archives and archivists because many of those genealogists are some of the most common users of libraries. [6] In fact, one of the articles I found during my research for my paper on the Obama Library, a scholar in the 1990s (I don’t remember the exact date), National History Day, where I am being a judge again this year on the state and national levels, and connecting with genealogists as a way to bring in more users to archival institutions.

Perhaps we can even bring in one of the SAA words of the week, specifically level of description. Simply it is defined as the “level of arrangement of the unit being described” and the “completeness or exhaustiveness of the description.” It connects to recent discussions like one at Hornbake Library recently which focuses on impact of digital repositories, which is in the same realm as digital archives. Perhaps discussions like this will make it easier to define what archivists do and what archives are, as some have tried to do through teaching.

I also think about, apart from creation of some digital archives portals, of what Lilly Carrel, archivist at the Menil Archives in Houston said about digital preservation: “I think digital preservation offers creative ways to enhance the post-custodial approach and ensure important records are preserved” whom was recently interviewed by Vince Lee of the SAA’s Committee of Public Awareness, also known as COPA. That is even more the case when there are digital archives, whether completely digital or part of traditional archival institutions like those at universities or serving specific states. There is also a job at the Library of Congress about web archiving, with applications that close on May 1.

With all of this, there is, not surprisingly, a debate among scholars, especially in the field of archives and libraries, over a possible difference between a digital library and a digital archives. Some within the field say there is a difference, while others dismiss that, arguing that there is not. Currently, I don’t want to go down that road, or talk about some continuing tension between historians and archivists, despite past efforts by the SAA to make connections with the AHA, the American Historians Association. I also could talk more about the challenges when it comes to archiving born-digital material, but perhaps I will revisit that in a future post on here.

I’ll end with what one archivist, blogging on the New Archivist WordPress over five years ago, put it, “please keep up the discussions, and contribute in ways that you think have value,” adding that the “seeming lack of support in public” doesn’t mean that archivists are not doing anything. [7] That is what I am trying to do with post and this blog, as a whole, changing from a focus on historical explorations about the Maryland Extra Regiment, the Maryland Loyalist Regiment, reprinting past posts and biographies I wrote when I worked at the MSA on the First Maryland Regiment, which is often called the Maryland 400, and other topics, as readers of this blog from the beginning will know. This all connects to my newfangled newsletter on SubStack, which I recommend readers of this blog subscribe to, which I hope expands in the days to come.

Until next time! I look forward to all of your comments.


Notes

[1] She has written so much that I recommended that she could even write a few e-books. She has actually written a number of books already, like Creating Family Archives: How to Preserve Your Papers and Photographs, a paperback book, and two other books more specifically for information professionals: Project Management for Information Professionals (seems like a textbook, although she calls it a “handbook“) and Managing Image Collections: A Practical Guide (Chandos Information Professional Series) (a guide for those at institutional archives, perhaps?).

[2] If you want to know more about the distinction between the two, there is a new book published by the SAA (Society of American Archivists), titled Archives in Libraries: What Librarians and Archivists Need to Know to Work Together, which seems to make these distinctions and could be a good read. I can’t give a firmer assessment as I have not read the book.

[3] Interestingly, in the review of this episode by Kate Kulzick of A.V. Club, this part of the episode is not mentioned. In fact, Mike’s role in the episode is not mentioned at all!

[4] If you are interested, I’d also recommend reading “How do archivists organize collections?“, “How Do Archivists Describe Collections? (or, How to Read a Finding Aid)“, and most importantly “What do archivists do all day?“, two of which are also by Samantha Thompson.

[5] Perhaps at a later time I’ll bring in my other papers I have currently uploaded to academia.edu like “The concept of a Baltimorean Homeless Library (BHL),” “Uggles and the University of Illinois: a very furry situation indeed!,” and “Strategic Plan Analysis–Maryland State Library Resource Center (SLRC),” the latter of which is relatively technical. All of these are mainly in the realm of libraries rather than archives, however.

[6] She also stated, in a tweet following, that it is good that genealogy has found new people with “energy and new ideas, otherwise it would be a dying hobby” which I will agree with, as a millennial genealogist myself, beyond what someone like fellow genealogist Amy Johnson Crow will describe. Others whom responded to her said that its a time-consuming hobby, while others said that retired people still have some advantages over young people, and her responding to a concern that the internet has isolated people (not an invalid concern), that “the Internet has enabled people to contact relatives and share research much more easily than before” which also is a valid point! This also includes, as Carolynn, another genealogist, argued: “challenging racist, misogynistic and xenophobic genealogists” even if that can be hard. At the same time, I see those, in the wake of the racist ancestry.com ad (for Ancestry Canada) to grumble about how much they “hate” them, for justified reasons, although I don’t necessarily feel the same as a person whom runs two genealogy blogs and is a family historian for both my mom and dad’s side of the family. I seem to sympathize more with those whom say that there are reasons “why you can’t rely on search engines like @Ancestry” with misspellings and mistaken listings.

[7] They also said that the lack of supportive views on Twitter or lists “does not mean that the vast majority of people are not appalled by the few rude ones” but rather that the latter are shown indifference by the many.

Lisa Oakley and the saga of John Plant

On June 26, I received a voicemail message from Lisa Oakley, a family eldercare coach in California, about her Maryland ancestor, John Plant, a member of the Maryland 400. [1] This blog aims to address her email, adding new information to John Plant’s story. I begin by using content from existing blogposts: “The post-war lives of Maryland’s revolutionary soldiers“; ““Ready to march Southward”: The story of the Maryland Extra Regiment”; “The story of the Extra Regiment’s ordinary soldiers: From McCay to Patton“;  and ““…the new Regiment now raising”: Continuing the story of the Extra Regiment.” All copyrighted material used falls under the fair use exception to U.S. copyright law as it is used for educational purposes here.

John Plant was a Charles County man who had fought in the Maryland Line, specifically part of Captain John Hoskins Stone’s First Company of the First Maryland Regiment, enlisting in Port Tobacco, Maryland. In 1781, as an experienced soldier, he served as an ensign, then lieutenant in the new Maryland Extra Regiment. He likely resigned in January 1782 as he could not retain this rank in the new unit. Still he returned as a “supernumerary” to Annapolis, beginning to receive payments after his military service eventually resulting in a pension years later.

After the war, he lived in Charles County, becoming a “well-off small farmer and slaveowner who owned two horses, one cattle, and one enslaved black child.” On June 15, 1788 he married an eighteen-year-old woman named Mary Ann Davis, with some recalling his military service in later years.Later on, Plant and Mary lived in Washington, D.C., which was then a “largely rural and sparsely populated area which had thriving ports at Georgetown and Alexanders, in addition to the federal town of Washington City, which had about 8,200 inhabitants,” with slavemasters and over 7,900 enslaved blacks being an important part of society. Plant died in DC on November 14, 1808. Many years after his death, his widow, Mary, tried to get John’s pension payments but had trouble doing so, leading her to almost be “deprived of a pension.”

What new information does Ms. Oakley add to this story? Well, John Plant’s bio managed by the Maryland State Archives, which I originally wrote back in 2016, reflects some changes, but not all. She says that he went to Prince William County, Virginia after the war as a “tenant farmer,” with a witness to his will being a “tavern owner just to the south side of the Occoquan River.” The will she attached is transcribed below, which was  tough due to the quality of the image she sent of the will (likely because it was taken on a cell phone). However, by  happenstance, someone else had transcribed this already (which I stumbled upon), so I’ll reprint their transcription, with bolding being my  emphasis:

JOHN PLANT Will

Prince William County Will Book I, pg. 3414 [sic, 414?]

10 Nov 1808; proved 5 Dec 1808

In the name of God Amen I JOHN PLANT of County of Prince William and State of Virginia being sick and weak in body but of perfect mind and memory knowing it is appointed for all men once to die do make and ordain this my last will and testament that is to say principally and first of all I give and recommend my soul into the hand of Almighty God that gave it and my body I recommend to the Earth to buried in decent Christian bureal at the discretion of my Executrix nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of God and as touching such worldly estate wharewith it has pleased God to bless me in this life.  I devise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form.  First I give and bequeath to MARY PLANT my loving wife al my estate real and personal for and during her life and at her death to be equally divided between my two daughters GRAYSON and SARAH to them and their heirs forever.  I constitute my loving wife MARY PLANT my sole Exetrix of this my last will and testament.  In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this tenth day of November in the year 1808.

JOHN PLANT {seal}

Witness

ZACH WARD

DAVID JOHNSTON

At a Court held for Prince William County Decemr. 5th 1808

This last will and testament of JOHN PLANT decd was presented to the Court by MARY PLANT the Executrix therein named who made oath to the same according to law and being proved by the oaths of ZACHARIAH WARD and DAVID JOHNSTON is ordered to be recorded and the said Executrix having performed what is usual in such cases certificate is granted her for obtaining a probate thereof in due form.

Teste

J.WILLIAMS  Ct. Cur.

I tried to look for another version of this on Family Search and Ancestry, but was sadly unsuccessful.We do know from this that he died between November 10 and December 5th. According to his pension, we know he died on November 14. Finding his cemetery may be extremely hard, as there are no results for the name Plant in Prince William County, Virginia and Find A Grave lists 279 cemeteries in that county! We know that Prince William County sits right on the Potomac and is 36 miles away from the heart of D.C. Still, possible candidates  for where he could be buried includes Woodbridge, Sudley Springs, or elsewhere. Yet, the family narrative, noted at the end of this post claims he is buried in Charles County, Maryland. But no results come up for Plant in that county either. Some sources seemed to say he had land in the county.I looked at MDLandRec to see if I could find anything. I found a listing for Horatio Plant in 1814, interestingly enough:

He is listed on Liber 213, no. 10, p. 519

I looked further, finding a James Plant in 1755 (Liber A, no. 1 1/2, p. 345) and 1757 (Liber G, no. 3, pp 129, 157). On the next page there were no listings for any individuals with the Plant surname at all! Looking at it in another indice gave me the same exact result:

Should be IB, not JB

I tried to look for Liber A, no. 1 1/2, p. 345 but no results came up. The link to it in the Guide to Government Records did not work when I tried it. I looked at pages 129 and 157 of Liber G, no.  3. It shows James Plant owning a piece of land called St. Michaels, which was 100 acres in 1757. Other records that year show Plant buying even more land, related to the Saint Michaels tract, from Richard Coffer. The next set of records are in 1814. Its between George Bradley Stewart of D.C., Horatio Plant and his wife Mary Cassandra Plant of Montgomery County, MD, Mary Eleanor Stewart of Montgomery County, MD, and William Dement of Charles County, MD. George, Horatio, Mary, and Mary paid William Dement $500 for a tract of land called South Hampton which is between tracts owned by John Thurman Stoddert (later a congressmember who would introduce Mary Ann’s pension claim), and Mary  Truman Fendall. And that’s it!

I checked on Plats to see if there was anything on Saint Michaels. It turns out there was an entry, but it was back in 1664. But, it doesn’t seem to be on Plats. I did find South Hampton however. It was unpatented in 1799. There is a long history, with the specifics of the land. The land itself is basically a set of rectangles and squares, nothing to write home about:

Courtesy of plats.net

The family trees on Ancestry aren’t very reliable on this subject, claiming that John was born in England in 1755,  with debate on whether he died in  Charles, Maryland or Prince William County, Virginia. I seem to think that he died in the latter place. [2] One Ancestry user and high school social studies teacher, named Adam Parry (who also commented below this post, vouching for the accuracy of his information, but I’ll still keep this comment here), writes that “John lived for a time in Northern Virginia in Prince William County based upon his will and my ability to locate one of the witnesses to the will.” Both of these trees cite the U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970 database, which is notoriously unreliable, having no source for their information put reprints, some pages from his pension:

Through Ancestry’s Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files database, I  was able to find the whole pension, which I have uploaded as a PDF onto this website (I eliminated the pages with little or no content, as they are irrelevant).

But, saying he lived in Washington, D.C., as my old bio said, was not totally wrong, as it says now: “By 1808, the family had settled in Prince William County, Virginia, not far from Washington, DC.” [3] This connects to the fact that 6 months before he died (in November 1808), ” he apprenticed his sons Nathaniel and John to business people in DC.” The records are shown below:

In her third point, she writes that “John Plant had a sister Sarah Ann Plant Stewart Jones” with her obituary she was “able to determine that she attended St. Ignatius Parish prior to moving to DC in 1795. It states that she was born in Charles County.” That record, from page 3 of the National Journal on September 26, 1829, is shown below:

On her fourth point, she says that “Mary Ann Davis, [as] 2nd wife to John Plant,” living out “the rest of her life in DC with her youngest daughter Sarah Ann Plant Hay and son in law.” She adds that Mary Ann died in 1841 with a “burial location is the now- abandoned St. Patricks Church cemetery in DC” (as also evidenced by the Find A Grave she put up) with “notes written up by Agnes Plant who was the great-granddaughter of John Plant of Revolutionary War.” Mary’s obit is shown below, and after it is from the notes written by Agnes Plant.

Courtesy of Newspapers.com

Interestingly, we find (abstracted from John’s pension) that “William Stewart, age about 62, deposes that when he was about 12 years old, he recollects hearing of the marriage of the said Mary Ann and John Plant in Charles County, Maryland that the said John Plant was his mother’s brother and this deponent lived near them.” This being the case, it means that William is a grandson of John, with William’s mother being a sibling of John. William’s mother is Sarah, who was talked about earlier in this post.


Notes

[1] In 2017, she had emailed me in saying that she believed that “Horatio Plant d. 1840 (son of Ann Shepard) was also the son of John Plant. I believe that Ann was his first wife and may have died in childbirth,” going onto say that “Ann is the sister of the famous Francis Shepard, their family has been written about at Port Tobacco and the property there that was handed down from their father John Shepard”  and that she has “a copy of John Plant’s Will, however, he only names his two daughters Grace and Sarah.” She was, at the time, looking for anything that named “Horatio Plant, or have some advice to give on finding it.” Later that year, she appreciated my transfer of John Plant’s virtual grave to her, and said that connecting to Owen Lourie helped, adding that “both Horatio, and John Plants other known son Nathaniel were in the same regiment for the war of 1812. Nathaniel is the one who took/picked up the pension paperwork for May Ann Davis.”

[3] The last paragraphs of the bio now read: “Plant settled in Charles County after his military service, at least for a few years. He was a modest farmer, who probably did not own any land, although he did have one slave. On June 5, 1788, he married Mary Ann Davis (b. ca. 1770) in Charles County. They had four children together: Grace (sometimes called Grayson), Sarah, John, and Nathaniel. [5] By 1808, the family had settled in Prince William County, Virginia, not far from Washington, DC. Plant apprenticed his sons to masters in the city that spring. John was indentured to William Worthington, a cabinetmaker, and Nathaniel to a cordwainer, or shoemaker, in Georgetown. Only six months later, in November or December, John Plant died. In 1835, Mary Ann applied for a Federal veteran’s pension as the widow of a Revolutionary War soldier, and she eventually was awarded $95 per year. She died in 1841. [6]” I posted  the older version on academia.edu.

A defense of grave rubbing: fun but controversial

“Getting a rubbing of a favorite headstone for personal records” as noted in a caption on a post on the Billion Graves blog, with a man named “Chuck Badger” commenting below the post that “I would suggest, though, not to post people making rubbings on headstones. This could be damaging to stones,” one indication of the controversy of grave rubbing.

Grave rubbing is an inherent part of genealogy. Thoughts about it among genealogists and other researchers are divided, without a surprise, with strong anger emanating from the preservation community on this issue. Case in point is the response of Jere Gibber, Executive Director of the National Preservation Institute, to my inqiry, noting the number of available online, and saying that “here are just a few of the articles I found on the subject. In general, I would say that the advice offered leans toward not doing gravestone rubbings for many good reasons” and sending forward links to Historic Cemetery Preservation in Maryland, a site titled “Vast Public Indifference” standing against grave rubbings, a “Cemetery Preservation Guide” by a Louisiana individual saying that grave rubbings are extremely harmful, and a link to a South Carolinan website. He ended by saying “best of luck with your own research.” It must be a small organization for the executive director to email me!

Introduction: the debate begins

Some sites like Wikihow and ThoughtCo have pages on “how” a grave rubbing (also called a stone rubbing or tombstone rubbing) should be done. Wikihow says that you need to check if its okay to take gravestone and tombstone rubbings, with some “headstones may be considered too fragile to take rubbings but on the whole, most people won’t mind you taking a rubbing,” says that you shouldn’t trespass, you should assemble the needed items, clean the gravestone with a soft brush (as one site states, “before cleaning any stone, carefully check its condition”), and how to make the rubbing itself. ThoughtCo says something similar: that you should have permission, only do a grave rubbing on a stable stone, making sure you don’t damage the stone, and how to make the rubbing once all the appropriate steps have been taken. However these, including the Wikipedia page on “stone rubbing,” and some other sites I found on the subject do not talk about the ethics of gravestone rubbing. [1]

There are hints to the debated nature of grave rubbing. A page on Save A Grave, notes that “gravestone rubbing can be controversial. Many rubbers are not careful, for this reason, some cemetery associations do not allow stone rubbing,” while giving the same general tips as WikiHow and ThoughtCo. Another site, savinggraves.net, adds, before outlining tips about how to do grave rubbing appropriately, that “this practice has been regulated or banned in some states and in many cemeteries (particularly in colonial graveyards) due to the damage it can cause to the stone” such as in New Hampshire, with many “cemeteries now ask for permits before you are allowed to do rubbings” and adding that “common courtesy tells us that we should first ask for permission from the cemetery or graveyard superintendent or sexton prior to doing rubbings or taking photographs.” Add to this the words of the Massachusetts Studies Project, which says that while grave rubbings is an “easy project to do with students,” it is controversial because “repeated rubbings degrade the stones and can cause damage if done improperly.”

Courtesy of ICH Blog. “One group started cleaning up the cemetery and the other group went with Terra who led a workshop about grave rubbing…[ultimately] everyone came away with a working knowledge of the process and an solid understanding of the value of grave rubbing.”- The ICH Blog
Even so, some, at least in the comments of this post, seem to enjoy grave rubbing. Some said that if grave rubbings are nicely framed “they make a bold statement,” or that it is “quite a pleasing technique,” and, with one adding that it’s a “very English thing, and usually free too.” Others called the grave rubbings “cool,” and one said they loved rubbing graves. In an online forum post, one person said that “a group of American tourists ambled along the path, taking pictures and ‘rubbings’ of headstones,” and in response some said that it is was good they “had an interest,” that rubbings of “some of the more famous graves/monuments” could be acceptable,” and that grave rubbing is a “popular pass time.” Even a group called the “Gravestone Girls,” which states that “everyone sometime in their life has probably done a gravestone rubbing,” once offered a 2 & 1/2 hour class to “teach proper techniques [of grave rubbing] and educate about these interesting and historical spaces.”

This post looks at the differing laws on grave rubbing within the United States and articulates a defense of grave rubbing as opposed to those who are angry at the practice. Note that any of the following text quoted from varying websites is done in accordance with the fair use exception under existing U.S. copyright law as this article constitutes “reproduction…for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching…scholarship, or research,” meaning that it is not an “infringement of copyright.”

Argument #1 against grave rubbings:

Photographs are so great now, they negate the need for grave rubbings, which harm the stone!

“Tombstone rubbings have been popular for centuries, and are often still touted as a fun and interesting way to keep a visual record of a tombstone. But the truth is, it is harmful to tombstones and is currently being banned and outlawed in many different areas. Rubbing is, in itself, very abrasive to stones. It will eventually wear away the carving on stones and loosen bits of the stone causing flaking and breaking. Remember, even gentle rubbings cause decay. With photography what it is today, there is no reason to do a rubbing for recording or memorialising a tombstone. Photographs can provide a much greater and more artistic visual remembrance of any stone.”- New Hanover County North Carolina GenWeb

“…gravestone rubbing…can cause serious harm to a gravestone. The practice of gravestone rubbing was to place a piece of paper against the front of the gravestone and then use a crayon or pencil to rub against the paper. This was a method of recording the look and words of the gravestone. Unfortunately, with many gravestones being centuries old, this practice would often cause the stone in the gravestone to chip and flake…Your best bet is to take along a good digital camera, on a bright, sunny day where you get the best contrast, and to take the pictures. Even subtle shadows can be emphasized in most digital software packages, and you’ll be able to see exactly what those letters were saying to you.”- Lisa Shea 

“Gravestone rubbing is the process of reproducing a gravestone’s inscription on paper by rubbing chalk, crayon, or charcoal over it. Rubbing can quickly reproduce a life-size reproduction of the stone. It is a popular graveyard activity that has sparked many people’s initial interest in cemetery preservation. While rubbing may seem harmless, it can damage the tombstone. The friction and pressure hastens the natural erosion of the inscription that occurs with exposure to weather. Fragile tombstones are especially susceptible to this deterioration. Rubbings also leave remnants of wax or charcoal on the tombstone. Encouraging rubbing perpetuates the false notion that tombstones are impervious to damage. Therefore, gravestone rubbings are not recommended. Similarly, the use of shaving cream to highlight inscriptions is not recommended because it causes chemical damage. High-resolution digital photography is a safe alternative to rubbing that still allows a surveyor or visitor to record the inscription”- Prince George’s County, Maryland Cemetery Preservation Manual 

“What about tombstone rubbings? These are controversial for the risk they may place on the stones, and have been banned in some places. There are safer ways to capture what’s engraved on the grave marker…Take a picture; it will last longer. Here are some steps you can take when shooting the picture to make the inscription more readable”- Family History Daily.

My Response:

There is no doubt that having a good camera can replace grave rubbing. However, if such rubbing is done properly, then it can be as good, if not better than photography. Cameras which have a good lens and work well are not always accessible to everyone. Not everyone, from what you might think, has an iPhone. If you don’t know how to take a good picture (not everyone is skilled at photography as others are), then saying “you should take a photo, not do a grave-rubbing” is silly!

As one blog, focusing on gravestone rubbings at Fort Snelling National Park in Minnesota puts it, the rubbings themselves are hard work! Not only that, but it is fun! As the blogger notes, as you can experiment a bit, with the “look of layered colors” including wax crayons, applied with varying pressure. Even one critic of gravestone rubbing admitted that “a good gravestone rubbing is a thing of tremendous beauty.” I can’t agree more. Just take this grave rubbing of Jane Austen’s grave on the website of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

A favorable sentiment of grave rubbing is echoed by the Bullitt County History Museum. The latter which reprints the leaflet from the Association of Gravestone Studies titled “Gravestone Rubbing for Beginners,” who describes why grave rubbing is so important (after giving do’s and don’t as any good person does about grave rubbing):

Gravestone rubbing is fun. It is possible to collect some beautiful artwork that can be framed and displayed. A carver’s skill can be preserved, or an ancestor’s stone recorded and appreciated through this craft. However, gravestone rubbing is also controversial. Especially in cemeteries where a restoration project is in progress, rubbing is often banned. This is to enable the restorers to have an opportunity to preserve all the stones possible before more damage occurs. Even if a restoration project is not in progress, if those who care for the cemetery have determined there are very fragile stones there which may be damaged if pressure is applied to the surface as happens in rubbing, there may be prohibitions in place. So be sure to check.

There is something about grave rubbing that photography doesn’t have. In a spiritual way, grave rubbing allows you to be close to the stone, even touch it, even though through paper. You gain a direct connection to the stone that you don’t gain from a photograph, which you are doing removed from the stone itself. It’s almost like the energy of gravestone (and/or the grave site) comes out to touch you and effect you in a positive way, which is powerful especially if some of your family are buried there in that very grave site!

Grave rubbing at Kerepesi Cemetery in Budapest, courtesy of a blog titled “Field Notes from Fatherhood

Apart from a spiritual feeling you could feel, grave rubbing is, I’d argue more creative than photography. I’m a young person, or as society wants to label me, a “millennial” (whatever that means), but I detest people being on their phones all the time taking photographs. I guess I’m “old fashioned” in that way, but I don’t mind that much at all. Most people don’t carry around cameras anymore, but have it on their small smartphones in their pockets. Engaging in grave rubbing, it can be a family activity, of someone bringing scissors to cut the drafting, transparent paper, another doing the taping, and one doing the coloring with crayons of some kind.

Just taking a photograph is boring and loses the creative, and I would argue, interactive element of grave rubbing. I understand the arguments against grave rubbing, but using a camera or a phone with a camera is losing that human feeling, that human touch with something that is part of our past. Instead of just touching a button on your phone, you feel that you are part of history, that you are recording something for future generations. Additionally, just taking a photograph assumes that technology will work and not fail. That is, I can say from my own experience, not a safe assumption to make. Technology fails all the time. Hard drives and disk drives, memory sticks and power cords, work one day but don’t work the next. As one article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette put it,

Gravestone rubbings may not be everyone’s idea of weekend fun, but folks who dig history and art say it’s the best of both worlds…Several students chose the graves of children, some dating back more than a hundred years. Under Foster’s direction, they used tracing paper, which is exceptionally fine, and charcoal to capture epitaphs and designs…Kelly says he does a lot of rubbings himself, not as an artistic pursuit but for clients who want to have headstones made to match those in nearby plots. He also processes requests from folks who want to rub gravestones for fun or to create artwork to frame.

Julie Kohl of Only in Arkansas adds to the above that “grave rubbings can be beautiful pieces of art themselves but should be made with extreme care and caution.” She further writes that “never force any debris off of the stone and never select a stone that is damaged or fragile in any way” and adds that “when you have completed all of your rubbings and it is time to leave, clean up after yourself. Make sure you gently remove all of your tape and collect any trash” along with many other helpful suggestions. Recently, as the National Blues Museum noted, John Wegrzyn traveled the country “visiting grave sites of famous blues musicians for the past 20 years,” creating “gravestone rubbings on album record sleeves from these sites” with the process transforming “the images of the gravestone onto paper making a unique artful homage to each musician.” You can’t do that with photography! As one blogger comments, there is “no better way to spend a beautiful fall afternoon than in your local graveyard” engaging in grave rubbings, with the right supplies, saying that a “simple crayon works better than pastels or charcoal for gravestone rubbings.”

Courtesy of Oklahoma City Mom’s Blog, in an article by Kristi, which celebrates the joy of grave rubbing and going around cemeteries.

To the final part of the argument, those who argue against grave rubbing harp on the “harm to the stone.” I get that some people are clumsy and can damage stones too easily (only do the grave rubbing on stones which are stable). But some of these grave sites are not tended well and clearly have few visitors (like one I visited in Bridgewater, MA near a church). As such, few visit these places. Saying all of that, I do think that people should follow all the right tips for grave rubbing, as noted in the first part of this article, and generally use “common sense,” as my mom always says, when it comes to this creative endeavor. As noted by the Florida Division of Historical Resources, “do not make a rubbing of a gravestone if it is in poor condition and may fracture from the pressure applied to its face” and while making a rubbing, “be sure that the marker is completely covered with paper and the rubbing medium will not leave any residue.”

There is a point that those who sneer at grave rubbing seem to forget however: a grave rubbing can include details that a photograph cannot. Sometimes gravestones are hard to photograph, or even if they can be photographed in a good way, you miss something. If you do it diligently, and with discipline, a grave rubbing can show all the nooks and crannies of a stone. This is especially important as stones tend to sink into the ground, meaning that they are submerged partially below the ground. However, if a grave rubbing was done before that, then a photograph taken of the partially submerged stone will tell you less than the grave rubbing. There should be no question about that.

The Holmes County Cemeteries WordPress, which says that “extreme caution” should be done while doing a grave rubbing and getting permission (as some cemeteries do not allow it), describes the practice of grave rubbing as a

technique that can be used to preserve the unique artwork found on many tombstones. If done properly, it can be a way to help decipher the tombstone’s inscription which may be worn with age.

Can you preserve the “unique artwork” with a camera and decipher an inscription worn with age? This is unlikely to be the case especially of a photograph of the stone doesn’t turn out well.

Sure, grave rubbing can “potentially damage” a stone if done incorrectly. However, just taking a photograph is like restraining yourself from touching something in a museum. Why not interact with history, instead of physically removing yourself by taking a picture? I understand what too much rubbing of a stone can degrade it over time. If one stone or a cemetery is a popular one for grave rubbing, that the cemetery should do their own (professionally done) grave rubbing(s) and have them available to those visiting the cemetery. I wouldn’t be opposed to that at all. This is something those who sneer at grave rubbing don’t seem to think about or propose as a possible compromise.

Courtesy of a blogger named Gwendolyn with a blog titled “60 Days of Halloween” with this one titled “Day 56: Gravestone Rubbings”

If you want to take a photograph, go ahead, but you will be engaging in an activity which does not have as much of a connection to the past, is something that is easy, simple, and thoughtless. Grave rubbing is something that requires thought but is creative and interactive. Saying all of this, I still enjoy Find A Grave and BillionGraves, with photographs of tombstones within their profiles even if I personally prefer grave rubbing better.

Argument #2 against grave rubbings:

It’s against the law, just take a photograph!

“I did not take this rubbing, in fact because I live in Massachusetts, I have never done a gravestone rubbing. It is considered gravestone desecration and it against the law here. I don’t know if it is against the law in other states. This rubbing was done in Connecticut and probably many years ago. It is a reminder to all how well preserved this gravestone is to be able to do that…I raised my hand and politely informed him that this was an illegal practice in Massachusetts and that he should be teaching gravestone photography instead. He replied that it wasn’t the SAME and that he would continue to teach them to rub gravestones…It occurs to me now that gravestone photography would be quicker and easier for his students to accomplish (and more educationally appropriate for 21st century learning and sharing online) and perhaps the time it took to make the gravestone rubbing and then to hang them somewhere in the college’s halls (adding to his fame and reputation) was the point to the assignment in his mind.”- a blog titled Granite in my Blood 

“…gravestone rubbings…are harmful to the gravestone…I consider them temporary and my digital photo of the rubbed stone to be my permanent record.”-  Janine Adams of Organize Your Family History

“NHOGA does not recommend rubbings as a means of documenting the stones. Old gravestones are surprisingly fragile and any pressure on the stone can easily cause it to snap in half. Because of this, gravestone rubbing is often prohibited by law. Photography is a much safer option.”- New Hampshire Old Graveyard Association

The part about taking a photograph is addressed in response to the previous argument, as noted above.

In Massachusetts (MA), as noted by the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation, general governmental guidelines say that cemeteries should “prohibit stone rubbing, which can leave trace oils and wax on historic stone,” recommending the directing of a “raking light across the stone’s surface to illuminate inscriptions,” saying to use “a strong flashlight or a large mirror,” then taking a photograph. This prohibition would see seems to have harsh penalties in existing law (also see here) although grave rubbing doesn’t seem to mentioned specifically, but alluded to and considered to be part of the law, by places such as Family Tree Magazine. There is even a sign at King’s Chapel Cemetery in Boston discouraging grave rubbing, as one blogger noted in 2011:

There is a similar sign in Sudbury, MA, as noted by a blogger also in 2011, saying “the revolutionary cemetery is under the jurisdiction of the Sudbury Historical Commission. There is to be no gravestone rubbing or metal detection allowed.”

With the image and other assertions, it was unclear to me whether grave rubbing was illegal in Massachusetts or not so I asked. Here is my email exchange with Ed Bell of Massachusetts Historical Commission, part of the Massachusetts State Archives, starting with my email on December 26th:

Good evening.

I’m getting ready to write a blogpost about grave rubbing (nationwide) and would like to know about its legal status in your state. I’ve read your states Department of Conservation and Recreation, general governmental guidelines say that cemeteries should “prohibit stone rubbing, which can leave trace oils and wax on historic stone,” recommending an alternative. I’ve also read specific parts of Massachusetts law here and here, and although some places, like Family Tree Magazine, seem to say it is illegal in Massachusetts, I still haven’t found anything definitive within Massachusetts law as of yet.

I guess I’m asking: is grave rubbing (also called stone rubbing, gravestone rubbing, monument rubbing or tombstone rubbing) illegal in Massachusetts? If not, is it only discouraged, but still legal?

If you can’t answer my question, I ask that you direct me toward someone who can answer my questions.

Thanks. I look forward to hearing from you in the coming week.

Best Regards

[my name and contact info]

Apparently, Mr. Bell thought I was female (maybe because they get a lot of emails from concerned ladies?), writing back the following day:

Dear Madam,

For Mass. state laws about cemeteries and gravestones, see Mass Gen Law c. 114 and Mass Gen Laws c. 272, ss. 71-73. Municipalities in Mass. and private cemetery corporations may have their own ordinances and rules. We are otherwise unable to offer legal advice.

Ed Bell MHC

I responded the next day writing

Mr. Bell,
Thanks for your email. I was not thinking you would provide legal advice but was hoping for further resources on laws on grave rubbings. I will take a look at Mass Gen Laws c. 114 (https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXVI/Chapter114) and c. 272, ss. 71-73
(https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIV/TitleI/Chapter272/Section73). I recognize that “municipalities in Mass. and private cemetery corporations may have their own ordinances and rules” as you note.

Thanks again for responding in a timely fashion.

Best regards,

[my name]

The first law is chapter 114 titled “cemeteries and burials.” After going past varying provisions on cemetery corporations within this chapter of MA general laws, there are provisions about maintaining cemeteries, prohibiting individuals from using cemeteries as a cut through, not actually looking at the stones, saying that cemeteries cannot be used for commercial purposes without permission, and prohibiting towns from removing any “fence, tomb, monument or other structure” in a cemetery, but allowing them to repair and restore.

Then there is section 73, within chapter 272 of MA general laws, titled “tombs, graves, memorials, trees, plants; injuring, removing.” It says and I quote:

Whoever wilfully destroys, mutilates, defaces, injures or removes a tomb, monument, gravestone, American flag, veteran’s grave marker, metal plaque, veteran’s commemorative flag holder, commemorative flag holder representing service in a police or fire department, veteran’s flag holder that commemorates a particular war, conflict or period of service or flag, or other structure or thing which is placed or designed for a memorial of the dead, or a fence railing, curb or other thing which is intended for the protection or ornament of a structure or thing before mentioned or of an enclosure for the burial of the dead, or wilfully removes, destroys, mutilates, cuts, breaks or injures a tree, shrub or plant placed or being within such enclosure, or wantonly or maliciously disturbs the contents of a tomb or a grave, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than five years or by imprisonment in the jail or house of correction for not more than two and one-half years and by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars. In addition, the court shall order any person convicted of an offense pursuant to this section to pay restitution to the owner of the property that was damaged, destroyed, mutilated, defaced, injured or removed.

This would obviously prohibit scratches of a stone or damaging a tombstone in any other way. Even with this, however, I can’t tell if this would prohibit grave rubbing or not. Some people on reddit said that “if I recall correctly… gravestone rubbing is illegal in MA” but couldn’t find any source other than blogs, another said it is illegal to “deface” or “tamper with” gravestones in Massachusetts,” and someone else commented that: “I don’t know of any cemeteries that allow stone-rubbings.” I know that Reading, MA says that “unauthorized gravestone rubbing is not allowed” and Burying Point cemetery in Salem (as does the whole jurisdiction) bans the practice, as does Dennis, MA, but does this apply to all of MA? The same could be said for Princeton, MA which says that “only gravestone rubbings authorized by the PCC are permitted” with the same being the case for Amesbury, MA, and Provincetown arguing that “gravestone rubbing…is not allowed except by express written permission of the Cemetery Commission or their designee upon submission of written proposal.” There are similar regulations in Harvard, Andover, Ware, Harwich, Lakeville, Topsfield, and Ipswich. Perhaps people could do it more freely in the past as a photo on this website could indicate.

With this, I would say it is safer to take photographs in Massachusetts as, at least from my research, the law is unclear on the subject despite some declaring it is prohibited. Perhaps it a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis, I’m not sure but it seems it is not illegal, but don’t quote me on that. As such, make sure to recognize the rules or regulations regarding photography in cemeteries.

“Volunteers helped with light ground cleaning and site care…Afterwards they had the opportunity to enjoy tours of the cemetery grounds, try a hand at grave rubbing, and participate in an archaeological scavenger hunt” with the text and above photo from archaelogical.org.

Then we get to Rhode Island. It seems to have strict laws relating the moving of anything from a grave site. However, grave rubbing does not seem to be mentioned, even if you said it was implied in bills (unsure if they passed) like this one (also see here). [2] Like with Massachusetts, I emailed the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, writing that

Good evening.

Your state seems to have strict laws relating the moving of anything from a grave site. However, grave rubbing does not seem to be mentioned, even if it seems implied in varying laws.

I had one simple question: what is the legal status of grave rubbing (also called tombstone rubbing, monument rubbing, and gravestone rubbing) in the state of Rhode Island? Is it illegal as in Massachusetts (as some assert), is it legal but needing a permit, or something completely different.

I hope you are having a good holiday and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,

[name and contact info]

As of January 22, the date of the writing of this article, I have received no reply to this inquiry. I hope to get something considering that the Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Commission (RIHPHC) suggests that grave rubbing be limited. On February 6th, Charlotte Taylor, an archaeologist with the RIHPHC, told me, in an email, “sorry for being so long in answering your question; it took a while to get to my mailbox. There is no law forbidding gravestone rubbings in RI, but the RI State Cemetery Commission strongly discourages it, because it might cause damage to the stone. Let me know directly if you have any further questions.” Why they would strongly discourage it is understandable, as I note in this article, although I still support the practice as this article notes.

Image via Ancestry Printing, a company which is so specialized, it only deals with printing genealogy charts! The person in the image seems to be Cheryl Spiegel of Ancestry Printing, a co-founder of the business.

In New Hampshire (NH) municipal cemeteries and burial grounds, one needs to obtain the “written permission of the town selectmen or the mayor of a city or designee” to do a grave rubbing, as stated in a law passed in 1994 in Section 289:22 of NH Law. Specific rules and procedures are laid out in the easy-to-read and interpret form issued by the town of Fitzwilliam. The town of Northfield, NH prohibits grave rubbing as does Amherst (also see here), Tuftonboro, Stoddard, and Oakland Cemetery, while Rumney, NH says you need written permission before doing a grave rubbing. The same is the case in Hancock, NH, which says that “headstone rubbing is permitted only by the Sexton. Persons wishing to perform rubbing must register with the Town Clerk and the Town Hall. Instructions for headstone rubbing will be issued at time of registration,” the same being the case for Walpole, NH, Brentwood, NH, Stratham, NH, Marlow, NH, Epping, NH, Gilmanton, NH, Windham, NH, Newton, NH,

Savannah, Georgia has a whole set of regulations relating to monument and headstone rubbing. Their regulations state that:

  1.  You need a “permit from the Department of Cemeteries” to do a grave rubbing that specifies “all lot numbers from which a rubbing is desired,” with a permit applied for every time the monuments are rubbed.
  2. A permit to rub a monument needs the written approval of the owner of the lot which contains “the monuments to be rubbed,” except if the owner is deceased with no heirs, and no burials “on that lot for at least seventy (70) years.”
  3. The person making the request for the permit is “responsible for any damage to monuments or the grounds incurred by the rubbing activities” and cannot rub monuments that are “cracked, split, spalling, flaking, or have seams,” but only those that are “sound stones”
  4. All rubbings of monuments has to be done under the “direct supervision of a responsible adult over eighteen (18) years of age”
  5. Stones may be cleaned but only with a soft brush and not with a wire brush, with the non-removal of “lichens or moss growing on the stones”
  6.  The entire area to be rubbed must be covered with paper held in place by making tape, with any pens not allowed for monument rubbing, but “chalk, charcoal, crayons, or graphite” being acceptable, with any tape, paper, and trash from the process either removed from the lot or put in trash cans

Another city in Georgia, Atlanta, has its own regulations. They only have one sentence, unlike Savannah, saying that “no person shall conduct any stone rubbings within the cemetery, unless approved by the commissioner or director, bureau of parks.” Madison, also in Georgia, has similar rules, saying that only permitted grave rubbing is allowed following proof of “family authorization” with guidelines for supervision, certain standards, cautions, approved rubbing methods, and approved rubbing materials.

This is very different from Nashville, Tennessee which prohibits grave rubbings because “the markers are very fragile [and] the pressure applied to the marker to make the rubbings can cause continued flaking,” adding that even “with the harder stone markers, crayons and pencil marks left on the stones are damaging.”

Wasco County Chief Deputy Lane Magill: “It was a cold day, about 20 degrees and brutal, and the wax didn’t want to work when I was trying to do the gravestone rubbings at Arlington. I ended up having to redo some of them but somewhere along the way these men became the faces of war for me; I never met them but they died for me.”- The Dalles Chronicle of The Dalles, Oregon.

Connecticut is unique. Since many of the gravestones in the state are sandstone and will “erode internally leaving the surface…seemingly very stable for rubbing when in fact the stone is hollow beneath.” Other laws on grave rubbing in Connecticut are not currently known except it is clearly prohibited in Somers, CT. With this, and the condition of the stones, I don’t think rubbing stones in Connecticut is a good idea! As the Fairfax County Cemetery Preservation Association writes, “rubbings themselves are generally discouraged unless authorized by the gravestone owner…Do not touch any gravestone that looks delicate, unstable, or disaggregated.”

The same type of laws in place in Connecticut are also there for Pennsylvania. The latter undoubtedly has laws concerning cemeteries (as noted here, here, and here) but none seem to relate to grave rubbing. Already it is clear that someone was able to do a grave rubbing of Andy Warhol’s gravestone in PA, so perhaps it isn’t illegal? You could also say this is the case for New York which has a listing of laws applicable to cemeteries, and even has a Division of Cemeteries. Lafayette, Colorado is the most direct of all, saying point-bank on their website that “gravestone rubbings are not permitted.”

Beyond this, there are laws on gravesites (some specifically related to grave rubbing) for varying other states:

  • Indiana (the laws of the whole state are not currently known, but it is clear that you can do grave rubbings in Indianapolis)
  • Texas (also see here)
  • Virginia, which has laws about defacing, mutilating, and damaging stones, but nothing about grave rubbing per say (see here, here, and here)
  • Washington State
  • Ohio  (while it seemed that the state seems to prohibit rubbing of stones which would cover grave rubbing, with this specifically the case in Granville Township, other places allow it but only with permission, and it has been done in Antioch, Ohio, putting into question if it is prohibited at all)
  • North Carolina’s specific laws on cemeteries do not mention grave rubbing
  • Missouri has laws about damaging stones (as noted here and here) but nothing about grave rubbing to be exact
  • Kentucky has similar laws to Missouri, but nothing relating to grave rubbing
  • Tennessee has similar laws to Missouri and Kentucky.
  • Maryland seems to need some sort of approval for grave rubbing (“No ground disturbing activities may be conducted on state-owned or state-controlled property without obtaining a permit from MHT”), but I would have to look into that more as the guidelines don’t say.
  • Maine’s laws on cemeteries don’t even mention the word “rub.”  It seems that Maine allows grave rubbings, but more investigation would be needed as one needs permission for such rubbings in certain cemeteries in the state
  • Illinois, the laws of which don’t include the word “rub” (even so, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Illinois Historic Preservation Agency “strongly discourage” rubbings, further writing in a preservation handbook that “Making a rubbing of a marker does pose an unwarranted risk to the stone..although some preservation resources support making rubbings, we believe that the risks outweigh the end results. Digital photography provides an excellent opportunity to capture the motifs and inscriptions found on marble markers.”)
  • Utah, the laws of which seem unclear on grave rubbing.
  • Oregon doesn’t mention grave rubbing either!
  • Nebraska, which doesn’t mention it
  • Louisiana, with a website with dead links
  • South Carolina (The South Carolina Dept of Archives & History writes that “unfortunately, it can damage historic gravestones. Some cemeteries now even forbid the practice…If you decide to make gravestone rubbings, avoid as much damage as possible” but no comment on its legal status is made, although this website seems to suggest that prohibiting grave rubbing was floated)
  • West Virginia
  • Florida has resources about grave rubbings but nothing specifically on its legal status
  • Michigan, with the Michigan Historic Cemetery Preservation Manual writing that “gravestone rubbings are not recommended and are no longer considered an acceptable practice because of the harm and damage that can occur…With the currently available photographic capabilities, rubbings are an unnecessary risk for fragile historic headstones. High-resolution photography of stones is a safe and effective alternative to rubbing. Photography can document and reproduce the same information. A digital camera can achieve remarkable results without chemicals or stress to the stones.” The exact laws in Michigan are not known, although there are documented grave rubbings in the state.

There are federal laws, but these don’t relate to grave rubbing and neither does the cemetery brief by the National Park Service.

Courtesy of Episcopal Christchurch of Shrewsbury in Shrewsbury, NJ. Images taken in 2014.

As for Maryland, I asked about grave rubbing, writing an email on January 22nd:

Good morning Maryland Office of Cemetery Oversight,

As a Marylander, I’d like to know about the legal status of grave rubbing (also called tombstone rubbing, monument rubbing, stone rubbing, and gravestone rubbing) as the burial law document compiled by the Maryland Historical Trust doesn’t seem to mention it. I’m not asking for legal advice or anything of the sort as I know you wouldn’t be able to provide that. But I see that “Maryland law provides protection against disturbance of burial sites and human remains” and that “No ground disturbing activities may be conducted on state-owned or state-controlled property without obtaining a permit from MHT” on the Historic Cemetery Preservation webpage. I was originally going to email the Maryland Historical Trust, but I thought I’d start with you first.

I look forward to hearing from you in the coming week.

Best regards,

[then listing my contact info and name]

I hope to hear from them soon. I will update this blog with their response. I know that the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites writes in their guide to stewardship of burial sites that

Do rubbings of stones only after permission has been granted by the cemetery office or owner. Your interest in burial grounds may be in creating a rubbing of the carvings and inscriptions found on the gravestones…on a very basic level, to lift an image from a gravestone you need…Permission to do a rubbing from the cemetery management…Note that it is important to not mark or mar the stone you are rubbing in any way. Placing the paper all the way over the edges and around the stone helps to ensure you do not get any wax on the stone…It’s better to learn the good rubbing techniques and try out your tools before you enter a burial ground. It is therefore recommended that you practice at home before you attempt to lift an image on site…If you want to create a rubbing of a stone and the cemetery refuses permission, state or local law forbids the practice, or a stone cannot be rubbed due to its deteriorated condition a photograph is a good alternative.

But that is general and doesn’t talk specifically about Maryland.

After saying all of this, it is clear that you should make sure you follow the relevant guidelines in your state regarding grave rubbing (not burial laws). You don’t want to be running away from the police with your grave rubbing in hand, pay a nasty fine, or spend time in the slammer! Allison Dolan of Family Tree Magazine wrote that:

A state, county, municipality or a cemetery itself can set rules regarding tombstone rubbings. Historic cemeteries and those popular with tourists…often prohibit tombstone rubbings because of the potential damage. Repeated rubbings of a stone, even when done properly, cause deterioration over time. Similarly, Department of Veterans Affairs national cemeteries also do not authorize gravestone rubbings…You also may find rubbings aren’t prohibited, but regulated…Before you visit a cemetery to do a rubbing, call ahead to see if it’s permitted. Most cemetery Web sites I checked didn’t address the issue; I’d try to talk to a person just to be safe. For some cemeteries, it’s not clear whom to call…A local genealogical or historical society might be able to give helpful information, too. Before visiting a cemetery located on private property…check cemetery access laws to ensure you’re not trespassing…Even when tombstone rubbings are allowed, use common sense: If a stone is unsteady, crumbling or fragile, don’t take a rubbing—take a picture and make a transcription instead.

From here, Genealogy Today puts it best, when it comes to the merits of grave rubbings, writing that “tombstone rubbings can be a great way to collect genealogical information. And the process can be fun for the entire family,” helping to preserve old tombstones which “crack and break apart or erode over time.” Additionally, they can create “interest and conversation with family members who aren’t normally interested in family history.” I doubt that a photograph of a tombstone can have the same effect as that. As Kristi of the Oklahoma blog, “Cemetery Fun!” writes,

the first time I ever did a grave rubbing was in a beautiful, old cemetery in Stratford-upon-Avon.  It was so fun.  This is a great way to not only teach about the symbols but it’s a great art project as well.  All you need is some paper and a crayon and possibly some tape to hold the paper on, if you are wanting to copy a large area…make sure the cemetery allows rubbings &…only do them on sturdy headstones.

Even saying this, looking at the laws above, some states, like Connecticut, undoubtedly require a method other than grave rubbing if the stones are that fragile, looking “stable” when they are actually hollow. As a post on Ancestry put it, “before you do any kind of gravestone rubbing, first check with the group that is in charge of the cemetery or find another method that is safer for the stone to get the information you need.” This applies whether you are doing grave rubbing in Ireland, North Carolina, Falls City, Nebraska, Kentucky, or in New Suffolk, NY. So do grave rubbing and have fun but be responsible while doing it!

Atop an article in the West Milford Messenger titled “Experiencing local history.” They caption this photo saying “West Milford student, Ryan, participates in a grave rubbing activity.”

Notes

[1] For instance see “How to Make a Grave Rubbing” on HowCast, and a story titled “Grave Rubbings,” in HandEye magazine about a woman named Susan Lenz who “draws upon the granite and marble studded cemetery landscape for her Grave Rubbings art quilts,” seeking out “gravestones and the words and symbols carved into them for future generations.” A pretty neat idea if you ask me. Also see “How to do Rubbings on Headstones,” and “How to Do Tombstone Rubbings.”

[2] Also see here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Update:

Ms. Andrea Carlin of the Greenfield, MA-based Association for Gravestone Studies wrote to me on January 27, saying that I should “contact Gravestone Artwear, they sell rubbing supplies and I’m sure would have some advice” and attached a “guide that has some general info” for other helpful tips. That 8-page-guide is attached here. The website she sent for Gravestone Artwear says the following:

…Our brand NEW Old Stone Rubbing Kit’s contents are all manufactured here in the USA…In response to our customers requests for wider rubbing paper, we’ve added three inches to the width of our internationally known “Aqaba” brand rubbing paper. It now measures 27 inches by 36 inches to give you more rubbing surface. We have made the tube wider for easier access to its contents.
The half inch wider width also gives you more space for storing your rubbings…The NEWLY updated Old Stone Rubbing kit retails for $29.95, plus shipping. Additional copies of the Gravestone Rubbing Guide can be purchased at $5.00 each.

As always, I welcome all of your comments on the subject.

A history of the word (and practice of) genealogy

Image is courtesy of an article about tracing Irish ancestors and the quote comes from Lawrence Overmire’s official website.

As I’ve written before, I am a genealogist (formerly employed as one) who has done “research updating genealogy of my mom’s family by my grandfather, using varied resources on the internet and photographs,” while mentioning genealogical sources in varying other posts. [1] But there is one question that confounds me: what is the history of the word and practice of genealogy itself?

In his 1967 novel, Washington D.C., Gore Vidal hilariously makes fun of, on pages 198-199, (as you could put it) the practice of genealogy:

Mr. Carhart was standing at his desk on which had been arranged a series of charts containing thousands of little boxes, some blank and some written in. “Genealogy,” he said amiably. “I’ve traced the Carhart back to Robert the Bruce, in two lines.”

“That must be interesting sir.” Peter [said]….Mr. Carhart’s reputation as a bore was not exaggerated. Not only did he…have a series of set numbers…but he could also be spontaneously dull. He was exactly what Peter needed.

“I’m all right, as you can see, through the nineteenth and most of the eighteenth century, a few holes here and there, of course, but the Carhart line is clear. Then in the seventeenth century was have a few little problems.” He frowned: large problems obviously. “There is a connection with Sir Thomas Browne which is quite exciting but depends entirely upon this lady here.” He pocked at one of the little boxes. “Who was her first husband? And are we kin to her children or to those by the second husband?”

…[Peter then gives Mr. Carhart his magazine] Peter was becoming restive: a sign that he was responding to the Carhart treatment. He was bored to life again.

Of course, I’m taking the context out of this story perhaps too much, but this whole thing does make me chuckle. It is worth noting that Peter and Mr. Carhart were talking in a mansion and both were white, in the “high life” of the wealthy to say the least. So, you could say that from this that genealogy was a hobby of the rich. I dug into this further, to find out the origins of the word itself.

The origin of the word “genealogy.”

Before moving onto the history of the practice of genealogy, why not delve into the origin of the word itself?

Unfortunately, John Ayto’s Dictionary of Word Origins does not have an entry for the word “genealogy” (likely because it was not used as often when the book was published in 1990) but does have one for “family.” It saying that the word has an unknown origin, with the word familia, indicating a term for domestic servants in the household, deriving from the Latin word famulus and only coming to its current meaning when translated into English to mean the “whole household,” then narrowed again to a “group of related people.” However, The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories solves this problem by giving the origins of the word “genealogy” on page 229:

genealogy [Middle English] This came via Old French and late Latin from Greek genelogia, from genea ‘race, generation’ and –logia ‘speaking, discourse.’

The Online Etymology Dictionary, of course, has an entry as well, which is similar to the one on the Oxford Dictionary, along with other entries for the related words “genealogist” and “genealogical“:

early 14c., “line of descent, pedigree, descent,” from Old French genealogie (12c.), from Late Latin genealogia “tracing of a family,” from Greek genealogia “the making of a pedigree,” from genea “generation, descent” (from PIE root *gene- “give birth, beget,” with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups) + -logia (see -logy). An Old English word for it was folctalu, literally “folk tale.” Meaning “study of family trees” is from 1768.

Encyclopedia Brittanica also talks about the origin of the word “genealogy”:

Genealogy, the study of family origins and history. Genealogists compile lists of ancestors, which they arrange in pedigree charts or other written forms. The word genealogy comes from two Greek words—one meaning “race” or “family” and the other “theory” or “science.”…Genealogy is a universal phenomenon and, in forms varying from the rudimentary to the comparatively complex…The history of genealogy can be divided most easily into three stages. The first is that of oral tradition; the second, that in which certain pedigrees were committed to writing. The third stage comprises the period from approximately 1500 in western Europe and later in the English-speaking world…In the early days of civilization, before written records were made, oral traditions were necessarily important…Numerous Asian genealogies appear in the Bible. A cursory examination of these will reveal that they belong to the first and second stages in the history of genealogy…In southern India the ruling house of the maharajas of Travancore claimed to trace its descent, direct and unbroken, from the old Cera kings of southern India…The very long Asian genealogies begin as oral pedigrees and were later written down, but they concern only princes or great persons. In Africa the one instance of a claim to very long descent, that of the emperor of Ethiopia, bears a similarity to Tod’s Rajput genealogies…Under European influence, some Asian countries have adopted the practice of keeping systematic records for all citizens. In China, with its ancient system of ancestor worship, long, drawn-out pedigrees, including claims to descent from Confucius, are not unknown…In modern Japan, the registration of vital statistics is regulated by law…In the Bible there are many genealogies, the object of which is to show descent from Adam, Noah, and Abraham. By the time these genealogies had become part of the Jewish scriptures, the concept of racial purity had reinforced the keeping of family records…In Roman genealogies heroes were always descended from gods…With the invention of writing, the oral became the written tradition. This occurred in Greece and Rome, where genealogies were recorded in poems and in histories…With the conversion of the peoples of Ireland, Wales, and England to Christianity, the recording of their regal traditions began…From roughly 1100 to 1500, the emphasis of genealogists was on pedigrees of royal and noble lines…This period also saw the emergence of pedigrees of lesser folk…It was during the third period in European genealogical history that records that came to include everyone began. This period extends from 1500 to the present…In the course of so doing they discover and work with general principles which apply to pedigrees other than their own, though records other than those applicable to their own case do not interest them…The writing of private family histories by professionals is very common…In tracing family history, the worker follows certain rules…As the centuries are passed, the numbers of those who can prove a descent by the male line dwindle, until by the time of the Norman Conquest scarcely half a dozen pedigrees can be traced in the male line for either Saxon or Norman.

Further books, such as The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, say that genealogy is one of the two ways of classifying language, being the same as “genetic” in this context. [2]

How should we define genealogy?

First, before telling the history of the practice, we should define what genealogy even is! Otherwise, telling a history would be pointless.

The Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines genealogy as simply “a chart or recorded history of a person or family from an ancestor or ancestors” or as “the science or study of family descent” and as “descent from an ancestor; pedigree; lineage.”

Beyond that broad definition, there are many others out there. Some seem to differentiate between “family history” and “genealogy” (especially depending on whether you live in North America or Europe) while others say that genealogy is “history in a microcosm.” [3] In terms of the word “genealogy” itself, some enthusiastically say it is a “hunt to answer every question you have ever had about your family and family history” while others say it is “essentially the study of information” or your “own personal history mystery.” Others, like a site on Italian genealogy, note that

Often it is important to know where we come from, for a fuller sense of direction in life, in participating to a larger general design. All those who contributed to our genetical map are in a certain sense still living inside ourselves, wherever their physical existence took place. The research of our roots is both genetic and cultural: from the dusty, crumbling papers of documents people who belong to what we now are come out of the mist of time and look at us silently, affectionately, waiting for someone to decipher their documents, rescue them from oblivion and pass their otherwise forgotten names and stories on to the next generations…Genealogy, as all researchers know, needs imagination, that special feeling that there must be something somewhere, and just the right stone must be moved, the right person interviewed, to connect the missing link.

Furthermore, the following sites define genealogy as the following:

“a record or account of the ancestry and descent of a person, family, group” or “the study of family ancestries and histories” or “descent from an original form or progenitor; lineage; ancestry.”- Dictionary.com

an account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or from older forms” or “ regular descent of a person, family, or group of organisms from a progenitor…or older form [pedigree]” or “the study of family ancestral line” or an “account of the origin and historical development of something.”- merriam-webster.com

The descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor or ancestors; lineage or pedigree” or “A record or table of such descent; a family tree” or “the study, and formal recording of such descents”- wikitionary

Genealogy is the study of the history of families, especially through studying historical documents to discover the relationships between particular people and their families.”- Collins Dictionary

“the study of the history of the past and present members of a family, or a particular history of this type”- Cambridge Dictionary

Using these definitions, many of the posts on this blog would fundamentally be genealogical in nature, especially the ones about the members of the Maryland Extraordinary (Extra) Regiment.

The practice of genealogy

As it stands now, the public, at least in the United States (and in other countries like those in Europe and across Asia), seems deeply interested in genealogy. This has been reflected by the Mormons, who are big into the subject by running familysearch.org and its affiliated Family History Library. Even the Boy Scouts of America has a genealogy merit badge (I don’t remember that from the time I was in Scouts)! Additionally, the Internet Archive has genealogical works, and the Library of Congress has certain collections.

A search on Google Books pulls up a lot of old genealogical publications. Avoiding specific family histories, or genealogies, I focused on genealogical publications.

For a magazine titled Genealogy: A Journal of American Ancestry, published in 1912, is an index to volumes 1 and 2, and then focus on specific families, certain records are transcribed (1790 census), and then there are columns for the publication on genealogical questions. These columns interestingly do not indicate gender of those writing in, but only their inquiries and surnames, with mentions of where the responses are located, on what page I presume:

The final page noted that it only cost $5.00 a year for a subscription to the Genealogy magazine, which was published by William M. Clemons on 45 and 49 William St in New York City, and edited by Lyman H. Weeks. Advertisements for family history information were also offered as was a list of nearby genealogists, and notation of the magazine having its own archive of genealogical materials.

I could go through over 300 other pages in the Google Books, but perhaps it is better to focus on the publisher, editor, and genealogists mentioned in their “directory,” just in the first issue of this magazine (noted above).

Mr. Clemens, whose full name was William Montgomery Clemons, lived from 1860 to 1931, and published at least 26 works, various magazines and family records, along with books on Mark Twain, to name a few. The Genealogy Bank has an article about him and his life. They write that

William Montgomery Clemens (1860-1931) was a prolific genealogist and writer. Nephew to the more famous Samuel Clemens [or Mark Twain] (1835-1910) – he was also a newspaper man and author…A prolific writer, he was the author of well over 100 books and hundreds of essays and newspaper articles. His regular column – “Notes on American Ancestry and Revolutionary Records” regularly appeared as the “Genealogical Department” in the Columbia, SC newspaper – the State…Over 80 of Clemens’ genealogy columns appeared in the Star.Each one has genealogical details & information for families from across the country. He regularly received questions from his readers and posted them to this column.

What about the editor, Lyman Horace Weeks and recommended genealogists H. Wattel and E. Haviland Hillman? Lyman Horace Weeks was also a prolific genealogical writer as this page shows, only appearing one time in Harper’s Magazine apparently. The New York Public Library describes him as such:

Lyman Horace Weeks (1851-1942) was an American genealogist, historian and editor. His specialty was genealogical research and he wrote and edited monographs and serials. His biography of Sir Peter Warren, British naval officer who aided in the capture of Louisbourg in 1745, was based on genealogical research.

Nothing else is known about him from my internet searching. For H. Wattel, it seems an insurmountable task to find his first name. As for E. Haviland Hillman, he seems to have been based on London for some amount of time, part of the F.S.G., writings some books (see here and here). From a quick search, the term “F.S.G.” seems to be an accreditation of some sort. Further verification proves this to be correct. The denotation refers to one as a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists (SoG), based in London, founded in 1911. The organization describes what this means:

[As a fellow] they enjoy the knowledge their services have been recognised by their peers. They are entitled to use the initials FSG (Fellow of the Society of Genealogists) after their name and mention it on any professional websites they have. They are not compelled to do anything else. Fellowship is given for work and contributions already made to Genealogy; not for future work.

Likely when Hillman was a genealogist he was held to the same standard. SoG in 1911 was apparently founded as “a place where professional genealogists and amateur enthusiasts could meet.” But who were those genealogists and enthusiasts? Considering that it was only 50 people at its founding in 1911 and still less than 1,000 after WWII, as noted by the UK’s National Archives, it is probably worth an educated guess that the group was exclusive, attracting those who were well-off, respectable, male, and white. While it has become “Britain’s premier family history society,” it seems to be still exclusive to an extent. It has a “registered office located in Greater London,” as noted on a business site, at the building, as it looked in 2015, below:

Courtesy of Google Street View

The  building is small and almost looks like a library, at least inside. I was expecting something more ornate, but I was wrong.

What about 45 and 49 William St in New York City? As it stands now, it is a huge apartment building with construction on the street level. As it turns out, this location is just one of the many places rented out within the “Trump Building” (because Trump is the landlord of it) which was constructed in 1930. However, this magazine came out in 1912, 18 years before the tower was constructed. So where were their offices? While a photo of William Street before 1930 cannot be found, the city was teeming with cars and many skyscrapers even by the 1920s. It is likely that the building they were in was invoked a relatively recent style, as noted in an article by the New York Times:

By the beginning of the 20th century, the first generation of downtown skyscrapers ground out any remaining vestiges of the Dutch city, and in 1901 The New York Times mused that the crooked streets “remain to this day to bewilder modern New Yorkers”…Amos F. Eno, whose family had owned property in the area since before the Civil War, gave South William a renewed Dutch twist in 1903…Gilbert chose brick the color of honey and trimmed his commission with the soft white terra cotta that frames bays of leaded windows, rising to a stepped gable bearing a small circular window.

Then we get to The American Genealogical Record, published by a company in San Francisco. It told the history of specific families, just like Genealogy magazine, and seemed to resemble genealogy books we still see today. Sadly, this book does not give any insight into genealogy at that time.

Concluding words

There is still something to say after all of this. The practice of genealogy has changed over the years. Originally it was a hobby conducted by an exclusive few who were undoubtedly well-off white men (and perhaps some women). As the years went by, it became more inclusive and more scholarly. Genealogy is a field open for those of all races, sizes, and shapes. It allows one to cross class, racial, gender, or other lines which is, at times, harder in other disciplines. This is, what you could say, makes it unique. With all sorts of genealogical information online, one can sit at their computer and look up this and that, but this only gets so far because not every record is digitized. So, you still have to go to cemeteries, archives, libraries, historical societies, and the like. You can’t look up everything online. To end this post, I look forward to your comments and the future trajectory of History Hermann, fully moving into the field of genealogy!


Notes

[1] See “The story of the extra regiment soldiers: from McCay to Patton“; “Benjamin Murdoch’s life after the war“; ““A young man with some property”: the story of a former Maryland captain“; ““A character for probity and honor”: the story of Theodore Middleton“; ““A Gentleman of Maryland”: the short life of Edward Giles“; ““An officer of the Revolution”: The story of Mountjoy Bayly” (In this post I wrote that “the only way to find this out would be to, perhaps, would be to contact the DC Archives. I don’t feel it is my place to do this since I would be intruding on genealogy research by the family itself, but it is open for any other researchers”); “A “person of trust”: the story of Archibald Golder“; and “The post-war life of Alexander Lawson Smith, a “Harford Man”“.

[2] The QPB Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson also has no entry for the word “genealogy” which should be no surprise.

[3] The Society of Genealogists makes this distinction, defining genealogy as “establishment of a Pedigree by extracting evidence, from valid sources, of how one generation is connected to the next. (In essence, this means the discipline of the construction of a valid family tree)” and family history as “a biographical study of a genealogically proven family and of the community and country in which they lived. (In essence, this means the writing of a biography of a series of related ancestors of common genealogy. Family History incorporates Genealogy).” By these definitions, I have engaged in genealogy and family history!

 

 

From one Tilghman to the next: Tench and his descendants

As noted by the Maryland State Archives, this painting by Charles Wilson Peale for the Maryland State Archives, “Peale added two figures to the foreground of his composition. The first, to Washington’s immediate left…The second figure Peale added is Lieutenant Colonel Tench Tilghman (1744-1786), a Marylander who served as Washington’s military secretary and aide-de-camp, who is shown in profile. Tilghman’s portrait was painted from life.”

As we wrote about about last week on this blog, the pension for Anna Maria Tilghman, the widow of Tench Tilghman, is stock-filled with information. This post aims to dig into that information even more. Tench’s military career is evident without a doubt, and was part of the focus of my poster board in 2007 for the History Day competition titled “Tench Tilghman Pays a Price for Being a Patriot,” for which I only got to the state level with their theme of “Triumph & Tragedy in History.” That is part of the reason I’m writing these posts to be honest, to rekindle my interest in the subject I explored all those years ago, even though I did go to the Maryland State Archives, Maryland Historical Society (MHS), Historical Society of Talbot County, and the Library of Congress. [1] Back then I wrote about how I took notes from copies of original letters and documents at the MHS, a photograph of Tench Tilghman’s uniform, and that Tench came from a privileged family with sympathies toward the British crown, eventually making “sacrifices for Patriotism, facing estrangement from his family and disease contracted in battle,” leading to his early death at the age of 41.

Tench during the Revolutionary War and after

As far back as May 1769, George Washington was on good terms with the Tilghman family. He wrote James Tilghman, Tench’s father (who was once written about by the Maryland State Archives), that year, asking for advice in getting “Entrys of Land for me, near the Settlement of Redstone, in the Provence of Pensylvania” since he was, at the time, “anxious of obtaining some little possession in a Country that I have experienced many toils and hardships in.” Then in September 1774, Washington “dined at Mr. [James] Tilghman’s” house in Talbot County, Maryland. By 1776, Tench was translating letters in French for Washington as indicated here and here. By August, he had brought a deserter to George Washington himself! In all, within Founders Online, are 78 letters from Tilghman to other individuals, sometimes Washington. As the National Park Service puts it, “at Valley Forge, almost 30% of the correspondence that came out of Washington’s headquarters was written by Tilghman.” That’s an amazing feat!

On March 19, 1784, Tench wrote from Baltimore,  saying that there are not any bricklayers but only carpenters, to Washington’s Mt. Vernon as noted in other letters. So, he is basically a caretaker of Mt. Vernon? In a letter a few months later he added that Irish servants arrived, saying the following:

I shall attend to your direction of substituting a Stone Mason in the room of a Bricklayer, should circumstances require it—I will also make enquiry for a Stucco Worker…he must be perfect, otherwise, like a bad Painter, he will deface what he ought to decorate. I beg leave to take this opportunity of acknowledging the rect of your Excellency’s letter of the 19th of May from Philada accompanied by a Badge of the Order of the Cincinnati, of which Society I have the honor of being a Member…I therefore take pleasure in informing you that Mrs Tilghman presented me with a Daughter [Margaret] a fortnight ago [May 25], and that she and her little Charge are both perfectly well

The next letter, the following month, is in the same vein, adding that in Baltimore there is a “demand for Carpenters and Masons, that the Master Builders in those Branches who are settled here, in order to intice the new comers to give them a preference,” notes about Irish coming to Baltimore to work, whom would take not take “less than the high daily Wages given to such Tradesmen here.” Again, these are about those who are coming to work at Mr. Vernon, with Tench meeting with the workers themselves. He adds in another letter about Mt. Vernon’s specifications: “The Door of the House to be as large as you can conveniently make it—otherwise when the Trees come to any size, the limbs are broken and the Fruit torn off in moving in and out.”

By March 1785, Tench is clearly not the caretaker of Mt. Vernon anymore. Instead he writes about the daughter of “the late Capt. William Anderson of London” who is in a bad way, worries about the “the health of Mrs Washington and yourself” and adds that “Mrs Tilghman is upon a visit to her Friends upon the Eastern shore” whom he will soon join. By May, he gives even more of a story, adding that he is currently tied down by business in Baltimore:

How much you flatter me, my dear General (for by that name I must ever be allowd to call you) by your kind invitation to visit you [in Mt. Vernon]. My circumstances require a close attention to Business, and I am, on that account, cheifly confined to the limits of this Town. I often wish for a good pretence to go as far as Alexandria or George Town. Once there I should not fail to pay my Respects at Mount Vernon. If I ever find time to make a jaunt of pleasure—Mrs Tilghman will assuredly be of the party. She joins in sincerest Compliments to Mrs Washington and yourself

By August, he is talking about those on a ship called the Pallas, owned by a Mr. John O’Donnell, an Irish-born man, with the crew on the ship mostly “from the Coasts of Malabar and Coromandel, and are much of the Countenance and Complexion of your old Groom Wormely.” As always, he (and his wife) wishes George and his wife Martha well. Later he recommends a man named John Rawlins to work at Mt. Vernon, describing him as a “masterly Workman” while also saying that he only has one regret, that he cannot make a visit, saying that “my Business ties me down to the Circle of Baltimore.”

By October, he describes his sickness as getting to him, even as he claims he is getting better:

You will wonder at my long silence; but you will excuse me when I inform you, that your letter of the 14th of Sept. found me confined to my Bed by a most Severe nervous Fever, which kept me there near four Weeks. I am now far from being recovered, but as I can mount my Horse, I take daily Exercise, and find my Health and Strength returning by slow degrees.

His next letter is a couple months later in December, in which he writes about meeting a man named “Count Castiglioni…who, in pursuit of Botanical Knowledge, has thought it worth his while to visit this, hitherto, almost unexplored Continent” whom he recommends Washington meet. The same month he writes Washington again talking about gentlemen he has recommended to Washington, and seems to be a sort of caretaker of Mt. Vernon again, writing that “the Work to be began at Mount Vernon by the 1st or middle of April next—at farthest.” In other letters he writes about sickness of some of these workers, and about his “Brother James [who] lives at Talbot Court House, the Central spot of the Eastern Shore Counties, and convenient to the State of Delaware also.”

In 1786, there are four letters written by Tench to Washington. The first is on January 16, for which he talks about setting Rawlins to work on fixing up Mt. Vernon, again writing about this in March. On March 16 he again writes about his sickness:

I have been confined upwards of a Fortnight in great measure, to my bed, by the return of a Complaint in my side with which I was troubled some time ago. I recover but very slowly, but I hope that as soon as I am able to enjoy the favorable Season which is approaching I shall soon get recruited.

On March 23 he writes his last letter to Washington, in which he says that

I am still unable to leave my Chamber, tho I think I am rather better than when I wrote to you last.

On April 22, Thomas Ringgold Tilghman, Tench’s brother, tells Washington about Tench’s death only a few days before:

I have the most melancholy Task to perform, that was ever yet imposed upon me; that of making you acquainted with the Death of my poor Brother Tench. Painful however as it is, I thought a duty not to be dispensed with towards one for whom he had so high a Reverence & so warm an Attachment as for yourself. Not above three days before his death every symptom bade fair for a speedy Recovery, when an unexpected Change took place, which in a short time destroyed every hope. He retained his senses perfectly till within a few hours of the time that he expired, which was in the Evening of the 18th, when he went off without the least pain & even without a struggle: As it is our Wish to settle his Affairs as speedily as possible, I enclose your account, the Bale of which £54.10.4 you will be pleased to pay into the hands of Messrs Josiah Watson & Co. of Alexanda which mode of settling it, is agreable to his Intentions.

To this, Washington replies the following month with almost a eulogy:

As there were few men for whom I had a warmer friendship, or greater regard than for your Brother—Colonel Tilghman—when living; so, with much truth I can assure you, that, there a⟨re⟩ none whose death I could more sincerely have regretted. and I pray you, & his numerous friends to permit me to mingle my sorrows with theirs on this unexpected & melancholy occasion—and that they would accept my compliments of condolence on it.

That is all that can be said about Tench in Baltimore. There are letters regarding his efforts at delivering surrender papers from Yorktown to Annapolis and then the Continental Congress in 1781. [2] Apparently one his descendants, years later, would be named Oswald. The Maryland State Archives gives a quick overview of Tench’s later life:

…[his children were] Anna Margaretta, born May 24, 1784 [who married]…her cousin Tench Tilghman, son of Peregrine Tilghman of “Hope”…[and] Elizabeth Tench, born October 11, 1786 [who married] Col. Nicholas Goldsborough…In 1784 formed a partnership with Robert Morris in Baltimore called Tench Tilghman & Co. Lived on Lombard Street…[died] April 18, 1786 in Baltimore [and was] buried [in] St. Paul’s Church.

Within their sources is a chancery court case in which Samuel Stringer Cole sued James Carey, Margaret Tilghman, and Elizabeth Tilghman, a Baltimore Sun article, Papenfuse’s “Remarks to Board of Public Works, February 4, 1998,” other remarks, and a program. Most interesting is the 18-pages of a scanned inventory, showing that he had the many possessions when noted in May 1786. Instead of reprinting each (as that stretches for 7 pages), I picked the ones I thought were representative:

1 small sword

1 gold watch

10 coats with gold epaulets for a coat

13 shirts

14 socks

17 handkerchiefs

1 saddle cloth

1 pair of pistols

1 riding stick and 1 pair of spurs

2 military books

1 sword belt

22 silver table spoons

24 silver desert spoons

24 silver desert spoons and sugar tongs

12 Mahogany chairs

12 pewter dishes

100 lb good brown sugar

This showed his class position in society without a doubt, especially that he rode on a horse but did not own a plantation with enslaved blacks like his contemporaries (i.e. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington). The letter by Thomas to George Washington is not a surprise because he was the administrator of Tench’s estate. Today, the MHS has papers specifically on the Tilghman family, as does the Library of Australia. Some even wrote a poem about him, with Washington placing “Tilghman among the prominent of the Revolution” as one writer put it.

Tench’s wife, Anna Maria TilghmanBefore getting to Tench and Anna Maria’s children, it is worth talking about Anna Maria. Buried on Talbot County MD, her former home was Plimhimmon, with her parents as Matthew Tilghman, an important figure in Maryland politics during the Revolutionary War, and Anna Lloyd, from the Lloyd family which was deeply rooted in Talbot County and also involved in local politics in the state (then a colony) of Maryland. Matthew’s brother was James, who was the father of Tench, who had three other siblings (Richard, Anna Maria, and William). Anna Maria was, as the story goes, born at the “Hermitage,” the family’s plantation not to be confused with Andrew Jackson’s home of the same name.Later, the “Hope House,” established in 1800 would be the “Home of Tench Tilghman and his wife, Margaret Tilghman” with this Margaret Tilghman the “niece of Margaret Tilghman Carroll of Mount Clare – the daughter of Margaret’s sister Anna Maria and her husband, Colonel Tench Tilghman.” Apparently in the Talbot County Historical Society hangs a copy of a “167-year-old portrait of Anna Maria…where she looks down through her old-fashioned glasses at the goings-on of the 21st century world,” with the original in ” the Shreve home.”

Tench and Anna Maria’s first daughter, Ann Margaretta

Ann Margaretta, or called Margaret for short, was born in 1755 as I noted in the previous post.As the letters above note, Margaret was born sometime in March 1784. Before her untimely death on March 18, 1812, she married a man named Tench Tilghman, the son of Peregrine Tilghman (whose father was Richard Tilghman who was the brother of Tench’s father, James) and Deborah Lloyd. With this Tench she had three children. One of them, with the same name as his father, Tench, was mentioned in the pension documents in the previous article, while the other two children, an infant and William Ward, were not since they did not live very long (the infant died at less than a year old and William at age 4). Family history sites don’t say much about her, except that her son Tench would be the future founder of the Maryland & Delaware railroad.

Nothing else can be currently determined.

Tench and Anna Maria’s second daughter, Elizabeth

From our previous post it was clear that Elizabeth was born after Tench’s death. Her gravestone only says she was 65 years old when she died on May 5, 1852, meaning she she can be the child of Tench and Anna Maria even though simple subtraction pegs her birth date in 1787 (when it was likely late 1786 but her birth date had not come up when she died). We also know that she married a man named C.T. Goldsborough and seemingly had a child named M. Tilghman Goldsborough and that she lived until at least 1843. Her gravestone shows that her husband was not “C.T. Goldsborough” but a man named Nicholas Goldsborough, and that she had six children with him:

Matthew Tilghman Goldsborough (18121861) [undoubtedly the same as “M. Tilghman Goldsborough”]

James Nicholas Goldsborough (18141871)

A Margaretta Goldsborough Hollyday (18161878)

Sally Goldsborough (18271870)

Nicholas Goldsborough (18291891)

Mary Henrietta Goldsborough (18341907)

Due to the fact that she died in 1852, this is great for discovering more of her history, since she has to be in the 1850 census, the first that names all of those in the household, not just the head of the household.

Looking up Nicholas’s name we find a record of his birth, but also the 1850 census for “Talbot county, part of, Talbot, Maryland, United States.”  Rather than just linking the census it is worth reprint the image of the census itself, showing a household of 12 individuals!

Nicholas is called a Colonel, from what I can see, and is a farmer, with the Symthe family also living with them.

Before this, the 1820 census shows a Nicholas Goldsborough in “Trappe, Talbot, Maryland, United States,” the 1830 census show a man of the same name in “Talbot, Maryland, United States” while the 1840 census shows a man by the same name in “District 3, Talbot, Maryland, United States.” One can say these men are the same and that they are undoubtedly Elizabeth’s husband of the same name. Additionally, it is likely that Elizabeth was living with him. Other records, within the 1850 “slave schedulesshow that her husband is clearly a slaveowner, of at least three individuals. Hence, the Tilghman family could not escape slavery and was part of it without a doubt.

It is hard to say when Elizabeth married Nicholas. I say that because the 1800, 18101820, and 1840, censuses show a woman named “Elizabeth Tilghman” in Talbot County, alone. Likely the “Mariah E Tilghman” in the 1840 census is Tench (the 1st)’s wife.

The story of Henrietta Maria Francis

As I noted in my post last week, a woman named Henrietta Maria Francis was first “acquainted” with Tench (in 1780), when she was age 25, and married the uncle of Tench, in 1783, with Tench visiting them after their marriage. She said in her deposition in the pension that:

…she intermarried with Philip Francis, the uncle of the said Tench Tilghman in the year seventeen hundred and eighty and was in the year seventeen hundred and eighty three was living near Eden Park, near the town of Wilmington, in Delaware, and that the said Col Tench Tilghman, before his marriage, and in the month of March of March seventeen hundred and eighty three made a visit to the despondents husband, at [Eden Park]

One history of Tench seems to mention this Philip fellow, saying that he is the brother of Anna Francis, the wife of James Tilghman, Tench’s father, while another individual, “Tench Francis” is mentioned as Tench’s uncle. Find A Grave is no help in this regard, only finding three individuals with the name of “Tench Francis.” Other searches note a man named “Sir Philip Francis” but it not known of this is the same as Henrietta Maria’s husband. The Wikipedia page for Tench Francis Sr gives the biggest clue:

Tench Francis (born probably in Ireland; died 16 August 1758) was a prominent lawyer and jurist in colonial Maryland and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania…In 1724 he married Elizabeth Turbutt. Together, they had [a number of children including] Philip Francis, who married Henrietta Maria Goldsborough, who were the grandparents of Philip Francis Thomas…[and] Ann Francis, who married James Tilghman, who were the parents of Tench Tilghman…Tench Francis died in Philadelphia in 1758.

So, Henrietta Maria’s maiden name was Goldsborough and her husband, Philip Francis, had the same father as Tench’s mother, Ann Francis. Searching for “Henrietta Maria Goldsborough” turns up varied results on Find A Grave so it is not known which, if any, are the same as Philip’s wife. The same can be said for the results on Family Search. Tech does seem to call him “Phil Francis” in 1776 so perhaps Henrietta did know Tench well.

Conclusion

The Tilghman family is a gift that keeps giving for research, one that can continue to be mined for research. For now there won’t be a follow-up article, but if anything else comes up in the future, an article adding to previous documents may be released. As always, I look forward to your comments.

Notes

[1] Looking back at a binder titled “Tench Tilghman,” it is clear that I looked at newspaper articles, a letter to George Washington by Tench on August 14, 1784, Tench’s Yorktown Journal at the MHS, a few random websites online, mainly to provide visuals, photocopies of Tench’s journals, Samuel Alexander Harrison’s book titled Memorial of Lieutenant Colonel Tench Tilghman: Secretary and Aid to Washington, Ray Raphael’s Founding Myths: Stories that Hide out Patriotic Past, L.G. Shreve’s Tench Tilghman: The Life and Tomes of Washington’s Aide-de-Camp, and Oswald Tilghman’s History of Talbot County, MD, 1681-1861. I also had correspondence with a man named Richard Tilghman who lives in the Wye House (where Tench lived), who is “related to Colonel Tench Tilghman, but not directly.”

[2] Specifically letters on pages 485, 486, 487, and 547 relate to Tench.

51 years later: Anna Marie Tilghman’s widows pension

Tench Tilghman’s gravestone, courtesy of Wikimedia.

Fifty-one years after Tench Tilghman’s death, his wife (who was a cousin), Anna Marie Tilghman, got a widows pension. Tilghman was, as the Maryland State Archives argues, “one of Maryland’s great patriots” due to his public service as part of a “commission established to form treaties with the Six Nations of Indian tribes,” a captain in “the Pennsylvania Battalion of the Flying Camp.,” and serving as an unpaid aide-de-camp to George Washington from August 1776 to May 1781 when Washington got him “a regular commission in the Continental Army.” His final task was “he honor of carrying the Articles of Capitulation to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.” Other than that, the Maryland State Archives writes that Tench was

born on December 25, 1744 in Talbot County on his father’s plantation. He was educated privately until the age of 14, when he went to Philadelphia to live with his grandfather, Tench Francis. In 1761, he graduated from the College and Academy of Philadelphia, which later became the University of Pennsylvania, and then went into business with his uncle Tench Francis, Jr. until just before the Revolutionary War. After the War, Tilghman returned to Maryland where he resumed his career in business in Baltimore and married his cousin, Anna Marie Tilghman. They had two daughters, Anna Margaretta and Elizabeth Tench. Tilghman died on April 18, 1786 at the age of 41.

His gravestone was placed in Talbot County’s Oxford Cemetery long after his death. That’s because he died at St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore, with the remains brought from there to Talbot County in 1971 but the original gravestone, without the plaque, does tell something about him.

The widows pension by Anna Maria  Tilghman tells an interesting story. [1] The first page shows that not only is it a penson for Anna Maria but that Tench also received a land grant, with “B.L.W.T.” noting an “application for a warrant for bounty land” promised to him since he “served to the end of the war”:

The next page notes that Tench died on April 18, 1786 in Talbot County, MD and was a Lieutenant Colonel serving in the army commanded by General George Washington, specifically in the Pennsylvania line, for two years. This is despite the fact he served for longer than two years as noted earlier in this article. For all of this, she would receive almost $4,000.00 a year, a sizable sum at the time when she was filing (May 1843):

The next page doesn’t say much else other than that her claim would be processed in Maryland under the 1836 Pension Act covering veterans of the war with Britain from 1812-1815 and the Revolutionary War

The page following is a personal appeal by her on February 24, 1837 in which she, before the Talbot County Orphans Court  notes that she is the widow of Tench who serves as an Aide to Camp to George Washington and Lt. Colonel in the PA line, serving in total from January 1, 1777 to November 3, 1783. She also notes that she married Tench on June 9, 1783, and that he died on April 18, 1786:

The next page is a judge on the Orphans Court in Talbot County, James Price, certifying her declaration is correct, nothing more, nothing less:

Then on March 11, 1837 a 82-year-old woman named Henrietta Maria Francis appeared before the Talbot County Orphans Court. She said she was “well acquainted with Col Tench Tilghman of Baltimore City,” noting that she first met him in 1780, noting that through the years it was recounts how he was an aide-de-camp of George Washington. She was also, of course, familiar with Anna Maria Tilghman, saying that she was the daughter of one Matthew Tilghman, noting also that they were both married in June 1783. Clearly she was related on a familial level to Tench: her husband, Philip Francis, was Tench’s uncle, whom Tench visited in March 1783 after their marriage.

She adds that Tench died three years after she married Philip Francis, with Anna Maria (called she after this section) having one daughter before Tench’s death, and another after Tench died (she must have been in labor when Tench died), and has since stayed as a widow. Others writing below her attest to the veracity of this statement:

By October 1858 it is asserted that Anna Maria died in 1843, with another Tilghman (M. Tilghman Goldborough) filing a continuing claim as they inherited her estate interestingly:

From there, Elizabeth Goldborough, likely the mother of the above listed M. Tilghman Goldsborough, turns out to be the daughter of Anna Maria and Tench! It is also noted that her sister is named Margaret who died, leaving her the only heir. This document, issued by a Talbot County Justice of the Peace in December 1825, shows that Margaret and Elizabeth were children of Anna Maria and Tench Tilghman without a doubt:

The pension goes on to say that Elizabeth is an heir of Tench Tilghman, and quickly notes Tench’s military service:

The next page makes it clear that all of those previous pages specifically related to a bounty land warrant claim, which is wrapped up within the pages of Tench’s pension papers, making it possible for Tench’s wife Anna Maria to apply for a widows pension in 1837 and Elizabeth to apply for the bounty land warrant in 1825, for her son to come back in the 1850s saying that now want to apply for the pension.  This page makes it clear that Elizabeth’s request was granted in January of 1826:

In May 1929, the War Department tried to sort all of this out. As they summarized, it was clear that Tench served from January 1, 1777 to November 3, 1783 as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Continental Army and an aide-de-camp to General Washington, dying on April 18, 1783. They also summarized how Tench married Anna Maria on June 8, 1783, allowed a pension on February 13, 1837but died on January 18, 1843. They also wrote that they had two children, Elizabeth and Margaret with the former child marrying a man named Goldsborough of Talbot County, Maryland, while the latter had a son named Tench Tilghman, marrying a man whose name is not yet known.

The final page says that a “grandson” named M. Tilghman Goldsborough is referred to in 1858 but no other family data is known.

The next page just notes Anna Maria’s widows pension claim:

In May 1843, a man named Tench Tilghman said that he obtained a pension claim for a Mrs. Anna Maria Tilghman, widow of Tench in 1837, noting that Anna Maria died January 13, 1843 at age 88, if I read that right. He further notes that the youngest daughter of Anna Maria and Tench, Elizabeth (“Mrs. C.T. Goldsborough”), who was noted earlier, is an heir, while he is the son of the the older daughter, Margaret. As such, he asks the pension commissioner to whom the pension now belongs:

Then there is an earlier letter from J.L. Edwards, the pension commissioner in March 1837, saying that the papers in the case of the pension are returned as the evidence is “not being sufficient to establish the claim” because of new regulations on pensions. Perhaps this is what prompted the second Tench’s letter in 1843, for which a response is not known:

A further letter from J.L. Edwards, in March 1837, confirms that Tench did serve from January 1, 1777 to November 3, 1783:

Then there is a letter from a later descendant in 1894 to the pension office about Tench’s pension papers:

After that there is a 1928 letter by another descendant, Grace Cottingham Tilghman Bowen (who married a man named Charles Hay Bowen), leading to the response from the War Department as noted earlier in this post:

Second page of the pension specifically focuses on Tench:

There is much to be learned from this pension. For one, that Tench served as a Lt. Colonel and Aide-De-Camp from 1777 to 1783, and that he married Anna Maria Tilghman, his cousin, in June 1783 when she was 28 years old (born in 1755). Furthermore, it is also clear that he had two children with her, Margaret (older) and Elizabeth (younger), with the latter child born after the “demise of her husband” Tench. From there, Margaret later had a child named Tench Tilghman, meaning that she married a person with the surname of Tilghman, while Elizabeth married a man named C.T. Goldsborough and seemingly had a child named M. Tilghman Goldsborough. It is not known when Margaret or Elizabeth died, but only that Margaret was dead sometime before 1825 (when Elizabeth filed her claim for the bounty land), while Elizabeth lived until at least 1843. Furthermore, it is also noted that Tench lived in Baltimore where he met a woman named Henrietta Maria Francis, who was 25 when she was first “acquainted” with Tench, and she married a man named Philip Francis,the uncle of Tench, whom Tench visited in March 1783 after the marriage of Henrietta and Philip. All of this calls for another post to dig into this more, which will be coming to you from this wonderful blog next week!

Notes

[1] Pension of Tench Tilghman, 1837, B.L.Wt 1158-450, Widow’s Pension Application File, W.9522, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15. Courtesy of
Ancestry.com and Heritage Quest.

The story of the Extra Regiment’s ordinary soldiers: From McCay to Patton

Map of where soldiers of the Extra Regiment enlisted. Some just said they enlisted in Kent or Queen Anne’s County but no town is specified, so that is not on this map. This map was created in Google Earth and shows the wide range of places soldiers of the regiment came from.

While the officers of the Extra Regiment are important, it is as vital to tell the stories of the ordinary soldiers. There are eleven who have pensions, and their stories are focused on in his post. This post uses the pensions of John (or Jon) McCay/McKay, William Simmons, William Elkins, John Shanks, William Groves, Jesse Boswell, Giles Thomas, Philip Huston, Thomas Gadd, William Patton/Patten, and John Newton [1] as sources, so any information not otherwise cited in this article comes from these pensions.

John McCay and William Simmons: brothers-in-arms

At age 14, a man named John (or Jon) McCay/McKay enlisted in George Town, within Maryland’s Kent County, in the Extra Regiment. Many years later, one of Baltimore City’s Associate Justices,James Richardson, would note that John enlisted in July of that year, the beginning of his three year term of service. [2] He was sent to Chestertown, Maryland that same month where a man named William Simmons, likely older than him, would enlist, joining his same company. In later years, Simmons would call John “a faithful Soldier.”

After leaving Chestertown, John went to Annapolis where he joined “Sheppard’s Company” as he termed it. This is an interesting description because the person this refers to is undoubtedly Francis Shepard/Sheppard, a man who was a lieutenant within the Extra Regiment but not a captain. Perhaps he took on the position of generally leading the company, so this could be why he called it this, and noted that Alexander Lawson Smith led the company.

William, John, and 18 others went to Philadelphia to “carry Horses” and supplies. They remained there and left with about 200 others who likely were marched up to Philadelphia from other recruiting areas. They then marched to Elkton, MD, then went by ship to Annapolis. It was there he joined his company, taking his clothing and marching with the regiment to Alexandria, then to Fredericksburg, Richmond and Petersburg. From there, they went to Hillsborough, joining a part of Nathanael Greene’s army, after “Gate’s defeat” or the Battle of Camden, and joined the main Continental Army at “Sharraw” or Cheraw Hills in January 1781 .John goes on to say in his pension that the Extra Regiment ”

detatched to Haleys Ferry on Pedee River [Pee Dee River], as a look out guard, from thence marched and joined the main army near Guilford Court House, crossed Dan river to near Prince Edwards Court House”

In early 1781, sometime before the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, as the regiment was broken apart, ordinary soldiers transferred to other units and the original officers were sent home. He says he served under Lieut/Capt. Lane, who refers to Samuel McLane, a man who was a captain in the fall of 1781 but had been promoted to Captain by the following year. William was likely among his fellow soldiers, and if he was, he would have returned to Annapolis, joining troops under the command of William Smallwood. John at that point, received a furlough to go home possibly to Harford County. Later that year, he joined Francis Reveley‘s company, which was within Colonel Peter Adams‘ regiment, which was also called the First Maryland Regiment.

John marched south again in the fall of 1781. After moving to Williamsburg, where the unit joined the main Continental Army, he, with the rest of his unit, proceeded to “the seige of York after the surrender of Cornwallis” in October 1781. William was also at that same battle, possibly meaning that they would have been fighting shoulder-to-shoulder. He marched further southward within a company of what he said was the 4th Maryland Regiment, but could have easily been another unit, like the 1st. In this position, his unit guarded “artillery and ammunition to supply General Green’s army at “Pond Pond” or Ponpon in South Carolina. Later on, they marched to “Bacons bridge” which was near Old Dorchester and then crossed over to James’ Island for wintering until “Charleston was illuminated for the ratification of peace.”

Courtesy of Google Maps. Currently James Island is a town near Charleston.

William had a bit of a different story. He said he was at a battle at “Blueford river.” This undoubtedly referred to Beaufort River, and could refer to this or this skirmish, or something else entirely.

As the war came to a close, in June 1783, John was aboard a vessel which. returned to Annapolis. He then received an undated furlough which was “left with a certain John Browning” but was then lost. It is possible he was scammed just like the soldier noted in the next section, Philip Huston.

The wild story of Philip Huston

Apart from William Simmons and John McCay, a young man named Philip Huston also enlisted in Kent County. In the summer of 1780, he enlisted in Captain Archibald Golder‘s company as a drummer. Just like James Murphey and Richard Goldin in the First Maryland Regiment, Philip likely played snare, side, or bass drums, and was a non-commissioned officer that received the same pay as corporals. Since music regulated the lives of soldiers in the Continental Army, and such musicians, including fifers, helped maintain discipline and efficiency within the Continental Army, he was vital. Such peoples sounded signals of the day and served the same purpose of the bugle in the 19th century but many duties focused on signaling. Additionally, drummers sometimes administered discipline, at times performing the unpopular duty of lashing or flogging of soldiers. Even so, the training of drummers like Philip likely caused disruption, leading to confusion and annoyance among the rank-and-file. Since fifes and drums worked in unison with standard musical units in the continental army consisting of group of at least one fifer and one drummer, and playing popular tunes during camps or long marches, he worked with the company’s fifer, whose name is not currently known, but could be discovered.

It is possible that the Extra Regiment was understaffed in this area, but documents cannot disprove or prove this assertion since they are relatively limited on this regiment. Philip was lucky in a sense since there was a high turnover of drummers and fifers in the Continental Army. Like the rest of the unit, he marched from Annapolis to Carolina and joined the Continental Army. However, as he describes it, the regiment was broken up to “fill up vacancies” with officers returning as “supernumerary.” He was one of those people, coming back with Captain Golder and Lieutenant John Plant to Annapolis. Once there, he joined Peter Adams’ regiment, the First Maryland and attacked to Francis Reveley’s company. From there, he again marched South, this time to Yorktown and fought at the battle there. Afterwards, he went further south, joining Nathaniel Greene until they stayed at Ashley Hills on the Ashley River. After that point, the unit was ordered to return to Maryland, and from then on, he went from Annapolis to Frederick Town. He ended up doing “garrison duty over the Hessians” until piece was declared. Interestingly, this means he may have rubbed shoulders with Mountjoy Bayly, who was the commanding officer in Frederick Town at the time, a former commander of the Extra Regiment!

Courtesy of American Rivers. Used under the fair use exception to copyright law. According to SCIWAY Net, Inc., this river winds through the lowcountry of South Carolina and was the first designated scenic river in that region of the state.

In August 1783, Philip gained an honorable discharge. He was advised to send his charge to Annapolis to try and get money from it, by selling or exchanging it. As he tells it, he sent it to…

one James McDonald who received about thirty dollars upon it from a merchant by the name of James Williams or Williamson, which was to be repaid to him when the certificate of soldiers pay should be given out. This man Williamson received the whole of my final settlement and retained my discharge in his possession. I called afterwards upon him but he refused to give me anything more than the thirty dollars I had already received; he however made me a present of a black silk handkerchief, and made me sign a receipt in full.

As a result, he noted that he was unable to send his “discharge agreeably to the requisition of the department of war.” Basically Philip got swindled by these scammers who wouldn’t give him back something which was rightfully his.

William Elkins, non-existent discharge papers

In July 1780, as William Simmons and John McCay were enlisting in Kent County, a young man named William Elkins enlisted at Frederick Town, now called Frederick, within Frederick County. He first joined the company of William Beatty, who was then in John Gunby’s regiment. Later on that summer, perhaps even later that month, he joined the Extra Regiment. According to his recollection, the regiment marched from Frederick to Annapolis, then to Elkton Maryland, then on to “Christein” (likely Christiana) and to Philadelphia. From there, his company went back to Annapolis and after sometime went South. Again, this list of events follows Johns’s pension saying that the regiment went to Alexandria, Virginia, then Pee Dee River, and joined Nathanael Greene. But, there is a difference between the stories.

Courtesy of Wikimedia. This means the Extra Regiment would have been, at that point, in North or South Carolina, although they were likely in the latter more than the former.

William Elkins, unlike William and John mentioned earlier, fought in other major battles in the Southern Campaign. He fought at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, possibly in the Second Maryland Regiment, at the short engagement at Hobkirk’s Hill, at the Siege of Ninety Six, and at Eutaw Springs. After this, he marched to James Island near South Carolina’s Charleston from where troops went by ship back to Annapolis. It was there he received a furlough, in 1784, after serving a term of three years and one month, but since he was absent from the regiment when peace was declared, he “neglected to obtain a certificate of his discharge” at the time.

William Patton was another man who enlisted in Frederick County at age 26. He claims he enlisted in 1776 in the regular army when he resided in “Creagerstown Destrict Frederick County” which refers to Creagerstown, Maryland, and also  enlisted there as well. He claims that he served with Captain Samuel Cock (one transcript of the pension says he enlisted with “James L. Cock” but this is incorrect) from 1776 until 1781, leaving the company three of four days before the “battle at gilford.” He goes on to say that General Greene then gave him his full discharge. But before all that, he relates how the regiment marched to Annapolis, then to Elk River, then to Baltimore Town (not mentioned by others), then to Philadelphia and to the Potomac River, and then southward. This is a bit jumbled, but he was recalling this when he was in his nineties! Anyway, he argues that he served over four years in the military service, which could invalidate his previous claims.

He even says that he did receive a discharge from his military service. However, his discharge wet while deer hunting and as a result, it got destroyed. He also says he may have served in a company of Capt. Mountjoy Bayly. Other records show that he was given payments for his service, $13.30 in fact, at the time.

John Shanks and William Groves of Anne Arundel County

Representation of the battle of Eutaw Springs. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

On August 1st, a 21-year-old man named John Shanks enlisted, as a substitute for Wilfred Neale, in Anne Arundel County. He joined the company of a middle-aged Captain named Charles Smith, a Maryland 400 veteran. But, once it reached headquarters in the Southern theater of the war, he joined the 2nd Maryland Regiment, then commanded by John Eager Howard, with Captain John Smith taking command of his company until the battle of Eutaw Springs when he was “badly wounded.” As he recalls, “he lost the fore finger of his right hand, and got the thick part of his thumb shivered and broken.” After that time he was put in a company with other wounded soldiers (called “invalids” at the time) which was commanded by Captain Nicholas Rickets and served until November 15, 1783.

William Groves was a bit different. A 25-year-old man, William enlisted under Samuel McLane, in Annapolis. He marched with the army to rendezvous in Montgomery County, then went to Philadelphia and then southward to the Continental Army commanded by General Nathanael Greene, where it was, “near the Cheraw hills.” He makes it seem that not long after this arrival the soldiers of the regiment were divided, and “the new officers were all sent home.” In later years, he was attached to the company of Mark McPherson of the Second Maryland Regiment, fighting at the battles of Hobkirk Hill, Eutaw Springs, Guilford Courthouse, and “continued in the army untill the end of the war, against the common enemy.” His wife, Mary, years later, claims that he was

wounded at the Battle of Guilford by a cutlass in the head, and was also wounded at the Battle of Eutaw in the left leg by a Ball…[and] did not leave the service of the United States till after close of the war of the Revolution, at which time he was honourably Discharged from the Service of the United States

She also claims he was at Cowpens although he never made that claim and that he drew a federal pension up to his death, with his pension certificate then “sent to the Agent for paying pensions in the City of Baltimore.” He may have also, later become an ensign, although this is unlikely.

Jesse Boswell of Port Tobacco and Giles Thomas of Charles County

Port Tobacco as noted on a 1795 map of Maryland. This town is slightly southeast of La Plata.

In July 1780, a 25-year-old man named Jesse Boswell enlisted in Francis Shepherd’s company in Port Tobacco, Charles County, for a three year term. However, when he “marched to the Southward” and jointed “Greens army” and the regiment split apart, his company came to be commanded by Captain James Bruff and Col. Benjamin Ford, and stayed in this regiment until was discharged in Annapolis. Before that time, he fought at the battles of Guilford Courthouse, Hobkirk’s Hill, Eutaw Springs, and the Siege of Ninety Six, but his discharge papers were lost in the process.

There was another man who enlisted in the Charles County. In 1780, this man, Giles Thomas, was reportedly 16 years old. He enlisted in the same company as John Shanks, and noted that Edward Giles was a major in the company. He also noted that he had three years of service from July 26, 1780 to Jul 26, 1783. He recalled that a few days before the battle of Guilford Courthouse,

the whole of the aforesaid regiment to which he belonged, was transfered to the Maryland continental line and the officers of the former regiment sent home

Giles adds that he later fought at the battles of Hobkirk’s Hill, Guilford Courthouse, at the siege of ninety-six, and part of James Bruff’s company, Mordecai Gist as the Brigadier General. Looking at the biography of Gist, it is surprising that Giles didn’t mention William Smallwood since the two high-ranking military men served together.

Thomas Gadd of Queen Anne’s County

In July 1780, Thomas, a 20-year-old man enlisted in Queen Anne’s County, likely in Wye Hundred where he was living in 1778. His company mustered in Chestertown, and he was, like, Jesse Boswell, William Simmons, and John McCay, part of “Captain Sheppard’s Company” which again is strange since records seem to indicate he was a lieutenant. Perhaps he was a Captain-Lieutenant. I’m not sure. Anyway, he notes, like many of the others, about the trip of a section of the regiment from Annapolis to Philadelphia, then back to Annapolis, and then marching southward. He seems to say that the regiment arrived at Cheraw Hills meeting General Nathaniel Green’s Army in South Carolina, but that by March the regiment has “broken up.” He goes on to say that he served in the company of James Bruff. But, he was “severely wounded in the head by a musket ball at the battle of Guilford Court House” and sent to Virginia’s Perkins Hospital. From there he still joined the regiment at the siege of ninety-six, but the deponent was transported to water to Annapolis in December 1782 and received ” and unlimited furlough, on or about the Month of July 1783″ which was proclaimed by George Washington himself.

Courtesy of Google Maps. As the town of Cheraw’s website puts it, “In January of 1781 Gen. Greene’s Continentals had a camp of repose just across the river. After the war, the devastation here was so great that it took many years for the area to recover.”

There are numerous documents making it clear that he did receive a pension for a wound “received in the Revolutionary war; entitling him to half pay” and that he served in the Maryland Line. Furthermore, it is clear that there was a claim for his injury and he was placed on the pension listed in April 1815.Then there is the report of two doctors in April 1815:

… we hereby certify that we have examined on oath Thomas Gadd a Soldier in the revolutionary war, who was wounded by a musket in the memorable battle of Guilford Court House on the 15th of March 1781, the citatrix [sic] 1 of which would now evidently appear on the upper part of the left parietal bone & from which wound he declares exfoliation of bone took place before it cured up. He further declares that ever since he received the wound he has been afflicted with pain and giddiness in the head from stooping down & from severe exercise, which symptoms frequently caused him to desist from his labor. He is now old, & further declares that he feels these symptoms increase with his years. We are of opinion that being in the situation he describes himself to be, he certainly must be considerably incapacitated from gaining a maintenance for himself & family by manual labor.

Other documents go on to say that James Bruff himself tells them that he received a “wound on his head while under his command and in the line of his duty and this deponent further saith that the said Thomas Gadd to the best of his knowledge served as a good and faithful soldier.” Then there is the deposition of Joseph Nabb of the same county who says he “was a Fifer in the second line of the Maryland Regiment in the revolutionary war in the service of the United States and that he hath been acquainted with Thomas Gadd of said County from a boy to the present time” and that he had complained about the wound for as many years as he can remember. It was further pointed out that Nabb was a soldier in Captain Perry Benson’s company within the Second Maryland Regiment, and that Gadd was “sometimes absent from the Army,” but he was still a “good and faithful soldier.” Adding to this, one judge noted that that wound Thomas received “brought his life into imminent danger” and that it prevents “him from exerting that manual labor so necessary for the support of himself and young family.” As a result of this, Thomas  was pensioned at the rate of $8 per month commencing April 14th, 1818, for service.

There is an open question whether Joseph Nabb was part of the Extra Regiment since he said he knew Thomas since childhood, but this is not currently known.

The story of John Newton

In 1780, John Newton enlisted in “Archibald Golder’s Company” after previous service. He had served with a Captain William Beatty (seemingly) in 1780, attached to Smallwood’s Regiment (1st Maryland), and then in another company. He notes, in his pension that once he reached North Carolina, he was attached to William Winchester’s Company, fighting in the South until the end of the war. He notes that he fought at the battle of Hobkirk’s Hill where he received three wounds in his right leg so he was taken to a hospital. He also says that he joined Thomas Price’s Company, and implies he was at the battle of Yorktown, recallin “Cornwallis…surrendered to Gen’l Washington after being besieged several weeks.” He adds that he served several months afterward, by which time he was discharged. Furthermore, further records attest he was on the payroll from Aug. 1780 to Nov. 1783.

There are some other facts which are partially puzzling. He says he was born in 1760, making him 20, which seems reasonable. But it is his enlistment date in June which is off. The Extra Regiment was not formed until later that year, so he couldn’t have enlisted in that regiment in June, unless he was transferred from somewhere else, which it seems had happened. He goes on to say he fought in numerous battles such as Guilford Courthouse, High Hills of Lantee, Camden, Cowpens, and the “siege of York” (Yorktown). From then, it is noted that he served in the 3rd Regiment of the Maryland Line, with dates unknown.

The post-war years, 1790-1800

Records after 1783 are hazy. In 1790, in the first federal census, a number of soldiers are listed. Two men named “William Simmons” lived in Anne Arundel County, while in 1800, one man named “William Simmons” lived in Anne Arundel County, and another man of the same name living in Delaware Lower Hundred of Baltimore in 1810. It is not known if any of these men are the same as William Simmons who submitted the federal veterans pension. The same is the case as John Newton. A person with his name was living in “Unknown Township, St Marys, Maryland” and two were living within Montgomery, Maryland. It is known if any of these men are the same as John Newton.

However, there are concrete records for Philip Huston and Thomas Gadd. Philip, called Phillip Huston in the census, was living in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania’s Hopewell Township with one son over age 16, and his wife, Mary, and no others. [3] The exact jurisdiction he lived in was called “Hopewell, Newton, Tyborn, and Westpensboro, Cumberland, Pennsylvania” on the census itself. By contrast, Thomas Gadd was living in Queen Anne’s County. He had a daughter and a wife but no enslaved Blacks. [4] Nothing else is known.

Courtesy of Google Maps. He lived somewhere in Cumberland county, perhaps in Hopewell Township, but perhaps not.

In 1800, few soldiers appear on the census. For instance, there is a John Newton living in “Anne Arundel, Maryland.” It is not known if this man is the same as John Newton. One “William Alkins” in 1800 Census is listed as living in Newtown, Washington, Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, it is not known if this is him. Giles Thomas was different than this. He was noted on the 1800 census as still living with his wife, along with a son under age 10, a son aged 10-15, a son aged 16-25, two daughters aged 10-15, and one daughter aged 16-25. [5] He also had five enslaved blacks living on his plantation.

Into the 1810s

Numerous soldiers were on the 1810 Census. Giles Thomas, was, at the time,s living in Christiansburg, Montgomery, Virginia, with six enslaved Blacks and eight free Whites. These Whites were one boy under age 10 (his son), three young men aged 10-15 (his sons), one young man aged 16-25 (his son), and one man over age 45, himself. There was also one young woman aged 16-25 (his daughter) and one woman over age 45 (his wife). [6] From this, one can see that Giles Thomas and his wife, whose name is not known, had six children. The maximum age of the children implies they were married in 1785 or sometime in the later 1780s, if they had children, as was the custom, after marriage.

Philip Huston was living in the same community! Within the household were two sons under age 10, Mr. Phillip Huston (aged 26-44), two daughters under age 10, and his wife, Mary (aged 26-44). [7] The fact they lived in the same community and were members of the same regiment suggests they could have been friends since they fought together on the battlefield.

Courtesy of Google Maps.

The same year, William Patton was living hundreds of miles away in Wythe County, Virginia. The census, which incorrectly spells his last name as “Pallon,” marks him as over age 45 in the census.It shows he is part of a 12-member household including his son under age 10, his son aged 10-15, his sons aged 16-25, two daughters under age 10, one daughter aged 10-15, three daughters aged 16-25, and his wife (aged 26-44). [8] No enslaved people are part of the household.

In December 1811, Thomas Gadd was given money by the Treasurer of the Eastern Shore, seeming to indicate he was still living in the state, specifically in Baltimore. The resolution in his favor is as follows:

Resolved, That the Treasurer of the Western Shore be, and he is hereby authorised and directed to pay to Thomas Gadd, or his order, late a private soldier in the revolutionary war, a sum of money in quarterly payments, equal to the half-pay of a private.

Years later, Philip, who later lived in Washington County, Pennsylvania, felt a “a tolerably stout man” and wanted to again serve his county. On June 22, 1812, he enlisted in the 22nd Regiment of U.S. infantry commanded by Col. Hugh Brady. He served until February 1, 1816 when he was discharged “at Sackets harbour in consequence of old age and rheumatish.” On his return home, with the icy weather, his “feet were frostbitten” as as a result, he lost his a large toe and smaller toe on his left foot, leaving him disabled for years to come.

The year of 1818

Map of Mount Pleasant, Jefferson County, Ohio. Courtesy of Google Maps.

Many of the soldiers whom we know of, were in “reduced circumstances.” John McCay was living in Baltimore County, 54 years old, showing he was born in 1764 and wad described as “very poor.” All the way across the county, in Mount Pleasant, within Ohio’s Jefferson County, William Elkins felt similar pressures. He described himself as 85 years of age, which means he would have been born in 1733 or 47 years old in 1780. More likely he is 63 or 65 years old. In 1818, a person named Marren DuVall, living within Warren Township in Jefferson County, Ohio, [9] said that in 1784 she

resided in Frederick county Maryland, – that the aforenamed William Elkins, in that year[1784] came to the house of my father, William Duvall, a captain of the [Frederick County] militia, who had served two tours of duty in the service of the United States, and that from the frequent conversations, between the said Elkins and my father and other revolutionary soldiers, I sincerely beleive that the said Elkins served more than one year in the United States service – I further testify that I have heard my father and many other Revolutionary soldiers, positively say, that they had known the said Elkins while in the service of his country

Furthermore, his pension noted that he was paid $78.40 for “pay from the First August 1780 to the 1st Jan’y 1782” and $80.00 of pay from Jan. 1, 1782 to Jan. 1, 1783, along with another $43.30 from Jan. 1, 1783 until Nov. 1, 1783 when his military service came to a close.

Furthermore, William Groves, living in Allegheny County that year, was 63 years old, meaning he was born in 1755. He said he was in “reduced circumstances” and that he was in “need of the assistance of his country for support.” The same was the case for Jesse Boswell. That year he as living in York, South Carolina and asked the “assistance of his country for support.” A few years later, he applied for a new pension certificate since the old one was destroyed when his home burned in November 1820.

Courtesy of Google Maps. York is in northern South Carolina, only 30-36 miles away from Charlotte, North Carolina depending on the route walked.

In 1818, Philip Huston was an “old man.” He described himself as “unable to work for my living and besides in extreme poverty so that I need the assistance of my country for support.” The same year, the land office of Maryland noted that he was a drummer in the Maryland Line and hence was entitled to “the Lands Westward of Fort Cumberland to Lot No. 402 Containing 50 acres.” He never claimed this land as records attest. There were similar circumstances for Thomas Gadd. He argued he was in “reduced circumstances” and needed the “assistance of his country for support” while living in Baltimore. While it is clear that Mr. Thomas Gadd lived in Anne Arundel County in 1810, and moved to Baltimore sometime before 1818, there are two Thomas Gadds within Queen Anne’s, Maryland and hence, it is hard to know which one is him.

The Marylanders: John McCay, William Simmons, William Groves, and John Newton in 1820

John McCay was in horrible circumstances. At age 56 in 1820, he was living in Baltimore without any family, was propertyless, and of ill health since he had to quit his occupation as a sailor, only obtaining “a bare subsistence by labouring about the country.” His pension further added that he was entered into a Maryland hospital and became “utterly incapable of labour” and needs to assistance of “his country or from private or public charity” due to his circumstances. Since his name is so common, it is not possible to use Federal census records in this instance. Despite that, there are people with his name consistently living in Baltimore from 1790 to 1820, and he is likely among them.

Fellow soldier William Simmons who had been at John McCay’s side, was living in Harford County in 1820. At 61 years of age, he only owned $47 dollars with of property. These included one Cow, one young Cow, four pigs, rush bottomed chairs, one pine table, two iron pots, and some trifle of “Crockery ware,” among little much more. He also purchased a horse for $20 and horse cart for $10 but neither is paid for and rented about 10 acres of land for $50 per year. His pension further explained that he was married to a thirty-year old woman named Elizabeth (born in 1790), and had three children with her: Joseph (born in 1810), James (born in 1813), and John (born in 1818). He argued that without the state pension he could not support himself since he was “greatly afflicted by Rheumatic pains.” Six years later, he had moved to Stark County, Ohio to “improve his situation.” Further records of Simmons are unclear.

Then there is William Groves. In 1820, he owned one old Spay Horse, one Cow, one Colt, and one Pot, even less than William Simmons or William Elkins. Living in Allegheny County at 50 years of age, he was a farmer but was “infirm and unable to do more than half work.” He lived with his 50-year-old wife, Mary, a son that was 14 years old, and another under age five. Following the census information, it is possible that William lived in Charles County after the war, as the 1790 and 1800 censuses indicate, specifically in Durham Parish, with his family. [10] Furthermore, records indicate he lived in District 4 of Allegheny, Maryland, specifically in Cumberland, Maryland. He was described as an 83-year-old veteran in 1840, meaning this says he was born in 1757, only two years off what he said in 1820, which shows that he was sharp even in his later life, which is impressive. [11] Other parts of his pension indicate that he lived in Allegheny County from 1812 to 1849, with his wife Mary was living there in 1853.

In 1820, the Maryland General Assembly passed a law to pay him for his military service in the Maryland Line. He was to be paid the half pay of a private in “quarterly payments” as the law indicated. [12] He also received land in Western Maryland for his military service. He specifically received lot 1744, which was, at most, 12.7 miles miles away from the Northern branch of the Potomac River, in the middle of Garrett County:

Using Google Maps, we can pinpoint the location of his land in present-day Garrett County. His land is, by straight shot, 35.5 miles from Cumberland.
This shows where his lot is in relation to the Potomac River. Black dot is where his lot was. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Zoomed in focus on his lot
This shows where he lot directly was located, what it looked like on a map.

Hence, he likely did not live on this land as looking at that approximate location shows no evidence of human habitation. There is only the vast expanse of forest and some new, modern houses.

In 1820, John Newton, age 60, was living in Prince George’s County.  He was a laborer who would be paid $40 per year for his pension. In his reduced circumstancs, . John Newton: writing he is “reduced circumstances” while writing in Prince George’s County in 1818. The census records are no help in this case, as he is not listed. [13] However, there is strong evidence he was living in Maryland that year. This is indicated by the pension list and legislation, although there are other records that must be weeded out. [14] He specifically received pay in 1818 from the state of Maryland for his revolutionary war service. The law which granted him this pay [15] was as follows:

Resolved, That the treasurer of the western shore be and he is hereby authorised, to pay to John Newton, an old soldier, or his order, during his life, a sum of money annually, in half yearly payments, equal to the half pay of a private, for his services during the revolution.

This petition was nothing new. He had petitioned the House of Delegates in 1805 and 1806 on the same issue. [16] In those, he stated he had been wounded in battle, serving from the year 1780 until the end of the war, saying that he was with his wounds,

together with the infirmities of approaching old age, he is rendered incapable of obtaining a maintenance for himself and family

Hence, he received payment at the time, but perhaps he felt it was necessary to apply again because it did not pass the Maryland Senate. It is also worth mentioning that he married Eleanor Callean in May 27, 1781 within Prince George’s County. [17]

The Ohioans: William Elkins  in 1820

Frederick County is at least 227 miles away from Jefferson County. Courtesy of Google Maps.

In 1820, William Elkins lived in Ohio’s Jefferson County but has previously lived in Frederick County, Maryland in 1780s. He was a pauper there supported by Mount Pleasant township within Ohio. Apart from his later descendants [18], he was living in Ohio, on the pension roll. [19] Hence, he was not the “first pioneer” who built a “log cabin and cleared land in what became Johnson Township” within present-day Indiana since he was living in Ohio.

Even though he was a 87-year-old pauper, William still had some possessions. He owned One Silver Watch (ten Dollars), One pot (one Dollar), One Skillet (one Dollar), One Axe (two Dollars), Two flour Barrels (25 cents), One chest (50 cents), One looking glass (two Dollars), One Shot Gun (three Dollars), which comes to a  total of $19.75. Using the historic standard of living value of his income, it would be worth $412 dollars (in 2016 US dollars) which would put him squarely within the ranks of the poor. That year, he told the federal government, in his pension application, that he was a farmer but that the township supported him for the past four years (1816-1820), only cooking food given to him, and was indebted to individuals for a sum of $20, more than his total property was worth.

The Virginians: Giles Thomas and William Patton in 1820

In 1820, the family of Giles Thomas was living in Newburn, Montgomery, Virginia. Within the household were five enslaved blacks, and four other household members: his unnamed son aged 16-25, Mr. Giles Thomas (over age 45), his unnamed daughter aged 16-25, and his unnamed wife (over age 45). [20] Also the enslaved blacks are divided as follows: two males under age 14, one male (aged 26-44), one female under age 14, and one female, aged 26-44, three of whom are “engaged in agriculture.”

The same year, William Patton was living in a county in a different part of the state: Wythe County. He was over age 45 and lived in a household with no enslaved laborers but had one son aged 10-15, one daughter under age 10, one daughter aged 10-15, two daughters aged 16-25, and his wife, over age 45. [21]  In this household, only two were engaged in agriculture. One family researcher argues that William Patton was in the 1782 tax list of the county in which he lived until his death in 1846. He further says hat he served 4 years in the Regular Army, that he had at least eight children (John, William, Henry, Isaac, Sally, Catherine, Polly, and Betsey), with a possible ninth named Peggy, all of which were born between 1785 and 1804 as existing records show. He also was reportedly part of the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, with a man named William Betten/Batton the same as William Patton. Yet no records show his wife’s name, although some assume it was Maria Catherine Shupe, but this could not be confirmed. This researcher also says that he gave all his land to his son, Isaac, in his will. To an extent, his observations are confirmed by the following, showing a James Patton and William Patton living in Wythe County:

Courtesy of New River Notes. This shows James Patton as owning five horses, and William as owning two horses.

There are also two possible daughters of him in 1818 and 1821:

Courtesy of New River Notes.

He could be the third section of this 1793 tax list, it is not online currently. There are those with the last name of Patton buried within the cemetery of the Zion Lutheran Church but he is not among them. He is also not mentioned within the Montgomery County, Virginia tax list, making it possible he was still living in Maryland. There are available deeds showing a “William Patton” living in Kentucky in the late 1790s but this is not him, and he is not related to this man profiled in the Washington Post. [22]

The Pennsylvanians: Philip Huston/Houston in 1820

In July 1820, Philip Huston, age 53 (an age which seems questionable), and resident of Buffalo Township, Pennsylvania, which is a town within Washington County, made another pension request. He had a wide array of property as his scheduled showed in 1820: 1 Cow, 1 chest, 1 table, 1 Cupboard, 4 chairs, 1 Spinning wheel & reel, 1 Pot, 1 Oven, 1 Tea Kettle, 1 looking glass, 1 Set cups and saucers, 1 Set plates, 1 Set knives & forks, 1 Tin bucket, One axe, 1 Old Tub & churn, 1 Bureau, 1 Taylors Iron & Shears, 1 Set knives & forks, 1 Tin Bucket. He also noted that he had “Revolutionary land warrant for 100 acres, now of little value” and that people owned him 16 dollars while he was “indebted to sundry persons ninety eight Dollars.”

Map of Buffalo township. Courtesy of Google Maps.

His family was wide-ranging. He was living with “unhealthy” wife named Mary, age 45 (born in 1775), a “healthy” daughter named Ann (born in 1804), an “unhealthy” son named John (born in 1806), a “healthy” daughter named Elizabeth (born in 1808), and a “healthy” son named William (born in 1810). He further added that he was, “a taylor” (tailor) by profession but could not follow it well because of “age and rheumatism” and recounter how h could not “walk without great pain” because he had lost two toes when he was discharged from Sacketts harbor. As a result, he, as he notes,

…lay consequence four months after my arrival at home under the Doctor’s hands, and became very much involid and would have suffered had it not been for the kindness of our neighbors who releived us in our distress.”

While some records are not clear, it is evident he was still living in 1820, as he was clearly on the pension list. [23] There are also related records. These records show numerous members of the Huston family living in Pennsylvania within the late 18th and early 19th centuries. [24] On November 8, 1829, Philip was gone. He had died, as recorded on the pension roll. [25]

Continuing the story of Jesse Boswell

Where we last left off, Jesse Boswell was living in York, South Carolina and asked the “assistance of his country for support.” In 1821, aged 66 years, Jesse was still a resident of York. In this reapplication of his pension, he noted that he has some positions of value: metal pot ($4.00), household furniture ($11.75), corn, cotton, and Fodder ($13.00), coming to a total of $28.75. All of this factored into his description to the federal government of his current lifestyle:

I am a farmer and not able to pursue it on account of old age and infirmities my family consists of myself my wife aged about 42 years & 3 children. 1 daughter aged about 10 years another about 7, & another about 5, & we are not able to support ourselves

Census information on Jesse is unclear. In the 1790 census there is a Robert Boswell in 1790 census in South Carolina, not sure what relation, if any. In the 1820 census there is a man named “Josse Boswell” (undoubtedly Jesse) living in a household with three members, including himself (White male over 45), a young White girl under age 10, and his wife, aged 26-44. [26] Some sites claim that he married two times, first to Elizabeth Carrington and later to Mary Kelough, the latter once he was living in South Carolina. He was said to have a son named John and daughter named Sarah. This information cannot be confirmed.

Through some digging, one can find numerous records of Jesse living in Charles County Maryland in the 1790s before he went to South Carolina. Specifically, he moved sometime before 1809and had three daughters, Nancy, Elizabeth, and Margaret. These records also show that he was the brother-in-law of Zachariah Low, a Charles County planter, and executor of his estate. [27]

On November 23, 1828, at age 73, Jesse died in South Carolina. This ended the ten years he had been on the federal pension roll. He had received $967.42 and no more, no less. By 1829, Polly Boswell would be administering his estate since he had died intrastate (without a will):

Courtesy of Family Search

There is only one page within this his probate and it is an administrative bond between Polly Boswell and Benjamin Chambers, showing her to be the administrator of the estate:

Courtesy of FamilySearch. If this seems to have issues with the image that is because this comes from numerous screenshots of the record which were put together in a photo editing program.

Many years later, in 1853, Mary Boswell applied for a pension for Jesse. She said that she married Jesse on Dec. 24, 1809, and that he died on Nov. 23. She also applied for bounty land with her maiden name was Kelough or Keler. By August 1865, the only children and heirs of hers, Nancy Garvin, Elizabeth Boswell, and Margaret Boswell, stated that she had died on November 12, 1863, and that they wished to collect a pension suspended during the civil war.

John Shanks, Kentucky man

In September 1836, John Shanks, a 67-year-old resident of Mead County, Kentucky, applied for his pension. He explained his military service and how he was originally “enrolled on the invalid pension list” but that he didn’t apply for this pension before because his children, who he was living with, had an “objection to his drawing from the Government any larger pension so long as he was able to live without it.” His property schedule was limited. He owned two horses ($40), three cows ($15), five young cattle ($20), seven sheep ($7), and household/kitchen furniture ($10). He also explains how in 1818 he leased a small piece of land and was dependent on labor of his children, with the property used to support his family. He further adds that he was “almost entirely dependent on his children for his support” and that his family consists of himself and his sixty-year-old wife, Ann, and that he is “unable to labour hard” with his support “derived principally from their children who have families.” Hence, he concludes the total worth of his property is $92. Using Measuring Worth, this be a relative value of $2,270 dollars (2016 US dollars).

Map of Meade County, KY. Courtesy of Google Maps.

The story is even more detailed than what has already been stated. He had moved to Kentucky by September 1826, because he was “dependent on his children for a support, and they removed to Kentucky & advised him to remove with them” and in 1827 he applied for “a new copy of his invalid pension certificate from Maryland in which he referred to “Dr. R. Pindell [Richard Pindell] in Lexington Kentucky, who was Sergeant of the Regiment at the time said Shanks received his wound at the Battle of the Eutaw Springs.” Census information is not altogether clear. There are two men named John Shanks in Kentucky as of 1810 census, and three in the 1820 census, and even the 1830 census has a man living in Brandenburg, Kentucky, a city within Meade/Mead County, but it is not him. He was also a witness to a will in 1805 and engaged in land transactions in Kentucky in the early 19th century. [28]

There was even a patent within Tellico Survey “to John Shanks for 300 acres on the West side of Fishing Creek, above Jarvis’s improvement, and was issued Nov. 9, 1803.” Existing land records also show a man named John Shanks granted 100 acres in Lincoln County, Kentucky in 1807, with the same for a piece of land within Pulaski County in 1801. It is not known if either of these men is John Shanks. In 1803 there was also a marriage between Henrietta Flower and John Shanks in August 1803 in Bourbon, Kentucky. It is not known if this was him. The same goes for a John Shanks living in Grayson County, Kentucky in 1810. Nothing else is known.

McCay in Ohio and Thomas in Virginia in 1830

In 1830, John McCay was living in Warwick, Tuscarawas, Ohio, a township within Stark County, confirming what he said in his pension. He owned no enslaved Blacks and there were four people in his household including two free White men, ages 20-29, one free White man, between ages 70-79 (him), and one White female ages 60-69 (his wife Elizabeth). [29] This was a change from 1820 when he was age 56 and living in Baltimore.

Map of Warwick Township. Courtesy of Google Maps.

The same year, the Thomas family was living in Christiansburg, Montgomery, Virginia. There were two “free white persons”: Giles Thomas (between ages 60-69] and his unnamed wife (between ages 60-69). The rest, six people, were enslaved laborers. [30] These laborers are divided as follows: 1 male aged 10-23, one male aged 24-35, two females under age 10, one female age 10-23, and one female aged 24-35. Nothing else is known.

Giles Thomas, a Virginian, and Thomas Gadd, Marylander

In August 1832, Giles Thomas appeared before justices of the court saying that he he was 68 years old, having no evidence of his service “except a certificate for a lot of bounty land of Fifty acres” and that his name “is not on the pension roll of the agency of any State.” He would be dead by 1850, as he is in censuses from 1810 to 1840. Living in Montgomery County, Virginia, he would die by 1842, with reports that he enlisted at the age of 16. Even a paperback book by W. Conway Price and Anne Price Yates titled Some Descendants of Giles Thomas, Revolutionary Soldier claims to go over his life story, and is available through the Virginia Tech University Libraries.

By 1840, Giles, age 76, was still living in Montgomery County as a census of pensioners made clear. Originally from Charles County, Maryland, he had at least one child with his wife Nancy:  a daughter named Elenor/Eleanor who had married into the Barnett family, living from about 1791 to 1853. Some within the DAR (Daughters of American Revolution) have clearly done research on him since he is represented by one member in a New York chapter. Then we get to his Find A Grave entry which says his spouse was Nancy Ann Wheeler (1762-1845) and that they had two children named William Jenkins (1796-1863), and Elias (1801-1877) and describes him as a person born on November 30, 1763 in Baltimore County, Maryland and married Nancy on June 04, 1786 in Blacksburg, Montgomery County, Virginia. On March 21, 1842, he died, with his gravestone describing him s a private within the Maryland line:

Courtesy of Find A Grave

Then we get to Thomas Gadd, who was born January 1760 in Baltimore and reportedly died in Rockcastle, Kentucky. Some say he died in 1832 (probably based on pages out of this book), but this is incorrect. His entry on Find A Grave says he died in 1834 and was put in an unmarked grave. In 1833, he was put on Kentucky Pension Rolls, and was age 74, living in Rockcastle County. [31] Other genealogical researchers seem to indicate that he had at least five children, including William. This cannot be further confirmed. [32]

However, a number of realities are clear. He seems to have been living in the county as early as 1810. Additionally,he was was alive as late as May 23, 1833 when he made the following deposition in Jesse Williams’s pension:

I Thomas Gadd state, that I was in the Revolutionary War, and served in the same Batalion mentioned by the above applicant [Jesse Williams] in his original declartion but under diferent Captains. but I was well acquainted with the officers named by said applicant. I was not personally acquainted with the applicant in the service, but from a long acquaintance with him since and from conversations with him years ago and having served the same kind of service myself I have no doubt but he has stated the truth in his declaration & that he served as he states. Given under my hand this 23d day of May 1833

Hence, he could have died in 1834 after all.

The 1830s and 1840s: William Elkins, Giles Thomas, and William Patton

In 1835, William Elkins was on the pension roll and was living in Jefferson County, Ohio. [33] Sometime later on, he was buried somewhere in Jefferson County, although the location is not altogether clear.

Five years later, Giles Thomas is still alive and breathing in Montgomery, Virginia. A census that year describes Giles as a revolutionary pensioner who is 76 years old, basically saying he was born in 1764, putting his age 16 when joining the extra regiment. [34]

Jump forward another five years. William Patton appeared before magistrates in Wythe County, Virginia, aged 90 years, 8 months, and six days, putting his birthday sometime in September 28, 1754 by my calculations. The following year he says he was age 91, meaning he was born in 1755, differing from what he said the previous year. Hence, his age is not fully clear.

Map of Wythe County Virginia. Courtesy of Google Maps.

The year of 1853: William Groves’s wife, Mary, and Allegheny County

On May 25, 1853, Mary groves appeared before a judge of the orphans court of Allegheny County, living in the Westernport District, and said to be 77 years old, which is slightly different. She described Groves’s military service, said that she married by Reverend Mayers in Prince William County, Virginia on November 20, 1796, with John Huff, Enoch Huff, Hannah Huff and & Rebecca McCune  present at the marriage. It is possible that these Huffs are related to those with the same last name in the Extra Regiment. She also said that she had four children with William: John (Dec. 1797-Sep. 1815), Rebecca (July 1800-June 1808), Jesse (b. June 17, 1803), and Dennis (b. Dec. 14, 1805). She also noted that William Groves died on Jan. 4, 1849, with the marriage taking place previous to Jan. 2, 180, and that she was a widow by 1783.

Other documents clarified the marriage date. On February 4, 1792, William Groves and John Hoff made a bond showing the marriage of William to Mary Spencer. In 1854 she said that her pension application she had misstated the time of the marriage since she knew that they were “married about two years or their about, before they “them ‘Whiskey Boys’ marched,” and from that she said that they were married in 1796 but she found out later that they marched in 1794. Hence, saying they married in 1792 is correct. She further explains that William wanted to go and fight against the rebels but she did not consent for that, and he did not go, with them not having any “child or children untill about four or five years after they was married.” Further records say that William and Mary brought with them Mary’s mother, Elizabeth Spencer who lived with them sometime before going back to a part of Virginia. The pension also says that William and Mary were married by Rev. William? Mayers, a Baptist preacher, after which the wedding party returned to his mother Elizabeth’s house “and took Dinner as Customary at that time.” Furthermore, the pension certificate notes that Mary died on September 5, 1856.

There is a Maryland law in 1853 which mentions the estate of “the late Thomas J. Gadd” in Caroline County. It is not known if this is related to Thomas Gadd previously mentioned or not.

Concluding words

There are numerous other sources I could have consulted for this article. However, I did look at genealogical and first-person sources on the topic. There is no doubt that this article, while it is put into sort-of vignettes on each person or groups of people, tells a coherent story of these 11 soldiers after the war. As always, comments are welcome.

Notes

[1] Pension of John Newton, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, S.35009. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[2] He claims John enlisted in the Eighth Maryland Regiment, but this is completely erroneous information.

[3] First Census of the United States, 1790, Hopewell, Newton, Tyborn, and Westpensboro, Cumberland, Pennsylvania, National Archives, NARA M637, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 8, Page 557. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[4] First Census of the United States, 1790, Queen Anne’s, Maryland, National Archives, NARA M637, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 3, Page 470. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[5] Second Census of the United States, 1800, Queen Anne’s, Maryland, National Archives, NARA M32, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 11, Page 342. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[6] Third Census of the United States, 1810, Christiansburg, Montgomery, Virginia, National Archives, NARA M252, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 70, Page 646. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[7] Third Census of the United States, 1810, Christiansburg, Montgomery, Virginia, National Archives, NARA M252, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 57, Page 59. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[8] Third Census of the United States, 1810, Wythe, Virginia, National Archives, NARA M252, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 71, Page 288. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[9] Also cited on page 476 of Henry Wright Newman’s Mareen Duvall of Middle Plantation: a genealogical history of Mareen Duvall, Gent., of the Province of Maryland and his descendants, with histories of the allied families of Tyler, Clarke, Poole, Hall, and Merriken and in page 60 of Adamson-Duvall and Related Families by Rae Adamson Fraelich.

[10] First Census of the United States, 1790, Charles, Maryland, National Archives, NARA M637, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 3, Page 563. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest; Second Census of the United States, 1800, Durham Parish, Charles, Maryland, National Archives, NARA M32, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 10, Page 65. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[11] Fourth Census of the United States, 1820, District 4, Allegany, Maryland, National Archives, NARA M33, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll M33_40, Page 12. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest; Fifth Census of the United States, 1830, Allegany, Maryland, National Archives, NARA M19, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 53, Page 30. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest; Sixth Census of the United States, 1840, District 4, Allegany, Maryland, National Archives, NARA M704, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 156, Page 59. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest. Likely no mentions in 1915 book titled A History and Genealogy of the Groves Family in America Descendants of Nicholas La Groves of Beverly, Mass.

[12] Session Laws, 1819, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 638, 118, 119.

[13] No John Newtons listed as living in Maryland in 1810 census. In 1820 there are two John Newtons living in the state: one in “Election District 4, Dorchester, Maryland” and another in “Baltimore Ward 3, Baltimore, Maryland.” It is not known if either of these men is the same as John Newton. In 1830 there is a man with the same name living in “District 8, Dorchester, Maryland.” It it not known if this is the same as John Newton. In 1840 there are two John Newtons living in the state: one in “Division 8, Dorchester, Maryland” and another in “Hancock, Washington, Maryland”

[14] Letter from the Secretary of War: Transmitting a Report of the Names, Rank, and Line, of Every Person Placed on the Pension List, in Pursuance to the Act of the 18th March, 1818, &c. January 20, 1820. Read and Ordered to Lie on the Table (Washington: Giles & Seaton, 1820), 548. Neither the Wikipedia page for “John Newton Soldier), this pension, this listing of those living in Talbot County’s Tuckahoe Hundred in 1721, within Norma Tucker’s Colonial Virginians and Their Maryland Relatives or this or this relates to him.

[15] Gaius Marcus Brumbaugh, Maryland Records: Colonial, Revolutionary, County and Church from Original Sources, Set, Vol. 1 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993), 378.

[16] Journal of the House of Delegates, 1805, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 553, 4, 6, 38, 48, 49; Journal of the House of Delegates, 1806, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 553, 21, 29.

[17] Helen W. Brown, Index of Marriage Licenses, Prince George’s County, Maryland 1777-1886 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1973, reprint), 40.

[18] His descendants may have included William Elkins born on April 26, 1823 and died in 1897, who may have served in the war between 1812 and 1815 with the British. Other references are scattered.

[19] Letter from the Secretary of War: Transmitting a Report of the Names, Rank, and Line, of Every Person Placed on the Pension List, in Pursuance to the Act of the 18th March, 1818, &c. January 20, 1820. Read and Ordered to Lie on the Table (Washington: Giles & Seaton, 1820), 636.

[20] Fourth Census of the United States, 1820, Newburn, Montgomery, Virginia, National Archives, NARA M33, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll M33_130, Page 185. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[21] Fourth Census of the United States, 1820, Evensham, Wythe, Virginia, National Archives, NARA M33, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll M33_139, Page 221. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[22] May be in here, not confirmed, but is definitely not here.

[23] Daughters of the American Revolution, Report of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Vol. 17 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1915), 155, 412; Letter from the Secretary of War, Transmitting the Names, Rank, and Line of everyone played on the Pension List, In Pursuance of the Act of 18th March, 1818 (Washington: Giles & Seaton, 1820), 512. A person with his name was paid amounts varying from about $48.00 to over $84 dollars. Men with his name were listed as part of Fourth Maryland Regiment, of a Maryland regiment paid until Jan. 1782 [the extra regiment], and officers who are part of the New Hampshire Line. The first two could be him. A Philip Huston received money from PA’s auditor general. Is that him? Hustons living there, related.

[24] William Huston buying land in PA, Huston’s Pleasure in 1786. Related? A Joseph Huston same year, James Huston next year & 1788; major Huston family buying in 1788, some in 1789, 1791, 1792, 1793 as noted here. Land transactions of Hustons in 1794, 1795, 1798 courtesy of here. There were also Huston family purchases in 1802, 1804, 1805, and 1806 as noted here. Nothing relating to that family was found here. For further resources see “Vital Statistics Records” of Pennsylvania, indexes of patents in the early 19th century, overview of their land records, and homepage of the historical commission itself.

[25] “Pennsylvania Pension Roll,” Report from the Secretary of War (Washington: Giles & Seaton, 1835), 77.

[26] Third Census of the United States, 1810, York, South Carolina, National Archives, NARA M252, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 61, Page 677. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[27] This record also cites Charles County Land Records 1775-1782; Liber V#3; Page 426_ Bill of Sale. We, Ann Lowe and Jesse Boswell of CC, for 3000 £, sell to Walter Hanson Jenifer, the following Negroes: a woman named Monica and her children, Bett & Sam. Signed Dec 7, 1779 – Ann Low, Jesse Boswell. Wit – John Chattam. Recorded Dec 11, 1779.

[28] Harry Kennett McAdams, Kentucky Pioneer and Court Records: Abstracts of Early Wills, Deeds and Marriages from Court Houses and Records of Old Bibles, Churches, Grave Yards, and Cemeteries Copied by American War Mothers (US: Heritage Books, 2007), 51.

[29] Fifth Census of the United States, 1830, Warwick, Tuscarawas, Ohio, National Archives, NARA M19, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 141, Page 33. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[30] Fifth Census of the United States, 1830, Christiansburg, Montgomery, Virginia, National Archives, NARA M19, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 198, Page 98. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[31] Kentucky Pension Roll for 1835: Report from the Secretary of War (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2009), 1833; Mary Verhoeff, The Kentucky mountains, transportation and commerce, 1750 to 1911: a study in the economic history of a coal field, Vol. 1 (Louisville, KY: John P. Morton & Company, 1911), 216; The Pension Roll of 1835: The Indexed Edition, Set, Vol. III, The Southern States (Baltimore: Clearfield Company, 1992), 43. A person with his name is also on 1835 pension rolls which note that his pension started on May 4, 1818, was age 72 in 1835, and his death date is not specified (Report from the Secretary of War in relation to the Pension Establishment of the United States (Washington: Duff Green, 1835), 1829). But this is not him.

[32] Reportedly there is information with Gadd Genealogy by Joseph Hayden Gadd in 1939 as well.

[33] United States War Department, The Pension Roll of 1835: The Indexed Edition, Set Vol. 1: The New England States (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992), 149.

[34] Sixth Census of the United States, 1840, Montgomery, Virginia, National Archives, NARA M704, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 567, Page 30. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

Benjamin Murdoch’s life after the war

1865 map of Frederick County by Simon J. Martenet. Courtesy of the Maryland State Archives‘ now-defunct Legacy of Slavery project.

Benjamin Murdoch/Murdock, born (and lived most of his life) in Frederick County, was a young man, twenty-one years old in 1780. In previous posts we have noted how Benjamin Murdoch was described by Mountjoy Bayly as an officer in the Maryland Line, the same year that Bayly’s first wife, Elizabeth, would die from a form of cancer. Beyond that, we have written about how he commanded the First Company of the Extra Regiment, with Theodore Middleton within the same unit, was promoted in September 1780, and is one of the 19 people in the unit with a pension. There is much more than these titillating tidbits suggest.

The final years of the war

Throughout the war, Benjamin held many military positions and was recruited from Frederick County. He was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the 7th Maryland Regiment, commanded by Col. John Gunby, in April 1777 and continued in this position until May 1779. He returned home after “some difference arose respecting my Rank” which was settled and he returned home. In 1780, after the state created the Extra Regiment, he was appointed as a captain, “one of the oldest…in said Regiment,” which implies that the other captains were younger than 21 years, hence they were born after 1759. Other than describing officers such as Alexander Lawson Smith and Edward Giles, he goes on to describe the movement of the regiment to Philadelphia to report to Washington, then once equipped, they marched south to join Nathanial Greene. He adds, still within his federal veterans pension application, that he “left the service in the Spring of 1781 in consequence of the Maryland Line consisting of Eight Regiments being consolidated into Four” and that the officers of the Extra Regiment “were all sent home as supernumaries.” He also notes that he was at the Battles of Brandywine, Germantown where he was “wounded,” and the battle of Monmouth. Within the same document, Mountjoy Bayly certifies that Murdoch was a captain as noted previously on this blog.

Existing records confirm his account of service. Apart from the question of whether it was him who marched out to Washington County “with all deliberate speed” there is no doubt that he served as a Lieutenant in the Maryland Line and later as a captain. [1] Dr. David B. Boles, the founder of Bolesbooks, who has been publishing family ancestries since the 1980s also mentions Benjamin, writing:

“…A Capt. Benjamin Murdock was also mentioned. Of these the only one who completely checks out was Benjamin Murdock, who was a Lt. of the first Maryland Regiment of Continental troops in Mar 1779, and a Capt. in July 1780. Isaac said that in early 1779, Continental officer Capt. Benjamin Murdock performed enlistment duty in Fredericktown”

After the end of his war service, on December 22, 1781, he married a woman named Mary Ann Magruder in Seneca, Montgomery County, MD. [2] He would eventually have three children with her, named Richard, Eliza, and Anitta. The Magruder family, which were Royalists from Scotland back in the 1650s, had settled in Prince George’s County, amassing thousands of acres of land, and became prominent across Southern Maryland.

Little else is known about Benjamin’s life in the 1780s. However, it is clear that in 1787, Benjamin sold over 200 acres which had been given to him by his father, Reverend George, when he was only thirteen, in 1772. The above link claims he patented a tract called The Garden two years before. Searching available resources, it shows this is correct. He did patent it, but no more information is known currently as the record has not been scanned in:

Courtesy of plats.net. This was the same source the above link cited.

Looking through the same site, I found a number of tracts named Discovery. They range from 89 to over 173 acres. [3] It is not known which of these Benjamin owned later on in his life. Regardless, he later settled some of his deeds in Montgomery County in the Orphans Court with his relatives there reportedly. There is no doubt, however, that in 1778, a William Murdoch bought a part of a tract named Discovery from Moses Orme. [4] This would be the land Benjamin would own in later years.  It is known also how Henry Baggerty and Charles Philips paid Benjamin, described as a planter, for Beall and Edmondson’s Discovery. [5] This could be found that this tract was 894 acres but no other information has been found:

Courtesy of Plats.net

Into the 1790s

Like the 1780s, little information is known about Benjamin and his family during this time period. While he is not mentioned in the 1790 federal census, a man named George Murdock Esquire was living in Frederick, Maryland with 19 enslaved Blacks, two men with the last name Murdock living in Montgomery, Maryland, and another man, named William Murdock living in Frederick, Maryland. [6] It is not known if any of these men are related to Benjamin. The following year a man named named John Murdock had a plat to a land tract called Friendship. This is the same man, who in 1783, owned over 2,000 acres of land in Montgomery County alone.

This was the time period, as briefly mentioned in his federal veterans pension application, he had a “few years residence in Montgomery County.” In June 1794, he was undoubtedly living in the county. The Maryland Gazette proves this by showing that he was made a major in the Montgomery County grouping of the Maryland militia, along with five other individuals:

From Maryland Gazette. Used photo editing software to add category titles from top of newspaper page to just include this county.

This was a far cry from his ancestors who were the first settlers of Western Maryland in 1730 and his father (possibly) who was committed and loyal to the British Crown. [7] Instead, Benjamin was loyal to the United States and the county he lived in, which at that time was Montgomery.

Moving onto the 19th century

For many years, the life of Benjamin is hazy. In 1800, a man named “George Mindock” (supposed to be Murdock) is listed as living in Frederick, Frederick, Maryland with nine enslaved people and another named William Murdock living in Emmitsburg, Frederick, Maryland with one enslaved person. It is not known whether these men are related to Benjamin.

However, there is concrete evidence he was living in the county. When George Fraser Magruder died on January 27, 1801, Benjamin, his son-in-law, became the executor of his estate. [8] Five years later, his sister, Eleanor died in the District of Columbia sometime before June 25, 1805. Within her will, she called Benjamin a “kind brother and friend”:

Source: “Wills.” The Washington Post (1923-1954): 1. Sep 01 1935. ProQuest. Web. 31 May 2017 .

There are other records that attest to his residency. In July 1800, Benjamin, Thomas Taylor of Pennsylvania, and Benjamin Huff Canby of Virginia, the latter two executors of the will of another individual, made an agreement. [9] Not only does this note that Benjamin was living in Frederick County, but that he paid Taylor and Canby six hundred pounds for a 200 acre land tract known as “Joseph’s Advance.” Two years later, in August 1803, Benjamin bought another tract of land. He paid a man named Abraham Plummer two thousand dollars for a tract of land known as Hickory Plains which was 454 acres. [10]

Sadly on Plats no image of the certificate or other information is available, but it is evident that the Hickory Plains tract was patented in 1752 by a man by the name of Samuel Plummer. The same is the case for the Joseph’s Advance tract. That piece of land was patented the same year by a man named Joseph Waters. Nothing else is known.

Coming into the 1810s

Benjamin petitions the House of Delegates about his military service. This is discussed later in this section.

In 1810, a man named C[harles?] Murdock was living in Frederick, Maryland with seven enslaved people. A W[illiam?] Murdock in living the same location with two enslaved people. It is not known if either of these men is related to Benjamin. There are also two tracts called Murdoch’s Mount Resurvey but it is not known if this is his tract or not. There, is, however, strong evidence, once again, that he was living in Frederick county.

In June 1811, Benjamin was paid $3,120 by Allen and Sarah Farguhar (if I have that spelling right) for the resurveyed Hickory Plains tract which is still 454 acres. As readers may recall, he paid Abraham Plummer $2,000 for this tract back in 1803, eight years earlier. [11] While the relative value of the $2,000 he had paid had decreased to $1,490 due to inflation and other factors by 1811, he still had gained a $1,120 above from the original amount, and $1,630 above the amount adjusted to values that year. Hence, he garnered an almost 200% profit from this transactions, using the adjusted figure, so he was more than willing to sell the land to the Farguhars.

Three years later, in 1814, he was appointed as commissioner, along with Edward Owings, Jesse Wright, Samuel Hobbs, and Ed Brashears, to “assess the damages” to Nicholas Hall’s land, which sat in Frederick County. The act specified the following aspects of this situation:

…[the] appointed commissioners…are hereby authorised and empowered to view and assess the damages if any, which in their judgment the said Nicholas Hull shall have sustained by the locating and making of a road through his lands…a road from near the old glass Works called New Bremen in Frederick county, to intersect the Baltimore and Frederick-Town turnpike road, at the town of New-Market in the said county, and…the said commissioners or a majority of them shall make out…a fair valuation of the damages

Nicholas was a man who was allowed by the Maryland General Assembly to raise money for a lottery for $2,000 dollars and noted that he owned land in New Market, Frederick County. Hence, it is possible that Benjamin knew this individual. It is also clear that this was not payment for “devaluation” of his land due to the British campaign in the military operations from 1812 to 1814 in the Chesapeake Bay but was rather a consequence of the changing nature of US society from an agrarian one to a more urban one, with “internal improvements.” Benjamin’s role as a commissioner could also imply that he was a Federalist since such individuals pushed forward this idea, and was later picked up by Henry Clay of the Whig Party.

A couple of years later, the Murdoch family gained additional land. More land was patented under the name of “Murdoch’s Fancy” which was not unusual as land had been patented under the names of “Murdoch’s Mountain Resurvey” and “Murdock’s Inheritance” years later. There is no record that Benjamin was involved in any of these land agreements, although it is possible he was somehow tied in.

In 1817, Benjamin petitioned the Maryland General Assembly to be paid for his war service, and the legislature agreed with him. Hence, he was to be paid the half-pay of a lieutenant until his death:

“That the treasurer of the western shore be and he is hereby authorised and directed, to pay, annually, in quarterly payments, to Benjamin Murdock, a lieutenant in the Maryland line during the revolutionary war, the half pay of a lieutenant during life.”

Almost a year later, Benjamin petitioned the Maryland House of Delegates over the same issue. His petition was reported favorably by Mr. Hawkins in the Maryland House of Delegates as the Maryland Gazette noted later that month.

And his petition related to his military payments as the journal of the House of Delegates makes abundantly clear:

It should be no surprise that it turns out that Mr. Hawkins, or Thomas Hawkins, was one of the four delegates representing Frederick County that year in the House of Delegates. The other delegates were Joshua Cockey, Thomas C. Worthington, and John H.M. Smith.

The blur of the 1820s

In 1820 there is a person Elemer Murdock living in Frederick, Frederick, Maryland, with eight enslaved people. It is not known if he is related to Benjamin. Some say he was in the 1820 Census for Frederick County. A search of the Census for District 2 within the county does not pull up any results other than the person mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph. It is possible he is within a different district of the county or that this person is mistaken in their records. The reality is not clear. Even looking it up on Family Search only brings up one result, the 1830 census.

Other records of Benjamin this decade are scattered. In the 1820s, he is described as part of Zion Parish in Frederick County, reportedly. [12] And in 1824, he is mentioned in the will of William Murdoch. This may was Benjamin’s brother, as he laid out very clearly:

I desire to be buried in such Protestant burying ground as may be most convenient to the place of my decease and that my funeral may be conducted with the smallest intention”. I give and bequeath to: my brother, Benjamin MURDOCH of Frederick County, State of Maryland. my niece Eleanor POTTS, widow of Richard Potts late of Frederick Town in the State of Maryland and daughter of my late brother George MURDOCH, deceased. my niece Ann POTTS (wife of Richard Potts [Junior] of Frederick Town and sister of the said Eleanor Potts)”

Nothing else is known about this will or Benjamin, although this could be found by looking at the records of the Maryland State Archives.

In November 1825, Benjamin paid $5,475 dollars to Levi Phillips for land called Hope or Resurvey of Hope. [13] Eleanor, Levi’s wife, agrees with the transaction. The land tract has an interesting story. It originally was within Prince George’s County but with changing borderlines, it became part of Frederick County, with a 1797 agreement between varying individuals confirming the ownership by the Darnell family. [14] Within the said agreement, which spelled out the specific contours of the land, was a map of the land, which had been divided between numerous men of the Darnell family:

This map was reconstructed using images of the property on pages 43, 43a, and 43b. It is not perfect, but it does show the contour of the property. Map made using photo editing software to bring the pieces together into a coherent image.A gray background was added, as one can tell, to match with the map itself.

That same month, Benjamin paid Charles Fenton Mercer, of London County, Virginia, $4,410 dollars for his estate and tract within “The Hope.” [15] This could indicate that he started building a plantation there. Such purchases in the same month may indicate a certain level of wealth for Benjamin, since he made another purchase of land within the tract later that month from Robert Darnell, of the Darnell family mentioned earlier. [16]

The last four years

In 1830, Benjamin finally appeared in the Federal Census. He was living in Frederick County’s District 1 and was running a plantation with 27 enslaved Blacks and six “free white” individuals. [17] For the latter, one White male was aged 20-29 [Richard?], one White male was aged 40-49 [his son?], one was between ages 70 and 79 (himself). The other three were his daughter Anitta (under age 5), his wife Mary (between ages 20 and 29), and his daughter Eliza between ages 20 and 29. As for the enslaved blacks, the following chart suffices:

Made with Chartgo.

This means that the number of enslaved men and women were almost equally divided, with a simple majority for the women. The fact that only two were above age 36 shows that these enslaved individuals could have been from recent transactions, or show that he had a “changing” work force.

Two years later, he would apply for a pension from the federal government. [18] Within it he would say he was a resident of the county, born in the county in 1759, and was about 73 years old. On August 14, his pension money would begin flowing, with $1,200 received, with $400 each given annually, as noted in the Maryland Pension Roll of 1835. He would be described as a former “Lieutenant – Captain” who had served in the Maryland militia and said to be age 75.

From 1832 to 1833 he would engage in varied land agreements with individuals across Frederick County. On May 15, 1832, Benjamin made an agreement with Charles Johnson (executor), John H (or is it F?). Simmons, John Montgomery, Sebastian Sraff, Congo Doddoner, Elisha Beall, Plummer Simmes, and another Charles Johnson, a vestryman of a Protestant Episcopal Church. [19] In this agreement, lots 10 and 14 were granted by Charles Johnson (executor), in carrying out the will of William Johnson (presumably his father), to Benjamin, and all the others. Seemingly this was done to help with the Zion Parish, of which Benjamin and all others except the executor, were part of at the time. This means that Benjamin was an Episcopalian in faith. It also confirms the early listing of him in the 1820s as part of this parish. He likely was a worshipper at this church which has since been reconstructed since the original was burned down:

Courtesy of the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation. Used in accordance with fair use guidelines under existing copyright law.

Later that year, Benjamin was part of an agreement with the same individuals of the Zion Parish, agreeing to buy more lots for use of the church. [20] This would help with his standing in the county.  The following year, on April 20, he would again help expand the church’s land. [21] These transactions show how dedicated he was to the church and his faith.

The following year, he died reportedly (also see here) in Urbana, Maryland, a census designated place, probably a small to medium-sized town at the time. It is not known if he was alive in May 1834 when someone cited him as a character reference to support their claim for a federal pension

In his will, Benjamin granted his daughter Harretta 300 acres of  “the Resurvey on the Hope” which he had finished buying in nine years earlier, who had married a man named John F. Simmons, possibly the same man who mad made the agreement about the Zion Parish years before. This area would become the John F. Simmons farmstead or “High Hope” with a house in Greek Revival style built around 1835, with the house still standing:

The years after his death

In 1840, a man named Richard Murdoch, called “Richd Mardock” in the census, had eight enslaved individuals, and was living with nine White people in Buckeye, Frederick, Maryland. [22] This was Benjamin’s son.

Ten years later, in 1850, Richard, a farmer was living in Buckeystown, Frederick, Maryland. [23] He was age 58 (meaning he was born in 1792), with 11 other Whites, including his sister, Eliza, with Anitta not in the same household:

 

Anitta was likely living in Frederick, Frederick, Maryland with a man named John A Simmons, listed in the 1840 Federal Census. That same year, multiracial and Black individuals named “Harriet Murdock,” “Matilda Murdock,” and Rachael Murdock” were living in Frederick County. It is possible these individuals were former enslaved people owned by Benjamin.

Two years later, Richard B. Murdoch assigned power of attorney named William Peugh to obtain an increase in the pension or of bounty land for the service of his father. He claimed that he was the only son and that he had two surviving sisters: Eliza Murdoch and Anitta Simmons. Looking at the actual pension implies that Benjamin and Mary Ann, his wife, had more than three children:

Fast forward to 1887. That year, Eliza Murdoch, who was noted as born Jan. 1, 1800, and the youngest child of Benjamin and Mary Ann, implying that others were born before 1800, died. She died “near Sykesville” in northern Baltimore County, at the residence of her niece:

Source for image: “Obituary,” The Sun (1837-1991): 4. May 27 1887. ProQuest. Web. 31 May 2017. Obit also in this Westminster, MD paper, The Democratic advocate the same year.

Despite the fact it says that Benjamin served on the staff of Horatio Gates, no evidence suggests this to the knowledge of this researcher, even though he could have been a major. It is interesting to note that she was native to Frederick County and related to William Murdoch, a London merchant, suggesting some familial connection between Benjamin and this individual. I think they may confusing this person with the other Benjamin Murdock in Vermont, a private in a Massachusetts Regiment, this individual seemingly who died in Oct. 1833:

 

In 1908, a descendant of the same name as Benjamin died, showing that the family lineage still lived on:

Concluding words

While there are many gaps in the story of Benjamin, many can be filled by looking at land records. There many questions about how a person named Mary Magruder Tarr Willard, Marie Benjamin Murdock Brown, and Richard Bruce Murdock are related to Benjamin. Regardless, there are still questions to be answered about his life, but this is a good start to the topic and hopefully opens doors for many in terms of different areas of Maryland history. [24]

Notes

[1] Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1779-1780, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 43, 234; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1781-1784, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 48, 144, 385, 387, 388, 494; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, April 1, 1778 through October 26, 1779, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 21, 321; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 16, 308.

[2] Genealogies of Virginia Families: From Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, Vol. 1 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007 reprint), 596, 599; Roberta Julia (Magruder) Bukey, “The Magruder Family In Its Religious Affiliations” within Yearbook of the American Clan Society (ed. Egbert Watson Magruder, Richmond, VA: Appeals Press, Inc., 1916), 50-51; George Brick Smith, “Some Descendants of George Fraser Magruder” within Year Book of the American Clan Society (ed. John Bowie Ferneyhough, Richmond, VA, 1937), 60, 65. Mary may have been another daughter.

[3] One 89-acre tract patented by Thomas Beall in 1796 (Patent Record IC G, p. 707; Patent Record IC O, p. 85), a 119 acre tract patented by John Bradford in 1724 (Patent Record PL 5, p. 632; Patent Record IL A, p. 324), a 100 acre tract patented by James Halmeard, Jr. in 1748 (Patent Record PT 2, p. 293; Patent Record LG E, p. 564), a 100 acre tract patented by John Eason in 1752 (Patent Record Y and S 6, p. 244; Patent Record GS 1, p. 99), a 173 1/4 acre tract patented by Elizabeth Lashley in 1836 and similar by Arnold Lashley (Patent Record GGB 1, p. 616; Patent Record GGB 2, p. 630). There’s also a tract called “A Discovery” (36 1/4 acres which was patented by David Mitchell in 1784 (Patent Record IC A, p. 364; Patent Record IC B, p. 303) and this of which I’m not sure of the relevance to the land. There’s also a tract called Addition to Discovery but clearly Murdoch is not related to it.

[4] Deed between William Murdoch and Moses Orme, Montgomery County Court, Land Records,July 13, 1778, Liber A, p. 195, 196 [MSA CE 148-1]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net. Not sure how pages of Liber D, 166 and 167 [MSA CE 148-4] relate to this topic as one source suggests.

[5] Deed between Benjamin Murdoch, Henry Baggerty and Charles Philips, Oct. 19, 1786, Montgomery County Court, Land Records, Liber C, p. 407, 408, 409 [MSA CE 148-3]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[6] This has been double checked, but NO person with the name of Benjamin Murdoch/Murdock, of any kind, is listed on the page with William Murdock and the same is the case for George Murdock, Esq. A look through the 61 pages of the census still turned up no results, even with the listing of two Magruders on one page (Samuel and William). The same was done for the 1800

[7] Folger McKinsey, History of Frederick County, Maryland: From the Earliest Settlements to the Beginning of the War Between the States, Vol.  2 (L.R. Titsworth & Co., 1910), 1278; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1758-1761, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 56, 74; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1757-1758, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 55, 219; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1764-1765, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 59, 180.

[8] Thomas Settles, John Bankhead Magruder: A Military Reappraisal (Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 2009), 450; George Brick Smith, “Some Descendants of George Fraser Magruder,” 65.

[9] Agreement between Benjamin Murdoch, Thomas Taylor of Pennsylvania, and Benjamin Huff Canby, July 4, 1800, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber WR 20, p. 52, 53, 54 [MSA CE 108-40]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[10] Benjamin Murdoch purchases land from Abraham Plummer, Aug. 31, 1803, , Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber WR 24, p. 702, 703, 704 [MSA CE 108-44]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[11] Deed between Benjamin Murdock, Allen and Sarah Farguhar, June 11, 1811, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber WR 40, p. 77, 78, 79 [MSA CE 108-60]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[12] Journal of A Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Held in St. Paul’s Baltimore (Baltimore: J. Robinson, 1821), 103, 112, 114.

[13] Benjamin Murdoch purchases land from Levi Phillips, Nov. 2, 1825, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber JS 23, p. 401, 402, 403, 404 [MSA CE 108-91]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[14] Agreement between William Pott, William Ballinger, Joseph Sweauinger, James Murphy, and Jesse Hughes concerning “The Hope” land tract and more, Nov. 27, 1797, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber WR 16, p. 40, 41, 42, 43, 43a, 43b, [MSA CE 108-36]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net. Considering it was originally in Prince George’s County, this (and this) is NOT the same land. There is a land in Prince George’s County named Hope, but no details can be provided.

[15] Benjamin Murdoch purchases land from Charles Fenton Mercer, Nov. 11, 1825, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber JS 23, p. 447, 448, 449, 450, 451 [MSA CE 108-91]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[16] Benjamin Murdoch purchases land from Robert Darnell, Nov. 28, 1825, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber JS 23, p. 555, 556, 557, 558 [MSA CE 108-91]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[17] Fifth Census of the United States, District 1, Frederick, Maryland, 1830, National Archives, NARA M19, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 57, Page 15. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest. He is called “Benjamin Murdock” in this census.

[18] Pension of Benjamin Murdoch, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, S.9046. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[19] Agreement between Benjamin Murdock, Charles Johnson (executor), John H. Simmons, John Montgomery, Sebastian Sraff, Congo Doddoner, Elisha Beall, Plummer Simmes, and Charles Johnson, May 15, 1832, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber JS 40, p. 114, 115 [MSA CE 108-108]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[20] Agreement between Benjamin Murdock, et al, Dec. 1, 1832, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber JS 41, p. 3, 4 [MSA CE 108-109]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[21] Agreement between Benjamin Murdoch, et al, and Lloyd Keith, Dec. 1, 1832, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber JS 42, p. 263, 264, 265 [MSA CE 108-110]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[22] Sixth Census of the United States, Buckeye, Frederick, Maryland, 1840, National Archives, NARA M704, . Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 166, Page 159. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[23] Sixth Census of the United States, Buckeystown, Frederick, Maryland, USA, 1850, National Archives, NARA M432, . Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll M432_293, Page 461-462. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[24] See here, here, and here for others who have tried to explore his story.