The post-war lives of Maryland’s revolutionary soldiers

First Maryland Regiment Retaking British Field Artillery at Guilford Court House, North Carolina. Courtesy of Art.com.

An Irish-born man named Robert Ratliff, a Baltimorean named William Marr, a Marylander likely born in Cecil County named George Lashley, a Charles County man named John Plant, another man from the same county named John Neal, another Marylander likely born in Cecil County named John Lowry, and one Marylander likely born in the same county named William Dawson all have one thing in common: they had fought in the Maryland Line. While Ratliff was a five foot, eight inch tall man who was part of the Seventh Independent Company, which recruited from the Eastern Shore, just like Dawson, Marr and Lashley were part of the Col. Nathaniel Ramsey’s Fifth Company, mustered at Whetstone Point (present-day Fort McHenry), part of the First Maryland Regiment. [1] As for the other Marylanders, Plant and Neal were part of Captain John Hoskins Stone‘s First Company of the First Maryland Regiment, enlisted in Port Tobacco, Maryland, while Lowry was part of  Captain Peter Adams‘s Sixth Company of the First Maryland Regiment. [2] Even with arguably shared military experience, their lives after the revolutionary war were different and tell us about the lives of Maryland soldiers in later years.

After the war, Dawson returned to Cecil County. On December 29, 1780, he married a woman named Elizabeth Graves, with the matrimony affirmed by minister William Thomson of an Episcopal Church in Elkton, Maryland. [3]The same year, on February 27, Neal stayed in  Somerset County, where he had been discharged, marrying a local woman named Margaret Miller in Boundbrook, New Jersey. [4] They had two children named Benjamin (b. 1781) and Theodocia (b. 1802).

As for Lowry, in 1783, he was living as a single man in Harford County’s Spesutia Upper Hundred. [5] The same year, Dawson was in a similar predicament. He was described as a pauper, living on the land, which was likely rented, with nine other inhabitants. [6] While Dawson was granted 50 acres of bounty land in Western Maryland after the war, it sat vacant. He may have felt with fellow veteran Mark McPherson who said the land, located in a remote mountainous area of Western Maryland, was “absolutely good for nothing . . . unfit for Cultivation.” [7] Plant was also settling down after the war. Living in Charles County, he became a well-off small farmer and slaveowner who owned two horses, one cattle, and one enslaved black child. [8] The same was also the case with Ratliff, who settled down in Cecil County. In 1783, he lived with his relative, James, who owned four horses and 150 acres of land. [9]

Three years after Marr ended his war service, he settled down and his life changed. On June 14, 1784, Airey Owings married Marr in Baltimore County at St. Paul’s Parish, with the ceremony conducted by Reverend William West. [10] Marr and Airey lived in Baltimore County, raised “a family of children,” including a son named William, and he worked as a reputable farmer. [11] It is possible that Marr’s farm was among the 45.6% of Maryland dwellings that we not taxed, explaining its absence from the 1783 tax assessments. [12] At this time, Baltimore County had a varied economy with ” furnaces, forges, cotton mills, and wollen factories,” even by the early 19th century, while Baltimore was gaining importance as a commercial center. [13] One “William Marr” is listed in the 1810 US Census as the head of household along with his wife and three children: one male child under 10, one male under 16, and one female under age 10. [14]

Coming back to Neal, while he was living in New Jersey, he served in the militia in Somerset County, which fought off British incursions in New Jersey until the end of the war, serving at least one four-month term. [15] In the county, called the “crossroads of the revolution” by some, the destruction of the war had dissipated by the 1780s, with industry and commerce thriving in the final years of the war even as militiamen decried depreciation of Continental currency. [16]

On October 13, 1787, Ratliff married Mary Kirk. [17] A few years later, on December 23, 1800, he married another woman named Anne Husler. [18] The reason he remarried is that his wife died. At some point, Anne died and he married a third time to woman named Elizabeth, who survived him. [19] He had two children named James and Elizabeth, but the mother’s name is not known.

As for Plant, on June 15, 1788, he married an eighteen-year-old woman named Mary Ann Davis. [20] He later reminisced about his revolutionary service with his cousin, William Stewart, who said that Plant had “strict integrity” and good character. [21] Sadly, more recounts on his memories on his war service other than a few pages of his pension cannot be found.

At some point before 1788, while living in Harford County, Lowry married a woman named Hannah Finney. [22] In the spring of 1788, Finney’s mother, Manassah, died, and willed ten acres of her farm to Finney and Lowry to use until 1789. [23] This bequest reaffirmed a lease Lowry and Manassah made in 1783 that the farm was near Welles Swamp, and was given under certain conditions. [24] Likely the farm was on one of the two tracts owned by Manassah in Harford County’s Deer Creek Middle Hundred, named Giles and Webster’s Discovery, a tract of land that spanned 70 acres in total. [25] While Lowry was called to testify against his brother-in-law, James Barnett, who was the executor of her estate, in 1791, he later received money, along with his wife, when assets of the estate were distributed in 1809. [26]

By 1790, John Lowry was living with his wife, and possibly two children, in Cecil County’s Elk Neck. [27] They were possibly living on a 100-acre land tract, which he had leased to a wealthy Cecil County man named Samuel Redgrave in February 1781. [28] The tract was called Tedart and sat on the west side of the Elk River. The tract had been owned by his father, James, before his death.

In the late 1790s, Ratliff and his wife were living in Kent County, Maryland. [29] In 1802, still living in Kent County, he bought land in New Castle County, Delaware, preparing for the next stage of his life. [30]

Years later, in 1805, he was living in Harford County and received compensation for his revolutionary war service. [31] However, in the early nineteenth century, Lowry bought land in Fells Point, Baltimore, called Leasehold, some of which he leased, and lived in Baltimore County until his death. [32] At that time, he was staying with his second wife, Elizabeth Maidwell, who he had married on October 22, 1801. [33] In the fall of 1804, she leased him land in the town of Baltimore, for the next 99 years, which had part of the estate of her former husband, Alexander Maidwell. [34] The fate of Lowry’s first wife, Hannah, is not known.

In later years, Plant and his wife moved to what became Washington, D.C. At the time, it was 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. [35] Slavemasters and over 7,900 enslaved blacks living in the area were an important part of D.C.’s society. [36] Plant died there on November 14, 1808. [37]

As for Dawson, in later years, he lived in the Bohemia Manor area of Cecil County, Maryland, staying there until 1810, with his wife Elizabeth and one child whose name is not currently known. [38] In 1808, he petitioned the Maryland House of Delegates saying he had served in the Revolutionary War and prayed “to be placed on the pension list.” [39] The House of Delegates endorsed his plea and in 1810, Dawson, a “meritorious soldier in the revolutionary war,” in an “indigent situation” because of his old age, was paid the half pay of a private. [40] He was paid a state pension for years to come. Sometime in the fall of 1815, before September 6, John Lowry died in Baltimore County without a will, and his estate was administered by Cornelius Willis. [41]

In 1810, Ratliff was living in St. George’s Hundred, in the same county of Delaware, with his wife, children, and two enslaved blacks. [42] A few years later, in 1813, he was a farmer in Delaware’s Appoquinimink Hundred, on a plot of land with his wife. [43] He was well-off, owning a walnut dining table, small looking glass, 3 cows, 7 sheep, and a few horses. [44] Being very “weak in body,” Ratliff wrote his will on April 5, 1813, making his “beloved wife” Elizabeth his executor, manumitted an black enslaved woman, named Jane, and distributed his land to his children. [45] He died sometime between the writing of his will and collection of testimony on November 3, 1814.

Dawson moved from state to state. In 1810, he was living in Glasgow, New Castle County, Delaware, with his wife and a young child. [46] Eight years later, he was living in New Castle’s Pencader Hundred, in Delaware, just over the Maryland line. [47] Two years later, he moved back to Cecil County and settled in Elkton, Maryland. [48]

Neal, like Dawson, also had moved out of the state. By 1810, he and his family had moved to Ovid, New York, in the northern part of the state near the Finger Lakes, where they lived. Once there, he filed for his Federal veterans pension in 1818. [49] Two years later, he lived in the adjoining town of Covert, New York on a half-acre of land, with a wooden clock, a chest, and some cookery, a shabby wagon, small pigs, one cow, and eight sheep. [50] In his pension application, he claimed to be in “reduced circumstances” and that he had lost his discharge papers or any other paper records proving his service in the First Maryland Line, an appeal that was successful.

After the war, Lashley continued to live in the state of Maryland. On April 25, 1816, Lashley married Jane Bashford, a 41-year-old woman, in Cecil County. [51]

In 1819, one year after Marr began collecting his pension and one day before July 4, he died in Baltimore at the age of 66. [52] He died without making a will and left Airey a widow, who never remarried, allowing her to receive pension money at his death. [53] She lived to April 1843, aged 79, working to collect some of the pension in the 1830s and 1840s given due to her late husband’s military service. [54] At his death, while he may not have been well honored by people within the military and different levels of government, his story is still one worth telling.

In September 1820, when Lashley began receiving his federal pension, despite losing his discharge papers, he was living in the same county with his wife and had no children or heirs. [55] Since his memory was failing him, he originally said he was part of the Second Maryland Regiment, but later corrected himself and two long-time residents recalled seeing him march “away with the said [Ramsey’s] Company.” [56]

In Dawson’s 1820 application for his Federal veterans pension, he said that his wife was sixty years old and “infirm,” just like himself. [57] Additionally, he noted that a young grandchild living with him whom also had to support. He also owned three dollars worth of farm animals (a cow and a calf) and was living in “reduced circumstances” with twenty dollars of debt. His “infirmities of old age,” which had “disabled him in “his left arm and leg,” led him to be classified as an “invalid.” [58] Despite the fact that his discharge papers had been lost, his pension was granted in the fall of 1820. [59]

Dawson’s life after this point is unclear. While final payment vouchers say that payments to him ended in 1820, he did not die that year. [60] Instead, he died on July 11, 1824, and his state pension payments were sent to his administrator, Jane Dawson, possibly his second wife. [61] The following year, another soldier passed away. On July 22, Neal died in New York State. [62]

In November 1823, members of Ratliff’s family agreed that Ratliff’s son, James, should own his father’s estate in Delaware. [63] A few years later, James negotiated to buy his father’s land in Delaware. [64] By the 1850s, the Ratliff family was still living in Appoquinimink Hundred. [65]

As for Lashley, in 1827, he received payment from the State of Maryland equal to half pay of a private as a result of his service in the Revolutionary War. [66] He continued to receive payments quartetly until his death on March 4, 1831 at the age of 76. [67] Five years later, his declared legal representatives, Mary Sproul and Nancy Lashley, received the money that was due to him before his death in 1831. [68]

Mary Ann, the wife of Plant, fought to receive her husband’s pension payments. In February 1835, she asked for “remuneration” for her husband’s military service from the U.S. House of Representatives, and following year asked the same from the U.S. Senate. [69] By 1838, at sixty-eight-years-old, she petitioned the federal government for pension benefits. However, because Plant either had no official discharge papers or had lost them, Mary Ann had trouble receiving money. [70] Her fate is not known.

Notes

[1] Lashley enlisted in the company at a public house called Battle Swamp tavern, near present-day Woodlawn, Maryland.

[2] Pay Role of Prisoners taken on Long Island from 27th August to the 10th Dec. 1776, Maryland State Papers, Revolutionary Papers, MdHR 19970-19-02 [MSA S997-19-2 01/07/03/15]; Journal of the House of Representatives of the United StatesAt the Second Session of the Eighth Congress, in the Twenty-ninth Year of the Independence of the United States (Washington City: Samuel Harrison Smith, 1805), 242; Henry C. Peden, Abstracts of the Orphans Court Proceedings 1778-1800: Harford County Maryland (Westminster: Family Line Publications, 1990), 38-39. Lowry was grievously injured in the groin and was taken prisoner by the British after the Battle of Brooklyn, then released from British custody in December 1776.

[3] Marriage of William Dawson and Elizabeth Graves, 1780, Cecil County Court, Marriage Licenses, MdHR 9435, p. 23 [MSA C632-1, 1/11/6/38]; Collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Vol. 1 (Philadelphia: John Pennington and Henry C. Baird, 1853), 338-389.

[4] Pension of John Neal; Ronald V. Jackson, Accelerated Indexing Systems, comp. New Jersey Census, 1643-1890. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. It is likely that he knew Miller before he married her in 1780, possibly from his militia service.

[5] Record of John Lowry, 1783, General Assembly House of Delegates, Assessment Record, p. 54 [MSA S1161-67, 1/4/5/49].

[6] William Dawson record, 1783, Cecil County Fourth District, General Assembly House of Delegates, Assessment Record, p. 6 [MSA S1161-39, 1/4/5/47].

[7] Westward of Fort CumberlandMilitary Lots Set Off for Maryland’s Revolutionary Soldiers (ed. Mary K. Meyer, Westminister: Heritage Books, 2008), 21, 103; William Dawson’s lot in Western Maryland, Land Office, Lots Westward of Fort Cumberland, MdHR 17302, p. 27 [SE1-1]; Pension of Mark McPherson and Widow’s Pension of Mary McPherson. The National Archives. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. NARA M804, W 2144. 1-73. From Fold3.com. His lot was number 273.

[8] John Plant assessment record, 1783, General Assembly House of Delegates, Assessment Record, CH, Seventh District, General, p. 9 [MSA S1161-52, 1/4/5/48]. The child was male and under age eight.

[9] Record of James Ratliff and Robert Ratliff, 1783, General Assembly House of Delegates, Assessment Record, p. 7 [MSA S1161-37, 1/4/5/46].

[10] National Archives, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1631, William Marr, Pension number W. 3838. courtesy of fold3.com; Marriage of William Marr and Arrey Owings; “Part IV: Marriages proved through Maryland pension applications,” Maryland Revolutionary Records, pp. 118; Bill and Martha Reamy, Records of St. Paul’s Parish Vol. 1, xi, 39, 150.

[11] National Archives, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1631, William Marr, Pension number W. 3838. courtesy of fold3.com.

[12] Shammas, “The Housing Stock of the Early United States: Refinement Meets Migration,” 557, 559, 563.

[13] McGrain, From Pig Iron to Cotton Duck: A History of Manufacturing Villages in Baltimore County; Vol. I, 2; Hall, Baltimore: Its History and Its People; Vol. 1, 39, 56; Hollander, The Financial History of Baltimore; Vol. 20, 17.

[14] Third Census of the United States, 1810. (NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls). Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[15] Pension of John Van Tuyl, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 2451, pension number W.22483. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Service Card of John Sebring, Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, National Archives, NARA M881, Record Group 93, Roll 0641. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of Folkerd Sebring, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 2147, pension number W. 24926. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of Abraham Sebring, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 2147, pension number S. 22972. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of John Van Tuyl; Pension of John Haas, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1150, pension number S. 1,012. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of Isaac Manning, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1624, pension number W. 7400. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of David King, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1428, pension number S. 13655. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of Jacob Mesler, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1717, pension number R. 7143. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of John Swaim, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 2326, pension number W. 2486. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of Abraham Sebring; 2nd Battalion of Somerset rolls, Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783, National Archives, Record Group 93, NARA M846, Roll 0063, folder 60. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of William Durham, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 0874, pension number R. 3160. Courtesy of Fold3.com; James P. Snell and Franklin Ellis, History of Hunterdon and Somerset counties, New Jersey, with illustrations and biographical sketches of its prominent men and pioneers (Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1881), 83, 98. Census records show a “John Neale” living in Burlington County in 1790 and 1800, but it cannot be confirmed this is the same person as John Neal.

[16] William A. Schleicher and Susan J. Winter, Somerset County: Crossroads of the American Revolution (Chicago: Arcadia Publishing, 1999), 7-8, 17-18, 22, 24-25, 34; Multiple authors, Somerset County Historical Quarterly Vol. VII (Somerville, NJ: Somerset County Historical Society, 1919), 18-20, 31, 79, 104, 170-172; Abraham Messler, Centennial History of Somerset County (Somerville: C.M. Jameson Publishers, 1878), 69-71, 74, 77-78, 81, 101, 109-110, 112-113; Richard A. Harrison, Princetonians, 1769-1775: A Biographical Dictionary (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980), 28-29, 80-81. It may have been called the crossroads because competing Continental and British armies maneuvered in the county and Morristown was also located there.

[17] Marriage of Mary Kirk and Robert Ratliff, 1787, Cecil County Court, Marriage Licenses, MdHR 9435, p. 45 [MSA C632-1, 1/11/6/38].

[18] Marriage of Anne Husler and Robert Ratliff, 1800, Cecil County Court, Marriage Licenses, MdHR 9435, p. 127 [MSA C632-1, 1/11/6/38].

[19] Will of Robert Ratliff, 1813, New Castle County Court House, Wilmington, Delaware, Register of Wills, Book R 1813-1823, p. 40-41. Courtesy of Ancestry.com; Probate of Robert Ratliff, 1814-1815, New Castle, Register of Wills, Delaware State Archives, New Castle County Probates, Record Group 2545. Courtesy of Ancestry.com; Indenture between Robert Ratliff, Elizabeth, and Sarah Baird, June 13, 1799, Kent County Court, Land Records, Liber TW 1, p. 214-216 [MSA CE 118-31].

[20] Pension of John Plant.

[21] Ibid. Sadly, the specifics of what Plant told his cousin are not known.

[22] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 18, 661; Will of Manassah Finney, 1788, Harford County Register of Wills, Wills, Liber AJ 2, p. 206-207 [MSA CM599-2, CR 44758-2]. Sometimes her last name is spelled Phinney or Finny.

[23] Will of Manassah Finney.

[24] Lease of John Lowry and Manassah Finney, 1788, Harford County Court, Land Records, Liber JLG H, p. 435 [MSA CE 113-8].

[25] Record of Manasseth Finney, 1783, General Assembly House of Delegates, Assessment Record, p. 90 [MSA S1161-67, 1/4/5/49]; Patent for Manassah Finney, 1774, Land Office, Patent Record, MdHR 17455, Liber BC & GS 44, p. 395-396 [MSA S11-145, 1/23/4/9]; Patent for Manassah Finney, 1772, Land Office, Patent Record, MdHR 17461, Liber BC & GS 50, p. 70 [MSA S11-151, 1/23/4/18]. This assessment record lists Finney as owning two tracts of land: Giles and Webster’s Discovery (75 acres) and Renshaws Last Purchase (50 acres). Other records show that Renshaws Last Purchase was considered part of Baltimore County at one point, so it is unlikely the farm was on this land.

[26] Peden Jr., 42; Distribution of Manassah Finney’s Estate by James Barnett, June 27, 1809, Harford Register of Wills, Distributions, Liber TSB 1, p. 88-89 [MSA CM557-1, CR 10960-1].

[27] Census for Elk Neck, Cecil, Maryland, First Census of the United States, 1790, National Archives, NARA M637, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, roll 3, page 323, image 553. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

[28] Lease of John Lowrey and Samuel Readgrave, February 3, 1781, Cecil County, Land Records, Liber 15, p. 88-89 [MSA CE 133-17]; Record of Samuel Redgrave, 1783, General Assembly House of Delegates, Assessment Record, Cecil County Fourth District, p. 1, 10 [MSA S 1161-4-2, 1/4/5/47].

[29] Indenture between Robert Ratliff, Elizabeth, and Sarah Baird.

[30] Record of Robert Ratliff, June 1802, Delaware, Land Records, 1677–1947, Delaware Public Archives, Recorder of Deeds, New Castle County, RG 2555, Subgroup 000, Series 011, p. 440, 442. Courtesy of Ancestry.com; Session Laws, 1824, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 629, 44. Ratliff owned land near John Zillefro/Zilerfrow. This man was the first husband of Rachel Ozier, who was living with her second husband, Maryland 400 veteran Andrew Meloan, and their children, in Montgomery County, Kentucky at the time.

[31] Journal of the House of Representatives of the United StatesAt the Second Session of the Eighth Congress, in the Twenty-ninth Year of the Independence of the United States (Washington City: Samuel Harrison Smith, 1805), 242.

[32] Purchase of land by John Lowry from Elizabeth Mains, October 10, 1803, Baltimore County Court, Land Records, Liber WG 78, p. 363-365 [MSA CE 66-128]; Deed and Gift of land to John Lowrey from Joseph Lambert, December 1803, Baltimore County Court, Land Records, Liber WG 78, p. 365-366 [MSA CE 66-128]; John Lowry lease to John Griffith, April 11, 1805, Baltimore County Court, Land Records, Liber WG 84, p. 412-413 [MSA CE 66-134]; List of Letters Remaining at the Post-Office, Baltimore, June 6, 1800, Federal Gazette, Baltimore, June 7, 1800, Vol. XII, issue 2040, p. 2. Two men named John Lowry are recorded as living in Baltimore in 1800.

[33] Marriage of John Lowry and Elizabeth Maidwell, October 22, 1801, Baltimore County Court, Marriage Licenses, MdHR 9122, p. 59 [MSA C376-2, 2/14/14/12].

[34] Elizabeth Maidwell lease to John Lowrey, November 1, 1804, Baltimore County Court, Land Records, Liber WG 84, p. 410-412 [MSA CE 66-134]; Marriage of Alexander Maidwell and Elizabeth Winnick, April 27, 1795, Baltimore County Court, Marriage Licenses, MdHR 9121, p. 143 [MSA C376-1, 2/14/14/11]. Elizabeth Maidwell, whose maiden name was Winnick, had only married Alexander Maidwell, her first husband, in April 1795.

[35] J. D. Dickey, Empire of Mud: The Secret History of Washington, DC (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), ix, xiv, xvii, 1, 3, 4, 7-9, 12, 14-15, 17, 19-22, 24-25, 28, 31; Tom Lewis, Washington: A History of Our National City (New York: Basic Books, 2015), xx, 1, 10, 14, 20, 24. The estimate of population comes from data assembled by Social Explorer for the 1810 census.

[36] According to data assembled by Social Explorer for the 1810 census, the rural Washington County, a jurisdiction within D.C., had only about 2,300 residents, a county Plant may have lived in. This data also shows 7,944 non-white persons, excluding Indians, living in D.C. in 1810.

[37] Pension of John Plant.

[38] Census for Bohemia Manor, Cecil County, 1790, First Census of the United States, 1790, NARA M637, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, roll 3, page 320. Courtesy of Ancestry.com; Census for Bohemia Manor, Cecil County, 1800, Second Census of the United States, 1800, NARA M32, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, roll 10, page 53. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

[39] Journal of the House of Delegates, 1808, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 556, 16, 31, 73.

[40] Session Laws, 1810, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 599, 100.

[41] Bond of Cornelius Willis, Edward Vernon and William H. Lenox, September 6, 1815, Baltimore County Register of Wills, Administration Bonds, MdHR 11644, Liber 11, p. 76 [MSA C264-11, 2/28/12/35]; Administration Docket of John Lowry, 1815, Baltimore County Register of Wills, Administration Docket, Liber 6, p. 171 [MSA CM130-6, CR 10674-2]. This means none of the three invalid pensioners named John Lowry listed on the 1835 pension rolls are him.

[42] Census of St. Georges Hundred, New Castle, Delaware, 1810, Third Census of the United States, 1810, National Archives, NARA M252, Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 4, Pagw 287. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

[43] “Ratliff’s land,” 1813, Delaware, Land Records, 1677–1947, Delaware Public Archives, Recorder of Deeds, New Castle County, RG 2555, Subgroup 000, Series 011, p. 435. Courtesy of Ancestry.com

[44] Probate of Robert Ratliff. He also owned a young enslaved black male who was only two years old.

[45] Will of Robert Ratliff.

[46] Census for Glasgow, New Castle, Delaware, 1810, Third Census of the United States, 1810, NARA M252, Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, roll 4, page 261. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

[47] Pension of William Dawson.

[48] Pension of William Dawson; Census for Elkton, Cecil County, 1820, Fourth Census of the United States, 1820, NARA M33, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, roll M33_40, page 135. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

[49] Pension of John Neal; Tacyn, 318; Pension of Abraham Sebring; Third Census of the United States, 1810, Ovid, Seneca, New York; NARA M252; Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives; p. 252; Image: 00160; Family History Library Film: 0181390. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. Ovid included a town and village of the same name which was still small even in 1850 and to the present-day. A number of men named “John Niles” were living in the town of Oneida, as recorded by the 1800 census, which is about 81 to 96 miles away from Ovid, but it cannot be confirmed this is the same man as John Neal.

[50] Fourth Census of the United States, 1820, Covert, Seneca, New York; NARA M33; Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives, p. 298, Image: 61. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. Covert was a town formed from part of Ovid.

[51] Marriage of George Leslie and Jane Bashford, 1816, Marriage Licenses, Cecil County Court, MdHR 9435, p. 247 [MSA C632-1, 1/11/6/38].

[52] Index to Selected Final Payment Vouchers, compiled 1818 – 1864, Record Group 217, roll box06_00007, pensioner William Marr, July 3, 1819. courtesy of fold3.com; National Archives, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1631, William Marr, Pension number W. 3838. courtesy of fold3.com; United States Senate.The Pension Roll of 1835. 4 vols. 1968 Reprint, with index. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992; “Persons on the Pension Roll Under the Law of the 18th of March, 1818, Maryland,” Pension List of 1820, pp. 547.

[53] National Archives, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1631, William Marr, Pension number W. 3838. courtesy of fold3.com; Adminstration Docket of William Marr.

[54] Ibid; Archives of Maryland, vol. 214, page 717.

[55] George Lashley Pension; Marriage of George Leslie and Jane Bashford, 1816, Marriage Licenses, Cecil County Court, MdHR 9435, p. 247 [MSA C632-1, 1/11/6/38].

[56] George Lashley Pension.

[57] Pension of William Dawson. Dawson had been applying for pension benefits since 1818.

[58] Pension of William Dawson.

[59] Dawson specifically accused Lieutenant John Sears of losing his discharge, saying that “this despondent cannot produce the said discharge, having sent by Lieutenant John Sears to Annapolis” after he was discharged.

[60] Final Payment Voucher for William Dawson, 1820, Final Revolutionary War Pension Payment Vouchers: Delaware, National Archives, NARA M2079, Record Group 217, Roll 0001. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Final Payment Voucher for William Dawson from General Accounting Office, 1820, Index to Selected Final Payment Vouchers, 1818-1864, National Archives, Record Group 217, box05_00005. Courtesy of Fold3.com. It is clear that William Dawson is not the same as a Justice of the Peace in Talbot County.

[61] Record of pension payment to William Dawson, Treasurer of the Western Shore, Military Pension Roll, MdHR 4534-4, p. 31 [MSA S613-1, 2/63/10/33]; “Sheriff’s Sale,” American Watchman, Wilmington, Delaware, June 5, 1827, page 3. He may have died in Delaware but this cannot be confirmed. By 1827, his heirs may have been living in Delaware, as a sale by a local sheriff in Wilmington, Delaware, mentions “heirs of William Dawson.” However, it is not known if this the same as Dawson, who may have moved back to Delaware before his death.

[62] Pension of John Neal; Letter about John Neal, September 18, 1895. New York County, District and Probate Courts. Administration, Vol C-D, 1815-1883, p. 136. Courtesy of Ancestry.com; Seventh Census of the United States, 1850, Hector, Tompkins, New York, NARA M432; Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives; p. 420A, Image: 441. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. His wife, Margaret, was the administrator of Neal’s estate after his death. Years after his death, his wife re-married to a man named John Benjamin Smith. She continued to fight for Neal’s pension payments until at least 1850, living in the small town of Hector, New York, only about 16 miles away from Ovid, with another family. She died in the 1850s, the exact date not known.

[63] Indenture between James Ratliff and Hannah, Thomas Ratliff and Mary, and Henry Webb and Elizabeth, November 23, 1823, Delaware, Land Records, 1677–1947, Delaware Public Archives, Recorder of Deeds, New Castle County, RG 2555, Subgroup 000, Series 011, p. 4-6. Courtesy of Ancestry.com; Session Laws, 1824, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 629, 44; Indenture between James Ratliff and Jacob Hornes (Colored Man), May 26, 1826, Delaware, Land Records, 1677–1947, Delaware Public Archives, Recorder of Deeds, New Castle County, RG 2555, Subgroup 000, Series 011, p. 300-301. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. These members of his family included his son James and his wife Hannah in Cecil County, Thomas Ratliff and his wife Mary in Butler County, Ohio, and Elizabeth Webb, his daughter, and Henry Webb. They all received some part of the estate.

[64] Indenture between James Ratliff and Jacob Hornes (Colored Man).

[65] Indenture between Thomas Ratliff and Ann Ratliff, October 9, 1854, Delaware, Land Records, 1677–1947, Delaware Public Archives, Recorder of Deeds, New Castle County, RG 2555, Subgroup 000, Series 011, p. 59-62. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

[66] Session Laws, 1826 Session. Archives of Maryland Online vol. 437, 253.

[67] George Lashley Pension; State Pension of George Lashley, Treasurer of the Western Shore, Pension Roll, MdHR 4534-4, p. 36, 48 [MSA S613-1, 2/63/10/33].

[68] Session Laws, 1835 Session. Archives of Maryland Online vol. 214, 754. While his pension says he has no heirs, this legislation says “the heirs and legal representatives of George Lashly.” It is possible that this language is just a formality, but there is no explanation as to why Lashley had heirs by his death or if the legal representatives are his children.

[69] Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States: Being the Second Session of the Twenty-Third Congress, Begun and Held at the City of Washington, and in the Fifty-Ninth Year of the Independence of the United States (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1835), 390; “Twenty-Fourth Congress First Session,” Daily National Intelligencer, Washington, D.C., April 26, 1836, Vol. XXIV, issue 7240, p. 3.

[70] Pension of John Plant. As one ancestor put it years later, this situation led to Mary Ann almost being “deprived of a pension.”

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A “dull place” on the Patapsco: Baltimore and the Marr Brothers

Reposted from Academia.edu. I originally wrote this when I was working for the Maryland State Archives on the Finding the Maryland 400 project.

In 1776, Baltimore’s population was just over 6,000. This zoomed-in version of a map, courtesy of the Library of Congress, shows how Baltimore was portrayed in 1776.

In May 1776, the Revolution had been raging for almost a year with skirmishes between the British imperial army and the rag-tag revolutionaries. William Marr, probably with his brothers Nicholas and James, enlisted in the Continental Army in Capt. Nathaniel Ramsey’s Fifth Company, a section of the First Maryland Regiment, at Whetstone Point. [1] It was not uncommon for multiple men of the same immediate family to enlist in the Revolutionary War. Many company members were young and residents from the Baltimore area. The Fifth Company included the Marr brothers at Whetstone Point, fortified with 38 cannons and earthworks, two miles below Baltimore, to defend it from British attack. [2] They were joined by Daniel Bowie’s Fourth Company and Samuel Smith’s Eighth Company, as we have noted on this blog in the past. The Marr brothers and members of the three companies of the First Maryland Regiment would have seen a Baltimore that few of us can imagine today. This article is the beginning of a series about Baltimore.

In 1776, Baltimore was a small, pre-industrial town on the Patapsco River. It was officially called Baltimore Town until a city charter was received in 1797. [3] The Revolution caused difficulties by ending trade of exports such as wheat, flour, and tobacco with the British West Indies, but due to the war, Baltimore still grew economically and by population beyond 6,000 residents. [4] John Adams, in his stay in late 1776 and early 1777 as part of the Continental Congress, described the town as “very pretty” with revolutionary sentiments, but having dirty, mirey, and foul streets, a “monstrous price of things,” unhealthy air and a “dull place” not even worth defending from the British. [5] Still, Baltimore Town was a bustling and growing commercial port with a job market open to immigrants containing more than 500 dwellings. [6]

Baltimore Town was not as big as Philadelphia, in terms of population. However, the seventy-four enlisted soldiers in the Fifth Company would have seen people of varying backgrounds. There were people from many trades ranging from blacksmiths, shipbuilders at Fells Point, cabinetmakers, bricklayers, shoemakers, among others. [7] Many of these local artisans supplied common amenities and engaged in craft services in Baltimore and neighboring counties, working in a town economy “dominated by commerce.” [8]

Many of these craftspeople relied on unpaid labor such as indentured servants, mostly comprised of male English convicts, thousands of whom were trafficked into the Chesapeake Bay from the early 1700s up until 1776. [9] However, convict trade was brought to a halt due to ending of trade between Britain and colonial America as a result of the beginning of the Revolution. The enlistment of servants to the Continental Army created a labor shortage addressed by an increase of slave importation by master craftspeople. [10] At the time, others entering Baltimore included those of a “middling sort,” German immigrants, and Irish immigrants. [11] In describing Baltimore, John Adams once said that there were a few planters and farmers, who were also merchants, with lands cultivated and trades exercised by convicts and enslaved Blacks. [12] He further described these planters and farmers as having “little public spirit” as they held their enslaved Blacks and convicts “in contempt” and thought of themselves “a distinct order of beings.” [13] It is possible Adams thought lowly of these planters and farmers because they were not contributing to the revolutionary cause as much as he wanted. Still, the attitudes and actions of the planters and farmers was not unique to Baltimore.

Throughout and after the war, Baltimore Town continued to expand. Evidence suggests the Marr brothers likely settled in the Baltimore area, among other surviving soldiers. Meanwhile, Baltimore Town continued to grow by population and export of commodities, such as wheat, although there were price increases, and became an important market. [14] Despite increases in trade and availability of agricultural products, many of the tradespeople could not afford to become property owners as the town was building its unique identity. [15] As 1800 approached and Baltimore developed into more of a maritime city, the town continued to change demographically. [16]

– Burkely Hermann, Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow, 2016

Notes

[1] National Archives, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1631, William Marr, Pension number W. 3838. courtesy of fold3.com; Order to give back pay of Nicholas Marr, William Marr’s brother, to Lewis Lee. MdHR 19970-05-01-07 [MSA S997-5-7, 1/7/3/11].

[2] Neal A. Brooks and Eric G. Rockel. A History of Baltimore County. Towson: Friends of the Towson Library, 1979. pp. 85, 101; Richard C. Medford. Book Review: ‘Mirror of Americans,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. XXXIX, March 1949, no. 1. pp. 90; S. Synthes Bradford. ‘In Fort McHenry 1814: The outworks in 1814,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 52, no. 2, June 1959. pp. 188-189, 191; Christopher T. George. ‘Book Review of Fort McHenry,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 9, no. 6, 1996. pp. 224; Hamilton Owens. Baltimore on the Chesapeake. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1991. pp. 85. Years later, in 1814, Whetstone Point, like during the during the Revolution, then the site of Fort McHenry (‘Notes and queries: The President visits Maryland, 1817,’ Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol. XLIX, June 1954, no. 2. pp. 168), held off the British destruction of the “”very pretty town.”

[3] Charles Francis Adams. Familiar Letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams During the Revolution with a memoir of Mrs. Adams. New York: Hund and Houghton, 1876. pp. 296; Charles G. Steffen, The Mechanics of Baltimore: Workers and Politics in the Age of Revolution, 1763-1812. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1984. pp. 3; Kathryn Allamong Jacob. ‘The Women’s Lot in Baltimore Town: 1729-1797.’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 71, no. 3, fall 1976. pp. 263.

[4] Edward J. Perkins. The Economy of Colonial America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988, 135; Steffen, The Mechanics of Baltimore, 4; Matson, Cathy. “The Atlantic Economy in an Era of Revolutions: An Introduction.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 62, no. 3 (2005): 360; US Census. A Century of population growth from the first census to the twelfth. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1909. pp. 30; Paul Kent Walker, ‘Business and commerce in Baltimore on the eve of independence,’ 296; Jacob Harry Hollander. The Financial History of Baltimore vol. 20. Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1899. pp. 17; Arthur M. Schlesinger. ‘Maryland’s share in the last intercontinental war.’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. VIII June 1912, no. 2. pp. 125; Sherry H. Olson. Baltimore: The Building of an American City. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. pp. 15; Henry C. Ward. The War for Independence and Transformation of American Society: War and Society in the United States, 1775-85. New York: Routledge, 1999. pp. 152.

[5] Owens, Baltimore on the Chesapeake, 110; Charles Francis Adams. The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States Vol. III. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851. pp. 25, 198; Tina M. Sheller. ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town.’ American Artisans: Crafting Social Identity, 1750-1830 (ed. Howard C. Rock, Paul A. Gilje and Robert Asher). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995. pp. 26; Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams During the Revolution with a memoir of Mrs. Adams, 237; Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 18 February 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society; Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 7 March 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society; John Adams diary 28, 6 February – 21 November 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society (entry for Feb. 9, 1777); Jacob, ‘The Women’s Lot in Baltimore Town: 1729-1797,’ 291.

[6] Lawrence C. Wroth, ‘A Maryland Merchant and his friends in 1750,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. VI, Sept. 1911, no. 3. pp. 215, 219; Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves,’ 18; George W. Howard. The Monumental City, Its Past History and Present Resources. Baltimore: J.D. Ehlers and Co., 1873. pp. 20.

[7] Daniels, Christine. “”WANTED: A Blacksmith Who Understands Plantation Work”: Artisans in Maryland, 1700-1810.” The William and Mary Quarterly 50, no. 4 (1993): 760-761, 766; Mariana L.R. Darlas. Black Townsmen: Urban Slavery and Freedom in the Eighteenth Century Americas. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008. pp. 90; Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams During the Revolution with a memoir of Mrs. Adams, 18; Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 10 February 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society; Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town,’ 18, 25.

[8] Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town,’ 19-20.

[9] Daniels, ‘Artisans in Maryland, 1700-1810,’ 752; Morgan, Kenneth. “The Organization of the Convict Trade to Maryland: Stevenson, Randolph and Cheston, 1768-1775.” The William and Mary Quarterly 42, no. 2 (1985): 203, 205, 211, 217; M. Darlas. Black Townsmen: Urban Slavery and Freedom in Eighteenth Century Americas. pp. 40-41.

[10] Morgan, “The Organization of the Convict Trade to Maryland: Stevenson, Randolph and Cheston, 1768-1775,” 202, 222; Darlas, Black Townsmen, 75; Ward, The War for Independence and Transformation of American Society, 215; Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town,’ 27.

[11] Eugene Irving McCormac. White servitude in Maryland, 1634-1820. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1902. pp. 32; Middleton, Simon, and Smith Billy G. “Class and Early America: An Introduction.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 63, no. 2 (2006): 219; Allan Kulikoff. Tobacco and Slaves: The Development of Southern Cultures in the Chesapeake, 1680-1800. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1986. pp. 425; Olson, Baltimore, 15.

[12] John Adams diary 28, 6 February – 21 November 1777 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society (entry for Feb. 23, 1777).

[13] John Adams diary 28, 6 February – 21 November 1777 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society (entry for Feb. 28, 1777).

[14] Brooks and Rockel, A History of Baltimore County, 107; Hunter, Brooke. “Wheat, War, and the American Economy during the Age of Revolution.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 62, no. 3 (2005): 510, 516, 522, 524; Cometti, Elizabeth. “Inflation in Revolutionary Maryland.” The William and Mary Quarterly 8, no. 2 (1951): 230; George W. Howard. The Monumental City, Its Past History and Present Resources. Baltimore: J.D. Ehlers and Co., 1873. pp. 25; Steffen, The Mechanics of Baltimore, 10-11; Olson, Baltimore, 10; Shammas, Carole. “The Space Problem in Early United States Cities.” The William and Mary Quarterly 57, no. 3 (2000): 505-506, 509.

[15] Steffen, Charles G. “Changes in the Organization of Artisan Production in Baltimore, 1790 to 1820.” The William and Mary Quarterly 36, no. 1 (1979): 103, 113.

[16] Mark N. Ozer. Baltimore: Persons and Places. Baltimore: Garden Publishing, 2013. pp. 37; Olson, Baltimore, 10.