Saturday, July 5, 2008


I've been doing a lot of work on my genealogy project lately, which is why I haven't posted about knitting in awhile. Yesterday's 4th of July celebrations gave me the idea of writing about my ancestors who participated in the Revolutionary War. While I am distantly connected, but not related, to such people as Nathan Hale and Benjamin Franklin (by a second marriage to an uncle in the case of Hale and to a grandaunt in the case of Franklin), I am related to John Adams, the second President. I am a one-half third cousin, eight times removed to be exact. There are 12 generations between me and our common ancestor.

However, I can claim direct lineage to at least four patriots who are not so well known.

Abner Adams: The first on my list is another Adams whom I have not been able to connect to the famous John yet—Abner Adams of Pomfret (later Brooklyn), CT. Abner "turned out for the relief of Boston [he was a lieutenant in the Lexington Alarm], served in the New York campaign as a corporal and was taken prisoner at the surrender of Fort Washington. In 1777, he was appointed captain of a train band by the Assembly," according to DAR records. He was most likely drawn into the militia by Gen. Israel Putnam who was also from Pomfret. Abner was 41 years old at the time of his capture and somehow survived and lived to the age of 89 years.

Asa Stevens: Asa died Friday July 3, 1778 in Wyoming Valley, PA, (or Westmoreland, CT, depending on your source. The land was in dispute as to whether it belonged to CT or PA at the time) at 44 years of age. Asa had moved with his family from CT to Wilkes Barre, PA, and was serving as lieutenant under Col. Zebulon Butler when he was killed at the Massacre of Wyoming. Of the four hundred Connecticut men in the fight, less than one hundred escaped. A monument has been erected near the battlefield that has Asa's name on it.

Friday, July 3. This morning Col. Zebulon Butler, leaving a small number to guard the fort, (Wilkesbury) crossed the river with about 400 men, and marched into Kingston fort. The enemy sent in a flag demanding the surrender of the fort in two hours. Col. Butler answered he should not surrender, but was ready to receive them. They sent in a second flag, demanding an immediate surrender, otherwise the fort should be stormed, plundered and burnt, with all its contents, in a few hours – and said that they had with them 300 men. Col. Z. Butler proposed a parley, which being agreed to, a place in Kingston was appointed for the meeting; to which Col. Z. Butler repaired with 400 men, well armed, but finding nobody there, he proceeded to the foot of the mountain, where at a distance he saw a flag, which as he advanced, retired as if afraid, 20 or 30 rods; he following, was led into an ambush, and partly surrounded by the enemy, who suddenly rose and fired upon them. Notwithstanding the great disproportion of 1600 to 400, he and his men bravely stood and return the fire for three quarters of an hour, with such briskness and resolution, that the enemy began to give way and were upon the point of retiring; when one of Col. Z. Butler’s men, either through treachery or cowardice, cried out that the Colonel ordered a retreat – This caused a cessation of their fire, threw them into confusion and a total rout ensued. The greatest part fled to the river, which they endeavored to pass to Fort Wilkesbury, the enemy pursued them with the fury of Devils, many were lost or killed in the river, and no more than about 70, some of whom were wounded, escaped to Wilkesbury.

The Boston Gazette and Country Journal, Monday August 3, 1778

Jonathan Stevens: Jonathan Stevens was the son of Asa. At the time of the massacre, the surviving wives and children fled down the Susquehanna to safety. After returning to find their homes burned, they somehow made their way back to CT. Jonathan was only 14 years old then. When he turned 16, he joined the army of the Revolution to fight. According to DAR records, Jonathan "enlisted in Capt. Samuel Williams' company. He engaged in the battle of Valentine's Hill [in Yonkers, NY]. He received a pension, 1832, for service as a private in Capt. Williams company and Col. Samuel Webb's Connecticut regiment." After the war, Jonathan married Abner's daughter, Eleanor Adams, and together they found their way back to PA where the last eight of their ten children were born. It took them four years to complete the journey and several more before they finally settled down.

Andrew Ney: Andrew was born in Lower Mt. Bethel, PA in 1753. He was a private in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown. Later he joined Col. Jacob Stroud's Pennsylvania Regiment who fought Indians "beyond the mountains." Andrew is a new person in my database, so I have not fully researched the details of his life yet.

There are other ancestors that I will be able to include on this list eventually when I am able to find out more about them. Families were disrupted by the war and were on the move in the years following the war which makes it difficult to find their records. But the fun of doing genealogy is the mystery of their lives and the wealth of knowledge gained from learning their histories.

No comments:

Post a Comment