21. The Power of Convergence, Part 2: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

In a previous blog entry, 17. The Power of Convergence, Part 1: Francis Drake, I described the use of the web to find a reference imperfectly cited to me about 45 years previously. Entering three names said to appear in the record, I quickly located the reference using Google Search, and found that it was available in free, downloadable form. That in turn allowed me to dispell the myth that my ancestor Francis Drake, of New Hampshire and New Jersey, was originally of West Meath, Ireland.

Thus the convergent power of the web, something unimagined 45 years ago, provided information that significantly impacted on a genealogical conclusion. Each of the three names entered alone produced thousands of hits — to be specific, about 695,000 for Francis Drake, 63,400 for Thomas Temple, and 231,000 for Richard Saunders — but when entered simultaneously, convergence was found on one unique source that matched information I had been given decades earlier. Using it, I was able to draw a negative conclusion about the origin of my ancestor .

But what about more positive instances? Can convergence be used to support, not just dispel relationships? In my experience the answer is yes — especially if you start with a known “starter” relationship.

“Starter” Relationships

A “starter” relationship is between two people, known to be of the same family, each connected to a number of possibly associated records. Looking for overlap among the possible associations is what allows for convergence. For example if a possible origin (among several) of one person matches a possible origin (among several) of a related person, there is a fair chance that the match indicates their common origin.

Brotherly love

In my experience the starter relationship is usually between brothers. This is probably due to the fact that brothers usually have the same surname, while married sisters, or a married sister and a brother, typically do not. Therefore brothers tend to be known to a greater extent than other sibling pairs.

To illustrate the power of convergence in such situations, I briefly present two case studies involving brothers.

The Slack Brothers

In tracing my Slack ancestors, attention quickly settled on two contemporaries who settled in Mason county, Kentucky, about the same time prior to 1800. One, John Slack, seemed most likely to be our ancestor, but for a time we could not rule out the other, Jacob Slack. I wrote about this problem in my very first blog entry (1. John Slack of Mason County, Kentucky: Poverty and a Glittering Past), and there is no point in rehashing it here. For present purposes it is enough to state that we believed the two men to be brothers. How could this fact be used to determine their origin?

Census records in this case proved to provide the initial point of convergence. By examining the 1790 census nationwide, using the web resource Ancestry.com, it was found that a John Slack and a Jacob Slack both appeared as heads of household in the 1790 census of Harford county, Maryland. With research attention turned to Maryland, I quickly located an 1816 deed by which Jacob Slack of Mason county, Kentucky, sold a share of land in Harford county. There could be no doubt: The intermediate place of origin of the two brothers was Harford county.

But where were they from before that? Web searches turned up the next point of convergence. John and Jacob Sleght, sons of Hendrick Sleght, were baptized respectively in May 1746 and July 1757 in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, dates initially found on the web but later confirmed in printed church records. A number of other circumstances matched as well — among them, evidence from Kentucky and Maryland that John was significantly older than Jacob, and a gravestone in Kentucky giving an age for Jacob that was closely consistent with the baptismal record.

This discovery made it possible not just to identify the father of the brothers, but to add multiple ancestral lines tracing back in some cases many generations. It was a major windfall discovery.

While there were a number of facts possibly associated with John, and a number possibly associated with Jacob, it was the convergence of information across both that allowed the discovery of their origin. To fully appreciate the importance of that, consider what would have happened had I known only of John Slack. I would have found multiple possible places of origin in census and tax records, and would have been at a loss when attempting to identify which pertained. It was the known “starter” relationship of John to Jacob that solved the problem.

The Altrate (Altred) Brothers

My ancestor Christopher Altrate (Altred; Alteriedt) arrived at Philadelphia in 1749, and was in Frederick county, Virginia, by 1760. He resided in Winchester, and there became one of the founders of the town’s Evangelical Lutheran church. In his will, made in 1765, he referred to property that would come to him in Youghstousen, Germany. Christopher had an apparent brother named Michael Altred, who had been fined in 1761 in Frederick county for being absent from a muster, and who stood security for Christopher’s widow when she administered his estate.

The name of the German location proved problematic, because there is no Youghtstousen in Germany. A query directed to a genealogy forum elicited the same response from two native German speakers: In their opinion the location was probably Jagsthausen, in Württemberg.

Convergence in this case came from the ongoing indexing of German birth and christening records by the LDS Church. A record for Christoph Alteried showed a birth date of 16 Apr 1724, as recorded in the Evangelisch church, Ruchsen, Baden. That of his brother Georg Michael Alteriedt occurred on 5 Oct 1725, recorded in the same church. Both were sons of Johann Friederich Alteried by his wife Maria Agnes. Then came the best part, the discovery that Jagsthausen is only 6.5 road miles from Ruchsen [1]. The deal was sealed.

Again, the case illustrates the use of web-based information to provide convergence between brothers in a known starter relationship, this time using the online FamilySearch facility of the LDS Church (familysearch.org). Discovering the parents made it possible to trace a number of further generations in multiple family lines.

Other Brothers

A number of other examples could be described. They include the Barber family of Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, and co. York, England; the Bowers (Bauer) family of Berks county, Pennsylvania, Frederick co, Virginia, and Baden, Germany; and the Mosby family of Charles City county, Virginia, and co. Norfolk, England.   For full descriptions and references, and the ancestries of these families as well as those of the Slack and Altrate families, see The Omnibus Ancestry, available for download at Lulu.com.

In all of these cases, it was knowledge that two men were brothers that allowed the convergent power of the web to identify their common origin.


Keep in mind that merely finding the names of two brothers in earlier records at the same location is often insufficient to establish that the records concern those brothers. To take an extreme example, starting with the names of two brothers named John and James Smith would likely turn up hundreds of possible convergences, only one of which may be the proverbial needle in the haystack.

It’s only in the instance of rare names (first and/or last) that names alone might lead one to assume identity. The Altrates/Altreds are possibly a case in point, as the surname is rare, especially when appearing with the given names Christopher and Michael.

Nevertheless in all the cases cited, additional information was available that supported identity. The Altrates/Altreds were thought to have a property interest in Jagsthausen, only a few miles from the convergent location of Ruchsen. The Slack brothers, while having a moderately uncommon surname, were chiefly identified as the sons of Hendrick through their age spread and a close correspondence in birth and christening dates, along with other considerations that were described in the original blog entry.

Thus when applying a starter relationship to look for convergence on a common location, all known facts should be exploited to either confirm or disconfirm the convergence. In this regard the enterprise is similar to other applications of the genealogist’s craft.


[1] The sharp-eyed reader will have noticed that Ruchsen is in Baden while Jagsthausen is in Württemberg. Until 1846 Ruchsen was an exclave of Baden, being completely surrounded by Württemberg. In that year territories were exchanged that gave it land access to the rest of Baden. However, a border remained between Ruchsen and Jagsthausen (information retrieved from https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruchsen, 2016).

Picture attribution: Owner Jen’s Art & Soul, Brotherly Love, retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/frazzledjen/177002473. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.



7. Thomas McIntire, Revolutionary Hero

For more on the McIntire family and its ancestral connections to the Bachiler, Brown, Dungan, Holbrook, Large, Swift, Weaver, and Wing families, see The Omnibus Ancestry, available through Lulu.com.

When I moved to Alabama with my family in 2000, little did I know that I had a family member who played a role in the history of Mississippi, our immediate neighbor to the west. His name was Thomas McIntire, and he was my ancestor through my grandmother Opal Cecile Speece Bowers (McIntire > Speece > Bowers > Boles) [1]. I came across references to his Mississippi service about three years ago, during a routine search of web sources.

One would never have predicted future heroism from Thomas’ humble beginnings. He married in 1773, two years before the start of the Revolution, to Mary Bailey. His Virginia land stradding the border between Berkeley and Frederick counties was bounded by landmarks named Beargarden Ridge and Sleepy Creek, evoking the slow pace of life in the country. About a year later he built a grist mill, presumably to make meal from the corn that he and his neighbors grew [1].

What enticed Thomas to enlist in the American army in January 1776, and in Pennsylvania, is partially a matter of speculation. His father Charles had settled on land in Harrison county, (now West) Virginia, in 1773 [1]. The location was part of the frontier that experienced increasing tension with the Indians in 1774. While widespread Indian raids would not occur until 1777 [17], the perceived danger provoked a family decision to gather at a relatively safer point to the east [14]. The choice appears to have fallen on what would later be Fayette county, in southwestern Pennsylvania, part of territory Virginia claimed at the time and called Yohogania county.  Thus on 9 January 1778, Thomas sold a part ownership of Berkeley county land by power of attorney, and was then termed a resident of Yohogania county [15]. The person given a power of attorney was Dennis Springer, a known resident of Fayette county [16]; furthermore, in 1783, Charles’ widow Elender was living in what would become Fayette county [1].

It may that in Thomas’ eyes, the time to enlist had simply come. The Revolutionary War was over 8 months old, and Congress had authorized frontier enlistments the previous June [2]. Toward the end of 1775 there was a major, well-publicized action in progress against Quebec, the disastrous outcome of which would not be known until 10 days after Thomas’ enlistment on 8 January 1776 [3]. Then again, maybe it was simply an adventurous birthday present to himself, for he would turn 32 years of age the very next day, January 9th [1].

Thomas McIntire’s Early Service

Thomas enlisted as an ensign in the 3rd Pennsylvania Battalion of the Continental Army. He was quickly promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, and in November was in action at Ft. Washington [1]. The fort, at the northwestern corner of the present-day borough of Manhattan, New York, was the last remaining position of the American army following their defeat in the British campaign for New York. Gen. Washington issued a discretionary order to abandon it, but Col. Robert Magaw elected to defend it. The fort fell quickly when attacked on three sides, with 59 Americans killed, 96 wounded, and nearly 3000 captured [4]. Thomas McIntire was among the wounded and captured [1].

He spent the next 9 months in captivity, and was fortunate to be among the mere 30% of prisoners who survived. The rest died of starvation, exposure, or disease. It is likely that his status as an ensign resulted in better treatment than the enlisted men, with many officers given parole and allowed to roam the city [5]. He was exchanged in August 1777, meaning that he and other American officers were traded for imprisoned British officers [1].

The U.S.S. Rattletrap

Returning to western Pennsylvania, Thomas found that there was no vacancy for an ensign in his regiment [6], his previous 2nd Lt. rank apparently being an unrecognized field promotion. Instead he there became 1st Lt. of an “independent” company [1]. This designation was perhaps intentionally left vague for reasons of national security. For with this appointment, Thomas entered the pages of American history: His service was in connection with a secret raid down the Mississippi River, authorized directly by the Continental Congress under the command of Capt. James Willing [1].

The expedition had been envisioned by Col. George Morgan, of Ft. Pitt (later Pittsburgh), and endorsed by Gen. Benedict Arnold who suggested a force of 1500 men. In subsequent Congressional debate, Robert Morris of Pennsylvania emphasized the proceeds that would come from the seizure of British military provisions, as well as the benefits of an establishment of trade with Spanish New Orleans. In the end, a committee authorized recruitment of only 24 men, and the mission was trimmed back from attacking Mobile and Pensacola to delivering dispatches to Louisiana [7]. Or at least that is what the larger Congress was told; in fact Willing was secretly charged with seizing British property and selling it if possible [12, 13].

By Christmas 1777, Capt. Willing was in command of the armed boat U.S.S. Rattletrap and a force of 30 men. One of them was Lt. Thomas McIntire [7]. The boat is said to have been a galley with around ten oars and a stern sweep, armed with two swivel guns, much like that illustrated by artist Charles H. Waterhouse in “Willing’s Marine Expedition, February 1778” [12]. The Rattletrap was underway on the Ohio River by January 11th. Although spies became almost immediately aware of the expedition, the English thought it would turn north at the Mississippi River and attack Fort Kaskaskia in the southern part of what is now Illinois. More accurate intelligence reached British West Florida in February, but was discounted. Winter seemed an unlikely time for invasion [7].

WaterhouseBy the time the force reached the Yazoo River above Walnut Hills (now Vicksburg, Mississippi), it had swelled to about 100 men. On 18 February 1778, Lt. McIntire commanded an advance party in canoes that captured four British Indian agents at Walnut Hills, and two prominent Tories at Natchez, Mississippi. On the way to Natchez, the party captured a small boat. Repeating an epithet that Alexander McIntosh, one of its occupants, had reportedly used to refer to Willing, McIntire sardonically told him that the “damned scoundrel James Willing is come once more to pay you a Visit”. Natchez pledged neutrality on 21 February, an agreement assisted by rumors spread by the Americans that a force of 2000 men was on the way. Success bred success; nearly 100 more men joined the expedition [7].

The force proceeded southward, looting and sometimes burning Tory properties. McIntire continued downriver. On 23 February, aided by fog, he and his party captured the 16-gun English vessel Rebecca at Manchac, Louisiana [7, 8], which embarrassingly had been sent upriver to stop the Americans [12]. They then joined the main force which was granted asylum in New Orleans by Spanish Gov. Bernardo de Galvez. The Governor permitted the auction of captured Tory property, netting $62,000, as well as the purchase of supplies, and provided public buildings as barracks. Other British ships, their cargoes, and Tory property including slaves were captured while the American force was there. One Engish trading brig, the Neptune, was captured by a mixed party of American, French, and Spanish boatmen led by McIntire and another Lieutenant [12].

On 14 March, the British positioned the ship Sylph near New Orleans. Its captain, John Fergusson, sent a message to Galvez protesting the Governor’s warm reception of the Americans. When that wasn’t answered promptly he sent a second, adding a new complaint. He had received an insult from “a person who is a Rebel”, a certain Lt. McIntire:

… [Lt. McIntire] placed himself opposite to His Majesty’s Ship under my Command and made use of several threats, and provoking speeches, which I forbare to resent, out of respect to your Nation. [7]

Galvez was reportedly highly amused by McIntire’s actions. For his part McIntire was lucky: It was only for fear of a provoking a confrontation with Spain that Fergusson hadn’t taken action against him. Instead the captain demanded that the “Rebel” be handed over for punishment. Galvez politely declined, stating that since the offense was in words the punishment should be as well [7].

The Sylph was soon joined by a second British ship, the Hound, increasing tensions in Spanish New Orleans. Conditions north of the city deteriorated for the Americans, as the British reasserted control over the east bank of the Mississippi [7].

In August 1778 most of the American force left under Spanish safe conduct, marching through Louisiana to Fort Kaskaskia. However, Capt. Willing, Lt. McIntire, and a few others remained behind. On 15 November, despite the presence of British ships patrolling the waterways out of New Orleans, they escaped the city aboard a sloop bound for Philadelphia. Unfortunately this was captured by a British privateer off Delaware. Willing was carried to Long Island, New York, where he was imprisoned for some time before being exchanged [7, 12].

And what of Thomas McIntire? Incredibly, after Willings’ departure he and a companion retook the sloop and ran it aground on the eastern shore of Maryland, making good their escape. After writing a memorial on his service to the Board of War in Philadelphia, McIntire was promptly promoted to Captain [1].

Subsequent Service

Beginning in March 1779, Capt. Thomas McIntire commanded an independent company assigned to Fort Pitt. He served with that company in Col. Daniel Brodhead’s Expedition in August and September of that year, proceeding up the Allegheny River into New York, destroying Seneca Indian villages and crops and thus bringing some relief to Pennsylvania settlers from Indian raids [1]. McIntire personally delivered Brodhead’s dispatch on the expedition to George Washington at West Point, New York [11]. For their services, Brodhead and his officers received the thanks of the Continental Congress and Gen. Washington specifically [1].

Late in September 1779, Capt. McIntire and his company were equipped as light dragoons. In July of the following year he was again in action. Wyandot Indians had conducted a raid near Fort McIntosh (now Beaver, Pennsylvania), killing four reapers and capturing a fifth.  As Brodhead subsequently reported to Washington:

Captain [Thomas] McIntyre ambushed Indians on their return, sunk two canoes, killed a number of Indians [later revealed from Indian informants to be 18 or 19, with others missing], took much plunder, and retook prisoner. [11]

To this, Gen. Washington replied in August 1780:

I am pleased to hear of the success of the parties under Captains Brady and McIntire to whom you will be pleased to express my thanks for their conduct. These affairs tho’ apparently small have considerable influence upon Indians. [11]

Underlining the problem of obtaining long-term peace on the frontier, in 1791 Thomas McIntire’s brother John and John’s wife Rachel were killed by Indians in Harrison county, (West) Virginia [14].


Thomas McIntire was “deranged” in January 1782, a military term indicating that he was decommissioned because of downsizing. He was variously taxed in Berkeley or Frederick county in the 1780s, but also acquired land in Harrison county, (West) Virginia [1]. In the 1st Congress of the United States, meeting 1789-1791, “Thomas McIntyre” was among those Revolutionary officers whose names were brought forward for commutation pay. The bill was tabled, but it was revived and passed both the House and Senate in the 2nd Congress [9].

There has been much debate over the impact of the Willing raid in which he played so prominent a role. The expedition had short-term negative consequences in turning many Mississippi inhabitants against the United States. However, it also revealed the military vulnerability of British West Florida [10]. Arguably in the long run it benefitted the nation by contributing to Gov. Galvez’ decision to seize Natchez and Pensacola in 1779-1781. With Spain having entered the war as a French (and thus U.S.) ally in 1779, a loss for Britain was a gain for the United States. No doubt Thomas McIntire experienced some small sense of satisfaction when a portion of West Florida was annexed into the nation’s Mississippi Territory in 1812.

A year later Thomas wrote a letter to his children in McIntire.1813.letterOhio [1]:

November ye 18th – 1813 respeted suns and daughters I take this opertunety to rite to you to aquant you that I am in resenable health at present as good as I can expet for old age …

… in generl is all well we have had a very bad Season for crops that caused corn to be very indefrent …

The slow pace of life in the country had long since reasserted itself. Thomas McIntire, Revolutionary Hero, died seven years later, at the age of 76 [1].

For more on the McIntire family and its ancestral connections to the Bachiler, Brown, Dungan, Holbrook, Large, Swift, Weaver, and Wing families, see The Omnibus Ancestry, available through Lulu.com.


[1] Boles, D.B. (2016). The Omnibus Ancestry, available through Lulu.com.

[2] Information retrieved from http://www.san.beck.org/13-5-WarofIndependence.html (2015).

[3] Burnett, E.C. (1921). Letters of Members of the Continental Congress. Washington, DC: The Carnegie Institution, vol. 1.

[4] Information retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Fort_Washington (2015).

[5] Information retrieved from http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/2002_summer_fall/pows.htm (2015).

[6] Hannings. B. (2008). Chronology of the American Revolution. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company.

[7] Haynes, R.V. (1976). The Natchez District and the American Revolution. University Press of Mississippi.

[8] Information retrieved from http://www.vaiden.net/mississippi_highlights.html (2012).

[9] Ancestry.com. U.S. House of Representative Private Claims, Vol. 2 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.

[10] Haynes, R.V. (2000). Mississippi under British rule – British West Florida. Online article posted at http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/66/mississippi-under-british-rule-british-west-florida.

[11] Kellogg, L.P. (1917). Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio 1779-1781. Madison, Wisc: State Historical Society of Wisc.

[12] Smith, C.R. (1975). Marines in the Revolution. Washington, DC: History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps.

[13] La. Historical Quarterly, v. 15, pp. 5-36 (1932).

[14] Taylor, J.M., & Salisbury, L.M. (1981). Charles McIntire of Colonial Virginia. Sarasota, FL: private print, p. 14.

[15] Shuck, L.G. (1999). Berkeley Co, [W]Va Deeds and Will Abstracts. Apollo, PA: Closson Press.

[16] Irwin, R.B. (1987). A Springer Family History. Decorah, Iowa: Anundsen Publishing Co.

[17] Haymond, H. (1910). History of Harrison County, West Virginia. Morgantown, WVa: Acme Publishing Co.

Painting attribution: Charles H. Waterhouse, Willing’s Marine Expedition, February 1778. Artwork commissioned for and appearing in the government-press, uncopyrighted Marines in the Revolution (author Charles R. Smith; Washington, DC: History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1975), and thus believed to be in the public domain.

5. Isaac Linton, Revolutionary Fraud?

The connection to Isaac Linton, and his ancestry, is covered in The Omnibus Ancestry. It is available through Lulu.

For many years the only information we had about my ancestor Isaac Linton’s background was a preposterous family legend, related in a great-grandson’s letter in 1933:

I.W. Linton

Did father [I. W. Linton] ever tell you the story of his grandfather’s father? He told it to us one time and I copied it as he told it to me.

Greatgrandfather’s father was Sir William Linton of the British Navy. His name was Livingstone and he was knighted for bravery in action at the Battle of Trafalgar… I do not know whether his imagination had been working overtime or not but I tell to you as he told it to us. That was the only thing I have ever been told beyond greatgrandfather Isaac Linton. There appeared to be something that he did not care to talk about. [16]

Someone’s imagination was at work, for in his lifetime Isaac Linton completed a Revolutionary War pension application stating that he was born 1764 in Frederick county, Maryland [1]. Therefore his family had been in America for at least 40 years before the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar.

Nevertheless family legends often contain a grain of truth. As the years passed, the last sentence in particular kept replaying in my head: “There appeared to be something that he did not care to talk about.”

Isaac’s Revolutionary War Claim

Isaac Linton was my ancestor through my grandfather Forest Joseph Boles. He married in 1793 in Frederick county, Maryland, to Susanna Richards, and about 1804 moved with his family to Brooke county, (now West) Virginia [1].

In 1832, Isaac completed a Revolutionary War pension application stating details of his birth and service. He had been born in Oct 1764, he said. In Aug 1777 he “Volunteered to serve six months as a militia man”, but was soon retired from service after repairing barracks in Fredericktown. On 31 Oct or 1 Nov 1777 he was recalled to service to complete his 6 months. In Dec 1778 he was drafted for further service, mostly involving guarding British prisoners at Fredericktown barracks. He was discharged in Mar 1778, but in Aug 1779 was again drafted. Following his final draft in Jan 1780 his company searched for Tories, and he was part of the guard when three were hung. Isaac declared that he had no documentary evidence and knew of no one who could attest his service. He did, however, produce three character witnesses who swore that Isaac was “reputed and believed” to be a Revolutionary War veteran [16].

The result of Isaac’s application was protracted review, undoubtedly the result of disbelief that he initially served at age 12. Apparently it was assumed that at such a tender age he was a drummer, for in an 1835 restatement of his service, he responded, “I was not musician but private soldier”. Approval of his application was a near thing, as indicated both by the restatement and by a comment written in his file by W.G. Singleton, the man responsible for prosecuting application fraud [2]:

… this man is truly unfortunate in doty [duty] to say the least– If he is correct in his doty he is clearly wrong in everything else– my opinion is he is an impostur– by character I understand is vain-

Nevertheless a pension was granted, and began paying $50 annually [1].

Was Isaac a Revolutionary War Veteran?

One outstanding feature of genealogy is that it is cumulative. Records continually come to light that once transcribed or digitized become part of the permanent record. In the late 1980s or 1990s I became a beneficiary of the transcription process when I came across the only known Revolutionary-era record of Isaac Linton. It consisted simply of his name on an Oath of Fidelity and Support [1]. Although it had been transcribed and published in 1928, I only became aware of it through a 1985 reprinting.

The Oath of Fidelity and Support originated in an act of the Maryland Assembly in 1777. It required all free males over the age of 18, save those actively serving in the military, to renounce the King of England and to pledge allegiance to Maryland’s Revolutionary government. All oaths were to be completed before Mar 1778 [15], although in practice some were completed in that month. Isaac Linton took the oath in Prince Georges county, Maryland, about the month of Feb 1778.

There can be little doubt it was my ancestor who took the oath because he is the only one of the name who has been identified in Maryland at the time, following extensive search using highly cumulated records. Yet astute readers will recognize potential contradictions to Isaac’s pension application. First, the oath was taken in Prince Georges, not Frederick county. The locations are some distance apart. Yet Isaac testified that he served a cumulative total of 6 months from Aug 1777, with some time off in the middle; thus he was probably still in the militia in Frederick, by his account, when the oath was taken in Prince Georges. Of course the oath’s date is imprecise, as were his claimed dates of service, so there is some room for error. But note that the oath was only for males over age 18. Isaac, in other words, must have been born before 1761, not in 1764 as he claimed. That is a flat contradiction, and a very curious one. Given that claiming to have volunteered at age 12 was bound to raise questions, why would he have understated his true age?

Here we enter the realm of speculation, and readers are free to draw their own conclusions. However, I believe Isaac’s statement of age is the “smoking gun” strongly suggesting fraud in the pension application. I think that Isaac, knowing he had taken the oath and that it was for nonserving males age 18 and over, intentionally understated his age in order to dissociate himself from it. In other words if confronted with the oath, which implied that he had not served, he could claim that it was a different, older man named Isaac Linton. Certainly given the low degree of record cumulation in the first half of the 1800s, no one could say with certainty that another Isaac Linton hadn’t existed.

Other Considerations

My ancestor can’t defend himself, so it is fair to dig deeper into the record to see whether other details of his claim were true. In his application he made several mentions of officers under whom he claimed to have served. Those whose full names were given included Adjutant John Mimm, Capt. Ralph Hillary, Capt. John Burket, Capt. Moses Chapline, Lt. Joseph Madding, and Ens. Ralph Crabb. A Capt. Benjamin Murdock was also mentioned [16].

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 [9]. Isaac said that in early 1779, Continental officer Capt. Benjamin Murdock performed enlistment duty in Fredericktown.

Another who comes close was Capt. Ralph Hillary. One Elisha Griffith stated that he served under Ralph Hillary and mostly guarded prisoners and magazines at Fredericktown [6], an account similar to that of Isaac. However, pension applicants named Chisholm Griffith and James Ball indicated that after they enlisted under Capt. Hillary (in Griffith’s case in June 1777), they joined the army under Gen. Washington and fought at the battle of Germantown [4, 5] in Oct 1777. Isaac made no such claim.

The other names do not closely match known soldiers for a couple of reasons. Four show mismatching geography. The only John Mimm I can identify as a Revolutionary soldier was a Lt. from York county, Pennsylvania, in 1778 [3]. A John Burkett served in 1776, but as a Continental private from Calvert county, Maryland [7], not as Isaac stated a militia Capt. from Frederick county in 1779. A Joseph Madden (sic, Madding?) was a Lt., but from Virginia [10]. Finally, Ralph Crabb was a 2nd Lt. who enlisted for Continental service from the militia of Prince Georges co, Maryland, in Dec 1776 [11]. Crabb’s case is particularly problematic because Isaac said that Crabb was an Ensign in the Frederick county militia in 1777, an error in both location and rank.

That leaves Capt. Moses Chapline, perhaps the most interesting case of all. He was of some prominence in early portions of the Revolutionary War, but resigned from the Continental service in Oct 1777 [9]. Isaac indicated he served under him for 3 months beginning in Jan 1780, during the search for Tories. However, I have been unable to locate convincing evidence of Chapline’s service as late as 1780. Although it is sometimes stated that he was wounded at the battle of Cowpens in 1780 [13], this may be a confusion with Samuel Chapline [12].

All told, these records are not good for Isaac’s credibility. Although some error might be expected because of the long delay between the Revolution and his pension application, his statements were so specific as to name and place as to call for evaluation using a fairly high standard. It is hard to see how his application statements meet that standard. Again readers are free to draw their own conclusions — but remember, “There appeared to be something that he did not care to talk about.”

A Final Irony

Interestingly, even if Isaac’s military service should be disallowed, female descendants still qualify for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. That is because signers of the Oath of Fidelity and Support are considered to have rendered a patriotic service [14]. Thus while Isaac’s oath may impeach his service statement, it also qualifies descendants for the D.A.R.

Should more substantial evidence of service be needed, Boles-Bowers descendants have about two dozen ancestral Revolutionary soldiers to choose from [1]. Barth-Hickey descendants have five [1]. Among all of these is at least one story for another day.

The connection to Isaac Linton, and his ancestry, is covered in The Omnibus Ancestry. It is available through Lulu.


[1] Boles, D.B. (2016). The Omnibus Ancestry. Available for download through Lulu.com.

[2] Information retrieved from http://www.southerncampaign.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Harris-SCAR-Summer-2014v5.pdf (2015).

[3] Information retrieved from http://archive.org/stream/continentalcongr00prow/continentalcongr00prow_djvu.txt (2015).

[4] Information retrieved from http://files.usgwarchives.net/md/frederick/military/revwar/pension/griffith-c.txt (2015).

[5] Information retrieved from http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~inallcem/soldiers/ball.html (2015).

[6] Information retrieved from http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=90704847 (2015).

[7] Information retrieved from http://aomol.msa.maryland.gov/000001/000018/html/am18–34.html (2015).

[8] Information retrieved from http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=jerry_bruhn&id=I299 (2015).

[9] Ancestry.com. Maryland Archives, 1658-1783 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2003.

[10] Information retrieved from http://www.geni.com/people/Joseph-Madden/6000000008104586849 (2015).

[11] Hienton, L.J. (no date). Prince George’s Heritage. Baltimore, Md: The Md. Historical Society.

[12] Newmarket News [N.H. newspaper], 14 May 1936.

[13] Dare, M.J.L. (1902). Chaplines from Maryland and Virginia. Washington, DC: The Franklin Print.

[14] Information retrieved from http://www.dar.org/national-society/acceptable-service (2015).

[15] Information retrieved from http://www.mdhs.org/findingaid/oaths-fidelity-or-oaths-allegiance-1775-1778-ms-3088 (2015).

[16] Boles, H.W., & Boles, D.B. (1986). Some Earlier Americans: Boles-Linton Ancestors. Decorah, Iowa: The Anundsen Publishing Co.  Available for download through Lulu.


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3. The Jolliffe Family Descent from Barbara Blaugdone, Quaker Sufferer

A genealogist constantly judges the relative worth of varying lines of evidence, sorting and sifting in an attempt to arrive at the truth. One excellent example of this is provided by the descent of the Jolliffe family of Frederick county, Virginia, from Barbara Blaugdone, Quaker sufferer and entrant in a number of books on women’s history.

Jolliffe, J. gravestoneI descend from John Jolliffe through my grandmother Audra Foster Boles.  John was born in Frederick county in 1768, and died in Johnson county, Indiana, in 1851 (though his gravestone, possibly placed at some delay after his death, says 1850).  John was the son of James Jolliffe (ca 1734?-1771).   The Quaker connection can be traced backward in time beginning with that generation. In 1759 James was disowned by Friends, as the Quakers were known, probably for marrying “out of unity” — in other words, to a non-Quaker (in this case Hannah Springer).

What is less certain is whether James’ father William Jolliffe, Sr., was also a Friend. William was placed on the roll of attorneys in Frederick county in 1743, and was subsequently known as the “Quakers’ lawyer”, having the law business of the local Hopewell Monthly Meeting. However, while a number of his family members were clearly in membership, William does not appear in that capacity in the meeting’s records. He is nevertheless said to have been buried in the meeting’s cemetery.

According to the much-cited Historical, Genealogical, and Biographical Account of the Jolliffe Family of Virginia, published by W. Jolliffe in 1893, William Jolliffe, Sr., was the son of Joseph Jolliffe and wife Ruth, of Norfolk county, Virginia. This assertion, however, rested on only the slimmest of evidence, specifically a then-existent family legend that Joseph and Ruth had a son James who had a brother William — who in turn had left the area and had never been heard from again. As the author noted, he was otherwise unable to find any record of William in Norfolk county. Nor does there appear to be a record of James there.

The assertion is troubling for two other reasons as well. First, Norfolk and Frederick counties are about 220 road miles apart, a long distance to bridge with an assumption that the same surname in both places indicates relationship. Second, the names of Joseph and Ruth do not appear among the known children of William (William, John, Edmund, and James), or the children of his son James (William, Ann, Drew, Elizabeth, John, and Margaret), an unusual circumstance at a place and time when namesakes were considered important.

A competing account of William Jolliffe’s origins was provided in more modern times by the discovery, published by Cecil O’Dell in 1995, that a William Jolliffe sold land in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, in 1736. This was only a year before William of Frederick county is first known to have appeared in Virginia, as he witnessed a deed in Orange county, one of two parent counties of Frederick county, in 1737.

Could these have been the same men? Further information published by O’Dell showed that one Cuthbert Hayhurst was an adjacent land owner when William Jolliffe sold the Bucks county land. And in what must surely have been a “Eureka!” moment, O’Dell found that Cuthbert Hayhurst witnessed a mortgage of William Jolliffe in Frederick county in 1767.

Which line of evidence should be believed? The 1893 account, recycled through countless publications and web pages, including a 1994 book by my father and myself? In other words, the account with a large geographical discrepancy, no record of William or his putative brother in Norfolk county, and no repetition of parental names? Or the account in which an adjacent landowner in Pennsylvania became William Jolliffe’s witness in Virginia? Clearly the latter, as otherwise the coincidence is astonomically improbable.

The Jolliffe Descent from Barbara Blaugdone

O’Dell also learned that William Jolliffe had a wife named Mary Sheppard, of New York City, who in 1726 had bought the land sold in 1736. His account stopped there, but in short order I was able to work out a descent from Barbara Blaugdone. Mary was the daughter of John Sheppard, a cooper in New York City, and his wife Mary Watts. That Mary, born 1677, was of Bristol Friends’ Monthly Meeting in Bristol, England, and was the daughter of John Watts by his wife Mary Blaugdone, daughter of Barbara Blaugdone. John, the name of Mary Sheppard Jolliffe’s father, was a name found among her children, and among those of her son James. While the name Mary is not known to appear among the children, the names of the daughters of William and Mary are unknown.

Barbara Blaugdone, Quaker Sufferer

Barbara Blaugdone, born Barbara Brock in 1609 but widow of a Blaugdone husband whose given name is not known, died in 1704 in London, England. Toward the end of her life, in 1691, she published a remarkable autobiographical sketch, An Account of the Travels, Sufferings, and Persecutions of Barbara Blaugdone. In her highly readable account, she noted that she was a teacher in Bristol, England, when she converted to Quakerism in 1654. After losing most of her students because of her “dangerous” beliefs, she became a preacher. She obtained the release of Quaker prisoners at Basingstoke in 1655, and over the following two years undertook missionary trips to Ireland, meeting at one point with Henry Cromwell, then major general of forces but later Lord Deputy of Ireland.

Preaching in western England in 1657, she was imprisoned at Marlborough and went on a short hunger strike. She did the same in Exeter and was whipped in prison. During these early years she was at least twice in mortal danger, once when stabbed and once when a bystander narrowly prevented a butcher from striking her head with his cleaver. She also suffered shipwreck and piracy. While imprisoned in Dublin a man confessed to her that he had borne false witness against 5 men and women. However, the judge would not hear her and hanged them all, causing her to recall, “And a heavy day it was, and I bore and suffered much that day”. In 1681 she was again imprisoned, in Bristol, and in 1683 was fined the large sum of £60 for failure to attend the Anglican church.

Barbara’s life and writing have been included in a number of books on women’s history. They include A Historical Dictionary of British Women (2005); Female Alliances: Gender, Identity, and Friendship in Early Modern Britain (2014); Life Writings (2001), a volume of the series Early Modern Englishwoman; and Reading Early Modern Women: An Anthology of Texts in Manuscript and Print, 1550-1700 (2003). Her monograph is also frequently cited in Quaker histories.

What Was Barbara Blaugdone’s Background?

As forthcoming as Barbara was about her sufferings, she was remarkably circumspect when it came to her own family background. Yet sprinkled throughout her writing are references that suggest she may have been of the upper class, and that she consorted with nobility prior to becoming a Quaker. Thus, writing of a trip to Devonshire in 1654/5, she stated, “I went to the Earl of Bath’s, where I had formerly spent much time in vanity”, and that when she asked to speak to the countess, she “never asked me to go into her house, although I had eaten and drank at her table, and lodged there many a time”. Then of her imprisonment in Dublin, Ireland, which occurred about 1656, she wrote “there were some friends of mine, namely — Sir William King, Colonel Fare [sic, Fane?; see below], and the Lady Browne … came to see me, and they would needs go to this judge, to get me released . . . [they] told him they had known me from a child, and there was no harm in me at all”.

These references highlight a second aspect of genealogy, i.e., that it is never complete. The classical example is that every generation traced provides two parents to be further traced. In this case real persons were named in Barbara’s account to whom, potentially, she may have been related. The “Earl of Bath’s” must have been the Devonshire estate of the recently deceased Henry Bourchier, 5th (or 6th) Earl of Bath, whose widow was Rachel Fane, daughter of the Earl of Westmorland. Rachel had a brother Col. George Fane, whose son Sir Henry Fane was confirmed an estate near Limerick, Ireland, in 1668. Also near Limerick were the substantial lands of Sir William King and his wife Barbara Boyle, widow of Sir John Brown.

Barbara herself hinted that she may have been from Ireland, for she noted of her visit to Cork that “I was made to call to my relations and acquaintance … I came to witness that a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country”. It is possible that somewhere among the repeating names of Fane, King, and Brown, in Ireland, lies the origin of Barbara Blaugdone. Perhaps it merely awaits an enterprising genealogist to discover.

All references for the above statements are given in two volumes. The first is the all-in-one ancestry, The Omnibus Ancestry. That work updates and corrects, in brief form, material in the much more detailed volume, Ellis Ancestors: Some Immigrants, Colonists, and Pioneers (1994). Both books are available for download through Lulu.

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