32. Our Cousins The Scientists: John Bartram, William Bartram, and John Dalton

My wife and I are scientists — behavioral scientists, to be sure, but scientists nevertheless. Today such occupations are not unusual, but two or three hundred years ago they were almost unheard of in a world where most people made their living off the land.

I have written before about two protoscientists in our family tree. Thomas Ashton and Edmund Trafford, of co. Lancaster, England, practiced alchemy in the 15th century, claiming to have “discovered an elixir that restored youth and changed base metals into gold and silver”.

Not truly scientists, alchemists nevertheless displayed certain scientific characteristics. These included notions of causation – one idea, for example, was that different metals were alloys that could be transmuted into precious metal by driving out impurities – and the use of experiments to further knowledge. They departed from science in the haphazardness of their efforts, the use of religious metaphor to support their endeavors (e.g., Christ’s torments reflected in the alchemical torment of metals), and the failure to properly cumulate results (which if nothing else should have led to an earlier abandonment of their efforts). As a result in the end they contributed little to the science of chemistry [7, 8].

However, there are three true scientists in our family background who made more substantial contributions than the alchemists. Unlike Thomas Ashton and Edmund Trafford they are not direct ancestors, but rather cousins of varying degree.

John Bartram

John Bartram was born in 1699, the son of William Bartram, a Quaker of Darby township, (now) Delaware county, Pennsylvania, and the grandson of John Bartram, who in 1682 had immigrated to the colony with his family from co. Derby, England.

John educated himself in botany, medicine, and surgery while supporting himself as a farm laborer. In 1728 he created the first American botanical garden in Kingsessing, now part of Philadelphia and still in existence as “Bartram’s Garden”, a national historic landmark [1].

He began actively collecting native American plants and seeds of all types, many of which he forwarded to London naturalist Peter Collinson. For that purpose he began undertaking long-range travel across the eastern half of the American continent. A keen observer, he experimented with plant hybrids in his Kingsessing garden. However, he was not a systematist like Carolus Linnaeus, the creator of the genus and species classifications we know today. Nevertheless Linnaeus called him the greatest “natural botanist” in the world, and in 1765 George III appointed Bartram as Botanist to the King. John died in 1777 [1, 2].

John Bartram
John Bartram (reputed)

Today Bartram is best known for his 1751 book, Observations on the Inhabitants, Soil, Divers Productions, etc., Made by John Bartram in His Travels from Pennsylvania to Onondaga, Oswego, and the Lake Ontario. He is commonly regarded as “the father of American botany” [1].

Through the Bowers and Stayman side of the family, my relatives and I descend from the scientist’s grandfather, the immigrant John Bartram. We are therefore first cousins several times removed from the botanist.

William Bartram

Like his father John, William Bartram (1739-1823) was a noted botanist and writer, as well as an artist, naturalist, ethnographer, and explorer. His Travels Through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws (1791) was initially published in Philadelphia, but soon after was reprinted in London, Dublin, Berlin, and Paris, the latter two places in translation [1].

William Bartram
William Bartram

Although he discovered a number of new plants – and resented that he did not receive more recognition for it – William’s fame as a naturalist is based on his great skill as an illustrator of both flora and fauna. This was something that was evident by his teens, and he became progressively more accomplished as he aged. He also continued to maintain the garden at Kingsessing, to which he added new species [3].

John and William Bartram home and garden


In 1808, William sat for a portrait by the famous artist Charles Wilson Peale. A reproduction accompanies. My close relatives and I are William’s second cousins several times removed.

John Dalton

John Dalton was born in 1766 in Eaglesfield, co. Cumberland, England, the son of a Quaker weaver named Joseph Dalton. Joseph’s parents were Jonathan and Abigail (Fearon) Dalton. It was Abigail who provided our ancestral link, for my close relatives and I descend from the Fearon family [4, 5].

At a young age John undertook a course on surveying and navigation, and came to the attention of Eliju Robinson, his relation and a man of means who provided further educational opportunity. He began teaching school in Eaglesfield at the tender age of 12, and studied under John Gough, a blind scholar who taught him the classical languages, mathematics, and natural philosophy [5].

John began his scientific inquiries with a weather diary, using a barometer, thermometer, and hygroscope of his own construction. In 1793, he became a teacher of mathematics, natural philosophy, and chemistry in the New College of Manchester. A year later he read a paper on his own defective color vision to the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, to which he had been elected a short time previously [5].

In 1795, Dalton began the investigations into chemistry and physics that were to lead to his greatest successes. His early work was on the circulation of heat in fluids, and on the relationship between temperature and compression. In the course of studying diffusion, he began to experiment with different elemental gases such as oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen. Studying the absorption of the gases by water, he speculated that absorption was determined by the weight of the gas particles. Although that proved incorrect, it led directly to his successful attempts to assign weights to elements [5].

Developing his ideas over the opening years of the 19th century, Dalton proposed that elements are made of tiny particles called atoms, which differ in size and mass from the atoms of other elements. In addition, elements were proposed to combine in whole-number ratios during chemical reactions to form compounds [4].

Dalton proceeded to publish tables of atomic weights, starting with only five elements, including hydrogen which he assigned a weight of one — a unit now unofficially called a dalton. By 1808, he had included 20 elements in his scheme, and by 1827, 36. These concepts and discoveries allowed the rapid advancement of the field of chemistry [4].

John Dalton

Today Dalton is regarded as the father of atomic theory [4]. He died in 1844, having achieved fellowship in the Royal Society, corresponding membership in the French Académie des Sciences, and foreign honorary membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences [6].

My close relatives and I are related to John Dalton through the Bowers and Snyder side of the family. We descend from John Fearon, Sr., of Eaglesfield (d. Jan 1661/2), the grandfather of Abigail Fearon Dalton. John Dalton is our third cousin several times removed [4].

The Bartram genealogical material cited in this article, and our connection to it, is available in the Stayman-McCrosky Ancestry, which can be downloaded at Lulu.com. The Dalton-Fearon material is in The Omnibus Ancestry: 619 Documented American and European Lines, likewise downloadable at Lulu.com.


[1] Boles, D.B., & Boles, H.W. (2000). Stayman-McCrosky Ancestry. Tuscaloosa, AL: private print. Available for download at Lulu.com.

[2] Information retrieved from http://biography.yourdictionary.com/john-bartram (2017).

[3] Slaughter, T.P. (1996). The Natures of John and William Bartram. NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

[4] Boles, D.B. (2017). The Omnibus Ancestry: 619 Documented American and European Lines.  Available for download at Lulu.com.

[5] Millington, J.P. (1906). John Dalton. London: J.M. Dent & Co.

[6] Information retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dalton (2017).

[7] von Meyer, E. (1891). A History of Chemistry from Earliest Times to the Present Day. London: Macmillan and Co.

[8] Nummedal, T. (2013). Alchemy and religion in Christian Europe. Ambix, vol. 60, pp. 311-322.

Picture Attributions

John Bartram: Public domain. A controversial portrait, it is not universally accepted as one of John; and if it is of John, it may nor may not be from life. Nevertheless it has inscribed on the back, in an apparent 18th-century hand, “Portrait of John Bartram of Darby died 1777 … C.W. Peale Artist. Property of Isaac Bartram 1795.” (Slaughter, op. cit.).

William Bartram portrait: Public domain.

John and William Bartram home and garden: “Jtfry at English Wikipedia”, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

John Dalton: Public domain.


31. Three Printed Books

Although my blog entries have emphasized downloadable publications, Bolesbooks actually offers three printed books that are otherwise unavailable in electronic form. Yes, that’s right: Real paper and real binding! They’re described below, but for access to indexes, prices, and ordering information, please visit the Bolesbooks web site.

Barth-Hickey Ancestry

(358 pages, softbound). With the additional familes of Bodine, Bowman, Brown, Brownlee, Burnett, Crocheron, Drury, Finch, French, Greiner, Gullett, Heisdorfer, Housh, Langham, Malmberg, Martin, McClain, McMurtrie, Millard, Mills, Phillips, Reynolds, Robinson, Rung, Russell, Shercliffe, Sinnott, Spinke, Swanson, Wilson, and Wolcott. Includes pictures.  Limited copies remaining; will not be reprinted.

The Barth-Hickey Ancestry covers a particularly strong concentration of families from St. Mary’s co, Md, especially Catholic families in the 1600s and 1700s. Other major geographic areas variously inhabited by Protestant or Catholic ancestors were Iowa, Ind, and NJ; Macon co, Ill; Nelson co, Ky; Washington co, Pa; Somerset co, Md; and Augusta co, Va. Other names, areas, and periods are also represented.

Speece-Robinson Ancestry

(222 pages, softbound). Co-author Harold W. Boles. With the additional families of Addams, Altruth, Auliffe, Bailey, Brown, Cole, Conklin, Cunningham, Dick, Dobbs, Doors, Flexney, Gobels, Hinds, McIntire, op den Graeff, Pletges, Princehouse, Rossiter, Tarpley, Tomey, and Williams. And Addenda on the Adams, Bachiler, Dungan, Holbrook, Large, Latham, Swift, Weaver, and Wing Families. Includes pictures.  Very limited copies remaining; will not be reprinted.

The Speece-Robinson Ancestry covers a number of families from Champaign and Shelby counties, Ohio; Frederick co, Va; Berkeley and Morgan counties, WVa; Bucks and Philadelphia counties, Pa; what is now Union co, NJ; New England; and England, Ireland, and Germany. The American coverage is particularly strong in the 1700s and 1800s, but there is a substantial segment of material from the 1600s as well. Other names, areas, and periods are also represented.

Withers-Davis Ancestry

(427 pages, hardbound). Co-author Harold W. Boles. With the additional families of Abraham, Babb, Bachiler, Chandler, Collet, David, Davies, Hollingsworth, Hussey, Jefferis, Lewis, Martin, May, Nash, Nowell, Perkins, Powell, Ree, Roberts, Sloper, Tarrant, Wise, Wood, and Woolaston. Also numerous Welsh families ancestral to William, David, and Ralph Lewis, and John Bevan, plus their royal descents.  Will not be reprinted.

The Withers-Davis Ancestry covers a large concentration of families from the area of Chester and Delaware counties, Pennsylvania; New Castle co, Delaware; New England; co. Wilts, England; and co. Glamorgan and surrounding areas of Wales. Many though by no means all of the families were Quaker. Coverage in America is particularly heavy in the 1600s and 1700s, making the book indispensable to those seeking their colonial roots. Other names, areas, and periods are also represented.



NEW BOOK! Origins and Descendants of James Bole

I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book, The Origins and Descendants of James Bole of Westmoreland and Armstrong Counties, Pennsylvania.  At this Lulu link, under “More Detail”, you can obtain a preview before deciding whether to buy.

Many years in the making, and coming in at 411 pages, the book covers the revised ancestry and descendants of James Bole (1752-1836), who married Mary Painter and settled in Westmoreland and Armstrong counties, Pennsylvania. The couple have left family spread throughout the nation. The book contains full references and an every-name index. Maps and photos are included. The volume supersedes the obsolete 1986 publication by providing the true origins of the family, adding many descendants, and correcting a number of errors.  The Scottish and Irish background of the family is treated at length.

There is a full index in the Lulu preview, or you can consult it using the link provided at my Bolesbooks publication website.  I’m happy to introduce so many long-lost Kelburn Boyle descendants!

16. The Good and the Bad of Abstracted Records, and the Ugly Case of Luther Martin

Ancestral research is rewarding, but record access becomes more and more problematic as pursuit goes on. The more generations that are traced, the more likely it is that ancestors lived far away. The trip to the courthouse that sufficed for recent generations becomes prohibitively expensive for remote ones, a problem magnified by an ever increasing number of ancestral lines.

One alternative is to rent microfilms of original records through the Family History Libraries of the LDS Church. However, at several dollars a reel this can itself become pricey. As a result most researchers gladly turn to abstracted records to avoid the expense as well as time and trouble of consulting the originals.

Whether published in book form, left unpublished in manuscript form, or posted to the web, abstracts are a compact and convenient means of accessing hundreds to thousands of records that might otherwise be poorly accessible. However, with this convenience comes not only the good, but the bad and the ugly.

The Good

Abstracters are the saints of the genealogy community. They contribute hundreds of hours of their own labor to save others from a similar investment. Although some obtain compensation from sales of their volumes to libraries and individuals, it’s a safe guess that very few are able to trade their day jobs for full-time pursuit of poorly decipherable script on fading pages.

The good news is that abstracters are often local history experts, having spent many years pursuing their own research in the immediate geographical area of their abstracted material. This generally leads to greater accuracy. Local history experts know which names commonly appear in a given period of time and which do not, with the latter calling for greater scrutiny. They may also have extensive experience with the handwriting of the clerks who created the original records.

As another “good”, did I mention that abstracts save great time and expense? Throughout what follows, this needs to be remembered.

The Bad

As in any genealogical enterprise, mistakes are made during the abstraction of public records. Some errors are simple mistakes of detail, for example, a misread place name or date. Some have greater impact, as when a personal name is misread. If the given name James was abstracted as Jacob, and you are looking for James, you may discount as irrelevant a record pertaining to your ancestor. Errors in family names are even more impactful, because as a researcher you will likely miss the records completely.

Abstracts of gravestone inscriptions have these same problems, magnified by the weathering of stone. In the 1960s my father and I abstracted the gravestone of a James Bole in Freeport, Armstrong county, Pennsylvania, as indicating that he died in 1854, age 78. Decades later it was discovered that the age was actually 73, as reported in an abstract that had been made in 1903 when the stone was less weathered. Furthermore the younger age was backed by a contemporary merchant’s diary in 1854 stating that James had just died, age 73 [2]. In my experience, and certainly in this one, the digits “8” and “3” are frequently confused. So are “1”, “4”, and “7”, and “5” and “6”. Weathering easily obscures short segments of numbers and letters, making one resemble another.

Another high-impact error is the complete omission of records. This can happen in a moment of inattention during the abstraction of text, or when two pages are turned instead of one.

How bad can it get? Occasionally, an earlier volume of abstracts is so riddled with errors that an entirely new effort is undertaken. One example with which I am familiar is C.G. Chamberlayne’s 1937 volume, The Vestry Book and Register of St. Peter’s Parish, New Kent and James City Counties, Virginia, 1684-1786. One of the motivations for its publication was specifically to correct numerous errors in a 1904 publication, The Parish Register of St. Peter’s, New Kent County, Virginia, from 1680 to 1787.

The Ugly

I reserve the term “ugly” for abstraction errors so bad that they actually change the course of genealogical research. Fortunately these are rare.

486px-LutherMartinBigUnfortunately one of them concerns my wife’s putative near-descent from Luther Martin (1748-1826), a member of the Continental Congress and U.S. Constitutional Convention, as well as counsel for the defense in the 1807 treason trial of Aaron Burr. Through the Hickey and Robinson lines, my wife descends from a Washington county, Pennsylvania, settler named Zephaniah Martin, widely claimed on web pages to have been Luther’s brother. Both were certainly from New Jersey. In Zephaniah’s case he moved to Pennsylvania about the year 1786, coming from Mendham township, Morris county, New Jersey [2, 3].

Zephaniah’s relationship to Luther seems proved by a will abstract appearing in the New Jersey Archives, partially reproduced here:

1755, July 1. Martin, Benjamin, of Piscataway, Middlesex Co.; will of. Wife, Philerato. Sons — Benjamin, Nathanael, Peter. Daughter, Zerviah, wife of Jeremiah Blackford. Grandchildren– Athanasius, James, and Luther; Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Ruben, sons of Benjamin; Mary, Isaiah and Benjamin, children of John and Hannah Blackford; Benjamin and Nehemiah, children of Nehemiah and Elizabeth Bonham; Zerviah, daughter of Zedekiah and Anna Bonham…. [1]

From this, family historian Louise Martin Mohler quite reasonably concluded that my wife’s ancestor Zephaniah was a son of Benjamin Martin; a grandson of testator Benjamin Martin and his wife Philoretta; and a brother of the famous Luther Martin. She published an influential book stating exactly that, namely The Martin Family of America, first released in 1983 and then revised in 1987.

However, something about the abstract bothered me. In the intervening years I have forgotten what, but it may have been simply the semi-colon between Luther and Jeremiah. I wrote to Louise, questioning the Luther Martin relationship.

She then did something remarkable. She ordered a copy of the original will — and when the results turned out catastrophic for the Luther Martin relationship, she passed a copy along to me and admitted that an error had been made. Here is the corresponding section of the original will, with all details except the names and relationships removed for clarity:

… I Benjamin Martin of Pisataway in the County of Middlesex and Eastern Division of the province of New Jersey … unto my True and well beloved wife Philerata Martin … son Benjamin Martin … to his son Nathanael Martin … son Peter Martin … Athanasius Martin son of my said son Benjamin … [unreadable] him to Jeremiah Blackford son of John And Hannah Blackford … Grandson James Martin son of my said son Benjamin … Grandson Zephaniah Blackford son of John and Hannah Blackford … my grandson Reuben Blackford son of said John and hannah Blackford … Daughter Zerviah Blackford wife of Jeremiah Blackford … Grandson Benjamin Bonham son of Nehemiah and Elizabeth Bonham … grandson Hezekiah Bonham son of Nehemiah and Elizabeth Bonham … Grand Daughter Zerviah Bonham Daughter of Zedekiah and Anna Bonham … grand Daughter Mary Blackford Daughter of John and hannah Blackford … Grandson Luther Martin son of My said son Benjamin … Grandson Isaiah Blackford son of John and Hannah Blackford … Benjamin Blackford son of John and Hannah Blackford … [4]

Some of the heirs were renamed later in the document. But despite the presence of a few unreadable words, one thing that is crystal clear is that Zephaniah Martin was not named in the will. It is equally clear that the fundamental error in the New Jersey Archives abstract was that “Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Ruben, sons of Benjamin” were actually Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and Reuben, sons of John and Hannah Blackford. But there was another error as well: “Benjamin and Nehemiah, children of Nehemiah and Elizabeth Bonham”, were actually Benjamin and Hezekiah, children of Nehemiah and Elizabeth Bonham.

As it happened the loss of the connection between my wife’s ancestor Zephaniah Martin and Luther Martin was not completely catastrophic, although that was not known to me in the 1980s. Eventually they did prove to be related. In fact recently acquired records, covered in [2], have allowed the conclusion that Zephaniah Martin was the son of a James Martin of Middlesex and Morris counties, New Jersey. James was himself a great-grandson of immigrant John Martin (ca 1618-1687), who initially settled at Dover, New Hampshire, before moving to New Jersey. Zephaniah Martin and Luther Martin were 3rd cousins, not brothers.

Lessons Learned

Without question, abstracts are valuable resources in genealogical research. They make records available that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive and troublesome to collect. In my experience they are far more likely to be correct than incorrect.

The problem is that introducing human intervention between an original and its abstract unavoidably increases the chance of error. An additional factor is that the state of the original itself may be such that readings are ambiguous. That is hinted at by the unreadable words in the Benjamin Martin will, and more definitely by the weathered James Bole gravestone. Ambiguity can likewise lead to error.

As genealogists, the way we should respond is to always maintain a healthy skepticism about abstracted sources. A misplaced semi-colon; a contradiction of other records; an implausibility as to name, time, or place; all of these may be reasons to doubt an abstract.

In such cases we should be willing to go the extra mile, and spend the extra dollar, to seek the original record and determine for ourselves what it truly says. If the original is itself problematic, then perhaps earlier abstracts or other evidence will resolve the problem. For if genealogy is a massive, interlocking, and endlessly fascinating puzzle, we should make sure we’re assembling the right pieces.


[1] New Jersey Archives, 1st series, v. 32, p. 216.

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

[3] Boles, D.B. (1993). Barth-Hickey Ancestry. Troy, NY: Private print. Available from Bolesbooks.

[4] Original signed will, Middlesex co, NJ.

Picture attribution: Public domain.

15. A Cornucopia of Revolutionary Soldier Ancestors

The ancestral lines associated with these soldiers appear in The Omnibus Ancestry (referenced as OA). It updates and corrects, in brief form, a number of previous works, also referenced below. Each is available for download either through Lulu.com, or through Bolesbooks.

The Fourth of July is the quintessential Revolutionary War holiday, celebrating the mid-war decision to declare the independence of the United States.

Somewhat over half of resident males of fighting age during the war (1775-1783) were American Revolutionary soldiers in one capacity or another [12], principally as army regulars or militia. I have a large number in my background because all of my known immigrant ancestors came to America before or during the war. My wife, while predominantly descended from 19th-century immigrants, nevertheless has a few as well. The following is a full listing; each is a direct ancestor. It seems appropriate to recognize them this Fourth of July.

Known RegulInfantry,_Continental_Army,_1779-1783ars

James Barber (ca 1734?-ca 1786), served as Capt. of 1st Co.
of the militia of Hempfield township, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, in 1775. In 1776 he was a Capt. in Col. Bartram Galbraith’s Battalion of Lancaster county militia. He commanded a company in the battle of Long Island in the same year, and was commissioned a Capt. in the Continental Army in 1780 [2, OA].

Peter Dick, Jr. (1748-1806), served in 1776-7 in Capt. Alexander Lawson Smith’s Co., Rawling’s Regiment, Continental Troops, under the famous Col. Daniel Morgan; and in Capt. Gabriel Long’s Co., Morgan’s Rifle Regiment, Continental Troops, from Frederick county, Virginia [5, OA].

Connelly McFadden (1753-1840), between 1775 and 1779 served in Capt. Stephen Bayard’s Co. of Col. St. Clair’s Pennsylvania Regiment; Capt. James Morgan’s Co., 2nd Regiment, Middlesex county, New Jersey militia; and Capt. Longstreet’s First Regiment, New Jersey Continental Line. He was at the battle of Monmouth in 1778 [6, OA].

Thomas McIntire, Sr. (1744-1820) served as an Ens. in the 3rd Pennsylvania Battalion, Continental Army, was promoted to Lt., and was wounded at the battle of Fort Washington in 1776, where he was captured. He was exchanged in 1777 and became Lt. and then Capt. of an independent company in western Pennsylvania, 1777-1782. For extensive discussion of his service, including his distinguished participation in Capt. James Willing’s raid down the Mississippi aboard the U.S.S. Rattletrap in 1778, and in Brodhead’s Expedition in 1779, see the blog entry “7. Thomas McIntire, Revolutionary Hero” [5, 11, OA].

Thomas McMurtrie (ca 1734?-aft 1784), served in the 1st Battalion of the 2nd Establishment of the New Jersey Continental Army in 1776; the 1st Battalion of Somerset county, New Jersey militia in 1778; the Eastern Battalion of Morris county, New Jersey militia in 1780; and the 1st and 3rd Regiments of the New Jersey Line [3, OA].

Henrich Printzhausen or Henry Princehouse (1761-aft 1829) served in 1st and 2nd Companies, von Bose Regiment of Hessian mercenaries fighting alongside the British, 1781-1782. He was captured with Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781 and deserted in 1782, settling in America as did many other Hessian prisoners. He is our only known ancestor to have fought on the British side [5, OA].

Elijah Russell (1758-ca 1837?), served as a private in the Virginia Continental Line, perhaps ca 1777? [8, OA].

Jacob Stake (1756/7-1801) was 3rd Lt. of Miles’ Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment in 1776, serving under Gen. George Washington during the retreat from Manhattan. He was a 1st Lt. in the 10th Pennsylvania Jacob Stake locket labeledRegiment, Continental Line, 1776-7; and was a Capt. in the Light Corp of the same in 1777. His assignments are uncertain 1778-1779, but he clearly served. Thus in 1778 he captained a company in the battle of Monmouth, and he participated in the storming of Stony Point in 1779. He was again in the 10th Regiment in 1781 when he was wounded at Greenspring Farm, and he was probably present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in the same year. He transferred to the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment in 1783 [2, OA].

John Wolcott (1759-1835), served in Capt. James Wilson’s Co., First Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment, Continental Line, 1777-1780. He was captured at the battle of Fort Muncy in 1779, and was held captive in New York until exchanged in 1780. (His brother Silas Wolcot fought in the Battle of Long Island in 1776, and was one of Gen. George Washington’s bodyguards at Valley Forge in 1776-1777.) [3, OA]

Stand Your Ground.bKnown Militia

Harman Arrants (1746-1815), served from Cecil county, Maryland, as a 2nd Lt. in the 4th Maryland Battalion of the Flying Camp, under Capt. Walter Alexander, in 1776. In 1778 he was commissioned an Ens. in the 2nd or Elk Battalion of Cecil County Militia [1, OA].

James Atwood (ca 1748?-ca 1789), served in the militia of Culpeper county, Virginia, in 1781 [1, OA].

Joshua Burnett (1751-1846), served in the militia from Wilkes county, Georgia, under Capt. Richard Herd and Col. John Dooly, 1779-1781, fighting in battle at Augusta, Georgia, in 1779 [3, OA].

John Buster (1737-1820), served from Albemarle county, Virginia, against the Indians, ca 1778 [1, OA].

Jacob Coons (1740-1807), served as a Lt. in the militia of Culpeper county, Virginia, in 1781 [1, OA].

Nathaniel Davis (1751-1819?), served in Capt. William Witherow’s Co., 8th Battalion, Chester county, Pennsylvania militia, ca 1779? [4, OA].

Samuel Dickason or Dickinson (ca 1757-1846), served as a private and teamster in Capt. Cole’s Co., Col. Allen McLane’s Regiment, Kent county, Delaware, militia 1777-1780. That unit helped provision the army at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-8, was in the action at Barren Hill in 1778, and was the first on the scene when the British abandoned Philadelphia later that year. It reconnoitered prior to the battle of Stony Point in 1779. Samuel also served in Capt. Ross’ Co., Fayette county, Pennsylvania, militia in 1780, and was in the Virginia military at some point during the war [6, OA].

John Downing (1749-1826), served from Washington county, Pennsylvania, in Capt. Timothy Downing’s Co., 3rd Battalion of Pennsylvania militia, in 1782. At some point he also served in Capt. Basil Williams’ Co. of Washington county militia [7, OA].

Johan Georg Ermentraudt or Armentrout (ca 1731?-aft 1805), served in Capt. Baxter’s Co. of Virginia Militia, from Rockingham county. He was present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781 [8, OA].

Joel Harbour (1750-1814), served from Henry county, Virginia, in Thomas Henderson’s Co. of militia, in 1781, and was in the battle of Guilford Courthouse that year [9, OA].

Martin Holman (ca 1748?-aft 1811), served from Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, in Capt. James Watson’s Sixth Co., 10th Battalion of militia, in 1777-8, and was himself Capt. of 8th Co., 5th Battalion of same in 1780 [7, OA].

Adam Housh (1756?-1829), served as a 7th class private in Capt. Sweney’s Co., 5th Battalion, Washington county, Pennsylvania militia, in 1782 [OA].

Joseph Lazear (ca 1756?-1825), served in Capt. Griffith Johnson’s Co., 3rd Western Battalion of Western Maryland militia, ca 1779 [6, OA].

Thomas Price (ca 1729?-1788), was a 2nd and then 1st Lt. in the Elk Battalion of Cecil County, Maryland, militia in 1778 [1, OA].

James Roberson or Robertson (ca 1754?-1803), served as a private in Capt. Wm. Nesbit’s Co. of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania militia, ca 1778 [OA].

Ralph Robinson (1740/1-1802), served in Capt. Griffiths Co. of the 2nd Battalion of Chester county, Pennsylvania militia, in 1781 [5, OA].

Zebulon Daniel Smith (1758-1836), served in the Tennessee (then North Carolina) militia from Sullivan county, under Capts. Wallace, Jonathan Webb, William Asher, McKelvey, and John Scott, 1778-1782. He fought against the Cherokee and Chickamauga Indians, and was in the battle of King’s Mountain in 1780 [1, OA].

George Stake (1729/30-1789) served as a private in Capt. Michael Hahn’s Co., 1st Battalion of York county, Pennsylvania militia ca 1778 [2, OA].

Samuel Withers (ca 1752 -p 1809?), served in Capt. Through’s 7th Co., 8th Battalion of Chester county, Pennsylvania militia, ca 1780 [4, OA].

Thomas Withers (ca 1727?-ca 1795?), served as 1st Lt. in Capt. Through’s 7th Co., 8th Battalion of Chester county, Pennsylvania militia, ca 1780 [4, OA].

Johann Friderich (Frederick) Yerian (1762-1840), is said to have served as a private on the Continental Line, from Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, in 1777, and as a Ranger on the Frontier from that county 1778-83. But in any case he certainly was in Capt. John McClelland’s Co. of Westmoreland county militia in 1782 [8, OA].

Possible Regular

Jacob Massey (ca 1760?-1796), reputedly served under Capt. John Morrison in the Continental Line of North Carolina, in 1781. However, no clear evidence of it has been found [6, OA].

Possible Militia

Henry Bowman (1735/6-ca 1829), may have been a Capt. during the Revolutionary War, presumably in the militia, but primary evidence is lacking [OA].

Ignatius Brown, Sr. (ca 1733?-aft 1789), or possibly his namesake son, served from St. Mary’s county, Maryland, under Col. J. Jordan, at some point during the Revolutionary War [3, OA].

Isaac Linton (bef 1761-1835/6), claimed to have served from Frederick county in the Maryland militia under Capts. Ralph Hillery, John Burkat, and Moses Chapline, in 1777-80. However, for reasons to doubt this service, see the blog entry ” 5. Isaac Linton, Revolutionary Fraud?” [6, 10, OA].

James Martin (ca 1760?-1827), may have served in the militia from Morris co, New Jersey, ca 1779. However, identity with the known ancestor of the name is not certain [3, OA].


[1] Boles, H.W., & Boles, D.B. (1990). Foster Ancestors: Some Europeans, Immigrants, Colonists, and Pioneers. Decorah, Iowa: The Anundsen Publishing Co., and Lulu.com.

[2] Boles, D.B., & Boles, H.W. (2000). Stayman-McCrosky Ancestry. Tuscaloosa, AL: private print, and Lulu.com.

[3] Boles, D.B. (1993). Barth-Hickey Ancestry. Troy, NY: Private print. Available at Bolesbooks.

[4] Boles, D.B., & Boles, H.W. (1998). Withers-Davis Ancestry. Decorah, Iowa: The Anundsen Publishing Co. Available at Bolesbooks.

[5] Boles, D.B., & Boles, H.W. (1997). Speece-Robinson Ancestry. Ozark, Mo: Dogwood Printing. Available at Bolesbooks.

[6] Boles, H.W., & Boles, D.B. (1986). Some Earlier Americans: Boles-Linton Ancestors. Decorah, Iowa: The Anundsen Publishing Co., and Lulu.com.

[7] Boles, H.W., & Boles, D.B. (1994). Ellis Ancestors: Some Immigrants, Colonists, and Pioneers. Kalamazoo, Mich: Private print, and Lulu.com.

[8] Boles, D.B. (2008). Bowers-Russell Ancestry. Tuscaloosa, AL: private print, and Lulu.com.

[9] Boles, D.B. (2005). Snyder-Harbour Ancestry. Tuscaloosa, AL: private print, and Lulu.com.

[10] Blog entry at https://bolesbooksblog.wordpress.com/2015/01.

[11] Blog entry at https://bolesbooksblog.wordpress.com/2015/02.

[12] There were about 700,000 males of fighting age (Jameson, J.F. The American Revolution Considered As a Social Movement. Princeton University Press, 1926/1967). About 231,000 served in the Continental Army, and “upwards of” 145,000 in the militias (information retrieved from http://www.campaign1776.org/revolutionary-war/facts-of-the-american.html, 2015). Although as in the present case, lists of Revolutionary soldier ancestors often show a preponderance of militia, this may be an identification artifact. It is much easier to identify an ancestor among a county’s militia, than among similarly named men in a colony-wide list of regulars in which no residences are stated.

Picture attributions (in display order):

“Infantry: Continental Army, 1779-1783, IV” by H.A. Ogden, public domain.

Jacob Stake miniature: Photo courtesy of Herman Leuty Stayman (2014). Best available resolution.

“Stand Your Ground” by Don Troiani, retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/thenationalguard/4100353271 (2015), used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0.