Monday, July 21, 2008

American Revolution Documents

As any good genealogist will tell you, there's really only one major place to go for those Revolution documents: NARA. The National Archives and Records Administration.

Today, while searching through the archives I found an ancestor for my client. The really great thing about this client is that they had virtually no information regarding their family prior to 1928. In tracking backwards I came to their ancestor who had served in the Pennsylvania Militia during the Revolution.

This person started out as a Lieutenant [and Adjutant]. Having served only 2 months he was captured by the British and held at a British compound on Long Island for over 3 years. On his release he was promoted to Brigade Major.

From no information, to having a real-life American Revolution hero! Now, that's exciting to me!

In copying the documents, [there's over 100 of them!] I was amazed at the vast array of information we could determine on this early American soldier.

He was paid $148.1/3 for his service just a few weeks before his capture. It was interesting to note that he was not paid by the military, but by a local physician who then applied for reimbursement of the amount after the war. [I am still a bit perplexed by that 1/3rd dollar! Hmmm???]

He was present at only one Muster that I could find. For the remaining he was listed as a Prisoner of War. His whereabouts always known. And complete reports on the conditions of the officers who were being held with this man were presented from the British to the Patriot's on a regular basis.

Clothing issued prior to his being taken as a Prisoner of War was listed. Even his meal rations were at one point listed.

It isn't enough to know that our ancestors served during the American Revolution, or to know what company or brigade, etc. that they served with. It isn't even enough to know who they served under. I like to uncover what they did, how they did it, where they did it.

Before I knew what had happened today, Major John Harper had come to life for me. A man who died 174 years ago. Living and breathing before me. Worn and weary by battle. Imprisoned by the enemy. And finally freed. He went home, married the girl of his dreams. They moved to North Carolina and eventually into Kentucky. They raised a rather large family. And they became prominent citizens of the county they resided in.

Never take the records you uncover for granted. For within their tattered, torn, smeared, faded pages, lie the lives of some of the most endeared individuals who ever walked upon this earth; our ancestors.

Until tomorrow,

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