Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4th through 18th Century Eyes

I was a good student in school, but I can’t say that I had a particular talent or interest in history. My research into my family tree – my family history – has made me think about American history in a new way and given me a new interest.

I am not a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), but it looks like I could be if I took the time to button up a few connections. I apparently have at least 3 Revolutionary War veterans in my family tree, possibly more.

In honor of Independence Day, I bring to you the account of Nathaniel Maxwell, American Revolutionary War soldier and 4th great grandfather of Grammy’s Daughter, as recorded in his pension application files.

Here [Chester County, Pennsylvania] I grew to manhood, and was living, when the war of the revolution commenced. I am too old to recollect dates with exactness; but according to my personal recollection, the summer after the tea was destroyed at Boston, I was called out to perform a two months tour of duty as a militia man. I was mustered into service under Captain Witheroe in a Regiment commanded by Colonel Matthew Boyd and was stationed at Princeton where I was discharged.

The second year afterwards I was again called out on a similar tour and served two months under Capt. Moore, but cannot recollect any Regiment to which he was attached. The company was marched to White Marsh and stationed there. General Mifflin commanded and General Washington was there sometimes. The battle of Trenton took place while they were on the march.

My next tour of service was not long before the cessation of hostilities. At this time I was called out for a third tour of service of two months under Captain Elkton. At the close of this service peace was declared and I was discharged, my whole service being six months.

Often I think that we don’t realize that history is happening while we are living it. The historical significance of some events, such as the terrorist attacks of 9-11-2001, are obvious. Others, not so much. I have often wondered whether events such as the Boston Tea Party where recognized at the time as historically significant. Apparently Nathaniel Maxwell recalled that event and remembered it years later, even though he was living in Pennsylvania at the time.

Nathaniel Maxwell’s pension application files, and those of many other Revolutionary War veterans, are available online at http://www.ancestry.com/ (Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900).

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