Monday, July 13, 2009

the death of Jonathan Stone...

In 1856, Sybil Adams applied for a pension based on her father's Revolutionary War service, stating that she is the only surviving daughter and heir of Jonathan & Mary Stone. Sybil states,

"My father lived at TempletonMass. He enlisted and went and left his family consisting of his wife and 3 children in a log house in the Wilderness. I was the oldest and was 7 yrs ... the land was sold ... the children had to be put out and suffered a great deal the youngest was 3 years old when his father was killed."

Jonathan appears to have enlisted at the very beginning, 27 April 1775, signing up for 3 months 12 days. Along with others he signed a receipt for advance pay on 8 Jun 1775. He was a private in Captain Joel Fletcher's Company of Colonel Ephraim Doolittle's Regiment which was at Bunker Hill. The company was at Winter Hill, Charlestown, Massachusetts, in October and December of 1775. By September of 1776 he was in New York at the Battle of Harlem Heights.

Nathan Stone son of Seth Stone who was brother to Jonathan Stone states he has no direct knowledge of the death of Jonathan Stone except that which he has been told by his father and others:

"which was that he was killed on the retreat at the time of the Battle of White Plains at or near a place called Harlem in New York. The news was brought to his wife and friends by a Mr. Fillmore who stated he was shot through both knees by grape shot and he (Fillmore) and others helped him into a barn and left him after [putt]ing some rum into his canteen which was all the assistance he could render."

Nathan's sister Abigail Stone Stratton and Sybil herself give similar accounts of Jonathan's death. There are other bits of genealogical data in this pension file: Jonathan md Mary Gates 29 Oct 1765 in Worcester and they had three children, Sybil, Nabby and Samuel. Sybil was sent to live with Seth Stone's family in West Cambridge until she later married Joel Adams, Nabby married Thomas Grey and Samuel died a few years before the pension application was filed.

Jonathan seems to have been an ordinary sort of fellow, trying to build a life for himself and his young family on the frontier. Along comes the War for Independence and he promptly signs up, whatever his motivation or, probably, combination of motives. The advance pay probably went mostly to his wife and children and off he marched. A few months in camp at the fort on Winter Hill and then eventually to end up shot in the knees at Harlem Heights and the battle of White Plains. On the run from the British what else could his comrades do but leave him with what comfort they could provide in the shelter of a barn, probably difficult for them as well as Jonathan.

And imagine the wife and three young children in the cabin in the wilderness, perhaps months of not knowing. Then along comes the neighbor with the report of his death and life is turned upside down, the land is sold, the children sent off to other homes. Mary Gates Stone is said not to have married again, remaining a widow until her death in Northboro, Worcestor County, Massachusetts, on 2nd December 1839.

The Vital Records of Shrewsbury Massachusetts list Jonathan Stone died 15 Sep 1776, buried at Shrewsbury: Jonathan Stone [Jr] wounded 15 Sep 1776 at the Evacuation of New York, supposed to have died soon after. [Leg broken and captured by the British.]

Reading this pension gave me chills and I will never see a movie or television show about the Revolution (or other early American wars) in the same way nor see the pieces of genealogy information add up to a similar scene without seeing it in my mind and my heart.

Are there bits of your genealogy research that made a profound difference to you?


Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

I love researching my family genealogy, but recently I've had to set it aside to write my historical novels. Hope I can get back to it again.

GeneRooter said...

The search for a mystery name in an old Bible got me into genealogy