Oliver Cromwell: An African American Revolutionary War Hero

Oliver Cromwell was no ordinary soldier of the American Revolution. This military hero’s discharge was signed by General George Washington “stating that he was entitled to wear the badges of honor by reason of his honorable services.”

Cromwell’s story first appeared in a newspaper interview conducted when he was 100 years old by a reporter of the Burlington Gazette (Burlington, New Jersey) in 1905, which was reprinted by the Trenton Evening Times. As the newspaper article noted: “though feeble, his lips trembling at every word, when he spoke of [General George] Washington his eyes sparkled with enthusiasm.”

The archive of old newspapers in GenealogyBank is packed with thousands of these firsthand accounts of military service in the Revolutionary War, adding a personal touch to the facts of many of these early American military battles.

In that 1905 interview, Cromwell told of his Revolutionary War service crossing the Delaware “with his beloved commander…on the memorable Christmas night [in] 1776.”

The old newspaper article adds that Cromwell: “took part in the battle of Trenton, and helped to ‘knock the British about lively at Princeton.’ He also fought at the Revolutionary War battles of Short Hills, Brandywine, Monmouth and Springfield, where he was severely wounded, and saw the last man killed at York town.”

interview with African American Revolutionary War veteran Oliver Cromwell, Trenton Evening Times newspaper article 11 April 1905

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), 11 April 1905, page 5

A few days after Cromwell’s death, the local Burlington Gazette published an editorial calling for the erection of a monument in honor of the Revolutionary War hero.

“And thus, one by one, the men who purchased with their blood the liberty we now enjoy, are going off the stage…We suggest whether it would not be proper to erect some suitable monument over his grave…it will be pleasant to know that the people of Burlington felt sufficient interest in him, to mark the spot where his ashes are buried.”

The reprint in the Trenton Evening Times notes: “Unfortunately no such monument was ever erected and there is nothing to indicate the last resting place of Oliver Cromwell.”

Oliver Cromwell lived in a different time and place, and life was more difficult than it would have been for him now. He was African American, one of the many that served in the American Revolution. Though honored by General Washington, his pension was revoked by a local pension agent. “Tears fell from his eyes when he told of his discharge being taken from him by the pension agent.”

In 1984, this plaque was placed on the property where his home once stood.

plaque indicating spot where African American Revolutionary War veteran Oliver Cromwell's house once stood

Photo from the official Burlington County, New Jersey, website

His grave has been located in the cemetery at Broad Street Methodist Church in Burlington, New Jersey. The local historical society was named in his honor in 1983.

Oliver Cromwell (1752-1853), one of “the men who purchased with their blood the liberty we now enjoy,” was “respected by our citizens” then and remembered to this day.

See what other American Revolutionary War veterans’ stories you can find in GenealogyBank’s online historical newspaper archives. There are many more stories of Revolutionary War heroes like Oliver Cromwell waiting for you to discover.

Handy Quick List: 10 Trenton, New Jersey, Newspapers Now Online

GenealogyBank continues to grow every day—we now have 10 Trenton, New Jersey, newspapers online. That’s a lot of local papers to research your family history from New Jersey’s capital city.

Trenton New Jersey Newspapers Archive

Trenton, N.J., was the site of George Washington’s first victory during the Revolutionary War, the important Battle of Trenton, when Washington led his men over the icy Delaware River the day after Christmas, 1776. The city proudly carries the nickname “Turning Point of the Revolution.”

Interesting bit of U.S. history trivia: Trenton was once the capital of the United States, albeit briefly, in November and December 1784.

Trace your genealogy from this historical New Jersey city. Here is the complete list of Trenton, NJ, newspapers currently available in our online archives, providing coverage from 1792 to today.

Newspaper Coverage Collection
Miscellany 6/10/1805 – 12/2/1805 Newspaper Archives
New Jersey State Gazette 9/19/1792 – 12/31/1799 Newspaper Archives
Sentinel 6/26/1880 – 11/13/1882 Newspaper Archives
Times 3/21/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Trenton Evening Times 1/7/1883 – 3/15/1993 Newspaper Archives
Trenton Federalist 12/2/1800 – 12/27/1824 Newspaper Archives
Trenton State Gazette 1/12/1847 – 12/31/1898 Newspaper Archives
Trenton Sunday Times-Advertiser 11/6/1938 – 8/26/1973 Newspaper Archives
Trentonian 4/12/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
True American 3/10/1801 – 9/21/1818 Newspaper Archives

Find and document your family history. Make sure your family tree is accurately documented, including every obituary and news article.

We can do this!

Researching Records for Solomon Titus: A Revolutionary War Veteran

With its large collections of newspapers, historical books and documents, and government records, GenealogyBank provides a wealth of genealogical resources to help you research your family history.

One handy genealogy resource in GenealogyBank is the register of Revolutionary War Burials. The Daughters of the American Revolution issued a report every year of the burial sites of military veterans that served in America’s war for independence.

For example here is the military register entry for Solomon Titus, taken from the Forty-eighth report of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, April 1, 1944, to April 1, 1945, page 228.

burial report for Revolutionary War veteran Solomon Titus from Daughters of the American Revolution 1944-45 report

Graves of the soldiers of the Revolution, from 1944-45 Daughters of the American Revolution burial report

This DAR report tells us that Solomon Titus was:

  • A private in the Revolutionary War
  • In the Battle of White Plains (October 28, 1776)
  • In the Battle of Monmouth (June 28, 1778)
  • Buried in the Pennington, New Jersey, Presbyterian Churchyard
  • There is a file on him at the Veteran’s Administration (now at the National Archives)
  • W-2491

    casualty list from the Revolutionary War Battle of White Plains, published by the Freeman's Journal newspaper on December 3, 1776

    Casualty list from the Revolutionary War Battle of White Plains, published by the Freeman's Journal (Portsmouth, New Hampshire), 3 December 1776, page 2

We can then dig into GenealogyBank’s newspaper archives and find articles about each one of the military battles Titus fought in as the Revolutionary War unfolded. Historical newspaper articles such as this one, providing a summary of the soldiers killed at the Battle of White Plains, published in the Freeman’s Journal (Portsmouth, New Hampshire), 3 December 1776, page 2.

Or the many old newspaper articles about the pivotal Battle of Monmouth, such as this one providing George Washington’s own account of the famous military battle, published in the Continental Journal (Boston, Massachusetts), 23 July 1778, page 1.

collage of the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Monmouth, featuring a newspaper article from the Continental Journal newspaper and a painting of George Washington by Emanuel Leutze

Collage of the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Monmouth, featuring a newspaper article from the Continental Journal newspaper and a painting of George Washington by Emanuel Leutze

(Painting, Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth, by Emanuel Leutze. Wikimedia Commons.)

GenealogyBank is the only genealogy website complete enough to let us read about our ancestor’s experiences—like those of Solomon Titus in the Revolutionary War—day by day.

The Daughters of the American Revolution report said that the U.S. government had a file on Solomon Titus, and in the last column it gives the reference number W-2491.

W-2491. What does that mean?

It means that the widow of Solomon Titus applied for a military pension based on his service in the Revolutionary War. We learned in this report that he died on 19 December 1833. Looking in GenealogyBank we find that his wife applied for a widow’s pension and that it was approved in 1839.

page from the December 2, 1839, Journal of the House of Representatives showing recipients of Revolutionary War pensions

Page from the December 2, 1839, Journal of the House of Representatives showing recipients of Revolutionary War pensions

(Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States: being the first session of the Twenty-sixth Congress, begun and held at the City of Washington, December 2, 1839, in the sixty-fourth year of the independence of the said states on page 175.)

So, now we know that his wife’s name was Susannah Titus. A quick search of the early New Jersey marriages shows that her name was Susannah Read and that she and Solomon married in April 1779 in Monmouth County, New Jersey.

We can see a copy of Solomon’s military personnel file, available from the National Archives. Use “Standard Form 180” to make your request.

National Archives military records request form 1080

National Archives military records request form 1080

National Archives pension application request form 85

National Archives pension application request form 85

We can also request a copy of Susannah’s pension application by using Form 85. Be sure to include the pension number: W-2491.

We can gather so much information about our ancestors in the Revolutionary War era!

The Daughters of the American Revolution report also told us that Solomon Titus was buried in the Presbyterian Churchyard in Pennington, New Jersey.

 

A quick search on Google locates a wide-angle photo of that cemetery on flickr.

grave of Revolutionary War veteran Solomon Titus, buried in the Presbyterian churchyard in Pennington, New Jersey

Grave of Revolutionary War veteran Solomon Titus

Searching Google more, we find a photo of his grave on the website Find-A-Grave.

(Photo by Therese Fenner Boucher on Find-A-Grave.)

1799 Newspaper Announcing Death of George Washington: Free Download!

The old Colonial newspapers let us look back and see our country’s news as it happened. We get to see the early American history as it unfolded in our ancestors’ day.

Imagine the utter shock in 1799 upon hearing the grim news that General George Washington was dead—America’s military leader during the Revolutionary War and the nation’s first President. George Washington died on Dec. 14, 1799, at the age of 67.

The people would have been galvanized by the news of President Washington’s death.

They would remember exactly when and where they were when they first heard about it.

The Saturday Evening Post Newspaper

They would go and get a newspaper to learn about how George Washington died and get all the details surrounding his death. Then they would read the newspaper, read it again, and save it for their children and grandchildren.

They would never forget this tragic loss in our country’s history.

Here is a copy of the Colonial newspaper that area residents of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, read cover to cover to learn about the death of George Washington. It was published by the Oracle of Dauphin and Harrisburgh Advertiser (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), 30 December 1799.

Most of this historical newspaper issue is about the death of George Washington. It includes his obituary, information about his funeral and much more.

Today is a federal holiday originally enacted by Congress in 1879 to close government offices in the District of Columbia, at the time known as “Washington’s Birthday.” In remembrance of President George Washington on this Presidents Day 2012, we are offering a free download of this important early American newspaper that covers his death.

Vermont attacked during Civil War

19 October 1864 the residents of St. Albans, Vermont were surprised when a band of 20 to 30 Confederate irregular troops attacked the village intent on robbing the bank and setting fire to the village.

You can read all about it in the St. Albans Daily Messenger 20 October 1864

“In front and on all sides we observe the attempts of the Rebels to kill and murder.”

The Confederates fled to Canada where they were promptly arrested by the police and the $50,000 they had stolen was recovered.

Read the entire story of the attack, capture and trial as reported in the St. Albans Daily Messenger.

Our thanks to Dick Eastman for alerting us to the story.

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George Washington gave his farewell address 17 September 1796.

George Washington gave his farewell address September 17, 1796.

Think of it.

He had led the nation in war and unified us as a new and separate country. He had served as President since April 30, 1789 and now he was leaving office. He was the image of stability, security, a father figure. He was called the Father of our Country.
Read what the newspapers wrote – as it was happening:

“The President of the United States, has in an address worthy of his goodness and his greatness, announced to his fellow citizens, his resolution to decline being considered among the number of those, out of whom choice is to be made of a citizen to administer the Executive Government when the present period of office expires”.

You can read the complete address as it was printed in the New-Jersey Journal 28 September 1796.

He would would serve to the end of his term on March 4, 1797 and then passed away just a few years later on December 14, 1799.

Read the news as your ancestor’s read it.
See it, day by day as it unfolded in their lives.
The uncertainty – the stories of their lives.

GenealogyBank – over 3,800 newspapers – 1690 to today – All 50 States.
No other site covers the Colonial period like GenealogyBank.

Congratulations to my cousin Sarah Heath Palin!

Genealogists will love the fact that the new Republican choice for Vice President – Sarah Heath Palin is a descendant of multiple Mayflower passengers: John Tilley, John Howland, Stephen Hopkins, Elder William Brewster, Richard Warren and other well known New England families.

I am also descended from those Mayflower passengers …. so we’re cousins.

She is also a descendant of the Rev. John Lathrop – famous to genealogists as the “gateway” ancestor of many US Presidents, inventors, actors and celebrities.

No doubt in the days ahead we will see stories of how she is related to our other cousins: George Bush, Queen Elizabeth, Barack Obama, John Kerry, Dick Cheney, George Washington, King George III, King Henry VIII, Abraham Lincoln and the list will go on and on.

It’s a great day for genealogy!