Find the True Life Stories of Our Revolutionary War Ancestors

GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives have not only the stories of our Revolutionary War ancestors – but daily news reports of the war itself.

newspaper articles about the American Revolutionary War from GenealogyBank's archives

With newspapers in GenealogyBank’s collection spanning the entire 1700s, you can find thousands of exclusive historical news articles about Revolutionary War battles, politics and day to day life as it was reported in the newspapers of the time. Track your ancestor as he went from battle to battle…and then through the years after the war.

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Where else can you find these stories of the American Revolutionary period – recorded as our ancestors lived them?

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Researching Contested & Special Military Pension Applications

From its earliest days, the U.S. government has granted pensions to soldiers or their surviving relatives in cases where the soldier was killed or “disabled by known wounds in the…war.” Those early pensions were not granted for a lifetime of service in the military – as we think of pensions today – but instead were granted based on a clear demonstration of need, as shown in the pension application. Think of these as long-term disability claims rather than pensions.

In this special military pension appeal request, the widow of Captain Morgan appealed to the government on behalf of her six children and herself, knowing that his death did not meet the specific requirements of the pension act (he did not die of wounds received in battle, but rather of exhaustion afterward). The House committee examining her claim stated that it “is within the spirit of [the] provisions” of the pension law. The Committee on Pensions and Revolutionary claims presented a bill to the 14th Congress to grant her a pension.

military pension request of Elizabeth Morgan

Source: Historical Documents, GenealogyBank.com; “Pension granted to the widow of a captain in the army who died in service.” Communicated to the House of Representatives, January 26, 1816. American State Papers, 036 Claims Vol. 1, number 285.

In his pension request, Lieutenant William Monday appealed to the 9th Congress for a pension – but the committee members hearing his request did not agree and encouraged him instead “to withdraw his petition, and the papers accompanying the same.”

He did not receive a pension, but his application gives us important details about his service during the American Revolutionary War.

military pension request by William Monday

Source: Historical Documents, GenealogyBank.com; “Application for a pension by a dismissed officer.” Communicated to the House of Representatives, December 16, 1806. American State Papers, 036 Claims Vol. 1, number 176.

After the Revolutionary War the U.S. gave pensions to disabled soldiers, their widows and children. Congress also granted bounty land warrants to the able-bodied troops that survived the war. These land warrants were certificates redeemable for government lands.

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In his special bounty land warrant request, Samuel Frazer confirmed that he served in the Revolutionary War but had a problem when he went to claim his land. He found that his land warrant was redeemed on 24 January 1792 by William Thomas. He appealed to the 7th Congress to correct this error, stating that “he had given no authority whatever for that purpose.”

The Committee of Claims acknowledged that “…warrants have doubtless been issued, in many instances, on forged powers of attorney…” but did not act to grant him a new bounty land warrant because it said it was impossible to determine the facts of the case, and left that determination up to the courts.

bounty land request by Samuel Frazer

Source: Historical Documents, GenealogyBank.com; “Bounty land warrant.” Communicated to the House of Representatives, January 12, 1803. American State Papers, 028 Public Lands Vol. 1, number 71.

Genealogy Tip: Get details on the lives of your ancestors from a range of sources, including contested and special pension applications. You want to find those ancestors who received pensions and bounty lands, as well as those that applied for them but had their cases rejected by Congress. You will find these contested and special pension applications in the Historical Documents section of GenealogyBank.com.

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Hungarian-Born Revolutionary War Vet Dies

I found this interesting obituary for John Baker (1741-1826).

obituary for John Baker, Boston Traveler newspaper article 3 May 1826

Boston Traveler (Boston, Massachusetts), 3 May 1826, page 3

It says that Baker:

was a native of Hungary, came to this country with [British General John] Burgoyne, and deserted from his army and joined the Americans, in whose service he continued his aid till the close of the revolution.

Is there more to know?

On its website, the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association describes itself this way:

JSHA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to researching those German auxiliary troops (generically called Hessian) who remained in America after the Revolutionary War, became loyal citizens, made cultural contributions and were the progenitors of any thousands of Americans living today.

An article in Hessians, the JSHA journal, gives more possible details about John Baker:

John Baker (Johann Becker) a so-called Hessian, is said to be buried in Westfield [Massachusetts]. He could have been Johann Becker, drummer (tambour) with Captain Ahler’s Company of the von Rhetz Regiment of the Brunswick Army. He was from Friedersdorf and born in 1749. He deserted (date unknown) and joined the American forces.

Article citation: Webler, Robert M. “German (so called Hessian) soldiers who remained in Massachusetts and neighboring states, particularly after the Battles of Bennington and Saratoga.” Hessians: Journal of the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association, Issue number 9 (2006), pages 82–88.

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A Reminder: Records do not always agree. In this example, the obituary pegs his birth year as about 1841, while the Hessians article suggests “He could have been Johann Becker, drummer… [who] was from Friedersdorf and born in 1749.”

Since this might not be the same person and we don’t know the basis for Webler’s statement that Baker was born in 1749, I have used the earlier birth year suggested by his obituary notice for his life dates.

Are you a descendant of Revolutionary Ward soldier John Baker? If so, please contact us – we’d like to know more.

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GenealogyBank’s Detailed Revolutionary War Burial Lists

GenealogyBank has a strong collection of Revolutionary War records. We have thousands of newspapers that were published before, during and after the war that permanently recorded the troops that served: their battles during the war, and their accomplishments throughout the rest of their lives.

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) was founded in 1890 and chartered by Congress in 1896. First Lady Caroline Lavina Scott Harrison, wife of U.S. President Benjamin Harrison, was its first President General. From the earliest days of the organization, the DAR has worked to document every person that fought in the Revolutionary War – and in particular, to document where each veteran was buried.

Because the DAR was chartered by Congress, their annual reports were published in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set. GenealogyBank has the entire run of these reports in our Historical Documents section.

Here is a typical entry.
This example is the entry for Phineas Bronson (1764-1845) who died in Illinois.

entry for Phineas Bronson from the Seventy-Fifth report of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution

Seventy-Fifth report of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (Washington, D.C.), 1973, page 30

This entry tells us that Phineas Bronson was born on 9 November 1764 and died on 25 October 1845; he “served in 3rd Company, 2d Regiment, under Maj. Benjamin Walbridge and Col. Zebulon Butler”; and he was a pensioner. The entry further informs us that he was buried in the Princeville Cemetery in Princeville, Peoria County, Illinois.

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Phineas Bronson was born in Connecticut. See his birth record here. You can read more about the 2nd Connecticut Regiment in the Revolutionary War here.

An earlier DAR Report tells us that the Peoria Chapter of the DAR (Peoria, Illinois), under the direction of Mrs. James N. Butler, the chapter regent, had seen to it that Bronson’s grave was marked with a DAR memorial plaque.

record of Phineas Bronson's grave being marked with a DAR memorial plaque, from the Sixteenth report of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution

Sixteenth report of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (Washington, D.C.), 1914, page 130

That plaque still marks his grave.

photo of Phineas Bronson's gravesite

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Genealogy Tip: GenealogyBank is your go-to resource for your ancestors that served in the Revolutionary War. Like the example in this article, you can learn: what regiment your ancestor fought in; who his commanding officers were; his birth and death dates; the name of the cemetery where he was buried; and whether his grave was marked with a plaque by the local DAR Chapter.

Don’t let your ancestors’ stories be lost.
Find their stories – document them and pass them down.

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A Native American Revolutionary War Veteran’s Final Request

When I am gone, beat the drum and fire the guns. ~ Captain and Chief Tishomingo

As we get closer to July 4th, we think back on the stories of our American ancestors who fought for our freedom in the Revolutionary War. This old newspaper obituary tells us about the story of one of those Revolutionary War veterans, whose heroic story deserves to be more widely known.

obituary for Chief Tishomingo, Evening Post newspaper article 24 June 1841

Evening Post (New York, New York), 24 June 1841, page 2

Chief Tishomingo was the last great chief of the Chickasaw Nation.

According to his obituary:

Although but little known beyond the limits of his nation, yet he was a man who had seen wars and fought battles; stood high among his own people as a brave and good man. He served under Gen. [Anthony] Wayne in the revolutionary war, for which he received a pension from the government of the United States; and in the late war with England [the War of 1812] he served under Gen. [Andrew] Jackson, and did many deeds of valor.

Chief Tishomingo was born in Tishomingo, Mississippi – the town was renamed in his honor. The early history of the 19th Century was not kind to Native Americans – even those like Chief Tishomingo who had “fought in nine battles for the United States.” He and his tribe were forced to relocate to Oklahoma. He died on the trip near Little Rock, Arkansas.

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The first capital of Oklahoma was located in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, which was also named in Captain Tishomingo’s honor.

Watch this video about Chief Tishomingo’s life that was produced by Chickasaw.tv https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PL9O9lNNzTk

Find your ancestors’ true life stories in more than one billion historical articles that cover over 300 years of American history from coast to coast. Start searching in GenealogyBank.com.

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Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from recent and historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.  Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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Linus Lounsbury, Revolutionary War Veteran

I found this obituary for Linus Lounsbury, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War, by searching in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

obituary for Linus Lounsbury, Columbian Register newspaper article 23 July 1836

Columbian Register (New Haven, Connecticut), 23 July 1836, page 3

He died on 15 July 1836.
He was a pensioner.

He was in the Siege of Fort Johns in Newfoundland, Canada – 17 September 1775 to 3 November 1775, and was in the Battle of White Plains on 28 October 1776.

Great information.

photo of a two-cent stamp depicting the Revolutionary War Battle of White Plains

Image Credit: Battle of White Plains 1926 Issue 2c, U.S. Post Office, 20 February 2010

Here is the confirmation of his death, as reported in the 1838 Pensioners List on the page showing deaths of Connecticut pensioners.

photo of a Revolutionary War pension list showing that Linus Lounsbury has died

Publication: Pensioners — pension agents. Letter from the Secretary of War, transmitting the information required by a resolution of the House of Representatives of 26th March last, in relation to pensioners and pension agents, and the payment of pensions. June 22, 1838. — Referred to the Committee on Revolutionary Pensions. June 27, 1838. — Ordered to be printed, as per resolution of the Committee herewith. Date: Wednesday, June 27, 1838. Serial Set Vol. No.331-1; Report: H.Doc. 444. Source: GenealogyBank.com

Continuing my newspaper search on Linus, I found this notice from 1817 reporting that there was a letter for Linus at the post office.

list of people who have letters waiting for them at the Woodbridge, Connecticut, post office, Columbian Register newspaper article 19 July 1817

Columbian Register (New Haven, Connecticut), 19 July 1817, page 1

It would be great if we had that old letter.

Re-reading his obituary, I like that last line about his character:

He truly possessed the spirit of ’76 as long as he lived.

It makes me think of the George M. Cohan chorus from “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” as found on Wikipedia:

I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,
A Yankee Doodle, do or die;
A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam,
Born on the Fourth of July.

Find the life story of your ancestors – search GenealogyBank today. Start your 30-day trial now!

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Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from recent and historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.  Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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Alabama Revolutionary War Veteran Dead at 106

In 1853, centenarian William Wicker passed away in Pike County, Alabama. He was 106. This American Revolutionary War veteran had been one of the first settlers to move to Alabama after its introduction into the union on 14 December 1819.

obituary for William Wicker, Daily Alabama Journal newspaper article 28 January 1853

Daily Alabama Journal (Montgomery, Alabama), 28 January 1853, page 2

Wicker enlisted into the military at 17, along with his father Robert Wicker. They served together with various South Carolina regiments during the length of the Revolutionary War. Wicker’s biggest firefight came during the Battle of Eutaw Springs, the last major Southern conflict against the British. After the Revolutionary War ended, Wicker lived in South Carolina and Georgia, before spending his final years in Alabama.

The Battle of Eutaw Springs is remembered as one of the bloodiest Southern battles during the Revolutionary War. Disney picked up this story and produced a television series in the 1950s known as The Swamp Fox, detailing the achievements of Wicker’s commanding officer General Francis Marion – who was known as the “Swamp Fox.” While Wicker’s likeness is not put directly into the show, most of the episodes cover events similar to the ones he would have been present for.

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From a young age, William Wicker knew he wanted to defend his country. Thanks to the Daily Alabama Journal, William Wicker’s memory lives on in old news print. Did any of your ancestors serve in the Revolutionary War? Where did they ultimately settle down? Perhaps like William, they too are some of the early settlers of the American South and Midwest.

Join GenealogyBank today to access over 1.7 billion records and find your ancestors’ stories. Start your 30-day trial now: http://bit.ly/1BChPbI

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.  Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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Revolutionary War Soldier Andrew Wallace – Dead at 105

In 1772 at the age of 42, Andrew Wallace shipped off for North America from Scotland – and just a few years later he was fighting in the American Revolutionary War for his new country.

obituary for Andrew Wallace, Elyria Republican newspaper article 19 February 1835

Elyria Republican (Elyria, Ohio), 19 February 1835, page 1

According to this old soldier’s obituary, Andrew “was engaged in some of the most memorable battles of the Revolutionary War,” and fought honorably. To the end of his life, he was honored by all for his military service. His most heroic moment on the battlefield came when General Marquis de Lafayette “was wounded at the battle of Brandywine [and] Wallace assisted in rescuing him from his perilous situation, and carried him off the field of battle to a friend’s house nearly two miles distant.” By the war’s close, Wallace was a decorated and honored sergeant.

Painting: “Nation Makers” by Howard Pyle, depicting a scene from the Battle of Brandywine

Painting: “Nation Makers” by Howard Pyle, depicting a scene from the Battle of Brandywine. Source: Brandywine Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania; Wikimedia.

Wallace lived to be 105. A few weeks before his death, the Peale Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, hosted Andrew as a living exhibit meant to be the “connecting link between the olden and modern age.”

Andrew Wallace, at Peale's Museum, Richmond Whig newspaper article 2 December 1834

Richmond Whig (Richmond, Virginia), 2 December 1834, page 1

Wait – this is interesting.
The article states that Andrew “fought at the battle of Culloden…”
Battle of Culloden? That was in Scotland in 1746 when the British were putting down Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites.

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Thousands attended Wallace’s funeral at the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, where he was buried. The Evening Post reported that even though he “lived and died in the Catholic faith…on his death-bed he asked to be buried with the honors of a mason and a soldier.” His request was honored and although “the weather was wet and stormy…there was an exceedingly brilliant display of military, the masonic fraternity, citizens and others.” The Church extended the extraordinary honor of having him buried in the same tomb as the revered Bishop John Connolly (1750-1825), the Second Bishop of New York. Andrew Wallace was beloved by many and had a great love for the country that took him in so many years prior.

Funeral of Andrew Wallace, Evening Post newspaper article 26 January 1835

Evening Post (New York, New York), 26 January 1835, page 2

Our veterans, old and new, have rendered us such great service and should be remembered every day. GenealogyBanks’ archive of over 1.7 billion historical documents holds the untold stories of your veteran ancestors; sign up today and discover them.

Genealogy Tip: Quite often, a person’s death is reported by many different newspapers in multiple states. Be sure to make a wide search for the obituaries of your ancestors. Do not limit your search to just the newspapers published in their home town.

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Revolutionary Patriot George Shell Fought Two Wars Simultaneously

When Revolutionary War patriot George Shell died in 1818, newspapers in Maine, Massachusetts, and New York carried the news – but they each gave him a single-line obituary.

obituary for George Shell, Weekly Eastern Argus newspaper article 25 August 1818

Weekly Eastern Argus (Portland, Maine), 25 August 1818, page 3

obituary for George Shell, Salem Gazette newspaper article 18 August 1818

Salem Gazette (Salem, Massachusetts), 18 August 1818, page 3

obituary for George Shell, Columbian newspaper article 15 August 1818

Columbian (New York, New York), 15 August 1818, page 3

However, Revolutionary War veteran George Shell deserved much more; the man fought two wars simultaneously, as detailed in this longer obituary found in another old newspaper.

obituary for George Shell, Albany Gazette newspaper article 15 August 1818

Albany Gazette (Albany, New York), 15 August 1818, page 2

Shell faithfully served in his local Albany, New York, regiment – against the wishes of his father, “who was attached to the royal cause.” So Shell had to fight two wars simultaneously, against the British and his own family. Upon his return to Albany, Shell found himself abandoned and rejected by the family patriarch; George’s father would never forgive him.

However, Shell created a new family for himself in the capital city. He ran a local barber shop and kept the men of Albany looking clean, sharp, and dapper. His funeral drew a significant crowd upon his death, reflecting his service to the town and the esteem his fellow citizens had for him.

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Thanks to GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, we learn that no one’s life story is truly one line. George Shell was a respected barber who stood up for his beliefs and fought for his country during its war for independence. While many simply fought the British army, George also bore the cross of a family who abandoned him because they supported the crown. Thanks to the preserved records of the Albany Gazette, we know the depth of this veteran’s sacrifice. We feel enriched and motivated to sacrifice for what we know is right.

Sign up to GenealogyBank today and find your ancestors’ stories!

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.  Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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Why You Should Dig Deep into the Obituary Archives

George Foster Sawyer served in the U.S. Navy and died in La Spezia, Italy, in 1852. He was a native of Burlington, Vermont.

Hmm…so where do you look for his obituary?

Since Sawyer was a native of Vermont, you’d expect to find his obituary in a Vermont or other newspaper from New England.

I did find an obituary for him in a Vermont paper, but it was brief and to the point.

Weekly Eagle 26 July 1852 Deaths

Weekly Eagle (Brattleboro, Vermont), 26 July 1852, page 3

I was hoping to find more information about Sawyer, so I kept on looking around in the obituary archives.

Then I found another obituary for him, this one published in a New York newspaper. It gives us more of the details of his life, like the name of the ship he served on, the date it sailed—and even the fact that his ancestors served in the American Revolutionary War.

Plattsburgh Republican 24 July 1852 George Foster Sawyer

Plattsburgh Republican (Plattsburgh, New York), 24 July 1852, page 3

It turns out his obituary was picked up by newspapers up and down the coast, each giving a little bit more information than the short Vermont obituary.

Genealogy Tip: Keep digging in the obituary archives—don’t limit your search to just the hometown area of the deceased. Obituaries can be published in newspapers you would never expect, far from where your ancestor lived or died.

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