Recently, I did research on a brick wall female ancestor. Sarah Freeman was my fourth-great-grandmother on my father’s side of the family. She was the wife of John Freeman from southern Indiana. I happened to stumble upon a record that helped me to discover the connection to her first husband, John Quakenbush. In the end it also took me to her maiden name, Foote. (Read more about my discovery of Sarah Foote.)
I’m pretty sure her father was John Foote from Dublin, Ireland. John, according to the story, was pressed into service for the British Army during the Revolutionary War. I questioned this at first because I was certain that only the Navy used press gangs. Searching online, however, I discovered the British Army used press gangs for a brief time in the late 1770s. Press gangs weren’t successful in the Army like they were in the Navy—it’s harder to escape from a boat at sea than a land-based fort.
It was interesting to read from a genealogy book on the Foote family which battles John stated he fought in as a British solider. He fought in all the battles under Cornwallis except for Yorktown, which occurred while he was in a hospital in Charleston, South Carolina. If that statement was true, he would have fought at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. Keep this battle in mind.
Fast forward one week.
I received in the mail color copies of the declaration my fifth-great-grandfather Edward Darnell Arvin, or Harvin, gave to the Loudon County, Va., court stating that he was a Revolutionary War soldier deserving a pension. It’s a fascinating document: It states where he was from, what battles he was in, and even inventories items of value from his house. According to his pension records on fold3, Edward volunteered to be part of the Maryland Line and enlisted under Col. McPherson.
These courthouse records contained a list of the wounds he received while fighting which I found very interesting—either because I’m a biologist or because my mother is an Army surgeon (I’m not sure which motivates me to have these unusual fascinations with medicine). Edward stated in the deposition that he:
“Received 4 wounds, one through the left shoulder with a spontoon at the Battle of Camden, two at Guilford Court House, one on the hip and the other in the back, one at the Eastern Springs.”
Did you catch that? Two wounds at Guildford Courthouse. The same battle that my other fifth-great-grandfather would have fought in on the American side. That sent me back to look through both sets of records again. Reading over Edward’s statements, and then comparing that battle list to the ones John Foote potentially was in, showed that my ancestors could have fought each other on several occasions. It is amazing to me that my 5th great grandfathers could have been firing at each other that whole time.
Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Shannon Bennett of Locust Grove, Va.
Get help finding your own Revolutionary War ancestors and relatives who fought in other wars:
- US Military Records four-week online course
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- Military Research Guide CD